When Clara and William Cooper were baptized in 1987, Clara had a feeling of joy like she had never known. “When I went into the water,” she recalled, “it’s like I was buried in the resurrection as Jesus Christ and the joy I felt, the things I felt at that moment it was beyond description.” The Coopers began to serve in the Church and to prepare for the day when they could travel to the temple and be sealed.
Their plans were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of the First Liberian Civil War in 1989. During the conflict, their faith and service in the Church sustained them. When the danger was too great for men to go outside, Clara and her children braved the violence in the streets to stand in breadlines and scavenge wild leaves. Before leaving her home each morning, Clara packed her Book of Mormon and a small brown hymnal in her bag so she could study and sing while she waited in breadlines.
As conditions worsened, the family often went hungry. In 1990 Clara’s oldest son and newborn baby both died due to malnutrition. “It was too difficult for me to lose my children,” Clara said, “but my faith that I have in Jesus Christ it strengthens me.” Clara began having dreams in which her son visited her. “I’m waiting for you!” he would tell her. “Just go, I am waiting for you.” When she asked him where he wanted her to go, he said, “Do something for me. I want to be with you all.” When Clara awoke, she told William about the dream, and the two prayed to know what they should do. After the prayer, Clara knew that they needed to go to the temple to be sealed as soon as possible.
A few years later, Clara was called as the Young Women president, and she focused on bringing the youth back into Church activity. When she was later called as Primary president, she again focused on reactivation. “I went from house to house encouraging the parents to teach their children, carry their children to Church,” she said. “The Lord helped me a lot and made me to be strong, to be a woman with courage.” As she served in the Church, Clara was able to minister to Church members who had lost loved ones during the war. Church leaders also chose her to participate in a program to bake bread for malnourished children in the local hospital.
In 1998, as fighting in the country ceased, William and Clara Cooper traveled to the temple in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they were sealed to each other and to their deceased children. Shortly after the ordinances were completed, Clara saw her son in another dream. “Mama, thank you,” he said. “You did well for me. I’m happy.” With a small wave, he left. In 2005 William and Clara traveled with their six living children to the Accra Ghana Temple, where they were all sealed.