Monday, September 30, 2013

Ang regalo sang mga hinambalan (The gift of tongues)

Hello Family! 

Kamusta kamo? Palangga ko kamo! Tani buhi pa kamo tanan kag may kalipayan kamo kada adlaw. Ano natabo sini nga semana? Hmmm...hulat lang. Ginapinsar ko. Wala. Joke-lang! Ini ang natabo sa amon...Si Sister Mae, nadumduman nyo siya? Siya ang sagad missionary! Nagapahambit siya sang ebanghelyo sa mga neighbors niya. So, may tatlo ka bag-o nga investigators kami halin sa efforts niya. 

Haha. Did you understand any of that? Naintindihan nyo bala? Jokes. Sige, so here's your translation: How are all of you? I love all of you! Hopefully you are all still alive and have happiness every day. What happened this week? Hmmm...just wait. I am thinking about it. Nothing. Jokes! This is what happened to us...Sister Mae, do you all remember her? She is a great missionary! She is sharing the gospel to her neighbors. So, we have three new investigators from her efforts. 
Amo na. That's it. haha. 

See, I am really learning a new language. It is funny. I find it hard to even speak English sometimes when we're out and about. Like on Tuesday we met this man from Maryland who has lived here for 4 years. He doesn't know the language at all. I almost couldn't think of what to say to him in English. I've been here for like what, 3, 4 months? The gift of tongues is sooo  real people. Some missionaries say that one day the language just clicks for them. It hasn't been like that for me, just amat-amat, little by little. I am so far from fluent, but then again, the people here know so many random dialects they aren't even fluent in their own language either. haha. It's always a jumble of Ilonggo, Tagalog, and English, and maybe some Kiray-a too. So it's coming along. I didn't really realize how much I knew until now and I have to teach the language to Sister Nonu. I am picking it up. Diligence and the Spirit. It is the only way! 

Also, I don't super have and accent, but I know the "sing-song" lilt in the language is in my English now too. So I guess you all have that to look forward to, yeah? haha. Jokes. 

We are trying to track down less actives and find some Part members...but a lot of them haven't been home when we've tried. But, we did meet Betty G.  on Saturday. It was raining soooooo hard that day. As in soo hard....You people have nooo idea what a rainstorm is. I'm serious. It was crazy. But I still haven't been in a real flood yet, Saturday it was just up to my ankles. But anyway, so while my drenched skirt was making a puddle on her floor, we taught Betty. I asked her why she wasn't going to church and she said, "Sister, I am wicked." Oh man. This daughter of God thinks she has done too much wrong to go to church. No way. Basically, I just tried my best to help her understand that. No matter what she's done it is NEVER to late to turn her life around through repentance and the Atonement. God will never stop loving us no matter what we do. His love is unconditional and eternal. Same goes for me and all of you. And everyone you ever meet. If you know you have changes to make, start now. Sige? Okay? Himuon mo bala? Will you do it? She really was such a sweetheart. She didn't go to church, but we will keep visiting, this is just a new beginning for her.

So yep. Bah! It kills me that all of you still don't know this language and have never been here or met these people. It is my world and I love it! Pray for them okay? Thanks.

I love all of you sooooo much. 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, September 23, 2013

Just Doing Our Best...

Hey Family! 

How are all of you? I am doing good. It has been an interesting week, yet again. haha. Even though our days are very routine, they are always full of surprises too. I am glad to hear that you are all doing well and keeping busy. :) 

So, the big effect of the Elders taking half of our area is that they took half of our people too, so that left us with a lot of time to tract this week. Which is not the most fun in the world. We tracted a really rich subdivision, and were able to teach the only poor family in the neighborhood. haha. They were really nice and receptive to us, but not really receptive to the message of the Restored Gospel. We were working with Ilona  and were able to get into the house of one of her former high school teachers. She was kind of receptive--mostly she is really interested in Family History work, so we are going to try to help her get going with that which hopefully will then lead to an interest in the gospel too. A lot of people here are very "born Catholic, die Catholic"... so kind of stubborn. But if they have been prepared then they sincerely just want to know the truth. It has been really a neat experience though to just follow the Spirit as we look for people to share with. Like Ilona's teacher...I decided we should go check up on this one less-active member who always runs away from the missionaries (just give it a try, see if she softened her heart at all), but instead I decided we should turn down a different street and we found Ilona's teacher. I know that God leads people to us and we are led to them. If they are ready, He makes it happen. 

So, the news of the week is that the Oton B Sisters and the Oton C Elders swapped areas. So, now the Oton B Sisters will be teaching the people we had to hand over to the Elders last week. It's all a lil' crazy. Pres. Aquino decided the Elders should have the "Bukid" (green/mountainous/more rural) area, so the Sisters could be closer and safer. 

Our focus of the week has been trying to get Rose accept a baptismal date. Which still hasn't happened. We've been teaching Rose for a few months and she is awesome. She is expecting a baby in just a few weeks. Exciting! It is a delight to teach her because she is so sincerely seeking to learn and understand the truth. She is really looking for an answer about whether the church is true. This last week we had two very powerful spiritual lessons with her, just trying to help her understand how she will receive her answer from the Spirit and why it is so important that she is baptized. When she reads she takes notes, and she always has the best questions. She is definitely a truth-seeker. The challenge is just getting her to take a little leap of faith by committing to a baptismal goal date. 

So, tracting really is not the most effective. This week hopefully we will be able to meet some part-member families and find some investigators that way. Seriously people, missionaries need referrals. Do your part. :) I never understood that before my mission, but trust me--you can trust the missionaries with your nonmember friends and family members. Maybe they won't accept it, but at least you tried. Every effort counts. 

We met a less-active man named Argie yesterday. Even though he is less-active, he got a calling because the branch really is just desperate for priesthood support. Yesterday he was saying that he really wants to serve a mission, and he asked a really cool question. As a missionary, what is more important, obedience or knowledge? Sister Nonu and I immediately answered "Obedience." It is so true. You don't have to be a scriptorian to serve the Lord, but you will only see blessings and miracles if you are obedient. Obedience first, then the light and knowledge of the truth will come to you as you study with the Spirit.  

It has been raining really hard here on and off, but we are safe and well. No worries. I know the Lord is watching out for us. Like the other night it started pouring and we just needed to get home, but there weren't any jeeps coming. So we said a little prayer, and right when we finished a jeep pulled up. It was wonderful. Prayer really works. Sister Nonu is a great example of that. As missionaries, we pray a lot just as part of our routine, but whenever she faces a problem she even says another little prayer. She's the bomb. Our Mission Pres made a new rule that we should fast every Sunday. Kind of challenging, but I know it will speed up the miracles. :) 

I love you all so much! I hope you are all safe, healthy, and happy. Never let a day or moment go by when you are not thankful for the wonderful blessings you have. I have been reading in 3 Nephi this week, and I find it really interesting that as the Nephites prepare for war with the Gadianton robbers, they first fortify themselves with repentance and prayer. Whatever you are facing, prepare for it by calling down the power of heaven to help you by humbly repenting to become in line with God's will and praying fervently for His aid. I promise you that you will have the peace and guidance that you need every day. 


Love, Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm a Trainer!

Hey Family!
How are all of you? I am doing well. It has been a very challenging week, but it has also been really good. So, I have some news, on Tuesday, I was called as a trainer! Yeah! 4 weeks ago that though would have scared the begeebies out of me, but I am ready and I am excited and so grateful that the Lord has entrusted me with this responsibility. Transfer day was Thursday. I am staying in Oton A, and Sister Mendez was called as an STL and transferred to Antique. My new companion, fresh and green from Provo MTC, is Sister  Nonu! I just love her to death! She is Samoan, born in New Zealand, and raised in Australia. She is gorgeous and so easygoing and just happy. Seriously, I have never laughed so hard in my whole life. She is a riot. She is adjusting really fast. She definitely is a greenie, but that is a great thing. She has everything she learned in the MTC fresh on her mind and she applies it and is so good at seeking to have the Spirit and study for the needs of our investigators--even when she hasn't met half of them yet. The language is pretty challenging for her, but I know she has the desire so she'll start picking up on it more soon. The language is a challenge for me too, I've never had it just "click" like some missionaries say it does. But I know enough to get around and teach the gospel. haha.
So, the other big changes that happened on transfer day is that Oton got a set of Elders. So now there are 4 Sisters and 2 Elders in Oton Branch. Which is awesome...except that in figuring out the area boundaries over the last couple of days, President Catalan decided to give them half of my area. I'm kind of heartbroken over it, but I am really trying to see the bigger picture. I trust God and I trust the elders. I'm heartbroken because the part of the area they will have includes the D. family, Mylene and the Pollan's, all of the many Estribor's. So, yeah, it was definitely a shock and a heartbreak. But it's ok. Pres. Aquino knows that Oton needs support for the priesthood holders, so it is awesome to have elders in the branch. We are all pushing for Oton to become a ward before 2014. On the other hand, we still have Kian and the Magbanua's, and this opens up time for us to tract homes in some of the nearby subdivisions.  Also, we got moved from Tigbauan district to Arevalo district, so now we are with all of the office elders and the APs. And the zones got realigned. Fun stuff. I wonder if this means anything to any of you...that's mission life people. Your district is like your family, so it is pretty crazy that we got bumped into the other district.
I feel like I only have bad news today, other than being a trainer. Like I said, it was a challenge. On Tuesday, Joy  should have been baptized. We had the font filled, Elder Snowden was ready and excited to baptize her, but it didn't happen. I guess to understand this you need to know a little of the D.  family dynamic first. So, Gloria and her 3 siblings all live under one roof with all their kids. Gloria doesn't have a job or any income, her son G. and sister L. are the breadwinners for the family. L. put Joy through school and pays for all of her needs. L. is very Catholic and doesn't want Joy to be baptized, but up until this point she had been fine with it. Joy's 22, it's her choice, all of that. But then, on Tuesday, before the baptism was going to happen, L. called and threatened to withdraw financial support for Joy and make Gloria pay for everything. It was on the brink of turning into a family feud. So, needless to say, Joy was not baptized this week. And until L.'s heart softens, it may still be a while yet. Gloria was heartbroken. She was sad and scared and it was awful. And then after all that, they are not even my area anymore. I feel like I am abandoning them somehow, but I know the elders will take care of them, and I will still see the D.'s all the time.
Plus, Cuceta who I was sooo excited to teach, we went back on Saturday, and she said, "Sorry Sister, We're Catholic. We're not interested." Shut down. Ayos lang. At least we planted a seed. No effort is wasted.
So, yeah, that was my week. I'm just trying to take it all one day at a time. I am so excited and happy though to be working with Sister Nonu. She is wonderful. Plus, I know this work has eternal significance and God truly is in control. Everything happens in His time according to His will. We just need to trust in that.
I am truly so sorry but so happy to hear that Great Grandma passed away. I feel like I did have a chance to say goodbye to her too though. Tuesday morning (it would have been just a few hours before she passed away), I woke up and instead of getting right to exercise like I usual do, I just sat at my desk and looked at a picture of her and read the card that Grandma Allred had Grandma West write to me, and cried and said goodbye. And ever since that, I have not felt sad about it. I know she is at peace. I know she is happy and she is not in pain and she is reunited with her loved ones on the other side of the veil. It has been so long, but she and Grandpa West are together again at last. I am glad that her funeral was beautiful. I love that Uncle Alan got flowers to be from Lexie and I. Thank you for that. Halong Grandma! Makita ay kita sa pihak nga kabuhi! Palangga taka! For all of you: Alma 40:11.
Well, sorry this email is probably a downer, it was a challenge this week, but we are looking forward to exploring and tracting our area more, and finding the elect to convert and finding more Less Actives to reactivate. It's challenging now, but it is going to be great! And my companion is so awesome. I love her. And I love all of you! I hope you all look to the heavens and be happy. I'm working hard and doing my best and learning a lot every day. I hope all of you are too! I love you! Palangga ko kamo! Halong.
Love, Sister Winward

Monday, September 9, 2013


Hey Family! 

How are you all? I hope life is treating you well and you are keeping your focus on Christ always. I am doing good. Now I am, at least, haha. It was kind of a weird week to be honest. So, like I said last week, Sister Mendez is sick. I thought last week that it was on its way out. Nope. So, on Tuesday, she had our district leader, Elder Snowden, and Elder Nambio give her a blessing, and then right after district meeting, we went to the hospital emergency room. We checked her into the hospital and we spent two nights there (Tuesday and Wednesday night). She was not feeling good at all and she was dehydrated too. The whole thing just seemed weird to me I guess, because in America I think she would have been given a prescription and told to drink x amount of fluids and sent on her way, but nope, here she was hospitalized and hooked up to an IV. And then after we left the hospital she was still feeling really sick for a few days. So, while she was resting and recovering I was able to go out and teach a little with one of the members, Gemma  (remember the one who had the nervous breakdown? She's doing much better. She still is not back to normal, but she is super willing to help us out). She was my companion on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Gloria D. also came to our rescue and stayed with Sister Mendez in the hospital while we went out. Probably the worst part was feeling like our area was being abandoned and neglected because we could not go out and work very much. However, it was a good experience to be forced to lead our area for a little bit. The lessons we (Gemma and I) were able to teach, I had to handle by myself (Gemma usually just added her testimony at the end). So, all in all, I grew from it. And I know that this transfer day (Thursday), whatever does happen, I will be ready for it. Even if I am assigned to be a trainer...dun dun duuunnnn! haha, joke-lang.

And, just because I know you are wondering, the hospital we were at was one of the nicest private hospitals in Iloilo. Definitely much nicer than the sketchy Mandurriao hospital where we visited Gemma in the Psychiatric Unit. But, still, it was so not at all up to par with American standards at all. I'm pretty sure the only person I saw wearing latex gloves was the morning janitor. Yeah... Let's just call it motivation to never get sick or injured here. haha. Also, it was a Catholic hospital...lots of saints and graven images and whatnot allover the place. And there was a glow-in-the-dark crucifix above the hospital bed. Oh my. 

So, a cool experience from this week: The less active that we were going to teach was not home, so we went to contact a sikad driver who we had given a pamphlet to. He wasn't home but his wife, Cuceta, was. I said "tagbalay" (they don't knock here, they yell for the owner of the house), and the door was already open and she welcomed us right in. It seriously seemed like she was waiting for us. She said that she had read a little bit of the pamphlet we had given her husband. She also said that she has been taught by elders in the past, but they had to stop teaching her and she never knew why. She is the sweetest ever. Wow. So, part way through the lesson, her adult son who had been sleeping on the floor in the other part of the room goes into a full-body convulsion. What? It was a little scary, but she just walked over all calm and held his head until he came out of it. That happened twice during the lesson. She said that he has blood on the brain and he has been having seizures since he was 1 month old. :( It was heartbreaking. I didn't know what to do, and she had it under control. That is just her life. She actually apologized for having to leave the lesson. She prays a lot and relies on God a lot. She accepted the invitation to be baptized. Wow. We haven't had a chance to get back yet, but hopefully tomorrow after zone meeting. 

Another cool thing that happened this week: So Mae did not attend church (which is so not cool), but Kian did all by himself anyway. We visited them last night and Mae said that he started crying when he thought he wouldn't be able to go to church, but I think they had the primary teacher pick him up. I love Kian. He is so solid. 

Looking forward to JOY'S BAPTISM tomorrow!!! Woohooo! We held our first Sign Language class on Saturday, not very many people came, but it was still fun. I am so excited for her to be baptized! She is so ready. :) Yay! 

From my studies this week: Helaman 5. Such a cool chapter. I especially like what it says about the Power and Authority that Nephi and Lehi had through the Spirit. That is huge in this work. The only way we are able to have any success is because the Spirit is with us to testify to the hearts of the people. 

I love you all so much! Palangga ko kamo! I am so thankful for each of you. I hope you have a great week. Think of the Savior always. Pray for and look for opportunities to uplift others. I love you! 

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. Merry Christmas--celebration starts early here in the Philippines.


Monday, September 2, 2013

2nd Baptism, Sakit, and a Day in Iloilo City

Hello Lovely Family! 

How are all of you? I am doing well. Sorry about the lack of email last week... I truly adore brownouts... not really. I'm just thankful that gmail automatically saves drafts so you all at least got an email. haha. Yay! So, what has happened this week...hmmm. Well, it has been kind of a weird week because Sister Mendez has been feeling sick, so we've only been able to go out for about half the time as we normally do. (I've had plenty of extra study and laundry time.) She's been trying to soldier through it, but really she just feels sick to her stomach, and then Sister Aquino calls when we're in a lesson and instructs Sister Mendez to go home and rest. That has happened for a few days now. And she is only allowed to eat bananas. Which are her least favorite food. Poor thing. So, she's not doing so hot. (Speaking of hot, it hasn't rained for like a week. I have never sweat so much in my life. But, there's still no where else I'd rather be!)

Here's something cool about Sister Mendez though...she is super good at the language. Which is totally to my benefit. Since day one she has forced me to speak it as much as possible, and now I am definitely seeing the results. I haven't had like a miracle day when it all just comes together like some missionaries experience, but little by little it has come together. Plus, this week I started a new strategy in my language study to help me learn vocabulary better. As I learn new words, I write them in my planner, then later, I transfer those to a bigger notebook where I can review them and study them more. And reading Ang Libro ni Mormon helps with understanding sentence structure and pronunciation. But really, I am able to understand and speak a lot better than I ever would have thought possible so soon. There is still plenty of confusion, but it is manageable. It is just so funny to me though that most of the world is not aware that this groovy little language even exists. haha. I love Hiligaynon! 

So, I am in week 12 of my in-field training. I survived the week 11 where I had to plan and teach everything. It was a great learning experience. It was hard because I was fearful, but on Thursday I just broke down in tears because I was so stressed, but Sister Mendez and Sister McClellan talked me through it. Being a missionary is definitely challenging, no doubt about it. But it gets better. As Sister Mendez explained, in the MTC and during training it seems like all your weaknesses are exposed and that is the time for missionaries to feel the most inadequate. But the Lord will build us up to become much greater than we can be on our own. So all the pain and stress and yuck is worth it. We just have to push forward with faith, gratitude, and charity, and everything will get better. The real kicker is that I could possibly be training a new missionary next transfer. WHOA. It seems like that is becoming the norm though, for missionaries who have just finished their training to then train right after. Some days that thought scares the begeebies out of me...but other days I am excited. As Sister Butler would say, "The Lord does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called." 

Actually, I really LOOOOOVE what Jessica wrote to me in the letter I just got from her (Thanks Jess!). She compared the mission to a field of roses. When you are approaching the field of roses, it is so gorgeous and wonderful, but as you walk through it, you get scratched up from the thorns and it is a challenge to take each step forward, but then when you get across the field and look back, you just see how beautiful it is, and it doesn't matter that you have some scars, because in the end you are stronger, and all you remember is how beautiful the field of roses is as you look back on it. Gah! I just love that. And it came at just the right time. 

So, today, for P-Day we went to Iloilo City. It was fun! We went to SM (means Super Market, I think) which is like a super mega mall. I'm pretty sure there were like 4 floors. It was huge! Sister Mendez had to buy some luggage before transfers, and I was able to buy a nice proselyting bag. (I did buy a purse, but it is pretty beat up already. haha. This new bag will last. ) The jeepney situation is total madness downtown. Makes me glad I just have the few jeepney route options here in Oton. 

And, taaadaaaa, the news you have all been waiting for. Drum roll pleeeeeaaaaase! We had a baptism on Friday! YAY! Kian M. is now the newest member of Oton Branch. Yay! Also, his 11th birthday was on Friday, so we celebrated in style. We bought a cake, the Branch Mission Leader, Brother Lemwhel made some delicious pancit bihon, and President Catalan's family provided juice and cookies. Party! Kian was so happy, he was too shy to bear his testimony after, but it is awesome to see him be a stellar example to his Mom, Mae, and his best friend, Jewelline, and his little siblings. 

So, that's all. I hope it made up for the short email last week, haha. I love you all. I am always grateful for the letters I receive from everyone. I am a very lucky missionary when it comes to mail. Salamat gid! 

Read your scriptures, Pray always, Be Grateful, Smile, Go to Church, Be an Example, and BE HAPPY. I LOVE YOU!!!!! 

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. I never explained "Sakit." Sakit means sick or pain or anything like that. So Sister Mendez is Sakit.