It’s been all-things-Tennessee at our house since our daughter “Sister A” opened her mission call four days ago and announced her assignment to the Tennessee Nashville Mission! Naturally, we’ve been searching for every tidbit of info we can find about the mission: boundaries, weather, people, food, culture, missionaries, areas, baptisms, etc. etc. etc….all those thousands of questions that thousands of other new missionaries and their parents are doing out there right now!
It didn’t take very long to find out that the Tennessee Nashville Mission [lovingly referred to simply as "TNM"] has been piloting a social media proselyting program since early 2011. Many of the missionaries have mission facebook pages and are blogging! As I reached out to some of them I learned that mission President and Sister McKee are from Pocatello, Idaho. They are the parents of ten children (yes, 10!), the youngest five are school-aged daughters [Kylie, Angie, Aubrey, Kiara and Destini] living with them in Tennessee during their 3 year mission service. Their family is also extremely musical! ♥ The children are singers and performers, and Sister McKee is a professionally trained organist. I even learned that in 1976 when she was 19 years old (and now you know how young she is), Sister McKee then RaNae Peterson, represented the state of Idaho at the Miss America Pageant. This talented and beautiful girl from Preston, Idaho won the talent competition scholarship with her organ medley performance.
Don’t you just LOVE this family?
You can imagine our terrible distress to read about the serious crises the McKee’s are now facing.
On Thanksgiving week, Sister RaNae McKee suffered an undiagnosed stroke and an undiagnosed heart attack. She had emergency surgery that weekend, suffered an additional bleeding stroke, and miraculously survived. She has been hospitalized in critical condition in the ICU for the past 28 days and counting. Currently, she has been slowly emerging from a self-induced coma and beginning to respond and most recently is showing a miraculous turn. President McKee has hardly left her side this entire time, while still boldly directing the work of the mission and seeing to the care of his younger children all from his hospital room ‘command center’. The more I learn about these beautiful and faith-filled people the more I love them and find myself wanting to weep.
But, the McKee’s would not want me to weep.
They are looking each day for the hand of God in the experience, and reporting daily on the miracles through their blog:
“We have experienced several tender mercies while being here this week. Several of the nurses that we have gotten to know have committed to receive our missionaries. We have given them Books of Mormon and pass along cards…Several of the nurses on other floors come up to our floor just to check on Sister McKee and see how she is doing. We have grown so close to some of them and have been able to teach the gospel to them.”
- President McKee, “Howdy from Tennessee 12/3/2012“
“She can communicate (yes) by raising her eyebrows. She can mouth the words (I love you) and (bye). (miracle) She can give a “thumbs up” and an “OK” sign and “I love you” sign with her hands. With her return from the coma also comes a new awareness of pain…Those of you who know Sister McKee know that she is determined and that she has a spunky personality…We are so grateful for our children and so many friends supporting us in so many ways as we keep the mission going and deal with this opportunity to grow. “
-President William McKee, ”Thumbs up,” “Ok,” and “I Love You”, Fri Dec 14, 2012
“Today one of the nurses over [Sister McKee's] oxygen came in and sat by me and said, “ Ya’lls faith is pretty impressive. I’ve never really been around Mormons but I have to tell you that I can see that the Lord is performing a miracle on this woman. Even those in my department that are not God fearing are beginning to believe that there is a God and He answered ya’lls prayers. There is no way that any of us expected to see her come through this and start responding. Praise be to God.”
- President McKee, “Power of Christ’s Atonement” Sunday Dec. 16, 2012
“We loved having all of our children [to] be here but are sad that it was for a tragedy and not for a great celebration. There is nothing like family support when things get a bit difficult. We thank each of you for your sacrifices and help.We received the most beautiful letter from Elder Nelson following his visit here. Can you believe that he is 88 and skis with his grand children every Monday? It was such an honor to meet with him and share that personal time in the hospital. These Brethren are so busy and yet they take the time for people in such important ways. We are so blessed to be led by such great men.We feel so blessed to have so many prayers in our behalf and know that the Lord is walking with us through this interesting trek. Sister McKee is working so hard to do what she can to return to us.”- President McKee, “HOWDY! Dec. 18, 2012″
Today is our 28th day in the Intensive Care Unit. We have been here over one month now and it looks like we may be spending Christmas this year in the ICU based on what the doctors are telling us. The good news is that we are seeing a tiny bit of progress each day and in our own way seeing physically “weak things become stronger”. Each day Sister McKee works so hard to help her body become stronger…[she] is now up to 7 hours a day without the respirator, breathing on her own through the trach.” – President McKee, “THEN I will make weak things become strong“, Thurs. Dec. 20, 2012
Ever since the moment last Saturday morning that our Sister A opened her mission call and we saw the beautiful photo of President & Sister McKee’s smiling faces inside the cover of her missionary packet, we instantly loved them ! We could feel their goodness and knew they would be taking perfect care of our sweet Sister A as part of our new Celestial family.
But now, we’ve learned that we need to take care of them!
I don’t know exactly how. But, we desperately want to do something of worth! So, I am hoping that each of YOU, my dear readers, can join forces with us in helping the McKee Family! Here are some simple ideas:
1. Pray: Please join us in prayer and fasting for Sister McKee and her family
2. Spread the word: Please ask people in your circle of influence to fast and pray for Sister McKee.
3. Write: If you feel inclined, please write them a note or send a little card in care of the mission office:
President and Sister McKee
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 Westpark Dr., Suite 190
Brentwood, TN 37027
4. Read and Comment on their blog: You can follow Sister McKee’s recovery progress and Offer a kind word of support at PresidentandSisterMcKee.blogspot.com
5. Donate Skymiles?: The McKee’s have a very large family. It appears that the older children have been taking turns coming to Tennessee to help with the younger children and to keep the mission home running and strengthen their parents in this time of crises. Many generous folks have been donating their sky-miles in order to help, but I’m sure they are running low at this point, and Christmas is just around the corner…
6. Be Creative! Have you received some inspiration while reading this post? Go for it!
I encourage you to let the spirit be your guide to reach out in some way to these special servants of God in their hour of extreme need in any small way that you can. Thank you so much!
In the meantime, our family is pouring out our hearts in love and prayer for Sister McKee to experience a mighty miracle, and for President McKee, their children & extended family, and all of the 170+ missionaries serving in the TNM to be given strength beyond their own. This is personal for us. President McKee and his dear wife, the Tennessee Nashville Mission, and all those who live and serve there are now part of our eternal family. ♥ - MoSop