Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Week 1 as a Real Missionary!

Hello family!  CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT I'M SERVING A MISSION RIGHT NOW???  It's so crazy to me.  It feels like I'm in a dream each day!  I'm alive!  It's so strange not waking up in the MTC each morning and going to class with a big group of newbies.  It feels even weirder to have people reject your message!  They didn't prep us for this at the MTC! 
On Wednesday morning, I woke up at 2am, caught my bus at 3am, and got to the Salt Lake airport around 4am.  I was plumb tuckered out by then! I'm so glad I got to travel with Elder Tolman (see photo) from my district.  We had a layover in Minnesota, so I got to call Mom and talk to her for a while. :)  When we landed in Cincinnati I was SO nervous!  I thought I would have time to run to the bathroom and freshen up or something before meeting my new mission president, but they were waiting to greet us even before we got to baggage claim.  I was a sweaty mess!  President and Sister Porter are AWESOME.  For being brand new themselves, they certainly are on the ball.  Elder Tolman and I got to ride in the mission truck that was pulling the luggage of the 30 or so new missionaries coming to the Ohio, Cincinnati mission because Elder Tolmans older brother is the Assistant to the President and was driving.  
Ohio is SO green!  (See picture)  I am in an area called Centerville, which is a suburb near Dayton.  It's neat that I get to serve near where I was born.  The mission home is in Cincinnati.  On the way there from the airport, we turned a big corner on the freeway, and BOOM!  There's the Cincinnati Skyline.  
So pretty.  President and Sister Porter's house is great!  It's a pretty large home in a lovely neighborhood.  Sister Porter had prepared Cafe Rio style dinner for us to eat and get acquainted with the other missionaries we would serve with.  After dinner, we had interviews with the President, and then a great presentation by the president.  He is a powerful man!
The next morning, we woke up at 5:30 to head over to the transfer meeting.  Since the mission covers a large area, I was assuming I'd be in a car zone.... NOPE!  Elder Christensen (my trainer) and I were assigned to a bike area!  Centerville is lovely.  It's an older community, and many people that we've contacted have grown up in the area.  There are parks EVERYWHERE, and also countless churches of differing faiths.  The first few days, we were on foot (since I didn't have a bike) and I got blisters on both feet.  Thankfully, a wonderful ward member let me borrow their bike/helmet for my stay in the area.  The ward here is AWESOME!  There are so many kind and warm people, and we've already had meals with 4 member families!  This ward is phenomenal at ward missionary work. They are always giving us referrals and coming up with ways to re-active the less-actives and visit/serve others.  They are such wonderful examples of disciples of Christ!
I thought I would be in a "trio", but no one in the mission is.  My companion, Elder Christensen, has been out for 18 months, and knows the area very well.  He's kind and works hard.  I know I'll learn a lot from him.
Missionary work is SO MUCH HARDER than I thought it would be!  I'm not used to being rejected so much!  Most people are gracious about it, but some are plain rude.  I have nothing to compare it to, so I'm not sure if we're doing well or not but we do have some investigators and potential investigators we're working on.  On my first day, we were walking by a home, and a man named Chris called us in for a cool drink.  He has several copies of the Book of Mormon and loves the Bible and Christ. He's had a rough life, but Elder Christensen and I were able to have a wonderful lesson with him about the Restoration and the power of the Atonement.  It was so hopeful that some person invited US in for a change.  I hope and pray that Christ will have us back.  On my second day, we were walking home, and a jogger stopped us.  I thought it was a miracle when he asked us to "tell him about our church", but the conversation quickly went to polygamy and it turns out he was a VERY devout catholic looking for a Bible bash...  Cheryl and Keagan are a mother and son who come to church every week.  We're hoping to get them set on a baptism date!  Already, we've done a few service projects for non-members, hopefully planting seeds.  It is really hard trying to bring up the Gospel with people, and harder going door-to-door and not sound like you're selling something.
Our apartment is pretty good!  It's just the two of us, but we have access to a "fitness center" in the clubhouse each morning and we have new appliances and working A/C! Woo!  However, I was changing my bedding this morning and noticed MOLD growing all over my pillow.  I about threw up.  I'm sure there will be worse things in Brazil, though  ;)
There have already been times where I've gotten a little discouraged, but it cheers me up to remember that I am here for a reason - to help someone come unto Christ before I head off to Brazil - for however long I have until I leave.  There have already been a few times where I feel totally inadequate in my teaching abilities or knowledge, or when Satan puts doubts on the strength of my faith or testimony, but I have confidence in the promises of the Lord.  I have to keep reminding myself, "I'm not here for JASON, I'm here for the LORD!"  I know my mission won't be easy, but I KNOW it will be worth it.  I'm SO grateful for the Restored Gospel! I know Heavenly Father hears and answers the prayers of His children.
Heavenly Father LOVES us!  It's a miracle.
I love you all!
Com amor,
Elder Jason Allred

Thanks for the cupcakes, DD!

(Another email passed between Mom and Jason on July 19th. Mom had sent the district some cupcakes.)

Woo!!  Did you see the picture of us eating the cupcakes?  here are some other fun ones :)  We love our Dori!

Boston Baked Beans

(Mom and Jason happened to be on the computer at the same time, so they got to send emails back and forth.)
Sorry for all this randomness, but I also saw Boston Baked Beans at the MTC store, and had to buy them because they reminded me of you too!  I remeber eating those with you when I was reeally small. :) 

 Here's a picture of me email you right now, too!


A Christmas tree in July

(email sent July 19th)
 Mom, Grandma Brewer is the SWEETEST.  She sent me a Christmas Tree she made with pictures of our family and $20 hidden inside. She is so kind, creative, and thoughtful.  I sent her a letter in the mail yesterday, and an email today, but could you make sure she gets this picture of me with the tree, and that I am SO grateful for it and love it?  My email had to be sort of short, but I want her to know I mean it!
Thanks SO much!  You're the best!

Friday, July 19, 2013


HEY FAMILY!!!  IT CAME!!!  I've been called to serve in the OHIO, CINCINNATI MISSION!!!!!!  SO EXCITED!!!  I LEAVE JULY 24 AT 2:30 AM!!!!
I'm so happy!  I cried!  I'm going with the Elder in my district who I prayed I would get to travel with.  A miracle.  And get this!  His BROTHER is Assistant to the President in that mission and is going to pick us up from the airport!!  His parents and the mission president knew, but it is a surprise for his AP brother.  I'm so happy!
The Church is true!  God is good!  I'M GOING TO OHIO
Love you all!
Elder Jason Allred

5th letter from the MTC

Hello family!  HOLY COW this will be my last time emailing you from the MTC!  Bittersweet.  I DON'T have my re-assignment yet, but I'm about 90% it will come today, and they will let me email you and let you know where I'll be going!  It will be so fun being able to serve a "mini-mission" somewhere here in the States.  :)

Each passing day, this whole 'mission' thing gets more and more real!  Yesterday, we had what is called, "In-field Orientation" all day long for the wave of missionaries leaving the coming week.  There were about 500 missionaries in that meeting.  At one point, in front of EVERYONE, the person in charge said, "Do we have a Jason Allred here?  Go to room A113 to collect your prize at the next break.".  My heart started pounding.  'Oh no!' I thought.... 'Could it be my visa??? I'm not ready yet Heavenly Father!!'  For the next hour I couldn't focus on ANYTHING because I had no idea what he meant by 'prize', and a few people throughout the week had received their visas.  Turns out, I just needed to sign a legal paper for Mom :)  PHEW!  I was really relieved to be honest! 
I've grown SO close to my companions and district.  I'm really going to miss them.  I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with them!  They've made my stay here at the MTC magical.  Here are some of the Spiritual highlights from my week:
- When faced with a challenge, temptation, weakness, or burden, we need to ask, "What does Heavenly Father want me to learn from this?"  I have such a testimony that Heavenly Father is keenly aware of our desires and our efforts, and we are given every trial, temptation, whatever for a specific reason - to learn and grow so that we can become more like Him and through utilizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
- Here's something pretty cool:  Flip to 1 Nephi chapter 1.  Read verses: 1, 5, 6, 8, 11, 18, 19, 20, and write the main idea or keyword from each of those verses.  Who elses story does that sound like?  :)  I love the scriptures!
- During "In-field" the phrase that kept coming up and really stuck with me was that "Heavenly Father is preparing the people you will teach right now to receive you and the message of the Restored Gospel". Gosh, isn't that amazing?  I kept almost crying.  I know that little things and big things are happening in the lives of those I will teach in Brazil and those I'll teach in the states that will change their heart or in some way prepare them to receive the blessing of the Restored Gospel in their lives.  It is so beautiful that Heavenly Father sees the bigger picture and through small and simple means make great things come to pass.
I've attached a picture of my best friend here at the MTC (the dictionary ;)) a reeeeallly attractive picture of my companions and me in front of the temple, me and sister Swasey, and a picture of what I eat EVERY morning - Grape Nuts, a banana, two hard-boiled eggs, and a glass of milk.

I love you all so much!  The Gospel is TRUE!  It is so personal and beautiful and glorious.  LIVE for miracles.  Pray for them!  I know they're real.
I'll send out another email later today (hopefully) detailing my re-assignment!
Com MUITO amor,
Elder Jason Allred

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Week 4 at the MTC

Hello family!
Holy moly I can't believe this is my FIFTH week here at the MTC.  It literally feels like yesterday I was dropped off and taken to to start my mission.  Time is going by SO fast!  In just a week from today, I'll have my mission re-assignment!!  I'm SO excited!  Various Elders and Sisters from my zone going to Brazil have been reassigned from California to Kansas and everywhere in between.  I'm so excited to see where the Lord calls me for my Visa waiting time!  The process for re-assignment is the same as your original call (an apostle receives revelation for YOU personally as to where you should go).  I hope that I'll be able to travel with some people from my district.  We've really gotten close, and many companionships have gotten re-assigned to the same place, which I would really love!  We'll see what is in store.

Since this is our fifth week, we're really stressing "SYL" or, "Speak Your Language" in the classroom and anywhere else we can.  It was really hard at first, but it is an excellent way of learning more and more Portuguese.  I'm really starting to LOVE the language.  I'm pretty sure I know more Portuguese that Spanish now, and almost always pray in Portuguese.  It is such a neat feeling, praying in a different language.  It is amazing to me that Heavenly Father can and DOES understand every language!  So neat.

This past week, we had a wonderful devotional, where the speaker spoke about "acting well our part" (remember that general conference talk "What ere thou art, act well thy part"?).  It was phenomenal.  He told us that our missions won't necessarily be the "best two years" of our life, but they WILL be the best two years FOR our life.  The spirit bore witness that that was true!  He told us how our missions will help us become the kind of Father, Husband, Mother, Wife, and disciple we want and need to be.  It was touching.  Gosh, I LOVE the MTC!!  Everyday we are blessed with an outpouring of the Spirit, and it truly is beautiful.
 My room

When we first arrived, we were challenged to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before we left.  I thought it would be difficult, and that I wouldn't get much out of reading it reading it that fast, but it's been a beautiful experience. I'm done!  With 10 days to spare!  And I've learned more than I thought possible.  In my patriarchal blessing, it mentions how my "...mind will be opened to gospel truths as you study the scriptures.." and that blessing has certainly come to pass.  It's amazing how the Book of Mormon truly testifies of Christ and really does contain the fullness of the Gospel.  The Gospel is SO simple!  All we're asked is to come unto Christ, accept and keep his commandments, utilize the loving gift of the Atonement, and endure.  That's it!  What I've come to know more than ever this time as I've read through the Book of Mormon is that Heavenly Father is a God of LOVE.  Time and time again, the people are given chance after chance to repent and come unto Christ.  As they do, they are blessed and always prosper.  We see the sadness it brings Heavenly Father when we refuse his invitation to "come unto Me".  He is there with open arms, always beckoning us to come unto Him.  Let us come unto Him!

In other news, 4-Square is quite the activity here at the MTC.  At first I thought it was ridiculous, but it is SO fun!  That's all we do!  It gets pretty intense sometimes :)
 Me and Elder Han!
I love you guys!  I KNOW this Gospel is true.  It is incredible.  Can't wait to tell you where I'll be embarking to wait for my Visa next week!  (I'm thinking Alabama or Arkansas)

O evangelho de Jesus Cristo é verdadeiro!!  Eu amo minha familia!!
Com moito amor,
Elder Jason Allred

Week 3 at the MTC

What a stellar week!  There isn't a whole lot of new things going on, but here are some highlights from my week:

People all around are still getting sick!  I've been having a pretty bad cough/sinus infection that's put a damper on things, but I'm coming out of it, so hopefully things will be better soon.

On Sunday, we were privileged to watch a talk given by Elder David Bednar entitled, "The Character of Christ".  It made me cry!  Go watch it!  Its message will stick with you.  The main take-away is that the natural man within us wants to turn inwards when faced with trial and hardship ("wo is me..."  "life is so hard..."  "why me.."  "Haven't I done enough service?" etc.).  The character of Christ, however, is turning outwards to others at those critical times.  Think when Christ was suffering in the garden for OUR sins, and instead of letting Paul cut off the ear of a guard, he turned outward, and healed him.  Think of Christ suffering on the cross.  He didn't say, "I think I've done enough, Father... Bless me."  He instead asked for a his mother to be watched over after his death, and prayed for his captors and the thieves next to Him.  There were so many marvelous examples.  Go watch it.  It will change you.
 View from the Temple

Yesterday, the 4th of July, the MTC put on a wonderful program for us.  We had a devotional where we sang many patriotic songs and watched a touching film entitled, "17 Miracles" which chronicles 17 of the many miracles of the handcart company that crossed the plains late in the season.  It was so touching!  I'd whole-heartedly recommend it!  After showing us the film, they gave us all a "Magnum" ice cream bar (SOOO good!) and let us outside to watch the firework show that was put on at the BYU Football stadium.  It was beautiful.  I'm so grateful to the early pioneers who sacrificed EVERYTHING they had for the building of the kingdom.  Being the 4th of July, I started to think about America and the progress of the church.  I have NO doubt in my mind that this blessed land came to be to enable the restoration.  Think about it.  Nowhere else in the world could the Gospel be restored.  No other place had the religious freedom or means to bring this to pass.  Then I started to think about all of the marvelous technology and advances we've made in just the past 150 years.  It is incredible.  It has been exponential!  No doubt that increase in knowledge was also God-given to further and speed the work of the Gospel.

In my Book of Mormon reading, I've been blown away at all the marvelous examples of missionaries within its words.  Alma, Ammon, the sons of Mosiah, there are so many!  I love reading about their struggles and their deliverance.  It is so cool to see how God blesses his children!  Over, and over, and over again, the message of repentance is shared with the people.  ALL they have to do is to forsake their wrong doings and heed the commandments of God!  When they are blessed, they prosper and grow.  The gospel is SO simple!  All we have to do is do what is right, repent, and endure.  If we can just endure this speck of mortality, we will be blessed beyond comprehension.  God wants nothing more than to bless His children.  I have a strong witness of this.

Portuguese is coming along!  I've noticed it's a little hard now when we teach because there are three of us in a companionship.  One of us usually subconsciously takes the lead in a lesson with an investigator, which makes it harder for the other two to say much.  We're working on it!  But I love my companions and have been blessed with wonderful teachers. 
 Here's a pictures of me with Elder Manning, one of my companions as TWINS! We have the same shirt, and I had two ofthe same shorts, so we were twins for gym one day. I love my companions!

I ran into two other 'Allred' missionaries from Virginia!  They are brother and sister and live in Williamsburg.  Maybe we're distant cousins or something..

Anyways, I sure love you guys!  I know the fullness of the Gospel has been restored through Joseph Smith and we have all the commandments, covenants, and guidance we need to progress and return to our Father in Heaven.

Com amor,
Elder Allred

Week 2 at the MTC

Hello family!! 
It has been such a wonderful week here at the MTC!  I don't have much time, but I want to update you to a little of what is going on with me.
This past week, we received TWO new investigators (pesquisadores) and have started teaching them.  Portuguese is coming along fine, not without hard work, but we know more than we think we know when it comes to being in a lesson with someone.  What did you think of the world wide broadcast?  I thought it was so neat!  iPads for everyone!  Haha just kidding... but it is so cool to see the Lord hastening the work through the use of technology!  It makes me wonder what missionary work will be like for my children.  I LOVED what the general authorities had to say about member missionary work.  I loved seeing those miracles within the wards shown that came from goals in ward council and members reaching out.  Sometimes that's all it takes... Just reaching out.  Think of the the THOUSANDS of people and many generations that will be blessed because those members were reactivated and new saints were baptized.  So beautiful!

There is a nasty bug going around here at the MTC... Some sort of intestinal bug.  I got it a few days ago and it was NOT fun.  It only lasted for about 24-36 hours, but man, it really wiped me out!  Thankfully I caught the bug over the weekend, so I didn't miss much class.  Being sick certainly makes you sooo grateful for being healthy 99% of the time!

I saw Sister Swasey today!  She just came in to the MTC on Wednesday and is super excited to be here.  It's strange to me that this is my THIRD Wednesday here already!  People say that "the days are like weeks and the weeks are like days at the MTC".  They're right!  Each day is so jam-packed with gospel and language study that it passes pretty slowly, but it certainly doesn't feel like I've been here over 2 weeks already.

I met my mission president and his wife this week!  This past week, the prophet, 12 apostles, and various general authorities were at the MTC training the new mission presidents, so there was a special feeling here.  My new mission president is a small Brazilian man and he and his wife are SO fun!  They barely speak any English, and we barely speak any Portuguese, but Sister Monteiro (wife of President Monteiro) brought her "Ipajee" (iPad) to translate some things for us. :)  What a fun couple!  Theyre brought us candy from Brazil and both bore their testimonies about the work (which we could understand).  I'm trying to find a computer that will let me upload pictures so you can see them.

Me with Pres. Montiero and his wife! I love them!

 Trying out my Portuguese with my mission President, Pres. Monteiro
The more and more we practice teaching, the more and more I love this work!  It's amazing how much you learn through teaching others.  In class, we pick apart gospel principles and come up with questions that either we have, or potential questions an investigator might ask.  We then find those answers with our resources and share with one another.  I love my district!  We are unified and all are passionate to share our insights and testimonies.

Here's a little something in Portuguese just for fun ;)
Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon e a palavra de Deus, e cuando nos seguimos, podemos voltar vivir com nosso Pai Celestial.  Eu sei que o evangelho e restaurado e que familias sao eternas.

Part of my simple testimony (without proper accents and such).  I love this work!  I know the Gospel is true.  Sorry this letter is so short, but I want to find a computer that will let me send pictures. 

PLEASE feel free to send me letters through!!  My mission is the Brazil Curitiba mission departing JUL22.  DearElder is a free service that will print out and deliver your letters to me so that I can "snail mail" you a reply.  I only have 1 hour per week to email, but I have lots of personal time throughout the week to write actual letters, and I'd reeeeeallly love to hear from my wonderful siblings.

Com amor,
Elder Jason Allred

Week 1 at the MTC

Ola Family!!

It has been such a crazy 10 days here at the MTC, but 10 of the very, very best days.  Sorry this is the first letter I could send you!  Fridays are our P Days, and our first Friday didn't count as one, so this is the first time I've been able to communicate with any of you!

Let me tell you a little about my life here at the MTC.  I LOVE it!  I'm in a "tri-panionship" with Elders Swensen and Manning.  Elder Swensen is 6' 8" and Elder Manning is about 6' 4".  We're a pretty tall companionship! It is so fun being in a threesome with two awesome Elders.  Having two other brains thinking about what to say really helps when teaching lessons and coming up with new ideas and goals.

 Me with my companions, Elder Swensen (blond) and Manning (brown hair)

In my district, there are 13 people.  7 Elders and 6 Sisters.  We are a pretty diverse group, but we all get along really well and have had many tender moments together as we learn and grow.  The first two days were a surreal blur.  As soon as I was whisked away, I got my two name tags, and was taken right up to my room.  After dropping off my bags, we met in our classroom in building 8M, where our teacher, Irmao Lemperle greeted us (in Portuguese) and started us right away with simple salutations and "getting to know you" type phrases.  By the end of the first day, we could say a basic prayer in Portuguese, and by the end of the second day, we could bear a simple testimony.  It is SUCH a neat feeling being in a room with 12 of my brothers and sisters as we all struggle to learn together.  Though we cannot always understand one another's Portuguese, we can understand the language of the Spirit, and the message the Spirit conveys is always beautiful.
 My with my district at the temple :)

I keep getting these mini "visions" or glimpses of what it will be like in Brazil.  I see myself teaching God's children in a foreign land and bringing them the joyous news of the gospel.  I see myself rejoice in their new found happiness and faith.  In one of our meetings, the teacher told us to imagine being in Heaven and being turned around by Christ.  He told us to imagine looking out into the heavens and seeing people walking towards us.  As these people came closer, we would recognize them as those sweet people we brought the gospel to in Brazil.  He said to imagine them coming up to us with tears of gratitude and love in their eyes as they fell to our feet and thanked us for bringing the gospel to them.  I cried!!  I can't imagine anything more fulfilling or beautfil than to see the sweet people I was able to bring to the gospel through the Lord.  ALL I desire is to be an instrument in God's hands and bring souls to Him.  I

Last Friday, we had to teach our first investigator, Geraldo IN PORTUGUESE.  We were all freaking out and very nervous, but our first lesson, though very basic went well.  As we learned more Portuguese throughout the week, we continued to teach Geraldo as a companionship each day, and three days ago, he committed to baptism!!  We couldn't be happier.  There is a saying that keeps floating around the MTC that goes like this, "If you want blessings, be obedient.  If you want miracles, be exactly obedient."  As my companionship and district try our best to be "exactly obedient", we have witnessed miracles like Geraldo happen.  I know that Heavenly Father loves His children and wants to bless them.  I know that as we are obedient to the commandments and the covenants we make, He'll make up the difference.

 Me with my first investigator, Geraldo

Sunday was a great day.  Truly a day of rest!  We all had to prepare a talk in case we were called on in sacrament meeting (thankfully I wasn't) but the messages were beautiful.  We learned about enduring to the end and Christ's Atonement.  Read 2 Nephi 9!  It is such a beautiful chapter that describes the majesty of Jesus Christ's infinite sacrifice for us.  We've been asked to read that everyday in addition to our personal Book of Mormon Study.  We were promised that if we read all of the Book of Mormon from beginning to end by the time we leave the MTC, we will be blessed in our mission language and the language of the spirit.  I love the MTC because if you ever have a sad moment or are feeling down, you are surrounded by thousands of smiles, and beautiful promises and messages of HOPE.  It's easy to worry, but it's even easier to rejoice and have faith to know that as long as you're doing all that you need to be doing, The Lord WILL make up the difference.  It's truly a miracle!  I can't believe how much I've felt the love and encouragement of Heavenly Father.  Here are some highlights from devotionals and speakers that have helped me go on and take comfort:

- Heavenly Father has called ME because he needs ME

- All we have to do is TRUST in Him

- Don't compare yourself with other missionaries.  Doing so will either bolster your pride or tear you down


There is a real excitement about the upcoming announcement this Sunday!  Unfortunately, I came a week too late to be part of the choir :(  Rumor has it that the announcement might be something about service time, China, or a new missionary program.  We'll see!

Sorry that this letter is all over the place!  Time is super limited, and I wanted to write so much more, but know that I love all of you and that I thank Heavenly Father for EACH of you.  I means the world to have so many people supporting me and praying for me.  I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.  I know He is a God of love, tender mercies, and miracles.  I KNOW that this gospel is true.  If I've learned anything here, it is that.  The message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for ALL of God's children.

I love you all so very, very much!  I can't wait until next week to tell you more about the MTC and our two new investigators.  Tchau!

Love, Jason

MTC Bound!

The weeks before leaving were filled to the brim with family, fun, and of course packing.

Packing for two years isn't easy, especially if everything you take has to fit in two suitcases!

Attending the temple with cousin Kailey and several family members May 18th.

Tearful good-byes.:)

June 9th: set apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

June 10th: flying out to Provo, UT to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on June 12th.

Spending time with Mom at the Provo Temple:

It's here! June 12th: about to officially report for a two-year mission.

Ready to go!

Jason's send-off crew: Mom, cousin Bethany, Glenn and Stephen

We love you, Jason, and are so proud of you! Good luck on your mission!