Monday, December 29, 2014

Last year around this time one of my zone leaders told me that 2014 was going to be the year I would be a missionary ALL YEAR. At the time, I thought it put into a dizzying perspective of how long I'd actually be here, but now here I am in the blink of an eye at the end of the year. Part of me feels like I was born a missionary, will always be a missionary, and will die a missionary. That my family is actually made up and I was created as a robot strictly to do missionary work with fabricated memories of childhood and youth. The other part of me feels like I've been here for a couple months and it's flying by. I'm sure my brothers understand what I mean.

Anyway, not much has changed since Thursday! We got to have a Skype lesson with Shane while he's in Nebraska. We Skyped in his member fellowship from Mesa on one iPad, and Skyped him on another, faced the iPads toward each other so they could see each other and taught him the Plan of Salvation. It was pretty sweet!

I guess I did forget to talk about MLC too. So on Tuesday we went to the temple as a mission and by 1:30 were expected to be at the mission home dressed in p-day clothes. Long story short, President didn't get out of the temple until way later and so we left by 3:30 ish. He wouldn't tell us where we were going or why we were in regular clothes. So, we drove in a caravan for THREE HOURS until we arrived at Hyder branch in the middle of nowhere. There's just a tiny little church building in the middle of the desert. We ended up having a 40 or so minute training followed by dinner and stargazing and then we drove back. We got home at like 1:00 in the morning. It was pretty funny to drive for a total of like 6 hours for a rushed training and dinner but hey, I'm not complaining.

Welp... more to come next week! Love y'all!

-Elder Cox
Dec. 15
Wooot Wooot! Just set a new record for longest consecutive area AND companion! Elder Erikson and I are stoked to say that we are both staying so there's that.
First item of business I guess would be Jeffrey. He's been doing super well and we had the opportunity to take him to the Mesa Visitors Center last week. We watched the Joe Smith movie and it was pretty good. It seems like they have a different version every time we go there, but whatever. He liked it, and he even came to church yesterday! For whatever reason... we haven't invited him to be baptized yet. That literally never happens. I always invite people to be baptized. For whatever reason... we haven't yet. We'll get on that this week.
As for Gabe, he apparently talked to his Dad about baptism and he said he's happy about it, but he still needs to talk to his Mom. I think he'll be good to go right after the break. He says he'll be back and forth between campus and home so I think we'll be able to teach him quite a bit. He doesn't live far from campus so that's a blessing.
As for Shane, he's doing well as far as we know. I think we'll have to Skype him and his member fellowship whenever we want to teach them, but that's still a huge convenience. Not complaining about that at all. #ipads
Those are our main people that we have. Last Sunday we were visiting a Recent Convert who's been less-active for a really long time. We see them all the time and we're way cool with them and they love having us over and everything they just... never come to church. Or read. Or pray. Or do anything. Well last Sunday we go to one of their apartments and we walk in and there's beer cans everywhere. They had beer pong set up, empty bottles of vodka, and trash all over the place. Needless to say, that was pretty awkward for all of us. We're just like... what the heck guys? Just... decided to throw a rager or what? Anyway, we're trying to keep them on track.
Our Mission Conference will start Sunday night at 7:00 with the Mission President's Devotional that we have once a month that we can invite investigators to and stuff. Then Monday we'll be chillin with the mission all day, and Tuesday morning we'll go do a session at the Temple. Then we have 2 hours of p-day, and for the leadership we'll have an MLC for the rest of that evening. THEN it's Christmas Eve, in which we probably won't do anything, then Christmas. Needless to say, next week is going to be pretty worthless as far as teaching opportunities go. Should be sick though!

Welp, I think that's about it! See ya'll next week!

-Elder Cox
Dec. 8

It's been a good week! We had a lot more productive of a week than the last few have been. We've been working hard and praying for more people to teach and we got some! Always good. We had something like 6 referrals this week, which is quite a few!

Let's see. This week we had our zone conference. It was pretty good, and the analogy was made between missionary work and war. The sense that we're fighting a battle and we need to be exactly obedient and what-not in order to conquer the forces of Satan. It was a pretty good training! A lot of times when President gets at the podium he's renown for making corrections. Like... every single training I've ever been in since last year he's done that. He really doesn't like to do that, so I guess he's trying to change his game a little bit. Anyway, it was nice to actually hear him teach and testify of different things. Living with the AP's, they got us psyched up for it by telling us he was going to delve into the scriptures for like 2 straight hours. Unfortunately, for our zone he ran out of time before he got to that. In any case, it was good. We have a missionary in the mission that served in Afghanistan and got his legs "swiss-cheesed" by a road-bomb. He now uses a cane, etc, but for the whole war analogy they had him going around to all the zones and talking about his experiences. It was pretty cool!

Okay, another awesome thing that happened this week was with a lesson we had with Jodie. She's REALLY hot and cold when it comes to the Gospel and her testimony. Well last week happened to be a "cold" one, so we had a lesson with her on Wednesday. Jodie's lessons are such that she invites her own "Member-Presents" to help us teach, so that's cool. She invited this guy named Thomas that is in one of the other YSA's on campus, the AP's ward, actually. The AP's warned us that Thomas would completely hijack our lesson if we didn't tell him exactly what to say. Honestly, we didn't really know what to say either so we were planning on letting him. So we did. In the lesson we got about 5 words in, and Thomas just went off for like over an hour. Now, usually my experiences with members hijacking lessons are terrible ones, but this was actually way legit. Long story short... his testimony of the Savior was way awesome and Jodie was completely content after. Not only that, but Elder Erikson and I both agreed that it was even more spiritually edifying than Zone Conference was. It was very refreshing, and one of the most powerful lessons of my mission. Can't really... describe it other than that, but you get the point.

We got a new investigator named Jeffrey! He was a referral from a member in a different ward, his cousin or something. Jeffrey has been around Mormons his whole life, a lot of his family members are Mormon, he's gone to Mormon church several times, and knows a bunch about it. Anyway, Jeffrey wants to settle down, get to know and socialize with the right kind of people. He came to the right place! We have only had two lessons with him so far, but they've been good ones. I bet he'll be super solid!

We took Gabe to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center to watch Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. It was like... way legit. He still wants to talk more with his parents about baptism, so it probably won't happen until after Christmas break, which starts this week. Apparently during break, instead of having 3 wards on campus, it turns into 1 Sacrament meeting where we all just combine. We'll see how that goes. Pray for me to stay in this area, pretty please? I really don't want to go. This is my 2nd consecutive transfer here too, and I've never thus far spend longer than 2 consecutive transfers in an area. I'm pretty superstitious.

Oh yeah! We have a new kid named Shane! Ok seriously, he's super solid! He met with missionaries in High School, had a baptismal date, and just... ended up not being baptized. Just fell through the cracks! Funny story, so we met Shane at an FHE when he was chilling with a member named Andrea. That was a couple weeks ago. Last week we got a referral from other missionaries for this kid named Skyler. We give Skyler a call and set up an appointment for right after last FHE. So we're waiting after FHE and Shane comes up to us with Andrea and just starts talking to us and stuff, we recognize him from the FHE that we met him at before. We give Shane a Book of Mormon and we're like man, where is this Skylar kid? He's not texting us back. Shane is about to leave so we grab his number from him and plug it in the phone. We realize that... we had already been calling and texting Shane, because apparently Shane and Skyler are the same person. SUPER CONFUSING. Anyway... he's legit. Probably didn't make sense but... that's alright.

Anywho, that's all folks! Love y'all!

-Elder Cox

Monday, December 1, 2014

This week was a little bit ( a lotta bit) slower than most simply because of Thanksgiving break. I think we got a good taste of what Christmas break is going to be like around here on campus. It's been a ghost town since around Wednesday, but we've kept ourselves busy!

Thanksgiving we got to have 2 dinners. One of them was at 2:00 and the other I thought was going to be at 5. Turns out it was at 4:00. The 2:00 dinner didn't start until about 2:30 and I thought I saved plenty of room for the next dinner. I was wrong on a lot of accounts. We finished our first dinner at about 3:15 and had 45 minutes to try and digest before the next meal. Needless to say, I couldn't eat very much on the second dinner. Didn't quite even finish the first plate. All well! We had our second dinner with our recent convert Jodie and her fellowship Sara and Sara's family. It was pretty sweet, and even taught a lesson after the dinner. Do work.

After that we gathered at the Institute building with our zone. We borrowed the mission projector, borrowed Frozen from Jodie, took all the soft chairs out of the lobby and put them into the gym and we watched Frozen. It was easily the best movie I've seen all year! Tons of fun.

Other than that, we were just anticipating Gabe talking to his parents about baptism. His report was that they were very open and receptive to the idea, but that they all want to pray about it and stuff first. I can't say that I blame them, I think it's a fantastic idea. Who knows, maybe we can rope his parents into it. Anyway, he's still doing super well and he's definitely ready, just a matter of a date at this point. We're really hoping for early December. We're going to take him to the Visitors Center in Mesa on Tuesday so maybe that will help him!

Have you guys seen the new Christmas initiative that the church has? It's called "He is the Gift", and they're encouraging all the members to #sharetheGift on social media and stuff. I guess a lot of our family aren't the social media type, but for those who are... hit it up! They have a cool little website which has the cutsie li'l video.

Well it's December now... that's weird. I'm going to keep telling myself it's August. Partially because it's still like 75 degrees outside. Before you know it we'll get to Skype! Until then, have a great week!

-Elder Cox
So, Happy Thanksgiving! That time again already! Seems like just yesterday I was with Elder Francis (the first time) chilling in our tiny room on Thanksgiving hoping we'd be together for Christmas. Weird. Last Thanksgiving of the mission though! Crazy! I'll see you next year! ;)

President Toone just announced the Thanksgiving policy this morning and basically we just get 2nd P-day. I won't complain about that. Surprisingly he said if we take an investigator we can even go to a "Turkey Bowl". I don't think we will, but I'm shocked nonetheless. We might even get to watch a movie with our zone! *fingers crossed*. Other than that, we'll have probably 2 dinners. NBD.

So last week we had our Zone Meeting for this transfers training stuff. One of the things we talked about and introduced was our new "theme" this transfer: 你好奇迹
(ni hao qiji) Which means, "hello miracle". Honestly it doesn't make sense in Chinese... or English, but that's our theme. What we committed our zone to do is to pray every morning in companionship study for a miracle that day. Then we look for the miracle throughout the day, and at the end of the day we say a prayer of gratitude for the miracles we received. Pretty cool eh? We have definitely seen loads of miracles. I'll see if I can recall a few of them!:

Most recently is the fact that our super-recent convert Bailey Ellington visited with her family this week and her parents didn't even bring up her baptism. They were super antagonistic towards it and was begging her not to, but apparently all of that was smoothed out! So sweet!

Do you remember me talking about Janette? She was taking 3 institute classes and decided she wanted to meet with missionaries. She had already read the BoM and gained a testimony of it and was basically ready. We had to pass her off to a different ward because of a bunch of complications with her living situation. Long story short, she decided she didn't want to make the lifestyle changes. We met with her one last time and she just said that she appreciates everything but that she's still going to just take institute and wait for... ever. We encouraged her to pray about the things she had concerns with, even though we could tell she already knew the answer, she just didn't want to live it. So that was that and we went our separate ways. Well randomly last week she texted us saying "I got the answers I was looking for and I'm going to make those lifestyle changes". So, we got her in touch with the other missionaries again and as far as we know, she's still going forward with baptism. Pretty sweet!

I can't really remember the other miracles. Maybe I'll hopefully keep track this week probably. Convinced? Me too.

Anyway, God is a God of miracles! Part of my training included the importance of exact obedience. I demonstrated the principle by talking about Moses and how every time the Lord told him to do something, he did it with exactness and was able to see miracles. Included in that was the fact that the magicians of Pharaoh could replicate the miracles as well, and that the adversary has power as well. Plenty of disobedient missionaries still have success, but in the long run they deny blessings for themselves and/or their investigators and recent converts. Anyway. Obeying the commandments brings blessings and stuff.

Welp, happy Thanksgiving! We have a lot to be grateful for! I'm grateful for my family, the gospel, music, friends, and much more. We are blessed.

Peace love and blessings
-Elder Cox

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The pizza eating challenge

Baptism photo
Okay so first things first: I ate a pizza. Here's the story:
I ate a big pizza.
Okay but really, there's this place called Venezios that sells pizza, right? Well apparently they have a pizza-eating challenge that includes you and a friend eating a 24-inch "party pizza" in under an hour. If you complete the challenge you get a free t-shirt, and your picture on the wall of the restaurant. We went out to eat there with a recent convert and he said he always wanted to do it but no one was ever man enough to accept the challenge. Having my bowels filled with mercy I accepted the challenge, soon to have my bowels filled with pizza instead. Long story short, we did it. We ate the whole pizza in 31 minutes. I even wrote "" at the top of our picture before it was put on the wall. Really what I'm getting at is, I'm awesome.

We had MLC this week again. Man, I swear there's an MLC every week. Truthfully, we're in the latter part of November and it's just that time again. Weird. Six quick weeks! Anyway, the analogy was made of missionary work to a war. Christ is our leader and we're all fighting sin and the adversary, etc. Pretty cool. Not much more to it!

So uh, yeah, Bailey got baptized. That was pretty legit! Her family was suuuper mean about it, but she did it anyway! Props to her. It was a great service and holy cow, you should've heard her testimony. She straight-up wrote a talk and shared it at her baptism. It was soo legit. I don't know how to describe it other than she gets it. She's on par with any of us with her understanding of the gospel, I think. Pretty awesome!

Other than that all our investigators either got baptized or completely stopped contact with us for the past few weeks. I guess we're back to square 1 with a pretty dry teaching pool and a lot of finding to do. I have high hopes about the Christmas season though! Hopefully people will understand that the Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ. I think we can "sell" them on the fact that we can have that feeling with us all the time. Way cool blessing!

OH YEAH! I almost forgot about the Temple dedication! We watched all 3 sessions at the Institute building yesterday and it was super legit. Bailey even got to go, and Jodie was there too! Way cool experience for them. I remember not too long ago saying very similar things about a recent convert Karen and her being able to watch the Gilbert Temple dedication. Deja vu. Man how time flies! Anyway, we got to hear from President Uchtdorf and Monson as well as Elder Oaks, Elder Robins (one of my favorites) and others. Good stuff.

Welp... that's all folks. The church is true! Love ya.

-Elder Cox

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Here's a picture we took at the Phoenix Temple open house. Yes, it's just a backdrop picture. Pretty classy though!
Sup family?

Our ward had another baptism! It was an investigator the sisters were teaching named Katie. Katie's legit! She's actually the person who referred that cool jazz bass kid Gabe. She referred him long before she was even baptized. Also awesome, last month she bore her testimony on fast Sunday. How cool is that?! She wasn't even a member yet and she got up there and testified of how she knew the gospel was true. Our converts have been preeeetty legit as of late.

Speaking of legit converts, Bailey is getting baptized this weekend! We're super stoked for her too. She has been involved in the ward choir and has played special musical numbers at church and other peoples' baptisms since waaay before she was a member! Seriously, our investigators are just members... that... aren't baptized. Anyway, she's really excited! She still hasn't talked to her parents about it, and we aren't sure when she's going to, but we're leaving that up to her. We pray for the best!

To add to our awesome investigators being awesome, Gabe said the closing prayer for Elder's Quorum last week. So... that's pretty legit too.

Jodie is still doing way good! She had a lot of concerns about going to the temple for baptisms and we did everything we could to resolve them. We didn't think she was convinced, but turns out she had an interview with the Bishop and we're pretty sure she went last week. Super cool! Usually after baptism we teach the "new member lessons" which is just the same 5 lessons retaught. We started those last week, and instead of us teaching her the Restoration, we role-played her teaching us and we pretended to be nonmembers! Sweet right? To top it all off, we gave her a hard-copy Preach My Gospel. Last week she texted us as she was hanging out with her friend and telling us how she got her to accept a Book of Mormon! She was talking about Creation and Genesis with her friend, then tied in Agency, somehow brought up Moroni 10, and her friend accepted it. What the heck? We told her we might as well give her a nametag. She even gave her friend a "will you" commitment invitation to read every day. I don't even know what else to say. Just "wow".

We got a couple other people that are awesome! We get a lot of referrals, which is always good. Member work is just the way to go!

As for me, I'm still great of course. We literally have the coveted spot of the mission. Being in University ward, in the Tempe YSA zone. Super legit. Our zone also doubled in size after transfers. Usually President would have each set of Zone Leaders be in a YSA ward, and they would be in charge of whatever zone is in their area. Things are changing recently where President wants to have ZL's for every Stake in the mission. So, since the YSA wards are in the YSA stake, they changed things around. Essentially, everyone in our zone is either a District Leader, Sister Training Leader, former Zone Leader, or a brand new trainee. Isn't that legit? Such a powerhouse. We were looking at our zone during planning and realized that 7 of the Elders are former ZL's and going home within 2 transfers. Anyway, I guess all I'm saying is... it's legit. I don't anticipate having too many issues within the zone. We are so blessed!

Anywho... that's all folks. Have a great week!

-Elder Cox
The angel of death has passed by me! I finally get to stay! Looks like it's another 6 weeks of ASU! Elder Erikson is staying as well, but our third, Elder Baker, is training somewhere else... So that's a bummer.

I don't even know where to begin this week. Can you believe that it's already November? What the heck? I swear it's still August. Probably because up until today it's been 90 degrees still. Today it finally got a super cold 62 degrees. We're wearing sweaters. I'm not joking. It's freezing. I'm going to die next winter.

Let's see here... had a pretty good week. Lots of our cool investigators have flaked SO hard this week, which is lame, but we did get to teach some people. Sterling has especially been off the radar, but we'll get him. Something weird happens when you put people on date for baptism. Satan just attacks them immediately and you just have to fight for their souls for the next few weeks. It's crazy! He'll make it though!

As for Halloween, you guess it mom! We just went around party-hopping at all the wild parties on ASU campus. It was crazy! Not really though. We had to be in our apartment by 5:00 so... you can imagine how the evening went. Actually, you probably wouldn't guess. My roommates all wanted to go to the apartment gym and work out for 2 hours. For me, the 5:30 workout is good enough. So I went to another missionary apartment and played Clue. It was SO wild. I guessed Mrs. White in the Study with the Pipe, but she actually did it with the wrench. Life in the mission can be so hard sometimes! :'(

Haha we had fun. We were also fasting for Bailey on Halloween. She is going to talk to her parents about her baptism really soon. They're not super supportive so we're hoping she can have the Spirit tell her what to say and that her parents would be receptive. Hoping for the best!

Saturday we actually did go to a party. With the whole "JustServe" thing going (have I talked about that? Probably not. Look it up) we volunteered for the ASU day of service to help set up for the Homecoming Block party that they had before ASU's homecoming game against the U of U. So that was pretty fun. It reminded me a lot of Murray's Arts Fest. It was super weird because we were all just in normal clothes with our nametags on just going around helping people set stuff up. It was pretty legit though! I wish we could've gone to the game but, no dice. ASU won though, in case anyone was wondering. ;) We got a picture with Sparky, the ASU mascot before we left though. Pretty sweeeet.

Other than that, we're meeting with Gabe again tomorrow. Last week we asked him why he wasn't baptized (pretty much just straight up) and the only reason he gave is because he feels like he doesn't know enough people, and that his family would be un-supportive. So we asked him to pray about a baptismal date and get back to us. Hopefully that will happen tomorrow!

Janette accepted baptism for the 22nd as well, but we're pretty much for sure going to have to pass her off to someone else. Darn!

Drew wasn't there on Sunday, so no update on him.

I dunno, other than that I'm just SUPER stoked about staying here. This ward is the bessst. With transfers, two of our sisters are going to train. Sister Lin is a missionary from Taiwan and speaks Chinese. We just happen to have like 4 visa-waiters coming to our mission that are headed to Taiwan! So we're certain that her and the sister she lives with are both going to train the Chinese visa-waiters. We're going to have our own little Chinese zone. Ni Hao!

The church is true. We got to hear from Elder Uchtdorf and Christofferson on a Stake Conference broadcast yesterday. Super cool! The Phoenix temple is getting dedicated in two weeks. Big things here in AZ folks. Big things. The work is hastening! Jump on the train before it takes off without you!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Okay, so first off: Jodie's baptism. Way legit! We had a super good turn out, and everything worked out great! All went according to plan, and it was beautiful. Another person enters into a covenant with God. Woot! Another way cool part is that her friend named Jason was there to support her. Jason is a non-member, and it's way legit that she's already been doing member missionary work. Super stoked! After the baptism, we had a lesson with Jason. At the lesson we had 2 return missionaries, 3 full-time missionaries and a very freshly baptized recent convert. It was so powerful! Jason didn't know what hit him. POW.

Another awesome thing that I'm not sure I mentioned about Jodie's conversion: So after she was baptized she shared her testimony of her conversion, etc. She said that the moment she knew that the Book of Mormon was true was when she read 1 Nephi 2: 15: "And my father dwelt in a tent". Never underestimate the power of the scriptures! I don't know what it was about that verse, but it just... resonated with her. Isn't that sweet? Even a verse that is seemingly useless can provide a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. That verse is also way cool for other reasons but, that's a conversation for another day I suppose.

So the open house! We had Bailey and Jodie at the open house. And Jodie's friend. The morning before her baptism. I guess I could have done it in chronological order, but whatever. So yeah, the open house was way legit! I have pictures! Other than that, not much to say. The temple is beautiful and that's that.

So we were hanging out at our usual Sunday dinner (which is a crazy party, let me tell ya) with like 20 YSA kids in this house. It's so interesting because they're all so super rowdy and irreverent and loudly talking about this and that, but when the missionaries decide that it's time to share a spiritual thought, they all get silent and listen. For some reason, I was just struck with the reality of the power and authority of the calling I have as a missionary. I just thought about what would happen if I were wearing normal clothes without a name-tag or missionary mantle and trying to quiet down a group of YSA kids. I'd probably get mocked or something, right? Just a thought.

Okay, so remember me talking about Sterling? He walked into the institute and said he wanted to change his life? We met with him last week and gave him a Book of Mormon. He's on date for the 22nd. Need I say more? Miracles.

Another miracle for ya: So a member came to church yesterday with her non-member friend and asked us if we could meet with them after church. I guess her dad had met this guy at Home Depot and they had a conversation about the Gospel and then he wanted to get a closer relationship with God so he came to church with our member. Anyway, so we met with the guy, Drew, after church and he's super legit. He doesn't live in our area so we'll have to pass him off, but still way cool. He even said in the middle of the lesson "I'm interested. I'm really interested!" He was so shocked at how awesome church is and was even participating in Gospel Principles. His main passion is skydiving, which he does once a week. Nice little anecdote for ya. Cool dude.

Another cool instance happened yesterday morning (seems like everything happened yesterday). We were driving to church and we see a truck up against the traffic light pole on the sidewalk. The door of the truck was open and there was an old man on the sidewalk looking like he was struggling to get up. Naturally, we stop and help him (even though we were already late. Woops) and see what his deal is. He was on his knees and it seemed like he was trying to get up, but he wouldn't respond to any of our questions. We checked his pulse, helped him wipe some of the blood off of him and tried to help him up. We took his phone and called who we assumed to be his wife and told her what's up. Then we took his wallet and beat him up. Just kidding. Another guy called 911 so the firemen showed up fairly promptly and told us they think he had a stroke. They whisked him away on a gurney and as far as we know he's alright. In any case, we got to have our good deed of the day. I felt like a superhero. I was talking to my comps about just taking the day off of missionary work and just going around saving people. They didn't bite.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The first ones are from my birthday. When me and my companions got home they AP's had a cake made and they popped confetti thingies and had party hats. It was pretty legit. All the protein cans in the picture are just the empty ones from all the protein that has been consumed in that apartment over the last... forever. But we stacked them to make it look like my birthday present. The other pictures are from Canadian Thanksgiving, which was a HUGE success! Turkey turned out great, and there was way too much food. We're going to attempt soup today.

This week was legit! We're still seeing a steady increase in our numbers, which is always good!

Okay! Where to begin?! I'll start with Jodie. She's getting baptized this Saturday! We're so so excited for her. The ward had what they call "Summit" last weekend, which is basically just like Youth Conference but for our YSA ward. It was so cool. We actually had 3 of the investigators in our ward go to Summit, which obviously is huge. So there's that. Not only that, but the Phoenix Temple open house has been going on, and Jodie and her super awesome fellowships are going this Saturday before her baptism! Cool right? We're going with them too, so expect pictures.
Okay, moving on. The other person, Bailey, we have on date for the 15th. She is like... way too prepared, so much so that we really don't even need to teach her. Just a matter of time at this point! She just has to let her family know what's going on and get a baptismal interview. Solid!
So the Sisters in our ward are teaching an investigator named Katie, who's getting baptized the 8th. Katie's so legit that she bore her testimony on fast Sunday. SHE'S NOT EVEN A MEMBER. So awesome. Anyway, she's also inviting her friend Gabe to a bunch of stuff. Gabe is super legit too, and they actually took us out to dinner the other night. They're so members already it's ridiculous. Anyway, apparently Gabe is a BASS player! Not only that, he's actually good. And he likes jazz. No one likes jazz. I don't think I need to further emphasize how excited I was. Even better, is the Sisters decided they want us to teach Gabe. Cha-ching!
Okay so get this. I don't remember if I ever mentioned this, but on the first day we were in the area we were chilling at the institute talking to the sisters about the area. Out of nowhere this guy walks in and asks us if we "work there". He said he just felt like walking in the building (which actually happens a ton) and learn what it's about. Long story short, the sisters got his info and started teaching him. They have been teaching him for the past few weeks, and everything's been going great. The ward is invested in his progress, the sisters are invested, and the sisters' families back home. Recently they extended this guy, Chasen, a baptismal invitation and he actually cried. Get THIS. Last week, the sisters were trying to refer him to the missionaries that should be teaching him. He said he didn't want his information to be sent out because he got his identity stolen, so that's why the sisters had been teaching him. So they were calling the Gilbert Missionaries to send the referral. When the sisters called the first time, the Elders were super abrasive and the conversation didn't last long. On a further attempt, the Elders (from Gilbert Mission) start laughing and say "haha, we got you!" As it turns out, "Chasen" was actually a member of the church! His name is actually Ammon (such a Mormon name) and he and the Elders from Gilbert staged the whole thing. What the HECK?! The sisters had been teaching this dude for like three weeks! Isn't that disgusting? The sisters were crushed, we were crushed, the invested ward members are probably livid. Who does that? Anyway, I'm pretty sure they got in huge trouble. Isn't that so funny? Sort of?

Anywho, that's pretty much it for this week. I'm loving life right now!
Love y'all!

-Elder Cox
Holy cow. This week has just been absolutely incredible. Absolutely.. where do I start?

Okay, so I'll start with my birthday. I took pictures but I forgot to bring my stupid little card reader thing to be able to put them on the computer. Hopefully I'll send the pictures next week. If I remember...
So probably just plan on seeing the pictures a year from now when I'm home. Good? Good.

As for the rest of my birthday, it was pretty much the most successful day of that week. We had lots of good stuff happen that day. For our dinner, our WML took us out to eat at an Italian place. The best part? They were playing jazz music the whole time. I was in heaven. I could have stayed there for hours... So I did...
Just kidding.
So that day we met this girl named Janette. Get this: Janette has a boyfriend who's on a mission right now. She's a non-member, but has been taking THREE Institute classes! Doctrine and Covenants classes nonetheless! Isn't that insane? So she just asked her teacher if she could meet with missionaries, so he called us up. At first when we met with her she was really closed off and shy, but we kept going with the lesson and she started opening up. We honestly didn't think it was going to be as easy as it was. We invited her to be baptized at the end, per usual, and her only concern was that she's "afraid of water". What? That's insane. Honestly, the things that happen here don't happen anywhere else. So legit.

Speaking of food, guess what today is? That's right, it's Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving in fact! And we just so happen to have a Greenie in our zone from Canada! So naturally, we're throwing a big feast later on. The best part is that President is going to let us do it at the Mission home. I guess the other important question of the day... how do you cook a turkey?

Have I already mentioned the movie "Meet the Mormons"? Well we got a pre-showing of it on my Birthday (seriously, best day ever. Watching movies? On my mission? Legit.) and it was SO good! Has anyone seen it? I recommend it. Take non-member friends. I almost cried like 25 times.

I don't even know. I can't write a hundredth part of the awesome things that happened this week. It was a great week. I hope everyone else had a great week. The church is true!

Love ya!

-Elder Cox
Hey family!

I guess first things first, I have another new companion! We're in a trio now with Elder Baker. He's from Colorado, and is super chill. He's the mission "tech" guy. He goes around with the AP's a lot, so they just decided to move him into our apartment and have him be in a trio with us. The funny part is that the AP's are also in a trio, so there's 6 of us living in our apartment. It's kind of a party, which I think goes without saying.

Where to begin? I guess I already did. We can talk about Jodie. Have I already mentioned Jodie? Jodie is absolutely incredible. We had dinner with a member a week or so ago and they had their friend Jodie over. We taught her the restoration, invited her to be baptized, and she said yes. In the next lesson, we taught her about the Book of Mormon. She has two really solid member fellowships that committed to read the Book of Mormon every day and that they'd all text each other about what they read. So that was legit. Doesn't end there. We then teach her about the Plan of Salvation, resolving a lot of her concerns about whether our actions in life actually determine where we end up. We invited her to be baptized on the 25th of October. She said she'd pray about it. She came to General Conference yesterday, just the morning session. After the session she sends us a text and says that she received inspiration that she shouldn't procrastinate her baptism, and that she'll prepare for the 25th. So... that's freaking legit. She's so awesome! At work every day she Googles stuff about Mormonism. Obviously, that can be super sketchy. She's already told us that she's found a ton of anti stuff, but that it actually strengthens her testimony. I don't get exactly how that works, but I won't ask too many questions. I could say a ton more, but I forgot a lot of it. She's just too legit.

I really don't get this area. We asked our WML how other missionaries have generally gone about finding. He literally told us that they just go to the Institute building and "stuff just happens". What the heck does that mean? Well, I guess I could provide a couple examples:
The other day during companionship study we get a phone call from the ASU institute. The dude told us that some kid named Sterling just waltzed right into the institute and said he wants to change his life, and is willing to make room in his schedule for anyone that will help him do that. What?

Even more, we're leaving the institute after Conference and the other Elders walk up to us and say they have a referral. Apparently they ran into a guy who was walking with their member friend. The nonmember guy walked up to them and said something to the effect of, "I want a copy of the Book of Mormon so I can read it, ponder it, and pray about it to know if it's true".
"Nah, we actually don't give those out."
Yeah RIGHT! Of course you can have a Book of Mormon! So legit!

Even MORE, is that there was a Chinese guy knocking on the doors of the institute during Conference. We have a Chinese-speaking sister from Taiwan in our zone who was there. The guy comes in and says he wants to learn more about the church, and so they plop him down right there and turn on General Conference in Chinese. WHAT THE HECK?! Missionary work is not like this. It's so weird. People just flock to us and get baptized. So awesome.

Another cool story: We were looking for this potential investigator out of our Area Book. We knock on the door and ask for Steven. The guy tells us that Steven doesn't live there. Obviously, we can't just walk away without inviting him to hear the message so we just throw out, "Hey, wanna hear our message?" The guy says "yeah, sure!" and we set up an appointment. That's the abbreviated version, but still legit.

As for General Conference itself... I don't know where to start, so I probably won't. It was awesome. I only have one more. Can you believe it? One more.

Anyway, that about sums up my week. Hope everyone's doing well!
Loooove ya.

-Elder Cox

Monday, September 29, 2014

Oh my goodness. Where to begin? I don't even know.

So President Toone has had a goal for a while to have a zone for every stake, and a set of missionaries in every ward in the mission. Pretty awesome goal! Before transfers, I think we pretty much had a companionship in every ward, but there were some zones that were covering multiple stakes. So this transfer, President Toone created 3 or 4 new zones to be able to cover all the stakes. Because of that, some of the zones are super small. Such as our zone, which has only one district. We have a total of 5 companionships in the zone, one of them being us, and the other being the assistants. The other companionship is the District Leader, and another the Sister Training Leaders. Literally there is only 1 companionship of sisters that are just regular missionaries. I only bring this up because of meetings. District Meetings are tailored by a monthly training plan that the zone leaders (us) and the sister training leaders come up with. The assistants will hardly ever be there, leaving only 1 companionship that actually gets any "new" information. Kind of funny huh? Then zone meetings will be the exact same as district meetings, only a half hour longer and given by us and the STL instead of the district leader.

Needless to say, our zone is the most legit zone in the mission. Not only because we're small, but get this: Our zone title is the Tempe-YSA zone. You know what that means?


After 3 months, I'm back in University Ward at ASU! I seriously love it here. YSA work is way legit! My companion is Elder Erikson, who I came into the mission with. We've worked super closely together for the majority of our mission! We were in the same ward in the very beginning of our missions in Maryvale, and we're super tight. I'm. So. Stoked.

We had a baptism on Saturday, which was a good start to the transfer. Obviously it's not someone that we taught...but we were there. In any case, she's literally the most solid convert ever. I don't even know how to explain it. There's also another girl that Elder Bressler and I found when I was in this ward before. She is the boyfriend of a member and apparently in the last couple months has gained an answer and has a baptismal date, so that's legit.

I can already tell it's going to be a crazy transfer. I really hope I stay here for the long haul this time.

Last night we were walking around an apartment complex and we saw two Asian guys playing basketball. There's TONS of Chinese people around here. We even have a missionary in our ward from Taiwan who speaks Mandarin. Anyway, so we see these guys playing and we decide to ask them if we can play. I ask them where they're from and they tell me they're from China. Naturally, I spit out a couple Chinese phrases like a boss. They couldn't understand me, but it was pretty cool anyway. We thought we were going to smash them, but they turned out to be pretty good. The one guy drained like 4 3's in a row right in Elder Erikson's face. We ended up winning though, and talked to them about the church. They're interested, and we quickly referred them to the sisters ( speaks Chinese).

Our first day in the area, we were at the Institute building and the sisters walk in. We ask them how it's going figuring everything out (they whitewashed as well). There was this guy walking through the halls who just looked like any normal institute student. He walks past us, and we say "hi" and keep talking. He walks back and asks us, "Do you work here?" Apparently he was just curious what this building was, so he walked inside. We told him and taught him. He's now our Elder's Quorum President. Just kidding, but he's a pretty cool guy. Turns out he lives outside our area, but still a miracle nonetheless!

I think that's enough for this week!

The church is true! Love y'all!

-Elder Cox

Here's my new (old) address:
2155 S 55th St. #1010
Tempe, AZ 85282

Here's me, Elder Erikson, and the sisters in our ward.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting transferred again -

Surprised? Me neither. The pattern must continue! I will be a zone leader again and transfer meeting is actually on Thursday this week, so that's when I'll find out where I'm going. We have the secret hope that I'll just stay in Maricopa with both the zone leaders here (one of them is leaving mid-transfer) but, we'll see. As for now, I have a couple days left in Maricopa, so I'll enjoy it while I'm here. Pretty excited to get a car though...

SO, Elder Christofferson. Where do I begin? So we're all sitting there in the chapel and Elder Christofferson comes in the room. We all stand. Because I was in the choir, I got to sit front row, right in front of him. Before the meeting begins, President Toone gets up and announces that Elder Christofferson would like to meet every one of us individually and shake our hands. So we all line up, shake his hand, tell him where we're from, etc. Elder Corbridge of the 70 was there as well as Bishop Davies of the presiding bishopric.

So then we sing our musical number, "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need". It went well, of course. Then we heard from Bishop Davies who spoke about DIMS. DIMS is a "condition" that we sometimes experience. The acronym stands for Discouragement, Idleness, Murmuring, Sin. It just explains the step-by-step process that happens when we get discouraged. He gave the example of Laman and Lemuel, as is usually given when referring to what not to do. He mentioned that a way to avoid "DIMS" is to count your blessings. I guess one of the main points is that when you're dim, you can't let your light shine. Make sense? Probably not.

Next we heard from Elder Corbridge, who spoke about the need that we all have of the Savior. He said that the beginning of conversion is to recognize the need for a Redeemer. He then talked about how the best human condition is enjoying the companionship of the Spirit and being endowed with joy and the power of God. He said that the worst possible human condition is one that is most common: sin. To be separated from God's presence.

Then Elder Christofferson gave us a few words. He quoted the words from our special musical number: "No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home". He asked us how our personal relationship with God is, whether we're a stranger or a child at home. One interesting thing he said is that for the Second Coming to happen, God isn't waiting for more wickedness. The world is already ripe with iniquity. He said we need more righteousness. He said that more missionary work needs to happen so that there are a "good number" of righteous people on earth in preparation for the Second Coming. Kind of interesting! He then just talked about the privilege of serving a mission and to not lose that privilege. He then opened the next 40 or so minutes up to a Q & A which was pretty cool!

So that's that. In other news, James came to church. We'll see how he progresses, but I guess I'm leaving so I probably won't be around to see it.

Have you heard of the movie Meet the Mormons? Apparently we get to have a sneak peak at it before it's released so that we can talk to people about it. Should be pretty good! I encourage you to watch it, and I guess take... nonmember friends? It should be good.

Everything's still going well. Loving life! I'll keep you posted on where I'm at, etc. etc. Love ya'll, have a great week.

-Elder Cox

Saturday, September 20, 2014

To answer your question Mom, the p-day change is because we went to the Temple this morning, not because of that conference. The conference is going to be with Elder Christofferson on Saturday morning! Should be pretty cool! We have the suspicion that he will either chastise us like crazy or tell us how awesome we are. Probably the 2nd one, because we're awesome. Our rehearsals for the musical number have been going well, so I'm excited for that. It gets me excited whenever I get to do anything with music, because my abilities are kind of stagnating. It's good to be reminded of the thrill of rehearsing, perfecting, and performing music. Looooooove it!

Oh yeah, and about that drummer guy I talked about? We went by and his wife told us to stop soliciting their house. Needless to say, he wasn't interested. Not even in just talking about drums. *sigh* All well.

Our awesome investigator James hasn't been to church for a couple weeks now. We've been trying to get in contact with him with little avail. Hopefully we'll reach him soon.

We got another investigator named James who's a little older. We were biking our...bikes... (words) down the street and he called out to us. He just got out of prison for who-knows-what (doesn't really matter) and is having some hard times. He doesn't feel worthy for God's love or for his family's love. In his mind it's better to leave his family alone than to be a part of their life. We're trying to convince him otherwise! He's got some other concerns that are getting in the way as well, but the cool part is that he called out to us. That's gotta show something, right? Hopefully we can get the point in his head about the infinite nature of the Atonement. It doesn't matter what he's done, he can be forgiven and he can still feel God's love.

Oh yeah, so last Monday right? As in, the 8th. One of our zone leaders' heart started racing and he was getting lightheaded and dizzy and all sorts of stuff. -- Just to get to the point of that, he had a couple anxiety attacks, he's fine. He's going home soon and they think that's why. Anyway, so he started having these problems and he tells us he needs to go to the hospital. Elder Reed and I were just grabbing our bikes ready to head out for the day after p-day. He comes in and asks us if we want to come with them. We said we were planning on working, obviously. He tells us that he really wants us to go with him. "Alright I guess, you're the boss." so at about 6:00 we have to make the long journey up to the Tempe/Phoenix area because that's where the nearest hospital is-- about 40 minutes away. We get to the ER and wait for a while before they finally call his name. All four of us stand up to go back there and the doctor-man stops us and says that only two can go back. So of course, Elder Reed and I sit back down in the waiting room. About 8 hours later, at 1:00 in the morning, they finally come back out. We were the only people left in the waiting room. We got to sit there for 8 hours and watch people come and go, come and go, come and go. Ssuuuuper fun... But we got to talk to this nice lady in a wheelchair. We taught her a lesson and gave her a card so she can refer the missionaries in her area, so that was good. I guess the real reason I tell this story is because it's so out of the "norm". I love when things are out of the norm. Such as having p-day today instead of Monday. Keep things interesting! I tend to get tired of routine.

Did I already talk about the Russ guy we met? He also served time in prison recently (they're cool Mom, I promise). We met him through a less-active member. The less-active is actually related to one of the missionaries in our zone, so both our companionships go over there to teach her. She's a pretty cool lady, but even cooler is the fact that she referred her roommate. He seems pretty interested. He also has a lot of things he would need to work on to be baptized, but he's got a really good heart. We haven't met with him too much, but I think we're going over there today.

Hope all ya'll are doing great. I am! The church is true!

Here are some pictures demonstrating the effectiveness of personal study in our apartment. Elder Reed looks like he's sleeping, but he's actually not. He was so focused that he didn't even notice me taking a selfie. Looks like the other two had a little bit more of a challenge staying awake :) Obviously I'm just as guilty seeing as... I'm taking selfies during personal study. I don't usually do that though. Usually.

Love you!
-Elder Cox
Things are still going great down here in Copa. It rained today, so that's always a huge blessing, it cools things off down to about 74 so I definitely can't complain there. It's kind of funny though because whenever it rains, everything gets flooded. They don't really have any way to take care of all the water. I imagine it's like when it snows in Washington, where everything just shuts down for the day because they have no way to take care of the weather. We heard of schools even being shut down today. We were going to play ultimate frisbee in the park, but it looked more like a lake than a park. Anyway, now that I've talked about the weather...

Interesting fact about Maricopa: We're in the middle of the desert.
Cool huh?
No but really, when we bike around there's always a TON of lizards on the sidewalk that scuttle and scurry away when you ride past. It's kind of fun. We'll be biking around and there's just constant rustling noises in the bushes from all the lizards running around. Even better than that, and way more magical, is bunnies. I don't know why, but there are SO many bunnies! It's the same thing as the lizards too. We'll just be biking around and there's bunnies on the sidewalk or next to it, and they'll run around the bushes or run away into their little holes. One time in particular, we're biking in a super uptight gated community that doesn't let us in unless we're having dinner with a member family and we see an army of bunnies infesting the grassy hills to the side of us. I only mention this so you can get the visual of the desert oasis that Magical Maricopa is. Lately we've had great sunsets too. Coupled with bunnies hopping around a grassy knoll, it's pretty magical.

So in a couple weeks we're having a member of the 12 visit our mission. I feel like they asked us not to give specific details so I won't, but we'll be getting an Apostle in our mission a couple weeks from now. I don't know if they keep sending us General Authorities because we're doing terribly and we need it or because we're awesome and we deserve it. Either way, I guess I won't complain. Sister Toone called me last night because apparently a "little bird" told her that I can sing. So for the Mission Conference that the Apostle will be at I'm going to be singing in a quartet, or double-quartet or whatever she said, I don't remember.

We were having dinner at a member family the other day and we asked about their neighbors and who they could share the gospel with. They mentioned their next-door neighbor to the west. Apparently he was a professional drummer for some well-known band, which unfortunately they couldn't recall. I haven't gotten the chance to meet with him yet, but we've tried by a couple times and probably will again tonight. Anyway, hopefully I can make quick friends with him and talk some music stuff and baptize him. And jam with him. Whatever comes first.

The Lord has blessed us with several new investigators this week. We haven't had a ton of teaching opportunities, but I think He's seeing our efforts and blessing us with people to teach. I wish more of our people were progressing, but I guess that's mostly our responsibility. We'll keep working hard, of course, and hopefully we can pick things up a little bit more.

Welp, once again, not a whole ton to report! Hope everyone has a fantastic week.

I forgot to send this picture last week after my "hump day". We took the picture at this angle so you could clearly see the still very long road ahead.

-Elder Cox

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's been a little bit hotter this week. By a little bit, I mean around 110. Still not nearly as bad as it has been, and I honestly barely even notice anymore.

We had another visit from a member of the 70 this week. We did what's called a "Mission Tour", which is basically a mission conference. We were visited by Elder Schweitzer who trained us on teaching to people's needs rather than teaching routine lessons. He talked about the importance of listening and asking questions, which is always good to hear more about. I don't really remember anything else that he talked about, which I guess explains how much it really "sunk in".

We had taco salad three days in a row last week, so that was pretty cool.

James came to church again! He's definitely getting fed a lot of anti material from his family, but for whatever reason it's not getting to him. He's still coming to church and wanting to meet with us, so that's definitely a blessing! We haven't had the chance to meet with him at all this week, but we'll nail him down for a couple days this week and see if we can put him on date for baptism. He's definitely our most likely candidate right now.

We had a bunch of opportunities to do service this week! It wasn't a great week as far as teaching goes, but we did tons of service! Service is still my favorite part of missionary work by far. I love helping people get their crap done. I just love getting all grubby and dirty and seeing their happy faces knowing that we've accomplished something. That's good stuff! If all I did every day was serve people, I think I'd still have a great time.

Looks like it's going to be another weak email. Sorry about that! Not a whole ton went on this week. In any case, hope y'all have a fantastic week.

-Elder Cox
Yep, just about a year out. Crazy stuff!

We have some pretty cool stuff going on in our area! We're currently working with the Mangan family which is a part-member family. We're having an FHE with them tonight at our Ward MIssion Leader's house to teach them how to do FHE. The adversary is definitely attempting to tear their family apart, so we're going to do what we can to teach them that through the gospel those threads can be resewn, so to speak.

Have I already mentioned our 15-year-old investigator named James? I don't think I have. He's a super solid kid. He wants to live a moral lifestyle, is looking for a good Christian church that teaches good morals, heard about Mormonism when he was living in Illinois, and when he got to Arizona he went onto and referred himself to the missionaries. What kind of 15-year-old does that? He's super awesome. Came to church yesterday, and loved it. Pretty neat!

There are a couple other part-member peeps we're teaching, mainly unbaptized youth that we're working with that are doing fairly well! Other than that we're really trying to get the ball rolling with member missionary work here in this area. It's just really weird because nowadays, people don't even know their neighbors. If you want to find out what's going on in their life you just get on Facebook and look through your news feed. The problem with that is that I really don't like using Facebook to proselyte. But anyway, hopefully we can get the family mission plans rolling out to generate some enthusiasm for missionary work. I think there's lots of potential fa' sho.

For whatever reason, I was invited to MLC again this week. I'm not a zone leader, but for who-knows-why President asked that I be there. It was a pretty cool training. We had Elder Lynn G. Robbins from the 70 train us about agency and responsibility. He wrote a list of things people do to try to shrug off responsibility, i.e. blaming, lying, hiding, procrastinating, etc. He said that in order to use our agency correctly and be in control we have to accept 100% responsibility. He even gave examples of accepting responsibility for others' actions when it's completely their fault. Kind of interesting. It's hard to explain the concept, especially because I don't understand it fully myself, but he essentially said that when you accept responsibility, you become in control. He said that people that master this principle are champions. "You will be a champion!" Sounds pretty sweet. I'm a champion. He also made references to a talk he gave in General Conference about "being" and "doing". In order to "be" something, we have to "do" things that that particular something does. Namely, if we want to be like Christ, we have to do Christ-like things, thus changing our nature. For half of the MLC he talked about how our missions prepare us for marriage, and that part of 100% responsibility includes accepting that your wife is always right. He said a phrase I like: "I'd rather be married than be right." All in all a pretty good training. I know you don't understand anything I just said because I can't put it in a way that makes sense, but it's cool nonetheless. Just take my word for it. It's definitely made a change already. It makes me much more humble and charitable. Pretty neat!

This member lady at Wal-Mart paid for our groceries today. Super awesome tender mercy. Guaranteed blessings will ensue.

Not a whole ton else. Seems like everyone's still doing decent as far as I'm aware. Hope it stays that way. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

-Elder Cox

P.S. Here's a picture

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm now serving about 40 miles south-ish of the greater Phoenix area (where most of the mission is) in the magical world of Maricopa. It's an interesting place. You literally drive through the barren desert for 40 minutes to be surprised by a random "island" of houses. It's almost exactly like Laveen, in that all the houses look the same and they're all bunched together in little HOA communities, etc. There's pretty much nothing around here at all, just a bunch of random houses in the middle of the desert. In my mind's eye as I describe it, it sounds like a ghetto place, but it's actually a fairly decent area. It's really quiet and the houses are actually fairly nice.

Here's my new address:
45175 W. Cypress Lane
Maricopa, AZ 85139

My new companion is Elder Reed from Sparks, Nevada. He's a really hard-working missionary and is really dedicated already. He's one of those that came "pre-trained" so there's not a whole lot of work to do on him which is always good! He's a really nice kid, and we'll definitely see a lot of success together. I'll attach a picture of us that we just took. You can see my sick watch tan-line I've been working on! Also my... bodacious biceps...

So there's a train track that runs right through the middle of Maricopa. Cool huh?
But really, so we were biking home one night and in order to go home we have to cross the tracks. Well, right as we pull up to the tracks the rails go down and a big train comes to the tracks. And stops. It's a passenger train (apparently) that sits there right in front of the road and loads people up for like 20 minutes while all the cars pile up behind each other waiting for it. While it was parked, 3 other trains passed at various times, and right as soon as the passenger train starts going, just when we think the guard rails are going to lift up another train goes by for another 10 minutes. I don't know why I tell this story, other than I guess to say that this whole city revolves around those train tracks. I guess originally there was just a train station in Maricopa, but now it's just a huge Wow, that was such a cool story!

We have some cool investigators though! There's this one kid named Kane who's totally prepared to be baptized, but the previous missionaries literally just went over there and talked about video games and junk every time. So I think as long as we do anything he should be good!

It looks like a lot of the work here is going to be focused around part-member families. Pretty much every investigator we have is in a part-member family! It's crazy. We have a brand-new ward mission leader which is really nice. Oddly enough, I think he was just barely the Ward Clerk...he was just called last week. I feel like there's some sort of conspiracy going on...hmm... In any case, I can tell already that he'll be a sweet WML. He's a really cool guy, and just happens to know everyone in the ward. He seems really eager to do whatever needs to be done, which is great.

You'll be happy to know, Mom, that our dinner calendar is absolutely filled up for August and even a lot of September already, so don't worry about that. My main problem isn't staying fed, but staying fit! I think it's a good problem to have though. I'd rather be fat than hungry.

Hmm, I dunno what else to talk about! There's really not a lot of variety at all to what I do, but I guess that's probably just because I take it for granted. The work is still good, church is still true, still having fun and all that. Love ya'll.

-Elder Cox

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Aug 11

Yep. I'm going back to being a District Leader and training a brand new missionary. I'm being transferred again, which means that I'll be whitewashing AGAIN into a brand new area. For like, the fourth time. Super great.

Well, this week we started teaching another nine year old that will be baptized on August 30. I won't be around for that obviously, but she's pretty cool and knows she wants to be baptized. Her mom is a non-member and her dad is a returning member so it should be really good for their family. They have super solid fellowship whose home we teach them in. That didn't really make sense grammatically, but you get the picture.

Speaking of pictures... I made the worst mistake of my life last week. Attached to this email you'll be a picture of a burrito. But not just any burrito, it's a breakfast burrito. BUT not just any breakfast burrito... it's a breakfast burrito literally the length of my elbow to fingertip. Literally, this burrito is a cubit long. It's probably the equivalent of like... 3 Cafe Rio burritos. I got about halfway before I was full. 3/4 of the way my gag reflex started to kick in. I couldn't quit, I had to finish! I have never pushed the bounds of discomfort so much in my life, but I blew past the wall. I kept going, nibble by nibble. Bite by bite, gag by gag. I finished. I may have finished last, but I finished and that's all that matters. I think I deserve a gold star on my Man-Card. Literally have never eaten so much in my life. Good news is, I didn't throw up either, but I still had to bike around in the heat afterwards. Worth it? Totally not. Am I glad I did? No. Would I do it again? Probably.

More fun things, we went golfing again this week. I did a lot better than I did last week, but I'm still a terrible golfer. It was fun though, and very relieving!

Really not a whole lot more going on in my life. It's seriously been the most insane transfer of probably anyone's mission, but a good one. I haven't even mentioned a "hundredth part" as the Book of Mormon would say, but I supposed this transfer will make a good story later on. I'll let you know where I'm transferred to, my greenie's name, etc. etc. Wish me luck.

-Elder Cox

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Golfing - how's his swing?
Hey ya'll! Yeah, the weather has been a lot better this week Momma. We had some rain, which I suppose helps a little, but really all it does it make it humid and muggy. I can't decide which is worse. But, it's been a lot cooler this week which is nice. Last night we had a random HUGE rain storm hit our area. We literally had been inside for 3 seconds and BAM, it started pouring rain. Apparently it was windy too, because when we got done with dinner we went outside and it looked like a war-zone. A powerline fell in the middle of the freeway and there were cars lined up for miles. There was debris of all kinds, and even a helicopter. Trees were fallen over in the street. The only thing we were missing was zombies. It was cool though.

So today we went golfing for our morning activity! That would explain why the email is coming a little later than it usually does. It was super fun. I'd send pictures, but the computer I'm emailing on is slower than... something really slow. And it literally took me 30 minutes just to get it up and running, so I don't want to try to load pictures. Remind me next week! I'm still terrible at golfing, but it was really fun, so there's that.

Transfers coming up this week! We're pretty certain that one of us is leaving, and Elder Francis seems pretty sure that it's me. We'll get the call Sunday, so stay tuned. I can't believe it's that time again already! Like you said Mom, in some ways I can't even fathom how fast it went, but for the most part it feels like I was born a missionary and that I'll die a missionary. Can hardly imagine "home life" anymore.

Not a whole lot to report this week! Sorry! But I'm still doing good and working hard and stuff. Love ya!

-Elder Cox

Monday, July 28, 2014

The miracles and testimony building experiences of this week are "so great they can't be written" (not a direct quote I know, but you get the point). God is real, he loves us, and knows us individually!

So I've come up with a theory that I call the "3 degrees"... of heat, that is. Being in Arizona, there isn't hot and cold, there's 3 degrees of heat that are all just hot. Allow me to explain:

Degree 1 is the lowest degree (obviously). Signs of the first degree are simple: sweat, and warmth. Once you can get over the fact that you're a little sweaty, it's totally fine. Just keep riding your bike, and your body just naturally cools you and it even feels nice. Easy to remedy, and doesn't cause too much discomfort. This occurs at about the 95-102 degree range.

Degree 2. Keep in mind that, as one can assume, each higher degree compounds with previous degrees. Therefore, the symptoms of "second-degree-heat" have all those of the first, with an addition to some. The additional signs of Degree 2 are thus: You can feel each individual ray of sunshine as it hits your skin. Also, the "sweat factor" is increased about two-fold. This is a little more uncomfortable, but still fairly easy to remedy. Riding your bike still works. It helps if you stop riding for just a few seconds, allowing your body to sweat a little more, and then keep riding to feel the cool breeze for about 0.3 seconds. Also, standing in the shade can ease the discomfort. Degree two ranges at about 103-109 degrees.

Degree 3. This is where the infamous Arizona heat really kicks in. One would think that it's all just bad when it gets past 104, but no. You can definitely tell the difference. Degree 3 is where the "blow dryer effect" kicks in. Not only does every ray of sunshine melt your skin, but it heats up every individual molecule of air. There is no escape. No amount of riding, sweating, shade (outside), water, praying, crying, water, sweating, or sweating can help. The only cure is air-conditioning. Not even sunglasses can cure the sting of the blow dryer air in your eyes. It's awesome! It happens at 110-116+ degrees. Yes, it did get up to 116 this week :) And yes Mom, I'm drinking tons of water.

But alas, nothing will cramp my style. I rock that sweaty collar and sweat-stained sunglasses. I refuse to be brought low! I LOVE IT HERE! Today is a nice degree 1 too, so that's always a bonus!

In better news, Squeaky showed up to church again this week. He even stayed for Gospel Principles class. Woot! We're still working with him and getting him over some concerns he has, but I think he'll actually progress. He's a really cool dude!

That's all I got for ya! Hope you're all doing well, and stuff. The gospel is true and everything so, yeah. Love!
I don't even know what's going on anymore. The craziest things just happen all the time! Where do I begin?

So we got an assignment for Thursday. You know already that this is awesome, because all of our "assignments" have just been nuts. So there's a missionary in the mission that takes football really seriously, and he's been praying and pondering where he should go to school after the mission to play ball and stuff. Apparently it's a big decision that means a lot to him and his family. So our "assignment" was to drive this Elder around to meet with the various coaches he had interviews with. The first stop was at ASU, which is still just down the road. We got to take a look at their facility and their locker rooms, weight room, coach offices, film room, etc. etc. It was so weird! Here we were just regular mormon missionaries just chillin with this other huge Hawaiian missionary that was being toured around by an ASU coach. The next coach he met with was at at Chipotle restaurant, and we just chilled there. Not only did we get to drive him around, but his decision is serious enough that President approved him to attend the temple. But oh, shoot, the Mesa Temple was closed that day.. so we got to go to the Gilbert Temple. Just the three of us, which no one in the mission (other than departing missionaries) gets to do. SO SICK!

Yesterday at church, a random member that we've never seen introduces us to a guy named Larry, whom he also had never met before. Apparently this member ran into Larry while he was getting in his car for church. Larry wanted to come, so...he did. I guess he said he wants to change his life around! Pretty randomly awesome tender mercy! We'll see him sometime this week.

I've been occasionally messaging Jason Leal on Facebook. Apparently the motorcycle school he was going to is just north of Phoenix. I called President to see if I could meet up with him, one thing led to another, and here's a picture of us together at a sushi restaurant! I asked him to give the missionaries a chance when he gets back to Utah in early August, and he said he would. Keep tabs on him! :)

Sorry, not a ton to talk about this week, but that's about it! Love y'all!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

So yeah Mom, I guess I know a little bit more about our assignment. We basically do menial tasks for the senior missionaries in the office and for President. For example, last Tuesday we drove with one of the senior couples down to Yuma which is about 3 to 3 1/2 hours away just to pick up a car. So we drove down with them, stayed the night at one of the missionary apartments in Yuma, then drove back the next day. We got back at around 1, and by about 4:00 the housing coordinator asked if we could help some sisters move into their new apartment. So he picked us up and we helped move for the rest of the night. Just random stuff!

We haven't seen Squeaky yet. We had an appointment for last Monday, but according to the sisters he doesn't have very good perception of time or date. Probably because he doesn't have a watch and he's homeless. We have an appointment with him Tuesday though, so hopefully we'll be able to meet with him!

We have a couple of overage youth (nine-year-old) baptisms coming up within the next little while. One of them was supposed to be baptized this weekend, but they didn't end up making it to church. The other one is going to be baptized the first of August. The concern for both of them is that their families aren't active, so we don't want to baptize them to just have them drop off the map. Other than that though, they seem to basically already know everything no problem! They should be good, as long as we can reactivate the family!

We had a pretty cool experience in Ward Council yesterday. Out of the blue the bishop just started testifying of how he thinks this ward is about to explode with baptisms. He feels that all the missionaries have just been building off each other, and that God has elect people here. He testified that if we all do our jobs that we will have mucho bautismos aqi! Also, he commented that he hasn't seen missionaries pay fast offerings for a long time, and was impressed that we did, and testified of the blessings that come from assisting the poor. Pretty sweet! Member trust! Ka-ching!

Welp... that's pretty much it! Everything's going great! I'll try to do better at taking pictures, so here's a few. One of them is Elder Francis so you can see his beautiful duck-face, and the others I took right before coming to email... :)

Love y'all!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

This has already proven to be the absolutely most insanely random transfer of the history of anyone's mission ever... let me explain...

Well, maybe before I get to the really crazy stuff, I'll start at the beginning of the week:

So I gave my last zone meeting as a zone leader, which ended up being really good! We talked about vision, and how we need to envision success. We had a little "tour" set up around the church and took a walk-through of an investigator's experience. We started with teaching the first lesson, and inviting them to be baptized, and them saying yes. Then moved to imagining them getting a Book of Mormon, inviting them to be baptized on a date, and them saying yes. We then took them into the chapel and imagine their investigators at the church for the first time, and taking the sacrament for the first time as a new member. We then moved into the primary room where we had the baptismal font filled up, and had them imagine their investigators dressed in white. It was a pretty cool experience, and I think it worked out! In any case, it was a good last zone meeting as a zone leader.

Okay, so now for the "insanity": So we're chillin in Costa Vida after zone meeting and a guy walks up to me and asks, "Hey, are you from the Murray 2nd ward?"
He then told me that he is Elder Baker(I think?) and that he served in our ward. Not only did he serve in our ward, but he was there for my farewell talk. He told me that he had just got done with his mission the week previous. What the heck?! There's no way that's a coincidence! Why I needed to meet that guy, I have no idea, but crazy insanity nonetheless. It gets better.

So we're sitting in transfer meeting. As usual, the adrenaline is pumping wondering where am I going to go, who am I going to be with, etc. President Toone goes through the zones alphabetically. After each zone I get more and more anxious. Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Chandler, Gilbert, Maricopa, Mesa. Am I going back to Phoenix? Phoenix, Phoenix South. No, doesn't look like it. There's only two options left. Either I stay in Tempe where I was just a zone leader (awkward!) or I'm going to Yuma. Oh please, don't let me go to Yuma during July. It's one of the hottest habitable places on Earth (literally). And THEN: "In Tempe area 22....
Elder Cox..."
Oh heck, I'm white-washing AGAIN. Great.
"...and Elder Francis..."
Suddenly, out of no where, there's a 6-year-old girl screaming at the top of her lungs. Oh, wait! That 6-year-old is ME! It was okay, because there was another 6-year-old girl named Elder Francis who was screaming as well! Yes. Elder Francis and I are companions, yet again. What President is thinking? I have no idea, but all I know is that it's going to be SICK! SO EXCITED! I guess we did it wrong the first time, and so we get to try again :P

So we go into President's office so he can explain our "special assignment". We still don't really get it, but I guess we help with things around the office, go sometimes with President to Zone Conferences, help the AP's with weekly stats, and do other random stuff that he wants us to do. Coffee boys, so to speak. Crazy!

So as part of this "assignment", we get a call from President to give a blessing to a lady in the hospital. We were pretty far away, so he had us come to the mission home and gave us the keys to a 15-passenger van. What?... Not only that, but we got a "WARNING" text about a massive dust storm that was coming into the valley. We could see it in the distance, a big red wall of zombie-apocalypse-looking virus dust. So we're booking it in this giant van and right as we get to the hospital...the storm hits. We get out, dust in our faces we're running towards the door of the hospital. We swing the doors open, and I slam my fist on the front desk, "We need to find room D315 NOW!" (not really). We're running (walking) through the hospital hallways, zombies left and right (there was actually one person on a gurney that we're pretty sure was dead. I count it). Long story short, we gave this nonmember lady a blessing, and she said she felt a wave of warmth start at her head down to her toes with a feeling of "We got this. I won't let you down". Pretty cool experience. Just another day in the life of us crime-fighting vigilantes.

Another day I was riding my bike along...
Oh yeah, I'm in a biking area. *Pop*, WWoOOooo...
Anyway, I'm riding along and we hear what sounds like an air compressor leaking. Ah, freak. It's my tire with presumably a huge hole in it. I keep riding in faith. Tender mercy of the day, I keep riding and my tire had no problems... what? Miracle.

Running out of time, but we had a homeless man come to church. His name is Squeaky. That's not a joke. Insanity!

Here's my new address!:
2045 S. McClintock Dr. #126
Tempe, AZ 85282

Love y'all!

-Elder Cox
Yeeeepp. Transferred again. Shoot! I really liked it here. All well. I'm also no longer a Zone Leader, which is weird considering I was a zone leader for... 6 weeks. President called Saturday and asked if that would be okay so that he could have me do a "special assignment" that I still know nothing about. I guess maybe there will be more news on that later? My assumption is that I was just not needed as a ZL anymore so he told me I'd get something "super special" to help me feel good. Who knows? In any case, it'll be an interesting week!

Speaking of interesting week, this last week was pretty interesting also! We tried a little game called "car sauna". You can probably guess what this game entails... I think they do it on the Big Bang Theory? Anyway, it all started when Elder Bressler was driving. I was backing him out of the parking space. As I get in the car, he says "man, it's really hot!" As I sit there I think to myself, "Yeah, it is really hot. It's hotter than usual.... wait a second!" He had the heater cranked up all the way. Not only that, it was already 100,000 degrees outside. So we decided to make a game out of it and see who could last the longest. Long story short, we both got dehydrated, passed out, crashed the car into oncoming traffic, and wound up in the hospital.

...Okay, that didn't really happen. At least, the last part. But as we finally pulled the car over and stepped outside, it really made us appreciate the crisp, cool, 104 degrees. It was actually kind of cold! It helped us really appreciate the companionships that have to bike during the summer. Hopefully my new area will be a driving area... fingers crossed!

On a slightly more spiritual note, we performed a musical number yesterday! I got to play guitar, Elder Bressler played violin, and there was a slightly less-active member who sang. We did a rendition of "If You Could Hie To Kolob" in Sacrament meeting, and it ended up sounding fairly decent! We wanted to do it because the member we performed with was feeling left out of the ward and kind of ostracized, and told us that he's been wanting to do a musical number but no one would let him. So, we made 3 quick phone calls, a couple texts, and 10 minutes later we have a musical number scheduled. (Have I already mentioned this?... all well) It was good to see the excitement on the member's face as he got to sing in front of everyone and be the star for a day. It was one of the more fun acts of service that I've done here.

Speaking of guitars and stuff, apparently there's been a problem in the mission of Elders buying electric guitars and amps and stuff and going way overboard, so President is cracking down on musical instruments. Darn. As for the guitar... I guess it'll just get left behind. Maybe I could sell it or something, who knows. In any case, my P-day jazzy hymn playtime has come to an end. Sad sad day.

Pretty cool experience with the Priesthood last week! Remember me telling you about the less active member named Andre? He's a tall, black, dred-headed football player for Scottsdale community college. He came in to FHE last week and mentioned that he pulled his hamstring, and asked us for a Priesthood blessing. We told him to ask someone else, cause we were busy. But what actually happened is that we gave him a blessing. Apparently the next day, he had absolutely no problems with his hamstring, and was even able to impress the coaches and such, and lead the team in footwork drills. Super cool! Priesthood works!

That's pretty much all I got for y'all this week. Attached is a picture of me next to a super sick Subaru Impreza STI that was in an apartment parking lot. Pretty dope. Other than that, the work is still true and stuff, and I'm having fun and loving people and stuff. My family's like, cool or whatever and I guess I love you guys and stuff.

Have a good week!
Happy 4th!

-Elder Cox

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good week! We get this feeling that our area is just about to explode. I'm not sure why we think that, but we get the feeling that we're soon going to have more to do than we have time for. Buckle up!

I had the opportunity last week to lead out my area on exchanges with one of the assistants to the President. It was a really good learning experience, and we had a ton of fun! He says I'll likely stay in this ward for a little while, and that he's excited for me to see what it's like when school rolls around at ASU. We still don't have a super big teaching pool, but we've really been putting effort into the personal mission plans with our members and hopefully they will pay off in the coming weeks!

I've found a new favorite scripture, found in Alma chapter 11. It's when Zeezrom is trying to convince Amulek that there is no God, and tries to get him to deny the faith, etc. I love Amulek's response: "Oh thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?" While it's pretty bold and kind of funny, it actually helps a lot.
When I think, "Maybe I can just sleep in for five more minutes..."
Oh thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?
When we see very good-looking, scantily clad daughters of God or get caught in the middle of an "Undie Run" on ASU campus...
Oh thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?
When members offer me chocolate brownies, smothered in chocolate with chocolate chips and chocolate ice cream
Oh thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?
Okay, so maybe not quite so harsh, but you get the picture. It's super effective! So, any time you feel yourself getting discouraged, angry, tempted, or the like, just think: Oh thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?

So last week sometime, we were walking around an apartment complex and this guy yells to us, "Hey, my Elders!" We look over to see a tall black guy with dred-locks and Tom and Jerry tattooed on his left and right arms, respectively. We had no idea who this guy was, as we'd never seen him at church. He tells us that his name is Andre, and that he used to go to church but hasn't been active for a long time. We invited him to FHE last week. He came. We invited him to church. He came. We had a lesson with him the other night and he said that he's never received the priesthood, but that he would like to progress toward it. Super cool! Just goes to show that God will put people in our path when we're following the Spirit. He texted us after church and thanked us for the "open arms", and that he wants to start listening to better music and hanging out with better influences. Really neat!

Welp, not much else to say. Glad to hear that everyone's still well. Hope you have a fantastic week!

-Elder Cox
June 16

That's what this week has been! A mind-plosion. Like an explosion, but of the mind. Like... my mind has exploded. Get the picture? Literally every single personal study I've had this week has had weight and significance to it. A little while back I was starting to study just random "deep doctrine" crap that has nothing to do with missionary work or salvation. So recently, I decided to go back to the very basics. Faith. Repentance. Our relationship with God, etc. It's amazing how much new perspective you can get just studying the basics. I realized that we so often take for granted how easy it is to maintain a relationship with God and maintain happiness. Of course the primary answers: Read, pray, go to church. The basics. I realized that even though these things are so easy (most of the time...), they can stamp such valid testimonies to our souls. I guess for myself, I was just thinking myself to be at a much higher spiritual plan of existence that simply reading, praying, and taking the sacrament couldn't possibly help me progress any more. I need to have way bigger stuff happen in order to further my testimony. FALSE. I'm ranting again, but it's all truth. Reading, praying, going to church, faith, repentance, baptism, the holy ghost, etc. etc. It's all true.

Another thing: Agency. When I first came out on my mission I remember saying that I wish I could just take people's agency away so that they'd be baptized and just accept the blessings of the gospel. More recently, while we were fulfilling our assignment as zone leaders, we had the opportunity to learn quite a bit about agency. We started applying the principle of leadership that Joseph Smith taught: "Teach [people] true principles, and let them govern themselves." It's so true! We had the opportunity to apply that this week several times, and it was such a learning experience. I realized that if we just tell people what to do, they really aren't going to learn anything from it. We just told them what we think, taught them, and invited them to act, or use their agency. I realized even more, that my parents are geniuses (geni? Genies?) because that's exactly how they raised me. "Hey Dad, can I go to my friend's house even though it's Sunday?"
"What do you think?"
But as I realized this I understood so much more why it's important. I wouldn't learn anything if you would have just said "Yes" or "No". I dunno. I understand it a lot better in my head than I can express over an email, but it's still SICK.

Even though we haven't really taught many lessons this week, and our teaching pool is pretty much evaporated with the scorching heat of summer semester at ASU, this week was still a super dope learning experience. Most of it just dealt with leadership and helping others in our zone to have converting experiences. Something I realized is that I'm on a mission to convert investigators, yes, but also myself, my companion, and other missionaries. That's been our focus as we've been trying to find more people to teach. We want to help our zone members have converting experiences that will help them be converted throughout their lives.

A cool miracle that happened this week! We were walking through an apartment complex looking for a member's apartment. There's a guy hangin' out at the pool and he says, "Hey, you guys lost?"
My thoughts: "Oh freak, we're about to get shot."
Nah, just kidding, it was a totally non-threatening situation. Anyway, so this guy tells us that he needs a good influence in his life. Well perfect sir, we happen to know some representatives of Jesus Christ that can help you find peace in this life and eternal joy in the life to come. It's us. So we sat with this guy and just listened to his problems. He had separated from his wife who was living in the same apartment complex he did, and he had been drinking and wanted to go see his kids. He asked our advice on whether or not he should go over there, and we told him that it'd probably be better if he went home and slept for the night and went and saw them later. Anyway, we were able to teach this guy about the Gospel and it was cool and stuff.

Thanks for all the support and prayers and stuff! My testimony is booming! The Atonement is real! I love being a missionary! I love my family! Have a great week!

-Elder Cox