Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13 Letter

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Sorry that this is a day late, but Veterans Day gets in the way of library time... But I'd never thought of that scripture relating to veterans until now... so I decided to write it down here.

Anyways, it's been a fun, exciting week! First, though, I want to share something almost completely non-spiritual, but that really got me stoked! On December 27, I am going to be going to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert in Buffalo with Matt, Krissa, and Marcus! We got President's permission and everything! Haha I love that family, and am sooo excited for it haha. Matt was a little bummed when we told him we'd still need to wear church clothes, but we got him to accept it. Hahaha man... missions are tough sometimes ;)

But really, I do missionary work, too, I promise. In fact, we had a really cool tracting experience last week. We were out knocking on this street full of really nice duplexes. (We found out later in the week that actually wasn't allowed... woops.) Well, we got three new potential investigators out of it, which is pretty good for an hour or so. But then, we came to this one house where we knocked, and almost immediately a man yells, "Come in!" Hahaha.... if you've ever been tracting or even heard of the stereotypes surrounding it, you understand our shock/confusion/slight timidity. But, we cracked the door open a little and said, "Hello...?" Haha Toby, the guy who had yelled to us, was actually expecting it to be some of his sons' friends, not missionaries... but he let us in anyways! Well, long story short, we ended up talking with him for two hours. Toby is actually a recovering crack addict and alcoholic (don't worry, Mom, he's been clean for nine years), and said that AA's emphasis on God made him realize that "something had to be up there," he just couldn't decide what. Likewise, he realized that "there's gotta be something after we die, otherwise what's the point of being here right now?" We ended up giving the whole Plan of Salvation discussion, part of the Restoration, talked about the Book of Mormon, read all of the Articles of Faith, and who knows what else! It was awesome! He was planning on coming to church on Sunday, but that fell through... not sure why yet. But we'll keep on him. It was way cool.

Oh, other cool story that hopefully someday materializes! We were coming out of the library last week, and the man walking in front of us was limping. I looked down, and realized that he was wearing a boot, so I asked him about it. He told us that he was diabetic, had a cut that had gotten infected, and the doctors were amputating bits of his toe. We felt bad, so asked him if he could use any help around his yard or house while he was in pain. He told us that his nieces had been doing a good job watching out for him, but you could tell in his face he was surprised by the offer. He thanked us for asking, and we each walked to our cars. As we were getting into our truck, though, he pulled up in his car and rolled down the window. "Are you guys from a church or something?" he asked. Of course, we said yes, and explained our calling. "Where and when do you guys meet?" Hahaha again, he didn't come to church this Sunday, but that was definitely a huge testimony-builder to me of the power of service, even if you don't actually do the service. 

Of course... sometimes it doesn't work out so well haha. We had tracted a street and found a lady who said she didn't have time, because she works night shifts and is just scattered all over during the day. To make it worse, her husband was out of town, so she had a lot of stuff she needed to do. We offered to help her with yardwork or something, but she turned us down and said she was good. As we walked away, though, we immediately decided we were going to come back later in the week and rake up her leaves, since her yard was covered. It seem like a nice, yet low-profile thing to do. Well.... that backfired haha. We got about 2/3 of the way done when a car pulled up to the house, and the lady's sister got out of the car and started tearing us apart. The lady we'd met tracting had seen us outside, and instead of either being thankful or even just asking us to please leave, she called her sister in a panic. So, the sister started yelling at us, cussing at us, everything. Haha It was quite an experience. Oh, Western New York.... hahaha.

Oh man! Tell me this isn't way cool! Earlier last week, we went over to talk to Krissa. Like always, we asked her how her Book of Mormon reading was going. She apologized and said she hadn't been reading much, because Matt's new schedule (he moved to second shift) was throwing her schedule off, too. We understood, and were about to offer solutions, when she interjected, "But, last night I did watch the Saturday morning session of General Conference." Wait.... what? Hahaha we hadn't even suggested that to her! I have no idea how she got the idea, but geez! Haha she loved it too! Of course, she laughed at the "Ask the missionaries" talk, because of how many random things Elder Inkley and I have done over there. Even more than that, though, there were two different talks that she decided she really wanted Matt to see. Haha she has such a testimony, she just needs to act on it and get baptized already! Haha I really need to develop patience....

Hmmm... other cool stories...

Well, this isn't really a story about anything I've done, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately. About thirty or so years ago, the missionaries here in Freedom knocked every door in Arcade (the village we live in). From every door, they only baptized one person. I can just say as a missionary that that would leave me very frustrated. However, that woman's name is Helen Owens. Eventually, Helen's husband, Joe, was also baptized. When Helen had taken the discussions, Joe had actually threatened a divorce, and even when he lightened up, he wanted nothing to do with it. After many years, though, he took the discussions himself (in private, not telling Helen), and was baptized. Also, Helen and Joe's two sons were baptized. One of those son's name is Kevin. Kevin married a girl named Sandra Lingle. He didn't push the church on her, but eventually she was drawn to it, and was baptized herself, despite some opposition from her strongly Catholic family. Since that time, not only have all seven of their kids been baptized (all of whom have it as a goal to go on a mission), but Sandra's sister Patrice and Patrice's six kids, Sandra's mom, Sandra's sister Angie, and most recently Sandra's brother Justin and Justin's family have been baptized. Kevin is also the Branch Mission Leader, and three of his kids and Sandra are all branch missionaries. I can think of four members of the branch who were brought in solely by the Owens, and I am sure a number of converts were very impressed by the Owens family. Now, going back to the beginning of this grotesquely long paragraph. The missionaries knocked every door in Arcade, and got one baptism. Literally half of the Freedom Branch has stemmed from that one baptism. Makes the work seem a little more worthwhile!

As a sidenote, we've started to talk a lot to Helen Owens about advice for Krissa because of just how many similarities there are between Helen and Joe's story and Krissa and Matt's. I hope that moves things somewhere.

Hmm... There really have been some cool experiences this past week that I'm sure I'm missing... Oh well. I guess this is what you're getting!

I do want to share one cool scripture thought, though. As a mission, we read Alma 26. Essentially it is Ammon's homecoming talk from his mission. He looks at what he and his brother's accomplished on their missions, and is high on life. However, in verse 10, his brother, Aaron, says, "Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting." Haha I love Ammon's response though! You'd almost have to read it, but here are the highlights of his answer, comprised of parts of verses 11-16:

"I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold my joy is full, year, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things. Behold, have we not great reason to rejoice? the Most High God has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell, he has brought them into his everlasting light, and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

Wow! Haha I love that chapter!! It really helped me, because--if you can't tell from my emails--I get really excited about some things, but I often almost acted as my own Aaron and made myself calm down to avoid being boastful. Ammon's response, though, was huge for me. I not only am allowed to be excited, I should be excited, because "who can glory too much in the Lord?" Haha I really had a full-on adrenaline rush the whole time I read that chapter. I definitely know how Ammon feels when he says, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." Missionary work is so crazy sometimes!

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

P.S..... it's snowing outside :'(

Oh, also, be sure to go to my blog brackenallen-thinkonthesethings.blogspot.com! I write my own little thoughts here and there and it would mean a lot for people back home to follow it as well!

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