Dear Family and Friends...
What?? It's August 5??? Just had a little freak-out moment.
President Cleveland is an inspired mission president. He is changing the way we set goals so we are looking farther into the future and setting quarterly baptismal goals instead of monthly...that way we will take into account the whole process of conversion instead of unrealistically expecting someone to be baptized within a month. President is so bold and he will not settle for what we've been doing in the past. He is unifying every stake in the mission to make sure that every member is doing missionary work the same way. He is increasing the excitement and the expectation of this mission, and I know he is supposed to be here right now. Definitely a basketball coach :)
Sis. Clark and I are giving a training to our zone about how to understand the process of conversion so that the missionaries can understand their role in helping someone be converted...and that includes making effective use of time by working with members, teaching people in members' homes, and focusing on leaving solid commitments with the investigators! We've had lots of cool thoughts about it :)
We have also been going on lots of exchanges with other sisters, and that has been super great because half the mission is so young. This next transfer more than half the missionaries will have been out less than 2 transfers. Crazy!! But we were thinking about it--in a year, all these missionaries will be super experienced, and in 3 years all these missionaries will be home and will continue to be member-missionaries and will invite all their friends to learn about the gospel, and missionary work will just explode even more! There is this huge transition in the mindset of missionary work. I've realized that the members are the real missionaries, and we are just the teachers.
It's been amazing to talk to Sis. Clark after each exchange and realize we focused on the exact same things with each sister! These exchanges are crucial because the sisters get to receive training that we've received from mission leadership council that they would otherwise miss out on, and it is benefiting the work so much.
There has also been an increase in enthusiasm in the Bloomington YSA Branch with more missionaries there. We serve in that branch with the zone leaders, and it's so great to work with other experienced missionaries, in a branch with members who know exactly what their role is in missionary work, in an area where people are open and want to listen. I feel so blessed and I know God prepared me for the last year to come to this area. It is so fun and so exhausting.
I love this branch so much, and we are starting to feel integrated, trusted, and appreciated. Sis. Clark taught gospel principles and I taught Relief Society yesterday, and we are starting to build trust with the members who are SUPER AWESOME. I never thought I'd serve in a YSA and I LOVE IT!!! I love serving with people my own age. Actually I'm older than a lot of them which is weird...but it's ok cuz everyone thinks I look like I'm still 19 :)
It's pretty weird to think that I haven't stepped out of Indiana for over a year. I remember when I first came out I would look up at airplanes and think, "Wow, I'll be here here for a long time." But the whole mission thing is so inspired because we really are in this little bubble inside of everyone else's real world. We couldn't do it any other way. I have felt this mantle on me that I know I won't have when I go home, which is pretty sad to think about, because it is the best feeling in the world to study for people's needs and receive direct revelation for them, then to see them change as a result of the things we invite them to do. I know I'll be able to do that kind of thing with callings and with my family in the future, and I am just so grateful for this 1 1/2 years of preparation for the rest of my life. I LOVE teaching and I LOVE studying for people's needs. And I have learned so much about obedience--obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles. That may seem naive to some people, but in fact it is the only way we can truly access God's power.
As far as our investigators go, the guy we're teaching from India accepted a baptismal date of September 28, and we are giving him a Book of Mormon in Bengali! He is so cool. We've had a lot of fun lessons this week, and I love teaching with Sis. Clark. She is an incredible missionary.
Sorry this email is so long with lots of deep thoughts...but we are loving Bloomington and missionary life. It just keeps moving forward and we see little miracles every day. Yay!
Love, Sister Allen
PICTURES: Just a couple of pictures on exchanges...love these sisters! The first picture is from awhile ago, but that is me and Sis. Clark, my current companion who is AMAZING. She's pretty much the most diligent, obedient missionary ever. We LOVE serving together. Anyway, that's all :)