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 aand 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,