Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mission Accomplished

Dear Family, 

Well, this is it. All that was running through my mind when we left Chonna and Hernie's house at 8:00pm last night was..."It's Over." And the tears started. I can't even believe it. I had a good little interview with President earlier, and right now I am waiting for our Departure Meeting to start in the mission office. Some of the missionaries' parents are here to pick them up. It's weird. haha. 

On Thursday, Kitkit was baptized...WOOOOOO!!! And she was confirmed yesterday. (I'll have to tell you the story of the traveling baptismal pants.) The highlight for me, other than BAPTISM was the talk that Sister Robelyn gave. She was so prepared and it was amazing. 

Elna is now officially called as the Gospel Principles class teacher, and Robelyn was sustained and set apart as the Assistant Family History consultant. Progress!!!!! Those callings are seriously PERFECT for them. I am so excited for them to continue to grow in the gospel. 

Friday, we had a way sick Halloween party with the Branch. Sister Ribelin and Sister Haun headed up the preparations, everyone pitched in, and it was a huge success. Lots of investigators and Less actives attended, too! 

This Saturday (on Grandma Allred's birthday), the Salde's will be baptized...Rosemarie, Francis, and Geraldine. We've been going crazy getting them ready...but that's just what needs to happen when THEY ARE SO PREPARED!!! Talk about golden... 

It has not been easy to say goodbye. I've been holding it mostly together. Filipinos are the SWEETEST people...they've given me some sweet little gifts that mean so much because of the love behind it. And so many hugs. I love them so much. I will miss this soooooo much. It still doesn't seem real. Sister Domingo's not taking it easy either. I woke up early to finish packing...and when she woke up she was crying. She keeps telling me not to go. :( 

Hmmm...Last words... Pressure. :) My time as a sister missionary in the Philippines Iloilo Mission has been AMAZING. I know without a doubt that this work is the Lord's work. It doesn't always go as expected, but it goes exactly as He wants it. I feel like I had a testimony before, but now it has been anchored and I have a direction. My mission has set me on the Lord's course. I have met and served and been served by so many beautiful people in the last 18 months. I cannot even begin to express the happiness my mission has brought to me. True happiness...because my life is centered in Christ. Happiness that comes because of obedience to the commandments and unconditional love for the Lord and His children. The lessons I have learned here will carry me throughout all eternity. It is not easy. But nothing easy was ever worth it. "Salvation is not a cheap experience." 

I love you all. I will be eternally grateful for this mission experience. I know it is just a springboard for great things to come. Most of all, I know He lives! Halong! 

Love, Sister Cassandra Winward

Sister Cassie Winward
Philippines Iloilo Mission
May 2013 to November 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Last Full Week

Dear Family,
How are all of you? This has been another amazing week. Of course. I am starting to get nervous, and of course excited about seeing you all again. So little time left. It seems sooo surreal. Life is but a dream!
This week we moved into our new apartment.  It feels like a hotel, because it is brand new, and I am living out of my suitcase since there is no point in unpacking. It is so nice, but I miss the other house because it was close to the L.  family...and close to most of our investigators. haha.
I need to brag about Hernie this week. Seriously. He is amazing. Every single thing we have taught him, he has been applying to his life. Like Saturday, we taught him Law of the Fast, and he determined on the spot that he would fast on Sunday for he and Chonna's marriage. So he did. And he even paid tithing yesterday and he's not even a member yet! Oh man! I am so excited for him to become a member and for his baptism and for everything. Wow!
The S.  family is still golden. We have to kick it up a notch so they can be baptized on Nov. 8, because there is no reason at all to delay it, so they will be all ready for their baptismal interviews by the time I leave to go to Arevalo next week.
Kitkit passed her interview, and I think the only problem left is finding baptismal clothes small enough for her. She is so tiny.
Elna and Robelyn are doing great. They are addicted to the scriptures. The miracle of the week was that my order of scriptures and hymnbooks finally arrived, so it has been really fun to deliver those to all these people that I love so much.
We had a great lesson with Andrea the other day where she totally bore her testimony of how the gospel has changed her life. I am so excited for her. Nov. 15!!!
I'll see you all so soon. I love you all! Thanks for your love, support, letters, packages, emails, and especially prayers over the last 18 months. Have an excellent week!

Love, Sister Winward 

Friday, October 24, 2014

"The Time is Far Spent"

Dear Family, 

How are all of you? I have decided that my theme song for this week is "The Time is Far Spent," next week is "God Be with You til We Meet Again," and the week after that is "America the Beautiful." (There's more where that came from, brace yourselves for corny missionary humor. Awkward.) 

Anyway...HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY. My gorgeous sister has a big birthday.  Also clear the roads, she's gonna start learning how to drive. YIKES! (Me relearning how to drive is probably a scarier prospect though. haha) 

This week in the Book of Mormon I really enjoyed studying Alma 26 and 29...where Ammon and Alma are rejoicing in the Lord and full to the brim with gratitude for their missions. I feel like I have that in common with them. As I have been reflecting a bit on my mission, I know that I am still so far from perfect, but somehow the Lord has been able to use me as an instrument in His hands for furthuring His eternal plan and purposes, even if only a little bit. I have learned so much. I have learned so much about how to learn the gospel and live it. I am so grateful for the experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the growth I have personally had as a missionary and servant of my Savior, and for the change I have seen in those around me through the gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't want this to end, but I know there is a time and season to all things. 

This week we continued working on finding the less actives in our area. We contacted Brother Paul last week and taught him twice this week. We held one of our appointments with him at the church, which was perfect for some instant fellowshipping. The only thing that has been holding him back for the last 5 years has been shyness. But he is friends already with so many of the members. Paul and Glen came to church this week. Yay!!! Elder Sessions always reminds us that we need to view the rescue with just as much value as baptisms. A returned or a converted soul are just the same to the Lord, He wants us all to progress forward in faith on the path He has prepared. 

Last Wednesday, Sister Ribelin and I had an awesome day on exchanges. We had a treasure hunt in Madrangca for the less actives on our list, and actually found some solid investigators, like Renz, who has at least 10 piercings, and was so excited to look up :) In the evening we taught Kitkit, and found out that her grandma was going to take her to Manila for two weeks. Including the week of her baptism. I felt like I hit a brick wall. Seriously??? My last chance to see one of my investigators reach the waters of baptism is being taken away? What? No no no no no. Sister Ribelin suggested that we fast as a household for Kitkit. So we did. All four of us fasted that Kitkit will be baptized on Oct. 30 and that she woud somehow not go to Manila. And it happened! Simple as that! Her grandma decided it would cost to much and not be worth it to take Kitkit along for the trip. I am so grateful for the power of fasting. And I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows us so perfectly and individually. I don't think I could've gotten through that one without Sister Ribelin. And we didn't even know, but Oct. 30 is Kitkit's father's birthday. Perfect! I know that everything about my mission has been prepared by the Lord. His hand is in everything. And the closer I am to Him the more I notice it. It is amazing. 

The S family is still doing great. Geraldine read through the whole children's Book of Mormon Stories in one night. And they have been praying for answers. Hernie and Chonna are doing great as well. We taught them about Tithing last night. And Brother Hernie finally made it through all 3 hours of church here in San Jose. :) I am so excited for this area. 

I love you all and I hope you all have a great week. Seek Him and you'll see the miracles that follow. 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, October 20, 2014

Castaway to Sira-an, Anini-y, Antique

Dear Family, 

It has been a great, wild week. Two Fridays ago, there was an earthquake here on Panay (we felt it about a 4 or 5). I forgot to mention it. Then last Friday there was a typhoon. But we're all good. San Jose just got soaked. It was a signal 2 here, according to Sister Domingo, my personal weather woman (Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyen was a 4+). I heard Luzon and Japan got it pretty bad though. 

This morning we went on an awesome adventure! We (the STLs, my comp, some members and I) went to this tiny cute little island called Sira-an down at the bottom of Antique. The beach was white and the water was aquamarine blue. It was soooo beautiful. We hired this sketchy little boat to take us out to the island. We were fairly certain it would capsize, but it's all good. This local girl was showing us around the island. I'll show you the pictures in a couple of weeks. There were little starfish and gorgeous flowers and SO much coral all over the place. If anyone wants a way sick vacation adventure...Antique is where it's at. :) 

This week we started a new project. I decided to get together all of the names of the members that supposedly live in our area. The records aren't all up to date. But we are going to try to find as many of the Less Actives as we can. Some of them haven't been contacted in a long time. We are hoping to further the Rescue and also find some sweet part-member families. I am excited to leave Sister Domingo with lots more to do and lots of opportunities on her hands. This work will not stop moving forward, especially not in San Jose A. I know the Lord is guiding us. Even if I personally don't see all the fruits of my mission, which I know I won't, I know I have planted as much as I can so far. We don't do this work alone. We truly need each other and we need unity so the work is a continuous effort. 

I am grateful for the opportunity we had this weekend to watch General Conference. Just because a bunch of people have asked about how things work here in the Philippines: General Conference is sent here from the Area Office on DVDs the week following the live broadcast, then we get to watch it the next Saturday and Sunday together in the Stake/District Center. And this Saturday we get to watch the Womens' Broadcast. Yay! General Conference is like Christmas to missionaries. Every talk is like a gift under the tree. (By the way, there are 72 days until Christmas.) I especially like the theme of loving and sustaining the Prophet and our leaders in the church and trusting the revelation they receive. The living Lord leads His living Church....and why would a living being ever stop speaking? That is the principle of continuous revelation. I am so thankful for the power of prayer and for every opportunity to teach about prayer. Just last night, we were able to teach Francis and Nerisa and the rest of their family that it is okay to be frank with our Heavenly Father. He wants that kind of open, honest communication from us. How else would the young Joseph Smith have received his answer if he hadn't asked the question that burned in his soul? Sometimes our investigators just get stuck in their prayers. So do most of us. It takes more consideration than ordering at the drive thru window. It is not meant to be rushed through. It is good to be grateful, but not to be repetitive. Or to ignore the problems and questions we all have. So talk to Him about it. He'll help you figure it all out and have peace. That is such a key to missionary work. Those who stop progressing are those who haven't tried to ask Him to know the truth. It makes a huge difference. 

I am so proud of Robelyn, too. She stayed for both of the Sunday sessions and took notes and was so excited to see the prophet. She makes me want to be a better member and to help the other members to be so excited about the gospel too. She is an amazing example to me. I am excited for her to be sustained in her calling next week!!! Moving forward! 

I love you all! Remember to read and pray every day! Have and Excellent week! 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sacred Time

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Dear Family,
How are all of you? I had a good week this week. A much better week. Key indicator-wise. Companion-wise. Member-missionary-work-wise. Study-wise. Just everything. It was a good week. By the way everyone, in the Philippines, Christmas music starts playing when the "BER" months MERRY CHRISTMAS. Also, on Sept. 23 will be 100 days until Christmas. Just so you all know. Also, transfer week is this week. Either I'm staying here and it will all be the same, or everything is going to get flipped upside-down for my LAST 6 WEEKS. Stay tuned. haha
Well, some great things happened this week. I want to tell you about some great people...
Glenn is awesome. We are now BFFs. jk. We spent some time with him last Monday night, and he even treated us to the fancy-pants Steakhouse right by our house that I hadn't tried yet. He didn't come to church, the stinker, but now we have a friendship with him it can only go up from here. We found out he is a really skilled Civil Engineer and he even designed our way nami apartment (I'll show you all pictures of the San Jose apartment when I'm home). And we were able to build a little trust with another LA Melchizedek Priesthood holder, Allan, we spent an hour talking with him about his Bonsai tree collection, because he doesn't really want us to teach him...YET.
Nikkie is Kinkin's mom. (By the way, Kiara will have her heart surgery this Wednesday. She just had some checkups and things for the last week. She'll be back by their birthday on Oct. 9.) Nikkie worked with us last Wednesday. She is also our new BFF. We went jogging-jogging and tsika-tsika (chatting) with her at the Binirayan track this morning. Then she treated us to a little tinapay (bread) snack at Bread&Butter. She is really cool, and so faithful through all these trials. Her son just died of cancer and her daughter is going to have heart surgery...I'm pretty sure I'd be freaking out, but she is so happy man gihapon. She is surely anchored in Christ.
Rene is Brother Kiko's cousin. He will be baptized on Oct 18. He is kind of a shy one, but he opened up a little more to us this week. Repentance is going to be a big part of his baptism prep. But I know that as he relies on the Savior, he will become a new person gid. I am excited to see his testimony grow.
Kitkit is still doing well. I messaged her mom on facebook (Merry Chris), and her mom is planning on staying here for good once her contract in Kuwait ends in 2 years. She has plans to open a store or something. I am excited for that, because I know her family needs her. Who ever thought going abroad to work was a good idea was crazy...but some people here are that desperate. I just hope she'll see that by putting her family and their salvation first, the Lord will really take care of all the rest. Just TRUST Him. Kitkit will also be baptized on Oct. 18.
Andrea is doing well. She is reading the Book of Mormon consistently and excited to share with us what she learned every time we teach her. She was pretty sick over the weekend, so she couldn't come to church. But she is preparing to be baptized and so excited. She read 2 Nephi 31 and learned so much this week. She's only 12, but her testimony is really developing so much. I am excited to see her progress and maybe even serve a mission one day. Who knows.
Sister Condes is like our mom here in San Jose. She fed us on Saturday night. Beef Pepper-steak--Yum. She is so funny. She is one of those people that never ever stop talkin-talkin-talking... but I have learned so much about life by listening to her tell about her life. (She works in the prosector's office...I'll have to tell you about the joke: "Who stab you?!") She is so generous and selfless. Her son is serving a mission in Quezon City. She has been working with us every week this month, and she gave us the most nami referral this week. Nerisa is the mother of Francis and 6 other kids. We only taught Nerisa and Francis, but they are so prepared. Francis is 26 and told us that he made sure to get Sundays off already so he could go to church. According to Sister Condes, he told his mom he wants to become a Mormon. :) Yay!
Hernie is doing great. Last-last week we taught him Plan of Salvation. Or he taught us... We left them with the little picture cut-outs so Chonna could explain it to him without us, because he only has a little bit of time that we can teach him. But they talked about it all, and Chonna told us he practiced setting up the pictures in the right order every night. haha. When he showed us, he was nervous and hesitating, but he did great. Like it was a test or something. haha. We were able to teach him about the doctrines, and he is so excited to be baptized. They are consistent with their daily prayer and scripture study as a family. Yay! We are still waiting on paperwork for them to be able to get married, but I'm pretty sure they have all the money saved up they will need.
My companion is doing a lot better with waking up on time and other things. Exchanges with the STLs and a good Companionship Inventory helped a lot. It always does. :) We are a lot more open and unified than we were. And obedient. It is the best. :) The hymn "Lord, I would follow thee," hymnbook page 220 helped me a lot this week.

I had some great study this week that I want to share with all of you. I found a hidden treasure in our was a special edition copy of the Liahona from October 2011 all about the Book of Mormon (see link below). Right now as a mission we are studying the Book of Mormon, so I was excited to learn more. I suggest you all read the whole thing, but of course, not everyone has an hour of personal study built into their schedule every day, so at least read/watch the talk by President Ezra Taft Benson (see link below). You will never be the same. I learned so much about the power of testimony and how it is gained. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon. It is so much more precious and valuable than we realize most of the time. I know it is the way to gaining a sure and steadfast testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and this church is His kingdom on the earth today. Ponder just for a moment all the effort put into the book you can hold in your hands and take anywhere you want... So simple, but it makes all the difference for us that are converted to the truth. Be consistent in your study of the Book of Mormon. 
Elder Richard G. Scott said:“What does the Book of Mormon mean to you? Has it been a source of inspiration and power in your life? Will it continue to be? If you have not yet drunk deeply from this fountain of pure truth, with all of my soul I encourage you to do so now. Don’t let the consistent study of the Book of Mormon be one of the things that you intend to do but never quite accomplish. Begin today.” Immerse yourselves in the Book of Mormon, and the Lord will make your life beautiful.

BOM talk by Pres. Benson 1986: 
Liahona Oct. 2011: 

I love you all so much. Have a great week. Thanks always for the emails and encouragement and support and thoughts and prayers. You are all the best. Share with me what you learn in your study of the Book of Mormon. Replace your fears with faith in Jesus Christ. Halong pirmi.
Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Dear Family,
How are all of you? I am doing great...a little sick, but Sister Ribelin gave me some essential oils and it's working like a charm. If anyone can guess what "Keyk" is I'll give them a prize. Guys, you won't even believe it, a "joe" is sitting next to me in the internet cafe. It is so weird to see other Americans. haha...I'm gonna have the WORST culture shock. Just sayin.'
So this week has been good. Ups and downs. As usual. haha. Mission life is so unexpected and so routine at the same time. I love it!
On Monday we had a cool lesson with Kitkit and the Tupas family. It is hard to get little kids to pay attention, right? So we were going to teach them the Plan of Salvation one piece at a time, and without planning this beforehand, Sister Domingo and I had an idea to take them on a little "tour." So we had all the little kids (ages 6 to 14) close their eyes, we pulled out our flashlights and shined it on their faces, and told to them use their imaginations as we toured them through our time in the Premortal Life. It was really cool. Then we did it again on Saturday night when we taught them about the Creation, Adam and Eve, and the Atonement. Elder Ortiz the AP was working with us that day, and it was cool to share that idea with him. We just narrated it all and then the kids thought it was so cool. Narrating the Atonement brought the spirit so strong. I know even thought they're young, they felt it.
Kinkin's funeral was on Thursday. It was a really nice service. We got to sing "A Child's Prayer" with the primary kids. He is buried in a nice, private cemetery more like the ones we have in America. Kinkin's uncle, Glenn, spoke and gave Kinkin's biography. Glenn has been less-active forever and a half...Sister Viliami and I tried to track him down before, but he is usually AWOL. Because of the funeral and Kinkin's passing, we were finally able to meet Glenn, and we have an appointment with him tonight. Yay! We are going to focus on just gaining his trust and building a friendship with him. And Kinkin's mother, Niki, is planning to come work with us this Wednesday. She is so strong. Also, Kinkin's younger sisters are twins, Kyla and Kiara. Kiara has a heart problem and will be going to get a long-awaited surgery this Tuesday. They are so blessed to have someone sponsoring the surgery. Even out of their heart-breaking loss, this family is already experiencing blessings.
I've had an interesting time with Sister Domingo this week.  The Lord taught me that effectively correcting people will never come in yelling at them, but speaking boldly and lovingly. Giving them time, understanding, and patience. And eternal second chances.  I love her a ton. She drives me nuts on a daily basis. Hay nako! I have never had anyone test my patience so much. But I know Heavenly Father has great plans for her. I decided she is like a nice layer cake...not like an onion. (Shrek, balahaw?) There is a lot beneath the surface.
A FISHY STORY: Once upon a time, Sister Ribelin and Sister Dotillos went out to proselyte in the pouring rain on Saturday morning. (It has been a signal 1 or 2 typhoon here and there is a bad one up in Manila...that just means it is raining really hard here, nothing dangerous. I still have never walked in a flood.) Then these two crazy sisters saw a fish swimming down the road and through the mud. So they tried to catch it with a little plastic bag. They finally got it into Sister Dotillos' umbrella, and asked a man to get it into the bag. Apparently the fish had dangerous spikes on its' head, which the kind man removed. Then they brought it home so excited about their catch and decided to cook it up. But they were too squeamish to kill it. They transferred it into a jar....which it then leaped out of and onto our countertop. YUCK! Luckily for them, we had texted the water guys to deliver our drinking water. So we asked them to kill the fish. He did it and gutted it and was laughing at us. ;) EW! Sister Ribelin and Sister Domingo cut it a little ... and then it started wiggling on the cutting board...AAAAHHHHHH!....They were screaming their heads off. And then, when they put it into hot oil in the frying was still wiggling! So. Gross. haha. I think they gave it to one of their investigators to eat once it was good and dead and cooked. We are so buang!
The best part of my week was our Zone Training Meeting on Tuesday and exchanges with Sister Ribelin on Wednesday. She is so awesome. The Zone Training really gave me that boost I needed to kick it up a notch in my missionary work. They talked all about "Raising the Bar." Shoot for the moon. Believe you can fly...and make it happen. That is really what faith is all about. Rely on the Lord, and do your very best and miracles will happen in your life. Live your life with purpose. ACT! We don't make goals for nothing....We make them to achieve them, then to raise the bar higher. Anyone can do it, and everyone should do it. Make your short time here on earth worth every second. Be men and women of purpose.
I love you all and I am grateful for your support. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. Keyk is just the Hiligaynon spelling of Cake. haha :)