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!
Sorry for the lack of email last week. Thank you all for your continued love and support. I can feel your prayers and I am so grateful for all of you. - Elder Cooper
So here goes the updates!
What an amazing week!
I don't know if I mentioned this to all of you yet but I had a brain blast the other day- I realized/received inspiration that Rotterdam is going to be the place where I learn the most on my mission, and this week definitely proved that point!
We have been moving non-stop for the past 7 days. It's something I've come to really love about Elder C, there's never a moment where you sit still. Ever. We get SO much done during the days and he teaches me so much. With all this moving there's not much time for anything else. You learn, you teach, you love and you restart every day. I think that eventually that's the goal with any missionary- keep yourself busy enough to distract you from yourself. Well distract is a bad way to put it because most of the time it is in the process of helping others that we receive the inspiration we need to help ourselves. So I'm very grateful for that.
Best part of the week was probably Saturday. We had another Zone Conference and Elder Boom of the third quorum of the seventy came. It was literally the most inspired conference of my entire mission. Each speaker spoke directly to my soul and answered very specific personal questions that I had. It was also SO nice to receive instruction from a Dutchman on how to teach and work with the Dutch. He gave us the keys to success out here and so we're all re-motivated and ready to work.
He talked a lot about testimony, prayer and returning home interestingly enough. Also covered in the conference was self-confidence, communication and the Book of Mormon. President Robinson started off the conference and warmed us all up with a reminder on how important the Book of Mormon is in our missionary work and showed us how in the first few chapters of Nephi nearly every single important doctrine is touched on or at least alluded to.
Elder Boom then gave us a bit of the history of Nederland and taught us how to best reach these wonderful people. He compared us to Alma the Younger when he decided to go preach and taught us that we needed to "bear down in pure testimony" to reach their hearts.
Later the Assistants covered how important communication is with your companion and with investigators. There I received a conformation in how the Lord has taught me to communicate with people. I no longer had to worry that I was doing it wrong. What they taught, was a big part, is listening. Not just hearing the words, but truly listening. Taking what they say, thinking about it and responding to that. Many times that's all people need is to know that their idea was heard and that it made some kind of difference even if it didn't change the outcome. In other words validation, I believe very strongly in that.
Then with self-confidence one of the Assistants compared us to David and Goliath (which is why I LOVED your e-mail this week dad :) thank you!) and how a lot of the time in the work there are Goliaths to overcome. No energy to work, waking up at 6:30, contacting, you name it. He said though that we needed to put our trust in the Lord because when we put our trust there we cannot fail and we will stand boldly for truth and right. He then described how our past spiritual experiences will determine many times our confidence spiritually and overall. All this he did using 1 Samuel 17.
And then Elder Boom talked about prayer and home. Those talks were life changers for me! The way he described prayer was fantastic and I truly realized the importance of it. He basically said the root of all problems whether they be members going inactive, investigators being dropped, being depressed or sad can all be traced back prayer. He explained that when done right it is the thing that saves our souls.
And that's how far I got before my time was up. Don't know if that accurately expresses everything but hey it's what was there.
Transfers did in fact arrive and me and Elder C will be staying another. Not really surprised, but we are doing good work so it will be good to go another round with him.
The investigator was in our ward. He's a really cool guy we've been teaching. One day he'll be baptized but he wants to take it slower and make sure he can answer every interview question positively before he's baptized. Super respectable guy and I like him a lot.
The Zone itself is doing great and things are really picking up down here. We just had this amazing meeting with the leaders in this zone and it's going to make all the difference this next transfer. See we meet every other week with the district leaders and sister training leader but we never quite knew what to talk about there. That changed after Sister Robinson showed us a video at mission leader council. It was an interview with the women presidents of the church and it was amazing. By listening to and studying that video we learned SO MUCH about working with women in the church but also about working with other leaders in general.
This we showed the leaders here and then we counciled on what to do for next transfer. What were the problems? What did our transfer numbers mean? We discussed these in depth and it was SO guided by the Spirit. In time he showed us exactly what we need to do this next transfer: Read and teach Preach My Gospel with and to the members. Every problem we face down here is solved through this simple Zone Vision. Missionaries learn PMG better and thus become better missionaries, members gain understanding on why we as missionaries do things and how the entire process works, hopefully they gain trust in us as they see that we actually do know what we're doing (most of the time) and the list goes on and on. We're stoked for this.
On a personal level, the learning hasn't stopped. The lessons are coming nearly too fast for me to internalize haha!
We're staying so busy here. We're both on the brink of dying, but we keep moving forward cause there are people who need us. We'll be making a plan to be a little smarter and not run ourselves dry this next transfer but for now we're just dead tired, yet we've got a lot more work ahead of us. There's a lot to be done this next transfer but I know that we're here together for a reason and that we're going to do everything in our power to work as hard, effectively and long as we can.
LOVE YOU ALL!!! Hope you are all having great weeks and don't worry if you're not, you're just getting prepped for your next great week :).
Culture Note: The World Cup. This is HUUUUUGGGEEE over here. Seriously, when the games start, everything stops. We don't even need to watch the games because when Nederland scores the entire city of Rotterdam explodes with cheers! Horns start honking, people are screaming, whistles are blowing, I seriously have never experienced anything like it. Can't wait to show you the videos :). Everything is decked in orange here (Nederland's color) almost more so than King's Day. Then it was in consentrated doses, here it's just over all. Everything is tinted orange.
With this you can imagine how the city was in Nederland's first game. Last year they went all the way to the finals but were beaten by Spain. Guess who the first game was against? Spain, the former world champion. Nederland came in with a vengeance. Just try to imagine the noise when we scored the first goal. Then the second. Then the third. We beat Spain 4-1 that game! The people in Rotterdam were driving around in groups of cars honking their horns in celebration way pastmidnight. It was so cool :).