Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 24 Letter

Hello :)

Haha this week I broke my record for most lessons to less actives or
recent converts: 19!! Plus we had a lesson with a less-active
part-member family. It keeps us very busy, but it's definitely not my
favorite work to do. I just feel like I'm babying them and nagging
them usually. It's like, "No, no, noooo... Don't do that..." Haha but
at least we have something, I guess.

Actually, I do have a few stories to share about some of this less
active work. One is some of the most intense less active lessons I've
ever had, and the other is about the easiest less active "lesson" I've
ever had haha.

First, the in depth one. We met with Debbie Ansuini this week again.
She was the one who got baptized years ago, but without any testimony
of the Book of Mormon or of Joseph Smith's calling. Last time we were
there, she'd read a decent chunk of 1 Nephi, but got held up on here
things: 1) The Elizabethan language by a 19th century farmboy. 2) The
references to branches, vines, and grafting, which she thought were
very New Testament style for a book written in the 600s BC. 3) She
didn't think writing on metal plates seemed very reasonable since most
writings that we've found are on papyrus and such. So, over the past
few weeks, I've been doing my research. I was able to explain the
language easily on my own, then found about 20 Old Testament
references to vines and branches, and found all sorts of sources
talking about writing on metal plates both in the Middle East and in
Mesoamerica. But then I transitioned by saying this kind of factual
stuff can only provide a foundation to build faith upon - and what
really matters, the concrete and rebar foundation, or the majestic
building on top of it? We then talked about what the Book of Mormon
really offers us if it were true. I talked about how we have two eyes
which really see completely different things. If I close one eye, the
peripherals on that side are gone, totally invisible. But, even more
important is the depth it gives to the things right in the center of
our vision - the things both eyes see. The Book of Mormon talks about
things the Bible doesn't (a family sailing to America from Jerusalem,
a visit of Christ to that same people, the histories of a son of
Zedekiah, writings of Jewish prophets like Zenos, etc), and the Bible
talks about things that the Book of Mormon doesn't (the creation
story, and Abrahamic covenant, the apostolic ministry, etc). But, in
the end, this is all peripherals. What is really important is the way
the two together give us an understanding of the depth of what is
right in front of us: Jesus and His gospel. Just like one eye ruins
your depth perception, one book can ruin your ability to tell where
certain principles are in relation to others. One eye makes a very
flat picture; one book makes a one-dimensional picture of the Christ.
Overall, it went pretty well and I think she received it pretty well,
also :)

The lazier story is with Sister Schumaker. She was marked on our ward
list as "HBH" which means home but hiding. That means exactly what it
sounds like; we can tell they are home and just clearly are avoiding
us. But, we had nothing else to do about four weeks back, so we
knocked on her door. No answer. We left our card and planned on
stopping by another week. Well, the next morning, she called us! (For
any non-missionaries or missionaries who served in South America, that
NEVER happens.) We set up an appointment for the following week. That
fell through. But then that Sunday she came up and introduced herself
to us at church! First time she'd been in years! The following week
was stake conference, which I don't think she attended,  but she was
there the following week. Then, yesterday, she AND her less-active
adult son were there! Haha we still haven't ever actually taught her a
thing... but it worked somehow!

Internet work has taken a funny new swing, too. So far, I've had more
success than most on Facebook, largely by just getting really involved
in random Facebook groups by commenting on posts, posting my blog, and
so on. It's opened a lot of cool doors. Well, a new door has been
opened! I have two members who do a lot on Facebook, one as somewhat
of an apologist and the other running a lot of the YSA stuff in
England. They now send me referrals for people online whenever they
can, so this week I received about eight referrals between the two of
them! It's been pretty cool.

Hmm... Other cool stories... I dunno. We're still struggling to get in
contact with any of our investigators. I've never had a teaching pool
with so many people with such real promise... yet I've never gone so
long without meeting with so many people. It's really aggravating.
This whole transfer, we haven't hardly seen any of our usuals.

Hahahaha we did see Vinnie yesterday, though! Somehow we integrated
the restoration and baptism into post-apocalyptic conspiracy theories,
and had the most spiritual lesson with him I've had yet. Haha
apparently in the six-nine months missionaries have visited him, they
never taught about Joseph Smith or taught what the Book of Mormon
actually was. We were able to do that, and now he's pumped up to read
it! He's moving in the next few months, but yesterday he casually
asked us, "Are there any missionaries down in Jersey you could get
ahold of and let know there is a guy coming down there who wants to
join the church?" Haha I would be more stoked about it if it wasn't
Vinnie and his weird way of thinking haha but it was still a HUGE

Oh, I got to share my talk at zone conference! Haha second zone
conference in a row of that happening. Haha I was talking to Amy
Vrooman from Warsaw the other day, who said when she asked the elders
there if anything exciting had been going on for them, the only thing
they could come up with was my talk hahaha. Apparently people liked
the added touch of me quoting the Apocrypha :)

And, my Huntsman Scholars application. A handful of you have asked
about that. Well, I got through the first round, based on my
application, so this past Wednesday I had a video interview that I did
at a member's house. It wasn't really skype where I was interacting
with anyone, but instead I just read off four questions that it gave
me, and it recorded me answering them. It was pretty awkward hahaha.
But, I feel I did fairly good. It asked me weird things for a
missionary, though! It asked about my biggest intellectual challenge
in the past year, it asked about what business I would start up if
funds weren't an issue, and all sorts of stuff I haven't had to deal
with for 21 months!

Well... I've probably rambled enough. Plus, I gotta go run. I am fat.

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

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