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

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