[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)