Am I Doing The Little Things?

     Work as a missionary is all about teaching with the Holy Ghost. This is taught simply and clearly from a quote in Preach My Gospel: 

“The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability” (Ezra Taft Benson, seminar for new mission presidents, 25 June 1986). 

Being worthy to receive the influence of this Holy Spirit is essential to experiencing a fulfilling mission. And what qualifies us for this influence? I feel like these two verses explain it very well:

“[B]ehold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

“And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls” (Alma 37:6-7).

     Just like when we are flying an airplane, it’s easy to identify when we are made a large shift in course. It’s quite obvious that if we turn the airplane in a hard right that we will not reach our desired destination, just like it’s easy for us to see how murder and adultery are major course changes that will not lead us to our desired destination: eternal life with our Father in Heaven.

     What aren’t so noticeable are the tiny one degree changes. I remember one of my teachers reading a book about this to us. It’s the story of a sightseeing flight with over 200 people who boarded the plane in New Zealand to view the Antartic. The plane instead crashed into the side of Mount Erebus, killing all on board. Why? Because for hours, the controls on the plane had been turned just a few degrees off, which meant that slowly but surely, hour after hour, the people were traveling further and further away from where they should have been.

     Honestly, it’s those one degree turns that I feel are the most important. It’s easy for me to say that I’m living the Word of Wisdom, that I’m reading my scriptures, that I’m going to church, that I’m planning every night and rising on time. However, the question is am I doing the little things? Never before has exact obedience meant so much to me. Sure, I’ve heard that it’s important. Sure, I’ve been told that it’s the key to power as a missionary and the gateway to miracles. And it’s been recently that I’ve finally been able to see that.

     And to add to that, it’s not about just doing what the Lord says, it’s about keeping his commandments, because I love him. It’s just as Christ petitioned his Apostles: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Which just points me back to charity, the same answer I’ve been given every time I have asked God for direction when I am facing a problem.

     Really, obedience is just about doing the right thing because we have to, but rather obedience is about doing the right thing because we want to. I always thought that was a cliché, when in all reality it is the real answer. Charity is the grand-motivator. When we are motivated by love–pure love–the issue is no longer “What won’t I do?” but, instead, “What am I willing to do?”

     Thanks for following me on that thought–it’s been on my mind all week. It’s incredible to see the things the Lord has in store for us. 

Thanksgiving Service

     So our branch is pretty cool. For Thanksgiving, they planned an activity to prepare over 100 lunches and hand them out to people for free. We all showed up at the church around 10:00 am on Thanksgiving and prepared all the lunches assembly line style. Boy, that was fun! A bunch of us would grab a few lunches and walk down the street, asking people if they wanted a free lunch. My goodness, what an incredible experience. 

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Elder McConkie loves Christmas!

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One of the families they visit loves Christmas, too!

     I love the holidays!! And can I say, this Thanksgiving had NO shortage of food. In fact, we had 8 dinner appointments scheduled. EIGHT. That’s like three more than five….that’s a lot! The night before, I actually asked that the Spirit not just enlarge my soul (see Alma 32:28), but to also enlarge my stomach, because there was no way I was going to keep it all down. And let me say, miracles are real. Some how we managed to go to 4 houses, instead of 8. That said, I was still stuffed with some pretty amazing food. 
     The first house we went to was the Forbes. They are from Jamaica and made a killer feast. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how much food they prepared. We spent about an hour there, and I made sure to watch my portions, which was super hard because the food was so good! 
     Our second house was with Solaine Master, a Haitian who is married to an Indian (actual Indian, not Native-American). She is someone we met at Friends of Rockaway (a non-profit company who repairs homes for those who need help and can’t afford it). Everything there was a perfect mix of both cultures, down to fish that were fried whole and covered in some sort of bread. Her husband (I believe his name is Michael, which makes since, because he’s really cool) is the head of a non-profit organization that has just secured several million dollars to develop the Rockaway’s.

     For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history of the Rockaway’s, apparently back in the mid-1900’s, New York was trying to clean up Manhattan. This meant that they had to get rid of everyone who was living on retirement, all the gangbangers, the drug problems, etc. So they took everyone that were at the center of this problem and shipped them out to the boardwalk in the Rockaway’s and left them there. A couple decades later–when New York was getting a little bit of heat over the situation–they built the largest public housing in the nation to accommodate them. So now, years later, a city is built off of those who needed help, but weren’t given anything. Michael Master–who is an expert urban planner–has been working to build up the area, to really change this area to something nice. I’m pretty pumped to see how it all turns out!
roastedpig29nov2016     Our third house was with the Clavines. They are a family from the Philippines who are just absolutely incredible! Actually, they had a WHOLE PIG for Thanksgiving. A PIG! Basically, it was pretty sweet. We found out that Brother Clavines and Sister Clavines served in the same mission in the Philippines. When he got home from his mission, he called her over a pay phone with the only money he had (enough to get him 3 minutes) and told her he would like to marry her in the temple. Right as soon as he asked her, his three minutes ran out and he wasn’t able to find a job until a month later to get the money to call her back. On the other end, when she heard him say this, she fasted for three days and she said that she felt good about it. So long story short, they got married. They assured us that during the mission, neither had thought about it. In fact, he was her Zone Leader at one point and was so annoyed with her, that he called their president and asked him to transfer her to the other side of the mission. She told us that he was ugly during the mission. Haha! Such a funny family! We had the greatest time and such amazing food. 🙂
     Our last house was with the Efigenios. Brother Efigenio is our Branch Mission Leader and is so incredible. First off, his humor is hilarious! And he has the greatest laugh. If he’s laughing, you’re laughing. Sister Efigenio had made some Horchata that was to die for. Because we were so full and we had Missionary Correlation Meeting with him the next day, he brought leftovers to that we had some incredible pasta and potato salad. missionarycorrelationfeast29nov2016

Getting Roughed Up
     It just wouldn’t be the Rockaways if I didn’t have a cool story from the week!
     Due to the car accident that we had been in, our knee had been hurting a bit and my back had been having some weird pain, so we called the mission nurse to see what was up. She wasn’t overly concerned when I told her what was going on, but suggested that just in case I should go to the Doctor. 
When we got to the Doctor, they spent forever trying to figure out my insurance and getting it all put in, which they never did get figured out, so we just ended up leaving.

     The highlight of the visit? Well, this guy came up to us and asked Elder Johnson for a dollar. We’re not supposed to give out money as missionaries (which is a pretty easy feat, due to the fact that we don’t really have any to give out #missionarybudgetfordays), so we explained that we were missionaries from our church and were volunteering our time, not getting paid. He seemed satisfied by Elder Johnson’s answer and came up to me. He asked me for a dollar and I explained I only had enough for the Doctor and that was it. He walked up to me and stood about a foot away from me and stared me down. He asked why I wouldn’t give him a dollar. I explained that we didn’t have any. He asked how I was paying for the Doctor. I replied that we had insurance. He didn’t like that and pointed to my name tag and broke in a bunch of street slang, saying that I didn’t deserve my name tag, because it had the name “Jesus Christ” on part of it and I wasn’t being like Christ. He shoved me a bit, took my name tag, and threw it on the ground. At this point, someone said something and he backed off for a second. I picked up my name tag and laughed it off a bit with Elder Johnson. The guy didn’t like that so he came back over and stood pretty close to me, staring me down. Finally, one of the higher ups in the doctor’s office came out and asked the man to leave. After about a minute of curt remarks from the gangster and firm requests for him to leave from the doctor, he finally left. 
     Again, I am so grateful for the protection from the Lord. Through it all, I didn’t feel the least bit angry, only a bit afraid, but still confident that everything would be alright. 

Orlando

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Elder Johnson, Clarence, Orlando, and Elder McConkie

So Orlando is just an amazing man. There’s not much to say beyond what I’ve already said. If there is one thing that just blows me away every time it’s his ability to feel and trust the Spirit. He doesn’t always pick up on what we’re talking about super-fast, or even sometimes at all, but we can always ask him how he feels about what we taught and he always says he feels good. It’s definitely not that Orlando isn’t bright, but for him this is a complete life shift, a complete change in his way of thinking. It amazes me every time how he is able to recognize and desire the Spirit. Right now, in preparation for baptism, he is working hard to quit smoking. We’re hoping and praying for him! Currently he is on date for December 11th.

 

Hope you all had a great week! It really is a blessing to be a part of this glorious work. Love y’all.

Sincerely,

Elder McConkie

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Lunch with Brother Young

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Elder McConkie and Elder Grande on a morning run.

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