Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween from Tennessee

October 28, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
Amazing to think October is almost over and we are well on our way into winter.  It has actually been cold the past few days here.  It doesn’t get cold here very often, but yesterday and today, we turned on the heat! The trees are still pretty colorful, but every day there are more and more of the trees that are losing their leaves.  Janet and JoLynn, be sure and bring your coats when you come!!!  We are  SO excited for you to come out here!

As you probably got word from my last emails, our #11 grandson,  Jared and Brittany’s baby arrived safe and sound.  I think I sent the wrong weight---he was 8lb 12 oz and is just beautiful.  His name will be Kason Gage McKee.  It sounds like Ethan still calls him “superman”.  My arms have been aching to hold him all week!  In fact, I wish I’ve been a bit homesick for all of my grandsons this past week !  I hope Brayden, Jaren, Treyson, Dallon, Gavin, Collin, Charlie, Peter Andrew, Ethan and Kason all know how much we love and miss them ALL!!! We miss each of our children as well. We pray for you daily and hope that you are all staying true!Thank you to those of you who have written to us.  How we love your letters!  They warm our hearts and encourage us so much!!!!  Thank you.

Monday started out with us taking an elder to the airport who had to leave a week early before transfers this week. His brother was leaving for Afghanistan and they wanted to see each other before he left. President skypes all of the Zone leaders on Monday and Tuesday.  The girls had Monday and Tuesday off from school for Harvest Break, we were able to get some pumpkins and Halloween costumes for the younger girls and prepare for the next week or so!  

One of the highlights of our week was being able to go up to Franklin, Kentucky and listen to our missionaries as they did a presentation about the spiritual beliefs of Mitt Romney for many of the Catholics and other ministers in the city of Franklin.  The man who introduced the missionaries, a member of the Catholic Church there in Franklin, told how he had talked to Father Drury of his church about the possibility of them learning more about the Mormons, because of the possibility of us having a Mormon president. Father Drury agreed and told him to call and find someone to come in and teach them.  This man looked up a phone number for the church (just a random church number) and no one answered.  He called another number and no one answered again.  The third  time he called, one of our dear sisters happened to be there at the church and answered his call.  He expressed to her what he wanted and she agreed to come and do a 90 minute presentation about the church right there in the Catholic Church. We went up early and attended Mass with the Priest. We took 8 of our missionaries in with us and the Priest told us that it was the best that he had heard singing with his little group for some time. Following the Mass our Sisters began their presentation.

Those sisters, which happens to be a three-some, did their homework and put together a phenomenal slide presentation.  Sister Bishop spoke for about 20 minutes about the church, the way the church is set up,  the different programs in the church for each of the different age groups, the family history program, and the church’s welfare program. Then Sister Ratuvukivuki, our dear sister from Fiji talked about the missionary program and Elder Payne our AP, presented about the restoration in such a beautiful way.  Sister Fowler talked about the Book of Mormon and then questions were asked.  There were a few negative questions that came up such as, “Why were there so many different accounts given by Joseph Smith about the 1st vision”  and some other normal anti questions.  The sisters handled those questions so beautifully.  They just stated that there were many things that they did NOT know, but these things they had told us tonight were things that they DID know.  She said, “You know, we didn’t come here tonight to convert you, only to let you know about the Mormon religion and what we believe and know to be true.  We don’t ask you to believe these things, but we invite you to ask  the Lord for yourself if  they are true if you are ever interested.”  At that point one lady said, “Well, I have always felt that we and the Mormons have more in common with each others that we did in differences.  Maybe we should just focus on those things that we have in common.!”  After words we all gave each other hugs, they thanked us profusely and we went home!  It was great!  There were probably about 30-40 in attendance and our guess is that about half of them were of a different faith than ours.

Thursday morning we left for our mission presidents’ seminar in Orlando.  We actually got to stay in the Swan’s Disney Resort right there by the Epcot Center.  We were taught all weekend by Elder Rasband(Utah), Elder Gonzales (South America), Elder Nash (Washington), Elder Kopishke(Germany) and Brother Watson (MTC), (a world wide church) and many of the area seventies were present, Elder Hymas, Elder Parker, Elder Burns(friends with Arnold Palmer)and Elder Merideth(my former counselor).  The trainings were wonderful.  They don’t just sit and preach to us, they have very interactive trainings and role plays just to make sure we are really getting it.  We met President and Sister Bernhisel who is my niece, Samantha Oliverson’s mission president there in the No. Carolina Raleigh Mission.  Great people!   We also met Bro. Martell Gee and his wife who after visiting with them,  found out that they used to live in the same ward in Logan as Laura and Glade Burgon and knew them all very well.  They asked all about Glade and Tim and asked me to send them our love.  I am in need of Tim’s email address if anyone of you have it.

Sister and President McKee at Mission Presidents' Seminar

Epcot Center

Mission Mama's

Thursday evening and all of Friday, we sat in trainings  and they told us that our dinner  that evening would be held in the American Adventure Parlor in the  Epcot Theme Park.  We walked out of our hotel and got on a boat which took us right over to the Epcot Center… It was gorgeous!!!   We not only ate there but got to see the  American Adventure Theater Show and even walked around Epcot and got to go into the Canada Productions as well as Mexico. We kept running into members from all over the United States who kept asking, “Why are there so many missionaries here?”    Unfortunately, because of high winds, the Lasar Show Illuminations was cancelled that night but it was such a surprise and a treat to be there.  Saturday we were in trainings all day and then flew home Saturday evening by about 8:30.
President was still in the middle of putting transfers together and so he headed back to the office to finish up the transfers that will take place in two days.  

We had to get up early this morning to go speak at 4 different meetings in Clarksville(over an hour away)—two sacrament meetings and two RS/Priesthood Combined Meetings.  The girls got to sing every time we spoke and we handed out cases of Books of Mormon and talked to the members about setting up a very simple Family Mission Plan and taught them how to do it.  A kind of funny thing happened.  A man came up and told us what a beautiful job the girls did on their singing.  He said, “ I’m a musician, and their singing just brought me to tears because of  how beautiful it was, and with the close harmony with which they sang.”  He said, “We noticed how unique and different each of the girls were in their looks and actually wondered if they might have been adopted, but then as we listened to them sing, we knew there was no way they could have been adopted—their voices blended so perfectly!”  He was surprised as we told them that two of them had been adopted, but we couldn’t remember which two they were! 

At the seminar we learned that by January, most of us will have an increase of about 100 missionaries added to our complement.  They said that in the past two weeks, missionary applications have risen 476%.  That where there are usually around 600-700 a week, in the past two weeks they have received over 4,000. And over 50% of them were from sister missionaries.  This is a wonderful time to be serving as a missionary and the focus of the seminar was how “The Lord Can Do His Own Work----We have just been asked to assist as we can!”.  It truly is a blessing to be able to serve in this capacity.

Also at the Seminar I was visiting with Elder Nash of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He asked me if I would write him the story of dads conversion from my perspective and the faith of a  part member mom that faithfully  took her kids ten miles  to  church each Sunday. So to my older siblings and some just below me who remember this experience, I would love your input and also please send me a copy of your conversion story DAD. I think that it would also be nice to have a list of all of the grandchildren that have served missions and where they have served. Clay or Becky could you email me that information and also the year that dad was baptized. (wm)

We are going into another week of transfers this week and then this weekend will be a memorable day for the Tennessee Nashville Mission because Elder Christofferson will be here to create the 7th Stake in our mission---THE MURFREESBORO STAKE.  We will have the opportunity to attend and speak at that stake conference with Elder Christofferson.  What a great blessing that will be!
Many miracles are happening here in the mission:
 We set a date last night in the most unusual way that I have ever seen a date set. We went to an appointment and they people we went to see were busy but their brother, David, came out and started talking with us. He was just telling us how his friends dad tried getting him into the church but he passed away a few weeks ago. Thing is, we know the gentleman that passed away! We saw him in the hospital a few days before he passed. David then said he had been thinking about reading the Book of Mormon and when we offered him one he took it almost immediately. He told us how he was going to be a father but the baby boy was miscarried and didn't make it. He wants so much to see his son's face and be with him. As we continued talking we shared the message of the restoration (while still on his doorstep) and eventually committed him to baptism on Nov 10. Such an awesome experience. We sent him a text later that evening and he responds with questions about the Angel Moroni. He started reading the moment we left. This man is golden! We are so fortunate to be able to have found him and start teaching to lead him to waters edge.
2).  This week has been pretty good. We had a guy that we've been teaching, named Richard, after a conversation with a member while we were over there about how precious our time as missionaries is. And that he shouldn't waste it. He gave a a story about sea turtles and throwing them into the ocean, and how you might not save them all but you can save some of them. Then the member talked about how we want to through him in the water like the turtles. So we came back a few days later and he wants to get baptized! And he wants me to baptize him. He wants to set the date next time we see him for sometime in November. So we still have a lot to teach him, but he really is a great guy. And it will be a great experience when he is able to be baptized. I'm excited.
   So my Dad sent me an email with some of the things my Stake President back home has said. I thought it was very fitting and very true. He said, "that the lord is preparing more than we’re inviting. That we need to ensure that we continue to invite everyone, even those who have declined before, because we don’t know what has happened in their lives that may have changed." I really liked the Line The Lord is preparing more than we are inviting. Something i really need to work on.
 3) Aaron….. He's someone I have to talk about. He's AMAZING. His mom just got put in jail for her third DUI, he lives in transitional housing, and he is anti-ed every day. But, instead of telling us everything is too hard right now, he bears his testimony and teaches other people what we have taught him. He prays to Heavenly Father to find out truth and turns to the scriptures for answers and he always finds them. And he shares what he finds with other people. He likes the idea of a mission. President McKee, I don't know  how I got so blessed to meet him and watch God work in his life. He is really looking forward to his baptism on Saturday. When Bro Sommers asked him where he sees himself in a year, Aaron said he didn't know where he'd be living, but he sees his faith getting stronger. This young man is great!
This is such an exciting time to be a missionary.  We are excited (and a bit nervous) about what this increase in missionaries will mean.  We are excited to get the missionaries.  Logistically it will be crazy for quite awhile –even more so than it is right now if that’s possible!  But I know it is all in the Lord’s hands.  What a  great missionary force it will be.!!!  Elder Rasband kept telling us in our Seminar “I know that you can do it” . So we will trust in his words and the words of the Lord.  As we approach another transfer week, we get excited to receive 9 new missionaries and lose 8.  It is just an exciting work to see these great missionaries come in and grow in their understanding of the gospel and in their teaching skills.  I know this is the Lord’s work and that he doesn’t “NEED” any of us to help him do His work.  He could make it happen all by Himself, but He is gives us each opportunities to grow and to become more like Him as we learn to boldly share the gospel. 
’d like to close  with this quote from Neal A. Maxwell. “”If we are serious about our discipleship to Jesus Christ, we will at some point be called upon to do that which is hardest for us”. 

I can only say, I LOVE Jesus Christ.  I know He is my Savior and my Redeemer.  I have come to cherish the great truths contained within the Book of Mormon.

Loads of love,
President & Sis. McKee, Dad & Mom, Grandpa & Grandma, Bill & RaNae,  and…..Angie, Aubrey, Kiara and Destini

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