All of a sudden I became the "house mouse!"

     Yes, transfer day came and went pretty fast.  I can't believe how fast this last transfer went.  To answer your question about transfers, I just kind of had a feeling that after the 12-week training program, Sister Culango would be transferred because she had been here in Carmona for six months.  And . . . I was right. :)  She got transferred to Manila and now is a city girl, while I stayed here in Carmona and received a new companion, Sister Ronquillo.  She's Filipina all the way from Quezon City. haha Her first area, Pasay, she said she was 30 minutes away from her house.  But she's a sweetheart and really nice, and I'm excited to get to know her more.  She's been here for eight months, and this is her third area.
 Sister Stromberg & Sister Ronquillo
     As much as I'm excited about having a new companion, I'm not going to lie; it was REALLY hard to say goodbye to Sister Culango.  Let's just say that there were tears shed. We became super close, like best friends here in the mission, and everyone could see that.  There were many missionaries that would comment how close we were, even President Stucki.  I was super lucky to have her as my trainer, and we will definitely keep in touch the rest of my life. :) 
Sister Culango and her greenie
     But putting that aside, I'm lucky to have a new companion, Sister Ronquillo, and it will be a great transfer with her. After transfer day I felt like all of a sudden I wasn't a new missionary, and all these responsibilities were put on me.  I became the "house mouse," meaning I'm the one that's been here in Carmona the longest (Sister Abanggan got transferred also) so I have to take care of all the bills and the house and just everything.  Then I had to lead the area, plan every day what we would do and what we would teach, and do just about everything for the first little while until Sister Ronquillo becomes familiar with everything here in Carmona.  So I've definitely been stretched this last week, but it's been good for me.  I certainly had the help of the Lord.  The sister that replaced Sister Abanggan is Sister Pacino from Bacolod.  Also I got a new Zone Leader Elder Bueno, and Elder Olongayo left, which he was a lot of fun and I'll miss him.  So yeah there were a lot of changes this transfer with companions.
  Carmona RS President deOcampo
feeding Sister Culango & Sister Stromberg pandisal! :)
     Then as far as our work this week one thing that was really exciting is we got one of our less-active members who is 20 years old to work with us on Friday.  His name is Jewel, and we've been going to him for a while with no progression at all. But he worked with us Friday, so hopefully we can get him to go back to church through feeling the Spirit when he works with us. 
     Then I had a neat experience again this last Sunday! So first off, we had three investigators at church so that was really good.  Tina was one of them, and she has now been at church four Sundays so we just need to continue to teach her all the lessons. She's golden!  But what was neat is we've been teaching Sister Encarnation for months now.  She's less-active and has some family problems (It's hard to explain.).  But since we've been teaching her, she's been progressing, and her desire to go to church again has grown, and we thought she was getting close.  Well she came to church yesterday!! And it was just the best feeling ever.  I can't even describe, but I was so happy when I saw her walk in to Relief Society that tears came to my eyes.  You get so close to these people, and you teach them over and over; you are constantly praying for them and then to finally see them take that leap of faith and go to church. It's just the best feeling.  Before my mission I don't remember having a lot of experiences where I cried because I was so happy. But here it's happened a couple times, and I love it.  It makes all that we are doing here in Carmona so rewarding!  So yeah that was my Sunday.  Also one other less-active member came back for the first time also, Harry, which was so exciting to see him at church. 
     Dad, a member from my branch who looked at our family picture and also my new companion both told me that you look like Pres. Uchtdorf.  haha It made me laugh, and I had to tell you.  
     Anyway that was my week.  Yesterday at church I was thinking about how close I'm getting with all of Carmona branch, and it will be hard when it's my turn to transfer.  They're all so great! I can't believe it's already March; pretty soon I'll hit my 6 month mark, and that's just crazy.  My goal was to finish the Book of Mormon and be fluent in Tagalog by 6 months, and I'm in Ether and getting there with Tagalog. :) 


I never knew what a big deal transfers were

Magandang Hapon!
     Well, Happy Presidents Day! Hope you all enjoy your day off. Life is crazy this week. Later today we are going bowling as a zone for a zone activity, and that's where they are doing transfer announcements. They will tell us who is being transferred and who is staying, and then tomorrow at district meeting, they'll tell us where those missionaries are being transferred. Then Wednesday in Makati, they'll tell everyone who their new companion is. Crazy, I never knew what a big deal transfers were when the brothers were on their missions.
     This last week we got to go and do a CSP project with our zone on Friday morning. A member that is actually in my area (the Amores family) has a farm, so we went to their farm and helped clean it all up and harvest tomatoes and such. It was a lot of fun. They use this big knife looking thing to weed.
The big banana leaves that the food was on was actually 
just the leftovers of what we ate from lunch.
We ate with just our hands, all of us, right off of the banana leaves, 
and then when we were done, 
Bro. Amores let all of the animals eat the leftovers.  
That was way fun.
CSP stands for Community Service Project  
 or Culango Stromberg Party :) hahaeither one 
And yes, I did eat the tomatoes in soy sauce, 
and that's actually really good.  You should try it!  
     Then the big news for the week is we were very blessed yesterday at church. We had five investigators there at church. :) Two of our recent converts who have become less-active that we have been visiting for months now finally came to church yesterday too, and we were so happy to see them! Mark came to church, and that's his first time since I've been here. Then also a sister who's inactive that we've visited for months now (She was actually the first person here in Carmona that I taught.) finally came to church also! It was so exciting! We were sitting up on the stand because Sister Culango was assigned to talk, and as our investigators and less-active members one by one came in and sat down (some late), by the last ones that came in, we just both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It was just the best feeling. It's hard because these people we are teaching every week, and we have come to love them. It's so hard when you don't ever see them actually commit to come to church. So it was a very exciting day for us at church. I'm not sure if they came just because it was most likely Sister Culango's last day in church or what, but we were just so, so happy to see them. I just hope that they continue. So yes it was a great day.
     We also finished the 12 week training program where we have companionship study for two hours each day, so now just one hour for me, and I'm officially trained. :) It feels good! Even though I know I have a lot more to learn, and I am excited for a new companion that I'm sure will teach me a lot.
     One of our investigators, Tina, is really progressing, and it's so exciting. She's actually the nanny of a member (I can't remember if I told you about her.), and we've been teaching her. She's now come to church three times which is the most out of any of the investigators I've taught. And we set a baptisimal date with her this last week. Her boss Sister Que at church told us that she was so excited and told Sis. Que all about it. So that's really exciting. She is going on summer vacation in April and told us she wants to get baptized before she leaves. So hopefully she will continue. Yeah that's pretty much all that happened this week.
     I don't have a whole lot of time because Sister Culango wanted to go to the salon today and get her hair "relaxed" whatever that is. They have weird things for hair here. They also get their hair rebunded...  Mom, you should ask Annette about all these weird things they do. I'm not really sure about it. haha Just curious. But yeah the hairdressers here are all cross dressers, and it just weirds me out! I thought the hair dresser was a girl, but nope she\he was a guy. I didn't know whether to call it brother or sister, and it just was really weird. And he kept talking to me too while Sister Culango was getting her hair done. There are a ton of people like that here too.
     So yeah to answer questions... Probably my favorite food so far is chicken adobo or pork adobo! Oo it's so good! And it's actually not allowed in our mission to eat balut so that probably won't happen, haha even though my investigator Tatay Rolando is sure that I will eat it at some point. Man, he is so funny. He's not progressing, but his daughter is interested so we go to see them about once a week. The last time we did, he looked through my pictures that I brought, and he saw Ryan and asked "why is he tan (like a Filipino)?" and then went on to tell me that Ryan looked a lot like him. haha It cracked me up. I wanted to take a picture of him to show Ry, but he left the lesson early. Next time I'll try to take a picture of him for ya.
     The Swedish pancakes turned out pretty good. They weren't quite as sweet because the milk here tastes different, but it was still good. Then it was thicker in the middle because the pan is bowl shaped so different than home and, of course, not as good;), but the sisters liked it. Oh and I cooked American spaghetti for them, and Sister Culango said it's the best spaghetti she's ever had. haha. They have this store in Binyan that has an international section, and I found Ragu there so yeah. Now tomorrow we have this member family that wants to try it so they bought all the ingredients, and then we're having FHE with them and I'm making it at their house. haha It makes me laugh.
     Anyway, I'm out of time. Hope your week went well. My P-days have been crazy, and I never have time to write. Love you all, and pray for you every day!

Mahal Ko Kayo,
Sister Stromberg


. . . seem just like a Filipino

Happy Valentine's Day, family!
     I think I'm going to try and make Swedish pancakes for Valentine's Day for the sisters! haha We'll see how that goes.
     This last week has been quite the week actually. On Tuesday was my first zone conference. It was really good too! We got together with two other zones, and President, Sister Stucki, and the AP's spoke to us and did some training with us. Then two different times we split up to do some practice teaching situations. Then we had a lunch that was catered (but wasn't actually that good), but they had chocolate cake that was delicious, of course! And yeah that was our zone conference!
     We got our pouches that day. I had two from Uncle Randy, a post card and a pouch that was sent I think a couple weeks after, and I got both of them at the same time... so I think that pouch is faster. I also finally heard from Sister Vickers. I was actually really starting to worry about her, but I got a letter, and she's doing great, a lot better she said than in the MTC, so I was really happy to hear that.
      Then on Thursday I experienced my first companionship exchange! The last temple tour we talked to one of the AP's and requested an exchange. In our mission they have two sisters who are assigned specifically to help with exchanges, and each week they'll go and do exchanges with sisters. They are sisters that have been in the mission for a while and are experienced and are just really good missionaries. I wanted to do an exchange to make sure that I could lead my area and do everything without Sister Culango, in preperation for if I get a new companion here in Carmona. And it went really well. I had Sister Torres from Iloilo (the mission where Ashley is going) who has one more transfer here in the mission. She taught me a lot, and I was very grateful for the opportunity. She just plans differently than Sister Culango and teaches differently and goes about getting referrals differently and so because all I've had to learn from thus far is Sister Culango, it was just good to learn from someone else. It kind of got me excited for a new companion (even though I love Sister Culango). It will just be good to grow in different ways with different companions. Then she gave me some really good feedback on what I was doing well, and it was just a good day. One thing that made me laugh, is while we were walking towards the end of the day she turns to me and says... "It's hard for me to believe you're an American. You seem just like a Filipino to me." haha It made me smile. So yeah it definitely helped me with my confidence that I'll be just fine without my nanay!:)
Sister Torres from Iloilo
     Then the excited news for this week... THREE INVESTIGATORS CAME TO CHURCH!!! Oh man I was so excited. We have this investigator, Lace, who is 17 and so smart. She's studying accounting right now. And we brought just the right member with us the last time we taught her (Eva), because it turns out that they go to the same college. And so Eva has been so good in fellowshipping her, and I think that might have made the difference in getting her to church. But Saturday night I was just praying and thinking a lot about Lace; out of all of our investigators she was the one I wanted to see at church. And then she came!:) It really was such a good feeling. She's so funny. The last time we taught, after our lesson she told me that she always wanted to study art and went and got her sketch pad and showed me and asked me for advice:) haha. Then at church she told me that her professor told her class that Americans are afraid of eating, and wanted to know if that's true... haha funny girl. I hope she'll continue. Then our investigator Tina who is the Nanny for a member in our branch came with the Que family to church. I wasn't expecting that because both times we went to teach her this week, she "hid from us." We found out later from Sister Que it was because she hadn't read her Book of Mormon, and she was embarrassed to tell us that. But she came to church, and we were so excited. Then the last one was a referral that we actually haven't taught yet. It's a girlfriend of a member, so we'll see how that goes this week. So there's improvement.
     This week is the 12th week in the 12-week program for new missionaries, and then I'm done with that. Week 11 was probably the hardest because you have to plan every night, and then you have to "take the lead" in teaching every single lesson you teach all week. So yes I'm about ready to be done with the training program, and that's exciting!
     Other than that there's not a whole lot else. The other sisters here in Carmona had a baptism on Saturday that we went to, and it was so neat. It was for a little 9 year old boy named Jon, and whenever he sees me, he'll yell, “Hi, Sister Stromberry.” He's way cute. Well his dad is actually blind and was able to baptize him, and it was just a neat experience seeing his dad able to do that for his son even with his disability.
     To answer your questions: I did not feel or even hear about the earthquake here. And, Nicole, you said that you feel like all you do is plan and teach and plan and teach... Well I'm right there with ya:) haha That's all I feel like I'm doing too! Dad, that's fun you work with the full-time missionaries. Do you go out and teach with them? Do you know the Filipino family in our ward? I don't remember their last name, but I got a Christmas card signed from a bunch of members from our ward, and there was a Filipino family who wrote to me in Tagalog. Anyway have a fun Valentine's Day tomorrow. Love you all lots! Take care, and have a good week.

Mahal na mahal ko kayo,
Sister Stromberg


. . . almost like a celebration

Kamusta kayo!
     I can't believe it's already February. We have transfers coming up in two weeks, and I just can't believe how fast this transfer has gone by. And it's very likely going to be my last transfer with Sister Culango. I just love her. But it will be good for a little change at the same time.
A tricycle with the name Ryan on the front!
     So Mom, you talked about lots of funerals going on, well this week I had two experiences with funerals here in the Philippines. First one is just funny. We were walking to an appointment one day, and here down the street comes what looks and sounds like a parade. There are three vans in the front, then a band, lots of people walking, and a TON of tricycles. But then what's in the middle of it all... a hearse!! Yeah it was for a funeral, but there was a band, and everyone looked happy almost like it was a celebration. Weirdest thing I've ever seen. haha I don't know about Carmona:)
     Then the second experience was actually really sad. In the Valencarina family, Tina is a recent convert that we try to teach once a week, and she's 21. Then there's JP who has been a member for over a year now and works with us to teach, and he's 19. They are both so awesome. Well Friday morning we got a text that their mother passed away (at age 43) from either liver cancer or ulcer; I don't really know because I heard both. It is so sad. They don't have a dad right now either, and they have one other sibling who is 9. I feel so bad for them. :( And what they do here is kind of... unique; they have the casket in the family’s home for like 7-9 days, and then people can just stop by whenever for that period of time to give condolences and what not. So we stopped by yesterday after church and talked to them for a while. Very sad. So yeah that was my experience this week with funerals.
     To answer someone’s question: no, I'm not in Manila. I'm in a town called Carmona, and it's not a big city. In fact, it's away from the city in what they call a province here and is made up of a LOT of very little homes and a TON of people.
      This last week we didn't have any temple tours, meetings, and what not, so it was a good week to do a lot of work. We reached our goal of 18 lessons to investigators and 14 to RCLA so we were excited about that. Dad, to answer your question: we do still do some tracting to find new investigators every week. We're always looking for new investigators. Then we have a list of all the members in our branch which is like 600, but the records here aren't the best so they don't always have current or correct addresses, so when we have time, we try to find where less active members live as well. And then we visit the less active members we do know. We are focusing on reactivating a lot, and this last week we had a member come back for the 4th Sunday so that makes five members that we've helped come back to church. And as far as our investigators... still we had 0 investigators show up for church. :( So that's why we have to keep finding new investigators so that hopefully we can find some that will want to go to church. Hopefully next week. Tomorrow we have zone conference in Desma, and that will be my first one. I'm excited for that.
     Oh I just remembered! The Indian sister that's living with me, Sister (Pavetra) Verma, knows Ish Erickson. And another sister that's in my mission who I haven't met yet because she's in Palawan right now was one of Ish's converts. So you'll have to tell him if you see him! Kind of exciting. Small world!
     I had a really neat experience this week teaching. We had an appointment that was a referral from Sister Murrillion. Sister Murrillion is so funny; she's an RM with 3 kids and is OBSESSED with David Archuleta. Every time we talk to her, she has something more to tell us about him. Apparently he's going on a mission, and the rumor is that he either got his call to Manila mission or Quezon City mission (I don't really believe it, but who knows). Then a couple weeks ago he was in the Manila temple here doing a session. He signed a contract here with a TV station to do something, I don't really know, that's why he was here. And yeah Sister Murrillion always has something to tell us about him. Anyways she gave us a referral and came with us to teach Gem. And when I shared the Joseph Smith story and told the first vision, I felt the spirit SO strong! It was so neat! I love telling the story about Joseph Smith! She has to work on Sundays now so that's why she wasn't at church, but she was very receptive and interested so I'm excited to go back to her on Saturday.
     So yeah I'm about out of time. Anyway I love you so much! Have a good week! Thank you for all the prayers, and I'm praying for you all daily! Oh and did groundhog see his shadow?? haha
At the Seguenza family's home where we're going tonight for FHE;
they're a super nice family, and the dad is a really good cook. :)

Mahal ko Kayo,
Sister Stromberg