Monday, June 17, 2013

I am so grateful to be here in Thibodaux, a satisfying challenge...

Hey Family,

Man, it sounds like it has been a pretty fun week for ya'll! That food sounds really good haha, I am a wee jealous, but I know that after my mission we can go to those places again. Also I am learning about some pretty good places down here as well that I will be able to take you to. Thibodaux definitely has a better selection of restaurants that Plaquemine; there is actually a pretty good mexican one down here which was a nice change of pace. But I am talking to the members a little bit learning about some of the good places down here (a few of them watch diners, drive-ins and dives). But the best food down here, is the home cooked food. People down here really know how to cook...well some of them haha. Oh yeah, have you used that seasoning again? Sorry I forgot to tell you that it is pretty strong and you don't have to use to much for it to really season it. Food is so good! And I am trying to pick up some recipes to that I will be able to make for you guys. But lateley, we haven't had too many out of this world experiences with food, but they are usually pretty solid. SIs. Voisin made this really good gumbo the other day with shredded chicken and sausage. And I haven't gotten your postcards yet, but I am sure that they are coming in the mail. And you don't need to worry if it makes me homesick or not. Somedays I am a little, most days I'm not. I think that is pretty normal. I just always remind myself that I will be able to see you guys again and I only have another year and a half for my mission. The time I have here is limited and so I better make the most of it!

Here is my Presidents letter:
"Well, the transfer is winding down and that is kinda scary. I can't believe how fast it has gone by and now looking back, I can't believe how much has happened in that time and how much I learned. I am so grateful to be here in Thibodaux, a satisfying challenge, and I am very grateful to have a companion that I can rely on. We have been trying our best to work in unity, plan, be diligent and be open-minded to the spirit. Because of that the Lord has really sent blessings our way. There have been those days that just all of our plans fall through, but somehow through refferals, service and working hard our day is full and productive. One day almost all of the people we planned to see fell through, but we were still able to teach 5 or 6 lessons that day--tender mercy! I am really learning to do things and make sacrifices for others and Heavenly Father, not myself. That makes it a lot easier. I am learning a lot, which is code for I am bending and being stretched which is good in the long run. It is hard to imagine doing anything other than missionary work right now, it is a good thing that I enjoy it hah.
This week in the Book of Mormon I have just been amazed at the sacrifices that Nephi has made. He was commanded to kill Laban, retrieve the plates, deal with his brothers, be a leader for his family, provide food, build a boat etc. etc. And all of those things the Lord commanded Nephi to do were pretty hard, but I think Nephi was able to do them because he wasn't doing it for himself. Nephi was committed to the Lord and his family and he was doing it for them. I feel like I can relate to Nephi as I am learning how to do that more and it is helping me to see how he dealt with the challenges. It is funny, because I thought about a lot of this stuff while I was not studying or reading for myself. I guess that shows the priniciple in action. It works! But thank you President and by the way, good talk yesterday, I will remember to keep some M&M's in my backpack for you."

We had stake conference this week and that was fun. A lot of driving back and forth from New Orleans, but it was good to ride with the members and get to know them a little better. We have a really cool young couple in our ward, Hayden and Natalia Cardiff. He plays football at Nicholls and she plays tennis (she used to play professionally in Brazil I think he said). They are really energetic and just super happy. We got a ride home with them on friday and since conference got out at 8, we were probably going to get home late. We stopped by at one of Hayden's friends houses in Metarie (right next to New Orelans) she is a less active member and is part of the Thibodaux ward. She bounces back and forth for work. We talked with her for awhile, got to know her a little bit, addressed some concerns and were at her house until 9:40. That is a little past curfew haha but that is what we needed to do. We were there to support her and that is what she needed. So even though we were out late, we were being obedient to what the Lord needed us to do at that moment. I know that sounds a little like I am justifying it, but we really were trying hard to listen to the spirit and we both felt like what we did was the right thing. We talked with Hayden and his wife about it later and we compared it to Nephi slaying Laban. He had the commandment not to kill, but he was also commanded of the Lord to slay Laban. First and foremost we are obedient to the Lord. That was a good lesson for me to learn in just being open-minded to the spirit. Also that was a miracle in itself, becasue we can now support another less-active member that really needs support. Miracles happen, woot woot. And Hayden bought us beneigts too which are really good.

This week was pretty good, lots of people were gone for early summer vacations, but we still tried our best to see as many people as we could. We taught a FHE at the dikets and we made the Armor of God out of cardboard which was a lot of fun. Oh and mom, Sis. Voisin is the Relief society pres. Sorry I just remembered I wanted to answer your question and my brain is kindof weird haha but you already knew that. We taught an investigator over skype which was pretty cool, shaina. She is at her dad's in Texas for the month, but they pulled her up on skype and we had a quick lesson. Pretty good use of technology I would say. We helped a less-active member put these cabnets together that may have had the worst instructions in the world haha. They made absolutely no sense, the pieces weren't labeled and it was all around hard. But we got to know him better, so it was worth it and it was kind of a fun change of pace. I am a real-worker guy! That is true because we helped out at salvation army somemore this week and we helped a member move this week. 

I can definitely relate to you this week dad with your crazy fall. Which I will admit I kind of chuckled at becuase it reminded me of what I did this week. So we were riding our bikes this week and we had just come out of a members house to fill our water bottles. We were riding down the road and the phone started rining. So in my mind I thought, "I will look at the phone, see who it is and pull over to the side." Well I did the first two pretty good, but the second one not so much. I wasn't going very fast at all, but I only hit the front brakes as I tried to get to the side, becasue the phone was in the other hand. So oddly enough, the bike started folding in on itself and I was going down with it haha. As I was falling I though "oh no, I am going to miss the call." As I hit the ground, I flipped open the phone... but I had already missed the call. And immediately I started laughing, just becasue I could believe what I had just done. Well I was definitely blessed, because my bike really came out with out a scratch, my clothes didn't get dirty or ripped or even look like they touched the ground and really the only thing that happened was I got a scrape on my elbow that is almost healed. I do feel pretty satisfyed though, that I had my first mission bike crash, but I won't do it again. I am fine and I have learned from my mistake.
We met a less-active member this week named B. and he is the epitome of a sweet old man. He is 77, has lung cancer,COPD and emphazema, but right off the bat he was teasing us, joking with us and just being friendly. We got to play chess with him, his favorite game, and give him a blessing. He is really patient with his bitter wife and he loved playing chess. You could tell how much he enjoyed it and it made us feel so good. One funny thing while Elder Stratford was playing, he made a move and B. under his breath muttered the S word. It was just funny to see a sweet old man swear over chess haha.
Last thing I will share is this cool miracle. We were looking for another Less-active member and we were struggling to find her. We had gone to the first address and she wasn't there, they gave us another and she wasn't there. But we asked for directions from this man and we got to talking with him. He had met with Elders a long time ago and he said we could come over again. We went the next day and taught him the restoration and his foundation from the other missionaries made it really simple and easy to help him. He understood and accpeted everything. We also asked him to be baptized and he said yes. We are going to be working with him a lot. I will let you know more details as time goes on, but it has been a really cool miracle so far.
I am glad that you guys are having so much fun and I have loved hearing about your trip. I am looking forward to getting your postcards! I will try too to have a good balance of responding to your stories and telling you the ones that happen here. I love you guys so much!
Prayers and thoughts always
Elder Devin Soper

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