Monday, February 25, 2013

Well, first off, I cut my own hair this week...

Dear Family,

I don't know really where to start with this email, ha ha. But I did enjoy all of your letters and emails this week. It was fun to hear about Taylor and his team and also about how well Emma is doing with her play. And I am glad to hear it sounds like everybody is starting to get over that sickness. I am so glad to hear that! Thanks for the updates! I really wish I could respond to everything that you send me, because it is all good and I want you to know how much I appreciate it and stuff. But tell Uncle Dan thank you, I am not sure if I deserve that, but it definitely made me feel very good. I have to attribute most of that you, Mother and Father, because you are the ones that taught me to be that way. Also I loved getting the two little letters from Clara and Emma, ha ha.

Also I need to thank you for the good advice that you gave me. It has really helped and I feel like it is contributing really positively to Elder Gentry and mine's companionship. Things are looking on the up and up with that stuff.  I will be able to use that advice with all of my companions and my future wife and really everyone that I ever meet. It is pretty universal advice. And I loved your talk dad.  I think that is one that I can take excerpts from and use it in a lot of talks. To respond to some of your questions. I do like Pres and Sis Wall. I actually still haven't had an interview with Pres Wall, so I don't really feel like I know him to well yet, haha. I have a feeling though, that we will get to know each other very well through out my mission.

This week has been crazy. It seems that when things become more comfortable, a wrench gets thrown in the system. It helps you learn though.  I will just go through my week. Well, first off, I cut my own hair this week. I decided that it would be a lot cheaper in the long run and maybe my wife will appreciate later on. And guess what, it actually looks pretty good! Surprising, I know. But I did shave a little to much behind my ear... nobody has noticed though yet. And when I was doing it I forgot to cut off right at the back of my head, so I had this little 3x3 long tuft of hair... But I took care of it, haha. I am still learning, but it will be much more convenient than going to a barber once a month. We have done a lot of driving this week. I don't even know how many times we have come to and from baton rouge, but it was a lot. It has actually been a miracle that we have gotten as much done as we did. On Tuesday, we went to help out a few of the missionaries in South Baton rouge. We took them to the mall of Louisiana and it was huge. We walked around for a bit and I heard this Alison Krauss song. It was awesome, but made me miss home a little bit. While we were walking around a girl called us over. She was a mall train conductor, where little kids could pay her and she would drive them around the mall. Her name was K_____  and she said that she knew we talked about God and had some questions. She asked us who she was praying to and some other questions about the God head. She seemed like she was already a member with what she believed about religion and it was an effortless conversation to tie her questions to the restoration of the Gospel. She wants to learn more and so we gave her our number (although she is not in our area haha). It was a cool experience and it shows how we have to just put ourselves out there and Heavenly Father will put people in our path to help.

We had to go to transfer meeting this week to get a new car and it brought back so many unnerving memories of my first day here. It put me in a funk for the rest of the day. But I did get to see Elder Pope one last time and we got to take a picture together. He told me he would show it to you guys! I am sad that I couldn't spend more of my mission with him. I have an official Ghetto name now, I got it from one of the members, Sis J. She calls me "Babyboy," but we are suspecting she calls me that because she doesn't know my real name haha. None the less it is pretty funny. I was also able to give her a blessing this week, because she has been really sick and is getting worse. I feel pretty honored that we are able to give blessings. That we are trusted to act and speak with the authority of God. It was a really cool experience and something that I will remember. That phrase you sent me dad about being content with my efforts is something that I am implementing into my everyday life. A mission is hard and you have to just do your best with your situation. It is good to have a constant reminder that you just need to try your best and the Lord will do the rest. Also we helped Bro. R fertilize and put pesticides on all of his fruit trees last week.

To end I will tell you about my eating experience this week. An investigator invited us over to a BBQ and Boil yesterday. They had BBQ'd chicken, pork chops and sausage. And let me tell you, they know what they are doing down here. They also boiled, potatoes, corn, sausage, turkey necks, pig neckbone and pigs feet. And guess what, I tried it all. I am Andrew Zimmern. It was all really really good. The pigs feet are all fat and skin and if you ever eat them, don't let them cool down before you eat them...  But I will send you some pictures. Also look up the new Mormon message it is called "Mountains to Climb" and it really helped me out this week. The last thing that I will put in is a poem that Pres Wall  sent to me this last week.

The winds of adverstiy are blowing your way
Against mighty forces you must travel each day
God sends you gusting gales to bend your soul
Bending not breaking is a strengthening goal
Strength earned by overcoming will ever stay
Deeply Rooted you will never stray,

I love you!

Elder Soper

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Man, I am just doing a little jig in the library...

Hey y'all,

That is so cool about my roomates [getting their mission calls]! They are all going to be such good missionaries and it is interesting to see where they are all going.  [Hunter: West Indies; Alex: Dominican Republic; Scott: Toronto; Rocky: Winnipeg; Brett: Iowa]  Tell them I say hi and that they are so prepared and they don't even know it. Also I am getting excited for Cooper, Kevin and Christian to leave soon too.  It will be cool when we are all out serving the Lord.  Man, I am just doing a little jig in the library.

Elder Soper and Elder Gentry

This last week I am learning a lot about myself and what kind of person that I want to be. I have come to a lot of points where I have to decide how I want to react to a certain situation and it is scary, because I don't want to make the wrong decision.  I have been praying a lot about it and looking to you guys as a perfect example to be a good friend, companion, father, husband, and son.  Elder Gentry and I had a little difference this week and we brought it up in companionship inventory.  I usually let things go a lot when things come up.  I would rather take the hit than create more contention.  But sometimes it gets to the point when it is hard to take. I had a really hard time deciding if I should brings things up or not. That is something that I know will be in a marriage and it is funny that I am learning how to react to situations I will face as a husband with Elder Gentry, ha ha. I told him that and he said "that means I am like your wife..." Scary thought, haha.  But I was wondering if you guys had any advice on that. When is it good to bring things up and when is it just better to let things go?  I just want to make the best decision.  You really learn a lot about your self on your mission and it is tough to encounter that. But I am really hoping that through the Lord's help and the help of those around me (in Utah) that my mission will help me become my best self, and somebody that will be able to help others.

I did give a talk this week and I was happy sister Gordan could send you that picture. I might attach my talk [see below] and I used part of your talk you gave me a couple weeks ago dad. Sacrament meeting was crazy though. I gave my talk and it went really well. I had fun preparing it and writing it. Then lo and behold, Bro C was up next. He started out his talk saying he did want to speak because he didn't feel worthy. He transitioned to thanking many people that contributed to African American rights, he then talked about challenging the sluggish mind. In the middle of his talk an investigator fell asleep and was snoring. Brother C got down from the pulpit, tapped him and told him to listen up. He then walked back to the pulpit and proceeded to speak. He ended his talk by going through people in the Branch by name and telling them why he respected them. It was the craziest talk I have ever heard and it was so fun. The whole time I was just thinking "My family would have loved this." But the Plaquemine branch really has character.  I almost lost it a couple of times.  It was a fun Sunday.  Later than day we had a musical fireside and that was really cool.  All the missionaries in the Baton Rouge zone sang the EFY medley and Pres. and Sister Wall had us sing it again to record it. Maybe it will go on the blog?

We are continuing to see Louie [name changed] and he is still boiling water on his stove. But that is okay, because the first half of the week here was really cold and super rainy. These southern rainstorms are nuts! It falls down hard.  Fred [name changed]  is moving back home, I guess he had been staying at a member's house for the Holidays.  That is pretty sad and I am going to miss him.  But we did get his address and will send the missionaries to him in his area.  We were able to sit down with Willard [name changed] again for a little bit and that is awesome. Hopefully we can start seeing him regularly. We helped an investigator with some service and we are becoming really good friends with him. His name is Roberto [name changed] . The only problem is that he has one friend in the Church, his neighbor, who is more converted to Marie Osmond than the Gospel. His neighbor is a less active.  So we are trying to have Brother C go over there to see him.

I am running out of time (I'm on a timer computer...stinky) But a few more things, brother C_____  came out proselyting with us and that was great. We helped a less active wash his Camaro and his drunk wife surprised hugged me and Elder Gentry...scary. And we saw this really cool graffitti wall in Baton Rouge. I will try to send you a picture [below].

Thank you guys so much for your support and prayers. They are helping so much and I am foreva grateful to you. Missionary life is beginning to feel more natural and is becoming just life real life. I know it will just continue to go like that. I love being our here and I won't lie this is the hardest thing I have ever done, but I have grown a lot while I have been out here--a couple inches actually.  JK LOL maybe a little bit, but most emotionally and spiritually (not too much maturity wise though as you can tell, haha). I love you guys so much and I as so happy that we are all able to share in this adventure.  Well I have to go, I love you guys!


Elder Soper

Elder Soper's talk last Sunday:

Good morning Brothers and Sisters. First of all I want to thank you for being so kind and welcoming to me in the past weeks during this time of change and adjustment. I would like you to know that you have made the transition much smoother than it might have possible been. I was asked to speak for about 10 or 15 minutes but I decided since everyone believes I am about 15 or 16, I am justified in cutting it down to about a 5 minutes youth talk. I was given leeway in what I could talk about today and I thought I would speak about something that is a really big part of my life right now and that is missionary work. But more specifically the why we all need to be missionaries, how we do that and what we can do to prepare. First I want to begin with a story about my conversion to the Gospel.

About a year before my mission I started seriously thinking about my testimony in the Gospel and became concerned because I felt that I may have not had as strong a testimony as those around me. I didn’t feel like I could say that I “knew” that the Church was true. I didn’t know if I was converted to the Church, because I liked the people and the activities, or if I was sincerely converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I decided to find my own testimony, so I could say that I knew. But it didn’t come as easily as I thought. I began studying my scriptures more regularly, praying, going to seminary and going to church. But even after doing all these things I wasn’t visited by an angel and I didn’t have a miraculous moment where I realized the Church was true.. I realize now that I was going about this the wrong way. But I was still a little bit discouraged. One day I was going out home teaching with my grandpa and while we were out, he asked me to bear my testimony on priesthood blessings. As I was bearing my testimony, I realized that I really believed what I was saying and I was able to say it with conviction. After the lesson, one member of the family thanked me for my testimony and told me he could really feel how strong my testimony was. I didn’t realize until then that I had always had a testimony of these things. From the example of my parents and being able to see the gospel work throughout my life, my testimony had grown incrementally and I hadn’t noticed it until I had the opportunity to share it.

Elder Packer shares a few thoughts similar to this in an address he gave to new mission Presidents back in 1982. He says, “It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true…As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase.” In Ether 12:6 Moroni talks of faith and says: And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that afaith is things which are bhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.” Elder Packer ties that scripture to missionary work by saying “To speak out is the test of your faith” and that “it is by giving it away freely that it becomes yours.” This principle was very true to me and my experience in receiving my own testimony and I can tell you that during my brief weeks here on my mission my testimony is continually being strengthened as I share it. Elder Packer goes on to say that “The Spirit and testimony of Christ will come to you for the most part when, and remain with you only if, you share it. In that process is the very essence of the Gospel.” When we become converted to the gospel, we want to share it. We recognize that our purpose in life is to have joy through our Savior, Jesus Christ and we want to share that knowledge with others. Heavenly Father blesses us as we strive to do our best by sharing our testimony, by strengthening it. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ and I believe the best way to do that is to bear testimony of Him and His gospel. This is something that all of us can and our asked to do; we are missionaries whenever we share the gospel.  

I understand better than anyone that this can be scary and unfamiliar experience to share the gospel with everyone. I am learning a lot on my mission and more often than not I am learning from my mistakes. And I will admit, I was very nervous to come out and talk about my beliefs, but luckily, Pres. Uchtdorf, in the February Ensign, discusses this exact thing. I am sure that many of you have read it, it is titled “A Word for the Hesitant Missionary.” He explains how sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be anything awkward or forced; it can be as comfortable as talking about one of our hobbies. I would like to share a few of his thoughts. He shares a quote by St. Francis of Assisi and it reads “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.” I love this quote because it shows we can share our testimony by simply living it. I know now from experience that people watch us, they want to see how the mysterious Mormons act. It is important then that we have integrity and live those things that we teach and more importantly live true to our testimonies. Elder Bednar this last conference said, “We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.” Our testimonies should lead to action in our everyday lives. I had the opportunity to do an exchange with the missionaries that serve on LSU campus. I was able to see that in their situation being a missionary didn’t always consist of stopping everyone they see and telling them the good news. But much of their days consisted of making themselves available, familiar and being an example to those on campus. We can do this same thing that these missionaries do, share our testimonies outwardly through our actions.

Although, living the gospel is one way to share it, that doesn’t take away from the necessity of talking about it. Sometimes the hardest thing in missionary work is to have the courage to talk to people. It is the getting over the initial fear that takes the longest, but in reaction to thisPresident Ucthdorf in his message exclaims, “Brothers and sisters, have faith. The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn’t ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit.” We can have the faith that if we “Trust the Lord and do our best, He will do the rest.” (Elder Wirthlin) Our job is to share the Gospel, along with the happiness that it brings and the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of it to those who are prepared to receive it. We must do our part though in preparing for these opportunities.

As a full time missionary, we have the unique opportunity follow a routine every morning of personal and companionship studies. This time is essential to refill our spiritual tanks and grow in our knowledge of the Gospel. The Holy Ghost needs something and someone to work with and work through. One of the best ways to do that is to study the scriptures and become more familiar with the word of God. I would like to suggest that that is something that we should all do; set a part time from the world to study the scriptures. I recently received a letter from my dad, who is the Bishop of my home ward. He included part of a talk he gave and I believe some of it is applicable to our branch here in Plaquemine, along with missionary work in general. He goes to say:

Partaking of the sacrament is an essential, weekly ordinance, but the bulk of our engagement with the Gospel shouldn’t be confined to sitting in a seat in sacrament meeting or in attending Sunday school—it should be something we do on a daily basis by ourselves or with our families…As members, whatever our life situation or stage, perhaps we can recommit to studying the scriptures daily with real intent. Let’s try to carve out a quiet period of time each day where we’re not distracted by television, email, or cell phones to commune with the Spirit and Heavenly Father’s words—and to record in a journal some of our spiritual impressions.

I would like to extend this same commitment to all of us. It is important to find time to become spiritually renewed each day and we will be blessed as we try to do our best. As we become more familiar with the Spirit in our own studies, the spirit will be with us more as we try to share the Gospel. It is like a giant domino effect of spiritual strengthening. Heavenly Father is really really smart and it baffles my mind in how ingenious missionary work is. By having the faith to share our testimonies, our testimonies grow, and as our testimonies grow, we want to grow in our knowledge of the gospel, and as our knowledge grows, our faith and desire to share the gospel grows too! All we need to do is take the initial step forward. 

            To end, I will come back to my previous story. My testimony came to me in a way that I never thought that it would, but even then I tried to take the necessary steps to receive it. I will admit in my search I was maybe a little dense…no I was pretty dense and naive as I was digging through my gospel ground to find that seed of faith. I was digging around in the ground right under a little tree that I didn’t even realize had grown. I was a little to busy searching within myself and didn’t think to share what I already knew with others. But once I took the chance, everything became a lot clearer. When we are missionaries and we strive to share our beliefs, our testimony’s will grow and our desire to share them will grow. We will be a vessel that the spirit can work with and work through to help others progress in the Gospel. I know this is the Lord’s work… my testimony


Monday, February 11, 2013

By the end of my mission I want to be a level 100 Charizard...

(Note: these posts are edited excerpts from Elder Soper's letters to his family.  His parents maintain and update this site, and Elder Soper doesn't see it or post to it.  He reports that he appreciates so much the letters people have sent.  His mailing address is located to the right, on this blog page.  Thanks for encouraging and supporting him!)

Bejour me famy,

First of all I have to thank everybody that has sent me letters: Haley, Jordan, Ama and Lani; Grandma and Grandpa; Stan and Gwen; the fam; Ali and everybody else. I really appreciate getting them, I enjoy reading them so much and they help me in my missionary work and help me become a better man (What makes a man a man? Am I a man? Yes, technically I am... [quote from "Flight of the Conchords"]). So thank you for your support and I will try my best to get back to everyone! Just know that I love you all so much. 

Elder Soper arriving in Baton Rouge

Hey do you think you guys could send me some recipes that I could try out? And one of these days I will buy a bunch of spices and I will send them to you guys. (Tony's, Slap ya mama's etc...) It is all pretty spicy and good. And I have really enjoyed the food here so far. I had popeye's chicken and it was actually pretty good. Although, it does go through you like a torpedo (Jim Gaffigan) Speaking of which I also saw a Waffle House and it looked as scary as he made it sound haha. Also this week I got to try some Boudain and Hoghead cheese. It was really good, especially the Boudain (spiced rice and meat in a sausage casing). We are going to start looking for some good restaurants and we might try this Po' boy shop called Fat Daddies today. We'll just make it a once and a while thing though, haha.  I will take some pictures and find out the best places, so when we come back we can all go to them! I will keep you updated on the food.

It was really helpful to have you send the Baptist beliefs and I think it is just good to be educated on that. That would be awesome if you could keep sending them!  And I was really sad to hear about the Spring City house...and I am like you dad, the thought of those awesome laid back summer days with family are really pushing me to do my best. I want to make you and the Lord proud.

This week was pretty tough. Our work has really slowed down, our car has problems and a lot of our appointments have just been falling through. I was having a pretty rough time and I was feeling pretty down on myself. It is true when people say "you are your own worst critic." I didn't feel like I was really doing the best that I could and I thought there might be a correlation between that and the work slowing down. So the result was a stinky (kinda literally, it is really sweaty down here) and stressed out Elder Soper. Elder Gentry talked to me about setting goals and he helped me realize that the expectations that I might have for myself were maybe too high for where I am at right now. He used a Pokemon analogy, haha. By the end of my mission I want to be a level 100 Charizard, but right now I am only a level 9 Charmeleon. I can't jump strait to level 100, but I have to go level by level and gain skills along the way to get there. I thought that was actually pretty profound even though it is silly haha. But that helped me gain a better perspective and it reminded me of something Hunter told me "When you are focused on what you are not, you can never see where you are going." Oh yeah, how are my roommates doing, I have been thinking about them a lot lately and was just wondering how things are going. For that matter, how has everybody been doing? Has anybody else gotten mission calls?

Level 9 Charmeleon

Level 100 Charizard [images found and inserted by Elder Soper's nerdy dad...]

A couple of things that happened this week:

I did get to help a 12 year old boy in our ward fix a guitar string when I was over at his house. It felt pretty good and I enjoyed working on it. I will say it has been hard to not have guitar-- that was like my main stress reliever. I have started drawing more and that has been a good outlet and I will try to send you some cartoons soon.

We had specialized training this week and I finally got to talk to president Wall. He told me about how dad emailed him about being red dotted. [Editorial comment from Elder Soper's dad: I thought the red dot next to Devin's name on the official mission website meant that he'd been in an accident; but it simply meant that he was a new missionary.  Yes, embarrassing, but you have to admit that they need a better color coded system since red dots on the older missionaries pictures does mean they were in an accident! ]  That made me laugh because I know I would have done the exact same thing. But I didn't realize how many meetings you went to as a missionary. It is good though, because you learn a lot.

We committed one of our investigators to stop drinking. He said he was going to stop July 29, and we suggested a month from when we were talking so March 6. And then he exclaimed "FEBRUARY 25!" He bargained himself down haha. It reminded me of that funny lady in mexico with the ukelele. But this last saturday we saw him and he had had less beers than he normally does (we came up with a plan for him to ween off  drinking) and it was mardi gras weekend, that is a miracle. We also asked him to pray and he was hesitant, but we just asked him to pray about things he is grateful for. When he was done, he had tears in his eyes and just expressed how grateful he was. He is our friend and we love him. He is one funny man though, he always jokes about my name "There's my Sober!"

We had another exchange, this time with the Zone leaders and I took over the area for about a day. That was really stressful, but I survived and I learned a lot. I am learning a lot on my mission as I have said haha. Or as people would say down here, I am learning bookoo (Cajun version of beaucoup).

This saturday on bikes we got surrounded by a parade and couldn't go anywhere. Every street we were trying to get across, the parade was going down. So for about two hours we were riding around confused, trying to dodge rap music and drunk people haha. Mardi Gras is crazy and most kids have school off for it. It is a major holiday. We also got a media referral this down in Donaldsonville. It's about 20 miles away and we didn't get to meet this kid, he is 15, but we left our number with his mom. I thought it was pretty cool that a kid Taylor's age went on the church website and had the courage to request a visit. I am excited to meet him.

That is about the gist of our week and it was tough, but a growing experience. I'm going to try to attach a few pictures to show you guys. Also I have used the picture album you sent me and one of our member friend's kid was joking about our family. He is 5 and he was making fun of me for being white and I said he was pretty funny and he looked at me and said seriously "I always be funny." I love the people down here and I am getting pretty attached to Plaquemine. It is definitely a rough place overall, but the culture is interesting and the members down here are few but awesome.

Elder Soper with his high school friend Carson Redford

Thank you so much for your support and prayers, I can feel them all the time through the experiences I am having. I love you guys and try to follow your example in everything that I do down here. 

Elder Soper

Monday, February 4, 2013

"I cannot believe all that has happened since I have been here..."


I cannot believe all that has happened since I have been here. I feel like I have had an entire 2 year mission experience in these last couple weeks I have been here. And I don't even know where to start really, ha ha.

One of Devin's first photos from Louisiana

Well this week was crazy and I will just kinda go day by day. So last Monday I started to get agitated was just super stressed out.  Then we got a call from a man in our ward and we went over to his house to give his wife a blessing. I was able to perform in the blessing and it was a really cool experience. It was cool because I prayed that I could get over my frustration and this experience made me realize that I was really blessed and that things are going to come up and things are going to be hard, but it is really how we react to those situations that decides things. I prayed for challenges, patience and humility and I am getting it, ha ha. In the moment it is hard, really hard, but I am grateful for the outcome and I know that it will make me better and help me best help my investigators.  Do you think you guys could put Alma 26:12 on my cork board back at home?  I think that is a good scripture that describes how I want to be on my mission.

(Alma 26:12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.)

This week I went on an exchange to LSU with Elder Ageda and that was a crazy experience. We did this thing called Free Speech Alley, where we set up a table with Book of Mormon's, pamphlets, Bibles, DVDs and two big signs that said "Ask a Mormon." More often than not we were ignored, but some people came up and were genuinely interested. I talked to one girl who used to be an atheist but now is a devout Christian. She asked me a lot of questions and was, in a really polite way, teaching me. I also talked to and atheist and a guy who grew up Catholic at the same time. We were having two separate conversations and it was going really well until they started talking to each other and they found out they both had the same problems with the church and started talking to me about that. It was a really cool experience for me because I was able to stick up for what I believe and just share my testimony of the Book of Mormon with them. But we passed out a lot of Book of Mormons and there were a lot of people who came up to us and were super nice and interested in finding out if it is true. It was a really good experience. Later that night we got a text from one of the members and he had extra tickets to the LSU basketball game. Elder Ageda called Pres. Wall and he gave us permission to go ha ha. I was really scared at first since that is not something you usually do on your mission, but I was grateful for the opportunity and it made me want to do better and fulfill Pres. Wall's trust in us. A few other funny things that happened: I forgot my towel, so for 2 days I used a 10 x 10 inch hand towel to dry myself and I woke up one night and my arm was completely numb. I could not move it at all. I struggled to get it out from under my body and started waving it around to get the blood moving. And I kept hitting myself in the face because it was so limp.

We had a pretty slow week this week and we weren't able to see two of our investigators (partly because one was completely intoxicated when we went to see him on Saturday). But we were able to see L_____ this week and he moved places. His new place is much nicer and more inviting for the spirit I would say. He is doing a lot better than he usually is and we think it is because of his new place. The missionaries have acually been teaching L_____ for about a year and he is cousins with one of the members. But one cool thing is that Saturday night, things were moving pretty slow and it was getting time to head in. We decided to stop by this family's house that we have been trying to meet with. They are usually busy and we can't seem to sit down with them. But this time they let us in! We introduced the Book of Mormon and they were really receptive. The dad's name is W______ and his wife's is D________. They have 4 kids.  They are a good family and that is exciting to start meeting with them.

Food has been coming in a lot these days. Sis. Johnson invited us to her Brother's birthday party and we were the only white people there. They had loud hip hop and rap music and tons of good food: grilled chicken, dirty rice, shrimp pasta... And there were probably 80 people there.  It was a good chance to meet a lot of people. Yesterday was fast Sunday and testimony meeting was interesting. One brother was wearing an orange plaid trench coat with a black and orange "I heart Jesus" tie. He used to be a preacher and his testimony was like a power sermon. It had a good message. We had "break the fast" after church and there was some really good food. We had red beans and rice with brisket in it, pasta dishes and fried cat fish. Good good stuff. And for desert we had peach cobbler.

It is good I have that work out schedule. But last night the H______'s invited us over for dinner and a lesson. She and her son are members, but her husband is not. She is having us give the lesson to her and her son, for her son. But she also let us know that she really wants her husband to hear them as well. And he has been agreeing to sit in on them. She is in a tough situation and taking baby steps is really the way to go. We taught them the plan of salvation and it went alright, but not as good as we had hoped. We will keep teaching them though and trying to invite the spirit. But they made dinner for us and they fried up some bass and frog legs. I had some really Louisiana cooking. They soaked it in milk and then rolled it in a mixture of corn meal, salt, pepper and this spice called "Tony's" And I felt just like Guy [food show host].

I love you guys so much and let me know how I can make these letters more satisfying.  I will tell you one more funny story.  I was reading Emma's letter and I kinda got teary, just realizing how much I love you guys. But at the end she wrote "If you need anything, just ask." and "If your companion is mean, I can help." I started laugh crying...  Thank you for the letters and I can feel all of your prayers. I know Heavenly Father is blessing me so much and I am grateful to be out here. And I am sorry about this letter, it is all over the place. I have to get going. I love you so much!

Elder Soper