Dear Family,

This week was a cool week. Basically, we had the best mission conference ever on Saturday because Elder Bednar himself came. For my friends who don't know, Elder Bednar is a member of the Quorum of the 12 apostles. There are only 12 apostles on the earth, and they are called of God to be prophets, seers and revelators and special witnesses of Christ for the whole world. Remember when Christ called twelve apostles in the New Testament? This is the same thing; they have been called of God and have the authority to act in his name and receive revelation for the benefit of the world. Their responsibility is the preach the gospel, direct the church through revelation, and to be the Lord's hands here on the earth. Basically, it is a great privelage that he and his wife came to speak to the people here in Puerto Rico. On Saturday morning, the two missions had a special meeting with just the two missions (east and west), and it was way cool! Elder Costa and his wife also came, and Elder Viñes, who is president of the Caribe Area.

So. This is how it all went down. We got to wake up an hour early (5:30am. Yay! I didn't realize before what a blessing it was to "sleep in" until 6:30) and meet the rest of our zone and another zone (Our area) in the office. When we all got there, we all got into our little Corollas and made a caravan to the chapel in Caguas. It was really rather exciting because there were about 15 cars all in a row, the whole way to Caguas, which is about 30 or 45 minute drive. We were all corollas and then halfway there we met a caravan being led my the President, who was leading another zone in. So, we all joined together and it was kind of like Corollas were just taking over the roadway. If only there was some way I could take a picture of that. But. Believe it or not...that was not the best part of the day, haha. The best part was when we got there and actually met Elder Bednar.

In preperation, we had read two of his talks that he asked us to read, "Ask in Faith" and "Seek learning by Faith". The first was from General Conference recently (2008) and the second was a talk given to religious educators in the Salt Lake Valley. They were good talks and I learned a lot from them, and I would recommend them to any one who would like to learn more about how our prayers can be more effective, meaningful, sincere, and how we can be directed to answers to our own questions through the gift of prayer. We also were encouraged to think on some questions that we would like answered, and using the doctrine taught in his talks, learn as much as we could about our questions and them come prepared to receive personal revelation at the conference.

When they arrived, we first heard the testimonies of the wives and then we heard a short report on what is being done in Haiti by the church, which is quite interesting. President Viñes, as president of the area is in charge of the relief effort there, so we heard it straight from him and it was interesting to hear about the church in action. Next, Elder Bednar asked if we had read the talks and asked if we had any questions that we needed clarifying on the talks. That is what the meeting was. Questions and answers, but he wasn't giving us all the answers that we wanted. He was directing us towards the answers and we were all taught by the spirit. It was really cool.

About halfway through, we asked people to raise their hands if they had come to the conference with a question, and without asking the question or talking about the question if they had received an answer, and about 60% of us missionaries classified ourselves in this group. He pointed out what a miracle that really is...and it is evidence of the Spirit working in a meeting. It was really cool, and I enjoyed the conference a lot.

One of my favorite things that I learned was the difference between agents and objects. He talks about it a little bit in his talk "Seek learning by Faith."

Another plus of the conference (other than the fun caravan and the visit from an apostle...) is that I got to see and even briefly talk to my companion from the CCM in the DR, Hna. P. !! It was great and it felt really good. Man, I miss that girl. It was good to see her.

Saturday was a great day.

Other exciting things that happened this week include the following:

1. Someone mistook me for a Mexican, which is strange, because I am clearly Gringa and it is easy enough to see this based on my white skin and my atrocious accent. But, I thought it was funny. We laughed pretty hard.

2. We were (almost) attacked by dogs. Ahh! It was terrifying! Usually the dogs are locked behind gates and they just jump on the gates to try to scare us away. But this week, we were walking down the street and for some reason, someone's gates were open (both of them) and their two dogs come bounding out of the house and start barking at us and got really close and almost touched us. Wow. It was scary. But, we escaped. As we returned down the same street, they came again, and the owner actually appeared this time and didn't even seem concerned that her dogs were terrorizing two innocent misioneras. Ay. Stress.

3. We met a women who, upon discovering we were saints of the last days declared that she was a member of the church from the first days "All the way back to Genesis, that is." Sometimes I think I understand what people are saying, but I doubt myself because...well, sometimes it's just so weird. But, after asking my companion, she confirmed that this is, in fact what she said, and we laughed. Looking back, there are lots of things I could have said, if only I didn't doubt my ability to understand. But, again. It was funny.

We didn't have a lot of appointments this week, but we did have some good experiences with investigators. We were knocking doors last week or earlier this week...I don't remember, and we met a 13 or 14 year old boy, Dioney and he said that he thought his parents would be interested, and that we could come back and talk to them when they were there. We said we would come back another day, but later. That same day we met José, who we left a pamphlet of the first lesson with. He was interested in the message we had, but didn't want to set an appointment. He has been looking around at a lot of different churches and is clearly in search of God and the truth. We left him with the pamphlet and without an appointment to return. Later this week, we decided it was time to stop by the visit Dioney. As usual, we parked a little bit up the street, but that day we parked a little bit further away that usual for some reason, around the corner. José lives in the house on the corner and as we were walking by, he comes running out of the house to talk to us. He said he read the pamphlet and wanted to know how the get a Book of Mormon. We talked some, and he seems to be really interested. He thought he had to pay for a Book of Mormon, and was excited when we said it was free. We left him with a Book of Mormon and an appointment to return tonight, so I am really excited to see how the appointment goes.

Since we didn't have a lot of appointments this week we did a lot of knocking, and we actually found a lot of people. I have been trying harder to use a different approach with each person, and try to just follow the spirit in order to say what they most need to hear, but this is very had, because you don't always know where you're going, or what will come out of your mouth next, because you have never said it before. But, although it is harder and a little bit more stressful, we have really been blessed for working by the spirit like this. On one street we scheduled about 5 appointments, which is like, a miracle. Usually we can get get one appointment on a street...if it is a long street and we're lucky. But, it was because we were following the spirit and I know that we were really blessed for that. The spirit knows what the people need to hear, and we just need to be in tune so we can say what they need to hear in order to accept the gospel in their lives. We haven't taught any one yet, but I'm excited to return and teach them because we met a couple families, which is always exciting.

Lastly, we went and taught Orlando again yesterday with his wife, and there also was a neighbor friend, and she was so cool! Her name is Mariely and her husband is in the hospital getting chemo for Leukemia (I think). She really seemed interested in our message and committed to read in the book of Mormon. She was answering questions and helping explain concepts to Orlando, so it was very exciting. We can tell that she is prepared to learn the gospel, because she already has such a good background and understanding of how the Lord works through the spirit. It is very exciting and we're returning later this week to teach her again.

All-in-all, a great week. We had a zone conference on Monday , which was also awesome, but a little overshadowed by the mission conference we had on Saturday.

Thanks so much for your love and support. I love you all and hope everything is going great back at home. Enjoy the snow. :)

Hermana Miller

Dear family,

I'm sorry I couldn't write last week; it was a holiday here! I'm still not sure who we were celebrating...someone important in Puerto Rican history, so that meant the library was closed. Luckily, we had a zone conference yesterday in place of Preperation Day. If P-day had been yesterday, you would have been two weeks without an e-mail from me, and wouldn't that be sad? I have a lot of things to tell you all though, because of the two week break from e-mail.

First of all the funny things (there are always so many when you are knocking doors as much as we do). As sub-80 degree temperatures continued this week, the people of Bayamón suffered. While knocking doors we encountered people in scarves, sweatshirts, and bundled up in blankets. One of our investigators couldn't attend us because when we came by, she was just too cold to unwrap herself from her coat and blanket to attend us. Haha. It kind of cracked me up. My companion was also suffering though; she wore a sweater all day one day, and was always cold. In everyone's defense, it was a lot colder than it usually is, but the lowest temperature that I witnessed was 73, so there really is not a lot to complain about.

The reason it was so cold is that it rained for about a week. And it was crazy rain like I told you about last time it rained; really heavy downpouring rain, that is. Our garage is not level with our house. Somehow (we're still not sure how) the rain enters into the garage when it rains a lot (like it did this week) and then, if it rains a ton (like it did this week) it starts to enter the house. So, one day this week we woke up and the kitchen had started to flood! It was quite exciting of an adventure, because since the ground is not level, when we swept the water out, it just kind of came back in. Luckily, the lady who owns and rents the apartment is always there and ready to help and she lent us a big scuigi on a stick, like they have at the pools. This helped a lot, but we had to continually use it every 30 minutes or so. Haha. It was crazy, but now our house is dry and nothing important got wet, just the floor, which is all tile anyway.

One of the things I really wanted to tell you about last week is about how new missionaries arrived last Tuesday (January 5). This was really exciting because 1. I am not one of the newest missionaries in the mission anymore!, and 2. Since we are in an area right on the edge of the mission and the mission home is just over the mission border in the east mission, we got to go and pick up one of the new sisters and take her out with us for a few hours. It was so fun! Her name is Sister Summers and she was really sweet. We were really worried because we didn't have any difinite appointments, because even though you have appointments, they fall through all the time. So, we called one of our investigators and asked him if he was going to for sure, for sure be there when we came, and he said "Yes, I'll be there...I promise I'll be there...and if I'm not, my brother will be. But, I'll be there, I swear." Um. He wasn't there. But, as he said, his brother was there, so instead we decided to teach his brother, Yan Paul (pronounced like John Paul). Halfway through teaching Yan Paul (well, more at the end, because we were talking about the Book of Mormon), another brother appeared, whose name is Angel (this is a very popular name in the Latin world). Angel was very interested in what we were saying, and so we started to answer his questions and committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It was very exciting because He had a lot of questions; Good, good, questions that showed he was interested, and then when he understood something, he would kind of re-state it, and this is awesome because we could understand his progress well. Cristofer did eventually arrive (the original brother) but didn't seem to have any interest.

The exciting update on this story is that we returned to teach Angel this week with a member, and he was still really interested with a lot of questions and he seemed to understand what we were teaching him. The cool this about Angel is that he is really transparent, in a good way. Meaning that if he doesn't understand something, we know. If he has a doubt, he says it, which makes teaching him a lot more straight forward. He is frank and straight-up with us, which I wish all investigators were like that, because it makes it so much easier to adapt the lesson to their needs in the moment. We are going to go back and visit him this week (hopefully) and see how he is doing. I'm excited.

Other investigator stories. We met a lady name Yonoris (pronounced like Jo-NO-rees) who has a young baby. We were knocking doors and she said she was really busy with the baby. She had to bather her and feed her. We get this all the time "I'm too busy - well, you know. We should always make time for 'the word,' but right now I just don't have the time." But, the exciting thing about Yonoris is just as she was saying she was really busy, she said "But, if you could come back in a hour or two, I can attend to you." What?! It was realy kind of exciting. So, we finished knocking her street, went to pick up a member and had a lesson with her. I thought the lesson was really good, and I'm excited to see how she progresses. I'm always excited to teach people who have children, because when the accept the gospel, the gospel can have a greater effect over-all for a longer period of time, if they teach their children correctly.

The last exciting investigator story is that we had a district meeting last Tuesday and we had planned to eat lunch after wards, but for some reason neither of us felt like eating (which is weird...haha). So instead, we went to knock doors for an hour nearby to an appointment we had. We parked on the street and then went to the head of the street to start. We knocked about five houses with no interest, and then the 6th house a 13 year-old girl, Genesis let us in. She was really interested in our message and she understood it. She understood the importance of authority and all that, and it was really fun to teach her. When we finished, we left the house and had to get to our next appointment quickly, and our car was parked right outside her home, as though we had come to that street to teach her. It was exciting. We went back and talked to her mom on Sunday and she said she is okay with us coming by and teaching her and her daughter, so we're excited to have another potential-family. Yay!

So, we have done a lot of knocking, but there is an abnormally high number of funny stories lately. One of my favorites is that we knocked a house from which I highly suspected Barbie herself might emerge. It was Barbie pink and white and big. it's own way. We plan on returning and taking a picture someday. Another story is that we met a white dog with pink toe-nails. I am sad to say that it was not outside the Barbie house, because that would just be too perfect, but all the same it was hilarious/a little sad.

Someone yelled at us from inside their house this week "¡No hay nadie! ¡Se mudaron!" Which means, "There's noone here; they moved! Haha. It was one of those moments where you just have to laugh. We were like "What?!?" Haha.

Ooo. Last funny story. This is one of my favorites; probably one of the funniest things that has happened while I've been here. We were menos-activo hunting the other day, which is when you search for people that are on the list, but who you have never met. We met a lot of menos-activos this week that were no longer interested in the church, which is always sad, but at least they said it to our faces that they didn't want anything to do with it. Another lady found another way of "indirectly" letting us know. We like to park a few houses away so we can sneak up on them and they can't prepare to hide while we're getting out of the car. We walked up to Ana's house and we actually saw her from a distance in the garage, typing something. We yelled "¡Buenas Noches!," as is our custom. I knew she was there, so I looked down at my planner for 10 seconds to find her last name. My companion says "What?!" (Which is always funny, since she doesn't speak English but sometimes says what?! when things are especially shocking/puzzling). I look up and see that Ana has somehow managed to escape, but we can't figure out how, because we heard nothing. No doors are open, nothering. There is no escape route. We were standing behind the car and I go over to the other side to peek in "Where is she? Is she hiding under the table?" I can't believe my eyes when I see it, but I can see her lying prostrate on the ground under the table, with her hands at her side. I don't know why she doesn't want the church anymore, but there has got to be a better way to escape us than this. You can yell at us; we get it all the time, but I guess she just wanted to avoid conflict. I don't know. It just cracked us up. I will always remember that story.

Well, time is up and I have to go. As I said, yesterday was a zone conference, so I got my mail, and wow! I got a ton! Thanks so much for your love and support; all the short notes really boost me up a ton! I love you all, keep up doing all the great things you are doing!

Hermana Miller

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is enjoying the winter weather. Down here we experienced some winter weather this week; it rained all day two days this week and that means temperatures were hovering down around a frigid 75. A lot of people we visited said that it was very cold outside. Haha.

A lot of exciting things happened this week. So many, in fact I don't know that I'll be able to share them all in the limited time that I have! To start out with, we had a district meeting on Tuesday morning. A district meeting is when you go to a chapel in your area and meet with about 8 or 10 other missionaries in your area to talk about what you're doing and to practice and to learn more. They are pretty cool. We had driven to this other chapel, Levittown, before, but we didn't know how to get there, because the other time we were following Elders and forgot to take notes on how to arrive. The day before we had talked to an Elder who gave us directions, but they were really bad directions, like "Turn left at the Walgreens and then turn right at the intersection that has a school in the upper right corner (what?!)". There are tons of Walgreens here (seriously, they're like taking over the island!) and of course, tons of schools too. So basically, we got lost. The exciting thing is that we knew we were lost when we accidently ran into the ocean! It was so exciting! My first view of the Atlantic Ocean from here in Puerto Rico! It was awesome. If any one would like to know the area where I saw the ocean, you can probably look online. It was at the Northern tip of the highway 167. It wasn't a beach, it was just rocks and water. Mi compañera said that the water looked really dirty, but I thought it was cool. I'm excited to go to the beach on a zone activity some day (we can do that here! Yay!). It was pretty awesome. Eventually, we arrived at the district meeting (after getting lost two more times. Once in a field with horses and once in a chinese restaurant).

Later that day we went to the Doctor because my foot was very unhappy (remember the fire ants from last week?). We left the doctor and had two medications to pick up at Walgreens and orders to not walk so much. So, we only got to knock doors three days this week. The other days were rainy, so it wasn't such a tragedy. But, our numbers seriously suffered. It exchange for knocking doors we did a lot more member visits and menos-activo hunting. It was fun. My feet are now practically better. I would send fotos, but it really is quite unpleasent.

On Thursday we have planning, so we decided to take the car to Toyota so they could do an estimate on it (the missionary couple in charge of cars and housing told us a couple weeks ago that it needed to be checked and we went on Monday and said we would have to come back another day and leave it the entire day). They told us to come back and pick it up any time in the afternoon, before 6pm. We told them we'd come at 5 or 5:15. We were in an appointment when they started call us. They called like, 5 times, but we couldn't answer, because we were in an appointment. So, when we left, we rushed over to Toyota (the member who was driving turned on her crazy Puerto-Rican mode, she said. haha) and when we arrived at 4:50 they had already closed. Apparently they were calling us a ton because they were closing early because it was New Year's Eve, but they forgot. Argh! So, we were without a car on New Year's day. Wow. A car in missionary work is really a wonderful blessing; it was a lot more difficult without a car (especially considering we don't live in our area). But, the car is back now and everything is good.

The appointment we were in when Toyota called was a really exciting appointment because Carlos, who we were visiting read. This is exciting because it means that now we have a progressing investigator, which is great. Not only did he read, but he also marked verses that he liked in the chapter, which was cool! I am really excited to teach Carlos because he has a family with 4 little girls. We have not taught the Mother yet, but we will (I hope). We thought we had lost them because the Elders taught them before we came, and we couldn't get a hold of them and when we visited once the wife didn't seem interested and even angry, but we visited again and she was ok and we were given an appointment, and they were there when we came. Yay! I'm really excited to teach Carlos because he had a lot of questions about what he had read and seemed interested in what we were teaching.

On New Year's Eve every one had to be in their apartment at 6pm, but we got special permission to be in a member's house instead because they live really close to us. The family is a mom and a daughter that just got baptized 5 years ago and the daughter just returned from serving a mission in Arizona 5 months ago (so cool! A product of missionary work doing missionary work!). We went and my companion taught us how to make pupusas, a traditional food of El Salvador. It was awesome! Really fun and also really tasty. Sarah and Jessica (the mom and the daughter) are really awesome, and it was a fun evening.

One New Year's day we were without a car, but a member picked us up to bring her to her house to make tamales, also traditional of El Salvador. It was so cool! We went to her backyard and got bannana leaves to wrap the tamales in and then made the tamales. It was a lot of fun and actually didn't take as much time as I thought it would take.

As I said, we only knocked doors three times this week. But the cool thing is, that every time we knocked we taught a first lesson and got new investigators. Wow! I love it when people let us in while we're knocking because it is always so unexpected. Even though that is what we want, it happens so rarely that it always takes me a little off guard when someone is kind enough to open their home to us and allow us to share a message with them.

We met Victoria, Arimenda, and Elba, all while knocking doors. I am really excited to return and teach them more. Elba was especially cool. We were knocking yesterday in the morning because our meeting time got changed from 9am to 1pm because two wards meet in our building. There were not a lot of people up yet, but Elba and her son, Armando let us in and we taught them the first lesson. It was cool because she liked the message, and Armando was answering questions and he even prayed at the end (he is only 10 years old). It was a good lesson and I'm excited to return and teach them more.

Last night we were menos-activo hunting close to our house and we found out that the people we were looking for had already moved. However, the man who had moved into the home said that he was interested in the message that we were sharing, but why had we come so late? Haha. We took his name and (since we were in the Elder's area) told him that the "muchachos" would come by sometime to talk to him more. I love it when the Lord leads us to people like that. We thought we were in the area to teach one person, but we found someone else to teach.

Today when we got to the library, there is a check-in desk, where everyone has to sign-in. There is usually a lady there who doesn't like people, but today there was a new one and she asked us if we were the Mormons. We said yes and she said she had a The Book of Smith, and so we started talking and she seemed interested in learning more, because she had originally listened to the message in 1995, but she lives in Levittown. So, we told her that those Elders were coming too to the library and she said she was going to talk to them. :) Sometimes you just have to smile.

I've got to go, but I love you! Keep being great examples and member missionaries!

Hermana Miller

ps. I just found out that Elder Bednar is coming on January 23 to talk to our mission! CooL! I'm really excited. :)