Monday, June 24, 2013

I can't get over how fast time goes here! The months fly by, and it's crazy that this time of my life only will last for 18 months. I'll just have to enjoy every day of it :) I hope you all had a good week. Our week sounds somewhat similar, lots of traveling, and even a funeral to go to. We traveled to Cauayan on Tuesday and Wednesday this past week. Made the round trip two times, and just the trip one way is three hours in a jeepney. ha even though we were packed in there it was fun with our zone all together. The departure fireside as well as the transfer meeting were great. Always weird to see missionaries leaving, but good to hear their testimonies. And transfer meeting was so crazy to see the new missionaries coming in. I went right to the new american sisters and talked with each of them to see how they were doing. I can't believe that was me just a few months ago. This week I'll hit 3 months in the field.. that went really fast. Like I said there was a funeral, well.. chronological service is what they called it here from a member that died this past week. It is interesting to see differences even with a funeral. Normally for like 5 or so days after a death, all the neighbors come, they set up a tarp, and everyone just gambles each night. I think it helps the family get money for the funeral. Not really sure. Well since it was a member's death I don't know if there was gambling or not, but the tarp was all set up and most of the active members from the branch were all there yesterday. We sang, and then a couple people talked about the plan of salvation. In the background you could hear the neighbors singing karaoke (popular past time here) and it was really loud haha. Then the family of the member that died gave everyone a merienda at the end. It's the culture here to feed others for events like that, oh and also when it is your birthday you feed everyone else. Ha I'm getting used to the differences here, but I will say I miss American humor haha. That's why zone activities and meetings with all the missionaries are so fun. The attention I get here continues to crack me up. I’ll keep it short and just say that sometimes they legitimately treat me like a celebrity. Oh my life.
This week was good, but with our busy days in Cauayan this week it was so nice to just get back to the normal studies and schedule. I have really liked study time this week, and I’ve been praying that the things I study will help me when we are teaching our investigators. It is awesome to see how my prayers are being answered. One of our investigators is very very smart, very educated and is a thinker. They’ve been coming to church and in our gospel principles class he always asks lots of questions. The teacher and I were both pulling out scriptures left and right to answer him. It was awesome seeing how the things I’ve studied in the scriptures this past week, even that very morning, were things that I was able to share with him to answer questions. I’m starting to see that I’m capable of becoming a good missionary, and I’m especially seeing how willing Heavenly Father is to bless us with our righteous desires. I love being a missionary. And I’m seeing the power within a simple testimony- whenever we meet with this Brother I think of the scripture in D&C1:23 “ That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.

After a lesson this week with Jerwin who was preparing for his baptism. His uncle that lives with them and that we’ve taught a couple times just kind of surprisingly said that maybe he’ll get baptized too before he goes back to another part of the Philippines. We weren’t really sure at first if he was actually interested in the gospel or just wanted to gain some knowledge about what we believe. Ha I wish I could’ve seen what my face looked like when he said that. We’ll visit him this week. Hopefully he really meant it! So like I said Jerwin’s baptism was on Saturday, it was a little less stressful than the last baptism we had, but still it’s crazy to see what kind of problems pop up and try and stop such a good thing from happening. Once the font was fixed and the water was clean and ready to go we had a baptism! Don’t let the picture deceive you, he was excited and happy about his baptism haha. The branch mission leader was in charge of getting a program together and he had a special request for me to do a musical number. Ha I’m no performer, but I agreed and I ended up singing Follow the Son :) It reminded me of my baptism and of singing that song with siblings and cousins. Jerwin is only 10 years old, but I know that he will continue to be a good example for his family who has been less active.
Well I’m not sure how this turned into a really long letter, but here you go! Ha. I just have a feeling this is going to be a really good cycle here as I push myself and work harder. I’m excited to see what will happen in these next six weeks! I love you all and hope you have a great week! And since one of our goals here is to get more members involved in missionary work I’ll extend that to each of you! Be a missionary! There are people all around you who might not know it yet, but they want what we have, they want the gospel too! Love you!

-       Sister Stabenow

Jerwins Baptism on Saturday

Members of the branch

The Branch President and Lemon

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sobrang suerte kami, dahil walang transfer sa amin!!!

Very very happy :) we got the news about transfers this morning, and we get to stay together for another cycle! :) Literally every companionship in our zone is changing except for ours. I guess it doesn't happen very often here that a trainer and trainee get to stay together for more than two cycles. It has been a very good week. We had a fun FHE with the branch president, some older members, and tons of youth and single adults. Filipinos like to party. I'll send a couple pictures from that. We went to Cauayan for our Zone Conference, I loved the messages from President and Sister Carlos, and am excited to do some things in this area to get the members more involved in missionary work. I was also super happy to get mail and a copy of the conference ensign when we went to Cauayan. So thank you all who have sent me letters or dear elders, it's so fun to hear from friends :) I've been loving reading over the conference talks too. I finally got to read the talk "your wonderful journey home" by President Uchtdorf. I know it is overall talking about our journey through life, but I couldn't help but compare it to my time here on my mission too. Especially where it talks about all of the feelings of leaving home, the uncertainty of what would happen, but also the feelings of faith that in the end I would rejoice because of this time. I love where he says "and so, you took a deep breath... and a great step forward... and here you are!" ha so many times I just say wow I'm in the Philippines. I wonder when that will seem normal to me. In his talk he we need to ask ourselves if we're on the right track in our journey. So for me, am I on the right course? Am I becoming the missionary that I want to become, and am I making the choices that will help me to do that? I am learning a lot about the importance of taking a step back and evaluating and then working on areas that I can tell need work. I know I've been given the map that will help me to accomplish what I want to do here. Of course the scriptures and prayer, but also the leaders, the mission president as well as the white handbook of mission rules. Favorite part "There will always be things to complain about-things that don't seem to go quite right. You can spend your days feeling sad, alone, misunderstood, or unwanted. But that isn't the journey you had hoped for, and it's not the journey Heavenly Father sent you to take. Remember, you are truly a daughter of God!" I love his optimism, and can't help but feel uplifted as I hear his words. I feel confident that this journey I am on can do amazing things for my life and hopefully for the lives of others as well, and I know that every trial and challenge will be worth it in the end. I could go on and on about all the great things about this talk, but I'll let you just read it for yourselves if you haven't yet. Cause I'm sure it will mean more to you if you just read it for yourself. I just love the words of our apostles and prophets and can't wait to read the rest of the talks again from conference.

On Saturday President and Sister Carlos were down here in our area, so while president had some meetings, Sister Carlos came and had companionship study with Sister Manguil and I. It was great. She is a spiritual giants, and I could just feel how much she loves missionary work. She knows how sacred and important it is, and her enthusiasm about it is contagious. After our studies, we got to go to lunch with them at a restaurant (Mrs. Bakers) that they had heard about that is right in our area. It was probably the best food I've had my whole mission. The pizza was real pizza, and we had lots of other yummy food... pasta, salad, chicken. President and Sister Carlos were sad that they just now found this restaurant with only two weeks left here serving as mission president. It was great spending some time with them. They found out that that was the same day as Alyssa's wedding, so they joked that that was the reason why we went out to lunch, haha to celebrate. So glad to hear how well the wedding went :) the pictures look great, and you all look so good! Thank you Kelsey for sending them to me! :) This is off topic, but I saw my very first firefly this week, and was so excited. ha Karina it made me think of you. 

And I know it's a little late, but Happy Father's day Dad. Hope you enjoyed it and if you didn't get a bag of Reasens (candy) go buy some and I'll pay you back haha :) This week has kind of been all about family. The father of one of the families we are teaching requested that we have a lesson all about families and the roles within a family. So lot's of studying about family. I won't lie, it made me a little emotional, ha sometimes I'm a wimp and the song Families Can Be Together Forever gets to me, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so lucky that I have such an amazing family, how sad it would be if I didn't love and miss the family that I have. I probably didn't show it enough or say it enough before, but I love you all so much and am so lucky for the relationships that I have with each of you :) And I'm so happy thinking that more people can have the kind of family life that I have because of them receiving the gospel here. So that's what I'm working for and all of the love and support from each of you reminds me of this. So thank you again. We'll time is short, so I need to go. I hope you all have a great week and are safe in your travels. Someone give Tyler a big hug for me as he'll be home soon from his mission. Love you all so much! Ingat!

- Sister Stabenow

FHE with the Branch President and Youth and Young Adults
Part of the punishment after the game

Monday, June 10, 2013


Kumusta!?Sorry I didn’t give you a heads up last week, that my email would be a little late today, we didn’t know that we’d have a zone activity for P-day today.
 So we woke up around 3:30, met up with the others from our zone and headed to Batad to see the rice terraces, and also a waterfall. It was SO pretty seeing the sunrise and just all the surroundings during our 3 hour jeepney ride. It’s kind of hard to sleep while riding in a jeepney, so I’m not sure how I’m still awake right now. It was a really fun day, a long hike down through the rice terraces, and then over to a pretty waterfall (Tappiya falls) for a while, and then a really really long hike up. But I loved it, and don’t worry I took lots of pictures. 

Work this past week was interesting. We had dinner with some members on Tuesday and then afterwards their nephew came over, who we had already given a pamphlet to. He talked with us for a while and asked him if he had been able to read it. He said yes, and said that he feels like it is strengthening him already. It was really cool to hear his thoughts about it. We returned on Friday this week to teach him, and I was so excited and prepared, but we didn’t end up teaching because we got there and saw him and his friends enjoying their Red Horse (beer of choice here). Bummer. Actually a lot of bummers this week, full of ups and downs, but it’s alright, still happy. It was also sad realizing just how close transfers are, but Sister Manguil and I are going to make the most of the last week of this cycle. We still don’t know yet what will be happening with transfers. Saturday was the most hectic day I’ve had for my whole mission so far. The Sunday before, our branch had announced a CSP (community service project) for Saturday, so Sister Manguil and I went, and we were the only ones from our branch, in fact, it was just us two and the family that had the project to do pulling weeds from the garden area at the school where the mom works. But these weren’t little weeds haha, remember the part on Lloyd where he sees the weeds in the old lady’s back yard? Ya it felt a bit like that. But we got to work; luckily I can kind of squat like a Filipino now though so that helped. While we were there Mary Joyce texted us saying that she was allowed to have her baptism that day but that it needed to be at 1 instead of at 4. So we finished up and started our crazy day trying to get everything together. Long story short everything that could have been a problem was a problem, ha I can’t even count how many conflicts there were. But despite the craziness of it all we got everything ready, and I was just so happy that it all came together and that she was baptized! The baptism, as well as seeing our investigators at church was a good way to end the week. Well I hope you all have a great great week. And I hope that Alyssa and Michael’s wedding is wonderful for everyone! So happy for them!  :) Mahal ko kayong lahat.
Mary Joice at her Baptism
Sister Stabenow

Monday, June 3, 2013

Another Week (Week 10 in the Philippines)

Another week that just flew by. Sister Manguil and I have been having a ton of fun talking to lots of random people on the streets, it’s always so fun to go out and work. So I got a haircut last week, and looks like it’s back to 14 for me haha. It really needed to be cut. When we talk to people they have a lot of questions for me- my name, where I’m from, why I’m here, and of course how old I am. Ha one man this week after I told him I’m 21, said “wow, more like 14” haha to which I replied “alam ko” (I know) haha. So yep back to 14, oh well.  So last Monday night I thought it would be fun to have FHE with all of the kids that I met one of my first weeks here over where all of the Guiner family lives. So all the grandkids came to their grandpa’s house for FHE with us. It was so much fun. We had a lesson, played some games, and they wanted to show their talents and dance for us. Ha all the kids are way good at dancing here. Oh and we played don’t eat pete with them which they loved!
Some of Sister Stabenow"s favorite people

They love to pose!
We had a really interesting experience the other day walking along one of the busy main roads. I looked over and saw a lady smiling across the street at us, so I smiled and waved. She then waved her hand for us to come over. So we get over to her, and she starts using her hands to sign a ton of things- Sister Manguil and I just looked at each other, wooops neither of us know sign language. So she acted some things out, we pulled out a piece of paper and pen and she wanted our phone number and names. So we gave her a pamphlet and our number, she kind of checked to see if what we were doing is religious, and then asked us again (kind of through actions) if we would visit her house. We said yes, so we’ll see what happens with that!

We started teaching a teenage girl a few weeks ago, MaryJoyce. She has already been coming to church for a long time with extended family of hers that are members, and has just been waiting for it to be okay with her parents for her to get baptized. She is awesome and so ready to be baptized! Ha the first time we taught her Sister Manguil invited her to be baptized and asked her when she would want to, to which she quickly replied Saturday haha. She is very ready no doubt, but we just needed a little more time to teach her a couple more lessons and get her interviewed. So her baptism will be this coming Saturday- she was SO happy coming out after her interview yesterday, I’m so happy for her!

Yesterday we had a lot of members that wanted to come work with us- 2 youth, 2 single adults, and the 2nd counselor in the Branch presidency (son of Tatay Guiner). At one of the appointments visiting a family of members one of them a recent convert, Pres. Guiner shared a message with all of us from Alma 37:35 which talks about learning wisdom in thy youth and learning to keep the commandments of God. It was a really great feeling just sitting there listening to the counsel of a caring leader, and hearing the testimonies of all the youth about how yes it is sometimes hard to be obedient and keep all the commandments, but we all talked about how worth it it is, and how it is such a blessing. I know I am so incredibly blessed, my heart is just so full some times. I love the gospel, I am so blessed to have the family that I have, to have grown up in a home where the gospel was lived and taught, and to have so many opportunities in life. Including the opportunity I have now to share my testimony every day through words and actions here with the people in the Philippines. I am just so happy :)

Well I hope you all have a great week and enjoy your summer break! School started up again here today for all the kids, so their school schedule is a bit different. Thank you again for the emails and prayers and support. I feel so loved hearing from friends and family! Love you all :) your emails always give me such a boost.

-          Sister Stabenow

 i can't get over how cute the babies are here
Kieysha Ocampo's 3rd Birthday

I Love this weather!