Monday, July 29, 2013

Miracles in Oton!

Dear Family,
How are all of you? I hope you have all had a great week! On Saturday the other Oton sisters had 2 baptisms! That was the first baptism I have been able to see here! Yay! And then on Sunday there were 3 confirmations! Yay! I don't think I have mentioned Brother Arnold before, so he was baptized the weekend before I arrived here, and he has had a ton of reasons to not come to church/he has been late every since (because of work or he didn't feel well or bad weather or whatever), but finally he came to church and he came on time and he was confirmed on Sunday. Then in Sunday School we watched The Restoration video, and a hard-hearted investigator named Fred just bashed on Joseph Smith and was saying how he believes the Catholic church is the true church and such....(and yet he keeps coming back to our branch, hmmm). It was a tough hour or so, but the teacher and a few of the other Sisters just testified about the truth of the Restoration and how important it is to find the truth by praying with real intent. Anyway, last night we visited Arnold and he told us that he really wanted to speak up and say that he knows Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, but he was too nervous (Fred really wouldn't let anyone get a word in edgewise). But, ah! Arnold really has such a strong testimony. So this weekend was stellar because that all means that we have 3 potential Melchizidek priesthood holders in Oton Branch!!! Woohoo!
Food...The RS President cooked for us and it was delicious! Also, people made us mango shakes twice this week! yum! I tried squid this week, it was not too nasty, not my favorite, mostly it was just tough to chew. You all should find a recipe for the dessert Mango Float--super delicious and simple to make. They use sweetened condensed milk in like every dessert they make. Pancit Molo is also very delicious... We eat at a place called Mang Inasal every week after district meeting, pretty tasty. And another dessert, halo-halo, is probably the most random thing I have ever seen, but it is tasty.
I am short on time, but mostly I just want to share that it is so important to choose to be happy and focus on the positive. Happiness is a choice. It really is. Yeah, bad things happen all the time to all of us and life is really hard, but I have just decided to be happy and have a positive outlook every day (even when I am tired and people don't keep their commitments or we have to wait for a jeepney or the ants attack my sandwich), and I am happy! I am happy because I know the gospel is true and I can see it help people every day. I am happy because I choose to be. Just roll with the punches with a smile on your face and trust that God is in control.
I have almost made it through 1 transfer! Yay! (also I am currently the youngest sister in the least until wednesday). I love you all!!! Halong!
Love, Sister Winward

Monday, July 22, 2013


Hey Family!!!
How are all of you?  :) It has been another good week. It is very true that the days are long and the weeks are short, I remember hearing that a lot before my mission, but it is definitely a real phenomenon. I can't believe I have been here for a month already. Weird. So, I think I'll start with some funnies. On Saturday, I finally got called tambok for the first time. hahaha. Tambok means fat in Ilonggo. Let's be real, I was waiting for that moment. In the MTC, the teachers told us that Americans get called fat all the time. We were teaching a Less Active woman and her husband showed us a picture of the Idahoan Sister who converted them. He said how she was tambok and then they said I was too. Hehehe. Also, after that lesson, we were standing on a street waiting to hear back from the Branch President, and there were a couple of little kids yelling "'kana" at me (short for Amerkana), but every time I looked over, they ran away. haha. Silly.
This week it was my first turn to conduct the Weekly Planning Session. What a headache. I was pretty stressed over that, but I learned that I need to take way more notes in my planner because I just can't remember everything I need to. However, because of that, I think I am really learning what it means to "lose yourself in the work." Planning was stressful, but when we got to go out and teach later that day I just forgot all the stuff I was worried about and focused on the people and it was so good.
I spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday on Obedience. President Aquino and his wife were there because he needed to do a baptismal interview for someone, so they spoke too. Preparing my talk was cool because of how quickly I was able to translate it. In the MTC it took foooorrreeeever to translate things for our fake lessons, I was so confused, but I am pretty sure I was able to translate my talk in less than an hour total, not that any of it was grammatically correct at all, but it made sense I think. That was neat to notice how far my skills have come. Again, I know the Spirit is helping me so much and the gift of tongues is absolutely real.
Also, Sunday was great because we had 7 less actives come to church! Yesssss!!!! It was awesome!
I am so sad to hear about Great Grandma West, I will be keeping her in my prayers. I hope all of you have a good week and become more converted to Christ every day. I know He lives and He loves us so much. He is our Savior and He redeemed us from death and from our sins and even our mistakes and weaknesses. I love all of you! Halong permi!
Love, Sister Winward

Monday, July 15, 2013

I love these people!

Hey Family!!!

How are you? I am doing so well!

So, I only have a little time left, but here is one of the best things that happened this week! We are teaching this young woman named Joy (She is deaf, so I'm learning some ASL least that involves some English!). Two of her teenage brothers are active, but her mom is not. So her mom, Gloria, hasn't been to church in a loooong time. She is so nice and she is very patient with my language ablilities (which are improving every day-I am so grateful!). So on Wednesday, we reeeeally needed a member to come with us so we could have some member-present lessons. We tried at a few of the YW homes, but they couldn't come. So then Sister Mendez decided we should get Gloria to come with us. We went and got her and she came with us to a few appointments. Then she ran into her childhood best friend, and she was so excited, hopefully the friend will be willing to listen to us. Gloria was with us for maybe 4 hours and she loved it. She was able to help us teach a new investigator. At the end, when she was going to go home we could tell that she just loved it. She asked if she could serve a mission too, haha. But best of all, she finally came to church on Sunday! And the RS Sisters fellowshipped her and were so excited that she was back! Yay! I know her testimony was strengthened. It was wonderful! 

I had my first lunch and dinner appointments this week too. Yummy food! We had dinner at Rosemalyn Buenafe's (A branch missionary). So, she is basically just amazing. She is probably about 25 and a RM. She is the local seminary teacher. Her mother is wheelchair bound because she had a stroke and a coma a few years ago. Just seeing Rosemalyn care for her mother in church and at their home is a huge example of selflessness. She does all she can to make sure her mom is comfortable and safe. She is so like Christ. 

Anyway, those are only a few of the wonderful people here. More stories to come. I love you and I hope you are all doing well. You all have a light within you, keep feeding the flame and share it with others. Also, thank you Grandma and Grandpa A for the candy package and letters. Fun! I have been studying in Alma about Ammon...miracles can really happen but first we must have faith! I love you all! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, July 8, 2013

2 Months Already? Time Sure Flies!

Dear family,
Hello! How are all of you? I love you so much! It has been a great week. Every day I am able to love the work more and more. I am certainly having an adventure here, that is for sure.
A little more about life in the Philippines: There are lots of tiny lizards that crawl on the walls everywhere. One of my first days there was one hanging out next to me on the window screen. In our compound yard thing there is a stray kitten that likes to hang around. It is cute. It curls up next to me when I do laundry, and it hops up in between the window screen and bars and meows because it wants to come into our house. haha. Also (for Rachel), there are a lot of goats. I always think of how she likes goats whenever I see one. haha. Last Thursday/Friday, I had my first official brownout--no power and no water for like 15 hours. We had to manually pump water from a well to use to clean our apartment. So that was fun. Also, Electric fans are basically one of the greatest inventions in history. ;)   We shop at a store called Gaisano, kind of like Smith's Marketplace. The people really don't feed us that much, which is good...then I don't have to worry about how safe their food is. I have been eating a lot of apples, oranges and PB & J (seriously! awesome, right?!) I think I am still full from all of the food in the MTC. haha
The work is going well. The Branch President and Branch Council are making efforts to get more involved in missionary work and it is wonderful! We had a training with them yesterday and the STLs (Sister Butler and Sister McClellan) gave a great lesson on reactivation, retention, and converstion. The Branch Council made goals and committed to do their part to help the Oton Branch become strong. We have been teaching a recent convert named Rhyza, (9 years old). It is so fun to teach her and her siblings. Her parents are not active, but she and her older two siblings are. We hope their whole family will become active. We had FHE with them and their neighbors last week and it was great. We made sure the whole family was there and at the end we knelt together and the dad prayed. Ah! It was wonderful. One of the kids, Jarins, is 7 and he is like a Filipino version of Blake. So cute!
So, there is an investigator named Mylene whose sister, Jemma, is a member but has become less active over the last few years I think. Anyway, so Jemma has had a few nervous breakdowns in the last couple of months and now she is in the hospital. We asked the family if they would be interested in getting a priesthood blessing for Jemma. Long story short, We visited the hospital with President Catalan (Branch Pres) on Saturday to talk to Jemma. He wanted to see how she was doing and she if she wanted a priesthood blessing. It was definitely an interesting experience. The hospital was a pretty poor public hospital. After we walked out of the Psychiatric Unit, the Branch President noted how there was a marked difference between the feeling in that room and outside of it. It just felt evil or something in there, I guess. I don't know how else to explain it. I wasn't worried because I knew we had the protection of the Lord, but it was definitely weird. We just keep hoping Jemma can recover and return to her normal self.
My companion is a really good cook. She has made adobo a few times so far, and it is always tasty. (Basically whatever meat and whatever veggies you want all stewed together with some soy sauce. Yum!) I love her! Her sister got married last week, so that has been hard for her, but she is so strong. And so patient with me and my language learning. Grabe! I don't think I mentioned, she is a native Filipina, but she was an English major in college so there hasn't been a language barrier there. And actually the people do speak quite a bit of English, so it is usually an Ilonggish mixture.
I love you all so much. I have to go, so sorry I cannot send individual emails this week. I got the sister missionary mall package, Mom. Thank you so much. I am glad you all had a fun 4th of July. My comp. and I sang the Star Spangled Banner to celebrate. ;) Have a wonderful week. Make sure you do the things we are constantly committing people to do--pray, read your scriptures, and go to church! I love you all :) Halong!
Love, Sister Winward