Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Week and Paglaum (Hope)

Dear Family, 

Kumusta kamo? Kumusta ang Christmas ninyo? It was sooo great to Skype you! I'm so glad you all had a great Christmas! Happy New Years!! Palangga ko kamo! 

Our Christmas was great! There are 3 sets of Sisters in the Jaro 1st ward, so the other 2 areas had some baptisms for the mission's "White Christmas" Goal. We were hoping to have one too, but Charity, our 11 year old PM (Part-member family) investigator hasn't been to church! Rizza, one of the new converts, bore the sweetest testimony of her love for the Savior. She has had an extremely challenging life, but now she is the happiest she has ever been.

We got to eat dinner at one of Pavia's investigator's. Her name is Cherry and she is so awesome! She used to work on a cruise ship for 13 years--so I asked her if she could do towel origami, and she got all excited and grabbed some towels and showed us how to make a bunch of animals. It was so funny! She was a hoot. She is practically a member--and she would be baptized like today, but the problem is she is never in one place for too long. She has a large, nice home in Pavia, but she is always traveling around Iloilo or in Manila, so she hasn't been to church consistently. 

Then Thursday was Skype-ing! That was fun and funny! I was hoping I would have an accent, but I think my English was kind of normal. I'll teach you all some more Filipino body language next time. haha. 

Friday we did exchanges and I went to Jaro 2 with Sister Lewis. It was a blast! She is a great missionary. She reminded me a lot of Sister Foster, which is funny because she was Sister Foster's "nanay" for the week she was here. One of their investigators said that I sound like a native. "Ilongga ka na!" (You're an Ilongga already!) YESSS! I am so grateful for the gift of tongues. And I am so grateful that my second area is still Ilonggo so I can keep improving. I love this language! 

Sunday we had 2 investigators at church! Yay! Vicinte and Shirley. We are a little concerned about Vicinte because 1) it seems he is listening to us because we are two pretty Americans--at church yesterday he was asking the other sisters for their numbers and if they had a boyfriend waiting for them. And 2) he is lined up to go work in the United Arab Emirates in a few weeks. He has been to church 3 times now, and he really wants to be baptized. We just need to make sure there is some real commitment, clear understanding, and true conversion to Christ. And hopefully he will stay in the country! 

So, Shirley was a referral from one of the Elders (he OYM'd her on a jeepney on our way back from district meeting). We contacted her on Saturday and she was soooo talkative. As in...we almost couldn't get a word in edgewise. But once she let us actually start a lesson, she was very attentive. She asked if we were members just because our parents raised us in the church and she wanted to meet some people who had actually switched from Catholic to LDS--So she was super willing to go to church. I was surprised to see her. And she definitely was feeling the Spirit. In the MTC, Brother Oldroyd told us about "inception" as a missionary--if you ask the right inspired questions, the investigator will basically teach themself the truth as we guide them along. I think with how talkative Shirley is we'll have to get good at that fast. I am learning more and more the value of just listening though. As I have listened to the people we teach, I am more and more amazed at the challenges that they have faced and overcome and at the amazing faith they have. We are just here to help them understand and use the Atonement through the Gospel of Christ. 

Like yesterday, we taught Imee for the third time. She has had an incredibly challenging life, she opened up to us so much about the pain and heartache she has faced. Her husband emotionally abuses her. We just listened and tried to comfort her. I don't even have the words for it. I could feel her life weighing down on me when we left. But through it all she knows that because of the Lord she is able to overcome all of her hardships. She knows the Lord only gives us what He knows we can handle. "Kaya ko," she kept saying....I can do it. I love her so much! 

So, it is the season of resolutions. I have learned on my mission that goal setting is not just for January 1st or the start of a new school year--it is for every week, every day. I really like this quote out of PMG: "I am so thorougly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life." --Elder Russel M. Ballard. I know that as we set our big goals, we need to make little bite-size goals and plans so that we can achieve the overall vision. One step at a time. "You can move mountains if you move one rock at a time." (My all-time favorite quote! see: things Sister Winward learned from her awesome Mom) Good luck to all of you! Dream big! Then give your dreams a plan and a deadline. ;) Hey you should all tell me some of your resolutions! 

I love you all so much! Have a Happy New Year. 
Welcome 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, December 23, 2013

Malipayon nga Paskwa! Merry Christmas!

Dear Family, 

Merry Christmas! I am so excited to skype you all! Palangga ko kamo! I am considering just speaking in Ilonggo for the 2 hours. Just kidding! ;) 

So, ZTM went well. I had them watch the video of me opening my mission call (which was really funny) and then discussed that talk by Elder Oaks and especially about Charity with a nami little powerpoint. I felt like I was in school again having to put that presentation together. haha. 

On Wednesday and Friday we did exchanges. Wednesday I went to Pavia with Sister Ribelin and Friday I went to our housemates' area with Sister Rappleye. It was fun to see how these two sisters are doing and to learn from them. Maybe they learned from me too, I don't know. haha. It made me super grateful again for the gift of tongues because I was able to help them out with the language. 

We (me and my housemates) have been discussing what our families' Christmas traditions are and we are probably going to mush them all together. Before I started emailing today I watch the new and the old Nativity videos for our tradition. Oh! That reminds me--I got the third Allred package with the stocking in it. Thanks! I made Sister Rappleye open that one. I am excited for the Christmas suprises! Yay! Also, if this has not already occured to people--I would LOVE to get your annual Christmas cards with the adorable family pictures on them. Better late than never. :) Pretty please with sugar on top!

And speaking of packages. We are making Christmas special for 3 families with all those toys that the family sent. Charity's family and the Arsenio's in our area. And Dodge's family in the other area. We gave Charity's family theirs, all wrapped up, yesterday, and all the kids were so excited. And I also handed out the Articles of Faith cards (thanks KariLyn!) and the CTR wristbands to another family yesterday. They were really excited. 

Probably the major difference in my Christmas (other than being a missionary halfway around the world) will be that it is so hot. This is technically rainy season, but it hardly rains and I feel like I am melting. Just kidding. I am used to it. Sister Marchant and I keep wishing it would just snow for like 20 minutes. Even though that would definitely throw all the Filipinos into a panic. haha. 

We are planning to teach lessons on Christmas, but if those fall through we will go caroling! Caroling here is like trick-or-treating. If you carol at someone's house, they have to give you candy or money. But we will just be asking for a little of their time instead. ;) 

Sister Marchant and I started our New Year's Resolutions early by going jogging this morning. haha. We didn't last too long, and mostly we were just hoping the neighborhood dogs wouldn't chase us. But it's a start. 

I am so glad you all went to visit Sister Marchant's family! Yay! That sound like it was fun. You should definitely all keep in touch. About lumpia--it is my favorite! I love that stuff. Yum... I'm glad you got to try some. I have been doing better at learning how to cook some of the food here. I made yellow curry this week (YUM!) and sopas (macaroni soup) last week. 

Makita ay kita sa Hwebes a las once para sa akon!  I love you all so much! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, December 16, 2013


Dear Family, 

How are you?! Thank you all for the emails. And especially thank you for the Christmas packages! I am excited to give out those toys to the families who really need a Merry Christmas. I didn't want to ruin any surprises, so I had my housemates open the 3 big packages (one from home and 2 from the Allred fam) and I opened the one from Grandma and Grandpa Allred...because I knew there might be stuff we would want before Christmas. So thank you sooo much for the toys and the candy and the CDs....I don't know what else there is yet, but I am excited. 

So, tomorrow we have a Zone Training Meeting...and I am giving my first training. Medyo nervous, but I am excited too. It will be FUUUUN!!! My training will be based on a talk by Elder Dallin H Oaks called "Why do we serve?" So, mostly it will be about Charity. The Zone Leaders, Elder Bateman (who is somehow related to the 5th ward Bateman's) and Elder Giddings, say that we should do a powerpoint. So that's nifty. And that's how we'll be spending the rest of P-day. :) 

I went to my first MLC on Wednesday...which was fun! We had some excellent trainings by President and the APs. In the past our mission hasn't been the most baptism producing mission, but we are turning that around with aiming high in our goals--because the higher we aim, the higher we will achieve. 

On to the cool stuff...on Friday and this morning we went to Lapaz to assemble family food kits of relief goods for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. I think I've spent a total of like 5 hours scooping rice. And another couple of hours breaking down boxes. The kits had 3 kilos of rice, 5 cans of meatloaf, and 6 cans of sardines in tomato sauce. We had 4 of the zones there today. It was fun! And it felt great to finally have the opportunity to make a difference for the victims of the typhoon. Yay! (And we even got to wear the "Mormon Helping Hands" vests. So we're official. Yeah!) 

Sunday was a success, even though we didn't have any proselyting time (we got to watch the Christmas Devotional Broadcast in Lapaz!). We had 5 investigators come to church! Yay! 4 of them live near our house and we picked them up for church (which means we paid their jeepney fare), and one came on his own. That is the most I've had come to church so far in my mission. So that was pleasing. And after church, 2 of Sister Yang and Sister Rappleye's investigators were baptized! In the words of Sister Flores (one of the members here), "it was a good harvest." haha. Yay Baptisms!!! 

So, about my area. First of all, it is huge. It is definitely a lot larger than my last area--but I find that I am learning it a lot faster (probably because I am not in culture shock this time). If anything, I am probably in shock of how much wealthier of an area it is. There are a lot of very nice subdivisions, and the people in the ward are much more well-off. There are still poor areas too though, we spend a lot of our time in a barangay (the cities are split into areas called barangays) called Tabuc Suba. Which is basically like huge relocation area. There was a big typhoon named Frank in like 2008, and many countries helped out by building housing settlements for the victims. Many of those people are incredibly poor, but they do still have a home to live in. But it really has surprised me how much better off it is here--like for most of the people in the ward it is not too much of a sacrifice to afford to get to the Cebu temple. So that is definitely a blessing. 

I love you all so much and I am sooo excited to Skype you!  So expect my skype call on Christmas evening! Yay! We get 2 hours to skype...same as email time! Merry Christmas! I love you all! Enjoy the snow--it is so weird to have a HOT Christmas. (And I thought this was rainy season...? Nope, just hot all the time.) I love you. Have a great week and use your break time wisely! CTR. 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's a Small World After All

Hey Family!

Guess WHAT!!!!!!?????? I have many cool things to share with you today. Big changes....prepare to be amazed...drumroll please........

Yes, I was transferred on Thursday. I am now in Jaro 1st Ward, area B. My new companion is Sister Marchant. She's from WEST JORDAN. She went to WJHS (graduated 2010). She went to USU, and lived in Bridgerland--right behind where I lived for a whole year! She was even in the play Aida that I was in the orchestra pit for in 2009. We have many friends and acquaintances in common from high school and college. We've been crossing paths all our lives, and it took us getting called to a mission halfway around the world to finally meet. I have decided that the Lord reeeeaally wants us to be friends, so now he is sticking us together 24/7 for at least a few months. :) Isn't that the most exciting thing you ever heard? I love it. And, she is the BEST!!! I love her to death already. 

I also received a call to serve as a Sister Training Leader (STL). It was actually kind of funny how transfers happened because, from the intel I had gathered I was headed to Kalibo (up north) until about 10 minutes before transfer meeting, when President Aquino pulled me out and extended a call to be a Sister Training Leader, and I had to move my luggage to a different room so it could get to Iloilo North Zone instead of Kalibo Zone. It is interesting to me that I am an STL because I am younger (in age and in the mission) than all of the Sisters I am serving. It will be a fantastic opportunity to uplift and learn from the other sisters in our Zone. What does a Sister Training Leader do? I will attend Mission Leaders Conference (MLC) on Wednesday, give a training at our Zone Training Meeting the following Tuesday, and most importantly go on exchanges with the other sisters in our Zone to see how they are doing, how their work is going, and uplift them. 

Jaro (pronounced Haro) is even more urban than Oton was. I am sure Mom is laughing at me because I told her I wanted to go to a more bukid (mountainy/green) area (Kalibo, Roxas, Antique, or Guimaras)--but nope, this is even more city. It is kind of richer too. On some things, I think the Lord thinks it is funny to give me exactly the opposite of what I was hoping for, but on other things He definitely grants my righteous desires. Like becoming STL. I was hoping and praying for the opportunity to get to know and be able to serve my sisters here in Iloilo Mission. Yay! That is certainly not the first time I have seen God's hand work in my life in a very unexpected way. And I am so grateful that I know He has an amazing plan for my mission and for my life. 

The work is pretty good here. It is a fairly large area, and we are really trying to find the elect that God has prepared for us. Not just the ones who will let us talk to them, but the ones who are ready to act on our message and change their lives because of the gospel. We have a bunch of investigators from a part-member family who will hopefully be baptized in January. We are focusing on Charity, who is 11 years old. She is very bright and she prays very sincerely about the things we teach her. I am looking forward to searching out the less actives in our area too, hopefully I can apply some of the things I learned about less actives that I learned in Oton. 

One funny experience we had this week was on Saturday night we went to teach an investigator family, and their uncle was there. He is a traveling missionary from the Universal Mission (which I am pretty sure he like founded himself or something) and he was practically trying to convert us. He told us all about his Near Death Experience (NDE--his acronym, not mine) and how they are basically trying to take every religious group and mash them into one big, happy melting pot. So that was interesting. He was fluent in English and was telling us how he wrote a book about his "NDE" and just basically convincing us to let him be a guest speaker at our church. Hmm. It is funny how off-putting it is to have someone speak to us in English when we are out proselyting. Just, please,  speak Ilonggo like everyone else. haha.

Also, our balay is the cutest little place I ever saw. It is like a little condo, and it is fairly new, and cute and colorful. 2 stories and very tiny, but I love it. I can definitely live here for a little bit. 

Anyway, that's all about transfers, folks. I love you all and I hope you are striving to strengthen your testimonies of Christ each day. Have a wonderful day and week. Pray for missionary experiences. Peace, Love, and Adobo. 

Love, Sister Winward 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Conference and the baptism that almost never was

Hello my dear family! 

How are all of you? Hopefully, excellent! So this was a pretty eventful week. We had a Christmas Conference on Wednesday. It was so fun. It was a nice time to relax and get excited for Christmas. I think the northern zones needed it most...they have been CSPing (community service project) every day since the typhoon. Which I am sure is beyond exhausting. So we just had a fun day, it was 4 zones and there were some hilarious skits (as you can see from the elf picture I and we all got mission t-shirts with the new motto Pres. Aquino chose: "Mission of Excellence." It was kind of early in the season because a lot of missionaries will be finishing their missions tomorrow...I think like 15 are going home and only about 4 are coming there will be a little lack for a while. It means some areas will either be temporarily closed or merged. 3 of them are APs (we have 2 office APs and 2 traveling APs who just work all over the mission and go on exchanges to help out the other elders). 

Thursday was really cool. See 1 Nephi 4:6....that is basically what we did. We had this investigator way back when I first arrived here that we dropped because she was never home. But the Spirit was nagging me that we needed to go back there for the last couple weeks...we just never had the time, but then we just scratched our plans for Thursday because I knew I had to at least show Sister Nonu where she lived before I get transferred. It is kind of far out of the way, I almost couldn't remember where (I was still in culture shock mode back when we did teach her). Soooo....we found her house again and it was like she was waiting for us. Yay! She wondered why we hadn't been back in ages. Ooops :) She opened up to us that she had lost a baby back in March, he was premature, she has 3 other little kids, and she agreed to a baptismal goal date. Yay! Definitely a MIRACLE. 

Friday, while we were finishing up weekly planning, it hit me. I will be gone from this area in less than a week. So a crying fest ensued. But anyway, we then went to teach Rose (I love her so much!) and she just opened up to us about all the things that have been stressing her out. Sometimes I don't realize how bad people struggle, because a lot of them put on a good front. She was saying how they don't always have 3 meals a day and that is so hard because she is still nursing baby Hannah. I couldn't hold back tears while I testified of our Savior's love for and awareness of her. Then Sister Nonu started crying. Then Rose started crying. I think this week I am really understanding what Alma means in Mosiah 18:8-10. I never would have guessed that their family doesn't always have 3 meals a day. Baby Hannah and her faith in Christ give her a reason to keep pressing forward.

So, once upon a time there was a child-of-record whose baptism got pushed back so many times it was not even funny. We've been teaching this 8 year old kid named Kyle, because his grandparents asked us to, and I just wanted to build some trust with their family since they all attend different wards, when really they should all be in Oton. Originally he was supposed to be baptized on Oct 5, but various circumstances pushed it back to Saturday. But anyway, we almost thought it might not happen Saturday either, because the new set of baptismal clothes Pres Catalan ordered hadn't been delivered yet. But they came just in the nick of time, and then everything else fell into place. Hallelujah! So Kyle's Grandpa, Bro. Larupay baptized him. Teaching Kyle has definitely taught me and Sister Nonu some.....patience. Patience is a virtue....

We've got some sweet investigators we're working with...not quite progressing yet, but they will get there. They have LOTS of potential. :) Yay! 

I love you all! Christ lives and He loves each of you sooo much! I hope you all have a fantastic week. Halong pirmi!

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. I highly suggest obtaining and studying from a copy of the Jesus Christ special issue of the Ensign, March 2008. It is wonderful! :)