Monday, December 31, 2012

Elder Winters - December 31, 2012 新年快樂!

Hello everyone, I hope your Christmases were as great as mine was.  We spent most of the day at members' houses and even got a few people to go visit out of it.  Perfect.  And yes, I did get to Skype with my amazing family.  It was weird because in the few hours before we actually Skyped I was super nervous, which is pretty dumb considering now I'm not nervous to go knock on random people's houses and talk to them in Chinese about angels and visions and prophets and golden books and a lot of other things.  Anyway, I am down to my last phone call home until the Big Day arrives, which is also pretty nerve-wracking.  I'll make the time count, don't worry.  

Speaking of nerve-wracking, I had the extreme...pleasure of playing the organ for our congregation yesterday.  Thankfully, a ton of people were gone on vacation so they didn't have to bear it.  My favorite part in preparing to play was pressing every single button on that thing.  Oh wait, I didn't press the "chimes" button because that didn't sound the best.

Sweet story from church.  One English Class student is a super amazing investigator, though the only hitch is that she's going back to Japan on Thursday.  When she introduced herself in Sunday School, she said something like this: "Hey everyone, I met the missionaries a little while ago and they brought me here.  I'm from Japan, I'm going back in a few days to stay there for a few months, but then I'll come back here, and then...I'M GOING TO BE BAPTIZED!!!''  Which, needless to say, made us pretty psyched as the whole Sunday School class erupted in excited cries.  Yeah.  

So, that's a week in the life.  I hope you all have a Happy New Year.  This work is true, it's the best ever.  Have a good one.

- Elder Winters


Editor's note:  Here we are Skyping with Daniel on Christmas day.  He has never looked happier; he couldn't wipe the smile off of his face!!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Elder Winters - December 24, 2012 Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone, welcome to the super quick Christmas Eve edition of the weekly reader.  In order to spice things up for the holidays, this morning I had my Reeses Puffs cereal in egg nog, something I actually wouldn't recommend to those eighteen and under.  I seemed to have forgotten how strong the taste of egg nog is after not having any for two years.  Well anyway, I bought some more milk today so I won't ever have to do that again.  

We found two investigators this past week, and they're awesome!  One even walked probably about 40 minutes to church after telling us she wasn't going to be there.  Christmas miracle!  

It's been a super good week.  It includes English class students walking up to us and asking to meet with us, an investigator walking to church after saying to not have anyone get her, and Christmas caroling.  Awesome stuff.  We've been blessed.  I feel actually pretty bad when I hear all these people like Elder Holland and my mission president tracting all day on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I feel like I should be doing that.....but I also feel pretty good by finding through caroling.  

Well, everyone.  Have a very merry Christmas everyone.  I know for myself that Jesus Christ was born over 2,000 years ago.  He is our Savior, and through his atoning sacrifice we can all become clean and worthy to live with our Father in Heaven.

Merry Christmas!

- Elder Winters

Monday, December 17, 2012

Elder Winters - December 16, 2012

Hello everyone, I'll relieve you all in advance by saying today's email will be pretty short.  Things are rolling over here, Christmas is in the air, and time is flying by.  Sunny California has been a little rainy and somewhat cold as of late, if you can imagine.  I personally really enjoy it, just because it's a change.  And the air seems to be less hazy when it's this kind of weather.  

To celebrate the Christmas season, we had a dumpling-making party with some investigators.  You would not believe how hard it is to pinch some dough that has meat and vegetables in the middle.  Also, my hands are at least 68% larger than our investigators', thus allowing their nimbleness to exceed ours.  And, as they say in China, some people were born with a dumpling in their hands.  Okay, they don't really say that, but people in Northeast China get pretty serious about it.  I highly recommend it.

In some news, I was made district leader over the Chinese/Korean district.  That should be fun.  My responsibilities include presiding over district meeting and....that's about it.  Actually, I also get to go on exchanges with everyone every transfer cycle, which should be exciting.  Not going to lie, I love going to the Korean program.    

To end, I'll share a story.  It was pretty sweet as we managed to find someone willing to set up an appointment with us a couple of days ago.  We were looking for a completely different number on the street when we stumbled into her.  That is a testimony to me that God takes our weaknesses and still manages to do something with us.  The Holy Ghost will make up the difference as long as we're obedient and worthy and trying.  The scripture D&C 80:3 brings great comfort to me:

"Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss."

 So, we can't go amiss in this work, because it is God's work and nothing will stop it from progressing.  Have an awesome, Christmas-filled week, everyone.

Elder Daniel B. Winters
Of the Yale Branch

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elder Winters - December 10, 2012 Spreading joooooooooyyy and cheeeeeeeer!

Hello everyone, it turns out I won't be home for Christmas, you can count on me, unless I do something really goofy in the next two weeks.  But I'm guessing that that's one present my family would not be happy with.  Don't worry, I'll keep my nose clean.  

This week: it's been a good one.  We've had a record number of investigators take us out to dinner, which we see as a sign that they trust us enough that they'll feed us with their cooking.  Actually, the husband of someone we're teaching is a chef by profession, so that was a pretty legit dinner.  According to him, all of the restaurants around here are not even remotely authentic, mostly because the people that are chefs here used to be teachers or something else in China.  So if you want Chinese food, go to China, or talk to our investigators.  

This past week we also had our annual Yale Branch Christmas Party, something that reminded me just how amazing our little branch here is.  There were many, many nonmembers there and tons of fellowshipping was going on.  I got drafted into playing Melchior, King of the East Number Two for the Christmas program, and the good news is that our people that are investigating the Church are still interested after hearing the performance.  

There's been a lot of emphasis lately in the mission about asking for referrals.  Sometimes as missionaries we just kind of tack it onto the end as something as a last hope that we already know what the answer is: "Do you know anyone that is interested in this message?" "Of course not, bye."  We talked about asking inspired questions, like "Whom do you know that is really struggling in life right now?''  The cool thing was that when we really tried this out, it really worked.  One lady was not very interested at all, but when Elder Haviland asked her as question very much like this, she thought very hard and then gave us three people to go visit.  It's times like these when I wish I was a junior companion again so I could just learn from the best and not have to struggle and make mistakes and....simply not be human.  I guess that's what we all learn in the end - we're all going to make mistakes and struggle, but that's what a loving Heavenly Father puts us through to help us grow.  I am grateful for Jesus Christ and His perfect atonement he wrought for us so that we do have the possibility of repentance and improvement when we correctly exercise our agency and turn to Him, our Savior.  It's a joy to share His gospel with the world.  This work is true, have a great week everyone.

- E W

Photos members posted on Facebook of their Christmas party (he may hate me forever for the Melchior one!):

Monday, December 3, 2012

Elder Winters - December 3, 2012

Editor's note:
As you are writing your Christmas cards this year you might want to send one to Daniel.  Here is his address:
Elder Daniel Winters
California Anaheim Mission
2500 N. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA  92706

Hello, everyone.  It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, as you can hardly knock a door without having a wreath in the way these days.  One perplexing moment of this past week was when we went to knock on this one door of a house that had a huge Christmas tree displayed in the living room.  I though, "Oh good, this person already believes in Jesus Christ."  When the door opened, we asked the lady who answered what her religious background was.  She informed us that her entire family was Buddhist - she had been to a Christian church maybe once or twice before.  So I guess the Christmas Spirit is so contagious that even the Buddhists are putting up Christmas trees!    Which is a good thing, as long as we keep in mind what this season is all about.   
Well, this week has been a good one.  Looking back at where we started with a month ago, a lot of things and miracles have transpired since then.  We were blessed with a great Sunday yesterday as well.  I feel like Sundays have so much potential to go wrong, especially on fast and testimony meeting days.  Maybe this is just me, but it's hard not to draw up worst-case scenarios as a missionary.  Like all it takes is one not-so-spiritual testimony, and then your investigator will just say to you, "I think I'll find myself a church where things work a little differently," and then in a puff of smoke, they're gone.  But then I have to remind myself that at the Yale Branch, things can't go wrong.  It is great here.  If you remember the guy from last week, yes, he did come to church, and yes, he did love it!  So we're psyched.  The Lord has blessed this little part of the vineyard so much.  
Another highlight of the week: TV.  That's right, we got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Message at a member's house yesterday.  Talk about kicking off the Christmas season.  It was superb.  I know for myself that those men are called and inspired of God.  They have been prepared throughout their lives to be in the positions they now hold, and they are literally God's spokesmen here on the earth.  What a blessing.
Well, everyone.  It's time for me to split for another week.  As a final note, I've been hearing about a lot of friends getting called on missions.  That's wonderful.  The work is really moving, all over the world.  If you have any chances to go out and teach with some missionaries, take advantage of them.  First of all, the missionaries will love you for it, and second of all, you will really feel the special Spirit that comes from sharing spiritual truths with others you love.  
That's about it for this week - the work is true and awesome, keep up the great work on the home front.  Have a good one.

- Elder Winters

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Elder Winters - November 26, 2012 Happy birthday, Jacob!

Hello everyone.  I hope your Thanksgivings were all stuffed with turkeys, stuffing, and thanksgiving.  Mine definitely was.  It's too bad that people weren't very filled with thanksgiving when we knocked on their doors.  So, we opted for a different form of work, namely, putting up Free English Class posters so that no one in Irvine cannot not know that we have a Free English Class.  For Free.  Free English Class has actually been quite a success as of late since the development of our marketing technique of putting up flyers near Chinese markets.  One newcomer has been to church the past two Sundays and asked us yesterday when she could get baptized, so I think that it must be a hit.  

Another thing that happened this week was that both of my trainers, Jeremy Bray and Myungho Kim, showed up for the holidays.  That was pretty crazy.  It really brought back memories of the Glory Days for me.  That was nice because I got to look back and see how much I've changed since then.  But then I heard both of their Chinese, which reminded me of how much more I need to improve.  But there's time.  Actually, you all might be interested in the incredibly sad news that I have one year left in the mission field as of today.  Time flies by, that's all I can say.  And no, I'm not trunky, because how can you have the following experience and be trunky?

Okay.  So we were tracting yesterday.  We just happen to have the addresses of all the Chinese people in Irvine, so we were out knocking on those.  Then we hear the wonderful sound of Chinese people talking in a house that was not on our list.  We knock.  This guy opens up.  He says he is Christian as of last month, we ask him what it has been doing for his life.  Then he says, "Well, how about you come in?"  Which is like asking a missionary, "Do you want some free food?"  So we go in and start talking religion.  He was receptive and very interested in ours.  He heard about our church on the news - Mitt Romney being the facilitator, if you can believe it. We reviewed the baptismal interview questions with him and read some of Moroni 10 together.  He read over everything again and kept saying, "This is really good.  This is true.  God led you to my house tonight.  I'm usually in China.  This is great."  Man.  I would knock on a thousand doors to get another experience like that.  It was wonderful.  We'll keep you updated on how this all works out.  

Alright, everyone.  This work is sweet and more than worth all the knocking.  It's true and that's why it's worth it.  Heavenly Father is preparing His children to hear and accept the truth.  I know for myself that that is true.  

Have an awesome week.

- Elder Winters

This is Sherry's baptism.  Daniel taught her until his new companion arrived in the mission.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Elder Winters - November 19, 2012 Piqu Tailai

Hey everyone, Happy Thanksgiving.  Eat some turkey for me, because the Chinese don't quite celebrate it, even though they are a thankful people.  But, thanks to America, I will most likely go to a white member's house to eat a feast. I was actually just talking to Elder Wang about Thanksgiving.  The conversation went a little like this: 
E. Wang: "So why do you celebrate Thanksgiving?" Self: "You know, because the pilgrims came and made friends with the Indians, and then shared a cornucopia full of fruit and a turkey together.  Yeah."  E. Wang: "Oh."  So, maybe my history isn't the best.  But anyway, we should just live in thanksgiving every day.  Yeah.

As part of Elder Haviland's training, we took this course on Family History so as to get more familiar with this other aspect of the work of salvation.  I actually managed to roughly calculate my heritage in the meanwhile, which was quite fun.  I figured I'm about 75% English/UK, 9% Danish, 12.5% Swedish, and, unfortunately, .014% French.  Okay, just kidding.  But still.  I also discovered that my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather's name is Marmaduke Horseman.  Enough said.

My birthday came and went, with a very successful haul in terms of loot acquired, but even more successful in terms of investigators acquired!  That was probably the highlight.  It's strange to think that people are now more important to me than cake.  Boy, my mission has changed me.  

Well, everyone, please have a successful Thanksgiving in terms of how many notches you have to loosen on your belt.  The work's moving along just fine, and it is a sheer pleasure to play a small role in it.  Have a great week.

- E. DBW

We finally got pictures!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Elder Winters - November 13, 2012 It's my birthday present to me! I'm so happy!

Hello, welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Monday weekly reader.  Librarians yesterday were protesting at too low fees for unreturned books, so we did not get a chance to do email.  Let's hope that the irregular day does not affect the quality of the email.  

As for me, it's been an excellent week.  Things are happening in the area, prayers are being answered, and despite all the dunder-headed mistakes I keep making, Heavenly Father still loves me.  

Some of you have been concerned about our finding efforts lately.  Well, two, I repeat, two new investigators came out of the woodwork this past week. And people are being prepared as we speak!  These two new people live up in Anaheim, so we attended that ward to go speak with them and then have a lesson.  They walked by the church and noticed that the people going in and coming out were different.  They had very warm feelings about the church, so they went in and attended two sacrament meetings.  This past Sunday was their third Sunday going, all on their own, to an English ward that is super hard for them to understand.  If they aren't feeling the Spirit, Who transcends all languages, I don't know what the Spirit feels like.  Buckle up!  There are great things about to happen.

Another very awesome thing that happened was our zone conference with Elder Kopischke of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  He is a very jovial, forward-thinking, friendly man.  His training was incredible as well.  He is so full of faith and helped us create a greater vision for our mission.  Something cool that happened the morning of the conference was that Elder Kopischke interviewed me at the mission home for about ten minutes or so.  The way the assistants selected the handful of missionaries to be interviewed had to do with the fact that their last names start with a W.  Anyway, it was an awesome experience.  He asked me about my family and how they are doing.  He then asked me, "Well, Elder Vinters, how can I help?"  That made me regret not preparing anything.  We then talked about finding people, after which he shared a few scriptures with me, in a way that edified me beyond what I got when I had read them myself before.  At the close of the interview, he offered a prayer for us.  It was an amazing experience having a General Authority pray for you, your work, and your family right there.  After his prayer I extended my hand, which he ignored and pulled me into a big bear hug.  It was awesome!  Definitely an unforgettable experience.  

Well, that's my life right here.  The large, burly Library Policeman that monitors all those soundmakers at the library is giving me looks like if I stay here any longer the keyboard's going to be most inadvertently broken over my head.  So I better go.  Have an awesome week!

- E. DBW

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Elder Winters - November 5, 2012 Happy Halloween!

Hello, everyone.  If you've been watching the news, you are probably aware of a momentous day coming up.  It's huge.  More than huge.  It will shape the future of the United States of America in particular, but also in a very real way it will affect all of the free world in ways not yet imagined.  That's right, you guessed it: my birthday is on its way.  Buckle up!  

Of course, there's no time to pay attention to that, because there is a new elder in town.  Elder Haviland has arrived, and he's awesome.  We're pretty similar, so that aids in just about every aspect of missionary work.  He's on fire and ready to get some work done.  Which is good, because there are doors to be knocked on, especially at Halloween time. Okay, we didn't really go tracting on Halloween night, we ate at a member's house and then went home to plan for the week.

Other than that, we've been knocking.  And knocking.  And knocking.  And I've felt Heavenly Father support us as we've done so.  He is real, He is doing His work, He is testing our faith, and He loves us.  

Have an awesome week!

- E. DBW

Here's a portion of his family email:
Happy Halloween.  Well, kind of.  I think I wished you one last time.  But still.  I am in a new library today, one that I can't send pictures in, but next week I will give you picture proof that I had a successful Halloween.  Or maybe a successful week after Halloween, when candy is 80% off.  Yea!
You are probably all very curious about Elder Haviland.  He is awesome.  We are pretty similar, we're getting along really well, and his Chinese is great, so that's all wonderful and dandy.  The no investigators part is kind of a downer, but he has great spirits about it all, and we're confident that we'll find someone soon.
I would also like to address another serious matter.  I heard from my zone leaders that Disney bought Star Wars!!  Is that true?!?  I'm sorry, but for me, in terms of importance that ranks up right there with the election.  Okay, maybe the election isn't THAT important.  Alright, just kidding. (I'm actually wearing a red tie today and tomorrow.)  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Elder Winters - October 29, 2012 East Side

[Editor's note: Daniel's birthday is November 15th!]

Hey everyone!  Welcome back, and Happy Halloween.  I get my new companion from Kaysville, Utah tomorrow, which should be exciting.  I've been told that I act more like a kid from Utah than a kid from Georgia, so maybe that means we'll get along really well.  

Some of this week has been spent preparing for this week.  We'll be splitting the mission in half to accommodate two Chinese companionships, and as luck would have it my companionship will be the one with zero investigators.  So next week hopefully I'll have some exciting finding stories for all of you.  I especially want to go tracting on Halloween night, but I'm not sure how successful that will be.  I've heard stories of missionaries not being taken seriously several times on Halloween night, but maybe it will be different with the Chinese, who don't really celebrate it.  It translates into "Ten Thousand Spirits Holiday," so maybe in the spirit of the holiday we'll go to the temple for baptisms for the dead instead.

Another part of preparing to split has involved cleaning out our previous apartment.  The majority of the furniture was termed "not good enough for DI [Deseret Industries]," so it was literally destroyed by our zone.  That was pretty fun.  I've never tossed a chest of drawers off a two-story balcony before.  That might've been the last time, too.  

Anyway, we've had some solid lessons this past week.  It's a privilege to bear testimony of eternal truths and feel the Spirit bear testimony of them as well.  It's a wonderful we get to do, and I know it's true.  Have a wonderful week!

- E. DBW

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Elder Winters - October 24, 2012 Temple!

[Editor's note: Daniel's birthday is November 15th.  I know that he would be delighted to hear from as many of you as possible!  His address is 
CA Anaheim Mission
2500 N. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA  92706
Just one stamp and you'll make his day!

Also, sorry for the delay, Daniel emailed Wednesday and I was out of town and didn't have access to the email list.]

你好 everyone, and welcome to Wednesday's super short version.  We're going to the temple today, so time is short.  

This week we've been knocking a little more than usual.  That's fine; as my good friend Jacob Guest put it, it builds character.  I am actually enjoying it a lot, because in case you didn't know, there are a ton of interesting people in this world.  In just ten doors we found an ex-Mormon whose grandfather was a polygamist - who would've thought?  Also, on another of our escapades, we knocked into about twenty non-Chinese people in a row, and it wasn't until the very last door that we found a Chinese woman and her daughter.  That was a good thing, too, mainly because we got kicked out of the complex right afterwards.  I try to get my lawyer skills on (I mean, after all, I did empty the garbage and shred documents for a law firm for three months) and said that we weren't soliciting because we weren't selling anything.  The proper term for what we are doing is canvassing, which is sharing ideas for free.  Come partake of the feast of milk and honey without money and without price.  Anyway, for more information on this case, Google "Winters v. U.S. Supreme Court."  

This mission is changing me constantly.  It has been an enormous blessing in my life, and I am so grateful for what God has done for me ever since this started.  This work is true, and those wonderful prepared people are out there, searching for the truth.  Heavenly Father is directing this work, even if He has to use instruments like me to do it.

Have a great week, everyone.

- E. DBW

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Elder Winters - October 15, 2012

Hello everybody, welcome to another week in the life.  I had one of my bigger realizations of just how weird I am this past week - I was speaking Chinese in a public place and there were a couple of non-Asian people staring at me looking ready to go and call the police.  I'm afraid I may be a contributing factor to the misinformation going around that our church is a cult....

Other than that, things are rolling here in SoCal.  It actually rained for about the fifth time of me being here this past week, but we are now moving into another heat wave, so my hopes of having a real autumn here are being dashed by the scorching sun.   But you know, that's fine.  

Anyway, on to missionary stories.  Cool stuff happening!  One night this past week we were in an area that we rarely go to because of the dearth of Chinese people there, but we were there for a different reason as we later found out.  There was this guy that stopped us and asked us about the purpose of life.  We ended up having about a 45 minute conversation with him about the gospel.  This guy is ready!  It was amazing, and such a blessing to be able to run into him.  I for one am SUPER glad that the parking spot we wanted to park in was full.  As for the ending of the story, we're not sure.  We referred him to the English elders, so we'll see how it works out.  

Another thing.  We were tracting one afternoon without too much success.  Then we tract into this 80 year old Chinese man, no interest whatsoever, but he was just so darn nice.  He was like, "Mission work, that ain't easy.  I respect you guys a ton."  Or something to that effect (old people are harder to understand).  But anyway, sometimes I think that Heavenly Father not only puts prepared people in our path, but people that are supposed to cheer us up, because this guy did just that.  I couldn't stop smiling for a while after knocking into him.  

Last thing.  A movie star from Shanghai came to our church on Sunday!  Super cool.  Of course, I had absolutely no clue who the heck she was, but lots of the sisters did.  They were all flocking her after Sunday School, making it difficult for us to talk to some of the potentials/recent converts that we wanted to set up lessons with.  Sheesh.  Oh well.  I guess that will make them want to come more often, knowing that movie stars come to our branch now.  Unfortunately, she's just on vacation right now, but hopefully they'll be back.  

On a spiritual note, I know that the work we do is true.  The Church is true, Jesus is the Christ, and God loves us all.  

Have a wonderful week!

- E. DBW

Monday, October 8, 2012

Elder Winters - October 8, 2012 Crazy...

Hello and ni hao to all of you in reader world.  It's been a crazy week, culminating in a mind-blowing announcement by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, concerning a policy change expanding the options of at which age missionaries can serve.  Young men can now go at the age of 18, and young women at 19.  Despite the overwhelming/exciting feeling I got from this when I heard the announcement, I also felt strong impressions from the Spirit, indicating that this is an inspired change, a revelation from God.  I witness the reality of a living prophet leading and guiding this Church of Jesus Christ by revelation.  This change is huge and has many, many implications for both my family and my future family.  My brother, Jacob, has also made the decision to serve right after high school.  This is taking some time for me to digest, but I really couldn't be happier for him and for this new option available.  

Allow me to talk about general conference for a second.  General conference to missionaries is like what the Twilight series is to teenage girls.  If there was a midnight viewing of general conference and my bedtime was not at 10:30, you could bet that I'd be first in line.  To sum up my experience in a word, it was awesome.  The talks were all inspiring and gave me desires to repent and keep going.  I know that these, our Church leaders, are called of God and were foreordained to their callings.  I know Jesus Christ still leads His church today.  It's an incredible privilege to be His representative right now.  

Have a great week!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Elder Winters - October 1, 2012 Happy birthday, Becca!

Hey everyone, and happy Mid-Autumn Day yesterday.  It certainly doesn't feel like the middle of autumn here, but I suppose I'll take what I can get.  I also don't know about the historical significance of this holiday, but I do know the significance of it for me: that's right, free food.  Okay, just kidding, it means there was an awesome festival party hosted by our branch in which tons of potential people to teach showed up.  That was an amazing blessing - we were expecting maybe 15 nonmembers to show up, and at the actual thing there were maybe 40, all with at least one member friend!  Awesome stuff.  One member family that we ate dinner with this past week brought two friends, which I'm thinking has a direct relationship to eating their food for them.  That night, the dad piled at least 7 decently large chicken drumsticks on my plate and basically force-fed all three of us.  It was a challenge, but the rewards are worth it.  

If you can believe it, I went on another exchange in the Korean program.  At this rate, I'll probably be fluent in Korean by the time I get back.  I give myself credit for sitting in on an hour and a half lesson with one of their investigators, not understanding a word of it.  I felt like I was back in Chem 107.  

In spiritual news, we've had some wonderful lessons this past week.  As Elder Bednar put it, the lessons went well in spite of me.  I've found that when the necessary things are done, such as preparation and the simple things that bring spiritual power (like prayer and scripture reading), coupled with a sincere desire to help others progress in learning about the gospel, the Spirit takes over in a way that is incredible to observe.  As we listen with love, things come out of our mouths that help investigators light up like nothing that we alone could ever provide.  I know the Spirit is present in our lessons, testifying to the listeners the truthfulness of what we teach.  I know our message is true and can bless every single one of us.  It's an incredible pleasure to bring it to others that are willing to listen and act on it.

Have a great week.

[Editor's note: Wow, what a handsome missionary!!]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elder Winters - September 24, 2012 Hi!

Hey everyone!  This week has been busy with our move to our super nice apartment.  The new housing coordinator is all about spoiling missionaries, and I have to go along with it.  Usually when people think of missions, they think of you going to some foreign country where you can't speak the language, you're riding a bike, your apartment is full of who knows what, and you are uncomfortable for the majority of the day.  I guess in Irvine, we do things a little differently, but hey, I'm not complaining. 
Other than the move, we did in fact get some stuff done, one of them being an exchange with our English-speaking zone leaders.  I was graced to go into the English program for the second time on my mission.  It was pretty sweet.  Being able to teach and testify with full language capabilities was awesome.  So, prospective elders, don't ever be disappointed at a call to serve in the States. 
Not too much to report other than that.  The work is really moving, I'm growing more than I could ever have dreamed of, and the Church is still true. This work is amazing, you all are amazing, have a great week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elder Winters - September 17, 2012 Happy birthday, Sarah!!

Hey everyone, short email coming.  We had a zone conference this past week where we painted about two miles of fence as a mission.  I heard it's going to be on the news, but I'm not too sure.  If you see a guy in a yellow vest meticulously painting an old fence on the cover of Newsweek or whatever you read, you'll know who it is.  

Quick cool thought.  We taught a member's sister this past week for the first time.  She moved to America for schooling and has been apart from her member sister for a while.  It was incredible to teach this girl about her Heavenly Father for the first time and to hear her say her first prayer in her entire life.  It's a privilege to bring these precious truths to those who don't know where to find them.  This work is true and will continue to go on despite a guy trying to speak Chinese to the people of Southern California.  It's the best, I'm loving it, but keep doing what you're doing at home.  The gospel's true, have an awesome week.

Elder Daniel Winters

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Elder Winters - September 10, 2012 Chujiban

Hey everybody, welcome to another week coming to you from sunny California.  I have to include that because I often forget where I actually am.  

This may have to be somewhat short, so here we go.  Actually, I think I may just include some tidbits from the week and pass that off as good. Get excited.  

I found out that there is a Chinese last name that means "strict."  Imagine finding out right before school starts that that's your teacher's name. On that note, the last name "Wang" means "king," so maybe that will change the way you think about your cashier at the grocery store or the Mrs. Wang next door.  

This week I had the privilege of leading the kids during singing time in Chujiban, or Primary.  It was in Chinglish, so that was incredibly fun.  Excited at actually being able to remember the words, I think I may have sung more enthusiastically than the kids.  Though I'm pretty sure my brother Joseph could still give me a run for my money.  

We went contacting in a new place this week - a man-made lake close to the church building.  We went on Labor Day and talked to probably a record number of Chinese people that I've ever done in an hour.  Thinking about how my sister Rebecca does probably five times that every day made my respect for her grow like no other.  Also, later this week when we went again a ton of people were waving at us.  We had no clue why everyone was suddenly so nice to us until we found out that the Northwood ward in the stake was having a party there.  It took a lot of willpower to pass down a second dinner and several invitations to join in and keep going, but we're glad we did.  We met some cool people we wouldn't have met otherwise.  

This work is true.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  It's a true privilege to share it with others.  It's amazing, it's pure truth, and the work will move on.

Have a sweet week.

- Elder Winters

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Elder Winters - September 3, 2012

Hey everyone and welcome to the shortened edition of the weekly email/blog/thing.  This week has been a blur, but a very long blur, if that makes sense.  That's how time feels like to me, anyway.

So, this week I went on a two day long exchange with the Korean elders in my district.   As it so happened, I was placed into the Korean program.  I think both my English and my Chinese suffered for a little while after the exchange.  Actually, it reminded me of my first day in the MTC when I couldn't understand anything at all.  The worst was in lessons when people started crying and I had no clue why and couldn't ask.  After one particular lesson my temporary companion told me, "She started crying because you weren't listening to her."  Okay, just kidding, she was crying about her family, but wouldn't that be hilarious if she did cry for the other reason?  Anyway, near the end of the exchange, as is customary in any Korean exchange, we went to an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, paid for by the Korean branch's mission leader.  My personal favorite dish was the beef tongue.  The other elders piled about 4 or 5 on my plate (without my permission, I might add) and told me to just eat them and not think about what I was eating.  Unfortunately, when I was eating them, all I could think about was a year ago in Switzerland when I went up the the cows there and petted their heads and they would lick my hand......yeah.  

Elder Hui, our new Elder, has been playing some new music for us in the car.  One of these songs includes "Come, Come Ye Saints."  The line "And should we die before our labor's through...." takes on a lot more meaning when I'm driving.  

Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty.  So, we've had some finding trouble lately.  Needless to say, there have been many prayers in finding people to teach, because that's what missionaries really are - they're teachers.  On Sunday, the heavens opened up and we found two new investigators.  They both came to church on Sunday, and one of them came out of nowhere and has read stuff about the Church before, has been to SLC before, etc.  It was awesome.  And we're only getting started.  It was a testimony to me that Heavenly Father answers prayers in His own ways, and He is the one doing His work, no matter how hard we may try to do it.  It is a humbling thing to be His servant right now and to proclaim the truth that everyone needs to know.  That truth includes that Jesus is the Christ and salvation is available to all who embrace His gospel and Atonement.  The gospel's true, it has transformed my life, and it will continue to as long as I let it.  

Have an awesome week, everyone.

- Elder Winters

Monday, August 27, 2012

Elder Winters - August 27, 2012

Hey everybody, and welcome to P-day.  We've got a new elder in town, Elder Hui from Toronto, Canada.  You all know what this means - more discrimination against the white American elder.  No, seriously, he's a stud, his Mandarin is through the roof, and he can actually play basketball.  His parents both hail from Hong Kong, so he can speak Cantonese to boot.  I'll be with him and Elder Wang for 6 weeks, and then the real craziness begins when Elder Li from China/Japan comes.  

So, I've learned this week that at dinner when someone asks, "Would you like some of this?" the most expedient response should be a prompt, "What is that?" instead of "Sure!  Why not?"  This may come from the occasion when there was a big bowl of tripe in the middle of the table.  I unfortunately employed the latter response when asked the above question, so, yes, I got a big plateful of stomach for my stomach this past week.  And also, out of curiosity, does anyone know if the inside of cow stomachs have cilia?  I just want to make sure exactly what those things are and I'm afraid my limited knowledge of biology is going down the tubes.

Outside of culinary craziness, we have experienced some fun service activities this past week.  One of them included moving several large objects into someone's new house.  As many of you know, it is a custom among the Chinese to take one's shoes off every time you enter a house. This proved to be somewhat inconvenient, especially when Elder Wang and self were carrying the what seemed like 3,000 pound TV into the house.  Needles to say, we became pretty good at taking off our shoes while walking while carrying large, heavy objects.  

In awesome exciting spiritual news, Guo Jiemei got baptized and confirmed this week.  We didn't think she would make it this week because she's been quite busy lately, but on Wednesday she expressed that she wanted to make her goal for Staurday, so we were scrambling a little bit this week.  But, everything went well and decently smoothly.  Also, I have an experience uncannily similar to my sister Rebecca's.  Guo Jiemei was very nervous before her baptism, but when I talked to her afterward she said the feeling was completely gone.  She was so incredibly happy, and we were so incredibly happy for her.  I know she made a correct choice.  I also know she has full access to the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ as she continues to live the gospel.  The work is true, it's amazing, it's the best ever, have a great week everyone.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Elder Winters - August 12, 2012

Hey everyone, there's a short note coming up, sorry about that.  This is the last week in the transfer, and it turns out that Elder Hui from Canada will be coming a week from tomorrow eh.  I think he just aboot knows Chinese, so that'll be good eh.  And he will probably a source of constant lame jokes for me.  Eh.  But, alas, it will be short lived because six weeks later Elder Li from Japan will arrive and I will most likely become his companion, due to the fact that he probably can't drive and I'd prefer to not be on a bike.  And I will still remain the only white kid in my district.   

Some cool stuff has been going on this week.  One of our investigators is heading back to Taiwan, where I hope my sister will get to baptize her.  Or at least see her.  Either way, it will happen.  I don't have too much time so I'll just leave you with a cool experience.  Last night before planning we went out to put a somewhat nice note on a neighbor's door.  I just felt the need to do it, so off we went.  And then, who would we run into but some Chinese lady (that does not happen very often at all at 9 o'clock at night and at our apartment complex).  And she turned out to be pretty potential!  This time, no joke.  She has relatives in Utah who love it there.  I thought that was cool, and I know we were supposed to run into her.  

This is the Lord's work.  The scriptures are true. They are the Lord's word.  They are awesome.  You all are awesome.  Have an awesome week.

- Elder Winters

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Elder Winters - August 6, 2012 Beware of Dog

Hello everyone.  How's it going?  Rhetorical question, I know, but in my mind you're all doing great.  Except maybe those of you that are starting school soon.  Anyway, regardless of how you all are doing, I'm doing fantastic, thank you very much.  I'm in a new location today.  This email hails from Newport Beach, and I can see the beach through the library window.  Okay, I've got to stop now.  Things have been rolling here in the Anaheim mission.  The English elders are on fire, and we came across a entirely Asian neighborhood in the northernmost part of our mission a few days ago.  It was very strange to see only Asians on the street, because I've only seen that in restaurants before.  Well, as it turned out, quite a few of them were Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean, so it wasn't quite as golden as we thought it was.  And, in addition to that, it was a 40 minute drive away from our church, and there aren't too many people in Southern California that would brave that every week.  (Call us wimps, but it's true.) 
We've also seen some pretty great miracles this week.  One of them occurred when Elder Wang and self decided to abandon all reason and enter into a yard that had a huge sign that said "BEWARE OF DOG."  Being male, we thought we were up to the task.  Well, we knocked on the door and a few seconds later a huge pitbull comes sprinting like mad towards us.  I felt my life flash before my eyes (it didn't take long) as the pitbull jumped onto my knees and started to....lick my hands.  The owner came out and told us that the pitbull was very friendly and didn't bite at all.  The miracle is.....we talked to him about the gospel and he said he's been waiting for this all of his life and he's getting baptized this week.  Okay, that last part was a bit of a fabrication.  He wasn't too interested.  The real miracle is that I didn't wet my slacks.  A small miracle, but a miracle nonetheless for those that know me. 
Aside from all crazy stories, let's get to the part that really makes it all worth it: the spiritual experiences.  Guo Tongxue continues to be awesome despite having slept through church at 1:30 (let's face it, the life of a student can be hard).  She was the one that suggested we start our lesson with a prayer, she set up a ride to go to our branch campout without us knowing, and she set up our next appointment.  Really great.  Well, she's just now starting to believe in God via the Spirit's guidance, and it's an awesome thing to behold.  In our last lesson when we were talking about prayer she said, "I really hope God doesn't forget about me," to which Elder Wang said, "He has never forgotten about you."  I thought that was amazing once I started thinking about it a little more.  Even if we completely reject Him, God keeps track of every single one of His some-odd 6 billion living children.  He's sad when we make wrong choices and is absolutely ecstatic when we make right ones.  Just thinking about that a little more every day should keep us on the right path.  I know that this is His work, and I have felt His help throughout the day in every aspect of the work.
Have a sweet week, everyone.
- Elder Daniel Winters

Monday, July 30, 2012

Elder Winters - July 30, 2012

Hey everybody.  Welcome to another week in the mission life.  I was just at the grocery store and this very old Taiwanese lady walks by us, reads my nametag, and in very broken English says, "" and then my companion cuts her off and says "Yes, he can speak Chinese" in Chinese.  Then she asks what church we're from.  I say, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."  She goes, "Oh.  I'm Christian. My least favorite church is the Mormons." Me: "We are Mormons."  Her: "Mormons don't believe in Jesus Christ."  Me: "We believe in Jesus Christ." Her: "Mormons don't believe in the Bible." Me: "We believe in the Bible."  Her: "My least favorite church is the Mormons." Me: "Do you like us?" After which she cackles just like the old lady in the scary Avatar: The Last Airbender bloodbending episode and then walks away.  THAT was funny.  In actuality, I think she did like us.

Anyway, aside from talking with old Chinese ladies, there have been some fun and awesome stuff going on around here.  One of them being we found an amazing investigator!  Guo Tongxue.  She's awesome.  She made it through three hours of church like a pro and the branch was super helpful in making her feel at home, as always.  We found her while contacting her at UCI, just as we were about to walk over to our car.  Lesson learned is don't give up, even when walking over to your car (or bike).  I like to think that I've been being blessed with boldness lately (I'm just trying to become like my sister Becca).  In our first lesson we had with Guo Tongxue, she said she didn't believe in God.  I said, much to my own surprise: "Well, Heavenly Father is there, whether you believe in him or not."  At the end of the lesson, she was so willing to say a prayer.  She even set up a baptismal date!  Awesome stuff.  We were incredibly blessed to find her.  Great stuff is going on, and prayers are being answered.  

In even more spiritual news, we had a cool lesson with a recent convert family.  Their eight-year-old son has been reading scripture like a maniac.  He's even been reading a lot in the Bible lately (and I'm pretty sure it's got to be at least equally as hard in Chinese as it is in English).  I asked him if he liked reading scriptures, after which he nodded his head very rapidly.  Then I asked, "Why?" It took him a little while to answer.  Finally, he said, "Well, this is Jesus Christ's Church, so we should do the things Jesus Christ says."  Such a simple but powerful answer caught me off guard.  I almost got a little teary-eyed from his answer and received a better testimony of why Jesus Christ taught that we should become as a little child in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Amazing.  Simply enough, I know that what he said is true.  And Jesus Christ said to preach His gospel, and that's what I'm doing.  It's the best!

Have an awesome week.

- Elder DBW

Elder Winters - July 23, 2012

Hey everybody, sorry to disappoint, or for some people, I'm glad I can cater to your desires for a shorter letter from me, because that is exactly what I am going to have to give if I can't learn how to type more quickly.  Things have been great this week.  Things like me parking in really dumb spots but the incredibly long walks that result from it lead to us finding someone cool makes me know that I have a Father in Heaven who gives me spiritual impressions, even if I do feel really dumb in the interim.  (Sorry, that last sentence is a nightmare; interpret it if you can.)  Also, things like Chinese dads asking their American born kids why their Chinese can't be as good as mine make me feel that my Chinese might possibly be improving.  So my spirits are up, and there was even a huge sale on Easter candy today at the store to boot.  Wow.  It's great to be me.  

Well, the work right now is moving along, as it always will be when we think about Who is behind it all.  I know this is Heavenly Father's work for His children.  That alone makes me feel honored.  It's crazy, exciting, challenging, and spiritual.  And there's no other place I'd rather be.  Have a great week, everyone.

Elder Daniel Winters

Elder Winters - July 16, 2012

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a macabre Friday the 13th.  I sure didn't, mostly in part because I forgot, and the Chinese don't care anyway.  Actually, the Chinese are all afraid of the number 4 because the character for 4 looks similar to the one that means "death," so somehow that means 4 is unlucky.  I will have to be very short today, but I won't apologize because that may actually come as a relief to some of you.  I will just leave you with the part that you should't be annoyed with, and that is my testimony.  I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that Heavenly Father is there, and that they both love all of us with a love that is incomprehensible.  I know that I am doing the Lord's work now.  Nothing could make me happier right now.

You all are wonderful - have a great, lucky week.

Elder Winters

Elder Winters - July 9, 2012

Hello everybody.  I just got my hair cut and I'm feeling fine.  Seriously, the weather is getting up to a record 84 degrees over here, so this was much needed.  Today is transfer day, so after much biting of the fingernails, we found out that the Asian zone is staying the same.  Actually, our zone leader called in and said, "Elder Winters, you're getting transferred to an English area."  It took my mind about five seconds to realize he was joking.  A very long five seconds.  No worries, my heart resumed beating and I'm still in the Chinese program.  Our temporary Elder Wang gets released tomorrow, so it'll be six more weeks with myself and the other Elder Wang until Elder Li from Japan arrives.  Very few surprises here, at least when it comes to transfers.  

On the other hand, there are a ton of surprises when you're out finding people to teach.  For example, yesterday we were out knocking and we happened to knock on the door of this Taiwanese lady.  She opened the door with one hand and had about 5 or 6 "full" diapers in the other. She said, "Uh, I'm a little busy right now.  Maybe next time would be better."  It was hard to not start laughing before she closed the door.  Aside for that, one dinner this past week I got a fortune cookie with a rather startling fortune inside: "Love is around the corner."  I certainly hope not.  Unless it is talking about Christlike charity, which I have no problem with.

I've been studying a bit about personal revelation lately.  It's interesting to me when Nephi points out that if you "receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."  Also, if we are careful to pray often about the things we do, God "will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."  I have also heard from Elder David A. Bednar that the majority of spiritual promptings that we receive will just come out of efforts of trying to be a "good boy."  Some may even go unnoticed by us.  I know even if I receive a prompting to be at a certain place knocking on doors at a certain time and all we get to do is talk to a lady holding half a dozen diapers, that work will still be consecrated because it was exactly where the Lord wanted us to be.  If you look at where you are in life and see that it's hard, ask yourself if you're doing what the Lord wants you to be doing.  If the answer is yes, you have nothing to worry about.  Just press on with that confidence, and that work and those trials will be consecrated for you as you become the person Heavenly Father wants you to become.  The mission is awesome, you all are awesome, and the gospel is awesome.  Have an awesome week.

- Elder Winters

(Editor's note: If you want to see his new haircut he was tagged in a photo on Facebook - Elder Daniel Winters)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Elder Winters - July 16,2012

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a macabre Friday the 13th. I sure didn't, mostly in part because I forgot, and the Chinese don't care anyway. Actually, the Chinese are all afraid of the number 4 because the character for 4 looks similar to the one that means "death," so somehow that means 4 is unlucky. I will have to be very short today, but I won't apologize because that may actually come as a relief to some of you. I will just leave you with the part that you should't be annoyed with, and that is my testimony. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that Heavenly Father is there, and that they both love all of us with a love that is incomprehensible. I know that I am doing the Lord's work now. Nothing could make me happier right now.

You all are wonderful - have a great, lucky week.

Elder Winters

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Elder Winters - July 9, 2012

Hello everybody.  I just got my hair cut and I'm feeling fine.  Seriously, the weather is getting up to a record 84 degrees over here, so this was much needed.  Today is transfer day, so after much biting of the fingernails, we found out that the Asian zone is staying the same.  Actually, our zone leader called in and said, "Elder Winters, you're getting transferred to an English area."  It took my mind about five seconds to realize he was joking.  A very long five seconds.  No worries, my heart resumed beating and I'm still in the Chinese program.  Our temporary Elder Wang gets released tomorrow, so it'll be six more weeks with myself and the other Elder Wang until Elder Li from Japan arrives.  Very few surprises here, at least when it comes to transfers.  

On the other hand, there are a ton of surprises when you're out finding people to teach.  For example, yesterday we were out knocking and we happened to knock on the door of this Taiwanese lady.  She opened the door with one hand and had about 5 or 6 "full" diapers in the other. She said, "Uh, I'm a little busy right now.  Maybe next time would be better."  It was hard to not start laughing before she closed the door.  Aside for that, one dinner this past week I got a fortune cookie with a rather startling fortune inside: "Love is around the corner."  I certainly hope not.  Unless it is talking about Christlike charity, which I have no problem with.

I've been studying a bit about personal revelation lately.  It's interesting to me when Nephi points out that if you "receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."  Also, if we are careful to pray often about the things we do, God "will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."  I have also heard from Elder David A. Bednar that the majority of spiritual promptings that we receive will just come out of efforts of trying to be a "good boy."  Some may even go unnoticed by us.  I know even if I receive a prompting to be at a certain place knocking on doors at a certain time and all we get to do is talk to a lady holding half a dozen diapers, that work will still be consecrated because it was exactly where the Lord wanted us to be.  If you look at where you are in life and see that it's hard, ask yourself if you're doing what the Lord wants you to be doing.  If the answer is yes, you have nothing to worry about.  Just press on with that confidence, and that work and those trials will be consecrated for you as you become the person Heavenly Father wants you to become.  The mission is awesome, you all are awesome, and the gospel is awesome.  Have an awesome week.

- Elder Winters

Monday, July 2, 2012

Elder Winters - July 2, 2012

[Editor's note: For those of you who get Rebecca's emails this is such a stark contrast in length from hers!  It just struck me as funny...]

Hello everybody, and happy July.  It's been weird to see signs here that say, "Happy Independence Day!!!!!!" in Chinese.  I'm not exactly sure what the Fourth of July will bring, so we'll see how that goes.  People are currently putting up their American flags that say "MADE IN CHINA" on the stick part, meaning that we may be involved in one way or another.  

Besides national festivities, many crazy things have been going on here, including Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on our door and teaching us about the earth inheriting its paradisaical glory , yours truly cleaning our bathtub for the first time since Merriweather Lewis discovered it in 1806, and Korean people giving us fish heads to eat.  This last incident occurred when myself and Elder Wang were on an exchange with one of the Korean elders in our district.  We went to a very-Korean restaurant with one of the members from their branch.  The best part was him announcing to the table, "You elders are so lucky.  I just ordered six lovely salmon heads for us all to eat!"  The expression of disbelief on my part was drowned out by the excited cries of the other elders at the table.  Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I'm still in the United States.

Outside of crazy stuff, there has also been a lot of spiritual stuff happening.  We've had some great lessons this past week and some prepared people put in our path.  The Spirit has been with us and we've felt His presence as well as His help.  This past week I've felt an increased awareness of our Father in Heaven.  He really is there, He really does love us, and He wants us to follow His Son's example.  We're out here to lead people to know how to do just that, so that we can all live together, as families, in Heavenly Father's presence.  What a supernal thought.  And I know it's true.

Have a great week, everyone.

Elder Winters

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Elder Winters - June 25, 2012

Hello all, and welcome to a new companionship here in sunny California.  Our trio now comprises of three W's: Wang, Wang, and Winters.  After Elder Kim's departure last Tuesday, we are now taking on one of the branch's recent converts, Jason Wang, as a temporary full-time (?) missionary.  So, he will be with Elder Wang and myself 24/7 for three weeks.  To adequately describe how I feel right now, I have to throw in a Harry Potter reference: I feel like Hagrid getting asked a question a minute by two people that were recently Muggles and have no clue what certain things are because they are unique only to the Magic Missionary World.  All is well though, I am loving everything about it.  Both of my companions are superb and are ready to work, so there's nothing to complain about.  

This past week our branch held the traditional Dragon Boat Festival.  The actual history of the whole festival is a little macabre - from what I can understand, some Chinese poet got depressed about something, then consequently drowned himself in a river.  In order to save his body from the insatiable appetites of the ravenous local fishes, the local townspeople spent a lot of time carefully making these rice cakes filled with meat and rice and mushrooms, then threw them into the river.   And that's why it's called the Dragon Boat Festival.  Despite not being able to connect with the byzantine history of China, we had a good time and were able to meet some great new people.  One of our recent members even threw down a challenge to one of her friends to get baptized.  Great stuff going on down here.  

In spiritual news, we have an investigator that has extremely bad eyesight.  We were able to teach him part of the Plan of Salvation this past week.  When we talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I had the opportunity to bear testimony that God gives us challenges because He knows we can grow from them, and we can always rely on Jesus Christ because "the Son of Man hath descended below them all," "that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." I know the power of the Atonement is real.  Jesus Christ is our Savior.  He payed the price of our sins and went through all pain and discomfort in order to help us, His friends.  It's amazing and is something I'm grateful for every day.

Have an excellent week, everyone.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Elder Winters - June 17, 2012

Hello everybody, and happy Father's Day to you living in the States.  Bit of interesting Chinese culture for you here: in China and Taiwan, Fathers day is on August 8, or 8/8, because "8" in Chinese is "ba" and "father" in Chinese is "baba."  So, the date is Ba Ba. Get it? These Chinese are so clever they make puns into holidays.  I love it.  

Anyways, sorry in advance because this will be a short email.  We played four square as a zone p-day activity and I just lost track of time as I was carried away in good memories from three and a half months ago.  If you can believe it, this time was even more fun than the MTC because we kept on making jokes from the Book of Mormon (when the king gets out, someone would say "and the kingdom was passed from Amalickiah to his brother Ammoron" or "the king was poisoned by degrees" or "even as ye have done unto me, so shall it come to pass that thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer the pains that I do suffer" and stuff like that).  Great stuff.  I never thought I would use what I learned from my personal study in a game of four square.

Cool thing happened at church yesterday.  One of our "investigators" that goes to church once in a while and attends our English class religiously and one that we meet with maybe once every two months had a crazy experience.  And I mean a crazy good one.  So the subject for our Gospel Principles class that day was baptism.  We talked about the importance about it and why it needs to be done with proper priesthood authority.  After a great closing prayer by one of our recent converts, this investigator just looked at me in shock.  I pretty surprised by this and was like, " you feel the Spirit?"  And he was like, ".....I......have never felt like this."  And then I said, "Sweet.  That's the Spirit.  Feels awesome, doesn't it?" Now remember, this guy is like 80 years old.  He had a major spiritual experience, apparently the strongest one of his decently long life.  It was a cool experience.  And now we're going to meet with him on Wednesday to share how he can always have that feeling with him, because he's right - there's no other feeling like the Spirit, and there's nothing worth sacrificing to not have it.  I know confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints have the right to have the Holy Ghost with them at all times as they live up to their baptismal covenants.  That is an amazing promise.  I've felt the Holy Ghost's presence in my life and I feel Him leading me in this work.  It's great, and I know He exists.  

Have a spectacular week, everyone.

Elder Winters

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Elder Winters - May 28, 2012

Dear All,

I hope you've all had a relaxful week of summer.  And for those of you still in school, I hope you didn't have quite as a relaxful week, but rather a good balance of work and fun.  Speaking of which, that's what we at least try to make it in the mission field.  Unfortunately, some of these attempts can get out of hand, like the other day when we thought it would be fun to try out some of Taiwan's famous 臭豆腐, or stinky tofu.  As it turns out, it wasn't fun.  (I know many of you are shaking your heads right now, but you must remember that we are still nineteeen-year-old kids.)  To put it frankly, upon closer examination and putting the stuff right under your nose to get a good whiff, it smelled like the inside of an elephant cage.  After nine months of not being cleaned.  It may have tasted okay, but the smell and the tears that inevitably came out upon eating it drowned out all other bodily senses.  Moral of the story is, don't trick yourself into thinking eating stinky tofu might possibly be fun.

In other news, I have a new companion.  Elder Wang is straight off the boat from northeastern China, went to the Provo MTC for three weeks, and has now been with us for a little under a week.  He is a convert of three years and elected to go on a mission after meeting an awesome returned missionary from New Zealand.  His accent is very thick, so if I can master listening and understanding him I think I can handle pretty much anything else.  His English is really good for never living in the USA before, a result from a few foreign teachers and watching some good old American TV shows.  He's going to be an awesome missionary.  Which is awesome for me, seeing as I'll be with him for a year and a half.  So for that, all's great in the microcosm that is the California Anaheim Mission Chinese Program [(CAMCP) - alright, I confess, I just made that up three seconds ago].

In more spiritual news, I have recently been thinking about priesthood power and authority.  The greatest distinguishing factor of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is her claim to the divine authority of the priesthood.  Our church has the priesthood authority restored through heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Priesthood power, however, comes only when acting in righteousness.  I can think of  many uses of priesthood power, though none stick out more to me than raising a family.  I think of my own dad and the example he set for me and what I want to bring to other people.  That's why I'm out here, really - to help God accomplish His purposes which include happiness in the family, something that priesthood power nourishes and helps grow with acting in kindness and righteousness.  I know the message I teach is true.
You're all so great.  Have a nice week.

- Elder Winters 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Elder Winters - May 28, 2012

Editor's note - Our computer was in the shop for a week so you should be getting another email from Daniel tomorrow!  Sorry for the delay.

Hello everybody, and welcome to a new transfer.  Not too much new stuff happens on transfer day in the Asian programs because the only changes we get are welcoming new people and kicking out old people, and, through knowing the right people in the right places in the mission office, we know that months in advance already.  This transfer we are actually doing both.  Tomorrow we get our new companion, Elder Wang from China, and then three weeks later will be Elder Kim's send-off back to Korea.  The influx of elders from Asia tells me that there is something I need to learn from these people.  Either that, or I just can't be trusted with another white guy struggling to learn Chinese.  With that picture in mind, I am truly grateful to not have that trial just yet at this point in my mission (knock on wood). 

Even with all this Asian talk, there's nothing like good old English once in a while.  This past week I had the privilege of going on an exchange with one of my zone leaders, who is assigned in an English ward here in Irvine.  It was legit and weird at the same time.  For one thing, I could talk and had to talk to everyone.  It was a pretty thrilling experience and also very humbling.  Kudos to those of you who are completely surrounded by the people you serve and teach.  My testimony about just being willing, worthy, and working and then watching the Lord do His work was strengthened that day.  

In other exchange news, I went on a brief exchange with the Vietnamese elders to visit my grandmother's friend in Anaheim.  The visit went well, though we also went on some other visits I was not expecting.  We went to see a member who had not been to church for some time.  He was maybe seventy or so and spoke nothing but Vietnamese.  Strike that, he spoke a little English, but it was harder for me to understand that than it was for me to understand his Vietnamese.  Near the end of the lesson, the man grabbed my arm suddenly and then apparently said something along the lines of this: "You look like the person who baptized me.  That is wonderful.  Say the closing prayer."  After all that fun, it is refreshing to be back teaching Chinese people, when I can at least partially understand what's going on.  

In spiritual news, we're teaching a kid named Jack.  He's the son of one our recent converts.  He is a stud.  It's such a privilege to be part of his journey on the path that we all should want to be on.  His mom is excited for him and is now working on her husband.  I'm reminded of President Boyd K. Packer's words from his last general conference talk, in which he succinctly stated: "The ultimate end of all activity in the church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood."  That's it.  I've seen it happen in my own family, and the purpose of my mission is to bring that to others.  It is a wonderful process and is something that is incredible to watch happen.  I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the things we teach are true and they bring lasting happiness.  

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

- Elder Daniel Winters

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Elder Winters - May 21, 2012

Hello everyone.  It's been a marvelous week here in sunny California.  The English elders are complaining that it's starting to get hot, but I wouldn't know.  Sometimes I feel like I'm not a true missionary without a bike under me, but it's all good.  We'll see what the future holds.  

Talking with the fam last week there was again mentioned the subject of food.  I have come to the realization that I have neglected to mention food for a while now.  Sorry about that.  I will now disclose that I think my favorite food here is Vietnamese food.  Vietnam was occupied by the French for quite some time, so think of an Asian-French cuisine hybrid.  It's awesome stuff.  Except fish sauce.  I asked one of the Vietnamese elders here how they make it.  His answer: they put down a layer of fish, put a layer of salt on top of that, then put on another layer of fish, and so on...and then all the juices that leak out of that creation are bottled up and sold as fish sauce.  Good stuff.

Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty.  Remember that last week we had a surprise investigator?  Well, this week we had two surprise baptisms.  It was the weirdest thing ever.  One thing led to another and then our surprise investigator turned out to be amazing and got baptized on Tuesday.  After that, her friend who has been meeting with missionaries since before I got here decided that she wanted to get baptized as well so they could do it together.  She was baptized on Saturday.  The Lord works in funny ways.  No matter how we taught her, there was still that catalyst that she needed to actually make the baptismal covenant.  She gave up coffee as soon as she learned she was going to be baptized this week.  All of this because the Lord led us to her friend who was super prepared to receive the gospel.  Wow.  This is the Lord's work, which means He's in charge of it and He pretty much does it on His own.  We just kind of have to be here and be willing and worthy to do what He wants.  It's incredible.  I love it here.  I know what we teach is true.  I've had confirmations from the Holy Ghost time and time again.  It's true.  God is our loving Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ is His Son, and they both love us perfectly.  What a blessing.

Have a sweet week.
Elder DBW

This is from his baptism on Tuesday, May 15th:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Elder Winters - May 14, 2012

Hey everybody and happy Mother's Day.  I sure hope some of you at BYU aren't mothers just yet; I haven't been gone that long. 

So this week has been a good one.  First off, I got to talk to my family yesterday for a little while.  If anyone is curious, they are doing great, and I'm doing just swell as well.  Also, another good thing has been a surprise investigator that came to church last week and then called us Tuesday morning asking if she could meet with us to discuss Priesthood authority in our church.  She is on fire and is coming to know the truthfulness of the things we share with her.  

This morning I was able to do some Tai Qi with about thirty old Chinese people in a nearby park.  If anybody says that Tai Qi is not a workout, they are lying.  I got worked by the 60-80 demographic.  Though it was a lot of fun just mimicking what the group leader did and it was a good opportunity to find interested people to boot.  I had my workout clothes on today, but still I heard some whispers of "传教士" (missionary) among the old women a little bit.  They must know that no other nineteen year old would be crazy enough to be white and learn Chinese at the same time if he didn't have a true message to share.  

That brings me to the message we share.  I know it's true.  I know that our Church has the Priesthood authority restored through heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith after it was lost after the Apostles were persecuted and killed.  We have the authority given from God to baptize in Jesus Christ's name, as did John the Baptist and Jesus' apostles in His time.  It is what distinguishes us from other churches.  I know it is a blessing and is only used to serve others.  It's the Lord's work I'm doing, and He's not letting me do it by myself.  

Have a great week.

Elder Winters

Daniel at the home of a member who wrote me an email, the subject of which was "We love Elder Winter."  So fun!