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


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


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 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 cut me down. 

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 1, 2014


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