Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012 Letter

Disclaimer** You will need tissues for this post if you have children.**
Hello Hello,
I don't quite know how to start this letter, but here it goes...This past week has been one of the most exciting and frightening weeks of my life. We had a lessons with a lot of wonderful people. We have met with people that we haven't taught in a long time who are so excited to get back on track. We have been through the most up and downs than I ever have been before. Here's a little bit about our week:
On Tuesday we attended an all day meeting in Longview. That was really interesting because it was my last big meeting as a missionary. It really hasn't sunk in yet. It really seems like I just KNOW I'm getting transferred, but President hasn't told me where yet, ya know? Anyways, the meeting went wonderful. I got to see a lot of missionaries that I saw when they first got into the mission field. It's weird to think that they have all been out for a year now. I still feel like I have only been out for a year or so and they are just fresh off of the plane. Apparently that's not true anymore.
Wednesday morning we got to go and do some service out at Brother Thomas' ranch. Yes, this is the same ranch where I assisted in the birth of a cow. Our task that morning was to ween the calves from their mothers. Sounds pretty easy right? Well, let me tell you, it's definitely not as easy as it may sound. We started off in the pasture. Brother Thomas said that he would drive the tractor out there with some hay and the cows would follow him all the way into the corral. Sure enough those stupid cows followed him into the corral. So now it is our job to take them through all of these different gates and sort them as we go. My job was to man the gate. Great. We had three guys going around in the herd prodding the cows toward me. My job was simple. Let the big ones go by and stop the little ones. Brother Thomas gave me this piece of water line and said, "Okay, don't let any of the little calves go by you." I'm thinking...umm...so you want me to stop a cow with a hose...got it. Don't ask me why, but for some reason those cows listened to what I said when I was waving the hose around in the air. No hose in the air= no movement of cows. Hose in the air= cows run where you want them to. Okay...I got this. We had a ton of fun helping Brother Thomas. The really funny thing is that he really did need our help. We just felt like we were playing a game, sorting cows and what not, but it meant a lot to Brother Thomas. I think that the hardest thing about sorting all of those cattle, was trying not to step in the BIG piles of crap. Little ones= you can still walk. Big ones= you sink.
Friday morning we went and got two of the marriage licenses taken care of for our investigators. We got everything squared away and were so excited for their marriages on Sunday. The other couple that needs to get married, planned on getting married Tuesday the 24th, but there have been some recent changes. That leads us to Saturday.
Saturday afternoon we were informed that our investigator and his family were involved in a car accident. We were in a lesson when our Branch President called and told us the news. He said that their vehicle had rolled and they were all taken to the hospital. We rescheduled the rest of our appointments for the day and went around trying to figure out which hospital they had been taken to. We stopped by our good friend who told us that the car had rolled twice and two children were thrown from the vehicle, and one of them was their one month old baby. My heart sank. I had a million memories of these children flash through my mind. We asked where they were, and our friend did not know. We called the hospital in Idabel and found out that that is where they had been taken. They told us that only 3 members of the family were listed there. They wouldn't give us any information over the phone, so we rushed there from Broken Bow. The whole way praying that the family would be alright. The thought that two of the children were not listed with the other family members made us extremely worried. We arrived at the hospital and were taken directly to the ER by one of the sons in the family. Elder Sproul went to see the mother while I went to check on one of the children. She was laid out on the stretcher, still strapped in. I asked if she was alright and she wouldn't respond. I asked if she was scared and her eyes welled up and she nodded her head slightly. I promised her that everything was going to be okay. Deep down, wondering if that was true. She was stable, no apparent broken bones or anything, so I joined my companion across the curtain. The mother was in the same circumstance. Her vitals were okay, though she seemed to be short of breath. All she kept asking was, "Where's my baby?!" We went to check on dad. Dad explained to us what had happened. We found out that there were only two children involved in the accident. The young girl was the one whom I had just seen and the other was the one month old. The baby had been life flighted to a hospital in Louisiana. The Dad kept asking, "Is the baby okay?!" I didn't have any answers. My heart felt as though it were going to burst. I felt every pain in that man's eyes. Wondering if his child was going to be okay. His eyes filled with tears as I told him that I did not know how the baby was. He reached down into his pocket and pulled out a tiny white and blue sock. He wiped his eyes with his baby's sock and then proceeded to pray. We got news from the nurse that the little girl was going to be taken off of the stretcher and cleared for release. About at that time we were giving blessings to both the Father and Mother. Both were promised that their family would be safe and heal quickly. It was a waiting game for about three hours. In that time we found out that the Mother had a fracture in her neck and was going to be air lifted to a hospital in Tulsa for surgery. The Father was going to be released as soon as his CT scans came back clear. Meanwhile I was playing tic tac toe with the little girl. Finally the Father was cleared and we received word that the baby was in stable condition. We saw the Mother air lifted to Tulsa and the Father released to go home with his little girl. Those were miracles in and of themselves. Our day ended waiting to hear about the baby.
Sunday we were informed that the baby was okay, and was going to be released today (Monday the 23rd). Wonderful news! On top of that we received a phone call from the son in the family telling us that the Mother had already been released from the hospital and was home. Miracles. I love this work. I love the Lord. I love all of you.
-Elder McNinch

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 16, 2012 Letter

Okay...well first...mom. So in the branch that I am in there is a Bundy family. No, I don't think that they are related to ted. Anyways...he grew up close to Datona. I told him that you were born in Deland and he got all excited saying that they used to do stake activities and stuff with youth from Deland...so I don't know if you knew him or not, but his name is Heath Bundy. He is the first councilor in the Branch Presidency here. His relatives that live in Florida are Tuckers, Heatons, Boyds (Mike and Matt), and Bundy's. Let me know if you know any of them and I will be sure to inform him of yet another crazy connection in my mission areas.

This week was really cool. We were trying really hard to get everything prepared for these next two weeks. We have 8 people getting ready to be baptized on the 28th of July, so there is a lot that we have to do to help them. That includes getting three couples married. Good news though...they all want to get married! Ah! I love when that happens! Good news number two, they are getting their marriage licenses on Friday and all getting married Sunday. So all this past week we have been reviewing all of the baptismal interview questions and making sure that there isn't anything that that would stand in the way of them being baptized on that day. I could go through and tell you about all the lessons that we had this week with all of those people, but that would take a really long time and they were mostly review lessons anyway. Spiritual, yes. Funny stories, maybe a few; but not as funny or spiritual as the things that I will write about now.
On Tuesday night we went on exchange with some Elders in our district. I was with Elder Latham. He is an amazing Elder. He speaks Spanish as his mission language, so when we started the exchange he said, "So is Marshallese like Spanish at all?" I just kind of laughed and said, "I don't know, let me know what you think after our first lesson." We went and taught our dear friend Walter and his wife the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After the lesson we were heading back to the truck and Elder Latham said, "Elder...that was nothing like Spanish." Ha ha ha. After that lesson we went to go teach a man named Mr. Guthrie. Mr. Guthrie is a little bit different than most folks. He has a sincere desire to learn, but his desire to learn isn't in any particular direction. We decided to start with some "middle ground" and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, something that he might recognize or agree with from the start. We decided to teach the mouse trap lesson about faith first. In the beginning we set the mouse trap and then ask, "Now, it would probably hurt a lot to get you fingers caught in this trap wouldn't it?" Then, at the end of the lesson the person is asked to test their faith by touching a set mouse trap. Well, after I asked the question in the beginning I was of course expecting the common "yes" answer that I have received by every person that I have ever taught this lesson to on my mission; But remember what I said about Mr. Guthrie. Just a little bit different. So I ask, "Now, it would probably hurt a lot to get you fingers caught in this trap wouldn't it?" Then, Mr. Guthrie says, "Ahh nahh, that wouldn't hurt a bit, watch." as he proceeded to stick his fingers in the mouse trap. The mouse trap did it's job, slammed right down on his hand, but all was well with Mr. Guthrie. So essentially our lesson was ruined and we related it to the Gospel some other way.
On Thursday we moved back in with the McDonald's. So never fear mom, I am not sleeping on an air matress anymore. We also made ready for the baptism of John Jacklick. We went to his house and walked him through the baptismal service. It was really fun. I love that family, but I will talk more about them later.
Friday we got called by one of our investigators requesting that we come over and teach a lesson because they couldn't wait for our scheduled appointment. I love those kind of calls. I don't think that that has ever happened to me before in the mission. It ended up working out perfectly because we had a less active member who just "happened" to be at their house when we showed up too. Anyways...that lesson went really well. We did find out that they are moving to Valliant, OK so that means that we will definitely be getting rides to each of our lessons with them. Before we had that miracle call lesson, we had a lesson with one of my favorite people in this area. His name is Darren. We found Darren at a McDonald's when we stopped for lunch. Well, of a truth, Darren found us. He is great man, with a deep southern accent. He was telling us a story about his father and he started his story like this, "My dad is a great man. He is a retard police officer..." I sat thinking to myself, "Did he really just call his dad a retard police officer?" It took me a while, but from the context of the conversation I figured out that he was saying "retired" not "retard", and that it was just his super thick accent that I couldn't interpret.
Saturday was amazing. We have been helping John get prepared for his baptisms for about 2 months now. Finally, on Saturday July 14, 2012 John Jacklick was baptized. The baptism went really smoothly. Talks were given, songs were sung, and then he was baptized. My companion relayed to me what happened we he and John went to change. He said that John sat on the little bench in the restroom stall, and just cried for a couple of minutes. He felt so happy to be clean. After they changed he came back into the service. John had asked earlier if he could bear his testimony at the baptism. Well, he came back and it was his time to shine. Only, our translator had left the building. He speaks good English, but is much more comfortable with a translator. While we had a member locate the translator he just stood at the front of the room silently. Then his little 2 year old boy came running up to him and latched himself to his leg, giving him an extra tight hug. He picked up his son and held him close. His eyes filled with tears as his little boy rested his head on his shoulder. In that moment it seemed as though the world stopped. No music, no talks, no kids screaming, just John and his boy. It was so awesome. Greatest moment of the week by far. John then bore his testimony about how he knew that someday he and his family would be together forever. This is the best work ever. Love you all.
Elder McNinch

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012 Letter

Hello Hello,
Glad to hear that everything is okay up in the great state of Wyoming. Stinks that y'all didn't get to have any fireworks. That's pretty lame. Hey guess what though? Now you know how I have felt for the past two years. Ha ha ha. No fireworks at all. Funny that Dad and Shawn mowed a lawn this past week, because we did too; and OH MY GOODNESS, it was crazy. I'll have to tell you about it later in this email. Other things to address: I would really love to hear the edited version of Grandpa's "heart to heart" with Shannon. I think that that would just make my day. The story of Patrick is hilarious. I love that kid. "Wild cows" ha ha ha I love it. Also I would like to let you know that I can relate with the bug bites that you have all over your legs. I have been attacked by chiggers and mosquitoes for the past month and a half. Isn't it just the best?!?! Also, I would like to know what inspires a person or group of people to name their restaurant "Tootsies".
So this past week was great. Here's the updates:
Monday, July 2nd- It was my companion's birthday!!! Yay! So what did we do? We sat in court to support one of our good friends here. We waited for over three hours only to find out that her hearing was going to be rescheduled for a later date. Awesome. I love the judicial system. It's my favorite. We were supposed to play some volleyball and have a BBQ with our investigator for my companion's birthday, but our investigator's wife ended up having a baby. So that plan didn't really work out. Funny that the baby was born on his birthday though. Our investigators asked us if we would like them to name the kid after my companion and I. Like Michael Cameron Jacklick or Cameron Michael Jacklick. Ha ha ha we didn't know what to say. We told them to name the kid whatever they wanted to because it was THEIR baby. I really didn't want to get into the business of naming kids and stuff yet. I think that that day is very very far in the future. They ended up naming the boy after the mother's father. Always a safe decision.
Tuesday July 3rd- Nothing much to report on this day. We taught a couple of lessons, everything went according to plan. We did learn a Marshallese game. It's the same as the "Down by the banks" game where you slap the hand of the person next to you, but the rhyme is definitely different. It goes something like this: Big Mac yellow big kore ba cran pa achi cola rock o la sunday ippen la bamba and then you count 1-10. I still don't really understand it, but hey...it's fun.
Wednesday July 4th- Elder Sproul decided to plan today so that we could exchange with Mt. Pleasant on Thursday to conduct a baptismal interview for them. So after planning Elder Sproul and I had a lesson with a lady named Shirley. We had planned to watch Finding Faith in Christ with her and discuss how we build faith in the Savior. The only problem was her sound wasn't working. We were really pressed for time so we couldn't stop to try and fix it, so we improvised. I knew that Elder Sproul had been in children's theater growing up and I sure know how to act like a child, so we put our acting skills to the test. We turned the subtitles on and read and acted out the entire 29 minutes of the movie. It was spectacular. After that lesson we went to eat lunch at the Branch President's home. Delicious. Couldn't have asked for a better spread of food. The rest of the day we spent teaching or proselyting. It was great. Have you ever tried to contact someone when one of those firework fountain things are screaming at you? It's really fun, you should try it.
Thursday July 5th- We did some service for some people in the area. One member, one non member. We mowed the lawn of the member and then borrowed his lawn mower to mow the lawn of the investigator. The second lawn hadn't been mowed for months. Not at fault of the investigator. Unfortunately they do not have a lawn mower. So my companion and I go at this yard with nothing but a mower and a weed eater. Good gracious. The grass, weeds, and shrubs were all taller than me. I ended up having to do a wheelie with the mower to chop all of the grass, weeds, and such in half first, only to come back over it three of four times, each time decreasing the angle of the wheelie to cut the lawn to appropriate length. It was a task. Took all 4 hours of weekly service to do it. I wish that I had took before and after shots cause it was crazy. Then after that wonderful escapade we realized that we did not put on bug spray before mowing. Worst thing ever. I have so many bug bites it's not even funny. But hey, there's good news to come out of this. Our investigator didn't get fined by the city and they now know that we love them equal to the number of bites on our legs. Hundred fold.
Friday July 6th- Took a trip to DeQueen to teach some of our investigators that have moved there. The lessons went very well and they are still excited to be baptized on the 28th. After those lesson we came back to Broken Bow and taught lessons, and contacted until the end of the night.
Saturday July 7th- We attended the marriage class taught by Branch President with our investigators. Everything is going really well with those lessons. The couples attending are scheduled to be married on the 20th and baptized on the 28th. It's really exciting stuff. After the marrriage class we went to a few lessons and tracted for a couple of hours. Our favorite part of the day was while we were out tracting. My companion and I had knocked all along one side of the street and then switched sides to go back down the other side when we heard someone call out to us. My companion heard them say, "Y'all come over here when you're done!" He then turned to me and said, "Elder! That's awesome. We're totally going over there after this door. I asked, "Elder? Are you serious?" He said, Uh, yeah, they just said to come over when we were done." I said, "Oh, I thought that they said. 'Don't come over here or I'll get my gun.' " Well...it was an interesting contact to say the least. Don't worry we're fine.
Sunday July 8th- We met with a lot of our investigators after the pot luck at church. The lessons went well for the most part. Kind of hard to teach with 5 or 6 little Marshallese kids stealing the objects for your object lesson...but it was good.
sorry...out of time.
Elder McNinch

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 2, 2012 Letter

Hello...my name is still Elder McNinch,
This week sounds like it was a lot of fun for you guys. This week was pretty good for me as well. I am happy to report that all of the biking was not in vain. We now drive one of the four trucks that are in the mission! It is a beautiful thing! Anyways, this past week was a little crazy. We had to move out of the McDonald's house temporarily because they are having that family reunion, so we are now residing at the Branch President's house. Boy oh boy do we love it there. Sister Schwerin (Branch President's wife) is probably one of the kindest ladies that you'll ever meet. She also loves to share...everything. I think that I have eaten more food in the 4 days than I did all last week. That includes all of fast Sunday as well. 
 Anyways...now on to cool things that happened this week.
We were out tracting in the boonies on Wednesday when we came to this really run down house. We saw a bunch of tv's sitting out on the front porch and thought, "Hey, our investigator's tv just broke. I wonder if this guy is going to give those tv's away." So we went up to talk to him. Oh goodness. His name was Don Sylvia. He was a hoot. Turns out that he was a tv repair man back in the day before he retired. Well, when he retired he still had a bunch of people's tv's that he was fixing in his garage. He planned to just give them back one by one after he had fixed them, receive his payment, and be that much closer to being done working. Well, none of them came back to pick up their tv's after he had fixed them. Some of them have been sitting for 10 years! He showed us all the tv's that he had in the house and it was ridiculous. Some 20 odd televisions that he had repaired and were just sitting there. We asked what he was going to do with all those tv's. He said, "All THESE tv's? THESE tv's aren't the problem. It's THOSE tv's out there that are the problem." He then took us out to two different workshops out on his property in the which were over 200 television sets each! A sea of televisions. I'll have to take pictures the next time that we go out there. It was ridiculous. To make a long story short he is going to sell our investigators a tv for really cheap. Tender mercies? I think so.
Friday I got to exchange with the zone leaders, so I was back in Longview. It was really weird to be back in an old area. All of the members that we went by to see remembered me, so that was pretty cool. I got to eat dinner at CiCi's pizza which always brings back good memories from New Mexico. Just wish that I was allowed to go in and play the arcade games like Dad and I used to play. But alas, I am a missionary and probably shouldn't play games that you have to kill everyone that pops out at you to win the game. My first thought when someone pops out at me is, "They need the gospel too, right?"
Saturday we exchanged back and that is when we got the truck. Ever since then we have been the talk of the town. We actually fit in now, it's kind of funny. People respect us a lot more just because we drive a truck. Ha ha ha. It almost makes me want to get boots just to see people's reaction. But then I think to myself, "Worth it?....NAH!" Saturday was also the day that we got to meet with Vanessa Mothersell again. She was the lady that we saw in the hair salon that said, "Are y'all Mormon missionaries? I think that y'all have a book I need." Well, she and her 3 children decided that it was time to get going with the lessons again. I couldn't have been more over-joyed. As we left the appointment the youngest of her children asked, "Umm...so when are we getting baptized?" Ha ha ha. I love being a missionary.
Sundays always seem to be the best around here. We had 15 investigators come to church. That is the most that I have ever seen in my entire mission. On top of that we had one of them go up and bear his testimony of what he had been taught. He said, "I'm a little different than most people. A bit more country than most folks. I don't understand any of them fancy scriptural words or nothing, so don't expect me to use any of those today. I might not be the smartest man in the world, but I know when something's right or true. I know that what the missionaries have taught me is true. I know that what they teach changes peoples' lives. It's changed mine forever, and I thank them for that. I love them more than they know." As I sat there just bawling away I remembered the quote by Brigham Young about "a man without eloquence." It was one of those experiences that you just can't accurately describe. At least in attempting you don't do it justice. I wish that y'all could have been there to see him.
This week is going to be even better. John Jacklick is getting baptized on Saturday and I just can't wait. I will have to tell y'all about it next week. Stay safe while you are up in Wyoming. Don't let Alisha ride the ATV. Tell Shannon that she is a poophead and I miss her. Tell all the kids that I miss them and love them.
Tell the WHOLE family that I love and miss them. Can't wait to talk to you next week, still as ELDER MCNINCH.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25, 2012 Letter

Dear Freddy Mercury,
I love to ride my bicycle. Recently the mission got rearranged and we now belong to the Longview zone. The zone now spans across more than a third of the entire mission. It is over 300 miles from north to south. Our exchanges monthly are now in Longview, so halfway mark is Omaha, Texas which is about 60 miles away. That means a 120 mile round trip on top of the normal amount of miles that we would use in a day. Then the best part is doing it again the next day to exchange back. I have said all of this to let you know that I and my trusty companion have been riding our bikes for the past 5 days in preparation for the miles that we will be using this Friday and Saturday. I have had two flat tires in the past 24 hours and I have sweat more than I ever have in my entire life. I almost want to line the inside of my shirts with sponges so at the end of the day I can wring them out into a bucket and measure how much I have perspired. Pretty sure that it would be in the gallons.
Other than riding our bikes, nothing too exciting has happened. We have met a lot of interesting people as we have been riding. One lady just yesterday stopped me and asked, "HEEEEEYYYY!!! Are you a preacher?!" Response: "Well, no, I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I teach people what He taught and invite them to do the things that He asks us to do." " Oh well, I'm a preacher!" Response: "Oh that's wonderful, which church to you preach at?" "Umm, well, I just preach to anyone who wants to talk about Jesus." Response: " Well that's good. As representatives of Jesus Christ we try our best to invite people to come closer to him. Would there be a time that my friend and I would be able to sit down with you and your family and discuss ways that we can draw nearer to the Savior?" " HEEEEYYYY!!! GUESS WHAT?!...I'm a cop too! Did you know that?! Did you know?!" At this point in the conversation I felt pretty good assuming that this lady was either heavily intoxicated or was mentally unstable. Well, I guess either way she was mentally unstable. Regardles, we gave her a card with our number on it and invited her to check out Mormon.org. One of the many perks of riding a bicycle.
I did give a talk in sacrament meeting. That was interesting. I was asked to give one last week, but the Branch President had made a mistake and wanted me to give one this past Sunday instead. Well, to be frank, I forgot. So...I gave the same talk that I had prepared the week before. People seemed to like it, and it went well with what the speaker from the High Council said, so I guess it was alright. Glad to report that I only broke down in tears once.
This week is going to be really stressful. I can just feel it. "Don't you think I feel it?!?" We have to temporarily move in with our Branch President for two weeks because the members that we live with have family coming to stay for a family reunion. One of the families has a 13 year old girl= no bueno for los missioneros. So that will be a fun experience. It pretty much means that I will be packing to come home this weekend so that I don't have to pack my life up twice in 3 weeks. It wouldn't really make sense to pack, unpack, and then repack everything 2 weeks later. Anyways...don't worry, not trunky. Just hate packing. Sorry that this is a boring letter. I think that the sun has fried my brain; and well, would you look at that, time to go back out and ride in it some more.
Love y'all like a sunburn, it's on fire.
-Elder McNinch
PS- I have found that the most awkward tan line as a missionary is not the one that comes from wearing collared shirts. It is in fact the tan line on your face that comes from the straps of your helmet.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012 letter

Hello Hello,
HAPPY LATE FATHER'S DAY DAD! Sorry...I had no stamps...your card is in the mail. So to answer a few of your questions first off... Lisa Lajwi, who was going to translate our sacrament meetings for us, actually moved to Arkansas for a while. We are trying to get missionaries over there to teach her but she doesn't have a phone number that we can reach her at and no one has a current address. I'll keep you posted on everything though. She is an amazing lady and is just going through a really rough time. She'll be back soon I hope. The move wasn't permanent. The other hospital lady is amazing. We will be seeing her as soon as her shift changes. They are hiring another Head of Surgery so that she won't have to be there all hours of the day. We'll see what happens though. Hopefully something will come of it soon. She is a super nice lady.
So...y'all are looking for a house huh? Checking any houses in Idabel or Broken Bow, Oklahoma by chance? They got really good deals on trailors here! Like 400 a month, rent to own, for a double wide. Pretty sweet stuff. Anywho...so...the Wonderli's huh? That is a really large home. I don't know that I would even feel comfortable living in a home that large. Do I even have a room right now? I asked Kaitie if I had one and she said, "kinda?" What the heck does that mean? I really don't care if I have a room or not...just don't know how it could be in between a room and no room, ya know?
107!!! Holy Bible! that's crazy. At least it's not humid though. Just the other day we were at 95 with 80% humidity. That's not funny. Speaking of hot and humid, Florida. Glad to hear that Grandma and Grandpa are going to be able to fly out in August. Does that mean that we are going to forgo the whole trip to Florida? Because frankly...I really don't care if we go or not. I would love to see Mom's whole side of the family, but if we don't have the money, then we don't have the money. If we do go I'll just be contacting everyone at the beach, steering clear of all of the less than clothed beautiful daughters of our Heavenly Father, and making y'all feel awkward anyway. Just let me know what you want to do.
This week was kind of crazy. There was a chance that I or Elder Sproul would get moved, but thankfully we didn't. We will both be staying in Idabel...at least for the next 6 weeks. I had to say goodbye to a lot of Elders this transfer. It is really sad to see all of them go. I can remember the first time that I met each one of them. Crazy crazy stuff. I don't like it.
I would have to say that the best part of the week this week were the baptisms of Kaios and Lina Kaios. Saturday June 16, 2012 they were both baptized. Kaios had me baptize him and Lina had the Branch President to baptize her. They are some of the greatest people that I have ever met. The Spirit was very strong during the preceeding talk and the ordinances themselves, but the sweetest Spririt came after that. Kaios asked if he could say a few words. One of his good friends went to the front with him to translate for him. He proceeding to bear his testimony. He testified that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he was now a member of His church, and that he had been blessed more than he deserved. He told his story of his coming to the United States from the Marshall Islands. Talked about the struggle he has had as his family has apart for a few years. Expressed how truly grateful he was to have even some of his family here with him. He finished by thanking our Heavenly Father for the blessing of being baptized, and for the peace that he felt. It was a really moving testimony. One of the greatest I have ever heard. On top of that wonderful Saturday afternoon came Sunday morning when Kaios and Lina were confirmed as the newest members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The whole branch, one by one, came and congradulated them after the meeting. It was beautiful. I couldn't ask for a better outcome. Couldn't picture anything better. Well, maybe it will be better when I see the Kaios' two daughters baptized by their father when he receives the priesthood.
The Kaios family has also invited me to go with them to the Marshall Islands in January or February. I think that I might have to take them up on that. If I could make a suggestion...I vote that we go there on a family trip. Let me know what you think.
Miss y'all a ton, love y'all even more.
- Elder McNinch

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11, 2012 letter

Hello Hello,
This week was full of travel. We had Stake Conference in Gilmer, TX. Never have I ever lived in a place where my assigned stake meeting was in a different state. We drove about 200 miles round trip. Awesome. The meeting was very spiritual. We had Elders Todd Hansen and Lynn G. Robbins of the seventy speak to us. I would share all of my notes...but alas...my email would be ginormous. Stake conference was not the only trip that we made to Gilmer this week. We were also there for an exchange with the zone leaders earlier in the week. All in all it was kind of hectic, but we made it work.
Early in the week we had a great lesson with one of the families that we are teaching. We invited another family in the branch to invite them over for a dinner/get together. It was really fun. We had a barbecue and tried to play some volleyball. I say tried because the net broke and well, volleyball just isn't the same without a net. So we abandoned the idea of volleyball and instead played missionary tag. Thank you EFY for teaching me random games to get kids attention! So we explained all of the rules, played for about thrity minutes, and then spoke to everyone about the purpose of missionaries. Why we are sent out two by two and why missionary work is so important. The kids really liked it.
Wednesday we had a specialized training in Gilmer. It was an amazing training. I got to see all of the Spanish elders that I came out with bear their testimonies, since it was the last big meeting before they go home. I also got to see the Elder that took me out my first night in the mission give his last testimony. I will never forget these missionaries. They have added so much to my testimony. After this wonderful event, crying and taking pictures, we went on exchange. I made a huge mistake! I had the keys with me. We had left the car at the Elders' apartment in Mt. Pleasant to save some miles. So when we went on exchange, I stayed in Gilmer; which is about 30 minutes south of Mt. Pleasant. Well, of course we didn't realize that I had the keys until the Elders got there and tried to open the car with no keys. Great. So I and the zone leader had to drive to Mt. Pleasant to give the keys to my companion. Dumb do. I hate those. The exchange was great though. This was the first time that my companion has been without me in the area. It was hilarious! I think that he called about every 20 minutes to ask how to get to the next appointment. Idabel is a confusing place.
I would have to say that the best part of the week was Sunday. Along with the stake I had the opportunity of sustaining Brothers George Pate, Reilly Lakjohn, and Zeph Griffith to be ordained to the office of Elder and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. That was a really spiritual part of the meeting. I was so happy for every single one of those men. Brother Pate's children were just baptized, Brother Lakjohn was baptized just 3 months ago, and Brother Griffith's wife and son were baptized recently as well. It truly has been an amazing 4 months in Idabel. On top of the ordinations we had the Kaios' baptismal interview right after the meeting. They will be baptized on the 16th of June. Their two girls will then be baptized 3 weeks later. Idabel is amazing. I love it here. Just wish that I got to spend a little bit more time here this week instead of being in Texas. Not that I have anything against Texas..but...it's not Idabel.
Please tell the Barnhouses that I miss them SO much! I hope that they got the letters that I sent them. Please ask them if they did. The Starsky and Hutch car is in the GHETTO of Idabel. Yes, there is a ghetto side of Idabel. Yes mom, Uncle Tylow was quoting part of the movie. They have Yoga competitions? How does that work? Whoever breaks in half loses? Y'all have an iguana named Tigress? Umm...Kung-Fu Panda influence maybe? How big is this thing? Man, I really wish that I could be there for Matt's endowments. But hey...I'm on a mission. Tell him that we will go when I get back. Pick your daddy's nose sounds awesome. Totally going to make that into a missionary lesson somehow. Umm okay...so can you please explain the whole chicken dish towel lesson that the missionaries did at the house. Sounds like some weird magic trick. No you didn't tell me about Kaitie watching the house, but she did. Ha ha ha. She was like, "Guess what I am doing right now? I'm sitting on YOUR couch, in YOUR house, watching YOUR dog. Coco loves me. I have spent more time in your house than you have. Jealous?" Ha ha ha. Kaitie is awesome. Her letters are always hilarious.
Okay gotta go. Love you much.
Elder McNinch

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Some pics

June 4, 2012 Letter

Dear Family,
I was only going to have 30 minutes to email y'all today, but my companion sweet talked the lady behind the counter to give us extra time on the computers. I love my companion. Anyways...BOLIVIA!!! That's so awesome! Man he is going to eat a bunch of weird stuff! That's great. I am so excited for him. That is going to be amazing. Good thing that I will be there before he leaves. I was afraid of that.
What in the heck does a dish towel have to do with a chicken? Okay so the whole CSN thing...I really have no clue what classes I want to take right now. Really just want to get generals out of the way first...not that I even know what that means. How about this...you send me a list of classes and I will pray about it. When is the deadline?
This was a pretty good week. Some of the families that we teach have made huge strides in the last couple of days. We have set up a "marriage class" for all of the investigator couples that need to be married before they are baptized. All in all there should be about four couples there. We wanted to find a way to have these soon to be converts to have a really good relationship with the Branch President. Well, we figured the best way to do that would be to have Branch President teach them about marriage before he marries them. We also had 12 investigators come to church this week. It was great.
A lot of really great stories from this week. I could write about all of them but that would take me all day. I am hoping to some day go through and write down all of these in my journal when I have more time. For now I write as much as I can in my planners so that I can remember them. Among other things I learned how to play two songs on the ukulele, a few words in Marshallese, and how to install a screen door. Pretty useful things I would say. The shining moments of this week would be with Reilly and Angela, Jared and Amy, and John and Madonna. Reilly and Angela are Marshallese recent converts of the Branch. Reilly received the Aaronic Priesthood about 2 months ago and has been passing the sacrament ever since. He expressed to us the desire to bless the sacrament last week. We decided that we would help him prepare. Throughout this past week we have gone over three or four times to help him memorize the prayer on the bread. We recorded us saying it on his phone so that he could practice it in between visits. He steadily improved throughout the week. We told Reilly not to be discouraged if he didn't bless the sacrament that Sunday; that it might take him some time to get it down. Then Sunday came. As Reilly was sitting there waiting for sacrament meeting to start Brother Bundy asked if Reilly would help bless the sacrament. We were in the hallway and came into the chapel to find Reilly sitting at the sacrament table. We were stunned! We went up to talk to Reilly about it. He said that he was really really nervous. We told him that everything would be fine and that he would do a great job. When the time came I was even nervous. Just waiting to hear the blessing on the bread. On Sunday June 3, 2012 I was privileged to hear the most sincere sacrament prayer in my life. I sat in tears as I listened to Reilly sound out, in his humble English, each of the words in the prayer. Those words have never meant more to me than in that moment. Then the tears only increased as the sacrament portion of the meeting ended and Reilly and Angela stood to be sustained by the branch in their first calling as Branch Missionaries. It was amazing.
Jared and Amy are progressing quickly. We had scheduled an appointment with them for this past Saturday. We were on the way to their home, coming from Broken Bow, when we got a call from Sister Durrant (Mission President's wife). My companion answered the phone, "Well hello Sister Durrant, how are you?!" Then a male voice on the other end said, "Hello Elder Sproul, this is Sister Durrant's lesser half." "Oh my goodness, I'm sorry President! How are you today?!" Ha ha ha. President Durrant proceeded to ask us what there was to do in Idabel and Broken Bow. Tourist sites, recreational stuff, etc, etc. After talking for a while he asked us if he and his family could come and visit us sometime. "Sure!" we said, "When would you come up?" "Well, we were thinking Saturday." "President...do you mean today?" "Yeah! Do you have a couple minutes where we could stop and visit you? We're just coming into Idabel ourselves from Broken Bow where are you at?" Ummm...uhh....Ha ha ha. We explained that we had a dinner appointment with some investigators that we were heading to, but that he and his family would be more than welcome to introduce themselves to our investigators. They happily agreed. So my 6'7" Mission President introduced himself and his family to our 5'6" investigators. It was a great meeting. President Durrant asked Amy and Jared, "So have they invited you to be baptized?" Jared replied, "Oh yeah! They talk about it all the time!" Ha ha ha. Amy concurred, "Yes, yes they have...but we have to get married first, right?" There were a couple of funny moments like that through the introduction and then it came time for President and his family to leave. They said there goodbyes and then we proceeded to have a great lesson. That was definitely a first for me. I have never had the Mission President come with me to a lesson. On top of the great lesson that we had they fed us some AMAZING Marshallese BBQ. Woo Dang it was good!
John and Madonna are doing so well. Madonna is remembering all of the things that she was taught when she lived in the Marshall Islands. Her and her husband John have been coming to church for the past month or so. We have been treating the lessons as a refresher course for Madonna and for a start up for John becoming a member. We had invited John to be baptized when he came to know that the things we taught were true the first time that we came over. He said that he would but he did not feel ready to set a date. Ever since then we have invited him to pray about a date that he would like to be baptized. Well, he called us on Saturday telling us that he had some big news. He said that he would tell us when we came over after church for a lesson. The suspense was killing us. We got to the appointment only to wait longer. Madonna hadn't returned home yet and he wanted her to be there when he told us. Finally she comes home and we all get situated. We said, "SOOOOOO......what's the big news?!" He replied, "Oh, I was just wondering what day you all were going to baptize me." Ha ha ha. It was so great. I had the biggest smile across my face. We said, "Well John, it can be any day that you like." He thought about it for a minute or two and said, " How about the first Saturday of July?" Music to a missionary's ears. Sounds beautiful. He then went on to say that he wanted to make a bunch of refreshments for his baptism as well. Well...of course you can make refreshments! He said, "Oh good because we have some people that we want to invite." I have the feeling that this is going to be the start of it all. John and Madonna are the lead singers for the the Marshallese congregation in Broken Bow. The "people" that they want to invite to their baptism are all members of that church as well. I cannot wait for July 8. What a beautiful day it will be.
If anyone has ever wondered if miracles are real, just come and spend a day in Idabel, Oklahoma. Just getting to Idabel is a miracle itself.
Elder McNinch

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 28, 2012 Letter

Glad to hear that Jake finally got hitched. I was worried about that guy. Sounds like the weekend was a great adventure. Our week was pretty interesting as well. The mission president is trying to help us save miles (we have a limited amount of miles we can drive a month), and so he had us conduct district meeting over conference call. Well, we had to get the oil changed in the car that day so we went across the street to the Dairy Queen and held district meeting in the parking lot. We just kind of sat down on a wall and gave the training there. If people didn't already think that we were weird, they do now. Two guys in white shirts and ties, talking on speaker phone, in the middle of a parking lot about how the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other. It was really funny to us. At the end of the phone call we had the lady from the auto shop calling us to tell us that our car was done; so throughout the prayer there was a bunch of beeps from her call coming in. It was really funny because on our end it sounded like the Elder that was saying the prayer was having his swear words bleeped out.
We got to help a lady in the branch clean her house this week as well. She said that if we came and helped her that she would provide us with lunch. You got it. We were there in a heartbeat. We asked her what she needed help with when we got there. The task seemed simple: Fix the vacuum and beat the rug. Sweet. We got this. Well, unknown to us, she has cats. Lots of cats! My companion and I are allergic to cats (my companion much worse than I). So I thought it best to have my companion fix the vacuum so he could stay outside and not have to deal with the cat hair on the rug. This rug was bad. I couldn't tell what was rug and what was cat hair. I dragged it outside and hung it on the clothes line. Then it was batting practice. Cat hair everywhere. 
All over my clothes, face, everything. So I start sneezing like crazy, my eyes start to well up, and my nose is all stuffy. Meanwhile my companion is messing around with the vacuum trying to figure out why it's not working. After finally getting the front cover off he realized what had happened. The vacuum bag was filled with cat hair; and upon detaching the bag it exploded...all over my companion. We were a mess. His voice dropped about three octaves, his eyes were bloodshot, he was coughing and wheezing, and he was all kinds of stuffed up. Lunch was a no go, because my companion couldn't breath if he put anything in his mouth, so we left and downed a bunch of Benadryl. We were alright after that. We would have taken pictures but neither one of us could really see where the camera was pointing long enough to take it. 
Later that day we taught the word of wisdom to one of our investigators. He has been chewing tobacco for about 33 years. We told him the blessings of living the word of wisdom, promising his that if he would give up his chew that he would be blessed to be able to read. He has not yet read the Book of Mormon, because he struggles with reading. He just never took the time when he was a kid to learn how. We felt that the blessing of "wisdom and HIDDEN treasures of knowledge" would provide him with the ability to read. Usually we teach him and his family, but this time it was just him. We asked who he would like to say the opening prayer and surprisingly he said, " I think that I'll say it." After that beautiful prayer we started the lesson. He has investigated the church for a long time and often jokes about "someday" being a member. We simply asked him when "someday" would be. He said that he didn't know. We then told him that the only thing that would stand in his way of becoming a member of the church would be his chew. He looked at both my companion and I and said, " Alright then. Here you go!" as he threw me his brand new can of chew. "What am I supposed to do with this?" I asked. "Dump it in the toilet!" he replied. I think that the best part of dumping that stuff down the toilet was watching the look on his 5 year old daughter's face as he said, "You see that?! No more. Dad's done with that." 
We have had similar experiences with 2 of our other investigators this week as well. Guess that it was just the word of wisdom week. We had one quit tea and coffee, another quit alcohol and smoking, and another quit chew. It was a breath of fresh air. Another highlight of the week was having our 11 year old investigator tell her mom to be quiet because she was trying to learn about the gospel.
We got to take another trip out to good ol' Arkansas this week. Brother Pate volunteered to take us out there to save us on miles. He is so awesome. It was a great trip. On the way back we got a flat tire and had no spare tire. Wonderful. We had to wait for Brother Pate's wife and her friend to come and pick us up. When they came we stayed with the broke down car so Brother Pate could go to a tire shop in DeQueen to get a new tire. Whilst waiting for Brother Pate to get back we were trying to help Sister Pate think of different boys in the branch and her oldest daughter could date. It was way funny. She started off the conversation like this: "Alright, so now that I have you captive, I need your help. My daughter just broke up with her boyfriend." Ha ha ha. Uh...Sister Pate...we're kind of off limits...don't know that we could help you much.
On Friday one of our investigator's invited us over for dinner. Their friend was there and he was very intoxicated. I don't think that I have ever laughed so hard in my entire life. At the end of the visit we invited him to live the word of wisdom and to dump out all of his alcohol and he said YES! But then when we got up to go help him dump it out he screamed, "No, No, No, next week!" Ha ha ha. You know, I used to think that drunk people were funny before the mission, but they are way more funny on the mission. Especially when they are speaking Marshallese.
In other exciting news this week, we have 4 couples that want to get married and baptized, 3 potential families to teach, and my companion and I ate Menudo...remind me again why someone came up with that dish?
I think that the most wonderful moments had to have been with Jared and Amy. They are one of the couples that want to get married. We had a lesson with them about marriage and the law of chastity on Saturday. The lesson went marvelous. Couldn't have been less awkward. We ended the lesson stating we didn't believe that marriage ends when we die. That someday Jared and Amy could be married for all time and eternity. We asked, " Jared, you said you wanted to be with Amy for the rest of your life, right?" "Yeah." "Well, what if you could be with her forever?" The concept blew his mind. At first he was really excited, biggest smile ever. Then he started to get choked up. He asked his soon to be bride, " Is that what you want too?" With tear filled eyes she simply smiled and nodded. It was one of those times in your life where the Spirit in the room is so thick that you could cut it with a knife. We said that the next time we came over we would explain how they could live together forever with their family. We came back a few days later and taught the Plan of Salvation. The lesson was just as spiritual as the last. We asked their little boy if he liked going to church that day. He said, "I LOVED going to your church today! Can we go tomorrow?!" Jared smiled and said, " Hey. That's not just their church son, it's our church too." I love the Plan of Salvation. It truly is the Grand Plan of Happiness. I don't think that I have had sweeter moments in my mission than when we are teaching families how they can live together forever.
Needless to say, we had a great week. A lot of planning that we have to do for the upcoming month, but we are so excited for it. Can't wait to share more good news next week. 
 Love y'all so much.
-Elder McNinch

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 21, 2012 Letter

This week we were had a lot of appointments to go to. The week goes by so much faster when you have a bunch of people to go and see. We are so excited for the upcoming baptisms that we have. The only thing that seems to be standing in our investigator's way are rides to church and or jobs. It is really hard to come by good jobs here apparently so all our investigators are starting to move. We are doing our best to find jobs for everyone. Kind of difficult but we will figure it out.
We taught a lot of really amazing people this week. There was one man that we met while we were eating lunch at a recent convert's house. His name is Jose. Jose speaks Spanish (go figure). Jose approached us after lunch, talking about how he wanted to change his life. We like starting conversations like that. We spoke to him shortly about the gift of repentance and how the Atonement can change every aspect of our lives. We set up a return appointment for the following night. We had a very spiritual lesson with him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We invited him to build his faith through prayer. At the end of the lesson we had a prayer with him. He prayed, asking that God would help him to overcome his addictions and that he would be able to come to church with us the next day. Well, he came! It was awesome. He had gotten a ride from one of the Hispanic families in the Branch. What was even better about him coming to church was the fact that a brother from the High Council, who lived in Ecuador, just happened to be visiting that day. This good brother was Jose's personal translator for the whole day. It was great. We spoke with Jose this morning and he said that he was going to be there every Sunday from now on. Turns out that he knows a lot of the recent converts in the Branch and has already asked them if we can have the lessons in their home. Amazing.
We got to see a lot of little miracles this week, but it is always those big ones that you enjoy the most. We had the opportunity to give Sister Gamble a blessing this week. Her health has been very poor lately. She was suffering from cancer a while back but had since recovered. She has been under a lot of stress lately and apparently the stress induced a hernia. Thursday May 17, 2012 she went in for surgery. She asked us to give her a blessing right before she went into surgery. Of course we were more than happy to do that. What was really cool about it all was that we had enough time to sit down with her before the blessing and just read scriptures for an hour. We figured that we had to do our studies in the morning anyway and we might as well include Sister Gamble. She definitely appreciated it. After the blessing we adjourned back to the waiting room and proceeded to plan out the rest of that week. We waited there all morning and into the afternoon to make certain that Sister Gamble pulled through. Not that we can do much from the waiting room but, Sister Gamble had asked us to stay so we did. Never conducted a planning session from a hospital before, but it worked out alright. We got to talk to a very nice lady about the Gospel while we were at it. The head of surgery would constantly peek her head in and ask us if we needed something. She has to be the nicest lady that I have ever met. Finally after a couple casual conversations and banter back and forth she asked us, "So what church are you all from?" Perfect. We had a short little discussion there, maybe a minute or two and said that we would love to come back and talk with her sometime. She was more than happy to have us back. After that wonderful little conversation she had to get back to work. We proceeded to plan. Time flew by and before we knew it, it was almost 1 o'clock. We had an appointment to go to at one and Sister Gamble was still in the recovery room. (aka- No missionaries allowed) We felt terrible, but we had to leave if we were going to make it on time. As we were walking through the hallway, there was our good friend. The head of surgery. She said in a very worried tone, "Are you leaving?!" We told her that we did and explained the situation. She said, "Well would you like to see her before you go?"...well...of course we would. Off we went into the restricted area to see Sister Gamble. She was so thankful that we had stayed the whole time and that we got to see her before we left. She was a TROOPER! 2 hours of surgery and she was awake for the whole thing. She was released from the hospital just a day later and we got to see her last night. She said, "You have no idea how thankful I am that y'all stayed there the whole time. I definitely felt your prayers. I just wanted to let you both know how much I love you. It meant so much to have MY missionaries there with me. I knew that you would be there." Miracles happen every day here. It is a beautiful thing. Can't wait to see what happens with the head of surgery.
We visited the Marshallese church on Sunday after the Branch meeting. It was really amazing to see their place of worship. They meet in an old boat garage that they have converted into a chapel area. We got there after they had already finished, but we got to stay and talk with a couple of our investigators. We are starting to teach some of the people that attend there, but we are still in the process of getting translators. Once we get passed that road block everything will go very smoothly. 
Sorry, got to go. Love you much.
Elder McNinch

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 14, 2012 Letter

This week has been absolutely amazing. I love my companion. Not that I didn't love the one that I had before him, but this one is especially awesome. We have been working very hard this week because we had to leave the area for two whole days! That is a LOT of missed opportunities. Somehow we still got all of the work that we needed to done. We had some pretty amazing things happen along the way as well.
Most of this week was spent on introducing Elder Sproul to all of our investigators. One particular lesson seemed to outshine the rest of them. We were teaching Fred and Lisa. Lisa is the lady who volunteered to translate for Sacrament meeting, even though she is not a member. She is also the one that wanted to get up and bear her testimony the first Sunday that she came. Anyway... So we start going over what we left them with. A couple passages from the Book of Mormon and the 4th and 5th articles of Faith. We reviewed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, teaching mainly about how we can build our faith. Lisa chimes in and says, "You know, when I read what Alma says about that seed that we need to plant in our hearts, I knew that that is what I needed to do. I think that is what we all need to do." At that point we really debated having Lisa teach the rest of the lesson, but alas, the Spirit continued to prompt thoughts so we expressed them. We led into the Restoration and shared the Joseph Smith story and discussed the Book of Mormon. We simply explained that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and the only way that they would ever know that that was true was if God told them it was. We then led into prayer. At about this time Lisa started to cry. We asked if she knew that what we were sharing was true. Through the tears she nodded her head saying, "I know...I know it's true." We bore testimony that only the Spirit could teach that. We invited both of them to be baptized next month. They both said that they would love to. We then talked about the rest of the lessons that we needed to go over and set up a return appointment. 
After the prayer, as we were leaving she said, "Before you go, can I tell you something?" Uhh...YEAH! Tell us anything that you want. She then proceeded to tell a story. "You know that one day that you and the other Elder talked to us? Well, when you found us, we had just gotten kicked out of our house. We were waiting there at our friend's house for our friend to come and pick us up. I had been praying, asking God to help us; That He would show us the way and help us out of that situation. Then you showed up. I believe that you were sent by God, and I am so thankful that He did. That is what I wanted to share with everyone in my testimony. I know that God answers our prayers." I live everyday of the mission for moments like those. It is truly a miracle that God would allow 19-22 year old kids to be the answer to someone's prayer. I echo the words of our beloved prophet when I say that there is no greater joy than knowing you were an answer to someone's prayer. I think that I cried for 20 minutes straight as we made the long drive that night to Mt. Pleasant. I will never forget the Spirit that I felt that night.
I will definitely have to write more at another time. Sorry, I only get an hour. Thank you so much for talking to me last night! I loved every minute of it.
Elder McNinch

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 7, 2012 Letter

**Disclaimer...may bring tears to your eyes so keep the tissue box close.**

This was one of the most spiritual weeks of my entire mission. I don't even really know where to start. I guess that we will start with the biggest miracle of all. Last week we were on bikes. (miracle that I survived). So you remember that lady that we found from the Marshall Islands? This is the coolest story ever. We have this senior missionary couple that comes up here to work every week. They help us with all of the new member lessons and less actives in the branch. They came up this past week and told us about an amazing contact that they had. 
They were in Walmart looking for a pair of shoes for a service project when they were contacted by a man from the Marshall Islands. He said that he was a member of the church back home, but had since not gone to church. He told them that he wasn't aware that there was even a church here. The missionary couple then asked him where and if he was going to church. He replied that since he didn't know there was a church here that he decided to start a church of his own. He and his friends and family from the Marshall Islands get together every Sunday to have "church". It was just a year ago that this man got his "preaching license" and the congregation became a recognized church in the community. 
The senior missionaries of course asked if they could go and meet everyone that attended and invited him to come back to church and see how he felt. They set a return appointment for this coming Saturday and left. After the couple had told us the story we were dumbfounded. We teach a lot of people from he Marshall Islands and heard that there was an Assembly of God church here that was all Marshallese. We have been looking for this Marshallese pastor for months. We had no idea that he was a member though! We asked the couple where the man lived. They responded that he lived on the north side of Broken Bow on Cherry Lane. I said, "Cherry? Are you sure? I don't think that there is a Cherry lane in Broken Bow." They responded that they didn't think so either. They had gone looking for it and weren't able to find a Cherry Lane anywhere in Broken Bow. I thought to myself for a second and then said, "Pretty sure that there is a Sherry Lane though. In fact some of our investigators live on Sherry. Let's go by them and see if they know this pastor." 
So off we went. We got to the house that we played volleyball at the week previous and asked the less active lady if she knew this pastor. She told us that it was her brother and that he lived in the house right next door. Amazing. So we talked to her about coming to church and inviting her brother to come with her. She happily said that she would attend with her family. I was floored. We asked more about her brother's teaching. She said that he teaches from the Bible and the Book of Mormon every Sunday and that there were 60-70 Marshallese people that attend every week. Most, if not all are non members. We then asked her where the church was. She said, " We hold our meeting in the Assembly of God church in Broken Bow. The people in that church are nice enough to let us use their building for one or two hours every Sunday." This whole time we have thought that they were an actual branch of the Assembly of God church, but turns out that they just let them use the building. Miracles are real. We are going to start meeting with this group of 60-70 every Sunday. I always wondered why we couldn't be like the missionaries in the Book of Mormon that saw such great miracles and had scores of people join the church. I cannot wait to tell you how everything plays out with this group of people.
Sunday we had 8 investigators at church, 3 of whom are new investigators from this week.. All of whom are Marshallese. We had a wonderful testimony meeting. One of the Marshallese recent converts went up and bore her testimony. It was amazing. There was not a dry eye in the room. After the meeting we went to the home of the 3 new investigators and talked to them about the meeting. One said that she absolutely loved the meeting. She asked how they picked who would go up and speak. We simply told her that anyone who wanted to go up, could. She said, "Oh really? I was going to go up there but I didn't because I thought that it was just for members." We told her that she was more than welcome to go up and bear her testimony in the next testimony meeting. She then asked if there was a translator for the Marshallese people who attended, and said if there wasn't that she would gladly help translate. We of course said that we would appreciate her help in translating. She then said, "Oh wait, do you have to be a member to do that?" Before I could even answer the question she said, "Speaking of which, how can I become a member?" Wow. Umm...Wow. Well...you're doing it right now. We explained the process and talked about a day that all three of them would like to be baptized and become members of the church. Amazing. I have never seen so many prepared people in all my mission.
There were so many wonderful and spiritual experiences this week. I have so many stories to tell but I am not quite sure if I can write them. I would have to ask the people who are involved if I can share their story. Some are just so personal and spiritual that I do not know if I can really describe them in an email. I will try to talk to y'all about them next week after I get their permission. 
 Speaking of next week, I would love to Skype on Mother's Day. Plan on me calling at about 8 o'clock Sunday night. I don't know what time that will be for y'all but pretty sure that y'all can handle figuring it out. Wish that I had more time to write but, alas, I do not. 
My companion is getting transferred so I will have to stay the night in Mt Pleasant, Texas and wait for my new companion to arrive tomorrow. I love all of you so much and want you to know that I miss you terribly.
-Elder McNinch

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012 Letter

Moving really doesn't matter to me at this point. If y'all move...well...I won't be there to help. If you don't move...I'll share a room with Patrick. It's not like I haven't shared a room with another guy for the past two years or anything. Logan's talk sounds pretty funny. I'll have to hear the story in person later. Speaking of in person, the day of Mother's is coming up, would you like me to Skype home or call. Let me know either way.
This week I became a "real missionary". We were on bikes. Yeah...rough. We were really low on miles for the month, therefore my bum suffered much affliction. My rear end hasn't been so sore in my whole life. It was way fun though. I loved it. We had people waving, screaming, and honking at us left and right. Most likely because I don't know the hand signals to turn left and right on a bicycle so they were all trying to get my attention before they hit me, but all is well. Not a bump or bruise. Except for maybe my tailbone; and no, I haven't checked. We have had some minor adjustments to make with some of the people who are getting baptized but, everything seems to be alright. Just got to figure a few details out and keep it moving.
We had the confirmation of Edith King on Sunday, April 29, 2012. It was awesome. She asked if I would be the one to confirm her a member of the church. Well YEAH! She bore her testimony again in Gospel Essentials and again I cried. She is such an amazing lady. I will definitely be sending pictures soon. In other news for the week we met some really interesting people. We were out tracting and we came upon a lady who was a little bit tipsy. She was on her 3rd or 4th glass of wine if I am not mistaken. As we proceeded to share what it is we do, she kept interrupting and talking about "the good ol' days when I [she] was hot." So, the contact wasn't really going in the direction that we wanted to, so we decided to set a return appointment for when she was not that intoxicated. Next house two young women answer the door. Tried to share things about the Gospel, but alas they were not very interested in the Gospel. I left the door to go get my companion, who was taking a phone call, to start walking back to our bikes when the two young women opened the door again. They invited us to a keg party for the local college that night and said that they would be my dates if I wanted. Ummm...No thanks...God bless! Bye! Somehow the nametag that says Jesus Christ really reads "I love to party". Whatever. On to the next door. We meet another Marshallese person. Sweet! Find out that she is sisters with someone that we have been trying to get ahold of since last month and she's a member. Sweeter. They invited us to play a game of volleyball and eat dinner. Even sweeter. Finished a plate of food and game of volleyball in just under an hour and said that we needed to go. We got the information for about 10 people who we're going to be contacting this week. Super sweet. As we are leaving I had a woman who asked, "What is your name?" I of course told her that my name was Elder McNinch and my companion's name was Elder Whicker. She asked if I knew any Elders that went by the name of Michael. I said...umm...well that's my first name. Why? Then she asked, "Are you single?" OKAY....Gotta go...BYE! Ha ha ha I have never ridden my bike so fast.
We had a lot of really great experiences this week but I cannot cover them all. I'll have to write about them later. I only have like 3 minutes left on the computer. Love y'all so much.
-Elder McNinch

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 23, 2012 Letter

This week we helped our branch mission leader with his chicken houses. We didn't have to pick up any dead ones this time so that was nice. We did have a wonderful baptism on Sunday. Edith King was baptized April 22, 2012. She is the funniest lady that I have ever met. She was baptized by a man in the branch named Brother Melton. Brother Melton is probably the funniest man that I have ever met. Together you get the cutest little old couple that you ever did meet. We're pretty sure that they have a secret crush on one another but won't admit to it. Edith gave him a big hug in the font after she came up out of the water. It was so awesome! Another note to add is that Edith is deathly afraid of water. She nearly drown when she was a child and has had a severe fear of going under water ever since. She was a trooper. I felt her nervousness as I watched her hands shake in Brother Melton's. Then, as soon as he finished the prayer, the shaking stopped. Then before you knew it she and Brother Melton were hugging and everyone had a smile across their face. I think that my favorite part of the day was not necessarily the baptism itself but the Gospel Essentials class that was held just a few hours before. Edith answered one of the questions asked by the teacher, and then proceeded to expound on why she knew it was true. The lesson was about the Church of Jesus Christ in former days. She bore a powerful testimony of her conversion to the gospel. Of her whole testimony, the part I enjoyed the most was hearing her say, "I feel like I have been a Mormon all my life; guess it was just in my heart and I didn't know it." I LOVE those kinds of experiences. They provide you with a spirit that is unparalleled. Being a missionary is one of the greatest gifts that I have ever been given.
Other than the baptism, nothing really too exciting around here. The Branch Clerk jokingly said that he is kind of upset with us because of all of the records he has to create. He said that it is the best problem he has ever encountered since being the clerk. Don't worry, there are more still to come. We have 9 dates scheduled with another 4 to be set this week. I have never felt more apart of the Lord's work than I do now.
Tell Jake congrats for me. I understand his not waiting for me to be home. That is awesome. Tell him that he will have to wait a little while to be invited to my wedding. That won't be for a long time. Betcha he'll have a kid before I get hitched. Anywho...so I got a call today from the mission office informing me that you'll be getting my departure papers soon. Please do not let me know when you get them or what they say. Tell Shannon that she is a turd for not writing me for a while now, but I'm glad that she liked the card. It's the least that I could do. Tell Patrick that he is a player (baseball and ladies man) and he'll have to show me some of his skills when I get home. Tell Ryan that he's a punk and I miss his guts.
Much love,
Elder Michael McNinch

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 16th Letter

This week was great. Yesterday we had the confirmations of all of the Pate children. Never had 4 confirmations on one Sunday before, so that was pretty cool. President Durrant called us the other day asking us about all the work that is going on here. He asked if I thought that it would be beneficial for him to call another missionary companionship to serve in the Idabel Branch. I told him that if he did we could definitely find some work for them to do. So, President sent a senior couple that is currently serving in Marshall, Texas up to "survey" the branch to see whether or not another companionship was needed. It was so fun to have them up here. We got to go and introduce them to all of our investigators from the Marshall Islands and all the families that we are teaching. They loved it up here. I hope that they give a good report to President Durrant because there is plenty of work for two companionships.
I would have to say that the best day of the week was Saturday. Even though we had 4 confirmations on Sunday, Saturday was amazing. We had the baptismal interview for a lady that we are teaching. Her name is Edith. She is a rock. We had the zone leaders come up from Gilmer to do the interview. We all drove over to Edith's friend's house to have the interview out on the porch (because we can't be in a house with no male present). Well, we thought that it would be a big waste of time if Elder Whicker and I just sat there and watched the interview being conducted from the car. So, we left Elder Fisher there to watch his companion from the car while we tracted. We went to the house right next door to the interview first. We thought that it might be awkward and all with the interview happening directly to our left, but hey, we're missionaries. We embrace the awkward. So we go to knock on the door and find that there is a young man sitting on the porch. We start talking with him and getting to know him; he's a great kid. He's sixteen and goes to Idabel High School. Turns out that he knows a few of the kids in the Branch. So we start talking to him about how they act at school and stuff and he kind of shocked himself when he realized that they were the only kids at the school that didn't smoke or drink. I just kinda chuckled to myself on that one. We then asked him who some of his hero's were in his life; people he looked up to. He mentioned his uncle who was in the Army. That was all he had to say. I had just read about Helaman and the stripling warriors (funny because Idabel High School's mascot is the warrior). We asked him if he liked reading and hearing stories from his uncle. He said that he LOVED hearing his uncle's stories. We then asked if he'd like to read some military stories from a book that we had. He of course said that he would. So we gave him the Book of Mormon, not telling him what it was, and told him that he should read that chapter and that we would be back to talk about it the next day. By the time that we left Marcus (the sixteen year old kid) with a prayer, Edith was done with her interview. With tears rolling down her face and the biggest smile I have ever seen, she came running up to me, threw her arms around me, and gave me a BIG hug. There was no stopping this woman. Her fit of joy was too much to withstand. I was hopelessly destined to be hugged. She said, "I have never been so happy in all my life. I cannot wait to be baptized. This is the true church, I know it is." I then said, "I am so happy for you Edith. But I am sure that you and I will be much happier the day of your baptism." I then motioned towards our new friend Marcus and said, "Guess what Edith? Marcus is going to start meeting with us tomorrow." She paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. Then in a shaky voice said, "You have no idea how happy you are going to be. This has changed my life forever. I am so excited for you to feel the way that I do now." It was amazing, I tell you! AMAZING! As soon as we left the porch Marcus began reading the chapter. On top of this great event, we went back to talk with Marcus after church on Sunday. He was going to come to church but got called in to work at his friend's shop. He apologized for not being able to come, but proudly delared that he had finished the chapter and couldn't wait to continue reading. He said, " That was an awesome story! What is this book? Is is like a history book?" Ha ha ha. We said that it was a history of a people that used to live here. A people that knew and loved God. We assigned Alma 43 to introduce him to Moroni and gave him the Introduction as well. We are going back to visit with not only him but his whole family on Wednesday.
We are seeing great blessings in this area and they are only going to continue. I love it here. Can't wait to hear from y'all next week.
Elder Michael McNinch
ps- I'm alive and well. We had a tornado almost touch down in Gilmer when I was on exchange there, but no harm done. At least not to me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012 Letter

We had an AMAZING week. SO SO busy. I'd say that Sunday was was one of the top two best days of my mission. Well...you know that we got our investigator couple married last Monday. Well, they were baptized on Saturday. They didn't want a very large baptism so it was only the Branch Mission Leader, the Branch President, the Branch Missionaries, and yours and my favorite Brother Raymond Melton who were there. I'll have to tell you more about Brother Melton later. Or you can ask Kaitie about him. I am sure that I have shared something in our letters about that awesome man. Anyways. So Ranny and Elna Lautona were baptized on April 7th, 2012. They were the 10th and 11th baptisms for the Branch this year. After their baptisms we got to clean up and prepare for Sunday when the Pate family members were getting baptized. After much preparation we drove out to Broken Bow to visit with another investigator family. They had invited us over for dinner and dying Easter Eggs. So awesome! While we were waiting for all of the kids to finish dying their eggs, Tim (the dad) was teaching me how to rope a steer. Ha ha ha. It was great! That is way harder than I thought that it would be! After dying eggs and roping Gatorade coolers, we got to teach the egg lesson to about 10 kids that were there. They LOVED it! We picked up all of the kids and the families they belong to as potential investigators. The parents all told us that they would like to have us come by and teach them more. AWESOME! Then came Sunday. AMAZING. We started off with Ranny and Elna being confirmed in Sacrament meeting. We had 13 investigators there too! Then the day pressed on. We had a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction with all of the Pate kids, but we figured it all out. All four of the Pate children were baptized by their father after church on Easter Sunday April 8th, 2012. It was one of the most spiritual baptisms that I have ever attended. To see all but the mother and grandmother of the family dressed in white sitting in the front row will forever be one of the most vivid mental pictures of my mission. As each one of the kids came down to meet their father in the water the tears became harder and harder to withhold. Then as I watched the father pause to wipe the tears from his eyes and struggle to keep his voice from shaking before baptizing his youngest girl, it became much too difficult for me to try and maintain my manly composure. The tears just started pouring out uncontrollably. I felt so privileged to be apart of such a wonderful service. The joy that I felt for that family is indescribable. Then even more joy came when I realized that their road to the temple is much shorter than most converts. Since all of those who were baptized were children, they can be sealed in the temple in just a few short months. This is what a mission is about. This is why we do this work. That perhaps we might be the means through which God can work to unite families forever. I feel so blessed to have even met this family. To top off the whole day, following the baptism we went into the Branch President's office to witness the marriage of another couple that we are teaching. The husband said that he wants to become a member of the church. He agreed to be baptized on May 6th, 2012. Happy Mother's Day! After that wonderful lesson, we went to go stop by the family that we dyed eggs with; Just to check up with them and confirm an appointment for later this week. Well, wouldn't you know it, we got into a gospel conversation right there on the doorstep. Man, it's like we're missionaries or something. There too, the husband said that he would like to join the church. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! I love the people that I have to opportunity to teach and be taught by. I love feeling love for those that we teach. It is such a wonderful feeling.
So yeah...that was my amazing week. I am still kind of in shock. Don't know that I will ever really get over it. Anyways...to address your last email:
I am glad that Ryan had a good time in Hawaii, just tell him to stay away from the girls. Save all that surfer charm for after the mission. Umm, no I don't remember your friend Gregg. I am sure that they last time I saw him I was about 3 feet tall and a lot skinnier. AJ IS MARRIED!!!???!!! What the?!? When did that happen!?! He has kids too!?!? Or wait...are you talking about Steven? I know that he is married. Well...maybe you did tell me that AJ was married before...I don't know. I can't remember. I have slept since then. Yes Mother I got your wonderful package. I LOVE that little memory game. The kids that we teach love it too so thank you much. Anyways...I got to go...my hour is up on the computer. Love y'all so much.
-Elder Michael McNinch

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012 letter

I'd be doing my gurl an injustice if I didn't send her a shout out first, so a big THANK YOU goes to a MIZ BUFFAY LUKEACE!!! The package that you sent made me laugh so hard! I love it. Rockin one of the ugly ties as we speak. You best be expecting a letter with pictures from yours truly soon.
Idabel is the promised land! We have had a great start to the week so far. This morning we got to be the witnesses at the marriage of two of our investigators. IT WAS AWESOME! I felt like I was doing some official business signing my name on a marriage certificate and all. Just glad that it wasn't MY certificate. It's been a really tough process helping this couple get to this point and it seems to have all paid off today. What is even better is that they are going to be baptized THIS SATURDAY!!! YAY!!! So all in all we are expecting to have 12 baptisms this month. We are pretty excited about all of it.
We met a lot of angry people this week. Bumped into more than a few disgruntled persons who blame the church for their problems. Had more than just a couple of doors slammed in our face, but all of those moments seemed to melt away with conference. The only other times of the year that missionaries look forward to beside Christmas and Mother's Day. Oh man, I loved this conference. Too many favorite talks to mention. I think that I set a personal record for notes taken at any meeting with about 8 pages front and back. Sad to think that this was my last conference in the mission, but glad to think that at the next conference I might be able to enjoy some of those wonderful pancakes, huh mom! I am really enjoying the mission at this point. Times when I thought that I was before, pale in comparison to now. I don't know what it is, but I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. I really don't even have to think about how to share the gospel anymore, it just sort of comes out in every conversation. Maybe it goes a little something like this, "Hi. How are you today ma'am?" "Good. Howboutchew?" "Doing great, you just waiting for a ride?" "Yeah, can't wait to get home to my family." "I know the feeling. I'm sure that your family can't wait for you to get there either." "Yeah, I'd rekon that they'd like to have something to eat tonight, guess they need me for that." "Ha ha ha, I'm sure they would. Ya know, just like your family can't wait for you to come home I know that the Lord can't wait for us to come home too." I have found that ANY conversation or topic can be related or diverted into a gospel conversation. I invite all y'all who read this email to create a gospel conversation from the most random topic possible. Email me back with the starting topic and the gospel transition and I'll see if my companion and I can't one up you on the "randomness of topic" scale. It'll be fun. Please humor me...I live in the middle of nowhere.
Nothing much else to report on from this past week. No chicken farming or calf pulling to discuss, so I'll have to get back to y'all on that one. In other good news we tracted into a former investigator (investigated about 15 years ago). She took all of the lessons, believes in what the church stands for, just wasn't ever baptized. We asked her why and she said, "...I dunno?" Ha ha ha. Miracles, I'm telling you. They are my favorite thing to experience. She and her husband invited us over for dinner this next week. I'll have to get back to y'all on that one as well.
Glad to hear that my little brother is just chillin in HAWAII!!! No big deal or anything. Don't worry Ryan, I'll sweat for you! Idabel and the 90 degree heat in APRIL thank you very much. This summer is going to be a hot one folks. Just pray we don't have 100 days over 100 like last summer. For Easter I would like an elephant and a side of world peace. PSSH, I don't know what I want for Easter mom! I've been on the "six months to sexy" missionary program, so not TOO much candy please. I've been cooking some pretty healthy stuff lately. Don't ask me why I agreed to this program, just know that the Lord is the only one that is going to make it possible for me to be sustained on this green stuff. I didn't even know that half of this stuff was edible. I'm just playing, send me anything, or nothing, it doesn't really make a difference to me.
Much Love,
Elder McNinch