Monday, October 27, 2014

The Miracles and the Love! :)

With Sister Adasme
 I wish I had time to tell you about all the miracles and sicknesses and struggles we saw this week and how we overcame all of it, but that would take days, so I'll do my best to sum up :)

Miracle of the week: The Balansay family accepted a baptismal date last night!! We had extended to them last week, but they said they wanted more time and felt that they wanted to learn more before they committed. Last night we taught the doctrine of faith and baptism and they accepted their date! We were praying so hard for them and we know the Spirit is what helped them to say yes! :)

I learned a lot this week about the power of inviting everyone to listen to our message. We were at the Agbuya's house and Bro Henry was not wanting to come down from his bamboo hut where he was watching TV to listen to us with his wife. We waited and called and pleaded for about 20 minutes, and finally there was nothing else I could but take my shoes off and climb in after him. Big smile. Introduced myself and my companion. Extended my hand to shake. Enthusiastic tone of voice and a lot more smiling. And finally brother came down and listened as we taught on bamboo benches under their mango trees about the Restoration :) We helped them to understand why their 25 year old son would take 2 years of his life to serve a full time mission. Persistence pays off and shows how much we love each soul and how important this message is :)

Displaying DSC06681.JPGI also learned about love on exchanges in Dagupan with Sis Fronk and her trainee, Sis Gotang. We were walking along concrete banks by black rivers, trying to avoid falling into the trashy water. We climbed across bamboo bridges and under houses on stilts to try to find their investigators and less active members. I remembered my personal study that morning, King Benjamin's sermon about how loving and serving others is a commandment. I learned that loving others and showing that love by my works is something we must always put first and must do all the time. It's not only when it's convenient, it's a commandment. :) It's not always easy or natural, but it's what keeps me going. It's the love that I have for my Father in Heaven that makes this work worth it! :)

Have a great week and try a little harder to love others better, not just in word, but in deed! 

I love you all,
Sister Gustafson 

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 Sister Roberts and Sister Gregory and I were all in the MTC together.

Sister Trainer Leaders with Sister Monahan October 2014.

Sister Gustafson especially loved getting a colorful email from her friend, Jenna.
 "Made my day!" :)


The Harvest- Ang Pagaani

Letter originally written on October 20, 2014

It's the rice harvest right now here in the Philippines, which means that the unshelled rice covers every flat available surface, spread out to dry in the sun. It also means that everywhere we go our investigators and members want us to try their "bagong bigas", the new rice they've just harvested from their "palayan", rice field. It's beautiful to see the rice fields turning greenish brown and the stalks bent over from so many grains of rice. It's a gorgeous season!

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With Jhazzmanne
  We had a wonderful baptism on Saturday. Despite some anxiety about going underneath the water, Sister Filomina and her two kids, Jhazzmanne (13) and Jhunard (15) were finally baptized. I was reminded of just how important it is that baptism is done exactly right, exactly the way Christ was baptized- completely under the water. An elbow up, the top of the head dry, a few fingers above the surface won't cut it. It has to be completely whole, completely symbolic of our commitment to give 100% to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and start a completely new life as a disciple of Them. Jhunard and Jhazz really are showing their desires to start that new life and are so involved with seminary and the other youth activities here in Bayambang 1. The youth here remind me so much of the family I found in the youth of the Merrimack Ward growing up :)
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We had three great exchanges this week. I was able to go back to my first area in Lingayen to work with Sis Ufau, a Samoan sister only in her second transfer. She did so great leading their area and her Tagalog is really coming along. IT was fun as well to see some members from my first area and to see the growth and meet the new recent converts there!

With Sister Carr

I also worked with Sis Folau, a super happy and energetic American-Samoan sister on Wednesday. She is amazing at building relationships with the people and I learned a lot from her spunkiness :)  Sister Carr was my companion on Friday, a super happy and calm Californian sister in her second to last transfer. She is so spiritual and I learned that the Spirit does not dwell with stressed people- He can only move in one direction- peace and happiness :) We had a great and super spiritual exchange. I love the opportunity to learn from so many different sisters from all over the world!

I am so happy to be a part of this work- the harvest of souls :) He is the master and I'm just His servant! I love this work so much!

I love you all,

Sister Gustafson :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pictures from the week

Note from Mom - We didn't receive our regular letter from Sister Gustafson this week. We only received the pictures posted below. 

 Triplets! Sisters in Bayambang and ward member.

 Sister Gustafson with Jhazz and Sister from the ward.

With the Bayamgang Ward youth

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What an incredible General Conference!

What an incredible General Conference! I cannot remember having a more revelatory, spiritual conference in my life. I think partially it was due to my spiritual preparation. Preparing to receive revelation really makes a difference. I came in with a list of topics and concerns of our investigators that I wanted to receive guidance on and it seems that everything I had written was addressed. I came out of the last session of conference, my heart full and I wanted to say, like King Benjamin's people in the book of Mosiah, "I believe all the words which have been spoken ...and know of their surety and truth because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent which has wrought a mighty change in us, or I our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." I resolve to make the sacrament a more sacred experience each week and to think of how the Atonement has strengthened me in the previous week. I want to be kinder and more giving. I want to recognize more fully me utter dependence on Christ's mercy and Heavenly Father's blessings and become more humble and submissive to his will. Elder Bednar's talk was amazing and I wish we could have had all of our investigators there to hear President Uchtdorf's as well :) I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy of the Liahona! :)

 Sis Filomina, Bro Jhunard, and Sis Jhazzmanne all passed their baptismal interviews yesterday and are so excited to be baptized on Saturday :) We were so happy to see Sis Filomina show up to General conference in a skirt for the first time yesterday! They are so sweet and hard-working and humble. Our sweetest experience this week with them was giving Sis Filomina a hand massage by candlelight. Her hands are constantly red and raw and cracked from washing laundry all day to earn a living, so Sis Opeda and I smoothed lotion on and rubbed her sore and tired hands before we taught them of repentance as a true change of heart, like taking something red and raw and broken and making it whole again through the soothing power of the Atonement. I love Sis Filomina and her frizzy graying hair and toothy grin so much. :)

We are also teaching an adorable newlywed part member couple. Sis Joanne is a lifelong member, but married a nonmember, Joseph. We taught them three evenings this past week and can just see how much they love each other. Sis Joanne is pregnant and Bro Joseph is so caring with her. He is really working hard to stop smoking so he can be a better dad to his future baby.

We also met a new older couple this week, Sis Merlie and Bro Ronnie when we went looking for their children who are members and now have their own families. They immediately welcomed us in and Sister mentioned to us how she's always wondered if her children's church is true, but never had a chance to be taught by the missionaries until now. Sister and Brother came to general conference yesterday and really enjoyed hearing the words of the living prophet:) We are excited to extend a baptismal date to them this week!

We also are teaching a part member family with two girls ages 10 and 12, Tanya and Yechia. They are precious and so innocent. I know why Christ invites us to become as children! :) 

I really enjoyed studying Jacob 5 in depth in my personal study this week. I had always kind of skimmed over this section before, but found that as I took the time to study and search it, I gained a lot of new insights about the scattering of Israel, Christ's ministry, the apostasy, and my role in the gathering of Israel. It is amazing how the great Master will never give up on his vineyard and does all things for our good. I am grateful to be his servant :)

I love you all!
Sister Gustafson :)

 Bayambang Sisters!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Being a True Disciple

Hello everyone :)

What an incredible week full of miracles. We are really seeing the fruits of being exactly obedient to the mission vision of excellence and doing all we can to achieve it even when it's hard. We had some nights this week when we were so tired, but pushed through and would do one last visit at a members' home. These visits are crucial in gaining the trust of the members and strengthening them in their responsibilities as member missionaries. Because of these visits we received a lot of referrals and were able to find 13 new investigators, all from the members. President always tells us to let the members do the finding and it really is more effective!

We are teaching an incredible family, A mom, 13 year old daughter and 15 year old son. :) They are on schedule to be baptized on the 18th of October. Bro Jhunard, the 15 year old son is lead out his family in their church attendance, scripture reading and family prayer. We were especially impressed when we taught the commandment of keeping the Sabbath day holy and he decided to quit his Sunday job in order to attend all three hours of church, even though it means giving up his spending money that he uses to buy his lunch throughout the week. He simply told us that he knows it's a commandment and it's worth the sacrifice. We are so excited for them to be baptized! :)

We have an incredible bishop here in Bayambang 1, Bishop Marcos. We had a coordination meeting with him yesterday because our ward mission leader is out of town. We brought up some concerns and needs that we had noticed, but he is so on top of things that he had already taken care of most of them before we even brought them up. The conversation went something like this.... "Bishop, we noticed that this less-active couple is struggling in their marriage and may need some council." "Alright, we'll go and visit them later tonight". "Bishop, we were wondering if our recent convert youth would be able to join the ward temple trip in December..." "I already interviewed them earlier" "Bishop, we thought that maybe this recent convert brother could be given a calling..." "Yes we have already given him a HT assignment and he will be partners with my counselor." AMAZING! :) I've never met a bishop here more on top of things. He is truly an example to me of a true disciple of Jesus Christ, one who truly cares about and ministers to individuals according to their needs.  

That something I've been thinking a lot about this week. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not about lessons, schedules, rules, meetings, and paperwork. All of those things are necessary and should help us to be more efficient, but should never take away from the real reason that we do these things. Pres Monson has taught, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than an person to be loved" I think that's my new motto for this transfer. Being a disciple is not about things, it's about people, precious souls. Being a disciple of Christ means focusing on others' needs and placing them before your own. It’s easy to get caught up in things in this life, but never let those things become more important than people. Take a look around and notice others' needs and help them. I promise that you will find a lot more happiness in focusing on people more than things :)

The most important things in life aren't things :)

I love you all so much!
Sister Gustafson