"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

6/18/2017 Staying in Uwajima

Hello Everyone!
It's been a while since I last wrote, so I guess it is long overdue for a quick update! Transfer calls came and went, and my companion, Elder Anderson, and I will both be staying in Uwajima for another transfer! We are so blessed to be in this amazing place, and to continue interacting with the friends we have made here. This week has probably been the longest amount of time I have been in Uwajima without leaving the city for some type of missionary meeting or other, it has been super nice to stick around for a while.

Last Sunday we were able to participate in the baptism of one of our good friends, Joukou san. He has come a long ways thanks to the prayers of the members, and his own faith to live the commandments God has given to us through prophets. We then saw him confirmed as a member of the church yesterday in Sacrament meeting, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not only has he learned a lot, his whole demeanor has changed as he experienced the happiness and friendship among members. He says that he never felt much happiness before in his life, but that all of the hard things have just melted away, to the point he can't even remember them.

We experienced joy and help from the Lord in many other ways this week, but I especially learned a lot from a comment made by Elder Anderson. We have been able to visit a few members that haven't come to church in a long time, and find out more about why they chose to stop coming. Their situations were all very different, but they all had one thing in common. Once they left their beliefs behind to follow small doubts, they never ended up happier for it. We could see that clearly, and felt frustrated that we couldn't get them to realize the same thing. No matter how hard we tried, they wouldn't accept even simple invitations to pray or read from the scriptures.
As we returned home each day, all I could think about was how strange it was that these people weren't willing to seek happiness, to do the things necessary to find joy again. But then Elder Anderson shared what he was thinking about, how each one of those people had their own difficult situation or circumstance. We have no way of knowing what they have been through in their lives that lead them to the position they are in now, and if we have no love for them and no sympathy for them, we will never learn what they really need help with. I realized that this is exactly what our Savior did for us in suffering for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross. He first understood what each one of us were going through, our mistakes, our fears, our and our shortcomings, as well as our joy and happiness, then reached out to us in love so that we can overcome our stumbling blocks. We may never understand others' burdens on so deep or personal a level, but I know that I can make a greater effort to love and try to understand the people I come into contact with, and then do what I can to lend a hand.

I invite you all to do the same in lifting and loving your neighbor, a friend in need, or even a stranger. If we pray for an increase in love while we do so, we will learn a little more about how God feels for each of His children.

Hope you all have a service-filled week! Love from Japan,
Elder Winegar

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