Incredible blessings this week in Story City! I will just start from the beginning.
Monday: We drove up to Iowa Falls after emailing to do final preparations for the area before the Iowa Falls Elders got here on Thursday. Brent Peters, this nice 70-year-old man whom we were referred to took us out to Pizza Ranch for the 2nd time for the buffet! (Pizza Ranch is a good quality pizza buffet.) He met the last two missionaries to serve in Iowa Falls last year and he grew an admiration for them. When we first taught him about a month ago he said he usually doesn't let strangers in his home, but because he knew these two missionaries, he let us in. He has lots of questions. We hope we will see him at church soon! We also drove down to Gilbert to meet with the Bennett's and we reviewed the Baptismal Interview Questions with Aurian and Vincent and they are pretty good to go. They have pretty much moved them now, so we are going to have the Sisters finish teaching them and see that they are baptized.
Tuesday: We met with Erika at the Danielson's and the Swalla's gave us dessert because they wanted to say a final farewell to Elder Newhouse. A wonderful family in the branch, the Billings', had us over to their home for the second week in a row. Last week they invited both the families of the recent converts in the branch and one came, we taught a great lesson that I will say more about later... Tuesday they had us over to their home with two of their non-member friends. It was a mother and her son. 6 weeks ago, the Billings sent off their son to serve as a missionary in Paraguay. It is their first missionary and so they always talk about him and they miss him very much. Kaiden (their son) was a mentor for the son of their non-member friends. We taught an object lesson on faith and talked about faith. I read Alma 36:3 and we discussed faith without throwing too much "Mormon" in there at the request of the Billings. We left them with a Finding Faith in Christ DVD which they were super excited to receive. It was really neat to see them that excited!
Wednesday: Elder Newhouse's last Preparation Day in Story City. We cleaned up, he packed, and we went down to Ames. We played basketball with our district and I would have to say it was two of the best games I have played since I've been a missionary. The teams initially seemed very one-sided, but everyone played well. I bought an awesome messenger bag that I am now using as backpacks aren't allowed. We had a very powerful lesson with a less-active member named Brother Fritz about prayer in which he shared a very special experience with us.
Thursday: Transfer Day! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to Iowa City to transfer meeting for lack of room on the transfer van, so I spent the day with Elder Claridge and Elder Hollan in Ames. We had a good round of studies, lunch at Subway, then we helped the Bennett's with their trailer. Then we taught a lesson and went to the Stake Center so I could get my new companion! His name is Elder Fiso. He is from Las Vegas, NV (my 2nd companion from Vegas). We came into the mission field at the same time believe it or not! So now 5/12 missionaries from my group that came to Iowa about one year ago serve in the Ames Zone. Crazy! He is 5'7" and is 160 lbs. Officially my shortest companion. He's your height Dad! :P The missionaries now serving in Iowa Falls are Elder Morgensen from Tooele, UT and Elder Theriault from Bonney Lake, WA. We got a new sister in the district as well and her name is Sister Muirbrook and she is from Spanish Fork, UT. In the evening, Elder Fiso and I went to try some potentials on the NW corner of Story City. As we were walking home, we walked down one street, and I felt like we should walk by the home of a member of our Branch Presidency. So we turned and walked that way. As we were walking along the street, this member was walking towards his home. We stopped and talked for a bit when he asked us what we were doing for dinner. We told him our plan was to go home and make something ourselves. He asked us if he could take us out to dinner. We obliged. He took us to the locally-owned Mexican restaurant in town. It was incredible because the first thing this member talked about when I met him my first weekend in Story City is that no matter what is done or how many members are on the books, the average sacrament meeting attendance was always the same. It seemed he didn't particularly like the missionaries or have much hope for the missionary work here when we first met him. It was a miracle!
Friday: It was a great day where we planned for the week and the transfer. We taught a lesson to one of the older, active families in the Branch. He is the one who served as a missionary under Mission President Thomas S. Monson!
Saturday: Brother Fritz invited us to his home for dinner and he also invited his friend who is a less-active member because he was offended by some of the members in the branch. We listened to his reasons and then we invited him to come to church and see if it was any different than when he stopped coming at the end of last year. We also had the first district meeting of the transfer which was the "Get To Know You" District Meeting, so after discussing baptismal goals and other things, we had a good time with a fun activity.
Sunday: Probably about the best Sacrament Meeting I have been to since I have been in Story City. The Spirit was very strong as members bore their testimonies of missionary work and their love for those in the branch. The member of the branch presidency who bought us dinner Thursday expressed he has been having a hard time the last couple weeks with his testimony, but he keeps pushing through even when times are tough. He even thanked the missionaries for helping with his son's roofing project. Elders Morgensen, Theriaultl, and Fiso bore their testimonies and helped the branch get to know them better. At our request, Sister Billings bore testimony of her experience of inviting her friends to dinner. It was wonderful what she said and the Spirit she brought. A sister who is leaving to serve a mission in November bore testimony of an experience she had on a road trip to Seattle, WA. Brother Billings bore his testimony about how the commitment we left with him at a dinner a couple of weeks ago has helped him gain revelation from the scriptures and how he found a lot of things that he needed to keep working on. Our Stake President was there and bore testimony how we are either wondering why things are happening or we are realizing why they are happening. It was an incredible meeting! And the less-active member we invited came! It was wonderful.
Miracles happen each and every day of our lives. Whether it be a simple tender mercy from the Lord or an incredible experience, as we obey they commandments of God, we will see Him in the details of our lives.
I love you all,
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C , 36
Doubt Not, Fear Not.
550 Souls to Christ
550 Souls to Christ