Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 24, 2014 ~ Week 40

How blessed and privileged I am be able to share the restored gospel with this powerful, compassionate Sister missionary right here. She has such a beautiful testimony and light about her. We love sharing the gospel in St. Augustine!

 The mini 'Waters of Mormon' experience :) (Mosiah 18:8-16, 30).
Such a special day for these individuals who followed the example of Jesus Christ.

November 24, 2014 ~ Week 40

Hello, Hello family & friends!
Happy Thanks giving to you all.

We were invited to a home for dinner this past week and there were 7 of us. Two of the seven were deaf and four (including Sister Dixon) knew sign language so we had the neatest experience. Their names were Donald and Diane. Diane has been learning about the gospel. I sat beside Diane and she taught me sign language because I was one of the one's who didn't know any. She told me to watch and that I would be able to pick it up. She was right, and she was very patient with me. I wanted to share a scripture with them, but I wanted to sign it to them. It is one of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon. Jacob 3:2 "Oh all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm forever." I signed it to them, with their help and eventually did it on my own. Sign language is a very beautiful language.

I had the most beautiful experience yesterday as five people entered into the waters of baptism and are now members of the St. Augustine Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This experience reminded me of the 'waters of Mormon'. That record found in the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon is about a prophet named Alma who gained a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and taught it to as many as would learn and hearken to his words. And as many that wanted to follow the commandment from Jesus Christ to be baptized and enter into a covenant with God, were baptized in water by the prophet who held the authority. There were about 204 people who were baptized. What happened in St. Augustine Ward yesterday was like a mini 'waters of Mormon' experience.


I wanted to share a scripture that my sister actually shared with me this week-and what she said along with it.
Alma 37:36. It's just saying to always turn to the Lord, because he will be with us every step of the way to comfort us.
This was definitely something that I experienced this week. In all circumstances whether we are struggling, getting along just fine, or prospering--we are invited to turn to the Lord and He will give us an abundance of comfort. I learned something. If we choose not to pray, Heavenly Father can get along just fine without hearing us pray because He knows exactly how to help us without us asking Him. Will He be sad to not hear from His children? Of course, He will be devastated. Prayer is something that WE need. When our prayers are specific, we receive specific blessings. Our faith in Heavenly Father and what He can do for us will increase as we pray.

Take the time this week to express gratitude toward our Heavenly Father for all of the many things you are grateful for in your life. You will find that more and more things will be revealed to you in your mind that you are grateful for, that you didn't even think of, while you are praying.

Love, Sister McCook

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pictures from November 17, 2014

Congratulations to
Elizabeth who just got married and will be getting baptized in
December :)

We are grateful for talents! Sister Tice touches the lives of many around her with her many abilities. She created that beautiful turkey right there. When we use our talents to bless others, God magnifies them. (Matthew 25:23)

November 17, 2014 ~ Week 39

Good afternoon family and friends :)

I wanted to share with you a wonderful miracle that happened this week.

April, who is getting baptized this Sunday, November 23, was down to two swallows of coffee on Thursday when we went to visit her with a member. (Part of entering the covenant of baptism is living the health commandment given by the Lord called 'The Word of Wisdom'-which includes not drinking coffee) The member is a convert to the church. She was a huge coffee drinker before she was baptized, so much that her body had a constant tremor. When she was baptized, she quit-cold turkey. She gave her a few ideas on what helped her stop and even gave us something that she uses as a substitute, called Herbal tea dandelion to give to April. Well, it was Thursday night, we didn't know how we could help April any further besides calling upon the powers of heaven to fast on Friday that she would be given the strength to stop drinking coffee to be baptized and that she would be able to come to church because something that's non-excusable always prevents her from coming. We fasted. It was her birthday the next day and we wanted to give her something. We made cookies, had her favorite herbal tea, made a card, and gave her the coffee substitutes from the member. We quickly dropped the gift off to her unplanned as we had other obligations to get to, and sang her birthday songs from the primary songbook. 

She absolutely LOVED the coffee substitution and said she never wants to drink coffee ever again. She will be showered with blessings that are given to all who live the Word of Wisdom because she has chosen to give up drinking coffee in order to follow the Savior and be baptized in His name. All those who live the Word of Wisdom:
"shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones."
"shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures."
"shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint."

April and her two kids came to church yesterday. Her son Brice was going to be baptized with her but he wasn't committed as the weeks went on so he no longer had a baptism date. The youth just scooped Brice up and I could tell that he felt the Spirit at church. Later on in the evening way after church ended, April texts us "Brice asked me why he wasn't getting baptized and if he is when would his be?" 
Sister Dixon and I were of course thrilled to hear that he wants to be baptized! We told her the things he would need to do in order to be ready to enter in this covenant. She texted back "He said he would do what is required of him. He said his conscience is telling him it's the right thing to do." Oh how wonderful it will be that he is getting baptized on the same day as his mother. I know that's what God wanted and I'm glad that he followed the Spirit prompting him to be baptized.

I studied about covenants earlier this morning. A covenant is a powerful, binding, sacred promise between God and each of His children individually who commit to obey Him. It means that we love the Lord so much that we are willing to change aspects of our lives in order to be inline with Heavenly Father's will, follow the Savior, and keep our part of the promise to stand as a witness, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. Baptism is our first covenant we make with Heavenly Father. It literally represents the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. We are cleansed and everything, if repented of, will be washed away-the old life is done away, erased. It is pure and complete bliss because each person who enters into this covenant of baptism is walking in the Savior's footsteps.

Love, Sister McCook

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 10, 2014 pictures

 A turtle that we found in our apartment complex :)

Me with my second companion, Sister Ashcraft, at
her last zone conference.

November 10, 2014 ~ Week 38

Hello family & friends!

I am not quite sure of how I feel about my last day being a teenager, but it is definitely great.  I was just sharing with my dad this, 'How often do you get to be a full-time, set apart ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ, declaring the message of the restored gospel on your birthday?  Best knowledge ever.' I only get one birthday as a full-time missionary!

I must share with you an experience that a mother of a family that we are working with, had when she prayed and asked Heavenly Father if Joseph Smith was chosen to be the prophet that Christ would restore the fullness and entirety of His church through.  Her name is Wendy. 

She said:

"Well, I prayed and asked God if it was true. (she waited a minute for her answer) The Spirit then said, 'what do you think?'. She said, well I think that it's true. The Spirit told her, 'you're right'."  What a
beautiful, yet simple experience that this young mother had because she sincerely prayed and asked Heavenly Father about this.  She really wanted to know in her heart that this is true and because of that, she was ready to receive her answer.  I encourage each of you to ask for a confirmation and a reconfirmation of this truth, because I know that every time that I do that, my testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel is strengthened and grounded as well as that Joseph Smith was able to be an instrument in God's hands to bring about the most prominent, profound blessing that I and millions could ever have to enjoy here and in eternity.  This can be applied to know in your mind and heart any truth.

I have been truly pondering and have been so amazed by the example of these faithful members in the St. Augustine ward who make a 50 mile round trip to church each Sunday.  The amount of blessings they are receiving because they are making that trip.  Their example and the blessings that they are receiving correlated with a few verses in the Book of Mormon that I read.  Jesus Christ is speaking in terms of
putting the gospel first in our lives no matter what the circumstances may be.

"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat?  or, What shall we drink?  or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all
these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof."  3 Nephi 13:30-34 Faith brings about mighty miracles. Heavenly Father will ALWAYS provide us with what we need if we put Him first. One blessing I know that these members are being blessed with is extra gas money.  What are we willing to do to consecrate ourselves to the building up of the kingdom of God?  I often ponder on that question.

Another thing that I am learning is working with some lovely daylight savings time ending.  It is completely dark at about 6:15.  I never have been involved with daylight savings time due to Arizona being the only
normal state that doesn't change time with the seasons.  I will say that God is blessing us because we can knock on any door at any time between those dark hours and they are incredibly sweet to us.

Pray for an opportunity to share with someone what you most treasure about the gospel.  If you have real intent, God will place someone in your path because He trusts that you will talk to them.

Love, Sister McCook

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Trunk or Treat 2014

November 3, 2014 ~ Week 37

Hello Family & Friends and Happy November!

This week was so amazing as usual!  There is no week that goes by where there aren't the best adventures of my entire life.  Sometimes I feel like I want to relive every adventure I have, but then there would be no room for even better adventures to happen. Looking forward is the best thing!

Some pretty neat experiences:

The Dance Story :)

On Wednesday afternoon, Sister Dixon and I were praying about where we should go, we had many names come to mind but we wanted to be exactly where God needed us.  Sister Dixon received revelation to visit a woman named Ginny after we visited the family I thought of and I had received revelation to visit a family we have not met before.  We typed in the address to the GPS and found out this family lived four miles away.  I almost hesitated about going for a second because of how far it was and miles limitations, but then I remembered that we biked for a straight nine days and had EXTRA EXTRA miles because of that.  Also, Heavenly Father definitely knew that we had extra miles and so I could not turn away from the revelation I had received.  So we drove to this home and the parents of the family opened the door.  They were actually attending a Spanish speaking Ward in Jacksonville, but they lived in that home and were watching their grandchildren while the parents were out.  They want us to teach their daughter and grandchildren as well as their friends who live close by.  That was a miracle.  Not only that, I was asking Tammy about her family.  Two of her granddaughters are dancers and attended Center Stage dance studio in Utah before they moved here. She showed me pictures of her granddaughters doing amazing things.  My sister had emailed me a picture last week of her doing a jump on the beach and it was exactly like Tammy's granddaughter so she was very excited to see that when I showed her!  Not only that, they are New York City Dance Alliance dancers!  Which means at some point in my dance career in my teenage years, I must have met them without knowing it in New York City! Whoa!  I can't wait to meet them.  That was a neat connection I was able to have.  Haven't met many dancers down here!


One of my main focuses and the mission's focus is finding families.  Because I know for myself how much the restored gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families eternally.  I know this, because it has and will bless my family eternally.  Through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, 'families can be together forever' and that is why I am out here serving my mission.  To reveal to families, the blessings that Heavenly Father has waiting for them that will bring them true and everlasting joy.  In order to find families, Sister Dixon and I have committed to talking to everyone.  I will admit that sometimes fear or doubt comes across my mind when I am out, so in order to conquer that, I came up with a simple phrase that brings me peace every time before I talk to someone, 'No Fear'.  I can't even explain enough what a difference that makes. And this can be applied to everyone, not just the full-time missionaries.  For example, we were driving to a lesson we had.  We drove into the apartment complex and noticed there was a deaf family outside.  I literally stopped the car in the middle of the road because the Spirit was urging me and Sister Dixon strongly to talk to them.  Sister Dixon is the one who can sign, I wish I knew some.  She was a little nervous because she only knows some.  I told her that she would be blessed with the gift of tongues and she was so confident! I love it.  We said together, 'NO FEAR' this is how we are going to find families!  We didn't want to miss them, so we went and parked in front of our investigator's building, prayed mightily, and ran about five hundred feet just to go talk to them.  They are completely interested and Sister Dixon was blessed with the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues.  It was so neat to watch!  We found a family!  Remember 'No Fear'.

My studies in the Book of Mormon on Saturday were some of my favorites. I was in 3 Nephi 8.  Where Jesus Christ is about to appear to the people living in the ancient Americas.  Before He appears, there are signs and prophecies from the prophets coming to pass.  (During the time of Christ's death).  One of which many cities were being destroyed because they refused to repent and rejected the prophets.  One city was burned, another was overcome by the sea, and another became a mountain.  It was very dark in the land, so dark that they couldn't even see a torch that was lit.  There were earthquakes, thundering, lightening, etc. you can imagine what some of these people were feeling.  I wanted to point out something specific--This is what was recorded about all of these things that happened: '...for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours..' (3 Nephi 8:19).  I really pondered about that verse for a few minutes.  This can be likened to all trials.  Sometimes, to us, trials last forever, almost as if they will never end.  But Heavenly Father knows what we can endure.  In the moment, it feels like they will never end but when we surpass them and look back on how we grew, and what Heavenly Father was trying to teach us, it's as if the adversity was just the snap of a fingers.  It's a beautiful thing although the pain and hardship can seem too much to bear.  If only we constantly come unto Christ and accept His help, we can overcome ALL things through Him.  I love the Lord and I know He loves you and I.

I love all of you.
Love, Sister McCook