Friday, October 24, 2014

"The Time is Far Spent"

Dear Family, 

How are all of you? I have decided that my theme song for this week is "The Time is Far Spent," next week is "God Be with You til We Meet Again," and the week after that is "America the Beautiful." (There's more where that came from, brace yourselves for corny missionary humor. Awkward.) 

Anyway...HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY. My gorgeous sister has a big birthday.  Also clear the roads, she's gonna start learning how to drive. YIKES! (Me relearning how to drive is probably a scarier prospect though. haha) 

This week in the Book of Mormon I really enjoyed studying Alma 26 and 29...where Ammon and Alma are rejoicing in the Lord and full to the brim with gratitude for their missions. I feel like I have that in common with them. As I have been reflecting a bit on my mission, I know that I am still so far from perfect, but somehow the Lord has been able to use me as an instrument in His hands for furthuring His eternal plan and purposes, even if only a little bit. I have learned so much. I have learned so much about how to learn the gospel and live it. I am so grateful for the experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the growth I have personally had as a missionary and servant of my Savior, and for the change I have seen in those around me through the gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't want this to end, but I know there is a time and season to all things. 

This week we continued working on finding the less actives in our area. We contacted Brother Paul last week and taught him twice this week. We held one of our appointments with him at the church, which was perfect for some instant fellowshipping. The only thing that has been holding him back for the last 5 years has been shyness. But he is friends already with so many of the members. Paul and Glen came to church this week. Yay!!! Elder Sessions always reminds us that we need to view the rescue with just as much value as baptisms. A returned or a converted soul are just the same to the Lord, He wants us all to progress forward in faith on the path He has prepared. 

Last Wednesday, Sister Ribelin and I had an awesome day on exchanges. We had a treasure hunt in Madrangca for the less actives on our list, and actually found some solid investigators, like Renz, who has at least 10 piercings, and was so excited to look up :) In the evening we taught Kitkit, and found out that her grandma was going to take her to Manila for two weeks. Including the week of her baptism. I felt like I hit a brick wall. Seriously??? My last chance to see one of my investigators reach the waters of baptism is being taken away? What? No no no no no. Sister Ribelin suggested that we fast as a household for Kitkit. So we did. All four of us fasted that Kitkit will be baptized on Oct. 30 and that she woud somehow not go to Manila. And it happened! Simple as that! Her grandma decided it would cost to much and not be worth it to take Kitkit along for the trip. I am so grateful for the power of fasting. And I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows us so perfectly and individually. I don't think I could've gotten through that one without Sister Ribelin. And we didn't even know, but Oct. 30 is Kitkit's father's birthday. Perfect! I know that everything about my mission has been prepared by the Lord. His hand is in everything. And the closer I am to Him the more I notice it. It is amazing. 

The S family is still doing great. Geraldine read through the whole children's Book of Mormon Stories in one night. And they have been praying for answers. Hernie and Chonna are doing great as well. We taught them about Tithing last night. And Brother Hernie finally made it through all 3 hours of church here in San Jose. :) I am so excited for this area. 

I love you all and I hope you all have a great week. Seek Him and you'll see the miracles that follow. 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, October 20, 2014

Castaway to Sira-an, Anini-y, Antique

Dear Family, 

It has been a great, wild week. Two Fridays ago, there was an earthquake here on Panay (we felt it about a 4 or 5). I forgot to mention it. Then last Friday there was a typhoon. But we're all good. San Jose just got soaked. It was a signal 2 here, according to Sister Domingo, my personal weather woman (Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyen was a 4+). I heard Luzon and Japan got it pretty bad though. 

This morning we went on an awesome adventure! We (the STLs, my comp, some members and I) went to this tiny cute little island called Sira-an down at the bottom of Antique. The beach was white and the water was aquamarine blue. It was soooo beautiful. We hired this sketchy little boat to take us out to the island. We were fairly certain it would capsize, but it's all good. This local girl was showing us around the island. I'll show you the pictures in a couple of weeks. There were little starfish and gorgeous flowers and SO much coral all over the place. If anyone wants a way sick vacation adventure...Antique is where it's at. :) 

This week we started a new project. I decided to get together all of the names of the members that supposedly live in our area. The records aren't all up to date. But we are going to try to find as many of the Less Actives as we can. Some of them haven't been contacted in a long time. We are hoping to further the Rescue and also find some sweet part-member families. I am excited to leave Sister Domingo with lots more to do and lots of opportunities on her hands. This work will not stop moving forward, especially not in San Jose A. I know the Lord is guiding us. Even if I personally don't see all the fruits of my mission, which I know I won't, I know I have planted as much as I can so far. We don't do this work alone. We truly need each other and we need unity so the work is a continuous effort. 

I am grateful for the opportunity we had this weekend to watch General Conference. Just because a bunch of people have asked about how things work here in the Philippines: General Conference is sent here from the Area Office on DVDs the week following the live broadcast, then we get to watch it the next Saturday and Sunday together in the Stake/District Center. And this Saturday we get to watch the Womens' Broadcast. Yay! General Conference is like Christmas to missionaries. Every talk is like a gift under the tree. (By the way, there are 72 days until Christmas.) I especially like the theme of loving and sustaining the Prophet and our leaders in the church and trusting the revelation they receive. The living Lord leads His living Church....and why would a living being ever stop speaking? That is the principle of continuous revelation. I am so thankful for the power of prayer and for every opportunity to teach about prayer. Just last night, we were able to teach Francis and Nerisa and the rest of their family that it is okay to be frank with our Heavenly Father. He wants that kind of open, honest communication from us. How else would the young Joseph Smith have received his answer if he hadn't asked the question that burned in his soul? Sometimes our investigators just get stuck in their prayers. So do most of us. It takes more consideration than ordering at the drive thru window. It is not meant to be rushed through. It is good to be grateful, but not to be repetitive. Or to ignore the problems and questions we all have. So talk to Him about it. He'll help you figure it all out and have peace. That is such a key to missionary work. Those who stop progressing are those who haven't tried to ask Him to know the truth. It makes a huge difference. 

I am so proud of Robelyn, too. She stayed for both of the Sunday sessions and took notes and was so excited to see the prophet. She makes me want to be a better member and to help the other members to be so excited about the gospel too. She is an amazing example to me. I am excited for her to be sustained in her calling next week!!! Moving forward! 

I love you all! Remember to read and pray every day! Have and Excellent week! 

Love, Sister Winward

Sister Cassie Winward

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sacred Time