Monday, June 30, 2014

Bagong pamunkin!!! ahhhh grave sobrang masaya ako

(New pamunkin! ahhhh I'm very happy grave)

Me & Sister Tafiti
Ok. FIRST THINGS FIRST.  My first nephew!!!! Ahhhhh I am so so excited.  I already love Jace Clark Rasmussen with all of my heart.  I am so excited.  I am glad that he is one big, healthy, happy new addition to the family.  Haha so big.  I hope that Lindsay is ok!! She is in my prayers.  All of you are in my prayers.

But this week has been kind of a slow week.  And today, all of Calapan is out of internet.  I don't know how that is possible.  So we are in the elder's area and don't have very much time and the internet is slow but I hope you get this.  I am glad I at least get to print off your e-mails... I uploaded half my pictures on Photobucket and it was canceled.  I will have to do it next week I miss all of you a lot.  Especially with these new changes in the family.

My church starts at 9 and Sister Busbee plays the piano (one of the couple missionaries.)  She is 80 years old and offers piano lessons to the members and missionaries.   She teaches the members how to play so that when they leave, they will have pianists in the ward.  It's super cool.

Sister Tafiti & Me
So a few funny stories:  I have officially experienced my first earthquake.  Haha but it was short and really small.  We were right in the middle of the lesson and all of us were suddenly so confused.  Sister Tafiti said she could see flowers shaking on our investigators shelf.  It was such a strange experience.  Then afterwards, when we realized what had just happened, our hearts were racing and we were kind of freaking out.  It took us a little bit to pull ourselves together and try and bring the spirit into the lesson.  I was just thinking... wow if I got that scared at a tiny little 5 second earthquake, how am I going to react in the ginormous earthquake that we're due for in Utah.  Which reminds me - make sure all of you have your food, water storage!!!  Haha really though... I think the second coming is sooner than we think.  Then one night this week, I kneeled down with Sister Tafiti at her bedside to say prayers and I totally passed out.  We were so pooped.  She was saying the prayer and she said amen and I was gone.  She was laughing and said "amen" over and over getting progressively louder but I wouldn't budge.  She would lean in right next to my face and say "amen" and I wouldn't wake up. Hahaha she was laughing so hard.  Finally they started to be incorporated in my dreams and I woke up and was sooo embarrassed.  It was so funny though.  Sister Tafiti and I are basically laughing the whole day.  I feel like she is my best friend.  I am so lucky.  I secretly pray and hope we'll have one more transfer together.  I hope so.

On Friday night, one of our investigators wanted us to come to his daughter's 18th birthday party.  He said he had some referrals to introduce us to, so of course we wanted to go (food and referrals haha).  But, when we got there, it was not your typical low-key spaghetti and videoke Philippino birthday party.  I thought I was stepping into a wedding.  We entered into this big hall and sat down at a table at the base of a grand staircase.  They started with this huge presentation, with announcer and music.  The birthday girl had almost bridesmaids?  They all came down the staircase, one by one, with dates, in giant ballgowns.  

We just looked at each other like, "what did we get ourselves into?" Haha then the birthday girl came down the staircase and she had parang suitors come up to her one by one with a rose and dance with her, then they had family members and friends come up the front and light candles and give her birthday wishes.

 Then they set off a million balloons into the sky.  Haha we didn't know how to leave but it was so weird!  Haha and it was catered with all of these amazing foods.  I don't know if it is a cultural thing but I can't even imagine how much all of this cost.  Anyway, even though it took long it was a funny/cool experience.

Our golden investigator, Wayne (19 yrs. old) is ready for baptism.  He is amazing, and I wish all of my investigators could be like him.  He is just really searching, really praying, reading, always asking good questions.  We had a really good lesson this week with him on the gospel of Jesus Christ and on Sunday he came to church and asked when he could get baptized.  It is hard because we can only teach him twice a week so I think it will still be about 3 more weeks but we are excited for him.  Still following up on our other investigators, but the area is really progressing.  We're excited.  And we have just received a bunch of referrals from members.  The field really is white and ready to harvest.

On Saturday, we went to the baptism of one of the elders and their investigator gave such an incredible testimony.  He is so converted.  He had such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon.  The converting power of that book is inevitable It is almost impossible to deny its' divinity if you prayerfully read it.  I could feel the spirit so strong as he was testifying and I resolved to make sure that all of my investigators are completely converted and repentant before they enter into the sacred covenant of baptism.  Especially because there are just too many LA's in the Philippines.

One sad thing that I have witnessed this week are all of the broken families.  Within members and investigators.  You can see how much it effects the parents and children and how much unneeded sorrow it causes.  I am so grateful for the gospel and how it can bless and strengthen families and allow them to stay together forever.  I am also so grateful to you mom and dad.  For your incredible example, your love for one another, and your love and care for us.  I pray that I can have a marriage like yours someday.

I know that the gospel is true.  I won't deny it.  I love all of you so much and prayers are with you and our new addition, Jace!  Ahhhh he is so darling and so chubby.

Love, Sister Rasmussen

Monday, June 23, 2014

Magandang Tanghali mula sa Calapan Mindoro! Paraiso! Maswerte ako talaga...

(Good Noon from Calapan Mindoro! Paradise! I'm really lucky ...)

Cooking in the back 
Family!  How are all of you?  I miss you tons.  I have been getting lots of questions about my new area and companion and things so here I go.... (cue big breath)
Yon!  So, my new companion, Sister Tafiti, is so beautiful and an AMAZING companion.  I love her so much.  And I am so blessed and lucky to be serving with her and I have already learned so much from her.  She grew up in New Zealand, in the church, and she is 100% Samoan.  She is super fun and we laugh all the time.  I feel like I am with my best friend.  She comes from a family of 10 kids and her parents seem like rocks.  

Alongside Tagalog, I have been learning some new New Zealand slang:
Skuk - which is like a stud or a cute guy
Shout me - example: are you going to shout     us some
mackers, which means are you going to pay for us at McDonalds?  Haha so basically treating someone.
Keen- example: are you keen for a feed?  Which means do you want to go get some food?
Boot - trunk of a car
Dosh - money... haha lots.

I thought that Beau would like to learn some of those and implement them in his vocabulary.  Haha by the way that picture of his hair is outrageous.  He is killing it with the long na long hair. 

 My new apartment is really small.  There are four rooms: The kitchen/living room/study area, the bathroom, and two bedrooms.  It is so small that all four of us sisters have our desks in the same room and all study there.  

The stove and the laundry washing area is in the back and it's pretty small.  The good news is that I don't have to burn my garbage anymore:)  As far as the bathroom goes... it's definitely not like my last apartment.  It's much more like the rest of the bathrooms here in the Philippines, a concrete room with a toilet, a spicket for water and a bucket.  For showers we fill up the bucket and use a little scooper to pour the water over us.  To flush the toilet, we fill up the bucket and pour it in the toilet.  Haha but to be honest I don't mind it at all.  It's the way all the Philippinos do it here.  Probably the only difference is that our apartment is supplied with toilet paper... and I'm sure you can guess how Philippinos normally take care of their business.  No toilet paper.   

So I am here on an island: Mindoro.  The island itself is a zone and we are the only 4 sisters in the zone (which means I am one of the chosen ones).  It has a much different dynamic than my last zone which was 50/50 sisters and elders... or maybe even more sisters.  The food is the same and everyone in the Philippines always travels by trike and jeepney.  But maybe we do a little more walking here.

There is a new thing I have tried here though... they're soooo delicious. These homemade donuts with ubay (some sort of bright purple fruit) inside.  It is walking-distance from our apartment and is only 7 pesos.. so yeah.  Another thing that I have learned from the sisters here is to buy yogurt, pineapple chunks, and chocolate milk and eat it frozen.  It is pretty healthy and a good substitute to ice cream or something.  Masarap!  My companion and I have been cooking lunch together every day which is fun and yesterday we made those cookies from the package you sent the other day.  We don't have ovens but we do have these tiny little toaster oven things that we were able to make them.  Haha they weren't THE BEST haha but I hadn't had chocolate chip cookies in so long.. they were good.

Cooking with my companion Sister Tafiti and Sister Lero
The new branch is great.  Now that I am here... I realize how mahirap it was in my old ward.  I mean everyone here fulfills their callings, President Asis works right by the red handbook, we have a ward mission leader AND ward missionaries.  It's awesome and I love this ward so much.  In the Philippines you are always working with less actives... that is just the way here.  But this week was great.  We got 13 new investigators and we have 14 solid baptismal dates.  We are really excited.  Sister Tafiti said that this area has been struggling but that when we became companions she has seen how the work is really starting to progress.  We're both learning a lot from one another. 

   It's actually kind of weird to me because although I am on an island, the area that I am serving in, Calapan, is a pretty big city.  Which means something else... lots of mice and rats.  My worst fear.  The other day we were in the middle of a lesson and I was trying so hard not to get distracted by all the mice running around in the kitchen next to us.  Then I was baring my testimony and totally spazzed out - I screamed and threw up my feet because I thought there was a mouse next to my foot.  Haha there was nothing, but the lady we were teaching could not stop laughing.  I don't know if I will ever get over that fear.  Haha it's Sister Tafiti's worst fear too and I guess there was a big fat rat in our apartment before.  That better terrible but they were just such hip jams for this woman.  Anyway... I am working on it.  Haha in another lesson this week, we thought we were contacting a referral named Lynn.  So the ENTIRE TIME we were just calling her Lynn.. over and over.  Well at the very end she told us that her name was Febby.  Hahah Lynn was her next door neighbor.  We were so embarrassed.  But the thing is, her and her husband were very interested in our message.  So I think that we were supposed to teach them.  We met with Lynn and it turns out that she was taught by the missionaries before and was a WEEK AWAY from baptism.  Her and her husband were saving up money to go to the Manila temple, and she was super involved in the church.  BUT.... she got offended.  But she is very potential and I know we can help her forgive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  She said she was so happy during that time in her life and wants to feel that again.  In the end of the lesson she prayed and started crying... I know that her heart is already softening and it is just a matter of time.

One cool experience:  One of the older investigators, Tatay Abas has been taught for a while now.  He is really hard to teach because he is a big CHATTER BOX.  Before that we ran into a member who we have never worked with before, Tatay Ricardo, and he agreed to come to this lesson to Tatay Abas.  He ended up being the PERFECT fellowshipper for him.  During the lesson we were trying to resolve his concern about coming to church... he is always full of excuses.  He has prayed about the Book of Mormon and knows that it is true.  He knows Joseph Smith is a true prophet but he won't come to church.  In the middle of the lesson, a scripture popped into my mind: Alma 34:33.  It is about how we can't procrastinate the day of our repentance.  Anyway.... it really touched him.  His whole demeanor changed.  Then Tatay Ricardo shared a great testimony about him and his family and being sealed in the temple.  Well... on Sunday, after many prayers.  Him and his wife walked up to church an hour early.  There are small little miracles every day and I can't fit them all in in one e-mail.  But I know that the Lord's work goes forward.  It is His work and one by one He is gathering His sheep.
Me, Sister Tafiti, & Wayne
We have one investigator that I love.  His name is Wayne and he is 19 years old.  He comes from a broken family and many of his sibling were baptized but are inactive now.  His mom lives on a different island and is still active and referred us to him.  He was very willing to listen and he is really searching.  He wants to know for himself if these things are true.  He has been praying and reading and he now knows the Book of Mormon is true.  We have faith he can be baptized by the end of the transfer.  

Just to follow up with my investigators in my last area.... Sister Hingano told me that Estellita, Ronnie, Hellen, and their son are all getting baptized.  I am so excited for them, and although I am sad I won't be able to witness their baptisms, I am so happy and excited to now help the people here in Calapan.

I love this work so much.  I love the Philippines.  I love you.  And I love the gospel.  I know it is true with all of my heart and I cannot and will not deny it.

Ingat po.

Sister Rasmussen

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Paalam kay President Peterson... malungkot naman... iyak na iyak

(Farewell to President Peterson ... so sad ... crying crying)
Minamahal pamilya ko!  Namimiss ko kayong lahat.  I have a lot to tell you so as a preface to this letter I will probably have some grammatical errors... no not because I am forgetting English.  But rather because I am typing as fast "as a bat out of hell" (mom's saying).
President, Me, & Sister Peterson
  Ok so first off... ahhhh this week we had our last zone conference with President Peterson.  Oh my goodness..... I haven't cried that much in a long time.  Not only was the spirit strong but we are going to miss him sooo much.  Him and his wife are such incredible people and I wouldn't be surprised if he is a general authority someday.  I have learned so much from him and even though I have only had him as a president for 4 1/2 months, I am so grateful.  And we learned sooo many incredible things at the conference, so I will try and share with you:

 First, Sister Peterson shared with us the doctrine of family.  Apparently the area presidency in the Philippines asked that they focus on the family during this zone conference.  Siguro to help those we teach (members and investigators) create strong families, because as we know the family is the basic unit of the church and of our societies.  Also, I am grateful she talked about this so that when I go home and someday have my own family I can apply the things that I learned.  Plus President and Sister Peterson have been married about 40 years and they are such a great example of a strong marriage.
She focused a lot on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World"  I encourage all of you to read it again.  But she said there are 5 things that we must have in order to have a happy marriage
1) You must regard your marriage as priceless (consider the covenant that each of you individually made in the temple.  God considers it priceless, which is why families.. eternal families are central to the gospel and our acquisition of eternal life)
2)Built on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  As you come closer to Christ, you both inevitably come closer together.
3) Repentance.  (ibig sabihin humility... ready to work on your own short comings and faults before you criticize your spouse.  How can you both humble yourselves and repent.)
4) Respect.  In great marriages, the couple makes decisions together.  Completely loyal, open, and absolutely no secrets.  I love this:  She emphasized, "Cooperation, not negotiation."
5) Last: Love.  Siyempre.  President says that at the time he married his wife, he thought he couldn't love her anymore.  He could not comprehend the idea that he could love her anymore than he did at that time.  But he says now, looking in retrospect, that was puppy love.  They went through some hard times, but the love he feels for her now is 40x that.  He said, "Just imagine what it will be 400 years from now, 4,000 years from now, 4,000,000 years from now.  Siguro our little human minds can't comprehend the love that will be perpetuated beyond the grave.  Anyway, I am not as eloquent as them, but I hope you get the idea.

Also one little quote I love that they had hanging in their home: "The most important things in life aren't things."

In the proclamation to the family it explicitly states that at the judgement day, we will be held accountable before God for the discharge of our obligations in marriage.  This is serious business haha.

Ok next.  One thing that I love about President and that I have learned from him is how to connect everything to the simple doctrine.  Everything stems from the Doctrine of Christ.  Everything.  And furthermore, everything stems from the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  They proceeded to do a question and answer and someone asked: "How can you maintain a holy home?"
He said that you must avoid contention at all costs.  He also said that your home should be like a triangle sliced into three parts, where the biggest bottom tier is doctrine.  The middle tier (which is smaller) are principles.  The very top and tiniest part of the triangle are rules.  He said that you must spend most of your time focused on and teaching the doctrine.  If your children understand the doctrine, then you won't even need the rule.  He said that often time in homes, all the focus is on rules and so of course the children don't want to keep them - because they don't understand the simple doctrine behind it.  

Someone asked him what the biggest thing is he has learned from being a mission president.  He said there is an infinite amount of learning, but the first thing that popped into his head and amazed him is the fact that the Lord's work will go forward.  That even though he puts it into the hand of a bunch of (sometimes stupid, immature, and humble) 18-21 year olds.  The work will inevitably go forward.  That this is His work and absolutely nothing can stop it.  As a missionary, I can feel the enabling power of the Atonement working through me, doing and learning things that I never thought were possible.
Him and his wife also said that this is the most humbling experience that he has ever had.  That as he as learned so much, they have realized how much more they still need to learn.

Something that I thought you might find interesting.  Someone asked him from the time that he served as a young missionary in the Philippines, until now as a mission president, what is the progress that he has seen?
He said that back when he first served here, there were 3,500 members in the entire country, only one chapel (the rest were meeting houses that the missionaries lived above in an apartment).  He said the missionaries did everything for church: presided, conducted, blessed the sacrament, passed it, gave the talk, conducted, etc.  Absolutely everything.  He said that they never worked with members.  That all they could do was tract.  Tract from sun up to sun down.  Hahahah he joked that we could never give him a hard time about tracting because we have never experience tracting like him.

Now, there are 700,000 members in the Philippines (many of which are involved in the work), two temples (and one on the way).  The Philippines is the fastest growing area in the whole world for the church.  Of course with that there are problems, like the large amount of inactives... but still!!  It is pretty incredible to hear about the progress.

He focused a long time talking about Priesthood keys (another area I need to spend some time studying... I realized how much I don't know about the priesthood haha).  But he finally explained that the new president has the keys to be our President.  That he will come and will be qualified to help move this work forward, and his last assignment for us to welcome him with love and excitement and be completely loyal to him.  I think President Peterson knows how much we love, respect, and look up to him.  He has been such an AMAZING president, but he wants us to show that same kind of love for the new president.  It will be hard, but I know that I will love him too and will have lots to learn from him as well... for a whole nother YEAR!!!

At the end President Peterson gave all of us a hug and I was crying so hard I couldn't even look at him but he just stopped and thanked me for my faith and example on this mission.  He made me promise that I would write him at the end of my mission and give him a report.  I want to visit him when I go home! ahhhhh

That's my next point.  I have now (well in two days) been serving a mission for 6 months.  I don't understand.  That went by SOOO FAST.  Holy cow.  I am so grateful that I have another year to continue to learn, improve, and of course serve these beautiful people here in the Philippines.  It's true - I am so happy.  Probably the happiest I have been in my life.  And not to sound naive, but I thought I had a pretty happy life before.  I have learned sooo much.  I am pretty happy about my language skills... I feel as though I can say and understand almost everything (which I have worked for but the gift of tongues is so real.  It feels like I have known this language forever).  But overall, I think I have just really learned what is important in life.  We can't let the insignificant and trivial things in life take priority over that which is the most important in life - our families and the gospel.  Our first priority every single day should be our scriptures and prayer.  We need to keep the Sabbath day holy every week.  It is just those little daily decisions that will not just help us get by.... not just help us get through... or not even just help us to repent and receive forgiveness.... but also to help us grow.  Grow at a faster pace.  Learn all that we can.  Really come to know Jesus Christ.  Because after death... we can't bring with us all of those little things.  Those little insignificant things.  We bring our relationships and our knowledge - so why do we so often put those things at last priority.  It is easy to forget in the midst of normal life but we must force ourselves to remember.

So I commit all of you right now to read your scriptures every day (even if it is just 15 minutes... we all have 15 minutes) and KNEEL and pray twice a day.  Why?  Because we have faith in and love Jesus Christ.  Because we have faith in following His example and keeping ALL of his commandments.  At least.  Anyway... you probably already all do this.  It's just that as I have been here, I have realized how backwards my priorities were before I came.

Anyway.... ok!  So on Monday this week, we went to this restaurant for my birthday, and the two zone leaders because we were all within one week of each other.  It was this restaurant on the beach where we could see the entire view of the ocean and beach and little islands. 

INCREDIBLE.  And the food was delicious.  I got chicken curry because I miss Thai food so much and it was masarap.  Haha but I will send a picture.  We went with our little family of 6 here in Calapan.  (since mom asked, it is pronounce cah-lah-pahn),  Super fun and for a second there I didn't even feel like I was on a mission but was on vacation.  

Later that night we went to teach one of their old investigators and she ran out and wouldn't talk to us.  Haha she basically threw the Book of Mormon back at us and said that her pastor wouldn't let her talk to us.  My companion was pretty bummed about it but to be honest, it was just kind of funny to me and I thought... "Sweet.  We were almost out of mga Aklat ni Mormon so now we can use this week with our other investigators."  Haha but we just laughed it off and realized that whenever one door closes, another opens.

Tuesday, we went to Lipa and we had to catch the 2:30 boat so we just spent the day there kind of hanging out because we didn't have anywhere to go until the Sisters got back so we could go and sleep at their apartment in Lipa.  Wednesday was the zone conference and then Thursday, we had exchanges with the STL's.  It was a great birthday.  I learned so much from Sister Lacanienta and then we got ice cream and the sisters bought a cake and some pants for me. 
 It was simple, and just super fun.  President also called me which made my day.  The last time I will be talking to him before I go home.

Then we just worked in our area the past few days.  It has been a little bit of a weak area but I know that we will be able to exercise our faith and it can become successful.  We had 5 investigators come to church which is good, and we are excited.  I will have some cooler stories about people as I actually work in my area this week.

I love all of you so much.  Thank you for your support and for helping me to have a good birthday.

Magingat huh!!!

Love Sister Rasmussen

Monday, June 9, 2014

Maligayang kaarawan sa akin!! Biro Lang.. haha

(Happy birthday to me! Just joking .. haha)

 Oh my goodness I have so much to tell you in so little time.  But let me just first say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who wrote me a letter or a note for my birthday.  That was sooooo sweet and nice of everyone and I loved it.  I love having handwritten letters as well.  Thank you so much.  I did receive the package early so of course I have already opened it... that's ridiculous... haha but I will read those notes over and over.  Thank you!  I love you all.
Sister Tafiti & me sitting in the computer shop right now.

OK!  So I will start with the biggest news.  Ahhhhh.... I GOT 

TRANSFERRED!!!  So amazing.  AND... not only that.... I got transferred to Calapan, Mindoro.  Now, I am sure that doesn't mean anything to you but let me explain.  Mindoro is one of the two islands in the mission and everyone refers to it as the "promised land."  It is soooo beautiful here.  I have always heard people rave about Mindoro and I can't believe I was one of the chosen ones to get sent here.  In fact, all last transfer, Sister Hingano was saying that she wouldn't mind getting transferred as long as she got sent here.  I feel so blessed.

On the boat ride to Mindoro
It has started to rain and I loveeeee the rain.  But when it rains and we ride on the tricycles I am too cold.  I hate that.  I'm like... I thought I came to the Philippines where I would just be warm and happy hahahaha.

 At the pier when we first arrived with all of my elder companions hahaha...

Some of our investigators live on the beach!  AND My companion, Sister Tafiti is amazing.  She is probably one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen and she is so Christ-like and magaling and I know I will learn so much from her.  I can't believe how blessed I am.  She is pure Samoan but she is from New Zealand (hopefully I can pick up on her accent haha).  Anyway, I am just so blessed right now I can't believe it.  

Sister Tafiti & Me
  The new branch is also amazing but there is a lot of drama because the old President would just let anything go and would often go over budget.  Well a lot of members are offended because the new President goes strictly by the Red Handbook, so he is not so laid back.  He is a very good and effective President (not like my last Bishop).. but yeahhh.... Philippinos get offended very easily.  So we are trying to deal with that.  There are lots and lots of less-actives in this area.  Lots of work but my companion and I made a new vision for the area on Friday and set some good goals so we are excited to get to work!  In this branch there are two elders, the ZL's and us four sisters.  So we have a little family here in Calapan.  In fact yesterday we all cooked Sunday dinner together but the elders aren't allowed in our apartment so they just stayed outside (the stove is outside) and then we brought the table out and all ate in front of our apartment.  It was fun and it's nice to feel like we have a family here haha am living with Sister Bennion who is from Orem and Sister Lero who is Philippino.  They are both so sweet and hard workers so I am excited to live with them and learn from them too.

Saturday we weeded gardens at an elementary school.  Kinda fun.

We have some investigators here that we are really excited about.  Brother Wayne is 19 and grew up in the church, but now is family is broken and they have all found different religions.  He is searching for the truth and still remembers the feelings he had while attending the Mormon church when he was young.  He is super interested and I honestly think he will be baptized within the transfer.  We have another referral named Sam who is 31 and is all alone (his dad left a long time ago and all his family has moved to different parts of the Philippines).  He is living with his aunt who referred us to him, and she is a very active member.  I also just think it is good timing for him... he is prepared and we're excited.  

And lastly Alex....oh Alex.... Alex is about 40 and lives on the beach.  We went to teach him Friday but he was passed out drunk outside of his house.  We went back to teach him Saturday and he was so embarrassed and just sad.  He just asked us, "why is life like this?  Why is life so hard?"  He kept saying how he just feels like he has so many sins and they are so heavy.  His wife left him a long time ago, and you can tell that his alcohol addiction really affects his two sons that live with them... they're super sad about and embarrassed of their father.  He really really needs the atonement.  He is humble and ready for the truth, but he needs to overcome his alcohol addiction in order to be sober enough for us to really teach him and of course so he can eventually be baptized.  I hope to be able to help him make a change in his life.  Seeing things like this just really makes me hate alcohol... well really just sin in general.  Satan is so good at making something seem appealing and like it will bring you happiness until he can just catch you and drag you down to unhappiness.

That's the best part of being a missionary, is to witness that change in people's lives.  To see the atonement work on them.  When I was on an exchange with Sister Ika, we visited one of her recent converts.  He is a living testimony of this.  He is about 75 years old, and when they first found him, he was completely blind, hunched over, only looking down, he had no roof on half of his home, he felt completely hopeless, and on the very day he was contemplating suicide.  His first wife died and his second wife left him with all of his kids.  When I met him, he was smiley, standing up tall, and had a glow to his countenance.  For a service project, some of the members in that ward built a roof for him, for which he is so grateful.  He can now see a little bit (if he holds up images or things really close to his eyes) and is able to walk to church every Sunday.  Even his neighbors notice the change that has come upon him.  One of the members in the ward reads the Book of Mormon to him every day.  It is just incredible.  He is so happy now and views himself as a son of God with value.  He has such a strong testimony, and while teaching him I could feel the spirit so strong.  That is the sweetest part of missionary work.  To see the change, the atonement in their lives, and the blessings from the gospel.  To know that you are really making a difference.

I love all of you so much.  Thank you again for the letters.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere else for my birthday.  I love Jesus Christ and His gospel, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share it with my brothers and sisters.  Oh, how much I have learned and how much I still have to learn.
In front of my apartment
Just as Cynthia Haller says, "A mission is college for the soul."  Tell her thank you for her incredible example to me and support.  I often think about what an incredible missionary she must have been.

Love ya tons!

Sister Rasmussen
Sister Tafiti did my hair super cool!