Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Mapauli gid ako sa Antique!"

Dear Family, 

Big happenings this week. I can't even wait to tell you all about it! On Wednesday night, we received a transfer text from the Zone Leader, Elder Asi, but it was a joke because he just listed everyone in the district. Real funny. So then Sister Aurelio and I called him to check who was REALLY going to be transferred, and he said I was. He is such a joker, I almost couldn't believe him. But it was the truth. Awwww maaaannnnn! Just when things were on fire in Leganes! Six of our investigators are set to be baptized in June. I kind of felt like a kid eating a delicious piece of chocolate cake, only to have it taken away after the first few bites. But it is okay, because I know Heavenly Father needs me here in SAN JOSE!

At least I had one night's warning though (unlike Sister Marchant, haha), so I packed up and Sister Aurelio and I took a taxi to Arevalo. I was transferred to San Jose area A, in the beautiful province of Antique! (ant-EE-kay) Yes! I'm out of the city and into the bukid! Going from Iloilo to San Jose kind of feels like going from Salt Lake to Logan. San Jose is still urban, but it has great beaches (our whole area is basically on the beach) and is closer to the mountains. It is a lot more green than the city. And the air is clean, right off the ocean! There aren't jeepneys, unless you need to travel a long distance. We get around on big white tricycles. Elder Ortiz, the new Zone Leader, and I had to take a 2 hour, twisting and turning bus ride through the mountains to arrive here from Arevalo.

My companion is Sister Viliami. She is a Tongan sister from Hamilton, New Zealand. I am so excited to work with her. She has great insights and she is ready to work hard. I know I will learn a lot from her.  She is very different than my last two companions. She told me that I am an answer to her prayers. She knows the Lord sent me here to push and stretch her. She is a great missionary. She really cares. And she has amazing potential. We will be very good for each other, I can already tell. 

San Jose is a branch (in a District, not a Stake), there are 8 missionaries assigned here--the ZLs, the STLs, us, and a set of couple missionaries, Elder and Sister Sessions. (I haven't met them yet because they travel all around Antique to help.) Oh yeah, and I am released as an STL. Hallelujah. :) I am so grateful for all I learned about leadership, and I know it is now time for other sisters to learn those lessons too. And what do we do when we learn something? APPLY IT. 

I know Heavenly Father needs me this area, in this branch, in this zone. The first night I arrived, the sisters all opened up to me that there have been big problems with disobedience in the zone for the last few transfers.  As an apartment, we are all committed to obedience. Heavenly Father sent me here for a reason. He needs me to be an instrument of change. Which I know is going to push me a lot. Excellent obedience will lead to the miracles this branch and zone need to see. When He calls, I am ready. Challenge accepted! 

Friday and Saturday we got to do some awesome CSPs. We helped build a path in a rice field on Friday, then on Saturday we cleaned up rubbish on the beach with the barangay (neighboorhood) council. On Saturday, Sister Viliami and I read chapter 7 of PMG, about learning the mission language. The language is really a challenge for her. Antique has its own dialect--Kiray-a. It is basically the same as Hiligaynon, just a little different accent, some different words and prounouns, and sometimes the "L" is replaced with an "R." I'm doing fine with it so far, just need to get in the habit of replacing a few words. I had Sister Viliami make a goal to learn 40 new words in the next two weeks. Only 3 a day. She is doing great so far. And I am learning better how to fit teaching to meet the needs of the individual. 

Christine is our investigator with a baptismal goal date for the end of June. She came to church for the first time yesterday. She is 17. Her family are all "Bible Believers" which is just a kind of baptist. She is the youngest of 13 siblings. I am excited about her. I am also excited about the Branch Missionaries here. They are very involved in the work as well. I miss Leganes Ward, but San Jose Branch will be great as well. 

I love you all so much. I read a great chapter about the Atonement this morning, Isaiah 53. Give it a read this week. :) Thank you for your love and prayers. Always trust in the Lord and His plan for you. Andam pirmi! 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, May 19, 2014

"B'coz I know the plan"

Dear Family, 

Kumusta na kamo? How are all of you  doing? I hope great. I guess school is almost over on that side of the world, right? School will be back in session here in about 3 weeks. haha. Endure to the end all of you. haha. And I will endure to the end of tag-init (hot season). 

It was great to see you on skype last week! This week has been really great as well. We had seven investigators come to sacrament, plus four other people who aren't investigators yet. And we had a bunch of less active members come too! It was great. In the Leganes banwa (town center) there is a stand called "Mister Siomai" where Sister Aurelio like to buy siomai a few times a week for a snack. The lady who owns it is named Eden and she is really nice, but super busy so we can't teach her, but the good news is, she told us to pick up her son and take him to church with us. So we went to the siomai stand on Sundaymorning and took Ivan to church with us. He is 9. I sat with him during sacrament and he had a lot of questions about the sacrament. And then one of his classmates from school came over and fellowshipped him and took him to Primary. It was great! I am hoping we can figure something out where we can teach Ivan in the banwa or the Elders can at Eden's house. Yay! 

On Thursday, Sister Aurelio and I went to the Town Hall to ask about the process of getting a marriage license. Our investigator, Jenamie, and her husband, John Ray, and two other couples we are teaching with them all need to get married. When we get that figured out, then four baptisms should follow. They are all former investigators who were even interviewed for baptism, but haven't been able to get married yet. Their biggest challenge is  money. They are really poor. While the actual marriage license processing fee is somewhat affordable, the cost of fare for them to travel around and collect the paperwork will be the biggest problem. But I have faith it will all work out, we just need to help them build their faith and do it. :) We are also teaching Catherine (12), Noela (10), and Brian (9) with them. They all came to church. Catherine is the sweetest. She reads the Book of Mormon to Noela, because Noela has difficulty reading. That is what Christ means when He tells us to be childlike.

We had MLC (Tues. 6 May) and Mission Conference (Thurs.  8 May) two weeks ago with Elder and Sister Ardern. I want to share some of the things I learned from them, because it was great! (Plus they have New Zealand accents.) Their and President and Sister Aquino's counsel to us kind of kept jumping back and forth between Teaching & Finding & Missionary work and Marriage. Talk about trunky missionaries...oh brother. jk! They talked about finding and marrying a Man or Woman of God. They also talked about how Education is so super important. Elder Ardern had Sister Ardern tell a funny story to us... 
When they were newlyweds, Elder Ardern still hadn't finished his degree, but he had a teaching certificate, so he thought that was good enough. Sister Ardern didn't think so. She kept encouraging him to enroll in school again to finish his degree, until one day, she pushed him out the front door, locked him out, and told him not to come back unless he had his University registration papers in hand. So he went to "Uni," as they call it in New Zealand, and registered. When he came home, Sister Ardern made him show her the papers through the window as his ticket back in. haha. I loved that story. Go Sister Ardern! 

Elder Ardern taught us that it is the greatest crime for a missionary to return from their mission and fail to apply all they learned on their mission. He also shared that no mediocre persons will make it in to the Celestial Kingdom. That is why we must always strive to be the extraordinary children of God that we have the potential to become. Satan would have us settle for average, but Heavenly Father knows we can do more and be better. 

Transfer day is this Thursday. I thought I might be transferred, but maybe not. There has been some drama in Jaro 1 for the last few weeks, so it will be interesting to see what changes happen there. (That's just one of those stories that can wait til after the mission.) Unity is so important in the work of the Lord, and if we are not focused on Him, we cannot be unified. Leganes is the  greatest. We received a copy of the ward mission plan this week. The work is going well here. I love it. Brother Lito, the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric, lives by the phrase, "B'coz I know the plan." What will  you do differently today because you know the plan of our Heavenly Father? Look inward, Reach outward. I love you all. Halong! 

Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Recent Converts Rock!

Dear Family that I love soooo much,
How are you all doing? I am doing great! I hope you are all having a festive Cinco de Mayo. No one celebrates that here. haha. I am do looking forward to Skyping next week! Yay! But before that, I am looking forward to MLC tomorrow and Mission Conference on Thursday with Elder Ian S. Ardern, the Area President for the Philippines.
A few nami announcements: Phils. Iloilo Mission was so close to reaching our April goal. The final total was 98 baptized and confirmed. Yeah! And the Jaro Elders told me that Rose and Mickey are set to get married on June 7! Hooray! (Dad, I think that counts as a pretty cool birthday present. :)  ) And I made Mango Float for the first time this week. It is delicious. Mangoes are delicious. I just thought you should all know. :)
Yesterday, we had a very sweet testimony meeting.  Many of the members were able to go on the stake's temple trip to Cebu last week. For them to get to the temple affordably they ride the "roll-roll." This means they ride a bus which then "rolls on" a boat, take a 12 hour boat ride, then "roll off" the boat and continue their drive to Cebu temple. Sounds exhausting to me. I am so grateful for how ridiculously easy it is for us to get to the temples so close to us in Utah. No excuse. (I may be slightly trunky when in comes to going to the temple again. :) 6 months na lang. So. Excited. ) Anyway, the Bishop's 12 year old daughter, Heart, was able to attend the temple and she bore the sweetest testimony yesterday. She almost couldn't speak, but I felt the spirit just how it feels doing the work of the Lord in His Holy Temple. Love it!
I love working with the recent converts in Leganes Ward. I don't mean teaching them. I mean they text us daily and tell us they want to come along and work. Yeah! Kimberly, the ZLs recent convert, gave us a referral a few weeks ago, and the ZLs told us she wanted to come along when we teach them. So Kimberly, 15 y/o, came along with us on Tuesday. Her friends, Jessa Lyn (15) and Mark (17), each have a baptismal goal date now! She did great, bore testimony to the people we taught and everything. Then the next day we met up with the ZLs to give them a copy of the Restoration DVD, and they told us that Kimberly had a great time. They said Tuesday night they were in the middle of a lesson with Kimberly's father, Johnny, and she came home with a huge smile on her face. The Elders asked her why she was so happy, and she said, "I just worked with the Sisters!" True joy comes from sharing the gospel. 
We have had Diana, 13 y/o, come along with us to work, too. She a less active. Her brother Tregie, 11 y/o, really wants to be baptized, but their parents are less active so we are working on getting him some support to endure first. They both came to church on Sunday! And a ton of other Less Actives came too. The church was overflowing again. It was a good day.
Tonight we have an FHE planned with Jerica (inv.) and Junjun (LA).  (Who also came to church yesterday! Yay!) We let the members know, and it spread like wildfire. I even got invited to our own FHE by some of the members. haha. It's gonna be a party.
I hope you all have a great week. I know our Savior lives. I have felt His love for His children fill my soul on several occasions. That happened this week when we were teaching Sister Valencia especially. The Spirit is amazing. I know that as we improve day by day to be obedient to our Savior, Happiness will fill our lives. I love you all.

Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Too much Awesome to handle

Dear Family, 

How are you all this fine day? I'm doing great. It has been sooo hot here. Like in the 90s all week. I'm dying. I'm told every day "Nagabalhas ka, Sister!" You're sweating! haha. Also, this week was fiesta week in our neighborhood. What this means for us is that Babylonian music was BLASTING all week long. Literally shook the walls of our apartment. So loud. All week. I'm pretty sure speakers that loud are illegal in America. But, ayos lang, the final day was Saturday, music blasted til 3 in the morning. And now it is over. Hallelujah! Honestly, more ridiculously funny than frustrating. 

For some more funnies:
That awkward moment when TOO MANY members want to work with you in a day. Like 4 or 5 of them. YES!!! 
That awkward moment when your companion tells you to take off your glasses so she can show everyone how she thinks you look just like "Mama Mary." :P 
That awkward moment when the Filipinas in your apartment weigh themselves and are upset because they lost a few kilos. haha. 
And some tender mercies: 
That awesome moment when you get a free taxi ride from a far part of your area all the way home, just because the driver was on his way to Jaro anyway. Thanks, Bert!
That awesome moment when you are in the same far part of your area, desperate (again) for a ride home, and the Stake President and his family just happen to roll up in their truck. Answered prayer. 

There is too much awesome and not enough time. I love Leganes (again). We had a great ward council yesterday. The members are working with us everyday. I've never had more member present lessons or more referrals in my whole mission than this week. In Sacrament and then in Ward Council yesterday, Bishop Democrito announced the vision that they have for the ward to become one ward and two branches within the next two years. Then he invited the auxiliary leaders to set goals and do action to make that vision happen. There is so much unity, so much great work to do, and so much excitement for missionary work. I love it. The church was full to the brim yesterday. The Elders had to get up three times to add more chairs. And the deacons had to get their sacrament trays refilled. It was awesome. 

The recent converts here are doing great. Yesterday, Norman and Renren were called to be the YM President and 1st counselor. They are recent converts of just the last few months. I am so excited that they are being trusted with those callings, and I know they will do great! Rafael, Zharra, Norman, Lito, Mareta, Kim, Elijah, Ana, Renren...these are just a few of the awesome members that I love so much already. They are great. 

We found this cool girl named Jerica. Jeferson is still cool, praying hard for an answer. We contacted some LA families and referrals and found some awesome investigators that way. Thursday was cool. We worked with the WML, Rafael, and he was able to administer priesthood blessings to our investigator family that was sick. And later the bishop and stake president blessed a sick LA sister in our area. I am so grateful for the priesthood and for worthy men ready to exercise it. We're still figuring out which investigators we will focus on so we can help them to be baptized. And guess what! Before, the highest number of baptisms our mission had reached was about 65. The last few months it has steadily progressed. There were 71 in March. And I'm 99.9% sure that we reached our mission goal of 100 baptisms in April. I"ll find out for sure tomorrow. Yay! We're like the PIM recovery team. haha. :) 

I learned this week that faith and a positive attitude are really like the same thing. I also learned that faith really can move or build mountains, it just takes time, diligence, patience, and perseverance. I am so thankful for my Savior and for all the things I have learned as I am trying to be like him. I am learning to turn the other cheek. I have learned that when you want others to change, you need to look inward and reach outward. We have a much greater capacity to love and to serve than we think we do. We have to be the change we wish to see in the world. I have seen that happen literally in the last few weeks. I have also seen what happens when Christ is not the focus as we make goals and plans. It is ugly and there is no unity. Blaming others is the opposite of progress.Christlike Service and charity are the keys to progress. That is why Leganes is on fire!!!! Yeah! 

I love you all. I know Christ lives and He will support us and push us forward as we strive to become like Him. Halong pirmi! 

Love, Sister Winward