Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10 Letter

Hi All!

First and foremost, Go Aggies!! Of course this happens after I leave, but we finally figured out how to not lose in the last five minutes of a game!

Also, to any SigEps reading this, well done with the flag! I didn’t watch a single video of the game that showed the crowd that I couldn’t see the flag flying. For the first time, I felt actually homesick, especially since it was the end of recruitment week. I hope that went well for you guys! Someone needs to let me know how it all went. CJ? Sounds like a Communications job to me. Anyways, tell all my new brothers hi and give them a big, awkward hug for me. Also pertaining to all you guys, I found a scripture that just screams SigEp: Hebrews 13:1.

Well, onto the mission, I suppose….

I’m finding an interesting trend in my music tastes right now that I think is interesting. In Young Men, the songs always used are big mission pump up songs: “Army of Helaman,” “Ye Elders of Israel,” “Called to Serve,” etc. But what I’m finding is those aren’t the songs that are the most reassuring out here. Really quickly, songs like “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” “I Need Thee Every Hour,” and “I am a Child of God” are taking precedence, which is interesting to me. Ha, I guess I need a different kind of pumping up out here haha.

Anyways, that wasn’t very much of an update. Who cares about what music I listen to. So, anyways….

On Saturday, we had a branch temple trip to do baptisms for the dead. It was really cool for Elder Inkley and me, because the primary focus was on people who hadn’t been to the temple before, of which the vast majority were recent converts. The most exciting for us was that Kathy came, as well as Liz and Freddy.

Since Liz and Freddy aren’t yet baptized, they couldn’t go into the temple, but instead went to all the sites. Right before they went to the Sacred Grove, Elder Inkley told them, “I know you’ve already done this once, but when you get in there, kneel down and ask if this is all real.” They did, and said they had a really peaceful experience, and we’re about to head over there in about an hour to talk more about it. I’m stoked!

Possibly cooler, though, was to watch Kathy just light up as she came into the temple. Because of her back, she wasn’t able to do baptisms, but still did confirmations and watched the baptisms being done. For someone who has the worst back I’ve ever seen to drive two hours on a bumpy road and still look as peaceful as she did is just incredible. We also know she had a very good experience, because as soon as we were out, she started asking us about what she needs to do to have her brother’s work done, since he died just over a year ago. Right now, the plan is for Freddy to do Kathy’s brother’s work his first time to the temple after his baptism!

We also made some really surprising progress with an investigator named Jacob this week. Jacob randomly showed up to church about a year ago without much of an explanation. The missionaries have been meeting with him here and there, but the progress was minimal, at best. He mostly seemed to just want to come to our church for the sake of a church, not thinking anything special of it. Still, the missionaries have stopped in here and there for some time.

A couple of weeks ago, though, we offered to help him tear down a big trailer. He hasn’t been formally employed for some time now, but has been making a decent living off of tearing down trailers. Between the pay he gets from the trailers’ owners and scrapping the metal, he’s been able to at least have a living wage. So, Elder Inkley and I went over to help him one day, and the conversation seemed to be nothing more than our usual conversation. What was surprising, though, was that that Sunday, he asked, “So, are you two going to come over to the house on Wednesday to talk?” He’d never asked us to come before. 

One of the most difficult parts of talking to him is his daughters. One is 6, the other is 4, and they are both crazy. Elder Inkley and I have worked out a system, though! What we’ve been doing is having him play with the girls — their favorite game is for him to put a stuffed animal on his head and run around the yard while they chase after him…— while I talk with Jacob or his fiancĂ©, Amanda. By actually getting into a conversation with them, you wouldn’t believe the progress we’ve made with each of them! We’ve learned all about how much Jacob wants to do what it takes to be a good father, yet a lot of his serious struggles in life. Amanda, we’d never really even talked to, but one day she started talking about how much she’d like to come to church without us even probing her about it. Then, for the climax, we were talking to Jacob one day, and I just flat out asked him, “So, have you ever thought about baptism?” “Yeah, Elder Tanner talked about it a little,” he said. “Well, are you planning on being baptized?” After a little bit of thought, he finally responded, “Yeah… I am. I just need a little more time.” Now, I know that is a bit of a cop out answer, but that is HUGE progress if you knew Jacob!

We also are having some awesome progress with Matt. It’s funny to meet with him, because it is about nine parts friendship building, one part church. But still, it’s progress! The past couple weeks, we’ve gone over for dinner at his house twice, have done a few little service projects here and there, and have played quite a bit of basketball. He and I have talked about hunting and politics for hours by now. 

Meanwhile, we have talked about his own baptism and confirmation in the Lutheran Church, the Plan of Salvation, the Word of Wisdom and especially how it relates to other churches’ standards, Joseph Smith, missionary work, temples, and who knows what else, almost without him realizing what we are doing. It’s funny, because he said yesterday that he really likes the two of us because we don’t try to force religious conversations, but I really don’t think he realizes how much we’ve talked about and how much he really understands about our beliefs. 

Haha, but the best part about our visit with Matt, yesterday? We told him that we were both here for at least six more weeks, but that Elder Inkley would probably be transferred after that. “Well, can I write a note to someone saying that you two need to stay here for me?” was his response hahaha. I freaking love Matt.

We’re also having a lot more success tracting now than is usual. Last week we went tracting and were able to set up about four follow up appointments with people. One of them that I’m most excited to see develop had invited us into her house almost as soon as we knocked. She was an older lady, and was with her grandson. We were able to kick it off really quick, because she was planning her upcoming Cub Scout Den Meeting. Perfect! We talked about scouts for a good 15 minutes, then eased into the Restoration. She said that it would make a lot of sense that we would still have prophets on the Earth, because like she said, “The world has bad things now that we didn’t even have when I was a kid!” She also said it made a lot of sense that Christ would have visited more than just those in Jerusalem. We left her the Book of Mormon, and she said she would read it with her grandson and talk about it with us on Tuesday. I’m stoked!

Even while we are getting better at tracting, we are finding it hard sometimes to boldly testify at the door without being super awkward. We are really good about talking about other people’s religious backgrounds, but it is hard to bear testimony in return without feeling abrasive. But never fear! President Christianson stopped by yesterday and we were talking to him, and casually said, “Hey, you should come tract with us sometime!” Haha, surprising to both of us, his answer was, “When?” Ha, hopefully it really happens! We would convert the whole area!!

But another interesting thing President talked to us about was how to avoid temptation, and I wanted to expand on it just a bit. He said that when we are ever tempted to do something, we should pray for charity. He said that when we pray to overcome any temptation, it just locks the idea in our mind, where really we need to get the idea out of our head entirely. 

As I’ve been looking, though, charity seems like the PERFECT thing to pray for in that situation. As Paul told the Corinthians, “Charity suffereth long… doth not behave itself unseemly… seeketh not her own… is not easily provoked… thinketh no evil… rejoiceth not in iniquity… [and] never faileth.”

Even more, James tells us in James 1 that all sin comes as a result of lust. Now, this makes a lot of sense too. Lust is putting what makes you feel good ahead of all else. In contrast, charity is putting what is best for others well ahead of yourself. It is really an interesting thing to consider. Oh, President. Really, every one of you should read one of his books or listen to one of his talks. He’s incredible!

Well, write me! Want to hear a good sob story? Aside from my mother and sister, it has been over two weeks since I’ve received a letter from anyone! When I come back as a little Mormon Missionary Robot with no personality, you are to blame for not writing me!

I love you, but I don’t miss you!
Elder Allen

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