Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Veterans Day from Tennessee!

November 11, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
Happy Veterans Day!  We went to stake conference in Paducah today and before the meeting began, President Okuda asked everyone who had ever served in the military to stand and be recognized.  I always feel so grateful when I see these courageous men and women who have risked their lives for this great country of ours.  There are many dressed in their army fatigues whenever we go to the airport  and attend church in Clarksville because of the Ft. Campbell Military base here in Clarksville.  We always make a conscious effort to go up to them and say thank you for their great sacrifice in our behalf!
This has been a WONDERFUL week!  We hope you have had a good one as well.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful!  A titch on the cool side—especially in the evenings, but beautiful. This week will be Jared & Brittany’s son Ethan’s 3rd birthday on Wednesday.  Happy Birthday Ethan!  We certainly appreciate the emails from home for those of you who have taken the time to write to us.  Thank you so much! 

Last Monday started with us driving up to Russellville (2 hours to the northeast) for a  missionary choir practice.  The Tennessee Nashville Mission was asked if we could send a choir to an interfaith Christmas presentation in both  Clarksville TN on  Nov 30 and then in Bowling Green a week later.  Because our former choir hasn’t been together for several months now and many of our members have gone home, we are recruiting new choir members from only 2 zones for these programs.  Angie and I drove up with a set of sister missionaries and then picked up a set of elders on the way.  We have about 24 choir members and had a great rehearsal with them. President did staff meeting and his Skype calls with the zone leaders. 

When we arrived home, we had one of our very dear families come to the mission home to tell us good-bye.  This family had come to pick up their daughter last week and have been in Nashville for the past 5 days.  This is the sweet sister who lost her brother about 9 months ago.  They are some of the greatest people you could ever meet!  But they came just as we were beginning our ZLC Overnighter, so as we were visiting with them, all of the zone leaders came in.  President was so good.  He just included the missionaries in the visit with them as they arrived two by two and they all got to meet this great family.  At one point, the parents shared with all of the missionaries their feelings about what happened when their son had been killed and it was really a spirit filled evening.  By the time they left, all 25 zone leaders were here and we fed them and they began their training downstairs.   I spent much of the time in the kitchen preparing breakfast for them for the following day.

Elder Olsen and Sister McKee
Tuesday morning, we took all of the zone leaders to Radnor Lake for their work out time.  It was a glorious morning---beautiful, blue sky against the red and gold leaves of the trees---as we all took a walk around the gorgeous lake.  I would guess that we saw about 25 deer that were less than 25 ft. from us.  Even without their proselyting clothes, these missionaries are impressive.  They would see people on the path and  smile or talk to them.  It finally got to the point that people were asking them who they were and where they were from.  They were able to practice some finding skills,  no doubt.
We came back to the mission home and they all showered while I got breakfast going.  We ate breakfast and then proceeded to the basement for Zone Leader Counsel.  It was nice because our kids were out of school that day so they got to go walk with us, helped with breakfast and some even came into the training.  The Zone Leaders were doing “REAL plays”  and all of our  girls picked a companionship to be in.  I was quite impressed when Destini came running in to me when they were finished.  She said, “Mom, I’ve never EVER felt the Spirit so strong as I did while the Elders were teaching today…..they are GOOD teachers!”  And she is right.  They are pretty incredible teachers!  We had a great ZLC and I think everyone went home motivated to increase their finding this week!

Janet, Angie, JoLynn, and President McKee at the Airport
Wednesday, I had been invited to come and speak to the Murfreesboro Zone to their zone training.  I jumped in the car and drove over there, spoke, and then returned home.   We were SO excited!  Our son, Jared, found a way to be able to fly into Nashville, spend almost 2 whole days with us and then was able to fly on into New York  where he was going for some continuing education credits. He looked wonderful and it was SOOO great to see him.  We only wished he would have brought his whole  family with him   Destini had a special Achievement Days at the church that night, and the rest of us were waiting to go to the airport to pick up Janet & Bob, along with JoLynn & Bob.  It was WONDERFUL to have them here.  I really couldn’t believe that they actually came here. What a GREAT sight that was, seeing them walk towards us at the airport!!! 
Janet, JoLynn, and Sister McKee at the Airport
We, luckily, were able to take two, much needed P-Days with our family while they were all here—still answering phones and handling things alone with way, but nevertheless—it WAS a P-day.    We have awesome assistants  who even fielded our phone calls during the time they were here.  Thursday morning we got up and took them all for a drive around Brentwood to see some of the amazing homes and other sights in the area.  Then we went over to the Opryland Hotel.  Now if any of you haven’t seen this---it’s time to come to Nashville and visit.  This is a ginormous (thank you Steven for letting me use your word!)  hotel that is so incredibly huge that it holds a running river on which they actually let you ride in boats all the way around the river which is inside the hotel.  They have 2,881 rooms in this hotel that actually look out over the big display on the inside of rock walls, even Christmas trees and other Christmas decorations were starting to go up.  They have a life size Pure White Nativity on the outside of the hotel.  It really was very fun to see.
Entering the Opry Hotel
Walking around inside the Hotel

After Opryland, we ran over to our friends, the Tolks.  I had called Marilyn last week to see if I could bring my family to meet her and her husband, and to have them see their home.  We saw her two big grand pianos in her beautiful living room upstairs.  She had made some crumb cake and lemonade for us, but first  took us around to see all of the photos on her walls that her son-in-law and daughter had painted.  Next we went downstairs to her music room, where she agreed to perform some numbers for us on one of the two pianos she had downstairs as well.  She is one talented lady. She was so kind and accommodating to us. We were also able to get some of her son’s Christmas CD’s that are beautiful. 
Jared and Angie
We then ran everyone over to Aubrey’s MID STATE CONCERT which was held at the Brentwood Baptist Church.  Everyone was SO good about running from one thing to the next.  We were able to get there in plenty of time to hear Aubrey sing and she did an awesome job!  The family  was such a good sport to come to every family and missionary thing they could while they were out here.
Three Sisters in front of the Christmas Tree
Jared, Sister and President McKee, Angie
On Friday, we took Jared out to the airport to catch his flight, (how we wish he could have stayed and come with us!)  and then we were able to go on the GENERAL JACKSON CRUISE SHIP.  This is a big 3 level ferry boat that started out at the Opryland Hotel, and floats up the Cumberland River toward the city of Nashville. There was a sit down dinner on the ship as well as some great entertainment.  As they introduced their band, we heard, “and  we have Audi on the steel guitar”.  We knew it had to be Audi Shields, our friend from the Chubbuck 1st Ward from many years ago.  Sure enough it was him and we had a great visit with him afterwords.  We felt badly to hear that his dad, George Shields, had passed away about 2 weeks previous. The two hour cruise was very nice.  Good food, good entertainment, and it was a beautiful day to just float the river for a couple of hours!   It was SUCH a treat to have my sisters there with their husbands.  We had SUCH a good time!
Aubrey and Jared at Aubrey's Concert
On the General  Jackson Showboat
Saturday, President drove south to Spring Hill to be at a baptism and upon his return, we all took off to drive to Paducah where President was to speak in the afternoon Priesthood session of conference.  We dropped him off at the church and then went back to a Steak and Shake to eat.  While there we started talking with the man who was seating customers. The discussion was first about Romney vs. Obama, and then later about him being a Jew.  He seemed very intrigued with us for some reason.  After we were seated, he came over and told us that he really had been impressed with some things about Romney and REALLY wanted to find a copy of the Book of Mormon to find out more about Mitt’s beliefs.  I told him that I just happened to have one just for him. (We always take one if we eat at a restaurant and leave a message with the waiter).  I told him I would give it to him if he promised  to read it and to call me when he was done.  We attended the evening session of conference and had to speak in Sunday morning’s conference.  We quickly drove home, had some dinner and then headed over to a Nashville YSA fireside where the girls had been asked to sing and President was one of the speakers.
It was fun to have the Jex's and Johnson's visiting! We Love You!
Some  TNM missionary miracles this week:
This Sunday, we were not able to make it to the stake conference. But instead, We taught a group of 30 Episcopalian's at their church! We taught them about the Book of Mormon and Bore our testimonies of the truthfulness it's content. We also challenged them all to read, ponder and pray and ask God that it's true. We were able to give them all a copy of the Book of Mormon! They all gladly accepted and asked us questions about our mission. It was a great success! Lot's of seeds were planted that morning President. I love this work! And i love this Gospel”

“Our biggest miracle this week……..! And it was so cool because just before we met with him we were in our car and I called an investigator to invite her to church. She told us she was no longer interested in meeting with us. I hadn't even met her yet but It really made me so sad. We hung up the phone and I felt so sad! I think I really felt Godly Sorrow, this sweet sister is missing out on the greatest message! I know she still has chances to hear it again but it still made me sad. So me and Sister ……. said a prayer in the car. 
I felt that morning I was going to commit someone to be baptized that day and had even made promises to the Assistants and my companion so I know I needed to do it! so we prayed for extra faith and help from our Heavenly Father. Then anyway we went into the assisted living home to visit a Brother on our agenda. We assumed it was a member because we couldn't find any information on him. When we got there we found out he isn't a member and the other sisters had given him a Book of Mormon last week. So we discussed it with him and he said he felt so much peace. His name is …… he is 54 and lost his legs in Vietnam. He is african american and the sweetest guy. We taught him about Joseph smith and bore testiomony of the Book of Mormon, Then I invited him to be baptized and he said yes!!!!!! It was a soft commitment but still.  We got him to come to Sacrament Yesterday and we visited him last night. He said that he told his friends about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and we were able to share a Book of Mormon with a friend of his. 
He got our addresses and told us first thing he will do when he gets to Texas is find the church and then right us each a letter. He said we touched his heart forever and told us to always remain true. He called this morning before he got on the plane and left a message and said he is going to be baptized in 3 weeks because we said he had to go to church a few times before he gets baptized. I will love than man forever! He also said that he knew he would see us again and that we were his sisters in the gospel! It was amazing! One attended stake conference with us, and told us on the car ride back that he really felt the spirit. We were able to put him up front to shake hands with Elder Christofferson, and afterwords he said he had to step out because he was getting emotional. It seemed every single thing spoken that day was meant specifically for him, and I'm grateful for it.”

“Saturday night we went to a Catholic church that we were invited to by the Pastor, Father Randy. We walked in a found Father Brendon Moss, a Monk from St. Meinrads Arch-abbey in Indiana. He was filling in for Father Randy because he had to go to his other church a little south outside of our area. Father Brendon was the kindest and funniest (and only) Monk I have ever met. He taught on the 2 great commandments and he walked up to us in the sermon and told the congregation that they should "love these Mormon boys as your neighbors!" It was amazing! …. Afterward everyone was so kind and they welcomed us and invited us back. 
Father Brendon then invited us to come to dinner with him and talk with him. We rode with him to an Italian restaurant and were stared at profusely as we walked in and ate dinner. Imagine 2 Mormon Missionaries with a Catholic Monk dressed in his black robes. As we sat and ate he asked us many questions and he had a strong spirit of respect for us and us for him. We taught him many truths and he was amazed at the similarities and the depth of the doctrine. He also taught us about the similarities and differences of the Catholic church. Before we left he told us that he has a role at the Arch-abbey as a ecclesiastical teacher and that they do classes on other faiths each year. He told us they have Buddhists and Orthodox Priests and others come and teach about their beliefs and he asked us if we could provide local Missionaries in Indiana to come and teach. We accepted and got his information. I shared with him Moroni 7: 37 about how miracles have not ceased and he thanked us profusely for our fellowship and encouraged us to continue to work hard sharing the word.  We have met multiple people from the congregation since then that were so kind and welcoming to us because we visited their church. Miracles do happen and it is all because of the Lord.”

What a great time to be a missionary!  We love this work, and the people here in the TMN.  We love being able to observe first hand the “miracles” and the “tender mercies” that are handed down to different missionaries every day.  We know it is true.  There is no doubt about it.  We know that the gospel will bring peace and happiness to anyone who accepts it.   Please know of my deep and abiding love for my Savior, Jesus Christ.   I know He lives and loves us and knows us and cries when we cry and laughs when we laugh.  I know we have a living prophet on the earth today, just as we did in times of old. And I know that Pres. Monson it the one for the job.  May we be better at taking Books of Mormon with us wherever we go and look for opportunities to share it.!

Much love,
President & Sister McKee,  Dad & Mom,  Grandpa & Grandma, Bill & RaNae….and Angelee, Aubrey,  Kiara, and Destini

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