Hair Dryers and Hot Tamales-Part 3

Hair Dryers and Hot Tamales-Part 3

Wednesday we had exchanges! First exchanges this transfer! It was so nice. Fun change to just be a normal missionary. But then again, what is a normal missionary anyways? Missions are never normal, so missionaries can’t be normal either, can they? This was at our service on Tuesday:

Antique hair dryer. Never seen one before in my life. We made such a huge fuss about it one of the ladies who came in wanted to buy it right then. She couldn’t because we weren’t finished sorting everything yet, but it was funny that she wanted it so bad just because we were so obsessed with it. Oh also: You know that family of 7? We’re teaching their sister and brother in law now too. This branch is going to explode πŸ™‚ And special shout out to my companion Hermana Hymas: She is amazing. But that word doesn’t even explain it good enough. She is just wonderful πŸ™‚

This has been the greatest experience I could have ever hoped for. I’ll admit it was quite the roller coaster, but I’ve learned so many things that I know have and will continue to prepare me for the rest of my life. I know with all my heart that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He was called by God to restore the true church of Jesus Christ in this time that we are preparing for Christ to come again. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it is the most inspired book we have. I am more than grateful for it. Through the Book of Mormon, I’ve moved from just having a testimony to being converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. How lucky are we that we have it in so many languages! I know God loves His children. I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. I know that the priesthood, or the authority of God has been restored to the earth and we can all be blessed by it. Families were meant to be eternal and they can be through the restored gospel. How precious it is to know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us infinitely and intimately and that we can return to live with him one day! I love being a missionary. I know God pours out blessings on his missionaries. I believe in the gift of tongues and that God puts us in the place we are most needed. I’ve seen it so many ways! Can’t wait to see my family, but this is the most bitter sweet thing I’ve ever experienced. I know I have been changed immensely from my service, but I know that it will continue to have an effect on me many years from now. Ok. I’m finished. (Almost). In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Love you all!
Hakuna Matata,
Hermana McKay
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Hair Dryers and Hot Tamales-Part 2

Hair Dryers and Hot Tamales-Part 2

Me, Sis Hymas, and family!

​Saturday we also helped Elvira make tamales for the fireside! So fun! I am becoming quite the little mexican woman…

…and a round one at that…Ahem…Let me explain…Friday we were sooooo hungry around 3. And Maria Elena had been sick, so we went to Dillons to get her some Abuelita hot cocoa…and got a snack. Or a lunch…And then we went to Maria Elena’s house…and she wasn’t sick anymore. But of course she was in the middle of cooking. She ALWAYS feeds us when we go over. Without fail. And it’s always delicious, but I was about to explode by the time we finished eating. She thinks that they are supposed to feed us every time we come over hahaha. But wait. It gets better. After that…we had a dinner appointment to go to. 3 full sized meals in 3 hours. I will be grateful to be able to turn down food when I get home haha. But times like this I’m especially grateful to be the tallest woman in the spanish branch. I can carry the not-so-few extra pounds better than most haha. I don’t even know how much I weigh anymore. I’ve given up on scales. Have you noticed I’ve mentioned food in every single one of my e-mails? Surprising, I know. What? I’m a growing girl!

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This is the Retana family. They are awesome. She’s also teaching me to cook…

Hair Dryers and Hot Tamales-Part 1

Hair Dryers and Hot Tamales-Part 1

WELL THIS IS IT! THE GRAND FINALE TO THE
BEST 18 MONTHS AND 2 WEEKS OF MY LIFE!

First off: It is so great having Sister Beuchert in Topeka. Every district meeting is such a party. And we can call eachother all the time without having to ask anyone haha.

Second: I am the tallest woman in the spanish branch. Yessssssssssss. I also lead the music in sacrament meeting and played the piano yesterday (terribly though, so don’t get any ideas…)
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I love this branch with all my heart. These ladies are all so amazing and have such unique circumstances that they each have to deal with. I am constantly impressed and moved by their courage and strength. And their love! They just adopted us into the family instantly! Sunday during Relief Society Hermana Bowman pulled out a book with pictures of Kansas and said that because it was my last sunday, they wanted to do something special for me. So they had all signed the inside cover of my book about Kansas and then she arranged to have us take this picture so she could print it for me before I left. Ironically, I was fasting out of gratitude on Sunday, and by the end of the day I was 1000 times more grateful than before! Ahhh! We’ll never catch up to the blessings the Lord gives us, will we? By the way, remember how my goal was to have 50 people at sacrament before I left? Well, we didn’t get it. But we got 49!!! I’d count that as a success!

Wow, what to say, right?
Where do I start?
This is about how I feel…

Haha. This was after the fireside on Saturday night. I looked down and saw my name tag and just about lost it haha. I love it so much I’ll keep it on any way I can! Speaking of the fireside, so much fun! It was kindof a “Sister McKay Concert…” ok, not really, but I was the lead singer in our little spanish band. Sister Hymas and I did two numbers, she and Elder Pettit did one on the violin, and I did another one with Elder Inzunza (me on guitar with him on the accordion–Jesus es mi luz. Super bien.) It was so low key and fun. We had about 40 people come, so not too bad! The sisters told us they loved it and they all felt the spirit. Also in attendance was Sister Hymas’ family from Omaha! She got permission from President Bell for them to come visit, so we got to go out to dinner with them and then they came to the fireside after. Her aunt and cousins aren’t members of the church, so we sure hope they all enjoyed it! They seemed like they did. I think I’ll continue my recap this week a little backwards… And in another e-mail because I’ve run out of picture space…

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Long lost brother?

Long lost brother?

What you are about to see will
blow your mind….

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Does anyone else see an uncanny resemblance to Derek in this young man?
It took almost everything inside of me not to run and jump him with a giant hug. So strange.
His name is Tarin. He’s two years younger than Derek, but maybe they will be mission
companions somewhere haha.

Hakuna Matata,
Hermana McKay

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Stupid Snowcones and Arranged Farewells

So…I lost my scriptures. Saddest day of my life. They were lost somewhere between the laundry mat and the library two weeks ago. 1 1/2 years of revelation written in the margins. I’m hoping that if I just pray really hard I’ll find them outside of our apartment one morning, kindof like Lehi and the liahona…that’d be great.

Well, hopefully I can sum this week up in a concise manner…maybe not. Do I ever? Here we go! This week fleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew! Loved it!

Monday Hermana Hymas and I decided to try out the only snow cone shack in Topeka (and Kansas, I think…). We were sorely disappointed. Bummer. There was no comparison. They weren’t even snow cones. They were crushed ice cones. Way too crunchy. I at least liked the flavor, but Sister Hunter’s was way weird. So, simply put, I look forward to a real snow cone when I come back haha! I love Kansas with all my heart, but they could work on their snow cones.
Alright…lost scriptures…stupid snow cones…that’s about enough negativity for one letter. Let’s move on!

Monday morning I listened to a talk called “The Atonement: After All We Can Do” by Brad Wilcox (I think…brad or michael, one of the two). It helped me reflect on a lot of things, especially the expectations I have for myself. He talked about how so many times we wonder if we have done “enough” when we really should be asking if God accepts what we have done. Well Tuesday morning, I decided to ask if what I had done on my mission was acceptable to the Lord…
I didn’t get a yes. But I didn’t get a no either. I got a “not yet.” At the time I was really disappointed! But after a lot of reflecting, I decided that this is exactly what I needed to hear because I’m not finished yet! There are still things I need to do on my mission, and I still have time to accomplish them! Later that day in district meeting, I was asked to give a training on the Book of Mormon. As I was training, I was still a little sad for not getting a “yes” in my prayer earlier that morning. But then out of the blue, I was flooded with all kinds of memories of my mission, especially the time in the MTC when Elder Holland commissioned us to “astonish people” and to bring home one convert–ourselves. As I testified about the Book of Mormon, I was filled with a beautiful sweet feeling that told me that I had succeeded. I had astonished myself and was converted to the gospel. NOTHING BETTER THAN THAT. So moral of this story is, no, he hasn’t accepted my service yet because I’m not done yet, but he did tell me that I was on the right track!

Next day. Wednesday. Par-tay. Sister Bell came to play. But seriouslay. She came up to work with us for the day and take us out to lunch. Why were we so lucky? I have no idea. Maybe it’s because I’m about to “die” soon, maybe we just won the mission lottery, who knows? All I know is that is was SO FUN. We went to Olive Garden, laughed, cried, went to some appointments, got a sneak peak at the new mission cd (I’ll discuss that later), went out to ice cream, and then met back at the church because she was going to take Sister Macovichuk to wichita for her departure the next day. Oh and she brought Sis. Beuchert up from Dodge City. YES MY FIRST BORN BABY IS BACK!

Thursday we spent some time working on our fireside. It is going to be so sweet! I love these things. Maybe I’ll keep planning firesides for the rest of my life…(could that be prophetic?)

Friday. LAST ZONE CONFERENCE EVER (as a 22 year old…)! And I finally had to give my departing testimony. I learned a lot of things while I was up there. You know how the testimony comes in the bearing of it? I testify to that! After I had been up there for a few minutes I turned to President Bell and said, “I just don’t want to sit down because that means my departing testimony is finished…and we all know what that means.” But I did end up finally sitting down. Haha. President Bell shared his experience about being called as the mission president, and it was amazing to hear because it was very similar to a dream that I had before my mission. I don’t have time to go into details now, but maybe I’ll share it next week. πŸ™‚ Let me just say that it was a huge confirmation that I was supposed to serve in the Kansas Wichita Mission from the very beginning. This place was meant for me and I was meant for it. Huge tender mercy, especially in the sunset of my mission. So I talked about that a little bit in my testimony. The spanish sisters in our branch cooked lunch for zone conference. Everyone loved it and was super jealous that they didn’t get to eat like that every day like we do. I am not ashamed of the extra few inches I’ve acquired. They were acquired with so much love πŸ™‚ We also got the long awaited mission cds! So fun! I am in 8 of the songs…haha…Funny. I didn’t plan that, they just kindof put a lot of them in. πŸ™‚

So cool miracle: the family of 7? with the 5 kids? We went over to see them on Friday and they were having a HUGE fiesta because after 14 years of being together, the parents are finally getting married!!! Yay!!! (We didn’t even know they weren’t married. Serves us right for assuming.) But look at them, preparing themselves to be baptized without us even teaching them about the law of chastity yet!

Saturday night one of the members took us to this cool Japanese grill place where they cook the food in front of you. So cool! And then Sunday we had what I would call “Hermana McKay’s farewell.” President Dodd asked me to speak and do a musical number (with my acoustic) because I was leaving soon. He even announced it during sacrament meeting that I only had a week and a half left. Thanks, Pres. But it was fun. For once I spoke without notes in spanish! Quite the accomplishment! (The accomplishment really is that they understood me haha) I got to speak about “The Importance of Hymns.” Cool topic, huh? And then Sis. Hymas and I did an arrangement I composed to “There is a Green Hill Far Away.” I sang and played the guitar and Sister Hymas played the violin. We borrowed a violin from a member in one of the other wards who didn’t hesitate. Come to find out, it is a 130 year old antique! We are very careful with it.

Can you tell by now that a mission is the best thing ever? Until next week, love you all! Hakuna Matata,
Hermana McKay

P.S.

3000 more words.

Hermana McKay

Giant Eagles and Fireworks

Giant Eagles and Fireworks

Welllllll, one week down, 79 more weeks to go! (I’ve started my mission over, just in case you weren’t aware.)

No matter how old I sometimes feel on my mission, I am always reminded in some way or another that in order to truly understand things, I must become as a little child. The following is a list of direct quotes from a lesson with a 6-year-old named Noah that we taught on Saturday. Topics covered: Prayer, God is our Heavenly Father, the Holy Ghost, and Jesus is not still dead.

1. Your dad is God? Woah. (But he’s your dad, too.) But I already have a dad.
2. What was your dad’s name while he was up there? Was it the same?

3. When we lit fireworks last night I felt good inside my heart. That’s cuz it’s God.

4. Don’t tell me you’re giving me another book.

5. (Talking about Jesus after he resurrected) But where are his wings? How does he fly? Does a giant eagle come and pick him up?

6. (Talking about the Holy Ghost) I didn’t know there were nice ghosts.

7. Resurrection? That’s a new word. I don’t know that word.

8. There are 3 powerful things in the world. Bigfoot, tornadoes, godzilla, and…bears? (But that’s 4.) …Wolves?…Oh! Foxes.

9. What’s a pray? I know what a predator is.

10. God is up there. He is a shadow.

We went to visit a family from Guatemala that we met during service last week. They were so funny. The sweet little abuelita kept giving us things to take home: a cook-book, hand-made scarves, a basket, and a baby dress. We didn’t ask for any of them, but she insisted, so how could we turn her down without offending her? She had made most of them herself and had even woven in some of her long hair for extra shine…ok, not really, but we did find a few strands of her hair in our scarves.

The fourth of July was memorable as well. We started out with zone training, which was my last one ever! But it was a super good one, so I can’t complain. We are working towards 75 baptisms for this mission this month! And they heart attacked out cars. I have decided to forget any diet plans I might have had before coming home (except for exercise) because my plans are sabotaged daily. Mostly just because we have trouble turning people down for food because they insist 5 or 6 times and by the 6th time we can’t deny them again! So we have 4 or 5 meals some days. We never mean to, it just happens! So the 4th was the same. And sometimes potential investigators will invite us to eat, so of course we have to accept in hopes of making them real investigators! Noah’s family was one of these families. It was so worth it. Best rice I have had on my mission. And they made grilled corn on the cob. Delicious. However, it was a little blackened from the grill and when we got into the car after to go to an appointment, we looked in the mirror and our teeth were PLASTERED with tiny specks of black. La verguenza. But funny anyways. Later that night we went with the elders equipped with hymn books, the guitar, and the accordian and went to find some new investigators around Lake Shawnee where everyone was gathered for the fireworks. Someone told me American Idol was waiting for me. Haha. We didn’t get to stay out late or anything, but we could see some of the fireworks from our balcony after we’d gotten home. So we planned for the next day on our balcony as fireworks exploded above us.

This just in: Sister Beuchert is getting transferred to Lake Shawnee, which is the area right next to us! PARTY! She leaves tomorrow to take Sister Macovichuk’s place when she goes home this week.

Also. Coolest way to end the week. We found the family of 7 we have been praying for! (We think) Last night we found Matias and Rosa and their 5 children (ages 13, 12, 8, 6, & 5). They were a referral Sis. Jennings and I received a long time ago that we hadn’t been able to contact yet. We contacted them, taught the restoration, they committed to read, pray, and come to church, and we invited them to be baptized (which they accepted, but not a specific date yet), and then we were out in our car again, all in under 30 minutes. Best, fastest, and most efficient lesson we have ever taught as companions. PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM! This is potentially the family we have been promised we would find in many different ways and times. Matias, Rosa, Betsy, Cristian, Rosalin, Valentin, and Matias.

Also, I scored another goal in soccer last week. Saweeeet!

Happy fourth from us and the car that has so many miles it should be retired but we drive it anyways.
Also: Do you like our shirts? We got them from a thrift store. Twinners! And Elder Pettit successfully photo bombed this picture. I didn’t even realize he was in it until I was loading it today.

Our girl Jackie made us cake pops shaped like pandas. yay πŸ™‚

Love you all, have a super week! (Sister Bell is coming to party with us this week. So excited.)
Hakuna Matata,
Hermana McKay
(Swoops off to change someone’s life on a giant eagle)

Pig Skins and Swimming Pools

Pig Skins and Swimming Pools

I see skies of blue, converts in white, and I think to myself, what a wonderful woild! What an amazing week! First of all, Maria Elena and her grandson Kevin were baptized this weekend! I don’t think I have even started to describe what a huge miracle she is. I’ve known her the whole time I’ve been here in Topeka, and I talked to her a couple of times, but didn’t really think she was very interested in learning about the church. I had no idea how much the Lord was preparing her to hear the restored gospel. Here’s our time line: Sunday, 15 June, she randomly showed up to church with her family, so we asked her after sacrament ended if we could teach her. Tuesday, 17 June, we taught her the restoration at her daughter Elvira’s house and invited her to be baptized on 28 June, 11 days out, which she accepted. Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we taught Maria Elena and her grandson Kevin all of the lessons, Friday, 27 June, she passed her baptismal interview, and Saturday, 28 June 2014 she was baptized! This was the fastest progression I have ever seen on my mission, but it was simply because she was so prepared and ready for the gospel! She loves everything that we’ve taught her and we are so excited for her and the blessings she will continue to receive! It was amazing to feel how strong the Spirit was when we would teach her. And did I mention she only speaks spanish? NO ENGLISH. Okay. I do not have very much time on my mission. Do not be surprised when I come home and my spanish is not very good. Because in reality, it is not very good. But it is good enough to be an effective servant of the Lord because he blesses us with the gift of tongues to communicate his message every day. So I consider it a huge miracle that we were able to help her progress so fast and she still had such a solid understanding of the gospel.
Saturday was an incredibly special day for Topeka. Just in the Topeka area, there were 7 people baptized! Five of them were from our district!
Let me tell you about our baptismal service on Saturday.
It was supposed to start at 4. As a branch, we run on a different standard of time. It started at 4:30 right on the dot. Here’s the crazy part. There were 35 people at the baptism. Only 7 of them (besides the missionaries) were actually members of the branch. The rest were investigators and family members. Maria Elena’s entire family came (except for her husband) to support her even though there are no other members besides Elvira and her family. President and Sister Bell also came (and got to practice their spanish)! It was incredible. Maria Elena asked me to sing a song with my guitar at the baptism, so I sang “El Cristo Es” (“This Is The Christ”). And then of course, there was a whole bunch of applause from Maria Elena’s family. But it didn’t stop there! Nope. They also applauded after each baptism. It was so exciting. Sister Hymas and I were laughing our heads off out of pure happiness.
After the baptism we had a…
FIESTA!! Of course! Elvira, her daughter Jackie, and Maria Elena worked so hard to make food for everyone who came and we all ate and talked in the gym following the baptism. So great.
Then that evening we got to go to another baptism Sister Macovichuk and her companion were having and we sat right behind President and Sister Bell. Those two are hysterical. President Bell let me look at the mission facebook page because he posted a picture of our baptism on it. WEIRD. Facebook. I’m actually glad I never got to use it on my mission haha. Then they had a competition to see who could back our car out the best when we were going home that evening. They’re the best.
Okay. Here’s the blue ribbon story for the week:
Sunday during sacrament Maria Elena and Kevin were confirmed! After Kevin’s blessing, Jackie (his sister) leaned over to me and said, “They got his name wrong again. They did that yesterday at the baptism.” Uh oh…The witnesses didn’t even catch it the day before, and no one said anything either, until Jackie mentioned it to me. So I wrote a little message to President Dodd and explained what happened and asked, “Is that ok? Does it need to be done again? We can go fill up the font right now!” Long story short, right after church we went to fill up the font again so Kevin could be baptized correctly by his real name. BUT, turning off the water is a bit confusing because both handles go in separate directions…we thought they went the same…and thought we had turned it off…but we hadn’t. Whoops…We came back 10 minutes later to find we had flooded the women’s dressing room with 1 1/2 inches of COLD WATER. Which meant the font was cold too…Sorry Kevin. Remember how my first baptism we used pots to boil water to put into the font? This time we used pots to take water out of the font because it wasn’t draining fast enough. iyiyiyiy. But after about 7,000 trips to the shower drain with giant pots and lots of mopping, we had cleaned up enough and removed enough water to put some hot water in. Closest thing to swimming I’ve had on my mission!
We had a small little baptism at 5:30 that night with just us, the elders, Elvira’s family and Maria Elena, the branch president, and the branch secretary. Baptisms are so important to the Lord. They must be done the right way!
Other things worth mentioning that happened this week:
1. Forced down a pig-skin taco. Most disgusting thing in the world. Like a greasy taco filled with strips of fat. Nasty.
2. I scored a goal in indoor soccer. Who knew soccer skills came with the gift of tongues?
3. Attended a baby shower for one of our members…ate baby food and bottle fed Sister Hymas…can’t say I’ve ever done that on my mission.
4. Didn’t have anything to give her, so I drew that “Bundle of Joy” card while we were eating dinner. Told her she had to frame it πŸ™‚
5. Got an incredible priesthood blessing that gave me some amazing and needed counsel.
6. Dyed my hair…haha yeaaaaah…it’s brown. Surprise!

Love you all! Have a great week!
Hakuna Matata,
Hermana McKay

Pig Skins and Swimming Pools Continued

Pig Skins and Swimming Pools Continued

Here’s a couple more pictures:

Visions and Memories

Visions and Memories

Hello from the happiest place on earth!
You know, I only have about 4 of these e-mails left to write…WHAT???

Anyways…another EXCEPTIONAL week! Remember Maria Elena who came to church last Sunday? She is getting baptized this Saturday! What a huge miracle! Pray that everything goes as planned. Tuesday we went to our lesson with her and invited her to be baptized–which she accepted—and then we’ve continued to see her every day since then. She came to church again on Sunday and is living the word of wisdom and reading the Book of Mormon. I will explain more about Maria Elena on another day, but she is a huge answer to our prayers and fasts. We did another fast as a zone on Wednesday so that everyone in our zone would have a baptism in July and so that our mission can meet its goal for June. I love fasting and have such a huge testimony of it!
Thursday we found a new service opportunity at a place called “Doorstep,” and helped them organize and arrange clothing and other items with the sisters in our branch. Afterwards we went to teach Maria Elena, and then we went to a member’s home and found a baby frozen in jello…

Strangest thing I have ever seen.
Then the next day we accidentally ate 5 meals…accidentally because we had no idea we were even going to have the extra 2…Welcome to the spanish branch, Hermana Hymas!
Saturday was one of the sweetest experiences I’ve ever had on my mission and probably that I’ll ever have in my life. Sahar, who was baptized June 1, 2013 when I was serving in Andover received her mission call to Los Angeles, CA and will be leaving on July 9! So Sister Hymas and I got to go to the Kansas City Temple with her on Saturday as she went through for the first time! The spirit was so strong and that was one of the most meaningful sessions I have been to. I asked her how she felt afterwards and she said, “I just feel right. I feel really good.” I am so grateful I was lucky enough to be in Topeka at the time she went through the temple! How many missionaries get to have the experience of going through the temple with one of their first converts on their mission a year later? I will cherish that memory forever! Afterwards we got permission from President Bell to go to dinner with her in Kansas City, so we went to Costa Vida! I haven’t had that since before my mission! I LOVE that place.

This has just been an incredible past couple of weeks. One year ago almost to the day (when we went through) the whole mission went through the Kansas City Temple for the last time as a mission before it split and I stayed in the Kansas mission. It was really cool to go back. It just took me back to the beginning of my mission. Heavenly Father has been giving me so many tender mercies!
And then Sunday, Maria Elena went to church and we had 47 people there! My goal before I leave is 50, so we’re only 3 away! The highest it’s been before now was 41, so we’re doing good! Then that evening, we had just taught Maria Elena (and I ate menudo…which was surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be…) and there were 15 minutes left in the day to find a new investigator. We had no idea where to go, so we said a prayer and I had an image of a green house pop into my mind…didn’t know where to find the green house, but I started driving on all kinds of random new streets and was led right to the green house that I had pictured! New investigator!
I never want to leave this field that is so full of miracles. Missionaries, DON’T WASTE A SECOND! This is the coolest work in the world and I never want to leave!
Love you all!
Hakuna Matata,
Hermana McKay
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PICTURES WITH THE BESTIE!

PICTURES WITH THE BESTIE!

Too much fun.