Goodness- what a week. I was stretched and pushed this week to do things that I did not know I could do. It was definitely a week of learning and growth. Here's how it happened:
at our Christmas Conference in Dagupan, the sister training leaders casually mentioned that we would be having exchanges and that I (!!) would be leading the area. Leading the area means leading all teaching appointments, finding activities, coordinating everything, everything for 24 hours. Whew. So that was super stressful, but I made it through. Sister Alvaro (STL) was incredible. I hope that someday I can be like her. Everything she says during lessons just flows with the Spirit and she is so inspired! Even though she didn't know our investigators, the questions she asked and the things she said were just what they needed!
Exchanges with the Sister Trainer Leaders. They're the best!
I woke up with a fever of 101 and a super sore throat, but I sucked it up and went out to work with a bottle of ibuprofen in my bag :)
I woke up with a fever of 103.8, so I spent the morning in bed feeling pretty awful. After lunch, the zone leaders came over and gave me a priesthood blessing. I felt well enough (and took enough ibuprofen) to go out and work the full 8 hours later. There is power in priesthood blessings! By the time we got home though, I was feeling pretty awful again and ended up going to sleep early. - I felt a lot better which was good because sister Fronk and I had to teach Gospel principles again. in Tagalog. To a room full of investigators and less-actives. can you say stressful?? But once I again, we made it through. Then at church we were informed by Bishop that we needed to speak at the funeral of a member that night. So last night I spoke at a funeral. In Tagalog. to a room (or more like a yard) full of members and non-members. All of a sudden, with about 10 minutes to prepare.
All I can say is that I have grown and been pushed to do things I didn't think I could do this week. I have grown and come to realize that when Heavenly Father asks us to do things, there is a reason for it and like President Monson says, "He will shape the back to bear the burden placed upon it." I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for giving me strength beyond my own this week to accomplish all that He has asked me to do.
Despite the stress, there were some moments of overwhelming happiness this week. :) we were out in the middle of nowhere trying to contact a referral. It was POURING. We had our umbrellas, but they were literally not doing a thing to keep us dry. We were in the middle of nowhere and getting soaked. There was nothing we could do but keep walking. It was one of those moments when it hit me. again. I am ACTUALLY a missionary in the Philippines and I am so happy and this is amazing. All I could do was laugh. I laughed and laughed and I couldn't stop, just ask my companion :) It was just one of those wonderful moments!
we found a whole new middle class family who is very interested in hearing the gospel. We taught them a great lesson, got a return appointment and a referral from them. As we were leaving their house and walking down the road, the overwhelming high that comes from finding new people to teach hit me all at once and I was so happy, I literally jumped in the air and said, "I LOVE missionary work!!" So, in short, even though some weeks are hard, there are moments of overwhelming joy that are given to us by Heavenly Father because He loves us.
My Christmas message for all of you this year is that He lives. Remember that Christmas is not about packages, snow, lights, trees, or gifts. It's about our Savior and His perfect life and sacrifice for us. Because of a tiny baby that was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, we can live with our Father in Heaven again some day. His life neither began in Bethlehem nor ended on Calvary. For that I am so grateful this Christmas season. Even though there are no trees or snow or Christmas lights on our house, I feel the Christmas Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, so strongly this year, because I know more strongly than I ever have before that HE LIVES.
I love you all! Have a great Christmas :)
-Sister Mckenna Gustafson
Lingayen 2nd Ward Relief Society
(No information with this photo. It appears to be a pig's head with an apple in it's mouth.)
We rescued two baby goats from a slimy ditch the other day. They were so cute!!! Just tiny little babies bleating and bleating for their mama, who was frantically pacing back and forth along the side of the ditch. We put a branch in and used it to pull the goats to safety.