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Elder and Sister Cook offer messages, music and ministering on Thanksgiving at Provo MTC

Morning activities range from Thanksgiving songs with a Christmas twist to visiting ill missionaries being isolated in their residences

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From left to right, President Benson L. Porter, president of the Provo Missionary Training Center; his wife, Sister Kerry L. Porter, Sister Mary Cook; and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make their rounds around the Provo Missionary Training Center to greet sick missionaries in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News


Elder and Sister Cook offer messages, music and ministering on Thanksgiving at Provo MTC

Morning activities range from Thanksgiving songs with a Christmas twist to visiting ill missionaries being isolated in their residences

merlin_2952091.jpg

From left to right, President Benson L. Porter, president of the Provo Missionary Training Center; his wife, Sister Kerry L. Porter, Sister Mary Cook; and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make their rounds around the Provo Missionary Training Center to greet sick missionaries in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — Love, humility and gratitude highlighted the spoken and musical Thanksgiving Day messages of Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Mary Cook as they participated in the Nov. 24 morning devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Elder Cook encouraged the 1,050 sisters and elders at the MTC during the holiday week to contemplate and be grateful for their parents, those who have helped them to this point in their lives, the Savior and the blessings of His Atonement.

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Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a Thanksgiving Day devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Gratitude and humility are intertwined, said Elder Cook, who chairs the Church’s Missionary Executive Council. “We live in a self-centered age. It has never been more important to be grateful and humble. Those who possess these attributes express appreciation for their blessings as they follow the Savior’s example.”

Like other Provo MTC devotionals, the Cooks’ messages were to be broadcast to the Church’s eight other missionary training centers worldwide.

Musical messages of thanksgiving

The Apostle paused his instruction for a musical interlude, with Sister Cook leading the missionaries in singing a Thanksgiving message.

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Sister Mary Cook leads missionaries in song during a Thanksgiving Day devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

“I give thanks for each one of you here today,” she said. “Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are grateful for you as well for having chosen to serve Them and spread the gospel on the earth to Their children.”

She expressed a shared gratitude for membership in the Savior’s restored Church and for gospel music. “It brings the Spirit, teaches the doctrine and testifies.”

Sister Cook first led the four-part round of “For Thy Bounteous Blessings” (“Children’s Songbook,” 21B), followed by “Come, Ye Thankful People” (“Hymns,” 94). “You missionaries are the gatherers — along with every member — to bring our families back home to the God who loves them,” she said.

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Sister Mary Cook, wife of Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, leads missionaries in song during at a Thanksgiving Day devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Sister Cook noted that the hymnal features a section listing the titles, tunes and meters of each hymn and that lyrics and music of hymns with the same meter can be interchangeable. She then invited all to sing again the words of the second verse of “Come, Ye Thankful People” to the melody of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (“Hymns,” 209) — “Christmas is just around the corner,” she reminded — since the two share the same 777D pattern.

4 ‘loves’ of missionary work

Elder Cook concluded with what he called “The Four Loves of Missionary Work,” adding “These four loves have always been important — and they may be even more important today.”

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Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a Thanksgiving Day devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

1. Love your companions

Elder Cook started with this love “because it is essential as an emissary of the Savior to ‘be one’ in unity and harmony with each of your companions.”

He acknowledged that six companions from his service between 1960 and 1962 in the British Mission have passed away in recent years. “There has been a special bond among us, and it will survive into the eternities,” he said, reminding that some companionships have an immediate chemistry, and others require a lot of attention and understanding. “The challenge is to love those who do not have the same interests and are different in many ways from yourself.”

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Missionaries listen and take notes during a Thanksgiving Day devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

He reminded his listeners that one of his junior companions was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland — now a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We had a great mission experience and share great love and unity that have endured in a marvelous way over the 60 years since we served together,” said Elder Cook, recalling “a beautiful revelatory experience” in advance of Elder Holland’s call to the apostleship in June 1994.

“In recent years, I have wondered if the Lord was preparing me to be junior in the Twelve to an incredible missionary companion who was my junior companion when we were young missionaries,” he said, adding his counsel “to make an extraordinary effort to learn from and love each of your companions.”

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A missionary takes notes during a Thanksgiving Day devotional with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

2. Love the people

Elder Cook underscored the love missionaries develop for the people they are called to serve. “This love is deep and abiding; it will last your entire life.”

He cautioned against making fun of people and their circumstances. “Emissaries of the Savior who are trying to develop Christlike attributes do not make fun of other people, or put them down, or attempt to create humor at their expense. Social media and newspapers are full of this approach. It is not worthy conduct. It is wrong. Do not do it.”

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Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a Thanksgiving day devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

3. Love your mission president and his wife/companion leader

Explaining that each missionary is assigned to his or her field of labor by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Cook said the Apostles often have the impression the assignments are not just to a certain mission but to a specific mission president and his companion/wife leader.

“We have the sense that these leaders will bless you during your mission. Their goal will be to assist you in your lifelong conversion and guide you in your missionary purpose to preach the gospel and baptize.”

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Missionaries listen and take notes during a Thanksgiving Day devotional with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Elder Cooked noted his and Elder Holland’s learnings from their second mission president, Elder Marion D. Hanks, who emphasized learning the doctrine and teaching by the Spirit — particularly the Book of Mormon and its significance as a witness of Jesus Christ. “His influence has been profound in the lives of all of his missionaries.”

4. Love the Lord

Love for the Savior is shown when one magnifies callings, “and my testimony to you is that as you labor diligently to magnify your mission callings, your personal conversion can deepen,” said Elder Cook, adding that spiritual impressions and even revelation come more often through serving and blessing others. 

“When our primary emphasis is on ourselves, especially when we are not magnifying our callings, spiritual experiences are much less likely to be received. The primary motivation for our service as a missionary should be our love and appreciation for Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Redeemer.”

Sacredness and urgency of serving

Of today’s Apostles working with and traveling with President Russell M. Nelson, Elder Cook said: “There have been many revelatory experiences, and they have been powerful. ... I hope and pray that you precious missionaries will understand the sacredness and also the urgency of serving as an emissary of the Savior in this last dispensation.”

He invited the elders and sisters to be mindful of “The Morning Breaks” (“Hymns,” 1) — Elder Parley P. Pratt’s “the quintessential hymn of the Restoration” — and asked that they, as individuals and companionships, later read the five verses and sing them. “My purpose in doing this is to help you understand that you are part of ‘the dawning of a brighter day,’” he said. “‘Zion’s light is [truly] bursting forth to bring her ransomed children home.’ Please understand the urgency of the work of salvation.”

Post-devotional ministering visits

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From left to right, President Benson L. Porter, president of the Provo Missionary Training Center; his wife, Sister Kerry L. Porter; Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Sister Mary Cook make their way around the Provo Missionary Training Center visiting sick and isolated missionaries in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

With the fall flu season beginning and the lingering residue of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Provo MTC has seen an uptick in illnesses and resumed an emphasis on no handshaking and no touching among the missionaries and others on-campus. That precluded any in-person greetings that the Cooks could have done after the devotional.

However, Elder and Sister Cook were still able to minister to some of “the ones” as they joined Provo MTC President Benson L. Porter and his companion, Sister Kerry L. Porter, in visiting a handful of missionaries who were in isolation in their residence buildings because of various illnesses.

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President Benson L. Porter, president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, opens the door to sick and isolated missionaries while Sister Kerry L. Porter, Sister Mary Cook, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make their rounds around the MTC greeting ill missionaries in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Stopping outside several residence buildings to waving through the windows or sometimes able to chat from a distance through an open door, the Cooks and Porters offered their well-wishes to the elders and sisters who were unable to participate in the devotional and the day’s activities.

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