Sunday, May 26, 2013

2 Months in the Philippines

The weeks are flying by! Today marks my 2 months in the Philippines, and I'm loving life here. I'm dreading the day when this cycle will end, cause I really love having Sister Manguil as my companion. Who knew I would have so much in common with a girl in the Philippines. When one of us tells each other a story about our lives we end up realizing even more how similar we are. They use a phrase here that just means mother and daughter haha, so a few people have said that about us. Even though it isn't rainy season yet we've had rain almost every day lately. Loudest thunder ever yesterday, so cool! My companion gets scared and I just have a huge smile on my face. I love the storms! We also have random brown outs (no electricity) which always makes things interesting. Sometimes we are in the middle of teaching and the power goes out, so they break out the candles and we continue. I got a haircut this morning (38 pesos- sobrang mura), and several workers at the salon were just watching the whole process and talking about my hair color. 

This past week was really good. Sunday was a good day to be a missionary in the Bayombong branch. So many investigators and less actives were there. I was SO happy. Also this last week I feel like I got a tiny taste of how it will feel when I have to say goodbye. One of the Nanay's here that we are teaching is starting to come back to church and she is now working toward going to the temple for her first time. We are really close with her and she and my companion talked about maybe meeting up at the Manila temple after she is done with her mission. I was kinda jealous ha. Nanay promised me we can at least be facebook  friends when I get back if I remember her haha. Oh man I love the people we teach here, they are so great. I love what I get to go and do every day. Well I love and miss you! Have a great week :)

- Sister Stabenow
Outside my apartment

My favorite place to walk in our area Bonfall-east
14 Again Haha!

Before Haircut!

Monday, May 20, 2013

So so good :)

Hey Family
It was SO great to talk to you guys last week. Dad, you said you hoped that it wouldn’t throw me off, and if anything it gave me such a boost. My Tagalog seemed to boost so much last week, and my companion and I had a lot of fun with it. A couple times people asked my companion if I knew how to speak Ilocano too, haha as if I know Tagalog. Fooled them ;) So like I told you over skype, my birthday was great, my companion is SO awesome and woke me up a little after midnight and I looked over and saw a cake with candles on top, and then on our little dvd player she showed me a little video her and some other missionaries put together of pictures from my mission so far and with little messages from other missionaries wishing me a happy birthday. On top of that my “little brothers” from my MTC district, all wrote in a card for me and gave it to me at one of our meetings. So nice, they even got the others from our MTC district in Olongapo to email messages as well. This last week has been really really good. So much rain and thunder, and the coolest lightning I’ve ever seen. I also got to see some cool Filipino things, like when someone dies, everyone gets together for about 5 nights and gambles. Not sure why ha. Then for a birthday party they always serve long noodles to symbolize a long life. They had hot dogs with marshmallows ha, hopefully you can see it all in the pictures. People like to feed us here. After another visit of ours this week, they brought out some pansit, and coconut water, and halo halo. As I was eating the pansit, I had a flashback of my anatomy class at BYU as I was able to clearly identify the parts of the heart that was sitting there on my plate. Haha, it was pretty small, and just to say I tried it, I took a tiny bite. It was like eating rubber, so I gave the rest to my companion. We had branch conference on Sunday and it was great, I was especially happy to see some of the less active Nanay’s we focused on visiting this last week. I am loving the people here. Also my companion and I are trying to be more obedient, and I can feel a difference in the way we study and teach. So awesome.
                I had probably my favorite personal study time one day this last week. I understand completely why we read the scriptures over and over- there is something new to learn every time.  Stories I’ve heard hundreds of times, are meaning much more to me now. This last week I spent time reading 1 Nephi 17 and 18, where the Lord commands Nephi to build a ship so that they can travel to the promised land. I compared this to what I’ve been asked to do right now- to preach the gospel in another language. Ch. 17, verse 51 shows Nehi’s faith- “And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship.” So even though it may seem like an impossible thing at times for me to learn Tagalog, and learn how to be a good missionary, I just have to remember that if I involve the Lord in this process He can help me to know how to do all of this. So my prayers have become way more specific and meaningful, and even more full of faith. To quote from one of my favorite primary songs : “Yes I know Heavenly Father loves me” :) I’m just so full of gratitude. I know this is the Lord’s work. I am SO happy to be here doing what I’m doing. I know the church is true, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that our Heavenly Father loves us so much and has a perfect plan for us. Life is good, so so good. I love you all, and hope you have a great week.

10 year old investigator Jerwin

these cute kids were selling these flower necklaces (sampaguita- national flower of the Philippines). 

We went to visit a less active, and her great grandaughter was having her barbie themed birthday party. ha they all joked that I was the barbie that came for the party. ha, so we were invited to join them, one of the ladies there (maybe 30yrs old) asked if she could take a picture of me, not me and her, just me haha, so she pulls out her cell phone and takes a picture of me, and says she wants to use it as her background. haha, oh my life. 

Sister Stabenow and the Birthday Girl!

In a Tricie!

Sister Stabenows apartment and the fruit they bought at the market .

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mothers Day!

No E-mail from Sister Stabenow this week. Instead, we were able to Skype with her because it was Mother's Day. So needless to say we had a great Mother's Day here.  She is doing wonderfully!  We all enjoyed talking with  her and hearing about how things are in the Philippines.  She said that she is adjusting well, she is used to the heat and even will run in the mornings there.  She said she is not too worried about the language because she can feel it coming.  She is striving to be a good obedient missionary and we are so incredibly proud of her. 
Here is a video of her speaking Tagalog:)

Sisters at the farewell for the missionaries leaving.  

A beautiful sunset in Bayombong

Monday, May 6, 2013

Good week here in Bayombong:)

While escaping a downpour we got to hang out with these kids!

Good week here in Bayombong :) It's transfer week, and of course my trainer and I are staying here luckily! It is so crazy to think that this is the week I would have been getting to the mission if my date didn't change. Also that's cool that Jaden in in New Mexico now! 
      So We're finding more people to teach here and hopefully we'll see some progress. We've been thinking a lot just trying to figure out how to best use our time. We want to know where our focus should be- the branch, the less actives, the investigators? My trainer has been saying, "what's the point" sometimes because we need members in the branch to welcome less actives coming back and to welcome the investigators. If the missionaries are the only ones who care there won't really be a point. We'll only be in the area for so long. So since we can't neglect any of those areas there is a lot to do. It can be frustrating, because as missionaries it isn't our job to tell leaders how to do their job of course, so we just sit there and can't say a word as they tell us all the things we're doing wrong... oh boy haha. I just have to remember that the church is young here still, and that the gospel is perfect, and people are not. haha

I've had some good experiences this past week, just little things :) Yesterday I saw one of the  young men from the branch walking to church as we passed by in a tricie, he lives pretty far, and I was really touched by his determination to make it to church even if it meant walking a long way alone. The testimonies of members here inspire me. We met a 21 year old girl this past week from Solano. She is friends with a family that we were having FHE with, and she is really good in English, so she and I talked for a while. She is the only member in her family and in fact her dad is the pastor for a different church here. They are not happy that she is a member, they told her to pack her bags if she was going to continue to go to church or to any activities. So she did pack her bags, she left and went to her grandma's house. Her parents ended up going and picking her up and she lives with them now stilll, but they don't like it at all. I'm amazed at what she is willing to do for the gospel. She truly has to stand alone, but I could just tell how much she loves the gospel. There are some really cool youth here- on Saturday they asked us to help with their mini MTC in Solano for youth and single adults to get them excited about missions, it was cool seeing so many youth there. 

Also I think it is a blessing that I can't understand everything here haha, my companion gets stressed if people bad mouth us, sometimes it's in Ilocano since most people speak that here, but they don't know that my companion can understand it too. We've been going running here this past week a bit, and I love it, but we're trying to find good places to go without so many people staring, my vote is for by the rice fields :) hopefully tomorrow! This should be a fun week, we're going to the farewell fireside tomorrow in cauayan, and then Wednesday we'll get a new sister in our apartment, and on Thursday I'll think I'll celebrate a birthday or something... :) Thank you for all the emails this week! I LOVE hearing about everything going on, I am so so so blessed. I love you all so much and cannot wait to skype next week!! :) :)

The family we had FHE with this last week!