Monday, September 24, 2012

September 23, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
These weeks fly by so quickly it’s hard to remember what happened from the beginning of the week until today!  The weather here in Brentwood has been just perfect.  It did rain---and I mean it RAINED HARD on Monday and Tuesday of this week but the rest of the week it has been just perfect  It is getting cool enough that there is a hint of the leaves turning color here.  I’m excited for fall because the trees begin to look like fireworks throughout the hills!

To our wonderful children, we love and miss you.  We hope Grandpa McKee had a great birthday, yesterday.  We love getting emails of what is happening in your individual families.  We know you are all busy, AND we miss you terribly!! Thank you to those of you who have written—it means the world to us!

Last Monday we had transfers again.  We welcomed in 10 new missionaries 9 elders and 1 sister  and they are a very sharp group!  We got an elder and a sister from Idaho,  5 elders from Utah, 1 from Colorado, 1 from Nevada, and 1 from California.  Tonight we got our second “scream” from one of our new elders  that has called his 2nd baptismal date this very week.   These missionaries are going to do great here.  They arrived at about 2:30 pm and things just don’t even slow down at all until we take the missionaries out to the airport on Wednesday.

We had our usual dinner, testimony, and welcoming slide show on Monday night.  These missionaries usually get up between 2-3AM in order to catch their early morning flight, so we don’t have any trouble getting them to go to bed.  Bright and early the next morning, the assistants prepare them breakfast before we go out to Franklin for our transfer meeting.  It was a very big transfer meeting as there were many changes made in the mission.  I suppose change is always good, but it really messes me up.  I have to start memorizing new companionships and new areas all over again!!! 

After the trainings, the transfer meetings and a light luncheon there at the church for all of the departing missionaries as well as all of the senior couples who come to the temple session, President  interviews the departing missionaries,  Elder & Sister Sassers (our employment missionaries) do a short training for them on how to get a job, and the AP’s talk to them about using their missionary skills to become effective home teachers when they arrive home.  We then do an endowment session at the temple for all the departing missionaries.  We had 4 elders and 1 sister going home.  Then we brought them to the mission home for a dinner, testimony meeting  and an all night “ pachanga”. We basically end up singing around the piano for several hours and then WE call it a night.  Many of them still play games longer, but this is where I can tell I am getting old!  Morning comes all to early as we feed them, weigh their luggage and make it out to the airport generally before 6:00 am.   

About three or four times during the year, we are able to take all of our missionaries to do endowment sessions at the temple.  We started doing that this week where we have about 20 missionaries at the 9:00am session and then another at the 11:00 session. We do this on 4 different days so that we are able to take all 170 missionaries.  I, unfortunately was not able to go because Destini signed me up for a service project they were having at their school.  I have to say I was a little disappointed at not being able to go to the temple, but I was so impressed with this project.

You have to know that the area in which we live, Brentwood, is ranked as one of the top 10 cities in the nation for its wealth.  If you could see the homes here, you would know what I mean, they are mansions built on acres of manicured land!  But the people here may be wealthy, but they are very giving as well.  Every year, Scales Elementary School does a “CLOSET DRIVE”, where they ask all of the families that attend the school to donate clothes that are no longer needed.  For one week, people bring in garbage sacks of clothing to be donated to this project.  Children who attend Scales Elementary and their parents take the time to sort the clothing into sizes and articles.  Then the big project happened on Friday.

We all went to a school right in downtown Nashville that would be considered the “slums” of the city.  It was a very old school and most of the children there were African American and very, very poor.  We, Destini and I, signed up for a time to help out there.  I went in on Thursday and we organized tables with the clothing set on it.  There was a big gym that was just filled with tables, boy clothing on one side and girl clothing on the other. I have never seen so much clothing stacked high on each table in my life.   Each table had the clothing size marked and had items such as pants, play shirts, dress shirts, shorts, pj’s, ets.   And the same on the other side for the girls.  At the back of the gym were shoes, hats, costumes, winter gloves and hats, etc.

Friday was the big day!  Every classroom was given a specific time and one by one, every child in that entire school was introduced to a mom and their child from Scales, was given a great big sack, and then was able to go “shopping” for anything they wanted or needed.  We were instructed to put 10-15 items of clothing in the bags for each child.
You would have thought it was Christmas Day  for these children.  And in a way it truly was Christmas,  because the clothing that was donated was very nice clothing  (some even had the price tags still on them!)  Watching the look on these beautiful children’s faces as they were able to pick out anything they wanted just made me want to cry.  It was a most touching experience for both Destini AND myself.  

On Friday night, our good friends, the Tolks, invited us to the symphony at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.  We don’t  get out much, so we pre-arranged  to take our P day for this a couple of months ago.    We went with some other couples, a member of the Nashville Stake Presidency and his wife, and the relief society president of our ward and her husband.  It was just incredible!  There was a Russian Pianist, a beautiful 37 year old woman named Olga Kearn who was the most accomplished pianist I think I have ever heard.  It really was incredible! 

On Saturday morning, President drove to Madison with the AP’s and did a MTC Training with all of the young men in a ward there.  It was pretty impressive as well. They had organized the young men to all come in ready to serve a two day mission. We did trainings all morning and then in the afternoon they went out with 8 of our missionaries and visited less actives and non members in the area. Some of them taught as many as 11 lessons in one day. The youth will never forget the experience of going out with our missionaries and actually teaching and finding new people. On Sunday they spoke in church about their experience and then held a fireside with their parents.  

Saturday afternoon, we attended a baptism in Franklin of an African American woman who has been studying about the church for a few years.  It was a great baptism and it we had to chuckle  , the woman who spoke on the Holy Ghost was giving the most spiritual talk. She just kept explaining the importance of Baptism and the Holy Ghost going together and how important that was. The spirit was in the room so strong and then all of the sudden she said, “Well I guess the very best way to describe it is when you eat beans you just have to have cornbread, Baptism and the Holy Ghost are like beans and cornbread. You just cant have one without the other”. I leaned over to President and said, “We are truly in Tennessee. I don’t think I have ever heard that comparison before.” PresidentI interviewed this Sister earlier in the week and she has such faith. She had four of her unbaptized Sisters with her and a brother in law as well. I know that they felt the spirit.

Just as a side note, the member of the bishopric who conducted this meeting was Shane Troseth.  He reminded me so much of my Aunt Eva and Uncle Arnold Troseth’s family I had to ask him where he was from. (He actually looked very much like Roger Bliss!)   He smiled and said that originally his family was from Cornish, Utah.  He told me that there were originally two brothers that came from Norway and ended up going all the way to Utah and Idaho.  I told him about my uncle Arnold and he had no doubt that he was probably his grandfather’s brother.  Small world again!!!

Our  family had to leave the house at 6:00 AM Sunday morning to drive to Tomkinsville, Kentucky,  a 2 ½ hour drive to the north east of Nashville  to speak in a ward up there.  Such wonderful people we meet everywhere we go.
Well, here are some Missionary Miracles:
“The biggest miracle happened on Friday though while we were doing our "Weekly Planning session" My Companion  was texting Barbie seeing if we could meet up with her and her family sometime in the coming week. she said that we could. and we set a time to meet with her this week. at the conclusion of the conversation we always ask "is there anything that we can do for you" usually they say no but this was the response we received...  would it be possible for y'all to baptize my daughter as well? and could we do it on a sooner date" So now they will be baptized at the end of this week!!! We met with them yesterday and they said that they know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Christ church has been restored. she said she didn't have to pray when she watched the restoration at the first visit we had with them a week ago she had a feeling inside of her that she could not explain. She knows that this is what she needs to do. The Lord is producing miracles here!”

“Yesterday after branch FHE we went with President and Sister Miller to visit (our investigator). They downloaded translating apps on their phones so we could talk to (her). But when we got there, we had the greatest miracle ever happen! She had a friend there from Nashville, named…., that she used to live there with and she speaks perfect English. She also speaks perfect Karen [the language (our investigator) speaks]. So we were able to teach her and 3 other people she lives with the Restoration with the help of her friend translating the whole thing for us. It was a miracle!!
Also, we gave her friend a Book of Mormon and she wants the missionaries in Nashville to come and teach her more!”

“We are having a baptism on Saturday!!!!!!!! A mother and her daughter want to and are getting baptized! My companion and I are so excited! It  has been a miracle with this family and the Lord is blessing us with success. The ward is doing fantastic with missionary work. They are catching that missionary fire and its amazing. We are getting 7 new ward missionaries! Its going to be an awesome transfer!”

Please know of our testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is here on the earth today.  We know it is true, or we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing.  We are so grateful to have this experience of working with the missionaries in the Greatest Mission in the World, the Tennessee Nashville Mission.  How we love these Elders and Sisters with whom we work!!!   We are seeing miracles on a daily basis and the Lord’s hand is truly in this work.  We love the Book of Mormon and know that it was written to help us with life’s questions---today!!! 
WE love all y’all!!
President & Sister McKee, Dad & Mom, Grandpa & Grandma, Bill & RaNae and…
Angie, Aubrey, Kiara and Destini

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