"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

Monday, April 25, 2016

4/24/2016 Kurashiki!!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

Sorry that I missed you all last week, but last week was transfers and we had a bit of a crazy day/week! On Monday morning we decided to try and get Elder Madruga's bike fixed, and we had an investigator that offered to do it for free, so we headed over to his place. On the way, though, we received a call from our Mission President, President Welch. (Just to let everyone know, we only ever get transfer calls from Welch kaicho if a missionary becomes a district leader, zone leader, or trainer, so we were pretty scared). It turns out that my companion would be transferring to a nearby area to be the new zone leader! Way to go Madruga! After that news I figured I would stay, but boy, was I wrong. The next day I got a call from the zone leaders saying that I was transferring too. I will be staying in the same zone, but my new area is Kurashiki. The best part is that my companion is... Elder Tanaka! He was in the same zone as me when I first came into the mission, and yes, 100% Japanese. He is from Sendai (Northern Japan) loves to dance, and does so every chance he gets. Literally, every chance- in between knocking on doors while housing, in the morning before study, at night before bed, during mealtimes, you name it. Maybe he'll teach me how to dance, but I don't think I have much hope. We'll see. I'll also get to speak a lot of Japanese this transfer, and I'm hoping to improve a ton with his help.

Anyways, it was way hard to leave Izumo, especially since we weren't able to say goodbye to hardly any of our investigators or members. I love that area so much, and I know that it is going to continue to grow and progress. Oh, I almost forgot the biggest news of all. Elder Madruga was supposed to transfer to a new area, which meant that both of us would be leaving and there would be no Brazilian coming in to replace him, so we were worried that all of our Brazilian investigators would drop. But at the last minute before transfers on Wednesday, we received a call from the Assistants to the President saying that Madruga would not transfer, and that the Zone Leader area would move to Izumo! Way big news, especially since Izumo is still a branch, not even a ward yet. Did I mention I love Izumo! The members there are so awesome, and we have worked really hard to build up our teaching pool, so I think some big things are coming to Izumo soon.

I haven't had much time in my new area yet because we had our Stake Conference this past Saturday and Sunday, so I don't know very many of the members or investigators yet, but I am way excited for the opportunity to work in a new area with new people. I know that I'm going to have to rely on the Lord more than ever this transfer, so that I can communicate with my companion, and so that I can teach and work more effectively. While it is important to study the language and be able to communicate effectively, I am constantly reminded of the fact that as long as I do what I can to speak the things that are put into my heart, the Lord will magnify my words. It seems that those times when I have absolutely no idea how to say what I want to say and still try anyways, those are the times that the Spirit is present the most. I am truly thankful to know that because of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, we don't have to be perfect. We are meant to do all that we can do, and then He will make up all the rest. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Stake Conference- met up with a recent convert from Kouchi, my first area!

4/19/2016 No letter

Elder Winegar didn't have time to write an email on his pday but did get permission to write a short letter home later. Due to the earthquakes in Japan, he wanted to let us know that his doing well and everything is fine in his area.  He said "we felt only a tiny bit of earthquake this past week, so little that I didn't even wake up during the night.  Everyone was talking about it the next day, though, so I was glad to hear that all the missionaries in Fukuoka were safe." (He has a good friend serving in the Fukuoka mission.)

4/11/2016 General Conference

Minnasan konnichiwa!

I'm sorry to be a week behind everyone, but we were able to watch General Conference this past Saturday and Sunday, and it was amazing! I can say for sure that I know there is a prophet of God on the Earth today, and that he receives revelation to guide us and protect us in these latter days. One of my favorite talks from this past conference was from Elder Holland. I felt the truth of his words as he encouraged us all to look forward to tomorrow with hope rather than fear. The only way we are able to have this hope within us is through relying on the love of our Father in Heaven, and in His Son, Jesus Christ. Elder Holland stated that it is only through that knowledge "burning in our hearts" that "we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor." I hope to have this same knowledge burning in my heart, so that I can continue onward through trials and challenges with a perfect brightness of hope in Christ. I also loved the scripture that he shared in closing, found in Joshua 3:5- “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” I am so excited to see the wonders the Lord will perform, so I am working to sanctify myself!

General Conference and a trip to Okayama for a Zone Training Meeting took up a lot of our time this week, and we also spent a lot of time preparing for an activity this next week, a big Brazilian barbecue! We are trying to get around 50 people to the activity, so there is a lot of preparation for us to do, but I am too excited for this awesome activity to feel stressed about things like preparation or getting enough people to the activity. I'll make sure to take pictures of all the Brazilian meat, because it might be the only real Brazilian barbecue I ever get.

I don't have much else to share from this past week, so I'll share a cool experience we had today. My companion recently was in a little bike accident, and his wrist has been hurting a little, so we made an appointment at the hospital for today. This morning with about 10 minutes left before the appointment, we couldn't find his wallet anywhere. We turned the entire apartment upside-down looking for it, because we wouldn't be able to do anything without his insurance card and foreign residence card. We looked everywhere, but we couldn't find it. We knew that we were running out of time, so we decided to kneel down and pray for help in finding the wallet. We finished the prayer,
started looking around some more, and found the wallet soon after- in a place we had already looked! I know that God hears our prayers, and that He cares about our small concerns. If we will take the time to ask Him for His help, He will always provide it. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

We had a missionary blitz in Matsue- It was really wet!
(A missionary blitz is a majority of missionaries working in one area to increase investigators. Not much success with so much rain and hardly anyone on the streets to find.)

Matsuyama zone is back together.

4/4/2016 Sakura!!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

This week has been another good one! We started off the week with interviews from President Welch. He is so awesome, and I always learn so much from him. This time he shared some of the things he was learning from reading the Book of Mormon, and he gave me an amazing answer to a question I had from my own study. All in all, it was a great experience. The sisters had a baptism again on Sunday, and we were able to participate in the confirmation. Our branch has seen a lot of growth recently, and it is way exciting to see! We are witnessing miracles all the time, and it is all thanks to God. This is truly His work, and He is helping us to find the people that are ready to hear our message.

Speaking of our awesome branch, this past weekend we were able to go see sakura (cherry blossoms) with a family in the branch. We all brought something, and had a nice potluck picnic. Then later that night, we played soccer at a nearby gym. It was pretty fun, but my companion is basically a pro (he had a scholarship to play in college back in Brazil), so I definitely got showed up a little bit.

One of my favorite experiences from this week was meeting with Bandai san. He has been an investigator for a long time, but has been really busy with work lately, and hasn't had time to meet with us. I had never met him in two transfers, but we were finally able to set up an appointment with him. We went to his house, and had an awesome lesson with him. He was attentive the whole time we were there, and every time we shared a scripture with him, he would make a note of it in a special notebook he had. He told us that he has a hard time in always following through on the things the missionaries have asked him to do in the past, but that he really respects our beliefs and the things w teach. When we shared one particular scripture and asked him what he thought about it, he simply answered "It's true". I couldn't help but smile at that answer, because that is exactly how I feel.
It's true. This gospel is true, Jesus Christ is our Savior, and God is our loving Heavenly Father. I can't deny this truth, because it has been proved to me countless times in seeing the hand of the Lord in
our lives each day. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



We love the members! (Especially Mark kyodai)

3/28/2016 Happy Easter!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

I hope you all had (or are having) a great Easter! I'm not going to lie, my companion and I thought that Easter was next week. It wasn't until we were reading emails today that we realized we had missed it, and hadn't celebrated it at all. How ironic that missionaries, people that are called to preach about Christ can forget to celebrate Easter! But in all reality, I know that we celebrated it in the best way I can possibly imagine, by helping people come unto Christ and make sacred covenants with their Father in Heaven. My companion gave a talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday, and shared a story that I absolutely love. Many of you have probably heard it, but please bear with me if you have.

After death, three men wait to be judged of their works during their lives. The first is brought before an angel standing in front of two gates. The angel asks the man one question, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" The man responds that he never had an opportunity to know Christ, but that he lived an honorable life, and had done many good works throughout his life. After he related all this, the angel gestured to one gate, saying, "you had no opportunity to learn of Christ during your life, and you did much good during your life, so you will be given an opportunity to learn, but for now, you will pass through this gate," and the man departed. The next man came, and was asked the same question. He replied confidently, "I have studied of Christ all my life, and I know all about Him. I went to church, and I did everything that was asked of me." The angel thanked him for all that he had done, but then gestured to the same gate as before. "You have truly done good throughout your life in learning of Christ, but I believe you still have a little more to learn. Please, continue on this path," and the second man departed as well. Finally, the third man approached the angel. The angel asked the question once more, "do you know Jesus Christ?" The man fell down before Him, crying, "Yea, Lord, I know thee!" The angel was none other than Jesus Christ, and the man had recognized Him for who He was. With tears in His eyes, Jesus pulled the man to his feet. "Thou hast truly learned of me, and you shall receive of all that I have."

The true test in this life is not to know all that there is to know about Jesus Christ, but to develop a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior through relying on His Atonement. I would invite you all to ask yourselves, "Do I know Jesus Christ?" If we truly develop that personal relationship with our Savior, we will be able to look upon Him without fear, knowing as the third man did that we will receive of all that He has to offer us. I say these things in the name
of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Izumo District!

Our late Easter "celebration"

3/14/2016 Transfers

Minnasan konnichiwa,

I'm writing to you all today from the wonderful area of Izumo! Yes, transfers came and went, and I stayed here. My companion transferred out, though, going to Omihachiman to train a new missionary. He left on Wednesday last week to get to Kobe in time to pick up his trainee. While he traveled there, I stayed with Vui choro over in Matsue as his companion transferred as well. I was able to spend two awesome, fun-filled days with him, and was able to witness firsthand his amazing, spirit-led teaching.

Our new companions arrived on Thursday night, and I was going crazy with anticipation. My new companion ended up not being a new companion at all, but rather my old companion from two transfers ago, MADRUGA CHORO!!!! He had just come from Kouchi, so he was able to give me an update on all of our old investigators. It was so nice to hear how well everyone was doing, even his last companion (love you Pagel(^-^)/ !). Sometimes I still can't believe that we are companions for another transfer, but I figure there must be something God wants me to learn that I didn't get last time. I'll make sure it sticks this time, because I don't think I'll get another chance.

Other than that, not much is new here. We are continuing to work harder than ever to strengthen the testimonies of our investigators, and we are seeing some exciting things being brought to pass in the Japan Kobe Mission. Yesterday at church, we saw one of the Sister's investigators, the one that got baptized last week, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The strength of her testimony continues to amaze me, and I know she is going to stay true to the things that she has learned and felt. We were also able to meet with one of our investigators that we haven't seen in a while. He told us that he just
needed a small break, which is why he wouldn't return any of our calls. He said to us that he was fine now, and that he would like us to continue to come and visit him and his family. Other small miracles like this are happening all the time, and especially in this past week. I am so excited for the future, although I may not be in this area much longer.

I would just like to leave my simple testimony with you all that Heavenly Father is real, and that He loves each one of us. He knows each of us individually, and desires for us all to be happy. Not only that, He provided us with a way to achieve the greatest happiness possible in this life. He gave His only Begotten Son as a sacrifice for all mankind, that we can overcome all of our trials. I love Him so much for that, and the best way I know to repay that love is to spread this happiness with the rest of His children. I would like to invite you all to read from the Book of Mormon, I can promise that it is truly the word of God. He offers us so much happiness if we will only learn of Him and follow His commandments. This last week I was reading in Mosiah chapter 2, and it spoke a lot about this same happiness. I won't share any individual scriptures from the chapter, but I know that this happiness is extended to everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, EVERYONE can feel this love. I say these things in the name of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
We ate a lot of sushi!

Love Matsue!

Madruga PART ll

3/7/2016 Zone meeting, baptism & bowling :)

Minnasan konnichiwa,

I'm sorry to say I don't have much time to write again, but I'll do my best to give a good, brief update of our week. We had to go to Okayama again for a zone training meeting, which was awesome. We had a big discussion on our study of the Book of Mormon, and what we are learning about Jesus Christ. There were some awesome insights shared, and we only focused on what we read up through Mosiah. After zone training, we went back to our area with the Matsue Elders for companion exchanges. We had a great time with them, and I always learn so much from our talks.

On Sunday we were able to participate in the baptism of one of the Sister's investigators, acting as the witnesses. We could clearly see that she was prepared for baptism and committed to following Jesus Christ's example. Her testimony was so strong, and I know that her choices are leading both her and her family down the path to Salvation and eternal life.

Today we had a pretty full day, because we went bowling with some of our investigators, and the Matsue Elders came again to join in on the fun. While we were waiting to start our games, my companion received a phone call from the Mission President. He found out that he will be training next transfer, and his new area will be Omihachiman. It is literally on the opposite side of the mission, but I'm excited for him, since he started his mission close to that area. I still don't know if I am staying in Izumo or if I will transfer, but I will find out in the next few days. I'm hoping to stay, but we'll see where the Lord will take me! Can't wait to share where I end up next week, love you all and hope you have a great, Spirit-filled week.


Zone Training Meeting


2/29/2016 "Work continuing to move along in Izumo"

Minnasan konnichiwa,

I seem to be at loss for words again this week, but I think it is the fault of too little sleep and too much delicious food. We went to Yonago last night in order for my companion to interview one of the
Yonago Elder's investigators for baptism. We woke up at 4:00 in the morning to prepare for the interview at 6:00 (which he passed- baptism on Saturday!), and then we went straight back to Izumo for lunch with a member. He took us to an all-you-can-eat restaurant, so of course, I loved it!

As far as the rest of our week has gone, the work is continuing to move along in Izumo. The Sister missionaries are preparing for a baptism on Sunday, and we are all excited for that. The members are getting more involved in missionary work, and it is helping us so much. In our ward council meeting last week, we shared the mission goals that we have and how we need help from the members to fulfill those goals. We felt the Spirit bear witness to our words that we will be successful only when members and missionaries work together. No one took a bigger step forward in member missionary work than our awesome ward mission leader. He even came to a lesson we had with an investigator this past Friday at 6:00 IN THE MORNING!!! If that isn't dedication, I don't know what is. It's been amazing to see the increased efforts of members and missionaries alike, and it looks like it will only grow from here.

Right after that lesson in the morning, my companion and I hopped on a train to get to district meeting. It was the last district meeting for our beloved District leader, Elder Tsuchiya, who returned home a few weeks early to start college. During district meeting, we all shared what we learned from our study of the Book of Mormon. There were some awesome insights shared, and they all revolved around Christ and His Atonement. I would just like to add my simple testimony that I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. His Atonement is the center of our Heavenly Father's plan for us. Because of is wonderful gift, we have the power to change our lives to be in harmony with God's laws and principles. I say these things in he name of Jesus
Christ, Amen.


The last district meeting with Tsuchiya chourou :'(

2/22/2016 Amazing week!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

Wow, this week has been amazing! There have been a lot of awesome experiences that made it special, but most of all, it was special because we spent the whole week in our area. No long bus rides to Okayama (although those are fun, too), and no other meetings besides District Meeting. My companion and I tried to set some pretty high goals for ourselves to make up for lost time in our area, and we worked really hard to accomplish them. When we finally made it to the end of the week, we were successful in most of our goals.

One experience in particular stood out to me this week, as we tried to reach out to a member that has been struggling lately. We, the other missionaries, and another family of members got together and made dinner for them. We dropped it off at their house and talked to them for a little to see how they were doing, and if we could help them somehow. As usual, they turned down our offer for help, but they were so grateful for us doing something small to help them in a time of need. When we saw them on Sunday they were still as busy and tired as ever, but they were more open and willing to talk to us. It was amazing for me to see how one small act of kindness could lift the spirits of that family, and I thought about my interaction with the other people I come into contact with, and if I am just saying that I love them, or am I truly looking for ways to express that love to them? My testimony has been strengthened that through those simple acts of kindness, in the small things, that people can see your love for them. My challenge to all of you reading this is to find a simple way to express love to the people that mean so much to you in your life. And please, don't forget your loving Heavenly Father, to whom we owe everything we have been blessed with. I know that He loves each and every one of you, more than you or I can ever know. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


One of the tallest lighthouses in Japan.

Cool temple!
Same temple, different angle.