Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6 Letter

Hello everybody!

Don't worry, only 23 more months until you can see me again!

It has been a crazy week, but I'm headed to Niagra Falls in about an hour, so I have to make this all quick!
On Saturday, Cora was baptized! It was very cool, and I didn't have to repeat anything; she went fully under and I said the words correctly. When practicing, I was getting nervous, because I kept wanting to say the baptism for the dead words, since I've heard those literally hundreds of times, and the baptism words about a dozen. But, I was able to pull through. To be fair, she had a lot more to overcome. As I said last week, she went from smoking two packs a day to nothing in under two weeks. Incredible!

Ready to baptize Cora!
We also met a number of awesome new people this week. The one who stands out the most is a man named Paul. We were going to do some service for a man in our branch one evening, but there was an insane rainstorm that started about ten minutes before we went. Instead, we went to the apartment and looked through our area book, where we found a former investigator named Elizabeth who seemed very promising. 

As soon as the rain cleared up, we biked over to her house. We kept on passing people, and I kept on wimping out and not saying much more than "Hi" to them. Finally, I promised myself/Heavenly Father that I would try to have a conversation with the next person we saw. We got all the way to Elizabeth's before that happened.

As we pulled onto her street, I heard a chainsaw down the road and went to go see what was going on. Sure enough, a man was outside, cutting up a huge downed tree in his yard. We went up to him, and he just said, "You here to help?" We later found out he meant that as a joke and just wanted to scare us off, but we jumped to it and started carrying the logs to his backyard for firewood and throwing the junk branches in the back of his truck. As we drove to the dump to empty his truckbed, we finally got talking to him.

He started the conversation by asking "Okay, I've got to know. What made you stop and help? My own neighbors were outside, across the street, and they didn't even ask if they could help." We could tell he was deeply touched. As the conversation went on, we found out that he had been raised Catholic (as I said, his name is Paul, and his brothers' names are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John hahaha), but wasn't very religious anymore. He told us that his dad had died a few years back, which had really hurt the entire family. He also talked about his younger sister, who has Down's Syndrome (just like Elder Inkley's younger brother), and the "special spirit" that she has. Finally, he talked about his son, Owen, and how much he wants to help Owen have a good path to grow up on.

The problem, is he also talked about the pushiness of the Jehovah's Witnesses and how off-putting that is. Like I said, he expected us to book it as soon as he asked for help, because he was under the impression that missionaries wanted nothing but to teaching. So, instead of talking about the Plan of Salvation for his dad, or about the spirit of his sister, or about how the restored gospel blesses families for his son, we stayed mostly quiet. I still am debating whether that was the right thing to do or not, but we were able to bear our testimonies to him when he asked why nineteen year old boys would give up two years for church. In the end, we were also able to set up a dinner appointment with him for the upcoming week. It had better work out, or I'll really struggle forgiving myself for not testifying there and then.

After the rainy bike ride
We met another incredible man on Saturday. We were biking home from Kelly's house, and stopped at a gas station to grab some drinks. We try not to proselyte too much in stores for the sake of the privacy of the store. But, when we were in line, a man just flat out asked us, "Are you guys Mormons?" Of course, we answered yes. "Do you baptize for the remission of sins?" he asked. Again, we answered yes, then started asking him about his own religious beliefs. As we got to talking to him, we found out he was a pretty strong Christian, but was getting irritated by the church he had been going to. From the sound of it, there are some weird people at that place. We ended up talking to him for about half an hour outside, all about the Bible and about how it takes both obedience and faith to make it to heaven.

As we were about to leave, we asked him if we could meet with him again, sometime. But, he said he was "busy" (the classic excuse), and probably couldn't. Still, we gave him a passalong card with our number on it and told him to call us if he ever found time. I kid you not, twenty minutes later, we got a call! He wanted to know if it would be "all right with us" if he came to our church Sunday morning. Haha... that was a tough call for us.... hahaha. Unfortunately, some stuff came up in the morning, and he wasn't able to make it out, but we gave him a call as soon as church was over to check on him, which seemed to touch him that we would actually care if he was there. He then not only agreed to go to church next Sunday, but also to meet with us later this week and take us fishing one of these upcoming p-days! Such an awesome guy!

We had a really neat experience with Lindsey. She is the daughter of Kelly, who I talked about last week. We'd been sending her Book of Mormon chapters to read, always telling her either 1) she wastes an hour by reading something she doesn't think is true, or 2) she'll completely change her life. She kept on putting off meeting with us, though, so finally we drove the twenty minutes to her house to force her to meet with us (if you understood our relationship with that family, you would understand that that isn't out of line haha). There, we went over what she'd read, especially focussing on Alma 32 and Ether 12, both about faith and taking leaps of faith simply on the hope that something might be true. She doesn't believe there is a god, but we asked her what it might mean to her if there was one. She finally admitted that that would be a good thing.

So, we asked her to pray about the church and the Book of Mormon while we were there. She complained that we were putting her on the spot, so I made a deal with her. I would say the prayer on three conditions. First, we would turn off the TV and kneel. Second, we would sit quietly, still kneeling with our eyes closed, for a couple of minutes after the prayer. Third, she would do the same thing that evening after we left. She agreed to that, and we went ahead. During the prayer, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to touch Lindsey, to make her feel warm and comforted. After, during our quiet time, Elder Inkley and I both kept praying like crazy, just hoping she'd feel something. After about a minute, she just yelled, "I can't do this anymore!" and jumped up, eyes full of tears. PERFECT!! We are working on meeting up with her again!

Haha, we also met a very interesting lady out tracting. We knocked on her door, but she said she didn't have time to talk because her husband was just out of surgery getting a new kidney. We then asked if we could help her with her yardwork since her husband was out of commission. We ended up mowing her entire lawn, but then she invited us inside! As we got talking to her, we got very interested, but very confused about her religious background. Either she was a member of the church in the Seventies, but then was part of a group that broke off of the church on their own, or she was a member of the Reorganized LDS church, that then doubly reorganized.... or something. The hard part is that to her, all three churches are "Mormon" or "LDS," so we have no idea if we are teaching to convert, to reactivate, or if we are teaching an excommunicated member. Fun stuff!

Hmm... I'm trying to think of other exciting things from the week, but I'm not coming up with much. Oh, we finally passed around a dinner sign-up sheet, so that is good! I'm definitely not a healthy eater... It is too easy to just snack all day, and there are minimal healthy small snacks that can be carried in a backpack and don't involve vegetables. But hopefully member dinners make things a little healthier!

Oh, I need help here: How many of you would follow a blog that I kept of my own spiritual insights? Then, not just follow, but repost links elsewhere (Facebook, Twitter, etc)? Here in Rochester, we have missionary Facebooks and can have blogs, but both are fairly ineffective until you get circulating. Unfortunately, I can't friend any member back home, but anyone is allowed to follow the blog. If it seems like I'd get enough support, I will go for it. Let Megan, Emily, or my mom or dad know and I'll see what I can do if it seems like a popular idea!

I found a really cool combination of scriptures and quotes from a book by George Durrant that the Boyack's gave me. In the Book of Helaman, it is talking about one of my lifelong heroes, Samuel the Lamanite (Samuel B. Lamanite, when I was three). Something I never thought about until I was a missionary was glaringly obvious to me this time. First, Samuel goes to the city, preaching repentance to the people, but they got very angry and chased him away. As he's headed home, though, an angel comes to him and tells him to go back. The angel says "Go back and teach the people the thoughts that I will place in your heart." As missionaries, the MTC really hammers into us that we aren't teaching our thoughts, we are teaching the Lord's thoughts. Until we can get a grasp on that, we will be fairly unproductive teachers. I can definitely agree to that, because of the random questions that have came to mind while teaching Chet, Paul, Tracy (the guy from the gas station), Lindsey, and who knows who else. George Durrant says, "When a missionary finally decides to unleash his heart, that is when he begins to have power in his teaching. The Lord has promised us that He will place thoughts in our hearts. Then, if we have the courage to say these things, He will by the power of the Holy Ghost carry the truth of these thoughts into the hearts of the hearers."

Well, that's about all! I included two pictures here. The first is of Elder Inkley and me after the rain storm that ended up leading to us finding Paul. It was the most Monsoon-like rain I've ever seen. We went to an appointment with clear skies, but suddenly it was pouring buckets with tons of lightning. It was really scary actually, because we had to bike home in between completely flat, empty fields. I don't know if you can tell in the picture, but we are completely soaked. The second picture, of course, is Cora and me right before the baptism.

Write to me! I love getting letters from all of you, and work my absolute hardest on getting back to everyone! Please keep me updated on the workings of the real world!

I love you all, but I don't miss you!!

Elder Allen


  1. Wow. This is real missionary work!

    1. If my mom or sister posts it soon, I sent a follow up email that got me really excited. Tuesday, we were knocking on doors and had two separate people ask us if we were the two boys helping their neighbor clean up their fallen tree last week. We're getting a reputation!

    2. Ha, and that is the real Elder Allen replying. I just realized that the letters have been being posted from "Bracken Allen."

  2. I am soooo glad you liked that book! I have loved it over and over again...but Br. Durrant has a special place in my heart as my MTC president.....but what fantastic ideas are found there!!!! Way to go Elder Allen! The Lord sure is happy He has you on His side~~~~ Go give 'em heaven!!!
    Sis. Boyack

    1. Yeah, it's been a great book - I've been using it a lot! And I'm glad to see someone's reading these letters far enough to get to that part of the letter :)

    2. Ha, and that is the real Elder Allen replying. I just realized that the letters have been being posted from "Bracken Allen."