Monday, September 26, 2016

26 September 2016 - Elder Milius Week 13

Friends and Family,

    How are y’all?! Yes, I used the word y’all...I have used it before but the South is teaching me that “Y’all” can be used in any situation referring to another person so I am using it more often. I also want to first thank all of you for the thoughts and prayers. They are felt everyday, so for me and in behalf of all  the other Laborers in the Vineyard-We thank you.

    This week hasn’t been too crazy but that’s coming from me and crazy isn’t what it used to be. (I also forgot my weekly notes so I apologize and I will try my best to remember…) We did tract into the awesome lady last week I believe and her name is Agnes. Agnes is 95 years old as of last Thursday and she has grown up in the Church of Christ (which is basically what all of Florence is, either that or Baptist). We left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon and when we came back she had studied it. And I mean studied, she didn’t just read but she cross-referenced, went through the testimonies in the front, read how the Book is organized, etc. etc. We are pumped, because it was a miracle in it of itself that someone actually had read and had questions about it and the church. To say the least we were excited. We saw her again after that and brought her a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World and so hopefully that will continue to go well. She also invited us back in September of 2021 for her 100th Birthday party that she’s having! Wahoo!

    Now that I’m talking about Church of Christ downtown Florence there is a store that we have grown to love called Coats Clothing Company, and we’ve become friends with all the employees there. One in particular is Susan, I don’t know if I’ve brought her up before but she is awesome. She loves us and so she asked us one day how often we got to go out and eat. Being missionaries we told her not often because we don’t have a lot of money but sometimes we would have the opportunity to be taken out by members. She then proceeded to invite us to dinner with her and her Church of Christ Deacon husband. We didn’t think anything too bad would happen and so we went out and it was great. No awkward “trying-to-convert-each-other” discussion was had and I love meeting people. That is something that is such a blessing in the South is so many people believe in Jesus Christ and have a Testimony of Him. And coming from other congregations and religious groups changes the testimony slightly and brings new perspective for me on who the Savior actually is and what that actually means to me personally. I am growing more here than I could anywhere else!

    On Thursday, my day was spent at the temple! I love the temple. And after going and having the opportunity to go so frequently, getting on my mission I’ve been cut off...but I’ll go once every third month, and it will be glorious. This was the first time I’ve been able to go through a temple session with just missionaries and the Spirit is indescribable. I can honestly say that for the first time since I left Arizona, I felt at home. I felt like I was with Family. It was an experience I’ll never forget and I’ll never trade for anything. I’ll only have that opportunity 8 times so that trip was ⅛. (I’m going to get to the point of not counting but for now I think I’m good). President Sainsbury talked to us a little before we went back for our session and he talked about how the temples are literally the Lord’s house. He walks there. And as we attend the temple and perform those ordinances we are walking where He walked. The Temple President then shared a few things about the Threshold of the temple, and how the threshold separates the Spirit of the Temple from the world. Above the threshold it reads: “Holiness to the Lord House of the Lord.” He asked if when we stepped cross that threshold, did we feel the difference? Do you feel the difference when you enter into the temple?

    As a missionary it is easier to be subject to those spiritual things and it’s amazing how receptive I can be sometimes. There are many instances when I’ll have a thought or a feeling and my mind immediately goes to the Spirit. I hope that I’ll be able to maintain at least some of that sensitivity in a couple years from now.

    A couple other random things that I remember throughout the week: We were able to go throw hay and stack it in a member’s barn so that was tons of fun-and I mean that not to be sarcastic. I’d love to do that again. We met a UNA football player who we are teaching and so our new goal is to make the University of Northern Alabama BYU-A-I mean that to be sarcastic. But we are teaching this guy named Jalin, and he seems super solid so that’s exciting. Me and Elder Causey, who is also from Gilbert, love to talk about how we are even closer connected like the fact that we attend our home wards in the same building or that he went to a party that was a huge deal a couple years ago, etc. We also like to talk about how Arizona is Celestial. Another Elder in our Zone is from Phoenix and I’ll leave you with his quote: “Christ will come again at Adam-ondi-Ahman (I may have butchered that spelling but oh well), but He is going to live in Arizona.

    I love my mission and I love the gospel. Hopefully I’ll be more prepared next week. If you have any specific question hit up MyLDSMail inbox! Love y’all, have a great week!


Elder Milius

Michael got to attend the Birmingham Alabama Temple
with his Zone and Mission President & Sister Sainsbury

Monday, September 19, 2016

19 September 2016 - Elder Milius Week 12

Hello People,

Well, this week was pretty eventful to say the least. I’m having tons of fun and the time is just flying by! Last Monday for P-day we went to this place called “SkyZone” which is basically a huge trampoline park. It just opened like a few weeks ago and it’s pretty legit. We partied.
Then the work started. District Meeting is on Tuesdays, which is always great. Our District is the best-I’ve been pretty spoiled as far as my first area, first two districts, etc. I was then privileged to go on an exchange across the Tennessee River to Russellville with Elder Diede (one of our Zone Leaders). We went to do service for a brother in their ward who is married to a no-longer-member of the church. Turns out, Elder Wheatley and I had meet his wife a few weeks prior. The world is a small place, and I imagine Northern Alabama is even smaller a place. She gave us money for Breakfast the next morning and threatened that she would call the Mission President and tell him that we rolled up to their house with alcohol, girls, and spitting out all sorts of swear word if we didn’t take naturally we took the money and went on our way (the remainder of the story to be told later). After that we went to go see a couple other families, one of which is scheduled for Baptism on the 24th. I’m hoping that that will remain as scheduled, both Elder Diede and I felt that something was wrong but we couldn’t qutie tell what it was. They are a very poor family and they have been and are being hit pretty hard with adversity and trials. I know that it is those kind of people that need the gospel the most. And a lot of times for those people the opportunity of coming to church and becoming a faithful member of the church seems physically impossible or out of reach; but, I have learned that no matter what, if we are “seeking first the kingdom of God,” ALL things will then be added unto us. They will be blessed temporally because of their decision and I know that to be true for all of us. 

The next day we went out to Breakfast back in Florence (picking up from the previous story). We were out at Waffle House and Elder Wheatley and Elder Causey (the other ZL) were surprised because of our offer to take the entire ticket (we had kept it a secret that we got the money to pay for it). But, to our surprise, we were told to have a good day without having to pay for our food! Yay! Cool! Awesome! But what do we do now with the money that we weren’t technically supposed to take?! Anyways our meal was paid for and Elder Diede said he would figure it out. Fun times.
Over the next couple of days we taught lessons like machines. It seemed like basically everyone we talked to we were able to at least teach a couple principles usually revolving around the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. We also do sports on Saturday morning with the youth and a couple investigators which is always a good time. The youth in our ward are great, later in the day it poured rain and we took shelter under Lindsey’s porch because we got caught in it coming down harder. Love the weather here.

Sunday was cool. CJ was sustained to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and become a Priest in that priesthood, and Lindsey received her calling as Young Women’s Secretary. I am so excited for both of them. Having the priesthood in CJ and Erica’s home is going to be huge and I hope they will continue on their path to the temple. And I am super excited for Lindsey, she is going to do awesome with the Young Women and as she serves I’m praying that Dylan’s heart will be softened more and more towards the church and the idea of being Baptized. 

Speaking of the temple, this Thursday I’ll finally be able to go and do a session in the Temple again. I couldn’t be more excited. There is a quote that goes something along the lines of seeing your investigators in white twice rather than once. That is the goal. To seal families together in the temple for eternity, and that is what I want for all of the people we meet and teach. I know the covenants I’ve made in the temple are real. And it is what I desire for all of Heavenly Father’s children because the temple is how we can better know Him and better know and understand His plan for us!
I love y’all! If you ever need anything I can help you with, ask. If I can’ help you for whatever reason-maybe it’s because I’m in Alabama, I don’t know-ask God, He loves you and He always wants to help us. 


Elder Milius

 SkyZone and Ice Cream with my District

Me and Elder Wheatley

  My District

Elder Wheatley and me with our investigators

Monday, September 12, 2016

12 September 2016 - Elder Milius Week 11

Friends, Family, and Other People I Love,

How are y’all?! This week wasn’t too eventful and even though it was a day less than usual because of Labor Day it felt like the longest week ever. But most of that was because of the driving we had to do from Florence, the NW corner of AL is furthest from everything I swear.
This past week we had to say goodbye to some Elders and Sisters who were getting transferred out of our District which is a sad thing. The good thing though is that we got new missionaries and now I know some Elders and Sisters around the mission that aren’t just in my Zone so that’s a plus! We started to set up Basketball at the church to hopefully get some of our investigators to see us without a shirt and tie so that they know we are normal people, which honestly really helps them soften their hearts towards us and towards the church.
We also got to go back and see Precious, it’s been forever. She seemed super solid but now we have our doubts...I think she is kind of nervous of change and she’s just been through a lot, but we got back in her home and her sister, Paige, was there. The discussion was really focused on the Book of Mormon and how the answers to our questions and problems can be found by reading the scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon. Paige started to go off with questions like “If there was a God then why this or why that and why do we have to go through so much? Why do I have to suffer more than you? Etc., etc.” I made an attempt at closing the lesson with testimony of the Book of Mormon so that we could at least leave with the Spirit there. We weren’t able to make the appointment we set with them for yesterday but I’m not sure what’s going to happen. That experience was good though for me because it put in perspective the necessity of the Book of Mormon, of reading the Book of Mormon, and for later reasons I will discuss in paragraphs below.
Our District is awesome! We have one new Zone Leader and there are also two brand new Sister Missionaries who are ready to go. The MTC really helps jump start you as a new missionary. Other than that Thursday was a really long and slow day. I felt like nothing got done and like we taught no one. But, as the night was closing we managed to somehow teach a few people and get closer to the goal we had set for that day. It’s been a testimony to me that as you make plans, even though they may fall through or not work out, the Lord will bless you for that effort and by following the Spirit we can have the success God wants to give us; the success He wants to have. 
On Friday, we had to drive down to Gardendale which isn’t quite in Birmingham but that’s the closest place y’all know. We had a “Follow-up Trainers/Trainee” meeting and so I got to see all the missionaries I came out with which was really cool. It’s interesting to see what six weeks in the mission field does to brand new 18-20 year olds. The Lord’s Missionary Work is a miracle in it of itself. The discussion was mainly about the basics: The Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Nep 31) and the Atonement. Sister Sainsbury lead the Atonement discussion and it really opened my eyes about what the Atonement really means to us, not only as missionaries but as children of God and as Christ’s siblings. She pointed out that we are all going to have hard days, long days, slow days, terrible awful horrendous days. But, as we go through those tough times and as we experience trial, tribulation, and affliction we come closer to the Savior. We get to experience a little of what the Savior felt not only in the Garden of Gethsemane but throughout His ministry. When we suffer through our pains, we will inevitably come closer to Jesus Christ. (Alma 36:16-21 and 1 Nephi 19:9).
Along with that amazingly spiritual meeting and learning opportunity, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Twelve came and spoke to the Tupelo Stake on Sunday. The focus of the meeting was about covenants. And, as we remember and keep the sacred covenants we make with our Heavenly Father, they should CHANGE us. We should and ought to be better, simply because of our covenants with our Father in Heaven. Something else that stuck out to me as a missionary is everything we do as members of the church can tie back the the Restoration of the gospel. And you think about how powerful and how real the one experience a young boy had in the spring of 1820, and it blows me away. Elder Renlund talked about some questions he and his wife had been asked in the past. These questions ranged from simple “Why do you not drink coffee?” to “What is significant about Adam-ondi-ahman?” He said his answer was always: “Well, the short answer is in the spring of 1820, a young boy named Joseph Smith…” The Restoration is true. It happened and because it happened everything we do is based somewhat on the fact that Joseph Smith restored Christ’s original church on the earth, that is it the only true and living church, and that he was a prophet called of God.
This week was awesome, and Missions are awesome! I love the church, I love the scriptures, I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love all y’all! Stay safe, and if anyone needs anything let me know! You have my email!

Elder Milius

P.S.: The pictures are from an Original Southern cotton field. #yeagerginco 

Elder Canty, Elder Milius, Elder Hanratty

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

6 September 2016 - Elder Milius Week 10

Family and Friends,

First order of business...I am staying in the Promised Land! I’m lucky enough to get to serve in Florence, AL, for another six weeks alongside my companion Elder Wheatley. We are stoked for the success that we think we can have in the next Transfer and I’ll keep y’all updated with that!

So this week was a bit busier than the past couple weeks. We were able to go do a Family Home Evening night with one of the Less-Active/Part-Member families in the ward (Candy and Jeremy). Candy is the member in the family and they have two super crazy kids Emma (7) and Bryant (5). Jeremy had had an accident at work the last week and so the Bishop came with us to drop us off and we were able to give Jeremy a blessing. It was cool to see how much he has opened up to the gospel here recently and Candy even commented on how we have been able to kind of get to him. We’ve also been told that Jeremy is saying prayers with the kids at night which is awesome. They are a great family and I look forward to the day when it all clicks.

I was also given the opportunity to go on an exchange with my District Leader ELder Honeycutt. We talked a lot about what I had learned over the past six weeks on a mission and we also had a deeper discussion about God’s plan for us. The concept of foreordination and predestination are a little in the grey area to some people. God does have a plan for us, and He knows everything we have done, we do currently as well as everything we will do. However, because of our gift of Agency, we are entitled to choose our own path. Therefore, we are all “foreordained” to be on the path that leads back to our Father in Heaven. This path may vary for some, but ALL of us, in order to receive the blessings of eternal life, must hit these key indicators:
  1. Birth
  2. Faith
  3. Repentance
  4. Baptism
  5. Receiving the Holy Ghost
  6. Receive Temple Ordinances
  7. Endure to the End
  8. Death
  9. Resurrection
For men, there are a few more “key indicators” that include the priesthood, but it was interesting for us to break down God’s foreordination to apply to all His children. So does God care who I marry? Does He care whether I make choice A or choice B? Not necessarily, but God does care about you and He is going to lead you to meet the people and to make the choices that will keep you more straight and more narrow on the path of happiness.

This week was also what the town of Florence calls “First Fridays.” Every first friday of the month people come to a strip of two or three blocks downtown where they set up booths to show awareness of certain groups or sell things or whatever really. With school (UNA is the local college) starting up there were tons of people to talk to and meet. First Fridays is a missionary’s dream come true….and we have arranged to be able to set up a “Meet the Mormons” booth so we are pretty pumped for October.

Unlike Friday, Labor Day yesterday was boring to say the least. No one was out walking around, downtown seemed like it was a ghost town, and everyone was either with family here and busy or out of town with family. But, it wasn’t a total failure. I had a goal to read the Book of Mormon once every transfer and yesterday I finished it for transfer one. I have fallen in love with the scriptures and I know that they are God’s tool to answer our questions. No matter what the scriptures will never lead us astray. I love this gospel more than anything and I am becoming more and more grateful for my decision to serve everyday-even the boring ones. Nothing is more rewarding than directly serving our Heavenly Father, hand-in-hand with our Brother Jesus Christ.

I love y’all and thank you for the support you’ve given me! If you ever need anything or have any question just shoot me an email! God Bless!

Elder Milius

P.S.: The pictures are of my crazy Zone (The Tupelo Mississippi North Zone) and of the empty ghost town due to Labor Day. Enjoy! Sorry about the lack of pictures, I’m working on a balance!

(Excerpt from Michael's letter to Mom and Dad - I had to include because he shares some funny stories)

This week was great as you can see from my general email, and I’m not getting transferred! Wahoo! I love Florence and I love the people here. My companion got assigned to be the District Leader which he’s not super excited about because he only has three more transfers but he is basically the only one who can do it. Our District is becoming a Relief Society, it’s our companionship, the Zone Leader companionship, and then three Sister companionships. This will make next Transfers go pretty crazy too, we don’t know what’s going to happen but we are excited for the next six weeks! We are looking to baptize at least 3 this transfer and hopefully get a 4th set up for the beginning of the next transfer as well as a possible family who could proved for 4 baptisms themselves. The work is hastening and Florence is about to explode. Elder Wheatley and I are about to “thrust in our combines.” (I don’t know if you remember that from that Scout Camp that was forever ago, but Mike Mortenson would appreciate that quote. Next time you see him tell him I’m thrusting in my combine and see what he says!). 
President sent us an email last week that talked about Visions, Goals, and Plans. So, with that in mind I found my “vision” as a missionary. First of all “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ...I have been called of Him…”(3 Nep 5:13). Second, “I know that He [God] loveth His children, nevertheless…”(1 Nep 11:16-17). And third, “What can I do more?...” (Jac 5:47). I had a blast this past week in the scriptures! I also found my “vision” as a pediatrician in 3 Nep 17:21 and in Moroni 8. I love the scriptures.

Also some funny stories: This past week we got a call from the sisters and they said that their car wasn’t working so at about 8:30-9 at night we start walking to rescue the. We get all the way down our street and get a second call in which they explained that they just forgot to turn the key all the way on before putting it in reverse and that they were at our apartment….great. It turned out okay because they brought us candy and stuff. But it’s amazing how much you start to care and love for not only the investigators you’re around but also the missionaries you serve around. Funny story two was at dinner on Sunday we got invited over to a member’s home for dinner. Y’all know that I do not really do seafood a whole bunch but lucky for me we were having a shrimp boil! So on Sunday I ate boil shrimp and king crab legs! I mentally was just like whatever I’m going for it and it worked for the most part. I didn’t enjoy the crab but the shrimp I was at least able to get through. I’ll never seek it out and I’m still not a huge fan but God gives you power on your mission to eat whatever let me tell you. I just hope I’m never given anything that has a smell or taste greater than God’s power.
It seems like things continue to go really well for you and I’m glad time is flying by! Love you guys tons and I hope God is blessing y’all as much as he assures me. I’m praying for you, I miss you, but honestly what’s two years got on eternity?!

Love Your First Elder,

P.S.: I almost forgot! I got a letter at Zone Training this week and it was from Sister Hayward and the Activity Day Girls! It seriously made me so happy and I wrote them a response letter that I got sent off today so hopefully they get it! Have a great week in AZ!

The Tupelo Mississippi North Zone

 The GHOST town streets of Florence on Labor Day