Monday, July 25, 2016

Hello po! 

I have had a good week.  I can't believe it's already p-day again!  I feel like yesterday was p-day, and now it's p-day again.  Time is flying so fast, it's scary!  We had about 20 lessons this week, which is okay.  Me and Sis. Escalante are doing great!  We are almost done with her training and I'm not feeling like a babysitter anymore. :)   Sis E. said she was feeling emotional and homesick.  I have tried to help her and comfort her, and now she seems better.  She also received letters from her family in the pouch for the first time since she left on her mission, which helped a lot.  This week is also week 11 in training, which is the week where the trainee leads everything.  I think it stressed her out at first, but she's doing well and is very capable and prepared to lead.  She's improving every day.  She's getting things figured out and is becoming a more consecrated missionary every day. Transfer day is next week, August 3rd.  I'm not sure if I'm going to stay or if I'm going to transfer.  Either one is possible!  What do you think?

The weather has been super super super rainy this week.  All the prayers of the rice farmers here have been answered!  It hadn't rained in probably three or four weeks, but it's been raining a lot again now.  

This Tuesday we had our monthly Zone Meeting.  At ZM, the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders taught a lesson given to them by Pres. and Sis. Hiatt.  This was the first meeting since Pres. Hiatt became mission president, so there were a few changes, but nothing too big.  The lesson was focused on the phrase:
"Teach repentance, baptize converts."  It's our job to teach everyone that they need to repent - or in other words - that they need to change and come unto Christ.  That is our goal as missionaries!  We are helping people, step by step, to become a little better and a lot happier.  

At the meeting they also announced that they have a new requirement for every single lesson that we ever teach:  we have to sing.  Ah!  Before every lesson, we must start with a hymn, then pray and start the lesson.  We have never done that before!  At first, when we tried it out this week, it was the worst thing ever.  Sometimes we're off key and our voices don't sound good.  After doing it for about a week, I can honestly say that I really like it.  It adds a special feeling to the lessons and makes me feel reverent and helps us to feel the Spirit.  Like they said at ZM, "the hymn is the first prayer of the meeting, then afterwards comes the real prayer."  I love that.  Like it says in D&C, when we sing, it is like a prayer to God.  Our lessons have become more spiritual and I don't feel embarrassed to sing anymore in front of people.

They also talked to us sisters about wearing the slacks......  I finally have a pair but have yet to wear them because I kind of hate them.  My companion says they suit me well, which is embarrassing.  I don't want slacks to suit me, haha!  But, we'll see if I wear them this week.  I'll send you a picture if I do!  The ZL's quoted Sis. Hiatt at our ZM.  She said:  "Sisters!  Be obedient.  Follow the brethren.  Wear the pants."  I thought that was hilarious.  Hahahahaha. 

This Wednesday, we traveled to Ilagan City to have our cycle-ly companion exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders.  It was fun!  My companion was Sis. Biolena.  It was fun to work with such a good missionary.  We had a great day. 

On Sunday, I was SO SO SO HAPPY because two of our investigators came to church and they had a great experience.  Frechelle is 13 years old and Sherell is 15 years old.  Sherell had come to church in the past and was finally able to make it back with the help of her friend and recent convert, Angelica (she was baptized last month).  It was Frechelle's first time.  We picked her up in the kulong kulong (even though it was pouring rain!) and made it to the church.  We walked to the front doors and she timidly followed in our wake.  All of a sudden, someone shouted very loudly, "Frechelle!", ran towards her, and buried her in a big hug.  It was one of her very best friends, who is also one of the young women in our branch.  We had no idea that they were so close, but we were so grateful that she was there.  Frechelle had a huge smile on her face and was happily by the side of her friend for the rest of church.  Having a friend really makes such a huge difference!  Frechelle and Sherell are excited to come back and participate in the activities.  They both have a baptismal date scheduled for mid-August. 

Pres. Hiatt asked us to share a miracle with him.  There’s so many, it’s hard to pick just one!  The miracle I shared is about Angelica.  When I got to the area, she was a painfully shy new investigator. To be honest, I didn't think anything special or significant would happen with her.  During our lessons she barely spoke.  She just stared at the ground and sometimes was able to choke out a "yes, sister" or another quiet phrase.  I don't know why, but we kept going back.  I guess the Spirit was telling us that there was more to this girl.  Slowly, she started to pray with us.  She started reading.  She started coming to church.  She looked into our eyes as she listened in our lessons instead of looking at the ground.  She started speaking more and to our surprise - sharing her testimony.  To make a long story short, she was baptized last month and since then, has been continuously growing.  She has blossomed.  She has given us the most referrals out of all of the members and others, many of whom who are now preparing for their own baptisms.  She works with us and isn't afraid to share her testimony.  This week, she told me that she will prepare to serve a mission in her future.  It makes me cry as I write this.  It seems like a small miracle, but to me, it's big.  When I met her, she barely spoke.  During all those silent, almost awkward lessons, the Spirit was teaching her and changing her heart from a heart of fear to a heart full of love and faith.  This silent young girl has changed into a powerful, beautiful daughter of God who spreads light to all around her.  

I love you all so much!  You are always in my thoughts and prayers.  I think of you always!  I hope you have an amazing week and that you are all always finding the joy in everything.  Let your lights so shine! 

mahal ko po kayong lahat 

xo Sister Allen


They're stinky and rough, but I like them.

From our CSP this week, we helped Bro. Roland's restaurant.  He asked me to make this menu! It's not my best work, but it was fun to make.

This was on Wednesday when we had companion exchanges with the Sister Training leaders in Ilagan.  We ate dinner at a little restaurant with some members from their ward. Yum!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This week has been a good week.  I am doing well.  I am so happy and I am growing so much.  We have been busy - of course!  We taught almost 30 lessons this week, which was good!  We're moving up.  Our goal - and the standard of excellence for PCM - is 35 lessons per week.  That's what we're pushing for!  Burgos is doing well.  It’s been really hot lately because it hasn’t rained in a while, but the weather is basically the same:  hot and humid.  Right now, the corn harvest has started and the rice is still growing.  I ate some corn on the cob this week at a members house, and it was delicious!  It was so fresh and sweet.  Yum!
Me and Sister Escalante here in the Burgos 1st Branch are doing well and are working together better than ever.  Her training is almost over!  Time really is going fast. Our branch is getting stronger and stronger each week.  Our attendance at church has started to grow.  This past Sunday we had about 120 attendees, which is a step up from before.  We have been planning with our crazy, but wonderful, branch mission leader to visit more of the less active and part member families in our branch.  There are SO many less actives in our branch.  Most people we talk to say, "oh yeah, I was Mormon before..."  It's a land of less actives!  We want to teach the less actives and part members, because as we teach them, we can teach their friends and family members too and they can become our investigators.  We were really bummed again this Sunday because none of our investigators came to church.  Even though we did all we could to get them there - fellowshipper, ride to church, multiple commitments and reminders - it still didn't happen.  Sometimes I just want to shout at them, "JUST COME TO CHURCH!"  It's hard to watch people choose not to do things that you know will make them happier and better.  But, they have their agency, and we have to respect that.  But we will still do everything we can to help them make the right choice.  

The best part of this week was when we had “splits” on Sunday after church.  I worked with some branch missionaries and Sister Escalante worked with some branch missionaries separately.  We were still close by, but we went to different investigators and lessons so that we could cover more area in a smaller amount of time.  I was with Lyka and Sister Escalante was with two other branch missionaries.  I was nervous to see how Sister E would do because that was the first time she worked on her own without me.  But she did great!  It made me so proud to see and hear how she did.  She really has gotten the hang of things.  I am so proud that she has applied all the things that we have been teaching her.  She is growing so much.  That was the best part of the week:  seeing how much my anak has learned and grown.

Another great part of the week was when we had a service project at the family of one of our members, the Martin family.  They are building their house, and we helped them clean up the yard and the area around the house.  It was fun!  I like yard work.  It’s exercise and I feel like it relieves stress.  Especially when you’re working for someone else !  Afterwards they fed us lunch.  As we were eating, Sister Myrna, the mom, basically asked me if I would marry her son who just returned from his mission.  She said she really wants a grandchild with blue eyes.  Hahaha!  I didn’t really know how to respond.  That was kind of a weird experience, but the rest of the CSP was nice.

Another great thing about this week:  we had a zone activity today!  We went to the Ilagan Sanctuary.  There’s a zoo, hiking, caves, a long hanging bridge and lots of other fun stuff.  It was really fun.  We hiked and explored the caves and then had lunch together as a zone:  rice, tilapia, adobo, and little coconut cake things.  Yum!  It was a really fun day.  It’s fun just to hang out and have fun.

The worst part of this week was on Wednesday night.  (Please don't freak out at this story mom....)  Me, Sister Escalante, and Lyka (a branch missionary and the little sister of our BML) were driving back home to our apartment in the kulong-kulong (the motor with a cage).  I was sitting on the back of the motor side saddle style, because I was - of course - wearing a skirt.  We were going pretty fast and the road was kind of dark, when all of a sudden - WHACK! - the right wheel of the kulong-kulong hit a huge rock and jumped into the air, and I went flying with it.  One second I was sitting and the next, I was sliding on my side across the pavement.  It happened so fast I didn't even have time to scream.  I got some pretty good scrapes and bruises on my legs and arm, but nothing bad.  It should have been so much worse!  Lyka felt so bad that she started crying, so I tried to be tough and act like it was nothing so that she wouldn’t feel bad.  I held it together until we got back to the apartment and then I started crying because my body hurt and it was really scary flying off the back of a motorcycle.  Ever since then, I hold on more tightly when we ride and we drive more carefully.  Now, I am fine! 

I love you all so much!  I hope you have a wonderful week and that you are always happy.  You are always in my thoughts and prayers. 

I love you so so so so so so so much. 

xo sister allen

 A carabao taking a bath.

Beautiful Burgos.

At our CSP, we gathered and piled up all this wood for the family to use for cooking their food.  The Philippines have a stove-like terra-cotta thing that they use to cook.  It looks kind of like a toilet.  They put the wood in the bottom and set a pot of rice or whatever on top.  Yeah, kind of like camping.  They also have gas stoves here, but wood is cheaper than gas.  Most people in our area use both (wood and gas) in their house, but if they're really poor they just use wood.

At the CSP, we also swept all around their yard.  It is a very big yard!!

At the CSP.  We helped a member build his house.  It's not finished yet!


The Burgos Zone!  We're small in numbers, but we're powerful.

Hiking through the caves.  We had to crawl through in some places because it was so small!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hello po! 
I am doing well.   I am so happy here!  I am continuing to learn and grow a lot here in Burgos.  I love being a missionary.

On Tuesday we had a special “multi zone zone meeting” where we met President and Sister Hiatt.  I was nervous that I wouldn’t like them….but all my worries are gone.  They are great!  When the meeting started, they stood at the front and everyone went up and shook their hands and talked to them for a second.  They read my name tag, shook my hand (Sister Hiatt also gave me a hug), and asked me where I was from and were kind and friendly.  President Hiatt said that his son used to live in Sugarhouse too!  Small world.  He was a coach before at Westminister College. 

President and sister Hiatt are from a tiny town in the northern part of Idaho.  They have seven kids – three girls and four boys – and they have 17 grandchildren.  Their family is outdoorsy and sporty.  Some of their kids did track and field. Their house is in the mountains in the woods.  It looks like a cozy cabin.  They showed us pictures of their family and of their house and their town. Last year, they returned from serving a couples mission in the Philippines Manila Mission for two years.  They were home for a few months and now, they’re back in the PH again!  They love it here and they are already used to the people and the culture.  They didn’t mention what their jobs were or where they went to college or anything like that.  I do know that President Hiatt was converted to the church when he was eight years old (like dad!).  They didn’t give us a lot of details about themselves, but I’m sure we’ll get to know them more as time goes on.

They each also taught us and shared their testimonies with us.  They talked about how excited they are to do missionary work with us, how much they love us, and how much they love their Savior.  President Hiatt also scolded us a little because a lot of the missionaries were late.  (Me and my companion arrived about 30 minutes early so we weren’t with those that were scolded!  Haha.)  They are fun and loving and they have strong testimonies.  They are very different from President and Sister Rahlf, but a good different.  I think they will be great for this mission.  I am excited to see what new things the Hiatts will bring to this mission.

My companion is doing great. We are starting this week to have her lead in more of the lessons so that she can get a feel for what it's like to lead an area.  She's always striving to be happy and obedient and is diligent in her work.  She's doing wonderful.

The rest of the week was just work work work.  Which is what I’m here for and is what I love!  We taught  our investigator German again this week….and German FINALLY prayed!  He told us that he has started to pray every day.  He also prayed at the end of our lesson.  It was very short, but very nice.  He opened his prayer, said something like, “We’re thankful for this beautiful day.  We thank thee for giving us strength.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”    He didn’t ask for anything, he just gave some simple thanks.  It made me so happy to hear him finally pray!

We also got to teach the Garuella family again this week.  They accepted a baptismal date for August 27th, 2016.  Yay!  They said they really want to be baptized and to be a part of this church, but they have a lot of stuff going on and don’t know if it’s the right time.  We told them that God will help them find a ways to be baptized if they put Him first and do everything they can to be baptized.  I really hope they start coming to church so they can prepare more for their baptism. 

I love you all so much!  I hope you have a great week.  You are always in my thoughts and prayers.  I miss you so much.  I hope you are all finding the joy in life and that you always remember how much your Savior loves you.  He is by your side every day and He is reaching out to you – to lift you, to comfort you, to give you a little push, to guide you back home - always.  Reach back to Him! 


xo Sister Allen

 Me and my anak, Sister Escalante.  I did her hair and makeup. :)
It was so great to see good friends from the past cycles, E. Haacke.

 Me and my sister batch mates, Sis. Montejo and Sis. Kibaimoa.  
It was so good to see them!

 Some cute little boys from our branch. 
 I love the outfit of the one on the right...hehe.

Working with some cute sisters from our branch.

This is what our pathways look like most of the time.
It's very pretty and very green,

Bamnoo!  In Tagalog, "cauayan".
I guess our mission/city here is called Cauayan Mission because there's so much bamboo. 

The landscape surrounding our area.  
Those fields along the back are miles and miles of corn fields.

We went to a birthday party at our recent converts house.
The hanging thing up top is strung with candy and treats.
The little kids all have to jump and try and get the candy.  
It was fun to watch!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Me this morning in my 4th of July outfit!

Hello po! 

This week was a good week.  Just work work work.  Our area is doing well.  On Sunday, our church changed from the afternoon to the morning.  We started at 8:00 am.  It was a great meeting!  So many people bore their testimony.  The chapel was full and the Spirit was filling every inch of the room.  I was so happy because one of our recent converts, Jason, and one of our recently returned less actives both bore their testimonies.  I have borne my testimony to both of them what seems like hundreds of times, and it made me smile to see them sharing theirs with others.  Sharing a testimony is so wonderful.  In sharing it, you strengthen others as they hear you, and as you share your testimony, you strengthen it and strengthen yourself.  Never be afraid of sharing your testimony!  A simple testimony can change lives.

This Thursday, Sister Escalante and I also traveled to Ilagan for her to receive her patriarchal blessing.  It was a special moment for her.  I was so happy that she was able to receive it!  I love my patriarchal blessing and it has been a source of strength and inspiration throughout my life.  It was wonderful to share that special moment with Sister Escalante.

This week, President and Sister Rahlf headed home.  It hurt me to think that they were leaving, but it also gave me hope to have the new president, President and Sister Hiatt, to take their place.  We get to meet them tomorrow!  The Burgos zone and a few other zones will meet in Ilagan for a special meeting with them.  I am so excited to meet them. 

I love being a missionary and I love the Burgos Zone, even though Burgos is basically in the middle of nowhere.  It's just rice fields and cows and carabou - more carabou than people I think.  Although the people are few, they are amazing! 

I love you all so so so much!  I hope you have a wonderful week and that you all are happy.  I miss you and I think of you every day.


xo Sister Allen

My memory card is fixed!  All the pictures are back! YAYAYAYAY!