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

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