Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day!

Taking a post meeting lunch hour break

February 29, 2016

Dear Alley Family & Friends,

Happy Leap Day everyone! Wow! Can you believe that we already heading into March? I was looking at the calendar this morning and a thought hit me that said, "Tomorrow will be the month of March, then the April General Conference will come, then it will be your Jump Day, then it will be Mother's Day (when I get to Skype home for the last time) and then, before I know it, I'll be home! Yowza!" I promise that I'm not trunky (missionary code word for "seriously homesick"), I'm still focused on the missionary work. It's just that it's really mind blowing to me how quickly my missionary service is coming to an end. Man, oh man.

Well, this week here in the mission field we had a stake missionary meeting (a meeting for both full-time and ward missionaries who are in the Clarksburg Stake) and stake conference. Let me tell you, it was awesome! President Salisbury (our Mission President), his wife and Elder Bennett of the Seventy spoke to us in both sessions. There were many things that stood out to me in those meetings but one message that I want to share with you is that members and missionaries need to develop a partnership in spreading the Lord's gospel. In the missionary meeting, both President Salisbury and Elder Bennett talked about how missionaries and members need to be united and working together if we are to be effective in spreading the gospel and President Salisbury brought this up again in Stake Conference. In the mission meeting, Elder Bennett told us a story of a time when he was running a marathon and he saw two elder missionaries on the side. When he ran by them, he raised up his hand and yelled out to them, "Elders, the gospel is true!" Then the person running next to him asked him, "What are elders and what is the gospel?" Elder Bennett then told us that for the next 2 or 3 miles they had a gospel discussion. He then told us that all of us, both missionaries and members need to open our mouths and share the gospel. After hearing that, I then heard conversion stories from a couple converts during stake conference and they both mentioned how their journey into the restored gospel of Jesus Christ began because they had friends who were members of the church.

After listening to these messages, it got me thinking about how we can work more closely with the members and ward council in spreading the gospel. It also got me rethinking about my hopes of being a member who isn't afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those around him. To make the long story short, I've been thinking a lot lately about the kind of person that I want to be after I'm done being a missionary. I believe it was Elder Russell M. Ballard who once said, "R.M. does not mean 'Retired Mormon'". I've been thinking about it and wonder if "R.M." should really mean "Ready Missionary".

I'm still putting my thoughts together on this but I encourage everyone to really ponder upon the possibilities of what you can do to help share the Lord's gospel to those around you. What can you do to be in partnership with the missionaries to help spread the message of Jesus Christ's Atonement with everyone? As President Salisbury would always say, "Ponder the possibilities."

Well, I think that's everything. I hope all is well in good ole Spokane. Take care everyone. I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

Monday, February 22, 2016

News From Your Favorite Missionary ;)

On exchanges with Elder Webb

February 22, 2016

Dear Alley Family and Friends,

Wow! Is it time to e-mail you again? Man, it really feels like I just e-mailed you guys yesterday. Before we all know it, I'll be home to tell you about my missionary adventures in person. How crazy is that?!

Well, this week was a busy week because of zone conference and exchanges. This zone conference was awesome because we talked a lot about finding families and teaching them the gospel. There were also some personal revelations given to me from the Holy Ghost, but for now let it suffice to say that I learned a lot from that meeting. The exchange was also good. Elder Tunnell and Elder Webb, who serve in Oakland, Maryland, are great missionaries who work hard to serve the Lord. As soon as I can find a computer that will let me upload pictures, I'll send you the picture of my district so that you know what they all look like. I promise ;) Other than that, it was just another week out here in the mission field.

My insight for you guys this week comes from Ether 12 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter stood out to me this week because, during the exchanges, I worked with Elder Webb in Oakland and we were tracting around this neighborhood and there were many people that were just rude to us. They either said or yelled at us, "I don't want to talk to you", "Go away", or "I'm not interested". Luckily, it was just in that neighborhood and everyone else we met were more pleasant to us.

However, looking back at this experience and all my past experiences of trying to find people to teach or trying to teach them about the restored gospel, I remembered how I stumbled on my words when trying to say something about the gospel. It just feels like my words don't come out the way I want them to. To me, this is embarrassing. During this time, I was asking myself these questions: "Why can't I convey exactly how I feel about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ? Why am I so terrible at talking about it? What am I doing wrong?" It just seems like I'm better at writing about the gospel than I am at speaking about it. I wish I could speak about the gospel with same power as Elder Holland, the kind of power that could singe people's eyebrows ;) (reference to "Stay Within the Lines" Mormon message) or as Ammon who brought many Lamanites to the truth. I wish I could teach clearly and simply as Jesus Christ did when he was among the Jews and the Nephites. Why am I not like them?

Well, on Sunday morning before church, I brought these questions up to Heavenly Father in prayer. I remember asking Him, "Heavenly Father, please help me answer these questions either through the scriptures, a feeling or thought from the Holy Ghost, or whatever method that thou seest fit to give me." I also thought in my mind and heart, "I don't want a sign. I just want to know what thou seest in me." Not long after the prayer, I thought about Ether 12 and how Moroni told the Lord that he was worried that the Gentiles would mock the records on the gold plates because he felt that he, and others before him, were not "mighty in writing".

As I read it, the Holy Ghost, in my mind, replaced the words "writing" with "speaking". Before I knew it, it felt as though Moroni's words were my words. Then I read in Ether 12:26, "And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;". This verse helped me see that the Lord will always help his weak servants and, if there are those that mock them for their weakness, the Lord bring justice to those people in His own time. Ether 12:37 then teaches us, "And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they [those that mock weak servants] have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father."

For me, this is the Lord's way of promising me that everything will work out and that He knows that I'm doing my best and that He is pleased with my efforts. While I may not be the best speaker, I'm glad that my e-mails are doing some good and I hope they continue to do so.

Take care everyone. I love you all and miss you all.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lessons Learned

Our ninja neighbor in Masontown, Jonas Dixon. :)
A kind sister shared this photo of Elder Alley and his companion, Elder Bean, enjoying pepperoni rolls at her house after a long cold (-2 degrees) day.

February 15, 2016

Dear Alley Gang,

How's it going y'all? Man, I wish I could've been at Sam's dance party. It looked and sounded like a lot of fun! Now that's a party! Also, I now know something I want to do when I get back home: I want to try the Pieology place. The freedom to customize your own pizza? Now that's a place I want to have in Spokane! Come on Spokane, step up your game ;) Ha ha. Still, I'm glad everyone had fun.

Well, this week in Masontown was a slow week for us because Elder Bean got sick and then transitioned to back pains after stretching. The good news is that he's feeling better. The bad news is that we weren't able to get out much because of his condition. Oh well, stuff like this happens. We were able to visit a few people but we mostly stayed inside the apartment until he got better.

Luckily, it wasn't all that bad. While Elder Bean was resting, I was enjoying some extra personal study time. I'm not gonna lie, I actually enjoyed the extra personal study time. I definitely received a lot of inspiration and personal revelation from the Holy Ghost during that time.

One insight that I received came from reading Matthew 4:1-11 in the New Testament. In this account, we read about the Savior's experience of fasting for forty days and forty nights and resisting Satan's temptations. In the King James Version, it reads that Jesus Christ was with Satan during the entire time He was fasting. However, thanks to Joseph Smith who revealed some corrections, we know that the beginning of the account actually says, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil...". When I read the entire account, a thought came to me from the Holy Ghost that said, "Even though this experience of fasting and communing with Heavenly Father weakened Him physically, it greatly strengthened Him spiritually." This experience was needed so that Jesus Christ would be fully ready to fulfill His earthly ministry. It worked because we also read, "...Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan..." and from that point on, Jesus Christ was teaching His gospel and helping God's children.

When I read that account, I realized that Jesus Christ's experience can be likened unto us as missionaries. We spend two years "fasting" from worldly things such as movies, news, music, etc., so that we can focus on serving the Lord. While I do miss those things, I also realized that by fasting from them I've been able to grow immensely in my testimony and faith in Jesus Christ. This is how, in my own way, I've been able "to be with God" and commune with Him through the Holy Ghost.

My mind was blown from this personal revelation because it helped me realize that we can't know our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ if we're too focused on things of the world. The best part is that this experience is not just for missionaries. It's for everyone! If we really want to know and follow our God, then what are some things that we need to "fast" from? What are some things that are keeping us from following Him and His Son? I hope this rambling of mine makes sense. Ponder about this insight and see what you can do to have your own experience of communing with God, just as Jesus Christ did.

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


Elder Michael Alley  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WVCM Update from Elder Michael Alley

February 8, 2016

Dear Alley crew,

How's it going y'all? Man, sounds like everyone has been busy back at home. I'm glad you all did. That should keep you out of trouble right? ;) Ha ha. Keep up the good work guys.

To answer Mom's questions:

1) Yes, I did get the Missionary Mall socks. My zone leaders got them from the mission office and then they gave it to me after our zone meeting.

2) No, I would not have recognized Anton with that bleached hair. Yowza! Nice hairdo, man. ;)

Well, the work here in Masontown was very challenging for me. However, after reading Max's e-mail, I think I got the better end of the deal. This week was challenging for me because Elder Bean and I tracted into this lady and, later that week, finally met one of our current investigators but we were not able to teach them much about the restored gospel. Why? Because these two people just completely dominated the conversations. I think Elder Bean and I got two, maybe three, sentences in during the entire meeting. By the time they were done talking, we had to leave because 1) teaching appointments should not last for more than 45 minutes (according to the Missionary Handbook and Preach My Gospel) and 2) the Spirit was no longer there to testify of truth because no one was listening to the Holy Ghost. One of my biggest frustrations is dealing with people who do not seem to know when to let other people speak. So, needless to say, I was really agitated when we came back to our apartment. Luckily for me, Elder Bean is a really laid-back guy so talking to him was helpful.

However, I couldn't help but think to myself, "How are we suppose to teach people the gospel if the only thing they're interested in is hearing themselves talk? We have an important message to share with them and it's the most important message that they'll ever hear! So, why can't they just stop talking for one second and listen to us?!"

As I thought about these questions, I felt impressed by the Spirit to read the Savior's parable about the prodigal son in Luke 15. The verse that stood out to me was when it said that when the son was yet a great distance away (I'm paraphrasing because I don't have my quad scriptures with me), his father saw him, had compassion on him, and fell on his neck and kissed him. The Bible video of this parable shows the father actually running to where his son was and hugged him, even though he was a great ways off. I then remembered the counsel that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave that is recorded in chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel under the section of "Listen". He said that we must remember that the people we meet with "are not lifeless objects disguised as baptismal statistics. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters." The Holy Ghost reminded me that we, as missionaries, are out here to help God's children to return home, not just teach them a lesson and be done with it. We, as missionaries, must be like the father in the Savior's parable and go to where our investigators are at on their spiritual journey and walk with them during the process, not impatiently dragging them back to our Heavenly Father. Keeping this lesson from the Holy Ghost in the forefront of my mind is not easy, but it must be done if I'm going to do the Lord's work His way. It was definitely a much needed lesson.

Well, that's my report for the week. This week may have been tough but I've come to know that the Lord always shows His disciples His tender mercies, even during the rough times. For that, I will always be grateful. I hope you all have a good week and have a Happy Valentine's Day.

I love you all and miss you all.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thank You Everyone!

February 1, 2016

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey, Ashley & all my family & friends,

Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes and shout-outs! It was awesome! I loved the pictures of everyone with their birthday banners. I never saw it coming and it was so cool to look at. Thank you so much! Also, I actually did get the birthday package today. So don't worry Mom. The oreos, pringles, $23, and all the goodies got to me just in time for my birthday. Thank you so much. Also, I want to thank Aubrey and Ashley for their Spaghettio notes. ;)

Well, since I just e-mailed you guys a few days ago, there's not much to report. However, there were a couple of interesting events that happened to us. One day, our car got stuck in the snow after we failed to get enough speed to go up this hill and slid backwards. Luckily, after some back-and-forth rocking with the car, we were able to free ourselves and make it back to the apartment safely.

Later that day, Elder Bean and I drove to this part-member family's home to check on them. Good thing we did because there was this lady and her mom that had just got stuck in the snow with their car in the same way that happened to us not too long ago. Talk about deja vu. Fortunately, we were able to get them out as well and they were happy about that. While we may not have been able to teach a lot of people this week, this week (to me) was one of those weeks where I'm just happy to help someone out, whether we were able to teach something or not. Who knows? Maybe this experience will lead this lady to investigate the church and the restored gospel someday. You never know.

Well, that's all I have to report. Stay tuned for next week's episode of "The Adventures of Elder Michael Alley" (cue generic, superhero theme music and just imagine me flying while wearing a cape and multi-colored spandex. Lol)

I love you all and miss you all.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

PS I forgot to mention this in my last e-mail, but the mission office has just changed the missionary departure dates again. Therefore, my new departure date for the mission will be on October 7, 2016. Also, just so that everyone is aware: I Am NOT Extending My Calling. That is all, thank you for your time ;)