It has been a good 6 months in the Hamptons

The love Elder McConkie has for the people of Southampton has permeated every letter home. He has prayed and prayed for them in their own challenges and circumstances, hopes and joys. Last month we asked him for a list of people for whom we could specifically pray as we joined Elder McConkie and Elder Asplund in prayerful fasting.  We should not have been surprised that the list which came had over 50 people on it. J Oh, how he loves them!

Today, I look at that list and feel his heartache of saying ‘farewell’ to friends. My heart is touched as I know how blessed he has been to serve them. May he be blessed to see them again. Elder McConkie transferred this week:

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The sign says, “I’d turn back if I were you.” It doesn’t look like Elder McConkie will be turning back! 🙂

     After 6 months of ups and downs, personal growth and trials, experiencing success and perceived failures, I am leaving my first area. Actually, as I am finishing up training Elder Asplund this transfer, we expected my transfer. A month ago, I felt antsy–I was ready to experience something new. This final week here, however, I realized just how much I am going to miss the Hamptons. It’s funny, we were talking to a local the other day and they commented on how everyone he talks to almost doesn’t believe him when he says he grew up in Southampton. To many, the Hamptons are for summer getaways and weekend outings. However, there are those who call it home. I’d like to feel I can say the same thing. Home is where the heart is, and a part of my heart will always be in the Hamptons.

     Before I share the bulk of this week’s events, there’s one experience I had on which I would like to focus first. From my previous emails, I’ve shared how I’ve been studying the Atonement. There’s a promise in chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel: “As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the ‘great … importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth’ (2 Nephi 2:8).” How true this is!

     During one of my personal studies, I was directed by the Spirit that I needed to apply what I’ve been learning to a lesson plan for a particular person we are teaching. This was a very sacred moment for me; as I studied, I felt the Spirit guiding me. He brought scriptures to remembrance, directed my thoughts, and edified my understanding. During companionship study, I expressed the what I had studied and we prepared the lesson. The message was interlaced with scripture such as 1 Nephi 11:31, Alma 7:11-12, and Matthew 9:12, all leading to the point that Christ is the Great Physician. “The Son of Man hath descended below them all” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8).

     Sharing this message, an incredible feeling of gratitude swept over me and I realized how much the Atonement means to me! My study of the Atonement has been but a scratch on the surface. However, it has been the most heart-changing experience for me. It has been within this last week that I have been able to testify from my heart and not from my head that Jesus is the Christ. He is our loving Elder Brother, the Great Redeemer, the Promised Messiah. He is not only desires to help us; he knows how to help us because he has experienced it all. He is the Best Friend. 

Elder McConkie has had the blessing and opportunity on Preparation days to record some vocals for a music album a member is composing (remixes of the hymns). This week he sang a verse rewritten as though it was God singing it. He said it was a very humbling experience and is grateful for the opportunity.

Preparation Day this week was super busy, so his letter is mostly comprised of excerpts from his journal:

12 September

     We went and taught [a member family], and they decided that they are going to be making steps towards the temple.

     We had actually stopped by *Tom’s before going to teach [the member family] but he wasn’t home. He messaged us tonight, saying that he was sorry for missing our text and our call and said that he wanted to meet with us, so we sent a reply back that we would love to meet tomorrow! I’m super excited that he wants to meet with us!! I hope we can bring the joy of the gospel to his life!!

     I’m trying to be a better missionary. I want to be exactly obedient. Completely. I’m working on it.

15 September

   Today was a very long day. Why? Weekly Planning. Ah, so useful, yet so long. We spent the first hour scheduling out everyone, ate our lunch, and then planned lessons for everyone else after.

     This evening, we had a full plate handed to us. We read the scriptures with *Robert–and helped out a new investigator, *Angie. We read 1 Nephi 5-6 with Robert. Boy, he sure loves the Book of Mormon! His amazement over the smallest things is incredible to me–it really helps re-ignite my passion. 🙂

     Angie texted us last minute and asked if we had something to help her put some furniture together. We borrowed a tool from Elder Martino and went on over. When we got there, we offered to help and were able to put two thing together for her. She really appreciated our company. She is so kind! After all that, we read Alma 32 with her. At the end, it was clear that she was at least curious about what we were teaching, though not seriously looking into it by any means. We encouraged her to read and pray to ask if the Book of Mormon is true. Actually, we had her say the closing prayer and had her ask if the Book of Mormon is true. I really hope that she will find the joy of the Gospel! Oh, and she said that we could do some video studying with her over Facebook video calls, so that should be good.

     Tonight, I watched a little clip from The District on Daily Planning. I have felt that our Nightly Planning sessions have not been very effective, in fact, they’ve been very minimal. So I watched to see how the sisters did it, and boy, did they really teach me a thing or two. I really want to apply what they taught in that video.

     I am grateful to be out. Love serving in the Hamptons. Service really is an incredible key to missionary work! I know Christ’s Atoning power is for you and me. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

17 September

     Today Elder Asplund went into the city for training to be a trainer. That’s right, he is training! Because we had scheduled previously to help someone, as well as, meet with another person, Elder Asplund went with Elder Peña into the city while I stayed here with Elder Hardy.

     It was a blast! I had a great personal study this morning; it was largely about the [a particular family]. The lesson centered around Christ as the Great Physician and how paralleling what we know from modern-day medical procedures can teach us about the Atonement and the commandments. Today I also started memorizing all the references for the scriptures found in the lessons in Preach My Gospel.

     We had our appointment with *James, and he was happy to see us! First off, there has been a change in James. He seems more prepared. I’m so excited for missionaries to teach him this time around! He’s been dropped and picked up around 4 or 5 times. Each time he is, he progresses. When he stops progressing, missionaries drop him and a few months later pick him back up. Each time he makes a bit more progress. Today we talked a lot about his job for 30 years: he was a Health Safety Inspector in New York.   He talked about how he never took bribes. I related it to how my dad never takes bribes as a building inspector. We shared a brief message and left him 1 Nephi 1 to read.

     The rest of the day we spent knocking or teaching lessons at door steps. After Elder Asplund and I got back together, we knocked on this house where a guy came out and started swearing up a storm and freaking out. It was hilarious!

     Also, President told Elder Asplund I am transferring.

18 September

     Today was an interesting day. I said goodbye to a lot of people I care about. I didn’t want a huge fanfare, so I hadn’t told a lot of people that I was leaving. Today, I mentioned it to many as it was the last time I would be seeing them, because I did want to say goodbye. I just want to make sure that the transition into the next missionary is smooth. 🙂

     After church we visited the *Cabrella Family was sick, so they weren’t able to make it to church today. We went over afterwards and talked with them for 2 hours! The dad talked most the time. That man is starting to make some great change! He said that he is trying to have a different attitude about things, that when he sees people that a good thought comes to mind instead of a bad one. He told me multiple times that he has been trying to get some space from me (we haven’t seen him for the past month or so) and that it was uncomfortable for me to be up in his business, but by the way he said it, it was apparent that he appreciated me being there. He was grateful for the things I said. In fact, he had been making an effort to serve more at home. The family dynamic while we were there was more peaceful–he really can be a good father and has the potential to be a great one! They were sad to see me go. The dad was very sure to say that he thought I was going to go far in life, and in his own special way he said that he would really miss me. 🙂

     After that, we headed over to an investigator’s home. She didn’t answer the first few times we knocked, so we walked around back. She was there and when we called her name, she turned around and said, “Oh! I forgot you were coming!” She was happy to see us. 🙂 We had a good talk about 2 Nephi 31 and referenced a lot of different things about the Atonement and all that. She is really investigating now. I bore my testimony and shared that the way for her husband to come to know the Savior is through the Book of Mormon. She said that she was going to miss me. I am going to miss that family! They are so amazing! Their kids are going to be two stellar missionaries. Their dad would make such an amazing Bishop or Stake President. Seriously. I pray that they will be baptized!

     We said goodbye to *Scott, as well. He’s a good man and I am going to miss him.

     We went to a member’s home and said goodbye. She reheated some Indian food (mmm mmmm good!) and we had a great conversation over the dinner. She told me that I had changed a lot, which I was grateful to hear. I feel like I have changed a great amount while I’ve been here. I’ve loved serving so much! The people here are amazing! I am ready to move on to some good ‘ole change so I can improve and grow, thought I will miss everyone here immensely. However, it’s not goodbye forever, but just a goodbye for now.

     Today at church, Sister Martino came up to me and said that she wasn’t sure if she could say goodbye to me yet. We talked for a second and I shared that it was just over the past few days that I realized how much the Atonement means to me. She pointed at my heart and said that I talked from my heart and that’s why she appreciates me. She pulled me in for a semi hug and as she walked away, there were tears in her eyes. I am so greatly humbled!!!! Sister Martino inspires me and to have her as a dear mentor and fellow missionary humbles me, touches my heart, and fills my soul with joy. She is truly amazing. 🙂 I love the Martino’s.

     I’m sure going to miss Elder Asplund. Such a great guy! We get along famously and the work goes smoothly. The Hamptons are set up for so much success and Elder Asplund is going to do fantastic!!

     The gospel is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am slowly growing my conviction and increasing my conversion. I feel the message we share of Christ burn in my heart often–I can feel that it’s true. I’ve had striven to be able to teach from my heart and not just give lip service; I want to be able to testify, not just preach. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Kingdom of God on the earth today. I can testify of this. I can testify that Christ came to this earth and not only lived his life in perfect example for us, but died a sinless death after suffering for us in the garden of Gethsemane. Tears come to my eyes now as I think of the Atonement and what Christ did and does for you and I. He is our best friend. He doesn’t sympathize, He emphasizes perfectly. I have used the healing power of the Atonement. I felt it today as I took the sacrament, something I prepared all week for. If you are reading this, I would invite you to come to know him better. He is there. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

     As a final after thought, when President called Elder Asplund today to ask him to be District Leader in the Hamptons this next transfer, he called me over afterwards and told me a little about the new assignment he had for me. He didn’t tell me the area, but told me it should be good. We’ll have to wait to see until next week. 🙂

Love you all!

Elder McConkie

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For preparation day today, we went out to Montauk as a District. It was POURING!!!! So much fun!

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That’s our Michael!

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District Photo September 2016

 

 

 

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