Monday, July 7, 2014

New calling, new companion, new transfer, new area!

Yup, It's been a week of big changes! I'm now serving in my third area, the Villasis Ward in the Urdaneta Zone with Sister Flores and I have been called to serve as a Sister Training Leader (STL). I couldn't be more happy and humbled to serve :) 

Sister Flores and I lived together in my first area in Lingayen and we've had a special connection since we had exchanges and she gave me some comfort and counsel that has stayed with me my whole mission. She is 22 and from Ilo Ilo and one of my greatest heroes here in the mission. :) It is such a privilege to serve with her and learn from her in her last transfer before she goes home in August. Sister Flores is like a loving, happy, missionary energizer bunny that never runs out of spiritual insights or love. I am so blessed to be her companion and to learn everything about being an STL from her!

One of the greatest blessings of this transfer is the opportunity to serve in the "temple zone". Our area borders the sight where the next house of God in the Philippines, the Urdaneta temple, will be built. It is incredible to think that we are literally preparing this area and these wards to build a house of the Lord. There is an incredible spirit here and the work is on fire here in the Urdaneta Stake. There has been an explosion of recent converts just in our ward alone and we can really see how He is hastening His work in this area in preparation for the temple.

We have an incredible recent convert who was baptized right before I came to this area. Sister Naya is in her 60s and is almost completely blind in both eyes and only has one foot. She lives all alone in a tiny house and uses an old walker to hop around. Sister Flores cries as she talks about her love for dear sweet Sister Naya. She said that she has seen the change in Naya's life since she met the missionaries, coming from a person who was full of bitterness and hopelessness in her life, to a sister who loves God and feels the Spirit in her life. She is not able to read the Book of Mormon, but loves having us read to her and comes to church each Sunday with the members who pick her up in their tricycles. The priesthood brethren bring her up the stairs of the church to the second floor where we have sacrament meeting. She has truly been changed by the love of the saints here in Villasis and the love that she has felt from her Heavenly Father.

Leaving Manat was bittersweet. I have loved and given everything I have to those beautiful people for the last four months and it was sad to leave Margarita, the Aquino family, Sister Tessie, Brother Roger, Brother Ronel, the Molanos, The Cayados and all the others. On the way to transfer meeting on Friday, I got a text from Sister Molano (member) expressing their love for me and gratitude that I was assigned in the Manat Branch. I almost cried. I love that sweet Branch like my family, and I know I will see them again someday :) I know that I will learn to love the beautiful, humble, and hardworking saints here in Villasis as much as I loved my Manat :)

On Saturday, Sister Flores and I set our goals for the transfer. This transfer I will be focusing on seeing, loving, and serving. I wrote that I will work this transfer to see others as He sees them, love others as He loves them, and serve others as He would serve them. As His representative, I want to make my thoughts, actions, and words in harmony with the things he would say, think, and do if He were here. I know that we can become like Him!

Mahal ko kayong lahat,
Sister Gustafson

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