Monday, January 26, 2015

Selfies with the Tzozil

Wow!!!! Hola Familia!! I can now say I have run into the Tzozil!! For those of you who don't know, the Tzozil are the indigenous people who live in the highlands of Tuxtla. They live throughout the mountains in two areas called San Cristobol and Comitan, where it's actually a little bit cold. 

So I traveled up to San Cristobol with Hna. George and I bought some Tzozil made clothes (gorgeous- I will have to send pics) from a Tzozil woman who spoke a little Spanish. I tried to get a conversation going about the gospel, but she said her native language was Tzozil and that she couldn't understand Spanish that well. She was saling this skirt and shirt with a belt for 350 pesos but she told me she would give it to me for 300. What a bargain! And so I learned how to work the people down on their prices. I got a shirt for 200 instead of 250, and it was pretty fun. This all happened at a Tzozil market. I was with Hna. George while President was doing some interviews at the nearby chapel. I definitely know where we are going to shop when you return to Mexico with me momma... we are going to have the time of our LIVES! No joke this was a bazzare to behold! I felt like I was in the market of Zarahemla!! They had all sorts of beautiful colored clothing, blankets, jewelry, bags, and crazy indian stuff. It rocked. And I knew EXACTLY what you would have loved. I'm not kidding we could spend hours in there! All around me the girls dressed in Tzozil attire were talking in this clicky language and I was just surrounded by them in complete awe. They all just stared at me when I walked past. Ha ha I wonder why... 

Anyway the next day we traveled to Comitan (Sunday) so that I could play my violin in 2 different wards up there. And I MET THE GUY WHO TRANSLATED THE BOOK OF MORMON INTO TZOZIL!!!!! AND I TOOK A SELFIE WITH HIM AND HIS WIFE!!! ha ha. It was AWESOME!! They were riding in the car with President and Hna George and I. And so I had the whole car ride back to San Cristobol to ask him about the translation. There is an article in the Liahona Mexcio Feb 2014 if you want to read more about him and the translation. He has had quite a life of persecution for the doing the translation and even being a mormon, but it is the neatest story. He taught me how to say the book of mormon in Tzozil!! He told me that Tzozil is only 1 of about 13 different Mayan dialects that the people speak high up in the altas. I was able to play my violin for him and his wife, and they loved it too. Wow I can't believe I had this experience. He told me that only the doctrinal sections of the Book were translated, because that is what the church wanted him to do. I asked him if one day he would finish the translation into Tzozil and he said he didn't know, and that it all depends on what the church wants. He is such a humble guy, and I enjoyed talking to him as we traveled. His wife is a gem as well. Wow it was one of the neatest things.

The drive up to these areas is absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen anything like it. There are the most beautiful lush mountains dripping with mist and fog. It's like a dream. You just see all the Tzozil people walking through the cornfields and hearding goats. It is something you would see in one of those National Geographic Magazines that Grandma has. I hesitated to take too many pictures, because I wasn't sure how these people felt about some white girl flashing a camera at them. 

Anyway, I have become really close with President and Hna. George during this time, and it has been amazing. Presidente said he wished I could sprain my other foot so that I can stay longer and play my violin for them some more. Ha ha. He likes to joke. Anyway, President told me he wants to put me in as a Sister Training Leader in an area inside of Tuxtla! I coudn't believe it, I only have 2 transfers in the mission. But it's not for sure yet, but I will let you know what happens. I still might return to Villaflores. 

So you all are dying to here just what happened with my foot so I will spill the beans....

On the 9th of January I fell and sort of doubled my foot in the street in Villaflores. It really hurt to walk after and I knew I would probably need some help. It was a miracle that I got into the doctor for an x ray the very next day in Tuxtla. I got my x ray and was casted on this day, the 10th of January. I was told I would be on crutches for 10 days, and then after I would get a boot and walk on crutches for 2 more weeks. On this day I think they told me it was just a bad sprain. 

Well after the 10 days on the cast and crutches, I returned to the doctor. My foot was still a little colored but the doctor said it was a amazing how fast my foot had healed. (I call it a miracle) He said I wouldn't need the boot, and I would only need to use one crutch for the next four days. And now, today and yesterday I have been walking without crutches!! The doctor said I can go back to work on Feb 2nd. And I will build up my strength walking with Hna George, day by day. And I will continue translating for Hna George. She is still having trouble with her Spanish, and I translate just about everything for her. 


Love Hermana Cook. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hola Familia!! 

How in the world did you find out?? ha ha. Don't worry. I am fine. Yes I had a little fall but I have been putting ointment on it every day and it's almost all healed up- it happened about a week ago. I fell but I am going to be fine. I have 2 more weeks on the crutches and then I am returning to work in Villaflores with Hermana Allende. And so for the next cambio (transfer) I will still be in Villaflores with Hermana Allende. But for these two weeks while I am on crutches, I will be traveling with Presidente and his wife to play violin for various devotionals for different missionaries. I am excited for this opportunity!  

I have become really good friends with an Hermana who is named Lulu. Her life has been so sad, but I was able to help her strengthen her faith and she is just now returning to the church. Here is some of her story. She lived a dark childhood and has had a hard life. Anyway, during this hard time of raising her girls on her own, she stopped believing in God. She couldn't believe the kind of life she had lived after serving the Lord in the mission field. She cried to the Lord for help but felt He didn't answer. She started attending a Buddhist group and she started practicing Buddhism. She said that she felt the members of this Buddhist group were more constant and true at practicing their religion than the members of the church were. I told her while that may have been true, the doctrine and the teachings of Jesus Christ are perfect. She said one time she saw a family happily celebrating Christmas together. And she asked herself, !Does this kind of family even exist?" She has been without a husband for 17 years now. She has problems with depression when she thinks of her past, and a dormant cancer that she fears will activate. She said that she fears the street, the sound of the sirens, and even the people sometimes too. She has had missionaries come to her house throughout the years, but she said that they combatted everything she would say with scriptures, and it invited the spirit of contention. I think she just needed someone to listen to her and her problems. And so that is what I did. 

Her house is gray and cold and rather lonely. I was happy to play the violin for her the other night, because it brought a smile to her face. Although she has sought out good things to do to keep her busy, (crocheting shirts, learning english, and making soaps) she has spent many lonely hours, months, and years alone in her house. 

After she told me her life story, I helped her set goals for her to return to the temple, one for each month before she will return. I also made her a card contrasting faith and fear. Her daughter Lizbeth wrote me note and told me how happy she was that I had helped her mom out and that I was an angel to her family. She attended church this Sunday, and promised me that she would every Sunday. I just pray for her that one day she can find the happiness of marrying someone who will treat her with the respect she deserves. I love her so much, and it was a miracle that we found her and her daughter Lizbeth. 

I had the opportunity to play my violin in a conference for Elder Valenzuela of the seventy. It was a really neat experience!  The spirit was very strong. Hermana Geroge (my mission presidents wife) and I have become very comfortable on the piano and violin together. It is a great blessing to have someone to accompany me. And of course all the Elders love to sing along whether they can or not.

God speed family

Hermana Cook 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hola familia!

I love you guys so much! We were able to baptize two more people this week!!! Araceli (the girl from the rancho) and Fernanda!! They were both miracle baptisms! 

What happened with Fernanda was all a miracle. We were having intercambios with the other Hermana's when my companion called me from Tuxtla and told me that she had received revelation that we needed to invite Hermana Fernanda to baptism for this past Saturday. And when she said it over the phone, I felt the spirit tell me it was right. We actually hadn't finished teaching all the lessons to Fernanda, but she had all of her church attendances. So we headed over to her house (she lives with Alondra and Octavio) in the middle of the day and we gave her the baptismal interview questions. And the spirit flooded the room, and I felt so much love for her. I knew that she would be baptized on Saturday. She accepted baptism and passed all the questions. Shortly after we scheduled her interview and set up her baptismal program. And Fernanda was baptized Saturday, the 10th of January, 2015. 

Our other baptism was on Sunday, yesterday. It was Araceli. Her baptism as well was a miracle. We had tried time after time to baptize her and things just kept getting in the way. And also we never really had indentified what was holding her back from baptism. Well this time we went to the rancho and we asked her the baptismal questions again and then we just waited. and waited. It turned out she has a testimony and she knows all the answers, she just needs time after we ask the question to answer. We finally discovered that her fear is that she thinks she has to know everything before she is baptized. Wow is that not true. So we addressed her fear and encouraged her to be baptized and to not put off her baptism for another week. Finally she committed. We were filling out her baptismal cedula (I don't remember what it is called in english, but it's an important paper that they need to sign before baptism) and there was a lot of wind on the rancho. We finished it all (after much trouble trying to figure out when her parents were born) and the wind gusted and took away her cedula into the jungle!!! We thought it was gone for sure, floating down the river and lost forever. Well the member who was with us ran after it and came back through the jungle holding the cedula!! Wow what another miracle we witnessed. Araceli was then baptized on Sunday
After we found the cedula from the jungle, we were so  happy!

The past two weeks have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. I felt like I had given almost every drop of passion I had and at the end of the night, sleeping never felt so good. There is nothing more rewarding than getting on your knees at night and feeling like you lost yourself in the work of the Lord that day. 
This is my district eating rosca for Dia de los Reyes in the casa de oracion.

When you think you have it hard, just remember your Savior Jesus Christ. He has payed the price. He knows. And like Jeffrey R. Holland likes to say, "salvation has never been a cheap experience." 

I love you so much family and with each passing day I pray for you. Godspeed.

Hermana Cook
Dia de los Reyes:  they decorate the streets with palm leaves and balloons and parafanalia. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Are you angels?

Hola Familia!!

So we had two more baptisms on the 3rd of January!! Alondra and Octavio, brother and sister!! It was really amazing!! I was able to play my violin for the prelude music and for the hymns we sang too. During the prelude, I snuck in Ashokan{s Farewell and The Swan! And it was a fulfillment of my dream- to be playing some of my favorite songs on my violin, in a tiny house of prayer, just before two of our investigators were baptized. Not to mention the weather here lately has just been gorgeous, like a Paradise. I just felt so happy that two more of God{s children had made the decisión to change and to come unto Him. The Font was especially full this time, so full of wáter that when Octavio was baptized, the wáter spilled over on all sides, and flooded the floor where everyone was sitting!!! When he came out of the wáter he was just beaming and everyone made this sound like,  "ooohhhh.... aaaahhhh...." It was really neat. And Alondra... she is so ready to accept the will of the Lord. She told us the other day before she was baptized that she wants to enter the temple and do the work for her ancestors. She also wants to be sealed in the temple someday. After the baptism of Alondra, she bore the most beautiful testimony of Joseph Smith, the church, God, Jesús Christ, the prophet today, and the importance of enduring to the end. Wow. I can{t believe Heavenly Father allowed me and my companion to teach her. What faith she has!! She will be a converted member forever!

Take a look at how happy Octavio is!!  Like Brand New!!

This is a joy I cannot describe. All I know is that God is smiling down on all of His missionaries. During the talks on baptism, I looked up from the house of prayer (there is no roof where the baptismal Font is) and I saw the most beautiful tree with the rays of the sun lighting up the leaves. I know angels were near in this momento. I was just overwhelmed with the spirit. It's in moments like these that God witnesses to me of His Divinity and in turn, I offer a prayer praising God and thanking Him for my life. Us missionaries also did a special músical number with the words of Oh My Father to the tune of Come thou Fount.

We had yet another miracle this week. We were walking in the calle when we contacted a man. He started to talk about his life, saying that he has everything he could ever need but yet he feels so alone. He said "I am searching for a religión right now, and I want to believe 100% in God." And in my mind I thought, "Wow. This is a miracle." And so we gave him a Book of Mormon on the spot and invited him to start Reading it. We have been teaching him about the Book of Mormon and he came to church on Sunday. We met him on the 31st of December. And we are inviting him to baptism tonight, the 5th of January. I just can{t believe how God Works. Well we found out when he came to church on Sunday that he has actually atended church 3 times in teh past many years ago. And so, he can actually be baptized the 17th of this month!! We can{t believe that God is also allowing us the privelege to teach him. He is so ready and just desperate for answers. He loves the Book of Mormon along with the Bible, and has been studying it. His name is Cleofus.

P.S. They eat more jello here than in Utah! No joke. I've had jello for 3 days in the past week.

There is a member who lives here in Villaflores who served in the Tuxtla Gutierrez mission in the 80's.  You would not believe how many Cook's from Utah served here in the 80's.  It's no conincidence I am here.  This pic is one of the monthly programs of his mission that lists all the Elders and Hermanas.

I love you so much family!! Pray for my investigators please.


Hermana Cook.