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!
Let me just say, I love reading my e-mails about home life. Every time I read it I feel like I'm home for 7 or so minutes :).
Remember how I mentioned a mission is like a mini-life? Hee hee, I'm getting to experience the 80-death section right now. I am SO TIRED! Not only sometimes, like all the time. On top of that, my memory and ability to
Back in the day :)
comprehend is fading fast and I don't know why! :( I think this is what it must feel like to be old. Your whole life if there's something wrong with you you can just change or fix it and simply move on, but apparently not at this age. When your body just simply starts failing, when you just literally cannot remember things or when someone can say a sentence to you three times and it still makes just as much sense (which is none) while you pretend you got it cause you don't want to feel dumb.) I wish SO bad that I was talking about Dutch right here, but I'm talking about English hahaha! I sometimes literally don't understand English! Not only that but I just say weird things all the time and get my words confused and then we're all laughing cause half the time I'm speaking straight up nonsense. I've officially earned the nickname 'Grandpa Cooper' out here haha :D. At least I can laugh through most of it though right?
I've learned the importance of listening to your elders. They have SO much to share! I mean I know this is only a 2 year thing, but bear with me. I've been working out here non-stop for nearly two years. I've seen a lot. I've experienced a lot. I've got a lot of good advice and counsel stored up in this brain of mine. Yet nobody asks to listen except for those furthest from you. I wonder if that is how it begins to feel as we age? or how a parent feels with a teenager that could benefit from counsel, but has to learn for themselves?
That's why I made a resolve on my mission to take every opportunity I can to sit at the feet of those much older than me and learn from them. Ask their stories, seek their counsel, apply it in my life, there's SO MANY valuable things that they say! And I'm not even talking about me anymore. I'm referring to those who have
wisdom, for example, this amazing 72 year old man in our ward here. We go over there every other Sunday and I just suck it all in. He loves to talk and share his life
experiences and what he's learned, so I bring a pen and paper and take as many notes as I can because the things he says are brilliant! At least the things he says which the Spirit points out to me are, there gonna change my life. That's why I'm super excited for California trips and why I get sad that Grandma and Grandpa Cooper passed away while I have been here. I had SO much more to learn from them :(. But I'll get to listen to them on the other side right? So it'll be ok. And for now I've got Grandma and Grandpa Green who's knowledge is valuable and desirable. I can't wait.
Now don't think that I just want my way. In a good companionship it's never just my way or his way, when either of us come to the other with ideas, the other one listens, then we discuss and we NEVER let the other one feel stupid or like their idea was stupid. So sometimes my ideas are stupid :), but a good companion will listen, and after talking it out make the switch together. It should never feel like one is trying to convert the other completely to the others side, but a companionship should get there
together. This luxury I have experienced a few times out here. Companions should be able to have the ability to talk, to compromise, and come up with unified plans. It's not always easy, but it's worth it to try.
I was thinking and I realized it has a lot to do with how we process things, and learning to make it work. For example, Elder Krebs is a great missionary and when we're on exchanges and doing the work we do it fantastically together, but we are very different. In an area where he is apathetic I'll be sympathetic. In an area where I'm nonsensical and inefficient he is on the ball and efficient. Where he gets results, I produce encouragement and moral boosts. He's a sports guy and an engineer, I'm a artsy person and a thinker, we're simply different. Different is good though, even great when you learn to work together. We are both hard workers and we both love the work, so it's great.
As for other things in the mission:
Rotterdam actually has two wards :). It's literally one of the only cities (possibly the only one) with that. Most everywhere it's one unit per city at the most. The church is very developed down here but they still struggle with the same things every ward does and of course have their own personal challenges as well (just like everyone). Mission-wise it is very different from the rest of the mission, I mean we're in one of the most diverse cities in the world! When we're working in the area that's assigned to us we talk with very few Nederlanders, but they're still there.
It's gonna be a busy transfer. We've got Zone Training, Temple Conference in October, tons of exchanges, my last mission leader council, it's going to be "go, go, go" right to the very end and I couldn't be happier about that! I'm gonna finish this thing up strong and do it right!
Thank you all SO much for loving me, for caring for me and for listening to me and valuing me :). It means the world to me now, cause you don't get that in the world. At least not like you do at home. Good luck with everything this week! I'll be thinking and praying for you!
Culture Note: Nederlanders are green people! They are very eco-friendly and not only as a government initiative, most of them are truly behind it too. As such here in
Rotterdam there's this really interesting thing called a 'millieau zone' or something like that. Basically if you drive a car that's older than a certain year through it you can get a ticket because something about that year changed how cars exhaust is or something like that. Then you'll get things like tickets if you throw away paper or batteries, you just have to recycle everything. Even being out here nearly two years it's still an adjustment. :)