Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We asked Anna questions about the cultural side of her mission, we want to have a picture of where she is and what her life is like.  She only had time to answer half our questions, but she finally figured out how to send us photos!  It's fun learning about the Philippine culture and the people Sister Allen loves so much.

What do the Filipinos do who don't use toilet paper?  
They just wash their bums instead.  The toilet paper clogs the toilets too, because there's no just fill the toilet with water and wait for it to drain.  I just use the TP and throw it in the trash. 
How do you wash your hair?
We have a dipper!  I don't have a pic of it, but I will send you one next pday.  It's like a big ladle, and we dip that in the bucket, and then pour that on your head.  It's pretty easy.  I just have to dump a lot of buckets because my hair is still so thick.  It's pretty easy to wash though!  No problem.
How do you wash your clothes
In a bucket of course!  You just have a bucket with soap and water and you scrub the clothes with your hands, then put them in a rinse bucket, and then you refill and re-rinse the clothes two more times, and then you hang them to dry.  We have powder soap packets and fabric conditioner that we use to wash them and make them smell nice.  Then we hang them on hangers and put them on a big rack, and wait (for a few days) for them to dry.
What is your bed like?  Is it comfortable,cold, hot?
It's comfy!  It gets hot, so I put a standing fan on a chair right above my head, since I'm on the top bunk, and the fan cools me off.  I still get hot though, cause it's so humid!  I don't sleep with a blanket.
Do you cook dinner?
Sometimes...we live right next to a restaurant, and a meal is like $1 in US dollars, so we get food there a lot at dinner.  
What do you make?
I make PB and J, ramen.....I don't really make anything.  I burn everything.....
Where is your companion from?
Tell us something about your companion.
She is studying psychology and used to intern at a mental hospital.  Her mom died when my comp was 15 from a brain aneurysm.  Her dad is the stake patriarch, and he and her step mom are temple workers in Manila. She is so nice!  She is also very tiny.
What has surprised you the most about the Philippines?
All the people are always soooo into the fact that I'm American....they act like I'm famous and always say, "You look like a movie star!"  Also, a lot of tiny kids, like 2 and 3 years old just run rampant and free in the streets. 

what the pics are:
1. My comp and my house mates: Sis Maroket, Canlapan, and Culis.

2. A street in our area.  This is what most of the streets look like.  This is in our far away area, called Reina Mercedes.  It takes about 10-15 minutes tricie drive there.

3. Me in the rain!  Walking in the streets!  There's really no way of avoiding it, so you just walk through it. :)

4. Me and my comp this morning at our zone activity in the "bukid" area.  Bukid means country, so we were basically in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rice fields and coconut trees, ahaha.

5. The food at the zone activity!  This is called a Budol Fight, where each team has a big leaf of food, and whoever eats more, wins!  I think we tied today.  It was yummy!  Rice, fish, and some veggies.  We also drank fresh coconut juice.  And we ate with our hands, cause that's what the Filipinos do.... it was fun and yummy. Dad would love it.

6.  Hahaha this is a drawing from my journal.  This is how I use the buckets! 

7.  The beautiful bukid area.  Pretty! 

8.  Our apartment! We also have an upstairs with two little rooms where we do our studies and where we keep all of our stuff.  Our stuff is high and dry! It gets really hot upstairs, so we usually don't spend much time up there, except for studies in the morning. 

Just know that I love you all so much.  I know that we can do all things, if we have faith and believe.  
xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hello Everybody! 

ME AND MY BELONGINGS AND MY COMPANION AND MY MISSION AND MY LIFE AND MY SANITY ARE OKAY!  No worries.  Typhoons are crazy!  It was a stage 4 typhoon (on a scale of 1-5).   All is well.  The Typhoon did hit hard, but we are all okay.  The house I am in is very secure, and we didn't have any flooding, and everything stayed in place.  Our power was out on Saturday and most of Sunday, but we were fine.  On Friday night, Sis Maroket and I went to the store and got things for a 72 hr kit, just in case.  We were prepared for the storm!  We only had to use the candles that we bought from the 72 hr kits.  We were very safe.  We went home early on Saturday evening, because the storm was setting in, and church was canceled on Sunday because of the storm.  We stayed in the house for most of it.  Saturday night, when the storm was hitting, the wind was so loud and strong, and there was so much rain, and it was a little bit scary.  But I felt safe.  I was prepared with my kit, and our house is very safe.  

It was CRAY CRAY. But all the missionaries in our mission are safe, and my little house is very secure!  I trust in Heavenly Father; He keeps His missionaries safe!  We prayed and prayed for safety and that our members would be safe too.  And they were answered!  No one was hurt.  Some houses did flood, and people had to evacuate flood-prone areas, but they were lucky to be able to go to the chapel.  A lot of apartments flooded because of the rain, but ours didn't at all.  And yes Sage, I was happy to have Monkey!  Even though I am almost 20, I held him tight!  Thank you all for praying and believing in me.  

Here's a journal entry from Saturday night when the storm was hitting:  "I am sitting in our little blue apartment on the couch, Monkey is on my lap, and the only light I have is my flashlight and a's a brown-out!  I'm not sure whey they call it "brown out" because it's the same as a black out.  No power.  I am getting a little sweaty without our beloved fans.  It's about 89 degrees F in our apartment right now (according to my cool alarm clock thermometer) and it's humid.  But I am happy here on my couch.  By the way, there is a typhoon outside!  Typhoon Lando.  Haha, it reminds me of Star Wars.  It has been stormy since last night, and the storm is supposed to last until Wednesday.  It's so windy outside.  I don't know how the little huts here will stay up....they probably won't!  There were so many thick, black clouds today, it was pitch black outside by 6:00 pm.  All the streets are flooded with water....gross dirty water.  Sis Maroket and I had to walk through a lot of it today while contacting and going to lessons.  It was only about ankle deep though, so not too bad.  I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for crocs!  I love my crocs.  Ugh...that was almost painful for me to write, but it's true."

The typhoon was crazy.  I didn't sleep much that night because of the wind.  I just layed on my bunk, running through my mind what I would do if we had to get out.  Thank goodness, I didn't need to use it.  If had been in more danger, we would have gone to the chapel earlier and we would have stayed at the mission home for the night.  Pres. and Sis Rahlf texted us updates and instructions about every hour to keep us safe, and we all had to report our well-being to them.  Even though the storm was scary, I felt calm and safe.  I knew Heavenly Father would take care of me! 

Earlier this week, I was having a hard time.  Adjusting to missionary life is hard.  Everything here is different than what I am used to: the language, people, food, culture, climate, weather, and everything else you can think of.  I was very frustrated with myself for not being able to speak the language well, and I was missing home.  I prayed to receive comfort and peace, and to feel cheerful despite my difficulties.  I didn't want my personal hardships to get in the way of the work.  That's when I read in Mosiah 24:13-15 that says, "lift up your heads and rejoice" and that even in trials, we can choose to be cheerful, and we can pray and our burdens will become light.  Sis Maroket and I shared that scripture with a lot of people this week, especially yesterday after the storm.  Storms - literal or not - will come, and we must do what we can to prepare for them.  I am so grateful that I was safe from the storm.  I am so happy that I can pray every day, and Heavenly Father will make my storms turn into shining day. 

Other exciting news:
We found someone who was waiting for us!  She had been waiting for the missionaries for years, and we were the ones to find her.  She will be baptized on Dec. 5.

I ate chicken intestines!  They were pretty good.  They're called "isaw."

I LOVE YOU ALL SO SO SO MUCH!  Thank you for keeping me in your prayers. 
All my love, 
xo Sister A

Monday, October 12, 2015


I miss you all so much.  I am homesick for sure, but I like to call it “familysick" because really I just miss you all!  But I am doing alright!  The Philippines is crazy! 

The flight here was insanely long.  It was not the most fun I've had, but the flight attendants took good care of us on the plane.  Most of the time I slept, or listened to the music on the TV thing.  Just classical music.  Although, I did find an Ed Sheeran song and I about died because I was so happy.  So I listened to that too. :)  Our flight from San Fran to Hong Kong kept getting delayed, so by the time we got to Hong Kong we had to run to our next flight!  It was stressful, but everyone made it just fine.

Hong Kong airport is huge!  It looks like a mall inside of a stadium. Very big.  On our flight from Hong Kong to Manila, I sat in between two random Filipinos, a man and a woman.  They were both so nice!  The woman got my email, because she said I was cute, and she wanted to talk to me haha.  I taught them a little bit about the church, but mostly they taught me about the Philippines.  When we landed in Manila, it was the middle of the night - about 1:00 am there.  But, there were still a bunch of people out and about in the airport.  The Manila mish. pres. met us outside the gate.  He is so nice!  His name is President Trask.  We got all our bags packed into the vans and they gave us some food - apples and bread.  The apple was soooooo good and Filipino bread is really really yummy and is usually fav!

When we stepped outside the humidity hit like a wave. It was hot!  It felt like breathing water.  The air was brown and obviously very polluted, and it sort of smelled like fireworks; very smoky and dirty. We got on a big bus and pulled into the Manila MTC.  It is tiny!  Only 4 buildings, 2 of which were under construction.  There were less than 200 missionaries there, including us.  When we got there, we went straight to orientation - even though it was so late!  They gave us keys, and a few rules and we were off to bed.  The rooms were similar to the Provo MTC with bunk beds, but this time we got our own bathroom.  It was just a normal bathroom like they have in the US.  I was so tired, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  We were allowed to sleep in an extra hour, but my roomies and I - Sis. Stokes, Wittwer, and Kibaimoa - didn't do the time change on our clocks right so we woke up an hour earlier than we needed to!  Haha, no extra sleep for us.  Then we went to breakfast where we had our first Filipino meal, complete with rice, of course.  It was good!  We had rice, bread, and a sort of breakfasty stew type thing with sausage and veggies.  Yum!

Most of the Manila MTC was the same as Provo: studies, classes, devotionals, etc.  But we did do a few new and exciting things:

1.  We got to go proselyting out in Manila!  On Saturday afternoon, all the Provo batch drove out to the Manila mission and split with the missionaries in the Manila mission.  It was such a great experience. My companion was Sister Tonga, from Tonga....just kidding!  She was from New Zealand.  She is soooo nice and so spunky, and a great missionary.  She really pushed me to talk to people and share what I have to say, even if I didn't know how to say it perfectly in Tagalog. We rode tricycles, that we call "tricies" to areas to teach.  I was the SINGLE white person in sight for the whole day.  In the Philippines, it is not rude to stare.... so they stared and stared and STARED at me.  When I met people after saying "hello," the first thing they would say was, "what color are your eyes?" or "why are you so white?” It was very strange to be looked at so much, and how different
everyone thought I looked.  Sis Tonga introduced me to everybody, and would say in Tagalog, "This is Sis Allen, and she just got here.  She is very good at Tagalog, ask her any question!" and they would.  It was like a "Talk to the White Girl” game for everybody.  Haha, it was pretty entertaining.  When I would understand them and speak in Tagalog, they would get so excited!  It was very fun.  We were able to tract and teach a lot of people in Manila.  Let me tell you about Manila:  It is like a regular city that got squished together on every side, so everybody is basically living on top of each other.  (It reminds me of Mexico, but with Asian things and people.)  The houses are all stuck together, and the roads are tiny with crazy drivers (can you say car sick?!).  There are stray dogs everywhere and people selling strange foods in the streets.  It doesn't smell very good, but most of the smells I had never smelled before.  It is all so foreign to me!  The city has rich and poor living a stone's throw away from each other.  The poverty is heartbreaking.  There are people living on the side of the road under cardboard, and across the street:  a 20-story luxury apartment complex.  Everything about the Philippines is wild. Teaching in Manila was a very touching experience.  Sis Tonga shared these wise words with me:  "If you miss the joy, you miss it all."  That really stuck with me.  If we miss the joy - in our missions, in life, in anything! - we miss it all.  It is all about the JOY.  Even though these people live such a different life from what I have seen, they are always, without a doubt, happy.  They are smiling and warm, and are always kind and welcoming.  The Filipino people have happiness like none other, despite everything around them.  They embrace the joy, and I want to do the same.

2.  We got to go to the Manila temple!  It is a very tiny temple, but very beautiful.  Inside the temple, men don't wear ties or tuck their shirts in.  They all looked like they were wearing white pajama sets, and it was very funny.  We walked around the grounds afterwards, and appreciated the tranquility of the white temple amid the busy city. It was a great experience.  By the way, the endowment session was in English.

The Manila MTC was a great experience and I loved my time there.  Most of the missionaries there are from the PH, Australia, New Zealand, and the islands near it, like Samoa.  So I was again, one of the few white girls there.  Missionaries would always ask to take a picture with me, even if I didn't know them at all.  We left the Manila MTC on Wednesday morning, and I said my goodbyes to some of my district from Provo, including Sis Wittwer.  It was hard to see them go!  We headed to the airport, and took off to Cauayan!  The flight was only about 35 minutes, which was nice.  As we descended, the view was stunning. Cauayan is surrounded by mountains and has many rivers and fields.  It was beautiful.  And then, we finally arrived, after days of travel, and seven weeks in MTCs....I was in Cauayan!  The airport is just a single cement strip in a field, with a gas-station sized building next to it.  It is so cute and tiny!  President and Sister Rahlf met us at the gate, which is just the little building, and welcomed us with open arms.  They are so kind and loving, and they made me feel right at home.  We headed to the mission home, and had a bit of orientation about vitamins, budgeting, and had an interview with President Rahlf. Then, finally, we met our new companions!  My companion's name is Sister Maroket, from Manila, Philippines.  (she speaks English very well!)  She is so kind and so sweet.  Everything she does is loving.  She has been out for 6 months.  Here in the Cauayan mission, we call our trainers "tatay" or "nanay" which means "father" and "mother."  I love my Nanay Sis Maroket!  We were assigned in the Cauayan 1-A area, which is right next to the mission home.  It is not yet big enough for wards, so we work in a branch.  Our area is in the city, but this city in much smaller and more open than Manila.  Our area is called San Fermin.  Sis Maroket and I live in a little town-house with the Sister Training Leaders, Sis Culis and Sis Canlapan.  They are so nice and are hilarious.  They are both Filipino too.  Our apartment is the nicest apartment in the area, for which I am grateful.  It is very cute!  Most of the people that live in our area are students that are going to college, or agricultural workers. It is very hot and humid here, and it has been rainy for the past couple days.  But, the rain is good, because it makes it a little less hot. Cauayan is one of the hottest places in the PH!  I am constantly sweaty and sticky, but I am adjusting.  We shower twice a day, once at night, and once in the morning, to stay fresh and clean.  And yes, we have....bucket showers!  They are not as bad as they sound.  You have a "dipper" that you scoop the water with, and you just dump in on yourself when you want to rinse.  The water is always cold, but since it is so hot out, I like it that way.  Our toilet too is different than usual: it doesn't have a flush, and can't handle toilet paper. We use the dipper and fill the toilet after we go to the bathroom, and the toilet just drains, and you put your toilet paper in the trash. When I got to our apartment, there was no toilet paper!  So it is true:  Filipinos don't really use toilet paper.  But don't worry, I bought some!

Sis Maroket and I have taught a lot of people.  Here, there are many less actives, so we visit and teach them as well.  Most people we talk to have never heard of Mormons, and are usually willing to hear us. It is easy to find people to talk to here.  We talk to people on the street, in front of street vendors, to tricie drivers, and we tract people's houses.  It is tiring, and we walk a lot, but I really like tracting.  Most of the roads are rubble and dirt, with a few haphazardly paved roads.  It is very muddy right now because of the rain!

We also had the wonderful opportunity to watch General Conference this Saturday and Sunday. It was just a re-run broadcast, in English, at the ward.  It was so wonderful to hear the prophet and apostle’s words.  Two of our investigators came to watch Conference with us on Sunday too!  It was great.  They are sisters named Anna and Rachel. Hahaha what a coincidence.  They are so sweet.  Anna has a 1 year old boy that she brought with her too.  He is very shy and sweet.

The food here is very strange.  LOTS of rice.  I haven't really tried anything interesting yet.  We went to the store, and have been eating at home, so I have been surviving on PB&Js.  The peanut butter here is to DIE for.  So good.  I tried fried fat the other kind of tasted like nothing.  I will report more about the food later when I eat some more crazy stuff!

I am LOVING the Philippines, despite the difficult adjustments.  I am so happy to be here in Cauayan to spread the wonderful word of the gospel.  I can't wait to have more adventures here.

Talk to you next Monday!


xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sister Allen and President and Sister Rahlf

Sister Allen & Sister Maroket

October 7, 2015

Dear Family of Sister Allen,

We are happy to let you know that your daughter arrived safely today as a missionary in the Philippines Cauayan Mission.  After her arrival we had a welcome luncheon and orientation meeting.  I also had the opportunity to have a wonderful interview with her before she met her prayerfully selected companion and trainer.
Sister Allen will be serving in Cauayan.   Enclosed is a map on which we have marked the location of her first proselyting area.  She will be working with Sister Maroket who will carefully train and introduce Sister Allen to missionary work in the field.  We encourage you to write your daughter every week.  Please share positive, uplifting messages that will support and help her stay focused on this sacred work.  Such contact from home can build a great foundation for a successful mission.

This is a wonderful mission and we are grateful to have Sister Allen here.  The new missionaries always bring with them an exciting and special spirit.  Please know that we will watch over her with great concern.  We have been praying for her for several months now and have looked forward to serving together.  We know that with your support and encouragement, she will progress and strengthen beyond your expectations and develop a great love for her fellow missionaries and the precious people she will serve, teach, and bless.

May the Lord bless you for all you have done to help Sister Allen prepare for this mission.
With warmest regards,

President George R. Rahlf

President George R. Rahlf

Sister Lori C. Rahlf
Sister Lori C. Rahlf

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

September 30, 2015

19 hours left!

I got everything all packed and ready!  I've been packed since Monday. I was so excited that I couldn't sleep last night.  We have some packing, cleaning, and laundry time today.  It probably will be the last time I wash my clothes with a washing machine! 

After we get to Manila MTC, we stay there until next Wednesday.  While we're there, we'll have culture classes, go to the Manila temple, and go on splits with missionaries in Manila.  This is what I'll be eating: for breakfast, rice with cut-up hot dogs or eggs; for lunch, rice with chicken; and for dinner, rice with meat.  LOTS of rice.  I'm starting to think this "rice-belly" thing is going to happen....I don't want it to!  This is going to be a crazy few days....but I am so excited!  Also, we don't fly back to Hong Kong again.  They just put that on our tickets so that the Philippines airport lets us in as "tourist travelers" because they will think we are leaving the country again.  Sneaky!  So we don't go back to Hong Kong on November 1st.  That just gets us into the country.

Last night we had a wonderful devotional by Brother Claudio Costa of the Seventy.  He is from Brazil.  It made me think of you and Grandpa Roger!  He shared a great message on how missionaries are heroes.  It was very touching.  He is a convert to the church, and he was taught and converted by sister missionaries when he was about 20 years old.  "Everything I have," he said "I owe to the missionaries."  He had a really beautiful analogy of missionary work too that I loved:  you can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can't count the amount of apples in one seed.  The seeds in the apple are like the seeds of conversion that we plant as missionaries, and we can count the number of people we convert, but it is impossible for us to know the long-term effects our converts and how many other people they will bring to the church themselves.  We won't know the amazing effect we have until we die, and get to see all of those that we brought to the church.  One seed can bring so many people happiness!  It was a beautiful talk.  I wanted to go up and talk to him after, but there were guards, and he left before I got a chance.

Mahal ko kayo! 

October 2, 2015I have made it to Manila!  We are required to email you that we are safely here today, but we only have a few minutes, and I don't know when I will get to email again this week .... probably not until next Monday when I am to the field!  We got to the MTC at about 1:00am, Manila time.  It was a good trip, and there were no issues.  Phew! I slept a lot on the plane, and I was still able to sleep last night here in Manila because I was so tired.  It is 11:00 am here right now.MAHAL KO KAYO!  I will be traveling to Cauayan on Wednesday. 
xo Sister Allen

Sister Stokes, Sister Allen, Elder Flandro and Elder Redd