Well I think I might start by including my Presidents letter again this week. Do you guys like reading them? Well haha I will include it anyway:
"This was probably the most exciting and successful week so far on my mission. First of all, we went on exchanges with the South Elders and I really enjoyed being with Elder Navitikula. I want to share a really cool experience that I had with him. We were going to see an investigator who already has quite a bit of trouble understand things in general. We have to be very simple and concise with him or he gets very confused really fast. Elder Navitikula speaks English, but very well for learning it in high school, but he definitely sometimes has a hard time getting his point across, or letting people really know what is on his mind. I will admit I was a little worried how this session with L. would go, because I wanted to include Elder Navitikula as much as I could and still help L. learn a lot. Well I found out a really good lesson while we were with him. We were teaching Leonce about inviting Christ into out lives. Elder Navitikula started explaining it to him and L. just focused in on his words, you could tell he was completely engaged. Once Elder Navi finished speaking, L. said "You bring up a really good point..." and went on to say exactly how he could invite Christ more fully into his life. I learned from this that Elder Navitikula may not speak English as well as he would like, but he speaks the language of the spirit fluently. It was really cool to see and I am grateful that I was able to be there to feel that spirit.
" But we were able to meet the mission goal of teaching 20 lessons this week and we actually surpassed it by 2 lessons. We have learned that the way to do it is to be consistent, you have to try hard and take small steps each day to get to it. We have seen that by being consistent we are able to meet with people more often and help them and us come closer to Christ as we learn to love each other. We have become good friends with many of the members and investigators and I look forward to going over to their places to talk about the Gospel with them. We were also able to pick up 2 new investigators this week and they came to church this Sunday as well. It was pretty cool cause we got to hear the familiar sound of a baby crying during sacrament meeting, reminds me a little of home. But we met with this family and they are very interested and agreed to a date for baptism. I really just love seeing missionary work unfold and see how the Lord puts people in our way that through him, we can help. This really is the Lords work and I am happy and honored to be a part of it. "
Elder Gentry and I are kinda of getting into the groove of things now. It has taken a little while and we both had to learn pretty quick how to adapt and deal with the new situation. And it is hard being the "new guy" and sometimes you feel like you have dropped a couple slots on the totem pole. But I have also learned that the totem pole won't stand unless each slot is filled. So recognition, I am learning, is not something you get on your mission, but I am learning to enjoy just being a support. Something that I have learned from soccer is that the mid-fielders don't get a whole lot of praise from the masses all of the time. They are there to support and create runs for the forwards. But without them, things really wouldn't get done. I really feel like you and me are going through and went through very similar experiences on our missions dad. It is pretty cool to think of you doing these same things.
It has taken a little while to really be able to connect with people on a personal level. Their back grounds and up-bringing was completely different from ours and sometimes it is hard to find that common ground. But a couple things that it has done for me is realize the blessings that I had growing up and the common problems that everyone in the world faces. Everybody has to poop and everybody has problems haha It is through those common problems and through the gospel that I feel I am able to connect with people better. It is tough, but I really do love some of the people down here. Christ knows all of us personally and he can fill the gap in the bridge between people.
I want to tell you a little story that happened to me yesterday. So this last week we picked up a little family and they came to church and we started teaching them. They are somewhat illiterate and for lack of a better word, pretty uneducated. Elder Gentry taught me early on that when teaching the gospel you have to be very simple in your explanations.Oh yeah this is the family that I talked about in my presidents letter (side note that baby crying in the chapel really was a familiar sound and Elder Gentry and I joked that the sound of a mormon church is babies crying and Elderly people snoring). But we were teaching them about priesthood authority and I had an explanation in my head that made pretty good sense. As I began telling them it, my words began to be jumbled, confusing and really incoherent. As I continued speaking I was actually kind of amazed at the non sense that was coming out of my mouth. They looked really confused--as did Elder Gentry and sadly as did I-- and I finished by saying "That didn't make any sense did it?" They looked at me and just shook their heads. I felt pretty discouraged for the rest of the lesson and was embarrassed that I messed up so bad. Afterwards I was thinking about it and just thought, you know I was trying and Heavenly Father respects when you at least try, no matter what. I was able to just laugh at myself with Elder Gentry and was actually able to use that example in a lesson later last night. I guess the trick to life is to not take life too seriously.
Well I better get going pretty soon. But I wanted to say how cool I think that your new scripture study chart is. I think that will really help everybody out. One of my favorite quotes is by Elder Packer and it says "The study of the gospel will change behavior quicker than the study of behavior will change behavior." Studying the Gospel really does help us become better people.
I want to end by saying how grateful I am for growing up in a home with awesome family values. We meet sometimes with the R. family and they are very unusual for people down here. They are based on really solid family values and they aren't members, but they must have read the Family proclomation or something, because they are awesome! I love going over there, because it reminds me of our house. They always have family dinner, they work on homework together and they hang out as a family every night. They are a really cute family. As a missionary you think a lot about how you want your family to be... or at least I have haha. But I want mine to be just like ours. Maybe you and Dad and Haley and Jordan can teach me a class when I get home about having a good family.
I love you guys so much and am looking forward to hearing from you.
Prayers and thoughts always
Elder Devin Soper