Hark! Elder Winegar

Sunday, July 2, 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



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