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