Sunday, November 27, 2016

I'm starting to realize how important a belief in God is.

So this week was really good! We found some super fun people to teach, kept ourselves pretty busy, and just had an overall great week!

So one of our new favorite groups of people we like to teach are the boarder girls. I don't remember if I mentioned them last time, but while we were going door to door looking for people to teach, we ran into this one house where like four 21-year-old girls opened the door and just started screaming because they were so excited to see two white guys standing at their door. Before we could even tell them who we were, they just told us to come inside. I didn't want to (because there was no man in the house, and it's not allowed to teach girls without another male present) but Elder Perkins kind of disregarded that, so I followed him inside. Turns out it was a boarding house, a place where college girls live because it’s close to where they go to school, so there were like 20 college girls in there who were all just so excited to see us. We were only there for like 5 minutes before I finally got Elder Perkins to leave, but they were SUPER excited for us to teach them. We've been back a couple times since then (And yes, we bring an older guy with us who is like 35) and they are so excited for us to visit. I was pretty sure it's just because we are white, but hey, whatever works. Eventually, I thought, they'll start listening to what we have to say and believe in what we teach. And this week that happened! Two of the girls we were teaching now want to be baptized! One of them especially really believes in what we teach, and absolutely believes in the Book of Mormon, and in the Plan of Happiness. And I really have high hopes for the rest of the girls in there.

And then there’s the boarder guys. They are also college students who all live together, and they love it when we come around and teach. We haven’t seen much improvement in them, but there's this one guy, Sherwin, who is awesome. He’s super funny and inappropriate and he's just the best. He doesn’t do anything we ask him to do (read the Book of Mormon, pray, go to church, etc) so we didn’t have any expectations for him. But then one day we asked him to pray and ask God if our messages were true and if the Book of Mormon really is another testament of Jesus Christ. He then asked us and told us that he doesn't even know why it’s important to pray about it, because apparently HE ALREADY BELIEVED US. Here we were just assuming he didn't believe us because he hadn’t been praying or reading the Book of Mormon, but here he is the whole time already believing that Joseph Smith restored Christ's church to the world again, and he believes that the Book of Mormon is true. Needless to say, he now wants to be baptized. So yeah, everyone we are teaching really seem to be progressing!

Our Zone
Getting ready to take a photo of our zone 
I'm starting to realize how important a belief in God is. Honestly, if we as people don't have any belief in God, or put any thought into what our purpose here is, or where we go after this life, we need to really reconsider our train of thought. I think about it, and our time here on Earth is short compared to all of Eternity. And if we live this life right, we can go back and live with our Heavenly Father again. Now, if we don't put any thought into religion, or God, or any of this, our state after we die will be pointless. In this life, we just eat, drink, and sleep, just like any other being does, but after we die, then what? There HAS TO BE MORE. If there isn't more, then there is no point in living, we would just die and disappear. But we don't. We are here to be the best we can be, to follow in the footsteps of Christ so that we can make it back to the presence of our Heavenly Father who loves us with an infinite and unconditional love.

That was just a little thought I had this week. Maybe it doesn't make sense the way I worded it, so sorry about that. But that's what I believe. Anyways, I still hope all of you are doing well and are happy and keeping yourselves out of trouble!! I love you all and miss you all a ton!

Love Elder Austin Cook

Sunday, November 20, 2016

One of the biggest lessons I learned this week is this: When you work hard, you are happy. Period.

A lot more happened this week than last week, thank GOODNESS! I'll start off on Monday. On Monday of last week we went to two different families homes for Family Home Evening, and it was awesome! The family home evenings here are WAY cooler than the ones in Vegas because they get like five families together and just play games and do tons of fun stuff!

Our super fun family home evening
Then Tuesday was actually a super dull day. We taught like 3 lessons and just didn't really do much. That was the day I finally decided that I just needed to talk to Elder Perkins about all of the time we were wasting, but I didn't know how to bring it up in a nice manner yet, so I just kept my mouth shut. But we did teach Jose today, which was nice. If you all remember, Jose was the guy who had a really huge smoking problem, but as of now, he hasn’t smoked in over a month, so that's really amazing! But he's kinda weird about it. He said that he quit smoking because he wanted to get baptized, but now he's saying he doesn't know for sure yet if this church is true, so we don't really know where to go with him. But he did say that every time we come and teach him he feels so much happier and so enlightened, so I definitely have hopes for him.

Wednesday was an interesting day. I don't remember much from it, but I remember that Elder Perkins finally talked me and the two Zone leaders that live with us to play a super fun nerdy game.  I really didn't want to cause, you know, I'm not a nerd and stuff, but I did it because he seemed super excited about it. And honestly, I have not laughed so hard since leaving home as I did playing that game with everybody. For some reason it was just hilarious, and we all cried laughing like 6 times. Honestly it was SUPER relieving, I really needed a good laugh, and for some reason, that nerdy game was able to be pretty fun.

OKAY NOW THURSDAY! Sorry, it's not that exciting, I just wanted to type in all caps. Anyways, today we went tracting for like two hours. Tracting (For those of you who don't know) is just going door to door and asking people if they wanna hear our message. In the states, tracting is pretty ineffective from what I hear, but over here it's insanely effective - probably one in every 5 people let us in to teach (mainly because we are white, but hey, whatever works). We got tons of success that day, and I and Elder Perkins made it a goal to do at least one hour of tracting every day, which will hopefully get us a little busier. Today I also told him that we were wasting way too much time just talking to people for fun, and he actually agreed. So instead of staying at people's home for 2 or 3 hours, we decided that we needed to make our visits about 30 minutes each. I was so glad that he was able to agree with me and not get upset that I thought we were wasting time.

And those are really the only key things I wanted to touch on from this week. The Philippines is becoming a lot easier to live in surprisingly. I made it a goal to talk less trash about the Philippines (Because I used to talk bad about this place a lot, just cause it's so easy to) and that goal has helped me be a lot happier here!

Elder Perkins & I riding on top of a Jeepney 
(cause that's how we get around here) dude,
 the transportation is so unsafe here, but its 
so much fun.  It costs like 50 cents to get to
 a place an hour away
One of the biggest lessons I learned this week is this: When you work hard, you are happy. Period. Working hard keeps your mind away from worry, away from useless problems, and it keeps your mind thinking about how you can help other people. And that's not just on the mission either! I remember at home, when I was working hard (And not having a bad attitude about it) I was so happy, especially when I was working with my dad. (Shout out to dad for being the best dude ever). So if I'm gonna stay happy here, all I gotta do is work, it's just that easy!

Alright that's all for this week! I’ll send some pictures separate from this email to all of you! I love you all, always do your best and great things will come of it!

Elder Austin Cook

Me and Elder Downing. Hes from Gilbert Arizona
 and is seriously my favorite guy out here
P.S.  Oh also, I remembered a story from my past this week that I thought I would share with you.

I remember when Landon and I were young (back when we would hang out with Cory and Colton like every dang day) and I was telling you how rich and stuff they were and blah blah blah. I was talking about how they had a TV in their room, they had a pool table, arcade games, a theater, a pool, etc. And then you just said "Yeah but we have something that's worth more than all of that combined that THEY don't even have: The gospel!"  You probably didn’t think much of saying that, but seriously when you told me that, I was like "DUDE OH MY GOSH SHES SO RIGHT." And ever since then, I've always looked at the gospel like the pearl of great price that it is. So I just wanted to thank you for that :)

picture of the letter that Margie wrote me! Shes so funny.
My camera has a setting that highlights 
the color red and turns everything else 
black and white. I guess my face was 
red enough to capture

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mom I wanted to tell you that honestly I took everything that you did for me for granted

So not a lot happened this week. I really don’t have hardly anything to write about! We have just been teaching lessons, and the work is just slow. Elder Perkins is kind of getting lazy with the work. We spend like 3 hours at each lesson, and I just get bored. We really don’t do much, and I’m always pushing him to get up and go teach as many people as possible, but it never works sadly. I’m going to try to do things differently to get him motivated this week, but we shall how that goes.

But I’m still working as hard as I can despite that! We finally had a service project this week in which we built a fence for the Hernalis! Well I and the grandma built the fence, while Elder Perkins just kind of sat on the porch and watched us. But it was super good to finally do some physical labor!

I LOVE YOU ALL!! ESPECIALLY FAMILY! And mom, sorry for the short mass email this week, but there just wasn’t much going on. I’ll be sure to email more next week for sure I promise!

Oh also, I got a super ugly haircut at the salon the other day. I didn’t have the vocabulary in Tagalog to actually tell them what I wanted, so I just let em have at it, and now it’s ugly. So I didn’t really take pictures with myself in them this week, sorry guys!

With Love,

Elder Austin Cook

P.s. Mom I wanted to tell you that honestly I took everything that you did for me for granted. Being in the Philippines is making me SO MUCH MORE grateful and hardworking. You really were and are the best mom!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Hernali family was so happy to be baptized!

So we had a pretty good week this week and I finally had my first baptism!! The Hernali family was so happy to be baptized finally; it was cool to see how happy they were about it.

me and Elder Peterson (The homie)
So I'll start from the beginning. First off, on Wednesday, we had this thing called trainers training in Legaspi, which is like a three hour drive away from my area, Irosin.  It was REALLY nice to go there because I finally got to see Elder Peterson again! He's doing super awesome, and it was really nice to see a friend from the MTC. We spent a good portion of the day in the mission home (Which is a super nice house that the mission president and his wife live in) just listening to people talk about how to be the best missionary we can be. After the whole training thing was done, me and my trainer, and Elder Peterson and his trainer, went to get something called sili (chili) Ice cream. Let me tell you what this stuff was so weird. It’s basically just super-hot ice cream. They had levels from 1-3 and obviously we all had to choose level 3, and honestly, it was just the weirdest thing ever.

The rest of the week we just spent most of our time preparing the Hernalis for baptism. We were setting all of the details up on Friday, the day before, and asking all of them who they want to baptize them. Amy and Nanay Hernali both wanted Elder Perkins, but for some reason Lory Anne wanted me to do it for her! I was so surprised, I thought for sure she would want Perkins (considering I can’t even speak her language all that well) but I was very grateful that she chose me. The actual baptism was super cool. We were going to do it at the beach, but the weather was supposed to be horrible, so we moved it closer to this one pool nearby. It was still really nice, and all of the Hernali's loved it.

That's really all that happened for this week! I’ll be sure to be more descriptive next week in my email, but I kind of ran out of time today (whoops). But I love you all and pray for you! I'll email again in another short week! :)

Elder Austin Cook

Elder Perkins and I pulling a G.Q. pose..just for fun!

Me and Elder Perkins in our SUPER SEXY JUMPSUITS

Elder Perkins and I

The Hernali family

Me photo bombing Lory Anne's picture

Lory Anne my first convert baptism :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The FHE's here are SUPER CRAZY!!

This week was actually super kicked back surprisingly,  which  was kind of nice.
our family home evening

I'll start at last P-Day. Right after we got done emailing, we went to a member's house for "Family Home Evening." The FHE's here are SUPER CRAZY!! There were like three or four families who got together in this tiny little home, and we just played games and ate food and talked for like three hours! If you lost at one of the games, the winners take a brick of charcoal and wipe it on your forehead and cheekbones. It was so weird, but honestly I thought it was SO MUCH FUN!!

Then I guess I'll just skip over to Thursday. Thursday, after teaching them for a couple of months, the Hernali family has finally decided to get baptized! There were a lot of steps involved to getting them to this point, but they finally want to get baptized. But on Thursday we learned that Sister Amy is actually not married with her current partner, but they still have kids. That’s a common thing over here actually, but luckily, by doing some research into the technicalities of it all, she actually can still be baptized without waiting to get married! And my biggest hope out of all of this is that they will want to get baptized at the beach, because honestly, THAT IS MY DREAM. To baptize someone at the beach is the coolest thing ever. Plus it makes for some super awesome pictures.

Honestly not much else happened this week. We spent most of our time preparing the Hernali family to be baptized. We spent probably more time over there than we should have, but since I’m a trainee, there’s not much I can do about it. Once we spent THREE HOURS at their house. I thought it was ridiculous, but I have no say in what we do since I'm brand new and stuff. Whatever though, if that's my biggest complaint, then obviously things aren’t too bad over here!

That's all for this week! I hope you are all doing well, and I pray for you all every day! Keep doing your best. Make me proud, and I'll make you proud!

Elder Austin Cook 

The food is really good but is SUPER simple. It's always just rice with something on top of the rice, usually meat or noodles and I haven't had any problems with it honestly! I'm not necessarily homesick, but I do think America is BY FAR superior to everywhere else in the world and that I do miss.  I sleep VERY WELL at night, especially if I shower right before bed because it's so hot and humid. I have a fan that blows over me the whole night and it keeps me super cool.  I use the little blue micro fiber towels you made me to wipe my face. Of course you were right about those, they are so helpful!

Washing my clothes is kind of a pain in the butt. We just soak them in water with detergent and then scrub them a couple of hours later. It honestly is not efficient!  
Elder Robinson (This guy is by far one of my favorites)

Fireside we had last Saturday
One of Amy's kids. Literally the ONLY child who doesn't like me

Picture from the beach again today
Some missionaries in our Zone