Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dec. 31 Letter

Ready for a crazy week?

First, let me start off with the highlight before I get all drudgey haha.


Now, I have set baptismal dates for like eight or nine investigators on my mission so far, but none have made me nearly as excited as this one. Granted, it is a ways off (we set it for exactly seven weeks from Saturday, since that's the last Saturday we can guarantee I'll still be in Freedom), but I'm so stoked!

Really, we've spent the whole week with her. We were with the family for Christmas Day, where we had an awesome dinner (T-bones!!), called home, and just hung out. Then Wednesday, we helped them tear down the ceiling tiles of their kitchen and replace it with wood boards. Thursday, we went to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert in Buffalo with them. Then Saturday, we taught her the rest of the commandments that we are supposed to teach and she agreed to a baptismal date!

TSO was waaaay sick, too. I've only been to a handful of concerts, but this shattered all of them. Holy cow, they are talented! Plus, since I'm a missionary and all, I should acknowledge it had a really spiritual message, too. All of their concerts revolve around a story line, that is narrated by the same guy each time. This story was about an angel who God sent to the Earth to figure out who was best carrying on the work of His Son. He ends up meeting a wide array of people in New York City, some who are clearly good people like a homeless guy who tells Christmas stories to kids, and some who aren't, such as a businessman who is described as a Grinch and has hated Christmas ever since his son was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and was sent to an institution because he was going to be so handicapped. Well, to ruin it all, the angel kind of follows everyone around and watches as even the businessman eventually lightens up and even goes and finds his son, who can now hear and walk, even though he can't talk. When the angel goes back to God, he reports who he thinks is best carrying on the work of Christ, saying one name... then another... then another... until he has listed off every person he met, including the businessman, because he realized how much everyone can change and live a Christ-like life.

Haha.... hmmm... how can I make that relate to missionary work? Hahaha I definitely wasn't expecting it to be quite so spiritual, but it was awesome!! In the MTC, they teach about "revelation through prayer," "revelation through the Book of Mormon," and "revelation through church attendance," but I think they left out "revelation through rock concerts."

Nowwww for the downer side of the week. Without going into too much detail--since I really can't--Amanda's boyfriend, Jacob, got out of jail this week and has lead to crazy amounts of drama, including police reports, Child Protection Services, and who knows what else. It's been really hard on me for a number of reasons, all stemming from how close I've gotten with that family. It's rough, because there really isn't a ton that I can do as a missionary, because I can't get involved in domestic issues like that at all. We are still meeting with Amanda, obviously, but we can't meet in her apartment at all anymore, even with a member present, to avoid any possible accusations being made against us. Then, it's just really hard. We promise people that as they develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, their lives seem more peaceful and more bearable. And then this happens? It's been really hard... Plus, she trusts us so much that she gives us all of the details... which creates new, added stress.

You know how it feels when your house is really warm on a really cold day, and you keep going in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out? It's exhausting, right? It makes you feel sick. Eventually, you just really want to stay inside. Haha that is how I feel this week. It's like extreme happiness, extreme stress, extreme happiness, extreme stress, extreme happiness, extreme stress, extreme happiness, extreme stress, on and on and on. 

Haha when I get done with this mission, I will have experienced it all. More and more I'm understanding what one elder said in his last testimony as a missionary when I first got to New York, "If anyone needs the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, it's Western New York."

In the Freedom Branch, there's a whole lot of other crap going down, too. Some of it we're involved in, some of it we aren't. Either way, it's getting really stressful.

It's made me think a lot about the days leading up to Christ's birth as described in the Book of Mormon. A few years before, Samuel the Lamanite came and prophesied of the coming of the Messiah, and listed a number of signs that the people should look out for. As is always the case with the gospel, some of the people accepted it, while others didn't. After many years, the promised signs still hadn't shown, and man did persecution pick up! Eventually, the unbelievers set a specific date that either the signs be given, or anyone who doesn't deny Christ will be put to death. In 3 Nephi 1, Nephi is getting VERY stressed out, leading right up to the very night before he is about to be killed for waiting for the Savior. He prays for quite a long time, when he is answered with the following from the Lord:

Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

This was the very first Christmas Eve. The bottom line is that God will aways "fulfill all that which [He] has caused to be spoken." Sometimes we have to wait it out through the most dire of circumstances. Whether it is situations like that of my investigators' or like that of the Nephites', the Lord will never put us through more than we can bear, and His promises will be fulfilled.

Haha these two stories made me totally miss a much more comical one! We were going to a scheduled appointment on Friday, but when we got there, Stephanie came out and said we probably didn't want to stay, because one of their sewage pipes had burst in the basement. We eventually convinced ourselves to convince her we wanted to stay and help. So we spent the next hour carrying poop-buckets up from the basement and pouring it out in the back yard. What a crappy visit! (hahahahahahah!)

Oh, I also threw a few pictures here. The one that I didn't explain yet is our Nativity reenactment at the Owens' house Christmas Eve. We also had a gingerbread house competition, went carroling, all the traditional stuff!

Also, if any of my friends are reading this, I know you have a break from school right now. What a perfect time to write me!! Splendid!!

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

Elder Bracken Allen

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