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!
You know what I just decided I really like? When people I love succeed :). I just get so excited! I wish we could all just succeed all the time, but I guess we wouldn't learn anything that way huh?
So I had this really weird moment last night in my nightly prayers. As they tend to do in my nightly prayers my thoughts began to wander and things just kept piling up. Do you ever have those moments where you feel the whole world piling up on your shoulders? Cause I do. I just started realizing
everything I want to do, the time periods I'll have to do it in, the practicality of it all, the lack of memory in my brain to remember to do these things, etc. Balancing life just sounded really hard last night and kind of stressed me out.
Eventually I realized, "Well this isn't a prayer anymore." and just got in bed to continue my actual prayer. The Lord was able to bless me with peace and rest as I just tried to forget about it all and take it one step at a time. Step one: get to sleep. So I did :). I love when prayers are answered.
But still there's just SO many people to reach and SO little time! It's impossible for one man to do it all, really. If one tries they'll get overwhelmed super fast. I just glance at all the people who have come into my sphere of influence on a mission alone and I want to pass out. I know a lot of these people need me, but I also need others. Interesting how that works.
Aside from that it was a good, but normal week. One highlight was our lesson with T, a recent convert, and his fiance. They took us to the beach for dinner and a lesson and it was
amazing. I never realized how busy Rotterdam was until that moment. Rotterdam is always moving, there's always noise or buildings or smells; your senses are being constantly attacked. But then we sat on the beach and there was just peace. People laughing, playing, not too warm not too cold, the Spirit was able to speak to us SO strongly! It was really good for my soul as well as theirs. We talked about life as a new member, struggles we all go through and just chatted. Ah, one of the best nights. We all needed that.
You know I think we all need that now and again. Moments where you can be relaxed, in good company or alone, where you can let your guards down and be safe, where you can just let all of your cares wash away to the sounds of crashing waves. Yeah...I like that idea.
Haha :) I'm looking at this e-mail and I guess this whole being asked to watch over a group of people, well I take it very seriously. You can run yourself to the ground worrying about them but if you don't then they ask you to watch over more
cause you can take it. I'm starting to understand why the leaders of the church here are exhausted. Every worthy active man in most of the churches here has a calling and they just keep on getting them cause we need them, but I can't imagine doing this the rest of my life! Whew! I'm kind of just prepping for being exhausted the rest of my life haha! Even if you don't have an extra calling we ALL have home teaching and visiting teaching, and quite honestly that's more important than all the rest of the callings in the church put together!
I am convinced that a church grows and functions well when home teaching gets done/when the members are cared for. Those heavy responsibilities I've mentioned above? Those aren't necessary if everyone will but do what they are asked and fulfill their home and visiting teaching assignments. I think I'm going to start working under the assumption that everyone is a valiant home or visiting teacher because that makes my soul feel better. Imagine if that was the case? Everyone would be taken care of. We would never have to worry about people being alone or not taken care of because at very least they have their home teachers and if anything goes amiss they can let us know and focus on helping them. In that world individuals don't have to put the world on their shoulders, cause we all carry each others burdens.
That's the purpose of home teaching. That's the promise we
made at baptism, and now I'm starting to see why! It's one of the ways in which the Lord helps us keep our Baptismal Covenant to "mourn with those that mourn" and "comfort those who stand in need of comfort". I've seen it a million times the other way. Without such a beautiful idea being executed relationships crumble, inactivity sky rockets and churches decay. And I know I can't change the world, but I can at least change myself; and do a little better every day.
Despite how it may sound sometimes, things are going great here. I've never worked harder in my life and have never found more fulfillment or happiness in the work than the Lord has blessed me with in Rotterdam. This place has, like all my other cities, turned into a very special place for me, and taught me. It's the place I learned to love the work.
That just seems like such a good place to end it I couldn't keep going haha! But I love you all!!! SO happy everything is going good right now so remember to be thankful everyday.
LOVE YOU ALL!
Elder Cooper the First (haha, always wanted to say that)
Cultural Note: Guess I'll do a language one today :). When you speak Dutch there's this really difficult rule that forces you to completely rearrange the way you think and organize your thoughts! There are exceptions, but for the most part you can only use one verb normally. After you use one verb the rest of them have to go to the end of the sentence (unless there's a conjunction or question word used). It's really interesting to speak because when you talk you have to have everything you want to say already planned in your head so you can put it in between the two verbs. Whereas in english a lot of the times I knew the verbs but I wasn't sure about the rest. It's really helped me think about what I'm saying before I say it. Probably why the Dutch have learned to just straight up say exactly what's on their mind :).