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!
Not exactly sure what this e-mail's going to be like, I'm just SO full of so many emotions right now. I know Heavenly Father is helping to make me even stronger. It sure does make you a lot more sensitive to things.
Just from reading your e-mail, looking back on my life, etc. I’m literally overwhelmed with gratitude. Words cannot describe the joy and gratitude I feel right now; no, only actions can express that.
That's something I've really learned about myself in Rotterdam. The last two companions I've had have been experts in the gospel. They know the scriptures, they know the doctrine, and they can preach it with power and conviction to the convincing of every soul. Quite honestly that will never be a natural talent of mine, but I can improve, as always. I guess I'm more of just a basic principles guy. I have taken the opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can from them, they are great missionaries, but I also need to not feel bad about where I come from, and my stance. I may not be a scholar, in many people's eyes, I may not always have the gift of speech or preaching, but I have the gift of action.
The gospel has never been just words, ideas or concepts to me, it's a way of life. The best life. The only way to live if you truly understand it. Especially out here on a mission the tendency I have had to take what I learn and do something about it has increased (I don't even know if I had that before but it's a REALLY big part of who I am now). When other are talking The Spirit usually whispers to me what I need to do because of it. That's my lot in life: to do.
Neither of us is better than the other. Both sides are needed. He who can preach the gospel and he who can live it. And as we learn from each other by listening and watching we can one day reach that balance that will allow us to both be with our families forever in the Celestial Kingdom. So in the end who's the real winner? We both are, so there's no problem.
I now have a belief and understand when they say that any righteous young man and young woman can make a marriage work. I may not be experiencing marriage, but I'm comparing it to the closest thing I've got. Elder K and I have very little in common from a worldly standpoint. So how does it work? It works because we are united in our goal. We both want to give our everything to help the zone see success and we both have a testimony of this church. When me and Elder K are working, we are working and we work together well. We are able to push aside the things of the world and do the work given to us, balancing each other where needed.
It's a really interesting dynamic and I'm convinced, for me, I need to marry someone with common interests now but I am also convinced any two righteous people can make a marriage work, they just have to be willing to work their tails off. And that's where the difference is- with some people it will come naturally and with some you'd have to work your entire life to stay together. That's why we date, so we can find what we want, what is best for us and quite honestly what works. Neither is better than the other, they're merely different. However they revolve around the same principles- hard work and a unified goal/vision for the future.
A great example of this was Zone Training. It went REALLY well, exactly like we had hoped. We tried to take this one away from the spectacle that they had become, or the 2 hours straight of listening to someone talking and instead we focused on the 'training' part, like it's should be. We spent the majority of the 4 hours given to us training with the missionaries. We did a ton of role-plays and having the others actually work things out with others. Super interactive and super effective! Again another increaser of my testimony of action! As they put the principles into practice during the training they gained testimonies of planning for their lessons better. Focusing personal study on investigators, coordinating during companionship study, etc. We heard of a lot of miracles that have come from this. If nothing else we are all more confident in giving lessons and we are teaching with more clarity and power than ever before. I love this zone! :)
I seriously have grown SO much in this place it's indescribable. I will forever be grateful for Rotterdam and the lessons it's taught me, the person it's made me. Rotterdam made me stand up and be a big boy. I am who I am and I'm trying to make that better. Punt. Thanks experiences here I am more solid in who I am and am learning to be more firm in standing up for my beliefs and sticking up for myself. It's a work in progress, but I'll get there.
Definitely not the easiest week, but I've learn a lot and it's going to be more valuable than gold to me in the walk of time, that I know.
I love you all SOOOO much! You have no idea how happy it makes me when I read e-mails and I see how you're all progressing SO much! You are all SOOO amazing I can hardly believe it! Promise me now that we always stick together. Together we are an unstoppable force! And I honestly couldn't do it without a single one of you. I need you all specifically, just as we all need each other specifically. That's why we've been put together right? :)
LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Reporting to you live from Gotham City
Culture Note: Gas. O mij hemel. This is for everyone in America who complains about gas prices. I've just been driving around dropping between 50 or 75 euros per fill up not really thinking anything about it aside from "Yeah, it's a little pricier than Utah but no biggie." NO. We decided to convert the numbers yesterday and it blew. my. mind. Do you realize how blessed we are in America? What do we pay there? 3-5 dollars per gallon? (Haven't been there for awhile maybe it's different). According to our calculations here in Nederland gas is 10 dollars per gallon!!! We spend nearly 100 dollars every time we fill up!!! That's crazy! So yeah, this week I'm feeling very grateful for where I live and having a bit more compassion towards why we only have about 10 cars in this mission...
Sister Brown just arrived home! It's amazing the friendships formed on missions. These two served in Almere together. (taken at the conference with Elder Ballard. Thank you for the picture Sister Brown!)