Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Yay! I love missionary work. As the days go on i just am falling in love with the work. It may make some of the days long but the weeks fly by. It is crazy to think that i have already been gone for 2 months. Yeah i am thinking that it is pretty crazy to think of where i am and how much i have grown. Especially in the language of Spanish. I am in a full Spanish speaking area so it makes practicing really easy. The hard part is trying to understand what they are saying so i can give an appropriate response back to them. I am getting better and i practice every day to listen and understand a little more. The members are really helpful with the Spanish and every time they hear me they are quite surprised on how much i have learned in the little time i have had. The spirit truly is an amazing tool. I know that i am only able to speak and learn so quickly because i have the Holy Ghost as a companion 24/7. I truly am learning a lot, it also helps to have a Native Companion to help me just listen to him speak. I am starting to get about 50 percent of what he says and sometimes even more. As i listen and practice things get better.
   Another good thing is that i continue to see miracles in the Work of the Lord. We keep running into people that seem to be prepared for the Gospel every day. I can't remember if i talked about this person last week, but i am going to mention one of our newest and most potential baptisms. Here name is Iris Luna and she is from Puerto Rico. She is super funny and super nice to us. The first day we met her was just on the streets with our bikes and then one day we tried her door and she just let us in and we taught her. She was super receptive to the message and really loved it as well. She took a Book of Mormon the next lesson and was really excited to have her own book. She was just surprised and loving that we gave her this book for free. This last lesson we learned that her husband, who is in the Dominican Republic, just got a Visa to come into America. He will be coming at the beginning of next week. They talked and she mentioned us to him and He advised her to start Reading the book every day. He was advising her to continue meeting with us and listen to us. It was absolutely incredible to know that once he comes in we might just have another investigator. The husband feels that we bring a message of Peace and all of it is contained in the Book of Mormon. It is so awesome to see these miracles in a work that i have been called to do.
   We are having a lot of storm down here though. We are allowed to bike and drive in the rain, but once there is lightning we can't be out on bikes anymore. The beginning of last week we had 3 straight days of 2 hr lightning storms. It was crazy. We would end up being stuck in our house or in some public place for those two hours. We were on bikes for all of those days so we couldn't do a lot. One day we got stuck in the mall. Yeah we couldn't do much but look around. Lightning is crazy over here in Florida. I mean i thought it was bad in Herriman, but it is constantly bad here and they plan it to be bad. The rain though is fun. We get drenched during the storms and then it ends and we are dry within an hour. The heat just gets so intense after rain storms. Humidity is definitely something that i have to get used to. Good thing though is i am enjoying the fact that it actually rains in Florida.
   One cool thing about this last month is the opportunities i have had to serve. I think we have had around 4 or 5 service projects we have been able to do for the members so far. We have painted a house, done yard work, constructed a part of an extension for a house, and then we go and do the service of the Lord. It is absolutely fantastic.
  Yup the missionary life is truly awesome. I love it here in Florida and it will be hard to leave once i have to leave. I have grown close to the people here in Florida and i love them so much. It is interesting how little you understand of the love of Christ until you see it affect the lives of those who haven't allowed themselves to feel it before. Some people may not understand what the love of Christ and his Atonement truly is. But that is why the Lord sent me and other missionaries out into the world. We are to teach and preach the love of Christ and what he has given us to prepare for him. We are truly blessed to have a restored Gospel on this earth. We are blessed to have a Prophet who is able to speak with our Heavenly Father so that we can be guided in our Modern Days. We never truly know what is a head in our future, but we do know how to prepare. The doctrine of Christ truly is something that will have no end. He even said that the world and the sun will but his word never will. I can't remember the scripture reference for that, but it is said multiple times. I love this work and i can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me this week because he continually blesses my life with his miracles.

Speaking of Pirates, I just taught one my last P-day. You probably saw the Pirate Mini-Golf course right next to the Walmart. Yeah we went there

This one is Me and Elder Jackson in the Gallows....We were preaching the Gospel to one too many people...Maybe that was what it was like for those first missionaries. I mean a lot got sent into jail and things like that. I wonder how it would have felt if i would have been there all day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday PDay 05/20/2013
So, I GOT MY FIRST BAPTISM DATE!! YAY! This whole week we have been trying to meet with our investigators and everyone has seemed to bail out on us at the last minute, but finally we were able to meet with one investigator and got him to commit to baptism. I don't know if I will be here for it but it just makes me feel good that I was a part of inviting a person to come a little closer to Christ. His name is Saul Ramos. He is super cool. My companions found him a week before I got there and only had taught him once before. We were trying to get one good lesson these last two weeks but he has a super difficult schedule to work around. He is out of a job right now but takes whatever day jobs he can find and sometimes that even keeps him out for the night. Anyway, it is super exciting. We have an older couple that we are pretty sure are going to get baptized, we invited them and they seemed pretty on board, but they were going to start reading the Book of Mormon first and then when we see them next we hope to be hearing some good news.

Next off I kind of wanted to explain a miracle that happened in this last week. So anyway I can't remember if I explained this in my last letter, but we got a call last week about a woman who needed a blessing. The call was from someone who lives in Utah and is a member of the Church. The thing is she was calling us to give a blessing to her cousin who lives here in Florida and only speaks Spanish. The girl who called us told us that her cousin had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had just gotten home from surgery. She had received a mastectomy (I don't know if that is the right way to spell that). Anyway they hoped that the surgery took care of the cancer but they wouldn't know if it spread until the next week, or this week in present terms. Well, we gave her the blessing and she told us we could drop by anytime, basically a “mi casa es su casa” kind of deal. Well, we dropped by on Thursday to hear that she was completely cured! She didn't have any signs of cancer. She is still planning on going through chemo but it is more of a just in case thing. She has basically invited us to come over anytime and we plan on doing so just to check up on her.

Other parts of the work though have been pretty interesting. Recently we are having a problem with less-active members in the ward especially with Spanish speaking members. About 3 months before I got here they completely dissolved the Spanish branches in the stake and decided to have the Spanish members go to the English wards. It has caused some problems with some of the members, so a lot of what we do is go talk to them about how we can help them feel comfortable in the new wards. The other half of the less active members are ones that have jobs on Sunday. We try to help them out as well with trying to find the courage to ask for Sunday off or just try to find another job that would allow them to go to church on Sunday.

My companions and I are doing fantastic. They continue to teach me Spanish and continue to help me smooth into the groove of preaching the gospel. Spanish/English class that our companionship holds in the ward is also helping a lot. It puts me with the Spanish members and is also teaching me the basics of Spanish all over again. It really helps to teach English so that in turn I can speak better Spanish.

I am really loving it here in Florida, except for two facts, the humidity/heat and the bugs. Mosquitoes are attacking me every day. The bad part is, they never stop itching. They will be calm for a majority of the day and then next thing you know it is like a burning fire of wanting to scratch your skin off. Bug repellent doesn't seem to work at all. Especially in the houses of some of the investigators where they are seriously swarms of them. Bonus for living in bug central J.

The great thing is, no matter what happens here I just know that I am here for the right reasons. I continue to see miracles while I am here and it just proves that God is putting me in the right place at the right time. Times can be hard, but my time as a missionary is just beginning. I love my Savior and I am so lucky that I get to serve as a representative of Him. I am lucky to see the hand of the Lord in the lives of those I teach. One thing I have noticed while I have been out here is the open arms of the Lord. When we go to Him with a desire to change, He truly is there to push us a long. Some of the people here are seriously at the point of rock bottom, some in sadness and others financially or even some that are just having some barriers that they can't seem to jump over. Well, as I have seen the spirit teach and testify to them, I see their burdens become like air. They are truly blessed and lifted as the hand of the Lord reaches into their lives and helps them. I love this restored Gospel and I am so happy that I get the opportunity to share the word of the Lord to those who are truly prepared to hear it.

Once again sorry I can't get many pictures out, the computer isn't letting me do anything about it. As soon as I can get a few pictures out I’ll pass them along.  I'll be trying to get more photos of my time here in Florida but i keep forgetting my Camera at home. But there are a few pictures. Enjoy.

Some of the photos of the last week in the MTC, me pointing out my two missions at the map:
Also a picture of my district our last temple walk together as a district, basically our last day together:

My companions cooking for me my first day here haha:
My Sunburn after the first day:

The Nail that popped my tire the first day on the bikes:

The beds while our AC was out so we slept in the living room:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

First week in Florida

YAY! First week in Florida and i haven't melted yet. It is getting really hot over here. Humidity is a little different than i had ever imagined. It is encroaching on summer time which means that i will be blazing hot and sweaty. We were in an investigators trailer and by the time we left my backpack straps were soaking wet. BLEH.... Other than the Heat and the Humidity, I am Absolutely loving it here in Florida. I am in Kissimee right now and probably will be here for my whole stay in Florida...or at least that is the hope. If anyone is wondering where that is, let me just tell you that it borders Disney World. A border of our mission is actually right next to Magic Kingdom. One day my companions said we will go to Celebration which is the neighborhood owned by Disney so i could actually look at Disney World haha. One thing that i hadn't known about Orlando is how many mini-golf courses there are around here. In my area alone there are 7 different Mini-Golf courses...Wow.
   So the things that are going on in my life right now is not much different than most of the missionaries out right now. I get up, i get to work, then i go to bed. Yup pretty exciting let me tell you. The cool part about the mission though is not the place but about the people you meet. We have already had so many miracles happen when it comes to meeting people and inviting them to Christ. One experience that comes to mind is one that happened on Friday. We were on our bikes (By the way, we have bikes and cars in this mission. Bikes for 3 days then Car for 3 days.) and we were going to our last appointment for the night when they cancelled on us. We even had a member waiting for us to go to this house. We were so stressed about what to do for the rest of the night especially since we had promised to take out a member that night. We then went immediately to our first back up plan with the member, and the parents weren't home. We then went to the 2nd home and we met with our 2nd back up plan. She was outside of her house with some other guys that were living in her house. We were able to take her inside and start teaching the lesson. The member had a phone call and was waiting outside when my other companion left to go check on him. It turned out that the member was teaching the other guys outside house and taught of the restoration while my other companion and i taught this woman inside her house about the Holy Ghost. It was absolutely crazy. We got two lessons out of that one cancellation. We were really blessed that day.
   We have had a lot of success already in finding people in the area. We have 10 investigators at the moment and we are just so excited to get our 2nd lesson in this week. We are hopefully going to commit some of them to baptism this week, so we will see what happens. We have made our goals and we are setting our plans to meet those goals. Let us pray that they will give us the opportunity to succeed. There was this one investigator that we met with this last week, he had just been shot 3 times twice in the arm and once in the side. He could have died! Another one is a tough grease monkey who has met with Missionaries before, but hasn't really comitted to change his life, but we are having a really good feeling about this time around. One of the coolest parts about him is his name, Carlos Applehiemer. I don't know how his last name is spelled, but it sounds like how i spelled it. It truly is such a blessing that i get to meet so many cool and awesome people out on this mission. I love being a missionary.It is truly a blessing to be out here. I already have so many cool stories about my mission. I am now a missionary that has stories to tell. It is quite an interesting little journey. I love it out here and i know that my Journey has just begun. I love you all and i hope that you all have an awesome week.
  Hey i am sorry again for not sending pictures i brought the wrong cord and i don't have anyway of sending them. Well, i promise that this next week i will be sending my pictures to you all one way or another.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Elder Cameron Cook
5:55 PM (2 hours ago)
Hey family and friends. I have made it safe to the mission home. I will try to get my address out to everyone as soon as I can but I still don't know where I will be. I will be in a tri-panionship for a bit, but I know that I will be able to do the Lords work wherever I am. The Lord needs me here and I feel like it is right. Here are a few pictures of me and my group of visa waiters. Then there is me and my mission president and his wife as well. I love you all and I will try to get you my address here as soon as I can.
Love Elder Cook
Our handsome missionary, welcome Elder Cook to Florida

Got a call from the Airport bright and early this morning

It pays to know people in high places :)  Thanks to Uncle Greg the super TSA agent who went into the airport on his day off, at zero dark thirty just to let Elder Cook use his cell phone so he could face time home instead of standing in lines for the payphones.  Good thing he did too because Cameron called me again while I was at work when he landed in Phoenix and told me there were a couple missionaries who missed their flights this morning, one of which missed it because he was on the phone home.  I am not jealous of that conversation... "sorry I missed my flight because I was talking to my mom!"
He sounded great and looked even better (thanks again Greg, I love you!!) and he's officially off to preach the gospel in Florida.
Wow you found me!! Having a TSA uncle rocks!
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Gotta have a frozen McStrawberry lemonade while you can!
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Oh it's good to be a family!
One happy mama!

Official start to the mission, off to Orlando Florida!

So mom can't figure out the email pattern! Here's another that didn't come on P Day

I am already excited to serve a mini-mission especially since i get to try to convert Micky Mouse before i get to leave for Argentina. The hope is that i get assigned to the Spanish Speaking Mission there, but that is all up to the President there.

 Well today was the last day of class. We only have fast sunday tomorrow and that means it will be a nice day to just relax before i leave. Oh i am guessing everyone knows by now, but if you don't, i did not get my Visa on time. The great news about that though, i am getting reassigned to the Orlando Florida mission. I am already excited to serve a mini-mission especially since i get to try to convert Micky Mouse before i get to leave for Argentina. The hope is that i get assigned to the Spanish Speaking Mission there, but that is all up to the President there.  I am quite excited because one, i get to serve two missions, and two i get to be out in the field for a time and practice my spanish before getting to Argentina. Accents will be different, but at least i will be able to speak and listen.
   Our district is going to be pulled apart. Most of us are going to different places. We are all really excited for each other though. We have all come out a little stronger from this and feel like we have all lifted each other to excellence. We feel so ready for the Field. I really have a lot of reasons to be thankful for what happened in these last 6 weeks. I have my district and teachers who have really helped me live in the MTC. They have taught me how to be a missionary and they make me feel ready for what is ahead. I really didn't know what to expect for the next two years, and my teachers helped me gain a vision for what might be ahead. I am ready to help people turn to Christ and find the same happiness that i have in the Gospel. The next person i have to give thanks to is my Heavenly Father. In this group i should also include Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Through these three beings, i have become a 6th grader in Spanish. I can keep a conversation and bare my testimony with El Espiritu Santo testifying with me. I have learned so much spanish it is crazy. I wrote a whole paper about the first lesson, and surprisingly enough, it wasn't half bad.My teacher gave me a Super Bien. I am feeling really confident in my Spanish, i just hope that my Mission President will let me serve in the Spanish region while i am there so i don't lose track of it.
   Nothing much has happened since Monday besides the reassignment, but the one thing that i feel is really cool is just seeing my friends enter in to the MTC. I am running into a lot of friends here and it just warms my heart to see how many people have answered the call to serve. I know this message has been quite spiritual,but that is all i have been feeling these last couple of days. yesterday and today i just am thanking God for all that i have been given. I am thankful for growing up in the restored gospel. I am thankful for being a part of an eternal family that loves me and supports me. I am thankful that we have modern day prophets that are able to communicate with God and give us modern revelation. I am thankful that i get to have a temple in my Missions. I may just have the opportunity to see some other temples than the ones in Utah which i am quite excited for. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve my Lord and my God. I hope one day to be a teacher and missionary like Jesus Christ was during his mission. I can't wait to witness the miracles of a mission happen out in the field.
  Well, the next time you will all hear from me, i will be out in Florida. I am excited for the warm weather maybe not so much for the humidity. Well i love you all and i am sorry for not sending pictures this week. Packing is crazy. 
May the Fourth Be With You, and i promise you that you will feel the spirit when you turn to the Lord often.   
Love Elder Cook

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

P-Day changed and Reassigned

  Hello everybody, only 4 days have passed and i'm coming to talk to you again today. YAY!!! they changed everyones schedules at the MTC because BYU just got out. Yup that means my awesome schedule has now changed and i have another P-day on a monday. I am just so excited!*sarcasm* But, the bright side is i get to have a p-day on probably the best day of the week because everyone hates mondays.
   Not a lot has happened in these last four days besides the schedule change. I got my Hep shot this last week, that was fun. The devotional was really cool last night too. We had Steven B Allen, Director of the Missionary Dept. speak. He was really cool and had some really good adivce. Most of it was just telling us to hang in there because Satan has watched us grow up for 19 or so years, and knows exactly what buttons to push. We have made it this far, we can make it that much more. He didn't say anything too profound, just that we all have given stuff up and that is just the life of the missionary. We will be tired depressed yet blessed for the work we will be doing. It was really good.
   Well the last part of this message will be about the Visa front. I am officially getting reassigned. My name was submitted for reassignment last friday, or possibly today. Unless i get my visa today and i was reassigned to wait in the MTC, i'm probably going elsewhere. YAY! It is quite cool because when this happens we really get into talking about the why's. A lot of speakers talk about how our callings are from God, which they are. The cool thing is, he probably knew that i would be reassigned. The cool thing is, it just means that i have to teach a soul somewhere out there, that probably no one else can teach. God will need my skills and my talents elsewhere, and not quite yet in Argentina. I know that it might be hard keeping up on my Spanish, but i know i can work hard to work on it every day and i will keep up on my spanish even if that means speaking to a Companion who doesn't know a word that i am saying in the mornings. 
  Well, that is all i have to say for now, this week i have a few pictures from last week and this week that i  am sending a long. I hope everyone is having fun, i am. I love you all.

So i thought i would put some other cool stuff down that i have experienced so far. I remember then i forget haha. Well yesterday i was walking back to class after our devotional when i heard someon etalking about some fires in the valley. Well i asked him what fires and he was talking about some in the provo valley, i turned around and thought he looked familiar. I looked at his badge and saw Elder Hall...Well i asked him his name, It was Preston Hall from Elementary school. WHAT!? we had entered into the MTC on the same day and we are leaving most likely on the same day. The even crazier part, he is goign to Santiago Chile which is right next door to Argentina! That is absolutely crazy!
   Well, i just got back from the temple trip and i realized after the fact, that will probably be my last temple trip for a while, that is unless the place i get reassigned has a temple and i get to go once but i really don't know. It makes me a little sad that i won't be able to do temple work for a while. I absolutely love the fact though, i will deffenitly make it to the Cordoba temple. I am really excited to experience the temple especially since it will all be in Spanish. Hopefully by then i will be able to speak very fluent spanish....lets just hope so. My spanish is getting better though. I feel pretty good about speaking it, not so good about writing it. Anyways, i am really excited to tell you guys where i'm headed to next, because i am super excited to know where the lord needs me the most.
   Hey dad, this discussion is for you. I remember once upon a time you asked me who the personage that appeared to Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemene. Well i have been reading up on the Gospels recently, and i came upon the scripture where it brings up that the Angel came down and strengthend him. Well, i really wanted to see what other people thought this Angel was, so i asked. Well the most obvious answer that an Elder gave me was the Holy Ghost, but i don't think that can be possible with the term Angel. The Holy Ghost is not an Angel, he is a Spirit. Well, after a lot of study, we came up with two theories. Possibly Adam, because he was the closest to Jesus in pre-Earth life, but the thing is that he would have to be resurected and we couldn't find any real proof that he would have been ressurected before that point. The next theory is that it could be John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus Chirst. They were really close and we know that he must have had some sort of power to appear because he appeared to Joseph Smith. I mean John grew up with him and was the one to be there for his Baptism, why not for the toughest time in his life. The other two options we thought of was Moses or Elijah the ones who showed up on the Mount of Transfiguration, but we coudln't exactly pinpoint why. I would love to hear your thoughts about it and maybe you could find some scriptures to support another theory.
P.S. Shaving everyday is seriously the worst part of being a missionary... Sometimes i just feel like not shaving for a day, and that day is usually P-day which is great, but then i have to shave that night before we go to class. Yeah shaving is horrible. Just wanted to let that out there.