Letters from Home

Elders Across Town

Week 7 9/14/15-9/20/15

Pday is like a national holiday. Not really but still... Transfers are today. Crazy, huh!? I've been out an entire transfer. It's a little bit wacko. It's gone by so dang fast. We had dinner tonight with R, our recent convert. He made us gumbo and it's the first time I've actually had gumbo. It's kinda strange and it's like nothing I've ever eaten before, but it's good! Actually it was really good.

Well we started out the day by knocking doors. Or that's what we had planned... On the way we were stopped by a preacher at a truck stop. (I didn't know they had those...) he started challenging our beliefs a little bit and after listening to him rant for about 15 minutes we asked him if he wanted a Book of Mormon. You should've seen the look on his face! He not so kindly told us no so we shared our testimonies and moved on, cause you know, we can't be wasting the Lords time on people like that...;) well we got to the area that we wanted to knock and started knocking. The first guy that answered was strongly anti, because he'd attended the Calvary Baptist church a few times. Apparently they show anti movies and stuff in their services. Who does that!? Anyway, he essentially told us to get lost and that he didn't want to stoop so low as to get into an argument over who was right and who was wrong... So we asked if he wanted a Book of Mormon and he "kindly" told us to leave. The next house was an older lady who came to the door and asked us what we wanted. We told her we were the missionaries and that started he on how she was Calvary Baptist and how she knew we weren't going to heaven cause we worshipped some guy who rewrote the Bible. We tried to correct her, but it didn't work so well. So we bore our testimonies and moved on, cause some people are just so stubborn that nothing you can say or do will bring the Spirit into their lives. It's sad really. Next house, guess what!? Calvary Baptist, aka Anti people who tell us we are too far gone to even try to save. And so it goes on for a few more houses. It was fun, love contention. And we offered a Book of Mormon to each person. We met some weird people today... Pentecostal who was convinced that speaking in tongues is not of the devil, pregnant lady who told us her life story, and then a guy who actually wanted a Book of Mormon! He is a super cool guy who was raised Pentecostal, but after he turned 18 started visiting all the churches he could. He knew that they're had to be more. So we had a good discussion about what "more" he was looking for. We are going to go back and teach him more!

Well today we didn't do much cause we had an appointment with a lady that taught us the entire plan of salvation... She talked a lot, but it was good! We were able to teach her a little bit about the restoration. Little bits here and there. It turned into a two and a half hour lesson. I invited her to be baptized and she kindly said no... But she's awesome and we are going to keep meeting with her and trying to get her into the fold. 

Tonight was a lot more anti... Heavenly Father is testing us. One house after another. This is the first real opposition that I've run into down here. 

Today we had weekly planning. Weekly planning in the first week of the transfer is where we try to come up with our transfer goals. We also make specific goals to get people to church. We filled out an entire whiteboard with people's names and what we can do to help them. We knocked a street today with a member named Ian, I think I may have mentioned him a few weeks ago. He's the one going to Hong Kong on his mission. Anyway, surprise surprise! More anti. More doors slammed. More people telling us to go away. It's super tough to face it. But what can you do? Work harder, move on to the next house and so on. And offer them the gospel each time. Smile at them. Tell them to have a nice day. Just be like Christ would be. Because He is our strength and our guide, and we are representatives sent to assist Him in this great work. 

We had zone meeting today! It was amazing! It was all about working with the ward and how we can better work with the Ward Council. I was able to learn so much and so was everybody else! So yep, bottom line, it was amazing!

We went out contacting (again, cause all our appts fell through, again) more opposition. We met a lot of people, but nobody was really interested. (Again.) That's about how the day went...

Sorry for not much detail on the last few days, but we haven't seen or done much other than gotten told to get off people's porches...

This morning started with a Ward Correlation Meeting (yet another of the never ending meeting circle of the life of a missionary) with our Ward Mission Leader. He's such a cool guy! I've told yall about him and how's he coached football for many years. 

After that, more contacting. Still nothing solid. It's gets old hearing the same thing over and over. You know, the whole I'm Baptist and that book can't be true. 

They don't know what truth is. I do. We do. And we have come to share it with them that reject us. All day. Day after day. 

The day ended after we had knocked for quite a few hours, and skipped dinner. We wanted to find somebody. Didn't matter who it was. We just wanted to find someone that would listen to us. We were kind of dejected. We had knocked from 1 till dark or so cause all the lessons we had lined up canceled. We didn't teach any doorstep lessons. Everybody just told us to get off their porch. Or they would listen for a while, we would talk to them and then they would say they weren't interested. Come about 8:00 we finally decided to head home for some dinner, cause obviously we weren't having any success knocking or talking to people. We should've given up round 4, but decided to stick with it. So we started to head home. We were biking through some back roads so we could ride side by side and talk about the day. We turn the corner and there were a few kids outside. We stopped and started talking to them. Gradually more and more kids came and started talking and asking questions about religion. We sat down on some guys driveway and had an hour long lesson/Q and A session with about 5 kids aged from 10-18. Come to find out, they all go to Calvary Baptist Church... But they were so cool and they wanted to learn. And we could answer their questions! The Spirit was definitely guiding our answers. It was a really cool experience and I'm grateful that we had it. The biggest obstacle in baptizing these kids will be the fact that their parents are anti. We will see what happens.

Church today was amazing! The talks were so good and the Spirit was super strong! I wish we could've had any investigator there. We invited so many different people and none of them came. We did everything that we could to get people to church, but none of them came. It was kind of sad

For lunch I made pancakes for a few of us elders. We had invited the Beaumont South Elders over for lunch and I fed them all pancakes. Seriously, we have pancakes like once a day. I'm getting super good at making them. Not to brag or anything...;) thanks mom! We really like pancakes. Instant mix is like our greatest friend ever. The whole "Just Add Water" thing really makes me excited! 

We had an awesome lesson tonight. It was probably the best lesson we've taught. We had never met the person that we were teaching and an hour later, she wanted to be baptized. Simple as that. But we might have to give her to the YSA Missionaries, cause she's about that age. We had a member there with us, Brother DeMoss and I'll tell you, members bring the spirit stronger than missionaries. Without fail every time. The members testimonies are more powerful and effective than our testimonies as full time missionaries. I don't know what it is, but I'd rather have members teach than have us teach, cause the Spirit that is brought is so great and powerful. All yall are missionaries. We are just the full time ones. Live your life in such a way as to be an example to others so as to invite discussion about religion. Recognize opportunities when they arise and take them. You never know what can happen.

-Elder Allen

Week 6 9/7/15-9/13/15

Week 6 9/7/15-9/13/15
Today was pday! We played soccer at the Cris Quinn soccer complex.
Look it up on satellite images. It's so big! It's massive. It's out in West Beaumont. After pday, we had dinner with our investigator. It was a really good bbq! First Texas bbq! Our investigator, R, is a manager at a local restaurant and he knows how to cook cause he's Cajun. We had chicken, crab, hamburger, beef, pork, you name it. It was so good! We are on exchanges now. It's Elder Dominguez and I. Two greenies. Brand new. We have somewhat of an idea of what we are doing.
But only somewhat. Haha we will see how tomorrow goes...

Woke up and ate a Carolina Reaper Pepper this morning for fun. I don't recommend it. But it was fun, so it's ok. The Hermanas made us. Note:
My tongue burned for the rest of the day...

I'm still with Elder Dominguez! We spent the day tracting and meeting people. We had a lesson with a Less Active this afternoon. He's in a living village for mentally handicapped people. Let me tell you, that was an interesting lesson. We finally just referred him to the Bishop.

We spent the rest of the day knocking doors. We met tons of people and taught quite a few lessons! Just Elder Dominguez and I. Two brand new missionaries! We started off the day super super nervous. We didn't know what we were going to do without our trainers. It's like having a whole chicken then taking its head away. The head does all the thinking and the body does all the work. Two heads don't go together and two headless chicken bodies don't have anything to think with or know how to act or what to say or anything like that... But it's amazing to see the Lord take over throughout the course of the day! We met one lady who wanted to know so much! It was a super cool experience to be on her doorstep answering questions. Just two Elders that have only been out for a month or so answering this lady's questions about what we know to be true. We sat on her doorstep for about 45 minutes teaching her about the Gospel. And everything just seemed to click with her. Too bad this isn't my area, so I won't get to teach her the rest of the lessons.

Just got a call from our trainers. They said that they're too tired to exchange back right now, so we will exchange back tomorrow. Still can't feel my tongue. You know how when hot chocolate burns your tongue? Well that's what it feels like... And then some.

We exchanged back this morning. It was a good exchange that I learned a lot from. Not too much happened today, just a lot of knocking doors when it was sunny and putting records into the iPad, cause it rained a lot today.

But we did meet with R again today! He's a super solid guy and has the qualities that I want to have as a father. Dad, he reminds me a lot of you. He will do anything for his family and I mean anything.
He just has this persona about him that makes you want to like and trust him.

On our way to the church, we were at a stoplight and a truck pulled up. The kid driving was about our age, maybe a little older. His mom, at least that's what I'm assuming, was sitting shotgun. He looks at us, digs in his pockets for a second and the window goes down. Now he's about three feet away from me. He leans out the window and hands me a $5 bill and says that dinner is on him tonight! Go figure. Nice people. I tried to deny it but he wouldn't let me and we were running out of time. So I kind of stammered a thank you and handed him a Family Proclamation and said something along the lines of I don't have any money for you but I do have salvation and eternal life and everlasting happiness and joy. He kind of looked at me funny which either means that that's what he needed to hear or it means he didn't exactly understand my rant... I think it was the latter. But he told us to keep doing "the Lords Evangelical Work" and keep being true Christians. It's good to see that someone recognizes us for who we are and what we stand for! It was a good reminder:)

R had his Baptismal interview today and we are still set to have a baptism this Saturday! He's sharing the Gospel with everyone already. He's invited so many people to his baptism. We got a text tonight saying that he invited the bus driver to his baptism... And he's coming. Go figure... My comp and I had a great laugh over that!
He told everyone at work that he is getting baptized on Saturday and that they are all invited, so we will see who shows up. He has a few friends that he wants to introduce us to already. I'll tell you what, the joy that come from bringing one soul unto Christ is immense. More than I've really ever experienced before. It's a different kind of joy that fills a gap in my Spirit. I never realized how long I've been waiting for this joy and happiness!

We had a cool experience today while knocking doors. We knocked this one house after prayerfully picking a street to knock. A nice lady came to the door, recognized us, and invited us in. She used to feed Elders and Sisters at Mcds in North Dakota... Come to find out, she and her husband had seen us 3 or 4 times in the last week on our bikes then all of the sudden, one night we show up on her doorstep.
Coincidence? I think not. She told us that she's been using our church's teaching materials to teach her Sunday school class at her church for years and absolutely loves it all. We showed her Gospel Library and what we can do with it. Well that intrigued her very much and after watching a Mormon Message, she asked when we could come back and teach her more about this stuff. Elder Leftwich and I kind of looked at each other and our jaws dropped. This kind of stuff just doesn't happen in Beaumont. So we set up a return appt with her and I'll let yall know how it goes!

We had district meeting this morning and it was awesome! Kind of the last one of the transfer... Kinda crazy. I've been out a whole transfer. We are supposed to get calls tonight or tomorrow to see who gets transferred or not. We were supposed to go on exchanges with the ZLs today, but it ended up not happening.

Oh! And we got a call telling us that someone needed a blessing in a hospital! This Sister is in the ICU and nobody has any idea why.
Nobody saw her at church or out and about in a while and her home teacher started wondering what was up. So he started calling her family to see what's up and her entire family is not supportive of the church and women's tell him anything... They aren't supportive of her either, so they really had no idea what's happened to her. Well her home teacher finally found her son, and he is the only one that's even remotely supportive of the church and her, and the home teacher found out she was in the ICU. We don't know why. Anyway, this is where we come in. We get a call saying that she needs a blessing so we have the opportunity to go and give her a blessing. Fast forward a little while to account for travel time, and we arrive at the hospital. We get up to the ICU and her home teacher is in the waiting room. Let's get one thing straight, I don't like the hospital. Or at least not the ICU, cause everyone is bandaged up and there's the annoying heart monitor and you can feel everyone's life draining out of them. Yep, don't like that place. We finally find the room that got her inside of it. And she's laying on a bed fidgeting around all over the bed and she's completely out of it. Kinda creepy... Anyway, we decide who's giving the blessing and I'm the one that ended up giving to her. Immediately after I closed, she stopped fidgeting and moving and went completely calm. The priesthood is a real power and it is the Authority to act in the manner that Jesus Christ Himself would act if He were there and our experience today was an absolute manifestation that it is indeed a real power.

Well still no transfer calls, but we have R's baptism today! Super excited. We spent the morning getting everything together for that and making sure everything was taken care of. We put together a program and then headed over to the church to copy it and fill the font. It took us a while to find the controls to the water of the font, but overall, it went off without a hitch! R showed up and he was practically glowing cause he was so happy! You could tell that there was something special about him today.

The baptismal program was fantastic! The entire program was just absolutely spectacular! My comp and I had the opportunity to be the witnesses for the baptism and when he came up out of the water, he was so happy! I understand what the scriptures say when our joy will be full when we bring one soul unto Christ. I can't stop smiling about it as I'm typing this! I haven't felt this happy in a long time! It makes me want to keep working and bringing people to Christ.

We went out tonight and started contacting people. We met quite a few people, taught a lesson or two, but nothing to solid came of it other than one lady who says she will be at church tomorrow or the next week to check it out, which is good. Maybe we will end up teaching her.

Got a call, my comps most recent convert in his last area was found dead in an overturned car. I was there to witness the baptism in my first few weeks out and it kinda put a damper on things. But the thing is, him being taken off the Earth doesn't feel wrong. Neither my comp nor myself feel that he was taken before his time. He actually told the other missionaries that he didn't think he would be on the Earth much longer. Go figure. But he's now teaching in the Spirit world, which is a good thing, cause he has such an amazing testimony! I only met him for a little while, but he was a super cool guy!

Oh, and I got my first letter!!! Thanks Josh!!! I love getting letters and have only gotten one... Hint hint;)

We watched a spider spin it's web outside our window. It was intricate and beautiful. There is beauty all around, just look for it!

We were able to confirm R today and my comp and I were asked to stand in the circle and it has been one of the sweetest experiences of my life. After sacrament, we were asked to stand in the circle as he was ordained to the office of a priest. Another super sweet experience! It has been a truly wonderful day so far and a special one

We found another new investigator tonight. We met him on the street and his name is M. He is about dads age and has been doing martial arts since he was 16... He's about as tall as dad too. But has more muscle than dad...;)

One transfer is over... Kinda crazy that I've been out 6 weeks. Sheesh.

-Elder Allen

Week 5 8/31/15 - 9/6/15

Week 5 8/31/15 - 9/6/15
Pday! We actually got $$$ today! So no more creative top ramen meals. We bought some food to put in our empty cupboards, that's a good thing! Yesterday we were starving, so we borrowed from milk from the other missionaries so we could make up the last of our pancake mix. They came over and we were going to have pancakes for lunch. My companion says that he's going to make them so the other 3 of us just kinda sit back and relax. He yells for us that they're done and ready to eat. We set the table and sit down to eat. First bite all of us spit it back out. They weren't that good... He had used salt instead of the sugar. I don't know how, and he doesn't either, but we screwed up the pancakes from the last of our pancake mix. So we were extra grateful to have $$$ to buy food. 

We didn't do much for pday. We went to the church and my comp brought some piano sheet music so we tried to play it for a few hours. That was really it. Our ride dropped us off at the church and had to go get their oil changed in their car. So we basically kept to ourselves the entire day.

We just had dinner with a really nice couple! He races street bikes and follows MotoGP even more than we did... Anyway, we got to talking and he took me into his garage and showed me his brand new KTM RC390. It's a really nice bike! He has races basically once a month and he showed us some of the GoPro footage from his last race. Way cool! So dad, I can still stay kinda caught up in MotoGP, just can't watch the races.

It rained all day today. Which was kinda a bummer, cause it was bad enough that biking is really tough in it. So we stayed inside most of the day and called a bunch of referrals and transferred more records from the paper copies to the electronic copies. It's was just a bummer day altogether. We did go to mcdonalds today for lunch with the other elders. The McDonald's down here are so much nicer than they are in Utah! My gosh, it's crazy. The burgers actually look kinda sorta like the pictures! 

We were in Zone Conference all day today. It was way good! I was able to learn so much from everything that was said. President and Sister Drake are amazing! So cool to be able to see them again. The APs are amazing too! They are such great missionaries and set a perfect example for us. They truly are wonderful and dedicated missionaries.

We had a meeting with R tonight. There are 10 days left till his baptismal date and he's totally going to get baptized! There is no doubt in my mind or in his mind or in my comps mind. He's doing everything necessary for baptism and he's willing to keep all the things that we have committed him to so far. He's asking questions and the ones he doesn't ask we are still answering. At the end of each lesson, he's looked at us funny and asked us if we were like reading his mind or anything. Throughout the lesson, at random times he'd look at us and ask us how we knew that he'd been thinking about this certain topic or that we'd just answered and expounded upon a question he had during the previous day... The Spirit does talk to man. Revelation does happen, even today! It's amazing and it's something I've experienced before, but not really. If that makes sense. I truly love helping people. I love bringing them to the Atonement. I love them. I love the doctrine we are teaching. I love keeping the commitments that we are inviting them to keep. I love my Savior. I .love proclaiming His gospel and o know that through Him and His Atonement, anything and everything is possible. I'm so blessed to be out serving my Lord. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that He chose me for such an important responsibility, but He did, knowing full well that I am completely inadequate of such an important task. 

Well we made pancakes this morning. Or I made pancakes this morning. I wouldn't let him come close to them cause ya know, salt and everything. I have a completely newfound love for pancakes. I love them. They are amazing. I liked them before I came out, but now I love them a lot. Pancakes really are one of Gods greatest creations and I've decided that there had better be pancakes in Heaven or it won't be Heaven. That might be a tad blasphemous but it's true. 

We have a meeting with the Ward Mission leader today. His name is Brother H and he's awesome! He coached high school football for 35 years or so. Everybody just calls him coach. And he's crazy good at Simon says. We played with us 4 missionaries in our correlation meeting a few weeks back. I got out in 10 seconds. And I wasn't even the first one out. We all were out by about 30 seconds. He picks on individuals. And he's crazy good. 

It's raining again. We are waiting for it to calm down a little bit so that we can do what we are supposed to be doing... Just finished weekly planning and it's been raining for a few hours. But it's getting progressively lighter, so I think that means that we are good! See yall later!

We had dinner with a nice lady and then spent a few hours knocking doors. We met some really nice people, but nothing solid. I can't help but think about how many people pass by salvation each day. They reject happiness. Who does that?! Who, in their right mind, would reject peace and happiness and the gift of the Holy Ghost? They just don't know what the Lord has to offer them. I haven't met anyone down here yet who has a Mormon friend who doesn't think that friend is the happiest and kindest person on the planet. That they have something in their lives that brings that happiness. If we, as members, truly understood that importance of the Gospel and the Atonement, we would share it with as many people as we could find, without hesitation. If we understood the enabling power of the Atonement, we wouldn't fear anything or anyone. Why would anyone not want to forgiven and remissed of all their sins? This life is to know joy! So partake of it. Don't get so caught up in the sorrow. There is always something to be happy about. Always. Don't wallow in self pity. Find someway to use your situation to help others. And if you can't find someway to help on your own, ask your Father in Heaven. Or just ask Him first, might save time...;) 

Well we had district meeting this morning and it was all about planning! All the Sisters are really good at it and the Elders aren't, go figure. So the Hermanas taught it and all the Elders are sitting there looking at each other like yep, we should actually do that. And that. And that. And that'd be good to do too. We should probably incorporate that into our planning. Somehow. Yep... 

That's how district meeting went...;) it was great! But we actually learned so much and it was amazing!

Got home from district meeting and I had a package!!! The first snail mail I've gotten since I've been in Texas! Thanks Mom!! I love you! It honestly made my day:)

Anyway, after that we decided to redo weekly planning and actually try to plan stuff...;) yall know how I am. I don't plan. Anyway, we actually sat down and started to plan. And we planned and planned and then decided to go talk to people, cause that's what we're somewhat good at and biking actually feels like missionary work. Go figure. So we spent the rest of the day riding around Beaumont talking to people and teaching them about the Restored Gospel and how it can bless them and their families on an individual basis. We have found that people are more receptive to hearing a message about family than about hearing a message about how our Church is true. But if you can start with the family and eventually work your way towards how the Gospel blesses families and how our church is centered around families and show them The Family: A Proclamation to the World that was put out by a modern day Prophet of the Lord, they are a lot more receptive to a message about the restored Gospel. Make sense? That's what we've learned in the last week or so. 

So today I'm supposed to be on exchanges with the ZL, but that didn't happen last night. We got a phone call saying they weren't going to exchange with us... Go figure. Elders. Sheesh;) but that's ok! Cause now my comp and I get to teach Robert, who is totally getting baptized! W had an awesome lesson with him and the Spirit was so strong! 

Something that's hit me hard this week is just how much the Spirit is in our lives. If a thought comes and it prompts you to do good, then it is the Holy Ghost prompting you to do something. Nothing that prompts you to do bad or have bad thoughts or actions will ever come from God. I'd invite all yall to watch the Mormon message titled Patterns of Light. It's a 3 part video but it's super good cause it's done by Elder Bednar. 

Just finished biking through yet another rainstorm. The weather here is almost worse than Utah, one second it's raining and the next it's super sunny, then it's raining again. There's just no difference or sudden drop in temperature. I think we are actually supposed to be getting some tropical storms or hurricanes or something in the next month. Could be fun! Lots of service opportunities and it'd be cool to just be in one. But, our apt is the bottom one, which means it'll flood a lot faster than the ones upstairs. And there are no hills or mountains to run too. But Beaumont is kinda sorta inland, so there might not be so much flooding as there is destruction. Or we will all evacuate. The big announcement at zone conference was that we all need to stock up on water and don't drive with less than a half tank of gas. So yep! I'll keep you posted on that sort of thing! Apparently we are in El NiƱo this year. But I have yet to see what a little boy has to do with the weather...

Everybody is so nice! Sure we get the odd one or two that come to the door and politely tell us to go away, but everybody else is so happy! They know exactly who we are and what we are doing and they keep telling us that everybody needs to hear about Jesus and that there are so many people who don't have Jesus in their lives. We have yet to find the ones that don't. Everybody has some form of Him in their lives. 

We just met an 89 year old man who has pet geese. He was sitting in his yard with a bunch of geese around him. We stopped and talked to him and he's way cool! We started to go over to shake his hand and these geese started hissing at us... Attack geese. I'm 95% sure. So we talked to him for a while (without shaking his hand) across his yard, cause ya know, geese and such. It was difficult cause the geese were honking and his guy is basically deaf and he was sitting about 25 feet away. Anyway he's telling us that he's been on national television a few times with his geese and that these geese follow him around everywhere. He told us a story about when his geese basically attacked this dog cause this dog started walking behind them on the road. He was out walking his geese... No leashes though. But this dog ended up running away with its tail between its legs. I've decided that I'm gonna get me some geese when I get older and retire. But this guy visits the hospital 4-5 times a week, just to say hi and talk to patients he's never seen before. But he leaves his geese at home when he goes to the hospital. Super Christian. Has a very strong belief in Christ, but not interested in our message. Too bad too. He says that his geese are going to outlive him cause they live for quite a few years. 

Church here is so different. Testimony meeting was a little bit strange. We had a member that stood up and started just straight up preaching to us... He started praising the Lord and it was just weird... I think he is a new member that just converted from some Pentecostal church. But it was just like something I imagined seeing at some Pentecostal church... So offense intended.

-Elder Allen


We have a baptism lined up for this Saturday!  It's go,an be awesome. I hope you got the picture of the cookies... 
 There's only two of us, so I only had to make two cookies.:)