Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 63

HI!! Thanks again for the skype call! It was so good to see you was good for me to see you all and talk to you. You all looked great and sounded great too! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Don't worry, we'll both be going to be at 10:30 pm right? ;) Enjoy with the family! 

Here's our NEW YEARS plans: we have a curfew at 7:00 on Dec. 31. That's all. We'll still proselyte and teach as much as we can. Sometimes it's hard to teach because people are busy, but knowing the determined person I am, it doesn't stop me and my comp from finding and teaching :) I don't yet have the package, but I will be on the lookout for it. I bet I will get it by Jan. 9th. :) No worries! We'll just wait for it to come when it comes. :)

My LAST 6 weeks as an official rep of the true Church on the earth has now commenced. NO TRANSFERS FOR ME :) I'll be finishing my mission out here in Candelaria with my last companion, Sister Martinez.  She is the cutest, spiritual, sweetest, companion ever.  We have a lot of charity in our companionship and it's something that brings me great joy everyday when we work together. :) 

Sister Emery, my beloved housemate, is sadly transferred. WAH :/  The other Sister Martinez will still be here with her new companion. :) I'm excited to still be here in Candelaria as my last area. It's weird to think I only have 3 areas, but I know that there is a purpose for all things. I know that our investigator, Jen, is the reason why I'm here. I'm so grateful to stay and help her be baptized and confirmed. It's the best feeling in the world. I can't believe it's a new year! I'll be home in 6 weeks, and no longer an official rep of the church. But I know if I endure to the end and work hard and obey, I will have no regrets like mom said. That's the goal! :) No regrets.

This week with Christmas was just GREAT! We got to visit a member and a less active on Christmas. We focused our message on the Nativity. I know that my testimony grew 10 times bigger as I studied the gospels. Jesus Christ's life was a life we can emulate to others, in order to help them have a chance to return to our Father in Heaven. The interesting thing about LIGHT is that God is the source of all Light. He created all things and so all things are in Him, and He is alive in all things. When we are filled with His light, we reflect that light to other people and they FIND the light through our examples, BACK to the greatest source of all light--Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.

Our investigator, Jen, CAME TO CHURCH again! AND she talked to her parents about getting married. We feel the time is AT HAND for their marriage, and most importantly, her baptism and confirmation. And that's only the beginning people! :)  I have to say as a missionary, you find joy that you can't find anywhere else in seeing people the way God sees them. As children of a Heavenly King. How does God handle all the love he feels for each of us? How is it possible? I know that helping others helps us too. It picks us back up and reminds us of who we are. We have deity in our souls, in our spirits.

HAPPY 2015! Time for new year's resolutions. Don't forget to set GOALS and make PLANS to actually make those resolutions happen :)

Sister Seastrand

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 62

JEN AND JOMAR CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry I just can't contain it!) Jen and Jomar both came to church with Noah and Joshua, their two cute little guys! I honestly cannot get over it. I almost cried for two reasons:
1) We didn't see them right away at 9 and they missed the Sacrament. I was so disappointed, I just wanted to cry--literally on the verge.
2) Right on the verge of tears of sadness, we see Jomar and Jen on the back of his scooter pulling into the parking lot of the church with the two little rascals---so now I wanted to shed tears of joy.

I nudged my companion and we ran out to greet them. BEST DAY EVER. Just smiling from ear to ear the whole day. THE BEST PART IS they got to see the Primary program! It was the Best. There's something I will never forget about seeing Filipino children sing about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Especially "I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me". (classic Primary song and one of my favs.) Mom, I know you'd have shed a tear to see these cuties sing/speak their parts at the pulpit. I almost did :)

Another week of learning a WHOLE lot. If you'll allow me, here’s a little Story Time about how I'd picture my mission and my conversion:

Chapter One: Called To Serve as a Missionary in the Philippines
Let's go back in time and say Sister Seastrand were to live in the times of the Nephites. Let's say she heard from her next door neighbor that the Promised Messiah were here, and that they saw Him descending from His Father to visit them. She runs to see if it's true, and when it is confirmed, let's say she felt a little shy, standing in the back, trying to peer over other people's heads, shoulder to shoulder with the next guy. Maybe some things like this would be running in her mind: "Maybe He wouldn't even notice me in all of these people." “There's so many other people that need to be healed." "Who am I to go to Him? I can't just push past these people who have waited for Him to come maybe longer than I have."

CAUTION: If you're like me when it comes to reading a book, you usually read the first chapter and the last to see if it's worth reading or not based on what happens in the end. The curiosity is just unbearable, right?! If that's not you, then sorry. Let's go to the last chapter! -->

Chapter Ten:  Sixteen Months as a Missionary for Jesus Christ and His Church in the Philippines
Sister Seastrand's next door neighbor runs to tell her that the promised Messiah has finally come. But her neighbor finds the lights are off, the garage is closed, and the front door has a note that says, "Back in a while. --Sister S."   WHERE COULD SHE BE?! Sister Seastrand is already kneeling before Him, glorifying Him and His presence. She actually went up to Him with confidence ready to greet Him.

I know my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives, and loves me, too. I know that His church is true, and was restored through His prophet, Joseph Smith.

In order to make this book, there is more than just chapter one and chapter ten...mostly because it takes many chapters of different experiences to make a good book...and a good life. Where would you be if this was you? Would you be confident to walk up to Him? Or would you be like me, at first, at the back not feeling able to walk up to Him? Do you know Him? Maybe you'd be the one with the note on your door, already greeting Him. Wherever you may be in your own conversion to Christ, I invite you if you don't yet know Him, learn of Him. It's not too late, and there is no such thing as “by invitation only.” All are invited. And adding missionary work into it, you could be the one to invite your next door neighbor to come and see, too. (Thanks for letting me share my conversion story…hehe. I just really wanted to share it.)

Sister Seastrand

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 61 - Typhoon Ruby

Typhoon Ruby was supposed to be stronger and more intense than Yolanda. If you remember, the devastation of Yolanda was so incredibly sad. This week was crazy with the typhoon. Basically we assumed it would be coming on Saturday night until Monday, so I spent two nights not sleeping (mostly because sometimes they come at night and are so intense). It was so stressful! But the AP'S texted us on Friday morning telling us that President Mangum had emailed us preparations for the typhoon. We followed his instructions and were blessed not to be afraid. We spent our day Friday preparing, and taught a few lessons in the evening. You could see the sky preparing for the typhoon at that time.

Sunday was very dark and sketchy, but we still went to church. After church we stayed in our apartment. We weren't allowed to leave our apartment yesterday for P-day. I was surprised because people kept telling us about the typhoon coming and to prepare and then after it hadn't come when we thought it would, they told us that it wasn't coming anymore. But, boy did it come on Monday afternoon. Basically the typhoon was a really slow moving typhoon which usually means a longer amount of time with all the effects of it: strong winds and so much heavy rain. Typhoons are so stressful and unpredictable! Their course can never really be determined. Right now, it's just pretty cloudy and cold. I wore two jackets today during study...That's NEVER happened in my mission! We didn't have to be relocated at all, our apartment is a house so it was pretty strong. There's four of us in the house, 3 Americans and my Filipina comp. We prepared clean water and our 72 hour kits and cell phone and then spent all weekend waiting. It's been a stressful and tiring past weekend waiting out this typhoon. But I know that because my companion and I prepared and followed Pres. Mangum, we weren't afraid.

All is well again. My second 'Super Typhoon.' Thank you so much for the prayers and concern. I know the people are more affected over in Vesayas part of the Philippines (Mindanao) than Luzon (that's us in the San Pablo mission). I was really nervous because of the impact that typhoon Glenda had on us here, but we prepared and all was well. Still alive!  Getting back into the routine is rough but that is the way it is during typhoon season here in the Philippines. :)
I can't hardly believe it's Christmas time again! It's so fast. This week we're trying to focus on Jen and Jomar. They are getting close to getting married and we're just trying to have the Spirit lead and guide them in their decisions in order to help Jen be baptized and confirmed. I can feel this family needs so much help. They all are less active and need hope. Jen is such a blessing because I think the Lord is using her to help them come back into the church. It's so great. I love teaching her and seeing her and seeing the Book of Mormon change her. It's the best feeling! I have faith that the Spirit is helping them to read and pray together. It's really all about family. I've learned that as we've taught the plan of salvation, the restoration, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. IT'S ALL ABOUT FAMILY. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and is aware of all of our needs. 
Sister Seastrand

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 60

OKAY this week was seriously just the BEST.

Crossing the river to get to our appointment
1) We are finding new investigators that have serious potential.
2) We received 5 referrals from members who have agreed to go with us to teach them.
3) Heavenly Father is answering my prayers.

I wish I could explain everything, but it's mostly just the last one. Heavenly Father answers us. We have been praying and working for a long time to find new investigators. We are finding in so many ways this week! This week I’m thankful for members who talk to people as they work. Mostly because this person they talked to came to church, After MANY prayers of wanting to find new investigators who are prepared and ready to receive the gospel, one just shows up to church. Brother Jimel. PLUS this member introduced him to us as the missionaries AND sat by him in Gospel Principles. That is the essence of member missionary work. Things are going so well here in Candelaria. I love it here and I just love missionary work.

Visiting with some members
Just like you, all I can say about this week is WOW! haha. So much good things have happened. I just am so happy and satisfied with working hard and being obedient. I'm so glad that Thanksgiving went well and I agree that next year will be better since I'll be home. :) It was just another day here. (Which I may or may not have forgotten it to be Thanksgiving haha.) It's just the mentality of a missionary, I guess! Every day is the same and I LOVE it.

I'm sorry if this is so scattered, I'm not sure where to start since a lot has happened this week! Mostly, I'm just so happy to be in the service of Heavenly Father. I know He is blessing me. I can FEEL my faith in Christ growing and my desire to serve Him growing. We are working well with members and serving and loving them. I have a testimony of obedience and the Atonement. Heavenly Father loves us so much. I hope all is well this week, and maybe things will calm down before the craziness of Christmas. It's now officially December and I'm looking forward to Christmas/skype time/ being a missionary for Christmas yet again. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than to be a missionary! Thanks so much for your support. I am happy and doing well. :) You're the BEST and I love you all SO MUCH. Have a great week!!!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 59

Saying goodbye to Sis. Rafi and hello to Sis. Martinez
Bye, Bye Sister Rafi! :( No matter what anyone tells you about getting used to transfer week, they’re wrong. Being almost 16 months in the mission, I STILL can't get over it. The dreaded/ most stressful day in any missionary's life. Transfer Day. I really thought my sweet companion would maybe stay one more cycle in this area with me, but at the last moment, we received "The Call" at 5:25 p.m. She is now making another Sister/ward members happy in the San Pablo area. I miss her SO MUCH but I know our friendship is eternal. On Thursday we get to Divergion where she dropped me off and we parted ways while I stayed at Jollibee waiting for my new companion with the Zone leaders and other missionaries transferring. It was like a movie or something with the rain and me just standing there with a somber look on my face holding my umbrella waving goodbye to my sister and friend. After her first hug, she turned back and gave me another. :( That's all I could think in my mind, "Bye bye Sister Rafi." SO YEAH, Just still kickin it here in Candelaria with my new companion..... drum roll please........Sister Martinez! From Mindinao. She's SO CUTE and I love her already. She's a brand new missionary, only two months in the field. Thanks President, you put a young one with an old one... You'd think I'd have some missionary skills by now, but whaddaya know, 1st day of comp study and my companion's got some sharp teaching skills in the tool shed. Just a little overwhelmed, that's all. 

Jen is currently residing in Candelaria! She didn't go to Sariyaya to stay with her parents. And I can't even tell you how great it felt to see her at Sister Sonya's house Sunday evening. We get to start teaching her again with her new little one, and of course, Noah.
Basically everyone needs to pray for this investigator of ours. Pray that she will listen to the Spirit telling her to follow our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized and confirmed a member of HIS church. I know angels are helping us every day.

This week I'm reading in the Gospels about Jesus Christ and his parables. I'm trying to study it before Christmas. I have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And I've been finding Him, just like we find investigators all day, I'm more determined to find my Savior as I read His teachings. I challenge you to find your testimony by reading His life as we prepare for the Christmas season.
all is well, all is well, in the life of a sister missionary in the Philippines.

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 58

This week has been CRAZY... So how many times can Sister Seastrand travel to Lucena City in one week? Let's count...we literally went to Lucena 5 TIMES. Stake conference, exchanges, and zone training meeting. So many things learned.

What I learned: Serving others makes us happy. Putting Heavenly Father first makes us even happier. I've had a lot of experiences in this week of having to learn that first hand. I think that we can't lose sight of what we're doing as missionaries, or else we lose sight of Heavenly Father.

I'm still here in my 3rd area, Candelaria, Quezon, Philippines San Pablo Mission. I'm heading into my 3rd transfer cycle here in this area. I'm not sure if Sister Rafisura will be transferred or not. But I love my companion and we find joy in the work together.

Cute Noah
There's just one thing I wanted to share about, and that is the power the Book of Mormon. We have been teaching an investigator named Jen. When I first met her when I got to the area, and went to our first teaching appointment, I really felt no hope. What I SAW was a silly, whatever-happens-happens mindset 20-year-old girl. Little did I know how wrong I was. We kept going

back to her, and teaching about the Restoration. Over and OVER, let me tell you. She just didn't seem like she cared at all. Normally we don't keep visiting investigators for more than 2 weeks if there's no progressing (i.e. no reading, coming to church, keeping really any commitments at all). As we kept running in to walls in what to teach her and feeling frustrated about her commitments not being kept, the Spirit of the Lord told us to share from the Book of Mormon in Alma 32, and so we taught about Faith in Jesus Christ. We could feel the Spirit in abundance and we could see her start to understand. She was beginning to plant the seed of faith in her heart. Over a period of 2 months, I have seen FIRST HAND the power of this book. We asked one day how she feel she has changed because of reading the Book of Mormon, and she told us, "I now have patience and long-suffering towards my child and others. When I get angry or frustrated, I open this book and it's gone." We saw and could feel the Spirit testify to us of her changing and becoming more spiritually mature. I could see the changes in the entire less active family and in her 4 year old son. They now pray together, her and Noah (her son). They love when we come over to teach. Apparently the Spirit enters the room and takes a seat on their small couch next to Sister Rafi and me. I will never forget this experience as long as I live. :)

I don't know what will happen to her since she is no longer here in Candelaria, because she had her second baby. She will be gone for at least a month with her parents and the new little one... It's so sad because Sister Rafisura might be transferred and didn't get to say goodbye, but we will see what happens. All I know is that I pray the spirit and angels will help her to stay and remember what she felt when we taught her every day. I know she is in good hands with the Lord. I felt like one important point of this experience is that Heavenly Father wanted to show me in real time that this Book has the power to solve ANY concern and help us overcome our weaknesses. In Ether 12:34 it says, "And IF men COME unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my GRACE is sufficient for ALL MEN THAT HUMBLE themselves before me, for if they humble themselves before me, and have FAITH in me, then will I make weak things become STRONG unto them."
Seeing friends at Zone Training

According to our faith things will work for our good. As long as our faith is in Christ and when we humble ourselves, the grace of Christ is sufficient to make up for what we don't have or can't do. Weaknesses are opportunities to know our Savior. If you haven't been reading this book or even if you have read it many times already, I invite you to ponder on your own weaknesses. Just one, and read the Book of Mormon on that weakness. I promise you that when you do this, the Spirit will take hold in your heart and you will experience in real time the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ which is sufficient for all men that come unto Him. Don't delay! His arms are ready to receive you at all times.

Transfer week is this week... I think my companion will be transferred but I'm not sure... It's going to be interesting! We find out tomorrow what will be the next set-up in Candelaria. It's a good area. We are just trying to find, find, find!! It takes work to be a missionary. I'm reading in the gospels studying about the life of Jesus Christ in preparation for Christmas, and I am loving learning more about Christ. I encourage you to do the same! We can compare and talk about it together.

So this week has been great. We're being obedient, we're seeing success in our work, and just going every day to do the Lord's work. I love you all so much and I feel I need to share with you to know how HAPPY I am when I am obedient and teach and live my life in the Philippines as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. It's so hard, but I almost can't leave it behind. It's been the best experience of my life. Heavenly Father loves me and I know it. Have a great week! I love you!!!!!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 57

So this week we talked about eternal families this week in Sunday School. They talked about the role of the mother. I sat there with our investigator, JEN cause she CAME TO CHURCH!! :) With her 4 year old son, Noah. I just love them. Maybe it's cause we're the same age so we can relate, but it was so good to see her and teach her this week. She loves King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah. I love that she loves the Book of Mormon. ANYWAYS...As I sat there listening to our teacher talk about the role of the mother, I thought of Mom immediately. There's a quote by a Prophet who said, "The most important work will be within the walls of your own homes." It says in the proclamation about the roles of husbands and wives, and Mom, you have fulfilled your role! Who can put a price tag on a mother who not only builds her home but builds the kingdom of Heavenly Father at the same time? That just reminded me of you, Mom, and what work you have done in our home to make our house a home. The mother is such a big role and I thank you for being MY Mother. :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mom. I love you to the States and back to the Philippines. 3,000,000 times! :) haha.
I love you SO MUCH Mom. 

I'm trying to exercise and sleep and drink water---everything that helps me be healthy again. I really love and appreciate Sister Galbraith--she's great. She has really helped me feel better. But I endured my illness and it's weird because I felt myself grow a lot. At first I was really frustrated and felt really discouraged. But it was so nice to go back out and proselyte. It's really one thing that I will miss so very much when I return. Talking to people about the happiest message in the WORLD is my favorite thing. I love being obedient, and I love learning and reading the Book of Mormon. I love that I wear a name tag everyday and get to be a witness of Jesus Christ. I truly can feel His love for me. 

My week has been great! I'm back in the work and feeling great. A lot of rejection actually. But it's ok. I endured :) And I LOVE being a missionary! The WORK it's the one thing I missed, while being sick. I love going out every day and talking to people and being obedient and doing the work. I just want to give it my all. I'll never have this time back again. Actually, on Thursday we taught a referral from a member. The referral is a Born Again Christian and LET ME TELL YOU we spent 2 hours in that appointment. Mostly she wasn't listening and I was getting annoyed because I couldn't feel the spirit and I didn't know how to teach her according to her needs, (maybe cause the spirit really wasn't there). BUT she likes to speak English and I could feel a little frustration start to well up inside me. Sometimes as a missionary you just want to shake the person and say, "Look, this is true! Just accept it! It will only help you." But you can't do that. You can't lose your cool because if you do, you're not being a witness of Christ. We read Moroni 10:3-5 about praying to know if it's true, and she said she was sad because it said to ask in the name of Christ, not to ask in the name of Jesus Christ. LIKE, WHAT?! After reading those 3 powerful verses, that's all you get?! Come on! I started to speak in English and just testify of the truthfulness of the message and I could feel the power in it. Honestly after we left I just wanted to cry and same with Sister Rafi. 

And THEN to top it off...No one really has wanted to listen to us! We've had a ton of chances to talk with people on the street who are the same religion and they just keep rejecting us and telling us that they worship Jesus by dancing and holding their hands in the air. WEIRD! It was a way discouraging day actually and Sister Rafi and I just wanted to cry. But we realized that these were just trials and tests of our faith and diligence. I could feel my faith in Christ grow--and my desire to serve better grew, too.  Trials are so great! They are chances for us to learn and to grow to our full potential.

It sounds like the weather there is changing from the warm Fall to chilly weather, (and you're not complaining at all, Mom). I am not too excited about the thought of coming home to snow, myself! AH! The weather here is still nice and warm and cooling off with typhoon season coming. We've had no effect from typhoons so far, so that's nice. We are so blessed like you said.

I know that what I am doing is truer than true and I love the blue book aka the Book of Mormon. Read it sometime, eh? :)  Heavenly Father just helps us reach our potential when we obey and trust Him. I miss you all and I can't wait to see you again, but I know I'm here for a reason. It's so important what I'm doing. And I don't get a second chance. So I gotta give it my all. :)  Let's all keep enduring to the end. Love you all.

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 56

HEY! ‘Halloween’ was CRAZY! Everyone just goes to the cemetery and celebrates their dead loved ones. There’s a lot of alcohol and festivity. The cemeteries are packed. It's so different. They call it All Saints Day and it’s on Nov. 1. We just went home at 6.

This week we had a SUPER great meeting with Elder Lynn G. Robbins. He talked about two companion doctrines: 100% Accountability, 100% Agency. He also talked about the companion doctrines, Forgiveness and Repentance. It was just SO wonderful to listen to him speak to us. He shared with us about 3 Nephi 11 where Christ visited the Nephites and asked if the Savior walked in right now, what would we do? Would we fall to our knees? I know for a fact I would. I've asked myself that question and pondered it this week. And the reason why is because I'm learning about Him and His ways. Elder Robbins said that "we as missionaries are enrolled in the Lord's University in some of the toughest courses in the world. Diligence 505, Patience 505, Charity 505, and Faith 505. Tough courses, but incredible courses." I have to agree 100%! It's been tough. But the Lord's university is the one preparing me to return to Him and I will never get these courses ever again anywhere else but in the Philippines. Anyway just a little thought I learned this week. I miss home, but the Philippines is my second home. :)

We also had another great special missionary meeting. Elder Dallin H. Oaks came and gave the whole Philippines a special broadcast about the area goals. He talked about feasting on the words of Christ and especially Christlike attributes. I really loved it! Everything I needed was in that meeting. I just could feel that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ LOVES this country. They know and see all that these people go through and do every day of their lives. The Lord is blessing the Philippines and it's blessing my life. My heart will always be here in this country, especially with all my Filipina companions. Team Philippines!

We haven't seen our investigator Jen for a long time.. I miss her a lot. But we're going to visit her this week! :) I will send pics maybe next week of her cause she's so cute and I just love her with all my heart. We got to visit one of our recent converts this past week, tho. We haven't seen her in so long since I've been sick. She’s so cute. I will send pics of her cute kids next time. She loves the missionaries and it just was really nice to hear her testimony of Christ. She began telling us how her family has been having a rough time lately. She said that we answered her prayers and she cried as she said, "I'll never forget when the missionaries visit me." I've been learning more and more how much the members really love the missionaries here in this area. It's so important to slow down and take the time to visit them and get to know them, their concerns, and be an answer to their prayers of needed comfort and refreshment. I loved that. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. I am here and am only a representative full time of Jesus Christ for three more months! I really love it. It's so hard, but so great. I want to be in this work forever.

Anyways, that was my week. Pretty great if you ask me. :) Overall I just love Moroni 7. I felt the Spirit so strong studying about faith and hope in Christ. Count how many times Mormon says, "having faith in Christ" or "believe" in Christ. It's very inspiring to read about faith and hope. I'm almost finished reading the BOM on my own personal reading -- BOOYAH! I encourage you to study it if you can. It's a beautiful chapter about Mormon teaching us about Faith in Jesus Christ. I know that we can do ANYTHING He asks us when we come unto Him and have faith in Him. Thank you for all you do for me. I just love you so much, mom. Get ready, cause the cold is coming! I'm enjoying the heat and rain here :) Just get the coats ready cause I'll be heading that way in about 2 more transfer cycles! HA! :) I can feel the time getting faster and faster. But the Lord is supporting me. :) Have a GREAT week!!! 

Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 55

:( UGH…I've been sick this week. FOUR DAYS we didn't work. It’s frustrating MOSTLY because, no matter how hard I try, I can never always remain fully in good health. It's always gotta happen to ME…Not my housemates, not my companion, just Sister Seastrand. It's like when you hear about someone getting really sick with something and you feel bad for them and then a week later YOU get it. It's always just my luck, I guess. WHO KNOWS?! I was out 4 days this week with a high fever and some other uncomfortable sicknesses going on inside. But in spite of being frustrated about being sick, I was able to receive a priesthood blessing that really opened my eyes to some interesting truths. Just some great tender mercies! The Lord really does love me. He's helped me to recover slowly but surely over my sickness and I know that He is looking out for me. Something I want to share is from that priesthood blessing I received was that "There are people beyond the veil who are with me here in the Philippines, helping me as well as those we are teaching." That was great. I immediately thought of Aunt Carolyn. I bet she is here with me helping me. And of Grandma and Grandpa Openshaw. Same with all our other ancestors. It was nice to hear and think about. It made me a little emotional to think about it because I need those angels with me every day. There are some days when I just want to go back to Utah, but then other days when I wake up and see the Philippines and really love my mission. Here’s some of the new perspectives my priesthood blessing gave me:

FIRST: Our loved ones and friends that are beyond the veil really ARE here with me in my mission--Helping me, those we teach, encouraging me, etc. I don't know why I never realized that before, but it's been made known to me that there really are angels beside me helping me.

SECOND: Heavenly Father really actually does want us to reach our full potential. Sometimes we feel that He is not giving us things or opportunities that we think we want to do or be, or stopping us from being "happy." But we never know what it is He has in store, we just should know it’ll be better than we could have planned.

THIRD, OUR JOB: Keep our eyes and hearts toward heaven and our ultimate goal, which is going back to His presence. (Maybe if I learned that a long time ago, some of my choices would have been different.)

Also, I just really love our mission doctor, Sister Gallbraith. She is so kind and helped me feel better. I called her last night for advice on getting better and I just felt peace as I talked to her and love from Heavenly Father. I'm grateful for mission leaders and helpers that help me know things will be OK!

I was able to speak in church on Sunday even though I was just recovering from being sick, it was a really cool opportunity to speak in STRAIGHT Tagalog. Maybe it wasn't all completely correct, but I'm pretty proud of myself, nonetheless. My topic was ‘Becoming a Witness of Christ.’ When we want to be true witnesses of Christ, it first starts with our FAITH in Christ. We can assess our faith regularly, and try to see how we can strengthen it. It also requires that we take upon us HIS name through the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we do that, we become His true representatives! I think that the best way to always REMAIN a witness of Christ is to repent and be sanctified with the Spirit. The Spirit is the way to know all things and to be able to testify of all things that are true, right, etc. It's like what our beloved mission president said: "Teach BY the Spirit, WITH some Spirit." How true…he nailed it.

It's been awesome because Sister Rafi and I are receiving some pretty good referrals lately. And they all live super close to the church, which is golden. No excuse for not attending church, ha! We're really praying that these members will prepare and think about those they can share the gospel with so we can help strengthen their testimony.

I guess we never really know why we're in an area, until we stop and look around at all the aspects of missionary work. It's very easy as a missionary to get caught up in two single important indicators: Baptism and confirmation. BUT that truly does not define success. I think that knowing you are a successful missionary is defined as giving your all to the Lord, no matter the circumstance. It's all about you and the Lord, no one else, and He knows the best we can do. So we must never give up. Never, never give up. I know that the Lord is stretching me to help me grow and I can feel it. BUT like I've said before faith is painful at times, spiritually. It's the first thing that helps us to act and to do what the Lord wants. So if you feel other aspects in your lives are maybe out of place, take an inventory of your faith in Jesus Christ. :) He has the power and capacity to HELP and STRENGTHEN you. I have learned that here as a missionary! Like Bry said, I've learned the love of God more on my mission than I could have anywhere else- and what could ever replace that?! NOTHING. I'm so glad to be here, trials, tests, and all! It's truly a test of endurance but I'm willing to pay the price to endure to the end of this service in the Lord's vineyard.

I love you all! Have a great week!! I always think of you and pray for you.
Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 54

Mostly every week tends to be like a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes it's like that brand new rollercoaster with pads on the sides of the seats, and sometimes it's like the old wooden ones that were the first ride built in the entire park back in 1890. I guess I can say that this week felt like it was more like the second option. How many times a day did I think to myself, "OK I'm a 14 month missionary now. I can handle this investigator." OR "I'm 14 months now and I know how to deal with this problem." Reality check to ME: I sometimes really can't. No matter how many months- I can't afford to even think about relying on my own talents, tagalog, many experiences, everything. And Humility check to ME: We need Heavenly Father's love and approval more often than we might think. So even tho it's been a rickety rollercoaster ride, this week has been a wonderful experience. 

We had an investigator who we've been teaching for quite some time come to church today! It was so wonderful to see her walk in the door with her son. I know that she is changing. It made me think about how Heavenly Father feels when He sees us change every day. The way I feel when I see those changes in people's lives is indescribable. It's so humbling and joyful to focus on helping people to come unto Christ. HOW MUCH MORE joy our Heavenly Father must feel.

This week I've had a wonderful chance to come unto Christ again. I sometimes really have no idea what I'm doing here...seriously. Sometimes I really love it, and sometimes I just feel small and insignificant to the lives of these people. I'm trying to be sincere in my efforts even when I feel heavy inside. But I share all of it to Heavenly Father and I know He gets it. I think I tend to just get overwhelmed and upset at times, or truly discouraged inside, and it is a pretty heavy feeling. But I felt the Spirit telling me to draw nearer to Heavenly Father through prayer. I am growing in my testimony of prayer. There's the hymn that says "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire." What is my soul's sincere desire? Every time Sister Rafi and I teach about prayer, I always ask myself, "What is the soul's sincere desire for this person?" All of us have sincere desires and ambitions, goals, dreams, etc, and the PERFECT example of reaching goals and dreams is our Father in Heaven. I know that He listens to me and understands my heart. That's a great knowledge I've gained from my mission that I love testifying of: He knows us. All in all, I LOVE it. I have been able to come unto Christ in so many ways.

This week also had a WAKE UP CALL MOMENT for of the members shared her testimony on family history work and BOY let me tell you, probably the most powerful thing I've heard for a long time. She shared about how our family history is not necessarily being able to see the immediate blessings, but more so on the eternal side of things. She gave me a whole new look on doing family history/ temple work for the dead. It's pretty amazing to think that Heavenly Father is expecting us to help both sides of the veil. What a great joy it will be to meet those spirit children who received the blessings of the temple. So. DO YOUR FAMILY HISTORY. If you haven't, get started.

Sister Rafisura and I are just having this growing desire to FIND! We are hungry for some new investigators and prepared referrals. We are taking this week on some of the days to visit with and teach members.  It's going to be a great opportunity to build unity and trust with them. Trust and unity are KEY to missionary work in the ward. I'm hopeful as we go into this next transfer cycle.  The finding begins- the glasses are ON and clearer than ever. We've already got a new referral to contact and teach. YES!

Sometimes I really don't know how to express everything I'm learning. I know I only have 3 cycles left as a missionary but I'm going to make it the most celestial part of my mission. Who knows what the Lord wants from me in these last months of my service. Like you said Bryan, I'll give ALL I've got! I've gotta leave it all in the vineyard. I literally picture myself that way. With gloves and harvesting tools for the vineyard every day. I want my work to be approved. It's not easy, but it's fulfilling. :) I love it and yet I want to cry my eyes out at times. Sometimes that happens at my study desk--haha--and my comp is like, "Sister!! What is happening!" haha. She's been a good support to me. As President Peterson always said, "Work, work, work that is the secret!"  :)

Love you all so much!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 53

OK FIRST HIGHLIGHT: Conference was awesome. And I really loved the main themes of all the speakers. I feel like the main theme this time was about Accountability. I really personally appreciated Elder Richard G. Scott's talk. It always goes back to the simple things. It's always prayer, temples, scripture study, and following the prophets that gets us through the hard times that come. I'm so grateful that we have living prophets to guide us. 

SO BIGGEST RAIN STORM OF MY LIFE!! We're just doing our thing, trying to find some former investigators 
and out of nowhere like it usually does the rain just pours and pours and pours. We're soaking within 5 seconds, so we just get a trike super fast to the nearest 7/11 and walk in all soaking. It was definitely embarrassing to see all these Filipinos staring at a soaking foreigner missionary. On the plus side, we got some snacks and found a less active from San Pablo. Not even the rain can stop us finding people! (This was the second highlight of the week.)

THIRD HIGHLIGHT: Our investigator, Jen, is doing great. We had a spiritual lesson with her once again. Honestly out of my entire mission I've never felt the spirit stronger than I have when teaching her. It's the best feeling EVER. I think mostly this week, I'm just overall feeling the approval of the Lord. I only feel it when I'm giving my all because He knows how much we can give to Him. I have a stronger testimony of obedience and I know he is making it a strength for me.

FOURTH and FINAL HIGHLIGHT: Sister Rafisura and I are STILL companions. We laugh at least 10 times a day if not more. She makes the work here more fun and delightful. I know that we're building up this Zion here in the church for the people of Candelaria. Here's to another transfer cycle in the beautiful Candelaria. Viva Candelaria!

There's not much to report this week, except I LOVED General Conference. I loved the new language thing. Don't worry we watched it in English. Every talk was my favorite. Maybe for me and my personal life, Richard G. Scott's talk really hit the spot for me. Especially about Prayer. I have gained that personal testimony here in my mission about prayer. It's our tool to use to literally tell Heavenly Father how we feel. Sometimes I don't always open up to Him about my feelings that are deep especially about the work because I don't want to complain or waste His time. But I know that He loves us and it's up to us if we "stay in the old ship zion" haha did you like how I put two phrases together? :)  I also was touched by Elder Ballard's and Elder Anderson's was touching for me. I loved it all! I loved about revelation, especially from Elder Uchtdorf's talk.

I'm doing well. My health is better. It's just part of mortality right? I have one more transfer cycle with Sister Rafi, and then I think she'll be out. It'll be her 6 months in the mission, and in the area! It's been fun and HARD to be follow up trainer. There's been a lot of work that we have put into our area. It was left in shambles- relationships with members, NO investigators in our teaching pool, people not coming to church, people who are potential but not married, etc.

So something that really touched me this week: We went to go to our appointment with an investigator but got punted. So, we went with our WML to a member. She said something I'll never forget. "I love when missionaries come to visit me because it's like Christ is visiting me, too." How often do we leave that impression on people when we visit them in visiting teaching? helping a friend? or sharing the gospel? People should ALWAYS feel like that. Especially members of the ward we are in. I know that we can do that for others when we visit them. So many people need us but we never know. Like President Monson. He always answers people prayers when He serves.

As I reflected with Sister Rafi this week about our work, I felt Heavenly Father's love for me. I know that HE is approving of my efforts. This area has grown so much and what's more for me as a missionary- my companion has grown. It's so fulfilling for me to watch that. I've had a lot of rough times in my mission, but this area has stretched me. My second time being a follow up trainer has taught me a lot about building foundations. Our companions, our areas, the people, the members. I know that as I keep working hard, I will feel the approval from My Heavenly Father Himself. And I want to feel that way again this cycle :) This area is not yet where we want it, but I know it's getting there. We're building up Zion. I only have 3 more cycles left. OH NO! I just need to GO GO GO :)

Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 52

A week in the life of Sister Seastrand and Sister Rafisura:
Lots happened. Every week everything happens.  Overall, a pretty great week. Thanks to the spirit, and obedience, I know I'm learning and growing in this gospel of Jesus Christ, His message of eternal happiness.

Sister Rafisura sprained her ANKLE while cleaning last Monday. She's such a great sport.. So tough! We didn't go to work for a couple days, and I think Sister Mangum has had about enough calls from Candelaria 1A to last the rest of her life. That was my first lesson in Charity. Haha I'm so grateful for leaders in my mission, especially the doctors and mission president's wife. What would we do without them!

So let me tell you about our new investigator named Jen, our light and hope in our area right now. Her boyfriend is a less active member, who really is less than excited to talk to the missionaries when we go to their house. We've been praying and friendly-ing it up every time we teach, asking him about everything, making some small talk.  Which he only ever just smiles a bit and walks out. We FINALLY got him to LISTEN. He put a nice shirt on and turned the TV off and everything. Missionary work has a big part in being friendly. I'm a firm believer in getting people's interest in our message by just talking to them like a normal person and making some small talk, even if they don't seem interested at first. Come to find out, he really understands a lot about faith, and Heavenly Father. I'm hoping to continue teaching them since  this is a BIG focus family for Sister and I. PRAY ON

So Sister Rafisura and I found some NEW investigators! YIPEE! We've been going back to our former investigators in our area book and finding some teaching records of those who were taught before that might have potential again. And we found two who were taught before that want to be taught again. I love finding. It's makes me excited everyday to just go out in this big world and somehow, someway, be led to just the people that God wants you to talk to. How does He do it?

So this week in my personal study I've learned about charity. Sometimes we might only think of it as kindness, long-suffering, pure love, and all that important stuff. But sometimes we miss the parts, "is not puffed up, envieth not, seeketh not her own." Basically, I've learned some big lessons on those three things. Sometimes we see others with lands and gold and investigators coming to church, being baptized, etc. and we say to ourselves, "What about me? Why do they get all the success? How come all the members like them? How come God isn't smiling upon me and only them?" These are probably the WORST questions we could ever let come into our minds. BECAUSE First of all, God still loves us and is smiling upon us for other things. Just because He is smiling on them doesn't mean He is trying to frown upon us. Don't be an attention seeker. When we have charity, we "rejoice in the truth" So meaning that we rejoice when others rejoice. We mourn when they mourn. We stand in place of the Savior when they experience life's joys and sadnesses as a missionary. I know that Charity is more than just kindly loving people and being patient with them. It's Rejoicing for them, mourning with them, and standing as a witness of God. It really all goes back to our baptismal covenant. As we keep our covenant(s), we can more fully understand and have true charity in our lives that will make our work as missionaries more full and satisfactory.

I was able to watch the General Women's Meeting which ROCKED. The main theme: Obedience to temple covenants and claiming our eternal exaltation. I know that exact obedience means living the higher law. What IS the higher law? It's simple: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a privilege to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in Candelaria. I love my mission.

I'm feeling better this week. Don't even worry! (But Mom, you can still be motherly :) please and thanks!)  I've regained strength and things are doing alright. Just plugging along in the work that I LOVE! It sounds like Grandma Jan's had quite some rough health issues this week. I hope she feels well soon! Tell her I love her and am thinking of her and Grandpa. Remind her that I sent their letter finally in the mail. I'm so sorry it's been so long!

Conference is coming up!! YAY! We will be in Lucena City which I'm excited for. It will be broadcast in  English and we'll meet at the stake center. It sounds like you had a great time. I can't wait to listen to the talks. I've been spiritually hungry for this time to come. 

Happy Birthday to Grandma Seastrand!! She is such a great woman. I love her so much. 

Anyways, things have been good this week. I can see my obedience and hard work paying off. Heavenly Father knows each sacrifice we put into our lamps to fill them. We've been finding new investigators, trying to build trust with the ward, everything. I know it takes time, but I'm grateful for the things I'm learning this week. I've felt the spirit a lot, and especially as I read the Book of Mormon. I know it is true. I had an investigator this week ask me about my experience in praying about Joseph Smith, which I haven't had anyone ask me my entire mission. It was a reminder to me that we ought to ask God if those things are true, even if we believe it. I LOVED the women's meeting! We were able to watch it during Relief Society on Sunday. WONDERFUL! My eyes were open wider and I understand things better. I loved it. 

Thanks for all your support. I love you all so much! I'm doing fine this week. I have faith in Jesus Christ. I love finding, teaching, everything. The downs are part of mortality. It's the best time of my life. I know if I am faithful and obedient, I will be happy. It's as simple as that. Can't wait to talk about conference with you all :) Have a great week this week!!

xoxo, Sister Seastrand

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 51

HEY!  Alright---Mom, don't freak out or anything, but this week was a little different. We were having a zone p-day last week, and were in Lucena. All of a sudden I started getting these weird body aches.  As the day progressed, I just was not feeling well at all. At one point I thought I was going to pass out so I sat down in the supermarket with my companion and told her I couldn't go anymore.  We went to the clinic to get some medicine for my fever and body aches. I couldn't even think of trying to get to transportation for the drive back to Candelaria, so I laid sick in the bed for 2 hours with screaming body aches in the Lucena Sister's apartment.  President and Sister Mangum with the Gallbraith’s (they know the McIntire’s, btw) came to get me! It was a crazy day. Anyways, I was sick for 3 days so we had NO district meeting and NO work for 3 days this week! UGH.
So we have water now! YAY! It’s so funny to see all of our water buckets from storage and from buying water at PureGold. ROUGH. It's been a weird transfer! haha So no one came to church again but it's okay because I think the Lord is really trying to teach me a lesson in humility. I'm learning so much this last week about how much the Lord loves me. I feel really close to Heavenly Father lately... probably because of my experience being sick (I guess I will share the whole details in about 4 months) but I could just feel God with me. I think we need to remember that God is closer to us in our everyday “going about's” than we realize. "For He is in all things, round about all things, through all things, and all things are before Him." I know that Heavenly Father loves me. And I'm grateful that He teaches me.
Sister Rafisura and I have been pretty down lately. Mostly just angry at our area, and our investigators are dropping us right and left, and I've been feeling frustrated.  And then today I studied on a topic I may or may not have been neglecting to study: Humility. Why does it always go back to our humility? It's because humility is the key to accessing the power of the Atonement and changing our NATURES, not just our BEHAVIORS. Out of all I've been through this week, if there's one thing I know and have learned: Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all One in purpose. And they want to be part of our natures. I know that as we access the atonement and humble ourselves we can gain real conversion to our Savior Jesus Christ. There's two questions everyday that I ask myself when I wake up: "Is it my will today? Or is it my Father's will today?" I think I'm learning more and more that the second choice is the celestial choice. I know if I am diligent and obedient and give my ALL to the Lord, how great will be my joy when I see my Savior again and have the confidence that I did the Father's will. Heavenly Father is willing to come as close as we let him, based on our answer to those two questions. Whose will is it today?
This week has been hard... not going to lie, it's been a trying week. But I'm not going to give up. My stubborn backbone is kicking in, and I'm going to continue to fight for the right, for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives and loves me. I know He is there to help me when I fall. I know that if I have faith in Him, we will find investigators that are ready to receive Him. I may not always be on the side of the vineyard where the harvesters are working, but I know I have a part here. And I can't see all the fruits yet. But If I am faithful, it will bear fruit in this part of the kingdom on earth. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ! I can't think of a better privilege than this. How lucky I am to serve Heavenly Father. I love them, and love them for their plan. I've got 4 and a half months to serve my Savior and Redeemer with all my heart. I'm not letting anything stop this sister! :)
It sounds like the Morningside was awesome, glad to hear that. And the weather!! I'm so jealous. Take pictures of the leaves! :) Also, there haven’t been any more typhoons (haha)… just that weird one, meant for only me. It was definitely strange, but the weather is so unpredictable here. 
For conference, we won't get to see it until October 11 and 12 (the following week). We'll get to go to the stake center in Lucena City and watch all the sessions there as members and missionaries! I can't wait! I'm excited to follow our leaders. I'm so jealous about the Women's Meeting!!! (That’s right, Mom, our last one apart. haha  It's true.)
So I just want to inform you: Sister Mckinney is a sister here that is from Utah. She lives in Spanish Fork, but she is going home next week. I gave her a letter for the fam and some pictures to enjoy... sorry it's not much but I had no time to write it while she visited the area. I hope you enjoy it! She will either mail it to Orem or just take it directly. :) I feel closer to you already, mom! :)
Well, I love you all so much. Thanks for showing and teaching me by example how to follow Jesus Christ and serve with all my heart, might, mind and strength. It says in PMG under Lesson 2 of the Plan of Salvation under the Atonement section (which is my fav, by the way), "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." Have a great week. I can't wait to hear from you again!!! I LOVE YOU TONS! I will drink water. Don't worry :)
Sister Seastrand

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 50

It's been an interesting, trying week. Every week has different experiences to learn from, right?
We have no water. WHY does this always happen to me? hahaha.  :(   SERIOUSLY-- every single area! We had to take a bath in our neighbor’s house. All four of us at 5 in the morning. (The water is extremely freezing here, btw.) I guess the pump is broken in our whole barangay. It's definitely an experience I won't forget. I guess I'm camping for the last 6 months of my mission life! :)

I had the chance to go to Tayabas for Exchanges with my wonderful Sister Training Leader, Sister Reed! I loved it. We start studying, and there's this huge rain and wind that starts coming upon us. We kept studying and had lunch and hoped that the rain would go away... BUT IT GETS WORSE!! It's like a little mini typhoon. We didn't go to work until 4 pm. We called our Zone leaders and other missionaries and they told us there was literally NO storm. Light rain, some wind. That's all. WHAT?!?!? WHY?!?!!?!?!? Anyways. It was a great time to talk about spiritual things and to see how we have both changed and grown in our mission. I learned a lot from her, in spite of the weirdest typhoon meant only for Tayabas.

A member in our ward got married last week... and he asked me if I would sing in their wedding..... Ok so this is actually what happened: Sister Martinez and her companion asked him if there was anything we could to do serve him at their wedding, and he said, "Yeah, could all four of you sing?" and then Sister M said, "Actually, we're not that good. But Sister Seastrand is good! You can ask her." Five seconds later, Sister Rafisura and I come walking down the hall and Ralph yells, "Hey! Sister Seastrand can you sing for us on Saturday?"  
( -_- )  --> my face as I'm contemplating my answer. I'm not one of those that can just whip out a solo or anything, let alone on the spot… It's really true when Pres Uctdorf said in conference that our church is a church of volunteers---sometimes voluntary, and sometimes other people volunteer you-for you. I can now say I have been a victim of that principle of our church. Anyways, all went well. It was wonderful! Despite my nerves. (Nerves mostly because Ralph and Beth know a lot of people. It was no small wedding!)  I sang a mix of Love is Spoken Here and Teach Me to Walk In the Light. It was a good experience to help me share my testimony with so many people in one place. :)

Sister Rafisura and I had an interesting Sunday. NO ONE CAME TO CHURCH. :(   Sad. It gets a little sad/frustrating and stuff when our investigators don't come. I have to say I felt a little bit annoyed and angry even...which hasn't really happened that often in my mission. But we talked about it after and I felt some spark come into my heart that I needed. It was a spark of gratitude. There are a lot of times in our lives when we can humph around at our situation, and times when we can feel angry for things that happen. I learned this week that a grateful heart can help us overcome that anger and to see the BIGGER PICTURE. I know Heavenly Father loves me. He is aware of me and wants to answer my prayers. If we are exactly obedient, we will get exactly what Heavenly Father has in store for us. Every time. Overall, good work this week. We are doing our best but it's time to raise the BAR and rise up to the calling and become chosen servants of God. He loves us so much! I know it's true.

Anyways, that was my week. I can't tell you even how much I love Heavenly Father for what he does for me. I just want you to know that I KNOW Heavenly Father is making a tapestry for us with our plans. He is in the details. It sounds like you all had a great week. It sounds like the funeral was wonderful. I LOVE what you shared with me about Kathleen’s analogy, Mom. It's so very true. In my blessing from the elders the other week, it said I would grow in my desire to do family history work. Maybe that's why I feel the connection with her and felt the loss so deep. Even though she is gone, I feel her. It's so amazing, Mom. Heavenly Father knows our hearts and our righteous desires. I just have to trust Him. Things in our area are great. I am working hard and trying to be obedient.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM & DAD!!!!!!!! I forgot to tell you last week. (Don't worry--I knew it, I just forgot to say it.) :) I love you both so much. What wonderful parents you are and what examples of what a celestial marriage looks like. Thank you for the marriage you have. It's been such an example for me.  And thanks for the advice, Mom. I promise. I'm not worried about ‘life after mission’. I am really enjoying my mission. :) Time is going fast! I am growing and changing, and I love it. I want to serve Heavenly Father the best I can. I'm excited for conference coming up, I definitely have some questions in my mind that I am pondering. I hope to receive revelation through my efforts from my prayers, fasting, and pondering.

I hope you all have a great week at work and school. I hope you know I love and think of you always. And NO the leaves don't change color in the Philippines, unfortunately! :( But take pictures for me if you can. The weather here is fine, but I think the rain is coming soon. I love you all SO MUCH!!!! Talk to you next week. Here are my hugs and kisses :)
Sister Seastrand