Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24th.

Things are starting to really change here in Chico. Change is what
this place needs and change is what we've been praying for! This area
has so much potential to be one of the most thriving areas in the
mission and we are ready to get that started.

The wards we have here in Chico are a lot different than the ones that
I have had in the past. In my previous wards we have had no problem in
getting them involved with missionary work. When we bring
investigators, they were making sure they were taken care of, really
reaching out, and so eager to help. The family ward here is struggling
in that aspect and so we have been diligently praying for ways to best
work with the Elders to help our ward.

It's funny, because as much as I sometimes complained about not being
as busy as I would have liked in Loomis, all the work we did with the
Loomis 3rd ward has really prepared me to know how to help this ward.
All of the time we spent in the members homes, playing the referral
game, practice teaching the doctrine, etc. has really helped me have
some good ideas of how to really help this ward here. Someone told me
in my first area that I should be very grateful to serve in good wards
because sometime along the length of my mission I would probably be in
a ward that needed my knowledge of a well run ward council and good
missionary support. Now my time is here. Don't get me wrong the Chico
2nd ward is super awesome, but there are just some things they need to
work on to get the missionary work rolling. The Lord needs to really
be able to trust our members with retention...and as missionaries
that's what we are here to help them learn how to do!

Yesterday in sacrament meeting they announced that we will be
receiving a new bishopric this next week! Although the current Bishop
is great, he has been in for about six years now and so it is time for
a fresh face. The ward needs someone who can really be a good example
of reaching out to less actives, investigators, and doing member
missionary work. Sister Housley and I both feel like this change is
going to be for the good. We are working hard to know what we should
do to help the word get most involved in the work of salvation.

Monday afternoon we went on a hike with all the sisters in the Chico Zone. We went to the infamous Monkey Face in upper Bidwell Park. Bidwell Park is one of the largest city parks in the world, just FYI. That morning in studies, Sister Housley said a prayer asking Heavenly Father for an unplanned opportunity to share the gospel. As we were walking over to the Monkey Face, there was a woman sitting on the bench. She asked us if we were all on a cross country team and I told her that we were all missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She was astounded and started crying. She went around to each of us twice giving us big hugs and said that we were an answer from God. We said a prayer with her and she asked us to come and visit her. The sisters whose area she lives in, were able to get her information and hopefully something will come of it. Always keep your eyes out for opportunities that come your way to share the gospel! You never know who the Lord needs you to bless.

I went on my first set of exchanges with Sisters this week and they
were not as bad as I thought they would be. Tuesday I went with Sister
Vakapuna in the Chico 3rd and 4th wards. Sister Vakapuna and Sister
Phelps actually live with us, so it was really easy to exchange with
them. These sisters are in a bike area, so i was cruising around on my
bike all day. (Sister Housley and I are spoiled with a brand new 2014
Toyota Corolla. Its ridiculous.) I learned some devastating news about
myself on Tuesday, I am more out of shape then I thought it was. Its
official. My body can barely take a day of biking. Ugh, working out
for 30 minutes in the morning is definitely not enough to keep you in
shape. Thats for sure. We exchanged with the Paradise Sisters on
Thursday. I was up in Paradise, this tiny forest town, with Sister
Matchett. We spent the day doing lots of service for the members and
trying to find our way around the tiny, bumpy roads. Its weird to me
that only 30 minutes up the road from Chico, it can look so different.
They even get snow up there! We have another set of exchanges tomorrow
with the Durham Sisters and then one more for next week with the
Willows Sisters...then we will be finished, unless any of the
companionships start having issues. They seem pretty good for now! I
like exchanges a lot because I can learn from different teaching
styles, learn new ways of doing things, and hopefully be an example to the sisters i'm with. I am grateful for the opportunity.

Wednesday we had three member present lessons in a row! Which is
pretty awesome! One right after the other. We were in our "golden"
mobile home park from 2:30-6:30pm. First we had an hour and a half
lesson with Tracy, Tammy, and Nancy talking about the will of God. We
walked right across the street and popped in for a quick lesson with
Sherry. As i have said before, Sherry is a firecracker and lives life
at a fast pace, yet we LOVE her so much. After she stopped talking a
mile a minute, we got to read 2 Nephi 31 with her. Then we walked down
the street to Ken and Bobby's for our first lesson with them. (Ken is
the new investigator and Bobby is a less active member that we found
last week.) We started teaching the plan of salvation, but slowly
moved in to teaching the Restoration. Ken's wife Jan, who supposedly
was against the church after attending for one year when she was 13,
walked up and we were able to solve her concerns and invite her to
church too! They have a houseful of people who are ready and willing
to hear the gospel. Miracle time: Bobby came to church yesterday! He
said that he was feeling pretty nervous, but stayed all three hours. I
hope he continues to come. The gospel is what he needs and it will
change his life. He is a very shy person and i think we will slowly
see him come out of his shell as he finds good friends in the ward.
Things are starting to move along!

Linda, one of our investigators in the family ward, has been making
some real progress this past week. She had polio as a child and still
suffers from some of the effects from it. This causes her to have a
more difficult time getting to church every week. Yesterday after
church, we were able to have a lesson with her. It went well and at
the end we invited her to come to the musical fireside. She was a
little unsure at first and didn't know if she was actually going to be
able to make it. After the lesson, we were sitting in the car and said
a quick prayer that Heavenly Father would give Linda the desire to
come to the fireside. That night we were driving over to the fireside
and still hadn't heard from Linda of whether or not she was coming.
(She told us she would text us once she left her house) Ten minutes
before the fireside started, we got a text from Linda that she was on
her way over! She sat with us and enjoyed the whole thing. It was an
amazing miracle that Heavenly Father provided us to be apart of. I
think that is one of my favorite parts of my mission. Seeing God work
directly in people's lives and allowing us to witness miracles happen
right in front of us. You can't deny He is there!

Yesterday afternoon we were able to go over to the Salvation Army with
the YSA. We spent an hour preparing and serving food to the homeless
people of Chico. My mission has really made me think about how much
each of our decisions determine our future. Most of those people could
be in such a different situation if they had just made better decisions. If they just never smoked that first cigarette, or never drank their first beer, never went to that one party, they would have never spiraled down to the point where they are now. Completely homeless and living on the streets. It also made me think about how truly grateful I am for the word of wisdom. What a blessing it is that our loving Heavenly Father would give Joseph Smith this revelation. God knew how much of a temptation these certain things would be to us. He knows how much they can destroy our lives, our relationships, and our eternal standing with him. They are not put there to restrict us. They are in place to keep us healthy. To keep us independent and not dependent on other substances to keep us awake, to "rid our problems", etc. In reality, alcohol, substance abuse, tobacco all cause us more problems than we originally had. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone obeyed the word of wisdom. The world would be unrecognizable. God gives every commandment for a reason. I know that to be true. Even though we may not know the full reasoning behind each specific commandment, I know God does. He knows what's best and we should trust in Him always.

We didn't do much work in the YSA ward this week. Everyone was out of town on Spring Break and so there wasn't much to do. This made Facebook and texting, our best friend because we needed to keep in contact with them. Hopefully things will be back to normal this week!
Breaking news: I have a wisdom tooth. Just one. After 20 years of dentist appointments, I am now officially too wise for my own good. This is what my mission has done to me. Heavenly Father has made me so wise that I now have to have a wisdom tooth to prove it. No impact or anything, so it will probably not be a problem or have to be taken care of until after the mission. I just never thought this day would have to come. I thought I was off the hook.
Because I finished the Book of Mormon challenge last week, I have been looking for a new way to study. Sister Housley gave me an awesome idea and it has been extremely effective. Each day I write down in my study journal a question that I am desiring an answer to. It can be anything from "How can I be a more effective missionary?" to "What should we do today?". I start reading in the Book of Mormon exactly where I left off and each time without fail, I have found an answer to my question. I will have to send you a picture of my study notes, because it has been the most effective way for me to learn how much the Book of Mormon can bless our lives. No matter what our concerns or questions are, the Book of Mormon can answer them all. As I read over my patriarchal blessing, I realize that my blessing tells me to use the scriptures as my guide in life. I am grateful that Sister Housley was able to teach me an extremely effective way to use the scriptures in my life. I know that I will use this way of studying throughout my whole life when things get rough and I need answers from God.
I love this gospel. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to be out here. I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Chico is great. I love it here. I am excited for everything that is happening. I am grateful for this gospel. I know it is all true. I am grateful for all the growth that has taken place in my life over the past nine months. I love who I am now and who I am becoming. I can not express my gratitude enough.
I love you all. Miss you all like crazy! Pray, Read, Obey, Receive Blessings. It's that simple.
Sister Allen

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