Monday, May 30, 2011

May 28th, 2011

May 28th, 2011

Thanks family for all the emails, it took up most of my computer time reading them and trying to download the picture of Sophie (the internet here is pretty slow).
This week has been a blur, it feels like EFY on spiritual steroids (without the girls and dances of course :D) Thursday and Friday we had our first teaching experiences with "real" investigators. About 20 people from the local ward came and acted as investigators. We have been studying listening to the investigator and the spirit this week so that is what we concentrated on. It was great having someone other than a teacher or other elder to teach, it seemed more real.

On Tuesday we were able to go to the Joburg temple. We had 7 elders and sisters taking out their endowments for the first time. It was really cool since that was the first time I had ever been to a video session. I realized how much I love nature especially the ocean. I can't wait to get back and do Scuba diving and hiking!!!!!

To keep things short, I'm doing great!!! A little tired, but alive :D I hope everything is going great back home. Sorry if I couldn't reply to all the emails personally but we have such limited time on the computer it is annoying.

Included are some pictures of the temple as well as a picture of a sign that is ALL OVER THE PLACE. Africans seem to use it for universal purposes, shows where the bathroom is, exits, elevators, etc....kind of funny :)

Love you all,
keep the letters coming (don't have any yet :/)

Elder Winters (Brandon)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011

Hey everyone!!!
It feels like I have been here for 2 weeks already. All of us guys (about 28 total) are really close and it seems like we have known each other for ages.
The first day I got here President Christenson (MTC President) called me into his office and asked me to be the District Leader over the Ammon District (10 Elders). It is pretty cool, I get to talk with all the elders and make sure that they are happy and having a good experience. I and another elder are also in charge of sacrament meeting tomorrow so we have assigned talks and prayers etc...etc...etc...(gotta stick with the King and I theme going on there in the states:D)

So I've attached a picture of my first companion, he is sooooo tall. I feel like a midget next to him. haha I must warn you that the picture may not be to scale, he's only about 6-5 but it looks like he's 8 feet tall, must be the lighting or something. lol

We have about 6 native African elders some from Kenya, two from South Africa and one from Zimbabwe. The elder from Zimbabwe is in my district, his name is Elder Macovire (pronounced MOK-OOO-VEE-REE) Having him in my district and in the bunk right above me has helped me even more to realize how blessed we are in the United States. We got to talking about life back home and it was humbling to hear what his living conditions were like. Yesterday was the first day he had ever seen a washing machine, we taught him how to use it and the proper amount of soap etc...He has washed his clothes in a bucket scrubbing the dirt out with his hands since he was born. Also, a lot of the elders here brought candy and snacks from home. It was really fun to see Elder Macovire's reaction to a Reese's and Strawberry fruit snacks. I hope all of you know how blessed you are to live in the United States with all the comforts of a modern world. All over Africa there are people like Elder Macovire who are living life with the barest essentials and happy about it. It is very rare to see a native African not happy, they are thankful for what they have and thank God for it.

I have been soooo busy, the day starts at 6:30 in the morning with getting showered, shaved, and dressed. Oh, by the way, they don't have any power converters here in the MTC so I haven't been able to charge my electric razor, I'll probably have to start using the blades by the end of next week. I'm going to get a converter once I get to Uganda but until then I'll be out of luck. We do have hot showers here at the MTC so I'm prolonging the time to showerless "bliss." :D

My favorite part of the MTC has been the companionship discusstions where we have talked about various principles of the gospel and practiced backing them up with scripture. We had an exercise yesterday where a lady from the local ward came and pretended to be an investigator, our main goal was to get to know her by asking her questions that would help her to open up to us. One of the main problems missionaries have is that they try to teach people the gospel before those people trust them. Our new rule here for every teaching exercise is to get to know the person and gain trust before brining up the gospel.

Until next week. Love from Johannesburg!!!
p.s. I still haven't recieved any letters!!! QUIT SLACKING!!!! haha

Elder Winters

Friday, May 20, 2011

On His Way

May 19, 2011

Greetings from the South Africa MTC in Johannesburg!!! It has been a long 2-3 days and I'm relieved that we are finally here.
Well...for starters, I guess I might as well reveal who the "VIP" that we met at the Salt Lake Airport was. As we were lining up to board our first flight who should walk up but Elder Jeffrey R. Holland!!! At first I was like wait a minute, what's he doing here? A couple of us missionaries (haha it's pretty cool I can say that now) went over to talk to him and it turns out he was on his way to India. I'm really glad he was there cuz I thought that since I'm going to Africa I wouldn't get to see GAs for the next two years. Well I was wrong and I'm glad I was!!! The coolest thing was that he was on our flight to Chicago. So we not only had about 35 missionaries but we had Elder Holland and a member of the Seventy as well. I included a picture of us with Elder Holland. At first he told us to just use one camera then share the picture but all of us had already handed our cameras to a lady that offered to help us out so he had no choice...:D

So the flight to Chicago was uneventful. I don't know what I thought of the pilot's landing (probably give him a 4/10) but hey, everyone makes mistakes :D It was the best thing ever!!! The first thing I saw when we landed at Chicago O'Hare was a LINE of 8 B-747s!!!! I've never seen one up close before and here I was at an airport where that is like the only thing that flies in and out. The terminal that we sat in to wait had big glass windows right next to the British Airways ramp also with a great view of the active runway.

We had a 5 hour layover in Chicago before we could board the plane for London Heathrow. During that time we talked to a few people about the church but mostly just got to know each other (the other missionaries). We flew on a B-777 to London. It was a MASSIVE plane. The seating had 3 seats on the edges then 5 seats on a center aisle. I got a window seat right behind the wing which was the best thing ever!!!

So I had an interesting experience in London. I had my first pat down!!!! jk It was kinda awkward, I walked through the metal detector machine, it went off and a guy waved me over and started giving me "the works." He finally found a penny in my back pocket, I'm glad that the good people of London will be safe from the many penny bombers running around Heathrow. It is comforting to know that they have such dedicated security staff. Well...anyways. So I am really glad that I'm going to Africa!!! I can't tell you how many girls we saw in the airports and planes, I thought it would be easy to deal with because I was a set apart missionary but...WRONGO!!! I feel for the missionaries that are going to California or TOOELE UTAH!!! (We have some great girls there :D) I'm glad that I will be able to concentrate fully on the Lord's work and not have to worry about so many distractions.

 About 20 miles from London we were sent into a holding pattern just southwest of the airport for a medical emergency. Everything was normal till out of the clouds above us popped a B-747. It was I swear 1,000 feet above our heads flying the same pattern as us at the same speed. It must have been fine with Air Traffic Control because they were right there above our left wing for 3 circuts of holds. I really wish I could have gotten a picture but my camera was in the overhead bin and it was "turbulent" so the crew said we had to have our seatbelts on.

So the 12 hour layover in London was probably the best and worst day of my entire life. It was the worst because it was 12 hours...but it was the best because our group split up into companionships and started passing out those pass along cards. There was this one guy that was reading alone on a bench and I went to talk to him. He seemed pretty disinterested but after I left him I glanced back and he seemed like he was in a trance. I hope the spirit was talking to him and maybe he would check out and look around a little bit.

Well...long story short I am sitting in the secretary's office in the South Africa MTC getting ready to go to lunch. 2 1/2 days of travel later I am ready to start learning how to best serve the people of Uganda.

Have a great week everyone!!! Please write me!!! I know I'm not really homesick now but I will be in a few weeks.

Elder Winters

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To The Airport

May 17th 2011
The Airport

 Last Family Photo

Saying Good-Bye to Sisters
Sweet little sister, Sophia Ann is only five weeks old.  She will change so much while Brandon is gone.

The bags were checked, the goodbyes were said and pictures taken. We met a few other missionaries and their families that were checking in.  A number of them were going to Uganda as well.  One was heading to South Africa.  Brandon got into the line for security and we all stood there and watched him wind through the maze.  Suddenly, Mom noticed something absolutely amazing.  The man standing in front of Brandon was....her cousin.  She got his attention and pointed behind him at Brandon.  The two of them talked as they made their way up to the scanners.  What a tender mercy of the Lord.  Somehow it made it easier to watch him make his way through that line, knowing that someone familiar was there with him.  Of course we still cried, especially Olivia and Mom.  But we know that he is completely in the hands of his Heavenly Parents and they will take good care of him.  We cry because we will miss him, but we are joyous that Brandon is a worthy young man, and missionary.  Good luck son and brother!!!!  We can't wait to hear from you!!!


May 16th 2011
Packing Day

 Monday afternoon, packing time!

 Finally FINISHED!!!

Nice Badge

Provo MTC

May 16th 2011
The day before Brandon left for the airport, his Grandparents checked in to the Provo MTC. Brandon got the chance to drop them off before he left. Already having been set apart as a missionary the day before, the MTC staff allowed him into the lobby with them.  He was also able to get a picture with them in front of the world map inside the Provo MTC.