Ed. Note: We got a call from the MTC the other day, telling us that McKay was having problems with his knee, and that they were sending him to see a specialist. But it sounds like it's not too serious. Also, we got his travel itinerary - he leaves SLC at 10:47 am on Monday 9/19 and arrives in Helsinki at about noon on Tuesday 9/20, with stops in Chicago and Frankfurt.
Here's his email from this morning:
OK first things first. My knee is fineeeee. It's just some discomfort, probably a little inflammation, but it's no big deal. The church is just super protective of its missionaries so they're sending me to a specialist to make sure it's nothing serious. Which I already know it isn't, so don't worry.
I'll try to call you from Salt Lake and not call from Germany. Basically, once that flight takes off from Salt Lake, I want to be all business, totally 100 percent missionary mode.
Erik, so great to hear about your time with Elder Bednar. I love hearing your stories about the Chinese people you're teaching. One of our teachers is playing a Chinese man as a "progressing investigator" right now, and he's so hilarious. I can tell he actually taught a lot of Chinese in Finland because when I read your stories of actual Chinese, it sounds EXACTLY like Veli Thatcher as "John". Can't wait to be less than 500 miles away from you in about a week. Can't wait.
It's been an awesome week this week. Except for the fact that we all went a little crazy when we got our travel plans. I started packing early this morning. I just can't wait to get to Finland. Veli Stewart, the other group's teacher who has been helping in our class twice a week now that school has started and everyone's schedule is all crazy, showed us a bunch of pictures of Finland and we all almost died. Seriously, probably the most beautiful place I will ever see. Puts Hawaii to shame most of the time. SO COOL.
Our devotional last night was from Elder M. Russell Ballard. So fantastic. Had a lot of really specific advice about using Preach My Gospel more effectively and things like that, but one of the best things he said was actually a quote from the Prophet Joseph, spoken to Wilford Woodruff as he was preparing to head out as a missionary. The Prophet reminded him, "No matter what comes, round up your shoulders and bear it." Great advice. I've faced a lot of adversity in the MTC, and mostly from sources I didn't expect it to come from. Like this business with my knee. Couldn't have expected that, but it's here, and I'm going to work through it just fine.
Other things he said:
"Keep the Gospel as simple as possible when you teach" I think that's so true. Too often (especially in Gospel Doctrine) we try to overcomplicate the gospel.
"Keep focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ" yeah, enough said.
"Pray with faith and determination*"
*"Another word for determination is goals"
And finally, he quoted Pres. Hinckley and said, "Teach the missionaries to be themselves." We have to be genuine when we teach. We are not there to sell a product, to convince people to join, or even to be charismatic in our spreading of the gospel so that people will want to be our friends. We are to be ourselves, and be our best selves. The best example is the extraordinary life of a Latter-day Saint (pretty sure that was also President Hinckley).
I read something really interesting this week. I've started studying the New Testament again. First, the Epistle of James might be my new favorite book in the entire Bible. Just loaded with doctrine, especially relating to faith and the need to act. Love it. Second, read through the gospel of Matthew and count how many times it says "that the word might be fulfilled...." Christ truly came as the fulfillment of all prophecy. In Him and His great sacrifice, we find fulfillment. So interesting to read. And also to trace back through the Old Testament to find those original prophecies. Most of them are actually there if you do some digging.
Last, I love some of the Finnish translations of scripture. When Christ says, "Come follow me" in Finnish the translation is "Lahde minun mukaani" which means literally, "leave along with me." When we choose to take up the path of the disciple, we must of necessity leave where we are, either physically or spiritually. The comfort we can take is that no matter where we are asked to go, either literally or figuratively, it will always lift us higher if we are following the example of the Master, the one who has walked this path before us to pave the way. I love my Savior.
Time's past gotta run. Love you all very much.