Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 ~ Week 58 (Week 4 Mandarin 1st Ward)

Hello family & friends!

Looking back on this week, I would have to say that it was themed after President Eyring's talk that he gave at the General Women's
Conference this past Saturday.  It was all about honoring our covenants as disciples of Jesus Christ: mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort.  It was interesting as not only I was able to comfort many people, but I too was in need of comfort.  Even if we don't know exactly what someone else is going through, the Savior knows perfectly what they are going through and so we can pray for that help to comfort as He would.  It's amazing who we can become as we think and act in the ways of Christ.  We show the Savior that we love Him when we help others along the way.

I sure did love the Women's Conference, especially the theme of it 'The Family is of God'.  I had a very tender moment as I was watching the choir sing after the second talk.  As you all may know, this was my final General Women's Conference in the mission field because I won't
be here in October.  I listened to all of those women sing and it was so beautiful.  They were dressed in an Easter type of attire.  Bright and happy colors.  There was something different though and it hit me.  They didn't have the black name tags on.  Uncontrollable tears streamed
down my face.  I never looked at that in that way in previous times that this is seriously a very short time that I have to serve.  I realized how much I cherish wearing this black name tag with the Savior's name right with mine more than anything.  It was a very spiritual experience for me to really realize that it truly is such an honor to be a representative of Jesus Christ.  And I don't want to let any opportunity pass by to share the truth of this gospel.

I am super excited to be able to watch General Conference this Saturday and Sunday.  It seems like yesterday that the October Conference was happening.  We can treasure the words that the prophet, apostles, and other church leaders speak because they are as important as the scriptures. I know that Jesus Christ is at the head of His Church.  I know that there is a prophet on the Earth today who was chosen to testify of Jesus Christ and help our families return to live with Him again.  His name is President Thomas S. Monson.  I know that the counsel that he will share, comes from God. Enjoy!

Love, Sister McCook

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 23, 2015 ~ Week 57 ~ Pictures (Week 3 Mandarin 1st Ward)

Look who it is!  Went by to surprise Cyndi today at her work!  It has been six months since I have seen her.  I totally cried!  And she

happens to work in Mandarin.  She is one that I worked with in Fleming Island.  And guess what?!  She is going to the temple in May! Happiness to my heart.

Went to lunch with President and Sister Craig today at Larry's giant
subs. So fun!

March 23, 2015 ~ Week 57 (Week 3 Mandarin 1st Ward)

Hello Family & Friends! I am going to try and make up for last week since the letter wasn't that long.

Can I just express how grateful I am to be serving with my best friend?  There are not enough words to adequately describe what it is like to share the gospel with my best friend Sister Kloepfer. Wow.  We find joy in sharing the gospel in every detail.  We have fun, while establishing our purposes as missionaries.  We exceeded our weekly key indicator goals.  We work with each other in talking with everyone and balance each other out.  The Ward sees that we are best friends, yet we are dignified and when we go into their homes sharing 7 minute pamphlet lessons for our spiritual thought, they comment how well we teach with one another and they give us solid referrals to teach.  We received 6 referrals this week!  It's not like they were handed out like candy, we had to gain their trust by showing them we love the gospel and love the Savior.  They are not afraid to bring us with to introduce us to their friends.  I want to be like that when I return.

This week was the most miraculous week of my mission.  But it was different this week.  I learned a very important lesson from this miracle I'm about to share.  On Friday, we were driving out of our apartment complex.  The timing to this was just perfect.  While driving, in the opposite direction I saw a vehicle with a U of A license plate. I couldn't believe my eyes; I turned around to find that the license plate on the back was Arizona.  I excitedly told Sister Kloepfer to turn around the car; we needed to go talk with them!  So she quickly turned around and we followed this vehicle (it might sound crazy but it was so worth it)!  It was just a five minute drive.  We turn to the street they live and she pulled into her drive way.  We parked just a little ahead and get out.  This woman was still sitting in her car.  We walked right up to her and waved to her from the outside.  I was SO EXCITED to meet her!  Especially since she is from my home city.  She came out and I couldn't help but energetically talk about how she has all the signs of a family from Tucson.  And we connected right then and there.  I felt so much charity towards this person named Rachael.  She and her husband had just moved from Tucson recently due to military.  Get this, she grew up on the east side of Tucson and went to Saguaro High School.  She was around friends who were members of the Church and they talked with her about the church all the time. She was given a Book of Mormon but had never read it before.  I just shared my simple testimony of the Book of Mormon and Rachael committed to pick up and read the Book of Mormon for the first time.  She is going to read it, but is not ready to learn more yet.  This point right here was a changing point for my mission.  I realized that I can have that Christ like charity towards any person that I meet and that gave me so much more of a purpose of sharing the gospel with that kind of attitude because I know they will feel that from me and feel their Savior's love in an absolute increased amount.  I felt an increased of love towards these people.  What a joy.  So I decided to try doing that with every person I saw.  It's a whole different experience when I decided to truly make that person I was talking to, my world, because I sincerely wanted them to have what I had.  Not that I wasn't doing that earlier, my eyes have just been opened to the capacity of what is possible. The difference is either a good, better, and best approach.  I learned what it was like to 'turn outward' like Jesus Christ did towards others instead of being afraid of their reaction or judgment towards what I had to say.  This changed how I shared the gospel and I saw a change in myself as well as Sister Kloepfer saw a change in me.  I felt different.

I learned a lot about faith in Jesus Christ this week as I focused my studies around this principle that is the lead way for opening up the gateway to Heaven.  I learned much about how faith and obedience work hand in hand.  We show our love for the Savior and that we trust in Him and what He says by choosing to obey all of His commandments.  When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we understand that we can live the commandments with His help.  And we gain a testimony about the truth and reality of a commandment-along with its' promised blessings, when we experiment with it.  Do you see the believing, action and power part working hand in hand? I'll share with you an example of choosing to live a commandment that actually happened about 24 hours ago.  On Sunday morning, Sister Kloepfer and I were making our final Church round up phone calls and confirming set appointments.  We confirmed an appointment made with Jim and his family.  He said yes, and then he added this saying: "another thought, why don't we visit with one another over going out and eating pizza."  He even gave us the address and time and everything.  It was the Sabbath Day and we wanted to keep it holy, but we thought, what would the Savior do?  It's not something I would normally do.  We would still be fulfilling our purpose teaching a family the gospel.  It wouldn't be a bad thing...there were so many things to consider. We didn't feel bad about it, so we knew without a doubt that Heavenly Father trusted us in whatever decision we would make.  He wasn't going to give us the answer to everything that easily. We needed to choose and act and learn for ourselves.  We decided to take this thought to church and ponder and think about what we should do.  There were goods but there were also things that would be shaky.  We wanted to obey the commandments and do what the Savior would do.  The thought came to me after church as clear as day as though I could see the scene painted on my mind that what if down the road when this family progresses we teach them about the commandment of the Sabbath Day and invite them to live it, and they remember that we went out to eat on Sunday with them?  Right then and there we knew our answer.  The scary part was, how are we going to tell them without offending them?  I said, I wish we had a dinner appointment planned for today that would really help with us letting them know.  Then the thought came to me to check the pictures on my iPad. I had taken a picture of the dinner calendar at church just an hour before. To our relief and joy, a family who had us over on St. Patrick's Day had just signed on our dinner calendar today for Sunday.  It was the biggest blessing.  Not only that, twenty minutes later, we received a call from a young woman in our Ward who said that she has a friend who wants to take the discussions that we teach and learn more about the Book of Mormon next Sunday.  Not only that, when we had dinner with the family that signed up, they took us over to their friend's house and introduced us and invited them over to their home this Friday to have an Easter message given by us. This family accepted. The blessings showered upon us instantly because we chose to keep this simple commandment, the Sabbath Day holy.  My faith in Jesus Christ and living His commandments increased because of study and experience.  It is true that Heavenly Father will pour out His blessings to all His children who keep the commandments.

I have never gained such a testimony of Golden Hours as I have here in Mandarin.  Golden hours are one hour of inspired finding usually by knocking doors.  We NEED the Golden Hours. This is what makes our work progress.  So many miracles from being exactly obedient to your counsel.  I wish I took these golden hours more seriously my whole mission because they are fabulous.  So every night Sister Kloepfer and I switch off with these roles.  Either I pick the area and she picks the street, or vise versa.  We picked Cluster Oaks, this tiny street. Our day panned out to where we only had 25 minutes of Golden hour due to a dinner appointment we had to get to.  We got to this street and prayed.  Sister Kloepfer said we needed to park further down so she drove 50 feet haha.  We tried any home we felt inspired to go to.  With no success and only 15 minutes left we had two homes left that we wanted to try.  We paused for a moment and waited for where the prompting of the Spirit.  We both felt like the blue home.  We were going to find one new investigator which was our goal!  We knocked on the door and the first thing this man named Jim says is, hold on a second I'm going to grab some chairs so we can sit outside. We taught him the Restoration.  We asked if we could come back on Friday and he said,“why don't you just come back tomorrow”?  We did, we taught his entire family.  Best day ever!

Another Golden hour miracle happened on the same day as we found Jim and his family on Wednesday.  It is a 3 week long miracle.  Three weeks ago before I came to Mandarin, Sister Kloepfer and a new missionary went tracting down a street and found a man named Tony.  He wanted them to come back and talk about the Book of Mormon but they got the impression that he just wanted to Bible bash and didn't know his sincerity.  Two weeks later, Sister Kloepfer and I do service at the Seventh Day Adventist church feeding these families that they were hosting. This family wanted to talk with us about the Book of Mormon so we talked with them.  This woman named Lisa (she was leading this service project), who is quite amazing by the way, was listening in but didn't really say anything.  While there she met the Relief Society President of our Ward and a few other wonderful women.  Fast forward to a week later, this last Wednesday. We decided to try Tony's home and guess who opens the door?  Lisa!!  We were taken by a huge surprise.  Of all the homes in Mandarin, this one?!  Happens to be the one that Lisa lives in.  Talk about God's hand being a whole part of this work.  We had the most normal teaching conversation of the gospel and they invited us back for this upcoming Sunday to teach them about the Book of Mormon.  Wow.  This entire week was miraculous like this, there are no words to describe.  I could go on and on forever.

I am enjoying each and every moment of my mission.  The weeks just seem to fly by.  I forgot to mention that I went to Brunswick, Georgia two weeks ago and Jullington Creek for tradeoffs! Doing the same wonderful work in different areas.  My first time every really in Georgia!

Looking forward to the Women's conference this Saturday and don't forget to surf on for the greatest Easter Video that you can share with your friends!!

Love, Sister McCook

March 16, 2015 ~ Week 56 (Week 2 Mandarin 1st Ward)

Pie on Pi Day...A very kind member came and brought this to us,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 9, 2015 - Week 55 (Week 1 Mandarin 1st Ward) ~ Pictures

 Sister Kloepfer and me.

Yes... I am holding a squirrel.

March 9, 2015 ~ Week 55 - (Week 1 Mandarin 1st Ward)

Hello Family & Friends!
Week 1 Mandarin 1st Ward

As you can see, yes I'm starting over with the weeks once again. 
have been transferred out of the Arlington Ward and am now serving with my best friend Sister Kloepfer in the Mandarin 1st Ward!  Oh how I love this Ward and area already and it's only been 5 days.  It will be a unique transition in the leadership aspect as I am not a Sister Training Leader anymore, but a Sister Training Coordinator along with Sister Kloepfer.  We get to travel the mission and train & serve all the Sisters!  We are having so much fun serving together in this capacity.  One of the goals that we made for this transfer is to call and talk with every Sister in the mission for a little bit.  To get to know them and make sure they feel loved and welcomed and plus, this will be the one opportunity that we get to do that because that just doesn't happen!

Sister Kloepfer actually came out with me.  We sat on the plane 
next to each other over a year ago and talked about how we were 
going to one day serve as companions.  We didn't know how it was going to happen, but it was going to happen.  And it did!  Sister Kloepfer is so bold, anyone can tell that she loves the gospel and loves being a missionary because she doesn't let one person pass by.  She is a great example to me and we work well with each other!  She is from Idaho and has five siblings.

If you are wondering, Mandarin 1st Ward is A LOT like 
Fleming Island (which was my first area).  I am so happy to be here!  We have met some wonderful people already and even invited someone to be baptized on March 28!  Her name is Tracy and she came to our Ward activity on Saturday as well as church on Sunday!  Even when it was daylights savings time (which I still don't see a point of having daylight savings time).  We fast forwarded an hour and Tracy made it on time!  Her
mom is actually a member of the church but she hadn't been since she was about 15 and has been searching for it ever since.  50 years later, she has found it through the Spirit leading us to her daughter until she found us to show it to her.  It's glorious!

I think that I mention this quite a bit in my letters, but I 
just can't get it out of my mind ever and who can ever get tired of learning about the Atonement?  The reason being is 
that we have taught two wonderful lessons about the Plan of Salvation this past week where when we were teaching and testifying about the Atonement, the Spirit felt was indescribable.  One sister said very softly, 'thank you. Thank you very much for that.  It was very refreshing to be able to hear that. It has been a long time since I truly thought about the Atonement.' Yes, the Atonement is refreshing.  It is life changing.  And the keyword here is becoming.  We can be comforted, healed, forgiven, guiltless, burdens made light, joyful, etc. and we can help each other to see that yes, everything will be okay.  I will feel like what Lehi said, forever: "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise."  2 Nephi 2:8  Will you prepare to share the atonement with your friends this Easter?  Share with them your testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how much a blessing it is to your life. Even use the Church's Easter initiative video they have created so that you can feel comfortable
sharing the gospel.

You can be a missionary.

Love, Sister McCook

Sister Kloepfer and me.

Yes.... I am holding a squirrel.