Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hello po!

The best year and a half of my life has come to a bitter-sweet close, but good things are ahead.  President Thomas S. Monson said, “The future is as bright as your faith.”  My faith is stronger than it ever has been, and my future is looking bright.  I am looking forward to studying at Utah State University, working, being with family and friends, and applying the things I learned from my mission in my every-day life.

I returned home from the Philippines one month ago.  A piece of that beautiful country and people will forever hold a place in my heart, and a part of me will always remain there with them.  I will always remember my time in the Philippines as one of the happiest of my life.  Missions end, but missionaries don’t.  Even though I am no longer a full-time missionary - even though I took off that name tag a month ago - I am still a missionary in my heart. 

Writing this blog each week during my mission was an unexpected blessing.  I didn’t know that I could influence and inspire people at home with the simple things I wrote each week.  I have loved sharing my experiences with all of you, and I am thankful for all of those who read my blog each week.  I wanted to write this final blog post, a sort of closure piece to finish it off.

The past eighteen months changed me.  They changed me as a person, as a daughter, as a sister, as a student, and as a friend.  I became more aware of my potential, my divine nature, and I became more like Christ.  I learned so much about the world and about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in turn, learned so much about myself.  I discovered my strengths, my weaknesses, my fears, my hopes, and my dreams.  Heavenly Father shaped me and molded me into a better person, and although that was uncomfortable and difficult at times, I am forever grateful.  I am the person I am today because of my mission.

It sounds cliché, but missions really are the best eighteen months (or two years).  There’s nothing in the world that can compare to the experience of a mission.  There is no better place to learn and grow than in the vineyard of the Lord.  Serving a mission was the best choice I ever made.  I learned to find joy and light in myself, in each moment, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I learned to let that joy and light shine.  When I discovered that I was surrounded by so much good and so much light, it became almost impossible to fear or doubt; it was natural for me to be joyful and happy. 

­Nelson Mandela quoted “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I know that everyone has a light inside of them.  Each of us are children of God and we have every reason to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous.  I know that Heavenly Father lives, that He loves me, and that I am His daughter.  I know Jesus Christ is the Savior.  He is the Light of the world.  I believe in miracles.  I believe in angels.  I trust that Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for us.  I know that the only source of peace and joy in this life is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know and love each of us.  I know it with all my heart.


Always remember to find the joy in everything.

xo Anna Ray Allen

Monday, February 27, 2017

A pretty bird painting that we pass by practically every day.
I finally took a picture by it.
Hello po! 

I can't believe that I will see you all in FOUR DAYS!  I am so excited to see you all.  I can't wait to experience coming down the escalator and seeing all of you there, waiting for me.  Ah!  It makes me excited!  

Although I am coming home, a part of me feels like I am leaving home.  The Philippines has become a part of me, and in leaving, I feel like I am leaving a piece of myself behind.  I love the people here.  I love the culture.  I love the adventure and I love the farms and fields.  I love speaking Tagalog and I love Filipino food.  Even though I am leaving the Philippines, it will never really go away.  I know that the Philippines has become a part of me and that it will forever stay.  The Philippines has my heart.  

Last night, I could sleep thinking about all the things I had to do (like pack....which I haven't done yet...AHH!).  It still hasn't really hit me yet that I'm leaving.  I know it's coming, but I don't think I fully comprehend it yet.  

This week was an amazing week.  It was so spiritually filling.  The Philippines Cauayan Mission had the special opportunity to be visited by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with his wife, Sister Bednar, and the PH area president and his wife, Elder and Sister Bowen.  On Friday, we spent three wonderful hours learning and listening to the words of Elder Bednar and those with him.  It was such an inspired meeting.  It was also nothing like I expected it to be.  Elder Bednar involved us so much in his messages by asking us questions, letting us ask him questions, and discussing ideas together.  I learned so much.  One thing that stood out to me was this:  EMBRACE CHANGE.  It was a timely message for me, seeing that I am about to make a big change in my life from full time missionary to returned missionary.  Most people don't like to change because it scares them.  But Heavenly Father's plan is the plan of eternal progression, and if we want to progress, we need to change.  When we change to make our lives in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ, change is always good and always bring blessings.  I made a goal this week to EMBRACE CHANGE.  

Today is my last day of working and teaching as a full-time missionary.  Tomorrow (Tuesday), I head to the mission home for departure activities with President and Sister Hiatt, and on Wednesday morning I'll fly to Manila and spend the day there.  Finally, on Thursday morning I'll make the loooooooong journey home to you.

I love you all.  I can't wait to see you all.


xo Sister Allen

Our zone conference.  I'm standing on the leftish side.

Photo with the WHOLE MISSION (178 missionaries!) and Elder and Sister Bednar and the area president Elder and Sister Bowen.  I'm on the far right on the third row. 

Elder and Sister Jones are a senior couple in the PCM.  I ADORE THEM.  I want to be them when I am old.  They head home a week after me.  I was lucky to serve with them for my entire mission.  The are amazing!  Elder Jones is an alpaca vet!!

Monday, February 20, 2017

At the career workshop.  Finishing strong!

Hello po!

I am so excited to see you all soon!  It still doesn't feel real to me that I am going home in just a few days.  I don't know when it will hit me.... maybe when I'm on the plane?  Or maybe when I finish packing?  I'm not sure when my brain and heart will finally accept the fact that I am leaving the Philippines.  Time has flown so fast! I was planning on dieting before I came home, but I would rather enjoy the food while I'm here, so I'm doing that instead.  Hehe. 

I have had a good week.  I am so happy being a missionary.  I love serving, teaching, studying the gospel, and everything else about missionary work.  This week we had a good week of work.  

On Tuesday we had our district meeting.  It was good.  It was also Valentine's day on Tuesday!  I gave my companion some candy and a card, and she did the same for me.  It was fun.  

On Wednesday I had my last companion exchanges with the sisters.  It was fun!  My companion was Sister Mafi.  She's from Tonga.  She's super tall and fun and I loved working with her.  

On Thursday I had my career workshop.  Career workshop is for all the missionaries who are headed home.  It's kind of like an "how to be an adult" class.  It was fun.  We learned about job interviews, things to do when we get home, and being successful.  I learned a lot.  It kind of made me stressed out to think for one whole day about my future, but it's okay.  I am excited to apply the things I have learned.  I know that being a missionary has shaped me into someone who will be a good student and a good member of the church.  I am excited to use all the things that I have learned in real life. 

On Friday and Saturday we just had work work work work and lessons lessons lessons.  It was good! 

Sunday was my 18 month mark.  I've been out here for so long!  My companion and housemates surprised me with a cake.  It was cute!  The ward also threw a "Goodbye Sister Allen" party.  We had some investigators come to church for the first time, which was great! That's a great feeling. I was so happy that they came.




xo Sister Allen

HAHAHA I have no idea what I'm doing in this picture....hahaha!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hello po! 

I am doing well!  I am happy and hard working.  I am trying to give everything I've got to the last stretch of my mission.  My wounds are all healed up.... all that's left are scars.  Hopefully those will go away in the coming months.  I still get a little scared sometimes when a motorcycle or tricycle drives past us in the night, but I wear my bag differently so that they couldn't get to it.  I don't feel as nervous or scared as I did before.  I am mentally healing from the experience as well.  

This past week went by so fast!  We had a full week of lessons and exchanges with the sisters.  I'm not sure how many lessons we taught...I think about 35 or 40.  We don't report the number of lessons we teach anymore, so I don't know exactly how many lessons we taught.  Our area and ward are doing great!  I love it here in Santiago.  The members are all so supportive and loving.  Our ward had it's annual temple trip to the Manila temple and three families from our ward were sealed.  I am so happy for them!  

We had many wonderful lessons this week.  One of our investigators, Ghail, is so amazing.  Ghail makes a living by doing graphic design for greeting cards and things like that.  She has a cute little four year old daughter, Althea.  We have taught her several times and the Spirit is always so strong in each lesson.  Our last lesson, we taught about the Book of Mormon.  Sister Ghail told us that her heart feels like it is searching for something.  She also told us that she feels light and happy when we come to her house but that when we leave, that feeling slowly slips away.  Ghail is so prepared for the gospel and we can see that she has a pure heart.  I am excited to see where things go with her this week.  Our goal for her this week is church attendance.  She hasn't been able to come yet!  We are hoping and praying that she will come.  She is so amazing and she deserves the gospel in her life. 

I love being a missionary.  I can't believe how fast time flies.  I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week.

xo Sister Allen

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hello po! 

I am doing good.  I am healthy and happy and strong.  I can't believe how fast my wounds have healed!  All that's left are scars.  Missionary has become such a part of me.  It feels natural to work and preach the gospel.  

This week was a good week.  So many wonderful things happened.  This past week, we attended a missionary broadcast.  The broadcast was from the missionary department of the church.  There were changes in the missionary schedule and reporting that were announced.  It was exciting!  I don't think it would really interest anyone but missionaries....  It's all too hard to explain haha.  Basically, they are focusing the work on only the most important things and they are giving us more time to work during the day and more time to rest and prepare in the morning and evening.  It's all good changes.  I know that these changes from the Brethren are exactly what God wants for His missionaries.  The work is moving forward! 

My companion and I also attended MLC this week.  It was wonderful.  President and Sister Hiatt are amazing.  We talked about the changes from the missionary broadcast and talked about how missionaries can more effectively teach repentance to all.  The following day, I had my cycle-ly interview with President and Sister Hiatt.  They both commented on my English.... President Hiatt said that I sound like a Filipina when I speak English.  Sister Hiatt told me that I need to work on my English.  HAHA.  I guess that's a mark of a foreign missionary.  

We had a great "half day mission" with the members this past Sunday.  Us and the members split up into groups and went out to find less actives.  We found a TON.  Sister Delinila and I are excited to go back and visit them with members.  We are having meeting regularly and we just got a new ward mission leader who is a returned missionary.  The ward and it's members are getting stronger and are getting more involved in missionary work. 

This week we also attended a funeral for a young couple whose baby died at two months old.  The baby was born premature and as a result had all sorts of health issues.  The couple was sad, of course, but they seemed so calm and peaceful despite the sorrowful experience.  That peace came from the plan of salvation.  They each gave their testimonies in sacrament meeting on Sunday and each shared how grateful they are for the plan, how blessed they were to care for their little son for a few months, and how hopeful they are that they will see him again someday.  It was heartbreaking, but filled with hope.  The plan of salvation is so real, and I am so grateful for it.  Because of the plan and because of the Atonement, all that is unfair in life will be made right.  Life isn't always fair, but through the Atonement, everything will be.  Broken hearts will heal.  Scars will fade.  Hope and light and life will always prevail.


xo Sister Allen

(another darling letter from Sister Delinila to the family)

hello mother sister allen and the rest of the family,

sister allen is healing really fast. even the members seemed surprised. i can see she is doing better emotionally too. she is strong and i thought to myself how amazing she is. she keeps saying how excited she is to be with you especially with Sage. i'll miss her when she leaves. we've gotten really close with each other. 

yesterday, the members planned out a farewell party for her and i can see how much they love her and appreciate her. i know its all because of how loving and thoughtful sister allen is. she radiates happiness and the members are just drawn to her. 

it is funny because when we were working out the police reports and stuff, sister allen told me that i remind her of her mom. i think it was because i was drilling on the staff guy who simply told us there was no way to find the guy who did that to her. thankfully, sister allen was there to calm me down.

im sure you would love to know more stories about sister allen. i thought you might want to know this incident from last week. this is part of the letter i sent to my family today:

On tuesday, we taught a less active family we were working on. their kids were screaming like crazy and running around the room. we had to pause midway through the lesson while waiting for the father to calm them down. while waiting, i whispered to sister allen that i will miss her once she goes home. she looked at me funny then frowned and blurted out "Don't say that! you're going to make me cry." then her eyes started to tear up. hah! i don't want her to cry but she's so cuuuuttteee...

take care!
Sister Delinila

A family home evening this past week.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Hello hello! 

I am doing good!  I really am.  I have had such a speedy recovery from the accident last week.  When I was at the hospital, Bishop Tamayo and some of the other members stopped by to make sure that I was okay.  It was very nice of them to do that.  As I was laying there, a few of them kept saying things like, "You'll probably have to rest for a few days," and "Your mission president might transfer you for safety," and "I bet you'll have to stay in the mission home for a week," and things like that.  I know they were saying those things out of concern, but I started to get annoyed.  I told them, "NO!  I am going to be fine and I am going to do the work that I have been sent here for."  They were quiet after that, but I could tell they didn't believe me.  On Sunday morning, there Sister Delinila and I were, standing and smiling at the front doors like we always do.  They stared and said, "You didn't have to stay in the mission home?  You didn't have to just rest?  You didn't get transferred?"  Me: "NOPE!" :)  The priesthood blessing that the zone leaders gave me was very powerful, and I have been doing my best to put my fears behind me and just to live in faith.  Because of that, I am healing.  

Because you asked, I'll give you an update on my injuries.  I was SO SORE for the first few days.  I really felt like I got dragged down the street a few blocks.... hahaha.  Cause I did!  I was like an old lady sitting down and standing up.  My legs for the first few days were the most sore and it was hard to walk.  Moving my legs moved my skin, which moved the abrasions, which HURT.  Luckily it has been cold and rainy this week, so there weren't any flies flying around my abrasions.  Whoohoo.  I had a hard time sleeping for the first few nights.  When I woke up one morning, I didn't realize that all my abrasions on one leg had stuck to my sheet, so when I got up, it ripped all of the new skin and scabs off....ouch!  I have a better set up now:  I don't put my blanket over my legs (just the upper half of my body), put a stack of pillows under my legs so that the abrasions don't touch the bed, put some socks on my feet (cause they get cold), and then go to sleep.  It's been working good.  My abrasions are all dry now and are healing well.  No signs of infection.  I slather them with neosporin a couple times a day.  My bruises are still there, but they're starting to fade a little.  My elbow is fine.  It's healing up the fastest.  The giant hole in my hand has been the most painful, but it's doing okay now.  It is healing up too and has a good layer of scabs and new skin.  My hand was really sore too for this whole week.  Today and yesterday were the first days that I could use it normally.  Bathing for the first few days was almost impossible.  The water hurt my wounds too much, so to wash my body, I just gave myself a sponge bath (thank goodness for baby wipes and washcloths!).  To wash my hair, I just hung my hair next to the faucet in the shower and did my best to wash it with one hand, which didn't work very well.  But HALLELUJAH, I found dry shampoo at the drug store so I was saved.  Yes!  Perfect timing!  So basically I showered as little as possible.  Haha ew.  Now that my wounds are dry and healing, I can shower fine.  No problem.  I just shower in the normal water, and then wash and rinse my wounds with the filtered, clean water afterwards. 

The hardest part of all of this was the effect it had on me, mentally.  I was so scared to go out and work and to ride a tricycle.  On Monday evening, after p-day was done, the usual time that we go out to work was ticking closer and closer.  Sister Delinila told me that if I needed a rest or if I was too freaked out to go and work, that it would be okay for us to take a break.  I thought about it and concluded that what I was facing was fear.  I was in a situation to choose; choose to doubt, or choose to have faith.  If I didn't face my fears right then, I knew I would have a hard time getting over them.  So we went out.  I was terrified, but we did it.  A quote from President Uchtdorf kept running through my mind: "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."  I did my best to have faith and to trust that Heavenly Father would take care of me, as long as I was doing what He wanted me to do.   I learned a lot about faith this week.  Faith and fear can not exist at the same time.

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!  I hope you have a wonderful week. 

xo Sister Allen

(A letter to the family from Sister Delinila)

hello sister 

this is sister delinila. i am sister allen's current companion. im just writing to let you know sister how brave your daughter is. i appreciate her as my companion. i don't feel good about what happened to her especially i should be the one looking out for her. but then again, there is only so much i could do. your daughter is especially amazing sister. i only have a few minutes left to use the internet but i would like to share what i have written on my report to our mission president. 

"....I appreciate Sister Allen’s example. While at the hospital, I was seated on the corner still shaking from what happened. Sister Allen on the other hand, though bleeding on the hospital bed, started to talk to the nurse staff and introduced ourselves as missionaries. While I failed to open my mouth, Sister Allen never forgot her purpose. Nothing could stop her and I appreciate that from her. I appreciate her example. ..."

i am truly grateful for your daughter. i love her example. thank you for raising her and letting her be a blessing to the lives of the people here especially to me.

Sister Delinila


Monday, January 23, 2017

Hello po!  

Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I am fine and that I am safe.  

I got into an accident last night.  Sister Delinila and I were walking to our dinner appointment and a guy on a tricycle tried to steal my bag.  He grabbed the strap of my back while he drove past us. My bag was slung cross-wise across my body, so when he grabbed the bag, I came with it.  While he drove, I was dragged on the ground at the side of the tricycle.  I was struggling and screaming and trying to just give him the bag, but his grip was so tight I couldn't get free.  Sister Delinila was running behind the tricycle, screaming and trying to get him to stop.  After a few blocks, he let go of the bag and drove off, so he didn't even get the bag.  I got some scrapes and bruises and some gouges on my hands, but other than that I am doing fine.  I should have been hurt so much worse.  I know that Heavenly Father was protecting me.  We went to the hospital with some members and the nurses cleaned up my wounds and gave me some shots (tetanus and stuff just in case).  We also reported the incident to the police, so hopefully they can catch the guy.  At the hospital, the zone leaders came and gave me a beautiful priesthood blessing.  Sister Hiatt wanted to call you and tell you, but I told her that I would just tell you.  I didn't want you to freak out or worry.  I know you would have liked to have known when it happened, but I wanted to be the one to tell you. 

I am doing fine!  I am happy and I am being tough.  I have scrapes and abrasions below the knee down the front of both of my legs, a scrape on my elbow, some gouges on my left hand, and some bruises on my legs and hip.  No head trauma and no scrapes or anything on my face. (yay!)  I'm taking ibuprofen to manage the pain, and the hospital gave me some ointment for the scrapes.  I am doing okay with my cuts and scrapes.  I cleaned them up a little more while we were at the apartment waiting for the internet to come back.  I got a lot of gunk out of the gouges on my hand.  It looks a lot better now.  I am doing good!  I'm praying that the wounds will heal up fast. 

My companion and I are doing well.  I love Sister Delinila!  She is so thoughtful and Christlike.  Last night, I was worrying about how I would wash my laundry with my gouged-out hand, but when I woke up in the morning and went downstairs, all my laundry was already hanging up, clean.  She had washed it all for me.  Sister Delinila is an amazing companion.  I am so grateful that she is with me.  We had no splits, so I had Sister Delinila to myself all week.  Yay!  She's such an amazing companion and friend.  I love her.

This week was a good week.  This week literally felt like a went by so fast! Our area is doing well.  Our goal to work with members more has been a success so far.  We are getting more member present, and as a result, we are getting more referrals.  Members help so much in missionary work.  I am excited to see the long-term effects of working with members.  I think our investigators will become more progressing if the members are involved.

I am excited for this last cycle.  I know it’s going to be a great one.  No matter what happens, I am determined to finish strong.  I am happy and I am loving being a missionary. I love you all so much!  I hope you all always remember how much Heavenly Father know and loves each of you.  I know that Heavenly Father watches over me.  He loves me and He will never leave me.  I know that His angels were with me last night, and I know that I was protected.  

xo Sister Allen

These are the pictures Sister Hiatt took this morning.  It doesn't look bad, but it stings a lot.  But it's okay, I'm alright. 

That's the skirt I was wearing when it happened.  It got a bunch of holes.

President and Sister Hiatt came to the police station with us today to follow up on the report that we made last night.  

I am so grateful that I was kept safe.