Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hello hello!  

I am transferred! I found out this morning.  When the text came with the list of people, and I saw "Sister Allen" I started kind of screaming excitedly and jumping up and down because I was happy.  Then a few seconds later I started crying.  Haha.  I guess you could say I have mixed feelings.  I love Cauayan zone and have loved being in my area.  I love each of the sweet people I have taught here and all the friends I have made.  I will miss Cauayan City.  On the other hand, I think I am ready to get to a new area.  I am excited for whatever lies ahead.  I have no idea where I will get transferred.  I will find out on Transfer Day, which is Wednesday.  I am excited and nervous, but also very excited.  Next time I talk to you, I'll be in a new area with a new companion!  Ah!

Happy Easter!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and had a chance to think about the Savior.  I had a great Easter here in Cauayan.  Our District Conference fell on the same day as Easter this year.  It was great to have our District, which is like the small version of a stake, all together.  We heard from our District Presidency, a few District leaders, and President and Sister Rahlf.  It was a great meeting.  After the meeting, the missionaries in the Cauayan Zone - that's us! - had planned an Easter Musical Fireside.  We shared the story of the Savior through song.  We went through His birth, life, death, and resurrection.  We read scriptures and then sang songs all about the Savior.  We didn't have much time to practice, so I was a bit worried of how it would turn out.  To my pleasant surprise, it was a beautiful fireside.  I felt the Spirit so strong.  I sang with all the sisters one song, a few songs as a zone, and a duet with me and Elder Navarro.  It was just one verse of "I Stand All Amazed."  I thought I was going to die.  I was so nervous.  My heart was pounding so hard I thought I would explode.  But it went alright.  I survived, haha!  Music is one of the strongest ways that I feel the Spirit.  Singing about the Savior, and listening to the other songs, really testified to me just how true our message is:  that our Savior lives and that He loves us.  It was a wonderful experience, one that I will never forget.

I am so happy to be serving in this wonderful place alongside with such wonderful people.  I love the Philippines Cauayan Mission! I am very excited for my new area.  Adventure awaits!  

all my love, 
xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

(a cute drawing by Sister Allen)

Hello Po!

Here in the Philippines, schools out, summer's begun, and it is HOT.  My hair is getting blonder and my skin is getting darker.  It's a different hot than at home in Utah.  It's so humid you can feel the air just sticking to you.  Yesterday, we had a brown out - no power - and went all through church and our studies at the apartment without any fans.  I was so sweaty!  Did you know that the Philippines Cauayan mission is the hottest mission in the Philippines?  

This week was a good week.  It was a bit of a slower week, but we still had a lot of great lessons and talked to a lot of great people.  On Tuesday, we had a "specialized training" at our district meeting.  Instead of the district leader teaching at our meeting, our teachers were President and Sister Rahlf!  It was a great meeting.  They always have such inspiring thoughts.  We talked a lot about becoming consecrated missionaries. A consecrated missionary is made up of four things:  good attitude, work ethic, gospel knowledge, and obedience.  We talked about how we can improve in each of these things and how we can all become more consecrated unto the Lord.  It was a great meeting.  I liked the part about good attitude a lot.  I firmly believe that attitude is everything.  Even though it's so hot, we're sweaty all the time, we have blisters on our feet, sometimes people don't want us to teach them, and all the other things that seem to go wrong, if we choose to have a good attitude about everything, all our troubles won't seem so hard.  All the little wrongs in our life will be drowned out by all of the happy and good things.  All we have to do is let the good in!  Don't focus on the darkness, let the sunshine in!  Life - and everything else - becomes so much better when we have a good attitude. 

Our area is still doing well.  We went to a new part of our area that I had never really gone to before, and we found a couple new investigators there that were so open and willing to hear our message.  It made us so happy.  We have decided to go back there and to find more people to teach this coming week.  I am excited to see what we find there!  

We had a good experience with one of our LA’s this week (less active).  Her name is Edith and she is 52 year’s old.  She was baptized a little over one year ago.  She has such strong faith, and the only reason she’s LA is because she doesn’t have fare to ride a trycie to church.  Their life is hard and money is tight, and they live far far away from the chapel.  About a 100 peso ride round trip.  We encouraged her to continue praying and acting in faith to come to church.  On Sunday morning we got a call from one of our members.  She told us that she would pick up Nanay Edith for church.  We hurried and called Nanay Editha, hoping she wasn’t still asleep.  She answered and we told her to hurry and get ready because she had a ride to church.  Her answer touched my heart.  She said, “Sister’s, I am already ready.  I woke up this morning and got ready for church.  I didn’t know why, but I felt that I will go to church today.”  How amazing is that?!?  She was able to come to church.  Her prayers were answered, through the kindness of a member, and through the Spirit that said to her, “Get up and get ready.  You’re going to church today.”  I was so happy to see her at church.  I was so happy that she had enough faith to follow the Spirit, even if her prompting seemed impossible.  Yay!   

Also....happy Easter!  Easter is celebrated differently here in the Philippines.  It's more like a celebration - or a mourning really - for the death of Jesus Christ.  I am so happy to know and share to these people here that Christ lives!  He lived for us, died for us, and then on the third day, He rose and lived again for us.  And even now, He lives!  I really love the Easter video from the church last year.  I echo it's words:  He lives.  And if you call out, He will be there. All we have to do is seek Him.  Find Him.  I hope each of you take a little time to think about the Resurrection of Christ this Easter.  I hope you each reach out to Him this Easter, and always.  I know He will be there.

Here's a link to the video:

I love you all so much!  I hope you have a great Easter week! 
mahal kita and happy easter    

xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

One of our recent concerts, Melanie.  
She got baptized right before I got here.  
She is so cute and I love her so much.  

Me and my companions. :)

Floating house!  They farm fish next to their house
in the lake for a living. 

Our district in a jeepny.  On our way to Magat Dam.

I thought the colorful boats were so cute.
We got to ride around the lake in one!
It was a little bit tippy, but fun!

A fire station! Not quite like dad's firestation.

Monday, March 14, 2016

At Zone Conference 

Mahal ko kayo!

Sometimes, being here doesn't feel real.  It feels like a dream.  I feel like a Disney princess sometimes (hehe).  I am the only blondish, white American girl for miles around in this little Asian city and I am constantly surrounded by new and interesting things.  I feel kind of like an alien here.  People are always staring and me and (trying) to speak in English to me.  Things like, "hello, madam!" or "what's your name?" and "hello America!" (that's my favorite one haha)  are said to me a lot.  They're always surprised when I answer them in Tagalog.  It's fun especially to talk to the little kids in Tagalog.  When they see me, they always shout, "Amerikana! Amerikana!"  and I look around and say, "saan?!" (That means "where?!")  That makes them - and me - laugh.  I stick out like a sore thumb here.  But, as a missionary, it's sometimes helpful!  People often times approach us, and then we get an opportunity to share the gospel with them.

This week was a good week here in the great Philippines Cauayan Mission.  I really do love it here in the Philippines.  It's such an amazing place.  Here are some facts for you:  The Philippines was colonized by the Spanish for many years.  Because of that, there's a lot of Spanish-Asian mix of culture, language, and even religion.  Because of the Spanish influence here, the Philippines is the only prominently Christian Asian country.  Everyone here has heard of and knows about Jesus Christ, unlike other Asian countries.  That is a blessing for us as missionaries!  People are ready to accept the fulness of the gospel of Christ because they already have pieces of it, and most people have a solid Christian background.  All we have to do it fill in the missing pieces: the Restoration, priesthood, temples, etc. 

The entire Philippines Cauayan Mission is doing a Book of Mormon reading challenge.  We are all reading the Book of Mormon in 60 days!  Ah!  (I think I've told you a little bit about it, but I want to tell you more.)  While we speed read, we do three things:  1) Mark every time the Savior is mentioned - Lord, Jesus Christ, He, Him, the good shepherd etc. 2) Highlight in one color all the words that the Savior speaks, like when it says "thus saith the Lord:..." and 3) Highlight in a different color all of the scriptures that relate to the mission of the Savior - His birth, atonement, baptism, crucifixion, etc.  It's so great to do the reading challenge.  I love it!  I am a little bit behind....but I am trying to catch up.  We are already in Alma!  It's really fun to look for signs of the Savior as I read.  I never realized how much of Him was in the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It testifies of Him on every page.  I read recently  (I don't remember where or who said it) that without the Book of Mormon, we would know little about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  As I have been doing the reading challenge, I know that that is true.  There is so much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ within it's pages. 

It has been a pretty good week.  I started this week to write in my planner each day a "personal goal of the day" and a "miracle of the day."  It's been really fun.  There are usually multiple miracles!  It's fun to look back at the week and look at all the great things that have happened.  Making personal goals every day helps me to be more self aware.  It also helps me to focus more during the day on improving one thing at a time.  It's been helpful and eye-opening.  I have never been more aware of my weaknesses than here in the mission.  I know that weaknesses are given to us to help us grow and become strong.  I want to work on humbling myself so that I can learn to overcome my weaknesses.  Making a "personal goal of the day" is helping me do that.

I am doing well.  I am learning more about the gospel every single day and, of course, am learning to speak more Tagalog every day too!  It's really fun to speak in a new language.  I definitely know that the gift of tongues is true.  I feel like the language has just come to me; it's so awesome!  Of course, I study and learn more each day too.  I also help my companions study English.  That's actually pretty fun.  

Our area is doing well.  Nicole is still coming to church and progressing - reading and praying every day.  We have yet to set a baptismal date, but that is our goal this week!  I'll let you know how it goes.  She is so wonderful.  She really has been prepared to hear the glad tidings of the gospel.  Our area is doing okay as well.  I feel like we are kind of it a rut.  We have so many investigators, but none of them come to church, so none of them are progressing.  It's really hard to help investigators come to church.  But, I know they have their agency.  We can only do so much.  That being said, I want to do as much as I can to help them.  In our area, I want to do more lessons and invitations to help people make the decision to come to church.  That, I would say, is our biggest struggle right now. 

Our companionship is doing better.  We are still here, still working hard, and still trying to improve in our work.  Training is really good.  Sister Recano has opened up a lot more with us.  She was very quiet at first and didn't say much.  But now, most of the time she doesn't stop talking!  It's actually been a great change.  She is finally letting her light shine for all to see!  I can see her confidence in missionary work growing day by day.  

I love you all so much!  Thank you for all your prayers and all of your good vibes.  I can feel them every day, lifting me and strengthening me. 

xo Anna 

At Zone Conference.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Hello!  This week was an okay week.  There were some ups and some downs, but overall, I am doing well.  The work is still moving forward, step by step.  I am learning lots of lessons through little trials, and even though sometimes it's hard, I am learning a lot and becoming stronger in person and in spirit.  I am really enjoying the Book of Mormon power read our mission president challenged us to do.  I love it!  I did my own kind of "power read" of the Book of Mormon when I entered the MTC.  I started it at the end of August and finished it at the beginning of November.  I was excited to read it again, fast!  I love highlighting everything about the Savior as I read.  I never realized how much of Him is in the Book of Mormon!  He's on every page, and practically in every verse.  This power read is strengthening my testimony of the Book of Mormon and of my Savior. 

The Cauayan area is doing well.  We found a lot of new, promising investigators this week!  I am excited to teach them more and extend more baptismal dates this week.  We have also been doing much better at contacting and finding ever since we practiced CASH contacting at zone conference.  That has helped us have a lot of success in finding and contacting.  

We visited our less active this week, Editha.  Her daughter Jennie Lynn had just gotten back from the hospital after giving birth to the cutest baby boy.  His name is Mar.  I remember when Editha first told us that her daughter was pregnant.  She cried and cried and her heart was broken.  Jennie Lynn is a deaf mute - she can't hear or talk.  She is almost thirty years old, but she lives with her parents because she needs someone to take care of her.  Jenny Lynn is kind and innocent, and spends a lot of time walking around their little town.  Most likely, Jennie Lynn was raped, and because she can't talk or hear, they didn't know - and still don't know - who the father his.  Editha was heartbroken that someone would do such an evil and horrible thing to her daughter.  But now, months later, they have a beautiful baby.  I remember comforting Nanay Editha that day and telling her that trials sometimes bring us the most wonderful blessings.  We tried to make this horrible thing into a positive one.  We told Editha that she could raise the baby in the church.  We told her that when Jenny Lynn was old, she would have her son to take care of her.  We told her to be strong, and to trust the Lord, and that everything - even the most horrible things - happen for a reason.  It was so sweet to see the new, perfect baby Mar this week, and also to see the smile on Editha's face.  A trial in her life had become a beautiful blessing.  That was an important reminder to me about trials.  Even when our trials feel like they are tearing us apart, our trials will be for our good.  Through trials, we receive blessings. 

This week, our companionship has been struggling a little.  There was some unkindness going around that really broke my heart and hurt my feelings.  I fasted this past Sunday for our companionship to have charity and unity.  Even though being in a threesome companionship is hard, I know that this trial will make me and my companions stronger. I am also trying to be kinder and serve my companions more to have a more loving companionship.  I hope that we can do better this week and can each try and be more like our Savior.  

I love you all so much!  I pray for you all every day and think of you every minute. I am excited to start this fresh, new week.

xo Sister Allen

Happy birthday to my dad!

One of our less active's daughters had a baby this past week.  He is sooo cute and sooo tiny.  
His name is Mar.

My latest finds from the past few weeks!  Some Filipino hair elastics. A pretty Japanese notebook. A new wallet that says "banana" (forAnnaBanana) :) cause my other wallet broke. And...candy!Chocolate covered almonds. 

A dinner at the Dellona's house.

At the Soloria's house. There was a lot of us!
Nanay told me she hopes I don't get transferred haha.
She is so cute!  I love her and her family.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hello beautiful people!  

Oh my goodness.  I miss you all so so much.  So so much!

I am doing well.  I am working hard.  I had a good week.  I am no longer sick.  Yay!  I just have a little cough, that’s all.

What a week.  We have been having great weeks here in Cauayan, and this week was another one.  We had more successful goals, more quality lessons, and better unity in our trisome this week.  My companions are doing well.  We finally had a breakthrough with Sister R during companionship inventory.  She opened up to us. Since then, she has seemed a lot happier and has been more open and friendly to us.  She is from the Phil. Tacloban mission and was there when the largest typhoon on record hit.  She saw horrible horrible things, but she is strong.  Her aunt died in the storm, but no one else. On top of that, we have been having much better training sessions and lessons.  It is so so important for companions to be open with each other!  She is a great missionary, and she is improving in her teaching and really applying the things that we study in our training.  It's fun to watch her grow.  Sister T is also doing good.  She is such a happy light and has such a strong testimony. I know more about the gospel than I ever have before and I am closer to my Savior than I ever have been.

Cultural note:  Respect in the Philippines is very important.  You always respect anyone older than you and every stranger that you talk to.  If you add "po" in your sentences to people, it makes it respectful.  To old people, you respect them by grabbing their hand and touching it to your forehead.  I am sure there's a Tagalog way to say it, but I have only heard it called "bless."  I really like how much people respect each other here.  There's more peace and kindness here because of that.  It always makes me smile when little children "bless" me.

Our area is doing all right.  We are continuing teaching and contacting.  A lot of our less actives and some of our investigators have moved away, so I feel an urgency to find more new investigators and find less actives in our area.  We need to find more this week!  We have one really really progressing investigator, Nicole.  She's very cautious and hasn't agreed on a baptismal date yet, but she's close.  She has a lot of faith and desire to become closer to God.  I am excited to see our progress with her in the coming week.  

I had a thought this week, and then thought about it again as I was reading my dad's letter. As missionaries we plan and plan and plan every single day.  We write our plans for the day, appointments, goals, lesson plans, and invitations that we will extend to those we teach.  A lot of our lessons have commitments to come to church, pray, and read the Book of Mormon.  Because it's faster and takes up less space, I usually shorten church, prayer, and reading to “CPR."  When my dad wrote me his letter he said that he was giving physical CPR to a man who was dead.  But my dad breathed life back into him, and the man lived again.  I am giving spiritual CPR to the people here and - I hope and pray - that I am saving some.  I am bringing people back to spiritual life!  The only way they can receive that life is through coming to church, praying, and reading the scriptures.  

I love you all so much!  I hope your week is full of happiness and joy and that you always remember how much I love each of you.  You're always in my heart.

Ingat po kayo! 

xo Sister Anna Allen

Sorry.... I didn't take any pictures this week!
But, I found some quotes that I really really like....