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. ..so 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

Burrl:)


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.
Burrl!!!
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