Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 17: "I Love Being A Missionary"(:

Hello everybody!(: I hope you all had a wonderful week and a great Sunday yesterday. It has been beautiful here in Longmont, perfect weather for walking and meeting lots of new people!! We got five new investigators this week!
*catching snowflakes on our tongues!!

*so fancy!! haha!
On Monday (P-Day), we got permission to go to Estes Park, which is this cute little mountain town about 45 minutes away from Longmont. We went with Sister Seyfi and their friend Charles Henry. It was so much fun! It was Charles' first time seeing snow (he's from Haiti), and he thought it was pretty great. We went to this one shop where they let you dress up and get your picture taken. It was so much fun. Later that night, we were finally able to meet with Brother C______. He is less-active, and we have been trying to get in touch with him for weeks now, but he was never home. We were able to have a lesson with him on deepening conversion and church attendance and how those two things go hand in hand. He has an extremely strong testimony and love for the Savior. We are excited to continue to meet with him and help get him back to church so he can take the sacrament. That is one of the most powerful hours of my entire week. The Spirit can be felt so strongly as we reflect back on the sacrifice, the promises, and the love that our Savior has for us. I feel so close to Him during that time when I get to take the bread and water, and I know that everyone can feel that if they will come with a sincere desire to feel the Spirit.

Tuesday, we had a lesson with a man named S______. He has smoked for many years and all he wants is to be able to quit so that he can get baptized, because he loves the fellowship that is in the church. He says that he has prayed many times for God's help to quit, but that nothing ever happens. As we talked to him more, we came to find out that he isn't sure about the Book of Mormon being the word of God or that we have a prophet today. I know that as S_______ develops a stronger testimony of those core parts of the gospel, his faith will increase, and he will be able to quit smoking. Our faith determines God's ability to bless us. We have to believe that He will help us, we have to trust in Him. There was a Relief Society Activity later that night, and it was a very fun get to know you game. C______, a less-active sister who we love, was able to come to the activity! Sister Anderson has been such a good friend to her and it's crazy how happy C______ has been just in the last couple weeks since she has started coming to church again. Her countenance has completely changed. It makes me so happy just thinking about it! The gospel really does bring a literal light into your life, it's noticeable and beautiful.
                                                                *Just a gorgeous sunset here in Longmont!
We had exchanges on Wednesday. I stayed here with Sister Waite and it was wonderful! We had a great lesson with our new investigator A_____. The Spirit was so strong and she seemed really interested in everything we had to say and asked lots of questions. She's agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. We had dinner with the Schroeder's, and they really are one of my favorite families in the ward. They are so funny and are so excited and motivated to do missionary work! It's really awesome to see people who love the gospel so much that they have this desire to openly share it. I know that as they continue to do that, and as we all strive to do that, the Lord will trust us and bless us with more and more opportunities to share the gospel. We went to mutual that night with B_______ (our 16 year old investigator). She had such a fun time and we were able to have a lesson with her afterwards. She is such a sweet girl, and is going to come to mutual every Wednesday and continue to have lessons with us. She has so much faith in God, and I know that the message of the restored gospel will only add to and expand that strong faith. I am so excited for her!(: Sister Waite and I got to spend lots of time getting to know one another while we were walking around Longmont, and I just love her. She is such a great missionary and I know that exchanges are inspired decisions. She was able to see her cousin Sarah, who is in our ward (she had no idea that she was here). It was awesome getting to see their reunion and I know that it meant so much to both of them.

Thursday, we went and saw Sister Wright. She is the sweetest and funniest little old lady, I seriously love her. She has such a strong testimony and loves it when we come to see her. She's 95 and can't drive, so she spends a lot of time alone. We were able to talk about the importance of sacrament with her, and hearing her testimony of the peace that she feels (even when she can't hear what the speakers are saying) when she is there was so special. She said that the Spirit tells her exactly what her heart needs to hear. I thought that was so cool and such a good example of how Sacrament should be for all of us. We went to contact one of our potential investigators (J_____) later that day, and we accidently knocked on the wrong door. The guy who answered the door definitely was not J____. But he was one of those people who could pass for a very mature looking high school student. Anyways, Sister DeFord was like " your mom home?" and he said "No...." and then she was like "Do you know who J_____ is?" and he said, " don't know anyone named J______. My name is D______,". It was hilarious and slightly awkward. We found out that he's 24 and we ended up talking to him about the gospel and giving him a Book of Mormon and are going back to have a lesson this week. So all is well(:
                                                   *notice the name of the shop in the background? haha! (:
On Friday we had dinner at Sister Christensen's house. She is the nicest lady and has such a neat conversion story. I think I might have talked about it before in one of my emails. Anyways, we were able to talk to her about a scripture (Mosiah 26:20). It says, "Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep,". I love that scripture so much. That is a promise that the Lord has made with each of us. If we will open our mouths and share the gospel with those who don't yet know the joy that it can bring, we will be blessed with the greatest gift of all. I find that the greatest blessings come into our lives when we are striving to serve and love others. We had a lesson with Sister C______ (a less active) on Friday, and she finally opened up to us about why she hasn't been coming to church. That was a huge hurdle for her, and we are hoping that we can help her feel loved and accepted enough to come back.
                                        *me outside a cute candy shop while they were making fresh taffy!
Saturday was so amazing. I kind of don't have words to describe how great it was. We had two appointments cancel, so we decided to walk towards one of our investigators houses and see if he was home. As we did, we came across an older woman, two kids, and a man, who were trying to move into their apartment. We told them we would love to give them a hand, and the older woman (B______) said that she would love that but only if we let her buy us lunch. Deal! We came to find out that B______ and her daughter S_____ (who is pregnant and lives upstairs) were two of the people that we had talked to the other night who said they weren't interested in our message. As we were moving everything in, they just kept saying thank you and you could tell they really meant it. The little five year old boy, J____, told me "I like your hair. It's super cute,". Which pretty much made my day. After we got done, B______ took us and her granddaughter F_____ out to lunch at Chipotle. We were able to share a message with them and talk about the Book of Mormon. We gave her one and she said she'll start reading it and that we can come by anytime next week to talk with her about it(: It just goes to show that service is one of the best ways to soften peoples hearts. It helps people know that we really do care about them as individuals, not about increasing the size of our congregation. Later, we had a bunch of plans get rearranged and we ended up at a potential investigators house (the S__________ Family) later than we had planned. When we knocked, Mr. S__________ said that his wife wasn't home. We were bummed, but all of a sudden, she pulled up in her car! We were able to go in and share the first part of the Restoration with them and invite them to take the lessons. They said yes! I am SO excited. This family already has a truly amazing faith in Christ and they are such wonderful people, I know that the gospel will only help their relationships with Him and with each other grow stronger. We are going back next week(: I know that God has a timing for everything, and if we wouldn't have been there right as she came home, who knows what would have happened!

Last night, we went and visited J______. On our way there, we met this man on the side of the street. We talked with him about the gospel and gave him a Book of Mormon. When we asked what his name was he said "Creed..or John". And then when we were saying goodbye he said "Goodbye Milady". He was very proper and super nice. It was just hilarious that he said that. So now we call him Creed-John-Milady-Man. Then, this lady drove up to us in her car and was like, "Hey, are you from a church or something?". And we told her we were and gave her a card. So that was really cool. Our lesson with J_____ went SO well. He seemed a lot happier than usual, and he is going to watch Finding Faith in Christ this week. We can see little bits of progress with him, and it's been such a blessing.

*Blowing up balloons to figure out what gender the baby is that Sister DeFord's sister is having! 
                                                                                             It is not a girl!

So, this week was full of LOTS of laughter. Sister DeFord has honestly become one of my best friends. She's so awesome and I'm sad that I won't get more time with her after the next three weeks, but I'm super thankful for her example and impact that she's had on me while we've been together. I know that God is directing the work here. I know that I can trust in Him, because He will help all those who have a desire to serve him find those who are prepared to receive the gospel. I know that the plan of happiness that God has for our lives is real, and that it truly is the most joyful way to live. I love being a missionary. I love the fact that Heavenly Father loves us all and that forgiveness, peace, and comfort can be found in that love. This gospel truly is the best part of my life.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Allen

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 16: "The Lord Will Protect You...but just in case, carry pepper spray"(:

                                                      *me, the Seyfi's daughter Suzanne and Sister DeFord

Hello everybody!(: What a week it has been. I hope you all are having a wonderful and happy January. I received two wonderful packages this week that really made me smile! So thank you Sister Call and Sister DeMordaunt for thinking of me and taking the time to do that. I love you both so much!

Okay, so this week was crazy. We literally had every investigator appointment cancel. Whether it was sickness, sports, kids, or just plain no-show's, it all fell through. Which was pretty disheartening, not going to lie. However, we decided to just make the best of it and use that time to go and find some more people who are prepared to receive the gospel.

We visited a family named the C________'s on Monday. Their kids are members of the church but are less-active, and Brother and Sister C_________ were never baptized. They did have callings at one point though and were very involved in the gospel. They are such sweet and genuine people, and we have been trying to see them for quite sometime, but Sister C_________ works night hours and our schedules never matched up. We stopped by randomly and they both happened to be home. We were able to talk with them and we have a lesson planned for tonight(: I'm so excited!

Tuesday was fun! Sister DeFord got to go to the temple since this is her last transfer, so I was in a tri-panionship with the Hermanas! Sister Benny and Sister Hansen. I know absolutely 0% Spanish, so that was an interesting experience for sure. However, I do know how to introduce myself as a missionary in Spanish now, so that's exciting. Later that night, we went and visited the Bailey's. Sister Bailey's mom just had a stroke and so she is staying with them while she recovers. It was so amazing to get to talk with them. Her mom said that while she was in the hospital (it was a Catholic hospital) she was talking to everyone about the gospel, and would always leave her Book of Mormon out for everyone to see. It was so awesome to see how excited she was about doing missionary work! Sister Bailey also shared a sweet story about her son Travis who is serving in Arizona. It helped me remember that I need to just be myself, because the Lord needs me here for who I am as an individual.

Okay, so the Seyfi's are awesome at member missionary work. They are so willing to share the gospel with others. On Wednesday, we went to lunch with them and their friend C______ from Haiti. We were able to share a message with him and invite him to read the Book of Mormon. Also! This really nice man paid for our lunch and it was so sweet. He's from another ward and is a seminary teacher. We had another lesson with C______ and their other friend named G______ on Friday. We were able to talk about how we have a modern day prophet, how the Book of Mormon and the Bible relate to one another, and the Seyfi's were able to share their testimonies. Plus, Suzanne was in town and shared how she felt about it too. We love her. It was really awesome(: After lunch on Wednesday, we had a lesson with the G_____'s daughter A_________. She is so cute and is preparing to be baptized. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and it was really adorable because when we were talking about Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison, and how the Spirits in paradise can go and be missionaries to the people in prison, America said, "Oh! So they are going to teach them about Jesus, like how you're teaching me?". Precious. Our investigator B_________ came to mutual!! It was so much fun and she had such a good time. We are having a lesson with her this upcoming week. I'm so thankful for all the great youth in the Ute Creek Ward. I know they will play a huge part in helping B_______ come unto Christ.
 Suzanne showed us how to slide down the stairs at the Seyfi's I go!!! (:
 Wow! I am really cruising now!!  haha!
Suzanne reading to Sister DeFord and I, I forgot to talk about this in my email... :)

Thursday we did service at the Atwood House. We had a lot of fun and we love J______ (the lady who runs the shelter).  We had some slightly awkward experiences this week with various men that we ran into. Which brings me to the pepper spray.

This awesome family in our ward (The Doherty's) bought us these adorable pink pepper spray bottles, which I now carry around on my bag everywhere I go(: You never know when you'll need it, plus it makes me feel better about being out on a Friday night (and I'm sure it'll make my mom feel better too!).

Saturday was a great day. We were able to see a man named D___, who is one of our potential investigators, and share a message with him. He is such a good guy, and he is already living by a lot of the principles that you can find in the gospel. He said he felt a lot of peace while he was talking with us. We are hoping that we can meet with him again soon, I know that the blessings he will find in the gospel will bring a light and a joy into his life that he is searching for(: Later, we had Sydney (this really sweet Laurel who is preparing for a mission) come out with us and we went and visited some people. We were able to visit a less-active sister named K______. The lesson we had with her was completely guided by the Spirit, and she was able to open up to us about how she feels. It was really amazing, and we are so excited to continue meeting with her and helping her find that happiness that she misses so much(:

Something we have been working on this week is leaving our dinner appointments on time. There are so many rules when you are a missionary, and sometimes you don't know exactly why they are there. But something I am learning is that obedience to everything in the gospel, big and small, brings about miraculous blessings. We all have a responsibility to keep the commandments that God has set up for us, even if we don't fully understand them. That is where trust and faith in the Lord and His plan become so crucial. He knows what we need, and He knows what will bring us the most joy(: I can honestly say that being obedient to all the commandments truly brings about the most happiness. I know that as we all strive to do what is right, we will be blessed in our own lives and the Lord will also trust us enough to provide opportunities for us to share the gospel with others.

I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week(:

Love, Sister Allen

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 15: "Happy, Though Skies Are Gray"(:

Hello everyone!(: I hope you all had a fantastic week. I am so thankful for the chance that I have to tell you all about the amazing experiences the Lord helps me to have out here in Colorado. I know that we can ALL have these kind of opportunities, we just have to ask! He is ready and willing to lead us to the people who are prepared to receive the gospel(:

F______ is back!!! Oh my goodness, Monday was such an exciting day. So first, we went and stopped by a less-active families house. They were in the middle of dinner though so we asked if we could come back by later. We headed off to our dinner appointment and we were passing by F_____'s house. We noticed the lights were on in his apartment, and then we saw people in the hallway who could let us into the complex. We freaked out and pulled over and ran to the door. Once we got into the building, we tried to act as normal and nonchalant (other missionaries will understand that this is very hard to do when you're this excited). We knocked on his door, and just as we did I noticed someone coming up the stairs. Guess who?(: F_____! He let us into his apartment, where we met his wife L___, who was visiting for the holidays so that they could spend Christmas together with A_____. We were able to find out that the reason we hadn't heard from him was because his old phone broke, and he has a new one but didn't have our number so he couldn't get a hold of us. We were so relieved and we have an appointment scheduled for this week(: We are hoping L____ will still be in town, because we'd love to share with her the same happiness that F_____ has been experiencing. Later, we went back to the Saxton's house and we were able to share a message about keeping our foundation on Christ. It went really well and they are such a nice family, I love them already. Also, Brother Saxton collects Lord Of The Rings swords, so obviously we got along very well. He even let me take pictures with all of them. I can now say that I held Sting while on my mission.

On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to go and visit a man named J____. He is a former investigator who we have been trying to meet with for a while. He seems genuinely interested in the gospel, and he actually grew up going to Primary, but was never baptized. He had to get surgery done on Wednesday, and we asked him if he would like a Priesthood Blessing beforehand. He said he would love that. Tuesday night after dinner, we headed over there. We had our Ward Mission Leader and Assistant Ward Mission Leader with us to give the blessing, and then we also needed a woman to come with us and so Brother and Sister Prestwich came. Six people, including us. So basically, we showed up at J____s door with the Mormon Battalion hahaha. He was totally fine with it though, and we were able to talk about how the Priesthood was restored, how our faith is a huge factor in allowing the blessing to work in our lives, and then Brother Renken was able to share what it's like to give a blessing. It was so awesome, and the blessing itself was a very spiritual experience. Afterwards, J____ said that he didn't feel worried anymore, and that he felt peace. It was so amazing. We stopped by to bring him soup on Friday, and his surgery went well with no complications. We talked a little bit about baptism and how that same Priesthood Authority is used when we make that covenant with God. He said we can come back and have a lesson with him this week to talk more about it(:

Wednesday was one of the best days I have had so far on my mission. During personal study, I was praying to know what we needed to share with our investigator Z_____, who we were having a lesson with at 7:00. I got the impression that we needed to invite him to read 2 Nephi 31. We went to Z____'s house, and knocked. There was no answer. We called and he didn't pick up. We were feeling a little discouraged. We got back into the car with Sister Baker (an awesome member of the ward who comes with us to lots of lessons) and then he texted! He said he was sorry, he'd fallen asleep, but he still wanted to meet. He said he needed to get ready, but that we could come back at 8:30. We went with the plan of teaching the Plan of Salvation, and it was really cool because the first question he asked us was what we believe about Heaven and Hell. It was really neat, because it wasn't us teaching him. It was the Spirit. As we would share things, he would pause and think about them. There was this comfortable silence, and I know that the Spirit was able to witness to him that the things we were talking about were true during that time. We were able to help answer more of his questions, and Sis. DeFord extended a really nice invite to come to church. Sis. Baker did a wonderful job of talking about the blessings of church, and how on the weekends that he has his girls, they could come to Primary. He couldn't make it this week but he will hopefully come next week(: Then, I was able to invite him to be baptized. When we first met Z____, he told us he didn't believe in organized religion, and didn't know how he felt about God. That night, he told us that he isn't opposed to baptism, and that he will be baptized when he knows that this gospel is true. He said that he knows God is present in his life. Amazing. Simply amazing(: I'm so thankful that the Spirit was able to be felt that night, and that it was able to help me talk with him about baptism, even though I was nervous.  We invited him to read 2 Nephi 31 and are meeting with him tonight to talk about it.

Thursday we spent time visiting a few different less actives. Sister DeFord and I have decided that we need to start a Stop Smoking Knitting Club. It's a work in progress, but we really do have a few people that we are visiting and that is the only thing holding them back from enjoying the full happiness that comes from keeping the commandments that God has set up for us. We were also able to stop by B______'s house. We haven't been able to meet with her yet, but we wanted to bring her a Book of Mormon and give her a chapter to read in it so that when we do meet, we can talk about what she thought/felt while reading. It was really sweet because when we got done talking to her about it, she looked at us and said, "I will definitely take the time to read this,". She seemed so sincere, and we are really hoping to be able to see her this week so we can talk about it with her.

Friday was our Mission Conference with Elder Bednar(: It was amazing, but not for the reason that you might think. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing to meet him. I know that he is truly an apostle of God. I know that he holds Priesthood Keys that allow him to give us guidance and direction and promised blessings that come directly from the Lord. There are so many things that I admire about him, but the number one thing I admire, is that he didn't come here to teach us. He came here to help us learn by the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to do all the teaching. And that is exactly what happened. I received some much needed guidance, inspiration, and love from the Holy Ghost throughout the entire conference. Elder Bednar had asked us to read three talks. Then, he asked us to tell him what we learned from those talks. I was able to raise my hand and talk with him about how applying the direction given in his talk "Seek Learning By Faith" has helped me do a better job of allowing the Lord and the Spirit to answer people's questions as they ask in faith rather than doing all the answering by myself. He then asked me to tell him about an experience I've had, and so I told him about our lesson with Zach. He asked me how it felt to see that Zach was learning by the Spirit, and I couldn't help but smile huge when I told him it was amazing! He said "Look at that smile!" haha(: It was really awesome to get to see him interact with many other missionaries that same way, with an attitude of love and understanding. He truly loves and cares about each of us so much, you could feel it every time he spoke. I am so thankful that I was able to have that experience.

*I got to see my old companion, Sister Metzger, at the Mission Conference! (:

We did a ton of tracting this week. It was so much fun! We were able to meet so many people who said we can come back, and we were able to give away all of our copies of the Book of Mormon. One of the days while we were out, we met a man named J_______. He said he didn't have time to talk right at the moment, but if we had something that he could read he would love to see it. We asked him if he'd ever read the Book of Mormon, and he said, "No, but I saw the musical!". Then, Sister DeFord said, "Well, would you like to read the book?". It was hilarious, and he totally accepted it! Two days later, we were walking down the street and we passed a group of kids walking the opposite direction. They told us that we needed to watch out because there was a man on the corner turning left and it looked like he was carrying a gun. We were a little freaked out, so we decided to take a round about way to get home. We were walking through a park and saw a man walking towards us with a long beard and one hand in his sweatshirt pocket. I'm not going to lie, my heart was beating so fast. I looked at Sister DeFord and after talking for a bit, we decided to keep walking toward him. We said hi, like we usually do when people walk by, and he said hi back. Then he said, "I got all the way through the introduction of the Book of Mormon! I'm into Nephi now, is that how you pronounce it?". It was J______! We didn't recognize him at all. We were able to talk with him about what he'd read and gave him our phone number. He said he wants to call us when he gets a little further through it and then he wants to talk with us about what he reads. We are so excited!

This week, I learned that patience and faith are divinely intertwined with one another. You can't strengthen one if you don't have the other. I was doing a Preach My Gospel activity on patience this week, and I was reading about the Sons of Mosiah. How they are the vilest of sinners, and then they turn their hearts over to the Lord. After a lot of repentance, they are able to feel that burden of sin lifted, and they want nothing more than to share the gospel with others. They go and begin preaching, but no one will listen. The Lord says to them, "Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls,". The Lord is infinitely patient with us. This week I have been working so hard at being patient with the work here and the people that we love and teach. As I have been striving to have that Christ-like patience, I have truly seen miracles. God's timing is perfect timing. And something that I've realized is that I probably won't get to see most of the good that comes from me sharing that gospel. The point is that I am sharing what makes me happy and what I know can make others happy. And someday, that could make a difference in someone's life(: Even if I'm not around to witness it. After many people are converted, Ammon recounts their experiences. He says, "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success,". I know that as long as I trust God, press forward, and have faith in His timing for those we love, there will be success. And it doesn't matter if that person is baptized when I'm here or when someone else is, what matters is that they are coming to know our Savior, and that I get to play a small part in that(:

I love you all!

Love, Sister Allen

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Week 14: "Be Thou Humble in 2015"(:

Hello everybody and HAPPY NEW YEAR!(: First of all, I want to say thank you to every person who helped my family move last week. I am so thankful that you have all helped and supported them while I've been gone. It's so wonderful to know they are being taken care of. I hope you all had an awesome week and are staying warm! It's pretty chilly here in Longmont, but I am so excited because I get to stay!(: We found out about transfers on Saturday, and Sister DeFord and I will be here for another transfer serving in the Ute Creek Ward. After this week that we just had, we are very thankful that we have more time here. Hermana Ferrell is leaving to go to Boulder, and I will miss her tons, but I'm very excited for her to serve there and know that she will do great things.
*This is Brother and Sister Seyfi who take such good care of our missionaries and open their hearts and their home to them!  They are the sweetest people and our Sister Allen refers to them as her home away from home and Sister Seyfi as her "second Mom".  So grateful for beautiful people like them!(from Sister Allen's mom)
So this past week, I decided to focus on developing a specific Christ-like attribute more fully in my life. The one that I have been praying about a lot is patience, because it truly is the one that I need to become better at. I have had so many opportunities this week to practice patience, and they have all helped me grow so much. I know if we pray to God and ask Him to give us experiences and situations that will help us become more rooted in the gospel and in being more like our Savior, He will give them to us. Something else that I have learned is that they are never in the way that we expect. What we have to remember is that He knows what we need to go through in order to become better and develop those things that we are striving to work on.
                                              *Just some of the beautiful food that Sister Seyfi feeds to us!
Alright, so as you all know we have been teaching a man named F_____. We love him so much and were very excited about how interested and happy he was with the things that he was learning/experiencing as he was reading and praying. He was attending church and had a baptismal date set for January 17th. And now, we haven't heard from him in almost two weeks. We have tried everything that we can to reach out to him. Nothing. We are continuing to pray for him, and hoping that he will talk to us or someone else in the ward eventually. However, we know that the Lord's timing is what matters, and we are trying to remember that as we deal with the hurt that comes with losing someone who is so close to receiving that amazing gift and entering into a beautiful covenant with Heavenly Father. If you could all remember F____ in your prayers, I would greatly appreciate it.

We have been doing a lot of finding this week, through tracting and street contacting. We were outside in the 0 degree weather on Tuesday, but we didn't even feel cold while we were walking up and down the streets knocking on doors. I think the Lord helped us out a bit with that one. We managed to meet a woman named J________. She's such a cute mom and she had to go and pick her kids up from school, but she said that we can come back this next week. We also had a really awesome lesson with a less-active named N_____. She is has struggled all her life with alcohol, but she is so faithful and loves God more than anything. We are going to do everything that we can to help her feel supported and uplifted during this difficult time of overcoming that addiction.

New Year's Eve was so much fun, and it was Sister DeFord's birthday that day also! We were able to get in contact with one of our potential investigators named Seth. He is so kind, and we got his phone number finally and will hopefully be having a lesson with him this upcoming week to discuss the things he has been reading in the Book of Mormon. We had dinner with the Bishop's family and had to be home by 6:30. We spent the rest of the night watching The Testaments and baking a cake for Sister DeFord(: We also had some Martinelli's to ring in the new year.

We had a few different no-show appointments this week that we were really looking forward to, so that was kind of sad. But we did manage to get in touch with a less active named S______.  She has such a special place in my heart. We met her one of my first weeks here, and she and her non-member husband D______ were at the Ward Christmas Party. We got to know them better there and we just really hit it off. When we stopped by, we shared the story of the Prodigal Son with her, and talked with her about coming back to church. She said that she wants to, but there are things that make it hard and she needs to pray about it. As she told us about some of the stuff that is keeping her from coming, I could see the sadness in her eyes. I pray for S_____ every day, and I feel like I've known her for longer than the six weeks I've been here. I know that she will come back, and I know the Savior is waiting with open arms to embrace her when she does.

We had some really awesome dinner appointments with members this week. Sister Nielson is one of the spunkiest and funniest members of the ward, and she and Brother Nielson are really good friends with the Seyfi's. We had dinner with them and it was so fun getting to know her better. She has such a strong testimony and isn't afraid to boldly share it, I really admire that. We also had a dinner with the Dalton's. Sister Dalton is one of those people who I feel like I had an instant connection with. We had so much fun talking with them and we shared a message with them about making sacrament a more meaningful experience. The Spirit was very strong as we did, and I think it was exactly what they needed to hear. We had dinner with the Hermanas and the Cardenas family one night also. They mostly speak Spanish, but their son speaks English very well and Sister Cardenas speaks a little. At the end of the lesson that the Hermanas shared, Brother Cardenas asked me to say the closing prayer. I said it in English, and afterwards, he was like "No habla espanol?". It was really funny and my face was bright red.  

On Saturday, we had a plan to go visit S______ (one of our investigators who sort of tried to drop us over text; we've been trying to see her for a while and she is never home). We were going to go see her earlier in the day but then felt like the night time would be better. So we went and tried to contact lots of people, and we shoveled a lot of walks and driveways. It was snowing a lot, and we had already gone tracting earlier and no one wanted to hear what we had to say. We decided to pray and ask God what we should do and where we should go next. I got the impression that we should go tract some more, and even though I was not too excited about it, I told Sister DeFord and we went. No one let us in, most people didn't even open their doors. We got back into the car and I was kind of wondering why I got that impression when nothing came of it. We headed over to S______'s house, and she answered the door! She said it was really crazy that we showed up right then, because they had just woken up from a nap, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to meet with us. I was saying a prayer of thanks in my head for that 30 minutes of tracting. We were able to talk to S_____ about some of her concerns, answer some questions, and invite her to read the Book of Mormon and come to church this next week. I was also able to invite her to be baptized when she comes to know these things are true, and she said she will be. We are so excited for her, and so thankful that we were able to see her thanks to the Lord's perfect timing.

                                                          *Me with all the swords from "Lord of the Rings"!!  

We met with J______ (a less active who is really struggling with quitting smoking) yesterday after church. J______ has very strong opinions on things, and yesterday he said some things that made me feel a little frustrated. As soon as I started feeling that way, I didn't feel like the Spirit was helping me teach. I didn't know what to say. Thankfully, Sister DeFord was able to follow a prompting that she received and was able to redirect the conversation back to the gospel. After the lesson, I was disappointed in myself. I love J_____, and I knew that I needed to be more patient with him. During personal study, I was reading in Mosiah 23. I have been wondering why things have been so hard this week, and praying to know why. In this chapter, the people are living their lives righteously and doing all the things that they are supposed to be doing. In verses 21-22 it says, "Nevertheless, the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless - whosoever putteth his trust in him, the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people,".

This week, I asked to be able to develop more patience. I had many opportunities, and I have learned a valuable lesson that being patient with those that we love, with ourselves, and with the Lord's timing is key in being a great missionary and in having the Spirit with me always. I'm thankful for the experiences I had this week, they have taught me a lot and I feel so much happiness now knowing that I am growing!

I know that as we try our hardest to be kind and to be patient with others, we will be able to feel a happiness in our lives that is indescribable. I also know that if we pray to God to help turn our weaknesses into strengths, we will be able to do it(: He always creates a way for us to accomplish our righteous desires. I love you all!(:

Love, Sister Allen

Week 13: "Happy New Year"(:

*Me with my "Pinky Pie" mug Lindee gave me for Christmas, to go with the "Pinky Pie"stuffed animal she gave me the day I entered the MTC!!

Hello everyone!(: I hope that you all had the most wonderful Christmas this last week. I am so thankful for all the people who helped make my first Christmas in the mission such a special and wonderful experience.

This week was great even though it was hard to get appointments. Not very many people could meet because they were traveling/had family in town, so we decided to go caroling to all our investigators, less actives, and members in our ward. It was an awesome experience and it was so cute to see how excited so many people got to have us sing to them. One night we went with a family in our ward named the Engstrom's, and another night we went out with the Hermanas. It was really sweet because while we were singing to one of our less active members, a little girl and her mom came outside so that we could sing to them too! Later that night, we went over to the Dalton's (members in our ward) and we spent some time with their family. They are so much fun, and Sister Dalton and I really get along well. Okay, crazy thing, I look EXACTLY like her sister. Every single member of their family has told me that in the last week haha.

We had a wonderful District Meeting on Christmas Eve. One of my best friends in the mission, Hermana Ferrell, gave such a great training. We talked about how we need to fall at the feet of our Savior and allow Him to change us. We talked about when we are His disciples, we have to walk the path that He walked, feel what He felt, and shed tears for those who He would cry for. We have to remember that when we face setbacks and difficult things in our work as missionaries, we are, for a moment, standing shoulder to shoulder with our Savior. It was all so inspiring and motivating, and such a good reminder that Christ truly does understand everything that we go through. 

We had Christmas Eve dinner with the Cavalli's. They are a really amazing family in the ward. At dinner, Brother Cavalli asked us why we were out serving missions, and it was really cool to be able to reflect on all of the reasons why I am out here. I got emotional when I was talking about it because I truly am so thankful for the fact that this gospel has changed me, and is continuing to change me in ways that I could never accomplish without the Lord's help. It's been amazing to see that when I humble myself and I put aside the things of this world, I can receive so much more revelation and guidance for my life and my work as a missionary. After dinner, we all gathered in the living room and sang Silent Night together while Brother Cavalli played the guitar. It was super special to be a part of that family tradition they have.

Christmas morning was so great! It was beautiful and sunny out so we went running. Then we came back and had ice cream for breakfast and the Hermanas came over (coconut milk ice cream for me of course). It's the Seyfi's tradition(: Then we opened up our stockings. It was so sweet, members of the ward pitched in to fill our stockings with all sorts of fun things. After that, we went to Stake President Richard's house for a breakfast. We went downstairs and played pool after that, so that's a new skill I've acquired while out on my mission (not really a skill though, cause I'm not very good). We went back to the Seyfi's and watched How To Train Your Dragon 2. It's one of those movies that makes you laugh and cry. Also, I took my little sister Lindee to see it not too long before I left, so I was just thinking of her the whole time. Once that was over, we went and opened our presents. I am so thankful for all the wonderful gifts I was given from so many loving family members and friends. Thank you all so much. Later, we went to the G______'s house for a lunch. It's crazy because their daughter K_____ (who is less active) was on our ward list for the YSA in Fort Collins, but we never got a chance to meet with her. She was at their house for Christmas though, so we got to meet each other and it was awesome!(: Okay, so since coming out on my mission, I haven't met a single family who knows what Nerts is. When we were eating, we were talking about playing games, and K_____ was like, "We should play this game called Nerts!", and I just looked at her and freaked out haha. So we were able to play that with them for a while (don't worry, I didn't get too competitive). After that we got to go and Skype with our families. It was so wonderful to see all my siblings and my parents(: Hearing how happy they were to see me and how supportive they are of me while I am out here didn't make me homesick at all. It motivated me so much! I'm so thankful that I got to have that opportunity, and I am so thankful that Heavenly Father really is watching out for them while I am away. We went to Christmas dinner at the Bishop's house, and it was so fun to share a message about Christ and His love with them and spend time with their family. All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas day.

We did lots of service this week, like painting a wall at the YMCA for 3 1/2 hours. It was really fun though and we got to spend time getting to know M_____ better. He said that he has explored lots of churches, but if he had to pick he would be Mormon or Buddhist. He says he isn't religious but I'm hoping that over time we will be able to share more of the gospel with him and help him see that it is a completely different way of life, not just going to church on Sunday(: We had dinner with a member named Bonnie Christensen. She has such an inspiring conversion story and is continuing to live her life in a way that allows her to deepen that conversion! She is such an inspiration to me and I am so thankful that we got to know her better. After dinner, we went to visit a less-active woman named P_____. Every missionary has told me that you will have a moment where your heart is just so sad because of a person that all you can really do is cry it out. That happened. P_____ has been less-active for quite some time. She used to read scriptures with the missionaries, but hasn't in a long time. She told us that she will never come back to church and that she doesn't believe in any of it. She thinks that what we do in this life doesn't matter because we're all going to Heaven, and it doesn't matter if she is wrong because she's fine with going to Hell. She said she's happy where she is at and has no desire to change or to meet with us. She said she's happy that we're happy, but it's just not for her. We left her house, and as soon as we got in the car, I just cried. It honestly just made me so sad to see that state that she was in, and not knowing how to help her. Something I have learned is that all we can do is invite people to come unto Christ, and then the rest is up to them. They have to have that desire and we can't change that. I've just been praying for P______, and it's probably a similar to the prayers that my parents used to say in regards to me. I want so badly for her to have an experience in her life that will help her have a desire to come back, to recognize God's love for her and plan for her life. It was a hard experience but it did allow me to do a lot of reflection on why I live my life the way I do. I really don't know what will happen after this life, God is the only one who knows that, but what I do know is that this gospel is true. It brings me more happiness than anything else ever has. I know that following the council of the prophet and apostles and keeping the commandments and honoring my covenants has made me happier, healthier, and stronger in my relationship with my Father in Heaven. It has helped me progress and become better in so many ways. It has taught me not to give up, that I have infinite worth, to be proactive, and that I can do hard things. It has removed the guilt and shame from my life. I'm whole again because I am living the gospel. I am happy. That is why I do it.

We were able to contact one of our potential investigators this week and get her phone number and talk about her schedule and when she could meet. Her name is B________ and she is really sweet and it seems like she honestly does want to learn more. Our investigator Z_____ (who hasn't talked to us for two weeks) finally texted us and said that he really does want to meet with us still but his holiday has been crazy and busy. So we will be meeting with him this next week(: We were walking to an appointment, and we met a man named R________ while he was shoveling his driveway. He is Catholic, but we were able to share a lot of our beliefs and the reasons why we came out on missions with him and we told him that the doors to our church are always open to anyone who wants to come. He seemed really interested in that. Then we were talking about his art (he is taking art classes from a lady named A_____ down the street), and he told us we should go and visit A_____ because her daughter could really use our help in her life right now. It was so cool getting to meet him and seeing that he trusted us to go and visit them. We tried contacting them, and will be trying again this week. We were also able to meet with a less active named C__________. She had her friend R_____ in town, and he was sitting in on our lesson. As we were talking about prayer and how it can give us guidance and direction in our lives, he asked me if I could explain that more. He asked for a specific example of when prayer has helped me in that way. I was able to talk to him about how I prayed for help and to know if God was there for me and if I could ever come back from the mistakes I had made. I told him about how I received an answer to that prayer, and how it has changed my life. And then I talked to him about how I now pray for more specific things, and how those prayers can be answered in different ways, and how we all have that opportunity to pray and receive answers. He seemed so interested and it was really neat to have that experience with him. I said a closing prayer at the end of the lesson, and I'm really hoping that he will pray sometime. I know that prayer is such a powerful way to receive blessings and answers from Heavenly Father, if we will simply ask in faith.

Last night, we met with a less-active man named J______. We meet with him every week. He is mostly blind, and he has some very intense opinions about certain things. We usually have to redirect the lesson a lot and we have never gotten through an entire chapter of the Book of Mormon. Yesterday was different. We spent a lot of time prayerfully considering what we should share with him. We went in and we shared what felt right, and for the first time since I've been here, he really seemed to get it and actually feel the Spirit and the power of what we were reading. I'm really excited about that(:
*We had the best Christmas ever. Sister Megan Jarvis finished her mission eight months ago, and came to visit us. Megan lives in Boise, and works in Eagle. 

OH! Something really cool is happening on January 9th. Elder Bednar is coming to do a Mission Conference here!(: I am so excited. I love the way he speaks, because he tells it how it is but he isn't scary or mean about it. He's loving and you can tell that he is so passionate about the gospel. In preparation for him coming here, we are all supposed to read these three talks by him. One that I absolutely love is called "Converted Unto the Lord". He talks about how to become truly converted and stay that way, we need to lay down our weapons of rebellion just like the Lamanites did in order to draw closer to Heavenly Father. We all have things that are holding us back, and we all have distractions that get in the way of the things we really should be doing. I know that as we set those things aside for the better and brighter things that the gospel has to offer, we can deepen our conversion and become happier and more Christ-like people(:

I love you all, Happy New Year!!!

Love, Sister Allen