So much to do and so little time.
I feel like that statement pretty much sums up to course of the last two years. I can’t even begin to describe what I’ve learned and the things that I’ll be walking away with. Unfortunately, I’ll have to walk away but that just means that I will be able to walk into something greater. A lot happened this past week but I want to share a few of the best experiences and then I’ll attach a “Final Testimony.”
First, Wil is doing better than I could have hoped. He is progressing so well and he just gets it. I am so impressed with him and with the Lord allowing us to knock on Wil’s door. We met him last night so that I could say “See ya later” and it was awesome. I realized that I’ll be friends with Wil for a while and I think that that is one of the coolest parts about a mission. You go home, but you don’t have to lose the relationships you’ve made while serving the Lord. I’m excited to see Wil progress and even more excited to be a part of his conversion even after returning home.
AL is a guy Elder Holm and I met the very first day we arrived in Weatherly. On Sunday we were over there talking to him about the scriptures and about the things that he had read and such. When we were talking I was thinking to myself, “What a waste of time. He isn’t going to get baptized so why do we keep coming over and entertaining him and ourselves? What example does this set for Elder Holm?” etc., etc. Then out of the blue he told us that he didn’t really feel like he was being “feed” spiritually at his church and was actually looking for somewhere else he could go. When we invited him to church we were shocked that his answer was “Yeah!” At that point the Lord taught me something very important and that is when we are doing His work and fulfilling our purpose-nothing is a waste. Furthermore I felt like that moment was a “pat-on-the-back” from my Heavenly Father, telling me that my mission wasn’t a waste.
I love this work, and I love the people here, and I love my Heavenly Father for giving me an opportunity like this one. Thank you all for your support and love.
PS: Elder Holm totally crashed this week on his bike--funny story of the week.
PPS: Elder Holm is also getting transferred out of Weatherly and Sisters are getting doubled in, crazy!!
PPPS: For those of you who need to contact me post-mission you can find me on Facebook, “Michael Steven Milius” or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Best Two Years So Far:
There are a lot of thoughts that go through the head of a returning missionary, at least there are for me. The past several weeks has caused me to reflect on not only what I learned but who I’ve become and what I now know, without a doubt, to be true. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know he came to earth to live and to die and to live again. I know He showed us all the way to get back to our Heavenly Father again. I know God the Father also lives. I know He has a body of flesh and bone and that we are literally His spiritual sons and daughters. I know He cares for us just as any Father would and that He loves and is involved with the details of our lives. I know He uses the Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us, and comfort us along this journey of mortal life. I know that trials are necessary for our preparation to enter into the Kingdom of God. I know He will shape us into the instruments He needs us to be in order to accomplish His purposes among His children on earth. I know that His ultimate purpose is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39) and I know that He wants us to be a part of that great work. I know that this, the gathering of Israel is that grat work and I know it will end with the Second Coming of our Lord. I know that the Gathering began in this, the last dispensation with the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that he is a man of God and a Prophet called and ordained from on high. I know he was prepared to bring forth the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that that Restoration is true. I know that Christ's church is established once again with all the Priesthood and necessary principles and ordinances of salvation. I know that it is by preparing for and receiving our next ordinances we can access the power of the Atonement. I know that both the enabling and saving power of the Atonement is real. I know that Repentance is a gift from God and a means whereby we can change and improve. I know that Christ will always forgive us as we confess and forsake our sins to Him and the Father (D&C 58:42-43). I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and a tool that He uses to accomplish His work. I know that it is the most powerful tool of conversion and the keystone not only of our religion but of our individual testimonies. I know that it teaches and testifies of the Living Christ. I know that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God and that the perfect organization of Christ church was also restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I believe in personal revelation and I know that it is a necessary principle to understand as we seek out answers to our questions and doubts. I know that service and humility are the epitome of Christ’s ministry and therefore should be the focus and epitome of ours as well. Once again I know that God cares for us all individually and that we are all given different opportunities and experiences for our welfare and for the welfare of those around us. He is in charge, and if we let Him, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I love my mission because of all the things I learned. These are three of the many principles that have been realized during my missionary service.
- Learn to recognize and act on spiritual promptings. As a missionary it seems easy and simple to follow spiritual promptings because you are assured that you’re always being lead and guided. I’d like to share an experience that I had a year ago in Prattville, AL. One evening we went out with Brother Campbell, our WML, to see some people. When we were walking away from one house we had someone else to go see but there was this lady in the street a little ways and I had the impression to go talk to her but I talked myself out of it. I told myself that we were with Brother Campbell to see people and so I shouldn’t waste his time in trying to chase down this lady and talk to her. After we left I felt terrible. I told myself that if she was close enough as we were pulling out of the neighborhood I’d roll down the window and talk to her that way. But, we were too far away and before we got to the end of the street to leave where we were I was overwhelmed with guilt. I felt like a failure, and when we got to the next house I asked for forgiveness and promised that I’d never disregard a prompting ever again. The person we went to see wasn’t home either and we were then going to grab some dinner. Brother Campbell offered to take us out and at dinner I brought a Book of Mormon inside and set tit at the end of the table hoping to make up for the loss of an opportunity. I told Brother Campbell that it was to make up for ignoring a prompting to talk to someone earlier. “Who?!” he promptly asked. I told him there was a lady down the street… He cut me off “...in a green skirt.” I said “Ya,” and he responded, “You’re going to make me cry. I had the same prompting and the entire ride in the car over here I was beating myself up about it.” I will never, never ignore a prompting as long as I live. I learned a lot from that experience but the most comforting thing about it is even after the mission I will still, if I choose, be able to receive promptings-like Brother Campbell-to talk to random individuals about the gospel. As I’ve gone throughout my mission I no longer credit much to my own thoughts. In the words of Elder Bednar, “If it’s good it comes from God.” This is the essence of Ministering after all: to be able to understand the Spirit, then to set goals and make plans (we know that phrase well as missionaries) to help those around you. We are all called to minister to our fellow men and the only way to effectively do that is by learning to rely on the guidance of the Holy Ghost. He is our gift, but as with every righteous gift He is given to us by our Father to help bless others. I know that as we listen and act on spiritual promptings the Lord will bless us and allow us to be a part of His work, no matter our calling or position.
- The who, what, where, when, why, and how of ‘Becoming.’ A scripture that has rang true to me recently in in Mosiah, chapter three, verse nineteen and it reads: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” I have come to understand the profound effect the Gospel of Jesus Christ can have on us as we allow it to change out character; as we allow Him to change our character.. Developing Christlike Attributes and Attitudes has been a major part of my mission. Early on in the beginning of my mission I wrote a “Missionary Constitution” of the things I wanted to do and become because of my two year service. Many of the items recorded had to do with myself. As I’ve reflected back on that “Constitution” and on the things I’ve “become” I have been able to accomplish my goals. What surprised me is that the only reason I accomplished them was because I didn’t focus on it. I didn’t focus on becoming patient or charitable. I didn’t focus on being the most affluent teacher or the best scriptorian. My purpose was to, “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel). Focusing on helping others receive the gospel and reach their goals is the only way I’ve succeeded in my own. And these skills and attributes I’ve developed have helped me come to differentiate between my natural, unrepentant man and my spiritual desires. It’s hard to become as a little child, but that is how we well find ourselves in the Celestial Kingdom (Mosiah 15:25; Moroni 8:8; Matthew 5:5 (3 Nephi 12:5) ). I know that the divine attribute of meekness and humility is the foundation on which all our growth in the gospel develops and that as we strive to stay in-tune with our spiritual selves, we can become who our Heavenly Father wants us to be.
- Love of God and love of fellow men. I love the Lord. There are several reasons why anyone does the things that they do, but there are four main motivators. The first is fear. Fear of making a fool of yourself, fear that people will look at you different, fear of not fitting in, fear of losing status, etc., etc. The second is reward. Reward of money, reward of praise or accolades, the reward of popularity, the reward of education, etc., etc. The third is out of duty, or out of an obligation regardless of your actual desires to complete the task at hand. And the fourth in out of love. The greatest motivator of all is love, or to take it one step further, charity. A famous scripture here in the Bible Belt is John 3:16 which states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” On my mission I have come to know what it means to be a true Christian; to be motivated simply by your desire to serve and to love others because Jesus loves them; to be a true “example of the believers” (1 Timothy 4:12). The reason Southern Hospitality is a thing isn’t because of the sweet tea and sunshine; it’s because the majority of the people here are looking to serve each other. And, as we learn from King Benjamin, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17). In the service that I’ve rendered for the past two years I have come to know and love my Saviour, Jesus Christ. My favorite Bible verse is in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” I have been able to taste a little of what I believe eternal life might be like as I’ve been out here on my mission, and I attribute that simply to the fact that I’ve been able to learn more about the Living Christ here in Alabama as a missionary over the past two years than the previous eighteen years of my life. It’s truly a miracle to have the opportunity to testify of Christ and to help others gain a little of the same experience I have in coming closer to Him. I know He lives, I know He loves us, and I know that He knows that I know that I love Him; more than anything else.
Areas and Companions:
Florence, AL--Elders Kris Wheatly and Dallin Areno
Fort Payne, AL--Elders Quinn Morley and Dallin Porter
Wetumpka, AL--Elders Kayden Harris and Isaiah Schrubb
Prattville, AL--Elders Jax Matthews and Ryan Foudy
Tupelo, MS--Elder Simi Stanford
Smithville, MS--Elder Peter Nielsen
Hoover, AL--Elders Chrisandrew Lewis, Russ Egbert, and Chane Canty
Weatherly, AL--Elder Daijun Holm
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;”
~2 Timothy 1:7-8~
And remember: “There is no time for sleep when you're gathering sheep.”
ELDER MICHAEL S. MILIUS
ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM MISSION
"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