Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 4: Miracles are happening!!

Hello everyone!(: This week has honestly been so great, I don't even know where to start. I have been so uplifted and truly have felt that this is where I am meant to be. Things kept happening that just confirmed it to me and I'm so thankful to be serving here. So here is the rundown from my week:
- So last Tuesday, we were watching Mormon Messages (we get an hour on Tuesday's for time, it's sweet) and I saw the Lindsay Stirling Mormon Message. It was so sweet and motivating and it really helped me feel positive and ready for the week. We had an amazing lesson with K____ (She got baptized this weekend! It was the most wonderful experience and I'm so thankful I got to be a part of it) and then we got to know a few people in the ward a lot better during lessons. Fun fact for you: there is a girl named Jayde Jones in the ward, and she is so awesome. We were having a lesson with her and I leaned back in my chair a little bit and it fell backwards and I hit my head against the was really embarrassing but I also haven't laughed that hard in ages so it's all good.

- On Wednesday, we went tabling on CSU's campus. We set up a stand and handed out cards and had Book of Mormon's (Books of Mormon?) available and pamphlets on the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, etc. There was a huge group of people standing a little ways off. They had a man dressed as Jesus screaming really vulgar things about gay people and women and telling everyone they were going to Hell. It was honestly one of the saddest things I have ever seen. People were arguing and screaming and it really just reminded me of the great and spacious building. That's what I imagine it to be like. At first it really bothered us and we were thinking about tabling another day or somewhere else, but I really got the feeling we should stay. As time went by, lots of people passed. We were able to hand out pamphlets and cards and even a Book of Mormon every once in a while. People just kept saying how much they appreciated our kind attitudes and the fact that we weren't yelling at them, that we were just saying that God loves everyone and we wanted to invite others to come closer to Him. It was awesome to see how many people stopped for us that wouldn't stop for the yelling Jesus guy. I had an experience at the very end of tabling that I will never forget. Two guys were walking by (one of them was wearing this really sweet llama poncho) and I stopped them and was talking to them for a little bit. I don't really remember what I said. I offered them a pamphlet and one of them said that he didn't want to take one because he probably wouldn't use it. I told them that was totally fine and we talked a little more. They eventually walked away and I didn't think much of it. Later, right as we were getting ready to leave, one of the guys rode up on his bike and came up to me. He said that as they were walking away, poncho guy said to him that his interaction with me was the best interaction he has ever had with a religious person. He said I was super sweet and motivating and that I seemed like I genuinely cared about him and about other people. He said that he really appreciated what I was doing and that I was loving to everyone, even when they weren't interested. And then his friend said that he thought what I was doing out here is awesome and to keep up the positivity and then he rode off. I was so happy! I know that most people would probably be bummed cause he didn't take a pamphlet or anything, but he noticed Christ-like kindness! That's huge! I know it was God that allowed that to happen and I've been praying every night that one day, they will remember that kindness and someday show interest in the church. You never know!

- On Thursday we went tracting for the first time. We don't do it very much in YSA, but we had some free time so we decided to give it a try. It went so well! We taught the Restoration to two people, and each of them allowed us to close with a prayer. It was a great experience, and I know the fact that we prayed before going really helped us find people who would be interested. We are hoping to hear back from one of them this week.

- Friday we got a new investigator! Her name is K_____ and she moved to CO from Arizona. She is so sweet and we have our second lesson with her this week. We're so excited!

- Saturday was K____'s baptism. It was such an awesome day. She was so so so happy coming out of the font. Her parents came and so did some of her friends. It has been so fun getting to teach her and see her make this step to be closer to Heavenly Father. She has such a happy spirit and I know her testimony will benefit so many people that she knows.

- Sunday we had church and every meeting had something that I needed to hear. The theme of this girl named Diana's talk was "Enlarging thy tent". When people think of helping others come unto Christ, they usually think of baptism or only having discussions about spiritual things. I know that's what I used to think. Something I've learned very quickly while serving in YSA, is that a lot of time what people need is a true friend. That is what Christ is to us. He is our true friend, our best friend, and we need to be other people's friends and have that charitable love towards them. K___'s mom came to church with her, and in Gospel Principles class, she said that she and her husband have been reading the Book of Mormon and want the happiness that K____ has found. It was so awesome! We are so happy for her and her entire family. After church, we had some lessons and then we had a devotional night where people who were recent converts/returning missionaries/people getting ready to leave on missions bore their testimonies. It was so spiritually uplifting. K____ bore her testimony and it was so pure and simple and something that everyone needed to hear.

So that was my week. It was very busy, I am seriously exhausted, we went over our goal number for lessons we wanted to teach and that was a really good feeling. It's not about the numbers though. It's about the people, and the people I'm getting to know and the people we are teaching are seriously so wonderful. I'm so happy to be here and I can't wait to see what this next week will bring!(: I love you all and would challenge you to look for someone you can be a true friend to this week!
Love, Sister Sarah Anne Allen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 3: Act.

Hello everyone!(: Well, it's official, I have been in the field for one week tomorrow. I am loving it so much. I have an awesome companion who is so understanding and helpful in this whole training process. She's super funny too, which is good because sometimes when things don't go the way you planned, you just need to laugh. Also, we are both terrible with directions, so I'm very thankful that GPS exists. The people we live with are awesome and hilarious and I'm so thankful that they are letting us stay with them. So here is a basic summary of this last week:
- I am serving in the Horsetooth YSA Ward right by the CSU campus. It is so BEAUTIFUL here. So many trees, so many different colors, and the mountains are so perfect it's ridiculous. I'm actually going hiking today with Sis. Metzger and a member from the ward named S____. Something that I have learned so far from being in YSA is that focusing on the active members is just as important as focusing on the less-actives, inactive, and new investigators. Everyone needs to be reminded of the love that the Savior has for them, no matter where they are at in their lives/relationship to God. Our mission was challenged by Elder Allen (Head of the Missionary Department) to teach the first 3 lessons to all the members of our ward. Then, we are supposed to invite them to pray for a name of someone who could use this message. By the 2nd lesson, Elder Allen has promised that a name of someone who needs the gospel will be manifested to them by the Spirit. How cool is that?! He said that if members will do this, we should have one new investigator every week, which is amazing. So me and my companion have made it a goal to teach 20 lessons every week no matter what. We got 20 lessons over the last 4 days and it was awesome. We were super busy and exhausted by the end of each day, but it was so worth it. We already have some members who are inviting their friends to come and join in some of the activities at the Institute. We are also doing Preach My Gospel studies with some members who are going to be putting their papers in soon. Yesterday, our Ward Mission Leader challenged us to go out on the street and find someone to teach. So we did, and we taught a girl The Restoration in 5 minutes standing on the sidewalk haha! It was so awesome. She was Catholic but said that her relationship with God was so-so. So we challenged her to pray for it to grow stronger and if she ever has questions, she can find us at the Institute(: Planting seeds. It was so wonderful. It was hilarious because right before her, I walked up to this guy and asked if he'd be interested in hearing our message, and he was like "Yeah, I love the gospel!". Turns out he was a member.....of course that would happen to me. It was great practice for when I walked up to her though haha(:
-I have made it a personal goal to recognize one miracle each day. Even if the miracle is that my oatmeal tasted especially delicious haha. I have so much to be thankful for, and I need to remember to recognize those things.
-We have an awesome girl in our ward named Kat. Yesterday, we were able to teach her and then have dinner at her apartment. Her mom and 20 month old sister (they call her Bean, she's sooo cute) were in town for parents weekend and they made us dinner. It was honestly like a little slice of home, and I'm so thankful for the mom-hug I got, because I was missing my mom's 20 second hugs that we used to do back home(: Blessings are everywhere.
-Yesterday we had Stake Conference and it was broadcasted to us from Salt Lake City. Elder Bednar and Elder Scott spoke and oh my goodness, it was great. I love Elder Bednar. He just says things the way they are and if you don't like it, he doesn't care haha. He spoke on how the hastening of the Lord's work can only happen through the hastening of ourselves. The Lord is the one who hastens His work, we just have to decide if we are going to keep pace with it. As disciples, it's our responsibility to learn, press forward, and become better through Him. We have to learn the true meaning of the word sacrifice. To sacrifice is to willingly give up all the things of this world in order to reach a better world. We have to live for the gospel. He also talked a lot about the law of consecration, which really hit home for me. Being out here has shown me that this isn't about me. It's about God's children and helping them find their way back to Him. As many of you know, I'm vegan and feel very strongly about it. People are very respectful and mindful of my egg, gluten, and dairy allergies here, but honestly they don't really know what else to feed me once those things are out of the picture and don't really know all of the veganism do's and don'ts. So I've been to a few houses where chicken was being served. I decided that my veganism is something I'm going to have to sacrifice when I go to members houses sometimes. It has been really hard for me to make that decision but I know that when I go home, and when I am feeding myself out here, I can still eat the way that I feel strongly about. I know that being willing to sacrifice something that I hold dear in order to help others come unto Christ (even though it might seem like a silly thing to sacrifice to some people) will bless my life while I'm here and bless the lives of those I teach. Elder Bednar said "As we come to more completely understand sacrificing and consecration in the hastening of ourselves, we will be able to chase out the darkness from among us using the light of Christ,"
-Elder Richard G. Scott gave an AMAZING talk on the subject of prayer. Pray with sincerity. We are being encouraged by someone who is all knowing and all loving to pray to Him anytime and anywhere, but how often do we really do it? How often do we get down on our knees and sincerely speak to our Heavenly Father? I have had some very heartfelt conversations with God since coming out on my mission. I know that it's so important to have that open door of communication, not only out here in the mission field, but throughout our lives in general. Elder Scott said that answers come in 3 ways:
1. Peace, comfort, confidence. This is usually a yes.
2. Unsettled, stupor of thought. A no.
3. Nothing at all. This is the Lord asking us to go forward, with faith in Him and His plan for our lives, acting on the truths that we already know. 
God needs us to ACT. Nephi said, "Not knowing the things which I would do; nevertheless, I WENT FORTH." We need to stop worrying about what might happen. If we are striving to be Christ like and to follow God, the decisions we make are being led by Him. He will prompt us in peaceful moments, when we study the scripture or take time to ponder.
- Family prayer was capitalized on a lot yesterday too. In the morning, to arm your family against the forces of evil that reside in the world, and at night, to give thanks for that protection and for all our blessings in general.
Wow this is really long. Sorry everyone, it's just been a really great and really inspiring week. I hope you all have a great week and remember the Lord throughout your day. He loves you and so do I! <3
Love, Sister Allen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"I'm finally here!!"

Well it's official everyone! I have arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado. I just got assigned my new companion, and I will be serving in the YSA Stake here at Colorado State University. I am SO excited about this. And my new companion seems super sweet and very understanding. We have a lot in common and I'm super ready to start this adventure with her. It was such a hard week saying goodbye to my district and my zone. We all grew so close and we had one final testimony meeting before we all left and I was just in tears the entire time. I really have learned what it means to love the way that the Lord loves over these last couple of weeks. I also had to say goodbye to Sis. Waters this morning and that was so difficult. I really hope we get to be companions sometime down the road. She's awesome. Today and yesterday have been so overwhelming, and it doesn't help that I'm running on no sleep. I'm hoping that tonight I'll be able to catch up on some of the hours I've missed haha(: My mission president and his wife are some of the sweetest people ever, and they have such a strong testimony of the gospel. Last night, they had four recent converts come over and share their stories with us. It was such an eye-opening experience and made me even more exciting about being called as a servant to share God's love with all His children who are searching for it. I know it's going to be hard, and I know it will be a lot of work, but I also know that this mission isn't about me, it's about Him. He is the reason why I am who I am, and He is the reason that lives will change. I am just here to help Him reach out to those people. Well, I love you all so much and I'll email a longer email on Monday (P-day!).
Love, Sister Allen

Friday, October 10, 2014

Week 2: So many blessings!!

Wow, can you believe my time at the MTC is almost up??? Because I can't! It's so crazy to me that I leave on Wednesday for Fort Collins. I'm so excited but I know it's going to be hard leaving all the people I have grown to love here. It was so sweet, last night, one of the Elder's in my district was saying the closing prayer and he was like "Please help us to continue to grow together as a family". I started crying!! I know that these friendships are the kind that will last far beyond our stay here at the MTC(: 
This last week has been soooo busy and I seriously think I now understand what people mean when they say they are spiritually exhausted. It is so awesome though. And Conference was such a motivating and empowering start to all of the lessons we were teaching/learning. Especially Elder Bednar's talk. I love that he just says things how they are and then it's our choice to accept it or not. The other Sister's and I were joking that lots of the Apostles were really sassy this time around haha. It was amazing though and I went into it with a lot of questions and received some very spiritual answers. I hope you all were able to experience that too!
Something I have learned here is that when we aren't able to receive personal revelation, it's not because the Lord isn't wanting to give us those answers and blessings, it's because we aren't prepared or in the right mindset to receive them. When I came here, I didn't consider myself to be a selfish person, but something I have learned while I'm out here is how to be a selfless person. I was praying to know how to be the kind of missionary God needs me to be, and my answer came on Sunday night at a Devotional. Since then, I have been striving to think less about how "I" can be better, and focus more on who needs help, who needs service, who needs love (and how they need to be shown that love in order to come closer to Christ). Through focusing on others (because I genuinely love them, not for my own personal gain), I will grow and become a more Christ-like person. The MTC really is so important. I've changed more in this past week than I ever thought was possible. It's amazing.
My companion, Sis. Waters, got a really bad cold yesterday. We were in an 8 hour pre-mission field training course, and she felt miserable. And then right after that, we had to go teach one of our investigators, Devan. Devan is Baptist and we had visited her two times before last night. She's really sweet and she loves us and we always get along when talking about the "fluffy" (not Gospel) stuff, but as soon as we start teaching she would get very defensive. It was so hard. We left each time feeling very frustrated. Last night was different. Sis. Waters and I were getting ready to go in and teach and we did our routine of praying before knocking and we just prayed that we would be able to love Devan the way that God loves her and that we would be able to show that love to her through the message we were going to share. 
WE HAD A BREAKTHROUGH. I felt like a choir of angels were singing Hallelujah's as her countenance changed. We went in and taught the Restoration and testified boldly that we know that this is the one true way back to our Heavenly Father. She promised to pray about our message and we're meeting with her again tonight. After we left, we said our thank you prayer (that's another habit we've developed) and just kept looking at each other like, did that really just happen? It was awesome. 
So basically it was the best and Sis. Waters is feeling so much better today (blessings are for real you guys). Today for our P-day we got to go to the temple. It was such an amazing experience and the Celestial Room was so beautiful. I thought of my whole family when I was in there. I'm so excited to spend eternity in God's presence with the people I love. Later today, we are going to have a Zone volleyball tournament and it's going to be pretty exciting. I love my Zone and District so much!! We have so much fun together. There is an Elder in my Zone named Elder Waite. He is hands down one of the funniest people I have ever met. He reminds me of Jacob a little bit. He makes this place feel a little bit more like home and can always make me and anyone else laugh after we've been having a rough day. 
I got some amazing packages from my family and from the Kirkham's this week. Thank you all for your letters, packages, and emails. I will try and respond as often as I can, but just in case I don't have time, just know that I love you all so very much and you are so wonderful for thinking of me. 
I am so thankful that I am here. I miss my family and everyone a lot but I know this is where I'm meant to be. I love the people we are teaching and I love my teachers. They are inspired individuals and they have helped me learn things about myself that I never would have thought were possible. I feel so spiritually confident now, thanks to the feedback and help that they provide, and the love and guidance that my Heavenly Father shows me each day. I had a spiritual breakthrough the other day in class when we were practice teaching. Sometimes I'm afraid to say things that the Spirit is prompting me to say because I'm scared I won't make sense or I might say it wrong. I was able to overcome that fear this week and really let the Spirit guide my speech. It felt so great! Don't be scared to follow those promptings. God gives them to us for a reason, and we can be missing out on amazing opportunity when we disregard them.
I know this Gospel is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this work alone can change millions of lives in such a positive way and I can't wait to share all of this with the people in FoCo. It's going to be the greatest experience of my life, this last week and a half has shown me that. 
I love you all and hope you have a great week!!
Love, Sister Allen

Friday, October 3, 2014

Week 1: MTC

Here is Sister Allen's first email from the MTC: (her mom is just a little excited that she emailed already!! Yay!! :)

Mom!!!(: Okay please just share this letter with the whole family because I don't have time to write individually today. I love you all and miss you, but I'm not feeling homesick at all and I am thankful for that because I was kind of worried that first day. Just so you guys know, Dear Elder is a GREAT way to contact me. We get the letters hand delivered every day by our District Leader. We are only allowed to write back on P Day though, which is every Friday here at the MTC. I haven't gotten the package yet, I should be getting it tonight though because our District Leader was chosen yesterday so I'll let you know next week what I think about the shirt(: Oh my goodness, there is so much to write and so little time to cover it all. I'll just start with the basics.
My room is great. The sheets are clean and I'm using my own pillow case. I'm in a room with four girls. My companion, SIster Waters, is an angel with a cute North Carolina accent. She is so sweet and SO in tune with the Spirit. Things really flow when we teach together. We have differences, obviously, but we love each other regardless and we are working so well together. Then we have two other Sisters that live with us. Sister Jensen and Sister Williams. They are so awesome. I seriously love my room and am so thankful for the girls I live with.
Our district has two sets of Elders and then us four Sisters. The Elders are soooo thoughtful and just genuinely good men. They have such strong testimonies and value the Priesthood that they hold. It is crazy the difference I see in them compared to some of the men back home. They have this aura about them that just makes you feel safe. Elder Hunt is the District Leader and he is awesome, so spiritual and so kind. 
Then comes our zone. We are the only four Sisters in a zone of 6 sets of Elders. They are all so wonderful and so funny. There is an Elder here who literally can make anyone laugh (including our intimidating but super cool Branch President). There is also an Elder named Elder Teske. He has a really great knowledge of our purpose and the gospel in itself. He's a really good example of the kind of missionary I want to be.
The only two people in my zone that are going to FoCo are me and Sis. Waters! I think there's more Elders/Sisters going to Colorado, but I'm not sure if any of them are in our immediate area.
Okay the food here is awesome. They have a special room specifically for people with food allergies/intolerance and guess what was for lunch....corn pasta with red sauce and peas(: Talk about some divine intervention hahaha. No but seriously there is so many options and SO MUCH fresh fruit. I have eaten the equivalent of at least 10 honeydew melons since I've been here and I'm not even ashamed to admit it haha. So no worries Mom, I'm not going to starve.
Exercise time was good yesterday! I ran the track for a bit and did some strength training. Today I might play some volleyball with my zone or some four square haha. I might save the super rigorous exercise until I get into the field and can do it in the morning...gym is right before lunch every day here and I hate having to shower twice/apply makeup/deal with hair/get dressed in less than 30 minutes. There are a bunch of Elders who play basketball and I wish I could play with them but we're not allowed to. Oh well!(:
Okay you guys, seriously, I think I met someone who was my best friend up in Heaven haha. Her name is Sister Lapoint. She is my Sister Training Leader, and from the first day, I just sort of new that she was someone I could count on. She has been so loving and supportive to all of us, but especially to me. We have had a really similar experience with the Atonement and we have really similar personalities. Last night during down time (9:25 to 10) we spent the entire time talking about life and about the struggles of sometimes feeling like you're not good enough or worthy enough to be here. I know that sounds funny but it is something I was struggling with the second day. Almost all the girls that I've talked to have been really active/planned on a mission their whole lives. It's awesome and I've learned a lot from their knowledge of this gospel, but it's hard to not feel inadequate in comparison. I know I'm worthy and have made everything right, Satan just uses the things I'm already insecure about against me. I didn't tell anyone I was feeling that way, but word for word last night Sister Lapoint expressed to me that that was how she felt when she first came here. I wanted to scream and hug her (and I did). I was so thankful I found somebody who gets what that feels like. I'm really praying that I will be able to keep those thoughts out of my head and hoping that Conference will provide me with some peace of mind.
Today has been AWESOME. Oh my goodness that Spirit was so strong. So first of all, last night we met our Branch President and his Counselors. We had a zone testimony meeting and when it was my turn (I was very last) I bore my testimony, and I felt so good and so sure of what I was saying. I know that it was the Spirit helping me, otherwise I probably would have stood there and cried. Then today we had class for 3 1/2 hours and I'm not joking it felt like five minutes. We were so immersed in the gospel study and companionship teaching, the time flew by. We had a great experience when teaching. Sis. Waters got the impression to share an analogy about God's blessings with our "investigator", and it was totally the Spirit prompting her and it was so amazing and cool. We had planned something totally different but she followed what God was telling her to say and it was WAY better. I'm thankful for a companion who follows those feelings. Everyone in the room was like woah, Revelation hahah. I started crying today when we were reading in 2 Nephi 31!!!! That's so crazy that you told me to read there. Just all the promises and blessing and love from God, and all we have to do is repent and come unto Him. We are so blessed to have that knowledge and that opportunity. I'm just so thankful. One of my teachers, Brother Blair, said something the first day that I thought was amazing. "You give people the opportunity to live life the way it is meant to be lived,". I needed to hear that. We have such a huge responsibility, and we need to take it seriously and know that GOD TRUSTS US. He trusts us to bring His children back to Him. He knows that we can do it and we need to believe that we can too. I am starting to feel my confidence "wax strong in the presence of God". The Spirit is so natural here, it's always around, sometimes it's hard to really feel it. Today, I really felt it. And I'm so happy about that(: 
Sister Lapoint gave me the sweetest note today. It was basically telling me she loved me and that I deserve to be here because I am good enough. It was an answer to my prayers(:
Anyways, I haven't seen Melinda!! I've been soooo busy. Our schedules are seriously ridiculous in the best way haha. So, as far as CO stuff, that all sounds great(: you're the best. Do you think you could send me some all natural Melatonin? I have been having so much trouble sleeping, just cause my brain won't shut off haha. I was awake at 2 last night thinking about what I wanted to teach Sam on Monday (investigator). It's just crazy how much you think and care about people here. I love all the people I've met. 
So all in all, an amazing time so far at the MTC. Exhausting, spiritually intense, tiring, but absolutely amazing(:
I love you all so much. I miss you dearly but I can't imagine being anywhere else. 
I'll email you next week and try and send pictures either next week or the week after!
Be good, be happy, and thank God for everything you have. He's the reason. 

Love, Sister Allen

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sister Sarah Anne Allen entered the MTC today!!  She will be there for about two weeks. She will be serving in the Fort Collins, Colorado mission for 18 months for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  More posts to come as we get her emails!