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!

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