Monday, August 5, 2013

 
P-Day fun at the beach!

 
Missionary Meeting


Miracles -

We're still trying to work with Adam, he's actually come a long way, I don't feel dissatisfied with the work we've done with him. He's gone from knowing nothing about the church and with various addictions, to wanting to be baptized and sincerely repenting. He just wants to be ready on his own time. Whenever we try to set a date, there's a member on the lesson who says "it's ok, you don't have to" which sounds nice, but kind of frustrating. It would probably be best to take a returned missionary on the lesson. Investigators need to realize how essential baptism is in the conversion process, and at least having a goal to work towards would help. Our main commission as missionaries is to teach the restored gospel, it says it right on p. 1 of PMG, and that gospel includes faith in Christ's atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Every lesson we have should increase an investigator's faith unto repentance and help prepare them to make and keep covenants with the Lord. That's all the gospel is about, and really our central aim and focus of missionary work. The longer I've been out, the more I've come to know that that is the heart of missionary work.

We had a miracle at church on Sunday. A random Chinese lady walked into church, and was very friendly and absolutely loved church and the friendly atmosphere. In other words, she felt the Spirit. She literally told us "I want you to teach me," and we said of course we could do that and we'd be more than happy to. She agreed to come next week. On that note, our chapel is in the perfect location. It’s right in the heart of Bournemouth, not to busy, but only a 10 minute walk from the town center and a 5 minute walk from the railway station. It's not too far from the university, and right next to a bunch of language schools. So people walk by all the time. Anyway, whoever is in charge of figuring out where the chapel should be, they did an excellent job.

There was also a French guy (it's a weird French name so I forgot, sorry) who's staying with a ward member who's really good with member missionary work, and so she took him along to the stake barn dance (which I thought was really funny, basically it was a barbeque with square dancing type stuff.) He was also at church, and I think he enjoyed it. We have a guy in the ward from the Congo or something who's French speaking and basically he was able to teach him the Restoration in French. Really cool how international the area is.

The Great Apostasy -
We have a Filipino investigator who attends the Iglesia ni Cristo, or Church of Christ. Basically, he invited us to one of his services, and it was pretty interesting. I've decided they're basically a combination between our Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses, affirming priesthood authority, restoration, prophet, etc but also denying Christ's divinity (just a man) and also we cease to exist when we die (which really just doesn't make sense logically, but whatever.) Anyway, it was fun, we bashed (friendly) with one of their ministers, and we'll keep meeting with him to clear up what we believe. Basically I explain it using Bible passages and then what happens is that he says "We'll have to agree to disagree" and says its interpretation differences. My testimony was affirmed that THE BIBLE ALONE DOES NOT RESOLVE DIFFERENCES OF INTERPRETATION BETWEEN THE CHRISTIAN SECTS, OTHERWISE THERE WOULDN'T BE THOUSANDS OF THEM. Thanks to the Book of Mormon and guided by modern day revelation, there is no question of interpretation. We have the flood of light of modern day revelation, and we simply use the Bible to confirm the truths of the restored gospel. The only thing our good Christian friends can agree with is to join hands to destroy the true Church and the restored gospel which it contains.

The three things that destroyed true worship and ushered in the great apostasy (and the resulting restored truths) are the following:

1. That God is a Spirit nothingness, having no body, parts, or passions, and dwelling outside space and time, and is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and is big enough to fill the universe but small enough to dwell in one's heart.

The truth is that God is the Father of our spirits, that he possesses a tangible body of flesh and bone, that by the power of His Spirit he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, and that he cares for us and desires and has given us truth, laws, and basically the entire plan of happiness for us to advance and progress like himself.

2. That Christ was just a good man who lived on the earth to teach us good principles and that's all, or that His Atonement is something that excuses us to continue to live in our sins, or any other such doctrine.

The truth is that Christ is the Only Begotten in the flesh of our Heavenly Father, which He inherited a state of mortality, while possessing the power to overcome death and provide the resurrection for all, and that power is given to him to forgive sins on condition of repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel. 

3. That revelation and the power of the Holy Ghost is something that was abundant in the days of the Apostles, but ceased somehow and is no longer with us. 

The truth is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and that the gifts of the Spirit are to be had by the faithful in every dispensation, and that God still speaks in our day. 

I am thankful for the restored gospel. I'm glad for those things I've learned on my mission.

5 things I’ve learned -

So as a part of finishing the mission president has us write to him on the major 5 things learned on the mission and a favorite scripture. I decided why not share with you guys.

1. The one that is most essential is obedience + fun = success. When we have fun while keeping in the boundaries of the commandments and mission rules, we are happy, we're blessed with the Spirit, and people will see those things and have a further desire to investigate and accept commitments etc.

2. The next one (related to the other one) is to maintain a positive outlook even if we pass through difficult times. If we allow the adversary to drag us down with him, we'll be miserable and less effective. A good indicator if we have good mental and spiritual health is whether or not we focus on positive, uplifting thoughts, or negative, sarcastic, lustful, etc thoughts.

3. We must have love for people, whether or not they accept our message. I've had many investigators where I've said "they're wasters, (which means waste of time because of lack of commitment.)" But I have to quickly repent and remind myself that they're children of Heavenly Father, they're not wasters, perhaps they are going through difficulty and we must exercise patience and love as missionaries. We simply teach by the Spirit and give them commitments, and then the agency is left for them to decide. However, we have a big factor on how people progress if we have the teaching skills and the Spirit to aid us and to give us the words the investigator needs to hear at that moment.

4. Another thing is that the best way to prepare for a mission is to become a missionary, and become converted before our service as a full-time missionary begins. This means getting converted and personally worthy and clean, making covenants and fulfilling them, and then sharing the gospel actively with those around us. Another necessity is to go out with the missionaries once in a while, or better yet find people for them to teach.

5. This brings me to my last point. If there's the biggest lesson I've learned on my mission it's this: missionary service does not end when I get released by the stake president. If anything, that's when it begins. Members are full-time finders and missionaries are full-time teachers. I've spent the majority of my mission finding people to teach, which is ok, but it's not the most effective. As members, we know people that we can share the gospel with in a more natural way, whereas the full-time missionaries don't know anybody. What I'm saying echoes what the Brethren have been saying for decades, that we need to work together with the missionaries in finding people for them to teach and helping to fellowship investigators and new members. The general attitude in the Church here is that bringing people into the Church is the missionaries duty, and it is, but it won't happen until we begin working smarter. Working hard + working smart will bring miracles and tremendous growth in the Lord's kingdom. This is the general tenor and message of the recent broadcast "The Work of Salvation."

What I’ll miss -

I will definitely miss the culture here, the food, dry sense of humor, accent, pretty much everything. I'll also miss teaching the gospel, although we still do that with home teaching and on a Sunday, but not to the extent that we do on missions.

Everyone's asking me if I'm happy or not going home, and I'm fairly mixed. I'll miss many things, but I also look back and see a fulfilled mission and gained so much from the experience. It is time though to move on to the next stage of life (Eccl. 3 I think.) I would say that there was a lot of happy moments as well as adversity, but we know that without opposition, we could never grow. That is why repentance is the central purpose to life (Alma 34.) We are in a probationary state in life, as we are within a mission, a time to grow and experience the trials and vicissitudes of life, and without them, we could not experience the good from the bad (Moses 5:10-11.) So in all our trials, whether mental, physical, or spiritual, we can take comfort as we place faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and are baptized unto repentance, and with the Holy Spirit as our guide, continue in righteousness until we overcome the world. This is a gospel of comfort, of gladness, and of joy (D&C 128:19.) This is how we become converted unto the Lord. It's great if we have a testimony, but unless that becomes a part of us and influences our decisions, it will not flourish into a giant tree but wither up and die (think of the potential of a mustard seed.) With the grace of Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ we can be cleansed, born again, and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. This is because in these last days, he has reached out in love and revealed Christ anew in our dispensation to the prophet Joseph Smith. We have all the keys, powers and knowledge given for our salvation and exaltation, and it is found in this true and living Church.

The most important witness I can bear is that of the reality of the living Christ. Although someone might say "well, you just read it out of a book" it simply is not true because the power of the Holy Spirit has borne witness to my Spirit that He is the Savior of the world. This comes from searching the scriptures, pondering the plan of salvation, and praying earnestly to know of the truth for ourselves. I know that without the Atonement of Christ we could not be ransomed from the spiritual and physical death brought into the world by the fall of Adam and Eve, or first parents. If we follow the gospel path, and walk in all the ordinances He has given, we will be at peace, and find true peace that the world cannot give, whatever may happen to us or what other people do or say about us.
 
Last email –
 
Hi guys,
So I'm not too sure what to say, as I felt the past couple emails concluded my thoughts, but I think for this one I just want to say that for one thing I've come to have profound love and respect for Mom and Dad, family really. The thing is, you don't know what you have until you don't have it, so being away for two years makes me realize that, that time is precious and I could have spent more learning from parents. The biggest thing I want to say is that I've realized I've come this far because Mom and Dad led me in the light. I don't know what I'd do if I wasn't thus guided.

Anyway, thanks Mom and Dad for taking care of me and loving me (and your other children of course.)

We continue to see miracles happen. We had a couple new people at church, a guy named Armin from southern Germany, and also a woman Vera from Switzerland (both here to learn English.) It's just funny because I've taught more people from other countries than English people. Vera was very nice and respectful but was way into her Catholic faith (always tricky ones) and so she wouldn't read the Book of Mormon, but she would still like to come to church. Statistically, people need several different contacts before investigating the church properly. You never know what effect you can have on someone even if at the time they don't want to be commitment keeping. Our responsibility is to teach clearly for understanding and bear testimony by the Spirit and invite. That's all that missionary work revolves around as far as application.

Can't wait to see you guys. Just crazy how little time. Don't worry, I've got some things to take home (physical) because I know Mom was wondering about that.

Anyway, love y'all, see you soon!

Love,

Elder McCook

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bournemouth

The Bournemouth Zone


Elder McCook "in the zone"



About being a missionary:

The work has always been tough for me, especially in the second half of my mission (who would have thought, the adversary is always out there to discourage us, and he'll especially work on the more experienced ones.) I've just really had to get help from higher sources including mission leaders and personal revelation. Despite how hard it is, and how we think that we're inadequate or the people don't care, those are the times when we learn and grow the most. This reminds me of D&C 122, that all these things (trials basically) shall be for our good. So, I know that the work that we missionaries do is not done in vain.

If one can just learn how to lose himself in the work, they'll be happiest. And the time will fly by. And they can look back pleased on what they've done. Sometimes we mow the lawn and once we're finished we look back and the grass has regrown, and this is what gets us down. Basically the Lord wants us to push the lawn mower with Him as long as it takes, and the promise is that we'll have joy and the missionary will be changed and sanctified, and his sacrifice will be an acceptable offering to the Lord. So I'm still working on that one!

Just one note, at the end of Ch. 9 of PMG it says "no effort is wasted." That is true. Think of Abinadi. He left his testimony before King Noah and his priests, and was burned at the stake! He may have thought he was a failure, but he was faithful and diligent and taught with power and Alma was convinced (by the Spirit probably) and through his instrumentality the church was re-established in that land. We are called to reap, and I wish I could see more of that, but I also know that my efforts are not wasted.

I'm thankful for this time to serve and for the things I've learned through experience. You can't know the truthfulness of the gospel by sitting on your backside (rear end in UK) but by going through life and applying the principles. It may seem obvious, but a testimony is solidified through experience. I think this is why missionary service makes or breaks an individual. Not to sound harsh, but it's true.

I know of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in our day. What we as missionaries seek to do is help to strengthen the faith of individuals, not to take away or change it. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can imagine and has given us the gospel and the church and family and friends to help us return home successfully to Him. Our duty is to stay within that knowledge and walk in the light for the rest of our lives.


I had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday, and because of an article in the Ensign (Bednar) about the enabling power of the Atonement, I chose that topic, but basically sort of collected thoughts and presented them as the Spirit directed. That was the first time I did so, giving a talk without a script or anything. The main scripture for the idea is in the well-known Mosiah 3:19 "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things..."

We are well acquainted with the redeeming power of the atonement, how it ransoms us from the physical and spiritual death brought into the world by Adam. We often forget that once we're on the strait and narrow path leading to eternal life, we need His grace continually to maintain good works. I have struggled to understand this concept. I, among many others I'm guessing sometimes forget that the process of "becoming a saint" is also through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and not simply the "putteth off the natural man" part. We need to do both, and both are available through God's power. To continue in the becometh a saint part, we need to always believe in God and His everlasting gospel, to continue to repent if need be, to renew the covenants made in the waters of baptism and in the temple, and be guided by the Spirit in the paths of righteousness. Essentially, we need to remember Christ. All that the children of Israel had to do was to look at the serpent, and they would be healed. Don't over focus on the poisonous serpents, look to the Master.


What I've learned is that Heavenly Father requires much of us, because He knows what is best for us. A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. Of course we need to keep the commandments and the covenants made with God, and it should be done out of love.

Elder McCook offering service by stringing guitar strings
(looks pretty natural to see him like this!)



Silly, Silly!


About world events:

I heard through the grapevine about the recent stuff going on everywhere, and yes, it's all signs of the times, isn't it. I first thought the explosion was linked to the bombs, but it turns out it was just a maintenance problem. I heard there was one guy who nearly missed getting injured from the Boston bomb and then went home to Texas and nearly got injured from the explosion there. Crazy!

If we are well rooted in the gospel, then there's no need to fear. One of the key attributes of Christ is love, and perfect love for God and others dispels the fear. It reminds me of a Mormon message where Russell M. Nelson describes going down to his death in an airplane and seeing others freak out, but he was calm because he was prepared to meet his maker. If we're temporally and most importantly spiritually prepared and walking in the light and sticking to the undeviating course leading to eternal life with faith and hope at the center, we'll have no need to fear, as Christ is our rock and foundation.

The work in Bournemouth:

So not too much news from the Bournemouth front, but we see little miracles happen day by day, and hope that more will happen (because we need them bad!)

We visited a less-active in spirit kind of guy, a return missionary with a family, served on a bishopric, but has some issues with people in the ward. We happened to be with a third missionary from a different area (too long to explain) and he along with us, but most especially him, rebuked this guy by the power of the Spirit, and he's going to reconsider how he feels and try to develop charity toward church leaders that are less than perfect. Kind of reminds me of Holland's talk. So to answer your question, the most effective thing in this area (it changes with each area) is to contact people on the streets. There's not too many people to where it's crazy, but with tracting, it's not quite as effective and rapid if that makes sense. St Contacting is a bit more fun as well, and with tracting, we've got a preconceived view of being Jehovah's Witnesses. (There's loads of them in this country) In my previous, more country areas where people mostly drive around, knocking is a bit more effective. In more city areas, it's the opposite. Anyway, it's good fun.

This area (I don't know if I mentioned before) is like little London, in the way it feels, it's international-ness. I've met more various kinds of people in the space of a month than I've ever had on my mission so far. They're from everywhere, but mostly spanish speakers.

There's not much in the way of nature, we're in a city type area, but the beach is really cool (Bournemouth is known for the beach) and there's gardens nearby that are also pretty cool.


Helping an investigator put together a bookcase. 
What? Pink tools!?!




Elder Chacon from Spain


Handyman McCook


We had one cool miracle worth mentioning. We received a referral, Gary, from mormon.org, called him up and sat with him an hour later. Gary is really seeking truth, and has many eastern religious philosophies, but wants to find the truth. He's taking everything in. We gave him loads of things to read (he's a big reader), but encouraged him to focus on the Book of Mormon because that's how he'll come to know of Christ's divinity easier than any other source. We did some service for him later in the week putting a book case together, and giving them (him and his partner) priesthood blessings as they're not well for various reasons. They keep giving us food, which I don't mind! They're solid. I see him and possibly her, if her arthritis isn't too bad, getting baptized in the near future. They're a bit older, like 50ish. I'll keep yall posted on their progress.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Haywards Heath - A new year!

An angel! :) Fun in the snow!



It has snowed like crazy and we didn't know what we were doing because I've just played in it, but not dealt with it like in every day life. We spend most our time now just offering to shovel people's driveway, pathway, etc. They spread this stuff called rock salt after you shovel it, which melts the ice (as it lowers the melting point. Chemistry 101.) Nobody likes the snow here, as everything shuts down, and people skip out on work, church, or school. Lots of that stuff is cancelled. We still had church this week though, but had to go home an hour early, skipping out on priesthood/relief society as the snow just kept coming down!

Miracles:
We had a miracle this week. We got a media referral through text, and usually these are members who sign up their friends for the missionaries to pop by. This time it was a young family not content with the answers the Church of England gave (like a girl in India was raped and killed and they said she was damned for eternity because she wasn't baptized, etc.) Caroline, the mum, remembered hearing about Mormons and felt strongly about looking us up. She agreed with all our doctrine on mormon.org and requested a visit. We visited with them the following day and they let us in and we taught and testified about the restored gospel, and, (lightly) discussed the spirit world in relation to that question about the girl in India, among other questions they had which we answered. They accepted everything, committed to come to church, to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and to be baptized once they know the truth. I'm very grateful that the Lord is preparing people to hear the restored gospel, and how the gospel of Jesus Christ answers the questions of the soul that we all have. The Lord will bring you to them, or He will bring them to you, and we were blessed in this regard.

Another miracle this week is that we finally came in contact with a former investigator Blessing, who had a baptismal date and everything, but they've been traveling all over the place and we finally came in contact with her and taught her. Despite us not seeing her for months, she's been reading the Book of Mormon and knows it's true, but she doesn't quite feel prepared for baptism (of course, because we haven't visited in a while) and she said she'd need to be 18 before she is baptized, which is only in March, which is just around the corner. Cool how things happen like that! She's also kept in contact with the young women during this period, which I think has helped out a lot.

Anyway, the Lord works in miraculous ways to bring to pass his work for our salvation.

An international mission:
 So there were a couple really cool things that happened this week. On New Years Day, we went to the Babbage family (they're from Zimbabwe) and they had their brother and sister in law over. They love America and Americans, so that made it easy for us to connect with them, because they kept asking us about our home. We had a chance to leave a "spiritual thought" which pretty much turned into a lesson and it got into celestial marriage and all that (kinda deep for a first lesson I'd say) but not too bad and we tried to keep it simple. They wanted to have the missionaries over for dinner and stuff, so that was cool. They're from Reading, so they're gonna have to be referred. It's kind of refreshing teaching people from other countries especially Africa where they have more life in them (they were all smiley, and hilarious.) It's kind of like Napoleon Dynamite and all the sudden La Fawnda comes along :)

We street contacted a guy from Uganda who said he'd been praying to meet someone to talk to him about Christ, and sure enough that's what we were talking about. We shared our testimonies and also introduced some Restoration principles with him. He's from up north of London and works down here (kind of odd, usually other way around) so we also referred him to the elders up there.

We also started to teach one of our investigator's Mom, who's French (she's really funny, it's hard to describe.) Her English is ok, but she has trouble understanding us sometimes. (only if only Connor were here to translate) Every time she sees us she asks, "So Mormons do the polygamy, right?" And each time we explain it to her, but she doesn't get it. It's quite funny really. Any time you ask a random person what they know about Mormons, they mention polygamy or Romney or some random thing they've heard. So that's why I stop asking people what they know and just go on to teach true principles that bring the Spirit instead of trying to correct their various ideas on what we believe. The Book of Mormon musical is coming to London soon, so that should raise some interesting questions.

If you ever wonder if this mission is international, it is without hesitation! Most of the people we teach are from other countries.

Haywards Heath - Ending 2012


Christmas Morning at a members house!
Love how they treat our missionaries!

Later in the day, we got to Skype with Elder McCook
while in Houston with Amanda's family. What a treat!!


(Early December) Elder McCook just had another transfer and will stay in the Haywards Heath area (South of London) and is still with Elder Blumenthal from Nevada leading out the district. He is doing great and enjoying a busier place with lots of missionary work! 

Commenting on a cousin’s new mission call -
“So we've got the four sons of Mosiah or the four grandsons of the McCook's on missions! When we were kids we always planned that two of us would be out at the same time, but with the age decrease, this is crazy! So cool! I wanted to go Spanish speaking and I remember Jace saying that I stole his mission, so we did a bit of a swap. Of course I'm very pleased of where I am. The 'best' mission of every missionary is their own of course.”

What a story! Incidentally, Elder Maughan - referred to in this story was tracted out in his early twenties was one of John’s best and hard working missionary companions. --
“Ok so this was so weird. We had Zone Conference this week and I saw this sister missionary at the train station as we were traveling with the last name Maughan. So later on I asked if her dad was from Sussex, and she said yes. So I asked if he served in the Dearborn Michigan mission (same as Dad’s mission), and sure enough he did. Just to confirm, it was back in '84-'85 time frame and it was when they did 18 month missions. I told her about how our dads served together and how cool Elder Maughan was and stuff. Think of the odds of us both serving in the same mission at this time and how she's fairly close by (in Hastings.) That doesn't happen every day I guess. It was weird because I was kind of asking around the ward because he was from Sussex. I just had to get a pic with Sister Maughan to document this.”


Here are some snippets from an email.
“So about the work, the ward is super, super, super, cool. The bishop is very focused on his calling, visiting and helping members and less actives,and we have ward activities and reach out nights where members go out and invite everyone to various activities. The ward organizes splits every week with us. Basically, they are missionary focused. We have mini ward councils every week after church, and correlation with the
ward mission leader every week. So good! It makes the life of the missionary a bit less stressful and more enjoyable if the ward is on our side. You feel a part of a team rather than by yourself. I realize this is because the missionaries previous to me were very good, so I can learn a lesson that trust with the ward is something that must be built if the ward is going to be on your side. We have about 20 on or off investigators in the area, so it's a struggle planning our time to see everyone. It's wonderful to see the work like this considering that this ward is in need of more priesthood and members in general (we have about 70 or so on a Sunday.)

I just want to add that the gospel is very, very simple. As I study it deeper and gain a sure knowledge and learn things in greater detail, the jigsaw puzzle fits into a complete whole, and the picture that results is actually very plain. We can focus too much on the appendages or the branches of our religion, forgetting the plain and precious truths taught in the Book of Mormon, centered on the Atonement and Resurrection and the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. We often get sidetracked, but I believe this is why prophets in this dispensation continually warn and exhort us to read the Book of Mormon every day of our lives, giving us intellectual and spiritual unity to our lives that can come in no other way. It's in that sacred book that we can get a refresher of that jigsaw puzzle, and though we build it up piece by piece over our lives (like learning new truths and mysteries that give us a deeper understanding) we need refreshment on the basic principles of the gospel. This is one reason I can't wait to go back to the temple so I can get that rejuvenation. But, most importantly, we need to do the gospel, continually exercising faith and repenting and renewing covenants made and enduring to the end, thus having the Spirit to be with us. We need to continue with a steadfastness in Christ, obtaining and cultivating Christlike attributes day by day, taking a step up the ladder each day, doing better tomorrow than we’ve done today. This is the purpose of the gospel, to reach where our Heavenly Father has gone and to walk in the light as He is in the light.”





Haywards Heath- Early Fall


Elder McCook and Elder Blumenthal
 Getting ready to ride!


After nearly 7 months in the southern area and rural country of Cornwall, Elder McCook has transferred to about 35 miles south of London in the Sussex County.

Our area includes Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill, among a few other villages around here. We get around mostly on bike (which is crazy considering how hilly it is here. Let's just say my legs feel like corned beef right now, or really really sore in other words.) We also take the trains, if we're going to Burgess Hill, which are really good. Public transportation in the UK is the best, it schools America, but that's because everything is close to each other here really and you need a car to get anywhere useful in America. Haywards Heath is not really a suberb of London at all, it's just a town. Everything inside the M25 ring road is considered "Greater London", but I'm not too far away. But I must say that the atmosphere, although like a town, is kind of like London as everyone that lives here works in London or Crawley or bigger built up areas. Lots of Indians, Africans and people from everywhere. The MTC is way up in Chorley, Lancashirewhich is possibly a 4 or 5 hours drive from here.

Being DL in such a district is interesting, as I oversee five sister missionaries (yikes! no just kidding), and two office elders, as well as my comp. I don't feel as connected with missionaries in the district as we used to have nightly accounting, where we talk about our day, but now that's just once a week, on Sundays. We're probably
going to have lots more Zone P-days and stuff, which should be really fun. They keep it simple usually, with ping pong and chair football and food or something like that.My comp is Elder Blumenthal from Henderson, Nevada, and seems like a cool bloke. I'm also follow up training him.

This past week was rather eventful as we locked ourselves out of our flat. We tried to get Calum, one of our cool recent converts to break in through the letter box, but that didn't work. Basically, to cut a long story short, we spent the night at the Zone Leader's, went to church all scruffy and stinky without a suit jacket, and ended up getting a small kid in the ward to climb through our bathroom window and unlock the door for us. No more leaving the flat without the keys!

We've got several people we're working with. Abbey, a 16 year old girl we're working with, really wants to get baptized, but her Mom won't let her yet. Wayne and Stash (that's a nickname) are also really interested but they need to get married first. There's some other investigators we're working with, most of them referrals from the recent converts Calum and Hannah (they're so cool). Calum and Hannah were met tracting and Calum's Dad is a member of the church, but Calum fell away a long time ago. When the missionaries explained the Plan of Salvation, he understood it immediately and loved it and always talks about it with everyone, and all his friends. So he told his partner Hannah, "I'm joining the Church, and if you don't, then we're splitting up." He was willing to give up everything for the Church. So they got married, were baptized and supplied us with at least five referrals, all of whom are being taught currently.



Summer in Cornwall


Elder McCook is doing great!  He has been in Cornwall (southwestern region of the country) since April 12th.  His current companion, Elder Corca, is from Romania and they enjoy each other very much.  They are on foot and their area is very large.  Elder McCook loves the ward members and there are several members who are key in reaching out and building relationships with others which helps the missionary efforts move forward.  "Findings" are not too common of a thing in his mission.  But, he recently had the opportunity to help teach and baptize an older fellow named Henry.  This was a very exciting thing for Elder McCook to be a part of.  He also has had the opportunity to serve as District Leader and Trainer. The weather there is somewhat mild as they are near the ocean and more south. It rains almost constantly during the summer.  Attached are pictures of wild berries and wild hydrangeas found while tracting.  The Cornwall area didn't have much going on this summer as far as the Olympics were concerned, but they did find a patch of landscaping which reminded them that the Olympics were going on.  


Elder McCook stopping to snack on wild blackberries

Elder Corca, Henry and Elder McCook
   Oh, how green it is!
 Summer Olympics 2012
 Beautiful, wild hydrangeas 

Testimony from Elder McCook:

So I've decided to just add my testimony that despite what opposition that the devil throws at us, the work will go onward, and I am simply a piece of the rock that is rolling without hands, and that the Lord is in this work. He knows what is best for all of us, and I know I am sent to this place, for thus it was expedient for the salvation of souls (D&C 100.) I'm learning a lot each day, and still feel I know so little and hope I put the gospel into action in my life and the life of my brothers and sisters, which is how we learn the best. The Church is true, it is the Lord's Church, and contains the gospel of Christ which is the power of God to the salvation of men, which is immortality and eternal life. My hope is for all to treasure up the words of life continually by study and by faith in our everyday
lives, continually repenting and living the gospel.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cornwall


A view from the cemetery in Hayle
Pool of water near the ocean in Hayle
Petting a goat at Paradise Park
Controlling some weeds with roundup.  
Elder McCook is getting pretty serious about this!
Scraping wallpaper at a members home.  Looks like he is serving with a smile! :)
A very silly district!
Now a very serious district!

So, with Cornwall, things are a bit like Yeovil but not really.
Firstly, we don't have a car so that means walking and bussing, which
also means more opportunities to talk to people! I've had some fun
experiences already. I make an effort to try to talk to at least one
person on the bus each time we take it. So far, I've had experiences
ranging from return appointments to a conversation I had with a man on
the bus: Me - "So where are you headed to today?" Random guy - "That's
none of your business" ........ Me - "Not very good weather today, is
it?" Man - "No." End of conversation. And then awkward sitting there
for 30 minutes.

But for example, this morning, I chatted to this guy named Dan who's
really cool, very talented, but I can tell his life isn't where he
wants it to be. We got a return appointment with him.

The thing with missionary work is this: We need to be warm to our
neighbor before we warn our neighbor. With knocking, that isn't very
easy to do, plus we are mistaken for Jehovah's Witnesses 90% of the
time. Sure, I'll still do that, but when you've got someone on a bus
who is just as bored as you are who will be on there for half an hour
with the opportunity to simply have a fun chat, then it's amazing and
you can actually find people who are prepared. But you have to be
courageous as you will encounter people like the guy I mentioned
earlier who is just kinda bleh. It just takes faith.

Some really cool stuff has been happening, especially in the Zone. We
have a miracle zone conference call every once in a while and we had
one last night where each area shared a miracle. About five areas said
that yesterday they had one or more less active members return to
church that hadn't gone in several years at least! (one of them 30
years.) Yesterday a random guy walked up to us and said that he was
meeting with the Elders and had an addiction to cannabis, smoking, and
porn but he wanted to give that up and get baptized. He's living in
Penzance so we forwarded him onto the missionaries in our district in
Helston. Cool stuff!