Missionaries hear promises, strong testimony from Elder Cook across Pacific Area

Elder Quentin L. Cook teaches hundreds of missionaries from 4 missions during recent 10-day ministry of Pacific Area

MAJURO, Marshall Islands — Over the course of his 10-day ministry in the Pacific Area, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited with missionaries in Sydney, Australia; Suva, Fiji; Tarawa, Kiribati; and Majuro, Marshall Islands. He was accompanied at each mission meeting by his wife, Sister Mary Cook.

Missionaries bless the people of Sydney

On Monday, May 20, at the first of four mission meetings he would preside over on his ministry visit, Elder Cook spoke to missionaries in the Australia Sydney Mission. He was joined by Sister Cook, Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, a General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Pacific Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Anita Wakolo. The Australia Sydney Mission leaders, President Gabriel W. Reid and Sister Heather L. Reid, attended with their missionaries. The Reids will conclude their mission this summer. On Aug. 1, President Reid will begin serving as the second counselor in the Church’s Sunday School general presidency.

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“The Savior established His Church by the hands of those who serve,” Elder Cook told the missionaries.

He invited the missionaries to never miss an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel with those who they meet along the path of their missions.

“Sometimes we avoid sharing the gospel in the name of ‘being nice.’ Is it ‘nice’ to hold back potential blessings from others of God’s children?” Elder Cook asked.

The missionaries were quickly given the opportunity to put what they learned into action. Following their meeting, the missionaries went to the Sydney Opera Hall to take a mission photo that closely resembled a photo taken a few decades ago that hangs in the New Zealand MTC.

Many of the missionaries had a copy of the Book of Mormon in their hands and talked to people who were also visiting the national landmark. Dozens of people had questions about what the missionaries were doing. They responded by testifying of the Savior, explaining a little about the Book of Mormon and inviting those with questions to attend church on Sunday.

Appreciate the call to serve in Fiji or elsewhere

On Wednesday, May 22, missionaries serving in the Fiji Suva Mission learned from Elder Cook about the nature of mission calls. He and Sister Cook were joined by Elder and Sister Wakolo, and Elder Paul B. Whippy, an Area Seventy. President Mac La’ulu, president of the Fiji Suva Mission, and his wife, Sister Helen La’ulu, also addressed the missionaries.

Elder Cook told the missionaries he wanted them to know how strongly members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles feel about the mission calls they extend to young missionaries like them.

President Russell M. Nelson has the keys from Moses to call you as a missionary,” he said. “And he delegates your assignments to the Twelve.”

He described the information they review from mission applications and the prayers they offer seeking the Lord’s guidance as they assign missionaries to specific missions.

“Oftentimes we feel we’re assigning you to a mission president and his wife as much, if not more, than the geographic location.”

Elder Cook invited the missionaries to consider what they have learned or could learn from their mission leaders.

“They have some qualities — some characteristics — you need for some reason,” Elder Cook said, adding that these reasons can be relevant to their mission service and their future relationships and family.

He also told them that many of the blessings of mission service require their dedicated and persistent work to be realized. He invited them to follow the counsel from Doctrine and Covenants 31:4 in declaring what has been revealed in this dispensation. In order to do that, he said, they need to study what has been revealed using “Preach My Gospel” as a guide to understanding important gospel principles and doctrine.

Learning at Moroni High School in Kiribati

On Thursday, May 23, Elder and Sister Cook were joined by Elder Peter F. Meurs, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Pacific Area, and his wife, Sister Maxine Meurs. Elder Iotua Tune, Area Seventy, and his wife, Sister Maii Toanimatang, and Marshall Islands/Kiribati Mission President John Kendall, and his wife, Sister Megan Kendall, also attended.

Elder Cook mentioned to the missionaries of the Marshall Islands/Kiribati Mission who were serving on Kiribati that he and President Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were companions on a different kind of island when they served their first full-time mission in the British Isles. He said they received letters from their future wives, the late Sister Patricia Holland and Sister Cook. Elder Cook told the missionaries that he and President Holland both had their faith in the Savior strengthened by those letters. He invited the missionaries to consider the ways their communications with others uplift or detract from their purpose as missionaries and emissaries of the Lord.

“Mary’s and Pat’s letters encouraged us to be better missionaries,” he said.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, greet missionaries in Majuro, Marshall Islands, Saturday, May 25, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

During a mission, missionaries are not only teaching and inviting others to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they are also becoming converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ themselves, Elder Cook said.

He shared how the late President Gordon B. Hinckley had a vision for what would later become “Preach My Gospel.” When President Hinckley shared what he was feeling about this new way of missionary teaching, he told Elder Cook, serving at the time as executive director of the Missionary Department, that he wanted the missionaries to “learn the doctrine so they can go home knowing the doctrine of the gospel.” Elder Cook said President Hinckley wanted missionaries to teach and be taught, not memorize words or lessons.

“But don’t substitute the Book of Mormon with ‘Preach My Gospel,’” he said to the missionaries in Kiribati. “Let ‘Preach My Gospel’ guide you through the Book of Mormon.”

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Following the devotional, the missionaries shared what they had felt as they listened to Elder Cook’s message.

Sister ‘Ilaisaane Manisela of Talasiu, Tonga, said she felt a warmth when Elder Cook taught and testified, and she said she wants to convey that same feeling to those she teaches.

“We need to be warm, and we need to have more faith and invite people to read the Book of Mormon,” she said.

Companions Elder Jacob Ackerman and Elder Simon Kisby of Monument, Colorado, and Bountiful, Utah, respectively, said they were impressed by Elder Cook’s testimony of the Savior and the Book of Mormon.

“That was a moment I’ll never forget, for sure,” Elder Ackerman said.

He said he hopes to strengthen his own testimony of the Savior by continuing to study the scriptures and to pray every day.

Elder Kisby was grateful for the blessings Elder Cook promised the missionaries.

“He promised a mission will bless you and bless your family. It will bless everyone you come in contact with,” he said.

This promise stood out to Elder Kisby because he said his dad used to teach his family the same thing, so it brought back memories of his dad preparing him to serve a mission as a young man.

Delay fails to dampen missionary spirits in Majuro

When the flight to Majuro was delayed, it might have been easy to cancel his scheduled meeting with the missionaries there. But Elder Cook kept a prayer in his heart that matters would be resolved in a way that was pleasing to the Lord and beneficial to the missionaries.

Once in Majuro, Elder Cook did not want to delay speaking with the missionaries to catch his breath at the end of the long and challenge-filled day. He would address the missionaries and deliver the Lord’s full message to them.

“I love Majuro,” Elder Cook said as he began to speak with the missionaries on Saturday, May 25.

He had visited the island five years in a row when he served in area presidencies for both the Philippines Area and the Pacific Islands Area from 1996 to 2001.

Elder Cook told the missionaries that members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pray for missionaries every Thursday when they meet in the temple. This is in addition to the prayers of many Latter-day Saints around the world who pray for the missionaries each day.

“Nobody is prayed for more often than the missionaries,” Elder Cook said.

He expressed gratitude for the missionaries’ service and told them they would be blessed throughout their lives for serving.

“A mission is foundational for your life,” he said.

During their missions, Elder Cook told them, they are “emissaries of the Savior” and asked them that while they serve in that capacity to “invite everyone to church.”

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