Monday, April 25, 2016

Hello po!  Magandang hapon po! 

What a great week here in Burgos! It was busy busy busy.  On Monday, of course, we had P day.  I was feeling really under the weather (haha kind of literally with the heat and all) so after emails and shopping, I just slept for the rest of P-day until we went out and worked in the evening.  The heat was really getting to me, and I think I am sensitive to the water here so I was having kind of a hard time this week with that.  I decided to do what you suggested, and what Elder Bednar talked about in his talk you sent me ( In the Strength of the Lord )I prayed - not to change my circumstances - but to help me adapt to the circumstance I am in.  I prayed to Heavenly Father to help my body change and adjust so that I could handle the heat, to help my body adapt to the water so that I wouldn't feel sick and dehydrated, and to help my body adapt to the circumstances that I am in.  I prayed for days, over and over again for this.  And my prayer was answered!  I have been feeling much better, I haven't been feeling sick or dehydrated, and I have been handling the heat much better. Heavenly Father really answers prayers.

On Tuesday, we had Zone Conference!  I like to think of it as Spiritual Feasting Day.  It was a wonderful day of learning, fun, and feeling the Spirit.  We traveled by jeepny to Ilagan for the conference, which is about one hour away from Burgos.  It was so great to see President and Sister Rahlf!  This was their last Zone Conference with us.  They will be returning home in June, and President and Sister Hiatt will be taking their place.  It is sad to think that that was the last Zone Conference we will have with President and Sister Rahlf.  But, I am also really excited to meet the new mission president in a few weeks.

We just finished our Book of Mormon Reading challenge - where we read the Book of Mormon in 60 days - so the conference was all about this wonderful book.  During our power read, we focused on marking and finding names, teachings, words, and doctrines about Christ.  It really helped me realize that the Book of Mormon truly is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."  Before, I never really understood how much of the Savior really is within it's pages.  But if you read carefully, it's easy to find Him there.  He's everywhere in the Book of Mormon!  It was amazing to feel the Spirit testify to me again of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as we studied and talked about the BOM at the conference.  In our area, we made a goal to teach more about the Book of Mormon to our investigators, recent converts, less actives, and members.  The Book of Mormon is a great source of strength, and we know it will strengthen our area. 

Zone Conference is also fun because you get to see a lot of the other missionaries.  I was so happy to see some of the people that I have grown to love so much!  I'll send you some pictures of them.  :)  

On Wednesday,  we had companion exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders.  So we traveled back to Ilagan again (two days in a row! haha).  It was so great!  They taught us some great teaching skills.  It's always so fun to work with seasoned, confident missionaries like the sister training leaders.  They always teach me so much by their good example and by their love for this work.  My companion was Sister Mariano, who was my house mate in Cauayan.  We are already such good friends and it was so fun to be her companion.  I love her so much!  She really helped me feel like I am doing good as a missionary.  She always tells me, "Sister Allen, you are the happiest missionary I have ever met!" I've lost count of how many times she's told me that.  It always makes me happier when she says that.  But it's true - I am so happy all the time here!   Sister Mariano is so kind and sweet and I wished she lived in America so that we could hang out after the mission.  

For the rest of the week, we were back to our area, teaching and working like crazy!  I really love the area and all of the people inside of it.  We are continuing to press forward, despite setbacks and Satan's "pushbacks."  This work is really rewarding and I love it so much.  Our investigators are still working towards their baptismal dates and we are continuing to help them be prepared.  It's exhausting work, but I love it! We are trying to teach more about the Book of Mormon to all those that we teach, because we know it will help them so much, especially in gaining a testimony.  We have been teaching that to our members as well, and I think it will help strengthen our little branch.  Great things are happening here in our branch as well.  The leaders gave great talks on Sunday about keeping the Sabbath day holy, and we saw changes and improvements immediately after their talks.  More people stayed for the rest of church classes, and we had a great Sunday service.  We are working towards strengthening our members so that they can help us with the many many less actives here.  

I love you all so much!  I hope you always remember to read and pray every day and that you always remember that I am praying for you always.  I hope you have a wonderful week!  Work hard, pray hard, play hard. 


xo Sister Allen

P.S. I can't wait for Mother's Day!  :)

Our house!

Our desk area.

Our kitchen.

Our bedroom.

Our laundry area.  The little white box thing is our washing machine.

Our daily transportation!  It's called a "kulong-kulong" which in English is "cage-cage".  Usually it's used for animals, haha.  That's my comp Sister Aguanta, and our crazy but wonderful Branch Mission Leader, Brother Roland.

Zone Conference! Burgos, llagan, Tuguegarao North and Tuguegarao South Zones.

Burgos Zone.

Me, Sister Mariano, and Sister Kibaimoa.

Rejuvenated and ready to head back to our areas.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Magandang hapon po! 

This week has been a good week.  It's been so hot, but we are still working hard here in Burgos.  I am loving it here.  I am excited to continue working and teaching the wonderful people here. I'm trying to learn more Ilocano so that I can better communicate with the people here.  Overall, I am doing wonderfully.

My companionship is doing well.  We are getting better at teaching in unity and we are striving to improve in contacting as we tract.  We are trying to tract more in some parts of our areas that we haven't gone to as much.  We've found less actives and some new investigators, which has been good.  We really want to achieve the standards of excellence.  That is something we are trying to work on. 

Tomorrow is my......eight month mark!  Whoohoo!  Time really flies when you're having fun.  I can't believe my half way mark is so close.  I have been a missionary for eight months, and within those eight months I have learned and changed so much.  

I have grown so much since I first entered the MTC.  When I was at the MTC, about halfway through my six weeks there, I started feeling inadequate.  I felt like I wasn't missionary material.  I felt like I wasn't the "missionary type" and that I wasn't "churchy" enough or good enough to be a missionary.  I doubted my decision and wondered, "do I really need to do this?" and "is this really right for me?"  As I was stressing and overthinking, we watched a talk by Elder Holland that kind of woke me up.  He said that all we have to do is give ourselves - our will, our time, our heart, our mind, our strength - to the Lord, and He will make us worthy instruments.  He will change us into a missionary.  All we have to do is say, "Here am I, send me."  When we do what He wants and don't hold back, that is when we are successful.  I crept to the bathroom after the talk and knelt on the tile floor in humble prayer.  I remember thanking Him, apologizing for not giving myself to Him, and I told Him that now, I was willing to start.  I was willing to give myself to Him.  I walked out of the bathroom, trying to hide my tears and the tile prints on my knees and legs.  Just then, my district leader asked me if I would like a priesthood blessing.  I was so relieved - that was exactly what I wanted.  The elder gave me a beautiful blessing of comfort, one of the greatest blessings I have ever received.  I remember him saying, "you're Heavenly Father wants you to know that He as always been by your side, before, now, and always."  I felt so relieved and I felt such peace.  When Heavenly Father is by your side, how can you have fear and doubt?  You just can't!  From then on, I felt like a missionary.  I felt ready!  Even though discouragements still come, I know that as I give myself to the work and to my Heavenly Father, it will all work out. 

Right now is wedding season in Burgos!  Weddings are similar to weddings in America.  There's a ceremony, reception, white dress, etc.  But here there's an!  I don't just mean normal wedding music, but super loud, Tagalog, Ilocano, music that plays for 24 hours straight!  All day, all night.  There have been three wedding so far, close to our house.  I like weddings, but I am NOT a fan of the music haha.  I couldn't sleep, I couldn't focus on my studies, I could barely think!  Next week there are more wedding next week.  I am going to invest in some ear plugs this P day. Hahaha. 

It is also so so so hot here right now (it was 98 degrees, but with the humidity if feels like 108).  I was feeling cooler than normal the other morning so I checked my thermometer.  It read 91 degrees!  That's the "cooler" temp here I guess.  A scary thing happened today earlier too because of the heat.  I was feeling sick to my stomach and was just feeling weird.   I realized that I wasn't sweating, even though my companion was.  I was dizzy, my head was pounding, and my skin felt hot and tight.  I was so dehydrated!  I think I had a little bit of heat exhaustion.  I felt like I was going to pass out in the heat.  But don't worry, I drank a lot of water and Gatorade and am feeling better now.   Usually I drink about 3 liters every day.

We have had a good week of teaching, even though we didn't meet some of the goals that we wanted.  It seems that right when an investigator is progressing, coming to church, and preparing for baptism, the problems and distractions come and get in the way!  They move, or they're busy, or they change their mind.  But it's all right.  We are continuing to look up!  There's so much good for us to do here, and we are planting some promising seeds. Our investigators we do have are doing well.  We are continuing teaching and helping them come unto Christ.  Right now, we are planting.  I don't know for sure, but I think I might be the "planting" type of missionary, as opposed to the "harvesting" kind.  But that's okay with me.  I love planting!  There can't be a harvest after all if there's no one to plant.  Of course, I am always looking for opportunities to harvest and I have faith that I am making a difference here.  I am the happiest planter there ever was! 

I love you all so much!  Thank you for your prayers and all of your support.  You are always in my prayers.  


xo Sister Allen

*Sorry, the computer I’m using won’t read my camera or SD card. So no pictures. :( Sorry!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Me, Sister Aguanta, and our tiny branch missionary Janica.
 (No, she's not a child.  We're the same age.)

Hello po! Naimbag na malim! 

I am doing well.  I am so happy to be here in Burgos! It is a bit difficult to adjust to a new area, especially because I am really bad at directions, but I am getting used to it!  We have a great area with a lot of potential.  Sister Aguanta is a great companion and is helping me figure out the area.  She's a great teacher and we are learning a lot from each other. 

To answer some of your questions:  Yes, we will be able to skype on mother's day!  I'll just have to travel to another city to get to a computer.  Only one month away!  Yay!  There are no computers that I know of in our area right now.  There are some people with smart phones and wifi, but most people just have an old beater cell phone that's just good for calling and texting.  That's what we have, and it works fine. 

This week was a wonderful week.  We were busy working, of course and busy helping people come unto Christ.  Busy learning and growing every day.  I am improving a little bit in Ilocano.  Most people here understand Tagalog and Ilocano, but a lot of them can only speak Ilocano.  I still speak mostly Tagalog here, but I am still learning more and more Ilocano. Hopefully I'll pick more of it up soon! 

We had a great week of setting baptismal dates!  Whoohoo!  When I got here, we had no investigators with a baptismal date.  All the ones that had baptismal dates before got baptized already!  Haha, which is great!  But, we really needed to set some new ones in our work this week.  We set a goal to have two investigators with a baptismal date by the end of the week.  We worked hard, extended baptismal dates, taught and taught, and followed the Spirit.  After all that, we were able to double our goal!  We now have four investigators with a set baptismal date.  Whoohoo!!  Their names are Sherell (15), Angelica (15), Gina (30ish), and Carmelita (70ish).  They are all so wonderful.  I am so excited to keep teaching them and to help them come unto the Christ.  

I want to tell you a little bit about Carmelita:  At first when the missionaries tried to teach her, she refused.  She did not want anything to do with them.  Instead of teaching her, the missionaries began teaching her grandson Jason (16), whom she raised.  Jason liked the message and started making some really big changes in his life.  Before, he hung out with a bad crowd and was doing some bad stuff, but he turned his life around after hearing and knowing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He was baptized a few months ago.  Carmelita has watched him grow and change.  After seeing how much good the gospel has brought to her grandson, her heart softened.  In an ironic backwards twist, the grandson became the example for his mother-figure grandmother.  She raised him, and now he is helping raise her in the gospel.  We have been teaching her the lessons and have set her a baptismal date for early May.  She also came to church this Sunday!  Yay!  I have faith that she will follow the example of her grandson and be baptized.  She is so wonderful and kind and deserves the amazing love of Jesus Christ in her life, as we all do. 

Also this week was General Conference!  Before my mission, I was never thrilled at the thought of watching talks for the equivalent of about 10 sacrament meetings.  But here in the mission, I have come to cherish the words of the prophets and apostles and I can honestly say I was SO EXCITED for General Conference.  I learned so much.  I felt the Spirit in my heart.  I had a really great experience.  When it was over, I was disappointed.  I wanted more!  That's how I think we should always be, always wanting more light, more truth, more words of the prophets, and more of the Spirit.  I have so many favorite quotes and talks, but I expecially enjoyed the talk by Elder Holland.  I love and echo his words: 

"Keep trying.  Keep trusting.  Keep believing.  Keep growing.  Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever."   - Jeffrey R. Holland

I like to imagine our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and all of the loved ones who we have been lost, standing, watching, and cheering us on with encouragements and shouts of love.  I know they watch over us.  I know they strengthen me every day.  Sometimes it's as if I can hear their cheers, see their smiles, and feel the warm glow of their love.  I'll admit, a mission is really hard at times.  There's ups and downs.  There's times when I can say, "I can do this."  And there's times when I feel like I can't. But I know with all my heart that I can do it, because it's not just me alone doing the work.  I am guided, lifted up, comforted, and strengthened every day by angels and by my Savior.  I know that's true for me, and I know that's true for all of you.  I know that heaven is cheering us on!  There's a lot of people waiting and hoping for our success and for our happiness. 

You are all always in my prayers and in my heart.  I am cheering you on!  

I love you with all my heart, 

xo Sister Allen

I love the saying on the bottom the jeepny...
(the owners of the jeepny are members)

Our Branch President getting some buko (coconut) for us. Yum!

Service project fixing the bahay kubo.  
They use it as a shade while they work in the rice fields.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hello po! Magandang hapon po!  

This week was transfer day....and I have been transferred:  I am now in BURGOS ZONE in the Burgos 1st area.  Burgos is basically the middle of nowhere.  There's fields of corn, rice, and tobacco, and that's pretty much it.  There's no city, no tricys, no ATM, no places to go out to eat.  I'm in the middle of nowhere!  There are little "sari-sari" stores that sell snacks, soda, things like that, but that's pretty much it.  I got kind of stressed at first to be in such a rural area, but now I love it.  The air is fresh and the stars at night are unreal.  There's so many carabou, frogs, and I've heard there's even some monkeys nearby.  It's SO different then my last area, but it love it already.  I am so happy to be here.

Even though there's not much stuff here, there are a lot of members here.  We have one branch in our area, Burgos 1st branch.  There's also tons of less active members in our area.  If they all were still active in the church, we would have a ward here for sure.  My first day here, we just went around and met all the members in our branch, and taught a few lessons to some kids who were recently baptized.  All the members are so kind and helpful.  I was so happy to meet all of them, and they were happy to meet me.  There's a lot of beautiful, kind people here.  Our branch mission leader, Brother Roland, is awesome.  He drives us around everywhere, always feeds us, teaches with us, and is always giving us good ideas to help our area.  At first, I felt kind of embarrassed that he drives us around so much and does so much for us, but I know he is doing it because he loves and supports missionary work.  Which is wonderful!  All the members here are like that.  They are always offering us rides, inviting us to eat at their house, and making sure we are taken care of.  We eat breakfast at home, and then we eat at member's houses for lunch and dinner everyday.  Yay!  It makes me feel right at home. It makes me feel loved.  One member, whose son is also on a mission said, "I always feed the missionaries because I know if I feed you here, my son will also be fed there."  Haha.  I told her that she was right.  

In the Philippines Cauayan Mission, the Burgos Zone has been at the top of the charts, statistic wise, for the last few months.  Things are going really well here.  Missionary work is booming!  Last Saturday here in Burgos zone (before I got here) every set of missionaries had two or more!  I am excited to be serving in such a progressing area. 

In Burgos, most people don't speak Tagalog....they speak Ilocano.  So I'll have to learn that as well.  Haha!  I felt like I was finally getting good at Tagalog in all the lessons and stuff, but now I've got to start all over and learn Ilocano.  I feel kind of shy to talk to people here sometimes, because I'm not sure if they'll understand me.  But, I am learning!  All of the little kids are always teaching me Ilocano words.  It's so cute, and I actually learn a lot. I'll teach you some of the things I've learned in Ilocano:  "good afternoon" is "naimbag na malim," "beautiful" is "napintas" and "what's your name?" is "anya ti nagan mu?" Ilocano is very different from Tagalog, but I am excited to learn.

The members in our area said it's been a long time since an American has been here.  People, multiple times already, keep calling me "maliit na Amerikana" which is "little American."  They always ask me, "you're from America, why aren't you tall?"  Haha.  I told them it's because both my parents are short (I'm 5'4).  Some of the recent converts in our area - who are teenage boys - are scared of me.  They won't talk to me and sometimes they are shy to even look at me.  Bro. Roland said it's because I am American and I look like a Barbie, and so they're scared of me.  There are no foreigners here in Burgos, besides missionaries, so seeing a foreigner makes them shy I guess.  Hopefully that doesn't last for long! 

My new companion is Sister Aguanta.  She is from Negros Occidental (near Cebu, PH), is 21 years old, and has been in the mission field for one cycle less than me.  She is really nice.  She has a fun personality and is a really great missionary.  She's the youngest of six siblings and is the first missionary in her family.  She has been a member of the church all her life, just like me.  She's a great companion!  Her birthday is in November, just like me too!  She already graduated college in marketing management.  She has been in Burgos 1st for five months, and it is her first area.  I also have two cute housemates, Sister Velasco and Sister Ruyeres, both from the Philippines.  They are so cute and tiny and I love them.  Our apartment is just as nice as my last one.  I even have a normal bed instead of a bunk bed, which I love.  We have a nice bathroom that's bigger than my last one (still bucket showers of course).  We have a cute little kitchen with just a stove and a toaster oven.  And we also have....A WASHING MACHINE.  My life is changed.   I used it this morning.  Yay!  And my favorite part is....there's no rats or mice in our apartment!  That's really all I care about haha.  Our apartment is actually in the area of Sis. Velasco and Sis. Ruyeras, so Sis. Aguanta and I have to travel, about 3 km or so through the rice fields, to our area everyday.  Luckily, we always have a ride!  

Leaving Cauayan City was easier than I thought it would be.  Although, of course, I love and will miss the people there, I felt ready to go to a new place.  I know also that I will see all of the people I love from Cauayan again someday.  I only cried once during all the good-byes I had.  I cried when I said good-bye to Nanay Editha.  She is so special to me and I will never forget her.  We went to visit her one last time, and I told her that I would be leaving.  She grabbed my hand tight, looked at me, and with tears in her eyes, told me how special I was to her.  It was such a powerful, special, sweet moment.  One that I will never forget.  I will miss her dearly. 

I am so excited to watch General Conference this week!  We are so blessed to be able to hear from our living prophet and apostles, and we here in the PH are so blessed to have the technology to be able to watch a broadcast of it.  We are asleep while General Conference is going on in America, so we watch the sessions one week after.  We are scheduled to watch it just like you would, two sessions on Saturday and two sessions on Sunday.  Priesthood session is early Saturday morning.  There's no broadcast of the women's conference, I'm not sure why.  I downloaded the audio from the General Women's Session to my flash drive and I listened to all of it while I was packing this week.  It was so great!  I loved the message of serving and loving those in need.  I was really touched by the talks that were given.  It is so important for us to reach out in love to all those that are around us in any way we can.  All service is worthwhile, no matter how small.  No effort of love and kindness is ever a waste.  

Because I know you'll wonder....I am emailing you from Roxas, a neighboring city.  For P-Day we have to travel to another city outside of our zone so that we can email and go to the grocery store.  Roxas isn't as big as Cauayan, but it has everything we need.  It's about a 30 minute ride from Burgos to Roxas.

I hope you all have a fantastic, wonderful week filled with joy and love.  I love you all so much and you are always in my prayers.  Thank you for making my week bright with your wonderful emails. 


xo Sister Allen

Saying goodbye to Nanay Editha.

Welcome to Burgos!

Me and Sister Aguanta.  I ate a whole coconut! It was delicious.

Our area....the middle of nowhere!

Me, Sister Aguanta, and the family of our branch president at our chapel.

Pretty sunset in Burgos.