Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 81:.....the last email from the mission..."Truth"(:

Me and my beautiful best friend!
Hi everyone!(: I hope you are all feeling happy and bright today! I
guess if I had one word to describe this past week, it would be
surreal. My heart is so full of joy and gratitude for the miracles
that the Lord blessed us with, and at the same time I'm so incredibly
sad to have to leave Sister Larson, the people we are teaching/the
members in here in Wellington, and most of all, my full time mission. 

 We had an awesome lesson with Melissa and her best friend Jim this
week. She invited him to come and listen to the first lesson and have
lunch with us(: she's so awesome. We had a great discussion and he
said he is going to read and pray, and that if he finds out its true
he'll be baptized! My favorite part of the whole lesson was when
Melissa bore her testimony(: it's been amazing to see how far she has
come in a short 7 weeks. She has a light in her eyes and conviction in
her voice when she speaks about the Savior, and that is so cool to
see. I love her(: 

 Eric is progressing so wonderfully. The Lord is strengthening him and
changing his heart. We had a lesson at the Flakes, and we watched
President Monson's address in the Priesthood session of conference,
and afterwards we taught him about the priesthood. Brother Flake was
so involved in the lesson, it was awesome, and when he bore his
testimony about how the priesthood has changed him, the Spirit was
powerful. Eric just sat there, not fidgeting or distracted like he can
sometimes be, his eyes were just focused on Brother Flake. Afterwards
he was like, "I really like that. It's all to bless others, I think
that's awesome,". In our second lesson, we had three members with us,
and we taught the Word of Wisdom. Eric said he is going to live it,
even if that means giving up coffee(: I am so incredibly grateful for
the Word of Wisdom. Living that commandment of the Lord has changed my
life and my vision, and I know that the Lord really does know what is
best for us. I just love Heavenly Father(:

Us with Eric!
Sami came back into town!(: and guess what? She got her answer from
Heavenly Father that the Book of Mormon is true and that she needs to
be baptized. She had some really eye opening experiences this past
week that led her to her answer. She said, "So I'm gonna do this, I'm
gonna get baptized. And I'm going to start quitting smoking today, I
know I need too,". She is so great! Her grandpa is a pastor for
another church, and she called him to tell him the exciting news. He
wasn't too happy, and said he won't be attending her baptism. When I
asked her how she was feeling about the whole situation, she said,
"It's fine. I can't deny what I know now, and ultimately it's my
decision, and this is what I want,". Ah I'm so excited for her and so
proud of her! It reminds me of what Joseph Smith said when he was
being persecuted; "I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could
not deny it,".

 Sami and Eric both came and watched someone be baptized this Saturday.
They loved it! Eric said, "I just want to jump in there right now!"
Haha. Sister Larson and I were asked to give talks in the middle of
the service, and Sister Larson had Eric come up and bear his
testimony. It was so sweet to see him bear a simple, powerful
testimony of the most basic principles of the gospel. I was praying in
my head the whole time that he would be able to say what he needed to
say, and that I would be able to know what to say afterwards. As I
stood there, a scripture came to my mind. Mosiah 5: 2, "Yea, we
believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we
know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord
Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts,
that we have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually,".
I shared that, and I don't remember what else I said, but the Spirit
warmed my heart and I realized that Eric and Sami are both
experiencing this mighty change of heart. Their desires have changed.
And it's because of the Spirit and the love of our Savior. It's
amazing(: and that's what the gospel does, it changes us from the
inside out. It helps us to become new creatures in Christ, better than
we could ever even imagine.

 Eric and Sami are both so excited to be
baptized in July.

Yesterday, we were at Brother Cary's with Eric and Kate. Brother Cary
was playing the guitar and we all sang "I Am A Child Of God,". Eric
was just sitting and staring out the window. All of sudden, tears
filled his eyes. We all sat and watched him for a moment, and then he
said, "You know, I'm changing. I can feel it. My life is so different
now than it was a year ago, and I just can't believe it. I'm so
different,". He wiped more tears away and then just sat still and
quiet. 

It caused me to reflect so much on how my life has changed. It
was almost 3 years ago that the gospel really became a part of my
life. I have changed. I can feel it(: it's the best change, and there
still needs to be a lot more change, but I know that it is possible
because I have my Savior. His Atonement has made all of this possible,
and I don't know where I would be without Him. 

 Later, we all headed over to the Stevens for dinner. They were so cute
and they had a bunch of little decorations set up for me. We had just
finished dinner, and all of a sudden the Rhodes walked in the door. I
was super confused. Then the Holmans, then Sister Hansen, and then so
many more people that I love. "Surprise!!". Tears started running down
my face. Sister Rhodes and Sister Larson and the other members and our
investigators all came together and planned this little surprise party
for me. It was the sweetest thing ever. I love everyone here so much.
At the end of it all, Brother Stevens asked me to give a closing
prayer. The warmth and joy in my heart as I prayed was such a
wonderful feeling. I'm so grateful for the chance that I have had to
love so many of God's children, not just here in Wellington, but in
Fort Collins, Longmont, Casper, and Cheyenne as well. It has been such
a privilege and a blessing.

The Stevens girls!
I had two really special experiences this week. 1. I got to have my
departing interview with President Brown. I love President and Sister
Brown with all of my heart. And I know that they love me. More
importantly, they love the Lord. I have learned so much from both of
them, and I know that the Lord knew I would need their examples in my
life. President Brown gave me lots of inspired counsel, and I'm so
thankful. There were lots of laughs, and even more tears. He gave a
beautiful closing prayer, and once it was over I couldn't help but
feel an aching in my heart. I'm going to miss them so much. 2. I got
to go through the Denver Temple(: after not going to the temple for a
year and a half, it was much needed. The peace and the love and just
the feeling of being there was even better than I remembered. I know
the temple is the house of God. I know that it is so worth it to go,
it's so worth it to fix whatever we need to fix and do whatever we
need to do to step foot into that lovely place, because the Spirit of
God is there, and it is there in abundance(:
Departing Temple Trip
I've been reflecting a lot this week on the last 18 months. A year and a half ago, I stepped off the plane in the Denver airport, and "from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost,". 

Because of this chance to
labor in the Lord's vineyard, I have grown to love so many beautiful
souls and I've grown to love my Savior more than ever.

Every good thing in my life has come because of the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Every joy that I experience, every amazing human that I've had
the chance of meeting, every peaceful moment in the midst of turmoil,
and every weight that has been lifted through repentance, all of it
has come because of this gospel.

 I know that Jesus Christ is real. He
lives. This is His gospel, this is His church. He is our Redeemer, and
He loves us. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and we have a prophet
today, President Thomas Spencer Monson. The Book of Mormon and the
Bible are the word of God, and they are true. This is all true. I know
it with my whole heart, and it makes me feel so overjoyed to be able
to say that. 

I love Heavenly Father, I love Jesus Christ, and I love
the Holy Ghost. "I have been supported under trials and troubles of
every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has
delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I
do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me,". 

 My full-time mission is over, but my lifelong mission is just now
starting, and it's going to be a wonderful, glorious, difficult
adventure. However, I know that if I put my trust in the One who has
never given up on me, He will always direct my path(: 

 I love each of you. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me.
It's been amazing, you're all amazing, and I can't wait to give you
hugs/talk with you in person! Stay in touch. 

 Love, Sister Sarah Anne Allen(:

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 80: "The Greatest Of These Is Charity" (:

me and my best friend(:
Good morning everyone!(: I hope you all had a fantastic week. We have seen so many miracles this week, and I'm so grateful(: it's has been one of the best and hardest weeks of my mission, but I know that every trial equals out to an even greater blessing, and God has been pouring blessings out upon everyone that we have been teaching. He is so wonderful!(: 

We had some really awesome lessons with Sami and Amanda this week. They asked us to come over on Monday night so we stopped by and taught the Restoration again (Amanda wasn't there for it the first time). As I shared the First Vision, Sami got a huge smile on her face and said, "That gave me the chills again! I love hearing about Joseph's experience,". The Spirit is so awesome(: Amanda opened up and talked about how she wished she could have an experience like that, that God could come and tell her that her dad was okay and in a good place up there with him. Then, she said, "Oh, I just remembered something!". She went to her bag and found a little picture of her dad. On the back was a poem, and in the poem it talked about her dad being safe. We explained to Amanda that the Spirit brings things to our remembrance and that it was the Spirit that helped her remember that picture in her bag. God answered her prayers(: as soon as we said that she started crying. It was a very sweet moment and the Spirit was very strong in the room. They both expressed a desire to be baptized, and Sami especially wants to do all she can to align herself with God so that she can get to that point. When people feel His love and are open to the Spirit, it motivates them to act in faith. Sami is a perfect example of that!(: 

We went back again with Sister Rhodes, and had a very powerful lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sami said that she wants to be baptized on the 16th. She said that she knows that God is reaching out to her and moving her in the right direction, and that she feels so good about all of this(: we were so excited for her! The next day, we got a phone call asking if we could come over. Sami found out that she and her boss and Amanda are all moving :/ they were renting the house and the ranch and it's been sold now, so they have to leave. With the help of people in the Ward, we helped them fill a truckload of stuff. Sami said that she is still planning on meeting with the missionaries wherever they end up moving to. I know the Lord will help Sami along her way(: He can see her desires and He knows what she needs right now. I trust that wherever she ends up, things will work out, and I'm so grateful for the time we got to have with her and Amanda. It was cool, when we were helping their boss (Kat) move stuff, we found out that she is a less active member who has been thinking about coming back to church! We got to have some great talks with her, and she is planning on going to church next Sunday(: definitely not a coincidence that we met her.



We had some very powerful lessons with Eric this week(: he's such a good man, and his heart has definitely been prepared to receive the gospel. The Flakes came with us to one of the lessons, and the Rhodes came with us to another one. I love these humans so much, and their testimonies were wonderful! Eric said the closing prayer in the first lesson, and it was the best and most meaningful prayer that he has said yet. You can see that he has been talking to Heavenly Father when we aren't around, and that is such a happy moment as a missionary(: he has been asking God to help him know if he should be baptized on the 16th. He said, "Just so ya'll know, I'm really going to do my part with reading and praying this week, because I feel like this is my next step but I just need to be sure and that's only gonna happen if I do this every day,". We came back for our second lesson, and we were sitting outside talking because it was a beautiful day. Eric has a friend named Mike, and we see him all the time and he's super nice. He walked by and Sister Larson and I both really wanted him to come and talk with us. I started praying in my head and asking Heavenly Father to give me something to start a conversation with. Then, I noticed that he was wearing a Bon Iver shirt!(: lightbulb. We started talking about uplifting music and he actually ended up staying for the whole lesson on fasting and the sabbath day. He even asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon afterward. I know that God helped that happen, and I'm super grateful! Eric and Mike both agreed to fast, and Eric specifically fasted about being baptized(:

The Rhodes picked him up for church the next day, and he came for all three hours. Everyone in the Ward was so awesome, Eric made so many friends and looked overjoyed the whole time. He called us later and we asked him how he liked church. "Girls, I loved it. I felt so happy there and it was just awesome. I loved it so much. And I want to be baptized on the 16th!"(: As soon as we hung up the phone, Sister Larson and I freaked out haha. I'm so grateful to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, to the awesome people here in Wellington, and to the Spirit for helping Eric receive his answer. He is going to talk to his supervisor in his recovery program today about being baptized, we are praying that it all works out the way it is supposed too.

Not too long after our second lesson with Eric, I started to feel really weird. I was dizzy and my stomach hurt, but I was like, "It's fine, I don't want to waste time, blah blah blah,". Well, we got to dinner at Brother Cary's house, and the second we walked in his door I knew that things were really not good. Sister Larson is such a sweetheart and she was really worried. I ended up having another stomach attack thingy at his house (this is the first time we have ever eaten with him), and it was the worst one I've had so far. I felt so bad, but he was so sweet about it. Sister Larson asked if I wanted a blessing, and I know that was inspired, because when I said yes, Brother Cary looked nervous. He went on to tell us that he had just been ordained an Elder not too long ago, and that he had never given a blessing before. We opened up our white handbooks and let him read how to do it, and he called Brother Walker over to help. It was such a sweet blessing, and the Spirit was so comforting. I know that I needed to get sick at Brother Cary's so that he could have the chance to exercise his Priesthood authority(: it was a very sacred experience, and I know I won't ever forget it. While the pain didn't leave immediately, I felt the calm reassurance that God knows what is going on and He is watching out for me. I love Him, and I love the fact that there are so many worthy Priesthood holders in my life. I'm so grateful.

beautiful, wonderful, absolutely lovely Colorado!(: 

Lastly, one of the best moments of my mission. So we've been teaching Melissa, a less active woman in her 20's. She has been returning to activity, and her life has been incredibly difficult. She has two little boys and she and her husband aren't together anymore. She's a personal trainer at the gym (we seriously have so much fun talking, I look up to her so much and she's inspired me even more to reach for my goals and dreams), and she's been doing CNA classes. She's so busy and she has really been striving to turn to Heavenly Father. We had an amazing lesson with her this week where we talked about conference. She has been reading and praying and feels God's help in times of temptation. She has grown so much, and it has been awesome to witness(: I love her. Yesterday during sacrament, she got up and bore her testimony for the third time in her whole life. She was in tears and the light that illuminated her face as she spoke of the gratitude she has for Heavenly Father was absolutely beautiful. Sister Larson and I were both crying, and the amount of love and happiness in my heart at that moment was kind of surreal. I remember when I bore my testimony for the first time after coming back to the gospel. It was a little scary but it felt amazing, and you could see that Melissa felt amazing standing up there. I am so proud of her for the changes she has made(: 

So, Eric just called us and let us know that he talked to his supervisor at the program he's a part of, and he said that Eric can't be baptized until he finishes the program. They said he can still meet with us and go to church every Sunday, but they are worried that if he converts other people will start wanting to do that too (a reasonably good worry). The emotion and the sadness in Eric's voice was a little heartbreaking, but in that moment, the Spirit spoke through Sister Larson and I. We were able to help him know that God is proud of him, that this is a test of faith and patience, and that it will all work out as he keeps meeting with the missionaries, reading, praying, and coming to church(: he said, "Well...that's what I'll do! I'll stay here and work hard and keep going and then in July when I graduate the program, I will get baptized! I am so excited!". 

As we hung up the phone, I couldn't help but feel a little sadness in my heart that Eric can't be baptized. Then, literal words came to my mind, saying, "Sisters, he may not be able to be converted physically, but he has been converted in his heart,". It brought tears to my eyes and the warmth of the Spirit washed over my soul. I know that God is at the helm, and I can't wait to come back in July and see Eric get baptized(: 

So long story short, Heavenly Father is amazing. I love Him, I love this gospel, I love my best friend Sister Larson, I love all the people in Wellington. I love this work!(: I'm grateful for the power of prayer, the power of fasting, the power of the priesthood, the power of the temple, and the power of love. I know that the key to enjoying our lives and enduring to the end is charity. The key to happiness and fulfillment and eternal life is charity. The key to being a great husband or wife, parent or child, or just a great human in general, is charity(: "Wherefore my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail,". All things must fail, but the pure love of our Savior is the one thing that is constant and unchanging. And it's something we can feel, share, gain, and experience every single day. We just have to pray for it!

I hope that this week we can all spread charity to the people that we come in contact with(: I love you all!

Love, Sister Allen



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Week 79: "He Loves Us With His All"(:

Me and my bestest buddy(:
 Hi everyone!(: I hope you all had a fantastic week and I hope that you all got to watch General Conference. I am so grateful for the fact that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that He enables us to hear from our prophet, President Thomas Spencer Monson, and his apostles and other inspired leaders in the church. I know that they truly are men and women of God, and I've come to know that through watching conference and praying to know for myself. The feeling that the Spirit has given me is a calm assurance of trust in God and His chosen servants, and I know that each of us can receive an answer according to our faith, which is so cool! If you missed out on the chance to watch, you can go to LDS.org and see it all(: 

 Heavenly Father loves us and He loves the wonderful souls here in Wellington. That was witnessed to us time and time again through the many big and small miracles that we experienced this week. One of those miracles was meeting John. He is friends with some members in the Ward, and we've called him a lot trying to find a time to meet him. We were meeting with our Relief Society President, and John was there with her husband working outside. We had already gotten in the car and driven away when Sister Knotts called us and said, "Can you come back, John is here and has some questions for you!" (: We talked with John and Brother Knotts for 30 minutes outside. John talked about how he just feels right about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and how he knows it can help him, especially when he is surrounded by things that try and take away from his hope. Brother Knotts bore an awesome testimony on how hope is the center of our gospel, and as he did, 2 Nephi 31:20 popped into my head, so I shared it. "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if he shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life,". John had a huge smile on his face. "I love that! I'm going to show that to my wife,". I know the Spirit brought that scripture to my remembrance and I know he did it so that John could see that the Book of Mormon really does bring us closer to the Savior. Sister Larson offered a beautiful closing prayer, and John was like, "Did you just come up with that? Like did you just say whatever you wanted?". Getting to explain to this humble man that he has a Father in Heaven who loves Him and wants to hear from him was a very sweet experience. I know that the Lord is reaching out for John right now. 

 We had two amazing lessons with Sami and her friend Amanda this week. Sami invited Amanda to start sitting in on our lessons, and it has been such an awesome experience. Amanda has a lot of questions. In our first lesson, she asked, "So, how old are you?". I told her 21. Her next question, "So, can you like drink beer? And what about guys? And what about coffee?". We taught them about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. I felt really strongly that I needed to bear my testimony of how keeping those commandments has changed my life. Honestly, the peace and relief and the confidence with my Heavenly Father that I have gained through striving to treat my body like a temple has been such a gift. Not to mention the fact that I can feel the Spirit more abundantly and in a constant flow rather than every now and then. I know that these commandments are inspired and meant to help us be happy, that is God's joy, to see us be truly happy(: I don't remember everything I said, but Amanda and Sami were both really quiet afterwards. We talked about our purpose in life, and Sister Larson was totally led by the Spirit as she spoke about how obedience to God's commandments helps us maintain direction here on earth. It allows us to have a closeness to the Spirit so we can be led in the right way.

 We went back the next day with Gretchen. We sat down and I asked if they had read from the scriptures. Sami said, "Yeah we did, and this morning when we were getting ready for the day, we were talking about confidence and what you said about our bodies being temples. Both of you set a good example of how you can be happy doing the things that you taught us about yesterday. So I broke up with my boyfriend, because he doesn't treat my body like a temple, and me and Amanda are going to be more focused on doing what God said is good for us,". I had biggest smile on my face(: we didn't ask Sami to stop living with her boyfriend, we didn't ask her and Amanda to give up things, we asked them to read the scriptures and pray. And by reading and praying and the promptings of the Spirit, they did the other things themselves(: they are experiencing "a mighty change of heart...having no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually,". I love them both so much, this has been such an amazing change to witness.

   Us with Eric
Oh my goodness, Eric. Such a wonderful human. So, we taught him twice
is week and Sister Rhodes came with us. The first time we saw him, he
kneeled and prayed at the end of the lesson and asked God if this was
right for him. He told us that during the prayer he got the strongest
feeling that he just needed to trust what we were saying. The second
time we went and saw him, we all sat on hay bales outside and read the
introduction to the Book of Mormon. Sister Rhodes bore a powerful
testimony of the importance of praying about the Book of Mormon
specifically, and praying to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Eric has been worried because he has been going to another church and
he doesn't want to hurt people's feelings there, but he feels like
this is right for him. Sister Rhodes invited him to come over and
watch conference with us on Sunday. Eric is a really energetic guy,
so sitting there was hard for him. Sister Rhodes gave him a Book of
Mormon picture book to read during it. After it ended, he turned to me
and said (in his very country accent), "Sister Allen, I prayed about
Joseph Smith being a prophet like Miss Rhodes said, and I think I got
my answer. When I prayed, John the Baptist came to my mind, and I
realized that he was the one that had the authority to baptize Jesus,
and that's the same authority that Joseph Smith had, so Joseph Smith
must be a prophet. And that means I need to be baptized,". I sat
there, shocked and so grateful and happy that God answered Eric's
prayer in a way that he could understand it(:

We all went around the room after conference ended and we said what we
learned or felt. When we got to Eric, he sat there for a long time.
Then he said, "You know, I'm just so grateful to be here. I'm so
grateful. And ya'll know its real hard for me to focus, and I can't
remember which older gentleman said it, but I know that I need to
trust God more, I know that I need to trust Him because He loves me,".
Tears filled his eyes and everyone else's as he spoke and the Spirit
in the room was overwhelming. I love that man so much, he has been
through a lot of hardship and he is coming to know his Father in
Heaven in such a personal way right now. What a huge miracle and
blessing to be able to see him grow. God is good(:

        Reunited with Sister Jenksy!(: 

I have been very humbled and amazed by the Lord this week. Even while
I'm writing this I can't help but tear up, because we've seen God
answering so many people that we love. We've seen Him reaching out as
they have been reaching up. 

In Conference, Elder Holland said, "The
first great truth of eternity is that Heavenly Father loves us with
all of His heart, might, mind, and strength,". I know that is true
with my whole heart. I know that God loves the people we teach, I know
He loves each of you, I know He loves me. And I know that He's not
waiting until we are perfect to love us fully. He loves us with His
all, and He especially loves us when we are hurting, afraid, alone, or
feel abandoned. 

I know that all it takes to feel that love is opening
our hearts to receive it. So many times in my life, my choices or my
mindset prohibit me from feeling the love of God in the way that He
wants me to feel it. But I know that as I yield my heart to Him and
give Him my all, even if my all may not feel like much, He sees that
and His love is felt in a richer way. 

 I hope that each of us can open our hearts more to God through
obedience, through sacrifice, through trust, whatever it may be that
is holding us back. We heard so many awesome spiritual truths at
conference yesterday, and "if we believe all these things," we should
"see that we do them," (: 

 Love, Sister Allen