"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

Friday, October 23, 2015


This week has been filled with fun experiences, and punctuated by one amazing miracle. I want to save the best for last, so I'll start with the fun stuff. We had two opportunities to kokan (go on missionary exchanges), first with our zone leaders and then with the other elders in our apartment. Our zone leaders are amazing, I wouldn't hesitate to say they are the best zone leaders in the mission. Their names are Dos Santos chourou and Ahmu chourou. Dos Santos chourou is Brazilian, speaks like 6 or 7 languages fluently, and is the iPad technician over the entire mission. Ahmu chourou is one of the most lovable missionaries ever, he just has an awesome personality that everyone talks about. He served in Kouchi almost 5 months ago, and the members still talk about him. I got to kokan with Ahmu chourou, and we basically got to spend the day visiting with members and old investigators that wanted to see Ahmu chourou again. I had a lot of fun, and I also learned a lot about loving the people we serve.

Later in the week, we went on a kokan with the elders in our apartment, and I was with our district leader this time, Bahr chourou. Among other things, we visited a huge apartment complex that was way sketchy. It was a huge white, sprawling building that looked like every once in a while a new layer had haphazardly been added on. None of the layers were straight, or even in line with one another. There were ramps that led from layer to layer, and some that led into a deep basement garage that looked like it was used more for serial killers' hideouts than cars (it only looked like it though, obviously there weren't any serial killers there). There were strange dark alleys between rooms, and junk everywhere. I think you get the picture, but it basically looked like something straight out of a horror movie. I was wondering why there would be anyone here that would want to hear our message, but by the end of the night we had found 3 awesome people that wanted to hear more about what we had to say. There was a mom and her son who live alone,'and the mom has her own stain-glass window "company". The "company" consists only of her, and takes up a small table in their small one-room living space. It was obvious that she loves her son very much, and works hard to support the two of them. We had a good talk with them, and got a return appointment. The next man we visited was a devout Christian, but was way open to us. We both pulled out our scriptures, he with the bible and us the Book of Mormon, and we spent some time talking about God and our favorite scriptures. We ended up giving him a Book of Mormon at the end, and from his response, I actually think he is going to read the entire thing. If he allows it into his heart, I know it will change his life- the Book of Mormon is absolutely amazing, and I've heard countless stories of conversion through it. The last guy was just a quick contact. He said he was busy right then but asked us to come back tomorrow at the same time. These three people were testaments to me that God is preparing His children everywhere- there are no requirements of money, fame, or any other worldly standard. He desires to share His love with each one of us not because of what we have, but because of what we are. We are His children, and He would do anything to help us.

Besides the kokan, we also got to do something special for P-day today. We woke up at 3:30 this morning to bike/hike up a mountain to have a great view of Kouchi and the rising sun. It was way early, but well worth it. Our dendou shunnin kaicho (ward missionary leader) even woke up to come with us. It was great to spend some time with everyone as we enjoyed the amazing scene of God's creations. I don't know how people can look at the beauty of the world around them and say that no one is responsible for creating it. After hiking back down the mountain and doing a few chores (shopping, cleaning, etc) we all crashed for a few hours for a nap. (Actually, the other three elders are still asleep right now)

Now comes the best part of the week. On Tuesday night we taught Yan san again. This was only our second lesson with him, but we could feel his desire to learn of God and Jesus Christ, and to follow him. We decided to ask if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized, and he immediately agreed! We still have a lot to teach him before he can get baptized, but his faith is a great example to me. I am so excited to see the joy that this gospel will bring to his life. I also know that he was another person that was prepared to hear our message long before we met him. We didn't do anything to instill in him the desire to follow Jesus Christ, nor can we. We can only follow the power of God's spirit and open opportunities for people to feel that spirit as well. I have come to know that this is absolutely not the work of men, but the work of our Heavenly Father. I am so thankful to be an instrument in His hand, and to serve these amazing people of Japan.


Our morning hike to see the sunrise

Kouchi is actually a dangerous place - this week alone I got chased by a dragon and almost eaten by a shark

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Lord works in mysterious ways - 10/12/2015

Minasan konnichiwa,

First of all, I have to apologize to everyone I haven't been able to email. These last few weeks have been crazy, and it seems like there is always something that needs to get done. I will try to keep this email short so that I can have more time to catch up on my other emails.

This has been a great week for missionary work (obviously every week is good for missionary work, right?). We have done a lot of contacting on the street and through housing, with very mixed results. There are the people that immediately refuse our message, those that politely decline, and then there are those who are genuinely interested, and want to learn more. My heart almost jumps out of my chest every time we find one of these people, or when we get a return appointment. In just a few short weeks, we have taken a newly opened mission and filled it with a few solid investigators. We are always striving to find more, but we are feeling like we have a good base to work with now.

One of our new investigators is Yan San. I can't remember if I already talked about him, but I'll tell his story again anyways because it's amazing. We were handing out fliers for english class one day when a man pulled up in front of us on his bike. Without any invitation from us, he asked us if we had a church and if he could come. We told him that he could definitely come! He didn't show up the next week, and we were disappointed that he actually might not come. But then he came to General Conference this past Sunday. We met with him afterwards, and he said that he loved the atmosphere at the church, how everyone seemed like a family. He also told us why he had wanted to come to church. He had some Protestant friends that he was talking to, and they brought up the idea that he should start going to church. He didn't think much about it, but the next day he saw us and was excited to talk to us. Who would have thought that our first referral would come through a group of protestant friends? The Lord truly works in mysterious ways!

Speaking of General Conference, this last conference was truly amazing. I received so much counsel and so many answers to my questions. I know that all of the men and women that spoke are truly called and inspired by God. This is definitely the most I have ever gotten out of a General Conference, as my preparation and focus have been somewhat lacking in the past. I think staying awake through the whole thing might also help, too! All kidding aside, i am realizing now how amazing our opportunity is to hear from God's servants and receive their advice and warnings. I also feel like it is becoming more and more important to heed their words as the standards/morals of the world continue to digress. I know that I need to return to the fundamentals of the gospel. Through prayer, scripture study, and church attendance my life has improved so much, and can improve even more. These things give me the strength to keep going when I feel like giving up, give me direction for my life, and provide opportunities to grow and attempt things I never would have done on my own. I can see them change my life, and I have the added blessing of seeing them change the lives of those I am teaching right now.

It is so hard to be away from my family and friends, people that I have grown to know and love, but it has changed my perspective on what is important in life. I testify almost every day to people how families can live together forever, and I know that I want that for my family. I miss seeing my family after only 3 months, and I know that I will see them again in two years. I can't imagine not being able to live with them for all eternity. That is the joy of our message, that we can all live with our families together forever, and we can all be saved through Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement.

That's all for my (not so) short email. As always, I love and miss you all!

-Elder Winegar

Monday, October 5, 2015

Veteran missionary! - 10/5/2015

Hello everyone!

     Now that I've been in Japan for almost two weeks now, I'm starting to feel like a veteran! (Just kidding, I still don't know anything). One of the elders in my apartment is going home in December, and we figured out that if we put both our missions together, we would make a whole mission. It really put my mission into perspective, both how much I have left, and how short it really is. All I can do is just try to enjoy it as much as I can.
     I did a lot of that today, and I got to try so many new things. My companion and one of the other elders in our apartment wanted to take a nap today, so Bahr choro took me out to see more of Kochi city. We went to the shotengai first (kind of like an outdoor shopping mall), and had Indo curry. It was way good, I'll attach a picture of it. They give us a bowl of curry and start us out with a huge piece of bread/scone-type thing to dip in the curry. The best part is that the bread was all-you-can-eat, and Bahr choro and I both ate five pieces.
     Then we went to Kochi castle, which was even cooler. Japanese castles are amazing, Bahr choro explained a lot about how they would defend their castles in ancient times, and it sounded way effective. I know I would never have tried to attack one of those castles.
     While seeing the castle was really cool, it couldn't even begin to compare to the people we have been able to help and teach. We are making a big effort to strengthen the members of the church, and even though it's only been a week and a half, I already feel like they are growing in their faith. With six missionaries in one area, it feels like Kochi is being prepared for something big. There are so many people that we have found that have never learned about our church, but have been prepared by God to hear our message. A lot of young people seem to be especially receptive of the spirit. Our most solid investigator is still Okada San, the 15 year old boy that is an absolute genius. He talks about really complex ideas he has had during our lessons, and he already seems to have figured out a lot of the stuff we teach him.
     We are also trying to help a lot of less-active members. We haven't started our efforts yet, but I'm excited to help them return to the covenants they have made to follow God and Jesus Christ. Our teaching pool is still small, but growing every day. One of the most amazing things I saw this week came as we were out housing. We hadn't planned to go housing, but on our way to visit a less-active member, my companion felt we should go knock on some other doors. He made me do the contacting for every other door we went to, and I was pretty nervous. I could barely say more than a few simple phrases about who we were and that we wanted to share a message, but we found a lot of success. In about an hour we had found seven new potential investigators to teach. It was an amazing experience, and it helped my confidence a lot. I learned that it doesn't matter whether we can speak well, as long as we try our best the spirit will do all the important work.
     There were so many other awesome experiences I had this week, but I don't have time to write them all. I am having an awesome time in Japan, it's changing me so much and I am learning lots about myself, this gospel, and my Father in Heaven. I love my mission and this area, and I am so lucky to be here. Thank you everyone for your love, emails, and prayers!

-Elder Winegar

Kochi castle

statues of samurai next to train station

Indo curry