Monday, April 28, 2014

Question of the Week

The other day I was asked a very simple question but it really make me stop and think. "Sister Miller, why did you decide to serve a mission?" Instantly a million things went running through my head. I remembered my first EFY camp when I was 14 years old where I bore my testimony and said with a surety, "I will go on a mission when I grow up!" I remembered seeing all the sister missionaries in the Kaw River ward and wanting to be just like them someday. I remembered thinking how amazing it would be to help people learn of this Gospel and the blessings that come from it. But as I grew up, the thought of a mission slowly slipped my mind. I will admit that as I went off to college, I thought that if I waited until I was 21 to serve a mission that would mean that I wouldn't get back until I was 22 or 23 and by that time all the cute guys would DEFINITELY be married!! :) Little by little, I started to lose the passion I once had to serve a mission. 

 Then came October 6, 2012, when President Thomas S. Monson lowered the age of service for full-time sister missionaries from 21 to 19. At this exciting moment I was...... asleep in bed! My roommate and I had both slept through our alarms to wake up for the Saturday morning session of General Conference but there was no way for us to sleep through the screaming that was going on out in the hall of our dorm. I remembered waking up to shrieks and girls yelling, "Did you hear?" and "Can you believe it?" I thought a natural disaster had hit or Jimmer Fredette was back in town! Soon I was out of bed and informed of the age change. That was the moment that changed everything. I know a lot of girls who instantly started filling out their mission papers without a second thought. For me, it took more time. That morning I received about 100 texts from my family, friends, and church leaders, all wanting to know what I was going to do. All of a sudden, I was being asked to make a decision I thought I had years to figure out. I remember sitting there, watching the announcement on my laptop, and crying. I didn't know in that moment if I was going to serve a mission but I knew right then that if I did serve a mission, I didn't want it to be because of pressure from other people. If I was going to serve, I needed to know it was what I wanted and what my Heavenly Father wanted. 

 So I didn't start my papers instantly. I didn't tell people what I was going to do instantly. I started taking the steps for me to know again without any doubt that this was Heavenly Father's plan for me. I started going to the temple weekly. I prayed constantly. I took a mission prep class. It was time to go home for the summer and I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. I remember wanting to get a big revelation, an un-doubtable affirmative response. I wanted a sign. It never came. I thought maybe that meant I wasn't suppose to serve a mission. Maybe it wasn't the right thing for me after all. I decided to give it one last shot. I went to the temple and just sat inside, thinking. I knew that if there was one place where I would get an answer, the temple was it. So there I was, pondering, praying, waiting. Then it came to me. Not a sign, not a miracle, but a little thought. As I sat there I remembered Heavenly Father had already given me a sign. He already helped me make up my mind. I had been preparing to go on a mission since I was 14 years old. Every decision I made, every trial I went through, built me up in preparation to serve the Lord. Why, in the moment to make the decision, was I doubting? My decision was already made. I knew I was meant to put on that black name tag and devote all my time and attention to serving my Father in Heaven. 

 Looking back on the whole experience makes me think that no matter what happens out here in the 'Peens, no matter how hot it is, or how many people reject us, I know that this is what I'm suppose to be doing. Sometimes I don't know why I was called to serve here but, like Joseph Smith said, "I made this my rule: when the Lord commands, do it!" I know that this is a personal commandment from the Lord so I'm doing my best to fulfill His expectations of me everyday! I love you all and am so thankful for your support! Love, Sister Miller

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!!!

Friends, Comrades, Countrymen....

This week, like all the others, has been crazy, amazing, hard, delicious, and many other verbose adjectives. 

So it was Holy Week here and man, was it crazy! They have a lot of traditions here for Holy Week so it was pretty cool to see everything. They had a lot of parades and have booths on every street with a statue of Christ where someone sits singing scriptures 24 hours a day, all week. They also have reenactments. All week there have been people carrying huge crosses around. On Good Friday, there are hundreds of people who form a processional and walk to the catholic church.  They have no shirts on and whip themselves with whips that have razors attached to the ends. It was very bloody and very gruesome. They also have some people who volunteer to be crucified. As in truly crucified, with nails and all. 

If there is one thing that I took away from this week, it is how thankful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The people here do all of these reenactments as a way of repentance. I am so happy to know that Christ went through all of that so that we wouldn't have to. I know that our process of repentance is an internal one and is personal between us and the Lord. I know that Christ suffered for our sins individually, that He knows my name and knows your name.  I know that it is never too late to repent and that Christ's arm is stretched out still, waiting patiently for us turn to him. I know that it is all because of Him that we are able to return to live with our Father in Heaven.

I love spreading this message to all and love this work I have been called to do!

I love you all! Happy Easter!

Sister Miller

P.S.  Sorry my letter is super short this week but I've got a really good one in the works for next week!  Until then enjoy this picture.....

I forgot what this little goodie is called but it's an oyster-like thing. It's really cheap and only poor people eat it. Some drunk ladies offered it to us while we were walking by. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love is the Answer

Another week, another email, a whole lot has happened!

My companion went home on Monday. Her time had come and her mission was done! Sister Gonzales was so excited, like a little kid in a toy store, or if you prefer, a bunch of Mormon teenagers in a toy store, the latter being equal in excitement! Anyways after she left, I was without a companion until Wednesday. On Monday, I went and worked with other sisters in my zone. I went to Sister Garrett and Sister 'Ete'aki's (two sisters from my MTC district) apartment and had a last party before transfers. I worked with Sister Garrett and her companion Sister Hausia. We all had Family Home Evening at the Branch Mission Leaders house. We played a game where the punishment was lipstick on the face if you messed up, my idea! Everyone had a great time, including myself!

Wednesday rolled around and I got my new companion, Sister Salelesi. She is from Samoa and is only six weeks behind me in the mission. At first, she had a really hard time adjusting to this area but now she is well and I think we will do a lot of good work here.

We watched General Conference this week and I loved it! I really loved President Monson's talk about loving everyone despite your differences. I know that love is the most important thing we can cultivate here on earth. Sometimes it's just so dang hard to love people, but I would bet those are the people who need our love the most. I really strove to be one of those people who was friends with everyone in high school and college. I know it made me such a happier person! When we take out judging people based on what people look like or what others say about them we can really see others as children of God and our brothers and sisters. I remember a quote about replacing selfish striving with selfless service. I know that as we do than, not only will we be helping others here but we will be unconsciously helping ourselves find more joy in this life and in the life to come. As one of my favorite people, Ellen DeGeneres says, 'Be nice to one another."

Sister Miller

My St. Patrick's Day box finally arrived...three weeks late due to customs.
Thanks for the best boxes, Mom!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fond Farewells

This week was full of fun!! First, on Monday we went to the mission home for an all mission activity. I was so much fun to see everyone from my old zone! We had a spiritual devotional where all the missionaries who were leaving this transfer got up and spoke. My companion, Sister Gonzales, was one of them! My first two Zone Leaders, Elder Cosman and Elder Kidd, are leaving as well. I really looked up to those missionaries and it's weird to see them going home! After the devotional, we all changed and started playing games such as basketball, Frisbee, soccer...whatever you wanted really. Later, for lunch, President brought out this roasted pig and just started chopping it up! Man, President is a funny guy! He chopped off the head and started talking to sister missionaries through it. He then proceeded to act like he was going to take a huge bite out of it! After lunch, we had a mission wide game. It was the northern zones verses the southern zones in some kind of a capture the flag/tag game with water balloons. Needless to say it soon just became a huge water balloon fight. I was soaked!!!! It was soooo much fun especially because it is so flippin' hot here!

President Q loves lechon baboy!

MTC District Reunion -- so fun!
Then on Wednesday we had Mission Leadership Council at the mission home. I love going to MLC because it's always SUPER spiritual and I get to see all my STL friends! I'm still the youngest one there (by mission age) and it's weird to think that I will still be going to MLC when they are all home! Elder Cosman said something that I really loved. He said "the mission may not have been the best two years of my life, but it sure was the best two years for my life!" That is so true. The time spent on the mission will shape who you are for the rest of your life. I wouldn't trade this time for anything, even if it isn't the best year and a half of my life. (Which I may argue that it is, to date!) While at MLC I got all my mail from the past couple of weeks and would just like to give a personal shout out to Grandma Vada and Mallorie Isom for the solid stream of hand written letters! There is a special place in heaven for those who write letters to the missionaries!

Orion Zone!

I love these sisters!
Then on Thursday we had weekly planning, My companion was so excited that it was her last weekly planning! She was giddy all day :) 

The last zone meeting for Sister Gonzales!
Friday was exchanges! I flippin' love exchanges!! I went to work with Sister Almarez and had a great day! I love seeing other areas! On Saturday we went to the furthest point in her area. We took a trike there but had to walk back because it's super remote so trikes don't just roam there waiting for riders. We walked for about 40 minutes through rice fields to get back! I was carrying all of my stuff because we were going straight to my area for the Women's Conference broadcast. It was all worth it when we got to the chapel and started watching the conference! I loved it so much! I love Rosemary M. Wixom so obviously, I was excited to see her as the first speaker! All of the speakers where awesome and it just got me pumped for watching General Conference next weekend! 

On Sunday we had soooo many less actives at church, and three new investigators whom we haven't even taught yet came as well! It was definitely a miracle!! 

This morning my companion left for home :( Her time was up here in Olongapo!! She was so excited to go home but it was bittersweet for the both of us! I will be working with different missionaries until transfer day when I'll get my new companion! 

Farewell, Elder Kidd!

Goodbye, Sister Gonzales!

And then there were three....:-(

I love this work so much and know this church and Gospel are true! I love being a missionary and am excited to work my hardest to help others come unto Christ! I love you all!!

-Sister Miller

Here's a little post script for everyone:  
Have you ever wondered what's INSIDE balut?  Well, Sister 'Ete'aki and I decided to find out!! Yep, we still ate it :)