Monday, January 22, 2018

Tofa soifua

Yep, it's what everyone says. Being near the end of a mission is a big bowl of mixed emotions all sizzling inside of you like pizzookie and ice cream. This week's email is hefy, sorry. Bear with me. 

A friend of mine sent me this picture but it captures what I love doing most here. Gah it just does something to my soul. Feeling like you have helped someone, listening to their life and stories. I'll always keep close every person I have had the opportunity to come in contact with here on Temple Square, where all nations flow. (Isaiah 2:2)
The week was incredible and thank you for your prayers. In an email from my sister today she said in their prayers they have said things like, "please bless [Sister Cox] to enjoy her last [x] days on her mission," or to that extent. I have felt every single prayer pushing me forward. I love you all so much. Thank you for the support you have given me these months on my mission. Not everyone has that kind of support. 

I was with Sister Kathalay from Toronto on exchanges this week (she is a kick booty missionary). During studies, she was sharing something she had learned Jacob ch 5. She accidentally shared this scripture instead of something else she was looking for and it struck true: 

Jacob 5 : 71 
"And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come." 

I do feel joy and I know that God called me here to labor in this part of his vineyard for so many different purposes. I have felt that it was really Him that called me.
Also this week, we read a couple of talks during studies that really stood out. I'll share them briefly. Not many words other than theirs needed. 

Act Well Your Part - Quentin L Cook
"President David O. McKay (1873–1970) often related an account that occurred while he was a missionary serving in Scotland. He was feeling homesick after being in the mission for just a short time and spent a few hours sightseeing at nearby Stirling Castle. When he and his companion returned from visiting the castle, they passed a building where the stone above the door had a carved inscription of a quotation, usually attributed to Shakespeare, that read, “What-E’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.”
Recalling this experience, President McKay explained: “I said to myself, or the Spirit within me, ‘You are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than that, you are here as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. You accepted the responsibility as a representative of the Church.’ Then I thought [about] what we had done that forenoon. We had been sightseeing; we had gained historical instruction and information, it is true, and I was thrilled with it. … However, that was not missionary work. … I accepted the message given to me on that stone, and from that moment we tried to do our part as missionaries in Scotland.”
This message was so important and had such an impact on him that President McKay used it as inspiration for the rest of his life. He determined that whatever responsibility he had, he would do his very best."

Here in this mission it is easy to get caught up in all of the historic relic and information that is here on the square that we get to share. But that history that we share is a tool given to us to share the message of Jesus Christ's restored gospel. This calling to "whatever you decide to do, do it and be it well" --paraphrased from Shakespeare's beautiful words-- is not just a call to action during this short period of time. It is a call to action for our entire lives!
On Sunday On Sunday, the departing Sisters attended music and the spoken word. Lloyd Newell, the Broadcast announcer/writer of the production recognized all the Sisters, where we are from and the Choir sang, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." Also as part of the performance MOTAB sang, "How Firm A Foundation." It set fire to my soul and to my hopeful future. In a good way. Also my heart felt a little sad this day, because this place has really become home, these people have become a family, and it seems so strange to think that in one day so much will change. But, "I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!" (vs 7)
My companion and I also studied this talk together: 
Decisions For Eternity - President Russel M Nelson
"My dear brothers and sisters, each day is a day of decision. President Thomas S. Monson has taught us that “decisions determine destiny.” The wise use of your freedom to make your own decisions is crucial to your spiritual growth, now and for eternity. You are never too young to learn, never too old to change. Your yearnings to learn and change come from a divinely instilled striving for eternal progression. Each day brings opportunity for decisions for eternity."

He is always good at following up on the teachings of Thomas S Monson. :) 
But here's one of a couple reasons this talk was interesting to read at this time: I asked someone to pick a number between 1-17 for a year of general conference talks to chose from. They chose 13. I randomly chose this talk. I have had a quote up on my wall for my entire mission. The quote from President Monson that says, "Decisions Determine Destiny." Such a sweet reminder from Heavenly Father letting me know, once again, that He is here with me on this path.
It snowed this weekend, turning Temple Square into a magical fairyland again. The skiiers coming through were all elated. And maybe me too a little bit. Snow is pretty.

Also I'm 180% grateful for the companion that I've had these past 12 weeks. She's taught me the true definition of "I've got your back." She is an incredible missionary & one of my best friends. Doing my best to try to get her back here to ut after her mission (she's done in March). New Zealand is hard to compete with. 

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sends missionaries out to the world because this message that we share is not just a happy, hopeful story, it is TRUTH. Truth that enables real change and pure joy. I love this work and am grateful for this name tag I have had the privilege to wear. Also for the tattoo stamped on my heart. :)

"Tofa Soifua," 

"Bye" & See you soon:) 
Sister Cox

Met this nice man while on exchanges with Sister Jachens from Germany. He sang us a song about the Temple and finding strength in the Lord. It was beautiful. There is no such thing as coincidence!!!!! 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Connect the Dots

So many things happened this week! Every day something exciting happened actually.

Monday was Sister Evaga's birthday, and I was pretty sick again. Best companion ever.. Also that's why I didn't email. Soooorry. 

Soaking in time with each other.
Tuesday we went to a session at the Salt Lake City Temple with President and Sister Risenmay. Every transfer, the sisters going home will go the last Tuesday of the transfer with the mission president and wife. But because President and Sister Risenmay were leaving because their time is up here, they wanted to go with the departing missionaries this week before they left the mission. It was a lovely experience going with them. We will also be going next week with President and Sister Fischer in the Bountiful Temple because our temple will be closed next week. I feel so lucky to have been able to go to the Temple so often on my mission and feel that it's made a huge difference, helping me to keep the habit. 

President Risenmay being his goofy self. As he and sister Risenmay neared the end of their time here, he just got funnier and more and more laid back. Love this man.
The departing Sisters + two other sisters (my companion and another sister) went to the Temple with President and Sister Risenmay and took pictures all together. We will be doing the same thing with President and Sister Fischer next week before going home, as well as going to eat at the Roof Restaurant together and having a testimony meeting. Here are some of the many fotos and some of the beautiful sisters I came to this mission with.

 a group of us went to the MTC. It was an interesting 
experience being at the end of my mission and going back to where it all began. It made me realize how much has changed, how much is still the same and how much I love missionary work and the missionary training center. I'm not sure I would feel the same if I spent 12 weeks learning a language there..haha. We ate lunch there in the cafeteria and I had no appetite because sick, or maybe it was just the memories of slugs in my fruit last time I was there. ;) (see emails from when I was in the mtc) Then we spent a couple hours online teaching in these high rise rooms with big open windows that were looking over BYU campus. Love that place. ♥ the new Mission presidents and their wives going to different visitor centers all over came and observed us teaching to know and see how it works. Including our new mission President and his wife. My first encounter with them was wonderful. Such genuine, kind, full of love people. I served with a Sister in San Jose who lives in their Stake and we bonded over her and their first mission that they served in Montana together as mission President. (neighbor state friends) 
We had the opportunity to go to the MTC this week to help with online teaching mission President training. THE NEW MTC IS BEAUTIFUL. this is depicting alma 5:46. Repentance is beautiful
Thursday their first day here at Temple Square and they spoke to us in our Weekly Relief society. Something stood out to me that Sister Fischer said,
"You can't eat a whole elephant but you can eat bread, piece by piece. Change comes a little bit at a time." She told us to interview ourselves with Alma 5. Powerful experience. I want to invite all of you to do it too. 

Friday we were able to attend the funeral of President Monson. You can watch it online. 
Also on Thursday we also had the opportunity to go to the viewing. He and his casket were resting in the Hall of the Prophets in the Conference Center. Going up there and being in that room and then walking into the auditorium where he had spoken so many times..I felt such peace. Knowing that He was at rest and that God continues to have someone at the head of this church. I know that God will NEVER leave us alone without guidance. That's loooove.

We attended the Funeral of President Thomas S. Monson, our Prophet. 
We also met with our investigator Lauren and got lunch at Pizza studio. The only thing keeping her from baptism is that her family isn't 100% on board with her, but she is so ready! We are praying that she will feel ready and confident to make this decision. Whether or not they are all on board. Because it really is her decision, and she told us she knows that.  She just loves her family so gosh darn much. I suppose I get that. We would love your prayers as well. :)  

Saturday we did MTC contacting, two sisters came who are going to the Hawaii Temple Visitor's Center. A sister from here in Utah and a Sister from Hong Kong. 

We also had MLC and Zone Conference two weeks ago, so just had to get my monthly pic with sister smith from ZL. 
Sunday over 30,000 young adults were here at Temple Square for the Worldwide devotional with President and Sister Uchtdorf. It was AMAZING. 
I just want to end by sharing a couple of the quotes that he shared with us because President Uchtdorf hit spot on a lot of things I have been thinking about in the past couple months, and I'm he was able to give guidance and help to some of you as well. If you haven't watched it yet, DO IT. 

"If God is for you, who can be against you? If that is the case why should we fear?"
When sharing about Joseph Smith and his companions when they had questions they were pondering, the Lord said, "It mattereth not..only be faithful."

"Strive with all your might to be successful in the things you undertake. And be faithful. Then the dots will connect." 

He also shared a quote from Steve Jobs: "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward." It's when we look back in our life that we realize everything happened as it was meant to. We can't see the future and we just need to be patient. It will all work out :) 

"Do you really want someone giving you the cheat codes to your life before you actually figure things out for yourself? What kind of adventure would that be?"

He encouraged us to do the little things that will give us confidence, peace, and spiritual power. Those things that help us keep the spirit with us and help us to make decisions and to trust in the Lord's timing of things. He talked about how when we look at an impressionism painting up close all we see is a blur, but when we are able to step back we can see the greater perspective and purpose of it all. Sometimes in life we get impatient because we are used to being given instantaneous answers and help, and if the cursor spins for more than one minute we get impatient. haha guilty...

It's easy to get scared about big goals we make. Or maybe we get too scared to make stretching goals at all because we are scared we won't be able to do it. I know I have felt lost before, because I
I love you all. Have am so unsure of what's to come. But I have come to know so firmly that God will take care of us. We just need to have faith, trust Him, be happy, work hard, do the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.
 a superb week

Sister Cox

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

Hiiii everyone hope your holiday season has been wonderful! 

Christmas Eve and ALL THE SNOW
The nights before Christmas were packed and full of miracles and families and chaos and snow. But I don't know much about what happened Christmas night or the days after; Temple Square turns into a petri dish during this time of the year so my companion and I caught the flu and were home all week starting Christmas day. BUT I got to skype my beautiful family and there was a Christmas program where all the sisters sang beautiful Christmas music. I don't know if I've mentioned this before but basically ALL the Sisters here have incredible music ability. It's neat to be surrounded by so much talent and beauty all the time. Also that night Sister Evaga and I moved our beds to the living room where our Christmas tree is, next to the windows where the snow was falling hardcore, turned on Christmas music (aka I Stand All Amazed by Vocal Point on repeat) so we could just lay there and soak in Christmas vibes. I really will never forget this Christmas and this Christmas season. So grateful for how close I feel to the Savior.
Christmas mern. Thanks for the Christmas jammies mum
We had a service project at the end of this week at the Utah food bank, helped to pack boxes of bread and rolls.
At the Utah food bank, they accumulate leftover groceries all over and donate it.

I told everyone who wanted In N Out to raise their did that..
Had a lot of conversations with the missionaries in our zone, to get to know them better and how we can help them. I was talking to one sister about all of the stereotypes about visitor center/temple Square missions. And we realized and talked about how no one will ever really understand what happens here, the pace and difficulty of the work, yet not seeing the fruits of it, the bond with all the sisters we develop, the people we meet everyday, the mission in itself...etc. But that's how everyone's missions are. And how lives are really. We can never understand what someone has done or gone through or experienced it until we do it ourselves. And that's also why it's important not to judge. I think that's why being sick this week was a good experience because it helped me to empathize with the Sisters. And Jesus has felt it all, so it's nice to be able to turn to him too and I'm grateful He will still be with me after my mission. 
Altogether we weigh 2,600 lbs.....haha

Also had exchanges with Sister Wight from SO Cali. Saw so many miracles together I love exchanges so much. We took this family on a tour they ARE SO CUTE The mom is from Serbia, Dad is from Bosnia but they moved to CA and now they have a little boy. They knew nothing about the church before coming to Temple square and just SOAKED everything in on the tour and loved hearing about the way the church reaches out with humanitarian work all over. They wanted to stay in contact and learn more so Sister Wight will continue to teach them:):):) 

Skyping family, only part of the crew I forgot to take pics..
I'm still in the process of figuring out my goals for the year. But something I have been thinking about lately and shared with a family that we took through the video God's Plan for the Family last night, is that it's good for us to have goals. Even Heavenly Father has goals. His goal is for us to be happy and return to Him. And He has plans for us to accomplish that goal. Called the Plan of Salvation aka plan of happiness......... There's a new-ish chapter in preach my gospel "How do I fulfill my Purpose", (ps There will be a new preach my gospel sometime in the near future..) but the chapter talks a lot about making plans with the goals we set. In it, there is a quote from Elder M. Russel Ballard: 

"Over the years, I have observed that those who accomplish the most in this world are those with a vision for their lives, with goals to keep them focused on their vision and tactical plans for how to achieve them. Knowing where you are going and how you expect to get there can bring meaning, purpose, and accomplishment to life...a goal is a destination or an end, while a plan is the route by which you get there...A key to happiness lies in understanding what destinations truly matter--and then spending our time, effort and attention on the things that constitute a sure way to arrive there."

In the words of M. Russell Ballard when he came to visit: You are serving your mission in a magical fairyland.

 That's a nice thought. Easier said than done. But so possible. And I want to do that this year. Accomplish things I have always wanted to do but have been too scared, and become more of the person God wants me to be. So I guess that's why prayer is also kind of important for this.. so that's my challenge for you this week: to sincerely pray about your goals, maybe ask "what lack I yet," and make plans to accomplish them. I'm doing it too. I'm SO EXCITED FOR 2018. And so grateful for the entire year of 2017 to be on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A fun tour we took with these exchange students from India, France, and Spain
Also I have kind of a weird favor to ask if you're reading this, will you share with me your goals and plans?
And also something to help me as well: what is something you have ever pictured me doing for work/school? 

love you all so much! 

Happy New Year from yours truly

Saturday, December 23, 2017

18 month mountain


Yes you heard from me not too long ago and no I am not just randomly writing you on a Saturday afternoon because I feel like it. Our pday switched to today because Christmas will be on pday and we'll be skyping family, doing things as a mission, and we get out and do missionary work because Christmas.

I'll try to keep it brief because travels, family, and the joys of the season need your attention.

I just wanted to share what I shared with the mission in Sacrament meeting when I gave my talk weeks ago. I wrote it because I kept finding synonymous ideas and comparisons between missions and mountains.

I am hiking on an 18 month mountain.
It begins steep. 
It is a challenge to adjust, only because I didn't train before the journey, I had given no preparation, and had neglected a simple stretch.
I grow tired quickly because my heart cannot not keep up with my feet. It feels as though I have left it at the bottom of the mountain. 
I slowly adjust to the incline of the mountain. 
From the beginning I have been given guides to help.
One is a whisper. One is louder, Brazilian and walking next to me. 
She shares with me her weaknesses. I am very aware of mine. I am often sore and tired.  
I am grateful to walk up this mountain Side by side with a few others. We go Two by Two. 
Me and my hiking companion's muscles get stronger, especially as we find and help others on the trail.
When I am weak she shares her water. 
When she is unsure and unsteady I give her an arm to balance on. 
We keep each other from falling off the edge.
Eventually, My heart catches up as I realize where it needs to be. 
Right above my feet.
I put it In the hands of someone who knows me better than myself.
The pace of the climb becomes natural and even begins to feel routine. Like I had been going up this mountain for ages. I try not to complain. Because I see the blisters on others heels are much bigger than mine as they go up the mountain. 
I watch as those I had once walked side by side with, reach the top of the mountain and go back down. 
My mind drifts and wonders what is waiting at the top, or even the bottom of my own mountain.
But as I do so I begin to trip.
My focus returns to what is in front of me. One foot in front of the other..
As time continues and so does the hike, I find that with my experience, I need to be a guide for others. To strengthen them when they are weak. To teach them the things I have learned, to lift as I had been lifted.
I find my endurance to be greater than I had imagined or realized, and I am able to carry a pack or two that another can't carry on their own. And when there are times I can't even carry my own, I find that someone who has climbed this mountain before, and perfectly is there waiting for me to hand him my bags, my water, my sore muscles, my fear.
As I grow closer to the top, I look at how far I have come. But today I realize, it isn't just a climb up an 18 month mountain, it is the beginning of a foundation that must last much longer than 18 months.

I will forever love hiking, the Lord, & Christmas. I'm grateful to be serving Him again on a mission during this season, even when it is hard to be away from my own family. Because one of the greatest gifts we have been given from our loving Heavenly Father is the promise that if we do our best to follow the Savior, we can be with family forever. Here on my mission I get to allow others to see the blessings of that gift as well as the gift of the Atonement, given to us freely out of love. We can find a way to be happy even when we have days, or weeks or years filled with trials or the deep blues. That's not something you can just find under any old Christmas tree.

Joseph Smith's birthday is today, and because he faithfully acted in response to the knowledge and revelation he received from God we are able to receive these blessings of eternal life with our families through the priesthood and in sacred Temples all over the world. 
Our beloved prophet said,

"A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone but 
ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." 

I know that is true because I have felt it. And I know this church is the true Church of Jesus Christ. What a blessing to be part of this marvelous work and a wonder. 
I love you all so much. Feel my hugs.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Just Keep Swimming

Okay so sorry my people for not writing in ages. Last week was transfers and our pday switched to Monday so we didn't have one last week. Everything is basically still the same. I'll be with Sister Evaga, with the assignment at welfare square till the end. Speaking of Welfare square, last Monday Donald Trump came to WS with Elder Eyring and Elder Nelson. No..we didn't take the President of the United States on a tour. I am okay with that. 

We thought of a new theme this transfer to help the sisters because of the crowds of people and focusing on the one individual. It's like an ocean and we want the sisters to focus on the right things, find the anchors to their souls and not just stay afloat. So we are encouraging them to, "Just keep swimming" and being focused on finding Nemo or finding the one person who really needs our help and testimonies. It's something that is helping me personally to continue to work hard these next couple weeks. 

Before transfer changes happened we had a Christmas breakfast as a zone in our jammies and I read Christmas stories to everyone. I felt like a little old lady grandma. "You are Special," and "The Christmas Orange." I love how much they tie into the gospel and apply to us as missionaries! Read them and weep my friends! Shoutout to my my sister and brother-in-law for sending me Christmas decorations so our home can be festive and homey.

Everyone I talk to here when I say I'm from North Dakota: "Oh this weather here is warm for you isn't it?" ha ha. But the nice warm air here in Salt Lake is full of service and Light the World is all over Temple Square and the earth. This past week, little kids came up to us while we were singing carols outside as a group and gave us candy canes. Sweetest thing. And yesterday a ward nearby brought our mission dinner and food bags for us to make our own dinners. That's huge because there are 198 sisters here. I see little things like this everyday and it makes me so happy that there are so many people still keeping the spirit of the Savior in the season. 

We also went to the Christmas devotional and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert at the conference center. Sutton Foster and Hugh Bonneville were guest performers. It was INCREDIBLE. There was a performance with 3 drummers playing "I saw three ships," with the Organist. Rattled my soul. Also Sutton Foster sang Sunshine on my Shoulder by John Denver. It was so beautiful I melted.

Elder Ballard came and spoke to us in Sacrament meeting. He said that when you wake up every morning I hope and pray that you do not murmur. That hit home for a lot of the sisters here, what many needed I think. He shared stories of the pioneers and reminded us of what the early members of the church went through. It's so easy to throw a pity party but it does no one any good. 
Also I've been thinking and seeing lately that anything we selfishly keep we really end up losing in the eternal aspect of things. But those things that we freely give, Heavenly Father will freely give his blessings to us. The concept of sacrifice has been a beautiful thing throughout this Christmas season. 
During our zone leader council this week, I got to Roleplay with president Risenmay so that was fun. He and sister Risenmay will be leaving two weeks before I go home so we are all soaking in the time we have left with them. 
I was studying about testimonies this week and came across the quote from president Thomas s monson: 
“Regarding one’s testimony, remember, that which one willingly shares he keeps, while that which he selfishly keeps he loses. … Teach and testify. There is no better combination.”
–Elder Thomas S. Monson
Service, sharing what we know to be true, light, Christmas oranges. It's all so much better when shared. 

Love you all, have a Merry Christmas! 
Sister Felix from Nigeria. In my zone and roommate, also secretly a troll doll hahah

Every Saturday Sister Evaga and I are with Sisters from the MTC going to different visitor center missions. They spend the day at Temple Square with other sisters to get a good experience. It was a small group this week so we took a foto.