Sunday, July 22, 2012


July 17th, 2012
Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah

Dajia hao!

Wow....ummmm.....has anyone else noticed that in THREE weeks I will be headed for TAIWAN??????? WHAT THE?!??!!!! It's so crazy! I feel like I have been in the MTC for so long and it's like I kind of forgot there this is so much more to my mission after this part....I still can't wrap my head around it. I'm terribly excited, but I'm really loving the MTC and I will miss my zone and especially my district so much when we all take off. It's rather exciting though...I feel we are on the precipice of tremendously great experiences that we cannot even begin to fathom. 

This week I was studying the Christlike attribute of hope: xiwang. It's funny that whenever I focus on some specific attribute I find that that is what I struggle the most with that week. I am not going to lie to you, last week was kind of hard. I just got really stressed out about Chinese and the fact that there's such a long way for me to go and how will I ever know enough and blah blah blah. I was being such a brat but thankfully Heavenly Father helped me find my way, just like He always does. Unfortunately I decided to turn inward and feel sorry for myself a little bit when things got rough instead of turning outward, remembering why I'm here and why I'm doing the things I  am doing. I am here because I love God. His love has changed and saved my life and continues to do so. I know He loves His children, and He wants them to come home, and He wants them to feel His love. I want them to know that too. It's pretty amazing how forgetful I can be, and how easy it is to be selfish when we are put to the test of the limits we set for ourselves. I read a really fantastic talk this week by President James E. Faust called "Hope, An Anchor of the Soul" (Ensign Nov. 1999...go look it's fanTASTIC). Here are some cool tidbits from his talk:

"The reason for some of these trials cannot be readily understood except on the basis of faith and hope because there is often a larger purpose which we do not always understand. Peace comes through hope."
"No one has a certain answer except perhaps in circumstances where higher purposes are served. We must walk in faith."
"I believe there is great hope for everyone! Sometimes we ask God for miracles, and they often happen but not always in the manner we expect."
"Hope is trust in God's promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future."
He also quotes a woman named Sister Joyce Audrey Evans who talked about hope after she lost one of her children: "I knew why I couldn't give up hope in spite of all the circumstances: you either live in hope or you live in despair. Without hope, you cannot endure to the end."

Aaaand one more: "The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death. [...] His presence can be known unequivocally by the Spirit if we continually seek to live under the shadow of His influence."

Also go read Ether 12:4...that's where it talks all about hope being the anchor of our souls. Isn't that an incredibly beautiful image?  

I hope some of President Faust's words can touch you the way that they touched me, penetrated my soul, and helped me to get back up and go back to work. There is so much power in having hope. Having hope, as I learned in my studying this week, is inseparably connected with faith. We cannot have faith if we do not have hope. Hope gives us the strength to lift our heads when it would be easy to droop down in exhaustion and defeat, it gives us power to overcome our selfish tendencies and to say "I am here and I am ready to learn Chinese and I know that I can do it!!!" It gives us the patience to deal with challenges that come our way. Let's remember to look forward with hope, because like Sister Evans said, "you either live in hope or you live in despair." We truly choose to be happy. We can carry our own joy. I am grateful God is ever-patient in teaching me and re-teaching me these simple things to make me a better servant.

I was also really touched by a scripture in 3 Nephi 11 this week...verse 14: "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world."
Isn't that magnificent?
I feel so full of love when I read this verse, and it pricks my heart. I've been really trying to have more meaningful experiences when I take the sacrament and I wonder if I can't have this kind of experience as I partake of it and remember my Savior? He asks us to come unto Him and when I imagine Him saying that to me it is such a tender and precious feeling. He wants me to come and feel His wounds, to repent and begin again to follow Him and be more like Him. To serve and love God's children. He wants me to know through His atoning sacrifice that He is my Savior. He is your Savior too, I know that. Allow me to speak boldly because as I try to receive Christ into my life every day and as I try desperately to change myself to become more full of love, patient, humble, and faithful I feel my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior expand so greatly. I feel them in my life. I feel them reaching out for me as I reach out to them. Having a relationship with God and Jesus Christ is the most important pursuit I have ever strived for. Thank you all for helping me get here so I can have these experiences to make me more ready to serve the people of Taiwan. To reach out to them in friendship and love. Missions are so cool.

Well what else can I tell you? Oh yeah I got called as the Relief Society Coordinating Sister for my zone/branch. It's nothing too fancy, just a couple of extra meetings on Sunday and I go visit the new Mandarin-speaking Sisters each night which is really really fun. I will admit that I did not want the calling at first because I was being a selfish pig and wanted more free time on Sundays to study and write in my journal and stuff but I had a really meaningful prayer with my Heavenly Father and then when the second counselor in my branch presidency asked me to I felt great about accepting the call. Isn't it amazing that when God asks us to do things it's really a chance for US to receive more blessings?? He is so merciful and so giving...these blessings never seem to cease and I am awed and blessed. I really love being able to connect with the Sisters and to be an example for them. It pushes me to be better and helps me to remember to have faith and hope. Yesterday I shared Isaiah 58:12 with them...go check it out ;)

God bless and  keep you all.
Wo zhende ai nimen,
Ke JieMei

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It Was The Best Of Times

July 10th, 2012
Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah

Dajia hao!!!

Wow so many stories to tell you but only 17 minutes to do it!! Yi, er, san, KAISHI!!!!! (one, two, three, START!)

We had a really fun 4th of July celebration here at the MTC which included getting out of class early for a special devotional, magnum bars for one and all (why are they so glorious??), and of course watching the fireworks!! We got to stay up late and watch the fireworks they had going on at the stadium of fire and it was so fun. Jin JieMei and I bought sparkle cherry laffy taffy's for everyone in our district (cause they are yum and the sparkles make them look like fireworks) and we laughed and celebrated our freedom. We didn't feel as great about it the next day, though, when we were all dead tired. I can't believe I ever stayed up till 3 in the morning.....if I'm not in bed by 10:30 I just can't go on! Hahaha hopefully these sleeping habits will stick with me after my mission...we shall see.......

Thursday was hard cause we were sleepy but it was also fantastic because my cousin finally got here!!!!! I was SO excited to see him and when he walked past my classroom I flew out of my seat and yelled his name in my excitement!  I quite forgot myself and did not call him Elder, but all was forgiven. It was so fantastic to see his big bright smile and it was such a comfort, just as I always dreamed it would be, to have a piece of home with me in the MTC/on the mission. He was a little wet from the rain but looked very excited to finally be here. We see each other allllllll the time because he is in my zone and we have the same schedules every day. It's funny because his Chinese name is the same as mine, so whenever I see him I say "Ke ZhangLao!" and he smiles all wiley like and says "Ke JieMei!" On Saturday all the new missionaries had to teach their first lesson in Chinese....boy did that bring back some hilarious memories. Ke ZhangLao and his companion practiced teaching me and Jin JieMei, and they were so awesome! I was just beaming with pride. I'm glad Ke ZhangLao was able to take Chinese 101 before he got here because it's going to make the next few weeks a lot less painful. He memorizes words really fast and well, and his tones are really great. Sometimes he speaks in a really goofy accent, the way only he could do when speaking to a cousin, but his tones and pronunciation are great. I'm just so proud of him and I brag about him every chance I get. I was talking to one of the Branch Presidency members on Sunday, and he said he met with Ke ZhangLao and told me he seems to be really positive and upbeat and just a great missionary. I agree with him, his district is very lucky to have him. 

This Saturday in the TRC we taught one 40-minute lesson instead of two 20-minute lessons. It was a bit daunting but actually turned out really great! Our investigators were this Singaporean returned missionary and a girl from Mainland China who he met in Australia (on his mission), taught, and baptized! It was so cool.  Their Chinese was crazy fast, but I was relieved at how much I could follow what they were saying. We taught them the first lesson but mostly turned it into a discussion to learn about their experiences with faith and in the Church. At the end of the lesson we talked about Joseph Smith and the Chinese girl said she really loved how he had so much faith and how cool it was when he prayed and got such a wonderful answer. We then invited them to find their own "sacred grove,"  a place where they could be alone and say a prayer out loud to their Heavenly Father. We promised it would strengthen them and help them find peace and guidance. Isn't that a cool idea? We heard it in a fireside. I guess I haven't technically tried it, there aren't a lot of places you can be alone in the MTC, but I have loved the way my relationship with Heavenly Father has grown and changed as I have tried to have more sincere personal prayers...especially at night. 

Ok one more hilarious story. So last night around 12:45 we were all awakened by a shrill sireny buzzing sound and flashing light. It took me several minutes to realize that it was the fire alarm and I'm sorry to report that all the sisters in our residence hall tried to sleep through it at first because we didn't realize what was happening. Finally I sat up and saw my companion standing in the middle of the room squinting and pressing her hands against her ears. Another sister moaned really loudly, and I yelled (a little louder than I meant to) "WEISHENME!!!!!??!?!" (WHY?!??!) I mean I was in a deep stage of REM cycle, ok? I could hardly tell what I was doing but managed to grab our room key on our way out. Jin JieMei and I couldn't help but laugh at the whole situation. There was no fire, and we never actually found out why the alarm whent off (faulty system?) but I had showered a couple hours before and had my hair all done in snoop dog braids so it would be wavy today, so I looked like a total freak...and then we remembered a few weeks ago when a similar thing happened to us when we were in the is so funny. I love it. We only had to wait about 30 minutes before going back in but it took me a while to fall back asleep. I just love that even when you think your life as a missionary can be routine, you always have to expect the unexpected....I love my life :)

Ahhhh ok one more thing. We as a district had a major call to repentance this week about really sacrificing everything and doing all we can to devote every second to the Lord so we can be the missionaries we need to be. It was such a powerful meeting and I do hope I'm getting better at it. I get really frustrated with myself sometimes for being a little dum dum.  I really want to be better. I really am trying. I'm just grateful I have other people to help me push myself and always be better. Anyway....I don't know even how to describe it but I just want to be so much more than I am. I know God is helping me grow each day but I'm sorry that I haven't been my best at all times. I love being a missionary. I don't know what I did for God to bless me with letting a mission be part of his plan for my life but I'm so so grateful that it is. I love every day. RIght now I'm really trying to glory in tribulation and I'm still trying to turn's crazy to realize how selfish I have been for most of my life but I hope that I can really make this less and less about me and more and more about others. So even though I mess up all the time God gives me a thousand more chances, cause he loves me so much. I really feel that. I hope you do too. 

Dang it, it's time to go, and I never feel like I express myself very well in these emails. I pray that you can feel the spirit of what I am trying to share. I am so happy here! I LOVE my mission! I can't believe I'll be heading to Taiwan in less than a month....!!! I love teaching and I love my district. My companion is my best friend and is such a strength to me...what an amazing example of service and patience she is. I am surrounded by wonderful people. I love learning more about this gospel, it is so enriching. I am telling you...THIS IS LIVING!!!!! Did I really live before these moments? I don't know if I did. But my heart is so full of joy and love, and I'm grateful that I get to keep improving and that it's a process that never ends. God truly loves us. 

I pray for you always, remember I love you and more importantly remember God loves you.
Love love love
Ke JieMei

Monday, July 9, 2012

Never Underestimate The Miracle Of God's Love

July 3rd, 2012
Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah

Dajia hao!!!

Hey does anyone else think it's completely insane that I have been here for 6 weeks??? WHAAAAAAAAAAT! I just think it's totally wild.

I am so excited to get our new group of missionaries this week, we are expecting about 50 new ones in our zone all going Mandarin speaking including my cousin and a friend from high school! It's going to be so awesome. We have a goal to SYL (Speak Your Language, AKA: Chinese) all the time and hopefully that will encouarge the new missionaries (and us) to work hard. Earlier this week my Branch President complimented my Chinese in one of our meetings where I said the prayer but then a few days later he heard me say another prayer and gave me a few corrections. I was starting to feel a little frustrated by the end of this week and we had a little bit of a venting session in our residence hall last night (which I am repenting for now, don't worry). This morning my companion said that she dreamed we were trying to teach a lesson in Chinese and she was mad cause she knew she was asleep and didn't want to be thinking about Chinese. I told her that I remembered having a similar dream and then one of the sisters in our residence hall told me that she heard me sleep talking in Chinese!!! It was such a tender mercy. I know it sounds silly but it just made me feel like even though I have a lot improve on and I could do so much better, I am improving. God is helping me to learn this language, I know he is. I think it's pretty amazing that the all-powerful being in the universe is helping me learn one of the hardest languages in the world so I can teach his children about him and his son. I just have to keep kicking when I don't want to kick, and to keep striving to be worthy of his help. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm working hard and I'm so so happy and I kick myself every time I am negative because it's so absurd. I love my mission so much :)

One of the greatest highlights of the week: a friend from my Provo ward arrived in the MTC this week! She is headed to Korea, so her classes are in my same building.  We have the same schedule, so we get to see each other a lot. I knew she was supposed to come sometime in June but I didn't know when.  Then one of the Korean-speaking Elders told me she was here and I ran to find her and gave her a huge hug and nearly started crying because I was so so happy to see her. She's so lovely and already such a good missionary, I'm grateful she is here. Plus we decided we will live together when we get home because all our friends will be married, graduated, or on missions . . . but we will always have each other!

My companion and I have taken to playing volleyball every day with the missionaries in our zone and we are so awful it's hilarious but everyone is just a really good sport and we just laugh the whole time and play in the sand. I love it haha.

Ok I had such a cool experience this week reading the Book of Mormon. We were studying the Christ-like attribute of Charity and Love as a district. One scripture I read talked about service, which reminded me of Ammon, so I decided to read that story in Alma 17-20. If you haven't read it recently, you should read it again because it's so incredible. I read this story with the lens of charity and love.  It was so powerful!  

Ammon goes to teach the Lamanites about God.  When he first get there, he is kidnapped and bound and taken to the king "as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands" where he could have been killed.  But he is humble and full of love and says that his greatest desire is to serve the king. He defends the king's sheep and servants and is so obedient that the king "was more astonished, because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them." Ammon starts to teach the Lamanites by his example of faithfulness and service, an example which astonishes them. That really spoke to me about how much we can influence people by our actions. You never know who is watching so you just have to be your best all the time. I love that. There are so many more verses I want to share but I'm out of time. Just read it yourselves, and I know you will be touched by the love of this missionary. I gained such a powerful witness this week that we can never underestimate the power and miracle of God's love to transform people. If the love of God motivates our service (as missionaries, as people trying to do good in the world, as friends, etc), we will be a mighty influence for good, and we will have a joy that pierces our hearts and our souls. It is so good. Aren't the scriptures just delicious? I love to devour them here and I wish I could do it for hours and hours every day.  I'm sorry that I didn't take advantage of the joy they bring into my heart more before now. But I am grateful that the miracle of God's love in my life right now is that he is letting me have this chance to be his missionary, to be refined and grow spiritually and most of all to serve and love his children. It is such a privilege.

The days are long, the weeks are so short, and the work is truly marvelous. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!
Love love love
Sister Coco Mack

He Will Heal Us

June 26th, 2012
Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah

Nimen Hao!!

Well it's only 10 in the morning and it is already a crazy day. The older generation in our zone (all the Mandarin speaking missionaries who were here when we got here) leave for Taipei today!!! It's going to be so strange and empty without them...but only one week from Thursday and then we get 60 new missionaries!!! Including my cousin and a friend from my Provo ward!!! I am so excited. Saturday was our "month-i-versary" and one of the Elders’ moms sent a package with party hats, "cosmic brownies" (brownies with star sprinkles on them. I know, RIGHT??), and m&ms. And those little things that you blow and the paper unrolls but they didn't make a squeaky sound. You know those things? Yeah, I think you do. We took pictures and then wore our party hats to dinner. People kept wishing me happy birthday and I finally told one Elder, "Thanks! I turned 25 today!" He looked horrified and I started laughing a little maniacally and one of the Elders in my district him reassured him that it wasn't true. It was great.

Ok one more really funny story before I say some spiritual stuff ;) Yesterday after my companion and I got out of teaching our lesson we went back to the classroom and one of the Elders was sitting in my seat. He introduced himself to me as "Ke Jie Mei" (my name) and then I did an imitation of him. Before we knew it, someone thought of the great idea that all of us switch seats and act like each other. It was hilarious how well we could all peg each other with little mannerisms and expressions. I thought I was going to pee my skirt. When our teacher walked in she was really confused and then she realized what was happening and tried so hard not to laugh before making us switch back to our original seats. Ok maybe this isn't a very funny story to you but it was really funny to see what people notice about each other. Our district is so close to each other and it makes being in the MTC so much fun.

Speaking again of the older generation, this week was a mission presidents conference so some missionaries got to meet with their new mission presidents. The rest of us got to watch a movie...The Other Side of Heaven! I was amazed at my own excitement because it seems like we always watch the Joseph Smith movie (which is fantastic and I love it but still) I was amused by my own delighted reaction. At the end of the movie when Kolipoki and his companion say goodbye to each other they shout "Hurrah for Israel!!!" Jin Jie Mei and I decided that that is what we are going to do when we say goodbye (which I am not looking forward to. I love her so so much.) and I know that when we do that I am going to burst into tears. When all the missionaries in our zone left this morning it made me feel like I just passed a big milestone or marker on the trail of my MTC experience. This Friday will mark the halfway point of my stay in the MTC and it made me panic a little because I have loved being here with all these incredible missionaries and especially my companion. I don't know what I would do without her. I am so spoiled to have someone like her. She gives me such strength every day and what makes it even better is that she is such a good friend to me.  She never gets mad or annoyed (or at least never shows it) and she shares everything she has with me. I really hope we can be companions again when we are both in Taichung. She is just the best.

Yesterday we were eating breakfast outside and two Elders came and sat at the table with us. One of them asked us why we decided to come on missions. We thought for a minute and then gave kind of a run down answer. I basically just said that I had always felt I should go, but that I never wanted to until I was 18 and I took a really great class on the Book of Mormon, and when we were studying the war chapters in Alma, the scriptures kind of came alive for me in a way that they never had before and I was filled with the Spirit and I wanted to share what I felt with other people. I wanted to share the joy I knew with other people and I wanted to do it as a missionary and so the following years were kind of preparing for that. Then he told us his story. As a teenager he had made a lot of poor choices, and his life had really unraveled.  I won’t tell you all the details.  But by following his own desire for light and through the loving help of his family and ward leaders, this Elder had repented and prepared himself to serve a mission. I loved hearing his story. And I loved the reminder that God is ever reaching out his arm to us for us to grab hold and come back to him. Never doubt the saving power and grace of the Atonement. Never doubt God's love for each of his children, no matter who they are or what they have done.

3 Nephi 18:32 has kind of been my scripture for this week: "Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them."

I feel like it totally applies to the story of that Elder. And it also applied to one of my investigators who accepted an invitation to be baptized, but then in the next lesson told us he wasn't sure why it was so important. I prayed a great deal for him and read the scriptures with the question in mind, "How do I make this important to other people?" This was part of my answer. As I read it I felt like God was saying "Sister Mack, your job as a missionary is to constantly and continually minister to people, I will take care of the rest." I know that he does. I know that we cannot always know God's plans for his children, but we need to press forward in patience and faith, trusting God to uphold his promises and striving to uphold ours.

I wish I could tell you everything. I wish I could do every story and experience justice, but I hope you can feel the power and the magnitude behind each one. Know that they are sacred and precious to me. I am so grateful I get to be a missionary...sometimes I can't believe how blessed I am to be here. Me, of all people. I get to help participate in this amazing work and even though it's not about me, I am being spiritually refined and strengthened. God is so good to us. Read Mosiah....2. I think. It talks about how he gives and he gives and he gives--he freely blesses us. We can never repay him. He also "takes and he takes and he takes" our pains, weaknesses, and sorrows (like the Sufjan Stevens song "Casimir Pulaski Day").

I pray for each of you always. I love you dearly. I can't believe I only get to do this for 17 more months.
All my love,
Ke Jie Mei

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

Sister Coco Mack
June 19th, 2012
MTC, Provo, Utah

Dajia hao!

Wow. WHAT A WEEK!!!! Tomorrow I will have been in the MTC for a MONTH! Is such a thing possible???? How can it BE?!

Let me just tell you that I am loving every single minute, even the really hard parts. I have never been so exhausted in my life, but I feel that the things I am doing and learning are so important, and I am just so happy to be a missionary! Every day is full of little surprises and I am so grateful that I keep learning and loving it all.

There are a THOUSAND and 12 things to tell you about this week, but I'm just going to narrow it down to a few experiences for the sake of time. One day I will reveal all my experiences though :)

This week Jin JieMei (my companion) and I extended the invitation to be baptized to both of our investigators. A few weeks ago we were reading in Preach My Gospel and there was something that said we should not be afraid to extend the invitation the first time we teach someone. The thought of that terrified me. How can I ask someone to be baptized after one lesson? Wouldn't it drive them away and make them uncomfortable? Well...that was really rather stupid of me. I clearly did not have enough faith. In both instances that we extended that invitation this week, the Spirit was so powerful. I will just tell you about what happened with one of our investigators, Zhang Jie Mei.

Now please keep in mind that our investigators are actually our teachers role playing as investigators that they knew and taught on their missions. Sometimes that makes it hard because you want to think about them as a real investigator but you're like, wait, I know you are my teacher. Anyway. It was possibly one of the best lessons ever. When we went in to teach her I could immediately see a change in her--she was very bright and smiley, warm and excited. Normally she is really quiet and kind of shy. She told us that she had been reading the Book of Mormon and that she felt it was true. She asked us for advice about how to get her children to pray and I wanted to laugh when I thought of all the times we have had family prayer and everyone is pinching each other and crying or's just so great. We talked to her about Mosiah 18 quite a bit. I got so excited about the whole thing and she seemed really eager to keep hearing more. I really enthusiastically tried to talk to her in Chinese about my love of the baptismal covenant, and how I think it so perfectly describes Yesu Jidu de fuyin--the teachings of Christ, teachings of loving and caring for all people. She really liked that. We shared our own experiences with baptism, how it was an exciting time in our lives and then felt moved to ask her if she would be willing to be baptized. She said yes! As we were talking about it, I was completely overcome by it all. I was so full of love and happiness for her, and I could see that she was so happy and so touched by the Spirit. I wanted to say a thousand things to her but of course did not have the English OR Chinese. I got tears in my eyes as I tried desperately to tell her what I was feeling. God gave me everything that I needed to say in that moment, and it was so cool!!! I told her that God and Jesus Christ were so happy about her decision, and that as she continued to pray they would help her make the preparations she needs.

I know it wasn't technically a "real" experience....but it was. The Spirit of God was so real in that lesson. The love of God that filled me to the point where I thought I might burst with such pure and exceeding joy was so real. Her happiness and her experience of coming closer to Christ was real. I have decided that this is what makes all the hard parts SO worth it. I would gladly have 100 or 1000 or even a million bad lessons if I could have 1 lesson like the one we had with Zhang Jie Mei. Missionary work is a beautiful beautiful thing. I can't believe how blessed I am to be part of it!!!

We had another really incredible experience in the TRC this week. A woman who served her mission in Taipei like 5 years ago was the first person we taught. The goal of the lesson was to teach the volunteer how to gain revelation through prayer. My companion was in charge of sharing the scripture and she accidentally turned to the wrong one but it turned out to be really powerful and it really touched this dear Sister. I don't think there are any accidents here. God directs this work, and more and more I feel that he is right beside us as we strive to say what he would have us say, to teach the things he would have us teach his precious children. Towards the end of the lesson, I once again was able to open my mouth, and say the words that God wanted me to say. I told this sister: Wo zhidao TianFu he Yesu Jidu dui ni you xinxin. Wo keyi ganjue tamen de ai wei ni. Wo zhidao yinwei ni you hen xinxin, tamen shi hen kuaile wei ni.--I know God and Jesus Christ have faith in you. I can feel their love for you. I know that because you have great faith, they are so happy because of you. She started to cry, and I know the spirit touched her heart. I love teaching in the TRC. The majority of the time we are teaching members of the church and it is so cool to me, the fact that we all still need to be ministered to. The process of being converted to Christ is one that never ends. Everyone needs reminders and help getting there every day. It's such a special blessing for me to do that with my investigators, the volunteers, my companion, and the Elders in my district. It is such a precious experience for me, and I relish the moments that I get to draw nearer to my Savior with all of them as my guides too. I learning! I learn so much every day and I am so blessed and so happy.

More and more every day, I get excited to serve our Chinese brothers and sister in 2 short months. More and more I know that God has entrusted me with a great work, to minister to and love his children. More and more I know that with God I can do all things.

"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

I know that God is with me. Thank you for your love and support, I feel it every day. Know that I pray for you constantly. I love you all so dearly.

Love love love
Sister Coco Mack

Du Weisst Es Besser Als Ich

Sister Coco Mack
June 12th, 2012, MTC, Provo, Utah

Remember that song from "Joseph King of Dreams"? The one where he starts having faith in God and turns to Him in his darkest hour? That is what I thought of yesterday when I read mom's letter. She wrote to me about choosing to view life as a faith journey. It hit me so hard, and then the glorious German lyrics burst forth in my mind: Du weisst es besser als ich! Du kennst den Weg! Ich steck mein Vertrauen in dich, denn du weisst es besser als ich! Glory glory Hallelujah!

I am sorry my mind is always so scattered when I sit down to write to you.  There are millions of words and stories darting about wildly in my mind and I never take the time beforehand to think of exactly what I want to say so then I panic cause the timer starts counting down and I'm like WHERE DO I START!??!?! I want to share it all with you, but since I can't I just want to choose some moments of true and real significance, that I hope will resonate with you, and that I hope will help you to understand somewhat what I'm feeling.

On Saturday I had the chance to teach in the TRC for the first time. That is when volunteers come into the MTC and we teach them. They are either from China/Taiwan/Singapore (native speakers, essentially) or they are returned missionaries. Sometimes actual investigators come and get taught by the missionaries. I wasn't nervous to do it because my Chinese is so limited that there is only so much I can say before I just have to sit there and smile and say "Duibuqi". I was actually really excited because we teach like 5 lessons a week but it's always to our teachers who are acting as investigators so we know their "background" and how to prepare, whereas in the TRC you just go in and teach and you have to be prepared to be led by the Spirit to know what to say.

My companion and I had a totally incredible experience. The first volunteer we taught was a guy from Singapore. His Chinese was pretty fast and I caught a lot less than half of what he was saying. We went in there prepared to give an overview of the first lesson and to share a scripture. As we were sitting there, though, I suddenly told him to turn to 1 Nephi 3:7 instead of Moroni 10:3-5 like we planned on doing. I asked him (in very bad Chinese) to share an experience with us about that verse and to explain what he thought it meant. What happened next was really remarkable. I could hardly understand what he was saying with my ears, but I could FEEL what he was saying. I felt like we were supposed to share that scripture with him. Later we got to read a little evaluation he wrote about our lesson and he mentioned specifically how much he liked that we shared that scripture and that thinking about it gave him strength and that he felt the desire to keep searching the Book of Mormon and praying about it everyday! I cannot adequately describe the experience with words, but it felt so miraculous to me!!

Right after that we taught an older woman who served her mission in Taiwan. She was incredibly sweet and patient with us as we stumbled through the lesson. At the end she asked us to share experiences about how reading The Book of Mormon and praying made a change in our lives. Or how it was significant. Or something like that. I told her that it was how I knew I wanted to serve a mission, because I didn't know if I should go but when I studied the scriptures and prayed about it, I felt that I needed to go and that that was what God wanted for me and that was His plan for me: Dang wo xuexi Muermenjing he zuo qidao, de shihou wo ganjue wo xuyao qu chuan jiao. Wo zhidao zhe shi Shen de jihua wei wo. Zhe shi shenme shihou ta yao wei wo. And I probably said it wrong but I could see in her eyes that my experience made everything we just taught more powerful. And it was the same thing with Jin JieMei when she shared an experience. Afterwards, I very simply and very stutteringly told her that I knew that if she read The Book of Mormon and prayed that God would bless her family. I could feel so much love for her and her family in that moment, that they were so important to her and so important to Heavenly Father. I could see in her eyes that she knew and felt that too. Through God, we can do all things.

I will spare you the story of the lesson I taught 2 days later that seemed to completely tank in comparison :) I'm starting to embrace the downs as much as the ups. I trust God. I know He won't let me make a big mess of things if I am sincerely striving to do what's right. And I feel like I try harder every day. I feel like I receive so much more strength than I ever knew that I had. That I continue to be blessed when I don't think I deserve it. God loves me. And I know He loves you too!! I KNOW it!

I just want to take a minute to talk about my companion and all the Elders in my district. They are so marvelous. It seems impossible that we could all care for each other so much the way that we do in this short amount of time, but we do and it is so beautiful. I treasure these friendships and I honestly think they are making all the difference. It is impossible to be weary for very long, to selfishly mope and drag one's feet when there are such missionaries to lift and inspire and encourage and remind me of why I'm here. On Sunday I got to watch a talk that Elder Bednar gave at the MTC last Christmas, and it changed my life. It is still working within me, I am still figuring out what it means and how to make it real in my life, but it was one of the most powerful experiences of my mission so far. He talked about how there would be no Atonement without the character of Christ. The character of Christ, essentially, is to turn outward instead of inward. One example he gave of this is when Christ is being led to be crucified. He has been let down by his apostles who could not stay awake for one hour while he prayed, by Judas who betrayed him with a kiss, and in the midst of all this whirlwind of emotion Peter cuts off one of the ears of a soldier. And Jesus heals him! He does not turn inward, feeling sorry for himself or moaning about what he is going to do, he reaches out in tenderness, and heals his oppressor. I need to work on that SO MUCH in my life right now. Every day I try to think about how I can avoid the tendency to turn inward and think of myself, and instead turn outward and show love, compassion, and care for others. I know it will make all the difference. I want so desperately to be lost in the service of my God, that I come to find my best self therein. Does that make any sense? I hope so.

Thank you for your letters. Each word is so precious to me. I love you all and pray for you always. Thank you for believing in me, for praying for my success and for helping me remember what I so often forget: the very basics of life and of missionary service...I am working hard to forget myself and just throw everything into this marvelous work. I am so so blessed to be here. I love love LOVE being a missionary. It is hard and it is beautiful. I know it's where I'm supposed to be.

All my love, wo hen ai nimen.
Ke JieMei

Week Two in the M.T.Sizzle

June 5th, 2012
Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah

Nimen Hao!!!!

Ok. Here is something that I know. The concept of time is totally bizarre and weird and it is definitely distorted here in the MTC. It feels totally crazy to say that I have only been here for 2 weeks because about a bajillion things have happened and it feels like much much longer. At the same time I think whooooa there turbo, hang on a sec. I have been a missionary for 2 weeks! Pretend that is a question mark. Someone messed up this keyboard hardcore and the punctuation keys are extremely askew. My days are so full and I am so happy!

I would like to continue on by saying that being a missionary is very hard. And trying to teach lessons in Chinese is even harder. But I am strengthened every day by the enthusiastic and hilarious missionaries in my district, by my dear sweet companion, and of course the love I feel from family and friends pricking my heart as reminders when I need it the most. Quick side-note:I am so sorry that I speak so awkwardly. In addition to not speaking fluid or coherent Chinese, I am adding broken and uncomfortably awkward English to my long list of accomplishments! Just kidding! But is becoming a bit of problem. I am hoping that that means my brain is in the process of switching to Chinese mode.

The exciting event of today is that we had a random fire drill while my companion and I were both in the shower. A lady came in and just told us to get outside as quickly as we could. We definitely should have taken it more seriously but since we had the feeling it was just a drill we took the time to get dressed and even brushed our hair. My companion had not washed off her face make up in the shower but I thought she had taken the time to put it on BEFORE we went outside and it made me laugh. Today has really been a magnificent P.Day. It came just in time because yesterday was actually the first day where I felt like....a hint of defeat.

We have a new investigator (he is actually our teacher but he is portraying a real investigator he encountered on his mission) and when we got in there to teach him he told us he only had 10 minutes though we were supposed to have like 25 or 30. We both kind of panicked and were trying to decide what to cut out on like the spur of the moment. Chen Dixiong..Brother Chen...has a lot of challenges in his life that are causing him a lot of sorrow. It was really tangible in the room even though we knew that it was just like a scenario. I was desperate to communicate with him and help him understand how much God loves him. I could feel it in that moment. But when I really needed my Chinese most it just was not there and I panicked more and stumbled even more. It was pretty rough. All of our other lessons up to this point have been a lot smoother. There were positive aspects to the lesson like I taught him how to pray and he said the closing prayer and he committed to read 2 Nephi 31 and pray about it and his prayer was very sincere and sweet at the end of the lesson...but I was still feeling very distraught. I was upset with myself for not communicating what I wanted to communicate. I was complaining like a big fat whiner to my companion.  One of the elders overheard me when I said that I just felt like a bad missionary and not a good teacher. He literally leapt up out of his seat and told me to stop talking. He went into this whole spiel about how amazing I am and blah blah was actually very sweet but it is embarrassing for me to write. The point is, it was really comforting. He always has such a positive attitude and he is always smiling and laughing which I just love. It is a strength to me and a reminder that I need to have more faith.

I was very humbled this week when in a teaching scenario in which we got to speak English, I totally bombed it. I was grateful to have the realization that teaching the gospel is a challenging thing for me, no matter what language. And I am so glad I get to be here for like...9 more weeks to work out the kinks.

Random MTC info....the MTC food is less than awesome. There are a few things they do REAL muffins and pudding. But the salads are so BLAND compared to the luxurious 5 star ones that Flan made for me every day.

AHHHHHHHHHH running out of time! I am sorry I am so scatter-brained. There is never enough time to say all that I want to say, but that just means I will have more stories for when we are all together again. Something I just wanted to share in the line of my hard day yesterday....
I have a stronger and stronger testimony of Alma 26 verse 12 every single day. It says: Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak, therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things, yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Is not that beautiful. I have seen many mighty miracles in my life since I have been in the MTC. I have seen it in my companion, who loves me and takes crazy good care of me. She is my best friend and a beautiful example every single day. I see it in my district who keeps me laughing when I feel like I might lose it. I see it in my progress with Chinese although it is slow...there is no way I could teach a lesson in Chinese about the restoration of the gospel without the Lords help.

I know God can make us mighty, we just have to let him.

I love you all so much, I pray for you every single day.
Much love,
Ke Jie Mei

Nimen Hao!!

May 29th, 2012
Letter from Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah

Nimen hao!!!!

Wow....has it really only been one week since I was set apart as a missionary? I am constantly amazed at how much work we get done here every single day. Every day is so full and so wonderful. To start things off I'd just like to say that Chinese is really very hard, but I find it's even harder to stay discouraged for very long. There is a really sweet Elder in my district. Every day he goes into this little speech about how amazing we are all doing with Chinese and how incredible our progress is. We go at such a fast pace that it can often feel pretty overwhelming but on the other hand, my companion and I have taught 3 lessons in CHINESE!!! Doesn't that seem wild? Doesn't it seem impossible? But as we are constantly reminded, all things are possible with God. I am trying so hard to have more faith every day. It's so great because every time I sort of start to feel down about the language, we have a workshop or a lecture or a devotional and someone talks about how all we need to do is trust God. Last night, for example, we had a workshop about how to organize our language study. The teacher reminded us that our calls came from God. He called us to learn the Mandarin language because he knows that we can do it and that we can succeed. There are people I am meant to teach in Taiwan and people I am supposed to meet that will change my life as we both strive to draw nearer to God and to Christ. It's such an empowering feeling to know that if I give all that I have, I will be blessed for my efforts. That is something my Branch President talked to us about last week too: as long as we take care of the input, God takes care of the output. If we are doing everything we can to study and understand the gospel and Chinese, God will give us the ability to remember it and to speak it. Isn't that incredible? I see miracles in my life every day.

One of the greatest miracles so far is the blessing of my companion, Jin JieMei. Oh and my Chinese name is Ke JieMei...I love it :) Anyway my companion is incredible. I am so grateful to have her because we both came here for the same reason, we both knew it was the right thing and we both wanted to do God's work and to spread the joy of the gospel wherever he called us to go. Even though we have only been together for a few days, Jin JieMei and I have been able to see the Spirit working in our companionship. We often have the same goals in mind for what we want to work on or we have the same ideas for what we want to teach in our lessons to Cai Pei Fen. Also I am sorry if this email is disorganized but there is so much to say and only 20 more minutes to write it!! We have been so blessed in our study of Chinese and of the gospel. I have to tell you that studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel has never been so powerful for me as it has in the past few days. Every single time I read I understand the scriptures in a new way, and it is often in a way that will help me teach my investigator more powerfully or will help me to have a better perspective on what I am doing and what I should work on. I love understanding the scriptures and being taught by the spirit every day. Yesterday Jin JieMei and I were doing companion study reading in Preach My Gospel and all of the sudden we started talking about our spiritual experiences that led us to the decision to serve a mission. It was really powerful and beautiful. I really believe that Jin JieMei and I were meant to be companions. We become better friends every day. Something I really appreciate about her and our companionship is that we have the ability to invite the spirit to help us plan, learn, and grow and at the same time we know how to have fun together and we laugh all the time. She is so easy for me to be around. She is so loving and thoughtful and spiritual and kind. I absolutely adore her and I can't believe how blessed I am to have such a magnificent companion to help me ease into this new phase of life.

The Elders in our district are really fun and very sweet. They keep us laughing and smiling. We are all trying harder to be more focused in the classroom but the good news is that we all get along so well. Jin Jiemei and I try really hard to set a good example especially since other missionaries and ecclesiastical leaders are always mentioning how amazing the sisters are and how lucky the Elders are to have us. We really strive to live up to those expectations but I also think it's important for us to be friends. If we can love each other, we can better minister and uplift each other and be stronger and more unified in purpose.

Family and friends...I really want you to know that I am so happy here in the MTC. I am so grateful to be here and I am so thankful for your letters and prayers..your love and support strengthens me every day. I want to make you proud and to make my Father in Heaven proud by doing all that I can to be a diligent servant. That's something I strive for everyday: exactness in obedience. On Sunday we had an incredible Fireside and the managing director of...the MTC I think is the one who spoke. He gave a really powerful analogy about a pilot of an F16 and how he has to rely on his instruments and performing with exactness to land safely and successfully. It kind of feels like there isn't much I can control in my life in the sense that I can't automatically be good at the language or know everything I need to know about the gospel in a week, but I can be obedient. I have such faith in that principle and I have already seen how the Lord blesses me for doing what I am supposed to do. For giving everything I have in my studies and having faith that God honors that sacrifice. I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!!!!

I don't know how to structure this but I just remembered that I wanted to tell you more about the lessons in Chinese. I am always nervous going in. Our investigator is actually a volunteer and I'm pretty sure she is a member of the Church but it's great because she is from Taiwan and so it's really good language practice. We still have to use our notes a lot but I can pray and bear my testimony in Chinese and I understand more every day. I always feel quite jubilant afterwards. I know that even though my language skills are weak, if I can bring the Spirit into the lessons then I am accomplishing my purpose. Yesterday in our lesson we taught our investigator to pray and then got her to say the closing prayer as well as to commit to read The Book of Mormon daily and to pray about it. It felt so good.

I don't even know what else to tell you all except that I think about you and pray for you daily. I pray that you are happy and well and please know that I am thriving like never before.

Now I'm going to bear my testimony in Chinese so you can see how much I've learned :D

Wo zhidao Yesu Jidu shi Shen de erzi. Wo zhidao yinwei Shen ai women, suoyi ta cigei women ta de erzi. Wo zhidao dang women zuo qidao, de shihou women hui ganjue Shen de ai. Women shi Shen de haizi. Meiyiguoren shi Shen de haizi he ta ai women. Wo ganxie wo de TianFu cigei women Moermenjing. Wo zhidao Moermenjing shi Shen de hua. Dan women kan Moermenjing, de shihou women hui ganjue Shen de Shenling.
Feng Yesu Jidu de ming, Amen.

I love you all with all my heart. Keep smiling and loving life.
Wo hen ai nimen :)
Sister Mack