Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sister McKee's message to the Missionaries

Dear Friends and Family,
Yesterday we were holding a missionary planning meeting in the hospital room. Sister McKee started participating in the planning meeting while wearing her passy muir valve on her trach. Her insight was so special that I asked her to speak to the missionaries on a quick voice mail. I expected only to hear her say something like , I love you and work hard. You can only imagine my surprise when she shared with them this message. She used all of her energy and spoke as if she was in front of the pulpit. The amazing thing was that her tone and voice came across the telephone as if there was no trach or valve. We are all in awe.  Another miracle and blessing for our missionaries. We hope that you enjoy.

Today one of our techs came in and said, "There is something special about this room and the people here. You all follow the Lord, don't you. I have worked here for 12 years and have never felt what I am feeling when I come down this hallway. I proceeded to tell her that she was feeling the spirit of the Holy Ghost testify in her heart that there was a message here in this room that was true.She agreed with that and took a wonderful book about Jesus Christ and the testimony of a second witness of Jesus Christ and asked if our missionaries would come to her home and teach her. She said, " I love the Lord and worship Him and I know that there is something more that I need to learn and know about Him. The Lord led me to talk to you. What a dear friend LaTonya has become with her four children.

We love you and thank you again for so many blessings and so much faith. We pray that all of you will feel the gifts of the spirit through a loving Heavenly Father. Through all of our trials, His promises are sure.

The William McKee Family

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Expect Miracles

Dear Friends and family,
We thank you again for so many prayers and so much faith. Everyday we feel the strength that comes from those prayers. We continue to experience miracles everyday and in our moments of weariness, we rejoice with gladness for the brightness and the hope that we feel in the gospel and that we feel for our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no doubt for each of us that He is in charge and that He molds us a bit every day. In Moroni 10:6-12 in the Book of Mormon it states:
6. And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that He is.
7. And ye may know that He is, by the power of the holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for He worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
8. And again, I exhort you, my  brethren that ye deny not the gift of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations for the Spirit of God unto men to profit them.
9. For behold, to one is given by the spirit of “God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;
10. And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same spirit;
11. And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another the gift of healing by the same Spirit;
12. And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;

We know that we have received many of these gifts but especially know that the gift of miracles has been granted our way. How grateful we are for that gift. We have been 37 day in the Intensive Care Unit most of which we were spent hoping that Sister McKee would make it through the day. Several of our nurses openly told us today that each day they wondered if she would be there the next day.
Well today we moved from Intensive Care Unit to a regular hospital room. The doctors all agreed that the last three days had been so successful that they felt like she could be on the normal floor. They assured us that if she had any major challenges that they would move her right back to ICU which is on the same floor. All of her numbers have looked good for the last two days.

She is walking supported by a walker and support people on both sides. All of the tubes have come out of her except for the stomach tube for feeding and medication and her trach. She has been breathing on her own for over four days now through the trach. With the passey muir valve on the trach she can speak and even participated in a missionary planning meeting tonight in her new room. She came up with a couple of great ideas for the missionaries so I had her speak through her passey muir valve on the phone and we sent a message from her out to all of them by phone. They will be shocked to her quick lesson of love and commitment. I was shocked tonight as she spoke in full sentences to them as if she was at the podium. We truly are experiencing a miracle.

Those of you who know her whit an humor will appreciate this moment in the day. Yesterday the speech therapist came to test her for a baseline of what her mind could do as she still believes that she has been in the hospital for 5-7 days. The therapist was asking her simple questions like groups of words and counting. She raised her pen up and said, “What is this?” Sister McKee replied, “a pen” . “What do you do with a pen.” “You write with it.” Then the therapist asked, “ What do you do with a broom?” Sister McKee boldly responded, “ You hand it to your husband and tell him to sweep the floor.” We all burst into laughter and the therapist looked up at me and said , “Well I guess this testing is finished.”

Her memory is coming back more every day  and her whit is remarkable as she works so hard now to get in on conversations when she is not resting. She still needs to take long rests in between therapy but her skills are improving daily. She has a very long road to travel as you all know but there is no doubt today that she will travel it. The Doctors tell me that by next Wednesday she will move to another hospital that does physical therapy 3 hours a day.

We still have a beautiful picture of Christ on the wall with our theme below it:
“EXPECT MIRACLES” . We still expect them and know that they will come.

Mom's Hospital Wall

Yesterday one of our very sweet nurses in ICU came in and knelt by Sister McKee. She was not assigned to us on this day. With tears in her eyes she said “It’s good to be around where you can feel the Lord. Even when your door is closed, it seeps under the door.” She proceeded to tell Sister McKee how special she was and what an impact she and her family had had on her and that she would always want to know what her future would bring. She acknowledged the Lord again and our faith. I signed a Book of Mormon and gave it to her with a tabernacle choir CD from our new friends in the Choir (Thank you). When I handed it to her Sister McKee reached up and grabbed it and pulled it to her and asked for a pen and signed it as if she had never been ill. She then proceeded to write something that was not at all legible (Remember Sister McKee has never written anything but a couple of letters at this point) When the nurse asked her what she had written Sister McKee replied, “This book is true.” The nurse then took the pen and wrote the words in the book,”This book is true”. We were all in tears as she took the book as our gift for her kindness and care. I thought to myself again, “ You helped to give Sister McKee her physical life back and now she is giving you “Living water”, the greatest gift that one could receive as she reads and ponders the truths there in. We love our nurses and must say it was like leaving family today even though we are still on the same floor.

Another male nurse pulled me aside and said how much he would miss us. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and told me that he is going to write our family’s name and address down in his wallet. Then he said with a big smile,” Whenever I get hurt or sick I will tell the people, call the McKee family first, then my wife. I know that the McKee’s have the faith and the power that heals.” I reminded him to keep reading and that we would be checking back with him.

The missionaries continue teaching several and we are so grateful for their caring kindness. Our missionaries are also working hard and producing grand results. We feel so blessed and know again that the Lord is in charge. We are so grateful that He chose to allow us to experience the miracle of Sister McKee healing and becoming stronger every day.

I asked another doctor today what her future looked like now that we will start working on  intense physical therapy. His reply, “ There is not a lot of research on what happens to people who experience this type of stroke as well as heart attack together. Most of them die and never make it to the therapy stage.” How grateful again we are for this miracle.

Thanks to you all again for being miracles in our lives. We love you and hope that you will be bold and continue to share the gospel with all that you interact with.

Love and appreciation,
William and RaNae McKee family
Tennessee Nashville Mission

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

HOWDY, and Merry Christmas, from Tennessee!!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week is proof that I never could keep up with Sister McKee, Here it is Wednesday and she always mailed out the family newsletter on Sunday. We continue our basic residence at the Intensive Care Unit, each day hoping to get enough strength and change to go to the normal floor but they tell us that we may be a little while yet as yesterday they just took 1 liter of fluid off of Sister McKee’s lungs. She is shuffling with help to the restroom now which is such growth but still has her uninary cath in as well as the stomach cath for feeding. Each day she begins to eat a bit more by mouth which we get excited for. She is still breathing through the trach but has not had the ventilator on for three days. “It’s a miracle” . She continues to breath on her own through the trach. This works very well until she tries to cough up whatever is on her lungs. That becomes most challenging. We pray every day that we can stay away from pneumonia. We continue to teach the nurses here and have become very good friends with the cleaning staff. Each have taken a Book of Mormon and a video about the church which we hope blesses their lives. One nurse from downstairs came up last night to report on her reading and how her brother is doing as well. Another came up and said, “ I just need a little more Jesus, so I’m here again”. How we love and appreciate their dedication and their willingness to serve in any way possible as well as learn the gospel. I have a whole new appreciation for the nursing profession and all that they do. There are many who are so tender and caring. They do more than a job. Of course each have fallen in love with Sister McKee and check often from several floors about her progress.

Last week we held Zone conferences in the mission. Jared stayed with Sister McKee during the day while I traveled and trained and spoke at the conferences with our two assistants. We put 8 conferences into 4 so that I would not be gone so long. We held one in Nashville, one in McMinnville, one in Hopkinsville and one in Goodlettesville. Each day was very special as we trained and then took time in the afternoon to examine the true meaning of Christmas and the Nativity. The Savior is the center for everything we do. Each of the missionaries expressed their love for Sister McKee and of course missed her training. She has become known as the “conference speaker” in the mission. She always does such wonderful presentation. We all miss her. I returned the hospital each night after the zone conference and then out again the next morning. I kept telling the kids, “Good luck with Christmas, Here is my credit card, I hope you each find something that you all like”. There is no way that we could shop this year. They were all so good and took each other and found gifts for the others so that each had some special things for Christmas. They made a special Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas dinner. Their maturity has been  such a blessing for me right now as well. Not only do they not have a mom in the home right now but they don’t have a dad either. I really have gained a deeper love and admiration for the strong commitment they have to family and  to the gospel. I don’t express my appreciation to them enough and want them to know how much I love them and what a wonderful help they have been, Those here in Tennessee and those in their homes in Idaho and Wyoming. Thank you.
On Friday was Sister McKee’s birthday so we had a little celebration for her at the zone conference. All of the missionaries sang to her over the phone and then that night as I returned all of the family came to the hospital and we had little birthday party in her room. She was not feeling so well though so we cut it short. It is always fun to have the family come up because they sing to her and others on the floor.
Steven and Rachel flew back in this week about two in the morning on Wednesday. What a blessing to have them here to help. Jared and Brittany have stayed for three weeks now. Jared has been a wonderful blessing as he does physical therapy for his mom each day and Brittany is keeping up with so many things at the Mission Home. I really appreciate the fresh white shirts as I sleep in most of my shirts now at the hospital at night. One of our male nurses said to me one day, “Do you ever change out of your suit Mr. Bill?”  It gave me another opportunity to explain to him about the life and schedule of a missionary. He is reading the Book of Mormon.

Kylie is also here on her Christmas break. She has been a wonderful help as well with so much happening. As I mentioned all of the children worked together to keep the Christmas tradition of a candlelight dinner on Christmas eve. Angie even made the 7 layer jello. They invited the missionaries over for the dinner while I was at the hospital and then later brought a beautiful plate up to me that we could warm in the microwave. The Mission Home is about 20 minutes away from the hospital if there is no major traffic. During the rush hours it’s about 1 hour.After their Christmas dinner they all came to the waiting area of the hospital and brought their blankets and games. They made hot chocolate, opened one Christmas gift (pajamas). Each of the girls somehow got everyone pajamas and had them all wrapped, I was impressed . We even got to wheel Sister McKee into the waiting area for a short period because there were so few in ICU. She was pretty worn though and did not feel like a party . After the quick pajama opening everyone put their pajamas on and spread blankets over the waiting area floor and camped out for the night. They even brought the mission projector and watched ELF on the wall during the night. I retired back in the ICU with Sister McKee . At five am the next morning I peeked in at them and it was the most glorious sight to see all of the children and two grand children all wrapped in their swaddling blankets for the night just to be close to their mom and dad in some way. IT will be a Christmas that we will never forget. Later that morning we went down and ate breakfast at the hospital cafeteria and then came back to the room and each opened two presents for Christmas around their mother. Sister McKee did not feel so well that day either so we let her rest and we started walking the halls of the hospital. We all began singing Christmas carols and handing out pass along cards. We traveled down every hallway and then decided to go to the other floors. We went to the second, third, fourth, fifth , sixth and seventh floor of the hospital down every corridor singing Christmas carols. The spirit was remarkable and the tears shed by many of the patients and family members surprised us. No one wants to be in the hospital at Christmas time.

We washed carefully at each corridor and did not enter into rooms just to keep the chance of bacteria down. Standing at each door was a most remarkable opportunity. Many asked if we were a church youth group. I responded, “I guess you could say that , the truth is we are a family and these children have their mother here on the 6th floor. She has been here over four weeks in ICU.  Their burden somehow seemed lighter. My thoughts went back to many times in my life when I became a victim about life and realized that the real blessing is to reach out to others no matter what the tragedy. We always have something to give even in our dark  hours.

Thank you for sending cards and notes. What a blessing that is . We love hearing from you. I will not be sending out Christmas cards this year but do hope that you will all know of our love and our appreciation for your wonderful cards. I am saving them all in a box so that Sister McKee will be able  to go over each one of them someday when her strength is back. She will cherish each one of them. We are so blessed to have loving family and friends. Your prayers, thoughts and kindness have lifted us. We only hope that we might pass it on.
We hope that each of you had a wonderful Christmas and that you will begin this new year with enthusiasm and joy. We love you,

Missionary Miracles:
“ We set a date with Pat, an investigator that told us on Wednesday that she had prayed to know if she needed to be baptized again, and she said she felt she needed to, so we explained the Restoration again and explained that this won't be just another baptism, but the proper baptism in to the only true and living church.”
“I wouldn't trade this experience for anything because it has changed me. My mission has saved my life. My mission has given me hope and courage. My mission means everything to me.”
“Oh on Monday night  we set a baptism date with Jabad, a younger martialese woman the elders had met with just a couple times.. and taught her husband a couple times too..”
“we set 2 baptismal dates with a family last night. we knew that as zone leaders we needed to set the example for the zone in setting dates and the Lord came through for us. our last appointment of the night we had a great spiritual lesson with a couple we were planning on dropping but as we got further into the lesson we realized they don’t need to be dropped, they need a date. we invited they committed and we will be following up with them frequently to get them into white.”
“I am working right now on putting myself out there like Sister McKee doing 20 seconds of insane courage.”
“ The restoration is so incredible and it is such and honor to be able to share it.”
“During church on sunday we had about 4 investigators there and one of them came up to us outside during priesthood and asked us about if he could get baptized. We said oh yes of course were the ones to ask. So we took him to the font and explained how it worked and set a date with him for January 5th. It was wonderful!”
“We were able to accomplish your challenge of setting a date!!! We went through one of our 3 old area books and one teaching record really stood out to me, it was for a man named Kenneth ….., he had been taught two years ago, and had a couple of dates already, but they always fell through.. So we decided to try the phone number on the sheet. It just rang and rang... Later that night we got a return call! He was excited to hear from us! We set up a time to go by and see him this past week, but he was sick with the flu.. So we werent able to teach him then.. But last night we decided to call him up to check on how he was doing. He was still sick, but the conversation quickly switched into a restoration lesson!!! And at the end we were able to set a date for Jan 19!! We are excited to continue to set more dates this coming week.”
“we have three dates set and one of them is a really awesome one,”
“we set 2 dates this week so we currently have 3 dates set. our branch is growing so much, it is so close to a ward!”
“This week has been amazing, we went tracting on Wednesday and taught 13 lessons in one day. We only tracted 2 small streets but almost everybody was home and we taught them on their doorstep. Most of them responded positively and accepted a return appointment and a Book of Mormon. (Speaking of which, the Book of Mormon is such an awesome way to learn how to better keep our word) All together we taught 39 lessons this week and found 10 new investigators. Pat …. came to church and she is working on her WoW issues and will be baptized soon! Such a great Christmas so far”
“ We had a BAptism on Saturday for Cynthia ….. and it was a good Baptism, this trully was a miracle Baptism we never really saw this one coming. First time we knocked on her door man she was really not that interested in learning or even listening to us that evening, but we had a really good visit with her and she allowed us to come back and teach her more,”
“ The Baptism was great and she felt really good after receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday at Sacrement meeting, it just brought tears to my eyes as i saw this lady walking up to the front to get confirmed and i am so grateful that we did not just give up on her that first night. Miracles are really happening in our Mission, please send my love to the wonderful Sister McKee”
“WE SET DATES yesterday with Dallas for the 29th of this month and and we set another one Today with Eric … for the 12th of January”
“Also we have 2 baptisms this week, Max ……. the blind man, and Ashley …… in New Hampshere”
“Sunday We set a Baptismal date With Jerrylee then on Tuesday we set a Baptismal date with a 17 year old Dalton ……. This week has been a week of miracles we taught 35 other lessons! That's the most we have ever taught! We devoted our week to finding and teaching we taught 35 others and found 10 new investigators. It was an amazing week!”
“ We set two dates this past week and look to set 2 or 3 we have planned for this week!”
“if  he wants to change he said yes, What do i need to do? so we commited him to be baptize he said when i can do that?... we set a date right there... for January 12, 2013...”
“we  are on a quest to set a date every single day! we are always looking for opportunites to set dates. we set 2 last week and we are looking forward to setting more!”
“but this week we taught 40 lessons! That's the first time ever I've taught 40 lessons in a week. I honestly didn't think it was possible. We've met some amazing part member families, and individuals. I look forward to teaching them. I've found that sitting down and just simply reading the Book of Mormon with people really invites the spirit into lessons, plus there is a ton of doctrine we can teach as we read the different stories. One lady mentioned how much peace she felt as we read 3 Nephi 11 with her. Then she felt it again a few nights later as we watched the restoration DVD.”
“We were able to set two miraculous dates yesterday in a way we didnt even expect. It was amazing.”
"Vision without effort is daydreaming,
Effort without vision is drudgery,
Vision with effort is TRIUMPH."           -Thomas S. Monson

“Grace's baptism is on Saturday.”” We also have a baptismal date set with Vickie”
“We met a family of 7 to teach out knocking doors!  They agreed to have us teach them.  We have an  appointment with them tonight!”
“The people that we brought to church actually completely rejected us the first time we talked to them a few weeks ago. But then earlier this past week we walked by and saw them putting up Christmas decorations and so we went and offered to help and they declined but we got to talking and after getting rejected once again to share our message with them i offered to come and share a Christmas message with their family and they accepted our offer. SUCCESS! So we set up an appointment and when we went over and talked to them she said that God had led us to her. It shocked me when she said that because they rejected us twice before they let us come in. So we shared Luke 2 with them and bore testimony and they committed to come to church before we even asked them!
Miracles happen all the time, especially when we set a goal and do our part and watch the whole thing unfold as the Lord works through us. Its amazing how this work is done.”
 “ I am learning that here in Tennessee I have a capacity to love like I never have before.  I am grateful for the opportunity to love strangers.  I hope that love can grow as I strive to bring others to Christ and to have a stronger relationship with our God. “
“ They had three baptisms on Saturday, these three kids, and because these three kids got baptized, they are reactivating their dad and their grandparents and their mom is probably going to get baptized too”
“We had dinner with the Bishop our first night here and have been working with him and his counselors well already, we started off putting together and organizing our area book, and quickly got a ward list and the 15 less active rescue list, we've made dinner appts with most those la's already its great!! the people and the ward is so wonderful to us, and the relief society and young womens are sooo excited we're here, and im so excited to work closely with them too!! There is one amazing family that i cannot wait to see there baptism...”
“We have had a boom hit here and have investigators and even a part member family of 5 tell our Bishop that she wants to get baptized!! Miracles are out there President and my companion and I are seeing them. This past week we had 6 investigators at church a few of which were new faces and was there first time in our building.”
“The best part about this part member family of 5 they keep referring us to more and more of there friends on a daily basis. There is plenty to do here and we are grateful for the opportunity. I go back to something you taught me at one of my early zone conferences when I had just came out on the mission and that is that the Lord will give more work to those He trusts!”
“We set a date with Courtney!=) It was a powerful date too. She will be getting baptized on January 12.”
“ We have a family we plan on setting a date with here this week, a friend they referred us to,  and another referral from a member!  a total of 6 Baptismal dates we expect this week and next week!”
“ we had a 32 lesson week and got 5 new investigators!!! That has never happened to me before. And my testimony of tracking is rekindled because that is how we got three of those investigators!”
“ and i found out in the scriptures that it says do not fear 33 times and i was shoked, so i have been trying to overcome all fear.”
“ Last night we were able to set 2 dates with a couple we are working with. It's for January 19th and they have a wedding date for Jan 11th. This couple is awesome with so much potential. They just recently had a baby last week and are wanting to raise her in the Gospel. They are such a great miracle!”
“ All 3 of our current dates are with Part Member Families! It is awesome!!!”
“ Chester is getting baptized! After 5 years he is finally making the covenant with God! I love this work President!”
“ We had a baptism a week ago and i feel like it has sparked a flame here among the members and i know we can turn this area into a baptizing booming area.”
“We have had miracles together this last week. We found 8 new investigators, and we set a baptismal date with a boy who is part of a part-member family. His name is Bryan ……. He will be baptized the 27th of December. Christmas miracle. We are working to turn a hard area into a land of miracles. Day by day the Lord is helping us to be humble and work hard.”

President and Sister McKee , Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa,
Jared , Brittany (Ethan and Kason), Steven and Rachel, Kylie, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, Destini

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas to Remember

It’s 5:00 am on Christmas morning. I have been thinking of how many Christmas mornings that I try to convince our children to sleep in so that they can really enjoy the day and be rested. This morning we are following our normal routine with a 5:00 am wash rag bath, suctioning and cleaning of the trach, and tube feeding meds. Tomorrow we will have been in the ICU for 5 weeks. It still seems like a one day dream that goes on and on. I walk down the hallway and remember that this day is different, It is Christmas Day , the celebration of our Saviors birth.
Desi, Kylie, Rachel, Steven, and Kiara at the foot of Mom's chair 

 Families gather, open presents, eat , read out of Luke 2, sing carols, pray and sometimes watch a movie. We always used to have a big slumber party down stairs and no one could come up until Sister McKee said it was Ok. She would hold the video camera and then say, “This is Christmas morning……” As I pear into the waiting room I am reminded that it has become our downstairs. There on the hard floor our 7 our ten children, two wonderful daughter in laws and two grandsons all spread across the floor each wrapped in a blanket. Tears fill my eyes as I am reminded once again of family traditions and how important these moments are. I reflect on us reading together in that waiting area last night from Luke 2 and talking about the simplicity of the Nativity, the most beautiful story ever told. The Savior of the world being born in a lowly stable. For years we have kept up another tradition of setting up a nativity in front of our businesses with live goats, sheep and donkey. We gently wrapped baby in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.
This year I am peering through the glass of the waiting area at those sweet children each on a tile manger wrapped in swaddling blankets so that they could be close to their mother and father on Christmas morning. My mind goes back to that manger again, what it must have been like knowing that you were bringing God’s son to the world and delivering that child in a stable. So simple , so pure and yet it changed the world. I am reminded about the shepherds abiding in the field. Such a simple life style and yet the angels visited them and gave them the precious information, that the Savior of the world was being born and that all mankind would be saved through Him. It reminds me again that great things can happen in very small ways, Alma 37, 6,7. It was established with the birth of the Savior and continues to be taught over and over by the Lord. Small and simple things create miracles.

Merry Christmas from the waiting room in  Nashville, TN

Looking again at our family simply sleeping on the floor in the waiting area last night, bringing up their own hot chocolate mix, watching “elf” on the wall, using the missionary projector, opening up our Christmas pajamas that the children went out and bought themselves this year somehow makes it all OK.
This will be a unique Christmas as they wake up and file into the hospital room. It will be simple but loved filled and pure. We will spend the morning gathered around Sister McKee and then walk the halls singing Christmas carols to others that are here on this precious day.
Sister McKee is still in critical condition, She had a liter of fluids drawn from her lungs yesterday with a very long needle. We are battling to make sure that she does not get pneumonia. She is dealing with nausea in a major way on this Christmas morning which complicates so much. She continues to progress and works every day to do those “simple” things to bring about success. We get excited for those “simple” things that produce miracles. She “simply” held a toothbrush to her mouth today and took a couple of swipes, “simply” took some assisted steps across the room, “simply” played a few one note melodies on the keyboard yesterday, “simply” lifted her spoon to her lips a few times to eat. “Simply” speaks a few words through her passy muir valve on the trach. All these “simple” things are producing a miracle. The real miracle is that we have her with us on this Christmas Day. The eternal miracle is that the Christ child was born this day and the world changed discovering that He is the Savior of the world, He has atoned for our sins, He was resurrected and gives to us that hope that all mankind will be resurrected and be able to live with our loving Heavenly Father. He has restored His gospel on this earth that all may return back to Him. He came to this earth in such a “simple” way produced a miracle that will change the world and change each of us each day as we turn to Him.
Thank you again for your prayers and faith,

Merry Christmas from the William McKee family   

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Do We Trust Him?

Three Aaronic Priesthood young men(teenage boys) just came into the ICU carrying with them “the Lord’s Supper”. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about their commitment. They had driven over 30 minutes to the hospital to bring the sacrament to us and to fulfill their Priesthood responsibilities. It is Christmas time and the weekend. They did not have to do this but I could see in their eyes that they know who they are. They know that they have been called by God to watch over the members of the congregation, to care for those in need, to make sure that all have the opportunity to keep the covenants that we have made to “follow the Savior” , “to have His spirit be with us always” and to utilize the atonement in our lives. I was reminded again why the Lord calls young men and young women to accomplish His work. They are so diligent, so loyal and obedient, so valiant, so faithful.

I am grateful again for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the way that it teaches our young people to stand strong in a turbulent world. We often tell our missionaries that the Lord trusts them so much. He called them to represent Him. He called them and set them apart from the world. He put His name on a name tag that they carry and we go out and teach as His true representative. He trusts us so much. The real question is, “Do we trust Him?” Do we trust that He will do all of the things that He said HE would do. Do we Trust that He will bless us with ALL of the blessings that HE has promised us. Do we trust that “His way” will be better than “our way”. Over the past 33 days in the ICU , I have come to trust the Savior in  a whole different way. I am learning that His love is deeper than I have ever understood before.

While assisting Sister McKee with food today, I was reminded once again of the Savior’s love for us and His deep desire that none of us hurt or suffer but also His deep desire that we all grow and become like Him. I watched her shake and struggle to hold a plastic spoon and wanted so badly to just take the spoon and put the food on it and put it in her mouth but I knew that if I did then she would never grow and be able to do it for herself. She would not progress to the next stage and partake of all the blessings that are hers. I wanted her to have that immediate gratification of tasting that warm food in her mouth and knew that she needed the energy with every bite. I could also see that she would not reach her true potential if I did not allow her to struggle and so I would put the food on a spoon or fork and “invited” her to lift it to her mouth. I cried inside as she would take the plastic spoon and just about get the food to her mouth and then see it spill down the front knowing that we would need to start that process all over again and that her food was getting cold.
I realized how the Good Shepherd sets us up for success over and over again and weeps when we fail and rejoices when we succeed. He knows that if He takes away these opportunities for growth then we will never “become like Him”. Just as I have sat by Sister McKee’s side through this challenge, the Savior sits by our side to rescue us only when we can do no more. He will weep as we fail over and over practicing and preparing ourselves to become more and more like Him. He will also rejoice as I rejoiced when Sister McKee put a spoon full of food in her mouth and successfully chewed it for the first time. She took 7 shuffles from the bed to the chair today while being held up on each side. This was monumental. She played a hymn today  with one finger on the keyboard that we brought in. Each day we make tiny steps of progression. Each step toward success leaves her worn and tired and in need of rest for several hours but she is working on something every day. She is now wearing a patch over one eye to see if that will help her double vision and dizziness, Her temperature is down still and her breathing numbers look great. She has gone two day without the ventilator which I think is monumental. She used to tell people that she “joggled” in the morning every day, now I can tell them that she “shuffles” in the morning every day. I asked her this morning if she had any questions and she said, “ Will I ever be normal?” I assure her that she was normal and yes that over time “all that she desired would be hers because of her determination and faithfulness”. She is becoming more and more aware. Thank you again for your faith and prayers. We are still in need of all. We “acknowledge the Lord in all things”.  

The William McKee family

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Hero takes baby steps:

I love my Dad's favorite scripture: Alma 37:6-7, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.." As a friend mentioned to me today, Who would have thought we would see this scripture really come to life? 
Within the past 4 weeks I, and my family, have gone from not taking an eye off of my mom-- anxiously awaiting any movement, an eye twitch, her tongue move, etc. --to listening to her play "Happy Birthday" on the keyboard, talking to us, and eating real food.
"Happy Birthday" by Sister McKee

To see this was, indeed a small and simple thing, but it was such a great, great thing for my Mom. My mom is my hero! To suffer a heart attack and 2 strokes and be able to have the strength and  determination to work hard and continue to grow stronger. I don't know how her and my Dad do all they do, but what I do know is that I was blessed with amazing parents. 
Chords by Sister McKee

I know that this is just a small step for my mom. She still has a mountain to climb, and I know she will climb it. And she will climb it with a smile! My family and I have been so blessed, and continue to be as we see Heavenly Fathers plan, for us and my mom, unfold each day. Thank you for you all of your prayers. The power of prayer is incredible, and I know that God hears all of those. Thank you for continuing to pray as we all know this is a long journey for Sister McKee. As I left her hospital room last night, she told me, "Drive safe." I'm greatful for the love she shows me, and lessons she teaches even in her hospital bed. 

"Let us never despair, for the work in which we are engaged is the work of the Lord. It has been said, “The Lord shapes the back to bear the burden placed upon it." President Thomas S. Monson

"When the Saint go Marching On" by Sister McKee

Angie McKee

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sister McKee!

Today is Sister McKee’s birthday (Dec.21, 2012) We have been in the ICU now for 32 days. This week Sister McKee has seen some improvement and when I talked to her about zone conferences happening this week she motioned to me to go to them. So I have been gone during the day to zone conferences and drove immediately back to her in the evenings. Jared (our son) has stayed with her during the day and is doing consistent physical therapy with her which has helped so much. The movements that he has been doing with her each day steadily builds her strength and today she was actually able to stand for a few minutes after being helped up. It was a miracle to see her supporting her own weight for a tiny minute. She was able to shuffle a few tiny steps while in the upright position.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

We are experiencing a miracle today as they took the ventilator off her for  over 12 hours. They capped her trach tube and she was able to talk which was a new experience. She could communicate her needs to us which was wonderful. Jared called me at the Zone conference. Of course I left quickly to answer the phone assuming that something tragic had happened. He held the phone to Sister McKee’s mouth and she said, “I love you”. Tears filled my eyes when I realized what had just happened. I love her as well especially as she fights this tremendous battle of coming back from these strokes and heart attack. Her drive is monumental and her determination so strong.

After that they brought her in a meal and tonight she ate some of her first real food. She managed very well chewing the food and swallowing it especially with the trach in place. She only ate a few spoonfuls but again it was monumental. There are many lapses in her thinking at times but it is hard to tell what is from the stroke and what is pure exhaustion. Each tiny thing that she does produces pure exhaustion .

All of the children came to the hospital tonight to host a birthday party for her. Angie brought over a key board from my office and Sister McKee  actually played “happy birthday” with one hand, a monumental miracle. She also played “when the saints come marching in”. I asked her if she could remember how to play the piano and she replied, “kind of”  . She could also play a scale with one hand. We will leave it here and keep it over her chair so that hopefully her music will come back to her. Jared believes that as we introduce things to her and expect her to follow through that she is learning new pathways from past information. Each day she picks up more and more. Each of these things are miracles to us an daily we are experiencing the hand of the Lord in her behalf. As we made phone calls to those of our family that are back in ID, we let Sister McKee speak to them. As they mentioned how well she had been progressing, Sister McKee said back, "That's debatable." She was speaking a lot today which was such a blessing. As Jared, Angie, and Aubrey said goodnight with one last happy birthday wish, Sister McKee replied, "Happy Birthday to you, too." Jokingly, Jared replied that it wasn't their birthdays, to which she replied, "Well let's pretend." It is so great to see her fun personality come out. We thank you each again for your love and your constant support while Sister McKee remains in the ICU still. Tonight she is having a bit of a struggle with breathing again and will need to have a treatment for her lungs but she is resting peacefully. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your constant concern, prayers and support. We love you and thank the Lord again for all who are helping and especially those who are helping to bring our adult children out here to see their mom. Thank you.

The William McKee family

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"THEN will I make weak things become strong..."

One of our favorite scriptures in the mission field comes from Ether 12:27 where the Lord says, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
This scripture has often been a blessing for our new missionaries as they arrive often thinking that they are very weak and that they cannot do this. The Lord promises so much to us and we need not be afraid when we believe that we are weak.
Today is our 28th day in the Intensive Care Unit. We have been here over one month now and it looks like we may be spending Christmas this year in the ICU based on what the doctors are telling us. The good news is that we are seeing a tiny bit of progress each day and in our own way seeing physically “weak things become stronger”. Each day Sister McKee works so hard to help her body become stronger. She is fully aware of everything and every now and again I see her personality come through loud and clear amidst the discomfort and pain. She is working on respirator trials every day and is now up to 7 hours a day without the respirator, breathing on her own through the trach. After several hours the energy that it takes to breath on your own just becomes too much for her but she is working harder and harder each day to stay off of the respirator. You would not think that breathing could produce a full sweat but that is how hard she works on it.
Jared is still here. He is a physical therapist and works each day with her in little and big ways. The nurses all have bonded with him and tell me that he is such a blessing for Sister McKee’s recovery. Today we were able to lean her forward and sit on a commode for a short time period. This is also a first and is seldom possible. At times she puts weight on her feet and actually appears to stand for a moment with three people holding her in place. Each time that we do this we know that “weak things will become stronger”. She was introduced to ice chips for the first time yesterday. Can you imagine feeling the ice in your mouth and throat after going four weeks with no liquids or food there and over two weeks with your mouth propped open night and day. She passed the ice chip , swallowing test and so today they let Kylie and I give her a half of popsicle. That was a pleasant first as well. She seemed to manage it well which is not always possible with the trach at first. She also mastered holding a pen today for a few minutes and wrote several letters on the board in her lap. We are hoping with time that she will be able to write. In the meantime we have become very good at reading lips as from time to time she will mouth words to us. Yesterday they downsized her trach tube from and 8 to a 6 which is also part of the plan to hopefully remove it someday. This has made it more difficult for her to breath today but she is working at it. Eventually they will cap the trach so that she can talk. She continues to move her hands and feet and can even shrug a shoulder now.

Kylie and Angie Singing with the Hermanas to Sister McKee

President McKee, Kylie, Angie, Hermanas Harper, McNab,
Garcia, McCalvy, Kamp, y Smith

We have zone conferences this week and so I attended part of one yesterday and spent the rest of the time with her in the hospital. Jared was able to be with her while I was gone. Today we held our zone conference in Gallatin so Jared stayed with her during the day and I will be here tonight. 8 of the Spanish Sister missionaries came to the hospital after zone conference tonight to visit and sing to her. This livened her spirits to hear these sweet sisters sing in Spanish to her. On their way out, Sister McKee mouthed, "Next time I see you I will talk."
 Elder Payne and Elder Andrew also came to the hospital to bring paper work for me to sign and they sang her a couple of songs. What great Elders they are to carry the work when so well while we go through this ordeal.
Thank you again for constant faith and prayers. We love you and love the Lord. We know that He will take our personal weaknesses and make them strengths as we trust in Him, lean upon Him and follow Him in obedient ways.
The William McKee family

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

HOWDY!! December 18, 2012

Dear family and friends,
We are still experiencing wonderful weather in Nashville as we get closer to Christmas we have only seen a few nights of frost. I have two beautiful hanging baskets that I bought for $10.00 last summer that reminded me of McKee’s so I just had to get them and I pull them in every night and put them out in the day. I am determined to have them hanging there for Christmas this year and send a picture to Jim and Clay.
It is hard to believe that we are actually two days away from being in the Intensive Care Unit for four weeks. I remember years ago when Sister McKee was close to delivering a baby and she would wake up every morning almost surprised and say, I’m still here(thinking that somehow during the night she would have delivered that baby and wake up in the hospital). I have a tiny sense of that as I wake up every morning on my cot and say, “we are still here”. IT has become a very long day and yet I have always believed that we would experience miracles. Sister McKee is a miracle and constantly amazes the doctors (Sometimes for good and bad). This time she is going to amaze them for good, I really know that she will. Each day I see her doing little things that I have not seen before.
On Monday they took the drainage tube out of her head. Dr. Li the brain surgeon feels like her swelling has stopped and that the brain is settling in. There is still a small drainage from the back of the head but he did take all of the stitches out and today he took the staples out from the top of her head. He will not let us put anything on it except water so you can imagine what that would feel like after 4 weeks. I try to brush and comb threw it every day, but I am sure that it does very little justice as there is a six by six inch square in the front that is shaved and there is a much larger rectangle that goes clear up the back of her head that is shaved.
Monday we received 14 new missionaries. Jared stayed at the hospital while I drove over and met them. They are a strong group. When we went down to get their luggage there was none. Every other traveler on their plane got their luggage but none of the missionaries luggage was on the plane. We waited for an hour and half for it to come on the next plane. I did a quick training with the missionaries and said this is a great finding place so spread out and see how many people you can visit with and get addresses or hand out a Book of Mormon. It was a wonderful finding opportunity right away even though they are always tired but they got the message loud and clear about what we do in the Tennessee Nashville Mission. They came back with big smiles on their faces and excitement as they reported how many people they committee to teach or share with other missionaries.
We traveled to the Green Hills building instead of the Mission Home and had a dinner there and then I interviewed all of them. While I was interviewing them my assistants did a training for them as well as Elder and Sister Hunt from the office. They traveled to President and Sister Watson’s house and stayed there that night while I went back up to the hospital. The next morning the assistants took them to the Franklin building and did a three hour training for them while I was at the hospital and then I came and spoke at the transfer meeting. There is always a lot of excitement at the transfer meeting but I must say there was not the same enthusiasm without Sister McKee. We will be anxious to get her back. After the transfer meeting I interview 12 of the missionaries who are going home ( I actually only got 7 done) and then they went to the temple. While they were at the temple I went back to the hospital and then returned back to the Watsons at 9:00 pm that night to finish interviewing the other five. We will miss this group of missionaries. Jared stayed at the hospital that night and I got up early and drove to the airport to tell them all goodbye. After our farewells I went to the office with the assistants to update the transfers so that all can get their mail on time.
During this time Scott , Steven, Mike and Michelle flew home on different days so we made a few more trips to the airport. It was such a blessing to have them here. Jared had to fly to California to a training for his work and then he flew back to TN so he and Brittany are still with us. Kylie flew in after her finals the week before so that she could be her for Elder Nelson’s visit. We now have Kylie, Jared and Brittany and the four girls here. We loved having all of our children be here but are sad that it was for a tragedy and not for a great celebration. There is nothing like family support when things get a bit difficult. We thank each of you for your sacrifices and help.
We received the most beautiful letter from Elder Nelson following his visit here. Can you believe that he is 88 and skiis with his grand children every Monday. It was such an honor to meet with him and share that personal time in the hospital. These Brethren are so busy and yet they take the time for people in such important ways. We are so blessed to be led by such great men.
We feel so blessed to have so many prayers in our behalf and know that the Lord is walking with us through this interesting trek. Sister McKee is working so hard to do what she can to return to us. She is moving her hands, will wave to us at times, grip our hands, push against our hands with her feet, lift her eyebrows for yes. She is still on the ventilator but they are taking it off and she is breathing through the trach for 3-6 hours a day. Occasionally I see that light in her eye that reminds me that she is really here. I love it. As she comes back more and more she feels the pain in her neck and in her stomach from the feeding tube and the trach as well as her throat. She has had no liquids in her throat for four weeks. They lift her with a hoist from the bed into the chair much like the one that they used for Grandma McKee. She is such a good sport and is working so hard for tiny movements. We are all so proud of her and know that she and the Lord will produce a miracle. Thank you again for your faith and prayers.

 MISSIONARY MIRACLES from this week:
“ Were able to find more concerns of a PM family and were working really closely with the Bishop to help the Husband be worthy to Baptize his wife.”
“!!! The meeting/revelatory experience with Elder Nelson was so great! I realized that I didn't have any notes or idea about what Elder Hymas said, I only paid attention to thoughts from the Spirit.”
“ After that we had our baptism at 4:30 for Brittany. We had 10 investigators at the baptism it was incredible,” .
“ I loved the Elder Nelsons visit on Saturday. When he came, a flood of the spirit came into the room, testifying that he is an Apostle of the Lord. I know that he is. I got a lot out if it, one of my favorite parts though, was the song that your family sang. I have such a testimony of small and simple things. Last night, our friends we went to visit weren’t there, and we felt like we should knock on a few doors in the area. I realized that out of all the things the Lord could command me to do, (move mountains, ext) Knocking on a door is such a small and simple thing, but then I thought of the great things, and eternal changes that have happened in people’s lives because of a door that I knocked on, and I realized that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. I love the Lord and this work. I do not know a lot of things, but I do know that this work is true, and that Christ’s church has been restored to the earth.”
“ He is starting to understand more and more. Last night we taught him the Plan of Happiness and invited him to be baptized to cleanse his sins and enter the gate to eternal life. He accepted a baptismal date of January 5th!”
“ We set a Baptismal date last night with our neighbor Jerrylee!! For January 5th! He really want to change his life and he told us that every time that we talk to him and after we leave he just feels amazing.”
“We had a great week!! we had a baptism and 3 new investigators and some really powerful lessons!”

“This past week was amazing! Jeffrey was baptized and we were able to listen to an Apostle of the Lord! It doesn’t get much better than that! Jeffrey's baptism went really well. The spirit was so strong there and he said that he felt so good after being baptized! It is amazing to see what the Atonement of Jesus Christ is able to do and what is allows people to become!”
“ Last week I was filled with the Spirit. There were so many amazing experiences, blessings, and meetings that I was able to be a part of. ZLC was great! I learned so much! Being at the hospital with you and Sister Mckee was indescribable. The spirit was so strong. Thank you for your testimony and your faithfulness. So many spiritual eternal truths were renewed in that visit. There was a very special feeling that day. I know that Sister Mckee will be able to continue to progress. Sister Mckee and your family are constantly in my prayers.”
“This Saturday we had the baptism of Katie …. which went perfectly! There was a small group of members that came to the service, which was perfect for her,”
“This week has been a pretty good one. We taught a total of 29 lessons, set 2 baptism dates, had a baptism, were taught by an Apostle, and put up Christmas lights in our apartment. I say that's a pretty good week in my book.”
“Jeffrey's Baptism went over quite well. I wish there would have been more YSA there, but I think that all in all there were about 20-25 people. It was very well organized and the spirit was definitely there. Jeffrey is getting confirmed next Sunday at church, and has asked me to confirm him. That Is such a great blessing.”
“ I love this area and my companion. Second We had Five baptisms in our district this week! I got to do 4 baptismal interviews on the way home from Elder Nelson. Guadalupe was so ready for baptism it was so touching to see someone so excited and prepared to enter into the fold of God, the whole time she kept testifying she wants this for her family and she knows all the commandments are for her benefit.”
“We had a ward Christmas dinner on Friday evening, We were able to have 9 investigators present. A family of 5, the father of the family is a Church of Christ pastor. He later expressed that he felt very welcomed! He and his family got right into knowing the members of the Church and felt the love! The members there went out of there way to shake his hand and get to know him. It was really neat to see when the primary got up to sing to us, that Jason's (the Pastor) youngest child went up there with them and sang with them.”
“Carly … getting baptized on Friday!!!!!! I'm so excited!!! “
“We are planning on challenging the Johnson family to baptism this week!”
“This week was great!!! We were able to have a wonderful baptism here in Lebanon the members here were so excited”
” I will do what ever the lord and our heavenly father ask me to do and what ever you ask me to do president just as Nephi when he said "I will go and do the things the lord has commanded"
“ I would like to share with you an experience I had last night with Tony ….. The man we are teaching who lost a son to suicide recently. "we had a great experience with Tony …… tonight. We found out he has been reading the Book of Mormon and is enjoying it. When it was time to go I said a prayer for Tony and his family and the spirit was strong. It moved him to share his testimony of trusting Christ. I shared with him from the doctrine and covenants about Joseph Smith's prayer to God in Jail. How he felt that God had forsaken him. I told Tony of God's Response to that prayer, that those that endure suffering well will know true peace and joy. Tony pointed out that even prophets and good people have to suffer. I acknowledged his wisdom and shared a quote from Jeffrey R Holland about salvation not being a cheap experience. When we consider the incomprehensible pain Jesus felt it is no wonder it is not easy for someone to follow him. We will have to feel suffering as followers of Christ but it is his eternal promise that if we endure those sufferings well we will know peace and joy . Tony responded very positively to this and told me out of all the churches he has felt comfort from, the LDS church is the one that always seems to be there for him the most. I testified that our message is that we are Christ’s church and that He sends us out to find those who love Him and bring them to His fold. I told him that as servants of Christ we could feel of Christ’s love for Tony and his family. And because we follow a being who will always love him and be aware of him we will always be there to invite and comfort and share.”
“And here comes this lady, and she says, "can I just tell you how nice it is to see you young men out here doin' the Lord's work and looking so great in your white shirt and ties, the Holy spirit is just so strong around you two!" So we start talking to her and we were able to get all of her information so we could add her on facebook. We gave her two Book of Mormon's and our information.”
“ I love the gospel and this is the best mission ever! I will continue to live the gospel the rest of my life. …… I've become converted unto the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“ It was a great experience on Saturday to be able to shake a hand of an apostle and to be able to have him come to the mission and speak to us. I know that for me it was revelatory experience. I was able to write a lot in the margins.”
  • “My companion and I knocked a door and 15-year-old Sam, a Catholic, answered. His family was not home so we did not go in, but he agreed to have us over the following evening (tonight) for a visit and a blessing on their home. We feel very good about this family. We also felt that we hadn't done enough to teach Sam the gospel. I told my companion "if I could do it over again, this is what I'd time I see a young man I'm going to share the story of Helaman's stripling warriors with him. Not 30 seconds later we saw a young man, Teddy, walking down the street. Of course we told him about Helaman's stripling warriors! He was impressed by the story and agreed it would be important to have that kind of faith in today's world. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. Teddy actually knows Sam and is also Catholic. We prayed with Teddy on the street and he agreed to have us over for another visit. He also agreed to read more about the stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon. This experience means so much to me because it taught me how willing God is to bless us with good things when we trust him. The prayer of our hearts was immediately answered, and we were given opportunity to immediately do the good we had already committed to do.
  • Between Sunday School and priesthood meeting we were in the hall making phone calls, trying to get some of our friends to come to another ward's sacrament meeting. A man we had never seen walked in a set of doors nobody ever goes through. He told my companion that he has tried to visit the Church during the week but that it was always locked. He decided to come by Sunday. He requested more information about the Church and wanted to know when our meetings were. He was in a hurry and couldn't stay but agreed to have us over Tuesday for a visit. All my life I've heard stories about strangers walking into the Church. Now I finally have this story of my own to tell!
  • Two other people we met the afternoon following Elder Nelson's visit told us they had been "church shopping" for years. One has never found a church in town he's comfortable with; the other is growing dissatisfied with his church because it focuses on entertaining the crowds instead of teaching the gospel. Both committed to meet with us and visit the Church!”
“but Saturday afternoon and Sunday were loaded with giant miracles!!! We taught 15 lessons and found 5 new investigators in those two days! It seemed like EVERYBODY we talked to in those two days was prepared for the gospel. We ran into several people who had been searching for a church for a long time and hadn't been able to find one that "gave them the message" and we just happened to knock on their door or be in their neighborhood at just the right moment.... coincidence, I think not! I am so excited to continue to progress and to better myself.” .
“ we are still on track for macey and her sister being baptized.”
Mom and Dad, President and Sister McKee
Jared, Brittany, Kylie, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, and Destini ( Ethan and Kason)