Sunday, February 26, 2012

Feb 20th 2012

Good morning, evening, friends and family. My first week in Bugembe has been a challenging one. Moving to a new area with a new companion always has been. Our teaching pool right now is very limited and there are not many people to progress towards baptism for us now. The answer is: TRACT!!! I have never been very good at tracting and I think Heavenly Father wants me to learn that valuable missionary skill. I'll write more next week, but for now I would like to share something spiritual with you.
This week I have been studying about the priesthood and about priesthood keys. I decided to study the conferring of priesthood keys throughout the dispensations as a prelude to the Restoration.
One of the greatest areas of confusion in modern (and even ancient) religion is the matter of authority. If we as human beings could ALL understand this eternal doctrine we would have "Save two churches only, the church of Christ, and the church of the devil" (1 Nephi 14:10) The truth is that the authority of God, namely the priesthood and its keys must be conferred by someone having the same authority. In the scriptures we find written accounts of the sealing keys of the priesthood being conferred in each dispensation. I would like to travel through time with you and visit each dispensation from the Old Testament all the way through our current dispensation.
Let us begin with the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Now we don't have any ancient record of him officially receiving the sealing keys, but through modern revelation we know this truth. "Also Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers." (D&C 27:9)
Next we have Peter in the New Testament dispensation. "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shalt be bound in heaven." (Matt 16:19)
Following Christ's resurrection he visited his other sheep in the Americas. To Nephi he said these words. "I give unto you power that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven." (Helaman 10:7)
And last but certainly not least we have our current dispensation. To the prophet Joseph Smith the Lord said these words. "I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven." (D&C 132:46) Through the ages our Heavenly Father has had a prophet on whom he has conferred the sealing keys of Heaven. I testify that Joseph Smith received those keys the same as Elijah, Peter, and Nephi. I testify that the keys have been passed from prophet to prophet and that Thomas S. Monson holds those keys today. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Love you guys!!!
Elder Winters

Church building in Bugembe (Yep, they have their own!!!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hello everyone. Greetings from my new area Bugembe (BOO-GEMM-BAY) I am here with my new companion  from Zimbabwe (picture next week) and happy to be communicating with you all again. The internet is much better here than Busia and I will be able to send pictures again.

CHECK OUT THOSE HORNS!!!! Texas has got nothing on this guy!!!
People are asking what Jack fruit looks like. This is it prepared.

Playin' around on top of a tall building. Just trying to stay loose!!!

Fridge full of beverages for branch party!!!

Need we say full taxi to baptisms? We had 27 people in that taxi!!!

Duck, Duck, Goose!!!! Primary is so fun!!! ;D

Who says men can't cook??? Preparing sandwiches and G-nuts for branch party

Baptisms Saturday

My two favorite people in all of Busia

Last Supper in Busia. Duma (Root vegetable) and Soya Cup (Soy bean "tea")

Feb 6th 2012

Hello friends and family. Long time no see!!! I know that I've been a slacker in getting some news to you, but it has all be due to circumstances out of my control. This weeked we went to a Zone Conference and Elder Renland of the Seventy was there to speak to us.
I would like to quote out of my journal entry from that night and I hope that you will be edified and grow spiritually because of it.

Elder Renland talked a little bit about our behavior and how our faith and belief affects it. The quote in Preach my Gospel by President Packer says it all. "True doctrine understood changes behavior quicker than the study of behavior changes behavior." Something the Spirit taught me during Elder Renland's comments was this: We as missionaries have got to HAVE or GAIN the maturity and sense of responsibility to learn and understand the doctrine, then FOLLOW IT!!! President Jackson went on to discuss agency in depth. He talked about our obedience and how while we have the agency to choose to obey or disobey we don't have the agency to select the consequences. (2 Nephi 2:27) One thing that he said really hit me today. We were reading about the Atonement in Mosiah 15:5-7. Jesus Christ suffered ALL things, but WHY??? Verse 7 has the answer. "The will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father." I don't think suffering for the sins of the world in Gethsemane was fun or easy, but our Savior submitted (kept
commandments) to the Father. Just the same thing can and should apply to missionaries. Things are not easy. "If they were easy, my younger sister would be here instead of me." (Pres. Jackson :D) But just as Christ submitted to the will of the Father when hard things were required of Him, I can submit even when it is difficult or the unpopular to do. During his discussion of agency, President Jackson talked briefly about the origins of agency in relation to pre-earth life and our 1st estate. He moved on pretty quickly but the Spirit chose to stick around a little bit on that topic and pushed me to start writing in my notebook. I decided to apply the pre-earth life and stuff to my calling and service as a missionary. In the pre-earth life we were in what we call our first estate. Everything else in our existence depended on our choices while there. In the existence of a missionary, we have a 1st estate as well. When that call letter comes, we have a choice to make. Accept the call, or reject it and go another way. For those who accept the call and keep their first estate there are many blessings in store including the opportunity to travel to a
(potentially) distant land to represent Jesus Christ. now that we have reached the mission field (2nd estate) the decisions we make today are the most important to us. Everything else in our existence depends on the choices we make here on our missions. First and foremost is the immortal quotation: "To be, or not to be, that is the question." To BE obedient, or not to be. To BE a hard worker, or not to be. To love your companion, or not to. To seek the Spirit, or not to. These are all things which we must ask ourselves before, during, and even after missionary service. We (as missionaries) are in our 2nd estate now, there are greater blessings up ahead but only IF we "BE" he kind of missionary God expects us to be. Remember 2 Nephi 2:27, we can choose our path, but we cannot choose what will lie along that path in the form of consequences. If we choose to NOT be a hardworking missionary then we will live with a constant feeling of regret the rest of our lives about how we served. If we choose to BE obedient we will have the spirit and God will bless us. Now I want to explain one interesting concept for you. I said that the choices we make on mission will affect the rest of our lives. Some may say "Uh uh..." I want to support this concept with scriptures as well as my own testimony. One thing I have come to realize very well in the last 3 months is that the kind of missionary we are, gives a very accurate indication of the type of person we will be when we go home. Following along with the "estate" concept, let's go to Alma 34:34. Half way down the verse we
read: "...that same spirit which doth posses your bodies at the time that you go out of this life will have power to posses your body [throughout the rest of your life]."

In Alma's words: If you are a rule breaker as a missionary, you will be a rule breaker when you return home.

I have a firm testimony of these things. I know that my journal entry was written for missionaries, but as in all other things the gospel contains, it can be applied in your own life. I would like to challenge each of you to go over the scriptures mentioned and put your own name in them (1 Nephi 19:23). I promise you that you will receive a greater understanding of our Heavenly Father's plan for us, as well as how your choices today will affect your future.

I love you guys!!!! In closing I want to invite you to all join me in the 6 week Book of Mormon challenge. I have decided to read the entire Book of Mormon this coming transfer (starting Feb. 14, 2010) and I invite you all to follow suit. If I remember correctly it will require reading approximately 4-5 chapters a day. If you are up to the challenge please tell one of my family members. I would love to have a running list of all you guys who are reading with me!!!

Until next week, or whenever I am able to write, -Elder Winters

Dinner at an investigator's place. Yep, communal plate...haha

With Member and Investigator