Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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 HeLives.mormon.org for the greatest Easter Video that you can share with your friends!!

Love, Sister McCook

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