A Gospel of Hope, A Gospel of Repentance

Ashtarak, Armenia January 17,2011

So Elder Reece and I have been working so hard. We are trying to pick this Area up. Lift the spirits of the wonderful people here. I went on splits this week and spent two days with Elder Merrill’s (served in the San Jaun’s) best friend. I learned a ton from Elder Santo and I returned to serve with Elder Reece with a greater desire to love him. We have grown together this last week, more than the previous 2 weeks combined. We are both helping each other in different ways. We found another wonderful man who wants to start coming to church. An answer to another fast and many powerful prayers. His name is Armen, he is an old investigator, he told us about himself in our first visit. He truly knows how to care for others. He found a mother on a street with her daughter. Talked to them, walked with them to a local store, got them a job, took them home and used his whole paycheck to help them get on their feet. He figured that he would get repaid somehow. That’s just one story, but he is excited to learn about Christ and come back to church. He is a very meek man, with a very independant, caring spirit. It is amazing to see people from a spiritual side. I have seen people through “spiritual eyes” so much more since I arrived here.
I have a few things I would like to talk about maybe one of you can learn from. It might seem scattered, but I have 10 minutes to explained what I have learned from the Lord in an entire week. So here it goes
1) a 3 way relationship between a You, Friend(Companion, Spouse, etc) and God is a powerful connection. You can best help your relationship by loving your friend and strengthening your relationship with God. As you love that person and become worthy of God’s blessings you can ask for your friend to have certain desires. You can help that friend change/improve faster through your love and God’s promptings, than you can through disappointment and convincing . You can influence their relationship with God. You can pray for them to have righteous desires. I never really understood this but now I do. God can’t MAKE us do something but he can put desires into our hearts. This allows God to help us without infringing on our ability to choose(agency).
2) We have a friend who slipped and started smoking. When we talked to a wise man, Branch President Sargis he told us this very important principle one I will use for the rest of my life. When someone makes a mistake or breaks a commandment or convenant(with God) the best response is a neutral, hopeful response. We should not make a sin seem like the end of the world, because it isn’t. Christ has overcome the world. Why did Christ teach that the first principle of His Gospel was faith in Him and second repentace? Because this is a gospel of hope. We can and do find joy in drawing close to our Heavenly Father. We find joy in doing Christlike joy.  When we are exhausted from servicing someone, helping someone move, etc. God will manifest his love and gratitude through feelings of joy and extra strength. We shouldn’t look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but we also should not assist satan by discouraging others.
I love you all I’m grateful for your friendships. Here I have a family, but every friend I have here only makes me appreciate all of you more.
Here are some pictures
Love Elder Cook
I”m grateful for
1 beautiful views
2 quality TP
3 sinks that work and purified water
4 fresh honey’
5  new years
6  warm showers
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