Monday, December 30, 2013

Bilo, Bilo

Hey family,
It was so fun skyping with you guys this past week, getting to see your faces and hear your voices. Sorry again for getting emotional for a second there, haha it came out of nowhere. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas together. If anything this Christmas really taught me how important family is, I am seeing more and more just how blessed we are as a family.
We went on splits this week in Alicia 1, and I was companions again with Sister Hafen. She is an awesome friend, and I LOVE when I get to go on splits with her. The whole splits was just so good, it made me happy to see the success in their area, and I know that it is a result of their hard work. I love getting to go on these splits and get to meet the people they visit and just spend a day with them. On Friday morning of the splits we went and had a CSP at a members house and had a cleaning project, the member was super nice and let me be her helper to prepare the food with her, and so she taught me how to make one of my favorite dishes here- bilo bilo. 
To sum it all up I’ll say that work in Jones this week was challenging. There were definitely some ups and downs. One sad thing… our investigator Rowena passed away on Saturday. She’s the 31 year old wife and mother that had leukemia. We hadn’t been able to see her the past few weeks when we’d go to her house because of how bad she’d been feeling. I am happy knowing the plan of salvation, I am so happy that we were able to see her progress and embrace the gospel and really love the Book of Mormon. I know she will continue to be taught the gospel and will continue to grow. I feel blessed that we got to get to know her and see her and her sweet relationship with her two little kids.
There is just two more weeks til transfers and there will be lots of changes. Most likely a new companion and new area. I’m excited for the new experiences up ahead and for the new people that I will meet. Each area and companion teaches me knew things, so I am excited for the progress up ahead. I was reading in my journal back to the first few months of my mission, and I can tell that I’m growing up and changing here. I love serving here, and getting to be a part of the hastening of the Lord’s work. I’m excited for this start of a new year as I am starting to realize more and more that I can accomplish more and become more as I focus, set goals, push myself, and rely on the Lord more in my life. I love you and hope you have a great New Years. Have fun with all the cousins!
(p.s. On Wednesday you can say… Sister Stabenow comes home this year J )
Mahal ko kayo! Ingat kayo palagi!
-          Sister Stabenow

pictures- splits with sister hafen, party for our landlord's grandson

Getting her hair done this morning:)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Traveling Sisters

Dear Family,
It’s Christmas! This past Tuesday we had a Christmas mission devotional in Cauayan, complete with awesome messages from the Rahlfs, food from Brother Pete, and games (courtesty of the STL’s). Ha mine and Sister Daelo’s game finally came together the morning of and it ended up being fun. I’ll send some pictures. I really enjoyed the day, getting to see my anak, Sister Grande, and getting to feel more of the Christmas spirit. This is going to be a very different Christmas than ever before, but to paraphrase what President Rahlf said… if I had to be away from my family at this special time of year, I’m glad it is here, and I am glad to be doing the Lord’s work. The day of Christmas here will be good, skyping with you all in the morning, and then we’ll head back to Jones and visit the members throughout the day and join in on their celebrations. Ha we basically plan on being fed all day.
So this week we were once again the traveling Sisters. We went on splits twice this week, and both of them went really well. I love these Sisters in my zone, they work hard and I feel like I’m learning so much from them. For our first splits I was able to work with Sister Tenepere (sounds like Katy Perry) haha, she is just 19 years old, and wow she’s a rockstar of a missionary. My next splits was with Sister Palomo who will be heading home after this cycle. She is a strong missionary, and I was really touched by her strong testimony of the gospel and of this work. Her mom died while she was out here on the mission. She talked to me a bit about it, and seriously she is so strong, we’re so blessed that we can handle the hard things in life because we know Heavenly Father’s plan for us. I enjoyed our splits, it really is fun to pop into the missionary work of other sisters, to get to meet the investigators and less actives they visit and spend just a day with them. These splits are strengthening and teaching me so much, and I feel so lucky that I get to be doing this right now at this point in my mission.
Even with the setbacks in the work sometimes here I didn’t feel discouragement this week in me or my companionship. I know we are doing our part and we will continue to work and pray and try to help these people overcome these concerns and obstacles. Time is flying by here, and before I know it I’ll be transferred. I know I’ll be leaving these people and I hope I will have been a help and a blessing to them and I hope they know that I love them and this little branch here in Jones.
Well, that’s all for this week. I seriously can’t wait for skype! I love you all and can’t wait to see you soon!
Mahal ko kayo!
-   Sister Stabenow     pictures- doing laundry the other morning, super cold with the rain getting us wet. at least i put my raincoat to good use :)

Splits with Sister Tenepere  
Splits with Sister Palomo

Monday, December 16, 2013


Hello Everyone,
How many days left ‘til Christmas? Can’t believe how fast it is coming! This has been a crazy busy week here with traveling every day but yesterday, and next week looks even busier since we’ll have two splits instead of just one since we have more Sisters in our zone this cycle. Last Wednesday we had our Missionary Leadership Council meeting and it was awesome. I love being in the mission home with the Rahlfs, and learning from them and seeing what great examples and role models they are. Our meeting was SO awesome. We had a great Christmas lesson from Sister Rahlf about the history of “The Messiah”  and then President gave an awesome lesson all about the Parable of the Sower and about what kind of soil each of us are. I love one thing he said, that the Lord knows how to change hearts to become good soil.  This will probably all make more sense to you if you’ve recently read the parable from the Bible. I’m so excited for upcoming changes in this mission, I know that this is the Lord’s work and that He leads this mission. I’m happy to be a part of this hastening time. I love seeing this work change people, myself, other missionaries, and people that we teach. I am so thankful that we can all change, that we can grow and are given the experiences and trials that will help us to become more.
On Splits
This week we had splits in Alicia, and I was with Sister Warr, she is 19, but way taller than me haha. I loved working with her, she is just way cool and easy to get along with. She reminds me of Kelsey a bit honestly. We had a really good day together, she really gets missionary work and is being changed by it so much. She has grown so much just within the last 6 weeks that I’ve known her. I love splits, I learn from these sisters and learn just how much good with can really do, and that we are capable and can contribute so much to this work as we are obedient and work hard and follow the spirit.
One happy surprise this week is that President and Sister Rahlf came to our branch for sacrament meeting yesterday and it was awesome. They shared great messages, and I felt very lucky that we got to have them come visit. Well, that’s all for this week. I hope you all have a great week. I love you and can’t wait to skype next week. I’ll email you next week with more details about how it will all work. Mahal na mahal ko kayo!
-          Sister Stabenow

Monday, December 9, 2013

shumortcut.... gotta love taglish:)

Hello family :) 

We had another really fast but really good week. We’re later emailing today, so I don’t have a ton of time, but I’ll try to summarize some of the week. I’ll email a picture of my two little brothers here… the one on the right is a member, 17 years old and his name is Oliver, the one on the left is Jaysine and he’s 14 and is one of our investigators. Landon, I’m definitely reminded of you, and I’ve shown them your picture and told them your height, and they’re jealous, these boys are all about basketball haha. So I’ll try and quickly share a story from the week about them. We had a family home evening with them earlier in the week and taught them about Sabbath day since we knew that basketball is what has been keeping them away from church. We let them think about it and decide what they’d do on Sunday. Well… there they both were on Sunday morning at the chapel, and early! And, Oliver was asked to give a talk, so he gets up and gives a really good and bold talk about the Sabbath day. I was SO proud haha. He needs to be the strong one in his family, and the example also for his neighbor Jaysine. He doesn’t have long before he can serve a mission, so it makes me happy seeing these changes that will help him get prepared. I love this branch, this area, our investigators, and my companion. I love these people, I find myself getting so worried and concerned for those that we visit. It makes me sad to see them making wrong choices that won’t help their life to improve. But we love them nonetheless and hopefully things will improve. Sorry this really is so short! I love and miss you all!
Oliver and Jaysine

Monday, December 2, 2013

december na?

Hello Family,
                Sounds like you all had a great Thanksgiving, thanks for sending me pictures! This was another really fast, but good week. This next week is transfer week and I’m happy to say nothing will be changing with me and my companion!
So, on Tuesday we went on splits with the sisters in Echague- Sister Peckham, Sister Karavanua, and Sister Matautia. I love their companionship so much, Sister Peckham is training both of the sisters and they’re doing a great job. It was so much fun with them, haha I just love their personalities. It was kinda full circle getting to go on splits with Sister Peckham because she was my Sister’s Training Leader back in my first area, and I was actually the first sister she went on splits with. She is now finishing her mission this week and then heading back to Utah, and I’m just realizing more and more how fast missions go by. She actually just now stopped by the computer shop and we said goodbye. I’m gonna miss her! She’s been an awesome example and friend to me here.
Sister Stabenow and Sister Peckham
Going out on Splits 

Work this week was a little slow- hard to get lessons and all but one of our fellowshippers cancelled on us. So some frustrations, but we did meet some new really nice people that hopefully we’ll be teaching soon. We had some good lessons though and I feel like we’re really starting to build good relationships with the members; this week we’re finally going to have some Family Home Evenings here! Well hopefully I’ll have more to write you about next week. Sorry this is short and not about very much haha, but here are some pictures to make up for a really short email. Haha. Love and miss you all, oh and can’t wait to skype in a few weeks! 

Having traditional Thanksgiving dinner:) 

Having fun with some cute kids!

It actually get cold enough that she had to break out her blanket, she said it smelled like home:)  And a good sweatshirt always brings comfort:)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wet Feet!!

Dear Family,
So much RAIN! Tama na. Haha wet and muddy feet palagi, pero ayos lang, sanay na ako. Also, FYI, my crocs lasted 9 months of my mission- so sad, they served me well, but now have a hole in the bottom.
                Well, there’s a lot to be thankful for, thank you for my package I got this last week! Sister Daelo and I are excited to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. Also to add a bit of the thanksgiving spirit to our apartment we put up a thankful tree or “Kami ay nagpapasalamat sa…” Ha we started it a few weeks ago when we’d come home and have ourselves list off a few of the things good about our day and different things we were thankful for.
So this week I was thankful for-
·         -Getting a letter from my friend Erica from my first area :)
·         -Going on splits again in Alicia
·        - Having our quarterly interviews with President and getting to spend a few minutes with the Rahlfs
·         -The members that still came to church even though there was a Pacquia fight on TV
·         -And members feeding us like crazy
Yesterday Sister Daelo and I celebrated her 1 year mark on her mission, so I made some lunch and some no bake cookies. Ha, and of course it made me think of me and my friends getting together and making no bakes at Spencer’s.  I think one day after the mission we need to get together and do that again. So like I mentioned in my thankful list, church was good, I mean some people definitely missed out on church, but I was happy that there were still people there. The high council men from Alicia came and spoke and shared about the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors in the book of Alma (ch.56-57, 48) I loved what they shared. He used Alma 57:21 to explain why they were blessed and all saved in battle, “they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness.” I love the topic of obedience as I am learning more and more about the importance of it here on my mission. He shared verses from chapter 48 about all that they did to prepare for war, how they built up and strengthened their forts and he compared it to how we prepare and protect our homes from evil influences of the world. It totally made me remember a Family Home Evening that we had years ago, I think Dad was the one who gave the lesson, and I think there was a picture drawn of all they did to prepare and protect their forts. I probably didn’t really understand before, but wow I’m recognizing more and more how blessed our home was growing up- To have parents that were careful to protect our home to “build up walls” in order to protect us kids. Oh I love this gospel. We are so blessed.
Well I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving :) my companion and I will be celebrating it too. We’ll be sure to send you some pictures. Thanks for all the love, you guys are the best. Love and miss you!
Thankful tree
-          Sister Stabenow

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Letter from President Ralhf to all the Missionaries in the Cauayan Mission

Wonderful Elders and Sisters of the Great Philippines Cauayan Mission,


As many of you have asked, I wanted to inform all of you of the circumstances surrounding the Super Typhoon affecting the Tacloban Mission.  Here are some of the facts that you should know:

- All of the Missionaries have been found and are safe and accounted for.  As far as we know, all of the families of the missionaries serving in the Cauayan Mission who are from that area are safe, although many have lost their homes and belongings.

- The Tacloban Mission has been closed.  All of the missionaries have been evacuated to Manila and treated for wounds and illnessed caused by the typhoon.

- All of the missionaries from the Tacloban Mission have been reassigned to 11 of the 21 other Missions in the Philippines.  To make room for all of the reassignments, many missionaries who were in the 11 Missions that took in Missionaries who were going home in the next two months have been asked to go home early, and are now home or on their way home.

-  The Cauayan Mission was not asked to receive any of the reassigned missionaries from the Tacloban Mission, I assume because of distance and the fact that those missionaries spoke Cebuano, not Tagalog.

-  The Tacloban Mission home was flooded and damaged during the typhoon and storm surge but will now be quickly cleaned, repaired, and used for a command center for disaster relief operations for the members and communities in the mission.

-  A total of 43 Church buildings were damaged by the storm in that area, 12 with major damage and 31 with minor damage.

-  Seven trucks with supplies for members have reached stakes and districts in the Tacloban area. Tens of Thousands of food boxes and hygiene kits have been prepared by church members and and sent to those effected. 

If you have questions or members have questions about what we can do.  We have been told that the very best thing to do is increase your Fast Offerings as much as you can to provide for the typhoon area.  If you or members have specific questions, I have asked Sister Laker to be our disaster relief coordinator.  She can provide you with information you may need.

So... Elders and Sisters, sometimes we get asked to take an assignment on a last minute notice, or be transferred because of a real emergency.  If this ever happens to you, think of the 150 Elders and Sisters who were transfered overnight by a storm, not to a different area in the mission, but some all the way home, others to an entirely different mission.  Many of those only escaped with the clothes that had on them when the storm hit.   We are so blessed, Sister Rahlf and I thank God that you are all safe and sound.  May the Lord continue to bless us.

Letter Monday November 18th

Hello Family,
Less traveling this week, which was really great for our work here in Jones.  We were able to get lots of good work in and we had several members come and work with us. I am loving this area and these people more and more. This past Sunday they held a special fast for all of those affected by the typhoon. We’ve got an awesome investigator right now named Rowena, she’s young and has a husband and two kids, but has a huge long list of health problems, and I feel like she is really searching for the truth right now. She asks the best questions while we’re teaching and is wanting to learn more and more. We invited her to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon, but when we came back just a couple days later she was already well into 1 Nephi and told us about how she gets goosebumps reading it. We’re excited to keep teaching her, especially about the plan of salvation. Yesterday at church was way happy. There were sixty people there, which was a big deal for us haha. Several less actives were back and I was SO happy to see how the members welcomed them right back. I really am impressed with how loving these members are and for their desires to help their branch. They’re excited to give us referrals and come work with us. We had another great time on splits this week in Alicia, and I went with Sister Hafen, she’s seriously so cool. She’s on her 3rd cycle right now, I was so impressed with her and honestly think I get more out of these splits than they do. I feel like I’m making so many good friends here. We had a good day of working together and had a good time just talking about life :) This next week should be a good one, we’ve got quarterly interviews with President. Hope you’re all enjoying your cold weather there, it’s getting “cold” here too. Thanks for the emails and pictures, I LOVED them! Sorry this is short, hopefully I’ll have more for you next week! Love you and miss you!
-          Sister Stabenow
Brynn and Sister Hafen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Safe from the Storm

Sister Stabenow with Elder and Sister Nielsen

Dear Family,
                Can’t believe it is P-day again! We had a busy busy and great week. We traveled every day except yesterday. So kind of exhausting, but really good at the same time.  Our splits this past week went well, I am learning so much from these newer sisters. On Friday this week we were in Cauayan for our zone conference, and it was one of my favorite days I’ve had here on my mission. In the morning a smaller group of us got to meet with the Area President, Elder Nielsen and he taught us about how we are agents to act and not to be acted upon.  He talked about how Satan tempts everyone to sit and do nothing, to let things just happen to their lives instead of actively doing something. He talked about how as leaders we must always be acting, we’re not just here to be observing. We then went into the chapel to have the main meeting with all the Elders and Sisters, but before we got started Elder Nielsen had us all kneel as he offered a prayer in behalf of all those members and missionaries down in the southern regions of the Philippines as that morning the huge typhoon was hitting the Philippines. Speaking of the storm we weren’t too affected by it, just a lot of rain here. I thought a lot about how safe I felt from the storm, there we were gathered together as missionaries being taught and spiritually fed, and not only was there a literal storm outside, but also what I feel a spiritual storm raging. I’m feeling quite out of the world as now I’m hitting the halfway mark of my mission. I love this feeling. 
                Sister Nielsen gave an awesome talk about loving our companions, couple good notes from her talk:
-          There is a big difference between tolerating and totally embracing the person next to you.
-          My companion and I are on the same side, so why criticize?
-          Q: how would it feel to be with somebody who you knew would not criticize?
-          She taught about her family growing and getting bigger and different likes and personalities coming into the family and one phrase she mentioned over and over: Not everybody has to be a Nielsen to be loved by the Nielsens.
Elder Nielsen taught us from 1st Nephi 11-14 and we learned all about the Revelatory Process and how we need to be connecting these people to heaven. I really could go on and on and on about how awesome the meetings were and all that I learned, but time is short, so I’ll keep this short. Overall I feel Heavenly Father’s love for me so much, he answered so many of my questions this week and I just want to do so much more. One thing I have to include though was what Sister Nielsen said, she said she felt like she was looking at us all and seeing us in our truest identity, stripped of all the worldy things that we thought defined us, and all the junk taken away. I think she’s right, and maybe that’s why I often say that I don’t recognize myself here. SO thankful for missions and what they do.
                Work has been exceptionally good since that meeting, and I’m feeling more motivated than ever before. Heavenly Father is blessing us here! I can’t wait to see what things are up ahead. I love you all and miss you!
Brynn with the President and Sister Rahlf
     Sister Stabenow

Yesterday celebrating her 9 month mark!
On splits this last week
Reunited!  Just missing Sister Miller:(
The beautiful night sky on the way to Cauayan City.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another week in Jones

Hello my family!
Another week in Jones, and things are good. We went on our first splits this week and went with a threesome of sisters. In their companionship they have a sister from Tonga, from the Philippines, and one from Utah. Talk about a mix of cultures haha. The Filipino sister is the trainer, and I’m way impressed by her that she can handle training two foreigners at once. I went with the Filipino and American, and she went with the Sister from Tonga. We had a really great time on splits with them, and I feel like I’m going to be learning so much from these sisters that I will go on splits with. The longer time I spend here the more I love and appreciate you guys (my family). I just know of so many family problems here in my area, for families of missionaries back home, and I’m realizing more and more how blessed and lucky we really are. Mom and Dad, thank you thank you thank you. I want a life as happy as yours and thank you for showing us the right way to have it some day. I love the gospel, we teach about it all the time and I realize so much how it completely is meant to bless and strengthen families. Yes it is a gospel that requires work, it requires effort and that is why it is so hard for people to accept it some times, but really it is all for us. We are so blessed when we live the gospel, and when we take the time to put the Savior first in our lives so that we can actually know him. He gave us a perfect example, I love studying his life, and I am understanding more and more why we can and should have more perfect faith in him.
            This area is going to teach me a lot about attitude, haha. It is a struggling area, but I know my companion and I are here for a reason. The biggest thing I’m realizing is that I HAVE to love these people, and to be able to do that my companion and I are going to find more ways to serve them. Sundays are hard here, but all I hope is that I can leave this area better than we found it. Some fun things from this week, I realized that there are a lot of fireflies (alitaptap) in my new area, so I’ll add that to my list of positive things about this area :) it really is so beautiful here. We went on the prettiest run of my life the other morning. Up and over some hills, looking out over fields and fields of corn, and ended down by a river where there were a few families out doing laundry. I wish you all could see what I see here! I can’t believe it is November already! I hope you all have a great time this week, be sure to congratulate Ty and Jaymee for me! Love and miss you!
Sister Stabenow

Monday, October 28, 2013

There's no place like Jones!

Sister Stabenow and Sister Daelo
There’s no place like Jones :) I am so pumped about this cycle! I know that this area and the companion I’ve been given are such an answer to prayers. I really feel like I am right where I need to be. So the question… where am I? Well my area is out in the middle of nowhere and it is a city called Jones. We are a part of the Alicia zone. My companion is Sister Daelo, and she’s so awesome! She is 23 years old, from Quezon province, is maybe 4’11” and tiny tiny, and we are siblings in the mission since we both had the same trainer (Nanay) , Sister Manguil. She is SO cool, and we get along really well. It is just us two in our cute little apartment that is right next to the chapel. In this area our schedule is a little bit different. We go out and work at 9 in the morning just after our personal study time, then we come home at 6 at night and finish up our studies. So things are very different here, it’s hotter here in Jones, the branch is smaller, there are only two of us now in the apartment, and we only speak Tagalog.  And I’m just loving it all.  So about the branch, there were about 35 people there on Sunday. I was a speaker in sacrament (at least prepared for it), then Sister Daelo (on the spot) had to teach the gospel principles class that two girls attended, and then we get into the relief society and the RS president asks me to teach the lesson. she hands me a Tagalog Liahona and says I can teach whatever out of it. So we ran home to our apartment, (I didn’t grab no shoes or nuthin!) I ran, and grabbed an english copy of the Liahona. So I taught my first lesson ever in relief society.. in tagalog hahaha :) and that was my first Sunday here in the branch :) It’s definitely a struggling branch, but I know that things will improve here :) There are some really great members. Yesterday we had a sister from the Relief Society come and work with us, she is way cool and I feel like she is my aunt or something. We had an adventure trying to find some of the houses of members yesterday and it ended up being so much fun. We finished the day having a really intense lesson with this less active woman who was the relief society president years ago. It was really clear that she didn’t want us there at first, but…. prayers work. She opened up to us, and we could really feel the spirit working through us to touch her heart. I thought of how our Savior feels about her and how he understands her and the pain she’s kept inside. I felt so much love for her and just a lot of empathy. I know that our Savior understands us all so well, so individually. I was able to share my testimony and hopefully she felt my love and the love our Savior has for her. I love being a missionary. I love the gospel and what it has done for me and for all of us, my family and those I love :) we are so blessed, and we have lives full of so many blessings and opportunities. I never want to let the gospel slip out of my life. It is true. And it is the greatest blessing, when understood and lived. I am thankful that we have opportunities to serve in the church, I know that as we serve we are blessed, so blessed. I hope you all have an awesome week. You’re all still in my prayers :) Love and miss you all!
-          Sister Stabenow
Our cute little apartment

Climbing a tree~

Monday, October 21, 2013

Snow White is Transfered

Well I guess I’ll just start with the news…. I’m being transferred! But we were all expecting it right? We got the call this past Wednesday that Sister Grande will be training next cycle, haha she was not happy about it, but she is warming up to the idea now. So both Sister Miller and I are being transferred out of the house. We all thought she’d be staying, ha and her companion was already completely packed. Things are actually getting really unpredictable with transfers in our mission. I’m way excited though for the upcoming changes. We’ll go to Cauayan on Wednesday where I’ll get my new companion and then head to wherever my next area will be :)
                So this week we had two CSP projects. One here in our area working in a less active member’s rice field and the other one up in Lamut working on cleaning up a garden. Both turned out really good, but I will say I was ready to get back to normal work. I love missionary work. We also had a Branch Home Evening this past Friday since we wanted to get everyone together before any of us transfer. It turned out well and we were happy to see less active members and investigators there too. We also used it as a farewell party for two boys from the branch that are heading out this week on their missions.
                During one of our lessons this week we were teaching two seventeen year old girls about the Book of Mormon and we also testified that we know we have a living prophet. At the end of the lesson one of the sisters had a question about living prophets, so we pulled out pictures of President Monson, his counselors and apostles. The girl looked at the picture of President Monson and then looked at me and said, kind of surprised, “It’s true!” Ha and yep she’s right. We love teaching these girls.
                It is so weird to know that I’m leaving here. This really is all I know of the Philippines, so this next week will be very different for me. The goodbyes here are even harder than I expected. I don’t know for sure if I’ll get to see these people ever again. We went and visited little recent convert, Jerwin and his family the other day and I was having such a hard time. I gave the opening prayer and I ended up in tears. Then yesterday we visited the Taeza family and ouch that one hurt too. I didn’t cry too much in front of them at least haha. So yeah this is hard, yet at the same time, it’s a bit of a pay day as I hear them thank us so much. Brother Taeza just kept promising me that my efforts have not been wasted for their family. Oh I love these people. I’m saving probably the hardest goodbye though for Tuesday night when we’ll visit the Guiner family with all the little kids that I just love and I’ll say goodbye to Erica who’s like my little sister here. Ha I had a good talk with her on Sunday, I asked her what she’s going to do once I’m gone and she told me that she’ll never leave the church, and she said she’ll keep working with the missionaries too. What a cool kid. I hope so badly to be able to see all these people again!
 I hope you all have a great week! I’m excited for my upcoming changes this week and I know that the Lord is leading this work and he will lead and direct each of our lives as we allow him to. Mahal na mahal ko kayo!
-          Sister Stabenow

She is totally bringing a Hammock home:)

Taeza family

FHE with the whole Branch

Monday, October 14, 2013

Conference weekend!

We are bringing Scrunchies back!!
Root Beer Floats! A great family tradition

Hello!  Yet another great week here in Bayombong. By far this is the best cycle I’ve had here on my mission. We had several family home evenings again this week. We are seeing how much even the members in the branch need to be strengthened, so we’ve been spending time with them and it has been great. On Wednesday this past week all the foreigners within the mission had to get fingerprinted, so Sister Miller and I spent that day together getting all of that taken care of in Solano. It was such a fun day, and all of us were super excited when we found out we’d be on splits that day. We all love each other in the apartment, and the Filipinos click really well together and of course Sister Miller (my clone) and I have a ton of fun together. So here’s kind of how our apartment works, sometimes we hang out with all of us, and other times we’ve got sister miller and I downstairs having like deep gospel or life related discussions, and then you’ve got my companion and hers upstairs screaming and laughing. Haha and we all just love it so much. This week I realized how pretty much every aspect of our work is better when we’ve got a solid and happy companionship. Even just building relationships with those we visit has gotten way better. Also, I have been laughing for real at the jokes here now, which I am a little surprised at, it’s great! I’ve also realized how weird some of my English sentences are sounding, especially when I’m writing in my journal.
                So there was supposed to be a typhoon again this weekend, but nothing too bad happened, just some rain. I was worried that it would get in the way of watching conference, but luckily it didn’t end up being much. Conference was AWESOME. It was so weird sitting in there watching conference at the same building I watched it at 6 months ago. Conference was comforting, uplifting, and with just the right amount of chastising. Ha I always come away from conference knowing what I need to work on. Saturday night we kept up the family tradition and had root beer floats and then also had some popcorn and M&M’s to make it even better. Sunday of Conference was equally as good, it was good to see some of our investigators attend as well. I came away from conference with so much and loved the overall themes of repentance, being humble, and having a constant goal to be improving. I loved the talks about women and motherhood and about the blessings of having the priesthood in a home. “Mine is a home, where every hour, is blessed by the strength of priesthood power.” I thought so much about how blessed I am to have grown up in a home like this where both my parents have always worked hard together to build a happy family, and I can see so much the blessings of it all as I look at my life and the lives of each of the kids in our family.  So Mom and Dad, thank you, a huge thank you! I want my life to turn out just like both of yours has :) and you’ve taught me how I can have that. Living the gospel consistently :)
Last night we had an FHE with the Gacad family again and I love seeing a true gospel living family here. The spirit is so present in their home and I just love each of them. After planning last night all four of us sisters went out and did some star gazing on our roof. It was great, I have had such a good cycle here! This should be a fun week again here, we have a CSP (service project) on Wednesday morning working in a less active brother’s rice field, I’m pumped! I’ll let you know next week what will be happening with the upcoming transfer day! I hope you all loved conference and are praying for missionary opportunities. Love and miss you all!
-          Sister Stabenow

Playing games

FHE with the Gacad Family

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Hiking in  Batad

Awesome awesome week. This past week has been so great. Literally every night this past week we had FHE with members here, less actives and active members. Ha, and this upcoming week looks like it will be just the same. Work was interesting, we were punted like crazy, which was disappointing because we had some really good lessons prepared. But still, some good things happened… we have a new family of investigators that we are teaching now, we have a ton of fun out working as a companionship, and we had a ton of people, less actives and investigators, come to church on Sunday. We were so excited as we saw each of them walk in and just couldn’t believe it :) We’ve been applying the things we’ve been talking about in our district meetings, and we are just doing so much better. Our lessons seem to mean so much more as we focus on those we teach and also focus on the spirit. I feel like my companion and I are doing a good job at getting spiritually prepared for the day, I love our companionship study time. I really hope this isn’t the end here in Bayombong, I’d be totally fine with it if there aren’t any changes in our apartment this upcoming transfer day. I love these sisters. We celebrated Sister Fugaban’s half way mark the other day, ha we were teasing her and then she just looks at me and says “you’re next.” Weird stuff, getting older here. Also, one morning Sister Miller and I were outside doing our laundry and of course having a ton of fun just talking, and we both mentioned how we didn’t expect to come on a mission and find new people that would become our good friends for life. I have made some really great friends here and it’s been such a blessing! Since our apartment is so awesome, haha, we had an apartment t-shirt made this week and we wore it to our activity yesterday in Batad. It looked sweet! Also, these sisters are wondering where I got my accent for some of the English words I say, haha they laugh so much at the way I say the word Satan, but they like it and its hilarious listening to the Filipino sisters try out a country accent.
Oh I don’t want to transfer haha. In some of our lessons this week I seriously got teary eyed just thinking that I will be leaving these people most likely pretty soon. I love it so much here, every time we pull into Bayombong coming from any of our trips it feels like home to me now. It’s nice to be getting really comfortable here, but also just for that reason, I’m guessing I’ll transfer since I know there is more for me to learn and you don’t learn in your comfort zone. I finished reading the book “Believing Christ” this week, and absolutely loved it. I loved the analogy at the end where the gospel and keeping the commandments is like bench pressing weights, it’s where we’re required to just give a little more than we think we’re even capable of where the actual growth happens.
So I’ll tell you a bit about our fun trip to Batad. Plans kept changing with what time we were gonna leave for Batad, but at 4am we get a call from our zone leader telling us to be in Solano in 30 minutes, so we rush and get ready, find a tricey and head over. We find the jeepney driver and his friend who’d been waiting there since 3am, but we couldn’t leave yet, cause the six sisters from Solano weren’t there yet. So we tried to go back to sleep in the jeepney for a while, it was funny and we asked the friend of the jeepney driver to take a picture for us. Ha so he takes the picture and he says “ai, sisters, ulit, burrl siya”. Which basically is let’s take it again, and then he tried to say it was “blurry” but instead said “burrl” haha we lost it and joked about it the whole day. Not sure if that’s funny to anyone but us, but oh my lots of things from the trip were hilarious, maybe cause we were all crazy tired. This was definitely my favorite zone activity I’ve had here. The hike was beautiful and challenging. The beginning is easy since it’s down hill, but the way back is a bit tougher, and it finishes with some nice straight up stairs haha. Everyone is walking funny today and has some good sunburns. There’s a sign right before the final 412 stairs and that’s when my pep-talking brain kicked in. So I’m climbing these stairs while at the same time laughing at my funny pep-talk in my head. So that was my week :) Glad to hear from all of you about how great conference was, I can’t wait to watch it this weekend! I am so thankful to know that we having a living prophet today. I am looking forward to the spiritual boost that conference always brings. Hope you all have a great next week! Love and miss you all!
Sister Stabenow

Monday, September 30, 2013


Chicken Head?  Really!!

Kumusta po kayo?
Thank you Mom and Dad for the package! Loved it, and the kids here loved the candy! It’s been another happy week here in Bayombong. It was a weird week for work since my companion was sick a couple of days, we had a family day celebration, and one of the days we were in Santiago for a meeting. So we weren’t out working as much as I would’ve liked, and sitting at home reading just isn’t the same as being out working. I’m excited for this week to just have things normal! Random things from this week: we’ve been exercising as an apartment in the mornings, and it is funny to see these Sisters limping around from being sore haha. We have been doing a lot as an apartment this cycle, and it has been such a blessing. We started having prayers with all 4 of us morning and night and I’ve never been living with such a happy group of girls. I really love the set up right now and will just enjoy these last few weeks before the next transfer day. Also, this week my companion was buying some BBQ here and told me I should try the helmet/ulo ng manok/chicken head, I didn’t want to at first, but she told me I’d be considered a Filipino if I’d eat it. So I gave in, haha and ate the chicken head. It wasn’t horrible, but I don’t think I’ll eat it again. I’m friends with our little next door neighbor Trian. When I’m out doing my laundry she comes and hangs out with me and she helps me with Tagalog. She’s this little adorable girl. I don’t want to think about leaving my friends here, but in some ways I think it is time to get a new area. We’ll just see what happens on Transfer day. I hope you all enjoy conference this week! We won’t watch it until October 12 and 13 in Solano. It will be my second conference on my mission and I’ll be in my same area watching it.
We’ve been teaching a somewhat new investigator and it has been great, I can just picture him being a great priesthood leader here. He’s come to church twice now and even came to the Family Day activity on Saturday. I also am happy seeing less actives becoming returning members here! I love this work, I love these people, and I hope this branch will just continue to get stronger.
We had an awesome zone conference on Thursday. President and Sister Rahlf are spiritual giants and I loved hearing from each of them. It was just a very powerful meeting and I was able to learn things that I’ve specifically been needing. One of the Sisters gave a musical number and played “Be Still My Soul” on the Violin. That’s such a special song to me, and it was just so powerful and beautiful. One missionary bore his testimony at the end and mentioned the song “I Stand All Amazed” so I thought of the words “to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.” I truly do stand all amazed at His love for me, I in no way am deserving, yet I know He loves me so much. My time here on a mission is teaching me so much about faith and the atonement. Two things I thought I understood before, but wow I had no idea how important those things really are. I’m learning just how important it is that we really believe in Christ and believe Him and what he says. I pictured him asking me the questions, do you believe in me? In my timing? In my plan for you? And in my ability to help you? I know I can improve on these things and face my challenges with more faith and less fear.
                Grammy I wanted to thank you for emailing me your conversion story last week. We were having our companionship study the other day and I decided to read to my companion your email, and I was surprised that I got really choked up reading it to her. Thank you for joining the church even though it wasn’t convenient or easy. I love seeing what a huge blessing that choice of yours has been to me and many many others.
FHE this last week!
                At the zone conference this week I said goodbye to a good friend here in the mission. She will be heading home to Utah in December, and I probably won’t see her again before then. I can’t believe that she only has a cycle and a half left to go. She was a sisters trainer over this area, and we became close on the few times that we got to go on splits. I’m also surprised at how quickly I become friends with so many of these sisters, these friendships have been such blessings to me. Sister Miller (from our apartment) and I have become such good friends and this past week discovered our mutual obsession with Peter Pan, Becoming Jane, and a crazy long list of many many other things. She’s from Alpine Utah and most people in this Branch ask us if we’re siblings. It’s been such a blessing having her in our apartment too. Well hopefully I’ll have more to tell you next week about work! I love you all and am so thankful for each of you and your testimonies and encouragement. Enjoy conference!!! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Good Week!

Dear Family,
Sister Trainers
It’s been a really good week :) I LOVE seeing progress, with the area, and with myself. From the words of my mission president, this is how missions work: the Lord changes you before you can help others change. I’m being changed so much, and I love it. Heavenly Father is giving me the people and experiences I need right now to learn what I need to. We have a VERY happy house, and oh my we’re such missionaries.
 We come home at night and share experiences from the day and share scriptures that get us PUMPED about missionary work. D&C 35:13 

 “Wherefore, I call upon the aweak things of the world, those who are bunlearned and despised, to thrashthe cnations by the power of my dSpirit
 Haha we love the wording of this scripture, and we’re determined to “thrash the nations” (in a good way). Also, our district meeting this last week was super good, as we talked about finding. This past week I have pin-pointed some things about me that I want to and need to change, and wow the Lord will help you change when you’re willing and really want to. So just in life in general I’m content with being quiet, but that’s definitely changing. I want to talk to everyone, I want them to know what I know. I read a good quote this week:
Why should I speak to anyone about the gospel who seems content? What danger is there to them or to me if I do or say nothing?..... Well, the danger may be hard to see, but it is real, both for them and for us. For instance, at some moment in the world to come, everyone you will ever meet will know what you know now. They will know that the only way to live forever in association with our families and in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, was to choose to enter into the gate by baptism at the hands of those with authority from God. They will know that the only way families can be together forever is to accept and keep sacred covenants offered in the temples of God on this earth. And they will know that you knew. And they will remember whether you offered them what someone had offered you.”
I love this, so to do my part, I’m opening my mouth and telling people what I know. We talked in district meeting about how no effort is wasted here, and how OYM-ing people might not be the most effective way to find, but how it is the most effective way to show our faith. We want miracles here, and we know that our faith has to come first. So we’ve got the motivation, and enthusiasm we need, and I’m very excited to see what will happen. I’ve got one more month til transfer day, (and yes I’m assuming I’ll be transferred) and I want to leave here on such a high note, I want to leave this area better than I found it. I’ll be leaving here so changed, and hopefully I’ll have helped this branch in some way. We had splits with the sister’s trainers this week and had a good time, it is really nice just to see how other people do things and to learn from them. We went and visited a man this week that we hadn’t seen in a couple weeks, and we gave him a Book of Mormon last time, so we talked with him for a bit and he told me he’d been reading the Book of Mormon every night since we gave it to him. Yeah I was surprised. It was awesome, and then he’s like what time is your church/where is it. Ha it was awesome! And… he came to church yesterday! Also, this week we went and visited a boy from the branch who used to always come and work with us when I first got here. But anyway he’s been inactive for the past few months, but he told us he’d try and come on Sunday… and he came too! And even cooler, so he was sitting all alone during sacrament meeting, but once all the boys got done passing the sacrament they all just swarmed him and welcomed him back and sat with him. I got such a huge smile on my face, it was so sweet to see what great youth there are in the branch. Oh it was just such a happy week. So we have zone conference on Thursday this week in Santiago. It will be a busy week, I think we have FHE’s scheduled almost every night this week haha. Oh and Friday marks 6 months for me in the Philippines, kinda crazy! Well, I know there was a lot of random in this email, hopefully it made some sense haha. I’m just very happy and loving this work and the things that are happening here! I want the gospel for life, I see too many people and hear too many excuses of why people don’t come to church anymore and I’m determined to never get to that point. I’m convinced that if we read the scriptures and pray every day we will never fall away and won’t have to experience that in our life. That is the power of reading and praying. The church is true, the Book of Mormon is true and we’re so blessed to have the gospel in our lives. Hope you all have a great week! Thanks for the emails and pictures :) Mahal ko kayo!

-          Sister Stabenow

Rice Field