So, this week (as you know) was transfer week, and I stayed in our area and got a new companion. My new companion, Hermana Reid was coming in from Aruba. She has been working in Curacao and Aruba for 6 months and long story short, due to circumstances that were out of their control, they missed their flight twice, which means I was in an unplanned exchange for 2 days with my old companion and her new companion. It was fun, and easy because (for various reasons) we slept in our apartment, so I didn't even have to pack. It was cool to work in another area for two days and see what missionary work is like in another area. It was also a blessing too, because it made the transition from my original companion to the new one a little softer and easier.

We were tocing doors over in Bayamon and there was a dog that was following us. He was so cute! There are a lot of stray dogs here and it isn't the first time a dog has followed us around, but he was especially cute. He reminded me of Aki, escept his tail wasn't docked. When he met us he was just so happy and his tail was wagging so much that the entire lower half of his body was going with it. I loved it. We were doing a circle around a neighborhood and he started following us right at the beginning of our ring. He would just follow us and then patiently wait for us as we talked to people and lay down in the grass or go and play in another yard, and then when we were done he would come back and follow us again. It was just so cute. I called him Chico. And the really exciting thing is that he started responding to it by the end of the night. When we walked by his house again, he walked inside as if it was perfectly normal to follow three missionaries around the neighborhood. That is probably the most exciting thing that happened on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll never forget Chico. :)

So, I worked in the Bayamon ward for 2 days and it was really great. The bummer thing this that we had to cancel everything in our area, but as usual, no one answered their phone, so we just didn't show up at the appointments, and that also means we have no return appointments. Ahh! It is kind of crazy how fast an area can fall when you aren't working for two days. Because we didn't do any contacting here for 2 days either (planned or otherwise), which means we didn't have a lot of appointments for the rest of the week. But, we're picking ourselves back up again and working hard.

Hermana Reid finally arrived on Thursday night (she was supposed to be here on Wednesday morning), and so I worked all day Wednesday and Thursday with the Bayamon sisters and then we went to do the switch-off on Friday morning.

Like I said, I really like Hermana Reid, and I think we're going to get along really well (knock on wood). She is kind of like a mix between me and my CCM companion, and so naturally she is pretty cool. :) We have a very similar teaching style and also similar beliefs on other aspects of mission culture, including how to contact and how to tell if people are interested and when to let go. I'm going to learn a lot from her, because I already have. She is really cool and has been out for about 9 months.

I don't have a lot of exciting investigator news except that Joshua is still progressing and doing so well. I think his story is interesting for 2 reasons:

1. He was a member referal and he is being taught in the member's home. I have really realized how critical members are in missionary work. Joshua has that support and it is so important for his progression to have Hna. R there to help him as he learns more and prepares to make covenants with the Lord. Give the missionaries referals, because it is the most effective kind of missionary work!

2. He is young and therefore naturally humble. I feel like since he is a student he is already humble because he is in a situation everyday where he is being taught by others and he realizes everyday that he has so much to learn. I think a lot of adults forget what it is like to have a teacher, or someone who is trying to guide them to knowledge they need. He is so thirsty for knowledge and he has great questions and doesn't feel stupid asking questions. He realizes he has a lot to learn and is comfortable in that situation, whereas a lot of adults haven't been in that situation for a long time and so they are uncomfortable in the situation that kind of compels them into humility. Especially when it is young people that are teaching you. Anyways. I thought those two things about him were interesting.

We taught him a lesson this week (Hermana Reid and I) and she is really excited about him to, because she could see the excitment that he has and his interest in the gospel. I'm excited for him to. He came to church yesterday, which is great. Three weeks in a row. :) Happy, happy, happy.

So, something that happens here every now and then is a water outage. Yeah. It's like a power outage, but with water, which I'm sure happens in the states, I've just never experienced it in the states. We've already had like 2 or 3 here in Bayamon in the time I've been here, but they are usually a couple hours, or the longest was one day. Well, the water went out on Saturday and according to word on the street (literally...random people we meet and invite to learn about the gosple tell us these things) the water will not return until Tuesday at 6pm. It is really interesting because nobody even seems phased about it. I've always taken running water for granted, but I never will again. We have a ton of water stored in our apartment, but we mostly have to use it for the toilet. We have filters so we can drink it, it is just really weird.

So, we called Hermana Martineau last night to ask if we could just come over and shower, because we hadn't showered since Friday morning and although everyone else was in the same situation, we thought a shower would be nice and maybe even beneficial for the work. She invited us to spend the night, because she is so cool. I love staying in the mission home, because it feels like a home, whereas our apartment is nice, but it just feels like a dwelling. The room we stayed in upstairs actually had carpet, and I haven't seen carpet since I got to Puerto Rico, because everyone's house is just all tiles here. It was so nice! Just a special treat. So, we still don't have water at home, but we're getting by with a little help from the love of our leaders. They're awesome.

That is about it that happened this week. I hope everything is going great back at home and in school, and all that good stuff. I'm sad I didn't make it to the cousin party, but I'm sure it was fun, even without me.

Love,Hermana Miller

ps. So, I'm still getting letters from the DR every now and then, and I randomly got one delivered this week from a new elder, who was delivering it from the CCM President's wife saying that a box of cookies arrived but that they were unfit to be eaten. Haha. The letter enclosed with the cookies says they were sent the day after I left Provo. That was like, 4 months ago! I guess the system is not completely untrustworthy, just a little slow. Haha. Thanks for the thought.

Dear family,

The exciting news this week is that we set a baptisimal date with Joshua, our investigator who came to church last week! He got an answer. He is really excited about what he is learning and when he came to church on Sunday (yay! He came again!) he even talked about his baptisimal date with us, which is good, because it means he remembers that he set it and that it is important. I'm so excited for him because his member friend and he have a really special relationship. He calls her abuela and it is really sweet. We were really excited he came on Sunday, because he told us this week that he might not be able to come because it was his anniversary with "the novia" (his girlfriend. haha. He is 14 years old. But, it was cute), so I guess he decided church was important enough to put off the celebrations for 3 hours. So, everything is going really great there and we're all really excited for him.

Other missionary news: it is transfers this week! I've already been in Puerto Rico for 12 weeks. Can you believe it? CRAZY! So, the news for transfers is that one of us is staying and one of us is going. I am staying in Bayamon and Hermana Lopez is going. We're not sure where yet, but we'll find out tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow is the switch and I don't know who my new companion is going to be. I don't want her to go! We finally have this rhythym going where we just work well together. We have a routine and we have been having a lot of success these last couple weeks. But, I guess that is why it is time to switch things up. I don't think they want a routine or for any one to get complacent. I sure am going to miss her though. She is always happy! And she works really well with people. She can teach really well too, so it is going to be a difficult adjustment. But, my new companion is going to be great too.

We had some exciting experiences this week. We had an exchange last Monday, as I told you, and I went to Toa Baja. We had a few hours before the end of P-day, so we went to a beach in Dorado and it was b-e-a-utiful! I loved it. As soon as you got out of the car you could smell and taste salt and it was a little local beach; there weren't tourists there, it was all locals and just really sweet. I'll include a photo or two.

Also, before the exchange, we went to a member's home and ate coconut from a tree in her front yard. There are a lot of coconut trees here, and she picked some for us because Hermana Lopez told her she loved them. First after picking it, you cut a little hole in the top and drink the coco water with a straw. And then you take a machete and break it open and eat the meat with a spoon. I couldn't break mine open (it is really hard!), but Hermana Lopez and Hermana Leticia had my back and took care of it for me. It tastes a lot different than the dried, processed coco and is actually pretty tasty.

While we were knocking doors this week we picked some fruit called "Pluma Rojo." It looks like a pink pear and smells like flowers. When we brought them home to try them, we were disappointed to find that they weren't ripe, but they were still tasty.

One day we dressed in pink and went to toc doors near the Barbie house and snapped a few pictures too while we were near. They turned out pretty well, and it was fun.

You know that Pixar short where there is a guy playing chess against himself? It is pretty cute little film, right? Well, we met that guy this week. He lives here, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. Seriously. We met this old guy that looks exactly like the animated character in that short. It was pretty exciting.

We are finally having a little bit of success in our area. we have kind of had investigators who are mas o menos, you know...not that great. But we found a lot of good people this week. First of all, Joshua is awesome. Another contact, Maria lives in this barrio we recently discovered and she was really excited when she figured out that Santos de los Ultimos Dias are the same as Latter-day Saints. She was really excited to have us come and teach her about the church, because I guess she has a lot of friends in Florida that are members. We haven't taught her yet, but we're planning on stopping by later this week.

Also, we met a guy painting on the day we took pictures of the Barbie house. His name is Rudy and he seemed pretty interested, because he stopped painting and came down stairs to talk to us. Usually people are just like "I'm working. Come back another day.", but he came down to talk to us. We left an appointment and when we called him to remind him of the appointment, he said he wasn't going to be able to because he wasn't home, but we could come later that day. So, we stopped by later twice and he wasn't there, so we assumed he wasn't interested. Then he called us on SUnday and asked us why we hadn't come by. Contacts NEVER call us, so I was kind of excited when he called. We asked if we could come by now, and he said yes. So, we went and picked up a member and stopped by and taught him the Restoration. He seemed really interested and has already invited his neighbor and his sister to listen. His whole family (wife and 4 kids) still live in the DR, but he has lived her for 4 years and like I said, seems really interested. His roommate was there listening, and when we took out the Restoration pamphelt, he said "I have one of those!" and he went and got it. Later in the lesson when we were talking about the Book of Mormon, he finally made the connection that we are "mormons" and told us that his neighbor in the DR was a member. His neighbor in the DR is a member of our ward, and I guess he has attended church a couple times with him. It was just kind of random and exciting. They are now both new investigators, and we're excited to help them progress.

Lastly, Carolina. We met her a week or two ago and gave her a short lesson. We stopped by again this week really quick and set an appointment for yesterday. When we got to her house, she wasn't there, so we called her and she said she was at a friend's house. And then she gave us directions to the friend's house so that we could come over there and teach her. Which was a big surprise for us. Normally if people aren't home and we call them, they just say "come back another day. Whenever you're in the neighborhood; I'm always at home." and then we lose contact and never see them again, because they aren't ever home. But she says she has received an answer too, and we're excited for her. We still have to get her to church, which may be difficult because she doesn't have transport, but she says she has friends that might be able to help her. She is a single mom and studies, and her kid is really cute. I guess he has always wanted to go to church, and she really wants him to have church, but she just hasn't been able to find one that feels right. So we have to get her to church so she can see how great it is. We told her about primary and she is really excited for Christian (her son) to go and learn about God and Jesus.

These are just a few of the really great experiences we've had this week. It feels like finally after weeks of hard work, it is finally paying off and we are starting to see results.

Thanks so much for your love and support.

Hermana Miller

Dear Family and friends,

This week was a great week. First of all, one of our investigators came to church, which is so great! I was so happy to see him there. His name is Joshua and he is a referal from a member. The member is this older woman who baptized 11 years ago and her entire family too. It is really cool actually, she was a referal from another family member, and then she went on to refer more family members. It is just a happy missionary success story. Anyway. We went to visit her last week with the intent for asking for referals, and miracle of miracles, she actually gave us one. Well, not one, but two! She lives in the Residencial, which is like government sponsored housing, and a ton of the kids that live there too go and visit her all the time because their parents are not at home a lot. So she has these two friends, Leonal (age 15) and Joshua (age 14) that she is determined to send on missions. She gave us their names and we were going to contact them. But before we were back in the area to contact them, we called her for another reason and she informed us that she had set up an appointment for the first lesson in her house. Awesome! It was just so exciting. So we taught them, and they were so good. They were really receptive to the message and seemed to really understand it too. We invited them to church, of course, and Joshua was there yesterday, which was just so exciting. It is the first time an investigator has come to church, so I was very happy.

In other investigator news, Genesis is progressing nicely. She is our 13-year-old investigator. She is reading the Book of Mormon and gaining a testimony. She says that she reads the Book of Mormon with her mom in the car, which is really exciting to hear. We still haven't taught her mother, but we plan to eventually. She works in a pharmacy and so she has a crazy schedule. This week we planned on seeing her, but apparently there was a robbery at the pharmacy or something, so she had to work. We have kind of been waiting around to go on to the second lesson until we can do the first lesson with her mother, but we have decided it is time to move on, because we don't want to bore Genesis with the same lesson every time we pass. She is definitely ready for lesson 2. She understands the restoration of the Gospel and it is awesome. The only problem is that she hasn't come to church yet, but we're working on that. She doesn't really have a lot of control over that because she is only 13 and can't drive, but we're working on it.

We got a referal this week for Adrian...the guy that we taught on Christmas day. Apparently he called in to receive the Joy to the World DVD. I felt so bad because he called in on 26 Dec. to receive it and we just got notice this week. He told us that he thought they had gotten the address wrong because the guy who answered the phone was like "What? What?," like he couldn't understand him. Which, quite frankly, is quite probable (that the guy who answered the phone didn't understand him), seeing as those calls go to the MTC and missionaries learning Spanish answer them. Haha. Then you throw the Puerto Rican accent in there, and it is just hopeless. But, we made it to him again and we watched "Finding Faith in Christ." It was good. He liked it too, and just as we were leaving, another one of his daughter's arrived and said she was interested. Unfortunately, she and her husband don't live in our area, but we're giving their referal to the sisters in the area next door to us.

Also, this week we went to the playa! It was awesome! (See attached photos...:) ). We went to the beach in Levittown, which is where we saw the ocean the other time when we got lost. It was so pretty! It was a windy/rainy-ish day, so the water was apparently not as blue as it usually is, but compared to Lake Erie, it was quite lovely. First we went to this rocky area where there was a sign warning us of possible tsunamis and took some pictures. I will try to attach some good ones. We tried to do some jumping pictures, but the timing was difficult. Then, we went to a sandy area and collected seashells and took pictures. It was just a lovely afternoon. Apparently there is a zone activity today, going to the beach in Dorado (which is where Ricky Martin lives, by-the-way), so we might go there too. We're not sure though because we're doing another exchange today. I will be working in Toa Baja tonight, which is right next door to Caparra.

I had exciting food adventures this week too. We were in the Grocer's last monday and I saw these little hairy ball things, and so naturally, I point them out and act disgusted. Hermana Lopez gets all excited and buys about 12 of them and insists that I will try them. They are called Rambutans or (in El Salvador) Mamoncillos Peludos. The Peludos part is there because it means there is a lot of hair on them. So, what you do is break open the skin with your nail and out pops this slimey thing that looks like an eye-ball. Seriously. It looks really gross, but it tastes really good. It tastes kind of like a grape, but sweeter. And you know how I like sweet. So, it turned out the nasty fruit turned out to be delicious. I hope they sell them in the US so I can show you all one day.

Also, we went to a member's house to paint and she showed us her backyard. It is like a jungle. There is this huge mango tree and a ton of palms and lots of tropical fruit. She has caƱa too, which is sugar cane. Hermana Lopez got really excited when she saw this too, so we got to try it. First you have to cut it into a smaller piece (it comes in 6 or 7 foot poles) and then you have to skin it. All this is done with a machete (sp?). It was kind of cool to see this sweet little sister using a machete. Anyway, then you can eat it like a big peppermint stick or cut it into smaller pieces, like celery sticks. You chew it and suck it and then you spit it out. Surprisingly, it is not that sweet. It is still pretty tasty though.

That is about all the time I have this week. I look forward to trying more exciting foods and seeing more beaches and inviting more investigators to Sacrament meeting. :)

Hermana Miller

Dear family,

This week was a very exciting week! An exciting announcement, an exciting "first," and some exciting investigator stories.

First of all, as for the subject line, breaking up is hard. And sad. You all know it. It's not fun, and you feel sad and even a little empty afterwards. But, it is even worse when you have something that you know the other person needs, and you even want to give it to them, but they just aren't motivated enough to go and get it.

We had to "break up" with an investigator this week. We've done it before, but he looked so sad when we were talking to him and wouldn't look us in the eyes afterwards. He is the investigator that is really interested in the gospel and has a lot of questions, but he wasn't keeping any of his commitments and just wasn't showing us that he wanted the gospel. So, it was sad because we know we can help him in his life, but if he isn't willing to make an effort, we can only do so much and then he needs to take over and show a little initiative. We said he could call us any time he was ready to read and pray, so I really hope he realizes soon that we want to help him and that we can help him. We'll see.

In other news, the exciting announcement has to do with the Puerto Rico Missions. In June, the two mission presidents and their wives are completing their missions, and there will be changes in the missions of Puerto Rico at this time. They will join into one and there will just be the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission, instead of East and West. It is exciting because now we have the opportunity to see the east of Puerto Rico as well. We are losing Aruba, Bonaire Curacao and Barbados to other missions, but we are keeping the US Virgin Islands. It is all very exciting.

My "first" this week was an exchange! It was really cool. An exchange is when you go and work with another missionary in the mission for a day or two. I worked with Hna. Venegas who is about to go home (mid-february she finishes). It was a very eye-opening experience, because missionary work is completely different when your companion changes. Both she and Hna. Lopez are great missionaries, but they work very differently. I didn't realize that things would change so drastically with a new companion, but they did. It was a cool experience and I really enjoyed it (and learned a lot too).

In Investigator news...Genesis received an answer. She knows that the Book of Mormon is true. It was so exciting! She still hasn't come to church, but we'll see if she can make it next week. We watched The Restauracion video with her this week and she really liked it. We have talked to her mother, but she is never there when we pass by to teach her. But Genesis said that she is interested, so we left the Restauration video for a her mother to watch. We called back a couple days later to confirm another appointment and she told us her mom had watched the movie 3 times. What!?! We were so surprised and excited. She said it was "a beautiful movie and we like to watch it together." She also said she has told her a little bit about our message and the Book of Mormon. I am very excited for them. We have an appointment for later today, so I hope they are there and we can teach the mother and the daughter together. Yay!

Also, we were knocking doors the other day and a woman let us come in and teach her something. She has a 4-year-old son and she said that she wants him to learn about God and Jesus Christ and have them as a part of his life. We left a Book of Mormon and invited her to church, told her about Primary, where her son can learn all about Jesus Christ and his gospel. She couldn't make it to church because (like most of our investigators) she doesn't have transportation, but when we called her on Saturday to remind her about church, she said she has already read in the Book of Mormon and she likes what she read. This is also exciting because, even though every one says they will (because we don't leave a book unless they commit to read it), hardly anyone actually reads it, because they're so busy ... .

As far as our other investigators. Orlando is apparently actually called Rolando (people have really difficult accents here). We went by for a surprise visit on Saturday night to invite them to church, but we didn't go in because they were having what appeared to be a "culto" on their roof. It is when there is like a church meeting thing outside of church or something. I'm not really sure what it is, but he was having people over for religious reasons from another church, so we're thinkin' he's a no. We're going to stop by again, of course, to talk to them, but seeing as they weren't answering their phone, and then we see this, I'm thinking they are finding quench for their spiritual thirst elsewhere. This is sad, because we know the gospel is true and can help them, they just aren't willing to read and find out for themselves, nor make the effort to get to church to feel the spirit there.

Have I ever mentioned how beautiful Puerto Rico is? Because it is beautiful. There are a lot of beautiful plants and flowers, and contrary to what you may think, it isn't all sun all the time. There are lots of cloudy and over-cast days (but also a lot of all-sun days too). One thing about the sun here though, is that is strong. The sun just pounds and pounds. It is totally different here than in other locales. It rains every once in a while. It is so beautiful though. There are mountains in the distance, but they aren't the pile-of-dirt mountains like you see in Utah. No. These are beautiful mountains. Not as tall as in Utah, but lush, green mountains. And sometimes you're just driving along, and all-of-a-sudden you get this beautiful vista. It is amazing, but it is so beautiful that a camera just can't capture it. At least not mine. We have tried many times, but we are never satisfied with the results. Puerto Rico, although lacking some important aspects of climate (such as snow and cold) is possibly one of the most beautiful areas I have witnessed. Haha. That is not saying much, considering my extrememly limited world experience, but you know. It is beautiful, is all I'm saying.

And today...we're going to the beach! Woohoo! I'm so excited. One of the members is taking us to the beach in Levittown. She is a recently returned missionary (like 5 or 6 months) and also, a fairly recent convert (like 5 or 6 years). She is really awesome and she is introducing me to my first Puerto Rican beach. I can't wait, because I haven't been to the Ocean since before graduating High School. Yay!

I feel like this letter is quite dis-jointed, but know that I am not...dis-jointed, that is. I am doing great and really enjoying Puerto Rico. I think I am just a little excited for our trip to the Playa. I like the word playa better than the word beach. It just sounds more fun.

I love you!

Hermana Miller