Sunday, March 17, 2013

Howdy from Tenn-- and Happy St. Patty's day!

March 17, 2013
Dear Family and friends,
     Happy St. Patricks Day!  And Happy Birthday to our grandson Peter tomorrow.  He will be 5.  Amazing!   He is such a cute kid and is growing up so fast.   I apologize for the long span since I last wrote our family email. Most of you already know I was in a coma from the last of November until the middle of December, during which I underwent 2 strokes, 1 heart attack, brain surgery, heart surgery and one cardiac arrest all within 5 days of each other.  I am very blessed to even be alive today and though I do not ask for sympathy, I do ask for your understanding.  These past few months have truly been a challenge for our family.  I personally have no memory of anything from the first of November on, which is sad because we have had many friends and family members who came out to visit and help me.   All 10 of our children and all 11 of our grandsons were here for Christmas and Grandpa McKee and Jim also came out but  I unfortunately have no memory of that at all.  When I came out of the coma in December, I used to write November as the date on everything.  I not only missed Thanksgiving Day this year, but Christmas and New Year’s Day, too.  I also missed my birthday, so I tell everyone that I am still a year younger!   They tell me that Aubrey got her drivers’ license, Destini sang a solo for a 50s concert at school and participated in Winter Olympics, Kiara hosted the play Oklahoma and handmade 10 signs for it, 2 Apostles came  to visit our mission along with other General Authorities and a whole host of other things happened “while I was sleeping”. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe but I’ll trust them. It seems like I missed many major activities but they tell me I was there for many of them.
   Right now I am doing pretty well.  I have an eye that isn’t working that I am seeing an eye doctor for.  I see double and sometimes even triple vision in my left eye, but Dr. Politser has no doubt that in time I will regain full eyesight in my eyes.  I also have a balance problem—it is very difficult to walk without running into something. My family has been so wonderful to help.  Jared and Brittany have been out here for 3 months helping me with his training  as a physical therapist and Michelle got here this week and she will be staying for a few weeks.  I am so grateful for my great husband and family who have supported me and fought for me during the past few months.
  It has been beautiful here in Brentwood during the past couple of days, but pretty cold the week previous.  Today we took our family out walking around Radnor Lake and it was just beautiful. The therapy walking out there is certainly better than my out patient therapy. Aubrey sang a solo ,the national anthem for the girls basketball game preparing for state,  Angie played in her first Rugby game Friday night and did a great job (that’s from an onlooker who knows absolutely nothing about Rugby, but I could see by the scoreboard that they won!).  We got the news last week and she, and Kylie, are both planning to go on missions in August.  That will be exciting for them AND for us. 
We all want to thank each of you for the love and support you have given our family in so many different ways., cards, letters, prayers, phone , calls, etc…….  We feel SO blessed 1) to have a second chance at life itself, 2) to have so many wonderful people in our lives who support us and love us and show it so valiantly!
Last transfer we received 25 new missionaries plus 6 new visa waiters.  We currently have 205 missionaries here in the great TNM.  We have 85 sisters and 120 Elders.  The look of our mission has certainly changed, but we have the greatest missionaries in the world.
Have a great week and remember our love and appreciation for each of you. Our testimonies are real and strong.  We have no doubt that the Lord is there and that He loves us and cares for us.  We also know that he hears and answers prayers.  
Loads of love,
President and Sister McKee,  Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, Bill & RaNae, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, Destini, and Michelle
Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, Destini and Michelle

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yes! You Can--Receive ALL That Heavenly Father Has in Store For Us:

Dear Friends and Family,
Over the past few weeks we have been very involved with temple trips here for our missionaries. Twice a year our missionaries are invited to go to the temple since we have a temple in Nashville. The temple is small so this constitutes going to ten sessions so that each missionary can attend. The  temple is only open for a few hours each day and so we adjust around their schedule and bring the missionaries in from across the mission over five days. They love going to the temple. This gives a time for Sister McKee and I to talk to them about the temple and also remind them that we are here serving the living for this era in our lives and only on occasion can serve the dead. The temple always reminds me of family sealings and the blessing of being with our families forever and ever. I can’t even imagine eternity without our blessed families. Each of us have the wonderful opportunity to come to the temple and receive our endowments and seal families together for time and all eternity. Sometimes people will say to our missionaries, “but we can’t go in there.” Our answer to them is that EVERYONE can go in there. We must just prepare ourselves first much like we prepare ourselves to graduate from High School so that we can go to college. No one can go to college either unless they go through the proper preparation to go there and college is open to all if we prepare ourselves for it. The temple is the Lord’s university and it is essential that we prepare ourselves worthily before we make and keep those sacred covenants.

Sister McKee is still progressing every day. She is absolutely a walking miracle. At present we have several days now without nausea or severe headaches. This is so exciting for all of us as it changes her processing of life and her abilities to be out more. We never went anywhere in the past without a safety pan for nausea and our “peppermint” essential oil(thank you to those who sent those to us). She now goes longer periods without an upset stomach and even attended the temple twice last week. This was a miracle for all of us and such a blessing to be back in the temple again.
We visited the eye doctor on Tuesday and he tells us that she is still progressing and will in time be fitted with some type of glasses that may help her. Her eye moves about 80% now but because it is still off she is always plagued with double vision. She is playing the piano more while wearing a patch. Her right eye sees beautifully so with the patch she gets fairly independent. We do eye exercises with her 4-5 times a day.

On Monday our oldest daughter , Michelle flew in to stay for a few weeks. This is such a blessing, Jared and Brittany flew back home to Idaho with Ethan and Kason on Wednesday. This was a sad day for us as they have stayed long and been so helpful in therapy. Brittany received the news that her grandmother had passed away who we all love. We extend our sympathy to her family and want you to know of our deep love for you. I know that Brittany was very close to her grandmother and this will be difficult knowing that she was out here helping us while her grandmother was ill. We love and appreciate you and your family (Brittany) .Jared with his physical therapy back ground has taught us so much and done so much for his mother while staying here. We will always be grateful for the foundation that you have set with her healing. Early in Sister McKee’s healing Jared mentioned that we should never allow the brain to think that it cannot do something if there is a desire. For example, while in the hospital, if Sister McKee wanted to get out of bed, the medical model did not have the resources so she would not be allowed to get out of bed. We would stay by her night and day and make sure that if her brain wanted to do something that we assisted her instead of telling her that she could not do that. This allowed us each day to expand her brain and encourage it to follow through with the drive that was behind it. The medical model would think that unsafe because they could not always be there so they would put bells on her bed or even tie arms and legs down so that she would not get up and get hurt. As a family we made a commitment to always be there and ensure that whatever she could imagine she could do so that her brain would not be limited and so that she would feel that anything is possible. We have learned so much from this but most of all learned that it is working as Sister McKee is coming back quicker than most rehab patients. Interestingly enough though we are discovering that often the medical model does not always appreciate this and often focused in rehab on what she could not do instead of what she could do. I have found this so interesting though as I think about how we (the natural man) often focuses on what we cannot do instead of what we can do. It is so easy to focus on our limitations instead of our eternal potential and our God like abilities.
For example , Sister McKee has never wanted to use a walker while her brain is healing so we carefully planned to be at her side 100% of the time so that she can practice walking without a walker. This at first required constant support and now she walks freely with only an occasional nudge back on track. She brought her church shoes to practice walking in at rehab one day and they quickly told her that she could not do that., Well she has been doing that and doing it very nicely , she just wanted more safe practice with their support. As I witnessed them very often reminding her about what she could not do, I wondered in my mind how many times I had done that to myself or others and how debilitating that could be.
I met with the supervisor of the rehab unit and asked, “Do you think that Sister McKee can heal completely?” His response was, “Well now we need to be realistic here”. I asked him again and he remained silent. I realized at that point that the medical model often tells us to be more realistic and often limits our growth while in this fragile state. I contemplated a young child and how sometimes we tell them so many “cant’s or no’s” and then thought, if my child really wanted to do something or practice something , would I tell them “no” .  I immediately realized that part of Sister McKee’s frustration was that they were often telling her what she could not do instead of believing that she could heal fully and that she needed to focus on what she could do safely. Her PT has pushed her to go back to a walker  but this again will only limit her as we have set her life up to be safe.

I thought how our Heavenly Father has sent each of us down here on earth with no limitations to return back to Him. He has charted the course that we might return to Him . He has marked the path and then he has given us the promise that “all that He hath” will be given to us if we receive Him. D&C 84:38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom therefore ALL that my Father hath shall be given unto him.”  I wondered if I really believe that scripture. That ALL that my Father hath will be given unto me. I know that the Lord promises us complete and full healing. I know that we can all be whole through the atonement and that we can receive all of the blessings that HE has in store for us if we do not limit ourselves. I looked at Sister McKee’s vision of walking without a walker or practicing in her church shoes and realized that she sees herself with no limitations and trusts in the Lord and herself for complete healing. When the world tells us that we can’t , each of us have a huge responsibility to say to ourselves, “the Lord can” . All things are possible through Him and that He has promised us ALL.
A few weeks before we were leaving to come to Tennessee on the mission Sister McKee woke up in the night and said to me, “ Do you think we can really do this?” My reply was, “Of course we can’t , but the Lord can and somehow HE will use us to accomplish His work”.

Trust in the Lord , He has promised us His ALL. He will come through for us as we listen to Him and not to the world. The world will tell us things that we “can’t”, The Lord will tell us things that we “Can”.
We love you and thank you again for your faith , prayers and “cans” along the way. We feel that positive energy and that love. We acknowledge the Lord for performing this great miracle.
The William McKee family

Monday, March 4, 2013

Howdy From Tennessee...

To our Friends and family,
The last two weeks have been filled with excitement and very long days as we are seeing the wonderful results of President Monson’s revelation that invited 18 year old young men and 19 year old young women to fulfill full time missions. After a full week of Zone Conferences we prepared for transfers. We received 25 new missionaries last Monday and only 7 are going home. This is the pattern now that the number in our mission will be increased. We have over 200 missionaries now and will receive an additional 50 missionaries within the next few months. We will have 136 Sisters and 114 Elders besides our Senior couples. Again the mission will have a larger number of Sisters than Elders.

We went out to the airport to pick up the 25 missionaries Monday afternoon at 2:30. You can only imagine the sight of that many missionaries stepping off the plane and into the airport. Needless to say everyone was staring at them. I always pull the missionaries aside and say to them as they arrive. “Everyone is starring at you anyway, Go up and talk to them and tell them who you are and what you are doing here.” We have found so many wonderful investigators at the airport and like Sister McKee always says, “ There is such a light around all of you whenever we see you.” She is right you know. The spirit dwells around obedient missionaries. I wish I could have a video of this group trailing through the airport with their luggage. There is not another sight on earth like it and it always brings tears to my eyes when I see these young committed people to the gospel. They are a “light unto the world”. The real challenge for me is to get them all interviewed before nightfall so that the spirit can tell me where they are to serve.
Even with the best laid plans there were two Sisters and two Elders that had their flights over booked and they did not come in with the group. There planes would arrive from four different areas at four different times. One even had his luggage on a different plane than he had flown so we ended up going to the airport several times during the evening. The last to arrive came at 11:00 pm at night. I drove out to pick him up because I always want my missionaries to be met by their Mission President at the airport and because I wanted my other missionaries to get some rest as all of us would be up again at 5:00am the next morning. Of course they lost his luggage so by the time we filed a claim we arrived back home after midnight. We call it sleeping fast when you only have a few hours to sleep so that night I slept fast and told the Elder to do so as well. He had been up since 3:00 am from the MTC . Even though we have a large mission van that transports 12 people we do not have enough transportation for a group this size so we had to call up three Senior couples to come in and drive missionaries to their trainings. On Tuesday we leave the Mission Home at 7:15 and travel to the Franklin Stake Center for training. This time 8 of the Sisters had to stay at a member neighbor’s home as we only had one bathroom for 18 Sisters. After we car-a-vanned to the Stake Center we were blessed to train and hold transfer meeting. What an incredible sight to see 25 new missionaries lined up across the cultural hall floor with 25 new trainers at their sides.  We are truly experiencing a “marvelous work and a wonder” . The world will never be the same again. These new missionaries are prepared and such a blessing to us here in the field.
Sister McKee Teaching The Missionaries about "Vision"

Sister McKee teaching about having unity has companionship's.
Janet, JoLynn, President and Sister McKee at Zone Conference

Sister McKee came out to the transfer meeting with Jared at 11:30 and shared her testimony with the Elders. She has energy to do small moments with the missionaries and then must go home again to rest. Some days she is extremely strong and we are all in awe for example like the video of her teaching the YW how to lead music in  our home for mutual we have attached to this email and other days the pain is so bad and the nausea that she will remain in bed most of the day. She can stand without assistance and can walk but one ever knows when she will fall over with no real warning so we always have someone at her side 24 hours of the day. She will go sometimes three days without losing her food but often feels like her food will constantly come up. As we work with her to focus on a focal point and use peppermint (essential oil) we have been successful most of the time to help her keep her food down. She was able to go through the temple for the first time last Friday but she had to come home and rest for 5 hours afterward because of the energy that it takes to do this.

After the transfer meeting  I interview the missionaries going home. We are always sad to see them go home. Our zone leader and Facebook assistant is going home this transfer and another special missionary went home this time who had lost his father while serving in the mission field. He was a wonderful example of faith as he continued to serve while going through this tragedy. He flew home and spoke at the funeral and then flew back to the mission field. We took them all through the temple, had dinner, testimony meeting  and mission slide show with them and then took them all to the airport at 5:00 am the next day.
President and Sister McKee at transfer meeting

On Friday we started a new round of temple experiences for our missionaries as each will have the opportunity to go through the temple 2-3 times a year. We will take them in groups of 25 through the temple for the next two weeks on Wednesday and Friday with each day serving about 50 in two separate sessions. We love to attend the temple with them. Sister McKee was only able to make it to one session but each day she becomes a bit stronger.

One week ago on Saturday we were blessed to have Elder Dallin Oaks and Elder Richard Maynes speak to our missionaries. They each shook their hands and taught them for over an hour. We were all so touched by their visit and want you to know that the spirit testified to each of us of their divine callings. Sister McKee was able to attend and shared her testimony. She also played for the girls to sing which was a miracle. She has to play with a patch over one eye as her left eye still does not work well. Everything is double vision from that eye. All 200 of our missionaries were in attendance. There were over 30 missionaries who had never met Sister McKee before and as they came through the line to shake hands tears filled many of our eyes. Sister McKee sat in a chair next to me and greeted all 200. Her life truly is a miracle. All of the missionaries were so excited to see her. I told her afterward that I am afraid she might have been upstaging an Apostle for some. They do love her so much.

Elder Oaks taught so man powerful principles. He encouraged the missionaries to keep their lines in the water at all times as he used an analogy of taking his grandchildren fishing. The message was clear for them as they are now “fishers of men”. He talked about the Priesthood and reminded us all that the men are not the Priesthood. He used an example of sometimes at church we will say. The Priesthood go into this room and the Sisters go into this room. He reminded us that the Priesthood goes with the men and the Priesthood goes with the Sisters into another room as well. We as men happen to be holding the handle of the umbrella of the Priesthood. It is over all.
Several of our missionaries brought investigators with them to this meeting and they committed to “follow the Savior and be baptized by one holding the proper Priesthood authority” during and after the meeting. Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated in Preach My Gospel Pg. 9 “ We do not preach and teach in order to bring people in the Church or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives… We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this.”

We are so blessed to have a living prophet on the earth today and Apostles that travel the earth bearing witness of the Savior. Elder Christofferson told us in his last visit that as missionaries , we are his companions to spread the message of the gospel throughout the whole world.  All who have ears to hear will hear the message.
President and Sister McKee with ICU Nurse, Carolynn, after Church 

Many of our missionaries commented on this wonderful day. I have included two paragraphs from two missionaries that wrote to me this week:
 “The Elder Oaks Visit was AWESOME!!! A miracle followed right afterward: The investigator we brought (Stanton) sat next to us and listened quietly. Your testimony in particular struck him hard. I felt impressed to commit him right then and there and turned to him when it was over and asked: "Do you think he is a man of God?" (referring to both you and the general authorities present) "Yes, definitely" "Will you be baptized by proper authority?" "Yes I'll do that" "Does next Saturday work for you?" "Ya, that'll be awesome". What better way to set a date? He's especially excited about the priesthood so he can bless his family and were aiming toward the temple so they can be sealed. Man Missionary work is so COOL!!!”
“We were able to bring our Catholic investigators to the Elder Oaks visit.  We arrived early (the first ones there) so we took a brief tour of the building.  That was incredible.  They loved the Young Women's Theme and the role of the Relief Society.  They enjoyed meeting the 196 missionaries in attendance.  Most important, they were inspired shaking Elder Oaks hand and the messages that were shared.  They told us they came with some questions and left with a lot more.  We have a follow up visit tonight.”  

We continue to climb the mountain , one foot after another and hope that all of you will do this as well headed in the direction of the Savior.
Today is Sunday and has not been a great day for Sister McKee. She is having severe pains again and had to be in bed most of the day an unable to attend church. We will try again next week and like all of you will do our very best to do what the Lord has called us to do. We are so blessed again to have our children with us supporting us so that we can fulfill this mission. We have included today some incredible highlights of Sister McKee on a high energy day and hope you enjoy them. She has come so far and is doing so much. We love you and thank you again for your faith and prayers. Like Nephi “We will go and do what the Lord has commanded” .

With love and appreciation,

The William McKee family