"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, 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

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