Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1 Letter

Really, I love Freedom! I don't know what all to add that is too different from last week, but it is incredible to see this weird little network growing, and the buzz that is... buzzing?... without Elder Inkley and me even doing the work!

Before I start, though, I want all of you to hurry and go to and follow the blog. The New York Rochester Mission is unique in that we do "internet proselyting" via Facebook, blogs, and I started up this blog with my own little scriptural insights here and there... but it would make me quite happy if you would follow it! (Don't worry, while I can't be your Facebook Friend, I am allowed to have you follow my blog!)

Now, I have to talk about Krissa (Matt's wife). I talked a little about her last week, but the progress she's made is HUGE! We went back to talk to her about the Restoration pamphlet we had left with her, and she was just full of questions about it, which is awesome, because then we actually know what she cares to learn about. But the proceedings were even more awesome:

Let me interject here, and it will make sense in a bit. In the MTC, there's what they call the Teaching Resource Center, where people volunteer their time to act as investigators for us to teach. Sometimes it is very helpful, but sometimes, it's just absurd because they play into our hands too unnaturally well, because they are all members already. Case in point, I was teaching a lady about the Book of Mormon, and out of nowhere she asked how much education Joseph Smith had, and when I told her she responded, "There's NO WAY he could make this up!" It was stupid. 

Now, the reason I share this is because this is almost how our conversation went with Krissa. She asked about how Satan had come to be, so I briefly explained the Pre-Mortal Life and the War in Heaven. When I finished, she asked, "So... why did we need to come to Earth?" So, I explained how the purpose is for us to gain experience that could only come through temptation, agency, and mortality. Now, I kid you not, her next question: "Well then, where do we go after we die?" Haha, if anyone hasn't heard the missionary discussions, it's almost a cliche now to ask someone at the doorstep, "Have you ever wondered where we came from, why we're here, and where we will go after we die?" I just couldn't believe that she would ask the exact same questions so perfectly!

Then, later on, we asked her about her Book of Mormon reading. She said she had read the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses, and the Testimony of Joseph Smith. We asked her if she had any questions, and she was all, "Well... just one. Am I reading it right that Joseph Smith got the Book of Mormon on September 22nd?" We had no idea why this would matter to her, but after thinking a little bit said yes, that was true. She continued, "That's what I thought... and that's the day you gave me the Book of Mormon." Hahaha now, I'm sure that many people received a Book of Mormon that day. But it was INCREDIBLE for us that she picked up on that and took it very seriously!

We've now had legitimate discussions four different times. She's reading the Book of Mormon--she actually read 1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11 a few times a piece to really understand Lehi's vision--she's reading the pamphlets, she's praying, she even came to Sacrament Meeting yesterday! We then took Brother and Sister Owens (the branch mission leader and his wife) to a discussion at her house yesterday. We talked a lot about how the Holy Ghost speaks to us, and as we explained the peace and comfort that testifies of truth, she kind of chuckled and said, "I felt that same warm comfort when you two had me pray last time." We'd had her pray after we spent about an hour reading the Book of Mormon with her to know if it was true. So, we spent a lot of time teaching her that that was an answer. She also talked about how she had to keep holding back tear during fast and testimony meeting. Again, we taught her about how the Spirit touches people.

It's just incredible to watch how quickly she's learning and growing and accepting everything! And it's all so real! Sometimes we get investigators who jump on it, but you can tell they're not really absorbing much. That is NOT how it is with Krissa whatsoever!

Also, we had a really neat experience with Amy, who we hadn't taught in a couple of weeks because of her back problems combined with her Crohn's disease acting up. She's feeling better, though, so we went over and taught her the third discussion: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is an incredible lady, and picks up on things quickly, but that wasn't even my favorite part about this lesson. What was my favorite is that after Elder Inkley and I started the discussion, Sister Forster and Brother Duncan kind of out of nowhere just started bearing their testimony and answering her questions and literally covered every single point of the discussion. Brother Duncan even went so far as to invite her to be baptized! Haha I was just stunned! She said she didn't feel she was quite ready yet, although definitely wanted to eventually. Brother Duncan didn't take that, though, and went on telling her she did have a testimony and had felt the Spirit. Hahaha she still didn't commit to baptism, but I think it definitely got her thinking!

Yesterday, we had one of our coolest Sundays yet. We had SEVEN investigators at Sacrament Meeting. In the past, we've been lucky if we've had three or four. To make it better, Freddy and Liz, our two regular investigators who have been planning on baptism for months but were just waiting for their wedding, weren't there this week (not that that is a good thing) so the seven were all seven people who were really looking into the Church trying to actually investigate it! It was just awesome! Elder Inkley and I didn't know who to sit with, though!

Oh, I guess I should talk at least a little about Freddy and Liz's baptism... But I can't think of much to say... Haha I don't think I'm much of a wedding person, I guess. The cake was awesome though! And wanna know the cool part of that? Elder Inkley and I helped make it!! Really we just stirred the batter and cleaned the dishes... but still. Who would have thought that at one person's house--Kelly's--I would do everything from clean up goat poo to make a wedding cake?! Oh, I also got to play the role of Liz's dad during the wedding rehearsal the night before--that was funny.

I started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning again this week, as well as reading from the beginning with Krissa, and something new really stood out to me this time around. In chapter 2, Lehi is commanded to leave all of his riches and flee from Jerusalem. The fascinating part about the chapter is it shows three very unique reactions to such a commandment. In verse 7, it says that as soon as he had fled, Lehi "gave thanks unto the Lord our God." I don't know about you, but I find that VERY impressive! He just got booted from his all of his possessions and he just thanks God for making him do it? Clearly, Lehi is a very righteous and admirable person for having such faith, and I think it is someone we could all look to.

Later, in verse 12, it talks about Laman and Lemuel, who are really just ticked that they were asked to do such a thing. It says, "they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them." I think we all know that this is NOT the right thing to do in this situation. They ignored the fact that the Lord just saved their lives and just moaned about what they were missing out on.

But what I think is a more reasonable goal for all of us--unless you really are in tune enough to be like Lehi--is to act like Nephi. In verse 16, Nephi writes, "Having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers." See, we don't always have the ability to just jump into things solely on trust. It would be great if we could, but we're mortals and Heavenly Father understands that. What we can do, regardless of the circumstance, is trust in the Lord enough to simply ask him for comfort and help. He can and will soften our hearts and help us understand what has been asked of us.

Now, don't take this as me being all holier-than-thou. I think part of why this stood out to me this time around is how much I need to be more like Nephi. Transfers are coming up in under two weeks, and something is telling me that I'm about to be moved. Elder Inkley and I both asked President Christianson if we could stay in the area for a couple more transfers at our quarterly interviews on Tuesday. When Elder Inkley asked, he said, "You know, I think that would be great! I think you could really do a lot of good by staying there... I might have to do that!" To me.... he laughed. First he laughed, then he said, "Well Elder Allen, I'm glad you like your area. Ha ha ha!" Elder Olsson, one of our Zone Leaders, says he feels like one of us is probably going to be moved, too. Then, everyone says that you pretty much know when you're about to be transferred... Maybe I'm just paranoid and am making stuff up, but I feel it coming.

I'm nervous. The area is really coming alive, like I said! Krissa was even commenting on all the talk about us, saying she's never seen anything like it from anyone in the area, let alone Mormon missionaries. First, on a selfish side, I don't want to miss watching this area just blossom over the next few months. But then, I really don't want the area to implode! We have a lot of people who have said they rarely trust missionaries and we've helped them open up to the idea. I don't want some new missionary to come in and either scare off people we've been teaching or serving, or even just forget they exist...

BUT, I need to be like Nephi! And I'm working on it... I know that we are assigned to areas by revelation and that if I am moved there is reason for it, but hopefully soon I'll be as faithful as Nephi and really be able to internalize that and be comfortable with leaving Freedom, be it this transfer or in the future.

Love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Oh, p.s. there's one more picture of us and the wedding cake! Haha and tonight we're going to a volleyball game for Mariah Owens, the daughter of the family we always go to for Family Home Evening. In order to excuse going to a volleyball game, we made Sister Owens promise us that she would introduce us to everyone she knew, and we both have signs for Mariah, who is number four on her team, mine reads, "Families are #4-ever" and Elder Inkley's says, "The prophets #4-told." Haha, pictures to follow some other day!

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