August 19, 2012Hello to our dear Family and Friends,
It has been a great week here in Tennessee! The kids all completed their very first week of school this week (which includes all of the back to school orientation nights, etc. AND……and it was our official first week of early morning seminary again for the year. I don’t think any of us (certainly not ME!) have missed getting up at 5:00 am, but it is a good thing and we are grateful to have a seminary program here that is only about 3 miles away from our home.
About a week ago, I got an email from my 1st cousin, Barre & Karen Burgon’s (who live in Ogden , Utah) daughter, Stacey & her husband , Blake Nemelke who have moved here to Nashville while he attends school at Vanderbilt. They have a newborn baby and wrote to let us know they were here now living in Nashville. I was SO excited to hear from them and was hoping to be able to meet them but figured it would probably be months before we actually met up with each other. They live in the Bellevue ward which attends our building but meets earlier than we do. But, today at church they were there and we got a chance to meet them. What a sharp couple and a darling baby!!! I told them I may have to come over to visit to get my “baby fix”. It is fun to think we live in such a small world—especially within the church.
Because we didn’t have any official trainings or transfers this week, we were able to go out and spend a little one-on-one time with the missionaries in some companionship studies and then to some district meetings. That’s always a treat to be able to meet with them on a little more personal basis and to see how well they truly understand the concepts of missionary work.
We had an unusually great experience this week, as we had the privilege of having Elder Kopischke from the 1st Quorum of the Seventy here to speak to our missionaries. We picked him up at the airport on Thursday night and got a chance to visit with him that evening a bit before we started into our mission tour the next day. Elder Kopischke is from Germany and has recently been called to be an assistant to Elder Gonzales who is the General Authority over 19 missions here in the south. He has been called from the Area Presidency in Europe to come to serve in America. He called us from Germany and said that he looked at the 19 missions that he would be serving over and the spirit told him to come and visit our mission on the way to his area meeting in Memphis. It was such a great experience to learn from him.
We met with all 175 of our missionaries in two different groups. He asked if the girls would sing at both of the meetings so Aubrey was delighted to miss a day of school for the occasion! ;) Kiara and Destini didn’t dare miss a day of school yet. He started each meeting by asking all of us to take a couple of minutes and write down a couple of questions we have, that might be weighing on our mind, to which we would like to receive an answer. He told us that what we were doing was writing the agenda for the meeting. He then very powerfully promised us that if we “listened” during the meeting, that those questions would be answered—NOT BY HIM—but by the Spirit. He told us not to take minutes of the meeting, but to take “Spiritual Minutes” of what the Spirit was teaching us. We then proceeded with the meeting, I spoke briefly, then President did a great training, and the remainder of the time (this was a 3 hour meeting) was taken by Elder Kopischke. He was wonderful!. He did this in both sessions, but both meetings were totally different. In the first meeting he ended up answering some of the questions that missionaries had for him which was VERY enlightening. In the second session, he did some role plays with the missionaries in teaching them different ways to approach people about the gospel. And at the end of both meetings, he asked for a raise of hands as to who had gotten their questions answered during the meeting and 80-90% raised their hands. He told us to use this concept while inviting friends to church---to invite them to write down any questions they might have and then to promise them that they would be answered as they come to church. It was powerful.
He tells the story about how his parents who were LDS were living in East Germany decided that they would risk their lives or risk imprisonment rather than raise their family without the gospel. They boarded a train with no paperwork. His mother was 7 months pregnant with him. When crossing the border the border patrol (Communist) stopped the train and started pulling people out who did not have papers. They could hear people screaming in the car ahead and the car behind. When the officer came to their car he was suddenly distracted and the train moved across the border taking them to freedom. He has served as Branch President, District President, Area Presidency and now in the 1st Quorum of the Seventy. His life has been full of opportunity and miracles. He is truly a man of faith. (wm)
Elder Kopischke has 7 children and he and his family just moved to Salt Lake from Germany. He has one son in the MTC right now who is going to Greece. I thought OUR move was difficult with children, but he has a set of 17 year old twins that are somewhat challenged and trying to adjust not only to learning English, but fitting into the Utah school system. They reside in Farmington. He told us of some challenges they have had. He was so down to earth! We gave him the choice to go to a restaurant after we went home or to just stay here at home and fry some hamburgers. He wanted to just stay home with the family and relax. He was so much fun as he teased and interacted with the girls. He taught them to say “ ich dab leib schleib ” which means “I have love for you” and they have been saying that ever since. Unfortunately he had to be to the airport by 6:30 am on Saturday morning, so we weren’t able to spend very much time with him, but he will be at our Mission President’s Seminar in October so we are looking forward to that!
On Saturday, I took the girls back over to Centerville to record some more songs with Jim Troutner. He has been so good with the girls, I just know that before we are done, we are going to get him to come to church or listen to the missionaries. It has been so great having Kylie here and we are hoping that they can do a few more recording sessions before she goes back to Idaho. She has been such a great help and support to me, as are ALL of the girls. I couldn’t do what I do without them!!!!
President made a trip over to Murfreesboro where he had to speak at a baptism yesterday afternoon and then again at one later in the day in Smyrna. We have had quite a few dates called in again for this month and September. We are always looking for way to teach our missionaries to be a little more bold, yet sensitive in inviting people to hear the gospel.
We had a lesson on Wednesday evening with a young man in the mission home with the missionaries in our area. We had another family over for dinner tonight where the father is not a member. Angie actually did the entire dinner by herself!!! This man is a full-on Church of Christ man and comes from generations of Mormon haters. We were excited that he would even come over—knowing who we are and what we represent. We had a delightful discussion—as we asked him much about his faith, and came to a conclusion that there were actually many similarities in our religions. We ended up with the girls’ singing and it brought the Spirit SO beautifully into the room. Before long, we were all singing hymns around the piano and it was evident that they felt comfortable because they stayed around for a few more hours just talking!
President spent the day in Paris TN on Wednesday working with Alvin Travis our minister that is committed to baptism. His live wife just found out that her divorce is not final from a previous spouse and will not be able to meet before a judge until Sept 19th. He is so determined to get baptized but does not have another home for her to live in so we are working on several projects there. He went out with us to teach other investigators and they love him. He has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. He knows that it is true but now has no job since he was asked to leave his congregation. Satan is fighting him every step of the way but I know that he will make it as he commits to this new life change. We take so much for granted as members of the church. Those who are newly baptized go through so many sacrifices with family and friends and even work at times. We also have a Presbyterian minister coming up from Columbia next week to the Mission Home for dinner and FHE. HE is reading the Book of Mormon and loves it. If we can just get people to read and pray about the Book of Mormon they receive strong testimonies about this wonderful witness of Jesus Christ. They have been programmed for so many years that this Book is evil that most will not even read this record of Jesus Christ. Those who read and pray are so touched by the spirit because the people here are such spiritual people.
We are still teaching a group of Swahili up in Bowling Green. Two of the fathers have been baptized and 11 others are preparing to be baptized. They love the Book of Mormon . They are such a spiritual group of people. I handed a Book of Mormon to a woman on Saturday and said “if you will just read these 34 pages of what Christ said to the people he visited in America and pray about it you will know that it is true. I then wrote my number down and said, “Just be sure and invite me to your baptism after you do this.” She looked at me and smiled and said,”Ok I will do that.” The Sisters will be teaching her this week. Two of our missionaries were on the front page of the newspaper with the nicest article this week in Winchester, TN.(wm)
Some Missionary Miracles:1) One of the young women in the ward has been bringing her 15 year old friend Layla, to church with her for then past month or so. Layla has absolutely loved it, including young womens' activities and so on. Her love for the newly found church sparked an interest in her mother Jamie! Well this past Wednesday, Jamie agreed to meet with us at the church during mutual activities. That night we taught her and Layla about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The spirit was present and then we posed the question, "Will you follow the example of your Savior Jesus Christ, by being baptized on the 25th of August?" Layla smiled and nodded her head in aggreance. Then Jamie said softly, "Yes. Yes I will." Layla jumped with glee and hopped into the arms of her mother. They hugged each other, smiled and laughed, and shed many tears.
Jamie later informed us that she and her daughter were living with Jamie's boyfriend named Derrick Newstead. She told us, "Well he's not particularly interested in what you guys teach. He's a former member of the Jehovas' Witness. But he is supportive of whatever we choose to do. On Friday night, Derrick agreed to allow us into their home to have the next lesson. To our amazement and excitement, Derrick is the man! He's very nice, treats us like a couple of Bros, and has a burning testimony of his Savior. We felt that it would be appropriate to teach the Gospel of Christ with them that night. We taught about faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Derrick surprisingly was very interested and there seemed to be a light in his eyes as we discussed these eternal truths. A prompting came to both myself and Elder King. It was clear and concise, "Commit him to be baptized." So we rolled with it! We asked Derrik if he had taken upon himself a baptism that was like unto Christ's. He told us pf how he left the Jehovah's Witness and was baptized in the Baptist church about 6 years ago. He explained without hesitation, "I know I need to be baptized again. The last time I did it, it just didn't feel right. I didn't do it for the right reasons. I want it to be a more fulfilling and special experience."
Elder King and I looked at each other and we had the "green light" to go. We committed him, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" With confidence he said, "Yes."
Immediately Jamie and Layla looked surprised and shocked. Jamie turned to Derrik and asked with a shaken voice, "Really?" He then assured her and said with a smile, "Yes. This feels right."
The Spirit was so strong, that everyone in the room burst into tears, including the missionaries. At this moment the Spirit bore a special witness to me personally that this Gospel is a joyous one. That it truly blesses families and brings us all closer together as brothers and sisters of a loving Heavenly Father. We have a little over 2 weeks to get Jamie and Derrik married, but I know that they will do everything it takes to seal the deal and enter the waters of baptism. This church is true, and when people feel that, they are willing to do anything it takes to unite themselves with it.
2- We have been very blessed by the Lord this past week. Many things have come together that made last week great. Our baptismal date, Thomas, is progressing faster than I have ever seen before on my mission. He is literally a lesson ahead of us every time we visit him and he is on Mormon.org every single day to read scriptures and articles. His thirst for the Gospel grows every day and he will be ready for baptism this Saturday. We did the Stop Smoking Workshop with him and he has flawlessly followed it and now seems to be completely done with smoking!
We have such STRONG testimonies of this restored gospel of Jesus Christ. May we just share that with each of you as we close this email. Jesus Christ lives today. We know that! He is our Savior, our Redeemer and our advocate with the Father. He is there for each one of us. HE KNOWS US and He loves us. We know he has sent down prophets to earth, not just in days of old, but today as a way of being able to communicate those things that are important. It was so thrilling to be able to watch just the last few minutes of President Monson’s birthday party the other night. What a great man, who LIVES what he believes!!! The Book of Mormon is such a great book---I can’t imagine not reading out of it every single day of my life!!!
We love you all and thank each of you again for your great love and support to each of us. We love hearing those great notes from home---even if we don’t get you answered!!! We read them and they warm our hearts!!! We miss our wonderful family--especially those (almost 11) grandsons of ours!!! We are so proud of them in all that they do!!! . How we love and admire all that you are doing!!!!! Please know of our deep love and concern for each of you .
All our love,
President & Sister McKee, Dad & Mom, Grandpa & Grandma, Bill & RaNae………….
Kylie, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara and Destini