Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The End is Here - July 28, 2014

"What you have the power to do, you have the power not to do."
- Aristotle

"Progress or perish."
- Unknown

It is hard to believe that the end is here. My mission has been truly the happiest time of my life. I have grown tremendously and the more I consider on this time, the more appreciative I am that God trusts his little children and sends them out on missions to help his other children. God truly has it all worked out.

This last week has been truly miraculous. Each week we hold a weekly planning session, a time where we plan who we're going to see, what we will teach them about, and set a numerical goal for each of the 12 key indicators.

These Key Indicators are:
   • Investigators baptized and confirmed
   • Investigators with a baptismal date
   • Investigators who attend sacrament meeting
   • Lessons taught to investigators with a member present
   • Other lessons taught
   • Progressing investigators
   • Referrals received and contacted
   • New investigators
   • Lessons taught to recent converts and less-active members
   • Lessons taught to active members

This is the first and only week out of my 101 weeks in Iowa that we met or exceeded our goal for all 12 key indicators. That was such a blessing! We also found 9 new investigators this week! Which is the highest one week amount of my mission. The blessings truly do come after we have done "all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). So now I want to tell you about some of these investigators.

Colton and Clay Snakenberg are the sons in a part-member family in the ward. They are calf ropers and they do very well in rodeos and other various events they compete at. The ward has been trying to help them become active and baptized for a very long time. We received a call from Sister Snakenberg's visiting teacher saying that they wanted the boys to be baptized before Colton left for school in August. So we set up an appointment, and the boys are anxious to be baptized. So they will be baptized next week! It is awesome!

I was at the temple last Tuesday for our departing missionary temple trip, and so Elder Epperson was on exchanges for the day with a missionary from another zone that is a very good missionary. They found a family of 7! The youngest isn't old enough to be baptized, but the rest of the family is willing and open to listening and being baptized. They were baptized about a month ago in a baptist church. We teach them again tonight, we are so excited!

I also went to the doctor last Tuesday and got my cast off my leg. Now I am in a boot with the direction to stay off of it and let it heal for the next 3 weeks. So hopefully I can walk by the time fall semester comes around!

I received a quote from an Hermana in our district this last week and it has truly helped me so much. Please read it and apply it in your life. This is what I will leave you with as my last words as a full time missionary.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be!

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Unknown

With those words and the words I left for the missionaries of my mission, I leave you: 

"What I value the most from my two years of full-time missionary service is how closely I have come to know my Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I feel I have truly become who God has wanted me to become. I know that I have become that person, not because I am perfect, because I am not, but because I have felt the Spirit working with me on a daily, even hourly basis. This is evidenced by when I have been an instrument in His hands in the lives of His children. He trusts me and He trusts you. Exact Obedience brings Miracles. You can know you are successful when you feel as Alma expressed in Alma 13:28-29. I know that the Book of Mormon is true because as I have read its pages for myself and others, I have felt His love for me and charity for my investigators and other missionaries. Follow the uncomfortable promptings of the Holy Ghost. Stay true to Preach My Gospel, it will tell you what you should do. This work is true! Love the Lord and serve Him the very best you can. Love your mission forever. I will."

Love from and for Iowa Forever, 
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

Descriptions of Pictures
  • My foot after standing up for 4 minutes.
  • Me with President and Sister Jensen in front of the Nauvoo Temple.
  • The Sisters going home this week with Sister Jensen in the middle.
  • The Elders going home this week with President Jensen in the middle.
  • The Elders jumping picture.
  • Me with Elder Bowers and Elder Firth (our MTC district).
  • The graves of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
  • The graves of Joseph and Emma Smith.
  • The graves of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith.
  • Me by the Smith family graves with the Mississippi river in the background.
  • My final district: (back row) Elder Epperson, Me, Elders Brooks, Kilpatrick (front row) Hermanas Howell and Eggett, Sister Oman, and Hermana Zamora
  • Funny district picture
  • Elder Epperson blowing out his birthday candles.

Lots and Lots of Missionaries - July 21, 2014

So this last week was super fun!

Elder Epperson caught a virus that is going around, but we were still able to teach some lessons and with the time he takes sleeping to get better, I have been able to read the Book of Mormon and listen to some talks by general authorities. It is great because I have a goal to finish the Book of Mormon when I finish my mission!

A week ago Sunday we set up some dinners with members. We ended up giving 2 of the 3 to the Hermanas because Elder Epperson was sick, but it worked out well. This week we also have a bunch of visits set up so I can say goodbye to the people that I know and have met here before I head back to Utah.

2 highlights of the week.

We had Zone Conference in Thursday. Usually, our zone conferences only have 4 zones, but this one had 6. This Zone Conference wasn't supposed to happen until next month, but because of the Mission Tour that will be happening in September they changed it around. I was very happy for 3 reasons. 1) I got to see a lot of my missionary friends for the last time. 2) I love receiving all the trainings from Zone Conferences. 3) At the last Zone Conference, where I gave my departing testimony, President Jensen kept saying how he was going to train on the Atonement at the next Zone Conference. I was going to miss it, but I really enjoyed listening to President Jensen train on the Atonement and different aspects of it.

Elder Epperson and I got to attend the Brittish Pageant in Nauvoo on Saturday. It was marvelous! :) The details are in the link I left. One of the coolest parts was at the end, they had all of the missionaries walk on stage singing "Called to Serve." Then we sang "Oh Say What is Truth?" and "Redeemer of Israel" on stage with the cast for the finale. It was hard to sing and crutch quickly up onto the stage, but thankfully I was able to sing well, not fall, and represent crippled missionaries everywhere! :)

But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.

The Lord prepares us to be instruments in His hands. Follow the uncomfortable suggestions of the Holy Ghost or the Light of Christ to become true Disciples of His Son, Jesus Christ. That is what I am striving to do. I am not perfect at it, but I am becoming who God wants me to become by doing my best.

Love from Iowa,
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.
  • Me and Elder Newhouse. Again!
  • The Nauvoo Bagpipe Band
  • Story City District Reuinited - Me, Elder Barger, Elder Claridge, Elder Kinikini (got there after I left), Elder Hollan, Elder Keller, Sister England, Sister Muirbrook
  • Me, Elder Newhouse, Sister England, Sister Paul - the 4 missionaries that brought the Bennett family to baptism
  • The Nauvoo Temple, night shot, while moving in a car.
  • The Brittish Pageant
  • The Nauvoo Temple, in the day, while standing on crutches.

Testimonies - July 14, 2014

"Testimonies invoke an awakening to a witness in our own spiritual experience."

This week was pretty great!

Monday: Our Zone earned a Zone P-day, where all the missionaries in our zone got together to play games and have fun! We earned it by having all 7 of our companionships baptizing at least one person over the 3 months of March, April, and May. And 6 of the areas stayed with someone baptized from April, May, and June. And we had found 30 new investigators in those areas in one week, so we are really excited to be seeing so many miracles in our zone! I enjoyed taking some pictures and watching everyone play chair soccer, kickball dodgeball, baseball with a tennis ball, and volleyball. Monday night I also played disc golf on exchanges with the Zone Leaders and their investigator who was baptized and confirmed in the last 2 days. I ended up losing my disc on a bad skip on the road that went through the hole. But it was fun!

Tuesday: We went to Iowa City for my doctor's appointment. I got some more x-rays and an MRI on my ankle. Turns out, the fracture in my heel is very minute and is not the main problem. There were "no obvious issues with the ligaments or tendons," but they put me in a cast to keep it stabilized. I still have 2 pockets of fluid in my ankle. They weren't sure how to describe why they were there. So I am keeping it elevated and am enjoying the cast until my follow-up appointment on the 22nd.

Wednesday: My ankle was a bit tender and sore from all the movement and tests from Tuesday, and from being in a cast, and it was our last day of the week with the truck, but we had some good times.

Thursday: We had a wonderful district meeting.

Friday: We had a good time weekly planning and having our appointment fall through.

Saturday: We taught a few lessons and one of our investigators asked us to help him with a service project. Every year about this time, HyVee (a Midwest grocery store chain), sells roses for $1 each. So Mike, our investigator, buys enough roses to hand out to all of the residents at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. He recruited us and the Hermanas to help hand them out. It was so much fun and brought me back to singing at the nursing home as a primary child in West Linn.

Sunday: Church was marvelous and I really enjoyed the teachings that were given and the Spirit that was felt. Satan is devious, there was a cricket that started chirping immediately after the Sacrament prayer. But the Spirit was still super strong as the speakers in Sacrament meeting spoke on the Doctrine of Christ with focus on Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

I have had a lot of opportunity to sit and ponder and read the scriptures and listen to marvelous talks by General Authorities with my injury. I really love the words of Christ.

I love how Doctrine & Covenants 68:1-6 state it:
My servant, Orson Hyde, was called by his ordination to proclaim the everlasting gospel, by the Spirit of the living God, from people to people, and from land to land, in the congregations of the wicked, in their synagogues, reasoning with and expounding all scriptures unto them.

And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth—

And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.

Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.

What is given you of the Spirit may become your personal scripture. The quote I began this email with was given to me yesterday as I had a pen in hand as I listened to a talk by Emeritus Seventy, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, the CES Fireside from June 2012

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

So... Hermana Eggett sprained her ankle at Zone P-day playing baseball with a tennis ball. It's pretty ridiculous!
What one member calls, Buzzard Roost. These towers overlook the river. They were all perched there. Elder Epperson was saying how cool it would be if there was a gunshot or a firework that went off and sent all the vultures flying. Well, a firework went off. Boom.


The Fourth of July!!! - July 7, 2014

It was a great week!

I promise the quality of my emails does not reflect my attitude towards my mission in these last few weeks. I am working hard and we are seeing miracles! I am so grateful for the opportunities a mission provides. I have grown so much!

We spent our Fourth of July evening at our Bishop's home with his family and 2 other families in the ward and a nonmember family friend of our Bishop's family. We ate some awesome food! I ate a hamburger, brat, and hot dog, with a couple of the sides. Then I ate my companions untouched double cheeseburger..... Can you hear the extra pounds I am adding? lol We played "Werewolves" which is like Mafia.

My sister wrote about an article in the July 2014 Ensign called Becoming Perfect in Christ by Elder Gerrit W. Gong. It is incredible. I am a missionary, and about to be a student again. My health took a turn and I was reminded of my time at college. I was often stressed and striving to be perfect. On my mission, I have found the ability to actually enjoy life and to enjoy the moment, which is something that I haven't been able to do for most of my life, I get caught up in trying to prove I am perfect. In the last few days, feelings of perfectionism returned, and my poor health from life before Iowa. But I am glad I know how to change and how to become more like Jesus Christ.

Know the work is progressing, my companion is progressing, our district is progressing, and our zone is doing miraculously! I know I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing. Are you?

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

Me making funny faces on the 4th of July.
Me shopping at Walmart...
Lightning storm last night!

Time ran short - June 30, 2014


Time ran short again. I should start with this email!

We found 8 new investigators this week in spite of me being on crutches and not able to walk very far. Heavenly Father is amazing and blesses us so much!

The priesthood is real. Men are truly called of God. "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof" (Articles of Faith 1:5). I love being able to have the Spirit and the priesthood to help bless others.

You are all amazing Children of God!

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

It's Still Summer! - June 23, 2014

Summer is great!

Sorry, no time to write everyone as I was busy writing my family.

I love you all and know that this is the best work ever!

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to delcare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
- 3 Nephi 5:13

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

Baptisms and Bad Falls - June 16, 2014

"Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father."

This week was quite the eventful week!

Steve Graham was baptized on Saturday! He is an incredible man. We met him 17 weeks ago tomorrow and he has already quit smoking, drinking coffee, read the entire Book of Mormon, come to church at least 8 times, been baptized, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father let me be an instrument in his conversion.

Tim Steinbach was supposed to be baptized, but we are still working with him and hoping we can help him truly pray and seek the Lord for his answers.

This week I was also able to interview one of the Zone Leaders investigators for baptism as he will be baptized on Saturday. His name is Stan Kresky, he is 87 and from Brooklyn. He even has an accent! It was way cool interviewing him. He is such a nice man.
We had our final district meeting as a district this week. The Spirit was strong. I love the other missionaries I serve around out here in Iowa. I have made some incredible, lifelong friends as I have been out here.

I sprained my ankle Wednesday. No Mom, it isn't broken. I am taking care of myself with ice and elevating it and not walking on it. It is just a minor setback. But it doesn't help the Spirit work through me. Keep your body clean and whole so that God can work through you! Pray with Faith.

We had a ward activity Saturday night. Each Quorum and Auxiliary of the ward takes turns throughout the year to plan and carryout these activities. The Ward Mission (ward mission leader, ward missionaries, and full-time missionaries) were in charge of this one. We had a Ward Family Home Evening. We sang Families Can Be Together Forever, then the missionaries taught the lesson on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, then the Bishop talked about the purpose of Family Home Evening. After that, we broke for activities. The Primary had set up an obstacle course, the Youth had a scripture scavenger hunt, and the men of the ward had some mind challenges. The Relief Society provided everyone's favorite part, Refreshments! ;) Which was ice cream and homemade pie! It was a fun activity. The young single adult the Sisters baptized on Saturday morning came and her mother also came for the tail end of the activity, which was incredible!

Sunday was Father's Day. We had wonderful talks in our sacrament meeting on fathers. The Bishop's daughter spoke, she did a very great job! He mentioned later that when he had asked her to speak, he didn't remember it was Father's Day. Then a single sister who started coming back to church a few years ago gave a beautiful talk about fathers. She shared the final account from a talk President Monson gave in the October 1990 General Conference entitled "That We May Touch Heaven." It was a story about a young missionary and his family. I highly encourage you read it. It begins with the paragraph that starts "Spiritual strength frequently comes through selfless service." As she read this account, the Spirit entered my heart more powerfully than it has in a long time. It is incredible to know that God loves each of us individually

Quoting my sister, Sister Marinda McKenzie, 

"We are each individuals who our Heavenly Father loves. Even though we may seem stuck in a bitter abyss, we are there for a reason. There are people who need us and who only we can help. ... 

"Ponder that. You are an individual called to an individual work. Whether it is a full-time missionary, a mother, a father, a friend, a co-worker, a son or daughter, a member missionary, an acquaintance in line at Disneyland, you have a personal, specific work to do. I know that your Father in Heaven cares where you are and who you are helping in your life. 

" 'The light of Christ will shine through you as your confidence and love for yourself as a child of Heavenly Parents becomes something you believe and trust.' -A Wise friend of Sister Anderson's (my Sister's trainer)."

I know that God loves all of us and that you are each a Son or Daughter of God.

"Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father."

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

  • Steve Graham's Baptism!
  • The most normal picture I got of our district... Top Row: me, Elder Epperson, Elder Kilpatrick, Elder Brooks. Bottom Row: Hermana Kimzey, Hermana Zamora, Hermana Loureiro, Hermana Eggett
  • Squirrel on a telephone wire
  • I sprained my ankle on Wednesday while playing knockout with the Bishop and his kids and their friend. This is the left ankle (the sprained one) compared to the right ankle. Taken Friday evening.
  • My left leg this morning

Hastening the Work of Salvation - June 9, 2014

Behold, will hasten my work in its time.
- Doctrine & Covenants 88:73 

The Iowa City Stake Conference took place over the last two days. The Saturday Evening Session and the Sunday Morning General Session both focused on Hastening the Work of Salvation. If you have been familiar with the direction that God is directing His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to guide the church to hasten the work of salvation, fulfilling the scripture I opened my email with. President Monson said, "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work."

On Thursday we had President and Sister Jensen attend our Zone Training Meeting and train us. President Jensen also talked of hastening the work. Elder Nathaniel R. Payne, an Area Seventy, attended our Stake Conference. He spoke about hastening the work. He also gave some incredible insights about Children. How we are all children of God, all brothers and sisters, and we should act in that way. We are no better than anyone else, but we should always work to "help and lift another," in this we find strength beyond our own, and the Savior at our side (see Hymn #220). With Him at our side, we become more like Him. Sometimes I think about if the Savior stood beside me, if he was my missionary companion, would I change? How would I act?

An interesting question posed by Sister Jensen to us, that her Stake President years ago posed to her, "If you were to die right now, what would keep you out of the Celestial Kingdom?"

Tim and Steve both passed their baptismal interviews yesterday! We are looking forward to their baptisms on Saturday!

No matter what comes our way, have hope, have faith. God won't delay blessings, unless he sees a better way.

PMG pg 117 says:
"Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom."

May we hope and move forward!

Wishing will not make it so. The Lord expects our thinking. He expects our action. He expects our labors. He expects our testimonies. He expects our devotion.
- President Thomas S. Monson

Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.