Nearing Kolob

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New Page: Resources on Mormon Temples and Freemasonry

Mormon Temples and Freemasonry
 

A new page was published on Nearing Kolob to collection and share resources on Mormon Temples and Freemasonry (check out other pages HERE). The page is under construction and will contains links to:

  • Podcasts
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Websites
  • Blogposts

 

http://www.nearingkolob.com/mormon-temples-and-freemasonry/

This is Exactly How I Imagine an Excommunication To Be

This picture is from a “Zone Leader Council” in Oklahoma a few years ago, but this is exactly how I imagine an excommunication of a priesthood holder to be: at a long table in the High Council room, with the Stake Presidency at one end, lined with high councilmen on the sides, and with lots of smiles. Pretty intimidating if you ask me (BTW, where are the sister missionaries?).  Maybe the smiles are supposed to make it feel more like a “court of love”. Note that a female excommunication would look much different.

This is Exactly How I Imagine an Excommunication To Be

Gadianton Missionaries: Problems in the Philippines, Again.

Gadianton Missionaries. Problems in the Philippines. Again.

I’ve heard of missionaries getting sent home because of sins committed both before and during a mission.  I believe every mission president has to deal with these things.  However, I was surprised to read a few blogs about the many “pasaway” (disobedient) missionaries in the Philippines Quezon North Mission.  One missionary writes that just hearing about what happened there “would just make your jaw’s [sic] drop” and that there were “secret combinations and “Gadiation Robbers” ” in the mission. It appeared to make many missionaries there question the inspiration/revelation by which mission calls are made. Here is an excerpt from a letter dated August 26, 2012 (emphasis mine in all quotes):

I don’t want to get started on the things that are going on in our mission since it would just make your jaw’s drop, but lets just say there are secret combinations and “Gadianton Robbers” here in the Quezon City North Mission. we are all trying to figure out why we got sent to a mission like this and what we are supposed to learn form this tragic reality. But don’t worry, I am one of the good guys, I was even amazed when I got called a “prophet”, the code word the extremely pasaway elders use to describe someone who is a obedient elder or strict with rules and stuff. I didn’t think that I was THAT good, I like to be chill and still be obedient, but I guess that means I am doing well.

Man, i only wish there was someway I could help our mission president. It sux big time. but all of his recent emails he sends out is about obedience and this last one was even about secret combinations since there have been people getting sent home.

The same missionary has another letter dated September 30 2012 that says it got so bad in the mission that Elder Brent H. Nielson had to visit:

Thursday, I was supposed to have a district leader training in the morning, but it was cancelled the night before and we were told we were having an emergency meeting as a whole mission instead. So we woke up at 4 and left in time to make to a different area. When the meeting started at 9 am, we found out that they sent Elder Brent H. Nielson, the General Authority, under assignment of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles to clean up this mission. Apparently a few elders had sent around an email saying that “the reign of disobedience and their secret combinations in this mission were soon to begin”. He said he was sent to weed out the mission and take some elders home from the mission who didn’t want to stay. We had a lengthy talk by him because of the “secret combinations”, signs, and “protection” that the disobedient Elders are taking part in. So he related how serious secret combinations were and using scriptures from Helaman 6 he related the secret combinations in our mission exactly to the among the Nephites and Gadianton Robbers and stuff. After his talk, he and President Sperry interviewed many Elders and after waiting for a good hour and a half, they came back out and wrapped up the meeting. It seems that they weeded out some Elders and some of them are being taken home since they won’t promise to becoming obedient. He made all of us promise to write in our journals saying that “September 27, 2012 is the day that the Quezon City North Mission becomes an exactly obedient mission. We are excited to see some positive changes here. We still don’t know exactly how many were sent home that day, but at least one of them was riding home with us and trying to play it off as if it was no big deal. Listening to the natives, I could tell they were still making a mockery of the situation.

Another elder blogs in December 2013 about how “this was a terribly disobedient mission area before President Sperry kinda changed things”:

Apparently this was a terribly disobedient mission area before President Sperry kinda changed things. I guess when they split Quezon and Quezon North they sent a lot of the bad missionaries into Quezon North. It got so bad at one time that a group of missionaries literally referred to themselves as the Gadiantons and would break just about every rule and commandment around. As a result and many missionaries sent home later, we have a lot of rules. We aren’t allowed to communicate at all with any missionaries outside our zone and just a bunch of other little rules like that. Its all good though I don’t know how any missionary could find time to do anything bad with Elder Jensen, he just rolls house to house preaching and teaching!

Another missionary blogged about it even earlier (in July 2012) than the above accounts:

Lately there’s been a big problem in our mission with people being pasaway(disobedient).  President and Sister Sperry both gave pretty firm talks about it at Transfer Meeting and there were A LOT of changes in the mission.  The Valenzuela Zone has been split to make a new Meycauayan Zone :)  Elder Calinog (MTC Companion) and…… Elder Sidillo(Trainer) are the ZL’s there hahaha :)  SO cool to see old comps and areas connected :)  Elder Cloward (MTC Companion) was also made a ZL and so were Elder Taulelei and Elder Day from the MTC.  Pretty cool stuff! :)  Elder Compao was transferred to Panghulo (my 1st area) haha

I was made a DL! :D  WooHoo :)  I’m pretty excited about this transfer because everyone here is super obedient and excited about the work.  There are 4 elders in my apartment, in our District, 2 sisters, and the ZLs.  Last transfer almost the whole Zone became pasaway and so it seems that President has sent in good missionaries to fix it.  So everyone in my district has already improved their areas even though we’ve only been here 5 days.  WOOT! :)

However, this type of thing in the Quezon, Philippines doesn’t seem to be limited to 2012. Comedian Bill Squires, a former missionary “assigned to the Quezon City, Philippines Mission” that was excommunicated one week before the end of his mission, wrote a blogpost in October 2012 detailing some of his time as a missionary in the Philippines. I won’t copy and paste the entire blogpost which can be found here. Here are some quotes though:

  • “We felt like missionary gangsters”
  • “We started renting soft core Filipino Porn and had plans to try to meet some girls but a missionary that we had bragged to ratted on us”
  • “So we spent most of our days hanging out with the female church members or listening to music in our apartment”
  • “Then one day we got up the courage and went into their house. I made out with one of the girls while another one of them showed Elder Brown her boobs”
  • “we bought a TV and cell phones”
  • “One night we were bored so we decided to go to a strip club in the area. We got drunk and brought some of the girls back to our apartment. This went on for a while. Other missionaries from different zones started meeting up with us to party. We would go to bars and strip clubs to drink and hook up with girls”

It is crazy to me that these “missionary gangsters” (2002) and “Gadianton Robbers” (2012) existed in the same mission(!), 10 years apart. History has an interesting way of repeating itself.

Don’t Leave Your Area. You Need Permission.

Don't Leave Your Area. You Need Permission.

The “white bible” , otherwise known as the Missionary Handbook, contains the rules for missionaries of the Church. One example is that it specifies a missionary should not leave their area without permission (emphasis mine in all quotes):

Concentrate your efforts on your assigned area. If, for any reason, you need to leave your area, permission from your leaders is required. Never leave the boundaries of your mission unless your mission president authorizes you to travel outside the boundaries for a specific assignment. (page 8)

Stay with your companion during all activities. Stay in your area unless you receive permission to leave it. (page 21)

In the 1994 Young Women’s manual it even specifies this rule (to young women!):

Missionaries are not to go outside their assigned areas without permission from the mission president.

Why can’t missionaries leave their areas? Well, the Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood hints at the reason by drawing the following connection between permission, keys, and priesthood:

A key unlocks the door to a house. We cannot appropriately enter a house unless we receive the key or the owner’s permission. Likewise, except for the right that husbands and fathers have to bless their families, a man who holds the priesthood can use it only when he receives proper permission. A priest, for example, has the authority to ordain another to an office in the Aaronic Priesthood, but he cannot do it without receiving permission to do so from his bishop or branch president. This power to give permission is called the keys of the priesthood.

One missionary relates a Sister Lawrence’s (wife of Elder Lawrence of the Seventy) reason for not leaving their area without permission: Because Jesus “had to get permission from Heavenly Father” to leave his area, too.

Now for the BEST part. On Friday we had our Zone Conference in Bloomfield, CT with Elder and Sister Lawrence. He is a Seventy. Sister Lawrence taught us about the Scattered tribes of Israel; the lost tribes and about the Blood of Israel as well. She talked about the Savior’s mission and pointed out how he followed the exact same things we do. For example, he never left his area to go preach to the Gentiles except on a few occasions, but he had to get permission from Heavenly Father, just like we need to get permission to leave our areas. A lot of very interesting and amazing things.

If you’re in a foreign country you can’t get that far anyway. They have your passport.

“A Typical Day” in the Mission Office

In case you were wondering what missionaries serving in the office do, Elder Brockton Lamb of the Argentina Comodoro Raviadavia Mission posted the following comment and picture. I always wondered how safe missionary passports were:

I also added a photo of Elder Nelson and I with a typical day of being all covered up in money and passports!

"A Typical Day" in the Mission Office

He also posted a picture of them riding a slide together which made me smile.

"A Typical Day" in the Mission Office

An Inappropriate Missionary Blogpost

The Most Inappropriate Missionary Blogpost I've Seen Yet

 

EDIT: This may not be “the most inappropriate missionary blogpost I’ve ever seen”, as the original title said. I subsequently changed it to what it is now.

We’ve published a number blogposts recently that include excerpts from missionary blogs. However, I recently ran across one particular blogpost that included many bizarre comments–comments I would consider both inappropriate and immature as she “bossed the elders around”, bribes investigators with cookies she doesn’t have, and “accidentally dropped” material to leave at investigators homes.  I just thought I’d share them (remember, all of this is in just one post):

  • “On p-day after emailing we went to go volunteer at the food shelf.  We peeled bananas in the back with the elders. It was pretty easy because Sister Springer and I just bossed the elders around and told them how to do it.   “
  • “First we went to an appointment with a less active family but they were trying to pretend they weren’t home. We heard them in there and so we knocked and I heard the mom go “shhhh!!!” and it got super quiet! I started laughing so hard! I laugh too much and it might be a bad thing so I am trying to work on it. But they weren’t coming and they kept saying “shhh” to each other and we could hear them! so sister springer said “We can hear you!” (in a really nice way) and I asked them if they liked cookies. (we didn’t have cookies but I didn’t know what else to do to bribe them) but they didn’t answer so we left.
  • “Next we went to an appointment with an older couple! They seemed really interested two weeks ago and accepted a Book of Mormon and set up a return appointment but this week they didn’t want to learn at all because she said the Book of Mormon talks about Nephi too much! hahaha! And so they tried to kick us out! Well I wasn’t going to have it! I saw a guitar in the corner and the heavens sang! So I said “Which one of you plays guitar!?” Well we got talking about music and I asked if I could play for them so Sister Springer and I sang “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” and they LOVED it!  I was so excited to go there and teach them the restoration but since they didn’t let us, that song did the teaching for us!  On the way out I made sure and “dropped” a restoration pamphlet on the floor.
  • “We met Joyce on Wednesday– A spunky bible-lover! She is an older lady in a wheel chair! we tried to set up a time to teach her but she didn’t want the lessons so we sneakily taught her a lesson right there on the street corner without her knowing it! We taught her the restoration! She didn’t want our number or a Book of Mormon but its okay, we know where she lives!

 

Other Tidbits

  • The sister missionary gave a talk at church titled “Expect Persecution in All We Do”. Interesting choice.
  • An old “area 70″ called “Brother ‘H'” lives in her area.  He happens to be inactive now. If anyone knows who this might be, let me know.
  • They helped throwaway a less active members collection of cigarettes, alcohol, and coffee. They made sure to set it up and take a nice picture of the contraband before discarding it (see below).

 

The Most Inappropriate Missionary Blogpost I've Seen Yet

Missionary Removes Part of Her Blogpost Regarding “The Secret”

Missionary Removes Part of Her Blog Regarding "The Secret"

This morning I saw that Mormon Expositor did a new podcast episode called Mormons and Money–The Prosperity Gospel. I have not yet listened to the episode, but I saw that they cited my previous blogpost titled Again? Elder Clarke Continues to Motivate with Tales that You Can “Triple Your Income”. In the post I quoted Sister Macy Park in which she (originally) said that Elder Clarke “knows how to triple our income after our missions. Of course, we were all interested and he gave us the secret.”

However I noticed this morning that Sister Park has modified her blogpost and removed this part. Below is the relevant paragraph (crossed out portions were removed):

Elder Don Clarke of the Seventy came to our mission and told us he knows how to triple our income after our missions. Of course, we were all interested and he gave us the secret. He said to study chapter 8 from Preach My Gospel and apply it to our lives. If we do everything it says we can triple our income and reach our goals but most of all be happy. I invite everyone to study Preach My gospel chapter 8 and set goals for yourselves. Tell the Lord what your goals are and ask him to help you achieve them every night when you say your prayers. I promise you that you will find direction in your life and you will be a happier and a more successful person. Sometimes we set goals but we are not even accountable or don’t even think about them… that does not take us anywhere. I have seen a change in my mission as I have set goals for myself.  Family, make a macro plan for yourself.  My Mom has the document if you want it.

The post has been archived on both November 14th and December 10th. Follow the links to see the original and altered versions of the blogpost.

It does not appear that the other missionary blogs I cited have altered their posts or removed the portions regarding the secret to “triple your income” being your ability to study and “master” chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel. There was another incident of quietly removing a portion of a blogpost, however, that we recently reported on here.

 

Peeking in on Digital Missionaries in the Fishbowl

Peeking in on Digital Missionaries in the Fishbowl

There are several missionaries serving in what is called “The Digital Mission” as part of the Massachusetts Boston Mission. Currently there appears to be five full-time missionaries with this call (3 elders and 2 sisters).  They “spend pretty much all day” in a room in the Longfellow Park Chapel in Boston, referred to as “The Fishbowl” by locals because of its large windows allowing anyone to peek in.

There are a number of missionary blogs that give insight into this particular mission.  I will link to and extract quotes from these digital missionaries’ blogs so we get a better idea how these digital missionaries work:

The Fishbowl

First, let’s take a peek at where these missionaries work: The Fishbowl. The Fishbowl is located in the Longfellow Park Chapel near Harvard. Sister Gledhill posted a couple pictures of the Fishbowl and included the comment “The Fishbowl. This one really captures the “caged animal” effect.”

Peeking in on Digital Missionaries in the Fishbowl

Peeking in on Digital Missionaries in the Fishbowl

 

How it works

Elder Halling gave a little insight regarding the “part-time digital missionaries” Elder Tait oversees:

There are 16 areas throughout the mission called “Extender digital missionaries”, and they continue their normal proselyting, but they have 3 hours every morning to do the same thing we’re doing here at Fishbowl HQ. So we do our work, and ensure the extenders know what’s going on.

Elder Halling gives a little more of an outline of the digital mission

We do online proselyting. That entails, using a specially coded search engine called “stand as witnesses” that helps us find blogs where people are talking about gospel related topics. We leave a comment on their blog, hoping to start a gospel related conversation. But here’s the problem, people don’t really check their blogs, so recently, we started using a website called http://interpals.net – It’s basically a internet penpal. You can message with people from all over the world. It’s an awesome website, people just want to talk! Occasionally, you get some creeps, but you just block them and keep doing your stuff. So you strike up a conversation, and turn it to a gospel related conversation, then invite people to learn more!
We use our Facebook, so once they are interested in learning more, to show them we are real people, and then from there, we’ll take the conversation to facebook and hopefully invite them to Skype.
It works SO WELL. I have skypes set up for tomorrow with people in Haiti (I found a Haitian! =D), Australia, The Gambia, Turkey, Italy, and Ukraine. We have had so many skypes this week with people from all over. It’s is my favorite thing ever, because everyone doesn’t feel threatened by an invitation to skype and it’s going so so well. I love the digital mission!
So once we skype, we teach the message and ask them if they’d like to hear more. We keep teaching them, and we call the mission president for the mission the person lives in, and refer the people to the missionaries there. We continue to coordinate back and forth, and then work towards baptism, just as if we were in a physical area!
We aren’t assigned to a ward. So we can attend church where ever we’d like!
We have some awesome plans for this week. We don’t usually have a car, but we will be borrowing one for the week, going around the mission, giving trainings to all of the extender areas. It’s going to be sweet, 15 areas in 4 days, just bunking at other elders apartments!
Sister Gledhill gave her own summary back in October:
So the six of us digis (digital missionaries) spend pretty much all day at Digital Mission headquarters, the “Fishbowl” in the Longfellow Park Chapel. It’s called the Fishbowl because it’s a room with a window wall so everyone can look in at the cute little missionaries and tap the glass and stuff. #don’tscarethefishes. Our proselyting process basically goes like this:
Step 1: Find someone online willing to chat about the gospel.
Step 2: Teach them over Skype (we try and 3-way video call a member as often as we can.)
Step 3: Continue teaching them over Skype until they are ready to meet with the local missionaries.
Step 4: Contact local missionaries, investigator takes lessons there, investigator gets baptized.
Step 5: Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Sister Gledhill “break[s] it down” differently in another post:

What is this “Digital Mission”, you might ask? Let me brake it down. So the church has official websites like Mormon.org and LDS.org where anyone who is looking to know what Mormons believe can go on and find answers. However, there are literally millions of people out there in the world who are looking for answers to religious questions and don’t know that WE HAVE THE ANSWERS. Mormon.org isn’t really designed to reach out to these people, and in fact the Church right now doesn’t really have any way of interacting with these millions of people having religious discussions online everyday. Cue: the Digital Mission. Due to the fact that the Massachusetts Boston Mission has incredibly talented and wicked brilliant members and missionaries, they’ve programmed these amazing web-crawlers that find relevant religious conversations that allow us to answer the questions they didn’t know to ask us. There are 4 missionaries in our mission who pretty much full time find online investigators all over the world, teach them via Skype, and once the investigators are ready to be baptized the digital missionaries contact the missionaries serving locally and they get baptized there!

Sister Gledhill’s comment that they have computer programs “that allow us to answer the questions they didn’t know to ask us” reminds me of the most recent Infants of Thrones episode The Problem Makers. The episode’s thesis is that The Church artificially creates problems, introduces these problems to people, and then offers the only available solution.  It appears at least part of this process may now be digitized for efficiency.

Who are the Digital Missionaries?

They refer to themselves as the “digis”. Sister Gledhill mentions they are “smart-smart”:

The people working in the Digital Mission are smart. Like smart-smart. Like computer hacker smart. I DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT COMPUTERS.

This blogpost from yesterday shows there are currently five missionaries:

  1. Elder Tait (Digital Mission Leader)
  2. Elder Halling
  3. Elder Vecchi
  4. Sister Zickella
  5. Hermana De Lion from Guatemala

Elder Tait mentioned on his blog on September 8th that he is the “digital mission leader”. This is how he explained his duties:

So, as the digital mission leader, I am in charge of the missionaries in the Fishbowl, as well as the part-time digital missionaries across the mission. Elder Reeve is one of the humblest guys I know. He’s always willing to work together to get things done. Everything has been great! This is the Lord’s work and I need to remember that. President has set a goal for us to have 10 baptisms by December 15th! There’s no way we’ll have 1 baptism without the Lord leading and guiding us. It is an exciting challenge! I am currently chatting online with about 7 solid people. We’ve had some great conversations on Facebook, which will hopefully lead to teaching them the discussions through video chat.  I have other people I’m keeping in touch with, as well.  Please pray for all these people.  I know you don’t know their stories, but I need the family to pray for them.

Two other missionaries who have served in the Fishbowl in the past were Elder Worthington and Sister Gledhill.

Elder Worthington is referred by Sister Gledhill as “our resident computer hacker” .  Sister Gledhill even said that Elder Worthington had his own special computer send from home to use as a digital missionary:

Elder Worthington didn’t even scold me for ruining his expensive hacker computer he had shipped out from home.

Sister Gledhill, unsure of her technical skills, guessed what her role might have been:

I’m not sure why they are sending me there … I think maybe so I can hang up cute little quotes on the wall or something.

 

 

Two Apostolic Blessings and a Healing

Two Apostolic Blessings and a Healing

Yesterday we posted about Elder Cook’s trip to Europe. While on his trip he left a blessing on the missionaries.  One missionary in Spain reported:

He said that we are in Spain at this time, due to the economic crisis, because the people of Spain are ready for the Gospel. He said they are more humble, more open, and that this time is crucial for the Lord´s vineyard to flourish in Spain. He also left us with a blessing that EVERYBODY that we love and cherish will be taken care of. It was an amazing experience, and he wanted to shake each one of our hands. Incredible.

Similarly, in France he left a blessing on missionaries and their families and friends:

He promised every missionary and gave us the blessing that our missions here would bless others that we meet in life, our families, and friends more than ever. He promised that one day we will know why we were chosen to come to this mission and serve in France. Which I thought was really cool.

The week before, half a world away in Chile, Elder Nelson gave an apostolic blessing to a group of missionaries in which he also blessed the families of the missionaries:

I often have dreams about my family. More of nightmares. The scary thing is back home these nightmares often came true, but I was there to protect my family and help them. It was almost like I knew it was going to happen because I did. But now in the field I cannot help them and it has been really hard for me. I almost never cry, my friends tease me that I don’t have tear ducts, but I found myself broke down like a baby during my interview with my mission president. He gave me comfort and all was well for a while. That was until the dreams started again, fifty times worse than before. Elder Nelson paused mid-sentence during his discourse and all of the sudden said, “I sense some of you are very worried about your families.” He opened to a promise in the Doctrine and Covenants for protection for the families of missionaries.”  He then looked right at me and said, “It is my apostolic promise they will be safe. Go and worry no more.”

This same missionary reported that Elder Nelson even healed him of his sickness and “old wrestling injuries”:

Ever since I got sick in the CCM my immune system has been crap. I have been sick on and off every week since then, but I was trying to just have faith and fight through it without telling my companion and being a tough guy about it. However, the day before the conference with Elder Nelson I found myself passed out on the bathroom floor not breathing. I puked until I had nothing left to puke, then kept puking. My companion and I prayed and I knew I had to be at that conference the next morning, but that meant I had to wake up at 3 in the morning to catch a bus to be there on time. I didn’t sleep because I spent the night in the bathroom then dragged myself out of bed at 3 to go see Elder Nelson. The bus ride was so miserable and hours long. At the very end on Elder Nelson´s address, he looked at me and said, “I call down a blessing of healing on all those who are sick and afflicted.” I immediately felt better. I haven’t been sick ever since and even all of my old wrestling injuries don’t bug me anymore.

Another missionary also reported that Elder Nelson and his wife both spoke about the Last Days and the Second Coming.  Elder Nelson also impressed the missionary by “breaking words into latin and greek” (something he has a habit of doing in General Conference. See here, here, and here. Sometime members’ comments about his Latin explanation end up on online dictionaries–see screenshot below):

She talked about how this is the Last Days!  Elder Nelson mentioned it too.  He said The Second Coming is going to happen tomorrow!  We just don’t know which tomorrow :)  It was really neat to listen to Elder Nelson.  He had lots of stories about his work as a doctor.  He is super smart, he was breaking down words into latin and greek.  I don’t even know how many languages he knows!  It was a neat experience!

 

Two Apostolic Blessings and a Healing

This visit was a week after visiting Santiago, Chile where he checked up on the Pilot Program and announced it would be extended to all of South America at the beginning of next year:

As a mission we reached an all new, never before seen high, of 92 baptisms in one month! The Plan Piloto has really turned out a lot of fruit. Something I forgot to mention last week actually, is that when Elder Nelson came, he looked at the results of the Plan Piloto in our mission (ours being the one that is having the most success) and said that it is no longer the “Pilot Plan,” but THE Plan. So, starting January 2015 the entire area of South America South will be doing the Plan “El Rescate.” And it is currently being looked at in Salt Lake to see if it will be an change in the entire Mission department of the Church.

Elder Cook’s European Vacation….Trip

Elder Cook's European Vacation....Trip

Our previous post mentioned a recent trip Elder Quentin L. Cook did to the London South mission. Actually, Quentin L. Cook has been on a tour of Western Europe.  The following are some of the reports by missionaries that he visited. All bold/underlines in quotes are mine.

 

Portugal

On Friday November 14,2014 Elder Cook was in Portugal speaking to missionaries.  Sister Morgan Lacey reports on a different event in northern Portugal Saturday morning here (another source here). Some quotes from her blog are:

  • “He also said Elders and Sisters I know this isn’t Mexico or Brazil.  I understand that there are a few more baptisms there. But more faith equals more success, so have more faith.
  • The people of Portugal need a temple here. We need to double our numbers here. He told us that after every transfer or once we leave an area it must be stronger than how we found it. The young men and young women should want to serve missions because of you and the Bishop should have complete trust in you. It was seriously amazing.”

Sister Morgan also reported that he was at a stake conference in Portugal on Sunday November 16, 2014.

Elder Hobson reports on Elder Cook’s visit as well and points out his emphasis on preparing Portugal for a temple. He then contrasts the apostolic vision of Elder Cook and mentions some of the practical problems in his ward in Portugal:

Elder Cook told us while he was here to visit that we are not here to put up numbers and just baptise people but we are here to build wards and therefore the church.  The main focus of our mission especially here in Portugal is to get the church here ready to have a temple. And we here in Costa have a ward but it is one with a lot of problems.  The bishop is a fuebecka  there is no existing sunday meetings for leadership like there should be and a lot of things just are not done as the should be.  We spend a lot of time teaching less actives and even with the active members that we have trying to work out the kinks that they have in their life.  I am mentioning this because a lot of times people think of missionary work as just the convert baptisms and that would be awesome if that is the only thing we had to worry about but the truth is that the people in the church need a lot of help too.  I am saying this because I think it is important that as we try to be missionaries in our everyday life it is important to remember that as I always tell people that we meet we are here to help people in any way that we can especially in coming unto Christ. And as we help these people have more faith, as in the belief that drives them to do more to be more like Christ, we too will become more Christlike as we are less selfish and are thoughts turn outward. Elder Wiscombe was really frustrated with how the ward is on his first sunday and it was discouraging for him but I was actually glad that we are able to work in a ward that has lots of issues because we are not here to eat dinner with the faithful and steadfast but to work with the weak and the sinners and the people with issues so that we can improve their lives.

Sister Kelly Briggs reports on Elder Cook’s visit by simply saying “the thing that touched me the most was the fact that what president teaches us and what this apostle was teaching us was pretty much the same stuff. it was the same spirit, the same expectations.”

 

France

On Thursday November 20, 2014 Elder B. Stanton Wilson reports that Elder Cook visited with missionaries in Versailles. Some things Elder Cook talked about were using Preach My Gospel everyday, assigning missionaries to missions, and the 4 relationships on a mission. (Elder John Nelson and  Elder Chase Player confirm the visit)

Elder Chase Player provides a fairly detailed account:

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble to all of you getting ready for the Thanksgiving Turkey feasts.  This week was full of awesome things and I want to start with our conference in Versailles on Thursday with Elder Cook!

It was the first of its kind for our mission.  To have all 280 missionaries there in the same place at the same time was amazing.  Through hours of organization we all made our trains, treks through the metros in Paris and then on to another train to Versailles.  A quick walk to the chapel and we were there…by 9:30 in the morning!  At 9:45 Elder Cook and his wife and Elder Teixeira and his wife along with President and Soeur Babin walked into the chapel and we were able to shake their hands and be greeted by them.  Yes, all of us! For the next 2 hours we got to have an amazing conference with them.  Right from the beginning, with all of us singing, we filled the chapel and invited the spirit to be there.  After the Babin’s and Teixeira’s spoke Elder Cook told us that he was not going to give the message he had prepared but share something more personal with us and it was just what we needed to hear.  He talked about people and their free agency and how our faith effects our results dramatically. He talked about how we were called here to this specific mission and how calls are based on three things.  The first if for the people, secondly to prepare you for future callings or events in your life and third to be with a specific mission president and his wife because they have a large role in the missionary’s development.  Elder Cook closed talking about the four most important relations for us on our missions:

1.  You and Your Companion – we have to love our companion in order to have unity and invite the spirit when we teach.
2.  You and the People You Teach – we have to love the people and see them as they can become in order to help them come unto Christ.
3.  You and Your Relationship with the mission President and his wife – being close to them will have a lasting impact on the rest of our lives.
4.  You and your relationship with the Lord – we must grow close to the Lord and rely on him through faith and become converted ourselves in order to convert others to His gospel.

It was such a great conference and after he finished he left us with a special blessing on us all and on the mission. The spirit was so strong and it was clear that he is an Apostle of the Lord!

Sister Maren Hansen talks about how important it was to stand when Elder Cook entered the room:

The APs and office elders were running around like crazy people and probably reminded us 5 times to stand when Elder Cook came in. The energy and anticipation was tangible. Then one of the APs poked his head in the door of the chapel – “Elder Cook has just pulled in!” Soeur Babin was the first to walk in and I saw that she got a little choked up seeing all 280 of us in the chapel. We stood when Elder Cook walked in (we’re very obedient) and he just goes “oh sit down, sit down!” with a big smile on his face. Then we all got to go up and shake his hand one by one.

A video of Elder Cook shaking missionaries’ hands was posted on the mission Facebook page here.

Sister Hansen also talked about Elder Cook’s explanation of how mission assignments are made and the 4 relationships on a mission:

Part of it was question and answer and then he told us about the “four loves” people you should love – your companion, the people, the mission president and his wife and the Lord. He also gave some other last points, and kind of in the middle he stopped and said “I don’t always do this but I want to talk about how we assign calls” and then told us that it’s either because we need to be with a certain president, a certain culture or people or we need to have experiences or learn things (like a language) for the rest of our lives. It was very very powerful to hear about what it’s like when they make those calls and to hear someone who does that personally tell us that we are where we are supposed to be.

 

Spain

Seemingly backtracking, on Saturday November 22, 2014 Elder Cook was in Barcelona Spain speaking to about 160 missionaries (source and source). Elder Smiley reported the following:

  • He said ¨If missionaries have more faith they will have more success¨, nothing about testimony or work ethic or knowledge, all about faith, the first principle of the gospel.”
  • “He said what a blessing to be in this situation in Spain with a hard economic time.”
  • “He said that with experiences too spiritual to tell he knows the saviors voice. That is incredible.”

Elder Adrian Sadler said the following about Elder Cook’s visit. The contrast between the “small prophecy” in the first paragraph and the reality of the second paragraph is striking:

But Elder Cook talked to us about the importance of Preach My Gospel and he left us all with a small prophecy. He said that we are in Spain at this time, due to the economic crisis, because the people of Spain are ready for the Gospel. He said they are more humble, more open, and that this time is crucial for the Lord´s vineyard to flourish in Spain. He also left us with a blessing that EVERYBODY that we love and cherish will be taken care of. It was an amazing experience, and he wanted to shake each one of our hands. Incredible.

But in other sad news, Elaine did not get baptized because her mom is not letting her. Please pray for her still that she may be baptized! She shared her testimony the other day and she knows that the church is true! We need your prayers everybody. We need your love.

Elder Preston Coleman also mentions that Elder Cook attended a stake conference in Lleida, Spain.

 

England

As mentioned in our previous post, Elder Joshua Chew reported on Elder Cook’s visit to London during the last week of November.  Part of his post included Elder Cook’s response when asked about the theory of evolution.

Elder Casey Stevenson also reported on his visit.  He said:

  • “He talked about how missionaries are to build wards- whether that be through new convert baptisms, re-activating less actives, or even just strengthening the current active members.  That’s what we are here to do. “
  • “We are representatives of Christ, as does an apostle have a special witness of Christ and is called to share that with others. We are called to do the same- to bear testimony to them of the power and divinity of the Savior Jesus Christ.  We do not have a special witness as do the Twelve Apostles, but we do have a witness from the Holy Ghost of these things.
  • “The best place for you to be is here. If you are here, the family will receive heavenly help through the hard times.   The time will come that you will realize that serving a mission is not only blessing you, but everyone that you love is being blessed because of it as well.”
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