My friends, 

I would like to quickly share just a few of the experiences that I have had of late and what they have taught me about the nature of God.

Two of the people in Palo Alto dearest to my heart are Joseph and Julisa Alexander. They are a young couple in our ward with a most darling little girl. Joseph was baptized as an 8 year-old and received the Aaronic Priesthood, but by the time he was 14 his activity in the church was dwindling. He lived almost entirely without Jesus Christ until he had a child with his wife and realized that there was a hole in his life. After searching his soul, he realized that what they were missing was a relationship with God! He and his wife have since been attending church and we have been teaching his wife the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As it turns out, Julisa has been blessed with the gift of spirituality. She has a deep desire to learn and is willing to take the necessary steps to come unto Christ. She has been reading the Book of Mormon each day, but we felt impressed to ask what she was hoping to learn from her studies. Suddenly, she became emotional and said that she really just wanted to learn those truths that would help her have a strong family. She was never planning to be a mother until she met Joseph and never experienced the blessings of a stable family during her upbringing. She felt overwhelmed, inexperienced, and under qualified to perform what she thought was a mother's role in a family. 

We opened the scriptures and read John 14:26 with her which says, "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name…shall…bring all things to your remembrance." We testified that before this life she was in the presence of not only a perfect Heavenly Father, but an equally perfect Heavenly Mother who taught her all that she would need to know in order to be an excellent mother here on earth. We promised her that the Holy Ghost could bring these things to her remembrance. We testified too that through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, she could be spiritually transformed (Mosiah 5:2) into a stronger woman capable of loving her family in the ways that they needed. We promised that both of these blessings, the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and a mighty change of heart, were received through the ordinances and covenants of baptism. With tears in our eyes and hers, she accepted an invitation to be baptized and receive the blessings she needs.

Oscar met the Sister missionaries about 3 months ago and was so enraptured by the first principles of the gospel that he accepted a date for baptism in the street. Unfortun- -ately, the brilliance of his first interaction with the gospel was swallowed up in the

dreariness of the world and he essentially vanished without a trace. Yet, the Lord has promised that he, "will judge all men according to the desire of their hearts" (D&C 137:9). Because of Oscar's righteous desires, the Savior would not let him be lost so easily. This last week Oscar was found once again by a set of missionaries assigned to labor in the Spanish language.

As they began to explain that they were the local missionaries and that they shared a special message about finding peace in Christ, he stopped them in their tracks by saying, "Guys, I know who you are. I wasn't baptized in the church and it was the worst decision I've ever made in my entire life." Needless to say the missionaries were astonished. We went with them to see him the next day and as he again expressed a desire to become a clean vessel of the Lord, we helped him recommit himself to being baptized (3 Nephi 20:41; 3 Nephi 27:19-20).

가영길, or Young, is a strong-willed young adult from Korea, who's journey to Christ has been nothing short of miraculous. She initially moved to Ohio, where she met an American young man named Timothy, who just so happened to speak Korean. As she got to know him, she learned that he was a returned missionary who had recently spent two years teaching others about Jesus Christ in her homeland. Intrigued and wanting to know more, Timothy introduced her to two Sister missionaries who taught her who God is, shared with her the importance of the Book of Mormon, and took her to the Holy Temple. 

While falling in love with the restored gospel, she simultaneously moved to Stanford for a summer internship. Awaiting her arrival was another set of Sisters—one of whom was also from South Korea. Are not experiences such as these divinely orchestrated? After meeting with the Sisters a few times, we met her for the first time this week and taught her of the universal need for a Savior. After our discussion she casually mentioned, "I've been thinking a lot about this baptism thing, but I'm probably not ready right?" 

"Well," we asked, "Do you believe that God is your Heavenly Father?" She responded with an enthusiastic explanation in the affirmative. "And do you believe in Jesus Christ?" Another strong yes. We proceeded to ask her whether or not she believed in the restoration of the Church and the Book of Mormon, and whether or not she was willing to keep the commandments. Yes, yes, and yes. "Well then Young," we said,  "you're ready to be baptized!" Her eyes widened, she asked what days people usually get baptized, and if we had a calendar with us. We gave her a calendar and explained that Saturday's were usually good. She then asked us if she could be baptized on the 8th of July. Grinning, we assured her that we would be more than happy to accommodate her request. 

All three of these experiences have caused me to reflect on the nature of God and our relationship to Him. He will be as involved in our lives as He was in Young's. His gospel will satisfy our needs, just as it did Julisa's. And He will always find us, just as He found Oscar. 

God has, "a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s" and is "the Father of [our] Spirits" (D&C 130:22; Heb. 12:9). Or in other words, God is a person just like you and me. And just as any two people could, we can cultivate a human relationship with Him that is personal and individual. In order to help us understand His character and feel His love He shares His exalted station with two other beings: His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. 

During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ taught His disciples, "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him" (John14:7). By studying who Christ is, we come to understand who God our Father is and how He feels about us. We will begin to see that He knows us intimately and has a deep desire to be a part of our lives (John 1:47-49; John 4:5-29; Luke 19:1-10; Heleman 10:1-6). We will realize that He understands our struggles and wants to help us because of His great compassion towards us (Alma 7:11-12; 3 Nephi 17:7-9, 17-21). We will know that He loves us, so much so that He was willing to send His Firstborn Son to die for us, so that we could return to His presence again and enjoy the life that He enjoys (John 3:16-17).

Christ also taught, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16). God our Father also uses the Holy Ghost as a messenger of His love and a testator of His reality. It is through a witness of the Holy Ghost that we come to know that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that God is the very Eternal Father. 

I have not experienced any joy so sweet or any peace so deep as the joy and peace that I experience when I feel God's love for me. 

I testify that as we make and, "keep our covenants, we can feel the love of the Father and the Son for each other and for us. We can feel Their closeness in our mortal lives, just as we will when we are blessed to be with Them forever" (Eyring, April 2023). 

Though many, "may struggle to believe these eternal truths apply specifically in their lives and to their circumstances…I promise that by the power of the Holy Ghost, you can know and feel the gospel truths I have attempted to describe are for you—for you individually and personally" (Bednar, April 2023). 

God lives. He knows You and He lovesYou

Choose to believe it.

Elder Winegar


Sinkin' In—Farwell Milwaukee

O My Father, Elder Winegar

Sunday, June 18, 2023

 How're you, my friends?

I often feel as if I am a broken record. There is not much I can say that would be new or exciting or that I haven't said before. I've been here for such a long time that things that used to seem thrilling or unusual have almost become expected and natural. New companions and new areas seem to blend together into one sprawling tapestry of experience. And I can feel the yarn growing sparse as the story nears completion. As my two years are almost up, grief fills my heart and I wish I could serve two more! But, I am calm knowing I will look upon the beauty of these two years with joy and gratitude for all eternity. 

So, yes, I do have a new companion. He is, to use Nephi's words, "a man large in stature" (1 Nephi 4:31). But such great size comes with a price; our diet consists of an endless stream of protein amounting to a caloric nightmare. All in the name of gains I suppose…

As usual I am meeting droves of incredible people. Two of my friends, both recovering addicts who want to wash away their pasts' and start afresh, are preparing themselves to be baptized. They have both tread long and thorny paths, but it has allowed their hearts to be humbled or softened sufficiently to heed the counsel of their creator. It is one of the greatest joys of my life to meet individuals such as these, who are so thoroughly dedicated to changing their lives and modeling them after their Exemplar, Jesus Christ.

I have spent much of my time as of late attempting to look unto Jesus Christ in every thought, to always remember Him (D&C 6:36; 20:77-79). This has caused me to reflect more often and more deeply, "upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world" (D&C 138:2). 

I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was the single most important event in the history of mankind, for without it the progression of mankind would be eternally thwarted and our state ever miserable. Conversely, because of it our growth becomes possible and our potential infinite.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ comprised His suffering in Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and concluded with His triumphal Resurrection from the tomb. Nothing else has greater consequence for and effect upon every single human life.

Beginning in the garden, a stone's cast from His disciples, the Redeemer began His atoning work. Through the supreme power of His Eternal Father, Jesus Christ was permitted to suffer, "the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam," including, "temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people" (2 Ne. 9:21; Msh. 3:7). 

Thus, we see that the Savior not only endured all of the individual physical, emotional, and mental pains that each of us would suffer, but He also endured the crushing burden of guilt that we feel when we make mistakes. Christ took the agony of those mistakes upon Himself so that we wouldn't have to endure it ourselves. He has said, "For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent" (D&C 19:16). As we repent, we allow Christ to satisfy the demands of justice on our behalf and suffer the spiritual consequences of our mistakes for us. (Alma 34:15-16). In doing so, He turns our guilt to peace and our sorrow to joy!

In perfect contrast to the paramount darkness of Gethsemane is the ultimate glory of His Resurrection, or His victory over the grave! Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead with a glorified and perfected body, we too have the blessed assurance that even though, "our flesh must waste away and die…in our bodies we shall see God" (2 Ne. 9:4). We see that through His suffering Christ, "descended below all things" and through His Resurrection He once again, "ascended up on high…that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth" (D&C 88:6). Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ endured all things and thus became in and through all things. So when He invites us to, "know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," He's really inviting us to know Him so He can set us free.

When you consider that Jesus Christ literally freed us from the bands of death, His ability and power to help us overcome the multitude of mortal challenges becomes very realistic. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ has subdued every enemy that we as God's children could ever face in our lives. Whether we face the enemies of temptation and addiction, or depression, despair, and discouragement, or anxiety, or fear, or oppression, or sickness, or suffering of any kind, it would do us well to remember that those enemies have already been defeated once and with Christ's help they can be defeated again (1 Cor. 15:20-28).

I bear you my heartfelt testimony that Jesus Christ drank the bitter cup, or completed His Atonement, because He loves us. He wants us to be "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37). He wants us to grow and to have peace and joy, even in our heartaches. He wants us to overcome all things so that one day, "when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure'' (Moroni 7:48).

His love is real. His Atonement is real. His power is real. And He wants you to use it. So please, don't delay. Come unto Christ.

All my love,

Elder Winegar


Payphone—Maroon 5

Broken Halos—Chris Stapleton

Elder Winegar, The Bitter Cup

Thursday, June 1, 2023