Monday, March 25, 2013

Sometimes things get pretty jumbled together...

Hey y'all,

Once again I have to thank you for the letters that you  sent, they really are one of the big highlights of my week. And also thank all those other people that have sent me letters as well. I want to write a couple down just to let them know that I got their messages: Pugs, Camille, Aunt Holly, Natalie, Auntie Gwen and Ama. I just want to let you know that I really appreciate hearing from you and it means a lot to me.

So just so y'all know, next week is transfers and we don't really know what is going on until next Monday. So I won't be able to email you guys until next Tuesday and if you are planning on sending anything (besides letters) I will let you know if I am staying or going, because that would be stinky if I moved and wouldn't be able to get it for a couple of weeks. We'll see what happens though... kind of nerve racking haha.

I am glad you guys enjoyed the pictures, I was really happy that I was able to send those to you guys. Because I love when I get to see pictures of things going on back home, because I really do feel a part of it and I want you guys to feel the same for what I am doing down here.

Yeah last week when Elder Ageda was here and I took over the area, I was in charge of making the decisions and things like that. That stuff makes me pretty nervous, but doing it is the only way to really get used to it and learn it haha It went well though and I really enjoyed it. I am going on another exchange this week with another Elder, the one that I met in the Temple when I received my endowments. Pretty cool huh? J. is doing a lot better and he is able to walk on his ankle. He really wants to get out of this area and is hoping that the job offer in Utah will work out. I am not sure where it is though. I also love hearing about your missionary experiences. They really make me feel that we are in this together and we have the same purpose. And I have realized that a lot of the time we won't see the results to our efforts, but Heavenly Father has a plan for us and the people that we try to help and everything will work on the Lord's time schedule. I have heard some cool stories where some missionaries gave a Book of Mormon to a rich woman who threw it away as soon as the missionaries left... but her maid picked up the Book of Mormon, read it and had the confirmation that it is true. This woman was later baptized and her family and generations have all been faithful members of the church and one of her descendants is now the President of the Baton Rouge temple. Those missionaries probably didn't even know that they had such an impact and that is why we have to really be an example all the time.

And dad, the service projects are really good to give variety to our weeks. Sometimes things get pretty jumbled together and days just blend into one big routine. It is always nice to get out and do some physical labor. Even though I usually don't really know what I am doing haha. I feel like it is easier to contect with people and it really is something that just comes with time. Just like gaining a relationship with anybody, it takes time and effort and I really feel like I have become friends with some people down here, especially J. We don't just go over there to teach him about the gospel, or because he is a really cool guy, but because we just really enjoy being with him. That has been a pretty cool thing and now I really do want to share the gospel with him, becasue I want the best for him.

I really liked your dream dad, and I will admit it made me kind of emotional too haha. Power Rangers really are a symbol of my childhood and that dream goes pretty deep in meaning. I went into it in my journal a little bit and it really meant a lot to me. That is a part of me that is back home, that I have also taken with me on my mission. I will always be that little violent kid, who showed his love by running at you naked to head butt you in the groin and on my mission I will be able to use that part of me and develop more talents and characteristics in the gospel. So essentially power rangers are my emotional tie back home haha  But like you said, I am so glad that we have such a great connection and communication despite our distance. Although we aren't with each other, I feel like we are close. I am really proud of emma for trying that challenge and it is cool to see Taylor being so successful in his campaign! His jokes are pretty hilarious haha.

[Here is the dream I had about Devin.  I hesitated telling him about it, but thought it wouldn't hurt in the end given its absurd twists:  "I had a poignant dream about you the other night.  I dreamt that I was going through your old toys and I found a two-inch high plastic power ranger doll that could talk.  Somehow I figured out that it was a small piece of you that had stayed behind to keep us company while you were on your mission.  The problem was that it spoke so quietly that you could hardly hear it.  So I kept sticking it up to my ear and trying to shush everyone around me so that I could catch what you were saying.  And then the dream took a frustrating turn:  I misplaced the doll among a giant pile of toys and was frantically searching for it, looking for any sign of movement or sound among the giant pile of brightly colored plastic gadgets.  I would spot the toy and grab for it and then it would sink into the debris.  When I finally found it, I was distressed to see that its head had fallen off and been replaced by a polly pocket’s head.  That ticked me off because now your whispering voice was sounding like a high-pitched little girl.  It was better than nothing, though—and so I carried it around with me from then on an we had some good—though awfully quiet—conversations."  Kerry--Elder Soper's dad]

Man, I love hearing from you guys and I love YOU guys! I will tell a little bit about what happened this week.

So our mission has a goal for each companionship to teach 20 lessons per week and that is a goal that really stretches us. We have been trying hard to reach that, but it just seemed pretty hard to get to. This week though in District meeting they talked a lot about having the right attitude they shared that story about Pres. Monson when he was a mission president changing the missionaries attitude about an area (Kingston) and it turned from the least successful area to the most successful. We decided to really focus on attitude to make this the best days and week of our mission. And one of the days this week we taught 5 lessons, compared to the average of 2 we usually have. That was super cool and we began to see the goal in our reach. The coolest thing though, is that we really tried to forget about numbers, when we weren't in a lesson we thought about reaching our goal and it motivated us to be proactive, but in the lesson we really tried to focus on the people. I can see that the purpose behind this goal is to help as many people as we can, and I was able to see that. We ended up getting 18 lessons this week and although we didn't reach 20, we felt so accomplished and we were able to meet with a lot of people and use our time efficiently. One of those lessons was a scripture study class that we started up and we had 4 people show up this week, but we had an awesome discussion about adversity and the Branch Pres brought a non-member friend with him. It could be a really cool opportunity to teach her and find others interested in the Gospel.

We received a media referral this week from Church headquarters and that is when somebody goes on and requests a visit from the missionaries. The boy's name is J. S. and we were able to meet him which is awesome. He is 13 years old and really involved in his church. We introduced the Book of Mormon and just got to know him a little bit, he loves to collect Hot Wheels, especially Camaros. We asked him why he wanted to meet with us and he told us that his pastor asked him to essentially do a report on the Mormons, to see what we are all about. We are going back to see him on Wednesday and we are going to help him out with his report by teaching him the Restoration and let him know what we are all about. We are also going to invite him to our scripture study class and show him around the church. It is a pretty cool opportunity to share the gospel and make a new friend.

L. is really progressing and loves reading the Book of Mormon with us, R. still wants to come to church, but is having a hard time getting up, Leonce is doing awesome and loves his new scriptures. He has been taking notes in our lessons and his desire to understand is being fulfilled! It is cool to see his progression and he really loves the scriptures even though sometimes he gets pretty confused. I just want to end with a funny story about K. This isn't to make fun at him at all, but show his good perspective and attitude towards life. So we were visiting him and when we were about to go I asked him about this piece of work out equipment that he had called the "Ab Rocket." He looked at me and he said "I'll show ya" So Jeff a couple years back got hit in the head and was paralyzed and was in a nursing home for a few years. His left leg is still paralyzed and the swelling that was in his brain has made him a little bit slower. But despite all of that, he still walks, rides his bike and loves life and Christ. He loves our savior so much and attributes everything to him. He isn't a member, but is involved very much in is church and loves meeting with us to talk about the scriptures. But he got up and got into the "ab Rocket" and proceeded to do and explain his work out to us. Essentially what it does is you lay down and you sit up, like an opposite sit up. He really just went straight into his work out while talking to us and so we started to chuckle a little bit, because it was just a funny situation. We had to go visit a few people so we invited him to say the prayer, thinking he would pause for a second to close the visit... but he went straight into the prayer while still doing his work out haha. We almost lost it at this point, but it just showed me how dedicated and close he feels to the Lord. I really like Jeff and he is an example to me that life and the religion are really interconnected. Hopefully you guys enjoyed that story haha.

But to finish I want to give a quote by David O. Mckay that is a good description of our home: "I know that a home in which unity, mutual helpfulness, and love abide is just a bit of heaven on earth." And that is true! I want my family when I grow up to be just like ours. I love you guys

Prayers and thought always,


Elder Soper

Monday, March 18, 2013

I am very grateful that we bought a lot of short sleeve shirts...


This has been one busy week and it sounds to me that your week was super busy as well. Things are going pretty good and I am starting to feel more in the swing of things lately. 

Mom, I am glad the play is over and although you are still picking up the pieces (figuratively speaking) of the play, that you are able to relax a little more and get back into everyday routine. It is so true about family dinners though.  I have realized while I am out here that some of my best memories our of family dinners. I think there, more than anywhere else, we really became unified as a family. Unity is really where perfection lies and I am so grateful that I was able to grow up in a family and have parents that were completely unified. It is so cool!  John 17: 21-- That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. When we are unified, we are unified with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And that makes it so our "hearts cknit together in unity and in love one towards another." Mosiah 18:21. This is all from the Unity section in True to the Faith.  But I just feel really blessed to have a family like ours.

So Elder Gentry and I are now the Aaronic Priest Leaders and we have to teach the lessons from the new curriculum... So maybe some tips, anyone?

Well I will tell you guys a little about my week:

It has been getting progressively hotter down here and I am very grateful that we bought a lot of short sleeve shirts. This last Monday we took a trip up to the State Capitol building in Baton Rouge and I will try to send some pictures of that, because it was pretty cool. I was able to borrow a missionaries guitar this week so I could practice some for that thing coming up this Wednesday and that has been awesome. I have been trying to pick out hymns from my mini hymn book that I will be able to play and it has been a good stress reliever for me. I think I will start looking for a guitar and I will try like you said to find a really modest one that will work for my mission. I won't be too hasty though.

We had exchanges again this week and this time I took over the area for a couple days. I was a little bit nervous at first, but everything worked out really well. I was with Elder Ageda again and the first day we went up to Port Allen and saw R. and L. One cool thing about that, I invited L. to be baptized and he said he wants to do it soon! He doesn't feel like baptism is necessary right now, he feels like it is just a way to show your loyalty to a church. But I think he is beginning to realize the importance of baptism. He already considers himself a Mormon though, he always calls it "my chruch." It is cool to see him progressing so much.

Brother J. got jumped two Saturdays ago and the people gave him a pretty bad black eye and stomped on his ankle. I was able to give him a blessing last week and he has been in really good spirits the last couple times we have seen him. He got a job offer in Utah and when he hears more about it, he will probably take it. It would be sad to see him go, but it would be so good fro him to get out of the situation he is in.

Brother K. has been doing really good and has called us a couple times just to wish us a good day. It makes you feel so good when you get one of those calls. And he has only been a member less than a year and he seems like he has been in the church all his life. He always talks about how the Church is the most dynamic thing in his life. He is so enthusiastic about the Gospel and you can just tell that he loves it.

We gave M. a large print Book of Mormon and it was like Christmas for him. He couldn't stop smiling and thanking us the whole lesson. He kept saying "I just gotta thank you, cause now  I can read!" He also got a new cell phone and he gets super frustrated because when the alarm goes off he thinks someone is calling him and nobody will talk haha. I was able to turn the alarm off though.

One interesting that happened this week though. We got a call from a less-active member that we have never met and she wanted us to give a blessing to this woman. When we got to her house it turns out she wanted us to bless this "cancer tea." We ended up giving the woman, who had cancer, a blessing and said a prayer over the tea. But her son and his girlfriend were super grateful and started asking us about the church. They want us to come over again and maybe come to our church. Exciting! Even through it seemed like a really weird situation at first, it was where the Lord wanted us to be.

I have learned, like you said mom, that I do beat myself up a lot about stuff. Sometimes I don't even realize that I do it, but it just happens and it weighs on me. But Haley was telling me how we really can lose ourselves in the service of others and that is so true. When we forget about ourselves, the Lord is able to work through us and help us become what we need to be. I am still not perfect in this and I know it will be something that I will need to work on throughout my mission and my life. But I was able to experience it a little bit this week.

I love you guys so much and this is about my three month mark. I saw that The Hobbit is already coming out on DVD and that baffled my brain.  But your guys support is what keeps me going!

Prayers and thoughts always :)


Elder Soper

Monday, March 11, 2013

We can choose to be bitter or better...

Hey fambly,

I hope that I can get everything in that I want this week haha. I want to let you guys know everything that happens all the time, but that is near impossible with these emails. But I will try my best to make it a fun experience to read my emails like your guy's are.

So here is some news, they changed the email policy. I can email anybody from back home. So if anybody wants to write me feel free to do so. But one disclaimer, I don't have a lot of time to email on P-days and family is first priority, so it might take me awhile to get back to you and if I do it will probably be pretty short, haha, I will do my best and I just want everybody to know that has written me, that I have gotten you letters and I appreciate the support a lot. So recap from that crazy sentence, anybody can email, majority of all my email time I will give to  my family, but I will love to hear from you.  (Elder Soper's email address:

So I will include a few cool and funny things that happened this week:

-This last p-day I got to play this one missionary's guitar and that was a lot of fun. Kinda sad, because I have forgotten how to play a lot of stuff. But I might need to be getting a guitar soon. This lady called us the other day, she was a former investigator and she said she knew that we are trying to get the word out. She invited us to this weekly talent night in Donaldsonville which she is in charge of. She wants us to bring Book of Mormon's and introduce us to a bunch of people. She said we could make this a regular thing and that we could do stuff for talents if we wanted to. Hymns on the guitar maybe? We'll see what happens, I will keep you posted. Pretty cool though!


-We went to a BBQ at Bro. C's and on the way back Elder Gentry almost had an accident if you know what I mean. He was on the edge of his seat with the most worried look on his face. Haha it was so funny and I felt bad because I could not stop laughing. He was trying so hard to keep composed and keep everything in. You might want to take that out haha.

- We picked lemons for this lady and it turns out that lemons have massive thorns on them...who knew? But that was hard and fun. We picked probably 15 boxes of lemons and were there for about 3 hours. We took some of the lemons to the nursing homes around town and on e of the workers asked us for a Book of Mormon and gave us her address! It was cool to see how service helped us find a potential investigator.


- The key to a good companionship is being open, humble and be willing to listen. It is probably true with any relationship. But I am finding this out first hand with Elder Gentry and although we are very different people, we are able to find common ground in the Gospel. We are becoming really good friends. When you spend so long with someone, you find things that bug you of course, but you also find things that you really respect about them as well.

- I didn't realize how much I beat myself about things and had a lot of built up insecurities. But I am trying to live by doing my best today so you can do a little bit better tomorrow. I am running out of time which stinks really bad, but maybe I will go into this more next time.

- We did this massive service project this last week and that was a lot of fun.

- One relatively new member says lamanites like Lam-na-tees.  Fun.

- And when we go through hard things, we can choose to be bitter or better. I like that alot.

Sorry I wish i could write more and I if you ever want me to include something more just let me know. Your letters are awesome though!

I love you guys so much. It is unfathomable how much. I know some pretty big words haha. I love you guys!


Elder Soper

Monday, March 4, 2013

A lot of folks see us as "Church People"...

Hello Hello,

Although things are generally going better for me recently, I've still struggled at times with feeling completely incompetent and unqualified.  I was comforted, however, by this quote by Elder Bednar: "The enabling power of the Atonement strengthens us to do good and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity." That is pretty cool. It is our choice to rely on the Atonement and if we do, we will be blessed immensely. We have to choose to be happy and like Helaman 5:12 says, we have to build our foundation on Christ. And if we do, we cannot fall.

 Christian Wawro

I will include my advice to Christian [Elder Soper's high school friend who is leaving for Denmark in about a month] right now about a mission].  (These are things people have said to me and things I have learned that I am compiling into one mega saying haha, so I can't take all the credit.):

"A mission, done right, is the hardest thing you will ever do. But through it, Heavenly Father and our Savior will refine and temper us, making us stronger and more reliable. He tests our faith and hope, but builds our charity for those around us. We will be blessed, those around us will be blessed, and our families will be blessed. It's not going to be easy, but if you trust in the Lord, and do your best, he will do the rest."

Pretty catchy eh? the last part is actually a quote from Elder Wirthlin. But I wish Christian the best and I will be praying for him. He is going to be such an awesome missionary!

To end I will share some cool experiences that I have had:

- L [an investigator] in Sunday school last week talked about how he received an answer to a prayer. Once he started talking the spirit just filled the room. He started crying and talked about how much it meant to him that Bro C has reached out to him, no matter how unconventional he is. It was really powerful and ever since then he has been super friendly and excited about the gospel! This last Sunday he bore his testimony of the Gospel in testimony meeting. It was so awesome and reminded me of the work that we are doing as missionaries. This is the Lord's work.

-We hadn't seen another investigator, E, in a while and when we went to teach him, and he forgot almost all of the basics of the Gospel haha. He kept getting really confused at simple things like, there were people on the earth before Jesus Christ. That is okay though, because we will just see him more now.

-We had a really good lesson with W and D, two other investigators. We taught them the Restoration and before hand I just said a little prayer in my heart that things would go well and they did! Heavenly Father does answer even the littlest of prayers. At the end they asked us to talk a little bit about baptism next time. A lot of folks see us as "Church People" and so they come to us with religious question. But it is a good opening to talk about baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. Woot Woot.

- I have been super tired lately from being stressed out, but I bought a soccer ball and that has helped relieve some tension.

- Testimony meeting was awesome and one of the most spiritual that I have been to.

- There is an autistic man that comes to our same library, his name is M. He asked me to pray for his mom in the middle of the library, he grabbed my hands and I began to pray quietly. Once I finished, he began to pray and he started getting really really into it. I thought he was going to start yelling and praising Jesus in the middle of the Library. I loved it and I hope that he is doing better after that. Haha sometimes I can't believe this stuff happens.

- We found a less active member this week because we went to see E and he wasn't there. This woman was sitting outside and began talking to us and it turns out it was the woman that the branch pres has been looking for. Miracles happen all the time.

-J is doing a lot better and he has been able to talk to his son that he hasn't talked to or seen in years.

It is easy to get down when things get hard, but they are hard for a reason and we have to just react to them the right way. I will admit I haven't reacted the right way everytime since I have been out here, but I am trying and learning. Missions are tough, but they do make you better. I feel better.  I am finding humor in a lot of things these days and I can't wait for your next letter.

I love you guys so much!

Elder Soper