Week 69 - 11/14/16 - 11/20/16

W1 of T12 11/14/16 - 11/20/16
Bike Stats
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Hey Fam!

Well here I am this week! I'm still here in Vidor and things are going great! I have a new companion and his name is Elder Spahr. I got a call on Sunday night from President Drake saying that I was going to get a companion straight from the MTC and I thought that this was going to be an interesting week. Well we went to Transfers the next day and I got Elder Spahr. I talked to him and found out that he actually didn't even go to MTC. He showed up straight to the mission office from his house... I was like what the heck? That doesn't happen, but ok. 

Come to find out he's originally from Mesa, Arizona, but had moved to Spring TX a few years ago. He is a super good missionary, I guess that's the reason that hey figured that he didn't need to go to the MTC.

Well, that's a little bit about us and this week! Sorry, I don't have too much time.

But here's some pictures!

Me and Elder Spahr.

Me with green pancakes.

Dinner at Paul's Seafood Shack

Week 67 - 10/31/16 - 11/6/16

W5 of T11 10/31/16 - 11/6/16
Bike Stats
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Weekly: ???
MaxSpd: ???
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Time: ???

I forgot to write the Bike Stats down this week before we left the apt:( first time in a long time that I've done that. Sorry guys. We did bike more this week than last week though!

Last week y'all got that really really long email and this week I wanted to send more pictures. So that's what I'm going to do!

What humidity does to fans.
We got our car stuck. But luckily all the members down here have trucks!

Dinner. Golden Grahams and Dr Pepper.

Our teaching pool when I got here.

Our teaching pool after I went through and fixed all the addresses.

Outline of our boundaries and teaching pool. Blue are less actives. Light gray are people who have been taught before but are no longer being taught. Green are progressing investigators. Dark Gray are potential. Yellow are New Investigators. Red are those who would like to be green, but can't find it within the depths of their soul to start doing something right in their lives...:(

This month as a mission, we are focusing on Revelation Through Sacrament Meeting Attendance. Think about Christ on the Road to Emmaus. I think it's found in Luke 24. 2 Disciples were walking on this road, leaving Jerusalem. Christ appeared to them, but was withheld from their sight. It's says that he expounded all the scriptures concerning himself from Moses and all the prophets to them. As the night fell, they asked him to Abide with them cause the day was far gone, meaning the sun was going down. He did so. Later that night, Christ broke bread with them and vanished from their sight. The 2 disciples looked at each other and remembered that their hearts had burned within them as they had talked by the way. They had read scriptures together. They had been in the presence of their Savior and didn't know Him. It wasn't until they broke bread together, meaning the Sacrament, that they fully realized who their guest was. If we don't go to church, if we stray away from the things we've been taught, we will wander to and fro, seeking the truth and will not find it, for we are not going to church and Worshipping. Scriptures are good and all, talking about Christ is good and all, but worshipping at Church brings a culmination  and a realization of this Spirit that we feel when we read the scriptures and talk of Christ. Going to church truly then allows us to Rejoice in Christ and His glorious Atonement. I know that this is true.

Hopefully that brightened someone's day! 

Alright! That about sums it up for this week! Have a nice week and keep being magnificent!

-Elder Allen

Week 66 - 10/24/16 - 10/30/16

W4 of T11 10/24/16 - 10/30/16
Bike Stats
Total: 1631.7 miles
Weekly: 3.657miles
MaxSpd: 20.8mph
AvgSpd: 9.2mpg
Time: 23min 40sec

Hey Fam and Friends!

I've been getting lots of questions about the Mission, the people, and the food down here and let me see if I can enlighten you on these topics. So I decided to plagiarize Elder Carson Birds brilliant idea of writing a General Epistle about what we are doing out here on Missions in various parts of the world! 

I am Elder Ben Allen and I am serving the Texas Houston East Mission of the Church. It is known as THE Mission of the Church. The best one. That's all there is to it;) We have the name Houston in the name of the Mission, but we don't actually cover any of down town Houston. Houston is made up of a bunch of smaller cities that the bigger Houston Government has annexed into the City of Houston. Last I heard, Houston is the 4th Largest city in the United States, but I recently heard that it just passed Chicago as the 3rd. But I can't verify that, so I don't know completely. THE Mission extends from just outside Downtown Houston all the way to Crowley, Louisiana, which isn't too far from Lafayette. It runs along the Gulf Coast and goes as far North as Lake Livingston. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros), NRG Stadium (Houston Texans), and BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo), are all on the other side of the mission boundaries. I've attached a marked up screenshot of the map. Kennedy Space Center is on the other side of the Highway as well. All in all, we really don't have any Tourist Attractions in our Mission. The mission right now is split into 6 zones: Kingwood, Summerwood, Pine Trails, Houston East, Beaumont, and Orange. Houston East was recently formed from Broadway and Pasadena Zones. When I served in Broadway, it was its own zone. I have served in Beaumont, Broadway, Summerwood, and now Orange.

The People down here are all in the Gas and Oil Industry. Big companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron are mostly based out of Houston and surrounding areas. There are a lot of refineries and plants. All of Houston and the surrounding areas live off of these plants. The life cycle that we live revolves around the different seasons and shifts. Missionary work is also affected by these because the Spring and Summer are when a lot of the plants are rolling over trying to expand the plants and do repairs. This creates a lot of jobs and a lot of workers go back to work for a few months. They will work 7-12s for weeks on end. 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. They'll do this for 14 days, then get a break day. When workers are on 7-12s it makes missionary work quite hard...

I am stationed in Vidor, Texas assigned to the Williamson 2nd Ward. We cover parts of north and South Vidor and a little bit of Mauriceville. Vidor was originally founded way back when some missionaries came in about a 100 years ago and baptized a few big families, the Williamsons, the LaPrays, and the Odoms. Every member in Vidor or Beaumont thats not a transplant is a member of one of these families. They are all interconnected in some way, shape, or form. There are enough members here in Vidor  that everyone knows at least 1 or 2 of them. Every non member that we come in contact with has talked with members before. It makes missionary work a little bit different; we work a lot through the Less Actives on the rolls to find unbaptized children or spouses to teach. The Williamson 2nd Ward is part of the Orange Texas Stake. There are 4 Wards in Vidor: Williamson 1, 2, 3, and 4. We all meet in the same building on Sunday and it makes for an interesting Block. Church times are at 8:30, 10:30, 12:30, and 2:30. Right now we go to 12:30, but are going to be rolling over to 2:30 at the New Year. The 2nd Ward incorporates people from all the different families  as well as a few Utah or Idaho transplants, mostly those that married into these big families. Our Bishop is a man named Bishop Quirante and he is a very nice man. Our Ward Mission Leader is one of the best I've ever had, a man named Brother Hatton. He's a hard working, former Bishop who knows his stuff. He gets things done when they need to get done and he likes to be involved in all the missionary efforts around the Ward. 

The food down here is pretty good. There is a lot of Cajun Influence and that means spice and rice. The spice is amazing and the rice is pretty good too. I've ballooned in the last month or so since I've been here. Not necessarily a good thing, but having a car isn't helping either. Need I say more on that? Ok thought so.

Moving on to the more Spiritual side of things. We've been sharing 2 Nephi 25:26 with just about everyone that we come in contact with, members and no members alike. 

"26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

Everything in this Church and what we believe revolves around Our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement for our sins. Sometimes we get too caught up in the prophet Joseph Smith or the Restoration of the Gospel that we forget what the Gospel is. Gospel literally means 'good news.' When we share the Gospel, we are spreading the Good News, being that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us and that through Him, we can be forgiven and washed clean. We do this through being obedient to the Laws and Ordinances that have been set forth: Faith, Repentance, Baptism by Immersion, and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those holding the Priesthood Authority from God. 

Yes the Restoration was necessary. Yes the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. Why did the Gospel have to be restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Why do we need the Book of Mormon? For sake of time, I won't go into too much detail. The answer is simple: Through the Book of Mormon, we gain a greater understanding of the Divine role of our Savior and a witness that the Priesthood has been restored and because of this, a knowledge that we have the authority and power to be cleansed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

I know that this is true. I know that we have a Savior who loves us very much and wants the best for us. As we let Him work within our hearts, He can change them. I know this through prayerful study of the Book of Mormon and application of the principles contained within. 

I love y'all! Happy Halloween!

-Elder Allen

Week - 65 - 10/17/2016

W2 of T11
Bike Stats
Total: 1618.0 miles
Weekly: 9.400 miles
MaxSpd: 21.3 mph
AvgSpd: 10.3 mph
Time: 54 min 34 sec

Hey Fam! As you can see from the Bike Stats, we didn't go to far this week on bikes. All our appointments were on other ends of town from each other, so we blew through a whole bunch of miles this week... but it was good! We taught a whole bunch of people and whole bunch of lessons, so that was good!

Vidor just keeps getting better and better! We met a lady this week named Monique; she has taken the lessons for a while now and she doesn't really know how to transition everything to action. She has a pet raccoon. And 9 cats. And 5 birds. A rabbit. 30+ dogs. All small little chihuahua dogs... I stopped counting at 30 cause well, that's just too many. Very very loud house.

This week,was homecoming week! Everything in Vidor shuts down for homecoming, all the schools get out early, the businesses shut down. Everything closes. Main Street shuts down and there's a parade. The football game is later that night. The parade was good and we didn't get to go to the football game,  but Vidor won! So that's good. 

I had oysters for the first time... they were already shelled and on ice. Didn't taste bad necessarily and the texture is a little less than to be desired, but overall it wasn't bad! There was fried shrimp and fish and French fries. It was a little hole in the wall shack, but it was very good!:) 

It was a good week!

Address update. I sent the wrong one:(  
Elder Allen
255 E Courtland Apt B
Vidor, TX 77662

Don't worry too much! If you sent it to 265 E Courtland I'll still get it. But send it here now. This is ours.

Thanks Fam! Bye!

-Elder Allen


Week 64 - 10/3/16 - 10/9/16

W1 of T11 10/3/16 - 10/9/16
Bikes Stats
Total: 1608.6miles
Weekly: 35.065miles
MaxSpd: 21.0mph
AvgSpd: 9.9mph
Time: 3hrs 31min 58sec

Hey Fam! It sure is nice to be in a car:) I'm gaining weight pretty fast. Lots of good food and not as much biking cause our area is massive. We still bike as much as we can, but its not as much as I did in any of my last areas. 

I love Vidor! There are so many cool people here! And they're all rednecks. Its insane. I think that I have seen more wacky things in the last few days than I have anywhere else. More Confederate flags than I've seen in my life. They are everywhere. In front yards. On trees. Cars. Trains. Painted on buildings. You name it, I'm sure we could find a Confederate flag somewhere around there. 

There is a semi active member that has two husbands right now. They all live in the same house and they all sleep in the same room. Go figure. Just Vidor.

We are teaching a fellow named Don. His dog bit a girl, so he disciplined it. He put a .38 hollow point through the back of its head. The dog got up and walked away. Jaw swelled up real bad, but nothing other than that... I saw the entrance wound. And the exit wound. They said that a few days after they shot it, the hollow point just dropped out of its head. I dunno if I believe that part, but hey, makes the story even better, right? They just dont make people the same up North:) I love it!

I've been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and in the Doctrine and Covenants. Also, one of my old comps friends sent him a study guide that the California Anaheim Mission is doing on the Atonement and I have been doing that. Some of the things that it has you read gives you a completely different view on things. I've come to realize that the Atonement is actually quite simple to understand, we don't know exactly how it works, but we know that it does. Thats the way we know its true. The Atonement of Jesus Christ works because the Son was universally loved by all of Gods children. He was perfect. And because He is perfect, He is the only one that could've offered such a sacrifice. There are a few other things that go into more depth, but for sake of time, I'm not going to try to explain it all here. But the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants teach everything you need to know about what the Atonement is and how you can use it in your life. So read them!

On top of that, we had 2 baptisms this week! One was a 13 year old named Tanner and the other was a 9 year old named Allyssa. Both have been taught the lessons and we confirmed yesterday!:) I didn't really do anything other than make sure that it happened and that they got interviewed. Other than that, they were both good to go! 

We are seeing success here in Vidor! The field is white, already to harvest. And lo, he the thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store, the he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul. This is truth! 

Love y'all! Bye!

-Elder Allen

Week 63 - 9/26/16 - 10/2/16

W6 of T10 9/26/16 - 10/2/16
Bike Stats
Total: 1573.5 miles
Weekly: 56.986 miles
MaxSpd: 26.3 mph
AvgSpd:10.0 mph
Time: 5hrs 40min 62sec

Hey Fam and Friends! I have been transferred out of Summerwood! It was hard to say bye, but it was time and I know that I am where I need to be. I left lots of good friends and will continue to stay in touch with them.

As I said, I have been transferred!! My new comp is Elder Holladay from Lehi, UT. He has been out for 3 months now and just finished being trained by my old comp, Elder Biesinger from Beaumont. We have lots of good things going on right now and it will be good. I also have a car:) Elder Holladay made me drive home from transfers, about a 2 hour drive. First time in forever that I got to put my hands on the wheel of a car.

Oh wait, never told you where I got transferred, silly ol me. New Address!!:

Elder Ben Allen
265 E Courtland 
Vidor, TX 77662

Im in Vidor Texas in the Williamson 2nd Ward! Its about a half hour east of Beaumont. Not quite Louisiana yet, but getting there. Its a country area with Cajun influence. Also lots of Mormon influence! 

This is promising area with a lot of potential and I suspect that we will see some baptisms here soon. 

Love y'all very much! Have a great time doing whatever it is that normal people do!

-Elder Allen

Quick tour of the Apt. The locals call it Nelly's Cottage