That's right folks. I have been bitten by fire ants! Or, as they call them here, hormigas de FUEGO! Haha. I like that name. And I'm allergic! It is making things very interesting. My left foot is swelling and red, but I am elevating it as often as I can and icing it and trying to be kind to it. I don't know if I'm allergic to it, or if it's just the fact that it was fire ants, but I remember when I got bit by them. We were outside this guy's house yelling in at him about our message (this is often the case; people don't always come out of the house or through the gate; they just yell out the window at you. Haha. It is really weird actually), but his yard had a lot of trees and wasn't really well taken care of, so it was kind of a wilderness-type setting. I felt ants on my foot and I looked down and there were some crawling into my shoes and I felt them there too, but it was a different feeling; it was more like a sharp fire that just kind of shot up half my foot. So, we're talking to this guy and I'm jumping around trying to get the ants out of my shoe, but trying to be discreet about it at the same time. It was probably really funny for him, come to think of it, but for me, I was just like "Why me? Why now?" Haha. The next day or so my companion saw them and she said I had been bitten by the ants, and my foot started to swell in church yesterday. It looks a lot like Dad's feet looked in 2001 around Christmas-time when every thing was...swollen? I didn't realize that he was probably in pain until now, because it really hurts a lot. Especially when I'm wearing shoes and toc-ing doors. Uncomfortable. But, Sister M., the President's wife says that it'll last probably a week and then be gone. We'll see.

Other then fire ants, the only exciting thing that happened this week was that I talked to you! It was so cool! Thanks for all being there and being willing to talk so long. I didn't realize how much time it was until I hung up (it went so fast!), but thanks for your time. It was good to hear what is going on with you, and also to talk about the mission and what is going on with me down here. I appreciate your advice and votes of confidence. I look forward to May 9 when I can talk to (almost) all of you again!

On Christmas, we toc-ed doors and ran into an older man and his daughter and they actually let us in and we taught a first lesson. It is always exciting when people let you into your house while you're toc-ing doors because you get so much rejection it is good to get a not just a reception once in a while, but an invitation to enter their home is even more exciting. Louisa and Adrian ( the people we taught) were really quite receptive and I'm excited to return this week with a member to see how their reading went and to teach them some more. They had a lot to say about the lesson and seemed interested in our message.

Also on Christmas, we had two other experiences that I thought were really interesting. Okay, actually two funny experiences while knocking. Like I've said before, every house has a dog (practically) and some go crazy when we come by and some just lay there and don't don anything when we come. So, we were in front of a house when the dog looked lazy and bored and like he wasn't going to do anything. He was laying really close to the gate, and looked at us and looked uninterested. So, I yelled just like normal; "¡Buenas Tardes!" All of the sudden he jumps to his feet and barks, and it scared me so bad I actually screamed out loud. Haha. It was really funny. The owner was probably laughing inside his house, but he wouldn't come to the door. It was really quite terrifying.

Two houses down, we met a man who was Chinese and who had lived in Puerto Rico for 15 years or something, but still could not speak Spanish. He couldn't speak English either. So, we spoke in very slow Spanish for him to understand. It was also an interesting experience, having a conversation in one language where only one participant is a native speaker.

I attended my first baptism on Saturday! It wasn't a baptism of someone we taught, but it was a baptism of the grandchildren of the Bishop of our ward. The Bishop's daughter is inactive, and her kids were taught by the Elders in our ward, and they were baptized on Saturday. It was really nice. Remember the girl who looks like Gabriella Montez in my ward? She sang with her family, and their entire family can sing really well. It was a beautiful song, and the service was really nice.

Lastly, (because I'm running out of time) we had a Mission Christmas Conference on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and we went to the Mission Office and every missionary on the Island came and we watched a Bell choir play Christmas carols. They were actually really good. The Bell Choir is sponsored by the stake I am in, and was made up of 9 - 17 year olds in the stake. It was cool. then we went to the President's house and ate ham and potatoes and vegetables. Really delicious lunch. And then we had a talent show, which was hilarious because most of the "talents" were by 19-21 year old boys. A great time was had by all and we laughed and enjoyed it. It was a really great way to spend Christmas.

Well, that is all I have to say because this computer is extremely slow. I had really great pictures to send, but seeing as this computer can't even handle the speed at which I type, I'm not even going to try the pictures on it.

I love you all. Thanks for the stories you send me about your member-missionary efforts; members are the best missionaries we have, so keep up the good work!

Hermana Miller

And it was massive! Seriously. We were walking around doing some contacting before a lunch appointment in our urbanization and all of a sudden we hear this metallic scrapping, and it is the iguana trying to jump a gate into someone's back yard. Eventually it gave up though and started running away. I couldn't get my camera out before it started running away, so I have a sweet picture of this iguana (1.5 feet) running off. It is pretty sweet. Hna. Lopez says that you see them all the time, especially in the campo, so I maybe I can get a better photo next week.

In other news, last week I finally succeeded in acquiring my Puerto Rico Driver's License! I guess this is quite an accomplishment, considering I only had to go to CESCO (PR version of the DMV) three times. *Sigh* I learned how to say nightmare in Spanish by working with CESCO (it is pesadilla, by-the-way). Anyway, after 3 visits and plenty of paperwork etc., I have my license! Woohoo! I will attach a picture to show my felicity and excitement.

As far as interesting/quick observations of mission life are concerned: Every morning a car alarm in our neighborhood goes off at 6am. I think one of our neighbors somehow uses it for his alarm clock. Call me crazy, but I'm just observing. Also, I feel like I'm preparing to go to the beach everyday because I wear sunscreen everyday. It is kind of fun, but also a little disappointing when I remember I don't get to go to the beach. haha. Toc-ing doors is better than the beach anyway! Seriously. I have some great stories this week (we always get great stories from toc-ing. Maybe that is why I love it so much).

We found this really cool neighborhood that is quite mysterious because it is not on the map and you have to go up this secret hill to get there and travel through woods to get there (really, it was very adventurous of us to even check out this mysterious street). Anyway, after the woods cleared, we found ourself in this quaint neighborhood with tons of colorful houses really close together. It is called a barrio, and basically, there is a main road (the road we were exploring), and then there are tons of little path-type things that lead off the main road to houses, like alley-ways. It is really cool because it is exotic and quaint and exciting. Something you wouldn't find in the US. I would love to take some pictures, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to. We'll see. Anyway, as we were getting out of the car and debating whether this was part of our area or not, a guy comes up to us and is all "Hello, hermanitas!" (if you add -ita to any word here it changes from a normal word to a word of endearment). I vaguely recognized the man who addressed us, but didn't know if I actually knew him or not. We chatted and he told us about where we were (what it was called...Juan Domingo) and showed us how we could exit. Come to find out, this is a man that we had contacted in Grande (a grocery store) with his friend on the day of 51 contacts, back a couple weeks. His friend lives just around the corner. They told us they lived in Guaynabo, which is the next town over, so we turned their names into the office because they weren't in our area. "Luckily" we "ran into" him and we now know that he is in our area, and also where he lives (because if we just had the address to go off of, we would never be able to find his house). We ahave a lot of interest in our message, both still have a lot of interest in our message, which is way exciting. And so, the spirit guides us again to find those people who are ready to learn about the gospel and change their lives.

Another story about Juan Domingo: We met an inactive in Juan Domingo. Her name is Grecia and she was baptized 14 years ago in the DR and she moved to PR 6 years ago and has been inactive ever since because church is too far away to get to. She was so excited when we gave her a Book of Mormon because she had to leave hers in the DR because she didn't have room to bring everything on her trip. She really seems sincerely interested in the gospel still, so we are working on getting her pong (this is the PR word for "lift," as far as I can tell, or a "ride") so she can come to church. She was so sweet and excited when she saw us. It is cool to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.

!! I can't believe I forgot to say this already, but I received some wonderful things in the mail this week! I received packages from the Miller family, a package from the Ballards of Florida, a package from Grandma of AZ, and this huge poster from the Glenmoor 8th ward! Woohoo! It was kind of like, the best day ever to get all of that. We opened up the packages and found the most beautiful tree inside and lots and lots of gifts. I am really touched that you would all think of me and actually send me something for Christmas. I like the 12 days of Christmas thing, and I'm excited to see what is in store for us tomorrow. (PS. I love the fudge!)

Although we have really great stories like the ones above in Juan Domingo (and others...we met 2 inactives the other day on the same street and in between their two house was a man who wanted us to return and share our message. That was pretty cool...kind of like the jack-pot), overall there are not a lot of people that want to hear our message. Every one is really, really, nice, but not really interested in changes beliefs or changing their lives. We do have a lot of respect here, but we also have a lot of rejection. One family let us in to sing a song a say a prayer for their sick father. I guess they have been in contact with missionaries for years and actually used to be active members of the church (without actually being was interesting), but didn't feel like changes from be officially Catholics. How sad! They were a very sweet family though, and we're going to stop by again to say hello. This other lady was really excited to see us and went and got us juice boxes and apples before we left, but didn't want to hear our message; she is another lady who just has a lot of respect for us and loves the missionaries. I want to help people! But they just don't let us. It is nice to know there are good people in the world though; they are all over Puerto Rico!

One last story. Right after we sang and prayed with the family that used to be active non-members, we went to teach a lesson to one of their neighbors. We met this woman when we went to a teaching appointment that we were really excited about and the lady wasn't there. The neighbor was outside working with Christmas lights and we offered help and contacted her. She said that she was interested in hearing our message, so we came back a week later (this week) and shared it with her. It was a really great lesson and she was interested, and we could tell that she was sincerely interested because she was asking good questions and actually thought about our invitation before committing to anything. I am very excited about her, and it is just another way that we see the Lord works in mysterious ways. We thought we were going to this street to help one woman, and we end up being led to help another. Very cool. I love being a missionary!

Thanks so much for all your love and support! It is good to know there are people rootin' for me and the work in far away places!

Hermana Miller

Dear Family,

First of all, congratulations to Tyler on his Board of Review! That is really great news. I didn't realize it was such a pain; I helped you on your project and you are just now getting all the paperwork through? What a pain! But, congratulations! A lot of work, but definitely worth it, right?

So, thank you for making me learn piano, because I get to play in church here! There is a young woman that can play some songs, but others she doesn't know how to, and so when she doesn't know how to play a song, I get to play it. It is nice, because I really love playing, but never get a chance to here. The really awesome thing about the girl who can play piano is that she looks exactly like Gabriella Montez from HSM. I mean seriously. How cool is that? I wonder if she sings like her too. Haha.

I feel like I have a lot of things to tell this week, but as always, only a limited amount of time, so here I go:

This week we saw some really interesting things. Cultural things, I suppose. Things that most Puertoriqueños wouldn't think were that crazy, but were really amazing for me. First of these is called a caravan. The caravans are these mini parade things (like two "floats") that go around the neighborhoods at night. There are decorated a lot with lights and they play loud music and they throw candy at people walking by. The music is loud and so it attracts all the neighborhood kids to them (kind of like the pied piper...haha), but really. This is legit, because they have the police escorting them and blocking the roads and such. My compañera says that this happens all the time in the Christmas season. It is pretty cool. I'm not sure who funds them, but I guess they're pretty common.

In other cultural news: we were driving away from a recent converts house recently and on the corner is a bar thing. At the bar, there was a party, and what was at the party that made it so interesting? A pig on a spit! Seriously! An entire pig, roasted, on a spit. It was crazy! I wanted a photo, but shucks. I didn't have my camera. It was pretty crazy.

You asked if people speak Spanish or Spanglish, and I've been meaning to tell you about this, because it is really cool actually. Everyone speaks Spanish here, but the really crazy thing is that practically everyone (not everyone, but nearly everyone) can switch to English at the drop of a hat and with practically no accent. It is really pretty cool. We know this one family where the 15 year old boy can speak English just by watching movies and talking with American Missionaries. He says that he actually knows and English word sometimes without knowing it's Spanish equivalent, which is pretty cool. Also, sometimes in conversations there is a little bit of Spanglish going on, where they use one or two words in the midst of Spanish, but this doesn't happen very often. It is really useful, because if someone says a word I don't know, I can sometimes ask them right then, and they'll translate it for me. Sometimes when people see I'm American (I don't hide it very well...and I sound like an American too) they'll just start speaking English to me. My companion, however cannot understand or speak English, so I try to speak in Spanish and translate by including the question in my answer, so she can follow the conversation too. It's so hard though! That is, to hear and think in English, but then to be asked to speak in Spanish. Ah! It is crazy, but I'm getting better at it.

So, there are always good door-knocking stories, right? And this week we had some awesome ones. We knocked a lot of doors this week, because we're opening in the area, and my companion assured me it is often like this when you're opening an area; a lot of knocking. So, first the funny ones. We meet a lot of people who say they're really busy right now, and some of them truly are, but some of them it's just like "Tell us you're not interested. It's okay. We get rejected all the time." This one guy this week was sitting on the curb watching his kids play and drinking some sort of beverage..."Oh, I'm reeeally busy right now," he told us. Haha. It was funny. Another lady we knocked and she appeared at the window (this happens all the time; people talk at us through the window. Sometimes we can't even see them, which is a little weird) and she said she was busy. But we could see in her other hand that she had 7 or 8 cards, like she was playing a card game. haha.

We also met a lady this week who said, "Oh- I've read that book, that book, that book..." "Oh, The Book of Mormon?" I provided. "Yeah. That Book of Mormon. I know your story, and I know all about John Smith." Hmm. I thought. I don't know if she knows all about it, but okay. It was pretty funny. We actually met two people this week who knew all about John Smith. Nobody that knew about Joseph Smith though. Haha. People can be funny sometimes. We just have to stay happy and remember not to take it personally (even though their rejections are meant that way at times).

We were knocking on Saturday and hadn't had a lot of success, but we had 10 minutes left after we finished the street we had chosen, and only 5 houses or so between us and the car. I had a good feeling about a house a little bit down the hill, so I said "Let's just do these three houses here (the house I wanted to knock was the second) and then we can go back up the hill." Well, we got the the second house and they weren't interested. We got to the third house however, and met Emilia. Emilia is 37 weeks pregnant with her second daughter. Her first daughter is 14 months. She is a nurse. She was really interested in our message, and is really excited for us to come over and teach her this week because she wants something more for her family. We started teaching her a little bit about the plan of salvation, and she got excited and let us come in to meet her daughter and her mother. (Her husband lives somewhere else that is closer to where he works.) So, we met the family and shared a little something and had a prayer. We're going to return this week and teach the first lesson, and I'm really excited! She seemed really interested and she is at an important time in her life right now, with two young children. It is exciting to meet someone who is interested after being rejected all day, but it always seems to be the last house. It just shows us that we need to endure to the end and stay faithful even through hard times; that applies to life as well as missionary work.

I experienced my first Puerto Rican rainfall recently. It is crazy because you can see rain clouds, but it doesn't rain, it doesn't rain, it doesn't rain, and then suddenly out of nowhere it is like buckets are just being thrown down on you. It was actually pretty intense. My shoes got soaked, and my skirt too. But the nice thing about Puerto Rico is that the sun is so powerful here that my skirt was dry within minutes. Sometimes while it rains the sun is shining too; there is a lot of sun-showers, which is also pretty cool.

This is exciting: I discovered this week where I can buy skim milk! Yeah! I bought some today and the guy was like "oh, here is some regular milk." He was stocking whole milk and tried to give me some, and I said "No. I want this one." "This one is without fat. You want milk that is completely without fat?" "Yes. With 0% fat." He gave me a weird look and surrendered the carton. People here really like fat, which is hard for me, because I really don't. But, they like the flavor. I don't know why. But thus it is. I realized this week I am going to gain weight here, because we started eating at member homes. The food was good, but definitely not healthy. With the exception of the vegetarian sister's home. Her food was good and healthy.

One last story: We had an appointment with a young girl who we met in the street the other day, and we went to meet her at her home. She wasn't there and was not answering her phone. As we were leaving, we met one of her nighbors who was eating lunch. We asked him if he knew anything about her and started chatting. Apparently he is a member of the church, but inactive. We did not have his address because he moved after he left the church. We stopped and shared a song and a thought with him and talked for a while. We are coming back later to watch a video with him. It sounds like he was a really stong member, because he has a lot of books from the church and reports that he used to go out with the missionaries all the time, so we don't know what happened to make him inactive now. I just love these stories where we randomly run into people who are inactives; it turned out that Kayla wasn't interested (we went back to her house after talking to her neighbor; we knew she was there because she had just walked past; but she wouldn't let us in), but we were led to Carlos (the neighbor) through Kayla. The Lord works in really amazing ways and it is cool to see the results of seeking out and following the spirit.

Well, I'm all out of time, but I hope everything at home is going great and you stop feeling sick all the time! I don't feel like my letter this week was that spiritual, but I know the church is true! The Book of Mormon is the word of God and was translated by a prophet of the Lord, Joseph Smith. Jesus Christ lives and loves us and through Him we can be clean and return to live with God and with our families after this life. I'm happy to hear it snowed (from more than one person...haha) and that you are all getting ready for Christmas.


Hermana Miller

Dear Family,

So, I am in the library right now and there are signs everywhere that say "¡Silencio!" Haha. I don't know why that really makes me laugh, but I kind of think it is hilarious. I guess because it is just so stereotypical library and I've never really experienced that before. When we were talking to the lady at the desk for permission to use the computers there were some people talking behind us and she does this huge "SHHHHH!" Haha. I could hardly contain myself. In Spanish, the "shh" people differently. It is actually just an "Ssss" sound, which is interesting.

This week was a good week. We are doing a lot of work and still trying to figure out who the members are and all that good stuff. Basically all the baptisimal dates we had from the Elders we were replacing (3 dates) fell through, because we can't get ahold of anyone and when we go over to their house they aren't there, so they aren't progressing anymore. That is kind of a bummer, but we are meeting new people to teach everyday.

Yesterday was an especially exciting story. We had an investigator this week that we met at "Amigo," a grocery store (we go to Amigo to make amigoes. That is, we go to the store and make contacts in the parking lot. Haha. We just think that is so funny). Anyway, we met Charity selling Lotto outside the door of Amigo last Sunday and she was really excited to learn more about the gospel, so we went to her house on Tuesday and taught her the first lesson, and she was really excited and wanted to come to church and wanted to read the Book of Mormon and pray and be baptized, and we were just like "Wow! What is this?" We were pretty excited, but a little hesitant at the same time. We had a return apppointment and brought a member with us, and she was there but was busy and couldn't have the lesson. We made another return appointment, but when we arrived, she "wasn't there." (The adult daughter told us she was gone, but my companion says she heard her voice before we knocked.) It is frustrating becuase we call her to confirm appointments, but she is never there. So, yesterday we decided to knock doors on her street to stop by unexpectedly to see if we could catch her off guard. Haha. Anyway, she wasn't there for reals, but be continued knocking and found a girl a couple houses down who was really interested in the gospel and we taught her the first lesson right on her doorstep. Her name is Patricia. I am really excited because she seemed really genuinely interested. Unfortunately, she is in High School and having finals right now, so doesn't want us to return until December 20, but I really think that she wants the gospel and wants to learn more. Awesome! It is good to see that even though it feels like we got turned down (by Charity) the Lord was really just leading us the Patricia.

We have lots of interesting stories about knocking doors this week. Since it is pretty hot here, people answer the door in all states of undress. Men have their shirts on probably less than 40% of the time, and women are often wearing as little as possible. We met a topless woman this week ("Oh, just let me go and get my blouse") (!), and a woman without pants (she was kind of hiding behind the wall. haha). So, that is always interesting. Oh, and the best one is that we called at this one house and we could hear the shower, and when we called "Buenas Tardes!" she yells back at us "No puedo pagar! Estoy bañandome!" Haha! We just died.
So, we are on Atlantic time, which means we are 3 hours East of Utah. So, last night was the Christmas devotional, and I thought we wouldn't be able to go, because it was at 9pm, and I was really sad! But, then we found out we could go, and I'm so happy I could, because the music was awesome. I didn't really understand the talks because they were in Spanish (could you maybe send me a copy, if they're available?), but I just loved the music. Wow. Handel was an inspired musician (he did write a Largo that they used in Pride and Prejudice, so what more can I say about his talents? haha). Seriously though, Handel was an inspired musician and Isaiah was an inspired prophet, so when you mix these two together you get an absolutley beautiful work of art. I LOVE the Messiah. My companion thought it was funny that they went up and down so much (singing), but I loved it. Also, seeing as my favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night," I was overjoyed that they sang that one too. I really liked it. And Silent Night was so calm and peaceful; it was a great song to end the night. I also like the other one, "How far is it to Bethlehem," I think, but it wasn't as amazing as the ones before. I never thought I would say this, but I think I miss Utah. I would have loved to have gone to the Devotional last night in the Conference Center, but it was great here too (maybe better if I could have understood it...:)).

The president has certain goals for us as far as finding people every day. We are asked to knock doors for 2 hours everyday, and make 20 "unplanned" contacts, which means, any invitation we make when we're not knocking doors. This is what we're doing when we ask people for directions, or when we go to Amigo to make amigoes. The other day we were behind on our contacts for one reason or another, and so our goal had changed from 20 to 51, which is a lot of unplanned contacts. But, we worked hard, and Lord blessed us! We met a lot of people that day and actually got a lot of contact information, which is awesome. We got 51 contacts, and my companion says that is the most she has gotten her entire mission in one day.

One story from the day of 51 contacts: We decided to walk into this corner store to "ask directions," right? and we contacted some people who were shopping and we met this one man who had a little daughter with him (adorable little girl), and he was very interested in our message. Unfortunately, he was in another area, so we have to pass his info. on to other missionaries, but it just shows me that when we have worthy goals and when we work hard, the Lord will bless us to find the people who are ready to hear our message.

Also on the day of 51 contacts, was my companion's 1 year birthday; she entered the MTC a year ago, so we decided we were going to buy biscocho (cakes) and celebrate. So, we went to this pandaneria to buy them and we met a man we had contacted one of my first days here, and he was really nice and gave us a discount on the pastries. He had a son that I remember meeting whose name is Saul, and I'm really excited that we "ran into" him again because I know that they are ready for the gospel, he just doesn't know it yet. Haha. So, we are going to keep going to the Pananeria and become friends with him and try to get an appointment to talk to his family more about the gospel. It is awesome to see the little ways the Lord blesses you to "run into" the people who are ready for your message.

One last story about "running into" people. We were calling at a member's house the other day (last Tuesday, I think) and they weren't home, but a lady walks by with 4 dogs, walking them. We ask her if she knows the people living there, and she says to us (in English with a German accent) "Yeah; they're members. I'm a member too." Hmm. But we hadn't met her at church that day. I was so flabergasted to be speaking in English that I forgot to ask her where she lives, so we chatted and then her dogs pulled her away. I was talking to my companion after wards, and she's like "Ahh! You should have asked her address!" I was sad. Anyway, this was the night of our first appointment with Charity, who lives close-ish to the member's house. We went over the Charity's house after our meeting with Ilsa (the English-speaking dog walker) and what do you know? We ran into Ilsa again! I asked her address this time, and she went on walking the dogs and we went to teach the lesson. A couple days ago we went to meet Ilsa at her home, and we were knocking on the wrong door and she came walking by again, and she only cam back to her house so soon because one of the dogs was ready to come home early. Ilsa has an interesting story, but I don't have time right now. I just know that we were meant to meet Ilsa, (we "ran into" her 3 times) and that we will help her somehow. It is cool to see the spirit leading us to where we need to be. We don't really feel any real strong impressions, but we always seem to be where we need to be. The spirit really does guide us, and I love it!

Thanks for all the support, I can really feel everyone's love.

Hermana Miller

Dear family and friends,

Here I am finally, in Puerto Rico. I got my call in July, and now, finally, I have set foot on the island itself. It is really different here! First of all, they are not afraid of color! There are crazy colors everywhere; pink, violet, orange, yellow, lime green (these are colors of houses I'm listing off here...). I am happy to report that my house is a light pink. How lovely. On the expressway the barriers were painted purple and teal. Seriously. It has a distinct island feel in that way, in that there is color exploding everywhere.

My companion in from El Salvador and doesn't know how to drive, so I have to do all the driving and seriously - you thought Utah drivers were bad? Puertoricanos have no idea; no clue how to drive. It is a nightmare. Mom, when you come to pick me up, you will put my name on the car and I will drive us everywhere, because I will not allow you to drive here; ah! It's crazy. People just stop in the middle of the road, people cross the street right in front of cars, people park in the middle of road, lanes are more of just a guideline than an actual rule, etc etc. You can tell that the government knows no one knows how to drive, because there are speed bumps EVERYWHERE. Instead to speed bumps, they're called "muertos" though; deaths, or something. They can be pretty bad sometimes, but, it keeps you on your toes, which is important in the kind of traffic here. So, it is an adventure everyday, to say the least!

My companion and I are "white-washing" the area, meaning we are both brand new to the area. This is kind of hard becuase neither of us knows where anything is, nor do we know anyone, and it is really hard to go and visit peopl because addresses here are really wierd; an address consists of the "Urbanization" which is kind of like a neighborhood, only much bigger, and then you address it to the street number, block number, and house number. It is really difficult to find where anybody lives because the addresses don't work the same here. Oh yeah, and there are no street signs. ANYWHERE! You just have to know where everything is and ask people who are walking around. Everyone is very kind, they're always ready to help (even though half the time they don't really know, and they're just making stuff up), but this is a good way we get in our 20 "unplanned" contacts a day; asking directions.

On Thanksgiving, the Elders in our ward planned dinner appointments, meaning we had two and ate a ton. Whew. It was a lot of food! The funny thing is that at both appointments we had turkey...with rice and beans. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Haha. We ate at the bishop's house and also at a recent convert's house; Luz is her name. She is nice, and now we (the sisters) are teaching her, because the Elder's are working in the other area.

My companion (like I said) is from El Salvador. She is pretty cool. She arrived to Puerto Rico last year on Christmas Eve, so she has been here almost a year. She speaks no English, which is very frustrating at times, because I have to think before talkng (which maybe is a blessing for me...). But, it also means that while I'm driving with the crazy Puertoricanos I can say whatever I please in English and she has no idea. Haha. She says all her American companions have done that. She taught me how to make tortillas yesterday, and it was pretty fun. You only need corn flour, water, and heat. It was kind of impressive. She is going to teach me how to make rice and beans and all that good stuff. I'm excited. She is a good missionary, and I can learn a lot from her. So, she is really short, and I am kind of tall and we look pretty funny together; she comes up to my shoulder. But, even though I'm tall, people still think I'm like, 17. Luz asked me the other day why Hna. L. is a 20 something and I'm just a "joven"; teenager. Sigh. I guess I'm doomed to look like a child forever.

My mission president and his wife are really cool. We (the new missionaries) stayed at their house on Tuesday night and until noon on Wednesday, and it was fun. Sister M., the president's wife is really nice, and knows almost no Spanish, but tries really hard. President M. served a mission in Guatelmala and knows how to speak really well. They are going to be done with their mission in July of next year, so I'll be able to work with two mission president's while I'm here.

So, something we do everyday is "tocar puertas," or knock doors. The funny thing is though, that we don't knock at all! We just stand at the end of the driveway (houses are pretty close to the sidewalk) and yell "Buenas Tardes!" or, if it is after 6 "Buenas Noches!" and wait for someone to pop their head out. It is really pretty strange, but I guess I'm used to it now. It is kind of ineffective, because it is a lot easier for people to glance out the window and see who it is before answering, so if they see it's the "mormones" they don't answer always. Also, the entire neighborhood can hear us coming down the street because we're yelling, and every house, I mean EVERY house on the street has a dog, so we kind of set off a chain reaction so that every dog on the street is barking as we walk down. It is a pleasent experience. Haha.

We have had some cool experiences tocando puertas though, we met a man yesterday, Manuel, who is pretty cool. He is from New York (ps. I tell everyone here I'm from New York because, EVERYONE is from New York or knows someone there. It is a good way to relate to the people), and he has a strong testimony of the bible. He listened to our message, because he knows that us running into him was not coincidence; he got out of the car just as we were walking past, and at first he didn't want anything to do with the Book of Mormon, but after we testified and shared a little bit about the Book of Mormon, he was willing to read it and find out more about the church. Unfortunately, he was visiting his mother and lives in another area, but we are giving his information to the sisters in that area so they can follow up. It is fun to find someone who is actually interested, because you get rejected so many times. Sometimes people even yell at you (!), but not a lot. Most people here are actually very nice and kindly say they aren't interested or something. It is sad that I can't save the world as I wanted to, but I can help a soul here or there. :)

Thank you so much for everything; I've been getting letters, and I really appreciate it. Keep sending them to the mission office, because I don't even know if we have a mailbox.

I love you all and hope everything at home is going well.

With love,
Hermana Miller

Dear Family,

I finally arrived in Puerto Rico, after 4 months of waiting! Wow! It was a great flight, and everything went well. The flight was fun because...we flew over water! Woohoo! It was really pretty cool because I saw 3 or 4 small islands out the window before we arrived in Puerto Rico and they were beautiful!

I had a cool experience at the airport, too. about 2 or 3 weeks ago there was a French copy of "The Restauracion" pamphlet on this table in the CCM and I just picked it up casually. I don't know why...and I've been carrying it around in my bag since then. Last night I cleaned out my purse and started using a new one, and thought I would throw it away, because Hello...I'm going to Puerto Rico. People speak Spanish there; not French! But, I decided to keep it, because I thought it might come in handy. In Santo Domingo Airport, we ran into a guy from Boston named Jacques who actually grew up in Haiti, and he spoke English, but when he told us he was from Haiti originally, I was like, "Oh, you speak French then?" And he's all like "Yeah; parlez-vous le francais?" And, I used the one phrase I remember from my High School French class, which is "Je ne parle-pas le francais, but I have something in French that I would love for you to have!" And I hop over to my carry-on and extract my special French folleto and we talk about it and he gave us his phone number and he said he would call the mission office and all was awesome. It was a great first mission experience.

It amazes me how the spirit guides us to do things, and I know the spirit is what prompted me to not throw away that completely "useless" French pamphlet.

I don't know a lot about what is going on, but I am working in Caparra, which is near the Mission home in Bayamon and I have a native-speaking companion, but I haven't met her yet.

Everything is fine, but I have to go! Thanks so much for your love and support! I love you all!

Hermana Miller

ps. Preparation days are on Monday. :)

Dear Wonderful Family,

I am so jealous you have snow in Utah! Oh, how I wish I had it here. It is weird to think that somewhere in the world there is snow. I am kind of just in this eternal summer down here. I realized yesterday that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but I feel like I am still in the middle of July here.

Although we are still experiencing summer, we have been celebrating Christmas here since just before Halloween, but it became official yesterday, as Christmas Trees and "Nacimientos" (nativity sets) were put up on display, right here in the CCM. Haha. If you think it is bad in the US (celebrating Christmas too early, that is), you should try it in a country that doesn't have either Thanksgiving OR Halloween as a buffer. It is...strange. I love Christmas, but I really prefer to celebrate it in it's season...after Mom's birthday. :)

So...thank you for ALL the letters I got this week! I got lots of letters; I was the envy of all the district. Haha. Not really. But, I did get a ton of mail, and thank you so much for that! I am not going to mail any letters until I get to Puerto Rico, but you can expect to see some letters in the mail soon! I was rather surprised to see that a lot of my friends read my blog, which is cool. I should be more careful about what I write. :)

Perhaps the most noteable letter I received this week was from Dad's Birthday Party. Haha. I love the photo you took and also, thank you for the poster was exciting. Here is my response:

Max: Hello! I am in the DR. I am learning Spanish here. I'm kind of surprised by your question, but that is the answer. Thanks for writing!

Josh: I am so sorry you are lonely without my company. I hope you'll find solace in the love of Adrienne, who is acting as my proxy in my absence.

Adrienne: The CC letter hasn't arrived yet, and I fear it may not. You will need to send it again when I get to PR, if it doesn't arrive before my departure. I'm on pins and needles here. :)

Tyler: Is that seriously all you have to say!? I feel a frowny face coming on just thinking about it.

Nora: Yes. "Your people" are awesome. They are kind and patient with my pathetic language "skills," and I'm sure they can cook well, if they were cooking for me. I think about you every day because one of the hermanas staying in my room, Hna. M (who is also going to the PRSUW mission) is from Guatemala and looks just like you! It's crazy!

Amanda: No, they don't have halloween here, but one of the senior missionary couples who lives in our hallway had a fantasma - ghost decoration outside her door and we loved to see it! Sometimes it would mysteriously move around, and sometimes it was lite up and sometimes it wasn't. It was kind of the excitement of our lives for a couple of weeks. Instead of Halloween they just celebrate Christmas for a couple months.

Pete: Thanks for the advice about the food. I appreciate it. I have decided just to not ask. Haha.

So, this is my last preperation day from the CCM. I have finally been deemed properly prepared to work as a "real" missionary out in the field. I am so excited and yet very nervous about my new expectations. I can't believe I've already been a missionary for 2 months - time goes so fast here! And yet, at the same time, it feels like I've been doing this my whole life; like I have always been studying 24/7 and living with a compañera for 24/7. I have learned so much here at the CCM and at the MTC. I have studied a lot, and a lot of previous perceptions and understandings about the gospel have either changed or been significantly enhanced. I'm excited to continue learning in the field and I'm really excited to see how missionary work works out in the field.

I am going to miss the CCM. Not only all the time we have to study and learn and grow, but also my district. The elders in my district are so awesome! They are going to be great missionaries because they're diligent and hard-working and they really know the gospel. They love the gospel and they love to share the gospel. We are so united, and I am sad we have to leave them. I am sad I have to leave my compañera, because I have learned so much from her, and we teach really well and study really well together. We are going to different missions though, so it is the end. :( I am also going to miss the random power outages, the trips to the university, and the teachers (I found out this week my girl teach likes HSM, which is awesome).

In exciting news for this week - I tried French Toast for the first time in my life on Tuesday morning. They serve it every Tuesday morning, and, after eating fruit loops and guineos (bannanas) every day for 6 weeks, I finally broke down and tried the French Toast. It was interesting, and would be willing to try it again, by mom's hand. I'm sorry I never tried your's mom, and I first had to try it from a Dominican chef.

Again, thank you so much for the letters! I'm all out of time now, but I am so happy I get to e-mail you every week and that you have been sending me letters. I really appreciate all the correspondance.

Hermana Miller

ps. If your dearelder letter was not sent before November 11, I didn't receive it. Don't use dearelder any more, because it comes in the pouch!

You have no idea how long I've been waiting to use that as a subject line on an e-mail. Hahaha.

Dear family,

I love you so much! I hope everything is going just great for you back in "the shadows of the everlasting hills." How is school/work/play?

Thank you for letters and such; I promise I've been sending letters, but they have all been Dominican post, so that is why you might not have gotten them yet. I have decided to stop sending letters until I get to Puerto Rico, because the DR postal service is frustrating me. I have received only one letter from international post, and I know that more have been sent to me, so I'm sorry if you sent a letter and I didn't respond; I just havn't received it, is all. Don't send any more letters after today, just start sending them to Puerto Rico address, and don't write any more dearelders after today, because they come in the pouch, and we'll only get pouch one more time. So, start sending letters to Puerto Rico if you want me to read them. :) It'll be awesome if I got there and already had mail waiting!

Speaking of Puerto Rico, I met my mission President today and his wife! Random, right? We were walking out of the temple and there is a mission president seminar here, so there were a ton of mission presidents just standing around, and President Martineau and his wife, Sister Martineau just come runnign up to me and they were so excited to meet me. Haha. They were so sweet. Sister Martineau wrote us little notes and gave us (the four missionaries going to her mission) a box of Reese's Pieces. It was so nice. She said "I didn't know if I would see you, and they said we couldn't look for you, but I wanted to be prepared if we 'ran into' you." Haha. She took a picture with me, and then they were driving away and she rolls down the window and takes another picture of my with my compañera. I'm so excited about them; they seem like an awesome couple.

So, the exciting thing this week was that the Latin (native Spanish speakers) arrived last week. They are pretty nice, but also kind of crazy! Not really crazy, they just have a lot of energy! We sat with a table of them last Sunday and they just are always joking around and laughing like, way hard-core. It seems exhausting. They are all very nice and patient with our Spanish though. We have two more sisters in our room and then 3 sisters in the room next-door. One of the sisters from each room is going to my mission. I was so excited to meet other missionaries going to my mission! Hna. M is from Guatemala and is so nice! She is going to oeste and I really hope I get to be companions with her some day. She speaks English pretty well, but she is really patient and helpful with my Spanish. I know having the Latinos here has really helped us, because this week at the University lots of people commented on how good our Spanish was. That was encouraging.

The Latin culture is different then ours. You know those rolls I told you about? They put ketchup on them. haha. And they but ketchup on Potato chips. I think they think it is the American thing to do, or something. The one thing is though, that princesses cross cultures. One of the hermanas has a Disney princesses cuaderno (notebook). This makes me happy. All the hermanas had a little chat about our favorite princess. One of our teachers loves Pochahontas, and one of the hermanas loves Sleeping Beauty. It was an awesome discovery. Also, they love to sing. The problem is, they all seem to be tone deaf. I'm not trying to be mean, it is just the truth. On Sunday, our first meeting with them we were singing "The Day-dawn is breaking" song, and none of the Latinos could handle the chorus. Hna. P and I were sitting right on the dividing line between a ton of Americans and a ton of Hispanics, and I just could not keep a straight face. It was hilarious. They just couldn't figure out the rhythm. It just makes me smile. They are so, so nice though. I really have a lot of respect for them because lots of them are only members in their families or have been members for only a few years.

The church has only been in the DR for like, 30 years or so, so basically no one here was born in the church. All of our teachers are converts. One of my teachers converted at age 9 without his parents. Isn't that amazing? Hno. O, he is the one who converted at age 9, he went on a mission to San Francisco, Spanish speaking, but worked in an English area for 3 months, so he learned English and can speak pretty well. The Elders here are teaching him English "Slang" phrases. So one day he struts into the classroom, and he's all like: "Ok. I'm going to break this down like fractions." Haha. It was hilarious, because we were like, "What?!?" Other words and phrases he knows are "", "gnarly," "You feel me?," "I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down," "tight," "boss," and "sick." It is pretty funny.

Another one of our teachers, Hna. P. is also learning English, but she doesn't speak it very much, but she can understand it really well unless we are talking to each other, then she says we are talking way too fast. I think it's funny, because I feel like English is so slow compared to Spanish. She always thinks we're talking about her when we say something "fast" in English and then laugh. It is sad. But she is so sweet. I like her - she is my favorite teacher.

I forgot to mention last week that I was sick. For two days. Ugh. And then I was sick again this week! Woohoo! It was actually kind of funny. I guess a good story to tell. Let's just say, I'm not eating the meat here anymore. I hardly ever eat the meat, but everytime I do, I seem to get sick. They serve two kinds of meat everyday at lunch and frequently meat at dinner. It is crazy. When you are the kind of sick that I was (I'm not getting in to it here. Hannah and Dan - you know what I'm talkin' 'bout.), you get to take this medicine that has to be chewed. When chewed, it feels like you have chalk in your mouth. So good! It is actually kind of deceptive. I thought it would be good, because it is pink and looks like candy. Like Necco wafers, but it was just a trick to get me to eat it. Sigh.

In other awesome news, we (our district) had a foosball tournament during gym one day this week (That's right - they have foosball tables here, and it counts as exercise. Haha!) We randomly picked names, and I got teamed with Elder R. from Park City. He is pretty awesome at Foosball, and I'm pretty not awesome; I've never played before. Apparently he played everyday after lunch in Jr. High though, so he was passing to himself and crazy tricks like that; scoring goals from the goalie. Anyway. We won. It was intense and we only won the tourney by like, 2 points, but we won. I am proud to say I scored about 5 goals. Wow! As prize, we all brought dulces we had and put them in a pile, and the winners choose what they want, and left 2 for second place team. I was awesome. I love our district.

That's about all I have time for. I have one more Preperation day here and then I'm off to Puerto Rico! Less than 2 weeks before I'll be a "real" missionary. :) Yay!

Hermana Miller

Hola familia! ¿Cómo estan? Everything is A-ok and bueno here in the CCM. La República Dominicana is still hot and sunny, and we still eat pineapple everyday. Qué maravilloso!

This week was pretty awesome. On Sundays we watch an Apostle DVD, which means we watch a recorded devotional that an apostle gave in Provo some time earlier. This week we watched one by Jeffery R. Holland, which was awesome, because I have to say he is so bold, and so straightforward, and so passionate, I just love listening to his talks. I think I mentioned in an earlier e-mail how I loved his conference talk on the Book of Mormon, and this talk was awesome too. He is passionate about missionary work, and every talk I see of his where he is talking to missionaries, he always tell us to not waste our time while we were on the Lord's time - he told us to work hard. He told us that when you run the perfect race (in track or something) you end up hitting the tape and crashing. That is how or mission's should be like - we should pace ourselves just right so that when we don't have to give anymore we can't. He also had a little bit about how we are just like young, hopeful, prayerful medical students. We are studying to save people's lives, and we really need to take that seriously, because people's eternal lives here really are at stake. It is kind of important.

In our district meeting afterwards (which is later on in the night where we get together as a district and talk about what we liked about the devotional and then usually do something else because it doesn't take the whole amount of time we're given. One of the Elder's said this: We are so lucky that we get such a long time to be in the MTC to get ready for our missions, because we won't have as much dedicated time ever again on our missions, or really for our lives. I thought that was really good, because he was right - we are lucky to get to prepare and study for so long. I was kind of getting sick of studying so much; I just wanted to go out and started teaching real people with real lives and real problems, but now I am ok and even happy that I get to stay and prepare so much before I go. So, in summary. The Jeffery R. Holland talk we saw was great and uplifting and wonderful, and all that good stuff.

We went to the University this week (again) and it was great (again). We ran into a lady that we had talked to last week, and it was cool because we could follow-up on her reading and talk to here some more about the church. We ended up teaching most of Lesson 1 and my companion even recited the first vision, which was awesome! The lady (who we refer to as 'the lady on the wall' because we couldn't understand her name - names here are so different!) said she believes the church is true (!), but she doesn't think she needs to go to church to worship; she can just worship in her heart and in her mind. We were all like, oh. That's cool, but not right, but we didn't really know what to say in response. Mostly because I couldn't understand her and didn't know what she had said until my companion told me as we were walking away (she had a really heavy accent and talked rather fast).

We also ran into a pair of guys who were really friendly - they told us all about a trip they took to America and how they thought every one was so nice and really humble and didn't judge them for the color of their skin. I was really surprised to hear that he thought American's were humble. I have never ever heard that before. As we were walking away, my companion told me that it was because they we visiting on the 21 and 22 of September in 2001. And then I understood. It's amazing how a conversation can change when you know small details like that which you missed. Haha.

I keep wanting to tell you about what the city is like, but I keep forgetting. It is so different here! When I cross the streets I fear for my life. Haha. The drivers really are CRAZY! There is honking all the time, and they weave in and out and cut off and turn in front of on-coming cars. It is amazing I haven't seen an accident, gotten hit, or seen any one else get hit. There is also a ton of garbage everywhere. I don't know why, but it is everywhere. And then there are stray dogs around too, which is strange. The worst thing about the stray dogs is that they are UGLY. Seriously. Tan feo. And they probably smell too, but I haven't gotten close enough to check. So, the drivers, garbage and stray dogs are weird, but probably one of the craziest things though is there are open man-holes in the sidewalks. I'm serious. There are holes in the sidewalks with no lids on them! Crazy! Anyway, that is what the DR is like.

Big news this week was that we went to the store. Wow! So cool! It was quite an adventure, really. We all got on a bus (they call them guaguas here) and drove to "La Sirena," or, being interpreted, "The Mermaid." I don't know why it was called The Mermaid, but thus it was. Getting there was kind of cool because it was kind of like what I imagine it would be like to ride on the knight bus. You know - the purple bus from Harry Potter? We swerve in and out of every one, we almost run into other vehicles, etc. The only difference is that things don't jump out of our way, so we have to slam on the brakes sometimes. Sweet.

The store itself was cool. It was two floors and was kind of like a super Wal-mart. They had everything, but still not as much selection as in the US. It was kind of like playing store as a little kid because everything was priced in Dominican pesos (seeing as we're in the DR), and there are 35 pesos to every one US dollar. So, I bought a package of ten envelopes for 18 pesos or something, which sounds like a lot, but really, it was less than a dollar! Cool! So, it was kind of weird to see shirts priced at $500, but it was really less than $20. Funny. So, the really horrible thing though was how much some stuff cost. I had to buy facewash and it cost $425. That is like $12. I think it is because no one needs facewash here, (because their skin is naturally beautiful I think...?) so they don't need much selection (there were like, two to choose from) and they can charge a lot. Ah well. Not so bad. We went to the food section because we had tons of extra time, and the produce was loco! The avocados were as large as grapefruits and the carrots were as fat as my forearms. Haha. Not that big (for the carrots) but yes, that big for the avocados. No joke.

Anyway, that is all the fun we have going on this week. Let me know how you're all doing! I haven't gotten any mail this week! Triste! (Well, I did get one from Ty-ty, but that's it!)

I love you and hope you're doing well!


Yes mom, I am in a better place, but I'm not dead. Haha. Don't you worry about me. I'm doing fine.

The Dominican Republic continues to be ever-so-exciting. Actually, it is kind of just the same thing here, day-in and day-out. We even have a food schedule that doesn't change; every Wednesday night we have pasta, for example. And every Thursday night we have hot dogs. These are both very different from their American counterparts. The spaghetti, for example, has the distinct flavor of beans and cumin. Oh-how delicious. As one of the Elder's in our district but it "They probably just thought one day, 'You know, I'm sick of rice and beans, lets put noodles with the beans!' Well, it worked for the Chinesse, but not so well for the Dominicans." Haha. Pretty funny. It was still edible, of course, but not quite as wonderful as my creations. On Thursdays we have a "special" soup for lunch. It is special because it's not rice and beans. Another one of the Elders in my district observed this week while we were eating it, "Hey, one of my buddies was telling me about chicken-foot stew. I bet you this is what he was talking about." I would like to say he was kidding, but he is serious. It is called "Soncocho" (I'm not sure how you spell it), and is something Dominicans only serve for special guests. We get it every P-day. If the "chicken-foot stew" concept wasn't visual enough for you, my companion observed the following: "There was a graveyard in my soup today!" And that my friends, is Sancocho. It really is pretty tasty, but there are pieces of meat in there that no one can identify and there is bones up the wazoo (which kind of adds a special kind of risk to meal-times) and there are huge chunks of papas (potatoes) and plantains. You put rice and avocado in it and eat up...but very carefully so you don't accidently swallow or otherwise severly intereact with a bone. I really do like it, I think I just prefer rice and beans.

So, it seems like I talk about food a lot in my e-mails, but that is only because that is the only thing that really changes around here. so, like I said, we usually have a very strict schedule as far as food is concerned. We eat sancocho on Thursday afternoons, because Thursday is preperation day. It's a special "treat" for going to the temple. This week however, we mixed things up a bit. We had Sancocho yesterday for almuerzo. "But why?! Why would we break routine like that?" That is a really great question. We had a special visitor this week, and he was here on Tuesday and Wednesday. We had Sancocho on Wednesday as a special Goodbye feast. So who was this special guest who warrented such a special change in routine? None other than Elder Hinckley and his wife.

Elder Hinckley is the son of President Hinckley, is a member of the first quorum of the seventy, and the head of the missionary department. He has been in the DR for about a week touring the missions here and checking out the CCM. He is pretty nice guy. The only results of his evaluation (that they announced to the general missionary population) was that the sisters (that's me and my companion) don't have to wait in line at meals - we get to go straight to the front of the line. I'm happy he came. Haha. Seriously though, the elders were pretty nice about that anyway; we always got to skip in front of some elders and often they clean our plates off for us, which is very sweet.

The Hinckleys spoke to us on Tuesday morning and they gave some pretty nice talks. Sister Hinckley told a story about how Sister Hinckley was dying during conference and President Hinckley didn't want her to go during that hard time, so he took a frame that was on his desk that said "Don't Quit" and went to her bedside and asked her not to quit. She died an hour after his last meeting. The moral of the story was to not quit. Keep going to matter how hard it takes.-

Elder Hinckley talked about missionary work for a while. One thing he told us was that there were 8,000 missionaries when he went on a mission in 1961 or sometime like that, and now there are 52,000. Dang! Can you believe that!? It was crazy to read about that.

So, I want to talk about the elders for a quick minute. They are pretty cool. Sometimes (not often, but sometimes) it is difficult to believe they're only 19 years old - they seem to know a lot and really know what they're doing. One of my favorite stories was my companion and I were studying one morning, and we look up and two elders in our district are teaching "Juan," an investigator they drew onto the white board. So funny. They were sincerely teaching him and bearing testimony. I loved it.

On the other side of things, they are very young sometimes. I have two really wonderful stories about that. One happened in the lunch room. All of a sudden I can hear a ton of elders laughing at the end of our table, so we ask what is going on. Remember how I told you we have bananas for every meal? Apparently one of the elders wanted to see if he could be like King Louie from the jungle book and squeeze his banana out of the peel. It was quite hilarious because he just ended up with banana pudding. The best part of this whole thing though, was that I think he actually thought that he could do it. Sigh.

The next story is for you Tyler. You should be grateful mom is making you do your own laundry now, because it is quite obvious that not every boy knows how to. One of the Elders here did his laundry the first week we were here. He put all his whites in with his blue towels. He washed the load with warm water. Now, he wears light blue shirts around. He has no white shirts left. Haha.

Needless to say, the CCM itself is boring, meaning we do the same thing over and over, day-in -day-out, week after week, but the CCM's inhabitants keep it interesting for us all.

My favorite thing about being here is being able to go to the University of Mondays. It is kind of the shining light of my week and the shineing light of my MTC experience. I get to meet random people and talk about the church, which is awesome! It helps me realize why I'm here studying so hard. It's so I can help them! It gives me an extra boost to make it through the week. I can't wait to get the Puerto Rico so I can contact and tract and talk and teach to people ALL THE TIME! I love going to the university. Unfortunately, we only go once a week. Shucks.

Well, I love you all! Thanks so much to you who went me letters this week. We get the dearelders, but the sad thing is is that they don't print them off for us until Wednesday night. I got my first correspondence in two weeks last night, and it felt so good! I don't know why mail is so wonderful, but alas. That is the life of a missionary. Since I am all out of American stamps, you'll all have to wait for my letters to come because they are being sent Dominican post - sorry!

Seriously. Thanks to all you who wrote. It made my day.

Hermana Miller

ps. Happy birthday to Dad - both of the birthdays; I forgot to acknowledge it earlier this month, seeing as it was right after I arrived here and was going CRAZY! Seriously though, have a fun time without me.

Hola Familia!

Le amo mucho! I hope everything is going just so wonderfully back in the real world - and back in the United States. That's right. I am in a FOREIGN COUNTRY! Wow! That is pretty cool! It is very different here. Like I told you before, there is only on other sister here, and so naturally, we are companions. She is pretty cool, and pretty great at Spanish to, which is helpful.

First important news: We have a pouch mail address. Do you know the rules for pouch mail? One sheet of paper, tri-folded stamped (with a US $0.44 stamp) and addressed to:

Hermana Janae Miller
Dominican Republic MTC
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

If you use the pouch, the letter will cost you less to send and may even get to me faster. Schveet! The letter for packages is the same as the one I left you from my packet. That is:

Hermana Janae Miller
Templo de los Mormones
Ave Bolivar #825
Esq. Genesis Los Robles
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

So, if you use that address (the República Dominicana address) make sure to add "Templo de los Mormones" at the top because every body knows where that is, so it gets here faster. Haha.

Also, it is important to note that the website works for this MTC too. That is, you can write a letter on, and they will print it off here and deliver it to! So, now that you know there are three options for mail, I'll be expecting some correspondence this week!

So, the MTC here is pretty small - maybe like 50 missionaries? I'm not sure, but there aren't a lot. We all live and study and eat in one building right next door to the temple. It is a pretty nice building. The food here is interesting. At every meal there are bananas. Every meal. And also these roll things that look a little like hot dog buns (in that they're long and slender and soft) but taste better. For breakfast every morning we have corn flakes, raisen bran, or Fruit Loops. The milk they drink is irradiated, so I'm afraid to try it. I do hope they have real milk in Puerto Rico. Maybe I'll try the irradiated stuff before I leave. Lunch is the biggest meal, and every day we have beans and rice and two types of meat. I eat the meat (sometimes) though it kind of frightens me. For dinner we usually have a smaller some somethin', such as tacos or fajitas. They use a lot of lard here in the cooking. I mean, I haven't actually seen them cook, but you can tell by how it tastes...and by how it drips. We have to drink bottled water because the water here is safe for us pampered Americans.

Our teachers here are all native Dominicanas. They claim to not speak any English (although I know they do speak a little), but it is good because now we are forced to listen to Spanish a lot and forced to attempt to speak it too. My favorite teach is Hermana Parra. She went on a mission 2 years ago, and she is funny. She says "Ay mi Madre" all the time, which is kind of like "Ohmigosh!" and she even says "Hota-kaa" (like j/k, but in Spanish?) sometimes because some other elders who came through before us taught her that one. Haha. It is fun to learn Spanish by someone speaking only Spanish. I really feel like my language skills are increasing, though I'm still not speaking too well.

Relief Society was weird, since there is just me and my companion, the President's wife and the 1st Counselor's wife (there is no second counselor, and thus no second counselor's wife). It was pretty fast too - we ended like, 20 minutes early because we kind of ran out of things to say. Haha. Awkward.... But, there are supposed to be five hispanic sisters coming in 2 weeks, so that will liven things up a bit.

Sorry I couldn't call you back in Miami; there were no phones in our concourse, and we would have had to run to the other side of the airport to access them. So, we decided not too. I'll probably call you before I go to Puerto Rico though. I had a pretty cool experience on the plane from Miami to Santo Domingo. I sat in the second last row of the plane...all the way in the back of this huge jumbo-jet thing, next to two Dominicanas. They were so nice! We chatted for a long time, and they were very patient with my Spanish and they told me all about the DR. The wife took out a little calling card with her name, numbers, and e-mail address on it and she told me if I ever needed any help while I was in the DR to call her and they would help me. So sweet! Finally they started asking questions about the church. I had tried to introduce the church before in the convesation, but they didn't seem to want to talk about it. They did tell me though, that they met "mormones" (that's what we are called down here) about 30 years ago, and the husband stopped smoking. I thought that was cool. They are older: they have 26 and 30 year old children (something like that). Anyway. When we started talking about the church, they had a lot of questions, and ironically, this is the area of the conversation I knew the least amount of vocabulary for (we hadn't practiced teaching in Spanish yet in Provo), but they continued to be patient, and the wife seemed to be really touched by the story of Joseph Smith, so I asked her how she felt while I was telling the Jospeh Smith story. And, she said "I felt...interested." Fail! I was so disappointed. I knew she felt more than just interested! Sad. Then the husband went off, and he was hard to understand because he had a rougher voice and was sitting further away from me, so it was hard to understand, but he said something about how they were Catholics, and the God still loves them, and it's fine that we're Mormons, but they are religious too...or something like that. I don't know exactly what was coming out. They were still nice after that though. She even offered to let me call home, and I accepted, but the call would not go through because our home phone doesn't accept calls from unidentified numbers. Nice. Thanks. Anyway, that was a really great experience.

On Monday afternoon, we had our first outing to the city. We walked over to the University (a 15 minute walk or so) and practiced contacting people. That was a pretty daunting, but exhilarating and fulfilling experience. We do it every week. We just go to the University and talk to random people, bear our testimony and give them a pamphlet. We had some interesting experiences. One was Marta. She was so sweet. I was talking to her, and she's all like "Why are you so nervous? You don't have to be nervous?" And I'm all like, "Umm...because I don't know how to speak? Yeah. That's why I'm nervous." But she was so nice. Apparently some of her cousins joined the church a couple years ago, but she doesn't know much about the church because they live far away from her. There were so many things I wanted to say but I didn't know how to! Let me tell you. It is so frustrating when you can understand what people are saying, but don't have the ability to respond. I just can't think fast enough. I know eventually I'll be able to say what I want, but I was frustrated on Monday because I'm just not to that point yet. We gave her a pamphlet and told her to call the missionaries. It was nice.

We also met Francisco and the University. He actually came up to us and asked us if we could hook him up with an English bible. All we had was a Spanish Book of Mormon, but he had a lot of questions about religion that we talked to him for about 35 or 40 minutes. That was pretty good. We got him to take the Book of Mormon, even though it was in Spanish. I really think he was interested and that he would be a great investigator, because he has really thought a lot of stuff out. But, initiallty he didn't want the Libro de Mormón because he is trying to learn English and wanted to us the scriptures to do that. Hmm. We´re like. You´ll get a lot more out of it if you read it in your native tongue. So, we told him to call the missionaries because he wanted to know when and where church was, but we didn´t know! Because we've never been there! But, we also took his phone number just to make sure he makes it to church. That was a pretty cool (yet exhausting) experience.

We went to the temple today and it was so nice. I love going to the temple. They call people on missions to be workers in the temple, so we had a session all in English. We also did what they call preliminaries here. Also in English. It was nice, but it sure took a long time! I felt kind of bad, because it was all missionaries and then some Dominicanas in the session, but they had to wear head phones because we were having an English session. It was like we were taking over there temple. Triste. Anyway, it was beautiful and lovely and all that good stuff.

Oh, one more thing about the DR. The lights go out at random times during the day, which is weird, no? I don't know if it's because it's so hot, or if it's because they have a poor infrastructure. I'm pretty sure it's the latter. Anyway, we luckily have a generator, so they're off for a few seconds (20 or 30 seconds) and then they kick back on again. When it first happened, everyone from the DR said "Welcome to the DR!" Haha. That is the answer they give too, when I ask why it happens they say "It's because we're in the DR." Haha.

Well, I should probably get going. I hope everything is going well for you all. I love you and hope to hear from you soon, now that you have no excuse!

Hermana Miller

ps. The pictures are from the Provo MTC. Here is an explanation of them:

34: Our Provo companionship. Hna. G on the left, Hna. N. in the middle, and me on the right (obviously).

69: The map in Provo MTC. Utah is so far away from the DR/PR!

59: This means I'm official.

93: The Hermanas in our district. There is a story to why we're all wearing purple, but maybe I'll tell it next week.

96: Haha. Our favorite pass-time at the MTC: peeking into classrooms. So fun! Don't know why.

91: Our district with out teachers, Hno. C. and Hno. H.

71: Our district at the temple.

72: Our zone at the temple.

33: Haha. The height difference in our companionship. I love these girls! They are so awesome. They are still in Provo and on their way to Paraguay. They're going to be so awesome!

Sorry all these pictures today - computers in Provo don't let you do pictures, but computers here do. Yay!

I'll be on my way to the DR! I'm way excited for that! We got our travel plans last Friday and I have to meet at the travel office at 3am. So...I don't know if you want a call from me or not, because I'll probably be at the airport at like, 4:30 or something insane like that. I have two layovers though, so maybe I'll call you then. You'll have to let me know. I am really excited to go to the Dominican Republic MTC because I know that I will learn the language so much faster least I hope so. I feel like I am in the wrong class here, because I am a little more advanced then the others in my district. There is a test you can take to see if you should be bumped up to the next class, but they didn't let me take it because I am going to the DR. It's not a big deal, it's just frustrating because when we have "Spanish-only days" I feel like I can communicate fine, but none of my district can talk back to me, so it doesn't even matter. I fear everyone in the DR will be so far above my level though, but I guess that means I'll be able to be pulled up faster.

In other news, I got to get three shots today! It feels great. Haha. Seriously though, I didn't even feel them going in. Kids now-a-days are so lucky. Those needles are tiny! One of them is hurting more than the others right now. One of them was a tetanus booster, and I think that is the one that is burning.

This week we had a really funny experience at the TRC, which is where you go once a week to teach volunteers a lesson and do a language task. So, for example. This week we had to contact someone in Spanish and talk about their family, link their family to the gospel and testify and then set up a return appointment. Then we had to return 10 minutes later and teach the 1st lesson in English to the person we set the appointment with and one other "family member." It went really well, but the other family member that was there was funny. It was her first time volunteering at the TRC, and she got there late, so they didn't have a chance to tell her what she was doing, apparently. So she didn't play an investigator. She was just herself. Haha. She just got baptized like 6 months ago or something, and then she just moved to Utah like 2 weeks ago. We asked to start with a prayer, and said one of them could pray at the end, after we taught them how. Then right as we're about to start, she bursts into this eloquent prayer in Spanish, and we could hardly contain ourselves because we thought she was an investigator. Haha. She was very sweet and shared her testimony a lot and shared some spiritual experiences that were good for our "investigator" to hear. Now I know why we want to have members at lessons...because they can offer a completely different perspective then full-time missionaries offer. So, that was all good, and kind of funny. But, the best part was at the end. We extended a commitment to Spencer, our investigator to be baptized, and she looks all surprised and looks over at Spencer and is like, "Oh, you're not a member? Oh, really? Hmmm." It was so funny! We could hardly contain ourselves. When we left we busted up laughing. I hope someone tells her what she is supposed to do next week. Haha.

So, general conference was pretty schveet. It is cool how they do it here at the MTC. Usually for large MTC-wide meetings, like firesides (on Sunday) and devotionals (on Tuesdays) there are only most of the missionaries in the large gym and then they have an overflow area in the chapels that are in the large administration building. But they rearrange the seating for Conference and add enough chairs so all the missionaries can sit together in the gym. They said there were 2,104 of us there. It was really cool, because if I had gotten stuck in the overflow, the singing wouldn't have been nearly as awesome. I love singing as a large group, and when you have 2,104 missionaries in the same room, it. is. cool. I thought conference was so cool! And it seemed to fly by so fast. Actually, time here at the MTC seems to fly by really fast in general. I can't believe it's already preperation day again; it seems like it was just yesterday. Anyway, there were a lot of good talks. I liked the talk when he told us (I think it was Richard G. Scott) to be patient with yourself while you're learning to follow the promptings of the spirit. That is definitely something that is hard for me. We can feel the spirit often while we're teaching, but it is hard to have that trust and learn how to follow the spirit to know exactly what to say or exactly where to turn in the scriptures. I also liked Elder Holland's talk about the Book of Mormon because it was so powerful. Everyone in the gym was just entranced and we couldn't help but just stare at the screen. It was pretty awesome. I wish I could bear a testimony like that. I feel like the themes of this conference were God's love and listening to the spirit. I think that is great, because the first lesson focuses a lot on God's love, and I have been really concerned lately about listening to the spirit. Conference weekend was great.

Thanks for the package; I kind of wish you hadn't dropped it off though. When you have a package dropped off, they call you down to the front desk during dinner. Yeah. I was in the Cafeteria just minding my own business, and then over the loudspeaker, "Would Sister Janae Miller please come to the front desk?" I had no reason to be embarassed, and I wasn't, but I felt my face get red. Haha. Thanks for the speedy response to my request though. The food was good, the pictures turned out pretty well, and the tights are keeping me warm...and in line with MTC dress code.

Thanks so much for your support. I continue to get a letter almost daily, which is pretty special. Just make sure that if you send a letter this week it will get here by Wednesday, because I won't be here on Thursday to pick up any letters. You can go to and you can type a letter and they will print it for free and deliver it to the MTC on the same day you type it so that way, you're guarenteed delivery by Wednesday. You have to send it before noon so something though, so make sure you don't do it too late.

I love you,
Hermana Miller


Here I am at the MTC, and honestly, it feels like I've been here forever! I can't believe it's only been a week, because I've done so much and I've learned so much! They keep us really busy here. I am in classes for about 8 hours a day, and then we study a lot on our own; personal study, companionship study, and language study.

So, like I said in my first letter, that hand written scribble I sent home on Thursday night, I am in a trio of Sisters, meaning that instead of just one companion, I get to have two! One is Hermana Galbraith, and she is from Indiana. I knew her while I was at Purdue, but not very well. I have gotten to know her better though, and she is awesome. She kind of reminds me of my BYU roommate, Allison. The other companion is Hermana Nelson, from Saint George. They are both going to Paraguay, Asuncion North. The really funny thing is that through some crazy random happenstance, they knew each other before getting here too. Facebook. Haha. Anyway, they are awesome and such a good example for me. Hermana Nelson is always good in lessons to bear her testimony first and really invite the spirit and Hermana Galbraith always has a good story to share with the "investigator."

I think the hardest thing about being a missionary (so far) is the teaching part! We are definitely getting better, but it is kind of stressful, but I feel like we're learning the lessons well, and we are learning how to transition between sisters and topics. We taught a really great lesson to the other hermanas in our district, and the spirit was so strong. We all came back to our classroom teary-eyed and sniffly-nosed. I think the elders think we're ridiculous, but they still love us.

Our district is made up of 12 missionaries, all going to South America. The other two hermanas are going to Argentina Mendosa, along with two Elders, and two elders are going to Paraguay with my comps. There is another trio of elders as well, who are coming with me to the DR MTC. They are serving in Puerto Rico San Juan East, and DR Santo Domingo East. I really like my district. The elders are very respectful; they always hold doors and take our trays at meals. They are easy to get along with and we are getting to know them better. We have set goals that includes something called BB (breakfast buddies...haha) in which we eat breakfast together everyday, and DGD (district gym day) where we play together in gym, like volleyball or knockout. Since we spend so much time together in class, we are getting really close. It seems like we've known them much longer than just a week.

We also sit with our zone at meals, which is nice because all the elders are fun to get to know and very friendly. Our zone is made up of several districts (classes) and has a wide range of levels, meaning some districts in our zone are leaving next week, while our distrcit is the youngest, and we're not leaving for 8 weeks.

I did get my departure date ironed out; I am still going to the DR MTC and I leave on October 15. That is only two weeks from today! Crazy! I'm pretty excited, because I think I'll learn a lot faster down there. Both the language, and the teaching skills. I guess instead of teaching volunteers, you actually go out and teach on university campuses and in neighborhoods in the surrounding areas. That will be stressful, but a really good learning opportunity.

Speaking of stressful, we went to the RC for the first time this week, and I practically had a breakdown! Haha. It was kind of intense. For those who don't know, the RC is the referal center, and this is where we accept calls from people who want to know more about the church, or where we call people who request some materials in the mail (such as a Book of Mormon, Bible, or DVD) to make sure they received it. Then we answer any questions they have, bear our testimonies and then invite representatives (i.e. other missionaries) to come and visit to tell them more. My first call, no one answered. On the second one though, which was a call to someone in Chicago, someone answered, and I "totally freak out." It was hard! There was no reason for it to be though; they have a basic script for you to follow, and then you bear your testimony when they say to, and it shouldn't be that terrible, right? No. When I got off the phone, and was just kind of frozen, and then my companions and the teacher were all like "It's all right, Hermana Miller..." And then I just started crying. I was just overwhelmed. Seriously though, I think I'll be better next week. We go to the RC every week to make calls, because you can make some really important contacts that way. I made more calls that day, but I only got answering machines, in which case you have to hang up. But, they didn't tell us how to hang up...haha. There is a funny story there. Hermana Galbraith was on the phone and she got an answering machine, so she thought the computer hangs up for you...but it doesn't. So, she was just talking away and saying, "what do I do next?" and stuff like that, and then we realized she was still on the line. Haha. Someone got a really strange message in their inbox that day. :)

So, I saw new missionaries coming in yesterday, and a I got a little tear in my heart because I remember when that was me...a week ago. Haha. But, it was kind of a sad day...saying goodbye and all, but everyone at the MTC was so, so welcoming, that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. After you dropped me off, those elders took me over to my building and dropped off my luggage. Then, a sister came and took me and my luggage up to my room and just dropped it, and then we went to get everything I needed. We went over to the big administration building where they checked us in and gave us our name tags and companion info. Then we went to the bookstore to pick up a big bag of books and such, then we went to our classroom and met our teachers and the other members of our district. Our teachers are really nice. And funny. Well, one of them is more funny, and one of them is more serious, but maybe we'll get into that another day. The sister who took me around was so nice and helpful and friendly and welcoming, and I was happy she was there to make me feel more welcome.

The rest of the first week was crazy hard, but everybody kept saying, "just wait until Sunday." They were right. Sunday was awesome. It was relaxing and we got lots of useful things done, but it was just more laid back and we didn't have to go to class or anything.

I have already learned how to testify and pray in Spanish. We aren't very good; we sound like a ton of 5 year olds, but we are sincere, and I guess that is all that matters.

The Coordinating Sister thing is kind of like Relief Society President for your zone, and since the only hermanas in our zone are in our distrcit, it's really easy. Really all it means is that I have to go to more meetings and try to help my sisters along. Which, all of the sisters in our district are awesome, so nothing really terrible has happened yet. I feel like we get on quite well, which is really a blessing for all of us.

Thanks to everyone who wrote me letters this week; I think I have gotten one everyday, except for the day our district leader forgot to pick up the mail :(. It really feels good to get mail to hear how everyone is doing. I promise I'll write you back soon.

Love you all,

Hermana Miller

Last night I was set apart as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am excited and grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the Lord and His children for the next 18 months. Today I am arriving at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT where I will begin to learn the language and the most effective ways to teach people the gospel.

My brother Tyler is posting my letters home online for all to read, but that doesn't mean I won't write individual letters to each of you! My addresses are on the right side of the page and I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for your support and for being such great friends. I hope to hear from you soon, and if not, I'll see you soon (um. 18 months soon). :)

Sister Miller