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!