Monday, February 2, 2015

If You Haven't Left... LEAVE! :)

I've been thinking about what I might want to say for this last post on my blog. That attempt ended up about how thinking about what to say in my farewell testimony did. I got sad, had a million different ideas about what I might want to say, and then gave up and figured I'd wing it. So here we are.
I know lots of different random people read this (it comes up on Google pretty easy I here haha. I've even heard that I am on Pinterest!). I know not all of you are young, single members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but to those who are I wouldn't want to end this blog experience without telling you... If you haven't served a mission... do it now!! It's the best! :) 
This applies to all who read. I want everyone to know that I have had some of the best days of my life out here preaching the truth. I know that this Gospel is the way to all happiness. On my mission I have seen the light that comes in to others' lives as they center their focus on the Gospel, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, their families, and their desires to come in line with the commandments of Heavenly Father. 
Seeing this change has brought me great happiness, as has experiencing it. I now love to study the scriptures every morning. I'm not so painfully addicted to the computer (hopefully that doesn't change as soon as I get hands on an Apple product). And I love to share the Gospel. Restrictions of the mission that once bothered me have since become challenges that I've recognized help all of us missionaries access the Atonement, and experience "mighty change" like our investigators do. 

Where I'm reading in the Bible, Paul tells the Corinthians that he must become as the poor to gain the poor as converts, and as the Jews to gain the Jews as converts. And we out here become as our people. We live in their towns, we drink the same orange-ish water, we make do with limited transportation, ect. But most of all, we learn about the Atonement with them. And I love that! :)
There's much more I could tell you about this week and about my mission... if I didn't have a little timer ticking at me on the computer. To end, I will explain the title.
Back in August when Elder Zwick came to the mission, lots of the mission leaders were super stressed about making a good impression and making sure everyone was on time.  Two hours before the conference, every missionary in the Pensacola Zone got the following text:
"If you haven't left... LEAVE!" and it's something I have quoted ever since.
And I quote it to you know... if you haven't left, either on a full-time mission, or just haven't left your comfort zone and engaged in this work of salvation... LEAVE NOW! :) 

Get out here! (either literally or figuratively). I have never been happier than I have been fully immersed in this work. I love the Lord and this Church, and I love being a missionary. You will too.
Thank you for y'alls support. I LOVE YOU, HAPPY FRIENDS, FOLLOWERS, and FAMILY!!! See some all y'all on Thursday night!
D&C 45:62 :)
-Sister Laura Cooper

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Another Week at the Beach

Monday, January 19, 2015

I've Seen an Apostle... and Tallahassee too!

The secret is out! Elder Andersen of the 12 came to our mission and we all got to meet him. He inspired me to have the faith to do more miracles. :) The drive out there was long and boring! There is nothing to see between here and Tallahassee except a bunch of trees and little towns with grocery stores and gas stations. It's pretty crazy though that I'm serving in the Florida Tallahassee Mission and I'm almost done and I have seen Tallahassee only twice. The first time was when when I flew in to the Tallahassee airport, and the second time was just now. The third time will be flying home haha.

Elder Andersen answered questions missionaries had on the subjects of faith, self control, miracles, and agency. Somehow he made that all into one talk. He spent a long time talking about D&C 97:8, which I really like now. I've been studying on keeping covenants, and that scripture tied it together for me. 

On the drive home we stopped in Niceville for some chic fil a. I saw one of my former investigators there. That was awkward. He bashed on Sister Milne and I for like an hour the last time we taught him. I was friendly though... Most of the drive was through this dark, misty tunnel of trees... Again. 

Other excitement of the week... Lots of good stuff happened at church yesterday. Ramon kept the door during the sacrament, and Andrew, another recent convert blessed it. The ward mission leader and I both gave talks on the Spirit I think it was kind of supposed to be like my in field farewell talk. 8O

Also, we were able to get back up with Virginia and Anthony after their vacation. They went to Utah and loved it, especially temple square. Hopefully that inspires them to learn and do more. 

That's the highlights! Gotta split. Love y'all!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cured of Member-itis

Maybe I have told all y'all before about the strange and non-helpful trait I picked up in the backwoods of Brewton, AL. It's called Member-itis, and it is defined by this feeling I have as a missionary that I don't want to be around active members of the church. It's probably just because I spent like 8 months in a place where everyone was either a recent convert, less-active, or nonmember. I felt like a fish out of water in active members' homes.
Well, I think that is cured now that I've seen the light above the trees. Members are awesome! We had a sweet baptism this week, as expected. I love teaching the Robles' family! (District moment right there). Ernestine and Ramon have looked forward to Ernestine's baptism for several months now and finally it's happened. The members of the Navarre Ward played a really crucial role in their journeys into the church by having them over for dinner, home teaching them, ect. They would never have come this far without members' help.

Ramon is a recent convert, and baptizing Ernestine was his first time using the priesthood. Both of them together in the font, not really sure what to do next earned a place as one of the cutest things I've seen on my mission. While they both changed into their dry clothes, the rest of us watched some mormon messages and we tied them in to the Gospel being a new start. It was sort of impromptu, but I think it worked. Everyone cried so...

Other excitement of the week included Stake Conference. I saw a few members from Jay and Brewton. Some of the conference dragged on and on, but I liked that President and Sister Smith talked at them. President saved it from being a conference all about the ideal ward council... Hooray. We also interviewed with him this week. I discovered that I really needed that interview. He says my companions speak well of me, which I was worried about! I asked him if I can extend my mission since I was training haha. He said it's possible, but not because I already have a plane ticket. Oh well haha.

While waiting for my appointment in Pensacola, I found a new good scripture, spoken about Peter and John, if I'm not mistaken. Acts 5:41. As we witness of Christ and suffer some trials in doing so, we can know that He is counting us worthy to do so. :)

Only like 3 more blog posts. ;( Maybe when I get back I can keep blogging about how I wish I was on the mission! 

-Sister Laura Cooper

Friday, January 9, 2015

Companionship Family

Happy New Year, happy followers! How was y'alls testimony meetings? Ours contained several accounts of the year "2013" and how it went. I guess 2014 went by a little too fast for some people. 

Aaaah the adjustment to a trio. I've decided this is helping me get ready for the real world pretty much. Because when I go back to BYU, I'm going to have to adjust to having my world be more than just one person all day everyday.

The change has made for a long week, but I'm enjoying it. Sister Seegrist and Sister Blake are not so much like companions to me as little siblings who are funny and sweet, but leave me exhausted at the end of everyday. They make everything interesting though. I've laughed a ton this week haha. 

We've also had good successes with the work since we've been together. We are going to start teaching the full lessons to a part-member family we have been visiting for a while. We found another person to teach while out walking to a member's house. Her name is Ashley and she's met with missionaries before because she has a member relative, but has forgotten over time exactly what we believe. We get to go back and see her this week.

Oh hey, I gave my farewell testimony at zone training this past tuesday. Oh the horror of that statement. At least it's a 7 week transfer, right? Elder Egbert, one of the Navarre Elders, is the only other one in our zone going home this transfer, and since he's a zone leader, he gave his testimony while up teaching in zone training. So at the end it was just like... "now we'll turn the time over to Sister Cooper." Awkward haha. Most people have a group to go with. Not me...

It's going to be an exciting week ahead. Ernestine is getting baptized this weekend... yay! And we have interviews with President... :O #troubletroubletrouble

Yeah yeah. I'm a little scattered this week. Y'all should watch the Mormon Message "Look Not Behind Thee". I think it's right up there with "He is the Gift" as far as holiday-themed Mormon Messages go. It's New Year's Themed.

Be blessed!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Make Room

You know when you have one of those weeks where you know a lot of good stuff happened, but all you can remember is like one to two crazy things.
I guess no one would understand that unless they are a mission blogger. So you know, it happens to me all of the time haha.
But now that I think about it, there have been several memorable events this week. First of all, a crazy storm went through the mission on Tuesday. The power was out in a lot of the Gulf Breeze Sisters' area during the day. For the most part in our area, power stayed on. So it wouldn't have affected our day much if it weren't for the fact that we were planning on spending the evening with the Gulf Breeze Sisters, caroling in both of our areas. While we were out caroling, it started pouring down rain. One member family we caroled let us in for some hot cocoa, and while we were there, they lost power, as did the entire course of our drive home. So after our cocoa, I drove us home through the rain, on a busy highway, with no street lights or stop lights. But the Lord blessed me with good night vision that night, so we made it in safely! :)

Another obvious highlight of this week was Christmas! Even though in big wards it's a pretty chill day because every member wants you to come over and stay for like 3 hours of dinner, gift exchange, Mormon message watching, ect. Facetime home was a lot of fun, and pretty different than the first time and the second. I guess it just feels different when we're getting back together pretty soon. And shout out to everyone who sent us anything (including prayers and cards haha!) to make us feel more at home on Christmas.
Now the kicker of the week. Sister Seegrist and I are getting a new companion in 2 hours! There was an emergency transfer in Pascagoula, MS. Both of the sisters there got taken out, and one of them is being sent to us in Navarre. So we will be a trio until I go home! The other crazy part of that is that the new sister has only been out a week, so I'm going to be training her and Sister Seegrist will be my lovely assistant in that endeavor. I'm really excited, and nervous. I hope she does well in our companionship. :) We have a third bed now, and rearranged our study room to allow some desk space for her. It's a little cramped now, but that's just because three beds are not supposed to go in one bedroom haha! I'm sure we'll make it work.
As for updates on the nitty gritty of the work, Ernestine is going strong for her baptism. She wants her husband, a recent convert, to baptize her, so that will be exciting for him as well as her. He actually got his first white shirt and tie from his home teacher this week, and he shaved his beard off after playing Santa Claus on Christmas, so he's looking like a real sharp member. Ernestine has started carrying her Book of Mormon on her, and some passalong cards, and is sharing the gospel with people. It's really cool. Recent converts and investigators just show us up on that one!
Last thing! I got a Christmas letter from the Elliott family in Brewton. They're so cute! They are wanting me to come up there and visit while I'm still in the field. I will have to call them from the mission home before I leave or something. :) But they are doing really well, and Vicki has finished temple prep and is planning on going to the temple soon.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Be in by dark and asleep by 10:30, like us. ;)
-Sister Laura Cooper

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Santa's Out of Style

It's been a looooooong week. I don't know why, but even if no one transfers within my sphere of peeps, I feel like the general spirit of chaos around the mission makes the whole week seem really long. On that subject, I am now orphaned, as the mission terminology goes. My trainer has gone home. Now I just have my obsure aunts and cousins, and my stepchild! :P This missionary family thing can get way out of control if you let it haha!
Yesterday, we were driving along the island, when I realized I have not heard much about Santa, Frosty, or anything of the like this year. I thought to myself, "is Santa going out of style? Has the world in general started focusing on Nativity Scenes, Christ-centered carols, and overused Christmas scripture reading??"
Then I realized that I am a missionary and I'm in the South. Oh, well. Y'all can enjoy Santa and stuff back home. I'll be out here, hearing Luke 2 read, sung, and acted out about 10 times a day. :)
This week maybe also dragged on a little bit because it was overcast half of the week. I know, we are woosies here in Florida. It's gets overcast instead of sunny for two days in the middle of December, and we are suddenly depressed. Don't worry about us; we'll make it through somehow! ;) On one of our rainy days though, we taught a really sweet lesson to a part member family we have been slowly working with. The member, Valerie, is pretty sick, and needs a lot of encouragement. We decided to watch Joy to the World with her to try to uplift her for the holidays. Her husband, Marc, a rougher kind of guy, ended up sitting in on the movie. The both seemed to enjoy it thoroughly, and afterward, Mark asked for a copy of it. I was really surprised, but excited!
Virginia and Anthony, the other cool part member family, are still texting us and friendly to us, but apparently their daughter, Eva has an infectious skin condition right now... so we are teaching them from a distance for a little while, as per their request.
Yesterday, we went to the Gulf Breeze ward because Ramon and Ernestine couldn't make it to Navarre ward. We went to Sacrament in GB with them, then went to our own three hour block. Christmas Program/ Church-ed out! So much singing about the birth of Jesus!
Well, if you're family, talk soon! If not, Merry Christmas!!! Love y'all forevs!
-Sister Cooper