Monday, August 31, 2015

Last Week, this is it...

The thought that this is my last week as a missionary registers in my mind, but not in my heart. It feels as if I will continue on being a missionary forevermore. I wouldn't mind that. I know however that the time must come for me to go on. It won't be that my mission is over, it will just be redefined. So now my focus will be to make this the best week I have ever had on my mission. Our area has been struggling, so I look forward to putting in everything I've got this week. Our zone has done great this last week! We had higher key indicators than we've ever had before. There are over 20 people who accepted a baptismal date and over 18 new investigators! We had plateaued for a few weeks and so I'm glad to see things start to go up. We will go from good to better now with the hopes of seeing best in the not too distant future.

We were able to have an MLC meeting this week. This was my last one. We took a picture of all the zone leaders who have been trained by each other. For instance, Elder Hauata trained me as a zone leader, he also trained Elder Kulu as a zone leader, I trained Elder Covington and Elder Aquino as zone leaders, so on and so forth. Kind of a posterity picture. I will include it below. There is only one who isn't attached in any way, but Elder Hauata says he adopted him so he joined in as well.

There is a Mormon message online about forgiveness. A man tells the story of a car accident that killed his wife and two of his children. He talks about how he applied the atonement of Jesus Christ and was able to forgive the young man who had gotten drunk and run into their car. It is a really touching story and the spirit helps us to know the power behind the atonement. The video can be found here: We had the neat opportunity to hear him speak at a fireside last night in our stake. He married a woman that used to live here in the stake. He came and spoke to all the youth. He told the same story but also told some stories from previous in his life that prepared him for that event and then talked about the atonement and how he was able to forgive that young man so quickly. It was a very spiritual experience. We didn't meet him personally, but we met his wife as we were walking out.

Now, if you're wondering what I plan on doing once I get home.... I have no idea. In terms of school and work I haven't got a clue yet what I'm going to do. I will probably try to go to school in the winter, I don't know where. That means for a few months I'll just try to work. I'll try to visit people from my mission as much as possible. It won't be too hard since I'm only about 20-30 minutes away. So as of right now, that's an update about what will happen once I'm home haha. My family may have other plans, I'm not sure. Now, pictures.

Some streets in south Jordan.
Posterity picture
Another trip up to the mine
My companion in his Jordan pose 

Take care everyone! I will write one more next week, and then I shall be done. Love you all!

Elder McKinney

One Week! It's getting real!

This momma can't wait to hug this Elder!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Great Week!

This week has been great! The highlight of the week was meeting with President Ronald A. Rasband of the seventy and Elder Evans also a seventy. We met with them as well as with President and Sister Chambers on Saturday to discuss how the focus on sabbath day observance is affecting missionary work. Elder Rasband was asked to give a training on this in their meetings before general conference in October and so he asked Elder Evans to find a mission who would let them meet with the MLC(mission leadership council) and discuss the topic. It was a really neat and personal experience with them. There were only 15 of us and we met in the relief society room of the mission office. Elder Evans started with a training on the organization of the seventy which was really neat. I learned some new things I hadn't known before. I still don't understand why there are seven presidents of the seventy, but I'm sure I'll figure that out over time. Elder Rasband is the senior president of the seventy. After the first presidency and the quorum of the twelve he's the next man in the line. He then started the discussion on the topic. We talked about how the focus on the sabbath day helps us as missionaries, but mainly we focused on how we can use the sabbath day to reach outward. It was neat and we could all feel the importance of the sabbath day and I think we all realized we have room for improvement, both in how we observe it and how we use it to reach outwards.

One of the things that we talked about, which stood out to me, is that we tend to make a lot of effort to invite friends and neighbors to Ward activities and such, but we don't make that same effort to invite them to church. The sabbath day is one of the strongest things that will bring them to Christ, yet we focus more on activities that do nothing to strengthen our faith in Christ. Not to say that we shouldn't have activities or invite people to them, but our first and strongest effort should be to help others to come to church. When you see the leftover bread and water at the sacrament table after the meeting, think about who could have taken it but didn't. So that was a really neat experience. One that I may never have again in my life.

After the meeting we had lunch. Elder Aquino and I were privileged to sit at the same table as the two visiting authorities as well as our mission president and wife. Elder Evans is the brother of the other Elder Evans that lived in one of my old areas in Sandy.

Other than that, we weren't able to meet with any of our investigators this week so it was a little bit slower. We talked to Lacies grandparents and they said she told them she doesn't want to be baptized right now. So it looks like it probably won't happen for another couple years. After talking about it however Elder Aquino and I feel it will be for the best. We prefer she stay active after she is baptized and we think if she was baptized now that probably wouldn't happen. The zone is doing pretty well. We have had consistent key indicators this transfer and we have had six baptisms so far this month. There are three more lined up for this weekend. With only two weeks left I'm praying that we can find someone here before I leave.

Both my companion and I gave talks yesterday in one of the wards. We were the only speakers and so we both had 20 minutes. That's the longest I've spoken yet. Hopefully they didn't struggle to stay awake ha. It is an older Ward. We had a missionary in our zone go home this week for medical. It was quite a bummer, I've worked with him closely throughout my mission and I thought I would beat him home. His companion joined another companionship to be a trio and cover two stakes.

Well, I hope that all is going well for each of you. I love you all and I am grateful for all that you do. Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. If I've learned one thing this week, it's the importance of the sabbath. I believe there is an untapped power and potential in keeping the sabbath day holy that most of us have yet to experience. Have a wonderful week!

- Elder McKinney

I forgot a few things. Last Sunday we met the family from meet the Mormons. The one with the missionary. They used to live in this stake. He got his call here. They were here for a homecoming of someone. We only met them briefly, but it was cool! We also got to meet sister chambers sister at the mission office. It was really funny, sister chambers was so excited and was introducing her to everyone there. I can't remember if I mentioned it before or not, but Elder Allen lives in this stake. He's an area authority I believe but he also works for the mission department and does a lot there. We also saw sister Williams this week. She is a sister who used to serve in this mission, she went home a month or two ago. When I first became a zone leader she was a sister training leader in the zone. She served here in the Westland stake towards the beginning of her mission and got close to a family. We were having dinner with that family and they invited her to come as well. She was in the valley applying for a job. So she was there and it was weird to see her without a nametag and all. So those are some other interesting things I forgot to tell. Have a great week!

Pictures from a P-day Outing...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 101

Only three weeks left to make as much of a difference as I can. All things are counted unto the Lord so I don't feel bad counting ha. Things are going well here in the Westland stake. I've realized my emails each week are probably boring and short. I apologize for that. Before my mission I never said too much, though I do better now. My writing still lacks however. So I will attempt to write more interesting emails for the next four Mondays.

So, Lacie has not been baptized yet. We've tried to contact her mom who lives in another stake but she hasn't responded. We have tried to work through her dad but he never talks to us in person we always have to go through the grandparents. So it's been rather tough to get things going. Both parents have given permission so all it is now is just scheduling the baptism. It's a little frustrating because I just want it done. The Lord has His timing though, and I will be patient. Everyone else we are teaching won't accept what we are saying though and are looking to be comfortable with sin rather than with God. It's hard because I want to see something happen before I leave. I haven't had a baptism in my own area for over 8 months now. It's been a little bit depressing. Every time I would get transferred before someone got baptized. Now I stayed for once and the one baptism that was scheduled for Lacie fell through. There's still time for plenty of miracles though so I'm looking forward to those. If nothing else I want to leave some people scheduled for baptism when I leave.

The members here are great and we are seeing the Ward mission leaders in the stake really start to step up their efforts. The stake president is really great! He's one of my favorite stake presidents. He's defended us and is doing all he can to assist us in the missionary efforts throughout the wards. We have breakfast every now and then with his family on Saturdays. It's supposed to be a weekly thing, but with crazy summer schedules it doesn't happen as often. It's nice to have that time to talk with him though. He always has something for us to study and discuss as well, which makes it all the better. It's like a cool little study session.

I've been grateful to hear so much about the sabbath day these past few months. I feel like ever since cobble creek every area I get transferred to is starting to discuss it so I get it all over again. They discuss it in Ward councils and have talks in sacrament meeting and things. It's really helped me learn and grow as I've been there for some of them. It's helped me better understand the sabbath and get more out of it each week. The sacrament means a lot more to me now and it gives me everything I need to keep going.

We found out yesterday we are going to have a meeting with the mission leadership(zone leaders and sister training leaders) on Saturday for a few hours with a general authority. We don't know who it is, but the topic will be on how the focus on the sabbath is affecting missionary work. Our zone is doing pretty well. We have a few companionships who are struggling, but overall we are looking to have at least 8 baptisms for the month. It's a lot lower than we'd like, but grateful to see the miracles we have. Our goal is 12 for the month. Our goal as a mission for the year is 475, I think we are starting to fall behind though. We will need to catch back up.

I am excited for my return home. I will miss it here for sure, but this new phase in life will be exciting(and probably a little scary at times). I used to worry about what I was going to do for school and work. I'm not worried anymore. I still have no idea what I'm going to do, but I've felt at peace about it. We will see what adventures lie ahead. For now, I will do all I can to leave this mission better than I found it. May the Lord bless all of you in your individual challenges and concerns. He is watchful over you, so never feel alone. Have a wonderful week, love you all!

-Elder McKinney

Monday, August 10, 2015

Super short!

Not too much to report on this week. Went on an exchange with one of our district leaders. Taught a new investigator who is soon moving to Alabama to be with his wife and kids. Went crazy over the fact that I only have 4 weeks left. Same old same old. Things are going well. We are seeing many miracles, but most of them are for other areas. For instance we taught a young man yesterday who is willing to be baptized, but he doesn't live in our area. So I kind of want to see that for this area before I leave. But I am grateful that we are able to witness the Lords hand even if they aren't in our area. I know the Lords work is continuing to go forth. It is true! I just need to be more specific in my prayers so that we can find someone who lives in this area :) Well... That's super short. I want you to know though, that I know the Savior lives! There is nothing that will stop His work from going forward. We can either choose to follow Him and be changed and become like Him, or we can end up in misery because we didn't follow His footsteps. Life is hard, the gospel is easy. The choice is simple. Blessings come when we choose to follow the savior. I hope you all have a wonderful week! I don't feel like my mission is coming to an end, so if you don't see me in four weeks, it's because I forgot to go home. Love you all! Take care, may the Lord bless you in your individual circumstances and challenges.

-Elder McKinney

Picture is our last district before transfers. Elder Aquino was in another district meeting.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Last Transfer!

Transfers! A lot changed this time. Elder Aquino and I stayed together in the Westland stake. He will be my final and longest companion. We are still the zone leaders, but our zone got a lot bigger. After the mission divide there were two zones in the remaining parts of West Jordan. Those zones, having been rather small, are now combined. We have a total of 24 young Elders and Sisters and 3 MLS senior couples.

Our meetings will definitely be a lot different now. Almost every companionship in the zone had a change as well. Only our companionship and one other stayed exactly the same. There are 11 missionaries going home this transfer, and 20 coming in. This will be the first transfer in a long time that we will get more than we lose. The next couple transfers are looking like it will bring it back down though in a few months.

President Chambers has set up to meet with all the zone leaders individually for each zone with him and his assistants to train and counsel. We were the first ones to have that meeting. We met with them last Friday. Normally it would be held at the mission office in sandy. Something came up though, and instead we met at his home in cottonwood heights. It was a really weird feeling. For one, we were out of the mission, and two we were in a place that most missionaries never see until they go home. So it was both cool and weird at the same time. A very nice home. Simple and comfortable. We just talked about the zone and what could be done to help each individual and companionship succeed. It was a great meeting and it was interesting to see President Chambers so relaxed. I'm sure had the meeting been at the office he would have had a suit and been all official. Since he had been at home, he didn't have a jacket on and he was in his slippers. It was different, but neat.

Lacie was not baptized this weekend. Her mom said that she needed two weeks notice or something like that. Even though it was her that we had talked to first. She doesn't live in the area so we can only talk to her on the phone. We will see what happens from here. We are getting set up to go on visits with each Ward on a more regular basis. That should hopefully help more as we find and teach. That's about where things are at for us now. We look forward to a great transfer with lots of miracles! Thank you for your support and friendship! Love you all!

-Elder McKinney