Monday, May 26, 2014

Se Habla Flores

First things first.... the transfer update! Me and Sister Lloyd, as well as the sisters in the Jay area are staying. But I have happy news! Actually two pieces of really happy news! 1) Another one of my favorite part member family investigators from a former area is now baptized! :) :O Sister Milne didn't tell me she had a baptismal date, the last I heard was that she was coming to church. But I always kind of knew that she would get baptized. I met her in the middle of my second transfer there. We went to her house in the daytime as a back up to another family we were working with. She came to the door with a baby in her arms and was like "I just got her calmed down, but come back sometime" and then we visited for a few minutes. We came back and she told us that she and her husband wanted to have the baby blessed into the church.

She was a golden gator from then on. She didn't stand us up or anything, The less-active husband came to church with her and their two kids on the day of the blessing and that started her going to church and progressing. Now she's baptized! They will make a wonderful addition to that ward.

Another exciting thing happening,,, Sister Bennion is coming to be with me in the Pensacola Zone! I miss her so dearly and have just recently overcome the temptation to call her up at random times when I don't know what to do with an investigator. That  is unfortunately against mission rules, even if she is in my zone, but now at least I can see her at zone training, stake events, and transfer spots if we ever both have to go. And we have the same legit sister trainers so if necessary we can communicate through them haha!

Back on Planet Brewton things are strange as ever, but the work is speeding up here, I feel. This week we were able to teach our little 10 year old investigator, Brittany. She would be baptized already, but her sort of returning to activity mom has been distracted from getting herself and Brittany to church lately because a bunch of obscure relatives are living with them for a time. But things have been going better with her than they were a few weeks ago, We've got one of the obscure relatives that likes to listen to our lessons when we come over,,, she's 7. But hey it helps Brittany to listen when she's got a buddy to listen with so no complaints,

The greatest excitement of the week was teaching the famous Spanish people we met on exchanges- the Flores'. They are very humble, and the dad especially wants to lead his family toward church-going and good morals, We brought a member, a young counselor in the Branch Presidency who served his mission in Chile. We taught them the Restoration (ok he taught most of it), and they were really impressed. They weren't able to make it to church this week like they said they would, but the member offered to pick them up next week so they are more comfortable. :)

That's about it. Oh! DeFuniak Sisters are becoming a trio for a few weeks before Sister Hamilton goes home. That's so weird haha. I have now successfully made it 7 transfer cycles and going on one more without being in a trio. Heck yeah.

-Sister Laura Cooper

Monday, May 19, 2014

That Awkward Weekend When...

Since I wrote last, we have experience approximately 5 days of awesome and 2 days of awkward, seasoned with Extreme Awkward. First, I must comment of the most awesome thing. One of the first investigators I ever taught on my mission finally got baptized 2 days ago.


His name is James, the husband in a Part Member family in DeFuniak. Teaching him and his less-active (at the time) wife the Restoration lesson was one of the best and most memorable lessons I've taught on my mission. I'm so happy to see that even though the road was long, he was able to make it there. He and his wife have been attending church together for months now, and now he is baptized! :)

So back in Brewtonland our super sweet week included officially picking up this Spanish speaking family as investigators. It's a Dad, Mom, and two little girls. They can speak English to some degree, but I got to teach them twice this week in Spanish. Sister Lloyd helped out by praying for me the whole time. They asked about coming to church, and some Spanish RMs have volunteered to help them out when they do come. :D

We also got back up with Kali, who has been hard to meet with the last like week and a half. And we got Renee going on her family history.

Then the awkward weekend began. Contacted potentials and formers. A couple were like "get away creeps" and one turned out to have passed away... That was an awkward conversation with his granddaughter. But she's nice though. And an Assembly of God minister. That too.

Finally, the pinnacle of awkward. The drunk teenager party happening in the other half of our duplex apartment. So we live in a former firehouse. There are four compartments to our building. The bottom right compartment is laundry and storage that no one can get into. The bottom left is storage no one can get in to. The top right is us, and the top left is our neighbors, Matthew and Savannah--an 18 year old high school grad, and a 17 year old senior who are dating. We share the staircase that leads to both of our apartments. They decided to throw a big party Saturday night, involving about 7 other teenagers showing up, a lot of beer chugging and bottle throwing, and some game involving setting something on the roof of their car on fire. There was karaoke and dancing, and my favorite part, BASKETBALL on our INDOOR, SHARED staircase.

Oh dear glory... Welcome to mission life.

-Sister Laura Cooper

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Concentrated Crazy

Usually, a missionary's whole week is filled with crazy. I think this week has been pretty slow, and run of the mill though, for most of it. The exception was when the Sister Trainers came to check out the area. That's when the crazy broke loose.

We had zone conference during the morning and afternoon. Lots of good stuff and lots of repeated stuff as usual. We found out that like 80% of people who say the go to church go once a month or less. So that is why we have problems with people saying that they will be a church and then they aren't. They are waiting a month I guess.

I had to bring my bike to the zone conference because my brake was getting loose and causing me to slide all about. No fun. But then it got fixed by one of the APs. After the conference, me and Sister Lloyd split, and I took one of the Sister Trainers, a long-time buddy of mine, Sister Dyches, back to Brewton. We strapped both of our bikes onto our not-so-nice bike rack, and were very much avoided as we bounced through bumper-to-bumper Pensacola traffic.

Glad we didn't have any bike missile action that day.

Once back in Brewton we biked over to see Renee and teach her a new member lesson. When we got there her ex-husband told us she was in the hospital, but that we could teach him instead. So we did. On the porch. With the golf-ball sized buggies. Sister Dyches thought he was a nonmember the whole time because of his long beard. Mormons are funny...

During that ride, I also managed to pop one of my tires, and we couldn't use the bikes we worked so hard to bring, for the rest of the exchange.

Then we went wandering and talk to this guy "Salvador" and his little children on bikes. Oh to be a Spanish sister for a few minutes every couple of weeks lol. It's an adventure.

Next morning, before we traded back, we taught a lesson to this random contact we had from a few weeks back and let's just say we might not be able to go into that house anymore... For many reasons, including the fact that the smoke in there made me feel a little loopsy the rest of the day.... #sketch

So that's basically the concentrated crazy. The Lord is definitely trying to teach us something because straaaaange things are hap'nin.

I hope you all had a happy mothers day and that your mommies are doing well. :) Talking to my mother and other mother figures was the best!

-Sister Laura Cooper 

Me and Sister Lloyd doing some volunteer work with the Historical Society.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lighting up the Sky

Tornados and floods and winds and lightning and somehow we still had a pretty good week! We learned how to make those Wonderloom Bracelets because we weren't allowed to leave the house for two days. So we hunkered down, ate chips, made bracelets (including a CTR one, holla), listened to the like 5 CDs we own and both like (seriously, whoever makes me a CD of a bunch of MoTab at conference will be my best friend), practiced the piano on the keyboard we have for the Brewton Group, and even made Plan of Salvation cut outs.

Whew. We were sure happy to get outside! I guess some crazy stuff happened down south in Pensacola area, but up here we were fine. Just a lot of "LIIIIGHTING UP THE SKYYYYYY!" I'm sure no one will get that reference. It came from an obscure EFY song Sister Smith had. That's okay. It makes sense to me! :D

Once we got outside the weather flipped and it again was hot as heck! :D Dusty roads and scortchin sun all the day long on the bicycle. Classic Alabama life is restored.

We got two new investigators this week, and an old one that I mentioned last week, he pretty much begged us to tell him how to get baptized and what he needs to do. He confessed like his whole life to us and was like "I need to get prepared to be baptized!" and yep that was the crazy swirl of the week. A bunch of people coming to Jesus. I'll take it. :) Brewton is strange strange strange, but you just gotta love it. People here are different then people in any other area I've seen or heard of on my mission. They care about their salvation and the salvation of others more than usual. They really want to be and stay "saved", even when they don't exactly know that they want that or what that means.

They are such good people. I want to stay and build the church here forever. Except I have another college love other than BAMA. It's the one and only BYU where I must someday return and continue my quest for the knowledge and learning of the world.

But for now I will say I want to stay in Bama forever.

Yesterday we had the special opportunity to watch the broadcast of the Ft. Lauderdale temple dedication. Even though we don't get to go to the temple at all in this mission, I counted this as a halfway through present from God. Getting to go to the closest possible substitute! And what I great Hump Day present it was.

Love you all. If I'm related to you, hopefully I will be able to talk to you this weekend haha!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Out in the supposed storm, Bama jacket and all.

After the broadcast in Pensacola, Park Time!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

There's Water in the Air

The summer is back in the South, everybody. Who's ready for a nice relaxing swim... through the air of downtown Brewton... on bicycle? Yeah it's pretty legit. Me and Sister Lloyd I think are settled into our new companionship now. I no longer feel like the stress of taking over Brewton is going to cause me to go completely bonkers. :) So that's sweet.

I celebrated my hump day this past week! Sister Lloyd's birthday, then my Hump Day, then her year mark, and then if we stay together a second transfer, we will get to celebrate my birthday as well. But I'm not ready to be a full grown adult. I think I'd rather stay a teenager. Teenager and returned missionary cannot occur in the same being though, so I guess I'll have to take the birthday if I ever want to continue my education, get a job, get married et cetera. But I mean the Brewton group does need a lot of help so I could just stay here and be a teenage southern belle forever.

Hmm. Options.

Not only is there water in the air literally, but I think there is a lovely spirit of people realizing they should get baptized. So there's that kind of water floating around too. :D Figuratively. We've got three people who basically told us this week that they think it's about time they get serious about learning the Gospel and getting baptized. What? So stoked. Now we just need to talk to everyone in Brewton about that. Shweet.

We are still helping the whole group quit smoking basically. Hey. What are you gonna do except love'm? And teach their kids. That one has lead to some good progress with a little girl who we are hoping to get baptized in the next few weeks and her mom who is just coming back to church.

Things are going swimmingly I suppose. There is the Ft. Lauderdale temple dedication that we get to watch a broadcast of this sunday. TEMPLE TRIP!! (to Pensacola ward building). Close enough, right?

Love y'all, sweet followers!

-Sister Laura Cooper

Only in Brewton She Says

My new companion, Sister Lloyd said recently that if she could give a title to this week, she would call it "Only in Brewton".

Funny, I thought this week pretty well matched up with missionary work on normal planet.

Silly Tallahassee Missionaries. They just don't understand us out here in the backwoods. I haven't been myself since Sister Smith left. Being in Brewton causes all of us to lose our marbles a little bit, and she'd been here so long that her marble jar was pretty much empty haha! I miss that girl she was so funny and she really loved this area in spite of all it's crazy antics. Now it's my turn to be the one with my marbles rolling all about and my companion doesn't like the backwoods. She misses the city life back in Tallahassee. She's awesome and a super good missionary, AND she thinks Brewton is absolutely insane. But she wants to stretch this area to be better, which I admire because it's easy to come here and be like "well this is weird. that's just how it is. sweet."

We are weird. I promised her that one day she would join us in our insanity, but she doesn't think so. We'll see about that in six weeks. Y'all reading this on the blog probably can't see it, but I have just added a hugging emoji to that last sentence. Just imagine one emoji transferring its crazy to another emoji. That is what's happening.

But her Tallahassee style obedience and dedication is making me want to load back up some of my marbles and be better. It's a stressful struggle that has left me with sore legs from biking and a mouthful of worry-induced canker sores, but I think it will be worthwhile.

In other news apparently President Smith thought Brewton was it's own branch until this past week. Cool. Former Compie Smith is going to love hearing that. We always knew we were forgotten missionaries haha. We were thought to be attending a branch that didn't exist.

Yep that's my week! I need some nice vegetables or my tummy might pop.

To keep this spiritual and in the spirit of Easter I want to share a phrase my trainer taught me. "It's so doable". I say this to myself a lot when I look at what we are expected to do out here, but this week especially it has hit me. It's only doable through relying on the Savior, or else it really isn't. Without Him we would always fall short of what we can do, and everyday we would likely get further away from it. That is natural. But because of the Atonement we are invited to rise up as Christ did physically and spiritually and grow heavenward everyday. That is what my mission, especially stressful weeks like these, has taught me about Easter. We fall, but not forever. We follow the example of Christ and rise, just as "he is risen", both from the dead and from the sin he took on in Gethsemane. We can become like Him, but only through Him. Which is awesome. We are so lucky to have that knowledge.

I love yall reading this and keeping track of me out here. It means a ton!

Sister Laura Cooper