Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reunited


My sister put together this wonderful video from the day I got home after being away from my family for 18 months to serve the Lord. I loved my mission. I love the Philippines, the food, the culture, and the even the crazy heat, but most especially I love and appreciate all the people I met, that have forever impacted and blessed my life. I am SO thankful that I had this opportunity. I couldn't have asked for a better family to love and support me through it all. Seeing them again was SO amazingly happy. Hope you enjoy the video!

Monday, August 11, 2014

LAST EMAIL FROM SISTER STABENOW

Well worn and ready to come home!



Dear Family,
       Well, like we always sing here in the Philippines, “The time is far spent, there is little remaining” and it looks like my time is just about up here. None of this feels real yet, but I think once all is packed and done it’ll start to hit me, and I’ll start to reflect more about what really has just happened in the last 18 months of my life. There are lots of sad goodbyes still up ahead these next few days, but I am excited to see you all so soon! Like I said this hasn’t really sunk in yet, and it’s because life is still busy here.  This past week we had another wonderful MLC in Cauayan, I love being surrounded by such good people, the Rahlfs and the senior couples here are all SO great. We had one last splits this past Thursday and I got to spend the day with Sister Howard who’s from Vegas. We both enjoyed and needed splits that day and were able to learn a lot from each other. One success from the week was our Ward Home Evening that we put on this past Friday night, we had a lot of fun with it, and were so happy to see so many people that we are teaching come and enjoy themselves. Sorry I’m going to keep this kind of short for now since there is still much to be done today. But I do want to share one story from our work. We have been teaching a woman named Jamaica for just the past couple of weeks, and I LOVE getting to go and teach her. She asks the best questions and is SO interested and excited about learning the gospel. Well we taught her last Tuesday about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and invited her to pray about it. We went back on Thursday and were disappointed because she wasn’t feeling well so we didn’t get to teach. Well we returned again on Saturday and she explained what happened. She told us that that night after we left she decided to really pray about it, she explained her sweet and simple prayer to us, she prayed and asked if God is there, and if He is our father. And she said- if you are our father, will you help me to know you are there and will you help me to overcome my smoking problem. (we’ve still not taught her about the Word of Wisdom even yet). Well that night she began to get sick and was sick for about 4 days, and she said that ever since that night she can’t stand the smell any more of cigarette smoke, and she hasn’t smoked since. She recognizes the blessing coming into her life right now and she’s very thankful for it. She says they even seem happier now and she feels more love within their family. I LOVE getting to teach the gospel and see it change and bless lives. It is really just the best feeling. I walked around that day with a huge smile on my face just so happy. The gospel is true, it is the very thing that these people are in need of. I totally took for granted what I had growing up, but because of the experiences I’ve had here, I now treasure what a huge blessing the gospel is, and what it has done for our family. I am eternally thankful for this chance I had to come here to serve others and that I was able to learn and grow myself as well. I’ll keep this short and save the rest for another day. I love you all, thank you for being the greatest support to me! I truly am so blessed. Love you, and see you soon!

Love,
Sister Stabenow
Her Last District in the Philippines

Sisters in her Apartent



Us with the Sebastian family

Monday, July 28, 2014

Take up our crosses and follow Him



Well it has been a very interesting week and one I won’t forget. We have lots of meetings and splits so it’s definitely keeping us very busy. Having only one cycle with a companion goes very quick, and we’re always excited when we can get to have a normal day of work together. Because we are so busy it still doesn’t feel real that I’ll be leaving here soon. We’re going going going and trying to work hard to improve this area. It will be weird to just sit and relax for a minute when I’m back.
                So this past week we went to Cauayan and had a really good zone conference all about the Restoration. It was fitting with Pioneer day this past week, and I loved the reminder of all that people were willing to do for the restoration of the gospel. I am so thankful to be a part of this sacred work. I now understand a bit better how our whole lives are dedicated to this. The hastening can’t move forward without the efforts of the members of the wards or branches, fulfilling callings, and sharing the gospel with others. So I’m excited and ready  to do this in the next chapter of my life as well.  This morning I was reading from Uchtdorf’s last conference talk from the Priesthood session – “Are you sleeping through the Restoration?” and it was awesome. I loved this quote from him- “There is too much at stake for us as individuals, as families, and as Christ’s church to give only a halfhearted effort to this sacred work. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It is an effort of once and for all.” I’m thankful for these things I’m learning on my mission. I had no idea before how big of a role we all play in missionary work.
                Yesterday I’m sitting in relief society listening to the lesson where we talked about Elder Holland’s last conference talk about the cost of discipleship. The teacher shares the story about the missionary sisters getting talked bad at and having food thrown at them, ha and I’m sitting there thinking- I’m pretty lucky, I’ve never had anything too bad happen to me like that on the mission. Well maybe Heavenly Father took note of that thought and went and said “Oh Sister Stabenow, we must have missed you.” Haha. Well it wasn’t that bad, no food was thrown or anything like that. I’ll be able to give you more details of it when I get home, but for now I’ll fill you in on a bit of what happened. We were looking for the house of a man we’d met a few weeks ago, since he said he had more questions for us and is usually available on Sundays. We met his sister, a woman in maybe her 40’s or 50’s and ask her where we can find the guy, and all of a sudden we’ve got this angry woman to deal with. We explained why we were there and that her brother had invited us to come teach him. She was staring me down with such a disgusted look on her face and was using the most condescending tone. To add on to it, we’ve now got a little audience of people watching this go down. I’m ready to walk away but my companion keeps her cool and keeps talking to her. Again though the lady is directing everything at me and is staring me down. She’s using pure English the whole time even with me responding in pure Tagalog. She says several mean things and then continues in her insulting and mocking tone to say “Do you understand?” over and over. I keep my smile on my face, but could feel my jaw clench as she tells us we should not come back or be working over in that area and that we should go out to the mountains to teach the ignorant people. That was definitely the first time in my life where I felt my blood boiling. I did my best to remain kind, ha and I could just keep hearing my mission president’s words of- “a kind word turneth away wrath” over and over in my mind. I was happy to have a companion there who was aware of how I was feeling. I’d respond to the lady respectfully and in pure Tagalog and I was doing so well to not say anything mean or react how she was probably hoping. We explained we were there for a good reason and so naturally doing the inviting that I do as a missionary I told her she’s welcome to join and listen if we go back and teach her brother another time. Again I’m doing this all in Tagalog, but unconsciously one English smart alec comment slips out when she responds to my invitation and says “No no no no no, because I already know EVERYTHING” to which I respond “Oh Really?” (but still in my happy nice voice). Haha oh man. I knew after that that it was time for me to keep quiet. It was an unforgettable experience. And even though it’s no fun to be treated badly, and especially with an audience watching, I’d gladly stand up and do it again. We may not be asked to do as the pioneers did and walk thousands of miles, or be willing to die and give up our lives for the restoration of the gospel, but we’re asked to LIVE for the gospel, and to do our part in this time- To take up our cross and follow Him, which I will forever be glad to do. I love you guys and thank you for your constant love and support that lifts and strengthens me. Hope you all have a great week!
-          Sister Stabenow


Drying their shoes:)

On splits!



Monday, July 21, 2014

Catching up

Dear Family,
I’ll try and catch you up a bit on the last couple of weeks. We had a great time in Cauayan last week aside from me being sick and not able to eat much at that point. Our meetings were great and my comp and I were way excited to be staying over at the mission home. Me and a couple other sisters were there preparing for a lesson we’d be teaching the next day to the new sisters training leaders, and we talked about all these concerns we have about how to make a few things more effective- our splits and companionship study. We combined ideas and then President Rahlf came and listened to what we had to say and agreed with the changes that we’d like to see made. It was really fun to just sit in as a group and see how President really valued what we had to say. Now there have been some really great changes taking place and it has helped our work so much. I’ve really enjoyed the past couple of splits trying out the new way we are doing it. Ha all of these changes are so helpful, and sadly happening at the very last second of my mission, but hey better late than never.
My trip last week was fun, but I was SO happy to be back in Santiago with my companion. It was so weird staying in Manila that night alone without a companion. There was lots of good food in Manila and shopping, but I sat there at the end of the day by ocean realizing that adventures are fun and all, but what really matters are the people you’re with. So yeah I was happy to get back to these sisters that I love and I’ll be very excited as well to get back to the family that I love so much.
We’ve had some great things happening in our work, with more less actives returning now to church and coming consistently. The ward is getting more involved in our work and it is such a blessing when that happens. We are seeing progress with our investigators we just need to get over the obstacle of them not coming to church yet. But I know we’ll get there. We’ve been even more prepared for our work these past couple weeks really applying the changes that have been made. We have had really great experiences with our lessons and it is the happiest feeling walking away knowing that the spirit was there guiding us the whole time. It’s been really rainy the past few days, so we usually come home wet, with muddy feet, but happy and just enjoying this work. We love being missionaries. This is such a great end to the mission and I’m so glad it has become what I hoped it would be. Happy Birthday this week to Mom and Alyssa! I love you guys and can’t wait to see you all soon!
-          Sister Stabenow

Monday, July 14, 2014

Manila!

Dear Family,
I’m here in Manila right now!!  It is weird to be back here in Manila this time not as overwhelmed by everything and actually understanding what is happening around us. :) We had a fun day, flying here from Cauayan, then going directly to the fingerprinting place, and after that we were free for the day, so our driver took us and just dropped us off at the Mall of Asia for the day. Lots of fun, but it would have been better to have had sisters around haha. Me and three Elders at the mall was funny, the most exciting thing for us was eating…. A lot ha. Wendy’s, Krispy Kreme, Subway, all these food places that we haven’t seen our whole missions. We were able to do pretty much everything we wanted to at the mall, I got to spend a few minutes in… Forever 21! :) But I really enjoyed just sitting out by the bay watching the sunset and eating dinner. I have missed seeing the beach. Ha what a weird day. But back to my week, we had MLC this past week on Wednesday, and New Leadership Training on Thursday for my companion. Both really great meetings. We got to sleep over Wednesday night in the mission home, and it was good timing I guess since I was feeling really sick this past week. So I was able to rest a bit there. But despite that, it was over all a really great week. We are LOVING this cycle and are doing great. Sorry this will be short and is just some details for you. I’ll have to write you a bit more next week. I love you and hope you’re all doing great! 
Off to Manila for Fingerprinting!




Wendy's!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Save the best for last…



Great friends from Alicia came to visit




 Last Cycle na! So I’ll fill you in on the past fun week I had here. Tuesday morning we said goodbye to Sister Maestrado, she then left us behind at the apartment and headed to Cauayan for all of the farewell stuff. It was sad to say goodbye! We will miss having her here. That day I worked with Sister Hirst and Sister Molisi and we had so much fun covering both areas and just laughing all day long together. On Wednesday we had transfer meeting. It was SO good to see some old friends and say goodbye to a few of them since that’s the last time I’ll be seeing them here. I had a feeling before about who my new companion might be, and I was right! I get to be comps with SISTER ILAGAN :) It’s only been a few days together as comps, but already we are way close and are having so much fun working together and getting to know each other. She is an awesome missionary and I feel like I’ve learned so much from her already.
Having a good 4th of July!
            Glad to hear that you had a good 4th of July, I loved seeing the pictures. We found our own ways to celebrate it here and make it a fun day. Pancakes, watermellon, and rootbeer floats :)
 Our work has also been good this past week, Sister Ilagan has been getting to know our investigators and members here.  Our investigators this week are doing good. We are teaching this awesome sister named May, I can totally see her testimony growing, and she said she feels really good about what we're teaching and feels like it is all true. Her husband is always gone and busy with work but is supportive and says its a good thing that she is doing having the missionaries come teach her. One problem is that they aren't married yet, so that's a big obstacle. We are going to try and find a time where we can hopefully teach her husband as well. We also have another investigator who is really interested. She opened up to us about abuse and problems with in her family. They aren’t married yet either, but she has 3 little kids and is currently 6 months pregnant. She can see the hope of the gospel though, and loves how she feels when we come and teach. She wants to give her children a better life. We also have this cool tatay investigator, who knows so much already about the church it blows me away haha, like where joseph smith was killed, who Gordon B. Hinckley is, etc. We love teaching him. My comp is new here but has been doing a good job at getting to know these people, gaining their trust, and making them feel comfortable. I know this will be a great cycle together. And I’m pretty sure they saved the best cycle for last :) This will be a busy 6 weeks with all that is scheduled and planned, especially with meetings, but we are excited and are going to make the most of it. I feel like I’m going to blink and it will all be over. I’m just going to make the most of it and enjoy this time left here. I’ve been so happy here and feel like the real test is coming up- if I’ll now apply all these things I’ve learned the past year and a half to life when I get home.
            One very special thing from the week- yesterday my sweet friends from Alicia came to our ward here in Santiago to see me. I loved seeing them again, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been so blessed to have made such amazing friends here on the mission. I am doing well and can’t wait to see what good things are up in store this cycle. I love you and miss you all! Take care!
-       Sister Stabenow


Sister Spencer and Sister Stabenow

Monday, June 30, 2014

Changes are coming!

Dear Family,
     Lots of changes will be happening this week! My companion will be heading home this week, meaning I’ll get my new and last companion here on Wednesday. I’m excited to find out who it will be. One of the other sisters from the house will also be transferred so we’ll get two new people in the apartment. I have really enjoyed this past cycle with Sister Maestrado and can’t believe how fast that all just flew by. We are happy with all that has happened this past cycle and glad we were able to see some great things happening for some of our less actives coming back to church.
            This past week was kind of weird for a few reasons, 1 seeing my companion packing up her things to go home, and 2 going to Cauayan for a workshop for all of the missionaries leaving within the next two transfers. It was weird to be a part of that. One way happy thing, I ran into Sister Miller at the mission offices and got to talk with her. Once again, so glad to have her as my good good friend here in the mission. We usually only get a couple minutes to talk, but we can catch up so quickly and then have time to just talk and laugh about how far we’ve come in our missions.
            We had two splits, back to back this week which is always a little stressful, but they went well. I had SO much fun going on splits with Sister Molisi, we’ve lived together this cycle and she and I had such a fun and good day of work. I loved seeing how much she is loving the mission and is doing so well here. For the next splits I was with Sister Leoncio, once again, such a good missionary here. I loved teaching with her and learning so much from her that day. I am so glad I’ve been able to meet so many great sisters here. We’ve been able to do lots of finding this past week on our splits and I’m excited to just get to meet more and more people and they seem so welcoming and friendly. Loving it. One serious challenge we continue to face is that those we teach are not married yet, so we’ve got a ways to go with them, but we are excited about the potential changes.
            When we walked into sacrament meeting yesterday our Bishop told my comp she’d be talking, ha then he also announced to the ward in the we’ll be having a farewell party for her tonight (Monday). Ha, we weren’t expecting either of those things. We’re lucky to be serving in such a sweet ward.
            It was over all a good week, and I’ve got some good things in mind right now as goals to finish strong and use well what time I have left here. I will have more details for you this next week of all the changes! I love you and miss you!
-       Sister Stabenow  
p.s. sorry my letters are getting kinda boring, i'll just have to share more of the details with you in about 6 weeks ;)

our happy apartment of sisters

Sister Stabenow and Sister Maestrao at the
career workshop

splits