Mission Scripture

Mission Scripture

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kristina's Baptism

 Elder Allred, Elder Ross, Kristina, Antonio, Elder Raine, Elder Orellana
 Kristina, Bishop Kelly, Antonio
Elder Allred, Rafael, Kristina, Elder Raine

What an incredible week! I just love missionary work so much, and I have seen such amazing miracles as I've done it in Harlem. As you all know, Kristina's baptism was on Saturday. I've been a little bit stressed out over the past couple of weeks leading up to this. Planning for a baptism is not a very easy thing to do. There are so many assignments to make for the service, paperwork to fill out, scheduling the interview, worrying about whether the baptismal candidate will actually pass the interview, just trying to make sure the whole experience is perfect for your investigator, etc. There's a lot to think about!  But it all came together really well, and all of the stress was worth it. Our ward helped a lot. Our ward mission leader was amazing! His name is Brandon, and he's a really cool guy. Originally from Utah. Bishop Kelly was actually the one who baptized Kristina, which was awesome.  He's a really good guy too. I've learned a lot from watching him lead this ward over the past few months. Then one of the ward missionaries, Darren, confirmed her on Sunday. It was so great to see the ward members so involved in the whole thing. A lot of miracles were seen this weekend. I'll just highlight the one that stuck out the most to me. After Kristina was baptized, there was a part in the program for her and Antonio to bear their testimonies. Oh I forgot to say that another guy got baptized on Saturday as well. Antonio has been taking the lessons with the other two Elders in the ward for awhile, and they were both ready at the same time. It was really cool that both of them got baptized! Anyway, Kristina got up in front of about thirty people and bore a beautiful testimony. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity that she has had to meet with us missionaries. It was amazing. I was trying to hide it, but I couldn't stop the tears from coming. When I met Kristina, she  was too nervous to even say a prayer in front of me and Elder Monson. And there she was bearing her testimony in front of a big group of people. That moment really hit me. I could see how much the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed this individual. As she has applied the things that we've taught her, she truly has been strengthened and healed through the powers of the Atonement. This is really what it's all about. This is what we are trying to help people do as missionaries. And as I watched Kristina on Saturday night, I felt so blessed that the Lord trusted me to help her come closer to Christ. And then on Sunday after she was confirmed it was crazy to watch her entire countenance just change. I could almost physically see her being "sanctified (purified) by the reception of the Holy Ghost" (3 Nephi 27:20). She came up out of the water on Saturday night, cleansed from her sins. But it wasn't until she received the gift of the Holy Ghost that she was completely sanctified. It was incredible for me to witness that with my own eyes. It was such a testimony builder to me of so many different things. The fact that we have the true Priesthood authority of God on the earth today. The fact that I have been found worthy as one to hold that Priesthood authority and act as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. The fact that without receiving the saving ordinances, we cannot return to live with our Father in Heaven again. That we need to be baptized by water and the spirit, and then go on to live worthily and receive our further ordinances and make further covenants in the temple. It's just so much to think about and so much to be grateful for, and it hit me so hard this weekend. I'm so excited for Kristina as she begins her eternal journey as a member of the true church of Jesus Christ. We've also been teaching her boyfriend, Rafael, and I think he is pretty close to being ready to be baptized as well. 

I just love it here so much. I love Harlem. I love the people I interact with. I love the ward members. We did a big service project on Saturday morning with the ward cleaning up a park. It was just so much fun working with the group of saints that stay strong in Harlem. Not really the easiest thing to do. I had Bishop Kelly's little boy following me around and helping me pull out the big roots of the trees we were removing. Working side by side with these people made me realize how much I really do love them. There are so many people here that I could turn to for help, and I'm grateful for their support. There's only two more weeks until the next transfer, and I fear I might be leaving. I've been here for awhile now, and Elder Raine is just about done with his training. I just really don't want to go. Whatever the Lord had in His plans for me is for the best though. No matter what happens, I will just have to hold my head up high and look forward to the future. I know this email is already super long, but I just wanted to finish with one last highlight of the week. The Book of Mormon challenge! I can't believe we're already a month into it. This week's chapters were great. The ones that really stuck out to me were in 2 Nephi 31-33. Chapter 31 got me so excited as Nephi focused all of his writing on the doctrine of Christ, which as you all know is what I've been searching for as I've studied. The thing that really impressed me is that this is the very last thing Nephi chose to write about before he died. After all of his amazing stories and teachings leading up to this point, the doctrine of Christ was the most important thing he felt he could talk about to close his remarks and end his teaching in the book that he knew would reach the hands of millions of people to bring them back into celestial glory and to gain their salvation. Chapter 33 Verse 15 was especially impressive to me, "... for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey." Nephi was the perfect example of one who understood and lived the doctrine of Christ. He not only taught it to his people, but he actually lived this doctrine himself. He was obedient from the beginning right to the very end, and he endured the way he was supposed to. What an amazing example! I loved it. I hope that those of  you who have taken the 120 day challenge are still excited about like I am. Anyway, I'll end with that this week. I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week! 
~Elder Allred 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Temple trip

Hey everyone! 
Things are great here! The work has been awesome! I think this week's email might be the shortest one yet... we just got out of a temple session. I'm really happy about that, because I haven't  been in about four months. I can't imagine being in a mission that has no temple. We are so blessed here that we have one right here in Manhattan. It's seriously so easy to get to, and we get to go all the time. There is no better place to learn and feel the Spirit than in the temple. Now we have to head back up to Harlem and get an early start on our work tonight. We've had a hard time all week getting a baptismal interview scheduled for Kristina, and it finally worked out for today at four. Normally pday ends at six, but we're going to sacrifice a couple of hours today for the interview. As long as she is good to go for Saturday, I'm good! I hope you are all enjoying the 120 day challenge. We finally made it through the Isaiah chapters!! Haha. I still didn't understand a whole lot about what was going on, but I got a little more this time through than I ever have before. I love the chapters right after the Isaiah quoting finishes. Chapters 25 and 26 are the ones I just read yesterday and this morning. Nephi's testimony of the Savior is absolutely incredible. I can't wait to meet Nephi one day and talk to him face to face! He's an inspiring man. Anyway, that's about all the time I have this week. Everything is going well. Time is just flying too fast, and we're hitting some fall weather back here. Love you all. Have a great week! 
Elder Allred 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Better than Christmas!

Hey friends and family! 
First I have to thank everyone. I probably got more mail this week than anyone else in the mission! Three packages and eight postcards! I had to stop and think what special occasion it was. Then I realized it was just a normal week, and you all felt like sending me something at that same time. It was better than Christmas! Haha. Believe it or not, I think God worked through each of you to send me mail this week. I really needed that extra little bit of uplifting encouragement. It's just been kind of stressful. We're getting ready for Kristina's baptism coming up, and things are a little rough. She woke up on Sunday not feeling well and had to miss church. Then she was supposed to have her baptismal interview on Monday and had to cancel it. The adversary is definitely working on Kristina as she gets closer to her baptism. It reminds me of the first vision, when Joseph Smith began to pray and was overcome by the power of Satan. As he began to offer up his desire to know the truth, he was bound by darkness to the point that he couldn't speak. In Joseph's account we read that he exerts all of his powers to call upon God to deliver him from the enemy which held him bound. And a pillar of light rested upon his head, casting out the darkness and overpowering Satan's influence. I am reminded of two things from this experience with Kristina and from Joseph Smith's story. One is that although the adversary's power is real and scary, the Lord's power is so much greater. The other thing I am reminded of is that the work I am doing is true and real. It really is God's work. If it wasn't then the adversary wouldn't be working so hard to try and stop it. I think Kristina will be okay. We visited her yesterday and ended up giving her a Priesthood blessing. I know that the reason Kristina is being faced with challenges is because she is about to make the most important decision of her life. Besides everything that's going on with Kristina and the worry that has caused, I have been stressed out over a few things as well. Nothing major. Just a bit of a rough week. Anyway, the point is that I can feel your love and support, and it helps more than you could even imagine. I may have to deal with depression issues down the road after I eat through the massive candy drawer you've all provided me with  and probably gain about ten pounds haha. But I think I'll be able to handle it. I'm gonna keep the email a bit short today so I can reply to some of you individually, but just know how much your love means to me. I really can feel it every day, even on the other side of the country, and it makes a big difference. I am so blessed to have a family and friends like all of you behind me. Not everyone has a very good support system at home, and I know that the Lord has placed each one of you in my life to help me at this time as I do His work. You've been an amazing strength to me over the past thirteen months. Thank you all for everything you do for me. I miss you so much, and I love you more than you can even imagine! 
~Elder Allred

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Second Cycle Training Elder Raine

 The roommates in Harlem
 Harlem Zone 
A mural that reminded Elder Allred of his mommy:) 

Hello friends and family! 
Well, today was transfers. I can't believe it's already been six weeks since the last transfer meeting. Elder Raine and I will be companions in Harlem for another cycle. I was so relieved when I got the news that I would be staying. There was a small chance that I would leave, but I was pretty sure that since Elder Raine is only halfway done with his training I would stay and finish. I just don't think that I've completed the Lord's purpose for me in Harlem quite yet... so it will be good. My district isn't changing too much. I get to keep four out of the same five missionaries. We're only losing Elder Poulsen, because he is returning home to Utah. We will also be gaining two new district members. The sisters here have been covering both the Harlem family ward and the Harlem YSA. This transfer is bringing a lot of sisters into the mission, so President Morgan opened up the YSA ward area, and two new sisters will be working there. It will be great to have more missionaries to get to know and to serve with. I just love this calling so much. I've gotten so close with this district in the past six weeks, and I'm excited for more memories to be made in the coming weeks. Our investigator, Kristina, is doing really well! Yesterday we taught her about the law of tithing and fasting, and she said that it made total sense. She's ready to start paying her tithing after she gets baptized. That was the last lesson we needed to teach her before her baptism. So, now we're just working on scheduling an interview with her for this weekend, and as long as the interview goes well she will be baptized on September 13th! I'm so grateful that I have had the opportunity to teach her and Rafael since I've been here. They have both learned and progressed so much in the past few months. You might get sick of hearing me talk about the doctrine of Christ, but this doctrine has really changed them both as they've been able to apply the Atonement in their lives through it. This brings me to the last thing I want to talk about in my email this week. The 120 day challenge! It's so exciting to me that so many of you have joined me in this challenge. Already I've learned so much from my study of the Book of Mormon. I've begun to highlight anything that pertains to the doctrine of Christ that I find as I read, and there is seriously something on every single page. As I read the stories in the beginning that I've heard a million times before, I am gaining new insights that have never come to my mind. One that I would like to point out has to do with Laman and Lemuel. Of course, everyone knows these two as the wicked brothers of Nephi. Always complaining and murmuring. Constantly turning away from the righteous decisions of their younger brother. The thing that has impressed me is that on a number of occasions they soften their hearts and follow their brother  for a moment. Several times it says that they "humble themselves before the Lord" sometimes more than once in a chapter. In the first 18 chapters that I've read so far, it even says a couple of times that they repented. Every single time they humble themselves or repent they are forgiven, and they receive immediate blessings. What I really like about this is that it shows you how the doctrine of Christ works for everyone. Even for Laman and Lemuel, so after countless "humbling themselves" and repenting, even after seeing an angel with their own eyes, turn around and harden their hearts and go back to their wicked ways.  It doesn't matter how many times they mess up or how bad they mess up. They are always welcome to turn back to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, and He gives it to them every single time. The same is true for you and me. We all make mistakes in this life that leave us feeling a little guilty and shameful of ourselves. We even sometimes make mistakes that are pretty big ones. Ones that we've made in the past. Ones that we promised ourselves we would never make again. And when we slip up, it feels like there's no hope for us. It feels like we will never be quite good enough. That's what is so wonderful about the doctrine of Christ and repentance. Just like it was in the case of Laman and Lemuel, we can always turn back to the Lord and receive forgiveness for our shortcomings. None of us are unqualified for the infinite love of our Father. No matter what we do. I've learned this truth from experience in my own life. I've changed a lot over the past twelve months. I still make mistakes every day, but I know that I can always talk to God before I lay down and go to sleep and ask for forgiveness. It's such a beautiful thing to me that we have a Father in Heaven who offers us this kind of love. This truth is only being solidified for me as I take in everything that the Book of Mormon has to offer about the doctrine of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I want you all to know that there is nothing you could ever do that would disqualify you from repenting and feeling the power of the Atonement of Christ uplift you, strengthen you, and change you. I hope you can all feel how powerful this has been in my life and how strongly I feel about it. I love you all more than you could even imagine! 
~Elder Allred