"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." -Alma 26:12

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Vui Choro [Elder Vui] is from Samoa, and his mom sent us all lava lavas, so of course we had to take a picture in them.

Class makes us all pretty tired sometimes. There's just nothing we can do about it.

Minasan Konnichiwa,
     It's crazy to think about it, but I'm now over halfway done with my time at the MTC. It feels like I just got here yesterday, but I've also learned so much from my time here. I am starting to feel more confident during our teaching appointments (not prideful, I don't want to be struck down:), and I am beginning to be able to express how I feel about this gospel and how it can bless our investigator's lives. I still have a long way to go, but it's coming along. 
     This Sunday, we were able to hear from Stephen B. Allen again. He spoke our first week in the MTC as well, and I enjoyed this talk as much as the first. One story he shared was about a young boy that was taking a road trip with two of his friends. He was driving on a long, straight stretch of highway and everyone was getting tired. His friends were asleep, and his eyes were starting to close, so he tried to find ways to stay awake. He realized that since the road was so straight, if he looked in the rearview mirror and watched the line on the road behind him, he could continue to drive the car this way (great idea, right? What could possibly go wrong?). Out of nowhere, a semi-truck roared in front of him, scaring him out of his wits. No accident occurred, but if it had, it would have been deadly. Elder Allen compared this story to our lives- if we keep focusing on past mistakes and challenges, we are bound to end up in even more trouble.
    On a lighter note, we challenged one of the other districts to a volleyball game, and it caused some interesting problems. We won, of course, but that wasn't even the best part. One of the people in the other districts is from Eagle, her name is Lauren Riggs. She was in my seminary class one year, and she is also friends with Brennan. At one point, she and my companion were both going for the ball, and they collided through the net. Both got up and were fine, with no apparent injuries. But when we saw them later that day, Riggs Shimai had a HUGE black eye (yes, I'll attach a picture). It was so funny, everyone was teasing Messick Choro about it, but he and Riggs Shimai took it pretty well.
     That's all I have for this week. Mom or dad, if you want to make sure Brennan hears about the last story, that would be great. I'm sure she'll get a kick out of it.
Love you all,
-Elder Winegar

Halfway point! 8/20/2015

Minasan Konnichiwa!
     I can't believe I've already been in the MTC for over a month! Time flies here, I feel like I just got in a couple weeks ago. It helps that they always keep us so busy. I gave my first talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday, which was pretty tough. Our talks are supposed to be 3 minutes in length, with a scripture, a couple sentences from Preach My Gospel, and a testimony ALL IN JAPANESE. Oh, and we aren't told who is speaking until the meeting starts. It was actually a great experience for me though, because I could feel Heavenly Father strengthening me so that I would have the courage to say what I know to be true. My companion and I also got to teach Priesthood meeting (luckily, that one is in English). Later that night, we had a special devotional. The Nashville Tribute Band (if you haven't heard of them, you should look them up- they are amazing!) gave a short concert, and all of us in the choir got to sing a couple songs with them. There were over a thousand missionaries in the choir that day. They brought such a special spirit through their music, and they truly knew that Christ was their savior and redeemer, and that God is our loving Heavenly Father.
     Our Tuesday devotional was pretty great too. Elder Echo Hawk spoke about what we need to do to become better missionaries. He said that we need to decide right now that we will never be afraid to open our mouths to share the gospel, and to act in a way that would be pleasing to our Heavenly Father. This is something that I have been trying to work on, to put my trust completely in the Lord and let Him guide my words and actions. 
     Other than that, things are still relatively the same. We are still teaching lessons almost every day in Japanese, which is really tough for me. I've gotten so much better at answering questions posed by the people being taught, though. I still have a long way to go, but there are so many people willing to help me out. I found out that we get to skype with native Nihonjin in a couple weeks to teach them a lesson- I'm sure that will be a fun experience. 
     Thanks again for all your letters- it's really great to know how everyone's doing and that home is still home. 
-Elder Winegar

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Minasan Konnichiwa! (Hello everyone),
Hope you are all doing well, I don't have too much to report on this week. We are studying hard all the time. We are trying so hard to learn both the language of Japanese and of the spirit, and even though some days are harder than others, I believe we are are always making progress. It's still really difficult for me to communicate effectively with our Japanese investigators, but when I rely on Heavenly Father for help, He has made it possible for me to understand what the investigators are saying and feeling. I guess that's all part of the gift of tongues.
Anyways, our devotional speaker this week was Elder C. Scott Grow. Yes, we all had a laugh about the name too, but he was an incredible speaker. He talked about serving the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. I especially liked how he compared the story of Nephi to missionary work. When Nephi was commanded to get the brass plates from Laban, he was willing to do whatever it took. He wasn't discouraged after his first two failures to obtain the plates, and he continued to rely on the Lord for strength. I am striving every day to have as much faith as Nephi had, and I know that if I can do this, miracles truly can happen.
One thing that I've thought a lot about since I've been here is that I wish I would have been more willing to share the gospel before my mission. I know that I'm going to love the people in Japan, but there is a part of me that wishes I was able to serve both in Japan and back home. While we were at choir practice this week, our director told us that we should be sharing the gospel with enthusiasm, not with apology. He used a great analogy to describe his point. He said if we were going around handing out gold bricks, we wouldn't be saying 'I have some gold bricks here if you want some, but I understand why you wouldn't want any'. I know that the gospel is worth more than all the gold in the world, so why should I be afraid to share it? I hope you all can feel the same way, and you won't be afraid to teach others about this amazing gospel that can bless their lives so much. It gives us purpose in life, helps us to be constantly improving ourselves, and we can always turn to our Heavenly Father for strength and guidance.
That's all I have to say right now, I miss you all and hope you are having fun out in the real world. I can't wait to get to Japan, but I guess I still have a few weeks to go.
Elder Winegar

Week 2 at the MTC (8/6/2015)

Elder Winegar and companion Elder Messick - MTC

Hey everyone,
Just writing to let you know that my week was better than yours. Last week I told you how Kyle Collinsworth's dad was in our branch presidency, and that I was hoping Kyle would come and give a devotional sometime before we left the MTC. It came a lot sooner than I expected, he showed up late Thursday night for a surprise devotional. We were told by our senpai (older missionaries in our district) during dinner to go right away to the devotional, and not to tell anyone. We rushed over as fast as we could, and heard most of his devotional.
One of the things he said that really struck me was that here in the mission field, God is the coach of this team. Unlike mortal coaches (yes, even Greg Popovich), whatever play He calls will work every time, no matter what. We must put our faith in Him, and be willing to act on whatever promptings He gives us. Afterwards, I got to talk to him a little, and I even got a picture with him (again, I will send pictures once I have an SD card reader).
While it was awesome to hear from Kyle, he wasn't even the best speaker we heard that week. For our Sunday night devotional, we were able to hear from Sheri Dew (I'm guessing mom will be the only person to know who she is, but she is the owner of Deseret Book). She was an amazing speaker. My favorite part of her talk was when she challenged us to gain a greater understanding of Jesus Christ as our Savior and redeemer. She asked "Are you willing to engage in a spiritual wrestling" to know if these things are true? If we truly have a desire to know more about this gospel, and we express this desire to Heavenly Father, He will bless us with answers.
Again, Sheri Dew was an awesome speaker, but still not the best. On Tuesday night, we were told to get to the devotional early and to find a good seat. We weren't told who would be speaking, but we were given certain instructions if it just "happened" to be an apostle. When the meeting was about to start, President Russel M. Nelson walked into the room! He gave an amazing talk about how we all need to become living epistles of God, shining bright for everyone to see how the gospel has blessed our lives. He told us that to have a true witness of the gospel, we must have the doctrine of Christ written in our hearts. Just from hearing him speak, I knew that he is a true apostle of God, and that he spoke with the spirit.
Other than that, my week has been pretty uneventful. I feel like I'm adjusting to life in the MTC, and I'm so grateful to be able to feel the spirit so frequently throughout my time here. I love to read all of your e-mails, keep them coming. Hope everyone is doing well!
-Elder Winegar

Thursday, August 6, 2015

First P-Day (7-30-2015)

Hey Everyone,
I'm so glad to finally get a chance to talk to you! It's also great to have a day to slow down and relax a little bit. It feels like it's been nonstop since I got onto the plane. First of all I have to say that I love flying! I'm looking forward to going to Japan.
The first day, most of our classes were in English, but I was so tired from the long night of packing that I was falling asleep all day. The next day, classes were almost entirely in Japanese, which was (understandably) difficult for all of us. One of our leaders shared this saying with us that day: Those called to preach in their own language come back and become scriptorians, those that speak a language easier than their own come back and become linguists, and those called to preach the gospel in Japan come back humble. I can definitely testify to that! Not only am I unable to understand much, I can't even read the language. I have definitely felt the gift of tongues, though, and I have learned so much already.
I have been blessed with an amazing companion (Elder Messick), and a great district. I would send pictures, but I don't have an SD card reader. We have already grown so close, and I can always feel the spirit during testimony meetings and classes. We have an awesome teacher too. His name is Kosaka Kyodai (Brother Kosaka), and he is a native Japanese speaker, so I'm hoping our Japanese will sound pretty good. We have already been teaching a Japanese "investigator", which has been really hard. I don't understand much of what is said, but my comp took 4 years of Japanese, so he is able to help me out.
I have no complaints about the food, they never run out and they have lots of options. I am still getting used to the tight schedule though, there is always something to do and somewhere to be. I do enjoy being forced to go to bed by10:30 though- much better than late nights studying. Our branch presidency is amazing too- here's some exciting news- Kyle Collinsworth's dad is in the presidency (For the uncultured among you, Kyle is on the BYU basketball team and is tied for the NCAA most triple-doubles in a single season and career). I'm hoping he'll be able to come give a devotional to our zone sometime. I haven't gotten to play basketball as much as I would like, but I did get to play with Aaron Piscione (in Wyatt's ward), which was really cool. Wyatt is on a different schedule than me, so I haven't seen him much. He is already leaving next Tuesday, which seems so weird to me.
Anyways, I'm having a great experience here, and they are keeping us all really busy. It's been great to hear about everything that's been going on at home. Wish you all luck, and tell everyone I love them and miss them. Please forward this on to anyone who wants it.
Elder Winegar