Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 8: "Change is Hard. But Good."

Well, it's official, I will be having my very first transfer tomorrow! I can honestly say that I am sad about it, but I know that the Lord is doing this for my growth and I just need to trust in Him. I will be going to Longmont and my companion Sis. Metzger is going to be an STL in Greeley! I'm so excited for her but will miss her terribly, so it's a bittersweet thing for sure.
                             *This is Sister Metzger and I and our friend Bryan Burke (banana ice cream guy) 

- This week was great. Honestly, I feel like I learned so much and I'm really thankful for that. Last Monday, we had the opportunity to go and help a girl named Ash in our ward. She has endometriosis, and she had just gotten out of the E.R. She is honestly one of the most beautiful people I've ever met, inside and out. We went over and helped her get her apartment clean and organized and then we went and helped her get groceries/make her dinner. She gets faint and dizzy really easily, and she has a cute little dog named Pippin (yes, like Lord of the Rings!!) that is in training to be her help dog. Anyways, I hadn't really gotten to know her very well because her endo makes it hard for her to make it to church. We got to spend a few hours with her that day and she totally inspired me. She is so positive! Even though she doesn't feel good most of the time, she is just so happy and nice. I haven't been feeling the greatest the last couple of weeks, and I think I was letting it get me down a little bit. Seeing her example just really made me step back and consider my attitude and the changes I needed to make. I was so glad I got to spend that time with her, and even though she probably didn't even realize it, her outlook really helped me change mine(:
                                                                  *Me, Ash, Pippin :) and Sister Metzger

- On Tuesday, we got to do time. I love getting to watch the different messages and videos, they are really so inspiring! Something that I really loved that was in one of the videos was that "What we share reflects who we are,". It is so very true. I know that the Lord has been blessing me a lot lately with helping me be more bold and courageous in inviting people to come unto Christ. I was able to meet my goal of handing out two copies of the Book of Mormon each day last week (we actually ran out of copies haha). And then I started handing out pamphlets(: It was awesome to see how some people reacted. Their faces just lit up. This gospel is something to be excited about! It is good news. We need to share it with that kind of an attitude because it really does make all the difference. When we share our happiness with others, they will feel cared about, and they will be way more willing to listen.

*This is our friend Rob(: He's disabled and we played Book of Mormon jeopardy with him every Sat.
- Wednesday was so BUSY! It was so awesome. We had seven lessons and we were able to street contact. Then, at the end of the day, we were doing service for Ash again and we ran into a guy named Z____. He recognized our name tags and freaked out (in a good way). He explained to us that all his family is LDS and that they love the Sisters. He said that he is doing his own thing right now but that it's awesome that we're out here. We talked for a little bit, and he asked me how I ended up on a mission. I was able to talk about my understanding of God's love and how it was exactly what I was searching for in my time away from the church, I just didn't know it. I felt the Spirit so strongly when I explained my feelings about the gospel to him. After that, we parted ways and we haven't seen him since. I don't know if he will ever decide to come back to the church, but I'm thankful that I was able to meet him and share my feelings about how life-changing a relationship with our Heavenly Father can be.
                                                                    *This is us with our friend Sarabeth! :)
- On Thursday, we had a really fun Thanksgiving activity. Our friend Diana invited her inactive friend N_______ to come, and he did! He came over and sat by us, and we got to talking and it turns out we have a lot in common. We like a lot of the same music and he is super into green living and he's a vegetarian. He's studying environmental engineering at CSU and we talked about that for a while. It was great, and I think it helped him see that missionaries aren't scary and that the YSA ward can be super fun. He told Diana he would love to come to another activity sometime!
                                                        *Here we are with our friends Malorie and Kelsey. :)
- On Friday, we went and had dinner with a member named Jaqueline and her non-member boyfriend J____. They are so cute and just the nicest people. J____ is Catholic, but he has come to church with Jaq the past three Sundays. We've taught him the Plan of Salvation lesson, and we were planning on teaching the Restoration that night. Right before going in the house, Sis. Metzger and I turned to each other and decided that we should share a scripture instead. Alma 26:35-36. When we did, they told us it was so funny we shared that because it is something they have been trying to work on. J___ has been really stressed about things and they both have been trying hard to recognize blessings more so that they can have more joy. I know that we were prompted to share that scripture for a reason, and I'm really thankful that God knows what people need in order to come closer to Him(:
                                                                                     *Our friend Frances! :)
- Saturday was a super busy day. We found out about transfers that day and we also had to move out of our house because our host family had their kids coming into town to stay with them. It was crazy and hectic but also really great. I had been praying that Heavenly Father would help me not to be anxious or stressed about things and I really feel like He is blessing me with a lot of peace and comfort. I'm so thankful that He is aware of me and my feelings, and that He cares about me and loves me enough to help me get through it.
                                     *Me and Sister Metzger and our friend Kat on our hike last week! :)

So, long story short, this week has been crazy! So much change is coming, but I know it is all for a reason and that it will help me become a better person and missionary. I am so thankful that I'll still be close enough to come back for Katie's baptism next week and I'm so glad that I have met so many amazing people here in the YSA. I have come to love the people I have served and even the people I meet on the street, and it's amazing how seeing people the way that God sees them can really change your entire perspective. I'm so happy that I am here, and I know that God has a purpose for me. I know that I can trust in Him, because He will never let me fall. He is the Creator of the entire universe, He is all knowing and all understanding, and He has given me (and all of us) the opportunity to pray to Him whenever we need to. If we have pure intent and we are truly faithful, He will always answer. I know that is true. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Don't forget to give thanks to Him for all that we have. We are truly blessed in this life, and if you ever need a reminder of that, read Alma 26: 35-36(: I love you all so much!!
Love, Sister Allen

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 7: "Continuous Progression"

Hello everyone! I hope you all had the best week ever. It has been soooo cold in Fort Collins and this week was a difficult one, but I feel like I have really grown so much in the past seven days it's insane(: One thing I have learned is that the Lord is refining us for a special purpose every single day. He knows how wonderful we can be, He sees that eternal potential that we have. Any challenges that arrive in our lives are for a reason, and they can grow us and strengthen us in ways that we didn't even know were possible. We just have to approach our struggles with the Lord as our ally, and we will be able to make it through and be better than before once we have overcome them.
- Last Monday, we went on the most beautiful hike with one of our best friends in the ward named Kat. It was freezing but so worth it. I feel so blessed to be serving somewhere so beautiful and I'm so thankful for all of God's creations and the Spirit that I can feel when I'm just out in nature.
- On Tuesday, we had exchanges. I was with Sister Pincock, and she was so sweet. We had a lesson with one of our investigators named J____. We taught her and her member friend Nory the Restoration lesson, and at the end of it the Spirit prompted me to invite her to be baptized. I did and she said yes! It was such an amazing experience and I'm so excited for her. I'm so thankful that God gave me the confidence I needed to invite her, because I know I couldn't have done it by myself.
- Wednesday was a rough day. We got cancelled on by almost everyone that we had appointments with, our car wasn't working, etc. We made the best of it and luckily we were able to stay positive and really feel the Spirit in the lessons that we did have.
- Thursday was one of the best days out here so far. We had our Mission Tour that day and Elder Baxter of the Seventy and his wife came and spoke to us. It was honestly one of the most powerful answers to prayer that I have ever gotten. I have been praying and praying to be able to be more bold, especially when I see people on the street. I have been praying to learn how to be one of those missionaries who can just go up and testify to anyone and everyone. I'm going to share some of the answers and inspiration I got through the Spirit. Sister Baxter said at one point, "Do not be afraid of anything, and have the confidence that you can do anything. The Holy Ghost gives you that confidence,". Then Elder Baxter was speaking and said, "We can have testimonies that are bright and true, we can look people in the eye, pour out our heart, and introduce the feeling of the Spirit. We can bring a feeling of sheer goodness into people's lives simply by sharing our happiness with them. This time is about laying our all out for the Lord,". They then had a return missionary speak to us. He said that his goal was not to be a mediocre missionary. We are all inadequate. The difference between inadequacy and mediocrity is in our effort. When we are actively inviting others to come unto Christ, we are fulfilling our purpose. Elder Baxter then closed and said, "Missionary work success isn't measured by the number of baptisms on a chart, it is measured by how it changes you and makes you a better and everlasting disciple of Christ. How it effects you 6 months, 10 years, and 60 years from now. Your mission shouldn't be the best 18 months of your life. It should be the beginning of the best years of your life. You are being changed, and therefore, you will change the world. Know this that every soul is free, to choose this day what he will be. Christ is infinitely patient with us, and we need to be patient with ourselves,". There were so many amazing things. My favorite thing that he said the entire day was, "For things to change, I have to change. For things to get better, I have to get better,". That's when I realized that if I want to be more bold, I have to change. I have to set goals to become more bold. So that night, I told Sis. Metzger we should walk to dinner, and on the way we each have to hand out one Book of Mormon and bear our testimony to someone on the street. We were both able to do it! I felt this overwhelming happiness afterwards, and it wasn't scary or weird. It was great to share the gospel with a complete stranger.
- District meeting on Friday was awesome. Elder Sondrup talked about what we felt like the Holy Ghost invited us to do after hearing what Elder Baxter had to say. He gave us time to think about it and then helped us write up goals in order to follow through on those invitations of the Spirit. When the Spirit prompts us to do something, do we take it seriously? I know there are sometimes I feel prompted and I'm like yeah that's a good idea, I'll write that down and do it later. And then it never gets done and I miss out on an opportunity to share God's love and bless someone else. I now have a goal of giving out two copies of the Book of Mormon every single day and bearing testimony of God's love when I do. I've been able to do it for the past few days. There have been times that Sister Metzger and I have walked up and down the streets of Old Towne for a couple of hours in the 8 degree weather until we find people who will accept what we have to say. We pray every time before we go do street contacting, and I know that the Lord helps us find those who need His word in their lives. The other day, one of the men I approached told me that he was Agnostic but that he was searching for religion. He was studying Islam but didn't like certain aspects of it. I was able to bear a bold testimony of The Book of Mormon and of the power of prayer in helping us find the answers our hearts are searching for. He agreed to read  and pray about it and it was such a testament to me that God really is preparing so many people that we pass by on the street every single day. We just have to develop the courage and the strength to share our happiness.
- Saturday was a really eye opening day. I've realized that being a missionary in the YSA means also dealing with a lot of the drama in the YSA. My patience was definitely being tested and I was having some negative thoughts about others. I was praying that during personal study, I would have some personal revelation on how to handle things. I was reading in Jacob about 15 minutes later and what do you know, it's the chapter about how the Nephites are judging the Lamanites for being wicked, and in doing so they are just as wicked because they are breaking the second great commandment (love your neighbor) among some other things. It made me realize that we have to genuinely love people, no matter what, because we have to see people the way God does in order to have His Spirit to be with us. It really helped me develop a new sense of patience and understanding for people, and it's a moment I won't ever forget.
- Church was great yesterday. We had an amazing Ward Conference and the Spirit was so strong. We had a lesson with our investigator K____ and she said the sweetest thing. We asked her if her friends were going to come to Colorado for her baptism on the 6th and she said, "Honestly I don't really care, I just want to make sure that you two are there,". My heart pretty much melted(: I just love her so much and I'm so glad that God allowed me to be a part of her journey to grow closer to Him.
So, basically this week was me learning how to be a better disciple of Christ in every way possible. A quote that I really love is, "Don't let your mission change you, because then when you go home you'll go back to being the same way you were before. Let the Atonement change you, because then you will be changed forever,". As I am learning to apply the Atonement more and more in my every day life, as I am repenting and praying for more charity and more love and more patience, as I am actively seeking after the blessings and lessons that God has for me, I am becoming better. I am changing. I am progressing. And I know that God has a plan of happiness specifically designed for me, that I can fulfill as I continue to grow through Him and trust in Him. I know that He has a plan for each of you, and that if you will pray to Him every day sincerely, He will help guide you to the people and the places that you need in order to be the best disciple you can be. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!
Love, Sister Allen

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 6: "His Arm Is Outstretched."

Hi everyone!(: I hope you had a great week. It just started snowing here in Fort Collins and it is freezing! It's supposed to get below 0 this week....can't wait haha. Something I am realizing is that it's hard to be a missionary during the holidays. Especially in YSA. Everyone is making plans to go home and see their family for Thanksgiving and Christmas and you can't help but feel a little homesick. Thankfully, I have a wonderful family here in my mission and in the ward, and an amazing family supporting me from back home! I know that even on the hard days, God is watching out for me and giving me little miracles and blessings to sustain my positive attitude while I'm away(:
- This week has been awesome in every single way. On Tuesday, our investigator K_____ said that she got an answer about her baptismal date. We're looking at December 6th (the week after Thanksgiving) and we couldn't be more excited for her. She has the happiest and brightest Spirit and I'm just so thrilled that she feels the desire to come closer to Heavenly Father. Then, that night, we had a lesson with one of our members named Nory. She is so nice and is preparing to serve a mission. She has a friend named J_____ (who HATED the church) who has been coming to church/activities with her. She is really sweet and has said that people are so nice in our church. She finally agreed to do a lesson with us and Nory, and it went so amazing! She and Nory are now reading the Book of Mormon together every day and we are so excited for that progress that she is making.

- On Wednesday we went tabling on campus again. We had some really amazing conversations with a few different people, and we talked with one guy for two hours about the gospel. It was a really great experience and we are hoping to hear from some of them soon. God has a specific time for everyone, and we are just praying that now is the time for at least one of them to open their hearts to Him. Also, we saw a squirrel eating a Poptart. It was possibly the cutest/funniest thing ever and yes, I got pictures.

- On Thursday, we had dinner with the Briscoe's. Their daughter Diana is so awesome and such a good member missionary. She just got home a few months ago from her mission to Denmark and her family is so cool. They have such a love of God and each other and it's so awesome to see. Diana's sister, E____, is inactive. I have a really soft spot in my heart for her. She is so talented and has such divine potential, I have this feeling that she will come back, and I'm just praying that it will happen soon. I feel like she is in a similar place with her faith that I was in a year and a half ago, and I know the happiness that the light of the gospel can bring to her.
- Friday was a harder day. We had a lot of appointments cancel and neither of us felt very good. We kept working though and eventually, we got an appointment with a former investigator named C________. She has committed to baptism before in the past but something always gets in the way. We are meeting with her on Wednesday and hoping to help her open up about what it is that's bothering her. Later that night, we spent time with our friend Frances from the ward. She is so awesome and totally brightened our spirits. I'm thankful that we have people like her here. We went to a little coffee place to get hot cocoa with her and I saw this quote that said, "Find something you are passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it,". I really loved that. This gospel is meant to be something that we feel happy and interested about. We need to immerse ourselves in learning and growing and it can help us find things in this life (talents, blessings, interests, etc.) that we didn't even know we had!(: 
- Saturday was by far one of the best days I have had so far. We woke up and Sister Metzger really was not feeling good. We studied and prayed and went to do service at the Food Bank (we go there every Saturday from 12 to 2:30). When we got there, we said a prayer in the car before going in. I prayed for someone to notice the Light of Christ in us that day (we aren't allowed to talk about the gospel during service). When we were there, one of the workers named R____ came up and said, "There is something so happy and joyful about you. You just have this light and this countenance that makes other people happy too. I think it's something with your faith. We are really thankful that you volunteer here,". It was such an answer to prayers. Then, we had this huge bag of candy. J___ said that she thought we should save it, but I had this feeling I should give it to a family. Lots of families came through, and then I saw this dad with his son and daughter and got a huge prompting to give it to them. When I did, he looked so happy and said "Thank you so much! My kids were sick on Halloween and didn't get to go trick or treating!". It was so cool and I am so thankful the Lord prompts us with little things to help our fellow brothers and sisters(: Later, we went to a member named Bryan Burke's house for dinner with our friend Loryn from the ward. She's like the older sister I've never had. Bryan let us go see all his animals (he has miniature donkeys you guys.....I have pictures). He's a vegetarian and he prepared an amazing vegan salad and dressing, made this fresh squeezed juice, lentil soup, and then...he made BANANA ICE CREAM. Mom, you know why this is such a big deal haha. It was like being home and it was so delicious. Then, on the way back to the institute, Loryn, Sis. Metzger, and I all sang Frozen and Tangled and it was wonderful. It was a much needed day of happiness and blessings and I'm so thankful for God and his hand in my life.

- Today in my studies, I was reading in 2nd Nephi Chapter 28 and I had some really powerful revelation. Satan is so clever in the way that he pulls our Spirits away from God. It is a gradual descent, he makes things seem fun and exciting and empowering. As we fall with him as our guide, our sensitivity to God's light is dulled. We fall into an apathetic or prideful mindset. Once Satan gets us to the point where we are so far away from the light that our Spirits are deadened, he slams the cell door shut using the guilt that we feel from our iniquities and he binds us with the chains of temptation and addiction. He can do this all without us even realizing it's happening, and then he wants to keep us there, making it seem like there is no escape. But I know with a surety in my heart, that even those who are bound by him, those who have denied God and pulled away voluntarily from His light and His truth, still have an opportunity to come out of that horrible place. In verse 32 it says, "Nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long,". He never, ever, gives up on us. Not even if we have denied His outstretched arm a thousand times before. Our Heavenly Father loves us and will be there for us throughout all eternity, to help pick us up and get us back to where we can see the light and move towards it.

I am so thankful for God, so thankful for eternal progression, and so thankful for this work. I love you all and hope you can recognize God's helping hand in your lives this week!
Love, Sister Allen

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 5: Joy is Living! (:

Hey everyone! I hope you all had an amazing week, because I sure did. I seriously am so happy out here. Even on days when people cancel or slam the door in our face, I just am so glad that I have this opportunity. I keep having experiences that testify to me that I am here for a reason, and I'm so thankful that the Lord gives me those feelings of confirmation and peace.

- We spent a lot of time with members this week. Teaching lessons and just being there to listen when people needed someone to talk to. My heart is so full of love for the people here in the YSA ward. They really have become like family to me and I am so thankful that they feel comfortable opening up to us. Through teaching members, we have gained so many potential investigators! It's amazing because when the members trust you, they feel more comfortable bringing their friends to you to be taught. We have some appointments set up with people this week and we are so excited to meet them and help answer their questions/tell them all about Christ and how great the gospel is.

- Something I have been praying for a lot is patience. With myself, with others, just being able to be patient in general. I feel like this week, my patience was tested multiple times, and with God's help I was able to handle situations way better than I normally would. It's crazy to see how much relying on the Lord in ALL things really can help you overcome some of your most stubborn habits. I'm thankful that I'm growing and changing every day here, even though it's hard sometimes.
- There is an elder here named Elder Sondrup. I really look up to him a lot. He has been out for about 8 months and he's a really good example of the kind of missionary I aspire to be. He testifies so boldly! Which is something I need to work on. Sometimes it's just hard to walk up to random people and be like "Hey, let me tell you about something that changed my life,". It get's easier every day though, especially now that I am seeing people through the Lord's perspective. He sees everyone's potential, no matter how lost. I know that to be true with all my heart, and I know that it's because of Him that I see myself in a much more positive light now.
- Halloween was SO fun. We had a trainer's meeting that morning and I finally got to see Meet The Mormons. To anyone who hasn't seen it, GO. It is so worth it. It was so touching and really inspiring. Something that was said in the movie that I really loved was "Kindness can sustain a renewal of hope,". Sometimes, I think we tell ourselves we are too busy, too stressed, or too frustrated to show genuine kindness to others. Kindness doesn't need to come wrapped in a bow or baked at 350. Kindness can come simply from smiling at someone, holding the door, or making a short phone call. We are all God's children, and we all need to support each other and lift each other up. Differences do not matter. Christ loves each of us despite our circumstance and He knows that each one of us has an important part to play. We need to recognize that in each other and be more willing to share our light on days when someone is feeling surrounded by darkness. We had to be in by 6 on Halloween, so we went to Whole Foods on our way home to grab a couple things for dinner and guess what....THEY HAD BUTTER BEER. Like, Harry Potter certified Flying Cauldron Non-Alcoholic (Don't worry everyone) Butter Beer. It was vegan and gluten free and DELICIOUS. Anyone who knows how much I love Harry Potter will understand why this is such a big deal haha.

- Sunday was one of the best days I've had out here so far. Fast and testimony meeting was AMAZING. There was a poem shared in one of the testimonies that I loved. It's God communicating with a person and it goes like this: "Come, come to the edge," He said. "No Lord, I am afraid,". "Come, come to the edge," He said. I finally came to edge. He pushed me off. And I flew.
I just love everything about that. The Lord beckons us to the edge of our comfort zones, and then He pushes us off. God is a God of progression, and if we aren't stretching and growing, we aren't progressing. We need to trust Him, we need to understand that He knows way more than we do and He needs us for specific purposes. We need to recognize that joy is living. The fact that we are here means we chose God. We chose His plan for us. And we need to do all we can to climb homeward to Him, and to help others with their climb in the process.
After church we met with our investigator M_____ and her friend E____ (who is a recent convert that we just ADORE, she's so wonderful). I had never met her before but she had texted us and said she wanted to talk to us without her boyfriend (he's a member) there. We were kind of nervous, we thought she was going to tell us she didn't want to investigate anymore. Instead, she expressed to us that she was scared of baptism because the missionaries invited her to be baptized on the very first lesson. She expressed concerns and questions about the priesthood, sacrament, and baptism and I was nervous and didn't really know what to say. And then all of a sudden words started coming out of my mouth. It was the coolest experience ever. I don't even remember all that I said, but I do remember seeing the tears of happiness in her eyes. That is something I will never forget. I know that the Lord was speaking to her through me. I know that He needed her to hear those things, and I am so thankful that I was able to be that vessel for Him. She is going to continue meeting with us and wants to be a member of the church. I was so overwhelmed with happiness.
I know that God is in the details of our lives. I know that we should feel happiness simply because we are living. We exist and we have been given so many beautiful things in this life, we just need to remember that. We need to look around, at our families, our friends, the sunrises and sunsets, and realize that we are here to be happy and to gain blessings through our righteousness. I am trying to adopt this attitude of gratitude, and I would challenge all of you to try for it too(: I love you all so much and am so thankful for all of your support! Have a great week.

Love, Sister Allen