Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Family really is everything...

Dear Family,

I think I will start with including my letter to President Wall this week:

"It was really nice this week to get back in the swing of things. We didn't have many meetings and we were able to devote a lot of our time to  the people in our area. We have a few investigators that are progressing really well in the gospel (L., LC., R.). They are all progressing at their own speeds and I am learning that we just need to be patient and enjoy the journey with him. This week we were talking to Roberto about the Book of Mormon and he began talking to us about Apologetics, or the proof of why a religion is true. He said that the only proof he could find for the Mormons was that story about the crickets and the seagulls during the times of the early church. We showed him the Mormon message "Testimony of the Book of Mormon" and that really turned his attitude around. The proof that the church is true isn't in historical facts, but in the testimony of the millions of members, that is pretty cool! I am just grateful that we are able to use the media that the church has put forth, because Elder Holland can talk about the Book of Mormon quite a bit better than we can.

"Elder Gentry and I also both learned that your testimony can really be strengthened through the bearing of it. Elder Gentry had a cool experience on Tuesday when he was able to quench the start of confrontation by bearing his testimony of what he knows is true. And yesterday we were following up on a potential investigator named H., who last month we gave a blessing to his mother with cancer. 3 days ago his mother passed away and he is in a pretty bad place. He said he is searching for that peace and you can tell that he may be ready to receive the peace that the gospel brings. I felt like I could honestly bear testimony to him of the divinity of the Book of Mormon and how much it could help him right now come closer to Christ. It was a really cool experience."

We really have been able to get back into a somewhat normal routine, which has been really nice. And we were able to ride our bikes twice this week, which was awesome! Especially because the weather has been really good. It has been pretty clear somedays and not too hot or humid. I have heard though that pretty soon it is going to be unbearable. Haha I am excited to see. There have also been some crazy rain and thunderstorms too. On Saturday night Elder Gentry and I woke up at about 2 because lightning was lighting up the entire room and the thunder was shaking the building, it was crazy.

I have to say also that I am really grateful for the Gospel in my life and how much happiness and peace that it brings. I think I take that for granted sometimes, because it just seems so much a part of everyday life. But it really is a blessing and I just feel like we are lucky to know that we have a Heavenly Father that loves us, that our Savior loves us and that we can be with our families forever. J. this week told us that the three most important things in this world are: God or the Godhead, our families and our homes. That is so true, because everything we do in the church revolves around those three things. One of the temple's biggest purposes is to seal families together and bring them closer to the Lord. That is pretty cool. Thank you for being such an awesome family and I can't wait to hang out with you guys for eternity!

We have done some pretty fun stuff for P-days though. Yeah we went to that swamp on a P-day with a bunch of other missionaries and usually whenever we go to Baton Rouge for p-day we play sports (basketball, volleyball, sometimes touch rugby haha) at the stake center. But a usual p-day consists of our regular studies, then we come email woot woot and then go to the store, do laundry and clean the apartment. That is usually what every p-day consists of...chores haha But I enjoy it because it breaks up the monotony. Especially because everyday feels the same and time is just starting to fly by. Some days I feel like I wake up and then I am going to sleep.

Hey dad you know how you were talking about your back getting hurt from soccer? I know what you mean when you just kink your back and makes you virtually immobile. Thankfully that hasn't happened to me out here and I am glad that you are feeling better, but that member in our branch J. has problems with the last disc in his spine. He got in a really bad car accident about 9 months ago and really put a number on his back. He has been in constant pain for the last nine months and he said it feels exactly like that achy feeling of being it in the groin. Wouldn't that stink. He said that pain has been there always and sometimes it is even worse. But they finally found out what was wrong with him this week and it took nine months. I am just happy that they can finally go ahead with surgery. Sorry that was a long explanation, but I thought it was cool how you can really empathize with how Jack feels.

That is cool that Christian went into the MTC today and it sounds like it has gotten absolutely crazy. I am grateful for how everything worked out for us with my mission. But I am so happy for Christian and I can just imagine him soaking up the culture and learning the language. Did you know when you learn a language in the MTC now that you have to teach a full lesson in that language on your third day? Good thing I was learning english. But Christian is going to do awesome and is going to be an amazing missionary and loving leader. The Gospel  is just a part of who he is and I really look up to him for that.

That is cool to that you are dedicating one lesson a month the missionary work. I have heard from a couple apostles that the new MTC is in the home and at Church. You are a MTC teacher now mom! I am learning that missionary work is all about love and applying the doctrine of Christ to help others partake of the Atonement. That is why every member is a missionary. I can say that you guys in all of your callings are doing a lot of missionary work. And on you can sign in with your account and have your journal and notes and mark your scriptures all on there, it is pretty cool and if you ever get an iphone I am pretty sure you can transfer it all over.

I am pretty sure that butter and spices are now beginning to run through my veins haha I am just kidding. The food is good down here though and I have found this smoked spicy sausage that is awesome in Jambalaya and in Red beans and rice. Mmm...mmm...

Family really is everything though and those relationships are the things that we will be able to take with us in the next life. We will become perfect as we we become unified as a family. I am so happy that everybody is around though and that extended family home evening sounded like it was awesome. That is so cool about grandpa's mom and speaking of music, we see this guy named D. sometimes and he is a devout Christian man who loves the missionaries, I think I have told you about him. But he let me play his guitar a little bit and it was so awesome. He then played for us a song that he wrote called "One flush away from Hell." He is a pretty funny guy and I felt like I could connect with him through the guitar.

Life as a missionary is a lot like normal life, but you are always going and sometimes I wish I could just go on walk with you guys in a park and play some soccer. So things get hard sometimes and I will say that in the past couple weeks I have felt pretty useless, because Elder Gentry as district leader has jobs and responsibilities that I can't help him with. I wish I could help him, but it is not my place. I have been really humbled so far in this transfer and am learning that it is important to just be a stable and supportive companion. I feel like it is making me more of who the Lord wants me to be and I have come to terms with and am pretty happy in the situation I am in now.

I will end with a cool little story. So last week on P-day Elder Gentry and I just stayed around the apartment and relaxed. We were doing our laundry out back in our regular clothes, t shirts and shorts. And this guy came up to us and asked us what we do all day in our shirts and ties. So we told him a little about what we do and how we go around inviting people to come closer to the savior. He was so baffled when we told him that we don't watch TV or date girls for two years haha So he asked why we decided to come out here. We told him that it was because of the Book of Mormon and the peace and comfort that it brings and that we wanted to share that with others. Simple testimony of the Book of Mormon. He then said "Man, I gotta read this book!" It turns out he is our next door neighbor, his name is Carl and he said he would like to meet with us sometime. Also his friend thought I was about 12 years old haha. I wonder how low I can go? But it was a really cool experience and it just shows me how prayers are answered and that people are praying for missionaries all around the world. Sometimes it is hard, but it is worth it.

I love you guys so much!

Prayers and thoughts alway :),

Elder Soper

PPS. here is a picture of our good friend Johnell Powers 

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