Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pictures sent October 28, 2014

At Dairy Queen

October 28, 2014 ~ Week 36

Hello my family and friends! I had started to get worried in the beginning of the week, just wondering if what I was doing was enough. For some reason, it troubled me, although I knew that my service was acceptable before the Lord.  I decided to kneel in humble prayer and ask Heavenly Father for a confirmation of my service.  How could I know that what I was doing was enough?  As I closed my prayer and pondered for a minute, the scripture Doctrine & Covenants 58:3 kept repeating in my mind.  I did not know why, nor did I even know what that scripture was because I am not too familiar with all of the scriptures in the Doctrine & Covenants (the Doctrine & Covenants is revelation given to Joseph Smith from Jesus Christ and it is recorded for the members of the church and all who desire to read it).  I ran to my scriptures and turned to it, wondering why the Spirit would put that reference into my mind.  "Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation." (Doctrine & Covenants 58:3).  This was an answer to my prayer. Sometimes we may feel like what we are doing is not enough, whatever circumstance it might be in your life.  I have an analogy; I hope that you can understand it because it made sense to me.  At a service project this weekend, serving with 9 other missionaries, there was a lake behind the woman's home where we could just look at it and the beauty around.  It had been a long time that I have seen a lake.  I stared out into the water; Elders were throwing sticks in the water.  Then this one Elder through in a pinecone, I watched as it sunk right offhand and its' effect made a circular ripple wave that began at the clash and then spread far out.  I imagined myself doing a cannonball into a pool.  All I know is the effect that I made when I jumped in, but cannot see the ripple effect that the waves had on the rest of the water because I'm still down under.  I may not be able to see the effect with my 'natural eyes', but God can. After having that experience with prayer, God blessed me with so many opportunities to serve this weekend.  All of which were different events and circumstances, but it was the absolute best.  I thought of the Savior as I participated in these service activities: 'First observe, then serve' Helping a grandmother put a trunk full of groceries into her home while she was taking care of her grand child. Cleaning a backyard. Cleaning three homes to help a home be a heaven on earth. Painting a home with my fellow missionaries whom I serve with as well as loading a moving truck for 'Make a Difference Day'. The most rewarding part was that we were able to develop friendships with each of these families and individuals as the Savior would do with us if He were serving alongside us.  He would get to know us and our interests and dislikes.  Most of all, we were still able to accomplish all that we needed to the rest of the day even though some of these opportunities to serve were spontaneous.  When we give of our time to serve others, God will bless us with even more time to accomplish all that we need to. Why?  Because 'when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God' (Mosiah 2:17). Serving is a Christ like attribute.  I learned that it stems off of the Christ like attribute of 'charity'-which is the pure love of Christ.  It's more than just the big projects (even though those are extremely helpful) when helping our fellow brothers and sisters, but it's the small and simple things that brighten somebody else's day or lightens a load whether it is spiritually or physically.  For example, serving through kind words and gestures.  There is a member who lives in a nursing home, cannot walk. When she serves someone, she expresses loving words and smiles to those around her. Others can see the light of Christ within her and will feel loved through her efforts.  The invitation is to; find another way to serve a little more than the day before. The counsel from the prophet Thomas S. Monson always plays back in my mind.  To commit each day to do and be a little better, blessings will be showered upon you as you do this simple, but sweet commandment. We are looking forward to November 23, which is the day that April and her son Brice will be baptized! Please keep this family in your prayers as they are preparing to enter into the waters of baptism and make those covenants with a God, which will bless them for eternity. I love all of you and I would love to hear from you as well!Write me and I will write back to you. 1845 Old Moultrie #43 St. Augustine, FL 32084 Love, Sister McCook

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 20, 2014 ~ Week 35

(Week 5 St. Augustine Ward)

This week was probably my favorite week from my mission so far.  It was the funniest week of my life.  The mission wide theme for this transfer is 'Grateful in any circumstance' and oh could this not be the most perfect theme for this week? I definitely learned this lesson is a greater degree
this week.  Hope you enjoy this haha.

It all began with our car having to be sent in to a repair shop last P-Day to get completely new parts due to past missionaries not taking it in for their car accidents.  Elder Rhoads said it would be done by Thursday, but it's Monday...haha.  So bikes became our best friend:) but we had so many lessons that we had to cancel some of them because of travel time.  This area is huge!  And our baptismal date family lives about 6 miles away haha so you can imagine traveling out there numerous times on our bikes.  So with each circumstance, we found something to be grateful for about it. It was the ONLY way that would carry me through this week.  For example, traveling to our investigator's home, while choosing to talk to everyone, we met some of the nicest people, more than usual plus we were biking off all of the candy and junk we would be eating
due to Halloween ha.  So GRATEFUL.

On Thursday, we were about to do Facebook because we haven't been able to do it in literally a busy!..but I felt like we needed to go to visit another family, instead of Facebook.  We met a really nice man, gave him a Book of Mormon, then one of his friends came up to me and asked if I was planning on riding with a flat tire. Confused, I looked down and sure enough, it was unridable.  At the moment of hardship, we were three miles from home and no members answering their phones.  We decided to walk on with our bikes and continued to talk to everyone. Met a nice man who was willing to pump up the bike tire, and we still made it to the investigator's home and it was an answer to her prayer that we came.  Whoa!  After meeting with them, we went to another investigator's home who fed us dinner and afterwards, my tire was flat again.  We were far from home.  The tire tube was punctured that is why it kept going flat.  I thought, is this a joke?  No car, now no bike, no members answering, and its Thursday.  Not even close to P-Day to get a new tire tube.  Then I thought, Sister Jeromchek's bike was still at the apartment.  She was my previous companion. So GRATEFUL! I have been able to ride her bike. God loves me.  This is not the end of the story haha.

On Friday we were suppose to have the tradeoff where both of the Sister Training Leaders come to St. Augustine.  So we planned a double day.  Literally both companionships had set teaching appointments from 3-9.  We just finished weekly planning about to do companionship inventory. An hour before we were suppose to have this tradeoff, the Sisters call us to cancel the tradeoff due to illness.  And so this transfer we wouldn't get a tradeoff because it's over.  For a moment, I thought are you serious?!  Especially since we are on bikes.  But, it all worked out, everything was taken care of.  It was still going to be the best day ever.  We were able to visit all of the people we needed to visit.

Then Saturday happens, it wasn't too bad until we received notice at 7:00 at night that we were going to have a meeting at 1:30 which meant that we needed to find a ride because our building is 45 minutes away and we have no car.  The nearest sister auxiliary leader that could take us lived quite far.  Not only that, we had a lunch appointment at 10:30.  I knew it would all work out.  The members feeding us said that the food was running a little late, we ended up eating at 11:30, GRATEFUL we were able to share a lesson with them before hand.  We got out of there at 12:05 and we needed to be at the Relief Society President's house by 1:00 to get to Ward council on time.  Her house was nine miles away.  So what did we do?  We hauled tail over there.  That's right. 9 MILES IN 55 MINUTES.  With the wind blowing against us the entire time. I thought I was going to die.  We made it there just in time to hop in the car and get to Ward council.  So GRATEFUL we even had a ride to get us there.  Plus the wind felt nice even though it was blowing against us.  Best day ever.  The members gave us a ride home.  So GRATEFUL for that because it was 7:00 by the time we even returned to St. Augustine and I was not going to be riding 9 miles in an hour again that's for sure. I  will go slower and talk to everyone. Funniest day of my life.  I think Heavenly Father was laughing with us this entire week.  I'm GRATEFUL that I have new muscles that I have never even seen before, just from biking so much.

On Wednesday, we received Priesthood blessings from our Bishop. I love Priesthood blessings. Bishop finishes with our Priesthood blessings and shares with us something. I believe this is the
cherry on top for this week of adventures. He had just found out that night
that our building will not be opened until September 2015. That is a super long time. 
It will be the greatest thing ever because God has a plan for this area and the members and investigators. Yes, it will be a challenge ten fold, but I know God will provide so many blessings to these faithful members who make the 45 minute long trip to attend church at 3:00. So GRATEFUL we even have a building to attend to and such wonderful members who are ready and willing to do anything.

I guess the point to all of this is that with each of these things, there was always a tender mercy granted and a blessing recognized because we made an effort to stay positive when circumstances seemed quite unbearable.  It turned out to be probably my favorite week of my mission because of how much fun we had and learning to be grateful in a different degree when
literally every plan we had went down the garbage.  It was the best!  God has a different way of doing things and 110% of the time, His plan is always better.  I was able to learn important lessons than I could not have otherwise learned if all of these things didn't happen.  Most of all, to be grateful in ANY circumstance, not just some.  There is always something to be grateful for in everything, even if it's a twig of positivity.  In every moment, choose to find something to be grateful for, your happiness and joy will be increased.  End.

I love you so much! I think about you and pray for you.
Talk to you Tuesday, next week is transfers!

Love, Sister McCook

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 13, 2014 ~ Week 34

Hello family and friends!

Walmart today was a miracle when we went shopping. We met a woman who had attended the church before previously and met Sister Missionaries, but had no way to contact them. She had been praying to see them again some day and then she found us. I know that Heavenly Father listens and answers each and every one of our prayers.

We have been asked by President Craig to have a Golden Hour everyday.  Devoted to inspired goals and plans that will help us to achieve that goal. Our goal was to see if we can have two return appointments with the fabulous people we meet and our plans were to talk to everyone.  Heavenly Father completely blessed us and I know that it was because we talked with everyone. We received three return appointments and an opportunity to serve at a huge event that has been going on for 12 years on thanksgiving weekend. It was quite the miracle! 

Sister Dixon and I, for the first time on our missions received our first persecution for what we teach as missionaries. It was definitely
different and not expected, but it happened.

Also, did you know that you can teach the 10 commandments by using math? One of the girls we are working with learns best by using math.  So we came up with a way for her to learn the 10 commandments in that way! (Photo is below).  It was neat. It wasn't our idea alone, it was definitely by the Spirit.

The members of this Ward are such great example to me, for the kind of member missionary I want to be when I return. I don't know if I mentioned this in a previous letter, but we travel about 40 minutes to our church building each Sunday due to a problem with mold in the building we are suppose to attend. These members are always so ready and willing to give rides to those who are interested in learning more about the restored gospel and are happy to have them in their homes to share their testimonies of this gospel with them. Being a member missionary is going to be the best calling ever!

A thought I would like to leave with you all this week is about the
Preach My Gospel handbook. I have never used Preach My Gospel so much as I have the past 4 weeks. In this handbook is 'extremely valuable information'. From studying certain principles in this book in preparation for a lesson, Sister Dixon and I were able to find that
our lessons were so much more prepared and lead by the Spirit. An
example to me was on Sunday before Sacrament meeting began, we  went around speaking to the members and there was one woman who is the first counselor in the Young Women's, who was studying and reviewing Preach My Gospel in the chapter for developing Christlike attributes in preparation for her lesson that she was going to teach to the Young Women. I'll paraphrase what she said, there was no better way for her to prepare than by studying from Preach My Gospel. This handbook is not only for missionaries, it is for members too! "Every member a missionary!" Use this handbook in your lives! The blessings, blissful.

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

-Sister McCook

October 6, 2014 ~ Week 33

Hello hello family and friends! 

General Conference was just remarkable. I have no words for how amazing this Conference was. I did not want it to end, ever. I was very spiritually fed and I hope all who watched it were able to receive revelation and answers to your questions. I don't know if I have an absolute favorite talk given, because they were ALL wonderful, but one in particular really stood out to me. By Elder Richard G. Scott, who is one of the 12 apostles. He discussed the four integral tools that build up the family and are sure to cast out anything that Satan uses to tear the family apart. 
1. Prayer-choose to make time to converse with your Father in heaven. Tell Him how you feel.
2. Scripture Study-choose to read them. God most often communicates with us through them. (Like: answers to prayers)
3. Weekly Family Home Evening-choose to make time on Monday evenings, do not let anything come first. It's a time to be with the family despite our busy schedules. A time to develop unity, talk, develop traditions, have a marvelous time, etc. 
4. Go to the temple.
Elder Scott emphasized that all of these tools are a choice. We are not forced to do them, but they are tools freely given to us to create spiritual protection against the world. When we are using these tools, we are exercising the enabling and redeeming powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I won't ever forget these tools. If you're not already doing these things with your families, that okay. Choose this day to do a little better, as President Thomas S Monson invited each and everyone of us. I know that I can be better. If you didn't get the chance to view all of the sessions of conference, choose today to watch them! They changed my life, I know that you will be able to receive personal revelation to help direct your life.

We have a woman named Phyllis, whom we are working with. She was found through introducing family history. She has been wanting to know who her father was and also if she had any siblings. She has been searching for over 65 years. From working with us and the members, doing her own family history for the first time on, she found her father. Not only that, she found that she may have a brother who is still living. She obtained his address and asked me to handwrite a letter for him. It was so beautiful to witness and feel the joy that she had, to be able to send a letter to her half-brother. She has been counting down the days and can barely wait for when she will receive a letter back from him. She testified that she knows God is leading her to finding her relatives and ancestors. I know that He is. Like Phyllis, we can all have wonderful experiences of our own to find our family, and know and feel for ourselves that God is leading us to bringing our families together. As Elder Allan Packer invited us all during General Conference, let us begin now to do our own family history for our ancestors and take their names to the temple, so that they can enjoy the blessings of the gospel that we treasure today. 

We are also working with a woman named Olga and her son, Julian. She just moved in about a month ago and is still setting things up in her home. We were sitting there with Olga, about to share a message, after briefly talking to her about what a regular Sunday service is like. All of a sudden, she gets worried because she remembered she lost Julian's football pants and had not found them. He had practice in less than two hours. For 45 minutes, we were searching for these football pants literally EVERYWHERE. I then thought, whenever I lose something, I say a prayer asking for guidance so that I can be lead to finding that thing. So I suggested we say a prayer, she thought it funny at first, but we were able to bear witness that through our faith, God will help us find what we desire. We said a prayer, looked for some more, and couldn't find the pants. She decided to put it on hold and wanted to hear our message. We taught both Olga and Julian the message of the Restoration and it was one of the most spiritually fed lessons. Olga said that she knew all of these things are true and that she felt calm. She said she was surprised because she wasn't even worried about the pants anymore. She felt at peace and knew for herself that she needed this today. She is making a goal for baptism. The next day we received a text, she was able to find Julian's pants after we left and he was able to make it to practice on time. She told us where she found them. I remember yesterday thoroughly looked through that place in the closet, and I could not find them. This was truly a test and trial of faith through prayer. A lesson that God wanted all of us to learn that day.

We were also extremely blessed to watch a private screening of the new and upcoming movie, 'Meet the Mormons', which is being released this Friday, October 10. It was quite possibly one of the most touching, moving, and inspiring movies that I have ever watched. The stories of these families are amazing, and completely applicable to today. Please go watch this movie wherever you are! Don't miss out! And invite your family and friends to enjoy this movie too.

This week was the Best Week Ever!

I love all of you.
Choose this day to do a little better.
-Sister McCook

New mailing address:
1845 Old Moultrie #43
St. Augustine, FL 32086
We couldn't wear skirts because people would see up them walking up
the stairs! There's the Atlantic. How special it was...on this week
exactly one year ago, I was literally on the sand of the pacific, now
I am viewing the Atlantic :) and yes, I cut my was about
time! Getting rid of the light blonde slowly.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Say hello to my new companion! :) Sister Dixon

September 29, 2014 ~ Week 32

Hello family and friends!

This week was truly a wonderful week. A week full of happiness, tears, opportunities for growth, change, and progression. It is very common for a missionary to feel every emotion everyday. I think that I have come to know and experience every emotion in the book. 

Elder Golden from the quorum of the seventy came to my mission and held a Zone conference with all of the missionaries in the Florida Jacksonville Mission. There was a common theme that continually stood out to me. 'True discipleship'. Elder Golden repeatedly mentioned, "The Lord's requirement for true discipleship is to lose ourselves in service." With each requirement or commandment comes promised blessings from the Lord. "They who lose themselves in the service of others, will find joy, peace, and true happiness." What a magnificent calling that we all have to serve others. Not only will others feel loved, joy, peace, and happiness, but we will also be able to find this in ourselves. A change that will affect our nature forever, if we are consistently in the service of others.

I was privileged to serve in an area called Jullington Creek with my Sister Training Leader for two days. It was beautiful. It's about 45 minutes away from St. Augustine. It was basically an exact copy of Fleming Island. The members there are wonderful. We witnessed many miracles. We actually found a family to teach who lived in Fleming Island, the area I just came from so the Sisters over there will be very happy to meet them.

I also have a new companion! I just met her on Friday evening! She is so wonderful. Her name is Sister Dixon and she is from Highland, Utah. She has been out for almost 4 months. She graduated the same year as I did and is an artist. She has such an inspiring, powerful testimony of the gospel. She is so energetic and enthusiastic about missionary work! She has such a contagious, bubbly personality as well! I love serving with her!

The General Women's meeting was so amazing. I have no words for how spiritually uplifted I felt after coming out of that meeting. Every talk given was so inspired. One talk in particular though that I would like to focus on was President Uchtdorf's talk. His talk was about the divine worth of all of us as daughters of God. I wish I could quote him exactly, but this is what he said--Your worth as a daughter of God is not determined by physical worldly features, nor does it earn ever greater value in Heavenly Father's eyes. It's not a competition. He loves each and every one of you the same--and that love is too grand to even comprehend. I hope that each and every one of you Sisters that listened to it, felt how much Heavenly Father loves you so so dearly. And to all of you Sisters that did not get the chance to watch the Women's Conference, I invite you to watch it right now. Not only will you receive revelation for your life, but you will feel and know with a surety that you are so loved by Him. Here is the link. 

Don't forget General Conference as well! Come listen to the prophet of God, his twelve apostles and other leaders to see what they have to say to you. They have prepared their talks through much fasting, prayer, and inspiration, to see what God wants them to tell you. This Saturday and Sunday, October 4 & 5, at 9:00 and 1:00 on the BYU channel on TV. I am counting down the days! 

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." D&C 18:10

Love, Sister McCook