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

Sand on Sand on Sand

As I told my family, this week, and more than likely the week ahead as well, are a big jumble of Christmas party and missionary work. Oh, and we just got news that Sister Seegrist and I are both staying here for my last transfer. #finishstrong. My last transfer is going to be seven weeks long, which really means I just get the whole transfer, instead of 5 weeks and a wash out half-week of packing and flying home.
I am totally enjoying my second Christmas season out here in the mission. Didn't feel like that long ago that it was my first. At that point, I was planning on returning to school in January, making that Christmas my only Christmas in the field. Silly child, Christmas is the best time of year to be a missionary. Especially, I like having these He is the Gift cards. Even though lots of people in the South either have "found Jesus" or are tired of all their neighbors telling them to find Jesus, very few people dislike receiving a picture of baby Jesus at Christmas. Yesterday I did get shooed off by a we-realized-after-was-probably-drunk-guy. No love for baby Jesus there.
Half-Mission conference happened this week, which means I got to see Meet the Mormons. It's really good! I didn't cry like everyone said, but that's not surprising. Sister Dyches and I sang our song in the musical part, and it went really well. It was kind of ironic to be singing "snow on snow on snow" though, on a day where you didn't even need a jacket outside.
Ernestine is well on her way to getting baptized. She's been off alcohol for over a week! Keep her in your prayers, because the change of consumption led to her being sick this week. She is feeling better now, but still pray for her.
Merry Christmas soon! Watch Joy to the World! We watched it for Movie Night with the Missionaries this week, and it's not as bad as some of the other old church videos. :)
Peace on Earth!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hashtags on my Passalongs

Is everyone in the Christmas spirit yet? I know most people start Christmas after Thanksgiving, but I'm usually one who doesn't feel like Christmas until I don't have to do work or school. But since there is no time off as a missionary, I figured I might as well feel like Christmas! And it's hard no to when we have to walk around at night, sometimes fairly aimlessly, and look at all manner of Christmas lights. They make great conversation starters. :)
Our week was really great! The new gator we found last week met with us twice. We had dinner one time and the other time with had a snack and a lesson about the Atonement based in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The husband's family found out that they had the missionaries over and they are apparently really excited. Hopefully things will keep going well there.

Not only have the Christmas lights brightened our week, but also the He is the Gift card giving. Everyone likes He is the Gift cards. We even gave one to a lady who said she was Buddhist, but told us she honors Jesus too. She liked it. Who wouldn't like a passalong card with a hashtag on the back. Everyone pretends to be making fun of hashtags, but we all secretly know we like them. #nosecrets #sharethegift. But on the note of that lady, I wonder if she celebrates Christmas since she honors Jesus and all...

Ernestine is doing well getting ready for her baptism. She stopped drinking beer this week, but still has some alcoholic eggnog someone gave her. We're slowly helping her and her husband to accept that they can be strong and not take yucky stuff, even if someone offers it to them. They are really coming along though, and she will be able to make January 10th, if not sooner.

Merry Christmas from the sunny gulf shore! It's 70 degrees today. :)

-Sister Laura Cooper

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stories for the Grandkids

Last night, before I went to bed, I flipped back over the past week of journal entries and I was like wow this is a week that will not be forgotten. So many totally out there stories. I can see myself as a Grannie forcing my grandkids to listen to these stories over and over again haha!
"When I was on my mission when I was just 20 years old..."
My companion and I were walking down the street before a dinner appointment and came upon two guys outside talking. We stopped to talk to them, and found out one lived at that house, and one was visiting from California. After talking a while, my companion decided to give them a pass along card. The visitor asked "is this about the Mormons" and we said "yes, it is?", then he proceeded to start a long lecture about what he knew about the Mormons, and asked us if we'd heard of Joseph Smith. We, of course, said yes. Then he told us he knew Joseph Smith was a treasure hunter and that he wrote three different Bibles. Not pausing to let us talk, or responding to requests for time to talk, he continued for half an hour, continuously repeating some sermon Jesus apparently gave that said he was preparing a group of people for hellfire. Then he told us Mormons are that group. The whole time, the Navarre resident, his brother, was like "you don't know that!" "they are just spreading the word!' Finally, the Navarre-living brother went inside, and we got away from the other one. Maybe we've planted a seed with the defender!
Another 2 quick finding stories. A less-active member introduced us to a man, Anthony, and his significant other, Virginia, who wants to learn more about Christ and raise their daughter to know about him. Anthony is a less-active member, and a "lost sheep" (meaning he isn't on the ward roster). It was such a miracle to meet them! We were able to go back and see the couple this week and I was really impressed that Anthony was not resistant to our visit at all. Virginia talked for a while with us, and told us she wants to learn more!
Another cool thing happened where we biked an extra mile to go back and talk to someone we'd biked by. I don't have too much time to go into that one (out of character for this post because Grannies always have time haha!) But suffice it to say that you should never count out talking to someone because it looks awkward and way out of the way. It could totally work out!
Talk next week! Merry December to you!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Some Nights

I've probably mentioned this before, but I'll review. In the mission, 8 to 9 p.m. is "Miracle Hour". It's so awesome! Every time we walk outside at that time, we without fail meet someone who is ready to hear the restored gospel. Usually they come in large familial groups and don't find it strange at all that we are wandering around in the dark and wet coastal night. No I'm not just saying this because I'm sitting next to one of our zone leaders right now.......
Okay, just kidding to all of that... except the fact that 8 to 9 is Miracle Hour and I am sitting next to our zone leaders but luckily they are not creepin' on my email right now haha.
But truly, we have been trying our hardest this week to stay out that late, and honestly, most nights the miracle is the part where we get to run inside, turn on all the lights, and get in pajamas. Most nights no one is outside to talk to us, and if they are, they think we are loony. 
Yeah, "most nights, I don't know anymore!" <---- (Fun Lyrics, as closely as my missionary brain can remember them. Hopefully someone gets the reference!)
But "some nights I....!" Oh, I give up, I've been on my mission to long to remember the song... you know what I am going for haha. Some nights miracles do happen.
And as for all the other times, day and night alike, miracles happen as well. But most of the time the miracles aren't finding super prepared people, teaching a spirit-bursting lesson, or even getting inside a friendly home. The biggest miracle that comes from the mission, I've been told, and I am increasingly observing, is the miracle of becoming more Christlike. Every hard moment leads to more diligence, humility, faith, and hope. I think that's what Miracle Hour is really going for.
As that has been happening, we have been blessed with a few easier moments this week. Like on Tuesday night we visited a less-active lady, and her friend came over and discussed the church with us for half an hour, then told us we can visit her and her boyfriend anytime. What can I say, sometimes the challenges are totally, visibly worth it!
I'm realizing I have not really discussed my week in this post. Here's a bit about the week. I finished the Old Testament yesterday and have moved on to the New Testament. I'm trying to be at Luke 2 and 3 Nephi 1 by Christmas. I just love the Nephite Christmas story! :) That's about all I have time for today! Happy Thanksgiving!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Saturday, November 22, 2014


This week, we honed our skills at our best contacting approach...
"Hi, how are you! I'm Sister Cooper! We see that you, like us have lost your mind and are out wandering the streets in the damp cold muggy swamp weather. Do you want to talk about Jesus? Maybe family history..?"
Yeahhh... Or something like that.
I had the wonderful opportunity these week to get more acquainted with Navarre. I said last week in my letters home that I had fulfilled my two secret mission wishes. First, I wanted to be a campus sister, which I did for one day in Niceville, at our family history booth on NWFSC. Second, I wanted to train a new missionary, which I did for a week with Sister Seegrist. I failed to mention one other secret wish, that I've had ever since the day I received the Florida Tallahassee Mission map in the mail at BYU. I saw that there were some islands included in the mission and I was like... I want to go there!
Little did I know that those islands are not areas that missionaries are assigned to. Missionaries are assigned to wards and branches, not islands. But lo and behold, I got a chance to proselyte on an island this week because there is one in the Navarre area. It's where we went for beach day a while back, but there's also some neighborhoods there, and one less active we can go see. So there was another dream fulfilled!
I am getting used to all the normal, but foreign parts of being in a ward. My stomach is expanding again, and is not longer satisfied to eat dry cereal for dinner. (yep, I'm admitting what I did sometimes in Brewton). We have lots of member support, young families who have the energy to be involved, and lots and lots of streets to contact on. We met a cool new investigator by contacting this week. We will see where that goes. She is a middle-aged lady taking care of her adult son who has a brain injury. She is looking for God to be more a part of her life, in fact, she was praying when we walked up to her. 
Our district leader has challenged us to try to talk to people even in the most awkward situations this week. I think we can do it! I'll find some scriptural promises we can hope for in doing this.
"If ye shall interrupt someone riding a riding lawn mower, ye shall have eternal life"
Shoot, I can't find the reference for that. 
I've been feeling really inspired by the song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" lately. It's hard to remember he's walking with us everywhere we go, but it's true! And how much better would we be if we could see it. So I'm going to keep that in mind while we prowl the streets and teach the lessons this week.
Have a sweet one, followers!
-Sister Laura Cooper 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Neah Var Ray!

I don't know about you, but when I look at the word Navarre, I can't help but think it should be pronounced Neah (rhyming with the baby sound... that's the best way I can describe it). Var. Ray.
But it's not. It's Nah Var.

This has troubled me my whole mission.
What a precursor.
But indeed here I am in Navarre, FL. I have heard much about this place through my companion, Sister Smith, who served here, and because the zone leaders and a lot of the P-Cola Stake Leadership is here. It's a lovely town by the beach, much much much different than what I'm used to. I tell y'all, I am country folk now. I don't like the traffic, or the baby noises in church. Just having a church building was enough to get used to for me!
But even country folk can't resist the beautiful Navarre Beach! As a plus, the missionary work here is going really well. We are working with many people, especially part member families. (Part Members to work with are something that I really missed). We are helping an awesome lady quit drinking so she can get baptized in January. Sister Seegrist is a great companion, and is very bold and not shy for a newer missionary. :) We are just working on teaching together, and she wants help in using the scriptures, which I just love to dig up scriptures for everything, so that makes a good match.
The ward here is very supportive. I think I'm gonna like it here! (Annie reference, anyone?) Sorry this is short. Darn these stingy libraries and their timed computers. I'm going to have to start working on my blog the night before! I love y'all! Stay well and stay spiritual!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Collards and Primary Songs

Well, happy followers, my long ride in Brewton, Alabama is coming to an end this week. Due to the change to secret transfers, I have no idea where I am going or who I will be companions with, but I will know by Wednesday! It's going to obviously be a bittersweet ending, and a big adventure (all the clichés you can think of).

Sister Lloyd is going home in a few days and I'm moving out of the area, so two new sisters are coming here. That will be quite the challenge, considering the uniqueness of this area, but I'm sure it's inspired. I don't know if they will believe us at transfer spots if we get the chance to tell them that we meet in the Civic Center for church and are a group.

Halloween week led to some special proselyting... going tracting in dress down shirts. We handed out cards with candy and guess what... no one rejected them hehe. Brewton folks are smart. We met a lady that wanted to visit our church and find out what we have for the children. We were kind of like... we have everything but a source of children! But she is interested in checking it out and bringing like 4 kids so hooray if that happens. Something for the new sisters to follow up with.

We helped at the Library with the Halloween Fair, with me on the face paint again. Lots of strange paint requests for Halloween and many many requests for sparkles, even by boys. I think my favorite was the child who asked for a red dog with pink spots and sparkles. Kids and their creativity!

Yesterday was really good, even though it was really cold and I was plagued with a headache all day. Britney and Vicki both bore their testimonies, and they invited us over for dinner so they could say good bye to sister Lloyd. The Dad, James, cooked up a big southern meal of fried chicken, collards, cornbread, and a little peppered rice. Minus the rice, that is the exact same meal I had when I entered the mission field. It's like the go to meal here.

After dinner we practiced Britney's lines and songs for the Primary Program. It was a little cliché, but I have to admit there was a special spirit getting to sing the primary songs by the fire with this family, some of my favorite people I met on my mission. I sure will miss them.

Even though we weren't supposed to find out about transfers until this morning, the zone leaders called last night at like 10 and told us. I like these zone leaders. They get the info out. So I was not expecting to just be meandering around the apartment and all of the sudden have Sister Lloyd be like on the phone with the zls and telling me I'm leaving. Saved me the drama of the waiting through studies though haha!

I'll let you know next week where I'm at. Until then, peace and blessings to you!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, November 2, 2014

20 Kids and a Bounce House

Back in DeFuniak Springs, I thought that there isn't really a population of children in backwoodsy towns. I recently realized that I was mistaken. It most certainly depends on the woods you live in. Here, everyone who's anyone has a little child in their arms or holding their hands or roaming the building. Granted, the family trees here can be a little more curled up a branch in all directions than the trees in some other places, but as for little ones, they are not in short supply.

That was made evident at the Fall Festival (not trunk or treat! Not enough people? Too many trucks instead of cars? I don't know why). Lots of people from Brewton and Jay made it there, including the part member family we are teaching-- the Morelys. They have a daughter and a baby boy, and the daughter went nuts over the little 2 person bounce house that someone decided to blow up.

The bounce house was only about 3 feet high and could fit one young child comfortably and 2 young children if they wanted to hold hands and bounce, but guess what... the kids all ate sugar and before we knew it there were 5 children the bounce house, ranging from toddlers to 10 year olds. They had the thing like sunk to the ground, but somehow still managed to make the poor little thing the highlight of the evening. Investigator kids, less-active family kids, recent convert kid (Britney!), and the regular member kids in the branch got to know each other in the brawl of the bounce house. I thought it was a fun and cliché but wonderful missionary moment demonstrated by the little ones.

As far as traditional missionary work this week (haha) we've started teaching the Plan of Salvation to Billy and he loves it. I used to think that people would just naturally have the questions that the Plan of Salvation answers, but it seems like most of the time, people don't really think about it until missionaries or someone else brings it up. The Bowlers brought a video to Billy's lesson that they wanted to watch with him. It went through a few different questions that the Plan of Salvation can answer. It started great discussion of what he hadn't been taught about in his Baptist upbringing, and what he did learn about, but didn't have the why of it. We are excited to teach the rest of it to him. He's expressed interest in the after death part, and how we believe in another chance for the dead. Should be some great discussion ahead.

In other news, our apartment is currently being inspected for leaks because of a mushroom that popped up out of our shower wall. True story. We might have to live with the Jay Sisters, which is not a very fun sleepover when we still need to work in Brewton. Hopefully it's for a day or less. Don't worry, I can still get mail in Brewton. Write away. ;)

Love ya peeps!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, October 13, 2014

Festival Season

F is for Fall and Festivals and Finding down here! This week took us all over the place sort of unexpectedly as we travelled to interviews with President, around town trying to get our Halloween/Snake themed Family History Booth together, and down to Munson to do finding. We cleaned a very cluttered house and conquered the Froot Loop mountain therein.

The highlight of the week was definitely when we finally got to do our booth down in this little corner of the Jay Sisters' area... Munson. There isn't anything there really, except a campground. That's where we reported to do our finding. It reminded me of my middle childhood days, camping in Chester, CA. We dressed down and worked in the dirt, meeting people from all over the Panhandle and Alabama. Since our booth was Halloween themed, our sign said, "Are there any snakes in your family?" and we had a skeleton, and a skull that laughs and chatters it's teeth when you talk to it. All of that really caught everyone's attention. A lot of children ran over because they thought we would have real snakes. It's a good idea for our next booth.

While there we saw the best "_____ Life" sticker known to man. Better than all the others we have seen, which now includes Salt Life, Mud Life, Bama Life, Country Life, and Christ Life. On Saturday we saw one that said ETERNAL LIFE. It was the best thing ever. Every missionary had to sneak a picture with it while hoping the owners of the vehicle did not come around.

I love getting to talk to a bunch of people I've never seen before and for most part will never see again! Not only are we going to meet the whole town of Brewton, but the whole population of the Pensacola stake. :)

Peace until next week. Read your conference talks! :O

-Sister Laura Cooper

Spiritual Confidence

I will theme this post around my favorite talk from Conference-- Elder Klebingat's talk, more than likely soon to be titled "Spiritual Confidence". I loved that talk, and it was a unique answer to a question that I had. You know those questions that everyone brings to conference, looking for a sermon just for them? This was the answer to mine. I wish the talks were already printed on, but alas they are not.

What I liked about this talk is the reflection about how we would feel if we had a personal interview with the Savior. I think I would be excited, and nervous, hoping that He wouldn't bring up my weaknesses, or how I have not always answered promptings, or how I have unrighteous desires to be on Pinterest right now, even though I am on the mission. The talk addressed what we can do to have spiritual confidence in ourselves, and know that we are doing our best. They are the basics-- prayer, scriptures, repentance, forgiveness, ect. If we faithfully do these things, we cannot believe the voice of the adversary in our heads saying we are not good, we are not accepted of the Lord, the reason we are going through trials or are not successful is because we are bad. If we do the basics of the Gospel consistently, we can know the Lord is pleased.

Much of the conference was about the prophet, am I right? I was noticing that the whole time. Also, Elder Callister's talk about parenting stood out to me-- yikes! I must be growing old!

The best part of Conference Weekend was that Billy, who has not been to an LDS church service since he was referred to the missionaries five years ago, came all the way to Jay to watch Conference! And he loved it. We have a few talks from the other sessions we want to watch with him too because one of his concerns is about prophets. Hopefully just coming and watching Conference, regardless or the topics of the talks, will help him resolve that. We are so excited for him. He makes both of us glad we are still here.

Interviews with President are tomorrow. Hope I have spiritual confidence haha!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Heaven's Eyes

You know what is crazy? The fact that God is watching over Brewton. It must difficult with all of them trees in the way, but somehow he does it. I have two evidences for the week that such is happening.

First, we had this most wonderful and strange day on Friday. We live right by the high school... and it's Homecoming. We held Weekly Planning because our street was blocked off for the homecoming parade and it would have been hard to get around. So in the middle of our planning session we went downstairs to watch the parade go by. Our house was aparently ahead of where spectators were allowed to stand, so we were the first people on the parade route, and we got SO MUCH CANDY. :D

You may be thinking that was the tender mercy I am referring to, but wait, it gets better. After the parade, we finished our planning session and got ready to go to a lesson with Billy. The parade had been over for like an hour, so you would think we would be able to get out of our neighborhood in a reasonable amount of time. Ha. Not so. Our usual 20 minute journey to Billy's place turned into an hour journey because of the backup running through not just our neighborhood, but all of Brewton.

Finally, we arrived and knocked on the door. He was down for having a lesson, but said the Bowlers (senior couple) were coming to visit him in just a few minutes. We sat down with him, and started to watch Lord, I Believe, in hopes it would help him work out some doubts he has, while emphasizing how we learn from the prophet and apostles. In the middle of the talk, the Bowlers showed up and joined our lesson.

When the talk was over, Sister Lloyd asked Billy what stood out to him, and he said that when we came over, he had just finished reading the story of the demon-possessed boy out of Jesus the Christ. (Yes, he is reading JtC). He said that when Elder Holland started telling that story, he knew he really needed to pay attention. He emphasized that it had not been like an hour or two since he read that, but "no more than five minutes". And then he told us that it helped him realize he needs to investigate more seriously, and that he feels God is leading him to do something about what we are saying.

Sister Lloyd and I are so excited for him, and the Bowlers are just tickled that they got to be there to see that. We were all timed just right by an inspired parade traffic jam! That is the real tender mercy I am talking about.

Second, we learned this morning that God must have some very important plan for us and Brewton... because we found out we are staying together for our 5th transfer. At first I was upset a bit, because I've been here so long, but there must be a super good reason. Can't question, just got to figure out what it is.

Now, why call this "Heaven's Eyes" of all things? Because how do we deal with having to wonder why the Lord does what he does? We listen to a song Sister Lloyd just recently introduced me to, from The Prince of Egypt, called by the same title of this blog.

Lai lai lai lai lai lai lai! It fixes everything. Listen to it.

-Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, September 22, 2014

Salt Life, Mud Life, Christ Life

I don't remember if this is really a thing out west or anywhere else in the country... but everyone around here like to have stickers on their trucks that say Salt Life. No one is really sure what it means, or why they have it, but everyone wants one on their truck. Unless they want a Mud Life sticker instead, which I am guessing means they like the backwoods more than the beach. And then there's the people that have "Christ Life", usually accompanied by a giant cross on the back of their truck, and I am thinking that means that they have forsaken outdoorsy fun and instead like to engage in intensive southern worship. This week, it's fair to say we have earned all three stickers.

Salt Life... we went to the beach today with some of our favorite sisters in the P-cola zone. It felt good to have the good old slightly sunburned face, sandy skin feeling. All that was missing was the salty hair. Guess I will have to save that for my future RM life. The water was warm and very blue, and Sister Lloyd got to experience the sugar sand for the first time. I saw it in Destin, but she has always served in landlocked areas, and has never gotten to see it. We also learned that it makes great sandcastles.

Mud Life... we earn this every time we go visit the Howells after a rainstorm... their parking area is all dirt and floods like none other. However, even with not much rain this week, we still got to enjoy some mud life because Sister Nelson and I on our exchange went walking to an appointment to save some mileage and get out to meet people. We got a little off track on the backwoodsy road, and ended up having to cross a little ditch where a stream had once been. I stepped on the bottom and sank with my brand new shoes about a foot deep into wet clay mud. They survived though and we still made it to the appointment.

Christ Life... Of course, being a missionary I would have to select this sticker to place on the back of our Maliboat. We are just trying everyday to help the people of Brewton learn more about Christ and following Him, even though most everybody thinks they have that figured out. Usually, we can at least get them to enjoy the Book of Mormon as a book that talks more about Jesus. See one of my favorite scriptures, 1 Nephi 19:9. Our lessons this week were a little challenging because people just aren't seeming to want to make commitments, much less keep them, rather just sit and hear the word of God. But it's all good because we get to live "Christ Life" everyday and try to help others do the same.

Peace til next time. Love ya happy followers!

-Sister Laura Cooper

New People to See

I'm going to make a semi short post this week! Having a case of writers block like I sometimes do. This week all of our investigator lessons were a result of the family history street contacting we did last transfer. That was great to see. Sometimes it feels like we are never going to get to see anyone new in this area, but somehow people come around.

That lady that I talked about in last week's email let us see her twice this week and she has started reading the Book of Mormon. She has a lot of random questions about our believes, and like most people, sort of gets the mission rules confused with the commandments (I don't blame her, missionaries do seem a little Amish!) But she is looking to gain hope and she wants to start turning more to Christ and to religion so we are looking forward to helping her.

We also got in to see the lady, Pam, that we've been doing family history with and had recently given her a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation. She read it and said it helped her understand why she likes family history so much. She has many Mormon hobbies and beliefs (she wrote a little essay on America being a blessed land where a lost tribe is). She also teaches Sunday School at a local church. We just found that out. That can be hard on the mission. People are prepared to hear the gospel, but just don't think they are!

Well, I hope my writers block let's up next week. Love y'all!

Here's a scripture from my studies.... Proverbs 9:6. 6:9 is good too.

-Sister Laura Cooper

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kids in Charge

We aren't sure what it was about this week, but we spent a ton of it running around seeing members. It's funny because we don't have very many members (and like most areas, half of the members on our branch roster don't even exist at the address listed), but we teach as many lessons as every other area teaches to recent convert and less active or returning members, because like every member in the group is one of those 3 things. And they all like to see us... a lot! We've been asked by more than a few members if we can come see them everyday. 

We have a joke of sorts going on between the missionaries that we can't leave Brewton for anything without receiving some call from members like "oh no where are you!" But this week it's no joke, because the Bowlers have gone home for a short time, a the whole group is like in a slight panic. And that is how us, the Elders, and the Relief Society President (thank goodness for her), are back to running the Brewton Group like we did between the reigns of the Jenkins and the Bowlers. Attendance was a little skimpy at church this week, but we didn't have any major crisis, and Sister Elliott got there so yay for that.

One of Sister Lloyd's nightmares was fulfilled this week when we had to go get a canker sore of mine burned off at the infamous Brewton hospital. We've decided that if we were allowed to go contacting there we wouldn't even have to work the rest of the day. The whole town is there even though everyone hates it. Sister Lloyd heard several life stories of individuals in the waiting room, as well as many stories about people's plans to get out of Brewton to somewhere with something better to do than sit around in the hospital.

Oh we had a meal appointment this week! We usually have one a transfer. It was a spontaneous one where Sister Elliott's nonmember husband (Britney's dad) was like "let's feed the sisters pizza" and then did. Maybe he's starting to like us!

Last story... we met up again with this lady named Chastity that we street contacted a while back. When we met her, I was like "it would be so funny to have an investigator named Chastity", but she wasn't too interested. We saw her outside last night and decided to stop by and check on her. We ended up hearing a life story, but more than that, she wanted us to tell her how she can have more peace and how she can help her daughter have a stronger family, and that kind of stuff which we happen to be able to help with. She said we can stop by in a few days, so we may well soon have an investigator named Chastity after all.

Appreciate yall! Keep prayin for Brewton!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beach Vacation

Before I came out on the mission, I think I had a limited idea of what a fun vacation is. Usually, it would have to involve swimsuits, theme parks, airplanes, and sand. This week we had our zwick vacation! And even though we had to stay dressed up the whole time, we had to drive there through backwoodsy roads, I slept on the floor, and it involved about 9 hours total of hearing old people talk, I thoroughly enjoyed Zwickcation! 

The half mission conference was held in Fort Walton Beach (hence the title of beach vacation, although we only saw the beach from a passing distance), and the night before we got to go to a member-missionary fireside as well. Not sure how long that was supposed to be, but we didn't get back to our one night residence of the Niceville apartment until like 10. Elder Zwick was basically calling on unsuspecting members to share missionary experiences like the whole time. People were scared haha.

At the conference the next day, the four west mission zones gathered to hear Pres and Sister Smith, and Elder and Sister Zwick. Elder Zwick told a lot of stories from his mission like the time he was training a new missionary and opening a new proselyting area. In order to do this, he and his trainee had to buy some horses in Argentina and swim them across the Bolivian border (which was illegal), and use them to haul materials to build a chapel in this little Bolivian villiage. He stayed there for 17 months, trying to finish the chapel and build a water well so that the people had something to drink instead of the corn liquor they were dependent on. I was like "whoa and I thought I was cool when me and sister bennion were the first Defuniak sisters."

And then in his after lunch talk, he was going on about working with members and I asked him how we could help a branch do missionary work on others, when they are still returning members or recent converts themselves. He ended up directing like half of the rest of his talk to me. It was too funny and a little awkward.

I had better move on to the rest of the week. We had a special experience with one of our family history contacts I've mentioned before. We have been just fellowshipping with her and doing some family history for her, but this week she asked us if we are in school or anything and we said no, we are nothing but missionaries right now. She was like wow you have it easy, you get to do family history all day, and then we got to be like, actually this is what we do! And I gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlets. She said she would read it. :)

Another sweet thing that happened is we got to meet with the new relief society president for Jay and explain Brewton in its fullness to her. She told us all about her crazy younger years and how she feels like she can help the members of Brewton who struggle so much with addictions and hardships. She is going to be like our best friend up here. 

Okay, I've got to get on sending some pictures home from this members computer that will give me who knows what argument when I plug my camera in. Wish me luck lol!

Love y'all!
-Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Sister Standing

It's now official-- I've been with Sister Lloyd longer than any other companion. It seems like everyone has to have their 4 transfer companion these days. I'm glad it's with her and not with someone crazy. Not that there's any crazy sisters in the FTM haha.

Once Thursday last week came around I realized just how much change there really was in the zone. Our DL we've had for 4 transfers is gone, his new comp has only been in the area two weeks and now he is training, one of our beloved STLs has moved elsewhere in the zone (not our STL anymore-wah!), the Jay Sisters changed, the Pace Sisters are no more, and yep! Sister Lloyd is like my only friend in the zone now it feels like! And the other Milton STL. She's pretty great. I have been assigned by Sister Lloyd to exchange with the new STL and break it to her that she has to be our BFF because we have lost our last one. I'll do my best.

This week we met with a couple people we street contacted. We've been doing family history with them, and one lady is really opening up to us. She's a full time grandma, and a long time widow. She's been through a lot in her life. We've just been visiting and doing family history with her, but we got more into religious discussion this week so we are hoping to start teaching her soon. Wish we had an iPad that we could just be like "here's a video that would uplift you!" but I guess we will have to be more creative than that.

Things are going good with our eternal gator Billy; he gets things really well. He makes me want to just blabber on and on while I'm teaching because we just don't have that many people here who understand what the heck we are talking about. He's just taking the actual steps into the church really slow I guess. We'll be praying for how we can help him.

Last crazy thing that happened with the transfer-- Elder Thackerary's trainee, is someone I know. We met in the MTC, but he went home after a few days. Now he's back out and in my area... and we have not got the fact that we know each other out in the open yet. But I can tell he recognizes me from his good old MTC district. :P Awkward haha!

Well, I'm speeding on to email more peeps and send more pics! Love ya followers!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Growing Roots Here

Well, I better not go around thinking that I've done talked to everyone in this town because SURPRISE! I'm staying here another round! This joins me in the ranks of one of the infamous 4 transfer companionships. Usually it happens to Sister Trainers. Maybe we are our own special kind of undercover sister trainer companionship. We teach at zone training by way of telepathy, and for exchanges we do overnight area blitzes with all the other sisters in the zone. Haha. Or we are just good comps for each other and we need to stay together a long time. Who knows.

I just became the missionary in the branch who has been here the longest. Not the longest out of all the missionaries ever, but the longest out of who we will have here in the upcoming transfer. We will have Elder Thackeray, his new companion, Sister Call and her new companion, Sister Lloyd, and me. I'm even older in the branch than the senior couple and senior couples never transfer!

Oh, and this makes one more transfer I have successfully avoided becoming a trio. Almost every sister has been in a trio for at least one transfer due to some bulging amounts of sisters and not enough areas for them. But I have avoided and continue to do so. :D

Well, back to the week! Last week during weekly planning, we chose to work as a companionship on humility. Sister Lloyd warned me that crazy things would happen if we did that, but I was like "let's do it!"

On Tuesday of this week, we came home from district meeting to find that we had no running water in the apartment. Some construction was being done down the street and the water had to be turned off for "no longer than an hour". Four hours passed and we still had no running water, except for a little sputtering every time we turned a faucet on. We called our landlord and the city of East Brewton and it took them like A WHOLE DAY to figure out what was wrong and fix it. So we had no water for 24 hours, except the emergency drinking water from the closet. That was humility part one.

The other major part of humility was our contacting this week. It was like Brewton had run dry of people to talk to. We only got like one new potential this week-- a fairly good one. We were frustrated though will all the walking and biking around and no one to talk to. Then humility really got some points because we saw this lady at the top of some porch stairs and we asked if we could talk to her. She said yes, so I quickly walked up the stairs and fell on my face. HA. Huuuuuumility.

Some great stuff still came out of this week. Our lesson with eternal investigator Billy was on prophets. The Spirit was definitely there, and even though he already knows so much about the church, he seemed to really connect with the basic truths of the Restoration! It was awesome.

This is a long blog haha. Peace out now. Boonies Forever.

-Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shaping and Sculpting

Me and Sister Lloyd have developed, sort of on accident, a little tradition of obtaining a childhood toy every transfer. First, we were stuck inside during that storm back in April, and we got Wonderlooms to make bracelets. Last transfer we each had to get a little nerf pistol because district activity was a Nerf War. This transfer we've decided to make it Play-Doh. We bought a few containers of Play-Doh and a few cutters that make animal shapes. Don't judge, there's nothing to do in Brewton on P-Day and we eat dinner alone most nights. This is how we keep morale high.

So anyway, as we've been sculpting away making farm animals and busts of ourselves and our BFFs the Sister Trainers, we've been also been shaping ourselves and our area. We have gone biking-finding-walking-time crazy. It's our favorite thing to do, and it's sometimes the most frustrating thing to do because we just can't find a soul to talk to. It is also scary because some people are just really creepy. We have to carry cards to give out that aren't filled out with our number, just in case we run into the crazies on the streets, which happens like at least once a week. But like I'm saying, all of this is making us more intensely into the work of the Lord. We find great joy in meeting awesome people like a few that we met this week who are like "When I lived somewhere else I knew people from your church and they were awesome, and I want to learn about my family, and I'm church shopping, ect."

As well, we have great angst over getting ourselves in yet another sketchy neighborhood with sketchy people out of which we must bike at great speeds.

It's worth it when we met prepared people. We found a sweet family this week. We stopped to talk to a lady sitting on her porch, and she has a husband and 5 kids. No one has that here haha. Everyone is like "I live here with my mom and my cousin Joe and my friend's nephew Pete, and my girlfriend". Whatever works for you I guess haha. :P But I do hope we can get to know this young-ish family and teach them. The mom told us she would really like to learn about her family history once the kids are back in school, and that when she's seen us out, she's known that we are Mormons and wanted to meet us.

The things that keep us going. :D Shaping orange and purple play doh cows and shaping the city of Brewton one day at a time

-Sister Laura Cooper

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Outta Nowhere

Some weeks you just never know what will happen next. Welcome to that week haha! We are still trying to focus on finding and talking to everyone. As usual, lots of random happenings came out of that. We met a lady named Vida (I like to call her Vida Min) who basically just said all of the right things. She is all about Christ and families, but she doesn't go to church right now. She wants to learn about her genealogy, but doesn't want to buy She's so cool. Hopefully we will get to work with her. 

More out of nowhereness. We had the 3rd emergency transfer in the area since I've been here. One of the elders had to go home for a medical problem, so we got a new elder in from FSU campus. The Lord keeps sending us missionaries from Tallahassee. They done don't like it out here in the boonies but whatevs. Hope he survives and isn't too shocked when the first person he talks to on  the street is one of the many town loonies haha.

One of the recent converts we visit, baptized before either of us got here, basically came to us as therapists and told us we are the only people that understand her. We weren't really sure what to do so we just let her cry it out for a while and told her Jesus loves her. She was back to semi normal the next time we saw her, so hopefully it helped some...Then yesterday out of nowhere our lady who walked in to sunday school last week came to all three hours this week. We visited her at her Avon booth on Saturday, but for obviously reasons couldn't do a lesson with her or anything. But then she totally made her way to church on sunday. We aren't sure if she is investigating or church hoping for fun but she did say we can start teaching her lessons and such. And she actually helped us set up the church before it started. The elders investigator came early and helped too. That made two nonmembers serving in the church. Score one for them.
Expecting the unexpected and more out here.
 -Sister Laura Cooper

Saturday, August 2, 2014

First Birthday

With the passing of Pioneer Day, I have hit a significant missionary landmark. I am 1 year old in mission time! Sister Lloyd and I had a wonderful birthday party on our roof. She got me a Frozen 1st Birthday card, a birthday cake milkshake, and loaned me her lighter so that we could burn a shirt. It's days like these when I wonder what I have done with my mission! Sometimes I think that a sister who has been out a year is so old! It's not like I don't feel like I've been out very long (well, sometimes I do) but it's like I want to do so many things with my mission and I don't have all the time in the world. Yikes moment. Better bunker down and work like crazy for my last 6 months.

We did a lot of talking to people this week (again!). I am literally walking through pairs of shoes! They get especially torn up when humidity showers rage through Brewton and I'm swimming along the flooded streets... Well, at least I'm wading from ankle up. Yeah the dress shoes don't like that. Some miracles because of it though. We got to sit down with a lady we met last week and start working with her a little bit. We've met a few people that either really want to do family history or check out our little Brewton congregation or whatnot.

And then there was the lady we waved at who somehow found the church on Sunday. Really can't explain that one.

Can't write too well right now, but hopefully I'll keep having miracles to share and not just crazy people stories! Love y'all!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Street Life

Our week essentially began with Zone Training on Tuesday morning. Zone training constitutes of a bunch of missionaries getting together and talking about the theory of missionary work and then acting it out. It's too much sitting for little restless me, so sometimes I'm known to be a little bit rambunctious but this time I didn't even get in trouble for anything. :D :D
We watched a good Mormon Message called The Wrong Road or something. The Zone Leaders really had to stretch to make it fit. We are pretty sure they just wanted to show the video so they came up with this presentation about how if we don't meet our goals we were just on the wrong road but now we know the right one. Oh dear.
Most of the rest of the training was on street contacting and using family history. One set of sister trainers told us we should spend between half an hour to two hours on the streets everyday talking to new people.  President Smith has asked us to mostly use the family history approach. We decided to give this finding time thing a try (especially since we were going on exchanges the next day, and we wouldn't want to be caught disobeying their counsel hehe). And even though we didn't get to teach that many lessons, we felt so accomplished just getting out there and giving everyone a chance. Lots of people are curious about what we are up to, and are usually just happy to hear that we are not selling anything or teaching something of the devil. We talked to a few people on this one street (who are all kin to one another) and this family is just very friendly and they want to know about family history!  We love people who want to know about family history. Seems like our leaders are kind of inspired! (Guess I can't rebel then...) JK rebellion is bad and I don't want to do that. :)
This week I will hit my year mark. That makes me one old missionary. :( But I can't be having frowny face over that because that is an important milestone! My farewell get together was a year ago today. *insert clichés about how fast it's gone*
It's been an awesome year. They say the last six months is time to shine. Bring it.

-Sister Laura Cooper