The Work is Hastening

This past week was full of eating new things, an otherwise dangerous-unanticipated experience and great strides in the spreading the Gospel.

*Slurp*

Yesterday, we had a dinner with a less active member who struggles with the word of wisdom.  And boy, was dinner good. He cooked some clams over a fire, cooked some chicken, boiled some carrots, and the works for us. And yes, Elder Johnson and I – before he cooked up the clams – slurped down a whole clam. And in case you are wondering, yes, that means it was alive. Haha! It was super salty and Elder Johnson and I were pretty pumped!! 😀

*Yikes!…Phew!*

Elder Johnson and I were heading home late after exchanges and were sitting at a stoplight, when an old, big, super drunk man walks up to our car, gets in the back and yells “Oh I’ve been praying!!! Yes, God has sent you to me!! Take me home my brothers! I’ve been trying to get home for ages!” Turns out, Elder Johnson had met him once and this man remembered it.

Regardless, we were both a little freaked out. Elder Johnson was completely freaked out. We weren’t really sure what to do, especially when he told us to take him to his home in Riverhead (which is out of our area). So we just followed his directions to his home.

Along the way, he reached up and gave me a bear hug, and let me say, he was a big man so I felt like a rag doll in his hands. For a split second, I was terrified. Then I remembered that both Elder Johnson and I, as righteous missionaries and priesthood holders, were safe. I felt that God would protect us.

The next thought that came to mind was to keep him happy. He was overly happy, but I knew that he could become just as angry and aggressive as he was amiable; he was very drunk. He talked about seeing demons in his life, he talked about his business, how his girlfriend was stealing all his money, how he couldn’t wait to take us out on his boats, how he had just sold his house on short sale because he was broke – basically we got the feeling that life had been treating him real hard. To add to that, he’d just spent all day in the hospital getting blood work done to find out he has cancer and all these other health problems.

Gratefully, his home did not end up being in Riverhead, but rather in Flanders (just inside of our area). We dropped him off and even got home 3 minutes before bedtime.

On our way home, we called our Zone Leaders what had happened and we all had a good laugh. I am grateful for the Spirit, the calm and peace that it brings to situation that I normally would have had no idea what to do in. I am grateful to be a servant of God and feel his protection even in a time that was unfamiliar, dangerous, and frightening.

So grateful to hear how the Spirit calmed them and prompted Elder McConkie to “keep him happy.” Nevertheless, I did send him a note back encouraging them to lock their doors 🙂

Remember: Share the Light

Elder Johnson and I would love to see them send another companionship out here to Southampton to really move the work along – there is so much to be done!

Time and time again I come back to 2 Nephi 31:2-3. There is real power in our simple truths. We but have to open our mouths and – if we are worthy and striving to serve God diligently – our words will be filled with power unto the converting of men. I have really begun to understand Ammon when he says in Alma 26:11-12 “I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”

As for myself, I am truly unable to do this work. It’s not possible. Not only is it impossible to convince someone of the truthfulness of our gospel through words alone, but as Nephi says, “I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.” It is with God and through the Atonement of Christ, as I receive strength through the Spirit to do that which is beyond my own that I will be the tool in God’s hand unto the bringing of many souls unto him. And if I am only to bring 1 soul, how great shall be my joy! (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15-16). I am so grateful to be out here doing the Lord’s work!

To any who feel the truthfulness of the message that our prophets share with us, share the light. When we have the desire to share the truthfulness which is the gospel with others, we will know we are truly converted to the Lord. Even as a young missionary, I have seen the incredible power members can have in sharing the gospel.

Remember, every member a missionary. Imagine the strength the church would receive if everyone were to take part in this amazing work! I feel the truthfulness of the message I share even now and I invite you to do the same through prayer to our Heavenly Father. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Sincerely,  Elder McConkie

*Note: I have changed the names of investigators in order that their personal journey remain personal until they are ready to share.

We asked Elder McConkie what the culture, lifestyle and acceptance in respect to sharing the Gospel is like in New York.

What does it look like?

The Hamptons is home to the richest of the rich (you know the 1% you always hear about? Yeah. I see their houses – scratch that, their MANSIONS – all the time. It is also, home to the poorest of the poor. The contrast is incredible and even mind boggling at times.

There are so many trees this far out in the Hamptons, which makes it beautiful. I am truly blessed to be serving out here.

Are there many ready to receive the Gospel message?

This past week, Elder Johnson and I have seen the Lord work miracles. We have done our very best to serve our best, living the rules to the best of our ability and striving to be the best servants we can. I’m not sure if I have mentioned before, but Elder Johnson and I are the first missionaries to be put in Southampton. Up to this point, missionaries in the Hamptons have only live in Hampton Bays (about 20 minutes west of where we live in Southampton). This has opened up a whole new area that hardly been touched, due to the mile limitations we have on our vehicles.

Before, missionaries from Hampton Bays hardly ever ventured out here and even further because of their mile limit is on the cars. Now, while we still teach some people in Hampton Bays ourselves, we have been able to really start the work in this area. And we have really begun to see the fruits of our labor. This past week we found 12 new investigators, taught 26 lessons, and set 5 more baptismal dates (we now have 7 total baptismal dates). We have knocked so many houses I’ve lost count, but slowly and surely we are finding those the Lord has prepared.

What are some of the challenges and blessings?

Yeah, there are a lot of people that are pretty accustomed to people going around and teaching them already. A part of Jehovah Witnesses’ religion (who have their headquarters in New York, I believe) – if you didn’t know – is that everyone does missionary work, including knocking doors. They have a REALLY good grasp on the whole member missionary idea that our leaders have been trying to promote for years. I am fully confident that if the church increased their efforts in their own missionary efforts that we would see incredible miracles in the church and many, many more faithful members. There is so much power in a member who teaches their friends the truth. After all, while we are not the best teachers ourselves, the real power is in the Spirit that we tell things: our truths are simple, but they carry a innate power that people can feel, a power that is impossible to create. It’s a power that testifies of truth.

Yeah, now that the summer is getting under way, there are a lot of people that are moving out here from their various places across the summer (though most are from the city). It changes the dynamic of the teaching a bit, since it seems that more and more we are getting some good brick walls. For the most part, people are not rude, but they are very stern and straight forward. They say “I’m not interested. I already know Jesus,” or “I’ve been saved” or – my ‘favorite’ one yet – “I’m Catholic”, which basically means they’re not interested….so I just say “Oh great! We’re Christian, too! And we believe that Christ wants us to have his truth so much, that our loving Heavenly Father has called a prophet on the earth today! He has restored his power almost 200 hundred years ago. Isn’t that great?!” Or I’ll say something similar to that. Most the time they just shut the door, some say “You two are cute, but no thanks.” (When they say that, I wanna raise my eyebrow and say “Sister, we are men. I’d prefer the term dashing….and speaking of men, did I mention that we have amazing men at the head of our church who are called of God??” Oh well. I just love when we run into people that are willing to hear our message, though.

Above all, the one thing I have seen over and over and over again is the truth that resonates with people. From *Sharon a Jehovah’s Witness with numerous health problems to *Matt – a man who works almost 24/7, has a skin ailment, and feels the weight of life like non other – to *Ronda and *Pat, an old rich couple who will take their time to sit down with us and ask honest questions. Perhaps that’s what I like most about New York. The people are so honest. When they have a question or concern, you can always tell or they just ask you out right. As well, the Hispanics have such a different culture. They are so kind, always willing to meet with you and listen, however so many times they have no real desire or intention to commit.

I am so grateful to be out here! Our little Hampton Bays Branch is growing; we had 5 of our own investigators at church yesterday and next week – if everyone makes it – we could even have 10 or more. The work is moving and the people are ready.

Someone's Hampton back yard

One of the back yards here. Believe it or not, this is actually super small for some of the neighborhoods in this area. For our morning runs, we run past houses with yards around 10x this big or bigger.

Ocean shot

A view from Ponquogue Bridge.

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