Monday, November 17, 2014

Halfway Point

November 13th marked the halfway point of Elder McMurray's mission.  To date, he has served in the MTC, in Glendale, Iowa, and Eagle Run, Nebraska. After a year, he remains unfailingly upbeat and consistently succinct.  Pics, as always, are "on the way."

Hey, y'all!

This past week has been pretty good.  Several people have come back to Church and are active again.  They're giving us referrals so that's awesome.  Our investigator might need to go in for knee replacement surgery before her baptism, but she's still determined to get baptized so we're happy about that despite this obstacle.

The weather has been cold and snowy this past week and both my companion and I are excited and happy about that.  Pics are on the way!

I hope that everyone is doing well down in Houston and is staying warm.  I wish y'all a wonderful week!

Elder McMurray

Monday, November 10, 2014

On Overcoming Adversity, and Mean Grandmas

Thanks, y'all, for your emails!  It's great to hear that the work is going well in Alief.  I'm grateful for the continuing revelations and wisdom that I've gathered since I've been out in the field.  

I'm really good.  We're working with a wonderful investigator, whose baptism is set for December 6.  She's super-solid; her name's Judy and she's super fired up about the Gospel, intellectually and spiritually.  Despite some negative experiences in the way past, she's determined to be baptized and despite the fact that she's going in for surgery on her leg, she said she's putting her trust in the Lord. It's a joy and a privilege to be working with her and we are hopeful and prayerful that she will meet her goal.
Many less-active members of the ward have been returning in droves and it's been a miraculous joy to witness them not only return but actively participate in Church.  It's been particularly wonderful to work with them to prepare for the Ward's Christmas Music Program.  It's also been amazing to watch the metamorphosis of one less-active woman, broken down by anxiety, struggles with numerous temptations, and soulful anguish, blossom into a confident, happy, and earnest example to her non-member family.

Not everything that happens is super-spiritual.

Back when he was in Shenandoah, Elder Salazar was teaching an 8-year-old investigator.  Elder Salazar asked the boy, "Matt, why are we baptized?"  The kid was a brat (he's shaped up quite a bit from what I've heard), and he said, in a snotty boy voice, "To be stupid!"  Just hearing Elder Salazar imitate the way he said it cracks me up.  His grandmother exploded and says, "That's not why we're baptized!  Get over here so I can whip you!"  And she started whipping him in front of the missionaries and all the while he's like, "Noooo!!!  You're so mean to me!  I hate you, Grandma!!!" 

Luckily, not every lesson we teach ends with a beating.

I'm excited for this work to continue to move forward.  I bear solemn testimony of the divinity of the Gospel, the eternal importance of the Book of Mormon, and the divine callings of our living Prophets.  I thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers on not just my behalf, but on the behalf of the set-apart full-time missionaries who labor throughout the world.  

Elder McMurray    

Monday, November 3, 2014

Staying in Eagle Run!

We begin this week's post with some excerpts from Adam S. Miller's Letters to a Young Mormon, which we shared with Elder McMurray this week:

On prayer:

When you pray, notice how the same thing happens almost every time. You address God and then you start to think about what you should say and then this prompts you to think about something else and then, caught up in thinking about this other thing, you forget that you were saying a prayer. Your brain browns out. Eventually, after a few minutes, you remember why you were kneeling there in the first place. This moment is the key. When, for the first time, you remember this, your prayer can start for real…. To pray is to practice remembering God. The more frequently you forget, the more chances you’ll have to remember, and the more you remember, the deeper your prayer will go.

On imperfect people and service:

The gospel isn’t a celebration of God’s power to work with flawless people. The gospel is a celebration of God’s willingness to work today, in our world, in our lives, with people who clearly aren’t….Our prophets and leaders will not turn out to be who you want them to be. They are not, in fact, even what God might want them to be. But they are real and God really can, nonetheless, work through their imperfections to extend his perfect love.

On families:

The tree of life is the family tree: God is the root of that living tree and we are its branches.

On living the Law of Consecration:

The law of consecration is an open hand. It is a certain way of receiving with open hands what God gives and returning with open hands all of the same. The law of consecration is a way of saying “yes” rather than “no” to the costs of life.  Have no doubt, these costs are high. Each of us will sacrifice everything. We will lose everyone and everything and everyplace we’ve ever been given. Even if we stay put and stay together, neither we nor they will stay the same. All of it will change and all of it will pass into what comes next and there is no going back. The question is, will we greet this passing with a closed fist and a hard heart or with an open palm and a consecrated life?

Hey, all!

Thanks for the update on how everyone's doing.  And thank you for those quotes.  Their truths ring strong and have been great foundational stones for testimony-building.  This past week has been pretty good; many returning less-actives and potential investigators are continuing to come out of the woodwork.  One of them is a very inquisitive lady who had a nasty experience with Church members in Indiana a long time ago but she's willing to be baptized soon.  It's exciting. 

Transfers happened this week; we are still in Eagle Run!  We're both happy about that. 

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and I send my love and prayers.


Elder McMurray