Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I can't keep track of time. Sorry I have a short email but I'll write more next week. 

It was a really good week. We didn't as many lessons this week as we usually do but they were awesome lessons. It reminded me of my Little Caesars days. Our motto then was, "Quality over Quantity." Hahaha good times. 

Elder R is freaking hilarious but he has NO idea. I've only seen him smile about 4 times so far which really surprises me because I have said a lot of funny things these last 6 weeks. I'm half way done training him and I'm a proud father/trainer. Elder R is a huge example to me. We are complete opposites when it comes to personalities, but what a blessing. I've learned more about patience from Elder R in these short weeks then I have my whole life. He works hard and doesn't complain. I swear he has ice in his veins. I've yet to make him laugh...I don't know how he's last this long. Challenge accepted. I'm learning so much more Tagalog and Elder R has played a huge role in that. We both work hard and we're having a great time. 

We have 4 elders in my apartment. 3 of us are American and then there's Elder R. The Branch calls us "One Direction," because we're all extremely handsome and these are the most Americans they've ever had at one time. 

The Group in Sta. Cecilia is struggling. The Branch President told me if I don't get more investigators there that he is going to close the group. It killed me when I heard that, If it happens I don't know what I would do. I'm trying my best but sometimes I feel way over my head. I love these people so much and it will break my heart if they close the group because of my weaknesses as a missionary. 

Shout out to my best friend, Jace Merrell. He's currently in the Mexico City, MTC. He will serve in the Iowa, Des Moines Spanish speaking Mission. He has a blog and it would be awesome if y'all follow and keep him in your prayers. A care package wouldn't hurt either;) I know he's going to be great missionary. 

I want my family to know that I love them. Thank you mom for being working the behind the scenes of my blog. I want to thank all the emails, letters, packages that everyone has kindly sent me. I wish I had more time to respond to all of you but I don't. Thank you for your prayers. I know this church is true and I'll be home soon.

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I love your emails and hearing how everyone is doing. Y'all are always in my prayers.

What a week. A week filled with a lot of funny moments and heartbreak. Being a missionary we grow so close with the people we teach. And it kills me inside when they don't realize or understand what this gospel can do for them and their families. Being here on my mission has been one of the most happiest and saddest times of my life. 

I'm going to be honest some moments I feel overwhelmed. Being in my first area, being a trainer, district leader, presiding over the Group in Sta. Cecilia, branch choir director (how was I assigned that job?) and not to mention the fact that I sill don't know Tagalog or the other 5 dialects in my area. But I've learned for myself what it means when is says, "Whom the  Lord calls he qualifies." I don't know if I'm fully qualified yet, but I know that a strong work ethic and a little sense of humor can go a long way. Thank goodness I'm not alone in this work. 

I had a very special spiritual experience this week. I'm going to spare the details because of sacredness of the personal experience but I feel prompted to share this. Early this week, Elder R and I were doing our personal study, the sister missionaries called us. They told us that there was a older man in their area who needed a Priesthood blessing ASAP. A member called the sisters and told them to ask if they could get the elders to go right away. Elder Reyes and I left as quickly has we could. We took a bus and trike and finally arrived to the house where Bro D was supposed to be. We arrived at the house not even sure if it was the right house when all these family members and neighbors came out to greet us. We told them we were missionaries and that we're here to give Bro D a blessing. They told us that we were too late and that Bro D was already taken to the hospital and was currently in the ICU. As we we walked away, about to go back home, I felt prompted that we should go to the hospital. Elder R agreed and we took a bus to the hospital. I can't really explain to you what a Filipino hospital looks like but needless to say it's not state of the art. We walked right on in, no security check in's and we walked around not really sure where to go or if Bro D was here or not. We finally found the ICU and what room Bro D was in but only one visitor was allowed. I felt prompted that I needed to go but I left this lump in my stomach. The nurses brought me in, and this was the first time in almost 6 months that I've been alone. They brought me to Bro D's bed. I cannot express in words what I saw. I saw a man on the brink of death, with tubes down his throat, and his body shaking. Thoughts of doubt came into my mind. What am I doing here? I'm just a white Mormon from Spring, Texas. I don't even know this man and he's about to die and I feel like there's really nothing I can do. I was about to turn around and walk back when Bro D's daughter saw me and brought me to his bed side. She has been by his side ever since he was brought to the hospital. She brought me over and yelled really loud to her dad, "Papa Mormons dito." Which means, "Dad the Mormons are here." Bro D couldn't speak and could barley hear. But his eyes were wide open and awake and I could see all the pain he was going through. Bro D blinked acknowledging that he understood and then his daughter left. Now it was just me and Bro D. I can't express the inadequacy I felt in that moment. I had no idea what I was going to say. So among all the chaos of the room, with doctors and nurses running back and forth. I laid my hands on his head and gave him a blessing. I honestly don't really remember what I said. It was a strange feeling of like someone taking the reins from me. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I felt a spiritual electricity go through my body. When I ended the blessing, Bro D was asleep. The shaking had stopped and I felt the Spirit was so strong. There was a feeling of peace more then I felt in my whole life. I was confident that whatever was said or happens's the Lord's will. Bro D died 3 days later.  

I want to bear my testimony that I know we have a loving Heavenly Father and He is very aware of our trials and challenges. He loves us and He knows what is best for us. I'm grateful for the Plan of Salvation.The fact that I know where I came. I know why I'm here. I know where I'm going. How blessed am I to have that kind of knowledge. This is why I'm here to comfort others and share this sweet message. Families can be together forever. I know that now more then ever. I love being a missionary. I'm honored to wear this name tag for a just a short 2 years. I'm His humble servant, though I'm not perfect, I do my best everyday.

And that's all He ask's of me.

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

P.S How can you not like Filipino children? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Family/Friends/My fans/Fellow Filipinos,

First off, I want to thank all of your prayers and emails. I tell you all with a surety that your prayers are felt. There are moments that I feel more strength and energy and I'm not sure where it came from. I want to thank my mom for keeping up with my blog even though she's the busiest woman in the world. Thank you. 

This week has been great. Elder R and I hiked about 3 mountains to go teach some investigators. I feel like I'm fulfilling the scripture when Jesus Christ said something like the gospel will reach all the corners of the Earth and every person will have the opportunity to accept it. What a blessing. Here I am, hiking through this mountain and going out to the middle of nowhere, to teach the restored gospel. I swear this missionary thing never gets old. I tell Elder R that every time the mission seems hard just say to yourself, "I love being a missionary." Well lets just say that Elder Reyes said that a lot on the hike hahaha. 

I'm learning more Tagalog and Ilocano everyday. The food gets more and more interesting haha. 

I want my family to know that I love and miss y'all so much. I try to work everyday so that the Lord will bless my family through my service. Maddie I pray that you'll do well on your math and quizzes. Donovan I pray that you'll get up those good grades and keep tearing it up in wrestling. Sydnie, I pray that you won't grow up because I want to stay my cute little sister. Brennan I pray that the Lord will extend you a "helping hand." (okay technically you broke your arm but come know I'm funny) but really I pray that you'll be able to balance all the crazy things of school and be able to heal quickly. Emyrie I love you so much and I pray that you won't forget that I'm your favorite brother. Wow, that's a lot of prayers. I love y'all and I know this Church is true or I wouldn't be out here. I'll see you y'all soon.

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Monday, January 5, 2015


Wow what a week. So much has happened. Some good things, some bad things. I had a wonderful New Years, full of Filipino food and homesickness. My district leader was sent home because of disobedience and I was made district leader, while I'm still training. It's kinda hard because most of the missionaries in my district have been out longer then me and actually know the language haha. But I'm honestly grateful for the opportunity. It was really sad to see that elder go home but it was a big wake up call for me. It wasn't like I was disobedient before but, it showed me that being a missionary is a sacred privilege and I'm not here because of me. I'm here for the Lord and his people. This experience testified that, "many are called but, few are chosen." And even the greatest missionaries can fall if they neglect the smalls things and are disobedient. 

But, other then that, things have been great. Elder R is awesome. He doesn't talk much but, I'm still working on that part. He's very serious and doesn't get my jokes half the time (which makes it more funny for me). But Elder R has some personal experiences and he knows why he's out here, and his testimony in those lessons are one of the most powerful I've ever heard. Sometimes I feel like Elder R is training me hahaha. 

My birthday was a typical missionary birthday. The Mang... family got baptized and I was honored when they asked me to do it. This was my first family baptism and it is a feeling I will never forget. Brother Ber... (the husband) hugged me after I baptized him and told me in his best English, "I feel happy Elder Strader." Brother Ber... used to smoke 20+ cigarettes a day when we met him but, he stopped. This is why I'm here to see people change their lives and come closer to Christ. It was the best birthday present I could ask for. Actually the best is yet to come. When the Man... family will get sealed in the temple, January 4, 2016, next year. Later, has we went to go teach, we went to find Sister Edna, one of our investigators and she's actually getting baptized in a couple of weeks. But she didn't go to church and that really worried Elder R and I. So we came to her house and we found sister Edna in her kitchen. I said (in Tagalog), "Sister Edna,what's today?" She replied January 4. I then said, "Exactly, it's my birthday and it's Sunday, so why didn't you go to church?" Turns out that Sister Edna woke up early in the morning to prepare me a meal for my birthday. She cooked all day and made this whole meal for me. Teary eyed she said, "Maramit salamat po si Elder Strader para sa lahat. Happy Birthday." Which translates, "Elder Strader thank you so much for everything. Happy Birthday." Well I couldn't be mad anymore. These people are some of the most kindest people I've ever met. I learn more from them everyday. Don't worry I'll make sure she goes to church next week. ;)

A couple of days ago we were walking and we decided to stop by and talk to some of our investigators, Sister J and C. They are both young moms and have young babies and we love them teaching them. We'll when we showed up there was a big Filipino birthday party. And what happened next was one of the saddest moments of my mission. We found Sister C completely drunk. As a missionary, this isn't the first time we run into our investigators breaking commandments but, this was different. This was my sweet Sister C who cries every time she gives the closing prayer. We taught the Word of Wisdom before and she only had a problem with coffee. So here we are, at this party and Sister C is completely wasted and is talking to us. Sister J is trying to apologize to us and we told her it was okay and that we'll come back to tomorrow to teach instead. I didn't know what to think, this wasn't like Sister C. Well we came by the next day to teach. Elder R suggested we teach the Word of Wisdom again for obvious reasons but, I wasn't sure. I'm remember Dad telling me when people are committing sin or doing something contrary to God's commandments, instead of saying, "You have a problem, fix it." Instead we ask ourselves, "What doctrine don't they understand?" Some times we just see the tip of the iceberg but we don't know what the real problem actually is. So we decided to teach the Book of Mormon again. What we found out later was the day before the party, Sister C's mother-in-law took her baby away and because she didn't think she taking care of the baby. Sister C was heartbroken and she felt like someone pulled her heart out. She didn't have her baby so that's why she drank so much the next numb the pain. So we taught the Book of Mormon and I've never felt the Spirit so strong in my life. We didn't do the typical Book of Mormon lesson using like  for example Moroni 10:3-5. But we focused on how the Book of Mormon can bring peace in our lives. We showed her the scripture in Jacob 6:2 when it talks about how the "pleasing word of God" (Book of Mormon, Bible ect) can heal the "wounded heart." She started to cry and admit that she hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon. I told her that is where she will find the true source of peace is through that book. It was a wonderful lesson. This is why I'm a missionary. 

I love you all. Thank you for prayers, emails, and support. I want y'all to know that I know this church is true. I know for a fact that families can be together forever. I know God loves His children. I know Joesph Smith was a true prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. And whoever wants to find out for themselves if this Church is true they can read it. Read it and pray and ask their Heavenly Father, in the of Jesus Christ, if it is true. I promise you, from the depths of my soul, that He will answer your prayer because He answered mine. 

Till We Meet Again.

Your Valiant Missionary, 
Elder Strader

P.S. Thank you for all the packages! I loved the letters, pictures, DVDs thank you so much. Uncle Brian that book you sent is freaking awesome. It rocked my world thank you. Here are some pics of the baptism and other things. Sorry some of the pictures are really blurry...