Sunday, August 13, 2017

Got these dope sunglasses my mom sent me
in my package. From left to right Elder Caballes,
Elder Semaning, Elder Alutaya, & I.
So this week was fantastic kids. On Tuesday we had this thing called a "Cluster Conference" in which like half of the mission gathered together to listen to President and Sister Kotter speak to us. Their focus on this cluster conference was planning correctly and learning how to find people to teach correctly. It was nice, but that was kind of mine and Elder Caballes' strong suit, so we didn't really get as much out of it. But it was nice to sit in the air conditioning for a whole day!

Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Hoecherl, who is companions with Elder Duerme. They live in the house with us, so we always work together on stuff. Anyways, it was a really nice day working with him, just two Americans hittin the city and such. But we actually ran into a guy who I had never met before named Michael Pines. He apparently was baptized like FOREVER ago, but he told us that he went inactive about 15 years ago because of some huge mistakes that he had made in the church and the guilt just scared him from going back to church. Anyways, I started talking to him while Elder Hoecherl was talking to some other family nearby about our message. But Michael opened right up to me, telling me that he wants to change and that his past 15 years has basically been hell because of the guilt. But he wants so badly to change and after our long conversation, he thinks now would be an appropriate time to start. I had no idea why he opened up like that to me (seriously, I had never even met him before) but I'm glad he did because I was able to help him and show him that we would be there for him in anything he needs.

Our incredible investigator Maria Christina Saya
Thursday we only got two lessons in the morning with Maria Christina Saya and her niece, Judy Ann Saya. We taught about the Book of Mormon and why it is so important for all of us to read and understand. Maria Christina has quickly become one of my favorites, and she always calls us her sons. I remember when we first met her about two months ago, her life seemed so dark and dreary, and she just had this depressed look about her. But now that she's been doing what we ask her to do and finally went to church last Sunday, her whole countenance has changed and she is always smiling. I swear her face gotten brighter.

We had been walking for about 30 min and just got board
Friday we taught the Docot family and Maria Christina Saya came along because she wanted to listen as well. Well we ended up showing the restoration video, which is basically a little 20 min video about the life of Joseph Smith. Anyways, after we showed the video, they finally understood what we claim as missionaries. They finally understood that we claim that THIS is literally the ONLY true church on the face of the earth. While others may be nice and happy, this is the only one that Christ himself established. Once they understood that we extended the invitation to be baptized on October 7, which they all happily accepted! We are so excited for all of them!

On Sunday we finally saw Maria Christina Saya at church for the first time, and let me tell ya what, that was a hard one to accomplish. But it happened and she had an amazing experience!

Just helping some random people move their 
pumpkins from off the street
This past week has really been awesome! Everything here is still hot and still sweaty (honestly I thought I would just stop sweating after a while, but I guess it just never goes away) but we are still loving it! Being a District Leader is great and I love all of the missionaries in the District. They all have some baptisms coming up as well, so I'm super excited for all of them.

So that's all for now folks. I wish I could explain even 15% of what really happens here, but I guess I'll save it for when I get home to tell you all :) Anyways, I love you guys and hope yalls have a great week!

Elder Austin Cook

Monday, August 7, 2017

Now that both members of the companionship are being obedient and truly loving the work, people just walk up to us on the daily asking if we can teach them and their children

Alright so we FINALLY had the baptism of three of our investigators this week! Sister Lilia Cerdena, Estanley Arao, and Connie Sabas. Their baptism went great and they really really loved it!

Baptism day
This last week Elder Caballes and I have been working hard as usual! It's really funny, now that both members of the companionship are being obedient and truly loving the work, people just walk up to us on the daily asking if we can teach them and their children. In fact, just yesterday we had a woman named Evelyn walk up to us and asked us for a pass along card and told us to come and teach her family so that they can all go to church. So yeah, I'm really loving this area right now!

Baptism day with Estanley Arao

So we have been teaching this one lady named Maria Christina Saya. I've mentioned her before, she's the lady whose husband was basically beheaded in front of her a couple of months ago. Anyways, she has been absolutely LOVING our lessons and the Book of Mormon, and she really has been feeling the spirit when we teach. But last week for some reason she told us that she can't continue listening to us because of "Personal reasons." Well we remembered the last time that happened to us with the Docot family, and we were determined to not have a repeat, so we called her and told her that we would visit one last time and she hesitantly agreed. We went over there and I guess we just asked the perfect questions for her to open up to us. Honestly her reason for not wanting to listen was so sweet. She told us that our lessons and the Book of Mormon have been infinitely helpful in her life, but she knows that we missionaries get transferred around a lot, so she knew that we will eventually leave. She said that Elder Caballes and I are just a perfect team, and that she can see and feel our kindness and love for others, and she said that we are like her sons, so she said that she doesn't want to get too close to us and have it hurt too much when we leave. It really was such a sweet thing coming from the honesty of her heart, but we were able to comfort her and explain to her that even though we might leave, the other members in the church won't and that she will create eternal friendships in the branch in Libon. She really took courage with that and has agreed to continue following what we ask her to do. Even though I'm probably going to get transferred in a couple of weeks, I really believe that she will become a very strong member of the church.

On our way to the baptism
That's really all I wanted to tell about this week! Being a District Leader is really a blessing in my mission and I just LOVE having the opportunity to help all of the missionaries in the District! Every week their work is getting better and better and they are all becoming more and more obedient, I really do love them all!

That's it for this week. I love you all and will update you all again in another short week!

Elder Austin Cook

I dunno... just for fun

Just for fun
super silly selfies
silly selfies

who knows...

photos of our apartment

our apartment ... no air and really hot and humid

our abode

This is actually the area where we sleep. We just lay our little 
pads down on the floor and sleep their with all of the fans