"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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey guys! Thanks so much for all the emails! Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving on Thursday. We actually celebrated Thanksgiving today at a member family called the "S's." They are a really nice family. I don't know if you guys remember me ever telling an experience from the MTC where we got to meet a member from Suriname. Every time a new missionary comes along he shares the story of how he met us in the MTC last year haha. Either way, Bro. S is retired and so he gets to travel a lot. He has actually been to all the temples in Utah. Him and his wife prepared a great Thanksgiving.. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, etc. All the missionaries in Suriname were there. So, don't worry about us not getting to celebrate Thanksgiving. We are good here.
We had a baptism this week! Her name is E. She is an older lady from Guyana who made a lot of progression in the short time that we have known her. We actually almost stopped teaching her at first because she seemed adamant that she would not be baptized. But after inviting her to pray about it she came around. Within two weeks of our first meeting with her she came to church, then General Conference, and every sacrament meeting after that. She also read the Book of Mormon and had no question or doubt that it was true. It was really cool to see how the Relief Society President had supported her and helped us teach her. It'll mean so much for E when she can rely on her during struggles.
As far as the rest of the week goes, it's actually hard to say. We focused really hard on helping E make this baptism because we knew how hard Satan can work on investigators. Another highlight of the week was probably getting to go home teaching with one of the members to a less-active. We have been trying to do everything we can to get this member to come back. She was actually baptized in May of this year but has just not been feeling healthy enough to go to church the past month. She did not come to church this week, but seeing her home teacher just brightened up her day. They talked for a good 20 minutes or so before we actually got into the lesson. It was definitely a testimony builder for me that as a missionary, in fact just as a child of God, I can't do it alone. We visited her twice a week but she did not look as excited as when she saw a member from the branch.
I was thinking a lot about repentance this week and how important it is to help investigators understand it. A lot of the time as missionaries, and also so that we can keep things simple and easy to understand, we talk about repentance as a five or six step process that we go through before we receive forgiveness. As I was studying it though and pondering about it, I realized it's actually a lot more like what the GA's have been trying to teach about the Sabbath Day. What I mean by that is all the lists or steps are nice, especially when we need help understanding repentance or the Sabbath Day. But once we understand it, we can feel comfortable "throwing away the list" as Elder Nelson put it and realize that repentance is actually bringing our will in line with God's. That process can take more than just the five or so steps, and it may take more than just a week. It may take several steps, several weeks, even a whole lifetime. When I came to that realization it made me want to approach repentance with a lot more spiritual preparation behind it, to approach it with the question of, "what do I do or think that is not in line with what God does or thinks?" I don't know, it was a cool realization to come to for me.
Anyways! Love you guys so much! Have a great week!
Elder Cooper

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Crazy Week

So, this week was just absolutely crazy. In a good way of course, but very crazy.
It started off on Tuesday with zone conference. President Egbert, in case you guys didn't know, needed to go through an eye surgery a couple of weeks ago in the DR and had to stay there for about two weeks while he recovered. (Reading his weekly reports on what exactly had happened and how he was recovering was really cool for me because I want to go into eye surgery). He barely made it to Suriname on Tuesday. He flew into four countries in the course of 24 hours. I feel like that kind of travel can only happen in a place like the West Indies. So he made it to the scheduled day of zone conference and it was amazing. We talked so much about how we can hold better branch councils and work more with the members. It's interesting when we discuss things like that because we all try and imagine (as elders) what an effective branch council is like but we never sat in one at home and it's hard to tell when a branch council here is effective or not. I just imagine what it might be like to sit in a branch council with Bishop Sumner, or now Bishop Angerhofer and I can't help feeling like it's always how best to help people with a little bit of explanation on all kinds of doctrine. Maybe you can help me out on that one Dad? Anyways, it was really good. President Egbert encouraged us to visit more members and instruct them on how to better fulfill their callings. Zone conference always inspires me so I'm just pumped to go out and work.
Elder Hardy and the elders in his MTC group had to fly out to Guyana with about two hours left in zone conference so I felt bad for him because that would have made me a little upset. You might have to go to his mom for more details, but what I can say is that he went there before they had planned a return flight so he stayed there for about four days. In that time he was able to fall into a trench, basically just full of mud, tar, grime, and other assorted gross things. He was also bit by a ton of mosquitos and played monopoly. Good news is that we are back together.
As far as what I did in those four days. . . almost nothing! One of the elders that I was going to be in a trio with for the time Elder Hardy was gone started to get sick so for two of the four days me and Elder James just hung out in Elder James' apartment while the other elder slept. Me and Elder James worked together when I first came to Paramaribo North so we just caught up, talked about different struggles and successes in our missions. Fun stuff.
 I did get to go teaching with one of the AP's on Wednesday though. He is really cool. His name is Elder Sheen. He is a different type of leader for sure, in a good way. One of the first assistants that makes me feel like I can mostly be myself around him and not worry about what he thinks. He is a farmer from Canada so you could tell he just worked hard. He is an incredibly good teacher as well, I learned several things from him.
As far as our baptism, because Elder Hardy wasn't here and I couldn't really go teaching we could not prepare "E" well enough for last Saturday. After explaining all this she understood and prayed about it and wants to get baptized this Saturday on the 21. We are really excited for her. The members have been really helpful in picking up where we slack off or are not as organized so it's really cool to see.
As far as when I'm released August 21st sounds about right. My card that says I can proselyte and preach the gospel expires on the 22 of August so I imagine I would go home right before or right after that. I can ask President Egbert about it. I know some elders leave a transfer early but I will really like to avoid doing that. I'll let you know when I found out a little more.
Anyways, I think I have some pictures to send that I could not get to work last week. The picture of the package is a joke Elder Carpenter played on Elder Hardy. He had to deliver the package to us and before he handed it off he had written that cheesy note. The funniest part was that he did not immediately tell us he had done it. So to be honest, when I saw that note, I thought his mom had really written him that. Too funny.
I love you guys! Thanks so much for the emails and support. Tell Mitch and Cam I said hi! Have a great week!
Elder Cooper

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Refiner's Fire

Service Project at Palm Garden

Repainted the Playground

International Service Day
with the Branch in Suriname

All these pictures are from Elder Hardy and his Mom. (((HUGS)))
Cole forgot to send us some this week.

Hey family! Don't worry about the subject line. This week was actually really good!
To start off I do have to talk about the reason why the subject is what it is. On Thursday, we ran by one of our investigators named "B" He is a great guy. He teaches English and is very educated. In the last month or two that we have known him he has always admitted to struggles about his faith in God and especially faith in leadership, which made the concept of prophets very hard to accept. We were willing to work with him but when we tried to visit him after missing an appointment on Thursday his cousin came out and told us that he wasn't home and that he did not feel like he could meet with us further because of conflicting beliefs. It was really sad. We still want to call him and ask him about it personally but for right now it seems like he has dropped us. I know the only reason why the Lord would do that is because there are other people that need our help and focus. I know the Lord has other prepared people for us.
Despite that sad experience, the week was actually really good. We had a less-active we have been working very closely with finally come back to church after several years. He could only come to first hour, but that is a great first step. We hope we can see him start to come back more, because he is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder so the branch needs him.
We also had a lot of fun on international service day! There is a place called Palm Garden in the city that has just a bunch of palm trees everywhere. We helped to sand and repaint a playground in the garden. The other branches were busy in other parts of Suriname. It was a big enough thing we actually made the news!
Everyone is still on track for their baptismal dates! "E" came to church on Sunday and if everything goes well she will be baptized on Saturday. We are really excited for her.
I've taken a little too long writing this week, but next week will be quite a bit because zone conference is happening sometime this week. I'm pretty excited. It's always fun.
I love you guys! Hope you have an amazing week!
Elder Cooper

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Hey guys how is everyone doing? It sounds like it was an adventure for you guys this past week. Sometimes it feels like a lot more is going on than when I was there. I don't know if that is because I just hear a whole week's worth of events in five minutes or if we really are getting busier. Mitchell told me in an email that he got home and felt a little shell shocked. I probably will be shell shocked too just to let you know. There is no such thing as basements here, or insulated homes, or sidewalks.
So you guys are probably wondering about transfer calls. Well I don't know if it takes me more time to learn certain lessons on a mission or if the Lord wants me to finish what I started, I'm pretty sure it is both. But I will be serving in Paramaribo North as a district leader with Elder Hardy for one more transfer. That makes it five transfers that I'll have been here in Paramaribo. I have only known what it's like to be in an area for five transfers haha. I'm actually really excited. There are three people that could potentially be baptized this transfer that we have been working with for awhile. I'm grateful I get the chance to see it through, I know not a lot of missionaries get to experience that. I'm not saying it's a sure thing, it most certainly is not, but the possibility is exciting.
To quickly describe all three of these investigators I will start with "R." "R" is a really cool investigator that when the missionaries first met him he was in church the next week. I can see him being a very solid member. The kind that receives many callings and just holds the church on his shoulders. He was supposed to be baptized on Halloween (or kinderverkleedfestijn op de avond van 31 Oktober, which is not a good translation of Halloween, but one that we found in a dictionary) but it didn't work out. Mostly because of his work, but also because there are other things we have to figure out with him. He should be baptized on the 21st of November.
"E" is the other investigator that has made so much progress in the past transfer. We actually were near the point of dropping her towards the beginning. But we challenged her to pray and come to church and she came and agreed to a baptismal date on the 14th of November. We actually were in an appointment with her the other day and she was impressed with how we kept coming even when she was difficult sometimes. In reality she was not that difficult, just had concerns like every investigator does. She is from Guyana so our lessons are in English which is weird sometimes. You guys might find this weird, but sometimes it's hard to teach in English when you're so used to Dutch. We are excited for "E" though. She actually came to general conference for one session, which I think changed her a lot.
The last one is "J." You remember the picture I sent of our branch mission leader? The one with a long beard and dreads? "J" is his little brother. It's amazing how much culture can influence religion. He asks us all the time about little things like evil spirits, christening a house, etc. But he has a very strong desire to leave his old life behind. He says over and over again he wants to be converted to Christ, but he has fears about joining the right church. It is only recently though that he has been investigating even though he has wanted to sit with us for a long time. I'm sure his brother has had a huge influence on him. If he can become a member I definitely see him as the kind that just humbly tries to endure to the end and do what's right. Just like his older brother. He is cool. It's fun to answer a lot of his concerns because he asks good questions all the time.
Those are some of the people we are working really close with. I'm excited for them.
I was thinking a lot about the power of personal prayer today. I think back to a lot of the prayers I had when I was younger. I remember I always said nightly and often times morning prayers, but I definitely slacked on how often I said just a simple personal prayer at a random time. You know those prayers where you just talk to God? I thought a lot about how important it is to make every single prayer that way, even if we may not find ourselves in the hardest situation our prayers are still important. Our Heavenly Father wants to hear from us, our good times and our bad. I've realized a lot on my mission that when something is going well, it goes a lot better when we take just a couple of minutes to be somewhere quiet and tell the Lord how we feel. I feel like I've learned a lot about the power of sincere prayer on my mission. I'm not sure I would have learned that in any other environment. I know Heavenly Father always listens, to even the smallest things we think and say. I know he cares. I've felt that so much on my mission.
I love you guys! Hope everything goes well with Lore and Noah. Tell them I said hi and that I'm thinking about them.
Elder Cooper