Monday, Jan. 21, 2013

Dear family and friends,

We've been teaching a woman named Carla. She stays in the nearby rest home, and we help the residents play Bingo every week, so that's where we met her. (One of our branch members couldn't stop laughing when she found out that Carla met us at Bingo). We would visit her every once in awhile, and one day we decided, hey, we should start teaching her about the gospel. It just happened. So last week we weren't sure how much progress we could actually make with her because we were having trouble getting permission for her to leave the rest home. But then this week it suddenly became super easy to get permission, and we told her she could come to church with us! She had been praying to be able to come to church, and now that she finally could, she was really nervous. But we told her not to worry, that the people at church would love her to death.

We went to Carla's room early on Sunday morning to wake her up. It took her about 30 minutes to get out of bed, and another 30 minutes to get ready. A couple in our branch came to pick her up, so we all rode over together to church. We made it to church during the last verse of the sacrament hymn, and we walked in the front doors so everyone saw us and smiled. Even Pres. and Sis. Collins were there! Everyone was so friendly to Carla, and she wanted to stay for Sunday School. We were talking about prayer, and Sis. Crosby asked Carla to share her recent experiences with prayer. Carla said, "I've been prayin' and prayin' to come to church, and I finally got permission. And I've been prayin' and prayin' for my leg pain to go away, and now my legs don't hurt no more!" She loved church and she wants to go back. She felt so welcomed and she feels like the gospel just makes people happy. She was especially impressed with a talk given by a 13-year-old in our branch, one of the smartest kids I've ever met, and she wants to read her Book of Mormon so she can know the scriptures as well as he does. Last night she said, "I feel like God has a plan for me." We are meeting with our branch mission leader this week to work out logistics of her coming to church weekly and possibly being baptized soon! 

We've been doing Bible studies every other week at this same rest home, and the residents love it! Right now we're talking about Christlike attributes, and it's funny when we ask a question sometimes because the residents just give us blank stares. But a lot of them nod their heads and smile and just love when we read from the Bible. A lot of nurses have been sitting in, too, and we've been getting some questions about our church and stuff! Great finding opportunity! 

We got in contact with a guy that I met my first week out on the mission. We've been trying to get in touch with him since then, and we finally did this week! It was crazy that we went to his house at the exact moment he was home, because he's never home! That was an inspired find, and we're meeting him at the library this week to have a lesson!

We've been having a lot of success in Sheridan, which is north of Zionsville. Where 75% of the residents of Zionsville already have a church and are good, successful, happy Christians, 75% of the residents in Sheridan live on welfare and they'll use whatever help they can get. We tracted into a woman a couple weeks ago in a trailer, and she was super friendly but not interested in learning about the gospel. She said she's not a church-goer and she doesn't like organized religion. But she let us into her home and we talked for a bit and shared some things with her, including the Articles of Faith, because everything she was saying fit right in with all that we believe! We left and I didn't think much would come of that. But she said we could stop by any time, she just wasn't interested in having lessons. Well, this week we stopped by and she let us right in! She mostly talked, and again, everything she was saying fit right in with everything we believe. I had the thought, Invite her to church. But then I remembered how she said she didn't like going to church, so I prayed in my head, "Heavenly Father, I'm going to invite her to church, so please soften her heart when I ask her." I told her, "Shanna, I know you said you're not a church-goer, but everything you are saying fits right along with all that we believe, so I just have to ask if you would come to church with us on Sunday." She sat and thought for a minute, then said, "What time does church start?" We told her 9:00, and she said, "Oh, that's not bad." Even the early time wasn't an issue for her! But then she told us she doesn't have a car. The conversation got carried away, then I brought it back and said, "Shanna, if we got you a ride would you come?" She laughed because we weren't giving up. But she said, "I'll have to pray about it. I've thought about a lot of religions, including yours, so I would consider it. Can you wait a week til I decide?" She went to look at the date for next Sunday, and then she said, "Really?! Jan. 27 is my birthday!" Sis. Crosby laughed and said, "You're getting your answer before you even prayed for it!" So Shanna committed to come to church next Sunday! She definitely saw that as a sign. And she's totally comfortable with strangers so she would be happy to accept a ride. And her sister lives a couple trailers down and she loves going out places, so she will probably come too! Sis. Crosby asked, "If you found a church that had all the truth, would you join it?" Shanna said, "Oh sure! In fact, I've thought a lot about baptism. I've never been baptized before, but I've been waiting to find the right church to be baptized into." Ah! Well, whattaya know, that's our purpose! Sis. Crosby said, "Well, that's actually what we do, is prepare people to be baptized!" Shanna told us that the first time she met us she was a little hesitant to let us in, but she saw a light around us, and she heard a voice in her head say, "Let them in." She told us, "Talking to you gives me hope for this world. You are going to do great things in your life." From the first five minutes we met she knew something good was coming her way. In her prayer she said, "Maybe this is the answer I've been looking for. The birthday thing was a little much...but please help me know if this is what I should do." She's just so great!! She is so happy, loving, honest, and real. And she is prepared for the gospel!!

I am happy. I can't believe I've been out almost 6 months. This is all going by way too fast, but I love love love it! Being a missionary is the best ever! 

Love, Sister Allen

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