Hello friends and family! This is my mission blog (just in case you didn't realize). My sister, Rachel, and my mom, Lisa, will keep it updated with my letters home and other updates about me while I serve the Lord as a full-time missionary! Guess what? 17 days until I report to the MTC. And I roughly estimate 2 months until I am in the Philippines! I AM SO EXCITED!!!
I have had the desire to serve a mission for a few years now, but until General Conference in October 2012 I did not know if or when a mission would fit into my life plan. But then, the fantastic missionary age policy change was announced, and it rocked my world! (Watch the missionary age change announcement!)
I knew immediately that I would serve a mission. (see D&C 4:3) It simply became a matter of when. Should I put in my papers right away, or wait until January so I could attend the Spring 2013 semester at Utah State University? I studied both options thoroughly. (see D&C 9:8) After fasting, prayer, and many visits to the temple, I received my answer. I decided to wait to turn in my mission papers so that I could attend Spring semester, finish out the school year working at Lewiston Elementary's After School Club, and apply to USU's Elementary Education program. It is truly amazing how the Lord makes everything work out perfectly when the choice to serve is right. Everything with my education, mission preparations, and the rest of my life has fallen into place much better than I could have anticipated.
I received my mission call on Thursday, 24 January 2013. There was some terribly icy winter weather that day, and Sardine Canyon was closed until the late afternoon, so I was nearly stranded in Logan. But my mom bravely made the drive up in the truck to come rescue me so I could open my call with my family in West Jordan. The fact that we even made it home alive that night was a miracle! (Watch me open my mission call!)
My call letter reads:
"Dear Sister Winward:
"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Philippines Iloilo Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Hiligaynon language."
And it is signed by the living prophet on the earth today, President Thomas S. Monson.
I was laughing so hard and crying a ton after I opened my call. I was completely overcome with happiness and excitement. The Philippines had never even crossed my mind. I knew nothing about the country at all. I could not even pronounce the name of the mission or the language. I have never ever heard of Hiligaynon, and now I'm going to learn to speak it? Awesome! Bring it on! Even though it is the last place I ever would have thought I would be called to, I knew immediately that it was the right mission for me. Over the last few months, my experiences have further confirmed to me that I have made the right decision in choosing to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. I am so excited to share this gospel of happiness with the people of the Philippines!
I know my Savior lives! I know the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth through his prophet Joseph Smith. I know that through the Atonement, our Savior made it possible for us to return to the arms of our loving Heavenly Father again. I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and He loves you, way more than we can even begin to comprehend. I know that if we live worthy of the Holy Ghost, we will be guided and protected in all we do. I know that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. The story of the First Vision is true, and the prophet Joseph Smith opened this dispensation of the gospel. (see JSH 1:8-20) The Lord prepared the Book of Mormon for our day, so that we may study, ponder, and apply His words to our lives. All we must do is study it for ourselves and ask Him if it is true (see Moroni 10:3-5). I know that through the priesthood, temple ordinances, faith and righteousness, we can receive exaltation and be with our families for eternity. I am so grateful for the gospel. I am so blessed to have my family and friends in my life. I know miracles and tender mercies happen every single day.
Replace your fear with faith, and focus always on Christ, and I promise that miracles will happen in your life.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me prepare for my mission. Whether it was an encouraging word, sharing what you know about my mission, a long conversation, or a gift--I am so grateful for your help and support in getting me to this point in my life. I love you all!
Love, Sister Winward