Monday, February 23, 2015

Family and loved ones,

My time here in Aringay is coming to close. Transfers are in 2 weeks and even though the thought depresses me, I'm probably getting transferred. I do want to see more of the Philippines and experience other area's but it's hard to say goodbye to these people. I'm so close with the members and the citizens here. When I first got here, some people used to make fun of me and treat me like a outsider (a foreigner is a better word). But over the course of these few months I just tried to be myself and do what Christ would do. I did my best with the language and talked with everybody. I would help "lola's" or older women walk across the street (classic). I couldn't really express my love in Tagalog but I did my best to do it through my actions and acts of service. I would flirt with the Relief Society to get more dinner appointments. I asked people about their families and played with the kids. Now, wherever we go, people swarm at to us asking for high fives, asking me to talk in a British accent and asking us to come in their homes and teach their families. They've changed. I've changed. The experience and memories I've gained here are priceless. 

Things are going good. Tagalog is coming along but I'm still not comfortable with the other dialects here. I have no idea how this country operates with so many dialects. The Sta Cecilia group is growing. We're finding more investigators and I'm so blessed that I was here from the beginning. They will build a chapel here some day. I pray that day comes. 

Brennan, Maddie, Donovan, Sydnie, and Emyrie. I hope y'all doing okay. Mom I miss your crepes. Dad, I miss our random wrestling matches.

Aaron won State?! I'm not surprised. Gosh, I'm so proud of him. The Klein finally has a state champion. 

I love y'all. My heart is full of gratitude to all of you. Thank you for your emails, letters, packages and prayers. I'm so grateful to be a missionary. I'm grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. He has taken me to places I thought I could nevere go. He has pushed me past my limitations, but with wise intentions. And those moments when I was down and didn't think I could do it, He carried me. It reminds me of one of my favorite poems;

He brought us to the edge and told us to jump,
No we'll fall!
He told us to jump,
No we'll fall! 
He told us to jump,
No we'll fall!
He brought us to the edge and then...pushed us,
And then we flew. 

All the glory goes to Him. He pushed me and I know what it's like to fly.
Till we meet again

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

P.S. Here's a picture of the Sta. Cecilia group and culture dance we went to.

Monday, February 16, 2015


First off, happy birthday Maddie! I hope you had a wonderful birthday and I hope you cause havoc has a teenager. Make me proud ;)

What a week! I have a lot of pictures so this going to be a short email. I will explain a few of the pictures;

THE RAT- We've been having a rat problem in our apartment. I'm sorry I should say "rats." The rats here are HUGE. Anyway so I just want to thank my Texas roots and my mom for sending me a nerf dart gun. I put needles on the end of the darts and it became a deadly weapon. After testing it on Elder R's thigh, I waited. Yesterday we found the rat in our room and closed all the possible exits. After some girly screams from Elder R and some precise shooting on my part. I was able to kill the rat. It wasn't the biggest one we've seen but that's one down...and probably 12 more to go. I actually was really proud of myself because I've never gone hunting before. I dedicate the kill to my grandpa.

THE BAPTISM-Okay I can go home now. The church ran out of water so I was able to baptize Vicent, our recent convert, in the ocean. What a sacrifice.  Probably one of the coolest moments of my life. Dream come true. The baptism started early in the morning because a big tropical storm was supposed to come later. It was so peaceful. The waves were calm and the sky gray. Vicent will be able to pass the sacrament in the group in Sta. Cecilia in 2 weeks. The church is true.

Other pictures; Some pictures with the other elders in my district, some members and food. There's an extra missionary because his companion was sent home and he is now put in a tri-companionship. I think these pictures are so funny because Elder R ruins most of them. I love being a missionary. 

Other then that things are going great. Transfers are in a couple weeks and I'm pretty sure I'm leaving Aringay. The Branch and members are already planning parties for me. I love them so much. I don't want to leave. I love y'all and I know this church is true. No doubt about it. I know why I'm here. Keep those prayers coming!

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

Monday, February 9, 2015


What a wonderful week! I'm feeling the Spirit more and more in our lessons. I love teaching with Elder R. We're both getting along really well and sometimes I hear a joke from him here and there. 

I'm pretty well known here in Aringay. Everywhere we go people yell, "Elder Strateeer (That's how they pronounce my name) where are you going?" I try to introduce and talk to everyone that I meet. Which is good but I forget that I'm horrible at remembering names...especially Filipino names.  I've learned that the more I immerse myself in the culture the more Tagalog that I learn. So that means eating from the weird street vendors and so on. I'm trying to convince myself that I'm a Filipino. I'm not sure if the people love me or just love to make fun of me. Maybe both. 

I had a special experience this week that has strengthened my testimony. Remember Sta Cecilia? Well it's about 7 miles away from our apartment. So in order to save money and time, Elder Reyes and I requested bikes and we've been biking there 3X a week. With a bike I feel like a real missionary now haha. One night we riding back home and it was pretty late. It was dark and we usually have flash lights while we ride, but we forgot to bring them this time. There are some street lights but people are so poor here that they climb the poles and steal the light bulbs to sell or use them for their families. So most of the time the street lights are never in use. On the way back from Sta Cecilia is full of hills and sharp turns and the road for the most part is not paved. So we're riding through the dark night and not having too much of a problem. But I knew the upcoming down hill had a sharp turn at the bottom and if we didn't have any light we wouldn't be able to see when to turn. Did I mention that there is a 50ft drop along the side if we don't turn? Knowing this I was trying to figure what I should do. As I was riding down one of the street lights suddenly turned on. Just one street light out of the blue as if it was like one of those expensive motion senor lights that turn on when you're close by. And we all know that no one installed or could have afforded to install one of those motion sensor lights on the poor road to Sta. Cecilia. The street light turned on at the right time and I was able to turn safely. As we biked away I was amazed. It happened out of nowhere and my mind was trying to figure out a logical explanation. As I looked behind me I saw the lonely street light turn off once we were some distance away. And then a scripture popped into my head that I read in personal study earlier. In it's the Book of Mormon in 1Nephi 17:13 and it says;

"And I will be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."

What a wonderful reminder that God is not only there but He is involved and mindful of His children. A simple tender mercy for a missionary in the Philippines. On that poor road from Sta Cecilia He was my light. And I know that it is by Him that I am lead.

Till we meet again.

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

P.S. To celebrate my 6 months, here's a picture of me at the MTC and now....I've only changed a little bit (Top picture - MTC, bottom picture - today). 

Friday, February 6, 2015


I loved that last email. It was so good to hear from all my siblings. Y'all are in my prayers everyday. I hope you feel the spiritual strength I ask Heavenly Father to send to you. 

The language is coming along. I dream in Tagalog almost every night now, which is a weird experience in its self. 

This week has been awesome. Elder R is starting to come along and get a little bit of my humor. Earlier this week during companionship study, we read a lot from Preach My Gospel. And to make it more interesting I read it out loud in an African American voice. It sounded like a black baptist preacher was in our apartment. I was saying a lot of things like, "The good Lord," and "You feel me, my brother?" or "Can I get an amen?" It didn't really seem to amuse Elder R too much. I swear he's got ice in his veins. Well later that day we were talking with a member when we heard about a missionary who just got send home because he was breaking some mission rules. And then Elder R said and I quote,"It's all about obedience, my brother." He attempted an African American accent. I seriously died. It was the funniest thing ever. I've never been more proud of him. I knew I was going to get to him sooner or later. Gosh I'm such a good trainer. 

Earlier this week we taught this older woman named Sister L. We asked her to be baptized but she didn't accept. She felt like she wasn't ready. Also she feels pressure because their are other missionaries from other churches that are demanding her to get baptized in their church. Here in the Philippines, some churches give a certain amount of days for you to make your decision to join their church, for example like 21 days. If you don't join you won't have another opportunity to join in the future and most likely you'll enjoy your time in "hell." So with that in mind, after she told us no, I feel prompted to relate the following story of my mom and dad. I told Sister L that my mom dated this guy in college. Let's say his name is Michael. Michael was handsome, strong, funny and a lot girls liked him. Michael was very interested in my mom. As I recall Michael wanted to marry or seriously date my mom. But she didn't really feel ready for that kinda of commitment yet. After some persistence Michael finally gave up and said, "Look you need to make a decision. If you don't want me just say it and I'll find someone else because I'm not going to wait forever for you." Well my mom didn't stay with him as you can imagine. And then later comes along my dad. I wouldn't say "handsome" but he's good enough (just kidding dad). He was funny and had a kind heart. When he expressed his feelings to my mom he told her something like this, "I don't know if you're ready but I want you to know that I love you and theirs one else but you. I'll wait forever if I have too." That was the answer my mom was looking for. So has I related this story to sister L. I took her hand into my hand and said, "Sister L we know this is a big decision and you might not feel ready but we here to help you. We love you and care about you enough that we're willing to wait for you." With tears streaming down her face she thanked us and told us she would pray about it. 

My family and friends and whoever reads my emails/blog. I want you all to know that this church is true. The gospel or "the good news", is for everyone. Sometimes some of us need more time then others but, if we're willing to get on our knees and with a broken heart, we can find out for ourselves. God is the same today, yesterday and forever. He does not change. There are miracles today. I've seen them. I have experienced a lot of undeserved blessings here on my mission. I love y'all. Please keep me and those I teach in your prayers. I'm grateful to be a missionary. I'm grateful to know that I having a Savior who loves me so much that even though sometimes I feel like I'm not ready to come to Him. He's willing to wait. 

And that is good news indeed. 

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

P.S Shout to sister Jones and my sister Maddie and the YW. Thank you for the package and pictures. I love the mustaches. Y'all know me too well.