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.