Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 12: "He Is The Gift"(:

Merry Christmas everybody!(: Okay, anyone who knows me knows that Christmas time is pretty much my favorite time of the year. It's even better when it's Christmas time and you are a missionary! I love being out here during the holiday season. I love how people open their hearts and their doors more to hearing about our Savior. Also, thank you Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Donna, Grandma and Papa, and Nana and Mike for the Christmas packages. I am so blessed to have such loving people supporting me while I'm out here(:

This whole week has been amazing. During time on Tuesday, I received a lot of really great inspiration from some talks I read. Something that I know of a surety is that the Lord made us all who we are for a reason. We are all so individual and special, with different talents and gifts, because that is who He needs us to be. A quote that I really like is, "God didn't send us to earth just to blend in. We are here to share what makes us unique,". I hope we can all remember that, and share the gifts that Heavenly Father has given us with everyone we come in contact with(: It is one of the many ways we can share the light of Christ with others. A talk that I really love is called Lord, Is It I? by President Uchtdorf. It is all about judging other people less and looking inward at the things that we ourselves need to change. I would recommend that talk to anyone and everyone, and invite all of you to heed the counsel that he provides. It really is inspired. It has helped me see myself more clearly, and it has allowed me to receive blessings and progress in ways that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. We went to the Relief Society Christmas Party later on, and it was so much fun! Sister Engstrom (The Engstrom's are one of my favorite families here. They are so awesome, and their son Hunter is a really big Zelda fan, so we're pretty much best friends.) came up to us and said that her kids loved having us over for dinner and wanted to know when we could come back. She also said that she told all her family on Facebook that they need to start having their Sister Missionaries over for dinner because they are awesome. It made me feel so good to know that families really do love the Spirit and happiness that we strive to bring into their homes(: And we love the Spirit and happiness that we can feel when we are with members as well.

On Wednesday we had Zone Meeting. It was honestly one of the greatest meetings I've been to so far on my mission. It was all about developing Christ-like attributes. So many things that I needed to hear were said and I know that the Lord personally witnessed to me that He is watching out for me through many of the lessons that were taught. Something that was said that I really loved was, "Having faith means that you truly believe that Christ loves you,". Our relationship with our Savior, really understanding the plan He has for us and the love and grace that He gives to each and every one of us, is so important to our well being and overall happiness. It has been so amazing to feel that love and that unity between He and I growing as I have been diligently seeking Him. And I know that each of us can have that growth when we truly desire it(: Later that day, we got a car! Which is going to make our night appointments much easier. We are still planning on walking during the day on all the days where the weather is nice. It's really been beautiful here, especially for December. We went and visited a lady named J_______ in the evening. She is so sweet and has such strong faith. She is going through a lot of hard things right now, and has a crazy schedule, but we were able to give her some Mormon Messages to watch and we are hoping to see her again soon. She says that she just feels like crying all the time, and that really broke my heart because I remember what that feels like. I know that the knowledge of Christ's Atonement and love is something that can heal that though, and I'm excited to get to share that more fully with her.

Thursday was a beautiful day. We got to do service at the YMCA. I love when we get to do service in the community. It makes me feel so good(: Then we went and visited an older lady in the ward named Elisabeth Wright. She is so amazing! She is in her 90's and she is from Germany. She has so many amazing stories to tell (and a really impressive collection of Nutcrackers and Santa's). We were able to listen to her conversion story, how she met her husband (he passed away about 40 years ago), and some of her favorite Christmas traditions. We were able to share an uplifting scripture with her and talk about some of our favorite things about the Savior. Hearing about her life, her struggles, and how she is still so faithful and trusting of the Lord, was really such a great example to me. She could look at life and feel loneliness, but instead, she looks at life with excitement, knowing that her Savior is her constant companion and that her husband is waiting for her and right by her side each and every day. I want to be like that when I am older. We had a lesson with a new investigator named D_____ that night. His girlfriend decided to sit in on the lesson, and they both seemed very interested. They agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon together and to pray about it. It was wonderful seeing how certain aspects of the message, especially the fact that we can receive personal revelation, really stuck out to them and made them want to know more.

This is me, Sister Waite (in the middle, she is our STL and she's so awesome), and Hermana Ferrell. Who is one of my favorite people on this planet. We are such kindred spirits and she has been a huge blessing to me while I've been out here(: I really do think that we will be best friends long after our missions.

On Friday, I had an amazing time during personal study. Something that Elder Wirthlin said, "No matter our age, circumstance, or ability, each one of us can create something remarkable of this life,", really stuck out to me. It is so true. Through praying to be able to appreciate our lives, through seeking greater spiritual knowledge and growth, and through realizing our own potential as Children of a loving God, we can have the most amazing life. A life that is abundant and allows us to appreciate the now. We will still face the hard things, but we can get through them with His help and know that it is possible to still find joy and spiritual growth when things are difficult. This gospel is joy. It creates endless opportunities for us(: I got such a sweet package from my parents after studies. It had the cutest stocking and a really beautiful picture of the Savior. I love any picture where He is shown smiling, because that's how I picture Him! We had dinner with the Chirino's family. They are SO amazing. They are both converts to the church and return missionaries and they have five kids. The Spirit in their home was so strong, and it was like a breath of fresh air when we walked in. Sometimes, after a day where you have some disheartening experiences, the love and joy that is felt in a members home is all you need to get motivated again. We had a lesson with F______ after that, and we invited the Bartholomew's to come with us. The lesson went so wonderfully! F______ really is such an amazing man, with so much love for his son and for the gospel. It's been amazing to see his understanding growing and his conversion to the Lord deepen as time goes by. A member of the ward gave him a Gospel Principles book and he is already half way through it haha. I told him at the end of our lesson that he seemed happier and that he had a light about him. He said that he could feel that too, and that he has noticed that he has just felt so much better lately. He said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the best thing that has happened to him since coming to Longmont(: That brought tears to my eyes.

Saturday was really awesome. We got to go and have a lesson with the Paul's. Brother P____ is a member but his wife, P____, isn't. They aren't in our area anymore, but Sis. DeFord taught them when she served here 8 months ago, and so she got permission for us to go and have one lesson with them. It was really really special. I'm so thankful that I got to have that experience. P____ has so much faith. She knows in her head that the church is true, but she just needs that conviction in her heart. We know that it will happen as she diligently studies the word of God and strives to be closer to the Savior. Everything that is unfair about life is made better through Christ. We were able to testify that reading the scriptures and praying really do make a difference, and that we know that she will be able to receive that answer as she and B___ do those things together. We also invited them to meet with the Elder's that are serving in their ward and they said that they would(: I have only met them once, but the P____'s will always have a special place in my heart. I can see how close they are to the happiness that the gospel can bring, and I can't wait for them to experience it in it's fullness. We had dinner at the Prestwich's, and we invited F____ and A____  to come. It was really nice getting to talk with him and spend time with the Prestwich family.

Our Christmas program was yesterday! We are part of the Ward Choir, so we got to perform some songs for it. The happy spirit that was present during the entire sacrament meeting was so beautiful. It was a really amazing day, all about sharing the gift of the Savior with everyone. I love how music can truly touch the hearts of so many people, especially music about the sacrifice and the love that our Savior has for us. In Relief Society, we talked about having non-judgmental and unconditional love for everyone. I couldn't help but think of my own parents and my ward back home. I truly felt that pure love from so many people when I was making some big changes in my life. I receive emails and letters from people expressing that love even still. I feel so blessed to have that. I know that it has truly helped me become a more Christ-like person. Later, we had a Live Nativity outside. We (the choir) performed a few different songs as the story of Jesus's birth was told. It was a really amazing program. One song, Guard Him Joseph, makes me cry. Every. Time. It's so sweet and the lyrics are beautiful. It was a complete miracle too, because about ten minutes after everything was finished and put away, it started pouring rain! There was no way we could have had the Nativity in that kind of weather, but it held off long enough for us to finish(: Also, something really crazy happened. The Bailey's, a family in our ward, were traveling and they were at a hotel. They met the Redmond's there!(: They delivered me a hug from them (which made me cry). I just thought that was so cool haha.

Another great thing that happened this week: The Seyfi's oldest daughter (and one of my best friends) Suzanne got married! I will miss having her around the house, but I'm so happy for her!(: Also, we got to meet their other daughter Selina and her husband Mitch. They are such wonderful people.

So this week has been a great one. Really. I am so excited for the upcoming opportunities, so thankful for the Lord's hand in my life, and can't wait for Christmas!(: Seeing my family is definitely going to be a blessing. I know that the Lord has placed us in the families we are in for a reason. I'm so thankful that I have such amazing parents and siblings, who love me so much and who really do keep me going when things are difficult. I'm so thankful that I get to have eternity with them. I hope you all get to spend time with your family this Christmas, and I hope that no matter where you are and who you're with, you remember that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you dearly and a Savior gave his own life for you. That kind of love is something that can be felt so strongly, not only this time of year, but all the time(: I love you all! Merry Christmas everyone!

Love, Sister Allen

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 11: "For God So Loved The World" (:

Hello everybody!(: I just want to let all of you know how much I love and appreciate you. Honestly, hearing from you and knowing that I have the support of so many wonderful people while I am out here is so uplifting and wonderful. I feel very blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

                                  *This is us with Christmas lights/plants that a less active gave us.  :)

Okay, so this week was full of ups and downs. We literally had almost every appointment that we planned cancel on us and we dealt with some grumpy people while tracting/street contacting. It was crazy. And then we also had some very wonderful blessings. It is so important to push through the hard times out here, because there is always a tender mercy or an opportunity to soften someone's heart just around the corner.

- On Monday, we had a really awesome FHE with a family in our ward. We just stopped by because we were in the neighborhood, and we were able to share He Is The Gift with them. It was so sweet because they had been trying to watch the Christmas Devotional from the night before but it wasn't working, so they were needing something else to do for FHE. They're son said, "It's like the missionaries were sent to us from God so that we could do FHE,". Cutest. Thing. Ever.

- On Tuesday, we stopped by to see if we could catch one of our potential investigators named S____ at home. We were just about to knock when he came walking up the steps to the apartment complex. We were able to talk to him about whether or not he'd read the Book of Mormon, and then he asked us for some specific passages to read so that we could discuss them the next time we come by(: Later that night, we spent time with the W________'s family. She is this sweet French lady with three little kids, and she honestly has the kindest heart. We were able to share the He Is The Gift video with her, and the Spirit that was there as she read the words aloud to her children was honestly so special. I really admire her and the fact that even though she has faced many difficult trials lately, she has relied on the Lord and allowed her faith to help her through them. She is such a good example to me.

- Wednesday was one of the days that almost all our appointments cancelled. We were able to go meet with some awesome families though. We had dinner with the Baker's (Bro. Baker is our Ward Mission Leader, and he is so awesome and involved in the work that we are doing. It's great.) and it was so fun to get to know them better and to share the He Is The Gift message. I really do love it so much. I love that it is giving all of us the opportunity to refocus Christmas back onto the Savior. It can be so easy to get distracted during this time of year. And it's not that the distractions are bad things. Giving gifts, going places, doing things with family, baking, etc. are all really great, but it does take away from the main reason for the season. I love that the video doesn't have any commentary either. The music and the words on the screen really allow for a time of personal reflection and invite the Spirit into the atmosphere. If you haven't seen the video yet, I would invite all of you to go watch it(:

- Thursday was such an uplifting and fantastic day. We had our Zone Christmas Devotional, and it was beautiful. Sis. DeFord and I sang Little Drummer Boy, and a bunch of other people performed musical numbers also and the missionaries who are leaving this transfer got to bear their departing testimonies. Something I really loved that someone said was, "Even when trials may arise, and we have to partake of the bitter cup, we can't let it make us bitter,". I thought that was so awesome, and something that I strive to remember on days where it's hard. It's funny, because sometimes things will happen during the day and I'm like, "Well that was just terrible,". Then, something wonderful will happen, and when I'm writing in my journal at the end of the day, I can't even remember the bleh stuff because there is just so much good!(: President and Sister Brown talked a lot about how this time of year is a time to remember all the things that are important to you. I was really thinking about that, and here are the things that are most important to me(: The gospel. The fact that it is such an active part of my life now, in a way that I never thought it could be. The fact that I have a knowledge that I have a loving Heavenly Father who truly does know me and love me more than I can even comprehend. The fact that Jesus Christ suffered for me, so that He could be empathetic, so that He could truly understand what I feel when no one else does. Because of Him, I have been able to feel the peace and the happiness that comes when burdens of guilt and sadness are lifted. I am so thankful that God has a Plan of Happiness for our lives. I am thankful that He has a plan for those who pass on from this life, that He gives them opportunities to draw closer to Him even when they are no longer here with us. He gives us as many chances as He possibly can, because He loves us that much. I am so thankful that the plan He has allows me to be with my family forever. I love my family. They are so important to me, and the strength and love in our relationships now are something that I will be eternally thankful for. Being away from them, especially now, is hard. However, I know that I am away from my family for 18 months so that I can help other families be together for eternity(: It is so worth it. I am so thankful for the people that the Lord has put into my life as friends and support when I am in need. I know that God is watching out for me, and for all of us, and that He is always going to be there no matter what. And that is such a blessing. After the devotional, we were given packages and letters from people. I got an amazing letter from my whole family, with their testimonies written inside. It was the sweetest gift I've ever received, and it meant so much to me(: I also got a wonderful Christmas package from my Papa and Grandma! And my family also. Thank you all so much for the snacks, socks, scarves, and other things that were tucked in there with the presents. My gifts are all sitting under the tree at the Seyfi's, I'm practicing patience and waiting until Christmas to open them haha.

                                                    *Us with our Christmas presents from the zone leaders! :)

- Friday was such an amazing day. We had dinner with a lady in our ward named Sister Morrison. She is so cute. Her husband passed away not too long ago. They had both been inactive for a long time, but before he passed they were both able to come back to church and get sealed in the temple to one another(: She took us out to eat at this Mexican restaurant and she invited her non-member grandson E____ to come with us. She told us he was a little hesitant but that he was going to come anyways. We had such an amazing time! We had a lot in common, and a lot of our conversation related back to the gospel and the fact that it really does give people a purpose in life. After dinner, we went back to her house and taught a lesson on prayer and deepening conversion. We were able to talk about the Book of Mormon being a vital part in that and we invited E____ to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He seemed genuinely interested and said he would, so we gave him a copy. Sister Morrison looked so happy!(: After that, we had a lesson with our investigator named F______. We had a recently returned sister missionary named Nikki come to the lesson with us. She is so sweet and so willing to participate in teaching and testifying. Before our lesson with F____, during planning, Sister DeFord and I really talked about what we wanted to teach him specifically in the Plan of Salvation. We decided to only go up to the Atonement, and then teach the second half of the lesson the next time we saw him. We were also sort of praying that his 18 month old would be asleep when we got there so that F_____ could really focus on the lesson, and guess what? He was!(: As we were teaching, the Spirit was so strong. We were able to teach, testify, and have him read some scriptures. The smile that spread over his face as we answered his questions and told him of the plan that God has for us was so brilliant. Then, as we talked about baptism in relation to the Atonement, I invited him to be baptized on January 17th. He smiled huge and said, "That's like a month away! Of course! Yes, yes I'll be baptized,". It was so sweet, the joy that was shining through him was seriously beautiful. Then, we invited him to attend church on Sunday. He said he would be there, but he would need a ride because he WALKED to the Christmas party. We were shocked, and thought it was amazing that he was that dedicated to make it there that he would walk all that way with A______. Nikki offered a ride with her family and it was awesome. At the end of the lesson, Sister DeFord invited him to pray with us there. He said he didn't really know how so we kind of explained it and then he did it. It was such a simple, humble, and wonderful prayer to our Heavenly Father. It really is a moment I will never forget. After the lesson, we went to contact some potential investigators. We were able to set up appointments with all three for this upcoming week! Two of them, D____ and S_____, have been searching to find a place where they can really feel loved and cared about for longer than two weeks. They've been looking for the truth, and it's amazing to me that God put them in our path. I am so incredibly thankful!

                                                                  *Sister DeFord's birthday is the 31st!! :)

- Yesterday, F_____ came to church! All the talks in Sacrament were centered on diligently seeking Christ, and it was such a perfect topic. He told us afterwards that he started crying because he felt so good. It was so sweet. He stayed for all three hours and left with a big smile on his face. I am so excited for him(: We were able to go to practice with the ward choir to perform at the Live Nativity next week. There is a song we're singing that is called Guard Him Joseph. It is so beautiful. It gives me the chills every time and just brings tears to my eyes. I'm really excited to perform it next Sunday. We were also able to attend an Interfaith Choir Christmas Concert last night at our church building. The Stake choir and the Methodist Choir performed some really awesome songs. I love that I can feel the Spirit so fully through music!

Something that I have learned this week, specifically today, is that sometimes trials are lasting. Sometimes our weaknesses are something that stick around, even though we have grown so much. One of my weaknesses is having confidence in myself, and for some reason this morning I was struggling with that. I started my personal study early, and I prayed for a long time for Heavenly Father to help me remember all the great feelings of self-worth and happiness that I am so used to having now. I started reading my scriptures afterwards and was reading in 1 Nephi Chapter 7:11-12. It says, "Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us?...Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him,". Oh my goodness. I definitely cried, and felt so silly. How is it that I forget my worth to the Lord? How is it that I forget all the happiness and joy that has been brought into my life simply by acknowledging the fact that I am His? It was such an amazing reminder and a direct answer to my prayer. We all have worth, every single one of us has an important role to play. Never forget that(: And if you do, read these verses so that Nephi can remind you!

I love you all! Have a great week.

Love, Sister Allen

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 10: "It's A Wonderful Life" (:

Hey Everyone!(: I hope that you all had an amazing week this week and that you are all getting into the spirit of Christmas. I know that I definitely am (and have been since like, October haha). This week has seriously been SO amazing. One of the best weeks I've had on my mission so far.

- So on Monday night, we had dinner with this really great couple named the G______'s. They are so sweet and they have a daughter who is my age. We got to talking about why I was on a mission and I was able to bear my testimony and tell a little bit about my story. As I was doing so, they got teary eyed and told me that their daughter is in that place that I was in a year and a half ago.  We were able to share a comforting message with them and on Christmas they are inviting us over so that we can meet their daughter. I am praying for her every night because I know the joy and the happiness that the gospel can bring into her life. I'm excited to meet her! After that, we had a lesson with Z_____ (the guy who we met while delivering Christmas invitations). It went so wonderfully. He is such an outstanding person, and he said, word for word, "I just don't want to follow something blindly. I want to know for myself that something is true before I do it, you know?". It was such a great moment, and we were able to share with him how Joseph Smith was feeling the exact same way when he went to pray. We were able to give him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read and pray. We have another lesson with him on Tuesday and I can't wait(:

- On Tuesday, we got to go on exchanges. I was able to go on an exchange in Boulder with Hermana Mangum. Meeting her and getting to spend that day with her was honestly such a tender mercy from the Lord. She is so amazing and such a good example to me. We had so much fun together and the lessons that we had were wonderful. We met with a recent convert named B_____ who is preparing to go to the temple. She is so sweet and excited about going to do baptisms, being around her just made me so happy too! I am so thankful that I got to have an opportunity to spend a day with Hermana Mangum before she leaves (she only has a week or so left on her mission), and I know that we'll be friends long after our missions.
This is me and Hermana Mangum on the left and then Hermana Maynard and Sis. DeFord on the right.

- Wednesday was a really great day. We were able to talk with people on the street about the gospel and we had a great district meeting. We ended the day meeting with a sweet older lady named P___. She was inactive for 50 years and just recently came back to church in June. The light and love that I felt in her home as we got to talk with her was so amazing. She is just so happy, and is sharing the gospel with so many of her family members. She has a son who passed away, and she said that she has felt him pushing her to go the temple and do his work for him. That gave me chills. We are so excited to work with her and get her ready to go to the temple. She has such a sweet spirit and is so full of the light of Christ, she reminds me a lot of my Nana(:

- Thursday was truly the greatest day ever. During the day, we went out to finish delivering Christmas invitations. We ran into a couple of guys on the street. We were able to share a little bit about the He Is The Gift message with them and then invited them to the Christmas party. One of them told us that he was really going through a hard time and that our kindness was exactly what he needed(: We then asked if we could come back and share a message with them some time, and they said yes! So we will hopefully be visiting them tomorrow. Then, we ran into this girl named B_______ who we had met before when we'd been walking around. We had gotten her number last time but hadn't gotten a hold of her (it's her mom's cell phone). We couldn't believe that we were seeing her again! We got her address and set up an appointment to meet with her this week. It was so awesome! Then, we saw a guy outside his apartment smoking. So we went up and talked to him of course(: His name is S____ and he is from Illinois. He actually knew quite a bit about the church. We were able to share the message of the Restoration with him, and then asked if we could come back and see him sometime. He works two jobs and attends a different church, but he said that we are always free to stop by if we are in the area because he'd love to learn more. Before we left, I was prompted to give him a Book of Mormon and bear my testimony. I did and he agreed to read and pray about it(: I'm hoping we'll be able to see him again, but I'm glad that we left him with a Book of Mormon, just in case we don't get to. Our last appointment of the night was with a man named F_____. He was a potential that we visited and set up an appointment with. He has an 18 month old little boy named A_____. F_____ is so willing and excited to learn more about the church, he already has his own Book of Mormon that he's been reading! It was so funny, before we began the lesson, A______ was standing by me and he just grabbed my face and kissed me! I didn't know what to do. And then, while Sister DeFord was praying, I felt these little lips kiss me again and I was like "Oh my goodness what do I do what is happening!?" Hahaha. I never thought that I would be able to say that I've been kissed twice on my mission, but it happened. We invited F______ to the Christmas party and were really hoping he'd come.

- Friday was mostly spent weekly planning. We finally got our Area Book updated and all of our Teaching Records made. It feels so nice to have an extremely busy week to look forward to this week and to have everything in order. After we got that done, we went and helped set up for the Ward Christmas Party for a few hours. I found out that the Bailey's have a son who is serving with a guy that I went to high school with! It's crazy how there are all these connections!

- Alright, so Saturday morning at 3 a.m., I rolled over in bed and got hit with the most nauseous and painful feeling in my stomach. I sprinted to the bathroom (after tripping over so many things in the dark, which in hindsight was really hilarious and I can't help but laugh at myself) and was puking until about 5 a.m.. I seriously have never had stomach pains so intense. It was crazy. I was so sad, because the Christmas Party was that day and I was so looking forward to being there. I prayed and prayed that I would feel good enough to go. I laid in bed for a couple hours after that, trying to sleep but not very successfully. By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, I decided that I was going to go still. The pain wasn't as bad as before (which was such a tender mercy) and I didn't feel feverish. I am so glad I got to go. I still felt pretty awful while I was there, and I definitely didn't eat anything or get too close to people, but I got to spend time getting to know a less-active named S_____. She is so amazing and kind, and her non-member husband D_____ was there as well. We really hit it off and we were able to get to know one another better. I'm really excited to start meeting with them(: Also, F_____ came to the party! And he brought A_____. They had such a good time and got to know so many people in the ward. I am so happy he was able to make it. Once we got home, I laid down and couldn't get up because my stomach was in so much pain. I couldn't drink water or eat because the pressure was so intense. It was awful. I was stressed and in tears and asked Brother Seyfi for a Priesthood blessing. He called another member of the ward to come over (Brother Madsen) and they gave me one. Even though the physical pain didn't go away, the emotional stress and worry that I was feeling was immediately calmed as they laid their hands on my head. I knew everything would be fine. Sister DeFord was so sweet, she sat by my bed and read me Christmas stories. After a few hours, I was able to drink water finally. And then eventually apple juice. I was so thankful for that. As I laid in bed ALL day, I was beginning to feel bad because we had such a productive day planned, and now because of me neither of us could do anything. I felt like our good week was ending on a bad note. Then, as I read my scriptures, I was in Mosiah Chapter 9 and it said, "Laman began to grow uneasy, lest by any means my people should wax strong in the land, that they could not overpower them and bring them into bondage,". And that's when I had a realization. We had such an amazing week, and even Saturday was full of so many blessings. The work really is moving forward at a brilliant pace here, so of course Satan is trying to make me feel like my efforts this week weren't enough. Of course he is trying to put a damper on the joy I have been feeling. He knows our weaknesses, and he knows that self-doubt and disappointment is a way to bring those who are waxing strong into bondage. Instead of allowing that to happen, I decided to make a list of all the things that I have to be thankful for. From this week and just from life in general. By the time I was done, my mood had improved and I was feeling so much better(: Suzanne (the Seyfi's daughter who has honestly become like my older sister) told me, "You have to take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of others,". We need to remember not to spread ourselves too thin or get down on ourselves when we can't accomplish everything we planned. As long as we are trying, and our hearts are in the right place, the Lord sees our efforts and appreciates them.

This is us and the Hermana's that serve in the ward with us(: 

                       I love Hermana Ferrell so much. We really are kindred spirits and she is so funny haha.

- Yesterday was great. I woke up feeling a lot better. Still not 100%, but so much better. We were able to listen to the beautiful Christmas Devotional last night. I loved that the focus of President Eyering's talk at the end was all about loving others not only at Christmas time, but all the time. And loving them enough to share the happiness of the gospel with them. I love that the Spirit of Christmas is something that we can feel all year round as we are charitable and loving towards one another. My heart was touched as we sat in the Seyfi's living room and sang the closing hymn together. I am so incredibly thankful that we are living with the Seyfi family. They truly have become my home away from home, and they treat us like their own daughters. I feel extremely blessed to be loved here in almost the same way that I am being loved by those back home(: It is so comforting.
                                      This is a picture that Sis. DeFord took on her super cool camera haha(:

So, this week was awesome. It really was. And today, I am feeling so great. I am so happy that my relationship with my Savior is the main focus of my life. I'm so thankful that I can wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful, because I am the daughter of a King, a loving Heavenly Father who cherishes me and cares about me. I am thankful for the Christmas season and the fact that it brings about this wonderful message of the Savior's birth, and His life, and the fact that He still lives. I hope and pray that we can always remember that He is with us, in all that we go through, and that we can continue to grow our faith in His great sacrifice and Atonement. I know that as we do this, we will become stronger in so many ways, and we will be able to uplift one another. I loved the way D. Todd Christofferson put it last night, "Our experiences, especially the difficult ones, help us learn how to lift and redeem one another,". I pray that we can remember that, not only at this time of year but throughout our entire lives. I love you all so much(: Have a blessed week!

Love, Sister Allen

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 9: "He Really Does Listen" (:

Hello everyone!(: I hope you all had the most wonderful week and Thanksgiving! It really is amazing to have a day full of reflecting on all that we have to be thankful for (and the food is good too).

- Things here in Longmont are wonderful. The weather here was so nice this week, which was awesome because we don't get a car here for another three weeks! Even though walking gets tiring, I LOVE it because we get to talk to everyone that we see on the street. Sis. DeFord and I have a rule that we won't let anyone pass us by without talking to them about the gospel. Plus, we literally sleep so good at night because we are so tired by the end of the day and it's great. The family that we are living with is the Seyfi's. They are seriously so amazing. Some of the most Christ-like and enthusiastic people I have ever met. They have a daughter named Sydney who is serving a mission, and a daughter named Suzanne who is getting married on the 20th. They have some more children too but I can't remember their names right now. They really have made Longmont feel like home and are so involved with us and it's just awesome. I'm so thankful we get to live with them.

- When we came into the area, there wasn't much going on. We were "swept in", but this is actually Sis. DeFord's greeny area! So she knows so much about the people here, which has been really helpful in getting started here. We have spent a lot of time tracting and delivering invitations to people for the Ward Christmas Party. Sis. DeFord is really awesome. She is from Kennewick! Which is so crazy because I never meet people that even know where that is. She was an STL before this and is such a hard worker, so we get along great(: I'm super excited to be serving here with her. The ward here is such a blessing too. We are serving in the Ute Creek Ward, and the people here are just wonderful. They are so inviting and genuinely loving. We spent our Thanksgiving with the Prestwich family. It was so much fun! They had 30+ people (family, friends, missionaries) over for dinner and we all got to talk and laugh and really just have a great time together. Later that night, we went back to the Seyfi's and we had the opportunity to teach three of their non-member friends the Plan of Salvation. They asked lots of questions and seemed really interested. It was so good to meet them and get to share a message of the gospel with them on Thanksgiving(:
*And then that's me and Sister DeFord with Sister Seyfi!(: (who is like my second mom).*

- On Saturday, we had two really awesome experiences! We were walking from appointment to appointment and we had a man drive up to us in his car with the window rolled down. I was kind of nervous at first (we were in a sketchier part of town), but then he asked what we were selling. I love when people ask that because then I can tell them that the gospel is free for anybody haha(: We got talking and ended up giving him a Book of Mormon and our phone number. We also gave him the address of the church building because he said he wanted to start attending church. It was super exciting and crazy that he just randomly drove up, it was a tender mercy for sure. Then, five minutes later, we ran into this couple on the street. We stopped and talked with them and the man, whose nickname was S______, told us that he believes in God but not in organized religion. We asked him if he'd heard of the Book of Mormon and if he'd ever read it. He said he hadn't and never planned to. Just then, I got the overwhelming feeling that I should share my testimony of the Book of Mormon with him. As I did, something in his face changed. It was so amazing to see the hardness in his eyes gradually fade as I testified of it's truthfulness. I then invited him to read it and pray to know for himself if it's true. He accepted it and said he would definitely read it with his wife.

- So I'm not going to lie, this week was rough. I was so homesick, because holiday's are just hard out here. Even though you have amazing families, it's not your family. Even though this sounds so silly, I felt like I had so many other things to pray about (investigators, ward members, less actives) that praying about missing my family would be kind of selfish. I kept putting it off and just sucking it up and dealing with it. And then yesterday, at church, I was very very humbled. The topic in Sacrament meeting was the power of prayer. During one of the talks, it was said that "There is never a time where not praying is the answer. Whenever you feel negativity, about anything at all, even the silliest little thing, get on your knees and pray. We need to cry out for help, to think that our prayers will annoy God or wear Him out is prideful, because that is assuming that we know God's limitations. God has no limitations. Therefore, prayer has no limitations,". I was crying. A lot. It was literally exactly what I needed to here. God wants to hear everything that we have to say. He doesn't care if we've said it before, He doesn't care if it's silly, or selfish, or frustrated. We need to pray to him. Even if we don't have a desire to pray that day for whatever reason, we need to get on our knees and pray to have a desire to pray. When our lives are in disarray, and even when we feel like we have used up all of the grace that God has to offer, we need to pray. Even if we don't feel like it. So I bet you can guess what I did right? As soon as church was over and I had a second to myself, I prayed my heart out. I prayed for the peace and the comfort that I have needed all week long, and guess what? It washed over me like a giant hug. The rest of the day I just couldn't stop smiling, because I knew that my God was right there with me, watching out for me and helping me deal with being away from my family that I love so much. He wants to help us. When we don't pray, we are withholding ourselves from so much happiness and comfort and blessings. Prayer is the key that can open the door to the powers of Heaven. My testimony of that has been continuously strengthened and I know now that no prayer is "not good enough" for our Heavenly Father.

- We had dinner with an amazing family named the G______'s last night. They have three children. A______ is 7, and then they have two boys who are 5 and 3. Sister G______ is a convert to the church and Brother G______ was once inactive. We got to hear both of their stories, and they were truly amazing. Brother G_______ gave the gospel a second chance because of a conversation that he had with his mom, who unconditionally loved him. Sound familiar?(: We were able to share a message with them, and then they asked us if we would be willing to teach the missionary discussions to A_______ before she made the decision to be baptized. I LOVED that. I know that it's something I definitely want to do for my children. They truly want her to know the reasons why baptism is important and have her make the decision based on her knowledge rather than on expectations. I thought it was super neat that they asked us to do that and I'm really excited to teach A_______ the lessons.

- Later last night, we were out delivering the last Christmas Party invitation. We were looking for a man named J______. We knocked on the door and found out that he had moved. The man who answered the door (Z_____) then spoke with us for a bit. We were able to bear testimony of God's love and His restored gospel on the earth. We were also able to talk about modern day prophets. He said he had done a research paper on the LDS religion in high school, but besides that he didn't know much. He said that we could come back and teach him more. He was so kind and genuine, we have our appointment with him tonight(: I think it's amazing that God finds a way for us to meet people like Z_____. When we are being obedient and doing our best, He recognizes that and helps us reach the people who really need this gospel in their lives.
*This is me at a cute little book exchange box that is here in Longmont(: people can come and take a book and then they are supposed to leave one for someone else to take. It's so cute.*

Long story short, my first week here was full of highs and lows, but ultimately I came to realize things that I really need in order to be a happier and better person and follower of Christ(: I'm so so so thankful that I have come to the knowledge that God really does want to hear everything that is in our hearts. I know that He cares about us so much individually, so if you ever feel like praying just isn't the answer, then you're wrong. Just like I was wrong. Prayer is the answer, it is always the answer. He is reaching out for us, we need to remember to reach back. Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you,". We have to put in the effort, we have to open the door and let Him in. I promise when we do, we will be blessed so immensely. I love you all! I'm so thankful for each of you and hope your week is spectacular!

Love, Sister Allen