Monday, October 21, 2013

Thank You


This time next week I will be home. We will board a bus Tuesday night and arrive in Manila Wednesday morning. This is made interesting by the fact that no one has used the bus to or from the mission in over a year. Everyone has been flying to and from Cauayan on a 30 minute flight, avoiding a dangerous and grueling 12 hour bus ride.  We got a call Saturday morning from President Rahlf informing us of the change in plans and that we will have the opportunity to ride the bus again.

BUT, on the other hand we get to go home. I suggested we rebel against the bus by not going home, but I don’t think anyone else was with me.

It has been almost 25 months since I left my family to serve a mission. Over the last two years I have learned a lot.  That’s an understatement. I have seen, heard, and felt a lot. Hopefully I have learned something from all of it, and changed for the better because of it. I couldn't tell you how I’ve changed, you would have to judge that for yourselves, but I can tell you a simple truth I have learned; God loves everyone. Even me. Even you.  And because he loves us, he put us here and prepared a way for us to reach him again.

Recently, I was sitting on a van traveling between San Manuel and Roxas beside a man who expressed the utmost respect for us as missionaries. But, he also told us that we were wrong. That religion can’t save us, only our relationship with God can save us.  It seemed as if he was trying to provoke me but I told him, “That’s exactly right. Religion can’t save us."  I have seen so many people that have been baptized into many different churches assuming that one of them has to be right, and that will save them in the end.  That’s not how it works.  Not at all. 

He was right. He just didn't understand his relationship with God. Jesus Christ said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."  It is as simple as that.  That is our relationship with God.  Being baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can’t save anyone. It’s living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, baptism is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is merely a step of repentance. Not just a way into another church.

I know that the Gospel is true, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ restored by he himself through the prophet Joseph Smith on earth.  We, as people, may not be perfect, but the Gospel is. 

Thank you for everything from everybody.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Earthquake Update

Editor's Note:  There was a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the Philippines on about 9:37am on Oct. 15 (local time.)  The earthquake was centered on the island of Bohol, about 450 miles south of Elder Allen's location.   Elder Allen is safe.  However, at least 67 people have died.  The people of the Philippines can use your prayers, as always.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Let the End Begin


It has been a hectic week, so I'll start from end of the beginning of the end (last week, Tuesday, Oct. 1).

We had district meeting as usual. we went to lunch as a zone as usual. We ran between Mang Inasal and Mcdo (McDonalds) trying to find food, which isn't really usual, but isn't unusual. After doing some errands and picking some stuff up for other elders we would be seeing wednesday morning at MLC (Missionary Leadership Council), around 2:30 I got a call from President Rahlf asking me to pack my stuff as if i was being transferred and bring it with me to Cauayan the morning of the next day. I was dumb struck. I told Elder Llorin what Pres Rahlf told me. But, still dazed I called President again. "So let me get this straight," I said, "I'm Transferred?"
"Yes, I need you to pack your things and bring them with you tomorrow"
"All my things?"
"Yes," he laughed.
"I'll be honest president, I'm confused- ".
"Don't be confused, this is a good thing, I have another assignment for you"
"Okay, President, if you think this is right, I trust you. Take care of my Zone"
"Don't worry," he laughed again and hung up.
Against Presidents advice, I spent the rest of the day confused, frustrated, and sad, while packing a little at a time then sitting down to think, then packing a little more.

Wednesday, Oct 2 (My ministerial card expired today because I was supposed to be gone Sept. 28th.)

I show up in Cauayan with my belongings bright and early in President Rahlf's office. 
Me and Elder Llorin, a very good man.
This is the last time I'll probably see him.
He thanked me for packing up and bringing my stuff and assured me that he felt good about this new assignment and that it was right for me. As we all knew, Elder Nielsen would be rotated out of AP three weeks into the cycle. Pres. explained that originally he had planned on putting Elder Nielsen in this new area, but somehow it fell on me. The assignment was opening a new area called San Manuel in the Roxas zone, with a part-time companion (Brother John Paul Saludes). President told me, he felt better about Nielsen going and talking my spot in Santiago as ZL, that way he could continue to use his leadership skill and add fresh blood to the fight, and I would, well, be in Roxas. After MLC me and Brother Saludes were taken by the APs (Elders Bluth and Ardon) and the Housing elders (Elders James and Oldem) to the new, unfurnished, San Manuel apartment, to find out it was unfinished. NO ONE was expecting this transfer to happen. We loaded a bunch of stuff into a little room in the house, and me and Brother Saludes slept with the ZLs (Elder Wellman and Elder Sarcauga) in Roxas that night.

Thursday, Oct 3

Elder James comes back in the morning to take us back to the apartment and bring us a few more overlooked necessities. We meet up with the elders who we will be sharing the Aurora branch with (Elders Cousin and Franzulla). As we wait for work to be done on the house we look around, we talk about the area and so on. We can't leave the house unattended because they are some pretty shady people working on it. We are there until night. We get no work done, the people have left but, we still have no water or other homely things. We sleep in Aurora that night.

Friday, Oct 4

Me and my last companion, Brother John Paul Saludes.
Because he is a part time missionary, he doesn't have
 a name tag, so he is wearing one of mine.
We go back to the apartment in San Manuel first thing in the morning to weekly plan. The first thing I do is change. I have been wearing the same clothes since the 1st when I packed all my other clothes. And I shave. The Aurora elders help us plan. We go looking for somewhere to eat lunch. San Manuel is an island of a town in a sea of bukids (rice paddies) for miles in every direction. After lunch they show us around to the stuff they know then we go and baby-sit our house again as we wait for work to be done. We sleep there on the bottom floor, on the floor because the upstairs isn't finished.

Sleeping on the floor of the not-quite-ready
apartment in San Manuel. 
We spent the rest of the week waiting as work was done in the house. The good news is we got water last night. Interesting facts about San Manuel I have learned is that there haven't been missionaries focused there for almost 9 years. It used to be its own branch, but then something happened to sister missionaries there and they were pulled out, the branch merged into Aurora branch, and all the members went inactive because Aurora is pretty far. The house we live in is easily the nicest elders apartment in this mission. From what I have gathered, it used to be a Couple Missionary apartment, a long long time ago. Once its finished and all the leaks are fixed, it will be very very nice. Our area is way too dangerous for sisters, so we don't have to worry about them stealing our apartment. haha. 

And that's what's new in the Mission of Elder Allen. And thus starts the end of my Mission.  Two and half weeks to go, new area, new companion, new adventure!

I don't get to see General conference until next week. That will be my 5th gen conf while serving!

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

Monday, September 23, 2013

Another Week, Another Typhoon

Editor's Note:  Super Typhoon Usagi brushed by the Philippines this weekend on it's way to Hong Kong.  While there was a lot of rain, there was little wind damage.  Sadly, at least two people were killed in the Philippines.  Elder Allen is safe and sound, if slightly damp.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Maddela Falls

Me at the falls at Maddela.

Well, it's been a week.  A whole week. A week in which Elder Llorin and I were both sick, so we didn't get a whole lot done.  Now another week will begin. This one brings the start of a new cycle.  There has been a little shuffling. I'll let you know how that goes next week. This last week we had Missionary Leadership Training, where we where were instructed in missionary leader things. Now I've run out of things to say. We went to some falls in a town called Maddela a few weeks ago. We attended a baptism of 12 on Satuday.  I am not being transferred and neither is Elder Llorin, so I will--for only the third time in my mission--spend a 2nd complete cycle with my companion.

Love you all.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen
Santiago South Zone in August, 2013

Elder Ardon, me, Elder Ilagan

Monday, August 26, 2013

This Week's Answers


How is your new companion?
Elder Llorin is quite easlily the nicest companion I have ever had. He's just so nice. It's ridiculous. 

Do you have any investigators?
We do. Unfortunately, few of them progress. 

What are some of the changes under President Rahlf?
President Rahlf is a lot more strict. He is a great fun guy, but of course he would perfer for us to follow the rules; which i think is perfect. I love the way he is doing things. He knows what to do and he knows how to do it. He and sister Rahlf are some great people.  I don't feel the same love I used to, but hey, no one can replace the Carloses.

How is the zone doing? 
I've been pretty stressed these past weeks trying to hold stuff together. The stress is wearing me out. But I'll figure it out. 

How is your health?
Stress. But besides the side effects of that, I'm a pretty healthy animal. Oh and allergies...

Any flooding related to the most recent typhoons?
Yeah. Lots of it. The water is high. Down in viscaya a barrier fell sending a wall of water toward some Sisters destroying their apartment. Crazy. 

I love you all.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

Monday, August 12, 2013

Typhoon Utor

Editor's Note:  Typhoon Utor hit Isabela province in the Philippines yesterday.  Elder Allen is serving in Cauayan in Isabela province.  He checked in to say that he was fine and their area suffered little damage.  Below is a quick summary from the Fox News website:

A powerful typhoon battered the northern Philippines on Monday, toppling power lines and dumping heavy rain across cities and food-growing plains. The storm left at least two people dead and 44 missing.
Typhoon Utor, described as the strongest globally this year, slammed ashore in mountainous eastern Aurora province with sustained winds of 109 miles per hour and gusts of up to 130 mph.
Footage from ABS-CBN TV network showed a woman swept away by a raging river in neighboring Isabela province. The woman waved her hands for help as she struggled to hang on to debris while being buffeted by huge waves in the muddy waters. It was not known what happened to her.

Read more:

Satellite image of Typhoon Utor

Infrared image of Typhoon Utor

As always, the people of the Philippines could use your prayers; as well as Elder Allen and the other missionaries.  This is Elder Allen's fourth Typhoon in his two years in the Philippines.