Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Love Leganes!

Dear Family, 

How are you all? I hope you all had a great Easter! We are so blessed to have a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son to atone for us. And we are so blessed to know that His Divine Son was resurrected and lives again. He lives! So, I'm sure you're all wondering how people celebrate Easter over here. Honestly, it wasn't a very big deal. There are some weird, sacrilegious traditions. The Ward went on a beach outing in Dumangas on Good Friday, and we were able to attend. It was fun! Some of our investigators also came.  

Remember how Jaro was a rather challenging area for me? Well, the Lord definitely rewards our patience and faith... because Leganes Ward is AWESOME! We are working with a couple of member referrals, the Ward Missionaries love to come work with us, we had a great correlation yesterday. I am really excited about this area. Church was really great yesterday. I was really impressed at how organized the ward is. It has the best attendance so far of the units I have worked in. The members are very humble and faithful and they are united by their love for the Savior. I am trying to learn all the faces and names fast enough. 

Some of our investigators are Johnmar, Jeferson, and Elvie. Johnmar is 18 and a referral of a recent convert. We have taught him twice so far, and he is very interested and wants to be baptized. He has the support of his family, though they are not interested at this time. He is really close friends with Renren, the recent convert, who has a really strong testimony. Johnmar is kind of shy, but I know that as we build his faith, the gospel will help him have courage. Jeferson is 18 and Elvie is 23, they are siblings. Elvie has been taught for a while now, Jeferson just started listening, but he attended General Conference with Mareta (one of the YSA). Whenever we try to extend commitments to Elvie, she always says, "Well, I can't promise..." She is afraid to commit because she is afraid of not following through. But she and Jeferson did come to church yesterday, despite her not "promising." Yay! :) They live in the same boarding house with Mareta. They are so cool! They have great questions. Jeferson and Johnmar are definitely future missionaries. For sure! 

So, you know the Lost Boys of Neverland, in Peter Pan? They really exist! I'm pretty sure I found them in Leganes. Yesterday, we visited with the RS President to confirm the FHE we have planned for tonight, and we learned that all the ruffian boys that were running around in her front yard/driveway area aren't related to her, they are just random street urchins who heard they would get food and a safe place to sleep there. Her brother uses his own money made from the family junk shop to help out the 8 boys (ranging in age from 7 to 17). She told us how boys just started showing up about 15 years ago when they moved into that house. Her brother built them a little bamboo-and-tin loft where they can sleep, and they just live off of the extra food and kindness of their family. It was so ridiculous and so sad and so heartwarming all at the same time. The boys are not orphans, their families just don't take care of them. She said that her niece didn't want to play with one of the boys, Fritz (7), because he smelled bad, so the RS President took him over to the bomba (water pump well) and tried to bathe him...she said it was like trying to bathe a cat. Fritz was afraid of water. She makes sure they have clean clothes to wear, even if they can only find a set of old pajamas. We invited the Lost Boys to our FHE tonight. Hopefully they won't hide from us, and hopefully we can share the gospel with them so they can have happiness and direction in their lives. 

This week in my study of Job and the Psalms, I learned that the Lord wants us to seek wisdom before we seek wealth. Wisdom cannot be bought. Information is different than knowledge. There is a lot of information available in the world today, but only knowledge understood and applied can help us to become like our Savior. Heavenly Father wants His children to learn spiritual and secular things. And like it says in Moroni 10:5, the Spirit is our guide as we seek for truth and wisdom. We do this as we study and ponder His words daily. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and truly is our Heavenly Father's kingdom on the earth. As we "immerse ourselves in His kingdom" we will feel His love surround us, and we will gain eternal wisdom daily. We are so blessed to be members of the true church. I love you all! Halong! 

Love, Sister Winward

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Dear Family, 

Maayong aga!!! Kumusta kamo? Salamat for the emails and Easter wishes. Happy Easter to all of you! Maybe I'll tell you about some of the ... interesting... Katholiko traditions next week. So, let's get down to business, this has been THE Craziest week of my life. And not really at the same time. haha. 

So, on Tuesday, President Aquino joined us for our district meeting. After announcements were read, he stood up and told us that the STLs and the DL were going to trade areas. WHAAAT???!!!! SURPRISE! Because the jeepney fare costs about the same, we still live in the Jaro 1 apartment, but now I am assigned to Leganes B (pronounces Leg-UH-neez). And our District Leader, Elder Asuro, took over our area, but still lives in Leganes. We've had a few days to tour each other around and make sure we each know where the Less Actives and Members and Progressing Investigators live, but other than that we are basically "whitewashing" (or starting from scratch with just the basic knowledge of the area that is contained in the Area Book). 

So then...President interviewed a bunch of people because he was still finalizing transfers. We asked him if one of us would still be transferred, and he only said that we should be ready for anything. I think he likes to put us all on edge for transfers. haha. We were expecting Sister Marchant to transfer, because she has already been in Jaro for 6 months. But then, on Wednesday night her name was not in the transfer text and the ZL, Elder Asi, told us that she wasn't going to transfer. So we were so excited! 6 months together! What a blessing! Yay! So she unpacked.

At precisely 8:36 am on Thursday morning, in the middle of our Personal Study, Sister Ribelin called us from Arevalo and said that, gali!, Sister Marchant's name was down for transfers after all. Whoa. Then we frantically began to pack her bags. Then the AP South called. Then the AP North called. Then the ZL called. Then the DL texted. All informing her that, yes, she was transferring after all and she needed to be there in one hour. (It takes an hour by jeep to get to Arevalo...). AAAhhhhhh. Just imagine our anxiety. haha. We packed her up in about 25 minutes flat, grabbed a taxi, and rolled into the Arevalo Meetinghouse parking lot at about 9:39 am. Taadaaaa! hahaha. 

So, I have a new area and a new ward and a new companion, and the same old apartment. (Which is actually pretty new, I'm glad I still get to live there.) My companion is Sister Irene Vinus Aurelio. Sister Aurelio is from Los Pinyas, close to Manila. She actually is Sister Marchant's trainer. She is a teeny little Filipina Sister, about 5 feet tall, and she is 26 years old. She is the 5th of 7 girls. Her mother converted to the church after her father died. She is soooo sweet and soooo cute. I love her to death! She sings a lot (just like Sister Marchant), and she is always smiling. She likes to braid my hair and she has a lot of questions about English and about America. I am helping her with English, she is helping me with Tagalog, and we are both helping each other with Hiligaynon. I am glad my area is Hiligaynon again! Yay! (The other dialects in our mission are Kiray-a, Aklanon, and Capiznon. Everyone knows Tagalog/Filipino.)

Touring the Elders around our area this week has been fun. Elder Asuro and Elder Walmer are assigned to Jaro 1B now. I have already seen miracles happen for them. A bunch of LAs that would not let us in have already let them in. Yay! I had been thinking a few months back that our ward would really do well if it had some Elders for priesthood support. Rumor has it that there has been a lot of drama back home about women and the priesthood. I know that both men and women have important roles in and valuable contributions to the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. Equality is not being the SAME. It is when both men and women are given equal opportunities to exercise their unique God-given gifts and talents.  :)
 Anyway, off the soap box, I know that Jaro needs the Elders and Leganes needs the Sisters! A lot of areas got switched around, it was a really crazy transfer. I am very excited to be in Leganes Ward. The old bishop is now the new Stake President, Pres. Suya. The current bishop is Bishop Democrito, who joined the church about 12 years ago. The Ward Missionaries have toured us around more than the Elders did. The Members take responsibility of the investigators and care for them just as much as we do. Probably because a lot of the Recent Converts and Investigators are member referrals. Yay!!!! They are very involved in the work. The funny thing is that I am still basically in Iloilo city. All my areas are within a one-hour jeepney ride of each other. haha. 

General Conference was wonderful, of course! I loved Elder Holland's talk. I could've used that a few weeks ago, eh? But better late than never. I will be a defender of the faith! Also, I am glad people here are too nice to spit or throw food at us. Hallelujah! I actually liked all the talks and could write a novel about everything I learned. But I'll spare you all. I just love it. :) The cool thing is...this is the first time I've ever had questions ready for conference, and all of them (no matter how random) were answered in one way or another. I listed out my questions a few weeks ago and forgot about them, then this morning in personal study I went through and jotted down how each question was answered through conference. So cool! I highly suggest it. :) I also read Esther and am working my way through Job this week. I am really glad I am not him, but I am also really proud of him for defending his faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 

I hope you all have a great week. I also hope you all know that I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God here upon the earth. I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ, lives. I know that all the teachings of the prophet, apostles, and church leaders point us toward salvation and everlasting happiness. Life is not hard. It challenges us so we can grow in faith and love. I love you all! Don't forget that! Happy Easter!

Love, Sister Winward

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lessons Learned

Dear Family, 

How are you all doing? What was the best part of conference for each of you? I am excited to watch it this weekend. I wonder who my companion will be...transfers are on Rachel's birthday. RACHEL'S BIRTHDAY??!?!!!!!! Happy Birthday Rach! I can't believe you are turning 18. Tigulang ka na! (You're old now!) And Happy Birthday to Christy today! Yay! And Happy Birthday to Hannah next week! :) 

On Thursday (the 3rd) was Sister Marchant's 22nd Birthday. We had an FHE with the Sase family (LA) on Monday, and they surprised us with a big, delicious chocolate cake! Sister Marchant was sooo happy. I made her some blueberry crisp instead of a cake....with a 72 hour kit candle in it. haha. "It's more fun in the Philippines!" 

The highlight of this week was teaching Rose and Mickey the Law of Chastity. I have never seen two more determined people in all my mission. They know blessings will come from living the gospel. They have already seen many. Mickey made a 180 in his life just in the last 6 months. And since we've started teaching Rose, she has so much more peace and happiness. She used to be painfully shy. She still talks super quiet...and is mostly Tagalog, but she has expressed her testimony of Christ. She is amazing! They just need to save the money, then they can get married, Rose can be baptized, and they have a goal to go to the temple to be sealed as an eternal family with their baby girl Hannah next year. They've told us they have a month picked out, once they can decide on a date for their wedding, they are going to announce it.  

I also learned a lot of lessons personally this week. I really learned how to apply the steps of the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively in my own life. I learned that apology is greater than pride and can heal relationships. I learned that I love Women's Conference! I learned about forgiveness. I learned again that it still really hurts to be dropped by investigators. But I also learned that finding is the greatest....I know there are prepared people. We meet them every day. It gives me hope. I've been learning, as the adjacent area has been raking in baptisms, that it is a blessing just to be able support them and their recent converts and their investigators. We're all in this together. I'll speak at every baptism if I have to, it is all the same to the Lord. I learned that sometimes the Spirit isn't logical, but it will guide us to fill people's needs. We visited with a member for I think like 2 hours...but she needed it. She has been struggling so bad. Her life is kind of like Job's in the Bible...but right now she is still in the suffering part. Blessings will come to her. I know it. I also learned that when I really feel like I just want to call my Mom...that is a great time to pray to my Heavenly Father. I learned that being a leader really means to serve people like Christ would.  

What did you learn this week? I love you all and I hope you all have a fun and safe week. Remember that Christ lives and He is our hope and our salvation. 

Love, Sister Winward

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Well, at least we have all of our teeth."

Dear Family, 

How are you all? I can't even believe Mom and Rachel are in New York right now! That is sooo cool. I wonder if they have any art museums around here? We should find out. Last week was the end of school for the Philippines. They'll start again in June. It is definitely summer...I thought I knew what hot was, and then this week happened. It is soooo HOT. Yesterday in church all the ceiling fans were on high, plus most of us had a pamphlet or hand fan, too. 

So, how about some mission funnies first. The doorknob of Sister Daroy and Sister Mendez's CR (bathroom) has always been kind of broken. On Wednesdaynight, Sister Daroy got locked in and we couldn't get her out. The doorknob would not work. We couldn't even card it. haha. So, Sister Mendez called the office elders, because she wanted to let them know she was going to damage the apartment, and she busted the whole doorknob off with her hulk-like willpower and a pair of scissors. It was so funny. Sister Daroy came out so excited to be free. I think she was locked in for like 25 minutes, and it was hot. Lol. We still have been listening to all the Christmas CDs you guys sent pretty often. David Archuleta and the MoTab just never gets old. haha. Also, Sister Marchant enjoys listening to, and singing, opera music. She is silly. I love her, she keeps me laughing. No matter how difficult something is, she always reminds me,"Well, at least we have all of our teeth." That is definitely a reason to rejoice. :) haha. 

So, once upon a time, we got dumped. via text message. TWICE. This week has been interesting. Satan is working really hard on people. And sometimes that means people are blinded by half-truths. We found this really cool girl named Liza, she is 18, and she is going to school to become a tour guide. She was really receptive, and we related the gospel and our role as missionaries to her chosen profession. I was way excited about her. And then we received a text that her elder siblings didn't want her to visit with us. And we have to respect their wishes. And then...Up until last Monday, Leoandra was way excited to get baptized. But on Monday night, we taught her and she said that her husband and her in-laws all didn't want her to join the church. So we were like, okay, we can deal with that. We were praying and Sister Marchant fasted and we talked to our leaders about some ideas of how to help her resolve that concern in District meeting on Tuesday. We've started teaching Leoandra in a different brgy, at her childhood home, because she and her family are spending most of their summer their. We had started teaching a bunch of her other relatives, too. And it was going well. We even almost got another deaf investigator, Gerald. (I love sign language!) And then on Sunday morning, Leoandra texted us and said that their mother was really angry at them for listening to us and is super against them changing religions, so we can't go back to her or her other relatives. We're praying really hard to figure out what we should do....We can't just give up on her, but we have to respect that too. One of the members who has been fellowshipping her offered to visit her. Maybe it's not her time yet. I don't know right now. 

Tender Mercies still happen every day though. We had a random guy call out to us from across the street the other day, and he crossed really quick and introduced himself. He just happens to be a member who moved here from Manila a few months back for work. His name is Sherwin. He lives in the other area, but we gave him the info he needed to contact us and get to the church. Hopefully one day when he doesn't have to work he will be able to make it. Also, I think I've mentioned it already, but I have been praying to have my eyes opened more to people who might be prepared. Of course, we try to talk to everyone, but there are some times when the Spirit tells me I definitely need to talk to a specific person. This happened yesterday on the jeepney. I met a 25-year-old woman named Angel. She is looking for an apartment in Jaro because she was transferred here for work. Just while we were traveling together on the jeepney, she opened up to me  about her family and her religious background. I told her what we are doing here as missionaries. She noted that we seemed really happy with the work we were doing even though we don't get paid. She really stuck out to me. I am hoping to stay in contact with her until she can find an apartment. Then hopefully we can visit her or we can refer her. Even with disappointments, Heavenly Father always makes our work worth it. 

I read a talk, "O Remember, Remember" this week by Pres. Eyring. I really like has motivated me to write down God's kindnesses each day. We had interviews with President Aquino on Thursday. He told us to send their love and gratitude to our families. He told us that whatever we do in our missions or in life, we need to "leave a legacy that will be a destiny to others." I like that a lot. No matter what the challenges are in this area, if we do our best to build it up, especially with building member relations, one day it will yield souls who are ready and willing to accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are looking for those willing in heart and mind, like it says in 1 Chronicles 29:9. 

I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers. CTR and ask Heavenly Father what you can do each day to better serve Him. Halong kamo! 

Love, Sister Winward