Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Elder Winters - April 23, 2012

(Daniel wrote to each family member this week but didn't really write an email to share.  Here are tidbits from the email he sent me.)

Happy anniversary! Thanks so much for your emails and your prayers.  You are continually in mine. 

(His companion leaves July 10th and he gets 2 new elders directly from mainland China.)

I think it's also a blessing to have a pretty fresh start for the Chinese program as soon as I'm the "oldest" elder speaking Chinese.  I'm praying that I'll be able to handle it and set a precedent for how the Chinese elders act and do missionary work.  

The zone is great.  There are a lot of new elders and a lot of old elders, so all three programs (Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese) are getting fresh starts soon.  We've been working on recent converts lately and setting up a lot of stuff for when the new elders arrive.  One of our bigger projects is assembling together the addresses of people with Chinese last names in the mission so we know where to tract.  Also, we want to soup up our English classes.  The new elders come July 10, the same day Elder Kim leaves, so on that day I'll be the leader.  I'm excited for the prospect.  

Last thing.  I thought this might interest you.  Well, in our interview President Bowen (the mission president) told me that Elder Bednar told him that he liked the response I gave at mission conference and I reminded him of one of his sons at first.  I thought that was really cool and felt really honored.

I hope you have a joyful week.


This is a picture of the Asian zone in the mission:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Elder Daniel Winters - April 16, 2012

Hello everybody.  It's been a somewhat slow week as we've been stuck inside for the majority of the week due to a medical condition my companion has.  It's been nice to have time to just study, but then again it's also pretty difficult to read scriptures when the person next door is playing DDR.  But still, it's been alright.  
Because not too much has been going on, I'm afraid I don't have too much to report.  There was an instance during sacrament meeting where the branch president's son in front of me was reading an Avatar: The Last Airbender book, which took more willpower than I could muster to not look at, it being my favorite TV show.  After several quick glances I got a hold of myself and was able to concentrate on the speaker.  Man, that was seriously one of the biggest temptations I've had since being out here. 
Not much other than that.  I want to add my testimony that God loves us, He watches over us, He gives us scriptures and prophets to give us solutions to life's problems, and He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins and set the perfect example for us.  I can't thank Them both enough.
Have a wonderful week.

Elder Winters

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fwd: Elder Winters - April 9, 2012 Happy Easter

Hello everybody, and Happy Easter.  I hope you all had a great time remembering our Savior's resurrection, because I know I sure did.  Easter in Chinese literally means "resurrection celebration," so they make it easy for us to remember.  

It's been a great week with a lot to talk about, including a guy eating pizza with chopsticks.  I'll do my best to filter out the less important things, but I can't make any promises that I won't stray into the topic of food. 

In exciting news, David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to our mission conference on Friday.  All I can say is that he is an Apostle of the Lord, comparable to one of Jesus' Apostles when He was on the earth.  It was amazing to see the spiritual pattern he used as he taught and it was incredible to see how much I could learn in three short hours.  He truly is an incredible individual. 

In teaching news, we are continuing with teaching quite a few people that were recently baptized, to help them review and keep the information fresh in their minds.  One couple we taught is from Taiwan, and they both speak limited English.  Also, their first language is Taiwanese (completely different from Mandarin), and they kind of incorporate some of that into their Mandarin, so it's pretty dang tough for me to understand.  Whenever we teach them, I'm always scared to death they will ask me a question and I'll say something dumb.  As it just so happens, I got the opportunity to express just how dumb I am and inadvertently took full advantage of it.  I was talking about how my sister was serving in Taiwan, and then the husband asked me a question.  I thought he asked about how many missionaries there are in the world, so I responded, "about 55,000."  There was an immediate uproar as it was quickly clarified that the question he asked was "how many sisters do you have?".  I guess it just wouldn't be a real mission without these experiences.

I'll talk about food just a little today.  I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of eating a dragonfruit.  Somehow, I imagined it tasting a whole lot cooler - in reality, kind of like an unsweet kiwi.  But still, I felt cool eating it.  Also, I felt like finding my inner chef this past week and cooking up something creative in the kitchen with pineapple, kimchi, and Chinese sausage.  As it turns out, I don't have an inner chef.  To make a long story short, I kind of put too much oil on the frying pan and left it on HIGH for just a little too long.  Man, and people thought the BP incident was bad.  As my last little tasty tidbit, I discovered a new delicacy in the Asian market: pork uterus.  Elder Kim hasn't had it yet but he's stated his opinion that it's "probably good."

In spiritual news, I would just like to let you all know that I know that we will all live again.  Our Savior broke the bands of death for us so that we all might be able to stand before God in His presence after we die.  This is a free gift to us all because Jesus Christ loves us.  If I don't know anything else, I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us.

I also love you all, and hope that you have a great week.

Elder Winters

Here is the infamous dragonfruit, the view from a member's home, and Daniel opening his Easter package.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elder Daniel Winters - March 23 & 26, 2012

Hello hello hello everybody.  Welcome to the special Friday edition of my email because we went to the temple this morning.  Really a beautiful temple, I recommend you all go there sometime.  

As far as California news goes, shockingly enough it's been a little chilly and rainy as of late.  Still, life goes on and I stay dry in the car that we drive.  Sometimes I feel that I'll never be a true missionary if I never get the opportunity to ride a bike.

In food news (sorry if you get tired of this, but food really never ceases to fascinate me), Elder Kim and myself recently went to the Asian market to buy our groceries (rice and kimchi).  I couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud when we passed by the frozen food section.  From this, I discovered that Koreans are really the Native Americans of Asia, as they don't let any part of any animal ever go to waste. This is what I saw, in order, and wrote down for you all:
Pork Loin
Pork Ear
Pork Ear Slice
Lamb Shoulder Butt
Frog Leg
Beef Tongue
Beef Blood
Pork Blood
Pock Hock (ankles)
Pork Feet
Pork Chin Bone
Pork Neck Bone
Pork Loin Chop
Pork Mini Loin Chop
Black Goat Stew
Pork Belly
Frozen Beef Bones
Beef Tendon
Assorted Tripe
Beef Large Intestine (Elder Kim: "They're really good")
Ox Feet
Ox Tail

I'm afraid if I'm offered some of these items at a members' house I may have to improvise.  Aside from our usual groceries, I also bought a weird looking fruit whose label said "CACTUS PEAR."  As it turns out, it was about as tasty as you would imagine a cactus being.  The fruit had a ton of seeds in it, which I ate just because I wasn't sure if I wasn't supposed to.  If I wasn't supposed to, I really hope that hundreds of cacti aren't growing in my stomach right now.  

Investigator news - we have a baptism tomorrow!  Really exciting stuff, especially as she was the first person I ever taught (we found her on my first full day).  When we taught her about the Plan of Salvation, I asked her to pray about it, and she said, "that's okay, I already believe it."  There truly are incredibly prepared people out there.  

Recently I've been studying about God's hopes and expectations for us all.  You've probably heard this before, but the only thing we can give to God that He doesn't have already is our wills.  In order to do that, we've got to make the right choices, plan out the right future, set the right goals, then act in all diligence while relying on Him as He shows us our weaknesses and makes them become strengths.  When we do all of that, we will be truly happy because He is truly happy for what we are doing, the people we are helping, and the people we are becoming.  

Have an awesome weekend, everybody.

Elder Daniel Winters

March 26th:
Hey everybody, long time, no typing.  Not really.  This will be pretty short, sorry, but there's really not too much to report after a weekend.  The baptism went without a hitch and the baptizee gave a wonderful testimony.   It's really fun to see how the Spirit works in people.  
In other news, I saw a ten-year-old kid who could play the slacks off me at the piano.  Those Chinese really know the secrets of unlocking their kids' musical talents.  Too bad I never discovered them.  Actually, the answer is probably "practice," but that's a story too long for me to get into.
Spiritual news, I recently read Elder Bednar's talk about grace and the Atonement from this month's Ensign.  I testify of its truthfulness as we all really need the Atonement for redemption, resurrection, healing, and strength.  God, through the Atonement, can turn us into the people He wants us to become as we humbly come unto Him.  

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Elder Daniel Winters

Picture from Saturday's baptismal service:

Elder Winters - April 2, 2012

[Editor's note: Sorry, I was on vacation last week and didn't have access to the email distribution list.  I should get another one out this evening!]

Hey everybody, it's been a great week in Southern California as the days continue to continue being sunny and warm, seeing as we are now entering springtime.  I also had a fantastic weekend, complete with attending General Conference at our stake center.  It's funny the change a mission can render in you - for most of the previous general conferences I watched, I couldn't wait for the next speaker because that was one more person closer to finishing.  Now for this one, I couldn't wait for the next speaker because I was so excited to hear the revelation from our modern-day prophets, literally God's word for us today.  It was great.  I also kept a list of things I wanted to change/start doing as I was listening, and I can tell you the list is pretty long, but that's what I want.  

Funny story from conference.  We had a man from Taiwan attend the Saturday morning session, but as it turned out no one set up earphones for the Chinese translations that the Church provides.  There was only a separate room with a smaller TV that had the Chinese translation coming out of it.  Wanting to stay with our guest, I tried to listen to the Chinese version with him, which turned out to be a pretty humbling experience.  It suffices to say that I could pick out a few words every three minutes or so (in my defense, the translators speak quickly and the vocabulary isn't exactly basic).  I switched out after a few talks, after which I had a very enjoyable experience.  

In cool news, we discovered a kid from Shanghai, China who has interest in going to church.  He went onto Mormon.org, put in some info, then requested us to meet him.  We missionaries then get a text about the information they submit.  It said that his mom is a member in China, so we thought he would be totally willing to go to Church and to hear the wonderful message of the Restoration of Jesus Christ's Gospel.  As it turns out, he was already baptized.  His mom got baptized in Hong Kong, then shared the Gospel with her family, and this guy got taught by members and baptized, all by members in Shanghai.  That was about three years ago, though he's been in America for one and a half years, all this time looking for one of our churches and a Book of Mormon.  We were so blessed to find him this week and have him commit to coming to Church with us every week.  It's made me think of what an amazing tool Mormon.org is.  If you haven't checked it out yet, I invite you to do so - it explains our church's core beliefs in a very simple and understandable way, which is exactly what Jesus would want for His doctrine.  

In spiritual news, my attention was drawn to a verse of scripture during conference - 2 Nephi 25:23: "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."  I think if you substitute the word "because" for the word "for," the scripture takes on some more meaning, namely, believing in Christ and being reconciled to God are requisites to qualify for the grace of Christ, therefore Nephi is trying to teach his children how to do just this.  I know that when we believe in Christ we are motivated to act on that, and become more like Him.  We are then ready to take the next step, to be reconciled to God, to let what He wants for us to become what we want for us, even if it's hard.  It is in that moment that we qualify for the grace of Jesus Christ, which empowers us to do everything the Father asks of us.  As Christ has said, "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33).  I know that that is true.  I know that something God wants us to do is to read the scripture He has provided for us.  If you haven't made reading the Book of Mormon a priority in your life to this point, I invite you to do so.  Test its words to know that they are God's.  I know from personal experience that they have lifted me up and enlightened me about the nature of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  I urge every one of you to read that book and pray about it.  I know it has the power to change your life because it is from God, and He has provided it for us in order to help us in all aspects of our lives.  

Everyone, know that I love you and have a wonderful week.

Elder Daniel Winters

This was cool.  We got special permission to go to a member's first endowment session as she got baptized by us a year ago.  A ton of people from the branch went, and it was a ton of fun.  Also, it was an incredibly spiritual experience to have this member hug me in the celestial room as she was crying and saying "xie xie" a thousand times over.  The church is true, and God sends His Spirit to reside with HIs children.



(Daniel at the Newport Beach Temple)