Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Week and Paglaum (Hope)

Dear Family, 

Kumusta kamo? Kumusta ang Christmas ninyo? It was sooo great to Skype you! I'm so glad you all had a great Christmas! Happy New Years!! Palangga ko kamo! 

Our Christmas was great! There are 3 sets of Sisters in the Jaro 1st ward, so the other 2 areas had some baptisms for the mission's "White Christmas" Goal. We were hoping to have one too, but Charity, our 11 year old PM (Part-member family) investigator hasn't been to church! Rizza, one of the new converts, bore the sweetest testimony of her love for the Savior. She has had an extremely challenging life, but now she is the happiest she has ever been.

We got to eat dinner at one of Pavia's investigator's. Her name is Cherry and she is so awesome! She used to work on a cruise ship for 13 years--so I asked her if she could do towel origami, and she got all excited and grabbed some towels and showed us how to make a bunch of animals. It was so funny! She was a hoot. She is practically a member--and she would be baptized like today, but the problem is she is never in one place for too long. She has a large, nice home in Pavia, but she is always traveling around Iloilo or in Manila, so she hasn't been to church consistently. 

Then Thursday was Skype-ing! That was fun and funny! I was hoping I would have an accent, but I think my English was kind of normal. I'll teach you all some more Filipino body language next time. haha. 

Friday we did exchanges and I went to Jaro 2 with Sister Lewis. It was a blast! She is a great missionary. She reminded me a lot of Sister Foster, which is funny because she was Sister Foster's "nanay" for the week she was here. One of their investigators said that I sound like a native. "Ilongga ka na!" (You're an Ilongga already!) YESSS! I am so grateful for the gift of tongues. And I am so grateful that my second area is still Ilonggo so I can keep improving. I love this language! 

Sunday we had 2 investigators at church! Yay! Vicinte and Shirley. We are a little concerned about Vicinte because 1) it seems he is listening to us because we are two pretty Americans--at church yesterday he was asking the other sisters for their numbers and if they had a boyfriend waiting for them. And 2) he is lined up to go work in the United Arab Emirates in a few weeks. He has been to church 3 times now, and he really wants to be baptized. We just need to make sure there is some real commitment, clear understanding, and true conversion to Christ. And hopefully he will stay in the country! 

So, Shirley was a referral from one of the Elders (he OYM'd her on a jeepney on our way back from district meeting). We contacted her on Saturday and she was soooo talkative. As in...we almost couldn't get a word in edgewise. But once she let us actually start a lesson, she was very attentive. She asked if we were members just because our parents raised us in the church and she wanted to meet some people who had actually switched from Catholic to LDS--So she was super willing to go to church. I was surprised to see her. And she definitely was feeling the Spirit. In the MTC, Brother Oldroyd told us about "inception" as a missionary--if you ask the right inspired questions, the investigator will basically teach themself the truth as we guide them along. I think with how talkative Shirley is we'll have to get good at that fast. I am learning more and more the value of just listening though. As I have listened to the people we teach, I am more and more amazed at the challenges that they have faced and overcome and at the amazing faith they have. We are just here to help them understand and use the Atonement through the Gospel of Christ. 

Like yesterday, we taught Imee for the third time. She has had an incredibly challenging life, she opened up to us so much about the pain and heartache she has faced. Her husband emotionally abuses her. We just listened and tried to comfort her. I don't even have the words for it. I could feel her life weighing down on me when we left. But through it all she knows that because of the Lord she is able to overcome all of her hardships. She knows the Lord only gives us what He knows we can handle. "Kaya ko," she kept saying....I can do it. I love her so much! 

So, it is the season of resolutions. I have learned on my mission that goal setting is not just for January 1st or the start of a new school year--it is for every week, every day. I really like this quote out of PMG: "I am so thorougly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life." --Elder Russel M. Ballard. I know that as we set our big goals, we need to make little bite-size goals and plans so that we can achieve the overall vision. One step at a time. "You can move mountains if you move one rock at a time." (My all-time favorite quote! see: things Sister Winward learned from her awesome Mom) Good luck to all of you! Dream big! Then give your dreams a plan and a deadline. ;) Hey you should all tell me some of your resolutions! 

I love you all so much! Have a Happy New Year. 
Welcome 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, December 23, 2013

Malipayon nga Paskwa! Merry Christmas!

Dear Family, 

Merry Christmas! I am so excited to skype you all! Palangga ko kamo! I am considering just speaking in Ilonggo for the 2 hours. Just kidding! ;) 

So, ZTM went well. I had them watch the video of me opening my mission call (which was really funny) and then discussed that talk by Elder Oaks and especially about Charity with a nami little powerpoint. I felt like I was in school again having to put that presentation together. haha. 

On Wednesday and Friday we did exchanges. Wednesday I went to Pavia with Sister Ribelin and Friday I went to our housemates' area with Sister Rappleye. It was fun to see how these two sisters are doing and to learn from them. Maybe they learned from me too, I don't know. haha. It made me super grateful again for the gift of tongues because I was able to help them out with the language. 

We (me and my housemates) have been discussing what our families' Christmas traditions are and we are probably going to mush them all together. Before I started emailing today I watch the new and the old Nativity videos for our tradition. Oh! That reminds me--I got the third Allred package with the stocking in it. Thanks! I made Sister Rappleye open that one. I am excited for the Christmas suprises! Yay! Also, if this has not already occured to people--I would LOVE to get your annual Christmas cards with the adorable family pictures on them. Better late than never. :) Pretty please with sugar on top!

And speaking of packages. We are making Christmas special for 3 families with all those toys that the family sent. Charity's family and the Arsenio's in our area. And Dodge's family in the other area. We gave Charity's family theirs, all wrapped up, yesterday, and all the kids were so excited. And I also handed out the Articles of Faith cards (thanks KariLyn!) and the CTR wristbands to another family yesterday. They were really excited. 

Probably the major difference in my Christmas (other than being a missionary halfway around the world) will be that it is so hot. This is technically rainy season, but it hardly rains and I feel like I am melting. Just kidding. I am used to it. Sister Marchant and I keep wishing it would just snow for like 20 minutes. Even though that would definitely throw all the Filipinos into a panic. haha. 

We are planning to teach lessons on Christmas, but if those fall through we will go caroling! Caroling here is like trick-or-treating. If you carol at someone's house, they have to give you candy or money. But we will just be asking for a little of their time instead. ;) 

Sister Marchant and I started our New Year's Resolutions early by going jogging this morning. haha. We didn't last too long, and mostly we were just hoping the neighborhood dogs wouldn't chase us. But it's a start. 

I am so glad you all went to visit Sister Marchant's family! Yay! That sound like it was fun. You should definitely all keep in touch. About lumpia--it is my favorite! I love that stuff. Yum... I'm glad you got to try some. I have been doing better at learning how to cook some of the food here. I made yellow curry this week (YUM!) and sopas (macaroni soup) last week. 

Makita ay kita sa Hwebes a las once para sa akon!  I love you all so much! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, December 16, 2013


Dear Family, 

How are you?! Thank you all for the emails. And especially thank you for the Christmas packages! I am excited to give out those toys to the families who really need a Merry Christmas. I didn't want to ruin any surprises, so I had my housemates open the 3 big packages (one from home and 2 from the Allred fam) and I opened the one from Grandma and Grandpa Allred...because I knew there might be stuff we would want before Christmas. So thank you sooo much for the toys and the candy and the CDs....I don't know what else there is yet, but I am excited. 

So, tomorrow we have a Zone Training Meeting...and I am giving my first training. Medyo nervous, but I am excited too. It will be FUUUUN!!! My training will be based on a talk by Elder Dallin H Oaks called "Why do we serve?" So, mostly it will be about Charity. The Zone Leaders, Elder Bateman (who is somehow related to the 5th ward Bateman's) and Elder Giddings, say that we should do a powerpoint. So that's nifty. And that's how we'll be spending the rest of P-day. :) 

I went to my first MLC on Wednesday...which was fun! We had some excellent trainings by President and the APs. In the past our mission hasn't been the most baptism producing mission, but we are turning that around with aiming high in our goals--because the higher we aim, the higher we will achieve. 

On to the cool stuff...on Friday and this morning we went to Lapaz to assemble family food kits of relief goods for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. I think I've spent a total of like 5 hours scooping rice. And another couple of hours breaking down boxes. The kits had 3 kilos of rice, 5 cans of meatloaf, and 6 cans of sardines in tomato sauce. We had 4 of the zones there today. It was fun! And it felt great to finally have the opportunity to make a difference for the victims of the typhoon. Yay! (And we even got to wear the "Mormon Helping Hands" vests. So we're official. Yeah!) 

Sunday was a success, even though we didn't have any proselyting time (we got to watch the Christmas Devotional Broadcast in Lapaz!). We had 5 investigators come to church! Yay! 4 of them live near our house and we picked them up for church (which means we paid their jeepney fare), and one came on his own. That is the most I've had come to church so far in my mission. So that was pleasing. And after church, 2 of Sister Yang and Sister Rappleye's investigators were baptized! In the words of Sister Flores (one of the members here), "it was a good harvest." haha. Yay Baptisms!!! 

So, about my area. First of all, it is huge. It is definitely a lot larger than my last area--but I find that I am learning it a lot faster (probably because I am not in culture shock this time). If anything, I am probably in shock of how much wealthier of an area it is. There are a lot of very nice subdivisions, and the people in the ward are much more well-off. There are still poor areas too though, we spend a lot of our time in a barangay (the cities are split into areas called barangays) called Tabuc Suba. Which is basically like huge relocation area. There was a big typhoon named Frank in like 2008, and many countries helped out by building housing settlements for the victims. Many of those people are incredibly poor, but they do still have a home to live in. But it really has surprised me how much better off it is here--like for most of the people in the ward it is not too much of a sacrifice to afford to get to the Cebu temple. So that is definitely a blessing. 

I love you all so much and I am sooo excited to Skype you!  So expect my skype call on Christmas evening! Yay! We get 2 hours to skype...same as email time! Merry Christmas! I love you all! Enjoy the snow--it is so weird to have a HOT Christmas. (And I thought this was rainy season...? Nope, just hot all the time.) I love you. Have a great week and use your break time wisely! CTR. 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's a Small World After All

Hey Family!

Guess WHAT!!!!!!?????? I have many cool things to share with you today. Big changes....prepare to be amazed...drumroll please........

Yes, I was transferred on Thursday. I am now in Jaro 1st Ward, area B. My new companion is Sister Marchant. She's from WEST JORDAN. She went to WJHS (graduated 2010). She went to USU, and lived in Bridgerland--right behind where I lived for a whole year! She was even in the play Aida that I was in the orchestra pit for in 2009. We have many friends and acquaintances in common from high school and college. We've been crossing paths all our lives, and it took us getting called to a mission halfway around the world to finally meet. I have decided that the Lord reeeeaally wants us to be friends, so now he is sticking us together 24/7 for at least a few months. :) Isn't that the most exciting thing you ever heard? I love it. And, she is the BEST!!! I love her to death already. 

I also received a call to serve as a Sister Training Leader (STL). It was actually kind of funny how transfers happened because, from the intel I had gathered I was headed to Kalibo (up north) until about 10 minutes before transfer meeting, when President Aquino pulled me out and extended a call to be a Sister Training Leader, and I had to move my luggage to a different room so it could get to Iloilo North Zone instead of Kalibo Zone. It is interesting to me that I am an STL because I am younger (in age and in the mission) than all of the Sisters I am serving. It will be a fantastic opportunity to uplift and learn from the other sisters in our Zone. What does a Sister Training Leader do? I will attend Mission Leaders Conference (MLC) on Wednesday, give a training at our Zone Training Meeting the following Tuesday, and most importantly go on exchanges with the other sisters in our Zone to see how they are doing, how their work is going, and uplift them. 

Jaro (pronounced Haro) is even more urban than Oton was. I am sure Mom is laughing at me because I told her I wanted to go to a more bukid (mountainy/green) area (Kalibo, Roxas, Antique, or Guimaras)--but nope, this is even more city. It is kind of richer too. On some things, I think the Lord thinks it is funny to give me exactly the opposite of what I was hoping for, but on other things He definitely grants my righteous desires. Like becoming STL. I was hoping and praying for the opportunity to get to know and be able to serve my sisters here in Iloilo Mission. Yay! That is certainly not the first time I have seen God's hand work in my life in a very unexpected way. And I am so grateful that I know He has an amazing plan for my mission and for my life. 

The work is pretty good here. It is a fairly large area, and we are really trying to find the elect that God has prepared for us. Not just the ones who will let us talk to them, but the ones who are ready to act on our message and change their lives because of the gospel. We have a bunch of investigators from a part-member family who will hopefully be baptized in January. We are focusing on Charity, who is 11 years old. She is very bright and she prays very sincerely about the things we teach her. I am looking forward to searching out the less actives in our area too, hopefully I can apply some of the things I learned about less actives that I learned in Oton. 

One funny experience we had this week was on Saturday night we went to teach an investigator family, and their uncle was there. He is a traveling missionary from the Universal Mission (which I am pretty sure he like founded himself or something) and he was practically trying to convert us. He told us all about his Near Death Experience (NDE--his acronym, not mine) and how they are basically trying to take every religious group and mash them into one big, happy melting pot. So that was interesting. He was fluent in English and was telling us how he wrote a book about his "NDE" and just basically convincing us to let him be a guest speaker at our church. Hmm. It is funny how off-putting it is to have someone speak to us in English when we are out proselyting. Just, please,  speak Ilonggo like everyone else. haha.

Also, our balay is the cutest little place I ever saw. It is like a little condo, and it is fairly new, and cute and colorful. 2 stories and very tiny, but I love it. I can definitely live here for a little bit. 

Anyway, that's all about transfers, folks. I love you all and I hope you are striving to strengthen your testimonies of Christ each day. Have a wonderful day and week. Pray for missionary experiences. Peace, Love, and Adobo. 

Love, Sister Winward 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Conference and the baptism that almost never was

Hello my dear family! 

How are all of you? Hopefully, excellent! So this was a pretty eventful week. We had a Christmas Conference on Wednesday. It was so fun. It was a nice time to relax and get excited for Christmas. I think the northern zones needed it most...they have been CSPing (community service project) every day since the typhoon. Which I am sure is beyond exhausting. So we just had a fun day, it was 4 zones and there were some hilarious skits (as you can see from the elf picture I and we all got mission t-shirts with the new motto Pres. Aquino chose: "Mission of Excellence." It was kind of early in the season because a lot of missionaries will be finishing their missions tomorrow...I think like 15 are going home and only about 4 are coming there will be a little lack for a while. It means some areas will either be temporarily closed or merged. 3 of them are APs (we have 2 office APs and 2 traveling APs who just work all over the mission and go on exchanges to help out the other elders). 

Thursday was really cool. See 1 Nephi 4:6....that is basically what we did. We had this investigator way back when I first arrived here that we dropped because she was never home. But the Spirit was nagging me that we needed to go back there for the last couple weeks...we just never had the time, but then we just scratched our plans for Thursday because I knew I had to at least show Sister Nonu where she lived before I get transferred. It is kind of far out of the way, I almost couldn't remember where (I was still in culture shock mode back when we did teach her). Soooo....we found her house again and it was like she was waiting for us. Yay! She wondered why we hadn't been back in ages. Ooops :) She opened up to us that she had lost a baby back in March, he was premature, she has 3 other little kids, and she agreed to a baptismal goal date. Yay! Definitely a MIRACLE. 

Friday, while we were finishing up weekly planning, it hit me. I will be gone from this area in less than a week. So a crying fest ensued. But anyway, we then went to teach Rose (I love her so much!) and she just opened up to us about all the things that have been stressing her out. Sometimes I don't realize how bad people struggle, because a lot of them put on a good front. She was saying how they don't always have 3 meals a day and that is so hard because she is still nursing baby Hannah. I couldn't hold back tears while I testified of our Savior's love for and awareness of her. Then Sister Nonu started crying. Then Rose started crying. I think this week I am really understanding what Alma means in Mosiah 18:8-10. I never would have guessed that their family doesn't always have 3 meals a day. Baby Hannah and her faith in Christ give her a reason to keep pressing forward.

So, once upon a time there was a child-of-record whose baptism got pushed back so many times it was not even funny. We've been teaching this 8 year old kid named Kyle, because his grandparents asked us to, and I just wanted to build some trust with their family since they all attend different wards, when really they should all be in Oton. Originally he was supposed to be baptized on Oct 5, but various circumstances pushed it back to Saturday. But anyway, we almost thought it might not happen Saturday either, because the new set of baptismal clothes Pres Catalan ordered hadn't been delivered yet. But they came just in the nick of time, and then everything else fell into place. Hallelujah! So Kyle's Grandpa, Bro. Larupay baptized him. Teaching Kyle has definitely taught me and Sister Nonu some.....patience. Patience is a virtue....

We've got some sweet investigators we're working with...not quite progressing yet, but they will get there. They have LOTS of potential. :) Yay! 

I love you all! Christ lives and He loves each of you sooo much! I hope you all have a fantastic week. Halong pirmi!

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. I highly suggest obtaining and studying from a copy of the Jesus Christ special issue of the Ensign, March 2008. It is wonderful! :) 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving all of you 'kanas and 'kanos!

Dear Family, 

Hey! How are all of you doing this week? I am so glad you are all excited for Thanksgiving! Guess what's funny? A bunch of the Elders thought Thanksgiving was last Thursday so they celebrated by buying a roasted chicken ("Chooks-to-go"). Oops. haha. Probably I will celebrate by singing "Count your Blessings" and making a grateful list. No pumpkin pie...sayong! (too bad/darn). Actually, we are having a mission Christmas Conference on Wednesday, Nov that will be fun! 

I am THANKFUL for...
My family and friends and River 6th ward members (especially the Young Women). My awesome companion, Sister Nonu. Happiness. My mission is the best! Oton and the wonderful people here. Love and support from all of you. My Savior and His beautiful gospel. All that I have learned and enjoyed so far, and the all that I have yet to learn and experience. 
And so much more....seriously that is not even the tip of the iceberg!

Yesterday was Iloilo Stake Conference. It was very fun to see so many Saints gathered together. We met in Mandurriao because that chapel just got refinished or added onto or something, and we were packed like sardines. There were many great messages about being prepared and marriage (they stress that a lot here, probably because there are damo (many) YSAs), Missionary Work!, and saving the rising generation--basically how CRUCIAL the example of righteous parents is. Good thing my parents are THE BEST. Here's something you wouldn't see in Utah...on Saturday we were invited to attend the Adult session as well since it was about Hastening the Work of Salvation...Pres. Aquino asked all of the missionaries to stand up, which is about 50 of us. Yeah. In just one Stake. Pretty crazy! 

So, do any of you remember my "Week 11" of the 12-week-program? The week where the trainee leads and I was all stressed about it, haha? So, that was Sister Nonu's job this week. She led all of planning and our studies and teaching. Tanan (all/everything). Which was waaaaay nice for me. haha. Joke-lang. Actually it is really funny how events in mission life parallels to events normal life. She is my "bata" and it was like seeing her all grown up this week! She has learned a ton and become humble and grown to love the people. And what I am grateful for is all that I have learned from her! She is beautiful inside and out and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to be her trainer. I am so glad the Lord trusted me with this calling. Being a trainer is the best! 

So, guess what's cool? Last Monday our FHE fell through, so we contacted a referral instead. Her name is Michelle, and there are a ton of people at her house. Right now she's not super interested in being baptized, but she is open to the message, and she wants to invite all of her friends to the lessons too. And she has super good questions...which is awesome, because that shows she's interested. Definitely great potential! We are pretty excited about her and her family and friends we have been able to teach. 

I hope you are all doing great! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Life is always great when we live with a grateful heart every day. I love you all soooo much! Halong and eat delicious food! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mission Conference with Elder Echo Hawk

Hello Family! 

How are all of you? I am doing great. Thank you for all of the prayers and your concern for us in the Philippines. Over the last week we have heard more of the news of what has been happening in the areas that were effected by the typhoon, and it is really horrifying. Worse than Hurricane Katrina? And Tacloban Mission is being closed? That blows my mind. I am so grateful that we are safe and all of the missionaries have been accounted for and evacuted from Tacloban. 

Since last Monday, I have found out more about how Panay was effected...The northern part of our mission, Aklan and Capiz provinces, were wiped out--even the huge trees and many bamboo homes got blown apart. None of the missionary apartments were damaged or flooded. Estancia, a city on the north east that took the brunt of the storm, was described by some elders as looking like bombs had gone off. Some people were killed there as well, and it was a very humbling experience for the elders assigned there. We missionaries are required to assemble a 72 hour kit and keep it ready in case anything happens. The Estancia elders said they had just gotten to the end of their 72 hour supply of food and water on Monday, they weren't sure what to do next, and then the APs and other office elders came to their rescue and evacuated them to the mission home for a few days. 

It is so important for all of us, not even just in the Phlippines, to be ready for whatever can happen. The signs of the Second Coming are already here in full force. Disasters and wars and rumors of wars. Just in the 6 months I have been in the Philippines there has been 1) a small civil war with terrorist rebels in Zamboanga on Mindanao (the large southern island), 2) A devastating earthquake on Cebu, and 3) Typhoon Yolanda. I am so grateful and blessed to not have been effected by these events, but I know it is no joke when our leaders warn us to prepare ourselves, our homes, and our families for the worst case scenario. We have to be prepared and self-reliant. Even with all this bad news and devastation though, of course we have reason to hope. The gospel...the GOOD news. Christ is our hope, and as long as we focus on Him and follow His teachings we will be saved. Look forward with a perfect brightness of hope. (2 Ne 31:20) 

So, in happier news, We had mission conference on Thursday! Woo, fun! Elder Larry Echo Hawk came to teach and speak. It was super interesting. He is the 4th generation descendant of an American Indian, so he is a Lamanite. The Book of Mormon was written to his people, he said. He and his wife are both converts so it was neat to hear their conversion stories and just to hear about his life was awesome, he has held many positions in state and national government. I like US gov't and politics, so that was way cool to hear about his career. It was even neater to hear him share many of his experiences with the Spirit as he has served as a general authority. 

Sorry, I forgot my camera, I'll send some pictures from mission conference next week. Here is a talk by Elder Echo Hawk. 

We attended a small funeral service for an old lady who passed away, the mother of one of the members. In the Philippines, the traditions for funerals are veeeeery different. They leave the casket out for viewing in their home or another venue for many weeks. And the cemetery here is vertical, kind of like a wall of cement cubbyholes for the caskets, and then they seal it with cement and put a grave marker on the front. Random facts. Anywhooo...

That is cool that we got a new bishopric. That'll be different when I get back. I am very grateful for Bishop Wright. He taught me so much as a youth and I am so grateful for his example of gospel living. 

I love you much family! Have a wonderful week. Fill your lives with the goodness that comes from living the gospel. Halong Pirmi and Be Prepared! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, November 11, 2013

Super Typhoon Yolanda

Hey Family! 

How are all of you? Right now I need all of you to take a deep breath. Picture a beautiful tropical island. Coconut trees. The sun is shining. Okay. Add to that a lot of dirt and pollution and fish smell and men tambay-ing (being lazy) sitting on the side of the road. And it is really hot. Like 90 degrees. Sweet. That's Oton right now. No panic, no disaster. We're good. Safe, Happy, Healthy, Alive. I don't have much access at all to know what happened elsewhere (however I have heard about Tacloban, keep praying for them). Here though, "Super Typhoon Yolanda" was just a really bad thunderstorm with some strong wind. 

As a precaution, all the missionaries had to stay in on Friday. Mostly it was just the most boring day of my life. We didn't have any flooding or anything at our house, a branch just busted off one of the trees. In fact, in the middle of it, my comp and Sister Pologa decided to go dance in the rain. While I made pancakes. Yum. We took naps and tried to trick each other with riddles. On Saturday, we had a CSP day (Community Service Project). These Filipinos are ridiculous, seriously, we got out to help them and boom, they were finished with cleanup already. What? Yeah. They are just so used to living in this kind of weather that it was all fine by 2 pm the next day. (In Oton at least, I don't know about the other affected areas.) So we walked through the STLs' area looking for people to help, but everyone was good, the RS President told us that this less-active family's house was flooded. The six of us Oton missionaries went to the Geraneo's and were able to help them get the flooding all cleaned up. (Flood=baha.) Which was AWESOME because, we've tried to teach them before, and none of them would sit down and listen, so we ended up teaching the one active daughter that time. But then, we went and taught them last night and they all came and listened. They were very grateful for our help and their two daughters who aren't members were interested in our message to them. Sweet! I love part member families! 

My birthday was good. It was sooo hot. That's the funny thing about Typhoons I guess, they really have that "calm before the storm" effect. So my birthday it was like 92 degrees, so hot, no wind. Thursday was like that too. Then the Typhoon on Friday. And it was super hot on Saturday again. Kind of wierd. But, anyway, my birthday was nice. We taught Rose and Martin (LA) about the Family Proclamation and the Law of Chastity. I guess Rose hadn't realized that "living-in" was a sin until then...but they are taking steps to get married (Martin has to legally separate from his first wife first). Just calling people to repentance on my 20th birthday. Best way to celebrate. We had FHE at the Buenafe's. The food was tasty! One thing to know about Filipino food: basically everything you would ever want to cook starts with garlic and red onion, and I have grown to love ginger and curry here. Yum! 

Guess what? Missionaries can officially use facebook in our mission now. But only for missionary purposes. Sorry, I can't facebook you guys. The six Oton missionaries have a shared page for the branch and we are to use it for finding. I am glad Lucinda pointed out to me that facebook can be a great way to spread the joy of the gospel (after she facebook stalked me last spring). I've got some good ideas. :) 

Some Hiligaynon for you all: 1=isa, 2=duha, 3=tatlo, 4=apat, 5=lima, 6=anum, 7=pito, 8=walo, 9=siyum, 10=pulo. 

And one last funny... So yesterday Pres. Insigne (institute teacher/mission presidency counselor/probably other callings too) was giving a very heated talk about Marriage, and how divorce is evil, and specifically addressing us missionaries and stressing how important it is that we get married asap after we go home. Oh boy. And then, because I am the only one whose name he knows, he calls me out, in the middle of Sacrament Mtg, mind you, "Sister Winward! You can't wait too long to get married after your mission. And divorce is not an option!" Or something like that. Yeah. The whole congregation turns in their seats to look at me. It was Hilarious! haha  Later in branch council they asked if I was offended. Um, no. Funniest moment of my week. And to make it funnier,  crazy Albert had pulled up a chair to sit right behind me. Albert is in love with me and Elder Malmberg gets endless entertainment from that fact. :P haha

My best birthday present was that I finished the Book of Mormon on Nov 6! Woohoo! Actually, that is only the second time I have read it all the way through cover to cover by myself. I've started it plenty of times though. I am so grateful for all the sacrifices that were made by the prophets of the Book of Mormon and by Joseph Smith that made it possible for us to have the fulness of the gospel in our day. We are so blessed. I know it is true! If you want to know God, read it, it is the only way to know the truth. No amount of researching on the internet can bring you truth like simply reading the word of God. I restarted it again and I am doing what Elder Bednar has suggested, get a fresh Book of Mormon and study it all the way through with a specific topic in mind. My topic? The missionary purpose (aka the Doctrine of Christ): Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Yay! 

I hope you are all doing well! Be happy and enjoy to the end. Don't worry about me, I'm doing great. Keep praying for the other areas that the Typhoon really hit bad. Count your blessings! I love you all sooo much. Give everyone a big thanks for the birthday wishes! My inbox was flooded today. (Now that's funny.) Have a great week of school and work and Utah weather and gospel living! Peace! Love you all. 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, November 4, 2013

20th Birthday and To the Rescue!

Dear Family!
How are all of you? Thank you so much for the Birthday wishes! 20 already? Yes, Emily, I am old, I know. Thank you. haha  jk :) And Rachel, don't worry, you WILL see my 20 year old face for a couple of days at least, the way it sounds I'll be back just a few days before my birthday next year. Thanks for announcing my birthday to the ward, Dad, you are funny. The Omer's emailed me some cute birthday wishes and I'm sure there will be a few more waiting for me next Monday. haha.  So, as for you all, I think you should eat either chicken cordon bleu (delicious) OR...(I like this idea better) find a recipe for chicken adobo and make that. And have mango float (hapos lang--just easy) and a cheescake for dessert. Taadaaaa! Delish. I hope my birthday is fun for you and the Earls! Send pictures! :) As for my plans, our branch mission leader leaves for the Philippines Naga Mission on Friday, so we are going to have an FHE at their house on Wednesday to say bye to Bro. Buenafe and celebrate my birthday. Yay! And I think one of our zone leaders, Elder Malmberg, might make me a cheesecake. Tani! (Hopefully.) Yum. Also, Thank you soooo much in advance for the birthday presents...I have the packages but I haven't opened them yet. (Except I did give the baby clothes Mom sent to Rose...She loves them. Thanks a million!)
I celebrated Halloween by making funfetti pancakes Grandma Allred sent in a cute Halloween package. (Thanks Grandma!) So, I told you wrong last week, it is actually called "All Souls Day" on Nov. 1 here. They celebrate by picnicking and then SLEEPING OVER at the cemetary. As in literally sleeping among the crypts. Yikes! And everyone makes a sweet sticky-rice concoction called "Sum-an." Between the two companionships, by the end of the night we had at least 8 kinds of Sum-an at our balay. We agreed that the Naciongayo family has the tastiest recipe. haha
You guys are funny. Totally counting down. Yep, it has been a WONDERFUL 6 months. It has gone by pretty fast actually. Like every missionary says. The days are long but the weeks are short. 18 months is a small price to pay compared to an eternity of happiness for the people we are helping to receive the gospel into their lives. "Don't count the time, make the time count."
Well, Sunday was the best EVER. We got to church, and it was like every where we turned was a less active member. There were 8 less actives that went to church. EIGHT! It was the best! A couple of them literally have not gone to church for like 9 or 10 years. But they came!!! It's a funny thing, as missionaries we spend all week committing people to come to church, help them overcome their concerns and excuses, and by Saturday night I am always soooo sure that they will all be there. But the last few weeks have been dissappointing, usually only crazy Albert. But I just keep up faith and hope that they will be there anyway. Because they said they would. So, then Sunday there were Eight less actives and it was marvelous. Yay!!!! We also had 2 investigators, Albert (who says he loves me. Oh boy.) and Rose!!!!! Rose came and brought her new baby, and Hannah Martin received a name and a blessing. Definitely the sweetest.
Fast and Testimony meeting yesterday was great, too, because it started with Lemwhel (soon-to-be-missionary) and Izza Lim and R. Buenafe (RMs). I was sitting next to Rose's not-quite-yet step son, Harry (LA), who is 10, and he was asking about missions. I love seeing the desire the primary and youth have to serve missions. D&C 4:3. If you have the desire, just go for it! And then two of Oton B's newish investigators got up and shared their testimonies too about what the missionaries have taught them. One of them is a teacher at a Catholic church, but he could tell that he was in the right place and God wants him to be here. Wow!
By the way, I sent some letters (finally) last week. Watch the mail. (One of them has like 10 stamps on it, pretty funny, you should take a picture of it. lol)
Happy 70th Birthday Grandma Allred!!! I love you!
I love you all so much and I hope you have a fabulous week. Don't miss me too much on my birthday. Have fun! Thank you for everything, for the gifts, and for your prayers. Moroni 8:3. I am praying for you all too. Go to the temple as much as possible. We are so spoiled to have so many temples so close. Love you.
Love, Sister Winward

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Day in the Life...

Hey Family! 

How are you? I am doing lovely. It's kind of chilly today. And by chilly I mean it is still 80 degrees. Haha. You poor freezing Utah people. (That is AWESOME that Tyler is going on a mission.  Woohoo! Arizona is lucky to have him.) We're still just chugging along... trying to find people who are interested and willing to act. Mae and Rose are still making progress. They're the best. So, without further ado, I decided to share with you how a normal day goes for me. Friday was a really great day, so I'll share about that. 

6:00am hitting snooze. Another great day of being a missionary! Wooo! We pray as companions then pray individually, then exercise. I jog around our little yard thing a couple times and call it good, stretch, crunches, whatever else. Hit the shower for a speedy cold bucket shower. Get into my lovely proselyting clothes and clip on my super-awesome nametag. 

8:00am ~Personal Study
9:00am ~Companionship Study (we have 2 hours so we can do 12 week program, since I am training Sister Nonu)
11:00am ~Lunch, Sister Peralta cooked us these delicious eggplant and egg torte things. YUM. 
12:00pm ~ Language Study
1:30pm ~Teach Rose! We got to see her cute baby again. We follow up on her scripture reading and she says she never has time because of the new baby. Which is understandable. But not ok. So we throw our lesson plan out the window, and decide to read 3 Nephi 11 with her. Which was awesome. The first time I have done just a reading-based lesson. But the Spirit was so strong. We help her understand the chapter, what it means and what it means for her. We testify of Christ. We help her understand what the word "doktrina" means. We tell her the BOM is absolutely central to knowing whether the Church is true. She is very grateful because she was able to understand it all. That is what I love about Rose, she is a sincere truth seeker and she will reread a chapter until she understands. She just is having a hard time doing that with the new baby. The Spirit was the best teacher. It was so strong. 
3:00pm ~Teach Edna. She is less active. We taught her about Family History. She has work on Sunday and she's not very willing to change that. Kind of a bummer. One day...
4:00pm ~Teach Albert. Crazy Albert...aka The Commander...aka the chain smoker that has a crush on me. Just because I'm white. Ahem, well, always an adventure with Albert. We try to teach him how to pray and what prayer is. He yells at us about gospel stuff and military stuff. He's great though...because he is our ONLY investigator who came to the Church Tour the branch did on Saturday and the only one who came to church. D&C 18:10 people. That's just it. He's funny, we sang "The Spirit of God" and busted up laughing because it talks about the "armies of heaven." He is always going on about how we are heavenly soldiers and stuff about missiles. Idk. But I was quizzing him about his past, he used to do Marijuana. Don't do drugs people, you'll end up like Albert! 
5:30pm ~Teach Mae, Melan, and Salving. I love them. Melan was hiding from us, but now she's back and she is interested and she read 3 Nephi 11. Kian is being a bummer...he is addicted to the computer. We went to get him for the lesson from the computer shop TWICE...and he still would not join the lesson. Grrr. Anyway, we teach them about The Creation, Adam and Eve, Our purpose on earth, and the Atonement. They were so engaged, had great additions and questions. Like... Do people come from monkeys? or are they made from ash? So we use 2 Nephi 2 about how Adam and Eve are our first  parents. I am excited about them. Melan wants to finish the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was fabulous. 
7:00pm ~Teach Brother N. He is also less active. He is an alcoholic and smokes. He has the biggest desire to change, and he was sooo sorry and felt so bad for doing it, but he has the hardest time. He is a sikad driver and the other sikad drivers always tempt him to drink and pick on him for being LDS. Peer pressure still exists when you are 50. We taught him about Repentance. He might've been a little drunk while we were teaching him. I'm not so sure. 
8:30pm ~Home again. Daily Planning = missionary's bread and butter. Update the Area Book. So exhausted. Eat a PB&J (my fave).
10:00pm ~Get ready for bed. 
10:30pm ~Lights out. Pray and sleep. 

It was the best day. That's about average...which means when there are no other meetings. Fun Stuff. Sometimes the routine is boring, other times it is the best. I never have to wonder what to do next, because we plan EVERYTHING. It is awesome. 

I hope all of you are doing well. I love you sooo much! CTR! or in Filipino...PAT (Pili Ang Tsakto)

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, October 21, 2013

Earthquake, Albert, and Igbaras Adventure!

Hey Family! 

How are all of you this fine week? I love you all soooo much! Life is good here in the Philippines! 

So first of all, there was an earthquake on Tuesday. Yes, we felt the earthquake that hit Cebu so badly. It was a magnitude 5 here. We were in district meeting, and then we all started to get dizzy and noticed the room was moving, so then we hurried outside. It wasn't bad enough to make things fall down, but it just felt like being on a boat. Pretty crazy. I know we (and all the missionaries in Cebu) were protected. All the missionaries here were in district meetings in well-built church buildings, which is definitely the safest place. The Lord is looking out for us, I know it. :) 

So, haha, I don't know officially yet, but I am 99% sure I am not getting transferred. Psych! Pres. Aquino was just dropping hints for nothing. That's one of the most exciting things in mission life...seeing how the mission president will shake up the work every six weeks. That's what missionaries gossip about...transfers. 

Earlier today we went for an adventure! We had a zone activity in Igbaras that was a lot more adventurous than we bargained for. We were just expecting a jaunt through the jungle to see a pretty waterfall, but nope, we hiked up through slick mud and rocks and a river to get to a waterfall. Not to mention one really sketchy bamboo bridge. We're all alive and well, no worries. haha. Jokes. It really was pretty. Pictures can't even do it justice. And the drive out to the hike spot was a beautiful, too. Bright green rice fields, bordered by palm trees, and interspersed with cute bamboo huts and friendly Filipino people. It's more fun in the Philippines! You wish you were here, eh? :) Actually, on the way back I was thinking of all these gospel parallels to our journey today...I'll have to journal that and share it later. 

We (finally) started teaching this crazy man named Albert on Friday. We affectionately call him "The Commander." Once upon a time, he got in the jeepney with us and started yelling at me (just me) in broken English. He always wears camouflage and wanders around by the church, he thinks he's some kind of military commander or something. But anyway. He has been coming to church every week for the last two months, he just wanders in for sacrament then leaves during Sunday school, and he even came with the Elders to general conference. He also writes out these notes to each of us Oton missionaries, just like a twisted military-meets-religion rant kind of a thing. But, he lives in our area, so we finally decided to give it a go teaching him. Fun times. I know God loves him all the same. He is just...interesting. Maybe you have to know him. I'll mail some of his notes home so you can at least understand a little. haha. His main issue is that he is a chain smoker (also the reason he is a little nuts is because he used to do heavy drugs). He told us that he also goes to Catholic mass every Sunday early in the morning too. A very committed, religious man. 

Don't worry, we also have plenty of sane new investigators too...he just makes the best story. :P 

And last but not least....
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR EMILYYYYYYYYYY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!! Whoa, how is my gorgeous little Sis 14 already? Eat some delicious cake for me, sige? The cake here is just not the same. I hope it is wonderful! 

I love you all so much! I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay safe, healthy, and happy. "Never suppress a generous thought." That goes for sharing the gospel as well. Rain or shine keep enduring to the end.

Love, Sister Winward