"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

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