I am a little late posting Elder McConkie’s letter from last week. So you will get two letters this week. As you can see, he has been pretty busy, too. 🙂
So it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve sent a weekly email. You see, the Bronx Zoo had a massive jailbreak by all its fauna and New York was overrun by lions and tigers and bears (you guessed it: “Oh my!”). You should have seen the New York snake population. It practically quadrupled over night! And might I add it’s a strange experience to wake up to find a Koala Bear snuggled up at the foot of your bed. So I guess you could imagine why it was hard to write this last week. It makes sense. Thanks for your understanding.
Wise Old Sages
One would think this heading would describe a gaggle of older men, white-bearded, wearing tunics or robes, imparting wisdom of the century. Actually, it refers to our very own Elder Jeppson (though one would think after 24 months as a missionary that he would have a full head of white hair–I mean, come on: he’s basically centuries older than me).
Elder Jeppson and I often have deep gospel conversations as we drive. This last week, I asked Elder Jeppson for his last bit of advice for me before he left. After he thought for a second, he said he’d say to “see others for who they are, not for who they aren’t.”
We talked about it for a minute and a thought came to mind: Christ sees us for who we are, and our weaknesses are who we aren’t. When Christ looks at me or any of us, instead of seeing our “natural man” who is “an enemy to God”, He sees us as children of God. Sons and Daughters of the Most High. And He asks us to see others the same way.
“I know it’s true…”
Lynne has grown to be one of my favorite people. She is so quiet, her quick-witted humor seems to come out of no where, making us laugh. She’s very well spoken and is incredibly kind to us and each person we’ve brought with us to her home.
These last couple weeks, we’ve visited a few times and even brought some of the young men with us to do some yard work for her and her husband. Each time, I’ve watched her faith grown brighter and brighter.
Yesterday, Elder Jeppson and I visited so Elder Jeppson could have his ‘parting’ lesson with her. We talked about her reading in Alma and shared countless scripture stories. We testified of the strength that comes from the gospel. I was touched by a couple things. First, as we went over her reading in Alma, there was a sweet feeling in the room. The Holy Spirit was present in abundance and in that moment, I had pure knowledge poured into me. I knew the Book of Mormon was true. As we flipped the pages, I felt the truthfulness of each verse we read. I knew Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and he is God’s revelator in this last-days. Lynne often speaks of “peace that passes all understanding.” Truly this moment passes all my understanding. I’ve often heard stories similar to this and I thought I understood. How sweet it is to receive such a testimony from the Spirit.
The second thing I was touched by was Lynne’s response to Elder Jeppson’s question “Do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?” She said she did, however she was having trouble with Joseph Smith and the America’s part of the Book of Mormon’s backstory. We asked, “Have you asked God if the Book of Mormon is true?” Her answer was no. We explained why a witness from the Spirit is so important, because in our own lives of discipleship, a witness from the Spirit is the key ingredient in a “conversion that passes all understanding.” She said she would ask.
My Spiritual Gift
Just a few days ago, a couple of the sisters asked us to give them a blessing before we started a new transfer. The first thing they said when they saw us was, “Elder McConkie, we think you’re spiritual gift is puns.” Well, there you have it folks.
Where did this come from? Well first, if you hang around me at all, you’re bound to hear a couple that would make your eyes roll. Second, every night we send out a text to the entire Zone that lists all the new investigators for the day. As a Zone, we usually average 5 or 6 a day. (As you might imagine, there’s a high turn over rate here in New York.) And I like to have a little fun with them. Here’s my favorite one (it’s from the 4th of July):
Hope the 4th turned out awesome for everyone! Let’s play a game tomorrow. It’s called find-the-next-area-70. The catch is this person doesn’t know that yet. 😉 #UncleSamuelTheLamaniteNeedsYOU
Hastening the Lord’s Work: a symbiotic relationship between members and missionaries
Brian’s MS is still progressing. He’s gone through several experimental treatments and is getting ready for another. This last Wednesday, we brought Brother Check to his lesson. Brother Check is incredible. In the beginning of the lesson, we asked him to share his conversion story. And it was powerful. We had the best lesson we’ve ever had with Brian. At the end of the lesson, we all knelt and we each offered a prayer. The Spirit was strong.
This last week, we’ve made a special focus to work with members in this work. Almost without fail, our most substantial lessons are with members. In this the most important work, in order for the Lord’s work to be hastened to its fullest, member and missionary alike need to “thrust in [their] sickle” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:4). From what I’ve seen here, if every single member were to take an active stance in this work, there would be so many “brought to a knowledge of…their Redeemer” (3 Nephi 16:4). And this work brings so much joy to those that engage in it!
Yesterday, we brought two of the young men out with us to teach a couple people. We arrived at our two appointments and they both rescheduled for that night. So we decided to look up a referral.
When we knocked the referral’s door, a woman answered the door and said she was on her deathbed. She told us that she had literally finished video calling her Mormon friend from England and they had prayed God would take her that day. We shared scriptures and testimony and testified to her of Christ. She said her friend had helped her become a believer in Christ. When we prayed with her and went our ways, there was some hope in her eyes. We left her a Book of Mormon and our phone number. We’ll drop by again later to check in on her.
However, Heavenly Father had another reason for our original appointments falling through. As we got in the car with the young men, we asked them what they thought. The first thing they said was, “It’s real.” The Spirit filled our car. And I can testify of the same thing. It’s real.
A dinner with friends
One of the last things we did this week was a dinner with Betsy and her kids, the Paynes, and the Mills. Each has had a profound impact on both of our missions. We have been blessed to serve as missionaries here.
I love being a missionary. This gospel brings real joy. My new companion is going to be a new Zone Leader. I’m excited for this next transfer. It’s gonna be fantastic!
Hope y’all have a great week!