March 7, 2016

California, I love you so.

​As hard as I try, I don't think this email will even come close to express how full my heart is right now. Can't really believe that this is it and I'll be home Wednesday night

I won't turn this into a novel, but just wanted to share one last time with all how grateful I am for each of you and how supportive you have all been to me the past 17 months. It's amazing to look back at my first day in the MTC, first day in the field and now. There's still so much that I need to learn and understand but I'll always be thankful for this life-changing experience. I know that I'll still have trials and challenges but I know that the experiences that I've had-the good and the bad, none of them have been wasted and that the Lord will use all of these things I've learned for what he has in store.

There's so much that I want to say, I've been feeling so peaceful and calm this week until I woke up this morning and now I'm a nervous wreck to see you all so soon. My mind is all over the place but I know that it's time for me to come home, I know that it's time for this next chapter and I can't wait for it.

I love my mission so much. I'm thankful for every area I've worked in, companion, investigator, member and nonmember that I've had the opportunity to meet and cross paths with. All the tears and laughter. Prayers of gratitude and prayers of desperation offered to a loving Heavenly Father. I know that I am his child. I know the gospel is true. I know that Joseph Smith really did see the Father and His son, Jesus Christ. We have a prophet on the earth who leads and guides us so that we can return safely home. I know that as we keep the commandments, we will be happy and we will stay on the path. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that He atoned for each of us for everything. Not just our sins and transgressions but our pains, insecurities, weaknesses, worries, doubts and fears and everything in between. It's through him that we can become a better version of ourselves, we will find the best parts of ourselves as we follow him and let Him make of us what he needs. If I only learned that on my mission, that would be enough. I love him and I'm thankful for this opportunity to serve as one of his representatives full time, to wear his name on my chest and to say that with confidence. He has been with me every step of the way and I'm thankful that He has become a personal friend with whom I share a close relationship with and want to live my life better because of what he has done for me. 

I love you all, thank you for the kind and encouraging words, especially these past few weeks. I will see you soon!

All my love, for the last time,
Sister Kelly Allen 


February 29, 2016

And then there was one.

holy moly. how is it leap day? how is it almost march? how is it that i'm coming home next week? my mind is all over the place. 

Here's my word dump from the week, I apologize in advanced if it's scattered. 

Monday night we were planning on another lesson with Anthony but it fell through, instead we were able to go over to a family's house that have been struggling the past few months and did family home evening with them. They have the most darling kids, I'll miss them! Monday night it started to settle in that I was down to 2 weeks, to which Sister Munns (that darling girl, I love her so) asked me what I really wanted to do this week. I told her that all I wanted was to serve those around us. We've already established several times, the people in mountain house aren't too crazy about us, but that doesn't mean we can't serve! Despite not getting to teach or talk to a lot of people, we could come home at the end of the each day knowing we'd done our best, served and talked with everyone we could. 

Thursday Sister Palmer came out and worked with us for a few hours. I'm always a little nervous when she spends a few hours with us. We weren't planning on her in our area and one of our lessons fell through so when she got there we told her we didn't have very many people to try and instead went contacting at the park. It's gorgeous right now, I love this time of year. While we were with sister Palmer, we tried a less active part member family. We've gone by a few times and the non-member wife has answered and reluctantly told us a good time to come back and then cancels that morning. When we knocked on the door, their son answered the door and told us his parents weren't home. We were still outside deciding where to try next when they both pulled up and invited us inside! The wife hit it off right away with sister palmer, especially when she found out that Sister palmer was catholic before she joined the church. We had a really great discussion and were able to set up a time to come back and start doing practice lessons for their two younger sons that she would like to get baptized when they turn 8. So hey, not too shabby! Sister palmer is such a special person, we're so thankful that she was with us to make that connection with his wife in a way we wouldn't have been able to. 

I'm looking over my planner at what we did the rest of the week...not a whole lot to report on. Sunday we had ward conference, we have the most incredible stake president. By far my favorite that I've had on my mission. We were waiting for sacrament meeting to start and there still weren't very many members there, when he came over to talk with us for a few minutes. When he asked us if we were having any teaching opportunities we told him we had some, but not a lot. He told us to remember that the efforts we make don't go unnoticed and are never wasted. Sometimes it feels like we don't do a whole lot and people ignore us but it can take a long time for some people. He told us that missionaries in one of the other zones started working with a less active part member family and that they'd gotten baptized the night before. Turns out the older brother (husband? can't remember which one) was in young men's with our stake president when he was a leader and that it had been 13 or so years but ended up baptizing the rest of his family. I don't have all of the details but how cool, right? It was a tender mercy to talk with him and how understanding he was. 

The members in our ward keep asking me how many days left and how I'm feeling. I spent a few minutes on Saturday and talked with one of our ward missionaries who served in Germany. I asked her how she felt when she was almost done with her mission. Her answer? Tired. I was really, really tired and knew that it was time to come home and move onto the next chapter. So I feel more comfortable with a week left to say that I'm looking forward to this next chapter. Of course I'm going to miss this and will always be so thankful for how I've learned and grown in so many ways but I know it's time to move forward to what the Lord has waiting for me. We have a zone meeting on Thursday and I've been asked to bear my testimony. I'm sure I'll be a wreck. I'll probably spend some time next week with some final thoughts, but I'll go ahead and say now how grateful I am for the last 17 months. The ups and downs, good and bad. Joys and trials. I can't really put into words all the thoughts in my head, the happiness and peace I feel bubbling over. Thank you dear family and friends for your constant love and support. I'm looking forward to my last week and giving this my all. 

I wish you all a happy and safe week. 
Love to you all!

Sister Allen 

February 17, 2016

A week without mascara and other happenings in Mountain House

Just as a side note, I haven't eaten anything this morning, so I'll try my best to sound as uplifting as possible and keep the exaggerations to a minimum. Anyway, this week! 

Monday morning, we were running a few minutes behind and our ride was at our apartment to take us to the church so I could use the computer to do my plan (do we remember what that is? Should I explain again?) and I didn't have a chance to put mascara on. I brought it with me but it just never happened...and then I didn't put it on for the rest of the week. I know it sounds weird, and probably stupid to admit but it was kind of thrilling to not put it on for a week. I'm telling myself my lashes are longer because I didn't wear anything on them for several days. HA, I doubt that. 

After emailing and running errands we went on a bike ride in our neighborhood. I love California in the "winter" it was in the 70s all week. I have a few pictures. We've also been encouraged to be wearing our helmets as a mission. The area is so small and there aren't any busy roads (we have 2 intersections that have stoplights) so helmets weren't really a priority until they reinforced that this week. So happy about that...just another reason to avoid those Mormon sister missionaries on their bikes with their skirts AND HELMETS. Losers. But we love Jesus, which is why we do it. 

Monday night we had another lesson with Anthony. That's the only night we can meet with him so it was great talking and discussing with him. He's been reading in the Book of Mormon so we're going back tonight to answer some of his questions about the chapters he's read. 

The youth put on a dance to fund raise so we got to help decorate for that this week. We talked with one of the miamaids, Savannah, who is friends with Cameron, that girl we talked about a few weeks ago. Again, she's only in mountain house a few days a week. She told Savannah that she wants to meet with us sometime soon. So we're keeping her in our prayers.

Sunday we had a regional stake conference which was great. Missed taking the sacrament, but we heard from 2 elders in the 70, Sister Oscarson, and Elder Renlund. Made me excited for general conference in a few months! They had some great messages. 

So, that's about it for this week. Sister Munns and I are happy and well, we love this work, we love the savior and representing him...even when people don't want to look at us...or breathe the same air as us. It's okay because we'll find the ones who do! And appreciate every opportunity we are given to serve, find, teach and share our testimonies! This gospel is too wonderful to keep to ourselves and we know everyone needs it in their lives. Hope everyone has a great week! And hopefully I get to eat a taco or something really, really soon. 

I love you all!

Sister Allen 

February 8, 2016

What's the Super Bowl?

I heard that the Broncos won and that Coldplay performed. Woo. Holidays and major sporting events don't really exist on the mission so way to go for them!

This week was pretty quiet, so not a whole lot to report on. I was sick last weekend and poor Sister Munns was sick both Tuesday and Wednesday. We got in touch with Cameron who is going to school in a different part of the stake but comes back to Mountain House couple days a week to be with her dad, so keep it in your prayers that we'll be able to set something up with her this week. On both Friday and Saturday we had some unexpected interviews with President we had to go down to the office for. Nothing to worry about, we're fine just a few kinks that needed to be worked out. I'm coming to realize as the days and weeks go, how this transfer is turning into my refiner's fire. Oh the refining. 

Last week I mentioned my plan, but didn't go into too much detail so I'll explain now. Over the past few months we've been told about a new program from the church for missionaries. There will be an activity for missionaries to do before they enter the field, an activity halfway, and then 6 activities missionaries are to complete during their last transfer (so an activity for each week). And when I first heard about these activities, I thought it would be a one or two question thing that you answer. Hoo boy, was I wrong. It's very detailed, very thought out and so inspired. The six activities include: Remember and become; my vision and goals; continuing discipleship; self-reliance; dating and temple marriage and my plan. It's more time consuming than I thought it would so I usually come to the family history center on Monday to work on this for studies and spend time on Thursdays when we're at the church for district meeting. I don't really tell people that I'm going home in the next month until they ask me how long I've been out. It's the same reaction every time. "So sisters, how long have you been out again?" Sister Munns will tell them almost 5 months. I will awkwardly pause, "um a little over 16 months" They look at me, remember that ours are only 18 months. Their eyes get big, "OH! So you're about to go home!" And from that point start grilling me with questions about my plans for after the mission, if I'm writing anyone etc. Then they continue to give you tons and tons of advice and counsel about what I need to do when I get home, mostly dealing with marriage.  Problem is that it's NEVER the same advice. Sometimes they tell you to jump right into dating, while others tell you to take your time and to go have adventures. When they find out I'm not writing anyone that start hinting at sons on missions or cousins or nephews. NO THANK YOU. Some couples tell me about how they got engaged after dating for 3 weeks and then others tell me about couples they know after 35 years of marriage the husband or wife joined a cult and they got divorced. WHY WOULD YOU TELL ME THAT. At this point I'm kind of hyperventilating because I just want to think and focus on being a full-time missionary while I still can. Please?! I appreciate the words of wisdom and I'll apply it or at least take it into consideration when I get home, but hearing all of this advice makes me realize how little I know about life and love and finance and ah. My brain can't handle it. So I'll just stay in my little missionary bubble, stay under this rock, continue to do my plan which is the counsel and advice from prophets, seers, and revelators that I really need to be focusing on right now and take this one day at a time. So yes, that is my plan. It's great. 

We had an interesting lesson with our investigator Anthony on Monday. We went to go over to read with his family that are active members in the ward, we didn't realize he was home so he came out from his bedroom as we're reading from the chapters they'd stopped at. 2nd Nephi during the Isaiah chapters...our worst nightmare. He sat down on the couch as we're reading from chapter 23 starting in verse 16, "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled and their wives do you even explain that?! Thankfully, we also read chapter 25 where Nephi breaks it down and simplifies things and reminds us that it all comes back to Christ and his atonement (see verse 26). We had a great discussion and answered some of his questions and set up a return appointment for tonight. So even though it started a little awkward, turned out to be okay. 

I wish there was more to report on but again, this week was slower so we're looking forward to the start of a new week. 

Hope that everyone has a great week!

Sister Allen

February 1, 2016

​Hello everyone! Happy February! Can't believe it was new years just a few weeks ago. This week it was warmer, like in the 60s then yesterday was so cold, rainy and windy. All of my 3 favorite things when biking full time...

Sister Munns and I had an interesting week...and I'm about to be really honest. Ready? 

I was pretty heart broken about staying in our area and to be released as a sister training leader. It's probably pitiful to admit that I cried and cried Sunday night. I know that it might seem selfish but I loved being a sister training leader. I loved working with these sisters the past 7-8 months. I loved seeing them grow and progress. I loved the opportunity to work so closely and be trusted by my mission president and his wife and to have such a good relationship with him. I loved getting to work with other leaders from around the mission, making some of the best friends I've had that I wouldn't have made otherwise. So to find out that for my last transfer, (when let's be real, staying focused can be pretty challenging especially with this new My Plan they have, I'll talk more about that later) I would be staying in our teeny tiny you could bike the whole thing at a leisurely pace in 20 minutes area was kind of a bummer. I felt ungrateful and so disappointed in myself all week that I couldn't just get over this. Just accept things they way they were and move on. I know plenty of missionaries, current leaders who would give ANYTHING to be released from their position so that they could work full time in their area during their last transfer and here I was crying about being released and not being grateful for the fact that I still had six weeks. I still had six weeks to serve as a representative of Christ. I couldn't just be grateful for the time I had left and enjoy it. Our sister training leaders (Sister Neeley who is my soul sister) and Sister Winn who I also love, gave us a ride home after dropping our car off at the mission office on Tuesday. I know it isn't true, but I felt like I was being punished. Last transfer was really hard for me in a lot of ways. I loved working with Sister Munns but I felt like there was so much more I should have done to help her and the few sisters I had stewardship over. I should have done more in our area, the list goes on. So when they dropped us off in our area that's as far away you can get and still be in the mission, it felt like they kind of abandoned us. Like, "Well good luck sisters! Fend for yourselves! Watch out for snakes and spiders, stay dry in all the rain we're getting. Bye!" And we all know I'm just exaggerating. But it was a long week. 

But you wanna know what I've learned? It's okay. I'm still a human being. I have feelings. I can be disappointed about change when it isn't something that you're expecting. And yes I want to be better at being more go with the flow and accepting of the Lord's plan for me, but it takes time. Yes it's important to be humble and submissive and patient. But we're not perfect. And isn't that the whole point of this earthly experience? To learn and grow? It takes time to gain these Christlike attributes. As much as I want to accept things like that, it takes time to adjust and wouldn't you know it that means I have to be patient with myself. Especially when I'm going back to proselyting full time-only to have to adjust to returned missionary life in just a few short weeks. Am I blowing this out of proportion and being slightly dramatic about this? Yeah, probably. But we all have our own challenges and this has just added to the list of challenges I'm facing as I prepare to go home. But I know that all things are for my good and the Lord doesn't waste any of these experiences. And this has been an incredible learning opportunity for me. I've become my own worst enemy throughout all of this but it's given me another experience that's strengthened my testimony of the atonement and taking the sacrament. It was such a relief almost to take the sacrament yesterday. Despite being kind of a brat and ungrateful to know how perfectly loving and forgiving the savior is. That I can take this last week and move forward. I'm thankful and humbled that the Lord allows us to have hard things happen in our lives so that in the end they will help us grow and become so much more. 
Thankfully I had some time to pray and reflect how I can make this a great transfer. I recognize and everyone tells you how fast this last transfer will go and I know that I need to make each day count. Work hard and enjoy it while I still can. And because of that, despite a nasty day in bed on Friday with the flu we've seen some incredible miracles this week. On Wednesday we decided to try one of the streets in our area that has several potential investigators. Our member that lives on the same street had given us a family's name as a referral on new years. We had tried several times but they never answered. The same member was outside while her boys were playing outside, we talked with her for a few minutes then went over to her neighbor's door to see if they were home. As we're walking over and knocking on the door, we hear behind us our neighbor talking to someone in a car that's driving by. We don't hear what they asked in the car but we hear our member say "Oh...that's just the missionaries from our house..." turns out it was this family driving home as we were standing at their door. I wanted to die I was so embarrassed. We weren't really sure what to do so we just awkwardly left because they were still talking. We were a few streets over, trying a different less active family when the same car drives by. I, myself didn't want to make eye contact so in that moment I was really fascinated by my shoelaces while Sister Munns was bold enough to turn and wave. The lady calls us from her car to come talk with her. Are you kidding? Turns out that she's in the process of a messy divorce, she would see us at the door but thought we were delivering her the divorce papers or something so she never answered. But when she was talking with our member a few minutes ago, her daughter in the car, named Cameron says that she wants to meet with us. I guess Cameron has several friends with the girls in our ward and has gone to a few activities. She has an 11 year old brother, Jacob that watched general conference and plays with several of the younger boys in our ward. We've told a few of the families and neighbors who are members and they're really excited for these two kids and are wanting to be involved in their lessons. We're going over on Wednesday, we haven't even met these kids but we both know they're ready to have the gospel in their lives and we're really excited. 

Over the last few months that I've served here, there's a family we've been trying to work with. Their last name is really long and to be respectful I'll just call them the K family. The mom and dad have been less active on and off throughout their lives. Their son and his wife who isn't a member live with them and they have 3 younger kids. We've had dinner there a few times and the kids love when we're there. 2 weeks ago, their "aunt" not sure if she's really the aunt but close family friend who is also a member but hasn't come to church for a long time, came by herself with one of the kids. Then the next week she brought all 3. They loved primary and she really enjoyed gospel doctrine. Saturday nightwe were planning when our relief society president randomly texted us about this family and that she's really good friends with these kids' mom and that she thinks she could be ready to start learning more about the church. Our relief society president brought the kids to church this Sunday, one of them is turning 8 this year and wants to get baptized. We haven't had the chance to go over and see the family and talk with his wife but we're keeping them in our prayers. Sister Munns and I are really hoping to find a family this transfer, so please keep both Cameron and Jacob and the "K" family in your prayers as well. 

 Each area has its own challenges and we've been really struggling to boost the member missionary work here. But we have been working with our ward missionaries to make short visits with members and going into homes during the later evenings of our night to pray and do family scripture study and it's been so great. Seriously. We read with a family last night in 2nd Nephi chapter 2 where Lehi is teaching about the plan of salvation. Their two youngest kids like to show off whenever we're around but as soon as we all started to read, the spirit was so strong. We're looking forward to continue to spend a few minutes each night with different families in the ward and are thankful for the support from our ward council. I'm so thankful for the bishop and ward mission leader we have here. 

I'm sure that there's more but I'm about out of time. So thanks for your patience everybody. Even when you're almost finished as a full-time missionary it's humbling to remember i still have a wayyyyys to go and a lot to learn. But it all works out, things keep going and there's always something to be thankful for. 

Hope everyone has a great week! 

Sister Allen 

This is how sister munns and I feel about biking in the cold. Just kidding, we love being missionaries. We happy.