Called to Serve in the Philippines Iloilo Mission--May 2013 to November 2014
Friday, May 17, 2013
MTC week one!
Dear Pamiliya ko (my family),
Kumusta from the MTC!!! I love you all so much and I hope you are having a fantastic day! I know I am. So, I know you are dying for information about how awesome this place is...so here goes. :)
My companion's name is Sister Foster. She is from Orem, UT. She is the youngest of 11 children. She is 20, just finished her sophomore year at BYU studying biology. She is very athletic. We are getting along really well. She's great!
My district is the BEST. Okay, everyone says that, but that's because it is no accident we all got put into a district together. So far, there is great camaraderie. There are 13 of us (quite large for an MTC district). 7 Sisters: Sisters Dixon, Nielsen, Smoot, Van Slooten, Livingston, Foster, and me. 6 Elders: Elder Morgan (from Australia), Templeton (from New Zealand), Manu (from Tonga), Schow, Busselberg, and (drumroll please) the district leader is Elder WINWARD. Whoa! I dunno if we're related. His great-grandpa's name is Peter Winward...maybe Grandpa W could find out. On the first day, someone asked us if we were married, but they realized how dumb that sounded right after they said it. Clearly, we're not senior missionaries. haha. But, anyway. So far we have had two meetings where we bore our testimonies with each other. These Elders and Sisters I'm with are so amazing. They have very strong testimonies. We are all focused on our purpose (PMG pg 1). Elder Manu has said that Elder Schow and the rest of us look very familiar to him, like he has met us before.
My teacher is Brother Oldroyd. He served in the Iloilo mission right when it opened in 2010. He learned Tagalog in the MTC, then when he arrived in Bacolod, they split the mission the next week. Hiligaynon (Hee-lee-GUY-known) is not usually a written language, so the books they have given us to learn the language in the MTC are the only ones in the world really. The language is coming along. It is hard work, but I've learned way more than I ever thought I could in a week. A few words are Salamat (Thank you), Kaupod ko (my companion), Pasensya (Sorry), Wala kaso (You're welcome), and Maayo (good). In the first 4 days, we learned how to say simple prayers and simple testimonies. The grammar structure is simple, but still weird to get used to. The words are a mix of crazy Hiligaynon, phonetically-spelled Spanish, and phonetically-spelled English. The last two days we have been learning about why it is so important to extend the baptism invitation on the first visit, but to make sure they are converted to the Lord before they are baptized.
We have already taught our first (fake) investigator. We try to treat it as real as possible. We have taught Marioneto Mancha four times. We just found out yesterday that we are not going to be teaching him anymore, but we will get a new "progressing investigator" next Monday I think. We teach in the language, so it is hard because we can't really say what we want to because our language is so limited right now. We have PMG in Hiligaynon, so that is helpful. But it is not as good of a lesson if we just read from textbooks all the time. So we try to speak "Ilonggish" Ilonggo/English mixed together, and get our message across. It's just funny.
We are in class either studying, preparing a lesson, or being taught the language or about being a missionary for most of the day. It is a lot of sitting. The food is good. Yes, dad, I had Cap'n Crunch just for you on Sunday. :) There are yummy wraps, biscuits and gravy some mornings, ice cream some days. Good stuff. And vegetables too, don't worry. :) We get 30 minutes to 1 hour to exercise every day. On Tuesday, Sister Foster was basically my personal trainer while we went for a run. Like I said, she is so athletic...and I'm not. haha. It's all good though. They have two gyms and a huge field, so there are lots of options. It'll never get boring.
Thursday we met our Branch President, Pres. Capik, and had a district introduce yourself/bear your testimony. Like I said before, these people are fantastic. Such strong testimonies. I have a lot to learn from them.
Sunday, for RS, we met in a huge gym and Janice Kapp Perry spoke to us. The spirit was so overwhelmingly strong in that meeting because of music. Music is so powerful! (We have a little hymn book in Hiligaynon, it is my favorite to sing hymns in the language!) During her talk, she had us sing a brand new, never before heard song called "The Sisters of Zion." It was a mix of a few songs including "As sisters in zion," and "helaman's army." It was beautiful!
On Monday, Sister Foster and I escaped. Okay, just kidding. She had a cold, so after being checked by the MTC health clinic, we went down the street to the BYU student health clinic to pick up her prescription. It was weird to be out of the MTC "bubble," even if it was only like 30 minutes. No worries, she is fine, and so am I. Never better. :)
On Tuesday, we had a devotional! Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke. Yes, THE APOSTLE HIMSELF. It was so cool! He talked about missionary work and how conversion is the most important part and baptism should never be taken lightly. My favorite verse of the week came from his talk: D&C 136:32.
I've noticed that time is weird here. On the one hand, class sometimes drags on forever, but usually time passes so quickly that I don't even know what happened. At the end of the day, as I'm writing in my journal, I'm surprised that it has already been another day. They keep us busy. All of our time is scheduled and we spend it studying the language and the word of God as diligently as we can. BOOM, one week down. I'm working hard. I'm doing all I can to make the Lord's time count. I'm studying hard and learning so many new things every day! I really like "True to the Faith." It explains things so clearly. I read the entry about "Conversion" today and it made so much more sense.
I love you all so much! Don't miss me, okay? I am where I need to be. I love it here! It is a spiritual powerhouse everyday. Thank you so much for the cute notes and dearelders. Keep 'em coming!!! Mail time is one of my favorite bits of every day. :) Read your scriptures! Pray every morning and night! Listen to uplifting music! I LOVE YOU!!!
Love, Sister Cassie Winward
P.S. Please write me more letters! I love them. Thank you so much. :) Love ya!