Monday, November 16, 2015 was my birthday yesterday!  I am 20 years old.  I FEEL OLD.  I'm not a teen anymore!  My 19th year was great; I did and experienced so much!  I am so excited to start my 20th year, which will be spent entirely in the mission field.  I like to think someday I'll say, when people - my future children or whoever - ask me, "what were you like when you were 20?"  And I'll say, "I was a missionary."  

My birthday was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I was sad before my birthday for a while, thinking of celebrating - or not celebrating at all - my birthday without all of you.  But it turned into a happy day!  That morning, my roommates surprised me by decorating my desk with a cute "happy birthday" sign and decorations that they made out of paper.  It was so cute!  Sis Maroket gave me two cute little notebooks and a little note, and my other roommate gave me some chocolate and a little card too.  It made me happy!  They are so cute and fun.  The morning of my birthday, I ate some pianonu - my favorite bread-type pastry thing here - for my birthday breakfast.  It's basically just sugary, doughy bread.  YUM.  And I opened my presents.  After carrying them around for so long, I was so excited to open them.  I LOVED IT ALL!   After, we had church and the RS sang "happy birthday" to me. :)  After, we had our studies, then proselyting/teaching as usual.  That night, we had a dinner appointment at a member's home.  It was a lot of fun!  We had some yummy spicy food called Bikol Express.  It's good!  Then we hung out with the family for a while.  It was nice to be with such a wonderful family, just eating dinner.  It felt normal.  Then Sis Maroket and I shared a lesson with them, and then went home.  I didn't tell them it was my birthday, but Sis Maroket told them at the end.  They were nice and all blabbered in Tagalog so fast I didn't catch all of it.  But they were excited and said "happy birthday."  Today, Sis Maroket and my roommates Sis Canlapan and Sis Mahinay all went to lunch together at the mall for my birthday.  It was fun!  The restaurant gave me a free birthday cake, and I got to blow out a birthday candle, which made me so happy!  We ordered a giant halo-halo to share for our dessert, but I had no idea just how giant it would be.  It was HUGE.  Luckily, they put what we didn't eat in to-go cups and we got to bring the rest home.  The sisters and my comp are so thoughtful and made sure I had a good birthday. Sometimes I feel so alone here - being the only American in my house, with everyone speaking Tagalog all the time, and with the culture so different from what I'm used to.  But knowing that you were home, thinking of me, makes me really happy.  

Like my necklace (that my mom gave me for my birthday) says.....the stars light is the love of our most-loved ones shining down upon us.  I am happy that your love is always shining on me!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSTANT LOVE.

This week was a good week.  At our district meeting on Tuesday, an American elder in my district came up to me and said, "so how's your blog?"  It was very startling.  Apparently his mom found the blog somehow and told him about it.  So now everyone I talk to asks me, "am I on your blog?"  It's a little embarrassing, but it's okay. I am proud to share what I'm up to with anyone who'll listen, or read.  

This Wednesday, we had our second "newbies" training meeting at the mission home, like the one we had the morning we arrived.  President and Sister Rahlf and the senior couples talked to us about finances, proselyting materials, our schedule, and other business-type stuff.  Pres and Sis Rahlf also taught us a spiritual lesson and told us more about themselves so we could get to know them better.  I really enjoyed their spiritual lesson.  In part of it, we had to go around the room and say one word that described our first six weeks.  Mine was "test."  It's true, this time has been a test!  But getting through the first six weeks has made me strong and I feel ready and willing to keep moving on in the work.  A few other words were:  challenge,  Tagalog, and rice.  We all laughed pretty hard at the last one!  Pres and Sis Rahlf are so wonderful and I loved spending the day in the mission home with them.  

Here's a little bit about them:  They are both originally from Montana, but they raised their family in Cincinnati.  Pres Rahlf served a mission in Germany.  He worked for P&G as an engineer/business/I-don't-really-know-what executive, and has since retired.  They are the parents of five boys, the youngest of which is on a mission in Germany.  He will be released, here to the Philippines to be with his parents, next year.  Pres Rahlf is very kind and has a strong spirit.  I love learning from him, and Sis Rahlf too.  Pres Rahlf is a great mission president and is dedicated to the work and the gospel.  Even though, I didn't get to know my grandpa Roger, I imagine him as a mission president and envision him as something like my mission president.  Just knowing that grandpa Roger was a mission president tells me a lot about him and the type of man he was.  I know he was a great mission president too, just like Pres Rahlf is for me.  Pres Rahlf plays the guitar too, just like grandpa Roger.  I am getting to know grandpa Roger more through my mission president, and it makes me really really happy.  Sis Rahlf is also amazing.  She is becoming a sort of role model of mine, as a woman and as a member of the church.  I hope I can be like her when I am older. Sis Rahlf loves Harry Potter and Jane Austen books - just like me! - and is very musically talented.  She plays a lot of instruments!   She is very very kind.  Before she came here, she and a friend went and did a service/humanitarian trip in a leper colony in India, just because they wanted to.  I can tell she is very smart by the way she talks.  She is intelligent, and is very insightful about the gospel.  They are both so loving and fun, and make us feel right at home.  I love them! 

Our area is doing well.  Our strength this week was giving lessons.  We were able to teach a lot of investigators and new investigators.  We had over 40 lessons total this week.  We have many people ready for us to "harvest," as they say.  We are just putting in the work to reap them and bring them into the gospel.  Our weaknesses this week were member present lessons and getting investigators to sacrament meeting.  We had only one lesson with a member present this week.  People are always busy!  Or so they say... Most of our investigators work at the mall and don't have Sundays off, or live in our further area, Reina Mercedes, and don't have funds to come to church.  Sister Maroket and I pray every day that they will get to come to church.  We have a lot to improve on each week, but we are constantly working to help those around us receive the gospel.

I am so happy to be here as a missionary, sharing the light of Christ.  I hope you all are sharing your light in every way you can.  You are all amazing and I love you so so much. 

xo Sis Allen

Proselyting selfies!

My GIANT birthday halo-halo at my bday lunch.  Hahaha!

My favorite little kids that run around our area.  Who knows
 who, or where, their parents are, they are the cutest!

Birthday lunch with my comp and mga kabahay! (roommates) 

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