Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Last Goodbye....January 9, 2017

Right now I echo the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-7 "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." We've come full circle everyone! I never thought this day would come- the day I so longed for in the beginning, but the day I've truly dreaded here in the end. 
I have so many mixed and fast-flowing emotions- this week has been a roller coaster for me. Bear with me as I share what happened this last week, with transfers, and then I'll share briefly (hopefully haha) some of what I've learned on my mission. (Oh sidenote, I've been suuuuuuuper sick this past week with a head cold, cough, and being a that's been fun lol)

Monday I was privileged to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with President and Sister Taggart and the other 19 departing missionaries! It was a cold and rainy day, but so fun. We took the ferry from NJ into Ellis Island and got to walk around and look for a good hour at the museum. I've seen it a dozen times already, but it was fun to see it one last time. Then we got back on the ferry and it took us to Lady Liberty!!! She's huge! We went through security again, and then boom, we were in the museum. There was lots of cool stuff there and I wish I could have read more and looked at more of it but we only had an hour until the ferry left because we were on a tight schedule. As part of the ticket we got to climb the pedestal. Ok. Seriously. That thing is so deceiving. It was a HIKE. Holy moly my legs were about to give out. It was basically 100+ people packed into a tiny stairwell going up 150+ stairs without stopping. Man, my asthma kicked in and my legs just about had it- but the view from her feet made it all worth it! You could see for miles in all directions. I can't imagine what the view from the crown would be like!! We climbed back down, got on the ferry, and then drove back to Newark to have some Elm Street BBQ (love that place). Then the Taggart's gave us lots of career, college, and adult life advice for when we get back. It was so fun to have that time with them!

Tuesday we had my last zone meeting, and if I had a quarter for every time someone made a dying joke...I would be rich. Filthy rich. The jokes that day were unreal haha! But it was a good meeting, and afterwards I had my Hot Seat. That's where the dying missionaries sit up front and the whole zone gets to ask them questions about their mission. We only did the spiritual half that day because we ran out of time, so supposedly I'm doing the funny half today...we'll see haha! I never wanted to do a hot seat anyway, so I'm not too bummed if it doesn't happen. 

Wednesday I got hugged by a man. So that weirded me out and the guy was probably so confused because I was all stiff and awkward about it....but in my defense I didn't see it coming, and like, thats not ok haha! We were at the nursing home doing service, and the activity director is a super cool guy, about 23. We'd always talk with him while we're there, and apparently right before I got here there was an elder who went home, and Tim was like "oh, I hugged him! I'm a hugger." And then proceeds to come in like he's giving me one of those bro handshakes, but then really just grabs my hand and pulls me into a full on hug. I was so weird about it lol! My mind was just like....NO! And it was just awkward. And I'm just awkward. And it was just weird. Blech *shudders*
We also helped the Trunks that day with some stuff she needed to get done. It was fun being with her kiddos and being able to serve her!

Thursday we cleaned our apartment and I packed up some of my stuff. Weird. Then we did weekly planning (my last!) and headed off to our Bishop's house for dinner. Their family is pretty quiet, but they're all so sweet. It was a fun evening with them! We then went and had a super awkward lesson with our new investigator Erica. She was completely distracted by her kids the whole time and wouldn't say anything to us, so we were awkwardly fishing for conversation and trying to discern her needs and interests. It was just weird all around, I don't know how to describe it haha

Friday we had dinner and FHE with the Trunks and that was super fun! Gosh I love this family. Another forever friend right there! And we also were able to see the Teets family and share one last lesson with them. I love that family. They have their issues and things, but you'll never meet sweeter people.

Saturday we had coordination at 7am with Brother Stevenson, where I had my last waffle with him :(  the Stevenson's are awesome! And then we had a lesson with Lisa and she's progressing!!!!! Dream come true!!! She's reading the BoM and praying about it and loving it and all she's learning! She wants to come to church with her daughters, and we brought Sister Trunk and they connected super well, and I just love the Ciccia family! The story of how we found her is a straight up miracle, and I feel so blessed seeing the seed I helped plant grow. I know I was supposed to come to Sparta to find her. And I'm so glad I did. God has blessed me immensely. I am for sure flying back for their baptisms haha!
Saturday we also found out that we're being doubled out of the area....we were so sure that S.Hall was staying. So for the past couple days we've been maniacally packing, cleaning, saying goodbye, and writing notes for the new sisters. S.Hall is going to Harrison (part of Newark), back to the city where she belongs haha! She was a fish out of water here in the boonies, but I'm so glad she came. She taught me lots, and I'm glad we could be companions for 2! No one else I'd rather have kill me haha :)

Sunday was also full of goodbyes. It was fast Sunday so we both bore our testimonies, and literally every class we went to and every meeting we had- they all mentioned how we were leaving and how grateful they were for our dedication and service. I seriously love this ward so much! They made me feel so welcome and loved. I never felt inadequate or not good enough with them, they always uplifted me and helped me feel at home! They are so wonderful. Lots of tears were shed as we said goodbye to people. This ward truly became home to me.

So, now for the tearjerker. Yikes haha! This mission has been amazing for me. You all probably don't know this, but I didn't exactly come out here for all the right reasons. Yes I wanted to serve people, but I also didn't want to be a disappointment and I felt that it was expected of me to go (not by you family, dont worry about that haha!). So I came out, and I struggled the first couple months. It never crossed my mind to go home, but I wasn't enjoying the work. But I kept going, kept trying, kept crying and pleading with my Father for the forgiveness and grace of my Savior. And guys, holy moly is God good and amazing and such a loving Father! Over these 18.5 months I've seen a change in my heart, my desires, my thoughts, my actions, my words, my attitude, my testimony, my conversion, and my future. This mission changed the trajectory of my life! I know for a fact I would have fallen down a deep and dark road had I not come out here. And God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, accepted me as a fledgling, selfish, shy missionary who didn't know why they came out, and has molded me into a person who loves God and loves people. I know where I would be if I didn't come to NJ, and it is not a good place. And I know for a fact that this will bless my life into the eternities, but that more importantly it will bless my family and future family's lives forever. I truly know that even when we only give, or can only give, 5 loaves and 2 fish to Christ- He makes it infinitely more. He takes our sacrifices, however small, and reciprocates blessings an hundredfold. God loves us all unconditionally, irrevocably, and eternally! And I am so grateful I could give Him 18.5 months of my life, and I can't wait to give Him the rest of it.

God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good.
I love you all. And I'll see you soon!
So for the last time,
Stay Jersey Strong.
Love, Sister McAllister

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lady Liberty and Ellis Island...January 2, 2017

Hey All!
Today I went to Ellis island on my departing trip. Super mixed emotions about that, but I'll get to that later haha

This week was a "miracle, last-minute twist, hard work, and fun times"-filled week. Life seems to have just gone crazy since Christmas!

Monday we went to the Stevenson's house so S.Hall could make her pen on his lathe. We got some yummy homemade cinnamon rolls out of that too! They were supposed to have us over that night as well for dinner, but there was a delay in a flight from Utah and yadda yada they couldn't have us over- which I actually felt better about because I felt bad taking up their whole day! So they had us over the next night for dinner.

Tuesday we had my last ever district meeting...that was the beginning of the end haha! All my lasts are going to be coming up! Gah. But yeah, I love my district leader Elder Jordan, he's a super awesome leader! His trainings are great and he's really adapted his teaching to meet the needs of his district. It's cool to serve around him again too, because it was back in the beginning of my mission that we served around each other last. It's always cool to see how people change and yet are still the same goofballs they were in the beginning. They just become more of a spiritual giant :)  So anyway, I'm going to miss Tuesday meetings where you know you'll get spiritually fed weekly with new ideas and things you've forgotten or overlooked.
Tuesday we were double booked with dinners, so I made sure to wear my stretchy skirt, and boy was I stuffed after! We went over first to Sister Menendez's house and had yummy fried plantains with rice and pork. One funny thing about Spanish, is there's dozens of different dialects, so words mean different things in different countries. For instance, she's from Ecuador and plantains to her is "maduro", but to other people it's "plátanos". We were really confused when she first told us what she was cooking, but then she showed it to us and we got it haha! Then, we went straight from her house to the Stevenson's where we had authentic Chinese food made from authentic Chinese ingredients. Brother Stevenson served his mission in Taiwan (and sis Stevenson in Scotland), so they made us a bunch of stuff I can't dream of pronouncing. There was lots of rice, weird meat, and weird vegetables, but it was all pretty good! I also ate my entire meal with chopsticks, so I felt pretty proud of myself! And then we had homemade mango pudding for dessert- yum. I swear, just in these last 3 weeks I will have gained at least 10lbs from all the stuff we're getting fed.

Wednesday we were able to see a miracle of getting in to an inactive, part member house that we've been trying by for 3 months!!! The timing was right I guess, probably because of the holiday cheer, and we were able to share a short video with Dawn and George before they kicked us out haha! We talked about the poems he writes about God, and we shared our Christmas Day festivities with each other, before she got antsy and started ending the conversation. Woohoo! We took them brownies another night, just to build trust and friendship with them, so we're hoping that'll start going somewhere in the next month or so. Small and simple things! Little tender mercies lead to big miracles! Wednesday evening we also got a call from our district leader that the STL's were on there way to our apartment right that minute for an we were not informed about til that very moment...And it would go til Friday. Surprise! We were a little frustrated at first, and felt a little judged by the whole situation, BUT God is good and I'm a prideful sack, so it ended up being perfect haha! We had Hna Higginbotham with us here, and we all learned a lot from each other. I learned to not judge a situation right away, but to step back and see the bigger picture. She was sent to us to learn something, and we were given plans that day to learn something as well! More on that later.  So Wednesday we went over to the Thompson house for dinner and guess what we had!? Chinese food! What in the world haha?? I've had it once in the past 2 transfers, and then all the sudden here it comes! It was good though, her egg rolls were to die for.

I'm realizing this letter is all about food...I guess it's easy to see what I love haha! I hope I'm not making y'all hungry. Thursday we still had the sister with us, but it was also weekly planning day, so we spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon planning while she studied Spanish and did other stuff. I learned some more Spanish with her too, so, maybe one day I'll actually know more than 20 words! Lol
That day we had lots of plans to go finding because we had no set appointments. Our mission is doing this thing where we try by a less Active, and if they're not home we knock 20 doors around them asking their neighbors if they know them, who are they, what's their schedule, etc etc. President has said that this is a beautiful way to knock down barriers and get in their houses, and I have seen it work before, but for some reason that day it was so not working. We got yelled at twice, scorned a couple times, and one man walking his dog was pretty rude, BUT we met a super nice guy named Jesse who had the most hipster, eccentric outfit and vibe going on and he took a card with our number on it! Woohoo! And we had another lady (who had had a leeeetle too much wine) who opened the door, called us pretty, started to close the door, and then without us saying anything said "alright, give me your stupid pamphlet" lol! We're so good we didn't even have to say anything haha ;)

Friday we had more Chinese food, and lots of other stuff happened this weekend, but I've run out of time! The Statue of Liberty is huge, and the inside was cool! My feet are killing me, and my hair is drenched, and my life is still a surreal mess. But I love you all and wish you well! Talk to you next week!!

Stay Jersey Strong.
Love, Sister McAllister

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Dying Christmas Wish....December 26, 2016

I cant believe Christmas is over already, boy that went fast!
This week was packed and crazy amazing because of the holiday, so bear with me while I try to recap it all haha

Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Morristown Hermanas, and you guessed it, I went to the Spanish area haha! I swear, I never stay in my area anymore. But it was good, I was with Hermana Allen and Hermana Villanueva (they're in a trio)! We found lots of success knocking and trying the people we had planned, that was all pretty foreign to me haha, but exchange miracles are real! I learned more Spanish, and I can understand a conversation when it's small talk or about the gospel- pretty cool that I've picked that up! And God is definitely the reason, I know He helps me understand what's going on, even if I can't contribute myself. Although, I did bear my testimony in Spanish for the first time!!! With what little Spanish I know I pieced together a sentence, and as I was thinking about it I felt the need to share it with this man named Walter we were teaching. Right after one the Hermanas taught something I said "No hablo espanol y no se todos, pero se que estas cosas son verderdas." (I don't speak Spanish and I don't know everything, but I know these thing are true.) It was pretty cool to me anyway, I felt the Spirit testify to me that no matter what language, country, or background we come from, the gospel is still true and it's still the same. It never changes! It doesn't matter if I couldn't understand some of the things being said, the Spirit was still there, it still testified of truth to me. And I know it did the same thing for Walter. God is so good to us.

Wednesday we went to dinner at the Trunk's house and 2 other families were there too, the Jackson's and the Walker's. They're all in their 20s and it was kinda cool to see the different places God needed them to be at in their lives. One has 4 kids and a house, the other has 1 kid with 1 on the way and an apartment, and the last is newly married with an apartment- but they're all within years of each other. I don't know, call me crazy, but I just thought it was so cool how God needed them in different places for different things at the same point in their lives. He has an individual plan for us, FOR us. It was cool! And it was a party with them all hahahahah! I stinkin love all of them so much! One of them actually just moved into the apartment in our building. Which means 3/4 apartments now belong to members haha! Aka we basically have our own church building ;)

 Friday we had interviews with President Taggart in the morning (though i didn't have one since I'm going home) and then we were running from place to place all day. One of the coolest things that happened that day was at the Teets house. They're a family of less actives that we've been trying to work with this transfer. This time we sat down and decided to share #LIGHTtheWORLD again, even though we had already showed it to the grandma and mom before. We wanted to ask them to share it with others, but as we were talking before we showed the video, the son and his girlfriend showed up and started talking with us. We showed the video, and the Spirit was palpable. We asked them who they knew that needed to see that video, and everyone in the room basically pointed at Morgana (the girlfriend). She just slowly nodded her head in agreement and told us that the video made her feel "warm and peaceful". Now this girl is normally pretty loud and outgoing but for the next 10 minutes she sat their in silence absorbing everything we talked about. The mom and grandmas actually brought up baptism and repentance themselves, talking about the peace and joy you feel afterward. And they both described how repentance is such that God forgives your sins and remembers them no more. Morgana perked up and talked about how she's more spiritual than religious because so many church gave her flak for her choices and different personality. She's a really sweet girl, and we're looking forward to teaching her! Miracles happen! There are people everywhere who are searching for the truth and the only reason they don't have it, is because they don't know where to find it. Now, not only does this less active family have someone to love and teach about the gospel, this woman also has a family to help her and support her in her decisions and trials. God is amazing.
Friday night we got invited over to the Boyle's for dinner, but there was going to be dinner at a special Christmas lesson at the Bible study class at the church. So we went there, and proceeded to have our minds blown with the historically and biblically accurate version of the nativity. Man, I learned so much about Mary and Joseph and the angel, and especially about the shepherds and where the birth of Jesus would have actually taken place. We learned about the wise men and Herod and and and and and and and! Lol, I took lots of notes, so maybe one day I'll share it with you all- there's too many to include here. But let's just say, the symbolism in His birth is so much greater to me now, and it all makes a lot more sense! I'm so grateful for Sister Izquierdo's knowledge of the Bible. That definitely something I need to get better at.

Saturday we went and did service at Homestead, playing bingo with the residents, and it was fun to see everyone so happy and decked out for Christmas! S.Hall also reminded me about halfway through the day that it was my 18 month mark...I was just too focused on Christmas Eve ok! Haha, I completely forgot, it was the weirdest thing. Its weird to look back on, it was too short haha! To celebrate (Christmas Eve, that is lol) we went over to Bishop Jensen's house and had chicken cordon-bleu for dinner. Ok, I have to say they were way better than Swann's frozen cordon-bleus haha! And after dinner we put on a live nativity with all the kids. We had filled all the parts, but the shepherds had no you guessed it, I filled in lol! It was pretty fun, and afterwards we watched the real Bible video "Nativity" online. I love those videos, I can't wait for the Book of Mormon ones to come out!

And yesterday was wonderful, beautiful Christmas!!! We had breakfast with the Stevensons, cinnamon rolls and eggs, and then we had a musical Christmas sacrament meeting where we sung O Little Town of Bethlehem. It was a really spiritual meeting! I've noticed more and more on my mission how we can truly worship through song- hymns are one of the quickest ways to bring the Spirit! After being laden with gifts and cookies and other such things, we went to our investigators' house! Lisa, April, Nicoletta, and Michael had us over for ham and Panera Bread mac n' cheese! Wow, they have just opened their arms and welcomed us right in. If I weren't a missionary I'd think it really bizarre and weird how they've opened up so much to us in such a short time. It was a great time! LOL they even gave us our 1st ever lotto tickets...yeah that was a funny one to explain XD
Then we went over to the Cooks house right after that! It was a blast and they had lots of good food too. We rooks pics, colored with the kids, had some good caramel apple cider, and then came home and Skyped.

Overall it was a fantastic Christmas weekend and I'm so grateful for everyone that made it so!!! Gosh, I love you all.
See ya in 2!

Stay Jersey Strong.
Love, Sister McAllister
 Christmas Eve
 Christmas jammies
 epic fail

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Whip, Lady Liberty, and Public Singing....December 19, 2016

Whew. This week was a doozy! I'm glad we made it out alive with all our sanity intact...barely. Haha!

The craziness really started on Thursday, and we haven't had much of a break until now. We're exhausted lol. So on Thursday we were running all day from appointment to appointment trying to fit weekly planning into the middle of it all. We luckily got everything done that we needed too, but let's just say my pillow never felt so good before haha!
That night we were able to meet with our new investigators that came to the Ward Christmas Brunch last Saturday! Lisa and her girls are so awesome! We brought Sister Roberts, the YW president, with us and the 2 daughters want to start coming on Wednesday's now! The family is so nice, and we're becoming good friends with all of them. We even met all of their boyfriends and everything lol, that was kinda awkward, but still cool. We also spent a little while that night serving them by helping them make stuff for a bake sale they're doing. We made these strawberry milkshake cookies from Pinterest and I fell in love. They are my new favorite cookie! They're just melt-in-your-mouth goodness wrapped in a pink and white cookie haha. And then, Lisa took us downstairs because she wanted to show us her Christmas tree and all the decorations. Or at least, that's what she said- but when we got down there she went to the tree and pulled out 2 presents and gave them to us! My heart just melted right along with those cookies we were eating! It was sooooooo sweet. I just know I'm going to talk with this family forever, whether or not they get baptized haha :)

Friday was the All-Mission Christmas Conference! It was so exciting to see all my friend again!!! I was Picture-Happy all day that day haha. We started off the conference listening to Bart Oats of the NY Giants and SF 49ers talk to us about winning 3 Super Bowls and how we need to live our mission like a "2 minute drill". He actually used a clip from the Giants beating the Patriots in a super bowl a couple years ago to demonstrate a lot of principles, so that got my hyped for this years super bowl haha! Some of my favorite one-liners from him are: "One wrong choice, one mistake, does not define who I am. One of the very few things I control on a mission is my effort. Give my best, doesn't matter if it's better or worse than anyone else. and Always fight. Never give up!" He passed around 2 of his bowl rings too, and man, those are a piece of hardware haha! They're huge! And one of the things he told us is that the team gets to pick the style and everything on their rings when they win! I thought that was cool.
Then President and Sister Taggart talked with us, and I loved some of the things they said too. President talked about how this is their 3rd and last Christmas here in NJ, and I loved the chance I got to spend it with them. I'm so grateful my mission got pushed back those 2 weeks, so glad I got to be here for this wonderful season and holiday. I can't imagine it any other way! 18.5 months in a state I now consider my 2nd home! And Sister Taggart was just amazing too, she talked about how she's been looking at the weather constantly the past week and just watching the number sink lower and lower and the snow raise higher and higher. She said that she just sits there and prays for us. She knows we have to go through trials and hardships, but (she was in tears relaying this all) she pleads that it doesn't have to be THIS cold, THIS windy, THIS snowy. They both just brought me to tears while they talked. You can't help but feel the love they have for us, they truly do have 180+ children to watch over and love out here- and they've been parents to like 300 others! I just love these 2.
Then we had lunch and hung out all together as a mission. There was song, raps, dancing, the whip, laughter, a slideshow, pictures, presents, letters, good food, the price is right, minute to win it games, and just lots and lots of fun! I said goodbye to all my Spanish friends, because unless they come to transfers, I won't see them again :(  that was rough. I've been feeling both raw and overwhelmingly full these past few days! I said bye to Elders Mendoza and Justice, and Sisters Pace, Virgin, Holguin, and lots of others but I'm starting to get sad listing these names so I'm gonna stop lol! Gosh, endings are so hard. And I know I'll get to chill with them later, but that's months down the line! For some of them it's almost a year away haha
But yes, it was a fun day! And I got your package and letters family! Thank you!

Then on Saturday we got to go to Ellis Island!!! It started snowing at midnight and continued through the morning. We had to scrape off a couple inches of snow from our car, and then navigate the roads that hadn't been plowed haha! I drove 30mph on the highway in a single file line, slipping and sliding all over the place for 2.5 hours to get to Ellis Island lol! It was an adventure. But now I can say that I know how to drive in the snow, and I have in fact done it. Boom. It was actually not too bad. And it was technically S.Hall's day to drive, but she didn't want to, so I'm glad we survived lol! But Ellis Island was super fun! Not too many people were there, so the staff let us walk around the museum for a little while. I've done it before, but I got to see the exhibits that I hadn't before. That was pretty cool! It was a fun day.

Sunday was the English Missionary Christmas Fireside where yours truly sang in a small group in front of 500+ people...yikes! I was suuuuuuuuuper nervous all day. But it ended up going pretty well I think. I have a video of it, so you guys can be the judge lol! The music was amazing last night. I love how we truly can worship Him with song, and it's one of the quickest ways to bring the Spirit in to your heart too! It was a real fun evening! And I got to see the Murch's and S.Abraham from Eatontown, the Alkemas from Princeton, the Russell's from Emerson, and S.Williams and Monique and Br.Peña from Scotch Plains! I'm sad more people weren't there, but it was nice to get to say bye to them all and catch up for a bit! I also got to say goodbye to my English friends too. Elders Oakley, Hicks, Adams, Koo, Jessop, and Sisters Llana, Flinders, Burk (basically I'm naming people for my own benefit of looking back on this lol). It was a good night, sad as well, but good. I've become real good friends with one of the elders, and he lives all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, so we were both pretty bummed out that that was probably our last time ever hanging out. Lame. One day I'll go to the U.K., I have to find Hogwarts! Haha

But yup, Christmas is in 6 days, it snuck up way quick on us! We started a countdown on our whiteboard on Dec 1st! It's already Dec 19th!!! Gah, time slow down!!! I'm excited for it though, we already have 2 members having us over on Christmas Eve, and one on Christmas! Woohoo! Party! 

I love you all!
Stay Jersey Strong.
Love, Sister McAllister
 Driving to Ellis Island in the snow
 Ellis Island
 Ready for Christmas
 The Taggart's....Mission President and his wife

Alpacas and President Hugs....December 12, 2016

This week has been a crazy long week, but yet it's flown by! It's already Dec 12th man!! Yikes. (Shoutout to Sis Kafu for embedding that word in my vocabulary ;)

Monday was a fun day full of dodgeball, shopping, and driveway mishaps. We went to Marshalls to get S.Hall some new dresses, and I just so happened to find a cute top there that fit me, so Merry Christmas to me! You'll probably see it in most of my Christmas pics I'm sending home in the next few weeks- it goes great with my red skirt haha :) We also played sports, yada yada...and then we went and ate at the Leete's house! They're some members that we haven't really talked to too much, but man oh man, we found out they are the coolest people ever!!! I adore their family. It was such a fun night! She talked a lot with us about her mission stories and it was cool to see how her kids knew some of her companions, and a lot of her stories- I want to be like that when I grow up! I want my kiddos to know the coolness of a mission, and that it's ok if you don't serve one too, it's up to them and God. Now, the Leete's have a crazy driveway that is a steep downhill that curves between rocks and a telephone pole. Getting in was hard...but then backing out?? Almost impossible! Aye ya yie, I had such a rough time backing out. Br.Leete had to come and help direct us because S.Hall didn't know what to do backing me, and even then it took almost 10 minutes. But I didn't scrape the rocks or the pole, so we good! Success!!! Haha

Tuesday was Traditions with the Taggart's in the mission home! It was soooooo awesome. The craziest thing about it though, was the fact that I had my departing interview right before it. The APs called me to arrive early so President could interview me...guys, I still have another 5 weeks for crying out loud! Lol, I was his first interview of the transfer! It was crazy, but I loved talking with him. He gave me awesome advice and counsel about my plans for college, life, job, etc. He really helped me set some goals and figure out my future. I'm so grateful I had those 40 minutes with him to talk one on one and to feel of his testimony, experience, and love. I firmly believe a big reason for my call to New Jersey was so I could serve with, learn from, and love like the Taggart's. They've become a second set of parents to me, and I couldn't ask for a better pair! Gosh, I just can't wait for the years ahead where I can continue to rely on them for support and happiness! I love em to death.
So the only bad part about having my interview before, was the fact that I balled my eyes out at the end when President hugged me...and then I had to go downstairs to where the rest of the missionaries in my zone had arrived while I talked upstairs...and they all saw my tear-streaked, red, puffy face the second I walked down. Yeah. I got a lot of stares and weird looks. Lots of them were super confused why I was having such a rough time lol! None of them knew I had my interview until later on hahaha, gosh, I'm such a mess! Curse my weak tear ducts.
For Traditions with the Taggart's they shared with us one of their traditions. Each year they write on a piece of paper a gift they want to give God that year. Then they put it in a box to open next Christmas. Sister Taggart showed us her box, and she has dozens of tiny pieces of paper full of the gifts she has given God over the years! I was so excited to write mine down and I keep the box by my clock so I can remember it every day. What a cool idea! Definitely something I'm going to continue.

Wednesday we had service and a doctors appointment for S.Hall, and then we went to dinner at Bro. Lloyd's house. You should have gotten a pic of me with a huuuuuge steak mom haha! He loves cooking and he's really good at it too, so it's always a pleasure to go over there :)  Right after that we went to the church to help out with a Relief Society Christmas dinner, where we got piles of food handed to us on plates and in Tupperware to take home. Ugh. You had to roll me home that day- I was SO full! But it was really fun to talk with and get to know the RS sisters better. This ward is stellar. I love love love love love everyone here! NJ has become a home away from home for me. I love this crazy state haha!

So Thursday a member backed into our car and left a teeny lil scratch on our bumper, but even though it was so small, we still had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and online forms about it. The poor member was distraught about it, but we've kept assuring her it's fine and it isn't even that bad. So we'll see how long it takes with the estimate and taking it in to the shop. We also have to get our oil changed and new windshield wipers....oh and our brakes checked. Lol! "This car is a disaster!" (Please read that in Esteban's voice from Suite Life;)

OKAY! Now time for the good stuff haha! Saturday we got to go to a........drum roll please........Alpaca Farm!!!! Yup. Alpacas. Here in NJ. Spoiler alert: they're super soft. Lol, our LA's son works there and they had a holiday extravaganza this weekend. We stopped in for 30 minutes to talk with him and show our support. He was thrilled we had come, so that was cool! We got to pet and feed and get our faces licked by a Tibetan Yak named Zak, and we got to pet and take pics with Paca-Claus! So, some interesting facts for you- yaks have no top teeth, they love eating donuts, and the babies are adorable. And alpacas are way nicer than llamas, they're super soft, and a sweater made from their fur costs $180. Overall it was a pretty neat experience haha! We got to talk to a couple of cool people too. After the farm we went to our ward Christmas brunch. That was also a blast! We had our investigator Lisa there with her 2 daughters and the ward just scooped em right up!! They loved the event and they had such a fun time talking with us and the members. The only problem with them is that they're super devoted to their church since they've been going to the same one for 22years- so we'll see where this goes. But the coolest thing is that the ward is gung-ho about missionary work! They all want to come with us to see them, and we've just been swarmed with people asking about Lisa. Hopefully we can keep the masses at bay, we don't want to overwhelm her and scare her off haha :) It was a beautiful Saturday.

And then yesterday we got to teach YW's!! I was SO nervous. It was weird haha, you'd think I'd be used to teaching people now, but I was really wanting to just go home sick from church or something lol. I'm so lame! But we talked about spiritual gifts and how we can develop them/recognize them/ use them to help others. It was a Spirit-filled 30 minutes, and I and a few of the leaders teared up a bit (though that doesn't take much for me...) I kinda miss YW's, in the sense that I miss my awesome leaders and all that they did for me over the years, and for the girls that made Wednesday's and camps fun :)  So it ended up going real well, and the leaders were grateful we had come. Woohoo! I'm glad that's over haha

One funny thing this week: I thought that most people in the ward knew I was going home soon, but it turns out that almost no one knows! The people I told had forgotten, and the others just didn't know- so that's been the talk of the town lately. The rumors spread like wildfire haha! I think pretty much everyone knows now, because I have random members from the Elder's area coming up and talking to me about it now haha. It's been funny to see everyone's reactions to the news 😂

I love you all!
Stay Jersey Strong.
Love, Sister McAllister
 first snowfall
 Zak the Tibetan Yak

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

(Please) Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!!....December 5, 2016

Hola mi familia y amigos! 
We can now all safely say "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!" without getting yelled at by the Scrooges out there who like Thanksgiving more haha
Guess what!! It finally snowed here. Last night we got a whole......inch! Yes. An entire INCH of snow! I was soooooooooooo excited and yet so mad it wasn't more haha! But apparently it's supposed to snow more this week, so I'm looking forward to it. I need a better Christmas than last year. Ain't no way I'm gonna let it be 65 degrees again! It didn't even feel like Christmas (probably because we went to the beach and there was a bunch of people surfing too haha).
In December there are LOTS of activities for me to look forward to! We have the missionary Christmas Fireside, an all-mission Conference, Traditions with the Taggart's tomorrow where we get to hang out with President and Sister Taggart, and we're going to Ellis Island on the 17th, AND our ward has a bunch of lunches/dinners/fun events they're doing! And of course, Christmas itself. Can't forget about that. Woohoo! Best month ever!

This week was super weird for me. There were transfers on Tuesday, and for once in my life I didn't go! What?!? I ALWAYS go since I keep getting new companions every transfer. But we had a nice loooooong Tues to go and work instead, so that was awesome! We got to see lots of less actives, and even a few that have never let us in before! Christmas really does soften hearts people! When we mentioned we wanted to share a Christmas video they let us right in. Then we talked about #LIGHTtheWORLD and about the example of Jesus Christ. I wouldn't say we were exactly sneaky, but we definitely were able to get inside so we could talk about how Christ can help them and how they can come closer to Him- so I call it a win/win haha :)

District meeting was also weird on Wednesday- half of our zone got transferred out on Tuesday, so we have a bunch of people I've never served around or even seen before haha! It was sad because all of my friends left, but now I get to chill with new people before I leave. Hopefully I'll make some new friends, Wednesday wasn't too promising lol. I'm like an odd duck in this zone now, so I gotta get my social on! But you all know how hard that is for me...
Anyway! We got to practice for the musical Fireside on Wednesday as well, and let's just say not one of us knows how to sing! The poor missionaries who actually know how were having such a rough time teaching us how to sing in parts and get the notes right. I'm just glad it's not only our zone singing- we have another 60ish missionaries to drown out our voices lol!

This week we were able to pick up a new investigator. Her name is Mary and she's 84 years old, and just the sweetest lady you could ever meet! She's actually a member's referral, they've been chopping her wood and helping her for 3 years now, and they asked us to teach her! She's really open to our message too. She's had some hard trials over the past few years, and she's lost loved one along the way, so she was thrilled to hear that families can be together forever. We're going to be seeing her every other day now! We know that through that member family, and through others in the ward, she is going to feel SO much love it will (gently) blow her off her feet!! We're excited to keep working with her and loving her.

This week I've also learned a lot about service and the power of it. Since #LIGHTtheWORLD started and has been going, we have found many ways to serve our neighbors and friends. Even the small and simple acts of service have changed and touched hearts! I've got a firm testimony that service not only softens hearts, but melts them! It changes a person's perspective of you and it will open doors and change lives. The times on my mission, and especially in this area that I've felt the Spirit lift others, has been when we stop and serve them. Guys, service works miracles!!! I love it.

We weren't allowed to watch the Christmas Devotional last night, so I'm looking forward to watching that today. I'm sure it had lots of good stuff in it! :)
 And to end, here's a scripture that really stood out to me this week in my studies: "But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them. Therefore they hushed their fears..." Mosiah 23:27-28

Love you all!!!
Stay Jersey Strong.
Love, Sister McAllister
 beginning of the end??
 tree from mom
 DQ closes for the winter so they had to make one final run
The Store they helped organize and clean

Grateful For Ham, Left Legs, and Water...November 28, 2016

Hello (hello) Hello (hello) I welcome you today! Hello (hello) Hello I'm glad you came my way- to share with me a Preparation day, and be my guest in a very special waaaaaaaaaaay! Hello (hello) Hello (helloooooooo) I welcome you today (hey)!!!!!!

Ahhh, the good ole Primary days, full of snacks, songs, and the never-ending urge to wiggle out of your seat like it was on fire. Those were the days *wipes away a tear*

Hey, so this week was super awesome. And before I get into it, I'm going to go on a side tangent and make a remark on how weird and completely random my email opening paragraphs have what the flip?? I'm so weird. The mission is getting to my brain haha!

Super sorry I was a lameo about emails last week! I hate to say it, but I'm super unmotivated to take 2 hours and email, when I could be doing something whooping elders at dodgeball! Haha, so ya, sorry about that. I promised myself that I would be better this week. So I'm making sure I'm better. Cuz I'm trying to call myself a "truther" (10 points for whoever gets that reference)!

Ok! So! This week! Yes. On to that. Right now. No more tangents. Focus. *hee hee who who hee hee who who* Wait, why do people breathe like that anyway? I feel like it would just continue to stress me out, not make anything better. Huh. Weird. Hahahah I'm just pulling your legs, I'll get on to the letter now ;)

This is going to be a long've been warned.
This week was a BLAST! Oh my goodness I am thankful for SO. MANY. THINGS. I'll list some, and get to others as I go along. I'm grateful for this ward and how kind and loving and funny they are, I'm grateful that 2 of our 3 dinner appointments on Thanksgiving served turkey AND ham, I'm grateful that my team won so much in the Turkey Bowl and that our color was camo, I'm grateful my trainer gave me an extra blanket 14 months ago so I'm not freezing now, I'm grateful for my companions past and present and for all they taught me (and for all they put up with!), I'm grateful for my dog who is cute and lovable and not weird like some of the dogs out here, I'm grateful for the use of my left leg (I shall explain later), I'm grateful for indoor plumbing and clean water that you don't have to boil whenever you want to drink it (also will be explained later), I'm grateful for my cuckoo family and for how I grew up, and most of all I'm grateful for my Savior and my Father in Heaven and all they did for me!

So I probably haven't told you this yet, seeing as I'm a total flip on Pdays and all, but guess who is singing in a sextuple at the statewide Christmas Missionary Fireside...yup. This girl. The one with NO musical or singing talent WHATSOEVER. Tip of the day, never say yes to a nice Korean Elder who asks for a favor- don't be deceived by their niceness!!! I will now be singing a 5 minute long song, in front of 500+ people, with only 5 other voices to mask mine. Aye ya yie. I'm so nervous about this! I need vocal lessons, or I need to pull an Ursula and steal Adele's voice or something. So yeah, this is my next greatest adventure into the unknown and uncomfortable! Woohoo!

As you may have already guessed, the highlight of this week was Thanksgiving. Literally EVERYTHING happened on Thanksgiving. Everything. We woke up around 6am, got ready, donned our football-domination-clothes, and headed out with the Elders to a diner in Florham Park to have breakfast as a zone before the Turkey Bowl. As we were leaving  we noticed the streets were flooded on both sides with running water, though it hadn't rained. So we knew something was up, but we kept going. Anyway, it was a super fun breakfast! We got some cool pics that I'll be sending later today! Then we had the Turkey Bowl!!! I was SO pumped for my team! It was E.Hicks, E.Oakley, E.Peterson, E.Manuma, and S.Millington with a couple others- and we looked super tight. We had black, camo, and eye black as our uniforms. It was sweet! We played for a few hours, and on one of the fields it was covered in dew/water...k, I literally took 2 steps and slipped flat on my back. And that happened 3 times in the course of 15 minutes. After the game I noticed my left hip was suuuuuuuper sore. I couldn't lift my leg very high without it hurting. I shook it off and kept playing though (I know I know, don't give the screen that look mom!) Ya, so my hip continued to be on fire until I woke up on Sunday. I literally couldn't even lift my leg to put my pajamas on it hurt so bad. And it's funny, because I learned I do a LOT of things with that leg: get into bed, get into the shower, climb stairs, etc and I couldn't anymore haha! So I'm grateful for the functionality of my left leg!! Also on Thanksgiving, all that water we saw on the streets? Yup, the water main broke. No showers for us after football haha! Our whole town was without water....alllllllll day. And we've been on a boil advisory ever since- we've had to boil any water we want to drink. Some members came to the rescue and got us a couple gallons of water, but we've still boiled some and left it to cool overnight. Craziness! So I'm grateful for indoor plumbing and clean water.

On Thanksgiving we got to go to the Trunk's for lunch, the Jensen's for appetizers, and the Cook's for dinner and dessert. Boy lemme tell ya, I am SO glad I wore my stretchy skirt! Ain't no way I would have fit into anything else after that- I almost needed to be rolled home. Our food comas hit hard that night haha! It was an awesome day and I'm so grateful for this ward and all it does for us.

Speaking of which! Drum roll please..................IM STAYING IN SPARTA FOR MY LAST TRANSFER!!!! I was honestly so scared they'd pull me and pop me somewhere random to die, but now I get to die here! And S.Hall will still be my companion, and E.Victor and E.McBride will still be in the ward too! Woohoo! This is going to be the BEST 6 weeks ever! I'm excited! And's my last 6 weeks. Yikes! No thanks. Send me back to the MTC. Sorry mom, I'm going on another mission! I'm not ready for the real world yet haha

Ok, last little bit about my week, and then I'll hush up! On Friday and Saturday we helped Sister Harriott and Sister Boyle with the thrift store they're opening at the bottom of our building. We've been moving tables and chairs, loading and unloading trucks, dusting furniture, organizing and pricing knickknacks, etc etc. Boy are we sore!! But it was so fun, and I just love giving service. I'm excited for the new Christmas initiative #LIGHTtheWORLD and how it focuses on giving service each day. We also got to watch a Thanksgiving parade from the store on Saturday, it was our own teeny tiny Macy's Parade! It had 5 Santa's in it, so I'm sure that confused the children, and it also had LOTS of fire engines too! So that was awesome.

Life is good over here! I love it!
Some things i loved from this week:
President Harold B. Lee “Life is God’s gift to man. What we do with our life is our gift to God.”
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994): “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.”

Love you all!!! Hope you had good turkey :)
Stay Jersey Strong!
Love, Sister McAllister
 Turkey Bowl
 Thanksgiving Parade