Monday, January 6, 2014

Enter 2014 - January 6, 2014

"Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words."
- St. Francis of Assisi

Surprise! Elder Nelson was transferred! We didn't get the call until last Monday night, after we emailed. So we spent Tuesday and Wednesday saying goodbye to people and doing other fun missionary work things.

As we were trying to prepare the Taylor kids and Elijah Spicer for baptism the week of Christmas, we were using our vehicle's miles a little too freely. We ended up walking on Monday and Tuesday last week because we didn't have any more miles to use. It was kind of fun. The thermals I received for Christmas were put to good use!

On Thursday, Elder Nelson and I traveled to Iowa City in the car of Sister Sharon Evans. Sharon is our missionary grandma. She does our laundry each week, drives us to transfers every time, comes to missionary meetings, and she keeps track of us throughout our lives. She knows all the missionaries who has served in the greater Waterloo area since she was baptized 10 years ago. There was a bit of a mix up of when the meeting started, so we arrived fairly early. Which was great, because before every transfer meeting in the foyer of the Iowa City Stake Center there is quite an excitement of missionaries talking to each other from all across the mission and trying to find out what will be happening a few hours later when "transfer doctrine" (where we're placed) is announced.

We arrived there right as the huge van of missionaries that comes from the Ames stake got there. The Story City Branch was in the Ames Stake. So many of the missionaries I served as a district leader in when I was in Story City were there. In the first attached picture the missionaries are, from left to right: Sister Paul, Sister Muirbrook, Sister Browne, Elder Barger, Sister England, Elder Kilpatrick, Me, Elder Hollan, Elder Fiso, Elder Claridge, Elder Theriault, and Elder Morgensen. The 4 I served as district leader not pictured were Elder Dyer, Elder Newhouse, Sister Hill, and Sister Tobias. Of these 15 missionaries, all were at transfers except for Sister Paul, Elder Fiso, Sister Hill, and Elder Morgensen.

At this transfer meeting, my joy was full. I was able to laugh, talk, and reminisce with these wonderful missionaries as they arrived. I don't know if I have ever had as much love for or charity for a group of people other than my family than I have for all of these incredible Elders and Sisters. I can relate with Alma as it says in Alma 17:2 "Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his [district]; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren [and sisters] in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men [and women] of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God."

Before the transfer meeting, I was full of a Spirit of gratitude that doesn't often accompany me. I was blessed as we reminisced and these Elders and Sisters and others told me of the impact I had on them or other various compliments. God is good and He has given me all that I am and can expect to become. At one point Elder Newhouse and I were greeting each other, when Sister Browne and Sister Muirbrook walked up. Sister Browne (who very much reminds me of Marinda), said "this was one of my favorite companionships, I was just waiting for you to be translated." Wow!

Eventually, it was time for us to begin spiritually preparing for the transfer meeting, so we were all herded into the chapel to be quiet and ready for the wonderful messages the Mission Presidency was to deliver. As we were spiritually preparing, I was handed a 12-week Program training booklet that one receives for every time they train a new missionary. I hadn't been alerted that I was going to train at all, so I was quite surprised and didn't know what to think. We had received a call from the Assistants the Saturday before asking if we had enough room for an extra companion, a visa-waiter, in our apartment. God is always one step ahead. 

The meeting was wonderful. Transfer doctrine began to be given, and the only visa-waiter there to be trained was called to serve in Des Moines. They eventually announced the Cedar Falls Zone and the Waterloo English area. Elder McKenzie was to continue to serve as the district leader and his new companion was to be Elder Newhouse. ELDER NEWHOUSE?!?!?!?!?! Elder Newhouse and I went and gave each other a huge hug while everyone, including us, were flabbergasted. Those we had served around were very taken aback, surprised, and excited. (my words don't do it justice.) One of the Elders we had served around stood up he was so stunned! 

After the Transfer Meeting we were asked by many why we were so excited to be serving with each other and we had the missionaries we knew come up to us and tell us they couldn't believe we were serving together. 

If you do not understand the magnitude of this, maybe this information will help. Rarely do missionaries serve with someone they have already served with, especially when it comes to English-speaking Elders. I have only heard of one other instance of English-speaking Elders serving together for a second time in the 17 months I have been in Iowa!

So to prove we are companions again, I included a picture. We are excited and have seen many miracles in the mere 4 days we have been together. 2 investigators came to church, a less-active family came to church, and we have found two individuals that are looking for a church.

May God bless you in 2014!

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

My Final Missionary Christmas in White! - December 30, 2013

2013 is ending quite well!

Elijah was baptized on Saturday and confirmed Sunday! It has truly been a miracle and an answer to prayers to see him enter the waters of baptism! It was extra neat because Elijah asked me to baptize him, so I had the opportunity to baptize someone for the first time since I've been a missionary. I'll tell you one thing, it was really weird to be in a tank of water after not being in water for 17 months.

Christmas was wonderful! Elder Nelson and I made a french toast breakfast with bacon, orange juice, and homemade jam from home. Then we Skyped home at the Youngblut's, a family out here in Waterloo, and they fed us really well! Then we had another dinner. And after that, we went to the Marshallese Christmas party and they fed us as well. I still feel that I haven't recovered fully from all the food we ate that day! 

This week was full of unexpected events. We were called to help jump the Sister's car one morning and we were called to help with another companionship later in the week in the morning. Then Kianna, Tia, and Deacon, who were scheduled for baptism this last Saturday, didn't get baptized due to some miscommunication between us and their mother. It was a big bummer, but we were so happy to see Elijah baptized and confirmed!

The attached pictures are Elder Nelson and I with Elijah and his mother. Elijah's mom gave the closing prayer at the baptism and she was so touched by the Spirit that she was speechless, then she finished her prayer. It was so powerful! 

I hope we were all able to enjoy the Christmas Spirit this year! May we take that love into our lives and let it flow into the lives of others as we make our New Year's Resolutions this year. May we read and ponder the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf who spoke Of Regrets and Resolutions in General Conference of October 2012. May we ponder his words and the marks of a finisher as we finish 2013 and move into 2014.

The Marks of a Finisher:
  1. The Mark of Vision.
  2. The Mark of Effort. 
  3. The Mark of Faith. 
  4. The Mark of Virtue. 
  5. The Mark of Courage. 
  6. The Mark of Prayer. 
These, the marks of a true finisher, will be as a lamp to our feet in the journey through life. Ever beckoning us onward and lifting us upward is he who pleaded, “… come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22.)

- President Thomas S. Monson, April 1972 General Conference "Finisher's Wanted"

Happy New Year! 

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