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.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friends and Companions

   After having one camera broken, then stolen, then having my replacement camera die, I broke down and spent 5,000 pesos for a camera to finish my mission.  Here are some pictures:

This is Elder Needs, a great missionary from Michigan.  He went home this week with Elder Nay.  I'll see him again when he comes out to BYU.

This is elder Lasay (lass-eye) he was my companion in Jones after Elder Elgan. He's one of my favorite companions. He went home this week as well.

The next is Elders Camain in the back, Llorin in the middle and Marshall. Elder Llorin is my new companion. He will probably be my favorite comp, and hopefully he's my last. He's is my 15th companion.

I love you all.

Elder Allen

Monday, July 29, 2013

All's Quiet in the Santiago South Zone


There will be no changes in our zone this cycle except my companion and an elder going home and a sister getting transferred.  Besides that it will be pretty much the same but better next cycle. Elder Needs and Elder Nay and a bunch more will be heading home tomorrow.  I have two cycles left in my mission and I want to make them count. I have been having a lot of fun lately helping elder Zhang learn english and figuring out the area. Not much is going to change except I'll have a new companion to do it with.  I love you all.

Mahal ko Kayo,

Elder Allen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Elder Nay Gets Hit by a Motorcycle

Elder Nay in the hospital

We were half way through district meeting when we saw through the window that President Ralhf had come to check on us. That put everyone on edge, especially the district leader, Elder Marshall, who, despite not really planning, taught a great and very helpful lesson about companionship inventory.  Afterwards President told us that the real reason he came was to check on Elder Nay because he had been hit by a single motor (motorcycle) down in Lamut the night before and was rushed up to the hospital in Santiago.  As they left, I caught up with him to see if i could go check on Michael.  President Ralhf instructed me to check up on him every now and then to keep him company.  He was battered and bloody, but sustained no broken bones.  The accident happened just two weeks before he goes home.  So we spent some time and got to chat and learn a little about each other's missions. Michael's last two cycles have been the only time in our missions that we were even on the same side of the Cauayan mission, although we live just a couple of blocks apart in Utah.  That's how we ended up there.  It was good.  As you can see from the picture, he was in pretty good spirits for a guy in a Philippino hospital.

You can get all the details on the accident and see some great bloody pictures on Elder Nay's blog:

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Rules are Changing


The Rahlfs were at the Worldwide Mission President’s Training in Provo last week, they said it was great.  Technically, we will be allowed to use Facebook pretty soon here.  I have never once opened my Facebook account on my mission. Very very few missionaries haven’t opened Facebook at least once.  I’m not going to until we get a definite “Go” sign from up high.

I’m glad Jonah made it to Timberline.  That’s hilarious that my scout uniforms were way too small for him.  I was tiny then, but I just kept growing slowly until I came on my mission. I tell people when they ask that I am 5' 9 1/2" just to make myself feel better. I don’t actually know, I haven’t been actually measured in two years.

The Carlos’ leaving is tough, but something I always expected. I love them like I love you, and I’m going to find them after my mission. I called Pres Carlos out on my challenging companions one time. He just smiled and said it wasn’t anything he thought I couldn’t handle. 

Now I am excited to see how President Rahlf works things.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen
Elder Zhang, Me and Elder Phippen

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Birthday


Sunrise in Baluarte
My new companion is elder Sulla (ryhms with julia). We live in a compound with Elder Phippen, from Salt lake, and he is training Elder Zhang who is from way-north-border-of-Mongolia-forgot-what-its-called China.

Fun facts about china;

1. Its communist.
2. Christian religions are forbidden.
3. Names are backwards. For example, elder Zhangs name is Zhang Jia Feng. the family name is first.
4. There are only about 100 family names in China. That’s why we always hear about Fa's or Chang's, or Li's. There about 3,699,999 people walking around with your same Chinese family name.
5. China is big.

Elder Zhang is the first Chinese missionary in the Philippines Cauayan Mission.

President and sister Carlos left today. But on birthdays, they call you and sing happy birthday and talk to you for a second in the morning. Before they got on a plane today, they somehow found time to call me up and sing happy birthday to me, them and the Rahlfs and the APs and whoever else may have been there. Elder iIagan told me afterwords that it was the saddest song of happy birthday he had ever seen. Sister Carlos told me she would never forget when my birthday was, and president said he would see me sometime in America. Everyone was in tears. You can imagine how the song sounded. It was wonderful.  It made my mission. I feel their love all the time. 

As of yesterday, we have had a new mission president. The Rahlfs from Ohio.  I’m so excited to meet them and get to know them. I wont get to meet them till next week though; we will be one of the last zones to be interviewed.  I love you all.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

My new companion Elder Sulla, Elder Zhang, me Elder Phippen

Monday, June 17, 2013

Transfers This Week


Me on the right at the Zone Leaders Conference
I’m doing pretty good.  Transfers are this week and there are going to be a lot of changes in our zone so I’m working on that stuff right now. The zone is being overhauled this cycle, and my area is being split so I will be showing three elders around and figuring that out while juggling the rest of the zone. I’ll definitely get something good to write about out of transfers.

I moved again earlier this morning. Haha. That’s the fourth move between transfers I’ve made in the mission I think.

I guess Noah figured Boys State out better than I did. That’s my boy!  I haven’t seen Elder Allred since he came in last transfer but I have been trying to talk to him.  I will get to see him tomorrow though, and finally get a chance to say, "Hey, we are somehow distantly related through marriage. How’re you doing?"  It’ll be great. Elder Volpe is doing much better, I’ve actually seen him a bit this cy

Me photo-bombing Elder james
cle.  He just wants a new companion because his comp right now it the trunkiest kid on the planet and still has a cycle to go.  He calls me dad. So yep…I am a mission parent.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

Elders James, Proctor, Nielsen and Me...eating!  Yay!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Few More Questions


Here are some answers to recent questions:

When is the next Transfer Day?
Next Transfer Day is June 19th, I will be getting a new companion, and will be splitting the area once again. (like Ramon).

Who are you teaching?
We have a bunch of investigators but none that are progressing. We are doing our best.

What do you like about your new area?
The best thing about Baluarte is that it is close to the big city of Santiago but its far enough away that we are working in the fields and mountains and forest of the Philippines.  The fresh air with the convenience of the city.

Have you seen any interesting animals lately?
We have seen an unusually large number of smushed cats in the road lately.  That’s a strange animal.  And we found a crab in our bathroom. That was weird. No idea where that came from.

When are the Carlos’ leaving?  Are you prepared for that?
The Carlos's leave on July 1st.  But I think it will be fine. There isn’t much to worry about. I think the new president will be great in his own way. But as President Carlos pointed out in my last interview, President Rahlf will love me, but not like President Carlos loves me. Ha!  It’s true.
Pres & Sister Carlos

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

Pres & Sister Rahlf

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Area and Companion


My original MTC batch 18 months later. Elders Nielsen
Proctor, James and me. 
I am in a new area with a new companion.  My new area is Baluarte, just south of Santiago.  My new companion is my old friend Elder Proctor who was in my batch in the MTC.

This last week started with a very intresting P-Day. We had a lock-down (meaning we were not allowed to leave our apartments) that started at 12pm and lasted the entire day.  All because of the elections. They get pretty heated.  But it was also the day we get to Skype our families to talk on Mother's Day. So it was a great day to talk to my family for the last time in the mission before I see them face to face.  After Skyping briefly in the morning, we ran around getting a few errands done, and then, since we were locked in our appartmens for a ridiculous amount of time, president allowed us to watch some Disney movies.  Wreck-it-Ralph is awesome. 

This week Elder Proctor and me have been chased by children, dogs, crazy people, members, and girls.  It was a great week. It's interesting how different people act or treat two Americans as opposed to 1 American and 1 Philippino. but me and Elder Proctor are keeping things together here in Santiago North Zone and having a blast. I'm Elder Proctor's first American companion too, so you can imagine the fun we are having. I love you all.

Mahal ko kayo,

Elder Allen

My new companion Elder Proctor and me.  If I look
apprehensive, its because I know him well.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Photos

   Now that I have a camera again I can start sending pictures.  Like these:

My new companion Elder Volpe.

Sunset at Naguillian
Me with Elder Betancourt after his first baptism.

I love you all.

Mahal ko kayo, 

Elder Allen

Monday, April 15, 2013

20 Questions


I actually got the package you sent on Feb. 2 earlier today!  Elder Needs called and said "Guess what. Your Package is here!" I was so excited.

So we don’t have to worry about that anymore. It cost me 1,575P ($38) personal money though because of the stupid taxes and stuff.  I don’t dare to check my bank account from here because I don’t trust the computers. There are some crazy bugs and viruses.

I love you. Thank you so much for the package. We opened it and immediately threw all the candy in the freezer to harden up. We are going to party later tonight!

Eli, here are some questions that have accumulated, which you can answer if you have time:

Have you felt any earthquakes?
There have been a few earthquakes lately, but I haven’t noticed them.  I just hear about them from others. I don’t know how I miss ‘em.
Elders Ilagan, Needs (in squint mode), Coronel  and me.

Have you eaten dog?
I actually ate dog about two weeks ago, but I forgot to tell you. It’s very interesting. Not actually very meaty but it doesn’t taste very bad. Yum.

Do you still love the fruit?
I still love the fruit. It’s not really much of a fruit season right now though. In the fall is when I get excited about the fruit. I’m afraid that I wont like fruit when I get home. I’ve been spoiled for two years. haha.

What do you have for breakfast? 
For breakfast I usually make a bowl of oatmeal and add some slices of banana. It’s delicious. I’m still skinny though.

Tell us about your new companion.
Elder Volpe is from Cary, NC.  His dad joined the Church when he was 17, just like my dad. And his mom goes back to the pioneers, just like my mom.  He was very homesick when he arrived, like most of us, but he is getting better.

Who is the nicest Filipino you have met?  
The nicest and most impressive Filipino I have met is definitely President Carlos. haha.  But besides him, missionary wise, Elder Ilagan.  People wise, Brother and sister Fernandez (the man that baptized the Gumaru family) and the Gumaru family. I love them.

Do you have access to laundry in Cauauyan?  Or you still doing it by hand?
We actually have a laundry shop here, and we can give them everything but our delicates.  We still wash those by hand.  Way easy... just don’t smell me.

Where would you like to go finish your mission?  
I actually want to go up to the north end of the mission.  Go die in the hotness.  I haven’t been assigned up in the north half of the mission, yet. I’ll be okay if that doesn’t happen though. “I’ll go where you want me to go.”

What was the best training you have had on your mission?
Elder Arden came and gave a super wing-it lesson to a few of us at the mission home one time. It was all about learning by the Spirit... which is what every general authority speaks on, I’ve noticed.

We get to talk to you on Mon, May 13 (your time, Mother's Day our time.) We are terribly excited.
I can’t wait to talk to you all on Mothers Day either.  We'll chat then.

I like it more when there are specific questions to be answered. Feels more like a conversation.

Hope you enjoy this email. ;)

Mahal ko kayo,

I love you All.

Elder Allen