Monday, June 30, 2014

Fun and Firecrackers!

Hello Everyone!

You know, missionaries work really hard everyday so we try to insert a little comic relief whenever we can and this week was no different!

It all started on Wednesday. This wasn't just any was Wacky Wednesday! We went through all these old clothes other Sisters had left behind. Now these clothes just weren't old, they were all so dang ugly!! We started putting them on and we looked... well, we look horrendous!I dared Sister Hart to wear something out of the box to work in. She, in turn, dared me. I'm sure you've all figured out by now that I'm not one to turn down a dare so we both picked outfits for each other and out the door we went. We picked a theme of animal prints. I was zebra print and she was cheetah print. The first comment Sister Hart got was some random little girl screaming at her "pangit!" (which means ugly) and a little boy calling her a bukla (or a cross dresser/gay). I didn't think she looked that bad! I, on the other hand, got compliments about how "maganda" or beautiful I looked. It was a nice boost to my confidence...HA!

Maganda, eh???
Then came Thursday when Sister Ete and I got home a little early and decided to have a little bit of fun. We got into the apartment, turned off all the lights and waited for the other sisters. We had heaps of baby powder in our hands. As soon as the other sisters unlocked the door, I jumped out and screamed "PRANK WAR!" and blew the baby powder at them. I got Sister Hart really good so she started chasing me in the apartment with a dirty mop that had been on the porch. Now the lights were off and we couldn't see anything. It was chaos!! Electric fans were falling, toes were being stubbed on desks, and there was a whole lot of screaming!! It was so. much. FUN! 
Armed , ready, and waiting!!!
Then we decided to have a little family home evening. It was all nice and peaceful until we got to the games part. Of course if there are games, there is a punishment when you get out. This punishment was to draw a part on your face with a marker.  Eventually the marker stopped working. Sister Manilingan handed me a new Sharpee to draw on Sister Hart's face. Now Sister Manilingan wasn't aware that Sharpees are perminent, but I sure was! It was payback time for that dirty mop in my face! (Let me just interject here that the next day all of our faces were marker free!) I drew half of a mustache on Sister Hart's face seeing as the other half had already been completed! When she realized that I was using a Sharpee, she grabbed it away from me, and she and Sister Ete tried to pin me down to draw on my face. Luckily, I have Chase for a little brother so all those times running away from him and getting out of him pinning me down really paid off! Those two Polys couldn't hold me down! I escaped but later let them draw all over my face with eyeliner...ya know, just to be fair and stuff. 

I'll get you, my pretty!
Unibrowed and moustachioed!!!
On Friday, we had exchanges and I got to work with Sister Manilingan. We had a great time and I even got her to run on the hanging bridge. Well, it was more of a fast walk, but it was raining so I gave her the title of bridge runner anyway! 

Sister Manilingan - bridge runner!
As we worked we were able to visit my favorite family, the Dandays.  People say that you are assigned to a specific area at a specific time in order to help someone only you can help. Well, for me, it's the Dandays! They were about to give up on the missionaries but felt like they should let them come and teach one last time. That time was my first day in the area. I don't know why or how but the family and I just make an instant connection. They started to take the lessons serious and really wanted to know if the Gospel was true. They started to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true. They will be baptized in July. The mom really opened up to me about this during one visit, and by the end we were both in tears. She was just thanking me for all I have done for her. I honestly didn't think I had such an effect on them, but now I know for a fact that Heavenly Father places us in other people's paths for a reason. I will never forget this family! They have two little girls and a little boy on the way. And here is the best part: They were going to name the little boy John Andrew, because all of their kids are J.A. names (Joyce Ann & Julie Ann), but now they are going to name him... drumroll please... Millerlann! The first thing that popped into my head when she told me that was "Oh, that poor child will be teased his whole life!" and then, of course, "AWWWW!" I still can't believe that they are naming a kid after me! A living, breathing child will carry on the name of Miller in the 'Peens long after I am gone. That's cray. :)

Well, that's all for this week! I love you all so much!
-Sister Miller

P.S.  Here's a special shout out to my mom who sends the BEST boxes.  Last week I received an "Independence Day Celebration in a Box" that included red, white and blue everything...headbands, rings, necklaces, flags, decorations, and even a few incendiaries! (Hehehe!)  Even though I am the only American in my apartment, you can be sure we will be celebrating on July 4th in style.  Thanks, Mom!

Proud to be an American!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Enjoy to the End!

My Dearest Family & Friends,

This last transfer went by SO fast! It was only four weeks because of the new Mission President, President Dahle, coming in at the end of the month. Neither Sister Gonzales nor I were expecting to transfer seeing as I just got here. Welp, we were wrong! Sister Gonzales was transferred and I got a new companion, Sister Ete. I seem to have what they call the "islander curse" because over half of my companions have been either Tongan or Samoan. I like to look at it as a blessing! Sister Ete is from Samoa and this is her second to last transfer. This is her 5th area and I am her 9th companion. She enjoys the color green and long walks on the beach under the moonlight. :) 

This trike is a little cramped!
It has been a little bit crazy leading the area after only four weeks of being here but I can definitely feel the Lord's help and guidance in our work. This first week was a little like running around like chickens with their heads cut off (which our farmer neighbor assured me really happens and invited us to see.....I passed!) We have been able to track down some part member families and see them begin to progress. I love part member families, especially if the member is less active. Then I get to witness them come back into the Gospel and help their family enter into the waters of baptism. I get to see how much happier their lives become! When President Hinkley was here, back in the day, he  promised the Filipino people that if they abided by the commandments of God, they would always have rice in their bowls, a roof over their heads, and a shirt on their backs. Seeing the conditions people live in here, I would say that just about every person NEEDS this Gospel in their lives. I have seen how that promise has held true for the members of the Church. 

There is no greater feeling than being able to find a family, see them progress, attend their baptism, and witness how their lives change for the better when they stay true to their covenants. On the other hand, it's heart breaking to witness a newly baptized member fall away due to challenges in their life. No one says that after baptism all of your problems will magically disappear....quite the contrary. Satan works to derail you as you strive to follow the path of righteousness. He will do all in his power to stop you, but no challenge, no problem, he throws at you will be worth falling to because in the end, the reward makes the trek all worth it. We just have to patiently push forward, with trust in better days ahead. 

This philosophy has gotten me through the toughest parts of my mission and I'm sure will carry me throughout my life. It is applicable in everyone's lives. As we strive to do what is expected of us as children of our Heavenly Father, I know that we will receive blessings. It won't be easy, but it will be so worth it.

I love you all!!
-Sister Miller

Monday, June 16, 2014

Interesting Article

Hello All!

The letter below was not written by Marissa but I felt that I wanted to share it here.  It was written by an elder serving in Virginia.  For you friends and family who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it may give you some insight into the sacrifices that missionaries make.  Marissa always keeps her emails and letters upbeat, but I know she has experienced some of the same frustrations that this elder has.  The reason that she and so many other missionaries all over the world can remain so positive is because they have a sure testimony that they are doing exactly what their Heavenly Father wants them to do.

If you missed Marissa's letter expressing her testimony of serving as a missionary, go to the post entitled "Question of the Week" dated April 28.

Thanks for reading.............Maria

Not interested?
A horrible ringtone breaks the silence. It’s 6 a.m. and time to get up. It seems like my head just hit the pillow 5 seconds ago. We get up, exercise, eat and get ready for the day. At ten we head out the door, after 2 hours of studying and pondering the scriptures. Those studies giving us more energy than the previous night’s sleep. It's already 90 degrees outside, 70 percent humidity. We have a 45 minute bike ride to our appointment with the nice woman we met last week. We start off on our bikes. Cars drive by, profanities shouted in our direction, accompanied by obscene gestures.
We finally arrive at her house, our white button up shirts wet with sweat. Her husband answers and tells us to go away. We try to explain to him that his wife told us we could come back. His only response "We aren't interested." A little sad and discouraged, we decide to knock a few doors in that neighborhood before heading to our next appointment, likely to have the same outcome as the first. First door, no one is home. Second door, someone is home but won't open the door. Maybe it's a child or wife home alone, I don't blame them for not opening.
Third door, we receive a similar response as we did from the husband at home of our potential appointment. Fourth door, some "educated" man wants to tell us why we are wrong, and proceeds to tell us what we believe, all of his "facts" either false or out of context. He won't let us explain, but continues to degrade. We leave his home minutes later feeling discouraged and starting to get angry. I start to wonder why I am out here in Virginia. But then I remember what we have to offer, and we continue to the next home.  
Maybe these people would treat us differently if they knew what we went through. I wonder how they would treat me if they knew that it's been almost two years since I have seen my family, my only way to communicate with them through email once a week. Maybe they would let us in if they understood that we aren't paid to be here, but that we volunteer, and actually pay our own way to serve here. 

They might not realize that we do all of the things we do on our own free will. We don't have someone breathing down our backs daily, forcing quotas or rules on us. We willingly follow the rules that have been set, we get up on our own, and we decide where we are going to go that day. Maybe if they knew that I have put off school for two years to be out here, they would think that what I am sharing has had a big impact on my life. Perhaps if they knew that we do this 24/7 with a few hours of free time one day a week, they would wonder what drives us to do all of this. 
Why are we so dedicated? Why would we make such major sacrifices to be rejected day after day, week after week, month after month, for two years? It's because it has changed my life. We have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel was restored in its fullness by a modern day prophet named Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. We do not worship Joseph Smith. But he was a prophet, just as Moses or Noah or Abraham, and we honor and respect him. 
There is a living prophet today, who has been called of God to act as the Lord's mouthpiece here on this earth. What we have as missionaries is this restored gospel, and a way to find out if it is true or not. How do you know the Bible is true? Because you grew up with it right? And everyone else says so right? We believe the Bible to be the word of God, and we have another witness that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. It's called the Book of Mormon. We invite all men and women everywhere to listen to our message, to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray to ask God if what we are sharing is true. If what we are sharing is true, then there is indeed a living prophet today, his name is Thomas S. Monson, and he receives direct revelation from God to guide us through this life's obstacles and challenges. Next time you see some missionaries, stop them and ask if you can hear their message. It will change your life, it will bless you more than you can imagine, I promise. 
Elder Jason Allred at Arlington National Cemetary
Much Love, 

Elder Jason Allred 

Choices and Priorities

Well another week, another email! As usual I am going through a stupor of thought as to what to write. I can only remember the most recent events in my week so I will share with you a little story of how I butchered a pig this morning! 

It all started when the new senior couple moved in next door. They are only part time and live on their farm for half of the week. So they told us that they would be slaughtering pigs last weekend and asked if we might want some of the meat. I mean sure, why not right? I don't know if this is unrealistic but I was expecting pork chops or nicely cut pieces for us. Instead we got half of the pig... chopped into two huge pieces! How the heck was that going to fit into our freezer? Well it wasn't, and the responsibility fell to me and Sister Hart to chop it up. We both took the chunks and just started whacking away! It was all fine and dandy until I came to the heart. I was't sure what it was, seeing as I had never had the opportunity to butcher a pig before, so I poked it a little. BIG mistake! Next thing I knew, blood was everywhere. Now I do know you're suppose to drain the blood before you chop it up so I'm not sure why I was suddenly covered in pig's blood. I got a little taste of what Carrie must have felt like at the prom. Sister Hart and I just started laughing, and maybe gagging a little! Sister Hart and I always find a way to have a laugh. She is my house mate from Australia. We have the same taste in music and movies so we became pretty close the first week I was here.

We had the opportunity to attend a broadcast specifically for the Philippines yesterday. I loved it! Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke and said one thing that really stuck out to me. While speaking of our choices and priorities in life he said, "If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, in the end it won't matter what you chose instead," How true that is! I always remember people telling me in high school that it doesn't matter how popular you are or what kind of clothes you wear or blah de blah. I usually just brushed it off because I personally didn't think any of that was relevant anyway. But I never caught the true message behind it...nothing really matters that isn't beneficial in bringing you closer to the Savior and helping you on your path to salvation. It's like the sprinkles on a Krispy Kreme donut. It's a nice perk but the best donut, as everyone knows, is the original glazed! Sometimes we get so distracted with all the colorful sprinkles that we forget our true love is for the donut itself. (I'm really trying to make this analogy work but I'm getting a little distracted by how much I miss Krispy Kreme!) I love how Elder Cook put it. In the end, if you didn't put your pursuit for the Kingdom of God over any other pursuit, then no matter how high your social status or how much money you have in your bank account, nothing will really matter. 

I am so happy to be here helping people realize the correct path they should be on, or helping others find their way back. I know that as we put our priorities in order then we will be blessed with our temporal  and spiritual needs.

I love you all so much!
-Sister Miller 
The rainy season has begun!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014


What it do my family, friends,loved ones, and any total stranger who may be reading this?!?

Well, today's email is going to be a short one. We are having another mission activity on Monday as a sort of farewell to President Querido. I am coming from our last Mission President interviews with him, which means I am totally unprepared with no pre-written email or my camera... sorry, Mom! It's so weird to think President Querido won't just be around anymore. I'm excited to meet the new President but sad to see the old one go. 

Anyways I'm not sure what to write about... so I guess I will just share a funny thing that happened to me and my companion. One day we were walking from one appointment to the next when we saw this old guy watching us. This man is known as "the guy who eats rubbish" because, well, he eats trash off the street. I guess he is not all there mentally and is always trying to talk to and harass the sister missionaries. So we see him one day and he is just watching us as we pass him. Then he starts to follow us! I, of course, quicken my pace. My poor Filipina companion has the shortest little legs and was struggling to keep up! As we start walking faster, we hear him start walking faster. I guess for the sake of my mother I should mention that we didn't feel like we were in danger, we just didn't want to get stuck talking to him and trying to explain who we were and answer all his questions that would just lead nowhere. Anyways so as we start walking faster and faster, we hear him behind us break into a jog, well, like a limping jog. I glanced back and he looked just like a zombie! His clothes were all dirty and torn. His hair was a mess and he was covered in dirt. He was even groaning a little as he was doing his best to run. I felt like I was in the freaking Walking Dead! I just started laughing at the thought of the sight of two sister missionaries running away from a zombie! Now that would make a good movie. Forget about the RM or the Singles Ward, mix missionary work with zombies and you've got yourself the next big Mormon movie hit! 

I quickly realized that this jog of ours was going no where and this guy was going to follow us all the way to our next appointment and maybe scare our investigators away. I said a prayer in my heart and decided to stop at a little store on the side of the path to get a soda and see what he would do. My poor companion was so out of breath and needed to take a break. Luckily, the store was full of people and the guy just kept walking. I guess it was the protecting hand of the Lord. We had a good laugh about it for the rest of the day!

I love being a missionary! I love all the silly things that happen to us everyday! But most of all I love helping others feel the Saviors love for them through His Gospel. 

I love you all!
-Sister Miller

This is a beautiful country!

I love Zambales!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fully Filipino!

What a week! I love it here in Masinloc! My new companion is awesome and we are really getting work done! Last week we got the most lessons as a companionship out of the WHOLE mission!! We set a goal to get the most member present lessons, most new investigators, most investigators at sacrament, and most total lessons for this week! I know we can do it if we really focus and give it our all! I know when we give it our all, Heavenly Father is there to fill up the rest!

Man I had the weirdest experience ever this week. So we went to a less-active members house and they really, REALLY wanted me to pray in English. So I did. Well I tried. It was so dang hard!! I don't know what happened to me! I hadn't said a prayer in English in about 10 months! I just kept slipping back into Tagalog. It's like I've gone fully Filipino!!

Speaking of being fully Filipino, I proved just how Filipino I am with one of my investigators. To get to their house, we have to cross a long hanging bridge over the water. Now this bridge is not what I would call sturdy. It is falling down on one side and VERY shaky. It is about 35 meters long. Anyways when we were about to cross it, we saw a little boy running across it. I was shocked! That boy was cray! Then my investigator dared me to do it. HECK NO! Then he started saying how I was scared and how I probably couldn't do it anyway. Wait a minute......I'm Sister Miller....I do what I want.... Nobody talks about me like that! Well the next thing I know, I'm running like a banshee across this shaky bridge, screaming the whole time, with a whole group of Filipinos on the other side cheering me on! IT WAS AWESOME!! My heart was racing but I did it! Then I dared my investigator to do it. He wouldn't. Chicken! :)

This is the hanging bridge....

....and me walking sedately across it next time.  No more running!

I think there is something here that can be applied in all of our lives. One, never turn down a dare! Two, when we come across long, scary bridges in our lives, maybe a big decision or a hard trial we are going through, we just have to take a deep breath and do it! Not just slowly or grudgingly but RUN! Put your trust in the Lord and all things will be possible! 

I love it here in the Philippines. I love teaching and getting to know the people. I feel of their sweet, humble spirits everyday. I love being able to share this Gospel with them and help them grow and progress in their testimonies of Christ. I can't believe that I'm already over half way finished with my mission. Next thing I know, I'll be on an airplane headed home. I am going to make the most of every second here and run across every bridge I come to, literally and figuratively. 

I love you all so much!
-Sister "Daredevil" Miller

Trying to get some fresh mangos...yummy!!!