"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, May 8, 2017

5/8/2017 New Area--Uwajima!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

Sorry it's been awhile! Today I am writing from wonderful Uwajima! We had transfers last week and I was surprised to learn that both my companion, Johnson 長老, and I would be leaving Wakayama. I was so sad, especially after starting to see some of the results of our work and really having everything start to pick up.

I made it to Uwajima on Thursday in the afternoon, and met my new companion, Elder Anderson. He is super awesome, he has been in Japan for about 7 months now and is good at everything. He sings, plays guitar, ran track and played basketball in high school, and is a genius. He is going to Utah State when he gets home, too, so I will probably see him there! We spent the first few days going around to meet some friends to whom we are introducing the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ. First I met Jouko san, a really nice older man that has had a lot of difficult experiences in his life. He says that he wants to feel the peace that we have promised will come through the love Christ has for him.

Next I met Taniwaki san, a really fun guy that just seems to love everyone and everything around him. He came to our English class, and we all had a fun time learning together. We still haven't gotten an opportunity to talk about the church with him since I have been here, but we are meeting with him this Wednesday to continue teaching him.

Finally, I got to meet all of the awesome members here in Uwajima on Sunday! There were about 40 people at church, and they are all incredibly friendly and welcoming. I also came at a great time, because this is the first week after moving from the old church to a new building! Everyone was so happy to be in the new building, it was so much fun to see everyone's smiles throughout church that day.

Before church we had a lesson with a recent convert, Brother Ishida, and the discussion that we had reminded me of something taught in the last General Conference. Brother Ishida brought up the fact that it is difficult for him to remember to pray every day. He can remember to pray before going to bed, but any other time he says that his mind is far from thoughts of God or prayer.

As he shared his difficulties with us, I remembered times where I had felt the same, that it was just too hard in my busy life to make time for prayer or scripture study, or time to spend with family members and friends. It is in those thoughts, however, that I am able to recognize where my priorities lie. If my goals in life are really to have a stronger relationship with God and with my own parents, brothers, and sisters, why do my actions not always reflect that? It is so easy to become caught up in all the little things that need to be done, but I am slowly learning what I should have known all along, that all things are not of equal importance. I know that over anything else, I desire to become more like my Savior Jesus Christ in loving and serving selflessly, and to help my family in any way possible.

As I thought about the sometimes difficult to overcome gap between what we want to do and what actually happens, I remembered the words of Elder Gary B. Sabin, saying the following, "If we are not able to be “all in” the way we are presently walking, then maybe we need to run; maybe we need to recalculate our route. We might even need to make a U-turn. We might need to study more intently, pray more earnestly, or just let some things go so we can hang on to those things that really matter. We may need to let go of the world so we can hang on to eternity."

I know that through all of these things that I am learning, I want to do exactly what was said by Elder Sabin. Even if it may require giving up things that I want, or even giving up being in situations and circumstances that I am comfortable in, I know that God has a plan for each one of us that goes far beyond what we are currently involved in, and what we are currently capable of or comfortable with. I invite you all to think about the same thing this week, if your actions are in line with your end goals, whatever they may be. And if you find out that you have strayed from your desired course, then change! I can promise that even simple acts can lead to great results!

Love from Japan,
Elder Winegar

4/17/2017 Happy Easter!

Hey everyone! Happy Easter!!!

The time is short and list of blessings from God is long, so I will do my best to keep it brief so that you can all go back to enjoying your day. This week we had zone Conference from our mission president, and we learned what our new Book of Mormon challenge is. I'm not allowed to say what we are focusing on yet, since some zones haven't had their conference yet, but I'm excited for the topic and for the chance to read the Book of Mormon again. 

After zone conference, we went to Sennan and worked with the other Elders in our district. I was with Elder Campbell, and we had some great discussions about what we learned the previous day. We also got a chance to talk to a lot of people on the street, and one family in particular that we ran into seemed to have a lot of interest in our message. As we explained what we do as missionaries, how we try to help everyone learn about Jesus Christ and receive the blessings of stronger families, she told us to come back again when we were in the area. 

Then, returning home, I spent the day with Elder McEwan. He is also a great missionary with solid teaching skills, he taught me a thing or two about teaching people with enthusiasm and boldness! We also met with a member that hasn't been coming to church lately, Itani kyodai, and had a great meeting. He was happy to see us, and we talked about following God's guidance and God's plan for us even when we have a hard time seeing past our own imperfections and the imperfections of others. He understood what we taught really well, and we hope that he will be at church next Sunday. 

Finally, a miracle to wrap up the week, as we were going out contacting people in our missionary records and going from house to house, we got a call from a young man that said he was close to the church and could meet us that night if we had time. Without hesitation, we took off for the church as fast as we could, telling him we would be there as soon as possible. We introduced ourselves, and went inside the church to talk together. The young man, Tooru, had met with missionaries before and wanted to follow Jesus, but hadn't been able to meet lately because he had been in the hospital. We talked about the doctrine and teachings of Jesus Christ, and invited him to be baptized if he learned that what we were teaching was true. He said yes! We are working now towards helping him make the first steps to following Jesus Christ and strengthening his relationship with God. He is a little busy with work, so we will have to work around that, but we are so excited for him! He told us that he wants the feeling of relief that he knows only can come from Jesus Christ, knowing that all of his past mistakes and guilt have been washed away, and that he is accepted by God. 

This week being Easter Sunday also gave me some time to reflect on the joy that I have felt from knowing that Jesus Christ is willing to forgive me of my sins and help me to be more than I could on my own, even when I can't see that value in myself. I know that I want to follow Him and His teachings forever, because of the peace and relief I have felt. I am thankful to know that He has overcome both sin and death, having been resurrected and now has the power to help each one of us if we just look to Him for assistance. I am so grateful to be a missionary for Him, and to teach others of this grace and mercy. I hope all of you take some time to reflect upon the joy and peace you have felt, the happiness in your family, and give thanks to God and Jesus Christ for the abundant blessings we have all been given. Have a lovely Easter!

Love from,
Elder Winegar