Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 28, 2015 - Trial of our Faith (still in Aguas Buenas)

Por fin! Yesterday and this morning have been absolutely crazy so I'm sorry for no email yesterday, but here it is! Yesterday, we had a zone activity for p-day which ended up taking us a lot longer than we had expected. We cleaned the Caguas chapel and then went bowling! It was so fun! Our mini missionary that had been with us this week went home on Sunday but then came back to go bowling with us and her mom insisted on taking us out to lunch after bowling so we didn't get home until 5:30 and then had family night with members at 6:30 so that's why we couldn't email. But it was seriously so much fun! I love my district and I love being a missionary! :) 

Having a mini missionary this past week was awesome! She was so super sweet and already such a great missionary! I learned so much from her. And right after she left on Sunday, we got a text from President Boucher asking if we would be ok to have another mini missionary next week! Of course we said yes, so I'm super excited for that!

Update on A and J: They didn't come to church and they were going to come with us to the family night but they bailed last minute so that was slightly disappointing. I still have complete faith in them though that they will be baptized in the next couple weeks. Our last lesson with them we taught them the law of chastity and told them that they needed to get married before they could get baptized and I think that shook them a bit, but I guess everyone needs a trial of their faith and I'm certain that they will be fine in the next couple of days.

Miraculously we also found two other couples that seem to be pretty interested. M and A are super sweet and have tons of questions and we're meeting with them today so I hope that goes well. And then we watched Meet the Mormons with J and J and they were both crying at the end and the Spirit was so strong and they have lots of questions too, so I'm excited to see where it goes with them. 

Also, this week was definitely a trial of our faith. Basically every cita we had planned this week fell through so we did lots of walking and finding. It was a bit rough, but we kept on going and promised that no matter how hard it was we were going to be exactly obediant and do the best we could do. Because of this, Heavenly Father blessed us with an amazing opportunity on Saturday. We were walking down this street and there was a man sitting there waiting for someone. As we passed he said, "you guys have something different..... I think it's the Spirit." After we had talked to him a bit about the Spirit and the blessings of the restored gospel, he said with tears in his eyes "What do I need to do? I'm hungry for the word of God." It was the sweetest experience! Heavenly Father had tested us all this week to see if we would still work hard and be obedient when nothing was working out and because we did our best, he blessed us with this experience. It was incredible! He was so humble and so ready. The Lord truly does prepare His children to hear the word of God. 

So we've been struggling a bit to get member participation in this work. It's a very small branch and everyone keeps to themselves so we're trying to find ways to strengthen the branch and help them have a desire to help us and help in this work. The branch is very dependent on the missionaries and I know it's not supposed to be that way... I want to see if you guys have any suggestions as to how we can help the branch and help them be more dependent on each other and not the missionaries. What do you think?

This week Satan was hammering me with thoughts like "I'm not the missionary I want to be right now, but if I were speaking English I would be able to be that missionary". It was pretty frustrating. But I talked to Hermana Stevens about it and she said something that I will never forget. She said, "If you already knew Spanish, yes, you may be able to be the missionary that you want to be, but you wouldn't be able to be the missionary that God wants you to be." That was exactly what I needed to hear. Yes, it's difficult learning a new language, but the things I'm learning as I practice Spanish are much more valuable and are things that the Lord needs me to learn. The Lord wouldn't ask me to speak Spanish if He didn't think I could do it. I know it's going to be a process, but I know this experience is shaping me into the missionary that the Lord wants and needs me to be. There's been an incredible difference in my teaching with this new perspective and this new attitude and now I'm so grateful for this opportunity to learn Spanish! 

Aguas Buenas isn't a tourist place so there's nothing to see or do on p-days. We see it all throughout the week so we just use p-days for other things at our house. And it's basically all Spanish here because it's all campo. The city is where people speak English. But A and J (our investigators) prefer English so they are the only ones that I can speak English with... it's nice to have the break every now and then :)

We find new people basically just by talking to everyone we pass. But sometimes we schedule an hour or two for contacting and we pick an area and then pray about that specific area and then walk through the area and gritar at the houses that we feel impressed we should stop at. (that's something I don't think I've explained yet. In Puerto Rico, everyone's house is surrounded by a gate, so we can't go knocking on doors. So basically we have to stand outside their gates and yell "Buenos Dias" or something like that until someone comes outside. It's pretty exciting. :)) And you mentioned something about if there are many people that we are "actively" teaching... that's not really a thing in Aguas Buenas right now. This area is really slow and if anyone is progressing, they progress really slowly. No one keeps commitments or citas so it's very difficult to be constantly teaching someone. We're working on that though! :)

Well, once again I can't send pictures because they got a new computer that doesn't read my memory card anymore.... so we'll try to work something out so that I can send pics, but for now, sorry!

Anyways, everything is fabulous and I'm absolutely loving missionary life! Love you all so so very much and I hope everything is going well! Les Amo!!!!!

~Hermana Allan

July 20, 2015 - Aguas Buenas

Ok, buckle in for a novel! :)

Well, this week has been a roller coaster! Some days were absolutely amazing and we had so much success and were so busy and saw so many miracles, while other days were super dead and no one was home and everything fell through and the entire day was basically just walking. So lots of ups and downs but that doesn't mean I love the mission any less. :)

On Friday, we had a service project in Caguas where we gave out backpacks to kids as they prepare for school to start again. And afterwards we went and ate pizza and sundaes at sam's club. It was super fun! We did it with my whole zone, so that was exciting. :) Dad asked about how big my district and zone is so here's the stats. My area is just me and Hermana Stevens and one companionship of Elders (who happen to be the zone leaders). Then my district has two elder companionships and three hermana comp. including me. My zone... I think there are 6 hermana companionships and 7 elders.... but I'm not quite sure.... Anyways, there are 5 zones in this mission and about a total of 200 missionaries (about 50 hermanas). 

Anyways, then Friday night we had a ward activity where we watched "Meet the Mormons". We had 7 investigators show up! It was a miracle! That was the biggest turn out of investigators this area has ever seen! It was amazing! Such a spiritual experience! 

the couple that we had found (I'll call them A and J) came to the activity and to church again. They love it! We taught them about the plan of salvation and there were some parts that they don't really agree with, but I know if we keep having faith in them and if they keep praying about these things, they will know that they are true. they are so amazing and have so much faith in Christ. I learn so much from them every time we teach them. 

We had one more investigator come to church yesterday. I'll call him J. We found him on Saturday sitting outside of his house and he looked super depressed. We started talking to him and found out that he is 17 and that he has a lot of family problems. So we gave a little overview of the gospel and then invited him to be baptized. It was amazing to see the change in his face as we taught him. You could see his eyes light up and hope fill his heart. It was priceless. He accepted the baptismal invitation and said he would come to church, which he did! He really liked church and one of the members invited him to a Young Men's camping trip this week and he went! I can't wait to talk with him when he gets back because I know this is exactly what he needs and I know it will change his life and bless him in so many ways. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father led us to him. He really is mindful of all His children. 

Also, today is my two month mark and my companions birthday! It's funny because my mission b-day is on her b-day and her mission b-day is on my b-day. It's great! Today has been fabulous as well! We found out a couple days ago that we were going to be getting a mini missionary! So today we drove down to San Juan to pick her up. It was so weird! Aguas Buenas is not americanized at all because it's in the mountains and is mainly campo. So to be in San Juan, in the city, where everything looks the same as it does back home was so weird! Then, we met Hermana Molina who is 17 and will be living the life of a missionary with us for one week. I think it's really cool that they offer these kind of opportunities for the youth. Such a fun experience! We also picked up mail while we were there and I got your letters! Thank you for them! Also, the primary class with Preston Osborne and Emma Casper wrote letters to me and it was so sweet to see their pictures and read their letters. Tell them thanks for me! Then, because it's Hermana Steven's b-day we went to McDonald's for lunch and then got some frozen yogurt. It was the best. :) i'm so excited to have a mini missionary with us this week and I know it will bring more miracles to this area because of her drive and desire to work. 

I absolutely love this area! It is so beautiful! So many trees and plants and every is always outside so we talk to so many people, I just love it! I experienced my first rain storm and it was awesome! It just rains buckets here. Umbrellas basically only keep our hair and faces dry and the rest of us is just soaked all the way through. The streets become rivers and we basically swim to all of our appointments. It's fun! I love the rain! :) But it's too much of a hassel to carry a jacket so I don't think I'll want a raincoat, but thanks anyways!

I don't have time to respond to everyone's personal email so I'm going to through it all in this email... like 10 emails just from you today.... bendito. :) I was wondering why you hadn't emailed me yet. :) Thanks for all your spiritual thoughts though! 

Nathan- congrats on the Amazon card! You must have a lot of luck! :)

Heidi- thanks for the email!

Christopher- yes, I held a snake and yes it crawled all over my arms and yes I was scared and yes it was awesome and no I will never do it again. :)

Amelia- Love you!

The family reunion looked like so much fun! What a blast! I'm glad you guys loved it! And Mark came? That's awesome! Loving the beards too of John and Todd.... Also, Heidi looks gorgeous in that picture of the teenagers on the deck.

Well, one of my favorite stories that I studied a lot this week is at the end of 3 Nephi 14 about the foolish man and the wise man. I love that it says that those who build their houses on a rock are those who act on the Savior's teachings. The biggest problem here in Aguas Buenas is that people say they will do things, but they never actually do them. It's so difficult getting people to keep their commitments here and that's what's hindering their progress and that's why it's so hard to get baptisms here. When people don't act on what we teach them, they easily fall away again and never strenghten their testimony even if they knew it was true at one point. But I know if we endure to the end and actually act in faith and actively follow Christ, we will have solid foundations and we will be able to withstand until the end. Apply what you learn at church, in the scriptures, etc. Never stop trying, never give up, and do everything you can to build a firm foundation on Christ. Because on this foundation, you will NEVER fall (Helaman 5:12).

I love you all so much! Talk to you next week! 

~Hermana Allan

sorry, no time for pics this week, but I'll be sure to send them next week!

Monday, July 13, 2015

July 13, 2015 The Fruit of Our Labors

Last picture with Sister Jacobsen when they arrived in Puerto Rico

Who is this girl???? She's holding a SNAKE??? 

Fruit trees in her backyard

Gardens around her house

Their missionary wall


She and Sister Stevens live downstairs, an elderly couple live upstairs


Study Area
There just aren't words to express how much I love being a missionary! It is the best thing in the whole entire world! I'm so in love with this gospel, this place, and these people and their culture. I learn so much each and every day and feel so much closer to my Savior. It's been such a blessing!

First, a few fun facts about Puerto Ricans and their culture. the food is so good! We don't eat dinner very much with the member, but when we do, it's so good! They eat tons of rice, meat, and beans and everything is drenched in oil and/or fried. So super unhealthy, but super good. :) There's this thing called the "Puerto Rican Belly" which everyone has and my companion claims you can't serve here without getting one. I hope I don't but if I do, I guess it will just make me one with the culture. :) Also, kind of strange but most people here shave there eyebrows completely off and then just draw them on every day. Most of them are blue or purple.... it's very interesting. Also, it's almost impossible to here when talking to people on the streets because while people are driving they want the entire town to here what song they are listening to. It's so loud! Christopher would fit right in in that category. :) Aguas Buenas is also the land of the dogs. Everyone has at least one dog, but most have 2, 3, 4, sometimes more. It's crazy! Every day I'm reminded that I never want to own a dog. :) And I absolutely love living on a tropical island! This week we were just walking down the street and a family was outside harvesting their coconuts from their coconut tree and they called us over and asked if we wanted one. They grabbed two enormous coconuts (these ones are yellow and not furry) hacked them open with a machete and gave them to us and we just sat there talking as we drank the coconut water straight from the coconut and then afterwards ate the inside of the coconut. It was way cool!

This week I met a 105 year-old man! We were teaching this elderly couple and the wife said her dad lived with them and that he was 105. Which is so cool so of course we asked if we could meet him. He was pretty handicapped so we just sat in his room and sang hymns to him. It was such a neat experience. I could just feel the wisdom flowing from him and was awed to think of all that he has experienced in 105 years. I felt so honored to have met him :) 

We had a zone meeting this week and guess who is in my zone? Hannah Ahlander, Sister Ahlander's niece! She's super nice and way cute. So let Sister Ahlander know! :) 

Time for the miracle of the week. So remember my story from last week about inviting 100 people to church? Well, not one of them came. It was really pretty disappointing. But we decided to try to contact those who we had gotten numbers and addresses for. There was one couple that we had invited as they were getting in their car and we dropped by their house and turns out they were so excited to hear about our church! The husband had never been to church before or prayed or anything, but he's been going through some difficult challenges so he told us that it was time for him to "find Christ." The Lord has been preparing them and they are so ready for the gospel in their lives. It is amazing! We've taught them twice and everytime the spirit is so strong and they love every bit of it. They even came to church yesterday and they loved it! There were so many mini miracles that led us to them and I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to be here at this time and help them find what they are looking for. It's been absolutely incredible! Like you said mom, we planted lots of seeds and as long as we are patient and diligent in doing the work of the Lord, we will see the fruits of our labors. 

This leads me to my spiritual thought for the week. In Alma 32, I love the story about the Word of God and the analogy with the seed. But what I love most of all is the reward, if we nourish it with faith and diligence, is something that is most pure, most precious, most desireable, most sweet. I know this to be true with all of my heart. As I've made the gospel a bigger part of my life and let in grow within me, it has become something that's impossible to describe. Something wonderful, something beautiful, something eternal. It gives me direction, peace, happiness, comfort, hope, life. It's the most valuable gift we could ever receive. I know with all of my heart that this is the true gospel of Christ. I know that through Him we can be cleansed, healed, and comforted. I know that through Him we can receive eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God. I know this is His church and He will be with us every step of the way if we do our part in coming unto Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
~Hermana Allan

I love you guys so so so very much! Stay strong in the strength of the Lord!

July 6, 2015 (Puerto Rico)

First companion in Puerto Rico, Hermana Stevens

With Sister Jacobsen at the MTC

Favorite fruit so far in Puerto Rico, star fruit

Last night of pictures in the MTC

A friend found in her bathtub in Puerto Rico

With Elder Spence from Jamaica

Last MTC picture with Sister Jacobsen
AHHH!!!! I'M HERE!!!! It's still so surreal! But I'm so excited to tell you everything, but I don't have a ton of time, so I'll do my best. Buckle up! :)

So real quick, a little more about the MTC. The last Friday we went on splits again and this time I only had one companion and she was a latino so everyone spoke so fast to her, it was crazy! There was one lesson we taught for 2 and a half hours! So long! We had been talking about the Word of Wisdom and the investigator had a lot of questions so she was going back and forth with my companion for about 30 minutes and all of a sudden I hear, "Now, my companion is going to talk about the Law of Chastity." I was like what?! I had never taught the Law of Chastity or even studied the vocab for it in Spanish so I had no idea what I was doing. I did my best but I probably blew it. Kind of funny though. :) It really was such a great experience, though! 

Now for Puerto Rico! My companion is Hermana Stevens. She's from Layton and is the coolest person every! We get along so well and have such a great time together. She is a wonderful missionary and I am learning so much from her! It's going to be a great two transfers with her! 

My zone is Caguas and my area is Aguas Buenas. It's in the mountains, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that we get more rain than the rest of the island so our water isn't rationed like it is everywhere else (Puerto Rico is in a drought). And it's not as hot because it's pretty windy up here. However, because it's a mountain it is so hilly! I'm going to have pretty toned legs after this because we are constantly walking up and down hills all day long. And everyone lives pretty far apart so we walk a ton! We typically walk about 8-14 miles every day! These past two days we walked 13 and then 10 so we are so sore today! But it's great! I love it! It is absolutely gorgeous!!!! 

It's just us two in our house. We live underneath the sweetest couple who take us grocery shopping every p-day. Also, the backyard of the house is filled with fruit trees! Bananas, plantaines (spelling?), starfruit, sugar cane, avocados, lemons, oranges, some native fruits that I don't know the name of and so much more! So we get tons of amazing fruit! They are all so much better here than in the states. :) I love it!

Also, we have some friends in our house. Mainly, spiders, cockroaches, ants, frogs, lizards, geckos, etc. It's pretty great. The frogs are my favorite. They are super small (I think they are called cokee frogs....) and they are kind of like crickets. They are super loud at night, but I love it so much. They're so cute! :)

The flight here was great. Super short but awesome. We taught several lessons in the airport before we left and then were planning on sharing in the plane too, but no one sat next to me on the flight, so I couldn't. But it's ok! Then we met the mission president and his wife (they are the best!). We went to this old fort thing in old San Juan and spent a little bit there. We got totally drenched in the rain though! I didn't have my camera so we took pictures on Sis Jacobsen's but I haven't gotten them from her yet, so I'll send them when I can. 

My area especially is said to be one of the hardest ones, but I haven't noticed. There have been so many miracles here that I've seen and I can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for this area. Me and Hermana Stevens are only the 2nd all american companionship to be here. They used to only send Latinos here. So that's kind of exciting. :)

The Spanish is coming along. It's still a bit difficult and I talk SUPER slow compared to the fast, slurred, accent of the Puerto Ricans, but every day I'm learning more and more and i'm just loving the culture here! Kind of a funny story, we fasted this Sunday for rain and when I prayed to end our fast, I asked Heavenly Father to bless Puerto Rico with snow instead of rain.... yeah... the struggle is real. :)

It's amazing what is possible through the Lord! I met one of the members of our branch (only 20 people who actually come! It's tiny!) and his name is Leonel. He was just baptized in June and he is incredible! Apparently he had spent 17 years in prison, always took drugs, drank, smoked, did some terrible things, but I never guessed any of this when I met him! He is the sweetest, most humble, most honest, most amazing person I've ever met. It's incredible how this gospel can change people. He's come with us to a couple lessons and his testimony is so powerful. I'm so excited to help others make this same change in their own lives and experience the peace and happiness that comes from this gospel!

Also, we are having a hard time getting people to come to church, so on Thursday we decided we would set a goal to invite 100 people to come to church by the end of Saturday. So we invited everyone we passed. thursday we got about 12 people, Friday we had about 26 people, so we weren't sure if we would be able to get 100 by Sunday. We prayed a lot about it and felt that it was a really important goal that we needed to meet so we asked Heavenly Father to help us find a way to meet that goal. So Saturday came and every single appointment fell through. We walked from house to house and no one was home (this was the day we walked 13 miles). But, walking this much allowed us to pass more people and talk to more people. So at 8:55 that night, on our way back to our apartment we contacted the 62nd person. We had gotten exactly 100 contacts in 3 days! We wouldn't have been able to invite 62 people in one day if our appointments had all worked out. But Heavenly Father knew we were trying really hard to make it, so He helped us. It was such a cool experience. I know He is watching out for us and will help us every step of the way! 

Also, I just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMELIA!!!!! I love you so so very much!

It sounds like you guys had a great 4th of July! I missed you guys but I can't wait to join you when I get back! I love you all so much!!! Thanks for all of your support! Being a missionary is the best thing in the whole entire world and I wouldn't rather be doing anything else. I love it so much! Love you!!!

~Hermana Allan

P.S. Please send more pictures! I want to see more of your lovely faces! :) Thanks!

June 25, 2015 (MTC)

Hola mi familia! I can't believe this is the last time I'll be writing you from the CCM! It went by so fast, I can't even believe it's almost been 6 weeks now. So weird. But I'm so excited!!! I'm a bit nervous of course for the change, but I'm so ready to go and experience the "real" mission life. :) I don't know yet if I'll be able to call from the airport, but my flight leaves at 11am on Tuesday, so if I do call, it will be between 7-9am in Utah. Hopefully I can!

I got even more excited for the field after I went on splits with the sister missionaries on Friday. It was so much fun! We met them at a chapel around 2 o'clock and then rode a "guagua" to our area. A "guagua" is a super tiny, hippy-van-looking bus. there were no doors and basically the goal is to see how many people you can squeeze in there. It was so fun! Quite the experience. :) Then we split up. I went with Hermana Paul (her sister was in my ward at BYU. Talk about a small world) and Hermana Mueller. They are both from the states, so we talked mostly in English which I was actually kind of disappointed about, but it's ok! Most of our appointments fell through so we did a lot of walking and contacting, but it was still good. The heat wasn't that bad either. It's really hot for the first hour or so, but then you just get so sweaty and hot that you don't notice it anymore. We were in the poor, kind-of ghetto area, so we were walking through sewage and tiny alleys. Houses (more like little one-room huts) were packed on top of each other and there was garbage everywhere. People were just sitting outside just talking with each other. It was a really eye-opening experience to see that people really do live like that and that it's normal for them. It was very humbling. It was so cool to get to see the city and experience real mission life. We also bought a couple mangoes from a street vendor and when we came back we washed them and ate them, and they were the best things I have ever eaten. They were basically like candy. So sweet, so juicy, and so delicious!!!!! It was such a great experience and I'm so excited to do it again tomorrow! :)

Hermana Jacobsen had some really cool experiences during her splits too, but when she got back, she wasn't too excited to find that she had over 70 mosquito bites all over her calves! The first day, they didn't look too bad, but the next day, it looked like she had some sort of disease because they had grown and made her legs all red and swollen and spotted. I felt so bad for her! We both had sprayed with the same bug spray before we left, but for some reason the mosquitos just couldn't stay away from her! They're better now, so that's good, but I felt so bad for her!

Also, Saturday marked one month out! Apparently it's a big thing out here to celebrate each month you're out. It's called your "Cumplemes". So we celebrated our Cumplemes on Saturday. I'll send a picture of a cute sign we made about it.

Sundays.... wow, I just can't seem to have a relaxing Sunday, but that's ok, because I love it! I did another musical number this Sunday, but this time with my district. We sang Nearer My God to Thee. All of us are acutally pretty musical, so since there were four of us, we did all four parts and I think it sounded really good! It was a good experience. I love my district!

So kind of a funny story. The Hermanas decided to do a fast yesterday and today, so we started after lunch yesterday and then went to class. Our teacher likes to give us chocolate during class, so when he walks in, lo and behold he gives us chocolate. Even though we had just started, I totally forgot that I was fasting, so I went right ahead and opened it and plopped it in. As soon as I put it in my mouth, I remembered I was fasting so I turned to Hermana Jacobsen and showed her the wrapper and while pointing at my mouth and she just started cracking up laughing. She said my eyes were so big and my face had turned really red...... it was awesome. :) We ran to the bathroom so I could spit it out and then all was well! It was so funny! :)

Last night, we noticed that we are getting calluses (spelling?) on our knees from praying. We dubbed them our battle wounds, since we fight our battles on our knees. Don't you just love that? I think that just sounds so cool and so powerful. I love it! :)

This week with my investigators was kind of a rough one, but I learned so much! I started getting a bit frustrated because he was asking so many questions that I didn't have the answers to. But then I read the coolest quote by Brigham Young in Preach My Gospel. It basically said something along the lines of how it doesn't matter how educated you are in the scriptures or well you can teach, but what matters most is your testimony and the bearing of your testimony. Investigators can deny anything and everything except for your testimony. The bearing of your testimony can be the most powerful factor in the conversion of an investigator. This filled me with so much hope, because I don't know a lot of deep doctrine and I have a really hard time remembering where scriptures are and knowing how to answer investigator's questions, but the one thing I can do is share what I know to be true. I know that if I bear my testimony, the Spirit will touch the hearts of my investigators. After all, I was converted by the testimony of my seminary teacher. If you remember my story from my farewell talk, it was my seminary teacher who bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon that helped me gain my testimony of the Book of Mormon and ultimately of this gospel. I don't remember the lesson at all, but the Spirit touched me so strongly as I listened to him bear his testimony. A testimony is a powerful thing and we need not be ashamed of it, because it can be the cause of so much good in our lives and in the lives of those around us. It was a good lesson to learn and one that I know I will need in the field. I don't need to know the answers to everything to know that this is the true church of God. And I do know it to be true with all of my heart.  

Sounds like Kalyn's wedding was really good! Tell her congratulations for me!!!! :) And her pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I'm totally going to steal her idea and do a french fry and ice cream bar. Best idea ever! :)

I know you'll do great on your finals mom! Good luck! And yes, I would love to see that ancestry book that Robin gave you when I get back. I love family history! :)

Oh my goodness, I'm dying from Amelia's cuteness! I sure hope she does musical theater too! She would be really good at it, that little drama queen. :) Love her! 

By the way, P-days in the field are on Mondays, so I won't have a P-day next week. So I hope you guys have a super fun 4th of July and an awesome week and a half!!! :)

I love you all so much!!!! :)

~Hermana Allan

P.S. a little father's day blurb since I didn't have time last week. Thank you for being such a great example for me dad! I look up to you in so many ways and I'm so greatful for your hard work in providing for our family and in raising us in the gospel. Thank you for all you have taught me about obedience and trust in the Lord. Thank you for everything! I love you!

June 18, 2015 (MTC)

Plan of Salvation Sister Allan made to help teach her investigators

Sisters Allan and Jacobsen

Small District

Can't get enough of the temple selfies :)
Hola! I can't believe I only have a week and a half left! It's crazy! I have a bunch to say today, (like always) so let's get started:

First, I got to go contacting again last Friday. It was so good! The first time we went we had 10 extra pamphlets left over because we ran out of time. We felt a bit disappointed because the elders had given away all of them. But this time we gave away all of those 10 and the new ones that we had been given for that week. I don't think we were supposed to give them all out last time, because I felt like there were more people this time who were ready to hear about the gospel, and because we had 10 extra, we were able to talk to all of them. Heavenly Father knew there would be more people for us this second time so he helped us have more pamphlets to give out so we could talk to more people. It was a really neat experience! 

This Sunday, I taught the Sunday School lesson about charity. It was all in English which was really nice. But I actually shared that scripture that you shared with me mom in 1 Nephi 19:9. Christ was the greatest example of charity and I loved reading all about it this week. I haven't really had a calm Sunday since the first one, because the second one, I played a musical number, the third one, I gave a talk, and this past one, I taught a lesson. It's been fun though! I love Sundays. They are one of my favorite days!

Something I forgot to mention is that on Monday nights, instead of teaching our usual night investigator, we teach a senior couple, (basically like FHE). We teach in Spanish and basically just have Family night with them. Hermana Jacobsen and I teach the Gardners. They are so nice! Elder Gardner is blind and mostly deaf, but he has such an enormous spirit and always makes me feel so good everyone time we talk with him. I love Monday nights with them!

So we had three Haitians here for 2 weeks. They were so funny! It was hard to talk with them since they only spoke French and Creole, but we still had so much fun. Haitians have very flirtatious personalities, so we had some kind of awkward, but super funny moments. It was great! :) But they just left on Tuesday, and then we got 8 new missionaries yesterday (3 hermanas). They are the Latinos that are headed to Puerto Rico with my district. I'm so grateful that they are here, because I know that talking to them will help my Spanish get a lot better. It was hard to speak Spanish before, because there weren't any missionaries here that knew more Spanish than me because they were all the newbies, so we had to talk in English most of the time to understand each other. So I'm super excited to work on my Spanish even more now with the Latinos here!

By the way mom, thanks for making me bring a blanket with me. I use it every night, and I'm usually still freezing when I wake up. So thanks! :) 

I have learned so much in this past month here. I'm so much more comfortable with making mistakes. Back home, I tried so hard to not mess up in front of people and so I never did things that I wasn't good at and I never tried new things, and just got stuck in my comfort bubble. But since being here, I'm so much more confident and am totally fine making mistakes in front of people (because I do it all the time now!). But it really just makes everything so much easier. I love what I'm learning and what I'm becoming. 

Yesterday, we got the chance to go on Family Search for a little bit. Usually when I would go on Family Search I would only search for the names that needed temple work done. But this time, I decided to read some of the stories that people had uploaded to the names. I read stories about Nellie Molly Murphy, Lars (I think that was his name) Johnson and lots of stories from our pioneer ancestors. I started crying as I was reading those stories, because I just felt so much love for them and for their sacrifices in following the Lord. Because of them and their faith, we have the gospel in our lives today. This gospel has blessed my life in so many ways, I don't know what I would do without it. I'm so grateful for what they've done and for their love for the Lord. It was the coolest experience, and I felt the Spirit so strongly. I was so sad when time was up and we had to leave. I probably could have spent hours upon hours reading their stories! I also found a cool scripture about family history work this morning in Helaman 5:6-7 (the last half of verse 6). I love how it says that because they worked so hard to give us a good life centered on the gospel, we need to try to live up to their name. I love that, and I'm going to try so hard to so my gratitude for them for their sacrifices. I love Family History!

I've all of a sudden developed a love for my personal study time too. This may sound a bit weird, but I crave study time now. And the 2 hours we get in the mornings for study, is never enough. I love being completely absorbed and immersed in this gospel and learning so much. Also, I think one of the best decisions I made before I left, was to buy a new set of scriptures. Every day, I'm just so excited to read them and find a new passage to mark up and to learn from. It's like a treasure hunt. It's just so excited and the reward at the end is knowledge of my Savior and His gospel, and I can't think of anything better that I would want to have. I love this gospel with all of my heart and can't wait to share what I know with the people in Puerto Rico!

We are leaving for Puerto Rico super early on June 30. About a week and a half. Crazy! 

So, as if contacting wasn't scary enough, we are going on splits with the sister missionaries here for 8 hours tomorrow! I'm so nervous, but I know it will be a good experience. Wish me luck!

How are your finals going? I've been praying for you every day and I know the Lord will bless you because of how hard you work at each assignment. I hope it all goes well!

I love and miss you guys so so much!!!! Thanks for always supporting me in everything and for always being there for me! Thank you for raising me in the gospel and helping me have this amazing experience. I love you all!!!!!

~Hermana Allan

June 11, 2015 (MTC)

LOVING the MTC experience

With Sister Jacobsen

All the missionaries at the Dominican Republic MTC

The only 4 missionaries at the MTC for 48 hours
I'm halway done! Can you believe that? I seriously cannot believe that I'll be in Puerto Rico in just 3 weeks. So weird! It all seems very surreal right now. I feel like I'm just at a spiritual boot camp or something and that I'll be coming home in 3 weeks. So it hasn't quite hit me yet that this is a 18 month adventure. I seriously can't wait though!

I actually got a little taste of missionary life in the field last Friday. My district got to go contacting at the University for about 3 hours. It was so cool! I was a bit nervous at first, but then I found this scripture in Moroni 8:16
"and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear."
I prayed to be blessed with love for those I would talk to and Heavenly Father definitely blessed me with that. When we went I was fearless and stopped everyone that we passed. I think I made my companion nervous some times because I stopped a few kind of "scary" looking people. But you never know who the Lord is preparing to hear the gospel so I feel like it's really important to give everyone that chance. It was a very good experience and helped me feel a bit better about my progress here. I've never been a very confident person so it was really exciting for me to see that I can do this and that through the strength of the Lord, I can confidently tell people what I know to be true. And we're going again tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that!

Something cool that happened that morning was that I had a super painful Charlie Horse when I woke up and it never really went away and it hurt pretty badly to walk on it. It made me worried to go to the university because I knew I would be walking a lot. I prayed for strength, and then when we left for the university my leg stopped hurting. It didn't hurt once while we were contacting. Then, as soon as we walked passed the gates again on our way back, the pain came back. I know Heavenly Father blessed me to be able to do His work. The power of prayer is real. I know that if we pray, miracles will happen. And it's all better know, so no worries! :)

It's so fun having the new missionaries here! We're all super close and just a big happy family. I'm so glad that I have a loving Heavenly Father who knows me and knew that I would do better in a smaller group and chose to send me here. I absolutely love it here!

Last Sunday, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting all in Spanish! I was a little nervous, but I don't think it was all that bad. It was a cool experience! I know that it was the Spirit talking through me. And yes, I play the piano all the time here. My companion and I are the only ones who can play the piano so we play at every meeting every day. I love it! I've never been very good with words and with expressing myself through words, so I'm so grateful that I was blessed with a different way to share my testimony with others and to serve the Lord through music. What a blessing music has been in my life! I love it! :)

On Tuesday, my district set a goal to speak only in Spanish. It was so hard, but we did it! I think I only said one sentence in English all day! It was super exhausting, but really fun to see how much we have already learned in only 3 weeks. 

I love that the CCM is on the temple grounds! It is seriously the best thing ever. Every day, there's always a feeling of happiness and peace and it's so easy to feel the Spirit here. This is probably the happiest I've ever been in my whole life and I know it's because of this gospel and the Spirit of the Lord. This has already been such an amazing experience for me and I feel so humbled to be able to have this opportunity to dedicate myself completely to the Lord and to His work. He is shaping me and molding me and I can't wait to see who I can become with His help. 

I found a scripture today that I would like to share with you in 2 Nephi 26:24. It says "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation." this is one of my favorite scriptures now. He has sacrificed everything for us and will do absolutely anything for us if we simply turn to Him. He offers salvation to anyone and everyone, so He will always accept us if we go to Him. I know that if you will let Him into your life, He will bless you in countless ways. Try to find out how you can make Him a bigger part of your life in everything that you do and you will find life so much easier, so much happier, and so much better. 

I love you all!!! Thank you so very much for all of your support! Love you guys!!!!!

~Hermana Allan

June 4, 2015 (MTC)

Sister Jacobsen and Sister Allan

Trying on the investigator wigs with their MTC teachers
Hello everyone!!!! Now that the first week is over, I feel like everything is going so fast! Each day is forever long, but looking back I can't believe it's been two weeks since I left. So crazy! I learned so many things this past week and so many things happened, I don't even know where to start. I'm sorry if everything seems jumbled, but I'll try my best. Here I go!

First, a few fun facts about the CCM and the DR. When it rains, the lights will turn on and off at random times all day long. We sometimes have brownies as the main course for breakfast. Latinos sing at the top of their lungs no matter what they sound like so Sunday hymns are really fun! :) One of the hermanas is from Puerto Rico, so she's been giving us tons of advice. I'm so excited to go there!

This past Sunday I played a musical number in sacrament meeting, which was pretty exciting. Two of the latino elders thought that playing the piano is the coolest thing ever so they asked me to teach them something so I taught them Mary Had a Little Lamb. That was fun. :) Also on Sunday, we get to take a walk around the temple and this time there were 4 or 5 bats flying all around the temple. It was pretty exciting! 

The language is slowly but surely coming along. The Spirit definitely gives us a boost when we are teaching. I can pray and bear my testimony in Spanish and I know enough to make it an entire day without speaking English so I'm really happy about that! This morning at the temple, we did sealings in Spanish and I could actually understand most of it. 

Sister Jacobsen and I are getting along so well. She has been such a blessing to me. It's amazing to see how close you can get to someone when you're completely focused and centered on the gospel. Some days we'll finish teaching and then just sit for a really long time having a deep conversation about how it went and about the principles we taught. My testimony has been strengthened so much just be talking with her. I love her!

On Saturday, we met with our investigator for the last time. He basically just told us that he didn't want anything to do with the church. Even though he wasn't a real investigator, It felt like my heart had just been torn in half. It was so hard to hear him say no because I had come to love and care for him so much and I really wanted him to have these blessings that come from the gospel. It made me think of this scripture which I've come to love since being here:

 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, heworketh in me to do according to his will.
 And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.
My prayer is to teach everyone about the gospel so it was a difficult pill to swallow when he said no, but it taught me a lot. Heavenly Father has blessed me with so much love for this gospel and I just want everyone to have it, so it was hard, but I know I will experience that a lot in the field so at least I've had practice with it now.

So then we got 2 more investigators and they are a lot harder than the first one. It's rough but it's also been such an amazing learning experience. I can't even believe how much I've learned in just 2 weeks, but I love it so very much!!!

On Tuesday, every missionary except my district (4 of us) left for the field. So it was just the 4 of us here at the MTC all day Tuesday and Wednesday. It was so weird. But then we got the new bunch of missionaries on Wednesday night. There are 3 Haitian elders, 12 North American elders, and 2 sisters both from Utah. So now we have 15 elders and 4 sisters. All of the new ones are serving in the DR so my district is the only one going to Puerto Rico. I love smaller groups so I'm really enjoying it. I don't feel like I've been here long enough to be the "senior" missionary, but it'll be fun. 

On Tuesday we also got to leave the temple gates! My district got to experience the city for the first time and walk to their store that is like Walmart but half the size. The driving here is super sketchy so we almost died a couple of times crossing the street but we made it! The walk there and back was my favorite because it was so pretty and we almost never get to go outside so it was nice to be in the sun for awhile. 

I think that's really interesting about the silence things and just thinking. My last year of high school, I realized that I never gave myself time to think and ponder on things so I made a goal to only listen to the radio one day a week as I drove to and from school and I noticed a huge difference! I think it's very important that we give Heavenly Father and the Spirit that chance to answer our prayers and give us guidance as to what we need to do to become who He wants us to be. I wish more people could understand that because I think it would help a lot of people.

Anyways, I'm absolutely loving it here! I'm going to try to answer a couple other people's emails now so I love you all and I hope you all have a fabulous week!!!

Love you!!!
~Hermana Allan

May 28, 2015

door signs at the CCM (MTC)

Dominican Republic Temple

Hermana Allan and Jacobsen

MTC District

Loving the temple each week

The temple at night
Hello! I'm alive!!!!!!!!! :)

This has been one of the longest weeks of my life, just because we do so much each and every day! But I love it so much! I have so much to say and I'm just hoping I have enough time to write about everything. Anyways, here we go...

So Wednesday, after I got through security, I found and talked to so many missionaries, it was awesome! I sat next to a group of missionaries who were flying out to Michigan as I waited to board. I talked to them about missionary stuff which of course made me even more excited. When it was time to board, I was so happy to see another sister missionary waiting in line for the same flight. I talked to her and found out she was going to my mission! We were instant friends. Then, on the plane, the man sitting next to me saw me reading PMG so we started talking about missions and he told me a lot about his mission. It made me really want to have a missionary experience right then, so I said a little prayer asking if I could have one. After the flight, as I was waiting for Sister Jacobsen (the other sister) outside of the gates, a man who had been sitting next to the other man that I had been talking to, came up to me and started asking me about what I was doing as a missionary (he was Catholic and had overheard me talking to the other guy). So it wasn't really a doctrine-based conversation or anything, but it was just cool to be able to share with him what a missionary is and what I'll be doing for the next 18 months. Anyways, our flight got in early so Sister Jacobsen and I grabbed some lunch and found our next flight. I got some sleep on that one which was so nice, and the A/C smelt like bubblegum so that made it even better. When we got there, we definitely marked ourselves as gringos. Not only because we are white, but we had no idea what we were doing as we went through customs and everything was in Spanish and the forms were so weird and it was just a major struggle. But eventually we did it! However, as soon as we walked outside, I felt like I looked like a mix between Albert Einstein and the Matchmaker from Mulan because my hair poofed out about a foot and my makeup was melting off my face... it was awesome... it was (and is) so hot and so humid! (so don't pay too much attention to my hair in any of the pictures, because I haven't figured out just yet how to get it to look decent....). 

Now, all about the CCM (MTC in Spanish). My companion, is none other than Sister Jacobsen who was on the plane with me. I love her so much! We get along so well and have such a great time together. She is seriously the best! Then, my district is myself, Sister Jacobsen, Elder Merrell, and Elder Stringam. Just the 4 of us. There are a total of 5 sisters (we are all in the same room), 3 districts (2 with 4 people and 1 with 5 people). Or in other words, there are 13 missionaries here! It's crazy small, but I absolutely love it!!!! We are all best friends already- it's the best! :) Because there aren't very many people here, the CCM is one hallway. If you look up a picture of the Dominican Republic MTC, you will see a building with 4 floors and the CCM is only the top floor. It's crazy. President and Sister Romney are the CCM presidents and yes, I'll be sure to say hi from Brenda. That's crazy that they know each other! 

My schedule is just about the same every day. I get up at 6, breakfast at 7, personal study 7:30-9:30, language/grammar 9:30-12:30, lunch 12:30-1:30, grammar/gospel application 1:30-3:45, gym time 3:45-5, dinner 5-6, investigator 6-9, CCM prayer 9:15, bed by 10:30. The food is fabulous! For breakfast we usually have pancakes, french toast, cereal, etc. (normal stuff :)). Lunch is always two different kinds of rice and two different meats (lunch is the main meal here, so we get TONS of food!!!!! I'm definitely going to gain weight here..... but the food is worth it :)). Dinner is pretty normal: pasta, lettuce wraps, tacos, etc. They have the best juice here called Chinola. I'm in love with it! Also, most days we make Pan-dulce. To make it, we take a Carribean-style deli bread and fill it with peanut butter, bananas, sugar, and sometimes oreos. Then we toast it and flatten it on a panini gridle type thing and then I put caramel and strawberry syrup on top. It's sooooo good!!!! Mmmmmmmm. :) For gymtime sometimes we play basketball or ultimate frisbee or volleyball, or foosball (spelling?). Yesterday, I played ping pong with one of the Dominican teachers. They pride themselves on their ping pong skills. We had a super intense match, it was awesome! So now I'm the gringo ping pong master apparently. Thanks Nathan and Christopher! :)

My teachers are Hermana Garcia and Hermano Martinez and Hermano Eve. I love them with all of my heart. They are seriously the best teachers ever!!! I LOVE Dominicans. :) From the very first day, we only speak in Spanish. It's hard and stressful and a little frustrating some times, but it's coming along. I've learned to be patient with myself and that I don't have to be perfect at everything right away. It's been a good lesson for me to learn. But did I mention that I love my teachers?! They help a lot. 

Sunday was really nice because sometimes I get so caught up in learning the language that I forget the spiritual side of things so Sunday was nice to get to refocus on spiritual things. And this morning we spent 4 hours in the temple and I absolutely loved every minute of it!!!

Anyways, I want to share some experiences that I've had with my investigators. Sister Jacobsen and I usually plan a pretty general outline for each lesson. So we planned one on Friday and then went in and gave the lesson, but then left feeling really badly about it. It didn't go at all how we wanted it too and it was very frustrating. Then on Saturday, after we had planned and as we were about to go in to teach our investigator, I felt prompted to say a prayer (something that we hadn't done on Friday). So we stopped and prayed and then went into our lesson. Planning is very important for us because we don't know a lot of the language so during planning we memorize phrases that we want to say. But during this lesson, our investigator shared with us something that took us on a different subject than what we had planned. But it worked. We felt the Spirit lead us to a different topic and as we followed that prompting we were blessed to know what to say and we had a really spiritual experience. I know it's all because we prayed at the beginning. It made me think of this scripture in Matthew 10:20 "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." It was such a cool experience and I really gained a testimony of letting the Spirit do the teaching and to teach people rather than lessons. 

Also, with the same investigator, I had my first experience teaching the Restoration and it went to well. The spirit was so strong and by teaching it, my own testimony of the Restoration was strengthened. Also, yesterday, during our lesson, our investigator was really struggling with his family and I just didn't feel like we should go on with our lesson but that we should focus on him. So I stopped our lesson and asked him a few questions. He finally opened up to us and all of a sudden I felt the Spirit stronger than I ever have before. My heart was pounding, my face was turning red and I felt so much power from the Spirit. I bore my testimony that the gospel can help him, and then I asked him if he believed that God could help him and he said yes. So then, going against everything Sister Jacobsen and I had talked about, I asked him if he would get baptized. And he said YES!!!! I was soooo happy!!!! We weren't planning on asking him to get baptized or even talk about baptism, but I felt so much strength and power from the Spirit. I felt like I was going to burst. It was the coolest thing I have ever experienced. 

I think the number one thing I'm learning here is how to love. I didn't realize how selfish I was before, but now all I do is think about my companion and about my investigator and I have been filled with so much love for both of them. I don't think I really ever knew what love was because I was always so focused on myself, but now I think I'm getting it. Everytime I go in to teach my investigator, I get a glimpse of God's love for each and everyone of us because I'm so full of love for him. Love is powerful and such a huge blessing. I'm grateful that I'm finally learning what love really is. 

Thank you for all of the support you have given me and continue to give me! I love you all so very much! My outfits are working great, but my shoes aren't that great.... I might need another pair but I don't know what to tell you about the size.... Also if anyone has any time to do some extra scripture study for me, I'm trying to make a list of scriptures linking the Bible and the Book of Mormon together to show that the Bible teaches similar things. Anyone want to help? :) 

Love you all so very much!!!!!!!!! Talk to you next week!

~Hermana Allan