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!

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 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.