Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 26, 2015 ~ Week 49 (4th week Arlington)

Week 4 Arlington

The highlights of this week were that we were able to invite someone to be baptized almost every day. We applied the challenge and blessing given to us by Elder Andersen that if we pray for the opportunity to invite some to be baptized everyday, then God will give us the opportunity. These were the experiences!

1. Marcus. We knocked on his door trying to contact someone named Rahshida. Turns out that she actually moved out awhile back so we taught Marcus! He has a cute five year old daughter named McKenzie. We taught him twice and then invited him to be baptized. And he is ready for February 28!

2. Alyssa. Sister Aure and I were on a tradeoff. I stayed here in Arlington and we had to fill up the gas tank. Well, we saw a woman filling the gas tank right next to us and so we talked with her. Taught her the Restoration. We came back just on Tuesday night last week and read  the Book of Mormon. She loved the footnotes that she could use to connect to the Bible. She wants to be baptized on her birthday on February 22!

3. Josiah. He actually lives in Madagascar and he found me on Facebook. He is so excited to keep learning that he actually asked if we could bring our church to Madagascar. So grateful for the blessing of the Church being worldwide, that there is already one there! So he is working towards baptism as well!

4. DeAndra. We knocked on her door and her parents don't mind us teaching her. She is actually a junior in high school who is just searching for truth and a church to go to. We are excited to bring the young women to come teach with us this upcoming week and DeAndra wants to pick her own date to be baptized!

5. Manny. We were told by other missionaries to go teach him because he wanted to meet with them in his office, but his office was in our area, so we brought a member along and taught him our unique message of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. He read the Book of Mormon in three weeks time and said that if he prayed and asked God if the Book of Mormon is true and our teachings were true, then he would have no choice but to join the Church. So we found out he actually lives in the area right next to us. The Sisters went to teach him this past Saturday and he will be baptized on February 21!
There are miracles happening all over.

This talk/announcement was all over my mind yesterday as I was sitting in Sacrament meeting and throughout the rest of the hours of Church: by the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. The first talk that he gave to welcome us to conference in October 2012. I downloaded the video recording of it so I could listen to it whenever I wanted to. As I was listening to it, I thought about how wonderful it is for every missionary preparing or out in the field right now, but in particular how special it is to my brother and I. This is what it talks about. How we are a temple building people. At the time in 2012, we had 139 temples open with 27 under construction. President Monson announced that a temple would be built in Tucson, AZ and in Arequipa, Peru. Where we are from, and where currently my brother is serving the Lord. It also announced the age change of missionary service for both young men and young women. As I was listening to the prophet of God say this, "As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21." I could not help but be filled with the Spirit and burst into tears without fail every time a played this on repeat. It is a consistent reaffirmation of my call to serve given to me by a prophet of God, coming directly from the Lord. I love being a missionary. And if I could persuade every young women in the entire world to serve a mission, that would be my greatest yearning. What a privilege it is to be a Sister Missionary right now.

Love, Sister McCook

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 20, 2015 ~ Week 48 (3rd week Arlington)

Week 3 Arlington

Dear Family & Friends,
This week was the best week ever!

Here is my favorite miracle of the week. We were over in this apartment complex on Saturday afternoon, we felt bad after leaving it because we didn't talk to this man who had a comb just stuck in his afro. We prayed and repented and I assured us both that God would place him in our path again because I have a testimony of that. Well, at about 7:30 at night we went back to the same apartment complex. We were trying all of our investigators from our teaching pool that live in this complex for follow up. They just weren't home. Sister Murray had told me of this Golden family who were dropped a few months back just because they wouldn't hold to an appointment even though they were interested. They just couldn't get out of my mind. We went to the car to try this family and all of a sudden the fire alarm sounds off in the apartment building we were going to. We tried the family and they weren't home. By this time, the alarm was still sounding off. We saw this man walking and called him over to us to ask him what was going on. His name is David and he said it was a false alarm. Well, it transitioned beautifully into us teaching the Restoration with this fire alarm still sounding off as loud as can be and ringing in our ears. Sure enough after we were talking about Joseph Smith, his brother comes walking up. It was the man with the comb in his afro! His name is Shawn and it actually is David's brother, he too listened in and is interested. How neat. Can we just reflect for a second how divine God's hand was in this? Shawn found us and we were also able to teach his brother David, whom we could not have met before earlier in the afternoon. I love miracles.

We had our special conference with Elder Neil L. Andersen in Lake City last Wednesday. It was similar to the one with Elder Christofferson. We shook his hand :) He thoroughly discussed Ether 12 about the principle of faith concerning our mission baptism goal. He left his blessing upon us and said that he will be here at the same time next year to celebrate this achieved goal with us. He also went into deeper detail and discussion about his General Conference talk that he gave in October, 'Joseph Smith'. Closed with a powerful testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was the fastest 3 hour meeting of my life.
"Faith is the spiritual power to see things that shouldn't happen, happen." There really is an unseen world (as Elder Andersen put it) who assists us daily in this work.
I admire Sister Andersen as she testified of the reality of her husband being an Apostle of the Lord and testified of D&C 1:38 coming to past today. My testimony of that strengthened. She is also a scriptorian. She is soft-spoken, but bold and powerful. I love her!
Of course, Elder Andersen added some humor. "We'll sleep when we're dead." As we were discussing the life of an ambassador of the Lord.
I'll close that with saying how amazed I was that I had so many questions that I didn't know I had, answered. God knows my heart and my yearnings.
He also mentioned that he visited Peru in Elder McCook's mission last year and he even told us a story of when he visited the Arizona Tucson mission last year. That was very special to me.
I had a personal revelatory experience in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 25:10-11
This is very interesting...when we "think of the immediate goodness of God", and His hand in every aspect of our lives, we can be filled with joy constantly. It's like what Elder Andersen said to us a few days ago..when we think negatively and down upon ourselves and fill our minds with awful hopelessness, we are "filled with pain and anguish".

It is a choice.

Love, Sister McCook

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 5, 2015 ~ New Year

New area, new assignment, new companion, NEW YEAR! :)

January 12, 2015 ~ Serving

Grandma Williams had fun serving with us on Tuesday! 31 extra large
bags of leaves. She served in the FJM back in 1995 as a Senior couple.
A third of her family makes up the Arlington Ward.

January 12, 2015 ~ Week 47 (2nd week Arlington)

Week 2 Arlington

Hello Family & Friends!
Every week just seems to be getting better and better.
This week we had a Zone meeting.  There were 22 missionaries gathered together--we are called the Jax East Zone.  My companion Sister Murray, two Elders, and I are assigned to give training's to these 22 missionaries once a month because of the leadership positions we are in.  So this one was my first training ever in front of this many missionaries.  And President Craig attended!  I chose to give training on "Opening your mouth and talking with everyone: about the gospel."  I was so excited to give this training!  President Craig has counseled us that our mission must become a finding mission.  It is true because how are we going to invite people to baptism when we have no one to teach?  I was so excited to give this training to share how we can be better at talking with everyone.  That in it of itself was a nature that was hard for me to develop, but as I was able to set goals and have many trial and error situations, as well as diligent study and love of the gospel.  My confidence grew.  That process will help anyone.  My first training was great! There was so much participation and we feel like the missionaries were inspired and enabled...the only thing was that because I took the lead in the role-plays, my training ended up being 45 minutes long!!! We as leaders laughed about it in the end as we discussed it…There is always something to learn.
In addition to this wonderful zone meeting, Sister Murray and I received a text from Church Head Quarters saying that we needed to go visit this man named Antonio because he requested a Bible and we were suppose to deliver it to him.  With the Bible and the Book of Mormon hand in hand, we knocked on his door.  He lives with his sister, Nygia and she has five kids-Christopher, DaShanna, David, Kenyotta, and little Zion.  They invited us in and accepted to listen to our message, the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We invited them to be baptized and they have accepted this invitation.  Antonio, Nygia, and the three kids who are baptism age-Christopher, DaShanna, and David, will be baptized on February 14.  What a privilege and a blessing to see a family be baptized.  All it took was an invitation and the Spirit did the rest.  It's amazing to me how simple it is to invite and then share, because once the invitation is extended, that's half of the duty of missionary work.  So excited to be working with yet another family!
Tuesday was wonderful because this is how our service project went.  The Elders went to a members home, Justine & Sherrie and asked if they could borrow some rakes.  We then began raking and sweeping their front yard.  Six of us plus Grandma Williams because she wanted to serve :) it wasn't until about half way through that Justin and Sherrie realized what we had done. It's called a secret act of service.  Keep your eyes out this week for an opportunity to serve someone.  Whether it's a large project or something as simple as asking a stranger how their day is going.  I promise you will be filled with happiness and joy as did the Savior when he went about doing His Father's will.

Grandma Williams had fun serving with us on Tuesday! 31 extra large
bags of leaves. She served in the FJM back in 1995 as a Senior couple.
A third of her family makes up the Arlington Ward.

My mind is caught up on a certain scripture that applies to what my companion, Sister Murray is like.  2 Nephi 4:16 "Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard."  She is just an absolutely amazing advocate of the truth.  Her testimony of the Book of Mormon is so powerful and pure.  I love to serve with her.
This is my greatest joy.  To have this black name tag with the Lord Jesus Christ's name on it, pinned on my shoulder every day.

Love, Sister McCook

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 5, 2015 ~ Week 46 (1st week Arlington)

1st week Arlington

All I can say  So much has happened this week. With the assignment to be a Sister Training Leader, it's like a whole new world in the missionary life. My eyes have been opened to how aware a Sister Training Leader is of her missionaries and zone.  It is so interesting and I am learning so much.  It has also made me completely exhausted to the point that I actually sleep through the whole night.  Only in Arlington has that happened ha-ha.

I went on my first tradeoff with a Sister on Friday.  Inspiration led me to stay in Arlington with one of the Sisters who's been out for 16 1/2 months.  Soooooo my fourth day in the area.  It was fun :)  I'll have to say, I learned the area pretty quickly.  I'm surprised; I know that God is blessing me with this gift.  Something I am learning about being a leader is the correction aspect.  No more beating around the bush....ha-ha.  I'm not afraid to address anything, just telling them 100% without beating around the bush to get there is what I'm learning.  Role plays have helped out A LOT.  I have to do iPad checks now and also check area books.  I didn't expect so many corrections to have to bring up to missionaries, but there are many.  I'm nowhere near perfect, I'm grateful for Kember (Sister Call) for training me on every aspect of obedience, I can see the difference.

MLC on Wednesday was AMAZING.  It stands for Mission Leadership Committee.  It was so wonderful to be around so many amazing missionaries and learning with them.  I wasn't overwhelmed or anything, it was like another zone conference.  Nice little perk :) setting the mission goals for the next year was so neat.  There was an experience where we were all deciding on what the mission baptism goal should be.  It was pretty divided.  President had us all say a personal prayer.  And when he asked what we felt, it was a unanimous decision. That was a testimony builder to me, how much Heavenly Father is truly in charge of this work.  The goal is 600.  Oh please pray for me, President Craig is coming to our Zone meeting this week and is watching me give a training!!!  Ahhhhhhh that is scary...a little bit.  I'm not too worried about it.  I'm giving it on 'Opening your mouth and talking WITH everyone: about the gospel'.  I am so excited to do this, because once that aspect becomes part of your nature, your faith becomes dormant.

Oh, all I can say is that I just enjoy life SOOOOOOOO much!  I love being a missionary.  This terrible realization is starting to be all over my mind that I am not going to be a missionary forever.  Today is my 11 month mark.  How did that happen?  It's almost a year.  Life is going by too quickly

I am loving Arlington already!  The members here are amazing, all they need to know is the 'how' of sharing the gospel, and they will be wonderful.

One of my favorite 'AHA' moments ever.  (Thought you would enjoy this personal revelatory experience).  It comes from Mosiah 2:6 if you want to go read that first and then read the following:

It's no accident that the temple was the place that was chosen for everyone to gather and meet up at.  We don't have any idea what kind of spiritual level these families were at other than the majority of them were righteous in keeping the commandments (Mosiah 1:11)...but Mosiah gathered every person he could find in the land of Zarahemla.  Those families all gathered around the temple.  What a sweet reminder of the eternal perspective of temples & eternal families, a goal for those who have fallen away.

I love you so much!

Sister McCook

New area, new assignment, new companion, NEW YEAR! :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

December 29, 2014 ~Pictures

My family of four got baptized yesterday. (December 28, 2014)  Most special day of my life.
The colors we are wearing are in honor of this family and of the
pathway to eternal life that they are on.
Pink- Aidan's favorite color
Purple- Ron's favorite color
Green- Wendy and Micayla's favorite color

My condo is huge.. I have my own bathroom and walk-in closet.

 I am serving in Arlington in the Jax East Stake with Sister Murray! (12/29/14)

December 29, 2014 ~ Week 45

Hello Family & Friends!

Well, my time in St. Augustine has come to a close.  Half way through the transfer, the Lord has called me another way.  As of 6 hours ago, I am now serving in Arlington with Sister Murray from Logan, Utah!  Don't mind the exercise clothes, we were playing volleyball with a ton of missionaries.  It was so fun!

I don't know what to say other than this past week was the best week ever.  Since we couldn't really drive our car much, we went biking.  Our Christmas morning went somewhat like this.  From being exhausted the night before and forgetting to set my alarm, we woke up at 6:55 just in time to start getting ready.  It was a tender mercy in a way just because we were SO tired.  We opened up gifts sent home to us from our families.  We studied, and then were off to biking.  The family, whom just got baptized yesterday, received a very special gift from us.  Sister Dixon had a scripture carrying case and I had a quad.  The scriptures that my parents gave to me when I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I gave to this family.  That is how special they are to me.  They were filled with joy, as my heart was too.  This was my gift to them since they were getting baptized this Sunday.  They love the scriptures and they love feasting upon the words of Christ.  In addition, we continued to bike on talking to as many people as we could on Christmas.  Everyone was so happy and desired to learn more. It was a joyous day.  When the evening came, we went to the members home that we were going to eat dinner and FaceTime our families.  We show up, and the times with everyone got confused, and the dinner was not ready yet.  Even though it was an hour and a half before we were suppose to talk to our parents, I thought, let's just talk to them now.  The member called my dad (I could hear his voice on the other side of the phone which made me cry) and I ended up talking to my family 20 minutes later.  

It all worked out.  My parents gave me the greatest gift that I have ever received on Christmas.  They surprised me with a video recording of Elder McCook wishing me a Merry Christmas.  I screamed and cried so much that my dad had to start the video recording over so I could hear him.  They don't even know this but I was sad that I wouldn't be able to talk to my brother on Christmas, and they gave me this. 

That's the one thing out of many I learned this Christmas as I spent it away from home for the very first time.  The Christlike attribute of giving.  It really isn't all about the monetary gifts, though those are nice and most everyone loves those gifts.  But think about the Savior, He didn't have any money, but He loved.  He healed.  He served.  He taught.  He shared.....etc. that filled and overflowed any cup that was empty. Dinner was Cafe Rio in the home.  Oh it was soooo good.  We ended our Christmas with caroling around the neighborhood with 6 other missionaries.

The family---Wendy, Ron, Aidan, and Micayla were baptized yesterday.  Wow.  Can I just say how beautiful it was.  

It is amazing to see the transformation that has taken place in this family from the day we met them October 8, all the way until this day.  We fought the battle together, Wendy and Ron gave up smoking---Sister Dixon and I gave up sugar.  (Literally there was a pile sitting underneath our Christmas tree, of all of these goodies given to us from our families and our Ward).  They did it. And I was able to witness their faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ working
mighty miracles in them.  There is no greater joy than helping a family enter into the waters of baptism and I can't wait to take them to the temple in a year. They are amazing, if only you all could meet them today.

If you would like to write me, please use this address :)

8291 Dames Point Crossing Blvd North #2201
Jacksonville, FL 32277

Thank you to all of my home Ward back home, who sent me Christmas
cards and updates of their families. That meant so much to me.

Love, Sister McCook