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