Monday, December 8, 2014


My heart HURTS!!!! The pain isn't just in the heart area
though, it's like this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach; churning whenever I think of the reality of leaving this place. Is this what a broken heart feels like? Probably...
I can't even describe the emotions going through my head right now. This whole week I've just kind of been denying in my head that going home is messing with my brain, but I see it in my actions. Nothing too drastic, but there is a difference. Don't remember how...just remember thinking that haha. I hope Elder Hunter is ok. He's a champ though and will be getting a great companion here in Hoorn so he'll be okay :) 
Like I said last week though, all I want is to be home again. See you guys, watch a movie, hang out, but I wanna do that here too! Obviously not all those things but I want SO badly to be here for them. Seriously if Skype and What's App didn't exist I would be a wreck right now. The thought that they're going to be so far away hurts a lot. I feel like everything has come full circle now.

For the past little while I've been watching my mission reverse itself. I feel like my mission has been a chiasmus, with my
first stay in Alkmaar as the center point. Everything else has progressed similarly to the chiasmus structure. For example:
The night I left my family to go on a mission was the third time in my life that I have ever cried. I knew I had to leave, I knew there were others waiting for me there, that the Lord expected me to go and serve his children but I was going to miss my family. I didn't want to leave, it hurt every part of my body and it kept hurting well into my second transfer. And now the time has come again. Those feelings I expressed above are all very familiar to me thanks to the beginning of my mission. But this time there is a difference.
"A perfect ending with my family and Elders I love."
Me. I am a completely changed person. I no longer simply believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I have confidence. I don't just merely know anymore that Christ is our Savior and
Redeemer, but I've experienced it, I've used His atonement (both enabling and cleansing parts of it), I now feel like I know my Savior in a way that I never did before. There is no more hopelessness or unsurety when I leave loved ones behind, for I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and cares for each one of His children. 
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."
"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
"Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."  (Matthew 10: 29-31)

I know He'll be taking care of my family now, no matter where I am. I trust in Him now. He knows how much family (whether Dutch, English or Maori) means to me and I trust He will prepare a way for me to be with them one day. For me there is no longer "goodbye", only "see you soons". Boy am I EVER grateful for that! I couldn't bear it any other way.

I wish people could just see the beauty of this gospel. It's the
whole reason I've committed my life to it. Every single thing I have, I want to give to Him. Every single choice I make, I want to choose Him. He has given me everything, how can I not give everything in return? But as I was saying, the beauty of the gospel. There is so much surety there, so much peace, so much healing. In the world without the gospel you can only find pain and momentary glimpses of happiness quickly snuffed out by the sting of death or the next crisis. If they only knew...if they only understood. Death has no sting, and the grave hath no victory. Sadness and heartache can be but a small moment. True, never-ending, happiness is reachable here. It is reachable now.

Whether you believe or not that gift is given to you, but it's up
to you to reach out and grab it because I can promise you that it will not merely be placed in your hands. The Lord requires work from us, always has and always will. Nothing we can do to change that, just like nothing can change the happiness that comes from exercising our agency and acting.

"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."  (Alma 32:37)

Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, again, member or not, please, just try. I promise there is happiness ahead. There is happiness here in the gospel of Jesus Christ that never needs to go away again. If you will sincerely try and do everything in your power to come to Christ and follow Him, you will find happiness. I know because I have found this happiness. I know because I've had to walk through the dark. I know because I've been through the hard times, still have them and will go through them for the rest of my life. I know because the Lord has blessed me with times where I've been sad, or hurt, or angry. That's how I know that this is happiness. "Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation" (Brigham Young).

This is the church of Jesus Christ. It truly was restored by the prophet Joseph Smith. He did in reality see God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The Priesthood is restored to the earth and with it the power to act in God's name for the salvation of His children.  Families can be together forever. Jesus is the Christ and God is our loving Heavenly Father who wants to see us again more than anything and He has called President Thomas S. Monson as a prophet and president of this church, to lead and guide it as Christ instructs him to. And if you remember nothing else about me, please remember that I knew these things and that I've worked every day to make them a part of who I am.

Man...I'm gonna miss this place. Already I can feel the sad things creeping back to me. That second hug I was too
scared to give. That photo I forgot to take with someone I love. That cursed body of water called the Atlantic Ocean. Sigh... I may be hopeful for the future and full of confidence that everything will work out how it is supposed to, but it sure doesn't make this any less painful.

On the other hand I love you all SOOOO much and am SO excited to see you! Know that I'm working my tail off this last week and that I think and pray for you (a nice healthy amount...well...not so much that it cripples me haha). You guys are the lights of my life and I couldn't be who I am if you weren't who you are. So thank you for that.
LOVE YOU!!! See you in 3 days!

(For the last time) Elder Cooper

Culture Note: Dutch Goodbye Habits
It's a really funny phenomenon actually. When you say goodbye (especially with people you're close with) the Dutch have the tendency not only to walk you to the door, but to wait there until you are in your car and out of sight. Usually it's really cool and I love it, but there have been a few really awkward moments where there are really long streets where you've parked down the road aways and you walk to your car and have to put stuff in the back and get all buckled up and meanwhile the poor members just stand and watch you or where something awkward/funny happens on the way to the car and you have to play it off. :) I'm gonna miss little things like that.
Family Forever

Very Loved!

Monday, December 1, 2014


Hey everyone!
I AM SO TIRED!!! I can't even explain it. All I want to do is lay down and just die for a few hours haha :D! I guess that's good though right? This week has been really really intense spiritually speaking.

So we had a Zone Conference this week with Elder Moreira
Thankful that Elder Hunter takes pictures :) 
on Wednesday and we were scheduled to do the intermediate hymn. Well we had been practicing it for two weeks, once or twice a week, and we took Tuesday to work out all the kinks and make it amazing. Definitely paid off, and I had a really cool experience with it. We were almost finished practicing on Tuesday when we decided to take a second (thanks for Elder Hunter), and study the first two sections of Joseph Smith History, pray for a reconfirmation and then come back and sing it again.

It was a really cool and special experience. I Prayed to open and then I studied. I read the words and I felt the spirit, but there wasn't any really big experience. At this time I was dealing with some really crazy emotions. I was especially thinking about recent converts, church drama, and those who I love more than life itself and just thinking, "Gosh is it worth it all? So much pain, frustration, sorrow, all for what?". Sometimes you just get tired of it I guess, and I think that's normal, but you have to work through it. 

Anyway that's what I had in my head as I read it. And after the first time, nothing to crazy, just what felt like normal feelings with the spirit added. Then the idea came (aka the spirit whispered) to read the last few verses again. I did so and felt all the tenseness and sorrow and annoyance wash away when I felt the words, "That's why you do it".

That's what it's all about. That's why we serve in the church, that's why we sacrifice, that's why we struggle and fight every step of the way, because this is real! This isn't some fun little game or pass-time to be indulged in when you feel good or feel like you need it. This church means everything and what we do/how we act within it will determine SO much more than anything else this world has to offer because it is the true church of Jesus Christ restored again on the earth! And everything in our lives should revolve around the gospel that it preaches; for it truly is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the only way we can be saved in the kingdom of God. The only way we get to be with those that we love forever, never again to be separated.

That's what I felt at that time and my greatest desire was that
It was good to see Heidi who is now
serving a mini-mission. :) So proud of her.
through this song somebody else in the audience would have a similar experience and be even more converted to the gospel. Well we got there on Wednesday and I was really nervous. Our time came and we just sung. We sung and angels sung with us. You could just feel it. The spirit was powerful. The song ended and the room was silent. The next speaker got up with tears beginning to appear on his face. He shared his testimony with us and what did he say in it? He thanked us, then shared that the song had really pierced his heart and testified that that song represented what it was all about and testified of the importance of the restoration and of this work. It was amazing. And on that spiritual high, Elder Moreira got up and spoke to us!  

The song:

That man's great, if any of you were wondering. The things he taught us changed my life forever! He changed the way I am ever going to approach anything ever and how I'm going to face ever single day and night for the rest of my life. Maybe I'll touch on that later, we'll see.

Anyway, after the conference we are talking to him and he asks us to come to the conference the following day and perform it again. So we did and stayed for the whole conference. What was really cool was this gave me and Elder Bishop the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone on the mission. Usually you just disappear with only your zone knowing but thanks to the tender mercies of the Lord we were able to say goodbye to everyone we love.

Now we arrive at the end of the week and work as hard as we can to get some work done. We did but in different ways. We delivered some letters, supported our loved ones and played some volleyball! :) Geez I love that sport!

And then there's the other half of the spectrum. My heart is getting torn in two and it hurts! :( All I want is to stay here, but I want to go home just as badly! Why can't we all just live in the same place? I don't want my heart to be split in two...but I guess it has to happen. Can we just make sure I get back here as fast as possible? I can't stand the thought of not being here. It's like you said in the blog: "I will tell you that he loves the people he is serving and they are now part of our family. I am grateful for all those who have become a part of his heart. Once you are there, you stay there forever. That's how he rolls!" That truly is how I feel, and I hope that they all know it.

I can already say I'll be crying for the 6th time in my life this weekend, I don't know, maybe the Lord will give me the strength to be strong and hold them in haha. Hm...just had a thought. Maybe the time is coming that they no longer need an Elder Cooper, but Jonathon Cooper.  My time as a missionary is ending, but I will always be here as their brother/son/friend.  I already know that no matter what I am called, I am always going to need them in my life.  I couldn't live without them, or this place, just as much as I can't live without you guys. That's what eternal families are.

LOVE YOU ALL!!! More than you'll ever know.
Elder Joco Cooper

Culture Note: Winking is a LOT more common in Europe than it is in America. I still feel really self-conscious doing it but here you get winked at all the time. It has less of a flirty connotation here. I once heard it described as "When someone winks at you, it's like they're sharing a secret with you." and he went on to describe how effective it was when you contact old people homes. Haha :) never tried it, but I'm going to this week!
Examples of when they wink:
Person 1 just told a joke, everyone is laughing, Person 2 looks at Person 1 and Person 1 winks.
Train Conductor coming by to check your tickets and winks before taking your card. After checking gives it back.
Sitting across from your companion you make eye contact and he winks at you while rubbing the seat next to him...oh wait...that's just me and Elder Hunter ;) haha!