Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." 2 Nephi 2:25

 “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”  2 Nephi 2:25
To no ones surprise, time is short today. Idk what it is about an hour...but it's hard to read lots of emails and then write one....oh well :) This week has been a week... Every minute was crazy slow. But the days have just at the speed of sound. So crazy loco. 
So first off, last week I forgot to inform you that I went to salt lake and got my visa!!! hooray, I will be for sure leaving to Mexico on Feb.3!!!!
Wow. wow. wow.
Just typing that makes me feel all sorts of nervous and excitement!!

Since I don't have lots of time on email left, I’ll just write about some lessons I’ve learned this week (and although I’ve learned them...I’m still trying to apply them. It's very much a work in progress). 

There are SO many AMAZING examples here.
Like so many. I know I’ve already said this...probably too much even, but my teacher, Hermano Passantino is like the greatest human being. Ever! I am humbled every day from his experiences and how he teaches. He definitely is on his way to being a prophet. Well one day, when we were all stressed and looking like we wanted to cry, he just decided to pretty much skip the lesson he had planned and tell us stories. He told us a bunch about his mission in Argentina. The more stories he would tell, the more I would feel SO bad for not being a better student. For not being a better person. A better missionary!! Like I really was beating myself up mentally because of how good he is!! Well later as I was pondering on his amazingness (I know it isn’t a word, but it describes him), I had a thought come to my head, “God has blessed me with SO many good people around me, not to make me feel bad and stupid, but to help better myself!!! He doesn't want their goodness to bring me lower, he puts them in my life to make me better!!”   Sometimes when there are really nice and outgoing people around me, I have a strange temptation to be jealous of them. But that is not right. I just need to look at the good things about them and then try and emulate those things!!! So yeah...even though this is a lesson I should have learned looooooooooong ago...I am relearning it this week as well :) So don't beat yourselves up because you think someone is better than you, just work on becoming better :)
This is kind of like the first.
Because of the many many good examples I have around me, I often just wish that I was like them. I wish I was a good example, a good leader, a good friend, a better missionary, etc. Well I came to realize that if I want to be all of those things...I need to DO all of those things. I can't just wish I was nice and friendly to everyone and not be. I can't be someone that loves everyone if I don't love. If I want to be someone that is patient with others around me, then I need to be patient. I need to speak with kindness. Like I know this is like common sense...but it's some sense I’m coming to get more of while being here. So yeah...if you want to be better...THEN BE BETTER. You can't be better by staying the same. 
Every Sunday after our devotionals, we come back to West campus and they have some church movies/devotionals playing. This Sunday we decided to go to the Joseph Smith video again. I ALWAYS love that movie. Well as the movie was coming to a close, I just had a VERY overwhelming feeling of gratitude for Joseph Smith!!! Because of him, I am here on a mission!!! Because of him I have the knowledge that Jesus is my Savior, he died for me, I can repent and become clean, I can have the gift of the 
Holy Ghost, and I can return to live with God again. Because of his sacrifice, I have happiness. I was thinking about how great that was, another thought came into my head. What am I going to do differently as a result of that? Yeah, being grateful is good and all...but what am I going to do to change? What am I going to do as a result of his sacrifice? Having gratitude is not enough. We need to change!!! I need to change. When I got home, I wrote in my journal things to work on...I challenge all of you to find something(s) to work on. Yeah, you're grateful for Joseph Smith and the gospel...but now what? What are you going to do to change? How does his sacrifice, and the sacrifice of our Savior change us?
Being happy. 
Like I was saying, because of Joseph Smith (and more importantly our Savior), I have the ability to be happy because of the knowledge I have. But, for some reason, I get discouraged a lot and then I’m sad. This is not right!!! This message and gospel I’m going to be sharing is all about happiness. "The plan of happiness." 2 Nephi 2:25 aAdam bfell that men might be; and men care, that they might have djoy“  We are here to have joy and be happy!!! I had to make a conscious effort this week to be happy even when things went wrong. When my lesson was a TOTAL failure, when I felt dumb not being able to speak the things I wanted, when I felt like all of my preparations and studying was for nothing. I choose my attitude!!! All of those things are SO so so so so so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I shouldn't let a failed lesson (or two...or five...) make me sad when the message I’m trying to share is about happiness. Kinda hypocritical of me ;)

So anywho....those are some of my lessons this week. There were SO Many more...but my time is up. 

I received some fantastic letters this week. Very inspired. So thank you to everyone that took time to follow that inspiration!!! 

I love all of you SO MUCH!!!
Love love love you!!!

Hermana Cook

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Wait Upon the Lord"
So today is crazy. I have like no time. My companion was sick today, so we've been taking turns getting our stuff done....anyway I just don't have lots of time...

Um....this week was hard. I feel like sometimes I am regressing in Spanish. There are so many things I want to do and just don't have time....blah blah blah. I don't want to make this a complaining letter. So I'll just talk about the good stuff :)

Last Sunday was so blessed!!! The Lord let me know he was thinking of me during The Mormon Tab “Music and the Spoken Word”.  They played 2 of my  favorite songs of all time!!! Gabriel's Oboe and Homeward Bound. When they were singing Homeward Bound, I almost started crying. That is like the best song ever and I so needed to hear it. I miss you all so much and yeah...Heavenly Father let me know He was thinking of me through that song. I may not have the gift of tongues yet..., but he is aware of me. I am so grateful for that!

Sunday night devotional. AMAZING!!!! It was Richard L Heaton....He's the director of like all the MTCs...or something like that. He's super in-charge somehow. Anyway...I cannot do his message justice...but he just talked about how we as missionaries are NOT saving people. We are HASTENING the work. We are helping Heavenly Father. Nothing more. If we have ANY success, it is because of God. He is preparing his people. This is His work. We are just helpers. He then had people that had just joined the church in the last 2 years stand up, picked 2 of them to come up, and then 2 people that had been reactivated in the last 2 years. He picked my dear Hermana Skeen. All of their stories were SO amazing. And he pointed out how in each story, the people had been prepared waaaaaaaaaay before the missionaries ever helped, or in some cases weren't even involved. God is in charge. He loves all His children and we are just here to help Him get them back. "You don't have one [a home]. But I will help you get it back if I can." --the Hobbit...I don't have time to write EmmaLee a personal that quote is for her ;)

Tuesday night devotional. Guess who came?!??!
ELDER BEDNAR!!!! AGAIN!!!!! Amazing! He did another Q&A with the questions asked last time. One of the questions was “why do good things happen to good people?” He brought up many good things, one of which was my theme for my mission so far D&C 122:7 “...all things shall give thee expereince...,”  but he also talked about President Kimball before he was prophet. He had throat cancer. Why would the Lord give him throat cancer or not heal him of it if he was going to be a prophet? He told of how before he was the prophet he had just had throat surgery and how he went to a stake conference or something with Elder/Pres...Harold B se...but how he made him talk during each session and all he could do was croak. He could hardly say any words. He felt humiliated each time he sat down. He felt like he was failing at his sacred calling. But each time he was able to say more. Still tons of croaking, but he could say more. Anyway...that experience helped make him how and who he was. I felt like I could relate to him in a small way. 

Last thing that was good. Elder Bednar gave us a blessing saying that we would learn how to 'wait upon the Lord'. I loved and hated that he said that. I felt like he was talking right to me. I feel like I already have been waiting on the Lord!!!! But I guess I will learn even more patience. Good thing my theme is "all things shall give the experience and be for thy good." I think something in my future is going to be hard and this is just preparing me. I guess we'll see what Heavenly Father has in store :)
 Isaiah 40:31 But they that await upon the Lord shall brenew their cstrength; they shall mount up with wings as deagles; they shall erun, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Love you all so much!!! I can't tell you enough how much it means to me! I wish I had the time to write you all personally!! But just know I love all ya'll!!!!

Until next week (hopefully)

Hermana Cook

P.S. So what I need is to THANK YOU!!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! That package you sent on Wednesday was the greatest thing ever. Everyone loved the brownies. 2 of the elders were way excited about Elder Callister’s CES fireside talk too ;) All the girls LOVED it. Could you send one more por favor?  I gave one to each person...there are 8 of us in my district, including me. So just one talk short. And yeah. Everything was so great. LOVED the Articles of Faith in Spanish!!! and the Plan of Salvation. LOVE LOVE LOVE TIMMY!!!! So funny, when I saw the pics I was like "my boyfriend!!!" and then the elders were like "your boyfriend sent you a package..lucky" and then I showed them how cute he was. They all was jealous;) But yeah.  Beccas pic of the tiger was super legit and Hanna’s letter was great. I do believe she promised to write me once a week... ;) oh and all the Hermanas said THANK YOU and how amazing you were for typing up that devotional!!! They were all going to write you thank you notes but since the craziness today....we didn't have much time. So...yeah. You are the most amazing ever. EVER!!!
 oh...and could you send me one of those book mark thingys with all the scripture mastery's on them...Just a quick little guide before I have them memorized ;)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." D&C 122:7
Once again, much has come to pass this week. So much. 
Remember that one time I was in a 3 some?? Yeah...well I’m not anymore. 
I got another companion sent home. :l
Just teasing. Chiste chiste!! ;) One of the girls in our zone broke her pinkie finger and has to stay for 3 more weeks. Her district left on Monday, so she got put with us :) Poor thing ;) Just kidding. 

But her staying with us was a real test of my faith. And it still is...but I’m pulling through.
Here's why-
I've had soooo many companion changes since I've been here. haha I even made a joke to them that know one can stay with me for longer than a week...which has proven to be true so far. Coincidence??? ("I think not!!) Anywho so I'm in my 3 some happy and loving life when President Dittmar comes over and says, "as you know, Hermana  Benally will be staying with us for 3 more weeks. Hermana Andelin, you will be her companion." At that moment, my heart sunk and I had an overwhelming fear come upon me. Hna. Andelin is pretty much fluent in French and took 2 semesters of it at BYU and is SO GOOD AT IT!!! She is by far the most fluent of anyone here. Like our whole zone...and probably anyone at the MTC. She is the reason why our lessons were going well, why we were able to understand what our "investigators" were saying, etc. She was the back bone. And now she would not be our companion any more. I really did feel sick to my stomach. I was also nervous about Hna Skeen. I was replacing her original companion!! She had to be feeling even worse. Maybe even angry. As I was feeling sad and sickened, I kept reminding myself about how I had read about faith last week. I needed to have faith. I think my theme scripture has become DC 122:7 "all these things shall give thee experience and be for thy good." I needed to have faith. And ironically enough, that morning I had prayed and fasted for increased faith. I told the Lord that I wanted to have more faith in Him and that I was ready and willing to accept His will for me. (The jokester. )

Since it was fast Sunday, we had a mission conference. AMAZING!! Everything I needed to hear. I cried....but I was sneaky about it so no one knew ;) I would love to share EVERYTHING that was said and shared, but there is no time!! Basically everything I needed to hear: have faith, don't take council from your fears, we can do hard things, look to him in every thought, I’ll do what you want me to do dear lord, God will not fail us if we are obedient, plus so much more. It was such a blessing and tender mercy :') 
Skip to Tuesday. We have a new teacher, Hermano Bruce (small world, he served in Argentina with Jessica, he knows Derek because he was in the mission his parents were mission presidents over, and he knows Aunt Lynette...he said she is really nice and even made him snicker doodles once. Cray-cray :) Anyway...he is our new investigator as well. So first time teaching him with my "new" companion it was just short of a disaster. We tried to prepare but there was just this wall that was between us. I didn't feel like she had helped to prepare the lesson, she seemed SO annoyed at everything I did, whenever I asked her opinion on stuff she would just say "I don't care" or "whatever" or "it's fine." I was trying so hard not to cry.  So we go in the lesson, I pretty much forget everything I’m trying to say, and it was just awkward and the spirit wasn't there. Terrible. 
So all day we're trying to plan for our lesson for Wednesday for "Luis" our other teacher, Hermano Passantino. We, (mostly me) decided we should teach about the Atonement. Our previous lesson was about the plan of salvation so we were going to focus on that. So we are trying to plan our lesson and it is just SUPER awkward. She's not talking, I'm just rambling and trying to make small talk and yeah. Disaster. And my heart and soul hurt. It just felt like I was suffocating. I had a thought to just stop our "planning" and ask her how she was feeling. What she was thinking. We were having no progress in our planning and I wanted to scream. So an hour passes by and nothing. No progress on anything. So I finally get up the courage to just ask her how she is, how she is feeling about Hna. Andelin not being with us, etc. At first she was kinda like "what do you mean...?" So then I just told her how I was feeling and how I felt so inadequate and sorry that I didn't know Spanish and that I'm sorry I wasn't Hna. Andelin etc. It was CRAZY how much everything changed. She told me how she felt, we talked about how we study best, how we prepare, etc. It was night and day. I felt the distance between us melt. We made goals that could help us be better in Spanish and other things, and yeah. Just crazy. I knew it was the Lord that had put that thought into my head to ask her how she was doing and how she felt. I was dumb to wait over an hour to actually act on the prompting. But I’m just grateful that I did in the end. 

Skip to Wednesday. We have our lesson with Luis. We are still nervous because Hna Andelin wasn't going to be with us and we were actually going to have to talk during our lesson. SCARY!!! Since the day before we had come together in unity a lot more, we were less afraid. We hadn't finished our lesson completely, but we both know the general idea. Before we knocked on the door, we prayed together and it was fabulous. I told her that everything was going to be alright, we just needed to have the Spirit there and have faith. Our lesson was far from perfect. I forgot a lot of the words and phrases I had studied, but when I stumbled, Hna Skeen picked it up. When she struggled, I had something to say. One of the many tender mercies in that lesson was when we had Luis read a scripture (Alma 7:11-12, 14) 
 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions andbtemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  
 12 And he will take upon him adeath, that he may bloose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.
  14 Now I say unto you that ye must arepent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
He then asked us what a word meant. We looked at it and had NO idea. We knew what the scripture was talking about, but we had NO idea which word he meant. All the sudden I remembered my English scriptures and a note I had written in there. "Succor" means to run to. I knew that was the word he was talking about. So I was able to explain it to him. It was so amazing. THEN it was time for us to ask if he would be baptized. He told us no again because he still hadn't gone to church. I was like...ok, fine. Next week then. Well Hna. Skeen just kept asking about it and said "will you prepare to be baptized....." anywho, long story short, he said he would!!!!!!!! He told us he was so grateful for our Savior and the things he had done for us. We both bore our testimonies to him and yeah. It was amazing. We ended our lesson, we got Luis to say the prayer then we left. We were both so happy. We came out into the kitchen where we had studied and knelt down and said a grateful prayer. We would not have been able to do anything in there without the Lord's help!! He blessed us with his spirit, understanding, unity, love, etc. It was so amazing. 

Night and day when there is unity with your companion. 
I am so glad that the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to be companions with Hna. Skeen. Even though I was scared and nervous, it has really helped me grow...and I’m still growing!!! I know even though it's hard, all these things will give me experience and be for my good. I know that. 

I love this Gospel. I'm SO grateful for my Savior and His atonement. I know he has felt EVERYTHING I am going through. He loves me and I know He is helping me. I'm grateful for the Spirit too!!! Such a blessing. So amazing. Faith is so important. Please have it. We really are blessed when we put ALL our faith in God and Jesus. It is scary. It is hard. But he will not leave us hanging. “All these things will give us experience and be for our good. 
I know  that. And I’m trying to live it. 

Love you all!!!!!

Hermana Cook

p.s. thanks for all your prayers!!! oh and we are going to the temple today!!!! 1:30 session is ours!! woot woot
p.p.s. I had so many other tender mercies this week...those were just the ones I had time for. I am so blessed!!!!

Thank you SO MUCH FOR YOUR PACKAGE AND LETTERS!!!! I NEVER GET SICK OF GETTING “DEAR ELDER” LETTERS AND PACKAGES (although some of the elders in my zone get tired of me getting packages ;) hahaha it was so funny. When I got my package slip at lunch, someone was like "you got another package?!?!" and then his companion  was like "when does she NOT get a package?" I told them "when I don't ask." So thanks...but you're making everyone jealous of me ;) hahahah but that's their problem..not mine ;)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year erabody!!!! Jan. 2, 2014
It definitely did not feel like it over here! It was so funny when people would say "Happy New Year!" and my companera's and I would be like "oh is today!" It was great though. Made some goals. Good stuff they are.

So this one is gonna be quick. Time is short today.
So first of all...
You probably have no idea how exciting and invigorating it is to get a letter at the end of the day when you feel like your battery is on empty and you feel like shutting down. It feels like a complete recharge. So thank you thank you thank you!!!!
Also, thank you for the package!!! The mini Preach My Gospel is wonderful!! And the hymn book!!! And the hair crimper....and the chips and salsa. Amazing. I love you guys so much :)

So a couple of things I wanted to touch on.
First off...I think I've finally decided on my scripture. Alma 17:11.. "And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls".. Yup...that one is definitely the winner :) So if you want to pass that on, that'd be great.
On Sunday,  my companeras and I got to teach about the Holy Ghost for our district meeting. It was so amazing to search and ponder about!!! Like, I've always loved the Holy Ghost and stuff, but really reading about him was such a wonderful thing. Some things that really stuck out to me were how God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are all one in purpose. I've always known that, but reading a lot about it just made me remember. I really loved Mormon 7:7. And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are fined God, in a state of happiness which hath no end."  What I loved about it was that we would sing praises to God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. He is just as important as the rest. We will love and appreciate him just as much!!! He is the reason why people can be converted. He is why they can feel the love of God. Romans 5:5  "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." It's such a huge blessing to be able to have the gift of the Holy Ghost!! One Elder in my district commented on how if Heavenly Father or Jesus were to come and tell us something, we would most definitely do it. But what about the Spirit? When he tells us something, do we give him as much validity? He is a member of the Godhead. So we probably should....I probably should. Anyway...that was fun. topic on the agenda...
So the whole learning Spanish thing is not really coming very well. I just feel like I’m not progressing.
Yesterday we "got" to teach 2 lessons. I had practiced and practiced, memorized and memorized what I was going to say, but once we got in there. Nada. I just felt sick in my stomach. If one of my companions was not almost fluent in Spanish...they would be the shortest lessons ever!!! Anywho...after our 2nd lesson that day, I felt so bad. I had only said like 2 things that probably didn't make sense and I felt like I'm not contributing at all. I told my companions sorry...and then I just started crying. It was muy embarrassing. I then went into the bathroom and had a heart to heart with the man upstairs. The Spanish is just not coming and sticking with me. I bring my notebooks and study books everywhere I go. To breakfast, lunch, dinner, devotionals, etc. I practice and review all the time, but when it comes time to use what I’ve been studying...I can't remember anything. It's very frustrating. Anywho...long story short, I decided to study more about faith. Faith is something I've felt I've always had...but I feel like I need to go deeper. So as I was reading and studying it today, a scripture I have memorized and heard forever really stuck out to me. Ether 12:6. What really stuck out to me was "for [w]e receive no witness until AFTER THE TRIAL of [your] faith." I think "after the trial" really stuck out to me because that’s what I'm going through right now. A trial. But as the scripture says...we receive not witness, or miracle, until after the trial. My Heavenly Father will help me. I know He will. I just have to keep having faith. "Faith is things hoped for and not seen." I hope with pretty much ever fiber of my big being (yes...fat joke ;)) that He will help me. I need to keep trying and doing as much as I possibly can and then is His grace sufficient for me. So yes faith is good. I know that. I need it. I have it. I just need to keep it coming.

I love you guys!!! So much!!!
I got a letter from Derek and it made my whole day!!! Every time I get a letter it makes my day, but yeah. Thanks Derek!! And Krista and Diana!! And Aunt Louene!!! And all ya'll. Love love love you guys!!!

Hermana Cook
p.s...sorry for the no pics. I guess the one computer that can upload pics wasn't working today. Dagnabit! Hopefully next week. Cross your fingers ;
Ok...time is most definitely up.
Love you guys!!

Hermana Cook my TRC time is on Monday night...always. So I don't think I'll ever get Aunt Lynette unless she comes on Monday nights around 7...shucks.
Nos Vemos!!!