Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dear Family,

Where is the time going? I can't believe Christmas is over. It was good to Skype and see you. EVERYONE LOOKS SO BIG. It makes me kinda sad that I'm missing y'all growing up but, I'm in the right place. 

Christmas was great. We didn't teach a lot of people but we ate a lot of food. It was fun having Christmas in the apartment with the other missionaries. Christmas morning Elder G and I made pancakes. It was the only American thing that I experienced during Christmas. 

Well it's so beautiful here. I love being a missionary. I'll email more next week but here are some pictures! I love y'all!

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

P.S. I just found out today that I have two packages at the mission office so I'll get that sometime this week!


Here are some pics of me just doing my thing...don't you miss me? ;) some Christmas pictures, little bit of modeling on the beach.




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Family,

Gosh I am SO excited to talk to y'all in a couple of days. There's so much I want to tell you. 

It still blows my mind about Mackenzie getting married. Can't wait to hear the details. 

So transfers....Elder T was transferred and President called me and said that he wanted me to train. HA are you kidding me? I just got done with training and plus the fact that I can't speak the local dialect haha. Of course I told President that I would do anything he asked me to. So next day, I went to pick up my new companion/trainee. I was the only American and missionary that was there, that just finished training and now is training. I'm going to be honest I felt really out of place and a lot of inadequacy. My new companion is Elder R and his awesome. He's half Filipino and Chinese but he grew up in the Philippines. We have a unique companionship because I know how to be a missionary and the area but Elder R
know's Tagalog. Hahahaha I think it's so funny. But honestly I'm so grateful that my mission president trusts me enough to train. It has been making me rely more on the Lord and taught me so much more of how to be a good missionary. I love how it's pushing me to better.

Other then that things are going really well. I love my area and it's so beautiful here in December. The group in Sta. Cecilia is growing and I really have high hopes for it. 

I'll Skype ya'll on Dec. 26 but it will be Christmas for you. I'm probably going to Skype at around 6-7pm here so I don't know what time that will be for y'all. Sometime in the morning. And if Skype doesn't work. I'll call Dad's cell phone as a backup. 

I love my family. I love being a missionary. I love these people. I love this gospel. I love my Savior. Can't wait to see your faces this week. Merry Christmas and I'll see you soon!

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader



Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Dear Family,

I'm so excited for Christmas this year. I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going but I'm still excited. Dad you need to send me your Skype name ASAP. And I'll call y'all on Christmas Day in the morning. I can't give an exact time but probably around 8-11 am for you guys. I'm so excited to see y'all. 

Well it's been a great week. We had two baptisms. Angel and Nico. Their parents and grandparents were less active before but we were able to get them back to church and active again and they wanted their kids to be baptized as soon as possible and of course Angel and Nico wanted that as well. I have grown really close to these kids and it was an honor to baptize them. Angel has been teaching me Tagalog while I've been here. It was a wonderful service. 

Transfers are "bukas" (tomorrow) and I'll be officially done with my training. I'm not sure who's going to get transferred me or Elder T. I hope I don't leave because I've gotten close with the people here and I love Aringay. But I have full trust in the Lord and I know my mission president is inspired and I'll go where I'm needed by the Lord. 

How's the language? I wish I knew. Honestly, I just fake it till I make it. I understand for the most part, which I thought was never going to happen, and learn more everyday. The gift of tongues is real. No doubt. 

Yesterday we had the first sacrament meeting at the Sta. Cecilia group. We had some member's come to show their support. But we had only 1 investigator show up. I was devastated. We teach so many people their but only one investigator comes. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, but I'm grateful for how the Lord comforts me and teaches me life lessons. I have full faith that this area will grow and progress. We just have to keep working hard and over time we will fill that little house with people that want to change their lives and come closer to God. I'm grateful that I was able to be here in the beginning stages.  

I miss you all and I hope everything is going smooth at the house. Hope school/sports/activities are going good too! I love you all and you're always in my prayers. In my prayers everyday I ask that y'all will be blessed through my service. I tell myself, the harder I work, the more blessings will come
for my family. I know this Church is true and I'm having the time of my life here. See you in 2 short years!

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader


Here are pics from the Group house and the baptism. Here's a funny picture, someone stole the "S" from the sign at the church so instead of "latter day saints," it's "latter day saint." I think it's so funny. This is also the Javier family I've gotten really close to them. They feed us every week. And here's a picture of the one investigator that came to church, Sister Edna. 








Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 8, 2014

Family,

Wow that was a close one. You really think a Super Typhoon can scare me off? Hahaha but really I'm okay. I've been here for 3 months and NO TYPHOON. So when I heard there was a Super Typhoon headed our way and we had to prepare with our 72 hour  kits and emergency funds...I was pretty pumped up. But I guess all those prayers from Houston, Texas were heard because, the Typhoon didn't even touch us. WAY TO SPOIL ALL THE FUN. THANKS A LOT. 

Other then that false alarm it's been a pretty good week. Transfers are next week and I finish my training. Elder T thinks he's getting transferred and that I'll probably train but I hope he doesn't. There's so much I still don't know (like Tagalog for example). 

I know for a fact I was meant to be here. Sometimes I feel like the Philippians is still stuck in the 80's. Every bus, trike or jeepney we travel on always has 80's music blasting. We walk through neighborhoods and people are jamming out to Bon Jovi everyday. I love it. Just the other day we're on a bus and Chicago, "You're the Inspiration" was playing. "No way" I yelled out, "this is my mom and dad's wedding song!" And I joined the other Filipinos on the bus as we sung along. (I'll repent later).  Dad, I have seen about 12 red GEO-METRO's and I'm flooded with childhood memories. I know you loved that car. 

Elder T and I make a pretty good team. Every time we walk around I always talk to random people, but after some small talk that is usually the extent of my Tagalog. So I then talk to and play with the kids, while Elder T talks to everyone else. It actually has been working pretty well. For example one of our area's we teach is an area that missionaries from the past haven't had much success in. For some reason people don't trust the missionaries and think we're here for their money. But every time we go to that area, there's a bunch of Filipino kids running around playing sports. So I join in with them. The first couple of weeks we didn't teach many lessons there but the kids we're always excited when I showed up so they could pick me to be on their team. After a while the parents come outside and watched us play. While I play with the kids the parents go up to Elder T and ask him why is that American playing with the kids? Why is he so happy? Of course Elder T explains how we're missionaries and we're just to serve and share these message that make's us so happy. Now, the doors have been opened for us. People want to hear our message. Every time we walk through the neighborhood all the kids yell,"Si Elder Strader dito! Tara na!" (Elder Strader is here! Let's play!) And then we commenced in playing a Filipino version of baseball. I'm so grateful for the talents the Lord has blessed me with. Although I can't speak Tagalog yet, I'm able to use the talents that I do have, while I can work on my weaknesses. 

Well I love being a missionary. I love the challenges the Lord gives us. Sometimes we complain about our trials, hard times or problems. Why does this happen to me? But those are times that we come closer to God. It's like the story of the Gardner and the Fig Tree. The Gardner comes and see's the wild fig tree with long branches but it's not bearing any fruit. The Gardner then cuts of the branches really short so it grows back stronger. But when he got done cutting he thought he saw a tear drop on the Fig Tree as if it was crying. He thought he heard the Fig Tree,"Why did you cut my branches? I was such a big tree! Why did you cut me down?" To that the Gardner responded, "You weren't bearing any fruit my little fig tree. Don't worry I know your potential. You can't see now but it will be worth it in the end. With my help I can make you a beautiful tree with much fruit. One day you'll say...thank you Gardner....for loving me enough...to cut me down."

Sometimes the Lord cuts us down and we don't understand why, but He know's our potential. And with His help we can be beautiful and bear much fruit. I know this Church is true. I know the gospel is for everyone. I know anyone can change and feel the peace the Atonement can bring. I know God loves us and knows us personally. I love my family. I know families can be together forever. I know the Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other and are both Words of God. I'm grateful for my challenges because without them I would never improve and with that I say...

Thank Gardner for loving me enough....to cut me down. 

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader






Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 1, 2014

Family,

How was Thanksgiving? It's so good to hear from you. I got some of the Dear Elders and loving reading these eamils. I miss y'all so much. Even though we don't have Thanksgiving here, I want y'all to know that I'm so grateful for you and this gospel.

So much has happened this week. Should I start with the really good news or the funny story? Funny story it is.

Couple of days ago Elder T and I we're walking through this neighborhood. When out of nowhere this random lady stopped us and asked us if we could help her. She told us that she was Catholic but she was taught by the missionaries when she was little but never was baptized. She told us that she had just bought this house and it's just her and her daughter living there. But there is a problem. The lady that owned the house before had killed herself in one of the rooms. Now here the Philippines the Filipinos are VERY superstitious. They believe in faith healers, witch craft, karma, and so on. She told us she doesn't like the spirit she feels in the home and she wanted us to bless the house. We told her we would. So she brought us in house and we immediately felt a difference in the home. Honestly I was kinda creeped out. She brought us to the door of the room where the lady killed herself. The door was locked so her evil spirit won't be released to the rest of the house. The door, traditionally, will never be unlocked again. So here we are, me and Elder T and this lady and her daughter. We all bow our heads and then Elder T whispers to me, "You got it, Elder Strader." Hahaha I wasn't sure what was about to happened but I said a prayer in Tagalog, blessing that this house and those who live in it would be okay. I ended the prayer and the mood changed, but I still wanted to run far away from the house. She thanked us and wanted us to come back again to teach her and her family. Definitely a moment in my mission that I won't ever forget. It just amazes me how people here that don't believe in the same thing that we do recognize us has Men of God. Everywhere we go people are kind and offer us food, free rides and most of the time they are not of our faith. That is something I didn't expect coming out here. 

Now for the good news. Remember Sta. Cecilia? The area that Elder T and I opened? Well recently we just got approved to start a group there. We found a vacant hut/home and we will be holding sacrament services there starting in about 2 weeks. The only priesthood members there will be me and Elder T. The area is really progressing but the people are so poor that sometimes they can't make it to church. And in order to get baptized you have to attended church 4 times in row at least. We have a lot people that want to get baptized but they can't make it to Church because it's so far. So starting a group is the first step and over time if we have the success we think we're going to have, they will eventually build a Chapel. I'm so blessed to be here at this time. This is why I wanted to be a missionary. Being in an area where there have never been missionaries before and starting the Church from the ground up. We'll be having Church in a hut from now on! This is like how Church was in the 1830. It's so AWESOME. I love these people so much and I'm grateful I can play a small role in building the Kingdom of God. 

The language is coming along. I'm learning so much and Elder T is really pushing me, but the thing is in my area there so many other dialects. In some lessons we have to bring certain members because some people we teach don't know Tagalog either hahaha. That makes two of us. 

I hope y'all are doing okay. Sounds like Brennan is really busy! Brennan read Chapter 8 in Preach My Gospel, I think it will help you mange your time. I hope your knee gets better but until then work on that upper body of yours ;) And what's this I hear about you making the Improve team? Send me money too. How many views does the prom video have now?

Maddie, how in the world do you fail an eye exam WITH YOUR GLASSES ON? You never seize to amaze me. I know middle school sucks. Hang in there and just rememeber who you are. You don't have to worry about math you don't need that for the rest of your life. Love ya.

Donovan my man! How's wrestling? Sounds like you're doing good! Keep working hard and listen to your couches. Listen to dad too. If you want to get really good ask dad for help. He'll make a workout plan for you. Keep doing good in school. I love you Donovan.

Siders<3<3<3 I hear your a goalie now? Good choice on positions, that's the easiest one;) I hope school is going okay and I want you to know I love you so much. 

Em<3 My mini me. Thank you for tormenting our siblings. It's almost like I never left. Listen to mom and dad. I love you so much and I miss you. Don't worry I'll be home soon. 

Mom thanks for emailing and keeping me updated. Sounds like you're not a total emotional wreak without me. Thanks for everything mom. And don't worry I won't get sent home...everyone finds my jokes funny ;) 

Bishop Strader. Here in the Philippines they really struggle with home teaching but they do this once a month to compensate. It's called a "One day mission." It's when members and missionaries meet on a Saturday and split up in groups and go visit less actives that are in the area. So out of nowhere like 15 people show up at their house talking to them and extended there love. It has been really effective here. I don't if you want to do something like in the Champions Ward. 

Dad, I really wish you were with me. Specifically when people ask us hard questions and I don't know the answer. I think I took it for granted sometimes of your vast knowledge of the gospel. Thank you for always being a good example and for honoring your priesthood. Thanks for always being there. 


I love you all! Endure to the End! The Church is true! Till we meet again! Send me pis of the family!

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

Family,

I have good news and bad news. Good news is that Sister Trina was baptized and it was an awesome experience. Bad news was that it wasn't in the ocean. Yeah I'm still bitter about that. I swear I better baptize someone in river or something before I leave. 

I've tried so much weird food. I remember mom trying to make me eat her enchiladas because when I'm on my mission I'm going have to eat gross food. Let's just say I'll eat enchiladas any day. I finally tried "bulot." Look it up. I'll throw up again if I talk about it. 

Gosh I'm loving it here. I know my area really well now. I know most of everyone's name, which I thought was never going to happen. My Tagalog is really progressing and I'm almost done with my training. I truly love all the people we teach. I love the members in the Aringay Branch. The members go out with us and it really has strengthened my testimony that this church is true. We had an experience this week;

Elder T and I found these 2 moms, Sister Jenny and Sister Carol. They both have kids and are good friends. We've been teaching them for about 2 weeks and Sister Jenny is planning on getting baptized in December. Well we've been trying to get them to go to church but because of financial problems and peer pressure from there friends they haven't gone. Well on Tuesday we brought Sister L from the branch to come with us to teach. Now Sister L is a no-nonsense, God fearing woman, loving and full of spunk. She's worked 3 jobs to get her kids on missions and she's such a strength for our small struggling branch. Sister Lorenzo brought her 2 friends with her, Sister J and Sister L. So for our lesson we showed the the Restoration DVD and afterwards, Elder T and I just lost control of the teaching situation. Sister L, Sister J, and Sister L taught Sister Jenny and Carol. They were saying things like,"Sister this is true, and it's for you!" "Sister come to church, I'm in the primary we'll take care of your kids." "Sister come sit with my family at church on Sunday." (of course this in all Tagalog) As a missionary my heart was touched. So after all these invitations we found out the real problem of Sister Jenny and Sister Carol not going to church. They told us that they don't have any church clothes or any nice clothes in general that would be presentable to go to church. Sister L then went and grabbed Sister Carol's hand and said,"Sister you don't have worry about anything. I have plenty of blouses and skirts at my house. You and Sister Jenny come over and we'll take care of you." It was hard to keep in the tears at this point. That's better then what Elder T could have done. I was full of gratitude of Sister L's service and example of charity. Every member is a missionary. Moments like that makes the mission worth it.

I'm grateful to be a missionary here in the Philippines. These people have taught me so much. The Lord is involved in this great work. People are being prepared. There are so many people out there are looking for the truth and have questions of soul but, they don't know where to find it. I bear testimony of Jesus Christ that He is our Savior. I know that God is a God of miracles. Not just in the Bible but today as well. I've seen them. We have a prophet of God and the proper authority, His Priesthood. I'm grateful for the tender mercies and many unworthy blessings I have received. I found in a scripture in Jacob 2:8 and it talks about the "pleasing word of God," and how it can "heal the wounded soul." That's why I'm here. To find those people who have wounded souls and give them the antidote. I'm grateful for all of you. Thank you for your prayers. Keep doing the little things. I'll be home before you know it but I have work to do. Till we meet again. 

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader



P.S. I'll probably Skype y'all on Dec. 26. But that's Christmas for you. I'll let you know more of the details when I figure them out. 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 17, 2014

Family,

Hahahhahahahaha I love you those pictures. Mom and Dad I swear you always have the best costumes every year. I don't know if you can keep this up every year. Brennan how was homecoming?! Hey I have an idea? How about you learn how to make another funny face and you might get more friends? Maddie how's Charlie? 

Yeah emails would be way better. So I can read them every week. Here with dear elders, I don't receive them at least a couple weeks later. Everything is sent to the mission office and I'm about 3 hours away from the mission office. And that's where you have to send packages. No one has addresses here. The houses/buildings aren't numbered. We have neighborhoods but no exact addresses. Hahaha so if you want to send packages send it the mission office and I'll get it. 

Things are going great! We have a baptism this Sunday! Her name is Trina M and she asked me if I would baptize her. And there's 50% chance she will get baptized in the ocean....I want to baptize someone in the ocean so bad. hahaha

My Tagalog is progressing....least I hope. Elder T sometimes is really surprised of some of the things I say in lessons hahaha. I really love Aringay. The rice field's here are beautiful. The view when I wake up. The clouds! The sky looks like a painting every day. I'm truly blessed to be in this area. I love the people. Filipinos are some of the most respectful and kindest people I've ever met. People feed us, non members and members, all the time. My workouts are more intense everyday, not to be fit but just to look the same hahaha. We have a new elder in our area, Elder G, and we both run 2 miles everyday and work out together. I'm getting stronger and I'm pretty sure I'm growing because I feel taller....or maybe it's because everyone is really short here. And I didn't think it was possible for my calves to get bigger....but we walk everywhere, ALL the time. And in Elder T and I's area we teach a lot of people in the mountains. 

I wish I could take more pictures. I wish I could show you more. But sometimes it's not appropriate. 

I love y'all and you're always in my prayers. I want you all to know, that I know without a doubt this church is true. the Book of Mormon can heal the wounded soul and bring peace in your life. I know that God loves ALL His children and His hand is in this work. I'm not perfect, far from it, I don't know Tagalog but I believe I've been called by a prophet of God and that families can be together forever. See y'all in 2 years

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader



P.S. Here are some pics of those trikes I was telling you about before. This how most of the people get around here. 





Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014





Dear Family,

Things are crazy. There's this area that we teach and it's called Sta. Celcila. We're the first missionaries in that area and there are only two member families that live there. And Elder T and I are making quite an impression hahaha. Everywhere we go people want to talk to me and hear my Tagalog and buy me food. Elder T was just made district leader and we're having a lot of success. It's crazy how the Lord prepares people for us to share this wonderful message. 

How's my Tagalog you might be asking? Hinid ko alam (I don't know) I can't speak that well but my understanding has really progressed. I understand most of the time when people talk. It's definitely God teaching me a lesson that I need to listen before I speak....probably should have learned that lesson a long time ago haha. 

I love the branch I'm serving in. I started a branch choir and we have a talent show planned at the end of this month. My piano skills have gotten a lot better because I play all the time for church. Elder T is great and we get a long fine. There have been so many funny moments...I don't have time to type them all. In one lesson, we were teaching the Apostasy and the Restoration. Maybe I was feeling the Spirit or maybe I was getting really excited because I started shouting in English, "Jesus's church is back my brother, yes sir it's back and it's got prophets and apostles and all we're waiting for is you!" And what is even more funny is that he didn't even understand me because it was in English hahaha. 

I'm learning so much everyday and I already know this mission is going to fly by fast. I'm trying to work hard everyday and be obedient and try to find those funny moments. I miss you all and I love you so much. Hang in there while I'm gone and don't miss me too much. The church is true!

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November 5, 2014

Family,

Another crazy week. I'm half done with my training. The time is starting to fly by. I still don't know Tagalog but my understanding has increased like crazy. I love the people here and I love being a missionary. Mom thank you those Dear Elders. It's good to hear what everyone is doing. Here are some answers to some of your questions;

-Our apartment is nice (compared to other areas) but we don't have clean water, air conditioning, oven, microwave. I mostly make spaghetti every night. The elders that stay in my apartment call it the, "Strader Spaghetti Special." But most of the time Elder T and I do a good job getting dinner appointments.
-One of the many things that I didn't expect was what people do with there trash. They don't have garbage companies here so everyone just dumps there trash in there front yard and burns it. Like a huge trashy bon-fire. I thought with time I would get used to the smell but I was wrong. 
-I wash my clothes my hand and honestly I don't mind it. 
-Everything is SO cheap here.
-There are no stop signs and traffic lights and everyone drives on the wrong side of the road ALL the time. The way we get around if we're not walking we take a "trike." Which is motorcycle with a enclosed cab attached to the side. I kidd you not when I say they fit about in average of 8 Filipinos on these small trikes. 
-I play piano for the branch every Sunday and I'm starting a branch choir

Email me with any more questions! And tell me how everyone is doing!

Christmas/Birthday List:
-AA batteries (they are actually insanely expensive here)
-If you're going to send money send cash not through my debt card. Hide the money somewhere in the package. PUT PICTURES OF THE VIRGIN MARY ON THE PACKAGE. No one will steal something out of it if you do. A lot people are Catholic. 
-Honestly mostly money because I can get things here way cheaper. 
-Mom and Dad could you send some church DVDs? I really would like the Doctrine and Covenants one with Restoration video, The Stone cutter one, ect. And also the Bible videos, and the Testaments movie. I would love those for Christmas. And it's okay for us to watch it as long as it's produced by the Church. 


I hope everything is going well home! I'm loving it here! I love y'all!

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014

Mom, (Here is your small letter for the Relief Society)

Kumusta ka champions ward! I miss my ladies and I hope y'all don't miss me too much. ;) I've learned so much in the short amount time I've been on my mission. The Philippines is so beautiful. The people are the most kind and loving people I've ever met. I'm in Aringay and on the church records their are supposed to be over 2000 members but, only 150 go to church. So obviously our main focus is retention or find the "lost one" or in our case the "lost one(s)." Why are their so many less active people, you might ask? Well, I've asked that same thing. I've been in their homes and this is what I've observed.

 First off, it all comes down to pride. Pride is the foundation of all sin. A lot of members have been offended and left the church. When leaders try to correct mistakes people take it personally and leave. 

 The other common problem is the poverty. Some people literally can't afford to come to church or take a day off from work or they won't be able to feed their families. I'm not being dramatic when I say this. I have seen some horrible things that I really didn't expect to see. Living conditions that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I've been in these so called,"homes," and these families give me and my companion food and they just watch us eat because their wasn't enough for them. These people aren't sure walking 8 miles to church is worth it or not. And because of their living situation they doubt if there really is a God. 

 And finally the most common problem, these people are not "converted." They were baptized and/or possibly raised in the church. These people have testimonies but they're not converted. Here's the difference. 
  
Testimony-is believing that something is true (for example they believe the Book of Mormon is true).

Converted-is believing something is true and CONSISTENTLY doing it EVERYDAY

This is a big problem in church in the Philippines and all around the world. Member's neglect to do the little things. The simple things we learned in primary or seminary. These members aren't willing to make those "sacrifices," or "endure to the end," because they aren't, "converted unto the Lord." There are countless examples of this in the scriptures. Those people who didn't, "cling to the iron rod," or they remembered God only when times were bad but when things were going good He seems to have slipped into the back of our minds. 

So how does this apply to the champions ward or us? Sisters don't forget the small things. The children of Israel wouldn't look at Moses's staff and be healed because they thought it was "too easy" or "too simple" to really make a difference. Well it does. Out of those 150 member's in my small little branch 3/4's of them are very poor. They walk the 5 miles to church and they pay their tithing because if you really are CONVERTED unto the Lord, then you'll sacrifice anything to come unto Him.

I heard a inspiring quote on my mission it states;
         "...the Lord is easy to please but, hard to satisfy..." 

I wish our church was easy. I wish we could go on Sunday and say Hosanna and Praise the Lord and go home and do the same bad things we did before. But that's not how it works with Jesus Christ's church. We have to work at it everyday. Remember when Christ taught, "if you love me keep my commandments." What are our actions saying to the Lord. Why is it hard to be a missionary or a latter day saint? Because salvation isn't cheap. Sometimes we forget what is really at stake here. So sisters lets "not waste the Lords time" or "procrastinate our probation." Do the little things. Read your scriptures, magnify your calling, have charity, endure to the end and pray to your Father in Heaven because he is waiting for you. I know as we put our trust in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and become truly converted unto the Lord...we will never fall away.  

Love,

Elder Strader 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

Family,

Sorry I don't have a lot time but I promise I'll email a longer message next week. So much has happened. We had our first baptism as a companionship and it's only my first cycle! Her name is Sister Unica Borja and she's in a part member family. Elder T baptized her and I confirmed her during sacrament meeting at church. I can't express in words of how nervous I was, but it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. I have no idea what I was going to say before and I don't remember what I said during the blessing. But I'm so grateful for the Spirit and the Priesthood. Elder T and I are teaching so many lessons and are leading the zone. Elder T is an awesome trainer and is pushing me to be better. My Tagalog is coming hahaha at least I hope so. I love y'all and you're in my prayers every night. I hope everything is going okay with school, wrestling, work, ect. I love and miss you all.

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

P.S. - Here are some pictures! A lady we teach has a pet monkey but it has rabies and bites people. There's this little girl who act's just like Emyrie and it makes me sad. I showed her a picture of Emyrie and she loved it. I use my photo album a lot in lessons especially when we talked about families can be together forever. It's beautiful here. I wish I could take more pictures but it's really rude to take a picture during a lesson. And here's a really weird looking fruit, that is the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. I'm loving it here!









Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 13, 2014

Family,

Sorry I don't have time to type today but I want you to know that I'm doing great. Elder T and I have been blessed with a lot of success and we have some baptisms coming up. The members here really like me and the Young Women attendance in church has doubled. I wonder why. I see miracles everyday. The church here really relies on the missionaries more then in the States. They think we know everything...I'm not kidding. We as missionaries take care of issues that the Branch President should be doing but the thing is...we're (the missionaries) the only ones that know how to do things correctly. It's pretty intimidating for me as a 18 year old American teaching older Priesthood holders basic doctrine and ordinances. I honestly believe my whole life has prepared me for this. 

We have 4000 members in Aringay on paper but only 100 go to church on Sunday. That's why it's still a branch. And there's only 6 missionaries in this area. So we teach a lot of less active people. And the root of all there problems is that they don't do the little things and pride. Brennan, Maddie, Donovan I hope you read your scriptures everyday. I hope you say your prayers morning and night. I hope the Strader family has family prayer every night and daily scripture study. I promise you it will bless you and our family and give you that daily protection. Thank you for everything you have taught me. Y'all are in my prayers every night. I love you all so much. Don't worry the time will fly by fast and I'll be home soon. 


Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7, 2014

Family,

Where do I start? I'm just loving my area. Elder T and I are having a lot of success together and have some baptisms coming up. I love the members here and the our investigators. A couple of days ago, Elder T and I were leaving our apartment and a bunch of school girls walked by (probably around the age 14). They all started to yell at me, "Hey One Direction!" I got that a lot back home so I wasn't really surprised. 

The language is coming along. Elder T has been great helping me with my Tagalog and I'm learning alot. Speaking of Elder T he's "astig!" (awesome) We've gotten along really well and been having so much fun. He's such a powerful teacher and  he has taught me so much. We had an awesome experience last week;

We were walking by and decided to visit a less active. Her name was Sister Lordes and she was in her late 60's and hasn't been to church in years. So we come by and start talking to her, introducing me and asking how she is. Well Sisiter Lordes leaves to make us some food and her grandson, Juan, starts to talk to us. Juan just was recently married and he and his wife just had their first baby. Well the baby has been having these repository problems and this poor 2 month old baby can't breathe on it's own most of the time. Well obviously Juan and his wife can't afford to take their baby to the hospital. Juan told us that they've had witch doctors come over (at first I thought he was joking but I guess that's a real thing) and they've have tried everything but their baby is still really sick. Elder T explained to Juan about the Priesthood. He explained how it's the power of God and as representatives of Jesus Christ we hold it and we are to use it to serve others. The look on this new, desperate father's face just broke my heart. He didn't know what to do and here are some Mormon Missionaries, that he hasn't met before, offering to give his new baby boy a blessing. He brought us in their small house that literally didn't have much of a roof. Juan explained what was going on to his wife, and in the corner we see the baby trying to sleep. In my broken Tagalog I told Juan and his wife if they have faith that their baby will be healed that through the grace of God, he would. And with that we anointed and blessed the baby. Elder T gave a beautiful blessing in Tagalog and though I didn't understand it, the Spirit was so strong. When we furnished, Juan's wife was crying and we shook their hands and left. We didn't come back in that area until another 4 or 5 days. We stopped by their house. Juan's wife came out holding the baby. I started to tear up when I saw how happy the baby was. His eyes were open and we was making those happy baby sounds. Juan's wife said that the next morning the baby decided to get better. She didn't really recognize the fact that it was the Priesthood that healed her boy. This really surprised me. Maybe I thought she was going to come to us and beg to be baptized. But it doesn't really matter to me. That was a miracle. I was there and I witnessed it. God is involved in our lives today and miracles still happen today. This experience might not have strengthen this little family's faith but it sure did mine. And I'm eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for letting me being apart of that and exercising the Priesthood that I hold. 

I've literally eaten chicken feet, goat's meet/intestines, and fish eyeballs. People feed us rice and when I look inside there are literally ants in them. I just eat it and smile....and then get seconds to be respectful. I have seen spiders that give me nightmares every night. I have seen poverty that I know that I won't ever forget. This mission has changed me forever. 

I'm loving it here. Don't get me wrong this is the hardest thing I've ever done. Sometimes I feel like I can't do it or I can't learn this language but I know I can through the atoning power of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I've learned so much about Him and myself. I love the Filipino people. I love this gospel. I love y'all. You're in my prayers. 

Your Valiant Missionary,

 Elder Strader

P.S. Here are some pictures; We were cleaning out our apartment and we found this huge mound under the stairs..It's a huge termite nest. IN OUR APARTMENT WHERE WE SLEEP. THOUSANDS OF TERMITES. We told our landlady and she just gave us a machete and shovel and gasoline to kill the termites. It's going to be a long 2 years




Monday, September 29, 2014

FAMILY,
So much has happened and I don't know where to start. The Manila MTC was awesome. We got to go the temple and the local missionaries from Manila took some of us to go teach downtown Manila. I can't express to you how intense that was. I've never seen so much people and poverty in my life. All the Filipino children kept running up at me and wanting to touch my white skin hahaha. I think that's when the culture shock hit me. We taught a few lessons, all in Tagalog, so naturally I had no idea what was going on, but I had so much fun. We were only in the Manila MTC for 5 days and then I left with the other 15 missionaries on the 6 hour bus ride to Baguio. Hey guess what? BAGUIO ISN'T COLD. Yeah I found that out the hard way. It's only cold if your assigned to Baguio City itself. But the mission Baguio....is hot/humid like no other. We met President Balledos and he's just awesome. In my interview he told me that he's going to need my leadership skills later and if I work hard everything will work out. President Balledos asked me if there was anything I wanted. I told him I wanted a Filipino companion. And now that takes us to Elder T...

Elder T. is my first companion/trainer. And he is a Filipino. What else can I say about him? With Elder Tating, there is a lot of "small talk." Sometimes in our lessons he can "short" with me. And I wouldn't consider him a, "larger then life" kinda guy. Okay I'm down. Elder T. is short. But so are all Filipinos. Hahaha I love him so much. He speaks really good English and is REALLY obedient. At the Transfer Meeting where we get assigned our trainer, when I was put with Elder T., all the other missionaries freaked out. Because apparently I was getting trained by a legend. Elder T. has only been out for 3 months but his trianer, Elder S., is now a legend in Baguio. Here's some background. Elder S. became district leader after 3 months, then was made Zone Leader and then worked in the office, where then became a Assistant to the President (AP) and he was an AP for over a year. Which is crazy. And all the missionaries here loved Elder S. Well when it came down to his last 3 months before he was going to go home. Elder S. asked if he could train before he left and President Balledos said yes. So he trained one elder. Elder T. And they killed it. Elder T. is already awesome but with Elder S. skills they had a lot success together. So I had no idea about this obviously. So when I was assigned to Elder T. to train me, even though he's only been out for 3 months that show's you how awesome he is, everyone was freaked out and said I was really lucky. And I am so lucky to have Elder T. He's been helping me with my Tagalog and adjusting with everything else. Elder T. is amazed by my work ethnic and the fact that I don't need much sleep and wake up early. Hahaha And he finds it really funny that I literally say hi to everyone, even though I have no idea how to speak Tagalog. And Elder Tating is smart. 

My first area and the area we're at right now is called, "Aringay." And lets just say there haven't been much Americans or white people in this area. So me walking around has been the talk of this small town. We walk by and I just start talking to people and they invite us in their home because they've never talked to an American before and then once we're in their home, Elder T. starts to teach hahaha. It's pretty effective. I get us in the home and Elder T. teaches them. Speaking of lessons, our lessons have been so awesome! Elder T. is such an awesome teacher. There are so many less-actives in our area and that's the majority of who we teach. A lot of the Filipino's have a basic understanding of English because, they watch English/American movies here in the Philippines. They can't speak it well but most of them can undertsand a little bit. Which has been really good for me. Tagalog is still a struggle but I'm learning more with Elder T. There's also another dialect that's really common in my area that I have to start learning. It's called, "Linnacano." Yeah that's the last thing I need is to learn another language. Oh and it's not that similar to Tagalog. The church is true.
   
One thing that is really funny with the Filipinos is that EVERYONE has a cellphone. And I mean everyone. We walk by these huts and ragged homes but there sitting outside talking to someone on there iPhone. I'm not joking. Most Filipinos are really worldly. They are content with there poverty and instead of saving money and trying to make a better life they buy cell phones and what not. The Philippines is the No. 1 texting country in the world. Look it up.
  
The lessons have been great and I've never felt the Spirit so strong. These people here have such faith. The members here are so awesome and have welcomed me with open arms. And who told me that I was going to lose weight here? Well they're liars. Every time we walk by people, members or not, invite us in there homes for a meal or snack. It's just how they do it here. Even though they don't believe in our religion they recognize us has representatives of Jesus Christ and they respect that. People go to the local markets and buy us soft drinks and snacks. Yeah there's no why I'm losing weight.They don't use toilet paper here in the Philippines. I won't go in depth. Let's just say that has been a major adjustment. 

Last night we were teaching this family of 6 daughters outside their home, the Plan of Salvation. Well it started to rain use we squeezed together on their tiny porch for cover. I took out my Plan of Salvation pieces and taught the Plan of Salvation on the floor. I tried to use the little Tagalog that I knew but the Spirit was so strong. This is what I pictured my mission being. Here I am under this hut with this Filipino family, while it's pouring outside, teaching the gospel. I swear I could this forever.

I wish I can say more but we got things to do. I love you all. More now then ever. I want you to know that God loves His children and we're not alone. The Atonetment is real. I believe in the power of prayer. The Book of Mormon can bring more peace into your life then anything in the whole world. Keep me in your prayers and I love you all.
Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

Dear Family,

I leave next Thursday. I swear I haven't learned anything. Just kidding...but really though. It really did go by so fast. So many things have happened that it's so hard to keep track. 

I'm loving it here at the MTC. I'm leaning so much EVERYDAY. And I've grown such a stronger relationship with my Heavenly Father. I love my disrtict and my zone. I have both zone leaders in my district (that's how awesome my district is) and with me being the district leader there has been so conflict hahaha. Because I'm the district leader and both zone leaders are in my disrtict I still have power over them therefore I have power over the whole zone. I have given myself the title, "District Leader of the Zone." I mostly by fear and intimidation. Hahaha it's so funny. Everyone finds it really funny and respects my authority. When I say I run this place...it's true. I'm not perfect with the language yet but I've learned that the Lord doesn't want "perfect misisonaries" all He wants is "committed missionaries." And that is something I can do. 

And for me calling next week. We get at the Salt Lake airport at like 6:30am and our flight to Oregon doesn't leave until like 11am. (so probably like 1pm for y'all) and then we have like an hour layover in Oregon, then we fly to Japan. So I'll probably be calling around 8-10am around that time. I'm still really not sure how everything is going to work. And I can only call 3 times so I have to make them count. So I know the kids have school so I don't know how you're going to work that out but I'll let you know if I have any more info. I'll probably call Dad's phone because I know he'll actually answer. 

It's really hard leaving my family and friends. But here's a cool qoute that you can put on my blog if you want. ;)

                            "...a missionary leaves his family for a while so others can be with their families forever..." 

Something like that. I love you all and I can't wait to talk to you soon! 

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

Saturday, September 6, 2014


September 6, 2014


This week has gone by so fast. I GOT MY TRAVEL PLANS. It's so real now, even more then before. I fly out to Portland, OR and then me and like 25 other missionaries fly out to Japan. From there we fly to the Manila MTC in the Philippines. I'll be there for about 5 days and then I'll take like a 7 hour bus ride to Baguio. I'm so pumped. And I found out that while I'm at the airport, I have permission to call home! I'm not sure for how long yet but I can whoever I want! 

Mom thank you so much for the horse head. I got it yesterday and I've had a lot of fun with it in our apartment. You know me so well. Oh and that Dear Elder wasn't even funny. At all. You're making it REALLY easy to not miss home.  

On Thursday, me and Elder H------ taught a Filipino member from the Philippines on Skype. It was so much fun and humbling.  She told me not to worry about my missing my family. She said that all the ladies there take care of the missionaries. She said, "We'll be your extended family and your second moms." That definitely gave me a lot of comfort. I'm just really excited to go and serve them.

The language is coming. We're not allowed to bring notes in our lessons that teach everyday now. We just bring scriptures and pray that the Spirit will tell us what to say....in Tagalog. It sounds hard but I've already felt the Spirit so strong in our lessons and have said some things in broken Tagalog on my own that I thought I wouldn't ever be able to say in a million years. #giftoftongues #yoso

YOSO has spread throughout my branch and it is commonly used. But White Cheddar is famous in the MTC now. Hahaha. Thank you so much for the pictures! Gosh it makes me miss home. Love you guys so much. 

Not a lot to report. The days are so long and packed but the weeks fly by so fast. There have been a lot of funny moments and spiritual ones too. I'm loving it here. I miss sleep though....not gonna lie.

Please keep sending Dear Elders everyday if you can and keep me updated of what's going on. This the only time you're gonna have this opportunity before I go the Philippines.

Oh We got this new elder in our zone and his name is, Elder M-----, and he lived in California and I asked if he knew the Hinginos....AND HE DID! They're in his home ward. He said he was inactive and because of JeK--- and J----, he's serving a mission now. They set such a good example to him and brought him back in the gospel. It's crazy how that happens. I thought you'd liked to hear that one. I've ran into buddies from EFY and Sister C---------, Elder B---- and some others from our stake. 

I played a special music number in church last Sunday. I made a special arrangement of Be Still My Soul and two elders in my district sang it in Tagalog while I played. It was so awesome. 

I hope school and everything is going okay and y'all are in my prayers!

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August 30, 2014

Gosh the weeks are just flying. I get my flight plan next week and I just found out that I go straight to the Manila MTC and stay for 5 days once I get in the Philippines. I'm so pumped for that. I leave Sep. 18. Wow what has happened? It's hard to remember because all the days mesh together. I accomplished one of my goals, which was to memorize the First Vision in Tagalog and I recited it in one of our lessons. The Spirit was so strong and it had a real effect on our investigator. Last week we had 27 new elders added to our zone. Now we have 52 missionaries in our Branch going to the Philippines. Out of the 52, 5 of us are going to Baguio. Every Friday our building has, "Free Style Friday" and lets just say White Cheddar made a special appearance once or twice. I'm not joking, I'm a legend here at the MTC. A lot of random elders call me Elder Cheddar.  A huge crowd gathers on the 2nd floor and some elders rap against each other....and then me and my zone walk in. Everyone starts yelling, "get out of the way white cheddar is here." Good thing I made up some raps before coming to the MTC. I knew something like this was going to happen. Hahaha

B-------MEMORIZE YOUR SCRIPTURE MASTERY! I'm trying to memorize all these scriptures in Tagalog but I have to waste time memorizing it in English first. As much as I hate to say it....dad is right. We do need to have these memorized for our mission. Start now Brennan. Once you're on your mission,you'll learn time is precious, and you can't waste the Lord's time.

This last Wednesday my district and I hosted the new missionaries coming which blew my mind because I feel like I just got here. But I've almost been here a month so that makes me a veteran I guess.....everyday here feels like a eternity but in a good way. The language is coming and I can definitely tell a difference in our lessons that we teach. Elder H------ and I are a lot better at answering questions. One of our lessons we were trying to give a Book of Mormon to our investigator, A----, but she wouldn't take it. She said, "I don't have any money to give to you to but this book." For some reason we both had NO idea what she was saying. We thought she wasn't willing or didn't want to read it. And that wasn't going to stand right with me because we just gave a kick butt lesson on how that same book is going to bless her life. After about of 15 minutes of me lecturing and telling her to humble herself, we finally figured out what she was trying to tell us and we felt really bad. We told her the book was for her and it didn't cost anything but a open heart and a commitment that she would read it. Gosh I can't wait tell I can speak/understand this language.

Last week in TRC. TRC is where we teach return missionaries for like 20 minutes. We teach 2 lessons back to back, all in Tagalog. I honestly love it so much because it's not the same pressure of teaching an investigator. This week, Elder H------ and I taught this Filipino  lady, Sister K------, and she was full Filipino and honestly it was kinda intimidating because we're gonna teach people like her. But when we knocked on the door and introduced ourselves I decided to go a different door approached. I said, "Ako po si Elder Guapo. Jokelang. Ako po si Elder Strader." Which translates, "My name is Elder Good looking. Just kidding. It's Elder Strader." She could not stop laughing. Even after when we were trying to teach our lesson, she'd remember what I said earlier and start laughing. I made few other jokes in Tagalog that I made up and it gave me confidence that I could still be funny, even in Tagalog. Sister K-------- afterwards told my teacher that the people in the Philippines are going to love me. Well let's hope so. I'm loving it here.

I had an elder this week get really sick and asked for me to give him a blessing.It's probably the 4th blessing I given here. I put my church clothes on and said a prayer and did my best through the Spirit. He was completely better the next day. My testimony and faith grows stronger everyday day and I'm grateful for this opportunity to be here.

Emyrie-I love you so much and I pray every night that you'll be okay and that you won't forget about me. I love you so much and someday you'll understand why I'm gone.

 Love you all! 

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

 P.S.  #YOSO
August 23, 2014 

Well a lot has happened. Last week I was called by my branch president to be called District Leader. And lets just say it makes co-chair of youth conference a walk in the park. As surprising as this sounds I have been so humbled by this opportunity and it has taught me so much. I love my district so much and it's been an honor to be their leader. As a district we strive for perfect obedience and I have seen it's blessings. But we have a lot fun along the way. The MTC is hard and really stressful but my sense of humor has never let me down. At first I felt like I couldn't be a good district leader because my whole district is full of awesome leaders so I asked for a blessing from my district. One of the most spiritual moments of my life having 9 missionaries in a circle giving me a blessing of counsel and comfort and feeling their priesthood power. 

Now for the language. hahaha....actually when does the gift of tongues kick in? Kidding. But really. I'm learning so much and we're at the point that we're teaching 2 investigators a day in Tagalog. All I'm saying is I would make a killer nursery leader in the Philippines because my lessons are about that same level. I love this language but it's frustrating that I can't teach and explain as well as I know I could in English. I want to answer their questions and testify to them that I know its true....but when I say it in Tagalog sometimes it sounds really choppy and like 2 year talking. I sorta envy the English speaking missionaries but I know more than ever that this language and mission call is for me. Everytime me and Elder H------ teach our simple lessons the Spirit is so strong. And I've learned through simplicity there is power. (you can quote me on that...I made it up #yoso) Next week we're gonna start skyping a member from the Philippines and teach them the lessons. So pumped for that. I've had a personal goal to memorize the First Vision in Tagalog and my district is amazed of my progress (I have like half of it memorized). I know the gift of tongues is real but on a whole new level. I don't just wake up and speak fluently but I can retain words and phrases with ease. I can see the words in my head as if they were a picture. It's crazy. (I wish I had that for spanish 3) Our district is way ahead of everyone else in our zone when it comes to the language. Some words like "opo" (yes) and "mabuti" (good) are like muscle memory now. I can feel the Spirit work through me and the feeling is addicting. I love the MTC but I want to go to the field so bad. 


Tell the family I love them. I miss you all so much but I try not to think about it a lot because it makes me sad and homesick. I hope everyone is getting ready for school. I'm just really sad that I'm going to miss a lot things that is going to happen in everyone's lives. I love you all and I feel your prayers and I need them so much. Gosh Emyrie.....please give her a hug and a kiss for me. Tell her I'm be back soon and I'm doing what Jesus wants me to do. 

 Keep me in your prayers and hearts and I love you all so much! 

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Pops,

I'm literally in heaven. The MTC is amazing. My district is so awesome and we're all super close. My companion is Elder H------ from Arizona and he's great(he's going to Baguio too, along with 3 others). We get a long really well and we both dominate together at beach volleyball. Tagalog is kicking my butt as expected and we're stuck in a small classroom for like 8 hours a day, but I've learned so much in just a few days...the gift of tongues is real. Our teacher is awesome except the fact she only speaks Tagalog and not a word of English. It's been hard but it's making us better....I think. Elder H------ and I taught our first investigator last night....in Tagalog. We had to plan a 15 minute lesson in Tagalog and teach this random lady and we've been in the MTC for 2 days.Even though I'm pretty sure she didn't understand a word we said, I can't express to you how strong the Spirit was. The whole time in mind I could hear my teacher say, "Kaya ninyo!" which is "You can do it!" That's pretty much the only thing we understand from our teacher. Before coming here I heard it's amazing when all the missionaries sing "Called to Serve" together, and it was powerful...but when my small district and I sang Called to Serve for the first time in Tagalog...it brought me to tears. To me and my district it had more of an impact. In a short time I've grown a love for this language, it's so beautiful and I'm learning so much. I can pray in complete Tagalog now and get by with some small talk. And I know without a doubt it's because of the Spirit and the Lord's help. Our district really support and help each other as well. I have an awesome branch president, President H------, he was actually the first missionary in Baguio in the 70's. I'm working as hard as I can and following every rule and I'm having a great time. You guys are in my prayers and I miss y'all so much. Please send my love to the family. It's hard, but Strader's do hard things. I'm ready for the challenge. "Send my another mountain!"

Naniniwala po ako si JesuCristo! 
(I believe in Jesus Christ)

You're valiant missionary,
Elder Strader

P.S. Tell Brennan and Jace I made a new saying and now it's my districts motto. It's like YOLO (you only live once) but into YOSO (you only serve once) It means when it comes to missionary work put yourself out there if you know the language or not. You only serve once! Make every moment count! Haha I love it. 
P.S.S Tell mom to hang in there and I'll give her a big hug when I get home <3