Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 23, 2014 ~ Week 44

Hello family & friends
and a Merry Christmas to all!!

This week was such a fantastic week.  We have been trying every home that has Christmas lights up and sharing the gospel with them.  People over here really respond well to the 'He Is the Gift' initiative.  We are so blessed to be able to use it to introduce the Restoration to people.

This week started off with a tradeoff that I went on with my Sister Training Leader who is serving over in Jullington Creek. I went over there for a day and had a wonderful dinner with the Bishop's family as well as we found three families to teach the gospel to. It really was a miracle night down in Jullington Creek, there are more non-receptive people there but there are also many people who are very ready to listen to the gospel.  We had so much fun that day.
In addition, we had our annual mission Christmas devotional up in Jacksonville so we had a very nice long drive up and back. Each Zone did a skit.  Our Zone did a 'Mock Zone Meeting'.  We hold zone meetings every month where we give trainings to one another and set goals.  My 'training' was with a Sister and we did ballet.  It was so very fun!   We had such a wonderful feast and then following, had a devotional.  During the Christmas devotional, there were 
readings from Luke 2, 1 Nephi 11, etc. along with special musical numbers.  The Spirit was very powerful there.  I was caught in a tender moment as I was sitting there pondering on the words that were spoken.  I had been feeling a little sad because I would be missing my family's Christmas tradition for the first time ever that has been held for years. I realized that this was my family's tradition. Exactly like it.  

We have so much fun but we also have a time to reflect and build our testimonies of Jesus Christ together.  This year it was with my mission family.

(I had also received the most special letters of my mission from my parents.  I cried.  I wanted to comment about them on our phone call, but here is fine too :) I loved them.  Every word that was said meant so much to me.  Dad your Christmas journal entries made me cry, that was so special)
The St. Augustine Ward also had such a beautiful Christmas devotional during Sacrament meeting.  I love the gospel and I love my Savior.  He is the greatest gift that I could have---It will never be stolen or taken away from me, It will never brake, It will never wear away...and the same is for you.  I hope that all of you recognize how special you are to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  Think and ponder on the
Savior's birth these next few days and you will truly feel a special Spirit. 

I wrote down many references to prophesies of the Jesus' birth:

Genesis 3:15, Numbers 24:17, Psalm 24:10, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, 2 Nephi 17:14, Isaiah 9:6, 2 Nephi 19:6, 
Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:6, Matthew 1:21, Luke 1-2, John 1:45, John 6:14, John 7:42, Acts 3:24, 1 Nephi 11:18, 
2 Nephi 25:19, Mosiah 3:8, Mosiah 13:33, Alma 7:10-15, Helaman 5:9, Helaman 8:22, Helaman 14:2, 3 Nephi 9:16

"Give' said the little stream"Love, Sister McCook

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 15, 2014 ~ Pictures

As you can tell, there is a snake around Sister Dixon's neck. That is
Brice's snake, 'rope'. He loves that pet, he got it for Christmas. It
goes with him everywhere.

I will find this when I go home so I can have it! Angel Moroni is my favorite :)

It was a member baptism, but the family asked Sister Dixon and I to
teach little Roselina the missionary lessons :) she is a very bright
young lady and she even played the piano at her own baptism!

December 15, 2014 ~ Week 43

Hello family & friends!

I wanted to share with you what I shared with the St. Augustine Ward during sacrament meeting yesterday, as Sister Dixon and I were assigned to give talks. This is just my outline but I thought you would all enjoy it!

Share- a part or portion of a larger amount that is divided among a number of people, or to which a number of people contribute; an instance of posting or reposting something on a social media website or application
Sharing involves two or more subjects, it isn't an individual ordeal, but rather one giving to another. As we are focusing on giving this Christmas season, there is a gift that we can give that doesn't require money, high standing, prosperity, wealth. It's a gift that's free: sharing our love and testimonies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the greatest, most rich gift that surpasses any other gift with a dollar sign.

"As we share the gift, we follow in the Master's footsteps, who invited all to hear His message. May we find greater holiness in our own lives and share the gift with others this Christmas season." -Elder Russell M. Nelson

Alma 13:24 "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory."

What better way to Share the Gift, than to share experiences with sharing the gift!
Experiences---people that we have found, using 'He is the gift'
-Officer Ken Carver-
One of my favorite experiences with inviting others to view He Is the Gift was when Sister Dixon and I were walking down Richie St. in the southern most part of the St. Augustine Ward area, on Friday late afternoon. We saw a police car up ahead at the end of the street and it looked like the cop was on duty doing some serious work. As we got up closer, I turned to Sister Dixon and said, 'Are we allowed to share the gospel with cops on duty?' We really didn't know, so what did we do? We walked right up to that cop and talked to him about what 'He Is the Gift' is all about and invited him to watch it. He asked for the pass along card since he couldn't watch it right then and there and wrote our names down. Later that evening when we were driving home, to our surprise Officer Ken texted us and told us how much he enjoyed the video and that he is going to share it with others. He said that every person needed to view this video. Although he did not accept to listen to the message of the Restoration, the Spirit touched His heart in a way that he will not forget in this Christmas season.
-Jennifer & Sean family-
Another favorite experience of mine comes from Saturday. We were driving down SR-16 on our way to a member's home, and while we got in the turning lane, we saw a cute little mom walking with her three kids on the sidewalk. I was debating on whether to keep driving on to the destination, but then thought, No! This is a family. We need to talk to the them. After turning, we pulled off the side of the road into the grass, got out and ran/walked really fast until we caught up with this family to share the video with the children. They accepted to hear more about Restoration this upcoming week.

The best part about all of this is that you can have fun with Sharing the Gift, whether people accept hearing more or not. People love the Savior and it's the Spirit of Christmas that's most important that they feel more than anything. You don't have to talk to complete strangers if you don't feel inspired, but come up with ways to share the gift in a fun way with your friends.

-have a family home evening-pictures.
-if you're sending out Christmas cards, put a 'He Is the Gift' pass along card in with the envelope. If you need pass along cards, 'Ask the Missionaries, they can help you!'
-go Christmas caroling with your family and share the 'He Is the Gift' video.
Prayerfully ponder ways to #ShareTheGift leading up to Christmas.

"I invite each of us to flood the earth with the messages of righteousness and truth found in the He Is The Gift using the hashtag #ShareTheGift, we can sweep the earth with timeless--and timely--messages of the Savior Jesus Christ." -Elder David A. Bednar

#ShareTheGift is the most beautiful transition to inviting others to hear the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I have never seen so many people more open to hearing this message than before  He Is the Gift was released. Like Alma said, Angels are preparing the hearts of children to listen to the restored gospel. People are more turned to their Savior during this time, than any other time in the year besides the Easter season. Let us share the light that we have with others, that they may more fully enjoy the Spirit of Christ in Christmas this season and forever.

I love the Savior so much and His gospel brings me the most exquisite joy. 

Love, Sister McCook

December 9, 2014 ~ Pictures

Jason, one of my recent converts received the Aaronic
priesthood this past Sunday :)

I picked up playing the piano again, I had the chance to play the piano in our district meeting.
Praise to the Man and Come Follow Me :)

There were over 100+ nativities from different Christmas cultures and even a live nativity with donkeys!

St. Augustine lighthouse-luminaries

 It was so foggy that night so the light coming from the lighthouse
made it look as if there was a roof above us. It was neat.

December 9, 2014 ~ Week 42

Hello Family & Friends!!

So I am officially staying in the St. Augustine ward for the next six weeks with Sister Dixon and I am so very excited for that!  We are in such a blessed area and plus I get to still serve with my best friend!

We had some wonderful opportunities this week to serve, serve, and serve more.  It was the best thing ever.  With many teaching opportunities from it as well.  We were doing service for April, who recently just got baptized, and we began teaching her the first lesson again with a member and she ended up teaching us and the member the lesson and her experiences.  Anyone and everyone can be a missionary.

I just finished reading the Book of Mormon again on my mission for the second time.  As I took Moroni's challenge (Moroni 10:3-5) and prayed about the Book of Mormon and what I have been reading for the past 51/2 months.  I again received a powerful witness of the truth and
divinity of this Book.  I mentioned a long time ago that I was studying the Book of Mormon for the purpose of understanding God's love for me.  Words cannot describe how changed I am and the perspective that I have for God's love for me. I know that He loves me so much.  And because I know that, I know that He loves ALL of His children unconditionally.  As I was pondering on the last few verses of the Book of Mormon.  I thought last and for all, 'what does Heavenly Father want me to know
most about His love for me?'  Then it came to me....God loves me because He gave me His Son, Jesus Christ.  My love for Heavenly Father can be expressed most prominently by obeying His Son.  Using Christ's Atonement to be perfected in Him.  To help others know of His power from the Atonement and give them the opportunity to be perfected in Him.  This is my joy.

Not only that, but April and 
I decided to do a Book of Mormon challenge.  To read it all the way through by a certain date.  I had her pick the date.  It would be her first time reading it through cover to cover.  She picked January 31.  I am thrilled to do this 7 week read!  We began on Sunday.  April is actually helping me to achieve my mission goal of reading the Book of Mormon four times.

Sister Dixon and I had a unique opportunity to go to the St. Augustine lighthouse this past Wednesday with the youth of our ward.  We ended up meeting many members from other wards and challenging them to hand out 'He is the gift' cards to someone at the lighthouse by the end of the night.  They were all go-getters for doing it! It was such a neat experience.  Who doesn't love the Spirit of Christmas?  There are so many ways to share the gospel.  Christmas is one of the perfect times to share because almost everyone's thoughts are centered on the Savior.

He is the Gift.

Love, Sister McCook

Sent from my iPad

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 1, 2014 ~ Thanksgiving activity pictures

The city of St. Augustine gives thanks! This was off of the corner of St. George st. and Cathedral. In the end, over 150 people came and wrote on a leaf-one thing that they were grateful for.

December 1, 2014 ~ Week 41

Hello family & friends.

I sure do hope that you had a wonderful thanksgiving. A time to reflect upon the many blessings that Heavenly Father has showered upon us, and still continues to shower upon us.

Thanksgiving was truly the best.  
Wow.  What more can I say? 

was pondering on how we can use the popular downtown St. Augustine to find people during the holidays.  People from all over the world come here to visit, hence the amazing history of this place being the first to hold thanksgiving.  Sister Dixon and I put together probably the most effective finding activity that the Spirit put into our minds.  With permission from the city of St. Augustine, we were able to display a tree drawn out on a poster display board and invite the public to come up and write on a leaf one thing they were grateful for to invite the Spirit of Thanksgiving, and tape it on the tree.  In turn, they would receive a special card with the link directing them to the 'He is the Gift' video (which is the best video EVER!!:)) and a trend to look up on facebook to see the ending picture. #StAugustineGivesThanks It had a wonderful turn out, in less than two hours; over 150 people came up and participated in this activity.  There is no better way that I could have spent my Thanksgiving, than by helping others to remember the things they are grateful for and treasure them.  Besides the fantastic food, that is what it's all about.

About the 'He is the gift' video.  
On there is a beautiful video about the true meaning of Christmas.  The ultimate gift that God has given us is His Son, Jesus Christ.  This video helps us to remember that and to also share this wonderful gift with others who can also feel of the Christmas Spirit.  One of the best ways to discover the gift is by sharing it.  I would invite you to share this video with others and remind them how much God loves them this Christmas season.  Share your testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how you have been changed.

One scripture that I read goes along with this beautiful message
 'He is the Gift'.  "And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness." (Ether 6:3) it is because of the Savior that we are able to have light to help us get through the darkness of this world.  He is the everlasting light and the Prince of Peace.  If we only choose to come unto Him.

Come unto Christ.  Invite others to come unto Christ. 
Increase your light through prayer, scripture study, family home evening, temple attendance. Share your light with others. 

Love, Sister McCook