As a missionary, you expect to go on a mission and inspire all the people around you with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but what I've learned is that the blessing of being a missionary is all the incredible people that you meet that inspire you with their amazing light. :) I wish I could bring all of you here to the Philippines to meet all the incredible people that I've had the privilege of associating with here, but since I can't I will try to introduce you to a few of them:
Sister Joan: Sister Joan is a 50 plus non-member mother who has been faithfully coming to church for almost a year. She lives in our branch in the other sisters' area. She cannot be baptized because she and her live-in partner don't have enough money to purchase the necessary paperwork so they can be married and she can get baptized. They are just one year short of the 5-year live in requirement for the Philippines baptismal standard. She sells mangoes and fried bananas every day in order to save her money. She comes to church every single week and has a stronger testimony than a lot of life-long members. When she talks about when she will be able to be baptized, she cries. :) Her story makes me realize how blessed I am!
Sister Venus: Sister Venus is a single 35-year-old mother that we met this week doing street contacting. She has a severely disabled 10-year old son that she has devoted her life to taking care of. She lovingly feeds him milk out of a bottle, pushes him in a tiny old baby carriage and washes his tiny deformed arms and legs. She is with him 24/7 and the love that she has for him just radiates in everything she does! We've been able to teach her twice and we just need to help her see that the restored gospel is what she and her son need. I want to have the kind of love she has!
Brother Rogell: Brother Rogell is the most elect recent convert I've ever had the privilege to meet in my life. He was baptized just in September and is already serving as our branch's Young Men's president. He is a police officer so it took a long time for him to be baptized because he has duty on Sundays. He told us this week that before he was baptized he sometimes had to travel more than 84 km both ways just so he could attend sacrament meeting wherever he was assigned. He also told us that he goes around to member’s houses who don't attend church and invites them back, without any assignment or recognition. I hope someday I can have that same kind of powerful conversion.
Sister Lapura: Yes, my dear companion :) She inspires me with her life story. She is the only active member in her family and returned to church alone when she was 16, faithfully becoming active in the church and preparing herself to serve a mission since that time. She has overcome poverty, a mother dying, inactive family, and a million more things I can't mention in order to serve her Heavenly Father fulltime. She has an amazing light and an incredible ability to make friends easily. She inspires me to be a more happy and loving sister :) I love my dear companion!
We had a great week this week! We have two very solid progressing investigators, Brother Ronell and Brother Roger. We were happy to see both of them at church yesterday and they are making great progress towards baptism in June :) Brother Roger is down to 8(!!!) cigarettes a day :)
I wish I had time to share all the times I saw blessings from following the promptings of the Holy Ghost this week, but I'll just share one. On Friday night we were on our way to bed. Sister Lapura and I had already had our comp. prayer and I was about to climb up the top bunk to go to sleep, when I got a seriously strong prompting that I needed to check and make sure the front door was locked. It seemed kind of silly because there were 5 other sisters sleeping in our apartment and one of them surely would have checked that the door was locked. I went all the way downstairs and checked anyways and sure enough, the door was unlocked and unbolted. I quickly locked it and thanked Heavenly Father for prompting me to check the door. I know He is watching over us :)
I know Heavenly Father will watch over you too and send his spirit to prompt and protect us when we listen for it!
Mahal ko kayong lahat,
Sister Gustafson :)