Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 15, 2015 ~ Pictures

June 15, 2015 ~ Week 69 (Week 3 Whitehouse Ward)

Dear family and friends....Happy Father's Day to all of the Dad's out there.  We sure do appreciate all of the efforts you do!

More miracles and connections between my past area in Mandarin 1st and now Whitehouse. I was on a trade off in St. John's with Sister Clay and Sister Sandberg was in a tradeoff in Whitehouse with Sister Anderson.  So, afterwards we decided to meet up at the Mandarin Church building half way and then go out for ice cream to discuss the miracles that we had in our exchanges.  We went to Bruster's and I was hoping we would see Antoine there who holds the yellow sign for his job (he lives in Whitehouse but is someone that Sister Murray, Sister Malm and I met in Mandarin).  We found him just by walking over from Bruster's awhile back.  We get there, but Antoine wasn't there.  And I was so sad because that was the only chance we were going to catch him!  Well we got ice cream and Sister Sandberg shared that she met a woman named Marie F. at the gas station and she was someone that I met in Mandarin and gave a Book of Mormon to just two months previous!  Divine intervention.  She wants the missionaries to come teach her. She lives in the area below us!  Miracle.

Then, we were pulling out of the parking lot of Bruster's and to our greatest astonishment, there was Antoine walking on the side walk with his yellow sign!  I pulled back in the parking spot and we got out to talk with him.  What a miracle!  We are having a lesson with him and his family next Sunday!  These are all tender mercies that we are seeing here and great rewards to teach Heavenly Father's children all because we decided to do our best in talking with everyone in Mandarin.

Yesterday night we taught a family that we just began working with and committed their daughter to be baptized on August 16. Her name is Amelia.  She will be nine years old by the time she is baptized and the family is setting a goal to go inside the temple and be sealed for time and all eternity.  This makes my heart just so SO happy!  We reviewed the Plan of Salvation yesterday and Amelia enjoyed searching the scriptures to learn more about it with the help of her parents.  She is a very bright young girl and she sounded out all of those big words from the scriptures.  We were really impressed and anyone could tell that the Spirit was there in that room tonight.  Continually testifying to their hearts of the truths of this gospel.  Amelia's father said, "I can tell our home feels a little more warmer now."  The Spirit was very tender in there.

I'll begin sharing my testimony which grew deeper this past week as I share an experience with you.  It begins with a lesson that we had with Francesca who just got baptized last month.  We are reteaching her all of the lessons since she just got baptized.  It happened to be a Skype lesson and we reviewed the Restoration with her.  We committed her to pray again to confirm that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true.  Not only that, but I committed to her that I would do the same thing.  So I kneeled by my bedside at night and began to pray to ask Heavenly Father to confirm these truths to me.  After I asked the questions to Heavenly Father and paused for a minute.  The feelings that I felt, from the power of the Holy Ghost are described in this scripture,  "Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me." (Alma 32:28) It was the greatest feeling I had ever felt as I prayed to know these things are true.  I will never forget that feeling.  I know the Book of Mormon is true and I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet, because of the power of the Holy Ghost.

If you read the Book of Mormon and kneel by your bedside tonight and pray to know if these things are true, I promise, as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ that you will receive an answer.

Love, Sister McCook

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Week 68 ~ Pictures

Pressure washing a home for service.

Vending machine at the baptist church in Baldwin!
First prickly pear cactus I've seen since Tucson!

June 8, 2015 ~ Week 68 ~ (Week 2 Whitehouse Ward)

Dear family & friends,

I cannot help but share an 
incredible experience that began 
when I was serving in Mandarin and continued on to serving here in my current area of the Whitehouse Ward.  There was a two week time period where Sister Kloepfer and I were finding people who were really searching for truth and wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon.  But none of them lived within our area boundaries...NONE!  So we transferred them over to other missionaries--Hendricks, Whitehouse, Julington Creek, Mandarin 2nd, Arlington, the Young Single Adult Ward, everywhere.  We kept finding people to send to the Whitehouse Ward.  So many.  I even recall saying, "Sister Kloepfer, why are we finding so many people for the Whitehouse Ward?"

Funny enough, by the wisdom of Heavenly
 Father, I would be here in Whitehouse ready to work with the 5 people  that we found and were sent over here.  On Thursday we are going to teach Israel and his family who we met at the mail box in Mandarin, as well as we are going to teach Nikki the same day.  I still need to find Antwan and Marie, but they will be found!  I am so happy!!

I went on two tradeoffs this week and looking forward 
to 10 more throughout the rest of the transfer.

On Saturday, Sister Sandberg and I began the day with some service.  Pressure washing the outside 
of a member's home.  It was so fun!!  We set that pressure washer up with no help.  We then biked all the way over to Baldwin.  Dad if you check the map and 
begin at Oldplank and Jones all the way to Baldwin that is pretty much how far we biked.  We found a woman to teach for next Saturday named Tara.  She is looking for change in her life.

That is what stood out to me this week as I did missionary work. Accepting 
the restored gospel is all about making changes in life for the better, in order to follow Jesus Christ and live His teachings. That is called repentance.  Because of His forgiveness, mercy, and grace, we can be healed spiritually and be able to make the changes necessary in order to progress to walk in newness of life by being baptized.  The ability to repent and feel joy in doing so makes me
happy.  Many people back home used to ask me why I am so happy and what is it that makes me happy? 

The gospel is what makes me happy.  The Book of Mormon.  The knowledge I have that I know I can do anything with the Savior's help.  I love Him and I love bearing His name on my right shoulder.

Love, Sister McCook

June 1, 2015 ~ Pictures

June 1, 2015 ~ Week 67~ (Week 1 Whitehouse Ward)

Dear Family & Friends...

I finally made it to the country on my mission!  I am so thrilled!  The area is huge and very different to where I have been sent in my previous areas.  The people here are incredible.  The members here are so happy and I feel very loved and welcomed into this Ward.  It was funny because I saw the Ward Mission Leader on Tuesday and he said, you might want to begin preparing a talk because you are giving one on Sunday.  Perfect!  I gave it on the light of Christ. I'll share a brief portion of what I talked on:

"And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit."  D&C 84:46
Every human being that you see walking on this earth has the light of Christ which inspires men and women to do good.  Because everyone has the Light of Christ, we can know good from evil. We must not confuse the light of Christ with the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit and the light of Christ is a spiritual influence and enlightenment that leads men and women to do good.  I had a personal experience that goes along with this.

Sister Kloepfer and I miraculously got into a gated community to visit a member.  As we were driving, we couldn't help but put our car in park, car still running, and get out to talk with this sweet family---a father with two young children no older than 5.  As we began bearing testimony of Jesus Christ to this young father, he quickly turned and pointed to his daughter riding her bike and said, "she would be the one to talk to about Jesus Christ."  As he had had a very little belief in Jesus.  As he called her over, her name being Isabella, we told her that Jesus Christ is real and that He loves her.  With eyes wide open and jaw dropped which turned into a smile, she excitedly looked up to her dad with an 'I told you so' kind of look and repeatedly everything that Sister Kloepfer and I just said.  As her father ran off to grab her brother who began to ride his bike into the road, she asked a question, "Did God make us?"  We answered her yes, He did make you and me and your family, in heaven.  With her dad walking back towards us, she exclaimed, "Daddy, Daddy!  Did you know that God built us?!  He made us!"  The sweet spirit and wonder that came from this young child was unforgettable.  She felt what was called the light of Christ at that very moment and the Holy Ghost confirmed those truths to her heart when she learned them.

A miracle that Sister Stitt (who serving in Gainesville) and I had when we were on a trade off here in the Whitehouse Ward area was that we went tracting (knocking on doors) on this street and we knocked into a home with a woman that had us come in right away.  It turns out that Doris was a member of the Church and missionaries hadn't knocked on her door in 20 years.  Her records aren't even in our area so this was us being led to find her.  We were able to bear powerful witness of the Book of Mormon.  When Sister Stitt and I were double testifying to what each other said, it was like the Spirit was tangible.  It was really felt there.

Sister Sandberg is incredible!  She has been serving in the Whitehouse Ward for 6 months already.  She has a fire for missionary work and we have so much fun finding people.  She builds the Sisters up that we serve with and leads with love and boldness.  She always has interesting facts to share with me.  She has a beautiful testimony of the Book of Mormon.  She has already graduated college at BYU-Hawaii and will be pursuing her Masters degree in Dietetics.  She wants to be a registered Dietician.  Not only that but she leads killer workouts in the mornings.  I haven't worked out that hard since before day 1 of my mission.  I LOVE serving with Sister Sandberg and I hope I get to serve with her for both of my final transfers.  She taught me a Tahitian dance that we performed in the Ward Talent show this past Saturday.  It was so much fun!

There is a scripture that stood out to me yesterday in my studies.  This is Moroni speaking, the final prophet, and final faithful disciple of Jesus Christ after the destruction of this nation-- "And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless." (Mormon 8:14)
I love this scripture because he talks about the plates itself, being materialistic and of no worth even though they are of gold.  But the record, the writings itself are worth more than what man would say the worth of the plates are.  This is true.  The writings contained within each page of the Book of Mormon are of the most valuable in my life.  I treasure them daily as I feast upon them.  It's because the blessings given from Heaven are far greater to me than any monetary possession.

Until next week.
Love, Sister McCook