Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday June 5th 2011
Hello Family and Friends!!!
This week has been a blur!!! It seems like just yesterday I was in church and it was actually 6 days ago :D I guess I'd like to start with the happenings of the week then I'll finish off with a spiritual thought.

The highlight of the week was haircut day. A lady from one of the local wards came in and cut all the missionaries hair. The BEST part is that it was actually recommended that we cut our hair fairly short, so I have my 1/4inch haircut back!!! The only thing that was a pain in the neck (literally, haha) was that when she was trimming up the back of my neck the lady totally cut it up. It looks like I was attacked by a mad tiger. :D So a really funny thing happened this week. One day as we were showering one of the African elders walked by and he was totally wearing a Hooters shirt from Salt Lake City. He told us that he bought it because it had the words Salt Lake City on it and I believe him. President Christenson (MTC President) told him he couldn't wear the shirt in public so I decided to trade him one of my T-shirts for the Hooters one. So I now am the proud owner of a Salt Lake City Hooters T-shirt (see pic). lol From that experience I have really been learning selflessness. Most of the African elders have come on their missions with 1 suit, 1 pair of shoes and 3-4 shirts. I am so grateful for the blessings I have received because I was born in the United States, it has been humbling for me to see the gratitude of the Africans even when they have so little.

So we had our first concussion of the MTC on Thursday :) We were playing basketball during sports time and my companion Elder Tuckett took an elbow to the head. He went to the deck and was there for a couple seconds then he got up and we kept playing. Later that evening he was complaining of a splitting headache and we decided that he got a concussion from that hit. We gave him a priesthood blessing and waited to see how he felt the next morning to decide whether or not to give him any medical attention. His headache had gone away by the time he woke up. I know that the power of the priesthood and faith of the recipient is real. God loves us and knows our needs, he has more blessings in store for us than we will ever know and he is just waiting for us to ask him. "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you."
So on Saturday (P-day in the MTC) we went to the Joburg mall. It was MASSIVE!!! It had to be at least 2-3 times as large as Valley Fair mall. The number of people there was incredible too, if you tried to stop walking to look at something you would get swept along with the crowd. The thing that made my day is that I was able to find some SourCream and Onion Pringles!!!! I have really missed snack food, we have three meals a day here at the MTC and no snack foods. We have only been out to a small grocery store once and that was the first week we got here. I don't know what things are going to be like in Uganda but I hope I will be able to find pretzels or chips somewhere or else this is going to be a long 2 years:D

So this is the last email you will receive from me at the MTC, I will include pictures of our group in the next email. Sorry if I forgot to tell you when I'll be leaving the MTC, I can't remember a lot of the things I say in emails...So consider this the official announcement. I'll be flying out of South Africa for the Uganda Kampala mission on Tuesday June 7th, 2011. My stay at the MTC has been great but I am ready to leave.
On Thursday we had a great fireside with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (well not really, just DVD but...) One of the coolest things he said was that "Missionaries and Apostles are the only individuals who are elligible to receive revelation for both members and non-members of the church." I had never thought of that before, it is pretty cool that Heavenly Father trusts me, a teenage young man to help the rest of his children come back to live with him someday.

One of the exercises we did this week was on addressing concerns. The teachers gave us scenarios such as "Your church doesn't allow women to hold the priesthood, I don't want to support a church who is sexist..." We were then told to search the scriptures to come up with an answer to their concern. My companion and I had some great scriptures and insight to support our churches stand. When our names were called we started to walk up and I felt a prompting to leave my scriptures on my desk. I did that and then grabbed my comp's and put them down too. I told him to just trust me and we walked up to the front of the room and took our seats. We bore simple testimony that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and knows what is best for us, we testified of the First Vision and the Restoration of the gospel. After we had finished this we simply got up and sat back down in our seats. The room was quiet for a few minutes, then the teachers said, "I think you guys get the point." I'm glad that I was in tune enough with the spirit to receive the inspiration of what to do.

I'd like to finish by speaking to all the young men from age 0-30. We had a lesson on the priesthood and how we were all foreordained to become priesthood holders (see Alma 13) We talked about how for 2-3 billion years (purely speculation, don't take that for doctrine...:D) we have been preparing to serve missions for Heavenly Father. This really changed my perspective on my mission, it's not just two years of my life, it's two years of my existence. I have been preparing since the minute I was created from matter unorganized. I want every young man to prepare today and continue to prepare to serve a mission. If you don't I will fulfill the prophesy found in Malachi 2:3. There is your scripture chase for the week haha.

Well, I'm glad I had my full time this week. It was nice to get everything out. The next time you hear from my I will be in Uganda (or Ethiopia, Rwanda, Djibuti, or Sudan...:D)
I've had some people ask about the best way to contact me. I think emails, for family are the best way to contact me quickly. Letters sent via the Pouch or are another good way to reach me, I can read them at my leasure and send a reply. So the short answer is...please email me as much as possible if you have my address, and please send me written letters as often as possible.

I love you all!

Elder Brandon Winters

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