"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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Big News!

Bro. Turley, the assistant church historian. Bro. Turley is touring the mission with the Egberts and gathering historical information on early converts in each country.

Happy Easter! Hope everyone had a good Easter weekend. That photo scavenger hunt sounds pretty crazy. I feel like that game might have shown a little bit of favor to the girls before it started though. :)
This past week was pretty crazy. I think the meeting with the Church Historian was my favorite part though. His name is Bro. Turley and he gave a pretty good presentation about the Prophet Joseph Smith's story. It was pretty cool because he talked a lot about the personality of Joseph Smith which surprisingly doesn't get brought up too much. There were so many details that it would take forever to write them all. I think the highlight for me though is when we compared and contrasted the Prophet's early journal entries with the Book of Mormon manuscript. Joseph Smith hated writing and a lot of the time he would dictate the things he wanted to be written. It was amazing to see how Joseph Smith's lack of education showed in the things he wrote by his own hand. There were several grammatical errors, a couple of spelling mistakes, and he had crossed out an entire paragraph. At the very end of that journal entry it was clear to see that he had noticed his weakness and wrote a small but simple prayer to the effect of "Oh may God grant the success of his servant in this sacred work." I'm paraphrasing, but it was clear that he had seen the weakness in writing and knew he would need strength. After reading some of the things he taught out of things like Teachings of the Presidents of the Church it is clear that the Lord was able to take him to a lowly status to one where he could give amazing sermons and powerfully worded discourses about the Gospel. But his early journal entries, contrasted with the Book of Mormon manuscript was night and day. The Book of Mormon manuscript just flowed smoothly, no grammar mistakes, nothing crossed out and reworded, just one smooth narrative. It was pretty cool.
All of that definitely helped me to gain an appreciation of just how much the Lord qualifies whom he calls. He took someone like Joseph Smith and through him brought the Restoration of all things and helped Joseph Smith become one of the best teachers of the gospel and one of the most Christ-like individuals. It's clear from that example and then just instances in my life that the Lord will just make things work, despite the fact that we are imperfect.
Not much else happened in the week, we had the flu so we had to stay in on Friday. It was the first day I ever had to stay in because of sickness which meant I couldn't fulfill the dream of being the Cal Ripken Jr. on my mission. But now we are fully recovered.
I'm excited to watch General Conference and to listen to the talks and references to the resurrection of Christ. I'm grateful for the hope that the resurrection gives us. Because of that we do not have to worry or fear if death will last forever. I like the way it is worded in Alma 22:14; "the sting of death is swallowed up in the hopes of glory."
I hope you have a great week!
Elder Cooper
P.S. There is no "big news" as the subject line states. I was going to pull an April Fools joke on you and tell you that I decided to extend my mission. ;)

Monday, March 14, 2016

These Days Are Fast

Hey family,
It's crazy how fast time has flown by. Elder Beuhler and I  joked around earlier this morning that it seems like only two hours ago that we emailed our families so it's hard to remember sometimes what we need to write about.
I've really appreciated the emails you've sent in the past little while about families and family history. This story I'm about to share needs to be given some context to get the full gist of it but it here it goes.
Every transfer the district and zone leaders gather together for a quick hour to plan out things like exchanges and p-days. But also we discuss what we can do to help the zone grow. It's very similar to a branch council or other council in the church, it's pretty cool. We were talking about how we could be more "full-purpose" missionaries and we were talking about how it would be cool to share the spiritual experiences we had about having our prayers answered. The reason why we chose this as our goal was because we didn't want to focus on a number as in "so many member referrals" or whatever but we wanted to allow every companionship to seek after the thing their area needed the most and to pray and even fast for it and then when we went into district meetings we could report those spiritual experiences and be uplifted by all the experiences everyone had. One of the things we mentioned is that often times we ask the Lord for a specific blessing and then forget to look for it later, never realizing that the Lord answered our prayers. It reminded me of my time in Paramaribo North. It was a real struggle to try and find people in that area. It was even more of a struggle to find families and I had a very strong desire to find a family to bring into the church. I must have asked for that in prayer for two whole transfers. After awhile we found "E" and I always figured that was what I was supposed to do in that area and kinda stopped praying to find a family.
Now, after two transfers in Commewijne I realized that the Lord has answered my prayer in his way. We are teaching more part-member families than I have ever taught in my mission. In that way the Lord has answered that prayer of finding a family.
My testimony has definitely been strengthened of how the gospel blesses families since having come on my mission. It has become very clear over the past year and a half that Satan attacks the family on as many fronts as he can. He will do everything he can to have a broken up family keep someone from accepting the fulness of the gospel. There are many people who've told us we can't come anymore because their parents don't want them to accept visits from us, or the spouse does not agree with the religion and so we can't come anymore. That being said, there are many that I've seen accept the gospel, together as a family. Sometimes it was through efforts in my area and other times through efforts by other missionaries. I've come to realize that when it comes to missionary work, everyone takes a part and every part is necessary. No one did the work "all by themselves." Usually, someone sews the seed, another finds the sprout, and yet another cultivates it into the tree.
I'm really excited for this transfer because I'm going to keep track of what I ask for in prayers and then write down when or how that prayer is answered in my journal. I'm hoping it'll really open my eyes to just how much the Lord gives his tender mercies and just how much he answers our prayers.
A lot of cool things happened this week, one of our investigators asked to be baptized during gospel principles, another couple of investigators agreed to have their spouse sit in the upcoming lesson, and we met the wife of one our less-actives. I wish I could go into more detail about that, but I wanted to share that spiritual experience. I'll talk about the investigators a little more next week, because they should be able to just sky-rocket in their progress.
Love you guys!
Have a good week!
Elder Cooper

Transfer Call

(This email was from March 7th, 2016)

Hey family. So apparently it was a big deal to know where I was going to go for this next transfer. So I will start with that news, I will be staying in the Commewijne area for another 6 weeks! Me and Elder Buehler were discussing it the week leading up to the transfer call and we both agreed that there is just too much left undone to take either one of us out. We have several people on a baptismal date for the middle of April and we both want to see those people through. Me and Elder Buehler are excited to stay together this transfer. We enjoy working with each other and we are excited to see how much more Commewijne can grow in the coming month and a half.
I will still be the district leader which I'm excited for. I like being the district leader, it's a good time.
I have definitely gained a stronger testimony of visual aids in the past two weeks. For the most part we used things like the Resto video for those investigators whose understanding is a little slower, but this week we saw it really help an investigator of ours named "M", who is actually really quick at understanding. He was supposed to come to church last week but then his work called him in and asked if he could work for the next two weeks. When we sat down with him it was a little difficult at first because he had some questions about different church policies, which are not bad questions but a thought that kept coming to my mind was how the only question that really needs to be settled is if Joseph Smith is a prophet and if the Book of Mormon is true. After sharing the Resto video the Spirit helped him to come to that same conclusion and that he needed to start making it a priority to pray and read daily. He came to that conclusion all on his own which was super cool. Seeing the video really helped him to see how much of a priority Joseph Smith made it to find his answer and how he could go about doing the same thing.
Last week we found someone that is super prepared! Her name is "Z". She is probably in her 30's and lives alone, but when we first met her she said that she was not currently going to a church since none of them would baptize her! We explained that we could do that but that we would want to explain what needs to happen. She came to church for the first time last week and this past Sunday was her second time. She likes it and expressed her desire to stay in this church which was super cool. During the lessons she always says how the other churches don't teach her these things, for her it's kind of a testimony builder that this is where she needs to be. She agreed to be baptized on the 16th of April so we are excited.
I've definitely gained a testimony in the past two transfers of how much this gospel benefits families. In my last area it was really hard to meet with families since most people either lived alone,were retired or not everybody in the family was interested, which made things really difficult in helping people come closer to Christ since they did not always have family support. In Commewijne we have had several families all together start investigating which is super cool. I'm excited to see the progress they all make.
Hope you have a great week!
Love you!
Elder Cooper