Ashtarak – Week 1 – Personal Revelation

Ashtarak, Armenia December 6, 2010

Also now I have time to read emails. Also anyone can email me. The Mission President said that email is more flexible because of the mail system.

Bar-ee or (good day)

The first part of this email is going to be something I’ve shared with a few people and I hope that it can help someone else so I’d like to share my new understand of teaching. And then the second part will be some of my experiences these last two days. actually I’ll do it they other way around, first the story and then the spirit.

First off I need to just say, the missionaries are great and the mission president and his wife are amazing. They really do love there missionaries and they are doing all that they can to take care of missionaries.

I already told you about the trip. 37 hours, 36 minutes and 36 seconds until we arrived to President and Sister Carter’s house.

I got 10-12 hours of sleep from Dec1st 6:30am until Dec 4th 10:45pm (give or take an 11 hour time difference) My body is drained, but again the breathing exercise has continued to perform miracles along with the spirit. I remember several occasions during our lessons when I felt tired and drained of energy and then all of a sudden I felt he spirit come upon me, and I no longer felt tired. The spirit has such a distinctive feeling sometimes, sometimes it feel like energy filling my body from some external source. When that happened I was so grateful for it. I remembered what was said in a General Conference in 1947(I think) that the Spirit is an antidote for fatigue, hunger and pain. The Lord has helped me. I also feel at times that words seem to flow very easily and I realize now that the gift of tongues is very real. It quickens my mind and confidence to meet he need of my situation.
However most of the time I am left wishing I knew the language better. The people deserve so much. They deserve so much more than I can give alone, but I pray that I can affectively deliver the message that the Lord has for them. They deserve so much more than me, but I am not just me right now. I am a tool in the Lords hands. I hope I am worthy to continue working his miracles in this part of Armenia.

I am learning as much as I can as fast as I can. It’s easy to pick out words that I know, when the Armenians speak. but it is difficult to pick out words that I dont’ know because they speak so fast that I’m never sure which letters from which word. But I am loving the language and I am understanding more and more every day. I can speak simple. but not great. I’m learning slowly but steadily.

I try to get some pictures home. I am in an area called Ashtarak, It means Tower in Armenian. It is a town. Activity is about 20% but the members here are strong. Fast and Testimony Meeting was amazing.
I am with a great companion, Elder Lusk. He seemed very quite at first, but I realized that he is just humble and meek in that sense. I am learning a lot from him. He has been a great mentor(the mission doesn’t like the word trainer).

I’ll tell you about the apartment next week. But for now “haa-jo-ho-st-ee-oon” (goodbye)

Concerning Self Mastery and how we can learn truth by recognizing the patterns in what we feel and in recognizing how God speaks to us through our feelings:

I have learned that we as a family are very intelligence and wise. We seek knowledge to apply it. I think that it is a pattern that will benefit us forever. But what I did not realize is that truth cannot be proven. It can be supported, but in order to help someone else gain a sure knowledge of truth, we cannot prove to them, what they could belief/know. I have learned that we must show each other the way to truth and let each other learn for ourselves.
Revelation is the foundation of teaching truth. Christ taught a new law, he taught about revelation. The prophets teach new truths, we gain our own testimony through revelation. All this revelation comes from experimenting and paying attention to FEELINGS. Learning the pattern of our feelings is will guide us much more than a pattern of ideas/facts. Feelings motivate, Facts help fuel motivation. Without a flame extra firewood won’t start a fire.

We should help people learn truth by asking them to commit to seeking personal revelation. So we guide an investigator to a topic of study we ask them to read and then pray. Then they learn and teach themselves on the journey(during their reading) and their prayer leads them to feeling (the fire). Then as you continue to ask them to seek revelation they will know what to feel for instead of what to look for.

We do not need to prove truth. That would make us like any other church or missionary. We are not pastors who know gods will for others, we are Christ’s disciples who teach others how to learn for themselves. One thing that I have learned from PMG is we should never prove a point with a scripture we should teach the doctrine FROM the scriptures.  If someone wants scriptural proof they must understand that scriptural proof will not build it fire, prayer and personally asking god will.
When we teach and prove our beliefs with scriptures we are not doing anything different from other church. But when we bring in new revelation from the BofM and Modern Prophets and our own Testimony we are doing what Christ did. Christ, when speaking of the Law of Moses and of the Ten Commandments, taught new truths like turning the other cheek. He said the 10 commandments say thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you that if a man lusteth after a women he hath committed adultery in his heart.

Each of us need to seek personal revelation and start knowing through feelings and not just through logic. That is why we must always be seeking revelation so that we maintain a receptiveness to feelings otherwise we will only live on logic, which does not provide oxygen to the fire of our testimony.

Notice that feeling is a pattern in the scriptures. Those who are hard in their hearts forget how to FEEL. (This is why gratitude is essential, as well as other principle of FEELING like Love, patience, etc). We are supposed to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit (that has nothing to do with thinking or logic). We learn in Matt 22: vs 36-40, that the first two great commandments are to love God and our neighbors with all our HEART, with all our mind and with all our SOUL. Upon this hang all the law and all the prophets.” Notice how most of what we must draw from an internal, spiritual well. This is  where faith  must play its part. 1) in God’s power to keep his promises 2) in our own ability to do all that we can.

Feeling is an important part of self-mastery. The Light of Christ is very real and assists us every second of every day, I know that it because Christ had the faith to manifest his love that we have it. I can also testify, that by it, we can FEEL our way to all truth even our Heavenly Father and His Son, our advocate with the Father.

Please don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful for my knowledge of the scriptures and all that I have been taught concerning them, but I have learned that teaching powerfully requires that we teach other the pattern of feeling rather than just a pattern of logic. Scriptures help us identify different beautiful aspects of the scenery, and make us appreciate the destination. (this applies to school teachers as well, a principle in physics is learned and retained much easier in the application of the principle and not just learning from a textbook) If we would like to help someone learn about the gospel(or anything), we must give them  a map to that beautiful place(their own knowledge) and then we must give them a sneek-peek of the scenery (testimony, truth, a couple/few scriptures, conviction), so they know what to expect when they arrive. If we where to drive them directly do a destination(give them a chain of  scriptures), on the same route that we took they would not gain the experiences they need to experience, nor would they be able to stop along the way and enjoy checkpoints.

If we seek to prove a doctrine we are driving them to the beautiful place. A journey is as much of the experience as the destination. If we share our feelings and testimony and sincerely let them know what have come to know, by taking that ourselves journey, they will see the benefit. When they see the importance of the journey we can give them a map and let them choose the route to the destination.

What scriptures can do is they can help emphasize certain key aspects of the journey and the scenery. Scriptures are by all means helpful before we send them on their journey. Scriptures help us to know that we are on the right path. Scriptures can assist in reaching the destination faster(knowing why and what we should pray for, knowing what we might feel when we get an answer, etc) and they can also help know what to expect when we arrive( feeling of joy, peace, clarity, strength, perspective).

I hope that made sense. I hope it can help

Elder Cook

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