Guess what? I am staying in Silverdale! Yesterday marked the start of my second transfer in the mission. I had no idea what or where my transfer assignment was going to be and I was dying on Saturday waiting for the phone call. Usually the AP's or the President make the calls from 8:30-12:30 am so I figured that I would know at least before our whole zone went out for lunch at 12:30. The Saturday before the end of the transfer has been nicknamed "Seattle Saturday." It basically is in reference to the inferiority of the neighboring Seattle mission and how compared to the WA-TAC they don't really do anything. Kind of ironic in that the Seattle mission actually idolizes us here. President Weaver said that he is changing the name to "Sowing Saturday." A day that we can still sow gospel seeds and not waste time, even when to us the transfer is seemingly over. I was mentally checked out and secretly hoping that I would get transferred. I felt like this past transfer has been a time of a lot of learning and experience and I hoped that I would be able to take what I've learned here and then asked to apply it in a totally new area with a totally new companion, ward, etc. But at the same time I had a feeling in the back of my mind that I would be staying. Not only to learn a lot of lessons that I totally still need to learn here on the mission, but that there are people here waiting to receive me. There are prepared children of God that I have been sent here to find.
So when 3 o'clock finally rolled around and we still hadn't been called, I got really nervous. I assumed that I would be staying and I assumed right. AP Berger called mintutes later to inform both Sister Mills and I that we would both be staying here in the Silverdale zone. When I heard the news, the Spirit confirmed to me that this is where I am supposed to be at this time. That the missionaries assigned to this zone are the best missionaries that could be here at this particular time. Today we had our weekly zone meeting and I received further witness that I was kept here for a reason. We got a new Zone leader, Elder Coronado, an elder from my MTC district, Elder Pagano, a 300 lb. Hawaiian as my new district leader, Elder Jenkins, and a painfully shy/awkward greenie that came in yesterday, Elder Cook. They all came from really successful areas and brought with them such a great intensity and fire to do missionary work and to see miracles here in Silverdale. There are zones throughout the mission that have reputations. For high baptizing, low baptizing, good wards, bad wards, etc. They all, myself included, feel like we can boost our zone to become the next "Lakewood" or "Tacoma" zones, which happen to be some of the highest baptizing and powerhouse zones of the mission. I like to think of Silverdale as a sleeping giant. Greatness that has been laying dormant for so long and needs to woken up and when it does it will explode. We set a goal as a companionship that we could baptize 5 people this transfer with the hopes of 6. Personally, I think that we can baptize 6 people.
At the start of this transfer it was really hard for me to have the faith to find. To believe that there are people that are in search of the Gospel and that are waiting for me to bring it to them. That I can knock a thousand doors and invite every person I meet on the street, but if I don't believe that the Lord has prepared some of His elect for me to find, that I will not find them. One particular day, I felt like I needed to pray and ask for the faith to find. No joke, we found like 5 people to teach or atleast come back and talk to again just within the 2 hours of finding time that followed that prayer. I remembered that "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called by Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life." (3 Nephi 5:13) It is part of our 4 recitations that we declare every zone meeting and at every gathering of the mission. Words and phrases that proclaim our identity, role, and mission here as the Lords servants in the Washinton Tacoma mission.
We found this 84 yr old man named Andy Tuttobene. He is a retired navy lieutenant and a widower of 5 years. He lives alone. Wakes up at 10 am makes breakfast. Goes to the commecery on base to grocery shop. Comes home. Eats dinner. Watches TV. Reads the paper. Goes to bed. We had knocked on his door one day and he said that he wasn't interested in the church but that he said that he had a lot of respect for the Mormon faith and its people. That he could not think of one bad thing to say about the religion or those that practiced it, but graciously declined our offer for a church tour or even help to do some service for him. Two days later we get a call from an old man saying that two young girls came to his door and offered him help and that he woke up feeling like he should call them. He was so impressed by our appearance, demeanor, and offer to help that he felt like he could call us and asked us to come over and meet with him. He was looking for someone to do some light housework and to "look over his shoulder." Being that he lvies alone and that he has no friends or family in the area or I think even living, that he feels very lonely and does not know where to turn for some company or help. We earned his trust in 30 seconds on his doorstep and said that he would like us to come over and visit him once a week in exchange for some refreshments. We have seen him twice now, left him with a Book of Mormon and have tried to introduce different aspects of the Gospel but he feels like he is too late and too old in life to start having a religion. We told him that it is never too late and that we know of a way that he could be with his wife again one day and how he could find peace and not feel so lonely while he is still alive on the earth. This peaked his interest but quickly grew exhausted when we invited him to come to church and how he could find so many answers to his questions there and to receive revelation. He basically wants maximum results for minimum to zero effort. I felt so sad for him in that moment as we ate gelato in his living room. That he had completely forsaken the idea of seeing his wife again or being happy because he was old and too tired to start doing something new. It made me feel peace to know that my Grandpa would never be like Andy Tuttobene. That despite losing his beloved wife that he KNOWS and BELIEVES he will see her again and that they can be together forever. That he has meaning and purpose still in his life today and that he does not have to feel alone. That he has so many family and loved ones and friends there to "look over his shoulder" and to comfort and uplift him. The gospel is so powerful and beautiful and I feel sorrow for those that need it so badly but cannot recognize that they do.
Another tracting miracle that we found is a 16 yr old boy named Taylor. We were tracting this street that was totally dead. Hardly anyone was home or at least no one opened the door for us. We saw like one car drive by in like 2 hours of finding and just seemed like there was not a living soul to be found. Knock on this one door and Taylor opened it. He looked like he was maybe 13 so we asked if his parents were home so he left the door to go get his stepmom. She comes to the door and we invite her to church and so on and so forth. She said she wasn't really interested but then motioned to somone that apparently was listening from behind the door to come talk to us. She said "Taylor, you've been looking to go to a church. Here, you should be talking to them." He steps out from behind the door and we get to talking. He moved here about 2 months ago from HI and is here living with his step mom. He used to go to church as a young kid with his grandma in HI and has even attended an LDS church a couple of times. We invited him to a mutual activity that was happening that night at 6:30. The young men were helping a disabled man in the ward with some yardwork and that it would be a good opportunity for him to meet boys his age that would be starting school with him at the high school in the fall. Hesays "yeah sure, maybe." We tell him to just give us a call if he changes his mind and we leave to go knock more doors. That all happened at 6:05 pm. We are across the street about to knock on his neighbor's door and at 6:21 see a mini-van pull out of Taylor's driveway. I look at Sis Mills and go "Do you think he is going to mutual?" Without waiting another second we run to our car and race to the church on the chance that he might be. En route to the building he calls us and said he wants to go to the activity and was on his way there. MIRACLE!!!!!! No joke by 6:35 he is with several other boys pulling out brush and Scotch broom in the yard of a man he has never met. He loved it and wants to go camping with the young men this month. We are going to try to put him on date to be baptized this week!!!
Speaking of baptisms we are having a baptism this Thursday!! So this 21 yr old guy Nolan had been baptized two years ago but never came back on Sunday to get confirmed and receive the gift of the holy ghost. Thus, it is considered void since it has been so long. So he approached our ward mission leader like a couple weeks ago and we have been meeting with him a couple times and he does not want to wait to get baptized so we are doing it midweek. So rad. We have two baptisms scheduled for the following week, too, with two Samoan girls that are part of a less active family. We are starting the transfer off so strong and will be halfway to our transfer baptism goal!!
I am so excited for Friday because we got special permission to attend a temple sealing for two members of our YSA ward!!!! He is our ward mission leader and they are both recent converts within the past year-year and a half. We are driving with a member and taking the ferry to Seattle and then drive to the temple in Bellvue. This will be the first sealing I have witnessed and could not be more excited. Some of the missionaries that taught and baptized the two of them are still in the mission and are coming too.
Ok, I could not end this email without sharing a dog story. It's way scary too. Ok so we got this feeling that we needed to leave this one neighborhood we were tracting and to go to another street. So we are driving down a street that a ward member lives on. We were going to park at their house and then walk down and tract the rest of the road. Good thing we didn't because we would have been attacked by these two giant dogs!!! We were driving along the gravel road and I look in the left side mirror and see this pit bull running after us at full speed. Just completely exerting it self to get to our car. We are probably driving like 15 miles an hour. When it catches up to us it is barking and jumping up to the driver window so I just start freaking out. Slobbering all over the glass and was just trying to bust through the car and rip us to shreds. Next thing you know a giant brown bull mastif comes up to the passenger side and starts jumping up on the passenger side and just about gives sister Mills a heart attack. I try driving forward but the pit bull kept running in front of the car or trying to jump on the hood and the bull mastif is just ramming itself against the side doors. We literally trapped and being attacked by the devil's dogs no joke. They harassed our car and would not let us go for like 15 minutes until finally I decided I was just going to gun it and if I was supposed to hit them I would but that hopefully I wouldn't. They kept up with the car at 25 mph!! crazyyyyyy. We could have died if we had gotten out of the car. When we were finally able to escape and pulled over we got out to look at the car and there were gobs of gooey sticky slobber streaked along the door panels. Heavenly Father was definitely protecting us that day.
Well I hope that everyone is doing well and keeping busy. Write to me! This address will be good for another 6 weeks so you won't have to send mail to the mission home. Jordan Miles, if you are reading this I don't have your address. Write me again or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All others, thanks for writing me and I am trying my best to write you all back. If you get a chance read Mosiah 4:9-10 it has been one of my favorite scriptures to share with peope that we meet with and teach.
Love you all!