Monday, January 27, 2014

The work rolls on...

Hello all,

Another week has come and gone in a flash. It's definitely been a bit of an adjustment getting used to a new companion, but the work moves on! I love Sister Va'enuku and her caring and happy ways!

Our investigators are doing great! We have so much potential with Danilo (the blind man), the Castillo and De Guzman families. Danilo came to church, which was a huuuge step for him, because of course it's really hard for him because he's blind. But we think he had a good experience!

We had a great weekend with the Lingayen Stake conference on Friday and Saturday. A member of the area presidency, Elder Echo Hawk and his wife were here. We had a very spiritual meeting all about missionary work on Saturday. I only wish all our church meetings here could be that spiritual and reverent. Elder Echo Hawk said that during last October's conference, President Monson called all the area authorities from all over the world to come to SLC for a special meeting. At the meeting he informed them that in every stake in the world, the Saturday session of stake conference would focus on missionary work. The Lord is truly hastening His work and I left the meeting grateful to be a small part of that work! I'm coming to realize too that He doesn't expect me to be perfect. He doesn't need a perfect missionary here in the Lingayen 2nd Ward. He needs me. Despite all my imperfections and struggles, He wants me here! 

I love you all so much and I'm so grateful to be here. I thank Heavenly Father every day for the chance to serve Him here.
Sister Gustafson :)

  An 8-year old baptism from the ward this week!

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's getting so cold!! ;)

 Here is a picture of another adorable Filipino baby, Bernice. 
Did I mention how much I love the kids here??
Hello All!
It's getting reaaalllly cold here! It was in the 70's the last couple nights and all the Filipinos are pulling out their coats and hats and wrapping up in blankets. I actually put on a cardigan and a pair of socks this week for the first time since I left the states. All the Filipinos are all shivering and complaining about how cold they are. They all have colds and are blaming the extremely cold weather... riiight. I just laugh! It feels perfect to me! It's a nice break from the extreme heat :) 

I have a new companion! Her name is Sister Va'enuku and she's from Tonga. She is literally the happiest, most peaceful person I have ever met! She laughs at everything and loves everyone. On the first day she told me that she never stresses and she's never sad. Oh, and her favorite food is dog. I already love her so much. I have so much to learn from her no-stress, hardworking, happy personality!

 With my new companion, Sister Va'enuku.

We had a great, but stressful day at church yesterday because we had 5 investigators there! That's the best kind of missionary stress- when you have so many investigators, you don't know how to handle them all! Two of the De Guzman kids came, as well as their step-sister and her daughter, the Castillo family. The Castillo family is golden. they were at one of the lessons with the De Guzmans and we happened to give them a BoM, but we hadn't introduced it. When we went back to their house they said the had read it! The whole intro and all of 1 nephi 1! It was a miracle. We feel like they are going to be very progressive, but we'll see! I'll let you know :)

Small miracle of the week: Last night we were teaching a lesson to Brother Jun outside of his house and his dog was tied up nearby. The dog was going NUTS. as in barking nonstop- super super loud. I was thinking, "There is no way we can teach this lesson if the dog won't stop barking. There is no way we can help him feel the Spirit, let alone hear what he's saying! Heavenly Father, please help us." We started with a prayer and during the prayer I got an impression that we needed to give the dog a piece of the bread that a member had just given us. After the prayer I got up and tossed some bread to the dog and he was absolutely silent for the rest of the lesson. It was such a very very simple small thing, but I really feel like Heavenly Father blessed us. Everyday He gives us little things to let us know that He loves us and cares for us. Always look for the small tender mercies of the Lord in your life. He is there for you and loves you!

I love you!
Sister Gustafson :)

 Lunch at a member's home. Duck! Yummy!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

We've found Zion!

Hello dearests!

Another little friend at church. We're pretty much Besties!
This week we found Zion in the form of a golden family, the De Guzman's and in the form of coconut filled sweet bread.
First, the De Guzmans. We found them while we were looking for a referral. We stopped by their house to see if they knew where our referral lived since they were outside. They let us teach them a lesson right there in their yard (not an uncommon occurrence here). When we came back later in the week, the dad was home and we taught him too. Our first real lesson- The Restoration- was on Monday and the Spirit was so strong. The mom, the dad, and their three kids (17, 15, and 9) all gathered for the lesson. They told us that they are searching for the true church and feel the same way as Joseph Smith did. The Spirit testified so strongly as we taught them that the true church has been restored to the earth through a prophet. Goodness this family is golden. Sister DeGuzman told us that after our second visit she told her kids that they should become Mormons. Yes they should!! They have so much love for each other and so much light. Sister Gallego and I came out of our lessons with them this week just beaming, on that missionary high that comes from having a great lesson :) They have a strong fellowshipper, our Ward Mission Leader, Brother William and a strong desire to know the truth and come to church. Pray for them to follow through with their commitments to read and pray about the Book of Mormon so they can!
The coconut filled sweet bread. It's a little-known fact that Filipinos really know how to make bread. There are all these little bakeries that sell hot rolls (tinapy) and all sorts of sweet bread- so goood! On Thursday a lot of our appointments had fallen through so we were walking, trying to figure out where to go when we saw a little tiny bakery attached to a house. We (being the always-hungry sister missionaries that we are) stopped and bought some bread. And oh my goodness, I'm quite sure heaven tastes like homemade rolls filled with sweet coconut. It was like the celestial kingdom in my mouth. Amazing!! We will definitely be going back to Joshua's Bakery in Maniboc sometime very soon:) I didn't know you could buy the taste of heaven for only 3 pesos :)

I love you all so much and your Heavenly Father loves you so much. He will never give up on you because you are His child and He created you and loves you with a perfect love that no time, sin, or distance can erase. Always remember that!
Sister Mckenna Gustafson :)
 Sisters at the Zone kickball activity.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bagong Taon! (The New Year)

Hello All!

I realize I've been slacking in explaining about what's going on with our investigators. So I'm repenting and changing today :)
Sister Marlene has come to church the last two weeks! Yes! The only reason she's not baptized is because her kids are constantly sick or she can't find money to pay for a tryke to come to church. That's the problem with Aplaya, one of our areas. It's super far out and there are a lot of struggling people there, so it's really hard for them to come to church sometimes. But Sister Marlene is good. She has a lot of great fellow shippers. Hopefully she will keep coming to church! :) She's the one in the picture on the right, with her husband and one of her daughters. The other lady is Sister Perlita, her neighbor and one of our other investigators.
Sister Liza. Goodness I loove Sister Liza. She's like a a shiny, sharp razor blade. She is an accounting teacher and so so bright. She knows everything about the Bible and is a very very devoted Catholic. It's so nice because of her strong religious background and solid education, she can actually understand what we teach her. A lot of times our investigators have very little education, so they don't understand what we teach and just nod and say they understand when they actually don't. Liza asks us questions like, "What race is the prophet Mormon?" or "What was going on in the Bible during the time of Alma?" She really reads and understands the Book of Mormon though and has a strong desire to know if it's true! We have a lot of hope for Liza!

In other news:
- I spent all of Thursday night in the bathroom throwing up. Not sure what happened, but it wasn't fun. Next time I'll be more careful about eating so much random food that's given to us!
- We had one of the most spiritual sacrament meetings I've had here on Sunday. So many very powerful testimonies. I have a lot of admiration for the faithful saints here!
- We learned that you shouldn't leave a pot of boiling sugar and water syrup on the stove unattended or it might catch fire...oops
- I taught Gospel Principles again with Sister Fronk!

I want all of you to know that the Atonement is real. Our Savior lives and loves each of us so much. His Atonement is the only way to overcome our weaknesses, trials and imperfections. I am so grateful for Him.
I love you all!
Sister Gustafson :)
 Because I'm silly :) and because it makes me happy!
(Mom's note: Glad we sent her that purple top for Christmas to complete her rainbow!)