Monday, October 27, 2014

Pictures!!!

Michael sent pictures this week. (A wonderful surprise for mom!) Some are from the MTC and some are from his first area. 

In front of the Provo Temple

With one of his roommates, Elder Kovac

MTC companion, Elder Higgins

Elder Burcl-Gonzales
His MTC District
(He said everyone in his district was awesome!)

With Bro. Chambers, a member of the MTC branch presidency
Being picked up at the Charleston Ariport
(You can see half of Michael's head in the back left of the photo. Lol)

The newest missionaries in the West Virginia Charleston Mission!

With is trainer, Elder Buttars

Home, Sweet, Home for the next 6+ weeks

Doing a service project at Elkhorn Park on his first P-day
He's with Elder Cluff, Elder Wheeler (the wheelbarrow lol) and Elder Buttars








Week 1: Adapting and Learning

October 27, 2014

Dear Family,

Hey, everyone! Thank you so much for the e-mails and letters. I'm really happy to hear that everyone is doing okay back in good old Spokane, Washington. I also want to thank you for keeping me in your prayers. I am definitely going to need them everyday while I'm here.

Speaking of which, as you all know, by now I'm with my trainer and in my first area. My first area is Martin, Kentucky. It's a really pretty town with great scenery. The population is small but the houses are spread far apart, so we have to drive around the town a lot.

As for sitting next to the Jensens on the flight, it was a miracle. Mom, I'm really glad that you said that prayer to Heavenly Father that I would sit next to someone who was kind. The Jensens were the nicest couple that I've met. We just happened to bump into each other while we were boarding the flight. I was the first one to get on so I wasn't expecting to see them again. But then, to my surprise, I saw them walking down the aisle and they sat next to me. It was amazing. They were just so nice and talked to me while also being patient while I was just trying to pull myself together. I'm so grateful for them and Heavenly Father. He truly was looking after me. Through the Jensens and everyone else who wished us good luck on our missions, the Lord was letting me know that He was watching over me and that everything was going to be okay.

Going back to my first area, I'm in Martin, Kentucky (Floyd County). I'm living in a trailer. The name of the ward is the Martin 1st Ward. They are a great ward. They're just so kind and down to earth. My trainer's name is Elder Buttars. He's from Vancouver, Washington. He's only been out for 4 1/2 months. Hopefully, we can get this area and mission stuff figured out soon. For now, just keep me in your prayers.

Well, that's it for now. I love you all and I'll keep you in my prayers. Take care everyone.

Love,
Elder Alley

Note from Michael's mom: 
I Googled it and Martin, KY has a population of 633. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin,_Kentucky 

They are also "famous" for their Red, White & Blue Days. :)
http://www.redwhiteandbluedays.com/

I Made It!

October 21, 2014

Dear Family,

I made it! I made it to West Virginia! Me and the other missionaries are currently at the Mission President's home and we are all given a chance to use his computer to send e-mails home. I got to say that it was a miracle that we even got here at all. One of the elders in my district took a while to get ready and I thought that we were going to miss the bus. However, for some reason the bus ran a little late, so it was a blessing. We made it to the airport on time, but then our second flight got delayed due to some maintenance issues. Luckily, we all made it here safely and were just a few minutes late. 

I have to admit that I'm still struggling with homesickness. I didn't mean to break down on the phone but it just felt so good to hear a familiar voice again, especially mom's voice. However, if the MTC has taught me anything is that as long as I stay focused on the journey as a missionary and think about nothing else but that which is happening now, the homesickness will not be overpowering. I also need to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and believe that He knows what I'm going through and that He also knows how the Atonement can help me overcome this homesickness.

I just want all of you to know that I love you all so much. I have a testimony that missionary work is the Lord's work and He knows how it should be done. Please keep me in your prayers. Take care everyone.

Love,

Elder Alley

A Tender Mercy

Elder Alley's "Miracle Seat-mates" 

October 21, 2014

(This entry is from Michael's mom.) I wanted to share this experience because it shows what a great love our Heavenly Father and Savior have for us. It's proof that they are mindful of each of our situations and stand ready to help and bless us.

I really didn't think I'd get a call from Michael at the airport. We'd sent him a phone card, but he'd let us know that he might not use it. He's been pretty homesick and he thought talking to us on the phone might make it worse. He said he would only call if he thought he could get a handle on his emotions. I was really sad that Michael might not call, but I understood. (If he didn't call, that was going to make my record 1 for 3 with missionary airport calls. NOT the record I wanted. ...still too soon to talk about Max's missed call...)

So I was overjoyed when the phone rang around 5am and I could see on the caller ID that it was from the SLC airport. Michael had a hard time composing himself when I first answered, but after I started asking him questions and got him talking about the MTC he was good. Sounds like he had a great experience at the MTC. After a bit I heard an announcement in the background and Michael said they were getting ready to board for the flight to Atlanta, so he had to go. He started getting really choked up again and so did I. (I tried to be strong for his sake, but I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job.) As soon as we hung up, I got on my knees and said a prayer. I asked Heavenly Father to comfort him and to please seat him next to someone who was kind. 

Later that day I came home to find a message from Grandma Alley on our answering machine. As soon as I listened to it, I started crying. (Gosh, I'm doing A LOT of that these days.) ;) This was such a tender mercy on the Lord's part. There were too many things that had to come into place for this to just be a "coincidence" or a "what a small world" kind of deal. This was a direct answer to prayer and I am so grateful. Here's part of the email that Grandma Alley sent out later about this:

When I got home from my TOPS meeting and physical therapy appointment today I found a message on the phone from some old friends....... the Jensens.  The Jensens were our very close friends in Enid. The message from Bro. Jensen was telling me that he was on a flight to Atlanta and was sitting next to my grandson!!!  He saw about a dozen missionaries walking through the SLC airport and noticed the ALLEY name tag  and asked him where he was from.....then if he was related to Mike & Caryn Alley and of course Michael said he was Michael Lewis Alley, III -- so they visited a bit and then after boarding, it just happened that Bro. Jensen was sitting next to Michael so they got to visit more. Isn't it amazing what a SMALL WORLD it is.  I'm happy Michael got to meet a couple that was so special to us so many years ago.  
Love,
Grandma

I know the Lord watches over His missionaries. I know he gives each one of them what they need for success in the mission field, if they do their part. As they struggle with homesickness or a new language or cancelled appointments or tracting, etc. I know that the Lord is right there with them every step of the way. I can feel Him watching over all of my missionaries and I see evidence of Him answering prayers. 
---Michael's Mom

Monday, October 20, 2014

This is It!



October 20, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey, Max, Ashley, and whoever else that reads this,


Weekly Housekeeping (Note from Nikki: These are answers to questions I send him each week.):


1) My companion's name is Elder Higgins and my two other roommates/companions of my district are Elder Kovac and Elder Burcl-Gonzalez. We're all going to West Virginia. Elder Higgins is from Southern California, wants to be a computer programmer, and loves Japanese culture. Elder Kovac is from Switzerland (though born in America, might be Utah), loves to play chess, and is fluent in both German and English. Elder Burcl-Gonzalez is from Huntington, West Virginia (big surprise to all of us!) and is a really nice guy.


2) Yes, I am proud to say that I took a good amount of pictures here in the MTC. Most of them have me in it, I promise. (Note from Elder Alley's mom: The pics in this post were added after her returned home from his mission and I finally had access to all his pics!)

3) I'll do my best to call you guys before my flight leaves, if I can control myself. I reviewed my travel itinerary and my flight doesn't leave until 7:10 A.M. So I'll call you either before that time or during my layover. If for some reason you don't get my call, don't worry about it.

4) Yes, I am the Travel Leader for my group. I'm praying that I won't get any more leadership positions after this.

Man, this week has just felt like a whirlwind. One moment I'm sitting in class either taking notes, doing role plays, or talking to investigators who visit our classes and the next thing I know I'm getting to go on a morning flight to West Virginia. The best way to describe it is this: the days are long but the weeks are short.

Anyway, I'm really proud of Aubrey and mom for another victory in the chili cook-off. Go Team Alley!


I also hope that those two kittens feel better soon. Poor little guys.

I wish I could write more but I got a lot of stuff to get done before tomorrow. But don't ever forget that I love you all and I pray for you every day and every night. Take care everyone. I'll see you in two years.



Love,

Elder Alley 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Still Alive & Kicking! (First Email from the MTC)

Ran into Elder Hardy in the MTC :)

Dakota Moses was at the Provo Temple grounds when I was there

October 13, 2014


Dear Alley Clan,

Hey guys! How´s it going on your side of the world right now? I guess I should start off by answering mom´s housekeeping e-mail questions.

1) Thank you so much for letting me know about  the phone card, but please understand that if I don´t call home, it´s because I´m trying to overcome my homesickness. But never forget that I love you all with all my heart.

2) My flight plan is that I leave early in the morning on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. If I have enough control over myself, I´ll call home somewhere between 2:30 and 3:30.

3) Yes, I did get the Missionary Mall Sweater.

Now for my actual e-mail.

Thank you all so much for your letters and MTC Survival Kit. They were awesome. Mom, you just made yourself popular in the eyes of the elders of my district. These guys are awesome! My companion´s name is Elder Higgins and my other two roommates are Elder Kovac and Elder Burcl-Gonzalez. Great guys.

Aubrey, I cant believe that you got two kittens. I guess one just wasn´t enough. Ha ha. Still, they are cute. I hope they keep you company.

As for my overall experience here in the MTC. It´s definitely been an emotional roller coaster for me. Nevertheless, I´m doing fine and I really have felt the Spirit really strong here each time we got focused on studying the gospel and how to teach it. Oh, did I mention that I got called to be the new Zone Leader on my second day here? Man, talk about hastening the work. Anyway, I wish I could tell you everything that I learned but that would make this email longer than it already is.

I just want to let you guys know that I love you all and I´m doing alright. It´s definitely a new lifestyle that is going to take some getting used to, but I believe that the Lord will help me through it. Keep praying for Ashley, Max, Jacob, and me. 

Love,
Elder Alley

P.S. Hurrah for Israel! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow


The bags are packed. Three suitcases and one missionary bag. His brother got away with two suitcases, but you don't need bulky winter gear in Vegas. ;)
Final moments on the Provo Temple grounds before we leave Elder Alley at the MTC
Her third sibling to leave on a mission in four months. Poor little Aubrey. 
She's been a trooper (and talk about a faithful letter writer! If you're a missionary, 
you want her to have your address.) :)
This is the picture where mom is chanting in her head: 
"Don't cry. Don't cry. Be strong for Michael." 
Aubrey couldn't hide how sad she was for Michael to be going.
Getting last hugs in
Elder Alley is ready to go. Give 'em heaven, Elder!
video
Hurrah for Israel!

Outside the MTC five hours after dropping Michael off. 
Aubrey gave her last goodbye before we headed to the airport.

From Elder Alley's Mom:
You’d think dropping off our third missionary in four months would be a piece of cake (been there, done that…twice already actually) but it was the hardest send off of the three. Michael is our homebody. He’s our sweet, always helpful, always positive, always there kid.  OK, he’s not actually a kid anymore, but it's hard for me to not think of him as my little boy…which is why I have to let him go on his mission because as his mom I’ve always tried to make his life a little easier, since it’s always been so hard. I’ve protected him (and OVERprotected at times, yes I am aware of that) his whole life. I know he's capable of doing hard things (he's proved that time and again) but it's hard as his mom to send him off to such a challenging venture.

The only reason I can do this is because I know this is what the Lord wants Michael to do and that He will provide a way for him to do it. I know that Michael has great faith and that he’ll use that faith to move mountains in West Virginia, if needed. (His mom just needs to work on getting that faith, too!)

I felt such peace after the blessing our stake president gave Michael at his setting apart. He was promised so many things. I wish I could remember them all, but I just got an overall feeling that the Lord is so mindful of Michael and that he’ll be there with him every step of the way.
When it came to drop off time, I wavered a bit when I saw Aubrey get sad and Michael tear up and I just about lost it completely when he turned around and shouted, “Hurrah for Israel!” (A few days earlier, we had talked about when Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were leaving for their mission to Great Britain and they were leaving sick wives and destitute families and they themselves were so sick they were laying down in a wagon to leave. Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young had the teamster stop so they could rise up and shout, “Hurrah, hurrah for Israel!” so their families would be left with a good image and some measure of comfort. Michael was struck by how those brethren were thinking about how their families felt instead of just worrying about themselves.) I know when he shouted, “Hurrah for Israel!” Michael was thinking about how we were feeling and letting us know he was going to be ok. That's so Michael. Always thinking about others first.

So now we anxiously wait for the first email from the MTC as the adventures of Elder Alley begin.

Hurrah for Israel!