Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week of Oct 10-16

Elder Carl B. Cook and his wife, Lynette, came to visit our mission Thursday thru Sunday. Thursday evening we had dinner with them at President Layton's house along with the other two full-time missionary couples in our mission. Ingrid and I made the dinner and had everything ready when President and Sister Layton arrived about 7:00 pm with the Cook's. They had been at a Zone Conference in Lancaster all day. Ingrid made a delicious jello salad, apricot scones, and pumpkin
roll for dessert. I made chicken divan and a big green salad (spinach, romaine, cucumbers, green onions, strawberries, grapes, toasted almonds, and poppy seed dressing). President Layton called on me to say the blessing. Everyone enjoyed the dinner. Both Elder Cook and President Layton went back for seconds. Then we went around the table and Elder Cook had us each tell about what we do in the mission and the blessings we have seen.                                                                                         
Friday we spent the day at the multi-Zone Conference in Bakersfield. We met in the chapel of the Bakersfield Stake Center. Before the meeting started Elder Cook had the whole audience come up
row by row to shake hands with him, his wife, President Layton and his wife. They told him their name and where they were from. As we passed by, he again thanked us for the nice dinner and said, "Bless you for your service." There were probably about 100 missionaries in attendance. When the missionaries sing hymns they really open up and it is nice and loud. For a special musical number Elder Casper sang "He Lives". It was beautiful! His mother died a few months ago, he hurt his foot and was on crutches and now walks with a big boot on his foot, but he always has a smile on his face and lights up the room.
After lunch we all sang "Called to Serve" as a thank you to the Relief Society sisters who provided the lunch.             
 (Elder Porras, in the middle, and Elder Cook, on the far right)
Elder Cook taught in the morning and the afternoon. He taught us about real conversion and that the atonement is the central point of this change. (The word "atonement" is only in the New Testament 1 or 2 times. It is in the Book of Mormon 43 times.)  He talked about the five points of conversion:  faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. That cycle should be recurring continually in our lives. Elder Cook likes to say "enjoy to the end" instead of just "endure to the end". Then he taught about individual and companion study focused on their investigators followed by planning the lesson with the investigators in mind. Elder Cook called on Elder and Sister Porras (us) to come up to the stand to be part of the Perez family that the missionaries were teaching in a role play. Kind of scary, but we did it. (This role play was based on a real Perez family that some elders are teaching. The father is in Mexico, the mother was killed by domestic abuse, and the children are left to live and manage by themselves. They are about ages 22 ,she is working somewhere, 18, 16, 14, and 9.) 

At the end of the conference, Elder Cook went down the pews and had each of the 100 missionaries and the l0 or so adults stand and say in one sentence or less what they learned. I said, "to apply the atonement daily in my life". James said, "the importance of your companionship". Then Elder Cook said, "May the Lord bless you, and as you serve, your families will have joy in your service".             It was a huge blessing to be taught by a general authority seventy! James found out that Stan Ellis, who we knew in Houston and is also a seventy was Elder Cook's counselor when he served in the South Africa Area Presidency, so he texted our picture with him to Stan Ellis.

James has been to assigned to home teach with our bishop, Bishop Butler. They went out visiting this week. James learned that he is only 38 years old. He is a really good bishop who loves his ward members.

Since we have been picking Verenice up for church we drive thru the center of town to get to our church building. Some cities have fiberglass painted horses, cows, or roosters displayed on their streets, well Bakersfield has cute, little trucks.