New Development

Dear Family and Friends,

Josh is so thankful for all of your support; for your letters, comments, and efforts to stay in touch with him through this blog and other ways.

The missionaries in Joshua’s area (the Europe East Area) have been asked to limit their internet correspondence and communication to their families for now.  This means we will not be posting more updates until further notice.

He said he would be pleased to receive and respond to mail sent through the postal service.    He can be reached in the following ways:

Elder Joshua M Cook
Armenia Yerevan Mission
Vratsakan #5
0051 Yerevan, Armenia

Or www.DearElder.com provides a FREE pouch mail service.
>Select Armenia Yerevan Mission from the homepage drop down menu
>Click “Write a Letter”
>Fill in the return address information along with “Elder Joshua Cook” in the boxes
>Copy and paste your letter and off it goes – No international stamp required!

DearElder.com prints and mails these letters free of charge, and they will generally reach Joshua quite quickly as they have a point of operation within his area.

Again, thank you for all of the support you provide to Josh.

We’ll post any major news or announcements here as they come to our attention.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Harmony

April 12, 2012 – Gyumri, Week 11
Harmony

Fun Cultural Fact

This week was Easter weekend. In Armenia, on Easter Sunday they replace “Hello” with another greeting, “Kristos@ Haryav I merrelots”. Which means, “Christ was resurrected for the dead”. In response they will say “Orhnyal harutsyan Kristosi”. Which is translated, “blessed be the resurrection of Christ”?

This week I’d like to tell of an experience that I had. It is a delicate subject; it involves the Lord working in mysterious ways, as the scriptures so often state.

I fasted for a few things this sat/sun. I was fasting for a man who had received a powerful answer to his prayer concerning the Book of Mormon. It is not my place to share what he saw. But, he knows that the Lord answers prayers. He also knows that the Book of Mormon, just as the Bible is the Word of God, is Holy Scripture. He has been having family problems, his son returned from the army temporarily because of health problems. His work has been calling him into work more and more. I prayed that God would give him the means to both provide for his family and meet with us, if that was his will. On Sunday we learned that he had gotten sick. He had heard a few things about priesthood blessings and asked that we could help him understand that more. We directed him to James 4:14-17. He asked us to give him a blessing of healing. He invited us over to meet his family. They have special spirits; there is warmth about them that I have only felt around a select few of the Armenians that I know. They are meek and intelligent, smart and yet humble. The Lord blesses us when we fast and pray. When we seek to help any of God’s children he will guide us to know what steps we can take to fulfill his will

God knows what this family needs. God knows what brings true happiness. There is temporary happiness, which is the happiness that the scriptures describe as the natural man. The happiness that is divinely given comes from a unity of the body and the spirit. Sadness comes from a lack of harmony between our bodies and spirits. This can come from physical sickness, sin, the lack of fulfilling certain duties (parental, family, social, religious, etc). Our spirits are the offspring of the Almighty, Heavenly Father. If we want to know how to be happy we must do as he directs us, because he knows how we can create that harmony within ourselves. He sent Christ to provide a way to heal our spirits from the wounds and blemishes of sin. Through Christ every physical, mental and spiritual deficiency can be made whole. I know that to be true, because I have felt that healing power.

If you are sad, or in pain or do not feel the pure joy that God can give pray to know what you must do to create that harmony. Listen, the spirit will work in you and bring thoughts to your mind. Don’t shrug those thoughts away, act on them. When you have completed that task, repent the process of asking and then acting. This will lead you to the pure and everlasting joy that God is waiting to give you.

Elder Cook

Posted in Elder Connor, Gyumri | Leave a comment

The Penitent Man

April 6, 2012 – Gyumri, Week 10 Continued
The Penitent Man

This week the Lord saw fit to bless us with one of his elect. Artash, a man we had met with last week, agreed to come to church. Before the sacrament was passed he asked me, ” I have been smoking, can I partake?” It hurt  inside, but I gently explained that it might be better if he didn’t partake this week. He had a very spiritual experience at church, during each of the meetings . He recognized the spirit working in him. Before priesthood started he asked if we could meet after church to pray for him, to quit smoking. We taught a small lesson on the Word of Wisdom, set a goal for baptism. After Elder Lush prayed for him, he humbly asked if he could pray. I was blown away. The spirit was so sweet and tangible and I forgot all of last weeks pain. The price was worth it. I could not have imagined a more prepared man. Now I can see what God can do if we will humble ourselves.

Sacrament Meeting is the most important meeting in the church. That is where we can receive the most precious direction from our Heavenly Father through his Holy Spirit.

Love,
Elder Cook

Posted in Elder Connor, Gyumri | Leave a comment

Divine Influence

March 19, 2012 – Gyumri, Week 8
Divine Influence

We went to this church last monday. It was beautiful.  I feel a sorrow to see other religions who lack the understanding of the need to serve. We cannot find what the scriptures refer to as ” a fullness of joy” unless we begin to forget ourselves and serve others. Serving others is the only way to serve God. It is the only way that we can try to “pay him back”. I think this is understood mostly by parents, however I wouldn’t know. I have come to learn a little here in Armenia. But we must find a balance between our work, family, others and ourselves.

I have been learning a lot about the role of the Holy Ghost. I have come to a greater understanding as I have learned about why Christ said
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is aexpedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the bComforterwill not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
12 I have yet many things to asay unto you, but ye cannot bbear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the aSpirit of truth, is come, he will bguide you into all ctruth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will dshew you things to come.
14 He shall aglorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
(John 16:7, 12-14)

Sacrament Meeting is the most important meeting in the church. I have come to realize that it is because of the spirit. When we partake of the sacramnet which has been blessed by those who have recieved the authority of God to do so, we renew our baptisimal covenant/promise. Therefore, in return we recieve the oppurtunity to have the Spirit’s constant companionship. The spirit is the most important gift in this life, because without it we cannot recieve the rest of the gifts that God wants to give us.
We can recieve answers to questions, learn and receive other spiritual gifts from him. I have noticed that as I have prayed for his influence and guidance he has influenced my thoughts and decisions more fully. I did not realize that what I was thinking was acutally the spirit working within me, until I did what I thought was right and saw the results.
We were walking home from a meeting on tuesday night, when almost randomly one of us pointed out another path. We sort of agreed that it was a faster route, but after finding and meeting certain people on that path that night we realized that we were under the influence of the spirit and we didnt’ even know it. In that moment of decision we connected our change in thought process with logic but I know that it was not a coincidence that we felt a small need to go the way that we went. Righteous and worthy disciples will be under the influence of the spirit without fully realizing it. This is how God blesses us for obeying his commandments and entering into the covenant of baptism. He gives us the spirit, who knows all things. All things.

We found a lot this week. more than I have ever found in my mission. I would accredit that to our reliance on the spirit. We didn’t do anything more than our best. normally our best would have resulted in a zero. But when the spirit is involved our efforts are magnified. We met a young man who just became a father. I thought our conversation was normal. I didn’t think he was very interested, but was willing to exchange numbers. It turns out he was really excited and within a few hours started texting us. We met with him on sunday, he brought his brother. He has already prayed and he is learning how prayer can bless his family and especially his four month old daughter who just got sick. The spirit is the key to knowing what we need to do in a given situation. The question is whether we are ready to follow or worthy of the direction he wants to give us.

Pray for that which is most important.
Elder Cook

Posted in Elder Connor, Gyumri | Leave a comment

The Battle Between Light and Darkness

March 12, 2012 – Gyumri, Week 7
The Battle Between Light and Darkness

We set high goals for next week. It is not only a matter of what we can do, it is also a matter of what God can do. We must find and we have agreed to sacrifice what it takes to reach our goals. We have committed ourselves to speak to everyone with love, power and authority.

Elder Connor is learning quickly. He is humble and is a great listener. He is not scared to try new things. I have found that as I have sought to be guided by the spirit, he has learned more about how to recognize the spirit. I hope he can build his faith now so that he will find and baptize many people throughout his mission. It is easier to expect less than excellent, he is learning to shoot for the stars. My love for him increases as I pray for him and see the good. He looks up to me and I pray that I can place him on higher ground for the rest of his mission.

Here are some thoughts from this week, they aren’t organized in any specific order.

This week I had a very intense experience. I have been under a lot of pressure this week, which was to some degree self-imposed. I have been trying very consciencously to be patient and to forget myself. I have been seeking peace in being grateful, especially for the my hardships. Last night I was sick and tired and I had made a mistake in an accounting processes when  I got a call from one of my leaders. This leader was irritated and told me everything I did wrong. I explained a little bit, but desided that it wasn’t needed to defend myself, so I apologized and said good night. I was fighting an inner battle. The natural man in me wanted to be angry at this leader and then the spirit was fighting to be patient and forgiving. I took the oppurtuinty to teach Elder Connor saying, ” as a leader you will feel the weight and pressure of your responsibility, be careful not to speak when you are irritated and don’t take it personally if one of your leaders feels that pressure and takes it out on you accidently”. I’m not telling this to boast or to show that I am forgiving. Rather I want to share what I was feeling as I went through this process of apologizing, teaching and forgiving. I was crying and I felt a physical battle happening inside of me. I was not crying because of what my leader had said, rather I was crying in an emotional and phsyical battle. Satan and our natural selfs will seek to satisfy selfish and self-centered desires, but we must not let darkness fill us. We must let the spirit child of God within us fill us with light and dismiss the darkness that too easily enters our hearts.

This week was, in many ways, disappointing. But, the Lord blessed us with those ‘back-door blessings’ and has reassured me. I have been thinking a lot about what I need to do better in order to become worthy to find the elect and baptize in the way that President Kimball envisioned missionary work. The need for the spirit in the work is more than vital. Without the spirit we cannot teach, nor can we find, nor can we baptize unto repentance and conversion. That has been my personal focus these last two weeks. I have been working on doing something that F. Enzio Bushe said. He said, “ there are always hundreds of different desires fighting for supremecy with us. The act of categorizing them is a very painful, but needful process to become in the eyes of God a mature person.” This has caused me to ponder/ask in almost every situation, “ What is the spirit trying to tell me?” We have been led by the spirit more and more. During our last meeting of the week the Lord gave me a very clear answer to my prayer, “What must we do this week in order to find your chosen children?”. I was told that I need to open my mouth more. I need to project my spirit and speak with more love power and authority.

Elder Cook

Posted in Elder Connor, Gyumri | Leave a comment

He Did Visit Me

March 5, 2012 – Gyumri, Week 6
He Did Visit Me

Family and Friends ,
We have received some instruction. I am not permitted to write anyone outside of my family over the internet (This is to help us maintain better focus on the work). But, I would love to hand-write letters. In fact I have been wanting to. If you would like to read these weekly emails you can read them on https://armeniamission.wordpress.com/

I have been finding a balance in my studies. Something that can be a struggle at times. The spirit’s guidance has been such a blessing. The revelation that he has given me during planning, praying and accountability each night has been tremendous. I try very hard to avoid contention and sometimes that creates contention within myself which can drive the Holy Ghost’s influence away. In humbling myself I have been able to recieve his guidance in resolving contentions or inbalances in our companionship. Before my mission I thought that humility was one of my strengths. In some ways it was. But, I have learned that there is a huge difference between humility before men and humility before God. I know that the Lord is and will continue to teach me humility. In pondering this subject I have learned that I may have chosen/asked for asthma in the pre-existance as a way to humble me throughout my earth-life. I may have known that I needed to be humbled both physically and spiritually.

This oppurtunity to train has been a humbling experience too. I have had to humble myself more then ever, in order to teach and correct with the love the Elder Connor needs. He is doing great. He has changed so much and made many sacrifices in order to come on a mission. He is still trying to make those changes that will bring him into a greater harmony with the spirit. He is very teachable and diligent in accomplishing a task that he is given.

I have had somewhat of a worry. However I feel that “worry” is not the right word. A better way to say it is, I have been very aware of a potential danger. The concern is that the spirit isn’t working with our investigators as much as he could. I have been praying and studying fervently for his influence in the work, especially with the investigators. I thought I was doing something wrong, but yesterday the Lord answered my prayer quite clearly he showed me. It was amazing and very humbling. Our investigators that we have had high hopes for were under the influence of the spirit and so were we. There was an energy in our lessons, a light to our understandings. Gevorg bore his testimony at church about how God led him and the missionaries to the same place, He said that he would like to be baptized on the 24th of this month. Hovsep, an 11 year old boy, understood the key doctrines to the Plan of Salvation and the Spirit guided the whole lesson and helped Elder Connor speak the clearest Armenian that I have heard him speak. Moris has decided to skip soccor practice in order to attend church next week. I was so thankful for the spirit. Without the spirit in our lives we are nothing.

I was studying in 1 Nephi chapter 2, where Nephi prays to know whether his father was speaking the truth or not,

“16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.”

I always guessed that this “visit” wasn’t always literal.  I never saw evidence of it until this week. When the prophets/sciptures say “God did visit me” It can be literal and it can mean that the spirit did visit them. In this case it was the spirit. The prophets learn the Gospel by praying and reading and serving, just as we do. They just recognize the spirit and give heed to it’s promptings more then we do.

” 17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.”

That’s all I feel the need to share this week. I hope it was beneficial and enlightening. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. He has visited me many times. I know that we can learn to recognize the spirit notwithstanding the fact that his voice is mild and the world’s voice is loud. God wants to visit us and guide us. Ask and ye shall recieve.
Elder Cook

Posted in Elder Connor, Gyumri | Leave a comment

Bad Luck…

February 27, 2012 – Gyumri, Week 5
Bad Luck…

This week was full of miracles. The miracles always followed what seemed to be bad luck. But each day we returned home and reflected on what happened. We realized later that the appointments that “fell-through” each day, actually opened up greater opportunities.

It started with our first meeting of the week. We were planning on participating in a Family Home Evening. They called us about five minutes before it started and canceled. So we called two women with whom we had spoken the day before. They agreed to meet. They were very surprised that we believed in God and that we believed in the Holy Ghost. Their father had just passed away a few months ago and we were able to talk about the Plan of Salvation that Heavenly Father designed for our families. We promised them that if they listened to our message that they would know what they needed to do to see their father/husband again.

Then the next day all of our appointments fell through. We did a lot of walking and at the end of the day we were coming back from our only meeting when we felt the need to enter a little neighborhood called “Moosh”. We were walking into an apartment building to contact a man who had shown interest in our message (we will say his name is George). As we were walking into the entrance a man walked was walking out. We had met him before, (we will say his name was Albert). We talked to him again and invited him to watch the Finding Faith in Christ DVD. We walked up the stairs to the top floor. As we were about to knock on George’s door we heard Albert call for us. We walked down to the second floor. He said, “Come in I want you to meet my family”.

Now we are teaching him, his younger brother and mother. The Lord will guide his prepared children to his servants. This is the Lord’s work and his angels are round about us.

Elder Connor and Elder Cook

We met with a man (we will say his name John) this week that has been in-active for a few years. We explained to him that we needed his help in teaching the members and investigators. After the meeting he didn’t have any plans so he came with us and helped us find the address of an old investigator. What was amazing is that John knew the man that lives in the old investigator’s house. The old investigator had moved but we have started teaching John’s friend and his wife.

I have seen what God and his angels can do. God does give us commandments to make us suffer, he gives us commandments because he knows the blessings that we will receive if live in greater harmony with his gospel. He knows what we need to do in order to have lasting happiness. He knows what we need to do to become worthy of performing miracles. He wants to send his angels to help us raise our families and serve each other. As Jacob said, “ Oh be wise, what can I say more”

I pray that you will be blessed with the eyes to see the angels’ work in your life.

Elder Cook

Posted in Elder Connor, Gyumri, Uncategorized | Leave a comment