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!

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