Monday, April 28, 2014

Spiritual Edification - April 28, 2014

Greetings again from Iowa!

That might be getting a little old as I've been writing to you from Iowa for the last 16 months (the others were written in Missouri and the MTC). But, I love it, so you get to hear from me still. In Iowa. :)

This last week was a great one. Elder Schwendiman and I got back a little more in the missionary groove this week. We taught lots of lessons and really worked with our recent converts to make sure they are still solid. Kitt, who was baptized in December, is awesome. He had fallen off track a bit over the last month. We met with him about a week and a half ago and he got right on back, reading and praying every day! Doug, who was baptized conference weekend, got back in town and he will hopefully receive the Aaronic Priesthood next Sunday! Keith, who was baptized and confirmed just after Thanksgiving last year, is going to receive the Aaronic Priesthood too! It's really exciting!

We were able to find a new investigator named Kim last Tuesday. Sadly, she texted us Wednesday saying our church wasn't the church for her. She is going to get back to her old commitment to following Christ though, which is great!

District meetings are one way that kind of reflect where I am at spiritually for the week. I pray to plan them, then give instruction in them, and conduct them. This last week we had an incredible meeting with the feelings described in Doctrine & Covenants 50:22, "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." I love spiritual learning, teaching, and edification.

We had Ward Conference yesterday. We had probably 20 visitors from the Stake including the entire Stake Presidency. It was really neat. Our bishop gave an inspired address on the Prodigal Son. I was able to play a piece I have recently arranged for the special musical number. Brother Topolinski, the recently reactivated member I spoke about a few weeks ago, bore a great testimony. Our Stake President then shared some marvelous council and testimony about anchors. It was really neat because all of the messages shared by stake leaders were based around having an anchor. If you read the First Presidency Home Teaching message for this month, President Uchtdorf talks about having a firm anchor. I'm glad the stake leaders are focusing on what the Prophet and his counselors are focusing on.

Another highlight of the week was I finished the book Jesus The Christ by Elder James E. Talmage yesterday. It is an incredible book! I learned so much since reading it on my mission.

This might come as a surprise to some of you, and it won't come as a surprise to others, but I have a hard time being quiet and allowing myself and others to think. This week I have spent a lot more time in quiet and pondering and reflecting back to my life and my mission and trying to see what God wants me to learn and apply in my life. God has blessed me with many gifts, it is my responsibility to listen to the Spirit and follow it to find out how I can develop these talents and seek more to bless the lives of others. To truly become and stay a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have 3 months of full-time service to the Lord to make patterns to become a disciple and to say "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:13).

Love the Lord and serve Him the very best you can,
Elder Zachary R McKenzie
Iowa Des Moines Mission
D&C 6:34, 36
  Doubt Not, Fear Not.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Birthday and Easter - April 21, 2014

"He is risen! He is risen! / Tell it out with joyful voice.
He has burst his three days' prison; / Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered; man is free. / Christ has won the victory."
- "He Is Risen!" Hymns, #199

This week was a fun week. We taught some lessons, talked to some people on the street, knocked on some doors, and went about missionary work as usual. We had some fun service we did this week.

I read the book Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it as it helped teach me about the Atonement a lot! What better week to think about that than Easter week? 

Jesus Christ suffered for us. He took upon Himself our sins, pains, guilt, and afflictions. He is amazing. He understands us. I want to share some scriptures we read with the family that fed us Easter dinner yesterday.

There are 3 parts to the Atonement of Jesus Christ: 1) The suffering of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Alma 7:11-12); 2) The suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary; and 3) The Resurrection from the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. I will touch on the 1st and 3rd parts.

39 ¶And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.

40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven,strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: band his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,

46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world,in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.

12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.

13 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:

14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets,that should come.

16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:

17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.

Jesus Christ paid the price for us all. Because of Him, we can do anything. Arise and come forth and leave something behind this week. Change for the better, Because of Him.

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

3.5 months left?!? - April 14, 2014

This was a fantastic week! Blessings of the harvest.

Have a great Easter. Considering my Sister will be a missionary Wednesday and I'm already registering for classes for BYU this fall, my email time was well occupied. But know that I am growing so much, and we had 4 investigators at church yesterday and a less-active family, and we are being so incredibly blessed!

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

General Conference! - April 7, 2014

"In our dispensation, the Savior Jesus Christ referred to a gathering of Saints as “my general conference” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:88; emphasis added).

"Wherever we are in this world, however we receive these proceedings, I testify that we are gathered in His conference. I also testify that we will hear His word, for He has said, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38)."
- Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

What a blessing General Conference is! What a blessing this week has been. I will talk more about General Conference a little later on.

First off, Elder Schwendiman and I had what is called a "blackout week" this last week. Each week, we record what are called "Key Indicators for Conversion." Page 138 of Preach My Gospel says: 
"Perhaps you have wondered which of your many duties are the most important. To be able to answer this question, you must understand your purpose and know how effective use of time can help you fulfill this purpose.

"Your purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Key indicators have been identified by Church leaders to help you focus on this purpose. As you focus on these indicators, you will help people progress toward baptism, confirmation, continued activity in the Church, and lasting conversion." 

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

A blackout week is a week where every category has at least a 1 in it. This is the first time that I have had one of those on my mission. It was super exciting and it is incredible the ways that the Lord is moving his work forward in Ottumwa.

I finally got to play disc golf last Monday. It was awesome! We are going to play again today!

Tuesday was fantastic. We helped in the family history center as usual. and the rest of our day was actually all scheduled out and we taught a bunch of lessons. Tuesday we also got to meet Doug's family. They were up from Colorado for the week and they were able to see him baptized on Saturday. There have been difficulties with them coming up to see him, and it was an answer to many prayers that they made it up here.

Wednesday was fantastic. We had interviews with President Jensen! It was great to chat with him. And I even got my temple recommend renewed! Which is crazy because they are good for 2 years. So I have been a temple recommend holder for almost 2 years now! Wednesday was a busy day with many scheduled appointments as well. We even found two new investigators! That new family we found has a son that is friends with the most recently returned missionary to Ottumwa. So that was pretty great because he was with us!

Thursday was a much slower day, but we did have dinner with the Topolinski's. The Topolinski's are an older couple that was less-active for 15 years and they became active within the last 5 months. Brother Topolinski is a fantastic guy, and looks like President Eyring. He is super funny! Whenever his dessert doesn't have whipped cream on it, he says "this dessert is nekkid!" It is great. His wife gave him a bowl of ice cream. When he pulled out the spoon, he exclaimed "a shovel!" It was a larger spoon than one typically uses to eat ice cream with. This may not be funny to you, but Elder Schwendiman and I enjoy the small things here in Ottumwa. :)

Friday we planned for the upcoming week and taught Tim! Tim's initial excitement about the Book of Mormon was for the information about pre-Columbian American history. We were wanting to help him realize it is a spiritual book more than just a history. He began asking questions, so we answered a few, then said a prayer, and through scriptures and answering questions and the Spirit, he understood that it was a spiritual book. He learned it by the Spirit and he is VERY excited for it. He was super excited to come to Doug's baptism and General Conference Saturday. He ended up coming to Conference with Paolo!

Saturday morning before General Conference Doug was baptized and confirmed. It was a wonderful service and we had Steve come too! He finished the Book of Mormon! Faster than I have ever read it myself...

General Conference was amazing! I enjoyed all of the instruction and words about becoming true, consecrated Disciples of Christ. I hope you received answers to your prayers. I received answers to my questions.

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