Monday, December 28, 2015


This week was a nice week.   I know some people were surprised that I chose to serve a mission, but trust me, no one was more surprised than me!  Some days I can't believe I am here!  I had a few days like that this week.  Being here during Christmas was wonderful, even though it was nothing like at home.  It was wonderful in other ways.  It was strange being away from home during Christmas, but I was - and still am! - happy to be here.  

Here are some Christmas highlights:

Our branch Christmas party was a hit!  It went from 2 pm on Saturday and ended at 9 pm.  It was LONG.  But not a second went by without laughter or fun.  It was a blast!  Here in the PH, at chruch parties, there is always a "program."  I think members in our ward would die if we had a program like theirs.  Each group, the Primary, the RS, the Elders Quorum, the Youth, even the missionaries (yes, me!), had a presentation for the rest of the branch.  We missionaries, me, Sis Maroket, and the two Elders in our ward sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" in Tagalog.  The Elders Quorum sang also.  The RS was my favorite.  They danced!  They all danced big and sassy to "All I Want For Christmas Is You."  Even the old old ladies!  They love dancing and singing here. 

My housemates and I gave each other gifts.  I gave each of my housemates and my comp a little gift with some cute little cheap, but adorable trinkets inside.  I got a note pad and some cute Christmasy desk stuff from them.  It was fun to wrap and give them presents!  It made it feel a little more like Christmas.  

Christmas is celebrated very differently here!  Santa doesn't come to houses, and people don't really give out a lot of gifts, just to close close friends and family.  Holiday traditions here include:  eating a ton of food, karaoke (SO MUCH karaoke), caroling, and more.  There's really so much karaoke.  Our neighbor this week started doing karaoke, very very loud karaoke, at about 7:30 am and didn't stop until after 2:00 pm.  People here love it!  

I am excited this week for New Years Eve and New Years Day!  Apparently, New Years is super crazy here with fireworks and drunk people everywhere, so us missionaries and required to go on "lockdown."  At 6 pm on New Years Eve, we have to return to our apartment.  During that time, Pres. Rahlf gave us special permission to watch "Inside Out."  I'm excited to see it!  I've never seen it before.  Also, during our lockdown time, I am planning to make some New Years goals.  This past year, 2015, flew by so fast!  I can't believe it's already 2016.  I will be making some goals to help myself be a little better, a little happier, and to do my best as a missionary this year.  I hope you all do the same!  I hope too, that in your goals, you add to pray and read the scriptures every day.  They really are our source of strength and protection. companion Sis Maroket is getting transferred!  I'll have a new companion next time we talk. 

I love you all so much and am so happy to email you today!  I hope you have a happy New Years.  I'll talk to you next year.....hahahaha.  


xo Sister Allen 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Sorry....this letter is going to be short because I was busy busy busy during this email time setting up skype, doing photos,....etc etc.

I hope you are all having a good Christmas break!  I never thought I'd miss the freezing weather in Utah at this time, but I do!  I am glad it snowed!  You will have a white Christmas.  Stay safe driving and skiing!  I'm SO out of my mind excited to Skype you!  It will be so much fun.  I can't wait to see all of your beautiful faces.  

Just a little Christmas message (and a quote that Pres. Rahlf shared with us)....

I am so blessed to be sharing the gospel here, and especially blessed to be sharing the gospel at this wonderful, magical time of the year.  Even though there's no snow, not many decor, and probably won't be many presents, Christmas is magical here.  People are a little kinder, a little sweeter, and a lot more accepting of the gospel.  Each time we say, "mahal na mahal ng Diyos kayo!" (God loves you!), the people smile or let out a little laugh.  It's as if they're surprised!  But we should never be surprised that we have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love us.  When we think about Christmas, and think about the birth of the Savior, we must also think, "why?"  Why was a Savior born?  A Savior was born....for US.  For every single one of us.  He was born, He lived, and He died and rose again because He loves us.  I love the story of Christmas.  I wish you all the best Christmas!  Always remember the Savior and how much He loves you.  HE is Christmas.  HE is the best gift that you or I could ever have or give. 

One Solitary Life by Author Unknown

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenters shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a house. He never went to college.  He never visited a big city.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the pace he was born.  He did none of the things he usually associated with greatness.  He had no credentials but himself.  He was only thirty three when the tide of public opinion turned against him.  His friends ran away.  He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.  When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.  All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life”

I LOVE YOU!  I can't wait to Skype you!

xoxo Sister Anna Ray Allen

District activity!  It was raining so we had to do it at the church.

Flood water in the left hand corner is the road. Ah!
The rest is the rice fields in our area. 
(there was 2 typhoons last week that hit the Philippines...)

Stockings (and lights) hung with care on the bunkbed. :)

My festive desk.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


This week was a great week.  I love being a missionary!  I am so happy to be here serving in this crazy, but wonderful place.  This week we had a Christmas Devotional with President and Sister Rahlf.  I really enjoyed it!  I felt the Spirit so strong!  Both of them are great teachers.  By the way, "devotional" doesn't really describe's more like a workshop.  We spend the better part of the day with the mission president and wife.  We were there from 8:45am to about 4:00pm. (Free lunch! Yay!)  And every second was full of learning and full of the Spirit.  Even though we are sitting for most of the time, devotionals are exhausting!  Learning so much about the gospel and feeling the Spirit takes a lot out of you.  I am always "spiritually exhausted" afterwards.  This devotional was especially wonderful because it was about one of my favorite things ever: Christmas!  Their focus was on the Nativity story and on the music of Christmas.  We didn't talk about ways to improve missionary work, key indicators, or teaching skills like we usually do at their devotionals.  We just focused on the birth of the Savior.  After all, the best way to become more like the Savior is to learn of Him.  And that's what we did!  The Nativity is my favorite scripture story.  It holds so much.  I have such a strong testimony of our Savior's birth.  I was happy to learn more from President and Sister Rahlf.  I wish I had time to tell you all the wonderful things I learn.  Someday, I'll teach it to you!  Here are a few highlights:

Sis Rahlf taught us about the song "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "The Messiah."  It's a well known song, and I'd never thought about the beauty of it until the devotional this week.  Handel wrote the entire oratorio of "The Messiah" (which is super long and very musically complex) in about 25 days. That is amazing!  He said that he wrote it by inspiration from heaven.  Listening to it, I know that to be true.  We watched a video that you all should check out.  It's of a group of singers that go into a mall in Pennsylvania and "flash mob" style sing the "Hallelujah Chorus." It was wonderful!  I cried.  You should all check it out!  When you listen, really listen to the words and the beauty of the music.  I promise you'll like it.  You could probably search on YouTube, "hallelujah chorus in Pennsylvania mall" or something like that.  

President Rahlf also taught us a lot about Mary.  I really enjoyed that as well.  What must she have felt?  What must she have thought?  If I was her, I would have been very scared and very humbled.  She really did a marvelous thing.  Although we don't worship Mary like other religions, she deserves our respect and reverence.  Mary must have felt fearful and very alone.  But she was strong and Heavenly Father put people in her path to make her stronger, like her cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Joseph.  Learning about this reminded me of the play/musical "Savior of the World."  The words to the song, which are also words from the Bible, came to my mind:  "With God, nothing is impossible."  I know that to be true, then and now.  For each of us!  Nothing is impossible.

Our area is also improving.  We finally had some investigators at church!  We were so happy to have them there.  They were very well received.  We have also been continuing in strengthening our branch and its members.  I can see the members and its leaders working to strengthen it.  I can feel the Spirit working in us!  I hope we can continue to strengthen and improve each week as an area and as a branch.  

One investigator who came to church is our investigator Nympha.  She is 16 years old and is preparing for baptism in January.  She is really good friends with another young woman Roella, who was a less active in our branch, but has since returned.  Roella, who only recently started coming back to church, brought her friend with her!  Roella and Nympha are both so sweet and both have strong testimonies.  Nympha enjoyed church and even mentioned to Roella that she might want to serve a mission when she's older.  It made me so happy!  I am so blessed to be sharing this wonderful gift of the gospel.  These girls, Roella and Nympha, both understand that gift and have a desire to share it.  It is amazing to see.  It brought tears to my eyes to think that I had a little part in shaping their desire to serve and to bring people unto Christ.  That's all I want, and the only reason I am here.  To bring them to Him.  I am just the messenger, the delivery girl (like my job at UPS last year!  Haha!).  I deliver the message, deliver the gift, but I am not the gift.  HE is the gift.  Jesus Christ is the best gift on earth.  At Christmas time, at good times, and especially at bad times.  He is the gift for all of us.  If I can give that gift to others and inspire them to continue to share it, to keep the missionary work going, I'd be the happiest "delivery girl" in the world.  As members of the church we have a responsibility to share this amazing, perfect gift with the world.  If we don't share it, who will?  We must share this happiness we have with others.  We must give!  I am blessed to be a full time "giver" of the gospel to these amazing people in this beautiful, crazy place. 

I love you all so so much!  I think and pray for you every day. It's a perfect time of the year to talk about Christ!  Maligayang Pasko!  Mahal kita!  Kayo'y maganda! 

xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Monday, December 7, 2015

I love you all so so so much and emailing is one of my favorite things each week.  I am doing well!  I feel like I am getting better in the language and I am improving on being a missionary each day.  It's hard work, but I am starting to realize that choosing to serve a mission is one of the best decisions I will ever make.  I want to give my all!  I want to have no regrets! 

Here's an update on Nanay Relly for you (the one we gave the glasses to):  We visited her this past week, and were so excited to ask her if she read the BoM at all.  We were really anxious!  When we asked her if she had a chance to read, she smiled and said "Wen!"  Which in Ilocano is "opo." (yes) When we asked her what she read, she showed us in her BoM.  It was the page next to the Introduction, which is just a list of all the titles of the books in the scriptures.  She was so proud that she had read it, and happily said "Nagbasa ako lahat!"  ("I read it all!")  We laughed and told her that was a great start, but we made sure to leave her an actual reading assignment in 1 Nephi, with a sticky note on it so she would remember.  Even though she didn't really read scripture, we were happy she started.  Haha!  

I was thinking about dad in my personal study as I read a memorial magazine blurb thing for Pres. Packer's funeral.  It talked about how great of a dad he was and how, no matter what, how he was always there for his family.  Even if he was in a meeting with the prophet, if his family called on the phone, he would take the call.  He put his family first.  And it reminded me of my dad!  I know in a heartbeat, he would drop everything and come to us if we asked him. 

My cough is pretty much gone now.  I am off the meds and have been feeling much better this week.  The azithromycin wasn't a problem either, which is good! 

I have some exciting news.....Sis Maroket and I invited three sisters to be baptized this week, and they all said yes!  Sister Nimfa who is 15, Sister Rosalie who is 30ish, and Sister Shaira who is 18. 

xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I am listening to MoTab Christmas music while typing, and I am so happy.  I love emailing you!  

I am feeling much better.  I still don't know what the rashes were from, but they're gone and they haven't come back, so that's good.  I know it wasn't from food, so it probably was from a weird plant or something that I brushed up against.  My cough is also getting better.  I woke up on Friday, so in America, Thursday, and I just felt like crap.  I just started crying and just felt so blahhh.  I didn't know what to do.  I just wanted to go home to you and have you hug me and take care of me.  Sis Maroket and I talked to Sis Rahlf that morning on the phone, and she emailed the area doctor in Manila, Elder Arner.  He emailed her back really quick and prescribed me azithromycin and prednisone.  I have some kind of respiratory infection, like pneumonia or bronchitis, I'm not sure exactly what it is.  But I know it's not fun!  I took the last antibiotic today and will finish the last of the prednisone tomorrow.  I am feeling much better now!  I got to rest a little bit extra during the day, but honestly, going out and working makes me feel best.  The best medicine is just going out to work and forgetting yourself!  

This week was a good week.  I finisihed the Book of Mormom!  I have read it before with you mom, and in seminary, but this time was different.  It felt like the first time I really read it for myself and understood it.  I loved it.  You know that feeling you have after you finish a good book or movie and you are sad that it's over because you liked it so much?  That's how I felt when I finished it.  My testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown a lot since being on a mission, and I grow and learn from it each time I read it.  I hope each of you read the Book of Mormom each day.  That's all we tell our investigators and less actives each lesson: pray and pray and pray and read and read and read.  We tell them over and over again because we know how important it is.  The Book of Mormon and prayer will give you strength that nothing else in the world can give you.  I am so thankful for the Book of Mormon and for the opportunity I have to share it with others.

We had a great experience with one of our investigators, Nanay Relly.  She is in her late 60's.  She had kidney cancer and has been recovering for the past year from her kidney removal surgery.  We have been teaching her for a while, but she had never been able to read the BofM or the pamphlets because she can't see.  She is one of the old ladies without glasses that I mentioned.  Some wonderful person donated a bunch of glasses to the mission, so Sis Maroket and i got to give her a pair of glasses.  I never thought giving someone a pair of glasses could be spiritual, but it was.  We brought a few different types of glasses to see which she could see best.  Her eyes got all wide and excited when we pulled the glasses out of our bags.  We fit her a pair, and happily handed her the pair that fit best.  She held them tenderly, as if they were the most delicate thing in the world.  She got quiet and just kept saying, "thank you, thank you."  During our lesson, we had her read a passage for us.  I don't remember what we were teaching her about, or what verse we shared with her, but the feeling I got when she was able to read the BofM for the first time, I will never forget.  I couldn't stop smiling.

I love you all so much and am so thankful for you! What a blessed time this is for us to think about family and about the birth of our Savior.


xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

This is one of my favorite families: the Rodriguez family!  They are less active.  You can see their whole house in this picture.  They are so great and so fun!  There's Tatay (dad), Nanay (mom), and four kids, Michael, Melvin, Macmac, and Cheska.  I love them!  

These are little Thanksgiving treats I made for each of my roommates and my comp.  I bought the cookies at the bakery down the street.   They've never had cookies there before, and I was so excited when I saw them, I think I bought half of them!  I left them out on the table for each of them, and they were each so excited.  They loved them!  And the cookies were really yummy.  It was nice to have a "normal" treat like sugar cookies for once