Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 25th 2011

July 25th 2011
HAPPY PIONEER DAY EVERYONE!!!! (and for those people who have NO CLUE what I'm talking about, I hope you had a nice Sabbath day yesterday :D)

So I have to apologise for the lack of pictures this week. Only one picture, me and my new companion Elder Goodner. Ooops, I lied last week...I think I told everyone that Elder Goodner is from St.George, that's not to accurate :/ He is actually from South Jordan, UT (I knew there was an "S" in there somewhere :D) He has been on his mission for 5 months so we are both pretty new. I think I mentioned last week that we are part of a whitewashing of the Ntinda area. This means that all the missionaries who were here last transfer have been moved and we have all new missionaries here now. On Wednesday during our District Meeting we sat down at the table and split up the area by looking at GoogleMaps of the area. I will admit that the first 2 days of the transfer were the most frustrating days I have experienced so far. I didn't know the area, I didn't know any members, I didn't know my companion, I didn't have any investigators, and I didn't have any food in the house!!!!!!! This was a lot of load on my shoulders and I wished sooooo bad that I could be at home with my family and friends where everything is familiar and I don't have such a heavy burden to find God's children here in Ntinda who need to hear the gospel.

I feel much better now being about 6 days into the transfer. We have walked around our area (which includes Bukato, and Nguru Hill) about a million times and I am pretty confident with knowing my way around now. Ntinda is a lot hillier (if that is a word ;D) than Walukuba was. I think that if I eat right I will be able to lose a little of the weight I put on my last transfer. I know that a lot of missionaries lose weight on their missions, but I was already so skinny I had nothing to do but gain weight, which wasn't that hard because everything here is fried. One of my favorite things to eat (I think I mentioned it previously) is Rolex. This is a thick tortilla with a couple eggs fried up inside. It is pretty much a big breakfast burrito but is different somehow from anything I have seen anywhere in the states. We have about 21 new investigators we found from Wednesday to Sunday so this week and the next couple weeks will be spent progressing them towards baptism. Bukato is the slum area of Kampala, so there are a lot of poor people living in dumps really. These people are easy to teach (they are willing to listen) but getting them to understand the importance of changing their lives and coming to church is really difficult. We contacted about 140 people from Wednesday to Saturday and only 5 of them actually showed up at church. I hope this gives you an idea of how hard it is to get people to keep commitments.

So, working with Elder Goodner has been interesting. He is from Utah so we have been able to talk about our families and our favorite past times back home. We have also planned the next 3 Summers after we get home full of things we want to do, (scuba dive the Bahamas, Disneyland, Lagoon, SWIM!!!, Water ski, WENDY'S FROSTEE!!!, etc...) I don't know when I am going to have time to get a job, find a wife and raise a family :D

I want everyone to know how much God has blessed us in our lives. He truly loves us and wants what is best for us. I know that when we obey his commandments we are blessed. Stay strong, read your scriptures, love your families. You/We truly don't know how much we have until it is taken from us. I love my family and friends so much and I appreciate the efforts you are all making to write me through DearElder.com. This last week I was happy to receive letters from: Grandma Vance, Sister Fridley, Stephanie Weber, Erin Stewart, and my little sister Emily who drew a picture for me and sent it through the pouch. I know that I am doing the right thing in serving the Lord here in Uganda and whatever trials I go through here they shall only be for a moment.

Best wishes to each and every one of you,
Elder Winters

My New Companion

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 18th 2011

July 18th 2011
My Friends and Family!!!
I MISS YOU GUYS SOOOOOO MUCH!!!! Not a day goes by that I don't think of home, and all the people I left there :) It gives me great comfort to know that this "affliction" shall be for a short while. Don't get me wrong, I love being here in Uganda serving the Lord as a missionary. I have been able to touch so many people's lives in the short time I've been here and I wouldn't trade this experience for the world!!!

So the transfer news is in!!!! I think I'll maybe wait to tell you until the end of the email so you can just sit and stew...:D haha, no cheating, you have to read the whole thing from start to finish :D

Yesterday I had the privilege to baptize Brother Geoffry. I think I have mentioned him in previous emails...we met him as a street contact probably 4-5 times since the beginning of the transfer and invited him to church. On the fifth time he actually showed up to church. I don't know what changed, maybe it just took this much time for the Lord to work on his heart. Regardless, he is now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!!!! And has taken the first step toward securing his eternal salvation. Sometimes I look back on this transfer and feel discouraged because I have only had two baptisms. When I look though at the strength of those two individuals I have baptized I feel better because I know that they will be strong for many years to come. ~short side note~ President opened a new area this past transfer and yesterday they had 35 BAPTISMS!!!! 35 new members of the church!!!!!! I was so happy to hear this news, but I was kinda jealous as well :) I can't even imagine what it would be like to have 35 baptisms on one Sunday. Okay...back to me :D

So maybe I will just reflect on the past transfer and some things I have learned. Not to brag, but I believe that I came into the mission field as prepared as any young man could be. I attribute this preparedness to the wonderful parents I have. Mom, Dad. I am "eternally grateful" (as the little green men say) for all you have done for me. I am a better person because of your efforts to teach me the gospel and show me the right way to live life. I am also grateful for the friends I have had throughout my growing up years. Each and every one of you has influenced me in some way or another. Keep living your lives the way you know God wants them to be lived, He will bless you when you keep his commandments, I know this for myself because I have experienced his love and blessings through obedience.

I have learned the value of cleanliness. Some of you may laugh because you know what I'm talking about. Living in an apartment with 3 other elders who will not wash their dishes, sweep the floor, or wash the tub after they use it has been the most difficult challenge I have been faced with on my mission so far. Young men who are preparing to serve mission!!! Start now to learn personal cleanliness, you will have a great mission if you can take care of yourself and your apartment. If you don't know how to wash dishes, ask your Mom, I'm sure she would LOVE to teach you :) If you lack the desire to clean up after yourselves, I don't know what I can do to help you there...:)

I have learned to be more humble. My first companion (Elder Butawo) is an African elder from Zimbabwe. He has been a member of the church for only 4 years. It has been difficult for me to be humble and accept his counsel. Many of you know how stubborn, and self reliant I am. It is the hardest thing for me to accept service or words of advice from others. I have been getting better but still have to tell myself to calm down sometimes when he is telling me things. I know that humility is one of the Christlike attributes we are commanded to nurture while on this earth. As we become more humble, God will bless us.

I have learned how to enunciate EVVVERRREEEE WOOOORRRRDDD :D People here in Africa have a very hard time understanding the American accent. I have learned to avoid contractions (i.e. "It's, what's, etc...) they just don't know what I am talking about. I have also been getting better at saying each syllable clearly and distinctly. If I talk to you when I get home and it sounds like I'm talking to you as if you were a child please forgive me. The only way I am able to be understood here is by using short, choppy sentences using vocal inflections very different from what we are used to in the United States. I am sure that I will learn how to talk American when I get back, but for now I must speak Ugandan-English. I think the only way to describe talking and teaching people here is to compare it to teaching primary. Almost all the people here (except Muslims) believe in Jesus Christ, but they don't know anything else other than he has "saved them." It is really fun to be instrumental in the learning process of these individuals as they learn about their Savior and how they can be like him.

All in all, this has been a great transfer. I have enjoyed getting to know the people and area of Walukuba. I know that I have been an obedient servant of our Heavenly Father and that he has blessed me with wonderful people to teach. Before I talk about he next transfer I get to tell you about my first injury on my mission. I wish I could tell you I was mugged or something cool like that but...So at our church building, we have an outdoor spigot coming out of the perimeter wall. One day as we were locking up the building, some kid was banging on the spigot. I started running over to stop him but it was too late. He had already knocked off the tap part of the spigot and water was spewing everywhere. As I was trying to get the water flow stopped I slipped on all the water on the grass and hit my head against a pipe coming out of the wall. I got a pretty nice cut about 2 inches long on the top of my skull. It was pretty shallow and I was able to get the blood flow stopped very quickly. I have suffered no serious loss of mental capacity, at least not any more than I have previously had at any time in my life :D Everything is fine!!!

Okay, I guess I will let you guys know what is happening for this next transfer. Actually...before I do I'd like to share a scripture with you :D It is found in the book of 2 Nephi 12:2. This is Nephi quoting from the teachings of Isaiah. He talks about Zion being built in the top of the mountains, etc...I'm sure that thousands of people have noticed this before, but I want to share it with you. We have seen many scriptures that have been fulfilled in the past 200 years, but this scripture stands out among the rest because it literally fulfills itself. If you look in the printed copy of the Book of Mormon, you will find that as Isaiah is talking about Zion in the top of the mountains, the word "UTAH" is written vertically in the center of the verse. SOOOO COOOLLLLL!!!!!!

HAHA, I'm never going to tell you the news...well here goes!!! I have been called to serve the Lord as a missionary for the next six weeks in the Kololo Zone, Ntinda District!!!!! Ntinda (ENN-TINN-DUH) is a suburb of Kampala and is said to be the "Hollywood" of Uganda. All the houses in my area will be owned by rich business men and government leaders. I am grateful that the Lord has seen fit to help me to grow by allowing me to serve in this area. My new companion will be Elder Goodner from St. George, UT. He is a Muzungu like me!!!! I know that it will be a new experience serving with an American elder but it will be a growing experience. We will be washing the Ntinda area, which means that all the missionaries currently there will be moved and a complete new set of missionaries (me and elder Goodner) will come in. The difficulty with this is that neither of us will know the area or people. I am expecting the first week or two to be pretty rough as we learn where the different members and investigators live but it will be a good experience. Also, we will have a supermarket in our area (which we didn't have in Jinja). It will be about the size of a small Macey's or Albertsons. The food prices are supposed to be through the roof in Kampala right now so I'm glad that I will have a little left over from serving here in Walukuba to help out. I'll make sure to write next week and let you know how things are going.

Until next time...

Elder Winters

Geoffry's Baptism day

Sunrise out our back window in Walukuba

Cut on head. All is well, please don't worry. No hospital, doctor or anything ;)

Brother Moses (Recent Convert) and Mom. We were really close to these two, I will miss them a lot

With Shila one of our investigators

With Shila, Rachael, Susan after a lesson

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 7th 2011

Good morning, (good night for you guys I guess...:D) It's weird knowing that we are almost on an exact opposite schedule being 10 hours apart...When I wake up you go to bed, then it's time for me to sleep and you are just getting up. The jet lag is going to kill me when I come home :D

D&C 18:15-16 "If you bring but one soul...how great shall be your joy..." This week (yesterday) I had the privilege of baptizing Sister Vivian into the true church of Christ on the earth today!!! It was a really neat experience because not only was it "my" first baptism on my mission but I played an instrumental role in her conversion. As you know, I met Sister Vivian as a street contact the first or second week I got here. I have been here with her from contact to baptism recipient. A lot of the other elders in my MTC group have been having some baptisms throughout the weeks but it hasn't been the same because they are for people that were taught by other missionaries. There is just something about being with someone through their whole conversion process and being able to see how strong they are and where they have grown. The Lord has truly blessed me and my companion. I know that we were sent here to Walukuba to help Vivian come to a knowledge of Christ and what he would have her do in her life. Verse 16 of the scripture cited above talks about how much MORE joy we will have if we continue to labor and bring more souls to Christ. I will be 2 months into my mission on the 17th and have 22 more months to go. I hope that I will be a worthy servant and do my best to be an effective missionary.

So I guess I will tell you of the "exciting" time we had trying to get the font filled. On Saturday morning we set aside a 2-3 hours to clean the font and get it filled for the service on Sunday. We got there and I got to work scrubbing every inch of tile. After draining the font and rinsing it down it looked spectacular!!! Time to fill it right??? Well...we turned the knob and nothing happened. We called the Branch President to see if he had turned off the main water source or something, it turns out that he had. This wouldn't have been a problem except he was spending the day in Kampala and wouldn't be back till morning (Sunday). So, in order to make sure we had a baptism font for use, Elder Butawo and I rolled up our sleeves and decided to do it the old fashioned way. We grabbed two buckets from the janitors closet and went out behind the church to the spigot. Yep, you guessed it...we filled the entire font (well full enough to baptize :D) by hand, bucket by bucket. This is Africa!!!! I think it was a really good experience for me because it helped me see (as other things I see every day) that we are truly blessed to live in America (and Canada for all the Canadians in the crowd 'A).

So a really sad thing I have seen more and more of as I've spent time here in Uganda is physical abuse of children and spouses. I was talking to two teenage girls and they told me that their father beats them on a regular basis. The conversation came about because I saw her hands were all cut up...The father wasn't even drunk, it is just a way of life over here. Also, the abuse of husbands toward their lives is really bad here. President Jackson spoke about this very topic at our Adult session of District Conference. He said point blank that this should NOT be happening. I have resolved to never use physical force as a punishment towards children, after seeing the hands of those girls (who were only trying to defend themselves) I felt so bad. Mothers, Fathers, Husbands, Wives. Please, show proper respect for your family members. Never, Ever physically abuse someone no matter how much you think they "deserve" it.

Okay, on that note...we have our new Transfer Assignments that will be coming in on Wednesday. It is the moment of truth. Will I stay...will I go...will I have a new companion or spend another six weeks with Elder Butawo? I think we are really starting to get into the swing of things now. We will probably have 4 baptisms on the 17th (next week) and are scheduled for another 4-5 on the 24th and 31st. When I got here to Walukuba Elder Butawo (who has been here for 4 months) wasn't actively progressing anyone towards baptism. Whatever the reason I don't know...so the first 2 weeks of the transfer we spent our time finding people to teach. It is only now (at the end of the transfer :/) that we have been able to stabilize our teaching pool with people whose baptism dates are spread out so that we can have 3-5 per week. I hope that I get to stay here in Walukuba because I have worked so hard to get these people started on their way to Christ and I want to continue the work here. Well...only Wednesday will tell :D So depending on where I'm going and what I'm doing I might not be able to email next week. For transfers we travel on Monday so I might be on a bus or in a taxi all day. If you don't hear from me please don't worry, just know that I'm probably changing locations and will update you as soon as I can.

So yesterday I was able to give a talk to the Walukuba branch on the importance of making and keeping commitments. Here in Africa a lot of people have a problem with this even the church members. I talked mostly about the importance of our baptismal covenants because we had so many investigators at church yesterday. One thing I challenged the branch members to do is to be at church on time. When sacrament meeting starts (1st meeting of the day) we usually only have 30-40 people and by the time the closing hymn is sung we have between 110-120. People are showing up late and missing the most important part of their day, of their week. The sacrament is so important in our lives and when we miss it we miss out on the blessings promised in the sacrament prayers. I don't know about all of you but I WANT to have the Spirit to be with me always. The only way we can do that is partake of the sacrament and renew our baptismal covenants. I thought of an interesting concept this week during personal study. We know that we are promised God's spirit to be with us always, but why...? I came across a scripture in Helaman 4:24 (I think....I don't have a BOM with me :D) that talks about "...Holy spirit cannot dwell in unholy temples." When we sin, we dirty our spirits and make ourselves unworthy of the spirit's presence. Every time we repent and seal the repentance by taking the sacrament we become clean and worthy of the Holy Ghost's presence. I am so grateful for the sacrament and the cleansing power of Christ's Atonement. Every day we make mistakes and I would encourage you to repent so that you can feel the cleansing power that comes from that action.

All right, that's all for now folks!!! Have a great week, don't have too much fun without me :D

Elder Winters

 "Goondy Bird" Also known as a Crane (not quite sure what kind of crane) When they soar they look like a Pterodactyl. These things are about 4 feet tall when standing and their wing span is like 6-7 feet!!!

On the shore of Lake Victoria. This is at the docks where all the fishermen come in. Yes it stunk SOOOO bad!!!!

Sunrise over the church building. Not quite a Utah sunrise but...it's the best I've got

MTC buds meet at a Mission Conference in Kampala (Thursday, 7th)

Ugandan President's helicopter coming in for landing at the Kololo airstrip next to the chapel in Kampala. YES!!!! I HAVE HAD MY EYE CANDY!!!!! Let me say this was the secular highlight of the week :D

Ugandan money. Paper money is pretty self explanatory, coins from top down: 500, 200, 100, 50 Ugandan shillings respectively. Current rate of exchange 2500 UGX to the US Dollar

On Friday we did a service project for a Ja-Ja (old lady) in the branch. She wanted to plant a garden so we dug (weeded and tilled) the dirt for her. Yes I got blisters, 8 to be exact.

Highlight of the week. Sister Vivian's baptism.

"We are not the ordinary..." Two teenage guys trying to be cool on mission haha!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th 2011

July 4th 2011
Happy 4th of July my friends!!! (And Canada day on Friday :D)

This week has been GREAT, except for a few small annoyances...:/ So first off, thanks for the letters this week, DearElder is the way to go, I still haven't received a single letter from the pouch so it must take a REALLY long time :D Thanks to the Crowleys (say hi to Sam for me), Jessica Clonts, Aunt Jeannette Nelson, Erin and Deena!!! I really appreciate your support and letting me know what's going on back in the good old USA.

So Saturday (2nd) was the hottest day since I got here. It had to be at least 90 degrees and 60-70 percent humidity (EESH!!!) haha, that's a new African exclamation I learned. Needless to say I was sweating the whole day and when I got home had to hang my clothes out on the line before putting them in the laundry bag. I guess mold is a pretty big problem here with all the humidity, so I've been trying to be really careful.

I saw my first accident on Wednesday since coming to Uganda!!! Which is incredible considering all the Boda-bodas, taxis and pedal-bodas running around. (boda-bodas are for hire motorcycle taxis in case you were wondering) So a boda-boda was SCREAMING down the road and as he was going through a crossroads he t-boned a kid on a bicycle. The kid flew about 10 feet, I ran over to make sure he was okay, he was. The funny thing is that he was so okay that he got up and started yelling in the face of the boda driver :D haha. I'm surprised that I haven't seen any more accidents, the crazy driving I've seen is NUTS!!! I'm sure the only reason I'm alive today is because of all the prayers in my behalf. Thank you on that note, with luck and the grace of God I will arrive back to Utah safely in 22 months :)

On Wednesday I was able to go on exchanges in Jinja town with an Elder Birch from Mesa, AZ. It was nice to visit a new area and meet some new people. I love working in Walukuba and I hope that I get to stay for at least 2 more transfers, but visiting somewhere else was very refreshing. The cool thing is, on the outskirts of Jinja town there is a little airstrip (dirt of course) but an airstrip nonetheless. I'm told that it is never used but it was fun to see the sign "Jinja Air Strip!!!" I really miss airplanes and airports!!! I haven't seen an airplane for one whole month now, which must be some kind of record (especially for me:D) I'm starting to get a little depressed, but I'm sure that I'll get through it. I can't wait to get back and start working at the airport again and see all the new technology and aircraft designs that will be around. I hear that by the end of this year NetJets (a aircraft share organization) will be purchasing some Global aircraft from Bombardier!!!! SWEET!!! I can't wait to see them!!! Also, I can't wait to get behind the yoke (or stick) and fly myself again. The Wright brothers were truly inspired by God to bring about the invention of the airplane. I know that the reason I'm on the earth at this time is so that I can fly, it is one of the best parts of my life and I MISS IT SO MUCH!!!!! Okay, sorry for the little pity party there, but it is something really hard I'm going through right now. Most missionaries leave girlfriends behind. I had to leave my girlfriend(s) behind with all the airplanes I have flown (55W, 814, 01S, 52E, 4AA, 88M, 1CT, the list goes on and on!!!!) I don't even get emails or letters from them...:/ that must tell me how much they care. :D Oh well, 22 months and I will be able to take to the air again and enjoy the freedom of flight.

So we had a Leadership Training with President Jackson (mission president) on Thursday. I was privileged to give a "training" or a short thought on the Sacrament and it's role in the lives of investigators. We as missionaries spend soooo much time and effort on trying to get people to come to church. There must be a reason for that. I spent 2-3 hours studying the sacrament and it's importance in OUR OWN lives to better understand how it can benefit the lives of investigators. I came across a scripture in Helaman 4:24 which talks about "...the spirit...cannot dwell in unholy temples." This verse made it clear to me. In the sacrament prayers we are promised that as we take and keep the promises contained therein we will have the Spirit to be with us ALWAYS!!! The spirit converts, and without it, someone cannot have a mighty change of heart. This is the real reason we push so hard for investigators to come to church. When we partake of the sacrament as part of the repentance process we are washed clean (as with baptism). With this cleansing we make it possible for the Holy Ghost to dwell in us and help us in our lives. So...the sacrament is sooooo important in the lives of investigators because they need to feel the spirit and cannot do so unless they are cleansed and worthy of it. This was a little different way of thinking about the sacrament in our lives than I have in the past. Kinda cool...

So I've got to interject something here...do you know the power of Flour, Salt, eggs, and Water??? It is these three simple ingredients that have enabled me to make one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. In the market here in Walukuba there are several food stands that have guys cooking different things. One of those things is known as a Rolex. It is simply a thick tortilla (chipatte) with a fried egg wrapped inside. Eating off the streets is against mission rules (cuz these guys never wash their hands, eeewww gross!!!) so I sat and watched this guy make the dough and subsequent Rolex. On the way home that night I bought a kg of flour and a few eggs to see what I could make happen :) I made a flour and salt dough, then formed the dough into round tortilla looking things (but thicker) then I cooked them on a pan. Afterward I mixed an egg with a little salt and flour (to thicken the mixture) and poured that into a pan, letting it spread so it was as large in diameter as the chipatte. After flipping the egg you put the chipatte on top of the egg to make them stick together, then when the egg is cooked you pick it up and roll it (hence the name Rolex). I have to say it is about the tastiest thing I have had since I came here (except maybe the pineapples, they are the BEST!!!). I hope I explained it well enough so that you guys can try it if you want. If not...wait 22 months and I will make all the Rolex you could wish for when I get back :)

I have had a lot of opportunities to use the priesthood in blessing people in the short time I have been here. Malaria is a disease carried by mosquitoes which once caught by a human being is there for life. About this time of year (or every time of year I guess...) a lot of people have spells of the sickness that comes up every once in a while. People usually have a high fever, and just feel generally terrible. We had one experience in particular this week when we were visiting this Ja-ja (grandma). She was dealing with the symptoms and asked for a blessing. We were able to bless her to overcome the symptoms of the illness so that she could live life and help her family. The next day we visited to check up on her. She was on her feet cooking lunch!!! I know that the power of the priesthood is real and God truly cares for each and every one of his children.

I guess I will wrap up this email with an admonishment from our mission president to the members of the Jinja District. He was talking to us at the adult session and said: "If you aren't married get married PERIOD." I don't know why this was so funny but all of us missionaries busted up laughing. Our mission president just told us to go get married!!!! WHAHOOOO!!!!! haha, we knew he didn't really mean that for us, but it was funny that he said it that way with missionaries in the room. So the best part of that, was that there were several "Muzungu" (white) girls from Utah at the District Conference. They are here for 6-8 months doing humanitarian projects around eastern Uganda. I don't know why (maybe cuz I'm a teenage guy) but myself and all the other missionaries got a little silly showing off while setting up chairs and stuff. You have to understand, I haven't seen a "Muzungu" girl in two months!!!!! :D Needless to say I went a little crazy...:) (see the picture all you return missionaries (especially the one in purple:O), they're coming back in September!!!)

Quick update on Sister Vivian. She had her baptismal interview on Saturday (2nd) and will be baptized on the 10th. More details and pictures next week!!!

Well, that's all for now folks. Don't burn yourself up with all the new aerial fireworks :D

Until next time, Love,
Elder Winters

When I told this sister that I missed my baby sister she let me hold her baby :D

We got to the church one morning and found all these flying ants all over the floor. They are massive, including their wings they are about the size of two fingers!!!

Breakfast "Plate of the week" 3 Avacados and toast with plum jam

"Muzungu" girls from BYU!!!

"MUZUNGU!!!!!" Kids love white people and will hang onto you and walk with you :) kinda fun

Chameleon I found at the church. RANGO!!!! "Reach for the sky!!!"