Monday, July 27, 2015

To Lose Yourself is to Gain a Knowledge of Jesus Christ

A river runs through it...
but it's not supposed to. haha
Elder Jarman fording the river/street 
Elder Alley smack dab in the middle of his "Adventures on Salt Lick Road"
Elder Alley's current home away from home
(Note from Elder Alley's mom: He didn't specify which apartment was his, but I'm guessing it's not the one with a cute wreath on the door. haha)
View from his apartment
Another view

July 27, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey and all of my family & friends,

This week has been another week of tracting, but it was worth it. Why? Because I now have another funny story to share! Here's what happened: one day we were tracting on this one road in Flatwoods called Salt Lick Road where we were exploring to find any houses with people we could teach the Gospel to. We did find a few potential investigators but the real story is when we came to a part of the road that was flooded over due to all the rain and flash flooding we had over the last couple of weeks. Elder Jarman and I looked at the body of water and judged it to be about only knee-deep. So, we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and walked across the impromptu river. It was a little tricky because some of the rocks that we were stepping on were loose and unstable but we made it without getting completely wet and losing our stuff! 

I felt proud of that accomplishment because I thought that we were showing the Lord just how committed we are to finding people, even if we have to cross a river! Unfortunately, when we got to the other side, we saw other parts of the road that also got flooded over and they looked like they were getting deeper and deeper. So, we decided to turn back and call it a day (it was almost curfew) before we got into a risky situation. Oh well. It was still fun to write about it in my journal. I even named that day "The Adventures on Salt Lick Road!" The best part is that you'll see pictures of it in the e-mail titled "Adventures in Flatwoods." Enjoy. :)

To explain the title, one thing that I've noticed since coming out on this mission is that I now have a love for the scriptures. It's amazing because I only remember reading a handful books (most of them were assignments from school) and the only other times that I've done some serious reading is when it came to articles on martial arts and other topics of interest before coming out here. I've read the scriptures before but mostly out of obligation to my family and teachers. Now, I love reading the scriptures! Personal Study time is my favorite time of the day! I love the Book of Mormon and its simple teachings! I've also come to love the New Testament and seeing how our Savior Jesus Christ was, in missionary terms, always finding and always teaching! I've also come to love the words of our living Prophets and Apostles, especially from General Conference! I've come to notice the spiritual nourishment and strengthening that comes from reading the scriptures and listening to the Prophets and Apostles. It's because of them that I now know the Savior better than I did before.

With that in mind, I want to leave with you my testimony that has grown since being a missionary. I know that Jesus Christ lives! I know that He is our Savior and Redeemer! I know that both the Book of Mormon and Bible testify of Him. I know that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God who saw the Father and the Son. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon through the gift and power of God! I know that the Book of Mormon is true. In the words of Elder Holland who quoted his great-grandfather, "No wicked man could write such a book. And no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded by God." I say these things in name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

I love you all and miss you all. 

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley   

PS Yes, I did get a package from MomMom about a month ago. I just never got the chance to thank her yet. Would you be willing to do that for me? Thank you.

Also, I have actually just read something about the "My Plan" program last week when Elder Jarman and I were doing our time. To be honest, I'm excited about it! I can't wait to see what I'll get to do with the program!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Still Kicking & Believing!

A snapping turtle. Possible investigator?

July 20, 2015

Man, this week was definitely hard but it came with great miracles from God. The challenge was that, as a mission, we went over our monthly miles limit last month. I'm not completely sure how this miles limit works, but the mission office has been busy with trying to get this problem fixed and organized. To help them avoid this issue again, we received word that miles originally excused (such as traveling to meetings) were no longer excused. As a result, Elder Jarman and I did a lot of walking and tracting this week. Personally, I really don't mind walking because Flatwoods really is a pretty looking area. It's just the humidity that I don't like. Oh well, it is what it is. As Dad, uncles, and friends have said to me, "the harder you work, the hotter your wife." Well, I hope my future wife will appreciate the hard work I'm putting out here. #DoingThisForYouBabe ;) haha. Anyway, we did get some new and potential investigators out of the deal, so hopefully we can meet with them and start teaching them more.

The biggest highlight for me though was our interview with President Salisbury. Again, I'm so grateful to be serving under the leadership of President Salisbury! He really does care about us missionaries and everything he says just inspires me to do better. 

Well, I think that's everything. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Michael Alley

P.S. While waiting for Elder Jarman to be done with his interview, I introduced Sister Salisbury to the website. Her son was returning from his mission and she wanted to make something for him. #BlessingsFromChefMom ;) Love you Mom.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What Just Happened?

Elder Jarman

When it rains, you get wet. ;)

Meet Coach Cowen. He has a list of rules when you are transferred to Cowen.
Follow them carefully. :D

July 13, 2015

Dear Family & Friends,

How's it going, y'all? Mom and Aubrey, I'm so jealous of you that you got to go to Nauvoo. Judging by the pictures and e-mail, it looks like everyone had a blast. When I return home, can we go visit some historical church sites? Since being out here in the mission, I developed a desire to go visit areas where the Prophet Joseph Smith was at. Pretty please? :) Thanks.

Now, you're probably wondering why I titled this e-mail as "What Just Happened?". To be honest, this week just felt like a blur. I think the best the way to describe it is that I know we did something but I'll need to look at my journal again. ;) I guess it's because not a lot has happened. The work is just moving a little slow. Oh well, Flatwoods is a pretty looking area anyway, so I've got a nice scenery to keep me in a good mood. 

There is one highlight that I'm proud of. Elder Jarman and I got to give some priesthood blessings to an investigator and a less-active. These children of God were about to have to some surgery and they were really nervous about it, so we offered to give them blessings to comfort them. It was amazing. The investigator was in tears after we blessed him. It was amazing!

Who is Elder Jarman? He is about 19 years old and from Sandy, Utah. He's been out for almost a year. He also likes soccer and Pokemon. While I may not understand his sense of humor, I'm really glad to have him as a companion. He's been helping me to teach more effectively during our role-plays.

Well, I think that's everything. Until next time. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

P.S. Mom, I also tear up whenever I think about the day I left for the MTC. It was a bittersweet moment for me as I looked back and realized that it would two years before we could be together again. Still, I know that this is where I need to be. I love you and miss you. Take care Mom.   

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy Late Independence Day!

Elder Alley is actually living in Sutton, West Virginia. It's about five
times bigger than Flatwoods with a population of 994. ;)

Main Street in Sutton
Braxton County Courthouse
Beautiful scenery in Sutton

July 6, 2015

Dear Family,

Happy late Independence Day! I'm really glad that y'all had a fun time at the lake. I'm also glad that the Spokane fireworks were also still going strong. Way to go Spokane!

Man, as always, transfer weeks are such weird weeks. Especially if you're the one being transferred. As my Mom and any of my family members can testify, changes just don't come natural for me. Oh well, it is what it is.

Now to answer Mom's questions. Flatwoods, WV is a beautiful looking area. In many ways, it actually looks and feels a lot like Martin, KY, the first area that I served in. The only differences is that the communities and houses are a little more spread out (so staying under miles is going to be a challenge), I'm living in a townhouse instead of a trailer (it's a super nice apartment) and I'm serving in a branch instead of a ward (sweet!). I don't know much about this "1952 Monster Incident" but there was a sign that said "Flatwoods: Home of the Green Monster." Sweetness! Maybe I can somehow use it to find new investigators ;) I'm not sure how, but it's worth hoping for. I think I'm going to like it here.

For the 4th of July, Elder Jarman and I went to a town called Gassaway and there was event called Gassaway Days (it lasted from Thursday to Saturday). It was really just a small carnival event with places to eat and some bands playing music. Pretty much like what we got in River Front Park. We didn't really participate in it but it was fun to see the dancers and bands playing.

Before I close, I want to ask everyone for a favor. Would you all please pray for a boy named Gatlin Bentley? He's a friend of mine from back in Martin, KY who's having problems with his spinal fluid. Please pray for Gatlin and all of the Bentley family that they will be comforted and strengthened during this trial. Thank you all so much.

Well I think that's everything. Take care y'all. I love you all and miss you all. 

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

Note from Elder Alley's mom: He sent me his new address, but when I typed it into my address book on the USPS website, it didn't recognize the address, so something is off. Until I figure it out, you can just send mail to the mission office and they'll forward it to him. (You always have that option.)

Elder Michael Alley
West Virginia Charleston Mission
888 Oakwood Road, Suite 310
Charleston, WV 25314-2071

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Changes in the Air!

Saying goodbye to Parkersburg friends like Cody Collins

Emmie and Mark Shoemaker

The Blaire Family
Bro. & Sis. Thorn

Dear Family,

First off, I want to give a special shout out to Mom and Aubrey for toughing it out at Girls' Camp. Way to go you two! Believe me, I understand what you two went through. I have been to a few camp outs and, as fun as they were, I can honestly say that I'm not an outdoor person. I love the comforts inside a building too much as well. So whenever I say that I like being "outside", I don't mean "outside in the woods" ;) Still, please note that I did have lots of fun on the camp outs that I've been on. Young Men's Leaders like Bro. Sweeney, Bro. Egan, Bro. Hardy, and many others are always the ones that make it worth it.

Now, you're probably wondering what's happening for this transfer. The results: I am getting transferred to Flatwoods, WV and my new companion will be Elder Jarmon! I admit that I was little surprised by the news because my guess was that I would be here in the Parkersburg North area for at least three transfers. Oh well, I'm actually looking forward to the changes. As much as I like to keep most things in a constant routine, I also like getting a fresh start on things especially when it comes to missionary work.

Other than that, not much has happened this week. This week consisted mostly of us doing service for a part-member family, visiting former investigators and other members on the roster (or trying to, if they're home) and me saying goodbye to the friends I've made here. My personal highlight is getting to take a picture with them. One of them even gave me a new journal as a going away gift and another threw me a pizza party! It was awesome! As I told President Salisbury in my last e-mail, "I guess it was the Lord's way of telling me that I have done some good here."

Well, I think that's everything. I hope y'all are having fun in good ole Spokane, WA. Take care y'all. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

From Elder Alley's Mom:
He doesn't have his new address yet, but here's some info on Flatwoods, WV

1. Population: 227 He'll be happy to be back in a small town. That's what he likes best. :),_West_Virginia

2. It's right in the geographical center of West Virginia. Here's a Google Maps street view of the main road through town.

3. It's "famous" for the 1952 Flatwoods Monster incident. (Great campfire story!) 

4. It's also home to West Virginia's only outlet mall. ;) (A fact I'm sure does not interest Elder Alley in the least. haha)