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Called to Serve

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Called to Serve

Christopher Cook graduated from LCM in 2017 and currently serves as a missionary in San Jose, California.

Christopher Cook graduated from LCM in 2017 and currently serves as a missionary in San Jose, California.

Elder Lahti

Christopher Cook graduated from LCM in 2017 and currently serves as a missionary in San Jose, California.

Elder Lahti

Elder Lahti

Christopher Cook graduated from LCM in 2017 and currently serves as a missionary in San Jose, California.

Erika Cook, Editor

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After graduating, big decisions are made, usually surrounding whether to attend college or join the work force. But for LCM alumnus Christopher Cook, he chose to sacrifice two years of his life, thousands of miles away from home, with only two phone calls home per year, with one goal in mind: to serve.

In February of 2018, Cook opened his mission call for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to serve for two years in San Jose, California speaking Spanish. Usually a missionary can be recognized easily by wearing a white button-up shirt and tie, and riding bikes. Cook has looked forward to this task since he was a child.

Missionaries leave their homes for a year and a half or two years to teach people about the love of Jesus Christ and to serve anyone that needs help. At the age of 18, young men are able to serve while young women wait until they are 19 years old. This is not an easy task for these Elder or Sister missionaries as they have minimal contact with home, consisting of a weekly email and two phone calls to their family a year. This may seem excessive and unfair, but these missionaries are serving and sacrificing for a purpose and would rather not be distracted by the world at home.

“I am currently serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” Cook said. “That means from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep, I am learning and teaching of Jesus Christ.”

Cook, who has been serving for about five months now, lives in a completely different culture. His first six weeks out, he went to Provo, Utah to be apart of the Mission Training Center-or MTC-where young men and women go to prepare to teach lessons and begin learning a different language if they were assigned. The preparation for a mission is different than would be expected, especially since these missionaries are basically kids, as many missionaries leave as soon as they graduate high school.

“To prepare for this, I didn’t have to do anything physically, like go through religious schooling,” Cook said. “All I really needed to do was to be willing to serve, which meant to accept the fact I was giving up two years of my life for a cause that is greater than I am. Once I realized this, then I was prepared.”

Elder Cook was assigned to a Spanish-speaking area, meaning that the population he would be serving is primarily Spanish-speaking residents. This is still something Cook is working on, as it takes a while to perfect a new language, but he said it is much different than learning it in school.

“What is it like learning a different language?” Cook said. “It’s like learning how to paint. At first, it is very messy. You make more mistakes than you can count and just hope no one will notice, even though they definitely do. However, as you practice daily, little by little you improve and the picture becomes much clearer. As long as you have patience and put in the work, it will come.”

Serving in California is completely different than what Cook had left behind in Texas. The culture and customs are something he has had to grow accustomed to, but has not become second nature.

“The people are very different in California,” Cook said. “Being a Spanish speaking missionary, I am around so many Hispanics all the time. It has been a big change to be immersed in their culture, beliefs, and their food. It is also very humbling. I am able to see so many families and people who live in not the nicest of places. There are many houses where a couple families live together so they can all contribute to paying for where they live. These people work the hardest to be here and are the kindest people in California. Being Hispanic, I am able to really understand my own heritage. these people are my people, my family, and I love my family.”

Missionaries work as a constant pair. Hardly ever are missionaries seen by themselves. They are paired with a companion and every month or so will have transfers, which mean they will get a new companion. They have to learn how to work with so many different strangers, and sometimes that is not the easiest thing to do. However, these missionaries try to help and love each other so much so they can show that love towards the ones they teach.

“In Luke it says, ‘After these things the Lord… sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come,'” Cook said. “Jesus Christ instituted the way to preach, ‘two by two.’ This is so each missionary can support each other as we testify of the things we preach. It is also for our safety, physically and spiritually. This work is not an easy one, so having the support of someone who is going through the same thing you are is a wonderful assist. We also keep each other accountable for our calling, to make sure we are continuing the work valiantly and not becoming slothful.”

Cook tries to live by the scripture in Matthew 16:25, that says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” He said that every day his goal is to truly find himself in the service of others and in the service of God.

“The hardest thing about serving a full-time mission is probably not wasting the time I have to serve,” Cook said. “In the grand scheme of life, two years is very little time. It may not seem that way while living it, but it is a short time. These two years are going to affect me for the rest of my life. The experiences, lessons, and memories I can only experience in this unique environment I am in will only come once, so I have to make every moment count.”

It is a difficult thing to leave home not knowing what is going to be faced. In the next two years, Cook’s contact with the world at home would be very limited, but he was aware of this before he left and was ready for it. For missionaries, they are not allowed to call home whenever they want. Every week, on a certain day assigned, they are given a Preparation Day or “P-day” to shop and prepare for the next week. On this day, missionaries are allowed to email their family and friends from home. They are only allowed to call home on Christmas and Mother’s Day, so Cook and his family members are very excited for this Christmas.

“The thing I miss most is probably my family,” Cook said. “It is really a challenge to not be able to communicate with them regularly. However, I know I will experience so much joy when I focus on the families I will be teaching and showing them the happiness that comes from family that I have seen in my life.”

Throughout all the irregular things of life, Cook said he finds the mission to be a great experience to be selfless and focus on the needs of others. A missionary’s goal is not to only teach others, but to constantly be serving those that are around them. Cook said that living a life that is focused on everyone around him becomes much more tranquil.

“My favorite thing about the missions is that I get to never think about myself,” Cook said. “It may sound weird, but it is not only easier but I am so much happier living a life where all I think about is how I can make this person’s life better, or how can I help build their relationship with their Father in Heaven, or how can I help this person feel like they are not actually alone, or how can I help this person know that there is someone that understands exactly what they are going through, being Jesus Christ?”

A lot of people find it odd that a church will send basically teenagers to teach full-grown adults. But these kids have had enough of the experiences and have gone through many of the struggles that the people they are teaching have gone through. They know what they are teaching is true because they have seen the guidance in their own life.

“Something I have learned is that anyone can benefit from the message I share, ” Cook said. “There are so many people in this world who feel unaccepted, who feel discriminated, who feel alone. All of these issues can be solved if everyone understood the very first truth we teach as missionaries, that God is our LITERAL Father and we are his literal children, brothers and sisters. And not only is he our Father, but he is a loving Father that wants us to return to him again. He is always there for us, every single one of us.”

Despite being out on his mission for only five months, Cook has learned so much, from Spanish to learning from the people he serves. There are always major struggles as he is not in the comforts of his home and people are not very kind to him. However, missionaries all over the world work to help the lives of others. They see the good when things are bad. They are out for only a short span of time in the idea of a whole life, and they do not waste this time. They are called to teach and love, but most especially, they are called to serve.

“This calling I hold is a calling received from God, our Heavenly Father, through a modern-day prophet,” Cook said. “I have been sent to San Jose, California to do as said in John 21, which is to feed his sheep. I know this message I carry to the world is of great importance to every soul on the earth. My message is about the love of our Father has for us. Our message will enable you to improve the quality of your lives. It will help you deal with the problems and challenges that we all face in life. Our message tells us that, because our Father loves us, he had called another prophet in our day to restore his power and authority back on earth. We can know this to be true through a book called the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This book, which was translated by a prophet of God named Joseph Smith, testifies of Jesus Christ and what he has made possible for us. ‘We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith WILL gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.'”

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Erika Cook, Editor

Two years ago, I was an above average girl who could make one minute rice in 55 seconds. Since then, I have excelled! I am now a better than normal girl...

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