A mission provides such a wonderful opportunity of learning and loving. Elder McConkie shared many experiences from this past week which show all the blessings the Lord is giving him to lift the heads which hang down, share the joy of the Gospel, feel the comfort of the Spirit, pray for the weary and petition God’s needed mercies. I am reminded of what a beautiful blessing it is to care and to know that Heavenly Father cares. Then, to share that love and care with others. We are each a son or daughter of God.
This last week we were really blessed. We now have 9 investigators with baptismal dates that are all proactively seeking to come closer to God. I am so excited for the branch getting so many amazing members! 🙂
We had a sister go home this week because she has a terminal illness and is too sick. I do not know much about it other than that she will most likely die early from what she has, possibly within the next ten years. The night before she left, we were at a Hispanic investigator’s house whom both they and we teach. Their family found out why she was going home and immediately went out to buy a cake. We all ate a piece as we all talked.
As I listened to the conversation, I realized how important this sister was to this family – they considered her to be a part of their family. They were going to miss her terribly. Their
testimonies were not reliant on this sister. They dearly love her and more than one of us shed a tear or two. 🙂
The father brought us missionaries into the main room with this wife and he led a prayer for this sister. I listened as this man (very strong with his emotions, never shedding a tear for anything in many, many years) pleaded with God for this sister to be blessed and healed. When we all stood up, I looked over and I could see that he had been crying. I pray that whatever the Lord has in store for this sister that all will be well – I truly hope that she is healed and can do as she most desires, which is to return to the field after she recovers.
One day last week the missionaries switched up companions for what is referred to as “exchanges.” They then, go about doing missionary work. It was Elder McConkie’s turn to stay in the area, so the “exchanging” Elder Peña (one of his Zone leaders) and Elder Martino (a Senior Missionary and recent former mission president) were to go with that area’s plan for the day. Elder McConkie was nervous about taking the lead, and then things didn’t go as planned. He chose to learn some good lessons from the experience:
I was leading the pool and then all our plans fell through, even though 3 of our appointments were with pretty solid people. We drove around too much, which helped teach me a lesson about planning.
I also learned a lot about missionary work, even though we didn’t teach as many people. As I watched Elder Martino do the work, I saw as he was first and foremost a friend. I have been going around and been throwing the church at everyone I meet. At times it has worked. However, I saw the power of Elder Martino’s approach. Although we didn’t get any return appointments, he left a seed of faith in everyone he talked to. He was honest and genuine, a friend who cared about them. He focused on each and every person he met for that moment, not worrying about continuing on. When Elder Peña and I
did introductions that weren’t the best, he didn’t even say a word. He taught by example.
After a day of mostly contacting, before exchanges were over, Elder McConkie was able to connect with a few of the people he and Elder Johnson have been blessed to teach.
Gratefully, we taught *Joe tonight. I texted him and let him know that we were in the area. He said that he would be home in 20 minutes, so we were at his house 21 minutes later. The Spirit was so strong in the lesson. We met *Carrisa, Joe’s sister, and her kids. We said prayer with the kids and Joe and all the kids – even the super loud ones – were completely quiet and reverent. All the kids were so excited to pray and were SUPER excited that we were bringing church to their house. One girl shouted “I want to go to church!!” At one point, we played a little video for everyone to watch, and all the kids and dad came and sat all around me as we watched it – I loved it!
We finished out the night with a lesson to an young man who is getting baptized soon.
Teaching the Peace with peace officers, 🙂 finding a resident family reunion, service opportunities, compassion and smiles topped off this week.
Elder Johnson and I were out walking around the small shops in town, using the last few minutes of our night for contacting, when we came across some firefighters, ambulance workers, and such talking and having fun on some steps outside of a church. We stopped and said hi. We talked for a second and then introduced ourselves, as we did so, one of the men smiled and said, “Oh, we know who you are.” Then, told us where we live.
Elder Johnson and I were a little shocked. We asked him how he knew. He just
said, “Oh you know, word gets around.” Haha!!
So apparently a lot of people in Southampton know where we live, which is not characteristic of missionaries serving in the Hamptons. Haha!! I’m wondering if they knew because we taught a cop in his car a little over a week ago.
We stumbled upon an extended family the other day. The Mom lives in one house, a nephew in the one next door, and the sister next to him, with two brothers living in the next two houses. And boy, are the houses NICE. Apparently the son that doesn’t live there is a really famous house builder out here in the Hamptons. We met with one of the sons who is going on an African Safari soon and he seems pretty open. His brother next door, however, is a different story. He told us we have “20 minutes Tuesday evening and that’s it”…we’re hoping we can share the message he needs to hear and that God will soften his heart so he will be receptive to our message.
Late in the evening, our appointment with a less-active fell through so from 5-7 we had an empty schedule – we had no back up plan, no idea what to do. We decided to try and visit a family we have been teaching on and off. As we got close to their home, we saw two young couples out in a yard, raking a MASSIVE amount of leaves. We stopped to help them. We talked with one of the couples mostly; her name was *Julie and his was *Max. Apparently, they bought the house the beginning of the year and the leaves they were raking had been accumulating over the past 3 years.
As we raked, I talked with Julie about religion. She shared her feelings that children should not fear God, but love him. I shared the song I’m a Child of God and explained that this as often the first song we taught our kids. I pointed out the hope and peace the song inspires. She also said that she was driven away from her church when a priest told her boyfriend that he was going to ‘damned to hell’ for his long hair. I shared how much God loves us, explained that we did not feel that hair length was a factor in Eternal Salvation, though we are encouraged to been clean shaven and stay away from extreme styles. We finished most of the raking before we had to go, and before we left we exchanged numbers and they let us know when they were usually home.
Saturday was a community clean up day. Our Branch signed up, so we got to the church at 8 and finished cleaning miles of roadway at 11:30. Even though we only had around 20 people from our Branch there, our mission president, President Reynolds, heard about what we were doing and asked all the missionaries in our zone to be there….so we had around 22 extra missionaries there to help us out! We all wore Helping Hands
vests to help keep us safe AND to get our name out there. 🙂
After church Sunday, we taught a family that breaks my heart. The father is addicted to pornography, alcohol, and cigarettes. He really does love his family and can be a very, very good father, especially when he is teaching certain lessons to his children. However, overall, his behavior is slow destroying his family. His wife and kids are all members and we are helping him progress to his own baptism. Elder Johnson made a very accurate and chilling observation when he said that the only thing holding them together is the Gospel. After yesterday, it sounds like he will be putting more emphasis on church. To add to the struggle, the Mom and kids have an illness, which has made life a bit more difficult.
We went to the Mackays (the Branch President and Primary President) for dinner Sunday. They have two young kids–and they are CRAZY. Oh my word, they are so energetic and so imaginative. They turned me into “an eyeball” and I crouched down and chased them around the living room as they laughed and screamed for I don’t know how long. It was so fun!!!!!!!!! 😀
We broke our fast with them, which was asparagus, bread, chicken, tomatoes, and potatoes with bacon. President Mackay and Elder Johnson got their food as soon as dinner was announced and sat down to eat. I noticed that Sister Mackay was getting increasingly more frustrated as she prepared her children’s plates (they were very demanding), which was only increased by that fact that she was very hungry. I decided that I would tag team with my companion and let him talk with President Mackay while I made it a point of helping Sister Mackay prepare her children’s plates and then letting her dish herself up before I got my food.
It was so great to sit around a table with the a family: kids telling jokes and parents asking them to remember they were at the dinner table. 🙂 We gave a short lesson where we talked about who they were sharing the gospel with. They agreed to talking with a few of the friends they mentioned and said they would be ready when we followed up. 🙂
Today we had an activity as a district. The Sister Training Leaders came and we did it at the Martinos. We did a few activities and had an amazing devotional on Peter and Christ. 🙂 In these pictures, we were trying to stack our graham crackers as high as we could in 2 minutes (team building activity). 🙂
*Note: I have changed the names of investigators in order that their personal journey remain personal until they are ready to share.