Skyping with Elder Allred was SO great!!! He is doing well. There have been only three nights since he got to Newtown, CT, that he didn't have a dinner appointment, so the members are taking very good care of him. He loves transfer meetings where he gets to see the other people he has met in the MTC and out in the mission field. He appreciates all of the letters and packages he receives from all of us back home and has a reputation for being the most spoiled missionary in the mission. He has a baptism this Saturday and another one the following week, so the work is going really well. They don't get to teach as often as they'd like to because they are in a very affluent area, and people aren't often searching for the missing piece that the Gospel will bring to their lives. He says that being a trainer is very challenging but he prays a lot for the knowledge and strength to teach his junior companion the things he will need to know as he goes on to continue his missionary work. Elder Allred was excited to see Riken walking and couldn't stop smiling through the whole call. The hour went by WAY TOO FAST, and Mom and Zack only cried a.little.bit as we heard Elder Allred's testimony at the end of our time with him. We are counting down to Mothers' Day when we get to see him again!!! :) Merry Christmas to all!
Sunday, December 22, 2013
You guys probably thought I forgot about you today! Haha we had our transfer meeting this morning in Ossining, NY, and we just barely got back. Transfers were great, and I got to see Elder Kroff (who is training a new missionary again) and Elder Steiner. I have made some amazing friends already on my mission. Relationships that will have a lasting impact on my me for sure. We don't have too much time before we have to go to our dinner appointment, so today might be a little short. Not too much has changed this transfer. WE did lose our Italian roommate to the Bronx. I got to spend three awesome cycles with Elder Fragiacomo from Trieste Italy. I have some incredible memories with him. I'll miss him for sure! Now my District Leader, Elder Plouzek, is training a new missionary from Hurricane, UT! Change is always good. One thing I've learned about a mission is that change happens super fast. Before you know it, six weeks (That's how long each cycle is) has passed and the people you've just barely gotten to know are gone. That change I think plays a big part in why missions fly by so fast. The Lord doesn't allow you to get too comfortable with anything, and you have to be constantly adapting to new situations. It seriously doesn't feel like I have already been here for four months. Crazy! Well, with what little time I have left I'll explain how Skype will work. On Christmas Day I will be skyping with Dad and Tracy at 4pm my time, 2pm your time. On Christmas Eve I will be skyping with Mom and Kenjee. I don't know exactly what time yet. Our schedule isn't concrete for that day, but I will be trying to get on between 2-6pm my time, 12-4pm your time. Sorry you guys might be waiting in anticipation for four hours before I finally log on. Haha. But when I finally call it will be a nice Christmas surprise! I'll get to skype no longer than an hour on Christmas Eve and an hour on Christmas Day. My skype name is eldertylerallred. I'll try to add you guys on skype before it happens. Hopefully it all works out! I"m sure it will!! I'm super excited to see everyone, so try to make it to either Mom's on Christmas Eve or Dad's on Christmas Day. I love you all so much. I wish I had more time tonight, but just know that I'm doing really well. I'm loving it and the work is going really well right now. I want you all to know that my testimony is growing each day. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He and the Lord know you each personally and love you. Don't forget it! Thank you for all the letters and packages. I'm feeling super spoiled! Haha. You're in my prayers. I love you!!!!
Thursday, December 12, 2013
You have probably all been wondering if I was even going to email today! Usually I'm done with emailing by about twelve o clock your time, so I am definitely a little bit later than normal. It's for a good reason though. Our district got the idea to do a Secret Santa gift giving activity. We meet together as a district every Monday, so this coming district meeting will be a little mini Christmas party. Instead of emailing first thing this morning, we went out to find our gifts for that. Should be lots of fun! My Secret Santa recipient is one of the sisters, and I found her this huge pillow that's shaped like a frog for ten bucks. I was pretty proud of that find. I thought of Kenna as soon as I saw it. lol. I know she would love that! There was all sorts of Duck Dynasty stuff everywhere that I wanted to buy for the gift, but I don't think everyone is quite as redneck as us and enjoys shows about rich country boys trying to win a camper from a doughnut shop. Haha! That show better still be running when I get home! Anyway, that's about the most adventure you get as a missionary. We had a super fun day though. This week has been fantastic as well. On Friday, we went to Ossining, NY and had a mission Christmas devotional. Altogether, the mission includes about 300 people. So, with everyone in the cultural hall at the chapel, it was super packed! It was such an awesome meeting. Tons of people put a lot of effort into preparing a good program for it. There were several musical numbers and some talks by President and Sister Morgan. There are some very talented people in this mission. Some of the instruments and singing voices gave me chills. Sometimes there is no better way to feel the Spirit than through powerful music. Not very many people were selected to participate in the musical numbers. Included in the most talented musician were Elder Kroff, Elder Fragiacomo ( my Italian roommate) and Elder Plouzek (my District Leader). That tells you how much I have been surrounded by music so far on my mission. It has been awesome! Another cool thing is that we have been asked to participate in a couple of different choirs. We'll be singing with the ward choir on the 22nd for the Christmas program in sacrament, and this coming Sunday, the 15th, we will be singing with a young mens' choir for a Stake Christmas concert. I'm so excited! My only downfall with all of this involvement with singing is that I don't have the slightest clue how to read music. Haha. I'm hoping someone will be able to teach me at some point, and by the time I get home, maybe that will be a new skill of mine! Other than that, we don't have too much doing on. Transfers are next week, so there's a chance I could be getting moved. I kinda doubt that will happen though, since Elder Savage will still have seven weeks of training left. It's pretty rare that trainers and trainees get separated after just one cycle. Plus, if I got pulled out of Newtown right before Christmas, I would probably have to cry! We're planning on going over to the Arend's and another member's house. So, hopefully, I will be staying! Anyway, I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season. I know it's a little bit difficult this year, but it can also be one of the most special Christmases we've had yet. Just remember to really focus on Christ this year. It has been so cool for me to do that as a missionary. I'm not in a position to be doing as much of the normal holiday traditions as I normally would, but and that has provided me with the opportunity to think a lot more about the Savior, and what all of this really means. I want you all to know that I know He is real. Jesus Christ has provided us with everything good that we have. He has done more for us than we could possibly comprehend, and as I reflect on what His birth and His life mean for me, it becomes so much more real and powerful to be celebrating Christmas. I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week! I'll have details next Wednesday on how they whole Skype thing is going to work. I"m not exactly sure what time I'll be on yet or what's gonna happen with it. All I know is that I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope that I will get to see all of you! I love you, I love you, I love you!
P.S. I just got a pretty cool email from Elder Spencer McPherson in Florida. He just recently go called to be an Assistant to the President in his mission. The cool part is that his companion in the new calling will be Elder Taran Wright! Pretty cool! Love you!!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Well, for starters, Thanksgiving weekend was awesome! We went over to the Knibbe's house for dinner on Thursday. They are such cool people. Sister Knibbe is all over the place and loves to talk, so the energy was really fun! They have one son living with them who is a junior. He starts at right guard and defensive tackle on Ridgefield High School's varsity team. So, we had plenty to talk about since those were basically the exact same positions I played in high school. We also watched some of his highlights from this season, so that was fun. Having the opportunity to play high school football is something that I think really shaped me into who I am today. It taught me many things about myself and many lessons were learned through that. One of them is to work hard, which is a very useful attribute for anyone that does anything. It's especially helpful in missionary work, because if you don't have the drive to keep pushing forward and working hard, you won't last for two years' worth of sixteen hours days. Another thing that it taught me is something that is very helpful for me with where I am right now. That is to rely on other people and let others help you. That aspect of humility can help so much in so many ways. As you all know, I am training Elder Savage right now. That comes with a lot of stresses, especially for someone as new as I am. I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility on my shoulders 24/7. But, knowing what I know about turning to others for help has really saved me and gotten me through some of the hardest points in the last three weeks. The organization of the mission provides us with leaders to turn to for help. I have a district leader that I live with named Elder Plouzek, and two zone leaders in the Spanish program, Elder Killpack and Pawlowski. I have had so many good talks with all of them. They have done so much to make me feel encouraged and loved. It's been really nice to have some more experienced missionaries to turn to for advice. I think the biggest thing that they've helped me with is to make me feel like I am doing a good job. The last thing I want to do is let anybody down or disappoint people, so with this responsibility, I have worried a lot about if I am doing that. So many times, these guys have told me what a good missionary I am and how much good I am doing. That means the world to me! It gives me confidence that I need to succeed in this call that the Lord had entrusted me with. In Alma 37:6-7, we learn that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass". Their small amount of effort in putting an arm around my shoulder and offering a simple phrase of encouragement goes a long way to help. So, I'm beyond grateful for that! Things are going well with our investigators. D. will be getting baptized on the 14th of December. We might change the date to the 15th, since it will be the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy that happened here. The 14th will probably be a somber day and might not be the best day to have his baptism. Anyway, the point is that he is ready! We've taught him everything that we need to and we feel that he is ready to do this! What a blessing! Plus K. is still looking forward to January 4th being her date of baptism. She's been on fire lately! She even posts on facebook for all of her friends to see the good decisions she is making. So cool! My birthday was amazing. We went over to the Arend's and they worked so hard to make it special for me. Sister Arend cooked enchiladas and german chocolate cake, just like at home! She is seriously an angel. She has a son on a mission in Kansas, so she knows what it is like for the parents and families of us missionaries. She does an amazing job of taking care of us. If you're not already friends with her on facebook you should be, because she posts picture of me all the time. I really hope you will all get the chance to meet that family one day. They truly are one of the greatest blessings that I have seen on my mission. Well, that's about it for me. Thank you everyone for all that you do. I still get more packages than any other missionary that I know! Haha, Elder Allred's family is getting a reputation around here for the coolest one, so thank you! I know I'm a little slow at responding sometimes, but don't think that I don't think about you all each and every day. I appreciate you all and love you all more than words can express. Happy holidays everyone. I can't imagine the miracles that we will all see this year as the Christmas season is upon us. I love you and have a wonderful week!