Sunday, 11 January 2015

When one door closes

Hey team,

So its the last time I'll write to you of the adventures of Sister McKim since I'm actually not a missionary anymore, and I'm sure after two weeks of silence you're all dying to know how the last week went. I wish I'd written this all a little earlier while it was still fresh in my mind, but the most important things are still stained into my mind.

We set some hefty goals, which meant we needed some massive miracles to achieve them. One thing I truly learned on my mission is that when we want to do good things and we make the effort, good things get done, but when we expect miracles and we push for them, God grants them abundantly and His power is ever more manifest. This week we needed to expect miracles. I've always thought of myself as someone having strong faith, and I thought I was a faily good motivator, but I was schooled by my companion who is wholly without fear and this week helped me take my faith to an entire new level. I was keen to go harder than ever before, but there were moments where Sister Willson made suggestions and I just started at her and thought, yeah, nup, we can't do that. Well, turns out we can, and we did, and I'll ever be thankful that President went out on a limb enough to put the two Aussie sisters together, knowing something crazy was about to happen but probably not having any idea what that was going to be.

With big goals, we hard to start applying every little element of Preach My Gospel, which strengthened my testimony of how inspired that book actually is, and how much more I actually took from it than I thought I did. We knew we had to take it to the members, and we saw the Lord opening ways to us. People were suddenly at the last minute becoming available to come out and work with us, and they just happened to have tricies to drive us around on, and they just happened to know where all the less-actives lived that we'd never heard of before, and we're suddenly super keen to refer their friends. Honestly, the members are the most critical part of missionary work. In a perfect world, the members would be doing their part to invite their friends and the missionaries would be teaching referrals all day every day. We just have to remember that it actually doesn't take that much effort. As members we just have to open our mouth, and as missionaries we just have to share the core doctrine, and its all up to them and the Holy Ghost, and we just get all the blessings that come from being a part of it. We were on member splits for quite a few of the days which got us into doors we never would have otherwise. We pushed ourselves so hard once I sat down I didn't know if I was going to be able to get back up again. We had a couple blessed breaks including the baptism of Angel, which in itself was a beautiful experience. It made me feel like the Lord was truly accepting my service that He allowed me to be a part of the conversion of one of His most precious and prepared souls. Baptised in only 5 weeks from first meeting us, she knew from day 1 that this was right and she never looked back. It truly reminded me that its not actually me that converted her, but because at the time I was doing my best the Lord trusted me enough to give her to us, and thats the real blessing. She was baptised on Christmas Day which also happened to be her 19th birthday, and our last week of the mission. We asked her what she was going to give Jesus Christ for His birthday and she straight up goes, 'myself!'. Thats pure gold! Despite the baptism and the food and the lockdowns in the apartment, we were still able to meet our goal of 70, and even went past it ending up with a grand total of 102. I think the drive and Spirit I felt that week is going to be one of those memories I always look back to when I need strength to keep going. Its truly not us, its just the miracles you get to be a part of when you exercise your faith.

On Sunday morning after it was all over, we packed our bags, said goodbye to Pasuquin and headed to Laoag to stay overnight in the hotel. We had church and lunch and interviews with President and ended off the night with a testimony meeting. Man, I just never love someone as much as I do when I hear them bearing testimony, you can really see just who people really are when they're willing to bear their soul to a room full of people they don't know that well. And I think thats one of the things I love most about being on a mission is hearing people be so purely honest in the things that they say and do. In regular life its not every day that you get time for that, or even that people look for opportunities to talk about things that real. Its impossible not to love someone when you see that much of them.

One of my most special moments this week was when I was saying goodbye to President and Sister Barrientos at the airport. We'd already said goodbye, but we ran back outside the airport again to see them just one last time. President was doing his regular joke-joke, telling us to get married and the like, then he stops and gets serious for a second. I had just told him the night before my whole story about doing my papers, and being too scared to go, then doing them again, and bailing again, and finally leaving a year after I'd planned on it. He said, the Lord knew that this was the time for the hastening of the work, and He knew that there were going to be people training at 3 months, and fresh missionaries having to step it up faster than ever before, and He saved some of His chosen children specifically for this time. So, he said, it doesn't matter that it took me this long, because it was probably all part of the plan all along.

Next week due to high demand I'll start the series of adventures of the awkward fresh RM and tell you all about whats going on in the so called 'real world', but in the meantime I'll leave you with the coming home story. I will admit my heart didn't break as hard as I was expecting, which I think had a lot about how I had prepared myself for that moment. I had my breakdown with about 3 months to go and decided that was the time to give it my all. I left with nothing in the tank and therefore didn't have enough energy to get upset about it, and didn't have any guilt about taking my first well deserved 12 hour sleep. I still love the mission more than anything and I felt a piece of my soul tear away as I flew over the Laoag for the last time, but like the Lord promises all things will be made up and I've grown so much more than I've left behind. I miss the mission, but who am I to want to go back and ask more from the Lord after all He's given me? I feel completely satisfied that the best is yet to come. And due to the miracle of Facebook I've been chatting with my recent converts since the moment I landed and can be more of a friend than I ever was before. I'm happy, life is beautiful, and its only gonna get better from here.

Its been a blessing to know how many people have actually been reading this blog and have learned from it. I actually started it thinking only my close friends and family would find it, but knowing that people I don't even know have learned something is a whole other blessing in itself. I love you all and hope you continue to stay close to our Heavenly Father each and every day.

Ingat kayo lagi,
mahal ko kayo,

Monday, 22 December 2014

Until the Great Jehovah shall say, The Work is Done.


So I was going to do the big reflective last-week-of-the-mission email, but then I realised, it ain't over til its over. And this ride, my friends, definitely ain't over yet.

A week ago we almost had ourselves convinced the ride was over. Christmas conference was going to take up a couple days, then we still have a bunch of other meetings and finishing stuff that was going to be taking away a ton of work time so it wasn't looking like we were barely going to even have a full day of work left. We sat down to our conference with President and he started laying down the law for us!

So my entire mission until now the standard of lessons has been 32 per week, and quite often people struggle to reach that. He upped it to 50 and everyone went nuts. But after a minute everyone kind of let it sink in and realised, yeah we can do that, and everyone got this new energy and excitement to just go back out there and work. Knowing we only had a week left, being like a half week at that it didn't even really occur to us that we would try, then we got the challenge from the AP's for everyone going home to give it all they got until the last minute, and that put the fire in our bones. At first we were thinking 50, then we thought, lets just do a miracle and get 70. So thats our goal. We have our week planned out like no week ever way, and even got a couple Christmas dinners squished in there in the middle. We're gonna save some souls this week. 

Other than the oh so inspiring conference, we had a wicked Amazing Race around Laoag, complete with all of us doing laps of the stadium in our suits and skirts and riding horse drawn carriages across the finish line. Loved it. At night we all did plays and ate our fancy buffet. The islander Elders did hukkas (I don't know how to spell it) all day and all night and we just had to enjoy it. I've never seen President laugh so hard. Good night for sure.

While we were waiting to go in, one of the Elders I used to serve with to me my RC, AJ was outside the chapel. I called him a liar because she lives two hours away and would have absolutely no reason to be anywhere near the chapel. He ran outside and tracked her down on the street, I spotted her, hurled my bag to the ground and just hugged that beautiful lady. Oh man she is just SO ACTIVE! And her little sister who we started teaching a couple months ago is getting baptised this weekend. She was over the moon. I was over the moon. It was just such a beautiful blessing. Apparently she went to the mall and saw some random sisters there and they told her about the conference she she just got on a jeep and came. Never thought I'd see that girl again. I love that little miracle!

I could tell you a thousand more stories but they'll just have to wait til I see your darling faces! Just at this Christmas time I hope we never forget whos the Reason for the season, and the Reason for each and every day. I love my Saviour and I love who I am because I know Him more than ever. I love you all, see you when I see you!

Maligayang Pasko!
Sister McKim

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Hey Team, 

So Saturday was well and truly one of the most spiritual days I've had in a long time. It felt like when I hit that 3 months to go part I just got hit with every challenge and every weakness I still hadn't overcome yet and I really had to push myself to work through it before it was all over, and this day was just one of those days where it all came full circle. For the whole day it felt like the Lord was just reminding me that I've done good and He's accepting me. Theres about 10 pages worth of good experiences in my journal but here I'll just share a couple and some other little treasures from the week.

Our golden investigator, oh my, she is an inspiration to me and increases my faith every day. We hadn't yet been able to go over the whole Plan of Salvation thoroughly with her yet so we sat down to that on Saturday night. She never has any questions because she always just gets it. We got to the kingdoms of glory and then she had a couple, about if theres any chance to go up once you're there. So we explained no, but about how its all going to be fair. And she seemed satisfied and we moved on. We were about to close a little while later and the Spirit spoke to me. I stopped her and said I feel to ask about your family, and she just broke down crying. She gets it so much that she knows if her family don't accept the gospel too that they won't be there in the Celestial with her. We testified and explained to her that SHE was their chance at the Celestial, they'll only get there if she shows them the way. And she gets it, shes amazing. What a blessing it is to know this girl, shes probably going to change the world.

Municipal Night was a beautiful mess. Supposed to start at 6 so at like 6.20 the drunk government employees arrive to set up the sound system, then after a while let us know someone borrowed the sound cable so we just weren't going to have sound! We did a lot of complaining and getting stuff done, eventually after like an hour they pulled it all together and we got some Mormon Messages playing and we all just felt a little bit happier inside. The man problem was we were having some hectic strong winds which were banging the metal sheets in the roof and we were all a little concerned at any point it was just going to fall down onto one of us, it was like that scene in Twister when the drive in theater gets town town in that massive tornado, if anyone gets the reference. Basta, it was a good night for everyone who came. I thought we'd found our golden of golden investigators, this guy around 30 who came and listened and we set an appointment with him after. Then he texted us the next morning, in English, and said he wasn't going to change religion, he was just happy to come and stare at the beauty. Fail. But there were other good people there too so its all good.

We ran into one of our less actives the other day on the street who we visit every week and she was talking to Sister Willson mostly then looks over at me and makes a shocked face. She goes 'Sister McKim, maganda ka pala!' I don't even know how to explain that in English, but its basically like, 'oh, what, you're pretty! - like she was surprised? I still don't quite know how to take it. I think its because it was Saturday which is a more 'make the effort' day and we usually visit her on Tuesday mornings which is my least attractive time of the week. I guess I need to up my game? Haha.

I love studying more than ever and I've had so many insights lately about how I can prepare myself, and others, for the last days. The day is close at hand and theres so little time, we all just have to be prepared, and don't waste anytime. So thats my advice to you all, don't waste a day, live in the moment, but live for the future, and love everyone and everything around you. I'm going to reply to you now, sana!

Love you all,
Sister McKim

Monday, 8 December 2014

Barangay Night

Hey team,

So this week was the massive typhoon that wasn't. All we heard this week was be prepared like never before, its going to be even bigger than Yolanda last year, and just to get ready. Luckily for us in blessed Laoag, we didn't have anything more that some wicked strong breeze. But having said that, I haven't heard any news from how they're doing down in Tacloban so please everyone check the news and start praying for them. Last I heard everyone was evacuated and nothing since. So I hope and pray that everyone is safe.

BARANGAY NIGHT or the 'Pasuquin Project' as we have named it is, to say the least, a MASSIVE success. We had our first one on Wednesday, we got there early, set up the projector, had Mormon messages playing on loop loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear, and half an hour after it was supposed to people. But, we take into account the conversion for Filopino time so we weren't that worried. We started doing laps to invite everyone we could find and inviting in anyone we could from outside. By the time we got it all going we had a good group going, about 30 really genuine people. Each companionship took time to share about families, Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon, then we had a question and answer. After we closed we put on the Restoration movie for background as everyone left but EVERYONE stayed to watch it. One man even said after he had questions but was too shy to ask, but all of his answers were in the movie! After we walked around and met everyone and got all their details and got appointments set up with the elders as it was their area, plus the sisters met their new golden family there, and we even met a guy whos seriously searching for the truth wander all the way over from our area. Such a blessing, such a good night. All the branch leaders came out and loved it, and are all on board for the next one at the municipal hall this weekend, its going to be massive! We're getting everyone involved. The mayors daughter hooked us up and its all looking good to go. Gonna be a good weekend!

So a baby miracle happened this week. On Saturday we were doing laps trying to find food that was delicious, and we just weren't getting any. All we could think about was Greenwich Pizza and living in a little town theres not anything like that anywhere available. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we were just going to go hungry that night. Then we went to our beautiful, inspired investigators house, the golden of all golden one, and while we were teaching, her mum comes out with a Greenwich pizza and bottles of water. We about cried. Then they sat there and watched us eat it. In their beautiful big house dimmed out with the Christmas tree and lights going. It was a beautiful moment. And she is golden. I love this girl so much, she is going on a mission when shes baptised. Couldn't be more blessed than to be teaching such a chosen daughter of God. 

This week was just generally a great week. On the days we set high goals we achieved them and our faith definitely increased. I just love every day here and its still feeling more and more like home all the time. Other blessings - my accent is back in full force. We tell people we're both Aussies and they're like, ohh you sound Aussie but Sister Willson's actually American? Haha. We're working on it though. Theres still room for improvement for both of us. You probably won't understand me when I get home anyway because I actually can't speak a full sentence of English.

Love you all my dears,
Sister McKim

"You gotta risk it for the biscuit"

Monday, 1 December 2014

Ye Days of Olde


So I didn't think about what I was going to write this week so now that I've sat down I've forgotten everything thats happened. That happened to me a couple weeks ago when I forgot to tell the story about when we got chased by the drunk boy with the machete and had to hide in a members house. Sometimes things happen and I forget, basta this week was cool!

We have been trekking from meeting to meeting, so our key indicators are not as pleasing as they once have been, but since were both about to leave this area were making sure we get all those little things done that sometimes missionaries just don't have time to do. Our branch president has been more than concerned about the state of the branch and the way things are going, so were putting all our heart and souls into making sure everyone knows and understands their callings. Its been really awesome actually, and stuff is getting done! Nothing feels as good as progress!

Our little town meetings are all set to go and we have 3 this week. One of the halls was pretty small and we weren't that keen for it, so we went to the municipal hall and were just kind of like, yeah here na lang! Sister Willson especially does not have any reservations about doing what it takes to get there. After a couple meetings in the mayors office and a couple after hours drive bys at the mayors house, we're getting a TOWN WIDE meeting hopefully next week. I like having a comp where we just get it done. We have realised that together we are basically unstoppable which is a scary amount of power, but we use it righteously.

We have met a lot of beautiful and prepared people who we just know are going to accept this perfect gospel. Our newest favourite is the niece of the American family who we met last week, because she is just straight up amazing. She just gets the gospel and she has already learned how to recognise the Spirit, shes basically already a converted soul in only a week! She came to church and saw one of her best friends there who is a member. Perfect. When I made her teaching record I wrote GOLDEN all over it in gold sharpie, then she came to church wearing gold. So awesome. Just, so so awesome.

Yesterday we were at a members house trying to work the projector to get it ready for Barangay night, and the miracle in itself was that I managed to figure out where all 50 cables went and get it working. We tried out a few mormon messages to make sure it was all working, so we decided not to waste the time and actually teach the member from the message while we were watching it. I just need to recommend it to everyone, its called 'You Never Know', and its about a woman running around doing all her daily things and at the end feeling like kind of a failure, but she doesn't quite realise all the good that she was able to achieve that day through all those little things. The sister we were watching it with was really affected, and so was I. I'm not gone to get all choked up about womanhood and motherhood but it really reminded me who I am, what my calling is as a woman, and what I really am preparing for. This is all so awkward to say but for some reason I'm still writing it. But the moral of the story, is we just need to give all of ourselves, to the Lord, to our families, and to those around us. And while we may feel so inadequate and so imperfect, we never quite know what we've done. But the Lord does and He never forgets about us. I just love my mum and shes probably one of the most unappreciated people ever. It reminded me that the road ahead is long and there is a work still to do, and everyones role is great even when sometimes it doesn't feel like it.

I hope you all loved your Sabbath Day yesterday and learned everything you needed for the week. Since almost every day here is like the Sabbath day I never want any day to feel any less after this adventure is over.

"Our great-grandfathers called it the Holy Sabbath,
Our grandfathers called it the Sabbath,
Our Fathers called it Sunday,
And we just called it the weekend."

Lets never forget why we're here and who we are, and never forget the One who made it all possible. Love you all,
Sister McKim

Monday, 24 November 2014


This week takes the cake for being the most rediculous week of my mission so far, and I won't be shocked if it just gets more wicked from here on out!

So being companions with Sister Willson is excellent, to say the least. I don't even know where to begin with this. Ok so, arrived at the bus station Tuesday morning, Sister Willson, me and the AP Elder Paasi who is also from Aus just met up in a circle and literally instantly our accents came back. We had a wicked 3 way fist pump and all confirmed that this was going to be the last transfer of our lives as were all about to die next month. I saw President and asked him just where he thought he was going with this and he just laughed and was like, 'yeah, I knew you'd love it'.

After one glorious morning of work we got the text, pack your bags youre going to Manila - TOMORROW. I realise no matter how I tell this story its just not going to be as exciting to anyone else as it was to us. But were missionaries and were easily excited. We stroll into the airport, a group of about 20 white people which just shocked the locals who probably aren't used to 20 people in general being in the tiny airport, so we were the focus of attention. SO not to waste an opportunity we just jamming out and start an impromptu baby tabernacle choir in the terminal which got everybody interested to stay the least.

Hit the airplane and rolled out of the Manila airport like high rollers, suddenly we seemed to fit in a little bit more dressed in suits and business skirts, everything seemed to make a little bit more sense. Climbed in a van and asked the driver where we were going. He gives us the little eyebrow wiggle and goes 'TEMPLE!' Needless to say a cheer was heard as far back as Laoag itself. Sister Willson and I clutched each other as we came into view of the MTC and our temple that we loved so so much. I shant go into the details of my experience inside except that I haven't cried like that in a long time. Nothing feels more like going home than walking inside the temple for the first time in 15 months. Rolled into the hotel and spotted Mormons in the hallway - including one lone Elder that just had no idea what he was doing. We walked up to him to try sort him out, he flew in by himself and they told him he was at the wrong hotel and wouldn't check him in or tell him where to go, plus he didn't speak Tagalog because he was still on his way to the MTC and had no food or money. After a minute hes like, 'wait, I know you guys!' Hes from Sydney and we used to be in the same chapel and him and Sister Willson were in trek together. Basta it was a beautiful moment where we saved him and found out where he was going, gave him all the food we had and we said goodbye to our new little brother. We're a sweet little team. I was more than excited for a hot shower since I also haven't had one of them in 15 months. Water was cold. I sucked it up, but turns out that we were the only ones that didn't have hot water. It hurt my heart a little bit but its ok, I'll have one again one day....

Friday morning we hit immigration to get some fingerprints done, and what should have been a half hour adventure turned into a 6 hour frustrating time in our lives, which meant we couldn't go back to the temple like we had planned. Sad. So we did the next best thing - we hit the MALL OF ASIA! It was the biggest mall I've ever seen, and they had every store I've ever seen. It was Babylon. But it was beautiful. It was overwhelming to say the least and I didn't know where to start, but something told us to look up, and we looked up, and right above us was a Max Brenner chocolate shop. I'm not proud of the scream that came out of my mouth, but it was so so happy. Bonding with the batch was the ultimate joy of the weekend, and the fact that we just happened to see 3 of our favourite sisters from this mission who had already gone home to Manila. It was amazing. Then we came back.

So we get back to Pasuquin and get into weekly planning. All the investigators here just moved, what do you know, so the work here is hard to say the least. The missionaries had been having trouble getting members involved and getting much done, so we tried to figure out what the plan was. We both go home at the same time and then our area is getting pulled out from the lowering number of missionaries, so we decided we could either die together with Pasuquin, or we could resurrect it and go out with a bang. We started talking about how we didn't want to leave with any regrets, and I remembered this idea we had a while ago that we never got to do. Basically we want to change the way we do missionary work here. Every one of the 843543 times I've watched the Restoration I see how they have town meetings and everyone comes out in droves to listen to the missionaries, and I wish that we could do that. So we thought, WHY CAN"T WE? By the end of the night we had all the missionaries on board and had personally spoken to every single one of the Barangay captains in the Pasuquin area, which are like the mayors of each little neighbourhood and set a time with them. Basically every night for a week were going to run town meetings where we preach the word to all who will come and hear it. The next day we got the whole branch presidency on board and in two days we have the whole thing happening. Pasuquin's not gonna know what hit it. The Mormons are coming. They better get ready.

Then just to top of our perfect week, white people appeared at church on Sunday! They're from Utah and the wife was born here but grew up in America and they were just incredible people. They invited us over for dinner and referred her whole family to us. They cooked us pizza. Like, organic pizza, with real cheese, I don't even know where they got real cheese from because its not even available here. He's a director/composer who has worked on a ton of my favourite movies. We sat there with our pizza in awe of his every word, and at the end they gave us their card and told us to look them up when we're in Utah. We will. Plus one of the nieces is about to go to BYU and is so excited to be taught so were gonna try get her baptised soon, and the grandma has just been waiting to come so we could invite her to church with us. She is excited to say the least. Best week ever.

So all is well. We are very happy and are driven more than ever to work hard and give it all we got. I love this mission. I love my life. I love you all.

See you all in Babylon!
Sister McKim

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Final Countdown

So the text we all knew was coming, Sister McKim is getting transferred for her last 6 weeks. And in the absolute shock of the century, my companion is SISTER WILLSON, the only other Aussie sister in the mission. Its also an answer to prayers because I wanted someone who was going to work super hard and knew what they were doing so we could just get straight into the work, and also have the funniest transfer ever, plus someone who understands my jokes, who understands my English, and who understands when I talk about my life, plus to serve close to Laoag, but not in Laoag. So I had a lot of requests, but I am not disappointed. Were in Pasuquin which is about 20 minutes out of Laoag. I can't think of a more perfect transfer. And I couldn't feel more blessed. Sister Willson is probably the loudest person I've ever met, so its going to be a wicked transfer!

We've been working out the details of our Waters of Mormon mass baptism and our district president is the fire behind the dream, and hes probably one of the most motivated people I've ever met in my life, and hes only 30. We were having coordination at the chapel when he kept sticking his head in and out throwing out ideas. Then he came in, gave us a list of part members and former investigators that hes been talking to and has found answers to all their concerns, and committed them all to be baptised on that date. He gave us the names and told us to go make sure they get taught the lessons. THAT, my friends, is how missionary work is supposed to be. He is one incredibly inspired man. He told us stories he'd heard about missionaries back in the day baptising whole neighbourhoods, hundreds of people, he said, in one day. He walked out and we all sat in silence from his incredible speech. Then one of the RM's piped up and said it was all true because President was the missionary that baptised them all. The man. I have been inspired to say the least.

Any other memories I have from this week went out the window last night when I was pacing back and forth on the kitchen tiles waiting for transfer texts. All I can say from this week is, after being without power for a lot of it, and having no water, and having to march up and down the stairs to our second story apartments with buckets of water that we pumped from the well a million times a day, as sad as I am to leave theres some blessings too. Plus our bathroom hasn't drained in 6 weeks, so it'll be nice not to have to stand ankle deep in thick grey and black water every time I walk in there. Ending the routine of having to shower AFTER coming out of the shower. Its all blessings.

I gave a training this week about diligence which really made me think. The main inspiration that came to me was about talking to everyone and inviting them all to come unto Christ. I thought, if someone could see the future and tell me that if I talked to every single tricie driver that picked me up my whole mission, that just one of them would get baptised, then of course I would do it, all that work but only one baptism is still worth it. So it would only make sense that because we ride with 100's of different drivers on our mission that by odds alone, and because some of them are probably prepared, that at least a few would get baptised. So I made it my goal, that I'm going to talk to them all. And what do you know, almost all of them have been taught before, or have a cousin whos a member, and are just super happy to have us come and teach them. That was a lesson for me about being more diligent for sure.

So next week I'll surely have 1000 stories for you all, until then, love you!
Sister McKim

The pictures!
Me and my baby Sister Razalan. Shes not actually my baby, shes a trainee in my apartment but I love her and shes my baby.
We made Graham cake and Australia just magically appeared on top of it in cherries.
Ferdinand, a member in our branch who is the most involved member of anyone ever. He has no arms so he does everything with his feet, hes the man.
These our our kids, its just them and their 80 year old grandma in their family so they all have to work hard. She had the kids chopping wood. They're young but they know their way around a machete!