Monday, March 24, 2014

Revelation through Exchanges

Dear Family, 

How are you all doing? So summer is here, and lately it has been super hot all the time. But then yesterday it was raining really hard because there is a bagio (tropical storm) in Mindanao (the really big southern island). My payong (umbrella) is my best accessory. 

Yesterday, we taught a nun. That was interesting. She told us she served in Rome for 9 years and she has been serving in Venezuela for 19 years. She is fluent in Spanish and Italian. She was home for a little bit to visit her family. She told us to keep it short because she had laundry to do...then later Sister Marchant and I realized the nun was breaking the sabbath by doing her laundry on Sunday. (hand wash laundry really is a Saturday kind of chore) haha. Silly nun. Sister Marchant thought it was funny because the nun was really uncomfortable the whole time. Probably deep down, she knows we're right. I wonder if Jessica ever got to teach a nun in Rome?

This has been a great week. Things are really improving from a few weeks ago. I got to go on exchanges with Sister Ribelin in Pavia. Sister Roxy Ribelin is awesome. She is from Arizona. She and I are planning some roadtrips for when we are home. haha. It'll be fun. She is a great missionary. She talks to everyone. As in. EVERYONE. In our mission we keep track of our OYMs (Open your mouth/offer your message). The standard of excellence goal is 60 people for a week. I think the day I was with Sister Ribelin we talked to 25+ new people. She motivated Sister Marchant and I to kick our OYMs up a notch we got 81 (We hadn't ever even made the 60 before this week.)...which led to some good finding and some new investigators! Yeah! Finding! 

We also went on exchanges with one of the traveling APs. Elder Rutherford came with Sister Marchant and I on Thursday. We also had another great finding day. We ended up teaching this former investigator family which lives very near one of the only member families in our area, and two of them attended a baptism with us later that day. That was a cool experience. We also taught the Sase's, a less active family, and they are progressing! They weren't really reading scriptures and they were having some marriage and health struggles, but they are being taught by us and by the Elders in Molo when they visit their family there, so between the two, they were finally able to return to church yesterday. Brother Sase gave the closing prayer in Sacrament meeting. :) Also, it was so awesome to have a priesthood holder with us! Leoandra's 2 y/o son, Eric, was very sick. He looked miserable and his eyes were all goobery. So, Elder Rutherford said we should teach her about priesthood blessings. So, we did, and like everything else, Leoandra had so much faith. We asked her if she believe in priesthood power, and she basically said, Of course! Jesus blessed sick people in the Book of Mormon, didn't he? If Eric gets a blessing he will get better. There was no doubt at all. And then two days later, Eric was all better! yay! 

Leoandra is still being a super awesome missionary. She, Crissa, Eric, Melanie (her cousin we started teaching last week), and Manilyn (her sister-in-law we also started teaching last week) all came to church. Yay! Melanie and Manilyn are very interested and receptive. They are willing to be baptized, they just wanted to go to church and pray about it first, so hopefully they will set a goal date this week. :) Progress! 

Also, for a cherry on top. Yesterday, Rose, Mickey the returned less-active's girlfriend, accepted a date to be baptized on April 26. She has opened up so much in the last few months. I am so excited for her! Mickey has already shared about Word of Wisdom with her, so she won't have any of those problems holding her back. We've just got to get the LOC sorted out... fun times. *Wedding bells* :) 

So, personally, between the two exchanges and a heart-to-heart during companionship inventory, I feel so much more full of light and the Spirit this week. I learned so much, and my personal study of The Restoration lesson and The Old Testament has been deepening my understanding so much. I never used to have questions about the gospel before. Like, when people would say that it is best to listen to General Conference with questions in mind, I just never had any questions. I used to accept everything at face value and call it good. I never understood how Sister Foster could get at the gospel so deeply back in our MTC days. Simple was just good enough for me. And it still is (There is tremendous value in the simplicity of the gospel)...but now that I AM feasting on the words of Christ, there is so much more I want to know. I actually have questions, and I am finding answers, of how the doctrines of the gospel all really work. I learned a lot about the apostasy and about revelation's role in the true church this week. It is so cool! I love the scriptures. I like this verse--Luke 5:4--It tells us to "launch out into the deep"--like, a deeper knowledge and understanding of the gospel. I feel like I am getting the hang of it now. The gospel of Jesus Christ IS simple--and there is so much to it! There really is more to the gospel and to God's plan than I ever realized before. It fills me with awe...and love for my Heavenly Father and for His Son, Jesus Christ. 

I love you all so much! I hope you all remember that our Heavenly Father loves you so much! He is your number one fan! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, March 17, 2014


Dear Family, 

How are all of you doing? I am doing better. I hope you all have a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

 I want to tell you all about Leoandra and her family and how awesome and funny they all are. Leoandra has 6 kids. Melvin, Jun Leo, and Cassandra all asked for a Libro ni Mormon and are diligently reading it. I am so proud of them. Melvin never used to listen. But a few weeks ago we had a really awkward lesson with him, and two other 11 year old boys (the Grandma kind of made them listen to us because it was "good for them," but she herself didn't really pay attention). But then after that, Melvin has joined all of our lessons with Leoandra. He has a really high voice and it is so cute to hear him shout "Sisters!" from down the sidewalk. Jun Leo is my best friend. Last week he caught a giant beetle and named it Bunganga. It was huge! Like the beetle on Bug's Life, but black. He tied a string leash on it and then it was flying around on a leash. He helped me and Sister Marchant not be scared of it. We were teaching a lesson, and Jun Leo kept making us pet it so we would lose our fear of it. It was still gross. Then he would let it fly right by heads so we could feel the breeze its wings made. haha. Cassandra and I have an interesting relationship. Her friendship is very conditional. She always writes me a little note asking if I brought her some food. Usually I forget, and then she writes "Indi ta ka mega" (you're not my friend) and glares at me the rest of the time. I have given her a bunch of the stuff Grandma Allred sent for valentine's, and a book of mormon, and I let her borrow my crayons for a few days, but alas, she still does not like me very much. haha. Crissa Joy is 4 and loves to dance to Gangnam style and Hoops-skiddy-hoops. Eric is 2 and tiny and cute. He is a happy little guy. 

We met Leoandra's husband again finally! But we didn't get to teach him. I think he had work off because of the fiesta in Balantang (part of our area). He cooked us lunch on Saturday. It was tasty. Leoandra is an awesome missionary already. A bunch of her family was over at her house for the fiesta this week, and she introduced us to her cousin and her sister-in-law, so we got to teach them. And Leoandra was sharing about the Book of Mormon to them and sharing her testimony. She is awesome! We are planning on visiting those relatives again this week at their own homes. 

It was another kind of tough week. But faith has to precede miracles. I am working on Patience for a Christlike Attribute...because I need it. So I've been reading a verse each day from the Preach My Gospel section on Patience. Alma 31:31 was yesterday. I really liked it.

I am looking forward to April for baptisms and for a lot of Member Present lessons, because school will be out for summer vacation and we're gonna get EVERYONE to work with us. :) 

Also, the Daquero family is still doing fabulous. They fed us chicken and rice last night. They are the best! 

Love you all. Have a great week! 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, March 10, 2014

"We'll Bring the World His Truth"

Dear Family, 

How are all of you? I am doing great. I hope none of you have jet lag from daylight savings time. Joke-lang. This week hasn't been a picnic. No week ever is. But I am learning to rely on the Atonement more than ever before. Because this work is hard. Hard is like a swear word in our mission. Nothing is hard--only challenging. It's true though, and I was well warned before my mission, but this ain't easy. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But it is worth it. Even if I never see the fruits, it will still be worth it, because it is the truth. And not only that. It is the truth of our Savior. And I know that through all the good days and through all the hard days, He knows just how I, Sister Winward, feel as I do His work. He stands with us. In Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's words: "Salvation is not a cheap experience." 

"The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carrthe investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and bgrateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, theTruth, and the Life."

Sister Marchant and I just had a frustrating experience yesterday, after a lesson that didn't turn out that great and a Sunday when no investigators showed up for Sacrament meeting, and it finally hit me everything that I gave up to be here. Until now it hasn't felt like that much of a sacrifice. It is the first time I have ever just asked WHY? Why is this so hard? Why on earth did I give up my family and friends and job and college and America and everything else for 18 months to do this? Because it is true. I know it is. And then I think how my sacrifice is nothing compared to the Savior's great atoning sacrifice. I am so grateful for the knowledge of I have of His truth. I know He lives. I know He loves us. I know He loves the people I share the gospel with every day. And I know it hurts Him every time they say no or make up a worthless excuse or choose to continue on the wrong path. It hurts Him so much more than it hurts me. 

Aunt Nancy Jensen sent me a letter that Dad's cousin Lance Jensen wrote back when he was serving in the Bible Belt. He had come to two possible reasons why anyone would ever choose to serve a mission. The first, missionaries are paid a 6-figure salary for the work they do. The second, what we share is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is true and it is worth it. Well, we all know the first option is false. That is definitely not happening. So it must be the second reason. Thank you Aunt Nancy, Lance is helping me from beyond the veil. 

I want to share something I learned from stake conference a few weeks back. This is what "Hastening the Work of Salvation" means to me: The Lord is simply asking us to widen our circle of friends and acquaintances and to share with them the greatest thing in our lives--the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It really isn't that complicated. Make a friend and share with them. We've been learning this since preschool. Fear is from Satan. Punch him in the face. Act on your faith in Christ by sharing the gospel with others. Bear your testimony. Give them a Book of Mormon. Introduce them to the Missionaries. 

Now that I have thoroughly scared all of you into thinking that the Philippines is a terribly hard place to serve, let me share a neat little tender mercy that happened this week. I know Heavenly Father had His hand in this. Last P-day we went to Lapaz, which is in another zone, to go to a cool little bambook craft shop and to browse around Gaisano Mall. We decided to eat at Greenwich for lunch. Halfway through our meal, a lady at the table by ours comes over and says that she is a member that has just moved to Jaro from Bacolod and she and her family have been looking for the church, but have no idea where to go or what ward they are in. We told her she lives in the Jaro 1st boundaries. And she was so grateful that she got to meet us. This is another area, another zone, we've never ever been there before. But He put us just where He needed us to help her. And thenon Sunday, she and her family came to church and sat right in front of us. Yay! Tender Mercy for sure. 

Hey, Guess what! Our mission has a goal to get 100 baptisms in the month of April. I think the highest this mission has reached so far is around 80. Pray that we can reach it! And Jaro 1B will be contributing to that number...because Angela and Leoandra will break the streak! 

I love you all so much. Don't worry about me. I am doing great. Never better! Always remember Him. 

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Ups and Downs

Dear Family, 

How are all of you this week? I am doing great. This week was great, but also had a few heartbreakers. But that is mission life. 

First of all, guess what is sooo AWESOME? Last Thursday was transfer day, and Sister Marchant and I both stayed! We were expecting Sister Marchant to transfer since she has been here for 4 months already. But she didn't. Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!! What's weird though is that Sister Rappleye transferred right in the middle of training Sister Daroy. Sister Rappleye is in Antique now. And she's an STL so I get to see her at MLC this week. :) But, guess who is Sister Daroy's follow-up trainer?!  My nanay! (mother)  Sister Mendez is in Jaro with us! It is funny to be with her again...and super backwards because I am her STL now. What?! It is going to be another fun transfer! I am sooo grateful to be with Sister Marchant still. She is such an excellent missionary, and we complement each other pretty well I think. Plus, no one else would laugh at my jokes probably. haha. So, here we are, still two gwapa American girls just trying to preach the gospel and avoid creepy men one day at a time. Ain't nothing betta!  :) 

Oh! Before I forget. Betty Jo asked a question in her last card. (P.S. Thanks for the mail know who you are! Salamat gid! Sorry I'm not so good at writing back these days.) She asked what the predominant religions are in the Philippines, like who are we usually teaching. Most people claim Catholicism. By my estimate only about 1/3 or less actually attend Catholic mass every Sunday. There are also a lot of Baptists...we cross paths with their missionaries almost every day. There are Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, and a smattering of random other churches which usually fall under the category of Catholic or Baptist. But, there is only ONE true church. That is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that is true with my whole might, mind, heart, and strength. And when people come to know that for themselves, they will be changed forever! 

Another highlight of the week was in reading the Old Testament. I'm pretty sure it should be rated R... But I also got to read the story of Ruth and Naomi and about David and Goliath (and about Saul, that guy is the definition of a "palagpat"). I listed out the characteristics of Ruth while I was studying, and she is awesome. I'm pretty sure I just want to be her when I grow up. She is selfless, kind, obedient, virtuous, humble, loyal, converted to the Lord, and she serves others. Go Ruth! I've had to learn how to study more quickly, but in doing that, my learning has definitely been kicked up like 10 notches. I am learning new things all the time about the gospel, especially as we are teaching, more ideas are connecting and we are refining how we teach as we follow the spirit and help others to feel it too. The plan of our Heavenly Father is the greatest! Also, I am learning that basically nothing in pop culture is original. It all started in the Bible. ;) 

Here are a few funnies: In our lesson with Cesar and Annabel yesterday,  Annabel asked us some way good questions which we were happy to help her understand. She is reading the BoM and doing well. :) And Cesar made some ridiculous comments, which even he knew were way out of the ballpark. 
Halimbawa (Example):

#1 Cesar: "Where was Jesus born?" 
Us: "Bethlehem/Jerusalem" 
Cesar: "Ha! Muslims are in Jerusalem so that means they have the priesthood too!" (mind you, Cesar is Catholic)
#2 Us: "Why don't you go to church?" 
Cesar: "I just pray, so I'm fine. Joseph Smith prayed in a tree, not in a church, so that means I don't have to go to church." 
Oh geez, come on, Brother Cesar! Lol. 

Well, a downer this week was that we discovered that Cheryan has been hiding from us. We have been "tagbalay"-ing her house for the last couple weeks but we haven't seen her since February 10 when we did and FHE with her. Now I know, her children have been lying to us telling us she is gone or out of town or whatever. But then Saturday night we went to try again, and we heard her yelling inside the house, but then we tagbalay-ed and she stopped yelling and her kids came out and said their parents were in Lambunao (which is like 2 hours north). Okay...sure...... But later that night we saw them. Her little 3-year-old yelled "Sisters!" and so we turned and said "hi," and low-and-behold Cheryan was standing right there, and then she scolded her kid for calling attention to them. Grrrrr....Satan is working really hard. But we will work harder! I noticed though that there really is a direct connection between the Book of Mormon and conversion. After Cheryan read a bajillion pages that one week, she didn't really keep reading after that. Sister Marchant and I are heartbroken over it. :( 

As for Leoandra, there is mostly good with a little bad news. She has been progressing so much this week! She couldn't come to church yesterday because her husband wouldn't let her. :( But, we are praying to be able to teach her husband. He is just never at their house. She was texting us last night though and she said even though she couldn't come to church, she read from the Libro ni Mormon. She is so diligent in her reading. We decided to teach her the Restoration lesson again, just a principle at a time, because she needs to understand that this is the ONLY true church. She can't keep one toe in the Catholic church. And it is awesome to see her understand the doctrine and make more sense of it. This week I have seen her become so much more converted to the gospel, and she even came and joined Jenny's lesson on Thursday and explained to Jenny that she needs to be baptized too. We are going to do FHE with them tonight. We cut out a bunch of paper dolls this morning as an activity for her kids. Please, please, please let her husband be there this time! 

We had a cool lesson with the Daquero's last Wednesday. At the end, we invited each of them to bear their testimonies one by one. The Spirit was very strong, and it was a witness to me of how important it is for family members to bear their testimonies to each other. Parents to their children, children to their parents. Sharing our testimonies in the home will prepare us to share our testimonies with others out of the home as we strive to do our part in hastening the work of salvation. FHE idea, anyone? :) (Followed by cupcakes, syempre.)

I hope you all know that I love you sooo much! I am thankful for your prayers and your love and for your emails. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. The more I learn about it and share it with others, the more I know that it is true. Line upon line, precept upon precept, every day I know more and more that Christ is our Savior and His gospel is what everyone needs for happiness in this life and throughout eternity. Halong! 

Love, Sister Winward