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