Monday, May 21, 2018

21 May 2018 - Elder Milius Week 99

Family and Friends!

It has been another amazing week here in Alabama. Huntsville is great and Elder Holm and I are loving it. The members are awesome and the people aren't usually too rude to us. We've been able to find quite a few potential investigators and are looking forward to starting to teach them more.
We finally met Matt! It wasn't a super long experience or anything but it was worth putting at the beginning of the email. Last night we were riding back home from teaching another investigator and we saw that Matt's garage was open. We had rode by before and he was outside but we didn't think it was him, long story there, but we slowed down and couldn't see him so we just kinda kept going. Elder Holm was leading and after we went a couple houses past he turned around because the Spirit told him to--go Elder for listening to the Spirit. When we pulled up Matt was walking from around back of his house and we were finally able to meet him. He has been someone we've been trying to see for over a month; he was on date but is getting bombarded with life and all sorts of things. Not really in a good place right now but it was a miracle to put a face to the name and introduce ourselves, assuring him that we are here to help.
We started to teach the Latham family this past week. Mom has been in and out of activity depending on how much she has to work. She is basically supporting five kids by herself so she's playing the role of SuperMom (all Mom's are that way by the way, just a side note). Anyway her son who is nine years old wants to be baptized and she wants him to be baptized so we are taking the opportunity to teach the whole family. They are hilarious and full of energy so it's been fun and exciting. Just pray that they'll be able to start coming to church so that the little boy can get baptized!
Tasha was a lady we met last week I think. I may have mentioned her name in last weeks email. But, we had thought she gave us a wrong number and turns out she accidentally messed up one of the numbers. With that though we didn't think she was going to be a solid follow up, but she was! Gotta love how God surprises you sometime. When we went to teach her this past week we shared a little about the Restoration and answered some questions about the Book of Mormon. She was really receptive and interested to learn more. Right now she has a goal to be baptized on the 30th of June so hopefully that works out! It was a really cool lesson and amazing that we were able to teach her so tailored to her needs and questions.
Cathy is doing good, we've talked to her this week but we haven't been able to teach because she's been sick. Torries is becoming hard to catch because he has a ton of stuff he is working on for the summer. But still high hopes there. We talked with Mike again this week, had a good conversation with he and his neighbors. Things are just getting hectic in his life but he hasn't really given up on us so that's good. We had a good lesson with AL this Sunday as well. We talked to him about Modern-day Prophets and how we receive revelation. He is a logical man, but I think he will do what we've asked him too so that'll be exciting to see where that takes him. Logan was another investigator we talked to this week. His mom is a member and he's not really Christian but when we went over yesterday we answered some questions he had about baptism and the succession of a Prophet. It was good to sit and answer his questions again without the distraction of Mom and Dad being there. Logan is in his 20s by the way, we weren't over there teaching a teenager without Mom and Dad I promise. Also had another good lesson with the Harris family about baptism this week. The Spirit was there and it prompted Sister Harris to ask how to keep the Spirit with her after she's not felt it for a while. That was really cool to see her open up.
This week we went on exchanges and I went out with Elder Hanratty (throwback to the MTC). We had a lot of good, funny, interesting experiences but one of them was meeting a guy named Marlon. We were talking to this lady in an apartment complex about the Book of Mormon and Marlon came out and asked for the Book. He lived above her and cut me off while I was explaining it. But, she ended up not being interested so we went up and talk to him. He asked for the Book, said "Thank you!" and started to walk inside. We set up a return appointment for Sunday afternoon and I didn't really know what was going to happen or expect anything to come of it. Annette, Marlons mom, answered the door yesterday and invited us in. We talked briefly about the Restoration and both her and Marlon were interested. She told us a little bit about Marlons conditions which made sense of why the situation was weird when we first met him. And, we are going back this coming Sunday. The Lord sometimes let's people come to you, and He is always in charge of his work.
We had a couple other cool finding experiences this week. One was when the Spirit spoke to Elder Holm's stomach and directed him to Sonic at the end of the night. The lady we were ordering from hooked us up with a $5.00 sticker that gives you .99 cent Route44 of anything for the entire year. Pretty solid; anyway back to the cool part... While we were waiting for our drinks a guy pulled up and asked who we were. His name is Brian and Brain literally told us, "Hey I'm interested in learning more about what y'all believe." So we are currently trying to set up an appointment with him.
Also, before I forget we talked to a guy named Kyle who I didn't think was too interested and when we texted to confirm our appointment he canceled but he had read out of the Book of Mormon! The Lord was just proving me wrong this week.
Another finding experience was Nick. We talked to him for a couple minutes only to find that a youth in our ward was one of his student and he (the youth) gave Nick a Book of Mormon. Go him! We explained more about what the Book of Mormon was and what it testifies of. Considering he was Catholic we also talked about Authority and where we each believe our authority comes from. It's was an interesting conversation but he was very accepting and I hope he will read from the Book of Mormon and we'll be able to talk to him again.
We found some other possibilities but no one to really mention yet. We did re-contact this family that Elder Matthew's began to teach about a year ago, the Folies. We went in and talked with them about things they remember and stuff. They loved the missionaries but apparently had a bad church experience and so they haven't been interested since. Mom also said that they are "very Catholic" whatever that means. I'm going to figure it out. I'm determined. They made the comment that I was "Matthew's incarnate," lol. Shout out to Jax!

Some funny stories from the week:
      The Book of Mormon Play just ended up here in Huntsville and a lady stopped us at the store last week and asked if we were Mormon. She then told us about the play, what she liked and didn't like, and then she asked for our picture.
      Elder Hanratty and I got caught in the pouring rain. We got drenched and I almost got hit by a car. It was chill though.
      Got some bomb Tacos on Tuesday.
      A guy named Bobby was talking to us about how he got his bowels taken out and he was very upset about it.
      We were told that we needed to come to christ on a doorstep.
      I told a joke to an older guy who wasn't really interested... Why did the referee blow his whistle in the leprosy hockey game?.... Because there was a "face off" in the corner. He thought it was funny.
      Met a guy named Mr. Lovelady and talked to him about Family History.
      A guy named Austin took us on a tour of his car collection this week.
      Brother Messervy called and took us out to Burger King for lunch again this week. These older guys hang out with the missionaries a lot haha!
      We went out with a guy we met last week who was somewhat contending with us about Jesus and the nature of God. He took us out to lunch and us and he and his friend “talked” about the Bible. Long story short we don’t believe in the same Jesus because they believe that God the Father is Jesus Christ. The end of the conversation was, “Well, one of us is right and one of us is wrong…” ….yep. Probably to be continued.

Lastly, before I get into my finally comments, we were fasting this past Sunday for our District to find more people to teach. Right before we were about to break our fast we got a phone call to help move some furniture for a guy whose wife is/was a member of the church. We went to help and it was a miracle to me how the Lord gave us that opportunity. He has been gone for 18 months or so but is now home and he's very knowledgeable about the church and about the lessons. He loves the church and the people there and we are hoping to be able to teach them a little bit in the coming weeks. He wants to feed us for helping them out so we already have a foot in that door.
It was a good week and a lot to learn. I had a couple take-aways but one of them was my testimony of Preach My Gospel. There were several instances where, had we had to teach a wrote lesson, people would've been frustrated, confused, or simply not interested. But since we are able to use the Spirit in determining the needs of the investigator and then share with them what we know it makes the gospel so much more applicable and meaningful. Also, we had a change in our Bishopric this past Sunday. The Stake President taught Sunday School and talked a lot about the Priesthood and the offices of the Priesthood, etc. But one thing he shared was a training that a Seventy gave years ago when President Vaughn (our Stake President) was in a Bishopric. There was a pyramid with six steps on it and it read, beginning at the bottom: Doctrine, Principles, Procedures, Programs, Policies, and Style. He said that the bottom two never change. The Doctrine or Christ will always be foundational and will never change. He said that the middle three sometimes change depending on various circumstances, but they are not set in stone. The last level is when Leadership changes and that happens frequently. Everyone is human, and everyone has their way to do things. That pyramid is how the organization of the church works. I thought that that was an interesting thought.

The church is true, and miracle exist today! Read your scriptures, say your prayers, and have a blessed week!

Much Love,
Elder Milius

Monday, May 14, 2018

14 May 2018 - Elder Milius Week 98

Dear folks,

Hello! Hope you all are doing great and had a happy mother's day yesterday (especially all those Mothers of Missionaries). This week was kinda up and down a lot of cool stories and people and a lot of hard things as well. Such if life though! Elder Holm and I are doing good and pretty established now here in Weatherly.
First update I'll give is on Mike. He doesn't want really anything to do with us or the Mormon church anymore. We taught him on Tuesday about some commandments, mainly the Word of Wisdom, and he disagreed with it. Even though he loved the Book of Mormon and despite his conversion to Christ he didn't have a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Therefore the Revelation given about what we should or shouldn't take into our bodies was tough to grasp. So he is no longer on date for the end of this month but I hope that that's not the end of his journey. In my mind it's just a hiccup!
Not much else to talk about there. But, I don't know if I talked about Cathy last week. She is a lady we met Tracting and her and her mom were super kind and open to us. We helped screw in her storm door because it broke as she opened it and then when we went back to follow up with then this past week they needed help carrying in a bird bath to go in their backyard. Service works miracles, haha! Anyway, she had read part of the Book of Mormon so we sat and talked about it and we are going back tonight to discuss the Plan of Salvation. There was something else though, another detail you'll be interested to know. She took the back of a card and pointed to the QR code and said, "This isn't a coincidence is it." We both kind looked at each other and were like, "... Yeah it takes you to the website...?" She shook her head and exclaimed, "This is a picture of Jesus!" She then went on to talk about how when her father was in the military he was given a picture that was taken on accident. The camera had dropped and the shutter closed and took a picture of just snow or whatever it was. However in the picture you can obviously see the likeness of Christ. Both pictures are in the attachments so you'll have to see for yourself! Cathy is awesome though and is keeping commitments and we have high hopes for her.
Torries is another guy we met the other week walking around an apartment complex. We met him right before a lady came up to us upset that we were soliciting religion. After she had left though he looked at us and said we were welcome anytime. So, we went back Saturday and had a really good talk with him about what we believe and the Book of Mormon and it all just went according to plan! It was a neat lesson and we think he has a lot of potential too. He'd make a great Young Men's advisor.
Will. Now Will was a miracle. We had decided to go make a few follow-ups with people we had met in the past and Tract around the area a little more. As we walked past Wills house we both slowed down. We had knocked on the door before but no one answered and it looked like someone was home this time so we knocked again. We did our approach and asked if we could come in and he said sure! We went in and started talking about his encounters with the church and stuff like that and then, naturally, we started teaching the Restoration. As we were teaching however we found out that he had some questions pertaining directly to the Plan of Salvation. So... We switched! Let me tell you I have never shared the three kingdoms of glory and the Spirit world with anyone at our first meeting but now I have and it was exactly what answered his question. After that we left him with a Book of Mormon, a chapter to read, a plan of salvation pamphlet and invited him to study for the next appointment. He told us that he loved it and that we answered a lot of his questions. It was a really neat experience just because of how it worked out, but also because everything we had been practicing in our companionship studies for the past few weeks came out with Will and it was a huge testimony to me of role plays! Practice is spiritually creating what you physically want to happen.
A couple other cool people that we meet who are now on our radar include Jeremy... OK, pause. Sorry, Jeremy was a guy who stays in California and we met him riding out of our complex one morning. He said that he sees the missionaries all the time but they never stop to talk to him and he had always wanted them to. So we gave him a card to get in contact with missionaries there. I hope that all works out but I guess I won't know until the next life. The people in our area are Evan and Cameron (both of which are kids to PM/LA families in the ward who we were referred to see), Jasmine, Peyton, Mike (a former investigator), Tasha, Ashley, and Kyle. We just met them and they were all semi-interested, enough to give us some of their information haha! Praying for then though. We also met a guy named James that I almost forgot. He was outside and we were following up with another guy so we walked away from him at first. Then we started walking back to Tract and our first stop was to James. He told us that when he saw us he wanted to talk to us and we walked away! So, good thing we followed the Spirit and went back to visit with him. He and his wife had been looking for a church and he was interested enough to give us some information and to take a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon app pass-along card. He is busy the next couple weeks but we'll be looking to follow up with him again.
Before I forget and go into funny stories, which this will probably be a good segue, is our lesson with AL. AL is an older guy who we met our first night here. He said that missionaries had been by but they never came back. So we left him with a Book of Mormon and set up a time to come back. Well since then it's been kinda a hit or miss with him as far as teaching but we had an appointment yesterday. It was in the middle of our companionship studies when we went to teach him so we paused and walked over to his home. He was standing outside and said something to the effect of, "Well I was thinking we could go on a bike ride. And ride and talk and I'll take you down and show you the Greenway (a trail that runs down by the Tennessee River). We had never done that before but we instinctively said, "Sure!" So, we rode and talked to AL about what makes us different and about a modern day Prophet. He just kept saying he needed to do more study. Oh yeah, he also gave us back our Book because he was studying online and found and has been studying off of that. Cool, huh? Anyway that was a fun little 12-mile lesson!

Other Funny Stories:
  • We met a guy in Walmart that stopped us and asked us about Joseph Smith and the constitution.
  • There was this less active the Relief Society President said we should try to visit and when we walked up he wanted nothing to do with us. He wouldn't even shake our hand and he said, "You guys are going to meet some jerks out there, and I'm one of them."
  • Last week we helped move an entertainment center from the Giles to the McGills. Then  we helped moved an entertainment center from the McGills to the Quintanas. Lol.
  • So guys yelled "F Jesus" at us driving down the road.
  • A random guy flipped us off instead of politely waving back at us on our bikes.
  • I got super sick and threw up on Wednesday. I couldn't remember the last time I vomited but now I do.
  • A member from Madison was visiting a lady who lives in our ward during the week and yelled to get our attention, "I need a Book of Mormon!"
  • Elder Holm found out.
  • We tried to do an Facebook Live class, it may or may not have worked how we planned but I think it ended up okay!
  • We helped move some more furniture on Friday afternoon.
  • Friday night we had dinner with a member's non-member grandma and then helped moved more furniture around.
  • Elder Holm dropped some groceries on our way home from Walmart one night. Haha.
  • We talked to our neighbor about the motorcycle he wants to get because he blew the engine going 130mph or so, maxing out the engine. The new one he wants goes like 200mph. I cent figure out if that made me want to get a motorcycle or never touch one.

One of the biggest lessons I learned this week was the power of the Book of Mormon. We had Zone Conference on Wednesday and it was all about using the Book of Mormon and how important it is. A lot of times I'll teach people that the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Christ. Now, I don't necessarily believe that to be true. The primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and that this is the true church. Then because of that, it helps build our faith in Christ and so forth. I found out this week with Mike dropping us that if we simply read the Book of Mormon as a feel good story that helps us be a better person then we are missing the mark. If we do not have a testimony of the Restoration and of the Prophet Joseph Smith then we are like every other Christian church out there trying to do good and love others; which isn't bad at all, don't missunderstand that. All I'm saying is that there is so much more. There's the Celestial Kingdom, Eternal Life, Forever Families, Temple Covenants, etc. All of which hang on whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. And I know it is.

I hope y'all have a great and blessed week, go hug your Mothers!

Much Love,
Elder Milius

PS: Jabori and Javon got baptized in Hoover!! Sister Sainsbury sent me some pictures on Saturday afternoon. Those are a couple of awesome kids, and I’ll bet Theresa isn’t far behind.

"Behold I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life." ~3 Nephi 5:13

Monday, May 7, 2018

7 May 2018 - Elder Milius Week 97

Bless you... Thank you.

Interesting week, let me tell you. But I guess that's like every week. I am getting hit with some bad allergies and it's only because I live in the "Valley of Sickness," at least that's what they Native Americans called this area way back in Book of Mormon times. Apparently all the pollen and everything collects here--yay me! Never had these problems in AZ, but if that's my biggest worry things must be going pretty good.
Elder Holm is still doing great, we are finally settling in and starting to move forward with the work here in the Weatherly Ward. We met with Rose this week and challenged her to baptism. Mike is still working to get baptized on the 26th of this month and they had a good trip this past week. It was a roller coaster for them but Mike ended up on top. On top of all of that we received a couple referrals from the members about families that we could go and visit and it's so interesting to see the Lord's timing in all of it. I just have a huge testimony of working, and working hard, and "[receiving] success" from the Lord (Alma 26:27). We can't really expect anything, we should just be grateful for what we get.
Along with Mike and Rose we've had a lot of good conversations with some others this week. We met Jody, who has LDS friends and was interested to talk to us. She told her member friend (who approached us in church about her and said to not stop going over there) that she liked us but she "wasn't going to read the Book of Mormon." We will see how that ends up! Nick was another guy that wouldn't really let the whole Trinity Doctrine go. He didn't argue, thankfully, but we had a good scriptural discussion and he motivated me to get back into my Bible studies of common questions; gotta love the Bible belt. We contacted a guy Torries who took a Book of Mormon and was somewhat interested in reading it. Was also tracted into Kathy and Janice, a mom and a daughter, who invited us in and we shared a little of our message with them. Only after we fixed thier storm door though; service softens souls, I'm telling ya! AL was a guy we met our first day here and we re-contacted him and invited him to start studying the Book of Mormon. Hope all goes well there and things progress. (He is the guy that loves baseball, the optimism poster from the other week was in his home).
So, things are looking like they are going pretty well. We had an experience this week as well where we met a few people in what I thought was a miracle. We had been tracting in an apartment complex and earlier that day I felt like knocking some doors on a street called Yorkshire. I told Elder Holm about it and we weren't having much success where we were so I prayed about it and we ended up going to that street. First we followed up with a potential investigator that lived there, Krista. She has known a member, Sister Fennell (her neighbor), for years and has started to get interested in the church. Even to the point where she said she "might join." Turns out her and Sister Fennell have a thing set up to where they read the Book of Mormon once a week and even though she's not ready for the lessons or for church, she is getting a lot of her questions answered by her friend and it looks like it will turn out to be a very successful conversion. After that cool conversation we went over to the opposite side of the street, where I had felt to go. There we ran into some teenagers playing basketball so we did what every good missionary would do and played a pick-up game of 3-on-3. In the middle of the game a guy comes out of the house next door to where we were playing waving the Book of Mormon in the air and hollering at us. Turns out we had met this guy, Adam, about a week earlier in Walmart. He pulled us aside and asked us about our beliefs and stuff and was totally interested in taking a copy of the Book of Mormon. At the time he had lived in Boaz, AL, so we sent his information to the Elders down there. It ended up that he and his fiance got a house here in our area! What a coincidence! ;) Then, after we balled with the kids we ran into a couple 20 or so year olds who we met our first week here. When we were out walking they had picked us up in their jeep and we briefly talked to them about what we do and gave them a Book of Mormon. They had read a little bit and after talking they seemed open to us coming by and teaching and stuff. We invited them all to come to church, they didn't come, but it was still super cool. So, in the end we were led to that street, didn't knock a single door, but found the people I think the Lord needed us to find. That was a cool miracle about being led by the Spirit and how the Lord knows who is prepared for us.
In addition to the people we are working with, we found a couple YSA ladies who we sent to the Sister Missionaries that cover that unit for YSAs and both worked out really well! Mandy and Kaby :) It was cool because Sister Birch and Sister Johanson who were just in Hoover with me got doubled out of Hoover and doubled in together to the YSA here in Huntsville. They are awesome Sisters and I'm glad I still get to work with them haha!

      When we were riding on Monday night Elder Holm nailed a tree on his bike right in front of some people sitting on their porch; it was funny, for me.
      Elder Holm finally got his bike on Monday!! It was like Christmas to him.
      The first day Elder had his bike we went on exchanges with Byrd Springs and his front skewer for his tire snapped. I wasn't with him, obviously, but they called us and I could just imagine how frustrated he would've been!
      Elder Briggs and I talked to this lady and he, being a Spanish missionary, was explaining why his tag was in Spanish. He asked her if she spoke Spanish and she sckoffed and said, "Taco Bell!" It was hilarious.
      While riding with Elder Briggs I smacked a street sign and he thought I had hit it and fallen so he slammed on his breaks and looked back... real quick... He also almost crashed trying to rub up against Elder Featherstone's tire.
      Elder Briggs also had water shoot out like a blow hole from the back of a basketball hoop and it got all over him. That was like the story of our entire exchange. I loved it haha! Last transfer I went out with Elder Briggs but it was in Hoover so it was nice to not be "in charge."
      I scared Elder Holm by yelling "Boo" when he was looking at a wasp in the corner of an entry way. Then a couple days later I did the same thing when he was looking at a spider. He didn't think it was funny.
      Speaking of spiders, flashback to when I made Elder Stanford drop to the floor thinking a spider fell on him. Haha!
      We tried talking to a guy who was less than enthused that we were trying to speak with him. When I told him to have a blessed day he yelled back, “Nope!”
      The fastest I've seen Elder Holm ride his bike was when he thought it was going to rain. I was keeping up with him then, which has been unusual.

There were a few things I learned this week that I feel like sharing. The first us how important it is to use the Scriptures. The power that we get as teachers comes from the Scriptures and I am so thankful to have learned them as much as I have. The Bible belt has trained me well, and it's becoming a great spiritual gift. Second, asking questions is the basis of developing a relationship. And, ultimately, that's what we are here to do. Developing friendships is the foundation of ministering. In that light, the new program of the church in Ministering expands "Home and Visiting Teaching" to developing friendships with neighbors, member and non-member alike. Hence why I believe that the work is hastening (D&C 88:72-73). Lastly, the Gospel is so individual. There are many principles and ordinances and commandments that we are all asked to follow, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not to bring a church back to the Father. It's designed to bring individuals back to God, and Families back to God. I love that aspect of the Gospel. All the Father really asks of us it to do what we feel is right; to use our agency and the Spirit to determine the details of the Gospel for ourselves-and sometimes for our family, or stewardship. Everything we do is about our journey from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to the Tree of Life.

I hope you all have a blessed day and a wonderful week! Thanks for your support.

Much Love,
Elder Milius

And to all you Mothers out there, happy Mothers Day! :)