"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!" ---D&C 128:19

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jesus The Christ

Hey you guys! It sounds like everyone got sick. That's sad to hear. Get feeling better soon.
This week went by really well. The branch did a Christmas party/program on Saturday.  Me, Elder Beckstrand, Elder Carpenter and one other elder all sang a song called Little Drummer Boy, by the Pentatonix. The members really liked it and actually gave us a second round of applause. For today we are going to Choi's with the zone leaders van so we will actually be able to take more food home as well as we're eating at a members home. One cool thing about Christmas time for missionaries is we actually get to watch a movie of our choice. It has to be appropriate obviously but we get to watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 tonight which will be sweet.
All of our investigators are doing well. Cool story from this week is we went contacting and found an awesome person named "M." We asked if we could teach her right there and she agreed. We taught her the Restoration and she listened really well. One of the biggest indicators for me that someone seems interested or is listening is when they ask questions. She had several questions about us and what makes our message and our church different from the one she and her family goes to. We explained the priesthood and the Book of Mormon to her and she found it really interesting. She explained that she wanted to be baptized but wasn't quite ready to come every week to church. She said that actually really only one of her kids goes to church every week. I think they would be awesome to keep teaching. I'll let you know how it turns out.
A couple weeks ago I don't know if I told you guys this but I actually finished Jesus the Christ for the first time all the way through. I must say that I really enjoyed it. It talks about everything! A really in depth look at all of his earthly ministry, and bits and pieces from pre-mortal life, and Second Coming. There's so many things that I could quote from that book. You guys would have letters for the next two weeks. What I will say though is that it helped to strengthen my testimony in Jesus Christ. No other person taught with such a combination of love and tolerance for people. Jesus Christ was and is the epitome of charity. There is a scripture in 1 Peter 4:8 where the JST says "Charity preventeth a multitude of sins." Which is so true. One thing I've seen is that it's harder to teach something wrong or say the wrong thing when you feel love for the people and love for God. I testify to you guys that Jesus is the Christ. Our Redeemer. I enjoy this time of the year not just because of gifts and family but because Christ is the biggest part of Christmas. He's more than half the word Christmas itself. ;) I love you guys and hope you enjoy your Christmas.
Love Elder Cooper
P.S I got your guys' letters. I really enjoyed them! Thanks for all the packages too!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Package Arrived

First things first---I got three packages from you guys this week. All at once. You guys are crazy! I haven't opened up two of them because there was no way I was going to be able to bike with them yesterday. The one I opened was the one with the Christmas tree, presents, and decorations. I'll send you a pic of me next to it. By the way, are we allowed to open up the presents yet? Haha I figured not but I wanted to ask just in case.With this week like I said it was kind of same old same old. We just got out and worked. We don't have too many investigators right now so we kinda spent the week doing more contacting. There are a couple of people that we want to follow up on but we're not sure how it'll turn out. I'll let you know though.
With "O" it's been going good. They are continuing to see us and are reading each day. What was cool is we ended up having an hour and a half long lesson with them on Saturday. They had asked us all kinds of questions and even had a notebook writing down the definitions of certain words and stuff. Super cool. "O" and her family will be awesome members when they get baptized. We still have to teach them a lot, but I look forward to when they will.
The other investigator is "S" and she is continuing to be awesome! She has a date to be baptized in January and she is still holding to it and keeping commitments. She is awesome to sit with and since we have taught her all of the lessons several times we actually go into a little more depth with her. Nothing crazy, just details, like about the Millenium and stuff.
This week wasn't actually bad it was just not much to write about type stuff. All of our investigators are doing great and we have a couple of people that show some potential so I will let you guys know.
Here is a funny story from this week for you guys though. So we wanted to follow up on a referral we received from a contact and went to the house. The lady we were looking for wasn't there but instead a guy came out and started to talk to us. This guy might have been high. He might have just been straight crazy, but he started going off about all kinds of things. He said he was looking for the silver souls. He said he knows there are gold souls and silver souls and if two silver souls have a kid, the kid is white. He started talking about how he saw one kid and suddenly the kid ran away from him and went and dived into a bucket. When he went to look in the bucket the kid was gone. This poor guy was all over the place talking about who knows what. He was just straight crazy. Your guess is as good as mine with what he was talking about. 
Anyways, thank you guys so much for the packages and the awesome emails! Dad I hope you start to feel better soon! I'm sorry there is not much. Next week hopefully will be awesome.
Love you guys!
Elder Cooper

Monday, December 8, 2014

Three Month Mark? What?

Hey guys! So apparently I have hit the three month mark. The milestone went completely over my head. Time may not be going very fast for you guys but it feels like a blur here. I am really enjoying it!
To update you guys on the area, "Z" is technically in the sisters area, so we are not able to visit him. He still came to church this last Sunday which was cool. I really hope the sisters visit him often and teach him well. He shows a sincere interest and I feel like he could progress so much with love and patience. I'll keep you guys updated with him.
As for "O"--we taught her the Plan of Salvation. She received it really well and told us that she is   still reading and studying. It's awesome to see how much they love the gospel. They had some questions about what would happen to someone who didn't get baptized in this life which gave us the opportunity to talk about temples. They really liked it, especially when we showed them what temples look like. Every lesson with them so far has been awesome! They came to church again yesterday which was awesome to see them there. We also helped her niece with English, which we then realized we don't know the names of any of the grammatical terms. We eventually figured it out but at first it was tough. I'm really excited to see how the rest of it goes.
As for everything else it just goes. We still have contacts to follow up on from the city blitz as well as some other contacts. We had one lady pass us on the street and she was like "you guys never called me back!" Now I'm new so I had no idea what she was talking about but then Elder Beckstrand immediately recognized her and explained that his companion before me had said that she would call us. Which apparently was not what she had said. We called her back and have an appointment set up. It was kind of a tender mercy to just boost our area a ton. Me and Elder Beckstrand are excited for what this transfer has in store.
You guys had some questions so I'll try and answer them super quick.

How far away from the ocean are you?
Far. I've never seen the ocean in Suriname. Maybe an hour north of Paramaribo by car is how far it is.

Do you eat out much?
About twice a week. Usually to Hesdy's or Wolly's. Wolly's is a burger place that kinda reminds me of a poor-man's version of JCW's. Hesdy's is a BBQ. We actually went to a really nice place in Wanica this week. It was the best I've eaten in Suriname. The name of the dish is "Nassi." So good. Different flavors all in the same dish.

Rate your bike on a scale of 1-10.
I got a new one from the zone leaders and it gives me less of a headache. I'd say this one is a 7. The big gear has dropped a couple of times but I've figured out how to ride and get it to stay.

What time do you have to wake up and be out of the apartment?
We usually get out of the apartment around 1:30. We are supposed to be awake at 6:30, work out, breakfast, studies from 8-12 then lunch for an hour.

I have a couple of pictures this week. One is of me in skinny pants we had made. The other elders had some made and it was kind of a big deal. I wanted to try it and see if I would like it. They feel fine so... The other one is of a building under construction I thought it was a big contrast between how we use nice 2x4 and they are using unprocessed trees.  The last one is a pic of all the missionaries in our area.

Love you guys! Have a great week!
Elder Cooper

Monday, December 1, 2014

Golden People

Hey everyone! I first off want to say that I don't have pictures this week since we went to the internet cafe early. I was planning on getting pictures at the Thanksgiving feast we're having today but again we emailed early today. I have a ton of potential pictures though so rest assured next week will be good.
As for how this week went it was really amazing! First things first is transfer calls came and I'm staying for another six weeks with Elder Beckstrand. It makes sense since my training isn't done and the tradition of most elders here is that they stay where they work for several transfers. The elders that were "born" here "die" here. (Missionaries use the terms being born and dying to mean when you enter the mission and when you leave) I'm honestly glad I'm staying since I'm still trying to learn the names of the members and I want the chance to work with them more.
So last Saturday all the missionaries came together and did a contacting blitz in the city, which is basically where anyone we pass gets the whole spiel on the Book of Mormon and our church. Once the blitz is over all the contacts are pooled together and given to the elders who run the area. Our area specifically got thirty contacts to call and set appointments with. Which turned out to be great!
The first investigator name is "Z." He actually lives on the same street as our apartment which means we ran into him a couple of times before the appointment. The people who contacted him in the state left him a Book of Mormon and one day when we passed him on our way to some appointments he was walking home from school reading the Book of Mormon! When we sat in the appointment with him he wanted to know where the church was and when it started. We explained it to him and said we would come with him to help him find it. Sure enough he came with us yesterday.
The other investigators are "O" and her family. When we first met with them pretty much the entire family was there, as well as nieces and her sister. It was easily the most people I've ever had sit in a lesson. We taught the Restoration, gave them a second Book of Mormon since there were a lot of them, and then told them a little bit about church. The next appointment we had she explained that they had all read the Introduction, testimony of the eight and three witnesses, testimony of Joseph Smith, and the first chapter of the Book of Mormon together! Then "O" explained how she took a bus the day before just to see where the church was! Elder Beckstrand said it was the first time that had ever happened in his mission. They made it to church yesterday and we are going to meet with them Tuesday to see what they thought.
To sum it all up, the Lord gave us a tender mercy and we have some "golden investigators" at the moment. Also one of the other investigators we are working with is on a date for the first Saturday in January! All in all a great week!
Anyways I hope everything goes great for you guys this week! Good luck with everything and the countdown to Christmas begins! (I'm dreaming of a rainy Christmas)
Love you!
Elder Cole Cooper

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Time Doing Exchanges

Hey you guys! First off, I want to apologize for not emailing on Monday. Because Suriname's Independence Day was yesterday all the places to email were closed Monday and Tuesday.
So since my companion is district leader he has to go on exchanges with all the elders in the district each transfer. So this week I went on exchanges twice. The first exchange was in Uitkijk (pronounced out-kike, the i is the same as bike). Uitkijk is basically the jungle. It is the least populated area the missionaries work in Suriname and they do real biking there. Elder Horton, the missionary who has spent the past few transfers there, decided he would take me to a part of the area that is half an hour away from the apartment by bike. It was crazy. It was easily the most biking I've done in a day this transfer. It was also really beautiful. It's not like total jungle going through dirt roads and stuff. It's just not as populated as Paramaribo or Wanica where I work. By the time we had exchanged and gotten out it only left us enough time to see three appointments before we had to get home. Elder Horton is a cool elder. He is actually a certified pilot and pilot instructor. He was telling me all about different kinds of planes including the F-22, which is America's best jet. He also explained to me the importance of language study. He said when he first got here it was tough.He couldn't speak the language well and he had to work hard. In his words, harder than any other elder. But now, he is easily the best with the language. He does his personal study in Dutch which no other missionary does. He would quiz me and ask me what the words were for different things. Really obscure things. For example, he asked me what the word for kidney is in Dutch. I had no clue. It just goes to show how important it is to work hard. It's like you told me dad---there will be work.
The second exchange was a little different. I went with Elder Mercier (it's a french name so it sounds like mercy-ay). While we were out in my area we made a contact that gave us their address and phone number. As they were leaving he told me to call it and check to make sure it worked since they sometimes give fake numbers. There were two problems with that though, 1. We met them outside of their house so they wouldn't be able to answer even if the number did work. and 2. If they give us a fake number it means they're not interested. That's not to say the day went bad. He actually saved my skin when I realized I didn't have anything to share with a recent convert appointment we had.
Our area also got a huge boost this week. We did a contacting blitz in the city. Basically the members and the missionaries contact people on the street, get their name and address, and then all the areas get the people who are in their area. We have 30 or so people we need to call and make appointments with for the week so that will be cool to see how it goes.
Well that's pretty much all I have! Good luck this week!
Elder Cole Cooper

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hold Fast To Your Successes

Hey! So this week has been awesome. It had its ups and downs but I liked this week. We were able to meet with the guy that had stopped with us and helped with our bikes and I like him. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he says he will read a little.  Also my bike has been a little bit more consistent which is nice.
One of the highlights of the week for me was visiting one of the very few contacts we were able to make. It was late in the day and we decided to make a couple of contacts before an appointment. We get to the end of the street and the guy that comes out starts talking to us and asking what we do. He then begins to explain how the Bible is the greatest book and how we always have to go back to the Bible. We offered him a Book of Mormon and explained it and he said I'm not against this book, and I'll read it but the Bible is the greatest book. He wasn't too receptive to everything which I understand but it was nice because he defended his faith a little bit and explained himself. Most people try to be nice and let us in but they tell us almost nothing about their belief or questions. I'm excited to follow up a little bit because he seems like a cool guy to teach and I could see him being really good at defending the LDS church.
I love you guys. I want you to know that even though we go through trials, and tough times it's worth it and there's always something we can get out of it. My mission has had some good days and not so good days and it's only the first transfer, but I love that. Every little success we can find we take it. I want you to know that the same thing happens in our lives and during trials. We have little successes in between our trials and the best advice I can give in my short 18 years of experience is to hold fast to those successes. I promise you that they're there, and even if they're not many there are still some you may never be able to count. A quick conversation over the phone with someone might have actually helped them in their trial.
I don't know where that came from, I just feel like it needed to be said.
I love you guys! Keep me posted! Have a great week!
Elder Cooper
(His email was short this week. We told him that we had to put Rocky down because he had cancer.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Broken Bike Leads Us To Investigator

Hey guys! I'm glad that we figured out a dropbox and a way to send packages. I'm excited to see what gets sent. Writing letters through the regular mail is a good idea. I think that'll help if you keep the emails shorter. I always enjoy reading them but I would also like to email other missionaries that are out. I can also focus on writing my long email a little more and make it more composed than the past couple weeks have been. I will try to write you personal letters too. 
Where to start with this week? My bike decided to break down this week which was not fun. It started when we were riding back from exchanges and I hit a rock that popped the inside tube and made a hole in the outside tire. We took it to a guy who replaced both of them. The outside rubber was bald anyway and it needed replacing. After that the bike worked fine until the bearings decided to wear out. This meant the tire would barely move when I pedaled. We had to take it back to the same guy and have it fixed again. Now at this point I think we are all good, I can go and not worry about it. That was until I hit a pothole. It wasn't a huge pothole, the bike had taken stuff like it before, but the guy who fixed the inner tube and outside rubber used a bad quality inner tube  and not only that but he didn't put it in carefully so the tube got pinched which made it even more likely to pop. So after hitting this pothole the inner tube burst and had a decent sized hole, unable to pumped. We had no choice but to cut our day short and walk home with our bikes. The one thing that was cool is that while we were walking home a guy on his own bike stopped next to us and asked about the bike and told us where we could go to get parts. (We already knew where we wanted to go it was just nice for him to suggest something) From there he actually biked with us back to our street and so we turned it into a contact and set up an appointment to meet him. Who knows maybe my bike was supposed to be a piece of work this week? I'm excited to meet him again. He seemed nice. Today we were able to replace the inner tube and the bike is working fine so far, here's hoping it stays that way. 
Other than that the week was fine. A couple of appointments didn't work out, but that's part of the culture. People set appointments and forget they even set something. Or they set up an appointment and then don't want to meet anymore and just ignore you. It's ok, even though it was a bit of a trial we still had some successes. A less active is now consistently coming to church and the one progressing investigator made it to church for the second week in a row. I'll gladly take any success I can. 
To paint a picture of the area...It is interesting let's say. The neighborhood streets are narrow and made of dirt/sand. Most roads have a gross sort of canal, where all there is standing water. It could be sewage or used water from the houses nearby, I'm not sure. Algae grows on it a ton and they are usually full of trash. 
Chois, the store that mom checked out online, is probably the nicest store, which we can only visit once a week if that. Most stores or "winkels," as the locals call them, are basic. Fresh quality fruit or vegetables are hard to come by unless you go to Chois or another store called "Best Mart," which I have not been to. Bread you can get at the "winkels" so long as you plan to use it soon. 
The members of the church are incredibly friendly and fun to talk to. Most people will let you talk to them and listen. A couple people have even fed us. 
I love you guys! I miss you like crazy but I know there will be blessings for all of us.
I'll try the dropbox! Here goes nothing! 
Have a great week!
Elder Cole Cooper 

Monday, November 3, 2014

2nd Week


We see a lot of this kind of bird in Suriname.
(Weekly Nat Geo) :)

Hey guys! So it sounds like the method of transportation wasn't mentioned in my last email. I'm on a bike!
That was awesome to hear about how Halloween was for you guys, and Keri's birthday. The people in my area have heard about it but they don't celebrate it. The majority of the holidays celebrated here are Hindu holidays. The last one was called Dwhali. (Not sure about the spelling).
1. How is the weather?
As for the weather…IT IS HOT. Imagine yourself as sweaty as you've ever been. Now it's on your arms and you are in Sunday clothes. I need to buy a handkerchief because you cannot wipe yourself with your sweaty arm or nice shirt. The thing about rain here is that when it does rain it's not heavy and it doesn't last. At least at this time of the year. So I guess that's why it's a pretty safe bet for the weather app to say it always rains.
I really want to eat healthy here. Most of the diet is rice and chicken and to buy anything else is tough. Today we went to a store called Chois. I bought a lot of fruit and veggies. Mom, would you mind sending me a recipe or two? Keep in mind we do not have a lot of access to the food you guys have there. I can cook,. I just need something to go off of.
2. How is your companion?
My companion is great. He is really patient. He is willing to try people even if we are confident they won't keep commitments. We had all of Saturday booked. The branch had a service that we were sure we would have to leave early due to the appointments, but by the end of the day we had learned that none of them ended up working out. People say they will be at their house and then you come and they are not there or they let you in but don't keep commitments. Or they avoid you. I almost think I'd rather have the door slammed in my face.?????
Funny thing about doors is that we don't knock. We stand outside of their house and yell "Klop Klop" (Dutch for knock knock) Kinda funny. Everything can get a little bit frustrating but we will figure it out.
3. How are the members and investigators?
Funny story from this week. We had a plan to go to a less active's house and try and help her become reactivated but I think she is just interested in finding different churches not in coming closer to Christ or hearing the gospel. We spent about 20 minutes on her doorstep as she explained to us that the meetings in our branch are "zai" (boring). She said she would like to see instruments and people clapping…. this… that… and the other thing. She also claimed that a branch in Parimaribo was clapping and singing loud (which isn't true) It was funny. I wanted to say something like "I feel ya, I would love a rock band in church too.”
We will see how this week works out. We are trying to schedule member visits and get referrals from them, rather than people we contact not showing interest.
This letter has been all over the place, but just know that with all the ups and downs it's been a great week. I'm excited and looking forward to this one. Oh and please send one or two recipes Mom. I want to eat healthy but we're a little limited.
I will try to get a dropbox set up since I think I will have a lot more pictures. All the pictures I send will be in different email.
I hope this email answered most of your questions.
Love you guys!
Elder Cole Cooper

Monday, October 27, 2014

1st Week in Suriname

Hey everyone! I made it to Suriname! I'm here safe, and everything went well traveling here. First things first. I feel really bad because this week was hectic and I came into the internet cafe and realized I had taken no pictures! I feel really bad. But I promise there will be like 10 next week. I want you to see my apartment, companion, and a couple of the people that I met that are really cool.
To start out, I'll talk about my companion. Elder Beckstrand is from North Ogden Utah and has been out in the mission field for 1 1/2 years. He served in Alabama the first bit of his mission, and then got his visa. He is cool. He's soft spoken and he is really patient with people. He sees the good and even though people have a hard time making it to church he is patient, still loves them, and can see what they can become.
The apartment is nice. Since the humidity gets bad they don't have carpet. So it's all tile. Every apartment has a filter so even if the water wasn't filtered it would be fine. Elder Beckstrand has used an unfiltered faucet to brush his teeth and has never been sick from it. Apparently most of the water in Suriname is fine. Our apartment also has air conditioning which is really nice when we get home at the end of the day.
I like the area and the branch. It's different here. The people live in really humble circumstances. Almost half of the people we visit live in wood shacks that don't take up a lot of space. They are really nice people though for the most part. There is one recent convert named B- who only speaks the local language called Sranan Tongo and French. It's tough teaching him because Sranan is a basic language so words like Agency don't exist. He has a French book of Mormon and he reads and highlights what he likes. He can only read so much and so fast in French or Dutch though. I can only imagine how tough it is for him in church. The meetings are in Dutch and so he can only can get so much out of it. It would be an easy excuse for him not to come but he comes anyway. In Gospel Principles he read quietly aloud to me from the Dutch copy of the Book of Mormon. It was really cool to see. I'll get a picture with him this week so you can see. He is really awesome.
We have focused a lot this last week on less actives and recent converts. On average they have about 65 people come to church and you need a 100 to have a building made. Right now they just rent out a building. My first Sacrament meeting was a Primary Program. All the kids were dressed in lime green and shared their testimonies and small talks. It was cool. The members are nice and I'm excited to meet more of them and to get to know them better.
As for the language I have a hard time understanding the people. They speak with a "wa" the same way we pronounce the letter, but it's tough because all I had heard in the MTC was pronounced with a "v" they also speak really fast! Especially the younger people. We visited one member who had two girls there that were like 17 or 18 years old. I'm not sure how they are all related, but the younger ones were saying all kinds of stuff about how dangerous the neighborhood was. It was basically a lot of rumors and nonsense. They asked for a Book of Mormon so we handed them out but we are not sure if they will begin to be progressing investigators.
As for the food, it's ok. It usually has curry in it, and most of the dishes here have chicken in them. It tastes fine but I know I won't want to have a lot more of it come a year from now. They have their own soda company which is pretty good. It's different a little bit from soda we have in America but the stuff in Suriname is still good. Fruit comes and goes out of season, which is crazy to think about. In America we always have access to whatever fruit we want, or vegetable. Here you have to wait until they come into season. What I will say is that we take a lot of things for granted. Just our home and the access to a variety of foods in general.
The music here is terrible too by the way. I swear it's the same music in the background just different words. I hate to say it, but one of the first things I will do when I get home is listen to good music. What was fun is when we went to an investigators home and someone had I'll Be There For You by Bon Jovi playing from a speaker. It was a nice change from the music here.
The climate here is hot. They say that this is also the hottest time of the year and that this year in particular is one of the hottest years in a long time. Just in time for me to make it.
Well I've got to run but I will see you all next week! With pics!
Elder Cooper

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finished with the MTC!!

Me and Brother Norton

An Elder who went to Sweden

My weekly submission to Nat Geo

Hey guys!! I just wanted to thank everybody that sent me a letter or package while I was here. It means a lot and it confirmed to me what I already knew and that is that I'm loved.
So everyone wants to know if me and my district got our visas and I think we are good to go. All of us got our individual flight plans and it shows us landing in Trinidad. I guess they tell you by where your travel plan says you're going. Needless to say we are all super excited.  
As far as contacting you guys, the rules they gave us are that parents can't meet their missionary at the airport. What we can do though is use some calling cards (like the ones you gave me Mom) and call during our layovers. I don't know how it works and I don't how long we will have to go through security and customs but I will do my best to send out a quick call to you as often as I can. 
I know they will need to see my collar bone Mom, I'm ready for it. I also have all the important documents in the same place, as well as my passport. It'll be good. We're in a group of 17 so we'll have each other's backs. I guess there are 12 others going to the West Indies at the same time. I'm honestly so ready to go. The food here is just not doing it for any of us any more. We also could use a bit of a change in routine. 
So just yesterday was our last lesson with one of our teachers. He and his family are going on a vacation so he is leaving tomorrow. We have had some amazing spiritual experiences with him. We joke that he will be a prophet some day. His name is Brother Norton. I'll include a picture. 
So on Monday he went into a two hour long spiritual thought that answered some of our doctrinal questions. It was sweet. He is really good with scripture references. Rather than just simply telling you, he took us to different scriptures from Old Testament, New, B.O.M D&C and Pearl of Great Price as well as teachings from the prophet Joseph Smith, and a quote by Kimball, to back up his answers. I'll summarize it down to the good parts. 
One of the things that we learned was that Jesus Christ attained Godhood before coming to the earth. A really interesting concept considering we have to come here and be tested before we can reach Godhood. Of course Jesus Christ was unique and had a different calling then us but Brother Norton shared a scripture from D&C 138:56 which reads "Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men." So part of our agency might have included receiving these lessons. Almost like going to church every Sunday. 
The other thing that was interesting to learn was that we showed our faith in the pre-mortal life. The scripture Brother Norton referenced was Alma 13:3 "And this is the manner after which they were ordained-being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God," This means that God carefully watched us in the pre-mortal world and called us to different things according to that knowledge. "on account of their exceeding faith and good works." Sometimes I wonder why was I born in the Church. Why am I blessed to live in a good family while others are not? This scripture offers some explanation as to why. That doesn't make me better than anyone since unto whom much is given much is required. But what was significant from that verse for me was that somewhere deep in my soul is the disposition to do good works and to be faithful. Sometimes I doubt myself and I wonder how can I have more faith. I need to realize that I have been faithful and that I can be. I just need to walk up to it. It gave me strength and faith to realize that I can do this. And that I can do hard things, through the Lord. 
I really hope this makes sense and if it doesn't just tell me and I'll try to send a letter to clarify. 
I'm excited and ready to go! I hope you all have an amazing week. Everybody is "peacing" out so I'll have to say goodbye. I'll email again on Saturday!!
Elder Cooper

P.S The one with the selfie is an elder who went to Sweden and is really funny. And the third is the weekly submission to Nat Geo
P.S.S. As far as I know we won't have to worry too much about being out in the jungle. The areas don't go out very far is what Brother Norton told us. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 6 Begins

Hey you guys!! "Hoe gaat het?"
Some good news. Conference was a fun change of pace from the monotony of the MTC. (You can tell I'm ready to get out of here). My favorite talk was a toss up between three. Elder Holland, who apparently was a favorite among all of us for his emotion and power. Elder Uchtdorf's talk on receiving personal revelation and using the right tools the same way astronomers view the night sky. If I had to choose one that stuck out to me that wasn't as obvious was D. Todd Christofferson on Saturday. He talked about personal accountability and being accountable for our actions stuff. He talked about how many people will make excuses for not reaching their potential. Some will say they lived in a poor family and couldn't get any opportunities, things like that. He shared the story of the mom who made all her kids read books and then report back to me. I interpreted that talk to mean that I am accountable for the success of my mission. If my mission isn't successful it won't be because of "negligence" from my mission president, or because my companion did/didn't do something, or a tough investigator. Odds are they are doing there part. It's on me to study, learn, grow, and then teach. There were plenty of talks that I liked and I took notes for almost all of them. 

So I'm debating which story I want to tell you. I think I'll explain the pictures of us with the headbands and the mustaches. So you can probably tell from the picture we don't take ourselves too seriously and try to have fun. Before gym we put on the headbands and mustaches, took some pictures and went off to play four square. I had never played the game before I got into the MTC, especially since it's more of elementary school playground game. But we make it competitive and try to keep it fun. Thus the headbands and mustaches, the fort, the assault tie headbands, etc. 
The other picture with us three in front of the temple is just a funny one. The sun was right in our eyes as I'm sure you can tell, and we decided to go one two three and then we'd open our eyes, but the elder taking the picture snapped it pretty quick. I think the picture says the rest. 
The other one is a super close up of angel Moroni, it was what I was going for the first time. 

The MTC is great but I'm ready to leave. We get our flight plans this Saturday, which is usually a good indicator of if you got your visa or not. We'll see. It's just a couple more weeks. The last week, after this Sunday, will be spent learning a second language specific to our mission. It's called Suranan Tongo, which according to our teacher that served there, is a language we will use for street contacts and Dutch will be used for lessons. We only get one week because it's really similar to English and will probably come fast. It definitely sounds cool. 

Anyways I got long winded this time, but I hope you guys enjoyed it. Week 6 starts right now. The time to leave is almost here. 
Totsiens! Veel success!
Elder Cooper  

P.S. Funny story about the g's. When I went to the laundromat the wash ruined only two pairs of g's. Just the top and bottoms of two sets... I ordered some new ones from the book store so I'm going to get those today. But that is definitely a tender mercy it didn't get all of my garments. All that happened was just purple spots on them. Don't know where from.

P.S.S. Speaking of the language, one thing I forgot to mention in the big email was that we took a Dutch test! The teacher, Brother Norton had 9 written questions and 1 oral question that we had to translate. The sentences were tough, but I didn't do bad. Just learned what I needed to fix. If I had the same motivation to do better in school that's how I would want tests to be. Not failing you or getting a grade, but just to see where you are at, and let you know where you can improve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week #4

Hey guys!! Week 4 is in the books, which is unofficially a month through my mission. I can do 24 of these easy. Haha just kidding. I'll get some of the questions that were asked out of the way first. 
Are you feeling better?
1. I'm feeling a lot better, but it is still kinda lingering. We'll see what happens, but if it's not completely better by Friday that'll be two weeks which isn't good. It's not bad as of right now. Just an occasional cough and then every hour or so I have to blow my nose. We'll see.
What was your favorite part of the week?
2. So my favorite part of the week, or the most interesting part I should say, was Sunday night devotional. I'm pretty sure the guy that gave it had prepared next to nothing. We had a special musical number before he spoke. It was a two person piano accompaniment along with an 8 person choir, 4 brothers, 4 sisters. All of the people in the number are teachers at the MTC. They sang "Joseph's Prayer." So his talk started fine. He had people stand for different things. If they were going to the area he went to you'd stand, if you'd gotten a dear john or dear jane then you would stand, stuff like that. Well after this he asks the special musical number to take their places and sing the song again. He then made comments on the First Vision. He followed this pattern until they had sung the song three times! I've often wanted to hear the special musical number again, but I wouldn't dare ask, nor would I make them do it three times. It wasn't bad by any means he actually gave some good thoughts, but the fact that he made them sing three times screams not prepared.
What was the worst part of the week?
3. It's pretty tough to have a "worst part" of the week when the MTC is as routine as it is. The toughest part really is teaching our "investigator." We cannot simply share a lesson with him unless we make it clear what we want him to get out of it and what actions we want him to take. Otherwise he will just absorb information the same way you and I might do for a test. I feel like we made it clear that this is more than just knowledge but something that when you actually live by the principles it will lead to comfort and a knowledge that  everything will be ok because the Lord is on your side. I'm sure we will figure it out, something that we say will hit him, or when he acts on one of the challenges we issue he will feel it. For right now though it's difficult planning for him. 

Other than that there is not much more to report about. The language is coming and we can almost say anything in a round about way, or with poor grammar but I think our point gets across. I think the rest of our MTC experience will be trying to sound like adults instead of children. Maybe my last week of the MTC will be in Dutch and you guys will have to use google translate. We'll see. 

I will share a "geestelijk gedacht" with you guys though. (See if google gets that one) 
Brother Norton, who we swear will be a general authority one day, gave us an amazing lesson yesterday. He shared with us how to keep a study journal and the importance of one. He showed us a binder that was filled to the brim with things that he had written down, impressions he had had, or notes on a talk he enjoyed. It was well organized and in his words was "one of the best souvenirs I brought home from my mission." The point of it was that he could write something down and then he would be able to access it again should he want to. It made me think of ways that I could organize a study journal in a way that I could do the same, access revelation I had already received. It made me want to take personal study seriously, and how I could make notes in scriptures or in a journal and what ways would be the most effective. I would want to take a picture of him for you guys but they usually have us do that towards the end. So I don't have a picture of him, but you will see him I promise.
General Conference is this Saturday too, so that'll be cool to receive impressions and listen to talks that I can apply to myself, especially in an environment like the MTC. There are also some positives to not having to go to choir practice. The other three guys in our district that have had to go are sacrificing their gym time, which is rough. Gym time is really the only break to an otherwise restless day. 

Well that's all I got for you guys. I'll caption these pictures and hopefully it'll be good for you. I'll try to come up with other creative things. . Have an awesome week you guys!
Elder Cooper

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Week 3 Is In The Books!!!

(This is everyone in the computer lab...)

Hey you guys! Week 3 is in the books. Not much has happened since we last talked. As one Elder put it, "the MTC honeymoon has worn off." I'm sick though. I have no doubt that I got it from one Elder who has been sick since like day 5 and as far as I know has not been to a doctor. I'm fine. It's more of a nuisance than anything else, I just hope I start feeling better soon because speaking the harshest language in the MTC while your sick is no fun. The MTC choir is going to be singing in priesthood. They can only take so many though and I ended up not making it. Three other elders in my district did though so that's cool. We had to take a survey and rate ourselves and considering that I have never sang in high school choir and can't read music well enough to sing to it, I didn't like my chances.

But enough bad news. Some good stuff did happen this week. I got to perform in the choir that sang to an apostle that came yesterday. The apostle was M. Russel Ballard. It's crazy because I think most missionaries go through the whole MTC not hearing from an apostle and I've heard two. Since conference is so close it must be because they're all in town. Needless to say I'm grateful. He talked about being a missionary (duh). One of my favorite parts of it was when he talked about how important it is to remember the worth of souls. Elder Ballard explained that behind every person, is a soul. However bad that person may be, God loves them and it would mean so much to Him to have them back. One of the funniest parts was when he said "When you get to be my age, the alarm goes off and you think 'wow I'm still here guess I'd better get up.' and then you go and do the best you can." The last thing he talked about that I'll share is how from time to time he will hold personal interviews with himself and evaluate where he really is, and if he is giving the best he can. 
Another cool thing that happened this week is our teacher, Brother Norton, wanted to have one on one time with each of us, trying to get to know us better. He started with me yesterday and I really enjoyed it. He gives the most amazing lessons and has a fascination with the gospel it just rubs off. In this one on one session I asked him how you teach investigators that believe that every church is good and that it doesn't matter as long as you believe in God. The reason why I asked is because we got a new "investigator" and those are his beliefs. We turned to Preach My Gospel and looked at a section that talked about listening. He explained that one of the characteristics of a successful missionary is to listen and to discern what the concerns of an investigator really are. Brother Norton talked about how in his mission (he served in Suriname) he would have upwards of 7-8 appointments a day, there was no way he was able to make lesson plans, it would get too complicated. He said that what they did instead was have a topic that they wanted to talk about and then trust in each other to say the right things. What this did was force them to listen to each other and also to listen to the investigator. He explained that when you listen to the investigator and then form your thoughts from there you make them pay attention because your talking about their life, and their concerns. It reminded me of what you would say, Dad. How when you're at work you have to be willing to listen to the customer and listen to their concerns and help them to feel comfortable about it all. Needless to say I really enjoyed it and it made me set the goal to really not focus so much on trying to teach everything in the lesson or everything we had planned, but rather to focus on what the investigator needs. It's tough because we still aren't perfect with the language and what we want to say sometimes can't be said the way we want it to. 
Anyways, Week 3 in the books, it doesn't feel like I've been here for that long. As far as visa stuff goes I don't think we get to hear about it until like the weekend before we leave which is frustrating but it is what it is. 
Love, Elder Cooper

(These two pictures are my submission to National Geographic...)
Take a look at the bees...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Letter #2 from the MTC

Me and Elder Paul Lebaron, a friend from High School

This is my district...
 From left to right: Elder Bowen, Elder James, Me, Elder Dibb with the mask and Elder Carpenter peeking from behind the wall. We all have water bottles with a hole in the cap or squirt guns so we can wage war with the other elders in our zone. 

A fort we made in our room last night celebrating P-day eve.

Hey you guys! It sounds like everyone has a ton of questions, which is good because there is not so much to write about this week as there was last week. 

For starters though I think I need to tell everyone that mtcdelivery.com works. I think the modern age has ruined communication cause I hear elders around campus saying stuff like "I don't think my family got my letters." and then people who write me say they don't think I got their dear elder letters. I feel bad because I can't always write a letter back right away but I promise I get the letters people send on mtcdelivery.com and it's honestly the best to hear from you guys. So if you guys have like a funny story you just need me to hear, write it on dear elder and I promise I'll get it the next day. We check our mail twice a day.
Anyways, I'll answer the blitzkrieg of questions that I got.
1. Who are your roommates? Where are they from?
All of my roommates are from Utah except one who's from Pennsylvania. (The one is Lizzy's stake) I realized I didn't give descriptions to the email last week so I'll try to do better there.
2. When do you go on temple walks? 
We do temple walks every Sunday but they don't like us telling what time since people like to meet their parents who "just happened to be there." Every P-day we go to the temple, last week we did initiatory's, and today I think we are planning on doing endowments.
3. How is the Dutch coming? Do you have to speak Dutch all the time? 
Dutch is coming along more and more. We are now starting to learn some complex sentence structures which is exciting. Every other day or so we will have a lesson with an "investigator" (just our teachers pretending to be an investigator) those lessons are all in Dutch. Other than that we can speak as much English as we want unless the teacher asks us to speak Dutch.
4. How is the food at the MTC? Have you gained weight? 
The food is good. Just a ton of carbs which explains why elders gain so much weight. I came into the MTC about 154 pounds and when I weighed myself today it was 157 so there ya go. As far as eating the wrong food and getting sick I don't think there is anything to that. Just as long as you don't eat the fish they make sometimes. haha. There is a cold going around though, I've managed to avoid it so far so that's good.
5. What time do you wake up every morning?
The schedule says bedtime at 10:30 wake up at 6:30 but it's closer to go to bed at 11:00 for us. It's not so bad when there is about an hour or so before gym so we just get breakfast and then fall right back asleep.
6. How many missionaries will be in Suriname? 
There was 20 missionaries when we arrived and 6 more left just last week. So with all of us together there are 30 or so missionaries. 
7. Are you O.D.ing on the snacks we are sending you? 
I love receiving packages from you guys, and I don't think I've missed one but I think it'd be better to send letters for about a week so we can catch up with all the candy we have. Plus I like hearing about your guys' life more than the candy. Haha

The highlight of this week was easily having an apostle speak to us for tuesday night devotional. Richard G. Scott was the apostle and he spoke a lot about prayer. The talk was broadcasted to all the MTC's around the world which was sweet. We stood up when he entered and everyone took a ton of notes. My favorite part was when he shared a scripture that said "Whatsoever ye shall ask the father in my name shall be given you, that is expedient for you." Basically what that means is that when we ask the Lord for blessings or help he will give it to us. If we need it. I think sometimes we lack the patience or the faith that God has a plan for us and he knows what's best for us. So this week I'm going to try and be more patient and know that if I don't receive the answer right away I either don't need it, or I don't need it right at that moment. 

I'm sorry this email is more of a Q&A type email rather than me just saying a whole bunch of stuff that I feel. But not much happened besides an apostle for Tuesday night so it's cool. 
I think we just try and make stuff fun here at the MTC since it can get very routine. (Hence the funny pictures) 
Tots iens (Good Bye)
Love Elder Cooper

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lost Letter Arrived

We knew that Cole had written us a letter. But it was taking forever to get here. We thought it had gotten lost in the mail. After receiving his email this morning we got a bonus letter in the mail!

1st Real Letter From the MTC

Hey you guys!! Thanks so much for your emails! PDay is the best...new sheets, clean gym clothes, and time to write home. It's such a big deal that the other elders in the zone read a poem out loud that is dedicated to PDay. It's sweet. I'm in a trio companionship which is really nice at least to start, because when we teach we do not have to worry about saying so much stuff in Dutch. We taught an investigator that only speaks Dutch on like the second day!! I'm not sure if he's an actual investigator or not but either way we still have to do our best and it's a struggle to answer questions he has. Our lessons are highly scripted which can make it difficult because that's not how your supposed to teach. It's gotten better though. We can understand a lot more about what our teachers and investigators say so it helps when we want to answer questions. It's still tough because our vocab needs work, and I'm pretty sure our grammar is worse than a 2 year old.
I like the guys in my district. There's five of us to a room and we are all going to Suriname. We get along well and have some funny stories. Both of my companions are the only two people we knew were coming to the same mission before I left so that's kinda cool. (That's WAY cool!!)
A typical day here is wake up, get a sack breakfast and eat, go to gym for an hour where you can work out or play basketball, get dressed, go to class, lunch, class, dinner, class, and then bed. We spend so much time in class and almost three quarters of the time is spent studying or practicing the language. The other time is spent in personal study, which is nice because it's in English. The other Elders that speak Dutch have been really encouraging and helpful in helping us figure out what we can do to learn the language quicker. it was funny because about four days after we came in the other Surinamese Elders were getting packed and ready to leave. But at around 10 they came into our room and read us a pretty cool poem. Apparently two elders before the ones that just left were good poets so they've handed down that tradition of reading them. The other tradition for Dutch speaking Elders is to sing a Dutch funeral hymn. It has like the happiest tune but it's for a funeral and I've only ever heard it in Dutch. It basically means, "We shall meet again." I'm pretty sure that's what it means. 
It's been an amazing spiritual experience as well. On Sunday we had the chance to go to our choice of  a film showing. Everyone that had been here before told us to go to the film called, "Character of Christ" which is a devotional talk Elder Bednar gave a couple years ago on Christmas Day. It apparently is only shown here at the MTC which is kinda lame because I think it'd be really cool for you guys to see it. Because it's a devotional talk Elder Bednar can say some things that he otherwise wouldn't say. For example, he talked about how he thinks the epitome of the natural man is the cookie monster...(Will have to go into more detail later...)It was great because you don't get to see that side of him during Conference. Basically what the talk was about is how Christ never once turned inward and started to feel sorry for himself. He always kept his integrity. He said for the most part you gotta find out examples for yourself but he did give one. The example he gave is how after the Savior had fasted for 40 days he was then tempted by Satan, and the midst of all that temptation and obvious struggle for fasting so long, the scriptures talked about in the footnotes how Christ sent ministering angels to John while he was in jail. Elder Bednar talked about how while we are on our mission we need to turn outward instead of inward. He even went so far as to say, "Get over yourself!" Which was honestly the funniest thing. It was cool to see that side of him. I enjoyed the talk, needless to say. 
Other than that there is not much to say about this week. The only thing I don't like really are the showers. Because there is only like 15 or so for a whole floor of people and they can only clean the showers so often. Everything else though is great. The teachers for our Dutch class are awesome and very encouraging, companions are good and feeling is just good vibes. 
I don't know why the letters I wrote didn't get sent. They haven't gotten put back in my mailbox which makes me think they sent fine. Not sure how it works. All I said really is that I'd like a 2nd shammy/terry towel, a couple more pairs of ankle socks, a brown belt, and more contact solution. (The water here is fine Mom.) And checking up on Boise State scores. Since I couldn't be any closer to BYU besides right on campus everyone and their dog are BYU fans so any other score doesn't really get mentioned. Apparently they had beaten Texas 40 something to 7. So I was kinda hoping for some good news as far as ironing out the wrinkles against Colorado State. 
Anyways, best of luck to you guys this week. I check my mail every day so if you send something on Dear Elder odds are I'll see it. i'm now 1/7 of the way through the MTC. Have a good week you guys and Happy PDay! 
Elder Cooper
PS. Oh, and can you real quick send me Aunt Celeste's email and home address? I wanted to write her thanks for the package. It was cool. Love ya guys!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014


Hey you guys!! They are giving me ten minutes to let you know that I'm alive! It's been overwhelming! The schedule is jam packed. We have very little time to ourselves. My P-Day is on Wednesday, which is nice cause it'll split the week. So expect a longer email then. I wrote a letter that goes into more detail about what it was like first day and who my companions are, what I need, stuff like that. As soon as I get the chance to get some stamps at the bookstore here I'll send it. Love you guys so much! Missing you!
Love, Elder Cooper

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Arrived At The MTC...Finally!!

Well, the day has finally come!! We dropped Cole off at the MTC yesterday! What a beautiful day it was. We were able to walk around the Provo temple and take some last minute family pictures. Cole was also able to send out his last tweet. He asked that I leave you with the scripture that he is going to put on his plaque. It is found in Romans 8:38-39. It states, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Remember that you are loved!! Thank you!!