Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Transfer News!

The Masontown District: Elder Flint, my companion Elder Bosen,
Elder Tunnell and I

Saying my goodbyes to The Masontown Bishopric

Saying farewell to our ninja neighbor, Jonas Dixon :)

Ward mission leader, Bro. Simms and his wife

Our landlord, S.O. Pratt

The Dixon Family (neighbors)

Masontown Apartment

Tiwi Box: Big Brother is watching. haha

The Wolfes Family

My Famous "Bug Beater" (Let's just say we had quite a few "unwanted guests"
around the apartment and I DID NOT want to vacate them with my hands!

Here's the new area for this transfer.
View of city of Huntington from across the Ohio River
Harris Riverfront Park
(Not to be confused with our Riverfront Park here in Spokane.) ;)
4th of July Fireworks above Riverfront Park
Marshall University
Home to 13,000 students
Marshall Football Stadium
Nickname: Thundering Herd  Mascot: Marco the Buffalo
Colors: Green & White

Pullman Square downtown

Cabell County Courthouse

April 26, 2016

Dear Alley Family & Friends,

 A big congratulations goes to Aubrey for making the dance team! WAY TO GO AUBREY! I was so stoked to hear the news. Now I have another item on my list of things-I-want-to-do-when-I-get-home: watch Aubrey dance on the Mead High School Dance Team! Congratulations little sis! I'm so proud of you.

Now for the big news: I am being transferred to the Huntington West area in the Huntington Zone and my new companion is Elder Lane! What makes this transfer interesting to me is that I actually knew Elder Lane when he was serving in the Parkersburg South area and I was in the Parkersburg North area. We weren't in the same district but we did serve in the same ward at that time so we got see each other frequently. He's a funny guy. Another thing that makes this transfer interesting for me is that (given the fact that I have about 6 months/4 transfers left in the mission) this may possibly be my last area before I go home. It's so weird to think about that.

Other than that, this week was mainly about saying good-bye to everyone we knew here in Masontown. While we may not have a lot of investigators (by the way, still trying to get in contact with that one family that I mentioned in my last e-mail. They didn't return our phone calls) here in the Masontown area, I did make a lot of good friends here. Which is why I'm actually sad to leave. For some time, since we didn't have a lot of investigators here in this area and the work has just been moving so slow, I thought that I wouldn't be sad about leaving this area. But then again, I thought the same about my previous areas (Martin, KY; Parkersburg; and Flatwoods) and I miss my friends there like crazy. I guess, as a missionary, you never know how much you love your friends and area until you are about to leave them.

As my time here in Masontown was wrapping up and all my friends from the Masontown Ward and outside the church said farewell to me and thanked me for my service, I couldn't help but think about The Doctor (my favorite time/space-traveling hero from Doctor Who). Why? Because The Doctor and I have one thing in common: we really hate endings. This may not have been an easy area for me, but I have really come to love the people here and I'm a little sad to leave them. We are definitely coming back here when I do a mission tour for you guys.

Well, that's my news for the week. I'll write again to you on Monday. Also, looking forward to Mother's Day! As soon as I get settled in my new area, we will find out what will happen for the Mother's Day Skype. Can't wait! I love you all and miss you all. Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

From Elder Alley's Mom
Huntington, WV Facts:
Located in western West Virginia. It sits on the Ohio River at the point where West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky meet. Huntington is part of the largest inland port in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the metropolitan area is the largest in West Virginia. It spans 7 counties across 3 states, with a population of 364,101. Huntington is the largest city in that area and the second largest city in West Virginia, with a population of 49,160 at the 2012 census. (This will be the largest city he's served in.)

The city is home to Marshall University, one of the largest employers in town and a major contributor to the heart and soul of the community. On Nov. 14, 1970, a chartered jet carrying 75 Marshall football players, coaches, staff and supporters crashed just short of Tri-State Airport as it returned home from a game in North Carolina. Everyone on board was killed.

A movie titled “We Are Marshall,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox, was released nationally in 2006 and depicts the aftermath of the tragedy for the university and community.

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Week's Episode of "The Elder Alley Show"

On exchanges with Elder Stoddard

Me, Elder Kropushek, Elder Bosen (comp) and Elder Stoddard

April 18, 2016

Dear Alley Family & Friends,

How's it going y'all? Thank you to everyone who wrote to me and sent me pictures to keep me updated on life back in the "Normal" world ;) Ha ha. Seriously though, thank you for keeping me updated and in your prayers. You have no idea how much that means to me.

Before I share with you about my adventures this week, there is one item of business that I want everyone to be aware of. Due to the change in the MTC schedule for English speakers, (those who are serving within the states will be in the MTC for 3 weeks instead of 1 1/2 weeks) this transfer and the upcoming ones will be altered to accommodate for the change in arrival times for new missionaries. This transfer is 7 weeks long and there is another transfer that will be about 5 weeks long. I'm not sure what the other transfers are like. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because next week will be transfer week and, for whatever reason, that's week's p-day will be on Tuesday, April 26 and the Wednesday following will be the transfer day. Because I've been in Masontown for about 4 1/2 months and I don't have a lot of time left in the mission field, I think there is a good chance that I'll be transferred but I don't know for sure. Just keep this info in mind as you send me letters or packages. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

Now for the important part of the message. This week was a pretty good week for missionary work. We had a district meeting where I and my district discussed about how to make our weekly planning sessions more effective and guided by the Holy Ghost, had exchanges with the Morgantown Zone Leaders (Elder Stoddard & Elder Kropushek, the "u" is silent), setting up an appointment with one of our less-actives, and overall, just working more effectively to find people to teach by using our area book and all the information that's in it. We actually found a couple new potential investigators that seem really promising.

One of those potentials is a young family consisting of a mom, dad and a little girl (probably no more than 6 years old). Elder Bosen and I found the mom and daughter near the beginning of the transfer when we were looking for a less-active member. We used the updated roster to find more less-actives to teach and this one less-active had an address that took us to a trailer home lot. The roster didn't have the number of this less-active's trailer so at first we didn't know what to do about it. But I remember getting this strong feeling to go tract around this trailer lot. So I followed the prompting and eventually we found the mom and daughter. The mom and her husband were working in a restaurant in Morgantown where another companionship of missionaries would eat at and so they got to talk to them for a bit. A couple weeks later, Elder Stoddard and I went to their trailer again and talked to the husband and set up an appointment. Well, Elder Bosen and I went back there on Sunday, April 17 to follow up and we only got to talk to the mom. While the appointment didn't go the way that I was hoping it would, the mom was really nice to us and seemed really interested in our message. We gave her a brief overview of the message of the Restoration, gave her a pamphlet to read before we come over, and exchanged phone numbers so that we can call and set an appointment.

The reason this experience was significant to me was because 1) we may actually be able to finally teach a family about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ (which, by-the-way, is what most missionaries hope for) and 2) it got me realizing that the Lord really does prepare His children to receive His servants in His own way. It's hard to explain, but a lot of times I hope that I will be the one to convert someone to the gospel and it will only take me 6 weeks or less to do so. However, true conversion takes place only between God and His child who is actually going through the conversion process. We, as missionaries, only invite and teach people to come unto Christ, not convert them. Also, the Lord's timetable is not our timetable. The Lord knows how each His children learn and how long their education takes. More often than not, 6 weeks is not enough time for a person to learn about and truly come unto Christ. The Lord knows how to get His work done, I just get to be a part of it.

I hope this rambling of mine makes sense. Always remember, I love you all and miss you all. take care everyone.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

Monday, April 11, 2016

6 Months to Go!

Dead mouse found in the church air vents. Niiiice. (Not!)

April 11, 2016

Dear Alley family & friends,

How's it going y'all? I'm glad that everyone had a great spring break down in Utah. My favorite part from all the e-mails that I read was the one on Dad schooling everyone in a bubblegum contest. The Old Man still got it ;) Ha ha. Man, oh man, we definitely need to do another trip down in Utah when I get back. 

Now, for all those who don't know, here's the big news: as of April 8, 2016, I HAVE COMPLETED 1 1/2 YEARS OF MY MISSION! That's right! 6 months to go, baby! I'm almost at the finish line! Big thank you to my Mom for sending me the Jump Day package! It was awesome! I'm not sure where I'm going to jump rope but I'll see what I can do ;) Still, thank you so much Mom. You're the best.

I would also like to send a birthday shout out to MomMom! I sent her a birthday card last week, so I hope she'll get it this week. Still, Happy Birthday MomMom! I hope you had a blast.

As for this week, it was a really slow week for proselyting. Mainly just visited less-actives with no clue on what to teach them since they've been less-active for who knows how long and nothing has changed and tracting (knocking on doors) in various neighborhoods but to no avail. I will admit, that I actually get stressed and irritated if it seems like there's no work to be done. However, as always, there are tender mercies from the Lord.

The biggest tender mercy came in the form of a personal interview with our Mission President, President Salisbury. To be honest, I was still a little mentally rattled by that "anti" event with one of our former investigators and I felt prompted to bring it up to President Salisbury. His counsel came from Romans 10:14-15 where he taught me that, as a missionary, I am a preacher sent from God. This was a very important counsel to me because sometimes I forget how great a calling it is to be a missionary when it just seems like I'm working hard for nothing. But being a missionary is a sacred calling and honor given by God, no matter what the world's views are. I wish I could explain more but this is going to have to be a shorter e-mail. Got a meal appointment coming up. 

Don't ever forget, I love you all and miss you all. I'll see you all in 6 months. Until then, Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Michael Alley

Monday, April 4, 2016

I LOVE General Conference!

Post District Meeting: me, Elder Bosen, Elder Flint and Elder Tunnell

April 4, 2016

Dear Alley crew & friends,

How's it going y'all? I'm so happy that everyone, especially Dad, got a kick from the birthday card that I sent. Little funny story: I was looking around Wal-Mart trying to decide which birthday card to send and, at first, I was thinking about sending a more heartfelt card like I did for Mom. But as soon as I saw that card with the sticker in it, I knew that was the one. Happy Birthday Boss! Ha ha.

I'm especially glad that everyone received great inspiration from General Conference. Since being a missionary, I've come to not only be more attentive to General Conference, but to really love it and be excited for it. As my companion Elder Bosen puts it, "A missionary watching General Conference is the equivalent of a sports fan watching the super bowl." That's how much I've come to love watching and studying General Conference. In preparation for this event, Elder Bosen and I visited everyone (from less-actives that we visit frequently to our next door neighbors and landlord that we help out with when we can) to invite them to watch General Conference with us. I was already excited to watch General Conference at that time. But what added more to my excitement was that our landlord and his wife actually came to watch the first session with us! It was awesome! They were very impressed by those who spoke in that session and we even got to answer some of their questions about the church afterwards! Even though they didn't show much interest in learning more about our message, I was just so stoked that they came anyway and I pray that this experience will have planted a seed that could start their journey into wanting to know more about the church. BEST MISSIONARY MOMENT EVER!

I agree with everyone that this General Conference was awesome. I learned so much from all those spoke and I took a lot of notes during it. However, the one talk that really stood out to me was the one given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. As soon as President Uchtdorf mentioned that Elder Holland was the concluding speaker, I was at full-alert and ready to learn. His words really spoke to me not just because they were coming from my favorite speaker, but because I know that this was a message that Heavenly Father wanted me to hear. As a missionary, I've come to love General Conference, Specialized training, Zone Conference, Sacrament Meeting, and all other church meetings because how strong and warm the Spirit is in those meetings and I would give anything to just stay in those moments for a little longer. As Elder Holland said, "None of us want tomorrow. We want to hold fast to the spirit we felt in this conference." Lately, I've not been looking forward to the next day as a missionary or the days following. I would rather just stay inside and read the scriptures, watch mormon messages, and listen to conference talks than go out and deal with people who just don't seem to have a desire to learn our message.

Elder Holland then shared examples from the bible. Moses, after receiving amazing revelation from God on Mount Sinai, returned to a strange group of golden calf worshippers. Even Jesus Christ, after being transfigured on a mount before Peter, James, and John, returned to a group of disciples who struggled to give a boy a blessing, argued about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God, and so forth. It's frustrating to have to go from a wonderful, spiritually uplifting experience to the world of less-than-ideal situations. Which is why I'm grateful for Elder Holland's message that, "Heaven is cheering you on" and the quote from Isaiah 40:28-31. I wish I could write more but I have no words to describe how that message made me feel. It was definitely something that I needed to hear.

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


Elder Michael Alley  

PS To answer your questions:

1) How do I feel about being almost 3/4 of the way done? To be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me is happy and excited to be almost done because being a missionary is one of, if not the, hardest experiences I have ever had in my life. So, I will be really happy to come home and not have to worry about talking to random strangers, falling appointments, waking up at 6:30 in the morning, and so forth. However, part of me is also a little sad that it's coming to end because I have made some great friends out here. I've met some of the coolest people ever on this mission such as the Bentley family and all those who were my companions, to just name a few. Best of all,  feeling a lot of inspiration from the scriptures and living prophets and apostles. I really have come to love getting inspiration from the Holy Ghost as I study the restored gospel. To be honest, I'm a little worried that when I come home, I might not feel that same inspiration ever again. Luckily, one of my MTC instructors taught me that when we as missionaries do go home, it's not the end of heavenly inspiration. We may not have the mantle to teach the restored gospel, but we should be more in tune with the Holy Ghost after our mission than ever before. I hope this rambling of mine makes sense. Just know that I do have some mixed feelings at the moment. Reminder: I am not extending my calling.

2) Our newest investigator is a female and we are staying in contact with her by phone calls. The struggle is just setting up an appointment with her because we need to have another male with us and she is busy with her job in healthcare. Ugh, the struggle of setting appointments. That's another thing that I'm not going to miss when I get back home.