[Ed. note: McKay's Grandpa Chuck passed away late Saturday. We sent a note to the mission president, who called McKay with the sad news. In his response to our email, he gave us an update on McKay, including the transfer news. Below is McKay's email for this week]
This week practically the entire mission will be on trains moving to new areas. We had a lot of leadership go home this change, so we needed a lot of people to replace them. Really exciting! I guess President already spilled that I will be going senior. The missionary coming to replace Elder L is Elder D, one of the missionaries who was one transfer behind me in the MTC. So, we're both still pretty new, but so far President has been doing that a lot - putting missionaries who have been in the country for about the same amount of time together instead of splitting them up so much. I'm excited. And slightly terrified. Good to know I have so much support from all sides.
Elder L and I had a really fun week together this week. We were both very sure he would be leaving after this week, so we tried everything we could to make it the best week we'd ever had. I'm not sure if it really was, but it was fun and we saw some miracles.
We finally got to get back out to Munsala and visit A and T. It was way nice to see them again before Elder L left. We actually got to spend a lot of time with their neighbor and friend, and her husband who is not a member. He (the husband) has usually just stayed out of the conversation when we talked about the gospel, but this time Elder L and I got to have a really, really good discussion about prayer and what his views on religion are. He's never really seen it as a happy thing, he said. It was mostly a punishment and "fear God" mentality when he was growing up, so he saw no value in it for him. Elder L testified perfectly, and quoted 2 Nephi 2:25 - "Men are that they might have joy." That is the voice we raise as members of this church. This life is one of joy. We invited them to come and play floorball with us Friday night and they got really excited. The whole family came! The parents and their two small kids. Their son (around 10) was the most excited out of all of them. When they got there, they told us he had been waiting all day for this. Unfortunately, most of the crowd that usually comes was sick or out of town, so it was just the six of us, but in a way that helped it be a little less-intimidating for the husband, I think. We had a blast and their son scored the winning goal as time expired! He was so pumped. There is no greater joy in this life than seeing pure happiness in the face of another and knowing that you somehow helped put it there.
Friday night we got the call that Elder L would be leaving. Not a surprise. Then he handed the phone to me and I got the news about going senior companion. I knew it was an option, but I was still a bit surprised. I'm very excited for that. It's going to be great.
Saturday we met with a member family with whom we have been praying in behalf of their friends. The mom of this family has given a Book of Mormon to her friend, but didn't really know where to go after that in terms of inviting her friend to learn. She told us she had prayed for a long time about how she could help get the missionaries into this woman's home, but she just didn't see how it could work. Well, Elder L had a different idea, and I believe it was absolutely inspired. He asked if they would be up for inviting this friend over for FHE at their home, and inviting us to share a message as part of it. I love the idea. We're not sure how long it will take to get it organized, but this whole member family is really excited about the idea too!
Sunday night we met with B, and we've planned to teach him all the lessons before he goes to China in June, and then teach them all to him again after he gets back, so he can be ready to be baptized. He's absolutely hilarious, I love meeting with him.
I got a call from President late Sunday night, informing me that Grandpa Chuck had passed away. That news was hard to hear. To have lost now both Grandpas in less than a year, and both while as a missionary, makes my heart feel pretty heavy. The blow is softened, however, by the beautiful plan of our great Creator. Through the power of Jesus Christ's Atonement, all will live again. Grandpa Chuck is now in the loving care of our Father in Heaven, where we know he will receive a great reward for his faithfulness here. But perhaps what he left behind will be even greater still. He left a behind a life of caring. An example of concern and love. He blessed the lives of children and grandchildren, who will in their turn, go on to bless others' lives for eternity. He gave freely to us all, and desired only our love in return. That love I gladly give forever.
I love you all, it's only a little over a month till Mother's Day! Say hi to the ward from me.