Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Leave the MTC in About 17 Hours

I leave the MTC in about 17 hours.
I am almost done. It is unbelievable. I have learned so much while I've been here. I have gained so much personal revelation. I am a much better person. I have learned to recognize the spirit much better. I am focusing really hard on fulfilling all the promptings. But nobody's perfect. I have a long way to go.
I have seen at least 5 or 6 dozen people I knew before coming to the MTC here. It is wild! New people every week. Elder Christiaan Noot got here last Wednesday and he is in my branch. I saw Elder Tyler Park this morning in line for breakfast. I have made so many new friends too! Friends in the Lord. I can't wait to serve and feel like Alma did in Alma 17:2. I know I am supposed to be out there in Iowa.
I have been put in the best district I could've ever asked for. 4 Elders, 4 Sisters, with Sister Stoker and Brother Lisonbee as teachers. We truly seem to get it. At least the beginning of what Missionary work is about. It is incomprehensible as a whole, everything about missionary work. But we have learned collectively how to trust Him and To trust Him in these 3 short weeks. Our buddy district didn't seem to get it the same way we did. They even had Brother Lisonbee as a teacher. But the combination we had was truly inspired. The Sisters brought a maturity to the group that was greatly needed. I'm not the best at studying, and I would get us off task, but I've gained so much.
I don't know all the reasons why I'm on a mission. I figure I'll have a better idea when I get home and see what I have done and see what the Lord has done in other people's lives. But one reason I now know, is that the Lord trusts me. I find I'm a pretty trustworthy guy, but not always the most hardworking. I have a long way to go to being 100% obedient and meeting the other goals I have set myself. But even with those things and my other weaknesses aside, the Lord trusts me. With His gospel. With the Salvation of others. It is quite a task, and insurmountable to do by myself. But as I rely on the Lord and the spirit and realize I can't do it myself, that is the key.
I have had a few breakdowns this week, just realizing that I'm not enough. It has helped that I have loving teachers that help me work through these times. I was in the middle of venting to one of my teachers when he said that he felt I needed to study something out of Preach My Gospel. He had me turn to the Christlike Attributes section and pointed me to Humility. He said he didn't know why he pointed me there, and then I realized that the Lord wanted me to study that. Boy was that a kick in the pants. But ultimately, pride is one of the things that has hurt me the most. My greatest stumbling block. I have learned a lot of how to help myself overcome it, but that doesn't make it easy. There is a balance. The right balance that I need to find in myself and in the work. But as soon as I find that in myself, I need to lose myself in the work. It is hard to find the right balance of being humble, yet confident. And I think it is more of a confidence in myself that the Lord has confidence in me. I am learning. It is hard.
I "think" way too much. I think I have to know something before I can have confidence in it. That is just the way my brain works. I use it as an excuse.
I have begun my journey of humility. I just hope that I can trust the Lord's trust in me to be the best missionary I can. Brother Lisonbee told me I was too hard on myself and I am a great missionary anyway. I've still got a long way to go, but I am on the right path. That is me.
I have begun to succeed in teaching by the spirit. Very small success, but a little bit. I learned a minute amount of what God's love for others is. I am coming to the realization that as long as I try my best and be obedient, I will always have that spirit to be with me. And if I use the right tools to start a lesson and to help the investigator realize they have a direct connection with God and they can feel the same way I do, I can teach By that Spirit. It is an awesome journey I have started.
Sorry if this was a bit of a serious, personal, feely letter. They will occasionally be this way. That is just how I am.
I am loving my mission so far and I can't wait to get out into the field and work with God's children. To help them find Hope through Salvation.
I'll have lots to report about, from Iowa, next week.
But until then, remember Jesus loves you, and I do too.
Elder Zachary R McKenzie

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Second Week at the MTC


I'm just finishing up my second week at the MTC. It is crazy insane
with all the ups and downs I've had, but it is always heading up.

Some of my highlights from the week were investigators, receiving
revelation, going to the temple, and gym. The low light was my foot.

First of all, my investigators are fantastic. To play an investigator
for others to practice teaching is fun. Basically, you choose someone
you know from back home who is not a member, but someone we care about
and would want them to receive the blessings of the gospel. I have two
teachers, Sister Stoker, and Brother Lisonbee. Their investigators are
Andrea and John respectively. Andrea is open to the idea that there is
a God, but leans toward atheism, so she isn't sure if there is one
because she can't prove that there is one and she can't disprove it.
John is the father in an all-member family and he is a good guy and
serves his family but doesn't see the need to get baptized. I have had
some frustrating times when I don't feel Im getting to them or they
are not accepting our message in their hearts. They say it makes
sense, but there heart isn't in it. We've been slowly making progress
with both, but it is slow. We have committed Andrea to praying and
reading the Book of Mormon and asking God herself if he is there for
her, we'll follow up on that on Thursday. She is very open about the
ideas, it's just that she feels stupid talking to someone that she
isnt sure whether or not they are there. John has heard most of the
basics of the gospel because he has had so many missionaries come and
teach him. We took a deeper approach with him. We explained the plan
of salvation a little backwards for him, to help explain that if he
wants to be sealed to his family forever, he needs to receive the
priesthood, and before he can receive the priesthood, he has to be
baptized. It was a very in-depth discussion and we explained about
ordinances for the dead and that everyone has the chance to get to the
celestial kingdom. In our lesson tomorrow we are going to start at the
beginning of the plan of salvation and show him the benefits of being
a member of the church and the priesthood in THIS life. So it is
challenging and frustrating and it's new to me, but as I'm learning to
teach the way God wants me to teach, it is becoming better and I am
more confident, yet still humble, about letting the spirit teach the
lessons. The trick is actually Listening to the investigator. I've got
a long way to go but it is still a good start.

We also have two other investigators that are the missionaries that
came in last Wednesday. Last night we were teaching them and I saw a
change in one of them. He was really not paying attention at first,
but after I gave an example I heard earlier about how many churches
are there with "Jesus Christ" in the name? He at first said "lots,
like Catholics and any kind of Christian." Then I reiterated that how
many have the full name of Jesus Christ in their name. After that, he
was more attentive and wanted to hear about we were talking. It was
the coolest thing!

Last Tuesday, after the devotional, I received some revelation about
things I have been struggling with most of my life, and getting along
with people. I am so happy to have found the reasons why I am like I
am in respect to that and I definitely will apply that to the rest of
my mission and the rest of my life.

Going through an endowment session for the first time as a missionary
is awesome. I've been to two, but being a missionary gives it a whole
new meaning. I did the ordinance for someone from Massac, Illinois. I
think it would be really cool if that town were to be in my mission.

Gym is one of the most relaxed, awesome, normal parts of the MTC. I
play sand volleyball most of the time, and sometimes I play soccer or
basketball. Saturday, I juked out Elder Pelham, an elder from England,
and shot a goal from 20 yards out. It was pretty epic! I can now say I
have scored on an Englishman. :)

When I was getting ready after playing soccer on Friday for gym, my
foot wasn't moving very well. It is my right foot, where I have had
problems with it since I broke it in March of 2008. I was freaking
out. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to go out on my mission
right now and it might keep me home. As much as I love home and my
family, I am out here already and I did not want a break. I asked the
other Elders in my district to give me a blessing of comfort and
healing for my foot to return back to normal. It was cool because it
was one of the first times Elder Firth and Elder Bowers had
participated in a priesthood blessing. Later that day, gym was in the
morning, my foot was back to normal and I played soccer on it the next
day. I am grateful for the Lord and the power of His priesthood and
how much He cares for me and wants me serving Him.

So that is my week in a nutshell. The food is good. I'm drinking about
a gallon of water a day. I am receiving more spiritual promptings and
learning so much more about the gospel than I ever thought I would. It
is a great joy to be in the mission field.

Thanks for those of you who have sent letters! It is always great to
hear from those in the "outside" world and the extra support is always

Lots of Love coming from the MTC!
Elder Zachary R McKenzie

First Week at the MTC

Hello Family!

I've made it through my first week at the MTC! It's been a crazy one,
but it has been good so far! I've seen so many people I know from back
home in PG or from BYU, and even one from EFY back in 2008. At least
50! It's crazy to see all of us serving the Lord by preparing to be
his servants in the great missionary work!

Before I continue to talk, I am going to say that, for the next 2
weeks, anyone that wants to send me a letter, send it via Dear Elder.
I get it quickly and it is good to get mail :) I won't be able to
write back until my P-Day, but letters of any kind are welcome anytime

Now, I will just explain some of the highlights of the week.

When I got here last Wednesday, August 1st, I left my family and went
through to get my name tag and my MTC id. As soon as I left the building
to head over to meet my host again, I saw none other than the awesome
Elder Michael Case, my elders quorum president at BYU. When I saw him
Elder Devon Terry was running by, so within being at the MTC for 10
minutes I had already seen 2 awesome Elders. The MTC is so great!

The first day I met my companion, Elder Meyerink. He is a fantastic
Elder. He is from Salt Lake and graduated from Olympus High in 2011.
He is headed to the Virginia Richmond Mission. He worked for a nursery
and landscape center for the past year. So he hasn't lived away from
home before. He's quite funny, especially when, last night, he taught
an investigator and they believed that we can be saved by grace alone.
And they were teaching her about faith without works is dead, but she
couldn't wrap her head around it. And he was freaking out for the next
hour and a half. It was hilarious. He's got a good sense of humor and
is great at coming up with analogies to explain different gospel

So that's my companion. My district is fantastic as well. We have 4
Elders and 4 Sisters. Elder Meyerink and I are two of the Elders. The
other 2 Elders are both headed to the Iowa Des Moines mission with me
and their names are Elder Bowers and Elder Firth. Elder Bowers is from
Thousand Oaks, California and he went to BYU-I for one semester last
fall. Elder Firth is from Kaysville, Utah and graduated from Davis
High School. They are cool Elders and they are fairly quiet, but they
are progressing well. The two companionships of sisters are Sister
Allan and Sister Jepson, and Sister Moon and Sister Smith. Sister
Allan graduated from BYU this last April with a degree in Elementary
Education and she even taught at Grovecrest for a time. She is from
St. George. Sister Jepson is from Hurricane and she has lived for the
past few years in Salt Lake going to the Utah College of Massage
Therapy. With the stress of the MTC it's a shame that she isn't
allowed to share her talents. Sister Moon is from California but she
just graduated from SUU with a bachelor's in Psychology. Sister Smith
is from New York and she has studied at BYU-I as well. I love my
district. We have all been getting along well and it is enjoyable
getting to know how to teach others.

We have been taught a lot and it is a lot to take in. I am not using
my study time as effectively as I should be, but I am ok with that
because I haven't ever learned how to study. I am getting better as
time goes along. I am in the middle of being an investigator, and
teaching two different investigators as well, and later this week
we'll add three more to that. It is a lot to keep track of, but it is
good as we are learning how to teach. My lesson plans are improving,
but we have a long way to go!

The MTC is a lot to get used to but it is getting easier all the time.
We have another district that came in last Wednesday as well and they
are mostly going to the Virginia Richmond Mission. There is an English
Elder named Elder Pelham and his accent is a beautiful thing to hear.
We play volleyball against them most every gym time. It makes for a
lot of fun! All that time playing volleyball in Wyview is paying off!

I love you all and you'll hear me again next week about this time!
Elder McKenzie