Sunday, October 26, 2014

First off, the tender mercy of September 17th....

My companion and I experienced the feeling of love for another of God's children like we have never experienced it before. M, our investigator, told us that she is really a member of the church (just acting as a Spanish investigator), but all the problems and experiences that she has shared with us about her life have been true. We were prepared to teach her about the commandments for the next lesson, when we had a tender mercy from the Lord. She just broke down and told us her whole life story. And my companion and I just wept with her. And listened to her. And we mourned with her. Her life is falling apart, but you would never know that because she is the most animated and happy person you've ever met! She said she was tired of doing the same thing over and over again every day, and the only joy she finds is when she come to the MTC to be with us missionaries. She said this "job" at the MTC is the best job ever because she has at least 10 sets of missionaries praying for her everyday when they go to teach her for practice. She is dizzy every day because she is diabetic and overweight. Her husband has pretty much abandoned her, and he only visits her from his job in Texas once in a while. Her daughter is inactive in the church. She said that she wanted to take a vacation and go and die up by the "Y" on the mountain. It was so sad. 

And so, as she told us this and more, the spirit carried my words, and told me exactly what I needed to say, because as soon as I told her, she covered her face and bawled; like she was so grateful that I had said that. I told her that God loves her and that all her efforts are not all for naught. I told her that she needed to get on her knees that night and pour out her heart to God and that He would hear her. She had gotten up earlier that morning to make my companion and I some Mexican cookies, and I thought that was so sweet. She has had a special bond with my companion and I and we felt that when we taught her every time. 

After the lesson, my companion and I were a complete mess, we ran into the nearest classroom and bawled and stuttered out a few words about how we had never felt this kind of love before. It was like the sort of love where you honestly want to save a soul. We were experiencing the feeling of why we are really on a mission. And that reason is love. empathy. compassion. We cried tears of joy and thanked God for this tender mercy that he had bestowed on us that night. I felt so much for M, that after we cried in the classroom I ran into the nearest bathroom and vomited! I wasn't sick I promise, because I could have eaten a hamburger right after. I just was so overwhelmed with the spirit of love and mourning for M that things just came out.... We went to our dorm after that we wrote in our journals and cried and then went to bed.





And now... for the musical number. So after my audition they assigned me to play for all the new Senior Missionaries that arrived this week! I got to play "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" for the Senior Missionaries in the most beautiful rock chapel with beautiful acoustics just North of the MTC. (pic included) It was really an amazing experience and I had many of the Senior Missionaries thank me for it. I was a little sad that I didn't get to play for the missionaries my age, but all is well, because I got to do something EVEN BETTER! So we had a little extra time one day and my district begged me to get my violin. I grabbed it and came back, and burst through the classroom door whilst' fiddling!! It was AWESOME!! I wish you could have seen their faces! Soon enough, a few Elders from the other classroom trickled in. And soon after that, more. And more. And more. Until the whole classroom was PACKED with Elders- pretty much our whole zone was in one tiny classroom all wanting to listen. I took everyone's requests- hymns or not- and THEY LOVED IT!! 
 

Anyway the Elders were all just yelling out one song after another and pretty soon I was modulating two songs together that they had requested and it was just incredible!! It was like a bunch of boys on Christmas morning- you should have seen their faces!! One Elder, Elder Burns, sat right in front of me on the floor, "Indian style." I played everything from Tarzan to Frozen to Come thou Fount.

I am also accompanying a musical number for our zone's last sacrament before we leave. My district is singing and I'm playing a violin part to Come thou fount. It'll be AWESOME!! 
 
 
Mom I wish you could sing with me at the MTC when all 2,000 of us are singing- there's nothing like it! POWERFUL!! But there's no one to sing harmony with... I miss you and your singing
 
My miracle of the week has been about strengthening my own personal faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ's atonement for me. Sometimes God tests our faith and until we act and show our faith, we won't receive an answer or a confirmation, as Ether 12:6 says. 
 
Well, I love you all family

And next time I'll be in MEXICO!!! 

Love,

Hermana Cook!! 
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Music and Spanish related?

HOLA FAMILIA!!! 

I LOVE YOU!! And I love the pics you send that captures our family in its natural habitat !! :) 


Okay for starters, this week has been about making connections between Spanish and Music. First of all, here's a quote that I love, "the difference between the skilled and the unskilled lies in the FUNDAMENTALS." The same is true for both missionary work and playing the violin!! Our growth in the gospel is all about our foundation, or our testimony to start. Also you all know how important it is to have a foundation of good technique on the violin before you can start playing more difficult pieces of music. One thing that has been very hard for me here is that we can't listen to music in our dorms. period. And so, I listen to music in my head. But I also replay my lessons in Spanish and different phrases I know in my head, just like music. Hasse once told me that when you're memorizing a concerto, a lot of it is done away from the instrument- it's done in your head. You play through the whole concerto in your head, and that's when you know you've mastered it. So that's what I've been doing with my Spanish- playing through my lessons in my head. It has been so neat to connect my previous life with different aspects of being a missionary! 

Also, look up the Music and the Spoken Word that was broadcast on October 12, because there is the most beautiful song with AWESOME chords!! I don't know if it's just because I've been separated for music so long that I loved it so much or what, but it is called, "The Song of David." (or something like that) Note to self: look this up when I get home.

A few days ago for a devotional in the big auditorium all 2,000 missionaries sang "the battle hymn of the republic!" It was so powerful, I wish you all could have been there to witness that. 

My branch president's wife's tradition is that every time she speaks to us missionaries, she closes with the same three points (and in the same tone of voice- it's powerful). These are the points: 1. Work harder than anyone else! You will see others and you will think they are working hard, but you will say to yourself, "no, they don't know how to work. I know how to work." 2. Love. Love like you have never loved before. Learn about love. CRAZY- EVERYONE JUST WANTS TO BE LOVED! 3. Have fun, smile, and enjoy the gospel!! And when you close your testimonies, always remember in WHOSE name you will end with!! I thought that was neat, and wondered if you could pick three statements of advice to give the missionaries, what would they be?

Also, I encourage you all to watch the video, "Because of Him." It was very neat. The missionaries here were let in on a secret of a big surprise campaign that the church technology department is working on for Christmas, be aware that it's coming up and that is going to be really neat. The church is working in ways now that I thought never were possible.

Now for my investigators whom I love... My companion and I have been teaching Emilia, who doesn't even believe in God. It is more difficult than I thought, but when we listen to the spirit and ask Emilia questions, that is what is important. Bearing testimony like Elder Holley the younger said with the spirit is what moves people to action. Also, it is important that you know the ways in which you feel the spirit. And help your investigators identify what they are feeling. "Este es el espiritu santo!!!" Here are some of the ways I feel the spirit. Think about some of the ways that you feel the spirit, and talk about it in family home evening!! 

- A fiery feeling in my soul- happiness

- A thought or phrase in my mind that leads me to action

- A flashback to the pre-earth life

- A tingly feeling throughout

- Occupies my mind with enlightenment and presses on my feelings- thinking for hours or days

- As I write in my journal, the spirit will prompt me to write something more or write something different than I had planned. I look back at my journal and realize my entries are inspired. 

- An overwhelming feelign of God's love for me and all people

- My whole self shakes and I am moved to say something or do something important- it doesn't stop until I do.

- I cry

- A prompting to pray about something specific or talk to someone. Sometimes what the spirit asks us to do is out of our comfort zone but it's always worth it.

Our other investigator's name is Jacob. He enjoys the good life- partying and dancing. We have taught him the restoration and the plan of salvation, and WE CALLED HIM TO REPENTANCE!! WE HAD HIM ON HIS KNEES!!! Although we are still not sure if He truly believes in God, I think it was a step of faith for him to pray with us for "perdon" as it is in Spanish, or forgiveness. 

Our other investigator, Maribel, IS GETTING BAPTIZED (she is not a real investigator, she is a member acting like an investigator) !! We love her so much and she told us she would sneak in some Spanish cookies for us called "biscochitos..." or something. ha ha. She is from Mexico and she loves us so much!! I shared the story with Maribel about when I was babysitting and Spencer had the bow stuck around his neck and I had a feeling to cut the string- it was the Holy Ghost.

Also, the other day in class the teacher asked us what "Hosanna" means and I was able to share en espanol what it means (Save Us) and I also shared about how Grandma has palm leaves in her home and the significance of that. It was very neat and my teacher LOVED IT!! 

Dad, I'm sorry I wasn't able to host, they have to pick your district... and sadly enough we were just picked for next week and not this week!! But I will look for Sister Stokes, I have already been looking at all the new missionaries with their orange dots on their tags.  

Also, my companion and I love to clean toilets- it's our favorite service. Last time we did it I sang mission impossible the entire time, and we sneaked around from stall to stall with black gloves like we were on a secret mission. IT WAS SERIOUSLY SO FUN!! We would pass the cleaners underneath the stalls in rhythm with my singing and danced around with charlies angels... I know it sounds silly but it was a blast. We probably have cleaned about 100 toilets together! :)

I played my violin for my four Hermana's, just not for the missionaries yet, I'll keep you updated. They all loved it, I played their favorite songs :) Right now we are arranging for our district to sing come thou fount with me on the violin and another Elder on the piano. It's going to be great!! 

The MTC has been a great experience and I have learned a lot here about my testimony, Spanish, and just to embrace the gospel. May God be with you till we meet again, and I CANNOT WAIT TO BE ON THAT PLANE TO MEXICO!!! As every day goes by, I become more calm and I feel more safe about it, I know God will be with me, I feel that.

I love you familia!!!

Dios Velocidad!! (It means God Speed, it's what Grandpa Holley said to me just before I left and now I say it to all the missionaries that I say "hola" to, which is everyone I say walking around on campus :) ) 

Hermana Cook

Sunday, October 12, 2014

General Conference in the MTC!

Hola Familia!!! 
So... conference was amazing and I got a lot of insights to share!! First of all I LOVED the Spanish talks!! They ROCKED!! Dad, I thought it was interesting that Pres. Uchtdorf said that God will answer people's questions with dreams, visions, etc. I thought of those people you taught in New Guinea who said, "just wait for your dream." 

Also, Tad R. Callister told the story in the movie, "Gifted Hands!!" I couldn't believe it! We all love Ben Carson and his marvelous transformation from unlearned boy to masterful surgeon! Also, Gracee, Tad R. Callister said that Ben Carson's mom said, "successful people read!" AND THAT IS YOU TO THE TEE!! And momma, I love when he said that Ben Carson said, "My mother taught me." Because you are the one who has taught me!! YOU are a missionary right now because you are a mom!! 


Hugo E. Martinez, one of the Spanish speakers talked a little on Family history. How is that going for you Gracee? Have you been doing any lately?

Also, probably my favorite of the whole conference was that Thomas S. Monson invoked a blessing that effects me as a missionary!! He said, "May you who are away from your homes, RETURN HOME SAFELY." Wow! What a special moment that was for all the missionaries around the world. Mom and dad, you have nothing to worry about because God is going before my face and His angels ARE round about me- I can feel it every day. 

During conference i really focused on the spirit was telling me.  A lot of times it really had nothing to do with what the speaker was saying, oddly enough, although it sometimes did. I loved that Dallin H. Oaks said, "though we disagree, we should not be disagreeable... practice civility for differences of opinion...KINDNESS is POWERFUL." I think we should stand up for what we believe in, but be kind in the process. We should also acknowledge and listen to the other persons opinion is so as to understand more fully what the argument really is. I know I can work on having patience and remaining calm in these sort of situations. I'm learning about living with a companion. And IT IS NOT EASY!! ha ha. You have to be extremely patient and tolerant of all the little things that may annoy you. You have to choose to not let them annoy you, and sometimes that is very difficult. I love my companion and I appreciate what she has taught me about living with another person 24-7. Note to self: Hold companionship inventory (as highlighted in PMG) when I'm married!!!! Be a missionary and use missionary technics when I'm married!! Have my kids when they are in highschool learn how to use a daily planner instead of their cellular devices to plan out their days and weeks, and set goals to progress. 

Really quick my journal entry from October 5th... " I had a thought from the spirit this morning. Jeffrey R. Holland once said that the first 3 hours of your day as a missionary will make or break it, and essentially your mission. This means the 3 hours of personal, companionship, and language study. I was just enlightened as to HOW Heavenly Father wants me to allow Him to shape me and change me on my mission. And it will be during those precious hours of study- if I'm seeking, if I desire, and if I thirst for knowledge and am spiritually minded, this will be a time of GREAT SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT from the spirit. Never forget that!! Make your study of the gospel a sacred time, a time set apart from the world, a time of meditation. If you are tired, sad, worried, or sick, this is STILL the time to receive spiritual enlightenment!! This is one of the keys to becoming consecrated. 

Neil L. Andersen also talked about, "by your fruits ye shall know them..." I think this statement is a great rule of thumb to live by when looking for friends and eventually an eternal companion.

Pres. Uchtdorf said, "Gathering spiritual light is the QUEST of a LIFETIME." D. Todd Christofferson also said, "Take responsibility and GO TO WORK so that there is SOMETHING for God to HELP YOU WITH." If you feel you are at a standstill in your spiritual progression and conversion, do something about it. Feast upon the words of Christ as Robert D. Hales quoted!! Go on a personal quest and search the scriptures diligently, become a scriptorian, or in other words, one who knows and loves their scriptures!! And LIVES WHAT THEY LEARN! 

I also loved when Thomas S. Monson said that Christ taught us how to pray by giving us the Lord's prayer. Look it up it's beautiful- Matthew 6:9-13. 

We had a man named Via Sikahema come and speak to us! Talmage he played football for the GREENBAY PACKERS!! AND THIS GUY KNOWS HOW TO DO MISSIONARY WORK!! A few things I'll write down, is that having a member present (and FOOD) can really work magic!! I had an impression to encourage you guys to invite Barry over for dinner and just show him how the gospel is an integral part of your lives, when you bless the food, the pictures of Christ, and your smiles. You should be proud you're a mormon because that's what defines you!!! I wish I had time to tell you the un-fathomable stories he told me that he has had about missionary work outside of his mission. YOU ALL NEED TO BE MISSIONARIES. ACT LIKE THEM.

We also had the opportunity to watch the Joseph Smith movie which you all need to watch again it has been a while, I think the last time was at the end of our church history trip with Shay and Erin. It touched my heart and brought a few truths to light for me, one of them being that Satan was ACTUALLY there (in JSH it says an "actual being")  just before the first vision, and God allowed Joseph to have that trial because He is a fourth watch God. But we all know that He does come to the rescue. Also, what I truly want in life is an eternal companion who will live a consecrated life of missionary work and love with me!! I also delight in the beautiful phrase, "MILLIONS SHALL KNOW BROTHER JOSEPH AGAIN!!" And wow isn't that coming to life! 
After we watched the movie,  Elder Lyons rushed up to us wondering where his companion, Elder Vanbuskirk was. They had been separated from each other, and couldn't find each other. As soon as Elder L saw Elder V they rushed to each other and embraced and Elder V started to cry! it was truly brotherhood and it was so sweet!! Also Elder V got a candy package from his family for conference and on the package it was so funny it said, "The words of the prophet are as sweet as these candies. Feast on them!!" I thought it was hilarious since Elder V has eaten 17 ice cream sandwhiches in ONE DAY IN ONE SITTING!!! 

Also I loved the general yw meeting, we got to see it, especially the little Korean girls singing I love to see the temple!!! The last girl they zoomed in on looked like a little China doll!!! 

CONSOLATE... me and my companion talked to two members, girls, who were our age in ESPANOL AND PORTUGESE!!!! (at the frontrunner station!) I could understand bits and phrases of the portugese, enough to respond! They came to America from Brazil to learn English. 

Also, on frontrunner, we talked to a lady from HONDURAS!!! In Spanish!!!! IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!! i know it was no coincidence that we ran into these ladies. The lady from Honduras seemed saddened by her families inactivity in the church. We asked her all about her life and she seemed to open up towards us more at the end of the train ride. As she left she said, "pray for me." And so I did. The beautiful lady from Honduras. 

Daddy, also i have something I want you to look up and read, it reminds me of Talmage and you, it's called, "I stand all amazed" by Jeffrey R. Holland from the Liahona 1987, look it up on LDS.org, and read the story that is about 1/2 way through the talk. IT IS INCREDIBLE!!! President Doman, my branch president met with Jeffrey R. Holland for an hour just a few hours before we had a devotional with Pres Doman, and he said that this was the story that Pres. Holland shared!!! 

OKAY THIS IS A FEW HOURS LATER TODAY.... IT IS NOW 3.18 p.m. 
So I auditioned for a musical number here and they're super strict but I made it but I have to cut my song down to 4 and 1/2 minutes intead of 6 minutes, it's a poor wayfaring man of grief. Also today I got to play my violin for a minute and this Elder in my zone who just got here a week started to accompany me IMPROV!! OUT OF THE BLUE!! ANYTHING I PLAYED HE COULD ACCOMPANY ME!! I started playing Ashokan's Farewell and he just improvs the most beautiful accompaniment to it! It was incredible... I couldn't believe my ears. It was fun. But the accompanist I have right now for a poor wayfaring man is great too, he sight read it perfectly the first time I played it with him! Wow.

Today we escaped campus with permission and went and got a burger. Oh my goodness after 3 weeks of mtc food I rejoiced!! See the pic and you'll know. Also we went to Jamba and this lady paid for us out of the blue because we're missionaries!! It was so sweet!! 

Also an Elder Nielson came to speak (not the apostle) and he works with the church missionary stats. He said that our group of 2,000 missionaries will baptize 10,000 people or 3 whole stakes!!!!!! That's crazy. He also said that he sits in the room when the apostles assign the mission calls sometimes, and oftentimes they pick where you're going by choosing which mission president and wife they think you will get along with the most after reading your description!! It's CRAZY!! He also said they were expecting the missionary numbers to keep going down but it doesn't, it keeps INCREASING!!! 

I love you all so much, being a missionary is not easy but worth it, all you young girls reading this letter, I encourage you to start thinking now about missionary service!! 

I love you familia, and I miss you often.

DIOS VELOCIDAD!!

Hermana Cook

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Running like a maniac!

FAMILY!! I looooove your letters and your dear Elders!! You will never know how much they mean to me!! Whenever they hand out the mail, it's better than Christmas morning when I get one!!! I love you all family!! 

Ha ha, so yesterday we had a lesson on stress. Our teacher made us go outside and have a race. I TIED FOR FIRST WITH ANOTHER ELDER!!! Ha ha. I ran like a maniac- in a skirt! :) It was so much fun! I was so proud of myself! :)

This week has been truly amazing, as all others. On Sunday, I leaped up to bear my testimony- in SPANISH! :) It was so fun and I was so happy that I could say what I wanted to say in Spanish! The spirit has told me over and over this phrase, "Hermana Cook, you know how to learn Spanish." I sit in class and think, "I can understand what they are saying! Almost everything!" Here I receive revelation. Here I receive the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues!! 

A few nights ago we had a Brother Schwitzer and his wife come speak to us. I wanted to share a quick story that his wife shared that was amazing! They were called to Siberia as an older couple. She said she had to go down a flight of 96 stairs (she counted them) with permafrost coating them, so they were more like a slide than stairs. And she had her luggage with her. She just prayed and took the first step. She felt hands holding her up like railings guiding her down the stairs! She testified of angels from the other side helping us every day in our missionary work and in our lives! We just need to look.

I have come to learn that missionary work is really all about love. I learned three things this past week that are key to loving on a mission, in life, and in our relationships: 1. "You should always speak the truth, but a lot of times it doesn't need to be said." 2. "Be the first to obey and the last to criticize. 3. If your companion sleeps in, be the missionary who has breakfast waiting for them when they get up, and not the missionary who pulls their sheets off. What would Christ do?

So two nights ago, three Elders in our district started vomiting out of the blue!! And it was the funniest thing ever. Everyone was trying to decipher what it was that they ate in the cafeteria that caused it, and we all decided it was the smoked salmon soup... yeah, never eating that ever. All us Hermana's seemed to be okay, but man it sure hit the Elder's like a storm. All the sudden we were sitting there in class and I looked up and thought, "Where'd all the Elders go?" ha ha. A few Elders remained, and after witnessing all the sick Elders running desperately out of the room, we all ate Elder Vanbuskirk's fruity cinnamon rolls!! We got so sticky with frosting and we laughed and it was the time of my life!! 

You are not going to believe this, but I was standing in the lunch line when Elder Wright, an Elder in my district starting singing that awful OBOE PART FROM THE "PHONE CALL!!" I wish I could sing it for you right now, I'm never going to forget how it goes now!! I was like, "What are you singing Elder?" And he was like, 'Oh, it's the song on the "Phone Call.'" I COULDN'T STOP LAUGHING! It was the funniest thing ever! He kept singing it and I laughed all night long! This gospel is the good news and we should find reason to rejoice and laugh and have a great time!

Last night, I watched the Elders work together to give my companion a blessing who is sick with fever and a cold. The priesthood is the most amazing thing! It is so good to know that there are young man out there who willingly exercise their priesthood when called upon! 

I saw Elder Reynolds and Sister Soderquist!! It was so good to see some familiar faces!!

Mom I saw this mormon message and you need to watch it, I thought of you and cried when I watched it. It's called, "you never know." 

And now for the BEST part!!!! I MET AN ELDER WHO JUST GOT HOME FROM TUXTLA GUTIERREZ TWO YEARS AGO!!! We were on our temple walk on Sunday, and I had a feeling to talk to this dude in a suit and tie, but he had no tag on. He was so surprised to hear that I am going to Tuxtla! He said he is so envious! He said that you have never seen such beautiful tropical rain forests in your whole life! (He's never been to New Guinea though Daddy) He said the waters were just so clear and it is just MAGNIFICENT! He said that since he was the A.P. for 9 months, he traveled to every area of the mission and he saw some diverse places! Places that other missionaries had never even seen. Up in the higher lands, the indigenous people don't like white people and when he was there, they threw rocks at him. He said they only send sisters to the safer places, so chances are I won't be going up in the highlands to speak Tzosilk. He also said that he walks around the Provo Temple every Sundayso he can remind himself of his mission! He is from California and has been studying at BYU. HE SPOKE TZOSILK!!!! He named for me the 6 different languages of Maya in the upper areas of Chiapas!! He said hello to me in TZOSILK!! He was the one who gave me the last two points of the advice I talked about earlier. (the criticizing thing and the breakfast thing) Sorry, I hope you can understand what I'm saying, I'm typing like a madman.

I would love to teach here at the MTC when I get back, but I realize it's not possible because of the time commitment I have at BYU. The things that the teachers do here are incredible and they are all fresh off their missions. 

So today I am going to the consulate in Salt Lake with my companion and a few other Elders going to Tuxtla!! I think it means are visas will be ready soon!! I'm so excited to talk to people on the train! I'll let you know what happens! Today I would've auditioned for a musical number but I can't because of this. Next week. I'll keep you updated. I found an amazing Elder Burgoyne who plays the piano!! He sight read "A poor wayfaring..." with me and it was great! 

Every day when I put my name tag on,  it feels so right.  It feels almost like a continuation of something I did in the pre-earth life! Everyday I long to become closer with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ! When my prayers are more sincere, Heavenly Father draws nearer to me. I just need to invite him in! 

DIOS VELOCIDAD!!! 

I love you and until next week,

Hermana Cook :)