To use Elder Pugsley, Bishop Bickmore, and President Whitworths' word, this week has been simply marvelous. What a fantastic work to be a part of. I have found great meaning in both trial and triumph this week.

I never cease marveling at the growth that I continue to undergo even in the final moments of missionary service. As a friend of mine recently put it, "I know that my [growth] has been a result of the Lord’s mercy on me and His granting me the experiences I’ve had." I feel like Ammon who said, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12). I could not have made myself into a fraction of the man I am today, but in His mercy, The Savior has truly made me into a new man. A man more like He is. I am still far from perfect, but I have found unmatched joy as I have begun fulfilling my purpose as a son of God by becoming more like my Redeemer, Jesus Christ and loving others in His way. Oh how I love Him. 

There are two mortal instances in which the veil between this world and our heavenly home is particularly thin. These universal experiences are birth and death. I was blessed to have beautiful experiences with both this past week. 

I virtually attended a funeral service for one of the most noble, compassionate, and Christlike men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. In one letter I received from him, he signed his name as, "The Mike Whipple," an apt description for my well-known Uncle. His passing has left a painful hole in the lives of all who knew him, but his legacy and impact will follow him through the eternities. We miss you Mike. We love you.

It was very painful to suffer the loss of such a good man. But equally painful, was to be apart from those I love in such a trying time. To see their sorrow and be kept by circumstance from providing love and consolation. And yet in spite of the many tears I've shed, I have faith that the Savior indeed mourns with we who are mourning and will comfort those of us who stand in need of comfort. 

Precisely in this hour of grief, my companion and I were called upon to administer the Priesthood. Over the phone, a single mother informed us that her brand new baby boy was in need of a blessing. Following the service we hurried to the hospital and found a healthy, but tiny, 4 pound baby awaiting us. 
After spending some time with the mother, we laid hands—or rather fingers—upon the head of this beautiful newborn child. 

In two short hours, I had commemorated the life of a man who had now returned to the presence of The Creator and given a priesthood blessing to one who had just descended from His presence to experience life for the first time. 

When my companion and I exited the hospital following these two experiences, the veil was so thin we felt as though the Savior was walking with us. We felt the spirits of the righteous round about us, crowding the halls as we departed. Their presence is a feeling I will not soon forget.

I testify that, like birth, death is just another step in our journey home and in our quest to become eternal beings. What an amazing plan God has given us to come and enjoy the vibrancy of mortality. To learn and grow. And then take the joy we've discovered and live with it forever.

The final experience I will share is about my new friend Zack. He recently met a member of our ward on the street (a miracle in and of itself) who invited him to worship with us on Sunday. Zack, who had been looking for a church, gladly accepted the invitation to attend a sacrament meeting, where we met him for the first time. As we got to know him, his burning desire to have a relationship with God and become a better man were striking. We began to explain that we were called as missionaries to help him find the very things he was searching for. Before we could even finish he told us he would love to hear what we had to say. We asked him when he would like to meet up and he asked if we could meet at the conclusion of the service. Delighted, we agreed.

By the end of our first meeting with Zack, we had discovered that his commitment was so sincere, he would be willing to do anything to change his life. And so, we invited him to prepare to make covenants with God at baptism and he wholeheartedly accepted. Since then, we have continued to meet with him, and while he still has questions, his commitment is unwavering. My admiration and love for him is immense already and continues to grow with each interaction I have with him. 

I have learned through the love I've developed for Zack, and the love I've developed for hundreds of others as a missionary, that to love another person creates the truest and deepest joy that we can experience in this life. 

King Benjamin admonished, "that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For…if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness" (Mosiah 2:41). Consider these promises in the context of the Saviors' two great commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:37-40).

Furthermore we're taught, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). Thus we see that by loving our neighbor, we fulfill both great commandments and qualify ourselves to inherit that blessed and happy state described by the prophets. Because all commandments can be circumscribed into these two greatest, it becomes necessary that all joy is somehow generated by love. What a powerful truth! By loving others, we create and fill our cosmos with more joy!

As we understand this great truth, we also come to understand our highest purpose in life, which is this: to become like God by learning to love others in His way, the perfect way. What does this entail? John said, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). God our Eternal Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us what pure love, celestial love, really looks like.

So how did Christ love? We learn from the scriptures that, "Charity is the pure love of Christ," and that, "charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (Moroni 7:45-47). As we strive in our own imperfect way to emulate the attributes of Jesus Christ, we will be begin to find ourselves possed of Charity. Then, and only then, will we be capable of loving in God's way. 

It is my fervent prayer that each of us will earnestly seek Charity. I pray that we would follow Christ's example by choosing to forgive. By choosing to withhold judgement. By choosing to be kind. By choosing to be merciful. And by always choosing love. It is my promise that as we do so, the joy we feel from day to day will grow deeper than it ever has before.

Sending my love to you,

Elder Winegar


Good Riddance—Greenday
Big Life—Bleachers
I Miss Those Days—Bleachers

Where Love Is, There God Is Also- Elder Winegar

Sunday, July 9, 2023

 Hello my friends! 

Much has transpired since I last wrote…not all of it good news. My friend Julissa's Father-in-Law passed away in a tragic motorcycle crash. My friend Oscar was apprehended by the police after he was engaged in a domestic dispute with an officer. And my friend Young was not being entirely truthful about her identity. It turns out she was concealing that she had been asked to withdraw her records from the Church in Korea, meaning that she would not be permitted to be baptized again without special preparation. 

It is in times like these that I feel the apostle Peter was speaking just to me when he said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1 Peter 4:13). Peter was teaching us, just as Lehi was, that experiencing hardship is a fact of life because, "it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11). 

Fortunately, another fact of life is that because of Jesus Christ, "there is hope smiling brightly before us" (Hymn 19). Lehi taught us that, "The Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men…and because that they are redeemed…they have become free forever…to act for themselves and not to be acted upon'' (2 Nephi 2:26). Because of Jesus Christ, our suffering does not have to define us, but instead it can refine us! Through the power of Jesus Christ's Atonement, we can be redeemed, or lifted above our sorrow. Instead of being acted upon and held down by the world, we can take action, press forward, and move on from our challenges with the Savior's help. 

And so it was with me. Instead of wallowing in the impediments my friends and I were facing, I instead chose to be proactive by ministering to the needs of my friends and continually seeking those that I knew were searching for the peace that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring. As I did so I saw miracles as power from heaven was manifested in response to my companion and I's faith. 

One miracle we saw was meeting our new friend Moritz. He is a Stanford student from Germany and is here in America doing some pretty amazing medical research. His roommate, Quinn, who is also an intern at Stanford medical school, just so happens to be a returned missionary. As one might expect, Quinn was eager to have us over to meet his new roommate. After enjoying dinner with the two of them, my companion and I had the opportunity of giving Moritz a copy of the Book of Mormon and answering some questions about the church. It was a riveting conversation that really piqued Moritz' curiosity and they invited us back to talk more soon!

We were also able to spend some quality time serving Joseph and Julissa, following Joseph's Father's accident. One day after not hearing from the family for some time, Joseph called us out of the blue and asked if we would be willing to help him pick up his dad's bike from the tow yard. We told him we would love nothing more than to come with and help where we could. My time in the tow yard with Joseph was surprisingly spiritual and very eventful. 

From an onlooker's perspective, lifting a 1,200 pound Harley Davidson into the back of a pickup truck would've looked like the biggest miracle, and undoubtedly it certainly was. But from my closeup and personal perspective, I was able to see how the hand of the Lord is truly in the details. As Joseph was paying the tow fee, the woman working the register unexpectedly gave a powerful and reassuring testimony. She told him that because of his faith in Christ, he would see his father again. She urged him to pray and told him God would be there to support him. 

As we retrieved the bike from the tow yard, a man named Paul, who worked as a tow truck driver, likewise offered wise counsel. He asked Joseph if he would keep riding motorcycles even though the potential consequences had become especially real. Joseph explained that he planned to keep riding. Paul then offered this wise advice, "If you are willing to give your life for your love of motorcycles, you should be willing to live your life for Jesus Christ." 

Neither of these individuals were members of the restored church of Jesus Christ. And neither of them knew Joseph Alexander prior to that moment. But as good Christian's, they were willing to submit to God's will and be instruments in his hands. To us, they seemed as angels sent to minister to a mourning soul.

I testify that in the same way that God sent angels to minister to this man in his hour of need, God will send angels to minister to us. Sometimes these heavenly helpers may come in the form of glorious messengers from celestial worlds on high (3 Nephi 17:24). Other times those that we know and love, who have passed on from this mortal sphere, will be called to minister to us through the veil (D&C 129). But perhaps most often our angels are simply those around us who live righteously enough to be prompted by the Holy Ghost to answer our prayers. (JST, Genesis 19:15).

I testify that the Lord's promises are sure. And he has promised each one of us, "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88). With our own ministering angels assisting us, I testify that we will be able to bear burdens far heavier than a Harley Davidson. Through their consolation we can bear heartbreak. Through their encouragement we can bear oppression. And through the wisdom they impart we can navigate sensitive situations. As we humbly accept their help, we are following the example of the Savior, who in the darkest hour was strengthened by his own angel (Luke 22:43).

I bear you my solemn witness that above all each messenger sent from God to help us on our way is an expression of His divine love for us. Please do not reject it! Let him help you. I testify that through His love, we truly can bear all things (Moroni 7:45-47).

I love you my friends.

Elder Winegar



Hark! Elder Winegar

Sunday, July 2, 2023