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!
It's funny how you mentioned how the things in my letter come to people in the moments they need them, because those responses were exactly what I needed to hear today. That means the WORLD to me, that others benefit from what it written, especially when it is those I love and care about SO much. Made my entire life to know that they're ok, or at least that they could feel my love for them.
As I was saying though, that's exactly what I needed to hear to. The things you were sharing in your e-mail, the Facebook thing and Elder E whispering "Thanks for your example" to me the other day are truly tender mercies from Heavenly Father.
See cause I'm having this identity crisis, or was. I've just been looking around at other missionaries and doing the worst thing possible- comparing. Not super hard core but the best example is Elder C, my incredible companion. This elder is AMAZING! He is loving and on top of things. He is focused, ready, driven and ingenuitive. Obviously I wanted to internalize some of that, because those are some awesome qualities. But I was letting it get to a point where it was making me feel worse about what I do and how the Lord needs me to work.
See with the high expectations of President sending me here I felt pressured to change who I was and work in a different way to fit what it seemed was needed. But these things and a few other experiences have reminded me- the Lord sent me here. Yes I will need to change and grow a little more here, but He didn't send me here to change the missionary I was, He sent me because the missionary I am is exactly what is needed. I will still continue to progress though and work at getting better and better, but I don't need to do a 180 and that makes me feel a lot better. So thank you for always letting me know those kinds of things :) means a lot.
Also helps that I love this place now :), at very least the members (and it's fun to drive here except the parallel parking ;) ). As I've gotten to know them better they've truly grown on me. I had this really cool moment in church yesterday, well two. 1- I looked around and realized there were so many people there that I already loved. Sure they don't work like what I've known, but they work in there own awesome and inspiring way. For instance- I have never seen a ward so stoked about Family History work. Seriously they all do it here and have books and books filled with names of ancestors (one can even trace his line back to ADAM!) It's really inspiring and makes me stoked to get started! And this would be the perfect place to begin.
Sometimes Elders get to paint fingernails when waiting to be fed by the wonderful members.
Just goes to show, if you're struggling to like something you're looking in the wrong places.
The second thing was this adorable 3 year old girl in the ward. We ate at her family's house and after went outside and played with her. So at church she comes directly up to me and Elder E and tells us that she wants to make another appointment with us and she's giving us another invitation to come over :). I just about died (in a good way) :). So we set up a last minute appointment and this amazing family let us come over for an unexpected lunch appointment. It was a good Sunday, and after we got to go over to familie P.
I love this couple. They are older and remind me SO much of Grandma and Grandpa Cooper. Me and him talk forever about church things, how it runs, how things should be done, how principles of the gospel work.
Both Grandma and Grandpa passed away while Elder Cooper has been on his mission.
It makes me miss Grandma and Grandpa Cooper :(. Especially when I'm over there, all I want to do is go over and sit at Grandpa's feet and learn from his experiences. I just want to have him tell me stories of his life, his church experience, lessons he learned, everything! I just want to be with Grandma and feel of the pure love of Christ that she possessed. I take joy and hope in the fact that I will have this chance again in the resurrection, and that I have memories.
Elder Cooper's Brothers on the day his youngest brother received the Aaronic Priesthood
If nothing else it has taught me to appreciate what I do still have. Never take ANYTHING for granted, because it's not always going to be there thanks to either your own actions or simply life. I sure do love them though, and am very excited to see them again one day. For now though I plan to love an appreciate everything and everyone that I have left :).
I CAN'T BELIEVE SAM IS TWELVE!!! Happy Birthday Sam! Love you a ton bud and I hope it was a really special day for you. You have the Aaronic Priesthood now! I'm SO proud! It's the start of an amazing journey for you :) so keep getting ready, keep learning, keep being happy, work with mom on the stress thing and never forget to pray and read your scriptures every day. That's where the power come from! Love you Sammo!
So information for those coming out here: Yes we teach all the time out here! There are Dutch people being baptized every week here and the work goes just as it always will, in His time, in His way, according to the faith and action that we as missionaries take. So let those missionaries coming in know it'll be as good as their faith and as good as their willingness and ability to work hard and get things done :). Especially seeing as you can go to bed then at the end of the night and know that you did everything you could, the rest was simply the will of God and the agency of others.
Oh and also tell them to bring as little as humanly possible on their missions! Biggest regret of my life! I don't know what to do with it all and my bags are SO heavy! But I refuse to throw it all away because that's a LOT of money down the drain if I do so...so just travel light so you can return heavy.
LOVE YOU ALL! Keep on moving forward and never lose faith :). There is hope ahead and Christ can and will make it better. You just need to go to him.
I love my Savior so much. I love this church. I love my Father in Heaven and the blessings He gives me every day. I couldn't be more blessed to have you all in my life It truly is a privilege and an honor. Couldn't do it without you.
Culture Note: Rush Hour here STINKS! From 5-6 is when it is and the call it Spits. When you get trapped it can take you 30 minutes to travel the distance it normally takes 10 seconds for...yeah we've been late quite a few times here...it stinks..."but I'm learning" (smak, smak)!
Many times you meet Elders you will be friends with long after the mission is over. Good-bye Elder Praag. See you soon.
Amazing missionaries that Elder Cooper has the opportunity to work with.