Today is Elder McConkie’s year mark. While I don’t like to count the time, a year mark is significant so I sent him a question: “As you approach your once year mark, what lessons stand out to you the most?” Here is his response:
What lessons stand out? That is a big question. I have SOOOO far to go.
1) I have learned the importance of choice. Things don’t just “work out.” That’s what happens (things working out) when God is involved, and unless I engage and exercise faith, I am not choosing to involve God. More often than not, things just don’t work out if we leave God out.
2) I need to act now. I’ve begun to see the importance of doing it and doing it NOW. So much more gets done.
3) I see the Gospel as MUCH more than I used to see it. Before, yeah, I believed in it. Did I understand really? Not that much. Maybe the real principle I have learned is a little bit more about the true nature of God. That often seems to be the disconnect. Faith can only be placed in correct principles and if I don’t know who to put it in, then chances are much less will come of it. So yeah, 3rd lesson that stands out is learning a little bit more about who God really is: he is our loving, guiding, strict, reproving, caring Heavenly Father.
4) I’m learning a little bit more about getting along with others.
5) I’ve learned a lot about how I handle stress and hard times and better ways to react.
Okay, so I’m not sure if there are some lessons that are more important that I just can’t think of now, but these seem to be a good start at least. 🙂
Elder McConkie was greeted in his new area with a huge snow storm and, of course, loved it! Here is the return of the weekly:
If y’all have seen on Facebook, I got transferred! Before I go into that, I have to say I am REALLY going to miss Far Rockaway. Actually, let’s omit “going to”. I really miss Far Rockaway. They really are my family. I love each and every person there. I don’t know how, but everyone there found a way into my heart. My favorite hymn to sing there was “The Day Dawn is Breaking”, with a minor change to the lyrics. Change the last line “Beautiful bright, millennial day” to “Beautiful Bright, Far Rockaway!” and you have yourself one of my all-time favorite hymns.
So, for the big change: Tuesday was transfers and half of our District was being transferred, including myself. That meant 4 new missionaries for Far Rockaway and a new area and companion for myself. However, before I went about finding my new Zone Leaders to tell me where I was going, I found Elder Parrish, one of our assistants and whom has the same love for Far Rockaway that I do. I had to give him a hard time about taking me out of Far Rockaway. We talked about that blessed area for a little bit and I could help but cry just a bit. When we finished our 30-second reminisce, he asked me if I wanted to know where I was going and when I said yes, he told me I was going to Plainview, one of the strongest wards in the mission. As it so happens, this was the same area he was trained in. He also told me my new companion was a really, really good missionary. So naturally, as much as I knew I was going to miss Far Rockaway, I was also pretty excited for where I was going.
Plainview is pretty much smack-dab in the middle of Long Island. About a year ago, the Huntington Branch was merged with the Plainview Ward, creating a MASSIVE area. Our area extends from the north shore of the island to the south shore. At it’s widest point, it’s probably about 45 minutes from East to West. So–in other words–it was pretty big change from the smaller Far Rockaway area. And let me just say, it is GORGEOUS out here. It’s been 6 months since I’ve been on the island (when I serve in the Hamptons) and I’m beginning to remember why I loved it out here so much. It is SO NICE to have trees and trees lining the highways. It’s much more rural, which is much more similar to my Saratoga Springs, Utah upbringing. We live about 10 minutes from the church, which just so happens to be the Stake Center. On average, we have 170-200 active members and around 800 less active/inactive members.
My first night here was probably one of the most iconic moments so far. A member from the ward called us and asked if we could give her a blessing. Naturally, we said ‘yes.’ We got ahold of one of her home teachers and asked if he would come along with us, which he agreed to. When we got inside, this sister–Sister Pinelli–saw “Elder McConkie” on my name tag and asked me if I was related to the McConkie’s. It’s pretty common for people to ask me if my lines trace back to Bruce R. McConkie, so I gave my normal, “Kind of. He’s my great-grandpa’s cousin.” She looked a little confused and said, “No. April McConkie.” I was pretty surprised to hear my aunt’s name and when I told her that I was indeed related to April McConkie and that she was my aunt, Sister Pinelli was so excited she could hardly contain it. Apparently, she has been close friends with my dad’s family since childhood! What a small world! 😀 I was pretty blown away; it’s pretty cool to have someone like family in the ward. Of course we took a couple pictures, hence the post some of you saw on Facebook.
We have some pretty cool people we are working with. First off, a mother and son: They are the dynamic duo. They live together and are recent converts of about 8 months. Frances is in her upper 60’s and Bruce is in his 30’s. He has a high functioning mental handicap. And they are great. I am really looking forward to our visits with them! I’ll be writing more about them in future emails, but I figured I would give them an introduction.
Two of the people we are working with are incredibly nice people and it’s been really fun to get to know them. They are a couple who just moved up here from down south and are just really down to earth. They’ve been progressing pretty well, we’re just working on getting them married. We’ve also felt that there are more questions underneath the surface than they are asking. We’ve been pondering and praying over ways we can help them; it’s situations like this that increases my gratefulness for the Spirit. We’re excited and hoping things work out well!
Fun story: this weekend was Stake Conference. And guess what? I’m in the same stake as the Hamptons!!! Which means, I got to see a bunch of the members from that blessed area! It was so good to see everyone and talk with them for just a few minutes. Additionally, I got to meet many of the members from the Plainview Ward (the ward I am serving in). Everyone is incredible. They all have pretty unique and inspiring back stories. I am really going to like it here.
Finally, this is a really incredible District! No distractions, no lollygagging, just joy in the work. Everyone is really, really focused. And THAT makes for an incredible time. Elder Snell (my new companion) is a really, really hard worker. Most of our day is go, go, go. Elder Casares is from Belgium and is fluent in 3 languages and partially fluent in a couple others. He is INCREDIBLE. His ability in meetings, wherever with whomever, is pretty amazing. He has a mind for logistics that I admire. Elder Afoa is straight from Samoa. He is working hard to learn English and is a really good guy. Also, we have the Sister Training Leaders in our District, one of which I served with in the MTC.
I had a thought this week while we teaching a lesson. We were reading 2 Nephi 31:20 and a different way to see the verse sorta popped out at me.
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
I love the part where it says “having a perfect brightness of hope” and “a love of God.” Normally, when I read through these verses, I see these two things as necessary items to have in my inventory in order to survive the trek on the strait and narrow path. And that’s true.
An additional perspective I gained came as I pondered over the word “hope”. Over the past year, as I’ve tried to make this gospel concept less abstract, I’ve come to the conclusion that at least a portion of hope is an abiding trust in God. In addition to that, I love the imagery hope gives. It provides destination, determination, maybe a bit of warmth, and at the very least, a light at the end of a dark tunnel. 2 Nephi 31 is all about outlining the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I find it very appropriate that the whole discourse leads to “a perfect brightness of hope” and “a love of God.” The gospel is just that. It provides real hope.
We’ve been commanded to press forward with hope and with love for God and men and at the same time, the blessings of embarking on such a journey are those very two same things. I’ve personally seen that when I am consecrated and devoted, hope abounds and I feel the love of God deep in my soul. I’ve also discovered that there will be times when things are tough and I can hardly feel anything. Those are the times when I especially need to “press forward with steadfastness in Christ” with hope and love of God, because eventually, I will see the light at the end of the tunnel and I will feel the love of God so powerfully, I will know that this will all have been worth it.
I’ll be hitting my year mark this week, so I’m almost past all my “firsts” and I’m starting my “lasts”. Little weird. I’ve definitely seen a change in myself over the last short while. I think I’m starting to get why people talk about their missions so much.
It’s great to be serving here in Plainview! I hope everyone had a great week!