Monday, July 1, 2013

Texas: Week 9

So I have quite a bit to talk about and I already used quite a bit of my time reading emails because the library's printer doesnt have ink: dumb. This week was guaranteed the hardest of my life. I have been progressively feeling worse and worse as my mission went on and each week we continually found but lost. It was harder than I could understand before actually experiencing it. I tried so hard to remind myself that a successful missionary is measured by their commitment, but that made me feel worse at times. I tried to push the feelings down and pretend to be happy, but as time was progressing it seemed to press down on me and close me in. I broke down to a point where I couldnt pick myself back up. I wasnt feeling any amount of happiness and a new understanding of depression seemed to be my outcome. It was horrible. I cant properly describe to you the abounding amount of sadness that I felt because it is not properly communicated with words. I dont know why it hit me so hard honestly, because I have been focusing on others and I want this so bad for them. I want them to experience the joy of having eternal families and knowing that they will see their loved ones again. I wanted it all for them and I didnt know how to help them understand that. I didnt know how to use the scriptures as effectively as I felt I should know and I just wanted to quit. I felt like if Heavenly Father took me now then I would be ok. My family would never know that I was too weak or that I had failed. If He wanted me now I was willing to go if something happened. I felt like any other missionary would do a better job than I have been doing. I dont tell you this so that you can feel sorry for me or that you can feel like something you say would take away that burden: I tell you so that you can understand the profound lesson that I have learned from my Heavenly Father. I felt this way for all of Saturday and most of Sunday. I couldnt bring myself to smile at church and pretend that I was ok because I knew that if I showed any emotion I would cry (Mom stop thinking about how dramatic I am and just listen because I know). This was the beginning of my first lesson because for the first time in my life I could feel the healing power of church. As Sacrament meeting progressed and the talks were giving I could feel myself being healed. I could literally feel myself growing spiritually closer to Christ. It was an amazing experience that I wish I could properly convey, but these weak words will have to do. I slowly got better as Gospel Principles and Relief Society went on, but I still wasnt fully better. I could feel that my depression was just under the surface and if I dwelt on it too long then it would come back. I went through the day like I had all the others, waiting until we got a break so that I could take a nap and forget about how I was feeling and doing in the mission. We finally got a break and I tried to sleep but it never fully came. I seemed to unconsciously think about everything and everyone that we had met and I had failed. I thought about Roy, and Amy. I thought about all the ones that for some reason or another had not accepted it and I thought that I had been here to help them. I could feel it. I was sent here to change their lives and I didnt. They dont have the fullness of the gospel. I read my scriptures and tried to chase away the demons, but the happiness that I had once felt about missionary work seemed to elude me. Right before that FANTASTIC missionary broadcast, the Relief Society president was telling me how her daughter was having a super hard time in the MTC one time and she was told by her teacher to take an hour to pray and only tell Heavenly Father what she was thankful for; nothing else. Dont ask Him for things, just say what you are thankful for. She did and she said that the sadness she felt was gone the next day. I thought I should do the same. I had exhausted all my other options, including pleading for the Atonement to help me overcome this. My faith was lacking, but as I prayed for that time and thought of all that He had blessed me with and all that He has given my family, my friends, and my investigators: I could feel the difference. I could feel a slight change in me. The entire night I thought about what I have learned so far on my mission and how far I have come (that was actually what I had dreamed about). I thought about what I know and that is He is proud of me: I can feel that. He loves me: I know that. This morning I woke up feeling like my personal study should be spent reading my journal and notes from talks that I have learned from. I should focus on having an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. The one thing I did ask for was to be blessed with the miracle of never experiencing that feeling again. Never feeling so far from Him and feeling so low that I couldnt pick myself up. If I never experience another miracle on my mission I will still be happy to never go through those feelings again. I know my purpose. I know why I am here on this Earth and I know that this is His work and His glory.
So I should probably update a little on the other work that has been going on in this physical place rather than my crazy head. Brother Torres is not really going anywhere. He hasnt attended church or kept our other commitments and he actually just seems to want our company. We went by to see why he didnt come and there was one point in the lesson where he told us that he didnt make mistakes. I think it is very important to him that we think well of him, so he wont tell us when he doesnt understand something or admit that he is human: we decided that we couldnt trust him enough to continue teaching him.
Victoria hasnt had a second lesson and neither has Ashley (19 yr old with 3 kids). Victoria had to work like crazy and Ashley is a little too spontaneous for her own good. She just decided to pick up and live at a friends house for a week. Her grandma says it is normal. Her grandma is an inactive catholic that we actually went and did service for another day when we came back to see Ashley but she wasnt there. We hope that something comes of it. I testified of Joseph Smith and told her a little bit about our message but I couldnt discern her response. We are planning on going back on thursday so hopefully that will go well. We havent found anyone else, but we did see Roy again yesterday. He seemed happier than a couple weeks ago and he said that "Eventhough I didnt join ya'lls church, dont think that you wasted your time." Pah. He thinks he is done with us. :) He may not have joined it at this point in time, but I have no doubt that he will join in the coming future. I still have hopes that he might serve a mission, but those hopes arent as strong as they were when we found him.
Anyway, I dont have much time, but as an update: I dont have my visa yet, but transfers are not for three more weeks. If I do get it within that time then I will leave, but if not then I will wait 6 more weeks after next transfer. Our mission president is changing this week, but that last one has experienced lots of visa waiters and he said that he thinks I will go this transfer. He doesnt think I will have to wait a whole other one. He said the record for waiting is 5 months and that was to Brazil. Anyway, I have tons of letters to write today so hopefully all who wrote me will get one. I just need more time in a p-day!
My foot feels a lot better but I am going to the pediatrist today. They threatened me with not going to Argentina if I didnt make sure it was ok, so we have an appointment. I am hoping it wont take long there but we all know how doctors can be. At least this doctor is a member! Anyway, I love you all so much! I hope that everything is going well.
Hermana Allen

Texas: Week 8

I think to start off I'm going to talk about the miracles because I seem to have been complaining a lot and I'm sorry. This week hasnt been any less harder than others, but I'm starting to somewhat gain a perspective and rely more on the Atonement. I'm not sure how people do it who arent members. Reading the scriputers and studying so much, it baffles me how someone could deny the truth that seems to prevelant. Anyway, this past week we found three new investigators. We have only had a second lesson with one of them so we will see how the others go. Two were found before Sunday so we were expecting one of them to come and the other was going to be out of town, but the one who we thought would come didnt. That was a little upsetting but not as hard as it was to not have Roy come to church a couple weeks ago. We found Calistro Torres last wednesday and he is someone we arent completely sure about. He is 67 and the entire first lesson we gave he just talked about wanting to marry a good northern girl like us. It made us pretty uncomfortable, but we are going to try to continue teaching him and just always have someone with us no matter what. He doesnt talk about it as much when a member is there. He is the one we were expecting at church and he is also the one we had a second lesson with. We are not sure why he didnt come to church, but we are going to find out today. The other one we found before sunday is Victoria. She is in her early 20's and is actually the granddaughter of a member who just died last year. We taught her the plan of salvation and the spirit was strong and I know it brought peace. We are planning on teaching her tomorrow (tuesday) so we will see how everything goes. We have tried to keep in every day contact but she hasnt always texted us back so we will see what happens and if she is willing to act. The other investigator we found was Ashley. She is 19 and has three kids (3, 18 mo, and 5 mo). We taught her the Plan of Salvation as well because family is the most important thing to her and she had a friend (she considers him her brother) commit suicide three years ago and she wasnt sure where he was. Her 3 year old was pretty rowdy and he kept turning up the TV to watch the Incredibles. Every time she would turn it off, he turned it back on so I tried to distract him, which in turn distracted me, but if I wasnt completely entertaining him then he would go turn it up again. I forgot how much I like the Incredibles, which was another thing that distracted me (without me realizing it at moments) and then I wouldnt know what my companion had just said. The spirit was there, but it wasnt as strong as it could have been. We are seeing her again today, so pray that all goes well.
We are having a family history event this saturday that we are hoping turns out to be a big hit. We have put flyers in all of the libraries in our area and talked to everyone about it. It has actually been a wonderful thing to talk about because most people are comfortable in their own religion so they dont want to talk about it, but this way they can come to the church and  learn about something that is huge in our religion and is something they are interested in. We are hoping some people from the branch show up as well, but the Youth Temple Trip was rescheduled to be the same Saturday so we will see.
So my body has pretty much been failing me on my mission. My back problems are getting significantly worse and both knees are starting to hurt like crazy. My left foot, though, has been giving me the most trouble lately and I have no idea what is the cause. It hurts like I bruised something but I havent hit it and I have no idea what could have caused it. It hurts along the bone on the top of my foot all the way up to my lower shin. Sister Monsen has threatened to take me down multiple times because I wont go to the doctor even though it hurts so bad, so I havent really been showing her how much it hurts. I think it will get better with rest and ice. After elevating it all night it doesnt hurt too bad, so we will see.
Thank you everyone for your support and love! I hope everyone had a wonderful fathers day! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DON!! I love you all like crazy and I pray for you all. Please dont forget about me! (and it would be wonderful if no one had more babies until I got back. Get pregnant all you want but wait for me to be there :D deal? ok!)
Hermana Allen

Texas: Week 7

I think I forgot to tell everyone last time how much I HATE HUMIDITY and hot weather. :D Texas is starting to warm up like crazy. The other day we walked for a couple hours and I had sweat POURING down my face. I dont know how people do it. Now that that is out of the way I can let you all know what happened this past week. Roy did not go to church and neither did Norma. We actually havent been in touch with Norma because something happened with her family. She was pretty cryptic and unresponsive in her texts so we have no idea what is going on. Roy was the only person we focused on this past week. Everything else we did was targeted towards finding. We havent found anyone to teach and Roy actually dropped us this last Saturday. We called him to keep up with that daily contact and when we finally got a hold of him he told us that it was moving too fast and pretty much he didnt want to do it on his own. If he wants to go to church he can go with his family. He told us that Friday when we were driving to Corpus to have exchanges with the sisters in Corpus, so we werent going to be in our area all of Saturday. We asked if we could talk to him saturday night and that is what we did. After we had exchanges we left early and met him at 8 at his house. We tried to get a member there, but everyone is busy (they usually are-> they all have jobs and families). My companion and I actually felt pretty happy after we talked with him because no matter what happened we knew we had done our best. I know he will be baptized some day but I dont think I will have a part in it.
Anyway, I have actually been neglecting telling you about some of the crazy experiences with my companion and I lately. I will work my way back in time and start out with what happened most recently. So on saturday when we got home from talking with Roy and the exchanges, we started unpacking. Sister Monsen and I had just shared my suitcase so we were seperating it. The thing is, Sister Monsen has a pretty bad cold and takes cough medicine like crazy. She had brought the Nyquil with us to Corpus, but I hadnt packed it super well and she hadnt closed it all the way. A combination of the two led to the ENTIRE bottle spilling all over a white towl. Before I actually opened my suitcase I could smell cherries and I was like what is she eating?! That is soo strong. Yeah, it was actually the cough syrup all over my bag. Thankfully nothing but my spanish book (which also fell in a puddle so it already had water damage. What is a little more syrup damage?) was hurt. The next crazy thing that happened before that was Sister Monsen locked us out of our bathroom in the middle of the night. I got up needing to pee REALLY bad (if you can hold it then why not wait until morning?) and found it to be locked and only a little hole to try and figure out how to open it. We went to a gas station and Sister Monsen actually opened it later that night, but I was a little peeved. It is funny now, but I lost a few hours of sleep because I was so awake, so at the time I was not a happy camper (something I'm working on). Before that incident we had actually locked ourselves out of the apartment about a week prior. We went to take out the recycling and I didnt know the door was locked locked and she left her keys in the house. Let me tell you, trying to knock doors when you are a missionary and need help: NOT GOOD. They dont want anything to do with you anyway and they dont realize that you have no phone and no way to figure out what to do. Good thing our neighbors kids actually answered the door. Naive kids are the best! Our neighbors drove us to the landlady who gave us a key. I sat (kindof) in a carseat the whole way there so she wouldnt have to take it out of her car. It was not very comfortable and I was on the side with childlock so I couldnt get out either. Bueno!
I will try to think of some other funny things that have happened, but in the meantime I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH!!!! Thank you for the letters and EVERYTHING you all do for me. It is the BEST!!! I show everyone pictures of my family so just so you all know: random strangers know you. :D
Hermana Allen

Texas: Week 6

I'm coming to you with not the greatest attitude but that is what I am working on now! I am really trying to focus on being more positive and not getting too irritated or put down by small things. I specifically need to work on not getting irritated at waiting for people. I should have known that that was going to be a huge thing with companions. Not everyone has the sense of urgency I feel. I know that if Heavenly Father were standing next to me I would feel ashamed at how frustrated I've been feeling. A lot of that specifically centers around this area and how hard it has been. We have been forced to go tracting and more than a few times I have realized how much I hate knocking doors. This one lady flipped out at us for opening her screen door to knock. Rude.
So I told you all about Roy last week and he has been doing pretty good. We taught him last monday and then we kept in contact with him everyday since. Because he does have a traveling job we can only see him on weekends so we had planned on meeting with him Saturday afternoon. That didnt work out because he had to stay in Houston an extra day but he still said he wanted to come to church. We did everything we possibly could to get him there (we even knocked on his windows at his house), but it turns out he went fishing until 8:30 am on Sunday in Corpus Cristi so he couldnt make it. I cannot adequately describe the disappointment you feel when that happens. I'm not really as excited about him as I had been, but I'm still hoping he recognizes this as the truth. We had another lesson with him last night and he got up multiple times during the lesson. He was also super distracted with the cars passing on the street so pretty much the spirit wasnt there as strong (which was also our fault) and we were there longer than we should have been to get through everything.
Roy wasnt the only one we were expecting at church. We found a lady by the name of Norma Garcez who has four young kids. She canceled on the two appointments we had set with her and she didnt come to church when she said she really wanted to (she supposedly sounded sincere, but with how things are turning out I'm not feeling too positive about that situation). I'm trying not to lose hope or spirit, but it is hard when you see person after person disappoint you or turn away. I'm feeling like it doesnt actually matter what I do because it doesnt seem to make a difference. I'm frustrated with everything right now and I miss my family so it is hard for me. I have no idea what to say or do anymore. I have no idea what questions to ask or how to address needs. The only strength I feel like I have is that I can talk to strangers. I'm going to officially drown when I get to Argentina.
We had a fireside with the members yesterday and I made cheesecake which everyone loved. We were hoping to help them get the chispa (spark) to do missionary work in ways that are possible for them but I have no idea how much it really helped. Anyway, I love you all!! I hope you are doing well with school and work and play. I tried to make this sound positive, sorry if it isnt the best :)
Hermana Allen