Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29 Letter

I'm really running out of happy sounding salutations. So we'll just resort to:
"Hello everyone,"
I'm going to first start off briefly explaining the bummers of the week so that I can finish off with the good stuff haha.
Really, I just like finding new people to teach more than I like teaching, itself. See, when you knock on a door, it isn't that bad when no one answers, because they never really said that they would. If they do answer, but don't want to talk, it's all right; they never said they did want to talk. When they do talk, but then don't invite you back, it's no big deal; they never told you they planned on inviting you back. Really everything that happens is just a very positive step forward.
However, when you find people who do invite you back, it's realllllly frustrating when they change their minds. Sometimes they give you a call, sometimes they answer the door kind of surprised to see you back and say they aren't really that interested, and sometimes they're just not there, period. All of which are pretty frustrating.
Haha so of the 14 new investigators from last week, five are still willing to meet with us haha. Ohhhh the joys of missionary work!
Anyways, now to be happy again!
First, this made me pretty happy! We went back to the Boccichio family (that's the freaking huge Catholic family I told you about), and one of the girls, Gemma, was making a cake. I mentioned that Mom had sent me a cake to make for my birthday, but that I never was able to get around to it. She instantly jumped on that and told me to bring the cake mix over in the next few days. Well, when I did, her mom realized what Gemma was going to do. So what was her solution? Have a full-on birthday party this upcoming Wednesday! Haha they're so funny hahaha.
We also went to the Elliots, who are an elderly part-member family. Sister Elliot is a very adamant Catholic, but Brother Elliot has been a member most of his life. He has really poor health, but oh man, he is hilarious! He had a heart attack a while back that he said they had to ambulance him over to Buffalo because he had such a high percentage of blockage, the altitude of a helicopter would have killed him right on the spot. Well, for quite some time, he's had to use oxygen, and they recently told him that he should be on oxygen 100% of the time. But in his words, "The doctors don't know what they're talking about." So he was out  and about, without his oxygen, doing yard work with us, showing off his land, giving us a full tour of the Village of Wyoming, especially the entire cemetery, where he is the groundskeeper. (The cemetery was actually kind of cool. There are some graves that are from the early 1800's, there!) What was supposed to be a couple hours of yardwork instead turned into an hour of lunch, twenty minutes of yardwork, then a four hour tour haha. He was really excited, though, because he'd just got a portable oxygen tank "that fits right on my tractor and my four wheeler!" Sister Elliot didn't really like that he said that and chewed him out for going on his four wheeler the other day, but he pointed at the dog and just said, "Well, she wanted a ride! It's her fault." Haha ohh man, it was a funny day.
Then on Saturday (or Shabbat, if you ask them), we went over to Gila and Josef's. We had a good conversation as usual, and read 3 Nephi 15 and 16 with them. It's cool, because they understand the scriptures so well that everything kind of clicks in their heads the whole time haha. But she said two super interesting things. I don't know how this has never been brought up before, but apparently Josef (the Hebrew version of Joseph) means "One who adds." Haha whaaaaat?? How is that not one of our biggest points we use when talking about Joseph Smith? But now here's the bigger one. We had her say the closing prayer, and I couldn't believe it! She thanked Heavenly Father for coming to a fourteen year old boy to restore lost truths back to Christianity. Hahaha what the heck else am I supposed to teach her?! And why the heck won't she even consider coming to church or getting baptized if she already believes Heavenly Father came to Joseph!? Haha it blew my mind.
Hmm.... what else.... Oh the Zieglers!! That was that family of four that I told you a little about last week. I don't even remember what I said, though, so I'm just going to update based on what happened this week and hope I don't leave you in the dust! But we had dinner and a discussion over at Brother and Sister Crater's home, which worked out great! It was nice to have a casual environment to just talk about life with them and get to know them, plus have members who were already friends with the family. Then when we sat down for the real discussion, it was great, because it all went so smoothly. There was a lot of give and take in the discussions, they read the scriptures right along with us, and it went pretty well. They definitely respond a lot better to personal experiences than even scriptures, so we had to focus on that a lot. The downer of it all is that, so far at least, Brother Ziegler has kind of taken the approach of trying to find out why it ISN'T true. He started talking about how there are enough contradictions in the Bible already, but the Book of Mormon seems to just add more contradictions. Seeing what was happening here, I said, "Oh, so you've had a chance to read the Book of Mormon!" He then, not surprisingly, said he hadn't actually read much of it, but had just read some thingsabout it. We explained how important it was to actually read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. We each shared our testimony of when we started not trying to decide if the Book of Mormon were true, but really why it was true. When we had a real witness that it was the word of God, any challenge posed to it was easier to deal with, because we already knew the Book were true, and were confident that an answer did exist. Hopefully he'll take that seriously for our next appointment! The other frustrating part is that whenever we talked about our more unique doctrines (pre-mortal life, the Godhead, etc.) he'll say things along the lines of, "That's not how I learned it..." Well no duh!! Ha we wouldn't be here talking to you if you had already learned everything we know! I eventually told him just that (without the no duh part). Haha but really, while there are some clear frustrations in teaching him, I am VERY optimistic about where this can go. They would be a HUGE asset to the branch, and since they are a solid family with solid friendships in the branch, really could just work out beautifully!
Then the highlight of the week (probably, at least) was going to Mason's baptism in Freedom on Friday! I freaking love that branch and it was soooo great to see people there!! Haha I swear I could live there!! Everyone's so great! I love people there! And of course, it was awesome to see Mason get baptized, himself. He is such a good kid. I'm very happy that he finally went through with this! He seemed very happy there as well, which is a good thing. We also took David to the baptism with us, and I think he's really starting to give baptism some real thought. He has talked about it before, but he is so old and forgetful, I don't think things really stick in his mind until a LOT of repetition. But I think him being at a baptism kind of solidified the thought in his mind. Haha he just can't remember half of the commandments we have taught him, either, so it's just going to be an ever-ongoing process haha.
Hahahaha we had the funniest conversation with him on the way to Arcade, though! We were talking about Frank Sinatra somehow, and here's the conversation:
Him: Yeah, the ladies really liked him. Sometimes he would have three or four a night!
Us: Right, but that's against the law of chastity, right David?
Him: Well, it depends what religion you're in.
Us: If he were Mormon, though, it would be against the law of chastity, right?
Him: Actually, Mormons used to have four or five wives at a time!
Us: Right, but that was a long time ago, David...
Him: Frank Sinatra was a long time ago, too!
Us: ..... touché.....
Hahaha and that is our relationship with David Larson haha....
Well, there are other things I could probably talk about, but none are coming to my mind. I have a way cool spiritual thought that I've been thinking about, but I don't have enough time on the computer to write it... so just be watching my other blog! It'll be grand!!
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 22 Letter

First, and foremost, this new gmail compose message thing is the WORST. What a horrible surprise when I'm writing my family for the first time in a week!! C'mon Google!!!
Anyways, now for uplifting stuff.
Hello everyone!!!
Haha this was one of the craziest weeks of my whole mission! I'm just gonna jump to the chase: we got FOURTEEN new investigators this week! Now, a lot of times, we get new "investigators" when we go tracting, say we believe in Jesus and the Bible and that His church is on the Earth, ask if we can come back and talk more, and they say in a really bored voice, "yeah... sure. If we're home." But no, this week was LEGIT!
So first, on Monday night, we go out and contact a referral out in the middle of nowhere. And the weirdest thing happened. A nice, normal older lady came to the door. She asked if we wanted to come inside. We came inside. She asked if we wanted to sit down. We sat. She asked us if we had a message to share. We shared. She listened. She seemed to care. She asked questions. She read scriptures. Finally, when we were done, she committed to reading a couple chapters of the Book of Mormon and praying to know if they were true, and invited us back!! It was like how I imagined mission life would be! Haha so we are going back tonight to follow up. Hopefully it goes as well as last week! I'm a little nervous, because Elder Kelly excitedly called up the lady's son who had referred us to her, who then called his mom. When he called us back, I get the feeling that he was a little TOO excited with her, and that it might have pushed her away a little bit. But, hopefully all works well tonight!
Then on Wednesday, Elder Ivie came down to Warsaw for the day. He was there because he is our Zone Leader, but it was especially useful since he served here the first nine months of his mission. So we went and talked with a few people he'd known back when he was here. One of the families, in particular is INCREDIBLE! There are eight kids, ranging from eight years old to about 25, though the three oldest are all at college. But get this: They have family dinners every night and they have family prayer every night. The only downside is that they are VERY faithful Catholics. She kept calling herself a "daily-masser." Now I don't know if that literally means she goes to mass everyday (I don't even know if that is possible), but they are very, very involved in their church. Haha she said the funniest thing, though. After she told us that she loved it when the missionaries used to come over just to share faith stories, she said we could come over and get a glass of water whenever we wanted, then added, "Or a popsicle. Knowing what you guys do, I bet there are some days when you really just need a popsicle." Haha she even said that one day, they were in Long Beach, CA, and saw two guys riding bikes with white shirts, ties, and backpacks and they pulled over to give them a bottle of water and ended up sitting under a tree for an hour with them just talking about faith. SUCH a cool family! Even though conversion will be verrrry tough, she is more in-tune with the Spirit than 90% of members of the church, so who knows what's possible!
Hahaha then we met a lady named Dolly! She is 86 and is the absolutely funniest lady I've met in my entire life, I do believe! Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but she's hilarious. She broke her back a few months back, though, so we've been doing a bit of service here and there when we can find something to do.
Oh man... we have a lot of new investigators so I won't describe all of them just now. But those were some of the highlights.
Oh, I should talk bout these guys though! Yesterday, we started legitimately teaching a very neat family, the Zieglers. Apparently they'd had some contact with missionaries before, but clearly hadn't really been taught since they hadn't heard of Joseph Smith and thought we believed Jesus was one of the Apostles. But, he recently starting working with Brother Crater, who is one of the most all-star member missionaries I've ever met. Brother Crater actually asked Rob Ziegler if he'd be interested in taking the missionary discussions (kind of like what they suggested in Conference, huh?) and he said he would! We went over yesterday and had a pretty good first lesson with them, but more importantly all four members of the family agreed to keep meeting and actually start meeting at the Craters' house! I'm really excited about this opportunity because it's one of the only times (if not the only time) I've ever taught a whole family. I mean, I've met with whole families before, but never a classic sit-down discussion. It's so exciting! Haha plus, they have some of the coolest dogs ever, ten puppies, and a ferret. That's mostly beside the point, but still a cool sidenote.
Speaking of animals! On Tuesday, we milked cows!! I mean, sure, I've sat on a little stool and squeezed the udders into a bucket at Jensen Farm before. But I got to use the real milk-sucking machine this time! 80 cows! Haha granted, I did get kicked dozens of times, and one cow's poop splattered onto us.... but it was way cool! I think we're planning on doing it again in the future. It was good fun!

Hmm... what else is there....
Oh yeah! On Saturday, I successfully had the longest lesson of my life. We went over to Gila and Josef's at a little before four. We left their house a little before eight. Haha it was sooo cool though! We talked all about the layout of the Book of Mormon: what was before Christ, what was after, where each part was, what Ether is all about, the random spots where Mormon interjects and writes his own thoughts, etc. Then we talked all about the restoration of the priesthood, right down to the restoration of the different keys, like when Moses, Elijah, and Elias visited Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. We talked about being able to discern if a prophet is true or false by their fruits (i.e. the Book of Mormon). I don't even know what else we talked about... but we obviously covered a lot. It blew me away at how quick time went, though! It kind of felt like a slightly long lesson. Maybe an hour and a half or so. Then I looked at the clock and was like HOLY..... Haha it was nuts! But I really enjoyed it! I love those guys!
Oh, and do you remember me talking about tracting in the middle of a blizzard out in Bliss when I was still in Freedom? When we happened across the girl who had come to church just a couple weeks before? Well guess what!? She got baptized last Saturday!! It's very exciting!!
Then this Friday, Mason, another one of the investigators in Freedom who I taught for a while, is getting baptized. We're actually planning on going to that one with David. A) It will be nice to see Mason's baptism. B) It will be nice to see everyone  down there again. And C) It will be way cool to get David to see a baptism! I'm pretty excited for all three things!
Hmmm.... I don't know what else there is to talk about, though. But, 'twas a fun week. I think I get a bigger thrill out of new investigators than I do with baptisms, in all honesty. By the time someone gets baptized, you kind of see it coming. It's a lot more exciting to have someone say that yes, they would like to learn more. That's a MUCH bigger shock! Haha
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 15 Letter

This week has been an interesting one. We had next to no investigators when I first got here, so we have spent a huge chunk of time trying to build up our teaching pool. That means I have significantly fewer stories to share. But I'll see what I can come up with!
First, I guess I could share a cool story about David. Well, let me give you a little bit of a recap on how our teaching with him has gone, because it's been a new experience, for sure haha. Keep in mind, he's 72. So, it's kind of like teaching Mr. Krueger. He's very friendly... just hard to keep on topic. It's like we talk about the Word of Wisdom, which he says he agrees with because it will keep us healthy, which he thinks is important because he is old, which means he's seen a lot of things in his life, like this one time he got in a car accident, but he has a really nice car right now and likes to cruise the countryside at about 140 mph, and on and on and on. Then we try to somehow relate cars to coffee. It has been tough sometimes haha. But, heck, it's been a new experience! Haha so, we've had to go over every two or three days and just teach a principle or two at a time. The problem has been that he is really willing to take our word on everything. Normally that's not so bad, but we need him to get a real testimony, not just a general acceptance. He's never had much of a habit of prayer, and I don't know if he remembers that he needs to pray about what we taught about by the time we leave most nights. BUT! something cool happened Saturday and Sunday!
So Saturday, he was convinced someone had broken into his house and stolen his wallet the night before. Really, his whole story didn't make much sense, so we kind of assumed he was mistaken. So, we invited him to pray for help finding his wallet. (Hahaha, as a funny sidnote, his prayer to close our discussion that evening was, "Dear Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for sending me these two friends. And please help them to find my marbles." hahahahahaha.) The next day, we called him to see if he was planning on coming to church. He said he was feeling sick, but was really excited. He told us he'd prayed before he went to bed, and found his wallet almost as soon as he woke up! HE was the one who acknowledged it as an answer to his prayer, too, which is super exciting!
We have been receiving referrals left and right. Literally, though. I have received more referrals in my three weeks in Warsaw than I did in eight months in Freedom. The problem is I am evidently REALLLLY bad at contacting referrals. We contacted seven last week, and only one invited us to come back. I swear I can have that much luck with tracting! But, we have another ten that we still haven't contacted, so hopefully that turns out a little better. It was really funny, too, because I can think of at least four testimonies yesterday where people started advocating for us haha. They kept on talking about how quickly we get in contact with referrals. So that's a good sign, at least!
One of the referrals, Sandy, we contacted two weeks ago became a cool story, this week, actually. We had gone out to contact her, and had a pretty good conversation with her, actually. We talked about the whole Plan of Salvation, and she seemed fairly intrigued. She then told us that she'd actually been to the Sacred Grove. "Something happened there," she said. "There is such a different feeling when you get in there and when you come back out." But she didn't invite us in or even set up a time that we could come back. She just told us to call her sometime and "maybe" we could work out a time to meet up again. I wasn't too convinced about anything.
But then this week, we got a call from Tayler Petranec, whose husband had referred Sandy behind his wife's back (she's really better friends with his wife than with him). She said that she had just received a call from Sandy, who was wondering when pageant was. She said that she wishes that she'd known we were coming over, because she just couldn't invite us in because she has dogs that bite, I guess, but that we were "very nice young men." But the important part is that she now really wants to go to the Hill Cumorah Pageant!! Not just hypothetically, either. Once we figured out the dates that pageant was, we found out she wanted to know so that she could book a hotel in Palmyra during that time. I was pretty stoked!!
We are also working on getting Gila and Josef (the Jews) out to Palmyra. This week was interesting to be teaching them. The way she talks, it's almost as though she believes every bit of it. When talking about going to the Sacred Grove, she is really excited about it, because she expects it to be just as spiritual as it was when she went to Abraham's burial site. For a Jew to put the Sacred Grove at the same level as Abraham's grave is saying something. Anytime she talks about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, it's as though it is fact. Which is a good thing, but then it just confuses the heck out of us because she does the same thing when she talks about Baha'i, Judaism, or anything that isn't Islam, Jehovah's Witness or ChristianDOM (she always intentionally emphasizes the dom part hahaha). She gets super excited when we point out connections between the Book of Mormon and the Bible, like Mulek, Ezekiel 37:16-17 compared to 2 Nephi 3:12, or anything like that. She was ecstatic when we told her that the keys to the gathering of Israel were restored by Moses and the keys to the turning the hearts of the children to their fathers were restored by Elijah. But then when we invite her to come to church or anything, she starts talking about how she knows our job is to "recruit members," which is clearly not the direction we want to go. But, what can you do? She likes us enough we'll just keep going over and hopefully make magic happen! The Holy Ghost can do some cool stuff, so who knows!?
We also started teaching Renate this week. She is the wife of a member of the branch, and has actually been coming to church for years now, maybe more consistently than her husband. She didn't seem too intent on taking legitimate missionary discussions, but did agree to read at least a chapter of the Book of Mormon with us every week. So we went over and read 1 Nephi 1 with her this week. She is pretty frustrating sometimes, not going to lie. She is convinced that every church can be true, as long as its members try to do good in the world. But then she seems very doubtful of a lot of things, because she's seen TONS of bad in the world. She actually lived in Germany during World War II, so you can imagine the kind of stuff she's seen and experienced. She really struggles with the idea that God would let evil exist, and in some cases prevail. But, the really frustrating part is that I think she knows the Church is true, just doesn't want to admit that her philosophy is off. Really, she runs away from the Spirit. Whenever any of us - even her own husband - were bearing testimony, she would change the subject, sometimes even in the middle of a sentence. In a small way this is a good thing, because she definitely recognizes when the Spirit is strongest. We just need her to not run from it. Luckily, we have weekly visits scheduled with her!
Welllll... hopefully that fills your fancy! Haha and hopefully we can find some new, cool investigators to talk more about for next week. I don't want you getting bored with the same ol' people every week!
But hey! You should read THIS! These were my thoughts on how well Lehi teaches us to receive revelation in the very first chapter of the Book of Mormon. Read it!
Oh, quick question for any of you that might be intelligent. For the past two weeks, I've randomly kept feeling a really warm feeling on the side of my ankle. It's not a real burning or anything like if it were really hurt. It really just feels like there's an air vent blowing on one side of my ankle. But it happens every two or three hours, and is a very distinct feeling. Anyone know if this is a problem? Haha Hopefully I'm not dying from the ankle, up! Let me know if I, in fact, am!
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 8 Letter

Happy 9 month anniversary of my mission a few days ago!
And happy 20 year anniversary of my life today!
This is cause for a song!!!
Happy happy birthday, me dear!
Happy days will come to me all year!
If I had a wish than it would be....
A happy happy birthday to me from me!
Hmm.... now what else is there to talk about.... Haha
Well, conference was pretty great, eh? It's funny to look at my notes. Most people get about a third to three quarters of a page. Then with President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland, I don't think I'll need to read their talks in the Ensign because I essentially wrote everything they said. Especially President Uchtdorf's Priesthood Session talk! Holy cow! Women, read it when you can! Or watch it now, HERE. You'll thank me!
Hmm... missionary work. What have I done. Well, I guess first, it's worth noting we got Gila and Josef to come to the Sunday Afternoon Session yesterday! Gila, especially, was super impressed and was taking notes the whole time. David also came to both the normal sessions on Saturday, and was pretty impressed. (Although, we then had to spend some time convincing him that they weren't professional public speakers who cost a lot of money haha.)
Geez.... I can't think of anything this week. I'm really sorry haha. It's really weird to think I've only been in Warsaw for two weeks. It feels like it's been months since I got here! Plus, we've spent so much time tracting and contacting former investigators that everything kind of blends together. Holy cow... I can't think of any stories to share :( this is the worst email home of all time....
OH!! Here's a pretty funny story! haha I almost don't know if I should put it here, because a) I think it makes me a felon and b) makes it a little harder to advocate for money from home. But... it's so funny that I can't help but share it! We were at a less active young lady's house, and doing the coolest object lesson of all time. You take a bill of money and soak it in rubbing alcohol, completely covering it. This symbolizes baptism. Then, when the "fire of affliction" comes around - in the lesson, literal fire - but since you have been baptized you are protected; the bill is untouched by the flame. But what if you bring it to fire again? It burns up. UNLESS you renew the baptism (aka the Sacrament)! If you do that, you will be protected. Before I explain the rest of the story, here's proof that it can work  

Haha so we were showing this lady why it was important for her to come back to church to partake of the Sacrament. I took a 20 out of my wallet, asked her if she would protect it if it was hers, doused it in alcohol, and burned away. Annnnnd then it turned to ash. No idea what happened haha. We had just learned how to do it the day before. And it failed. I couldn't figure out what went wrong, so logically I tried it again (this time with a one dollar bill).... annnnd it burned to a crisp to. To make it worse, we also melted her place mat haha. All in all, I ended up spending about $27 on this lesson when you include the rubbing alcohol and lighters we bought on our way over there haha. On the bright side, I think it was a pretty memorable lesson for her? The things I do for God's children!
Oh, another cool story! It goes to show that God works in the coolest small and simple ways to make His work go forward. We were driving to a member's house for dinner last week, and Elder Kelly randomly asked to stop so we could tract a street. It was, in all honesty, a really run down street and I wasn't too optimistic. Well, we knocked every door, and only had one follow up appointment. It was with a young lady who we didn't say much more than we're missionaries before she told us she was really busy and that we'd have to come back later if we wanted to talk to her. We set up an "appointment" for the next morning. When we went back, not surprisingly, she wasn't there. As we walked back to our car, though, this big guy tried to get our attention as he walked towards us. "So, you're the new elders, huh?" he asked. Clearly, a statement like that got us intrigued. Apparently he'd met with the missionaries at some point in the past (we really don't know when), and had enjoyed their company but never advanced too far. He said he'd been to jail for a couple of years, though. And, in his exact words, "I need to get my life back in order. I need to get baptized." To make it even better, when we went back to meet with him once (even though now HE wasn't there), his sister who lives next door called out the window, "Hey, can I have one of your books in English?" Haha what!? We asked her if that meant she had one in another language, which apparently she did - in Spanish. She just only speaks a little Spanish, and can't read it hardly at all. But for the past year or so, she's been having a friend read it to her and help explain the parts that she didn't understand. I have no idea what will come from either person, but there is no question we were lead to that street. That chain of events is too remarkable to be coincidental!
I dunno, we really are working hard, I just can't think of much else to tell you about. David is progressing well, still. He's kind of hard to teach because every question we ask him just leads into a story from the past, 95% of which we've heard a dozen times. But, he's definitely grasping bits and pieces, so we'll just keep on repeating things. Plus, he's already more active than a lot of the branch, so that's a good sign!
I guess I can just explain a little more about Warsaw. The outskirt areas are really a lot like Freedom. Very, very rural, with more farms than people, just about. Then there are a few small towns, like Castile and Pike, where there are people, but a lot of them are old and very set in their ways. Warsaw, itself, is the most unique to Freedom, though. It has a big, old-school Main Street that is pretty cool. Wow, that was the most pathetic explanation of the area, ever. That told you just about nothing haha. Pretty much all you need to know is it's really rural, except in Warsaw itself, where it is kind of like a traditional old small town. We've had some good luck tracting, though, which is definitely a good sign as far as the type of people here. Anyone willing to listen to a couple boys at their doorstep must be reasonably nice people! Plus, we've been getting referrals, galore! I think we got about 15 in the past two weeks! That is pretty crazy, and definitely is a good sign about the involvement of the branch here. And we have the coolest senior missionary couple I've ever met! Their name is the Woodworth's, and I don't even know what to say about them other than they are incredible! I've butt heads with a lot of the couples in the past, but these ones are legit! Plus, Elder Woodworth is actually originally from New York, and pointed out that there is an opposition in all things; so, since there is definitely some of the greatest wickedness and hardness in the nation out here, that automatically means there is some of the strongest untapped spirituality in the nation out here. Quite a different message than I've heard from a lot of the westerner couples haha. People who have spent their whole lives in Utah struggle out here sometimes haha. But the Woodworths are just great!
Umm... that's about all I've got. I'm on a huge spiritual high right now from Conference, though, so I'm ready to just go baptize the world! Haha we had a couple lessons last night, and you could DEFINITELY tell the difference in how we bore testimony yesterday compared to even two days before. Should be an exciting week!
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 1 Letter

Hello from Warsaw!
I think I was in Freedom too long and became accustomed to the demographics there. On Saturday, there were a bunch of Easter egg hunts, and as we were sitting in a restaurant eating and watching nice, happy families walk by with both parents, four kids, and smiles, I said, "Wow, people are pretty normal here." Then at church, I made a comment along the lines of, "This branch is pretty Mormony..." Elder Kelly looked at me shocked both times haha.
But, I'm starting to settle in here. On my first day here, actually, we went over to the Petranec Family for dinner, and I ended up getting claimed by Lily, their three year old daughter. She went around telling everyone, "This is my elder." Haha she's awesome! Here's a couple pictures with her!

Now for my favorite couple to teach! Their names are Gila and Josef, and they are Messianic Jews!! How sick is that!? Well, they have been meeting with the missionaries a long time by now, a little over a year, I think, but are pretty set in their Jewish ways. Well, we went over there this week and gave the coolest lesson about the gathering of Israel! First we showed them Ezekiel 37:16-17 and talked about what the two sticks might be. Then we talked about John 10:16, and how Christ wouldn't have yet referred to the Gentiles as "his sheep," but it had to be referring to the lost tribes of Israel. Perfect set up for what came from there! We talked about how Lehi and Ishmael were from the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, and how much of the Book of Mormon referenced promises made to Israel. Eventually we got to 3 Nephi, where Christ says that the Nephites are some of the other sheep of which he spoke. Then we showed where he told them the promises of Israel still definitely apply to them, because the Lord doesn't forget his covenants. Finally, we showed them where it says that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a sign that the Gathering of Israel has already commenced. Well, after meeting with the missionaries for over a year, they finally committed to reading from the Book of Mormon, starting with 3 Nephi 15 on until the end of 3 Nephi!
Hmm... we spent a lot of our week tracting, which is always fun haha. I haven't done that in nearly three months, so I was a little rusty at first, but it came around! Over the course of the week, we got six new investigators and eight referrals to contact!
Hmm... I guess I'll just share the cool story right now, because I don't know when else to share it! So we were walking down the street, kind of tracting here and there, and we saw this guy outside cleaning off his Thunderbird. We started walking up to him, and he said, "Sorry boys, I'm Catholic!" with his hand up, waving us away. "Oh, that's okay," Elder Kelly responded, and we kept walking towards him. We ended up talking with him for about fifteen minutes about his car, then transitioned to his family. We then transitioned from his family to the family's role in the Plan of Salvation! After talking for probably 45 minutes, we set up a follow up visit for Saturday. When the visit came, we got in a semi-decent Restoration lesson with him, although he kept getting side tracked. But, the highlight was he committed to coming to church with us the next day, since it was Easter Sunday. Well, he not only stayed the full three hours with us (side note, he is the first investigator I've ever brought to church who was wearing a suit), but then came to a member's house for Easter dinner. He followed us back home, and as we were saying goodbye, he asked, "So, what do you think? Should I join this church." "Well.... yeah!" was our kind of awkward reply. "What do I have to do?" Hahaha long story short, the same guy who four days earlier didn't want to talk with us because he was Catholic is planning on getting baptized on April 26th!
Speaking of baptisms, Saturday was an interesting experience. One of my investigators from Freedom got baptized. It was kind of a bummer to not be there for it, but it was a cool realization about how happy I was for him regardless of if I was there or not. I figured that is a good sign haha.
Oh, Elder Kelly showed me a way cool scripture that he found in studies a few days back. It's in Doctrine and Covenants 133:58-59:
"To prepare the weak for those things which are coming on the earth, and for the Lord's errand in the day when the weak shall confound the wise, and the little one become a strong nation, and two shall put their tens of thousands to flight. And by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thrash the nations by the power of the Spirit."
How cool is that! Weak things? That's me!!! I can thrash! I especially love the phrase, "two shall put their tens of thousands to flight." Hmm... what aspect of the Lord's errand involves two of something? Missionaries!! I thought it was pretty neat.
Then we also found this gem in our companionship study, when we were deeply studying Habakkuk for an hour. It's chapter 2, verse 15:
"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness."
So, remember that. The Lord has the weak go about doing his work, and he is right there with us. And we shouldn't get people drunk just so we can see their nakedness.
Haha but Elder Kelly and I are getting along great so far. I'm finishing up his training, right now. His last companion was about to go home, so didn't do a ton with him, but he's a stud and pretty much did everything himself anyways. He set all the goals, did all the training program, and even read his three pages of the missionary handbook each day haha. It's hard, in a way, because the members are now used to dinner meaning we go over at six and stay there the rest of the evening, and I don't like being the mean spoil sport who says we have to leave.... but we're working on easing out of that habit. Well... that's about what I've got! Things are moving along out here! 
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen