Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August 18, 2015 ~ Week 78

Dear family and friends.

God knows the hearts of His children.  I know this because at about
8:50 at night on Tuesday, I was a little frustrated.  We went to our
golden hour street and it was super dark with fenced in homes.  Sister Clay suggested that I turn to a random verse in the Book of Mormon to read.  I read in 3 Nephi 1 about the star showing in the sky being the sign of Christ's birth.  I felt immediate peace within me and said, let's go share this glorious message in the Book of Mormon.  We turned down Colville Street and saw a bright house.  This was the one because
it looked receiving.  A man came out and said he was not interested.  Right as we turned around, we saw this young man (his name is Ryan) about 50 feet away on his front porch about to go inside.  We called out to him and he said he's been wanting to learn about the Book of
Mormon.  It turns out this was a member's home that we hadn't even met yet.  His name is John and he said, "We’ve been wanting to call the Elder missionaries for weeks now but something kept telling me to just wait. We were actually just talking tonight about how we needed to get
them over here and then all of a sudden you just show up.”  We have taught him 3 lessons so far and he came to Church this past Sunday.

There is not enough time or profound words in the world to describe how amazing my mission has been.  Heavenly Father has been so good to me in every way possible.  The work of Jesus Christ is true; I finally have a sure testimony of missionary work.  The mission was SO MUCH FUN, hard, stressful, the best, phenomenal, everything I ever could have imagined.  But with all of those emotions, I would do the entire 18 months over again because I love serving my Savior full time.  And I will when I am elderly.  My life is changed, all who accepted to hear this message-their lives are changed, eternal friendships were made, unbreakable bonds.  All of my strongest friendships I made on my mission are because we connected through the restoration of Jesus Christ's gospel and loved sharing our testimonies.  These are the ones I will never lose contact with.  And that is what the gospel is all about.  To bring families together and live the gospel, joyfully.

Jacksonville, Florida has a special place in my heart forever.
Thank you for your prayers and fasting.

Signing off,
Sister McCook

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015 ~ Week 77 ~ Pictures

     These two wonderful members from Fleming Island 2nd Ward             came and surprised me at Church on Sunday!

The donkey was found in Whitehouse when we were doing golden hour on Oglesby St.

 It was Sister Sandberg's birthday the day before zone conference 
so I made her a pie!!

 I got to see every single one of my companions this week!!  Yay I'm so happy.

August 10, 2015 ~ Week 77

 Dear family & friends,

I'll just start at day one Monday.  P-Day ended at 6:00pm and we were driving out of our house.  We put our golden hour street in the GPS and
it couldn't find it!  We then received a phone call from members that said, let's go out to dinner.   We hadn't even had dinner yet (that is usually a normal thing for P-Day). So we went to Gator's BBQ and were able to teach her husband, who is still learning about the gospel!  So that was a miracle.  We then went knocking on a street we were suppose to knock on Saturday and we found a man named Jerry working outside.  Gave him a Book of Mormon and planned on seeing him Tuesday night.

On Tuesday we taught many people and one of the members we read the Book of Mormon with every Tuesday brought a friend over so we could teach him!  That is always the greatest blessing when members bring their friends over to learn about the gospel.  We then brought a member with us to teach (Jerry) and he accepted to be baptized on September 27.

On Wednesday we had a zone conference.  The Jax West and Jax South zones got together and we had fabulous trainings from President and Sister Craig and the Assistants.  They were about member missionary work, teaching quality lessons, following each prompting of the Spirit to reach our fullest potential, and using agency righteously.  I appreciated the member missionary training because I am working on setting goals to be a member missionary.  We role played lots and I even role played with Sister Kloepfer.  Yes, I saw 3/4 companions still out in the field at my zone conference.  I was a happy Sister Missionary!

On Thursday I was on a trade off with a new missionary and she is amazing.  I am so impressed because she did some pretty tough things on the trade off.  But she was able to teach a woman that Sister Clay and I found.  Her name was Patsy and it was her first lesson being taught by us.  She set a baptism date for September 27 as well.  That was a beautiful experience we were so happy!  I also had my final Ward
council as well.

On Friday I went on my final trade off with Sister Dixon in Lake Butler. We taught EVERYONE.  There was so much teaching.  There was a tender mercy though, we went to a dinner with a member and they made homemade chicken pot pie. Everyone knows that is my FAVORITE meal ever.

Sunday was the best.  There are so many people coming back to Church.  Patsy came for the first time, Amelia was there with her sweet family.  As I was sitting down while the sacrament was being passed, I was thinking of everyone that came today many of whom were taking it for the first time and thought, Heavenly Father loves His children so much.  I love serving and teaching them so so so much. We had a lesson with Amelia's family and brought some members with us and had a great lesson about the word of wisdom!

I love love love this transfer.  I just want to live in it for a few more months. This week will be the best week ever.

Love, Sister McCook

August 3, 2015 ~ Pictures

Tiffany and Rachel! 
Rachel just got baptized in April and 
 Tiffany just got back from Young Women's camp!

The member who is moving out!  There are a lot of things that she does that remind me of my mom.  So funny!  Gotta love her.

August 3, 2015 ~ Week 76

Dear family & friends,

Can I just share how much I love Amelia's family?!  They are remarkable!  They brought a friend to Church yesterday and they enjoyed
it!  They read their scriptures everyday and are currently starting from the beginning and reading until the end.  I really appreciate the Whitehouse Ward for always being so willing to come to lessons with this family.  The members are lining up until the end of the month to come to a lesson with them.  It has made such a difference being able
to bring different members every time because everyone surrounds them at Church to say hello. So Amelia will be getting baptized on September 5th and her mom promised to send me pictures!!

Our training at MLC was a success as we talked about the how, why, and what of doing companion exchanges!  Sister Clay had the most incredible Book of Mormon insight in 3 Nephi 17 because we can apply everything the Savior teaches for how to conduct a trade off.  The Savior invited the people to ponder, ask, and prepare.  We apply that as we prayerfully ponder and study what the Sister missionary needs and how to implement their goal for the exchange. Jesus also asked inspired questions, promised blessings showered on them.  We enjoyed presenting this.

Sister Clay and I did much service this week and it was exactly what I needed.  It was very healing.  I've learned that some of the things I didn't prefer to do before I was a missionary, I LOVE to do now as a missionary.  One of those… was cleaning.  We spent two hours cleaning a
home that hadn't been cleaned in years.  I think we picked up 100 Pringles cans.  I love serving because as we do, it gives us an opportunity to really get to know a person at a personal level, as
every time we enter in a home to teach, we fulfill our purposes straight away.  Even the Savior got to know a lot about a person just from serving them.  We also helped move out a family into another Ward.  We were sad to lose them, but they will do great things in their new Ward.

I'm excited to be a member missionary forever!

Love, Sister McCook

Monday, August 3, 2015

July 27, 2015 ~ Week 75 ~ Pictures

July 27, 2015 ~ Week 75

Dear family and friends...

Amelia and her family came to Church yesterday!  It was their third time coming and oh how we were all so impressed with their children.
  They were the most reverent children in sacrament meeting yesterday.  Fiona is Amelia's seven year old sister and she sat next to me yesterday.  She was very, very reverent, sitting with her legs crossed and watching the speakers so well.  I think it helped that we were in the third row and nobody was in front of us besides her own family so
there wasn't too much to look at but the speaker's themselves.  We had a great lesson with them yesterday night where we were able to read 7 verses out of Alma 24.  We made paper swords and talked about covenants we make.

I was really touched in the third hour of Church.  All of the adults and youth were combined in the Relief Society room (which made it ten degrees warmer...so grateful!) and we received counsel about keeping the Sabbath Day Holy and honoring it as the Lord's Day.  Much of this
teaching came from a video broadcast where many of the 12 Apostles taught the why and what of this commandment as well as what needs to change.  I really liked the emphasis on preparation and reverence.

1. Preparation for partaking of the sacrament meaning no more meetings before Church begins. One of the father's in our Ward set an example
 for preparing his children to take the sacrament by asking him "James, what are you going to learn at sacrament meeting today?"
2. Reverence. Elder Ballard, I believe it was him, said "Can we go for 1 hour and 10 minutes without eating food and playing/texting on our smart phones/iPads?"

He is very right.  I too in my past have fallen short of these things but in my mission as I have been disciplined with no candy hiding in my bag, and no desire to take out my iPad.  I have found that when I am giving my whole attention to the speakers, they say something that
undoubtedly was an answer to my prayer or something I didn't realize I needed to hear that day. So I have set goals for the future for how to abide by what the prophets have counseled us to do because I know what they teach comes directly for Heavenly Father.

We just found out this morning that we are preparing to give training in Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday.  It will be on how to do tradeoffs and I am super excited about that because when you have been on about 43 trade offs in your mission life time, you learn
a lot from so many other missionaries and how to do the work in those different ways!  So I will share insight from our training next week!

Sister Clay and I have been having a lot of miracles with finding through people that have already been found.  This past week actually one of my favorites comes from a tradeoff I was on with Sister McGregor.  We were knocking doors in the pouring rain and we came across this door and a young mom named Tiffany says come on in without any hesitation.  She had just moved there with her husband who is a member. We taught her the Restoration and she said that she wanted to be baptized so we will keep working with her and see how it goes.
Heavenly Father blesses us when we are out working hard in the rain!

Love, Sister McCook

July 20, 2015 ~ PIctures