The Tender Mercies of the Lord

Ashtarak, Armenia January 10, 2011

Well a lot has happened in the last ten days. My new companion Elder Reece is a Firecracker and a very Loving man. Sometimes I don’t agree with what he wants to do, but for now I’ll follow his lead, I know the Lord wants him here for a reason. I am trying to figure out his strengths so that I can work/learn from them.

It has been hard, very few of our lessons have happened how we planned them, but I have had fun sliding on the ice, looking through the Area Book and working with members. I’ve done a lot of walking. Our new members are still learning, but they are amazing. They have been converted, not just baptized. They know through experience, experimenting and sacrifice. They have come to know the Lord through exercising their faith. They have seen the Lord’s tender mercies and when they do their belief and faith turns into a knowledge, knowledge given to them directly from God.

I was fasting yesterday for a family that was in the Area Book. We had a prayfully sought to know who we should meet with and their family felt right. We met at 4:00 and I wanted them to feel the love that God has for them. I wanted their hearts to be softened so that they would be ready to be moved by the spirit. I wanted them to act and exercise faith in Christ so that they could come to know God. Everything was great, the family was beautiful and they were very nice individuals, but they didn’t want to meet again, not because they were mad, they just weren’t interested. I went home. As I prayed for that family I could not help but feel a sadness that I never want to feel again. A sadness that I had no more power to help them. It was even harder not having my companion in on it with me. I finished my fast and asked the Lord to consecrate the small sacrifice to my growth and to that family. Later that night an older investigator was brought by Aram (new convert) to his after-baptism lesson. We taught part of a first and focused on the promise of the BofM. Aram talked about his conversion, his testimony of the power of the scriptures. I was able to speak about how we need to sacrifice sometimes to draw closer to God and to receive answers to our prayers, but God always gives us more than we sacrifice. Gogor accepted to read and is very excited.. He even made sure we knew his word was good, that he would read and pray. Aram is right there, eagerly sharing how his sacrifices and experiences have brought him so much joy. I couldn’t be happier. The Lord answered and blessed me in a beautiful way.

2 Nephi 32:9 tells us “But behold, I say unto you that ye must apray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall bpray unto the Father in the cname of Christ, that he willdconsecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the ewelfare of thy soul.”

Then in  Alma 34: 27-28 “Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your ahearts be bfull, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your cwelfare, and also for the welfare of dthose who are around you… I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your eprayer is fvain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as ghypocrites who do deny the faith.”

When experiences or sacrifices don’t reap the fruits that we desire we have been commanded to pray to the Lord as described in these chapters and then watch for the Lord’s hand, He truly, literally will consecrate it for the welfare of our soul and the souls of those around us.

We are working hard, trying to figure out the Lord’s will for this area. In the processes I have been humbled and therefore, learned a lot. We have a good idea of what the Lord wants at the moment. Pray for specific blessing in finding investigator, strengthen the members in such a way that they feel a desire to bring others to the tree of life, and, lastly, work with less-actives. There are about 250 names in our records and only 35 regular members (15-20 of which come to church every other week).

Life is good. It’s hard. This has definitely been the hardest couple of weeks, but the Lord is answering my prayers and teaching me what small changes will qualify me for the work and prepare me to be a powerful tool.

We have a new curriculum. A powerful tool designed to apply PMG to the work.

I have a few thougths I’d like to share.

Heleman 3:35
“Nevertheless they did afast and bpray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their chumility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the dpurifying and the esanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their fyielding their hearts unto God.”

When we improve and sacrifice to draw closer to God or to help others we are sanctified. This is how we can make the sacrament become meaningful. Pick one thing each week (even if you have a list of 20) and focus on that. The Lord will give you revelation throughout the week on how to improve that aspect of your life. Then when you take the sacrament you are promising the Lord that you will continue to be better, but you also feel worthy of the sacrament, because that week you tried to obey the Lord’s commandment “Be ye therefore perfect, Even as I and your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect.”

When we yield ourselves to God we find joy and power that is unexplainable. Our hearts are changed. It can’t be proved, it can only be experience. So we must help eachother through this process of sanctification. If we are not sinning(against the commandments that are written) then the way we repent is through improvement and striving to draw closer to God.

Honest seekers of truth will be led to know God. God is the source of all truth. If we will seek him and are willing to follow the path that he has prepared for him, despite the sacrifices that he requires  of us, we will find him. This requires that we seek use our better judgement and live according to the truth that we have been given. If we do live according to the truth that we have been given, he has promised to bless us with more.

Our mission has started a reading of the Book of Mormon. (see the suggestions for the mission presisents in PMG pg 114). It is amazing. I am begininng to see the principles that the book teaches very clearly. The Book of Mormon mentions Christ’s name, or a pronoun, or a one of his titles an average of 1/1.7 verse.

I will explain some principles that I have learned next week I don’t have time right now but I will say this. “And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and astrengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did bprovide means for us while we did sojourn in [this life].

I pray that we all may start to seek the path of improvement. On that path we will find nourishment, strength and happiness like we never knew was possible. I know that Christ desires to work with us. God wants us to be successful, we can be and will be if we stop putting ourselves first and we start putting God and others first.

I pray that you will feel of Christ’s love and the power of  His grace  as you begin another wonderful year.

With All of My Love,
Elder Cook

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