I am now in Story City. It is about 40 miles north of Des Moines. My new companion is Elder Newhouse from Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, almost in Canada! He is 6'2" 160 lbs. Blonde hair with glasses. He is awesome! He went into the MTC on , and that makes me his 2nd companion.
It was hard to leave Des Moines, but we found a new investigator on each day before I left , , and , and looking at the weekly mission email, the one we found has a date for ! It is exciting to see the Lord work in the way He does.
At transfer meeting, President decided to announce who was going where alphabetically by zone. How surprised I was when he said the Ames zone, then announced the Zone Leaders would continue to serve together, the district leader and his companion would continue serving together, then he said in the Story City Branch, Elder McKenzie would be serving with Elder Newhouse. I was totally surprised when I was the first companionship announced that would be changing at transfer meeting. After transfer meeting, we stopped for lunch on the way home at Arby's. After we had sat down for lunch, two vans full of departing missionaries and missionaries heading back to Des Moines along with President and Sister Jergensen stopped for lunch as well. It was fun to have 40-something missionaries at Arby's for lunch.
I LOVE my new area! Elder Newhouse is fantastic as well! To be honest, I was really scared to go anywhere smaller than Des Moines. I was used to the big city, and I enjoy being in big cities/suburban areas. Coming to Story City I was really skeptical and apprehensive. I am so excited to be in the Ames zone in this fantastic district! It is almost a repeat of when I went to Des Moines, as I am again in the same district as Elder Kilpatrick and Elder Claridge, with Elder Barger (Elder Anderson's trainee) as District Leader (when Elder Anderson was District Leader in that district). I am very excited to serve in this district!
Great things have been happening since I got to Story City! We had a family of 3 investigators come to church! That is the first time that Elder Newhouse has ever had an investigator at church, and 3 came! night, we had planned to do some work in the small town of Gilbert, IA as it is between Ames and Story City, so we would be able to conserve miles and do some good work on our way to and from the Get-To-Know-You district meeting. After eating dinner with the Branch President, we contacted a less-active couple whom he home teaches. We set up a dinner for this upcoming with them! , we also set up a dinner with a less-active hispanic family. They both asked us when they could feed us and so we scheduled the dinner appointments.
After we had dinner with the Branch President, we contacted a 33-year-old deacon who also lives in Gilbert, who we planned to see the night before. We knock on his door, his wife answers, and invites us in. He then comes out and offers us a seat and we sit down with him, his wife, and his 3 kids (ages 10, 9, and 3 months), and read the Book of Mormon after we get to know them a little bit. He grew up in the church, then hit rebellious years at age 13 and carried on with that until his late 20s. From his time not being active in the church, he says that his testimony was strengthened throughout, and he has never found anything that goes against what the Church teaches. It was really cool reading from 3 Nephi 11 with him and his family.
We invited them to baptism! The 10-year-old girl said that "it would probably be good," the 9-year-old boy said he would, and the wife said that she had been baptized a Lutheran when she was a baby. They agreed to read the Book of Mormon as a family, and they said they might come to church yesterday. They didn't end up coming, but they will in the future. This brother wants to quit smoking and wants his baby blessed. He will prepare to quit smoking, he told us that once he had a priesthood blessing, then was able to quit cold turkey for 9 months. When he is ready we will share with him the Stop-Smoking-Workshop. He needs some church clothes, that seemed to be the only concern with coming to church. They will be having us over for dinner as soon as they get their work schedules!
This area has so much potential! Most of the members here in the branch have the mindset that "this area is dead for missionary work." Nothing has happened in so long and Story City is so heavily Lutheran that they are losing hope. The summary of my experience thusfar in the Story City Branch is that they are not interested, or they try to convert us to their religion. It is the good ol' stubborn Midwest that Elder Hess always talked about. I am so excited for the small towns. There is a peace and serenity and calmness that doesn't exist in Des Moines. I have been truly blessed with charity and love for the community out here. I still need work on the patience aspect, but that comes in time.
I noticed that I have gained some of the characteristics that made Elder Hess a great missionary! These traits mainly focused on how the Doctrine of Christ really is important. I was testifying of things and saying things I never thought I would say, with such conviction and power. I have been taking the lead, sometimes a little too much. I am working on my patience and making sure Elder Newhouse is a fully-participating member of this companionship. It is tough as he is shy, but I feel like I am doing more to help him each and every day. It was really cool to see that. I went to bed night feeling more happy and at peace than I have in a very long time. I got a little discouraged , and I didn't thank God as much as I should have, but it is good to see some improvement.
We have begun to apply the case study. I spoke in church yesterday about the Doctrine of Christ. The branch list in the area book was a year-and-a-half out-of-date, so I got a new one. We are teaching singing time in Primary next week so the Primary Chorister can go to Priesthood for Father's Day, we are expressing our love for those in the branch and working to live it. It is really neat!
Sorry this was a longer email, but so many great things are happening! I am so excited to be serving in Story City with Elder Newhouse!
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C , 36
Doubt Not, Fear Not.
550 Souls to Christ
550 Souls to Christ