Monday, March 31, 2014


You know, you always know this day will come, but you never think it will arrive you know? I still feel in denial a little bit haha like it's not going to happen on Wednesday. But transfers will arrive and things will change, that much is certain.

No I'm not leaving :) thank heavens! But Elder Bishop is. He's heading to the Apeldoorn Zone to be companions with Elder A who just became a Zone Leader last transfer. President sure does trust Elder Bishop.

Elder Cooper and Elder Bishop ready for their power walk :) 
Obviously we're super sad to be leaving each other. We'll get to see each other every month at Mission Leader Council sure, but it's just not going to be the same. He's SUPER sad to be leaving Alkmaar, but we're working on thinking positively. We both have really  good transfers ahead of us. He absolutely loves the new district he's in and in his new zone he gets to visit his greenie city, so there are lots of pluses.

As for me Elder Chantry is coming to be my companion. Lucky too cause I love this kid :) he was actually in my first district back in Vlissingen and we've already bonded over things like P90X and Heroscape. He also has really good style I after my time with him I'll be looking SOOOO good :). Can't wait!

So know that there are a ton of positive things about this transfer and we're excited, just for now I'm a little heart broken. When Elder Bishop got the call last night it really hit me, "This isn't permanent..." It hit me how the dynamic we have here is going to change, and how one day I'm going to be leaving here. That thought alone rips my heart out. I love this branch more deeply than I've probably loved anything in my life (except the obvious ones like God, Christ, you guys, etc.). I can't stand the thought of leaving them. The thought of Bishop leaving nearly brought me to tears, what am I going to do when I leave?!

But I'm looking past that and trying to appreciate what time I have left (which is hopefully two more transfers here). The only thing is it's just simply going to be different here. Elder S is headed down to Leuven in Belgium and we're getting another elder. The Dynamic Fouro is just kapot now. There was something that just worked with us four. It was seriously such a blessed two transfers, a period of time I will never forget. 

Last night just kind of summed it all up for me. We spent our whole evening with Fam. D B from 5-9 cause they asked us to. Us four missionaries mean A LOT to them, and the same goes for us. They are a phenomenal family and I love them with everything I can give. We've gotten this tradition with them that we eat dinner and then play a few rounds of Chicken Foot with them. Only Elder Pouwer is doing worse than me but that's ok because it's so fun and we bond over it. 

Yesterday we continued that, played a round or two before we ate and then had Gourmet for dinner. I've explained that before right? The tiny little pans on the mini stove where you cook whatever you want inside it and eat it little by little and it's SO delicious? We had that again :) but the best part of the evening was when we thanked them for everything. We expressed how much they meant to us and how much we loved them. Sis. D B returned the feelings and then explained how much her family loved us and how us four came at a time when her family really needed us; how it couldn't have worked any other way. And now it's ending... :(
But enough of that, on to a bright new future! Well actually first into the recent past:

My birthday was great :) Elder Bishop really treated me good. We had cake, blew up balloons, he bought me a Kinder Egg, it was great! And thanks to the tender mercies of Heavenly Father we had to drive Elder G to Leiden that day. We saw a ton of military people on the way there thanks to the Nuclear Summit thing (Explained in Culture Note). Anyways, what do I find when I get to the office? MY PACKAGE! Best timing ever I swear! Literally got it on my Birthday :). Couldn't have been better! Thanks for it! We had a great time opening everything.

Then after all that we ate a birthday dinner at another favorite family here, Family Munster's house. We ate, played games with the family and had an awesome night. They even came to volleyball the next day and it was SO fun! (We play volleyball at least once, usually twice a month).  So yeah, I had a great birthday.

We also had Zone Training this week and it was working up to be SOOO good! We spent all of Thursday preparing, making Kung-Fu belts and bookmarks so that they could all become Dragon Warrior Teachers. We found cloth, cut out the medallions, laminated them with an iron, velcro-ed them onto the cloth, cut out and laminated the self-made/designed bookmarks and then promptly forgot them on the day of the Training :/.

We were SO mad! If we had noticed it at any other time in the travel we would have turned around, but it was right as we were pulling in to Diemen, Amsterdam that we realized we had left them at home and to go back would make us late for our training. So we made due with what we had. That was kind of the whole unexpected theme of the training. Nothing went as planned. Things went too long, we all went over our allotted times, etc. But it's ok I guess, we got done what we set out to do and trained them all on how to become better teachers. We basically just roleplayed for the entire thing (acting out missionary situations). At very LEAST it was an hour and a half of straight roleplaying. On the plus side the Assistants were impressed and they said it was the best Zone Training they had seen this week thus far, so maybe I'm just being too hard on us cause I know what it could have been.

However immediately after that training we did indeed come back to Alkmaar and have a talent show. Guess what we all performed? 1,000 Miles :) "If I could fall, into the sky" one. SO good! The whole branch was laughing (plus a ton of non-members who also came) and LOVED it! We had to do an encore at the end and then one yesterday for those who missed it :). Fear not! It is on my camera, but the D B will probably put it on Facebook first haha!

One non-member who we've been working with is M. I love this kid as well :). He came to the talent show which is HUGE cause he's not a social guy. He has led me to a very interest thought process. 

See M loves video games, like bad. Every elder that comes here has hardly been able to communicate with him because video games are his reality. He has something wrong with his back which makes it really difficult for him to get out and do things, but what does he do with the times he does go outside? Volunteer work at an animal shelter! Purest soul ever, just corrupted by his situation, but the innocence is still there you can just feel it. 

Any way, we've become really tight wanna know why? Because I can actually hold a conversation with him. I have two thoughts here. Thank you mom and dad for:

1- Teaching me the importance of being social and making friends outside of the home. Of encouraging and supporting my extra curricular activities which really helped shape me into a social being with many experiences that have helped me relate to SO many people, and for teaching me the balance between time for yourself and time with others.

But there's also this part (Thank you mom and dad for)-

2- Allowing me to play video games and teaching me how to balance them. Thank you for letting me be a little obsessed with them (especially Batman) and for indulging them not only in me but with my brothers. Thanks to these experiences I have had with video games I have been able to reach and connect with SO many people out here!

See you just have to know everything a little bit, Christ did. I mean just look at all the parables he used. They are all SO different. He was aware of how everything thing, job and style of living worked and I know he understands gamers cause I talk about it with Him sometimes. He's fully supportive so long as you keep it under control and within the limits judging it by the standards of the gospel. 

So that's how I talk with M, and from what I saw at the talent show he most definitely considers me a friend and the same goes for me. We spent nearly the whole night together simply because no one else knew what to say. But we could talk, so I stayed right by him :) and yet the Lord still gave me moments in which I could talk with the others that I loved there. It was the perfect balance of a night.

The Lord works in strange and wonderful ways. Not always easy to understand, but it's always for our betterment. It's like warfare sometimes. It has a cause and the cause is good (hopefully, but in this analogy always) but there is pain and suffering involved.
Going to miss being together! 
Elder Bishop is leaving, M is needs some help and Zone Training didn't go as planned yet all these things are part of Heavenly Father's plan. Every single one of these things will teach me and others around me and make us stronger than ever if we will just open our hearts, humble ourselves and let the message Heavenly Father wants to give us into our hearts.

LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you SO much for what you do and have done for me! It's crazy all the changes that are taking place here and there but I can always find comfort in the fact that I have you guys. For eternity. And that will never change.

Elder Cooper the Batman

The Elders performing at the Branch Talent show! What a great way to finish off their time together! :)  Thank you to loving members for posting this video of our boys.

Culture Note: The Nuclear Summit
You probably heard about this back home but here it was a BIG deal! All of Den Haag was closed for like two or so days. No trains, cars, buses, nothing could go in or out of that place. Was on complete lock down. Then all along the way on the roads there every five minutes or so you'd see a army jeep with three or four soldiers in it stationed on a bridge or on the side of the road. Super intense, 58 world leaders all in one place talking about Nuclear things, we thought it was the beginning of World War III haha! But apparently everything went well so all is well again :).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Wahoo miracle week! Well specifically one miracle, but we do see a ton of miracles every week... Anyway, the miracle we....wait scratch that! Literally as I was writing we saw another miracle :) I love missions haha! Here I am sitting and typing when the Hoorn Elders come up to us. They had gone to buy new pants for Elder S and apparently in the store they met a man who wanted to learn and talk more about "the Mormon Book"! Woot woot! We'll be calling him up tomorrow for sure!

But back to the other miracle, every single companionship in this zone has at least one baptismal date! What?! I've never seen this before on my mission and we feel SO blessed! Coolest part was it basically all happened this last week. Elder P pumped up his district about getting their progressing investigators on date and bam! They owned it :). Happy Birthday to me haha.

Another true miracle is that Elder Cooper has learned to
parallel park. 
I can't believe I'm 21 tomorrow, it's just about slipped by me. I know everyone always says this but time is flying! I can't believe it's almost April already. Hey! I get to go to the temple soon! Wahoo! Haven't been in a whole year! I can't wait :).

Well this week ended up being really good and we actually feel kind of rested after it...kind of. We only had one exchange this week, but it was with a companionship that REALLY need us. Coolest thing that I learned was that the Lord truly can bless you with love. I went into the exchange a little apprehensive, but I prayed that I would be able to love him and help him however he needed. Guess what? My prayer was answered (didn't see that coming huh?).

As I went into the exchange I felt so much love and I just thought he was the coolest guy ever and that he could do anything. We had really good talks, found a lot of common ground and saw a lot of miracles. It meant the world to him I could tell. I think it was just nice for him to have a day he could be treated as an equal, listened to and appreciated. At least that's what I aimed to show or have him feel and Heavenly Father filled in the rest :). Just like He can do with all our problems or struggles- take the first few steps of faith and watch Heavenly Father work His miracles. Nothing is impossible with Him whether it is changing desires, splitting a Red Sea or opening hearts He can do it.

You remember L from last week? Well we had an awesome dinner appointment with them on Thursday which led us to inviting them to come play volleyball with us on Saturday. SO fun! I just love that sport with all my heart. Nearly her whole family came actually and it was the best! We were able to make an even stronger bond with them and invite her to YSA FHE tonight. Yup :) in thirty minutes we'll be heading down to Amsterdam for that. Best part is she'll be coming with her recently baptized cousin, who also needs help staying in the church! They'll just convert each other :).

Still haven't seen K but we have a super strong bond with her little brother R. Man do I love that child! We basically play his siblings in the church and it's the best. I'm glad he looks up to us cause he kind of just feels like a little brother.

That family is just SO amazing I can't even explain it. Who would have thought that Dallin's dad lived in the same apartment on his mission as the dad :). Carmen and Herman De Bruijn. I don't know if they're on Facebook, but if they are I must be friends with them and the whole family! Family Munster too! Love them!

Wanna hear some more miracles? For one- when I was on exchanges we went to go look up an inactive because he wasn't at church on Sunday. I chose him and he asked if the Spirit wanted us to go there. So we sat, listened and felt for a bit. It was a most definite yes even though it was possibly going to make us late the rest of the evening.

We get over there and not only is he home, but he has a friend over, a friend who may be slightly interested in the gospel! We gave her a brief overview of the Restoration with her and offered her a Book of Mormon when we could get one in her native tongue. She said she'd think about it and the inactive just kept testifying how she had to come to church and how it was the true one of Christ and everything. Inactives I'm telling you. If they would just go to church they'd be golden! Ah they're pretty golden anyway. J

Like this other inactive we visited, C. He hasn't been to church in a long while but he was amazing when he was in the church. He befriended SO many of the youth and still has contact with most of them. One of those youth happened to be our old mission leader who decided to go inactive a few weeks ago. C was distraught with this because even though he doesn't go he knows for a surety that this church is true. So he asked for his number so that he could begin talking with him and rekindling their friendship. We're praying that they kind of bring each other back to church :).

And another miracle: we got a referral! In Alkmaar! This one came from and we were SO pumped! We went to go look her up but the address was wrong :/ so we're planning to knock out the whole street to find her. We'll also be praying that we'll be able to find her, there's more than 40 houses on that street...better than a hundred though! :)

Elder Bishop and Elder Cooper (their model faces???)  haha.
The Lord's hand truly is working out here and I see it more and more every day. We are being blessed and He is looking after each and every one of us. Thank you for your love and support. I really couldn't do this without you :) thanks for raising me, for loving me, for being my family for now and for all eternity.


Elder Cooper de Vleermuis Man

Cultural Note:
They just had elections here in the Netherlands and it's basically the same, except different. They were the local ones but it all happened Wednesday, for all of the Netherlands. Maybe that's the same as Utah? If so this is REALLY embarrassing for me cause this was a horrible "culture" note...
Just to double check, it's like their vacations, they do it all at once. They section off Nederland into a few different sections and everyone within section one goes on summer vacation during Weeks 1-3 and section two during Weeks 4-6 etc. Interesting huh? Apparently if they didn't do it this way all of Nederland would just stop because during vacation time this place just empties! They go to France or Spain or Germany, they just really like their vacations and there are not too many vacation spots here :) plus these places are only 2-5 hours away so it's SUPER easy. They have it good up here.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Hey family :)

Elder Cooper as "Jack" in Into the
 before he left on his mission.
Man I'm tired, but not from the week this time. Actually that part has been getting a little bit easier, I think it's the morning routine I have: seriously SO inspired. It's what I've been searching for for nearly 10 years now. Wake up, work out, then shower but something I've learned to do here- sing in the mornings. I just sing as many hymns as I can during my shower.

All came from D&C 25 because before now I would always just pray, but A: That takes a good 15 minutes and then you have a 30 minute shower (I was notorious for that until Alkmaar ;) ), B: I'm so tired I just can't keep my thoughts focused or I fall asleep and C: My heart wasn’t really in it. It was just a "morning prayer". So with D&C 25 I was shown that "the song of the righteous is a prayer unto [God]" and I began to follow the Spirit's encouragement to do so. It works WONDERS!!! Seriously, it's life changing.

Anyways why I'm tired- just had the COOLEST P-Day ever! I feel like it was the kind of P-Day that James has every week haha. That's right, we explored ruins. But not just any old ruins- World War II beach bunkers on the coast of IJmuiden! THEY WERE SO COOL! I'll send some pictures, but there was one where you either walk down these stairs or through a different entrance in the front and go beneath the ground where it is pitch black but massive! If you didn't bring a light you'd get so lost :). Another we found underneath this tiny hill of earth. We went beneath and followed for a ways until we found this tiny space you can barely fit through crawling (you would have HATED this mom ;) ) but it leads to this square hole where you climb up some rings to the top, ah it was cool!

We were just climbing all over these bunkers :) luckily no one got hurt and it was just straight fun. Then we went and played American football on the beach :) oh and this was a Zone P-day so almost everyone was there. Nailed it! LOVED it! Definitely worth seeing and playing around in. Me and the brothers would go to town in those things! Nerf wars anyone? So yeah, I is tired but it's ok cause we just completed another successful week.

You know what the saddest thing ever is and the most heartbreaking thing ever? A divided family  :( I see it SO much out here. You simply learn to find and appreciate the ones that are still in tact. There are examples of this I have shared before, but today I share about this wonderful woman. She's married with three kids and the only member of the family. Yet she never falters and never slows her pace. It breaks her heart to be the only one but she presses forward in faith knowing that this is the church of Christ and that through Him her family can be eternal one day. Obviously we want to help her out as much as we can and the boulder is starting to roll!

We eat with them maybe every other week and have been developing a really good relationship with them, but yesterday we made another big step and are now officially friends with her daughters. We had a game night here in Alkmaar and they were there to join in the fun.  There’s one daughter we watch closely because out of all of them she is the most likely to join first. She feels something, that we all can see, and she's more willing to listen to us than the others.

Be the one!
Here I want to say something. Be the one. It's another idea I've come to believe in out here; be the one and let your influence spread! So many times we wait around, nervous of what others will think or waiting for someone else to take the first step when that's exactly what EVERYONE is thinking! Story time.

Shayla's cousin Elder Praag found this man on the street named D.  D decided to be baptized and after Elder Praag was transferred to Hengelo where he was introduced to D sister G. Her husband was not interested at all and promised he would never stop smoking and would have nothing to do with the church. Thanks to D’s example she was able to find the strength to enter the waters of baptism alone without her husband. She continued on faithfully, keeping the commandments and setting the example with all the energy she possessed. It couldn't have been easy, but after awhile her husband started getting lonely smoking on the porch alone and decided to quit. This led to a chain of events that led him to investigate the gospel and he is now baptized alongside his wife and two kids. Soon they will be sealed in the temple.

See what one person can do simply through their example? Imagine if G had fallen because her husband wasn't supporting her? Or if D hadn't joined because his family would think bad of him? 5 souls were brought unto Christ and all because of someone's example. There are people just waiting out there for you to set the example. Just waiting for someone to show them what it's all about or that it's all worth it. It may be the scariest thing you ever do in you life but be the one. Be the one that stops when things go to far. Be the one who lives the gospel even when the going gets rough. Be the one who stands strong in the faith of Christ even if you yourself feel weak in that moment. There are people waiting for your righteous example and now is the time to act. So be the one.

 If the one sister would just do that I'm convinced the rest of the family would eventually follow. Her sister is a bit more closed but she's still cordial, but yesterday we got to click with them.

We played this fun card game and I got to be on one sisters team. Well here comes my gratitude with the games we've played at home, we had a blast! Just imagine, me killing it with the pink deck (because obviously that's the best one) but then I let someone try it out and they lose my luck. So I enlist her help to help me win with the brown deck and we were SO good we almost won twice! I kept trying to match the colors and put them in even piles instead of in numerical order but apparently dat mag niet (that is not allowed). I don't know it was just funny, we were cracking jokes and it was just the best. We did win the last round though Jasper brought us good luck! :) And because of something I did in the game they told me I earned a dinner appointment (cause I've missed the past two that they've had and they wanted to make sure I wasn't avoiding them ;)) and told their mom to make another one so that's three weeks in a row with one of our favorite families! This place rocks!

I've come up with a good analogy for my mission thus far: Vlissingen- my Greenie City. Almere- my First Love. Sint-Niklaas- my Refiner's Fire. Alkmaar- True Love. I cannot express with words how much I love this branch, this place, everything! I love Almere with all my heart and it will always have a special place for me, I love Sint-Niklaas and those I love, I will love forever, but Alkmaar is something deeper for me, something spiritual.  Maybe Almere could have been it, I was just too young to understand
Companion love!
everything that was happening. Here I see it. Here we have relationships with families and people that I never want to leave. Here we are literally seeing the influence we are having in their lives. Here we truly feel the Lord's hand in everything we do. This has become a very special place for me and I never want to leave! I'd be just fine spending the rest of my mission here! Psh, I'd be ok living here forever! For the first time I can say like Ammon "Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die." But don't worry I'd just bring you all here :).

I hope one day you can all meet the people on my mission who have touched my heart so deeply it feels about to burst. Never before have I fasted this much for a cause. Never before have I just felt this love rolling over me like 10 foot ocean waves. Never before have I had a companion where literally everything we do is in sync and we are 100% on the same page all the time. These two transfers will probably stay the most special of my entire mission experience.

Hmm...just saying my heart but to the members in other cities I have taught in…it's not that I don't love the others in fact I love them with just as much of my heart but in completely different ways. It's like how I love all of my brothers equally, but in different ways. If I loved them all for being my best friend, my inspiration/the reason I do everything or my world then I couldn't love them all equally for they'd be contesting for the same place in my heart. It's important to be different for that exact reason. Sint-Niklaas will always be a sacred place to me as well, it's where I learned how to magnify a calling (because everyone there were great examples and I love them) and where I gained the principle of God being my first priority that I will base my entire life on. Almere is like a best friend. I love that city and I love those people! I learned what it's like to have a church that is energized and still has fire and hope and where I truly gained some life long friends. And Vlissingen I learned truly how to submit myself to the Lord. It's where I was humbled enough to begin growing and where my whole life began.

So see, be different! It can mean the world to someone later. LOVE YOU ALL!!! Seriously, the best ever! I have no idea what I'd do without you. I love our relationship. I love our dynamic. I just simply love us and wouldn't have it any other way! The family is what it's all about. What else was Christ's atonement for if not to bring us all together as a family in the end of time for eternity and isn't He the center of all? Do everything you can to protect and cherish your family. Sacrifice everything, give up everything! Just love your family and bring that to pass if it's missing.

Wooo! What a letter :) I love learning through the Holy Ghost, don't you? :) Till next week best family ever!

Elder Joco Cooper

Culture Note: No need for Highway Patrol here they build little demons instead. They're known as Flitzers. They're these little cameras that are posted every now and again on the road. They take a picture of your license plate if you're going to fast and they send the bill to your home. So you're never safe and there's no escaping or dodging. Even when you think you know where they all are there are portable ones! I swear I've been flitzed twice because European speed limits change in mere seconds and that's always where the Flitzers are... but I haven't got the bill so I think we're good. Thank heavens for good old
Highway patrol men!

Pictures of the Adventure to the WWII ruins.

With one of the Elders he was able to train (his boy..haha)

No doubt their zone feels safe with them ;) Love these two missionaries!

Monday, March 10, 2014


Hey everyone!

I think this may very well have been the busiest week of my was great! I am feeling SO fulfilled by the end of it! Let me walk you through how it went:

Started with P-day on Monday, District Meeting on Tuesday, followed by exchanges that day and the next, we got back together Thursday and had a really good lesson with P, went on more exchanges Friday and re-exchanged on Saturday so that we could attend a digital missionary workshop and head over to Rayco's birthday party. Whew! I is tired...

We are working with some Elders that are really struggling. Sometimes companionships can be difficult and in this case they are completely different people but the problem is still the same for all of them: they are so stinkin' prideful!

It's that Carbon Monoxide poisoning coming back again. I swear it just runs rampant in this world. Want to know how to diagnose yourself? Good cause I'll let you know. Think back on the relationships you have and the people you interact with. Do you ever have the thought "They have nothing to teach me?" or do you disregard criticism through justification? Then you've at very least got traces of it. We all have a little bit of it every once in awhile, but too much will kill you spiritually (like it literally damns you, aka stops your progress). The second that you think that someone can't teach you something or you're unwilling to at least consider why they are saying that, then you're in trouble.

Every single person you could ever meet on the street has something to teach you. From the best of the best to the worst of the worst. Why do you think all those bad guys and girls are in the Book of Mormon? We can learn from everyone. We just need to keep our hearts open for it. So we're hoping that situation eventually wears one of them down into submission aka humility. That's the only way they're going to survive.

The other exchanges were a little more uplifting. I went to Leiden with an Elder Krebs and found myself a new idol! That man can expound with the best of them. Not only did he explain the Plan of Salvation to me in a way that opened the eyes of my understanding to the whole thing but we talked a bit about AP Literature and he expounded books like "The Great Gatsby” and "A Heart of Darkness" in such a way that I could understand, appreciate and get excited about them.

Eating real Stroopwafels!
But the icing on the cake was when he expounded the best movie ever made: The Dark Knight! He LOVES that movie as well and that's when I realized his true skill- character analyzation. The Joker is his second favorite villain of all time (second only too Iago the "Original") and not just because he's "cool" he had a literary explanation that made so much sense and made him SO much cooler!Thursday we taught P about recognizing the Spirit which was really cool but kind of awkward for a second. We go in prepared to teach him how to recognize it only with him explaining to us in the first five minutes everything we were going to teach him. (Chirp, chirp) May be awkward but it definitely wasn't bad to hear. He already knows what the spirit feels like! Now we just have to wait for him to get an answer :) Oh and to adapt we just basically went through the scriptures and proved everything he said true with them. He loved it,

Then it was on to another exchange this time with Elder L. We talked pretty deeply about the mission. The biggest problem we seem to be facing, or at least the biggest question is: Why do the "lazy” elders, the ones who are known to be a little apostate, who do interesting kinds of missionary work seem to Always get the most baptisms while the obedient, hard working elders, who do all they can to do their best hardly see any.

They made Pannenkoeken!
We threw up a lot of different ideas out there but we realized it wasn't necessarily the obedience part; it was the results of what the disobedient ones did. With their lack attitudes they are able to make real relationships with people and then those people are willing to listen whereas elders who are so focused on being obedient and not breaking any rules are more rigid and make very surfacely relationships because they don't want to risk breaking rules. it's ALL about the relationships, even read the story of Ammon! The reason so many Lamanites were converted was because Ammon had a solid relationship with the king which started a chain reaction of opening hearts. That sounded about right to us.  So the key is being obedient, but allowing relationships to form.  Allowing people to matter and truly loving them, but Disobedience is never the answer even though at times it may seem to bring rewards. This is the Lords work, bottom line. 

Ah this week was just the best! Each day I learned some new lesson or experienced some fulfilling experience. Saturday and Sunday were not different. We've become really close with a family named De Bruijn. We've basically become brothers to their 14 year old son named Rayco who was ordained a teacher on Sunday.

Anyways we got invited to Rayco's birthday party which we happily attended and had a great time. They seriously are SUCH a good family. So much love is shared between them and there house is just bursting with the Spirit! If anyone deserves an eternal family it's them.
Then on Sunday after the ordination Sis. De Bruijn thanked us personally for the good influence we have on her son. She said something to the degree of "I don't know what it is about you four, but you's just like it was meant to be." (us four being me, Elder Bishop, Elder Pouwer and Elder Strikwerda. They work in the city Hoorn but we all go to the same branch. We are SO tight with them!) 

Always happy after exchanges to be together again!
:) It feels good to know that you are loved and are truly making a difference. We're really praying that we don’t get transferred next time because there are so many people relying on Elder Bishop and me being there, namely three member mothers who all have either a non-member or an inactive child that we have really good relations with. The work is moving forward here! We have a dinner appointment every day except today this week! And I've finally found the balance between being a zone leader and being a normal missionary.

Life is busier than ever but OH so sweet! This gospel truly is the best thing that has ever happened to this world, more specifically me. I feel so blessed to have grown up in the covenant and to have a testimony of the truth of these things. This is real life. This really is all that matters. God loves us, Christ His Son suffered for us so that we can return to live with God again, Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord and he did restore the church to this earth in these the last days. The Book of Mormon is true. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of the Lord here on the earth today. I know this church is true and I love it with all my heart. Please don't ever let me forget it.

LOVE YOU ALL!!! Thank you for your prayers and your support! Thanks for being with me through thick and thin and for being righteous sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. Stay true to the gospel and live up to your potential! Do whatever you need to to keep your covenants cause I am REALLY looking forward to spending eternity with you guys :).

Elder Joco Cooper
"I'm Batman!" J

Cultural Note: I had a really good one this week but I forgot it :/ so this one will have to do. There is a difference between brands here! European Twix bars for instance are gross. Never realized it till I ate an American Twix the other day and was nearly translated it was so good! Not only that but smarties are more like M&Ms, they don't have any jumbo packs of those by the way, KFC is SOOOO much better here it's like heaven and the McDonalds here is just gross. Feels healthier but doesn't taste as good as America. Oh and Wendys doesn't exist. Lesson? Just cause it has the same name doesn't mean it's the same thing.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Another week- Check.

The hair!
Mid-life crisis :)
Me and Elder Bishop just keep laughing cause we can't believe you and his mom know each other :). Yeah that picture was of me and Elder Bishop in the middle of Amsterdam near Rembrandt Square (or something like that). Yeah my hair is better wanna know the thing that drives me INSANE?! NOBODY TOLD ME IT WAS BAD!

Ok, it wasn't bad but literally the day I changed it again everyone kept saying "Ok good, I like this one better" (forehead slap). What if I had never realized it? I would just be walking around looking weird for the rest of my mission. Tsk, tsk. Court kind of told me too so that was good :). Now it's got a part thing on the left side and I swish it all back and to the right. We will call the other one a mid-life crisis.

Our one investigator is actually doing REALLY well! Last Thursday Elder Bishop and Elder Lewis asked him if he would be baptized! This is the investigator we talked about last week cause we only have one. Elder Bishop said the spirit was super strong and that it was really cool because this investigator was actually found by Elder Lewis. So we'll be seeing him again on Thursday and we're praying that he receives his answer (cause he said he'd pray about it).

It's funny that you say that you "just want them to understand what [we're] teaching them" cause while that was happening I was having another spiritual experience in Amsterdam. We were eating with a member and his atheist roommate talking about God. One of his problems was that if Heavenly Father knew everything he thought that we'd have no agency. I proceeded to answer according to the words the spirit gave me. I don't think I've ever testified so strongly in my life and it literally felt like the Spirit was exploding out of me. I explained the analogy of a parent knowing their child so well that he knows what they will do even if he doesn't choose for them and then expounded.

To my astonishment it simply didn't make any sense to him. He said that it didn't really answer his question and his opinion still made no sense. That's when I really started to understand 1 Corinthians 2:14 " But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned". Things pertaining to the gospel can never be understood with our natural minds and logic at first. It takes a leap of faith first; even just a small shred of faith is enough. But if your heart is not open you'll never learn. If you've already made up your mind, the spirit simply can't work with you.

I realized I haven't really told you anything about this branch huh? It's really small. Somewhere in-between Sint-Niklaas and Vlissingen. That's general size but we have barely any Priesthood. They are all really sweet people and most of them are older, so it's struggles bringing in new blood. We just barely got digital missionaries and will be working with them very closely. Our whole goal in the branch right now is to help every member create a profile so that when investigators or other Dutch people go to the website they see that it's not just a scary cult but a normal church with normal members. That is super important, especially in this age.

Great Companions and friends (and much better hair Elder Cooper)
I’ve been thinking a lot about teaching and how to help other in that capacity.  The mood of the classroom when people go to church is very important. They need to be able to feel the spirit.  David M. McConkie stated it this way in General Conference. Speaking of the roles of teachers (but the idea applies to students as well) he says, "You are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. You must not teach your own ideas, or philosophy, even mingled with scriptures. The gospel is "the power of God unto salvation", and it is only through the gospel that we are saved.

You are commanded to teach the principles of the gospel as they are found in the standard works of the Church, to teach the words of modern-day apostles and prophets, and to teach that which is taught you by the Holy Ghost."

Bam. Conferenced. My point is watch what you say in classes. When you're raising your hand to comment ask yourself things like "Is this going to bring about contention?" (3 Nephi 11:29) and "Why am I about to say what I'm about to say?" Obviously there are exceptions. Teaching false doctrine? Correct in a nice way. Legitimately having questions in another area that you need answers to? Go ahead ask. Just try to think a little more about why you do the things you say and do.  

Everything seems to be moving along over there. SO jealous Sky got to go to a Brian Regan concert!
Elder Cooper's brother is the one in the brown coat.
Lucky! That man is SO funny! And tell Sam I'm getting a letter to him soon, haven't talked to him personally in a little while...and also that I'm not disappointed in him about the Batman thing.  I'm not proud of you (Sam) just because we bond over Batman, I'm proud of him because of who he is and what he wants to become. That's all you ever need really :). Plus you all will Always have my love unconditionally.

LOVE YOU ALL!!! Hope things keep moving forward in a good fashion and that everyone is reading their scriptures and praying every night. It's amazing how much that helps, trust me. Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers because you are all definitely in mine.

Elder Extremely Tired But Still Going Cooper
(The Batman)

Culture Note: Did you know that the Dutch don't have gravy? I didn't realize that until I got both my packages this week (Thank you SO much by the way!!!) and one of them had three packets of gravy. I realized the Dutch don't believe in gravy! Kinda like me haha! I realized that the only times I have seen "gravy" it's just been sauce left over from cooking the meat. Different huh? Always super good, but it's just not gravy gravy.