Friday, September 19, 2014

Spiritual Experiences & Creepers

So my last few weeks were pretty crazy and I never had the chance to write what was happening. First of all, the investigator that we found that hadnt been able to listen to the missionaries before because of the restrictions on elders teaching women, was absolutely phenomenal! The spirit was super strong every time we taught her and she kept the commitments we left her. She even came to church, which if you didn't know that is a BIG DEAL! :) We had quite a few more visits, and one time was especially spiritual. We were explaining temples and at the end asked her if she had asked if the Book of Mormon is true or if Joseph Smith was a prophet. She said that she had but felt that she was lacking in something. As we reviewed the pattern established in Moroni 10:4, she said she probably lacked real intent. We talked to her and could see her faith. She was scared of doing it by herself, but Heavenly Father would help her, of that we were certain. We asked if we could pray with her and the room filled with the spirit as we knelt down to pray. She began and I know we all felt her sincerity and desire to know. She asked if it was true and as the spirit swept over all of us time and time again, tears streamed down her cheeks. When she finished her prayer, none of us dared move for fear of interrupting the peace and joy that we felt. She continued to shed tears and as I gave her a hug, she held onto me like I was the evidence that this was real: she received an answer from God and could not deny it. It was one of the more precious experiences in my mission and I treasure the love I felt from Heavenly Father that day. Not only the love I felt He has for me, but also Silvina. My love for her grew in those moments, which only made it that much harder to accept that a couple days later she told us she couldn't meet with us anymore. Her boyfriend/husband had told her that she couldn't meet with us in their house and her daughter didn't want to come to church anymore either. I'm not sure exactly what happened but a week later we stopped by because we were worried about her and even though she was home, she wouldn't talk to us. She had her daughter shake her hands at us and close the curtains. Honestly, I don't think I have ever had my heart break so much. I could see the potential she had and the eternal family within her reach, but it came crashing to the floor as that curtain dropped in front of us at her house. She was one of the main reasons that my last two weeks in Bariloche were so hard. She dropped us and because the lack of progression of other investigators we were struggling finding people to teach. The less active members even seemed to be avoiding us and I reached a point of absolute discouragement after that continued for a while.

Beautiful scenery of Bariloche

The Dwarf Waterfall (la cascada de los duendes)

When I was told that my accent was too strong by this lady, and very kindly added that she couldn't understand me, I kind of lost it. I just shut down a little and sat down on a log in front of some random house. After venting to my companion for a couple minutes a man came out and asked us if we wanted to come in. Blown away at the invitation, knowing that Heavenly Father was answering my prayer for at least the moment, we accepted, but determined we had to come back in an hour when his wife was home and we had the member with us that we needed to go meet. My companion left him with our number and we left to go find the member. This man's name was Aldo and his house number was 614. A few minutes after leaving his street to go find the member, we received a text saying that a man named Marcelo wanted to hire us to paint his house and that the missionaries had past by that day. We didnt remember contacting any Marcelo so we were a little bit confused but asked him where he lived. He said he lived in house number 617, which would be a few houses down from Aldo. We were confused because we hadn't contacted anyone that could have been this Marcelo guy. Longer story shorter: even after asking Aldo if he knew who this Marcelo was and him responding no, we found out that Aldo was texting us as Marcelo and himself. It was creepy and we asked the Elders to continue passing by.

THIS NEXT STORY is actually a super weird one. In Argentina there are stores called kioskos. They are little stores that pretty much have everything you want, and my companion and I had stopped by to get some snacks. After my companion made her purchase this man walks in COVERED in blood. He had blood matted on his head and a deep gash on his forehead that was still bleeding a little. His shirt was covered in blood and he could barely walk straight. I stared open mouth as he walked past me, thinking that we needed to call someone or do something. My companion gets scared super easy and I knew that she was worried. When he walked up to the counter I could see that she was staring at the space between him and the counter behind him to see if she had enough space to leave. I was personally hoping a little that she wouldnt leave because I had wanted to buy some alfajores. He supported himself on the counter talking to the owner of the kiosk. I couldnt hear anything, but my companion heard what he said. He said that some guys had beat him up for his box of wine and then left him. He came asking for more wine and only after the owner gave it to him did he ask for a band-aid or something to help him. She told him that she didnt have anything so he should leave. He walked out the store and began to drink the carton of wine that she had just given him, leaving his wound unattended.

The last story is of a little puppy we found. We named her Frutti because we found her in the part of our area called Frutillar (pronounced fruit ee shar). We looked everywhere for her owner and then looked everywhere for someone to take her in. The thing is that in Argentina there are stray dogs EVERYWHERE and EVERYONE has at least two dogs already. No one wants a little puppy, which is just another mouth to feed. We did end up finding a member who took her in, but it was sad for us to give her up to someone who didnt really want her but was willing to take care of her.

Anyway, the mission was the most amazing experience of my life. I learned how to get through trials in the way that Heavenly Father would have me do it and more importantly, how to be happy during my trials. Heavenly Father really does love us more than we can understand and doesnt want us to suffer. As we keep His commandments even when it is super hard, we find that we have peace and love that dominate our life. The spirit will accompany us as we try to progress and grow in the way that He would have us live our lives. I have learned that I really know nothing in the grand scheme of things but I can constantly learn and grow. Jesus Christ is my Savior, Redeemer, and loving Brother. God is my literal Father in Heaven who created this plan for us to be able to return to Him and have the joy of eternal life that He experiences.

This was how we washed our laundry and this was one of the BEST washers I had

Monday, September 15, 2014

Trials and Blessings

I am so excited to end my mission here. It is so pretty, the members are great, we have a great bishop, my companion is awesome and super hard working, and we have a ton of people to teach. LIFE IS GREAT!!! I am trying to get used to working in constant rain, but it is all good because I have my bubble umbrella which I could not be more grateful to have. Seriously, there was a reason I was packing it around for my whole mission and the design is perfect because there is a ton of wind that break other umbrellas. :) It is pretty cold here sometimes, but I think that is great because it is preparing me for Idaho weather :/ . Not sure how I´m going to do that when I get back, but I will get over it. This past week it rained like crazy and the town was pretty much flooded. There were streets in our area that were like lakes and we had no way to cross but through the water.

Yesterday we had a super great miracle. We were contacting a reference, trying to find a time when the mom was home so that we could pass (the only thing I miss about a trio- you already have the third female!) and they were cutting wood to heat their house. It was just two boys (ages around 11 and 9) so when we offered to help they accepted. I chopped the wood while they put  it in the house and when we finished we left. I felt good about it and when we were far enough away for them not to hear, I told my companion that I hoped that gained their confidence enough to really tell us when we could pass by. As we walked down the hill, one of the little boys was running after us and my first thought was "crap, what did I leave behind this time?" (I have been leaving all my stuff all over the place). He stopped and with a little bit of a stutter, told us that his dad wanted us to pass right then. We told him to tell his dad that we couldn't at the moment but we would pass another time when his mom was there. Right after that happened, we got a call from our district leader telling us that this specific neighborhood (and another one) were being taken away from us. I am still not sure what to do about it, but the Lord has His purposes.
We have seen other miracles but I don't have a ton of time. I feel so blessed for this amazing opportunity to serve and enjoy all that I have learned in this year and a half. I still have a ton to learn but I feel like I am applying everything at the same time and it is helping me recognize just how much I have changed. I love you all!!! thank you for supporting me so much!
Hermana Allen
So lots to tell!!!! First of all, the none spiritual stuff: we found a giant insect thing in our washer after we had washed our clothes. The members were freaking out because things don't really exist like that here. It was disgusting and I will admit that I was wimpy and told the Elders to take it out.
Next, I had a miracle and had one of the less actives members give me some super nice boots, but the thing is that they are not the same size even though they say they are. One was super small and I actually got a blood blister from wearing them. After that I was blessed with the miracle to have super great weather and it has been pretty ever since. I am able to wear my good Dansko shoes and the blood blister has already healed after two days. 

The things spiritual that I want to share have to deal with a couple people and also with what I learned in church the other day. We were talking about honesty in the gospel principles class and one of the men in the class said that honesty is honoring the value of something. When we steal we aren't honoring the value of that item. It is the same with everything else in the world. Our bodies especially have a great worth which is why the law of chastity is so important. We always have to be willing to pay the price for what we want. If we want exaltation, we have to be willing to pay the price which is exact obedience to the commandments of God. 

"I have often found that in the greatest seasons of suffering we have the greatest cause of rejoicing." William Clayton (one of the pioneers)

"But we had faith in our Heavenly Father, and we put our trust in Him, feeling that we were His chosen people;... and instead of sorrow we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come." Sarah Pea Rich (another pioneer)

I am so glad to be able to serve a mission and rejoice in the hard moments and the great ones too. This last week we found this lady who had wanted to listen to the missionaries for a long time but because of the restrictions on elders with women and the sisters with men, she never got the chance to really listen. The spirit was super strong when we shared the first vision and she was going to come to church with us, but she got a little sick. 

Our other miracle was this contact who was actually leaving a church meeting. We contacted her and the weird part was that it felt like someone took over me to talk to her. I felt like it wasn't me who was talking to her either. I started asking her if she knew where a family was that we were looking for (that confused my companion because we aren't looking for a family with three kids and a baby :) so she was confused why I was asking about this family with so many details). She couldn't help us, but that is understandable since the family doesn't exist. She was the miracle for us in reality. She had just lost a pregnancy and she was still grieving over losing her 18 month old baby. The spirit was super strong and the other cool thing is that my companion has a friend with the exact same name. WOOHOO for the hand of the lord!

Anyway, how did it go studying about the sabbath day? I hope you are all feeling super spiritually uplifted because the gospel is perfect and great!!! Oh, I forgot to tell you that a dog peed on my companion. It was super funny because she didn't notice until she felt it on her foot. He had originally peed on her skirt. hahaha. 

Well I love you all super super super ton. I don't know how to communicate that better. HAVE AN AMAZING WEEK!!!

Hermana Allen

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Transfered to Bariloche

BIG NEWS!!!! I´M BEING TRANSFERED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh I am so excited. Eventhough I am going home in 6 weeks, I needed a change. Packing was ridiculous, but it will be so much easier when I leave a bunch of stuff behind :). ALSO I did red highlights in my hair! NEW NEW NEW!!!! The best news is that where I am being transfered to is the prettiest place in the mission!!! It has a ton of mountains and pretty tourist places to go! It is called Bariloche and it is the dream place for everyone to go in the mission. It is also super cold so that will be something that I´m not exactly prepared for, but that is okay because I´M LEAVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My companions are staying together. 

My new companion is from Colombia I have heard, and she is SUPER short. I dont have much time because I need to do some other stuff but I love you all and thank you for your support!!! 

So I forgot to mention some of the things that I had wanted to say last week. You should know that my muscles in my legs are getting rock hard. I noticed my first couple days here what walking has done to me. I cant imagine at the end of this transfer because it is a ton of hills and slopes. We will be going hiking today so just wait for the photos next week! It has been pretty fickle weather this past week. Some days were super harsh and others were pretty. On Tuesday it was crazy and I actually thought that I might get frostbite because my feet were frozen and it hurt to walk. They were soaking wet and the member still came with us even though our appointment canceled! It was crazy and we felt super blessed.

The day that our feet were frozen we went to a member to dry our socks. My companion couldnt get her shoe off so the son of the member came in with the ax and said "let me know when you´ll allow me to chop it off." We pretty much died laughing. 

I have never suffered so much for the weather, but it is preparing me to enter winter in Idaho for sure. I will have a full year of cold weather! Anyway, I am learning a ton still. Specifically I have learned more about keeping the sabbath day holy and about if we are really repentant or if we are still in the repentance process. I also learned about the importance of learning by faith and searching for our own answers. That is why I want to invite you all to make the month of august a study of the sabbath day. Even if you think you know everything about the sabbath day, I encourage you to learn more. Look for talks and scriptures, focus each week on something else you can improve to sanctify the day of the lord a little bit more. I hadnt realized how important this day is to the lord, but more specifically how important it is to do what HE has planned. I hadnt realized that it is considered a sin to not attend church every week for the full three hours along with a bunch of other small details. 

I think the thing recently that I have found out is the importance to look for Heavenly Father. Look for ways to improve in everything because many times we sin in ignorance and those sins will still keep us from gaining the celestial kingdom. I love you all so much. I hope you can grow closer to Heavenly Father and keeping Him in our minds and hearts at all moments. Our lives should be focused on preparing ourselves to participate in the sacrament and strive to learn more and be better. I LOVE YOU SOOOOOO MUCH.
We had gnomes for investigators!

super pretty catholic church overlooking the lake in Bariloche

HAPPY KIDS DAY (it was yesterday- August 10)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Activities, food and world cup craziness

I wish I could properly communicate just how powerful prayer is to help us rely on the Lord and hand over our burdens. This week has been difficult, but the Lord is always there.

My boots are already breaking that I bought a couple months ago so I am hoping they last for two more months. 

I cut my hair (this time someone professional did it from the ward instead of me doing it myself). It looks cute, but pretty different. My curls are back. :)
We have an investigator who is amazing. After the first lesson we taught her she said that she kept repeating what we said over and over in her mind. She actually read the pamphlet we left her and we did a church tour to help her feel more comfortable. She didnt come to church because she was sick and she was a little scared as well. She is the girlfriend of a less active so we are hoping to try to help them both come back. We will see! 

I want to sincerely thank those who wrote me. It was an answer to my prayers today, and I love the pictures!! Keep them coming :)

I´m sorry I´m pretty boring today, but I dont really have a ton to say. Argentines have been crazy with the world cup, so if the united states wins their game as well this tuesday, I might have problems. They would be playing against eachother next time and these people are serious finatics. Love you all!!! 
You should all read this talk. I learned so much from it! sorry I dont have time! Be a Missionary All Your Life

The GORGEOUS sky in Neuquen

The world cup was super crazy. People were buying beer like crazy to celebrate, walking around with their kids. I have no idea how it was after they lost because I was not about to leave the apartment with the noise that they were making just to satisfy my curiosity. They sound happy and angry at the same time. It was not that great sounding, we heard a ton of ambulances too. We had an activity in the church for their patriots day. we made a ton of empenadas, which I know that mom would love to know how because she could make them so healthy :). The activity was a great success! There were more less active members than actives ones, which was great to see. They have this type of dance called folklore which made me want to watch zorro really bad. It was great, and I really want to learn how to dance now. That desire might leave once I get the chance, but watching it, makes me want to know how :)

Just so you all know, I feel like a giant here. Everyone is so much shorter than me, so that will be something super hard to get used to in the states, being the short or normal one. We have a less active who is super rude to me every time I go by. She confused me with my companion when my companion dropped cane on her. My companion told her that she should want a calling. Now she just says something rude about how big or fat I am, or how unloving I am. I am content, though, because it only matters what Heavenly Father thinks. I have learned a lot about relying on Him. I love this opportunity to grow! 

We moved this past week and in order to break our contract we had to pay 6,000 pesos. It was ridiculous how much money it was! The other pictures are of the night when argentina won the semi finals and we took a random pictures with some chicas. The other is for the fourth of july! could you tell by our clothing? The last is of the folklore dancing, and the other one is of us with the pretty decorated table for the activity. We made a type of cinnamon roll thing, and then we also had lunch together with all the missionaries. Be proud of me cuz I have learned to enjoy meat more or less :)

Anyway, I love you all!! I hope you continue to work hard and enjoy the heat because the cold is brutal. 

 Hermana Allen

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Change of Heart

So this week has been very event filled. It started out pretty rough and I think that it was mainly because of my attitude. I DID NOT want to be in a trio ever again after the first time, so finding out that it was going to happen again made me a little upset, but I was determined to accept the will of the Lord. As the week progressed, I learned to just turn to the Lord and only care what He thinks. I needed to be humble to receive counsel from Him, and focus on what He would have me be. When I begged Him to help our relationship, everything changed. We are doing great and we can work so much better than before. Our new companion has been in the mission for 7 months so she knows how to teach, and we are planning to always go on splits with members. Hermana Albright and I both know the area, so it is the perfect opportunity. I am so blessed. The Lord is so merciful and wonderful to teach us and perfect us every day. I love my mission more than ever before. I wish that I could share with you all just how great it is to feel like you can rise above anger and frustration. More than anything, I feel like Satan doesnt have power in my life. It is an amazing feeling that I wish for everyone, which makes me want to work even harder.
The activity that we had for flag day was great. Erica (the member that is living with our investigator) danced with her daughter (camila who is the most adorable little girl). They danced folklore which I think is the same in english. For folk music? You all understand me right? Ok, well it was great and I learned how to make a buttload of noodles. I wonder if they have the machines to do so in the states.  I would imagine so right? I want to do it so that it can be gluten free. I would buy one here and take it back, but the good ones weigh a TON so that wouldnt work out. Anyway, I love you all and hope that you are doing great as well. THANKS TO THOSE WHO SENT PICTURES!!!! I loved them. 

Les quiero un montón!!!
Hermana Allen

So this week I have considered what it really means to be born again of the spirit. I was reading this article Experiencing a Change of Heart in the Ensign and realized just how much I have changed on my mission. The way I lived my life before, I realized how much of my purpose I had lost in the rush of everyday life. The purpose we are here is to complete the work of God. We focus on His will and keeping His commandments, and everything else that we need to do in order to live, will work itself out. I firmly believe that if we want to keep the sabbath day holy, he will provide a way to help us do so. We just need to have the faith and not doubt that He will provide the way. All the things that we do should be focused on God's purpose and then the things of the world come next. When we change our attitudes to be like this, we find happiness that never ends. It seems so simple to me now, which makes me continually think why I didnt realize it before. I am so incredibly grateful to understand the plan of Heavenly Father and be able to help others. I finally understand what the prophets were talking about when they said that we should focus of the simple things of life.
As the members have been coming out with us, they have had more desires to read their scriptures and learn the things of God. If the spirit is what helps us to have our hearts turned to Him, then we need to ensure that everyday, we have a spiritual experience. Sometimes, that experience may just be looking down at your child and thanking Heavenly Father that He sent you such a gift. I now understand what the purpose of the mission is. I had never understood just how much God can change you when you give yourself to Him, but it is something amazing. 

This week we changed apartments and I realized the difference of the spirit that can dwell in a dirty home and a clean one. When we finally organized the new apartment, the spirit came back like a fireman hose. I am so grateful for His love and His gospel. I have been able to literally see the difference in the countenance of someone who suddenly begins to pray and read their scriptures when they are struggling. I also have seen the long term affects of not doing family home evening and daily scriptures/prayer, which helps me understand just how amazing the Lord is to give us servents to help us understand this. I hope everyone has an amazing week. 

MY FOURTH WAS GREAT!!! we all celebrated with our clothes. the jump drive is not working to send pictures so I will have to send them next week. I feel so tall next to my comps. It is pretty sad how tall I'm considered here. Anyway, I love you all!!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!!!

Hermana Allen

PS. world cup is crazy, but I'm starting to catch the fever of it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Argentina: Week 44

So my sister stopped posting the last couple months of my mission, but I want you all to hear about those experience as well so I will put them up now :).

So I was considering what to write to reply specifically back to someone and realized that my reply would be something that could help everyone, so I am sending it to you all to ponder and learn from. I have pondered many times why missionaries attain a state of just being completely and utterly happy, you feel like you are literally a part of the angels in heaven and not an earthly being. We still have trials but it seems to be easier to handle them. Well lately we have been discussing on how to help the members to be more converted and we were discussing that they probably dont understand that the Lord requires us to put Him before everything, even our families (like Abraham sacrificing Isaac). Our families are a huge part of His plan so when it is within His plan, you are obviously putting the will of the Lord first according to what He would have you do with your family (in some instances not so much, such as spending family time camping when you should be at church, that isnt ok for Him). I hope I am making sense. Well, as I was pondering about the sacrifices Heavenly Father asks us to make, I realized that is the reason missionaries are happy. We are completely completing the law of sacrifice. We have sacrificed everything to come on a mission and when you hit the point where you actually deliver yourself to Him, you are celestially happy. It depends on the attitude you give as well because there are missionaries who with-hold part of the offering and therefore dont reach that same level of happiness, but I think this is an example of what we all want to achieve. We all want to be happy beyond imagination, and that comes from completely following the will of God. I would invite you all to consider what is something that you may be holding back as an offering? It could be pride, time, an attitude, etc. Even a missionary who is completely happy and content with how their life is, still has a ton to improve. There is always something that we can offer to Him and I invite you all to consider what you could offer to the Lord that you arent at the moment. There is a great change in our state of being as we grow closer to Him and follow Him more closely. I have been able to see that in myself and in our investigators.

This week Eduardo (our investigator who is living with a less active) is going to get married to Erica next month! He is definitely progressing and changing and it has been so great to see! Erica's dad is going to baptize him as well, so her whole family is in on it! That was a great change, but we will see what happens. I think he might struggle with some commandments that we havent taught him yet. :/ Pray for him! 

Transfers came this week and I am going to be in a trio. Hermana Albright and I are going to have a Peruvian companion so it will be interesting. Our pension doesnt really have room for a third person, so I wonder how that is going to work out, but I dont feel like I am staying for the whole transfer, but I'm ok with whatever Heavenly Father wants. Anyway, I love you all soooooo much!!! Please let me know how you are doing! Sometimes I dont have time to write you all back, but I really enjoy your letters! AND PICTURES!!! por favor, MORE PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a great summer while I suffer in the cold!! :D
Hermana Allen