Thursday, December 26, 2013



I am glad to hear that everything went well with Emma's surgery. I was thinking about it a lot this last week and it makes me so happy to hear that it was such a success. There are definitely prayers coming your way from way down the bayou Emma. I hope that the recovery goes smoothly and you can just enjoy lounging around this Christmas break. It sounds like you were really brave Emma and you are having such a good attitude about it. I am really proud of you and I know that Heavenly Father is really proud of you too.

I also have to thank you for the Christmas package. I haven't opened up anything yet, but I can thank you in advance for everything. Also it is just fun to have presents under the tree, fills me with nostalgia. I feel like I have been so blessed my entire life, I have never really gone with out and so it has been fun this Christmas to give to others. It makes you feel really good. I don't have a whole lot, but I give what I can. I hope you guys got my little Christmas letter, I hope you like it too. People are so generous down here too and it makes you feel kinda spoiled haha so hopefully we can give just as much as we have received.

I am really excited to see you guys over skype on Christmas day. I can't believe it has been like 7 months since I last saw you guys and even crazier I can't believe that after this I will only be able to call you one more time until I come home....AYE AYE AYE ZORDON!!!!! Time is going a little too fast. 

It does feel a little odd that there is no snow. You can feel the Christmas spirit for sure, but it sure is different when it is still 80 degrees outside with 70 percent humidity. It is a strange feeling haha. But today it got a little colder and so that is nice. I love it when it gets cold down here, (in the 40's or 50's) Because people bundle up like we are in Antarctica. We also had this insane lightning storm last night where you could see streaks of lightning just flash across the sky and it lit up everything around you. The thunder also just shook the earth. Those storms are pretty cool to witness, but I still miss the snow a little bit. 

This has been a pretty crazy week with Christmas devotionals and Christmas parties, it has been pretty non-stop. This last week we had a really good lesson with L., C. and K. where we had them be the missionaries and they taught us the Restoration. K. asked us to make them tags, but I totally forgot and so when I got there I drew them on some Mcdonalds napkin, she seemed satisfied haha. They each got to choose their name and they were pretty silly. K. was Sister Lemonjello pronounced La-mon-ja-low and C. was Elder Alfalfa. Although it was pretty silly it turned out to be a really good experience. We had them study the pamphlet before we came and that was actually our main reason for doing it. They really dug into it because they knew that they had to teach it. We had a really good discussion and it was just a lot of fun. 

Speaking of humor I studied a lot about that this week and I shared some of my thoughts with President Wall. Here is a little exerpt:

I was reading in Alma this week where Alma is giving advice to all of his sons. Alma is talking to his son Shiblon and he tells him to "Be Sober." That stuck out to me and so I looked it up and it brought me to the word levity. This jump started a mini-study on humor. I know that humor can be such a great tool, in fact a great spiritual gift. Richard G Scott said "A good sense of humor helps revelation...A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life." I have seen humor really work miracles in the sense of helping others to feel comfortable and also come closer to our Savior. But although it can be used for great good, it can also detract from the spirit when used inappropriately or incorrectly. There are a couple really good talks on humor that I found on : 
A Good Sense of Humor by Chris Crowe and
A Serious Look at Humor by Peter B Rawlins
Both of these articles do a good job of comparing the great good that can come from a good sense of humor and then also the don'ts of malicious humor. Another good talk is by Elder Wirthlin called "Come What may and Love it." He gives a piece of advice that will increase the happiness and fun in your life, he says "Learn to Laugh." When we can learn to laugh, it will ease tension, make the tough days fun, and increase our ability to work effectively and work hard. Proverbs 17:22 says

22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Missions are hard physically, emotionally, mentally etc. But Heavenly Father has given us a great tool to make it bearable. There is a quote from the Family Home Evening resource book that says this," When people see the funny side of of what they are doing they aren't afraid to make a mistake. They think more clearly and they like themselves a lot better." Good humor is humble, not full of pride. Good humor builds relationships, it doesn't tear them down. Good humor is full of fun , not filth. Good humor is ironic, not sarcastic. Good humor invites the spirit. I am striving to refine my humor. I know it is not perfect and I know there are a lot of kinks that I have to work out. But in the mean time I will enjoy life, I will enjoy my mission and rely on the Savior to help strengthen me in all things. 

Well I guess it wasn't too little haha but that is okay. What are your guys thoughts on humor? 

A couple other things that happened this week. We had the Zone Christmas Devotional on tuesday and that was a lot of fun. We all had lunch and just were able to relax and talk. We had the little play presentation and I got to play "O come all ye faithful" on the guitar. I put a little Jack Johnson spin on it and it was a lot of fun to play. Christmas is just such a good time of year and it is fun to spend in good company. After the devotional we went out with Bro. Bybee and the Elder's Quorum to go caroling to some of the members of the ward. It was awesome to see their faces light up as the spirit was invited into their hearts. We spent most of our time at a rest home singing to some of the members there and you could tell that it just made their day. We also so B. with Bro. Bybee and that was kind of a miracle. Elder Bennett and I had been thinking about him for awhile but we just couldn't get down there because it is so far away and he doesn't have a phone. But when Bro. Bybee picked he must of had the same feeling because he took us to go see B. Tender Mercy. B. is such a good kid and he just has the biggest heart, but he has little support at home and it must be hard to develop good standards when they are continually being pulled down by your surroundings. I am glad that we were able to go see him. We had the Ward Christmas party this last friday and that was also a lot of fun. They had tons of food, decorations, they had Santa come, we sang Christmas songs and had an ugly sweater contest. Luckily Elder Bennett and I have connections at the Salvation Army, so we had some pretty ugly sweaters. And guess who got 2nd place? was I. I will send some pictures haha. Jimmy, one of our investigators came as well and he loved it. He loved how kind everybody was and he expressed to us that he would love to come back. Pretty cool.

 Yesterday was the Ward Christmas program with Choir. About 30 min before church started Elder Bennett and I got recruited to sing. We were 2 of the 3 male singers in the choir. But luckily the spirit helped us and we were able to pick up quick. It was so fun to be part of the choir and it just made me grateful for all of those years we had to go to youth really paid off!! Music brings such a great spirit and you can see it in peoples eyes as you are singing on the stand. Christmas is the best time of the year. Everybody is happier, a little bit more kind and a smidgen more generous. I love what Elder Bennett says " Everybody is happier during Christmas because they have the light of Christ more in their lives...even if they don't know it!" That is so true. Although the real meaning of Christmas sometimes gets overshadowed by the commercial and consumeristic side of it, the influence of birth and life of our Savior can be found every where...even if people don't know it! The reason for the season is Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Redeemer and our best friend. He knows us, he loves us and he cares for us. And the best gift we can give him this season is the gift of our hearts. I love this gospel. I love everything about it. And I can't think of any other place that I would rather be this Christmas season than devoting my life to serving my Savior.

 I love you guys so much and I am looking forward to talking to you this Christmas!


Elder Devin Soper

Elder Bennett and I posing with our Ugly Sweaters

Friday, December 20, 2013

This week I have learned a valuable lesson about listening...

Good Day Family

Man, it seems like it is getting closer and closer to Christmas each day, and guess what? IT IS!! Months seem to go a lot faster on your mission and before you know it, they are over. It sounds like you guys had a really good week and are just enjoying the season. I guess they are some tough things too with Dad's foot and Emma's surgery coming up. But I will keep you guys in my prayers. I also know that Heavenly Father doesn't give us anything that we can't handle and won't make us better. So Emma, you must be a much stronger person than me, because Heavenly Father knows that you can do it. Good luck and I will be praying for you!!! I hope that everything is alright with your foot too, Dad.

Wow, that program really sounds like it came together in a fun and satisfying way. Christmas really is a great time of year and everybody seems to be happy. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear." Elf quote of the day. So you guys did that! Music brings such a wonderful spirit and especially Christmas music focused on Christ. Sister Wall asked me on Saturday if I would play "O Come All Ye Faithful" on the guitar for the NOLA zone Christmas devotional. I am putting a little Jack Johnson spin on it, so hopefully it goes over well haha. Wish me luck.

It is hard to believe that I have been out for a year. I have learned a lot of good lessons, but I shared one with President Wall, that I would like yo share with you guys as well.

This week I have learned a valuable lesson about listening. I came into my mission with a little motto: Love and Listen. I tried to gather as much information about being a good missionary before I left for my mission and I boiled everything down into those two words. But I have been on my mission for a year now and I am looking back and thinking of the lessons that I have learned. I came out pretty shy and over the past year I have really come out of my shell. I have gained more confidence, because now I know where my confidence lies and that is in my Savior. I have learned how to create conversations about the gospel from everyday experiences and really how to effectively talk to people. (A valuable skill that I lacked previously) I am learning how to better teach the gospel in simple terms and teach to not only to help others understand, but teach them so they can't misunderstand. But with all of this I found my self bothered because I was talking too much and when I wasn't talking I had the urge to talk, just to get a word in. It wasn't because I was prompted to do so or it was some profound revelation, but I was being impatient as I was listening. This has been going on for probably the last 6 or 7 months in subtle ways, but really manifested itself in the past 2 or 3. I remembered what you told me in a previous interview about the importance of discerning and how the first step to discerning is observing or listening. How could I discern from the spirit if I wasn't listening the person talking or the spirit? It doesn't work. I am not sure when the change began, but in a lesson this week I found myself focusing on the speaker, pushing all other thoughts out of my mind and as soon as I recognized that I pushed that thought out of my mind so I could continue listening. As I did so I wasn't worried, I wasn't anxious to speak, I was calm and happy. Elder Bennett was doing a great job teaching and he was inspired to begin teaching a Part member/Less-active family the Restoration. As we began, the message wasn't getting through, we could tell. So we stopped, pondered and listened. Without actually saying it directly they told us what they needed and the spirit prompted us as well. We decided to switch roles with them. We gave them our clip on tags and gave them our scriptures. We told them that we wanted them to teach us how they knew God existed and loved them. They began testifying of the importance of prayer, scripture study and church attendance. You could see that they began to think about what they were saying and they were teaching themselves. It was a fun atmosphere, but it was full of the spirit. Elder Bennett and I thought, "Man that went great! We should do that again." So before we left we gave them the Restoration pamphlet, told them to study it and said that they were going to teach us next time too. I know that if we simply listen to those we teach because we love them, that if we listen to the spirit, we will be led to do what we need to. Is it easy? No. But is it worth it? Absolutely. I have found after that experience as well that I love to listen, that it is something that I am trying to do every time we meet somebody. So I am re-adopting my motto: Love and Listen and adding it to the mission vision. Love, Listen, Serve and Teach. I hope you don't mind, but I will probably do it anyway haha.

This morning I had a similar experience in the Book of Mormon as I began to read Alma 34. I had a really hard time focusing because something was weighing on my mind and stressing me out. I couldn't shake it and it was interfering with my study. So I said a little prayer asking for help and I received an answer, it said "Read your Scriptures." At first I thought to myself "I am trying." But I did my best to focus in and the spirit helped me to understand. I began reading about how we need to humble ourselves and pray to our Father in Heaven. We can pray about anything that we need and if we feel like it is important, than so does Heavenly Father. I also read about how we need to be "patient in our afflictions." I prayed about this situation and I don't really have an answer yet, but I did receive something and that was assurance. Heavenly Father will always make a way and we don't have to worry if we are listening.

I remember before my mission I was pretty shy and didn't talk much in social situations, but my mission has really helped me come out of my shell. I still get really nervous speaking in public, but I feel I can open up in smaller venues more now. But I think Heavenly Father allowed me to go past what my comfort zone and begin talking a little too much, so I could then learn the value and importance of listening. I hope that with His help I can find a healthy balance.

Another lesson that I have learned on my mission is that creating friendships is essential. Part of that too is being yourself. I am not going to lie and say that Elder Bennett and I are very strict, somber, serious or stern all the time. In fact we are hardly ever that way haha. We are both pretty goofy and silly and we include that in our missionary work. For example in that previous story when we pretended to be the investigators, we put some hats on backwards, loosened our ties and were a little silly. But we transitioned that into a spiritual experience. I think there is a time and a place for everything and I know that there are some situations where we need to be serious and disciplined. But it is also important to be yourself and that makes all of the difference. We have created some really great relationships with members down here and it is beginning to show in an increase in work. We had a great dinner with the Bybee's on Wednesday and we started teaching and drawing the Plan of Salvation with them. We are planning on going back this next Wednesday for dinner with L., C. and K. We think that is going to do leaps and bounds for their progression in the gospel. It is also showing with B. and D. They want us to come back after each time that we leave. We are becoming great friends with them and their desire to learn more about the gospel is increasing. It also showed in a cool miracle that we had this week. So on Thursday a lot of our plans fell through so we were going to ride by this store to see the times that we could come volunteer. As we rode their a former investigator, M., stopped us and asked us to come by her house. She was really good friends with the previous missionaries and that relationship with them created a rock solid foundation for us to begin teaching her again. The next step is to help them become friends with the members, then they won't want to leave.

I will share a few more cool things that happened this week. We volunteered at this other store kind of like the Salvation Army, but bigger and less-organized. They had us re-decorate the Christmas section for service haha. I guess Elder Bennett and I have the touch. We had dinner with a man in our ward named Bro . S. He is a pretty quiet guy and we hadn't really gotten to know him very good. He invited us over for dinner last night and it turns out he is the Jack of all trades. He made us this really good chicken that reminded me of the half chicken lunch at El Gallo Hiro. It was really good. He is in his 70's and was born and raised in Finland. He does construction jobs and he designed and built his own house by hand. He loves Jazz and folk music and he plays the trumpet. He is a really cool guy and I am looking forward to going back soon. Then to finish off last night, we went by the Stocks to celebrate Brady Bybee graduating with his Masters. Before dinner they had us share a lesson and we all went around the room and said why we love Christmas. It was simple, but invited the spirit. It was fun to have all of the families over, a little chaotic with so many people, but I enjoyed that chaos a little bit. It was really fun and it was a realization of how much I have come to love these people. It was really cool. I look up to Brother Bybee a lot and I think he is a great Dad, Husband and missionary. I am grateful to be serving here.

I love you guys a lot and I will keep you in my prayers this week. Good luck Emma, I love you!!


Elder Soper

PS This is a stir fry Elder Bennett and I made this week. It is the most interesting picture I took this week haha.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Elder Bennett and I will be staying another transfer!

Dear Fam,

So I know that you are all wondering what is going to happen this transfer and so I won't wait any longer...drum roll please....bum bum bum dadadadada....Elder Bennett and I will be staying another transfer! I know that is pretty crazy haha I have been here for awhile, but Heavenly Father needs us here a little longer. I am pretty sure that this is my last one here so I feel really motivated to work hard to be spirit led and work my "Buns and Thighs" off. I am really excited to be with Elder Bennett again and even though it isn't a big change I am going to work hard to break up the routine and make each day meaningful and special. I have a feeling that this transfer is going to prepare both Elder Bennett and I for the rest of our missions.

It is crazy that has already been about a year, I mean it is only a week or so away. It really doesn't feel like it has been that long and the scary thing is that everybody says the 2nd year is even faster....eek. I am sure I will hit a mid mission crisis soon and realize I don't have as much time as I think to do everything. But I have loved it so far and I am pretty sure the second year will be quite different from the first, if what President Wall told me is true haha. I am excited though, I just feel happy and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

Christmas time always seems to be one of the busiest times of the year with parties, events, plays, concerts and everything in between. You guys have become masters at juggling our crazy schedules. That was fun to see Emma all dressed up for the Suessical, and holy cow she is tall. I have this freaky idea in my head that when I get back, Taylor will be like 6' 2", Emma will be my height and Haley will have a baby or something. And I will think "Wha?!" But we'll see what ends up happening. It is interesting to see things happen on the outside because I don't get to see it first hand and so when I do, it seems drastic in comparison to what I have seen before. It is strange, but enjoyable.

It sounds like the Christmas party really came together in kind of an exciting way. Sounds pretty normal for the Sharon 3rd ward haha. It just makes me think of the differences that I notice between my home ward and my other homeward here in Thibodaux. Same church, same spirit, but it works in a very different way. I am looking forward to our Christmas party as well and I will send some pictures to you guys. It should be fun. I just like Christmas. I have a confession though haha, last week we were at Target in Houma for P-day before we went to the Voisins and we came across the christmas CD's... I broke down and got the Elf soundtrack and Bing Crosby's White Christmas. It has been good and they bring back some happy memories.

I will get that video from Elder Bennett of J. and it will be fun to watch it with you guys. L. is 11 years old and I think she is in 6th grade. C. is 14 and he is a freshman. So K. and C. are a young couple. They aren't married but they have 3 kids. He is 25 years old and Bro. H's stepson and she is 23 years old. They are pretty down to earth and easy going.  And it was cool this week, C. came out to talk to us and we ended up having an 1 and a half discussion on the gospel. She is really interested in the idea of families can be together forever through Temple Sealing. B. is an older lady in our ward that lives in a home. She is blind, but she loves it when we come to see her. Whenever we come she tells everybody "Hey look, these are my missionaries!" She asks us to read her a few scriptures every time and explain what they mean. J. is a Less-Active member that has had a stroke and quite a few other health problems. But despite that, he is still quick on his toes with his wit and humor. Not very mission appropriate haha, but what can you do. He is a nice guy.

It has been a good week though. We were able to see quite a few families and we stayed fairly busy. We saw the Tabors and had a good lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is cool too because almost every time that we go over there their daughters have non-member friends that sit in. That is the way that it is supposed to work. We saw the Pattens this week and had a really fun lesson on the plan of Salvation. We started drawing the picture with them and they really liked being part of the lesson. We then gave each of their kids an assignment to study part of the plan of salvation and teach the second half to us the next time. Their kids are really smart and Bro. and Sis Patten do a really good job of challenging them to use their knowledge. It was fun to go over to L., C. and K. because we took pictures with them just in case we were leaving and I will let the pictures speak for themselves. And then on Sunday we went to the Anderson's and finished teaching the Plan of Salvation. One of their girls was taking notes the entire time, hows that for making you feel good as a missionary! But we also took pictures with them and they are a cute family.

A member in our ward gave a really good talk on Gratitude yesterday and I learned a lot. He said that there are two things that can really destroy our gratitude and that is routine and comparison. He related it to the children of Isreal that were saved from the Egyptians. They had everything to be grateful for, but they let their routine get to them and they began comparing what they had with what they used to have, or what they wish they had or what maybe they thought they would have in the future. We have to continually be grateful for what God has given us and despite everyday routine, find ways to make it worthwhile and fulfilling. Pretty cool.

To end I will include a little part of my presidents email,

This week I was trying to think of a Christlike attribute that I could focus on this month and I just wasn't really feeling any of them. I was thinking about being spirit-led and it brought me back to the scripture that I shared with you last week in Alma 13:28. It says:

28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and awatch and pray continually, that ye may not be btempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

As I was reading this I thought to myself, "What in the world does meek really mean." I had never really heard a straight answer and it was confusing to me. I knew that it was important and was related to being submissive and humble, but it was different. I studied it a lot and I was really grateful for the talk that was just given by Elder Ulisses Soares this last conference about being "meek and lowly of heart." I am still learning about it but a couple things I have learned about being meek: it is being gentle, humble, teachable, and thoughtful. Being meek means there is more listening and less talking and means to improve day by day. I am going to try to become more meek this month and try to figure out what it means for me.

I love you guys a lot and I hope you have a great Christmas season.

Thoughts and Prayers always,

Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A fun and pretty easy going week...

Merry Holidays,

Thank you for your prayers, thoughts and letters this week, it really helped to make it a fun and pretty easy going week. Things seem to slow down a little bit with the Holiday season, well I guess in terms of missionary work. Everything else seems to speed up because eddybody wants gifts and schtuff. And since there were sales Elder Bennett and I took advantage. I got a missionary/ sweater to wear for chilly days 10 dollas off (15 rather than 25) and then a new moleskine journal for 13 dollars rather than 20. I don't need a new one for awhile, but might as well get it when it's cheap. Target is the bomb. Haha I'm sure you love to hear about our purchases, I am also planning on getting some toilet paper today...just kidding.

I am so glad that you guys had so much fun together as a family. These holidays really are such a great way to bring families together and closer. We went to the Dikets for Thanksgiving and they made this stuffing that reminded me a ton of what we used to make. It was homemade with sausage, bread and other stuff, anyways it made me feel right at home. We also  had tons of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes etc. etc. Before we ate we made some paper snowflakes and I made an origami angel for the top of our tree. It was nice to just hang out, take it easy and enjoy the slow roll of Thanksgiving. It was a nice change. We then went home and decorated for Christmas. We had a 6 foot tree stashed up in our closet so we broke it out, turned on some music and felt the Christmas spirit. We had the little angel and a picture of Christ at the top of the tree, but when you turned the lights out you really couldn't see we got creative. We took all of the flashlights that we could find and we pinned them to the ceiling all pointed to the top of the tree. Haha it actually looks really good, I will send some pictures. I just really love this time of year and guess what I hit my year mark in 17 days... weird to think huh? It was a good Thanksgiving and I am so glad yours was too. I am also grateful that you sent me all the deets, because I know you would want me to do the same. And man...Bombay house how I miss you, along with Cafe Rio, El Gallo Giro and Thai food... haha and Khan's. Those were some really fun memories and something I will remember my whole life.

That is cool that Stan and Gwen's barn is coming a long so well. I am excited to see how it looks! I am glad that we will still be able to spend time down there in Spring City, that would be sad if we had no more connections down there. And by the way I really like that painting of the leaves on the water. It is pretty different than what you have done before, but you can almost imagine the water just spilling off the edge of the painting. I like how the cool blues give it an almost calming effect and the tan oranges make it warm and happy, it is awesome. I really like that one...maybe keep it for my future home? Just kidding, but you really did do a good job. I just have to say it is fun that you guys have iphones now, because you can send quality pictures a lot easier now. Are you guys enjoying them quite a bit? I enjoy you having them because I get to see your lives in kind of an everyday way.

I've learned recently that if when we're working with people who are slow to accept the Gospel we can just do little things and build up the relationship to a point where you really want nothing more than for them to be happy. That is the point where the spirit can lead you and The spirit will really enter their hearts. Baby Steps. It is funny to see how that works. Your attitude changes from "This is what I am supposed to do." to "This is what I really want for them." And I am not saying the missionaries didn't have that, it actually sounds like you had a great set of missionaries in the ward. It just takes time. (And I have had a lot of time down here haha and we are still working on creating friendships).

Transfers are coming up next week and so we will see what will happen. It really is up in the air but since I have been here so long and Elder Bennett is finishing up his training, it is almost prime time for a transfer. And so that makes me think that we will stay one more haha because President Wall never does the expected thing. We'll see. 

We had dinner with the Pattens on Friday night and he told us to tell you that we are being taken care of. In my weekly email I give you kind of a summary of what happens but you don't get all the nitty gritty or the everyday things. But we get fed quite a bit, we are great friends with the members and they really do take care of us. We are especially blessed here in the Thibodaux ward. They are my family. When we were leaving the Pattens one of the daughters, Joy, ran up to me and gave me a drawing that said "Thank you for coming Elder Soper." and that meant the world to me. I put it in my journal so I can look back to it when I am having a tough day.  And if you ever have any questions about anything we are doing I would love to answer them. I want my emails to be a fun and satisfying for you guys.

President Wall has put a new focus for the mission, he wants us to become spirit-led. I think Elder Bennett and I did a good job of striving to be spirit led this week. On Monday we were struggling to fill in about an hour of extra time before an appointment so we decided to stop by a members house. On our way there Elder Bennett said he felt like we should turn around and try a part member family that we see occasionally. They have a busy schedule and have two small kids, so usually it is hard to meet with them. But we decided to go anyway. When we knocked on the door they invited us right in and asked us to stay and eat dinner with them. We got to know them a ton better and they are just a really cute family. Their two kids E. and L. are super cute and funny. I am so grateful for the spirit that guides us to where we need to be each day. After that we went to the Tabors and had a good lesson on the plan of Salvation. I bought a nice sketch pad so when we teach it we could all participate in drawing it. They seemed to like it and I think it made it easier to understand as well. I also learned that questions are the key. The Holy Ghost really made that lesson and we ended up doing a couple things that we hadn't planned on that turned out to be exactly what needed to happen. Pretty cool.

We have a new investigator named J. who just stopped us on the street one day asking to learn more. He has a ton of questions and he will just ask them out of the blue. Haha it ends up taking to visit all over the place, but maybe that is what he needs, just a ton of information that he will be able to soak in. I am looking forward to working with him more. Wednesday was actually a really good day and surprisingly went close to what we planned. We had a little visit with K. and C. and they want us to come back on Tuesday, we met with B. and then we met with a really funny and irreverent man name J. B. He is about 80, he is really witty but also kinda dirty. It was super funny and Elder Bennett actually got the majority of the conversation on film. I think you guys will laugh pretty hard. We then went to have dinner with the Tarrs and they always give us our daily dose of mexican food. WE had these yummy, spicy pork tacos. You know they are good when they clear your sinuses. I will send another picture from Kiana's baptism. Then Thursday was Thanksgiving and that was a lot of fun. The next day we went to see L., C. and K. They always seem to like it when we come over and it made me feel really good when K. kept asking when we were coming over next. She kept pushing the return appointment sooner and sooner. That's a pretty good sign, don't you think? I think we are going to ask L. if we can start teaching her the lessons. We met with a less-active member this week named W. and it made me really grateful for my geeky/nerdy side. He was watching Doctor Who when we got there and so we began talking about that and the conversation expanded to an analysis of Sherlock (The last episode), Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman, The Office, the British Office, Superman and superheroes. It was cool to see how he opened up through out the conversation and it ended up building a good foundation for a friendship. We were able to have a really good lesson with him afterwards and tie it into the previous conversation. Who knew Elder Bennett and my childhood interests would come in handy. I am just waiting for the time when I can start busting out some Mighty Morphin Power Rangers references. It made me really grateful for those simple interests and hobbies that Heavenly Father helped me develop over the years so I would be able to relate to people. I am very grateful for you guys because you guys were the ones that helped all of us and encouraged all of us to pursue those things. We were able to learn from you and adopt it into our lives.  It is a fulfillment of a blessing in my patriarchal blessing.

I will end with some things that I am grateful for:
-The Thibodaux ward
-Being a missionary
-Being able to change and become better
- My district
-Elder Bennett
- President Wall
- Spiritual gifts and talents
- The Sacrament
- Promptings from the Holy Ghost
- laughter
- Funny mishaps that make life enjoyable
- Mi Familia and how we have so much fun together
- food (brings people close together)
- the gospel
- The Book of Mormon
- Our Savior and his Atonement
- The love that our Heavenly Father has for us
-Etc etc.

I love you guys a lot, a lot, a lot. Thank you for everything that you do and your support.

Prayers and thoughts always

Elder Debun Soper

PS I got your package and my camera is awesome now! Thank you for the treats too, that trail mix is super good. I love you guys!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"This week was pretty 'slowey fast'..." ("slowey fast" was a phrase Taylor used as a little kid...)

Hey Fam,

This week was pretty slowey fast. Some days just flew and some took a while to take off.  

That is funny that you were able to talk to Tyler Anderson yesterday at Stake conference. We actually had dinner with Bishop Anderson and his family last night and he told me that Coach Anderson talked to him about that earlier that day. Pretty cool how information makes it down the line. The Andersons are so fun, I really love their family haha. All of their kids are so cute and really advanced in gospel knowledge. It is easy to teach them and we probably end up learning more from them, than they do from us. We had these good pulled pork sandwiches and had this Cajun cream pie, good shtuff. We then had a little lesson on the Plan Of Salvation and we had all of the kids help us draw it. It was really fun and we are excited to go back next week. I really look up to and respect Bishop Anderson, he has a lot on his plate, but he submits cheerfully and with patience. You can tell that the Lord trusts him. He has been a big influence in my life for being and engaged and loving leader. And life they say "Behind every great man is an even greater woman." They have have a rock solid family, built on the foundation of Christ, our Savior.

Haha I am glad that you guys liked watching the videos and looking at the pictures. Those Elder Grylls videos came from me being quarantined for 3 days alone in the MTC... A little bit of entertainment. Haha yeah that was a pretty fun birthday video. I really do feel blessed to have a great companion and a good friend. I remember really hoping that I could make some really good friends on my mission that would last through out my life and I feel like that with Elder Bennett. We have a ton of fun and that just makes a mission the best thing in the world. 

I know what you mean dad when you say your capacity to read long articles has diminished. I feel like that has happened with me as well and it scares me. I find myself reading the start of a talk or article and then getting wanting to move on to the next after I have gotten to the meat of it. Lately I have been making myself finish what I have started. I just hope I will have the ability to read books and textbooks for long periods of time when I get home. I think the one the thing that I can read for a long time is the Book of Mormon and grateful for that. Youtube, instagram and facebook are ruining the patience of the world. There is a good mormon message about that called the voice of the spirit. " The Lord require patience in a world that demands instant gratification." I have also tried to pick up drawing little cartoons again in my planners when I have free time after I saw your funny one of your arch nemesis. And more than likely we will be able to skype on Christmas, in fact I am about 90 percent sure we will. 10 percent just in case something crazy happens. 

That is cool that you had a lesson all on goals mom. That is such an important thing to learn and it makes it even better if you can learn it before your mission. Your mission is all about goals, we set goals every night, we set goals every week and set goals for every transfer. In fact every thursday we set apart two hours of the day to weekly plan, talk about our area and set goals. Goals goals goals. And I think you hit it right on the head, it is even more important to set meaningful and realistic goals. I also like that quote from Sister Hinckley's book. Life really is about the small and simple things. Baby steps. 

This week we had interviews with President Wall and I honestly believe that we have the best mission president and best mission out there. He is so inspired and he genuinely cares and loves his missionaries. You couldn't ask for more. It is funny because it almost seems like he knows more about us than we do ourselves haha. He just makes you feel so needed and appreciated, like this mission wouldn't be able to work without our specific talents and personality. President Wall definitely believes that the mission is for the missionary and if he can build up the missionaries, that the missionaries will build up the church. He told me a lot of things and man it was food for thought. I don't know what will happen in my immediate future, but I know his plans for me and what he would like me to do and refine. He told me things also that he thinks I am good at and he wants me to refine those skills to help other missionaries and people throughout my life. I don't want to write too much, because I would feel like I was bragging or building myself up haha and I am not trying to do that. But I am really grateful for President Wall and all that he does for us, he is truly inspired and probably one of the best leaders and most Christlike people that I know. He also told me that I am no longer the youngest looking missionary in the mission haha. I guess you look to young to have a 23 year old mom and I look to young to be on a mission. 

We also had to prepare a 20 minute lesson to role play with the Assistants and Sister Wall on one of the missionary lessons. We were freaking out before and we kept practicing and practicing, but we couldn't get it down. So we went into the lesson a little nervous, but we both tried to ask questions and discern from the spirit. They were acting as a less-active couple and you could tell they were not happy with each other. A few minutes into the lesson they told us that they had lost a son a year previous when he drowned in their pool. The wife said she was mad at herself, her husband was mad at her and that she felt God was mad at her. It was a pretty intense situation, but they spirit was there to guide us. The spirit was really strong and afterwards one of the APs, Elder Helie told us a story about when he had a similar situation happen to him. He told us something that spirit told him that he knew of a Father who sent his son to die, who knew what was going to happen, so all of his children could come back to him. Pretty powerful. The spirit really is the true teacher and in the end all we have to do is rely on the Holy Ghost and we will be effective missionaries. That is President Walls new focus for the mission, be spirit-led. Become ODD missionaries (Observe, Discern, Do it)

We had a really dinner and lesson with the Simmons that night on gratitude. We showed a little mormon message and then we went around and all said what we were grateful for. This is a great time to count our many blessings.  A couple cool quotes about gratitude from a talk that Pres. Ucthdorf gave

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."4

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables you to count your blessings.”12

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” --Johm F Kennedy


This is an awesome ward and we had some really fun visits with families this week inculding: The Dikets, Voisins, Smiths, Holloways, Phillip and Maggie, Cedric and Makkie, Laurie and her family and Bubba. 

I love you guys so much and I hope that you have a great Thanksgiving week and break!! Enjoy the family time and the the opportunity that we have to remember our blessings. You are the biggest one in my life! Blessing I mean haha. I love you

Prayers and Thoughts always

Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thibodaux has a special place in my heart...

Hello Hello,

It sounds like you guys had a great week. That is cool about that girl named Bri Ray, I would love to hear some of her songs. I really love songs with a good message because that is a powerful way to invite the spirit into your life. Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers and more often than not it is through other people. That is cool that you got to go see those paintings of Christ at BYU. I have to say that Heinrich Hoffmann does my two of my favorite pictures of Christ. The one of Christ and the young merchant and also the portrait of Christ. He does a really good job of capturing the love and gentleness that our Savior possesses. I am a little bit jealous that you were able to go see all of those, haha but I think that is so cool. Pretty amazing to feel the spirit of Christ in some beautifully done paintings.

We have gotten pretty close to the Bishop down here and I am realizing how large of a calling that is. You have to deal with all of the personal issues and challenges of the ward and a whole area and there well being rests on your shoulders. It has made me gain a great respect and appreciation for how this church is organized because even though the Bishop is largely responsible, the Lord calls qualified and amazing people to assist him in the ward. It really is just like a big family. Hope everything is going well with that is well.

Crazy to think I have been out for 11 months tomorrow and I hit halfway in a month. Time flies. I really love being a missionary though, especially here in Thibodaux. Sometimes I feel like I was called to the Thibodaux, Louisiana mission.  I love it. Sounds cheesy, but Thibodaux has a special place in my heart.

Well this week has been really cool, we have seen a lot of cool miracles. On monday we went to the Tarr's to have dinner with the sisters and then we had a little campfire outside. We all roasted marshmallows, we also roasted some starbursts and just enjoyed our time together. It was a really memorable experience. They also asked me to baptize their 9 year old daughter Kiana and I had the special opportunity to do that yesterday. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit nervous, but I felt really humbled and excited at the same time. That was the first time I have ever baptized someone, even for baptisms for the dead or anything. It was a really special experience, and I feel so grateful that they asked me to participate. They asked Elder Bennett to confirm her and that was also amazing to be a part of. The spirit was really strong and it is something that I will never forget. I love the Tarrs a lot.

This week I went on exchanges with our District leader Elder Billings down to Cut Off (hence the title.) I am pretty sure the reason they named that place Cut off is because it is literally cut off... it is way down the bayou. We were able to visit a lot of people and have a couple cool lessons with some members and less-active members. It was a really good experience and a lot of fun to get to know Elder billings a little better. After the exchange I went back to Thibodaux with Elder Bennett and he did a really good job taking it over. He was a little nervous to do it at first, but he k did better than I could really haha. It felt nice to be back.

I think probably our biggest miracles happened this weekend. First we went to lunch with Sister Voisin and she took us to this fancy Mexican place and it was really good. I got the chicken fajitas and it began to fill the void little hole in my soul for Mexican food. That was awesome to just be able to talk to her about the gospel and support her. She is pretty much our mission mom. Things were a little slow later that day but we decided to text C. and M. to see how they were doing. He ended up calling us a few minutes later to tell us that he had tonsillitis and that he wanted us to come over and pray with him. When we got over there we offered him a blessing and he accpeted. You could tell that he was a little apprehensive at first because for someone who hasn't experienced that before, it can be pretty different haha. But we gave him a blessing and the spirit was there. One of the coolest things though was that after we gave him one he asked us to give one to his wife for a chronic condition that she has in her hands that brings her a lot of pain...not arthritis, I'm not really sure. But we had the opportunity to give her one as well and my faith grew a lot from that experience. It was just cool to see C. ask us to give his wife a blessing, that is a huge act of faith in the priesthood and its power. We then talked to them for awhile and just talked to them. We shared a couple cool experiences about the priesthood and Elder Bennett shared a miraculous one.  I really love Elder Bennett, he is such a great missionary and a great friend. Haha we do some pretty crazy stuff though. I have a lot of respect for him, he is probably one of the best friends I have had. (I just wanted to let you guys know that story, I didn't ask his permission so maybe not put it on the blog.) But we just talked with C. and M., they gave us some shrimp and Crab bisque...super good and then he talked to me a lot about psychology. It was a cool experience. We are going to see them tonight.

On saturday we went to the Temple with Bro. P. He went through for the first time and he received his endowments. Man, I love the Temple and the new video is really cool. I learned a ton and I am excited to go with you guys when I get home. I love the temple and I always feel close to the Lord when I am there. I am also really happy for Bro P. because he has been through some hard stuff in the last couple months, but he was able to receive a great blessing. We went with the Bybees and then afterwards we went to this place called izzo's illegal burrito. Not quite Cafe Rio...far from it. But they did a pretty good job. When we got home we went to the Tabors and had a cool lesson on the love that Heavenly Father has for us. It almost turned into a mini testimony meeting, but we invited all of them to pray to ask Heavenly Father to help them see his love. He always answers and I did it that night as well and he answered me.  He loves us a lot.

Yesterday was super fun first because of the baptism but we were also able to go to the Andersons for dinner. They are such a cute family. They have 4 girls from 11 down to 4 and a little baby boy. They are all super smart, they love the gospel more than any other kids that I have ever met and they just love to have fun. There are a lot of places on my mission where I feel at home and the Anderson's made it on that list. We taught them the Restoration and Elder Bennett took the lead. All of the little girls were raising there hands, asking questions and giving answers. It was so much fun to teach them and it was probably the best Restoration lesson I have ever been a part of. I have a lot of respect for Bishop Anderson and his wife and they are doing such a great job in every aspect of their lives.

I love you guys so much and I just want you to know how grateful I am that I was able to grow up in such an amazing family. We have so much fun together and you guys really are my best friends. I hope you guys have a great week.

Prayers and thoughts always


Elder Devin Soper

Monday, November 18, 2013

Das un Schfenda Benda...

Dear Family,

Sorry I know that is a weird title, but Elder Bennett and I have been talking in funny accents all week and so I thought I would share one of our favorite lines haha. The translation is "Ah man, a car wreck."

I am glad that things are going well back home and Haley, Jordan and Mom are having so much fun in Canby. Thank you for the pictures and for the fun updates. Those mushrooms looked awesome and I bet they taste good too! That is so cool that you guys almost have the house all fixed up. I am excited to see how it is. Mom told me that it is a 3 bedroom house. A room for you guys, a room for Olive and then a room for...a baby? hehehe. But it sounds like you guys are having a ton of fun and fitting right into the community. Your food experiences sound pretty stellar too. Thanks for the awesome update.

Thank you guys for the great letters, they were much needed this week. I don't know why but it was kind of an up and down week. Some days I was feeling good and then there were some days I was just really tired and lacking a lot of motivation. I will say that it was a really good learning experience for me and I felt myself grow. I have found that there are two ways that I learn through experience as a missionary. Sometimes Heavenly Father will help and strengthen me to do it the right way, or I will make the mistake, mess up a little bit and learn as I pick myself back up.  Both are good ways to learn, but the lesson  especially sticks when you fail first and learn from that. This week had a couple of experiences that were some of the failing first, but learning later.

Looking back, we had a really busy week. After district meeting on Tuesday we went with the Sisters to visit a couple older widows in the ward and play guitar for them. That was a lot of fun and always make for a good story. They were both really sweet ladies, but one is pretty hard of hearing so I was practically yelling Nearer my God to thee. I guess that could be a good thing since the whole neighborhood heard it. But I am very humbled and it seemed to make their day. We also had a really cool experience with P. and M. They are the young Catholic couple that Rachel Bybee sent us to see a while back. We went over and we shared a little message with them and then we were getting ready to leave but M. asked us to stay. She then asked us to share another message. So we did and that opened up this huge conversation about God, life and families. We ended up staying there pretty long haha, for about 3 hours,  just talking to them as they asked us questions. Really the main topic was about families and how we can strengthen them and how they could help their kids have a great and happy experience. We shared a lot of testimony, we cried a little bit and grew a lot. They are a really great family and I feel blessed to have gotten to know them and I hope we can keeping working with them and help strengthen their faith in the Savior.

Elijah was baptized this week and it really came together in a nice way. There was a really good turn out and the ward really took charge of running the whole thing. Elder Bennett and I did a lot of the ground work, preparing things, doing the paper work, making sure everything was good to go, but after that we were able to sit back, and experience a baptism that was a major miracle. We had been working with Elijah for a long time and it is sad what happened with his family, but it opened the door for him to exercise his faith and do what he believed to be right. I am really happy for him and he is going to be a great example to his family, his friends and everyone around him. He is a pretty amazing kid and I feel so blessed that we got to be part of his progression in the gospel. There is always a special spirit at a baptism, but even more so when they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting. Really cool to witness in a very real way the change in someones life for the better as they come closer to Christ. This gospel is a gospel of change and it is a really good change.

We had another cool experience with C. and M. They are the couple that stopped us on the way to the library. We have had a lot of scheduling issues with them and we could never create anything solid. But one day C. called us and just asked us what we were all about. We asked if we could come over for a few minutes and he said we could, so we got there as fast as we could haha. He was waiting for us and he was really ready to just learn and soak up all that we had to offer. He is so honest and sincere in his desire to come closer to Christ and do the right thing for his family. That made the discussion so meaningful and spirit filled. We talked to him about prophets and how the Book of Mormon blesses our lives and the lives of our family. He asked us a lot of questions and after the whole thing was over, about 20 minutes, we asked him how he felt and he said "happy, fulfilled and grateful" He told us he and his wife want to come back and he agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Man it is really refreshing to have met someone who is so genuine, kind and wants to learn. Lots of people are willing to learn, but they want to, they enjoy it, it is really cool.

Yesterday was really fun. Church was especially good because it was the primary program and those are always a lot of fun. Those are sometimes the most spiritual meetings and the funniest. There are some really cute families in this ward and I think we are blessed to have a lot of kids and a good size group of youth here. But after church we stopped by the Tabors , had a quick lesson with them and then had to go off to the Stocks for a dinner appointment. She made us this really yummy sausage with homemade bread and salad, good stuff. But Bishop Anderson has asked the missionaries to teach all of the active members the missionary lessons and I will admit that I was pretty scared aft first. But we taught the Bybees the Restoration yesterday and that was an special experience. The day before I had done a really poor job in a lesson, I just talked to much and ended up tainting our lesson with strange tangents and irrelevant information. I made a goal to ask at least three inspired questions so I could become more of an ODD missionary (president walls acronym for Observe Discern Do it). So I tried it this lesson and Elder Bennett is already good about doing that and it made it such a better experience. It was so fun to discuss the Restoration with them and the spirit was constantly there bearing the truth of that message. How amazing is it that we know that God loves us, that he has called a prophet, that he continues to speak to us and he has restored the priesthood to bless our lives. That is awesome! We are so blessed to have that knowledge. But the Bybees are a great family and they are just so strong in the gospel. I really look up to them and love them a lot.

After that we went to the Tabors and just to let you know how spoiled we are, we had a shrimp boil. Brother Tabor went out the night before and caught 55 lbs of shrimp. If you have a fishing license you are legally able to catch 100 pounds of shrimp...everyday! So he only caught about half of that... but it was still 200 dollars worth of shrimp for free. But they boiled up probably about 6 or 7 pounds and man it was really good haha. They also gave us a bunch to come home with us and both Elder bennett and I made Shrimp po boys for lunch today... we are spoiled. But it was a lot of fun to just hang out, peel shrimp, eat good food and strengthen friendships. I really love this ward and it feels a lot like home.

A couple other highlights for the week, L. has started reading her scripures again and we promised her that we would do hand stands and cartwheels for her and her kids. She held us to that haha. So on Saturday Elder bennett and I spent about 10 minutes doing gymnastics on her lawn... it might have been a mistake letting her know we would do the worm for her if she read 3 chapters in a day... just kidding it will be fun.

I just want to let you guys know how much I love you. I know I say that every letter, but I want you to know that I really do mean it. I think about you guys often and how you are probably the biggest blessing in my life.  And I am so grateful that I can share those blessings with others here on my mission. I love you guys and you are my best friends, thank you. I will end with a little presidents letter exerpt.

This ZTM really focused on the messenger before the message. We watched a talk by Elder Holland where he talked about the purpose of Preach My Gospel. One of the reasons Preach my Gospel was formed was to help bring the message of the gospel into the missionaries heart, not just in their ears and out their mouth. It helps us to become converted. That word become is something that has really stuck out to me this week. Becoming a Preach My gospel missionary, becoming a Saint through Christ the Lord, becoming converted. The word itself implies that it is a process, that we are working towards a goal of being something, not just doing something. I am realizing that conversion isn't just doing something about what we know, but becoming it. Not just doing missionary work, but becoming one. Not just doing good, but becoming good. Not just doing what the spirit tells us, but BECOMING spirit led. I think Mosiah 3:19 is the perfect scripture about becoming:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Like President Uchtdorf said, we aren't perfect and so in this life we never become perfect, but each day we can become better. Each day we become a little more converted is a check mark to becoming who God wants us to be. The Book of Mormon is probably the best to help us become. I look forward to reading the scriptures, because now that I understand how much better life is when you draw strength from it, it is a scary thought not too. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon because it is helping me to understand, love and become more like our Savior. What a blessing it is that God has given this book for the whole world to read so they can become better each day.

Hope you guys have a great week!!!


Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's all Gucci, Fo Sho...


So I guess to explain the title of the email: this last week somebody made fun of how I say For Sure, because down here the say Fo Sho. So I have been having to correct myself every time so I can stay hip and with it. Also he told us that one of the things people say instead of "It's all good." or "That's cool" is "It's Gucci" (like that fancy clothes brand). Haha man I am really what Mike Birbiglia calls a "Cracker." "Cracker please pass the sun chips..." It is fun though because they like it when you make fun of your self and it has created a lot of friendships.

Dinner with the Pattens

I think that is one thing that we have done a lot of this week, create and strengthen a lot of friendships. This last monday we went over to the some investigator's house to drop off some cookies and they told us to come in and have dinner with them. He made this really good grilled red fish and grilled vegetables. He marinated the fish in Jalapeno olive oil and grilled the vegetables with some yummy spices. It was good and I think slowly I am getting converted to the charcoal grill... But it was so nice to be able to talk with them and get to know them on a personal level. It created an environment for the spirit to be present and to share a more meaningful message. I'll go into some more cool stories a bit later.

Your guys costumes looked really good! Man Taylor and emma really put a lot of thought and effort into their costumes. I remember when I was  Taylor's age, Halloween morning I rummaged through our costume bin and found some weird pants, a strange jacket and a fanny pack... haha and then our senior year when Hayden, Kevin and I all dressed up like cooper hahah that was actually pretty funny. So my hats off to you for being creative. Also steve jobs and raggedy Ann, that was pretty good I am impressed Mom that you were able to put all of that together. Everybody looks pretty different. Emma is at least 3 inches taller or more, Taylor I guarantee is taller than me, Dad you look really thin and Mom you look like you haven't aged at all. I think I look about the same...maybe a bigger bum from riding my bike haha but that is about it. You guys look good.

I have to say that Elder Bennett and I were really laughing hard at the how to win a conversation stuff. It was interesting to think about and recognize people that we know that kind of do some of that stuff...scary. But that was also a pretty cool article about you in the magazine, it was refreshingly simple, not quite as over the top as they sometimes do. I am glad and sad in someways that life is taking a bit of a busy, but fulfilling turn for you guys, it is tough sometimes, but the time ends up speeding by. I guess you get a lot done, but a lot of the simple moments pass by too quickly too. I guess it is good and bad. I can't believe that is almost winter there. It is crazy to think that around this time last year we were preparing and getting stuff ready for my mission. Does it feel like it has been almost a year to you guys? Because it has not felt like that at all to me. I will probably hit some sort of mid-mission crisis soon. I am looking forward to the Christmas season though and being able to share the message of the gospel during a time where many peoples minds are turned to our Savior. I feel like you sometimes Mom, that I can be doing more, that although I am trying, maybe it is not enough. I really like what you said though that because our Savior atoned for our sins it gives us the opportunity to do our very best. It is a cool concept to take baby steps and that everyday, we can be better than we were the day before. I heard a cool quote "We can create an ordinary man [or woman]. But Heavenly Father can create a God." That is our potential and that is pretty amazing. God has a lot confidence in us and I am coming to learn more and more that it is really hard to comprehend his love for us because it is so great.

We had  a pretty good week this week. It started off a little slow, just things kept falling through, but by the end we were seeing a ton of miracles because we stayed diligent. This next week E. is actually going to be baptized and he will reverie the holy ghost and the priesthood this Sunday. That has been a blessing to be part of his progression and I am so grateful for his faith and example to us. He is going to be a huge strength for the ward, his family and for the people he comes in contact with in the future. We haven't been able to meet with C. and M. yet, but we had a cool tender mercy with them this week. We dropped off a plate of cookies one day and they couldn't meet but they told us to come back the next day at 10. So we went back the next day and nobody answered. So we left a little card with our number and a short message. Later that day they called! They said they were sorry they weren't home, but that they really want to meet with us and here more about the gospel. That is really cool and both Elder Bennett and I have a really good feeling about them. The Pattens already expressed interest in inviting them over for and FHE and dinner once we get to know them better. Pretty cool!

We had a cool experience with Sis. T., a less-active widow in the ward. We shared this scripture and I had this prompting to ask her what she thought about humility, which was off ths subject...she said it makes me think of frustrating, aggravation and humiliation... I was thinking to myself "Shoot I messed this up pretty badly." haha But Elder Bennett began saying that having humility is being humble which is being gently and kind. This sparked a conversation about how sometimes we may have humiliating experience, things that really aren't fun but they end up making us more humble and loving. This turned into a larger conversation about the doctrines of the church and she began expressing concerns about things she didn't quite understand. It was really cool to see the spirit working and how happy she was becoming as the spirit entered her heart.

We also had a really cool lesson with L. and C. about the Book of Mormon. L. has always been apprehensive about saying prayers in front of us, we knew that it would bless her life if she began saying her prayers in generally and so we were lovingly persistent in inviting her to say one. This is one reason why it is so important to be there friend, we are pretty goofy around her and so we have created a funny and light-hearted relationship  with her family. having that we were able to, as a friend, be bold in inviting her to act.  It took a little bit to make her feel comfortable, but she did say a simple and heartfelt prayer. We came back a few days later and she was happy, you could see the light and difference in her face and she had hope. A The spirit was so strong and the knowledge that came to us all couldn't have come any other way. We were amazed also to see the the spirit working through us and how the chapter was addressing her specific needs.  The Book of Mormon is awesome.

We had a really good day yesterday. We left the apartment at 7:30 to go to church and we never came back until 9:30 at night. It was go go go but it was so awesome. We met with the Tabors, we had a little meal with the Voisins, K. and C. invited us over for steaks and bbq and we we just laughed, got to know each other better and had a good lesson. To end the night too we went over to the Pattens and they made this really cool authentic Japanese dish with where they had this big pot of broth and beef with tons of japanese vegetables. You had a bowl of rice in one hand and filled another bowl with stuff from the pot and then you just went to town with the chopsticks. It was really cool and I was just really grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary here, that I was blessed enough to come serve were some of the best members and people are. I love the people here and I learn from them everyday.

Jacob 5; 72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

The Lord is always with us and he always will be.

I love you guys!!!

Prayers and thoughts always

Elder Devin Soper

Monday, November 4, 2013

I get to stay here another transfer!

Hey Familia,

Woot Woot I get to stay here another transfer! It is transfer week (that is why I wasn't able to email yesterday) and almost the whole district is staying. I am looking forward to this transfer and I think it is going to be full of miracles.

Thank you for that advice about sarcasm and cynicism. I really liked how you talked about the difference between and being a sarcastic person and an ironic person. Both use sarcasm as a form of humor or as a tool for catharsis, but one, the sarcastic person puts himself above, but the ironic puts himself level. I think it is really important to have humor, have a sense of sarcasm but the key is to be able to laugh at yourself. I guess one person has pride and one has humility. Interesting how it is similar but your attitude and intentions make a huge difference. Thank you again, that really helped me to understand the kind of person that I would like to be. For example I was really tired this week and I went to say a prayer at somebodies house and it went a little like this "Dear Heavenly Father, we say these things in the name of...uh...we thank thee for...etc" haha it was nice to be able to laugh about that and use it to strengthen not only my relationship with my companion, but also Heavenly Father. I also use some funny examples in lessons and then end up being a little joke that builds trust and friendship. I guess it just makes life more fun to not take it too seriously. (the computer just used auto correct on "seriously" and changed it to "sensually" haha again a funny mishap that you can laugh about haha) But thank you so much for being good examples of healthy humor.

It sounds like you guys had a pretty eventful and sports filled week. Is Alex a senior this year? I think he is right? That is crazy, I just had one of those am I really this old moments... I guess I am not that old but older than I realize. That is cool that he is thriving and enjoying life so much here now. I am really happy for him and I hope that he has a good end of his senior year. Do you know when he is planning to go on his mission? (We might not see each other for about 4 years... crazy)

I think sometimes in the past I imagined the church to be this perfectly run organization where its members had minimal problems, but I could have not been further from the truth. "God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes." quote from Pres.Uchtdorf given in this last conference. That quote not only goes for the leaders of this church, but everyone. We make mistakes, we all do. My perspectives have changed a lot from my somewhat naive and innocent outlook before that this church allowed members to be free from many troubles, to this gospel allows and gives the wonderful opportunity to receive strength in Christ when trials, challenges, transgressions and mistakes do come. Missions are good for giving you a new view on life haha.

I think you are definitely right mom, when you are able to start off your day with a prayer and the scriptures it makes a huge difference in every aspect of your life. Not only does it increase your knowledge, but increases your capacity to be more Christlike. I think that is because we are inviting the spirit to be present and show Heavenly Father that we want his companionship. We are always blessed immensely for little acts of faith.

I am glad that you were able to use those stories in your lesson, it is cool to see God move in your life. We were able to follow up with both B. and L. yesterday and it went pretty good. B works at nicholls and the conversation ended up turning into trying to recruit Elder Bennett and I to their school haha, thats okay. But we were able to stop by and see L., we found out she had been in Florida for the last little bit and so that is why we hadn't seen her there. She told us that she hasn't read any yet but she is looking forward to and she wanted our number so she could call us to come by sometime. She asked us about Christmas and then told us that she used to love going to the plays the church put on by the Mesa Arizona temple during Christmas time. She is really prepared. I think there is a good quote that goes with this from the last Ensign from Pres Hinckley, “Do your best, your very, very best. Say your prayers and work hard and leave the harvest to the Lord.”

We also have been working really closely with a Less-Active Member right now, K. and it has been cool to see his desire grow as he just had a new baby. This last week he and his girlfriend had their 3rd child and he had a pretty rough week. He called Elder bennett and I and asked for a blessing. We weren't able to go over that day, but we made an appointment to go over the next day. That next day was a pretty rough day, nothing was really working out and both Elder bennett and I felt a little discouraged. We were able to meet with K. and that visit really turned our day around. We had a great gospel discussion and were able to give him a blessing. The spirit was definitely there and it lifted all our spirits. Another cool thing that happened is J. came with us to the Pattens daughters baptism. He didn't make it to church, but it is a start. We have also been working closely with the Tarrs and we are becoming good friends with them. I think we are really blessed to have awesome members and families down here. There are a few places down here that really feel like home. 

To end I will share one more cool miralce and then an exerpt from my presidents letter.

There was one day where I was feeling pretty anxious to get out and work, but I decided in my mind that we are going to do 12-week and since we were doing it anyways, to enjoy it. So we did. That decision helped us to have a really productive and meaningful study, rather than a disgruntled and resentful one. That was a miracle within itself, but then another miracle happened right after that and I choose to believe that correlation does prove causation. We decided to walk to the library rather than ride our bikes and that resulted in us taking a different route. As we were walking a young couple was sitting on their porch, we waved to them and they waved back. As we walked a little further the husband called back to us and asked us "who we work for." We went back and explained that we were missionaries for our church. They began to explain to us that they had each belonged to other churches previous but they had run into some complications (getting offended it sounds like) and in their words they were looking for " a family friendly religion" they could bring their family to. We talked to them about the Book of Mormon and shared our testimonies about how it has strengthened our faith in Christ and blessed our families in so many ways. They each accepted a copy and invited us to come back. We have a return appointment with them today and we are looking forward to getting to know them better. I believe that that miracle was a blessing for acting in faith, receiving the guidance of the spirit and following that prompting. Needless to say we have been walking to the library since then because it is much easier to approach people when you aren't zooming by on a bike. Pretty cool tender mercy though.

I have read a couple talks and have also been reading in the scriptures about consecrating ourselves as missionaries or in other words, giving our hearts to the Lord. I found a cool couple of scriptures in 2 Nephi today that I think display the blessings that come from giving our heart to Heavenly Father (the only gift we can truly give to him.)

2 Nephi 32 :9 pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

When we give our heart to God, we will become better, because he makes us better, it will be for the "welfare of [our] souls." And when we don't, our efforts "profiteth us nothing." Or since we are holding back we aren't allowing the Lord to change us. Nephi in the next chapter then explains one of the blessings that he received for submitting his will to the Lord

2 Nephi 33:
7 I have charity for my people...

8 I have charity for the Jew...

9 I also have charity for the Gentiles...

Nephi's capacity to love was magnified. He loved everyone around him, the way Christ would. The Lord can do more with us than we can with ourselves. A talk that Elder Bennett let me borrow said this " We can create an ordinary man. [Heavenly Father] can create a God." Consecrating ourselves, giving our whole self, giving our heart to God is the way to happiness while on your mission and during your life, in the end it is the easy way.

I love you guys so much! Thank you for everything that you do. And short letters or long letters, I love to hear from you guys and I just want you to do what ever is easiest. I know you guys care, I know you guys are busy and I am just grateful for your prayers and support. Tank you tank you.

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper