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