Elder Andrew D. Cook entered the MTC on January 15, 2014. I am excited to update as I know how he is doing, especially posting his mass emails.

Writing & Shipping information is found in the right hand column.

There is also a link to a few different translators to help us guess what Andrew said. :D Sometimes I get a better idea when I remove his ! from a word.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mom's Christmas Present to Andrew

Andrew gave me permission to share my present to him for this Christmas. Merry Christmas and may you feel His love now and forever.

Dear Andrew,

I told you that I had a thought for a gift. My doubts and fears almost prevented me from doing it. I do know though that this is a good thing I choose to do. My mind tells me that you will be disappointed and maybe feel a tad unloved. My spirit assures me that the space you are in at this time is one that will sense and love this more than anything else I could do for you this year. May you know that my love for you is ever so strong. I miss you so much and yet I am so glad you are where you are!

The idea that came to me was to write one or two letters to the investigators. My gift to you is something you can share this holiday season as you serve the Lord.  Of course a copy is also for you. Wow if I can do this. There is a lot of emotion tied to this. 

My love to you,
Mom

His response:

This is a beautiful gift! I am not sure all my investigators can speak english well enough, but I will for sure give this to the Imbat family! also, I would encourage you to post this on the blog, a testimony is only important if we can share it! I love you, And I know the Lord will bless you for your willingness to be a missionary. I have one request though. I would hope you (take out the mother part) and send it to an investigator, or a friend of yours where you live! 
Just remember, Sharing increases the value of any gift de ba? 
well I love you! I'm trying to decicede what to send you here on my end. INgat!

There are three letters. For him they were attached in pdf format. I will copy and paste them here. Sorry if it gets a little long. :D

Letter 1

Greetings from America!

My name is Michele Lewis and I am the mother of Elder Cook. As Christmas approaches it is my desire to share my testimony with you through my son just as Heavenly Father shares His love through His son.

Many years ago as you probably already know there was a decree to tax a beautiful little family. Mary was expecting to birth the son of God. They had to travel. Can you imagine traveling on a donkey in such a state? Maybe in your culture that is easier to imagine than it is in mine.

Her time to deliver came. There were so many people gone to Bethlehem that there was hardly room to walk let alone find a private place for the baby to be born. The innkeepers were sending many away and a new baby to be born made the challenge even more difficult.

One innkeeper took pity on the dear family. He may have had a wife and children of his own and couldn't bare the thought of a baby people born on the crowded streets or he may have just been touched by the spirit of God. He offered his stable. There the young mother gave birth to the greatest gift the world has ever known.

He was called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the prince of peace. He was our Savior Jesus Christ. At Christmas we love to celebrate. I don't know the customs of your country. In my country there is Christmas music every where as early as October. Decorations before November are being sold to prepare for the holiday. The focus seems to be on presents and Santa Claus. This is a fun aspect of Christmas. Sometimes we forget though to really enjoy the true meaning of the holiday. We are supposed to be celebrating the birth of the Savior to the world.

My testimony to you as that he was really born in that stable. That he really did live and grow. That he really did teach as the New Testament describes. That he suffered in the garden of Gethsemane for all of us. That he took upon him not only all of our sins but also he took our pains and burdens. He took our ever experience as his own and then did what no other man nor woman could do. He atoned for us. He was perfect. Without flaw. He never spoke guile. He never did wrong. He kept full control of his anger. Even when he showed it for the Lord it was controlled and led by God. He did it all for us and the Love of His father, our Father.

Because of Him we are able to fully enter the presence of God. We would not be able to do so in our fallen state. The mere act of being mortal brings things that cannot exist in the presence of God. Yet we can have that hope of returning.

There are many great churches in the world today. They teach us to love God and to love others. They don't, however, believe in a living prophets today There is an idea that revelation has died. How though can anyone who has ever just know what to do for another doubt that there is still revelation and guidance from above?

I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is such a church that believes in modern revelation and guidance through prophets seers and revelators. That the Holy Ghost, a gift received after baptism, can easily guide us each day. It takes the beautiful promptings we often have and magnifies them from a once in a while thing to a daily thing. That the Savior lives and love each of us. That families can be sealed together forever. All because of the love of a child born in a manger many years ago to come humbly, to serve humbly, to die humbly that we might live. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Letter 2

Greetings from America!

I am Michele Lewis, the mother of Elder Cook. As a part of this holiday season I bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. May you feel His spirit this year on Christmas.

There was another event that happened in December. This event was the birth of a different baby. December 23, 1805. This child was raised in a area of America that had many churches. They all wanted him to join. They all spoke of the bible and yet their words were often so different. One might that say you could only be saved by announcing I am saved. Another might say there is no salvation for we are all sinners. Still throes would say other things. This left the young boy of 14 with many questions. If they were all using the bible, then how come they were so different?

This boy full of so many questions began to study the bible on his own. He had so many questions. He'd talk to his parents. His mom would go to one church and his dad would join himself to no church. He is dad had a testimony of God but had found no sense of home among any of the churches. This boy was Joseph Smith. He came across this scripture: 
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 
Upon reading this he decided to try it out. He would ask God. He made preparations. He knew that this was not just a little task of kneeling in his bedroom with his siblings to watch and hear. No this was important and needed to be carried out with care. He went to a grove of trees out away from everyone. There he knelt and began to pray.

He was overcome with the darkness of the devil. He could not speak and he became very afraid. His heart continued to pray. He begged for release and soon it was that he darkness could not be there any more for the Light was so great. Two beings and a glorious feeling of peace came upon him. This was God, the Father and His son Jesus Christ.

This beautiful experience is known as the First vision, for Joseph had many chances to talk with the Savior after this first vision. In that vision he learned that none of the churches were complete. Joseph was to join none. He'd be prepared to bring forth the restoration of the true and living gospel. He'd  restore priesthood powers to the earth. He'd restore a belief in eternal life and families being sealed together forever.

Nearly 200 years later this restored gospel has spread throughout the world. We send missionaries to share the love and hope promised in the gospel. We let our loved ones leave us with only written contact and a couple of phone calls for 18 to 24 months. Any parent, especially a mother, can think about how hard this must be. To allow a child, who may be your best friend, to travel to the other side of the world. To learn languages he would never hear otherwise. To meet beautiful people and share the love of the Lord with them.

I know the gospel is true. I know that Joseph Smith received answer to his prayers and that you too can receive such answers. That you too can kneel with sincere questions and receive. Not just about the gospels truth, you can receive answers for all that is weighing on your mind or heart.

I know that the Savior suffered in the garden of Gethsemane and died on a cross for us. I know that he was resurrected that we too can be reunited with God. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that we are lead today by a prophet. The gospel is restored

May you feel His spirit. May you seek His blessings. May you remember to pray in all you do.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Letter 3

Greetings from America!

My name is Michele Lewis and I am the mother of the elder who gave this to you. Elder Cook is truly blessed to have the opportunity to meet you and share messages from the Lord with you. Merry Christmas! It is a time of great joy as we turn our thoughts to the birth of the Savior of the world.

I want to share my testimony. After the Savior suffered in the garden for us he was crucified. He returned to our Father in Heaven. He was resurrected and his ministry on earth was not yet finished. In the Book of Mormon there are accounts of some of His ministries.

You can read in 3 Nephi of how he appeared to the people of the Americas. He visited and shared the gospel with the people of that land. Reminding us that He loves all of His children no matter where in the world they are.

I love the Book of Mormon. It was written about a people that lived a long time ago. They escaped Jerusalem and traveled to a new world. They were guided to the new world. Here they grew families and experienced life. They had wars and they had peace. They had prophets to guide them and experienced the ups and downs that we know of life ourselves.

They of course saw the Savior and lived in peace for many years and generations following His coming to them. They felt his spirit of truth in the words they were taught as generation after generation was born. They experienced a forgetting of that love and a return to a war like state. In the end, the book was buried and later found in the early 1800s as Joseph Smith was led to them during his desire to know the whole truth of the gospel of Christ.

Moroni gives a beautiful promise at the end of the book. A promise that allows us to know for ourselves if the book is true. In Moroni 10:3-5 he says:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder them in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things
For me there is a spirit that I can feel from the pages. I read the bible, and it is a good book, there are times when the spirit speaks strong to me. The spirit that I feel from the Book of Mormon is a constant spirit of love. To read it with an open heart allowing it to sit within for a bit is beautiful. I hope you too read this book. I hope that you will feel the spirit within. I hope that you will ask if it is true.

Is it really from God? Yes, it is. Is it really an account of a people long ago? Yes, it is. Was it really translated by a poor farmer boy? Yes, it was. You know that the spirit of the Lord can speak to any of any rank or power. You know that money and status do not dictate whether the Lord's spirit speaks to you. I believe you have felt His spirit. You know that it can be given freely to all mankind no matter where or who they are.

Through a testimony of the Book of Mormon and baptism you can receive a gift that will bring that spirit into a constant and more focused existence.

I leave my testimony that He, the Savior of the world, lives. That He died for us. That He came again so that we too might live again. That He visited other people and left another testament of His great love for us. That His spirit lives in the Book of Mormon and you too can have that with you at all times and in all places. I testify that you are a beloved child of God. He has been waiting for you and He has sent these missionaries to you for a reason.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.