Thursday, January 8, 2015

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