Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 8 Letter

Shalom, shalom!
What a week it has been! I'm pondering on what order to tell the stories in. Soooo, I'll just wing it.
First, we got to meet President Francis on Friday. He's 6' freaking 7"!!! He actually played basketball for BYU his freshman year. No worries, Elder Fordham and I refrained from yelling "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" It was tough, though. Ha, he really is good at basketball, though. He would come in to get a different missionary for interviews, and would drain a three-pointer or dunk it (yes, while wearing a suit) every time he came into the gym. Like I said, he brought four sons with him, ranging from 4th grade to 11th. He has two other sons on missions right now, another son who is going to BYU, and a daughter who is married and pregnant with her second kid. He is definitely a very personable guy! That's for sure!
Then of course there was the Fourth of July! President gave us permission to stay out late one night for fireworks, so we went out to the "Ring of Fire" on Silver Lake on the third. Amy's grandparents live right along the lake, which is debatably part of the Finger Lakes, just by far the smallest. Anyways, at about 10:15, a police boat sounds its siren and goes all around the lake, signaling to everyone to light the flares that have been put out every 5-10 feet around the lake, hence "Ring of Fire." Then, the fireworks start, which are really cool because they reflect right off the lake. It was fantastic!

But now for more mission-y stuff. On Tuesday, we spent most the day at the Palmyra Temple! The Johns family got their endowments and were sealed together. Brother Johns was baptized last summer, where Sister Johns has been a member her whole life, though less active for most of it. I haven't been to the temple for at least six months, so it was very cool for me personally. But, obviously I wasn't the reason we were there haha. The sealing was very cool. I have seen a couple different sealings, but this was the first time I have seen young kids sealed to their parents, so that was very powerful. As Brother Johns was carrying Aiden, his 2-year-old son, out of the sealing room, we heard him whisper, "You're mine forever now, son!" Haha it was just great.

Looking into the Sacred Grove from the back of the temple

Guess what!? Dolly is reading the Book of Mormon!! We have been begging her to do it for months now, and she finally started. She read the first couple chapters in the normal sized book, but then we got her a large-print version, and she's been sailing through ever since. As of Saturday night, she was on 1 Nephi 15. She's been really struggling wrapping her head around the idea of priesthood authority. Not that the Book of Mormon really covers that, but hopefully it will help her see that the Church has something other religions lack. I was just blown away when she said she'd started reading!
We also finally got Jay to say a prayer with us there! He still hasn't come to church, unfortunately. But, we also got him the Book of Mormon on CD, which hopefully helps him.
Okay, so Tops Girl! She is great! We met with her twice this past week. The first time we went over the whole Restoration, and she was way into it. Then, later in the week, we went over the first half of the Plan of Salvation, but didn't even have time to get past our purpose on Earth, because we got into so many great conversations stemming from what we were teaching. It's cool to teach her, because she asks questions and actually puts thought into her answers when we ask her questions. She has two daughters, like I have said, and it has been really helpful to her to compare her love for them to the love God has for His children. Now she is starting to come up with her own analogies between Heavenly Father's interaction with us and our interaction with our parents or kids. At one point, we were talking about repentance and forgiveness, and she chimed in, "I guess it's like with Devyn (her 5-year-old daughter with special needs). No matter how naughty she is, even if she does the same thing over and over and over, I still love her and accept her hug for apology. I don't even really count the times she does it eventually." We also talked about how the best way to hurt her would be to attack her kids, which is why Satan is getting revenge on Heavenly Father by attacking us, even though really he could care less about what happens to us (Alma 30:60). Pretty much everything we have taught her we've been able to put into the context of her relationship with her girls, and it's all been clicking fantastically. It's probably one of the most idealized teaching situations I've ever taught in, it's bizarre! When her boyfriend asked her why she was meeting with us, she told the story about her praying the morning before we called her. "Oh yeah.... you can't ignore that," was all he could say, haha.
We also are finally going to start to teach Shauna!! She is the girlfriend of a recent convert, Justin Tozier. We always eat Sunday lunch over at the Toziers, and she is always there. She might as well be baptized already, but instead hasn't even taken the discussions. Well, we circumvented her worries about taking the lessons, by just inviting her to come to Justin's new member lessons! In the new member lessons, we just repeat all the same lessons, going into a little more detail on parts of it. So, she'll be there to hear everything, just in a little less intimidating of an environment for her.
Pageant is right around the corner! The way it works for us is we can go on our own one of the eight nights, but if we go more than that, we have to take an investigator, less active member, or recent convert with us. Right now, as long as no one's plans fall through, Elder Westwood and I will be there every night! I'm stoked. We'll be going with Lee Rissinger and his family, Shauna and Justin, Dolly, Amy's family, and all sorts of other people. It should be way cool! For some of them, we hope it's a big spiritual boom to help them stop stalling. For others, we just hope it will give us some way of actually talking about the gospel with them. Either way, we're way excited for it, though it's going to be a VERY busy week. It doesn't start until 9 each night, which means we won't be getting home until 12 to 1 each morning haha. But, should be fun!
Well, the fifth was my hump mark. I am technically "almost done" with my mission now.... Scary to think about, really. I could ramble on about all my thoughts about that for another ten paragraphs, but for the sake of both of our time, I won't. Instead, I'll just show you pictures of me burning a shirt to commemorate the occasion! (No worries, Mom, it was one that had been destroyed by muddy salt water while riding a bike in the winter.)

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

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