Elder Winegar, D&C 58:4

Friday, May 12, 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

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