Sunday, June 29, 2014

We're on the right track

Dear Family, 

How are you all doing today? I hope Nicki has a very Happy 11th Birthday this week! I have been great. It has been a pretty successful week for Sister Viliami and I. 

We were able to contact some referrals this last week who turned out to be some very prepared people. I am excited about them. Josie is the mother of a girl who the Elders are teaching. Fritzee is going to be baptized in July, and we are planning that her mother will shortly follow, maybe a week or two after. Josie is very kind. She paid for our tricycle fare yesterday on the way home from church. We were very excited that she came. 

The other referral was Resfe ann, aka Pingping. She has been investigating for a while in Bugasong, a little north where there are some Elders assigned. She and her boyfriend moved here because her family kicked her out. She needs to get married. She is consistently reading in the Book of Mormon and told us all about Nephi chapter 4 yesterday. She has a really good understanding. We helped her to see that her desire to be baptized needs to be because of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not her boyfriend. She understands, and even though it is a hard conversation to have, they are discussing what they need to do to repent, and planning for marriage. Oh man, if it all works out there should be quite a few weddings in July and August. :) 

Elna and Lidemae are doing so great. They didn't make it to sacrament meeting yesterday, but we texted them and told them not to be shy because they were late, but come to classes anyway. So they did. They really learned a lot. In our lesson yesterday, Lidemae shared to us all about Nephi 1 through 7. She and Elna are consistently reading. They also have a great understanding. They are really good at English. Elna is a school teacher at a Montessori school. She has one little girl, a two year old, named Khriztel Marie. Elna told us that first thing every morning, Khriztel asks for her book (the Book of Mormon) and pretends to read, sing, and pray. Just speaking gibberish. And a few times she has even fallen asleep hugging it. Cute! We shared with them about Word of Wisdom yesterday. Their only concern was coffee, and they are not addicted, so that will be fine. 

Our lesson with Elna on Saturday evening was the best moment of Sister Viliami and my week. We planned to share about the last part of Plan of Salvation, "Where do we go after this life?" She has been sharing the gospel with her husband. He has joined lessons before, but lately has been shy or something. Elna says he is scared he'll have to give up drinking and smoking. So, we went to her house and we all decided to wait for him to come home from work before we started the lesson so he could join, too. We waited for a while, but he never showed up. Elna told us after that he saw the house was crowded and just went to wait until we left. He waited for a while for us to leave. We never even saw him. We are praying he will listen. We did share with Elna. She basically taught us about the degrees of glory. She is amazing! Her smile was huge. She really wants her family to be eternal. Before, she was a sign-seeker. She wanted that kind of answer. But she knows she has her answer now, it is the peace that she feels in her heart as she learns and applies the gospel. She gets frustrated at work (her salary is low) and at her husband sometimes, but she told us that whenever frustration comes, she laughs and she prays, just like we told her to. And it works. She has greater peace than she has ever felt before. We are so excited for them. 

Friday was Sister Rappleye's birthday. We figured out how to use our propane oven (ours is the only apt in the mission that has one), and I made some apple crisp...because Sister Rappleye is at it again--doing a chocolate fast to support her investigator in quitting his WoW problems. We always forget and offer her chocolate anyway. Oops! haha

Yesterday, I spoke in church on Gratitude. I started in 1 Nephi 1 today, in addition to the OT reading I am still working through. Man, Nephi is so grateful! 

I learned a little more about how the Spirit works on Saturday (like I do every is an amat-amat lifelong process, I think). My companion had been getting pretty easily frustrated at our investigators and less actives. Not during lessons, but afterward I can tell she is upset at them. You do get pretty tired of hearing excuses as a missionary, believe me. I wanted to advise her to work on her patience, but I didn't think she was in the mood to hear that so I just let it go and prayed for her. In her personal study though, she was led to study patience in PMG. I knew that was something she needed, and I'm glad the spirit helped her out. The Spirit really is the best teacher. I love Sister Viliami so much.  She is great at being bold. We have made our expectations clear to our investigators and that helps them see the path we want them to take....the gospel path. In working with less-actives we don't beat around the bush. Some of them just don't want visits from missionaries anymore. Which is sad. But I do know it is always better for members to care for the sheep in their fold. 

We had another "cottage meeting" at the Session's last night to discuss the progress and needs of the branch. It was successful. The last two weeks have been really progressing. I am excited about the work here. I wasn't really at first when I arrived. I knew it was going to be an interesting and challenging area. But we are really seeing miracles happen. Even though we are splitting our time 50/50 working with Less-actives more, the investigator work that we are doing is yielding some amazing results. I know it is not us. The Lord is guiding our work. It is just a testimony to me that we are on the right track. As we do what He wants for these people and this branch, with faith and patience, miracles are coming. I am so grateful to be part of this marvelous work and a wonder. What a blessing it is to be a missionary in the Philippines Iloilo Mission, serving my Lord and Savior. I wouldn't trade this for the world. 

I love you all, and I hope you all have a beautiful day! 

Love, Sister Winward

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Miracles in San Jose!

Dear Family, 

Kumusta kamo? Thanks for the many emails and for packages. :) I am doing great this week. We started putting our plans into action, and so far so good. The Branch President, President Gindap, and his wife, Sister Cacks, came and worked with us last Monday to visit Wilfredo, the less active that Sister Lyman showed us to. It was great! We had President share a message from the Liahona, and then he and sister told Wilfredo of some job leads, because he is looking for work and very poor right now. On Sunday, we heard that the Elders Quorom President also visited Wilfredo. 

Last Thursday, Sister Sessions came with the four of us to visit the Relief Society President, Sister Henna. The STLs had received a text from her that she was busy or something, but I told them not to reply and we went and visited her anyway. I think it was just what she needed. She opened up to us about some struggles she is going through with her family. We just tried to help her remember that she is not alone, Christ will make her weaknesses into strengths. And she can rely on us too! I know she felt it, because yesterday she was excited to announce our Visiting Teaching day we will have on June 28. We also suggested to have a "good news minute" as part of the RS opening exercises, and I really think it broke the ice for the RS Sisters. It was great. The leaders are already "waking up." Also, she owns a bakery and showed us around after we shared with her last week.

We have really enjoyed having the couple missionaries come along with us this week. Elder and Sister Sessions are the bomb! We had them join us for a few appointments last Tuesday, and what ended up happening is that Elder Sessions was able to administer a few blessings to people who were sick. Sister Sessions joined us a few times this week to visit some RS sisters. Sister Sessions likes to sew, so we took her to visit a less-active sister named Lisa. Lisa is amazing at sewing. She showed us a bunch of gowns for little girls that she has made. They are like princess dresses! So cute and so creative. So Sister Sessions was able to connect with Lisa about that. It was really cool....even though there was a little language barrier, I know Lisa still felt Heavenly Father's love for her as Sister Sessions testified. 

On Wednesday, Sister Dotillos and I went on exchanges in their area...well mostly. The boundaries are kind of weird. So anyway, one of the branch missionaries, Jomar, worked with us and showed us the house of a less-active, which happens to be in our area. Chonna is 22 and has a baby son named...*drumroll please*...Nephi! Her husband is not a member. She was so happy to see us. She told us that she grew up very active up in Bulacan near Manila. She and her husband were being taught by the missionaries last year, but it was difficult because they were living in his sister's house, etc, anyway it didn't work out then. But she told us that she had said a prayer just a few days before that the sisters would find them again. And we did! I like being the answer to people's prayers. Yay!!! Her husband, Hernie, wasn't there on Wednesday, but yesterday, Sister Viliami and I went back and taught him too. We were both floored....he is so prepared! No vices, a solid job with no work on Sundays usually, and he is a family man. A rare find around here. Sister told us how Hernie and Nephi are always the ones to remind her that they need to pray. Wow! We shared about eternal families and discussed what they need to do to get married so Hernie can be baptized and they can work toward the temple. :) I am so excited for them. 

Also while we are on exchanges, Sister Dotillos and I tracted 2 huge houses and made it into both of them! That is rare. Filipinos are really friendly, but if they are rich they act more like Americans usually. 2 for 2. At one of them we taught the two maids, and at the other we taught this sweet old lady named Lorena who remembers the Elders visiting her attorney husband before he passed away. She said she knew we were good, trustworthy people, just from seeing our nametags, so that's why they let us in. :) 

One funny...We took one of our LAs, Rubina, with us for an appointment because we didn't know where the house of the Butt family (LA) was. She's pretty old. and she was sooo funny. She just kept calling the girl we were teaching crazy (she kind of was), taking out and putting in her dentures over and over, and when it started to rain, she was ready to bolt across the muddy rice fields....the only problem was she didn't have an umbrella. So then she was on edge the whole time we were teaching. Sister Viliami was laughing so hard the whole time. Oh man. That was a riot. It's more fun in the Philippines. 

So, the best news of all for the week is about Alna and Lady May. Last Sunday, Alna told Sister Viliami and Sister Rappleye that her husband wouldn't let her be baptized or go to church. So we were really bummed about that. We decided to just keep working with her and hope her husband's heart would soften. We went back on Friday and taught about "Where did we come from?" in the Plan of Salvation. We explained to them about the veil of forgetfulness and how really we are just reminding them of things they already knew before they came to earth. When we taught them about how Satan does everything to keep us from following Heavenly Father's plan, Alna kind of had an epiphany. She shared that last Sunday they gave into temptation to make an excuse and not come to church. She made the connection that they followed what Satan wanted. They came to church yesterday and really enjoyed it, other than being hungry. haha. I'll bring snacks next week. The best pa gid was after church we taught them again and recommitted them to baptism. Alna said Yes. As in definitely. Lady May said she will still decide. Sister Viliami explained that part of the baptism covenant is to keep the commandments, which includes weekly church attendance. Alna said, "That is not hard." Yes! Her husband doesn't want her to switch religions, but Alna said she knows she needs baptism as part of her salvation. She knows he'll come around eventually. I am sooooooo excited about Alna and Lady May. 

We also taught this other amazing investigator named Lovely May. She is 18. She totally felt the Spirit. She told us she feels different when we are sharing with her than any other church she has been to. She wants to be baptized. The only thing is....she moved to Manila today. She'll be there until December. So...we are going to keep in touch with her and get her referred to the missionaries up there. 

I am so grateful to be part of this "marvelous work and a wonder." I know we are following the Lord's will here. I am amazed at the miracles I have seen happen this week. I know it is not because of us, but because of the Spirit and the truth of the message we share. I hope you all have a great week. I love you all! Halong! 

Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Waking Up

Dear Family, 

Kumusta kamo? I am doing great! I hope you all had a good week. It was fun to hear about all of your birthday and graduation adventures! I have a lot to share with you all this week. :) 

Last Tuesday, I started off the day by teaching District Meeting. Ahhhh. I was more nervous doing that than I ever was giving a Zone Training. haha. Probably because our DL asked me at 8:15pm the night before. It went okay. And on Tuesday, there was an RM sister in town. Her name is Sara Lyman and she served her back in 2011. She said she wanted to wait until all the missionaries she knew had gone home already before she came back. She asked if she could come and work with us for a bit to check up on some Less-Actives she used to visit. Sister Viliami and I both don't know the area super well, so it was great to have her show us some more people we didn't know about. We met Wilfredo, he is a very nice older Less-Active whose wife left him a while back. He was so down, but hearing the gospel again gave him hope. He came to church on Sunday. He seemed very happy to be there. It was fun to work with Sister Lyman--and cool to see that she still has the language down. I don't ever want to lose Hiligaynon. haha. 

On Wednesday, we taught a lesson that didn't go so great to some hard-hearted people, but then we went with this little half-Belgian girl to her home. We met her father, Jean, and got to know him a little bit. He was very friendly and had a heavy French accent. He works all over the world doing dredging (whatever that is) most of the time. We got to share to him for about 10 minutes and he was very receptive, although he is a devout Roman Catholic. We dropped off a Book of Mormon and some pamphlets for him to read while he is out on the sea. That was's not every day we get to teach a foreigner. 

We taught our investigator, Jergie, on Thursday. In a previous lesson we challenged her to be baptized, but the next lesson she said she and her husband decided no, and she definitely wasn't too keen on attending church. But then we were able to teach her all about Christ's church and how it was restored. I know she felt the Spirit. Nicki, one of the YSA members, worked with us and bore a strong testimony that touched Jergie's heart. When we invited her to attend church she just said, "Yes, I will, Sisters." I know she felt that she needed to....But then we went to pick her up on Sunday morning, and Jean had given her a ton of ironing to do (Jergie's really poor, so she does whatever she can to bring in money). "Unexpected work," she said, and didn't come with us. It made me really sad.

The big breakthrough for the week didn't come from working with investigators at all though...San Jose is kind of weak right now and the District has a ways to go before it will become a stake, so last night (after a delicious American dinner of Tacos and Lemon bars) all of us San Jose missionaries met up to discuss and plan over what we will do to strengthen the church here in Antique. President told me it is kind of like a sleeping giant. In Alma 5:7 it says, "Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God." Elder and Sister Sessions (the super nice couple missionaries here), Sister Rappleye and Sister Dotillos (STLs), Elder Shaffer and Elder Ortiz (ZLs), and Sister Viliami and I all came up with a vision and a plan. Our vision is to strengthen the leadership of San Jose by experiences that will help them to magnify their callings. We hope that in turn, they will be better able to serve like Christ, reaching out to others. We also hope that as we try this out in San Jose, the other missionaries and units here in Antique will "Catch the Wave" as well. We are going back to the basics. We want to ensure that the branch and auxiliary presidencies themselves are living the simplest gospel principles such as scripture study and FHE and Home/Visiting teaching and attending all Sunday meetings by teaching them, and by inviting them to come along and serve and reactivate. We want them to walk the talk, and we are going to show them how. Because telling someone something puts it in their brain, but taking them by the hand and showing them puts it into their heart. I am so excited to be assigned here now. There is a bright future ahead. We will strengthen and clean the inner vessel, then Reactivation and Conversion and Retention will come. Yay! We met with the RS Presidency already and planned to hold Visiting Teaching days every 2nd and 4th Saturday, where all the Sisters will go on splits with companionships of Visiting Teachers. We are on the right path. Woohoo. 

How are all of your basics? Build your life on the Rock of our Redeemer  every day through earnest prayer and diligent and deep scripture study. Make family your priority. Reach out to others--visit them and share the Savior's love. Rely on the eternal wisdom of our Heavenly Father. I know this is His true church. I know His Spirit abides with us as we do His work. I know He lives. I know that San Jose will be made strong as we get lost in all the work to do here. I am so excited! I love you all.

Love, Sister Winward

P.S. Just one our house we feel like we are on display at the zoo because we keep the door open usually (for the heat), and the little school kids like to stop on their way home during lunch break and stare through the fence when they see Sister Rappleye or I. haha. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The "Challenge"

Dear Family, 

Mayad na aga! How are all of you doing this fine day? This has been the longest week ever it seems, but it went by in the blink of an eye. We had a zone conference last Wednesday in Arevalo. One of the highlights was that one of the APs challenged us to challenge at least one person to baptism every day. Sister Viliami and I have been trying to do that. It really helps to see who is ready and willing to change. One accepted. Her name is Alna. She is way nami and she has good questions and is very accepting and willing to change. She said she will come to church next week and bring her sister. The other highlight of zone conference was that President taught us about the Doctrine of the Family. The Area Presidency instructed all the Mission Presidents to teach about it to the missionaries. Because what is the next important thing to do after serving a mission? Get married. Gani. So that was fun, slightly awkward, mostly good...President showed his and Sister Aquino's wedding pictures and shared mostly from the Family Proclamation. He shared his formula for happiness, which I really loved, I hope you guys like it to0....

Six steps for a happy life: 
1. Faith
2. Obedience
3. Service
4. Serve a Mission
5. Education
6. Temple Marriage


Let's see, what else happened? Sorry. I had a fever yesterday and had to stay home :( Sister Rappleye is a good nurse. :) But now I have to jog my memory. lol. Oh yeah! We started teaching these little girls, Riza, Crystal, and Rona Jane. And they all came to church. And they want to come again next week. Yay! One of our HUGE focuses here is reactivating less-active Melchizedek Priesthood holders. We work 50/50. Half investigator/half less-active. Sister Viliami and I don't know the area super well, so we really want to seek out the part-member families and learn where more of the members live so we can get teach people close to them. :) Lots of plans. I am so grateful for the greatest plan of all...Heavenly Father's plan. Being out this long in the mission, I can see more clearly that He truly has a plan for every person, every missionary, every area. He knows how to teach us the things we need to learn. And He does it all because He loves us so much! 


Sister Winward