Monday, November 13, 2017

"Hard is Good"

Hello,

This was an interesting week. I am taking lead in a new area for me and also training a new missionary. My companions name is Elder Peters. He is from Layton, Utah and is waiting for his visa to India. We are both in a weird situation at the moment, but we are just trying to do our best and build a good program for the area we are in.

Last Sunday, was a little crazy because we both gave a talk in first hour, then taught the Gospel Principles class in second hour, and then I was asked to sub for the lesson in Elders Quorum. We had to do something for each hour at church. It all went well though. My talk was about how my mission has strengthened my faith. At the end of it, I bore my testimony in Malagasy.  It almost felt like I was giving my homecoming talk. I hope my Malagasy does not get worse before I have the chance to bare my testimony in Malagasy for the real last time.

My mission feels a little hard at the moment. Whenever I have hard times or selfish thoughts I am reminded of things I have read or heard before. Today it is a talk from the latest General Conference entitled "Hard is Good". Hard things happen in our lives to strengthen us and make us better. We do not want to have hard times because they suck. But when they are over you are grateful for it and you are better for it. Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to cut us down, or "prune us when we are flourishing", so that we can grow stronger. I know that i will become a better person from the hard things I experience.  Thanks for your prayers.

Sincerely,
Elder Allen




parking lot transfers.

Monday, November 6, 2017

I will be Staying to Lead and Train

Hello,

This is the end of transfers for us here in California. I have been trying really hard to learn how to do things here in this mission and to learn the area. I just got transfer news that my two companions will be leaving the area but I will be staying to lead and train a new missionary here. It feels a little soon to me but I am hoping that it turns out good. I am also the designated driver now so that will be cool. Hopefully I don't crash and kill my new baby boy. My new companion is a "visa waiter" so I will train him until he is able to go.

Halloween was pretty fun. We ate pizza and watched Meet the Mormons at one of the Churches with all the missionaries.

Something I found pretty funny last week was when we visited a former investigator named Rose. When we got there her husband answered the door and told us that Rose was at the market. As we were leaving the house and walking down the street my companion noticed that she had driven passed us. We decided to turn around and go see her since she was just getting home. As soon as we turned, around her car swerved out of its main course up towards her driveway in order to keep driving straight. We went and sat in our car until she returned from the loop she made around the neighborhood just to avoid us. The things people will do to not talk about religion.

Here is a cool story that my sweet mom sent to me this week that I really liked.  It was in a talk given by Pres. Packer called The Candle of the Lord:

What Does Salt Taste Like?
I will tell you of an experience I had before I was a General Authority which affected me profoundly. I sat on a plane next to a professed atheist who pressed his disbelief in God so urgently that I bore my testimony to him. “You are wrong,” I said, “there is a God. I know He lives!”
He protested, “You don’t know. Nobody knows that! You can’t know it!” When I would not yield, the atheist, who was an attorney, asked perhaps the ultimate question on the subject of testimony. “All right,” he said in a sneering, condescending way, “you say you know. Tell me how you know.”
When I attempted to answer, even though I held advanced academic degrees, I was helpless to communicate.
Sometimes in your youth, you young missionaries are embarrassed when the cynic, the skeptic, treat you with contempt because you do not have ready answers for everything. Before such ridicule, some turn away in shame. (Remember the iron rod, the spacious building, and the mocking? See 1 Ne. 8:28.)
When I used the words Spirit and witness, the atheist responded, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” The words prayer, discernment, and faith, were equally meaningless to him. “You see,” he said, “you don’t really know. If you did, you would be able to tell me how you know.”
I felt, perhaps, that I had borne my testimony to him unwisely and was at a loss as to what to do. Then came the experience! Something came into my mind. And I mention here a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas … and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 151.)
Such an idea came into my mind and I said to the atheist, “Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.”
“Of course I do,” was his reply.
“When did you taste salt last?”
“I just had dinner on the plane.”
“You just think you know what salt tastes like,” I said.
He insisted, “I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything.”
“If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?”
“Now you are getting juvenile,” was his reply. “Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience—I know it as well as I know anything.”
“Then,” I said, “assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like.”
After some thought, he ventured, “Well-I-uh, it is not sweet and it is not sour.”
“You’ve told me what it isn’t, not what it is.”
After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, “I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don’t know, don’t try to tell me that I don’t know, for I do!”
As we parted, I heard him mutter, “I don’t need your religion for a crutch! I don’t need it.”
From that experience forward, I have never been embarrassed or ashamed that I could not explain in words alone everything I know spiritually. The Apostle Paul said it this way:
“We speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13–14.)

I have been asked to give a talk in Church next week about Madagascar. No topic, they just want to hear about Madagascar. I will  try and talk about the spiritual stuff that happened. I will probably bare my testimony in Malagasy at the end.  That will be cool.

Love,
Elder Allen







"The typical Californian Rabbit"





Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Thank You from President Foote

November 2, 2017

Dear Parents,

We have witnessed many miracles in the past few weeks during the transfer of our missionaries to their new assignments.  We have to admit our heartstrings were being stretched as we bid farewell to these tremendous missionaries.  They will certainly be a blessing where ever they go.

We were directed to have the missionaries out of Madagascar in just four short days. This made it difficult for them as they were asked to follow specific instructions, such as not calling investigators or members to tell them they were leaving. We are grateful for their obedience and it helped to ensure their safe transfer.  We felt of your support and prayers as we moved forward with the departures.

We look forward to the day we will be back in Madagascar.  Please keep the wonderful people of Madagascar in your prayers as well as these devoted missionaries.  This will be an adjustment for them as they work to build and grow the gospel in other parts of the vineyard.

Thank you for sharing your sons and daughters with us. They have changed our lives.

May God bless your family and this marvelous missionary effort.

President Raymon D. Foote         Sister Foote

Madagascar Antananarivo Mission

Monday, October 30, 2017

Getting the Swing of Things but Still Hope to Go Back

Leaving Madagascar because of the Plague:
Warning sign about symptoms of the Plague

Goodbye lunch with Mada Missionaries.  



Saying goodbye to Elder Blatter. (MTC group)

Saying goodbye to Elder McCormick - good friend from MTC group

Elder Wilson at the mission home

Saying Goodbye to Elder Wilson, a very dear friend and companion



Last Day in Mada in the mission home

Plane in Mada

Getting on the plane in Mada

sitting alone in the Paris airport

Hello,

The mission here in California is very different but I am slowly getting in the swing of things. I still have a hope to get sent back to Madagascar though. I write my old mission President often and that is the goal as soon as it is possible.

The work here goes a lot different . Knocking doors is a whole new experience. American Culture is a little rude when it comes to visitors. People in Madagascar are a lot friendlier and enjoy talking to visitors.

Also, a lot of people do not understand what "No Soliciting" really means. We walked up to an open garage the other day and as soon as the man saw us he just says, "Oh don't bother me with that crap!" and then he walked inside. Another time we met a guy who did not believe in a God at all so I gave him a pamphlet and then encouraged him to try praying to God. He then asked me if I would try praying to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I just told him that I would try if he would try praying
to God. He refused and then called me stupid... i am just trying to have fun with it.

1 Samuel 16:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Some cool things about working in California are the members. We are fed almost every night. Also a lot of people in the ward have cool jobs. My Bishop is one of the four original animators that works for Disney. He still does the old style drawing animation for them when it is used. He worked on Aladdin and Hercules. One of his kids as a baby was what he based baby Hercules off of. Another guy is an artist for shows like King of the Hill and Futurama. It was fun chatting with them about those things. I am still meeting the ward and hope to find more people with cool jobs and stories like that.

Sincerely,
Elder Allen




New Apartment and companions in California - Elder House and Bergeron

New apartment in California

dinner the first night in California with some members in the ward.  (This just so happened to be a friend of our cousin Taylor, so she sent Jenn this picture that night. One Jenn considers a TENDER MERCY!)


Trying on new clothes in California ???

Trunk of Treat with members - he looks very handsome in his new clothes 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Emotions - "Do you have the faith not to be saved?"

Hi,
 Just in case you haven't heard, the Bubonic Plague has gotten too bad for us to stay in Madagascar so the church evacuated the entire mission this week and reassigned us all to new missions.  I have been reassigned to the California, San Fernando Mission.  It is a temporary assignment, but I only have 9 months left so this may be where I finish my mission.  We all have hopes of possibly returning to Madagascar by February or March, but not sure that will happen.

This is my first real day in California. It has been a long flight coming from Mada to South Africa then to Paris and then coming from Salt Lake to California. It was hard to stop in Salt Lake. It felt like i was coming home, but instead of seeing my family, I had to get on a fourth flight to Cali. It has been a hard couple of days preparing to leave one of the greatest places in the world!!

We have had restrictions placed on us as missionary and we knew this could be a possibility, but we never really thought it would happen.  President Foote tried really hard to keep us there but keep us safe. He is an incredible man.

On Wednesday we were put on lock down, which meant we couldn't leave our apartment.

On Thursday we got the call that we were being evacuated and leaving Madagascar after being told not to leave the house for two days.  We were told to pack quickly and not to tell anyone we were leaving.  I packed up and then got taken straight to the airport on Thursday with my baggage. I ended up not getting on the plane though because I had an expired visa. They detained me until we could show proof I was legal in their country.  So I stayed in the mission home until Saturday.  Until then we just stayed in the mission office watching people leave little by little.  It was so hard.  Everyone was getting reassigned to new missions and having to evacuate.  Sister Foote was so sad, she felt like she was losing all of her kids. It was a sad experience and I do not recommend it.  Some people went to La Reunion with Pres. Foote, some went to Zambia, some went to South Africa, a few of us came to California, and some went to Arizona.  My trainee went to St. George.  Even though we are all over the world, the First Presidency said we will always be "Madagascar missionaries!"

I did not leave Madagascar until Saturday the 21st of October at 3:00.

I got to watch some movies on the long flights over to America. I am pretty caught up with movies now except I held off on Star Wars.  I am still adjusting to the new life style and culture here in California, it is literally the opposite of Mada. I will miss Madagascar a lot especially Pres. Foote. My new mission area is Solemint California that is apart of the San Fernando Mission. My companions are an Elder House and an Elder Bergeron. This morning I had to throw out some of my old beat up clothes and go buy some new ones. I got some new pants and shoes that the mission is going to pay for. My old ones were not acceptable, especially my gray shirts.

I am still pretty sad at the moment about the change. I had to just drop and leave all of my Investigators and members back in Ambohibao. I didn't get to say good bye.  I had a couple of families that were supposed to get baptized last Saturday but now they are not. I am not sure what happened when we didn't show up.  It all just kind of sucks. I hope as time goes on I will adapt more and find a purpose here in California.

I keep being reminded of the recent talk in the last General Conference that said, "Do you have the faith not to be saved?" Sometimes we pray for things that we want and when we do not get what we want our faith decreases. That talk was all about submitting yourself to Gods will and having the faith that whether you get what you prayed for or not God has a plan for you that is for your benefit. It makes me think about my faith in God's plan for me as a missionary. Whether I have the faith in his plan for me here in California or not. I prayed a lot to hopefully one day get to go back to Mada but I think i just need to have the faith not to be saved. I know God has a plan for me here. I will continue to work hard and hopefully one day find the reason that I came here.

Sincerely,
Elder Allen


My mom sent me these thoughts and it made me feel a little better.  These are thoughts from a dad of one of the Elders in my mission in Madagascar.  (Elder Snow's Dad) It helped me see a new perspective and realize that this needed to happen:

"Just random thoughts on all of this:  
(1) the Mada missionaries need to be encouraged to SYL (study your language) with each other as much as possible, especially with the newer elders who are going to be missing the language immersion experience they would usually get.  Some, if not all, of them WILL be returning to Madagascar and they'll need to be able to hit the ground running when they do.

(2) I think some people (myself included at first) thought this evacuation was premature. Then I thought about the disaster it would be if they waited until the situation was more serious.  Several neighboring countries were already talking about imposing restrictions on inbound travel from Madagascar.  How do you evacuate the missionaries once that happens? Also, the kinds of things missionaries do every day (going door-to-door, meeting and speaking with large numbers of strangers) are exactly the kinds of things you cannot do when you're dealing with an epidemic of a 100% fatal, airborne disease. And what if a missionary did get sick or even worse, helped spread the disease? As disappointed as we all are, it's pretty easy to see the wisdom in this decision. 

(3) The Lord has proven himself to be a master of backup plans, and he has one for this. All of those investigators and members will be provided for and we need to trust in him.  He KNEW this would happen and the pieces are in place for the work to go forward and the elect will not be lost. 

(4) Our sons are capable and strong young men who are going through this because the Lord knows they can handle it. It's tough, but part of the mission experience is to find out what you're capable of doing in partnership with the Lord.  This is one of those great unique opportunities. 

(5) Everyone needs to read Elder Bednar's talk from the April 2017 Priesthood Session of General Conference https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/called-to-the-work?lang=eng. It's been quoted below, and it's perfectly inspired, comforting, and timely."

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Meeting President & Sister Henrie

Dear Brother and Sister Allen,
Elder Allen arrived today in the Great California San Fernando Mission.  President Henrie and I are excited he is here.  Elder Allen has received his companion and has been assigned to his first area.  All is well.  We look forward to serving with your son as we join with him in the great purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ.
In addition, we would invite you to follow the Great California San Fernando Mission on our Facebook page.  You can find us on Facebook at CASF Mission 2015-2018.  Check in often to see pictures of our mission activities.
Thank you for raising a righteous son who is willing to consecrate himself to serving the Lord.  We will take good care of him.
Love,                                                                                                                                                                                
Sister Henrie


New Address

Hello Elder and Sister Allen,
This is Sister Wilson from the CFSM office. It was great to see your son, Elder Allen last night.  He looked great considering all he has been through.

Our mission is a driving/bike mission.  We need a DMV record for him.  If you could get that and either email or mail it to our office that would be very helpful.  Also we have temporarily provided a bike for him.  If he could buy a helmet and bike lock that would be helpful as well.

If you have any questions please contact me at our mission office.
661-288-1614

23504 Lyons Ave Suite 107
Santa Clarita, CA 91321

Thank you,
Sister Wilson