Monday, June 18, 2012

El Fin

Ay fambly!
Cuanto les quiero! I'm so excited to see you and hug the stuffin outta yous. I can't wait to wake up to Elijahisms and baby love. I got Chelsea's email about Audrey...I had no idea that was going on, but it sounds like they've been taking the right steps to learn more and to help their beautiful baby. I'm looking forward to being home. I'm not a huge fan of this intermediate state where I'm gone but not, incredibly happy but sad to leave...ya know?
Big changes are coming to our district... 5 people are leaving but only 3 are coming, so our ward will be back down to 6 missionaries. I think that will be better for our ward, though. Strange as it may sound, we attend to their needs better when there are fewer of us...largely I think because when there are less of us, they are more likely to actually eat WITH us rather than give us dinner and fun away. Also, Hermana Prince is going to train!!! I'm going to be a grandma!! I'm so excited for her. She's going to be absolutely incredible! Hna Quick is receiving Hermana Prince's current companion. That's a huge relief for her because they already know and love each other....and Hna Clayton will only have to move from one room in the apartment to another.
We had some beautiful milagros this week. We had another couple of appointments with Sandy, a young mom who is VERY wise and receptive to the spirit. We have had a hard time connecting with her recently, but this week we taught her about the Restoration and we watched the Restoration movie with her. At the end, we asked her if she thought this story could be true. At first she just said "well, I don't know, I didn't see it happen. Maybe it did...who am I to judge?" but then she began to analyze the ramifications of what it would mean if it were true and referred back to a lesson we had taught her about asking the Lord to know what is Truth. We Invited her to pray about it and we invited her to be baptized. She said YES!!!!! We told her that the gospel is made for families and so we want to be able to teach her husband and children so that they can progress spiritually together. That's fairly risky, since wives rarely progress beyond where their husbands will go, but we felt  that that family goal woul be incredibly important to communicate to her right off the bat. She said, "yes of course....but you know? Maybe even if they're not very interested right away, they'll see my example and follow" Oh my gosh, she's so great! I loved Sorella Smith's phrase, so i think  I'll steal it for Sandy....she's so elect! God has prepared her in such special ways.
Another milagro: our elders met a Pentecostal preacher while we were on a blitz in our area and we've been able to teach him a little about the Book of Mormon. He wanted to know primarily about our religion so that he can teach his congregation what we believe.....We taught him about the Restoration as well and invited him to be baptized. He said no right away, saying "I'm sorry, but I think you're wasting your time with me. I already know about God. I'm on the path. Nothing could take me away from my church." We talked to him a little bit more about knowing FROM GOD, the all-powerful, all loving, omniscient creator of the universe what He wants us to do. We asked "If you KNEW from God that this is His only true church, would you be baptized?" He said "Yes of course." "Then are you willing to ask Him?" "Yes." After explaining a little about having real intent to receive an answer, we promised him that if he was sincere in what he said about following the will of God, he would get an answer.
The hermanas are going back tomorrow to visit and see how his prayer went. The spirit was SO strong in that room. I know that our words were being guiding by the Lord. I'm praying that he will be sensitive enought to the Spirit to be ablet o recognize an answer....and that he has enough real intent to GET that answer.
Church yesterday was really cool, too. Jose Reyes(my first convert) came to church. He was helping our recent convert, Jeovany look up scriptures, understand different points of doctrine, and even directed a small part of the lesson in sunday school. He's almost done with his temple prep classes and he's super excited to go in a month or so. It's such an incredible blessing to see how much his life has changed. I am so grateful that I have been a part of that.
I reread the account of Ammon talking to his brothers in Alma 26. I am so happy that I have been a part of this work and I feel strongly that I can echo his words.
2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?
3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how amany of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made binstruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
I have learned so much during this time. It's one of those life changing, character molding, life intensified experiences that lays the foundation for the rest of my life. I love the people here. I have learned so much about God's love for each of us. I can't believe everything that has happened in the last year and a half. There is no way I would have even lasted a day had it not bee for the Savior's grace. I love him more than I ever have. I feel that I have a better understanding of the role He has and needs to have in my life. I know that living the gospel is what brings us joy. It helps us avoid unnecessary hurt and pain and help stretch us into who we need to be. There is a song that I have fallen in love with and it reminds me of that part in Alma 5 where he talks about feeling to sing the song of redeeming love...
Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.

Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.

O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.
I love God! He's just so wonderful.
Give yourselves a big hug from me and just wait a few more days for the real deal!
I love my mission, I love the gospel, and I love you more than despedidas!
Hermana Manzana

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finishing Up a Great Adventure

(Note from Mom:  Allison is returning to Colorado from her mission on Saturday, June 16th.  Her homecoming talk (sermon) will be at 12:30 pm on Sunday, June 17th at the Timberline Building in Lone Tree, Colorado - call 303-799-1913 for directions if you're interested in attending.  The service is 70 minutes long, and her talk will be about 15 minutes.)
Ay, so much thinking to do! :)
Thanks for the info. I'll take a look at Elder Hales' Conference address and and get to work on my homecoming talk. There's a lot of little loose ends to take care of before I go home, but it'll work out just fine. I've felt your prayers bearing me up again this week....thank you! We had a really good week teaching-wise...we found a bunch of new investigators and we're excited to help them receive the gospel. As for the referral, we had set an appointment with her, but alas, she wasn't home. We have dinner with her friend who gave us her number tonight so we're hopeful to be able to contact her again.
We went knocking yesterday with one of the young women in our ward and had quite a bit of success in finding people with her. We knocked one door at the very end of the day, but right as we knocked, a HUGE German shepherd came around the corner. We kind of freaked out and then ANOTHER ONE came around the corner to stare us down. We were begging and praying that the woman would open the door so that we could escape inside, but when she did, the dogs became very relaxed and even playful. She wasn't interested, but I guess my intro wasn't all that powerful. It's a little difficult when you think a monster dog is going to maul you to bits. Ay.
Side note....I have "Big Rock Candy Mountain" stuck in my head. I miss you Papa.
Thank you for arranging things for me. I appreciate it so so much. I'm excited to go to the dentist! I like the idea of being able to let my body recuperate and actually take care of it. :)
mmmmm que mas? We had a departing missionary training by President Martin in the which he told us his 10 commandments for business success, we talked about life purpose statements, marriage (of course), and how to finish our missions well. I'm excited to teach a ton this last week and really take advantage of the opportunity I have to be in the same calling as people like Alma, Amulek, and Ammon. I have fallen in love with the scriptures and the gospel and I"m so grateful for them in my life. 
Please pray for us to have the Spirit with us so that we can help people come unto Christ! President Martin said something that I really loved: "the Atonement and a repentant heart meet in the baptismal font and that is nothing short of a miracle"
I love my mission president with all my little heart and I pray that they will also be able to have success and joy in these last few weeks of their mission.
I love you more than all the earthquakes Sorella Smith is feeling!
:) (Allison's birthday twin and good friend Hannah Smith is serving in Northern Italy, and has been near the epicenter of many of the earthquakes they have experienced over the last three weeks.  We thought Allison would be the one to experience earthquakes!)
Hermana Manzana

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Ayyyyyy cuanto les quiero! I just love to read your emails. And Hannah's. She's such an amazing missionary and I love to think of her and try to emulate her.
Thank you so so much for your prayers. I love the phrase you used "storming the gates of Heaven" I can't even tell you how much those prayers have helped me. I feel like me again! It was a REALLY good week and we had some truly amazing miracles.
We knocked into this incredible woman who already seems like a relief society president...she just has that air about her. Her name is Nina and she is from Jalisco. She is in the middle of a big project to restore a small cathedral in her hometown in Mexico  so she's got her calling tree to raise money for it. She said she hadn't ever been to our church, but she's seen the San Diego temple and loved it so much that she used the idea of the lights around the spires in the restoration of the cathedral. She put lights all around it so that it would light up the town and be a "beacon of God" as she put it. She said she has ALWAYS wanted to go to the San Diego temple and wants to see inside....we didn't get the chance to tell her more about the temple before the conversation changed, but oh, we will!
THEN she told us that she has read the Book of Mormon before. Not only that, she FINISHED IT and LOVES IT! She has applied principles that she learned from it and has felt the healing effects of the Atonement in her life. She was able to forgive someone who hurt her very deeply and towards whom she held a lot of rancor (is that a word in English?) and she was able to better understand God's will for her mother who is dying. Is this woman not AMAZING??? Also, we started telling her about our church services and when she heard that we take the sacrament every week, she said "I'm going to go to your church. I don't know when, but I will. I've visited a lot of churches, but most of them don't take the eucharist. I need that spiritual nourishment of the bread and water." Ay, she's so great.
BUT she's going to Mexico soon to take care of her mom and she doesn't know when she's coming back. But we prayed with her and she gave us HUGE hugs and asked us to come back soon. 
Also, last night we called a referral that we had received from one of our recent converts to see if we could visit her. We started out talking about who we are, what our purpose is, etc but she shot us down fairly quickly when we asked if we could come to her house and meet her by saying "oh I already have my church, but thanks anyway". We kept talking for a bit and somehow the Spirit guided our conversation to genealogy and then to fasting. We had a really great conversation and we could tell that she really felt the Spirit, so we asked again if we could come by and meet her sometime. BAM! She gave us her address and we set up a time to meet her. MILAGRO!!
We're trying really hard to find new investigators and we're both making really good progress spiritually. Hna Quick is SUPER shy and is working hard to overcome her fears of talking to people and being more internally motivated. She's a really wonderful missionary and she is incredibly perceptive. I love her so much!

While I'm sad that my mission is ending soon and that I won't have this incredible calling or constantly be with my wonderful friends and companions, I am also excited to be with you and bask in your glow. I'm so grateful to Heavenly Father for the blessings and miracles I've seen during this time and for all of the ones yet to come. I'm so grateful for the Atonement and for the scriptures that teach me how to be happy.
I love you more than all the sticky notes used by missionaries!
Love ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reply to "Howdy from Texas"

Dear Fambly,
I'm so glad you've been having so much fun in Austin. It's true that traveling is one of the best passtimes ever but is it exhausting. I guess we are creatures of habit. Please say hello to the Dragon Blaster and tell it that I will see it again someday...
So emotions are still pretty up and down, but I talked to President the other day and he told me to MAKE SURE that I'm keeping myself physically and emotionally healthy. He said that if I think of something that would help me stay sane but is outside of white handbook guidelines, to let him know. And then, by golly, it won't BE outside white handbook guidelines because mission presidents can adjust those as he sees fit! Saturday morning was especially rough..... it felt like Satan was throwing everything in his stupid arsenal to bring me down and just want to stay inside all day. But I figured that if he was working that hard, there must be something super important we needed to do...someone we needed to see. I had a "potty prayer" as Hna Prince terms it, begged for grace and hope, then we went out to work. We met a man named Francisco who was working on a house not too far from our apartment. We asked a couple of questions to get their view of religion, God, etc. Their answers were the usual vague, all-encompassing, zero-demand for personal development ones... "As long as you're being good, God's happy" "God's everywhere. Wherever people talk about Him, He's there." "Just be good to people" "I'm kinda busy for church, but God knows me, I'm not hurting anyone, so I'm ok"
We asked Francisco if he thought that it mattered to God where you go to church, and he said no. Usually, I try to gently nudge people in the right direction by bringing up different doctrines and how you can't please one without offending the other, so which one's right? But I was fairly short on patience, so I just said "It DOES matter. We are His representatives and we're here to tell you that He has a plan for you. He wants you to be happy. He established HIS church to bless you and your family." I actually didn't notice it at the time, but Hna Quick told me later that he started to cry at that point. We left him with a card and the address of the church closest to his house. Later on, we had a blitz in the elders' area. We picked a street but got sidetracked and decided to knock an apartment complex on an adjacent street. The normally-locked gate just swung right open as we walked up to it and we found some really great potential investigators. They all seemed a little hesitant at first but once we prayed with them, they seemed much more comfortable and open. They told us later that someone had been impersonating a Mormon missionary and using that as an "in" to do all kinds of bad things to people in their homes.
I'm a little concerned for what that might mean for us as the legit missionaries....but I'm praying hard that people will use their spidey sense/gut feeling/light of Christ to be able to discern true from false.
Tommy is doing REALLY well. He got a job this week and he's determined to get Sundays off so that he can be here. The ward is thrilled to have him and Jeovany preparing to receive the Priesthood. We have a lot of callings to extend, and they'll do GREAT! As for our other investigators, they're being kind of flaky. We're going to search out some more escogidos ("chosen ones") and help them come closer to God. :)
I'm doing good and taking this time to learn how to rely more on the Savior. President is helping me a lot and Hna Quick is such an angel. I'm so grateful to be a missionary! I love the scriptures and the guidance they offer. Thank you for your prayers and love!
I love you more than all the lessons our zone taught this week!
Hermana Manzana

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's Always Nice to Talk to the Ladies!"

Thank you so much for being my parents! I hope it's okay that I brag about you.... a lot. You're just awesome :)
President called us last night to congratulate us on the baptism...which was WONDERFUL, by the way. Tommy bore super powerful testimony about searching the scriptures and coming to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He's so excited to be put to work in the ward and help others come unto Christ. Anyway, President told us that due to so many sisters going home all at once, he has to close a Spanish sisters' area. He said that he discussed it with the zone leaders but they insisted that they needed all of us in their zone. They said "They only make up 15% of our zone, but they've had 25% of our baptisms!" So I seriously doubt that our area will get the ax, but we'll be praying and working hard to make absolutely certain that they don't touch the NoHo 5to Hermana Bici area. (Note: no idea what this means.)
I LOVED Hannah's letter. It's actually something that we've been working on a lot lately...presenting a plan to Heavenly Father in prayers and then working to make our faith in that prayer plan come to pass. We divided our goals up into monthly and weekly goals and then make promises to God according to how we'll put forth our effort so that He can do His part....we adjust our weekly goals based on our area's need and our efforts according to how to become better missionaries.
It's been helping me grow my faith in the Lord's desires and abilities to make miracles happen and realize that we can have a much greater impact on our circumstances than we comprehend at the moment.
We're also trying to focus more on repentance. Our job is to help people develop a relationship with Heavenly Father by teaching them how to make their lives in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ. In other words: change. We have to help people make changes in their lives. Sometimes they aren't willing to do what's required to have that relationship, but when they are and when they do, they are pleasantly surprised by how much Heavenly Father DOES have and DOES want to bless them. It's so cool!
Anyway, gotta run, not the runs, but I love you more than all the palm trees on Sherman Way!
Hermana Manzana
(Note:  Allison was called "Appleton"...and then "Apple" when she was little, and apple in Spanish is "manzana".  It rhymes! - Mom)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dear Fambly:
I read the second email about Mariah's experiences in India before I read about how and why she's there and it totally blew me away....I was a little confused. That's so awesome though! Man, she's so awesome. She'll be there for her 16th birthday? JEALOUS! I'm excited to hear more about how she's doing.....and to go with her :)
Ya know what else I'm excited for? TALKING TO YOU IN 6 DAYS!!!! We have church from 9-12, so what if I call around 3 our time, 4 your time? I'll coordinate with Hermana Quick and give you a call probably Saturday night to set it all up. It's so soon!! I can't even believe it!
Life is truckin' along...we found a SUPER cool family totally by inspiration this week....we tried to stop to see Melissa, our recent convert, after a lesson on Tuesday but she wasn't home. We started heading back down the stairs, but the roof of a distant building caught our attention (for no apparent reason) so we decided to go knock that house.
Lo and behold, the woman who answered had been praying for guidance to know what to do concerning church and was in need of comfort. We visited with her for about 2 hours, in which she told us all about what she feels should be defining points of the true church of God. Unfortunately, we had to leave shortly, but we set up an appointment for the next day when we met her daughter and her husband. They were very kind and VERY receptive. They had been attending an evangelical church for a number of years but became disappointed by a few of the members. That got them thinking about what should REALLY happen in God's true church and what should be taught...They miss their church very much and feel that it's time to come back to full activity in a congregation, but they feel uneasy about going back to their old church.
We had set up another appointment with them for this weekend, but when we got there, only the daughter was there. We had a number of close calls on the way there (I almost got hit by a car peeling out of the strip club parking lot...go figure) so we figured that Satan really didn't want us to be at that appointment. We stuck around and talked to the daughter for a long time, and even challenged her to pray about Joseph Smith as a prophet and about the Restoration of the Church. Please pray for them to recognize answers to their prayers and to follow the Spirit to do what is right!
Also, Tommy is getting baptized this weekend! Oh shoot, that might interfere with phone calls.....We'll get it worked out.
I love you more than beans and rice!
Con mucho carino,
Hermana Manzana

Monday, April 30, 2012

Love in Our Family

Oh my gosh you two are so stinkin' cute. I just love you.(Reference to a story about Mom&Dad holding hands in Sacrament meeting.)
I'm glad to hear things are going well around the house! where did you put that ornamental bush? I'd love to take a swing (ha. get it?) at the tree. But if you want to get it out now, please feel free. I won't feel gypped in the least.
Today starts my very last transfer in the mission! AAAAHHHHH!!! one of my roommates is going home this week, so it's been pretty weird to see her go through this process....I'm dejunking little by little....I only sent one box to you, FYI, so no need to look for another one in the mail yet.....
My brain shorted out a couple times this week, thanks in part to our elders who are having a grand ol' time helping me accept/encouraging the onset/just making me crazy by constantly talking about being trunky. (trunky=anxious to finally come home/dreading leaving the mission field.) I love them a lot. Most days. After dinner one night, they stole our bikes and left us their car, saying that they had an emergency that they needed our bikes for. We were all kinds of confused but met them at the church about 20 minutes later. Turns out they did it so that we could have a break and we wouldn't have to ride all the way to the church.
Also, Hermana Quick and I are staying together!! Hooray!!
We met a really cool family this week who had been taught by the Hermanas about 3 years ago. They lost contact with them when the family went to Mexico, but they have been reading from the Book of Mormon fairly consistently as a family and praying together as a family every night since then. How amazing is that? They're so sweet. We haven't met the husband yet, but he's excited to meet with us. We've started teaching another man named Jacinto who used to be a leader in an evangelical church but is looking to come closer to God after 15 years away from any church. He says he feels really good about our church and has been to 2 baptisms and church twice. AWESOME!! Also, Vanessa REALLY wants to be baptized, so she said that she's going to talk to Marlo about getting married soon so that we can help them progress spiritually. Betty doesn't want to be baptized again because she doesn't see the point, since she's been baptized 2times. we'll need to cover priesthood authority and the restoration again. We're finding so many people who are SO READY!! I LOVE IT!
I love you more than subjunctive form!
Hermana Manzana