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."
Sister Marchant and I just had a frustrating experience yesterday, after a lesson that didn't turn out that great and awhen 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 then, 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