Peace In The Storm and I Met The Mafia

IMG_0185 (2)There are two of the letters which Elder McConkie sent this morning. Please allow me a small discourse to introduce the first part of Elder McConkie’s word home today. There is no distance to great for the Spirit to inspire. It is a witness of the miracle of prayers being heard and answered:

Families and other people who support missionaries in their field of service report countless blessings from Heaven during that time. Many experience prosperity in the form of health, finances, and opportunity. To say that we were looking forward to some of those blessings with a great amount of faith would be an understatement. Nevertheless, rather than feeling those needed blessings, we have seen greater and tumultuous adversity since the day Elder McConkie put his papers in to be a missionary. After a year and a half of blind-sighted faith-trying struggle, we anticipated the blessing of Elder McConkie getting assigned would mark the months ahead of renewed strength and more visible blessings. Plainly put: not so. Now, I do not wish to portray that we aren’t grateful for the blessings that have come and been so appreciated. Still, the storm which passed has been followed by trial after trial. We do our best to focus on our blessings, have hope and trust in the Lord’s ways and timing. However, the constant barrage of thorns finally piled up this weekend. I, Elder McConkie’s mom, doing all I could to focus on our blessings, felt the weight of it all overcome me with confusion, hurt, forgotten dreams and lack of progress. I found myself with only a spark of hope. And that spark hurt. 

So, this morning I got up early to read my scriptures as the sun came up. In truth, all I felt was guilt for not handling our trial better, hurt for dreams not realized and wondering whether there was joy to be had. I asked Heavenly Father to help me feel His love and concern for me in a way that didn’t make me feel I have “a long ways to go.” Because the journey has been long and I am exhausted. Then, I went in to get ready for the day. I grabbed my phone to put it in my pocket when something prompted me to look at it. Elder McConkie never emails me in the morning…but there it was. It was a letter to me personally. I had not shared my discouragement with my son. “Somehow” he still knew just what to write. I share it here that perhaps any out there who have, do or will at some times in their lives feel hopeless might find comfort and inspiration to press forward:

Mom,

 Wow. What a crazy week. First Enoch has surgery and then a car accident. Wow. I’ve been praying for you all each chance I get (Alma 34:27). BUT congratulations on getting through two migraines without Dr. P! That’s so great! *jumps up and down, does a little ditty* 
As I’ve pondered on these recent occurrences, my mind has turned to the blessings promised to those who send out a missionary. My mind has returned to my setting apart blessing [a blessing given by a holder of the priesthood to perform a certain duty]  where I was promised things would be taken care of at home. Angels were promised to attend and we definitely saw their protection in the car accident. Still, it seems that things are getting worse and that it might feel like we need to turn to God and ask him for those promised blessings.
On my run this morning, I thought of the Savior calming the tempest. In the midst of a terrible storm and what was probably a desperate plea for help, Christ’s Apostles cry out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Personally, I am sure there were a few added exclamation points after that question mark. In reply to these pleadings, Christ demonstrates – as he had already many times before this – that he has power over all. After this show of miraculous intervention, he turns to his young disciples and asks, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” While this is somewhat an extreme example, life can set us course through incredible storms and mighty wind. The waves can seem to beat at the boat with such ferocity that it seems it will splinter to pieces, all the while we are reading that if we are righteous, we shall receive so many blessings “that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
Prophets promise us that the Lord has many blessings in store for us, and yet it seems that when they come it is only to bandage or ease the trial of “great storm of wind…and the waves” (Mark 4:37). While we have no answer for the why’s, there are two scripture that bring me peace. The first is from Doctrine and Covenants. It reads, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17). The second scripture is Mosiah 24:8-15
I love you, Mom! I’ve pondered over this email all this morning, so I hope it offers some love and hope. Real quickly, a thought comes to mind from church yesterday. We were discussing humility and I shared a quote from President Uchtdorf: “We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves.” In humility, our Savior offered himself for us. In humility, people come together. In humility, the Lord is able to teach us.
One thing that I have petitioned the Lord for is peace and joy in all things. As you know, serving a mission is hard. While I don’t know why everything happens, there is one thing the Lord has told us. If we follow him, we will have joy and happiness and peace. These are not destinations, but blessings even as we walk the path. While all around us the tempest may be raging, our souls can be calmed, our hearts at peace, and our attitude joyful. 
I love you, Mom!
Now, the second letter is his letter to everyone. Wonderful to know the Lord is watching over him.
Yep. I met the Mafia. We knocked on a house and we could see about 5 really big men inside with tattoos all up their arms. Turns out they we’re touring a house their friend had just built. One of the men answered and asked us who we were and we told him we were the missionaries. He asked us straight up “Do you believe in adultery?” We said no. He asked us why. We explained that strong families are created when a husband and wife are faithful. We also explained it makes us happier.
The conversation kept going, even to the point where he offered to make a couple phone calls and arrange for us to “experience the real world”. We quickly said no and I bore my testimony on the importance of families.
All in all, it was a very interesting experience. Obviously, there was more to the exchange, as we know they are Mafia. One of the men in the background was a little uncomfortable and I sure hope he felt a little guilt. Who knows, maybe that’s what he needed! 🙂

Thursday was Zone Training Meeting. It was pretty incredible. The whole focus was our attitude and our mission vision. To start off, we all broke off into districts and took turns complimenting each person in the district. How it worked was one person would stand up and going around the circle, each person would say “I love Elder/Sister ________
because….” and “My favorite moment with Elder/Sister________ was….”. It really brought the Spirit to the meeting!

The next portion was a workshop done by Elder Johnson, Sister Martino, and me. I spoke on personal attitude in direct relation to the Brigham Young quote:

Every faithful Methodist that has lived up to and faithfully fulfilled the requirements of his religion,…will have as great a heaven as he ever anticipated in the flesh and far greater. Every Presbyterian, and every Quaker, and every Baptist, and every Roman Catholic member…that lives according to the best light they have, …will have and enjoy all they live for…This is the situation and Christendom after death. You go among the Pagans, or among all the nations there are…and if they have lived according to what they did possess, so they will receive hereafter.  And will it be glory? you may inquire. Yes. Glory, glory, glory.” (Journal of Discourses)

Sister Martino spoke on attitude towards the people. She told the story of Ammon going out to serve. The people had told him that the Lamanites were hard hearted, etc., but instead of having a bad attitude, he loved the people and served them. This includes attitude towards those with whom we serve. Look what happened. 🙂

Elder Johnson shared attitude for the area. He told the story of how people used to look at the Hamptons as the bad area, but now it is doing super good. And it was all because of the way the missionaries viewed the area.
For the next portion, I directed questions to the missionaries, Sister Martino bore her testimony, and Elder Johnson left a commitment. Elder Martino taught sanctification, President Reynolds taught on our mission vision, then the districts talked over what we had talked about. The conference was 3 hours and 30 minutes.

This week was a bit slower, but we had some good lessons. We didn’t see many of our regulars. Love you all! Sorry, P-day is a little weird today because it is only half P-day – Elder Johnson has his temple trip tomorrow (before he goes home) so I get my other half P-day tomorrow.

Elder McConkie

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