Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 40-day fast

Mayad na aga! Kumusta kamo tanan? I am excited for you all to start school in a bit. Have fun with your last days of summer! That means I have one school quarter left to be a full-time missionary. Don't any of you start counting down the days, I don't want to know! Shhh.
Some big happenings this last week. We had a great zone training meeting. My favorite part was an activity Elder Asi and Elder Alforque did about the Tree of Life in Lehi's dream. I'll have to explain that one later. We found a new investigator on Tuesday named Laarnie. She was previously taught as a child, and she pulled out an ancient 1980's copy of the Book of Mormon. We'll visit her again this week. I think this time in her life, she is ready. She has 3 kids and separated from her Muslim husband 1 year ago...but her family are all devoted Catholic. This will be interesting. :)
I think I mentioned about Merry Chris (member) before, she went back to work in Kuwait again. :( I'm not too happy about that. It has been hard to see her kids missing her so much. Her daughter, Kit, has been coming to church the last few weeks. We started teaching her, and she has a date, but the challenge will be making sure she has the support she will need to endure, because she is only 10 and the family is mostly less-active. She has some active neighbor kids she goes with, but no one's parents are active members in their whole compound. So that will be a challenge.
Elna was asked to speak in sacrament next week. Her topic is kind of deep...I'll be praying for her to learn and be able to be successful in giving her talk. Robelyn paid her tithing for the first time! She asked me how, and I was very happy to show her. That's the first time that has happened to me in the mission. I love our Recent Converts so much!
I have a new companion!! Sister Viliami was transferred to Leganes, Iloilo (the area I opened for sisters! yay!). My new kaimaw (companion) is Sister Domingo. She is from Nueva Ecija, on Luzon. She is really sweet and likes to giggle. She was baptized when she was 17. She tells everyone she is twins with some famous actress here named Catherine Bernardo. She is funny. She is the total opposite of Sister Viliami. It is kind of like being with my little sister or something. lol. This'll be fun.
Our 16-year-old investigator, wasn't able to come to church yesterday. Her father does not approve of her being baptized. We are not going to give up that easy. We saw Angelica yesterday, while we were walking near her house. She said maybe she won't be taught anymore. We encouraged her to not lose hope or faith, but that Heavenly Father really will help her to overcome this obstacle. We told her we loved her, and walked away. We stopped in at a member's house, which was all in God's timing, because Angelica came back and said, yes, okay Sisters, keep teaching me. She had tears in her eyes. I gave her a hug. We'll teach her tonight. I read in 1Nephi 4:1-3 last night, right before bedtime, and it hit me really hard. I know the Lord can overcome any obstacle. We just need to keep acting in faith. Don't Stop. Just believe it is possible.
Oh yeah, I spoke in sacrament yesterday, about Missionary Work. My talk was nothing remarkable, but at the very end, I felt so much the love Heavenly Father has for the people who were in the congregation. It was overwhelming. Robelyn gave the closing prayer, and did so well. :)
My companion  and I started doing something called the 40-day Fast on Saturday. It is based off a talk by Elder Gene R. Cook. It is basically to refine us so the spirit will be with us even more powerfully. Trying to be more obedient and consecrated in the work we are doing. It was Sister Domingo's idea. She's a genius.
I love you all so much. Have a great week. Be diligent and faithful always.
Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward
Philippines Iloilo Mission
May 2013 to November 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Robelyn is Baptized!

Dear Family, 

How are all of you? I am doing great! This was a crazy week. So much great stuff happened. :) Yay! 

We are still diligently reading the New Testament as a mission. I finally decided to stop being stubborn, and just read with the mission. As a matter of obedience. I'll just have to catch up the 130 pages I skipped later. haha. 

Sister Viliami was invited to attend MLC. We all think this means she will be called as an STL this week, but President is trying really hard to keep transfers a secret, so they said he was just acting weird about the "invited guests" the whole time. hahaha. I got to work in Oton--at it was a BLAST!!! Sister Nonu and I found Cloie and Christina V. when we were assigned in Oton, and last week I got to help teach Christina her first RC lesson, because they are both recent converts now! Yay! I also got to say "hello" to Gloria, the Pollan family, the Lim family, and ran into a few former investigators, like Melan, in the market as well. It was so cool to be back there and have all my memories of Oton come flooding back. And to see that even though the work was challenging, and I didn't see many fruits at the time, but I was able to help make a difference. Sister Viliami had a great time at MLC, she learned a lot, and has shared most of it with me during our companionship studies and inventory this week, so I kind of feel like I attended too. Two places at once, haha. She said she knows MLC molded me into the missionary I am today, and she said she bragged about me to the other sisters, and told them they should all get a chance to be my companion. WHAT?! That was a great compliment. She is not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of person, unlike my cheesy self, so it felt really good to have her appreciation like that. She is an awesome companion, and I know that wherever she goes this week, she will be able to make a huge positive impact in the work. 

Robelyn had a good baptism. She was so excited, she came way early. Her smile was huge. She was confirmed yesterday, and promised that her family will join her one day, including her husband. Her 8-year-old daughter, "Bonie," is solid and we will start teaching her next. The father says that as long as it is really her choice, it is okay with him. He doesn't want them to change their decision when they are older. 

So, once upon a time, we taught this guy named "Bombe" who had a lung sickness. And then on Aug 1 he died. Oh. We've visited his widow a few times, right now they are still doing the viewing at their house. Robelyn and we want to go sing a song for them, and then when things have settled down for them a bit, we plan on teaching her about the Plan of Salvation. :) By the way, his widow has 9 kids, and Bombe died on one of their birthdays. 

We have not been able to teach Jay for like a month because he is so busy all the time, but Jen also referred us to her sister, Angelica. She is way sweet. She is 16 and asked Jen if we could teach her. Sister Viliami said she is pretty sure it is just because Angelica thinks we are cool, but she is willing to keep commitments, agreed to be baptized on Sept. 13. We've only taught her once so far, so obviously, her testimony can only grow from here. :) We had Jolina G. (A returned LA) join us for her lesson. Jolina is a miracle herself. Her family was so, just, down, for so long. Whenever we visited them, they just complain and look miserable. But they returned to church, and Jolina is now active in seminary and wants to serve a mission. Just seeing them smile all the time is awesome. We visited her mother, Mary Ann, and she told us that Jolina is the light of their home. She sits out in the yard and reads the BOM all the time. She's only 14, but she is a shining example to her family. Wow! 

Yesterday, we ate SO. MUCH. FOOD. We were all certain we were going to explode. haha. We had another "cottage meeting" at the Sessions' with the Branch and District leadership. We discussed getting callings for the RCs and returning LAs, and many other things. The work is going well. We can never stop improving. :) Before that, we had an FHE at the Villavert's home. We invited Elna and her family. The Villaverts particularly invited her husband, Robert, by visiting him at work last week. Elna told us he wasn't going to come, but then, SURPRISE, he did. He was really shy because there were a lot of people, but I think he had fun. Elna texted us afterward and was so happy. I hope Robert will see her happiness and learn for himself the true joy the gospel will bring into his life. 

One thing I have been learning, is the power of specific prayer. Heavenly Father will grant our righteous desires. We need to trust in His will always. But He definitely trusts us to make wise decisions as we study the gospel. Elder Sessions told us, "The Lord loves a decision maker." Sister Viliami has shared two experiences that illustrate how specific prayers really work. Back in April, when Sister Nonu was her companion, they got way punted one day. So they prayed and told Heavenly Father that they were going to a specific place in 5 minutes, and to please put someone prepared in their path that they could teach. And that is how they found Elna. A funny example is that one night Sister Viliami decided she wanted to wake up a little early so she could do her laundry, but she didn't want to set an alarm, because she didn't want to wake me up. So she prayed and asked Heavenly Father to wake her up at 5:00 am. While she was sleeping, she smacked her head on the wall, looked at the clock, and low-and-behold, it was 5:00 am sharp. :) haha. Heavenly Father will answer prayers, and He also has a good sense of humor. 

I love the mission. It is the greatest experience in the world! I hope you all have a great week. Pray specifically for the things you need in your lives, and Heavenly Father will make His plan known. I love you all. 

Love, Sister Winward