Perhaps, noticeable to some: I have not posted Elder McConkie’s letters for the past couple of weeks. With all the responsibilities of being a district leader in a new area, as well as, the calling to serve as the Branch (local congregation) Clerk, he has been facing an even more difficult challenge. I feel to express the gratitude I feel that the Lord cares about each of us so much that He provides opportunities for growth. These opportunities can open new doors of understanding if we let them.
In this particular experience, one of the people with whom Elder McConkie serves doesn’t really like him. Though this person did not really know Elder McConkie before he was assigned in this area, this missionary found quite an aversion to his personality and spoke ill of Elder McConkie to the others in the district. This missionary, while struggling to see the importance of mission rules obedience, is charismatic and fun and well-liked by the others in the district. I share a few of the things Elder McConkie has learned in the past few weeks to help others preparing for missions learn and be prepared for the opposition which can come from those with whom you serve. Nevertheless, if you stay humble and meek, there are life lessons to learn:
Can I share a little something? Sweet, here I go. So [there is a particular missionary who is not his companion] in our District. He’s a good man who relates well to others. That said, he has been the greatest stress on me. At the beginning of the last transfer, he pulled me aside and told me he was sorry because he had talked bad about me before he met me. Then–a few weeks later on exchanges–he took most of companionship study to tell me what I’d been doing wrong. It was good stuff, but shared pretty bluntly. He then continued the rest of the day to say little things like that.
Just a few days ago, he pulled me aside for an hour exchange.
As a back story, Elder McConkie shared some concern with his Zone leaders about a particular circumstance in which this missionary was leaning on the fence of mission rules. His leaders told Elder McConkie he needed to discuss the behavior with the missionary. This was hard for Elder McConkie but he knows the blessings of keeping the mission rules in order to keep the Spirit with them. The concern and counsel was not very well received:
[This missionary] spent the entire day raging about me in his apartment, yelling and screaming and thinking about all my weaknesses and everything I’ve ever done wrong. He told me all this on the short one-hour exchange and continued to lay into me. Again, I sat and listened while he talked. I didn’t say a word, again. Of course, I can see where he is coming from, however he was not very kind about it.
Anyways, this whole thing has given me quite a bit of stress. Yes, he gave me a [gift] for my birthday. Yes he gives me hugs when he sees me. However, even today when I mentioned we couldn’t do something because of the rules, he got angry at me and has been angry ever since with me.
I haven’t heard a single compliment from this man. And the way he makes it sound is that I have been a pretty bad District Leader. And everyone really likes him in our District. In a way, I’ve felt a bit of an outcast. Not that I want to fish for compliments, but I wish others would share things they liked with me. That said, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about 1) supporting leaders and 2) being kind and supportive. Anyways, thanks for letting me share that.
Fast forward to this past week:
The hardest part about this last week was probably our District Inventory. However, it was also one of the best things that happened. We’d been having some tension as a District, so we took some time to express our thoughts and feelings. Ever since this, the unity in our District has only grown. Personally, this inventory has really helped me see how much I need the Lord. It has also helped strengthen my testimony of how much I need Him.
In addition, I’ve learned the important life lesson that unless something is said, problems don’t usually resolve themselves. I didn’t really understand what my trainer Elder Ty Johnson said at the beginning of the mission when he said, “Patience begins when you say something, not just when you deal with it,” but now I’m beginning to see what he meant. Communication is so key.
I will share the rest of his letter in the next post.