Dear Family and Friends,
This week is proof that I never could keep up with Sister McKee, Here it is Wednesday and she always mailed out the family newsletter on Sunday. We continue our basic residence at the Intensive Care Unit, each day hoping to get enough strength and change to go to the normal floor but they tell us that we may be a little while yet as yesterday they just took 1 liter of fluid off of Sister McKee’s lungs. She is shuffling with help to the restroom now which is such growth but still has her uninary cath in as well as the stomach cath for feeding. Each day she begins to eat a bit more by mouth which we get excited for. She is still breathing through the trach but has not had the ventilator on for three days. “It’s a miracle” . She continues to breath on her own through the trach. This works very well until she tries to cough up whatever is on her lungs. That becomes most challenging. We pray every day that we can stay away from pneumonia. We continue to teach the nurses here and have become very good friends with the cleaning staff. Each have taken a Book of Mormon and a video about the church which we hope blesses their lives. One nurse from downstairs came up last night to report on her reading and how her brother is doing as well. Another came up and said, “ I just need a little more Jesus, so I’m here again”. How we love and appreciate their dedication and their willingness to serve in any way possible as well as learn the gospel. I have a whole new appreciation for the nursing profession and all that they do. There are many who are so tender and caring. They do more than a job. Of course each have fallen in love with Sister McKee and check often from several floors about her progress.
Last week we held Zone conferences in the mission. Jared stayed with Sister McKee during the day while I traveled and trained and spoke at the conferences with our two assistants. We put 8 conferences into 4 so that I would not be gone so long. We held one in Nashville, one in McMinnville, one in Hopkinsville and one in Goodlettesville. Each day was very special as we trained and then took time in the afternoon to examine the true meaning of Christmas and the Nativity. The Savior is the center for everything we do. Each of the missionaries expressed their love for Sister McKee and of course missed her training. She has become known as the “conference speaker” in the mission. She always does such wonderful presentation. We all miss her. I returned the hospital each night after the zone conference and then out again the next morning. I kept telling the kids, “Good luck with Christmas, Here is my credit card, I hope you each find something that you all like”. There is no way that we could shop this year. They were all so good and took each other and found gifts for the others so that each had some special things for Christmas. They made a special Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas dinner. Their maturity has been such a blessing for me right now as well. Not only do they not have a mom in the home right now but they don’t have a dad either. I really have gained a deeper love and admiration for the strong commitment they have to family and to the gospel. I don’t express my appreciation to them enough and want them to know how much I love them and what a wonderful help they have been, Those here in Tennessee and those in their homes in Idaho and Wyoming. Thank you.
On Friday was Sister McKee’s birthday so we had a little celebration for her at the zone conference. All of the missionaries sang to her over the phone and then that night as I returned all of the family came to the hospital and we had little birthday party in her room. She was not feeling so well though so we cut it short. It is always fun to have the family come up because they sing to her and others on the floor.
Steven and Rachel flew back in this week about two in the morning on Wednesday. What a blessing to have them here to help. Jared and Brittany have stayed for three weeks now. Jared has been a wonderful blessing as he does physical therapy for his mom each day and Brittany is keeping up with so many things at the Mission Home. I really appreciate the fresh white shirts as I sleep in most of my shirts now at the hospital at night. One of our male nurses said to me one day, “Do you ever change out of your suit Mr. Bill?” It gave me another opportunity to explain to him about the life and schedule of a missionary. He is reading the Book of Mormon.
Kylie is also here on her Christmas break. She has been a wonderful help as well with so much happening. As I mentioned all of the children worked together to keep the Christmas tradition of a candlelight dinner on Christmas eve. Angie even made the 7 layer jello. They invited the missionaries over for the dinner while I was at the hospital and then later brought a beautiful plate up to me that we could warm in the microwave. The Mission Home is about 20 minutes away from the hospital if there is no major traffic. During the rush hours it’s about 1 hour.After their Christmas dinner they all came to the waiting area of the hospital and brought their blankets and games. They made hot chocolate, opened one Christmas gift (pajamas). Each of the girls somehow got everyone pajamas and had them all wrapped, I was impressed . We even got to wheel Sister McKee into the waiting area for a short period because there were so few in ICU. She was pretty worn though and did not feel like a party . After the quick pajama opening everyone put their pajamas on and spread blankets over the waiting area floor and camped out for the night. They even brought the mission projector and watched ELF on the wall during the night. I retired back in the ICU with Sister McKee . At five am the next morning I peeked in at them and it was the most glorious sight to see all of the children and two grand children all wrapped in their swaddling blankets for the night just to be close to their mom and dad in some way. IT will be a Christmas that we will never forget. Later that morning we went down and ate breakfast at the hospital cafeteria and then came back to the room and each opened two presents for Christmas around their mother. Sister McKee did not feel so well that day either so we let her rest and we started walking the halls of the hospital. We all began singing Christmas carols and handing out pass along cards. We traveled down every hallway and then decided to go to the other floors. We went to the second, third, fourth, fifth , sixth and seventh floor of the hospital down every corridor singing Christmas carols. The spirit was remarkable and the tears shed by many of the patients and family members surprised us. No one wants to be in the hospital at Christmas time.
We washed carefully at each corridor and did not enter into rooms just to keep the chance of bacteria down. Standing at each door was a most remarkable opportunity. Many asked if we were a church youth group. I responded, “I guess you could say that , the truth is we are a family and these children have their mother here on the 6th floor. She has been here over four weeks in ICU. Their burden somehow seemed lighter. My thoughts went back to many times in my life when I became a victim about life and realized that the real blessing is to reach out to others no matter what the tragedy. We always have something to give even in our dark hours.
Thank you for sending cards and notes. What a blessing that is . We love hearing from you. I will not be sending out Christmas cards this year but do hope that you will all know of our love and our appreciation for your wonderful cards. I am saving them all in a box so that Sister McKee will be able to go over each one of them someday when her strength is back. She will cherish each one of them. We are so blessed to have loving family and friends. Your prayers, thoughts and kindness have lifted us. We only hope that we might pass it on.
We hope that each of you had a wonderful Christmas and that you will begin this new year with enthusiasm and joy. We love you,
“ We set a date with Pat, an investigator that told us on Wednesday that she had prayed to know if she needed to be baptized again, and she said she felt she needed to, so we explained the Restoration again and explained that this won't be just another baptism, but the proper baptism in to the only true and living church.”
“I wouldn't trade this experience for anything because it has changed me. My mission has saved my life. My mission has given me hope and courage. My mission means everything to me.”
“Oh on Monday night we set a baptism date with Jabad, a younger martialese woman the elders had met with just a couple times.. and taught her husband a couple times too..”
“we set 2 baptismal dates with a family last night. we knew that as zone leaders we needed to set the example for the zone in setting dates and the Lord came through for us. our last appointment of the night we had a great spiritual lesson with a couple we were planning on dropping but as we got further into the lesson we realized they don’t need to be dropped, they need a date. we invited they committed and we will be following up with them frequently to get them into white.”
“I am working right now on putting myself out there like Sister McKee doing 20 seconds of insane courage.”
“ The restoration is so incredible and it is such and honor to be able to share it.”
“During church on sunday we had about 4 investigators there and one of them came up to us outside during priesthood and asked us about if he could get baptized. We said oh yes of course were the ones to ask. So we took him to the font and explained how it worked and set a date with him for January 5th. It was wonderful!”
“We were able to accomplish your challenge of setting a date!!! We went through one of our 3 old area books and one teaching record really stood out to me, it was for a man named Kenneth ….., he had been taught two years ago, and had a couple of dates already, but they always fell through.. So we decided to try the phone number on the sheet. It just rang and rang... Later that night we got a return call! He was excited to hear from us! We set up a time to go by and see him this past week, but he was sick with the flu.. So we werent able to teach him then.. But last night we decided to call him up to check on how he was doing. He was still sick, but the conversation quickly switched into a restoration lesson!!! And at the end we were able to set a date for Jan 19!! We are excited to continue to set more dates this coming week.”
“we have three dates set and one of them is a really awesome one,”
“we set 2 dates this week so we currently have 3 dates set. our branch is growing so much, it is so close to a ward!”
“This week has been amazing, we went tracting on Wednesday and taught 13 lessons in one day. We only tracted 2 small streets but almost everybody was home and we taught them on their doorstep. Most of them responded positively and accepted a return appointment and a Book of Mormon. (Speaking of which, the Book of Mormon is such an awesome way to learn how to better keep our word) All together we taught 39 lessons this week and found 10 new investigators. Pat …. came to church and she is working on her WoW issues and will be baptized soon! Such a great Christmas so far”
“ We had a BAptism on Saturday for Cynthia ….. and it was a good Baptism, this trully was a miracle Baptism we never really saw this one coming. First time we knocked on her door man she was really not that interested in learning or even listening to us that evening, but we had a really good visit with her and she allowed us to come back and teach her more,”
“ The Baptism was great and she felt really good after receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday at Sacrement meeting, it just brought tears to my eyes as i saw this lady walking up to the front to get confirmed and i am so grateful that we did not just give up on her that first night. Miracles are really happening in our Mission, please send my love to the wonderful Sister McKee”
“WE SET DATES yesterday with Dallas for the 29th of this month and and we set another one Today with Eric … for the 12th of January”
“Also we have 2 baptisms this week, Max ……. the blind man, and Ashley …… in New Hampshere”
“Sunday We set a Baptismal date With Jerrylee then on Tuesday we set a Baptismal date with a 17 year old Dalton ……. This week has been a week of miracles we taught 35 other lessons! That's the most we have ever taught! We devoted our week to finding and teaching we taught 35 others and found 10 new investigators. It was an amazing week!”
“ We set two dates this past week and look to set 2 or 3 we have planned for this week!”
“if he wants to change he said yes, What do i need to do? so we commited him to be baptize he said when i can do that?... we set a date right there... for January 12, 2013...”
“we are on a quest to set a date every single day! we are always looking for opportunites to set dates. we set 2 last week and we are looking forward to setting more!”
“but this week we taught 40 lessons! That's the first time ever I've taught 40 lessons in a week. I honestly didn't think it was possible. We've met some amazing part member families, and individuals. I look forward to teaching them. I've found that sitting down and just simply reading the Book of Mormon with people really invites the spirit into lessons, plus there is a ton of doctrine we can teach as we read the different stories. One lady mentioned how much peace she felt as we read 3 Nephi 11 with her. Then she felt it again a few nights later as we watched the restoration DVD.”
“We were able to set two miraculous dates yesterday in a way we didnt even expect. It was amazing.”
"Vision without effort is daydreaming,
Effort without vision is drudgery,
Vision with effort is TRIUMPH." -Thomas S. Monson
“Grace's baptism is on Saturday.”” We also have a baptismal date set with Vickie”
“We met a family of 7 to teach out knocking doors! They agreed to have us teach them. We have an appointment with them tonight!”
“The people that we brought to church actually completely rejected us the first time we talked to them a few weeks ago. But then earlier this past week we walked by and saw them putting up Christmas decorations and so we went and offered to help and they declined but we got to talking and after getting rejected once again to share our message with them i offered to come and share a Christmas message with their family and they accepted our offer. SUCCESS! So we set up an appointment and when we went over and talked to them she said that God had led us to her. It shocked me when she said that because they rejected us twice before they let us come in. So we shared Luke 2 with them and bore testimony and they committed to come to church before we even asked them!
Miracles happen all the time, especially when we set a goal and do our part and watch the whole thing unfold as the Lord works through us. Its amazing how this work is done.”
Miracles happen all the time, especially when we set a goal and do our part and watch the whole thing unfold as the Lord works through us. Its amazing how this work is done.”
“ I am learning that here in Tennessee I have a capacity to love like I never have before. I am grateful for the opportunity to love strangers. I hope that love can grow as I strive to bring others to Christ and to have a stronger relationship with our God. “
“ They had three baptisms on Saturday, these three kids, and because these three kids got baptized, they are reactivating their dad and their grandparents and their mom is probably going to get baptized too”
“We had dinner with the Bishop our first night here and have been working with him and his counselors well already, we started off putting together and organizing our area book, and quickly got a ward list and the 15 less active rescue list, we've made dinner appts with most those la's already its great!! the people and the ward is so wonderful to us, and the relief society and young womens are sooo excited we're here, and im so excited to work closely with them too!! There is one amazing family that i cannot wait to see there baptism...”
“We have had a boom hit here and have investigators and even a part member family of 5 tell our Bishop that she wants to get baptized!! Miracles are out there President and my companion and I are seeing them. This past week we had 6 investigators at church a few of which were new faces and was there first time in our building.”
“The best part about this part member family of 5 they keep referring us to more and more of there friends on a daily basis. There is plenty to do here and we are grateful for the opportunity. I go back to something you taught me at one of my early zone conferences when I had just came out on the mission and that is that the Lord will give more work to those He trusts!”
“We set a date with Courtney!=) It was a powerful date too. She will be getting baptized on January 12.”
“ We have a family we plan on setting a date with here this week, a friend they referred us to, and another referral from a member! a total of 6 Baptismal dates we expect this week and next week!”
“ we had a 32 lesson week and got 5 new investigators!!! That has never happened to me before. And my testimony of tracking is rekindled because that is how we got three of those investigators!”
“ and i found out in the scriptures that it says do not fear 33 times and i was shoked, so i have been trying to overcome all fear.”
“ Last night we were able to set 2 dates with a couple we are working with. It's for January 19th and they have a wedding date for Jan 11th. This couple is awesome with so much potential. They just recently had a baby last week and are wanting to raise her in the Gospel. They are such a great miracle!”
“ All 3 of our current dates are with Part Member Families! It is awesome!!!”
“ Chester is getting baptized! After 5 years he is finally making the covenant with God! I love this work President!”
“ We had a baptism a week ago and i feel like it has sparked a flame here among the members and i know we can turn this area into a baptizing booming area.”
“We have had miracles together this last week. We found 8 new investigators, and we set a baptismal date with a boy who is part of a part-member family. His name is Bryan ……. He will be baptized the 27th of December. Christmas miracle. We are working to turn a hard area into a land of miracles. Day by day the Lord is helping us to be humble and work hard.”
President and Sister McKee , Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa,
Jared , Brittany (Ethan and Kason), Steven and Rachel, Kylie, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, Destini