Study, Learn, Ask

     Week 1 of the transfer is gone. Weird? Yeah. Out of the normal? Nah. Especially with Elder Jeppson, time has flown by. I remember a few months ago when I touched down in New York City, I was out with an older missionary to train me, and the first week in the field seemed to last an eternity. Don’t get me wrong, the first group was (overwhelming and) great. However, it was definitely a week where I questioned myself a little when I saw 2 years ahead of myself. Of course, I got into the swing of things and I started to enjoy the work. I’m sure that’s a common sentiment among anyone who has ever committed themselves to something for a length of time.
      In retrospect, I find it really interesting how much growth comes from just over a year as a missionary. We share something literally everyone needs, but few want and even fewer even recognize it as something they want. The Lord knows that; this is His work, after all. And he grows us as we do what He has asked, regardless of how we are received. That said, some of my fondest memories as a missionary have been those sweet moments where some has felt the sweet Spirit of the message we share and they let it into their hearts. Between these heart-warming times and the times that feel more like a refiner’s fire, the Lord has molded me when I let him. I’m so grateful for His patience with me. I know He loves us. I’m so grateful for the lost truths God restored through Joseph Smith–they add a special, personal tenderness to my understanding of my relationship with my Father in Heaven. This gospel is truer than I ever imagined. 
Plainview district May 2017
“Let your light so shine” (Matthew 5:16)
     Of course I’ll start off with Betsy. She has continued to grow brighter and brighter with the Spirit. She had a lot thrown in her face this last week, but it was incredible to see her faith strengthen her instead of the adversity trip her newfound faith. Yesterday during the testimony portion of sacrament meeting, she shared her story of her conversion. She testified that God is real, when only a few months ago she didn’t believe He was there. The Spirit was present and everyone in the room was edified. The Plainview Ward is a family ward, so of course there is noise from the younger kids. That said, the meeting seemed to be much quieter yesterday. I’d say it was because the Spirit was there quite noticeably; there was a special peace in that room.
RIP iPad
So my iPad didn’t actually die. Instead, it’s been shelved for two months. Why? The New York New York South Mission is a test mission for Samsung J3’s, or, in other words, smartphones. 
Elder Bednar and Elder Oaks are overseeing this test phase of using smartphones in missionary work. We get 5 gigabytes of data a month (a pretty decent amount). In a companionship, one Elder has the actual phone with a phone number and the data, while the other gets a smartphone that really just acts as a miniature tablet and works off of a hotspot from the first phone.
     So far, it’s been a really blessing. Before, we needed to find Wi-Fi to do much of our contacting. This meant we’d often spend around an hour in one place, contacting. NOW we can contact as we drive. Granted, we did have a basic phone before and we could already text. However, with access to Facebook, videos, pictures, etc. that we have in this mission, it will be really nice to be able to use it on the go. 
     We’ve also been able to pull up videos and pictures during lessons when the Spirit prompts a change in the lesson plan. Before, we had to make sure we downloaded the content we needed. 
     This technology is such a blessing. There are so many benefits. Like Elder Bednar has said, the Lord has brought forth this technological advancements at this time, first and foremost, for the hastening of His work.
A lesson on diligence
     Hard work is the name of the game as a missionary, so it’s not surprising how much diligence is brought up. Recently, I’ve been pondering a lot on this topic. I’ve done my best to characterize my service as a missionary by hard work. While I’ve been giving it my all, it was interesting to feel that I didn’t quite grasp the full meaning of diligence.
     So Thursday night rolls around and we run into Brother Rappleye. He’s the Lynbrook Stake Patriarch and has been described by President Reynolds as ‘the closest man to the veil he has ever met.’ I’d definitely agree. 
     We ran into him because he teaches Institute Thursday nights in Plainview at the church and we had a lesson at the church that same night. I asked him my question about diligence and he gave us an incredible answer. A large part of the answer centered around purpose and priorities. I’d like to write more about what he said, but I’m still digesting it. 
     I took the answer from Brother Rappleye as a cue to take some time in personal study to learn more about diligence. And wow, it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. 
Quakers and Mormons
     We are teach a lady who is a Quaker (hence the heading). She is also such an incredible woman that the Spirit fills her home. She’s probably about 70-years old, she has the sweetest personality, and she knows how to make someone feel important. 
She’s met with Sisters previously. In fact, Elder Jeppson met her when he was being trained here as a new missionary.
     One of her first comments to us in our first lesson with her was that she was afraid to pray to known if the Book of Mormon is true, because she was afraid God would tell her to be a Mormon. Of course, we laughed with her over that! She is fun. 🙂 We asked her to read the Book of Mormon some more and to pray over it. We gave her 3 Nephi 11 to read.
Saturday, we had our second lesson. Wow. She had read, analyzed, prayed, and had has been given answers by the Spirit. The Spirit was very strong during the lesson and we were all edified. 
     At the close of the lesson, she said that she’d been told by God to continue studying. She told us she tried to ask if it was true, but her answer was “You can’t drive without a license” or, in other words, “You need to study and learn more before you ask. Try it out.” She said she really wants to learn more. We’re going over again on Thursday; we’re praying her husband will be open to learning more.
     Best two years? I’d say that’s definitely what they are. I’m sure as life continues after the mission, it’ll change to “best two years for my life”. I’m enjoying the work, I’m loving what we do. 
     As a fun side note, it’s been funny to watch myself have little isms or sayings that my dad had all growing up that I’m starting to pick up. So I guess it’s true: like Father, like Son.
     Love you all! Hope the days treat you good–mine sure are! Remember, the Church is true and the Book is blue.
Elder McConkie

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