The best birthday present . . .

Good Morning:)
     What a great week it has been!  So first, thanks for all of the birthday wishes again and for the money that you sent. As far as the package, I haven't received it yet.  We were at the mission office last week, and I checked with them. It just hasn't gotten here yet.  We get packages and mail at temple tours, zone conferences, and after Zone Leadership trainings which is two or three times a month.  So maybe at transfer day this next week. 

     But I had such a good birthday, and my companion and ward sure did spoil me!  We had a zone training in the morning so when we got there, the whole zone sang to me and gave me a little fudgie bar with a candle on it!  And then they sang to me probably five more times during the training, whenever I would comment or go to the front.  Then after the training, we all went and ate at chic-boy, and they bought me a leche flan cake which was nice of them. 
     Then we went back and worked just like normal.  We went and taught the Conjelado family which is one of my favorite families.  It's a mom and five of her sons from ages like 14-20 and I can definitely see some future missionaries in these boys!  The exciting thing about them is they totally came to church for the first time yesterday!  It's so exciting!  They're kind of on the rough side with nose rings, earrings, most likely have some word of wisdom problems, but they are getting so excited about the gospel; that's what's so neat to see.  In relief society we were talking about "staying on the Lord's side" and their mom, Maria, stood up and said that that morning one of her sons came and woke her up and told her they were coming to church and how impressed she was and how she can tell he's been really touched by the lesson we taught about Joseph Smith. She wants them to stay on this path and stay on the "Lord's side," and she was even pretty emotional about it. It was really neat! 

     So yeah after we taught them on Tuesday, Sister Dyer wouldn't tell me where we were going. They told me we were going back to the church for an appointment (which I knew wasn't true). So we were on the bus going back to the church when we drove right on past to the Montemayor home.  They are one of my favorite families and are just so nice.  So as we walk up to their house I see balloons which to my surprise they had printed with my name on them, and then they had the best dinner prepared for me.  It was sinigang with shrimp, along with fried chicken.  And you don't get shrimp a lot here because it's kind of expensive so only if the members are well off or if it's a special occasion:)  So they were just so nice to prepare that!  Then all the ward missionaries went in to buy me a cake as well!  And the elders from our district also came for the dinner.  It was so nice of all of them, and I know it was Sister Dyer and Brother Wilmar that went to all the trouble to get it all pulled together for me. They are just so great!  So yeah I was very spoiled for my birthday!:) 

     But I have to say the best birthday present I got this last week was the assistants gave me permission to call Sister Stonick Saturday night and talk for five minutes with Maryjane, Nic, and Renz after their baptism!!!  It was SO good to talk even if it was just really fast.  They sounded so happy!  Both Maryjane and Nic said they were really nervous earlier that day, but at that point they just felt great and so happy. Man, I just can't explain how happy I was and am for them!  So yeah that was my birthday! 
     Then some other news for the week is Sister Dyer got a call this last week that she is shotgun training this next transfer which means... I will be getting another companion here come Thursday.  I was bummed that we only got this one transfer, but I'm also really excited for her to train because she only has two more transfers. Then she's heading home!  So yeah we went to Buendia chapel in Manila on Friday so that Sister Dyer could get trained how to be a trainer.  It was really fun because my first zone leaders were both there, and I hadn't seen one of them in a long time so it was fun catching up with them. 

     Then on Saturday was our temple tour where we got to bring investigators!  We had eight come with us which I'll attach pictures for you to see.  It was Jhenalyn and her siblings and her aunt and cousins.  They live right by the church and are a part of all the little kids I told you about a while ago.  Jhenalyn should be ready for baptism anytime now, but she wants to wait for her family so we're going to be figuring all of that out this week hopefully. 
     But I had quite the surprise at the temple as well.  They have this store that's kind of like a distribution store by the temple, and we were at a station right next to it with our investigators. Guess who walks out of that store... a bunch of members from... CARMONA!:)   I was so excited to see them!! Some of my very favorite Relief Society members were there, and it was so neat to see them and give them a quick hug.  We didn't really get to talk, but it was still just the best feeling.  They were there to do a session.  Then later I ran into the branch president from Carmona and got to talk to him for a while.  He forgot his temple recommend so he was in charge of watching all the little kids.  It was so great!:)  And I got to see my first district leader as well at the temple which he goes home this week.  It was just the funnest little reunion of all the people that I love from my first area!:) 
     So yeah I feel like so much happened this last week, and I don't remember it all.  Oh one exciting thing we have this one investigator, Mark, who is the nephew of a really strong member in our ward.  Well he is what they call "bakla" here which is gay, and baklas here dress like girls like to an extreme!  It's crazy!  Well we've been teaching him and trying to help him, and finally this week he cut his hair (it was long like a girl before) and started dressing like a boy. It's SO exciting!  He's only 16 and his sister Maryanne, is 14, and she really wants to get baptized.   And since he cut his hair and started wearing boy clothes, he was able to come to church yesterday for the first time. It's just been so exciting for him!  So those two will probably be our next baptism in October if Mark continues on this path!:) 
     Hmmm... I think that's about it. Oh, Mom, yes I know the Mosquera family very well.  We ate at their house quite a few times, and they had the best dinners:) haha.  President Mosquera is now the district president of Puerto Princesa so you'll have to tell Elder Graham that. They're great! Then the Asis family I saw their records and heard that name a couple times, but I think they moved or something.  They were in the elders area, so I'm not positive on them. But hey, I actually heard a lot about Elder Graham!  And it was from just one member. haha It's Tatay Dagot who I told you about and sent you a picture of.  He's the less active member that we helped become active, and he started calling me his child.  Well he told me about ten times the story when the missionaries first found him, and the missionary was Elder Graham! So you have to tell him that I heard about him quite often (mainly because Tatay is getting old and forgets that he's already told me). Tell him Tatay is now active, should receive the Melchezedic priesthood this next month, and has a goal to enter the temple in April!!  He even told me he wants me to try and be in the temple when they go through.  So yeah what a coincidence!  And I might have heard his name a couple more times too, but I don't remember. 
     Ah I feel like you all asked me questions, but I'm out of time now. Thanks for the e-mails; I loved all the updates today!  I will continue to pray for Baby Aiden!  I also loved the pictures!  Gabe and Hannah are getting SO big!  I can't believe it!  Oh and I also can't believe the Cougars let Utah beat them:(  (Dad, thanks for the update).  Dad, also could you tell me the total amount of money I have to spend?  I want to try and budget that money to get me through so you don't have to take any out of my savings.  I'll probably take some out today because we're going to Tagaytay which is a tourist attraction place today for our zone activity!  So yeah just let me know the total amount that I have to spend please:)  haha. 
      But I love you all so much!  I have to admit I did really miss you all this last week on my birthday.  For our zone meeting they were focusing on completing families and asked us to bring a picture of our family.  They told us to look at the picture and think of the happiest time we've had with them and then connected it to helping the families here and so on.  Well it just happened to be the picture I brought was all of us at Tepenyake's which as I'm sitting there looking at it was like exactly a year ago at my last birthday!  And so yeah I missed all of you, but at the same time I, of course, loved being here serving my brothers and sisters here in the Philippines.  Bitter sweet:)  But I know I have a lot more birthdays to come with my family, and I was lucky enough to have one here in the Philippines with the people I love here!:)  So yeah no complaints!  But I love you all so much and am so grateful for all you do for me and the support that you are always giving to me!  Take care!

Mahal na mahal ko kau!
Sister Stromberg

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