Monday, September 28, 2015

Spread the love!

This is my last letter from the MTC.  I leave the MTC at 3:30 am (!) October 1st and head to the Salt Lake Airport.  My flight to San Francisco leaves at 7:15 am, then I have a layover for about 5 hours there, then I fly to Hong Kong (14.5 hours), have another 2-ish hour layover there, then to Manila (2 hours)! I am so excited! It will be a LONG day, but it will be a lot of fun.

I am jealous that you guys get to go to women's conference.  I don't get to watch it yet....I don't know when we'll be able to!  They probably record it, and then have Elders and Sisters watch Priesthood and Women's Conf. at the same time.  Hopefully!  When we get to Manila, they record conference for us, and we watch all of it, yes ALL OF IT in one day....Ah!  It will be so long, but it will be good! 

The temple is closed this afternoon because of women's conference, so my district and I weren't going to be able to go to the temple again in America, because we are only supposed to go in the afternoon.  We were so bummed!  We really, really wanted to go, so we talked to some people and got permission to go early this morning.  VERY early. We started walking to the temple at 6:45 am!  It was a really nice session.  Afterwards, we went and ate breakfast at the temple cafeteria.  I got a waffle with strawberries and blueberries on top and some orange juice.  It was a nice break from MTC food!  One of our teachers, Sister Cope was there at the temple with her ward, so we got to see her there.  It was so fun!  Even at the temple, she speaks ONLY Tagalog to us. Haha.

We also had a really fun time in the laundry room today, rolling around in the laundry carts.  It was so much fun!  I love the sisters that I am with.  It will be hard to leave them.

This week was an exciting week.  Our last full week at the MTC!  We still have normal classes every day, until the second we leave the MTC.  We are learning the whole time we're here!  

This week we had a fun experience with the Technology Resource Center/TRC.  In TRC lessons, we Skype members of the church in the Philippines and teach them a lesson in Tagalog.  It is challenging, but it has taught me a lot, and I really enjoy it.  Sister Stokes and I taught a cute woman named Josephine from San Pablo, Philippines.  We Skyped her at around 7:00pm Utah time, and it was about 9:00am in the Philippines.  Josephine was talking to Sis. Stokes about how she'll fit right in because she is half Filipino, and looks Filipino, and then she turned to me and said, "You don't look Filipino," and then we all started cracking up.  It's true!  I sure don't look Filipino.  She was really fun to talk to, and she was such a sweet lady.  Every time I would struggle to say something in Tagalog, after giggling at me, she would teach my how to say it right.  I learned a lot from her.  It was so much fun!  We taught her about service, and how important it is to love all people, at all times.  It was a lot of fun, and it made me excited to get to teach more Filipinos like her.

Another fun experience I had was Hosting.  Hosting is a job for the missionaries at the MTC to pick up the incoming missionaries from the curb, and whisk them away from their families.  I brought six new sisters in.  I feel like I only came in a little while ago, so it was weird to be in charge of missionaries coming in.  I took them to get their supplies, their name tags, find their residence, and drop them off at their classrooms, seconds after pulling them away from their families.  Watching families say goodbye was touching, and a little emotional.  I tried to be as nice as I could be, and I offered to take pictures for everyone.  It made me miss my family!  I wasn't so sure about the MTC when I came in at first, but now I love it.  It's like a little church-college but with more school and less parties.  It really is an amazing place.  I tried to make the sisters I Hosted for as comfortable as possible, because I wanted them to love the MTC and everything in it. 

Earlier this week, Sister Kibaimoa, the sister from Kiribati, was walking ahead of me a few yards.  I ran up quietly behind her and whispered, "hey" in a deep, raspy, man voice and I swear she jumped ten feet high.  I meant to be playful, but I scared her so bad that she burst into tears.  I felt so bad!  She forgave me, and we laugh about it now.  She's just so easy to scare, I couldn't help myself.  But I promised never to scare her again.  Haha.

I really love the experience I have had so far here at the MTC.  I have learned so much about the gospel, about myself, and about the Philippines.  I can't believe that in just a few days I will be there!  For the missionaries who are leaving, the MTC has an all-day sort of seminar called In-Field Orientation, that I went to on Thursday.  It was from 8 am to 5 pm.  We learned all about how to schedule time in the field, work with members, work with the ward, and work with the bishop.  They even did a little play for us about a new missionary's first week and what to expect.  It made me really nervous!  Then the speaker/host guy, I can't remember his name, said he had served his mission in the Baguio Philippines mission.  And he shared this story:  When he got to the Philippines, he was so nervous, and that he couldn't understand a word anyone said to him, despite learning Tagalog in the MTC.  His first day, he was walking with his companion, through bamboo forests, rice fields, over nasty, stinking water rivers, and mud for miles and miles.  He said he felt miserable, and that he thought to himself, "maybe I can't do this." He didn't know where to go, how to talk to people, or his way around at all.  As he was walking home, his head hung down and feeling discouraged, a little kid ran up to him, jumping with his hand in the air, saying, "Up here! Up here!" wanting a high-five.  Then a few more, and more, and more little kids came running around him, all smiling and jumping, begging him for a "Up high!" high-five.  They encircled him, and as he looked at their smiling, dirty, loving faces, he thought to himself, "I can do this."  And from then on, he loved his mission.  "I know," he said, "that all little kids will look up to you, and love you, and that because of that, you will love them too."  His story really touched me, and it made me so excited to go to the Philippines and meet all of the people there.  

I am so excited to go to the Philippines and share this love from God that I have with all of the people there.  I can't wait to get started!  

Mahal ko kayo!


xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Monday, September 21, 2015

One Month already!

This week was such an amazing week.  One of the best weeks I've had here!Sister Stokes and I got released from our two week calling as music directors this Sunday, and got a new calling:  we are the Sister Training Leaders for all the sisters in the Tagalog branch.  There are 17 sisters in our branch total.  Three left this past week, and six more came this week.  It's been so fun to get to know them!  One of the sisters that came this week is another from Kiribati, and they don't have a temple there, so we got to go to her endowment session today.  It was really fun!  Everyone I've met from Kiribati is so loving and nice, and they always grab you and hug you and tell you that you're beautiful.  It's really fun to have her here!  We also get a cell phone as training leaders. AH!  But it can only call the branch president and the MTC office, in case of emergencies.  It's really weird having one!  It's just a crappy old flip phone, but we still feel high tech, because it's the only technology here!  We'll be training leaders until we leave for the Philippines.  

Playing the piano in church on Sunday was also good.  I played all the hymns, and a district that left this past week asked me to accompany them for a special musical number.....but they asked me the night before.  (AH!)  I was really nervous!  Then they told me it was the song "We are as the armies of Helaman..." or whatever it's called, and I already knew it really well because it's the song I played at my farewell!  I didn't play my whole arrangement for them to sing to, just a part of it.  It went pretty well!  

Something embarrassing but also funny....on Sunday night, I was on my bunk bed and jumped up really fast to stand up and whacked the back of my head SO HARD on the top bunk.  All the other sisters squealed and I fell over.  It hurt a lot! (But I didn't even cry so....yeah, I'm tough hahaha just kidding.)  My eyes weren't dilating right, and I had a HUGE goose-egg on my head, so we had to call someone to come and check me out.  Anyways....turns out I got a mild concussion.  It was SO EMBARRASSING.  A security guard had to come and check on me, and I had to talk on the phone to a doctor.  But I am okay now!  My head still has a little goose-egg, but I am fine!  I kept wishing that Dad was there to check my head and tell me what to do!  I'm very cautious going in and out of my bunk bed now so that I don't whack my head again.  Haha.

My hair is a lot better, and I think it's already grown a lot since I've been here.  Or I've just gotten used to it.  Either way, I like it now!  And I will be fine in the Philippines with it. 
Yesterday afternoon, we GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!  We head out at 3:30am, October 1st.  We fly to San Francisco, then to Hong Kong, then to Manila!  I am so so excited!  We all have to fly back to Hong Kong on November 1st to pick up our Visas too, so that will be fun to see my district again after the first month there.  I am the travel leader for everyone in the MTC that is going to the Cauayan mission, so I'm basically in charge of getting about 15 missionaries where they're supposed to go.  Hopefully I'll be good at that!  We also found out that the Asian airline we are flying on only lets each bag weight 50 lbs. (which we knew), but the carry-on can only weigh 15lbs. UGH.  But it's okay.  With all my language books that I got here, I'll be sending some stuff home to you so that my luggage will clear.  It's $300 if you go over! LESS THEN TWO WEEKS UNTIL I'M THERE!  YAY!
I am good!  I am happy and ready to get out there. :)
Ingat, Sister Allen

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kumusta! (hello)

It’s been 24 days since I came to the MTC, I’m halfway done!  It’s scary how fast time is flying by.  

Sunday night at our devotional we watched a video of a past talk at the MTC from Elder Holland called “Open Your Mouth.”  It changed me!  I realized that I was holding on to who I was before the mission too tightly.  I wasn’t willing to leave myself behind and go to work.  I know that who I am now is who I need to focus on.  I can’t go backwards!  I love the “old me” and I am still her, just with more added to her.  I will still always be the same me, but now I need to focus on the missionary-Anna instead of normal-Anna.  I need to move forward!  In Holland’s talk, he talked a lot about moving forward with a willing heart, and it really touched me.  I asked my district leader, Elder Frei (who is awesome and an amazing leader!) for a blessing of comfort on Sunday night.  It was perfect.  The spirit was so strong, and even though he had no idea of my internal struggle, the blessing he gave was like he knew.  I felt so peaceful afterwards, and I no longer felt like I was pulling myself in two different directions.  I didn’t realize how badly I had been struggling until the blessing was over.  I felt so much better!  I had no doubts about being here, and I knew I could move forward, stronger then ever! Since that day, the MTC has been really great, with less ups and downs; it’s been more even, less emotional and more peaceful.

Sister Stokes and I got a calling on Sunday!  We are the ward music directors.  So we just pick the songs and the pianist and the conductor each Sunday.  So guess who’s playing tomorrow…yep, ME!  I am nervous, but it will be fine.  During extra study time, I go practice the piano.  It’s really nice!  I miss playing.  Also, I am in the MTC choir.  Our branch president suggests/insists that our whole branch be in the choir.  I like it a lot!  I am usually an alto.  We practice Sundays and Tuesdays, and perform at the weekly devotionals.  It’s really fun!

My most favorite part of the MTC:  my district!  I love them to death.  They are fun and we have the BEST times together.  They keep me sane.  We have really fun, goofy times, and we have really thoughtful, spiritual times.  It’s a great balance.  My least favorite part:  probably the food combined with how much we sit.  We just eat, then go to class, then eat some more, then sit in class some more, then eat again, then class again.  You start to feel like a slug after a while!  

Thank goodness for gym time.  I usually (try to) play volleyball for a bit. I’m probably a 3 out of 10 at volleyball.  I’m really good at serving, but I can’t do anything else.  Haha, I try…kind of.  Then I work out on the track and the workout machines.  It’s nice.

I am getting better at the language.  I can understand almost everything my teacher says, but it’s a bit harder for me to actually speak.  There’s so many grammar rules!  There’s a million verb conjugations, with different rules, and on top of that, adjective conjugations and more.  We just memorize root verbs and adjectives, pronouns, and more and more and more conjugations.  So many!  But, I love learning it.  It’s really fun!  I have a few scriptures memorized and I’m working on memorizing the first vision, all in Tagalog!

What I miss most, my family!  I miss is being able to communicate with everyone.  I’ve thought to myself a few times, “oh I should text Mom that…” or “I forgot to put my phone on silent!” but then I remember I am cut off from the world.  Haha.  It’s so strange!  I have no idea what is going on anywhere else.  

Mahal kita! (I love you) I know this gospel is true, and I am proud to be a Philippino missionary!


xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Monday, September 7, 2015

Kumusta kayo!

Kumusta! My time at the MTC has been great, and very very busy!  The days fly by here since they keep us so busy! There are 2000 missionaries in the MTC right now, we are the 2000 Stripling Warriors.  I am learning so much Tagalog and so much about the gospel, it’s insane!  We have 6-9 hours of classroom time almost every day.  Every class, our teachers only speak Tagalog, all the time.  Even when we aren’t doing language study, they will speak Tagalog.  I am the Hermione of my class, no joke.  I am picking it up great!  It’s a lot of work, but I like it.  We already finished teaching our first “investigator” and we are getting FOUR next week.  And we’re teaching them all in Tagalog too.  Ah, So much Tagalog! 

I have been sleeping much better and have started adjusting to missionary life.  My hair is getting better, but I still miss my long hair.  The MTC food is not good, but it’s bearable.  Lots of oatmeal and sandwich wraps for me!  And caffeine free Diet Coke (I miss my go-go juice. Ha Ha!)  I had a dream that I was walking around the MTC and I found a cooler full of Diet Coke!  I also have been working out and attempting to play volleyball with the rest of my branch, so I feel a lot more energetic.  I’m always leaping down the hallways and Sister S laughs at me.  I just miss ballet.  The MTC has been fun and I love getting to know the other missionaries.  I’m glad I was away at school for a while and was on my own a little bit.  It was good practice for the mish.  

Dallin H. Oaks came to the Tuesday night devotional to speak to us missionaries!  Awesome! A group of missionaries from our branch left for the Philippines this week.  It make me so excited to go!  Saturday and Sunday last week were really great.  We went to the temple as a branch (so basically everyone who’s going to the Philippines and speaking Tagalog) and got to be with Sister Kebaimoa as she went to the temple for the first time.  It was really special, and fun to be with so many missionaries there.  On Sunday we had church and a few meetings and then got to go on a temple walk.  It was so nice.  I love the warm weather, but I’m going to miss fall when I leave on October 1st.

My companion is great.  We are complete opposites.  My other roommates are awesome too.  Sister Kebaimoa is from Kiribati, which is a tiny island by Fiji.  She is so sweet.  She had never seen mountains before! My other roommate Sister Wittwer is the most like me.  We’ve bonded over lots of stuff.  She also loved tank tops and stuff before the mish, and we laugh at all the same things.  She’s awesome.  

I am so so excited to leave and go to the Philippines.  I have learned so much about the Filipino people, and I love them even though I haven’t met them yet.  I am excited to be a missionary.  

Ingat! (take care!) I LOVE YOU!

xoxo Sister Anna Ray Allen