Dear family and friends,
The last two weeks of the mission field moved so quickly that I do not think that any of us had time for the sadness that we were feeling. We held specialized trainings throughout the mission so that we could do one last training and also take the afternoon to have a testimony meeting and hear from each of our missionaries. This gave us an opportunity to see them all again as we told them good bye. We have been blessed with such remarkable missionaries. They are filled with the spirit and a love for the Savior. Their determination and dedication far surpasses any expectation that we could have. We put together a video about the missionaries and miracles that were happening in the mission and also showed a portion of Sister McKee and her healing. We wanted them to know that each had been a part of her miraculous healing. Most had never seen her in the hospital and were quite surprised to see the pictures of her in a comatose state and then see her teaching today. I encouraged them again to record in their journals that they had experienced a miracle. We traveled throughout the mission every day and ended each meeting with a sad farewell and a strong determination to keep our mission pure and to keep the successes coming. Each committed to serve the Lord with the knowledge that He is in charge and that Mission Presidents come and go. They know who they serve. The feelings were strong each day and the knowledge of knowing that there are many who we may never see again in this lifetime was overwhelming at times. Their eyes ranged from Samoa to Mexico, Canada, India to Australia. Our hearts are full. There is no plan on earth like this missionary plan where people come from all over the world, pay their own way, volunteer their time, commit to a high obedience standard, and serve with total strangers, receiving so much rejection all day long and keeping big happy smiles on their faces. I am so grateful for this precious missionary program and the miracles that we see in it every day.
We were able to visit with Jackie Steubbel again over in Blackman. She is the Episcopol Priest that was baptized several weeks ago. I had her address the missionaries at the conference. She boldly talked to them about how important it is to be bold and loving. She said, “ Lord protect us from timid members”. I followed up with “Lord protect us from timid missionaries”. Jackie talked about her 25 year search for truth and how she had spent a life time trying to save Mormon missionaries only to be gaining her own testimony through their testimonies. She has a strong and precious testimony. We have all bonded to her very quick.
Each night we would attend correlation council with Stake Presidents in the area. How we love them as well and their vision for the church here. The Lord is blessing this area so much. We have 59 people meeting in Family Home Evening in Polaski and 85 that are meeting in Springfield. The Family Home Evening groups are so successful and there are 12 throughout the whole mission that are preparing to become Branches. This will happen very quickly as they continue to gather the returning members together. Winchester is still going strong, meeting in their mortuary and setting so many dates there. They are a tiny town of 7000 people and missionary work is going so well there that they still have 5 sets of missionaries in one Branch. They will baptize 20 people in one month. Livingston is still boasting 45-50 people meeting for sacrament meeting in their small two car garage. We will miss this excitement.
|Dr. Austin and Liz Rich with Sister and President McKee|
|with Dr. Jeff and Paula Webber|
|with Nurse Carolynn|
|Elder Andrew's (belated) Birthday! (3-days till we all went home...)|
|Elders Horner, Monson, and Andrew with their mission sisters!|
|A family we will never forget.|
Greater love hath no man than he give up his life for a friend. These two young men had truly given all to support the Lord , this mission and our family. These two sweet couples have done so much for the Lord, our family and this mission. How we love them. “As I have love you. Love one another. This new commandment, love one another, by this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”. We have taught our missionaries to love and to be motivated by love. This level of love also can bring heartache when you say goodbye. We are certainly feeling that heartache. We know that we will keep doing missionary work all of our lives but it will be different as we take these missionary tags off. I am convinced that there is no greater feeling than being a full time missionary and wearing this missionary tag that states that you represent the Savior Jesus Christ. How thankful we are to Him. Our lives will never be the same aswe work to be the greatest member missionaries. We tell our returning missionaries that they can now become the member missionary that they have daily prayed for. Thank you all so much for your support for our experience here in the Tennessee Nashville Mission. It has changed our lives. We will be staying for the month of July in Nashville to follow up with Sister McKee’s medical appointments and to keep consistent with her therapy. She is progressing so well and hopes to be able to be fitted with glasses this month that will help her not see double. She is my hero . We love you and will continue to serve the Lord in every way possible. He is our salvation.
Many have emailed to ask when we will be speaking on our return. Our home ward Bishop emailed us and asked us to speak on August 18th at 1:30 in the Highland 2nd ward. We will be gathering at our home at 8621 Buckskin, Pocatello, Idaho that evening and all are welcome to attend. We love you all and look forward to seeing you again. Our hearts feel so close to all of our friends in Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois as well and we hope that you know that you have impacted our lives in ways that we cannot begin to describe. We feel like we have two homes now and look forward for the opportunity to return here in the future. We know that you will continue on this great missionary effort here.
Love, William and RaNae McKee, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.... Kylie, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara, and Destini.