Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 14 ~ May 26, 2014





Missionary life is always fun, crazy, and busy...but this week was EXTRA fun, crazy, and busy. We had a zone conference on Wednesday. Basically every missionary in the Jax West, Jax South, and Mandarin stakes gathered together at the Mandarin Institute building to have a giant 8 hour meeting full of trainings from President & Sister Craig and the AP's. In preparation for that meeting, there is a car inspection that is done. It requires an interior and exterior wash and we need to wax the car. Sister Call and I did that last Monday and our car was so nice and shiny ready to go. On Tuesday, we went to visit a member's home and her husband was outside doing yard work. We pulled into their driveway and went inside to visit. When it was time to go, we went outside and after I had backed the car out and went to open my door, I saw that little tiny chopped weeds were smothered all over the passenger side of the car and they would not come off. All we could do was laugh. It was so funny. The one week where we needed the car extra clean, it just ended up getting dirty. So we got up early the next morning to take care of it. But then came the car inspection. We opened the front hood of our car and there was a pretty good size wasp
nest hanging on the inside. How does that even get there in the first place is what we wanted to know? So we had to remove that quickly.

Zone Conference was amazing. The center focus was about what it means to be a consecrated missionary. Before we came to the meeting President Craig asked all of the missionaries to read a talk by Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy, all about what it means to be a consecrated missionary. What it means to be a consecrated missionary is that a missionary is willing to lay everything on the table, "the altar of sacrifice", and give his or her all to dedicating entire service to the Lord. "It is a willingness to give every ounce of energy, every conscious thought, and every drop of passion to this work-to submit our will to God's will, whatever it may be." Some of the things that might be put on the table are disobedience, fear, pride, negativity, sarcasm, etc. By changing our nature instead of our
behavior, we become more effective servants representing our Lord Jesus Christ. By setting goals and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome whatever it is that is laid on the table and become a more consecrated missionary. Every missionary can be a consecrated missionary. It takes the desire and willingness to do whatever it takes to align our will with God's will. This was my favorite part of the Zone Conference.

We have had some great lessons with Enselmo, he is progressing very well and is reading the Book of Mormon.

Creature of the week:
Another creature that I see everywhere is earth worms. We have these sporadic thunderstorms and all of these earth worms come on the sidewalk. Then the sun comes out about an hour later and the earth worms get dried up and shrivel because of the heat. They are everywhere and
I cannot look at the ground anymore when I walk because of these poor earth worms.

Along with this week, we had tradeoffs with the Sister Training leaders. This time I stayed in Fleming Island while Sister Call went to the Whitehouse area. I was with Sister Ashcraft. We went tracting a lot and found a woman named Anne who just loves flowers. She has tons
that she wants to plant. She wanted us to come back and help her plant them so hopefully this week we can do that! Yay I love serving!

I also was called to be a Facebook missionary! So I will be making a new Facebook sometime this week. It won't be my old account. I'm looking forward to finding people online who are ready to hear the gospel!

By the way, my new favorite chapter/story in the Book of Mormon is Helaman chapter 5. If you get the chance, please read it!  One of my favorite verses: 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.  I know that this is true, as long as we build our foundations by feasting upon the words of Christ, we will be able to withstand Satan's temptations. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that Jesus Christ lives.

I love you all so very much.

Love,
Sister McCook


Week 13 May 19, 2014


May 19, 2014




When P-Days are on a Tuesday, that week flies by. Not very much changed this week. There were a few nice thunderstorms. I was told that they were baby thunderstorms, but to me, they were pretty big. I guess that when it is the summer, the thunder is so loud and strong that it shakes buildings and homes. That's what I'm talking about! I love thunder. Walking in the rain is no big deal to me anymore. I get soaked even when I have an umbrella over my head. I like to look for rainbows when the sky is calm. There were double rainbows and there was even one rainbow that looked as if it was going through a cloud. The Florida skies are beautiful to look at.




We worked with the Relief Society president this week. She is phenomenal. She has an amazing vision for the ward and most importantly for the women in the Relief Society. Love her.




Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I look forward to Sundays constantly. Sacrament meeting is the best. Welcoming the members as they walk in every morning makes my day! I love them. Since it was the third Sunday, two members from the high council gave talks. One gave a talk on recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost. There was something he said that I really liked that I will share with you. "The Holy Ghost is a whispering felt not heard. (I loved that) There are times when people hear with their ears as if it were a still small voice. But it's a whispering felt in your thoughts." That's how it is for me; I recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost in my thoughts. It is different for everyone though. I have heard from someone that was about ready to be baptized that he recognizes the Spirit when he gets a tingling feeling down his spine.




In a couple of weeks I will be teaching the Gospel Principles class, the lesson about Baptism! I am really looking forward to that!




Later on Sunday evening, Sister Call and I were about to go visit a home, and we received a text from Enselmo, who is the one I handed the Spanish pamphlet to mentioned in my previous letter, saying that he is reading the Book of Mormon in the park. This was such exciting news! The park wasn't in our area, but we asked him if he wanted to meet at the park in Eagle Harbor to read from the Book of Mormon. He came, and we had a very good lesson! The Spirit was so strong. He was honest and sincere about his questions and concerns about the Book of Mormon. He loves the Bible, most particularly the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). He told us of an experience he had with his family and he was questioning why he even told us this experience; he just felt the need to. We explained to him that it was the Holy Ghost that prompted him to say that and it really made sense to him. We will be meeting with him on Wednesday to talk to him more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I learned something during that lesson about the importance of listening. When I truly did my best in listening to his questions and concerns, the Holy Ghost would tell me what to say. There is a quote in Preach My Gospel that says "more important than speaking is listening." I know that to be true. I am not the perfect listener, but I have seen the miracles that come from truly listening.




I love love love my mission and I LOVE all of you! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! 




Love, Sister McCook


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Week 12 ~ May 13, 2014



Good news! I am staying in the Fleming Island 2nd ward for six more weeks with Sister Call! I am so grateful because I am loving the people here more and more and am seeing so much progress in the area. I have a feeling that I'm going to be serving in this area for a long time.


Snapping turtle

I can't believe I have completed the twelve week training program. It flew by. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer but I'm so glad we are still companions for another six weeks! Every week I see different creatures. This week I saw SO MANY frogs the size of dimes. They weren't even tadpoles still, they were mini frogs! They were cute though, I'm afraid to pick them up. There are also 100 lizards running around each front yard we walk past. I laugh about it every time.

We walked a lot this week! It was so nice, it wasn't too hot. I was planning on buying a water bottle on my next P-Day, but when we were knocking doors, this woman was not interested in what we had to say, but she offered to fill up Sister Call's water bottle. She didn't see that I had my plastic one due to where it was placed in my bag, but she went inside to fill hers up, and she came back out with two water bottles. This sweet woman gave me one of her nice water bottles. I could not express my gratitude enough. I know that the Light of Christ, which is given to everyone, influences all to do good and to be good.

Sister Call and I planned to knock doors on a specific street and I needed more Restoration pamphlets because we are encouraged to use pamphlets in our teaching. We teach using the pictures in the pamphlet, asking inspired questions and then teaching a principle. So
I grabbed Restoration pamphlets out of the back of the car quickly and we were on our way walking. It wasn't until I was about 100 feet away from the car that I looked at the two pamphlets I grabbed and they were both in Spanish. I was about to tell Sister Call that we need to walk back to exchange these pamphlets for English ones, but I decided to just put them in my bag and I said a quick prayer in my heart that I would be able to give a Spanish pamphlet to someone. During that increment of time, I wasn't able to give anyone a pamphlet. Later on in the evening, we were knocking on doors in the Orange Park South area and we came across this home. A man named Enselmo opened the door (he is from Mexico), we introduced ourselves and he asked me why my eyes were so wide. I began with telling him about the message centered on Jesus Christ we have to share and he was interested! We shared simple truths about the Restoration and we committed him to read from the Book of Mormon. I was able to leave him with the Spanish Restoration pamphlet. What a miracle! I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers and he knows the desires of our hearts. Although I was not able to give out a pamphlet earlier in the day, it all happened on The Lord's timing. He knew I was willing to hand out a Spanish pamphlet even though I know little about the language.  One way that I have found how to recognize God's hand in my life and in the work is remembering the things that I pray about. Not just going through the motions of praying just to say that I woke up and said my personal prayers this morning. I remember once being taught that "Our daily actions make our prayers sincere". I know that to be true. When I think about those things I prayed about and do my best each day, I can see His hand in my life.

Mothers Day was the best day ever! There were three wonderful talks given about the divine role of Mothers. Jackie made chocolate roses for every woman in the ward for Mothers Day. After two months of waiting, we now have a new Relief Society President. That was wonderful news for the ward, patiently waiting! Not only that there was a nice little thunderstorm. And to top it off, I got to speak to my family through Face Time! What a treat! Those 40 minutes were so golden, it was precious time but I'm so grateful for he technology we have to be able to do that!  My favorite scripture that reminds me of my mom: Alma 56:48 "We do not doubt our mothers knew it". Just like the stripling warriors, my mom
has taught me to walk in the ways of God. She knows best and I am forever grateful for her.

I love you all!

Love,
Sister McCook



I am standing next to my favorite flowers here in Florida,
they are called confederate jasmine. You can smell them from at least
20 feet away. They smell so good!



May 13 at 12:00 PM ~ The Jax West zone














Week 11 ~ May 5, 2014

 

I think the most difficult part for me is how to begin a letter. All I can think of is Happy Cinco de Mayo! This upcoming week is the final week until transfers. My second transfer already!

Yesterday was the Fort Lauderdale Temple Dedication! There were three sessions and we went to the 12 p.m. session. It was such a neat experience. One I will never forget and such a privilege to be able to attend a temple dedication as a missionary. We sat next to some members in our ward. Lorain was one of the people we sat next to. She was baptized near the end of 2012 and she just received her temple recommend this past week. I was filled with joy to see the happiness that she has in her eyes. All she talks about is how excited she is to finally go to the temple. I love the temple! I love it because I feel closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It is a place where I know that I can feel joy, learn, and know that I can be with my family forever.

As I was talking about last week, my weekly application for this week was taking the lead in all planning and teaching situations. I had some great experiences with teaching members and investigators. There has been so many times this past week where we were at the right places that Heavenly Father needed us to be at just the right times.

On Tuesday, we had a dinner appointment with a family and afterwards, we felt like we needed to go see one of our investigators, Angel. She wasn't on our plans, but we decided to go see her. We didn't have any plans for what we were going to teach her, but I had an idea since I knew I was going to take the lead. When we walked into her home, she was so happy to see us. After a few minutes of catching up, she asked us to teach her the gospel. I felt strongly that we needed to read the Book of Mormon together and so we read 1 Nephi 1 together. After we finished, she told us how amazed she was that she could envision herself being there when all of this was happening. She is excited to read the Book of Mormon! Near the end as we were about to walk out the door, she told us that she always feels so good when we come, that she feels happy and blessed. We taught her that that is the Holy Ghost. I have a testimony that the spirit is the true converter.

Yesterday, we gave a church tour to a woman named Branda, whom we met that day! We went to her home and taught her and all she wanted to know was more, more, more! It was the most exciting thing! She requested that we take her to tour the church an hour after we met her, the spirit was so strong. I love seeing the joy that the gospel brings to others.

On Friday, there was a ward BBQ and activity. It was so much fun to be able to get to know the members more and them telling us about their experiences inviting their friends to this BBQ. It was wonderful! They are seeing the joys in becoming a part of member missionary work! In addition to this activity that Sister Call and I didn't know about was that they were going to play Human Foosball. They were all trying to get us to play and at first we were hesitant because we were in skirts! But we decided to play anyways and we all had a good laugh from playing together! 

There is so much joy that comes from serving the Lord full time. I have seen it throughout my mission and I can't wait to be a member missionary when I come home! I love working with the members and I can't wait to work with the missionaries when my time as a missionary ends. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, I know that it is true, and I know that it brings happiness to anyone who tastes of it. 

I love all of you and continue to pray for you! You won't hear from me until Tuesday of next week due to transfers!

Love, Sister McCook

Week 10 ~ April 28, 2014



Sister McCook and Sister Call




Summer is here. 85 degrees and full force humidity. I am loving Florida oh so much! Time is really flying by too quickly though. Sometimes I would like it to slow down!

My training that I gave to the missionaries on Tuesday went really well! Compared to my first training that I gave three weeks into the mission field where I was kind of like a deer in the headlights, I have seen some huge progress in that and I feel as if I am becoming more comfortable with teaching. I have also found that sometimes, the teacher learns more than the hearer. I learned something about likening the scriptures as I was giving my training and studying this week. You can liken the scriptures to everything and anything that goes on in your life: family relationships, what goes on at school, church callings, sickness, a goal that you are trying to achieve, etc. The best learning experience that comes from it, in my opinion, is patience. Right now, I am trying to apply the stories of Alma & Amulek and Ammon & the sons of Mosiah and all their missionary experiences, to the area I am serving in. Before I read, I always pray. Sometimes I read the Book of Mormon, trying my best to apply their stories to Fleming Island, and I won't find things that apply to my life as a full time missionary right now. And that's okay because maybe I wasn't suppose to learn things that day of study, but when I do find things, it is the most glorious adventure that I can have with the Book of Mormon. Heavenly Father reveals things to us "line upon line, precept upon precept", not paragraph by paragraph or page by page. Try this out! It is so worth it, liken the scriptures to an aspect of your life and you will have some of the greatest "AHA" moments ever. Write them down and remember the Spirit that you felt as you do this.

As part of my 12 week training program, I am especially looking forward to this week. By the way, it's week 11. What?! Time flies. The reason I am excited to do this is because the weekly application is that I am taking the lead in all planning and teaching situations. I thought it would be scary but it really isn't. Yesterday I took the lead in all teaching situations which meant that if we didn't have a set appointment when a message was already planned, then the companion who takes the lead, shares a spiritual message on the spot. I had one set appointment yesterday and two unplanned appointments and I had some of the greatest experiences from sharing spiritual messages. I find that if I go into a home, focusing on what the person or family needs, then I know exactly what message I need to share, and the lesson is completely led by the Spirit.

Sister Call and I have a motto, "Be Happy and Smile". One of my favorite quotes is from President Gordon B. Hinckley: "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." There is so much about life to enjoy and be happy for. Heavenly Father gave us this wonderful Earth to live on and experience happiness and joy throughout our lives. It doesn't mean we won't experience sorrow and pain, we will, but it is so we can grow. Heavenly Father loves us so much that he allows us to fall so that he can help us to learn how to stand. God's love is unconditional and infinite for each and every one of us.

Next Sunday is the dedication of the Fort Lauderdale temple so I'm excited to be able to attend that next Sunday. There are three sessions and we are going to the 12:00 session.

I love being a missionary. I wake up every morning with the greatest joy knowing that I am a missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I love all of you and keep you in my prayers!

Love always, Sister McCook

Week 9 ~ April 21, 2014


This week of all the weeks I've been out in the field was on the rough side. I'm so grateful for weeks like these because last week seemed like everything was going so well and then this week was a sure challenge. Challenges help us to learn, grow, and figure out what needs to changed or altered, completely reliant on the Spirit.

This past week, we had many appointments each day, our days were filled and we only needed to plan for the times of day that needed to be filled. Literally every appointment fell through and it seemed like no one was interested. It was really weird as well, it seemed like everywhere we went, it was empty. All we could do was keep working, pressing forward, and not giving up. I cannot begin to describe the miracles that we had throughout this week. We were able to visit with members that we have been trying to see for the past nine weeks. We decided that Saturday would be a day full of walking, and it was raining and pouring as we walked, but as we were about to turn on Jackie and Walt's street, we saw that their car wasn't home. We walked a pretty long way and just as we were about to turn back, there was Jackie and Walt in their car about to turn onto their street! Yay! It was great to be able to visit with them and see them at church yesterday!

This Saturday morning, we were able to serve at an Easter event that the library was hosting. It was a pancake breakfast/Easter egg hunt in the library. It was so crowded. We were running around mixing pancake batter, taking pictures, cleaning up, giving directions to everyone. I just all around loved doing this! Service is my favorite thing. I love to help people. This event gave us ideas of how we can work with the community more and create service opportunities of our own that will help unite the community better. 

If you all get the chance, please watch the new Easter video that the church came out with called, "Because of Him". It is downloaded on my iPad and it is watched on repeat. It is three glorious minutes of golden insight on Jesus Christ's Atonement. Because of Him, all things are possible, there is such a thing as new beginnings, and because He lives again, we will live again. I know that to be true, I feel my Savior's love every day. His grace and mercy is infinite, His love divine, and His teachings have shaped me into who I am. I do not know what I would do without Him. This video has been my favorite thing to share with others this Easter season. I challenge you to watch it and share it on your facebook with others! You can find this video on easter.mormon.org

The Book of Mormon challenge has been my absolute favorite. I have found so many "AHA" moments within my reading and it has been so interesting to "liken all scriptures unto [me], that it might be for [my] profit and learning" 1 Nephi 19:23...especially as a missionary. It is a whole new perspective to liken the scriptures to myself as a full time missionary as to not. As I have been reading in Mosiah and into Alma, a reoccurring theme for me that completely stands out to me is that the Lord works mighty miracles as we put our faith and trust in Him. That theme stands out to me in almost every chapter I read. That is only one of the many "AHA" moments I have had. There is power that comes from reading the Book of Mormon. I was asked by my district leader to give a training to nine other missionaries in my district tomorrow all about finding "AHA" moments and likening the scriptures so I am really looking forward to that! 

On a final note...something scary that happened was that we almost hit a deer. It popped out of nowhere when we were driving back home, it was so close. I always thought of deer only being in a mountain where it was a rare sight to see one but hey I guess that here they are everywhere. It was a miracle that we were already driving slowly and then was able to stop at a sufficient amount of time as to not hit the dear. That would have been so sad.

Many great and marvelous things are happening. The Lord is hastening His work!
I love all of you with all my heart and continue to pray for you.

Love always,
Sister McCook

Week 8 ~ April 14, 2014

  

This week started off with an early morning run in the down pouring rain. Three laps around our apartment complex being completely soaked never felt so good and I never thought that I would ever say that, because running was never my thing. Before my mission, my hips would hurt so bad after barely running a half mile. I know that Heavenly Father has truly blessed me to be able to run long distances on my mission without my hips hurting at all. It truly is a tender mercy since all I have ever known about exercise was dance. 

This week has been a week full of miracles. There are miracles every day and all I desire to do is recognize them. In our weekly planning session, (not this past Friday, but the Friday before) we take the time to plan out goals for the week. For example, how many lessons we can teach to investigators, how many investigators will come from those lessons, how many referrals we can receive and contact, and so many more goals. God truly helped us to achieve our goals. We exceeded each one of our goals that we made. We had so many teaching opportunities this week and we found three new investigators and taught them the Restoration. Angel, Courtnie, and Lawanna. I am so thankful for the many teaching opportunities we had this week. I have found that bearing simple testimony about any part of the gospel is so powerful, along with sharing "AHA" moments in the Book of Mormon with everyone. Sharing personal experiences with others from likening the scriptures to ourselves is so powerful. There is power that comes from the Book of Mormon. I always think of the primary song "Scripture Power". I feel the Spirit more each day I read. People love to hear those moments, I challenge you all to share a verse from the Book of Mormon that is personally meaningful to you, to someone. It truly helps them to find "AHA" moments for themselves.

Tradeoffs also happened and I was able to go to the White House ward area again for a day that I talked about in a past letter. I had a goal to work on improving my communicating teaching skills and I had experiences where that was able to happen. I was with my Sister Training leader, Sister Allred and we had an appointment to visit with a member named Betty who hasn't been attending church lately. We had plans help her understand the importance of attending church and those plans turned into helping her commit to keep the commandments of daily scripture reading, prayer, and attending church. The spirit was so strong and countenance in her face changed, she had the desire to do those things. We invited her to come to a scripture study class later on in the evening and she said she would do all she could to come, depending on if her schedule freed up. We didn't see her at scripture class, but near the end of the night I remembered the importance of following up as Elder Ballard challenged us to do in General Conference. "If we follow up, the Lord will not let us down. I have seen the unspeakable joy that accompanies testimony-driven inviting and faithful follow-up among members of the Church the world over." Sister Allred and I called Betty to follow up with her and let her know we missed her, and she went out of her way and asked what chapter we studied in scripture class because she wanted to study it. That was amazing to hear! The Book of Mormon is the keystone to conversion.
I have seen the blessings of following up with everyone as Sister Call and I have made a goal to apply that principle more in missionary work and now I am kind of obsessed with following up!

We also got a new car. A new new car. A 2014 silver Corolla. It's really nice! We feel a little spoiled driving it, but we appreciate it.

On Easter Sunday, Sister Call and I are singing in the choir. We are singing "He Sent His Son" and "Did You See Him In the Garden" I love that song so much. It's beautiful. If you can, look it up. I love our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for Him. I know that he is the Son of God.

I love all of you with ALL of my heart and I continue to pray for each and every one of you.

Love, Sister McCook

Week 7 ~ April 7, 2014


The highlight of my week was General Conference! I did not want it to end at all, I just wanted it to be October already so I could hear more! I love how President Monson began conference by mentioning the Gilbert, AZ cultural celebration and dedication. I was thinking of Reina the whole time because I remembered that she was a part of that. What a special experience. I will be able to see the Fort Lauderdale Temple dedication on May 4 so I'm really looking forward to that. I loved President Monson's counsel in the very beginning of conference to "Live true to the faith" he said to always remember and think about that. I feel like that was a huge theme to conference. Having complete Faith in Jesus Christ empowers us and motivates us to do better and strive to be like Jesus Christ. My favorite talk was Elder Bednar's talk all about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement is real, and because of The Atonement, we can become better individuals, always progressing. Our weaknesses can become strengths because of the Atonement. His grace is sufficient. I can't wait to carefully review and study these talks again as President Monson encouraged us to do. I watched the first session of conference in the Orange Park Stake Center, and the second and Sunday sessions in members homes. 
After the final session of conference and dinner yesterday, we had about an hour to proselyte. The people on our plans either weren't home or weren't answering the door. We had one more person on our plans who we had met two weeks ago and committed to go to church. His name is Bobby. We decided to follow up with him. He answered the door, and we asked him how everything was going and he straight up told us he was coming to church next Sunday before we even mentioned anything! He asked the same to us and then turned to me and asked me why I was so happy. I simply could not hold in my excitement for how I felt when I watched General Conference and I shared my testimony of a living prophet called of God here on the Earth. He invited us to come back on Saturday so that he could learn more. That was such exciting news for us!

On Wednesday, Sister Call and I met a man named Marcello washing his car. We talked to him for awhile and invited him to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only did he invite us to come back and teach him and his wife, but another reason why he allowed us to come teach them was because he loved the missionaries he met when he lived in the Dominican Republic. I looked back at the things we did that day and everything that we did when led up to us finding Marcello. It was completely led by the Spirit. I know that if we put our Faith and Trust in God, miracles do happen.

I have been warned that this summer is going to be a hot one. Worst than last summer. I think I can deal with this because I'm used to 115 degree weather everyday for three months back in Tucson, but I don't think I have quite grasped that humidity is a killer in the summers. I just can't imagine it, but I will see. 

Little did I know that spaghetti would become one of my favorite meals in the mission field. We had dinner appointments in members homes every day of this week and 5/7 of the days, we were fed spaghetti and garlic bread. Each one of the spaghetti dinners was so unique. Not one tasted the same. Spaghetti sauce with deer meat, spaghetti sauce with garlic covered sausage, regular noodles, wheat noodles. I just learned that there are so many variations of some seriously good spaghetti. I didn't think I could consume so much spaghetti in a week, but hey it is now one of my favorite meals!

I am loving every second of my mission so far. I just want to soak up all that I can because time is flying by. It's already April! I cannot believe it. I have learned so much and have a greater love for the Book of Mormon than ever. Everything about the church hinges on the Book of Mormon. It is the keystone of our religion with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. I do not know what I would do without the gospel in my life. I know it, I live it, I love it.

I love you all and continue to keep you in my prayers.

Love, Sister McCook

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Week 6 ~ April 1, 2014

 

This week is transfer week! Every six weeks, every missionary in the Florida Jacksonville Mission has the possibility of being transferred out of their area and into a new area. I am staying in the Fleming Island 2nd ward with Sister Call for another six weeks and I'm so thankful because I just love the ward that I'm serving in and I'm still continuing to learn so much. That is why I'm writing on Tuesday instead of Monday. Wow it's already been six weeks. I never would have imagined that six weeks would fly by so quickly. One of the greatest miracles that I witnessed this week was that Sister Call and I received a "media referral". I didn't even know media referrals even existed until this point! We received a text message from an unknown number giving us the information to go see a girl whose name is Allyson. We met her and she told us that she had been waiting for missionaries to come knock on her door for months. That made my heart sing. This week was the week of receiving referrals. We haven't had many teaching opportunities but I have been grateful to be able to work with the members and develop friendships and assist in helping them to do missionary work with their friends.Something that I'm really looking forward to is that President and Sister Craig, who are the Florida Jacksonville mission presidents, announced a challenge to every missionary in the mission to do. They invited us to read The Book of Mormon cover to cover in 90 days. So from April 1-June 29. I'm so excited to do this because I LOVE the Book of Mormon so much. It's about six pages a day and I after receiving this challenge I really thought of how many times I can thoroughly read through The Book of Mormon on my mission. I made a goal to read it through 6 times before I return home. I'm looking forward to really knowing the Book of Mormon front to back, understanding the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, the stories, people, applications to my life, the spirit of conversion, and so much more I could go on forever. I am starting where I left off from yesterday which is 2 Nephi 24. So I'm reading 2 Nephi 24---2Nephi 24 in 90 days. I am thrilled! I challenge each and every one of you to also join in the challenge with me! Start today from the very beginning or wherever you are and read from cover to cover in 90 days! Before you read, think of a question that you want to find the answer to. It can be a question pertaining to anything! Pray for understanding through the spirit, read the Book of Mormon, mark phrases or words that stand out to you, write down impressions and thoughts in a study journal, and pray to know the truth. I promise
as you do this that you will find answers to your questions, your testimonies of the Book of Mormon will be strengthened, and that you will come to know of the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for you. I know this to be true because I have experienced this in my life.




Yesterday marks a very special date in the history of the food category. Two members in our ward took us out to eat to try Gator Tail for the first time! It was fried gator tail. My thoughts before I saw
the gator tail were that I imagined the waitress was going to bring out a huge platter that contained an entire gator tail on it all cooked up, but she brought out a plate with something that looked like
chicken nuggets.







I was close right? Gator tail is chewy and delicious. People say that it tastes like chicken, but it tastes better than chicken...it's Gator tail! It is delicious! I would recommend anyone
to eat gator tail. It's a must do. Check that off my list!




The General Women's broadcast that was on Saturday was phenomenal and I can't wait to be able to hold those talks in my hands and reread them over and over. And I seriously can't wait for General Conference this Saturday and Sunday! It's like Christmas for the missionaries.  Counting down the days when the Prophet and men called of God is going to speak to the entire world. It will be different watching conference at a completely different time than I'm used to. 12:00 and 4:00
sessions instead of 9:00 & 1:00 sessions. Welcome to eastern time zones!

I don't have access to a computer today but I will definitely post pictures next week I promise!

I love you all and continue to pray for you!

Love, Sister McCook
Sent from my iPad

Week 5 ~ March 24, 2014


This week flew by! Missionary life is literally described as one whole week shoved into one day. There is so much to be done and get accomplished that it's so hard to remember the faces we met and who we saw. I found a way to remember who I saw throughout the day. Every time Sister Call and I met someone (because we talk to everyone and introduce the gospel), I record their name and what I learned about them in my iPad. I remember sharing a recap of who we met one day with Sister Call, and we didn't realize it at first, but we had a great reminder of the South and that we are truly in the Bible belt. Everyone belongs in a religion of some sort but this is who we met in one day, a Jewish-Hindu-Buddhist, Christian, Presbyterian, a few Catholics, Lutheran, and non-denominational. They are all wonderful people! We met a man named Russ. He went on "Opera" for a religious book that he wrote that is on Amazon's best seller right now. He showed us his car that "Opera" herself gave to him. That was pretty cool! Not only that, but he knows a lot of service opportunities that Sister Call and I can become involved with! The blessings of talking to everyone are infinite. The Lord will always provide.

Something else that I figured out as well was my studies. My studies just weren't working well for me. They were scattered and Sister Call was able to help

Also our smile challenge results were this: 25% of the people that we would wave and smile at would actually smile back. Where is the happiness?!

I ate at my first restaurant here in Fleming Island with all of the Sister Missionaries in my zone last Monday. My first restaurant in seven weeks. That was really weird to think! We ate at a Mexican restaurant called La Nopelera. Rumor has it that all the Mexican restaurants in Florida are terrible, it's just not authentic, but this place is apparently the best Mexican food around Florida. And coming from me, as a native to Mexican food, and ordering the usual shrimp tacos, it was actually pretty good! So I will be returning to this restaurant in the future.

Sister Call and I were able to serve Jackie and Walt on Saturday. There was a dessert auction going on in order to raise funds for the Young Women to go to Girl's camp. We helped Jackie make chocolates. It always feels so good to serve others. We shared a spiritual message with Jackie and Walt all about Mosiah 2:17 "And behold I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." They are the epitome of serving others and the spirit was so strong when we were sharing that message. I just love them. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true! 
This ward activity potluck dinner with a dessert auction was one of the most brilliant ideas for raising money for Girl's camp. Each of the Young Women made a dessert from home and even some of the ward members contributed in making desserts for the auction. They auctioned off about 20 desserts to the people that came and one of the highest bids was $75.00. It was a wonderful night full of complete generosity of the ward members support in helping the Young Women get to camp.

I will also never understand this weather. Ever. Beautiful sunshine to dark clouds up to no good in just one hour. And the same routine over and over again. Humidity and mist. On the way over to church yesterday morning, Sister Call and I watched the most beautiful sunrise we had ever seen. We couldn't help but to say God loves us. The beauty of the Earth and all of Heavenly Father's creations always remind me of how much he loves me and every one of His children.  We could look directly at the sun and see the outline of it and it wouldn't blind us or leave us seeing dark spots when we looked away. It was beautiful. The Florida Sun is breath taking.

This is the first time that I have been counting down the days that it would finally be Monday because I knew that I would find out where my brother Skyeler would be serving his mission. I got on this computer and the first email I looked for was Skyeler's! He is going to the Peru Arequipa mission!! I am so excited for him! Best news. Missions are amazing. I am learning so much out here it's hard to describe in words how much my life has changed in the past seven weeks I've been gone. I just LOVE it. The Book of Mormon has the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. As you read, ponder, and pray about it, you will receive a power witness from the Holy Ghost that it is true. I have come to know for myself that it is true.

I love you all and I'm praying for you.

Love Sister McCook

Week 4 ~ March 17, 2014

Hello family! Thank you so much for the package! I loved seeing the book that Mom created, The Power of Everyday Missionaries Book, the Taki's, my favorite Easter candy, the airborne, the gift card...that was so thoughtful of you thank you so so much.


Time in the Mission Field just flies. I wake up at 6:30 in the morning and next thing I know, I'm back in the apartment already going back to sleep! I cannot believe that I am already back here in the library writing yet another email!


This week has been so beautiful. It's like daylight savings time happened and all of a sudden it's so warm and no rain throughout this entire week, except for today...it's just pouring!

I would like to share with you one of my favorite things that I studied this week out of the Book of Mormon. I have never been much of a journal writer, or in general a good writer. I was pondering a question as I was studying on why it would be so important to record the ways that I've seen God's hand in my life. As I was reading in 1 Nephi 17, Nephi was commanded by The Lord to build a ship so that his family would be able to make to the promised land (Americas). Nephi asked God where he should get the tools that he needed to build this boat and The Lord told him exactly where to get the tools and how to construct this ship. As Nephi was building this ship, his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, saw that Nephi was building this ship and began to mock him and tell him that there is no way that he could do such a thing through the help of the Lord because they did not believe he could accomplish such a thing. Nephi then begins to share an account of their family history that explains all the many ways that their ancestors were able to be lead out of captivity by Moses because the Lord commanded them that he should lead them out of captivity. As Moses obeyed ALL things that the Lord commanded him, they witnessed many miracles and their lives were in the Lord's hands as long as they continued to live righteously. This account completely answered my question. If these stories had not been recorded, Nephi wouldn't have anything to look back upon to see how the Lord worked mighty miracles in his ancestor's lives. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God. It gives answers to life's questions and there is truth splurging from within each and every word that is written. This Book was written for our day. I have begun to keep a journal where I write one miracle a day because I want my posterity to be able to the ways that God's hand was in my life just as Nephi was able to do the same. So I challenge all of you to record the blessings that you see in your life everyday. I promise that when your future generations look back on those amazing experiences that you had, they will be inspired to do the same.


Sister Call and I have been very blessed to have opportunities to do service. On Wednesdays, we are able to volunteer at a local library in Fleming Island for two hours shelving books, movies, and whatever the managers ask us to do! We enjoy it a lot! Another service project that we were able to do on Friday was to help Jackie make chocolates to take to a Relief Society activity that occurred this Saturday. Jackie was so thankful that she was able to share her talent with us and that just melted my heart. I just love Jackie and Walt. As we were in their home, we continually invited them to attend church with us this Sunday and they said they would attend! On Sunday morning as we were greeting the members at the door, it was time to go sit down and Jackie and Walt hadn't arrived. When sacrament meeting began, there were many families still coming through the doors, and yet I still hadn't seen Jackie and Walt. All of a sudden, I turn my head, and there they are walking into the chapel coming to sit next to Sister Call and I. I do not think I have ever smiled this big in my life. This was definitely the highlight of my week and a sure miracle.


Sister Call and I made a goal for this week: To count how many people will actually smile at us. A lot of people do not want to smile at us surprisingly. It's like they're not happy!


I have to go already, but I'm so thankful to be serving the people out here. I'm praying for all of you!


Love Sister McCook

Week 3 ~ March 10, 2014


What another wonderful week full of amazing experiences. Sister Call and I find ourselves expressing how much we love being missionaries and that it is so amazing that we are able to be here in Florida serving the Lord and His children.


We have found that working with the members of the ward is the most effective and so rewarding. We have had some pretty amazing lessons with the members on missionary work. We call it a Goal for NO lesson. The meaning of it is that sometimes we think that success in missionary work only comes if someone says "Yes" from inviting people to church, activities, accept lessons from missionaries, or any other invitation. Success comes from the moment an invitation is extended. People use their agency (or freewill to choose) if they will accept or reject. When someone says no, it's success. When someone says yes, it's success. It gets easier to extend an invitation each time. We challenged three families this week to set "Goals for NO". To see how many no's they can get. All three families accepted this challenge and are doing great things! I am so thankful for every member in the ward and my love for them is growing each day.


This week was trade-offs with the Sister Training Leaders for 24 hours. So I was with Sister Ashcraft in her area for a day in the White House Ward, while Sister Call was still in Fleming Island with Sister Allred. The White House Ward area was a beautiful area about 15 miles north of Fleming Island and is more lower class Jacksonville. Sister Ashcraft and her companion live in a Mobile Home type trailer. I have never been so thankful for filtered tap water in my life after having experiences with Well Water in this trailer. I had some wonderful teaching experiences in this area and I learned so much. Miracles happened here and back at Fleming Island. Sister Call and Sister Allred found a new investigator back in Fleming Island who we will be teaching later on this Monday evening so I am excited for that!


On Sunday, all of the missionaries in Fleming Island 2nd Ward (Sister Call, me, Elder Nielson, and Elder Scribner) had the privilege of speaking all about missionary work in sacrament meeting. I spoke first and I felt inspired to speak on how the Doctrine of Christ which is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End is involved in Hastening the Work of Salvation. I learned a lot from preparing this talk.


Updates on investigators.
Jackie and Walt. Were out of town this entire week so Sister Call and I haven't been able to visit them but we are looking forward to visiting with them this week!


Haven't been able to visit with Judi and Jim due to family circumstances but we are excited to see them this week!


I am so grateful to be able to teach these wonderful people. And even if they don't accept the invitation to hear more lessons in the future. It's okay. Because Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of his children. He is literally our Father and we are beloved sons and daughters of God.  He knows each of us personally and knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly what we need and as we pray to Him, pouring out the desires of our hearts, believing that the Lord will answer our prayers, he will answer them through the power of  the Holy Ghost. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. That anyone who reads, ponders, and prays about the Book of Mormon will know of the truthfulness of themselves and will develop an even stronger relationship and desire to emulate our Savior Jesus Christ.


I love you all and am praying for you!
Love, Sister McCook

Week 2 ~ March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014


What a wonderful week of missionary work! 
I'm slowly but surely getting to know my way around Fleming Island but thank goodness for Sister Call's GPS. I honestly do not know what we would have done without it. I thought I should explain a little more about the people and the area.


Sister Call and I nickname our area "A giant golf course" with many fishing ponds because that is basically what it is. The area is about 8 miles from West to East and 3 miles North to South. 
It's a very wealthy community with beautiful homes everywhere I look. Each home is unique in every way on the exterior. No home is exactly the same the way I look at it. There isn't a day that I don't see people doing yard work. Everyone just loves taking care of their yards and whenever we offer to help, I think they kind of look at Sister Call and I all dressed up in our skirts and blouses and they kindly don't take the offer. We seriously want to help out with their yard work though!! One day someone will let us help. It is a very active community. Probably because the weather is so perfect everyday until we get that one random day that just rains constantly. So many people exercise all throughout the day and night and love to hangout in their garages. So we just walk right up there and start talking to them about the gospel. The people here are all very friendly and love to talk about Jesus Christ. I see why the south is called the Bible Belt. It's been wonderful meeting new people each and every day.
Every member in the Fleming Island 2nd Ward is so welcoming. They have been waiting 10 years for Sister Missionaries to finally come into their ward and were so thrilled to finally see us. So many of them are ready to share the gospel and have already made it a part of their daily lives. It's been great beginning to work with them in missionary work.


I was able to have two teaching experiences this week which truly strengthened my testimony of Hastening the Work of Salvation.
I taught a part-member family the message of The Restoration! Jackie (member) and Walt (investigator) are very sweet people. I love to teach Joseph Smith's First Vision. I can always feel the spirit whenever I testify of the truthfulness of this message and I know that Walt and Jackie did. Walt has committed to read the BOM and I can't wait to continue to teach him! I love seeing the joy the gospel brings to others.


I was able to teach another family this week as well! Their names are Jim and Judi. Judi has such amazing faith in her Heavenly Father. They are both so knowledgeable and want to continue to learn more of this gospel so we taught them The Restoration and they are very interested in the Book of Mormon. Judi said she knows this gospel is true! AHHH! We also committed them to come to church. This is so exciting! It's wonderful to see the hand of The Lord in this work. I love the Book of Mormon so much and I love seeing the joy it brings to others.


As I have said before, miracles happen everyday.
On a cold and rainy Wednesday night just before we drove back to our apartment, we felt impressed to stop by at a member's home whom we haven't met yet. A sweet heart elderly woman let us in and could not express how thankful she was for us showing up to her home. She poured her heart out to us. She had been going through some trials and we were able to share a message from a general conference talk by Elder Holland. She called us angels sent from Heaven.
Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us better than we know ourselves. He gives us trials because he knows we can overcome them. That is why he sent is only begotten son, Jesus Christ to this Earth. It is through his atonement that we can be healed from these mortal challenges that we face. 
I learned a lesson this week about recognizing the many blessings that Heavenly Father has given me. Instead of saying "I'm lucky", I'm going to say "I'm blessed" because the many blessings we receive are not luck! 


Missionary work is amazing. I love it so much!
Until then,


Sister McCook

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week 1 ~ February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014


I made it! What a day full of flying! 15 of us missionaries arrived in Jacksonville, FL at around 3:30 due to a slight flight delay! Florida is GORGEOUS! Trees everywhere and rivers....and crazy drivers. Humid weather and I don't even really have to wear a sweater. President and Sister Craig's mission home is beautiful and I will be staying here tonight with two other sister missionaries. They fed us a wonderful 'deep southern' dinner. Salad, pulled pork, pulled ribs, fruit, grits, biscuits, punch, YUM. I ate so much. Well tomorrow I will find out who my companion is and which area I will be serving in for the next three months or so. 


I gotta go I love you so much and I'm so glad I got to talk to you today! Next week I will be able to tell you my address.
Please forward to whoever!


LOVE ALWAYS,
Sister McCook



Sister McCook with President and Sister Craig

Week 1


February 24, 2014

Tuesday the 18th, I woke up at 2:00 in the morning to prepare to get on the plane which left to Atlanta at 7:10. The departing missionaries piled on a 45 minute bus ride to the Salt Lake City Airport. After baggage check-in and security, we had two hours to ourselves before the plane departed. I was so thankful to have been able to call my family and tell them more about my MTC experience and how excited I was to be finally flying to Florida! I was flying with many missionaries going to the Georgia Atlanta North mission and 15 of us were going to Jacksonville. After a long three hour plane ride, we had about forty minutes to get off the plane and get on the flight to Jacksonville. It was sad saying goodbye to some great life long friends but I'm so excited for them to serve in Georgia! Our plane left 40 minutes late due to a sudden notice of having to get a whole new air plane and captain/crew, causing all of our seats to be rearranged. I sat next to a nice man named David with his daughter Danielle who were on their way to St. Augustine. I got to know them a little bit and offered them to check out the mormon.org website but they kindly said no thanks. He told me all about Florida so it was fun. When we got off the plane at about 3:30, the mission president and his wife, President and Sister Craig, were waiting for us. Wow this is really happening! They went with us to pick up our luggage and we were off to the mission home! Due to the fact that I did not have a sister companion because my companions at the MTC went to a different mission, the 14 missionaries with me went with their companions in two vans and I went with President and Sister Craig in their car to the mission home! First thing I said when I walked outside was, 'Wow it is humid.' But it was beautiful. The mission home is right in the heart of Jacksonville and it is gorgeous and they really spoiled us with the dinner they had prepared for us when we got there. The really Deep Southern food: Pulled pork, pulled ribs, baked beans, biscuits, the best salad ever, fruit, and punch. It was SO GOOD! 
I spent the night in the mission home with two other sisters.


Wednesday was the BIG DAY. I found out who my sister trainer companion would be and where we would be serving for the next 6-12 weeks and I had to hold back the tears for how excited I was. Her name is Sister Call and she is such a huge example to me. I just love her! We have so many things in common. She has been out here in Florida for one year now and has helped me so much and trained me for this life changing experience. She is a hard worker, loves this gospel, has a sweet spirit, and just interacts with everyone so well. I'm so thankful for her. We are serving in Fleming Island which is in Western Jacksonville. More specifically in the Fleming Island 2nd Ward. It's a very small area with a small ward of about 100 people so it's definitely a whole new experience but the people here are great. We are trying to get to know as many of the ward members as we can and we just love them! Here's the catch. Our apartment is about 15 miles away from our area so it takes about 20-25 minutes to get there and back every day. It's a good thing we have a car, but we've been trying to walk a lot. This area is new for both Sister Call and I so we have a lot of work to do. 
I'm so grateful for prayer. I find myself and together with my companion, praying so much because we cannot do this work alone, we need our Heavenly Father through every step of the way.
This is an IPAD MINI mission. I kind of like it, but at the same time I'd rather write things down. We do all of our planning, and find resources on the Gospel Library, etc. on this iPad. The area is beautiful and all of the people are so kind. I think the southern accents are really starting to cause me to develop one. The homes here are all amazing, I've seen birds that I've never seen before in my life, when it rains it pours, so much green and trees and water, lots of cats that roam around. 


I have witnessed miracles happen every day but I will tell you a miracle that happened on Thursday. Elder Scribner, Elder Nielson, Sister Call, and I are the missionaries in the Fleming Island 2nd area. We were in a meeting with the Ward Missionary Leader at 2:00 that was only suppose to be one hour, but it ended up being two hours. So it kind of cut into our plans for the day so we decided to just continue with what we were suppose to do for that hour at 4:00. We went to go visit with Sister Chattin but she wasn't at home. So we went to the house next door and nobody answered. We went to the house after that and a girl named Lizzie answered the door. She invited us in and we taught her the first lesson which is the Restoration! I invited her to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and she accepted! March 23 is the date! As we ended the lesson with a closing prayer, my heart was so full of happiness and I didn't want her to see I was crying. She said she just has to ask her mom if she is able to continue learning because she really wants to. We are going to see her tomorrow and I so can't wait to continue to teach her. I know that Heavenly Father directed us to her and that putting faith and trust in the Lord is so important.


I had my first dinner in a member's home which was Bishop Price's home. Bishop Price and his family are awesome! (Thank you for the proxy hug dad!) Again we had an amazing deep southern meal which was so good and after Sister Call and I shared a message about prayer with his children and grandchildren and the importance of praying as a family and individually.


Here's a little look at the daily schedule.
6:30 exercise at the apartment complex gym
7 get ready
8 personal study
9 companion study
10 training
11 lunch
11:30 drive
12 library
1-8:30 visit members, share the gospel, find people to teach
8:30 drive home
9 daily planning 
9:30 get ready to sleep
10:30 lights out


Again I feel scattered as I write and I promise I will try to do better. But I'm so excited and happy to be here. I LOVE YOU ALL!


Love, Sister McCook