"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, July 24, 2017

5/21/2017 Lasting peace and happiness...

Happy Monday everyone! (or Sunday, depending on where you are in the world)

I can't believe how fast this week has flown, there was just so much awesome stuff packed into a short time! On Tuesday we headed up to Matsuyama to spend the day with the zone leaders, Elder Dahl and Elder Nakamura. I was with Elder Nakamura, and we had a great time together studying, serving others, and teaching together.

On Wednesday and Thursday we met with some new friends, a young family that we found the week before, and Jouko san, and old man we have been meeting with lately. We shared a short message with the mother of the family, and were able to give her a Book of Mormon, inviting her to read it. She said she would, and we decided together that we would come back next week and meet her again to see what she learned. I'm excited to see how her family will be blessed through her faith!
Jouko san is incredible, he met with us a few times this week and even came to church by surprise! He originally told us he couldn't come because of a cleaning project going on at his apartment, but he told us on Sunday that he woke up really early to clean his portion of the project, and then left to come to church. His faith is so strong, and we will continue to meet with him and teach him about Jesus Christ. He tells us that although he had always believed in Buddhism, he is now Christian at heart! He is so awesome!
We concluded our week in the best way I could imagine, as we were blessed to hear from an Apostle of God, Elder Dallin Oaks, this past Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we had a special meeting for the missionaries, and Sunday was a devotional to the entire country of Japan. We had been looking forward to this meeting for a few months now, and it didn't disappoint! I first heard about him coming when I was in Wakayama, though, and I got more than I bargained for when I transferred to Uwajima. Fun fact about Uwajima, it is one of the furthest areas away from the place where the meeting was held, and from the mission office as well. Thus, we spent a total of 18 hours traveling to and from the meeting.
Despite all the traveling, it was totally worth it! We learned so much about joy, and Elder Oaks taught us that if we are not finding joy in the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ, even in our most difficult trials and circumstances, we need to re-evaluate our lives. I know that the purpose of all of God's teachings are to bring to pass the eternal life of man, and to help us to feel joy as we go through life. Elder Oaks also talked about how the world is becoming more and more dangerous, with wars and rumors of wars in every country. He then taught an important principle about peace. Peace is a commonly promised blessing throughout the scriptures as we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but people often think of peace as an absence of war or conflict. According to the words of Elder Oaks, there is a different kind of peace that we can have as a result of living a gospel-centered life. Amidst all the wars raging around us, and conflicts being started, the promise of the gospel is a continuous peace within our hearts. No matter what our situation is, or what we are called upon to do in the service of God, we can know that in the end our afflictions and pains will be for our good. This faith comes from knowing the character of our Father in Heaven, and knowing that He loves each of us and has a plan for each one of us.
I add my testimony to the words of Elder Oaks that the only way to lasting peace and happiness is through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. As we continually look to Him and pattern our lives after the way He would live, we will know for ourselves that we are not forgotten by our Savior, and that we will return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families in peace and happiness. I love the opportunity to teach others of these simple truths, and I feel the truth of it in my heart as I do so! I pray for the same peace to come to each of you, and invite you to remember the example of Jesus Christ even as you go about your busy lives and schedules!
Love from Japan,
Elder Winegar

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