Friday, September 11, 2015

Welcome home gathering...

We had an informal gathering in our yard the day after Joel got home.  A few neighbors old and new came, also Devin Ashcroft, Mallory Doxey and two people who served in his mission.  His former companion "Elder" Williams and "Sister" Moberg who are both here going to school!  Also one of his converts, Samantha and her mom Melissa came.  They have moved to Springville. It was fun to meet them!  Joel also got to meet Nate and Lilly Dibb...who will soon be joining our family! The weather was great and we just enjoyed eating and visiting!  The kids had great fun in the yard and especially finding a huge spider web! Now we wait to hear him speak in church and report to the high council, then his mission will be officially at an end!  We love having him home!!

 Judy and Garry Guymon, our sweet and wonderful neighbors from Lindon!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Elder McKinney returns home!

 Everything is ready.  Signs are made and colored by the boys, banner made by Amanda, Back to Babylon basket is made, his room is ready, WE are ready!!  Tuesday, September 8th finally arrived!  Joel's grandpa McKinney's funeral was that morning in Sacramento.  Dad got on a plane right after it was over and flew in to Salt Lake just in time to get dinner and drive to the mission home!  We are all very excited!!  It was a bright sunny day!  There was a sign on the door of a classroom for us to wait in.  We could hear the missionaries in a room next door singing.  The last meeting for all those going home the next day.  They would all stay at the mission president's house until their flights out the next morning.  Except for Joel. He got to go out to the parking lot and drive home with us!  

We waited anxiously for their meeting to end.  Missionaries started down the hall, they would all peek in to see Elder McKinney's family.  FINALLY, Joel walked into the room!  Momma gets the first hug!!!  It was awesome!!  Words cannot describe it!  I did not want to let him go...and I swear he is taller than when he left!  Dad was next, followed by the boys.  Amanda got her hug too, but she had the camera in her hand!  She took one in the parking lot right before we drove out.  President Chambers and his wife and son came in to meet us.  That was really special and we enjoyed it.  They had wonderful things to say about Joel.  The one that stuck out to me was from Sister Chambers.  She said when she thinks of Elder McKinney she thinks, "Still waters run deep."  She said he is often quoted by the other missionaries and what a wonderful missionary he is.  Several of the missionaries made comments to us, especially Elder Hauta.  He loved serving with Joel and told us how much he learned from him and enjoyed being his companion.  Joel said his goodbyes and we went to get all his stuff which was stacked in the nursery room.  We got it all loaded in the van and headed home!  It didn't really feel real to us!  And being as Joel had never seen the house we live in now, it probably was a little unreal to him as well.  

We had oreo ice cream cake for him at home.  Then later, President Ivins and Bishop Angus came over to the house to release him.  President asked Joel several questions, had him share a few stories, and then had him bear his testimony.  He also asked each of us (Dad, Mom and Amanda) to share what blessings we felt we received while he was serving.  It was very special.  Then he released Joel and had him remove his tag.  An emotional time for all of us.  He admonished Joel to keep his tag with his scriptures to remind him of the work and of his time as a missionary sharing the gospel.  To remember all the spiritual experiences and being close to the Savior.  

We can't believe it is all over just like that.  In hindsight, those two years went really fast.  We are so grateful that Joel served a mission and we look forward to hearing his stories and seeing what all will happen in his life from this point on.  We love you Joel!!  Welcome home!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Day 729, the last 24 hours...

Well, the end has finally come. I leave for home tomorrow evening. I will be reunited with my family and friends and life will continue on. It's a weird feeling. I'm not sure what to make of it. I had some neat experiences last week though! On Thursday I had my departing interview with President Chambers. It was the normal stuff to talk about when departing; education, career, dating. It wasn't very long, but it was enough to help me feel confident in the future. Then on Friday afternoon we were able to attend the Salt Lake Temple and go through a session there. It was my first time to the Salt Lake City temple. It's beautiful. Very easy to get lost inside however. After leaving the celestial room we were about to head down the stairs but a man was going into an office nearby and invited us to come and see. We got to see the apartment place where President Snow stayed while he was president of the temple and got to see out the southeast door where a lot of wedding pictures are taken. The man told us some interesting things and then we went on our way. It was neat too to stand in the approximate place where Jesus Christ appeared to President Snow right outside the celestial room. Overall it was a great experience.

Well, that is about the extent of my stories for this week. As this is my last email I will send as a representative of Jesus Christ, I want to end with my testimony.

Before my mission I couldn't say with a surety that the Book of Mormon was true or that Joseph Smith was a prophet or that this is Christ's church on earth. That has changed over these two years. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know he lives and leads this church today. I know he restored it through the prophet Joseph Smith along with the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon truly is the word of God. Translated by the power of God it is available to all as a witness of the truth. No other book will bring us closer to Christ than the Book of Mormon. I know also that the power of the atonement is real. We can find forgiveness, healing, and power as we apply it in our lives. I still have a lot to learn, I still am not perfect, but I know these things are true. The spirit has revealed to my heart that this is the case. Come unto Christ, that is the invitation. Don't put it off and forfeit the blessings of eternal life. It is not worth it! Set your sights on the end goal and work until you achieve it. Christ is there to help. This is not a one man journey. We can be with our Heavenly Father and our Savior again. We can be with our families forever. We can have a fullness of joy not available in any other way except by following Jesus Christ. That is the truth, and it will never change. Work for the temple, receive those blessings. It is the only intelligent thing to do. May the Lord bless you in your efforts and aid you in your journey. Know that I love you as well and I am grateful for you in my life.

Feel free to keep in touch with me throughout the years. I would love to hear from all of you. My personal email is You can also look me up on Facebook. Take care, I hope to see you soon.

- Elder McKinney

Here is a picture from our zone training meeting. It was my last meeting and I was able to conduct it. This is afterwards in the foyer. I am waiting for someone to send pictures from the salt lake temple trip, so when I get those I will send those.