Monday, December 8, 2014

THE END AND THE BEGINNING (A 'DYING' MAN'S TESTIMONY)


My heart HURTS!!!! The pain isn't just in the heart area
though, it's like this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach; churning whenever I think of the reality of leaving this place. Is this what a broken heart feels like? Probably...
I can't even describe the emotions going through my head right now. This whole week I've just kind of been denying in my head that going home is messing with my brain, but I see it in my actions. Nothing too drastic, but there is a difference. Don't remember how...just remember thinking that haha. I hope Elder Hunter is ok. He's a champ though and will be getting a great companion here in Hoorn so he'll be okay :) 
Like I said last week though, all I want is to be home again. See you guys, watch a movie, hang out, but I wanna do that here too! Obviously not all those things but I want SO badly to be here for them. Seriously if Skype and What's App didn't exist I would be a wreck right now. The thought that they're going to be so far away hurts a lot. I feel like everything has come full circle now.

For the past little while I've been watching my mission reverse itself. I feel like my mission has been a chiasmus, with my
first stay in Alkmaar as the center point. Everything else has progressed similarly to the chiasmus structure. For example:
The night I left my family to go on a mission was the third time in my life that I have ever cried. I knew I had to leave, I knew there were others waiting for me there, that the Lord expected me to go and serve his children but I was going to miss my family. I didn't want to leave, it hurt every part of my body and it kept hurting well into my second transfer. And now the time has come again. Those feelings I expressed above are all very familiar to me thanks to the beginning of my mission. But this time there is a difference.
"A perfect ending with my family and Elders I love."
Me. I am a completely changed person. I no longer simply believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I have confidence. I don't just merely know anymore that Christ is our Savior and
Redeemer, but I've experienced it, I've used His atonement (both enabling and cleansing parts of it), I now feel like I know my Savior in a way that I never did before. There is no more hopelessness or unsurety when I leave loved ones behind, for I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and cares for each one of His children. 
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."
"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
"Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."  (Matthew 10: 29-31)

I know He'll be taking care of my family now, no matter where I am. I trust in Him now. He knows how much family (whether Dutch, English or Maori) means to me and I trust He will prepare a way for me to be with them one day. For me there is no longer "goodbye", only "see you soons". Boy am I EVER grateful for that! I couldn't bear it any other way.

I wish people could just see the beauty of this gospel. It's the
whole reason I've committed my life to it. Every single thing I have, I want to give to Him. Every single choice I make, I want to choose Him. He has given me everything, how can I not give everything in return? But as I was saying, the beauty of the gospel. There is so much surety there, so much peace, so much healing. In the world without the gospel you can only find pain and momentary glimpses of happiness quickly snuffed out by the sting of death or the next crisis. If they only knew...if they only understood. Death has no sting, and the grave hath no victory. Sadness and heartache can be but a small moment. True, never-ending, happiness is reachable here. It is reachable now.

Whether you believe or not that gift is given to you, but it's up
to you to reach out and grab it because I can promise you that it will not merely be placed in your hands. The Lord requires work from us, always has and always will. Nothing we can do to change that, just like nothing can change the happiness that comes from exercising our agency and acting.

"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."  (Alma 32:37)

Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, again, member or not, please, just try. I promise there is happiness ahead. There is happiness here in the gospel of Jesus Christ that never needs to go away again. If you will sincerely try and do everything in your power to come to Christ and follow Him, you will find happiness. I know because I have found this happiness. I know because I've had to walk through the dark. I know because I've been through the hard times, still have them and will go through them for the rest of my life. I know because the Lord has blessed me with times where I've been sad, or hurt, or angry. That's how I know that this is happiness. "Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation" (Brigham Young).

This is the church of Jesus Christ. It truly was restored by the prophet Joseph Smith. He did in reality see God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The Priesthood is restored to the earth and with it the power to act in God's name for the salvation of His children.  Families can be together forever. Jesus is the Christ and God is our loving Heavenly Father who wants to see us again more than anything and He has called President Thomas S. Monson as a prophet and president of this church, to lead and guide it as Christ instructs him to. And if you remember nothing else about me, please remember that I knew these things and that I've worked every day to make them a part of who I am.

Man...I'm gonna miss this place. Already I can feel the sad things creeping back to me. That second hug I was too
scared to give. That photo I forgot to take with someone I love. That cursed body of water called the Atlantic Ocean. Sigh... I may be hopeful for the future and full of confidence that everything will work out how it is supposed to, but it sure doesn't make this any less painful.

On the other hand I love you all SOOOO much and am SO excited to see you! Know that I'm working my tail off this last week and that I think and pray for you (a nice healthy amount...well...not so much that it cripples me haha). You guys are the lights of my life and I couldn't be who I am if you weren't who you are. So thank you for that.
LOVE YOU!!! See you in 3 days!

(For the last time) Elder Cooper

Culture Note: Dutch Goodbye Habits
It's a really funny phenomenon actually. When you say goodbye (especially with people you're close with) the Dutch have the tendency not only to walk you to the door, but to wait there until you are in your car and out of sight. Usually it's really cool and I love it, but there have been a few really awkward moments where there are really long streets where you've parked down the road aways and you walk to your car and have to put stuff in the back and get all buckled up and meanwhile the poor members just stand and watch you or where something awkward/funny happens on the way to the car and you have to play it off. :) I'm gonna miss little things like that.
Family Forever

Very Loved!



Monday, December 1, 2014

A MESSAGE OF TRUE AND EVERLASTING LOVE


Hey everyone!
I AM SO TIRED!!! I can't even explain it. All I want to do is lay down and just die for a few hours haha :D! I guess that's good though right? This week has been really really intense spiritually speaking.

So we had a Zone Conference this week with Elder Moreira
Thankful that Elder Hunter takes pictures :) 
on Wednesday and we were scheduled to do the intermediate hymn. Well we had been practicing it for two weeks, once or twice a week, and we took Tuesday to work out all the kinks and make it amazing. Definitely paid off, and I had a really cool experience with it. We were almost finished practicing on Tuesday when we decided to take a second (thanks for Elder Hunter), and study the first two sections of Joseph Smith History, pray for a reconfirmation and then come back and sing it again.

It was a really cool and special experience. I Prayed to open and then I studied. I read the words and I felt the spirit, but there wasn't any really big experience. At this time I was dealing with some really crazy emotions. I was especially thinking about recent converts, church drama, and those who I love more than life itself and just thinking, "Gosh is it worth it all? So much pain, frustration, sorrow, all for what?". Sometimes you just get tired of it I guess, and I think that's normal, but you have to work through it. 

Anyway that's what I had in my head as I read it. And after the first time, nothing to crazy, just what felt like normal feelings with the spirit added. Then the idea came (aka the spirit whispered) to read the last few verses again. I did so and felt all the tenseness and sorrow and annoyance wash away when I felt the words, "That's why you do it".

That's what it's all about. That's why we serve in the church, that's why we sacrifice, that's why we struggle and fight every step of the way, because this is real! This isn't some fun little game or pass-time to be indulged in when you feel good or feel like you need it. This church means everything and what we do/how we act within it will determine SO much more than anything else this world has to offer because it is the true church of Jesus Christ restored again on the earth! And everything in our lives should revolve around the gospel that it preaches; for it truly is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the only way we can be saved in the kingdom of God. The only way we get to be with those that we love forever, never again to be separated.

That's what I felt at that time and my greatest desire was that
It was good to see Heidi who is now
serving a mini-mission. :) So proud of her.
through this song somebody else in the audience would have a similar experience and be even more converted to the gospel. Well we got there on Wednesday and I was really nervous. Our time came and we just sung. We sung and angels sung with us. You could just feel it. The spirit was powerful. The song ended and the room was silent. The next speaker got up with tears beginning to appear on his face. He shared his testimony with us and what did he say in it? He thanked us, then shared that the song had really pierced his heart and testified that that song represented what it was all about and testified of the importance of the restoration and of this work. It was amazing. And on that spiritual high, Elder Moreira got up and spoke to us!  

The song: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEZS8PfPSBs#t=56

That man's great, if any of you were wondering. The things he taught us changed my life forever! He changed the way I am ever going to approach anything ever and how I'm going to face ever single day and night for the rest of my life. Maybe I'll touch on that later, we'll see.

Anyway, after the conference we are talking to him and he asks us to come to the conference the following day and perform it again. So we did and stayed for the whole conference. What was really cool was this gave me and Elder Bishop the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone on the mission. Usually you just disappear with only your zone knowing but thanks to the tender mercies of the Lord we were able to say goodbye to everyone we love.


Now we arrive at the end of the week and work as hard as we can to get some work done. We did but in different ways. We delivered some letters, supported our loved ones and played some volleyball! :) Geez I love that sport!

And then there's the other half of the spectrum. My heart is getting torn in two and it hurts! :( All I want is to stay here, but I want to go home just as badly! Why can't we all just live in the same place? I don't want my heart to be split in two...but I guess it has to happen. Can we just make sure I get back here as fast as possible? I can't stand the thought of not being here. It's like you said in the blog: "I will tell you that he loves the people he is serving and they are now part of our family. I am grateful for all those who have become a part of his heart. Once you are there, you stay there forever. That's how he rolls!" That truly is how I feel, and I hope that they all know it.

I can already say I'll be crying for the 6th time in my life this weekend, I don't know, maybe the Lord will give me the strength to be strong and hold them in haha. Hm...just had a thought. Maybe the time is coming that they no longer need an Elder Cooper, but Jonathon Cooper.  My time as a missionary is ending, but I will always be here as their brother/son/friend.  I already know that no matter what I am called, I am always going to need them in my life.  I couldn't live without them, or this place, just as much as I can't live without you guys. That's what eternal families are.

LOVE YOU ALL!!! More than you'll ever know.
Elder Joco Cooper

Culture Note: Winking is a LOT more common in Europe than it is in America. I still feel really self-conscious doing it but here you get winked at all the time. It has less of a flirty connotation here. I once heard it described as "When someone winks at you, it's like they're sharing a secret with you." and he went on to describe how effective it was when you contact old people homes. Haha :) never tried it, but I'm going to this week!
Examples of when they wink:
Person 1 just told a joke, everyone is laughing, Person 2 looks at Person 1 and Person 1 winks.
Train Conductor coming by to check your tickets and winks before taking your card. After checking gives it back.
Sitting across from your companion you make eye contact and he winks at you while rubbing the seat next to him...oh wait...that's just me and Elder Hunter ;) haha! 

Grateful

Monday, November 24, 2014

CARBON-MONOXIDE PRIDE, DON'T LET IT GET YOU


 Well, I've been humbled again :) See I had a little bit of  "carbon-monoxide pride" this week. 

I don't know if you all remember that analogy I drew a little
while ago, but man I got hit with it hard. I've been SO prideful this transfer! Not that I've thought I'm better than other people, but I've been prideful in my insecurities. This desire to do good, be good, sometimes gets the best of me. One of the good parts of noticing and appreciating the good in others, is,... I notice and appreciate the good in others. :)  That is great until I let my pride settle in and then I decide to be extra hard on myself. 

I just wasn't feeling good about myself at all cause of that, which is dumb quite honestly, I was comparing myself after all, but hey, it's how I felt. What I finally had to do was humble myself. Thankfully the Lord helped me to do this. He showed me that I needed humbling, I know you all think I'm just hard on myself, but truly it is pride. Why did I feel bad because of certain things? Because I wasn't them. I didn't feel good enough, and I wanted to be better.

Those are such tricky lies. They come off as emotions that push you to want to be better but truly that is Satan. The ONLY person we should ever be allowed to compare ourselves to is ourselves. We have no right to compare ourselves to others, we've had completely different lives! The Lord needs different things from us. Of course I can't fight like Batman, I didn't devote 7 full years of my life to learning how to fight crime! (Just go with it :) Unfortunately though, it's the easiest thing to do and I had to really work hard this week to keep it all in check.

Companions 
I even brought it up with Elder Hunter yesterday, which l am SO glad I did. We had a really good talk and we'll be setting some goals on how we can start working for Heavenly Father instead of working just for me, or for him. We want to become "us" and not "I" if that makes sense. Gosh I'm grateful for this companionship :). He's SO willing to work on these things and make changes and adjustments where necessary, and so am I. 

Yes I'll be singing on Wednesday at the Zone Conference with Elder Hunter and Elder Silva (Elder Bishop's companion) and it's going to be AMAZING! Elder Hunter is really working us hard to make sure it is good so I'm looking forward to it.

Now before you think it was only a difficult week, think again! So much good happened this week, we actually had an AMAZING week, I just struggled internally for a snap. For example, we hosted a fireside this week. The ward took care of the food and we took care of the fireside. We used a talk from Elder Whetton in April 2005 and took sections of it out. In between these sections we showed Mormon Messages, sang, and had people bear testimony, kind of like a Primary Program. It was super powerful and we all felt the spirit really strong. It was also cool because there were several non-members there who also really enjoyed it.

And then there was the Turkey Bowl which was SO fun! I love
Elder Cooper and President Robinson
that I've learned to love sports out here on the mission. When you're not competing with professionals it's a blast! I can't wait to keep up that habit back home! President Robinson even came and played with us :D that man plays hard! He seriously is the best. I'm gonna miss seeing him around pretty soon. 


So many other miracles happened this week, but I don't have enough time or ability in e-mailing to give you enough background to have you truly appreciate how awesome these miracles were. So I'll just have to tell you all in person one day or let you read this week in my journal.

Love you all! Thank you for your support and your never ending love! I owe you everything for that! Hope everything continues to go well! Till next week!

Love, Elder Cooper

Culture Note:
On November 11th is a holiday known as Sint-Maartens. I don't know where it comes from or what the meaning is behind it but it's the closest thing they have to a Halloween. No one dresses up but kids go from door to door with these paper lanterns and they have to sing a song at the door. If they do that they get candy and they put it in their bag. I'll have to do some more research on that, but that's about all I know about it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE PURPOSES OF LIFE


Hey everyone!

Lots of thoughts going through my head this week but I only got room to share a few of them.

Elder Hunter and I were talking the other day and he was expressing his beliefs when it comes to talents. I gotta say I
COMPANIONS (thanks for the picture Elder Hunter)
LOVE it! So much so that I wanted to share it. The idea is as follows- every one of us is given talents. Many of these are gifts of the spirit and our given to us by God. This we know. There is not a single child of God anywhere on this planet that doesn't have a least one talent, so if you think that, stop lying to yourself and ask someone (Heavenly Father is also a safe bet) and be grateful for the new talent you'll discover in yourself.

Some may not seem like talents at all. We often think of things like the ability to sing or play football or the gift of healings or visions, but all too often (at least for myself) it's harder to recognize the other ones. The ability to love, the gift of listening, the ability to be alone, the gift of being passionate about something, the ability to use Facebook, the gift of being a calming influence, things of that nature. All of these are vital in our Heavenly Father's plan.

According to this idea (I'm hoping one day to find doctrine to back this up...) every single one of these gifts or talents has been given to us for the purpose of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth. Just think of that. No wonder Christ gives the parable of the talents and invites us all to increase them, in other words- develop our talents and abilities; for that is what will ultimately help us share the gospel.

Now it makes it SO much simpler to be a missionary! If we will but develop our talents and then do our best to consecrate them to sharing the gospel in our own way, and share them as often as we can then we can touch SO many lives and help SO many people come unto Christ.

Elder Hunter is just fantastic. I have been blessed in my mission, to be put with some companions that are incredible in their knowledge of the gospel and their dedication to Heavenly Father. Seriously. I learn SO much from them definitely. I only hope I can help them grow as much as they help me. 

My plan now is really trying to continue to own who I am.
Helping the with a Young Women lesson.
Thanks for the picture Carmen :)
Heavenly Father has tried SO many times to drill that into my head, I just can't seem to get it to stick. Or maybe it did stick but now I'm just having to be ok with who I am at the level that I am at. Either way, it's good for me and I'll come out stronger in the end for it :).

See now THAT'S something weird about this end phase- the digression. You spend these two years and receive help from on high to overcome your weaknesses, to develop needed abilities and to make you as solid a missionary as possible. Then the digression phase. Everything that was put on pause for these two years is beginning to come back to me. 

Yeah, just a fun fact. It's like a former missionary here said about coming home: "A mission shows us our potential, everything we can become. And then we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back to that point." Don't know if that's true, but either way it's something worth fighting for.

Two last things before I finish. The first is an appointment that we had with Family Tee. We went over there to share a spiritual message on the Restoration. We had been previously invited to share the message of the Restoration with everyone we taught this transfer and had felt really prompted to share it with them that night. So we set up a last minute appointment and headed over there after our dinner with the Branch President and his son. Little did we know that after we left they went there too! They went by car though so they beat us there.

While the Pres. 't Hoen and Br. Tee worked on his scooter we taught Zr. Tee and her son Le the first lesson. The branch president's son J sat in on the lesson and while Zr. Tee went to grab her son from upstairs I felt prompted to ask J to share his testimony in the lesson and he agrees.

We share the message of the Restoration and finish telling about the First Vision. We turn to J and ask him to bear his testimony and he does. The spirit was SO strong! J is only 12 years old but the spirit testified through him that night in a
powerful way. What was even better was earlier that day Zr. Tee had been talking with her son about that very subject and they were discussing how to gain a testimony because he wants one for himself (he's somewhere around 9 or 10 I think...). J then looks at him and shares the story of how he gained a testimony of the gospel and extended a hand of fellowship to help Le gain a testimony of his own.


It was a powerful night :) and I was SO proud of J. Seriously such a good kid. And I think it was good for him too. You can never feel the power of the Restoration too much in your life. It's not possible. We should be striving every day for small or big confirmations of that event and if we do we will Always remain steadfast.

Also, this week, I was able to spent time with some of my favorite missionaries. It truly has been a blessed week! 


Last thing- never under appreciate how important and special this life is. It truly is a gift. I don't exactly know what it means to be 'perfect', in reference to how Heavenly Father is, but I do know one thing. The thing that will bind us together through eternity to our families and our spouses will be the time we spend on earth. If it so be that everyone looks the same and acts the same in heaven it won't even matter because the people you love will be special because that's who you spent your life with, that's who you experienced earth with. So live every moment! Stay as close to those you love as possible and never let them go because now is a precious time and will make all the difference in the end.
 
LOVE YOU ALL!!! Thanks for loving me back by the way haha :). You're the best!

Elder Cooper 

Culture Note: The Sint arrived in the Netherlands! After sailing in his boat from Spain, Sinter Klaas is here again and guess where he visited? Hoorn! There me and Elder Hunter are, riding home when a parade of Zwarte Piets came walking through the crowd followed by the Sint on his white horse. The marched all around the centrum, even right by our
apartment, and put on a show in the middle. All the kids were dressed up as little Piets and went to see the concert. But it wasn't just little kids, there were a lot of adults there too. The show seemed great. Although we were not able to attend we were serenaded by the tunes of "Zwarte Pieten Style" (to the tune of Gangham Style :) ) as we ate.


The tradition here is that on the 15th of November Sinter Klaas arrives in Nederland and that night all the kids set their klompen out to receive candy from him. They actually have very religiously based holidays over here. Next week I'll have to tell you their Halloween equivalent: Sint-Maartens.

Monday, November 10, 2014

ADVICE AND COUNSEL


Dear the Family,
I'm doing fantastic right now, Sometime bipolar about the whole going home thing, but I'm good. :) 
So basically the only reason Hoorn got shut down was because we ran out of missionaries for a little bit there. There was a bigger group that went home and they didn't have enough to place any there, at least that's what I've heard. 

Thus far it's been going really well. We're finding people, teaching a lot, everything is on the up and up here. Alkmaar
Happy Birthday Elder Hunter
and Hoorn are both in the same branch, yes, and we definitely had like two parties for Elder Hunter so no worries. Not really good at taking care of that stuff, but I did it as best as I could :). Hope my wife is good at that...it's like Papa said yesterday. He was explaining how he's no good at remembering birthdays or special events, so he has Mama remember them and just tell him what to go get and what to do. What a team those two.
Ah man that just reminded me! We had SUCH a good Sunday yesterday! It was Unit Conference so the Stake Presidency came to Alkmaar with our High Councilor Representative. They rocked it. Seriously, every talk and
every lesson was just exploding with the spirit and thus with power. Maybe I was just obsessed because I'm a missionary, but the whole thing was about missionary work. The four themes that were taught on:
1. While missionaries will always have to do finding, they are set apart to teach others the gospel and the primary responsibility for finding rests on the members.
I figured this one out on my mission really quickly, but as a missionary it's not exactly something you can teach on you know? Can you just picture the missionary now? "Well, it's actually your responibility to find so...how's that going?" Euuhhh I shudder at the thought. So to have a member teach on that was amazing! It was like an awkward unspoken truth was finally put out there in the open and was so refreshing. I know this family, and they are just incredible people. 
2. We as members of the church (and of course as missionaries) should always have a missionary mindset.
It's like Joseph Smith said, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most importantduty is to preach the Gospel.” That's something I want to be more concious of back home. No matter where I go or what I'm doing I really need to make sure I'm looking for every opportunity to share the gospel in word and deed and never be afraid to share it with my closest friends.
3. The leaders of our church are all inspired and should be followed with the utmost diligence.
He compared it to Moses and the children of Israel, our leaders are meant to lead us out of the different types of
slavery we get wound up in; one of those being comfort. He explained that our leaders (especially the prophets) are there to lead us from our comfort zone and guide us through the uncomfortable but worthwhile journey to the Promised Land. (See Exodus14:12 and other examples in that book). We all know that in the end it was worth it for them so we should also try our very best to do what the children of Israel (and many of us) struggled to do- follow the inspiration of our leaders, especially when it is difficult.
4. To achieve great things we have to be willing to pay the price. How much are we willing to pay for what we want?
He talked about how we all need to be sure to set goals and keep our eyes focused on those goals, but not only that- we have to be willing to pay the price to reach those goals we have set. The more you're willing to pay, the faster the progress. But paying is painful, in other words no pain, no gain. He encouraged us all to set goals and be willing to pay whatever price was asked and no matter how painful or uncomfortable it was.
That was unit conference :) really powerful and I loved every second. Then there was this really cool moment for me after it was over. The Stake President found me afterwards and asked me to tell him a little bit about myself. So I did and we started talking (by the way, awesome example this man. He can make everyone feel like they're cared about while at the same time getting things done. Least he did for me). When he learned I was going home soon his face lit up and he said he had to tell me something: how to choose my wife.
Yeah...that was an intense moment hahahaha! But his advice was SO solid and I have a testimony of what he promised, that if I ask myself these three questions before choosing my wife and the answers all match up accordingly, your marriage will be a success and you will experience a lot more happiness in it.
Question One: Can you picture her raising your children?
That is to say- can you see the way she will raise them and is that what you want for your children? Is it what they'll need?
Question Two: Can she pick you up when you are down?
Basically, will she push you when you're out of energy, will she cheer you up when you're sad, will you share burdens together? Stuff like that.

Questions Three: Does she keep you standing on your toes?
Now that's a Dutch saying so I'll explain it a little more. Does she naturally push you in a way that makes you want to be better every time you are around her? And are you a better person when you are with her?
He told me these were the secret to the success of his marriage. He's been married 23 or so years and says he's loved every second of it.

I love the families here and I'm so grateful for their examples and love. 
ALWAYS GRATEFUL TO BE FED. (Thanks to the families who send and post pictures, we love you)
I LOVE YOU GUYS!!! Keep being awesome and never forget I love you and am praying for you!
Love,
Elder Batman Cooper
Culture Note:
Mail Time, Mail Time, MAAAIIIILLL TIIIIIIIIME! (If anyone can get that musical quote I'll be very impressed).
So here's how mail works here: Mailboxes doen't exist for the most part. Usually there is just a slot in your front door where the mail people can slip your letters in. That leaves the
question, well how do I send letters? Just stick it in the door? Nope. What you have to do is either A: find the closest post office to your house or B: Look for the Orange Box nearest you.
What that is is this decent sized contraption where everyone can stick their letters in. They are scattered all throughout the Netherlands and are most of the time very handy cause you can just keep the letter on you at all times and send it when you find one. It just stinks when you can't find one and have to ride all over the city looking for the color orange so that it will hopefully be one of those boxes. Hehe...it's kinda like a video game if you think about it...

Monday, November 3, 2014

HOME (A FORESHADOWING)


My new son's name is Elder Hunter, and yes he's from Scotland. You may remember him from Priesthood Session of general conference. He's the one who sang the solo. Yup.
Elder Cooper and Elder Hunter
Grateful for families who send pictures :) 
He's SO COOL! You know those times where it just clicks? That's us. We're SO similar! He's done a lot of singing and musicals in his life, he's worked a lot in church things like the Nauvoo Pageant and he's thinking of doing something in film later. We have our differences I'm sure, but we've done nothing but laugh, party and work hard since we've gotten to Hoorn. 

Being back. Ah, it's SO great! I feel like I never left. However, I feel like everything is more potent than before. These people just have so much of my heart that every little success feels like an overwhelming wave of joy and love that nearly makes you pass out and every loss feels like I swallowed a bunch of termites and they're devouring me from the inside out. Needless to say I'm on kind of a roller coaster adjustment right now, but I'll be just fine. :)
The fabulous four back in the day when Elder Bishop and
Elder Cooper were Zone Leaders in Alkmaar and Elder Pouwer
was in Hoorn. Now the two have switched places.

You're right the Zone Leaders
Leaders are in Alkmaar and you'll never guess who they are, Elder Bonney and Elder Pouwer! If you look back you'll see that me and Elder Pouwer have basically switched places! :D So that's been really cool. It's literally like I never left this place or that I just went on vacation for awhile and that I'm finally getting home. I feel like this situation is literally the best way Heavenly Father could have prepared me for going home. Obviously it will be different, but I imagine the emotions will be similar: lots of pain, but endless joy. Every situation seems to be getting me more and more prepared for the transition, so it's cool to see that working hard here is actually getting me ready for home there.

BACK TO BIKE!!
One thing I did not miss as a Zone Leader was Greenie 
Butt...that's been fun. For all who do not know, that term is what we use when you first start riding a bike every day. Let's just say it's not the most pleasant feeling in the world. haha, but I love being a missionary!

Elder Hunter is seriously a champ. He's SO prepared for a mission it's unreal. He knows what he needs to be doing but is open to learning and correction. If there's anything I've learned on a mission it's that that is the key to life. Without that attribute you better buckle down for a bumpy ride because it's gonna get tough. It's still tough if you have it but you'll be able to bend with the punches instead of breaking.

My favorite part about this whole situation is, I will be better at what I'm doing this time. I feel I will be a better trainer than before. Wanna know the secret? You stop being a trainer and just be his companion. The first time, I tried to teach with words, the second time I tried to teach through his actions, but this time I'm trying to teach by example. My whole thought process is to simply treat him as a normal missionary companion. Get out there, do the work and when he has questions you answer, because it's only when others ask that they are truly open for learning.

It's been going great. There's no trainer, trainee tension. We're just friends and we work super hard :).  This week we've had to take care of a lot of random things, which has cut into our work time but we're both REALLY looking forward to this week where we can just work, work, work!!

Yeah...especially in Hoorn nothing happened for Halloween.
Elder Cooper's little brother
They're just not that into it here. They are enough to the point where the costume shops that always existed start bringing in Halloween costumes and the stations and stores decorate accordingly, but as a missionary you're never in a place where anyone dresses up and no one goes trick-or-treating. Quite honestly I forgot it was Halloween...haha. Sam's costume looked sick though :). 
We went to the DBs which was great. It was so relaxing being with the family again and I loved it.  I truly love all the people here. This branch has a huge piece of my heart, and I want only good things for all of them. 

I have a huge desire to help families be together for eternity. I always have, and I know that is what brings true happiness.  I've prayed and fasted for that more than anything I've ever prayed and fasted for...but maybe that's the issue. Maybe I should stop praying for people to change their minds and I should start praying and Fasting for inspiration on what should be doing to help them; on how I can exercise my agency. Ha! Inspiration. I'll try that and see how it goes.

Glad to hear everyone is still doing ok. Send them all my love ok? I'm stoked to see you all again, but right now I got a little bit more work to do here and I'm excited about it. ;) 
LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Elder Cooper