Saturday, July 26, 2014


Dear Family,
Kumusta kamo? I hope everyone is having a great week and looking forward to Pioneer Day! Also, it is Alex's birthday on Wednesday, don't any of you forget! ;) This was an interesting week. All kinds of roller-coaster ups and downs resolving concerns, but in the end, it is all going smoothly. I am so thankful for the testimonies our investigators are cultivating with the power of the Holy Ghost.
Once upon a time, Elder Ortiz told us that Josie's daughter told him that Josie is not married. I dunno if I mentioned that one last week. But we asked her about it on Sunday, and she said that, yes, they are. So we thought that concern was not a concern at all. Sister Viliami didn't really believe her though, and we wanted to investigate further, without hurting Josie's feelings (we DON'T want to make to mistake of having her baptized if she's not married yet, obviously), and Heavenly Father gave us a tender mercy. We were walking on our way to teach Robilyn, when we saw Josie's husband, Jun. We said "hello" and kept walking, then were like "duh" why don't we just ask him if they are married. He very confidently said nope, they are not. They're too poor. So that's that. We went to Josie's later that day, and before we walked up we made a little game plan and prayed for the Spirit to guide our words so we can help Josie understand. The thing about Josie is she is really childlike. She really is progressing very well, but it isn't really out of a testimony of the gospel yet. Right now she's one of those, what you call, "missionary converts." We need people converted to Christ and His gospel, not to missionaries who became their best friends. We kind of suspect that she bends the truth sometimes so she can have our love and praise. So we had to explain that to her--we'll love her no matter what, but she's gotta work out her marriage. She got right on her homework to get it worked out. She and her husband are going to borrow money from her brother for the papers. We'll keep working on her testimony, then she will be ready for baptism with an enduring conversion. August 30!
Elna is doing great. We finished up all the lessons with her and she passed her Baptismal Interview (of course). Elder Gan, our district leader, said he felt like he was the one being taught. As her baptism is growing closer, she is definitely experiencing some adversity. Her husband was fine with her being baptized up until about a week ago. Now he is all annoyed. Probably because we have been over at their house like every day for daily contact with Elna, and to finish up her lessons. He won't come in the house if we are there. Elna told us he just needs some time to cool off. Satan is getting inside his head. She has such great faith. She knows this too shall pass, and one day, even if it takes years, Brother Robert will be converted to the true gospel of Jesus Christ as well. The branch members are so supportive of her. They are excited. July 26!
Robilyn is also doing so great. This week has been hard for her because of her reactions to quitting coffee. She wishes we could move her baptismal date sooner. But she came to all 3 hours of church yesterday, and was feeling fine. She opened up to us about her family background the other night. She has a lot of heart ache. But she is being healed by our Heavenly Father's love. I am so proud of her. August 9!
Some good news about all the many marriages: President Villavert and President Gindap should be receiving their Licenses to Marry by mid-August. Woohoo! Free wedding ceremonies!
We found Margie, Rogie, and Andrea a few weeks ago. They came to church for the third time yesterday. Rogie shared with us that every since he started reading the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon, he is addicted. He can't get enough. Now we just need that to rub off on Margie, because she never ever reads anything. She is a social butterfly...which kind of gets in the way with her progress a little bit. haha. Rogie really likes the priesthood. We've had to explain that it ain't so easy to just get the priesthood. They've got some LOC to work out, so he was really bummed when we explained that Andrea will have to go first for baptism. Margie and he are gonna have a complicated time, but they will hopefully get married at some point in the near future. Or something... Oh boy. haha.
On Friday, we had interviews with President Aquino. He is always encouraging us to be Excellent, Rock Missionaries. He is a very humble and wise leader. I am glad he is leading this mission to achieve great things. It is great to be a missionary in the Philippines Iloilo Mission! ILOveILOve!
Fire and Water.......On Saturday, it was so crazy... we were at Gaisano in the morning to buy ingredients for the apple crisp we made for our 4th meeting at the Sessions last night. The store wouldn't open for about 45 minutes, so we had to wait. We were sitting on a planter OYMing a lady, when all of a sudden we heard a series of loud electric noises, and a huge fire started on the electric wires not so far from us. Every one ran out of the building screaming, so terrified. Sister Viliami and I just walked away with the lady. It reminded me a lot of the Mormon Message "Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them." ( ) We knew we'd be fine, but everyone else was so scared. We were safe, and the firefighters came quickly. None of the mall burned, just a tree nearby. (Don't worry, Mom.) The good thing is...we got to OYM a bunch of ladies and testify of the Plan of Salvation afterward. :) Yes! 
As for the Water part, we drink our purified water out of these heavy blue jugs (like 5 gallon size maybe). When we got home from work on Saturday night, one of them had broken open, and there was water spilled all over the kitchen. haha. Mission life is full of surprises.
Like I mentioned, we had another meeting at the Sessions' last night. We invited some of the leaders of San Jose, I was so proud of President Gindap. He shared that in all his years of being a member, the first time he ever visited someone else was when the STLs took him to visit a less active family not too long ago. We are continuing to help the leaders here learn how to minister to the people in their stewardship. Some people get sick of having missionaries come to visit. But the power of a member, or even better the Bishop or another leader themselves visiting, is incomparable. They don't even have to say much...just the fact that a leader took the time to pay a visit can make all the difference. That is what made the difference for Elder Sessions when he was inactive. And that is why so many less actives are coming back now. This is only the beginning! I love working with the leaders here.
Well, time's up. I love you all and I hope you all have a great day. Never forget to ask Heavenly Father what He would have you do to help another today. Charity is really a powerful tool in opening hearts to the gospel and in healing broken relationships. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Winward

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The windows of heaven have been opened

Dear Family,
Kumusta kamo? I am excited to share with you another fantastic week here in San Jose, Antique! The Lord has definitely opened the windows of heaven, and we are just trying to find enough room to receive it all. Our planners are so puno (full), it is testing our scheduling skills. But we are following Him, and going where He needs us most. I am so excited every day. I am so proud of our investigators and their commitment to follow our Savior, even when it requires endurance and repentance.
Elna is still doing great. She was excited to announce in Gospel Principles yesterday that her baptism will be July 26. She is so ready and willing to receive a calling. She was reading about pioneers in the July 2013 Liahona we gave her, and she was so impressed by their sacrifices. She came with us to teach WOW to Robilyn on Saturday night, and she loved that missionary moment. Her Baptismal Interview will be this Saturday. We get to visit her every single day just to finish up the lessons. (The First Presidency has instructed that we now have to teach all 5 lessons before the baptismal interview.) She is so excited about the gospel. She is a changed woman. By the way, it is her birthday tomorrow. :)
On Tuesday, Sister Viliami and I went to the Municipal Hall to inquire about the requirements for marriage, because we really are going to have to take our couples' hands and walk them through the process. I think they all kind of have a fear that it is very costly and very complicated. But in bite-size steps, it is really not so bad. The worst part will probably be waiting for paperwork to process. But we figured out the requirements and have been helping our couples understand it all. And now Hernie, Resfe ann, and Myra all have Baptismal Goal Dates for August 30, and they are working on saving their money for the marriage papers, about 20 pisos a day. Plus President Gindap (Branch Pres.) and President Villavert (District Pres.) are on board and getting to work figuring it all out too. Plus we have visited a few members who have friends and relatives in high places, so we have some connections now for lowering the cost of some of the papers. Woohoo! Miracle!
Once upon a time, this fabulous YSA named Jen gave us a referral. (Yay! a referral!) We have been waiting on her to come contact her friend with us, and we finally got to meet Jay Adrian on Wednesday. He is one of her classmates from high school. And he is so amazing. We just taught him about our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and Prayer. He is kind of shy. He is really good at English. Likes to read. Is a working student. He is 24. He shared with us that he has not prayed in a very long time, and not usually from the heart, but he does want a relationship with God. He asked us when we were coming back, and if he could come to church before we ever mentioned it. At the end of the lesson, we asked him to offer the closing prayer. He said it was the first time he every prayed out loud. It was the most sincere prayer I have heard anyone give. He simply told Heavenly Father that he is sorry that he hasn't talked to him in a long time, he wants to repent, and he wants to become close to Him. It was simple. It was heartfelt. The Spirit was so strong. He felt so happy afterward. Jen was moved to tears. He came to church yesterday and enjoyed it. I am so excited to share with him again today.
Sister Robilyn has been doing great. Since she went to church a week ago, she has seen the windows of heaven open up to her. She does manicure/pedicures for 100 pisos out of her home, and she had way more customers this week than usual. Her mother's one year death anniversary was on Friday, and we were able to teach her about the last part of the Plan of Salvation ("Where do we go after this life?") and about Temples and Family History on Thursday. We taught her about the Spirit world, shared with her about how she will be able to help her mother receive the gospel by doing her temple work. She asked a question about whether her mother's spirit was able to come be with her, because she was pretty sure she felt her nearby sometimes. I told her that honestly, I don't know everything about how the Spirit world works. But I shared with her what Elder Russell M. Nelson told us when he spoke in the MTC--that the ancestors of those we teach are preparing them and leading us to them. The Spirit was so strong. I told her that I am pretty sure her mother has played a role in us finding and teaching her. It definitely wasn't a coincidence. And you know what, I am pretty sure her mother was there listening to the whole lesson. It was amazing. The work really is hastening--on both sides of the veil. Sister Robilyn is so motivated to prepare herself for baptism. She is excited to help her mother receive the gospel as well. When we taught her about the Word of Wisdom on Saturday night, we told her she had options for quitting her coffee drinking (she has about 1 cup a day). She can quit drinking coffee gradually, and move back her baptismal date (it is a requirement that they have abstained for 4 weeks before their baptism). Or she can quit immediately and still get baptized onAugust 9. She chose immediately. Man, she has faith. We explained about priesthood blessings, and said she could receive one to help her as she quits. She didn't drink any yesterday. And then during Sunday School she got a really bad migraine. She had to go throw up in the CR (comfort room aka bathroom). She got a blessing from the Elders, then went home with her kids before Relief Society. We have been praying for her and dropped by yesterday to give her some Milo (chocolate drink) and see how she was, but she was sleeping it off. I hope she is doing okay. She is so strong. I know she'll make it.
Teaching Margie and Rogie and Andrea the Law of Chastity was fun. I'll have to just share that one with you all in a few months. haha. I love you all. I know that this gospel changes hearts, lives, and our eternity. Keep the commandments. I dare you. The windows of heaven will open! I hope you all have a great week.

Love, Sister Winward

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Go about doing Good

Dear Family,
Kumusta kamo? Again, I have so much awesomeness to tell you all this week. I hope I remember everything. :)
On Tuesday, we were trying to find some Less-actives in our area, and we unexpectedly found a nami former investigator. His name is Kester. He is a 21 year old fisherman. He is the older brother of a less-active YM and he basically told us right off the bat that he wants to be baptized. His challenge will be that he is gone out at sea most days of the week.
Resfe ann and Eleazar are doing pretty well. Actually, I'm pretty proud of Eleazar. He is determined to do things the right way, so he is planning on going to visit Resfe ann's father in Bugasong to ask if they can get married. He really wants to make things right with her family. How noble. He really does have godly sorrow. They know they have done wrong, and they are so ready to make it right. We are hoping all will be well, and they can get married in August so Resfe ann will be baptized! Yay!
Elna is still doing so great. Lidemae is struggling with her testimony a little. Which is due to the fact that she hasn't come to church for the last few weeks. But Elna can't even wait to be baptized. July 26th can't come fast enough. We taught them about the baptismal covenant. Elna was totally a show off in church yesterday. Joke lang. She just was so excited to answer questions in class and she got them spot on. Yeah! Handa na siya! (She's ready!) Her husband's older brother, Nelbert, wants to learn the gospel as well. Yay! So hopefully that will lead to Elna's husband to be interested.
On Thursday we found a bunch of new investigators. Margie (37) and her daugher Andrea (12), and Margie's boyfriend Rojie (24). And some other various friends of theirs. We OYM'd Margie, and right away she was like, I need you to teach my daughter. Margie and Rojie work up in Boracay (a white-sand-beaches-crystal-blue-oceans tourist spot up north of Kalibo), and they leave Andrea to fend for herself in a boarding house down near where we live. So they will be leaving this week to go back to Boracay, but Margie really wants us to teach Andrea so she can have a relationship with God. They all 3 came to church yesterday and were well fellowshipped. Margie kind of acts all tough, but she shared something in RS and started to cry. She knows Heavenly Father sent us to help her and her family. Plus, they fed us dinner the other night. Yes! :) And they have really great questions.
On Friday, we taught Josie and Arlyn about the Word of Wisdom. Josie accepted it so humbly. She smokes occasionally, but is addicted to coffee. We committed her to stop both, and she was so excited to report to us on Sunday at church that she had gone one whole day without it. She is doing great. She is reading the BOM every time we walk up to her house, and is now up to Jarom. She amazes me. Arlyn is so funny. She ran and grabbed her mom's sachet of coffee. I asked if we could take it and throw it away so she wouldn't be tempted, and she said yes. My companion is also funny. And crazy. Just like Sister Rappleye has done, Sister Viliami unexpectedly committed to Josie that she would quit ice cream AND chocolate until the baptism if Josie will quit coffee forever. haha. Sister V is doing good so far. She was surprised when those words came out of her mouth. haha.
We have been teaching all of our Less Active families about Antique District's Vision. It is called "Back to the Basics." We are just encouraging everyone to strengthen their own spiritual foundation on Jesus Christ by doing 7 very basic gospel things consistently: 1. Daily Family/Personal Prayers, 2. Daily Family/Personal Scripture Study, 3. Weekly Family Home Evenings, 4. Attend all 3 hours of church, 5. Pay full and honest Tithes, 6. Accept and magnify callings (including home and visiting teaching), and 7. Seminary and Institute. Those are some simple building blocks for a strong testimony. And we are trying to show people how super-easy it can be. It doesn't have to be a big production. Even little efforts make a big difference.
As we have been studying the New Testament, Sister Viliami and I have found that we keep having opportunities to live like the Savior. We have been able to be more bold in our teaching over the last transfer, and this week we have gotten many opportunities to give service. Pres. Harold B. Lee said, "Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members." That has been in my mind...I've been asking myself, if our investigators were members, what would a good Visiting Teacher do to take care of them? Hmmm? And as we have taken the opportunities to follow the Spirit and serve, the Lord keeps on giving us more opportunities to do so! Yay! Let me explain what I mean...On Thursday, our investigator Robilyn was not feeling well when we taught her. She had a cold. So then I thought, maybe we should go get her some soup or something. It was not a convenient thing to do. But I remembered this other quote by the wife of Pres. Kimball to: "Never suppress a generous thought." I knew I couldn't ignore it. So we got permission to run to Gaisano real quick and we bought her some soup packets and oranges. We dropped it off real quick and she was thankful. She and her kids came to church! Then on Friday, we went to visit our investigator Myra (it's gonna take a whole other email to explain all about her :) ). Her kid was really sick...throwing up and diarrhea. He couldn't even keep water down. And they are way to poor to take him to the doctor. So we called every Melchizedek Priesthood holder in our answer. Finally the Elders called back and agreed to come later that night. They were able to administer blessings to the little boy, and 3 other people who needed blessings as well. I am grateful we were able to be a part of that. And that Myra was able to witness the power of the priesthood. Then on Saturday, Myra texted us that she was huya (embarrassed/shy) that she didn't have any church clothes to wear. Well, guess which sister missionaries had a box full of church clothes from a member to give away? Us! So we took her some outfits and a few extra shirts (they seriously have nothing--Their neighborhood is called Purok Pigado for crying out loud...Purok POOR). She and her family came to church! And then on Sunday, just like Christ told the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 13, we got to serve again! Our investigator, Christine was busy cleaning their house. So we started mopping and washing dishes. She was so happy to not be doing it alone.
I don't share any of this as a way to show our "alms before men," but rather as a testimony that when we apply Christ's words and follow the Spirit, we are given even more opportunities to do the same. People will notice. They do notice. And they, too, will want to be like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Go do some good. I am so grateful for my mission and these priceless experiences He is giving me. I love you all and I hope you all have a great week.
Love, Sister Winward