Monday, December 29, 2014

What better gift than a baptism?

Hola Familia! 
 



 
 


We talked over skype a little about the baptism, but there is more to know! Yesterday Mirna was confirmed a member in sacrament meeting. And the same night, Mirna was CONTACTING people in the street with us missionaries!!!!! No joke. One day a member, the SAME day a MISSIONARY!! Oh it was glorious! We had an activity where we sang Christmas carols in the central park here in Villaflores. And man alive we had a HUGE turn out with the members who came to help sing! This activity got them EXCITED ABOUT THE WORK!!  While we sang Hermana Mirna went out contacting, talking to people about the church. I gave her like 20 cards of El es la Dadiva (He is the gift) and she kept asking me for more!! Wow what a strong member she already is. I think we baptized a convert for LIFE! It is very safe to say that we will be baptizing Alondra and Octavio (the family of Mirna, her aunt and uncle) on the 3rd of January!!!

Contacting in Central Park




Let{s just say this week there have been angels protecting my companion and I.
 
 

God{s power is real and so are angels!!
 
 



Miracles are happening everyday like I always say. We have been teaching a younger girl here named Carolina for quite some time now. She has almost all the lessons, but she isn{t really progressing right now. Anyway we usually teach her outside of her house where her mom is vending hotdogs and hamburgers. And little did we know that all this time, her mom Fe, has been listening to all that we have been teaching to Carolina! And so we went the other night to teach Carolina and discovered instead that Fe wants to listen to us! She said lately she really feels like she is missing something in her life and we were able to teach a powerful lesson on the importance of attending church. She also accepted baptsim... wow lots of work to do.
 
 



I don{t remember if I told you about Fernanda, but it{s a similar story to what happened with Fe. All this time that we have been teaching Alondra and Octavio, Fernanada has been silently growing a testimony and coming to church!!! Well we finally began teachinger her because we got it out of her that she wants to here the lessons and be baptized!!! Fernanda is actually 19 too and she is almost going to have her second baby here soon. She has had a hard life but right now she is changing. We want to help her back to the path of her Heavenly Father. Fernanda actually came with us to the activity in the park as well, and she handed out 1 card of he is the gift to another person!! And she is only an investigator!! Wow I couldn{t believe it.
 
Angels in the Christmas pageant
 



I love you family and cant wait to send more pics of the baptism of Alondra and Octavio.
 
Christmas morning- Our gifts to each other!
 

Fiesta following Mirna's baptism!

 
On Christmas Day, we ordered pizza!


Love

Hermana Cook 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tuxtla Gutierrez Temple!!!

That's right family!! I went to the Tuxtla Gutierrez temple!!! Oh my heavens mom and dad I went to the temple and did a session in SPANISH!!!!!! Oh it was amazing!!!! Que padre... 


I think as a missionary there is always something to be learned from the examples of other missionaries. It's so fun to pick out the different characteristics of different missioanries and apply them to myself. One of our zone leaders here ALWAYS says, Que Padre.... And I love it!! It brings so much enthusiasm for the missionary work. If we get rejected by all 20 of our contacts in one day... Que padre, because we're gonna have more children of God to talk to tomorrow!! And que padre!! If we have problems with our companion... QUE PADRE that we can conquer them with Jesus Christ! If we feel like we're having a hard time, QUE PADRE that God is preparing something good for us around the corner, because God ALWAYS keeps His promises!!! And QUE PADRE!!! Wow what a life lesson to be learned from these 2 simple words. I want to learn how to say QUE PADRE even when it's difficult. Even when I want to quit. Because I have God and Jesus Christ on my side, I can say Que Padre. It's all about the attitude...



When I was in the temple I thought a lot about how my happiness and my attitude should not depend on other peoples happiness and attitude. If someone is unhappy, I'm going to try to be the light for that person.



I just have to do my best in everything, and literally I know that Jesus Christ will do the rest through the enabling power of the Atonement.



The other night we were in a lesson, and I felt the Holy Ghost working through me, leading me and guiding me in what I should say. I am certain that the spirit was doing some of the work. I'm learning spanish and the spirit is my teacher. I was talking to Hermana Hansen at a zone conference about spanish. She told me if I start learning all the phrases of the Chiapans they will love me more... And so that is what I'm doing. Que padre...



We have been visiting this family recently of less actives. It's a HUGE family!! ! We are talking like 14 kids running around in the street in front of their house. I don't exactly know whose child is whose... but I feel so priveleged to teach them. I feel something so special every time we go. It's like a feel God's presence just a little stronger with them because they are sent straight from Heaven above. All of them are around the age of 10 and younger. I just feel like all of them are REALLY children of God... It's so real. And QUE PADRE that God has sent me here to preach to these people here in MExico!! 



We were talking to the momma of some of these children and we invitied her to come to church. She pointed over to her house where there was an old man sitting in a chair, looking very old and sickly. She preceeded to explain that she has to tend to her grandpa, that he is very sick and he needs her help. She is the only one who can help him on Sunday. What are we supposed to do as missionaries in this situation... I just love her and we sang another hymn and shortly after we left. At first we didn't know that she was baptized. At first we thought she was another investigator because we had contacted her in the street. But when we went to teach her the lessons, she said she was baptized... and we were blown away. She has years that she hasn't been to church. 



There are children here who live in the street begging for food and money. The other day two ninos came to me and asked me for money. We can't give out money because it's a rule, but man alive my heart hurt for them. Also in church they pray for the ninos de la calle, or the children of the street. Please pray for the children here. 



I love you,



Hermana Cook

 

ALSO WE REALLY ARE HAVING A BAPTISM ON THE 24 OF DECEMBER!!! MIRNA!!!! MY FIRST BAPTISM!! 

 

 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Orienteering in Villaflores :)

Hola Familia!!
 




 
Wow has it been a crazy week! For the first time in forever we received permission from the momma of Mirna for her to be baptized!!!!!! I could not believe my ears when she said yes!! I am so happy! And what{s more, is she is going to baptized on December 24th!!! (Christmas day here in Mexico is on the 24th)!! We are so excited!! The day that Mirna{s mom said yes was the first day for my new companion here in Villaflores. My new companion arrived on Tuesday the 9th of December. Wow, we are so happy for Mirna. She has wanted to be baptized this whole time but her mom would never give permission every time we asked. Mirna is 11 years old. I will keep you updated on Mirna. 
 

 
Also, Hermana Alondra and Hermano Octavio accepted a baptismal date! They are the family of Mirna. The goal is for the 3rd of January. We have taught them almost everything, but it was a little difficult to get them to accept a date. And now they finally have. I am starting to realize that our investigators need to be walking to baptism. As missionaries we should not be dragging them to baptism. 
 



 
Well I have been navigating around my area since my companion is new. I feel a little alone sometimes because it{s hard. And since I am the only one who knows the area and the people I have been doing all the planning also. I feel a lot more responsible now than I did with Hermana Rodriguez. But God leads me on when I don{t know where I am. Somehow the spirit whispers to me where I need to walk or suddenly I can visualize where the house is. I need to recognize when this happens and thank God for this miracle because there is NO way I could do it without Him. This is hard, but I am going to climb this mountain, step by step, spanish word by spanish word, lesson by lesson, and day by day. "Godspeed" as Grandpa Holley would say.
 
 

This week there has been lots of fiestas and parades and confusion about Mary and Guadalupe... Here in Mexico, the "day of the virgin" is on the 12th of December. We were talking to a guy the other day and he asked us why we don{t worship Mary (and this whole time in my mind I was thinking... Why DOES Mexico worship Mary?) Well it was the first time I{ve been asked that question, but the answer seemed clear- refer to the 10 commandments. So we talked about how God is the only God that we worship. I think it went well, and we invited him to church.
 
 

Also as part of the tradition for the 12th of December, Mexicans from all over Mexico take part in "the walk to Mexico City." They walk and walk and walk to Mexico city over the space of one week. And they literally SLEEP in the street when it{s the nighttime. THey just stop and sleep at whatever location they are at and then continue walking the next day. It{s really weird... Anyway we were contacting in the street one day during this past week and it was starting to get dark and all these people had blankets and backpacks and they were all just bedding down for the night on the sidewalk for the night. It was the weirdest thing I{ve ever seen... Also there are lots of parades with moraccas and these people in creepy costumes and they like to saranade everyone they pass in the street. ha ha.
 
 

My new companion is 27 years old and she is from Puebla Mexico. She has been out in the field for about 8 months. She is great! I enjoy teaching with her. She allows me a lot more opportunities to teach than I had with Hermana Rodriguez. Maybe it{s because I can actually speak a little bit more of Spanish now... ha ha. I still have lots to learn. She had the dengue really bad in her last area. But she is doing great now and I{m excited to work with her. 

I just love Villaflores and I fear that I won{t ever have an area as Celestial as this again. I love the people here. A few days ago I was having a hard day and feeling inadaquate until I contacted this old lady sweeping her porch. She just dropped her broom and held open her arms and hugged me like a sister- and man alive I needed it. Oh how divine is the love of every woman- especially the love of a mother. Mom I miss you so bad and I love you. I wish I could have a hug from YOU!! 

We visited a less active member yesterday and talked about prayer. He hasn{t prayed in 12 years but we were able to get him on his knees to say a prayer by the end of the lesson. After he prayed he said he felt clean. I was so happy to be able to remind him that Heavenly Father wants to hear from him every day.

I{m also learning that teaching the gospel is knowing the gosel on a whole different level!! I feel like with every principle of the gospel that I teach, I am learning it on a whole new level. This is why they always say that the teacher learns more than the student. THe people here are teaching me. For me, teaching is the key to really understanding and knowing something. This is why I think asking questions is really important, because in a way you are inviting your investigators to teach you what you just taught them. If they can answer, then you know that your investigator really understood what you taught. 

This year for Christmas I hope that my gift to the Savior can be at least baptizing 1 soul into his kingdom. How great would be His joy and how great would be mine! My companion and I are going to work very hard with Mirna and our other investigators to prepare them well for their baptisms. 

How glorious it is to be able to say at the end of the day, "Today, I lost myself in the work of the LORD." 

Love,

Hermana Cook

P.S. Gracee ¿Como esta? ha ha. How is the spanish coming? :)


Monday, December 8, 2014

HOLA FAMILIA!!




Boy is Mexico full of change!! These first six weeks we haven{t had a baptism, but the next six weeks are looking very promising. We need to teach Araceli (the momma from the rancho) a little bit more before her baptism. But her husband is going to baptize her!! We are hoping for the following week. And yes there is a baptismal faunt in the house of prayer where we have our baptisms.



Well I am getting a NEW COMPANION for the rest of my training (training lasts for 12 weeks). We just found out this morning!! I am staying here in Villaflores and my companion is going up by Sancristobal to be an hermana leader (capacitadora) I don{t remember what it{s called in english... sorry. And I am getting a new native companion and that means I have to show her all the ins and outs about this area and about our investigators!! I am so excited and nervous. I{m so sad to be losing Hermana Rodriguez, we have had so much fun working together. But I know with this change I can learn even more. She leaves tomorrow, TUesday the 9th of December.



This week has been an ADVENTURE!! We had intercambios with the hermanas in Tuxtla!!!!! I went to TUxtla for 2 days with another American Hermana (who speaks spanish really well) and my companion stayed here in Villaflores. I learned so much that will influence the rest of my mission! The Hermana I was with is Hermana Juliana. She taught me how fun contacting in the street can be! Those 2 days I was in Tuxtla, we contacted about 61 people!! When I came back to Villaflores I was so excited and on fire about contacting that I felt bad passing anyone in the street!!  The day I returned my comp and I contacted about 49 people. And in total for this week between the city of Tuxtla and Villaflores with Hermana Juliana, we have contacted about 202 people!!!!!!!! My companion says that she has never contacted that many people in one day let alone in one week in her entire mission!! It was incredible!! I have learned that no rejection is too great, no frown too sad, and no person not worth talking to. Every person is a child of God. I{ve been singing that since I was a little girl... 



I love talking to people!!! It was so much different during the intercambio in the city of TUxtla, because we were talking to so many people, and so fast, that I had one person all to myself to contact and no companion to help me with Spanish. Hermana Juliana was talking to one person at the same time I was talking to another. I didn{t have Hermana Rodriguez at my side ready to say what was needed. It was all me and God. And I loved it!!! Scary, and a bit of a rush, but I loved it!! TUxtla is HUGE!! It is a huge city, fast and loud, with lots of cars and buses and lights and sounds and smells. IT{s very different than Villaflores...I learned the best way to contact is to teach on the spot. I taught a man how to pray on the bus and testified that GOd is real. We had to rush off the bus soon after, but he was so grateful. He seemed so lost in his life and I was so grateful to teach him how to pray. IT was so fun!! THat{s the real test for my spanish right there...



Back to Villaflores... There is a member here who I love, and her name is Rosy. She is so strong in the gospel. She accompanies us to lessons, and God{s love for her is very strong. Well, she has a husband but he left her about 10 years ago to work in the US for money for Rosy and his family. Well, he never returned since and Rosy tells us that his calls became fewer and fewer over the years. A few days ago she found out that he is now with another woman. What a hard life she has had and a difficult time she has to pass through right now. She has children but the youngest is 22. She is so lonely in her house and it{s so sad. My heart breaks for her. Well, my comp and I went to visit her to comfort her, and I shared this scripture with her: Alma 26:12 (look it up). The spirit was so strong and she cried... I testified that the only person taht really knows her and how she feels right now is JEsus CHrist. My comp adn I cried with her and I just pray for her every day. 



The other day we went to visit Hermana Brenda (the member who has the husband who drinks) to find out that her husband Carlos is drinking again. It{s such a vicious cycle, and what a grip alcohol has on its prey. He says he{s going to stop and come to church but he never follows through. He tells Hermana Brenda that he would rather spend his money on alcohol than on clothes for her and his children. Well we told her to keep fighting. And I told her that for now, maybe all she can do is tell Carlos that she loves him every day. Because he won{t listen to her read the scriptuers either... She is such a strong woman. THere are so many solo moms here. It{s so sad. While Hermana Brenda was telling my comp and I all of this, some music came on from the houses close by and then we all just started to cry (well I did ha ha) This all just seems like a dream and I feel the spirit so strongly all the time. And when I was with this family I knew it was exactly where I needed to be. While the music was playing, it was as if it was orchestrating the life of this family if only for a moment and again I couldn{t believe that GOd has given me this opportunity to teach his children of Mexico. It{s magic as Doris Day would say... 



It{s very interesting teaching the apostasy here because the people here are in one!!! Literally!!! When they finally understand the apostasy it{s like they finally understand what state they are in (at least this is how I think of it).



Well, the ball is just starting to roll here in Villaflores, and in the next six weeks I plan to work with my new companion to baptize about 6 children of GOd. People are always changing here and I have learned that anything can happen in MExico, but this is my goal. I will keep you updated. 

 



I love you all!!! Gabby congrats on baLLROOM!! you look gorgeous and i{m sure it went great!!! I miss you!! Gracee again congrats on hallelujah!! DOn{t stop the good work!! Talmage I miss you.



Daddy I love you. 



Love,



Hermana Cook

Monday, December 1, 2014

Permission for Baptism

Hola familia!!! Le extra├▒o!! 


I love hearing the people here pray for the first time, it is incredible!! We teach them how in the first lesson and then we invite them to pray at the end of the lesson. All of them say the most beautiful prayers. Here there are many different ways to pray. Memorized prayers, and believe it or not prayers similar to those in the book of mormon and the rameumpton- i{ve seen this way here and it{s a little weird. The people are not accustomed to praying the way we do, beginning with Heavenly Father and ending with in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. Also for a prayer to be a personal communication with God and that they can say whatever is in their heart is foreign to them as well. 



When my companion and I have problems, we work together to figure out a solution. This past week our water in our house was not working for about 2 days, so we couldn{t wash our dishes (which brings in the ants like crazy) and we had to use or drinking water (in the jugs) for showering. We just kept buying more drinking water until we contacted a mechanic who came and fixed it. 



The young kids here are my favorite if you haven{t guessed... They are so full of life and faith in God and family is the most important thing to them. They have much respect for one another in the family. Well we have been teaching an 11 year old girl named Mirna for quite some time. She has a strong testimony and wants to be baptized. I have grown close to her teaching english too. I love her so much and admire her faith in the message we share. HEr mother is a less active member. Her mom won{t give Mirna permission to be baptized because she doesn{t want her to fall into a less active life in the church after baptism just like she did. She kept saying no when we were talking with her, but we managed to ask her to pray about this decision and told her we were aiming for the date of December 6th for her baptism. I just pray to God that he will soften the heart of the mother. Time and time again we teach the young kids here, but their parent are firm in the traditions of their fathers or in the catholic religion or some other reason and they won{t give us permission to continue teaching much less than baptism. Because i love the young kids here so much, it breaks my heart everytime this happens. And it happens a lot. In this same day, we taught 2 young kids for the first time about prayer and that God is real. I immediately loved them so much. Well we commited them to baptism, and just as the younger boy was about to pray for the first time, (Jose) their mom came out to meet us and wondering why we were inviting her kids to church. She went on to say that they are JEhovah witness or pentacosta in "their own way". Well my heart was breaking for the third time, but my companion managed to schedule another appointment with them. Jose prayed and the mom felt the spirit and I think she likes us a little more now. 



It will be my love for the young kids here that will drive me to fight for the salvation of their souls. 



I love you family and can{t wait to talk through skype.
 
Love,
Hermana Cook
 
 
Beautiful Chiapas!
The fruit I am holding is called a granadilla. it has a soft shell and you pull off the top and its a slimy fruit with seeds inside. Yum!
 
Look at that spider!  She's a beauty! I just need more of them so they will eat the bugs that are biting me!