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