Monday, November 11, 2013


First of all, NO WORRIES! I'm perfectly safe and happy here in the Philippines. We really didn't feel any effects from the storm, just a little bit of rain and wind. I'm really super worried for the families of my dear companion Sister Gallego and our bahay (house) mate, Sister Flores. Please pray for their families because they haven't heard from them. The storm knocked out the internet connection, so they are very worried. We are praying for our fellow brothers and sisters who were affected by the storm. Thank you all for your concern and keep praying for these suffering people!
 Sister Flores helping make lunch.
I pulled out the picture of my family that I carry as we taught the Escano family the other night. We were discussing family prayer and I got emotional as I showed them the picture and told them how grateful I was that we always had our family say family prayer, even when it wasn't convenient. I told them that one of the reasons I could bear to leave them for a year and half was because of how grateful I am for the gospel's influence on our family. The spirit was so strong! we extended baptismal invitation to the mom, for December 21st and she accepted. The husband is really accepting as well, so we're going to give him a date soon. They have two gorgeous little kids. I love the Escanos!!
Okay, The Ward! We are over the Lingayen 2nd ward along with the other sisters that we live with. They are such a great ward! We love them!! Bishop Dapadap is the son of our ward mission leader and is probably one of the smallest men I've ever met in my life. He's only in his late twenties and he's a great bishop! The ward is about 100 people, there are a lot of part member families and less actives that we're working to reactivate. We're not allowed to only teach less actives, so we're working to get them to help us fellowship our investigators and reactivate them at the same time.

I play the piano in sacrament meeting and RS every week. The culture here is sooo different from the states. The kids run wild and free during sacrament meeting, going in and out, running up and down the isles, eating, talking, and even yelling! It's a little crazy. My first week I was so frustrated because I couldn't hear the speaker and we had all these little kids trying to climb all over us. The parenting for the most part here is so lax and kids are used to running free. We're going to try to work with bishop on teaching the parents to keep their kids in their seats during the sacrament meeting. It's hard to bring our investigators to church and help them feel the Spirit in an environment like that. 

Funny thing- it was my first week in Relief Society. I walked into the room and saw a lace tablecloth on the table with a picture of Christ and vase of fake flowers. The teacher was taping typed phrases on the board with masking tape. As the lesson started someone passed chocolates around. It was just like any other RS meeting I've ever been to. You RS sisters will know what I'm talking about! No matter where you go, the Church (and Church culture, I guess!) is the same :) I love it!

Trykes! Trykes are one of the very best best things about the Philippines. Barely anyone can afford a car here so everyone uses trykes to get around. They are motorcycles that have these side cars attached. They are so so efficient! Trykes are every every everywhere and you can always just signal one and go where ever you need to! (See the attached picture for a tryke selfie of Sister Gallego and me :)

Your long Tagalog word of the week is brought to you by Ang Aklat ni Mormon. It's... ready? ...pinakamakapangyarihan. Tada! It means "all powerful". Whew. some of these words are such tongue twisters!! Grabe! The Lord is helping me so much with the language. A lot of times during lessons I'll have no idea what to say and then I'll just open my mouth and words come out that I definitely did not put there. The promise in Doctrine & Covenants 100:6 is true. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father knows what the people we are teaching need to hear and that He trusts me with His work. I know that He puts the things in our mouths that we need to say.

If you were to visit the Philippines, you would notice a lot of things right away. The heat. The smells of trash and sewage and burning plastic and cigarette smoke. You would see houses that are made of cardboard and cinderblocks or plywood and tin. Walking down a typical street you would see naked children and drunk people on the side of the road. You would see black rivers of water with green slime. BUT if you were looking at these things you would most definitely miss the bright pink flowers blooming in the tree above you. You would miss the little kids flying colorful homemade kites. If you entered the home of a family, you might be distracted by the dog barking outside or the smell of smoke coming from the fire in the corner, but if you did that, you would most definietly miss the sweet Spirit that enters as this family testifies of their experience with family prayer strengthening them. you would miss the gorgeous little four year old eyeing you shyly in the corner. if you were watching the lizard eating the cockroach on the wall, you would miss the chance to look into the eyes of the mom as you explain how her family can be together for eternity because of God's plan for them.
Sometimes it's so hard to focus on what's really important amid the distractions and noise of the world. When we focus our minds and hearts on those things of eternal importance, we are blessed with an increased capacity to bear trials. We remember that the trials and problems in this life are but a small moment compared to eternity. Try to see the good in the world and focus on the things of true importance!

I love you all!!
-Sister Gus :)
 Sister Gustafson in front of the Urdaneta City sign, but you can't see the words. haha

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