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

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