Monday, January 30, 2017

Spiritual Experiences

Dear Dad,

This week had its highs and lows. The high of the week was definitely hearing from Elder Quentin L. Cook on Tuesday. We had a conference with him and another of the Lima missions. It was a powerful meeting we he said many things that were very insightful. One thing that was very interesting that he said was that the Brethren were trying to distinguish more and more between the Atonement and the Resurrection. He didn't expand on this to much. I think it will be something to look for in upcoming conference talks and other devotionals by the leaders of the church. I have some ideas about why this may be. I doubt my speculations are right so I don't try to dwell on them too much. 

The other thing he said was extremely powerful.

He closed the meeting with a testimony, or a witness, and a blessing. In the witness he said that he is going to try to be more frank about the spiritual experiences he has had in the past. He made sure to let us know that spiritual experiences are not to be taken likely or joked around about, not to be shared with every single person we see. But what he said after was the most frank witness of the Savior I have ever heard in my own life. I could feel the power of his words course throughout my body. The spirit was in that room. Not a sound was heard. I do not know if he will share this witness at the next general conference. I don't share this to show off that I had this experience. I have always felt the church is true. I have always felt the Christ is the Savior. I have not always shown this through my actions, not by any means. 

His words awoke something in me, I truth I have always felt good about Jesus, but I don't think until this point I've truly known: Christ lives, He knows us, He died and suffered for us, and if we turn ourselves to Him, if we try every day to live His Gospel -- having faith in Christ, engaging in sincere and earnest repentance, receiving baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring, or in Spanish, persevering to the end -- He will redeem our souls from the bonds of sin and make us clean. 

The next day we received the new missionary schedule. We have pretty significant changes. Overall the changes are designed to make missionaries better teachers of the gospel. They could also make it easier for people to break rules and become worse teachers of the gospel, but I feel the changes are inspired. For Latin American countries, the wake up time and sleeping time has been changed. We wake up at 7:30 now and go to sleep at 11:30. We proselyte from 10 am to 10:30 pm. This is the first day we officially adopt the changes so I`m not really use to them yet but by next week I should be able to describe them and their effects better. 

The week was pretty normal after that. It will be another month without a baptism. On Saturday at a ward activity a member chewed my companion and I out about how we weren't good enough or friendly enough missionaries. I would be easy to get down about it but I`m not. It is another chance to improve. Maybe he is right. We had five investigators in church on Sunday and will keep working with them to get baptized. My companion was called to be district leader at the start of the new change and so he`s been kinda stressed lately. It will mean we will have a lot of exchanges of the next couple of weeks. the other two sets of elders also have a new gringo a peace so it will be interesting when we do have exchanges to see what goes down. 

Could you give Jack a birthday shout out. I don't have his email and I`m gonna email his dad to wish him a happy birthday but just to make sure, please tell him I hope he had a great day.

I've realized these last few months that missionary service gives you one of the greatest opportunities in your life to change. I'm trying to change. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the soccer information or information about the country or family. I don't know what it means, actually. I just want to try my best in this life. I want us all to try our best because I want to be with all of you for time and eternity. I use to think that was a given. It`s not. I realize that now. 

These are terrible times for our country. Find peace through the gospel. I don't mean through church members or activities but I mean through the scriptures, through the prophets, through family. Maybe through little Lucky as well, who knows. I love you. I hope you have a great week. I miss you so much. 

Elder McMurray 

Monday, January 23, 2017

That Smell...

Dear Dad:
Thank you for the email. William told me about the City game. It is very frustrating. At least there was a draw so we got something out of it. 

I`m grateful for your counsel. I feel like a need to do a better job at seeing my victories. I haven't really looked at those, and I need to start. You can`t surround yourself with your failures because then you can`t see where you've progressed. The comment you made in the other email reminds me of a talk Elder Ballard gave at the most recent General Conference. There is nothing wrong with slowing your pace on the spiritual hike that is this life. You should never stop, but it doesn't hurt to slow down and see where you are. It was a very good talk. I would recommend listening to it again. I think it is important not to forget the failures, though. You have to remember them so you can see where you need to grow and change. We have failures in this life so we can learn and change, so we can become more like our Savior. I`m trying to learn from my failures. 

This week was OK. A little weird. We had changes last Tuesday. My companion and I did not change, but my companion was made a district leader. This is a little weird because our former district leader was not released. My companion was called to take over a new district. The other thing the other district leader and his companion and my companion and I are all in the same ward. So in our ward there are two district leaders. It`s a little odd but things have been good so far. Our new district has four new missionaries though, including me. Three of them are also gringos, so it`s going to be very interesting when my companion has to do work visits to the other areas and I`m in charge of our area with another gringo.

As far as missionary work, we didn't have too much success. My companion has said that this is his hardest area and he has 20 months in the mission so he has a lot of experience. We had one of our investigators come to church though, so that was really nice. He hasn't accepted a baptism date but he is a really good guy. Some of our other investigators will probably have to be dropped because they haven`t come to church for a couple of weeks but I don't know. My mission president likes to keep things moving. If one investigator isn't progressing, find someone else and visit the investigators in a couple of weeks. 

Sunday was kind of a bad day. One of the families in our ward has a family home evening on Sunday night and during church, my companion asked if we could bring some investigators (they weren't actually our investigators but the investigators of the other elders in the ward) and they said sure. My companion had to go do a baptismal interview in another area as well and the other elders didn't know where the family lived that was having the family home evening so I went with that set of elders while me companion went on an exchange with a ward member. When we got to the families house though it didn't seem like they were prepared for the family home evening and I`m pretty sure they were mad at us. My Spanish was also pretty bad as I taught and it just felt like a fool. Afterward, my companion and I went to another members' house and had a dish called Tokush. My spelling of that could be wrong, I`m not sure. She wanted us to try it so she prepared it for us. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but it smells terrible. It smells like someone pooped and didn't flush for a week. It is foul. It doesn't really have a taste, though. I ate it and would eat it again. My companion had trouble with it. It is supposed to be really good for you, health wise. 
We also visited a ward family this past week that was having some trouble. The wife was very ill. My companion thinks she might have breast cancer. She is going to the doctor today to see what is wrong. It is very sad. They do not have money and if it was something very serious like breast cancer, I don't know what it would do to the family. It reminded me how blessed we are to live in a place where prevention and help is so readily available. We have resources in the US and we need to us them. I gave the family 100 soles from my own personal stash. I don't know if I was suppose to or not but the needed it to pay for the doctors visit. 

Elder McMurray

PS Elder Cook is coming to speak tomorrow so that should be interesting. 

Monday, January 16, 2017


Dear Dad,

Thank you for the email. I really appreciate it. I am trying to learn and to grow. I am trying to improve. I have long way to go, though. This week was OK, as far as missionary work goes. We have one investigator who accepted our invitation to be baptized and is preparing to be baptized on the 28th. We are really excited about that. 

We have another investigator who accepted our invitation, then said he wasn't sure, then said the Church wasn't true. He said he would keep praying to know if it was, though.

Another one of our families also didn't come to church this Sunday, which was disappointing. We hope they will accept our invitation to be baptized, but so far they haven´t, so that´s kind of up in the air right now. 

We also have another investigator who has come to church with her aunt and uncle. They live in the same apartment building, but her parents aren't members. We technically have never actually taught her, but the part of her family who are members of the Church are really good. They have strong testimonies. She´s been reading the Book of Mormon as well, and at a family home evening we attended at their house last night, said she wanted to be baptized. 

It´s weird. We have people who we work with, who we teach and testify to, and nothing really happens as far as the eye can see. And then we have other people who are just ready. 

It´s weird.