Happy New Year

Happy 2012!!!
   Funny story about 2012... the other day we had an investigator that asked us if we believe that the world will end 12/12/12. Well Sister Culango's date when she is going home is 12/12/12, so she was quick to say I hope not because that's the day that I will return to my family. haha It made me laugh.
    Anyway, Happy New Year! Man, you don't know a New Year’s celebration until you've been in the Philippines! Seriously they know how to bring in the New Year. It is bigger here than even Christmas is. We had to be back in our apartments by 6:00 p.m. But at 11:55 we woke up to not toast in the New Year (Fast Sunday), but to my surprise see all the fireworks! We live in a well-off community which is different from where we proselyte. It's a gated community so our neighbors have cars which is unusual here. That being said, they had a lot of fireworks! And when I say fireworks, they're the kind that you see in Romney Stadium and at the Stadium of Fire that you have to have a license to fire. But here all of our neighbors were lighting them off. It was crazy! And they made it so all of their car alarms were going off, and their car lights were blinking on and off, and, man, it was just very different here. And even Sister Culango said that, for her, New Year’s Day is a bigger deal than Christmas here in the Philippines. It seems a little weird for me, but that's just how it is. So yeah you couldn't have missed that it was 2012! Haha It lasted for hours! President and Sister Stucki visited our ward the next day and said in Makati because it's in the city, there was so much pollution that in the morning, there was just a big cloud of smoke from all the fireworks. Sister Stucki said she was thankful that the mission home was still intact the next morning! haha.
   This last week I finally had the opportunity to do a session in the Manila temple! What a blessing! We went as a whole zone. It was really neat because the sister I did work for is a Filipino. And I just thought it's neat that I'm building relationships and ties here in the Philippines with the Filipino people that will last into the eternities, but also because I get to go to the temple each transfer, I have an opportunity to make ties with those Filipinos who have passed from this life and will get to meet them later on. It was also neat being in the temple and just looking around at all the Filipinos dressed in white. Most of the time I am associating with investigators and less actives, and so it was neat to see those members who are strong in the church and who get to attend the temple. It was really neat, and I'm very grateful for that opportunity I have to go so often while I'm here. After our session that was the first time I've been at the temple at night, and they had Christmas lights up. Not like Temple Square, but it was really pretty and fun to see that.
     Then on Friday we went to the mission home for a training for new missionaries and their trainers. I told Sister Stucki that I know Carol Pickett and her family, and she got excited. Sister Culango and I helped her make lunch for the missionaries. We were in charge of grilling the hotdogs, and they were so delicious! There was real ketchup and mustard (not the sweet kind that we get), and it was so good. Also Doritoes and Oreos and American food! Yum!
    With our investigators this week, they all seem to be progressing towards baptism, and they tell us that they are going to church and then yesterday... none at church:( It is so sad! Especially when they assure you they'll be there and then they don't show up. We visited them after church, and they said it was because of New Year’s and that makes sense. So hopefully now that the holidays are over, they will all settle down and go to church:) haha
    But it was such a surprise, last night when we got back from working, we got a text from the elders in the next area over saying that one of our investigators, Helen, and her husband and two kids came to their ward instead of ours! We were SO excited to hear that! There's hope! They will probably always go to that church because they just have to ride one jeepney to get there, and for our branch they would have to take a jeepney and then a tricycle. So it's cheaper for them to go to the other church. So yeah our focus now is just to get our investigators to church and the less active members as well.
   There were quite a few less active members that told us they would go to church and then didn't as well. But on a high note we visited an in-active member’s house on New Year’s Eve, and her sister was there who is also in-active. They fed us lunch, and we shared a message with them, and they went to church Sunday for the first time in a long time. So that was exciting to see them there. This weekend to relate to New Year’s we shared Alma 5 with a lot of the less active members and recent converts. It is such a powerful chapter that I have come to love here on my mission. It really makes you think about what you need to improve in your life to make sure that you are ready to meet the Lord.
    Oh another kind of funny thing, we've been teaching the Laosantos family (the ones we met at Jollybee), and we extended a baptismal invitation to them. Nanay Annette accepted, but Tatay Rolando said that his concern was that he would get baptized, and then we would get transferred, and then he wouldn't know what to do. Basically making it sound that he was only going along with it all because he liked us, and he liked us teaching him. He's very, very smart and knows a lot about the Bible and is reading the Book of Mormon. When we taught him the POS, it took us 2 HOURS to get through it because he had so much to say! He just talks and talks and talks, and sometimes we feel like he wants to teach us instead of us teaching him. haha He's quite the character. So yeah who knows what's going to happen with them. They are just funny. Their cousin Arlene has been at their home for a couple of lessons, and yesterday when we asked her what religion she was... haha and while holding her Book of Mormon, she said that she was a iglesia ni cristo but now she's "this" pointing at the Book of Mormon. ha Kind of funny! The whole family is really nice and feeds us every time we are over, but we'll see what happens with them. It would be neat if the whole family would continue together and be baptized all together. We'll see.
     Well I love you all! It's weird to think I will be here for the entire year of 2012 without seeing y'all. But it really is a blessing; I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Oh and one more quick funny story... earlier during companion study I read Alma 8, and Sister Culango said that the missionaries that used to visit her house said that they wanted the members to be like Amulek in that chapter. haha It's funny; you'll have to read it! Well Happy New Year!
Mahal Ko Kayo,
Sister Stromberg

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