Let’s take a trip back to the summer after I graduated from high school. Like, six years ago. #thatslikeforever
My ward was having a stake youth conference and word on the street was it was going to be the bees knees. I felt relatively neutral about the entire ordeal. And by neutral, I meant there was no way I was going to go.
But as most moms do, mine artfully convinced/tricked/guilted me into going. But, like most times, she was right.
It was a reenactment of the Book of Mormon. And quite frankly, it changed my life.
One experience I had was during an activity symbolic of Lehi’s vision.
Blidfolded, and a little unsure of the rules, we had to find our way to an unknown destination.
I heard many voices. Some were familiar, trusted, but in the end tried to dissuade me from staying on course.
Some were quiet, and I could do nothing but trust that they were leading me the right way.
Eventually, after following a long, sturdy cord, I made it to my destination. I stood hand in hand with others I could not see. I was grateful for their presence. In the distance, I heard soft singing of cherished hymns. It was peaceful. It was home.
I had made it.
My brother was with me at that conference. I hoped he had arrived as well.
He had not.
A week or so after the conference, we watched a video highlighting the memorable moments.
One of the sections was of this activity.
My brother had taken his hand off the cord. He had strayed from the past.
He was pictured in the video, blindfolded, wandering, lost.
It broke my heart.
At that time, my brother’s activity in the church could be described as questionable.
This was the norm for several years. Years filled with prayers, fasting and pleading in quiet, genuine supplication on his behalf. Nothing seemed to change.
Until one ordinary, glorious day.
I was on my mission. My letters from home started to take a different tone. Cooper was changing. And it was because he wanted to.
Almost a year into my mission, I received news that my brother was back. His testimony was strong. I wept as I thought of the Atonement that had transformed my life, and now his.
As I heard his own testimony of our Savior’s mercy, I wept harder.
The circumstances leading up to Cooper’s conversion had contributed to his transformation, and understanding and application of the Atonement.
He was in the middle of boot camp for the Marine corps.
As He does for all of us, God spoke to Cooper in the way that he needed to hear.
And Cooper has never been the same.
After over a year of waiting, Cooper received his paperwork, officially discharging him from the military. He started on more paper work, this time, to join the ranks of nearly 60,000 other men and women fighting for the kingdom of God.
Less than a month ago, Cooper received a mission call to labor among the people in the Arcadia California Mission.
He reports June 12.
Today, on an ordinary sunday, Cooper gave his farewell talk.
He spoke on repentance.
Never have I heard such a sincere, heartfelt talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ in action.
The atonement, the great equalizer, is what has led me through my life.
It has led Cooper. No doubt it’s led you too.
And it will continue to lead the hundreds of thousands of souls that have yet to hear of the glorious gospel of repentance.
Including the ones in Arcadia, California.
Good luck, Elder Buchanan. I have never been more privileged to be your sister.