The cost of discipleship is that you have to allow your will to be swallowed up in the Father's will. You have to give yourself up and let go of your desires, even if those desires are righteous. Sometimes we want good things, but the Father has better things for us. My desire was to finish my mission in Danbury. I love Danbury. The people here are amazing, and I will forever be grateful for the time that I've had to serve here. If the first few sentences of this email haven't given it away yet, I'll tell you what's going on. I'm being transferred again. We got the call on Saturday night. This one was a tough one for me to swallow. Still is. When we got the news I was pretty upset. I was angry and hurt. This wasn't the way it was supposed to end. I was supposed to stay in Danbury, watch Brother Dan and his son be baptized, and come home rejoicing. I didn't understand why I couldn't just have that. Was that not a righteous desire? Would I not be able to serve the Lord well in this area for six more weeks? I didn't sleep very much on Saturday night. In fact, I crawled into bed still angry, hoping I would wake up in the morning feeling better about the whole thing. I woke up Sunday morning, still upset. It has taken me a few days to overcome my emotions. I've started to think about the Savior. Not comparing myself to Him, but did He not have a similar (much more intense) experience? When He was in Gethsemane, knowing that He would soon be crucified, and asked His Father if there was any way He could not go through with it. "Nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done". For a moment, He wanted to pull the plug on the whole thing, but He so quickly understood that His Father's will was much more important than His. He had agreed to be the Savior and fulfill the Plan of Salvation. He was on His Father's errand and wasn't there for Himself. I was being very hard-hearted and selfish when I was presented with this change. I've been reminded in the last few days that I'm not on a mission for myself. I didn't agree to serve a mission so that the whole thing could go my way. I did this to serve my Father, and I ought to be willing to do what He asks. I'm still sad about leaving Danbury. It breaks my heart. But at least now I have calmed down enough to realize what I need to do. There is a scripture in the Old Testament that has become a motto for me in the past few months as the homestretch of my mission has come with a lot of unexpected turns. Isaiah 55:8-9. His ways are always higher than our ways. The Lord had a purpose for me being in Danbury for six weeks. He has a purpose for me in the six weeks I will spend in my next area. I don't know when I will see or understand that purpose, but all I can do is put my trust in Him and move forward with faith. Now that you see a glimpse of how I feel about this transfer, I'll tell you where I'm going to finish my mission. I'll be in a family ward on the upper east of Manhattan, back in my last zone. My area boundaries are partially the same as what I was covering when I was in the YSA ward. Then I was covering the whole east side of the island. Now I'll just cover about 40 blocks North and South. I'm sure I will love the area and the people, and I'm quite sure it will be difficult for me to leave there in six weeks. One more thing I wanted to share with you guys this week. I finished reading the Book of Mormon this morning for the 5th time. Just as true as ever. I have a personal goal to read it again before I come home in six weeks. Last time I did a timed Book of Mormon read was when some of you joined me for the 120 day challenge, which I thought was amazing. Now I have to do it in just 42 days. You don't need to read along with me for this one. It will be a lot of reading, and I have the luxury of having an hour each morning to study the scriptures. I would encourage you to continue to read the Book of Mormon at your own pace each day. I promise you will be much happier if you do that. I'm excited to continue to allow this amazing book to change me for the better. Now we're on the last lap everybody. I'll see you in six weeks! This will be the shortest six weeks of our lives!! See you soon. Love you!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
God is real. There is absolutely no way that I can deny that truth. He places us exactly where He needs us to be, exactly when He needs us to be here. I know He called me to serve in Danbury for a purpose. I had an awesome experience yesterday, which was another confirmation to me that I need to be here. I went on a split with Elder Casper and worked in the Newtown area for the day. It was awesome, because I was able to see some of the people that I used to teach when I was assigned to the Newtown ward. One particular visit was very powerful. It was close to the end of our night, around 7:30. We had just gotten out of a dinner appointment in Newtown. The family that we were visiting lived close to a member that I visited once a week for the whole six months that I was here. She is the sweetest lady. For a long time she wasn't active in the church. Elder Kroff and his trainer, Elder Taylor, knocked on her door on a snowy day in the beginning months of 2013. Just a few months before I got there. They helped her become active in the church again, and by the time I got there she was faithfully attending every Sunday. When I left Newtown she was doing really well. Still going to church every week and attending the Manhattan temple as often as she could. Last summer she got hammered with medical problems. She's been in and out of the hospital for about a year now. Her doctors are working hard. They've tried a few different things, but nothing is helping. Now she's pretty homebound. Unable to go to church and not in condition to accept visits from people. Hoping that she would remember me well enough, we stopped by. Her husband answered the door with a sad look on his face. "She's not doing well". He informed us that she had had a rough day and just couldn't accept a visit. We stood and talked on the porch for about 15-20 minutes. I caught up with him, and he told me about the struggles that have befallen them in the last year. He had me write down my email address and told me he would tell her that I was in the area. We walked away. I was disappointed. I really wanted to see her. I wasn't sure what I could do to help, but it felt like there was something that I hadn't done. Just before I stepped into the car, her husband came back out the front door and stopped me. "She wants to see you". I was relieved. As I walked through the door, he warned me that it would be an emotional encounter. She came almost running down the stairs. Before I could get both shoes off, she wrapped her arms around me and cried on my shoulder. It was so good to see her. We sat in her living room, just like I had so many times before. I started to feel like I was doing what I needed to do to help her. Before we left, I said a prayer. Words can't describe that prayer and the presence of the Spirit that filled the room. There's something really cool that happens every time I give a Priesthood blessing. I've given several on my mission. What never ceases to amaze me is that every time I give a blessing, that God is speaking through me. I feel that every time as I apply the power of the Priesthood. It's a pretty awesome feeling. What was really interesting what that I had that same kind of a feeling as I was saying that prayer last night. I wasn't acting under the authority of the Priesthood. Just a normal prayer. But God spoke through me last night. I have no doubt about that. I think that she needed to feel God's love through me, and I hope that she did. I think that her husband also needed to feel the Spirit. He's not a member of the church, and from what I've gathered isn't really religious at all. I know he felt something. We all did. As he walked us out the door he thanked us. He said that one visit was the highlight of the day, and he was just so grateful. This experience is a great example of one of the most important purposes of my mission. President Morgan has said something in several meetings where I've heard him speak. "God had you come on a mission so that He could manifest Himself unto you." He has done that several times in the last 22 months. He did it again last night. He manifested himself to me in a way that was undeniable. I'm so grateful for days like this one. The mission is so hard. I would be lying if I told you that every day is bliss. Days like today make every bit of it worth it. I am so full of gratitude that, even with all of my imperfections, God allows me to be an instrument in bringing about great things in His work. I was a tool in His hands last night. There are so many other things that happened this week, but to keep emphasis on this experience I will leave it at that. Next week is transfers. I'll find out on Saturday if I'm staying in Danbury to the end or if I have one more place to serve. I hope that I stay. I love it here so much. But I will go and do what the Lord requires. I love this work. I love the Lord. I love all of you.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Awesome week! I love this work so much. I love this area. I was pretty bummed out when I left Manhattan. Only being there for six weeks was pretty sad for me. It's cool being here now though and seeing that the Lord definitely has purposes for me up here in Danbury. I've emailed a few times about our investigator, Brother Dan. He's so awesome. We went over to teach him on Sunday night. Each time we go over, his thirteen year old son (also named Dan) goes into the bedroom and doesn't join the lesson. This time we made an effort to invite him to stay and join us. So glad that we did! About ten minutes into the lesson the house phone rang. Little Dan answered the phone and stepped into the other room. When he came back I was overcome with a feeling that we were supposed to change the direction we were going with the lesson. I stopped talking about what we were talking \about before and just started to testify about the Savior's love. I told them that I didn't know everything that they are going through but that Christ does. I also promised that if they would accept and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ that they would be happy and they would be able to overcome all of the adversity that they are faced with. Then Elder Richan started talking about baptism. It was perfect. Just the right time and situation. We told Little Dan that his dad was preparing to be baptized on the 11th of July and invited him to prepare himself for that date as well. He was very hesitant at first. He told us that he had been baptized in another Christian church before and that he didn't know why he would need to be baptized again. We explained briefly about Joseph Smith's experience and the restoration of the priesthood power. That made sense to him, and he must have felt good about it, because after that he accepted the baptismal date! It was amazing. The Spirit that was felt in that house was undeniable. It was really cool as Elder Richan and I were talking in the car afterward. We just realized how much we were led by the Spirit in that lesson. We are not the teachers. The Spirit is, and I could definitely feel the Spirit teaching Brother Dan and Little Dan and myself. I love these guys so much. This is why I came on a mission. To bring the gospel to Dan and his son and a number of other people. On that note, I saw Elder Coburn and Elder Steiner at the temple on Saturday. They told me that Murphy was getting baptized that night! Murphy is an investigator that Elder Coburn and I were teaching while I was down in Manhattan. I was so happy to hear that she was finally getting baptized. Wish I could have been there. We had a super busy weekend, and I'm exhausted. The reason we were at the temple was because we were asked to help with an activity for the youth in our stake. We had to wake up at 4 in the morning to make it to the 8 am start. It was a lot of fun. It was called "Alma Academy" and it was to help the youth prepare to go on missions. Elder Richan and I were in a trio companionship with one of the priests in our ward. We got some talks from President Morgan, the AP's and one of the counselors in the stake presidency. Then we had a companionship study and went outside on the streets of Manhattan to contact people. It was so cool to see these youth and their enthusiasm! I wish I would have been that excited about missionary work when I was their age. After the activity we went up to Ossining for the adult session of stake conference, which was awesome. President and Sister Morgan were there and both spoke. The stake president, President Checketts (awesome guy! I've served in his stake for seven months of my mission now) talked about how much he will miss the Morgans when they leave in two weeks. We were also lucky to have Elder Gordon Smith of the seventy at the meeting. During his talk he talked about the Morgans as well. He said there are a lot of great mission presidents, but there are none as great as the Morgans. I was really impressed by that. Elder Smith has got to know so many mission presidents, and he genuinely thinks ours is the best one! I love President Morgan and Sister Morgan so much. I don't think they will ever fully realize how much of an impact they have had on my life. I sat in the congregation as he was talking and I got pretty emotional looking up at the Morgans on the stand. It's sad to see their time in the mission coming to an end. We got home at about 10:30 on Saturday and had to wake up and drive to Ossining again for the Sunday session. Then we had to drive to Ossining again on Monday for car inspections from the vehicle coordinator in the mission office. It was just a lot of traveling and lack of sleep! Good weekend though. I can't believe we're already down to two weeks in this cycle. It's pretty sad actually. Knowing that my time in Danbury is coming to a close seemingly faster than it started. I was thinking about it a lot yesterday. My whole mission it has taken about two cycles before I"m really comfortable with a new area and a ward, and at that point I feel like I can really start being effective. By the time I'm at the two cycle point in Danbury I'll be on a plane to Utah.It's all good though. I"m just doing everything I can to do the Lord's will with the short time that I do have to serve here. Anyway, everything is awesome. I'm happy and healthy as ever. Have a great week everyone. Love you!!!
Sunday, June 7, 2015
I sure am going to miss this! The mission is more and more amazing all the time. Last week I talked about an investigator that we have named Dan. Dan is awesome. We had another lesson with him on Friday, and we brought a member with us. We hadn't finished teaching him the Plan of Salvation yet, so we went into the lesson with the intent of finishing that. We only got through one or two principles before the lesson just took a turn of direction. We started talking about baptism. Elder Rican and his previous companion invited him to be baptized the first time they visited about a month ago. He told them he would do it but didn't commit to a date. So we were going to hold off a little longer before we committed him again. Something in that lesson just told us that we needed to go for it again. That something was an undeniable impression from the Holy Ghost. It was amazing. We invited at just the right time, and he accepted a date for July 11th! Just awesome. What has been really cool for me to learn on my mission is that I am not the teacher. The Spirit is. The plan that Elder Rican and I had going into that lesson was a good plan. It wasn't the right plan. Because we are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and did our part. Because we prepared and listened to the promptings, we were shown the right way. Now Dan is preparing to enter the straight and narrow path to eternal life. We had another lesson with him yesterday, and his friend Greg was at his house. So we finished teaching him the Plan of Salvation, and Greg sat in on the lesson. He liked it so much that he said he wants to be there when we go over again on Saturday! I've had a few people tell me that some of the greatest mission miracles come right at the end. It's in the last few months that you see some of the most amazing things. I'm seeing that already, and it's just amazing. It's also sad to realize that I only have a few short weeks left to be fully engaged in this great work. It will be sad to take off the name tag, and be released as a full time missionary. A couple days ago I sat in a meeting which was closed by the testimonies of a few missionaries who are going home this transfer. They have three weeks left. One of those missionaries talked about how he had been emailing a returned missionary. The RM that he was emailing just happened to be Elder Romo, one of my previous companions. Elder Romo told this Elder something that he shared during his testimony, and it really hit me. He told him to bear testimony of Jesus Christ as often as he could. He told him that one of the most difficult things about being off of your mission is that you don't have nearly as many opportunities to bear your testimony. So take advantage of it now! I loved that. It was a real eye opener to me, and it gave me a lot of motivation to continue to work hard to the end. After the next two months are up, I will never again be a full time missionary. Okay, I probably will when I serve a senior couple mission with my wife one day, but it won't be the same. This is just such a special time in my life. I cherish every moment of every day. I wake up filled with gratitude. I'm so happy every morning when I get the chance to put my name tag on my chest. "Elder Allred: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". What a privilege. To literally wear the Savior's name on my chest every single day. It's a great feeling. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's exciting. It's scary. It's joyous. It's incredibly sad. A whole mix of emotion I never though I could feel at the same time. Nine weeks will go too fast, but I know that that time will be filled with amazing opportunities to draw closer to God and to help others do the same. Like I said in the beginning of this email. I'm going to miss this... a lot!!! I also miss all of you... A LOT!!! It will be sad to leave this behind, but it will be amazing to be back home again. One more thing before I finish this email.I was super sad to hear the news that Elder L Tom Perry passed away. I met him when I was in high school. He came to a stake conference in Nephi. I remember shaking his hand and being overcome with a spiritual confirmation of his diving calling. He was a good man. There is no doubt in my mind that he was called by revelation to serve as an apostle of the Lord. His amazing influence will be missed. I also have full confidence that whoever replaces him in the quorum of the twelve apostles will play an equally important role as a servant of the Lord. I love you all more than words can express. Thank you for being who you are and for the amazing role each of you have played in my life. Love you!!!