Friday, April 24, 2015

Not on the GPS

Hey fam. 
I had a good this week. Our investigator that was baptized got confirmed in church this week. To our surprise the bishop announced that after church he would be receiving the priesthood also. I guess he set it all up on his own and never let us know about it. He is so happy now and very strongly dedicated. 

I love the people down here. people go and shoot guns right in their back yards all the time. There is this old guy named Ribando and his neighbors get mad at him all the time for shooting 22's at turtles that crawl out of his pond so that he can make turtle soup haha. Crazy old man. Some people also have 100 acres of woods in their back yard though. I guess out side of city limits you can get away with that kind of stuff. 

I go running every other morning and do workouts on the others. Im not as strong as I was before I left but thats okay. I still killed everyone in a pull up competition this week though so don't worry. I love it when you send me healthy snacks mom and protein and stuff like that. I have smoothies for breakfast and I drink 6 bottles of water a day. The humidity just sucks the moisture out of you here. I think that dad would shrivel up like a raisin here because he never drinks water.

It rained every day this week. I love the rain. Some places get very bad though from flooding and mud. We have to go down dirt roads every day to get to houses so sometimes it gets really bad with mud. I love it out in the sticks. I love it when the GPS cant find the house because it is too far out in the boonies. We usually have to call people to find their house if we go out there.

We found a Giant farm this week and right on the farm there is a long building that looks like a hotel and it is PACKED full of Hispanics that work on the farm. It kind of seemed like when you step on an ant hill and they all come out in swarms haha. It is like a little Spanish community tucked away in the trees. We haven't talked to them yet though because we want to try to talk to them one at a time and not in a group. When they are in groups then if one person says no then they all say no. Peer pressure plays a role too so we are going to go about this the right way.

we are working with some people with baptismal dates but with one of them smoking is in his way. We told him that it all depends on his desires. We can only help people so much and then it is all up to them. 

My ward mission leader is one of my favorite people here on my mission. he is a really short old guy that hasnt drank water in 20 years haha no lie. He says that water will rust your pipes. He has drank diet coke for 20 years and the funny thing is that he is really healthy. He is always messing with people and I have a really good time messing with him. If you dish it out be ready to take it back in.

Thank you some much and I love y'all. Let me know what I can do for y'all.
Elder Cooley

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Love y'all

Hello fam,
 I had a good week this week. 
We had a baptism this Sunday. He is that 19 year old veteran I was telling you about that has no family and lives at the VA. He got up and shared his testimony in sacrament and after church he was baptized. Both events were the most powerful that I have ever felt on my mission. The ward told him that they were his new family and they love him.

I got the chance to translate the first sacrament meeting we had because we are in both wards. I like it because it helps my spanish a lot. Both testimony meetings were awesome.

I am so sorry but this computer isn't working too well so this email is pretty short. It isn't letting me upload my pictures either.

I am happy and loving it here. 
Thank you for all that y'all do.
 Love y'all.

Elder Cooley

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I love my mission

I had a good week this week. Conference was good and I really enjoyed the priesthood session (Uchtdorf and Eyring). We sat at the church for every session. 

We have some Hispanics that have been attending and participating a lot. There is a man named Ambrosio and he is very dedicated. He has been to church 4 times and one of those times he walked five-Six miles early in the morning to get there on time (Inspiring). He also came to the church to listen to conference. We didn't have it in Spanish at the chapel so he watched it and listened to it on his phone with ear phones.

We Visited this lady this week and she thought that we were Jehovah Witnesses (we get that a LOT). The Jehovah Witnesses Will see us knocking doors or find out where we are going to knock and will either go ahead of us or after us telling people how we aren't Christians and try to ruin what people think of us so that they wont listen to us haha. Her mind was changed after talking to us for a little and in fact we asked her to Find out for herself and be baptized. She was very open and acceptable to it; I hope she will continue to do so (only god knows).

So we have a Baptism this Saturday. His name is Julian and he is a 19 year old Marine veteran. He has no family and he is homeless (for now) and lives at a place called Quadvets (veteran support facility) with full benefits and pay until he is able to re-enlist (He got shrapnel in his back but still might be able to re-enlist) or work as an officer for Louisiana. He is very dedicated and sincere and says that he wants a new start. He says that he needs a spiritual companion to constantly be with him and comfort him (He has gone through some hard stuff in his life). He is one of the people that I feel like I am here for specifically.

On P-day morning we went fishing for 3 hours. I love it. We were catching cat fish and the biggest one that someone caught was 9 pounds. They caught a 12lbs one before I got here. They taste good too. 

My companion is Spanish speaking. I don't speak it nearly as much but that is okay. maybe that is why I learned so fast... so that I could be here working with awesome English speaking people and still retain my Spanish.

I have made some great relationships out here and I love my mission. Sometimes if I ever get down I just try to stay busy so I wont think anything different. I haven't been homesick at all but I sure do think about a lot of things like my future for example. BUT... I have learned a valuable lesson.

The thought of the future might mean failing, but doing your best in every second of the 1,440 minutes that you have in your day will only bring you success and satisfaction in the future. 

Example: If I put my head down and give 110% in every second, focusing on it one minute at a time then at the end of my mission I will have nothing but success and satisfaction with my past performances. Success in Life is a matter of inches and seconds so make them count On At A Time.

Like the words of Will Smith-(10yrs old) His dad told him and his little brother to build a brick wall outside of his workshop. This seemed nearly impossible to a ten year old! But... in time they completed the task and now Will says "you don't just Build a perfect brick wall... you lay a brick as perfectly as you can one brick at a time and in the end you WILL have a perfect brick wall."

 Actions shape your future. Take action.

Love ya family. Let me know of anything I can do for y'all. 
Elder Cooley

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I know it's been awhile... I've been healing.

Before I left the mission, President Cleveland had an interview with me, He told me that he sincerely felt that this is what Heavenly Father needed me to do... to go home. He told me that I should move on with my life, jump back into school, start dating again, work hard, and focus on the future. So that's what I did. Since returning home I registered and began classes again at BYU (this semester is kicking my butt), I have moved twice, received 3 promotions at work, and been on a jillion first dates. I am sincerely trying to move on with my life... but sometimes, something pulls me back. Something inside of me pricks my heart. My thoughts go a little crazy.

"If I move on, people might think I am too happy to be home... that I chose to be home, that I wanted to be here. If I move on, I might forget the person I became on my mission. If I move on, I might forget the changes I made, and the lessons I learned. If I move on, maybe the people I loved there will move on too, and all will be for nothing. If I move on, will it even have mattered?"
These thoughts circulate and ruminate. I know that in reality, they are false. But when they enter my mind, they feel so real, and reality feels so far off.

Returning home early from a mission has been the hardest thing I have ever had to face. It has tested me in every aspect that I ever imagined; spiritually, socially, mentally, physically, and emotionally. A lot of the time I fail at those tests. Sometimes I can't help but succumb to the pain. I let it engulf me; I become the star actor in my own Shakespeare tragedy. Sometimes, life just punches you in the face!
However, I have discovered a thing or two about pain; about punches. Without pain and without punches, you would never learn to HEAL.

Healing is different than moving on. Moving on... it reminds me of packing up everything and leaving and never looking back. Whenever my family goes camping, on the last day there, as we pack up, my dad always says, "let's make sure we leave this place better than when we came." We pick up every tiny piece of trash or plastic or paper or anything that isn't a natural part of the forest. We leave no trace. We move on.

I don't ever want to move on from Indiana, and from being a missionary. Because I want to leave a trace on the people in Indiana, and I want them, and their lessons I learned, to continue to leave a trace on me forever. But I do want to heal.

Healing almost always leaves a scar, but the pain is no longer there. Eventually you can laugh at whatever caused the scar, or swap cool stories. You can warn other people of the dangers of what caused your scar, and direct others how to avoid such scars. You can do a lot after you have healed; for yourself and for others.

We are directed to drop our burdens at the Saviors feet; to give it all to Him. He promises in return to heal us. I am currently in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. This is when the resurrected Christ visits the people in America. In chapter 17 verse 9 it says, "And it came to pass that when he(Christ) had thus spoken, ALL the multitude with one accord did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in ANY MANNER; and he did heal them EVERY ONE as they were brought forth unto him."

I struggle with my own fruit basket of afflictions, mental and physical. And sometimes the world would tell me to just give up. But here Christ promises to heal me...If I will simply come unto Him.
Those afflicted people in 3rd Nephi... they didn't just MOVE ON from their afflictions. If it were that easy, we wouldn't need a Savior. They didn't just move on with their life. They were brought to the Saviors feet, and they were healed. They made their way towards Him, step by step, with several others, and had faith that he would take away their burdens, their pains, and their afflictions.

Not only is this a beautiful and true account, but it also gives us an example of how to find healing in our own lives. It reminds us that their is hope. These people in ancient America, they were able to literally fall at the Saviors feet and feel His hands on their head. He physically is not with us now, and we cannot physically kneel at His feel and feel His hands. But that does not mean that He cannot still heal us, that we cannot still fall to our knees and allow Him literally to take our burdens. So how is this done?

I keep coming back to the same scripture.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." " Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." " For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

We all carry burdens. Some heavier than others. Some have suffered the loss of a child, some divorce, some an illness. First we must come unto the savior. We do that through prayers, through our thoughts, through repenting, and ultimately through keeping his commandments. He said "If ye love me, keep my commandments." He set for us the perfect example, and showed us how to have a life filled with meaning.

He then says, "Take my yoke upon you." We do this through covenants. Every single week when we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant that we made at baptism. We yoke ourselves to Christ. How fortunate are we? Because it is a heavy load. One we cannot bear alone. But as we pull together with Christ, the burden is made light, we get a little rest.

He then says "Learn of me." We do this through our daily study. As we study the Saviors life, we see those patterns of love and service. We read how he tells us to live in order to be happy. We begin to desire those same things for ourselves.

He then reassures us... "His yoke is easy, and His burden is light." He has already born it. He has already carried that cross up the hill to golgotha. He already bled from every pore in gethsemane. He was already laid in a tomb. For us. And as we celebrate this weekend, he was already resurrected. For us.

Christ didn't just "Move on" after what he went through. No, He was healed. He allowed the power of God to heal Him. And there were some scars left. Scars that serve as a beacon to the world today; that draw us unto him. He invites us to be healed as he was. He invites us to access his atonement; to find rest unto our souls.

No matter what you face, healing is available. Whether it comes in the form of increased strength, or the lifting of the affliction completely, the Lord provides a way. I am still raw. I still have open wounds. For some reason I expected to just be fine after 4 months had passed. But it is ok. It is okay to feel pain, because pains allows you to be healed.

May we all come unto the Savior this weekend, and drop our burdens at His feet, and begin our own healing process. Happy Easter. I love you all.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tengan una buena semana!

I had a good week this week. We go on splits on every Tuesday and Thursday and I got to go with the owner of the biggest gator farm in the United States. They go out in the Bayou and collect eggs and grow them really fast on his farm. He has a big deal with Gucci and he sells all of the gator meat too. They make a lot of money. But yeah... That is in my area.

So we live next to some hood rats. Our neighbors have a chastity problem at night... but this time we woke up at 4:00 in the morning to screaming and swearing. There was a huge fight between our neighbors and you could hear stuff being thrown and people throwing punches haha. We were about to go over and stop it but we just heard SLUT... you nasty! and a door slammed and that was the end of it. 

The work is still going great. We are tracting a new part called Tickfaw. There are big Hispanic trailer parks because they all work on the strawberry and mushroom farms. It was weird, the other day we tracted into three trailers that did not belong to denominations or have never spoken with folks about God. Dude... Where have you been? I guess I shouldn't be surprised though... there are Hispanics that have lived here for twenty to sixty years and still don't even speak a lick of English.

I am going to try make y'all the best dang food when I get home. Everyone down here knows how to cook. They take a lot of pride in their cooking. Sorry ma but everything is fried. That is probably why everyone has cancer and/or health problems down here. Well I shouldn't say everything is fried but that doesn't mean its good for you. I'm not going to get fat though... I work out every morning and I am actually trying to keep my weight on. I have a fast metabolism I guess. 

We have had some really powerful lessons here. Everyone is very straight forward so we try to be bold in our teaching. The ward is amazing and I love working with the members. There are so many members in our church but there are sooooo many that are inactive. Bringing someone back to the church is just as or more important than baptizing someone.

We have a few baptismal dates and are trying to keep them. There is this one kid named Alex and he is golden. He asks so many questions and told us that our church feels warm like home. I will keep you informed. We have so much going on that it makes my head hurt and I think that this email would be to dang long to fit it all. 

It is weird, there is a big problem down here with people marrying their own kin. Before you get married in the south you have to take a blood and hair follicle test before so you aren't marrying your 2nd cousin haha. There are also a ton of crazies out here. haha I wonder if marrying your own kin has something to do with it. This one lady (that used to be a member of our church i guess) came out of here trailer screaming about how much she hates her old baptist church that she attends. Well then.. stop going to it ya Crazy red neck. We blessed her home that was full of a bunch of creepy dolls and then left. I don't think I will be seeing that lady again.

I didnt have to deal with dogs at all in kenner but here everyone and their dog has a dog. I haven't had to choke any of them yet. There was this one dog that wouldn't stop bugging me but the only problem was that it was so fat that I couldn't even find its throat. I think they have fed it to much fried craw fish or something. So I just held its head between my legs until it squirmed and ran away.

Well I love this and I have no room to complain. 
Pues... Yo tengo que salir. Nos Vemos! Love y'all. Tengan una buena semana!

Elder Cooley

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