This has been a crazy, busy week, but it has also been really awesome and a ton of fun. But first here is my President's letter:
"I don't want my letters to sound too repetitive, but things are going good here and Elder Stratford and I are getting into a good groove. We are learning more of how we each work as missionaries and finding that common ground that leads to great unity. I think that has come from really focusing on the little things each day. We are trying to find ways that we can be more obedient, more diligent to be ultimately guided by the spirit. It is definitely working, because we have seen miracles everyday. Sometimes we really just have those slow days, but a cool little thing will happen that makes it all worth it. And then other days the work just explodes and we are having a hard time fitting everything into our schedule. Planning has become critical and we are trying to take the time each night to really focus on it. I am loving working in this ward and in this area. I can feel myself growing more and learning to become the missionary that the Lord needs me to be. It is pretty cool. It has been a stressful couple weeks, but I am always reminded of that line in the poem that you wrote me that says "Bending not breaking is the strengthening goal." I am being bended and Heavenly Father, my family and Elder Stratford are helping me not to break. And so I am growing.
This week in my Book of Mormon reading I have been getting to know Nephi a little better. I really like the scripture where he talks about he was led by the spirit not knowing beforehand what he should do. It just makes me think of the preparation that he needed to have so he could have such direct guidance of the spirit. He needed to be living his life right. It makes me think of the quote that you told us that as long as you are on the path, you are where you need to be. Nephi was on the right path and that is when the Lord was able to help him get to where he needed to go."
So this next Sunday, I have to give a talk and I think I have decided that I want to speak on, being on the right path, or being pointed in the right direction. I was pretty confused at what I wanted to speak about this morning, but when I read your testimony dad I was like "woot woot for answers to prayers!" That is something that has been on my mind and what you wrote put it in a better perspective. So thank you for sending that and is it alright if I use a little bit from it in my talk? I really like that concept of being on the right path and that perfection isn't a destination, but it is a direction. Pretty cool how that works.
So to answer a few of your questions from the letters, yeah these last couple weeks have been stressful. It was kind of a lot when you have to get used to a new area, a new companion and then your companion is doing the exact same thing. It results in some interesting dynamics and like you said dad, some confusion of who makes the final decisions. That is really cool how much our missions are lining up. So if I keep going on the same path you did, I will probably be training a lot pretty soon haha. It does make this whole journey feel more manageable, because I know that you went through a lot of the same things and I can draw on the example that you and mom have given me. That gives me a lot of strength. But things are kind of smoothing out and Heavenly Father definitely blesses you for working hard. So even though it has been pretty stressful, I have really loved it. Like that line in the Pres wall Poem "Bending not breaking is the strengthening goal" and I definitely am feeling the growth and I feel like Heavenly Father is making me a better person, I really feel like he is making me more like you guys. And because of that I think I am becoming a happier person. It is crazy because I am trying my best to help all of those around me and in turn I am gaining a lot. I hope it sounds alright in writing haha not like I am focusing too much on myself. But they have told us that the people here ending up blessing you more than you bless them, that is true.
Also mom, with Y. and those guys, Elder Davidson and I invited them earlier that week and they ended up coming on their own. They didn't come yesterday, but Elder Davidson told me that he saw them earlier that week and they told them to come over anytime, they were also curious if the church had any other activities during the week. That is super cool that they are so interested. So this last week we were able to go out with members a lot and that was awesome. I am excited when I get home that I will be able to help the missionaries out. It helps so much and the testimonies that they bring really bring the spirit into peoples lives. They know the area better and they can connect with the people on a really personal level. We went out with Brother Bybee, a guy named L. and R. L. is 23 and a recent convert. He was baptized about a year ago and is preparing to go on a mission. He is super energetic and excited to go on a mission. We took him to a lesson with a less active member who just a week before said she liked smoking too much to quit. We had invited her to pray and read the book of Mormon each day and the next time that we saw her she had made a complete 180. She is living in a trailer, she has COPD, and she hasn't really been doing anything for the last 7 months. When we saw her the other day, she was full of energy, she had started cleaning her trailer, she is going back to work and overall she just looked so much happier. She even told us that she has cut down on cigarettes by about 4 or 5 a day. That is something! She told us she has been taking the time to pray and read to Book of Mormon more and she said that has really motivated her. That is so cool to see the strengthening power that the gospel has.
One thing the Bishop has asked us to do is Fanlee hone eennings [family home evenings] and this last week we did one with his family and then also the rest of his extended family haha. There was about 20 people there and we had 2 members of the bishopric, the elders quorum president and the Stake President all watching. It was crazy, but it went well. We also had specialized training with Pres Wall this week and we got to watch Johnny Appleseed haha the first Disney movie I have seen on my mission. It had some really cool parallels with Missionary Work and planting the seeds of the gospel. I am slowly running out of time on the computer clock... But this last week has been really cool, becasue I have been able to use the guitar in a lot of lessons that we are teaching. So we have an investigator and her name is Shaina, she is 16 years old and is friends with E. a girl in the ward. We have been teaching her at the dikets home and she is super prepared to be baptized, the only thing is her mom won't let her. Another thing is she is leaving to live with her dad for a month and so we decided to come up with a lesson about the spirit and show her how that can help her while she is gone. Elder Stratford had the great idea of borrowing a guitar, and using a song he wrote, play music for people to invite the spirit into their life. So that is what we did! We have been able to play that song at least 20 times in the last few days and has opened a lot of doors from investigators to Less active members. It has been a really cool way to share the gospel and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father is helping me and Elder Stratford use our talents in our missionary work. I have loved it!
Well I better get going, but I love you guys so much. Have a great week and I can't wait to hear from you.
Thoughts and prayers always,
Elder Devin Soper