Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 2 of Our 5 Week Transfer


Dear Family,
 
First off, thank you to all of you who have sent letters of love and support. I am getting so far behind in writing to all of you, but I will do it. For now, here is a shoutout to you wonderful souls that I love so much: Jenepher (I can't wait to see pictures of baby Enok, he is going to be the most gorgeous baby), Ashley Chamberlin, Alex Hoffman, Grandma and Grandpa Parker, Kathy Mills and Lisa Dalgren, Heather Holdsworth, and Rosemary Burnach, and Sister Meeks (MTC district rules)! I am so blessed to have so many people in my life who love and support me, and share the same values as me. What a gift.
 
Sister Laalaai and I have been very blessed this week, and if last week was a test of our faith, we are seeing the fruits this week. We were able to teach 3 new people and 1 of them already has a baptismal date. His name is Marcus, and this man is so prepared. He is really good friends with a member that used to live in the area, and this friend has been with him throughout all of Marcus's trials. His most recent trial was the death of his 2-year-old son. They had the funeral mid-December, and life has just started slowing down for them recently. 

We had our first two appointments with him this week. One of his sons participated in the first discussion, and the Spirit was totally the teacher. The love of their 2-year-old son and brother, Caden, was felt, and I was honored to feel that love and express that love to Marcus and his son. We taught the plan of salvation and both agreed with everything we taught. Two days later we had another lesson with Marcus, and we went over the message of the restoration. When the time felt right to extend a baptismal date, Marcus readily accepted. He said, "If that (March 2nd) is when the Lord wants me to be baptized, then I'll be baptized." He is a man of such faith. 

We are all praying that his family will want to listen to the discussions and make the commitments we are helping Marcus with. His goal is for his whole family to belong to the same church, and they have a large family (18)!!! I'm really impressed with this man and his desire to  follow Chirst and belong to His Church. His friend, Patrick, left him a promise that if he and his son read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truthfulness and the truthfulness of our message, the Lord will reveal its validity. I know that to be true. I have done it myself and the answer always comes back the same: YES.
 
We had an interesting lesson with David Lewis this week, our 3rd new investigator. He is agnostic, and going through a divorce. His wife just basically left him, and we felt impressed to bring a sister in our ward with us, first because we knew she went through a nasty divorce earlier in life. Well, come to find out during the lesson that this woman was David's history teacher his sophomore year! He even repented of a past sin where he cheated on a project. That was funny! The Lord has such a sense of humor. We testified to David that what happened was evidence God loves him. He seems very open and wants to read the Book of Mormon to really know if what we are saying is true. I hope he can feel the power of the atonement in his life as he goes through this difficult time.
 
Sadly, Pat and Val are not progressing, and they stopped coming to church and won't keep any appointments with us. We decided that our time would be better spent finding those who are ready to receive the gospel, so we dropped them and 4 others who are not keeping any commitments. It's really hard letting these people go, people who we have prayed so much for and love, but it is necessary to do sometimes. I have to forgive Pat still for keeping Val away from embracing the gospel as she wants, and I just pray that when she is older and can make her own decisions she chooses to join the church. 

As for Austin and Desiree, they are doing really well. Austin had a cold this week (half of San B is sick) so we canceled our appointment, but he came to church and loved it! He prayed about Feb 16th and feels that it is too soon, so we are going to let him decide a date that works for him. Desiree is still gung-ho for Feb 23rd, and she is making friends in the ward. We brought her to church because her ride bailed (I know, that was bad, and I repented of it). She really likes church and agrees with everything we teach her. These souls are so prepared. I know that if they keep reading, praying, and fighting Satan, their baptisms will become a reality.
 
Haven't been able to get hold of Amy; she's been sick as well, and we may be dropping her if she continues to cancel appointments, which is really sad. Here is a woman who was so excited to be baptized, had a baptismal date back in November, and then let doubt and fear, and anti-Mormon websites cloud her vision. Those websites are purely evil, and Satan is real. I've learned that we have to help our investigators be aware from the beginning that opposition will come as they start to accept the gospel. Then they can prepare and we can help them before they let the devil in. What Kim Berkey talked about is so true, we can't let our eye of faith wander away from the Savior. What a wonderful analogy. I may use it when we teach the atonement :)

Another highlight happened on Sunday this week. We were visiting part members and less actives, and stopped at the Dennehey's door. Sister Dennehey is a member, but her sons are less active and her husband is not interested. We visited with her and laughed, and talked about the power of the atonement. She blames herself over her kids' inactivity because she used to be less active. We testified that Christ can make all the difference. We just have to be willing to repent and forgive ourselves. That's the hardest part really-- forgiving ourselves. As we visited and asked Sister Dennehey if there was anything we could do for her, she just replied, "This visit was it." Bringing a smile to one of  Heavenly Father's children made the cold, rain, and lack of appointments that night all worth it. Heavenly Father knew where we needed to be, and I'm so glad we were impressed to visit the Dennehey's.

I'm learning that the most important aspect of missionary work is having the Spirit. Without it we don't know where to go, what to do, or what to say. In district meeting this week we focused on those three essential questions, and I've made it a personal goal to ask for help in those three areas daily. There is a difference. I'm more receptive of what the Spirit would have me do and say, and where He would have us go. If that means we need to visit a member, then so be it. The Lord knows who needs rescuing. And we still had plenty to time to testify of Christ to those who do not yet know him. With the Lord, when we put Him first, all other things get done.

One of my goals this transfer is to develop the Christlike attribute of humility. It's been humbling, ha ha, to recognize pride within myself. I've had a lot of pride about my emotions and anxiety, and it's taken a lot to give it to the Lord and actually take the advice of fellow friends, leaders, doctors, and most especially, my Father. Humility is a daily decision, and something that, as I pray for it, I know the  Lord will help me develop.

We are doing great as a companionship, and taking the advice of our ward mission leader and getting to know the silly little details about each other. I have come to really love and know Sister Laalaai. She is amazing!

And, as I tell myself every day that I am a daughter of God, I'm realizing that I am amazing too.
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills

(She included this picture in honor of her friend, Mandy Faucett):



Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Companion!


Dear Family,
 
Hola! There isn't much time but I'll give you a brief synopsis of the week, and it's been incredible. I feel so much love from my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I think one of the reasons is because I started this transfer out right--with evaluating myself and focusing on one Christlike attribute I want to improve on: humility. And, Sister Laalaai and myself set transfer goals together. I've never done that before with previous companions, and it really makes a difference when you do. I'm converted to writing down goals!


(This was a super windy day)

 
My new companion is awesome! Her name is Sister Laalaai, and she is from Western Samoa. This is her first time in the States, and she's been on her mission for a year. We are both co-senior, and we are just loving our time together. We laugh all the time, share our deepest desires, and the Lord is revealing to us how to help our investigators daily. She is so chill, and her aura is amazing for my personality. It's like I'm back in New Zealand with the Maori people again. I love the polynesian culture, they are so special. It's weird without Sister Bowen here, but the Lord is helping us to find our way around San B and He is helping me to remember how to do things! YAY!!! Sister Bowen left a great legacy, and I hope that we can build the ward trust so we can carry on her legacy.
 
The ward is still so wonderful, and I think as we helped some of our primary presidency with their visits this week, we gained more trust. And we found out some more women who could come with us to teach! It's been such a blessing to have members with us in lessons, or even if they fall through, just to get to know them better, and for them to get to know us better. I'm still getting to know people. It was so funny, this Sunday 2 older gentlemen in the ward asked if I was a new missionary. We just hadn't met in the past 6 weeks, ha ha. Brother Moody is being so helpful, and we got to know him even better. He is so funny, and reminds me a lot of you, Dad. And yes, I tease him a lot, and like to punch his arm, especially when he brings up his wife's past beaus and teases her. Sound familiar, daddy? :D
 
We had some incredible miracles. 

One was on Friday with Austin, our new investigator from last week. We read 3 Nephi 11 together, and he took wonderful notes and asked amazing questions. He truly wants to know about our Church and if it is true. His main concern right now is that all his friends go to another Christian church, so we are going to get some priests over for our next lesson. Got to get them ready for missions yo. Austin accepted a baptism date for February 16th, and he seems really excited. He is reading the Book of Mormon and wants to learn more about the priesthood. It'll be a good lesson on Friday.

(Worn out from tracting)
 

We met some potentials this week, while tracting, which is a miracle in itself, and though we have sore feet, our hearts are happy to be doing the Lord's work. 

Amy is still feeling the spirit and really wants to know for herself. She's asking the Lord about Joseph Smith, and I think she's getting answers. We weren't able to meet with her this week, but we saw her briefly after church, and she's doing well. 

Valerie is probably going to have to wait a while to be baptized. Her mom is just not having it anymore, and Pat wants us only to go through him with church things. She's been really pressured by her mom to do extra homework and stuff, so we are just going to teach her and invite her to mutual, but not bring up baptism until she is ready. It's going to have to come from her. She is so desirous to be baptized, and we saw that this Saturday, but the time may not be right. 

Marcus came to church on Sunday, and participated and loved the priesthood class! We are hopefully going to have a lesson with him on Wednesday. So far we've shared scriptures with him and listened to him. His son Caden's death has hit his wife and him really hard. He still acknowledges God in all  things, and he is reading the Book of Mormon. I am really impressed with him. 

Braden Soper went to mutual (they went to a hockey game) and of course loved it! He doesn't know if he will keep going to mutual, but they may try church sometime. No word yet from the father, but we are praying that one day we can teach him. 

And last, Desiree had her baby, and Isaiah is doing well. He keeps mommy up a lot, and she is recovering still from her c-section, but is still very happy and interested in the church. We offered her a meal and she was so grateful for that. The ward just jumped on it too. This ward is amazing!
 
Jody has been busy helping her aunt, who's having a lot of hallucinations, but she seems happy and is feeling more guidance in her life after recieving the Holy Ghost.

(Sister Laalaai and I with Wysdom at her baptism) 

And, we were so blessed this Sunday to go to a baptism for a woman Sister Stacey and I taught a few times, Wysdom. It was wonderful to see her enter the waters of baptism and take upon herself covenants that will lead her back to her Heavenly Father. The spirit was really strong at that service.
 
Well, I have to go, but know I love you all and pray for you daily. And yes Mom, I would love some quotes each email, I love quotes :) Thanks!
 
*Part of my letter to President:
 
Some of the miracles this week include those just for me, and others with the work. I'll share one miracle just about me. I've started a routine in the bathroom where I tell myself out loud that I am a daughter of God, repeated 3 times (my favorite number). This has brought more power and love for myself than anything else, including other's compliments of me. I was feeling great this week and wondering when the bad times were going to hit and how I would react. Well, Friday brought some news that could have really blown my self esteem and tempted me to be really depressed, but as I got the news, I kept repeating to myself "I am a daughter of God" and I literally felt love envelop me. I'm starting to realize that it doesn't matter what others think of me, what matters is what God thinks of me, and I'm going to admit, He thinks I'm pretty great. Now, I know that I have a long way to go to be the woman he expects of me, but He's pleased with my efforts thus far. That was a miracle to feel that love.
 
One miracle that happened this week in regards to the work was while we were tracting Saturday. We tried a potential and they weren't home, and though it wasn't in our plans, we just tracted the whole street the potential was on. Most doors yeilded nothing, but when we got to the last house on the corner, the man washing his car greeted us with a nice smile. As we got to talking he told us he was agnostic but his wife was Christian and would probably be interested in our message. Then he said that she doesn't live there, as they are going through a divorce. We thought that our conversation was over, but then this man, David, surprised us by saying, "I love history, so if you want to teach me about the history, I'll listen to you." We jumped on that quick, and set up a return appointment. It's amazing how as we got to know him and share our testimonies with him and our interests, he opened up to us. I know the spirit was guiding him and that we were led to him. Miracles are everywhere!
350 baptisms (our mission goal for baptisms by July)
 
Love,
Sister Allison MIlls

Monday, January 14, 2013

Priorities

Dear Family,


While Sister Bowen was attending the departing devotional, I got to spend a few hours with Sister Schott and Willis. We had a really good companion study and relaxing party. Sister Schott explained to me how we should set priorities. Number 1 always is God--if it brings us closer to Him, we have to put that first, because then He can bless us with opportunities and time to do the other priorities. When we don't put Him first, we lose the blessings. Then, we should do the things that bring us closer to our family. Education comes third, and last is recreation. 

So often it is easy to just focus on one aspect, and a lot of times, at least for me at school, it was education. The balance wasn't there. While I've been on this mission, I have seen the blessings that come on the days I do put the Lord first and follow the Spirit--the other tasks always get done better. I've seen how the other missionaries enjoy their missions and are learning to prioritize and how happy they are. I am deciding today to be more grateful. So for the rest of the emails, I am going to always include something that I'm so grateful for, and my testimony.
 
This week I am grateful for Jody. Our prayer was answered and she was baptized on Saturday. What a beautiful baptism it was. Her closest friends were there, and the Spirit was so strong. Jody is so excited to be a Mormon! It was a lovely baptism.  The picture included was taken with Jody, Brother Larsen (1st counselor in the bishopric), and us. What a wonderful way to end a mission, too, for Sister Bowen. She's done such good in this area, and brought many souls to Christ, and I'm happy for her that she was able to see Jody baptized.


 
I know the Lord lives. I know families can be forever, and that we are all children of God. We are put on this earth to learn and grow. I know that the atonement is real. Only through Christ can we be changed, but we have to be willing. I know that once we are willing to change miracles happen. I've seen it in others, and I know that I can change too. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!


Dear Family,

We had a crazy good week! Prayers were answered, and most of the time in ways not expected. One involved an insurance card (look in the letter to president for details). Some of the highlights happened the latter end of the week. Wednesday on. We were so lucky to have another temple trip, this time with all the sisters, for our last sisters activity. This is probably the smallest you'll see the sisters ever again! We filled up a session, and it was really wonderful to just be with all these sisters that I love and admire. 



Okay, now for the investigators--those that make all this worth it.
 
Juanita- she really wanted to come to church, and we had an awesome lesson with her, but sadly, Sunday came, and no Juanita. If only these people would come! That's how their questions can be answered.

Pat and Valerie--We had a member from our congregation come with us to Pat's lesson, and it was amazing what we learned from each other. Pat and Bro. Anderson mostly talked, and we just listened as Pat recounted things from his past, and his feelings of loneliness. Right now Pat is just going to church and reading and praying for Val. I hope one day Pat will realize there are no normal people in the church and that all that he is hearing at church and from us is for him too. Valerie loves Young Women's and has some great friends. She may have to wait a while for baptism, but as her mom sees her commitment to the church, I think hearts will soften. We plan on giving Val a personal progress book and For the Strength of Youth so she can share what she is learning with her mom. The ward members are really supportive with helping Val progress and in building that relationship with her mom.

Desiree-a new investigator! Yay! We tracted into her a few weeks ago when we met Misty and Braden, and finally had a first lesson with her. She actually was going to the LDS church with her Grandma in Ontario and had a baptism date, but after moving back to San B, communication was lost. We had a really good chat about the restoration and she is all for getting baptized! We set a baptism date for the 22nd of February, and she is excited. Really wants to learn, and is keeping those commitments. She's 18 and really sweet.

Braden and Misty-We had a wonderful first lesson with them, and Misty really likes the idea of the youth program in the church and the Boy Scouts. We may have to wait a while for his dad's permission, but the seed was planted and I think that Braden is going to be coming to Mutual soon.

Marcus-his baby boy's funeral was Friday, and we haven't had a chance to see him or his family since last Sunday, but the ward is really fellowshipping them. Our Relief Society president and some others made spaghetti dinner to feed the entire family! It went really well, we heard, and they really appreciated it. Patrick, the one who referred us to Marcus, and Marcus's good friend, knows that Marcus is ready to hear more about the gospel. We hope to see him this week, and maybe as he starts keeping those commitments, his family will too. They are so fun and respectful. A lot of his kids are in commercials, and are all really friendly. We haven't gottten to know them too well, but we do know that Marcus and our High Priest's group leader love the Redskins, so they are going to be best buds. Oh, football.
 
We got a chance today to climb Mormon Rocks (a beautiful hike on the way to Victorville), and take some great pictures. 



Attached to the other email is a picture of some of our zone. I didn't go down the hill really fast, but I got to know another elder better (zone unity), and it was a wonderful way to start a P-Day! It's so sad, Sister Bowen's last P-Day is today :( This transfer has flown by! I pray we get a really good sister, because Sister Bowen is amazing!
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills
  
Here is my letter to President:
 
Dear President,

Some amazing miracles happened this week that I want to tell you about first. On Friday, I lost my insurance card, and had no idea where it was. After a few hours of looking to no avail, we decided it was time to get out and work. That night was actually full of miracles. First, we felt impressed to try a potential investigator, Glen. I suggested 3 doors down, and we came across Troy. His ex-wife is a Mormon and his kids are too. He lives with his brother and sister-in-law who are both less active. We talked to him a little about the restoration and he said we could come back. I'm excited to see what happens this week when we try him. It was getting around dinnertime, and sadly Glen didn't answer. But we both felt we needed to see an investigator, and it was so crazy, Juanita let us in! We had a really good lesson about the Book of Mormon, its background and history, and praying to know if the book is true. She asked an insightful question about what it is going to be like when Christ comes again, and Sister Bowen told her that was the topic for Sunday School this week. So, we explained church services and she committed to come with her family. It was such a wonderful lesson, and dinner was well worth the wait.

Another miracle involved a new investigator this week, Desiree. She was taught by missionaries before and even had a baptism date! Well, she moved to San Bernardino, and missionaries lost contact. We got to really know her and explained more about the restoration. She knew a lot of the points already and asked some great questions. We committed her to be baptized on February 22nd and she agreed. At first she was like, "That's really soon," but after a little thought she agreed wholeheartedly. And she's reading too! Our task is to contact her often, keep teaching her, and to find those friends she needs at church. I'll admit, it's so daunting. I'm praying more now then ever before for help with the things I have to do and what I need to say. Prayers do work--just on the Lord's time.

The insurance card is a good analogy of discovering our investigators' concerns. By Sunday I had made a plan of how I was going to work everything out with that, because everywhere I thought it could be, it wasn't there. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something buried in a place I hadn't looked, and lo and behold, the insurance card was there! Heavenly Father has an interesting sense of humor. Just like with our investigators, sometimes we can't figure out their concerns, but Heavenly Father knows them and how we can help them. We just have to pray, listen, and then look for clues. The answers are always there. Just when we want to give up, the concerns come out and we have a better idea of how to help them. Now, the card analogy doesn't work for agency, but you get the point :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Week 5!

Dear Family,

I'm glad you all are home safe and sound and the kitties are purring nicely again. Our P-Day is today again since today is the last sisters' activity for this mission, and what better way to end it than going to the temple! Last week was wonderful, and yes, Jason, I do feel a little nostalgic when I'm in there. I remember all those trips to the Redlands temple on Sundays; some of my favorite memories. 

Some highlights from the week because there isn't much time sadly, since we have to go in 10 minutes to travel to the temple and then the rest of our day is booked with appointments :D   

Jody and Marshal got to go to Florida and enjoy a Christmas vacation with their extended family. We haven't been able to talk with them, but Jody and hopefully Marshal are still planning on being baptized on the 12th, a few  days before Sister Bowen departs. I hope it happens so she can have a final baptism before she leaves! 

Brother Moody is getting really organized, and I was able to get some more practice in teaching the plan of salvation with some of his children and grandchildren yesterday. They are starting to come back to church. 

Sister Bowen and I helped another sister in our ward clean her garage before she left with her daughter to take her to BYU-I, and right before that we felt impressed to go see a Lindsey Shepherd listed in the ward. It was Brother and Sister Shepherd's daughter, from the Woodcrest ward. Mom, Dad, I'm sure you remember them. She said we could come back after the holidays. She's married but her husband's not a member, I think, and we haven't seen her at church. Maybe this is the time for her and her husband to come back. 

Also, we may have a potential family of 18, yep 18, who are interested in the church. I'll tell the story next week...

Yes, Sister Bowen goes home next week :( She is so competent and I'm really going to miss her. Whoever comes in has big shoes to fill. 

There's a lot on my mind, but no time. It was wonderful seeing you all on Christmas! Glad you helped Grandma and Grandpa so much--I want to be able to do that too for you all as I grow up. I love you all, and will write more next week. I'll keep Cortney Smith in my prayers.

Love,
Sister Allison Mills

(And here are some pictures she sent home. They were helping the YW in their ward make gingerbread houses.)


The YW and their leaders



Allison with hers



Sister Bowen with hers


(And one more thing to share: her video of the Elders performing the "Haka" a month or so ago. This was the traditional Maori war dance that Jason based one of his Sister Mills cartoons on)



video