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!
Things are FANTASTIC here! Utterly exhausting yes, but that's our new goal actually. Me and Elder Bishop want to get to the point every day where at the end of our day it's all we can do to plan and fall onto our beds. We want to weary ourselves in the service of the zone and the Lord.
Skinny you say? Most definitely. That's my new European suit! See how much better they are? Maybe not, you'll have to tell me but I think they look a lot better :) and my hair? Yup, new hair style. Elder D helped me make it. Promise I'll take new European me pictures soon. I just need to get European shirts and shoes now, but that'll come later. My plan is just to come back looking completely different :) you'll see.
I do worry though, materialism is SO big here in the Netherlands! It's the past time and hobby of most people- shopping. It shows too, but still it gives you weird ideas and priorities. I'm praying for the Lord to keep me humble because you take on the traits of those things you spend time around. I've even seen it happen to a few missionaries, it's kind of scary. Not that you become bad at all, you just become different. It's weird.
Zone Conference went fantastic, considering it was our first one. Like I mentioned in the last e-mail the theme was "Do WhatYou Do With Jesus Christ" so we talked about how to 'do', who they were and what the Lord's will for this mission is. Everyone loved the test and at the end we asked them all to come us with titles that define not only who they are as a missionary but who they are and will be as a person. We're going to make them all buttons so that they can remember that forever. We hope it not only changes their missions but their lives. We want them to look back and say "That's where it happened" or "That's where it started". Either way it's going to be a powerful next half of the transfer.
Yeah, we'll be on splits every day this week :). We don't have to go on so many, but we feel it's super important. People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Humans struggle to be teachable and the only way they learn and grow is if they experience it themselves. Thus the only way to teach and help others is through love and your example. Literally the ONLY way (excluding rare moments/people where they are open to verbal critic).So we go on exchanges, we make calls, we be silly, we let the zone know we love them and try to point them to the only real example for us all- Jesus Christ. Through his example we can learn SO much, if only we'd listen...
The zone however is doing great, beyond what my wildest hopes could have imagined :) they are really doing fantastic and we are seeing the Lord's hand stretch forth to us all, especially since Saturday.
If you all remember correctly Elder L. Tom Perry spoke in the 'Hastening the Work' Broadcast about finding. He stated that in his days missionaries knocked doors and contacted on the street to find people. He then told us that times have changed and that many people are too involved in the busyness of their lives to listen. Our President added that they are so bombarded with information telling them to buy this or do that that they have become experts at declining, and rejecting information.
Elder Perry goes on to say that the nature of the world has changed and the nature of missionary work must also change. As of Saturday the Netherlands is finally finding the way in which they are going to respond to this call. Starting in the Den Haag Stake websites are being planned, members are being pushed to make Mormon.org profiles in Dutch, things are in the works to make this message available once again to this country. According to President the people of the Netherlands and Belgium, per capita, are ranked among the highest social media users in the world! Imagine what an impact this is going to have!
At the beginning of this transfer me and Elder Bishop agreed, we could feel something big was coming. This is it. This is going to change the face of missionary work across this country forever. And the Lord has entrusted us to be Zone Leaders over the Zone of Amsterdam at this crucial beginning phase. I am humbled, honored and terrified. Yet I know the Lord is with us, I know he will help us. His work will be done and there's nothing we can do about it. Let all the forces of Hell combine against this work and they will fall! Praise be to our God and the glory of His eternal work! And how blessed are we to be alive at this time, the hastening of the gospel.
More information about me: The zone we are in spans like this: Draw a line from Amsterdam to Leiden then everything to the north-west of that is the zone. So we go everywhere. We try to use Corsa as little as possible but we still went a little over our miles. Luckily we have trains, otherwise it would be literally impossible to stay under!
The apartment is fixed and we live in Alkmaar now instead of Hoorn. We're really close with the Hoorn elders, Elders Pouwer and Strikwerda. So on Wednesdays we sleep over because driving home from seminary would make us late. Usually on exchanges you work your tail off contacting (sometimes teaching) and talk to each other a lot. We sleep well. Good beds, deep sleep, now it's just trying to get to bed on time. There's Always something as a Zone Leader.
I love you all!!! I have a testimony of this work more than I ever have before. Yesterday for the first time I heard the question, "What is the most important thing in the world for you right now at this moment?" For the first time I could answer, "Spreading the gospel and letting everyone know about it". Something I've been praying for for a long time. Took a year, but the Lord got me there.
Keep going strong, keep working hard and keep laughing :). You know you're doing something right when you can laugh about someone snapping an achilles tendon! :D. Really I hope he's ok though. I'll read the e-mail with details after this though so no worries. You are all seriously the best! You make it possible for me to be out here. I'm happy for all the good I hear and am sorry for all the pain as well. Both will work together for our good in the end, you'll see. Just sometimes stinks right now. Never give up :)
Elder Joco Cooper
Cultural Note: European sizes are a little bit different here and A LOT easier. They have different numbers that correspond to different sizes. For instance a 56 could be the waist size of a 98 but shorter and so on. Thus it's really easy to find your size. and once you do you can get anything! Cause it's all the same. Then you can go buy a dirt cheap European suit and feel good while having enough left over to buy your dream trench coat ;)