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

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