Can't even explain the happiness I felt . . .

      Happy Easter!  Yes it's quite the celebration of Holy week here in the Philippines.  Dad, you're right; they do crucify real people here, and it's all over the news.  I saw it last year when I was traveling to the mission home, and there was a TV in the front of the bus.  But this year I had a new tradition that was introduced to me.  It's called "Pabasa".  All of our catholic friends set up their graven images and have a shrine looking thing, and they all sit around and read from the scriptures and religious text.  But when I say read, I actually mean they sing whatever they are reading.  This was done EVERYWHERE!  It surprised me because I didn't see that at all in Palawan, but it is a big deal here.  One night in our condominium complex in the parking garage they had it all set up, and they were SO loud.  It was like a concert going on all night and all morning.  Poor Sister Tuia couldn't even sleep, but as you all know I can sleep through just about anything so it didn't bother me.  Then as you can guess, it was a little hard to concentrate during personal and companion study as well.  They had a guitar and all.  So yeah gotta love it.      
     But the Makati zone did a neat thing for holy week.  We got all the missionaries and put together a program called "the Life of Christ," had clips from the new Bible movies, then had different musical numbers, and quoted verses from the Book of Mormon.  Wednesday night we had it in Makati as a tri-ward activity and then Saturday did it again in Mandaluyong with our three Mandaluyong wards.  There were also investigators that showed up, and it was really neat. It was a great way to feel the spirit of Easter and all that our Savior Jesus Christ has done for us.  
     There are also a bunch of traditions I learned about with the Catholic church where you can't eat meat Thursday through Saturday and on Friday you're not allowed to shower and a bunch of different things.  So that was kind of fun getting exposed to a new culture of how to celebrate Easter.  But the very most exciting part of my Easter weekend was.... MELODY was BAPTIZED!!!  YAY!!!  It was such a great day!  Melody has been so prepared and was so excited for her special day.  As she bore her testimony, she shared about how her life has changed SO much since she started going to church and listening to the missionary lessons. She talked about how before she never read the bible or any kind of scriptures (now she's in Enos).  She said she would only pray if she had a big problem come up and just a lot more, but she got emotional and said that she's so excited for this new start in her life. I'm just so excited for her.  Yesterday she came out and worked with us all day, and as she was sharing to our investigators and less active members, you would have never known she was just baptized the day before.  Her sister that is living in Las Vegas is also starting to go to church at the LDS church and will soon be listening to the missionaries!:)  SO exciting!!  Melody also has talked about how she really wants to serve a mission in a year.  

     Ahhh I can't even explain the happiness I felt Saturday, watching her enter the waters of baptism and see her come out completely clean!  Tears came to my eyes and also the thought of that being my last baptism as a full-time missionary was really hard.  But I'm also so grateful that Heavenly Father led Sister Tuia and I to sweet Melody.  It's been such a great opportunity to teach her and help her grow closer to Jesus Christ.  
     I also got a letter this last week from Jennalyn, and it was just the sweetest letter and made me so happy.  It's been such a great week!  We also experienced a little miracle yesterday in our work.  We had been struggling to find new investigators for the week and were far from meeting our goal that we had set. Out of nowhere 14 new investigators were just placed in our path.  It was a large family and their neighbors all just sitting outside and waiting to hear from us.  It was such a blessing.  We sat and taught them along with all these little kids bunched all around, and then when we closed the lesson, they all broke out in a round of applause.  hahaha It totally threw me off guard and I didn't really know what to do but I thought it was way funny. Then after one of the sisters prayed, they all started clapping again.  They were super nice, and I don't know if all of them were interested, but there were definitely some!  I'm excited to go back to them next Sunday   
     So yeah that's about all I have for y'all!  Ahhh, can you believe this could be it? I'm not sure about next week because I know Monday early in the morning I'm going to the Buendia chapel with all my luggage for a workshop and then to the mission home.  So that's why I'm guessing we won't be e-mailing.  Ahhh, time flies!  But I do want to thank each of you SO much for the love and support that you have given me each and every day here on my mission.  I couldn't ask for a better family!!:)  You all are great, and I'll just have to share more with ya when I get back!  Oh, Mom, I was thinking this morning, could you set up a hair appointment with Annette ASAP when I get back? Thanks:)  
     This work is amazing, and I've been incredibly blessed these past 18 months.  I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping me get here and to my Savior Jesus Christ and all I've learned about him as I've been serving him.  This gospel changes lives and brings everlasting happiness!  Well that's all I've got for today!  Love ya!:)  

Mahal na mahal ko kayo lahat!
Sister Stromberg

P.S. So last night this cute nanay from Mandaluyong 1st ward wanted to have a farewell party for me.  She's so funny because I'm not even in their ward, but she always calls me her "anak" which is child.  She says that she's my mom here in Manda and told me I had to show her picture to you, Mom:)  haha.  She makes me laugh.  She also really wants me to marry her son, but that's another story.  She's such a sweetheart and made dinner for us last night.  





Just how much I love these filipinos!

Happy Easter or better known as Happy Holy Week here in the Philippines!

     Thank you all for your e-mails. It was fun hearing from Bets and Nicole:) Now it's Bethany's turn for the last week next week:) Can you believe that? I'm pretty sure I won't be e-mailing my last Monday so that means just one more e-mail.
     It's been SUCH a great weeK! So I first just have to tell you about cute ol' Sister Cortez. Yesterday when we went out to work, our oldest Sister in our ward who just happens to be 79 years old told us that she was going to work with us. Of course we were thrilled, and little did we know she worked with us all day long! It didn't matter that we were walking around in the middle of summer with sweat dripping from our face; she worked the whole day. Then when she was bearing her testimony, she told one member that she had been in the Relief Society for YEARS and then just last year got released from her calling. Well when she didn't have her calling anymore, she said that she had been praying to know what the Lord wanted for her to do to help in the church, and she received her answer that she needed to work with the missionaries. Talk about faith:) And she just was so cute and just made the Relief Society sisters that we visited feel so loved, and it was such a good day. That's just one example of why I love these Filipino people SO much!
     But also this week has been such a good week with Melody. Thank you for all of your prayers. I'm so proud of her and so excited. She had an interview with Elder Tenny, our zone leader, on Tuesday and then another interview with Pres. Stucki Saturday. It's hard to explain all that has happened with her because some is more confidential, but lately I've been reading in Alma; he describes a lot of what happened and what I've been feeling. Alma 29:9-10 says it pretty well. It's just been really neat to see the power of repentance in her life and like it says in verse 10, "yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me." It just has reminded me of the effect that repentance and the atonement has had in my life, and the happiness that comes from forgiveness. Then I can't even explain the joy that it brings me to know that now that Melody knows and is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she is having the same experiences for herself. She's SO excited for her baptism. She also wants to work with us this week. President asked her if she wanted to serve a mission, and she said she'd love to, but her first mission after she gets baptized is to teach her family. She's just awesome. Oh and I forgot to say that yes she passed both interviews and the baptism will be this Saturday.
     Our baptism this last Saturday went really well. President Stucki and Sister Stucki attended our baptism, and that was fun to have them there. Little Macmac did such a good job. At first he wasn't going to bear his testimony (he's 11), but we helped him feel comfortable and he did SUCH a good job. Our ward mission leader turned and asked us how old he was, and when we told him, he was shocked. He said that he is so mature for his age. He even started crying as he was sharing. He talked about how he was taught by the missionaries when he was younger . Then when he moved back to his province, he was SO sad because there were no missionaries in their town and no church. Then when he came back to live with his grandparents, he was so excited. He talked about the love he feels in the church when he comes to church and from the members, and it was just really neat. He's totally going to be a missionary when he gets older. One day I was talking to him and asked him where he wanted to serve his mission, and he told me in a place where the people don't believe in God!:) Isn't that so sweet?!? He's lookin' for a challenge! So it's been just a great week and we have another great one ahead of us.

     I'm excited because Holy Week is a big deal for Filipinos, so it will be a great chance to really focus on Jesus Christ. All the missionaries in Makati zone are actually doing a program Wednesday and Saturday night with video clips and musical presentations all about the life of Jesus Christ. So it will be really neat! Well I hope that you all also enjoy this week ahead of us as we ponder on all that Jesus Christ has done for each and every one of us. We're so lucky to know his gospel and have that happiness and love in our lives.
     I love you all so much, and one of you mentioned that I probably wasn't excited to come home, but you were. I'm very excited to see my family!:) But it will also be really hard to leave my family here in the Philippines. I know y'all understand. Have a great week!:)

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Stromberg
P.S. Ah I almost forget a memorable moment that happened this last week..... yeah i've been asked this a few times from y'all, but I finally ate... BALOT!!! And, man, it looks SOOO gross! but the taste actually isn't too bad. It kind of just tastes like a hard boiled egg. So yeah I hope these pictures don't gross you out too much, but it was worse in real life. I have videos you'll have to see in a couple weeks. Oh Filipinos!! Our counselor in our bishopric invited us over for dinner, and he bought them and said I had to eat it before I went home. So yeah I never thought I'd eat it, but once again... that's just how much I love these Filipinos!


Never Seen Anything Like That in America

Happy Spring!!!

     For you it's spring, but here we're right in the middle of the HOTTEST part of summer! So yeah I get to sweat to death right before I come home. Philippines is just great!
     So anywho, it was good hearing from each of you. This week sister Tuia and I have been very busy getting our investigators ready for baptism. Macmac is ready to go for this Saturday. We've been working a lot with Melody to get her ready. We've had some of the most spiritual lessons with her. I just love this girl. She's 21 and here in Mandaluyong working at a member’s house. Even the first lesson we taught she was in tears talking about her family. This last week she was in tears again talking about past sins, and she is just SO excited for her baptism and to feel the cleansing power that comes from our Savior. As we've been teaching her about different commandments, I've just seen her sincere desire to repent and through repentance have seen her come closer to Jesus Christ. It's been such a blessing to be teaching her this amazing gospel. She will be interviewed this Thursday by President Stucki, so please keep her in your prayers. But I'm not even worried because she is just as they say one of "God's elect." I'm so excited for Melody!
     She always talks about how she can't wait to go home and visit her family in May and bring them copies of the Book of Mormon and all of the pamphlets and share her testimony with them. They live way out in the bundoks! (That is the Tagalog word for mountain, but it’s funny because we use that word all the time in English, right?) But yeah she said they are far away from the church and the missionaries wouldn't be going out that far. But she also has a sister who is living in Las Vegas that we are going to get the missionaries over there! That is also really exciting because Saturday night she was telling me that in a year or two she will also be moving to the states!! I was so excited to hear that!!! So yeah it's just been such a good week for Melody. She's taken some big steps, and I'm so excited for her. I was reading the baptismal qualifications last week in D&C 20:37, and the scripture totally describes Melody. She has humbled herself and come forth with a contrite heart and broken spirit. She has the strongest desire to be baptized, more than probably all of my past investigators. It's just been really neat teaching her. I can't really explain:)  The family that she lives with are so awesome and have been a huge part in her conversion! We're actually doing a family home evening with them tonight!
      Also this week, as I told you, Kevin left for the MTC. Thank you, Mom for taking care of that for him. I also gave him something for Sister Foster, so hopefully that all works out. We did a little send off party for him, and I was asked to give a testimony at his party.
     Then on Saturday it was the Relief Society Anniversary. And, man, Filipinos really know how to do an anniversary. I don't even remember what they do in the states.  But yeah they had a "Woman of Asia" night where each ward was assigned a country from Asia and did a dance and made food from the country, and it was pretty intense. They went all out and practiced their dances like every night. They also go all out with costumes. I have some videos I'll have to show ya when I get home. One of the wards in Makati is actually a foreigner ward (Surprisingly there are a LOT of foreigners in Makati.). One of the Americans turned to me after and said, “You've never seen anything like that in America; have you?” It's true; they go all out! We weren’t sure if we were going to go actually because we were just going to go if we had investigators to go with us. Well our investigators bailed last minute. So we were close to bishop’s house, and we just stopped by. They were cooking the food and needed a lot of help. So we ended up cooking Korean food for them while they took off for the stake center. Then we had to bring the food over there. So yeah that's how we ended up at this activity. But it was a lot of fun.  

    Those were the highlights of this week. So yeah things are still going great here in Manda. We have another sister in our ward who should be getting her call anytime now. Exciting:) Well thanks so much for your love and support. I sure look forward to reading your e-mails each week. You all are so great! Take care!

Mahal ko kayo,Sister Stomberg



Hello po!
     Mom, that's funny that you would mention that stake spitting because that was my stake. And I told you all about it my last week in Noveleta. The week before I left, we had a stake conference where they split our stake into two. President Astilla used to be my stake president, and then he moved to the Bacoor stake. That was my last zone that I was in, so yes I'm very familiar with all of that. haha.
     Nicole, I'm very sorry to hear about your grandpa. I hope you and your family are doing alright. I'll for sure keep you all in my prayers.
     So yes with Brother Ed... he's still progressing little by little, but man he's a toughy. I've never prayed and fasted so much for one person! Mom, you're right when you said that it's not us that are the teachers; it needs to come from the spirit. And we're working so hard to bring that spirit into his life. This last Saturday we had a FHE at the church for all of the ward missionaries and the full time missionaries, and they all wanted us to invite Brother Ed. So we did, and he came:) So it was a bunch of YSA, and then an old man at our FHE. But he quite enjoyed it. He couldn't stop laughing and taking pictures when we were playing the games. But then, sad to say, he said he had a meeting on Sunday and couldn't make it to church. So hopefully next week.
     Macmac had his interview yesterday for baptism and passed so that will be happening on the 23rd of this month, two weeks away because this Saturday we have a big Relief Society anniversary activity so we had to put it off a week.
     Then we're working really hard with Melody and Donato to get them ready for baptism on the 30th of this month. Melody is ready; she just needs to keep coming to church. Donato is actually Bishop's nephew that we've been teaching, and he's SO smart. He is protestant and knows a lot. He just wants to be sure this is the true church before he's baptized. Last week though when we were following up with him, he said that he felt the spirit when he was reading the Book of Mormon so we're really close now:) So yeah we have our hands full right now trying to prepare for the baptisms.
     Bishop's son, Kevin, is also leaving this Friday to go to the MTC. That's pretty crazy how fast that went, but he's going to be an awesome missionary. I'm going to miss him working with us. He's the one that will be in the batch with Sister Foster when they arrive in Angeles! I gave him a little something to give to Brynn:)
     Hmmmm.... I think that's about all the updates that I have for you. This work is great! Time is so weird here in the mission! I can't believe how fast it's been, but then I see pictures of Cam and I think, “Wow, it's been a long time”:) haha.
                Cam's first birthday!
Have a great week! I love you all so much!
Mahal Ko kayo,
Sister Stromberg



     Man, this week was great! We worked really hard, and then we got to see the fruits of our labor when Sunday rolled around. Yesterday at church we ended up with 12 investigators at church, and we were just thrilled!!
     And probably the most exciting news was Brother Ed came to church!! I don't remember if I told you about Brother Ed, but the area presidency has been telling the missionaries that we should focus on finding leaders. Focus on the wise and learned. Find those who can get themselves to church, which that is a lot harder than it sounds. Most of our area is what they call "squatters" which are the really, really poor. But the areas where you can find other investigators, they are never at their house or they have maids that will open the door and don't want anything to do with missionaries. But anyway we received this referral for Brother Ed, and he is exactly that--SO smart! He knows so much, and we've been working with him for two months now. And he FINALLY came to church!! And this last week we had a really good lesson with him where he finally understood the importance of the Holy Ghost in conversion (even though we've been teaching that from the very start). He said that before he thought that he had to study all of the religions to be able to find which one was true, but he realized that it can come from the feeling that the Holy Ghost gives him. So now we're just praying and praying and praying that he feels the Holy Ghost. He looked really happy at church, so I'm really excited to follow up with him on Wednesday.
     We also found a new family of less actives that has a lot of potential if we can help re-activate them. Sister came to church yesterday for the first time, so now we just have to work with her husband get him to join her next week. The work is just really moving forward here and that's all thanks to the great members here. Missionary work goes SO much smoother when everyone is involved. We have been getting a lot of great referrals for investigators and less actives as well. I'm just so grateful for our members right now.
     Oh some exciting news... Sister Culango e-mailed me and was happy to inform me that they finally got her brother back, and he is now recovering in the hospital. She also said to tell you thanks so much for your prayers.
     We got two more sisters here in Mandaluyong this week to open up a new area and get ready for a new ward that will be made in the next couple of months. The church is just growing and growing! Love it!!
     And yeah I think that's about all. Thanks for the cute pictures of Cam! Man, I can't believe he is already one and how big he is now! I can't wait to meet the cute little guy!:) Well I love you all so much. Thanks for your love and support! Y'all are great! Have a wonderful week.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Stromberg


I don't like it :(

Hello Family!
     Wow, I can't believe you have SOOoo much snow! As I looked at those pictures, I don't even remember what it feels like to be that cold. Let's hope that it warms up a bit before April. Oh, good ol' Cache Valley:)
     So first before I forget... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Bethany!!!! Sorry, I haven't found any spare minutes to write you a card like last year, but I love you a lot and hope you have such a great day! Same to my cute nephew CAM!!! Man, that blows my mind he's turning one! Ahhhh those pictures of Cam and Aiden were SOOOoo adorable! Man , I have the cutest pamangking ever!!    
     So yeah this week, to tell you the truth, I was thinking about it this morning, and it wasn't too eventful. We just worked, worked, worked. Our investigator, Macmac, who is 11 is getting close to his baptism. He lives with his grandma and grandpa who are members, and he is SO smart for an 11 year old. Because he's living with them, we have permission that he can be baptized, and he's SO ready. He reads every day, even in D&C. He's been taught by other missionaries before and remembers most of it. He was so cute this last week; he gave us roses for Valentine's Day. He was the only one to give us a gift. So yeah he will probably be baptized the 3rd week in March.
     We also just started teaching Melody, a nanny for a member, who is SO prepared! Our first lesson she opened up and said that she was so interested in learning. She told us her whole life she's never even held a Bible or really prayed. At the end of the lesson we were able to give her a baptismal date of March 30 which she happily accepted. Then when we went back for the second lesson, she explained that she was nervous to ask her parents for permission to change religions since she's only 21 because a few years ago her older sister wanted to, and they didn't allow it. But she said that she prayed, and when she called them, they said it was up to her, whatever made her happy. She said she was so surprised, and she knows that it was because of her prayers. She's so awesome!
     Then this weekend we ended up having a CSP for a member who is a dentist. She just moved offices so we cleaned out her old office for her. That's about all that comes to my mind this week. Sorry this is probably a boring e-mail.
     Sister Tuia is doing great. You say her name “tuya.” This Wednesday we are finishing up our first transfer together which I know you're not surprised to hear that it went by so fast! Just like every other one. And it will be no surprise that this next one will fly by. I don't like it:( Although I'm so excited to see each and every one of you . . . well you know how it is. As I work through where I’m going to live spring and fall semesters, man, I don't even want to think of this all, but it's going to come up right after I go home so it's have to get it taken care of.
      Oh you mentioned the new missions that are opening up!! Isn't that so exciting??!!! Yeah they told our mission before it was announced in church news. My first area, Carmona and then Novaleta as well will be in the Cavite mission. Our mission will be splitting which is so crazy! So exciting as well! This transfer day we're getting two new missionaries here in Mandaluyong, and they’re making a Manda 4th ward. They're opening up like seven new areas this transfer, I think I heard. It's so awesome!
     Well have a great week, and give little Cam a big hug and kiss for his birthday from his aunt that's far, far away. Love you all so much.

Mahal ko kayo,
Sister Stromberg



Happy Valentine's Day!!
     Ahhh, I just received an e-mail from the office about my travel itinerary! Time is going by WAY too fast! This last week we had our zone conference, and always at the end they have the missionaries who are going home bear their testimonies. Well, guess whose name was on the program under the Going Home Missionaries . . . yep, Sister Stromberg. I couldn't believe it. After the conference Sister Stucki came up and also commented about how fast it has gone, and she was in shock that I was one of the Going Home Missionaries. Crazy!
     We had a great conference but actually got chastised quite a bit from President . . . in a loving way. This last January the work in the whole mission was the lowest it's been in years. So we were given a lot of new instruction on what we need to be focusing on and what we need to improve. So hopefully we can implement that as a mission this month and in the months to come.
     This week once again we were led by the Lord to those waiting for the gospel. Last week we were led to investigators, but this week we were led right to some of our less actives. The first instance we were just standing waiting for two of our ward missionaries to meet us, and a brother, Elvin, walked right up to us; said, "Sister!"; and shook our hands, "I'm a member." Then he went on to tell us he had moved here and was now working here and happened to live in our area and wanted to know where our church was and what time. Then he went on to tell us how his brother was an RM and how he used to go and work with the missionaries and such. He's 27 now. We talked for a minute, and then he had to run to get to work on time. Then Sunday, what do ya know? He came to church!:)
     Then that same night we went to try and contact a referral that the elders gave to us, and it was at a condo. The guard went upstairs to check if Maria was there at her condo, and while we were waiting, Sister Tuia and I were just talking in Tagalog when a lady rushed right past us. When she heard that we were talking in Tagalog, she whipped around and asked if there was someone there that we were visiting. Then we started talking to her and found out that she was a member as well. She took us up to her condo, and her 21 year old son was also there (future missionary!). She was really excited about us being there, and they are super nice. We shared with them, and then, sure enough, they too came to church yesterday! The neat thing about that story is earlier that day Sister Tuia and I were having our weekly planning session, and we talked about how we need to stop speaking English to each other and speak more Tagalog and what do ya know? Because we were speaking Tagalog, this lady realized we were missionaries, and it caught her attention so we could talk and share the gospel with her. So yeah that was such a neat day, and we felt so blessed that the Lord placed us in the right places that day to meet those who really needed the missionaries.
     Mom, to answer your question: as far as Valentine's Day goes, it was just like every other day, except everyone on the streets were sure to greet us as we walked by with a "Happy Valentine's Day!" Then we did have a great dinner with the Kiemel family. I don't know if I told you about them, but it's an American husband and Filipino wife. They have the CUTEST kids! And they made us homemade pizza and apple pie!:) So that was great to have a good ol' American dinner!

 Cristina, Mom & Dad's new Facebook friend, 
with the peace sign and the hand on her hip

     Hmmm . . . that's about all I have for you today. I was worried a little this last week. Cristina one day told me that she was looking at pictures from Mom's Facebook and saw the two twins. She then asked me who they were. I was so confused, and for a minute thought, “ . . . oh, man, they better not have pulled a "Jasen" on me. I know you know what that means:) haha I was a little worried Kip and Nicole had new baby twins for a minute, haha, but then I told her to look again and tell me their names. She told me they were Cameron and Aiden. To Filipinos all Americans look the same, at least that’s what they always say. So yeah I was worried for a minute, haha.
Aiden & Cameron were opening their presents from Grandma Pat 
 They looked so cute in their little hoodies
 . . . that everyone exclaimed, "Awwww!"
. . . and it scared Aiden.
     But yeah, everything's going great here. We have so much work to do and not enough time. That's been the story of my whole mission up to this point. It's a good thing they're sending more missionaries out because we sure can use more!!
     Well I love you all and hope you have a great week. Love you all so much!

Sister Stromberg