It felt like I spent a lot of time working in people's yards this week. Something about the scent of dirt under my fingernails and the slight burns on the back of my neck remind me that summer is around the corner. The sun is coming out again and bringing with it the warmth and joy of the season. I testify that in contrast to the earth's fickle seasons, those who reverence God can always have confidence that, "the Sun of righteousness [will] arise with healing in his wings" (Mal. 4:2). Regardless of the temporal climate, we can always be filled with light, comfort, and joy as our broken hearts are repaired through the healing power of Jesus Christ, who is both the Sun of Righteousness and the Son of God.

I felt what it means to be a "[fisher] of men" this week (Matt. 4:19). In just one day of 7, we found 18 people who were ready to "let God prevail" in their lives. Needless to say, the Lord astonished me. Whether or not we choose to believe it, some interactions are orchestrated, or perhaps just nudged to happen just right. God wants us to meet the people who need our help and He wants us to meet the people who will help us.

One such individual who was so very ready to meet the representatives of Jesus Christ was our dear friend Thiago. He's a package delivery man who, unfortunately, drives a delivery truck with no air conditioning. As a result, he takes the occasional break to get out of his vehicle and cool off a bit. On one such break, by divine providence he was approached by two missionaries named Elder Petersen and Elder Winegar. 

At first I wasn't sure we should talk to him, seeing as he was in his work uniform, but as I described, when the nudge from the spirit comes you just put away whatever you're thinking and go. So, we did. Turns out he had been thinking a lot about the tumultuous condition of the world and was intrigued to hear that despite the ever shifting moral tectonics of our time, there was solid ground in Jesus Christ. We taught him of the unchangeableness of the Holy Ghost which delivers us from deception and grounds us in truth (2 Nephi 2:4; Jn 16:13). We further explained covenants, promises with God that allow His Spirit to abound in our lives. These promises also secure us steadfastly to, "the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God." Thus, through covenants we build ourselves upon a sure foundation insomuch that we will not falter under the pressures of a changing world. (Hel. 5:12).

With his interest piqued, we asked if he desired such blessings for himself and his family. He told us he did. We then invited him to enter into covenantal safety by being baptized in the name of Christ. He happily agreed and is preparing himself for baptism on the 8th of July.

Like Thiago, there will inevitably come a time in each of our lives when we will pine for rest in greener pastures and to walk by stiller waters (Hymn 108; Psalm 23). I testify that the Good Shepherd offers tranquility to all who will make covenants with Him. 

A covenant differs from a worldly promise in the fact that the terms of the agreement are set by God and are eternally binding, when officiated by those holding His authority. These covenants connect or seal us to God and those around us by divine power, ensuring that we will be together after this life. 

The scriptures teach that, "If a man marry a wife…by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise…it shall be done unto them…in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world" (D&C 132:19). By similar ordinances the, "sealing of the children to their parents" is also made possible (D&C 138:48). Thus, we see through this patriarchal order, the possible "welding together" of the entirety of the human family and the perpetuation of earthly relationships for eternity (D&C 128:18). Indeed, those loving relationships that are our deepest wells of joy in this life need not be divided in death! (D&C 135:3).

Not only is it God's will for us to remain with each other forever, but perhaps even more significantly for us to "be with [Him] where [He is]; that [we] may behold [His] glory" (John 17:24). Through our covenants we can receive the sublime promise of being sealed to God. That we will be with Him where He is, enjoying the life He enjoys. When we are reunited with our earthly kin, our Saviour, and our Heavenly Father, "God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

I bear you my solemn and sure witness with the living prophets of these latter-days that, "The covenant connection we have with our Heavenly Father and His resurrected and living Son is the supernal source of perspective, hope, power, peace, and enduring joy" (David A. Bednar, April 2023). To those who have made covenants, I admonish you with all my love to keep them and qualify yourself for these magnificent blessings. To those who have not yet made covenants, the Lord is waiting with open arms to receive you.

My friends, stay strong.

Elder Winegar


Ease Up Kid—Hippo Campus

I See You—Phoebe Bridgers 

Elder Winegar, With Perfume and Oil

Friday, May 19, 2023

 As they say, it is always darkest before the dawn. I can testify that there is eternal truth within this temporal adage.  You may recall a somewhat challenging week endured by Elder Yonk and detailed in my last email. Well this week was nothing short of exceptional. Miracles simply rained down upon us. My faith in the divinity of a missionary's mantle continues to increase.

Where to begin? Towards the beginning of the week, as we were still coming out of the rut of the week prior, we found ourselves in a location that had been anything but friendly. In the very moment we began to complain, a man walked up the stairs and past us, then turned sharply back around noticing scriptures in my hands. As I introduced us as the missionaries, he rushed forward and essentially tore a copy of the Book of Mormon from my hands. After studying it for a moment, he looked up and asked simply, "Bible?" I held up a copy of the Bible in my hands and replied, "No, this is the Holy Bible. That is the Book of Mormon." Unsure what we meant, he asked, "Christian?" We affirmed that we believed in Christ. Then after a short, "follow me," he whisked us into his apartment.

He introduced himself as Washington and explained that he was from Beijing, where freedom of religion is mostly non-existent. He told us that he knew how important it was for everyone to know God and so he really, really wanted to become a Christian. So he had been reading the Bible every day. My jaw hit the floor. The Lord had sent one of His Father's most elect children directly to us, with no effort on our own part. We were astonished and humbled. We taught him very simply through the language barrier about the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. He promised he would read. As we left Washington said happily and with a big smile "We will be friends."

We had the opportunity to visit one of Stanford Medical's beautiful facilities and give another new friend, Crystal, a priesthood blessing. Having been discharged after an operation on her brain, Crystal thought she was in good shape—that is, until she began leaking spinal fluid from her nose and ears. She was rushed in for a second emergency surgery and shortly thereafter requested we come visit her. During the blessing, the Lord promised her through us that His will would be done and that even if she wouldn't be completely healed physically, she could be healed spiritually and find peace in whatever circumstance she would end up in. Following the blessing, through teary eyes, she thanked us and told us that though her way was fraught with trail, she now felt content with whatever her lot would be. I testify that the power of God is real and that its greatest miracles are wrought in the chambers of the heart.

Another friend Jason did not realize that he had spent the last five years repenting as he overcame his addictions and enjoyed sobriety. We taught that repentance was all about changing our lives for the better, aligning ourselves with God, and of course, preparing to enter into covenants at baptism. He accepted an invitation to be baptized and we are excited to see his growth continue and his joy deepen.

To finish it all off we had a most holy Stake Conference joined by Elder Morrison, Elder Merril, and Elder Daines. Elder Morrison, from Ghana, presided over the meeting and reorganized our stake presidency. So much knowledge was imparted to us by him and by many other brothers and sisters serving faithfully in the church. A central focus of His teachings was reconciling having questions and having faith. He taught, "You can absolutely be an exemplary Latter-day Saint and still have questions!"

Because of the fallen world we live in, it is expected we will have questions. We have questions about the unfairness of suffering. We have questions about the truthfulness of a cacophony of different voices in the world. We have questions about God, His nature, plan, and disposition towards us. Questions are and always will be a part of our lives. Thus, it becomes important that we know how to respond to them.

Some questions we have can easily be answered by applied study. We usually know these types of questions. Some questions take more time and require us to experience more of life before they are answered. Some questions may not be answered to our satisfaction in this life. Fortunately, we know that, "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21). Instead of allowing our questions to damage our faith by obsessing over them, we choose to continually seek knowledge, focus on the wealth of knowledge we do have, living according to it, and trust that one day our knowledge will be perfect.

Of all things to focus on during our questioning I can think of no better singular truth than the unchanging, universal, and all encompassing love of God. I testify that God is our creator and that of all the works of His hands, we are His most beloved creation. We are His children. He loves us perfectly. Only in His perfect love can we find true peace, joy, and rest. But sometimes, even this love can seem distant. To me, these poignant lyrics are instructive:

"We cannot see the love of God

Which saves us from the Fall, 

Yet know that Christ from wood and nails

Built mansions for us all."

The most express manifestation of God's character and His infinite love, is His Firstborn and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. If ever you doubt God's love, look to the Savior. Study His life, ministry, and especially His Atonement. Read the declarations of his love to us such as,

"I have loved you" (Mal. 1:2).

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you" (Jn. 15:9).

"The Father himself loveth you" (Jn. 16:27).

"[Father], the glory which thou gavest me I have given them…that [they] may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (Jn. 17:22-23).

I bear you my unshakeable testimony that I know, without a shadow of doubt, that you and I and every one of us are, "encircled about eternally in the arms of his love" (2 Ne. 1:15). I testify that eternally really does mean forever. "Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).

God loves you.

Elder Winegar


Low Rising—Swell Season

Time After Time—Iron and Wine

Saviour, Heal Me (see below)


Saviour heal me of transgression

Heal my wounded soul and heart

Leave on me a deep impression

Thy redeeming grace impart

That when again thou come to reign

I'll be purged of all my stain

O thou sweetest of forgiving

Fill my heart and give me rest

Worldly labours ne'er pursuing

So to pass this life's great test

Robes of purest charity

Let me clothe myself in thee

Though on earth we all shall want

Soon our God shall come to save

Do not heed the doubtful taunt

Christ shall raise us from the grave

So on Zion's mount we'll stand

With our Saviour hand in hand

Music: Rock of Ages, Hymn 111,

Thomas Hastings 1784-1872

Elder Winegar, D&C 58:4

Friday, May 12, 2023

Though you are afar off, know that you are continually near to my heart. I pray for you and I feel the strength of your prayers on my behalf, for which I am ever grateful. 

A few experiences I will share with you. 

The majority of my time this week was spent assisting a Nigerian family move their entire apartment before the landlord's deadline without the help of the patriarch of the home, who was recovering from a hospital visit that left him completely bedridden. After two two-hour visits, we quickly realized that there was far too much work for us to handle alone. On Sunday, the last day before their deadline, we spoke with Brother Saffer, our ward mission leader, and implored him to reach out to the brethren of the Elders Quorum to join us in serving this family. Within twenty minutes, he himself and five other stalwart, willing Elders had volunteered to help.

As we went to serve alongside these men of God, the results were nothing short of miraculous. Within the short time we were there we completely cleared out three full bedrooms, two bathrooms, the kitchen, dining room, living room, and backyard. As we labored these lyrics penetrated my mind: "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God" (Hymn 246). 

To imagine the situation from this family's perspective was insightful. In an hour of desperate need, suddenly two young men in white shirts knock on your door and tell you they are sent from God to lift the downtrodden. As you tell them your situation, they promise to help you move and then promptly return with a multitude of mighty men, who proceed to whisk away your woes before your very eyes. 

It makes sense then that this family came to refer to us as "their angels." They exclaimed, "We can do all things with God! We can do all things with our Elders!" As a parting gift, Omo, the woman who owned the home, offered me a nick nack she had pulled from the piles of curiosities being moved. It was a small plaque that stated, "God will provide." Awfully fitting I thought. I testify that just as God sent us as ministering angels for this family, He will send each of us heavenly helpers in our times of need and send us on His behalf to those who are struggling.

In antithesis to this miracle, the balance of the week was full of rejection. We spoke with so many, yet found so few who would hear. We invited multiple individuals to access God's cleansing and strengthening power through baptism, but all declined. It seemed as though, "the billowing surge conspired against [us]" (D&C 122:7). 

One lead that we reluctantly followed, was a member of the church who exhorted us, nay pleaded with us to attend a Bonsai Tree convention in an effort to find those prepared to hear Christ's message. She claimed it was inspired. Whether in faith or to preserve her feelings, we left our second hour meetings on Sunday to attend the last moments of this convention. Astonishingly, we did not find anyone to teach. However, we did receive a thorough lecture on proper care and training for Bonsai trees by a very flamboyant man named David and enjoyed the serene beauty of these meticulously shaped trees.

Here's what I learned. In order to be shaped into the beautiful work of art that it is intended to become, a bonsai tree will be required to endure endless pruning, the exposure of its roots, and forced contortion by suffocating wires. But through it all, it becomes a resplendent creation that fills all who behold it with awe.

We, like bonsai trees, at certain times in our lives may feel the sting of constant pruning. We may feel exposed to an endless barrage of this world's disparaging elements. And perhaps worst of all, we may on occasion feel trapped in the deformational wires of circumstances totally out of our control. In times like these we may lament as did Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "There is no gardener for men." 

When these feelings come, I exhort, nay plead, that we listen carefully for the voice of God who will say patiently and tenderly, "I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be." He will tell us that through all this pain and inopportunity He is making us into resplendent beings full of love, joy, purity, holiness, light, grace, and truth. He will say, 
"the trying of your faith worketh patience…let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 4:3-4). May we then have meekness strong enough to reply, "Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me" (Hugh B. Brown, 1973). 

Remember my week full of rejection? Because I knew I was a Son of God and a servant of Christ, I had faith that they had not abandoned me! Instead of resisting the Gardener's vision, I choose to grow into the challenging position He put me in. I continued to work hard instead becoming discouraged. Because I did so, I learned patience, humility, and optimism that I could not have learned any other way. I now understand for myself what Peter meant when He described, "the trial of your faith, being much more precious than…gold"
(1 Peter 1:7).

I testify and promise with all my heart that what God has in store for us is so much better than what we have in store for ourselves. I pray that you will trust His plan for you, even when it is uncomfortable and that you will never forget that He loves you with a perfect love, even when He allows you to go through hard things. 

With all my love,

Elder Winegar


Brian Wilson Is My Dad—Breakup Shoes
Moving Forward—Vista Kicks

Bonsai Bonanza 🌳, Elder Winegar

Wednesday, May 3, 2023