Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Me, about to get drenched in the rain. :)

Hello po!  

Thank you for your wonderful email!  I'm glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you had a good week.  It looks like you had a lot of fun and did lots of amazing stuff.  You all look so handsome and pretty in your pictures!  

I have had a good week.  I am alive and kicking!  Although this week has been kind of slow.... It was pretty rainy and cold all week and I have a nasty cold again.  But it's all good!  I am still so happy.  :)  Also....Happy Thanksgiving!  I didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving here, but I was sure to count my blessings.  I hope you all did too!  We each have SO MUCH to be thankful for.  We had kind of a slow teaching week as well.  Only about 20 lessons, but still good.  We found a few new people to teach too, which we are excited about.  Two of them even came to church on Sunday, which was great!  Their names are Jeremiah and Maria.  The only problem is, they are kids.  They're both 15 years old, the children of a less active member.  Before anything can happen, their mom has to come back to church again.  We are hopeful and are working hard that she will come with them to church to that someday, they can be baptized.  We're still searching for the "golden" ones.  I'll let you know when we find some!  Hopefully that's soon.

My hair has also started to become a problem.  I don't know if I told you this, but I have LICE.  Yuck!  My companion was playing with my hair and noticed it.  I bought some shampoo that gets rid of lice, so hopefully it goes away.  I think I got it from one of the little kids in our area.  They're always playing with and brushing my hair.  Also, I have been having an unusual amount of hair fall....all of my hair is falling out!  I don't know why.  Will you still love me if I'm bald?

Next week is already transfer week....this cycle has gone by so fast!  I don't know if there will be any transfers, but it's possible that I may transfer.  We'll see!  December is so close, and there's only 27 days until Christmas!  I'm so excited.  Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.  It's also the most wonderful time to serve as a missionary.  Everyone is nicer and more receptive to the gospel.  I love Christmas!  I especially love the church's Christmas campaign this year..... #LIGHTtheWORLD.  If you haven't seen the video, check it out.  Here's the link:

We each were born with a light inside of us.  Each of us has talents and abilities that we can use to make the world a better place.  This Christmas season, we are all invited to do one act of service for 25 days, counting down the days until Christmas.  Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  In honor of Him and His birth, we each can serve Him and share the LIGHT that we have.  We missionaries will be kicking off December with a day of service (CSP's) in our areas.  I hope each of you can find a way every day to share your LIGHT.

I love you all so much!  I miss you all so much.  I hope you have a wonderful week. 

xo Sister Allen

It was my companions, Sister Urdaneta, birthday!  
We decorated her desk.  She is 22!

I made mango graham cake for her birthday.
It was delicious!  I'm so proud of myself haha.
(Taylor Swift sings "I'm feeling 22, everything will be all right 
if we just keep dancing like were twenty-twwwooooo").

It was raining so hard this morning!  Also, lots of fog.
There's a typhoon in the Southern Philippines. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

I'M 21! HOLY COW!  My companion decorated the apartment with these balloons for me. :)  

Hello po! 

I have had an excellent week.  I am now 21!  Ahh!  Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes and all the love.  I was so surprised when I opened my email this morning and saw that I had FORTY emails from my ward, family, friends, and people that I love.  Thank you all so much for your thoughtfulness and kindness.  I felt your love!  I am thankful for each of you.  Thank you so much!  I had a great birthday.  The pday before my birthday, I treated my companion and housemates to lunch.  Birthday celebrations in the PH are backwards....if you have a birthday in the US, everyone treats you.  In the PH, you treat everyone else!  So I celebrated my birthday Filipino style by treating them to lunch at a yummy restaurant in Tuguegarao.  It was fun!  On the morning of my birthday, I woke up to my housemates and companion singing "happy birthday."  They decorated my desk with balloons and a happy birthday sign.  It was cute and simple and perfect.  I also opened my birthday package from home that I had been saving.  I loved it!  Thank you so much.  After that, it was a normal day.  We taught a bunch of lessons in Alimannao and had a good day of hard work.  I didn't want attention, so I didn't tell anyone that we visited that it was my birthday.  I didn't want the focus to be on me.  It was a perfect day.  That night, we bought a yummy dinner of 15-peso fried chicken, rice, and banana cake (Anna banana cake!).  It was yummy and just what I wanted haha.  As soon as we got home for the night and for dinner, it started raining really hard and the power went out, so I ate my birthday dinner by the light of my flashlight.  It sounds like a weird birthday, but it was perfect for me!  It's so crazy to think that I have already spent two birthdays in the PH!  I am excited for this, my 21st year. 

My companion and I are doing well.  I love Sister Urdaneta!  She is one of my favorite companions that I've ever had.  She's so spiritual, obedient, fun, and energetic.  She is a great missionary and we are working well together.  I can already see how good of an influence she has been on the area.  She's amazing! 

It was a good week.  We had almost 30 lessons this week.  This week was very very rainy.  It rained hard for five days straight!  Actually, it is good that it rained so much so that all the green of the plants and trees can grow back again.  Everything was muddy and slippery and all the people were inside their houses for the whole week.  One of the rainy days, we were working and had just come from an appointment on the third story of an apartment building.  The slippery stairs and my slippery rubber shoes were not a good combination.  I slipped pretty hard and fell down one flight of stairs, my bum bumping from one step to another.  Somehow, I landed perfectly on my feet on the last stair.  If I were in the Olympics, I would have got the gold!  When I landed I saw a girl standing there, staring at me, about to come up the stairs.  I blurted out, "hello po," and walked away.  Sister Urdaneta and I have been laughing about it for days.  She calls it, "the Fall of Sister Allen."  After that, my bottom, neck, and arms were pretty sore, but I'm fine! 

Our work is doing okay.  We don't have anyone that is really progressing right now, but we are still searching for those golden investigators that are waiting for us.  We found two really great investigators, Linda and Rozan Cancejo.  Linda is 59, Rozan is Linda's 15 year old niece. They have huge potential and I can see that they really want to attend church.  Right now, they are struggling because they are shy to come to church.  We're looking for a perfect fellowshipper/friend for them.  This week Linda accepted the invitation to be baptized.  I'm excited to see what happens in the coming months. 

On Saturday we had a CSP (Community Service Project) at the house of one of the widows in our ward.  Her house got completely torn apart from the typhoon, so we helped her put it back together.  Even though it rained hard the whole time, we still had a lot of fun and got a lot done.  We moved and organized the new and old wood, swept water out of her house, washed things, and moved metal roofing.  It was hard work, but fun!  I always really enjoy CSP's. 

This coming week is Thanksgiving.  Obviously, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the PH, but I of course will celebrate it!  I hope all of us can take some time this week to count our blessings.  I am so thankful for so many things.  I am so thankful to have served a mission here in the PH.  I am thankful for my eternal family.  I am thankful for the gospel.  I am thankful for being born in such a wonderful place to such good parents.  I am thankful for clean water.  I am thankful for flush toilets.  I am thankful for the simple things in life that make life so great.  I am thankful for email!  I am thankful for my mission president and his wife.  I am thankful for the Grandview 1st ward. I am thankful for each of you.  I am grateful to be a missionary.

I love you all so much!  I hope you all have a fabulous week.

xo Sister Allen

On my bday we taught this group of kids. 
 They are a mix of members and recent converts.  
They are crazy!  But I love them. 

Me and those cute crazy children. 

Me and my cute housemates and comp.  I love them!
We are in our "Mormon Helping Hands" uniform.

The destruction of the house.  No roof!

The church donated wood and yero (metal roofing) for the repair work.

Me, Sister Fukofuka, and Sister Undaneta at the CSP.  
A few of the guys from the Elders Quorum are in the background, fixing the roof.

This is Tatay Chito (yes as in Cheetos) fixing the roof while we were cleaning up inside.  
Kind of dangerous, but the Filipinos don't do it any other way haha.

The group of Elders Quorum, Relief Society, and single adults that helped out at the CSP.  
There was a lot of us, so the work got done fast!

Me at our CSP washing and washing and washing those white trays.  
The Nanay who owns the house has a business selling nata de coco.  
We helped her out by washing and fixing and cleaning her house.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Me and my companion Sister Urdaneta

Hello po!  

I am doing well!  I am happy to be back in Penablanca.  I am in my same area as before, Penablanca B.  We are in the same apartment as before (it didn't get damaged in the typhoon...yay!) and I'm with my same housemates, Sister Fukofuka and Sister Montejo.  But I have a NEW companion, Sister Urdaneta.  She's awesome!  Here some stuff about her:  She's from Mindanao, under the Butuan Philippines Mission.  She is almost 9 months into her mission.  She is the 11th of 14 siblings, three of whom are triplets.  That's a LOT of kids haha.  She is really funny and our personalities mix well.  She is into music and tennis and has a good sense of humor.  She is kind and obedient and I am really excited to spend this cycle with her.  I like her a lot!   

Since being back in Penablanca, I have had an up-close view of the destruction from typhoon Lawin.  It's been almost one month since the storm, but the damage still looks fresh.  When we started working and really getting back to the area, I almost didn't recognize it (which is frustrating because I'm already bad at directions).  It looks so different and all the houses and streets don't look like they used to.  The destruction has really broken my heart, but for different reasons that I expected.  No one that I know of was killed or seriously injured.  Although, most of the trees, vegetation, and crops got ripped apart in the storm.  Vegetable and fruit prices have really gone up.  I don't know how the harvest will be this year, but I'm guessing not good.  That will be hard on the people here, because the people here are mostly farmers.  Most houses have also had some type of damage, from only a window or two shattering to the whole structure collapsing.  I'm sure it's devastating to have your home and livelihood ruined a the same time.  Miraculously, Nanay Valeria (the cute little crazy deaf lady whom I love) survived and her bamboo house didn't get damaged much at all.  I was worried about her!  She's a little hard-headed and refused to evacuate to the chapel during the storm, so it's a miracle that she and her house weren't hurt.  She was so happy to see us when we came back!  She just kept laughing and hugging us with her thin little arms. I'm also grateful, because the members came and checked on her and brought her food and took care of her after the storm.

I still have hope for the people here and I have seen their efforts to overcome the affects of the storm.  The trees are growing new leaves, the people are building new roofs, and everything is moving forward.  I have observed that trials and hardships in life – like this typhoon – do one of two things to you:  they bring out the best in you, or the worst.  Some people have had violent fights over scrap metal, stolen food and things from people just as hungry and needy as they are, and have complained themselves into misery.  And some people have shared what little they had, given all they could, said prayers of gratitude, and humbly hoped for a better tomorrow.  Trials and hardships also make people remember God.  The Sunday after the typhoon, church attendance at the Penablanca ward more than doubled in numbers.  While I’m glad all of those people came to church, a signal number 5 typhoon is not what should have inspired them to go.  We should remember God when the skies are clear and life is calm, not only when we have a problem and need help.  

One of the saddest things that I have seen is how unprepared all of the people were.  These people knew the typhoon season was coming, that they live in a place where typhoons are common, and even had warning that the super typhoon Lawin was on it's way, yet I have not met ONE person (besides missionaries) who had a 72-hour kit or had done any emergency preparedness.  Not one.  How much of the damage and heartache and chaos could have been avoided if everyone had took a little time to prepare?  If you - all of you at home - haven't started doing 72-hour kits or started food storage or haven't done any emergency preparedness, I ask you to please, DO IT.  You never know when you will need it.  The leaders and authorities of the church here in the PH have been pushing that on the members since the storm.  The sad thing is also, that the leaders had already told the members to prepare and to do emergency preparedness, but not many of them listened.  So....listen to your leaders advice, because it applies to you.  Have an emergency plan.  Make a 72-hour kit.  Be prepared. 

As for my companion and I, we have been mostly teaching.  We are being smart so that we can stay safe.  We have visited almost every member in our area, shared with them, and asked them what we can do to help.  We have asked everyone if we can come and help them clean up or rebuild their roof or anything but they always say no.... we're still on the look out.  Our ward is doing good and is supporting each other at this difficult time.  Our Bishop is AMAZING and I am so thankful for his loving service to each member of the ward.  The Philippines Area authorities has donated sheet metal, food supplies, and clothing for those that have been effected by the storm, which has been a blessing.  Bishop has been carefully distributing that to the members in our ward who are most in need.  Everyone is being helped and loved.  Many other government agencies, other religious groups, and humanitarian groups have been helping and offering supplies and relief aid.  I see trucks and cars drive by often with signs saying, "relief goods" or "Lawin relief."  People have generously been giving and helping the people here, and everyone is being taken care of.  I am so touched to see people give generously to a people I have grown to love so much.  

Please pray for the people in Penablanca.  They need our love and prayers.

I love you all so much.  I pray for you every day.  I miss you all so much.

mahal ko kayo mula sa buwan pabalik
(i love you to the moon and back)

xo Sister Allen

The town sports center in a part of our area, Larion.  It got completely destroyed.  

It's crazy how wind can bend metal like that.

Me and Sis. Urdaneta bought balut as a surprise for Sis. Fukofuka.  
You can tell by her face that she was really surprised haha!

Our reactions after opening the balut. :)

My face says it all!...balut is not pretty.  Haha.

Balut balut balut. 

Yum!  Balut is actually pretty tasty. 

...but it looks disgusting! 
(Balut is a developing bird embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell.) 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

In Santiago with missionaries from the Santiago North and South, Solano, Bayombong and Alicia Zones for the mission conference with Elder and Sister Schmutz. 

Hello po! 

This week has been a crazy week, but a good week.  I am doing great.  Elder Schmutz a General Authority Seventy visited our mission.  I loved our mission tour and I loved hearing messages from President Hiatt and Sister Hiatt and Elder and Sister Schmutz.  It was a spiritual and inspired meeting. It made me want to do better and to be better. I think Satan knows that if he stops the missionaries from doing the best that they can, and stops the Spirit from touching the hearts of the missionaries, he could stop people from coming to Christ and could stop the growth of the true church.  I think he really hates each one of us and is doing the best that he can to stop us.  I also know that Jesus Christ loves each one of us and is doing the best that He can to help us.  We each just have to make a choice:  will I give in to temptation or will I follow the Savior?

I am back in Penablanca.  Finally!  Penablanca is back is business!   I am excited to get back to the members and investigators that we left here.  We have power and our apartment is fine, so we're back here and ready to work.  My new companion is Sister Urdaneta from Mindanao Philippines.  I only met her today, but I like her already.  I think we will make a good companionship. She's nice.  I am so happy to be here!  I am excited and feel a desire to help the people here;  help them with clean-up and such from the storm (like doing CSP's) and also help them to soften their hearts and come unto Christ.  I think that people might be more excited and receptive to missionaries in Tuguegarao now, because missionaries haven't been there for a while.  Even this p-day while walking and buying groceries, several strangers asked me if the missionaries were back in Tuguegarao.  I was happy to say, "Yes! We're back!"  I am excited to get back to work here. 

Please please please don't be mad, but I don't have time to write a good letter today.   Just know that I love you so much and that I think of you always. 


xo Sister Allen

Emergency transfer day.  Happy day! We got to go back to the areas that had been closed from the typhoon. 

Rice is nice.

We got lost and had to walk through the rice fields. Haha!

I saw my anak! :)

Me and Sister Barranco.  She's still in Bayombong.

Cute baby!

Me and some cute sisters from Kiribati at the mission tour.