Monday, June 29, 2015

Mission Changes...

The mission changes where supposed to happen on Wednesday, July 1st. For some reason, unknown right now to us, it has happened today. We are down to seven zones and around 130 missionaries now. The stake I am in is on the boundary. Most of my mission has been on the boundary. So that's about all in terms of news about the mission. We have a meeting this Wednesday as zone leaders with President Chambers so I'm sure we will learn more there. It will be interesting because there were a lot of changes this transfer because of the boundary changes, but there will also be a lot of changes this transfer as well. A lot of missionaries came out in the July transfer. In fact, it was the biggest group that this mission has had. My companion and I calculated it last night, there will be one new assistant, five new zone leaders, and about 8 new district leaders. That's a lot more than usual. That's approximate though, because President could do things differently than we expect. Things are going well in the area. This week was a lot better than last week. We found two new investigators and taught a few lessons. We met with a man who had been taught before and taught him on his doorstep. We brought the elders quorum president with us(who lives a few houses down) and it was a really powerful lesson. He didn't accept baptism, but seriously considered it and said he would pray about it. He was the same about coming to church. He ended up not coming however. His name is Robert The other new investigator was a great miracle. We have an email that we use just for this stake. When we got in the area we sent an email to all the main leadership in the stake. We got a response back from a relief society president who said there was a man who wanted us to teach his son and that his son wanted to get baptized. We went by and taught the boy, he is about ten years old. He also has been taught by the missionaries before. He didn't get baptized though because his mother wanted to be there for it, and lived in another place. She is in town now and there is a lot better chance of him getting baptized now. We are shooting for July. He was going to ask his mom for permission this week so we are excited to see how it went. His name is Ashton. We also met with another little girl who was being taught before. She has been taught everything and was just waiting for her dad to get back from Korea. He is back now and the parents are going to figure out a date for her to be baptized. Her name is Lacie. So things are going well in the stake. We got posters up in all the buildings we cover with our picture and names and such. Church was good, except for the fact that no one came to church of our investigators. We were able to go help out with one wards primary. We sat in with the 10-11 year old boys for must of Sunday school, then went in to the younger kids and shared a message about the sabbath day. Then we stayed for the older sharing time and sang and shared another message on the sabbath day for them. It was fun. A little draining after 7 hours of church though ha. More and more as I go on I grow in faith that all things are possible with Him who created the worlds. As I read in Mark about the storm tossed disciples on the Sea of Galilee crying out to the master, it helped me realize that if He created the world, and the universe and all that, why couldn't he calm the storm? We sometimes fear, or lose faith in our lives. We should not however, because He is Lord of all. There is not anything He cannot do. If we but ask, remembering that fact that He has all power, it can be given us. Thank you for all of your prayers, letters, and support. I appreciate it, they truly do help. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you all!

- Elder McKinney

And the SHORT LETTER to his Mom...Good thing there are only 11 more email days!  " I don't know what else to say this week. Sorry. Sounds like a lot going on back home. A lot going on here too. Hope all continues to go well. I'm sure you won't appreciate this email, hopefully my other one will suffice a little bit ha. Love you!"

Monday, June 22, 2015


I'm going to stop guessing what's going to happen for transfers, because I'm never right. Well, in part I was this time. I said I thought Elder Aquino and I would stay together. We did. We just didn't stay in the same stake. Elder Aquino and I were transferred from the West Jordan Welby stake to the West Jordan Westland Stake. This is my fourth area in West Jordan now. So President Chambers pulled us both out to keep us in the mission. Two west missionaries came in as the zone leaders for that zone and on July 1st will officially be part of the west mission. Elder Aquino and I are still zone leaders, but for a different zone. The Westland stake was a part of our old zone, but is now a part of this new zone. It's a smaller zone, but we are still producing a lot of work. There are seven companionships counting us, and three senior couples. There are about three or four missionaries in the zone who go home this transfer, and two or three that go home next transfer. This transfer(June 17th) brought a lot of changes. Everyone is where they need to be now for the realignment of the boundaries on July 1st. Elder Aquino and I will be in the south mission still, but we will be on the northern boundary. We look forward to seeing many miracles. Even though there are a lot of changes, it's only happening to hasten the work. So we know we will find a lot of people to teach in the next short while. We cover 8 wards. Which means I've covered about 64 wards now. That sounds odd to say. It's been great though. I don't know if this is my last area or not. Only one more transfer so we shall see. Church went well yesterday. We attended three wards and got to bless the sacrament in one of them. It's been a long time since I've blessed the sacrament so that was a really neat experience, especially with the increased focus on the sabbath and the sacrament. Oh yeah, Elder Knowlton is in my zone. He is one of my former companions. He goes home at the end of this transfer. Crazy to think about. Only four of my companions have gone home so far. Two of them I was with them their last transfer. I've had 12 companions total, not counting mtc. We live in the basement of a nice family from Georgia. We are the first ones to live here. It's a really nice place and it's a lot cooler than the last house we were living in. We were above the garage in the last one so it got really hot. Our landlord didn't turn on the ac either so it could get really toasty. This one though is nice and cool. I can wear my blankets at night and feel perfect. We didn't get to keep car #13 which I was kind of bummed about. We kept it in really good shape. We got a Chevy Cruze to drive instead. It definitely needs a clean today. I couldn't wait for today just so I could clean the car. It was pretty bad. Still works though so that's good. And it's white, also a plus :) That's about it. There were two people being taught when we came in, but we haven't been able to meet either of them. So we are just trying to meet all the leadership and find more people to teach. Hope all is well, have a wonderful week!

-Elder McKinney

Monday, June 15, 2015

Transfer Week...

This week has been great! Mostly because we had three of our investigators at church! Two of them are on date to be baptized on July 4th. Talk about celebrating a great event ha :) so that is exciting for us. Having sacrament first is definitely the best thing to do. It was a lot more reverent and spiritual than it was before. We didn't find any new investigators this week, kind of a bummer. But this week is looking to be better in that regards. Transfers are this week. We find out tomorrow what is going to happen. We had a meeting this week with President Chambers as zone leaders and sister training leaders. We talked about the changes and came up with plans to help it go smoothly and make sure the missionaries don't get discouraged or stop working. He told us that out of the 17 or 18 areas going to the west mission, about 6 areas are being whitewashed. And since there are only 18 west missionaries coming over on the transfer that only leaves 6 areas to be affected. Elder Aquino and I doubt that this area would be whitewashed again so soon, so we feel we are probably going to stay together and go to the west mission. Sad that we will leave President Chambers, but excited at helping a brand new reorganized mission get started and take off towards success. Time is going by quicker and quicker. Realizing that I'm only going to write about 12 more of these emails is rather mind boggling. I remember when I was first put with missionaries who were on their last transfer and them saying I was going to be their last companion. I will be saying that next transfer to whoever my companion is. I never thought I would get to this point. I keep trying to tell myself I'm one of the three Nephites and will always be out here. I guess I'll just have to accept that fact that I may not be serving the same way, but I can and will be serving in other ways. So even if we stay this transfer, we will be a part of the south mission still until the official realignments. We will then have a new mission president and a new mission entirely. We shall see what happens. It's making us all anxious. All is going well. Our investigators are starting to become more solid and it looks like a few of them will finally be baptized. The work is hastening and summertime will help. Thank you for all of your prayers and faith on my behalf. They are greatly appreciated and truly felt in my life. May the Lord bless each of you with peace and happiness! Have a wonderful week!

-Elder McKinney

And this answer to Mom's thoughts that since Elder McKinney only has 3 months left he will stay in the South Mission...
Only having three months doesn't save me. If they did it based on time the new mission would only have brand new missionaries. It's based on revelation and wherever the Lord needs certain individuals. So if I'm needed there, that's where I'll be. I know I'll go wherever I'm needed, I've never doubted the Lord or President Chambers. Some mission presidents would be tempted to just send all the disobedient missionaries to the new mission, but thankfully President Chambers isn't going to do that.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mission Changes...

Well, this week has been interesting. We are aware now of some changes that will be coming in the mission within the next month. With the creation of the Orem mission and the dissolution of the Salt Lake City central mission, our mission will be changed dramatically. The Orem mission will take part of our mission, including some of the Herriman, bluffdale, and riverton areas. The missionaries in those area after the June 17th transfer will be reassigned to the Orem missionon July 1st when the new mission is officially created. Our north boundaries will also be changed. The central mission, which covers midvale, Murray, and taylorsville, will become part of the Salt Lake City west mission. We will also have part of our mission move to the west mission. Half of West Jordan, and all of Kearns will be a part of the west mission starting July 1st.

The stake I am currently serving in will become a part of that new mission. As to whether or not I will be reassigned to that mission I am unsure. Our mission will go from 89 stakes to about 59. And from about 180 missionaries to 130. Quite a change from the 265 we had last year. In order to make sure every stake has a set of missionaries though, on this June transfer, 18 missionaries from the west mission will come into the stakes that will eventually be reassigned (West Jordan, Kearns area) and the 18 missionaries they replace will be transferred to somewhere else in the south mission. Then come July 1st the 18 west missionaries will go back to the west mission when the boundaries are realigned. Along with the missionaries from our mission that will be reassigned. Not sure if that makes any sense at all. That is why I'm not sure if I will stay or go. My companion and I figure that there are about 18 stakes from our mission going to the west mission. So the 18 west missionaries will come and one will go to each stake. So of Elder Aquino and I, one of us will go to the west mission and one of us will stay in the south mission. Or in the extreme we get transferred to the Herriman area and get moved to the Orem mission.

I'm pretty sure I'm confusing myself with everything I just wrote. Basically there will be two times things change. One on June 17th when we have transfers. But once that is done, wherever you are serving is where you will be on July 1st when the boundary changes take place. So after June 17th whoever is in Kearns or the like will be in a different mission on July 1st. We had a quick meeting with our mission president on Saturday morning after he got news that all of this was official. It was a rather emotional meeting for all. Realizing we may not see some of each other again and maybe not even see president chambers again. He did a great job though of helping everyone understand that wherever we go, it's what the Lord wants. Those missionaries who will be reassigned have already been determined by President Chambers (though he chose not to divulge that until June 17th) and their names go back before the Quorum of the twelve to be officially reassigned. So I presume it almost goes exactly the same way as when we are first called. We are all a little antsy now to see what happens on June 17th since that will determine where we go. I want to stay in the south mission with President Chambers, but I also love this area and the idea of having a new mission excites me a little bit. So I'm not sure what I really want. The south mission will be tiny now. One of the smallest missions in the world for sure. The west mission will grow a lot in size. It will cover parts of West Jordan, all of Kearns, all of West Valley, all of Magna, all of Tooele, all of Midvale, and it seems like parts of Murray and downtown. I'm not sure exactly. There will be over 200 missionaries in that mission, and will have missionaries from four missions in the valley. Our mission, the west mission, the central mission, and even some east missionaries are being reassigned. Why the east mission has some missionaries going to the west mission, I have no idea. I have a map of the new south mission boundaries, but not one for the west. That's why I'm not exactly sure what it's boundaries are. It's crazy though. If I stay in the south mission (and if the way we think it will happen, happens) I will have had six different areas and six different companions the past six transfers. Counting next transfer. That's if I get replaced by a west missionary. If it happens the other way I will have had five areas and six companions. We are fairly sure we won't be staying together however. And we feel because Elder Aquino speaks Spanish he will likely go to the west mission where there is more opportunity for Spanish assignments. We don't know though. Anything can happen. I've felt at peace about it the whole time, so I'll be fine wherever I go. It will be hard for many though. It's not easy to say goodbye. Everything will be different now.

In other news. We had stake conference this weekend. It was great! I learned a lot. Elder Gavarret of the first quorum of the seventy came and presided. President Bishop (first counselor in our mission presidency) and his wife came and spoke in the Saturday adult session. He had us get up and help him. We recited out purpose and bore our testimonies. Then on Sunday we got to bear our testimonies again. It was a great weekend and really edifying. They talked mostly about families, Sabbath day worship, and Ward councils. They changed the wards so now sacrament is first instead of last in every Ward. I'm glad, having it last wasn't the best in my opinion. It was cool to meet Elder Gavarret. He didn't say much to us, but at least now I can say I've met someone personally in the seventy. No one from the twelve yet. Not sure if I'll get that chance before I go home. You'd think serving here in Utah that I'd have a pretty good chance. Not so far apparently. The sad part is, almost no one came to church! Only one of our investigators comes to church on a regular basis, the others are seeming to fall off a bit. We met with the girl who wants to get baptized this week. Her name is Sophia and she is 11. She was so cute and innocent when we taught her. She literally can't remember anything a second after she hears it. It's going to be a longer teaching process I think. We had to go over prophets about five times with visual aids and object lessons before she could remember. She wants to get baptized though, so she'll work for it. No one wants to come to church though, Sophia normally does, but couldn't make it this Sunday. So that continues to be our struggle. But all else is going well. The zone is doing great. We had three baptisms again this weekend as a zone. And about 10 more for the month are scheduled. Summer will help things pick up I think. Anyways, hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you all!

First picture is from the lady who cut their hair...the second picture is from a member of the stake presidency...we (Mom and Dad) always love receiving these texts with pictures!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

99 days!!!

Missionary Release Information Form

Please fill out the information below so we can finalize your missionary’s return.  Please return this information to us as soon as possible. (If possible I need this information by June 9, 2015)

Please fill out all information listed below (print plainly) and return to the mission office as soon as possible   
If you have any questions please call the mission office 

Returning Missionary:  Elder Joel McKinney
Release Date: September 9, 2015       
(requested parents, Bishop and Stake President address information - that has been deleted for this post)                                                              

Hometown:__________________________         Airport nearest home:______________________________

Are you coming to the mission to pick up your missionary?   Yes____________      No_____________

If No: Your missionary’s itinerary will be mailed to you approximately one month before release date.  

If you are picking up your missionary, a check will be sent to the mission in the amount of what the church would have paid for the flight home. The nearest airport information is needed in order to figure the cost of the reimbursement

Time goes quickly...

This week was great! We saw so many miracles. We still have our struggles, but things are going great. The area is doing well, the zone is doing well. We had 7 baptisms in the month of May as a zone. Still pretty low, but we are going up so I'm happy with that. Our area alone has the potential for around 5 to 6 baptisms that we know of for June, but I'm sure the Lord has many more in store. No one really came to church again. That has been our biggest struggle overall as an area and as a zone. So Nathan and Pam fell off date. We have another kid on date though for the 27th. We just stopped by him and he said he was interested and his dad was okay with it so we set up a lesson. We went by and his mom joined in (who isn't a member herself) and basically we just talked about baptism the whole time. We had asked him if he had any questions at the beginning and he asked how baptism works. It kind of caught us by surprise ha. So we are excited for that. Both parents are on board. The biggest road block with him will be church. But I think we can help overcome that one.

We also got a call last week from a lady in one of our wards who said she had a referral for us. Her and her husband run a group home and an 11 year old girl they have there said she wants to get baptized. She's been with them for a year and a half and has gone to church with them a lot. They already have parents permission so we just need to teach her now. She also will get baptized in June :) So things are going well. Just need to help people get to church.

We had our meeting this week as mission leadership, mainly the zone leaders and sister training leaders. There we discuss items in the mission and council about how we can improve. After we had that we decided to get together with our district leaders in our zone and council amongst them what we can do to improve. So it's been a week full of meetings as well. I love the sacrament. If I didn't have the sacrament each week I don't know where I would be. It allows me the chance to renew my covenants with the Lord and to access the atonement. There are great blessings in the sacrament. I am grateful to have the opportunity to take it every week. Next Sunday will be stake conference here. Elder Gavarret will be the visiting authority. I'm excited for that to happen. I'm going to learn a lot. If everything works out, I'll get the chance to speak right before he does in the general Sunday session. President Bishop in our mission presidency will also be there. I haven't really seen much of him for awhile so that will be nice. We grew close when I was in sandy and he lived in my area. We also got to do a lot of service this week, which was nice. We ended up taking this huge boulder out of a mans backyard. It wasn't really that big, but for two people it was pretty heavy. It was a few feet under the earth and probably was somewhere around 100-150 pounds. Took us about 20 minutes to dig it up from when we first hit it. So that was fun. Thank you for all that you do for me. I really do appreciate it. I can't  wait to see everyone again. It's going to be weird, but it'll be good. Time goes quickly, trying not to let it go to waste. Hope you all have a wonderful week! Take Luck and be happy!

-Elder McKinney

Moroni Abridging the plates