Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"We have heard the voice of an apostle"

Terve Perhe! 

Yes that's right. The long awaited time has come and the silence is broken. Okay that's a little dramatic, but seriously, we've been waiting to hear from a member of the Twelve at a fireside or devotional for the whole time we've been here. That's not meant to detract from the other speakers, all of whom have been fantastic, but hearing from an apostle is always something special. Last night was no exception. We knew it was someone big because they wouldn't show who it was on the slideshow they have running before the meeting like they usually do, and twice before the meeting started they had someone stand up and talk to us about proper respect for servants of God. Then while we were singing prelude hymns, none other than Elder Jefferey R. Holland walked into the room. I almost passed out. We all got so excited. His talk was fantastic. Think like his talk on the Book of Mormon last conference good. And just as intense. I wish I could include everything he said, but there just isn't time. He talked to us for so long about the burden that we bear as the missionaries of this dispensation. All the significant missionary work of the history of this world is being done by the members of the church in this dispensation according to Elder Holland. He said, "Prophets, apostles, and missionaries of old took heart, even when they saw their own failed efforts and their people begin to fall into apostasy, because they saw our day and your efforts and the success of missionary work in the last days." And then he got very serious. You all know the voice. It's the one he used in his Book of Mormon talk. He said, in the voice of one ordained to speak on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Many have given their lives, some as recent as four days ago, for this work. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to disrespect their sacrifice by not giving your whole heart and soul to this work." Yeah, I'm gonna think about THAT the next time I want to complain about being tired or that the language is hard. Incidentally, does anyone know what he was referring to to when he said "four days ago." I wish I could've counted the number of times he used the words "you have no right" last night, hammering home the gravity of our work and our need to take it seriously. Not just to take it seriously. It was deeper than that. It's that we should make it a part of us permanently. It should never leave us. He said the thing that makes him the most upset is when missionaries return home and immediately go back to the way they were without any knowledge of why they left in the first place. I already don't ever want to come home, so I think I'm on the right track. I've become lost in this work. No, not just the MTC (because yes, I have forgotten that BYU has started up again), but this work. I can't stop thinking about Finland and the people I will teach. 

Elder Holland talked a lot about the idea of "passing the baton" in our church in terms of missionary work and leadership service and everything. We always pass on the responsibility. Then he said, "Take me for example. I've got one foot in the grave, and the other on a banana peel. I'm almost out of here." Hilarious. But really sad. I really hope it's a long time before we lose him to his continued work beyond the veil. 

Speaking of Finland, had my first full, complete conversation with a native Finn in only Finnish a couple days ago. It was short, he said more than I did, but it happened. It is in fact possible. 

Got an awesome package from Whitney the other day. All this candy and chocolate from Vienna (so good!) along with a nice letter and a copy of a scripture memorization technique. Really excited to start using that. 

So Elder Hoggard and I were practicing door approaches the other day and we came up with the greatest one ever. One companion stands at the door and says, "Hello. We have a message for you from God" whereupon his companion (standing out of sight) drops a Book of Mormon into his hands as though it fell from heaven. The first companion, with a straight face, and as though it was nothing, simply continues, "It's the Book of Mormon, may we come in and teach you about it?" Our teachers thought it was hilarious. One of them was like, "Why didn't I think of that? I totally would've used that in Finland." Either we're getting really creative as a result of the Spirit, or it's just time for us to get out of here. 

So one of the unfortunate parts of being in tht MTC for so long is that everyone thinks you're really old. I had some of our new english elders come up to us at lunch last week and say, with absolute sincerity, "so you're an RM right?" Do I really look that old? They honestly thought we were called to come back to MTC and just be zone leaders for young missionaries. I need to get out of here...... 

Family, my time on this strange thing called to internet is up. But before I go I want to write something I thought of while listening to Elder Holland speak last night. 

"If this burden is the cross Christ spoke of when he said to take up our cross and follow him, then I will bear it gladly, for I know that this burden will carry me forward much more than I will carry it forward." 

Love you all, 

Elder McKay

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