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.
     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


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


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



     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.


     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.
     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!


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)

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!