Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas! -- December 30, 2013

Hooray for Christmas!  Hooray for missions! :)  This week was pretty darn good!
The few days leading up to Christmas, we were still making rounds to less-actives and active members to share a treat and bring the spirit of Christmas with that video I shared last week.  It was great!  Christmastime is such a wonderful time, because hearts are softened, and ears open. 
Christmas day, Elder Phillips and I took our packages to the McClellan's duplex in the early morning so we could have a "Christmas at home" with them.  It was so special!  Sister McClellan had gotten stockings and stuffed them for us, and they also bought us a huge 5' x 7' rug for our very bare apartment.  We have been craving any shred of carpet (we have all wood/linoleum), so this was a treasure!  We spent the morning opening gifts together and having some good laughs.  

Our District came over later, and we sang songs and had a little devotional.  THEN of course, I got to call home, WHICH WAS SO SPECIAL!  I love my family so much!  Not going to lie, it DID feel a little strange all of the sudden being able to talk with you! I was so nervous!  Weird, right? It was a very happy Christmas!
Due to Christmas, and some people being out of town, we didn't get to meet with as many people and investigators that we would have liked, BUT those we did meet with were SO. GOOD.  Holy Hannah.... C_____, the widow I mentioned last week, requested a book written by Thomas S. Monson, so we ordered one for her and delivered it.  She let us in again, and we had a BEAUTIFUL two-hour talk about the Restoration and the peace that comes from living the Gospel.  She is SO open, and SO humble.  I've never felt the Spirit so strongly that I did sharing with her the First Vision in Joseph Smith's own words.  She was AMAZED and so touched by Joseph's simple question and grand response.  She was crying.  We almost started crying. The Spirit was THERE.  It was so invigorating!  We all knelt down at the end and said a wonderful prayer.  It was such a treasured experience!  She is G-O-L-D-E-N.
W_____, the young man who stopped us on the train tracks one night, seemed to be slipping away from us.  We committed him to come to church and were even going to make him breakfast so he could make it, but he bailed, so we decided to just drop in last night.  He felt SO bad.  We asked if he'd like to go to the church to be taught, and he accepted, and we had another just POWERFUL lesson with him!  It was so exhilarating!  Asking inspired questions and getting him to open up to us was key, and then the Spirit came as we addressed his concerns, used the scriptures, and an object lesson.  He closed with such a sincere, honest prayer.  It was truly real intent.  He prayed, without suggestion from us, to know if what we were teaching was the truth.  He told Heavenly Father that he wanted to believe, and felt that it was right, and that he desired a confirmation.  It was great!  The Spirit does ALL the heavy lifting.  All we do as missionaries is create an environment in which the spirit can be felt, testify of doctrinal truths, and then the Spirit takes over.  Seeing the Spirit work in those we have grown to love here has been such a tender experience. We are excited for what is in store for Connie and William, and plan to get William on date for the 25th of January tonight.
Transfers are next week!  This has been a roller coaster of a transfer, and I know that good will come in the next, whether I stay in Angola, get transferred away, or get my visa.  It's all in His hands, and I can have the faith and confidence to know that it will all work out the way it should.
I love this Gospel.  I KNOW that it is true.  It has brought me such sweet peace and rest from my personal concerns and setbacks.  It has blessed the lives of the less-actives and investigators whom we teach.  You can SEE for yourself the goodness of our Savior as we choose to live what we know to be true.
Lots of love,

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Christmas! (Almost...) -- December 23, 2013

This week has been PACKED!  So that's good!  We worked very closely with the McClellans (our senior couple missionaries here in Angola) and were able to get A LOT done this week!  Sister McClellan made some hecka good goodies to take around to less-actives in the ward, and we found a beautiful Christmas video on that really brings the Spirit in when shown.  We had some wonderful and heart-warming visits, and...... remember how last week at church we had 37 people?  THIS WEEK WE HAD 72!!!  That has NEVER happened here in Angola, so that was a miracle from Heavenly Father!  It was SO nice being able to see the tender mercies of Heavenly Father combined with our efforts pay off.  It was so cool!  We took breakfast to a part-member/less-active family Sunday morning to get them out of bed and ready for church, and they came!  And stayed the whole block! #miracle
We had a really, really great lesson with our newest investigator, C____.  She's in her 60's, and her husband just died of a combination of brain/lung cancer.  SHE. IS. GOLDEN.  Holy cow... we've been stopping by for a few months, but can never come in since she lives alone now, but now that the Senior couple is here, she wanted us all to come and share with her.  It was so neat!  The spirit was SO strong.  There were tears and testimonies, and I truly believe that if we stick with her, she will come into the waters of baptism, and have the goal to be sealed eternally to her husband.  She is so open, humble, and willing, and agreed to read from the Book of Mormon, pray to know, and to meet again.  We are SO thankful for the blessing of being able to teach her!
Funny story - Elder Phillips and I were filling up the font for a member baptism one morning this week, and as we were unlocking the door to the church, out of NOWHERE a HUUUUGGGGE squirrel jumped down right in front of us and just stood there for a few seconds guarding the door I guess before it scurried away.  Scared me stiff!  Haha but it made us both laugh really really hard.
We are SO excited for Christmas! Woop woop!  It was so special visiting tons of less-actives, and also members and investigators with this special video: You can't help but to feel a special spirit as you watch the glory of the Savior unfold, and listen to the First Presidency talk about our beloved Christ.  I love this season!  I love my Savior!  I love being able to share my testimony and feelings about the Atonement with others, in effort to help them feel the love of Christ, and the love of our Father in Heaven.  I KNOW that they both love us dearly.  I know that it is through our Master Jesus Christ that we can overcome all and become perfected.  I know that there is true enabling power in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 
Philippians 4:13 reads: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  I KNOW this to be true. I testify that as we wholly rely on our Savior to overcome ourselves, we will come to know that ALL things are possible.  I hope we can remember our Savior and His gifts of grace, love, and eternal life this Christmas.
I love you SO much! I wish each of you a very merry Christmas.
Love, Elder Jason Allred

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!--December 16, 2013

Hello family!  It has been another BUSY week here in Angola.
It is BITTER COLD here now!  Still humid, but only in the low teens most of the time, so it really cuts through you!  We got about 10" of snow this past week, so it has been an adventure driving through it!  Speaking of driving... I FINALLY got to drive this week!  It was therapeutic... I've missed driving SO MUCH!  The six-month drought is over though, because we drove all over the place this week.
We had a GREAT chapel tour with one of our investigators named W___.  He's 19 and very open to us.  We finally got him in the church building, and taught him there where the Spirit could be stronger.  We're excited to see him come!  We also taught the Plan of Salvation to one of our other investigators, K___, who is in a part-member/less-active family. His less-active wife wants to change her life and start coming back to church now that they have a daughter, and K____ is genuinely interested and very supportive, so we have high hopes for that family!
We also had a VERY successful Branch Christmas Party!  It was AWESOME!  ALL of the less-actives and part-member families that we have been working with came!  It was a huge success! :)  They all felt super welcome, and seemed to have a good time.  It was SO encouraging to see those we're working closely with to re-activate come and commit to come back to church.  Unfortunately, due to the whopping amount of snow that came on Saturday, church attendance was pretty sparse.... But we got to sing in sacrament!  Again!  Haha this time with the senior couple.  I LOVE THEM!
This past week, we had a WONDERFUL zone conference training by Elder Perkins of the seventy who was doing a "mission tour".  He encouraged us to erase the word "meeting" from our vocabulary and replace it with "revelatory experience".  In addition, he challenged us at the beginning of the training to write down two questions that we would like to receive and answer to, and see if they would be answered throughout the day.  It was such a cool experience!  It truly was revelatory, and I was able to have both of my questions answered in ways that I hadn't expected.  One of the highlights of that experience was recognizing how our prayers are answered.  This can be related to the Brother of Jared and his experiences:
- Sometimes, when we ask for help, the Lord will just SOLVE the problem or DO what we need for us, like when the Brother of Jared asked how to direct the barges.  He ( the Lord) said, "don't worry about it. I'll take care of it. I'll blow the winds and direct the barges for you."
- Oftentimes, when we ask for help or a solution to our problems, He will illuminate the solution, but require ACTION on our part, like when the Brother of Jared asked about how to get air, he was told how, but had to ACT for himself on what the Lord showed to him.
- Other times, when we go to Heavenly Father seeking an answer or guidance, He asks, "What would ye have me do"? and we have to come up with a solution ourselves, like the Brother of Jared did in response to his light problem.
Out of those three different ways, it sure would be nice if we could always have a "don't worry about it; I'll take care of it" answer, but out of the three situations, which caused the most personal growth?  Which required faith, thinking, and determination?  Heavenly Father wants to help us, but He also wants us to grow.  Sometimes, we must be left to come up with a faith-filled solution on our own before getting a confirmation from our Father in Heaven.
MERRY ALMOST CHRISTMAS!  This is the best time of the year!  I hope you all have a wonderful week and STAY WARM!  I love you!
Love, Jason
- Leaving the Mission!  Haha our area borders Michigan, so we thought it would be fun to take a "rogue" picture... Do you like what those signs say...?  Ha, I guess there are a bunch of Meth heads here.
- Minute to Win it at the Christmas party!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A White Christmas -- December 9, 2013

Hello family!  It has been a CRAZY but wonderful week!

C____ AND B______ GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!  WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Holy cow... I love those girls.  They are such choice spirits, and it was such a JOY teaching them.  They are golden, and totally prepared.  I'm so thankful Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of their conversion.

 The morning of their baptism, OF COURSE the water heater at our building was out.... SO we had to boil water on the stove in the kitchen and dump in pot after pot to try to warm it up a little!  Haha... at least there weren't ice cubes in the font.  It was a miracle that they could get baptized... With just about zippo support from either parent... It breaks my heart.  We went over a few days before the baptism to their trailer to fill out some paperwork and teach them the last few commandments, and there was such a negative spirit there.  It was a total mess, their father was smoking, swearing, and threatening them.... It was really really sad.  It amazes me that the children are able to even smile or be happy EVER there!  (They don't look too happy in the picture, hahaha but they are HILARIOUS and always laughing and smiling with us).  I was pretty surprised their dad even signed the paper to allow them to be baptized!  Tender mercy!  Those sweet girls have a lot to deal with, but I know that their example has already and will continue to inspire their father and mother to change.

I think I mentioned last week that the Senior Couple came!  Elder and Sister McClellan are A-W-E-S-O-M-E.  They are so funny!  SISTER McCLELLAN IS HILARIOUS!  Pretty sassy and always smiling!  We've already been able to go out teaching with them a few times.  They rock!  They are just what our struggling little branch needs.

With them, we went out and visited a few less-actives.  At one of our visits to a less-active family, I left my coat at their home, so I texted them and said, "Oh no!  I forgot my coat at your house!  Could you bring it with you to church on Sunday?"  TRAPPED!  Hahaha it was a total accident, but it worked!  That less-active family came and stayed all three hours (and brought my coat back for me ;)).  Maybe it was meant to be.

Angola is the coolest at Christmas time.  The "mound" where we live is covered in lights and signs, and Christmas music is playing throughout the day.  You can't help but smile.

Christmas is in the air!  We went with Elder and Sister McClellan to a few community events that were super fun.  One was a "Bethlehem Marketplace" at this HUGE anti-Mormon church.  Haha it was very well done though!  Members of their congregation all dressed up and set up a Bethlehem town in their humongo church that was very realistic.  Roman guards would come up and brisk you, warning you of the foolish talk of the "newborn king", and demanding you pay your taxes!  There were beggars and vendors who would give you samples of figs and fresh bread and such.  And of course, at the end we made it to Jesus.  Pretty neat!  We also went to a Messiah sing along at the Catholic church which was very well done.

It is soooooo stinkin' cold here!  Usually in the teens, with a very brisk breeze.  The past few days have brought snow which is delightful and makes it feel more like Christmas time.

I am SO thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is such a wonderful opportunity we have to share our testimonies with all of those around us.  I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us.  That because He loves us, He sent His son to set the perfect example, and to provide a way for us to repent, be healed, and come back to live forever in peace and joy in His presence with our families.  I LOVE THIS GOSPEL!  I know that it is TRUE.

I love you all!  Thanks for the letters and love and prayers.  THEY ARE FELT.

Love forever,

Fun and the Flu -- December 2, 2013

Hello family!  I can't believe another week has flown by!  AND IT'S DECEMBER.  Goodness me... it's been a little crazy around here!
B_____ and her older sister C_____ are still on track for baptism THIS SATURDAY!  We are so excited for them.  They really are the sweetest little girls.  I know that they will be a marvelous example to the rest of their family, and key in the conversion of their mother, and the re-conversion of their father.  FUNNY STORY. So.... there are certain principles/commandments/lessons that we HAVE to teach our investigators as missionaries.  One of which is chastity. HOOOOLY MOLY it was laughable trying to teach the law of Chastity to a 9 year old who knows NOTHING about any of that.... There were a lot of "huh?" and "uhhh..." moments, but we did our best... hahaha hopefully they understand as best as they can!  You can only beat around the bush so much, you know? :)
We got two new investigators this week!  Woohoo!  We've been stopping by this really sweet old lady the past couple of weeks, who lives alone and has had a LOT of hardship in her life.  Her name is L____, and she has had the missionaries teach her in years past.  We went back with a member and I think her heart has been softened by what she's been through.  She has some depression issues, so we're really trying to help her see how the gospel will bless her life with more purpose, peace, and direction.  I think she'll continue to meet with us!
We've also been working with a part member/less-active family.  It's been really hard getting a solid return appointment with them, but we stopped by on Saturday and they surprised us by saying that their who family would be coming to church this week!  Woop woop!  And sure enough, they ALL came.  Tender mercy!  It was fast and testimony meeting as you know... haha and sometimes those are a little... different in a small branch, haha but hopefully they were able to feel the spirit.
W_____, the 20 year old young man who approached us on the train tracks met with us again this week!  We taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he kept saying how "it makes so much sense!".  He was hesitant to say the closing prayer out loud in front of us, but he agreed to say it silently with us, and closed with an audible "amen".  It was actually really powerful!  I felt the spirit touch each of us as he prayed silently, and I think he was able to feel it, too. :)
NOW  DON'T GET MAD, MOM, but.... guess who caught the flu...? YEP!  Elder Phillips and I both came down with flu-like symptoms Saturday and all day Sunday (diarrhea, vomiting, aches, cold sweats etc.)  Guess we waited too long to get our shots!  Maybe it's not the flu and just a nasty bug.. but needless to say, the past few days have NOT been too good!  But, before we got TOO sick on Saturday, we went to the A______'s (a family in the branch) to blow up one of Elder Phillip's shirts for his one year anniversary!  Brother A_____ has been offered a slot on the special forces team ABOVE Seal Team 6, so.... He's pretty legit and has a lot of fun things that go "boom".  That was fun!
The senior couple came though!  Elder and Sister McClellan are AWESOME.  They are SO sweet, very physically active, and just what our branch needs!  We're so pumped to start working with them this week!  We felt bad... we roughed it to sacrament meeting so we could greet our investigators who came and the senior couple, then had to be taken home right after to rest... So much for first impressions!
This is the Lord's work!  I KNOW that the fullness of the Gospel has been restored.  It has been so marvelous seeing the Gospel bless the lives of those we teach.  I love you!  Heavenly Father loves you!
Love, Elder Jason Allred
PS - sorry... it has been a crazy week, so no pictures.  I'll be sure to send some next week.

Transfers and Tender Mercies -- November 25, 2013

HEY THERE, FAMILY!  It's been an AWESOME and very full week!
This past week, I was employed to sing AGAIN, but this time at Stake conference!  Thankfully it was a quartet, so it wasn't too scary.  At stake conference, the theme was "Hastening the Work of Salvation" (I think the church is starting to really emphasize that everywhere now).  It was an awesome experience!  The 40 or so missionaries from our stake were waiting in the lobbies on both sides of the chapel, and when the Stake President said "...called to serve" in his opening remarks, the organ started to play "Called to Serve" as all of us missionaries came in and funneled down the pews and sang.  It was kind of cheesy, but pretty cool!  There was so much power!  And lots of wet faces.  It's so fun being a missionary and having everyone love you ;)
GREAT NEWS!!  So B_____, the 9 year old we're teaching and will be baptizing on Dec 7th, is still on for baptism.  We got them to Stake conference, and her older 11 year-old sister, C____, who we used to teach came too.  C____ pulled us aside after Stake Conference and told us that she too wants to be baptized on Dec. 7th, but wants it to be a surprise for B_____, as Dec. 7th is Bri's birthday!  WE ARE SO EXCITED!!  C____ was actually how we started to teach B_____, then she decided to stop investigating, while B_____ really took off.  These past few weeks, C____ really has had a change of heart, come to B____'s lessons, participated, and been really, really happy!  Heavenly Father has really been working with her, and both B____ and C_____ will be such wonderful examples to their family.  This past week, Elder Phillips and I had the car, so we drove up to their trailer in a town called Fremont.  It really hurt my heart to see the bad environment they live in (total squalor, father who smokes/drinks/lounges around all day in the home and insults them).  It was amazing to me that they are somehow able to be so happy despite so much unhappiness at home.  I know they've been able to feel the difference of having the gospel in their lives.  Hopefully their mother will be soon to follow!
We got transfer calls this morning, and I'll be staying in Angola for another 6 weeks!  I'm pretty excited about it!  Now I'll be able to see C_____/B_____ baptized, and see the new senior couple come in.  We taught a really great lesson with W______ (the guy we found by the train tracks late one night) yesterday.  We talked about the Book of Mormon and Plan of Salvation. He gets it!  He's so fun to teach because he's our age, very teachable, asks great questions, and very open.  We're trying to get through to his girlfriend who thinks Mormons are polygamists ;)
More happy news!  We've been working really closely with a few less-actives (trying to get them to church; meeting with them/teaching them/getting them caught up to speed with the gospel).  B____, one that we've been working with since I've been here has been a member for 10 years but has yet to go to the temple.  We have brought it up in the past, and she wasn't thrilled with the idea. She's had a rough life, and is a single mother, but it has been such an amazing experience meeting with her at the church and at her house twice a week and reading from the scriptures with her, teaching her, and serving her.  She REALLY likes us and trusts us.  A few nights ago we got a text at midnight from her saying that she feels like she needs to go to the temple and start preparing for that!  We've been able to see the Spirit work in her and soften her heart, and grow her testimony.  She's basically like an investigator, so we started from ground one, but she has progressed so much!  Yay for re-activation!
Haha... so.... we were leaving a dinner appointment we had with a less-active member and we were running late to another appointment, so we STEPPED ON IT..... we MIGHT have gotten pulled over and ticketed.... Woops!  Lesson learned!  We started to use cruise control now (and NO I was not driving..)
I love this work!  You know what is one of the neatest things about being a missionary?  Testifying all day, every day of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and God's perfect plan for us.  Something so cool that I've noticed is that no matter who we're teaching, whenever we bear testimony with the Spirit, eyes lock, the focus is there, and you can SEE, I mean SEE the Spirit touch that person's heart. It is so special.  Even children can feel it.  And most of all, I can feel it, and it is such a cherished opportunity.
Keep C____ and B____ and W_____ in your prayers if you will!  The Adversary is real, and the last thing Satan wants is for 3 more people to get closer to Heavenly Father.
I love you!
Elder Jason Allred
1 - SNOW!

2 - Our stellar district.  I love them!

Another week in the Promised Lance -- November 18, 2013

WOW. This week was long, intense, but great!  SO MUCH HAPPENED!
We found a perfect little duplex for the senior couple coming!  Most of our energies have been focused on that since they will be here in about 9 days, and there was seemingly NOTHING for rent in Angola.  Heavenly Father really blessed us with a choice find, so we were able to walk through and secure a place less than a mile away from our apartment and from the church.  We are SO excited for the couple coming!
I made the mistake of saying that I enjoyed singing to the branch musical director, so... we had to sing a special musical number for Sacrament meeting yesterday!  It was scary, but actually pretty fun!  We also both gave talks, AND taught Primary :)  Oh, the joys of serving in a tiny branch!  It was a LOT do, pretty last-minute, but Heavenly Father really helped us do all we needed to do!  Serving others really is fun!
On Monday night, we got a call late that we needed to rush to the Nursing home to give a member in our branch a blessing.  His wife, has been fighting for life for 8 years and was on her way out, so he needed some comfort.  It was so special being able to use the Priesthood to share Heavenly Father's love with this son of God.  The next morning, his wife slipped away peacefully.  We spent a lot of time this week helping to prepare for the funeral which was held on SaturdaySaturday morning, we got a frantic call that the person who was supposed to be singing at the funeral service bailed, so they begged me specifically to sing in his place!  I was so scared!  With four hours notice, and fasting that day, I was NOT prepared to sing at a funeral in front of all those people, but I didn't want to let them down.  Thankfully, Elder Phillips offered to sing with me so that some of the pressure would be off.  Thank goodness!  The funeral was lovely, and many people came up to us afterwards and thanked us for bringing the spirit with our music. It was actually pretty neat being able to help out in that unexpected, unplanned way.
We had a finding miracle this week!  We are supposed to be out until 9pm each and every night. This is pretty hard with it getting dark at 5;30 and it being so cold, but Elder Phillips and I have committed to never go in early!  One night, it was 8:40pm, cold, windy, and of course super dark, but a young man named "W_____" approached us as we crossed the train tracks asking, "aren't you guys the Mormon missionaries?  I think I want to be a Mormon!"  WHOA.  Haha we were a little skeptical about it, but got his info, and told him we'd come teach him the next day.  The next day came, and we went and taught the Restoration. He is so funny!  He loves to give "high fives" and was impressed with our message.  Halfway through the lesson, his Mom came out and so did his little brother, and they both listened in to what was being taught.  His mom is super nice, and used to be a member (she thinks she's not anymore...?) but LOVES the Book of Mormon and was basically teaching William with us. We're so grateful for this blessing and plan on going back to share more with William and his family!
B_____, the 9 year old we're teaching, IS SO FLIPPIN GOLDEN.  Holy moly she keeps all of her commitments and EVEN INVITES AND BRINGS HER LITTLE FRIENDS TO CHURCH AND ACTIVITY DAYS!  Yesterday, we taught her, her two unbaptized siblings (who agreed to be taught by us now!!) and her friend that she brought to church named Hailie.  I was blown away!  This little girl is SO PREPARED and is already a perfect little member missionary!  Her family has a lot of potential that we're trying to harvest, too, through service and teaching.  I think as soon as Brianna is baptized, her two siblings and mother will follow closely behind!  We're so excited for the many opportunities that await us there :)
This gospel is SO true.  When I was preparing my talk on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, I was overwhelmed with such deep gratitude for this Gospel.  Do we know and understand what we have as members of this church?  Do we remember that we are partakers of the Priesthood? Do we realize what it means to be sons and daughters of God?  It is my prayer that we will be ever more aware and ever more grateful for the priceless gift of the Restored Gospel in our own lives, and do our part to share that gift with others.
I love you!
Love, Jason
PS - Sorry for no pictures this week!  It was a little crazy...

I love my mother! (November 11, 2013)

(A note sent to Jason's mother :) )

MOM!  Did you know that I love you?  Because I do :)
YOUR PACKAGE CAME ON HALLOWEEN, AND IT MADE MY LIFE!  No joke, I actually started crying when Elder Phillips was in the bathroom because I was so overcome with gratitude and love and happiness!  I have the best mother EVER!  It was SO thoughtful of you!  I hope you know that I keep all of the little letters/notes/stickes you send.  They fill me with such joy.  It made Elder Phillips really happy, too, so thank you so much for including something for him, too!  (I'm including a picture of me with your package in this email, so i hope it comes through!)

5 MONTHS! -- November 11, 2013

Family!  What a crazy week!  But a good one :)  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT'S BEEN 5 MONTHS ALREADY? Goodness, It's gone by pretty dang fast!  It seems like just yesterday I was entering the MTC as a sweaty, nervous mess.
Angola is great!  We have some great news!  Angola is getting a set of Senior missionaries in two weeks!!  We are SO excited and grateful.  This is a REAL answer to prayers, because even though Elder Phillips and I LOVE it hear, Angola has had the reputation as "outer darkness" or "the Abyss"... Work is pretty slow at the moment, but we're capitalizing on the potential here.  It will be SO wonderful seeing Angola go from "Outer Darkness" to the "Promised Land" with the arrival of the Senior couple.  The Dayton branch received a senior couple 20 months ago, and while the couple was there, the branch more than doubled!  We look forward to working hand-in-hand with another set of missionaries here in the coming weeks!  Woo!
Because the senior couple is coming pretty soon, we received the assignment to find and secure a place for them to stay, which has been our main focus this week.  There is NOTHING for rent in Angola, but we know that the Lord will provide a way to find something for them in time!  We have few leads, and one of the perks of living in a small town is that everyone knows everyone, so the branch members are calling in favors with people to help us out.  It has been pretty stressful and time consuming, but we know this miracle will really help Angola!
We taught a few really great lessons this week!  B______, our most progressing investigator, will be getting baptized on Dec. 9th!  She has been so fun to work with, and we've had a lot of fun teaching her, because teaching children is VERY different from teaching adults.  We really had to think outside of the box for lessons, and did a lot of fun object lessons to help her grasp gospel principles.  This past week, we taught her about the importance of following the prophet.  Aunt Linda sent me some glow sticks, so we set up an obstacle course in the church gym and had them go through the maze in the dark with only their glow stick (or "conscience") to lead the way.  It was a little hard for them, but they made it through.  Then, we had them do it again with a larger glow stick (or "prayer") it still took them a while, but they made it through.  Finally, we had her do it again, but with a flashlight (the "prophet").  She was able to quickly and easily navigate through the darkness and into the light on the other side, exclaiming, "it's so much easier with the prophet!!".  It has been so fun and rewarding teaching her, and this time, her two non-baptized siblings, and non-member mother came to the lesson and participated and LOVED IT!  We hope that Brianna's example and faith will continue to be a light to her family, and a gateway to get them taught, too!
We've really been trying to find more people to teach... the pictures this week are some pretty sites in the towns and parks in our area.  We got to take some pretty pictures as we were out finding (sorry they're a little blurry... my camera is pretty old!).  Similar to Ohio, there are TONS of churches, and most of the "hoosiers" here are pretty dead-set in their ways, so it's difficult to find new investigators.  We have tried to fast more frequently to find new people to teach, which hasn't borne fruit yet, but I know that often times, "[We] receive no witness until after the trial of [our] faith."  We've been able to get back into contact with some formers/potential investigators though, and continue to really reach out to less-actives and serve members.  I just made Heather's banana bread (SO GOOD!) so we'll be taking that with us to some less-actives after dinner tonight.
Haha, so... I've been able to successfully dodge the bullet of giving a talk in church somehow, but I'll be singing next Sunday during sacrament meeting!  Yikes!  Hope that goes well... I'd almost rather give a talk haha
This work is God's work!  It is hard work, and there are certainly times of doubt and hardship, but Heavenly Father always buoys you up and encourages you to keep going. I love the Gospel!  I love the peace and hope and JOY that comes with it. 
Heavenly Father knows you and loves you!  The Gospel is for everyone, so DON'T HOG IT!  GO SHARE!!
Love forever,
Elder Jason Allred


November 4, 2013

Oi familia!  This week was BUSY but oh so good!  We got a TON done, and many things happened!  Here are some of the highlights of my week:
- We are teaching up a storm!  We taught 23 lessons this week!  That's 22 more than the week before I came!  YES!  We're staying as busy as possible, teaching investigators, less-actives, and members!  It's the best!
-We've been teaching C___, our most progressing investigator a lot recently, but.... He failed to show up to church. Again.  So we have to drop him :(  We're pretty bummed that he can't get himself up and going, but at the same time, there has to be commitment on both ends for this to work, so we'll be taking a break from him.
- B______, the 19 year old Pagan girl reached out to us this week, and we met and taught an AWESOME Plan of Salvation lesson with her.  It was really touching.  There were tears all around, and the Spirit was really there!  Her grandma just passed away, so she's feeling a little anger towards God.  It was really special being able to share with her how I was able to keep my faith and love for Heavenly Father despite my father passing away too, and bearing witness of God's perfect plan of happiness for our children.
- On Halloween, we had a ROCKIN' Zone Conference and got some really good inspiration for Angola.  We had to be in by 6:30 that night, so we listened to General Conference talks and made cake.  THIS PLACE IS GOING TO BLOW UP!  We're so excited for all of the potential here.  The members are starting to get excited to do missionary work, and we're trying to encourage them as we teach them, and have them come teach with us.  I've discovered that our little branch is... pretty disfunctional actually, but they really love missionaries and we have a few "visionaries" who are trying to re-vamp ward programs/tear down the cliques/hasten missionary work, which is GREAT! The trouble is that most of our members are converts themselves, so many of them are not familiar with how to lead/teach/delegate/etc.  We're working on it though, and already seeing so much progress!
- There are a TON of less-actives here, and some are really nice, while others... hahaha it's great!  We're trying pretty hard to reach out to them, because we need all the members and talents we can get!  It is a real challenge trying to help less-actives re-discover their flame of faith, but it is special seeing the Spirit work within them as we teach them and serve them.
- We bought rakes from Walmart so that we have a good excuse to go up and talk to people! We figured that if we just went up and started serving them, they might open up to us better.  We'll see how that turns out. ;)
- B______, the 9 year old daughter of an inactive part-member family that we're teaching, is getting baptized!!  She is SO fun to teach!  She really 'gets' the Gospel.  She is reverent and focused during lessons, and LOVES the missionaries!  She is such a sweetie!  She'll be getting baptized on her birthday in the beginning of December!  I hope I'm around for that.
There's certainly never a dull moment as a missionary!  If you're doing it right, missionary work really is a joy!  All you have to think about for 2 whole years is serving the Lord.  You learn so much!  Being a missionary has really helped me see what it must be like for Heavenly Father when WE don't keep our commitments to Him.  It is SO frustrating when you pray for, think about, and plan wonderful things for people, and they either don't show, or choose not to act on what you have to offer them.  It must really break Heavenly Father's heart when we, His children, choose not to keep His commandments, and choose not to act on the priceless gift He has offered to us.
I know this Gospel is true!  I know it because it has changed me, and I'm seeing it change those who we teach for the better.  His plan is SO simple.  Heavenly Father loves you and is there for YOU!
Elder Jason Allred
1. We went to a member's house for dinner who had a farm, and I reeeeeally wanted to hold a chicken.  Farms are FUN!
2. Me trying to make the same face as the chicken... It's harder than you think!
3. Halloween!  Elder Phillips and I got some fun things from someone special that day in the mail ;)
4. Oh the things you'll find in Angola.... 

Flakes -- October 28, 2013

Hello family!  It has been a VERY busy week, but a great one! 
It has been SO COLD here in Angola!  We had our first snow already, and some kind branch members have lent me an overcoat to use while I'm here, since I was expecting to be in Brazil by now :)
We really did our best to teach as much as possible!  There is something worldwide for missionaries called "The Standard of Excellence" which sets goals for how much we should be teaching/how many investigators come to church etc.  Angola in the past has been open, then closed, then re-opened because of it's minimal growth, but Elder Phillips and I are really trying to teach teach teach!  One of our Mission President's favorite quotes is, "There is no such thing as a dry area. Just dry missionaries", so we're taking that to heart and doing our best to fill our time meaningfully!
We had  A BUNCH  of appointments set up this week including a chapel tour!  We were so excited to teach these people that Heavenly Father has prepared.  BUT, SIX of them flaked!  Last-minute literally 6 appointments cancelled on us!  There are few things more frustrating than planning for hours for specific people with specific needs, then having them flake out last minute... We even made breakfast and took it over to an investigator to get them to church on time.  Didn't work out haha... Satan is really trying to slow down progression here... We are NOT getting discouraged though!  We were able to stay busy, and make some more solid return appointments, and most importantly, TEACH people!  We're trying to do some more less-active work and a lot of finding.
On a brighter note, we got C___ on date for baptism for November 23rd!  He's shown a higher commitment level and desire to make appropriate changes in his life, so we're meeting with him twice/week and helping him overcome a few things. Twink wanted us to come by, so we did, but she was sick, so we left her with a Book of Mormon, and a Finding Faith in Christ DVD.  We'll be going back later to check in. 
We had the car this week (we share with another set of Elders) so we got out to the outskirts of our area some!  It was really fun!  There's a lot of "Hoosier" pride in Indiana, but no one can really tell us what a "hoosier" is....  They all say the word "wash" pronounced like "worsh" which always makes me laugh.  I FINALLY FOUND A COMPUTER THAT WILL UPLOAD PICTURES, so I'll send some pictures of Angola and the country.  It's really pretty!
When you're not out trying to contact and teach people as a missionary, you're either asleep or you're studying.  We get the privilege of studying a lot which has proved to be a precious gift.  What really stuck out to me in my personal studies was Alma 37:45-46:
45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
The way to eternal life is PREPARED for us.  It is so simple.  All we have to do is keep the commandments, and listen to our Heavenly Father's loving guidance.  The scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, are for us in our day.  Just as the Liahona guided Lehi and his family through the wilderness, the scriptures are our guide and compass in our time.  They lay out so clearly for us the way to return to our Father in Heaven.  Time and time again we are presented with examples of faithful obedience that lead to prosperous times and joy, juxtaposed with examples of pride and turmoil and despair.  The difference?  Keeping the simple commandments that Heavenly Father has given us for our HAPPINESS.  It's all there for us to see.  It is laid out and prepared.  Just as it says in Alma, the way is "easy". 
I have such testimony that the way truly is prepared for all of God's children. It is simple.  Heavenly Father designed His plan for us to succeed.  I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to share with others my testimony of the Gospel and show them how the way has been "...prepared for them".
There is so much joy and happiness in following the commandments and emulating Christ.  I love you all so very, very much!  Let us all press on, and remember that the way is indeed prepared for us, and that we have been given the tools we need to succeed!
Love always,
Elder Jason Allred
1. The back of our apartment... Looks a little sketch, right?  I love it!
2. The heart of Angola (right outside our apartment)
3. CORN!
4. A view of city center at night (you can kind of see our apartment's front)
5. More corn!  The trees are pretty, too.  This is where we are most of the time! 

Oct 21, 2013--GOOD OL' ANGOLA

HELLO FAMILY!  My my my, this week was a little crazy, but GREAT!  I got transferred to Angola, Indiana, and it is SO DIFFERENT!
Transfers were conveniently held in Centerville, so that was nice, but Angola was about a 4 hour drive!  My new companion, Elder Phillips, is really nice, hard-working, and FUN. We work hard and have a good time in the process!
Here are some fun facts about Angola, Indiana:
- There are over 100 natural lakes in the area
- It is an OLD town...  I'd say it's dying. Lots of old buildings, and old people!  But it's pretty.
- There are a TON of farms!  Mostly soybeans and corn, which make for very pretty pictures! 
- This is the BOONIES of Indiana.  Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from both Ohio, and Michigan. 
- Our area is as far north as the mission goes
- There are quite a few Amish communities in our area which is pretty cool!  We see them around town sometimes...
- There are 40 active members in Angola.  Yes. 40!  Our little branch is quite the change from the sprawling Centerville Ward where we typically had about 300 at church each week.  Out of the 40 members, there are about 8 youth, and most everyone else is aged 60+... :) It's fun!
- Angola was just re-opened for missionary work, and the work is pretty slow at the moment.  I was shocked when Elder Phillips told me they taught only ONE lesson the week before I came!  We'll be fixing that!
I LOVE Angola!  I love being in the "boonies" with farms and animals and members who are a little rough around the edges :)  It's very refreshing, and there certainly is never a dull moment!
After our 4 hour excursion from Centerville to Angola, I was able to unpack a little bit, then we hit the town!  We live in the heart of Angola, the very center of downtown called the "Square".  Our apartment is ironically on top of a bar!  It's fun though, because it feels like a NYC kind of apartment.  Haha...  There are tons of trailers, and a few homeless people, too!  We have a car, and cover the town of Angola, and about 7 surrounding little towns.  It's pretty huge!  The members here feed us REALLY well! I'm worried that now that I'm in a car area, I'll start packing on the pounds!  YUM!
We do a TON of service for members and less-actives.  The majority of our service has been manual labor, like roofing and cleaning out barns.  It feels so good to serve, and it's fun having the opportunity to serve so much.
Our investigators are an interesting bunch!  We're teaching a bi-polar, schizophrenic named "C___" who is 28 and needs the Gospel.  He loves the missionaries, and we're working on a baptismal date for him.  We're also teaching a Pagan girl named "B____", yes, that is her real name, and she is Pagan.  She's 19, has already been addicted to drugs, had a child, cleaned up, and now is looking for hope in her life while she lives alone and is trying to finish up high school.  Like I said, pretty different, right?  It's awesome!  It is really a different experience teaching someone who doesn't have a Christian background.  The others that we're teaching are children from less-active/part-member families.  Two super sweet and willing 8 year old girls named "B____" and "B_____".  It is so hopeful teaching them, because they love meeting with us!  Ironically, the 8-year-olds are the ones keeping their commitments all by themselves with no parental support.  Yikes!  I hope that they can get baptized soon and be an example for their parents in their homes. 
We already had a little miracle!  One afternoon, we were walking by and spotted two of our former investigators, who we said hello to and kept walking.  As we walked down the street a ways, some lady hollered at us and invited us to "come eat supper" with her and her family.  SWEET!  Her name is "Twink", and it turns out that the two formers we said hello to were her brother and his wife!  Small world.  We had chili and met her whole family and extended family!  They told us to come back and share a message sometime!  WOOHOO!  It was so random, and so fun being invited in by a total stranger to be "part" of her family for the evening and invited back.  We're pumped for the potential there.
I have some fun pictures, but the computers here at this library will not allow picture sharing... :( I'll print them at Walmart and mail them to you!)
Love, Elder Jason Allred
PS - MY NEW MAILING ADDRESS IS (for letters only):
40 N Public Square
Angola, IN 46703
Packages go to:
1240 N 155 W
Angola, IN 46703

Monday, October 21, 2013

TRANSFERRED! (October 14, 2013)

HELLO FAMILY!  My my my what a wonderful, busy, crazy week!  I PASSED MY FOUR MONTH MARK!  Can you believe it??  I only have about 20 minutes today, so I'll try to summarize my updates :)
-I went on an exchange with our neighboring area, and when we were out and about tracting, a 90+ year old woman who was blind answered the door.  She seemed confused at our purpose showing up at her house, but I was able to explain what it is that we share and why.  Before knowing she was blind, I gave her a small picture of Christ.  When I told her Jesus knew her and loved her, she started to weep.  It was a really tender moment.  It's amazing how small and simple acts of kindness can go so far.
-We taught an AMAZING Restoration lesson to our 'miracle' investigator named Whitney.  Wow.  You could cut the Spirit with a knife!  She is SO prepared.  She has been reading from the Book of Mormon, and LOVES it, and said she can feel the Holy Ghost all around her, and that God has a plan for her life!  YAY!  We challenged her to baptism, and she accepted! Woo!!  We just need to get her schedule re-aligned so she can make it to church.
-On our way home a few nights ago, we ran into a lady trying to get into our clubhouse where we live.  Her name is Heidi.  She was super nice and we told her why we're out serving missions and a little about what it is that we share with people.  We gave her a card because she was in a rush, but she texted us the next day, and really opened up about her past and her faith.  She's coming to church next week, and is super excited to meet with us! Another miracle!
In our mission, there are about 50 scriptures/quotes that we are supposed to memorize.  The quote I just memorized this morning is from Bruce R. McKonkie:
"Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness.  It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God's laws the greater will be the endowment of faith."
I LOVE this quote. In my personal Book of Mormon study, I just read in Alma 14, when those who believe in Christ are being burned to death; women, children, families, and scriptures.  What a tragic scene Alma and Amulek had to witness.  This quote really made me appreciate their faith and courage to go forth and stand as witnesses of truth, despite the horror and wickedness they had to deal with.  Aren't we so blessed to live in a country and a time where we can worship freely?
Today, we got the a call, and I'M GETTING TRANSFERRED!  I don't think I received my visa quite yet, but It will be really nice getting a new companion and working in a new area.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to be in Centerville!  I've learned SO much.  I'm officially out of training, too!  Woohoo!  No longer a "greenie" :)  I'll be sure to email out my new address next Monday.
I LOVE MY FAMILY!  The Gospel is TRUE.  All we have to do to know that it is true is to live it, and FEEL the difference in our lives.
Know that you are loved and prayed for! 
Love, Elder Jason Allred
Picture:  Here is me with the other missionaries in my district today during "Fun Day".  I love my district!