Elder John Miller

Elder John Miller

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 6 in Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear family,

We got five inches of snow in one day. It was crazy. They say winter is coming up here more than they do in Game of Thrones. Not that I've ever watched that terrible, heathen show. We got stuck in the snow three times and slid a lot. Elder Jesperson is from Vegas, so he's really not too used to driving in wet snow. But once it gets cold enough the snow is too cold to be wet. Then the freezing rain comes and messes everything up.

So nothing really happened Monday through Friday of this week. The most exciting thing was our meeting with a 7th day Adventist. He's on the prospective elders list, but his conversion story is so sketchy. He had just gotten dumped by his girlfriend, had no job, and then two sister missionaries knocked on his door so he took the lessons. That's not a recipe for lasting conversion. Needless to say, he immediately went less active and then eventually joined a different church. He was totally crazy though. So many people had told him so many lies and falsehoods about LDS doctrine that even when we showed him and told him things he didn't believe us. So there's really no prospect there. Plus he's moving to Tennessee soon to join one of those hardcore Southern churches. It's sad really.

Oh! We also met this guy named Clint Summers who's a member in our ward. He reminds me a lot of grandpa. He has a 9 year old son even though he's like 65, he's a veteran, he's had both knees replaced, and he swears a lot. He's really funny. we had dinner with him, which was good. He's technically less active, but he's not really, seeing as how he's about to go to the temple for his endowments. 

We had the best lesson we've taught so far on Saturday. A woman named Charity, who's been less active for 40 years, lives in our ward. So we went over to teach her. We taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was crying, we were getting close to crying, the fish in the fish bowl were probably crying, it was sweet.

Dinner with the Valentines was great. We had tacos. Best tacos I've had so far. I wanted like six more, but I restrained myself. They're awesome. Gordon never told me he had cool cousins.

Three new apostles in one general conference. I have money down that Bishop Gerald Causse is gonna be an apostle. I'm calling it.

Did you know they cut my favorite scripture mastery? The one in Daniel about the stone being cut from the mountain without hands. What the heck is this.

So our zone leaders are the coolest guys. Elder Wharten is 26 and he actually just got transferred to be an AP. Elder Pulou is literally a Samoan version of Brother Masse. IT's crazy how similar they are.

We met a guru. We got stuck in a whole near this guys house, and he kindly helped us get out. We were talking to him afterwards, and this guy had been in the air force for 4 years, he still has his pilots license, then he became a geo-physicist, worked for NASA, did studies at the North Pole, studied astrophysics in Hawaii, studied particle physics in Geneva, and met Peter HIggs. He's the coolest person I've ever met. His dad was actually a convert to the church as well, but sadly he wasn't really interested right now. He believes n God though, he talked about a creator. His dad passed away last week, so that could be an opening, but he doesn't live in our area.

Things are going good up here. The darkness is real. It's crazy. But it's also awesome. have fun in California. And at Sea World. Jerks.

Elder Miller

                                                 That's the first time we got stuck. We parked in a ditch.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 5 in Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear family,

The days are starting to blend together. This has been the fastest month of my life. It's crazy. I got your packages and I am currently typing this message from my new case, which is really nice because it goes much faster this way. I also got all the sweet tarts. I don't remember expressing a love of sweet tarts back home, but I'm okay with it. I don't eat junk food because I don't have the money for it, so candy is nice. Except it makes me sick everytime I eat it. Tastes good though. Not like sick sick, just feeling sick. Basically I have a bowl of cereal in the morning, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, a cliff bar at some point in the afternoon, and off brand granola bars [which are better than name brand surprisingly], and then whatever they feed us for dinner, which is usually good.

Monday was fun. We went golfing for P-day, but since it's been raining for the past two weeks we went to the driving range instead. Elder Jesperson broke a 9 iron that we were borrowing. It was pretty funny. Then we went to the Mannings for dinner and had ribs. Ribs are great.

Tuesday we got dropped by an investigator. We also helped these people move, and they didn't have a piano. That was a pleasant change of pace. For dinner we had fried lasagna. Woah.

Wednesday we got service trapped so hard. Remember that smokehouse? Yeah, we had to go back and work on it more. Everyone in the elders quorum was busy so we got stuck doing it by ourselves. We were there for 6 hours. It was nuts.

Thursday we got service trapped yet again. On the same project. Roofing is less fun than one might think, especially in the rain. We finished it though, which was good. So we don't ever have to go back there again. We were so tired and done with everything by the end. It wasn't conducive to having a spiritual environment. Then we were late to a YSA baptism. It wasn't our best day.

Friday we met a less active family and had a pretty good lesson. They were offended by the Bishop, so reactivating them may be challenging, but that was a nice lesson considering we got dropped like a sack of bricks by one of our investigators.

Saturday we talked to a lot of people, but ended up only teaching Bernie. He's so awesome. He's totally willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray, but he won't come to church with us. He's like 75 and his wife has Parkinson's, so it's understandable, but he's so primed and ready. We'll get him soon.

Sunday was good as usual. We had a great Elder's Quorum lesson, which was nice. Not much else happened that day. We gave out a family proclamation to some people who we're going to visit again soon. They seem quite prepared, so hopefully we can have a good lesson with them in a couple weeks. We're running out of investigators. But it's not for a lack of trying.

I got the boxes I think. Whichever box had the sweet tarts I got. Elder Jesperson and I roll in mail. It's great.

Half of our district is sick. Elder Jesperson and I aren't though, we're staying healthy. So are the zone leaders. But a lot of people in our zone are getting sick too. I'm not too worried though. No sick days for this guy.

It drops below freezing every night. We had the fan on and the window open last night in our apartment. It was frosty in the morning. We're not allowed to open our windows or sliding glass door one October hits. That's a rule for the building. It's supposed to snow on Friday. It's crazy up here.

Every area has bikes assigned just like cars so we don't have to pay for them. We don't use them much except in the summer, but I kind of missed that. So we probably won't use bikes again for the rest of my training. I probably won't bike again till May. 

Today is the equinox, so tomorrow light stops dropping off fast. It's about to get very dar and very cold. I hope it hits -40, but that doesn't normally happen till around January, and I shouldn't be in Fairbanks at that point, plus it probably won't get that cold this year. The last couple years have been pretty mild. (That's if you consider -20 mild).

I'm still doing good. I just keep going. There's always someone else to talk to. MY near death experience for the week was awesome! So we were trying to find this house on a road that doesn't exist and we accidentally went up this really log driveway. As we pulled up close to the house at the end a guy stood up on the porch, made eye contact with us, pointed to a sign that said "No trespassing" and on it there was spray painted a guy with a rifle shooting at trespassers, then he opened the door and went inside. We got out of there so fast. 

And that's the weekly update. Have fun in California. I'm glad home is going good.

Elder Miller


Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 4 in Alaska, Anchorage

Dear family

We're losing sunlight rapidly up here. Plus it's raining all the time. So it's pretty great. The trees are getting more and more bare everyday, and it drops below freezing almost every night. It's snowed and stuck this week, but it all melted throughout the day. It should start sticking permanently in a couple of weeks. I'm so excited. It was a pretty good week.

On Monday after I finished emailing our P-day activity was hiking. It was great. On that hike your supposed to bring a gun in case of bears. I had my knife. I was going to go Bear Grills on a bear if I had to. But there weren't any bears, sadly. The hike was beautiful and the view from angel rock was amazing. I did like a 10 foot trust fall onto a bunch of missionaries. There are pictures and stuff. My near death experience for the week happened on the way back to town. We were driving along when this huge bull moose sprints out into the road. This guy was like 2000 pounds of moose. It was massive. Anyway, it sprinted out, did a baseball slide, and sprinted back into the trees. Elder Jesperson swerved in time, but if we had hit the moose it would have crushed the car, right on the passenger side where I was sitting. I was laughing so hard, it was awesome. A literal ton of moose could have smashed me! What a way to go.

Tuesday was much less exciting. I taught my first district meeting training. It was kind of like my first talk in Sacrament meeting. Long winded and never really got to the point. Yeah, it was embarrassing. This is why I tell people to give me more than 2 hours to prepare. We had lessons and stuff, but it was just kind of a bland day.

Wednesday I did something truly Alaskan. I ate Muk Tuk (pretty sure that's how you spell it), or whale, for those that don't know. There's a video. It's probably the second worst flavor of all time (second only to broccoli). It tastes pretty much exactly how you would expect blubber to taste like. And it's chewy. And it squirts a lot of oil. Oh, and the skin layer feels like a scale. But I ate 3 pieces to prove I was tough as nails. Didn't even puke. Though the burps after that were the worst thing ever.

Thursday we went biking for the first time. In our mission we're told to street contact (talking to people on the street, tracting doesn't count. You have to talk about the church for it to count as well, you can't just say hi) 10 people a day. We talked to 30 people. We got 3 investigators out of it. In the words of Daggit "That was nuts!" Yes, I can make angry beavers references. I've worn beaver, it's okay. The best part was when we talked to this guy who said that the second coming would happen when Christ descended in a space ship to take all the good people to a new planet before destroying the Earth Independence Day style. He was one of the nicest people I've ever met too. Just goes to show that you can't judge.

Friday we met Benjamin. We talked to him at a bus stop. He was the nicest person I've talked to so far. He talked to us for a little bit about how the Catholic Church is evil and the signs of the end of times (we didn't agree with him don't worry), but he was super polite about it all. He said that he really appreciates our efforts to bring people closer to Christ and then he asked if we would say a prayer with him, so we did because that's not something we ever refuse to do. As he was walking away to get on his bus he turned to us and said "God loves you boys, more than you can imagine." I don't know what religious denomination he was (he wasn't LDS) or if he was all there in the head, but he was so genuinely kind to everyone (except the Pope. He was not nice about the Pope.) that it made me think. I think I needed that at that moment. It was great.

Saturday we taught like 7 lessons. It was a busy day. We have a pretty good pool of investigators. We're trying to keep it that way. My hands are starting to constantly smell like smoke. I kept trying to figure out why, and I realized it's because I shake the hands of so many smokers. Getting to know these people is powerful. People come to Alaska in many cases because they don't want people to bother them. But after hearing so many people's stories, it seems more like they come here because they're running from something. Everyone has a story (which is true of everyone in the world), but so many of them up here are so sad. It hurts my soul that people have to go through this. One of our investigators is half Eskimo and half Athabaskan, two tribes that don't like each other, so he was ostracized by both of them. Another just lost the father of her children because he drowned in the river. I'm trying the best I can to help everyone, but sometimes it's hard. 

Sunday's are the best days. Church is refreshing and recharging. And we had dinner with two of my favorite members. Sister Bohannan (a single mother of two), her two crazy kids, and Brother Syrap (the guy we had to bring so we could actually go inside, he's awesome). I've learned that I'm good at teaching kids. I can do it so easily. I'm trying to transfer that over into teaching adults, which is significantly more intimidating. But it's coming along. We had these two investigators who were going to drop us, but then we taught them a lesson on the Plan of Salvation and now they aren't dropping us anymore. That was a blessing.

As far as other stuff goes, all is well. I started reading the Old Testament because I knew that's what this seminary year was. I started a couple weeks ago. I'm in Deuteronomy, maybe a bit ahead of you. Old Testament was my favorite year of seminary. I'm going over it again to get better knowledge of the scriptures. I'm studying the Book of Mormon too. Plus the lessons. Lot of studying.

Everything's good in the neighborhood. We just keep chugging along. There's always more to do and more people to help, so we keep going. 

I can write letters whenever so if you write me (this goes for all the other plebeians who read these updates) I'll write you back. I only have like two peoples addresses so that makes it hard. Same with emails. 

Tell Dad I finally figured out the Killer's song "Sam's Town." It's a casino/resort in Las Vegas. I finally get it. So is the London. I just needed a companion from Las Vegas to figure it all out.

As for things I need, I'm pretty much set. I can get hats and gloves, the only thing that would be hard for me to get is a formal pea coat. 

I hope everything is still good back home, keep me posted. I love you all!

Elder Miller

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 3 in Alaska, Fairbanks

Dear family,

This week was kind of crazy. We did so much service. We're building a smokehouse. Like straight up. 

Tuesday we did a lot of service. We moved a lot of tires. We also helped this woman move her storage and we almost exploded. There was a gas leak in the storage shed, so if anyone had lit a flame we would have blown up. We stopped that project once we found a gas leak though.

Wednesday we went on exchanges. This was my second exchange. I was with Elder Loften and it was pretty fun. We taught this man who had seriously damaged his brain using meth. He really couldn't understand very much, and he had a lot of motor skill issues, but he goes to church every Sunday and loves it. It made me realize that no one is ever to far gone to feel the Spirit. 

Thursday I dug a trench. In the winter the ground freezes to 34 inches so we had to dig a 4 foot deep trench to help this family bury some water pipes. My soft baby hands are starting to callus. 

Friday we built the smokehouse. When I get home I'm never letting the missionaries build stuff for me. We honestly tried to make it good. But we're so inept. It's such a shoddy building. OSHA is going to have a cow with us. 

I'm learning that weekends are the best times to get things done. Saturday we taught a bunch of lessons. We have this old man we reached named Bernie. He's awesome. Saturday's are good days.

Sunday's are the best days. In Testimony meeting this sister got up and bore a 25 minute testimony. It was awesome. Then the next sister mentioned Area 51 in hers. The bishop almost face palmed. Then we taught relief society. Then after church we taught a Russian woman named Svetlana and her inactive husband Larry. They're golden. We got him to bear this awesome testimony on prayer and she was crying and we were like "Yeah, she's totally gonna get baptized and he's going to reactivate so he can baptize her." Then I had the best enchiladas of my life for dinner. We have dinner appointments like every night. It's great. I was worried I was never going to eat Mexican food, but Elder Jesperson requests it from everyone so we eat it all the time. The only Alaskan food I've had so far is a moose cheeseburger, which was only half moose.

Tell Sister Cluff that I'm in the process of teaching 4 Bulgarian people. They live in the same apartment as us. They're all here for summer work on work visas, so we're going to refer them to the Bulgarian missionaries when they go home. But Sister Cluff was right, I'm teaching Bulgarians.

I have sheets now. I'll buy a carry on sometime soon. I'll be in Fairbanks till December so I'm not too rushed on it.

I got the package with the goldfish and Oreos. They didn't last long. 

I hope everything is going good back home.

Elder Miller

Sometimes I can respond to Elder Miller while he is still online.  Following is my reply to the above email and his response.

It sounds like you are doing great.  I love to hear from you.  Heavenly father must be looking out for you because you have something that could kill you every week.  (Mom)

I know, it's awesome! Did you know that if I get mangled or my companion dies I get an honorable release? I didn't know that. Not that that's what I'm going for, it's just a fun fact. (John)

Pictures of my Playground