Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 74: "Guard" (:

Sister Jenks and I  and my awkward arm! (:
This week was so amazing. Honestly my heart is brim with joy right now(: but it's a bittersweet moment because today is my last day with my beautiful companion/best friend, Sister Jenks. I love her so much and am so grateful for the Christ-like attributes she has taught me. She is humble, full of love and faith. I am going to miss her dearly :(
Our true colors! (:
However, I'm very excited about my next adventure! Heavenly Father is sending me to Wellington, Colorado to be companions with Sister Larson(: I'm going to be finishing her training and I've actually already gotten to meet her once because I was her STL this past transfer. She is lovely and a wonderful missionary, I know the Lord is going to bless us with miracles as we work together and I can't wait to see what happens!

We had an awesome lesson with Grady this week(: He is a great young man. He has been inactive for a long time, and then one day he just showed up at church! We started teaching him, and he is the definition of being "an example of the believers,". He has willingly made huge changes in his personal life to be more like Jesus Christ, he is reading and praying, he wants to have the goodness of the gospel in his life. He is going into the Navy soon, and as we taught the Plan of Salvation, we spoke about receiving the Priesthood, and how that can bless his fellow man while he's away. Grady received the Priesthood yesterday(: I'm thankful for our awesome Bishop, because his friendship has helped Grady a lot. I know that he's just going to continue to progress.

Two highlights from this week: Brother Beck's baptism, and our lesson with the Caldwell's(: Heavenly Father has been so good to us.
Me, Brother Beck, Sister Jenks, Sister Beck (:
Brother Beck's baptism was amazing. I love the Beck's so much, and I'm so happy that Brother Beck made the decision to be baptized. Their son Chris, who hasn't been to church in years, came to see his dad be baptized, and it was a really sweet experience. The smile on Chris and Sister Beck's faces after Brother Beck came up out of the water were priceless(: I won't ever forget that moment. Brother Beck received the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday in church, and my heart just swelled with joy. I'm grateful for this man, for his humility and his trust in the Lord. I know this is going to bless his life and his families life so much, it's exciting! 

We had an amazing lesson with the Caldwell's, honestly it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. We have been teaching them for a little while, they are a less active couple in the Ward. We sat down and started teaching about the Plan of Happiness. I watched Brother Caldwell's eyes as we spoke and I could just feel the sadness there. I pleaded with Heavenly Father to help me know how to help him. All of a sudden, I felt prompted to talk about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's from the Book of Mormon. These men were so wicked, and then the light of the gospel touched their hearts, and they gave up everything to know God. They "..became a righteous people; for they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren. Now, these are they who were converted to the Lord..". I felt the Spirit speaking through me as I spoke about how we all have our weapons and things we hold onto, and how burying them is essential to truly forgiving ourselves and moving on. I was able to bear personal testimony of burying my own weapons and how letting go of the past has helped me move towards a better future with a "perfect brightness of hope,". As I spoke I had tears running down my cheeks, and Brother Caldwell began to cry. This burly, bearded man began to pour out his heart, his struggles, his difficulty with forgiving himself and letting things go. The amount of love that I felt for him in that moment was way more than a person can feel. I know that it was God's love for him, and I got to have the tiniest glimpse of how Heavenly Father feels towards that man. It was a little overwhelming, and I won't ever forget how that felt. Brother Caldwell wants to be better, and he is willing to bury his weapons. I can't wait to see where he is five months from now, a year from now. I know I was supposed to come to Cheyenne to meet him(: 
Us and the YW from our ward in Cheyenne....I will miss them SO MUCH: (:
So last week, a member challenged me to read the Book of Mormon in a week. Today is my last day and I'm almost done. As I've been reading, I've noticed a common theme. Every single time the people focus on the things of the world, or they let their spiritual guard down, they fall into wars and contention and they lose everything. In Helaman Chapter 1, it talks about the Nephites. For years, they have lived in righteousness and have seen the miracles of God in helping them conquer adversity. Then, some trials start to happen and listen to this, "And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty...they had not kept sufficient guards..they supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands...". Verse 19 speaks about the Lamanites, "...Their march was with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies...". 

We have to guard our testimonies, always. Satan doesn't take a break, in fact, when he sees us start to falter in our spirituality, he moves even quicker to come against us. In our world today, there is no time to waste. We have to be focused on what matters most, we have to seek after the good things in the gospel, we have to immerse ourselves in the scriptures and seek strength and fortitude through prayer. We need to be on the defense, ready for whatever the adversary is going to throw at us. When we go through hard things, we sometimes feel distanced from God, but He is never the one that has moved. In Helaman 12:15 it says, "...For surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun,". We are the earth, God is the sun. When we struggle, it's even more important that we turn to Him because He is the one who will be there every time, no matter what. He is the one who can help us the most, better than any book or TV show or YouTube guru or even our best friends. Heavenly Father knows us, loves us, and will guide us, always(:

I hope that this week, we can all do the necessary things to guard our testimonies even more. I know that if we give ear to the counsels of God, He will direct our paths for good. I love my Heavenly Father, I love the privilege of being a missionary, and I love all of you.

Love, Sister Allen(: 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 73: "After" (:

Hello beautiful humans!(: I hope you are all having the best day ever.
I'm not going to lie, this last week was one of the hardest weeks
(physically) since I've been on my mission, but Heavenly Father is so
awesome and always provides me with the strength that I need to do
what He needs me to do(: all I have to do is ask for it. I'm so
grateful for His perfect understanding of our struggles and the fact
that He can help us overcome them. I'm also really grateful that He
has blessed me with a wonderful companion, Sister Jenks has been such
a huge support to me. I love her! 

 We saw some huge miracles this week, and the first one that I'll share
is Brother Beck. That man is so awesome, and through the Atonement of
Jesus Christ, he is even more awesome now than he was when I first met
him. We had a really awesome lesson with the Beck's earlier in the
week, and the Spirit prompted us to really be bold when speaking about
the commandments that God has given us. Sister Jenks' Dad emailed her
on Monday and said he felt like we should read Mosiah Chapter 4 with
them, so we did and it was perfect! I know that God doesn't give us
commandments to be bossy or to make us feel like we are being
controlled; it's the opposite actually. God gives us commandments
because He knows exactly what is right for us, what will keep us out
of the bondage of sin and confusion, and He knows what will bring us
the most happiness in the long run. He has an eternal outlook on our
lives, and we tend to see things more "in the moment". I can honestly
say that keeping the commandments of the Lord has brought an
indescribable joy and peace into my life, but I didn't know that until
I gave it an honest effort. And you guys, that is what Brother Beck
did this week(: he gave the commandments, even the tiniest ones, an
honest effort.
The next time we saw him was at his baptismal interview. He walked up, shook our hands, and looked me in the eyes and said, "Sister, I have a headache. You want to know why? No. Coffee." (: talk about feeling "exceedingly glad" haha(: He passed his interview and will be baptized this upcoming Saturday. I love that man and I'm so proud of him for placing his trust in God and keeping the commandments. 

 We've really been focusing on finding new people to teach this week,
and it's been awesome! I love knocking on people's doors and smiling
at them and inviting them to learn more about a God that loves them
perfectly(: even if that's all you get to do before they hold a gun up
to you (yes, that did happen this week. But no worries mom, he ended
up being a pretty friendly guy) or slam the door in your face, you can
walk away knowing you did all you could, because you invited(: 

When I
was on exchanges with Sister Wade in Wheatland, we met this sweet man
who only had one leg. He opened his door and smiled big at us. He said
he wasn't interested just then, but maybe another time. All of a
sudden, I said, "Do you like to read?" (Random, sometimes the Spirit
has you say things and you're like, what just came out of my mouth).
He was like, "That's all I really can do!". We bore our testimonies of
the Book of Mormon, and handed him a copy. He looked at us with eyes
full of gratitude and said, "I am going to read this book," (: 

 Even though this didn't happen while we were knocking on doors, we had
an awesome miracle happen that I believe is a direct blessing of our
efforts. We were sitting in the church parking lot having a phone call
with some of our Sisters, and a man drove up in a truck with his
little daughter sitting next to him. I rolled the window down and he
explained that he needed to get his little girl to Laramie to go to
the Doctors there. He just lost his job and he had surgery on his arm,
and he had no money for gas. My heart ached for him as he spoke about
his hardships. We told him about the message of peace and hope that we
have to share, and how it can bless his life. He said he wants us to
start teaching him!(: As he was getting ready to leave, I remembered
something. I forgot to pay my fast offering from the week previous,
and so I still had the $20 in my wallet. I had been so frustrated with
myself earlier for forgetting AGAIN, but now I know that it was meant
to happen so that I could give it to David! Heavenly Father works in
mysterious ways. And I was able to pay my fast offering this week, so
yay! David was able to get to Laramie safe and sound and his little
girl, Fiona, is getting the medical help she needs now. Prayers for
them both would be much appreciated(: 

 We got to see the Mitch and Lola, these two awesome humans in the
Ward. She is a recent convert who hasn't been to church in a couple
years. We went inside their home and started to teach the Restoration.
The feeling in the room was tense and awkward. I said a prayer in my
head as Sister Jenks bore powerful testimony of how the gospel blesses
us in our families. I asked Heavenly Father to help me be bold, and He
did(: I really felt the Spirit teaching through me as I said, "Okay
you guys, I'm just going to be real with you, we aren't just here to
get you to show up at church. That would be nice and all, but we are
here because this is salvation, this is eternal life with your family,
this is all that matters. That's why we knocked on your door, because
you need that,". After Sister Jenks' brought the Spirit in with her
testimony, He was able to help me know what to say, and after that all
of their concerns came flooding out. They said we can come back again
this week(:
Something I've been considering this week is the word "after", and how many times it appears in the Book of Mormon. "Ye recieve no witness until after the trial of your faith,", "..After I had prayed unto the Lord...I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy...", "..After I, Nephi, had heard the words of my father..I was desirous that I might know of these things...". I love that so much. God wants us to have knowledge, He wants us to grow, but He can't do anything until after we exercise our faith in Him. After we pray, after we read, after we go to the church or the temple, after we are kind to someone, after we give up that one thing that is holding us back. Then, we receive what need. 

Laman and Lemuel NEVER had an
"after" experience, because they never took the step of exercising
their faith. They were dormant, stagnant, and unwilling to do what was
necessary to gain the desired result. I know that each of us can have
spiritual experiences with God if we are just willing to put in the
effort beforehand(: 

 I hope that this week can be full of "afters" for each and every one
of us(: I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father who answers our prayers
with what is best for each of us. I'm grateful for the chance to
exercise our faith each day.

 I love the gospel and I love all of you! 

 Love, Sister Allen

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 72: "Faith and Fear" (:

"Me and Sister Jenksy" (:

Dear family and friends, I just love you(: thank you all so much for your encouraging words and your sweet Valentine's Day cards and
letters. It's such an awesome opportunity to be out here spreading the
best and most charitable kind of love during this holiday, the love of
Jesus Christ(: I hope you were all able to share some "I love you's"
with the people who matter most.

 Heavenly Father is so amazing. He showered us with a lot of blessings
this week, and I'm so thankful. We got to start the week off with an
amazing girl named Jenna(: she got baptized back in January, and she
is so full of the Spirit and just radiates the love of God, it's
awesome. She is such a good example to everyone around her, and she
has been such a good influence on her friends. In our lesson, we had
her teach us about the Plan of Happiness, and it was really cool to
see how much she understands and her perspective of everything. The
gospel really is so simple(: I love the hope and the happiness that
she exudes, she has a great love for the Lord. 

We got to have interviews with President Brown this week. I love that
man. He really is inspired and I know he loves all of us so much. I am
so thankful for his counsel, his love, and his confidence in each of
us(: he is wonderful. 

 We had an awesome lesson with Tara and Lexi. Tara is a less active
member who has had lots of different ideals come into her life over
the years. She's very confused about religion, and really about God in
general. Her daughter, Lexi, is trying to decide if the church is
right for her and if God is even real. We had a very powerful lesson
with them on faith, repentance, and the Plan of Happiness. Tara was in
tears as the Spirit witnessed of the hope and peace that comes from
the knowledge that our loved ones aren't lost, and that we can see
them again some day. Her daughter asked lots of wonderful questions,
and we were able to testify of the fact that God does know us and love
us as individuals, and that He will answer our sincere prayers. He
lives, He is real, and He wants to help us through this life. Lexi is
now planning on being baptized in March(:

Okay, coolest miracle ever. So Dalene, this awesome lady who we are
teaching, was living in a hotel for a while. She has really been
progressing and immersing herself in the Book of Mormon, and we are so
excited. We went back to the hotel to teach her again, and she was
gone :( we tried calling her and the phone was disconnected. We
remembered that she mentioned that she and her daughter might move to
this one apartment complex. So we went there and we had a very
pleading prayer with Heavenly Father, telling Him that if He needed us
to teach Dalene, we needed Him to lead us to her. This apartment
complex has three floors, each with 20 apartments on it. After the
prayer, Sister Jenks felt like we should knock a door on the third
floor. No one was home, so we worked our way back down the stairs,
knocking a few doors as we went. We met a man named Brenton who is a
new investigator(: we were about to leave the complex, and the Spirit
made it really clear to me that we should knock the last two doors. I
told Sister Jenks, and she said "okay, I feel like we should knock the
one with the floor mat,". We did, and Dalene answered!!(: Heavenly
Father is so awesome. We had a great lesson and we were all so happy
to see each other. God is so good, all the time. 

We were also able to teach the Matechak's. We taught about the Plan of
Happiness, and the Spirit brought so many inspired questions into my
brain, which I was so grateful for because that's something that I've
really been working on. Sister Matechak bore her testimony so many
times in the lesson, it was really cool. Brother Matechak's heart is
definitely being worked on by the Spirit, you can see it in his eyes.
After the lesson he said, "Hey, we should have you guys over for
dinner sometime," (:
 "the cutest itty bitty baby cacti
that the Matechak's gave us!(:"
In my Book of Mormon reading lately, I've been reading about Nephi and his family and their journeys in the wilderness and across the sea. I've been thinking a lot about Laman and Lemuel, and the rest of Nephi's family (even Lehi, the prophet), and I realized something. We are ALL just like them sometimes. I can imagine them wandering in the wilderness, murmuring, "My feet hurt. I am so hungry. I feel sick. Why is it so hot out? I'm going to take a nap. Nephi, you're super annoying. Are we there yet? Heavenly Father, why on earth are we going through this right now?". 

In our journey through mortality, I think
each of us has a time where we ask, just as the Apostles did, "Master,
carest thou not that we perish?". (Mark 4: 38-40)

In response to His apostles plea, Christ answers, "Peace, be
still....Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?". 

was thinking a lot about Christ's response. I know the Apostles had
faith, and I know that Lehi did, so why would Christ say they had
none? It's because in that moment, they didn't. Fear and faith cannot
coexist. One cancels out the other. In life, we have many
opportunities to exercise one or the other. We can respond to life's
challenges with self pity and pessimism, or we can hold fast to the
joy and the peace that we know we receive through acting on our faith
in the Savior. Even if it's just a small particle of faith, it makes
all the difference. 

 In 2 Nephi 2:2, it says, "..Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he
shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain,". This week, I hope
we can all remember to place our faith in the One who knows what is
best for us, and that we can respond with positivity and great trust
Savior throughout our experiences.

 I love you all!(: 

 Love, Sister Allen

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 71: "I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus" (:

"Beautiful Cheyenne sunset!" (:

Hi everyone!(: I hope you all had a wonderful week, and if you didn't,
I want you to know that I love you and more importantly, God loves you
and is very aware of you(: this week has been exhausting in the best
way possible, I love having the privilege of serving the Lord.

We had some awesome lessons with the Beck's this week. It was cute, we
texted them Alma 13: 28-29 to read. When we came over the next day,
Brother Beck was like, "Well, I thought it meant all three chapters,
so I read all three!" haha(: We were able to teach them about tithing
and fasting, and the spiritual strength that comes as we sacrifice to
keep the commandments of God. We also had the opportunity to talk
about the importance of testimony. Probably the coolest thing that
happened all week was seeing Brother Beck realize a time where God's
hand had been so evident in his life. His eyes lit up and he bore his
testimony to us, and in that moment I really experienced a "fullness
of joy". Seeing others recognize the Savior's love is one of the most
beautiful things, and we have a front row seat in witnessing those
experiences. The changes that the Beck's have made to live the gospel
have been truly wonderful, and they are going to keep growing. Grandpa
Mike, Brother Beck reminds me so much of you(: I want you to meet him
"The Beck's" (:
Teaching the Crane's has been a really great experience. Brother Crane
has lots of questions, which has been neat because I have learned so
much from the Lord as I have been studying for the answers that
Brother Crane needs. It's really sweet, every time we come over, the
whole family automatically gets on their knees for the opening and
closing prayer, and Brother Crane is always the first one(: the Spirit
changes people, and it starts small but it makes all the difference.

We also had a great lesson with Tonya, this amazing lady who is
working on returning to activity. She reads her scriptures and prays
every single day, she's starting to keep all the commandments, and the
Spirit in her home is amazing. She has a cute little girl named
Isabella, and it makes me so happy knowing that she gets to grow up in
a place where the Spirit is present because of the righteous choices
that her mother is now making. I'm so thankful for the righteous
influence of my own mother(: honestly it has made all the difference,
especially in helping me come back to the gospel. Her unconditional
love for me and for God, her vision of the future and her "perfect
brightness of hope", and her determination to keep the commandments
and really live the gospel of Jesus Christ has been such an example to
me and is what eventually softened my heart. I love my mom(: and I
can't wait for Isabella to grow up and be an amazing young woman
because of the mom that Tonya is.

A cool miracle this week: we were on exchanges, and I was putting gas
in the car, and the pump was being weird and not working. So I poked
my head around the pump and asked the man next to us if he could help
me. As he was, I said a little prayer in my heart that I'd be able to
share the gospel with him. Two seconds later he said, "So, are you on
a mission??". We talked about the gospel and about how he had friends
who had gone on missions who now have awesome families. He agreed to
have the missionaries in Laramie come over and teach him(: so
awesome!!! God is so good, and I'm grateful that He made it extremely
difficult to put gas in the car so we could meet Mike.
"My beautiful companion....Sister Jenks and me!"(:

This week, I've been thinking so much about the part in 1 Nephi
Chapter 8 where Lehi talks about the vision that God showed him. In
the vision, Lehi is being led along and then he finds himself in "a
dark and dreary waste,". He goes on to say, "..after I had traveled
for many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he
would have mercy on me....after I had prayed unto the Lord..I beheld a
tree, whose fruit was desirous to make one I partook of the
fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore
I was desirous that my family should partake of it...they stood as if
they knew not whither they should go...I beckoned unto them,". I
pondered on this for a long time, and I realized how important Lehi's
example is.

We are all going to go through our own times of darkness and
confusion, because that happens in life. Sometimes we wander for
hours, for days, for years, and we just want to see the light.
Heavenly Father is always there, but He waits for us to open the door
and ask Him for the light that we need. "No one can know of spiritual
truths without prayer,". The second that Lehi prays, he is shown the
beautiful tree of life, which symbolizes God's love. Once Lehi is able
to feel that love for himself, he reaches out to everyone around him.
He wants to share the joy that he feels in his heart, and he isn't
afraid to invite others to partake of it, even when people mock him.
Because of his example, there were "...multitudes pressing
forward...and they did press their way forward, continually holding
fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and
partook of the fruit of the tree,". (:

I read a quote that said, "Live in such a way that people who know you
but don’t know Christ will want to know Christ because they know
you,". Our examples make such a huge difference. A simple smile, a few
kind words, one invitation, the way we live; that can change someone's
life, that can impact their salvation. How awesome will it be to fall
down at the feet of our Redeemer someday with the people that we have
loved and served.

I hope that each of us can really focus on being an example of the
Savior this week(: I love you all and am thankful for all your
prayers. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Allen

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 70: "To Do and To Become" (:

Hello everybody!(: This week has been amazing. I feel like I say that about every week haha. But it's true, even with the hard things that happen, every week is so full of miracles and blessings that I can't even begin to explain. But I'll try and tell you about a few!
The Beck's are so amazing. Brother Beck has had 20 sets of missionaries. Yes, you heard me right, 20. He is such a sweet man, and Sister Beck is great too. We went over this week with a member in our Ward and had a very powerful lesson on the blessings of living a pure life. After we had said the closing prayer, the Spirit prompted me so strongly to invite him to be baptized. When I did he said, "You know, it's a possibility,". What followed was so awesome, because it was a moment where I felt the Holy Ghost really testify through me. I was able to bear witness that setting a day to be baptized is showing God his commitment, and that he really does want to follow him, and that he will receive more blessings and answers as he acts on his faith. After a moment of silence, he said, "Well, let's do it! Let's set the date!". Sister Jenks and I were jumping up and down when we left the house! The Spirit is so amazing, it would be impossible to do this work without Him(: The Beck's came to church and brought their grandkids, and it was wonderful. We are so excited to see them continue to grow!
Another amazing teaching moment was with the Matechak's. Sister Matechak is a member, and Brother Matechak is not. He's had awesome experiences with missionaries and members serving him and his wife, and he really loves the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We taught them the Restoration, and it was a very spiritual experience. At the end of the lesson, we spoke about baptism, and he said, "I'm going to convert eventually, I'm just lazy right now,". Sister Jenks bore an awesome testimony of the fact that we can come to know these things are true for ourselves if we just have pure intent. Then, the Spirit made it really clear that we needed to make the urgency and importance of these things known to him. In 2 Nephi 32 verse 8, it talks about how "the evil spirit teacheth a man not to pray,". The evil spirit also teaches a man that these spiritual things aren't as important as our day to day hobbies and activities. Satan uses time against us, always trying to convince us that it's okay to put off the most important things for the things that bring us immediate and very temporary gratification. To enjoy is temporary, but to have joy is eternal(: As I bore my testimony of the urgency and importance of living the gospel now, Brother Matechak's eyes didn't leave mine. It was a pretty intense moment, but he agreed to read in Moroni and pray for himself to know if this is the path God wants him on(: It was one of the coolest experiences of my mission.
We also had a really great lesson with the Carpenter's. Brother Dyer came with us, and honestly he is such a good example of the kind of missionary I want to be when I go home. He has a genuine love for the people that we teach and he cares about them on a personal level, not just because he wants them to show up at church on Sunday. Sister Carpenter is so amazing and she's seeing the blessings of the gospel in her life. She has showed a lot of faith by coming back to church and letting us come over and share the gospel with her. I know that she'll continue to grow in the best ways as she stays on this path toward eternal life with her family(:
So I've been reading a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks from the November 2000 Ensign. It's called "The Challenge To Become,", and it is honestly one of the greatest things I have ever read. The Holy Ghost has taught me so much as I've pondered and prayed about his words. Something that really stuck out to me is what he said about Simon Peter. He talked about how "this man, who had followed Jesus for three years, who had been given the authority of the holy apostleship, who had been a valiant teacher and testifier of the Christian gospel, and whose testimony had caused the Master to declare him blessed, still had to be converted,". We all are on an ongoing path of conversion. It doesn't end once we've received a witness that these things are true. That's just the beginning! Elder Oaks goes on to say, "Jesus' challenge shows that the conversion He required for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven was far more than just being converted to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel. To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be converted, which requires us to do and to become. If any of us relies solely upon our knowledge and testimony of the gospel, we are in the same position as the blessed but still unfinished Apostles whom Jesus challenged to be converted,".
We are all unfinished people. Jesus Christ has invited every single person on this earth to come unto Him, to change, to grow, to learn, and to become. This pattern never ends. This gospel is a gospel of progress and deepening spirituality. And I am so grateful for that(: I hope that we can all do a little bit more to become a little better this week, so that we can be more converted and be more like Jesus Christ(:
I love you all! Sorry, my iPad is messed up, so no pictures this week!
Sister Allen(: