Elder Kyle M. Allen in Hong Kong

Read all about Elder Allen's adventures as a full time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints in Hong Kong


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Am I Doing Enough?

May 26, 2014

 

What a crazy week! Today is the 3rd May 26th that I’ve been serving the Lord. What a miracle this next month is. Just a great blessing already.  (The extra month that Kyle will serve is a blessing to both him and our family.) I don’t really know how else to describe our Heavenly Father besides miraculous…there were some things that happened this week that just keep blowing my mind.  These last two weeks have been incredible and I’m not really sure how to describe it.  If I do it just won’t do it justice.  Really.  I’ll tell you one thing though…the miracles aren’t anything in the food category.  This week I had some pig neck…I’m not even sure you can call that weird here though.  (Pig’s neck is not only “normal” in China, but I found several recipes including “Slow Roasted Pork Neck” and “Pork Neck Bone Soup” on the “food.com” website that looked very good. Go ahead and click here to see them for yourself!) Yeah, probably not…. let’s get to the real stuff.

 

This is just a little side story for the week. So last week I reported on Ava, a less active that we have been working with recently. Last week she opened up about how she really wanted her daughter Bonnie to come home (she is 19 living with her 29 year old boyfriend) and she knew she had to do the “small and simple things” in order for anything to really happen. So that was two weeks ago. And then out of nowhere this past week she calls us up and says that Bonnie all of the sudden just moved back home! Crazy! Miraculous! I’m not sure what happened or what will happen in the future but I just can’t believe it! She was living with him for probably over a year I would guess and then all of the sudden she just comes home! If that is not an answer to prayers and evidence of God’s power then I have no idea what it could be.  In one week it just changed.  How?

 

Well we had a baptism this week and what a great service it was. Karen is now baptized!! We are both super excited and in these past couple of weeks her testimony has changed quite a lot. She is a person that doesn’t talk a lot and gives like 5 worded answers to questions. However, this week she opened up a lot and I heard her bear testimony and explain gospel principles more than ever before! Something miraculous happened and I’m still not sure what it is. She brought her aunt, her brother, and one friend to her baptism so that was good as well! We let a recent convert do the baptizing and he did awesome for his first try! I was absolutely amazed at the ward’s attendance at the service! I counted over 50 people at the actual baptism itself! That’s a little over half of Sacrament Meeting attendance! They were really super supportive! The young women were excellent. They sang an English song called “I’ll Find You My Friend” and that song should make an person want to do missionary work. It’s a person talking about how in Pre-Earth life they promised their friends and the Savior that they would go down to Earth and find them and bring them into the gospel. That’s super interesting. How many people have I promised in the councils of heaven that I would find them?   Am I doing enough to make sure I find these people? That one song really makes me want to go out and find. There are still friends here now I have not yet found and what a great time it will be when I do.

 

Karen's Baptism

(From left to right) Elder Brown, Elder Allen, Peter Chan, Karen and the bishop of the ward at Karen’s Baptism

 

Up until yesterday I always thought that Tiffany (a member who referred Karen) was the one to contact her (Karen) first. Well yesterday in both Tiffany’s and Karen’s testimony they said how Tiffany had texted her many times over the course of several months with no answer. Then one day Karen decided that she actually wanted to go to church again and she called Tiffany!  Crazy!  I had no idea ! Heavenly Father knew it was her time and He prepared her well!  She is doing well reading in the Book of Mormon too!  She is in Isaiah so…here’s a testing point! (She must be reading the Old Testament as well as the Book of Mormon.) She’ll get through it!  That was probably the best baptismal service I have ever been to! A supportive ward and Brother Chan leading the way making sure everything went smooth.

 

We had another crazy experience.  A lot of less actives come to church this week and they are some key ones that the ward has been really focusing on lately!  One was pretty crazy!  She hasn’t answered our calls for weeks now and she is in our phone right next to the recent convert who helped us baptize Karen (his name is Peter).  Well instead of calling Peter, I accidentally called the less active.  We weren’t intending on calling her since she has said she doesn’t really want to talk to us right now.  I hung up as soon as I realized my mistake because I didn’t want to annoy her and make her mad.  Well she called us right back and then came to church the next day!  Crazy!  I was foolish for thinking we’d annoy her (but to my defense we tried to visit her the day before with no success and called her a couple of times these past two weeks without any signs of life.)  At church she was very happy to be there and even helped out with the baptismal service! I thought it was a super big but yet small miracle that we accidentally called her.  She even told us that she wasn’t planning on coming that day but the phone call changed her mind!  Who knew?!  Heavenly Father.

 

Chau Sung Mou is doing great, but he is just on the mainland on weekends.  He is reading the Book of Mormon everyday!  He said the Book of Mormon is true and that the Church is really, really good.  We are not sure how to help him make the final push, but it will come with time and the power of God.  I mean we have already progressed this far with him after only meeting 4 or 5 times!  He is one of the best investigators I have ever had.  His receptiveness to the Holy Ghost is awesome!  He knows when he is feeling the Holy Ghost.  I just can’t wait until it’s time to go see him again!  Brother Chan helped us go visit him this week and on the way back we ran into another less active whom the ward has really been trying to help!  Well the conversation didn’t go down to well and she was kinda mean to be honest but then all of the sudden Sunday came around and there she was!  I was amazed!

 

We contacted another less-active we were just trying to call and visit and get to know,  but instead he said, “Well… I’m busy this week but why don’t I just come to church instead?” Okay!  It was just a great week!

 

I love you all and have a great week! I can’t explain the things that go on in my life… I really can’t.  But even better is that I know I will wake up the next day and experience the same kinds of things over again!  It really is a great time!  I love you all!  I can’t believe Staci is graduated!  (Kyle’s little sister Staci graduated from Highland High School on May 22.)  That is just so weird to think about!  I love you all and thank you for all your faith and your support.  June here we come right?!  The zone killed a lot of the goals for the month!  Just met them barely which to me is killing it!  We as a zone are just skyrocketing right now!!  I love you all!

 

Elder Allen

Eating Noodles

Eating the spiciest noodles that they have around town with a super short haircut because another Elder who said he knew how to cut hair – didn’t!

View Outside Kyle's Apartment

Another view of the city outside Kyle’s apartment. The sky seems very blue for a place usually described as having lots of air pollution.

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Two Trains

May 21, 2014

 

Two years this week!  That is crazy!  I don’t mean to make this like I’m coming home soon….but it’s just a fact that is there and I might as well say it as a good starting line to get it out of the way! This next month is just going to be so roocking. I still wonder everyday to myself “when is the mission going to ‘peak’?” you know when is it going to reach that point where it just won’t get any better. After this week I have come to the conclusion that such a thing does not exist. There is not one thing that can be considered “the best moment of my mission.” Really there isn’t and this week is just total proof. I mean I got to eat pig heart this week. Things can’t get better after that right? Okay…thats not what I’m talking about. (Elder Allen doesn’t mention how the pig’s heart was prepared but I found recipes online for “Stir fried Heart with Vegetables” and “Pork Heart Stew.”  The recipe for the stew requires “trimming the nerves and sinew” as the first step.  Any way you slice it, that sounds horrible.)

At the temple today we had a cool experience with this guy and his wife from Mainland.  I love the Hong Kong temple.  There is literally no place nor temple in the world like it.  The stories that come in and out of there are crazy!  This man’s boss was converted in 2005 after an Elder in Hong Kong (when the boss was here on business) quickly gave him a pass along card and had no time to say more.  Well in 2006 he took 1000 of his employees to Korea to let whoever wanted to hear the gospel hear it.  I guess about 300 or so employees got baptized without ever knowing what the church was before that.  Now he is the Elders Quorum president.  Right next to him was an Indian man that was just so happy because he traveled so far to come here and yesterday was able to be sealed with his wife an family.  Hong Kong is a place of miracles.  The pigs heart meat is a miracle in itself.
Well this week was just an awesome and just spiritually rewarding and strengthening week for me personally and I’m sure Elder Brown feels the same way.  This past week we visited Chau Sung Mou who is doing really well, just doesn’t want to make the step and switch to other churches.  Well he didn’t accept a baptismal date again this week but he is still doing awesome!  He is reading and praying everyday so his answer will come (if it hasn’t already) and he’ll know what he needs to do.  I have complete trust in Heavenly Father.  There are good things in store for Brother Chau and Heavenly Father really wants to let him know he is there. He told us a story about a dream he had the night before we called.  He was at some church meeting with his mom and the people there were wearing two different colors of shirts.  When the meeting ended, he really felt the strong desire to follow his mom who was definitely with one of the two groups. (Oh ya, his mom is the member by the way). (The story has much more meaning if you know that fact.)  He wanted to follow her into this room but when he got to the door he just couldn’t go in and he was in despair.  So he walks into the room he can and they board a train.  He sees his mom’s side get in a train to Hong Kong and he just had to go to Hong Kong but it was physically impossible for him to do so.  The trains started off the station and for awhile the two trains were side by side but then got distant from each other and he wasn’t going to Hong Kong.  Well he decided to get off the train and walk what he said was “a straight and narrow path” because he just had to get to Hong Kong to be with his mom.  When he started off he still saw his mom’s train and then two boys appeared and told him how to walk this straight and narrow path to get back to be with his mother!  Then a woman appeared who he described as the devil and started yelling saying get back on the train and don’t listen to these two boys.  Then the dream ended.
 The next day he was feeling really sick and so took medicine. nothing. drank water. nothing. so then he decided to pray to ask for relief from this sickness.  AT THE VERY MOMENT in which he ended his prayer is when we called him and asked if we could meet him.  He said (all of this is his words not ours) that as soon as he hung up the phone he could feel nothing.  He was happy and there was no pain.  Just incredible!  I just look back and wonder at the glory of God.  How could he not be real and how could he not know every single one of us.  You can interpret that dream and just every single small detail leads to Heavenly Father directing him to the church.  Amazing.  He had to switch trains (he even said like go from his church to his mom’s church) so that he could reach his goal.  If I didn’t witness it I would say that I’m puffing up the story but I did hear it first hand and it is miraculous.  He just needs to realize it now…
Another story.  I went on exchanges in my old area Tai Po this week.  I had the great pleasure of serving there for one day.  It really is a holy place to me every thing about it is beautiful.  Well I have one recent convert there who went to Europe for 7 months and then when she came back stopped coming to church as well.  Pretty sad story.  Her name is Sandra and she is a very awesome person.  Well the Tai Po missionaries have tried to contact her for months but she just doesn’t answer the phone.  I go there that night and call her and the first miracle happened – she answers the phone!  We talk for a little bit and I asked if she could meet but she doesn’t have any time (I think she just didn’t want to meet to be honest) and I was a little bummed about that.  She was just so awesome in her conversion process.  Well she said she moved to this one estate and we planned to go there at the time she said she would leave for work the next day and just “go finding.”  Well different events led to this and that and we found ourselves on the opposite side of Tai Po at that time… in the pouring rain.  We ran to covering, bought an umbrella and then ran into this Atheist that just wanted to argue for a long time… a good 15 or 20 minutes of precious finding time gone.  Right?  God didn’t think so because right after we got out of that talk with the Atheist we decided to walk in a different direction and go find some covering from the rain and continue finding there.  We didn’t go 50 yards before I saw a woman coming our way and I knew it was Sandra but I just totally denied that it could happen like that.  Well.  It happened just like that.  At the same time she said she would be leaving her house on one side of Tai Po she was walking the streets on the other side of Tai Po.  Are you serious?!  We had a good conversation about how she still prays everyday and occasionally reads the Book of Mormon but just has no desire to go to church.  We committed her to come to church at least once a month (kinda a weak commitment but we said every week it was….well she didn’t accept it…) I’m not sure what will happen with Sandra but if I know nothing else from that day, it is that God lead us to Sandra.  Not where we thought she would be, but where He knew she would be.  It blows my mind thinking about it right now how incredible God is.
Sandra in Tai Po

Elders Allen and Brown meeting up with Sandra in Tai Po.

Then after we talked to her we saw Patrick Au Yeung, another investigaotr I taught over there.  We magically “ran into him” too!  He was the one who passed his baptismal interview then got antied and never got baptized.  It wasn’t a very good conversation though. It was all about how good Budda is to him….
We haven’t even got to Karen yet!  I was on exchanges when we finished teaching her and I heard everything is ready to go!  She came on Sunday and we prepared her for her baptismal interview which will happen this Friday!  Young Women’s is really where she is being converted to the gospel!  She always comes out of there ten times better than we left her!  Really though, she is great!  If she passes her interview then everything should be ready to go to have her baptism this Sunday!  We are super excited!  Ever since she had that experience where she felt that spirit telling her to get baptized, her testimony has grown a lot.  I’m super happy and confident for her future.  She is a member of the Young Women’s now and knows what the Spirit is and how to feel its influence in her life.  It’s hard to feel because it’s different for everyone, but she clasped on to it and let it take her for an adventure.  We’ll see what the rest of the week is like.
Less active work is great.  Ava told us a big story that touched her deeply.  She and her daughter Bonnie have never really gotten along and Bonnie moved out to live with her boyfriend.  Well Ava has been praying for some good change to happen and this week she shared a story about how she thought it was the greatest when on Mother’s Day Bonnie spent the day with her and at the end said, “I love you Mom!” to her.  It’s a great start.  We talked about how Ava needs to be the example of coming back to church and doing the “small and simple things” to let Bonnie see the difference.  If she takes this challenge it might have everlasting results.
Have a great week. The zone is doing awesome!  Everyone seems to be working hard and its fun to be apart of such a great miracle.  Can’t wait to go back out there and see some more! I love you all and can’t wait to see what the end of May brings!  We will reach a lot of our goals this month!  I love you again!
Elder Allen
Breakfast with Elder Brown

Kyle sent this picture of he an Elder brown eating what apears to be breakfast. He didn’t explain it, so I am including it here at the end of the post. At least it doesn’t appear to be pig’s heart!?!

 


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Speechless

May 12, 2014

Well it was so awesome to hear from all of you today!  Really it was!  Sorry if I was a little speechless!  I think Mom was the one who mentioned she was the one doing most of the talking and I totally agree!  But to my defense, that’s a compliment!  Here in China, you have to almost pry it out of people to get them to open up in lessons and start talking.  It’s just a Chinese thing because they are pretty reserved!  So sorry if you felt like you were the only one talking, it’s probably because you were!  It’s just one of those side effects that comes from being a missionary for this long!  More prevalent than ever was my loss of wording for everything non-gospel related.  I don’t know why, I just couldn’t talk normally without at least thinking of gospel wording or a good scripture to go along with what I was about to say.  I think Brother Chan is getting to me… oh well… let him get me.  (If you have read his earlier emails you know that Brother Chan is the former Hong Kong China mission president that Kyle admires as the best missionary ever.)  Before I forget, we go to the temple next week so I won’t be able to write until Wednesday!!

As far as food eating is concerned, nothing new this week.  Well, with the exception of the thing I’ve had least since I have been here… a steak.  When we were shopping we found some super cheap steaks and super expensive A1 sauce.  It was good… except it was fried… but I mean we are missionaries what do you expect?!  I think the A1 sauce made it taste like it was truly a steak! Anyway… I’ve spent too much time talking about steak!

The problem is there is nothing new/exciting that has happened since we talked. They did catch a baby snake in the chapel on Saturday and we saw a HUGE gecko run into our water-filtering system at the church.  We don’t know where it went.  It just shows you that even if you are in China, you are still in the middle of a crazy forest.  All good fun… except I don’t think I’ll drink water at the church again… lets just be safe…

This week was another awesome week!  Four new people at church!  We were super happy about that!  Mostly because the most important people came!  Well… you know what I mean… everyone is important…. but this week was awesome!  We have been meeting with a member’s son, Chau Sung Mou.  He is a great man and his daughter was coming to church with her grandma! However, a couple of weeks ago, he moved back to Hong Kong and was open to hearing the missionary lessons!  It was awesome! He has been praying and reading, but it is just hard to overcome his concerns with the Trinity.  He has prayed to see if he needs to be baptized and if Joseph Smith was a prophet.  He says in his prayers he feels peaceful and the Spirit, but he says every prayer he has ever said is like that.  It’s a little bit of a struggle because he is a little stubborn but then aren’t we all?

It’s amazing what changes the Spirit can bring into our lives. Chau already says he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet, but he says, “It’s just different.” I think we need to just teach him more about the Restoration but then again, we’ve met him 4 times now and all we’ve shared is the Restoration, we’re not sure when to move on.  But what was awesome is that even though his mom had to work yesterday, he still came very early to church with another member who is already his good friend since they speak the same dialect! I didn’t even get much of a chance to speak with him after church, but he said he enjoyed it!  It was a near perfect church experience for him!  We’ll definitely start to see more and more miracles with him as the days go by.  He is a great guy who really does have that real intent Moroni talks about that is needed for conversion!

At church yesterday one of the biggest miracles happened that I’ve seen in Sha Tin.  We contacted this man a couple of weeks ago, not thinking too much of it, just a normal contact.  He is very busy since they just moved to Hong Kong (the day that we contacted them actually.)  Well we haven’t been able to contact him but then Saturday night we called him and he was super willing to come to church!  He said he might be late though and so we were worried since no one can ever find the chapel on his or her own.  We were a little worried that if he did come, he wouldn’t find it and he would be annoyed.  But as we were sitting there in Sacrament Meeting, all of the sudden there he was!  And not only him, but his wife too!  And their daughter!  It was awesome!  It was great since the Mom was able to get a Mother’s Day gift from the ward and they made it to all of church, save it be the 15 minutes they were late!  Amazing!  I still can’t believe they found the chapel on their own!  Without asking for directions either!

Karen is doing well.  She is more steady and sure than before about getting baptized on the 25th of this month.  She is reading and praying everyday and this week she almost spent an entire day with the Young Women, making preparations for those Mother’s Day gifts mentioned earlier.  That’s something that until this past week was missing; her getting worked into a true member of the ward. She came with her brother to church as well!  I guess during Young Women’s class this week, the teacher asked her if she had any experience with feeling the Spirit in prayers and stuff like that.  Well apparently without hesitating or asking any questions she said that she has.  The Spirit has told her that she needed to be baptized on the 25th!  Amazing!  Every time something small like this happens, it makes a big impact on the investigator and me for sure!  This is God’s work and no matter how many times you meet with missionaries, conversion to Christ is and always has been a personal thing that these investigators MUST have before true progress is made towards them making covenants with God.  The only thing that might happen is getting busy and not being able to meet… she has big tests coming up and she is scared.  But it’s all right.  We have the faith, especially Elder Brown, that she will meet with us and keep preparing herself for baptism.

We have another investigator, Abraham, who has somewhat become of an “eternal investigator.”  His problem is since all of his family is Taoist, he feels like he has to be Taoist, even though he openly claims that everything we teach is true (and then shares why he has come to know they are true.)  So instead of going to church and preparing for baptism, he is going to Taoist meetings every week.  In fact, he is the one that has said, “If I were in America, I would have been baptized a long time ago!”  Well, we took the advice you offered and taught him more about faith and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It was truly heaven sent inspiration that message to us.  We shared about the Atonement and faith.  It was just an awesome lesson.  The Spirit was strong and for some reason, Abraham just randomly blurted out “I do know that God looks at me as the eternal being I am capable of becoming.  I will rearrange my schedule and make plans to start coming to church.”  I was stunned.  Of all the planning that could’ve been done for that lesson, neither Elder Brown nor I could have jokingly or seriously thought that’s how the lesson would end!  Amazing!  The Spirit is working hard here in Sha Tin, and it is ever needed and prayed for!

We have been teaching more lessons, now if the rain would just cooperate, we would be able to see more people!  Yesterday it kept 3 people from meeting with us!  And the zone took a little hit on attendance at church but we are still getting higher than last month! They are an awesome bunch!  We added 15 new baptismal dates these past two weeks!  Miracles are truly happening everywhere in Tolo.

I love you! Thanks again for the best family in the world and your constant love and support! Have a great day and week! Happy Mother’s Day to the best Mom in the world-mine!! I love you very much! If you want to watch an awesome video take three minutes and watch http://easter.mormon.org/?cid=HPTU041514694.  Have a great week and may Heavenly Father continue to bless us!

Elder Allen

If you don’t know what the picture is, I opened my drawer one night after taking a shower. When I went into a shower, nothing. When I came out, there was this massive huge cockroach sitting on my journal. The white part is its head. The have been here more recently!

 

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Not a very good picture but – Is this really a cockroach?

Also the infamous Tuesday Pizza. We ate there right after I called-since ya know its not Tuesday, ha-haI Elder Kyle sent a picture this time of Tuesday Pizza and guess what? It is virtually identical to the one I posted last week. Yes! I got it right! 

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A picture of “Tuesday Pizza” taken by Elder Kyle himself.


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Tuesday Pizza on Wednesday

May 5, 2014

What an awesome week this was!  I feel like I am just repeating the same things over and over again, but really the weeks do just get better and better.  Don’t ask me how…I don’t know.  But I love that they are and I’ll take it and ask no questions!  This week although it was super busy, was just amazing!  Right now with the investigators that we do have, we can see half like every week, and then the other half about once every two weeks.  However this week was just so weird.  Everything just fell right into place!  We were able to teach so many lessons!  It was beautiful and something that I haven’t ever really experienced in here. It just boomed up, so now we are working to keep it stable!

When I first got to Sha Tin we were teaching like 1 to 2 member presents, but now it’s… well much more!  It is just so awesome!  The miracles stare me in the face everyday!  The small things of the mission are the good things of the mission.  Let me tell you about them, but before I forget, today was already an awesome day!  Some of the Elders I came with go home in a couple weeks and so we went to this SUPER AWESOME Indian buffet together to see each other once last time.  unElder Siebach, the only one staying with me until June, is in Macau so he didn’t come.  It was amazing.  If that’s how they eat in India every day I might just not come home.  I’ll just go to India… but I don’t think Mom will like that too much. (He is correct.  Mom would not like that too much.)

Speaking of which, I’m calling home next week! (Mother’s Day! Yay!)  No one told me a any specific time to call so I’ll just call at 10 am Monday, Hong Kong time. That’s like 7 pm on Sunday there.  Is that when you eat dinner?  (Kyle called just as we were saying our blessing on the food last Mother’s Day and we ask him to say the prayer in Cantonese.  It was a great experience for all of us.)  I hope so.  Life here in Hong Kong is different so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years!  So 10 am Monday morning my time.  And if there are any questions as to who will be dominate in Ping Pong, instead of getting another suit I got a custom made ping pong paddle. And Corbin thinks he has a chance. Heh.  (Before Kyle left he and Corbin, who was then Jenna’s boyfriend and is now her husband, had a huge ping pong rivalry going on.  Sounds like being gone for two years hasn’t changed very much.)

A couple of awesome things happened during the start of the week. First, while we were finding, this random contact told us about a Pizza place called Tuesday Pizza. (I looked it up and I think the actual name is King Pizza Tuesday.  I’m pretty sure this is the right place because it is in Sha Tin and several of the reviews mention that it is close to IKEA.)  Apparently it is pretty famous in Sha Tin.  I’ve seen it before but never realized it was any good.  Well he said we for sure had to try it and on Tuesdays it’s cheaper. Well, we were so excited about it we invited the other Elders in the apartment to come with us.  We got there and guess what?  Tuesday Pizza is closed on Tuesdays!!!  What in the world is that all about?!!!

Here are some pictures I found online of the restaurant called “King Pizza Tuesday.” It looks pretty nice and the food looks good.   In addition to pizza they serve pasta and rice dishes.  Boy am I going to be embarrassed if this is the wrong place.

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So instead of eating pizza, we decided to go for the IKEA Swedish meatballs instead.  They were good… in the moment… but right now nothing sounds good.  I was seriously about to die this morning.  I think the Indian food blocked my breathing tubes.  But as revenge, Sister Hawks ordered some pizza for Mission Leadership Council.  Those meetings just keep getting more awesome and more awesome.  Except this time… President Hawks joked about me.  He said that instead of getting new baptismal dates, I will get new marriage dates soon.  That was the awkward part of the meeting.  (Don’t worry Kyle, I’m sure President Hawks was referring to marriage dates for some of your friends who have been back from their missions a little bit longer.)

I got my package!! (I sent Elder Kyle a package for Easter that was similar to an Easter basket.)  That was the easiest Easter hunt I think anyone has ever done!  But with the best results!  I hit the ultimate jackpot!  I think I scored bigger than the last 3 or 4 Easters combined!  If this continues I will certainly do whatever it takes to stay out for more Easters.  The Easter Bunny must be a member of the church or something!  He is giving lots of love this year!  One of the Elders in the apartment got a movie called Ephraim’s Rescue, a movie that the mission says we can watch.  That was a weird experience.  Watching a 90 minute movie.  I don’t know if you’ve seen it but you should.  It was the best movie ever I think.  But then again… anyway…

This week was just spectacular.  Elder Brown and I are motivated by change.  It’s happening all the time, we just have to be on the good side of it, and with obedience it really is working.  This past week we visited a less-active sister.  We needed to find another person to come with us, otherwise we couldn’t go visit her and we really knew that we needed to help her testimony.  We mentioned it when the Elder’s Quorum president called and he said no one was available to go with us that night.  We called her to explain the situation and try to reschedule, but that was going to be hard since this was the first time she was willing to even schedule.  Well when we called she said something miraculous.  She said, “Well then I’ll just invite my neighbor over and you can teach him!”  I guess it’s just that easy, right?  I wish.  But then again, we didn’t do anything!  We were just trying to be obedient!  We had a good visit with both her and her neighbor and although the neighbor doesn’t have too much interest, the less active member came to church on Sunday!  It was super awesome to see!  The blessings for being obedient are often small and unnoticeable, but it’s experiences like these that make me wonder, “How could I ever not be obedient if things like this happen?”  What a great blessing it was.  It set the tone for a great week.

Mission Leadership Council was a blast.  Every time I leave those meetings I feel the need to just go out and declare the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.  The thing I learned most had to be the pattern of studying scriptures.  Often times I’m caught up, only looking at the awesome lines and taking that as that.  One-liners.  But I’ve noticed that the great leaders take sections of scripture, break them down, and apply them to their own situations.  It really is a concept from the beginning of time, but at the meeting it was just made so clear to me that if we don’t do it like that, we are missing out on a big spiritual opportunity to grow our faith through reading scriptures.

But even better than the meeting itself, a member called us right after and gave us a part member family referral!  Chan Sung Mou’s mom is an active member and when her home teachers went over this week to visit her, they found out that a member of her family just moved in with her.  He is a very devote Christian already, baptized 15 years ago, but you could just get the feeling that he knows there is something more.  There will just need to be some miracles ordered up in order to break the walls which the “craftiness of men” have put up.  He is definitely going to be baptized.  The circumstances are just too perfect.  He is super willing to read scriptures and pray for specific things, super available and already friends with some super good members.  We have seen him twice already and he is great!!

The first time we went over there was like a test to see if we really wanted to learn. He brought out bitter melon soup to drink.  I’m not sure if you have ever tried bitter melon, but it is exactly what the name says – very bitter and just hard to swallow.  I think the word is… gross.  Well I got through the whole soup, swallowed the huge chunks whole (there was no way I was biting into one of those) and then she brought out like 4 seafood dishes.  I just haven’t gotten used to seafood yet…oh well.  We were very grateful for it!  We weren’t even expecting them to feed us but he is just that nice!  A really great guy!  This week he was in mainland, but he said next week he will probably come to church!  That’s awesome!

Speaking of church it is going awesome!  Brother Ko, a recently returned to church member, brought his daughter to church!  And at church, he received a calling to serve in the Sunday School Presidency.  You should have seen his smile and how giddy he was when they read his name for sustaining!  He was about the happiest man I have ever seen!  If only every member could be that happy when we get a calling.  It was unlike everything I’ve ever seen before.  We will go visit him and his wife this week so we are excited for his progression.  He really wants his family to be there with him.

Church was also great because Karen came, stayed for all 3 hours and then met with us after!  It surprised both of us!  It was a true miracle!  We talked to her more about the Atonement and getting baptized.  She said she has prayed about it and the Spirit has told her that she needs to be baptized on the 25th of this month!  It was so awesome!  She is doing great, now just needs to make the final step to make the full commitment to come unto Christ and partake of the fruit.  It is an awesome story, Karen.  These past two weeks have been great!  We’ve seen a lot of improvement!

The zone is doing awesome!  Everyone was fired up for zone training meeting and there was a particular spirit that was there in the meeting.  Everyone seemed very excited to get instructed, not the least of which was me!  It was a great weekend after that!  Right after the meeting the Mandarin Elders were leaving and went up to contact someone.  Well it turns out that that man wants to be baptized now and wants to bring his wife to church with him as well!  Zone Training Meeting days are miracle days!  The reports for the week were great.  We increased on everything!  At this rate we are going to have almost as good of a month as March was, but that is going to be hard to beat.  However this week we almost doubled our member presents!  In one week!  We usually get in the 40’s and this week we got 80!  It came from nowhere!  But don’t miracles also come out of nowhere?

The Park-N-Shop lady, Sister Kong is doing great!  She is reading the Book of Mormon and surprised us when she showed up to English class on Saturday!  She is a great lady and definitely has a bright future in the gospel, she too has some walls that are not easily broken, but she is willing to learn!

I love you all! The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, just as he is. He is the Great Physician and can heal the wounds that nobody else can. Have a great week! I love you all and you are always in my prayers.

 

Elder Allen


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Every Missionary Here is My Friend

April 27, 2014

Well, we are on to May….I guess that means HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!  Look at that. This time he didn’t even remind me!  And I still remembered! (Last year Kyle forgot to wish his dad a Happy Birthday. I think everyone has forgotten that but him. Mark’s birthday is May 2.) I’m getting pretty good at this!

Well Happy May to everyone as well. May the 4th be with you this week. Ha-ha… I just had to throw that out there for Sarah and Chase before I forget about it… which I’m sure I will… but anyways. (Star Wars fans like Chase celebrate “May the Fourth” because of its similarity to “May the force” be with you. But I’m sure you already knew that.)

Yesterday I think I went to the best Sunday meeting of my entire life. It was just so awesome. Elder Wong and his wife finally got back from Salt Lake City and they were able to speak in church.  He even taught a combined Priesthood meeting.  Best third hour of church ever.  He started by saying he didn’t think he was going to be home before he got his assignment to serve somewhere. However, President Packer told him that he had a new assignment this week and that was to be at home.  It was so awesome!  The change is already just so crazy!  He was only here for the weekend and then he flew back this morning to go get his calling to serve! Crazy!  He was getting super into the Priesthood lesson.  You knew he was getting into it because all of the sudden he would just start quoting scriptures in English and just saying super powerful sentences in English. Then he would catch himself and start talking Chinese again until a few minutes later the same pattern would start again.  He taught on President Eyring’s talk from November entitled, “To My Grandchildren.”  It was just super awesome.  For like half the time I felt like he was just staring right at me no joke. More than half the time, maybe.  I left that meeting feeling like I just left the Conference Center.  Honestly though.  I have to show you the notes I took on it.  I didn’t know he’d be there so I didn’t have any paper except my planner.  It was filled!!!!  Well…anyway…I hope your Sunday was just as good as mine!  (In this talk President Eyring addresses those who seek advice from him on how to have a happy family life – including his grandchildren.  He says it all basically boils down to keeping the commandments and putting yourself where you can feel “the joy of forgiveness through the Lord’s Atonement.”)

This week was just a pretty normal one – just pretty busy with language pass-offs and getting ready for Mission Leadership Council. We caught a break when we found out that our Stake President’s meeting was pushed back to next week.  It’s all good!  The missionaries here are the greatest ever!  They are a good people who are humble and ready to work.  I could call every one of them my friends and they are.  I’ve been doing language pass-offs every week for 9 straight months now since the program started.  It’s getting pretty… let’s just say I’ve heard the missionary lessons so many times… it’s ridiculous.  But I love it and I will continue to do it every week for years and years!  Just seeing the progress that these people make every week all by themselves with the power of the Spirit and their willingness to accept criticism and learn is just awesome!  If I had to do these back when I was a young missionary I would’ve had a panic attack.

It was another just awesome week in Sha Tin.  The days are beautiful and at the end of the night I just feel good about the things we have accomplished.  Of course there is always a few tiny things that could have gone better but it’s just that I can’t remember them! They are swallowed up in all the joys of the week.  Really though.  Some days, when not a lot happens, I just think back on the day and I realize that I’m wrong and that miracles happened and I am just being too stubborn to recognize them.  In my journal at the end of every day I write down the biggest miracle of the day and it helps me a lot!  I’ve done this for probably a year straight now and looking back at days is just so awesome to see the bare arm of the Lord in His work.  I can’t believe all the things that happened, even this week!  If I did not take witness of them myself, I would not believe.  But I have witnessed, and I am testifier of the great blessings.  The blessings that go along with missionary work are real and I am a firm believer in miracles. 

Here is a miracle this week. Although it might not seem like a miracle, it totally is.  Karen finally has a concern about the gospel.  This whole time we were teaching great lessons but we could tell something was missing.  It might be that “the load” was missing like Elder Bednar taught us.  She was just super willing to do everything, like she reads and prays everyday, but there was still just no real conversion.  It really just wasn’t moving and it was frustrating.  However, our lesson with her this week was great!  We talked about baptism and the Doctrine of Christ and she just openly came out that she wasn’t ready for baptism because she is still drinking tea!  We had no idea because she was telling us that she had stopped and even to her church friends she was saying the same thing, but this time she was just super open and now we know what she needs.  Some other things also came out in the lesson that were vital to know, but the Word of Wisdom was the biggest one.  It was super critical and the Spirit was strong!  I didn’t want the lesson to end, but it’s good that it did!  She was going to bring her mother and brother to church this week, but then her Dad had to go to the hospital Saturday night so none of them could come.  I hope he is all right.  It sounded kinda serious.

Another miracle happened in finding this week.  In companionship planning we decided to go to this place that I have never been.  I have spent many hours finding in Sha Tin, but I’ve never been here and it’s pretty obvious why. The place was just so crowded and very noisy.  Well, during planning I was just confident we had to go there.  So we did!  And it was the right choice!  Did we find anyone “golden”?  No!  But yes at the same time.  Right when we got there (and I mean immediately – it must have been less than 30 seconds) we ran into one of Elder Brown’s recent converts from his last area that moved to college and went less active ever since!  Amazing!  She was surprised but happy to see us!  I think this will turn into something too!  We talked for a good 10 minutes or so and she knows she has to come back to church, it just got jumbled with all her other priorities.  It was just so awesome!  No one had any contact with her but the Spirit is always in contact with her.  It’s so awesome.  I am tempted to ask, “Why don’t things like that happen every day?”  But then I don’t think those things.  I like the way things are.

Solomon Ko was brought back into full activity yesterday!  Two and a half months ago he was a “lost sheep” with no one in Hong Kong knowing who he was and now he is a solid member.  He walks to church a lot and yesterday was in a normal t-shirt just dripping with sweat when he arrived.  We were a little disappointed that he didn’t come in a shirt and tie but when he came out of the bathroom there he was!  Shirt and tie!  He just didn’t want to get it dirty!  He is awesome.  His knowledge of the gospel still isn’t great, but his faith makes up for any of that.  His wife gets back from mainland this week so we hopefully can start meeting with her again.

Last week during shopping time we contacted a Park-N-Shop lady.  Well Tuesday at District Meeting she called us and said she was waiting for us at the train station in Tai Wai to go and tour the church!  We were all the way in Ma On Shan still but we ran over to the MTR and then taught her and her son.  She is super awesome and at the end wanted to pay us 50$ for every time we taught her and her son!  She was strongly for paying us mone – it was unlike any other person I’ve met on my mission.  We finally got her to put the money away and told her just a reschedule would do.  It’s so “lucky” that we met her even.  Every week her only day off is Monday, our only day at Park-N-Shop.  But since last week was still Easter Holiday she had Tuesday off instead!  We are meeting her actually right after we finish emailing!  Things are going great!

Less-active work continues to go great as well.  Ava Lau has put in a better effort to get Sundays off at work and this time she did! She loves that Mandarin Sister missionaries are now in Tolo Harbour and especially in Tai Po because her less-active daughter who speaks Mandarin better than Cantonese lives up there!  When we met with Ava this week her prayer was super sincere about finding a way for her daughter to come back to church!  And then the next day we started teaching her neighbor, Jack!  His family has potential!  They are all super nice and love missionaries! We were very welcome in their home which is a great start!

Have a great week everyone! Below are pictures of Jack and the cockroaches that you find in your showers everyday! This one was the biggest this week! (i wonder if there is a weekly contest or something.)  I love you all! Have a great week!

With Love,

Elder Allen

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Elders Allen and Brown with their new investigator, Jack.

 

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This week’s biggest cockroach.

 

 


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April 21, 2014

It’s Easter in Hong Kong and like America, everyone wants to go to church on Easter!  The only problem was that a ton of people thought that the Sha Tin Ward was meeting in mainland this week!  Or in their own beds for some reason!  Ha-ha!  It was so weird! But no joke it was like a little strange.  The fewest people came to church that I’ve ever seen!  In Hong Kong they get Friday and Monday off as public holidays and most people get Thursday off as well so they all went to mainland!  Church itself was good, although we didn’t sing any Easter songs!  It was crazy!  But still good!  Those who went still had a good time!  We still had some investigators come and less actives so the work of the Lord will not stop for any holiday!

So as you can see, I’m still in Sha Tin with Elder Brown for my final transfer!  I’m really super excited about it!  That’s what I wanted and so I can do nothing but be thankful!  Half the zone got switched up and we added another companionship making 28 people in the zone!  IT’S HUGE!  But not as big as Kowloon Zone was before they split it up.  Anyway, a cool thing happened when Elder Cederlof moved in to live with us and serve in the other Sha Tin companionship.  His Grandparents and Grandma and Papa are apparently good friends, so that’s exciting!  I’m excited for this new transfer to get on rolling!  Oh yes, and just a side note, Happy Birthday to Grandma (I think?)!!  I read her letter and if I’m reading the signals right, she gave me a hint that her birthday is this week. I think it’s on the 26th but I can never remember (Surprisingly enough, her birthday is on the 26th!)  All I can remember is their gate code number ha-ha.  But Happy Birthday!  Besides mom and dad she blows everyone else out of the water in the writing emails category!!  She is an awesome grandmother!

A crazy story happened this week.  While finding on the big river that is in Sha Tin we see a bunch of HUGE people in red shirts running along. They pass by us and it’s the Tongan national rugby team!  They apparently all knew who missionaries were and stuff and were super friendly to us!  One of them stopped us and said he was a member!  Apparently they played in the World Cup’s championship game on Saturday against Japan.  I still don’t know which team won but I hope it was Tonga!  They beat the United States in the semis.  Well anyway they kept on training and we kept on finding, but pretty soon there were red shirts everywhere! There must have been 40 players on the team.  We passed by a group of them.  They were the smallest so it must have been the wingers or something.  Anyway, before we pass them they stop us!  And they ask for a picture with us!  Here we are and the world’s best rugby team asks to take a picture with us!  It was sweet!  I guess overall three on the team are members but the whole team is friendly to missionaries!  It was like the best picture I’ve ever taken in my life.  The two standing up on the left hand side are the ones that are members.  After we took these pictures they asked for like personal ones!  Ha-ha!  I’m not sure why…anyways…did they win? (I looked it up and Japan beat Tonga 35-10 on April 19th. It was the Junior World Rugby Trophy Championships. Here is that picture he is so excited about.)

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Elder Allen, Elder Brown and the Tongan Junior National Rugby Team.

Last week we rode our bikes to a giant Kun Yan statue, the largest in Asia in fact.  We thought it would be fun to rent a family bike (one with like a seat in the back for someone).  Bad idea.  It was so hard the whole way!  I never knew that when riding bikes in Tai Po, both ways are uphill.  We (there were 8 of us total including Elder Howell my good friend from high school) took turns pedaling but it was a workout after 4 minutes.  It was a fun activity.  We got through all the hills and stuff only to find out it was closed!  Oh well… I can check it off the list of things I’ve done and never want to do again.

So this week was a great week.  Nothing too big to report on besides that our teaching pool is growing and growing every week, which was sorely needed before!  We have really been trying to contact everyone!  Just this morning we contacted the Park-N-Shop lady (Park-N-Shop is like the Wal-Mart of Hong Kong. It’s where missionaries go for groceries every week) and it was actually great! (Park-N-Shop has more than 200 stores and 9,000 employees in Hong Kong alone.  They call themselves “lifestyle” food stores and stock a large variety of imported goods as well as fresh fruit and vegetables and many nonfood items.  Unlike Wal-Mart however, they try to appeal more to the higher income customers.)  She said she and her son are going to meet with us this week!  We have recently hit a great streak with new investigators, a great blessing from Heavenly Father.

Karen, our baptismal date for next week is doing great. We went over to a member’s house for dinner and a lesson where she brought her little brother as well!  The best thing is that both of them came to church this past week but there is a problem.  Karen just isn’t ready for baptism. We’re not sure what is keeping her from fully committing to it, but there definitely is something there.  She will definitely get baptized, we just are not sure when!  She is reading the Book of Mormon, but her friend, Elder Brown and I are trying to help her understand it now.  I think it’s just that we thought she was going to progress faster than she actually is so we want to drag her along.  Everything is all right though.

Kira and her mom are doing great and not so great at the same time.  They have been running into some problems with friends recently and immediately turn to the Book of Mormon!  She called us a couple of times this week explaining their situation and then asked where they should read in the Book of Mormon to find out how to make it better.  It really is awesome!  We were going to pick them up on Sunday morning to go to church and that’s when the not so good comes in.  Mona, the investigating mother, was all ready to go!  We were excited!  Kira was still asleep though.  (In Hong Kong houses are different… their front rooms are also their bedrooms.  So when we entered the house Kira was fast asleep right there.)  It was all right because we came super early (we were expecting to teach them before church.)  But as the time went on everyone’s efforts to try and get Kira to wake up just dwindled and dwindled.  We ended up being at their house for a good 45 minutes just trying to wake Kira up.  Her mother was moving her around and hitting her and stuff and we, well there isn’t much we could do just provide encouragement, but nothing.  We had to leave to make it on time.  Mona said she would try and wake her up and they would come together, but they never did.  That was pretty disappointing, but we will try something new this week or something.

The work is going great here.  I love you all!  Everyday is a struggle to wake up (it’s not a problem though) and a struggle to quit working.  It’s an awesome time to be here and do what I’m doing.  Have a great week everyone.  May Heavenly Father continue to bless us.  He is blessing me more than I can imagine!

Until next week,

Elder Allen

 


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Such Big Words

April 13, 2014

What a great weekend Conference was!  It was just so awesome!  I just don’t know why.  Perhaps its because it is an English meeting… but most likely it’s just because its Conference!  Just talk after talk was awesome!  The leaders of the Church sure seemed to love the cultural celebration that was put on!  What an awesome event that must have been!  All the way around the world, sitting next to this little TV, the three of us from Gilbert that were watching it together had some great Gilbert pride!  But anyway, watching conference was the best!  It’s pretty funny here, any Chinese member that can speak English goes to the English session (just because I hear the translations are confusing.)  Cantonese has its spoken language and then a written language, and they translate conference into written Chinese, so it’s hard to understand, even for the native speakers.  I though, felt I could hardly understand the English. Such big words.

The whole stake went to Tai Po on Saturday to watch it and there I sat, close by a less active who I helped come back, Janice Leung.  That was so cool!  I just turn around and there she was!  Listening to the English!  It was awesome to see her!  And then on Sunday, everyone watched it in their own ward buildings (it’s weird…they don’t have BYU TV here… I know… weird) and there I sat by someone who taught me in the MTC ages ago.  It was so cool!  It’s hard to explain, but it was like great memories of my life just coming back to me in one weekend’s time! It was awesome! 

These past few weeks I have been eating some new foods.  A family in the ward chenged (the Chinese word for taking someone out to eat and paying for their meal) us out to dinner with an investigator and one of the things was like every weird piece of a pig that you could imagine.  As for me, I choose some of his intestine and his ear… poor pig.  But ever since I got to Hong Kong I have tried to follow the example of Bruce Lee.  We went to his museum last week and in this interview (you have to look it up its hilarious) he tells everyone to be unpredictable and shape-able, like water.  There is a whole section of the museum based around his line “be water my friend.”  Ha-ha, the guy is hilarious.  His museum was not bad though!  So try being water, and do something you’ve never done before. 

Transfers are coming this week.  It’s weird but on Thursday I start my final transfer.  We find out tomorrow where we are going to be. I sure hope I’m still here in Sha Tin. I still feel like there is more work to do here and more people to help.  I love waking up everyday and just going to work!  But I also like to get up and go and do what Heavenly Father would want me to do, and if that is somewhere else well… it’s just another life lesson!  There always needs to be a load in the truck to keep on moving! 

This week was just excellent.  We had some quality time for finding which was awesome.  We met a couple of great people who have some interest in the gospel.  One of those people is a new investigator this week, Yeung Kwong Man, and we already met him twice.  Apparently his son committed suicide a couple of years ago by jumping out of their house 30+ stories high.  He has met missionaries before, but this is the first time he has met with us again because his family is super against the church.  Funny story was that we wrote down the wrong number or something so we thought we would never see him again.  We went to the place where we were supposed to meet at the designated time, but no one was there.  Kinda disappointed, we went to another lesson (well we are never disappointed when going to a lesson but you know what I mean.)

Well during he lesson, a number calls us 5 times.  After the lesson, we call him back and it was Yeung Kwong Man!  He thought the meeting was an hour later and he was waiting for us!  We rushed over to him and taught him!  I think this is awesome!  An awesome start indeed.  Whoever calls us on their own accord and is still nice to us after a mistake that is our fault well… that’s great! 

Finding.  I love finding and I’ve never been so excited for it.  We got home around 9 after one long day of finding with minimal results. After we get in, I feel the smallest impression to go out for another 15 minutes.  We were contemplating whether or not to, because we had a lot of people to call in that 30 minutes time, but if there is one thing I have learned throughout my mission, it is to follow the smallest of promptings.  So after I thought of that in my head, the decision was made!  We went out finding.  Nothing spectacular happened, although we did get a phone number, but looking back that 15 minutes was just full of excitement and adrenaline and just awesome!  I can’t imagine what would have happened if we didn’t go out.  Actually I can.  Nothing.  And that’s that!  We still called all the people; we just did a little bit more and who knows how the Lord will bless us?  I don’t.  But I know he will.

The ward is just more excited for missionary work.  For the past 7 weeks we have gotten at least one referral from the ward!  It is so awesome!  A lot of these aren’t the most “golden” of people, in fact most of them haven’t had interest (so far) but it is so awesome! And the members can feel it too!  How awesome participating in the Work of Salvation is!  I love it!  I am truly learning what it is like to “expect miracles.”  Sha Tin is a miracle.  They are all great people who love the Lord.

Karen is doing great.  I have learned a great lesson on “if you expect miracles you will get them” this week from her.  She was super busy these past two weeks with Ching Ming Festival and tests.  However, we totally expected a miracle this week with her and got not only one, but two!  First of all, she miraculously had time to meet with us this week and then the next day she came to General Conference!  The later one was especially shocking because she has told us many times how busy her Saturday’s are, but she was still able to find time and come to Conference.  Besides her friend who referred her, she is meeting a lot of the Young Women, which is crucial!  She has been reading the Book of Mormon, but we need to help her understand the Holy Ghost more. That is our challenge with her if she will get baptized this month.  A member invited us to dinner with her on Thursday at their home, so hopefully we can help her recognize the Spirit.  Even after the lesson, she thought the Holy Ghost’s only role was to tell us if we shouldn’t be doing something.  It is sometimes frustrating when you think you are explaining something, but its just so new to them that they have a hard time grasping it.  (As an instructor at a community college I understand just what he is saying here.) We’ll keep working with her.  She is a great person.

Kira is finding true joy in helping her mother Mona learn more about God.  It is awesome!  They read together probably five times this week and prayed even more!  It was pretty funny though, Kira will only read certain scriptures with her Mom because she thinks that only certain scriptures apply to her.  So I think they read Alma 32-34 five times this week.  I can’t complain though!  Maybe I should start doing that!  They might be the most powerful 3 chapters in all of scripture (next to every single set of 3 chapters) . When meeting with Kira, she said that Mona already knows most of the commandments and Kira was only worried about how active she’ll be after baptism.  Ha-ha!  That’s a funny problem considering we’ve only taught her twice, but I like it!  We’ll work on the “enduring to the end” as time comes along.  She is just so busy!  She works 12 hours a day 6 days a week and then Kira isn’t the nicest to her. Their relationship is…interesting.  But both of them will become strong in the faith

Have a great week! I love you all and pray for you all! The Lord is truly in his work!

Elder Allen

 

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Tolo Harbour

 

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Out for dinner after the priesthood session.