Monday, April 28, 2014

HEY people of America!

Hey everyone! How was your week? Hope you guys are doing well and I can't believe its already finals week. Dreading the fact that this time next year I will be sitting at a desk taking a final...ugh...

The last couple weeks here in Chico have been tough. I am still  trying to figure out why I am supposed to be here...but have come to the realization that I may not know now. I may find out after I leave the area or even after my mission. I just have to trust that the Lord knows what's going on. Words of Mormon 1:7, "...And now I do not know all things which are to come; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will." 

Sherry is still slowly progressing forward. She has got a lot on her plate dealing with Michael's behavior and things have been extra hard since the kid's dad got out of rehab. He feeds their minds with Anti Mormon stuff and now Michael won't even wear his CTR ring...ugh...keep her in your prayers. Even though things have been tough, I know that the Lord is on our side. He will buoy us up. I did have a lot of good studies this week though, which is positive. 

1 Nephi 16: 1-5 reads, "And now it came to pass after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did exhort my brethren, with all diligence, to keep the commandments of the Lord. And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness."

These scriptures really stuck out to me this week. Sister Housley and I talked a lot this week about how we all know that God is going to win in the end, yet we still choose not to be on his side. We all know that if we want to be happy that we need to stick it out with God. With God, we can win. Its one side or the other. We can't tiptoe between right and wrong. In these scriptures, Nephi is talking with Laman and Lemuel. They think that the commandments are hard and are hindering their ability to be happy. Yet we all know that commandments do just the opposite. They enable us. They allow us to receive endless, eternal blessings from our Father in Heaven. The choice is ours. We can choose to follow the commandments and "walk in the paths of righteousness" OR we can sit there and complain that the commandments are too hard to follow. I promise that if you look forward in to the eternities, you will be grateful you made the decision to "walk in the paths of righteousness."

Saturday morning, the Chico Stake got together and did a Mormon Helping Hands service project down in Chapmantown. We were assigned to work over at the Chico Children Community Center clearing out a garden. After 45 minutes of running up and down Elm Street, we finally found where we were supposed to  be working...It was a lot of work. There was a giant area that had been grown over with bermuda grass and we had to clear it all out for their preschools garden. There was a good group of us over there and it looked 10x better than before. After everyone had left, it was just us and Jen, the preschool supervisor. She is super nice. We started talking and answered her questions that she had about missionaries from our church. She was very open with us and told us how she had come back to church only a couple years prior, when her husband had his first heart attack at age young! She is catholic, but attends different churches. Her husband is constantly in and out of the hospital and has been there for the past two months with pneumonia. Her daughter is 14 and is in and out of the psych ward. She is struggling with some bullies at school and is really depressed to the point of attempted suicide. Jen is so sweet and has all this on her plate. I felt very strongly that we should show her a Mormon message and so as she went to lock up the preschool, I ran to the car and grabbed my iPad. I showed her the Mormon Message "Mountains to Climb" and she was completely in tears the whole time. She loved it and was super grateful afterwards. She even said that it was another little miracle that was an answer to her prayers that she was not alone through all this. We exchanged phone numbers and are hoping to go back to the school this weekend to help plant the garden. I really hope something will come of this.

This morning during studies, Sister Housley found this really awesome passage from Jesus the Christ that I loved. We are both reading it and loving it. I was actually thinking about the following concept earlier this morning and it was perfect that she came across it this morning. I was thinking a lot about what people think makes them happy. A lot of things in the world just make us temporarily happy. The true lasting happiness is what comes from keeping the commandments, but the world would tell us otherwise. Pleasure is temporary and comes with guilt, repentance, etc.  The following is an excerpt from Jesus the Christ Chapter 17- The Sermon on the Mount. You can find the full explanation in the footnotes, but I just included a part that I really loved. 

Enjoy the following comparison by Talmage of Pleasure and Happiness...I absolutely loved the part that I underlined and bolded! "Pleasure Versus Happiness.--"The present is an age of pleasure-seeking, and men are losing their sanity in the mad rush for sensations that do but excite and disappoint. In this day of counterfeits, adulteration's, and base imitations, the devil is busier than he has ever been in the course of human history, in the manufacture of pleasures, both old and new; and these he offers for sale in most attractive fashion, falsely labeled, Happiness. In this soul-destroying craft he is without a peer; he has had centuries of experience and practice, and by his skill he controls the market. He has learned the tricks of the trade, and knows well how to catch the eye and arouse the desire of his customers. He puts up the stuff in bright-colored packages, tied with tinsel string and tassel; and crowds flock to his bargain counters, hustling and crushing one another in their frenzy to buy. 

"Follow one of the purchasers as he goes off gloatingly with his gaudy packet, and watch him as he opens it. What finds he inside the gilded wrapping? He has expected fragrant happiness, but uncovers only an inferior brand of pleasure, the stench of which is nauseating. 

"Happiness includes all that is really desirable and of true worth in pleasure, and much besides. Happiness is genuine gold, pleasure but gilded brass, which corrodes in the hand, and is soon converted into poisonous verdigris. Happiness is as the genuine diamond, which, rough or polished, shines with its own inimitable luster; pleasure is as the paste imitation that glows only when artificially embellished. Happiness is as the ruby, red as the heart's blood, hard and enduring; pleasure, as stained glass, soft, brittle, and of but transitory beauty. 

"Happiness is true food, wholesome, nutritious and sweet; it builds up the body and generates energy for action, physical, mental and spiritual; pleasure is but a deceiving stimulant which, like spiritous drink, makes one think he is strong when in reality enfeebled; makes him fancy he is well when in fact stricken with deadly malady. 

"Happiness leaves no bad after-taste, it is followed by no depressing reaction; it calls for no repentance, brings no regret, entails no remorse; pleasure too often makes necessary repentance, contrition, and suffering; and, if indulged to the extreme, it brings degradation and destruction

"True happiness is lived over and over again in memory, always with a renewal of the original good; a moment of unholy pleasure may leave a barbed sting, which, like a thorn in the flesh, is an ever-present source of anguish."

My mission has taught me a lot about how important it is to follow the promptings of the Spirit. As a missionary, we are set apart to have the Spirit with us always. I think it won't be until after I am released as a missionary that I will realize how strong the Spirit is with me as a missionary. It is an amazing blessing and a witness to me that God wants us to succeed. Through the Holy Ghost, we can know God's will. We can know what he needs us to do. He keeps us safe, testifies of truth, and helps us know what to say to pierce the hearts of "those who know not God." I am grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and I hope you all really work on following the spirit this week. "He knows the way!" (oh, so does the prophet...ha)

Decisions Determine Destiny. Remember that fo life.

Love you all so much!


Sister Allen

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