Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas round two!

I can't believe Christmas has already come and gone. We got a white Christmas, and have had white days ever since. It hasn't stopped snowing since Christmas, it has only slowed down really here and there. Everything is white now. We've probably gotten 3-6 inches of snow. I have no idea how to properly measure, so that's just my guess. I have no idea what it actually is. All I do know is that coming from California this is a lot more than I'd like ha. Driving is a little sketchy, but I'm having my companion drive so we have a better chance of not getting in an accident. We had two dinners on Christmas Eve. One with one of our bishops and the other with a member of the stake presidency. Then on Christmas we had two breakfasts and a dinner. I got to skype with the family on Thursday. I got to talk with everyone except for Clark and the nephews so that was cool. I was only expecting my parents and possibly my sister so that was a surprise. I only have one more to go. It's crazy to think that I will be home for next Christmas. Only a little over 8 months left. Time is going way too fast. I forgot to mention last week that we taught one of the relief society classes. That's always super awkward, but whatever, the spirit was there. This area is also a very young area, so there are a lot of little kids all over. Sacrament is never quiet, but I love it :) Michael was baptized on Saturday. It was a really powerful baptism. The spirit was very strong and it was cool to see the support of the ward and friends. Elder Tyler came back to give a talk and Elder Koo came with him because they couldn't find a split so it was cool to see him again. The bishop baptized Michael and another man in the ward confirmed him in Sacrament the next day. Ellie hasn't come to church yet still so things are looking a little shaky with her right now. She was apparently sick, but she hasn't come for a few weeks now. We also went by a man whose wife is a member and is the daughter of one of our bishops. The whole family including the bishop was over for Sunday night dinner and we were able to share a message and ask him to pray about if God is real and we will be following up with him on Tuesday. We are excited for that. He's been taught before by missionaries, but eventually his time will come. We just hope it is now ha. The pictures are from Michael's baptism and the view from our stake center before the snow came. (the other two pictures were sent to my mom from people we met with and ate with on Christmas day). Hope you all had a merry Christmas!! I know I did. Have a great week and a Happy New Year!! :) Love you all!

Elder McKinney

Monday, December 22, 2014


This week was transfers, and I was finally transferred. I am now in the Herriman South Stake. I am almost as close to my parents now as I possibly can be while still being in the mission boundaries. My new companion is Elder Stanley. He is from Tennessee and has been out for about five and a half months. He is 18. His last companion and I just switched places. Elder Tyler is the one who took my place with Elder Koo. I am still a district leader. I now have four sisters and two elders in my district. I am really going to miss the Sandy Crescent Stake and all the wonderful people there. It is not easy to leave after being there for six months. I know I am here for a reason though. We have two investigators right now. One's name is Mike and he is getting baptized this next Sunday. He is probably in his late 30's and is married. He has made some serious progress the past couple months! He has had to overcome many addictions and is developing a belief in Jesus Christ and in Heavenly Father. He truly is a new man compared to where he was. The other investigator is a nine year old girl named Ellie. She will be getting baptized in January. She wasn't able to make it to church yesterday so it will most likely be on the 17th. We have a car, it's a Chevy Cruz this time which I am happy about. It's one of the better cars in the mission. A car is a car though so anything is better than nothing. We live in a members basement. They are almost always gone though so I haven't met them. It's a nice apartment. We have a pool table, an air hockey table, a pinball machine, and a ping pong table. I am content. Our area is up on the mountain side again so I still have a great view of the valley. I can see all the temples in the valley at once. I love it! It still hasn't snowed much so I am really happy about that. I'm glad I'm getting some of the milder winters on my mission when I have to be out in it all day every day. I am still trying to get used to west side addresses again. I have to remember that the numbers get bigger going to the West now instead of the East. We had a cool Christmas devotional with President Chambers on Friday. It's a longer drive from Herriman so we were gone most of the afternoon. I saw President and Sister Bishop there and it was hard to tell them that I had been transferred. They are in our mission presidency and lived in the Crescent Stake. I got to know them well. So that's kind of the news this week. I feel like I won't be here in Herriman very long, or at least in this area. I don't know why. This will also be an eight week transfer to make up for our four week transfer last time. Which means I will be here until the beginning of February. I get to call home this week. I am excited about that. It's crazy to think that I will be home for next Christmas though and that I will only have one more call after this. Anyways, things are going well! I am excited to be here yet sad to leave my old stake. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder McKinney
One last picture from Sandy

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another great week!

This week was great! We found a new investigator. Last Sunday Elder Koo and I were fasting that we would find someone to teach. During Sunday School of the 9am block the mother of a family in that ward was there. She is in town to help the family while the wife's husband is going through some health issues. She lives in Arizona normally. Anyways she was at church and her daughter and her daughter's family all got up and bore their testimonies in Sacrament meeting and it was a super spiritual experience. It was also the dad's first time back at church since he had some of these problems. We went to a gospel principles class with her and the ward mission leader. The ward mission leader talked about the Book of Mormon and what it is and then invited her to meet with us. She accepted. She has met with missionaries in the past but it has been awhile. So while she is in town here we are teaching her. We have taught her twice so far and she initially said yes to baptism when we invited her, but she wants to learn more first and really know that this is the true church. She is doing good though and we were really grateful to that quick answer to our fasting and praying. We haven't been able to meet with Hernalen for a long time because she has been so busy with school and work. She should be finishing with finals this week though so we might meet with her later on this week or next week. Other than that we are still looking for people to teach. We had a few Christmas parties in some of the wards. Things have been going really well and I don't want to leave this stake. Transfers are this week and I don't know what is going to happen. Everyone here thinks I am leaving. In fact I even had one man come up and give me kind of a departing gift. I don't know why everyone thinks I'm leaving. Just because I have been here for six months doesn't mean I am automatically being transferred. I had one companion who was in his area for a year, you never know what will happen. I hope I stay though, at least one more transfer. I would love to be here for Christmas. I will go wherever I need to though. Things are going well. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all! -Elder McKinney

The picture is overlooking the area...and the valley. The last picture was sent to Mom's email from Linda Hunt with this note: We think Elder McKinney is such a great missionary. My husband is the Stake President. We feel so blessed to have had Elder McKinney and Elder Koo for three months. My husband says they are the best missionaries we've had in years. I've also had a couple of piano lessons with your son. I love the fact that he wants to learn. I gave him the simplified hymns book to work on his piano skills. I have a son who's been out five months in Austria. I understand how moms loved to get updates on their sons. Have a great day!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Another missionary week...

Well, as surprising as it may be, transfers are already coming around the corner. Four weeks does not last long. This week Elder Koo got to go to another area to teach a Chinese boy that another set of Elders were teaching. I stayed and worked in the area. I also got to go to the mission leadership council this week. Normally it is a meeting only for zone leaders and sister training leaders, but because of the short transfer and no time for district leader training they invited all the district leaders. That is the longest meeting I have ever been in. It went from 9-4. I was exhausted! It was good though. We are losing more missionaries going home than those we are getting coming in. We had a high of 265 missionaries, but we are down to 231 right now. We will continue to lose some over the next few transfers. In order to compensate for that we will be going from 12 zones to 10 and most of the missionaries will be covering an entire stake and maybe a few covering more than one. We will see what happens to Elder Koo and myself. Things are going well and I have been really blessed with nice weather the past couple weeks. It is December and there has hardly been any snow on the ground and it has been in the 50's for the most part. I love it! I can live with this. We were able to help a man who we have been working with in his yard a little bit. I was glad to be able to do some service. We also helped one of our Bishop's wife with her Christmas cards. Thank you for all you do for me! Love you all! Have a great week! -Elder McKinney Sorry for short emails yet again. We are still down one computer in the library and another Elder still needs to email. Thank you for everything! Love you!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A surprise email...

The elders visited primary today. Your son is loved very much in our ward.  He's such a great young man. Funny thing:  Elder McKinney entered the MTC the same day as our son. Your son is serving in our ward, and my son is serving in your ward in Clovis. He's been in that area several months. Every time I see Elder McKinney, I picture my son doing what he is doing. Crazy, huh? Sister Abbinanti
We received this email yesterday (Sunday, Nov 30th). What a wonderful treat! Both to hear how much Elder McKinney is loved and to see a picture of his smiling face! Very cool that this sister's son is serving in our Clovis ward! Love getting random emails from total strangers! Always makes our day!

Thanksgiving! December!?

I have been fasting ever since Thanksgiving dinner. Ha not really but I probably should have after all of that food! Thanksgiving was wonderful! We had been scheduled to eat dinner with a family in the stake named the Afflecks. A day or two before Thanksgiving however we were tracting or door contacting down this one street in one of our wards. We knocked on one door and a woman answered. She told us that she was a part of another church and wasn't interested in our message. We said a few more words and then moved on. A few houses later we turned around after no one answered and we saw this lady walking up to us. She said something along the lines of "it looks like you are from out of state and so we wanted to invite you to Thanksgiving dinner" We were excited, we got invited to dinner by someone who wasn't a member of the church, for Thanksgiving no less! So we went and had dinner with them. They are a nice Christian family with a son and his wife living at home. The son has two little boys. They also had the father of the wife over for dinner as well. So there were seven adults and two kids. It was really neat and we had a good time. We are going to go back and share a video that I will be talking about shortly. So after having that dinner we still went over to the Afflecks and had dinner with them. They were back to back. I have never been so full in my life. Both dinners had plenty of food and it was all delicious. We spent the rest of the day just visiting members and trying to get referrals. We were told not to tract so there wasn't much else we could do. So that was thanksgiving. Other things we got to do this week was we went and helped another woman who isn't a member of the church put up Christmas lights. It was fun, I haven't put up Christmas lights in a long time. We also got to help a family in one of our wards decorate their Christmas tree, so it has been a fun week. We were also able to teach Hernalen a few times which was wonderful. She is ready to be baptized. She knows basically everything she needs to at this point and she is willing. We are still waiting to hear from the father. The family she lives with sent a package of dvds about the church and a letter a few weeks ago. It should get there in the Philippines sometime soon. We look forward to good things. The transfer is already half over, I can't believe it. Four weeks goes by quick! I can't believe it is December either! We had amazing weather this week so it doesn't feel like it's time for December yet. No snow on the ground because it all melted since the last time. We will see what this week brings. Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! I'm excited for this Christmas season. There is also a video for the Christmas season called "He is the Gift" it is a short 3 minute video about how Christ is the first gift of Christmas. I invite you all to watch it because it is a really great video that brings a great spirit. It can be found Have a great week everyone! Love, Elder McKinney
 Pday and Elder McKinney's district...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Transfers, Snow and Selfies!

The verdict is........ Elder Koo and I are staying together! I thought most likely one of us would leave, I have never had a companion for longer than two transfers. Not anymore though! This transfer will be shorter though, four weeks long instead of six. I think because of the holidays. That means the next one will probably be 8 weeks long to make up for it. We are excited to still be together. We both love this stake and we work well together. The work was unusually slow this week however, so we are kind of bummed about that, but we know that we need to keep working hard and we will find more people. We moved into Pepperwood on Wednesday. We have one of the nicest apartments in the mission now. We have a full kitchen, a bathroom, and our own washer and dryer. I'm most excited for the kitchen, now I can buy the good food! We will miss the Martins though, who we were living with before. We are now with the McHenrys. They have been very kind to us and let us move in even though they have a lot going on right now. They also have supplied us with a lot of things they didn't need to. We also had some more snow this week. It stuck this time. I've never driven in snow before... we're alive though so I think we will be good. Other changes in our district this transfer is Elder Walker has a new companion. His name is Elder Alpin. I have been with Elder Alpin in a few zones before so I know him. He is coming from my old area, the Midvalley stake. Elder Austin, Elder Walker's last companion, is taking his spot in the Midvalley stake. He will do good there. We also have both zone leaders in our district now. We only had one the past few transfers. It will be a good transfer. I'm glad that I don't have anyone that I need to worry about. They are all good missionaries and will see a lot of success. Thanksgiving is this week. We have had more offers for us to come to people's homes than I think I can count. People have even started to offer for Christmas as well. It's crazy. Transfers will happen about the week before Christmas, so Elder Koo and I don't know if we will even be here. We are excited for Thanksgiving, it will be Elder Koo's first one. They obviously don't have that in China or Korea. We have already been getting a lot of food from members, but I feel we will have an overflowing fridge this next week after the holiday. Things are going well, we are just trying to find more work. Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving!!!! Love you all!

 -Elder McKinney

 Elders Koo, Walker, Alpin and McKinney (with a beanie!)
Elders Koo, Austin, Walker, and McKinney

Monday, November 17, 2014


Got our first real snow this week. Most of it has melted though. Temperature dropped really quickly. It's been in the 20's the past couple days. Had to start bundling up. Got out the coat, gloves, scarf, beanie, and long sleeves. Other than that it has been a pretty normal week. We went out and tried to find people to teach. Tracting in the cold is not the most fun thing to do, but that is alright. We tracted into two families that seem like really good potentials so we are excited for that. One of them speaks Chinese so Elder Koo will be the one doing everything there. We are still waiting to hear from Hernalens father. We got a call too that we will be moving into Pepperwood on transfer day which is this Wednesday. Which then means that I am not sure if I will ever live there or not. Whether I'm being transferred or not I guess I need to still pack up... that is kind of depressing. I've got a lot of stuff to pack. Oh well. Things are going well though, having a good time and enjoying being on a mission. Hope you all have a great week!

-Elder McKinney

And in Mom's letter: I've been having my stake president's wife teach me how to play the piano a little bit. I haven't really had much time for practice, but I think I've learned enough that I could teach myself if I had time. I've got most of Nearer My God to Thee down. No idea what will happen with transfers, I'll have someone let you know though. Hope you have a great week! Love you!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Driving lessons...

This week was great! The weather has been nice so far. Supposed to start getting colder now though. I have realized this week how much I really love this stake. Elder Baclawski is back in his own stake now with another companion. He is with Elder Pugh. It is Elder Pugh's first transfer, he has been out for about 5 weeks now. So Elder Koo and I have been by ourselves since Tuesday. It has been kind of nice to only have to worry about one stake again, but it was still fun to have him with us. We might be moving soon into the Pepperwood area. There is a family that is willing to house us but it needs to be approved by the mission first so we will see if it works out. I just hope that if we do move we get a sticker for the gate. Normally when we go into pepperwood we stop for the guards. All of them are really cool with us and they stopped asking where we are going and just open the gate for us. But it would be nice to go through the residence side where it opens automatically for all the cars with stickers. Oh well, its cool to talk to them still so I won't mind either way. Elder Koo doesn't know how to drive because they need to be 19 in China to drive. Now that he is here though he can get his license. So I took him to a church parking lot and started to teach him how to drive. It was quite fun actually. He did very well for his first time driving. I'll let him practice a few more times and then he can go get his permit and start driving during they day as long as I'm in the car with him. Then eventually he can get his license so that will be good. The mission actually encourages the missionaries to get licenses if they don't already have one. Things have been going good though overall. Hernalen wants to get baptized, but in her culture (she is from the Philippines) they don't make any big choices like this without the consent of the parents. So she is waiting for her dad to give consent. The mother is already on board. It is hard though because they live back in the Philippines and he is gone a lot for work. Other than that though she is ready to be baptized. She is the only one we are teaching right now unfortunately but we will find some more this week :) We went to the baptism of an eight year old this last Saturday. It was the sister of Ryan B. who was baptized in July right before Elder Williams left. She turned eight last month and so she was baptized :) We also got to have a companion study with President and Sister Bishop on Saturday morning. He is the first counselor in the mission presidency and he lives in our area. They've been saying ever since I've been here that they've wanted to do one, but we finally had one haha. It was really cool and we learned some different ways to try to find service here in the area. Things are going well. Thank you for all that you do for me, I really appreciate it. Love you all and hope you have a great week!

-Elder McKinney

A picture sent to mom from a member

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Snow...

Unfortunately, it is true. This morning when we got up for workout there was snow on the car. Yesterday it had snowed on half of the mountain. It has begun, and I want it to end. Oh well, life goes on. This week was good though! Still in a threesome and still covering two stakes. Fun stuff. I'm glad though because the stake that we are covering that was not originally our own has not seen a lot of work for the past seven or so months and now we found someone to teach and they are on date to be baptized this month! We are excited for that. Her name is Mary C. Hernalen is doing well and is ready to be baptized, but she wants her father to approve it first. Her parents live in the Philippines. Those are the only investigators we have right now. Malia is doing well since her baptism. We had stake conference this weekend in our stake. The Saturday night session was all about the life of Christ and the Sunday session was about the hastening of the work of salvation. It was all really wonderful and lots of great talks! I went on an exchange with one of the sets of Elders in our district. I went with Elder Austin. He is really great and we are actually a lot alike so it was great to be with him for a full 24 hours. I love being in my stake though :) I've loved every stake I've served in. Our mission president came up with what we call our core beliefs. They are five beliefs that we are trying to make a part of ourselves. He also gave us another study guide that goes along with those core beliefs so I am really excited for that! I've already started studying it and it is wonderful! Here are our core beliefs:

1. I will learn, love, live, and teach the doctrine of Christ. I am called to the work of the harvest. Bringing souls to Christ and to the blessings of the Atonement will be my passion.

2. I will be a preach my gospel missionary(the manual that teaches us how to be missionaries) and be exactly obedient to the missionary handbook (our rules basically)

3. I will fear no man. As the Lord's representative and in doing His work I will boldly go forth and open my mouth to share the gospel with everyone.

4. I will strive daily through scripture study, prayer, and personal righteousness for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I will courageously follow His direction.

5. I will let the Sacrament change me each week as I use it to access the Atonement and to renew my covenants with the Lord. Our belief is that we will be successful as we do that. Successful in fulfilling our purpose as missionaries as well as successful in changing ourselves along the way.

I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

-Elder McKinney

Elder Baclawski and Elder McKinney in front, Elder Walker (from Clovis!), Elder Austin and Elder Koo in the back
Note from the editor: Prayers are answered and Elder McKinney found his camera!  It was in a box of supplies...  YAY!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween...a BRIEF note to the Mom

Got the box, thanks! Last halloween we got to go to the temple, but this time we are just having a zone meeting after dinner until the end of the night. Send my bike back as soon as you can, you're probably right that I won't need it, but just to be safe. There have been a few times the past couple weeks I could have used it. So... I think I lost my camera. Well, I lost my camera. I don't know where it is or where it could be. I've tried looking everywhere I would have taken it. So.... yeah. I'll continue to look, but my hopes aren't too high. Anyways, I can't think of too much else. Thank you again for the package. Love you!

-Elder McKinney


This week.... was wonderful :) Malia was baptized!! It was a super spiritual baptism and she was basically in tears the whole time. You could tell it meant a lot to her. She is only 12 years old. Both her parents attended the baptism and the confirmation the next day in sacrament meeting. Neither of them have come for many years. Now, you are probably also wondering why there are three of us in that picture. I will tell you. We are now a trio companionship. Elder Baclawski has been in our district ever since I have been here. He has served in the stake west of ours for about 6 months now. There were a few emergency transfers this last wednesday and his companion got transferred to another area and there was no one to take his place. So he is with us and we are covering both stakes. As if 7 wards wasn't enough haha. Its good though, being a district leader it gives me a better opportunity to work with him more than a few times here and there. I get to be with him all day everyday now and see how he works. So that's really the big change this week. It should only be this way until the end of the transfer. When I was first on my mission I lived with another set of Elders so this brings back a few memories :) Its a little more crammed in our apartment though and we don't have as long in the morning to get ready since we have to share the bathroom with three now instead of two. So Malia got baptized and Hernalen right now is still on for the 18th of November. She is our only other investigator really right now, but we will be finding more this week. So that's what's going on. Things are going well and I am happy :) Hope you all have a great week and know that you are loved.

-Elder McKinney

Monday, October 20, 2014

Time Flies...

I can't believe how fast time is flying. Elder Koo has already been out for two months. Malia did not get baptized this last week. She passed her interview but her granpda couldn't do it this weekend. We are unsure whether he can baptize her, his reason for not being able to make it was he was going dirt biking with friends. We are going to try to see what we can find out this week and make sure it happens this weekend. Hernalen is also on date for the 18th of November. I actually haven't met her yet. Every time we teach it is when I am on exchanges in another area. Things are going good though and we are excited to find more miracles in this area. I've been here for about four and a half months now. Longer than I have been in any area before. We had our zone conference this week which was fantastic! I can't remember what we talked about... but I have it all in my notes! haha. I also had a district leader training the next day with all the other district leaders. Those are my favorite meetings :) probably just because we talk about doctrine a lot of the time. This time we talked about the oath and covenant of the priesthood. We also talked about a lot of the disobedience going on in the mission and missionaries that struggle with things such as why we set goals. In other news in the district Elder Alder was transferred to Kearns to be a district leader. Elder Walker is now with Elder Austin who was serving in Africa until he got sent here because of the Ebola situation. I went on exchanges with my zone leaders on Friday and got to see a few people from my last area. It was really weird. One of them was the ward mission leader for the Samoan ward and one was the old ward mission leader for another ward, he was released right before I got transferred. Things are going well and I am excited to be here in this area! I think one of the few things I am looking forward to when I get back, is to only go to three hours of church again. Elder Koo and I were in some sort of church meeting from 7am to 4pm yesterday, and it was exhausting. Well I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

 -Elder McKinney

Monday, October 13, 2014

Short letter!

Transfers!!! Nothing happened. Elder Koo and I are staying together :) There was only one change in the district so nothing too big. We have zone conference this week so I am excited for that! I'm trying to think what happened this week.. this could be a really short letter. Elder Evans of the Seventy lives in our stake and we got to meet him this Sunday. We went to the Sacrament meeting that he was in and we bore our testimonies and he came and talked to us for a few seconds afterward. He was actually one of the speakers for the devotionals when Elder Koo was at the MTC so it was cool for him to find out he lived in our area. We also had dinner with someone who used to be a Seventy. We shared a message with him about fasting and at the end he shared Alma 45:1 and talked about how fasting can be a way we can worship and praise our Heavenly Father and give thanks for our blessings. I had never thought about that before. Okay so this is really short... I feel bad. Cat is doing well. She went to the YSA for the first time yesterday. She also met with Bishop about getting her patriarchal blessing. We haven't heard how that went yet. Malia should be getting baptized this Friday or Saturday so we are excited for that! Our only other investigator is Hernalen, we have had trouble getting a hold of her though because she is busy with school and work. So that's the update on the area. Hope all goes well for you. Love you all!

 -Elder McKinney

(the editor dislikes days like this when the letters are super short!  Especially after waiting all morning for the letter to come!)

On the other hand, we are happy that he is busy and happy!  So I made this picture to make myself feel better!

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference

This weekend was General Conference and it was amazing! I learned so much and the spirit was very strong. I love being able to hear from the prophet and from the apostles. I was actually able to attend the Priesthood session. I got a ticket from the mission the day before the session. It was really cool to be able to go to the conference center and see all these people in person! I went with a group of missionaries probably about 20 big. We got to sit pretty close too! Unfortunately I didn't get to meet anyone, but I got to sit behind the MTC mission presidency. They were there because the choir was made up of Elders from the MTC. I missed the second session on Saturday though because we had to go early. I'm excited to go back and read them once they come out. We got to watch the movie Meet the Mormons this week! We got together as a mission and watched it. It comes out on October 10th. It was really amazing! I encourage all of you to watch it when it comes out, because it is really inspiring and the spirit is very strong. It is simply a movie that shows the lives of 6 individuals or families and their journeys through life as members of the church. It's not to make money for the church because all of the proceeds go to charity and it doesn't push any beliefs on anyone or anything like that. It was very well done and even very funny. There is one man in it that is a bishop in Florida or Alabama or something and we actually saw him at conference! It was really funny, we just saw him on the trax. We realized we were probably the only ones who recognized him though because we are the only ones to have seen the movie before it comes to theaters. Anyways, it has been a great week and everything has gone well. Cat is doing great and is working on getting her patriarchal blessing. We also started teaching a woman from the Philippines. She moved in with a family in one of our wards and was previously being taught by missionaries in downtown Salt Lake City. She will get baptized, it is just a matter of when, she doesn't quite feel ready yet, but she knows its what she wants. Malia is doing well but the mom kind of keeps pushing her baptism back, so we are working on that. Transfers are this week and I have no idea what is going to happen. I guess I'll let you know next week :) I hope you have a great week! Love you all!

-Elder McKinney

Monday, September 29, 2014

Slow Week...

Things this week were really slow. We didn't teach at all. We started teaching active members a set of three lessons that our stake president and us came up with that we believe with strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and in His Doctrine and Atonement and in the Hastening of the Work. We started teaching that this week to a few families and will continue to do so until we have taught all the members :) We are going to keep working hard though and we expect to see an increase of work in the next couple of weeks. I am excited! Transfers are coming up on the 8th. I don't know where this transfer went. It's gone though. I'd like to share an experience we had the other day with all of you. We were out working on Saturday night and we came to a point where we didn't know what to do. All of our appointments had canceled and it was about 8:00pm. We said a prayer that we would be led to those who needed us at that time. We sat there for a few minutes and listened. Then a car pulled up behind us (we were stopped in the middle of the entrance to the church parking lot on our way out when we prayed so we were still there as we were pondering) so I began to drive so I could get out of their way. I was now driving with no idea of where to go. I could think of plenty of places to go but I wasn't sure where we "needed" to go. We decided to try a family that had previously invited a friend to meet with us but who ended up meeting with the missionaries in another place. We stopped by and talked with them for a few minutes and then ended up leaving and going to another family before going home. The night ended without anything major happening. The next day however Elder Koo and I were in different wards to try to cover more ground. I saw the wife of the family there and she stopped me and told me she knew why we were there last night. She said her husband needed a blessing and asked if we could come and give him one. Of course I said we would. It was really cool though to see that we had been led to someone who needed us at that time after we said that prayer. We weren't able to give the blessing until the next day, but if we hadn't gone that night we might not have ever given it. I know Heavenly Father answers prayers, both the ones who are seeking to help, and those who are in need of help. Thank you for all your prayers for me. I really do appreciate it. Love you all! Have a great week!

 -Elder McKinney

(we waited a long time for the email to arrive today, almost 3 hours later than normal!  How many times can you hit refresh on your computer?)

Monday, September 22, 2014


Well, Cat was baptized!!! It was the craziest week trying to make it all work. She had an interview Monday night, but she didn't pass. So we tried to meet with her on Tuesday to help resolve concerns but she had to cancel. Wednesday I was on exchanges with another Elder in my district and we were able to meet with Cat that night and we helped her resolve her concerns and we felt she was pretty solid for baptism so we set up an interview for Thursday. (note: we normally try to have interviews a week before the baptism for exactly these reasons, to make sure they are ready for baptism) we wanted to meet before the interview though and make sure she was clear on some things. While we were meeting she felt overwhelmed and started crying saying that she was disappointed in us. She felt like she was ready and felt that we thought that she wasn't. So she went home that night without being interviewed and as far as we knew she wasn't getting baptized. I felt like she was ready though and that we should still try to make it happen. So we asked if we could meet on Friday to talk to her about making it work still, and she agreed. She ended up feeling sick that night though so she couldn't meet. It is now Friday night and we were going to try to have an interview that night so she could be baptized the next day, but she couldn't do it. We wondered if we could have the interview the same day as the baptism. I still felt like it could happen. So we called our zone leaders to see if it was possible. They called President Chambers and told him the situation. He said to go ahead and go for it. We then set up with Cat to meet the next morning before she went to work so she could be interviewed. We talked with her for a few minutes to see if she still wanted to do it and she ended up saying she would. So we had the interview and she passed. Then she texted us a couple times while she was at work letting us know she was still kind of questioning it so we met with her after she got home and helped her feel more comfortable with it and then at 6pm she was baptized :) It was an amazing experience. She asked me to baptize her and she had the husband of the fellowship family confirm her. We got permission to do the confirmation at that time rather than in Sacrament meeting the next week like they normally do. So it was really cool. She has a lot of support and a lot of people that care about her. She was also able to attend the Ogden Temple re-dedication the next day which was also great.

So that basically sums up my week right there. The re-dedication was amazing. It's the first one I have ever been a part of. We got to go to one of the three sessions. Malia will be getting baptized in October most likely. Her parents are going through a divorce so its being pushed back a bit, but it will still happen. An Elder in my district died this week. For a total of about 30 seconds I guess. He was called to serve in the Denmark mission but he came home for medical reasons after a period of longer than a year. He is still a missionary though so he serves with the set of Elders in my district that cover his Stake from 9am to 9pm. He has tests and stuff throughout the week and it was during that that he was "dead" for a short period. Thought I'd share :) he is doing good now, they still are trying to find out what he has. Things are going well though and I am excited for the future. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

 -Elder McKinney

Monday, September 15, 2014

Neighborhood Fair...

This week we had our neighborhood fair as a stake. It was really fun and a ton of people showed up. There was food, games, petting zoo, dunk tank, arts and crafts, art show, and a car show. I may have walked by the cars a few times. There were probably about 40-50 cars there that were all in top condition and really expensive. Some classic cars in there as well. We got to talk to a lot of people so it was cool. We weren't able to find anyone to teach, but that's alright. We were able to have everyone see us and so if nothing else we were more widely seen. Things have been good with Elder Koo. We are excited for the work in this stake. We have been working really hard on gaining the trust of the members and we are also helping our stake president to make the work more organized. I love to be organized so I am happy we are doing this. We had a really cool experience this last week. We have been trying to transition Cat over to the YSA missionaries, which includes Elder Laughlin, but she had to cancel a few of the lessons we had set up to do so. We decided to give her a few days before trying to reschedule. At this point She was still set to be baptized on the 20th but she wasn't looking too solid. We were beginning to think she wasn't quite ready so we thought we would push back the baptism. We stopped by one night though to reschedule and she came out of her house crying. She was just overwhelmed with work and school and everything else in her life without much support. We were able to pray with her and talk to her for about 20-30 minutes. By the end she had stopped crying and felt much better than she has before we stopped by. We also discussed a lot of things and through all of that she decided that being baptized was what she needed to do. She is going to get baptized this Saturday :) I have a feeling that that may have been one of the only reasons I was really here, and if that is the case, I could easily be transferred out this next transfer. We shall see. I mean that's not the only thing Heavenly Father wanted me to do obviously, but I think it may have been the main one. Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need and when we need it, of that I have no doubt. Malia is also going to be baptized next Saturday which is going to be great! :) We look forward to helping many other people in their lives to come unto Christ. I hope you all have a great week!
 -Elder McKinney
 p.s. I have considered asking my mission president if we can get some of these cars for the mission, I wonder if he would agree or not...

The first picture is an original Arnold Frieberg painting Elder McKinney thought I might like to!  But I like the second picture better...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Random pictures from strangers...

Here are just a few of the pictures we have received via texts and emails within the last 6 or 8 weeks.  I love that people take the time to take the missionaries' pictures and send them to their parents!  It always makes our day!  And often we see a picture of his new companion before we even get his email telling us who his new companion is!  The man in the hat (Bro. Olson) is a ward mission leader...he had the most wonderful things to say about Joel, and especially that even though we are just a few miles down south from him, he is incredibly focused on the work.  Everyone says how wonderful he is and that he is a true leader.  Brother Olson siad he is bringing new ideas to their stake and they hope he stays there the rest of his mission!  It's awesome to hear these comments!  So here are the pictures in no particular order...with Elders Williams, Laughlin and Koo...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

One Year...

It has been crazy to think about, but this week I will reach one year out on my mission. It has been a great time and I have loved it all. I know this second year will go way too fast and I'm not ready for it. Good things will happen though so I look forward to it with bright expectations. Some of the pictures included are our district after our last district meeting. That includes our senior couple the Brewsters. Then there is a picture from when we went up to the mansion. I will hopefully get more pictures later to send. Then there is one of Elder Laughlin and I juggling. I learned how to juggle and we practiced juggling together. We didn't do half bad, but we only had one transfer to practice. When Elder Koo came into the area, I took him to meet our stake president. Our stake president is a CEO of a company and likes to collect books. He just happens to have original copies of the first three editions of the Book of Mormon and he showed them to us. It was a really cool experience. He also had a King James bible that would be the same edition as the one Joseph Smith would have read. I got to hold them all in my hands :) The Church is true! We are going to transition Cat over to the young single adult missionaries, which in this case is Elder Laughlin so that will be good because Cat already knows and trusts him. Malia is still excited for baptism and things are going well. We continue every day the search for new investigators. Things are going well and Elder Koo is doing great. We are going to the Draper temple today so I am way excited! It's going to be great :) Well I hope you all have a great week! Love you all. -Elder McKinney

Editor's note: The picture of Elder McKinney and Elder Koo was sent to us from a member...we love getting those random texts and emails with pictures!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Email to Joel Mother-McKinney...Mission Assignment Change...

Mission Assignment Change‏

To: Joel Mother-McKinney (


Utah Salt Lake City South Mission
8060 South 615 East
Sandy, Utah 84070

Dear Parents of Elder McKinney,

I am happy to inform you that your son, Elder McKinney, has been called by the Lord to serve as a trainer of a new missionary, Elder Koo. I am confident that in this assignment he will use and further develop his leadership abilities.

This is the most important calling in the mission because he will influence the outcome of this new missionary's mission.  As he properly trains, he will instill characteristics of teaching effectively, budgeting time and funds wisely, and working spiritually with investigators in the mission.  In doing these things he will become one of the most important people in this new missionary’s mission experiences.

You may be well pleased with his progress as a missionary.  I am sure you will see in him many good changes and much positive development. He is a great missionary!  Please continue to give him your encouragement to magnify his calling as a proselyting missionary and as a trainer also.

May the Lord's blessings be with you.

President Chambers
Robert E. Chambers
Mission President

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Companion...

Well, I received the most unexpected call last Monday night. As I was thinking of all the things that could happen this transfer I thought I had thought of it all. These were some of the things I thought could happen: Elder Laughlin and I could stay together, I could no longer be district leader, I could leave and another district leader could come in and be with Elder Laughlin, I could stay and another Elder would come in. All these different things were going through my head. Monday night threw that all out the window basically. I got a call from one of the assistants to the president telling me that I would be training another new missionary. I hadn't even finished training Elder Laughlin yet, I did not see that coming. The Lord knows whats best though so it's all good :)

My new companion, straight out of the MTC for about five days now is Elder Koo. He was born in Korea but lived in China most of his life. He knows Korean, Mandarin, and English. He is 18 years old and has two older brothers. One is in the MTC right now going to Boston Mandarin speaking. The other is in the army for South Korea, it is mandatory. Elder Koo will serve in a couple years as well. His grandparents on his mothers side converted when his mom was young, his father converted when he was in high school I think. Elder Koo is really humble and really kind. His English is pretty dang good. He's been learning it ever since 5th grade so no wonder. It is going to be a great transfer! There are lots of opportunities now with Elder Koo here that weren't available before. In one ward alone there are at least 3 or 4 chinese speakers that aren't members. It is going to be good :)

Other changes in the district: The sisters stayed together but are now in the Draper zone, and Elder Alder and Elder Walker are in our district. Elder Harris is in Sandy still but a different zone. Elder Baclawskis new companion is Elder Foneseca. Don't really know him at all. Elder Laughlin is in the Sandy West zone and is covering half of the YSA stake. He is with Elder Bridge, a good Elder. They have started testing a new idea in the mission. They tried it in one zone last transfer and now they have moved it to five zones. (out of 12... or maybe 10.. no 12) They are splitting up the zone leaders. Each zone leader has his own companion and his own area. They still have all the same responsibilities but they now are supposed to have two model areas. Interesting concept. We will see how it goes. Elder Laughlin is the companion to one of those zone leaders. They also did that with the assistants to the President.

Anyway, both Cat and Malia came to church! It was great :) Malia is super solid, she came with her cousin who is the same age. Cat could only come to Sacrament but she was still able to make it. Elder Koo and I spoke in two wards yesterday, we also taught a gospel principles class in another ward. Got to break him in somehow right? haha. It was good though and he did great. Cat has brought up some concerns, we are trying to help her overcome them. Its mostly just a difference in beliefs. I don't think it will keep her from being baptized overall, but I think it might delay her a little bit. But I know Heavenly Father can work miracles and so that is what we are praying and working for. Malia right now is on date for September 20th to be baptized. Her grandfather will be the one to baptize her. Her parents are no longer active in the church but the mother cried a little bit at our first lesson. Sam decided he no longer wanted to meet with us :/ but we will keep trying. We haven't met with the Gutierrez family this last week but we are going to stop by this week and see where they are at. The kids didn't come to church, but the boy may have gone to cub scouts. We shall see. So that is about where we are at right now. Lots of exciting opportunities with Elder Koo now, I can't wait to see what happens :) Have a great week everyone! Love you all -Elder McKinney

Monday, August 25, 2014

Transfers Again???

I absolutely cannot believe that transfers are here again! This is the fastest transfer that I have ever had and I know it is only going to go faster. It is only a couple weeks until I hit my year mark. It's a lot more depressing than I thought it was going to be. I thought I wouldn't hit that point until about 18 months out or something like that, but it's starting to hit now. This next year is going to go way to fast, I already know it. Elder Laughlin feels 100% again and we are out teaching the world again. Cat is still on date for September 20th. She has to come to church this week though for that to happen, so we are praying hard for that. We know Heavenly Father will provide a way for her to keep this commandment. She is doing well though other than that. She starts school this week at the University of Utah. We are still trying to get a hold of Sam and his mother. He hasn't responded to our texts or calls and hasn't been home when we stopped by, so we will hopefully catch him this week. Malia is a young woman that has been out of town for a month but should have got back this weekend. She has said that she wants to get baptized and her parents are okay with it so we should be able to start teaching her this week as well. Things are starting to pick up and its going to be great! There is also another family that we recently met that have kids who are interested in learning more and coming to church. The mother is the hold up right now, she said she's felt pressured with so much going on and us trying to set up a lesson. So as of right now we haven't started teaching yet, but I think we will be able to within the next week or two. They came to a ward party this last week and met a lot of great people and the young boy who is 9 will be starting cub scouts with the ward. Their last name is Gutierrez. They moved in not too long ago right across the street from where we live. Things are going well and I'm really excited for the work in this area. I don't know what transfers hold, I assume Elder Laughlin and I will stay together since he is being trained, but then again that's what I thought when I was being trained and I only stayed with Elder Bennett for one transfer. So we will see what happens. We talked to the people at the mansion again and they are letting us come take pictures as a district today :) I will send those next week. It's going to be a good day haha. Thank you for all your prayers and support, I really do appreciate it. Have a great week! Love you all.

 -Elder McKinney

 Since Elder McKinney loves "Lord of the Rings," thought these were appropriate for him!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mission Tour and a baptism...

Well Rachel B was baptized this Saturday. It was a really cool experience. She was baptized and confirmed by the husband of the family she lives with. She got up at the end and bore her testimony. It was really powerful! She didn't say much, but she said she knew that Heavenly Father loved her. The Spirit was really strong. There were a lot of people there to support her as well, it was great. This week was the mission tour as well. Elder Clarke came and spoke to us and helped us all realize how much we need to do better haha. He is a very energetic man that keeps us all paying attention. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. We were also able to go and teach a boy and his mother that Elder Williams and I had taught once before but they were going out of town for a month. So we stopped by one night and they were home! We taught them and the boy said he would get baptized if he knew it was true. Bingo :) He didn't come to church though and we haven't been able to get a hold of him since, so hopefully we can talk to him again soon. Elder Laughlin hasn't been feeling well the past day or two, so I've been out working with some of the people in the stake. He's doing a little better today, but still doesn't feel the best. Things are going well though and there is a lot of work to do. I am excited to keep finding people to teach :) Miracles are real. Have a great week everyone! Love you all

-Elder McKinney

An excerpt from his Mom letter:

I can't believe school is already starting again. It doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem real that transfers are next week either. That came out of nowhere. I feel like I just came to Kearns a week ago. I'm excited to fall weather/colors. Wish I could take pictures though. Not excited for snow, especially being so close to the mountains. I like mountains better without snow, they seem more adventurous. Whereas with snow on them they seem more majestic. Either way, not excited for snow. That's cool that you got to go to the Ogden open house! I wish we could go. Sounds like a fun ward party too. We have a stake fair coming up where there will be a lot of things going on. This one will include a car show because.. well people have enough money up here for that kind of stuff. Anyways things are going well. Love you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Miracles! And 11 months!

This week has been great! Well really it has all come to a climax last night and this morning. We had a great lesson last night with Cat. We met at the relief society presidents house this time instead of her main fellowshipper and the relief society presidents husband is in the bishopric of a young single adult ward and so he invited three returned sister missionaries to meet with us as well. We didn't know that until we showed up. It was awkward because we had planned on teaching the law of chastity. It wasn't bad though, it was weird to start but once we got going it was all good. One of the women who were there possibly has a job that Cat can get so that was really great. Cat got a lot of good fellowship after that lesson. Cat right now is scheduled to be baptized on September 20th, hopefully she can make some changes in work and be baptized even sooner! We had a huge miracle last night as well though. After our lesson with Cat we got a call from on the the assistants to the president and he asked me if we had anyone on date to be baptized in August. I replied no wondering what was going on. Then he asked if we had been praying for miracles. Thinking I was about to get chastised for not having enough faith or something I replied that we had. He then went on to tell us that we were going to have a baptism this week and that he would text us the details because they had to go to a lesson. Basically, a girl in our area was being taught by us but then asked to stop but we could still stop by and answer questions and things like that. (This was before I got into the area, though I did meet here once after I got here) We talked to the people she lives with (active members, the wife is the young womens president in the ward) and they said she had met other missionaries that she seemed to like and so we thought okay we will let them do whatever they can because we weren't getting anywhere. It turns out she has been meeting with missionaries in the East mission and the East mission president lives in the ward that this young woman does and so he turned her back to us. All we have to do is make sure she is interviewed and then she can get baptized this week! So we called the lady she lives with and set up the interview for tomorrow. We set a goal every week for how many baptisms and how many confirmations we are going to have. Normally we set our goal for one baptism and one confirmation even though we might not have anyone on date for that week. We set that as our goal because we know that miracles happen and we plan to have as many miracles as possible. This is one of my favorite miracles though. I don't know all the details so I'll let you know more next week about what all went on and stuff. Anyways, the work is going great here and the work is picking up! I know the Lord is blessing us. Have a great week everyone! Love you!

-Elder McKinney

Oh yeah, 11 months. I'm afraid to start hitting the downslide. Going down a slide is always faster than climbing to the top. Mission tour is this week. I am super excited! I know we are going to learn a lot. The prison is in our boundaries yes. I'm pretty sure senior couples go there, I don't know though. I wish we could go to the Ogden temple open house and the dedication, but we can't. Things are going good. I've learned a lot of little things that make up who I am, to try to write them all down would take too long. I'm trying to work on being refined right now. Dignified in speech and action. Thank you for all you do! Love you!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Zone Conference...

Well, we had zone conference. It was great, got to see Elder Cleveland and Elder Knowlton, the only two of my companions left in the mission still. We talked a lot about the worth of a soul and how we can better invite the Spirit into our lessons. Not much else has happened since last week. I mean we have done a lot, but its all the same thing - missionary work. We are still working with Cat. We introduced her to family history the other day and she sounded really excited about it. She stops working Sundays at the end of this month and so she will for sure at least be able to be baptized in September. That will be good. Other than that we do not have any investigators that we are working with. We have a lot of potential though so we are excited for that. The work is about to pick up in this area, I can feel it. Mostly because people will be back in town haha. Anyways things are going great and I love being a missionary. Couldn't ask for anything better. Sorry this is short, but love you all! Have a great week!

(an excerpt from letter to Mom, answering her questions)... I definitely love the cooler weather. Not excited for winter though. I think Heavenly Father was just taking it easy on me last time, I feel like I'm going to get it this winter. We normally go to three wards each week. Fast Sunday we eat just like every other day with a family in one of the wards. Each ward takes a week to feed us. We do a variety of things to find people to teach, we tract, we talk to people on the street, we go by members and ask for referrals and things like that. I can't believe it is already time for school again. Summer goes fast even on the mission haha. Things are going well. Love you!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Mansion at last!

Well we had many miracles this week! My personal favorite one, is we finally were able to get into the mansion :) We drove by and the gate was open so we parked really quick and went and knocked on the door. It was July 24th so they were here having a family party out back. Turns out they are all members and super active. They just aren't always at this home... they have a few. It is a really nice house! Really cool people too. We are going to try to have a p-day activity there or something. We just have to get a hold of them again, that will be the problem. Anyways, other than that we were also able to pick up two new investigators this week. One is really shaky, he was super high when we taught him but he accepted to have us come back so we will meet with him tonight hopefully. We aren't sure if he is in our area or not though so we might have to hand him over to another set of missionaries. I don't care though, it was great to find someone else to teach. We also picked up an investigator that Elder Williams had been teaching but transitioned him to the YSA missionaries who ended up dropping him, so we picked him back up. He's not really that solid either, but we will keep working with him and I know we can make progress with him, we will have to hand him back over to the YSA missionaries though when he starts making progress. Again, I don't care, if we can help them come unto Christ then that is all that matters. We are able to teach at least one lesson every day so its great. The work is starting to pick up even more in this area. My companion is awesome and I'm glad I don't have to train him as much as I would in some other cases. He already does a great job and I only have to correct him here and there. He's teaching me a lot too. I gave my first district meeting on Tuesday. I thought it went pretty well, I just took a little long with the training. I don't have to do one this week because of Zone Conference. I'm excited for that. Oh and then we will be having a mission tour in August. Elder Don R. Clarke is coming and so that will be cool. So we will basically just have another zone conference with him in a couple weeks. It's going to be great. Well that's about all I can think of for now. Enjoy the pictures, I sure did :) Have a great week! Love you all. -Elder McKinney

 The district...and Ryan who was baptized the night before Elder Williams returned home.