Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30 Letter

Well... Here goes nothing, eh?

Ha, I really couldn't have asked for a better last week. Monday night
we spent with Dan. Tuesday we saw Barbie, and just happened across
three other people we hadn't seen in a while while walking around,
then we spent the evening with the Lonsberrys. Wednesday we saw Randy
and had the evening with the Larsons (quads included this time!).
Thursday we taught Trevor, Sis Schumaker, and the Walkers. Friday we
taught Ileana. Saturday we went tracting one last time and had quite
the experience--three doors, three people talked to, a full 30-40
minute lesson after being invited inside, and two new investigators!
Sunday we visited Michael in prison, Sally, and had dinner with the
Footes. It really was all perfect.

It is weird to think of a mission as ending. Elder Russon and I were
talking yesterday, and I decided that I disagree with the usual
sentiment that my mission "went fast." It's not so much that my
mission seemed to go by in a blink, but more like it's been 21 years
long--as though it's just been my whole life. And so it's not so much
that it is ending "already," but that it is ending at all. I don't
know what to really make of it.

But, what can you do? Haha I've compared it to leaving on a mission in
the first place, where the difference is that I had a choice whether
to go on a mission or not, as opposed to now. Originally, I didn't
like the current circumstances. But now, I think it is a good thing
that I don't have to deal with any stresses of what to do... It's
happening, so might as well roll with it haha.

Well, I know this is short, but I have stuff to do today, and I'll see
you soon, anyways!

I love you, but I don't miss you (quite yet),
Elder Allen

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 23 Letter


Well.... Here goes nothing, eh? One more week.

Unfortunately (kind of), Ileana's baptism didn't happen this week. She is very ready, but I like the reasoning for waiting. Her uncle and aunt and cousins recently reactivated, right at the same time her mom did. So, she wants her uncle, Brother Torres, to baptize her. This was a little awkward at first, because we knew he was still smoking, but deciding if he is able to perform priesthood ordinances is under bishop's discretion, not ours. However, when she asked him, he was the one to bring up that he didn't feel like he would be worthy for it. So, not only did it save any potential awkwardness, it was neat to see him acknowledge the importance of both the ordinance and the word of wisdom. So, he set the goal to be off cigarettes in two weeks and do the baptism then! I realllly hope it works out, since that'll be the time when you guys are out here. Any later than that, and I don't get to see it! Haha. But, either way, she is doing great!

Hmm... really, compared to the past two weeks, this one was pretty tame. We had zone conference on Tuesday. It was all right, nothing too fancy. What was really weird, though, was at the end saying a farewell testimony... Haha it's one of those things that you know is coming for about two and a half years, but when it gets there, it's pretty strange. I remember back in the weeks leading up to my mission, people would always ask how I felt, and I never really had an answer for them. My whole life had been not a missionary, so I had no idea what to even expect. In Matt Call's words, "Pretty much your whole life up to this point ends once you get to the MTC." Ha, I recognize that reading that, it could sound dismal, but he didn't say it dismally, and it ends up being pretty accurate and not dismal in the least. Now, two years later, I feel like I'm right back in the same boat. I don't really know what to expect with the real world after two years of this being my world.

But this week is turning into a number of "goodbyes." We have a dinner appointment scheduled every night (I'm going to be lumpy...), and that is after a number of people intentionally did a goodbye dinner last week. Blech... I hate goodbyes haha. Transfers are hard enough for me, let alone getting transferred to Wyoming/Utah.

I am glad, though, that you are all coming out, because it makes it so that this whole week doesn't just turn into nothing but goodbyes. That will help, for sure.

Anyways, I am running lowish on time, so I will give a quick recap of the week! Haha besides... I can just tell you anything else in person.

We still met with Ileana a lot. She has been sick, so slightly less enthusiastic, but still pretty legit. Haha she was upset when she found out I was going home, saying, "But.... you're my favorite elder!" Ha then she complained to her mom. That made me laugh a good bit.

We also taught Jim again. I believe I told you about him last week. Anyways, we happened upon him a couple weeks back, longtime teacher and football coach, has lung cancer, really great guy. Well, we left him a Book of Mormon the first time we talked with him. By the second time, he'd finished 1 Nephi. By the third, he'd finished 2 Nephi. He loves what we have to say, but it is quite frustrating, because he keeps saying, essentially, "Yeah, that's a lot like what we believe in the Catholic Church." This is even things like premortal life and the kingdoms of glory. I really wanted to tell him that Origen got posthumously excommunicated from the Catholic Church, largely because of his belief in premortal life. But, Elder Moulton made a good point that he probably had some pretty far-fetched views of Mormonism beforehand, so it is catching him off guard that we are very much Christian. "Eventually," Elder Moulton said, "he will start looking for the important differences instead of the similarities." Unfortunately, he somewhat dropped us at the end of this last lesson. Yet, as we were leaving, he got the Book of Mormon right back out and started reading again! Haha, so they are planning on swinging back over in another two weeks or so. Giving him enough time to not be pushy, but still making sure he has the opportunity.

We also met with Randy! He is a frustrating case. He wants to do good... but is in a rough spot since he is on probation, doesn't have a driver's license, and has a less-than-supportive wife. But, what REALLY makes it frustrating is now he is even stalling on his scripture reading. He was soooo gung-ho at reading the Bible and Book of Mormon, but now he's completely tapered off of reading either. But, we are meeting regularly, again. So that is a good thing.

I also went on another exchange to Warsaw this week. We did a lot of the same things as last time, but this time around, Patti from Freedom drove out to take us out to dinner! To make it even better, she brought Debbie Jones with her! It was great to see both of them!

Buuuut, like I said, I'm running low on time. 

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 16 Letter


This whole two areas thing makes stuff pretty cool! We now have a baptism scheduled forSunday! Iliana committed to be baptized and should be good to go. We are pretty excited for her!

Really, his whole week has been eventful. On Wednesday, the ward did a "strawberry social," which is essentially just a potluck dinner with ice cream and strawberries afterwards. The point is, the ward did an activity! It is the first one since I have been here. Really, it's the first of anything out on by the ward that wasn't the usual meetings on Sunday or mutual on Wednesday. So, we missionaries jumped on it, and had five or six investigators there! The most exciting of these were Mallard and Diane, who have developed a good friendship with the Moons, but haven't met anyone else or came to anything. But they were there and seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Then yesterday, Dan came to church!! That probably made my whole week. So, he's been in the hospital for about 12 days with a ruptured hernia. Since he has a bad liver and a tumor on his pituitary gland, surgery was really risky. So they were trying to find alternatives. Pretty much every day was spent crossing one more alternative off the list. The Moons went and visited him a couple of times, and actually last Monday I spent half my pday going to visit him with the Moons. (I'll tell you more about that pday in a second haha.) Well, on Friday he was finally released from the hospital, and on Saturday we went with him to rearrange his antique/refinishing store. While there, he mentioned that he had officially resigned his position as pastor (Well... kinda. The church apparently rejected his resignation haha. So instead he is on "indefinite leave." But, they've hired an interim pastor, and Dan says he has no intention of going back haha.), and was excited to be able to go around and visit other churches now. "Wait a minute," he then said, "What time is your service at?" So we told him, and the next day he was there! It was a kind of goofy sacrament meeting, being Father's Day and all, but overall I think he quite enjoyed it. The goofiness might have even helped, because it included two youth speakers (he has always loved that we have non-clergy speak regularly, and I imagine youth only make that better for him) and the primary sang (and we have a HUGE primary). Regardless, I was stoked to seem him there!

Trevor also came to church, which was great to see. He lives in what used to be Nunda's area. And for a while was doing remarkably well. He was at church weekly, was reading the scriptures a ton, and was getting more and more vocal in Sunday school. It was great! But then he went to drug rehab, which naturally did wonders for his word of wisdom issues but also really slowed down his progression. We made it over there for the first time in quite a few weeks, and I think it was beneficial that I was there because even though I had never been the missionary teaching him, neither of the other two missionaries had been here when he was at the top of his game. So, we had a good conversation about doing the little things that bring in the spirit, and while it went fairly well, I was unconvinced that he was convinced. But, when we texted him Saturday, we learned that he'd already contacted a ward member and had his ride all arranged!

Oh, and Jim! He didn't come to church, but that's ok. We met Jim a little over a week ago when we were walking home. He's a retired teacher, who spent 42 years at Geneseo High School teaching government and economics. He's a super nice Catholic guy, but is going through a fairly rough time by being in his third year with lung cancer while his wife is also battling cancer of her own. Anyways, when we first met him, after talking about economics for a while and about football a little while after that and his dog a little while after that, we finally got into talking about the Book of Mormon. We asked him if he'd read any of it, and after he said no, he explained that it was mostly because he's never had one to read. Well, we changed that real quick! Then this week, we went back. We started talking a little with him, and eventually he apologized for not reading a whole bunch... He'd "only" read all of 1 Nephi. Haha we were blown away! And not only had he read the whole first book, he remembered the story and was able to draw his own applications out of it. It was phenomenal. So, after sharing the Restoration with him, we encouraged him to just keep reading from where he was at so we could come back over (hopefully today) and talk about the Plan of Salvation. Hopefully he has read, because 2 Nephi 2, 4, and 9 are all awesome Plan of Salvation introductions! 

And I think the last good story about visiting people is Michael. He is in prison out here for the next year or so. His mom is an active member down in Virginia, and contacted Bishop to see if anyone could go visit him. Elder Russon has actually been twice already, but this was my first time. Michael'd been inactive for quite some time, but has been working on changing things around while in prison. He reads the Book of Mormon every day and has read The Miracle of Forgiveness a handful of times, too. Right now he is in the Alma war chapters, so we talked about two different stories that apply to him pretty well. The first is when the Nephites take the city of Mulek by luring the Lamanites out with their small army, only to have Moroni then lead a big army into the now undefended city. We talked about how easy it is for us to be like the Lamanites and get caught up in small distractions while missing the big army about to take over our safeplaces. However, if we just stay in our strongholds--he said his stronghold is his mom--then we will be perfectly safe. The second story we went to is earlier on, when the Lamanites try to attack the cities of Noah and Lehi, because those had always been the weakest cities of the Nephites. This time, though, when they got there, they found out Moroni had built up a big fortification around each one. We talked with Michael about how he needs to pinpoint where he is weakest so that he can fortify it now, before he goes back into the real world again. Overall, it was a neat lesson and he's a very cool guy!

Buuuuut, that's all I can really think of to talk about. So, I'll leave it at that!

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 9 Letter


Having two areas to cover is busy. We definitely didn't have a down moment all week, which is nice. It is definitely taking some adjusting, though. People are notoriously bad at setting and keeping appointments, so we usually spend a huge chunk of our time more or less driving in circles until someone answers the door. We might knock the same door two or three times on Tuesday, then try again on Friday if they weren't home. Now that we have two areas and a finite number of miles and a finite amount of time, that can't happen. In all reality, it might be a good way of weeding out those who aren't progressing, but it is definitely an interesting shift.

It's hard, too, because I think naturally etched into all of our minds (or at least in Elder Russon's and mine, since we've been in our respective areas a while) is a "my area, your area" mentality. I think especially for him, he's under the impression that the areas are going to go right back to where they were in a few weeks, which is looking less and less likely to be the case. It just makes things a little difficult that way.

But still, there are some people inherited into our area who have me pretty excited! Iliana in particular. She's the unbaptized 14-year-old daughter of a lady who just reactivated about a month ago. The Nunda elders have met her and talked with her on numerous occasions, but we had our first real lesson with her on Saturday, and it was excellent! We were talking about the Restoration, which was interesting because she has somewhat of an understanding of basic Christianity but not a fully congruent understanding. All that aside, though, she and her friend Maiya (who is a member, and was at the lesson) have some brilliant questions and insights. My absolute favorite line from Iliana that has really got me thinking came after we watched the Restoration movie, and we just asked what stood out to her. Iliana responded, "Well, he was trying to understand what he needed to do to be saved, and so he kept asking people and studying. Then the Holy Ghost came to him and explained what he needed to do." We'd talked about the Holy Ghost at the start of the lesson, so I was just pleased that she understood the Spirit's role. I figured we would just correct her a little bit and explain that it was more than the Holy Ghost hath at came, but Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. But then she totally caught me off guard and continued, "... the Holy Ghost came to him and explained what he needed to do. And so he went into the woods to pray, and God and Jesus came to him." I thought that was a pretty interesting insight! We often talk about all the searching and studying that Joseph did that lead him to the grove, but it's interesting to think about the Holy Ghost teaching him to go into the grove SO the First Vision could occur. I've pondered a lot on that over the weekend. She also said she would pray about when she wanted to get baptized, so we are all pretty excited about her.

We also got in with Randy again! It had been a month without getting any texts, calls, or anything from him. We would try to get ahold of him, but nothing. So on Thursday, we decided we were just going to stop over there. I'd definitely never done that with Randy before, so I wasn't sure how it would go. But not only was he home and let us in, he was really happy that we did stop by. He said for the past week or so he kept thinking about getting ahold of us, but could never get himself to do it. He said for the past few weeks, he'd been struggling to maintain his spirituality at all, and had been praying that God would give him the drive or a boost of some sort to read the scriptures or go to church or anything. He took our stopping by as the answer to those prayers! Hopefully we will get back on track with meeting every week, now.

Those were definitely our two more exciting lessons of the week. I also had a fun time on Wednesday, on exchanges in Warsaw. It's really weird, because that area is the one that I stayed the shortest time in, yet where I seem to have maintained the closest relationships. We mostly just bounced around to all sorts of people who I had worked with. The best of all, though, is that Grant told his aunt that I am his best friend, not her! Haha that made me pretty happy. Haha he remembered me right off the bat! Funny kid... Hahaha the funniest thing he said was when I asked him if he wanted to come live in Utah with me. He said, "Ummm.... Is it far away?" When I told him yes, it was pretty far, he said, "Ummm.... Well... Maybe we could go a different day? Then you could talk to your mom and I'll talk to my mom!" Hahaha he did a solid job of completely avoiding having to give a real answer haha.

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday! It's the first talk I've given in probably about a year. It was on helping people gain faith. I kind of based it around the First Vision, and lessons we can learn about helping people gain faith from that story. I narrowed it down to five major points:

1) Teach the basics first. In two accounts of the First Vision, Joseph writes that the first thing Jesus told him was that his sins were forgiven. Ultimately, that was why Joseph really went to the grove. God clearly had bigger things in mind, but He didn't jump to those. He started with the basics.
2) Don't judge someone's capability to grow. God trusted a 14-year-old illiterate farm boy.
3) Let the Spirit do the teaching. I explained Iliana's story from above, the gave this quote from Brigham Young: "I had only traveled a short time to testify to the people, before I learned this one fact, that you might prove doctrine from the Bible till doomsday, and it would merely convince a people, but would not convert them. You might read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and prove every iota that you advance, and that alone would have no converting influence upon the people. Nothing short of a testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost would bring light and knowledge to them--bring them in their hearts to repentance. Nothing short of that would ever do. You have frequently heard me say that I would rather hear an Elder, either here or in the world, speak only five words accompanied by the power of God, and they would do more good than to hear long sermons without the Spirit. That is true, and we know it."
4) Our spiritual experiences don't convert; theirs do. Joseph could recount his vision to all sorts of people, and it didn't do a world of difference until the hearer felt the Spirit witness of its truthfulness. The same can be said of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost; it wasn't until the people were "pricked in their hearts" that they did anything about the Apostle's testimony. Our spiritual experiences fortify our own testimony, but we have to help others have their own experiences.
5) No efforts are wasted. James bore his testimony of personal revelation in the first chapter, fifth verse of his epistle almost 1800 years before Joseph read it. In that time, the church fell apart, and apostasy reigned for centuries. And yet, that testimony still changed the world.

Overall, it was pretty fun!

Oh, I think I have our schedule more or less worked out for when you guys are out here! I need to verify with a few more people that the days I planned on will work for them... but I think it'll work! Any last requests of things to do while here? Aside from visiting people, I figured the sites, Niagara, Letchworth, one of the Finger Lakes, touring downtown Buffalo a little bit, Lake Erie, lots of New York food.... anything else? Let me know!

And well... I do believe that's the bulk of my week! 

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2 Letter


Well, the week was fairly tame until yesterday morning! We got a call
from President at about 7:45 saying that an elder up in Palmyra had to
go home for health reasons, and so Elder Hales, who serves in the
other half the ward, was being transferred up there. As such, his
companion, Elder Russon, is now in a trio with us and we are covering
both areas. Haha luckily, neither of our areas were fully busy... But
now, combined, we will be VERY busy! It'll be cool though. They have a
handful of really solid investigators right now, including two
daughters of a recently reactivated lady who both want to get baptized
soon, so I'm stoked about that! Ultimately, I think the biggest strain
this will put on us is on miles for the car...but hopefully we'll be
able to wing a few rides here and there and possibly round up a bike
or two, and then things should be good.

It will have interesting implications for our district as well, since
it only consisted of our two areas. Now we are going to be put with
Warsaw and Batavia, in a district that will now have seven elders and
two separate senior couples. Thankfully, I'm not going to be district
leader. Haha while I love giving the trainings at district meeting and
whatnot, I hate exchanges. And with seven elders... That's a lot of

 It's also fun because, at least temporarily, we have two apartments!
So last night we slept in Nunda's apartment, and tonight we will be
back in ours. Fun!

Really though, it should be a good thing. Most of the more gung-ho
members live down in Nunda so it will be nice to have them in our
area. Then, with their investigators, we will be quite busy.

As far as the rest of the week, let me see if I can wrangle up a few
good stories here and there.

We met up with Mallard and Diane early on in the week. They are some
of the nicest people, but sometimes I want to shake them! Haha they go
on and on and on about how whenever they need help or think about us,
we just show up or give them a call. As such, Diane now calls us her
angels haha. But yet they keep saying "God must be sending you!"
without really listening to what we are saying as though we were sent
from God. Haha we will talk for a while, and then Mallard will go on
some sort of a born-again rant for thirty minutes. What is funny about
it is that he isn't doing it in argumentation, but almost in
agreement... even if he is saying isn't really agreeing with what we
are teaching. But, eventually, he does start adopting things we have
taught into his rants. For instance, when he tried to explain the
trinity this time, he ended up comparing it to a husband and wife -
one, but very separate. Ha, so we hope that if we teach truth over and
over for long enough, it will eventually sink in and just become his

Oh yeah! We had our lesson with Shane! It went very well again! It was
interesting to see the difference in our focus, though. Last time,
he'd been coming to church weekly for two or three months, so we
focused primarily on baptism. This time, he hadn't been to church for
a good two months, and so a lot of our focus was on coming to church.
He has quite legitimately been swamped with work, working at least 40
hours a week in two separate jobs. He says he pretty much wakes up,
goes to work, comes home, goes on a bike ride with his daughter, eats
a little dinner, and goes to bed, every day. But, he says he would
like to start meeting up at least every other week now, so that's
exciting! Hopefully we'll get him back to church soon, too!

I also got ahold of Jimmy. So a little while after his baptism, he
baptized his girlfriend and her kids. Well, since then, they broke up
and apparently things are pretty awkward between the two of them,
hence why he hasn't been making it to church. The proposed solution by
Warsaw's branch president is for him to just attend church in the next
closest unit: Geneseo! He wasn't there this week, but is planning on
coming next week!

Well, I officially am done one month from today. Haha all I can think
about is a little "loading" bar on a computer that says "96%
complete." Haha the odd part about that, is depending on the download,
the last 5-10% either zooms through after a slow as crap middle 70%,
OR it zooms up this this point, and then the last 5% takes an extra
half hour. I'm hoping for the latter. I've thought a lot about trying
to find a 3 Nephites loophole, where I can just stay out here forever.
Unfortunately, I haven't found it in the white handbook yet... but I'm
gonna keep looking! Haha

Yesterday, I taught the gospel doctrine class. The lesson was about he
Book of Ruth. To be honest, I have read it once, but got nothing out
of it... But this time I went through and it was so cool! So in Ruth
1:16-17 it is clear that Ruth is a convert. Still, she stays very
dedicated, not just to her mother-in-law, but also to Jehovah. When
her husband dies and her mother-in-law starts to head back to
Jerusalem, she is very adamant that she is not going to go back to her
old lifestyle. She then does really crappy work out in the fields,
essentially living off of a Jewish form of welfare services. When the
owner of the field, Boaz, asks her about herself, she seems really
just stunned that anyone even noticed what she was doing. Boaz assures
her that not only has he noticed, but the Lord has as well and He will
pay her back for all her efforts. Later down the line, she marries
Boaz, to the joy of her mother-in-law, and together they have a child
who is the grandfather to King David and therefore an ancestor of the
Savior's. To make it even more interesting, Boaz is referred to as her
"kinsman" which is a translation from the word go'el.
A go'el in Jewish law was the next of kin to a woman's husband who
would marry her and help her stay on her feet and protect her if she
was widowed. It was a way of restoring her back to her former status
and helping her have seed. What makes this SUPER interesting though is
that later on, the messianic prophets used go'el to refer to Jesus,
and the King James translators translated the word to Redeemer. See,
the Redeemer restores us back to our former status with god, and
allows us to carry on eternal "seed." So, in the end, who was it that
noticed Ruth's diligence in serving and keeping her covenants? Her own
go'el, or Redeemer! Pretty neat, eh?

Well, that's all for now, folks!

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26 Letter


So, Elder Holt and I would often joke that the area slowed down simply because he was here. There was no good evidence of that, aside from coincidental timing of when things started stalling and when he arrived. Nevertheless, it made for a good joke. Haha that joke took a whole new turn on Tuesday morning, though, literally an hour and a half before we were going to drive Elder Holt up to transfer meeting. Right in the middle of our studies, we get a whole stream of texts from.... can you guess who!?


Haha he explained that he'd become overcrowded with work and was starting to notice the effect it was having on him spiritually. So, we have an appointment set up with him at the Steele's for Tuesday! Shane is back in action! Haha Elder Holt, who had really only even said hello to Shane once in almost three months, was a little irritated, but I am stoked.

Transfer meeting was fun, though. Most of the missionaries I've developed friendships with out here were getting moved, so everyone was there in Rochester. When we were listening to the testimonies of all the missionaries who were leaving, I realized how hard/scary it is to imagine that I'm next. I also noticed something really interesting. So many of the missionaries, both elders and sisters, really seemed glad to be leaving. As hard as it is to imagine going home, it's even harder to imagine being happy to leave. That doesn't mean everyone should be miserable and depressed and hopeless as they head out, obviously... but at least act like you enjoyed your mission! I hope that by the time the transfer comes to a close that I'm still in a state of mind where going home, while exciting, is still going to feel at least a little sad.

Aside from that the week was mostly tame. We were able to meet with Mallard and Diane again, which was good. It's just tough because they are (or at least he is) big time born-agains, and it's not that any of our conversation every becomes contentious.... It's just that I don't know if they realize we are trying to offer something different than what they have. It's like they think we are affirming every bit of what they believe, and not recognizing some of the stark contrasts, even when we try to overdo it's starkness to make a point. Oh well... at least they are listening! We think if they'll just get into the Book of Mormon than the wheels will start turning for them.

We weren't able to meet with Jared this week, unfortunately, but he's reading the Book of Mormon and loving it again!! Hopefully we can meet up this week. That would make it so we had appointments with him, Shane, and Mallard and Diane, which would be phenomenal.

We also finally made a set schedule with Vinnie. A while back he asked us if there were any classes that explained the Book of Mormon, and we explained to him that that is what we did. But, between his ADHD and his move that fell through, all of our stops since have just been casual chats that haven't really gotten anywhere. But, now we are planning on meeting up at a set time everyThursday, so I hope that helps things along a little bit.

Other than that, I don't know of much excitement to announce.... Oh! I went running a lot this week! Elder Moulton is a cross country runner (actually he ran with Wesley in Grantsville for one year, I think!) and so we've been waking up each morning and going running. Haha I'm really out of shape... I was also jump roping every night, but then my jump rope completely snapped right in half. How? No idea. So I guess that's not going to happen anymore. Buuuut, hopefully with running and trying not to only eat Dr. Pepper and soft serve ice cream I can be a little less fat by the time I get home haha.

Well... That's about all for this week folks!

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

May 19 Letter

Transfer 17 starts today! Someone asked me yesterday how many more
transfers I had left, and it was really weird to say "one." I didn't
like it. But, I'm dying here in Geneseo like I expected and will be
finishing off my mission with Elder Moulton.

This week went pretty well, actually, although it was very
irregular.... and kinda drama-filled. Tuesday went pretty typically.
But then Wednesday came around. We'd pretty much blocked out the whole
day to help Vinnie and Linnea move. Then we had missionaries and fen
church members arranged in Pennsylvania to help them unload the next
day. So we get there a few minutes late, just after 11 and
were confused at the lack of a moving truck. We get out and knock...
nothing. We finally get ahold of them by calling them, and they pretty
nonchalantly explain that the house they were going to buy failed its
safety inspection so they can't move in. But they get kicked out of
their current place this week... so I'm not sure what happens haha.
It's all a big mess.

Then, Thursday rolled around. We had interviews with president first,
(Guess what?! I'm temple worthy still!) followed by district meeting.
Eventually we got rolling and visited Bridgette. So she got baptized
in January or so and was doing FANTASTIC. Whenever she got brought up
in ward council or anything, it kind of got pushed off because she was
doing so well. Well, we went over, and things definitely weren't
right. Even in our small talk, friendly conversation, she seemed
different. Well, without going into details too much, she says she's
been feeling overwhelmed in the church lately. See, she is one of
those girls who can't let someone go unhelped, which is great, but now
she's taken on a thousand roles that she shouldn't have to, and it's
taking a toll on her big time. She's gone from being a daily scripture
studier and prayer, to not doing either for weeks... Annnnd so that's
been fun to try to reenergize her without hurting any feelings.

On Friday, we were planning on a few things before heading up to the
temple for a couple in our ward's endowments and sealing. But that
morning we got a text from Dan, who is back in the hospital.
Overnight, it had rained a lot, and his basement flooded. So, we went
on over and spent a couple hours helping his daughter clean out the
basement while making dozens of calls trying to track down a
dehumidifier. Well, we eventually found one and got it all taken care
of just in time to make it home, change clothes, and head up to the
temple! I like the temple.

Unfortunately, while at the temple, President Jackson from Warsaw said
that Jimmy hasn't been to church in quite a while... which is
mindblowing. Apparently Stephen has been sporadic, at best, and hasn't
made it the past three weeks, either. Sooo, of 13 baptisms in my
mission, one is excommunicated, one has had their name removed from
the Church's records, 10 are less active, and one is on the brink of
less-activity.... It's pretty frustrating/disheartening/really, really

Saturday was packed as well, and among the most hectic. Haha I really
can't get into it much via email.... But some crazy crap went down!
Remind me to tell you in six weeks :)

But, after the crazy crap settled down for a while, guess who I got to
get lunch with? Richard Orcutt! He is working out in Albany now, and
was driving to Niagara Falls so he swung down to see me. That was fun!
Although... He says I'm fat. Which is worse than most people, because
he's the only one who has seen me recently who hasn't seen me since I
left of my mission... It's depressing :/ Buuuut, then we swung over to
a big ward service project for a lady whose husband was just given a
month to live. It was pretty neat to see the turnout there.

Finally yesterday rolled around! We hadn't weekly planned yet, so we
were figuring our day would pretty much be church, eat, study, plan,
eat, bed. But then some MORE (of the same) crazy crap went down haha.
Luckily, what is quite possibly the highlight of mine and Elder Holt's
time together ALSO occurred. A few weeks back, we were moving records
from our binder to our iPads, and setting aside the teaching records
that looked interesting to contact again. One of them, a guy named
Jared, stood out but it said his address was wrong. So we called him
and just left a voicemail. Well, yesterday - a good two weeks later -
he called back! He said he'd been thinking about faith a lot lately
and wanted to meet up again soon... So we made it very soon and went
over last night! He's so cool. He is about 20-21, and is brilliant,
but in a really humble, looking-for-direction, kind of way. He has the
coolest library of history and religion books. He talked about the
Church, though, and said the missionaries met with him his junior and
senior years, and that he'd had a full testimony of the Book of Mormon
(which he said he received quite emotionally) and had wanted to get
baptized. But then a whole slew of things went down in his life, from
his family to his girlfriend to school, and all of a sudden he was far
from where he should be. Well, lately he's quit smoking, quit
drinking, and decided that it is time for him to figure out what God
wants him to be doing! Haha it was pretty sweet! We're going back
Thursday, so I'm pretty psyched!

Well... I should probably head off! I love you, but I don't miss ya!
Elder Allen

Spring in the Sacred Grove

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 12 Letter


After a great job of buying oatmeal last week... I just bought a dozen
donuts today. I'm so fat....

Ummm well, I talked to you yesterday, so I'll let this be short so I
don't overstay my welcome.

But, ultimately, there's really not much to update from this week
anyways. Haha we visited too many people a week ago to possibly have
anyone to see this week. Ohhh the frustration haha.

We did, however, meet with a guy named Jeremy. We met him at a
"Reasons for God" event on campus. He's a Christian apologist, and
wanted to meet up and talk with us. Well... It was mostly a waste of
time haha. He claims to have studied Mormonism for four and a half
years, yet he pronounced Nephi in a way that rhymes with "Jeffy" and
also offered to buy us coffee, so it shows you how good of research he
accomplished. However, he did seem to know all about the King Follett
discourse, blood atonement, and supposed problems with the Book of
Abraham. Haha it was just silly. I think he also expected me to know
less about those things than I did, because it was almost like he was
asking them just so he could have some sort of shock value. But,
pretty much any time I answered his challenge, he would dart to a
completely unrelated topic. The only time he tried to hold his ground
was on the Book of Abraham, but he didn't get that all I was saying is
we don't have the papyri that the Book of Abraham was translated from
over and over and over again. It was silly and useless. The weirdest
part is he never really offered anything in return. He didn't want to
hear what we had to offer (just kept continually asserting that he'd
studied us for four years) but never offered anything else. Futile...

Then yesterday we had this random man come into the church.
Unfortunately it was already over... But he lives next door and was
curious so he came at noon when he thought church started. We took
him on a quick tour of the chapel (it's new so it actually is quite
nice) and introduced him to Bishop. Now he's planning on being there 

next Sunday! Pretty neat!

Additionally, yesterday just turned into our hang-out-with-kids day.
We were in the nursery all third hour at church, then went to the
quad's grandparents for dinner with them, then went to the park with
Barbie and her kids to prep for FHE tonight. Fun day!

Buuuut yeah... I really don't have much more, so I'll just call it good now,

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 5 Letter


This week I decided I was going to eat healthier so I would be less fat. The fact that 2 liter Dr Pepper was on sale for a dollar didn't help that, but that is beside the point. All I wanted to emphasize is that I decided I was going to try oatmeal for three reasons:

1) It's dirt cheap.
2) It's healthier (I think) than Lucky Charms
3) I like it little enough that I wouldn't eat bowl after bowl of it.

So, I bought a box of assorted fruit and cream instant oatmeal, and decided to brave it. I started with Peaches n cream... and it was awful. I was distraught because peaches are one of my favorite fruits, and if that didn't cut it, nothing would. But the next morning, I tried again,this time with strawberries n cream. But this time, I made an important discovery!! It's SOOOOO much better not cooked! I don't like oatmeal; I like oats and milk and flavored powder! 

Now, as far as missionary work goes, I suppose I could talk about some stuff there too. We actually had a good week again, so it shouldn't be too hard to come up with stuff.

On Tuesday we had a meeting at the Peter Whitmer Farm. That should be super cool. How many missionaries get trained at the location of the first sacrament meeting since the original Apostles? So, parts of it were really cool, but then they spent the greater part teaching about random things like how to cook, how to shine your shoes, why we need to exercise, all sorts of weird stuff haha. None of it was bad, but a) it was a weird use of time and b) it was a REALLY weird use of the Peter Whitmer Farm. Oh well, so be it, I suppose.

So, we taught Debbie again! She's the less active who we have met with a few times who knows her Bible really well and has asked questions about the historicity or writing on metal plates and the like. Anyways, she is seriously one of my favorite people to teach, and it just drives me bonkers how rarely she can meet with us. But really, she understands scriptures well enough that teaching her is a blast. Last time we were over, she'd mentioned that she wanted to know more about how we know not only that Joseph was a prophet, but his successors as well, since we obviously don't believe the Catholic line of authority worked out too well. Well, what it really turned into was the most in-depth Restoration lesson in history! We talked about old time prophets, and how often they got rejected, cast out, and stoned. Ultimately, it was just about always the people who go astray and reject the prophets, not the prophets getting too haughty and warping God's word. We then talked about the faith crisis that occurred when Moses died and the authority fell to Joshua, when the calling went from Elijah to Elisha, and even from Jesus to the apostles. But as we were talking, I mentioned the apostasy, only to have her (thankfully) say that she really didn't know what we meant when we referenced the Apostasy. So we went through the New Testament and read all sorts of verses about the Apostasy, be them prophecies (e.g. Acts 20:28-30, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 2 Timothy 4:2-4) or occurrences of the start of apostasy (e.g. Galatians 1:6, 2 Timothy 1:15). We then talked about the corruption of the early church, the rejection of the Apostles, the rise of unbaptized Constantine proclaiming himself Pope, and the detriment here. We bounced ahead then to the Reformation, emphasizing that they realized something was wrong, but kind of played the role of the scribes in between the Old and New Testaments; they recognized the absence of revelation, so they relied on learned exegesis instead. But what was coolest of all was how we were able to really dig deep into Joseph Smith's story, really reading the first half of Joseph Smith-History with commentary throughout. We were really able to show the conflict and dilemma that Joseph was facing and show how human he was in his search for truth. We then made sure to not make the mistake that we often make of acting like the First Vision was the Restoration. We talked about the abuse and persecution he went through after first attempting to explain his vision. We talked about Moroni's visits, and how Joseph had to be instructed for four years from the time Moroni first came to Joseph until Joseph could receive the plates. We then went through the persecution that forced the saints from state-to-state, culminating in Joseph's martyrdom. Then, luckily I did my homework, because I showed her some quotes from multiple people who were at the meeting trying to figure out who was now to lead the Church, where person after person testified of how much Brigham just sounded like Joseph. Debbie offered an insight there that had never occurred to me on how similar that is to the Day of Pentecost. Haha so I know I just rambled freaking forever about that... but it was just SUCH a fun lesson. I put things together in my head that I don't think I have ever put together before, and certainly read more of JS-H with anyone out here than I've ever done before. Really, it was just a blast!

We were also able to meet with Dan again! His health has been AWFUL the past month or two, and so it's been tough, but last night he was easily the most lively I've seen him in quite some time. He'd earlier messaged me on Facebook saying, "I miss you and a Elder Holt. When do you good night to let me make you dinner?" Haha he's just the nicest guy. But we'd talked about wanting to share from 1 Nephi 2 about the difference in how Lehi and his sons responded to God putting them through a hard time, really emphasizing that Nephi was only better off than Laman and Lemuel because he asked a God to unfold his mysteries. Well after dinner we just naturally got into a conversation about trials and overcoming them faithfully and what faith really is and the need for free will and opposition and all sorts of things and our planned chapter just fit wonderfully. So, that was exciting too!

Oh, guess what?! I finally figured out the difference in i.e., e.g., and viz.!! Yayyyy! Did you know viz is pronounced, "namely"? Haha makes sense, right?

We also did a bunch of tracting this week. And by a bunch, I really mean about four or five hours of it... but that's a lot out here. But we met the coolest guy! He was another one who just really understood the Bible and was willing to talk about what he knew and didn't know. He said he had an easier time accepting the miracles and visions that took place in the Bible than some that took place 200 years ago, but it was funny because he was the first one to admit that that was silly and illogical. At one point he asked if we considered him saved, and he didn't like our "well... kinda" answer, which lead into a discussion on the Kingdoms of Glory. At first he really didn't like it, but after we talked about "in my Father's house are many mansions," "some received an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold," and the whole sun, moon, stars deal, he acknowledged that there was some credibility to the idea. We then somehow got on the conversation of how do works play a role in our salvation in we are just saved by grace, and after discussing a number of scriptures, he admitted that we had some good points there, too. It was just cool to have real questions from someone who was willing to accept answers. Unfortunately, he didn't want us to drop by again sometime, but did willingly and almost eagerly accept our invitation to read Alma 32 and call us if it touches him. Ha, I hope it does, because I'd really like to talk to him again!

I also got to teach Sunday School yesterday! I didn't find out until 3 minutes before Sacrament Meeting, but it was still (in my opinion, at least) one of the better lessons that I've taught. It was on charity, and we were able to do the whole class without opening the manual. (I have developed a loathing for reading from the manual here in New York. I can't tell you how many lessons I've been in where the teacher's role is nothing more and nothing less than choosing who will start reading first, and we just read in a clockwise circle paragraph by paragraph. Blech...) But really, the lesson was fun. We were just able to read all sorts of stories about Christ's love, tying it into Ether 12:34where it says that the love Jesus has is charity. And so we talked about how Jesus never let anything get in the way of helping someone, no matter how much of a nuisance they might be, no matter their race or background, he just loved them and helped them. Megan saved the day with the book she sent me, because as it introduces hope (which the book is about), it first discusses faith and charity. I love these two quotes that I used in the lesson:

“When we say that charity is the pure love of Christ, most of us immediately think of His love for others, but let us not forget that He also loved God. And didn't he also love truth? Justice? Purity? Service? Should we not seek to follow His example in those things as well?”


“I believe that the gifts of faith, hope, and charity provide us with ‘spiritual triangulation,’ an SPS, or spiritual positioning system, if you will. Working like satellites in the sky, faith, hope, and charity help us chart our spiritual position, determine our speed and direction, and indicate how much distance there is between us and our final destination. We might even say we can us faith, hope, and charity to measure our ‘elevation’ -, our position on the upward path to exaltation.”

But I really liked the idea of triangulation with faith, hope, and charity. For the lesson's sake, I really emphasized that "the greatest of these is charity" and that "without charity we are nothing." Finally we just rounded it all in to talk about how we really start feeling charity when we develop a strong enough relationship with God that we realize just how much He lives all of us. We eventually get to the point where we don't just remember that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son and we even go past that God love meenough that He sent His Son; soon we get to where God loved Jim and Sarah and Jacob and every single individual so much that He sent His Son. We end up loving people for who they are, and who are they? Sons and daughters of God. 

I dunno if my thoughts are making sense here... And I've just rambled about a bunch of to random lessons over the past bit..... So hopefully you aren't bored. Long story short, I guess what I'm getting at is I like teaching haha.

Oh, one thing not just lesson related! Today in Sacrament Brendan got up and bore his testimony! Haha it was pretty cool. He talked about the power of forgiveness and love and all sorts of things. He even called himself a member of the church! Haha and he brought a friend to church... And said he stayed up late Saturday night watching Jon Bytheway... And all sorts of stuff. He's a funny guy.

Haha buuuut, I guess I should let you go.

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