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