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 day...it 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