Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Message

Christmas is undoubtedly my favorite holiday. I mean, who doesn't like giving/receiving gifts, cards, hot chocolate, and if you're English, minced pies! And don't forget Santa Clause (although I was horrified of him as a kid) and reindeer and lights and snowmen (well, not in Tempe at least) but you get the picture. People are generally happier, even if Mums and Dads are under more stress. Oh, and don't forget the lack of school work for a month! It doesn't get better, right?!

Well, I'd say no, because really we should be filled with the Spirit of Chirst, and not simply the Spirit of Christmas. Don't get me wrong, the festive time of the year shouldn't be diminished in our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but we musn't allow materialism and commercialism dominate the true meaning of Christmas, which is the following:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

The spirit in the air should be filled with a love toward others, as that is how we show our love in return toward our Heavenly Father. As a father of mortal children would be ever so willing to bless his children for that with which they are obedient, so our Heavenly Father is anxious to bless us if we follow the example of Jesus Christ, and not rebel to put ourselves in timeout. That is the true spirit with which we should conduct our lives in order to fully utilize the atonement that was given to every individual who ever has and will live upon the Earth.

Let's make sure the Spirit of Christ(mas) lasts throughout our lives!

Merry Christmas!

Love you all,

Elder McCook

Second Transfer - Yeovil

Baptism of Nik Peterson

Things are going well in Yeovil. Nik Peterson is getting baptized this week, and we just have one more lesson to teach him. I feel confident that he's doing the right thing. He's taken the lessons earlier this year, but this time we really emphasized the importance and serious nature of everything that we teach him. Despite his young age, being 18, I feel he is prepared. I'm very happy for him.

Getting organized

Well, every day is different from the other on the mish. Some days go by really fast and are productive, and others slow. This isn't necessarily due to poor planning on our part. It's just the nature of the business.

For example, yesterday was the busiest day of my mission thus far. We had to write up weekly progress reports before Church, greet people, Elder Day was called on to bear his testimony, we taught the combined priesthood lesson, then after Church, the part member family that has been going to Church for a while asked for us to teach them (not until January though), then someone called us in the hospital for a blessing, so we rushed home, stuffed food in our mouths, then ran to the hospital (saves on gas, and it's fairly nearby), then we rushed back to the car, took a 25 minute drive to Glastonbury to visit some people, while on the way ringing the Ward Mission Leader, Bishop, and Relief Society President about the person in the hospital, then we taught an investigator by showing her the Joseph Smith movie (she wanted to see it) and committing her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, then drove to another appointment in Glastonbury while talking on the phone to missionaries in the district, and the Zone Leader, and a potential investigator that was having emotional problems, then we did some service for this less active who is wheelchair bound and gave him the sacrament, then we went home! And then, because Elder Day is a District Leader, we accounted for a couple hours on the phone.

But then there were other days this week that could be summed up by saying "tried to visit people, weren't there, then knocked doors, nobody interested, went home." What a variety! It almost makes life on the edge of your seat never knowing the fun in store. It's almost like a roller coaster, but you have to control emotions whilst on the roller coaster, or else life would be fairly difficult. I know of missionaries that let the roller coaster take charge of them, and it's hard, but I remember the things that are out of my control, and the things that are, and learn to recognize the difference and choose to act on the things that are in my control (circle of influence and concern). It may sound robotic, but that's how I feel.

Volunteering at the Brainwave!
(Steaming a pair of pants)

Another interesting experience was that, while working the till (check-out counter) at a charity shop called Brainwave; I talked with a guy and found out he investigated the Church in Bournemouth, but then moved into our area, and simply lost contact with missionaries and such. It turns out he lives on the same street in Gillingham (in the middle of nowhere) as a former mission president that served in the Philippines! So we're going to visit him along with the former mission president and see if he's interested. This is one reason for doing weekly service.

District having some fun!

We do have plenty of district fun, but it's kind of silly so I wasn't sure if you wanted any pics of that stuff - like fighting each other with foam swords. We got to do some bowling, and hang out at a park one time. There's not a vast amount of recreation available here, so we just do what we can. We would have more district fun functions if our district wasn't so huge land area wise. Our district is about 3,000 sq are miles, so traveling is kind of hard sometimes.

Elder McCook has an English Drivers License!

As far as driving goes, Elder Day has let me drive a few times in the past week. It's waaay crazy here. Like I almost got in an accident twice in the space of an hour and thirty minutes. At first, he was doing short 5 minute drives, but last week he let me drive from Salisbury to Yeovil. Basically, England is the most difficult place to learn how to drive. The roads are half as wide as back home, there's three times the amount of cars, no parking lots (so cars are parked on the sides of the road), and people will trample you if your driving is in any way timid. And there are three lane roundabouts every few hundred yards. So it's pretty fun! I just think of Chris' mission how everyone just walked everywhere, and that sounds heavenly. We all have completely different experiences depending on where you go. I'm sure these skills will somehow benefit me later on in life.

Sherborne Abby

Sherborne Abby Organ

Elder McCook's attempt to make Mexican food with limited resources:
English Mexican Food - pork and beans, Italian beans and sausage.