Monday, January 26, 2015

Press Forward

The gorgeous sunrise I woke up to on Tuesday morning. This was taken on our second-floor balcony. Breathtaking reminder of Heavenly Father's love :)

We had a great week with Sis Marissa, our deaf and mute investigator, teaching her about the Godhead and the Plan of Salvation. She can recognize and distinguish between the members of the Godhead by the hand signals we taught her. Teaching the Plan of salvation, we really felt the Spirit as we did our best to testify to her that when she is resurrected, she will be able to hear and speak. We used as many pictures as we could find and laid them all out on the table in front of us in a timeline fashion to show her where she came from and where she's going.

We were so overjoyed to see Brother Rick at church yesterday even though he was throwing up in the morning. He forced himself to come to church because he knew he would be blessed. He's been experiencing some opposition this week from his Catholic family and neighbors, but I've learned this week from him that the humble elect will continue to press forward despite opposition. Sister Gregory and I are trying to do the same!

I love you all!!

Sister Gustafson :)

Sister Gregory and I after church :) It was a little chilly yesterday.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lots of Photos

 Sister Gustafson didn't have time to write but sent lots of pictures. Since a picture is worth a thousand words I'd say this post has a lot to say!

The field is ready to harvest

In a corn field

With President and Sister Monahan's daughter Amber and her husband, Dallin - I played the piano for Amber during a fireside.
With Brother Roger (waving)

Love these Filipino families
With the Versola Family - Love them!
Brother Jobel picking mangoes for us! :)
With Sister Divina and MJ, future missionary

Sweet reunion with Sister Lapura
Sweet reunion with Sister Gallego

Exchanges with Sisters
Yummy Filipino food!
Jeepney ride with Sister G

STL and batchmates

Sister Trainer Leaders - January 2015
I love Villasis!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Enjoying the End :)

Hello everyone!

We started teaching a special new investigator this week, Sis Marissa. She is the sister of an active member who has been coming to church for about 2 months now and we are so excited to be teaching her because she is deaf and doesn't know how to read or speak. It's amazing how the Spirit is a language that anyone can speak and feel and understand. Sis Gregory and I are teaching her using pictures and hand signals and her family to translate. We showed her pictures of Jesus Christ's baptism and a baptism in our time, and asked her if she wanted to do the same and she enthusiastically nodded yes and gave us the thumbs up :) We are so excited to see her desires to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ! She gave the closing prayer, speaking the words of her heart that only Heavenly Father could understand and even sang along in her "words" as we sang I Am a Child of God. We love Sis Marissa and are continuing to look for creative ways to teach her!

Bro Rick is doing so great. He readily accepted the Wow this week and is loving learning the plan of Salvation. He accepted an invitation to be baptized in February! :) We are so happy to see how prepared he has been throughout his life to receive the Gospel and how willing he is to act on it. I'll keep you updated on his progress!

This week, as I start the last 8 weeks of my mission, I think my motto will be "enjoy to the end". Eight weeks is so short and I want to do all I can to live and love every moment, even the challenging ones. Enduring to the end is a great thing to do, but it's useless if we are not enjoying it. I was thinking today about how important it is to choose to enjoy everything- the studies, the exchanges, the meeting, the planning, the work, the challenges, the members, the ward, everything! 

This week I invite you to continue not only to endure to the end, but to enjoy to the end :) Heavenly Father loves us soo much and wants us to be happy, so wherever you are this week and whatever you're doing- just enjoy it! It's a Plan of Happiness not a Plan of Endurance :)

I love you all!
Sister Gustafson :)

PS- I have some great pictures of me with the fish I ate earlier and me on exchanges with my dear trainer, Sis Gallego, but they don't want to be sent right now. Something to look forward to for next week :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year

Us after playing basketball in the morning with the sisters from Villasis and San Jacinto and Sister Camille, a recent convert who is preparing for a mission! Fun fun fun :)

Hello everyone and Happy 2015!!

We had a super awesome and busy week! With two exchanges and two surprise studies with the sisters, it seems that we were giving out a ton of hugs and doing a lot of fun things this week :)

We had an awesome miracle in our area this week- Bro Rick. Bro Rick is a man that Sister Flores and I talked to waay back in July when I was here before. We got his info, but never had a chance to go and contact him. We would always see him delivering soft drinks in his tricycle around town, and he was always so friendly to us. Well, sis Gregory and I saw him again this past week and finally set an appt to go and visit him with the YM president. Bro Rick opened up to us on the first lesson and told us how his wife left him and how his mom died and his dad is in bad health. He is truly an honest seeker of truth looking for a way to find peace again in his life. To make a long story short, he is progressing so much after only a week and a half, came to church yesterday and really wants to be baptized!! I am so sure that he is one of the reasons I came back to Villasis and it really strengthens my testimony that the elect will always be led to us or we will be led to them! :)

We also had a lot of success with less-actives this week. Something I've learned from Sis Gregory is the importance of just loving people. One of the greatest blessings of being a missionary is just feeling so much love, even to people whose hearts are not yet open to receive the message. :) Sis Sarte always used to say that there is no hard bread in hot chocolate and the same thing is true. How can people's hearts be hard when you are constantly telling them how much you and Heavenly Father care about them? We had a great lesson on Saturday with Bro Roger, a long time LA with an endowed wife and son sealed in the temple. We built him up and told him how much he is needed in church and how much the ward could use someone with as much knowledge as he has. and lo and behold,  yesterday Bro Roger showed up to church yesterday in his nicest blue jeans and a sharp blue polo with his wife and son! :)
I also learned that this week as we taught Sis Baby and Sis Adelina, two die-hard Catholics who are living with an active member. They really wanted nothing to do with us until sis G and I just kept telling them that we love them and hugging them and letting them know how much God loves them. They still have not come to church, but at least they know that we truly care about them and maybe will be ready for the next set of missionaries that come through! :)

Something I've also been learning about a lot this week is how to help investigators and recent converts with repentance and addiction recovery. It's amazing to see the truly penitent coming unto Christ, giving up their cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, and gambling and becoming clean through the Atonement of Christ. These brothers that we are working with have the Light of Christ and I can see that light growing as they repent and turn their backs on these harmful substances. I always tell them, "Hindi mahalaga sa Diyos kung ilan beses po tayo nadapa, mahalaga sa Kanya kung ilang beses po tayo bumanggon and magpatuloy!" It doesn't matter to God how many times we trip, as long as we get up and continue to be better each and every day :) That's all for this week! :)

I love you!
Sister Gustafson :)

In Manaoag with the 4 Manaoag Sisters

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A few things I've learned...

Christmas Eve in Villasis
Christmas dinner of alfedo and broccoli

We had a great Christmas. Something I've learned from two Christmases on the other side of the world from my family is that Christmas (and my mission) is not about me- it's about Christ. Sister Gregory and I spent a wonderful sunny Christmas morning reading the testimony of the prophet and his apostles in the Living Christ. I was overwhelmed by the Spirit and He testified to me that Jesus is the Christ and truly did and does live. I know that He is our Savior, He sacrificed for me, and He continues to bless and strengthen me daily. I am so happy this Christmas because it's not about me and what I want- it's about Him and his work. I love it and I am so blessed!

Have a wonderful day!

Sister Gustafson :)

Reunited with Sister Mau, Brother Rabara and recently baptized, Sister Rovelia.
A wonderful reunion with Sister Lapura

The Philippines Urdaneta Missionaries have created another "My Three Words" video for 2014. The video lasts about 30 minutes. If you'd like to see Sister Gustafson skip to 14:55. You can watch it HEREI love the light I see in their faces!