Monday, October 26, 2015

Happy Halloween!

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Elder Alley's District

Flatwoods Branch Halloween Party at the Paughs

October 26, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey and all my Peeps,

Happy Halloween everybody! I know that it's a little early but transfers is next week so I won't be e-mailing until next Wednesday. Just wanted to send you holiday greetings while I still got the chance. ;)

Now, you're all probably wondering what happened to me this week. Well, this week has been an amazing and busy week for Elder Jarman and I. In fact, I already reported about this in my e-mail to our Mission President. Just a heads up, if anything interesting has happened during the week and I report it President Salisbury, I'll just copy and paste what I wrote to him to my e-mail to you guys. I know, I know, I'm a lazy writer. Lol ;) But cut me some slack, I can only talk about the same story in so many ways so many times ;) So here's what I wrote:

"My report for the work here in Flatwoods is that this week has been an amazing and busy week for us. I've been applying your advice of having "natural curiosity" about other people during our tracting this week. One experience that I'll share is that we tracted into this woman named "I". As we talked with her and got to know her a little bit, she mentioned that she has been a Christian since she was 24 years old. When I heard that, the spirit immediately prompted me to ask her how she came to discover Jesus Christ since she wasn't a Christian her whole life. I'm glad I did because she then told us about her conversion story which opened a way for us to teach her about the Restoration. It was amazing! Even though she told us that she wasn't interested in learning more about the our message, it was still an amazing experience for me."

"Another cool event for me was the miracle of finding a less-active member named J. To make a long story short, we just happened to run into J when we were street contacting and after talking with some members who knew him and looking through the branch directory, we finally found out who he was and reported our discovery to our branch president. He even made some phone calls to find his address and took us with him to find him. If this doesn't count as a miracle and a tender mercy from the Lord, then I don't know what is. This was a cool experience for me because not only did we get to work with the members and branch president to find this "lost sheep" but I also felt like a detective after that. Needless to say, I had a lot fun writing about this in my journal."

This was definitely one for my personal record books. I'm glad everyone is having a good time over in good ole Spokane, Washington. I always loved Spokane during the Fall season. West Virginia is beautiful during the Fall season, too, but to be honest, changes in seasons just look more beautiful when you're in your hometown. Which is why I want to ask you all to keep me in your prayers. My homesickness has started to kick in recently. It's not bad, it's just that I really hate spending holidays without you guys. Which is one thing that I'm not going to miss when I come back home: spending holidays away from home. Anyway, if you would all just keep me in your prayers, that would be awesome. Please and thank you.

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


Elder Michael Alley

PS The Listening Program is amazing! I've fit it into my schedule where I can listen to it before going to bed. Which is a good thing because this program wears you out mentally. Still, this program is awesome.

Monday, October 19, 2015

From West Virginia with Love

Would you like to learn more about Heavenly Father's plan for you? ;)

October 19, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey and all my peeps ;),

Man, oh man. In all honesty, this transfer just seems to be flying by so fast ever since I celebrated my Hump Day. Now I know what Dad meant when he told me Grandpa's advice, "Each day just goes a little bit faster than the previous one." I promise to do my best to keep you all updated on my adventures here in the WVCM (West Virginia Charleston Mission) but some of my stories will have to wait until I get back home. By that time, I'll have two journals full of stories to tell. So don't worry, the best is yet to come ;)

Before I tell you all about my highlight for the week, let me start off by answering Mom's questions:

*1 & 2) I have talked to Allison T about the Listening Program. We will start the program tonight, where we will talk about which Listening Schedule will be best for me. However, I did listen to "Achieve Preparation" songs from the Listening Program. Basically, it's a song file that's made to give participants a sample of what the songs are like. I listened to them already and they are awesome! Not only do I have liking for classical music now, but I also have this strange desire to learn how to play the violin. I may not be the next Lindsey Stirling but I can still dream can't I ;) Lol! Anyway, we'll get the ball officially rolling tonight and I'll tell you more about it in my next e-mail. So stay tuned.

**3) Yes, I did burn a shirt for my halfway mark. I also burned a tie for that occasion because I didn't get to do it for my quarter mark. I'm sorry if I made everyone worried about this action of mine. I know that this was not my usual style but it was something that I've been thinking about doing. It was one of those rare moments of mine when I decided to do something out of character, just so that I can prove to myself that I can be fun guy. I just wanted to prove that I'm not "All Work & No Play". I'm sorry if I made everyone concerned. I promise that I won't get reckless next time.

Now for my report for the week. This was actually a good week for me. So good that I reported to my Mission President. Here's what I wrote:

" personal highlight was seeing my improvement as a missionary. For a while, I've been struggling to talk to people about the gospel because I'm just not a good conversationalist. So, later in the week, I decided to ask Elder Jarman to help me with door approaches by role-playing during our companionship study. I'm really glad we did because we realized that we need to ask effective questions as we talk with people at their doorsteps. So, we spent most of our evenings tracting some streets that neither of us had been on and put what we learn to the test. While we may have only a handful of potential investigators, it was still cool to see how my ability to talk and ask questions has improved. I'm really grateful for Elder Jarman's help. His Start, Stop, & Continue evaluation has been very instrumental in my progress."

This is just my personal highlight for the week. There were other good things that happened but this was my personal favorite.

Well, I think that's everything. I hope things are going well in good ole Spokane, Washington. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

*Explanation from Elder Alley's mom: Michael has been in the same area with the same companion for three transfers now. He finally confided to his companion about his frustrations with his cognitive disorder during discussions. An investigator would ask a question, but since it takes Michael so long to process things by the time he had formulated an answer the discussion had already moved on. This was so frustrating for Michael. His companion's mom is a social worker who also specializes in communication disorders and, with Michael's permission, his companion passed my contact info on to her. We talked on the phone and she told me she several years ago she found this Listening Program which involves listening to this specially engineered classical music twice a day that is supposed to help train the brain and facilitate the communication process. She has recommended it to many of her clients and seen great progress. It's facilitated by a speech therapist and Michael got permission from his mission president to do the program and arrange for a long distance phone consult with a speech therapist in Salt Lake once a week. It's a five month program. He starts this week and we are praying this helps him out. His mission president revealed that he typically doesn't keep companionships together for more than 2 transfers, but he felt strongly that Michael and his companion needed to be together for one more. Maybe this is part of the reason why. 

**I'd commented in my email back to him last week that I was surprised he had done the mission tradition of burning a shirt because it's kind of a reckless thing to do and so it seemed out of character for him. I guess he took it to mean that I was worried that he'd done that. I wrote him back this week and assured him I wasn't worried about him. In fact, I was happy to see him letting loose a little. I know burning a shirt isn't the most mature (or safest haha) thing to do, but I was happy Michael did it because it's part of the mission tradition and I wanted him to have that. He is so "by the book" as a missionary that sometimes I worry he is too serious and missing out on some "legal" opportunities to relax and have fun. 

Monday, October 12, 2015


                                                       Pics of the Hump Day package
Do you know what day it is? Hump Da-ay!
One year mark!!! I made it!!!

October 12, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey and all my Family & Friends,

Wow! Can you believe it? I am halfway done! Finally made it over the hump! Thank you so much for the Hump Day Package. It was awesome! I'll make sure to send you the pictures of the camel hat and burning of the shirt in my next e-mail (I forgot to bring to my camera and cord with me. Sorry). Also, be sure to thank Elder Jarman because he actually took me out to an all-you-can-eat place and paid for both him and me to celebrate my Hump Day. It was really cool for him to do that.

Well, now that one year of my missionary service has gone by, I want to share my thoughts and feelings with you about my experience. To be honest (and I'm sure that you've heard this from missionaries before), being a missionary is one of the, if not the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Before I did the paperwork for it, I knew that there would be some challenges to being a missionary, but I thought to myself that I would handle those challenges with ease simply because I read the Book of Mormon three times. I then got this idea that, because of my knowledge of the Book of Mormon, doing the mini-mission and going to church, I would get investigators left and right by wowing them with my knowledge. In other words, I imagined myself being the invincible superman of missionary work.

However, after doing this for one year, I have to confess that I am not that invincible superman of missionary work. Being a missionary is definitely a lot easier said than done. I don't always know what to say to people, I get headaches from trying to control my frustrations towards things (situations, people, etc.), I get easily nervous when meeting new people  for the first time (street contacting and door knocking), and, most importantly, I hate being separated from my family. I admit that at times serving a mission feels more like serving a prison sentence because I have to leave all my personal affairs behind. It's just that hard.

However, I can and will testify that my faith, testimony and conversion to our Savior Jesus Christ and His Gospel have increased exponentially because of this mission experience. I love reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. In fact, personal study time has become my favorite part of the day. My prayers to our Heavenly Father have changed from repetitive sentences to conversations with Him. I love going to church and partaking of the Sacrament and fell sad when it's time to leave. I have also made a lot of friends out here in the mission field, members and non-members. 

I hope that by reading this e-mail, you'll know that while I do struggle with being a missionary sometimes, I know that I made the right decision to come out here. I really feel like I have a closer relationship with Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. I feel like They have made me a better me.

I hope this ramble of mine makes sense to you. Always remember that I love you all and miss you all. I'll see you all in one year. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley   

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Love General Conference!

I get to see some beautiful scenery out here.

October 5, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey, and all my Family & Friends,

Let me just start off by saying what I mentioned in my title, "I LOVE GENERAL CONFERENCE!" Weren't those sessions amazing! I can't tell you how much inspiration I felt as I listened to our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and the Apostles speak to us. If I could, then this e-mail would become a novel. For now, just know that, since being a missionary, I love General Conference. We, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, really are blessed to have prophets, seers and revelators who receive revelation from our Heavenly Father so that we can guided in these days. We don't need to fear the darkness in the world because we have the Light of the Gospel that always dispels it.

As much as I hate to say this but this e-mail is going to be a short one. My companion Elder Jarman has been having some trouble with one of his knees and we're getting it looked at today in a hospital in Weston, WV. I'm hoping that it's nothing serious, but please keep him in your prayers. Also, not much has happened this week since we didn't get truck back until Thursday. We did try to stay busy but there really wasn't much we could do. There's only one or two areas within walking and biking distance but they've been tracted out multiple times by past missionaries. The other areas, you need a car to get there safely. I'm sorry that this e-mail isn't very exciting but I promise that I'll make up for it in my next e-mail.

Just a heads up, since this Thursday is my year mark, my next e-mail is going to be me expressing my thoughts about my mission experience so far. It's something that I've been thinking about for a while and wanted to write about. So, I hope you don't mind if I share some thoughts with you in that e-mail. Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up.

I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley