"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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Don't Know What To Put In This Line Anymore

Hey family! Thanks for the email. Tell Tom I said hi, that guy is awesome. Man that's crazy to hear the Smith's moved. They will be missed. The ward is not going to look the same when I get back.
As for this week there is so much that I'm not sure I'll remember everything. So I'll start with what was probably the coolest thing.
On Wednesday there was a worldwide missionary broadcast, where several general authorities spoke; Neil L. Anderson, L. Whitney Clayton, David A. Bednar, Dallin H. Oaks and others. Apparently, it was the first worldwide devotional that the missionary department had held in almost a decade. They talked about how we as missionaries are to teach repentance and baptize converts. They talked a lot about the fundamental things missionaries get drilled into their heads all the time. I think my favorite is when Dallin H. Oaks spoke. He talked about how the ordinances of the fulness of the gospel are necessary in order to reach exaltation and that nowhere else can ordinances be found. He talked about how exaltation cannot be achieved by just simply "living a good life" not even living a good "Christian life" can do it. Basically the message was that missionaries shouldn't fear to raise a warning voice when they realize that eternal life, exaltation itself, hangs in the balance. If we don't tell people that then we deny them the opportunity to exercise their agency and change. That was a lot of paraphrasing and I'm sure more of it was what I learned from the Spirit but I liked it. I think it was a good reminder to go back to fundamental things. It reminds me of what President Uchtdorf said last conference about keeping things simple.
The next highlight involves a story. So, one of the investigators that we visit lives down a long overgrown road. It's overgrown because she is really the only one that lives down that road. On Friday we were biking down that road and saw out of the corner of our eyes what looked to be like a black  rubber hose, but when we turned around to be sure, it was actually a snake! I'm pretty sure it was an anaconda. Now, anacondas can get big, so to make sure my fish doesn't get bigger as I tell this story this anaconda was probably three feet long. As me and Elder Buehler pulled out our cameras to take a picture Elder Buehler jokingly said "Touch it" Now, most missionaries in order to assure their families that they are ok and that they needn't worry, would say something along the lines of "We laughed about that and then took this sweet picture and had a great lesson." But you guys haven't withheld any information about what is going on at home, (I'll use Keri's car crash as an example but there have been other things) so I will not withhold information from you guys. I reached down and touched this snake. Now I did not do this because of peer pressure, in my mind I was half-planning to do it already so the joke was just encouragement.  I must have held my hand there for about three seconds when he jumped back. I moved my hand out of the way in time so he missed. So the most important message from this story is that I'M OK! What this all resulted in though was a really good picture Elder Buehler got mid-jump! I'll send it to you guys in another email. Needless to say I got lucky and will probably, maybe not, be touching snakes in the future. JK, I won't touch any more snakes. Later on in the day there was a snake at an investigators house that got scared and ran away but still freaked out the investigator pretty bad. I felt bad for her.
Now for some spiritual stories. We found a less-active! Turns out he was baptized in Guyana several years ago and was just getting ready to leave for his mission when he got scared and the thought of a mission became too much so he did not go, and as a result, did not go to church from that point on. He moved to Suriname about three years ago and said that he wanted to come back but couldn't because the church was so far away and the services were only in Dutch. It was really cool when we tried to see how much he could remember  by sharing the Restoration. His neighbor sat in and I nearly broke down to see that he still remembered almost every detail about the Restoration and could explain it perfectly. We found out a little later in the lesson that he holds the Melchizedek Priesthood which is gold when you are trying to start up a group. It just goes to show that people more than likely still believe in the gospel when they go less-active.
Last story from the week comes from an investigator named "C." She recently had a co-worker die unexpectedly in a plane crash so when we came over she was still somewhat shaken. She broke down towards the beginning of the lesson and we took the rest of the time to have a really good lesson on the Atonement. It's the kind of lesson you live for as a missionary because  there is no doubt in your mind what you are sharing is inspired and is  what they need.
Well that was it from this week! Hope you all have a great one as well!
Love you!
Elder Cooper

Monday, January 18, 2016

Commewijne has officially begun!!!

Hey everyone! Well to start off the email this week I have to say that the first sacrament meeting in Commewijne was a success! It felt a little different because we were just sitting in chairs in someone's home. There was a total of 20 people there. So we just moved to form a circle after sacrament meeting and had sunday school with just the 20 of us. But it was still awesome! Everyone was very excited. The branch president wants to send the pictures he took to the local news of the Dutch Liahona and see if we can get in haha. If we do then I will be sure to get that magazine.
We also moved into our apartment. it's a very nice apartment. It may look a little small but I kinda like it that way. When it's smaller there is less room for clutter. That was always my pet peeve when I was in other apartments, because they were bigger. Missionaries in the past would just use the extra space to store things they didn't want to throw away or take the time to organize. Like the last apartment for example was just a closet full of stuff. There is no way that would fly in this apartment though. Dad, do you remember those times when you would randomly come into my room and try to help me clean off my desk and organize all my stuff and have all the things organized in draws with everything having it's own place? Well it worked. I've kinda become OCD about having a clean organized desk, so now I'll have to help my son when he gets his own desk, and then he won't learn until his mission just how true that was. The lessons you just have to learn on a mission are too many to count. Haha
We had a really cool day on Saturday. Just three back to back lessons meeting with sincere people. 
It has been really fun opening up Commewijne! People here have never seen missionaries. Many of them aren't even Christian. You can walk up to people and know they haven't seen missionaries or the Book of Mormon before and you can just talk about it. It'll be fun to see how next Sunday goes!
That was it from this week! I did get the package! Thank you guys so much for your emails! It really does mean a lot.
Elder Cooper

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Commewijne is starting!

Hey family! Thanks so much for all the emails. Carson, I'm super happy for you that you got to bless the sacrament for the first time yesterday. That was definitely a very spiritual experience for me every time I did it. I enjoyed it. Sometimes I wish I got the chance to do it more often. I don't think I got to do it with Dad for my first time so that just makes it even more special. It was also a really cool experience to get to pass the sacrament to all the people in the ward that can't make it to church because of health issues. It's hard right after church because you're hungry and a little tired and you want to get out of church clothes, but it's worth it.
As for this week the big news is that by 5 o' clock Surinamese time tomorrow, we will be in a new apartment! It's been a long time coming, it's definitely taught me to be patient with things. I'll be sure to take a picture of what our study room setup looked like before I leave. As you can guess, it was quite crowded. Also, the first sacrament service in Commewijne is going to be held in this Sunday! Everyone is pumped, the group leader has been called and we are going to help him with setup this Wednesday or Thursday. Because there are only a small group of people guaranteed to come, church is two hours instead of three. Hopefully now that we are going to be moved in we will see the work just sky rocket.
This week was a crazy one. A lot of appointments that we had made with people fell through. Which was a little frustrating but we took it as the Lord trying to lead us to someone who is truly prepared and there were some cool experiences!
One of them was when we went to a guy named "M." We had made an appointment with him on Tuesday which did not work out and so we tried him again on Thursday. He turned out to be a really cool guy. We taught him about the Restoration and he had several good questions about it. He was asking stuff like how is the priesthood given, who is it given to, all that stuff. Best part of the lesson was at the end when we asked if there were questions and he just said, "Well no, it just seems like the ball is in my court now." It's little things like that that tell you someone is ready to act, which is sweet.
Another cool moment was when we got to go to the new group leaders home. He asked if we could share a quick message with him and his family and then he would take us to a couple of family members and friends that he knew in the neighborhood. It was sweet! We met them all and set up appointments with them. It's cool to see all the excitement members are having about the group getting started. It gets all of us excited as well.
I've been thinking a lot this week about how it has been going trying to start up this new area. It's hard sometimes because besides two or three families the only people you have to visit are the ones you find. A lot of the time you make an appointment with someone and then when it comes time for the appointment they bail and come up with an excuse. It's frustrating, but it's all part of the fun of starting up a completely new area. It makes me think about how a lot of other prophets and missionaries started their areas. Ammon came into his new area and simply served and loved the people. The sons of Mosiah went and taught the Lamanites and almost turned back it got so hard. Alma gave up the judgement seat and the comfort of his own home to try and call the church to repentance. In all of these cases though the Lord had something prepared for them, Alma found his companion Amulek, the sons of Mosiah and Ammon had the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, it would have been easy for them to say "This is too hard" and just turn back. But they didn't. They knew the Lord had something for them and they stuck to it. I think we all experience that at some point in our lives. We get thrown into a new environment and it obviously gets too hard and the temptation is to just give up, but I like what I heard Elder Buehler tell an investigator this week. "There is little growth in a comfort zone and there is little comfort in a growth zone." I know the Lord has something prepared for us whenever he calls us to do something that is new, uncomfortable, or foreign to us. It's been a fun lesson to learn that and I'm still learning a lot about the truthfulness of that.
Thank you guys so much for all the emails! Have a great week!
Elder Cooper
P.S To explain some of these pictures: McDonalds never fails to deliver and as you can tell by the picture, I was impressed with their new idea of adding the tomato sticker label to their chicken mac.
The next one is a house the sisters found in their area. Nicknamed the "Smurf house" haha good stuff.
The last one is a picture of probably the best mango I've ever had. Most mangos here are very stringy and you mostly suck on them. This mango though was perfect. Wish you guys could have tried it.