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!
Whew what a week! Just when you think life can't get any busier, you go and have a week like this. We've been stressed out of our minds this week haha. Yet 2 exchanges, 1 Sister Day, 1 young men's activity, 1 talent show, 1 rainy service project and hours of planning later we're still standing...mostly. :)
Elder Cooper and his dad on the big day!
You know what I gained a testimony of this week? Keeping your baptismal covenant and keeping your mind and heart open to serve. I've recently come across a certain mindset that I really don't like, "That's not my job." Oooo those words grind my gears. To be fair there is a good side to those words as well.
For example. If you are part of the ward and you have a problem with the way the Bishop or teacher runs things it's not your job to go and try to change things. You can give constructive feedback, but not try to take over or push your own agenda. But that's not the kind I'm talking about, that's more like respecting and sustaining our leaders and teachers. What I'm referring more to is when someone is in need, life seems to be crushing in around them and they need a little help with their calling or their kids and a person refuses to help because "It's not my job". Well guess what, as members of the church it IS our job. The second you chose to be baptized you promised that your brothers and sisters would become "your job". You promise to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort but here especially you promised to "bear one another's burdens, that they may be light". So yes, it's your job.
Sorry, but I had to vent about that. Lets just say I've had
some personal experiences with that lately. It's hard for many to see outside this bubble and realize that being in a talent show, helping a woman, who is pregnant, and just trying to do her calling, setting up chairs, participating, those are all a part of missionary work. I do not believe we get to say "that is not my job", but alas many believe differently and we all just try to work together in harmony, because I suppose that is part of it too. :)
I learned a lot this week. I had quite a few really spiritual and powerful experiences some which I can share and others are
The early days with Sister Robinson. Elder Cooper loves her very much.
between me and the Lord. So on Wednesday, cause I had my last interview with Sister Robinson that I'll ever have. It was a really good one. We talked about my mission, what I had learned, how I had grown, etc. Then she described an analogy. We as missionaries are rubber bands, and we're brand new when we first come out. Then we get stretched really far, like as far as we can go. A lot of us have the thought, "I can't wait to go back to how it was before." but there's the thing with rubber bands, after they have been stretched so much they're not the same as when they were brand new. They're stretched out, bigger and usually have odd wavy patterns. Things don't get to go back to the way they were is what she explained. It's not what the Lord expects of us.
He is expecting us to stretch. We come out here to learn how to stretch and how to grow from it and then we are supposed to go home and continue stretching. That's the challenge she issued to me. Keep stretching. Even when you're home, let the Lord give you opportunities that will stretch you and make you grow. Don't settle for comfortable.
Don't stay un-stretched.
No pressure or anything haha. I'm really nervous for that actually. I mean if we look at it, how much easier is it for a rubber band to stay unstretched? It takes 0 energy and it has some semblance of what it used to be. But we need the tension, we need the load, so we can be strong. I guess that's why we get hard things some times, to be stretched. To truly test who we'll rely on and who we'll turn to in the darkest hour of our greatest need. And how grateful I am, not only to have weathered the storms but looking back, to have been in the storm because it made me stronger and prepared me for what was ahead.
Finally, in church I had a really cool thought. We were learning about the spirit world, how we go their when we die and how close we are actually to those loved ones we've lost. They're all around us actually. Rooting us on, strengthening us, praying for us, watching over us. It made me realize a hidden gift and blessing in the passing of Grandma and Grandpa Cooper on my mission, even though it was tough. I realized that they get to now fulfill a role in my life that I always saw them as in this life as well- spiritual support. They are there on the other side rooting me on, cheering for me, helping me stand up when I fall down and providing so much spiritual help for me. How lucky am I? To have two grandparents to care for me and my needs here and two to care for and support me there.
I just love the Plan of Salvation :). Death need never be all encompassing. That's why we have Christ. It's why I'm trying to testify more of His resurrection and not only of His Atonement. Yes, He suffered for all our sins so we can be clean, so we can be healed and helped and understood, but the crowning moment was His resurrection. It's not His suffering that we celebrate, it's His life; His eternal and immortal life. We celebrate the fact that He triumphed over death so that we don't have to be eternally separated. He was resurrected so that we can be with our families for eternity. And through His resurrection we find eternal peace, joy, happiness and healing. I am forever grateful for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How much more that event means to me now than ever before.
LOVE YOU ALL!! Keep on fightin' the good fight and I'll see you soon :).
Culture Note: The winter season is coming upon us! You
know what this means? Warm clothes? Snow? Santa? Yes of course, but more than that Stamppot! That's this delicious thing where you take mashed potatoes and mix it with all kinds of stuff. Some you'll have carrots and onions, some you'll have broccoli and others with bacon, etc. It's gotta be one of my favorite dishes here and they usually eat it only in the winter so I'm super excited :).