Sunday, March 11, 2018

She leaned over to me and asked, "are there requirements to be baptized into this church?

Me, Sister Ieremia, and sister Marcos
Typing up emails every week is low key a struggle for me, because I have to type like twenty thousand other things besides my email... But I do this for all of you! So just remember: if you think no one loves you, at least I'm using effort to email you haha.

Last week was pretty hard work. I've learned this new thing where we just talk to everyone, and I think I pretty much spend every day talking until we go home at night. But of course it's not just talking, it's sharing God's plan with the people! Last week President Kotter just randomly showed up at our apartment on morning and told us that he was going to work with us that morning. I had always heard that he pulls stunts like that, but I've never had it happen to me until just last week. Anyways, we went out and taught one of our newest investigators named Cha, and she turned out to be SOO interested in the Book of Mormon! She had a whole notebook and was writing down everything that she learned from her reading inside of that notebook. She told us that it's SO AWESOME that there's another book about Jesus Christ with different characters testifying about him. Amazing right? Well, President Kotter took a picture with us and Cha as a remembrance for him working with us. And then a couple days later, at a mission conference, he displays this picture to the mission and tells them the story of how we found Cha, how we taught her, and how we got her interested in the Book of Mormon. He kind of used us as examples in the work, which was a really good feeling.

Well, the next day (after the mission conference), we went back for a return appointment with Cha to teach her more from the Book of Mormon, but right as we got there, she completely and flat out told us that she doesn't want us to teach her anymore. She said that she doesn't like the fact that there's another book about Jesus Christ because one is already enough, and she also doesn't like the fact that these characters in the Book of Mormon are different than the Bible... These were literally the SAME EXACT reasons that she LIKED the Book of Mormon just a few days before, so we assume her neighbors are talking really bad about us. I guess that problem is still ever present, even in this area. But we are now teaching Cha's brother who is like 24 years old, and he seems to be showing a lot of interest. We just hope he doesn't follow the example of his sister haha.

Mission Conference
We had only one investigator come to church yesterday, but while she was listening to the testimonies of each member, she leaned over to me and asked, "are there requirements to be baptized into this church?" So I opened up to Moroni 6:2-3 and told her that those are the requirements. We had to leave church early that day, but she ended up staying the whole time even though she knew absolutely no one there. We have a lesson with her tomorrow, so we will probably ask her if she wants to be baptized. Wish us luck!

So when you train a new missionary on the mission,
that missionary is called your "son." So Elder Caballes is my son.
This is a genealogy picture: Me, My son Elder Caballes,
my Grandson Elder Spencer, and my great grandson Elder Duarte

 The White Crew

 I don't know why my body is like that in this picture. Oh well

 That's mah companion

taking photos with my Companion

Sometimes I wear my glasses

Sunday, March 4, 2018

I know that the Gospel is the ONE path that God created for all of His children

I love being a missionary!

Since Elder Caballes is the new Assistant, we got to go
on exchanges! That means I gotta work with
MAH BOI AGAIN!! Love this kid so much
This last week we hit the "reset" button on this area, so we basically tanked all of our old "investigators" because none of them really had any interest. I guess the other elders were teaching them just so they could have some numbers to report every week, but there was never really any desire in the people they were teaching.

So, yet again, I come into an area with absolutely no ground work, but I can say from the bottom of my heart that that is now my favorite thing to do! It's great because you know that everything you do from here on out is because of you and the Lord, so you can actually be proud of the investigators you find and the progress you help create in the Ward.

Anyways, we've hit the ground running this last week by talking to literally EVERYONE. Okay, I know that I'm already a talkative guy, but I can say with a surety that I have never talked so much and to so many people in my life. After about two hours of proselyting my mouth has run out of saliva, but we still have 6 hours after that, so we just press on with joy! We've already been experiencing the miracles from it! For example, last Friday we were tracting ALL DAY and didn't get ANYTHING and we were so close to giving up, but we refused to. At the end of our proselyting we were about to go in for the day, but we decided to just go one more, and that family let us in the second we knocked on their door and now they are very interested in our message! That happened maybe 4 or five times last week and now we have a couple new investigators to be teaching this week!

It's just amazing how the Lord fulfills his promises. In D&C 84:33 the Lord said, "For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying of their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies." Every time I get exhausted and feel like giving up, I just shove a little more faith in it, and when I do that, my strength is renewed and I forget that I'm even tired. I love this Gospel and the blessings it brings. People always think and say that there is a different path for everyone, but I know that the Gospel is the ONE path that God created for all of His children. And that's why I'm out here- just to share this plan with others.

having some fun with Elder Cabelles
I hope you all have a great week! Love ya'll!
Elder Austin Cook ♥

Elder Cabellas and I

Workin in da Jungle!

Walking with my current companion 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My first time serving as a missionary in an actual ward and not a branch

Hey kids, my new area is great! Here in Daraga is my first time serving as a missionary in an actual ward and not a branch. It's weird getting used to the fact that we have an actual bishop here, but it's a good change to get used to! Oh, and my new companion, Elder Faka'osi, is the greatest! He's from Tonga and is truly one of the kindest, most loving companions I have had on the mission. I have yet to hear him say anything negative about any circumstances we have been placed in so far, and he is also very obedient to the mission rules, which is a huge weight off of my shoulders. (also he's a giant)

The gang is all here. Elder Peterson to my left and comp to my right
We also have two other Elders staying in our apartment, and one of those Elders is Elder Peterson! We were rooming together back in the MTC days, so it's great to have him back as a roommate.

So my new area, Daraga, is actually a pretty big city (I think it's like the second biggest city in our mission? Not sure) But our area, fortunately, is mostly out in the mountain areas, so we are doing a lot more walking than we used to. In Masbate, our area was about the length of two or three football fields, so this area is giving my feet a little more of a work out.

I've only been in the area for less than a week, but I see infinite potential here: both in the members and in the investigators. It's going to take a lot of dedicated work, but we can do it! Elder Faka'osi is 100% ready to help and get the work going faster than it has gone before, so we are just so excited for this transfer!
It s good to be back in the mainland

Outdoor shower time!

Oh yeah, Elder Del Pilar and I showered at a well. 
The water in our apartment ran out, so we just had to 
fetch some pails of water. #jackandjillswags

My companion on the right

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Nothing short of the hand of God

Hey kids I'm getting transferred. I'll be leaving this Tuesday morning to a new area called Daraga and will be the new Zone Leader out there. It's an area that's pretty close to the volcano, so at least I'll be able to get some cool shots out of it! I don't know what to expect in this next area, but I know that it's definitely a bigger city than here in Masbate, and I assume that this will be my last area before I head home, but I don't know what God's plans are.

This last week was really weird, because last Wednesday we had interviews with President Kotter in the mainland in which he told us that BOTH Elder Del Pilar and I were going to be transferred. We were kind of shocked because two missionaries don't usually get pulled out unless they did something disobedient. But President Kotter told us that we didn't do anything wrong, he just feels that the area needs a fresh start... Well, I'll still be a Zone Leader and Elder Del Pilar is going to be a branch president on an island called Catanduanes, so we were assured that we didn't do anything wrong because obviously President still trusts us.

On our way back from interviews we had a really neat experience on the Roro. The roro took us back
Chillin at the pier
to Masbate from the mainland at about 10:00 PM, so we left really late and got home at about 3:00 AM. Normally Elder Del Pilar and I just sleep on the roro because it's a really big boat and there's nothing to do, and obviously we were really tired because it was late, but it just so happened that there were two younger girls about the age of 20 looking for some places to sit on the boat. We moved around some of our stuff to make room so they could sit down, and so they did. Now, Elder Del Pilar and I HATE talking to girls our age out here, because they ALWAYS get the wrong idea when a foreigner talks to them, but when we gave them some room to sit down, we were instantly launched into a conversation that lasted the entirety of the boat ride, yes, five hours. When we first tried to teach them/get them interested in the Restoration, they just kind of laughed, but after we persisted, they actually got pretty interested and started bombarding us with questions about the Restoration, the Gospel, and the Plan of Salvation. Long story short, in the span of 5 hours we pretty much covered the full content of all of the basic missionary lessons in detail. We assumed that they were from Masbate and we were about to get trasnferred, so we figured we wouldn't see them again after that, but we decided to ask them where they were from anyways. Well, turns out the one girl is actually from my hometown Irosin! And the other girl is from Masbate, but the cool thing is that they are both studying in a college in Daraga right now, which is my new area! So we got their numbers and I told them that I will contact them as soon as I get to Daraga, and they said it would be totally fine with them if we continued to teach them. How perfectly did that all line up right? Nothing short of the hand of God. I just hope that we actually can CONTINUE to teach them in Daraga.

Family home evening w/ Martinez family & the Ibanez family
I'll be very sad this transfer day to leave the Ibanez family, the family that we just found while tracting a couple of months ago. They are so amazing, and they absolutely LOVE living the principles we teach them. Brother Livino told us that before we taught them, he used to get very mad very easily, and his wife, Shannie, agreed with that. She said that one time she remembers that he came home with blood on his feet and with a machete in his hand... We didn't inquire further about that incident haha. But if you were to meet Livino now you would NEVER think he was like that: he is the most cool headed, humble, loving man that I've met out here. And they just want to be baptized so bad, so I'm sad that I won't be here to continue to witness their progress :(

But that's my life this week! Good luck to the next elders in this area (One of them is Elder Semaning who is literally my best friend out here. He was my roommate in irosin).

P.S. So my boy Elder Cabellas, is gonna be presidents assistant, which means that he will be giving ME training when we go on exchanges! I think it's awesome haha.

Me and Brother Garganta. This guy is flippin hilarious
so I had to get a picture with him before I left.

This girl was actually taught by Fraser Lefevre before.
She called us randomly & now she wants to be baptized!

Monday, February 12, 2018


Just kidding. I put that as the Title heading just to scare my mom. Love ya mom!

We got some interesting work done this last week. Transfers are a week away, and I think I might be getting transferred to another area, but we'll just wait and see. Elder Del Pilar really wants to get out of this area... Poor guy is dying out here haha. 

Update on the Ramos family: Tatay Jimmy has COMPLETELY gone apostate and won't let his family go to church anymore. We went to go visit them the other day and Tatay was drunk again and wanted to fight Elder Del Pilar. We left shortly after that, but apparently after we left Tatay punched Nanay, and then Nanay threatened Tatay with a machete in her hand. So yeah, we don't really know what happened there. They went from absolutely LOVING church and wanting to get sealed in the temple and everything else, to going completely backwards and hating the church. We are really sad about it, but at least we know that we've done everything we can to help them. I don't even know if we can ever go back to them... It just breaks my heart. Please add them to your prayers!

 Elder Caballes, Elder Hoecherl, and I at leadership training
Let's see, what else happened... Oh, well we went to Legaspi and had some leadership training out there which was nice. Then two days after that, President's assistants came to our area for exchanges which was really nice (mostly because we didnt have to take public transportation that day because the assistants have a car)

Every other update I have would be boring to explain through email haha! It's just missionary work and trying to fix up broken branches and trying to save the world... You know, just kool kid stuffs. But despite all of the difficult stuff that's going on, I'm still really happy! In fact, just the other day, Elder Del Pilar was telling me that I was TOO happy. But hey, I'll take that as a compliment 

Anyways, I'll email next week with some updates on transfer announcements! Love ya'll!

 Elder Caballes, Elder Hoecherl, and I at leadership training

This is the big boat that we take to and from the island.
It's called a RowRow. It's really slow. There's a smaller
one called a Fastcraft, but it's more expensive.

 We got to church early and got bored

My shoe is hungry  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

He challenged literally EVERY point that we made with an intellectual question

This is how the jungle people do laundry.. lol
Not much happened this week, but we found a great new investigator named Ronnie Villamor! I want to write about him because he is probably the most intelligent person that I've ever taught here on my mission. I'm just used to teaching people that sit there and listen and have NO QUESTIONS EVER because they just have absolutely no prior knowledge about the Gospel, but this Ronnie guy asked so many questions about everything. He challenged literally EVERY point that we made with an intellectual question, and to be honest, we aren't used to that out here. But it was so much fun teaching him because it actually makes us think while we are teaching, kind of gives us a challenge. But he's great because he actually accepts the answers we give him in response. We found him last week while tracting and have already taught him twice and have a return appointment with him this Wednesday.

Fat people can climb too!
Sad news though. Remember the Ramos family? Well, Tatay Jimmy Ramos has kind of apostatized this last week. So what had happened was this: We taught him about tithing, saying that NO MATTER HOW POOR YOU ARE, you still have to give 10% of your income to God, because that is the simple commandment, and in return you will receive huge blessings. So he understood that and agreed to it. But then our Branch President interviewed him, and in this interview the Branch President told him that since Tatay Jimmy is so poor, if he can't give the full 10%, that's okay, he should at least give what he can. So boom, Tatay Jimmy got confused, and because of his confused frustration, he got drunk, and TA-DA he's refusing to go to church now and is not allowing his family to go to church either. We have no idea what to do there, but we will see in the coming week how we can help. I still have hope, however, we aren't too worried about it. God is watching over him and will help us deal with the situation.

So I guess our ray of hope right now is the Ibanez Family, Livino and Shannie. They really love us teaching them and they absolutely love the Book of Mormon. They say that they try and share it with their neighbors, but all of their neighbors just laugh at them and tell them that "Mormons" is a cult and that we don't even believe in Jesus Christ. But Livino and Shannie know very well that our church is centered more on Christ than any other, this is, after all, His church right? That's why they are great, because they really believe and don't care what their friends and neighbors say. We have high hopes for them.

Super far area 
Thats all for this week folks!

My pants after coming home from very far area

my kitchen... 

my bed room

Monday, January 29, 2018

Mount Mayon is exploding like crazy and thousands of people are being evacuated

So this week was just spent trying to find people to teach, but the hate in this area is RAGING. EVERY ONE knows the "Mormons" and all of the different pastors talk bad about us to their congregations. We are learning from a lot of people that we talk to on the street that their pastors actually pull out the Book of Mormon in their churches and teach the people why it's not true and why this church is a cult. So pretty much everyone we talk to is really mean to us, and everywhere we go, people just run inside and refuse to come out of their houses. Our power is growing by the day haha.
Matching ties

I'll just give some weird updates that aren't really missionary related, because we don't have much work anymore since all the peeps here hate us. But Rowena Ramos (13 years old) got a job that makes her work 15 hours every day, and in that entire 15 hours, she gets paid 50 pesos. THAT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF ONE AMERICAN DOLLAR PEOPLE!! The poverty is real out here. But even for the Philippines, that rate is WAY low, so we told her she should quit, and then she did. So happy ending I guess.

What else? Oh, Mount Mayon is exploding like crazy and thousands of people are being evacuated, but we are just chilling over here on our little island super far away from all of the problems. Good thing that we got assigned here in Masbate during this time.

Do you see the color of the water that she's swimming in?
You see how it's like gray colored? That's not from the camera,
that's literally the color of the water because of all the sewage
that's drained into that water. Literally she's just swimming in
sewage. #thuglife