Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 27 ~ August 25, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was the 'Best Week Ever

I have a testimony of praying specifically for certain things. For example, for the last couple of months, I have been praying for opportunities to serve someone. We were blessed triple fold this week. We received not one, but three opportunities to serve. We drove about 15 miles to go serve in Middleburg. There were 12 missionaries there doing a yard work project alongside two members, for a very sweet elderly man named Earl. It was a surprise to him to see all of these missionaries out there in his yard. I loved seeing the joy on his face. My heart was so happy to be doing yard work. I have been praying for this for so long. Below is a picture of all of us.  We also served at a baptism and served a group in a time of need.

Whenever I think of service, I immediately think of the Savior. My mind is completely focused on Him and the kind of example that he is. That was the main focus at a meeting that was held this past Wednesday. The theme was Personal Discipleship. Something that I learned is that Christlike attributes are gifts of the Spirit. There are so many Christlike attributes. Think of Christlike attributes as I list some-Faith, Hope, Charity, Love, Patience, Humility, Knowledge, Obedience, Virtue, Diligence, Selflessness, Trust, Self-control, meekness, etc. We can develop these Christlike attributes as we have the 'mind of Christ'. How do we become more like him? Through prayer. Through accessing His Atonement. Trying our best to emulate Him.

Sean, the nine year old that we have been working with is entering in to the waters of baptism on September 14! He is so excited. I have enjoyed teaching him. He was able to attend a baptism this past Saturday to see what it is going to be like for him. He is a very smart boy and has been well taught in primary. This just came to mind right now as I was typing, before I came out on my mission, I had a Church calling in the primary. I taught the 5 and 6 year olds all about Jesus Christ. I know now and have a confirmation that this calling prepared me to teach Sean. I know that whatever Church callings we are given, they are truly inspired and will help prepare us for things that we will do in our lives. Most importantly, Church callings are there for us to serve others and help each other progress on their way back to our Heavenly Father. At the same time, as we lose ourselves in our callings, we are being shaped into the people that Heavenly Father wants us to become. 

I love being a missionary so much. It is my world, Fleming Island has my heart. I have learned for myself and know what true joy is. I want to be a missionary forever. I can't wait to be a missionary forever.

Love, Sister McCook

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 26 ~ August 18, 2014

Dear Family & Friends,

I have been learning a lot more about prayer this past week. I have been studying this general conference talk called, 'Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer' by Richard G. Scott. Prayer is a gift from God. I never thought of prayer like that but it absolutely is a divine gift. To be able to communicate with a loving Father in Heaven every day and receiving answers from Him is such a blessing. We can express the feelings of our hearts and ask for things and He freely gives. Prayer has been such a blessing in my life. If you ever feel like you can't tell if you are receiving answers, this scripture always gives me comfort.

2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

This is a promise. We can find answers to our prayers simply by listening and being patient. Pay attention to how you feel and the thoughts that come into your mind as you pray. They will come.

Here is the link to the talk, I love it so much.

We had a very fun ward activity this past Saturday. It's one that they do annually. It's called the 'Women Appreciation Dinner". All women were invited to come gather at the church and enjoy a chicken & ribs dinner, prepared and served by the men. It was so nice. We sat at a table with a Patricia, Teresa, and Teresa brought two friends-Debbie and Ann. I had met them before at Teresa's home. They are so great! We were able to give them a church tour! It was a spur of the moment thing, but it was such a lovely, spiritual experience. They enjoyed the large pictures that were around the building. They said that they would be happy to come to church a few times with Teresa in the future. 

Here is a fun story. We were doing service at the Clay County headquarters library in Fleming Island and we were shelving books in the Young Adult section. I was shelving on one side and Sister Ashcraft went over on the other side near the graphic novels section. I knelt down to shelve a book on the bottom shelf and all of a sudden I hear a voice talking. It was very very high voice, almost like a screech. It was a voice that I had never heard before and I realized she was talking to Sister Ashcraft on the other side asking where the newspapers were, but Sister Ashcraft couldn't understand her. I stood up and walked behind the shelf and there was this two and a half foot tall elderly woman talking to her. I did not expect that. She turned to me and asked where the newspapers were, I smiled really big and I showed them to her and that was the end of it. We aren't able to share the gospel in the library, but it was sweet to serve her. Then later on, I figured out that she was one of the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. So Cute!

Also don't forget to participate in this Facebook event happening on Saturday, August 23. EVERYONE is invited. Simply share a picture of yourself with a photo of Jesus Christ and post why you follow Him with the hashtag: #IFollowHim.

Today marks the day that in exactly one year, I will be on a plane home. I can't believe that it's already one year left. I just want to be a missionary forever! I love being a missionary. I love meeting and talking to people about Jesus Christ everyday. Serving a mission has been the best decision that I have ever made in my life. 

I love all of you.
Study the scriptures everyday.
See you in a year!

Love, Sister McCook

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 25 ~ August 11, 2014

Week 25
August 11, 2014

I love Fleming Island. If I could serve here in this 8 x 5 mile area for a full year, I would do it in a heartbeat. I love serving here and I love the members.

I have a new companion!  Her name is Sister Ashcraft and she has been out in the mission field for over a year. She will be returning home in December. She already knows the area backwards and forwards and has such a unique, fun way of teaching that I look forward to learning from her every day. She knows how to use her visuals. Teaching with visuals is so much more fun and interactive. It gives a better understanding for both the teacher and the learner. I love it!

Let me just say that every week is a week full of miracles.

Sean is still on board for baptism either this month or next month. We are teaching him every week!

We have been teaching Amy in a member’s home for about a month now. She came to church for the very first time yesterday and truly enjoyed it. The Sacrament meeting was perfect for her. She said she would be coming back and even set up an appointment with the members to have us come back. I love Amy! She is so much fun to be around. I loved watching her go throughout her first time at church, being able to feel the Spirit and she was so happy! That is one of my favorite parts about missionary work.

Miracle of the year. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the quorum of the twelve apostles came to my mission and had a special meeting just for missionaries. Each of the missionaries was able to introduce themselves to him and shake his hand! I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life. He asked all of us if we had any questions that he could answer. One of my favorite questions that was asked was 'How do I make every prayer sincere and powerful?' He said, "Pray with your ears open. Don't fill in all the space with your words. Be slow, pause, inspiration will come. Feel what the Spirit says to you as your prayer goes along. The Spirit will direct your prayer. By doing this, you can ask what He (Heavenly Father) wants to tell you." I know that this is true. This is truly how we can communicate to our Heavenly Father. Like a conversation speaking back and forth to each other. If we patiently wait and listen to the still small voice of the Holy Ghost, we will be prepared to receive more answers.
I will never forget this most powerful experience. Elder Christofferson testified that "He lives". I felt the Spirit so powerfully in that room. I know that He lives.

I love all of you.
Thank you all for your love and prayers.

-Sister McCook

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Week 24 ~ August 5, 2014

Week 24
August 5, 2014
Hello Family & Friends!

It's been awhile since I have written to you all. It has been such a very filled crazy past two weeks. We moved into our new apartment that is inside of our area last Monday and it feels like home. It is so nice! And now we have an extra hour in our day to continue to work. I can't believe that the drive from our previous home to Fleming Island made such a difference in the day, but it did! I like this so much better. We can walk out of our home and begin sharing the gospel instead of jumping into the car and expecting a 30 minute drive. It is the best!

As many of you might know, transfers are this week. We got on the conference call with 200 other missionaries to see what changes would be happening. I am staying in Fleming Island for another six weeks! I love Fleming Island so very much and I am very grateful that the Lord has given me more time to be here. On the other hand, my companion, Sister Call, is being transferred. We have been serving together since the day after I walked off the plane in Florida. For six whole months! 

Today is my six month mark. I have a new companion; we will begin serving together tomorrow. Her name is Sister Ashcraft. I have mentioned her a few times in past letters because she was my Sister Training Leader. Now she is my companion! I am excited to serve with her. I will give more details next week when we are actually serving together.

This week, Sister Call and I visited the Bishop's grandson, Sean and his family for the first time ever. We talked about the Book of Mormon and Sean said he really wanted to be baptized. So we invited him to be baptized and he said yes! What a miracle. I am so excited to be teaching him. He is just nine years old and his family will be there too throughout the whole experience. He will be baptized sometime this month they haven't decided which day yet.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon yesterday and I really would like to share this scripture with you all. Before I began, I read the chapter heading to see what this chapter would be all about. It's about the Atonement of Jesus Christ so I was planning on studying this chapter with the superficial perspective that he suffered and died specifically for me. It was then that I read this verse:

"Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy." (Mosiah 3:3) It was then that my perspective about what I was about to study, completely changed. The 'glad tidings of great joy' is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I never thought of it like that. The knowledge that Jesus Christ suffered and died for all of us is joyful. We can be changed, we can be made clean, we can be made stronger than we ever could be on our own. He wants us to use his Atonement, that is why it's there. I have a testimony of the enabling power of the Atonement. It is real. It is wonderful and I am so grateful for Him. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of Heavenly Father's love for us.

There are a few other individuals whom we are working with. Please keep them in your prayers.

Walt, Allison, Amy, Christine.

Here's my new address and also my email. I don't know if it's posted.

1717 County Road 220 #3303

Fleming Island, FL 32003

Love, Sister McCook