God Never Ceases To Amaze Me

     The scriptures say that when you feel the love of God, experience that mighty change of heart, are willing to repent and desire “no more to do evil” (mind you, that doesn’t mean you are perfect by any means: repentance and change is a life-long repeat), then, you will receive the desire to share such fruit with your family, friends and all of God’s children. There is such joy and rejoicing to strengthen us through our life as we come to know God’s plan of Salvation for each and all of his children. We are commanded even to go tell others. It is not for us to decide who will accept and welcome the message and who will not. The message is for all people. God knows each and every soul. He is ever vigilant toward the salvation of each person. He asks us to share the seeds as we hope those seeds will be planted in prepared ground to grow.

     Our missionaries are intensely involved in this effort. Nevertheless, proselyting has its real challenges. Discovering ways to share a life changing, life-saving message is a constant adventure.  There is much rejection. Still, onward they press to share the word.

      This week, Elder McConkie and Elder Asplund  were driving on Montauk Highway  when they felt like they needed to pull into one of the very affluent neighborhoods which to this point they had not proselyted because each estate has metal fences with coded gates. And when, in doing as the Spirit prompts, sometimes they find themselves in a bit of a pickle. God always help them out:

     So – needless to say – we had never before been able to get to their doors. However, THIS WAS NOT THAT DAY!! As we pulled in, we noticed a garbage truck leaving one of the estates. Momma Mia, but it was garbage day! And we all know what that means……pauses to wait to see if everyone knows what the means….it means that everyone leaves their gates OPEN. We decided that we weren’t the trashiest of visitors (haha: puns J) and they wouldn’t mind us taking advantage of this prime opportunity. So, we started knocking. Some were nice, some were not. Some answered. Others we heard yelling to the others in the house to “Wait until they leave.” I guess that’s when we could have yelled back, “We can wait!” 😉

     At one estate as we approached the front door, the gates began to close. I was half expecting the home owner to swing open his front door and yell “Release the Kraken!!” and set an army of pit bulls loose on us.

     Gratefully, that didn’t happen. Actually, he didn’t even answer the door the first time we knocked…Or the second time. We waited for a minute. We walked around the estate, trying to find the guy, because we couldn’t get out unless the gate was opened. So we walked back up to the front door and said a quick prayer, asking our Father in Heaven to 1) have him answer this knock and 2) not be too mad that we were stuck on his estate (by now, the gates had been closed for about 5 minutes). We knocked again and sure enough, he came to the door. His first reaction was one of complete surprise. It progressed something like this:

“How didst you find entrance to my beautiful estate?!” He exclaimed. 

“Through yonder gate whenst it wast openst. We art missionaries, dear sir, come to bring you a message of the utmost importance.” He said that he wasn’t interested.

We asked him, “¿Porque la puerta está cerrada, puede abrirla?” (“Since the gate is closed, will you open it?”)

     Long story short, he opened the gate for us and we got out.

     In. One. Piece….    Yep…   Good stuff…    Anyways.

      On Wednesday we had our Trainer/Trainee meeting at the mission office in Rego Park (that’s in Queens). It was basically a reminder meeting to the trainers of what they needed to be going over with their companions and an informative meeting for the trainees as to what they should be learning. Overall, it was super good. Actually, during lunch time, one of the assistants pulled me aside and shared some very kind things with me. This sure meant a lot, as he is one of the missionaries out here I look up to the most, which I shared with him. Again, the Lord knows what we need when we need it and it never ceases to amaze me. After the meeting, President wanted to sit down and talk with me. We had nice little talk about how my mission was going, I got a bit of time to ask him some questions, and he shared with me three attributes a missionary needs in order to be effective or powerful: 1) diligent, 2) obedient, and 3) grateful. What was interesting is I had been studying apathy the week earlier and had come to the conclusion that diligence was the antonym of apathy. As well, just a few months ago, I felt impressed about the importance of gratitude. Again, the workings of God never cease to amaze me. 

 Elder Sirrine and Elder McConkie July 2016     On Friday, we had exchanges. Elder Sirrine came to our apartment and Elder Asplund went to their apartment. Boy, was that a blast! Speaking of missionaries I look up to, Elder Sirrine is definitely one of them. Straight powerhouse.

     We went about our regular study and appointments for the rest of the day, set a baptismal date for September 10th, and took one of the priests out with us to teach. I learned SO much from Elder Sirrine that day.

     That night – after Elder Asplund and I reunited after a long 24 hours of being Asplundnessless – we went to the Junors. Turns out her family is coming in from Brazil and she wants us to come over every week to teach them for the next month. And she wants us – the English Elders – to teach them. Apparently they have good English….yeah, let’s hope for that. 

     Yesterday, at church I had a little adventure. First, we were asked to do sharing time in primary last minute. Second, when the sacrament was finishing, the first counselor in the Bishopric looked over at me at the piano and mouthed “Can you give a talk?” I nodded, so he stood up to announce the rest of the meeting. And guess what? I was speaking first!

     Haha! Wow! So I walked right over the podium and shared a ten minute talk on everything I have been learning about charity these past few weeks. Luckily, I’d been warned a couple weeks earlier that I was in the reserve for impromptu talks if someone didn’t show up, so I’d brought in my “Charity Study Journal”.

     I did my best to link together my thoughts, coupled with promptings from the Spirit. I shared things I’d learned from The Book of Mormon, from an Elder Maxwell talk I’d listened to, from my mom (thanks Mom!), and other personal insights. And actually, it went pretty well. I felt it was especially what one of our investigators needed.

     It actually went well enough that one of our less-actives came up to me and suggest I go into a career that has me speaking, which I would LOVE to do. I mean, you all know me. I love to talk. Don’t worry, I’m learning a lot more about listening out here. 🙂 

     Last night, we decided plant some seeds around the shops in The Village (the main area in Southampton). One of the first people we ran into happened to own several restaurant chains in SLC. We talked with him for a bit, got to know his family, shared a little bit about who we are, and went on our way. On our way back to our apartment, we ran into him again. As we said ‘hi’ to him, a group of young teenagers walked up to us and offered a hi-five to Elder Asplund. Elder Asplund went in for it and the kid faked him out. Per usual, all the kids start “Oooh!!! Dang!!!” You know, hooting and hollaring. So I joined in.

     We all started joking together when one of the kids looks at our name tags and asks, “So, you’re a Jesus supporter, huh?” We laughed and said, “Yep, we’re Jesus supporters alright.” Elder Asplund said that we’re Mormon missionaries. Then, the guy we had just ran into again piped in. He said, “You know why they call them Mormons?? Because their “More mon” (More man) than you’ll ever be!!” That’s when Elder Asplund and I started “Oooh!”-ing and the kids laughed and joined in with us. We kept walking and the guy who made the comment came up to us and said, “I’ve never used that one before. That was an original!” We laughed and said we might steal that one. After all, one can never have too many puns in their back pocket. 😉

      Remember that ice cream shop guy a while back that yelled at us? Well, an investigator took us there for ice cream when it was super busy. Obviously, we were SUPER nervous when we realized where we were going for ice cream, but we kept it cool.

     When the guy saw us, he got the same look on his face the last time we had seen him—smiling but super angry. But because we were brought there by a customer he couldn’t kick us out or say anything because that would have been bad business. I just avoided looking at him, and pretty much only spoke to our investigator…Talk about adrenaline rush!

     Also, yes, our little amigos are gone!! No more bed bugs. I never realized how much sleep makes a difference in our missionary work. Whomever said that one can never have too many friends obviously did not consider bed bugs! Yep, nasty buggers. 

Another thought on charity, in addition to what I said last week. Charity changes the question “Why does this happen to me/Why do I need to do that?” to “What would you have me do? And how would you have me do it?” It also changes the commandments from a “have to” to a “want to”. Just a little snippet of the incredible lessons I am learning out here. I will do my best to include more in the future.

     Until then, I want to reiterate my unending praise for Preach My Gospel. This book is inspired. The principles I learn from this book answer literally every question I have on the mission. Sometimes I have to search a bit, but without fail, they answer every question with scriptures, quotes, and pure inspired messages. 

     I love you all! I hope you’re having a great week. 🙂

Sincerely,

Elder McConkie

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