Elder John Miller

Elder John Miller

Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 20, Cooks Inlet YSA, Anchorage


The ball in New York will drop at 8 here, so I should be able to watch
it. Sweet.

This week has been pretty crazy. It's my first full week in the area,
and it's been super hectic. That's Christmas for you. Because it's so
dark all the time people put up tons of Christmas decorations. It's
been hard to get into the Christmas season, but it was a lot of fun.
We carolled a lot as a district and zone so that was fun. I finally
got to sing again. It's been a pretty relaxing week, a little hard to
work because of the holidays, but relaxing nonetheless. This week will
probably be the same. All the YSA people are home from college right
now for break, so our ward is mondo. They'll all leave again next
week, but that's okay. We'll keep going without them.

Monday night was probably one of the hardest days of my mission. We
texted one of our investigators, Marc, to see if we could meet with
him. He responded by telling us he was feeling suicidal. Then he told
us he was going to shoot himself. So we had a suicidal investigator on
our hands. At this point Elder Crawford had no idea what to do and
went into full panic mode, so I was basically left alone to handle the
situation. After trying several times to contact him and failing, we
contacted as many of his friends as we could to try and get them to
contact him. They also failed. So we called the mission president who
gave us the number to a suicide hotline who told us to call the
police. So we called the police, who also couldn't contact him because
it turns out the address he gave us was his work, not his home. So at
this point I have no idea what to do. We had already been praying a
lot, but at this point I think I was praying harder than I have ever
prayed in my life. And then, thankfully, one of his friends finally
got in contact with him. He never responded to us that night, but he
was okay. He ended up taking his gun and firing it into the air
repeatedly, Hot Fuzz style I guess. I was just relieved he was okay.

We weren't able to do much Tuesday, but we did drop off a gift for
Marc, which helped him out. We finally got him to contact us that
night and we set up an appointment for Wednesday. His mom died last
Saturday and he was really struggling with depression. He told us that
it was because of us that he was still alive. No pressure.

Wednesday we had a very long service project. We helped a woman set up
her new house. It's been so long since I've had to set up an x box,
but it comes back to you I guess. We were movers for a little while.
So many couches. Then we had our meeting with Marc. It went really
well. We taught him about the plan of salvation and then he committed
to baptism! So we now have an investigator on date, which is awesome.
Sometimes things just go right, through no fault of our own. It was a
good day.

Christmas eve was sweet. We basically just did a bunch of service
projects. We helped another person move in to their house, and we
dropped off a bunch of random Christmas gifts. It was a lot of fun
seeing people get excited about it. Then for dinner we were fed moose
steak. It was delicious. John Petijohn, the guy who signed up to feed
us, is leaving on his mission in three weeks. The family gave us ties,
mine is pretty cool. It was a good day.

Christmas was awesome. I got to open presents and everything. My haul
was pretty good this year, mostly clothes, but hey that's being a
missionary for ya. We basically get the day off, because nobody wants
you to come by, so in the morning we had a brunch with the senior
couples and in the afternoon we partied with the mission president.
That's how we do it up here in Alaska. Then I got to Skype home, I'm
sure mom recorded the whole thing, and that was really nice. Made me
miss home a little bit, but good none the less. Then there was dinner.
It was glorious. We went to the Fleeners and they made prime rib. And
it was so good. So much meat. I can say that it wasn't as good as
mom's, but it was delicious anyways. Either could eat that meal
everyday till I die. It was a heavenly day.

Saturday we went back to work, which was nice because that's why I'm
here. We taught a lesson in the morning to our investigator Rhiannon,
which was good. She was feeling it, we were feeling it, the building
was feeling it. Then we went to Marc's mom's funeral. I can tell you,
you don't know weeping until you go to a Filipino funeral. Then Marc
got up and gave the best eulogy I've ever heard and literally dropped
the mic. It was an accident, but he still dropped the mic. It was nice
to be able to be there for him, and he's really looking forward to a
brighter future now instead of focusing so much on the darkness.

Then Sunday I had perhaps one of the funniest dinners of my mission.
We went to our Bishop's house, and he and his wife are both very
straightforward people. Sister McCarrey starts in on fixing Elder
Crawford's hair because he has no hairstyle. And then Bishop starts.
And then their son starts. And Elder Crawford is just sitting there
refusing to let them fix his hair. I was dying. They were about ready
to tie him down and style it for him, but we got out in time. This has
been a pretty awesome week.

It's much warmer here than I'd think it'd be. It's kind of sad. I
liked freezing to death everyday. But that's just how it goes. The
mountains here in Anchorage are beautiful. Ocean, mountains, forests,
city, what more can you need? Alaska is the best. I wouldn't ever live
here, but it certainly is a fascinating place to be.

Have a happy new year! Make some resolutions, drink some egg nog, try
not to get smashed by the ball.

Elder Miller

This is a hat John's dad got him for Christmas.  He loves it but unfortunately it may not be mission approved attire.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 19, Cooks Inlet YSA, Anchorage

Merry Christmas! 

 This week was pretty good I think. Transfers happened, which was
pretty crazy. Elder Crawford is an interesting guy. This could either
be a really good transfer, or the longest 7 weeks of my life. Only
time will tell I suppose. Either way, I'm pumped to be in this area.
We have work for days. Sort of. 
 Tuesday was crazy day. We had transfer meeting, so we were running
around all day. I went on exchanges in the morning with Elder
Christensen who came out with me, he was in my group in the MTC, and
neither of us really know Anchorage at all. So that was an adventure.
Then we had transfer meeting, which was actually really good this
time. All the departing testimonies were powerful, plus I actually
knew some of the people so it had more effect. Then the craziness
resumed because we had to unpack and pick up the Elders serving in
Barrow, so I got to hang out with Elder Rogers, my MTC companion for a
day. That was fun. 
 Wednesday was just as hectic. We had the Barrow elders with us till 2
so we lost a lot of time. Then we lost got our car towed at the
airport. It was funny. Then we had a service project for homeless
people for hours. It was pretty fun. 
 Thursday we had a dinner party for foster care families in the area.
It was super busy, but it was a lot of fun. I was the juice guy. I
made a lot of juice. So much juice. It was ridiculous. Apparently we
do a lot of service in Anchorage, but it's really good stuff so it's
ll good. 
 Friday was filled with meetings and caroling. But we picked up a new
investigator named Mark, who is the most excited I've ever seen
someone be for meeting with the missionaries. He's super cool and it's
exciting to teach people that are super pumped about it. He's had a
cray life and he's trying to change, so we're helping him out. He came
to church with us Sunday, it was cool. 

Saturday we had a lesson with a girl named Rhiannon. She's super cool
as well. This ward has a lot of work to do. She was crying like the
whole time from how much she was feeling it. Both of her best friends
just got back from their missions, and they both came and it was
probably the best lesson I've ever been to. It was nuts. After a long
week it was really nice to be able to have a lesson like that. 
 Sunday was also awesome. This ward meets at 1 which is so late. So we
have meetings all day. Then both Mark and Rhiannon came to church
which was cool. We had a fireside that night where all the new
converts in the area bore there testimonies which was also really
powerful. It was a rough, busy week, but it ended really well. 
 Have a merry Christmas everyone! I don't know if I'll be able to reply
to everyone this week, because today will be crazy, but next week I
will! So everyone have a good week and an excellent tool holiday! 

Elder Miller

This is the little tree I sent John so he would have a Christmas tree and the gifts he has received.  Apparently he doesn't realize he can straighten the tree  out a bit.  (note from mom)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 18, Cooks Inlet YSA, Anchorage

People of the universe,

This week has been nuts. I finally got transferred out of Fairbanks.
I'm a little sad, but it's going to be good. I'm serving in Cook Inlet
YSA, which is the YSA ward for the South Anchorage stake. So I cover
all of South Anchorage. Apparently like 60 people come to this YSA, so
it's big enough to be a ward. According to Elder Crawford, my new
companion, it's the best YSA in the mission. So I'm excited. I've been
out 4 and a half months. Elder Crawford has been out for 3, he just
finished getting trained. So I'm greenie breaking him. I just got
greenie broke, now I'm greenie breaking. So neither of us know what's
happening. It's going to be an interesting 7 week transfer.

Monday we went sledding for our p day activity. I have videos and
stuff, but I have no idea how to compress them, so hopefully you get

Tuesday I had my final visit with the Andersons. They're still crazy.
Apparently at one point Glenn was a professional Ultimate Frisbee
player. Who knew? I didn't even know pro Frisbee was a thing until he
showed us a tournament. Then we helped a member with a science
experiment for his science fair and I got to wreck a bunch of other
missionaries with peanut butter.

Wednesday we were on exchanges and we found a new investigator who
isn't actually a new investigator because he's a member. But he agreed
to come to church next week. I'll never get to teach him, but it was
gold that we could find new people. Elder Reading will be training in
Fairbanks and I couldn't leave him with no work.

Thursday we taught Adrian, our new member guy that we found, and
Henry, who's one of our progressing investigators. It's funny, because
while I was in Fairbanks I couldn't get anyone to keep or make
commitments, but the week I leave all our investigators started
actually doing stuff. So I'm hoping that next transfer there's a lot
of success there, even if I couldn't make it happen while I was there.

Friday is transfer call day, but both Elder Reading and I forgot about
it. So when President called we thought we were in trouble. But then
we got transfer calls. We also handed out a Book of Mormon at dinner
again, which was fun. We gave one to a cook at my favorite Mexican
joint in Fairbanks, Tacos Azteca Dos. It was fun.

Saturday I had to go out and by luggage, because I needed an extra bag
for the obscene number of Christmas presents I have. I got all of
them, for any interested parties. I also ate a pound of fudge. It was
delicious. Thanks Grandma. Then we taught our nerd friend Mike Tally,
which was a lot of fun. That was my last lesson in Fairbanks.  (In our defense, most of his obscene amount of Christmas presents were wool socks, glove liners, hats and so forth.  I just wrapped everything separately so he would have more to open.)

Sunday was a day of running around. In ward council we started
formulating the new ward mission plan. Then we went to six hours of
church because we were babysitting another Elder. And then there was a
lot of packing. Packing is very stressful. And now I'm in Anchorage.
We flew in this morning.

I loved Fairbanks, but change should be good. Apparently YSA wards are
the best, so I'm excited. Maybe I'll finally get something done. So
I'm excited. Plus I'll probably get shot at less, so that's an added

Elder Miller

The missionaries in Elder Miller's district.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 17, Alaska, Fairbanks

 This week has been pretty good. Weather is weird. One day it'll be 20
then the next will be -20. You kind of just gotta flip a coin in the
morning. I'm not driving anymore because Elder Reading is learning
how to drive around the area, so the driving has become considerably
less crazy. We blast Christmas music now, most of which has some form
of Opera singer soloist because it's MoTab, so we get funny looks from
other cars. Transfer calls are at the end of this week so if I'm
getting transferred out of Fairbanks, I'll know then. Or if I'm
staying I guess I'll also know. I wouldn't mind staying in this area
for another transfer. That'll put me here for six months. Oofta.
 Monday was apparently Christmas shopping day, but nobody told us, so
we're doing our Christmas shopping today. We also taught a lesson on
Monday, which doesn't normally happen, so that was cool. 
 Tuesday through Thursday we got service trapped hardcore. Brother
Maxon, whose restaurant has serious issues, had to move out. The
building is full of mold because of water damage caused by a leak. So
we were enlisted to help. I didn't mind because they really needed the
help. Brother Maxon has been given a year to live by his doctors. He
has diabetes and he's allergic to insulin, so his blood sugar sits at
around 700. He can get it figured out, but with the restaurant he has
too much stress. So we've been helping them get moved out. Plus we got
a bunch of free Mexican sodas, so bonus. 
 Friday was fun. We were able to do a lot of teaching. At dinner we
were taken out to eat to a restaurant called Tacos Azteca, where we've
eaten 4 times this week. But this time we gave a Book of Mormon to the
woman who works at the counter. Her name is Anna and she's Panamanian,
so we gave her our only Spanish Book of Mormon. There's no Spanish
speaking missionaries in Fairbanks, so this might be interesting.
 Saturday we went to visit Mike Tally, who's less active, and we walked
in on like 10 nerds playing dungeons and dragons. They were fighting a
giant centipede. It killed their sorcerer. Poor guy. We weren't able
to share a lesson, but I made a bunch of nerds laugh, so it was fun.
Then we double dipped for dinner. I'm still in pain from that. Brother
Summers gave us two pound hamburgers. It was so brutal. 
 Sunday was pretty good as well. We were able to watch the Christmas
devotional, and we finally tracked down Lorinda. It turns out she
wasn't avoiding us. She was just avoiding her house. So we're still
teaching her. We're also drafting a new ward mission plan for this
ward, which has been an interesting experience because I don't even
know what a ward mission plan is. 
 Other than that not much happened this week. We had two investigators
open the door naked. That was pretty crazy. Elder Reading totally
didn't even realize that this one girl was naked (she was mostly
hidden behind the door) and he was totally trying to get in the door.
I got us out of there and then explained the situation. We had a good
laugh about that one. It was even funnier because our ward mission
leader was with us. 
 We also went tracting at -20. I don't recommend doing that. We turned
into missionary icicles. It was bad. I couldn't feel my ears or nose,
and my eyes were freezing. It was awesome.

And that's the week. 
Stay gold. 

Elder Miller

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 16, Alaska, Fairbanks

People of the universe, 
    Well we had a warm spell (it got up to 30, holy cow), but now it's
back to -10. We got record breaking snow fall though, which has been
fun. We have several feet outside right now, which is pretty cool.
Since there's no wind here the snow just piles up on everything. The
trees are completely white and there's 6 inches of snow on the
telephone wires, which is funny. If I stay in Fairbanks it will
definitely be a white Christmas. The problem is, transfers are on the
15th, so I could get sent to a new area 10 days before Christmas. If I
don't get transferred I'll be in Fairbanks till February. That'll be
six months up here. 
     This week was crazy. Monday I went to the doctor. Tuesday I had a
procedure done at the hospital. They sedated me and apparently I was
hilarious, but Elder Reading didn't video it, so there's no proof. I
don't remember much sadly. I had to take the rest of the day to
recover, and at dinner that night the struggle was real when I tried
to deliver the spiritual thought. Elder Reading laughed at me. 
     Wednesday was full of service. We got to deliver Thanksgiving packages
to people which was fun. I got the Jeep stuck, because the Jeep is the
worst car ever and there was like 3 feet of snow that day, in a ditch
and we had to Jerry-rig a pulley system to pull it out. We called the
zone leaders and there was a super nice guy named Walter who helped
us. We carry snow shovels around with us now. 
     Thanksgiving is not exciting as a missionary. Nobody wants you to come
to there house, so we just tried visiting a lot of members. We also
shoveled a lot of driveways and got stuck again. And we were fasting
because it was our day for the 40 day fast. Then we had dinner at 5
with the Stiths. Sister Stith is a caterer. It was the best turkey
I've ever had. It was so moist it just fell apart. Normally turkey is
dry, but it wasn't. And they had my favorite kind of cranberries! Yay
canned fruits. Their son was there and he served his mission in
Portland from 09-11 and he served in Dayton and McMinnville, so we
talked about home a lot. It was a good day. There wasn't a turkey bowl
for our ward, but 3rd ward had tackle football, so that was fun. It
was a good day. 
     Friday and Saturday were super uneventful, but Sunday was sweet.
President Robinson was up in Fairbanks for interviews so we hung out
with him for awhile. Then we had correlation meeting, which is always
fun because Brother Goddard is awesome. He's who we'll have dinner
with on Christmas and we'll Skype at his house, if I'm still here. If
I'm somewhere else I have no idea. Then we had our very first lesson
of the week with Karla which was fun. She's really cool, and she's
basically a dry Mormon so that's nice. 
     We also borrowed Axis and Allies from a member and we play it at
nights sometimes. Never start a land war in Asia. It doesn't go well.
Now we're listening to Christmas music and I'm sitting next to a fire
place. Woah. Christmas for days. People go all out with lights up
here. It's pretty cool. 
     In 5 days I'll be 1/6 done with my mission. That's so crazy to me.
Time flies when you're having fun I suppose. Peace out noobs.

Elder Miller

The Ashcrafts cat is just as fat and lazy as Izzy (our cat is Izzy)

We found some seriously large icicles. Then we hurt each other with them.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 14, Alaska Fairbanks

Dear peoples, 
     This week was significantly warmer than last week. It got up to 25
which is practically balmy. When it first got that cold I was all
bundled up. Now I'm just wearing long sleeved shirts and I'm warm
enough. It's funny how that works. It is still getting darker though.
Right now we have about 6 hours of light. At the darkest point it will
be 3. I'm looking forward to it because you can see the Aurora like
all night long, which is pretty sweet. 
     This week was pretty slow. A lot of going around and trying people and
no one being home. Tuesday we set up a bunch of lessons, but we
weren't really able to teach anyone. It was rough. Days like that feel
very, very long. 
     Wednesday was more fun. That night we met up with Larry and I got my
political ranting quota for the week filled. He went off man. It was
crazy. We couldn't stop him, and he ranted about politics for an hour.
It reminded me of home. I understand now why men shouldn't watch the
news. Kids, don't let your dads watch the news. They go crazy. 
     Thursday we had a lesson with Lorinda. She's doing a lot better. We
have another lesson with her soon, hopefully she'll start coming to
church. She read like half the Book of Mormon in one night and
annotated it. We also got to do some service. You start missing
service when you don't do it for a long time, so it felt good. We also
saw an oven big enough that you could cook an elephant in it. It was
impressive. There was no elephant meat though. 
     Friday slowed down again, which wasn't fun. Saturday was the same. But
we got to double dip (have two dinners) Saturday which was fun.
There's a guy in the ward named Spencer Ashcraft who looks exactly
like Jim Gaffigan. We also met with Tim Sirap, who just got off house
arrest, and my main man Clint, who is still absolutely insane. It was
a good night. 
     Sunday was fun because we had dinner with the Andersons. They made a
boss chili. They also had the Cardinals-Bengals game playing in the
background and it reminded me that I miss football. But it's okay that
I can't watch it because the Sea hawks aren't doing great anyways.
They could still squeeze in there though, ya never know. Also, Glen's
sister is a Broadway singer and tours with Meatloaf (the singer, not
the food) and Maria keeps telling me to be an actor and it hurts my
soul. I love them. They're also crazy. Why is everyone crazy? 
     Other than that, Elder Reading is awesome. He has Munchkin so we play
it on P days. He's also just a massive nerd, so that's nicer than
talking about swimming all the time. Other than that, I'm pretty good.
Sorry there weren't a ton of adventures this week, but I guess not
every week can be totally crazy. Too bad huh? 

Elder Miller

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 13, Alaska, Fairbanks

Hello people's,

This week has been pretty crazy, but it was a good week like usual. My
new companion is Elder Reading. He's a fun guy, he's super nerdy,
which is fun. We geek out sometimes, and it's pretty sad. I'll be here
in Fairbanks till at least mid-December, the beginning of February at
the latest. This week I saw the coldest weather I've ever seen in my
life. It was -15 out one day. If you breathe through your noses your
nose hairs freeze and your nostrils stick together. It's funny, but it
also means you have to breathe through your mouth all the time, so now
my throat is dry and I'm sick, which is unpleasant. It's just a cold,
no worries there, it's just annoying.

Monday we got up bright and early to take Elder Jesperson to the
airport, so I was with Elder Kettle who's serving in 5th ward for two
days because we didn't pick up our new companions till Tuesday night.
We had dinner with Bishop Roe, the previous bishop in the ward.
Apparently he would swear from the pulpit. He's hilarious though. He
always asks us for mission gossip. This ward is crazy. I feel like
people back home weren't this crazy. 

Tuesday was transfer meeting, so we watched all the departing
missionaries give their departing testimonies. It's funny how easy it
is to tell the people who cared about their mission and who didn't.
I'm hoping when I give my departing testimony it'll be clear that I
cared. Of course, I still got some time before I get there. Then that
night we picked up our companions from the airport. Elder Reading is
kind of a small, unintimidating kind of guy, so now they have two of
the smallest elders in the same ward. We're terrible at two on two
basketball now. He just came up from the Northern Lights Samoan ward,
so he eats like crazy. It's hilarious. He just doesn't stop, then he's
hungry an hour later. 

Wednesday and Thursday we pretty uneventful, but we were able to visit
a few people. We taught a few lessons, got lost a few times because
neither of us are masters of our area, and ate a lot of pizza. It was
a pizza filled week. 

Friday picked up though. We taught Lorinda and we brought a member so
we didn't have to do a lesson outside. We brought Brother Blankenship
who is a crazy old man, so it was an interesting lesson. The goal is
to get members to every lesson we have, but everyone works except for
old people, and all our investigators are young single mom's. It
doesn't work too well sometimes. But we're working on it! We have a
lot of spreadsheets right now. Too many spreadsheets. 

Saturday was great. We taught four lessons that day. We also attended
two baptisms, one was for a convert in 3rd ward, the other was for a
kid in our ward. It was really nice. It was a spiritual day, which
helped soothe my anxiety of being greenie -broke. The transfer after
you finish training is your greenie-brake transfer, which is stressful
because you're the only one who knows the area so everything is up to
you. No pressure. 

Sunday was a good Sabbath. There were three investigators at church.
The Smiths, who were with their friends the Kennedys, and Jennifer who
we got there with a member. It was awesome. Jennifer is crazy. She was
not afraid at all to participate in Gospel Principles or Relief
Society, and people were really good at fellowshipping her. We stopped
by her house after church to see how she liked it and she attack
hugged me. Elder Reading laughed at me.  Jennifer creeps on me a
little, it's weird man. 

So that's the week. I'm doing pretty good. Following the rules, not
driving like an idiot, freezing to death, it's all good. It's
currently -20 out right now, so that's an exciting development.
Tracting becomes significantly less effective at these temperatures.
Man I wish I hadn't run out of wool socks. Such is life. Have a great
week everybody. 

Elder Miller

The only picture I got this week was of this giant burrito that Elder Miller is apparently pretty proud of.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 12, Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear people of the universe,

This week was pretty awesome. It was the last week of the transfer, so
we had the choice of piling out or going hard in the paint. We went
hard. It was awesome. Everything's on the up and up right now. It just
keeps snowing. I love it. It'll probably get old at some point, but
for now it's just a lot of fun.

Monday we went to go see a couple places because it was my last week
with Elder Jesperson. We went out to North Pole, which was cool. Ill
send you pictures. I nerded out because they had a ton of playmobiles.
It was kind of sad, but I don't really care. Then we went to Hilltop
Truck stop to get stickers. It's at the top of a hill (duh) like 13
miles out of town. On the way back down Elder Jesperson thought it
would be a good idea to turn the traction control off on me. It was so
much fun. 

There was this wide curve and there was no way I was going
to resist the temptation to power slide around it. So that's exactly
what I did. I pulled the e-brake, probably the stupidest thing to do
in the snow without traction, and I locked the car into a sweet power
slide. As we round this curve going down hill, we see the semi coming
up the other side. So now we're locked into a power slide in iminent
danger of getting broadsided by a semi. At this point Elder Jesperson
is grabbing both the OH Crap handles. I release the e-brake, punch the
car into high gear (it's a floppy paddle), and try and gas it out of
the slide. After about 1.7 seconds (for an android and people about to
die, that's an eternity) the car finally grips and I can gas it out of
the slide. We almost rolled the jeep. It was awesome. Of course that's
all theoretical. 

Tuesday we had the best district meeting ever. It was all about
charity and everyone was feeling it. Then we had a lesson with a
recent convert named Taryn, and we made her teach us the Restoration.
It was funny. She was a little off, but that's what we're here for.
Teaching is fun. We also teach Jersey, her 8 year old sister. It's fun
to teach kids because you have to have creative lesson plans to keep
their attention. It doesn't always work. Kids man. We took Brother
Goddard, our new ward mission leader, to a lesson. That lady was
hostile. It wasn't the best. But he's super excited to do missionary
work again. He went to Chile on his mission. Now he's a statistician
and had 6 kids. He's like 35. He's crazy. 

 Wednesday I had the craziest dinner of my life. Nettle had us over
because she had questions about the Joseph Smith translations in the
Bible. She really just wanted to bash with us. Her husband Frank is
super cool though. He has arms the size of my chest. It's scary. After
all the bashing was done (she didn't understand our points because she
really didn't care about what we said. It was awesome) we had this
awesome guava cake. It was delicious. 
Thursday we shoveled. We shoveled a lot. We said we would come help
this awesome sister who's going through a divorce shovel her driveway.
Her driveway was the size of our our apartment. But it felt so good to
do service. We don't do a whole lot of it, so it felt good to just

Friday was transfer call day. We didn't get out transfer call till
Saturday morning though. 
Friday we had zone meeting. I danced. There's
a video. I'll send it. I actually have videos and pictures to send
this week. So that's a change. Friday our teaching slowed down. We
taught like 12 lessons this week, which is better than normal. 

 Saturday,owning we got our transfer call. Elder Jesperson is going to
Sterling on the peninsula to be a zone leader, and I'm staying here in
Fairbanks. My new companion is named Elder Reading. It'll be a good
transfer. We also went by the Andersons. I love them so much. They're
probably my favorite investigators. Maria told me I should be an
actor. They love us. They just have a lot of questions about random
things which keeps it interesting. We can't go in and teach a lesson,
they ask the funniest questions and it pulls us off topic. But we'll
get through all the basics eventually.

Sunday was also fun. We talked, I sang, people liked it. It was pretty
good. Then we went around, Elder Jesperson said a few goodbyes, then
we packed for a long time. It was rough. 

So that's pretty much the week. It was good. Hopefully you people are
having good weeks too. Missions are more fun than I thought. This has
been the fastest 3 months of my life. It's been hard for sure, but
it's really just rewarding. 

 Elder Miller

Play Mobils

The North Pole

Fairbanks Zone Conference

A little video of John

Apparently the dance video John refers to in his video is to big of a file to send. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 11, Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear friends and family and other people too I guess maybe 

It's certainly a winter wonderland outside right now. Everything's
covered in snow, it's 20 degrees, and it's dark. We get about 7 1/2
hours of sunlight a day, but we lose about 7 minutes a day, soon it'll
be 10. So we don't have much daylight left and it's rapidly
decreasing. The snow started again on Thursday and it hasn't really
stopped since. The snow is awful here. It's too dry and cold for it to
lack well, so you can't make snowballs with it. It's basically white
dust falling from the sky. Driving is fun on it because it blows every
which way. I like driving in the snow. Sometimes I turn the traction
control off, and rally car it around sharp corners. The Jeep sucks,
but at least it power slides well. As for the cold, well it's just
getting colder. It's not supposed to go above freezing too often in
the next week, and then not at all after that.

As for the week, it was pretty good. It wasn't super eventful though.
We taught a couple lessons, tracted in the snow, had a lot of generic
Chinese food, and tried really hard. Everyone gets really grumpy
around 6 30 because it's dark and cold at that point, so our
effectiveness goes down. And during the day we teach so many single
moms, because everyone else is working. So our teaching pool is
struggling, but that means we just have to work harder at finding.
Especially through members. Our investigators are all still good, plus
we picked up a new guy named Henry. He's a boss, literally and
figuratively. Jennifer, Karla, and Lorinda are all doing good, they're
just busy so we can't teach them as often as we like. 

Elder Jesperson and I are speaking in church next Sunday. I'm also
singing. They figured out that I've sung in church before, and now
they're working me for it. We're speaking about missionary work
because next week our Ward is starting a 40 day fast for missionary
work. We also just got a new Ward mission leader (Brother Gottard)
which is great because now we have a Ward mission leader who is
excited. We're getting an assistant Ward mission leader next week too,
so it's awesome. The Ward is super excited about missionary work, and
that's really helpful because everything slows down in the winter, so
if we can get referals we can keep teaching people instead of tracting
at -40.

Halloween was pretty terrible. We couldn't tract or anything so we
went around trying to visit people, but literally no one answered
their door. Then we had to go in at 7. And we couldn't even hand out
candy. So it was kinda dumpy. But the trunk or treat on Thursday was
fun. The Bishop dressed as Napolean Dynamite. He's 50, but his costume
was perfect. It was so great. 

So yeah, that's the week. I'm now 1/8th done with the mission, and
it's gone by crazy fast. What the heck is this? 


Elder Miller

Monday, October 26, 2015

Alaska Week 10, Fairbanks

Dear people,

 So I'm trying this new thing that I learned where I put a bunch of
names in the send to bar thing so that everyone doesn't have to look
up my updates and stuff. I figured this would be more convenient for
people. I'll send personal emails out too, don't worry.

 This week has been pretty crazy. Crazy in a good way though. Things
are starting to really pick up, which is quite nice. We have about 6
investigators left at this point, all of which are actually
progressing, but because we have so few we have to go finding all the
time, which usually means a lot of tracting. Knocking doors can get
old, but it's good. It gives me a reason to break out the sweaters.
Also the fact that it's 30 degrees out gives me a reason to break out
the sweaters.
 Tuesday we went on exchanges. Elder Jesperson made a joke that I
would be able to talk to all the people we're never able to talk to
when he's there. And then we actually did. We set up like 6
appointments, it was pretty funny. Elder Jesperson also has pretty bad
ADD so he loves to talk, meaning that when we teach he does a lot of
the teaching because he just keeps going. It's a good thing because I
learn a lot from what he says and how he teaches, but when I went on
exchanges with Elder Kettle I had to do 75% of the teaching. I felt
like I was actually doing my job, it was nice. I also got the package
Tuesday. Please stop sending me candy. Please. 

 Wednesday we had our last meeting with Daniel, our 7th Day Adventist
friend. He tried to convert us. It didn't work. He's moving down to
Tennessee because he likes the super hardcore Southern pastors better.
So this ones up to you Grandma. We also tracted for hours because we
didn't have anyone to teach that day. We were super discouraged
because tracting can get old pretty fast. I pulled the car over on a
street and I was thinking to myself ""If we can't get anything here,
we're done. We've been tracting forever, we'll find something else to
do." So we rang the doorbell of the first house on the street. No
answer. So we knocked. The guy answered the door and said "You rang
the doorbell and we didn't answer so...... yeah go away" so we went to
the next house. Some crazy old guy. At this point Elder Jesperson says
"Man, it seemed like in Ketchikan every time we went tracting we found
a potential." So at this point we're both discouraged. We knock on the
last door of the street, they had a colorful mailbox so I had hope.
This woman answers the door. She remarked on our nice appearance, and
then talked to us for a minute. She was about to have dinner with her
family so she didn't have much time but said we could come back later.
We started walking away when she opened the door again and invited us
to come in and have dinner with her family. We had a dinner
appointment, but we went back to the Andersons the next day.

 Thursday we picked up Elder Perkins, who is serving in Barrow but had
come down to Fairbanks for zone conference on Friday. He's a real life
cowboy, it's awesome. You remember that Cliven Bundee guy? Elder
Perkins worked for the guy who took that guys cattle. He got death
threats and everything. His dream is to own rodeos. He's awesome. That
day we went back to the Andersons and talked with Maria, the woman was
at the door, and her husband Glenn "the Glenner" Anderson. They're the
coolest people. He's a radio show host, stand up comedian, actor,
they're both crazy hippies, and everyone in the family is basically a
professional skater. We had a crazy lesson with them. They're probably
going to come to church next week too. Maria was worried because she
doesn't want people to judge her husband, he's a local celebrity and
everyone here knows him, but everyone we talked to was like "Baptize
them, they're the coolest people in town."" So that's our goal. 

 Friday we had zone conference, which is basically a 7 hour meeting.
IT was really good. There's always a testimony meeting at the end,
which was really cool. Then we had dinner at Clint Summers house. That
man is a walking party. He loves to swear and rag on his psycho ex
wife, but he's one of the nicest human beings I've ever met. 

 Saturday we had the adult session of stake conference. We got Larry
and Svetlana to come, which was really good for them because it was
amazing. I think President Duval, the stake president, will be a
general authority some day. He used to have a lot of reading problems,
so he memorized like half the scriptures and his talks are always
crazy good. Sunday was more of that, but after church we had a lesson
with Lorinda, who's working through all her issues and is making
progress, she just has a hard time seeing it. We also had a lesson
with Jennifer, who volunteered to come to church with us. What's up
with all of these people wanting to come to church? Aren't they
supposed to make our lives hard?

 So yeah, everything's going good here in Alaska. If Yahoo Weather is
to be believed (which it isn't, it's the worst) It should snow
everyday next week. So that'll be fun. Stay frosty down south.

Elder Miller

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 9 in Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear family,

It gets in the 20s every night. Your weather app is weak. Pretty soon it'll be permanently in the 20s. Then the 10s. And so on and so forth. Winter is settling in. Today is icy. I'm the designated driver now, so I get to deal with it. Our cars headlights are bad, so driving in the dark is fun. Never buy a Jeep Compass. Worst car ever. I preferred the red car. But last night an incredibly dense fog rolled in. Then there was lightning. We drove down this old dirt road with a thousand potholes looking for this house that we couldn't find so we got out and started walking. Someone was listening to music really loud in a house down the street so all we could hear was this droning bass. I was literally in a horror movie. Halloween up here is spooky. Everyone has hanging effigies and weird, really dark stuff. If we don't stay in the city limits, every neighborhood we go to is basically a cult commune. Interesting doesn't even begin to describe it.

On Tuesday I came the closest I've ever come to being found dead in a ditch. We were tracting this culty street, and we knock on the last door when this lady comes outside of another house and starts screaming at us. She was yelling all manner of obscenities and about how Jesus wouldn't save us and that kind of fun stuff, so we walked away. She followed us down the street, screaming and yelling. I thought about turning around and just yelling back at this vile woman, but when I turned my head I noticed she was ready to draw a gun on us. If I had been like Lot's wife and turned around I might have gotten shot. So I didn't. We got in the car and left really fast. I've almost died a couple times up here, but that's the closest I've ever come to being murdered by a sad lady who thought I was ruining the world. I'm getting kind of tired of almost dying in not cool ways. Death by moose is cool. Death by deranged old woman is less cool. I'm not ready to make the eternal transfer just yet.

Other than that we had a really good week. Our Ward is getting really excited about missionary work. We had a really good lesson at the Bishops house on Sunday with our investigator Karla. She could probably use a prayer. She's recently divorced and has four kids, two of which live with her and are in high school. The others are moved out. We also have an investigator named Jennifer who's a hippie woman. She's 24 and has a 5 year old daughter, I don't know if I already told you about her, but she's a really solid investigator and has a lot of interest and desire to learn. Oh, we also learned that Lorinda, who's 20 with a 1 year old, has a psychotic exish boyfriend who does meth, sells drugs, and abuses her. He has face tattoos, and the anarchy symbol and swastikas tattooed on his hands. So I could use some help. Sh needs a lot of prayers, and I don't really know how to help her. We keep going over to teach her, we can't when he's there, and she loves the Gospel, but if she can't break free from this guy it doesn't matter. And we can't call the police, and she won't. The whole situation is messy.

But this has been a good week. I get up everyday excited for another adventure.

I know it's Old Testament  this year, that's why I've been reading it too. I just finished the book of Job today, so tomorrow I start on Psalms. Some of its confusing but most of it makes sense. Isaiah may get a little tougher though. We'll see. I'm also studying the Book of Mormon. I finished it and now over started over. I'm at the end of second Nephi, and I'm going through and marking up my scriptures. It's been really helpful. I wonder how many times I'll be able to read though it on my mission. 

Life in Alaska is crazy as usual.

Elder Miller
Elder Miller enjoying cream puffs from one of the ward members.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 8 in Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear family,

Yay, boxes. I already have a flashlight, but I can use another. Hats are good too. I think I'll need a better scarf soon too. But that can come later. ( I told John in my letter to him that I just sent a box last Friday and there were flashlights and hats in it. )

We have a couple investigators who are progressing. The first is Lorinda. She's really awesome, but she's got a lot of troubles. She's twenty, has a one year old son, and her sons dad died right after he was born. She has a crazy ex boyfriend who has so many tattoos. They're on his face, hands, and feet. And hey aren't the nice "heart with mom inside" kind of tattoo. We've never met him, but she tells us about him and it's not a good situation. I think if we ever go over there when he's there there would be a good likelihood of something bad happening. So that's a sticky situation, and I would rather not get in a fight with someone with face tattoos. So we could really use some prayers there. She loves the lessons, although because she has no religious background it takes time to get all the points across so it's going slowly. She's progressing though, and she may get baptized. We just need to put her on date.

We also have a recent convert were teaching named Taryn Dyer. She's 15 and lives in a really weird family situation. She lives here with her mom, step dad, aunt, and older sister and niece. It's her aunts apartment though. I don't know how they fit that many people In those apartments. They're a slum. My Ward mission leader owns them. He's a slum lord (not really). So we were teaching her the first lesson, because whoever taught her in California where she was baptized didn't do too hot so we have to go over everything again (normally you can just check for understanding and move on) and her older sister comes out and starts talking about her baby daddy, who she joked about getting her Uncle Mitch to murder. These people have exciting lives, it's just sad that they're not the good kind of exciting. But we ended up teaching the older sister, Rikki, who we now have a return appointment with.

Our last investigator wig potential is Carla O'Donaghue, who is a 45ish year old woman who's recently divorced. She probably has the most potential of any of them, but I don't really like grading people by potential. I look at everyone like they're a child of God, and I'm pretty sure He doesn't value one of them over another because of their potential for baptism. Anyways, she has two kids still at home who we can also probably teach and help the three of them find the Church, which would be awesome.

No one in Alaska is normal. I don't think anyone anywhere is normal. We were talking to someone and they said this "Everyone in Alaska is running from something, whether they know it or not. People come here for the adventure, for the solitude, for the ease of escape. You know why? Because life sucks, and you're in the state where everyone who can't handle that fact runs to so they can try and fix what's broken inside them. Everyone you see here is broken. They're all trying to get fixed. None of hem ever do." And after that wonderful bit of nihilistic hopelessness we moved on. That guy was not an investigator. Elder Pulou, one of the zone leaders, said this in a zone meeting later "We street contacted a born again Christian woman who said she had been saved 20 years ago and didn't need to talk to the missionaries. Guess what. She was saved way before that. We've all been saved, we just have to make it back. People up here in Alaska have a lot of problems, but they can find salvation just as easily as you or I. We've all been saved, whether we want to be or not. So go out and fix what's broken." This was a crazy spiritual week. It was awesome.

This week had its low points, but I'm still doing good. It's a lot of fun up here, as well as spiritual. I'm exhausted too. But I can't catch up on sleep for a while. I got to go on a road trip to Nanana which is about 100 miles south of here, and Elder Jesperson slept the whole time. I love driving. It was nice. But yes, I'm doing good.


I asked about Nanana and this is his response:
There's literally nothing in Nanana. There are two investigators down there who we went to teach because President was going to put it in our area (our area is about the size of the state of Maine) but he ended up giving that town to the 5th ward sisters. So we went down there to teach one lesson. Fairbanks third Ward is the biggest congregation in the world. It covers an area the size of the state of Utah. Our area is huge, but it has a bunch of different branches and stuff.

We met some Yaks

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 7 in Alaska, Fairbanks

                                                     Elder Jesperson fell asleep during study time.

                                                                         16 inches of snow

I like trains

Dear family,

You know what's awesome about Alaska? Everything. From getting shot at (the gunfire wasn't really aimed at us, but there was gunfire), to getting more up close and personal with moose than I'd ever care to, and meeting a man who killed a bear with a knife. There's a super old man in our Ward who's a gunsmith, but in his younger days he would go hunting bears a lot. He got bored shooting them with guns or bows, so he decided to go spear hunting, which then became knife hunting. He killed a grizzly bear with a knife because he could. Then he ate it. That's the most hardcore thing I've ever heard of in my life. That guy, his name is Ron Arter, also almost shot a missionary for accidentally walking into his place of business at night. He's crazy. This is the best place ever
Only two missionaries live in our apartment. There's only three places in the mission where there's more than one companionship in an apartment.

Tuesday and Wednesday we got 16 inches of snow. I've never seen so much in my life. It's since warmed up and most of its melted, but it's supposed to snow again later this week. We'll see though, long term forecasts aren't normally all that reliable. We also had transfers Tuesday. I stayed because I'm being trained. I probably won't leave Fairbanks until December 15th. So I'll get to see the dark. I'm excited. Basically everyone in our zone is training right now. It's crazy. But I'm not the new kid on the block anymore, so that's nice.

Thursday was great. We picked up two really good investigators. The first one is named Eric and he's interested. We asked him if he would get baptized and he was like "If God tells me to, yes" and we were like *unexpected answer silence*. We haven't had an investigator say that in forever. So that was nice. Then we were trying this other investigator who ended up not being home, but as we walked away her neighbor came out to smoke. So we talked to her. Then she told us her life story. Her name is Lorinda. She was adopted 6 times. She's twenty, has a one year old son, and her husband died last year. And she's the best investigator we have. She was going to come to conference, but she couldn't make it. 

Conference was awesome. It was probably the best conference I've ever seen, mainly cause I didn't fall asleep at all. My favorite talk was President Uchtdorf's from Priesthood session. We talk to a lot of atheists, so his talk is very useful in teaching. Plus President Uchtdorf is my favorite. All the talks were awesome though. I called Elder Rasband. I knew he was going. I got a member of the presiding bishopric so I was close. But I'm excited for Elder Renlund. His talk last conference was one of my favorites.

So that's my week. I have gloves and a hat, I looted gloves from a departed elder. Plus I have the hat from Grandma which is really nice. I just don't wear them that much cause it's not that cold. But I did break out the snow boots one day this week.

I got my drivers license. I can now legally not know how to drive in the snow. It'll be exciting. Thanks for helping with that. Josh was very nice. And my picture doesn't make me look really high like my Oregon license does. So that's a plus. 

It's really foggy here. It's nice, it reminds me of home. Pretty soon it'll be freezing fog. I miss the ocean a lot. Fairbanks is the heart of the interior so I'm 500 miles from any coast. Anywhere else in the mission I'll be on the coast, unless it's North Anchorage. Or Wasilla. I'll get to the ocean again soon enough. 

Are you still in California? I love you guys.


Elder Miller

Mom note: I sent back a quick email and asked for clarification on the gun shots and this is the response I got:  

We were in our apartment and we could hear automatic gunfire nearby. We were totally safe don't worry, I just wanted to scare you. I'm pretty sure it was cops. Or army maybe, were near the base. There was nothing wrong. Yes there was another moose incident. They just wander around. They're dangerous though so we avoid them.  (gotta love that kid!)