N Hollywood 4to Week 5

Friends and Fam,

 

These weeks are just going by way too fast. Suddenly we’re already starting the last week of the transfer and I feel like I just got here yesterday. We had a solid week which ended with attending 2 baptismal services yesterday! Long story, but we’ll get there. This one might end up being a short one because we were robbed of some computer time due to a tow truck…another long story. But here goes.

 

Throughout the week it seemed that the main theme was this: if we had time to work, we worked. If we had time to find, we found. If we had time to serve, we served. But the problem was that there seemed to be a shortage of time this week… Consider the following. Tuesday after district meeting we were about to lock up the church when our Sister Training Leaders’ car stopped working. So we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out what to do with it and eventually pushing it down to our apartment complex’s parking lot down the street. (Today was the day the tow truck came by…while we were in the library emailing) Then suddenly we had to teach our English class (Have I mentioned that we do those? Maybe not. Para que sepan: we teach English classes), then cena, then boom the day was over. Then flash forward to Sunday. Church in the morning, almuerzo, head over to a different church to fill up the font for a baptism at 3, attend that baptism to do a musical number, then head straight to a baptism at 6 because I was assigned to give the opening prayer for some reason haha. Then suddenly cena, a little bit of study time and boom the day was over. Follow that pattern for a couple other days and you have our week. But we still took advantage of all the time we could. Biggest investigator news is that Alvin is still Luis 2.0 and he basically just needs to come to church in order to be baptized…working on that.

 

Breaking news… The 6:00 baptism was for the familia Errazo, the milagro familia I found with Elder Green in Van Nuys! The mom and her son were the ones who were baptized. It was some good times to see all my miembro amigos over there. I can’t seem to escape Van Nuys… And that’s a good thing. The Spirit was strong in that service. We did a musical program (Come Thou Font/La Oracion del Profeta) with the Van Nuys/North Hollywood district for the “minute misional” and man I wish I recorded it because there were tears flying everywhere. Ah. Bautismoooos. Love that family.

 

This week I’m suuuuuuper stoked for General Conference. Like you have no idea. You should be too. In what other church can we hear the words of modern-day prophets? Ninguna. It makes me think. All this craziness going on with el papa visiting America and stuff yet the men that receive revelation directly from God actually live here. Go figure. Anyways haha.

 

In case you didn’t know this, I love my mission and I love this gospel. At the end of the transfer starting next week I’ll hit my year mark. Crazy to think that I still have a whole year left! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Time flies on the mission. Lots of interesting changes coming soon. Sounds like the concept of a “Spanish zone” will be eliminated. In the words of President Henrie: “No more segregation!” Looking forward to see how this all works out.

 

Que Dios le bendiga,

 

Elder Allen

 

1. Elder Nielsen & Reis’ “I’m so done with weekly planning” face.

2. Bautismooooo. The mom and her older son in the middle were th

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N Hollywood 4to week 4

Friends and Fam,

 

This was definitely one of those up and down weeks. To be honest a little more down than up haha but asi es la mision. But big news of the week: we finally set out first baptismal date together! His name is Alvin, a 15 year old from Guatemala. I’m not even kidding when I say he’s literally Luis 2.0. Our lessons with him have followed the exact same sequence as what happened with Luis. It’s blowing my mind. So he’s looking to have some really good prospects. The 25th of October is his date!

 

Other than that one bright spot, we had a ton of citas fall through and we had to drop several of our investigators. It was tough. But one thing I’ve been doing lately to help with that is studying the Book of Mormon from cover to cover with the focus of understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace. The word “grace” itself isn’t found many times, but it’s been enlightening to me how the prophets used the phrase “by the power of God” or some other form of it. Those who truly recognize the reality of God understand that it is through His divine aid that all things are done. There are also several ways that aid is made manifest to us. One I’ve never before been able to wrap my mind around until now is through His Spirit. Take Jacob 7:8 for example.

“But behold, the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him [Sherem, an apostate Nephite] in all his words”

Earlier it talks about how Sherem was “perfect” in his knowledge of the language, aka he was one devilish trickster. But Jacob, who “could not be shaken” (one of my favorite Book of Mormon phrases btw), was still able to overcome him with God’s help. As missionaries, is it not the Spirit that allows us to say things (especially in a second language) we didn’t now we knew how to say? Do things that we can’t do on our own? That is God’s grace working through us at it’s finest. It’s cool to think about it that way. And there’s an innumerous amount of other examples of this throughout the Book of Mormon. Definite study topic suggestion for this week.

 

I’m now convinced that God has a sense of humor. Yesterday we were looking to finish the week strong knocking a ton of doors and finding some new investigators. Well it turns out He had other plans for us. We went by some citas we had previously set up, no one is home. So we start knocking, and the first guy that opens immediately jumps into a 20 minute rant: “apostoles son mayores de profetas!!” or something like that. After he repeated himself for the third time I stopped paying attention haha. You know when you hear the phrase “te vuelvo a repetir” it’s gonna be one of those conversations. We tried our best to testify but he just wasn’t having it. He even straight up told us: “Tu predicacion es equivocada. Como pueden ayudar a alguien con cancer si no son medicos?”. Ohhhhhh, ok bro. Bye. We walked away obviously frustrated inside. After a long day of knocking and rejection, we had a nice lil cena with a member family and started to head home. That is until a guy shouted for us:

“Ustedes son misioneros? Yo tengo una pregunta!” (Are you missionaries? I have a question!)

“Si, como le podemos ayudar?” (Yes, how can we help you?)

“Que es mas mayor: un apostol o un profeta?” (What is greater: an apostle or prophet?)

………………You’ve gotta be kidding me. 20 more minutes later filled with vague explanations of the same Bible verses as before and “stiffneckedness” we wanted to bang out heads against the wall. Ah. I love the mission.

 

I think I mentioned this last week, but this transfer has been flying by. We only have 2 more weeks left before changes! And I just realized the other day that General Conference is in 2 weeks too. Woah. Mission life at its finest, with a complete lack of sense of time. And that’s a good thing. I’m learning more and more every day and enjoying this one step at a time. Elder Nielsen and I are looking to finish strong. That’s all I’ve got this week. Until next time. Have a great week!

 

Ciao,

 

Elder Allen

 

1. Discovery of the week: SODA SHAQ. It’s pretty dang good too.

N Hollywood 4to Week 3

riends and Fam,

Sorry another short one this week… The kids around here got school off today again so somehow that translated in all the missionaries coming to the estaca to email. Some choice events of the week:

On Saturday there was a huge stake activity called “Dia de Hispanidad”. Like think of the biggest stake activity you’ve ever been to, then double the size and you’ve got Dia de Hispanidad. All of the wards are assigned Latino countries and then they make a “estand” with traditional food, ropa, etc. The cultural hall was loaded with people that came. Then there were some presentations of traditional dances from each pais. Some of them were borderline inappropriate for missionaries haha but asi es. Pics below.

We had a super buena week of finding. We found this one kid that reminds me of when we found Luis… Stay tuned. #2.0 Despite a slow start at the beginning due to a ton of bike probs it really picked up during the weekend. It taught me the importance of patience. Around Wednesday time I wasn’t feeling the whole working thing but we put our heads down and plowed through it. I’ve found that the best way to desire to work is to work haha. Interesting how it works out that way. Finding has been so successful lately it’s nearly impossible to schedule citas with our running investigators. Then the hard part is teaching them the second time haha…not sure we’ve had a return cita with anyone we’ve found yet…asi es.

Kodak moment of the week: Elder Nielsen ate his first chile piquin. Remember the one I ate with Elder Green? Yeah that one. He basically died haha. Me being the best trainer ever, I plucked one and handed it to him, told him to eat it, he died, realized what it was and started freaking out, then swallowed it and immediately started to choke a little. Good times. He survived, no worries. Wish I took pics…

Sorry that’s all I got this week. All of the investigators we have aren’t progressing…yet. Church is  the main problem as always. And it turns out the member that we though wasn’t actually a member is actually a member. But his name is different that what we originally thought haha. Milagritos.

Update on the cucarachas: we should be getting fumigated in a week! Thank you for the prayers.

Love you all!

Elder Allen

1. Dia de Hispanidad

2. Elder Nielsen and I’s differences in eating habits. Haha.

N Hollywood 4to Week 2

Friends and Fam,

Surprise…again. Turns out I can email today haha. One of these days I’ll get it right. We just decided to come to the estaca and wait in a huge line of like 10 missionaries since all the libraries are closed. But I’m here! Kind of short this week since it was a short week mostly full of meetings.

I’ll start with the coolest miracle of the week. We’ve been teaching this lady named Isabel, she’s been taught by missionaries for almost 6 months and despite the fact that almost everyone in her family are members (she even has a son on a mission) she doesn’t want to be baptized. But that’s besides the point. The milagro was actually her husband. In the past he had told the Elders that he was baptized ~30 years ago, but as we talked with him about the Holy Ghost he revealed he was never confirmed! Plus we’re pretty sure the Church doesn’t have his records so he might have to get baptized again. The story is that when he was 8 he saw a long line of chicos walking towards the church so he decided to follow them. Turns out they were going to a baptismal service and he decided to do it also just because “everyone else was” (don’t give in to peer pressure kids). Well after he never went back to church aka he’s basically a non-member haha. But finding this out blew our minds. All the Elders in the past had counted the lessons with them as lessons with a member present so…there go all the key indicators the past 6 months. Oh well. We’ll be seeing them tonight and hopefully be setting a baptismal fecha with them!

Other than that nothing much to report haha. Just a bunch of planning and meetings honestly haha. But other big news was that Luis got baptized!! Remember, my investigator in Van Nuys? We got to attend his baptismal service because he asked me to do the talk haha. And it was the funniest thing ever because he wears a cast now after breaking his foot, so we had to bag it up and duct tape it so it wouldn’t get wet. The service was short and simple, but the Spirit was still super strong. I love that kid. He’s going to be an excellent missionary soon.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Cuidaos,

Elder Allen

1. Wrapping up Luis’ leg

2. Bautismoooooo

North Hollywood #1+

Friends and Fam,

 

Whoops, my bad. I tooootally spaced to tell you all last week that I would be writing on a Wednesday this week…my b. But we had a General Authority come to the mission on Monday so I’m excused…sort of. So in case you’re wondering I’m still here in the San Fernando valley alive and well! It’s been a very interesting past week and a half.

 

My new companion’s name is Elder Nielsen from Sandy, Utah. Craziest fact of the week: he went to the same school as Elder/Hermano Kimball! I just can’t escape these #BeetDiggers. He’s already gained the reputation as the cutest Eldercito in the mission, so that’s a plus. It’s been quite the experience training a new missionary. It reminds me when I first got here fresh off the plane and literally had no idea what to do once I hit the pavement. But luckily the MTC must be putting some secret sauce in the food or something because all these youngin’s are coming out pre-trained! Elder Niesen is such a beast. When we found our 5th new investigator together he straight up invited him to be baptized with no fear, and the guy said yes! I honestly feel like I’ve learned more from him than he’s learned from me. The cool thing about training is that you get to review all the basics of missionary work and it really helps me identify ways in which I can improve. Sometimes I forget that I’m not the missionary being trained?

 

This new area is a minefield of baptisms waiting to blow. We have several investigators that have been taught by several different missionary companionships in the past that basically already know everything/come to church every week/know the Book of Mormon is true/etc but just haven’t decided to take that step of faith which is baptism. Most of them have the concern: “I’m just not ready yet! I don’t know enough! The situation has to be perfect or else I won’t do it!” Okay maybe I exaggerated a little on the last one but that’s how I feel sometimes. It reminds me of a scripture in Mosiah 18:10

“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized‍ in the name‍ of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant‍ with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”.

I like it more in Espanol because it sounds a little more fuerte:

“¿qué os impide ser bautizados?” (What is keeping you from being baptized?)

Honestly I have no idea what reasons they have for not being baptized! Safe to say we will likely be sharing that in a few lessons this week.

 

The best thing about the new area is the new apartment. And by that I mean our apartment is nasty. I think we’re the first ones to deep-clean it in years. The most pleasant aspect about it is that we have a major cucaracha problem. We kill at least 15-20 every day. As part of this deep-cleaning process we swept behind the fridge…and we basically found the cucaracha mother lair. After emptying out half our can of Raid spray the carnage resulted in a fist-size heap of animalitos. So of course, pics below (viewer discretion advised). And it seems like past missionaries tried exterminating the apartment but to no avail. Pray for me please haha. 

 

Returning to the #BikeLife has been soooo great by the way. Sometimes I have so much fun hitting curb jumps  and speeding down California hills that I forget about Elder Nielsen and leave him pedaling as fast as his little legs can go a half-mile behind. Ah. So good. Good ole’ Rojita has been treating me well.

 

Like I mentioned earlier, on Monday we had a General Authority visit us: Elder Hamula, member of the first quorum of the 70. It was way legit. Basically an 8 hour devotional on missionary work. He talked to us about the importance of developing a Christlike attribute not found in chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel: sobriety. Other than being not borracho, don’t ask me what that means yet because I’m still working on it. Something about being light-hearted, but not light-minded (don’t ask me about that either). Cool study topic I would recommend to any missionary (aka everyone).

 

 Before I forget, I’ll probably be emailing next Tuesday since the library will be closed for Labor Day. Haha. Sorry again. I took a ton of pics these past 2 weeks so enjoy. Que pasen buena semana!

 

Con amor,

 

Elder Allen

Van Nuys Week 17

Friends and Fam,

Sorry short one this week because it’s transfers. And it’s going to be a loquisimo one. Pretty much everything that I used to know about this mission is going up in flames but not really but it kind of feels like it haha. I’m leaving the area! Kind of sad to leave the area but Elder Green will hold it down here for sure. Big news of the week: I’ll be training!! So stoked. I was released as a zone leader and will be moving to North Hollywood, which means that me and my trainee will be new Elders in the area. Looking forward to the opportunity!

Other changes around here… There will now be such a thing as “solo zone leaders” and “double district leaders”. Don’t ask me what that means because honestly I still have no idea and can’t put it together in my head. But one example: Elder Green actually hah. He will be the only zone leader in burbank zone and his companion will just be a “junior companion”. Weird, I know. But I know that President Henrie aka the la portavoz del Senor knows what he’s doing. I like to think of it just as a new, “innovative twist” on missionary work. We’ll see how it goes!

It was a reaaaally good last week here. We continued to find, and Luis and the familia Errazo are progressing suuuuuper well. They both came to church again! On Saturday we had the annual “San Fernando Stake Mini-Mission” in which all the YSA members go out with the missionaries for the day to take part of the “experience”. We had a sweet day: had a nice lil’ knockout sesh, taught the fam Errazo, and found a new investigator! I forgot my camera today so pics next week. Elder Green and I’s companion’s name was Hyrum, and he’s a beast. He gave the testimony we needed in some tough spots.

Chistoso moment of the week: We were teaching Luis while his dad was sleeping on the couch. We were talking about the importance of temples when out of nowhere the dad wakes up, interrupts the lesson and asks “creen ustedes en la reincarnacion?” (do you believe in reincarnation?). So we taught some doctrice about resurrection, etc etc. After we finished he asked…

“But have you heard about Abraham Lincoln?”.

Yes?

“Do you know the name of the man that killed him?” 

Yes, John Wilkes Booth.

“No no, that’s not it… It was John Kennedy right?” (This is where things got nuts.)

At this point we gave up: “Sure…”

“Well 100 years later you know that John Kennedy was killed right? Do you know the name of the man that killed him?”

Uh oh, I think I know where this is going…

“ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”

#ConspiracyAlert #ConspiracyAlert #ConspiracyAlert #ConspiracyAlert #ConspiracyAlert 

So yeah. Don’t trust everything you read on the Internet.

That’s just about all the time I have this week… Les quiero! 

Sigan echandole ganas en la lucha,

Elder Allen

Van Nuys Week 16

Friends and Fam,

This week was busy. Well, busier than usual. Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday, planning on Thursday, then Zone Training Meeting on Friday pretty much killed a lot of our work time. But it was still a really good week! In the time we had to work we saw tons of miracles, as always.

We found the coolest family this week! And it’s the most intense story ever of how we found them. It went something like this. So we had this referral right. For the most part, Spanish referrals in this mission have had a long history of not exactly being the most accurate because of English-speaking missionaries not being able to communicate very well with “interested” Latinos and therefore writing down wrong information and sending it through the system. This one particular referral lived in Sherman Oaks aka rich-people central aka definitely not a Spanish hotspot. But we went by anyway, not really expecting much. Well those expectations went down even more after finding that the address we had was actually a huge apartment complex, and we didn’t have an apartment number. Bueno. I wasn’t about to just go knocking a whole complex of rude Americans, so we put to use our Eagle Scout skills/ancient Guatemalan tracking techniques. As we walked around the first thing we notieced were a pair of working boots sitting outside a door. Totally paisa. So we knocked it and found the referral first door haha. And it turned out to be a whole family! And they’re all super sick! They have a bunch of relatives in Salvador converting to the Church and they want to find out why. #wecandothat The mom and her two sons came to church and a baptism in the ward yesterday! We’re so stoked to work with them. I’d give it a month tops before they’re baptized.

Recently, President Henrie has been pushing really hard the importance of the Spirit in all aspects of missionary work. There’s a scripture that I feel covers this topic perfectly. D&C 84:85 “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say;but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.” Essentially the message is this: treasure up the doctrine of Christ, and in the moment where you need it the Spirit will work through you to give that specific person the part they need to accept the restored gospel. I’ve been trying more than ever to put that into practice, especially since I’m mostly speaking a foreign language. And it’s cool how it works out! I find myself not being so worried about saying the wrong thing and just kind of “going with the flow” haha. A “flow” that comes straight from heaven.

To be honest, other than that one miracle there wasn’t much else exciting about the week. Just a bunch of meetings… But there was a baptism on Sunday! An 8 year old son of a recent convert and a formerly less active. Baptisms are always so refreshing. It always helps me remember: “oh yeah, this is why I’m doing all this work”. Plus President Henrie and his wife showed up, and Elder Green and I totally nailed our “missionary minute” of teaching the Restoration while we waited for the people to change. Easy brownie points.

Shout out to mom for the new shoes…I really needed them haha. #ecco #Seattle

El ser misionero es lo mejor en todo el mundo. Que tengan una semana feliz.

Con amor,

Elder Allen