Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's Nice

For those of you who don't know, I have actually been transferred. For those of you who do know, I've still been transferred! (Credit to my dad for that joke. Mormons will hopefully get it. Think about the beginnings of testimonies and talks in sacrament).
Yes, it's true that in my last post I was thoroughly deceived and mistaken. I'll tell y'all the whole story. After finding out about transfers and emailing home, we went out to Sonic, as we do every transfer P day. After that we went to Walmart and bought food and stuff. Then we got in line for Walmart gas. I checked the phone.
Missed Call-- ZL Foster/Evans
1 New Voicemail
Now, people you gotta understand, we have seen this on our phone many times, usually accompanying a voicemail that says something like "make sure to send in your numbers tonight" or something like that. Occasionally though, I would see something like that on the phone and be like "Sister Bennion, the zone leaders called. They said something about emergency transfers!" and of course she would never believe me, but I still thought it was funny lol.
But on this occasion we listened to the voicemail and the zone leaders were like "Uh, there has been a mistake on the transfer sheet. Call us back ASAP."
And you know that look when I thought I was going to get called up to the Baptist Church Judgment Bar? Maybe you don't; ask me to demonstrate it for you when I get home. But anyway that is the face I made when we heard that. Sister Bennion and I were SURE that it was gonna be her leaving but...
Here I am. Niceville, Florida with Sister Milne. Crazy. It's been another roller coaster getting this area reopened (yep, just like when we got to defuniak, we are whitewashing again). Things are very different, and it is hard to feel like I've left home again 9 days before Christmas. But that is just how missions go and me and sister milne and everyone in niceville, we are all going to work this out together. There is potential for success here, if we can only tap into it. :)
Love y'all! At least I got to saying y'all while I was in the real south.

Anyone who wants to write me real letters should ask my peeps for my new address. Email are great too though.

Love,
Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, December 9, 2013

Take Aways

It's been a roller coaster of a week. After some consideration, I have decided that I am mighty pleased to announce that Sister Bennion and I will continue to serve together in DeFuniak. We, the Elders, and the Senior Couple are our own district now! Biking to district meeting?? I think so.
We had a baptism set for this past saturday, but that fell through on the morning of. The entire part of the ward that came to the would-have-been baptism saw me and Sister Bennion cry. That would be a sad thing, but they decided to make us stop, by taking us out to a restaurant called That Pizza Place. That was nice. :D
I called this post take-aways because this week has been a learning experience. And that's what I want it to be. Not a depressing experience, an angering experience, a discouraging experience, but a learning experience. A few take-aways that we have gathered from the almost-baptism of Tommy Joe.
1) Baptisms are to no one's credit, and when they don't happen, it's no one's fault.
2) God is in control
3) People don't say what they mean, but you can sense it.
4) Treat everyone like family
5) People understand that life is imperfect. It's nothing to be embarrassed about.
6) God loves everyone no matter what
That's what I've learned. Challenges aren't so bad I guess hehe. We can overcome, but only with the help of The Savior, who overcame all. Sounds like an Easter Sympathy card. Oh well. It's solid doctrine. I really love y'all. Talk next week.
Peace,
Sister Laura Cooper
16 days until Christmas!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Winterswing

A swing into Winter, that's what this week is.

Have I mentioned that DeFuniakans love Christmas.

Because they do.

Lake DeFuniak has been laced with approximately 200 different light up figures. (I'll send home some pics, hopefully they end up somewhere y'all can see them soon). Everyone wants Thanksgiving to be over so that somebody can light up all the little figures and swing little DeFuniak right in to full-on Santa-Reindeer-Nativity-Poinsettia-Penguin mode all the while it is still tropical raining. All of this confusion as to what month it is has

1) Irritated my sinuses and made me sick
2) Caused me to break the social construct that suggests that I shouldn't be listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I am currently obsessed with this one random song on the MoTab Christmas CD I have. It's called the Sussex Carol. I'm sure one of you musical people will want to get on me for calling that probable classic a random song. If you want to express your grievance, my email is laura.cooper@myldsmail.net 

Thanks. ;)

OH. Side thought. We tracted into a member this week who had accidentally not transferred their records to the DeFuniak ward when they moved. Heh. Found. She's got rowdy twin boys who she thinks won't be welcome at church, but for real, if anyone does not want to meet twin two year olds right now, say "I". See, silence.

What is something spiritual I can share with y'all? In personal study this morning, I was looking up "Peace of God" in the topical guide, trying to figure how to be more peaceful. Try looking it up yourself. The answer in the scriptures is clear--serve and be obedient! Hearken to the spirit and the commandments of God. They cannot lead you to be unsettled or afraid. They only lead to "peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come".

Obedience, yo.

Love y'all,
Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Seven Full Time Missionaries

A lot has happened this week. Mostly, a lot happened this past weekend! Yesterday we had our ward fast for The Rescue. This ward has apparently been praying for missionaries to help them since long before Sister Bennion and I got here. They've had two elders in the ward for a long time, and it just wasn't enough to cover the 60 mile North-South boundary. (That's no joke, 60 miles long, and probably 30 wide makes up our ward). So after they all prayed for more they got us. Then they kept praying and along came the Habels. Then as of this last transfer, the DeFuniak Elders became a trio and thus we have SEVEN full time missionaries for this little backwoods ward.

So after the fast yesterday, we all went to the highest point in Florida, Lakewood Park, 324 feet elevation (it's in DeFuniak!!) and had a dedicatory prayer over the area. It was pretty neat. This sweet little ward. They deserve good missionary work. We are doing our best.

I don't think I'll have time to send pictures home this week. :( But I will eventually get y'all pics of the Lakewood Park sign and the members of our ward all posed around it. Also, you all see Howell's ALF... ask my parents about that one if you must know hehe. Basically, the set for DeFuniak Death Trap, the horror movie. Yep. If that existed. That's where it would happen lol. 

I love y'all and talk to ya soon!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Lights Are Going Up

Six more weeks in DeFuniak! We didn't really know what to expect out of this transfer, but we are glad that it's all working out so that we can see little DeFuniak sprout up. Seriously, the investigator work is a little slow here, but the work with less-active members is en fuego. When we got here we took this little ward from 2 to 4 full time missionaries, then at the end of last transfer, we got our senior couple, the Habels. Ha, I don't think I've talked about Elder and Sister Habel enough. Elder Habel is always on top of things and he draws a diagram at least once every lesson he teaches. They are probably in like their 70s. Sister Habel is super laid back and doesn't say too much, but then Elder Habel is always full of like three times as much energy as one man should have. It's so funny hehe.
The lights are going up, my friends. DeFuniakanlovChristmas. Just as me and Sister Bennion were walking to the library we saw people putting up CHRISTMAS LIGHTS at the lake. It's not even Halloween yet, y'all omg. I miss Halloween, btw. I wish I could participate in that madness, but I mean really, it is OCTOBER, people. But even when we came here back in August people would say that they hope we stay until Christmas because the lights and everything is just incredible. Well, it's October 28th and I guess we made it to Christmas haha.
This post has not been spiritual enough. Let me share what has helped us in the work this week. President Uchdorf gave a now-famous talk a few weeks ago in General Conference.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng

This talk has made a real difference in our work with less-active members. Everyone has concerns that keep them from fully partaking of gospel blessings, us missionaries included.But the gospel is the answer to every concern, even itself. Here's the part of the talk that answers all of that.

Some might ask, “But what about my doubts?”
It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some might say, “I just don’t fit in with you people in the Church.
If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.
Some might say, “I don’t think I could live up to your standards.
All the more reason to come! The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted. It is filled with people who desire with all their heart to keep the commandments, even if they haven’t mastered them yet.
Some might say, “I know a member of your Church who is a hypocrite. I could never join a church that had someone like him as a member.
If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites. None of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
I know this work is the work of salvation and I know that it will change every life it touches for the better. My happy followers, there is room for each of us in the gospel. Have a great week!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Caught a Toad


This week passed quickly and a week from now I will know the fate of the next six weeks! Ha, I get transfer jitters real early. Me and Sister Bennion made this plan. Those of you who have ever seen the Preach my Gospel DVDs aka The District, which I mentioned last week, know that when Elder Walkenhorst leaves the MTC, he and his little roommates sing the Spanish version of God Be With You Til We Meet Again-- Para Siempre Dios Este en Vos. They only sing the chorus on the DVD though, which amounts to HASTA VEEEEEEEEER, HASTA VEEEEEER. HASTA VER NOS CON EL REYHasta ver. 

And repeat.

Basically. Ha. Well, me and Sister Bennion have this plan that if anyone gets transferred in a week, right before we leave to drop the victim off in Crestview, we turn on the Preach my Gospel DVD on our little DVD player and we just BELT OUT some hasta vers. This will become a tradition among me and my companions. 

Laughs laughs... but as for this past week, we had some great times doing service! 

That's when I caught the toad of which I speak. We helped Patty and Sam, a part member couple that's been together for like 12 years, to get ready for their wedding next month. I worked with Sam to clear the side of the house of piled up weeds and wood pieces while sister bennion weed whacked the rest of the yard. There were so many critters under all that green junk. Since I was wearing garden gloves, I got to catch'm in peace. :)))) 

Yesterday at church we had a bunch of people come who haven't been in years! The work in DeFuniak is warming up quickly, my friends! :)

Love you all! Talk next week!

Love,
Sister Laura Cooper

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Saw It On The District Once


Our dear friend Morgan was baptized this week! We've been teaching her for 10 weeks, and she got like one lesson from missionaries before us. She's 18, super sweet, and just LOVES missionary work. She's a keeper, haha! So I guess I'd say that was the highlight of my week. :) Also, it was definitely the most stressful and time consuming thing that happened this week. There are just so many loose ends to tie up to make a nice baptism with a fully prepared future convert, and neither me nor Sister Bennion had ever done it before. She started her mission only six weeks before me, so neither of us had even had someone accept a baptismal date before Morgan. So basically we've been figuring out how to get someone to the waters of baptism together for the last two months. Cool haha.

On Saturday we had the baptism set for five pm, then President Smith scheduled me and Sister Bennion to have interviews right before, at 4 and 4:15. So we get there at four, and the Ward Mission Leader is scrambling because he doesn't exactly know how to have a baptism, a couple ward members are hanging out with random food and things for the event, Morgan and her boyfriend's family are hanging out, writing talks and preparing musical numbers, the Elders are there trying to explain how to do a baptism/ laughing at the chaos, and the mission president is there. And this is all happening in like 10 square feet of space between the primary room and the baptismal font. And me and Sister Bennion are like scrambling because we have no idea what running a baptism is like, plus we are trading off who is in interviews, and basically what I'm saying is... we did not know what to do, but if everyone is familiar with THE DISTRICT, which is a missionary training video series, you will know what I'm talking about when I say we were basically just going off what we saw once on The District. xD Everything worked out alright though (except the mission president had us explain our attendance at Priesthood Session of Conference; that was kinda awkward), but ultimately we had a great, uplifting service, and President and Sister Smith got to be there.

So, now we know haha! Love you, my blog reading fiends (yes, fiends). 

Loves,
Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, October 7, 2013

Splits, Storms, Thomas (S!) Monson


Did y'all see the storm?! I was in that! We were getting texts for a while about being evacuated and to shop for 72 hour kits, but it never happened. And now I'm eating out of my 72 hour kit even though I totally have access to other food... I think I need someone to send me some less appealing food storage. Let it be known though, that Sister Cooper has now been in a hurricane-- Hurricane Karen.
 
This week Sister Bennion and I went on splits with Sister Trainer Leaders, which means that I got to have my first ever day of conducting missionary work without the help of my trainer. It went pretty good! I made sure we biked everywhere so that it took extra time, thereby leaving us with less time so that we wouldn't run out of things to do. Don't tell Sister Leifson haha! I'm glad we did that though. We got to see a few less-actives in town, plus one investigator who wouldn't stop talking... I got to learn from Sister Leifson how to politely, but firmly, get someone to shush. :)
 
Okay, okay, CONFERENCE! Wasn't it great? Funny story first, then spiritual talk. :) Since I'm sure the rumors have already spread from sea to shining sea, I'll just admit it. Me and Sister Bennion went to the Priesthood Session at the chapel, and watched it live in the company of priesthood holders. We don't regret it haha, it was great!! The Sister Trainers were not happy when they heard, but let's be real, we got to hear two more hours of the living prophet and apostles. I would like to share with y'all my favorite thought from President Uchtdorf's talk in that session.
 
I loved the story President Uchtdorf told about falling down when skiing with his grandson, and how he felt like he couldn't get up on his own. When his grandson simply told him "you can do it now", he stood up immediately. President Uchtdorf spoke on how the adversary can confuse us about who we are, what we desire, why we follow the commandments, and, most powerfully, he can confuse us into thinking when we fall that falling is our destiny. We know though that our destiny is a glorious one, and that we reach it as we walk lovingly in the path of discipleship, and as we rise up more times than we fall.
 
So, my happy followers, rise up this week, and show Satan who's boss.

 
I love you each.
 
-Sister Cooper



Out at Twin Lakes, biking to see some less-active people :)


I



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bible Thumping


This week some truly southern things came to pass. Me and Sister Bennion went park contacting using a family history approach and we accidentally crashed a Southern Baptist Youth Rally where we met Pastor Ben and Reverend Woods. They are both interested in Family History and they want to come to our center. But they also want us to come to their youth rallies haha. They said that they "seen one girl get saved here just the other day!" Man, I wish I could have seen that. It's on my mission bucket list to have someone say they just got saved while we are teaching them. I checked off one thing on the mission bucket list this week. "Have my Bible thumped"

Know what I'm talking about? The Southerners sometimes will preach and get so excited that when they mention The Bible or The Word of God or whatnot they will just like SMACK their Bible. Yeah, so yesterday I got my Bible thumped by a less active we were teaching who was on a rant about how the only word we need is contained in THIS BOOK and she smacked my scriptures that were sitting on the table. Too bad it's a quad not a Bible like she thought and so by doing that she was agreeing with us haha! 


Love,
Sister Cooper

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rain Out


This week the major story is The Festival. DeFuniak is so small. Y'all don't even know. It's so small, and no one has much to do haha. Soooo, one of the only hobbies people have is studying the history of 1) DeFuniak 2) Their families. That's where we come in haha. So Sister Bennion worked to get us a booth in the Fall Heritage Festival happening downtown. It was super exciting because the DeFuniak Heritage Foundation just loooooves genealogy and they put us in like the best booth spot. The mission president got crazy excited about it, and he and the office elders sent us all of the finding through family history supplies the mission has. We got the Habels and their iPad, plus a wireless printer from the mission set up to have people printing four generations charts and everything.

Wait, it gets better. So every week at district meeting, every district in the mission connects onto one conference call. The mission president was SO excited about our family history booth that he had the district leader hand off the phone to me and sister bennion and talk to the entire mission about our efforts.

Well, I just got told to leave the library computer soooo I'll come out and say where this is going. Saturday. Day of the festival. We got set up all pretty as you can see in the picture and then.

It. POOOOOUUUUURED rain!! We only got to be open for like 20 minutes, but it was going so well that we decided to get a booth at the county fair and just figure how to apologize for letting down the entire mission....

Hm haha. 

Well, good to talk to y'all. Talk more soon!
-Sister Cooper

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Keys


It's been a straaaaaange week. But, first things first. Me and Sister Bennion will be staying right here in DeFuniak for the next 6 weeks! That will be awesome because this ward constantly has missionaries transferred out after only 6 weeks, and this transfer news means me and Sister Bennion will be here at least 12 weeks total. 

Anyway, I'm afraid of the library people telling me to get off, so I'll get right to the point. This week has been full of running around the Fort Walton zone from rehearsal to exchange to meeting to everything else. The crazy things happened between Friday night and Sunday, so I'll just talk about that.

Friday night me and sister bennion had to go to Niceville to exchange me. The Sister Trainer Leaders go on exchanges with the new sisters once a transfer, and I was the very last one to go on one. Sister Bennion went back to DeFuniak with one of the Sister Trainers, and I went down to Fort Walton with the other Sister Trainer, plus one sister who has been tagged on with the STLs in a series of emergency transfers due to two people going home sick, both from our zone. So late Friday night, I joined up with those two and worked in my first trio (but it was actually so late by the time we got to Fort Walton that we didn't do any work before bed). Saturday morning I got to actually work with them. We had a missionary coordination meeting, which no one does in the DeFuniak ward. Then we got to study, contact a few referrals, talk to some guy that always sees the Fort Walton sisters on their bikes, and teach one, solid, sit down lesson aaaand we committed the guy to baptism! Ha! My second one of those, and he wasn't even my investigator. After that, me and the rest of the trio, Sister Hirst and Sister Jicha, went back to Crestview, where Sister Bennion and her exchange companion Sister Medlyn agreed to meet us.

So Sister Bennion and I had to go to a rehearsal for the musical performance the stake was doing, and that was in Fort Walton, so really we only came to Crestview to eat dinner (at which time I spilled meatball on myself, that will be important later), pick up sister bennion, and leave our car in Crestview to save some mileage. 

After the multiple hour rehearsal, the two of us caught a ride with the senior couple (our new parents, sorry mom and dad), the Baileys, back to Crestview, where they live. When we got back to our car finally at 10 pm... Sister Bennion realized she'd left the keys, our phone, and her wallet all at the church in Fort Walton. Too late and too far to go back, we had to instead stay the night at the bailey's house in our church clothes, and then ride with our senior couple, the Habels, back to DeFuniak early the next morning, arriving just in time for church wearing yesterday's makeup, and the same wrinkled, meatball-stained clothes that we had been wearing for the last two days. Finally, after church we got to go back to the apartment and change, then we bummed a ride from the Habels to do our Sunday afternoon prostelyting until that night, when we got the keys to our car back at the performance of the musical fireside we'd been rehearsing for. I sang and sister bennion played the violin, and the good news is we both got personally congratulated by the mission president after the musical performance, despite our strange, strange weekend leading up to it. 

Yep, and that story is about all I have time for. Look forward to six more weeks of DeFuniakan stories, everyone!

Love you all,
Sister Laura Cooper

The Keys


It's been a straaaaaange week. But, first things first. Me and Sister Bennion will be staying right here in DeFuniak for the next 6 weeks! That will be awesome because this ward constantly has missionaries transferred out after only 6 weeks, and this transfer news means me and Sister Bennion will be here at least 12 weeks total. 

Anyway, I'm afraid of the library people telling me to get off, so I'll get right to the point. This week has been full of running around the Fort Walton zone from rehearsal to exchange to meeting to everything else. The crazy things happened between Friday night and Sunday, so I'll just talk about that.

Friday night me and sister bennion had to go to Niceville to exchange me. The Sister Trainer Leaders go on exchanges with the new sisters once a transfer, and I was the very last one to go on one. Sister Bennion went back to DeFuniak with one of the Sister Trainers, and I went down to Fort Walton with the other Sister Trainer, plus one sister who has been tagged on with the STLs in a series of emergency transfers due to two people going home sick, both from our zone. So late Friday night, I joined up with those two and worked in my first trio (but it was actually so late by the time we got to Fort Walton that we didn't do any work before bed). Saturday morning I got to actually work with them. We had a missionary coordination meeting, which no one does in the DeFuniak ward. Then we got to study, contact a few referrals, talk to some guy that always sees the Fort Walton sisters on their bikes, and teach one, solid, sit down lesson aaaand we committed the guy to baptism! Ha! My second one of those, and he wasn't even my investigator. After that, me and the rest of the trio, Sister Hirst and Sister Jicha, went back to Crestview, where Sister Bennion and her exchange companion Sister Medlyn agreed to meet us.

So Sister Bennion and I had to go to a rehearsal for the musical performance the stake was doing, and that was in Fort Walton, so really we only came to Crestview to eat dinner (at which time I spilled meatball on myself, that will be important later), pick up sister bennion, and leave our car in Crestview to save some mileage. 

After the multiple hour rehearsal, the two of us caught a ride with the senior couple (our new parents, sorry mom and dad), the Baileys, back to Crestview, where they live. When we got back to our car finally at 10 pm... Sister Bennion realized she'd left the keys, our phone, and her wallet all at the church in Fort Walton. Too late and too far to go back, we had to instead stay the night at the bailey's house in our church clothes, and then ride with our senior couple, the Habels, back to DeFuniak early the next morning, arriving just in time for church wearing yesterday's makeup, and the same wrinkled, meatball-stained clothes that we had been wearing for the last two days. Finally, after church we got to go back to the apartment and change, then we bummed a ride from the Habels to do our Sunday afternoon prostelyting until that night, when we got the keys to our car back at the performance of the musical fireside we'd been rehearsing for. I sang and sister bennion played the violin, and the good news is we both got personally congratulated by the mission president after the musical performance, despite our strange, strange weekend leading up to it. 

Yep, and that story is about all I have time for. Look forward to six more weeks of DeFuniakan stories, everyone!

Love you all,
Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Spirit of Elijah


Just another bright, sunshiney week in DeFuniak. Our baptism plans have gotten a little complicated by a sudden inability to communicate with the investigator. We will probably have to put the baptism off from this saturday to next saturday, and that means after transfers, so we are hoooooping we'll both be around for it. Either way, if the Lord calls one or both of us away, I know the work where we are sent will be great as it is here. Me and Sister Bennion have been joking since the first week about me getting transferred to Pensacola. I hope it doesn't happen, but suddenly I'm thinking God might get me back for my sarcastic jokes and put me there haha. The tough thing about serving in this little backwoodsy town was come time for thyroid tests we had to drive 30 miles to get them and there's this huge hospital in Pensacola soooo. But, I'd take the 30 miles again to stay in my beloved DeFuniak.
I named this The Spirit of Elijah because, well, it's so strong! Family History has definitely been something I've been bleh about in life up to this point, but I'm just starting to catch on. So many investigators and less-active members are interested in it, but they don't want to pay for ancestry.com, so that's where we come in and have them go on Family Search with us at church and then they want to be at church more and bam. done. ;) Really, though, I think it's all so interesting. Maybe it's just because I'm deprived of passive entertainment. I couldn't sleep last night, and instead of my old-life solutions of getting out my laptop and chilling on Facebook, I had to read Preach my Gospel until I felt back asleep! With family history at least I get to touch a computer. :)
I can't wait to find out what's in store for me next transfer (next week!!) and I'm looking forward to meeting all of the new people that indeed will make me seem a little less green. I love all of you people and by next letter, you'll know as well as I do what's ahead. I'm thinking of and praying for y'all.
Yes sir, yes ma'am.

Love,
Sister Cooper


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mosquitos Feast, We Fast


It's Labor Day! This week seemed to go by very quickly. We just worked all day for seven days and now here we are at the computer again! 

We found a frog in the laundry this morning. That was exciting. I'm definitely not used to the amount of small critters around yet. Everyone at church likes to give me recommendations of miracle cures for my mosquito bites, but none have worked yet! However, now I carry all manner of creams,sticks, gels, spray bottles and more with me everywhere I go. The ward is always concerned about me and they give me a ton of little things that work for them to keep the mosquitos away. 

Doorstep lessons at dusk will be the death of me.

Fast Sunday went by crazy fast (ha! first time it hasn't been a misnomer). Me and Sister Bennion both fasted to find solid new investigators (without each other knowing what we were fasting for) and during the 24 hours we got 2 solid new investigators! It was great. I broke my fast during our lesson with the second one because it hit 24 hours since we started. I drank a little water and had a piece of candy and I just hoped we wouldn't suddenly be kicked out of the lesson because our spiritual power was gone haha! 

Okay, that's all the story time I have time for right now.

Love y'all
-Sister Cooper

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not By Our Doing



This week I can't help but starting out by announcing this. We got a BCD! If we look that up in the Mormonese to English dictionary, making sure to use the Missionary Dialect we will see that BCD means.... someone's getting baptized. Baptism and Confirmation Date is what that actually stands for and we made sure as of Thursday that our youngest investigator, Morgan, who is a senior in high school, got one of those hehe. If all goes well she will be baptized on September 14th. We are doing our best to support her and keep in close contact because she moves around between school and her parents' houses a lot. But she has a strong desire to be baptized and I know she can make it.
Me and Sister Bennion teach a wide variety of people. It's pretty crazy. There's youngsters like Morgan, old ladies who have been the same religion for 80 years (they don't progress much, but I think they like having the girls over), Southern Baptists looking for a debate, people who let us in because they want to Jehovah's Witness bash and then they figure out that we are Mormon and awkwardly have to let us talk, and then there's like 300 less active members in this ward and they expect us to track down all of them. :O My favorite thing to do is teach progessing investigators though. They are generally more friendly to the Church than less-actives even.
Oh gosh, how could I forget to highlight the biggest adventure of the week. Sister Bennion and I took a wrong turn in the backwoods and ended up stuck in the bug infested Florida sand-dirt for three hours!! A ward member had to tow us out when the Elders couldn't even though they drive a truck. We definitely learned a lesson about using our best judgment there. :P
Okay, highlight of the week. I even got to tell this story to the Fort Walton Stake President who I met yesterday at ward conference. We are teaching this guy David who is definitely one of those people who comes to the lesson ready to debate and negate. He said upfront that the heart is treacherous and he feels no emotion. He owns like 10 versions of the Bible and I kid you not, his hobby is to bring over representatives of different religions and debate with them. So naturally I was hesistant to go over to his house twice this week. The first time went alright. He said at the end, in regard to the Book of Mormon, "I can't reject this completely" which I thought was a big step. Next visit I'm still really hesitant and Sister Bennion starts saying how she wants me to get involved with the lesson more. So yeah we get to this lesson and he's debating everything and then he's debating about the Spirit of God and he says that it's treacherous to feel anything, but then out of nowhere he started tearing up and talking about how he knows the Spirit is real and he can feel it when he reads the scriptures. It's not an emotion, he said, (so I guess it isn't so treacherous haha), but he knows it can help him learn the truth and he agreed to read The Book of Mormon. :) So, we'll see where this goes.
Not by our doing, my friends. It's the Spirit! :D That's what softens people and makes them want to learn more, come to church, and get BCDs. It's really the best missionary in the world.

Love you, everyone!
Till next week,
Sister Laura Cooper
The gorgeous DeFuniak Sunset 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Measure of Success


I've made it through my first full week in the field. P day came so much faster than I anticipated. Getting lost in the work is actually easier than I thought! All you have to do is get up in the morning, run, eat breakfast, study, and then work as hard as you can until 9 pm.
This week Sister Bennion and I spent a few hours at a retired couple's house making a huge map of DeFuniak and marking every less-active member and investigator on it. We hope that it will assist us and all the DeFuniakan missionaries following us to find out where the heck they are going! We have GPS's, but sometimes a visual aid is helpful. Though we hope that some of these people will eventually be ridded of their need to be on the map.
AKA they will get baptized or come back to church and become the most excellent members of the ward. :))
Also this week we had a district meeting and a new missionaries of Fort Walton zone meeting at the chapel in Crestview. It's hard on the mileage on the car, but it's great to see the other missionaries from time to time. Sister Imlay is still in this zone, so it's cool to see her, and her trainer who I knew at BYU!
This week a lot of lessons fell through, and we worked some with active members to try to get the work going, so when it came down to yesterday morning and our numbers were really low for the week, me and Sister Bennion both were feeling pretty stressed. We talked about it in the car and over a picnic lunch (yeah outside during a flash flood warning... ). Although Sunday was going great and our numbers were starting to pick up, we took our philosophy back to Preach My Gospel and reminded ourselves that the measure of a successful missionary is not an elder or sister who has appointments set up every hour of every day. It's not who is best liked of all the missionaries in the mission. It's not the one who never gets lost or stuck out in the rain. It's not the one who gets the numbers they want... It's the one who commits to find people to teach and bring unto Christ! You can make all of your goals and never help anyone feel The Spirit and come unto Christ. But as long as you are striving to help and invite people, and to introduce them to or remind them of the gospel, you are excellent by Heavenly Father's standards. People have their agency to get to church or get to Fort Walton beach, but we do all we can to help them feel that there is a right answer to that choice. :)
I miss each of you at home, and I send you a hug from me, but know that I love this work! This is the truth, and DeFuniak needs to hear it! :)

Love,
Sister Cooper
                                          This is me trying to survive a rainstorm
 
                                           Me and my companion Sister Bennion


                                             The turtle we found!!!!


                                                         The view from my window! Right onto lake defuniak. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Land Southward


I arrived in Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon and I felt like I was just in a different world! The airport here is super small (it flies only to like Atlanta and Tampa...).

Everything was blurry until I got dinner and my new camera in the mail. Then I was like OMG it's all real! I'm in the deep south. :o

That night I found out I was going to DeFuniak and I was like OH THAT SOUNDS NICE AND LIKE A BEACH OR SOMETHING.

Haha this is totally the town they based Cars on.... Whatever lol. My companion is Sister Bennion from Salt Lake City. She is training me and guess what. She's never served in DeFuniak in fact this is only her second transfer... She is great though! She always makes sure we are out the door for a jog around the lake at 6:30 am sharp. :P Oh and btw my window looks directly onto a train tract where trains start going through at 5 am. xP

Since we knew no one in this area five days ago, we don't really get fed much and we do a lot of tracking less actives down so we can teach somebody. The Defuniak Ward covers two cities and sixty people come to church, but 400 people are on the roll. That puts some serious strain on the people that do come to church so we've got lots of inspiration to help them out. It's funny because Sister Bennion told me that in her last branch the Branch President and the Relief Society President both spent the first Sunday asking the branch members to help the missionaries, give them rides, feed them, ect. 

Ohhhh well sounds like we'll be tracking down less-actives and referrals, and going door to door preaching the gospel for a while. Hey, that's what we're here for. :)  We have ridden our bikes a little but we hope to do more of that because our miles are limited on the car and we're always lost! This place is crazy backwoodsy and spread out. I don't like the dirt or mosquitos (seriously my legs look like I have chicken pox), but I am so honored to be in an area that has been closed to sister missionaries before now! We are roughing it for sure, but I guess the Lord trusts us! 

Ok ok I've got a good story about missionary work. Yesterday after church and lunch, we ventured into the backwoods to find some less actives. We got pretty well lost and our GPS was just like uh IDK drive into a tree or something. So we stopped and knocked on the door of this little house and asked for directions and once we got them, Sister Bennion started bearing her testimony about the restoration and guess what... THEY TOTALLY LET US IN! We talked to this lady and her son for like an hour about The Book of Mormon and everything and by the end the son asked me to highlight recommendations of chapters in The Book of Mormon and he had me explain all of the pictures in the front. Plus they gave us lemonade. :D It was so awesome! We are going back there probably this weekend to teach them again. 

The people in "the land Southward" (here haha) are the funniest. There are churches on every corner. In fact, word on the street is that the local polygamist Church of Christ branch goes proselyting around here and it makes a lot of the people we tract in to suuuuuper confused. We have heard about all kinds of things we Mormons worship. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Virgin Mary, ect. Oh dear we have a lot of straightening up to do. :P

I'm having a blast! ;) We are biking home after this and probably gonna make some brownies from a mix the senior couple missionaries in our area left for us.
That's me saying bye bye to my MTC comp Sister Imlay! She serves in Baker, FL now, being trained by my friend from BYU Sister Leifson! 

 Love you all a lot!!

Peace,
Sister Laura Cooper

Friday, July 26, 2013

MTC Arrival



I've made it to my first P day! I have pictures to send, but so far all my SD card has accomplished is crashing myldsmail. Ohhhhh cheap PCs. I have 27 minutes to write this so I'll be fast. I got here with the early crowd on Wednesday and the only difference between reporting then and reporting at my assigned time was that I got to have lunch in the cafeteria and no one that arrived on time did. :D After that and a little waiting around, I got to settle in a little bit, but not really because I went straight to class for three hours. My district's teachers are both returned sister missionaries, which is really unique in the MTC. I love them; they are super easy to talk to and learn from. I room with 4 other Sisters-- 2 going to Chicago, one solo sister going to Anahiem ASL speaking, and then me and my companion Sister Imlay going to Tallahassee. They are all from Utah!! :( But, Sis Imlay is awesome possum and she actually knows how to work out and she's teaching me. We have our little fake investigator that we'll be working with during our stay here. It's our teacher Sister Mills, but she plays a sporty college student named Kristen living with an LDS family. She's based on someone Sis Mills actually taught on her mission, so it's been so cool learning more about her based on talking to her and praying for her. Seriously, my comp and I have gone off into a different classroom twice to pray before we taught Kristen, and BOTH TIMES we got walked in on my an arriving class! :P Haha the MTC makes that so normal. Other than that, you've heard that I made the mistake of telling them that it was time for me to have my thyroid blood test again and now me and Sister Imlay have been to the health clinic like four times for one of us or the other! We have consumed approximately 2857923 lollipops from there since arriving. Okay, time is almost up. I love it here, but it's stressful, but I love it here anyway and I'm learning about focusing on the investigator and how to study for hours on end. I feel so stregthened! It is seriously Spiritual Boot Camp. :) I love you all! 

Love,
Sister Cooper <3

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Departure

Hey Friends,
I'm leaving tomorrow at duh duh duh duh 3 am.

what.

I'm getting set apart at 8 pm tonight and then this blog gets turned over to my wonderful family, who will hopefully successfully update it and share it to Facebook.


Again. What. 5:35 am departure?! Getting up at like 3 or 2 or whatever. Hah. I'm not allowed to get up until 6:30 though!!

Well, I leave you all with this testimony, which I am stealing from Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, because I think it's the best testimony in all of Latter-day scripture. D&C 76:22. Look it up. ;) But really, Christ lives and I know he will make a difference in the lives of many people in the Florida Tallahassee Mission! I can't wait to see what awaits me in this beautiful place Heavenly Father has chosen for me.

I'll get on my family to keep this sucker updated. See you all again in 2015!

Love,
Sister Cooper

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dreaming of Tags

Guys... I had my first "I'm a missionary!" dream. It totally reminded me how not yet ready I am here with 45 days left. Ha!

Ready... this makes so little sense... sharing anyway... you're welcome.

It begins with me showing up a couple hours early to the MTC. They let me come inside into the lobby and it looks like the Helaman style lobby with...like...old heritage decor. The MTC is like part of BYU right? So it's sort of possible. Anyway, they say, "well, have so companions" and I turn around and it's this stranger who slightly reminds me of Catie Brown and the other is Michael Comp. And I come over and open my suitcase and I have one skirt. kay, that's bad. Michael (who is a girl with an awesome boy's name, b-t-dubs) is like, oh, I also forgot my skirts. And the mature one, the Catie-ish one, is just like are y'all serious?

Then we walk to and point at the map. I was somehow angry at Florida. I have no idea why haha.

Then I wake up (in real life). I look at the clock and it's like 2:30 in the morning. I go back to sleep aaaaaaanddddd...

BAM

I'm in Florida. Except this place that I am is not Florida in the slightest... but I call it that anyway. I get off this double decker bus from the back and meet a crowd of people. Another friend, who like Catie is actually in the MTC headed somewhere far away from Florida, waves at me on my way out. I look up and a group of Chinese tourists flying off in a Disney hot air balloon. I take a picture on my phone. Which I have. contraband. My companions, the same ones from the MTC dream run up to me and are like, HI we're your companions. We head for this tunnel and  I turn on some Pitbull on my phone and realize that's really bad and that I shouldn't have a phone and that I can only listen to religious music.

We head for this tunnel to find people to talk to. I see my friend from theatre, Katherine, dressed as a little dutch boy. I'm like...HEY. And I ask her to take a picture of me and my companions for my letter home, but she like pulls out her computer and starts taking screenshots and that's not right so I just leave her to that. Then I spend like half an hour trying to find someone to take a picture, but evidently no one knows how... Then  I apologized to mis compaƱeras in Spanish, and woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing.

Okay, you are seriously a trooper if you read that entire thing. It made me realize that I need to get a Shuffle and put some church music on it! Haha. Don't wanna be stuck with Pitbull...


Me and my companion...according to my subconscious.

Hopefully I am more prepared than dream-me.

Happy Sunday,
Sister Laura Michelle Cooper

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pedal to the Panda

C'mon, Laura, it's just like learning how to drive a car.

How many people get to think that to themselves when learning how to ride a bike?

That's righttttt... I don't know how. Some people struggle with their mission language. Fortunately, I speak both of the major languages they use in Florida! I may be called in English, but if someone talks to me in my second language... voy a responder. You know how it is. Rather than mission language... my struggle shall be... MISSION TRANSPORT.

Yeeps. How's biking down Heritage Hill for a welcome to the mish world. It's been an interesting and rather draining day, so I decided to treat myself to Panda for dinner. I told my roommate Tia that I was going to walk there. It's about 1/3 of a mile. Tia's like... "if you're careful, do you want to take my bike?"

Gulp.

I have been dyyyying to learn. Tallahassee is a big biking mission, and I need to practice. So I said yes. I unlocked Tia's bike and wobbled around and down the hill. Poor Tia. Little did she know I hadn't ridden a bike since I was like 

THIS MANY


I made it though! Turns out anything is possible! I may or may not have stopped an entire busy intersection at one point as I struggled with the concept of the pedal. oh well. Had me a lovely dinner sitting outside with my bike like some kind of health nut/ biking bum. I think the hardest part was toting that GIANT lock Tia uses... toting it on my shoulder bag. Ouch. Hopefully copies of The Book of Mormon aren't that awkward to carry. We can use backpacks! The best mission in the world, people.


"Past inspirations and experiences will be helpful in your job."

At least, that's what they tell me in Mission Prep

Maybe this will make a good story of trial and triumph someday. Tallahassans who like... biking stories... I'm coming for you.

With Love,
Sister Laura Cooper

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When You Make Friends with the Relief Society President

I've made a terrible mistake.

Just kidding; I've gotten myself into an awesome opportunity...paired with lots of meetings!

Thug life. But, really, is there a single, girlier calling in the whole church?!?! Let minnow.

This is what happens when you make friends with the newly called President. 

Thus, with 78 days left until The Mish, I take my binder in stride and prepare for many hours of number recording and loving of people. Sounds like the perfect prep to me! On Sunday we took 4 hours to assign callings and visiting teaching assignments--and it was fun! When you've got good people (like my presidency sisters) working on a good task--it has to be, well, good.

This next 6.5 weeks while I'm at Spring Term should be interesting because I am now officially That Girl. I am in Max Credits, working a part time Grease Pit  job, preparing for The Mish, and now.... Relief Society Presidency.

Holla.

I'm not Supergirl, so prepare some good jokes for the day when I start to lose my sanity.

Won't you save me Tallaaaaaahaaaassee?

Peace,
Sister Laura Cooper

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Welcome to the Mission Blog!

Dear People,

It is currently 3 months and 3 weeks until the mish, but I am posting today because...

a) I wanted to make sure I started one of these before things get crazy.
b) I really don't wanna study for my Chem 107 exam. (not to worry though, I will after I finish this!)

So this will be the blog to watch for updates from me during me during the mission. That is sisterlauratallahasseeflorida.blogspot.com-- notice the slight rhyming scheme. Follow it. :) Or else crazy glue that name inside your head or something.

So I figure today would be a good day to write about the call. The call. It was like, gosh, two weeks ago. But in case anyone who doesn't know me ever finds this blog, which they should because all of friends will love my blogging so much they will not be able to restrain sharing on Facebook, I guess I should tell the whole story of the day. It was Thursday, but I guess the story starts a bit earlier-- when I put my papers in three weeks earlier. Three weeks. Not two. Three. ._. Not only had it been three weeks already, but the night before, my newsfeed suddenly flooded mission calls from all around Heritage Halls. And no such package for me. (The calls for the week almost always come in a big old bundle on a Wednesday, sometimes a Thursday, but always together. You know you your call has arrived when you get this email like "New Package at the Central Building!").

So I went to bed on Wednesday night just praying that I would somehow end up with a slightly delayed in addition to the week delay before... mission call.

Thursday morning I woke up about 15 minutes after my alarm. I quickly got ready, skipped breakfast, and ran off to my 8 am religion class. I barely had a moment to decide that I had a good feeling about that day, but I did a bit. Anyway, I got to New Testament and took notes and all that, then I headed back to the apartment. I usually had Asian Humanities at 9:30, but it was cancelled. So I walked back to Heritage to chill until my next class at 12.

Chill I did not.

I got home, changed into more comfortable clothes, and I made a peanut butter and sugar sandwich for breakfast. As I sat down to eat, I realized I hadn't checked my phone all day. So, I'm finishing breakfast when I unlock my phone, see email alerts and... New Package at the Central Building

I ran around the apartment and then the floor, looking for someone to come with me and take pictures. Duh, everyone is in class. I run down a floor and hear voices out of one apartment. So I knock on the door like "does anyone here want to run to the Central Building with me to get my call and take pictures..." and one person there is like "I'm waiting for mine too." I was like "check your email", and within like 15 seconds, she's like... RUN. WE ARE GOING TO THE CENTRAL BUILDING.

So we ran. As we did, I learned her named was Kalissa. She'd been waiting a week and a half and I was like lucky freakin freaker. So basically, ran into the Central Building. Found the only receptionist having a lengthy phone conversation. Employee I ended up asking to record it was like... O.o what is exciting about you staring at a lady on the phone...

Finally, she hung up, me and Kalissa grabbed our calls... Only I am in this pic, but... yes Kalissa is real.


And... then I went home and stared at it for a while, took it to class, wore this dress while cleaning the apartment, then came 7:30 and it went a bit like this....



Yowza, it's getting late, but I must respond to this video ^. I know the right place for me to preach the Gospel is none other than Tallahassee, Florida. I can't wait to share what truly brings joy to my life. Write y'all soon!

--Sister Laura Cooper

P.S.
If you're reading this, and your having a call party at any point in your life, heed this advice. You will be looking at a paper, not at the crowd, and when it's all over you may have no idea who was there. So don't stress if Good Friend A can't make it. They'll understand and like your status all the same. Oh, and three week calls are just as good as two week ones. :)