12.28.2011

CHRISTMAS PHONE CALL

Hello family:)
     It was really good to talk to you earlier, but I agree our Christmas phone call went by way too fast! I knew it would though.  40 minutes is not a lot of time! But it was still good chatting for a little bit.
     So now to tell you a little more about my week because I didn't get to tell you much on the phone:  we had our branch Christmas party on Wednesday, and that was a lot of fun! We tried to get our investigators to come so they could meet the ward, but only one ended up coming. It was Helen who we have been teaching, and she has a baptismal date. We went and picked her up and went with her to the party. She has the CUTEST little four year old boy! I'll attach a picture of him, but he is my favorite. During the Christmas party, he kept coming up to me and holding my hand and wanting me to play with him. It was nice because he was like my Gabe away from home:) haha, even though sometimes I didn't know what he was telling me.
"Gabe-away-from-home"
     Then on Friday we had another temple tour. This time it was for the city missionaries, and the sisters in the provinces did the teaching. So Sister Culango and I taught about eternal marriage, and I used a picture from Kip and Nicole’s wedding with all of us in front of the temple and showed it to everyone while talking about the temple. SO Kip and Nicole, you are famous here in the Philippines:)
     Christmas Eve, like I said, we just taught and ended up having five dinner appointments. It was rough! haha. It was funny because we were waiting for one dinner appointment that we scheduled a long time ago, and they were late so we went to their next door neighbor who the daughter is less active and shared a message with her while we were waiting, and her mom gave us both a big plate of spaghetti. As I said, the spaghetti here is really sweet, and I don't really like it. So we both are looking at each other like “What are we going to do?” Then the Cosile family got home and came and told us that they're home and ready, so we just took the spaghetti with us to their house and gave it to the other sisters so we could eat the Cosile's food. So we got out of eating that:) Then the last appointment was with the Relief Society president who I really like, and she really likes me but apparently thinks that I eat a lot :) haha which I probably do. But she comes out and hands me my plate, and it's bigger then everyone else’s and says it's just for you Sister Stromberg. haha Then when I couldn't eat very much, she gave me the business and told me I needed to eat more so I tried, but man it was rough. So yeah, that was Christmas Eve.
New T-shirt from Sister Culango
     Then on Christmas we went to church, and our gift to us is we finally had two investigators come to church. These investigators are kind of a funny story how we found them. We were at Jollybee on p-day Monday (It's a big fast food chain here.), and this mom comes up with her like 10 year old son and asks if she can take a picture with us and her son (of course, because Sister Duncan and I are American). Then we talked to them and found out they lived in our area and got their address and went and taught them. The mom and daughter, Raon who is 20, both seem pretty interested. The dad is crazy though! haha He loved talking to me and talked my ear off. Ha He told me how to make about every kind of Filipino food there is. Then he wanted me to tell him stories from Utah and tell him about the Indians in Utah (You think I know stories about Indians in Utah? . . . haha nope).  It was really funny.  They are strong Christians. I don't think the dad is interested, but he loves talking to me.  They always feed us when we go there. So it was fun to see them at church. Then we taught a few lessons and then went to the Spencers’. So yeah that was my Christmas. It was actually a really good Christmas; other than, of course, I missed my family.
Christmas at the Spencers', a senior couple in Manila
     But it was really good talking with you today. Christmas Eve and Christmas day when we taught, we shared The Living Christ with a lot of our investigators and RCLA's.  It was really neat reading that and then testifying about Christ to everyone at Christmas time. It was neat sharing The Living Christ with those who have never heard of it. If you haven't read it lately, you should because it is so good!
      Hope you all had a great Christmas! Happy New Year!  Love you all so much!
Mahal Ko Kayo!!
Sister Stromberg

12.19.2011

Maligayan Pasko!!

Maligayan Pasko!! (Merry Christmas)
     So this week has definitely had its ups and downs. The past two days I have been sick, and it has been no fun:( It started Saturday afternoon after returning from the Temple tour, but I wanted to stick it out so we still taught that night but just returned home a little early. I just have a really nasty cough. When I cough, it gives me a bad headache, and my whole body was just achy and didn't have any energy. So I went to bed early on Saturday to try and get better, but I had to go to church because guess who was speaking in church . . . yes, me! The ward mission leader, Zaldy, who works with us quite often was supposed to tell me at the first of the week but forgot and told me Friday night. So I had only Sunday morning to prepare a little something. I talked about missionary work and our testimonies of Jesus Christ and how they relate seeing that it's Christmas time. I talked about how we need to share our testimonies with others whether it be by our example or just testifying to them. So yeah that went okay, but I still wasn't feeling good so after church we went home, and I rested all day to try and get over it. Sister Culango said I might have gotten sick because it went from being really hot Saturday to really rainy and cold (I didn't think it was cold, but she said it was). I don't know. I still have a pretty bad cough, but hopefully it'll get better. Sister Culango is a nurse and made me drink ginger... it was gross:( but hopefully it helps.
  
     On Wednesday was our mission Christmas party, and that was a lot of fun to finally get together with the whole mission. I think there are eight American sisters in our mission, and I'm the only blonde. So I very well could be the only blonde in all of Manila:) haha. And yes I am very tall. I feel like a giant sometimes! But we got together, and President and Sister Stucki spoke about ten gifts that we will be able to take home from our mission. Then we split up and exchanged gifts with a little game. I got a pineapple which I was really excited about:) Then we got back together for a catered meal that was delicious as always. They had a couple of pigs roasted that they just cut up right there for us that were really good. Then they had each zone do a talent all together and then one or two individual talents from each zone. Well guess who got chosen to do it from our zone? Yep, me! Probably because I'm the newbie, and they knew I'd say yes. So I played "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning" and said it was in honor of Joseph Smith's birthday on the 23rd of this month. Mostly because I didn't have any Christmas music, and I had to make something work. haha So yeah I played that for the whole mission. I met Sister Packard from California who went to BYU, and she looks so familiar to me. I don't know where; she said she worked at the testing center so maybe I just saw her there. I'm not sure. But she's super nice, and it was fun talking to her. Also there's an elder in my mission who I met his girlfriend in the MTC, and so I found him and talked to him about that. He was way excited, and that was pretty funny. It was just fun chatting with different missionaries.







     For the temple tour... it didn't turn out how we hoped:( That day was actually a big bummer. So we had six investigators who told us they were coming, and of them only one showed up. That was Mark who was getting baptized Saturday after the tour. Well Mark got on the bus, and we headed off when his aunt calls him and says there's an emergency and he needs to come home because his mom is in the hospital. So we go back and make sure he catches a tricycle and so at that point we have no investigators:( And also that means no baptism later for Mark either. It's just a bummer because Mark is so ready and has a strong testimony, but his baptism keeps getting delayed! So the temple tour was neat. It was fun finally seeing the temple, but it would have been so much better to have investigators there to feel of that spirit! We didn't do a session then because we had investigators with us, but we do get to do a session once a transfer:) We're going the week after Christmas, and I'm way excited for that!
 
 
   Then with our investigators, the three Archangel brothers have seemed to lose interest which is really weird. Sister Culango said that they used to come to church, and they were preparing for baptism. But since I have been here, they haven't been as diligent, and now when we go visit them, they are always "busy." I don't really see a desire in them to get baptized so that's a bummer. We have 3 investigators, Helen, France, and Lady Lace who all have a baptisimal date, and they seem pretty promising and have a desire to get baptized, but none of them came to church yesterday after they said they would be there. Sister Culango said it's probably because it was raining yesterday, and Filipinos are lazy. When there is rain, they won't go out of their house. Also it's hard for some to get to church because they don't have enough money to pay for a tricycle, and they have to walk a long ways. So if we can get these investigators to church, we should have no problem with the rest. But we shall see. Sister Pasco, my favorite investigator, was not home both times we went to visit her this last week so that was a bummer. This last week actually we got "punted" quite often! I learned that word this last week. I guess it's a missionary word they use when you go to a lesson and your investigator is either not there or too busy for you to teach them. And that happened to us a lot! Hopefully this week will be better.
     Oh, I don't know why this just popped into my head, but on a side note... there are ants EVERYWHERE here! Last night when I went to soak my whites so I can wash them today, ants are eating my garments! Just great, huh! If only they knew what they were eating, they'd think twice! Dang creatures! Oh and I had my first mango yesterday! It was really good but a little sour, and they said that's because they aren't in season. They are even better and more sweet in season! So I'm excited for that:) So as far as the flooding... there wasn't any flooding where I am, but there has been a lot of rain!
     Have fun at the Stromberg Christmas party! Tell everyone I say “Hi!”  Love you all so much! Being at the temple I can't help but think of my family and how lucky I am to have such a great family where we all are endowed and can be in the temple together!
Mahal Ko Kayo,
Sister Stromberg

12.12.2011

Fit right in, blonde hair and all!

Hello Family!
     This week went a lot better than last. Last week was a rough one with the culture shock and the whole life style adjustment and the language barrier and just everything. But now I feel like I've adjusted to everything, and the only struggle is the language, which I feel is improving little by little every day.
     Yesterday was our Regional Conference, and that was really neat. We got to hear from President Stucki and his wife and Elder Teh who is a Filipino member of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife. Also there was a youth choir that sang an arrangement of Joy to the World that was really, really neat. After the meeting I went and talked with Sister Teh, and she was so sweet. She's from the Philippines also, and she said that for only being here a week and a half I looked like I've already adjusted to the weather and everything. So that was nice of her. It was also really nice because they spoke in English:) haha all but Sister Teh and that was a nice break for me.

     This week we had a lot of dinner appointments with the members! And I stick by what I said last week that Filipino food is DELICIOUS! I still haven't eaten anything I don't like (knock on wood). Someone told me that you don't get fed very much, but we got fed four days this last week so it was great! It's also really nice because then you have an opportunity to really get to know the members. We had FHE last week with a couple that doesn't have kids yet, and they both served missions in the Philippines which was a lot of fun! We played games and all laughed together, and it was great. We have another FHE dinner appointment tonight. I don't know if I said we eat rice three times a day, but we don't:) haha. We don't have it for breakfast, but we always have it for lunch, and when the members feed us, we have it for dinner. Oh and I ate at Macdo's on Tuesday. haha That's what they call McDonalds here, and it was probably the first lunch I had without rice even though they sell plenty of rice there too.
     Also we have great youth in the branch here. I don't know if I mentioned this last week, but we have youth here that will come teach with us, and they are a lot of fun. It's fun when they come because then I get to know them personally, and then I have more people that I know from our branch. But the people here are SO nice and SO kind!
     When I said that they call me Brittney Spears, it wasn't in a demeaning way! haha Sorry I guess I didn't explain. Everyone talks about how beautiful I am, and when they said it, it was meant as a compliment. haha. But it's not me particularly, they think any American is beautiful. Brother Itri warned us before we left the MTC that you aren't as beautiful or handsome as the Filipinos will make you feel. haha and it's true! Ha and that’s also why they all just stare at me. It makes me feel really awkward, but at least it's not in a demeaning way. They are all very nice and compliment me and all smile and make comments to me. To be honest it's getting a little annoying, but it's just something I have to get used to I guess.
     So Mark is getting baptized this Saturday, and I'm so excited for him. He's 17, and he's ready. He has a testimony and a desire to keep learning and progressing and will be a good addition to our branch. Also on Saturday we are doing a temple tour for members and investigators. We take a bus there and have different stations where we teach about eternal marriage and baptisms for the dead and family history work and different things. It's mostly for investigators to get excited about going to the temple someday. Sister Culango said that it's really helpful, and she's had investigators that after they go to it, they are more committed and want to keep commitments so they can be baptized. So we'll see. I'm really excited for that and also to finally get to see the Manila Temple.
     On Thursday we have our mission Christmas party so that will be fun. Oh and I have to tell you about our new and my favorite investigator! Her name is Sister Pasko which Pasko in Tagalog means Christmas:) We found her last Tuesday working at a fruit stand, and we asked if we could teach her. And who taught her the whole first lesson... yeah that would be me:) But I definitely had a lot of help from the spirit, and if she had questions, Sister Culango helped clarify anything. And when she gave the closing prayer after we taught her, she said in it, “Please bless that the missionaries will return to teach me more” and that she really felt something as we taught her, she felt a burning. So yeah that was really really neat! And she was so happy and excited after we taught her, she gave us 2 papaya and 2 pineapples!! And let me tell you pineapples here are SOOO good! A lot better than in the US. So then we returned I think on Friday to teach, and she was busy washing her clothes and couldn't listen:( which was a bummer. It's so different from America because everyone is always washing clothes here, and that's the number one reason we can't teach people is they are too busy washing their clothes. It's kind of sad. But you could tell she felt really bad and wants us to come back. She said she started reading the Book of Mormon so we will see next time.
     Speaking of washing clothes yes I spent probably two hours earlier washing all my clothes, and now my knuckles are swolen and sore. You just need to be grateful the next time you put your clothes in a nice handy washing machine.
     We also have two investigators we taught last night, Prance and her friend Lady Lace (that's really her name), and they seem really interested. We taught the Plan of Salvation and especially Lace was asking us all these questions. We committed them to being baptized in January. They just have to go to church, and they'll be golden. We also have three boys we are teaching, the Archangel family, and they are close to baptism. We just have to talk to their parents for permission, and then we'll see. It will be interesting what their parents say because they are always partying at night, and there's beer everywhere. It's an interesting atmosphere. Then we found two more investigators this week and are teaching some others we're just not sure if they'll progress or not. We're teaching Hellen who wants to come to the Temple tour with her husband, and we're hoping that going there with her husband, she'll see the beautiful blessing this gospel can bring to families. So yeah teaching is coming along. I still don't understand everything, but I can understand more now than the first day. I still have a long way to go though.
     I've definitely felt the Holy Ghost with me when I'm teaching because when we practice teaching at home for comp study, it's choppy and hard, and then when I teach, it's more smooth, and I know that's through the gift of tongues. So, yes, life is good.
     Oh, Mom, funny story: I shared my rootbeer milk with Sister Culango, and she LOVES it. haha She wouldn't stop talking about it all day and said she hasn't had anything like that before. She kept saying oh have your Mom send me some;) haha It was quite funny. It was worth not drinking in the MTC so she could try it here!
Sister Culango & Sister Abunga
Gossner's Rootbeer Milk
A Big Hit in the Philippines!
     I'm already starting to see why I was sent here. In district conference Sister Teh was talking about the Filipino people and how they are always happy and can find joy in the littlest simplest things. They are so happy just to be with family and friends, and they are always laughing together. They live a simple life and enjoy what they have. I feel like those are some of the qualities I've been blessed with in my life, and I feel like I fit in well. I had one member this last week talk to me and my companion and said even though I can't speak very well or converse that well, she can see how happy I am to be here and excited and that all the members love that and want to get to know me because of that. She then talked about other missionaries who are more serious, and they are harder to get to know or gain a relationship with. So I already feel that I'm meant to be with these humble people and know that once I can speak Tagalog, I will just fit right in:) (blonde hair and all). haha.
Mahal Kita,
Sister Stromberg

12.07.2011

NOSE BLEED!!

     Hello!! So yes believe it or not I am finally in the Philippines! I thought this day would never come! My last few days at the MTC were really good ones. I'm so grateful for my experiences there and all the friends I made. Weirdly enough I miss it a little. Probably because I could communicate with everyone there.
     But anyways . . . sorry Kip, Nicole, Ryan and Betsy I didn't get to talk to you!:( I was way bummed because I was looking forward to chatting with yall. But now days there just aren't enough payphones because everyone uses cell phones. And we traveled with like 30 or more missionaries.
     So we got into Manila at about 8 at night Wednesday where the AP's and President Stucki and his wife were there to pick us up. Sister Stucki told me that she lived her whole life in Preston and is very familiar with Cache Valley. She also said her twin sister lives in St. George so maybe the Smith's know her. They are both really nice. We got to the mission home, and I ate my first Filipino meal. And yes, it's true that Filipinos eat rice at every meal! They have a lot of rice and then just something different to go on top of it. Usually some kind of meat and a lot of vegetables and different spices and sauce, and man it's MASARAP!! (delicious!) I also tried their bananas here, and they are better than in the US! I don't love them, but they're pretty good (considering I didn't like bananas in the US). I had a short interview with the President and then went to bed.
     In the morning we did something really neat. They took all the new missionaries (6 from the MTC in Provo and 2 from the MTC in Manila) to the American Military Memorial. It was really pretty. It was where President Hinckley gave his dedicatory address to open up missionary work in the Philippines. So as we are all sitting there in this beautiful memorial, one of the AP's read us President Hinckley's address and also his dedicatory prayer. It was really powerful and got me really excited to be there and take part in the missionary work that President Hinckley talked about! Also there was wall after wall after wall of names of soldiers who died, but they couldn't find their bodies. There was a "Vernon Stromberg." Do you know if that's from our family? Yeah so that's how I started my mission in the Philippines, and that's how we will end it President Stucki said. A neat tradition!:)
     Later we went back to the mission home, and they announced who our trainer would be. For a while there were three sisters there (all Filipino), and then right before they announced the companions, two left... so it wasn't hard for me to guess who my companion would be:), since I was the only sister that was new. Her name is Sister Culango, and she is from Davao. She is such a sweetheart. Lucky for me she does know English as well as Tagalog, Cebuano, and Arabic. But I have already realized why she is my companion, and I am lucky to have her. I've been really stressed about the language here. I feel like I know a lot, but everyone here speaks so fast that I just don't understand a lot. I can get some out of it but not a lot. It's hard because I want to build relationships with the members, and I want to teach the investigators I have, but I don't have the ability to do that yet, and it's just really hard for me. Well at times when I feel most discouraged Sister Culango is a big goof and will just make me laugh. She has a great sense of humor and that has saved me from breaking down... yet. She loves to play jokes on me. One night we were walking, and I was telling her how I was directionally challenged and how I would be so lost right now because the streets are crazy here with no order and lots and lots of houses everywhere. And because I told her that she says, “Oh, around the corner is Prance's house (who is our investigator), and you need to share a scripture with her.” And I don't really believe her, but she goes on to convince me, and so I start to worry about what I can share and am freaking out a little. Then when we turn the corner to where "Prance's house" is, we are to the neighborhood where we live! ha So yeah she likes to kid! Also when we see worms on the ground and big bugs, she talks about how she will cook them for me, and it's really good medicine! She's crazy! But I really already love her and love her sense of humor. It keeps me sane when I'm always worrying about speaking Tagalog.
     In our apartment we also live with Sister Abunga from Cebu and Sister Duncan from California. So at home they all speak Tagalog (Sister Duncan has been here for 9 months.), and that's another reason it's hard because even when I am home they all speak Tagalog. They laugh and have a great time, and I just look at them like "what is going on!" But they are all so nice, and Sister Duncan is very helpful when I have language questions because she's been there before. Sister Abunga is a great cook and cooks us all lunch each day, and it's always delicious Filipino food! She even cooked Chicken Adobo for us one day, and it was SO good! I told her that she needs to teach me so I can cook it for my family when I come home!
     As far as our apartment, Sister Stucki said it's one of the nicest in the mission. So with that being said, we are lucky to have a shower (even though, yes, it is only cold), but actually after I get past the part where I can't breathe, it feels really nice to shower in cold water because it's the only time in the day I'm not hot and sweaty. Today after we go grocery shopping, Sister Culango gets to teach me how they hand wash all of their clothes so I can do my laundry. They said it takes 2-3 hours. Oh and I bought some milk... it doesn't taste the same:) haha but it's okay.
     And yes, Nicole, it is ALWAYS hot! Mostly because of the humidity! It has also rained a few days here so I've already been able to experience that. But it is BEAUTIFUL here! There are just palm trees everywhere, and it's green and tropical and very pretty.
     So now to talk about my investigators... Ryan, you talked about how I would soon be able to experience a baptism... well I actually already had my first one Saturday. His name is Jayar, and I only helped teach him once before his baptism. So yeah he wasn't my investigator, but I got to help a little. He's 12 years old, and it was neat seeing him enter the waters of baptism. We also were supposed to have a baptism of Mark Wanason on Saturday, but he didn't come to church yesterday so we have to postpone it for a week.
     We actually have a lot of investigators. We have Stella who we just taught the restoration. We have Prance who we taught last night, and I gave the first vision to her and extended the baptism invitation to her. She also had four friends come over so that was neat because her friend Lace seemed really interested, and it's neat because if they progress, I'll get to see it from the start. They're my first investigators from the beginning. Then we have Jesse whose wife is a member. We have the Archangel family who we teach the three sons, and they seem interested. Then we have some other family, I can't remember their name right now, and it's there whole family so that would be neat if they all stay interested. Then I'm sure we have more, I just can't remember.
     Yesterday was my first day at church. It was fun meeting all the members even though most of the time I couldn't understand what they were saying. My zone is called San Gabriel (ironic, huh?), and my area is Carmona B. The branch is the Carmona Branch:) And, of course, because it was Fast Sunday, the branch president called me up to be the first to bear my testimony. I was already planning on it so it wasn't too much of a surprise. It was a good experience to let them know I'm excited to meet them, and I told them hopefully I will learn Tagalog quickly. And then it was good to bear my simple testimony with them. They all are very nice. They all just looked up at me with a smile, and you could see that they really cared about me. They are very sweet people.

Tricycle

     Oh and when we are walking to and from lessons, EVERYONE just stares at me. It actually makes me feel really awkward! Here there are lots and lots of people just lining the streets, just sitting on the curb or riding tricycles, and just people everywhere, and it's just weird having everyone stare at me! They will yell, "Hey yo, what's up?" (because they want to try and speak English slang) or "Hey, American!" or, my companion's favorite, "Hey, Brittney Spears!" And I don't know if I told you this, but they also say "Hey, Joe, what's up?" They call all Americans Joe because it has something to do with when Americans were over here from the army and G-I-Joe or whatever. So yeah we definitely get a laugh out of all the names that I am called.
Jeepnie
     Oh and the reason the subject is "nose bleed" is because here in the Philippines, Filipinos say that they will get a nose bleed if they hear too much English or if they have to speak English. (My MTC teachers failed to warn us of this expression.) So when we go up to talk to someone if you hear them say nose bleed or put their finger under their nose, you know they are talking about me and assuming that I can't speak Tagalog, and they are afraid to talk to me sometimes. So yeah I've seen and heard that expression A LOT this week.
     So yeah I'm sure I haven't told you everything, but I'm about out of time. All in all I'll just say my life has changed dramatically! Huge culture shock! I am learning to live without a lot of things that you might think are essential. But compared to what other Filipinos live with, I have a lot and feel blessed. I have already been so surprised and humbled with what I've seen here. The Filipinos' houses are very little, and they just don't have a lot. But they are happy, happy people, and I am growing to love them. It will help when I can actually converse with them though! I love this gospel, and even though I have been discouraged quite a bit over the past few days, I know that God will help me and that if I'm patient, it will come. I wouldn't have been called by a prophet of the Lord to the Philippines if it weren't possible for me to learn Tagalog. So I just need to be patient, and I'm working on that.
     I love you all so much and hope you had a good week. Happy Birthday to Ryan, Jasen, and Dad! I hope you all got your card I sent you before I left. I was thinking of each of you on your birthday... except Ry; I don't really know where Nov. 29th went for me. Because of the International dateline I never had that day. Sorry!

12.05.2011

Flight Itinerary & First letter from the Philippines

                             Leaving: Salt Lake at 8:03 PM (11/28)
                             Arriving: LA, Cali at 9:10 PM (11/28)
                             Leaving: LA, Cali at 12:05 AM (11/29)
                             Arriving: Hong Kong at 7:40 AM (11/30)
                             Leaving: Hong Kong at 2:35 PM (11/30)
                             Arriving: MANILA!! at 4:35 PM (11/30)

KAMUSTA FROM THE PHILIPPINES!
Sister Stucki, Sister Culango, Sister Stromberg & President Stucki
     So yes, I did arrive here safe and was picked up from the Manila airport by my mission president and his wife and the APs.  Sister Stucki's brother is Superintendent Norton!  That's kind of crazy, huh?  She lived her whole life in Preston too, so she's familiar with Cache Valley. 
     On my flight from Hong Kong I had a neat opportunity to teach a Filipino about our church and give him a Tagalog Book of Mormon!  He spoke English, but when he heard I was learning Tagalog, he made me teach him in Tagalog.  He was a really nice man and was coming home to the Philippines for a two month vacation.  He works on a cruise ship normally.  He said while he was on vacation he would read the Book of Mormon.  It was really neat. :) 
     Time's about up, but don't worry I'm here safe and well taken care of!



11.29.2011

Actually been a really good one

Maligayan Araw na Pasasalamat! (Happy Thanksgiving Day!)
     How was Thanksgiving for each of you? Some in St. George, and some in Oregon? I bet it was a lot of fun! My week has actually been a really good one (minus the fact I couldn't be with family on Thanksgiving).
     On Tuesday for our devotional, guess who we got to hear from?! Elder Christofferson!:) It was so awesome! I forgot my notebook so I can't tell you a lot of specifics, but what I got from his talk was just a greater gratitude for being able to be on a mission right now. Just the privilege I have to be close to my Savior daily and to learn how to better recognize the Holy Ghost.  Another cool thing he talked about is how we are companions with all of the general authorities, that we have all the same responsibilities and authority that they have when it comes to preaching the gospel, except the fact that sisters don't have the priesthood!  And how we are all companions in the work together. That was kind of a cool thought.
     Then for Thanksgiving we got to hear from... Elder Russell M. Nelson!:) That was really good too. He just talked about different things we have to be thankful for. He also said to tell our families that he says thanks to each of you for sending a daughter/sister out on a mission and for the support you give. So yeah bet you didn't know an apostle said something specifically to each of you on Thanksgiving Day:)
     Also for Thanksgiving we had a couple of programs of speakers and musical numbers. We helped assemble like 10,000 first aid kits (which I think the brothers did also, didn't they?). Our job was being a human conveyor belt and passing cardboard boxes down a line. That's it... we were pretty helpful;) Then after all of that we got to watch the movie 17 Miracles! Which I saw in the theaters before I left but kind of fell asleep so this time I stayed awake for the whole thing, and it was really good! You all should watch it if you haven't! So it was a pretty good day! There was turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, and pumpkin pie. It was... okay:) I was telling the lady who trimmed my hair this morning that it was good considering they had to make enough for all the missionaries here, but it wasn't homemade! But that's okay; it was good!:)
     But I was thinking about my family that day and thought about you all at The Smiths’ home putting your 3 corn kernels in the little kettle and sharing what you're grateful for and decided I wanted to share with you my 3 kernels:) So first, I am so grateful for my testimony. Something that I have come to learn even more since I've been here at the MTC is how personal and valuable my testimony is to me. Being companions with Sister Vickers I've noticed how different testimonies can be and how different we can come to gain a testimony. Sister Vickers is very intelligent, and from what I have observed, she has come to know gospel truths through study and just intellectually understanding principles.  She has a testimony from studying a principle, and when it makes sense to her, it just kind of clicks, and the spirit testifies to her. I don't know if I explained that as well as I wanted to. But then for me my testimony is based off of so many personal experiences that Heavenly Father has given me in my life, just tender mercies and revelation that I have received. And I am so grateful for all the experiences that I have had. I'm so grateful for all the trials I've gone through that have taught me so much and made my testimony what it is today. Like I said it's hard to explain, but the way my companion and I have gained our testimonies is very different.  I know my Heavenly Father knows what I need to experience and how I learn best, and I am so grateful for that because now I can share all of my experiences and bear my testimony with a surety to the people I meet in the Philippines.
     Alright second... I'm grateful for my family:) I think that's everyone's answer always, but I don't know how you can't think of that on Thanksgiving! I'm grateful for each one of you and am so lucky to have the relationships with each of you that I do. I know I could go up to each of you and talk to you about everything and anything, and a lot of people, even missionaries here, don't have that blessing in their lives. So thanks to all of you for the love and support you show me. (I kind of feel redundant with that line, but it's how I feel so that's why I always say it!)
     And third... I'm grateful for all of the missionaries here at the MTC and my teachers. I have learned so much from them, and it's such a blessing. That's one things that I love in this gospel is how as members we help each other out so much. I have been strengthened by their individual stories and what they have overcome, and it's just really neat to associate with such neat members of the church.
     Oh and I have to have a fourth, sorry... I am so thankful for my Savior. Since I got here to the MTC, I started reading the Book of Mormon over and highlighting all the references to Christ, all of the words that He speaks and all the Christ-like attributes mentioned, and I have already learned a lot. I don't get to read the Book of Mormon everyday because some days I have to get ready for my investigators, but I love being able to learn more about my Savior and feel His love. I know He's a HUGE reason that I am here and a big reason I'm so happy every single day! And that's one of the things I can't wait to share with my investigators the most. There's a scripture I found that explains one reason I am serving a mission... 1 Nephi 8: 11-12:
            11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the afruit
               thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever
               before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to
               exceed all the bwhiteness that I had ever seen.
12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with ex-
                         ceedingly great ajoy; wherefore, I began to be bdesirous that my
                family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was cdesirable
                above all other fruit.
When it talks about the fruit, I learned that that is referring to the atonement, and when talking about family, I just think about the humble Filipino people, and I just love that scripture! I'm so excited to get out to the Philippines! This week has definitely been a preparation week and has gotten me even more excited.
Happy, happy birthday, Brother Itri dear!
     First off, on Monday it was Brother Itri's birthday so we all decorated the class and got to class early and surprised him and that was way fun:) Then on Wednesday it was our last day with brother Ah Mu, so we got to ask a bunch of culture questions, and we did door approaches with him and Brother Moffat which was so fun. We'd all be in the class and send two missionaries out to the hall. Then our teachers would pick some crazy but realistic role of people over in the Philippines, and then the two missionaries would have to try to get into the house and teach a message. Some missionaries were able to, and some weren't, but it was just funny seeing all the different roles that our teachers would play that they saw in the Philippines. Then Wednesday for Brother Itri's shift he brought in a bunch of photos and just went over them with us and told us all about the Philippines and answered questions, and it was a lot of fun. There's definitely going to be a HUGE culture shock for me! But I'm way excited. I just have to enjoy milk and an actual warm shower these last couple of days! Yesterday was our in-field orientation day, and they just had a bunch of workshops on different subjects that will be helpful to know when we get there. Then today is our P-day, and we're just packing tonight! It's all coming to an end!
His face right after he saw that we decorated the classroom. 
He loved it!
     The MTC is now decked out in Christmas lights, and that's kind of fun! Oh and also there's the cutest little Filipino sister missionary that just got here that we talked to, and it was a lot of fun! She said that in the Philippines they celebrate Christmas from July to January:) So that will be fun!
     I'm excited to talk to you all from the airport! I hope you had the best Thanksgiving! I was definitely thinking about each of you. Well I love you a lot and pray for you daily in more than one language:) Talk to you soon!

Mahal Kita,
Sister Stromberg

11.22.2011

Gone by so fast, but been here forever?!?

Kamusta aking pamilya!
Flight plans to Manilla through Hong Kong
     I did get my flight plans last night, and it was SO exciting! I'm going on a different plane than anyone in my district, but I'm going to be with some other elders from our zone so I'll be just fine! No sisters though. My whole district is going to Korea, but I'm going to Hong Kong which I'm actually really excited about! We have like a seven hour layover there so I'm going to go find me some legit Chinese food while I'm there:) That's my goal anyway! haha. But yeah it was just really exciting seeing that I have a plane ticket, and I will be getting to Manila before I know it! I can't wait.
My Traveling Companions!
     I've loved the MTC, and I've learned a lot. I will miss all the sisters that I have become such good friends with here for sure! But the good thing is, is most of them will be going to BYU or living in Provo when they get back so we will all get together then!:) I will also miss the awesome devotionals, and, I'm not going to lie, I'm really going to miss drinking milk at every meal like I do here. I've kind of been taking advantage of milk because I know there will be none when I get to the Philippines. I asked a sister who served in Manila that just got hired, and she said they just have this boxed milk that isn't very good.
All the sisters in our branch + two from another
     This e-mail will be all over the place because I feel like I have a lot to say but not a lot of time. So last P-day I did something really fun... I got about an hour voice lesson:) haha. My roommate Sister Young that is amazing at singing, well we were playing songs, and she was singing.  She wanted me to try a duet with her, and she started teaching me how to breathe better and different things. It was a lot of fun. I told her when I get back (she goes to BYU), I'm going to find her, and she'll have to give me more voice lessons!
President & Sister Taylor on the day he was released
     Then on Sunday my branch president got released. It was an emotional day for him and his cute wife. It reminded me a lot of another emotional bishop who got released a few months ago;) So that was kind of sad! But one of his counselors became the president, and we already knew him so that was kind of a good adjustment. And we'll be leaving in a week so it wasn't too hard. But I did love President Taylor and his wife. Then on Wednesday one of our investigators, Efron Vargas got baptized! WoohOO! That was kind of exciting! And our other investigator, Joji Barizo has an interview tomorrow for baptism.
     This week for our fireside we heard from Richard Heaton who is one of the head dudes here at the MTC (We've heard from him one other time.), but one thing he told us that is pretty cool is that right now in the MTC they have 4,000 more missionaries then they did at this time last year. It's pretty packed right now! They've had to just, while I've been here, stick another bunk bed in all of the elders' rooms. Brothers, you know how little those rooms were (well at least that's what my elders always are saying) and just imagine them sticking a third bunk bed in those same rooms. So yeah kind of crazy but exciting how the missionary forces are growing!
     I also got to help host this week so that was fun helping sisters the first day they were here. Oh and the devotional this week was Tad R. Callister. He is SO smart! His talk was awesome. He talked about the apostasy and the restoration and just brought up more points about it and went more in depth with it then you learn from Preach my Gospel, and it was just really awesome! I learned a lot!
     Tagalog is coming along. Last night while my companion was using the bathroom, I was talking to one of our zone resource teachers, and he told me that I'm doing really well with the language, and I understand very well. So that was really nice of him to tell me that, and it made me feel good to hear that. On Monday this week we went a whole day with speaking NO English, and that was good. I would have done it more, but my companion hates doing it. haha. I barely convinced her to do it Monday with me. It's just a lot harder to do it when the people around you are speaking English. Oh and two things happened this week that make me think it's becoming a little more natural... the first is the other night my roommates told me that I was sleep talking in Tagalog. Then the other day when I was playing volleyball, the serve was coming to me and instead of yelling 'yeah, yeah, yeah" to call for the ball, I yelled "Oo, oo, oo" which is yes in Tagalog. haha It was pretty cool because I did it without even realizing I was saying that. So yeah the language is getting there. I just have a feeling it's going to be a lot harder/faster/and slurred together once I get to Manila. But I'm kind of expecting it so oh well.
     It does feel like my time here at the MTC has gone by so fast! But at the same time I feel like I've been here forever! haha I don't really remember life outside of the MTC. And yeah I feel so ready! As much as I've loved the MTC, I'm SO ready to get out into the real world and talk to real investigators and real people other than missionaries and teachers!
Aly and Ry in the MTC together!
Isn't there some rule against this?!?
     Ryan, it was really good seeing you! For a while I didn't think it was going to happen. My companion said you didn't seem too excited, but I assured her that she just doesn't know you and that was you excited and taking a picture of us. (I hope I was right! You better have been excited;) haha jk) Wish we could have talked a little longer, but guess you gotta do your job! Get those sisters ready to leave for Hungary this next week! That's exciting!  Mom, you asked how I happened to see Ry, well I was in the computer lab doing TALL which was in the opposite corner of his classroom. I was only on his floor because in my building the labs were full, and the other floors in his building were full too. Tagalog missionaries are taking over the labs! There are so many of us! So anyway I went to walk to the bathroom that's closer to his classroom, and one teacher turns the corner that's not him (his colleague), and then after him comes Ry around the corner! I'm not sure who saw who first, but we were just kind of both surprised to see the other. But it was fun chatting just for a second! And I made him give me a hug!:) It's the only hug from a guy that's legal! haha.
     That's fun that Kylan Knight's home. It's crazy to think all the guys my age are getting back. But when you asked about if the Filipino people are similar, as far as religion, my teacher told us "everyone and their dog are Catholic in the Philippines." So that's all I really know as of right now. And when you were talking about a lot of Filipinos might speak English, when I was talking to Sister Frost who served in Manila, she said that a lot of times they would speak to her in English because they wanted to get better at English, and then she would speak to them in Tagalog because she wanted to get better at Tagalog. So they would just talk back and forth in different languages:) haha. I thought that was kind of funny.  
     I've got to go. I love you all so much! Have a great Thanksgiving this week! My favorite part about Thanksgiving is family so it will kind of be rough not having that this year with me:( but I just will keep in mind all the things I have to be thankful for and how I'm going to the Philippines in A WEEK! And hopefully that will help!

11.15.2011

Manilla is just BEAUTIFUL!

Kamust po kayo, aking pamilya?
     This week on Sunday we had our first fast and testimony meeting. Oh and speaking of Fast Sunday, thank you all for fasting for me this last week. That's so thoughtful of you! So our testimony meeting was a really good one, all in Tagalog of course. But I understood what everyone was saying, and I even bore my testimony in Tagalog for the first time over the pulpit. So that was kind of neat. Let's be honest I'll probably be doing that for the next 16 months in the Philippines:) But for the next couple months I probably won't be able to understand as much as I did this past week. Oh well though:)
     This last week we had a district of four elders that left on Tuesday to go to Quezon City. It was actually kind of sad saying goodbye to them. We became really close with them. The elders were older in that district, three were 21 and older so it was fun getting to know them. One was from Australia and New Zealand and had the best accent ever! It was a lot of fun talking to him about Australia and culture and such. But yeah as we were saying goodbye to them and giving them a... handshake, the Samoan elders were all singing this Samoan farewell hymn that was SO pretty! It was neat. It made me realize that that's going to happen a lot on my mission. I'll be just meeting people and getting to know them well for a couple months and then having to say goodbye to them. So I guess that was just a first of many for me. And in the Philippines I'm sure it will be worse.
     We had TRC yesterday, and it was our first time teaching a 40-minute lesson. It was actually a lot of fun. We had two sisters that we have had a couple times before, and we really like them. So we just chatted and then talked to them about Ang Plano ng kaligtasan (plan of salvation). It was a good lesson. We mainly focused on the atonement part of the plan. It's fun at the TRC because they are members, and you can have a talk a little farther in depth about the gospel in contrast to teaching an investigator and teaching it simple. We only have one more TRC which is just crazy because the last Thursday is Thanksgiving, and we won't have TRC. I've heard that we'll be doing a service project and then a devotional or something. But I don't know for sure.
     This week Elder Wilde and I got called out of class to be filmed. They asked us different questions about our stay and the MTC and such. They said that it was going to be shown to all the Asian area teachers at a training or something.
     So a funny Tagalog word that I learned this week that I just have to share with you. Mostly I've just been learning gospel words, but one day I just wanted to learn some fun words that I'll use when just having a conversation and introducing myself. So I looked up the word "art" and guess what it is in Tagalog... sinning! haha yep that's the word.  Isn't that funny? I was like... well if that isn't a sign to not spend my time doing art while I'm on my mission, then I don't know what is:) haha. So yeah thought I'd share that.
     These past couple weeks on P-day I've been practicing the piano, and I've been accompanying Sister Dennis as she plays the flute. It's been a lot of fun, and I just love the flute. I think it's so pretty. But we don't have enough weeks for us to actually perform it, and Sister Dennis didn't really want to. But Sister Young who is our new roommate is an amazing singer! She used to be a vocal performance major, and she'll sing for us sometimes at night. She just has a gorgeous voice! So today we're going to go try and find some sheet music, and I might accompany her at a fireside or devotional or Relief Society. You have to audition, but we'll see how it goes.
     My knee was doing better this week. But then this morning it was hurting so who knows. It's really weird. But one day this week I was able to run almost a half of a mile before it started to hurt which is by far the longest I've been able to. So that was a huge improvement. 
     My friend Elder Alonui from Samoa that was in our district for like two weeks and then headed to Manila e-mailed Elder Tamonavoa (Samoan in my district) and told him to tell Sister Stromberg that Manila is just BEAUTIFUL! So that got me excited!!