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. :)
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.