Elder James AndersonCooper was called to serve a two year mission in the Romania/Moldova mission speaking Romanian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This blog was not started until about 6 months out on his mission. Some early stories can be found in the tabs below and recent letters will be posted.
So ya it was transfer week this
week. I think I am just used to the craziness of it all, so it didn't
seem that bad at all. Although usually I have to get on a train that
leaves late at night so I have time to talk to all the missionaries who come
and go. This time our train left in the middle of the day. It was a
little weird cause I didn't get as much time with everyone as I am used
to. None the less, everything went great and it was so good to see
everyone again. This transfer day was kinda a tender one. haha It
was possibly the last time I get to see elder Poulsen out here in
Romania!! It was really weird. We were in the Metro(Subway) when I
realized I had to get off and catch my train. Elder Poulsen stayed on
metro and the doors closed shut (dramatic music playing) The doors shut
and the metro starts pulling away. Just kinda lift up my hand and wave
bye, both of us thinking..."see ya on the other side". the Metro
picks up speed and travels out of sight. haha okay enough for the over
dramatics. It is weird that I probably wont see him again as a
missionary. It also kinda showed me how much the mission experience is so
relate able to real life... I will show you how. Before the mission/ MTC
is the pre-mortal existence. When you get to the mission field you are
"born". The entire mission is your earthly life. When you
go home you "die". Your have eternity before and after your
mission, but you only have two years to live on earth. Super short time
to do and grow the most you can.
Alright so now this brings us to the
six hour train ride back to
"Just chillin in Sibiu"
Sibiu with my new comp elder W. We are
sitting on the train when elder W strikes up a conversation with
someone. Eventually this girl sitting next to me gets talking to us as
well. Well half way through the conversation, we find out she is a
member!! She hasn't been to church for a while, and is about to take a
huge step in her life. It was an amazing miracle. The missionaries
in Brasov have been trying to get into contact with her forever, and finally we
ran into here on the train! We are hoping this will make a difference in
her coming back. If Elder W hadn't have tried talking to people on
the train, she never would have told us she is a less active member. So
So now we are all settled in and we
go out contacting. We end up in Centru and clearly something is going
on. There was this huge contest going on. Not just any contest...
"My chocolate milk fix will make me strong...right?"
strong man contest! We walked up to get a better look. I look
to the front of the stage and all I see are these yoked gentlemen standing
there. They were massive. We watched as they strapped one of them
to a harness. This harness was attached to a gigantic tour bus! The
referee blew his whistle and the man started pulling the bus!! It was
rather intimidating and made me feel like a very small child. Motivated
me to work out though... so that is good haha :)
Now church happens. It was the
smallest church attendance I have been apart of. Our branch president and
his fiance were not able to come. So church meetings were entirely left
up to us. Elder Lybbert and Elder D gave the talks in
meeting, Elder W and I taught priesthood, and the sisters taught
relief society. Then after that we ended church just like normal.
There is this girl who came this week and will be here all during the school
year. She was baptized in Moldova just a couple months ago. I am
super happy to have her here. She is young and has energy that will help
the branch here for sure. I just feel bad her first week had to be the
week were no one came!
Okay now for something cool from
personal study. Alma 48:8-10
"8: Yea, he had been
strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts , or places
of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and
also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities
and the borders of their lands; yea, all...
9:And in their weakest fortifications
he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen
the land which was possessed by the Nephites.
10:And thus he was preparing to
support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their
peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might
maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians
When I read these verses, it taught
me so much. How Moroni prepared against the enemy. It says in the
scriptures as well that if all men were like Moroni the powers of Hell would
have no power or would be shaken or something like that. (paraphrasing of
coarse) So I figured I better study a bit how Captain Moroni prepared
against the enemy. First he prepared small forts or places of
resort. How can we do this? He threw up banks of earth to protect his
armies. How can we throw up banks of earth? What does our army
mean? He built walls of stone to protect the borders and his land.
Now how can we build stone walls and what do the borders and lands mean to
us? Bare with this idea, you might have different ideas, but this is what
works for me.
Small forts/places of resort:
People to talk to, places to go, or
things to do when temptation comes.
Banks of earth:
Establishing good habits/ making
plans. making sure you have the vantage point when the enemy/temptation
your desires and intentions to do
what is right. You need to protect them as much as you can. That is
why it is important to surround them with banks of earth.
Walls of stone:
Goals and standards. The line
you draw in the dirt before temptation comes (refer to Uchtdorf's talk about the
airplane flying to close to the trees)
Cities and the borders of the land:
Commandments, principles, and aspects
of the gospel
I could write another page about this
and making analogies
here and there. I will give you the privilege of
doing that yourselves. The most important thing is protecting your
army/desires. If you have no one left to fight what good are all those
other things? As long as you have at least a single soldier you are still
fighting, and waiting for reinforcements to come, or if you have a sliver of a
desire to do a certain thing, keep a certain commandment, or live a certain way
you are still fighting! How great it is when we have our army there
though, that is the goal. So ya that is kinda the spiritual part of the
letter :) Hopefully it makes some sense haha.
Love you all so much! I have a
great transfer a head of me. Elder W and I will get to work and
get stuff done here in Sibiu. Thanks for all your prayers and support,
without a doubt, it is felt on this end. Have a great week!!
James Anderson Cooper ;)
Thanks to the awesome member Eugen for some of the pictures.:)
Oh my goodness... I am tired. This email just might be describing what my life has been like this past little week.
Basically the craziness started Friday. We did our last district meeting. I played the ball game with everyone and it went well again. I can always rely on that game haha. After we took them on a journey to find their "spirit animals". It is kinda hard to explain how we did it. It is kinda like a meditation type thing. Elder Chatterton and I recorded our voices and played it for the district. Then later on that night we had our sports night. It was kinda a
Gonna miss this kid. It's been great finishing his training
rough turn out. There was one investigator and one member. To wrap it up elder Chatterton and I gave our last spiritual thought together. So we get home about 9 pm. We start packing for the trip we were going on. We were headed to Oradea for our zone conference and our district conference. We get all packed and cleaned up and get to the train station at 11:30. From there we took an hour train to this random town just out side of Sibiu. We get off the train and start our hour and a half wait for our sleeper train to come. We ended up playing some hacky sack! Before we knew it some random people had kinda jumped in the game. Basically we
Taken by a member :) So tired!
ended up playing hacky sack at a random train station at 2 in the morning with some gypsies! It was probably the funniest game of hacky sack I have ever played in my life! Because it was so late, everything was funnier. Well eventually our train gets there and we hop on. It ended up being about 3 or 3:30 when we are all settled in. So we try to get as much sleep as possible before our big meeting. We woke up at like 6 to get ready to get off the train. (gotta make sure you are ready when your stop comes cause there is always the chance the train will only stop for like 2 minutes!) So our stop comes and we get off then we catch a taxi to the Oradea church. We end up getting there at like 8:30 and the meeting started at 9. So we had some time to kinda get settled in. After this...commenced the 6 hour meeting... To be honest.... dont really know what I pulled away from the meeting. I was fighting falling asleep the whole time, but it was good. Okay now after this meeting we had a quick lunch break which consisted of two pieces of pizza. (Keep in mind we
We are both staying here in Sibiu! There is work to be done!
werent able to get a solid dinner and did not get a breakfast) After this they announced transfers to us in person! It was different :) Chatterton has a new assignment, but I am staying here in Sibiu! I am so excited to be staying to be honest. Things are switching around which will be different, but I didn't feel like my work here in this city was done. I feel like I kinda got an answer why I'm here though. The Lord really wants us to 'hit the pavement' so to speak. Sibiu needs a lot of help, so we have to concentrate ALL of our energy into it.
Alright so now, all this crazy stuff is over and we have to help set up the church for a culture activity that the Oradea branch was doing. While doing this we also had to squeeze in some interviews with President.
Eventually this activity rolls around and it was super cool. I just wish I could have been a little more awake and I could have appreciated it a little more. So now the activity ends and it has been a total of 12 hours we have been at the
Still love the clouds. It's kind of an obsession
church. After clean up and stuff, President says to go out and do two hours of contacting.... it was just after 7 pm. in the most obedient and polite way... We went and got some food first. We hadn't had a decent meal in almost a day! We then had to go get some food we could pack for Sunday cause we didnt want to buy stuff on Sunday. By the time we get all this done it is pretty late. We finally are able to get over to the other elders apartment to get some sleep. (fun story: President and the AP's kinda forgot we were coming to Oradea, so they didn't book enough hotel rooms for us. We crammed 8 elders into an apartment... the sleeping arrangements were a little less then desirable haha... made for a good story though) We get settled in, and try to get as much sleep as possible. To say the least, not much sleep was gotten that night. :) haha
We love our members!
Now this brings us to Sunday. We tried to sleep in as long as we could, but we still had to be at the church for district conference, before 9. Then we had that great meeting and everything was over and finished at like 1. We had about 5 or 6 members come in a maxi taxi. ( it is kinda a bigger taxi but a smaller bus) We then returned to Sibiu with the members in the maxi taxi....It was a bit rough. It was a 5
and a halfish hour bouncy swervey car ride. Imagine riding through the Utah/Arizona canyons bouncing up and down and doing that for the whole 5 and a half hours! I would even say that the turns and swerves were sharper and more frequent then the canyons back home. Bless the members hearts. They had woken up at 4 am drove all the way there in a maxi taxi stayed for the whole meeting and then came back that same day after the meeting on the maxi taxi.
It's going to be fine.
This now brings us to today. :) We actually didn't get to bed until like 12 last night. What we have a head is super crazy! Elder Chatterton has to pack and I have to clean all day today. We will get one solid day of sleep. (so grateful for! haha) Tomorrow we are going to hop on a 6 hour train (not a sleeper) and get to Bucharest. We then will spend
the night at someone's apartment. After that is transfer day! You already know how that is haha. Depending on timing, we might be in Bucharest until Thursday or get back to Sibiu Wednesday night... Who knows! haha..... This church is so true. :) It was a different kind of week, but all is well.
That was a huge throw up of info, sorry about that. My mind doesnt really work straight right now. Can't wait to get back on a normal schedule! Love you all so much. Thanks for you all you do! Maybe next week there will be some good spiritual stuff in there. Just know for now, I am good, happy, and strengthened through the Lord. We are doing all we need ONLY cause we have the help of our savior with us.... so ya... have a great week! ;)
Are the weeks getting faster and faster? This past week was especially weird feeling cause we did our P-day last Tuesday, so it seems even closer to the last time I was here writing to all of you.
This week elder Chatterton and I tried something. We took Dad's advice. We tried putting the law of sacrifice into practice. This week we were being more exact with the
things we did. The reason we tried this was because we were just having a stuck feeling, like the work here in Sibiu is at a stand still. We wanted to try something new to see if it helped anything, and it did. We were out contacting and it was about time to start heading home. We were pretty close to being home when I looked at him and said, we need to talk to one more person before we can end this block of contacting. So that is exactly what we did. What we normally do is ask people some survey question, and then ask if they want to meet up later and talk. Well with this man we talked to him and asked the survey questions. At the end we asked for his number and to meet up and he said no. Then the conversation switched a little and we were just talking about normal things, like cool places in Sibiu, and the differences between different countries. The conversation ended up on how the level of faithfulness of people is so different in neighboring countries. Well when we wrapped up the conversation he asked for our number and if we could meet up sometime! He went from being super closed to the idea and at the end of our conversation, he was asking for it! It was super cool!
Throughout this week we had some super fun activities. We had our sports/game night on Friday. This time we did it at the church. We played some uno, ping-pong, and some hacky-sack. We have a consistent flow of people who always come to it and then it is just a matter of time. :) The following day we had our movie night! We had a solid turn out. We had 6 investigators and 2 members! It made us super happy. We watched Megamind! It is still one of my favorite movies! It was so cool to see everyone come and connect. The people who came to our movie night are the ones who normally come to our sports nights and our English classes. Something is bound to happen with them!
So something small is kinda changing in our mission.
President Ivory wants us to switch up our study schedule a bit. He wants us to save one of our studies for after lunch. Basically he just wants us out of the house by 10 in the morning to try and find a new group of people. It is actually going pretty well....That was kinda random.... oh well :)
Now onto some of the spiritual stuff. I am about half way through Alma again, and Ill tell ya, it is just chalked full of good stuff!... obvi... it's the Book of Mormon. haha. I found something that I want to share that I really liked this week. Its in Alma 17: 11 "And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word;
yet ye shall be patient in
ye may show forth good
examples unto them in me,
and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."
Sometimes we have to be patient in our trials and challenges just so we can set a good example to others. When we set that example, not only as missionaries but as members of the church, we set it in our Lord and Savior Christ. We show them that we are able to be patient in long-suffering because of our faith and our hope that Christ has it under control. So when they see our examples they can often see that there is something else involved. :) Whenever I read about the Lamanites, my mind always relates them to the Romanians haha It helps the scriptures be more relatable. So ya there is that :)
"oh you know, just celebrating... our one year in the country mark"
I am happy to hear that everyone is doing good.
Love you all so much! Until next Monday!! :)
"After hour party with the sisters again... not really they just had this bug that they were freaking out about.... we had to go get it out of there apartment...It was at the sisters apartment and they called us at like 10 pm to go over and get rid of it... so we captured it and brought it back to our place where we killed it haha. That first picture is a selfy with the bug in the bucket"
I would have to say that this week has been one of the fastest weeks of my life! I can't believe it is already Tuesday! To explain why our Pday changed... Our entire district, except for elder Chatterton and I, had to go down to Bucharest for MLC or "Big boy meeting" So the Zl's and the STL's left Sunday and wouldn't get back until Monday night... so we didnt want to do our Pday alone, so we just waited for them. :)
This week we had our exchanges with the Zone leaders. I was with elder Lybbert and it was super cool! It was
Elder Lybbert and Cooper
awesome getting to work with someone who was in your MTC group and just see how much progress you have both made. I remembered back to a time in the MTC where elder Lybbert and I were doing a roll play with each other. We both reflected back on how hard it was and we both felt very inadequate. (It was nice to realize that wasn't just me.) We had the simple task of inviting each other to church on Sunday and we both kinda struggled with it. It was super cool cause during our exchange we had a lesson our buddy E.
We have come along way I'll just say that. It was awesome! Also during our exchange we went and visited a less active/ former elders quorum president. It isn't really his fault he is less active. He is stuck in a mental hospital and they wont let him out..... so we thought we would give him a nice visit to see how he is doing. I think we officially have two of our members who are in that hospital... that kinda really stinks. Also it was a little freaky to be in a Romania mental hospital. We were just walking the courtyard with the member and there was a ton of mental patients walking around too. Our member in there is super nice though! He keeps trying to give us referrals from his friends he is making in the hospital... it's the thought that counts right!?
We had a super successful sports night this week. We met two kids that are both 19. They came and played some sports and stuff with us and we got talking a bit. They are super chill and we are planning on meeting up with them sometime to see if they are actually interested in the gospel! I sure hope they are. It could really help the branch here to have 2 young adults here. We will see what happens with that. Counting those two we had 11 non-members at sports night! Super crazy.
"I love my District and am so grateful for them. "
Sibiu is SOO beautiful! I hope I can stay here for a while. There is something always going on in the center of the city, the mountains are super gorgeous! and the architecture is super sick. There was a super cool medieval festival in the center of town this week. It was so nuts! I just wanted to throw on armor and start swinging a sword around! There was a me devil band playing the whole time while we were watching things like people spitting fire and creepy jesters or something on stilts. Hopefully Ill be able to send the pictures cause I cant even describe it with words!
I also love this placecause I feel like I can make a difference here :) But yes keep praying for here. It's struggling area for sure.
All right so this week elder Chatterton and I started on a project. We call it project "The Lost Ones" We were going through our area book last week and realized a pattern. We
started noticing that page after page of former investigators were dropped because they had a bad number and couldnt talk on the phone. We decided that wasn't a good reason so we have gone through about half of the book and have written down addresses of all theses formers. Some of them the last time they had contact with the missionaries was in like 2005! We had some time to go out this week to try and find some of them. We confirmed some of their locations, but only got to talk to two of them. Neither of them remembered anything about missionaries... it was kinda awkward. However we are excited to keep getting out to find the lost ones! Plus it gives us more direction and purpose rather than going out everyday wandering around contacting. Ill let you know more about it next week! :)
Last little thing of the week is church. Literally every active member left church after the first hour this past Sunday. It was elder Chatterton and my turn to teach the second hour of church. We had 2 investigators stay and one other excommunicated member stay. It made it more difficult to teach with no participation, but it worked out. We are working super hard to build this branch! The work goes on!
Love you all so much! Have a good week. Keep on doing the little things!
P.S. we live in a Vila. There are about two other families that share it with us... we never see them though cause it is completely separated. I have adopted this dog though hahah I love dogs still!!