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