Well this has been a crazy week and I am still in a little shock haha. So I am in Thibodaux Louisiana right now, pretty south and pretty cajun. It has actually been really awesome so far despite the insane situation. Oh without further ado... here is my new address 1017 President St. Apt C. Thibodaux, LA 70301. I can't wait to get some of your letters! So here is what happened. Me and my companion, Elder Stratford, got double transfered into the area and our time in the mission together doesn't even add up to a year. I have been out 5 months and he has been out 6 haha. So neither of us know the area and by the sounds of it, work has been pretty slow here for about the last year. The bishopric changed about three weeks ago after years and years of the same Bishop. President Wall said that he thought that me and Elder Stratford would be a perfect with this new Bishop and that is why he did what he did.
So the first day we got down here we called the Bishop and asked if we could meet him. By some sort of miracle we were able to find the church ( we just have maps and word of mouth directions haha maybe soon I will invest in a GPS) and we were able to receive some assignments. So his name is Bishop Justin Anderson and he was born and raised in Orem Ut and went to Orem High... What? I know... He played football for BYU I am pretty sure and his Brother is in our Stake and is the Head football coach at Orem High. Funny too, is that Coach Anderson was my track coach for a little while, small world. Yesterday at Church whenever I would introduce myself and say that I was from Orem Bishop Anderson and one of his Brother in laws, Brady Bybee (who is also from Orem), would get huge smiles on their faces and pump their fists in the air and then Bishop would say "I knew there was something special about this guy" haha it made me feel pretty good and Bishop and I even did the pound your chest peace to each other. He is actually a really young guy in his 30's and he is a football coach at Nicholl State University here in Thibodaux. The ward is really nice, welcomed us in and made us feel really loved. They are more than willing to help us and they are really fired up about kicking the ward into high gear. Bishop has really caught people on fire and is ready to make this an awesome ward. There was about 120 people there or so and a large portion of the ward is made up by two familes: The stocks and the Voisan's. Bishop is married to a Stock, One of his councelors is a Stock, The Elder's Quorum Pres is married to a Stock and THE Stocks live in the ward. He is actually the Stake Pres. The Voisan's are awesome too. Sis Voisan is the Relief Society Pres and her husband passed away a few months ago at 59 from a heart attack. Alot of her kids live in the ward as well and we had the opportunity to teach them an FHE lesson and have an activity with all of them last night. Her husband owned a huge oyster and clam company and was pretty wealthy. We also got to hear Sis Voisan's conversion story and it was pretty amazing, I will have to tell you about it next week. But she is an amazing lady. There really are a lot of cool people in this ward and I am excited to tell you more about them as I get to know them better.
We have had lots of opportunities to do service this week... a lot haha but it has been awesome. We have been volunteering at the Salvation Army store which is a lot like Savers, helping them organize, fill the dumpster and just help them sort through the massive amount of donations they get each day. There is a lot of work to be done there, but we are making really good friends with them and it is a blast to help serve there. They also have some pretty scary suits and dresses there, it is awesome haha. This saturday we also helped paint the bathrooms at Nicholl state university with the Ward. That was an awesome opportunity to meet a lot of ward members, serve the community and get specks of paint all over your body. One of the members told me that I had a painter's hand, Thank you mom and Dad! I am glad that I was able to make the dirty, stinky, rusted, mildewy, mosquito-infested bathrooms look like a gray and red impressionistic painting. It took some work, but I think it came out nicely. This morning too, we were able to help a woman named s., paint her windows on her little self owned and opperated bakery outside her house. She is a potential investigator from the previous Elders and her bakery is named La Petite. We have been walking around a lot this week, just trying to figure out the lay of the land and we have been able to talk to a lot of people. We played basketball with a couple kids on the street, we gave out some pass- along cards and we asked for a lot of directions haha. We are finding our feet here and it definietly helps to have support from the ward, Heavenly Father and you guys. I could really feel your prayers each day and they helped me to stay comforted happy and at peace. I knew that you guys were praying for me and I felt really close to you guys, I knew that you guys were thinking of me and I was thinking of you. It really kept me going this week and to tell you the truth I can't believe I have made it through this with my head above water so far haha. I know that I have been being strengthened eachday by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Couldn't do it without them.
Well I have to get off pretty soon, but I love you guys so much and thank you for your prayers. I really needed them this week. But I am happy, I have a good companion, the ward is awesome, Thibodaux is a good place right on the bayou and things are going good. Thank you so much for your support and I can't wait to here from you!
Thoughts and Prayers Always :)
Elder Devin Soper
Ps here is my Pres Letter
Dear President Wall,
Well these first couple days have been a whirlwind of trying to figure out exactly what is going on. Luckily Elder Robles knows the area pretty well and because we met with Bishop Anderson our first day, we sort of have a view of what we need to be doing. I feel grateful that I have a companion that is very calm and collected among all the craziness and it has helped me keep my head above water. We have jumped right in and have hit the ground running, litterally, with talking to everyone we see, having lots of service opportunities and learning the lay of the land. We really have been working as hard as we can and the Lord is definitely blessing us. I have seen so many little miracles everyday from finding people, finding locations without a GPS (using the old fashioned map) and being able to be happy. We have definitely been trying to use our planning session effectively and setting up a lot of appointments and it has payed off. The ward is so great here and more than willing to help us. I love Bishop Anderson already and really admire and look up to him for his determination and drive to push the work of the Lord forward in the Thibodoux Ward. It has been awesome.
I have learned a lot in my study of the Book of Mormon lately. Ether Chapter 12 is famous for the scriptures about weakness and I really wanted to understand exactly how it works so I can use it for mine! What I have found is that our weakness allows us and gives us the ability to rely on Christ for help. In 2 cor 12:9 paul says that he " [glories] in his infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon him." Our weakness is given to us that we may be made strong through the Atonement of Christ. It comes down to the enabling power of the Atonement and how it can make us better than our natural capacity. I really want to be able to do that and rely upon and use the strength of Christ that is so readily available to us. I know that it will make me a better companion, teacher, friend, example, missionary, son and future husband. Also I have been focusing a lot on the word "determination" and how in Moroni 6 it talks about how the people had to have a determination to serve Christ until the end. Also in 2 Nephi 1: 21 where it talks about how they need to be determined to live in unity. I looked up the word determine and it means "to render a decision, to reach a conclusion after study and consideration." I then looked at the next word, determination " resolved, steadfast in purpose." These definitions reminded me of the talk by Pres. Eyring where he talks about how we must choose this day, that we need to make our decision now. I am going to begin to ask myself if I am determined to do things. Am I determined to make this personal study the best one yet, Am I determined to talk to everyone I see, Am I determined to be happy. I need to make those decisions now and be steadfast in that purpose. I believe that will help me help others.
Thank you for this opportunity to grow President and we will do our best to help the work here in Thibodaux.