Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Cute Picture and A New Story

Hillary sent me this picture, thank goodness, after seeing yesterday's picture. This one was taken at my birthday party in Provo and I don't know how my mom got her to keep those in but I'm very glad she did.

I had my very first missionary experience yesterday. I guess when I was in middle school a couple other LDS friends of mine and I gave a Book of Mormon to a friend (she was such a good sport and I love her to pieces), but this was something completely different.

As you may have noticed on my side bar, I belong to a site called Daily Strength. It's one of the best places ever and was such a great help right after Gus died. There are millions of support groups for anyone to join for free. I'm part of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome group and everyone there is somehow affected by SIDS, but most are parents like me. They know exactly what I've been through and it's great to talk to all these wonderful people just looking for somewhere comfortable and familiar.

I have a lot of different friends with a lot of different stories and most are so much worse than mine that it makes me grateful that things happened the way they did. Something about comforting other people during their worst time really helps in your own grief process.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, a man joined (it's mostly women but some men come in on occasion) and he told his story and talked about what a great help his church had been to him. I was curious about his church so I sent him a message asking which he belonged to and he said he was Catholic. I was so glad he was getting help that seemed to be continuous and I didn't say anything about religion after that.

On this site you are also allowed to keep a journal and you can make it private or public and people can read and comment on it. It's also a great tool because it's another way to feel a good connection with people. This man's most recent entry, from yesterday afternoon, I happened to read and he sounded so miserable. He kept asking 'Why' over and over and he could not figure out what the reason could possible be for his son being taken and not someone else's (although someone else's is taken every day, but we'll just side-step that for now).

I did not expect what happened next. I wanted to offer this man comfort and the only way I know how is to tell him how I've been comforted. I went on to explain to him the things I know and what has helped me the most, pretty much all of which is from my church. The love from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, knowing that they know exactly what we've been through and the love they want so badly to comfort us with that we can feel.

After I'd almost finished the letter, I couldn't believe what I'd written. I'm not the type of person to talk about my religion without being asked and have never felt comfortable doing that. So you can imagine my surprise when I'd written this lengthy letter about my beliefs and even quoted a scripture! (I quoted from the New Testament because I think the Book of Mormon scares a lot of people who don't understand our church.) I read through this letter many times and added a few disclaimers to show I wasn't trying to make him uncomfortable, I just wanted to offer him some comfort from the things that I know and have helped me so much. I also tried to show him the common ground between our general belief in God and His hand in everything.

Since I sent the letter, I've prayed for this man to not be offended and for he and his wife to feel comforted. My religion being as controversial as it is, I would not be offended if he stopped writing me, was upset, or had any other negative reaction to my letter. Knowing that everything happens for a reason, if the reason for that letter wasn't for that man's benefit, then it was for mine. I know I've felt differently since then and that it certainly wasn't me doing the writing. The spirit is such an amazing tool and a wonderful gift to have in situations like that.

That being my first missionary experience, I felt it needed to be recorded and shared. It's a very important milestone in my life! I never thought I would be in that position was pretty sure it would never happen anyway. My religious intelligence is not so good so I didn't think I'd be the type of person to do that anyway.

So that's my story. I hope you enjoyed it even though it was lengthy. If not, at least that picture of Gracie is cute!


Anonymous said...

Mel - you are amazing in every sense of the word. You have always been a comfort to those in need: be it with a hug, a laugh or just listening. I think it is fantastic you reached out to this person in need and I'm sure religion is neither here or there when he reads your words. God is the most amazing person in all our lives. On another note: we have so much snow and I think it would be super if all you "girls" could come to my house for a sledding party. Love and prayers to you each and every day.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to sign my name: Love ya Debbie H.

Staci M said...

Gracie is ADORABLE!!!

Tina McKinnon said...

Oh, what a precious picture of Gracie Lue! Way cute!
Your post here is awesome and I'm sure that your letter to that sorrowing father can't help but give him someting to find comfort in, whether he looks into the church or not... and if you made it public, it could touch countless people. I had sort of the same situation with a friend back in about 1981... She and her husband had lost a baby boy, 5 months old, to an ammune system dificiency disease. They were Catholic, except in her case, for whatever reason, she had received no comfort in it. I told her of our beliefs and it really made a difference. She never joined, but she has a real soft spot in her heart for members and what we believe. Glad you had this experience!

Karen said...

Well done Sister McKinnon! I'm going to share your story with Elder Shaker ... he'll be very proud!

P.S. Gracie is cute beyond words.

Tina McKinnon said...

by the way... I just checked out that Bereavement Photography site and that is incredible... what a blessing that is and special people who do this service.

Stephanie said...

good job, mel

Jenna said...

I am very proud of you. That is not easy to do, but like you said, if nothing else that experience will help you and your own testimony. I think you are fabulous, and so are Gracie's pigtails.

Abbie said...

good job. you're quite brave, and a good example to us non-brave people.

Michelle said...

Sharing the gospel can be so scary. I'm sure he appreciates the words you shared. And your girl is beautiful.

Amber said...

What an absolutely beautiful picture of Gracie! She looks like Robby in dog (That's the southern term for two little ponytails in case you didn't know) Missionary experiences are always scary, but you know that the spirit was with you. I'm sure you did a wonderful job.

Jim & Jami said...

Mel, first let me just say how wonderful you are, most people would have just said,"oh how sad for that man", and because of fear would have left it at that. You did not give in to that fear. Remember that your strength comes from God, and if you have a open heart and quiet mind, he can bring his comfort to others via you.
You are the best! You have made my world that much better.

Oscar said...

Nice job! I am have felt the same way- that my knowledge of the church is small so I shouldn't be out there preaching things I don't completely understand but the love and comfort the gospel provides doesn't need to be explained...people can feel it! That is what is so wonderful about God. He loves each of us so much! I am very proud of you and I am need to be better about sharing it! Great story! And great pigtails!

KatieJ said...

That's awesome- you are right, we don't have to know everything to share what we do know to be true, and sharing your testimony of any principle strengthens it!
And that picture of Gracie just might be the best one yet!

The Frosts said...

Wow, I'm so impressed! I love your attitude of well, if it doesn't go over well with him, then at least it was a good experience for me. Very cool! Good luck!!

dean and chelle said...

That picture is adorable. She melts my heart.

Good job for testifying Mel. That is the most intimidating thing in the world because you put everything you are out on the line and anyone can say what they want about it, good or bad, but it means enough to you that you are willing to share. You're an example, friend.

Lyndsay said...

I absolutely love that picture of Gracie's hair! I giggled out loud.

I also really enjoyed reading your missionary experience. I am so grateful for member missionaries! They changed my life—that's for sure. ;)

I know that if nothing else comes of it, that man will feel the spirit when he reads your message, because it was written with the spirit.