Monday, September 30, 2013

First week in the field...

Well, I entered the field on Tuesday morning. Got to ride the frontrunner from Provo to South Jordan. Got of the train with the rest of our group coming from the MTC (about 27) and the Mission President, his wife, and some of the other people working in the office were there to greet us and take us to the mission office. Mission office is located in Sandy, it is actually technically outside of our mission boundaries. So is the mission home. Anyway,so we went to the office and talked for awhile with the President and his counselors. Eventually we were split up into two groups, one group went into the chapel and talked about cars and finances and stuff like that. The other group split once again and half of them were interviewed by the president and the others were taken to the Draper temple to have some personal time and set some goals for themselves and stuff like that. I had actually been to this Temple a month or so ago. But it is so awesome because you can look out across the valley since it sits up on the hill and you can see the whole mission! As I stood next to the temple looking out at the place I would be serving for two years the wind was really strong at my back and it was almost like it was compelling me to get out there and start working. It was an awesome experience. So after visiting the temple and having interviews and eating breakfast and lunch we finally got to meet our companions.

My first companion is Elder Bennett. He is an awesome elder! He is an Edward Cullen looking guy. Like no joke. He's awesome though and we get along great. He is from North Carolina. So after we got our companions we left and set out to work. We dropped my stuff off at the house (We live in a member family's basement) and went to teach a lesson. Elder Bennett's last companion was Elder Nonne and it was his last day in the field so he came with us to the lesson. The girl we were teaching was scheduled to be baptized September 27th. We gave a short lesson on the Word of Wisdom and then went to the next lesson with a girl named Willow. We went with the Solomons who are the senior couple serving in the area. We watched a video on the Restoration and talked a little bit about that. Talked and met some other people the rest of the night. Had dinner at a members house. Next day there weren't any major lessons or anything, we had a district meeting though and Jasmine, the girl we taught the Word of Wisdom on Tuesday, was interviewed for her baptism. All went well. Thursday we had a zone meeting and we were asked to plan an event that would lead to us gaining five new investigators. Me and my comp have planned to have church tours this upcoming week. Hope it goes well.

Friday was Jasmines baptism. Elder or rather now Brother Nonne came back for it. He lives in Vegas. He even brought a date ha. It was an awesome baptism and was super spiritual. I have a lot more I could share about each day but I'm trying to keep it somewhat short and hit just the main points of each day. We did some yard work for an older man earlier that day as well. Saturday we visited a man we had tracted into on Friday named Maxwell. He comes from Ghana, Africa. We had a man call us Saturday morning asking us if we could give him a bible. We told him we didn't have one on us but we asked if we could come by and talk to him. His name is Jeff. We went by and found out missionaries had met with him around a year ago and he was close to getting baptized but he's been on probation so he hasn't been able to. He still doesn't have a testimony about Joseph Smith so we'll have to teach him some more but his probation deal is done sometime in November I believe. Oh on one of the days, I forget which, we went to go visit a woman named Morgan. When we went we met her father and found out he is a less active member but deep down he knows the truth. He and his wife are separated and they have young kids despite being a little older in age. He wants to come back to church and he wants his kids to be baptized. We went back and visited them with the Solomons on Saturday and figured out what we can do to help them. His youngest kids that he wants to get baptized stay with their mother most of the time. They stay with him for the summer but he has had some health problems and wasn't able to set anything up with us at that time. So now he only has them on the weekends and since both parents still have custody on them they can be baptized here. The mother is completely okay with them being baptized too. The father is a super awesome guy, hes been through a lot in his life though, and he just wants his family to come back together.

Later that night we taught a young woman named Neralyz. She speaks Spanish mostly so her step mother has to translate for us. Her family is trying to get her familiar with English or something like that so that's why we are teaching her, not the Spanish missionaries. So we had four lessons that day which was awesome!! Sunday was intense. Oh I totally forgot to tell you! I am serving in the Kearns East Stake! :) me and my companion cover three wards. It used the be the entire Stake but they just split it. We cover the 16th, 14th, and 3rd wards. The house we are living in is actually in West Valley. Just barely. So on Sunday we went to 16th ward for Sacrament and one class, then we went to 3rd wards Sacrament and one class (in the same building) then we went to 14th wards Sacrament and one class in a different building. So 6 hours of church... not bad! Had dinner with a family. Had fish again. I can handle fish, but I really don't like it much. When we got to 14th ward, they have sacrament last, the primary was singing and marching to called to serve. They saw us walk by and they asked us to lead them. So we marched and sang called to serve with them, it was awesome :)

So yeah its been an awesome first few days! Transferred into a baptism and a few more are on the way :) Hope everyone is having a good day and I hope you all have a wonderful week! The picture is from the baptism. The one not in missionary clothes is Elder Bennett's last companion. Oh yeah so we don't have a car in this area. Our mission doesn't have facebook or ipads or anything cool like that haha. We have a junky cell phone. Good enough for me. Also I'm reading the Book of Mormon in 12 weeks. Marking all the references to Jesus Christ, marking all of His spoken words and making a list of all the Names or Titles given to Him. I would challenge you to do the same if you feel up to it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In the field!

Joel entered the mission field on Tuesday of this week.  We are anxiously awaiting his first letter! Yesterday we received a nice letter from his mission president along with a few pictures.  That was a very fun surprise!  He was very complimentary about Joel and his willingness, worthiness and readiness to serve.  "He is well and in high spirits."  That did my heart good!  His companion is an Elder Bennett but he didn't tell us where they are serving.  We wondered about his first Sunday in the field today...what ward, how he liked it and just everything about being in the field.  We really can't wait for that letter!  The mission president sent along guidelines for all those of us who will be writing to Joel.  I am including it here as a refresher for myself and for anyone else who might need to read it.  
Family Letters: A weekly letter from home is vital to a missionary’s adjustment and provides incentive for him/her to write home weekly. The letters should be full of encouragement and the assurance of your love and support. Please do not share any word of problems at home because it can hinder missionary success.
Regular mail is important, but too much can hurt the work. Passionate letters from girlfriends or boyfriends are not appropriate.

If you email your missionary weekly it is to be a letter and not an opportunity for online chatting. A maximum of ninety minute internet usage is allowed for missionaries on preparation day to email family, friends, priesthood leaders and new converts, to view the two approved web sites and to read emails from friends and family.

Send all hard copy mail and/or packages to the mission office with your missionary’s full name above the mission name. The full name is important as there are many duplicate surnames. Please share this with others who may write to your missionary.
Elder John Doe/Sister Susan Smith
Utah Salt Lake City South Mission
8060 South 615 East
Sandy, Utah 84070

It is interesting to note that the mission home in Sandy is actually part of a Stake Center.  Thus the picture in the gym.  Here are the pictures sent from his mission president...President Chambers

Monday, September 23, 2013

Leaving the MTC tomorrow!

Well, I have a little more time today so hopefully I can dish out some more details for you. So we leave tomorrow morning at like 5.20 Arriving in South Jordan at 6. So the first week was amazing, as was the second. I have never learned so much in my life. I love it! We have taught "investigators". We have taught lessons to our teachers who fill in the role of investigators by using real investigators they taught to impersonate. That word looks weird to me right now... Impersonate. Anyways. So we taught them and then they also pay people to come do basically the same thing or using their own experience as a past investigator or something to role play for us. The one person who we were supposed to teach for four lessons that wasn't our teacher had something happen to his ankle so we only talked to him once and didn't really share anything about the gospel. Bummer. Nor did we do a good job with our teacher investigator. But we learned a lot so that's good. We went to main campus this last Thursday for infield orientation and I saw Austin (Olsen) in the cafeteria at dinner. Talked to him for a few minutes. That was cool. He was the only person I knew was there so I'm glad I found him haha. I talked to Brother Hacking who is the first counselor in the MTC presidency to see if the Ruses were still there but they had already left. Not sure if you or even I knew this before but I guess Brother Hacking is from our Lindon Ward. One of the teachers here is from Lindon too. We share an interest for the same type of tie too. His name is Nate Hainsworth. Wasn't my teacher but in the room next door. Lives on east side of Lindon. So yeah its pretty much the same thing every day. Either you are studying by yourself, with your comp, or as a district. All day long except for breakfast lunch and dinner. Some days there is gym too. Which consists of basketball hoops set up in the parking lot. Also a volleyball court. Got a haircut today. Haven't been to bed before 10.30 like at all the past two weeks. As Zone Leaders we would go around each night to the different rooms the Elders were in from our zone to say goodnight and we love them and such. So we didn't have much time at night.

New Elders and Sisters came in on Wednesday. All the ones that came into our zone are going to Independence Missouri. Food has always been pretty good. Nothing to complain about. Have to pack tonight. That's not going to be fun. West campus is so much different than main campus. So if you ever hear stuff about the MTC from someone who is on main campus, just know its nothing like what it is here. I've been to main campus twice and that alone has made me so grateful I'm on west campus. It just has a much nicer feel about it. Went to the temple last Monday and today. Oh and yes I realized I left my umbrella when it was raining last week. I'm glad we bought that coat before I left because it came in handy. I'll probably need you to send some more of my t shirts in awhile. I don't think I brought enough. Got a hug from the MTC President. Him and his wife just got back from like a four day thing with all the mission presidents in Utah and Elder L. Tom Perry. So they shared their excitement about us going to President Chambers. Most of our zone is going to SLCS. Only two sets of missionaries aren't.

I can never think of what I need to tell you when I'm actually writing you. So... yeah.... Oh yeah I remember now. So it feels like I've been here my whole life. Like I struggle to remember a time before now. I look at pictures of everyone, the kids, Amanda, etc. It's like I don't recognize anyone very well. The Elders and Sisters in my zone I feel like I've known them my whole life. Its such a weird feeling. I look at Timp (Mt. Timpanogos) every day and its not the same Timp I lived under for two months. I don't know. Tell everyone Hi for me. Well have a great week! I'll talk to you from
 SLCS I guess. -Elder McKinney

 Joel  next to his companion Elder Branen from Oregon

Monday, September 16, 2013

The first letter home!

Hey so... I have absolutely no time around here. I have so much to say, but no time to say it. So much has happened, I've learned so much! I'm on the west campus all day long. Haven't seen main campus other than when I got dropped off. I was assigned to be Zone leader on Thursday night. Assigned, not called. My companion is Elder Branen. He's from Oregon. We live and learn in the apartments in Wyview. Our zone/districts are awesome! Haven't seen Austin or the Ruses, they are both on main campus. Um, what else can I squeeze in right now? It's just a ton of learning. My knowledge has increased about 5 million percent, and that isn't a joke. West campus is way better than main campus. We are blessed. Food has been great. Had some fish, didn't realize it was fish when I grabbed it. Anyways haven't eaten anything crazy that you would think is unusual for me. Cooked a pizza with an iron. Rooming with Elder Werner and Elder Horn. they are the other Elders in our district and Elder Werner is the District leader. No time to send pictures, will later. It's limited on these computers anyways. I would write a real letter if I could, but like I said I have no time. Just know that this shortness in writing is a good thing. It means I'm doing what I'm supposed to. It's P-day but even still I have responsibilities. Anyways, love you! I leave next Tuesday morning. Sunday was great! Got a devotional from Ron Tanner, the 17 miracles Ron Tanner. Then watched a previous devotional by Elder Bednar on the Character of Christ. Amazing! Anyways, have a great week! I'll always try contact you but if I don't have much time again it might be short. I apologize. Love you!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's here! And he's off!

The day has arrived!  Joel finished his packing (after running to the store and buying another LARGE suitcase!) and cleaning up his room (aka leaving all his stuff for Mom to figure out what to do with).  His report time was 1:30.  We dropped David off to Kindergarten and made our way to Provo.  Ashley and Jacob were with us.  We had time to spare so we drove around Provo a little bit and then went on in to the MTC.  There were "Host" missionaries lined up and down the sidewalk.  They were all smiling and ready to help!  We got out, got Joel's luggage out, our host gave us a few minutes to take some pictures and say good bye, and then he was off!  Talk about drive thru drop off!  I handled it very well (reality still hasn't hit) and it's just so beautiful to see so many happy faces and know that your son is in good hands and is starting a wonderful adventure!  Good luck and goodbye messages are still pouring in.  We are so grateful for the outpouring of love that we have received. Joel will be a great missionary and we look forward to his first letters from the MTC!  Now, to go and make his bedroom into a guest room!  Gotta keep busy, right?  Farewell Elder McKinney...we love you!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's getting close!

Joel was set apart by our new stake president tonight.  His first missionary to set apart (President Jones was just put in on Sunday).  The Ruses (the people who own our house) were the last missionaries to be set apart by the outgoing stake president.  Kind of funny for us to think about.  It was a beautiful blessing and we are so excited for Joel to go forth and get started on this new chapter of his life!  The best two years!  We had a little get together so our family who live in the area could come say goodbye.  Our good neighbors the Guymons came over as well as the Gonzales' (who are practically family anyway!).  There were a lot of cousins running around and enjoying the cool weather and the treats.  Ashley had driven all day to be here from California and she hand delivered the cutest cookies from Cupcake Stef!  Priceless!  We loved having everyone here!  It was also little Carson's 5th birthday so we sang to him and promised to come to a party at his house on Saturday.  Jackson approved of the cupcakes I made (frosting all over his face!) There have been phone calls, text messages,  facebook messages, and cards, all wishing Joel well and telling him what a wonderful missionary he will be.  Thank you, thank you all our family and friends for your support!  Reality hasn't quite hit that he is really leaving now, but it will soon enough! Jacob and David have matching ties with Elder McKinney ~ too cute!