Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mission Accomplished

Dear Family, 

Well, this is it. All that was running through my mind when we left Chonna and Hernie's house at 8:00pm last night was..."It's Over." And the tears started. I can't even believe it. I had a good little interview with President earlier, and right now I am waiting for our Departure Meeting to start in the mission office. Some of the missionaries' parents are here to pick them up. It's weird. haha. 

On Thursday, Kitkit was baptized...WOOOOOO!!! And she was confirmed yesterday. (I'll have to tell you the story of the traveling baptismal pants.) The highlight for me, other than BAPTISM was the talk that Sister Robelyn gave. She was so prepared and it was amazing. 

Elna is now officially called as the Gospel Principles class teacher, and Robelyn was sustained and set apart as the Assistant Family History consultant. Progress!!!!! Those callings are seriously PERFECT for them. I am so excited for them to continue to grow in the gospel. 

Friday, we had a way sick Halloween party with the Branch. Sister Ribelin and Sister Haun headed up the preparations, everyone pitched in, and it was a huge success. Lots of investigators and Less actives attended, too! 

This Saturday (on Grandma Allred's birthday), the Salde's will be baptized...Rosemarie, Francis, and Geraldine. We've been going crazy getting them ready...but that's just what needs to happen when THEY ARE SO PREPARED!!! Talk about golden... 

It has not been easy to say goodbye. I've been holding it mostly together. Filipinos are the SWEETEST people...they've given me some sweet little gifts that mean so much because of the love behind it. And so many hugs. I love them so much. I will miss this soooooo much. It still doesn't seem real. Sister Domingo's not taking it easy either. I woke up early to finish packing...and when she woke up she was crying. She keeps telling me not to go. :( 

Hmmm...Last words... Pressure. :) My time as a sister missionary in the Philippines Iloilo Mission has been AMAZING. I know without a doubt that this work is the Lord's work. It doesn't always go as expected, but it goes exactly as He wants it. I feel like I had a testimony before, but now it has been anchored and I have a direction. My mission has set me on the Lord's course. I have met and served and been served by so many beautiful people in the last 18 months. I cannot even begin to express the happiness my mission has brought to me. True happiness...because my life is centered in Christ. Happiness that comes because of obedience to the commandments and unconditional love for the Lord and His children. The lessons I have learned here will carry me throughout all eternity. It is not easy. But nothing easy was ever worth it. "Salvation is not a cheap experience." 

I love you all. I will be eternally grateful for this mission experience. I know it is just a springboard for great things to come. Most of all, I know He lives! Halong! 

Love, Sister Cassandra Winward

Sister Cassie Winward
Philippines Iloilo Mission
May 2013 to November 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Last Full Week

Dear Family,
How are all of you? This has been another amazing week. Of course. I am starting to get nervous, and of course excited about seeing you all again. So little time left. It seems sooo surreal. Life is but a dream!
This week we moved into our new apartment.  It feels like a hotel, because it is brand new, and I am living out of my suitcase since there is no point in unpacking. It is so nice, but I miss the other house because it was close to the L.  family...and close to most of our investigators. haha.
I need to brag about Hernie this week. Seriously. He is amazing. Every single thing we have taught him, he has been applying to his life. Like Saturday, we taught him Law of the Fast, and he determined on the spot that he would fast on Sunday for he and Chonna's marriage. So he did. And he even paid tithing yesterday and he's not even a member yet! Oh man! I am so excited for him to become a member and for his baptism and for everything. Wow!
The S.  family is still golden. We have to kick it up a notch so they can be baptized on Nov. 8, because there is no reason at all to delay it, so they will be all ready for their baptismal interviews by the time I leave to go to Arevalo next week.
Kitkit passed her interview, and I think the only problem left is finding baptismal clothes small enough for her. She is so tiny.
Elna and Robelyn are doing great. They are addicted to the scriptures. The miracle of the week was that my order of scriptures and hymnbooks finally arrived, so it has been really fun to deliver those to all these people that I love so much.
We had a great lesson with Andrea the other day where she totally bore her testimony of how the gospel has changed her life. I am so excited for her. Nov. 15!!!
I'll see you all so soon. I love you all! Thanks for your love, support, letters, packages, emails, and especially prayers over the last 18 months. Have an excellent week!

Love, Sister Winward 

Friday, October 24, 2014

"The Time is Far Spent"

Dear Family, 

How are all of you? I have decided that my theme song for this week is "The Time is Far Spent," next week is "God Be with You til We Meet Again," and the week after that is "America the Beautiful." (There's more where that came from, brace yourselves for corny missionary humor. Awkward.) 

Anyway...HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY. My gorgeous sister has a big birthday.  Also clear the roads, she's gonna start learning how to drive. YIKES! (Me relearning how to drive is probably a scarier prospect though. haha) 

This week in the Book of Mormon I really enjoyed studying Alma 26 and 29...where Ammon and Alma are rejoicing in the Lord and full to the brim with gratitude for their missions. I feel like I have that in common with them. As I have been reflecting a bit on my mission, I know that I am still so far from perfect, but somehow the Lord has been able to use me as an instrument in His hands for furthuring His eternal plan and purposes, even if only a little bit. I have learned so much. I have learned so much about how to learn the gospel and live it. I am so grateful for the experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the growth I have personally had as a missionary and servant of my Savior, and for the change I have seen in those around me through the gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't want this to end, but I know there is a time and season to all things. 

This week we continued working on finding the less actives in our area. We contacted Brother Paul last week and taught him twice this week. We held one of our appointments with him at the church, which was perfect for some instant fellowshipping. The only thing that has been holding him back for the last 5 years has been shyness. But he is friends already with so many of the members. Paul and Glen came to church this week. Yay!!! Elder Sessions always reminds us that we need to view the rescue with just as much value as baptisms. A returned or a converted soul are just the same to the Lord, He wants us all to progress forward in faith on the path He has prepared. 

Last Wednesday, Sister Ribelin and I had an awesome day on exchanges. We had a treasure hunt in Madrangca for the less actives on our list, and actually found some solid investigators, like Renz, who has at least 10 piercings, and was so excited to look up :) In the evening we taught Kitkit, and found out that her grandma was going to take her to Manila for two weeks. Including the week of her baptism. I felt like I hit a brick wall. Seriously??? My last chance to see one of my investigators reach the waters of baptism is being taken away? What? No no no no no. Sister Ribelin suggested that we fast as a household for Kitkit. So we did. All four of us fasted that Kitkit will be baptized on Oct. 30 and that she woud somehow not go to Manila. And it happened! Simple as that! Her grandma decided it would cost to much and not be worth it to take Kitkit along for the trip. I am so grateful for the power of fasting. And I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows us so perfectly and individually. I don't think I could've gotten through that one without Sister Ribelin. And we didn't even know, but Oct. 30 is Kitkit's father's birthday. Perfect! I know that everything about my mission has been prepared by the Lord. His hand is in everything. And the closer I am to Him the more I notice it. It is amazing. 

The S family is still doing great. Geraldine read through the whole children's Book of Mormon Stories in one night. And they have been praying for answers. Hernie and Chonna are doing great as well. We taught them about Tithing last night. And Brother Hernie finally made it through all 3 hours of church here in San Jose. :) I am so excited for this area. 

I love you all and I hope you all have a great week. Seek Him and you'll see the miracles that follow. 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, October 20, 2014

Castaway to Sira-an, Anini-y, Antique

Dear Family, 

It has been a great, wild week. Two Fridays ago, there was an earthquake here on Panay (we felt it about a 4 or 5). I forgot to mention it. Then last Friday there was a typhoon. But we're all good. San Jose just got soaked. It was a signal 2 here, according to Sister Domingo, my personal weather woman (Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyen was a 4+). I heard Luzon and Japan got it pretty bad though. 

This morning we went on an awesome adventure! We (the STLs, my comp, some members and I) went to this tiny cute little island called Sira-an down at the bottom of Antique. The beach was white and the water was aquamarine blue. It was soooo beautiful. We hired this sketchy little boat to take us out to the island. We were fairly certain it would capsize, but it's all good. This local girl was showing us around the island. I'll show you the pictures in a couple of weeks. There were little starfish and gorgeous flowers and SO much coral all over the place. If anyone wants a way sick vacation adventure...Antique is where it's at. :) 

This week we started a new project. I decided to get together all of the names of the members that supposedly live in our area. The records aren't all up to date. But we are going to try to find as many of the Less Actives as we can. Some of them haven't been contacted in a long time. We are hoping to further the Rescue and also find some sweet part-member families. I am excited to leave Sister Domingo with lots more to do and lots of opportunities on her hands. This work will not stop moving forward, especially not in San Jose A. I know the Lord is guiding us. Even if I personally don't see all the fruits of my mission, which I know I won't, I know I have planted as much as I can so far. We don't do this work alone. We truly need each other and we need unity so the work is a continuous effort. 

I am grateful for the opportunity we had this weekend to watch General Conference. Just because a bunch of people have asked about how things work here in the Philippines: General Conference is sent here from the Area Office on DVDs the week following the live broadcast, then we get to watch it the next Saturday and Sunday together in the Stake/District Center. And this Saturday we get to watch the Womens' Broadcast. Yay! General Conference is like Christmas to missionaries. Every talk is like a gift under the tree. (By the way, there are 72 days until Christmas.) I especially like the theme of loving and sustaining the Prophet and our leaders in the church and trusting the revelation they receive. The living Lord leads His living Church....and why would a living being ever stop speaking? That is the principle of continuous revelation. I am so thankful for the power of prayer and for every opportunity to teach about prayer. Just last night, we were able to teach Francis and Nerisa and the rest of their family that it is okay to be frank with our Heavenly Father. He wants that kind of open, honest communication from us. How else would the young Joseph Smith have received his answer if he hadn't asked the question that burned in his soul? Sometimes our investigators just get stuck in their prayers. So do most of us. It takes more consideration than ordering at the drive thru window. It is not meant to be rushed through. It is good to be grateful, but not to be repetitive. Or to ignore the problems and questions we all have. So talk to Him about it. He'll help you figure it all out and have peace. That is such a key to missionary work. Those who stop progressing are those who haven't tried to ask Him to know the truth. It makes a huge difference. 

I am so proud of Robelyn, too. She stayed for both of the Sunday sessions and took notes and was so excited to see the prophet. She makes me want to be a better member and to help the other members to be so excited about the gospel too. She is an amazing example to me. I am excited for her to be sustained in her calling next week!!! Moving forward! 

I love you all! Remember to read and pray every day! Have and Excellent week! 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sacred Time

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Dear Family,
How are all of you? I had a good week this week. A much better week. Key indicator-wise. Companion-wise. Member-missionary-work-wise. Study-wise. Just everything. It was a good week. By the way everyone, in the Philippines, Christmas music starts playing when the "BER" months MERRY CHRISTMAS. Also, on Sept. 23 will be 100 days until Christmas. Just so you all know. Also, transfer week is this week. Either I'm staying here and it will all be the same, or everything is going to get flipped upside-down for my LAST 6 WEEKS. Stay tuned. haha
Well, some great things happened this week. I want to tell you about some great people...
Glenn is awesome. We are now BFFs. jk. We spent some time with him last Monday night, and he even treated us to the fancy-pants Steakhouse right by our house that I hadn't tried yet. He didn't come to church, the stinker, but now we have a friendship with him it can only go up from here. We found out he is a really skilled Civil Engineer and he even designed our way nami apartment (I'll show you all pictures of the San Jose apartment when I'm home). And we were able to build a little trust with another LA Melchizedek Priesthood holder, Allan, we spent an hour talking with him about his Bonsai tree collection, because he doesn't really want us to teach him...YET.
Nikkie is Kinkin's mom. (By the way, Kiara will have her heart surgery this Wednesday. She just had some checkups and things for the last week. She'll be back by their birthday on Oct. 9.) Nikkie worked with us last Wednesday. She is also our new BFF. We went jogging-jogging and tsika-tsika (chatting) with her at the Binirayan track this morning. Then she treated us to a little tinapay (bread) snack at Bread&Butter. She is really cool, and so faithful through all these trials. Her son just died of cancer and her daughter is going to have heart surgery...I'm pretty sure I'd be freaking out, but she is so happy man gihapon. She is surely anchored in Christ.
Rene is Brother Kiko's cousin. He will be baptized on Oct 18. He is kind of a shy one, but he opened up a little more to us this week. Repentance is going to be a big part of his baptism prep. But I know that as he relies on the Savior, he will become a new person gid. I am excited to see his testimony grow.
Kitkit is still doing well. I messaged her mom on facebook (Merry Chris), and her mom is planning on staying here for good once her contract in Kuwait ends in 2 years. She has plans to open a store or something. I am excited for that, because I know her family needs her. Who ever thought going abroad to work was a good idea was crazy...but some people here are that desperate. I just hope she'll see that by putting her family and their salvation first, the Lord will really take care of all the rest. Just TRUST Him. Kitkit will also be baptized on Oct. 18.
Andrea is doing well. She is reading the Book of Mormon consistently and excited to share with us what she learned every time we teach her. She was pretty sick over the weekend, so she couldn't come to church. But she is preparing to be baptized and so excited. She read 2 Nephi 31 and learned so much this week. She's only 12, but her testimony is really developing so much. I am excited to see her progress and maybe even serve a mission one day. Who knows.
Sister Condes is like our mom here in San Jose. She fed us on Saturday night. Beef Pepper-steak--Yum. She is so funny. She is one of those people that never ever stop talkin-talkin-talking... but I have learned so much about life by listening to her tell about her life. (She works in the prosector's office...I'll have to tell you about the joke: "Who stab you?!") She is so generous and selfless. Her son is serving a mission in Quezon City. She has been working with us every week this month, and she gave us the most nami referral this week. Nerisa is the mother of Francis and 6 other kids. We only taught Nerisa and Francis, but they are so prepared. Francis is 26 and told us that he made sure to get Sundays off already so he could go to church. According to Sister Condes, he told his mom he wants to become a Mormon. :) Yay!
Hernie is doing great. Last-last week we taught him Plan of Salvation. Or he taught us... We left them with the little picture cut-outs so Chonna could explain it to him without us, because he only has a little bit of time that we can teach him. But they talked about it all, and Chonna told us he practiced setting up the pictures in the right order every night. haha. When he showed us, he was nervous and hesitating, but he did great. Like it was a test or something. haha. We were able to teach him about the doctrines, and he is so excited to be baptized. They are consistent with their daily prayer and scripture study as a family. Yay! We are still waiting on paperwork for them to be able to get married, but I'm pretty sure they have all the money saved up they will need.
My companion is doing a lot better with waking up on time and other things. Exchanges with the STLs and a good Companionship Inventory helped a lot. It always does. :) We are a lot more open and unified than we were. And obedient. It is the best. :) The hymn "Lord, I would follow thee," hymnbook page 220 helped me a lot this week.

I had some great study this week that I want to share with all of you. I found a hidden treasure in our was a special edition copy of the Liahona from October 2011 all about the Book of Mormon (see link below). Right now as a mission we are studying the Book of Mormon, so I was excited to learn more. I suggest you all read the whole thing, but of course, not everyone has an hour of personal study built into their schedule every day, so at least read/watch the talk by President Ezra Taft Benson (see link below). You will never be the same. I learned so much about the power of testimony and how it is gained. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon. It is so much more precious and valuable than we realize most of the time. I know it is the way to gaining a sure and steadfast testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and this church is His kingdom on the earth today. Ponder just for a moment all the effort put into the book you can hold in your hands and take anywhere you want... So simple, but it makes all the difference for us that are converted to the truth. Be consistent in your study of the Book of Mormon. 
Elder Richard G. Scott said:“What does the Book of Mormon mean to you? Has it been a source of inspiration and power in your life? Will it continue to be? If you have not yet drunk deeply from this fountain of pure truth, with all of my soul I encourage you to do so now. Don’t let the consistent study of the Book of Mormon be one of the things that you intend to do but never quite accomplish. Begin today.” Immerse yourselves in the Book of Mormon, and the Lord will make your life beautiful.

BOM talk by Pres. Benson 1986: 
Liahona Oct. 2011: 

I love you all so much. Have a great week. Thanks always for the emails and encouragement and support and thoughts and prayers. You are all the best. Share with me what you learn in your study of the Book of Mormon. Replace your fears with faith in Jesus Christ. Halong pirmi.
Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Dear Family,
How are all of you? I am doing great...a little sick, but Sister Ribelin gave me some essential oils and it's working like a charm. If anyone can guess what "Keyk" is I'll give them a prize. Guys, you won't even believe it, a "joe" is sitting next to me in the internet cafe. It is so weird to see other Americans. haha...I'm gonna have the WORST culture shock. Just sayin.'
So this week has been good. Ups and downs. As usual. haha. Mission life is so unexpected and so routine at the same time. I love it!
On Monday we had a cool lesson with Kitkit and the Tupas family. It is hard to get little kids to pay attention, right? So we were going to teach them the Plan of Salvation one piece at a time, and without planning this beforehand, Sister Domingo and I had an idea to take them on a little "tour." So we had all the little kids (ages 6 to 14) close their eyes, we pulled out our flashlights and shined it on their faces, and told to them use their imaginations as we toured them through our time in the Premortal Life. It was really cool. Then we did it again on Saturday night when we taught them about the Creation, Adam and Eve, and the Atonement. Elder Ortiz the AP was working with us that day, and it was cool to share that idea with him. We just narrated it all and then the kids thought it was so cool. Narrating the Atonement brought the spirit so strong. I know even thought they're young, they felt it.
Kinkin's funeral was on Thursday. It was a really nice service. We got to sing "A Child's Prayer" with the primary kids. He is buried in a nice, private cemetery more like the ones we have in America. Kinkin's uncle, Glenn, spoke and gave Kinkin's biography. Glenn has been less-active forever and a half...Sister Viliami and I tried to track him down before, but he is usually AWOL. Because of the funeral and Kinkin's passing, we were finally able to meet Glenn, and we have an appointment with him tonight. Yay! We are going to focus on just gaining his trust and building a friendship with him. And Kinkin's mother, Niki, is planning to come work with us this Wednesday. She is so strong. Also, Kinkin's younger sisters are twins, Kyla and Kiara. Kiara has a heart problem and will be going to get a long-awaited surgery this Tuesday. They are so blessed to have someone sponsoring the surgery. Even out of their heart-breaking loss, this family is already experiencing blessings.
I've had an interesting time with Sister Domingo this week.  The Lord taught me that effectively correcting people will never come in yelling at them, but speaking boldly and lovingly. Giving them time, understanding, and patience. And eternal second chances.  I love her a ton. She drives me nuts on a daily basis. Hay nako! I have never had anyone test my patience so much. But I know Heavenly Father has great plans for her. I decided she is like a nice layer cake...not like an onion. (Shrek, balahaw?) There is a lot beneath the surface.
A FISHY STORY: Once upon a time, Sister Ribelin and Sister Dotillos went out to proselyte in the pouring rain on Saturday morning. (It has been a signal 1 or 2 typhoon here and there is a bad one up in Manila...that just means it is raining really hard here, nothing dangerous. I still have never walked in a flood.) Then these two crazy sisters saw a fish swimming down the road and through the mud. So they tried to catch it with a little plastic bag. They finally got it into Sister Dotillos' umbrella, and asked a man to get it into the bag. Apparently the fish had dangerous spikes on its' head, which the kind man removed. Then they brought it home so excited about their catch and decided to cook it up. But they were too squeamish to kill it. They transferred it into a jar....which it then leaped out of and onto our countertop. YUCK! Luckily for them, we had texted the water guys to deliver our drinking water. So we asked them to kill the fish. He did it and gutted it and was laughing at us. ;) EW! Sister Ribelin and Sister Domingo cut it a little ... and then it started wiggling on the cutting board...AAAAHHHHHH!....They were screaming their heads off. And then, when they put it into hot oil in the frying was still wiggling! So. Gross. haha. I think they gave it to one of their investigators to eat once it was good and dead and cooked. We are so buang!
The best part of my week was our Zone Training Meeting on Tuesday and exchanges with Sister Ribelin on Wednesday. She is so awesome. The Zone Training really gave me that boost I needed to kick it up a notch in my missionary work. They talked all about "Raising the Bar." Shoot for the moon. Believe you can fly...and make it happen. That is really what faith is all about. Rely on the Lord, and do your very best and miracles will happen in your life. Live your life with purpose. ACT! We don't make goals for nothing....We make them to achieve them, then to raise the bar higher. Anyone can do it, and everyone should do it. Make your short time here on earth worth every second. Be men and women of purpose.
I love you all and I am grateful for your support. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. Keyk is just the Hiligaynon spelling of Cake. haha :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Patience pa gid

Dear Family, 

Kumusta kamo tanan? How are you all? I am doing great! My companion is feeling much better and I am ready for a rockin' week. Yeah! 

The first half of the week was pretty lame...because my comp was sick. It is hard to not be able to get out and work. But it did teach me some more patience. We were able to go on splits for just a few hours. It is a terrible feeling as a missionary to feel like you are neglecting your investigators. But it was a good opportunity to serve my companion. And I got to watch Ephraim's Rescue. So that's a plus. haha. Sister Domingo is doing much better now. 

Wednesday and Thursday we had our much awaited, top-secret, Sisters' Conference at the GoDucate center in San Miguel, Iloilo. It was really fun. We did a bunch of indoor team-building and unity activities. My favorite parts were probably seeing Sister Marchant and Sister Viliami again (I miss them soooo much) and spending some time in the fish spa!!! In the states they charge big bucks for fish spas. There it was free. You just stick your feet in the pond and the fish eat the dead skin off your feet. It really tickles, but you have to hold still or the fish will swim away. haha. (It's More Fun in the Philippines!) We had a really nice devotional back at the mission office afterward, in which President Aquino told all of us sisters that we have no more than 5 years to find a Man of God and get married in the temple. Families are central to Heavenly Father's plan...and Satan is trying really hard to distract people from that in today's world. 

Sister Ribelin bought a set of Loom bands last P-day and we have all been getting into that this week. haha. I think it takes about a year for things to get popular here that were first popular in the states. Including music. 

When we got home on Thursday evening, we went out to teach, and after being punted from our plan A, the spirit led us to go back and teach Hernie and Chonna again. We haven't seen Hernie in a month because he is so busy with work. It was a cool feeling though, I think that is the strongest I have felt the spirit push me to go somewhere. We just started walking there, even though it was dark and we were far from our apartment, and it felt so right. I said a little prayer in my heart that Hernie would be there this time, even though we didn't have an appointment, and that we would still be able to catch a tricycle home afterward. Both prayers were answered. We had a good lesson with Hernie on the Plan of Salvation, and the best part was that he shared that he has prayed and knows that Joseph Smith is definitely a true prophet and the church has been restored. I am so excited for him. :) 

Our Antique District Conference was yesterday, and the most impressive part was when the leader asked Culasi group to raise their hands and see how many were in attendance.....there were at least 40 of them there, probably more. Culasi group just opened up in April, after being closed for a time after Typhoon Yolanda. There are 4 Elders up there now, and it is really thriving. They had to travel 3 hours just to get to San Jose for the Dist. Conference. FAITH!!! 

I am so grateful for my mission. 18 months sometimes seems long and sometimes seems short, but I know it is not enough to repay what my Savior has done for me. I love this gospel. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and for the wisdom the Lord will impart to us if we just take the time to seek Him. Palangga ta kamo!!! Halong! 

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. A great article I read this morning about how to reach out and SHARE the gospel...  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mission Miracles

My dearest Family, 

How are all of you doing? I hope you all survived your first week of school. :) Yay! We've had a very interesting week. Mostly good things, but a few sad ones too. Do you want the sad news or the good news first? 

The sad news.
There is a little boy in the branch named Axl Kin (or Kinkin is is nickname). He just turned 7 on August 21. He has been battling with Leukemia since January, and he passed away on Saturday morning. The Elders went to the hospital to give him one last blessing, and a few seconds after they removed their hands from Kinkin's head, he took his last breath. Heavenly Father has released him from his calling in this life. The family is doing well. Still smiling through it all. They have strong testimonies of the gospel, and I know Kinkin will be their motivation to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. We spent Saturday evening with the family. They live right next to our apartment, so we see them often. The doctors told them Kinkin wouldn't make it to his birthday, so they are just grateful he was given a little bit longer. I am grateful I got to meet him, and I know he is rejoicing right now to be free from pain. 

The good news. 
We haven't been able to teach Angelica for a few weeks. Which is killing me because she is so golden. Her father does not want her to be baptized. He is extra protective of Angelica because she is the youngest. I got to talk to Angelica's older sister, Jen, yesterday, and she told me that probably we will just have to wait a few months for the father to calm down, then we can teach her again, and they will just keep it on the downlow so the father doesn't get angry again. Angelica wants it so bad. Jen said Angelica treats her Aklat ni Mormon and scripture reading chart like a treasure and has been reading every day. I know it will all work out in the Lord's timing. 

A few weeks ago, Sister Viliami and I OYM'd a lady in a tricycle. Joy. She asked us when we could come visit, so we referred her to the STLs because she lives in their area...and she is doing really well. Joy came to church last week. It is so cool how just a little conversation can start the huge chain of events that lead to one soul's conversion to Jesus Christ. 

We were working with one of the Branch Missionaries, Kiko, the other day, when he oh-so-casually mentioned that one of his nonmember cousins has been coming to church for the last month. What? Sweet! We met Rene yesterday and taught him for the first time. We also taught Celyne. They've both been to church a bunch of times before. Rene is 16 and Celyne is 20. They already have good support because they live with an active family. Yay!!! They will be baptized October 4.

We were waiting at the barangay (neighborhood) hall the other night, and I asked Sister Domingo to OYM the Tanod (like a neighborhood watchman) while I texted around and tried to find someone to give a blessing to our sick less active. The Tanod, Brother Lozada, agreed to let us visit his family. He is the father of 5 daughters and a son, all now adults. We've met about half of the family, and they are so receptive. And the greatest tender mercy happened...we don't have any BOMs left in our apartment to give out...but Brother Lozada already has a triple combination he cleaned out of an old house! Sweet! His grandson destroys every book he finds, except the triple. He carries it around like his own personal treasure. I am excited to see them progress. 

Sister Domingo had a rough week. I think she is struggling with her desire. I keep trying to remember what it was like when I was only 6 months in the field. I still didn't understand back then what I was doing or why I came out. But somewhere between Jaro and Leganes, I lost myself. President Hinckley's father was absolutely right when he advised the young Elder Hinckley to, "Forget yourself and go to work." I know that is the only way to have true happiness as a missionary, no matter the visible results of the work you do. I know I won't get to see the end of a lot of the things I have done on my mission. This work is so much greater than any of us can imagine. Every little effort counts, and only Heavenly Father can see it all come together for the eternal good of His children. Matthew 10:39 says: He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Now, looking back, I believe that has happened for me. I just want to work! Having a day away from the people we are teaching kills me. Because I know just a little bit of good makes the difference. I want to help Sister Domingo get to that point. She's not quite there yet. But amat-amat she will be. :) 

I love you all so much. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Winward 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 40-day fast

Mayad na aga! Kumusta kamo tanan? I am excited for you all to start school in a bit. Have fun with your last days of summer! That means I have one school quarter left to be a full-time missionary. Don't any of you start counting down the days, I don't want to know! Shhh.
Some big happenings this last week. We had a great zone training meeting. My favorite part was an activity Elder Asi and Elder Alforque did about the Tree of Life in Lehi's dream. I'll have to explain that one later. We found a new investigator on Tuesday named Laarnie. She was previously taught as a child, and she pulled out an ancient 1980's copy of the Book of Mormon. We'll visit her again this week. I think this time in her life, she is ready. She has 3 kids and separated from her Muslim husband 1 year ago...but her family are all devoted Catholic. This will be interesting. :)
I think I mentioned about Merry Chris (member) before, she went back to work in Kuwait again. :( I'm not too happy about that. It has been hard to see her kids missing her so much. Her daughter, Kit, has been coming to church the last few weeks. We started teaching her, and she has a date, but the challenge will be making sure she has the support she will need to endure, because she is only 10 and the family is mostly less-active. She has some active neighbor kids she goes with, but no one's parents are active members in their whole compound. So that will be a challenge.
Elna was asked to speak in sacrament next week. Her topic is kind of deep...I'll be praying for her to learn and be able to be successful in giving her talk. Robelyn paid her tithing for the first time! She asked me how, and I was very happy to show her. That's the first time that has happened to me in the mission. I love our Recent Converts so much!
I have a new companion!! Sister Viliami was transferred to Leganes, Iloilo (the area I opened for sisters! yay!). My new kaimaw (companion) is Sister Domingo. She is from Nueva Ecija, on Luzon. She is really sweet and likes to giggle. She was baptized when she was 17. She tells everyone she is twins with some famous actress here named Catherine Bernardo. She is funny. She is the total opposite of Sister Viliami. It is kind of like being with my little sister or something. lol. This'll be fun.
Our 16-year-old investigator, wasn't able to come to church yesterday. Her father does not approve of her being baptized. We are not going to give up that easy. We saw Angelica yesterday, while we were walking near her house. She said maybe she won't be taught anymore. We encouraged her to not lose hope or faith, but that Heavenly Father really will help her to overcome this obstacle. We told her we loved her, and walked away. We stopped in at a member's house, which was all in God's timing, because Angelica came back and said, yes, okay Sisters, keep teaching me. She had tears in her eyes. I gave her a hug. We'll teach her tonight. I read in 1Nephi 4:1-3 last night, right before bedtime, and it hit me really hard. I know the Lord can overcome any obstacle. We just need to keep acting in faith. Don't Stop. Just believe it is possible.
Oh yeah, I spoke in sacrament yesterday, about Missionary Work. My talk was nothing remarkable, but at the very end, I felt so much the love Heavenly Father has for the people who were in the congregation. It was overwhelming. Robelyn gave the closing prayer, and did so well. :)
My companion  and I started doing something called the 40-day Fast on Saturday. It is based off a talk by Elder Gene R. Cook. It is basically to refine us so the spirit will be with us even more powerfully. Trying to be more obedient and consecrated in the work we are doing. It was Sister Domingo's idea. She's a genius.
I love you all so much. Have a great week. Be diligent and faithful always.
Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward
Philippines Iloilo Mission
May 2013 to November 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Robelyn is Baptized!

Dear Family, 

How are all of you? I am doing great! This was a crazy week. So much great stuff happened. :) Yay! 

We are still diligently reading the New Testament as a mission. I finally decided to stop being stubborn, and just read with the mission. As a matter of obedience. I'll just have to catch up the 130 pages I skipped later. haha. 

Sister Viliami was invited to attend MLC. We all think this means she will be called as an STL this week, but President is trying really hard to keep transfers a secret, so they said he was just acting weird about the "invited guests" the whole time. hahaha. I got to work in Oton--at it was a BLAST!!! Sister Nonu and I found Cloie and Christina V. when we were assigned in Oton, and last week I got to help teach Christina her first RC lesson, because they are both recent converts now! Yay! I also got to say "hello" to Gloria, the Pollan family, the Lim family, and ran into a few former investigators, like Melan, in the market as well. It was so cool to be back there and have all my memories of Oton come flooding back. And to see that even though the work was challenging, and I didn't see many fruits at the time, but I was able to help make a difference. Sister Viliami had a great time at MLC, she learned a lot, and has shared most of it with me during our companionship studies and inventory this week, so I kind of feel like I attended too. Two places at once, haha. She said she knows MLC molded me into the missionary I am today, and she said she bragged about me to the other sisters, and told them they should all get a chance to be my companion. WHAT?! That was a great compliment. She is not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of person, unlike my cheesy self, so it felt really good to have her appreciation like that. She is an awesome companion, and I know that wherever she goes this week, she will be able to make a huge positive impact in the work. 

Robelyn had a good baptism. She was so excited, she came way early. Her smile was huge. She was confirmed yesterday, and promised that her family will join her one day, including her husband. Her 8-year-old daughter, "Bonie," is solid and we will start teaching her next. The father says that as long as it is really her choice, it is okay with him. He doesn't want them to change their decision when they are older. 

So, once upon a time, we taught this guy named "Bombe" who had a lung sickness. And then on Aug 1 he died. Oh. We've visited his widow a few times, right now they are still doing the viewing at their house. Robelyn and we want to go sing a song for them, and then when things have settled down for them a bit, we plan on teaching her about the Plan of Salvation. :) By the way, his widow has 9 kids, and Bombe died on one of their birthdays. 

We have not been able to teach Jay for like a month because he is so busy all the time, but Jen also referred us to her sister, Angelica. She is way sweet. She is 16 and asked Jen if we could teach her. Sister Viliami said she is pretty sure it is just because Angelica thinks we are cool, but she is willing to keep commitments, agreed to be baptized on Sept. 13. We've only taught her once so far, so obviously, her testimony can only grow from here. :) We had Jolina G. (A returned LA) join us for her lesson. Jolina is a miracle herself. Her family was so, just, down, for so long. Whenever we visited them, they just complain and look miserable. But they returned to church, and Jolina is now active in seminary and wants to serve a mission. Just seeing them smile all the time is awesome. We visited her mother, Mary Ann, and she told us that Jolina is the light of their home. She sits out in the yard and reads the BOM all the time. She's only 14, but she is a shining example to her family. Wow! 

Yesterday, we ate SO. MUCH. FOOD. We were all certain we were going to explode. haha. We had another "cottage meeting" at the Sessions' with the Branch and District leadership. We discussed getting callings for the RCs and returning LAs, and many other things. The work is going well. We can never stop improving. :) Before that, we had an FHE at the Villavert's home. We invited Elna and her family. The Villaverts particularly invited her husband, Robert, by visiting him at work last week. Elna told us he wasn't going to come, but then, SURPRISE, he did. He was really shy because there were a lot of people, but I think he had fun. Elna texted us afterward and was so happy. I hope Robert will see her happiness and learn for himself the true joy the gospel will bring into his life. 

One thing I have been learning, is the power of specific prayer. Heavenly Father will grant our righteous desires. We need to trust in His will always. But He definitely trusts us to make wise decisions as we study the gospel. Elder Sessions told us, "The Lord loves a decision maker." Sister Viliami has shared two experiences that illustrate how specific prayers really work. Back in April, when Sister Nonu was her companion, they got way punted one day. So they prayed and told Heavenly Father that they were going to a specific place in 5 minutes, and to please put someone prepared in their path that they could teach. And that is how they found Elna. A funny example is that one night Sister Viliami decided she wanted to wake up a little early so she could do her laundry, but she didn't want to set an alarm, because she didn't want to wake me up. So she prayed and asked Heavenly Father to wake her up at 5:00 am. While she was sleeping, she smacked her head on the wall, looked at the clock, and low-and-behold, it was 5:00 am sharp. :) haha. Heavenly Father will answer prayers, and He also has a good sense of humor. 

I love the mission. It is the greatest experience in the world! I hope you all have a great week. Pray specifically for the things you need in your lives, and Heavenly Father will make His plan known. I love you all. 

Love, Sister Winward

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Dear Family,
Kumusta kamo? I hope everyone is having a great week and looking forward to Pioneer Day! Also, it is Alex's birthday on Wednesday, don't any of you forget! ;) This was an interesting week. All kinds of roller-coaster ups and downs resolving concerns, but in the end, it is all going smoothly. I am so thankful for the testimonies our investigators are cultivating with the power of the Holy Ghost.
Once upon a time, Elder Ortiz told us that Josie's daughter told him that Josie is not married. I dunno if I mentioned that one last week. But we asked her about it on Sunday, and she said that, yes, they are. So we thought that concern was not a concern at all. Sister Viliami didn't really believe her though, and we wanted to investigate further, without hurting Josie's feelings (we DON'T want to make to mistake of having her baptized if she's not married yet, obviously), and Heavenly Father gave us a tender mercy. We were walking on our way to teach Robilyn, when we saw Josie's husband, Jun. We said "hello" and kept walking, then were like "duh" why don't we just ask him if they are married. He very confidently said nope, they are not. They're too poor. So that's that. We went to Josie's later that day, and before we walked up we made a little game plan and prayed for the Spirit to guide our words so we can help Josie understand. The thing about Josie is she is really childlike. She really is progressing very well, but it isn't really out of a testimony of the gospel yet. Right now she's one of those, what you call, "missionary converts." We need people converted to Christ and His gospel, not to missionaries who became their best friends. We kind of suspect that she bends the truth sometimes so she can have our love and praise. So we had to explain that to her--we'll love her no matter what, but she's gotta work out her marriage. She got right on her homework to get it worked out. She and her husband are going to borrow money from her brother for the papers. We'll keep working on her testimony, then she will be ready for baptism with an enduring conversion. August 30!
Elna is doing great. We finished up all the lessons with her and she passed her Baptismal Interview (of course). Elder Gan, our district leader, said he felt like he was the one being taught. As her baptism is growing closer, she is definitely experiencing some adversity. Her husband was fine with her being baptized up until about a week ago. Now he is all annoyed. Probably because we have been over at their house like every day for daily contact with Elna, and to finish up her lessons. He won't come in the house if we are there. Elna told us he just needs some time to cool off. Satan is getting inside his head. She has such great faith. She knows this too shall pass, and one day, even if it takes years, Brother Robert will be converted to the true gospel of Jesus Christ as well. The branch members are so supportive of her. They are excited. July 26!
Robilyn is also doing so great. This week has been hard for her because of her reactions to quitting coffee. She wishes we could move her baptismal date sooner. But she came to all 3 hours of church yesterday, and was feeling fine. She opened up to us about her family background the other night. She has a lot of heart ache. But she is being healed by our Heavenly Father's love. I am so proud of her. August 9!
Some good news about all the many marriages: President Villavert and President Gindap should be receiving their Licenses to Marry by mid-August. Woohoo! Free wedding ceremonies!
We found Margie, Rogie, and Andrea a few weeks ago. They came to church for the third time yesterday. Rogie shared with us that every since he started reading the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon, he is addicted. He can't get enough. Now we just need that to rub off on Margie, because she never ever reads anything. She is a social butterfly...which kind of gets in the way with her progress a little bit. haha. Rogie really likes the priesthood. We've had to explain that it ain't so easy to just get the priesthood. They've got some LOC to work out, so he was really bummed when we explained that Andrea will have to go first for baptism. Margie and he are gonna have a complicated time, but they will hopefully get married at some point in the near future. Or something... Oh boy. haha.
On Friday, we had interviews with President Aquino. He is always encouraging us to be Excellent, Rock Missionaries. He is a very humble and wise leader. I am glad he is leading this mission to achieve great things. It is great to be a missionary in the Philippines Iloilo Mission! ILOveILOve!
Fire and Water.......On Saturday, it was so crazy... we were at Gaisano in the morning to buy ingredients for the apple crisp we made for our 4th meeting at the Sessions last night. The store wouldn't open for about 45 minutes, so we had to wait. We were sitting on a planter OYMing a lady, when all of a sudden we heard a series of loud electric noises, and a huge fire started on the electric wires not so far from us. Every one ran out of the building screaming, so terrified. Sister Viliami and I just walked away with the lady. It reminded me a lot of the Mormon Message "Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them." ( ) We knew we'd be fine, but everyone else was so scared. We were safe, and the firefighters came quickly. None of the mall burned, just a tree nearby. (Don't worry, Mom.) The good thing is...we got to OYM a bunch of ladies and testify of the Plan of Salvation afterward. :) Yes! 
As for the Water part, we drink our purified water out of these heavy blue jugs (like 5 gallon size maybe). When we got home from work on Saturday night, one of them had broken open, and there was water spilled all over the kitchen. haha. Mission life is full of surprises.
Like I mentioned, we had another meeting at the Sessions' last night. We invited some of the leaders of San Jose, I was so proud of President Gindap. He shared that in all his years of being a member, the first time he ever visited someone else was when the STLs took him to visit a less active family not too long ago. We are continuing to help the leaders here learn how to minister to the people in their stewardship. Some people get sick of having missionaries come to visit. But the power of a member, or even better the Bishop or another leader themselves visiting, is incomparable. They don't even have to say much...just the fact that a leader took the time to pay a visit can make all the difference. That is what made the difference for Elder Sessions when he was inactive. And that is why so many less actives are coming back now. This is only the beginning! I love working with the leaders here.
Well, time's up. I love you all and I hope you all have a great day. Never forget to ask Heavenly Father what He would have you do to help another today. Charity is really a powerful tool in opening hearts to the gospel and in healing broken relationships. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The windows of heaven have been opened

Dear Family,
Kumusta kamo? I am excited to share with you another fantastic week here in San Jose, Antique! The Lord has definitely opened the windows of heaven, and we are just trying to find enough room to receive it all. Our planners are so puno (full), it is testing our scheduling skills. But we are following Him, and going where He needs us most. I am so excited every day. I am so proud of our investigators and their commitment to follow our Savior, even when it requires endurance and repentance.
Elna is still doing great. She was excited to announce in Gospel Principles yesterday that her baptism will be July 26. She is so ready and willing to receive a calling. She was reading about pioneers in the July 2013 Liahona we gave her, and she was so impressed by their sacrifices. She came with us to teach WOW to Robilyn on Saturday night, and she loved that missionary moment. Her Baptismal Interview will be this Saturday. We get to visit her every single day just to finish up the lessons. (The First Presidency has instructed that we now have to teach all 5 lessons before the baptismal interview.) She is so excited about the gospel. She is a changed woman. By the way, it is her birthday tomorrow. :)
On Tuesday, Sister Viliami and I went to the Municipal Hall to inquire about the requirements for marriage, because we really are going to have to take our couples' hands and walk them through the process. I think they all kind of have a fear that it is very costly and very complicated. But in bite-size steps, it is really not so bad. The worst part will probably be waiting for paperwork to process. But we figured out the requirements and have been helping our couples understand it all. And now Hernie, Resfe ann, and Myra all have Baptismal Goal Dates for August 30, and they are working on saving their money for the marriage papers, about 20 pisos a day. Plus President Gindap (Branch Pres.) and President Villavert (District Pres.) are on board and getting to work figuring it all out too. Plus we have visited a few members who have friends and relatives in high places, so we have some connections now for lowering the cost of some of the papers. Woohoo! Miracle!
Once upon a time, this fabulous YSA named Jen gave us a referral. (Yay! a referral!) We have been waiting on her to come contact her friend with us, and we finally got to meet Jay Adrian on Wednesday. He is one of her classmates from high school. And he is so amazing. We just taught him about our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and Prayer. He is kind of shy. He is really good at English. Likes to read. Is a working student. He is 24. He shared with us that he has not prayed in a very long time, and not usually from the heart, but he does want a relationship with God. He asked us when we were coming back, and if he could come to church before we ever mentioned it. At the end of the lesson, we asked him to offer the closing prayer. He said it was the first time he every prayed out loud. It was the most sincere prayer I have heard anyone give. He simply told Heavenly Father that he is sorry that he hasn't talked to him in a long time, he wants to repent, and he wants to become close to Him. It was simple. It was heartfelt. The Spirit was so strong. He felt so happy afterward. Jen was moved to tears. He came to church yesterday and enjoyed it. I am so excited to share with him again today.
Sister Robilyn has been doing great. Since she went to church a week ago, she has seen the windows of heaven open up to her. She does manicure/pedicures for 100 pisos out of her home, and she had way more customers this week than usual. Her mother's one year death anniversary was on Friday, and we were able to teach her about the last part of the Plan of Salvation ("Where do we go after this life?") and about Temples and Family History on Thursday. We taught her about the Spirit world, shared with her about how she will be able to help her mother receive the gospel by doing her temple work. She asked a question about whether her mother's spirit was able to come be with her, because she was pretty sure she felt her nearby sometimes. I told her that honestly, I don't know everything about how the Spirit world works. But I shared with her what Elder Russell M. Nelson told us when he spoke in the MTC--that the ancestors of those we teach are preparing them and leading us to them. The Spirit was so strong. I told her that I am pretty sure her mother has played a role in us finding and teaching her. It definitely wasn't a coincidence. And you know what, I am pretty sure her mother was there listening to the whole lesson. It was amazing. The work really is hastening--on both sides of the veil. Sister Robilyn is so motivated to prepare herself for baptism. She is excited to help her mother receive the gospel as well. When we taught her about the Word of Wisdom on Saturday night, we told her she had options for quitting her coffee drinking (she has about 1 cup a day). She can quit drinking coffee gradually, and move back her baptismal date (it is a requirement that they have abstained for 4 weeks before their baptism). Or she can quit immediately and still get baptized onAugust 9. She chose immediately. Man, she has faith. We explained about priesthood blessings, and said she could receive one to help her as she quits. She didn't drink any yesterday. And then during Sunday School she got a really bad migraine. She had to go throw up in the CR (comfort room aka bathroom). She got a blessing from the Elders, then went home with her kids before Relief Society. We have been praying for her and dropped by yesterday to give her some Milo (chocolate drink) and see how she was, but she was sleeping it off. I hope she is doing okay. She is so strong. I know she'll make it.
Teaching Margie and Rogie and Andrea the Law of Chastity was fun. I'll have to just share that one with you all in a few months. haha. I love you all. I know that this gospel changes hearts, lives, and our eternity. Keep the commandments. I dare you. The windows of heaven will open! I hope you all have a great week.

Love, Sister Winward