"The Valley of the Cupped Hand of God"
The city of San Bernardino was founded in 1851 by a group of devout Mormon colonists, who had traveled from Salt Lake City and felt called by God to settle in this California inland valley.
Prior to their arrival, indigenous tribes must have also felt there was something special about the region for they referred to the area as "The Valley of the Cupped Hand of God." The Tongva Indians saw the immense Arrowhead geological formation on the side of the San Bernardino Mountains, and it led them to discover the famous hot and cold springs. Indeed, according to the Native American legend, an arrow from heaven burned the formation onto the mountainside, pointing the direction tribes should follow to find the curative waters where they could be healed.
Unfortunately, only six years after the Mormons had settled there, most of these members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had to return to Utah to help fight in the Utah War and their absence was soon felt. According to a story by John Weeks published on October 1, 2011 in The San Bernardino Sun:
"San Bernardino was thrown into chaos. Those Mormons who obeyed the order, and it was more than half the city's population, were obliged to hastily sell their homes and lands at sacrificial prices. Opportunists and scavengers, who were more and more in abundance in those frontier days, moved in to take advantage. They joined with the 'apostate' Mormons who chose to stay, in defiance of their church, to form a volatile new population. In almost no time, San Bernardino became a Wild West town of the most rip-roaring variety."
Over the next eighteen months, Sister Mills will join other LDS missionaries in bringing the gospel back to those in this valley and surrounding areas whose hearts are ready to receive the gospel.
Located 65 miles east of Los Angeles, where Sister Mills was born, and practically next door to Riverside (where she spent 13 years of her childhood and adolescence), San Bernardino today serves as one of the Inland Empire's anchor cities. The city boasted a population of 209,924 back in 2010, and is the 17th largest city in California (and the 99th largest in the whole of the United States).
Besides San Bernardino, her mission includes: Rancho Cucamonga (where the mission headquarters are), Ontario, Upland, Bloomington, Fontana, Alta Loma, Grand Terrace, Redlands (where the nearest temple is located), Colton, Rialto, Mount Baldy, Devore, Crestline, Running Springs, Big Bear Lake, Big Bear City, Cajon, Cushenbury, Wrightwood, Pinon Hills, Phelan, Hesperia, Lucerne Valley, Apple Valley, Victorville, El Mirage, Adelanto, Bell Mountain, La Delta, Helendale, Hodge, Fremont, Jimgrey, Lockheart, Hinkley, Barstow, Yermo, Goldstone, Fort Irwin, Manix, Newberry Springs, Pisgah, Cronese Valley, Broadwell, Ludlow, Baker, Balch, Klondike, Glasgow, Bagdad, Kelso, Rainbow Wells, Chase, Joshua, Wheaton Springs, Barnwell, Lanfair, and Nipton (right near the Nevada border).
The climate doesn't differ much from that of her hometown, though it can get pretty cold in the high desert and in the mountains with plenty of chances for snow in the winter.
As for the people she's likely to meet and teach: They will range widely, covering many different ethnic backgrounds. And we don't doubt that she will soon learn to love them all.