Wow! I loved your e-mail this week! I am really excited about all the wonderful things that are happening with the family. Congratulations to Alyse! That is great news that she got home safely! You all look so happy in the pictures! :) Also, congratulations to Craig and Amanda! I loved those pictures too. So cute!

This week has also been an exciting one for me. I got a new companion on Wednesday! Her name is Hermana Thomas (see photo). She is from California. She is the youngest of 8 children, and her parents are serving a mission right now in Texas. She is almost done with her mission; she is going home in September. She is really cool and I can tell we're going to do some great things in Utuado together. She kind of reminds me of my roommate Lauren from the Elms.... Many years ago.

We've already found some new investigators together. One of them is Shirley. We (Hermana REyes and I) had actually already met Shirley because we used to teach her father, Noel, and she popped in and out once. But, we knocked her door this week and she said, "Well, I'm cooking right now, but tell me about your message." !! It was cool, because she seemed to understand the message of the restoration and then when we left her a Book of Mormon, she asked us when we were going to come back to answer the questions she would have after reading it. Oh, I love it when people say that, because it tells us they actually plan on reading it, and it also tells us they want us to come and continue sharing the message with them. She is a young 20-something, which is also fun, because she's our age. I like teaching young people, because you know that when they decide to accept the gospel that they'll be able to affect a lot of other people for good (such as their children). That was a great first lesson we had this week.

We also had a first lesson with Shaira. She lives in the Boo-nies, but she let us in right away and wanted to hear more about our message. We shared it with her, and after we taught a principle, she would say something like, "So, you're saying...." and then would summarize what we just taught. She understood the lesson and committed to read in the Book of Mormon too. She said that she felt "curiosity" towards our message. I didn't used to like it when people said that, but now I realize that that is the spirit helping people receive the message that we are bringing them. It was a good lesson and we look forward to coming back to share more with her.

Those are our two exciting first lessons this week. We also continue volunteering at the summer camp. Evelyn, the lady who gave us her contact info. from the summer camp let us set a cita with her...but not until July 10. Which is a little ridiculous, but still a cita. And she gave her info to us without us asking, so we're still excited for her. And (in other exciting news from the summer camp), one of the parents came to church yesterday! The lady in charge of the summer camp is the wife of the Branch President and she invited him to church. He said he would come, but then she remembered that we had District Conference in Arecibo (like stake conference). They went to the church building on Sunday morning and he was there waiting to go in, and he came all the way to Arecibo to attend church there. It was really cool! I was really surprised when we saw him there, because they told us someone new was coming to church, but we didn't think he would come all the way up to Arecibo. But, he also gave us his contact information yesterday. It is exciting to see the work moving forward a bit, after weeks of hard work and obedience.

Funny story of the week? We were going to visit a member on Saturday and she lives at the top of a mountain and you literally have to hike to her house (I'll include a photo...I'm not joking here). On the way up, we ran into the son and nephew of a less-active member and we chatted for a bit. I asked the nephew if he liked his new house (because they had just moved). He looked at me and said, "I don't speak English." I kind of laughed a little bit and then asked him again, and he got this frustrated look and said, "It's just that I don't understand English! Speak to me in Spanish!" Haha. It cracked us up. He finally understood what I was saying and replied that he did in fact, like his new house.

I am still reading the Book of Mormon. I like the really powerful phrases that stick out when you're reading it fast. Some of the phrases I loved that I read this morning were "...wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security."; "...been a weak place, had now by the means of Moroni, become strong..."; "...they went out of the world rejoicing..."; and "...true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ." I am reading the war chapters and really love them (this morning I read Alma 46-49). It's not that I love death and bloodshed, I just feel like they are so applicable to us in our times. It is so apparent who is good and who is bad and it is easy to apply tactics of the good people to our lives, in order to combat the bad forces in our lives. I really love the Book of Mormon. I just love it.

This Wednesday we had a transfer meeting, and it was an interesting day because it was the last meeting the Martineau's had with the entire mission. I think they are leaving Puerto Rico today or tomorrow. It is really weird to think of being a missionary without them, but we're also really excited for the new mission president and his family. The Martineau's had some really nice talks and they taught us a lot of last-minute things. Hermana Martineau gave us "motherly advice" that I really liked. I'll just summarize here. Remember that... (she started with each one):

1. There are two kinds of pain; the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.
2. There are lots of distractions in life, and a distraction doesn't need to be evil to be effective.
3. "Not shrinking is more important than survival." Neal A. Maxwell.
4. With God we can do anything. He will magnify our righteous actions and provide us with endless energy (Hermana Martineau is full of energy).
5. The Lord makes us promises and then fulfills them through the people around us.

Oh. I loved it. I learned so much from her advice and what she had to say about each one. President Martineau also shared with us advice he gives to every returning missionary. On how to keep the spirit in our lives daily, with the goal of receiving revelation daily. That is something he has really been focusing on lately (the purpose of life is receiving personal revelation that changes you), and he said that the most important lesson he learned while serving here (and also the most important thing we can learn in this life) is to follow the promptings of the spirit.

1. Pray daily. And always be praying for others, because that means you are still a missionary; still helping others find the path to our Heavenly Father.
2. Study the scriptures for one hour daily.
3. Write in your journal daily. That one surprised me to be number 3, but it is because it is like your own personal scripture, because you are recording spiritual experiences that will help strengthen you and others in the future. He talked about Nephi and how he kept his journal and you can see the strength he gained from that in 2 Nephi 4. It was cool.
4. Understand and apply the doctrine of the sacrament. Also cool...something we've been talking about a lot lately.
5. Go to the temple as often as possible, because we learn about God's plan for His children there, and we can learn about His personal plan for us.

Wow! I just love them. I can't even explain all the things I learned from them on Wednesday nor in the months that I've been here with them. They are just spiritual giants and wonderful examples for all of us. I'm sorry I didn't really expound on any of the points very much, but we're short on time. I'm just so happy I had the chance to meet them and learn from their example and from their words.

Also, my trainer, Hermana Lopez went home. Which is really weird as well! I remember that we just celebrated her one year birthday in the mission, and she is already at home with her family now. Things are changing! It is something you just have to learn to deal with in the mission, because just when you feel like you're happy and content with where you are and how things run and how you feel, they change it on you. And not necessarily on just happens. People grow old (in the mission) and die (from their missions :) ), and you just have to learn to deal with it. The mission is kind of cool because it is like a microcosm of life. People are born; people grow old, mature and learn and grow; people work hard and "have kids" of their own (train other missionaries), and help them learn and grow; and people die. It is kind of cool, but sad for all of us, at the same time, because we have to stay here after they've left us. Just like in life, some people leave before the rest of their family, and the rest of the family has to stay on earth and keep working. But is it bad to stay and work? No! Is it bad to leave and go home? No! We are just progressing through life, like normal humans, be it through the mission or through "real life." I really like to think of it like that. So, it is sad to see parents die (both trainers (your mission "mom"), mission presidents (your mission parents), and real-life parents), but they are all on to bigger and better things! They've completed their duties here on earth or in the mission and are moving on to continue progressing in this grand plan that Heavenly Father has for all of us.

I love you!

Dear Family,

Love and kisses to all. I love you so much and loved hearing from you this week. It sounds like you're all having buckets of fun, what with babies, cousin visits, housing changes (and renovations), and trips to see the "very touristy Primary children's". I really do love hearing about all your goings-on and look forward to hearing about "your trip across the world" too.

This week in Utuado was a good one (what's new?...I'm a missionary. It is going to be good every week). The wonderful-ness started out on Monday after we did e-mail. We made our way over to the grocery store to go food shopping. You know how I told you it was a small town? Well, it was just more apparent than ever, because we kept running into people we knew in the grocery store. A guy that we had talked to while knocking doors, the lady that owns the restaurant, her husband, a less-active, a little girl at the summer camp we go to, her mom. There were just lots of people we knew, and it was rather exciting. Exciting thing? We invited the mom of the little girl to learn more about the gospel and she didn't seem that interested. However, on Wednesday, she came to get her kid while we were singing with the kids and slipped us her phone number. It was kind of cool. It is exciting to see that little things (singing primary songs with kids in a summer camp) can bring about big things. We still haven't called her, but we hope to stop by this week. Also, in other news from the summer camp, we were knocking doors one day and a lady came out and said that when we called her son was like, "Um. Mom? Our music teachers from Summer Camp are outside." Haha. It cracked me up. He is one of the only kids we know by name, because he isn't so well behaved. :) But, he was so shy with his mom there! It was funny for us, but probably really awkward for him. She wasn't interested either, but it is nice that people can see we help in the community, and a really good way for them to at least listen to see what our message is about. Maybe they had talked to missionaries before, but they never really listened to them. But, when they can see that we are there helping their children, maybe they are more ready to at least listen to what we have to say. I'm excited to call the mom of the little girl to talk to her.

The brother of a recent convert came to church this week, which is really cool. I think they have been inviting him for a while (the recent convert couple), so it is cool he finally came. I am excited to see what he thought. We talked to him during church, and he seemed to be happy, but I want to hear what he really had to say about the experience when we go and visit Jr. and Evelyn this week (the recent converts). He has a young son and a young daughter. He didn't come with the daughter, but his son and the son of another recent convert family really hit it off and were having lots of fun together. That is can be a great influence on their parents to get them to come to church. I like it when members do missionary work! It is the best way to invite people to come unto Christ and to help people accept the message of the restoration.

In district meeting on Tuesday we had a treasure hunt, where the clues were scriptures (District meeting was about searching the scriptures. So, we had to read a scripture and then guess where the next clue was hidden.). Guess who was awesome at it? Me! And you want to know why? All those years growing up of practicing treasure hunts every single birthday. So, it turns out some skills you never thought would be useful do come in handy. It was fun and actually a really good activity.

We taught Carlos this week the Word of Wisdom. He seemed to agree with everything as we were teaching it and seemed to really like the lesson. He was (as always) sharing scriptures from the Bible that he thought were applicable. Scriptures about obedience and blessings and bodies being temples. It was a good lesson. At the end when we committed him to live the Word of Wisdom, he said he's already been living it, "Ever since I found God." Meaning, ever since he changed from his "life on the street" as he puts it, to a life with God in it. It was a good lesson, and cool to see that he wasn't going to have a problem with the Word of Wisdom. We were a little worried about coffee, but he said he doesn't drink coffee. So he's good.

We had a cool contact this week. His name was Felipe. He had lived in New Jersey for a while and was really friendly. When we told him we were mormons, he said, "Oh. There are a lot of you in Lancaster, PA, right?" "" I reply, "I think you have us confused with the Amish." "Oh...You're right." Says he. Yeah. That was funny. And then I had to try to explain what the Amish are to my companion. Haha. Nuns one week and Amish the next. :)

We had a lesson with someone named Salvador (which is Savior in Spanish). He is really cool. We met him while walking around one day and he seemed interested and accepted an appointment. When we finally figured out where he lived, we shared the message of the restoration with him. He liked it. He read the pamphlet that we left him when we first met him on the street. "But only once," he told us. We were pretty excited he had read it. He knows the Bible well and was talking about a lot of prophets from the Bible, which always excites us. He knew what a prophet was (which is not as common as you'd think) and believed that God could call another prophet and reveal new scriptures. It was a great lesson. And then at the end, he offered us water, and came out with cake and ice cream! Yum! Basically, long story short, we are definitely going back. :) But not just for the cake and ice was a good lesson, because lots of times people have really weak answers to your questions, but you could tell that he was actually thinking about the questions and trying to understand the message. I'm excited for him. An interesting thing about him is that his wife died in a fairly tragic accident. He is an older man, and apparently his grandson has some mental problems and

Those are the exciting things going on this week. I know we don't have a lot of exciting missionary missionary stories, but we are still working hard (I promise!), this area is just a lot different than the other one I was in.

Hermana Miller

We had another exchange this week! It was fun. It was Friday and Saturday. We changed on Friday morning and then switched back on Saturday night. It was cool. I stayed in our area with Hermana Henk, and Sister Reyes went to San Sebastian with Hermana Ibanez. They are both from Guatemala, so they had a grand old time. Hermana Ibanez is going home at the end of this transfer (the same time Alyse is coming home...crazy that she's already done!) and Hermana Henk is going home the next transfer, in August. It was cool to work with someone new and especially since it is someone with so much more experience than me. I learned about patience from Hermana Henk. It was also refreshing to work with a new companion, because although I like Hermana Reyes, after working with the same companion for a while you kind of start to fall into a routine, which makes missionary work kind of boring after a while, and not as effective as well. So, it was good to work with Hermana Henk because she gave missionary work a fresh new look. The work part of it ended kind of early though because of a slight car inconvenience. We were going to English class and stopped at home to get some chalk and as we got out of the car, we heard "sssss". The right front tire was flat! Actually, it was just losing air. It wasn't flat yet. But, it was eventually. So, we took the car into the driveway and decided to change the tire. We called the missionary (a senior couple) who is in charge of the cars and told him about it and said we could go and get it fixed. We told him we were going to put the spare on, and he just kind of laughed at us and said good luck. We got the jack out of the back and were just trying to figure out how it worked when out of nowhere appeared a man. He was just walking by and asked if we needed help. So, he ended up changing the took him about 10 minutes and we were on our way. It was a lovely Christian act. I've seldom experienced something like that before...a good Samaritan in our day. It was so refreshing. The experience helped me realize that I've changed. Before if that had happened, I wouldn't have tried to invite him because "He's done enough, I don't want to bother him." But this week, I really wanted to invite him as a thank you for the help he gave us. We tried to, but he was really hard to understand and didn't seem that interested anyway. We know where he lives though (small town) and I hope to stop by and visit/invite him some day. We went to the panaderia afterward, which is where we buy pastries and such (dangerously delicious and cheap...I can't wait to take you to one) and we saw him again. We bought him a pound of bread as a thank-you (a pound of bread is like a loaf of french bread). I felt like it was kind of a pathetic gesture, but that's what we could do right then. First flat tire, one of my first good Samaritan experiences, trip to the panaderia :) it was kind of an exciting day.

Hermana Reyes had a good time on the exchange too. She talked a lot to Hermana Ibanez about Lajas...a really small area that struggled a lot like Utuado is struggling right now. They recently closed the area to missionaries and closed the branch down there. So, Hermana Reyes wanted to talk to Hermana Ibanez and pick her brain about what we can do to better help the area where we are serving right now, which definitely has some similarities to Lajas. I think she got some good ideas, and we're going to continue to try to make the branch stronger.

So. I don't think any one is taking the BoM (.com) challenge quite as seriously as I am (all are invited to participate), but I sure have had fun with it. I read in 2 Nephi this week and found it interesting. One of the most difficult things for people to accept in the Book of Mormon. We had two memorable contacts this week who just couldn't accept the Book of Mormon and so just couldn't accept the message. Hermana Henk and I talked to a guy, Ramon who was really cool. He knew all about the 12 tribes of Israel and all that good stuff and really understood it. I thought it was interesting when he said the Ephraim was going to gather the house of Israel. He even knew how to listen, which is actually a skill that very few people possess. He could have been so prepared, but he just couldn't accept the Book of Mormon. I wanted to leave him a copy so bad, but he just couldn't. We tried to spark his interest by telling him that it was a story of a branch of the tribe of Joseph, but nope. I really wanted him to read in 2 Nephi. Another guy, who was really prepared just couldn't accept it either. He was great, because he was very humble, stating his opinion, but also admitting that it could be wrong. We tried to leave him a copy of the book of Mormon too, but he didn't accept it. Second Nephi is really cool because of all the prophecies in it. I like how he talks a lot about the latter-days and the restoration, and (as part of that) The Book of Mormon. I especially like 2 Nephi 29:7-10. I don't know why people limit God by refusing to accept that He would write more. One of the problems (here at least) is that people don't understand the word gospel (I finally realized that last week when we were talking to Octavio). People are always quoting Galatians 1:8-9 to us, claiming the we are preaching another gospel. But we're preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ! They think that gospel means scripture. I can only assume because the New Testament titles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John "The gospels" of each respective. What a blessing to have a modern prophet to help us interpret the scriptures, because you can really see the confusion people create for themselves when they don't have that guide in their lives.

I also read in Jacob this week, which is a charming little book that I've never quite appreciated as I should have before. I especially liked chapter 4 which talks a lot about Christ. I especially enjoyed verses 7-11 (but lots of others too...just read the whole chapter!), which talk about the hope we have in Christ...through His resurrection, we too have the power of resurrection, and through his sufferings we have a hope to see God again by being reconciled through the atonement, but we have to have faith. I liked how it talked about building upon Christ as our only sure foundation at the end of the chapter. Everyone should read the Book of Mormon! It is the best!

In food news, I tried tamarindo this week, which is a fruit (well, it's something that grows on a tree) that looks like a brown pea pod and then you open it and it is a long-ish slimey-ish strip of sticky stuff. You eat the meat off the seeds and it is kind of sour, like lemon, but it is brown and soft. It was pretty cool. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. I like trying all this new produce. Also. We go out to eat at a restaurant every week that serves criolla food (classic Puerto Rican rice, beans, and meat) by invitation of a member. I've had rice and beans at least once a week since arriving in the DR in October. Although I had it every day in the DR and nearly every day in my other area, I still love it! Until this week. I looked at it and just couldn't do it any more. I still ate it, but it is the first time I didn't think it was "very very good." I kind of just ate it because I had to. That is truly a change. We'll see how I feel next week. So, it just takes months and months of nearly every day to change preferences from "si!" to "no, thank you."

That's about it for this week. Not very exciting, I know. But I hope all is well at home and that you are all working hard on the Book of Mormon. I didn't tell you, but I would like to extend the challenge to one and all...not just Tyler.

Hermana Miller

Dear Family,

You know that lots of people think we're nuns...but not every one asks us if we are. This week we were in a summer camp and a 7 or 8 year old girl asked us if we were nuns. You can always depend on kids to tell you what every body else is thinking... :). It was just funny to me, because we always joke that we're like nuns, but one of the first times we've been asked. Speaking of the summer camp, the branch president's wife is in charge of this summer camp at a local university. She asked us to come and teach the kids how to play piano. We agreed. When we got there, it ended up she just wanted us to play the piano while the kids sang a song they've been working on..."Madrecita de mi amor." It is a song from the children's songbook in Spanish where the lyrics are (roughly translated) "Dear mother of my love, seeing your sweet face, makes me feel so happy that I love you more and more." It was funny to hear all these kids (non-members) singing a primary song. It was cute. I guess we're doing one for the fathers next week.

Random side-note. Usually when we walk through the Pueblo, we see people that we know and say "Hi." It is a small town, so we know the postman, the lady who runs the restaurant, the policeman, (sadly) the town drunk, the owners of the stores and some random people who are just always there. For example, Hector. He is just a random guy who is in town all day. We always see him and say Hi. I think we've invited him like, 20 times now to learn more about our message. When we walk through town, sometimes I hear the song from Sesame Street running through my head, "The People in your Neighborhood," you know, where they talk about people in the neighborhood like the postman and the cable guy and the milk man. I am now wondering why they never had missionaries as one of those people in your neighborhood. We're always there! One day we were walking through a parking lot and a kid says to his mom, "Hey, look! It's the people who are always knocking on our door!" It is like the church doctor in charge of the Caribbean area told us, "There are three things that you'll find no matter where you go in this world: Pepsi, Marlboro cigarettes, and two Mormon Missionaries." It is true, and I feel like we merit a spot in "the People in Your Neighborhood" song.

English Class this week was cool. Carlos came, which is cool, because he hasn't been around for the last couple weeks. We had planned to talk a little bit about future tense, but there were some questions. Let me explain. Before we start, we always have a little part I like to call "Introductions," which is where we have a question on the board that the class members have to answer. For example, "Tell me about your family," or "Why do you want to learn English?". You know; something "conversational." This week it was "Tell me about your favorite book". We had finished talking about it and we were about to start future tense when Moncho (which is a nickname for Ramón...I know. I don't understand it either.), who had lived in the states for a while and knows a good amount of English said, "Well, yeah, book is like what you can read, but I also saw the police use it in a movie once." It took me a second to figure out what he was talking about, and initially thought he meant "to book" as in a flight or a reservation. I started to explain that, and said that it is like making a reservation, but finally realized he was referring to the expression "Book him!". So, I had to explain that to Carlos, who is very interested in the complex expressions that aren't in the dictionary. And then Moncho was like, "Oh, but this word 'make' is interesting too because it means a ton of stuff. Like, 'make up' means to reconcile." I explained that one to Carlos, and then Carlos was like, "Well, can you say this too?" And he writes 'make off' on the board. Initially I said no, but then remembered that you can use it. I explained it as like to escape. I was worried he was just going to keep adding prepositions to the word make, and was worried we'd eventually get to 'make out'...and didn't know how to explain that one. Haha. I can understand why they were interested in the idioms, because it is something that is hard to learn from any source other than a native speaker. It was interesting to realize all the strange things that we say. Because literal translations make no sense. Also realized this week that the whole subject/verb agreement thing is kind of complicated.

As I said last week, Carlos just kind of disappeared for a while, but he is back. We were able to teach him twice this week. We finished lesson 3 with him, which is The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Fe, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End), and we're going to talk to him some more about the restoration next week. He is really cool and really likes the Book of Mormon (I don't remember if I told you, but he was totally sharing scriptures from the Book of Mormon the other week in Sunday School), but we're thinking he is not sure about Joseph Smith. So, we're going to go back and try to help him understand his role in the restoration better.

You may have noticed that I don't talk so much about investigators any more. It's not because I don't love them, it's just because we don't have any! Well, false. We have investigators, but they just aren't as promising (read: interested) as our investigators over in Bayamón were. It is weird how people can be from the same country, but so completely different in another area. I will tell you about two of our investigators and one of our exciting contacts this week.

1. Carmen. Carmen is a Baptist who lives in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain. She is really cool because she has a testimony of the gospel...the gospel that her church teaches. Even though it is not the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I can really respect her that she has a testimony of the gospel and lives it too. She let us share with her, but she said that just because we can share with her "doesn't imply I am going to change my beliefs." Usually people like this (who say, " Yeah...I like to listen to 'the word'.") we just share something once and that's it. But, we felt something different with her. She read in the Book of Mormon but said she didn't pray to see if it's true because she doesn't have faith that it is...which is also respectable. When we're in the area next time (I don't know when that'll be...seeing as she lives on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere...), we'll stop by and see how she's doing. She is pretty cool, and may one day accept the gospel. She understands basic principles like faith and what a Savior means and why we need one.

2. Luis and María. Luis and Maria are Catholics who live in the Pueblo. We toced into them the other day. Luis is a very happy fellow who is just kind of bubbly and excited and loving (think Bert's (?) uncle who "loves to laugh" on Mary Poppins.). He says that he loves the missionaries and then said a classic line that we hear all the time "The 'muchachos' used to pass by all the time, but then just stopped coming for some reason. I don't know why...." Haha. We know why! We asked them if they had ever attended church and they said no because they have to go to church in the morning (their church), and then they spend the rest of the day with their family. We weren't going to set a cita, but he insisted, so we did. We came back without much expectation, but we soon found out why the muchachos always visited them; because they're cool! They are prepared, but they (Luis and Maria themselves) just don't know it...and that is why the Elders stopped visiting. They know that the bible is incomplete. They know the Catholic church isn't perfect, and they understand what the restoration is. They even believe that God would give new scripture and that the Book of Mormon is true. Their main problem is that they don't believe God would call another prophet. They believe we can receive personal revelation, but that according to the Book of Revelation God will not call another Prophet to receive revelation for the world until Christ's second coming, or something. They are really cool because they understand the message on an intellectual level, which is actually quite difficult for the average person (Maria has actually studied theology and knows some doctrine that others don't. She knows that the church "conveniently" left some doctrine out of the Bible and believes in some things that the church doesn't the spirit world, for this very reason). They just don't completely understand authority, I think, nor the relationship between Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. One really cool thing about our lesson with them was that at the end, we requested if we could have a prayer and their 20-something daughter kind of jumps out of her chair and says "Claro!" which means, "of course!" She was very excited to pray and that was a very refreshing sight, because in some houses we visit it is like we are always trying to cajole family members to pray. I want my children to love to pray, and I liked seeing that she was so excited to do so. As we walked out the door, Luis calls after us, "Take care, chicas!" Haha. Cracked me up. We'll see how it goes with them.

3. Octavio. Octavio doesn't attend any church, but he was very contrary to our message. His mother is the one who let us in to share a little something one day while we were knocking doors on a mountain. For me, this experience was the epitome of popular ignorance. He was vehemently against our message, and refused to accept what we were saying. He knew enough to sound informed, but too little to actually be considered intelligent. Ignorance is one of things that is most annoying to me lately. We talked about using the Book of Mormon to resolve doubts in a district meeting with the Mission President this week, so Hermana Reyes read him Helaman 5:12 and after talking for a bit, he actually said, "Well, it (the Bible) contains the fundamentals." We asked him if he wanted the fundamentals or the fullness. That tripped him up a bit. It was interesting how sharing a verse from the Book of Mormon had such power in a situation like that. But really. He didn't know what he was talking about. He kept saying "John Smith" (we get that all the time...) and at one point, when he was going to tell us what he knew about the Book of Mormon, he said "Well, I don't know much, because it really doesn't interest me...but I do know..." Argh. Annoying. My favorite little piece of information he shared with us was "Nine out of every 10 religions is false." When he said that, I was just like... ... ... "Wait a second. Think about what you just said and then tell me if it makes sense." And I thought about sharing with him Adrienne's statistic, (that is that 83% of statistics are made up).... But I contained myself and when it was time to go said, "Well Octavio, You yourself just told us that you haven't read much and don't know much. We are here to invite you to read more and understand these things better, and when you're ready to learn more, we'll come back and help you." Mostly just underlining the fact that he had no idea what he was talking about. It was an unfortunate encounter, but part of the mission experience. I just re-read that paragraph, and it sounds like there was a lot of contention there, but it was mostly just on his side. We were very calm and it wasn't ugly like it gets sometimes.

We've had an interesting week, but a good week. We ate fresh mango this week (I love mango!); $1 for a bag of 8 - 10 from a guy selling them on the side of the road. Sounds sketchy, I know. But that is totally normal here. :)

Love you all!
Hermana Miller

Dear family,

I got your little letter this week...with the pictures. I love the pictures! I seriously love receiving pictures, especially with litte comments on the back. I think you're all so cute! For reals. You all are very good looking people. Haha. :)

This week was full of fun. It all started early in the week. One night I was in the kitchen, cutting up mango (mango is delicious. I am sad I had to wait 23 years to try it. It is wonderful!), and I saw out of the corner of my eye a dark spot. I ignored it and kept cutting the mango, and then I saw the spot moving, really fast. I looked down, and what should I see? It was a monster like that one slithery one in Monster's inc., who has all the legs and steals screams from children. I definitely screamed. It was a big worm with lots of legs and it was headed towards me. I screamed, but thought quick and grabbed a box and put it on top. When the box started to move, I added weight. We decided to get rid of the bug the next day, but the next day, it had disappeared! So, we were kind of living in fear all wee as we would come home and not see him, but know he was in their. We just decided that he had escaped the same way he had come in...but then we were cleaning last night, and he magically appeared again. I got a picture to send to you. It was frightening, but also exciting. We talked to a member about it and he said that when they bite, it is like being bitten by 10 waps simultaneously, and that to kill it you have to cut it up into pieces using a machete. Well, seeing as we don't have a machete, we just swept it out the door.

In other news, we finally got our hands on a conference issue this morning! (no...not the one you sent me, but one from the office). It is so good! I love conference. I have only read three of the talks so far, but they we all good. I read one by Elder Oaks in the priesthood session that talked about priesthood blessing of healing, and I loved it. I know the priesthood is real and that men on earth again have the power to heal...if (as Elder Oaks says), we have faith and it is the will of the Father. I loved the talk. I also read the Happily Ever After talk by Elder Uchtdorf in the Young Women conference. You all know how I love fairy tales, and would love to live one...little did I know I actually was living one. :) What he says is true; if there are no tests or trials or tragedies in your fairy tale, well? It is really boring and there is absolutely no growth. I never really thought about eternal life being the "Happily Ever After" that Heavenly Father is offering to all of us, and it is in our reach, if we just do what we can and follow the map that He has given us. Wonderful talk. Honestly though, I think I can say that about all the talks in conference.

I read this week in Ether, and I've never really liked that book. At least at the end, because I felt like it was just a travelogue of ugly killing sprees and such. But, I feel like I understood something different this week. I never noticed before that Coriantumr was repeatedly trying to end the fighting and the bloodshed, but Shiz didn't want to. I found it to be a lesson in pride. In Ether 15:2 it says that 2 million men were killed...and their wives and their children. So, if you assume every man had one wife and one child, that is at least 5 million people. But, probably more. And that was before the bloodiest battle. How terrible! Then, they gathered more people for four years. There were so many people that it took 4 years to gather them (v. 14) and then had an epic battle to end all battles. Verse 15 in Chapter 15 was especially...I don't know. Touching? I don't know the word, but what I want to say is that it really affected me. It says that every one was armed, including all the women and all the children. How sad! How ugly! I just can't imagine an entire people falling so far that they would arm their children to fight. But, it was all for the pride of a man who insisted on avenging the blood of his brother (Shiz). But, Corinatumr himself had the opportunity to repent and save his people before all the battles really picked up, but also refused that opportunity because of pride. How terribly devastating pride can be! How horribly damaging to those people who depend on you. It never really hit me this hard until this week.

I fiinished the Book of Mormon again this week and I realized that I have fallen in love with that book. I love the Book of Mormon. It has so much power. The prophets who wrote it were inspired. It is amazing to me the powerful doctrines and teachings that are in there. Sometimes through stories, and sometimes more directly, but it is amazing all the wonderful testimonies that we find there. It is really cool as you read the book at different times in your life how the same verses can take on totally different meanings. I really like to think that everything in that book was put there for a reason. For example. Although I never really saw a reason for the end of the Book of Ether before this week, I now can see how valuable of a lesson it is for us in our day. It is really true that Mormon Moroni saw our day and spoke to us as if we were present. They shared some very valuable lessons for us that *sigh* are just amazing. I feel like I can't articulate myself in English anymore, but I think/hope you get the point.

I am also reading the New Testament, and I am falling in love with that book too. It just takes a little more time and effort reading it, but it is so worth it because there are beautiful lessons and lovely passages to be found there. Confession: I've never really read that book all the way through (unless you count seminary...), and really spent my time trying to understand, but now I have been reading it since the CCM and I am really moved by the beauty of the words of Christ and those faithful men who spent the time to write it. Although there are not a lot of words (as in you have to read between the lines a lot of times), I find that the people portrayed in the New Testament are wonderful examples of faith and obedience and diligence. I almost feel like a dork saying it, but, I love the scriptures! I feel like shouting it to the world. I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love! :)

Right now our "best" investigator (she reads in the Book of Mormon) is Mirta. She is cool because she reads pretty faithfully the assignments we leave her. She surprised us the other day by writing down her feelings and impressions on the assignment we left her; Moroni 7. It was cool to see someone take the initiative like that, and it really impressed us. She still hasn't made it to church, but she is acquaitances with two of our...15 active members, so we hope she'll make it sometime soon. We also talked about the Book of Mormon with her 20-something (or maybe 30?) year old son. He seemed interested, and we read the introduction with him and he really read it and understood. He had a couple things that he disagreed with, but I felt like he was really open and ready to learn, while others are mostly just ready to fight. We left him a Book of Mormon and he said he would like to read it and that he was going to start at the beginning. So. We'll see. He is really cool, and I think he could really gain a testimony if he has real intent in his heart and not just in his words. We'll see.

Carlos, our investigator, basically fell off the face of the earth, but we contacted him last night, and we have a cita with him on Wednesday. That is really great news, because we know he wants to get baptized, but apparently he has been in Caguas with his daughter for a couple weeks. He is really cool, and it's good will be able to see him again this week. Finally.

Well, we're out of time, but I hope everything is going great back home. I had some more things to tell you, but they weren't that exciting anyway. I love hearing from you all and hope you get some of our heat up there soon. It has been in the high 80's. Add humidity and it is gross! But oh, so fun. :)

Hermana Janae

That is my hand on the side, just so you can have an idea of how incredibly massive it was! Ok. "incrdeibly massive" is a bit of an overstatement, but it was quite large.

This is us before tocing one day. It rained on us really hard that day and we came back soaking. Also, a guy randomly gave us "Parcha", which is known as passionfruit in English. Yum.