Monday, April 28, 2014

Snake Invasion, Service and Singing in the Rain :)

 Doing service on the beach.
Hello all!

What a week! So much happened this week, I don't know if I can get it all out, but I'll do my best.  :)

Okay, so maybe "invasion" is a bit of an exaggeration, but we did find two baby snakes in our apartment this week and one of them was on the COUNTERTOP!... we're not sure how that happened, but we just hope the mama snake doesn't come and eat us for killing her two babies...

The rain POURED on us on Friday. We were walking and walking and walking and no one was home or they were asleep or their houses were flooding and they didn't want to be taught. So I told Sister Lapura that we had to sing :) We sang hymn after hymn after hymn as we walked through the ankle deep flooded streets, trying to avoid getting splashed by the passing tricycles. We were soaking wet for the whole day, first from our sweat and then from the pelting rain, but as we walked and sang, we just laughed :) Singing hymns is a really great way to turn cloudy rainy days into sunny ones! And one thing I realized this week is that even the rain comes from heaven. We may not always enjoy it, but remember challenges help us grow!

We had a great branch conference yesterday and all of our investigators with a baptismal date came to church! Brothers Arcenio and Ronell and Sister Delia were all there! What a happy day when investigators come to church! They are all working on word of wisdom problems, but have strong desires to stop and we know Heavenly father will help them :) We are seeing miracles in their progression towards baptism!

  Dugupan Zone passing out water.
We had the opportunity to do two community service projects this week. The first was on Tuesday at the Dagupan Bangus Festival (a type of fish- sooo goood!). We served with the Dagupan Stake members handing out water to the dancers in the parade. The parade was probably one of the coolest things I've seen (culturally) in my life! The ornate, colorful traditional costumes were so amazing and the traditional dances and the drums were so cool. I couldn't stop beaming as we handed out cup after cup of water. The service project took on a new meaning to me when I realized about halfway through that there were a lot of parallels to missionary work. As missionaries, our job, our purpose, our goal, is to invite others to receive salvation by partaking of the living waters of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are thirsty and hot and need the saving waters of the gospel and the ordinances associate with it, but they don't always realize it. I noticed as we handed out water, some of the people readily took the water. Some even came under our tent and asked to fill their water bottles. Others didn't want the water, despite the heat and their full- body costumes. We see this every day in our work as missionaries. The elected souls want more and are thirsty to know more and partake of the living waters of Christ's gospel. Others,  not so ready. They may not realize that they are thirsty until they partake of the waters. But our job is just to offer it to them. It's clean, it's refreshing, and it's free. We just have to partake of it. And it's the only way to be happy in this live and achieve exaltation :) I am so blessed to be able to offer people this saving, living water every day! :)

That's all for this week!

Mahal ko kayo :)

Sister Gustafson

 Dagupan Bangus Festival 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Easter!

Hello All!

I hope you all had a sunny and happy Easter! It was definitely the hottest Easter I've experienced in my life. Even with all 12 ceiling fans spinning on full blast in the chapel, I could still feel the sweat dripping down my back as we sat in sacrament meeting yesterday... :)

Miracle of the week: Sister Delia finally accepted her baptismal date! She has been praying so hard to know if this is the right thing for her to do and she has decided that it is, even though her very strong Catholic children do not approve. We know this is the answer to ours and her prayers! :)

Brother Ronell is so excited for his baptism. It is such a blessing to be able to witness the changes people make in their lives. :) When we first met him about six weeks ago, he was so shy to pray and would barely do so out loud. Now he prays all the time. He told us yesterday with a huge grin on his face that he prayed before he went to harvest crabs from their fish pond that the crabs wouldn't bite him. We left a word of wisdom pamphlet for him to read and when we asked him about it yesterday he was so willing to give up alcohol and coffee and said he knows the word of wisdom is revelation. What a blessing it is to be able to witness people changing their lives! 

We have been having great success this week in finding new investigators using the members. We go to their houses, teach a short and (hopefully) powerful lesson about missionary work and invite them to come outside and introduce us to their neighbors. A lot of times it takes a little boldness and love, but they are usually willing to do so. We introduce ourselves and our message and schedule return appointments. We should be reaping the fruits in the next few weeks! This works really well because Filipino culture is really centered on relationships with family and neighbors and usually all live in one compound. They are so willing to share their blessings with each other!

We had our quarterly zone interviews wither President Monahan on Thursday and he set some pretty high goals for our area, 4-6 baptisms for the month of May. Wow! We will do our best and I know Heavenly Father will bless us with success as we continue to be exactly obedient and do what Heavenly Father has asked of us!

Sister Lapura is doing great! She has an incredible attitude. Whenever I ask her how her day was at the end of the night, she always says with a smile, "Tired but happy" :) We are enjoying our companionship and are developing a really close relationship! 

One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is Jesus Christ's peace. We can receive His peace in our crazy, hectic lives as we sincerely seek time to ponder and pray for it. Peace is a state of mind and being that we can achieve as we are worthy for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and earnestly seek His peace. I've felt this peace as I say silent prayers, walking through the dark night along windy dirt paths in between fish ponds and in lessons where I need to know what to say to investigators who are struggling. Pray for and seek His peace! It's better than anything the world has to offer :)

That's all for now :) Mahal ko kayong lahat!
Sister Gustafson 

Monday, April 14, 2014


Hello All :)


Training Sister Lapura is such a blessing. She is 22 and from Davao and about nine inches shorter than me. Her favorite color is white and given the choice between rice and bread, she will always choose rice :) She has such an incredible life story. All of her family are members, but she is the only active one. Her mom died when she was young and the rest of her family wants nothing to do with the church. She has such a great attitude and work ethic. It's a blessing to be her companion! She's a little quiet right now, but I just know she has a wild crazy side inside of her :) We are going to be great together! 

We had a miracle this weekend. We had four of our investigators show up to watch General Conference at the stake center in Lingayen! Going from no progressing investigators last week to four this week is a miracle indeed. We were able to extend a baptismal date to Brother Ronell last night. He is in his mid-20's and really hungry for the gospel. His dad and step-mom are members and referred him to us. He is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and has come to church twice now. When Sister Lapura extended the baptismal invitation to him last night, he didn't even let her finish before he said "Opo" (yes) with a big smile on his face. He's going to be a great priesthood holder someday!

We've had some cool experiences with finding lately. One Sunday night about two weeks ago we were going to one of our areas, Lomboy, in a tryke. When I got in the tryke, there was a lady there already, so I squished in next to her and started talking to her. She told me her name is Jenette and she lives in Lomboy. I ended up getting her contact information and giving her a pamphlet. I had exchanges with Sister Detera about a week and a half ago and we were able to contact Jenette. It turns out she wasn't home, but we were able to teach her sister-in-law, Jen and her family and one of their neighbors. To make a long story short, yesterday Sister Jen and one of her kids came to General Conference! I know the Lord will always lead us to find those who are willing to act as we open our mouths and talk to as many people as possible :)

 Met friends from Linguyen 2nd Ward at General Conference

General Conference was incredible. I went in with very specific questions and received an outpouring of revelation and inspiration. One thing that was particularly clear to me was that the Lord's standards will never change, no matter what the world is doing. I really enjoyed the talks of Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf. All of the General Authorities are inspired men called of God!

That's all for now! Mahal ko kayong lahat!

Sister Gustafson :)


Dinner with the Cayado family.  They are amazing! They actually remind me a lot of the Filipino version of the Pearson family, strangely enough!  haha


Daugupan Zone Jerseys


With adorable Mika!


Fun package from home!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Called to...Train!

 Sunset over the fish ponds in Manat.

 Yep, you read that right! This sister is going to be training a brand new missionary for the next two transfers! One of the Assistants called me on Wednesday after our zone training meeting and gave the news (after I had missed his first call because I couldn't find the right button to answer the phone because my hands were shaking haha). When he extended the call he asked me how I felt and I couldn't respond for a few seconds. I was a little choked up and overwhelmed at the responsibility it is to set the tone for a new missionary's mission. I'm really excited though and grateful for the opportunity! There are only 6 missionaries coming and only three sisters, so it's a privilege to be training this transfer! I had the privilege to go to Urdaneta on Friday and sit in the mission home living room to be taught by President Monahan and the assistants with the 5 other trainers. It was such a blessing to be taught by the mission leaders and the Spirit in such a small group setting. All of the new missionaries are coming from the Manila MTC, so I will probably get a Filipina, which makes my fourth Filipina companion!

I'm going to be real here. We have a lot of investigators, but none that are currently progressing. None the less, we are continuing to focusing on finding, finding, finding the elect! President has received revelation for our mission that the way to find the elect is through the members and having short, powerful, 15 minute lessons with them and meeting all of their neighbors. We've been doing it and having some success in finding new investigators. We are also going to be looking for all of the part member families with inactive priesthood holders and inviting the inactive priesthood holders back to church and teaching their families, so we have hope that Heavenly Father will guide us to those who are prepared to accept His commitments!

We extended a baptismal date to one of our investigators, 63 year old Delia as we sat on the bamboo floor of her little hut surrounded by fish ponds where she sleeps with her 9 year old granddaughter. She really wants to be baptized and really liked her experience at church last week, but is hesitant to accept the date we gave her. She is not sure about how her children will react. She needs prayers! 

I am really looking forward to General Conference this week! What did you enjoy most about general conference? I am planning on going in with questions in mind and I know Heavenly Father will provide answers and inspiration through his chosen servants :) (It takes a week to get conference translated into Tagalog.)

I love you all and I am so happy to be here! I love His work :)
Sister Gustafson 

 Sisters in Manat.

 Working with Sister Sunshine. She enters the MTC on Friday.

 View of the fishponds from my bedroom window.

 Zone activity - Sports and watching "The Best Two Years" with a catered lunch.