Monday, October 31, 2016

Hello po! 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Here in the PH, Halloween is celebrated very differently.  Instead, they celebrate Semana Santa.  It's like Day of the Dead.  They just go and visit their dead ancestors at the cemetery and there's no school.  I'm not sure they do much else.  We even had a service project this week at the cemetery in preparation for Semana Santa.  We cleaned up some graves and the grounds.  Fun fact:  most cemeteries and grave-sites in the PH are the above ground kind, not the buried kind.  The cemetery looks like a little city of grave houses and towers.

This week was transfer week, but because of the chaos of the storm and the missionaries being all scattered through the mission, very few transfers actually happened.  I am still with my companion, Sister Barranco and I am still here in our "temporary" area in Bayombong.  I love it here!  This is the "cold" part of the mission, and I actually have felt a bit chilly during the nights and mornings here.  It's much cooler weather than in Tuguegarao.  There are two other sisters assigned here in Bayombong, Sister Wiiri from Kiribati and Sister Ruyeras from Samar (under PH Tacloban Mission, like my anak!).  They are usually the only missionaries in the Bayombong branch, but now that we're here, there's four of us.  At the start of this week, we split their proselyting area into two;  we work in one half and they work in the other.  The half they gave us is a part of their area that they haven't spent a lot of time in, which brings adventure for us.  We inherited a few investigators from the other sisters, but other than that, we were on our own!  It was all so adventurous and exciting.  We have spent a lot of time this week tracking down less active members in our new area.  I have met so many new people, it makes my head spin!  It has been so fun to explore our new area.  Every day is an adventure.  (Note:  There were missionaries assigned in our area before, so it's not like we're the very first missionaries to open the area.  We're just reopening it.)  

We haven't heard much news about our area in Penablanca.  No word on how the people or the ward is doing.  I pray for them everyday to feel God's love at this trying time.  I pray that they will have the strength to get back on their feet again.  We have heard that power has come back in parts of Tuguegarao City and Ilagan, so hopefully it won't be long until the power is also repaired in Penablanca.  I want missionaries to get back there as soon as we can so that we can help all the people that need it.  President Hiatt will let us know next week what will happen there.  I have no idea what will happen.  I don't know if we'll just go back to Penablanca, or if one of us will stay in Bayombong, or what... it's all so complicated and makes my head hurt!  We'll just see what happens.  

This week was good.  I won't give you a play by play of every day because every day was the same.....we explored!  We walked and walked and talked and talked to everyone that we saw.  Each day, we made a list of less actives or investigators that we were going to find that day and we just went around, asking everyone, "do you know so-and-so?"  until we found them, and then we taught them.  It was fun!  Every day was an adventure day. 

I just wanted to share a part of this talk that I listened to this week by Elder Holland.  It's from a talk given at the Provo MTC in 2000.  I wish you could hear him give the talk because his voice has so much emotion and power, but the written talk is just as good.  Here it is:

"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.  It will only be a token, but I believe it has to be paid.

For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,”  then little wonder that salvation is not an easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot better asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.

When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Salvation is not a cheap experience.  It takes something from the soul.  Missionary work also takes something from the soul.  It is so hard, but that's the way it has to be.  It is so hard, but it is so wonderful.  It is so hard, but I love it so much.  It is so hard, but it's the best thing I've ever done.  It is so amazing!  

I love you all so much.  You are always in my prayers.  I hope you have a wonderful week and that you each will share some love to someone else this week.  


xo Sister Allen

Sorry there are no pictures.  I'm in a kind of sketchy internet shop and I'm scared to plug my camera into the computer.  I don't want all my pictures to get deleted again!  We'll do our emails in a better internet shop next week so that I can send you some pictures.  :)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Happy birthday dear mama!  
I hope you had a wonderful birthday and felt my love for you across the miles. 

Amid the chaos of the storm, I managed to find a doughnut and a candle to sing "happy birthday" and make a wish for you.

Hello po! 

This week has been a crazy week.  Even though this week was a little hard, I did my best to keep my spirits up and be positive and calm.  Times like these - times that are a little bit trying - are the times that we grow the most.  Even with the devastation from the storm, I think that this will be a time of growth and progression.  I am looking forward to growing and progressing in my new, temporary area, Bayombong.  I want to do what the Lord wants me to do.  I want to always follow His will.  It's been a trying week, but it's also been a huge blessing.  The typhoon Lawin ripped through the north part of the Philippines, but we are doing okay.  (The typhoon has a different name in the US I think?) Some of our areas are pretty damaged, but the storm has passed and we are picking ourselves back up off the ground.  What's important is that we are safe and that we are well.  Heavenly Father protects his missionaries! 

I'll start from the beginning....

On Tuesday, we were happily gathered in our district meeting, just like any other Tuesday.  The weather was so calm....but it was an eerie calm.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and there wasn't any wind.  Everything was just still.  While in the meeting, we got a text from our leaders telling us that the storm was coming and that we needed to get out of our areas as soon as possible.  They told us to grab our 72 hour kits and enough supplies for a few days and to get to the mission home as soon as possible.  Our district meeting was cut short;  we went home as fast as we could and scrambled to get our things packed.  My hands were shaking as I packed up a few supplies and a few things that I didn't want to lose.  In that moment, I was so scared.  I didn't know what was going to happen.  I felt afraid and lost.  I prayed in my heart to Heavenly Father to help me feel calm and happy, no matter what would happen.  I also prayed that we would be safe and that angels would protect us. 

After a few moments of rushed packing, we headed to the bus station and took a three hour bus ride straight to Cauayan.  We left at about 3:30pm and got to the mission home at about 7:00pm.  From there, we were assigned to stay in a safe apartment close to the mission home in San Mateo.  The apartment there was safe and nice, and the two sisters, Sister Baker and Sister Cumpio were nice too.  We had a dinner of 72 hour kit canned tuna and went to bed.  I didn't sleep well that night. 

On Wednesday, the rain started.  We woke up and went about our regular schedule - preparation, studies, and such.  Then, because we hadn't been on lock-down yet, we went out to work with the San Mateo sisters!  I felt like an insane person, going out into the storm.  We taught only a few lessons when the leaders texted us to get back to our houses.  "You are now on lock-down."  As the rain and the wind whipped through the mission, we were safely tucked into our house.  To pass the time while being on lock-down, I read books and church magazines.  We went to bed right as the power went out.  I didn't sleep well that night either.  The wind and rain was loud and I just laid awake worrying about what would happen.  But nothing really happened where we were staying.  We were very safe in the San Mateo house.

On Thursday, we were on lock-down until the early afternoon.  Still no power.  Our leaders told us that we could go out and work for a few hours, but that we had to be back at the house by dark, which is about 6:00pm.  We taught a few lessons that afternoon.  There wasn't much damage in San Mateo.  The rain and the wind had stopped and it was only a little cloudy.  We bought a yummy, non-canned food dinner, and got back to the house at dark.  We got home right after the power came back and went to bed. 

On Friday morning, our leaders told us to get to Cauayan again.  President Hiatt told us that we would not be going back to our areas in Tuguegarao, but that there was too much damage for us to go back there permanently.  He told us that we would go to our apartments, grab everything, and then head to a new, temporary area.  We rode with President and Sister Hiatt all day and got all of our things packed up.  That took all day!  It was very tiring.  We were very grateful that nothing too bad happened to our apartment.  Some water seeped in a little under the doors but that’s all.  There were other missionary apartments in Tuguegarao that got the roof torn off and stuff…but nothing happened to ours.  Yay!  Everything was safe and sound.

The hardest part of Friday was seeing the devastation.  In Cauayan, the storm seemed like nothing, but the typhoon was much stronger in the northern part of the mission.  I didn't recognize our area when we got back to it.  Everything was brown, broken, and sad.  All the trees and the beautiful green of Penablanca was stripped away.  The people there already have so little, and what little they had was destroyed.  It broke my heart.  The power lines are so damaged there, they said there won't be power there for a long time.  I am not sure what a "long time" means.  Because of typhoon Lawin, three zones have been temporarily closed:  Tuguegarao South, Tuguegarao North, and Ilagan.  I'm not sure how long they will be closed.  Hopefully everything can be put back together again before too long.  I pray every day for those we left in Penablanca, that they will be safe and that they will be able to feel Heavenly Father's love despite the destruction from the storm.  The bad thing is, because we left, we don’t really know what happened to the members and investigators there.  We asked the bishop of our ward to check them and Nanay Valeria, and he promised he will.  I’ll let you know if I find anything out next week.  I hope they are okay!

On Saturday, we headed to our new, temporary area - Bayombong in the Solano zone.  I have always wanted to be assigned in Solano!  Although I miss Penablanca, I am happy to be here. We have to awesome housemates, Sister Ruyeras and Sister Wiiri.  They are so fun and welcoming.  We feel right at home with them.  

On Sunday, we had our first "normal day" in five days.  I was so so so tired.  My eyelids were all droopy during church and for the rest of the day.  All the traveling, worrying, packing, and sleepless nights left me wiped.  It felt so wonderful to arrive in Bayombong and to feel like we have a home and a place to be and live and work.  My companion and I felt kind of homeless and like refugees for a few days.  We are happy to have a place now.  My companion and I are excited to open up an area here in Bayombong and start working hard.  We miss our old area, but we know that Heavenly Father will watch over it while we are gone.  My companion and I are doing well together and I know we will do a great job together working in this new area here, even if it may only be for a short time. I am so thankful for all of your prayers for me and the other missionaries here that were affected by the storm.  Thank you for loving us and helping us.  I am thankful that we are safe and that Heavenly Father protected us.  I am happy to be a missionary!  Even though things are sometimes hard, I am so happy to be here, serving my Savior. 

Experiencing the storm reminded me of a talk by President Uchtdorf last April about the destruction from WWII.  It's titled, "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home." Here is a part of his talk:

"If man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost?

It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.

The joyous news of the gospel is this: because of the eternal plan of happiness provided by our loving Heavenly Father and through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, we can not only be redeemed from our fallen state and restored to purity, but we can also transcend mortal imagination and become heirs of eternal life and partakers of God’s indescribable glory."

I am grateful that broken things can be fixed and made whole again.  I am glad that whatever storms may come into our lives, there is always a chance for us to become new.  Through the Savior, broken things become whole and hearts are healed, no matter how badly they were destroyed before. 

I love you all so much!  You are always in my thoughts and prayers. 

xo Sister Allen

Our district meeting before we were evacuated from our areas...
we look happy but we were very stressed and worried. 

Thank goodness for my 72 hour kit!  If you don't have one, get one!  I never thought I'd have to use mine, but I did.  This is my proselytize bag, my 72 hour kit, and an extra backpack with some extra clothes and toiletries.  

This is where we stayed after the evacuation and during the storm.  I slept on the mattress and my companion slept on the couch.  We were there for four days.  Of course, I couldn't leave Monkey!  I would be so sad if he was destroyed or lost in the storm.  No one has ever commented about Monkey.  Hahaha.  Usually I hide him under my pillow. :)

Our district before we all got split up...we were all temporarily reassigned to different parts of the mission because of the destruction from the storm.

Some of the rice fields after the storm.  They got flattened!  The rice farmers will have a really hard time harvesting, which is really sad.  This was in San Mateo (San Mateo is in Cauayan and is where we evacuated to and stayed when the storm hit).

This is the road to Tugugareo....good thing there's another route!  The power lines are all messed up, and up the road a little, the road is covered with water.  All of the pictures of destruction are from our area in Penablanca and Tuguegarao.

The river flooded so much it looked like a lake.  It almost reached the road where we were driving. 

This is outside of the apartment after the storm.  All the trees and leaves are almost gone.

This is the same view, outside of my apartment a few weeks ago, before the storm.  

It looks like fall in Tuguegarao!  There's no more of the pretty green.

Some destruction from the storm in our area.  

Many houses got torn apart.  There was metal and wood everywhere.

The Filipinos started cleaning up the storm really fast.  They had already piled a lot of the wood and debris into huge piles in front of their houses.  

Damage and debris.

Lots of metal and wood...debris from the storm. 

Some flooding from the rain.  Luckily flooding wasn't a huge problem.  It only flooded a little. 

Some army dudes helping out after the storm. 

Us, after being in the car for the whole day driving to Tuguegarao and back.  We went back to our apartment, speed packed all our belongings, and left again.  Yep! That's me and my stuff!  Alive and well and none of my stuff ruined. :)

This is my new area where my companion and I have been temporarily reassigned - Bayombong in Solano zone.  It's beautiful!  It's up in the mountains. 

Me and my cute Nanay, Sister Maroket!  I haven't seen her since I finished my training, but I got to see her because of my reassignment.  I was so happy to see her!  She goes home this Wednesday.  

These are the sisters in our new district in Solano.  They were all kind and welcoming to us. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Me and Sister Fukofuka!  We were matching.  She always has her hair in this cute braid-bun style, and I wanted to try it too.  I did it myself! I kind of felt like I was getting ready for Molly Mouse, but I liked it. :)

Hello po!

I am doing very well.  I love being a missionary and I love being in the Philippines.  People always ask me (after overcoming their shock at the fact that I can speak Tagalog) how long I have been here in the PH.  It freaks me out to say, "more than a year."  Ahhh!  It doesn't feel like that long, but at the same time it feels like I have been here for forever.  People always ask me why I am so good at speaking in Tagalog, and I have convinced a lot of people that it's because I was born and raised in Manila, PH.  It's funny how many people have believed me.  I guess I am starting to sound like a native.  Yes!  The gift of tongues is amazing.  

To answer some questions:  The photo of our house looked one story but it is actually two.  Our house is on the side of a hill.  (Like how Brenda's house looks like one story but it's actually two.)  We're on the top.  We are pretty close to the river, but far enough away that I don't think it will be a problem with the typhoon.  No, I haven't seen the ocean here.  I have no idea if we're even really close to the ocean!  We are in a valley, the Cagayan Valley, so it looks kind of bowl-like, just like Salt Lake City.  All I've seen so far is mountains and rivers. 

This week was a good week of hard work.  We taught 35 lessons.  We worked and worked and worked until we felt like we were going to drop, and then we worked some more.  My companion is great!  She is very capable and goal oriented.  When she makes a goal, she always makes a plan to achieve it, acts on that plan, and most of the time she achieves her goals.  It's very inspiring!  A mission is really the best thing ever.  It's fun and amazing and exhausting and hard.  It's the happiest that I have ever been!  

The weather has been a bit crazy this week.  It was very very rainy this week because of the typhoon, but there wasn't too much wind which was good.  A months worth of rain fell in 24 hours! Of course, the typhoon's got nothing on us!  We still worked in the rain and I only fell in the mud twice.  Haha.  On the bright side, the temperature has been very cool.  For once, I'm not sweating to death and I actually have been using a blanket when I sleep (usually I don't use one because it's too hot).  There is a bigger typhoon coming this week, and we have prepared well.  We have 72 hour kits and supplies and such, and I think we are set to be safe when the typhoon hits. We've had multiple warnings about it.  The mission office said that Tuguegarao will be the most affected area.  I have lots of stuff in my 72 hour kit!  Flashlights, candles, waterproof matches, a rain coat/poncho, all kinds of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.), dried fruit, snacks, canned beans, a bunch of other kind of canned food, extra clothes,  etc etc.  We also have a ton of water saved at the house.  I think I am pretty set if anything bad should happen.  We will just be at the house during the storm.  The weather people send out mass texts to the phone companies and they send it to everyone who has a cellphone, so people are kind of aware.  We are instructed to keep our phone fully charged so that we can always have contact with the mission office.  We report to our district leaders, then they report to zone leaders, then zone leaders to assistants, then assistants to Pres. Hiatt.  If there is a real emergency, of course directly to the office or President Hiatt. Our house is safe as far as I know, but if they (mission pres etc) think it isn't safe enough, they'll move us to a safer missionary apartment in a neighboring area. Hopefully it won't get to that point!  But if it does, we are prepared. Honestly, you all probably have more information about the typhoon than we do.  We don't have TV, radio, or news at all.  We just have the mission office, which does a pretty good job at informing us about what we need to know.  I hope that we will all be safe this week! Scary!!

This coming week, we were supposed to have a mission tour with Elder and Sister Schmutz (Elder Schmutz spoke in the last general conference) but because of the super typhoon, it has been postponed.  Darn.  Elder and Sister Schmutz would have toured the mission and taught us in groups, just like the mission tour with Elder Schwitzer last year.  Hopefully it will get rescheduled for the coming weeks!  

Here is what I was up to this week:

On Tuesday we had our monthly zone meeting!  It was okay.  There was a lot of announcements and a lot of questions from the missionaries and the meeting ended up lasting four long hours.  To be totally honest, it was mostly boring.  We also had some instruction/lesson from the zone leaders and the sister training leaders, which was good and not boring. :)  They taught about the importance and skills of setting baptismal dates.  I learned a lot!  Because of that, Sister Barranco and I were inspired to invite more people to be baptized.  Inviting someone to be baptized is sometimes really scary, because you don't know what the investigator's reaction will be.  Inviting someone to be baptized is a leap of faith.  As missionaries, were are instructed to extend the baptismal invitation in the very first lesson.  Some people might think that's crazy....why would anyone want to be baptized after meeting with the missionaries for only a few minutes?  It does sound crazy, and sometimes I feel crazy when I do it.  But all the fear and the doubt and the feelings of "what am I doing?!" melts away when we hear:  "Yes."  So many people say yes the first time we invite them to be baptized in the first lesson, and it's amazing!  It doesn't mean that every single one of them will actually get baptized, but they accept the invitation.  This week Sister Barranco and I extended so many baptismal dates and seven amazing people said that magical word, "yes."  

On Tuesday I also received my "torch letter" which gave me a heart attack.  My return date is March 1, 2017. A torch letter is the letter from the mission office asking for information about your return home with a message from the mission president and wife that's usally something like, "Stay strong!  Sprint to the end of the finish line!"  And stuff like that.  It freaked me out.  

On Wednesday we worked in Larion.  We had a lot of great lessons!  One bad thing that happened....Sheila's brother is still stalking us and calling us nonstop.  But, it's okay.  We're avoiding him!  

On Thursday we taught  in Camasi and Alimannao.  It was good.  That's all we did. :)

On Friday we taught in Camasi again.  We got kind of punted, but we still were able to teach many lessons.  We taught members and recent converts.  It was good.

On Saturday we worked again in Larion.  One of the ward missionaries, Krizel, worked with us, which was fun.  She's 18 years old and wants to go on a mission.  

On Sunday we didn't have any investigators at church.  Noooooo!  Not again!  But it's okay, we will work out for them to come next week.  We barely had half the ward there!  It was raining pretty hard, so a lot of people didn't come.  Filipinos are scared of getting wet from the rain haha.  Usually if it rains, not many people go outside.  We didn't have a coordination meeting, partly because our Bishop couldn't come (his daughter is in the hospital with dengue), and partly because of the heavy rainfall.  But on Saturday afternoon, we had a meeting with our ward mission leader.  We planned for some upcoming activities and brainstormed what we can do to get the ward into missionary work.  

We worked after church in Alimannao with two of our ward missionaries, Sister Syria and Brother Jo.  We taught some less actives in that area.  It actually was perfect because one of the LA's is Syria's classmate.  It's always important to help investigators, recent converts, and less actives to make connections with people - friendships - with people from the ward so that they can feel welcome.  We had good lessons and Syria and Jo both shared beautiful testimonies. 

So that was my week.  Even though it was a gloomy-weathered week, we were still happy and hard working.  Sometimes the world seems dark and gloomy - kind of like our rainy week - but the sun is always shining, even if you can't see it or feel it.  Christ is always there, even if you can't see Him or feel Him.  If your life ever seems dark, just remember: “With Christ, darkness cannot succeed. Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ.”  —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf  

I love you all so much!  I hope you have a wonderful week.   You are always in my prayers and thoughts.  I hope all of you always remember how special each of you are. 

mahal ko kayo

xo Sister Allen

This is Nanay Valeria.  She is the old lady that we teach by yelling in her right ear.  She's kind of a crazy old lady, but we love her.  She is very lonely and in need of much love.  I told her that we were going to take a selfie and she said, "what!?"  Haha.  I just told her to smile.

This is Nanay Valeria's house.  This is called a "bahay kubo."  Everything is made bamboo and leaves and wood except for the roof.  It has been modernized a bit and has electricity.  It's so cute and native looking.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

 At general conference with the cute sisters of Tueguegarao North and South Zones.

Hello po!  

I am doing well!  I am loving it here and am loving living the life of a missionary.  I have been so happy this week.  I am enjoying the work, which doesn't really feel like work at all.  We were able to teach almost 40 lessons this week, which was good.   We have been struggling with members attending our lessons, even though we have many members in our ward.  That is something we are trying to improve.  Usually, only the youth and YSA want to work with us, which is good, but it would also be nice to have some Relief Society sisters and some of the Elders Quorum work with us as well.   That is one of our goals!  We have many good investigators with potential.  Like I said before, right now is a planting time, not a harvesting time.  But that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing!  Planting and harvesting are equally important.  I am the happiest missionary planter on the planet.  My speed walking skills have improved and Sister Barranco and I are hastening the work here in Penablanca.  

To answer some of your questions:

Yes, I do get 8 hours of sleep every night.  It's actually part of the mission rules!  We go to bed at 10:30 pm every night and wake up at 6:30 am every morning.  I have thought multiple times since I've been on my mission that maybe part of the reason why I am so happy all the time is because I am getting good sleep every day.  Good sleep really makes a big difference!  

I email you from a little quiet, internet shop across from the McDonald's in Tuguegarao City.  It's air conditioned (hallelujah!).  We travel from Penablanca to the center of Tuguegarao city for our p-day every Monday.  So that's where I am right now! 

The highlight of my week was watching the Rebroadcast of General Conference.  I LOVED it.  I felt so inspired and uplifted, so peaceful and content.  I have learned to love general conference here on my mission.  I noticed a theme of missionary work in the conference, and I think all are pushing to have "every member a missionary." Which is wonderful!  From magnifying callings, to serving a mission, to home teaching and visiting teaching, from simply sharing your testimony - it's all missionary work.  I hope that every one takes the call to be a missionary to heart. 

I think my favorite talk from all of conference is still "Fourth Floor, Last Door" by President Uchtdorf from the General Women's Session.  But all the talks made me feel the Spirit and I loved each and every one.  One of my favorite talks from this weekend was by President Russell M. Nelson.  He spoke about one of my favorite things...JOY.  I liked what he said:  "Missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world!"  That's true.  He also said, "Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives."  That's also true.  I have never been as happy and joyful as I have been on my mission, and I know that I am that way because I am focusing my life on my Savior, who is joy.  

I also really enjoyed President Uchtdorf's other talk on Saturday morning.  I liked what he asked:  "What shall we give in return for so much?"  I have been so blessed in my life.  I am blessed with a loving family and loving parents.  I am blessed to have been born in such a beautiful and safe place.  I am so blessed to have so much.  I am blessed with the sure knowledge that I am a daughter of God and that He has a perfect plan for me.  I am so blessed to be a missionary.  I don't know how I can ever give enough in return for all the blessings that I have, but I will try.  I will try to give.  I will always serve my best and I will always be a missionary.  I will give my love and my strength and my time to the One who gave me all.  I am so grateful for General Conference and for the words of our living prophet and apostles and for the inspiring weekend that I had.  If you haven't watched or read general conference yet, watch it or read it!  It's amazing and I'm sure something will inspire you to do a little more to be a little better. 

Here's what I did the rest of my week:

Tuesday we had District Meeting and then went out and taught - of course!  We taught a lesson with Cindy and Janna, and we were able to talk with their mom and build her trust a little.  Our relationship is improving with her and she has been kind and welcoming to us, unlike before.  Her heart is beginning to soften.  One of our goals for the next few weeks is to teach a lesson with Cindy, Janna, their mom, and their dad.  We are really trying to focus on families. 

On Wednesday we taught in part of our area, Larion.  It was a good day.  That night we had dinner with the Ringor family, a family in our ward.  They are so awesome!  They are a little outspoken and kind of loud, but I love that about them.  It was fun to spend time with them and become close to them.

On Thursday we taught and taught and taught and that's all. :)

On Friday we also taught and taught and taught.  We worked again in Larion.  We taught our investigator, Sheila.  She is a young mother of three and is very intelligent and is starting to progress.  She is reading the BOM, and praying, so our next step is to get her to church.  We usually send out a mass text on Saturday night to all those that we are teaching to remind them about church on Saturday morning, but Sheila doesn't have a phone.  Her brother offered his phone number to us so that we could remind her, for which we were grateful.  But then the situation got weird when Sheila's brother texted us and called and told us and said, "sister, I'm in love with you".....we're not sure what to do about that!  Hahaha.  I keep telling Sister Barranco that she's the one he's in love with, and she keeps telling me that it's me.  He hasn't specified who yet.  We haven't gone back to Sheila's house yet because we haven't had time.  I don't want to go back because of the weird boy, but we have to go back for Sheila so....we'll see what happens.  Haha.

On Saturday and Sunday we spent most of the day watching General Conference.  Even though all you do in conference is sit and listen, it made me so tired!  Haha.  I had NO energy after each session, but I just stuck it out and we still worked hard (of course!).

I love you all so much!  I am so proud to be your daughter/sister/friend.  You are always in my prayers and in my thoughts.  I love you so much and I miss you every day.  I hope you each have a wonderful week filled with JOY.  

M A H A L  K O  K A Y O!   

xo Sister Allen

This is the main market in our area.  It's called the "palengke."
We usually don't shop here, because there's not many goods, 
but sometimes we buy fried chicken.

This is a kalesa! I still haven't ridden in one yet...

They're waiting in front of the elementary school to pick up some of the kids.

This is the road in front of our apartment.  Green and dusty.

This is our apartment!  We're caged in pretty good. 
 The white gate in the center is the entrance.  Home sweet home.

This is a view from the side of our house.  This is where the big gravel
trucks go back and forth from the river, which is quite noisy and dirty!
But the mountains are pretty!

Some cute little boys walking to school.  Here in the PH, you go
to school in the morning, then go home to eat lunch for about an hour, 
then come back.  I guess they're coming back from lunch.  

This is a typical house here in the PH. 
Most of the houses are cement with a metal/tin roof.

There's always clothes drying outside of every house.

Laundry...and ice 4 sale.  (Which we never buy because it's unsafe to drink.)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Family Week Celebration!

Hello po!

I am doing good.  I am loving my area here in Penablanca!  The people are so welcoming and they are so kind.  I am enjoying the work here.  This week we had our exchanges with the sister training leaders, Sister Balaoing and Sister Songcuan.  They are wonderful and I love working with them.  Working with them feels natural and we work well together.

Me and my companion are doing great!  Sister Barranco is awesome.  She's a good companion.  Here are some things I love about her:  she never complains, she is a hard worker, she is very smart, and she walks fast (she should be an Olympic speed-walker). We walk a lot in our area, and we ride a lot of tricies in our area.  We're always go go go!  It's a lot of fun, it's a lot of work, and it makes me so tired but I LOVE it.  Nothing makes me happier.

Our ward is doing good.  It is a great ward.  It's not a perfect ward, but it is a great one.  Our bishop, Bishop Tumaliuan is amazing!  He is a firefighter.  Like he said to us, he's a "full time bishop and a part time fireman."  I liked that.  He magnifies his calling each and every day.  He is a great support to us missionaries and to the ward.  He is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my entire life.  The ward here in Penablanca is in good hands with him.  Our ward is divided among two sets of missionaries, so only about half of the members live in our area.  Even though we are split in two, we still spend time with all the members and have dinner appointments with them throughout the week.  Usually we eat lunch at home and we have dinner with the members.  They are nice and welcoming.  I haven't had to play the piano yet at church.  They already have several pianists.  For my laundry, me and my companion pay a nice lady in our ward to wash our clothes once a week.  I still wash my garments myself in a bucket.  Our apartment has a nice bathroom with a shower head, so I don't have to shower with a bucket anymore.  Yay!  

I want to tell you about my two housemates, Sister Montejo and Sister Fukofuka.  Sister Montejo is my batch!  We came to the mission together.  She is a Filipina.  She is a great missionary, is very clean, and is very smart.  She's an engineer.  I really like her a lot.  We were already close before because we were zone-mates in Cauayan (my first area), so I know her pretty well.  Sister Montejo is training Sister Fukofuka.  Sister Fukofuka is from Tonga, but she spent most of her life in New Zealand. (It took me forever to figure out her name and I still feel like I'm swearing every time I say it haha).  She is brand new in the mission....only three weeks old!  Even though she's new, she is already amazing.  She is so prepared for her mission.  She was supposed to go to the Oakland California Mission, but she had to get reassigned because she couldn't get a visa to go to the US.  She is in the process of learning Tagalog, which I help her with.  I always try and talk to her in English too, because I don't want her to get lonely.  I was the only English-speaker in my first apartment, and I got kind of lonely because I couldn't really talk to anyone.  But - I am making sure that will not happen to Sister Fukofuka.  I really love her!  She's hilarious.  I love all my house mates and my companion.  We have a happy house! 

By the way....the typhoon didn't come by us at all.  Not even a single rain drop.  It's been pretty calm weather lately.  Just hot, as usual! My new area is the hottest place in the that's kind of rough hahaha but it's been rainy lately so it's all good.  I like it here! 

We also got to watch the General Women's Conference broadcast.  I loved it so much!  I especially loved the talk by President Uchtdorf.  If you haven't had a chance to watch or listen yet, I highly suggest it.  I want to be a "fourth floor, last door" missionary like the missionaries President Uchtdorf talked about. 
I love you all so much and miss you all so much.

xo Sister Allen

Me and my sisters!

Celebrating a birthday with the members.

Me, Sister Barranco, and a ward missionary, Krizel.

Me and a member at Family Week celebration.

Some of the ward members.

Our ward banner.  Go Penablanca!  
We looked like prisoners in our orange. 

Me and Sister Rochel and Brother PJ.  
PJ just sent his mission papers in and Rochel will send hers in soon. 

A traditional Filipino dance.

At women's conference.