Elder Jonathon Cameron Cooper was called to serve a 2 year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is serving in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission speaking Dutch.
This blog was set up after a year of him already in the field. Current letters will be posted, and some past experiences shared in the tabs below along with current ones.
Elder Cooper wants to share his experiences, and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his love for the people he is serving!
Hey family :) (loved the title of your e-mail "The Brief of it" haha that's how you say letter in Dutch :))
Life is SO good right now I can hardly explain it...but I'll do my best! First, cause I HAVE to start with this, anyone remember K? If not go back and read last weeks letter, but yesterday we had the most spiritual and special experiences of my mission with that family. We were invited over to eat Gourmet with them (which was super good) and I had been praying that she would be there as well. Lo and behold she was :) so I was immediately excited. Better yet I got to sit next to her which was perfect! See she likes to do what I've started calling "act mom" and especially out here I like to emphasize my clueless bumbling nature (it's something I developed out here ;) ) so put the two together and it adds for a super funny night.
I'd be cooking my food on my tiny pan and she's just sigh and fix whatever I was doing wrong. She saved my bread like 3 times though so I was grateful for that :) nearly burned! Then her and her mom were just dying of laughter the whole night. I like to pretend they were laughing with me not at me...but either way I was laughing at myself :) I'm just kind of crazy sometimes. They feel sorry for you mom :) especially with 4 boys but they said at least they're not all as crazy as me, makes it better.
We had a really good evening with them and we grew A LOT closer to this family (now one of my favorites out here on the mission). The time for the spiritual message rolls around. 1 Corinthians 2: 12-14. Talks about how we can only receive spiritually knowledge spiritually. There is nothing logistical about a testimony after all. So we had the parents bare their testimonies on how they gained their testimonies. It was really spiritual and I know it affected K. When we read the Bible scripture she read it silently a few more times and during the testimonies was deep in thought. I felt prompted to add my testimonies to theirs and tesitfied of Heavenly Father that He is there, that Christ lives, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I've never felt the Spirit come out of me with such power, it was nearly tangible! K suddenly stands up and I think "Oh no, she's headed off to her party" but she goes over to her little 13 year old brother who has started tear up.
These two fight ALL THE TIME! It's really funny but most times really intense. So to see her go over to her brother hug him from behind and kiss him on the cheek melted my heart and I cried with them. She asked him what was wrong and all he could say was "Ik heb het warm" translated "I feel warm". The mom then started baring more testimony on the Spirit and the eternal nature of families. She explained how much it broke her heart that her daughter was no longer in the church but how she knew that deep down Kelli knew it was true and that one day maybe she'd come back. That poor mother just prays her heart out that her daughter will be protected by Heavenly Father while she's away.
At this point most of the family is in tears and we finish with a challenge never to forget what happened that night, never forget the spirit that was there because no one could deny it's presence then. I'm praying SO hard for that family and Fasting that K will be able to feel God's love and will be able to recognize it. What she does from there is up to her but I pray she comes back, they need her.
Our family of all boys!
Do you all realize what a blessing eternal families are? My word I've never been so grateful in my entire life! To know that I get to live with all of you forever and that we are all there for each other means the WORLD to me! It's the most precious gift from our Father in Heaven that I think anyone could ever have. Even more the fact that we all get along and have such a good relationship, it's all thanks to Jesus Christ. If for nothing else I am forever in his debt for that and for blessing me with a family who was born into the covenant and has been nurtured by the good word of God.
The whole week's been like that, even though that was the spiritual climax, just one long spiritual high. We've been very blessed. One day I'll have to read you the entries for this week cause there is simply too much to put into one letter. Just know that the Lord is real and is sustaining me as I work.
I'm adjusting a little bit, but I'm still tired. Just not AS tired as I used to be. I think the hardest part of being a Zone Leader is feeling responsible. You feel like if the Zone is failing then it's your fault, that if your area isn't up to parr then your a bad example, but you HAVE to cast all those feelings away; not only will they destroy you but they're false. We may be caring for this part of the Vineyard but we're not the Gardener. This is His work, we're just trying to help. Everything works out exactly how it was supposed to, exactly how it was meant to. It's just left to us to do the best with what is given to us. Work your hardest and then accept that Heavenly Father has everything under control.
It also stinks not doing normal missionary work as much. Me and Elder Bishop tried a little bit but it made us fall behind, forget things and get disorganized. This next transfer we'll be focusing more on magnifying our callings. Do as much as we can outside doing missionary work but accepting that we're Zone Leaders now and that different things are required and expected. It's been kind of hard to swallow.
We rest hard core on P-days normally but we get a lot of opportunities to do fun things like play volleyball with the ward and such. Life here is just good :). We're getting a young family moving in to the ward, the zone is doing well and my testimony is burning brighter than ever. Heavenly Father is helping me to once again lean completely on Him and I'm addicted. There is absolutely no other way to go through life, trust me.
Hope everything goes good at home! Everyone looks good (except dad's surgery pictures haha) and I'm obsessed with the progress everyone is making :) change is so great when you look at it huh?
I love you all! Sorry this letter is kind of short, but I hope it was powerful in some kind of way cause it certainly was a blessing to me to experience. It's something I will never ever forget, and please don't let me ever forget it!
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! I know I'm a few days late but I hope it was as good as it sounded and can't wait to be there for the next one :D! LOVE YOU! Thanks for being the best mom ever and helping me to be normal and ready for life. Thank you for your love, patience and kindness that has shaped me into who I am and how I respond to things. I'm eternally indebted to you for those so thanks! And thanks for our talks as well :) they're pretty great.
Culture Note: Um...couldn't think of one this week :/ well maybe this short one- Most typical Dutch meal ever. Make some mashed potatoes. Check. Just throw a bunch of spices, meats, vegetables, whatever you want in it and call it Stampot and voila! The meal I eat more than any other out here :). There's another one where you just but carrots, onions, and wurst on it and then add salt separately and call it Hutspot. Now that's Dutch ;)