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