This week I hit a really cool milestone in my mission. I'm in my 6th month in my 5th transfer with my 4th companion in my 3rd area (if you count the MTC as an area) in my 2nd congregation with my 1st branch. Pretty cool, right?
I am now here serving in the Manaoag Branch in the Mapandan District with Sister Lagan. She just finished training, which means I'm follow-up training her. I was not expecting to become a senior companion this transfer, but I'm really excited for the opportunity! Sister Lagan was originally assigned to the Tacloban mission, but got temporarily reassigned here in Urdaneta, which means any time she could be called to go to her mission. I hope it's not any time soon. We have become sisters in the last 3 days, which (like my dear Sister Young has said) means more than just being companions. She's a great missionary and I am really excited to work with her! She is from Palawan, Philippines and is 22 years old. Her whole family is active and she is very beautiful! I want to send you a picture, but she said that the internet shops here all have viruses and I really don't want to risk losing all my pictures again. (Mom's note - She lost all 600 pictures on her memory card last week)
The area. It's GINORMOUS. That's all. 18 barangays. It's pretty overwhelming for me, coming from an area with only two barangays, where we could easily walk everywhere and know every meter of our area. I am praying and fasting for inspiration to know how to work this area and help it to be fruitful. It requires a quite different approach than Lingayen for sure, but I am confident that Heavenly Father will help us to know how we need to approach the work here. When I got here there were less than 10 investigators in the area book, which is a crazy big difference between Lingayen where we had 30 plus in the area book. We've been doing a lot of finding in the last 3 days, focusing on areas that are close by members.
The branch. I LOVE the Manaoag Branch so much already! They were so welcoming and so friendly. They do a great job welcoming our investigators and less-actives and I feel already that I will be very happy here!
The house. I can't complain one bit about the house. We have an actual couch and a shower that comes out of a showerhead, not a bucket- luxuries that are hard to come by here in the Philippines :)
We had some really cool miracles that I know came from our fasting this weekend: The Fronda Family. They have been investigators for more than 6 months and have been waiting to make a decision. They had to decide whether to get married and stay here in the Philippines or get their papers processed to go to Canada to work. It was a really hard decision for them and has caused the delay for their baptisms. We fasted that they would be able to make a decision so that they can be baptized. We went to their house night and they told us that they decided to stay here in the Philippines and be married. They have their paperwork and will be married on and hopefully baptized soon thereafter, along with their 8 year old daughter. The light of the gospel just radiates from them and I know that the miracle of their decision to stay and be married and baptized is a direct result of our fasting!
With the Fronda Family
Gilbert. He is 24 years old and will hopefully be baptized on . We went to his house last night and he told us that he stopped smoking - the day we were fasting that he would stop. It's exactly four weeks before his baptism- the exact amount of time required by the mission in order to be worthy for baptism. We pray that he will continue to have the strength to avoid temptation. He is so willing to follow all of Heavenly Father's commandments and I really feel that he will be a strong leader in the Church someday!
Miracles come from fasting!
So, this wraps up my letter for this week. The church is still true here in Manaoag and the work rolls on! Heavenly Father is good and I am so blessed to be able to serve Him here.
I love you all so much!
-Sister Mckenna Gustafson :)