Monday, April 24, 2017

Just pictures for this week, sorry! Love you all ♥
Elder Austin Cook

Pictures 1-3: Pictures from our district activity


Picture 4: So I and Elder Nonu actually got to name this baby. We wanted to name it after our names (Austin and Julius) so we named him Justin. AWESOME RIGHT???

Monday, April 17, 2017

This was the first time that my exchange partner didn't tell me that my weakness was speaking Tagalog! Hearing that was just a fantastic load off of my shoulders

On Tuesday we were able to have interviews with our mission president, President Kotter, in which I mentioned to him that I was having some difficulties with my companion. I didn't give him the whole run-down in fear of sounding like I was complaining, but it was nice to finally tell at least one person about my efforts and about my small struggles. He honestly didn't really give me much advice, but I was able to find my own comfort in just getting it all off my chest.

Yeah, I'm pretty much a superstar with the kids

On Wednesday we had exchanges, and my temporary companion for the day was Elder Mallapre, one of the Zone Leaders. He is a total champion: he is kind, always happy, reserved in his words, and sings like an angel (He actually performs at one of the nicest hotels in the Philippines) yet despite all of that he is one of the most humble missionaries out here. We went around in their area and it was one of the best working days that I've had in a while! He let me lead the area and start all of the lessons and stuff, which is one of my favorite things to do. At the end of the exchanges, we always have a review where we talk about each other's strengths and weaknesses and topics of that nature. We have exchanges every week out here, and this was the first time that my exchange partner didn't tell me that my weakness was speaking Tagalog! He said that I don't have a problem with it at all, so hearing that was just a fantastic load off of my shoulders. I'm still definitely not good, but it's nice to know that I'm improving!
Us hanging at the beach

The rest of the week we just kind of did as much as we could with teaching lessons and such.  We don't have nearly as many

investigators here as we did back in Irosin, but it'll all work out, I'm not worried! My main focus is to just try and be an example to Elder Nonu so that he can get motivated himself. But that's pretty much all for this week! 

Elder Austin Cook 
WHOA!! I TOTALLY FORGOT THE BEST PART OF THE EMAIL! This week was holy week for all of the Catholics, and let me tell you what, things get crazy out here. They had a LIVE PERSON CRUCIFIED! They crucify him, take him through the streets, and then when they are done parading around, they let him down. He's not forced, he was actually a volunteer. They believe that if they do that, all of the city will be blessed. I don't want to make a negative comment here, but yeah, that's what happened, so think what you will 

Baptism that our roommates had

The water that the poor kid was baptized in
photos of us at the beach
me enjoying the beach

Monday, April 10, 2017

The chief of police actually told us he wants us to come back every month!

Hey, what's up kids? So this week was very different from most other weeks because this week was full of service projects and general conference!
that's right, don't mess with us, our friends are police
So first off, on Wednesday, we went to the police station here in Libon to give a little religious discourse to all of the officers here in Libon (which is about 50 I think) Two weeks ago the chief of police stopped us in the street and randomly asked us if we could give an inspirational message to the police officers because a lot of them "are falling into temptation on the job." So we went and were able to speak to all of them and it went really well! The chief actually told us he wants us to come back every month! It was a really great missionary opportunity and will get the missionaries a good name in this city. Even now all of the police are so nice to us and say hi to us in the streets.
On Thursday we had a huge service project with all of the missionaries in the district that took us about 8 hours to complete. Last December, on Christmas day actually, a huge typhoon hit this area of the Philippines and wiped out TONS of houses. Our church donated roofing material that was probably enough for 500 people in the city of Libon alone. So our job was to distribute all of this metal roofing aluminum to all of these 500 people and let me tell you what, that was difficult lifting all of that metal, but it was very satisfying to see all of their smiles and hear all of them saying thank you. It was also very nice to be in the service of all of these humble people for an entire day. I think we may have even been on the news too, but I wasn't really paying attention, so I'm not too sure.
Me and Elder Parcon on a safari hunt (except not in the savanna, 
it's actually just a rice field. I know, disappointing)

Saturday and Sunday of course, we had general conference. What a great opportunity we had to listen to the voices of the prophet and apostles of this day. So many spiritual experiences were shared and the spirit that was felt was so empowering. I don't want to spend much time talking about my favorite talks or whatnot; most of you already know what was said. But keeping the words of the Prophet in mind, we taught a family of investigators about prophets, and why they are important in our day. The father of the family told us that he thinks it's a nice idea that there is a prophet in our day, but he doesn't really believe that it's true. He thinks that all of the prophets and apostles are dead and that Heavenly Father will not give us anymore.
My gift Twinkle and her family gave to me before I left.  
Its hanging on my wall as a reminder of their love for me ♥
We told him that of course there is a Prophet in our day, and his words of council and guidance are meant for us and for our families- to bless us and to help us. It's such a blessing to have the knowledge that we have a living day prophet who is able to speak to us and help us through our struggles. Listening to the Prophet's words will give us strength and help us to be a better person. I encourage all of you to read, in the Book of Mormon, Mormon Chapter 9: Moroni's great discourse on why God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As you read this I know that you will be able to further understand why God gives us Prophets today, and why His power, the priesthood, is here on Earth again.
I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Austin Cook

Just us out tracting.

Elder Parcon on a river garden. It's just a HUGE garden but it's full of water too. I dunno, it's just called a river garden

Monday, April 3, 2017

We came from a loving Heavenly Father who wants the best for us. I know that He is there, and I know He hears us and wants the best for us. We just need to reach out to Him to receive his help :)

This week was just something else entirely, I don't even know how to explain it. Elder Nonu has been such a blessing to me in ways that I don't think anyone else can really understand. In this past week, I've learned how to be more personally motivated, more personally obedient, and 10x more studious and self-reflective. In this last week, Elder Nonu and I realized that we don't have ANY promising investigators, so we hit the concrete and went tracting as much as possible. We found probably 13 new investigators this week, and about 8 of them seem REALLY promising! I'm so excited!

The Lord wants YOU!
Also this past week, I realized that I am just a horrible teacher. (this is him mom now: I think hes being too hard on himself) Seriously we teach a ton of lessons every day, and I've finally taken a step back to look at myself and how I actually teach these people the gospel. And I realized one important thing: I am not good at it. But this week that has been one of my big focuses: teaching with love and teaching for understanding. They say to teach so well that you cannot be misunderstood, and that's what I've been aiming for. So this week I just really focused on what I was doing, and who I was teaching, and things just worked out. The lessons are filled with the spirit, with love, and with understanding. When I actually started teaching right, EVERYONE just started opening up; they told us their life problems, their working conditions, their beliefs, and all of the questions they had in their hearts. It's really amazing how important it is to teach with love rather than just running through the information.

Because of Elder Nonu, I've been able to realize how to get myself more motivated and how to make myself 10x more obedient. I am so grateful for him every day that I'm here!

I think my mom misses my brother and I, she put this on Facebook this week
This week I spent a lot of time thinking about the probability of the existence of a supreme Deity, and why some people seem to believe that there is no God. In my personal opinion, the statement that God does exist is not just probable, it's actually a factual statement. It's stated better in the Book of Mormon, and is probably said better by other missionaries, but the truth is that EVERYTHING on this earth denotes that there is a God. Imagine just simple things that we take for granted: the water cycle, the way plants grow through photosynthesis, the complexities of the human brain. Some people believe in the Big Bang or whatnot, but from what I've noticed, no matter how much of a chaotic, uncontrolled explosion happened, intelligent beings do not just spontaneously appear. Intelligence is deviated from intelligence, there is no other way. To say that the intelligent beings on this earth were produced from smaller beings from other locations in the universe does not even begin to answer the question of where we came from. Though it's hard to face for some people, the answer is pretty simple: We came from a loving Heavenly Father who wants the best for us. I know that He is there, and I know He hears us and wants the best for us. We just need to reach out to Him to receive his help :)
At our District Meeting

I love you all and I can't wait to give you all an update next week!!
Elder Austin Cook

having a fund time at our District Activity

Just having fun at our District Activity

our apartment (ours is just the top floor though) Pretty Cool!

Our district activity today. We went to a place with 
like a bunch of statues depicting the sufferings of Jesus. 
Kinda weird, but all of the missionaries wanted to go 

Just a bunch of random pictures from our district activity,,,,

Just messing around and being boys

I have a mean jump split


Do not ask me?  lol