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!
So I'm done being frustrated, doesn't do me any good. Besides all these trials are merely reminders. Remember how in Sint-Niklaas I learned the most important lesson of my life? Namely, that from now and for all time Heavenly Father must be my first priority above all else. Yeah, I forget that SO easy. I wish I could just remember things like that...life would be SO much easier. :)
Nothing has really changed all that much situation wise. Things are still a bit difficult, but I'VE changed.
Grateful for my friend.
It all started a few days ago. All these things just kept weighing on me dragging me down and down. I got to the point where I thought man I could really use a blessing. Luckily I had Elder G in the zone (he was in my MTC district) whom I love and trust. We had exchanges and during the course of those I asked him for a blessing. Not knowing before hand what exactly it was that I was struggling with this amazing elder gave me a wonderful blessing from my Heavenly Father. It was as if the words were coming directly from His mouth to me and was a very sacred and special experience for us.
This awoke me to the state of the situation I had put myself into. I was so focused on myself this past little while. I was thinking: I miss Alkmaar. I miss the people. I can't figure out how to function in this place. I can't figure out how to work here even though the members are great (by the way :) just different and it caught me off guard. Still working to get to know how to be around them...but that'll come :). But I never stopped to think that Hecould. He knows I am needed here, it's why He sent me. He knows how to function here. He knows what His children here need.
I got down on my knees later that day and begged forgiveness. I had been SO hard-hearted and wasn't letting Him in! But He's with me now and together we're working through everything. It's really all about forgetting yourself and getting to work.
Step 1: Forget yourself and remember Christ. Still working on this, but a big part was taken care of that day.
Step 2: Forget yourself and remember those around you. We have a saying in the mission here- "The success of a leader comes from seeing the success of his team". Namely here we as leaders are asked to sacrifice our own success so that others can succeed. We are asked to put our all into trainings and exchanges and random other things so much so that we have very little time to work in our own cities. Most of the work here actually happens on exchanges because when we're back together we need to get rested, united and organized. We are asked to sacrifice everything for those we love here.
And we do it willingly.
That has been one of the greatest keys to me out here while learning to rely upon Christ. For "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God" and He blesses you for it.
I seem to be hearing a lot lately of people I love more than life itself being thrown into the refiners furnace. To you I write these words: I love you. SO much so I wish words could describe it. I may not know everything you are struggling with but I know that it hurts and I know that it's hard to keep going, but please just keep trying! You are not alone I PROMISE! I may not be there right now, but I think about you and I pray for you.
I pray that angels will be round about you to lift you up, inspire and support you. I pray that you will be able to find peace in your soul. I pray that you will feel God's love and the power of His Son's Atonement, for it is SO real. I pray that you will come unto Christ and be swallowed up in His grace. There is NOTHING you can do and NOWHERE you can go that is too far for Him. His Atonement stands there all day, every day, extending into the eternities. He has already suffered for your sins and sorrows so please go to Him in prayer. Let Him make your burdens light. They may not go away, but two hands make any burden lighter.
I guess over all I just want you all to be ok :) cause I love you. I truly do. Please don't forget that.
Funny that you mention the lunch thing :D I talked to Sis.T and A about that today! I know they mentioned who the other sister was too. Sis. A is actually the Sister Training Leader and Sis. T is in the Media Arts Program at BYU so hopefully I'll be seeing her a lot in the future.
LOVE YOU ALL! Send love to all the people you know I would care about and love if I was there. I REALLY wish I could write them all, but I barely have time to write you guys! So please let them know I think about them and love them a lot.
Keep on pushing through! :) You guys are the best and I love you all SO much!
Culture Note: So Rotterdam. It's actually a ward here, so there's lots of members and LOTS of families (most I've seen in my mission). It's the only city in the Netherlands that has two wards within it's boundaries and it even has a Portuguese unit for those who speak Spanish and Portuguese. We have three elders serving there currently and we go on splits with them and work like normal. Luckily Elder Corsini speaks like 7 or 8 languages so it works haha. It's always busy, and always tight (mom you'd HATE driving here). We live next to a giant Mosque and as such where we actually live is mainly Islamic. I chuckled when you wrote the Amsterdam thing... :). I'll tell you when I get home ;).