Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elder Winters - January 31, 2012

Hey everybody, it's been a great week at the MTC studying Chinese and hopefully becoming a better person.  I think today I'll focus a litttle bit more on Chinese than I have in the past.
First things first.  Favorite words.  Our district's favorite response has to be yinggai keneng ba (pronunciation: eeng guy kuh nuhng bah).  It means "Probably possible maybe."  Chinese people add a "ba" at the end of a sentence when they're uncertain about something.  It's great.  I love it.  And I probably use it a little too often.  But our teachers just laugh at us, so all is well.
More fun with Chinese.  The word "Aizi" when you say it like you say "hey!" to somebody means "Beloved Son."  The word "Aizi" when said in the lower pitch of your voice means "midget."  Got to be careful about that when reciting the First Vision.  I think the Chinese did this on purpose because they enjoy having a good laugh.  Another example.  "Zhujiao" when said like at the bottom of your voice then say "jiao" like you say "hey!" means "bishop."  When said incorrectly, though, "zhujiao" means "pig's feet."  How did those zhujiao taste, Becca?  Those clever Chinese.
Allow me to slowly transition into other cultures.  I found some Japanese shampoo in the free box the other day, probably left by a Japanese elder some while ago.  Japanese shampoos are weird (what does that sound like?  Sorry, only people like Jacob will probably get that).  The Japanese use some Chinese characters in their language, so I could actually pick out a few meanings.  For example, I found the character meaning "to wash."  I'm hoping that means that I am using the shampoo correctly, and I am desperately hoping the rest of the sentence does not say "Do not use to wash white people's hair" or "Only use to wash blue hair."  Because, if you're Japanese, you gotta have blue hair (again, sorry, probably only Jacob will get this reference). 
More culture.  In this case, culture shock.  I once again saw the Samoan elder go at it.  One lunch time, he literally put away about 8 hamburger patties.  The best part was when one of these patties was in between two chocolate-frosting-almond-covered donuts.  Incredible. 
Now allow me to conclude with a spiritual thought.  In Preach My Gospel, it talks about renewing Moroni's promise in the Book of Mormon to pray about it to know whether it is true regularly.  I feel that as we do this God will give us more of those small testimony-building experiences when we read the Book of Mormon.  The kind that we look at and say, "This is great.  This book is true.  I'm going to do something differently because this is true."  I'd invite you all to look at Moroni's promise again in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon and do what he asks again.  I know that your testimony will be strengthened as mine has been, little by little. 
You all are great.  Strike that, you all are wonderful.  Have an excellent week.
Elder Winters

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elder Winters - January 25, 2012 Xin Nian Kuaile!

Hello everybody not on a mission, with the exception of Becca, and Xin Nian Kuaile, or Happy New Year.  This is the year of the dragon, and you all know what that means.  It means Chinese people are now frantically trying to have kids so they will grow up to be exactly like dragons, who I hear are very wise, powerful, and surprisingly friendly.  We missionaries celebrate it by putting on red ties and cleaning up our classroom on New Year's Eve - yes, very wild.  But, I wouldn't have it any other way, unless another way included eating a lot of dumplings. 
This has been a good week.  Like I said before, we had an excuse to wear red ties and clean our classroom, but also I had the privilege of seeing my good freind and my sister Becca's even better friend Dallin Quinn at the temple this morning.  He had no clue I was going to be there, so we took it as inspired that he was there.  In addition to that, this past week the 35 or so new missionaries arrived into our Mandarin-speaking zone. It's been my immense pleasure to help them learn the ropes and whatnot, while at the same time getting to know a lot of them.  They are all really great and are excited to be here.  A Samoan elder in particular is especially excited to be here, specifically in the cafeteria.  It was an amazing sight that I will not soon forget as I saw him consume five donuts, two pancakes, a plate of hashbrowns, eggs, and sausages, as well as three cream cheese-laden bagels one breakfast.  All washed down with a couple of glasses of chocolate milk.  Incredible. 
In Chinese news, things are picking up at a pretty good pace.  We are finishing up teaching all of the lessons and are actually hosting a baptism this Saturday.  There have been a few innocent yet hilarious mistakes recently, though.  For example, ´´hen,´´ when said in the lower pitch of the voice, means ´´very.´´  When you change the tone and say ´´hen´´ like you say ´´hey!´´ to somebody, with your pitch falling, it means ´´hate.´´  A few prayers have had their quiet reverence disrupted when it has been said, ´´We hate love thee.´´  But that's all water under the bridge. 
In spiritual news, we have been looking to some of the greatest missionaries in the history of the universe for some of the greatest examples of humility.  Ammon is one of these, specifically in Alma 26.  He is always aware that he is an instrument in the Lord's hands.  And, just like the instrument, he is aware that is the Master that does the work and produces the incredible blessings, and that it is all the instrument can do to perform exactly as the Master would have him perform.  I'd invite you all to read that chapter and ponder about it for a while.  The scriptures are great, our message is true, and the Church contains the fulness of Jesus Christ's Gospel.
You all are wonderful, so have a wonderful week.
Elder Winters

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elder Winters - January 17, 2012

Hey everybody, it's been a slow week here at the MTC, but life continues to go on and continues to be great.  With Becca's crew gone, there are just 14 of us Chinese-speakers in our zone, but we're all excited to welcome the 34 new missionaries that will arrive tomorrow.  The good thing about the older generation of missionaries being gone is that they leave all the stuff they would have to throw away at customs or just couldn't take the weight.  Needless to say, I have acquired several items, including new shoes, a great new jacket, new woolen socks, and a new huge bag of sunflower seeds. 
In other news, I got my first non-Becca hug as a missionary ealier this week.  Sister Douglas from my ward back home was walking down the hall the same time as I was, and when we saw each other she ran up and gave me a hug.  Still not used to giving up hugs becuase of Becca, I automatically reciprocated, and as a result, I got a lot of grief from the zone.  Just so that I can remain guilt-free, I can assure you all that it is nowhere in the missionary handbook that you are not allowed to hug people. 
In addition to me allegedly breaking rules, I am breaking norms in half with my new plan of giving up four square during gym time.  After very sincerely wanting to help one of the new Korean elders find his way into a trash can, I have decided that such feelings of competition and frustration should not be found in a missionary, therefore I will as of now strive to take away the source of such feelings, namely, four square.  It will be rough, and I am expecting withdrawals, so please pray for me.
In spiritual news, I have been thinking a lot about the commandments God give us.  Some people think they are bothersome because they keep them from things they want to do, but as we sincerely strive to follow every commandment that is given to us, we will come to see that they are not bothersome rules to limit happiness but rather incredibly convenient and helpful instructions on how to gain the most happiness.  I can see more and more that keeping a commandment that our loving Heavenly Father has given us will always result in us having more happiness and protection than from not keeping it.  Therefore, I would encourage you all to look for a commandment that you may indulge in not keeping, and resarch how your life would be better if you followed it completely. 
Thanks everyone for your constant support.  You all are awesome, and I love you.  Have a spectacular week.
Elder Winters

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10, 2012

Hello everybody, it's a sad day in the MTC as it has lost one of its best missionaries: my sister, Rebecca.  Parting was hard this morning, as I won't see her for the longest of my family members.  Though it was hard, I know it is for the very best reason that she is going off into a very foreign country where not many speak fluent English.  It is because we have truth, truth that can and will change people's lives for eternity, and it is the noblest cause to go and give up everything to preach that truth to those who desperately need it, but only do not know where to find it.  That is our purpose, and I know our Heavenly Father will completely support us in doing His work.  
You all are great, have a wonderful week.
Elder Winters 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Elder Daniel Winters - January 3, 2012

Hello everybody and Happy New Year.  I hope your countdown was considerably more exciting than mine, seeing as I just went to bed at 10:30 as usual and didn't even do a countdown to bedtime.  I also didn't remember it was the new year until another elder asked me the next morning if I had stayed up til 12.  I wondered why anyone in their right minds would do that if they had to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, and then it hit me.  So, happy 2012 everyone, and don't think about what might happen later on in the year on December 21.
I suppose I should write a little concerning Chinese.  It is coming surely and steadily, and hopefully some goals we've set for the new year will help boost that progess.  I hope to be able to talk somewhat fluently with my teacher by the time I leave.  I don't think I've mentioned this, but my instructor unfortunatley happens to be very fit, so along with speaking Chinese with him I hope to be able to keep up with him in the pushups he makes us do in order to stimulate blood flow into our brains so that we can learn Chinese better.  Right now, though, that seems hopeless.
That brings me to my state of fitness.  I had a dream last night wherein I took off my shirt, looked in the mirror, and to my horror I was 200 pounds heavier.  Seriously, fat drooping down over my waistline.  Imagine Dudley Dursley in the fourth Harry Potter book, and that was me.  I actually in my dream was so shocked that I wrote down "go jogging" in my daily planner for something to do during gym time so I could lose the weight quickly.  Upon waking up and seeing myself only a little bit as overweight in my dream, I concluded that I might be safe with still sticking with four square.  One can only hope that I have not become a person capable of receiving premonitions. 
On a more spiritual note, I'd like to mention something about the grace of Christ. 
I think we may sometime take this for granted because He is so willing to give it to us if we but repent and strive to be more like Him.  Our Heavenly Father needed someone this perfect and selfless in order to accomplish His plan.  Thank goodness Jesus Christ was willing and loving and perfect enough to give us this great and wonderfully free gift of which we can partake.  I'd like to invite you all to sincerely thank Him for this in a prayer today.  It is the whole reason we can actually progress and gain joy in this life.  I hope you all have some time to ponder that today.
Have a great start to this new year everyone, you all are great.
Elder Winters