Van Nuys Week 15

Friends and Fam,

Bueno bueno bueno. Things are still going good here in the valley! Still enjoying every moment. For whatever reason I feel like there was a lot of accidentally finding pockets of gringos in the middle of Latino-central, but asi es. They still need the gospel too! The more time I spend talking to people in Spanish the more I realize how bad my English conversation skills are getting…like I have no idea how to talk to English people anymore.  But I suppose that’s a good thing? Anyways, here’s the good stuff of our week.

No, Roberto didn’t get baptized. He still wants to! But he needs more time. 2 more weeks and he’ll be good to go. He’s just adjusting to moving places again, but once he gets settled he should be good. He came to church yesterday, so that’s a good sign. Slowly getting there! But the biggest news comes out of another investigator. Couple weeks ago we found this 15 year old boy named Luis. He’s sweet! He already had a Book of Mormon the first time we talked with him. We taught him twice before we came in on Tuesday ready to set a baptismal fecha with him. He’d already expressed his desired to be baptized but we felt the time wasn’t right for a fecha. Well we found out why! We met his family for the first time, and they love us! The mom always offers us food every time we go over. And surprise surprise: Luis’ two older brothers are already members! They live in Utah with their grandma, another member. So cool. So Luis is basically good to go already. Prepared people…so incredible. We’re shooting for the 23rd! Everyone else is pretty much the same as always.

The zone had interviews with President Henrie on Wednesday. We’ve been able to be around him quite a bit recently, and something that amazes me about him and his wife is how…classy they are haha. Not sure how else to describe it. They took us out to dinner that day and after I told him I liked his tie he showed me the brand…imported straight from Scotland of something like that. So cool. Anyways, they’re new and all still but I love them a ton. We got a sweet selfie too with Presidente so I’ll attach that below.

Only bummer of the week is that yesterday, within 5 minutes of each other, 2 baptisms that were to be held in la estaca were cancelled. Such a bummer… The Adversary was working hard yesterday. But at least one is already rescheduled for next week so we’ll be praying! Cool side note: we officially have so many investigators with baptismal fechas we don’t have any room on the whiteboard we keep track of them on. The work is exploding! Thank you so much for your prayers for us.

Love you all, keep the faith! Kids: stay in school, eat your veggies, and listen to you parents.

Agradesco a mi Padre Celestial por darme esta oportunidad de compartir el Evangelio de Jesucristo, las buenas noticas, con todas las personas. Se que esta iglesia es la verdadera de Cristo!

Hasta luego,

Elder Allen

Picture Eating lunch with the New Mission President Henrie!!

Van Nuys Week 13

Friends and Fam,

This week was crazy good!! To spoil the surprise already my new companion’s name is Elder Green. He’s directly from Guatemala (La Capital) and came into the field the same day as me. If I remember right I think I actually sat next to him in the van ride up to transfers after I flew here from the MTC? Anyways, back then me being super naive young Spanish missionary I thought it was super hilarious that his last name was “Green” even though he spoke primarily Spanish there (“Shouldn’t it be Verde??”) haha. But he’s a sweet missionary. He was actually the District Leader over in El Camino after I was transferred out, so I got the inside scoop on what was going on over there. Apparently Angel, one of my nino converts, received the Aaronic Priesthood and passed the sacrament a couple times! That made me so happy. I’ve been hitting the jackpot lately with these companions lately. Especially the paisa ones. He’s been teaching me some Guatemala slang…I’m determined to become chapin. I guess there’s also a ton of native dialects (ex: Quiche) that are spoken over there that he knows some phrases of, so I’ve been learning those just for fun haha. But it’s been a blast working with him.

So after the chaos that is transfer meeting we finally got some decent time to get out and just work. Something new that our new mission president, President Henrie, has implemented here is that every day, from 4-6pm, we knock doors! We talk with people! We find! From this there has been rampant success throughout the mission. The coolest part is that beforehand, at 3:55 we all get on our knees and pray to God that He guides us toward those He has prepared to receive this message. Imagine that, ~150 missionaries all praying at the same exact time for the same exact purpose. It blows my mind to think about the power that holds. We’ve also been trying to involve our stake and ward leaders to encourage participation in this as well. Can you imagine what could happen in every single member in this valley prayed for that same purpose: praying for the missionaries, the investigators, and everyone else? Wow. Those of you at home, feel free to participate as well!

I feel like a lot of our success this week derived from this new implementation. This past week Elder Green and I talked with more people in one week that I ever have in my entire mission. And several of those became new investigators! We found at least one new person every day this week with exception to Sunday. Phew. After just roughly 2 weeks of this “experiment” we’re already having this much success? It amazes me. President Henrie is an inspired man.

As far as investigator updates, here’s the basic message: most of the investigators we’re teaching are down to get baptized, but they literally all have just one small doubt which prevents them from doing so. For example, divorces from previous spouses, working on Sundays, belief that Catholic baptism is good enough, etc. And that’s just to name a few. But we’re so stinking close with several of these people. We set a new baptismal date with someone this week! First new one in forever. His name is Alfredo, from Guatemala. We found him after a random guy in the street gave him as a referral to us, so we went right there, taught him, set return cita, came back, and set a fecha. Boom, just like that. He’s sweet. He’s was taught by the missionaries before in Guatemala and loves our message. Literally every time we go over there he’ll let us in. We’re looking forward to working with him more this week.

We did go on one exchange this week: with the Ayudantes on Friday-Saturday. It was good, we saw some miracles, talked with a ton of people, etc. The recent focus of President Henrie has been trying to establish a new mission culture: a culture of baptizing. We’ll be taking the training we received from them to our district leaders this week on our exchanges with them. Speaking of district leaders, literally all of them in our zone are first timers! Lots of training opportunities ahead. Elder Green is also a first time zone leader so there’s kind of a lot of pressure on me to get these Elders on the right path haha. But it’s been great. Should be an excellent transfer.

Was that better this week? Let me know if I’m forgetting anything… I think I mentioned this last week but half of our missionaries are new to the zone. Side note, basically half of the mission is pretty new as well, most with about 6 months or less. Talk about “baby boom”. 28 missionaries (included ex-Elder Kimball [that kills me to write]) went home last Wednesday… Time for us young guys to step up. But good times ahead for sure.

It’s looking to be, once again, another busy week. Exchanges. Exchanges. Exchanges. 3 to be exact (see what I did there). But have a great week everyone!

Con carino,

Elder Allen

Van Nuys week 11

Friends and Fam,

I never how to start these emails other than: “this week was sweet” because it always is. Seriously though. It was another week full of exchanges and oh yeah a new mission president. We’ll get to that in a bit. But honestly, no complaints from me about this week! The work is great, and the field is definitely white and ready for the harvest. Oh yeah another thing…it was my birthday.

We’ll get right to the good stuff then. New mission president. President Henrie. We still don’t really know much, but we did have the “meet the mission president” zone conference on Friday. They introduced themselves and their families a little then got right down to the nitty gritty. Like I expected, they focused right away on the importance of obedience, new mission president or not. If it says not to do it in the missionary handbook, don’t do it! Duh. But you’d be surprised how many missionaries can’t quite grasp that haha. Asi es. Elder Kimball and I have missionary leadership council this week so it’ll be exciting to see what kinds of changes are in the works. Apparently there’s a lot haha. So it’s a little more of a waiting game from now on! But we’re still super stoked about it all. It’s honestly just kind of cool haha. We all get a front row seat to witness how the Lord handles transition in the church.

In all of the 3 exchanges we did this week I was outside of the area, so it was nice to come back after a hard day’s work somewhere else to find out that Elder Kimball and his companion-for-the-day tore it up every time. I spent like 10 hours tops actually in my area this week haha. All of our investigators are pretty much the same: those we usually taught, we taught. Those that usually come to church, came to church. Honestly nothing new. But we did find some cool people (apparently, I wasn’t there haha) so that’ll be refreshing to work with some new people.

In case anyone forgot, it was my birthday on Friday (there’s still time for birthday packages in case you were wondering). It was suuuuuuch a good day. Birthday miracle alert! We spent pretty much the whole day talking with people on the sidewalk and knocking doors, trying to find people to teach. Basically everyone was NOT having it. They were all either:

a. not home

b. “too busy” with 4th of July stuff

So it was kind of a long day. It reached a point where we were about to head home but we decided to talk with these 2 young jovenes. They were so rude haha. As we tried talking with them they started laughing in our faces and walked away. Well, me being the competitive person I am did NOT want to end off on that note, so we walked around with the few minutes we had left to try to find one more person. We walk past a driveway, stop on a dime at the same time, and decide to walk up it. We find this older gentleman sitting outside. After a nice little greeting, he suddenly completely opens up about his rough life filled with deaths in the family and personal health struggles. And he said that his faith in God was what helped him through it! We set up a return appointment and will be teaching him soon. Attention all missionaries out there: talk to one more person! Knock one more door! Our Heavenly Father notices and blesses us according to our actions.

There were also a ton of borrachos outside messing with definitely illegal fireworks in the middle of the street. It was kind of a funny sight: they were all sprawled across the ground mesmerized by the all the colors. Good times.

Last Monday we had the coolest lesson ever with a handicapped member of the ward, Perfecto. He’s confined to a wheelchair and can’t communicate verbally: he can only kick his feet out an “x” amount of times for specific responses (yes, no, etc). He’s seriously such an inspiration. He’s the only member in his whole family and he literally can’t take care of himself without the help of his caretaker. We didn’t exactly know what to expect when we entered his care center room, but by the end we were soooo edified. We only shared the story of the Brother of Jared and the stones touched by the finger of the Lord to focus on prayer and faith, but our minds were blown by the end of it. We shared the story and asked at the end: “have you ever received an answer to a prayer from God?” One emphatic “yes” kick later he told us a short story with the help of his caretaker and a special “word card” (not sure what else to call it) he has. Basically he prayed when he was in a group care center that he could get his own place. And he eventually did. He was all smiles the whole time. Love that guy.

That’s just about my week! More exciting times ahead. Don’t tell Elder Kimball this, but this will be his last week in the mission… What the. He’s been a great leader and example to me. Our week is already pretty much shot with a bunch of meetings haha but we’re looking to work super hard this week. Hope everyone has a bomb (BoM) week!

Buen dia,

Elder Allen

Van Nuys week 10

Friends and Fam,

 We officially have a new mission president! Weird to think about. President Henrie got here this morning, had about 2 hours to be with President Hall, and boom he became the California San Fernando Mission President. Just like that! We haven’t met him yet or anything haha, but he seems like a great man. He wrote us all a short letter to introduce himself, then on this Friday we’ll have a “Meet the Mission President” Zone Conference. Exciting times. Seriously though, it’s weird sitting here following our normal preparation day schedule when in the back of my mind I realize I have a new mission president haha.

Good week though! No annoying meetings to get in the week, just puro trabajo. No annoying meetings also means exchanges, and exchanges also means miracles! Seriously. I stayed in our Van Nuys area for all three we did this week. Elder Kennard, one of our district leaders, came here on Tuesday. Let me tell you what, we worked. Cool lil’ miracle: so recently in the stake we’ve been praying to find prepared/worthy men to receive the priesthood in the future and become leaders of the church. That’s something this stake has always struggled with, mostly because when most of the youth grow up they move to English wards. Well Elder Kennard and I were walking down the sidewalk, talking with everyone (like good missionaries do), when we met a guy named Baltimore. He immediately seems to like us more than most, and after talking with him for a bit we realized he was already a member! Super less active. He was baptized in El Salvador but when he moved here stopped going to church. The biggest surprise was that he straight up told us: “Oh si, tengo el sacerdocio de…Melchizedek, verdad?” (Oh yeah, I’ve got the…’Melchizedek’ Priesthood, right?”. What the??? Some of the active members don’t even know what that is! He was totally down to be visited by us and come back asap. I’m tellin you, the Lord answers prayers in the most unexpected ways.

The other two exchanges were awesome too. Talking with everyone, teaching some progressing investigators, having good times. At Coordination Meeting on Thursday my companion for the day, Elder Blakeley was joking around with our ward mission leader as he talked about his “rancho” in Mexico. This conversation killed me.

“Si, pues yo naci en un rancho!” -WML

“No en un hospital?” -Elder Blakeley

“Noooo, en un rancho…con caballos y vacas y todo” -WML

“Entonces, como Jesucristo?” -Elder Blakeley

(Face lights up) “Pues si, de veras! Miralo! De veras, si!” -WML

Jajajajajaja. So good. Use a translator if you don’t understand that…I love Latinos haha.

One more miracle share before my time runs out here. During last weeks weekly planning session Elder Kimball just decided: “You know what, I want to help someone move this week!” So we were looking for opportunities since then. The first one came up on Saturday. And it was a good one. This young couple was moving out and we offered to help. They were hesitant at first, but they accepted! We got talking, and it turned out the friends they asked to help earlier bailed that morning but out of nowhere we showed up “for a reason” (in the words of the lady). We got talking about religion a bit and it turned out they were super down to listen to the missionaries. Angie and Angel. Best referral ever…we just made a companionship in downtown LA’s day.

Have a great week everyone! Looking forward to telling you all about President and Sister Henrie next week.

Les quiero,

Elder Allen

Van Nuys week 9

Friends and Fam,

Yep, it definitely turned out to be the stacked week I thought it would be last week. Like holy cow. Wish I had more time to give some deep analysis, but basically all of our exchanges were sooooo good. Miracles on miracles. Went on three of em this week, And man, they was all so good. I stayed in the area for all three so no new sweet pics of things I’ve never seen before. Well, I take that back. An Audi R8 was parked on the street nearby our apartment for a couple days this week. that was pretty aight.

We had Zone Conference on Thursday. En serio, it was the strongest Spirit I’ve felt in forever. It was President and Sister Hall’s second-to-last week in the mission, so they basically went hard with testimony the entire time. The Spirit was so thick you could’ve cut it with a butter knife. President Hall gave us his “Top 10 Things I Want You to Remember” from our missions. Sadly I don’t have my notes with me, but you can take my word for it, they were pretty good haha. The “most emotional moment award” goes to the first musical number in the meeting were a district sang a song derived from “How Firm a Foundation,” then for the last verse all the Spanish missionaries stood up and joined in to sing to President and Sister Hall. Holy moly. It’s one of President’s favorite hymns so they both just started bawling haha. Good times. Love them.

But yeah, so this is President Hall’s last week in the mission! Crazy to think about. Next Monday, President and Sister Henrie will arrive in the same airport that I did, and immediately all the priesthood keys to receive revelation and inspiration for the mission will flow to him. He’s the boss as soon as he gets here! Part of Zone Conference was focused on getting ready for change, because as soon as President Henrie gets here there will almost definitely be some. Everyone’s a little nervous or uncomfortable, but I’m convinced that the Lord is on our side so we’ll be alright. It’s crazy to think about, but I’m excited for the opportunity!

Quick investigator update. We found some crazy sick people this week that are pretty much already down to get baptized. Also, we have an investigator named Roberto who’s doing super good! He has lots of ganas to get baptized, but still struggles to learn and understand the lessons. But it’s kind of a random thing. He’ll understand the doctrine of repentance amazingly well, then forget that Joseph Smith saw God. So it’s a little up and down with him. But we’re shooting for a early to mid July baptism date! He’s so close to being ready. The work is progressing like crazy over here! There’s definitely been some let downs, but there’s always something great that overrides it.I love the mission!

That’s just about all I got this week! I heard the Warriors won the Finals, so that’s pretty cool. Go Cali (But #Kobe4Life). This is going to be a nice and open week, so we’re finally going to get some real work in! So stoked. Love you all. Make it a great week yourselves.

Hasta luego,

Elder Allen

Van Nuys week 8

Friends and Fam,

 

Oh man. Such a good week. Honestly it was pretty normal and all, but another week in the mission is another good week. As a mission we were able to attend the temple this week! All of the Spanish missionaries had a session with President and Sister Hall on Tuesday. I seriously love the temple. There’s always such a strong Spirit you can feel there, especially in the Celestial Room. The LA temple is pretty sweet, that’s all I have to say about that haha. Supposedly there’s a tale passed around that back in the old days President Kimball (not my companion, but someone did accidentally call him that this week haha) saw a painting of Christ being baptized in the baptismal room and declared that it was “the most accurate depiction of Christ he’s ever seen,” or something like that. Think about that for a sec…pretty cool huh. But I didn’t even see I so I couldn’t tell you haha. But it truly is the House of the Lord.

 

Sick investigator alert: we’re teaching someone that has some serious ganas to be baptized! He was living in a different ward’s boundary but he got kicked out of his apartment and is now living with a member in our ward. Roberto is his name. From the beginning he expressed his sincere desire to be baptized, and he comes to church every week! At this point his only obstacle is that he struggles to remember the lessons after we leave, but we’re looking to set a fecha with him soon.

 

Investigator scare alert: Monica (aka our golden investigator right now) almost dropped us… Gave us a heart attack it did. We calmed her down and got her to at least commit to reading in the Book of Mormon every day to start that conversion process. She’s afraid to commit to anything even though she already knows the Book of Mormon and the Church is true. She also works a lot so it’s a constant struggle to get her to church. But we’re confident she’ll be baptized eventually, it might just take a little longer than we thought.

 

We also had a sick exchange the other day. I went over to the North Hollywood 4th area and tore it up with Elder Santana. All of our citas until the end fell through, so we talked with everyone! Conversations are turning into my favorite part of missionary work. It’s surprising how willing people are to open up to you if you just ask! We talked to a homeless guy yesterday that was about to give some food to another homeless guy about how his faith in Christ is what helped him “quit whiskey” after his wife passed away in a car accident. He’s starting to get his life back on track, and we invited him to the English ward next Sunday, of which he gladfully accepted. Turns out a lot of his family is Mormon! It’s amazing the stories some people have. But back to the exchange…basically Elder Santana is a beast. Case closed.

 

We also visited a woman in the ward who had a son recently pass away. Her only remaining son is a less active who’s struggling with his testimony that God actually exists. But in the lesson we had with her, her son, and some other family members was so uplifting! The Spirit was strong as we testified of the Plan of Salvation and the power of the Atonement to help us overcome our personal trials and tribulations. It was a privilege to lift them all up in their time of difficulty. I love the gospel!

 

As always, it’s looking to be a great week. A busy one, at that. Every day we have planned either an exchange, zone conference (Thursdee), and Church on Sundee. Yes! That’s a good looking stacked week right there. Hope everyone has been enjoying their summer. Until next time.

 

Andele pues,

 

Elder Allen

Van Nuys week 7

Friends and Fam,

This was easily the craziest week of my mission, yet I find myself sitting here without a clue of what to say haha. Lots of just…stuff happened! We had a crazy Monday with welcoming the new arrivals then catching up with the rest of our preparation day. We had a crazy Tuesday with transfer meeting and a little day-split with some Elders in the district (I’ll get to the changes here in a bit). We had a crazy Wednesday with Mission Leadership Council then helping out some Elders with another day-split over in North Hollywood. We had a crazy Thrusday with weekly planning and planning for Zone Training Meeting the next day. We had a crazy Friday with Zone Training Meeting. We actually had a pretty normal Saturday. But then we had a crazy Sunday with church and a meeting with Obispo with all the new missionaries. Good times right??

Here’s one quick thing I’ll share before getting to the other stuff. During our Mission Leadership Council President Hall gave us a training on the importance of sharing miracles. Interesting topic right? Wish I had my notes, but here was the main message. Sharing miracles builds faith, which leads to more miracles! Even though we’ll never be in control of when the miracles come, we can be in charge of the possibility of them happening. It starts with obedience. Just like the President Uchtdorf quote, God is constantly raining upon us blessings, but sometimes we put up an “umbrella” of disobedience. But then we have to get out and work! Go through the trial of our faith! Talk with everyone! Etc! We’re not likely to find the one golden investigator prepared for baptism if we sit in the apartment all day. We have to put in our effort and then God blesses us with those miracles according to his will. So I thought that was sweet.Then he turned it into the importance of sharing our mission miracles by reading in 1 Nephi 17. At this point Nephi is commanded to build a ship, but his brothers are a little less than willing. But then, starting in verse 23 until basically the end, he softens their hearts by sharing miracles (and shocking them at the end, but that’s another story)! He reminds his brothers of the manifestations of God in the times of Moses, Abraham, etc. Reminding them of those miracles (and shocking them) led to the softening of their hearts again until they were willing to help build the ship. So….let’s share miracles with eachother everyone. It’s important.

Well here are the changes in the Zone: basically everyone stayed! We’re super stoked about that. We only had a total of 4 new missionaries out of 24…now 25 missionaries. We got a new Hermana in Van Nuys to make a trio, and basically a new Elder in each of the Districts. Plus every Elder companionship with exception to ours and one other in Van Nuys is in the process of training! We’re excited to work with all these young missionaries. Plus the surprise of transfer meeting made it all worth it: Elder Otto is back in my zone, and I finally have someone from my MTC district in my same zone (Hermana Berger)!! Essentially all of our missionaries are powerhouses though. We had a excellent first week and we’re pumped for the new transfer.

Basically we were serving the other missionaries with rides and such the whole week so not much time for work sadly. But we finally had some investigators at church! 3 in fact! That was a plus. But other than that no updates…sorry everyone. But it looks like a pretty open week! Other than a mission-wide temple trip tomorrow, we’ll be straight up working! Looking forward to this one for sure. Looking forward to actually having stuff to talk about next week too haha. Have a great week everyone.

Love,