Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NOV. 4, 2012

November 4, 2012
**Pictures will come later!**

Dear Family and Friends,
     Happy November to all of you!   We hope you all have your voting done---or at least soon will have and are getting over any remaining sugar highs from Halloween!!!  We saw a few darling pictures of some of our grandchildren in their Halloween Costumes, ( we have SUCH creative mothers of our grandchildren!!!)  The weather here has been quite nice this past week.  It is supposed to stay in the upper 60’s –lower 70’s this week so Janet and JoLynn, we have ordered good weather for you for when you come on Wednesday.  We are still very excited that you are coming this week!!!  We also found out that Jared will be flying here for a day or two as he has some continuing education credits he will be getting.  We love it!

         This has been a MONUMENTAL week here in the Tennessee Nashville mission.  Not only did we get 9 new missionaries here in the mission, and 8 finished their missions, but today a brand new stake,  the MURFREESBORO STAKE , was created here today by Elder Christofferson.    

            Monday, we greeted 9 new missionaries at the airport.  They are a strong group and they will all be a blessing to this mission.  We received 8 elders and 1 sister.  We brought them in, had a dinner, the trainings, the testimony meetings and the TNM slide show.

             Tuesday, the AP’s fixed them the traditional animal pancakes for breakfast and then we went out to the Franklin Stake House for trainings.  We had a great transfer meeting but it was very hard.  We had 2 sisters leaving, Sister Jensen from Idaho Falls, and Sister Birch from Syracuse, UT who are just two of the top missionaries in the whole mission .  Sister Jensen is so talented, she sings and plays the piano for almost every event, and Sister Birch is the sister who lost her brother about 6 months ago.  They are both great missionaries and will be SO missed.  The other 6 elders were also great missionaries,  Elder Hill from Malad (who served as an AP for a few transfers)  Elder Hyde from Idaho Falls, Elder Donohue from Nampa, Elder Dallof from Murray,   and Elder Cawley from California. Elder Adams from California who has been serving as Assistant to the President. He has been doing a remarkable job and is one of the most balanced young men we know. He is always so happy.   We will really miss them.  We took them all to the temple, had our dinner, testimony meeting and slide show, and again, stayed up until the late hours of the evening singing around the piano and playing games. 

            Wednesday, we had to leave by 5:30 to get them to the airport, which means I got up at 4:00 am to get breakfast for them.  By the time we make it home from the airport, we are just kind of staring into space!!!  These transfer weeks are great but I think I am getting old!!!

            I had to hurry and run to Destini’s Halloween Party for which I was a room mother that afternoon and then we took the kids trick or treating around the neighborhood  in Brentwood on Wednesday evening.  They LOVE to go to the big, beautiful homes in Brentwood—especially on Halloween.  They know how to give GOOD treats!!!

            Thursday, the girls all had dentist appointments for which I had to make the rounds checking them out of school and then taking them back.  We finally found a dentist here in Brentwood which we like very much and who also takes our dental insurance, so that is great.
            Friday, President and I were able to take an hour to walk around Radnor Lake.  This is the lake that is only 3 miles from our home and is just gorgeous---especially this time of year.  The leaves aren’t quite as beautiful as they have been, but it was still a great sight and it is one of our favorite things to do. There must have been 50 deer out around the lake. They are in the rut so there were many bucks that had come down.  President had to rush back to the office to do some paperwork and I played catch up at my office here in the mission home.
            Saturday, we had the opportunity to drive to McMinnville  (70 miles to the east) where they had their evening session of Stake Conference where Elder Christofferson was their special guest.   President was asked to speak at the special leadership session on Saturday afternoon, then we were invited to a special dinner in between sessions.   We had the privilege of sitting right across the table from Elder Christofferson.  He shook my hand and asked how our daughters were doing.  I’m sure there must have been a look of unbelief on my face that he would really remember them from when he was here a year ago, but then he said, “Now how old is Destini ?”  I couldn’t believe that he would remember her—even her name.  Last year Destini wrote him a letter after he had spoken here to the missionaries, and within a week, she received the nicest letter from him that she has framed on her wall.  Both President and I had the opportunity to speak in the evening session of conference and were excited to enjoy the Sunday session without having to worry about speaking.
            This morning, we drove into Murfreesboro (30 miles away) , where the new stake was created.  Because this change involved the Nashville Stake, the McMinneville Stake and one ward from the Franklin Stake and another ward from the Madison Stake,  conference was held in a huge room in the Embassy Suites Hotel.  There were at least 2,400 people there, and it was piped into an over flow and into other ward buildings in other areas of the stake that are far away.  It was exciting to see such a big group.  Elder Christofferson said, “This sight reminds me of being in the Conference Center,  but I can’t seem to find the monitors!”   
     The bitter/sweet of this experience is that President Watson, who has been the 1st counselor in the Mission Presidency was called to be the new Nashville Stake President.  We will miss him so very much.  This is the man who runs all of the iron man competitions and owns 39 Sonics.  He will be wonderful.  The former Nashville Stake President, President Tipps, became the new Murfreesboro Stake President.  He, too, is a great man and will do well. President Crawford will remain Stake President of the McMinnville Stake, it will be just a bit smaller. Each of these new Stakes will still have 10 units in them so they are still quite large.
    Today in the meeting Elder Merideth, the visiting authority with Elder Christofferson (who, incidentally was also a counselor in our mission presidency until last April when he was called to be an Area Authority Seventy)  told of a man named Dale Shumway who was the 2nd Branch President when Murfreesboro was only a branch back in the 1970’s.  Dale Shumway was there  today and he had him stand up in that huge crowd of people.  I wondered if any of my Shumway relatives might know  if they are related to him!  It was also reported this week that what used to be a branch 50 years ago is now 6 Stakes.
    We did get permission to call a man named Robert Johnson (look out Bob!)  as the 1st counselor in the mission presidency.  He was a counselor in the Nashville Stake but was released.  He and his wife are outstanding people as well and they will do well in the mission presidency.  
    Well, we are gearing up to a great week.  I am driving to Russellville (2 hours north) in the morning to conduct a choir practice with some missionaries who are going to be doing some Christmas performances, and then come home to start our ZLC which they decided to do a sleepover and then it will go all day on Tuesday.  I’m not sure when I will have time to prepare the food for that, but I’m sure somehow it will all work out!
  Here are some miracles:
1) I am so thankful the presentation  at the Catholic Church is over. It was getting very stressful but it was all worth it. I thought the people who came were so great.
Valerie  was so awesome! I talked with her afterward and she told me that one of her sons joined the Church and her grandson is waiting for his mission call and her granddaughter is going to BYU-Idaho. She took a copy of the Book of Mormon and a bunch of pamphlets about the family and she loved that we were so focused on strengthening the family. She told me, "I think this is where the Catholic church went wrong was stepping away from family. This building we're in is just a building. It doesn't matter." I thought that was pretty neat. There were some great people there and they all enjoyed our presentation. We got a couple new investigators because of it.

 Going out with Father Drury and Bill Davis afterwards was a neat experience. We made kind of a funny picture. It was 5 missionaries in this little Mexican restaurant with loud music that smelled like smoke with 2 old guys, one of them a Catholic priest, having a religious discussion. It was pretty great. But they both had awesome questions. Bill wanted to know  more about the missionary program and why we go out and pay to leave home for 2 years. So the elders were talking about that and then Bill said that if he'd had the chance to do something like that his life would have been completely different. We all thought that was really cool. Also Father Drury thought it was great how we put so much emphasis on a personal witness. He loved that there we bore our testimonies so much. He made a great comment that you could talk theology for hours on end and no one will get a single thing out of it. But when you add your personal witness it brings so much more. And I completely agree. I mean, I wouldn't be out here if I didn't have a witness that what I'm going around teaching is true. I found it interesting that that was what he enjoyed most about our presentation.

2)I love the power of the gospel. There is nothing that compares to it and I think it's amazing! I've loved being able to see how it changes people. I feel like the more I think about every little aspect of the Church, the more I realize how true it is. I love that there are so many more people preparing to go on misisons. I've been thinking a lot about what you said at interviews about how if every member brought one person into the church each year, that's 14 million new members. I actually told my family about that and asked them to go out and find someone to share the gospel with. We'll see how that goes.

3) “What a beautiful day!  Barbara was baptized tonight.  After investigating the Church for over 10 years, she became a member.  The couple who started fellowshipping her were there.  They also were radiant as they shared in this glorious occasion.  Sister Cope doesn't remember all the missionaries who have taught her, but two of the sister missionaries names were Sister Morar and Sister Heinz (she was from Arizona).  She also remembers there were two elders who had an appointment with her and didn't have any transportation so walked to her home which is 8 miles from town.  So over the years many missionaries have been involved in this conversion process.”

 I sure hope all of you know how much we love this work.  Every day we realize how this is truly the Lord’s work and what a blessing it is to be a part of it.  I know the Savior lives and loves each one of us.  He knows us and knows our names and our concerns and our shortcomings.  And even so, He loves us and wants us to be with Him again someday.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  How I have come to love this great book.  I don’t think I realized how powerful it is until I came out here! 

We pray that each of you have a great week.  Here is a thought for you.  Today Elder Christofferson told how one day each week,  each one of the 12 Apostles meet in a meeting and report on things they have done during the past week.  He told about President Monson.  He talked about how even though he has a world wide focus in running the church, he still takes time to minister to “the one”.  None of us can be too busy to visit our neighbors, to invite people to come to church or to teach them about the gospel! 

We love you all,

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

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