Thursday, August 8, 2013

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior...

Dear my Family,

I want to thank everybody (Mom, Dad, Taylor, Emma, Haley, Jordan, Auntie Kare, Ama and Lani) that wrote in those letters to me this last week. It didn't take too long for them to get to me and I enjoyed the many exciting details and experiences that you shared in these last letters and emails. 

Elder Soper, with member Lance Larpenter

This week I am learning that is so much more beneficial if you are patient with yourself and those around you. When things strike a nerve it is best to take a step back and evaluate the situation rather than coming back with a quick comment. It is funny too because when I do take a step back to think about what has upset me, I end up laughing about it and realizing that it was silly in the end. That isn't the case with every situation for sure, but I think watching you guys do the same thing growing up has helped me to understand and apply that principle in my own life. The human mind is a strange thing haha. Also I love this quote by Elder Packer I think it is :

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”

That is really true. And that shows how doing the fundamental and simple things each day to bring us closer to God,  will make us happier.  I told one Elder that I might want to be a Psychiatrist one day and he said..."How are you going to do that with out saying,"just read the Book of Mormon?" Haha I told him I don't know. But I think those things that Emma's therapist is teaching you are some of those little things that you can do each day to bring us closer to God. I have done "Alien Breathing" almsot everyday and it has been a good way for me to meditate, relax and reflect on the blessings I have in my life. Doing that simple exercise has brought me closer to my Savior and helped me personally understand myself better. So thank you so much for telling me about that. It also shows me how Heavenly Father has influenced every good thing in this world, it all comes together in a really cool way.

Oh yeah about transfers, Elder Stratford and I will be together for another one. He is going to be the district leader here in our area as well. I probably need to start warning my companions that they will be with me for awhile and that they will probably become a district leader while with me. That has happened 100 percent of the time while I have been on my mission. That is a pretty crazy statistic haha. But I am looking forward to this transfer and the challenges and learning experiences that are ahead. I have played the supporting role for a good chunk of my mission, but I am grateful for that, because it has given me an opportunity to support my companions and strengthen myself by doing it. So Thibodaux: Round 3.

Yeah I was thinking about buying a fishing license, but for a season pass it would be 65 dollars... which is a lot of mulah for the amount of time I would be able to spend doing it. So I will think about it some more and decide if it would be worth it. I did buy a bionicle type thing and it was actually a really nostalgic and satisfying experience haha. It was nothing like the old ones, but it still brought back a lot of memories and I had a lot of fun doing it. I will buy some stuff here and there for a little while just to make sure that card stays alright, I promise I won't go crazy or anything. I have loved hearing about your fishing stories though. That was actually a really cool rig that Jordan came up with and I can see the benefit ( and also how it would be difficult to cast) of that technique. It makes me excited to be able to do that with you guys when I get back. It sounds like the reunion was really fun as well. That is a crazy story about how Taylor got lost where the river split and had to do that crazy trek to the other side. I imagine it as this really intense movie scene, where he is running through the forest, pushing little branches out of the way, trees zooming past his face, all while hauling this big tube right above his head. Kinda funny, but pretty impressive as well. I am glad that he is okay though. to be continued...

Sorry this has been a crazy day haha and my brain is kind of all over the place. It has been a pretty good week. Things have still been a little bit slow, but we got a new Ward mission leader this week and I think with the summer winding down, a little bit of new leadership and new enthusiasm on our part, things will really begin to pick up. Bishop Anderson has been asking us to go down the Bayou for awhile and we haven't had the resources and haven't been able to go out with members. But this last week as a district we had some extra resources so we all got together and went super south so we could hit everybody on the ward roster down there. With it being huricane season the ward has these forms that familes need to fill out just in case one happens. This is because the church want's to know where these people are going to be and if they need any help. So we tried to get as many as we could when we went down there and we came out with...2 haha. But that was extremely successful because we also found out some valuable information about people moving and wrong addresses that will be good to clean up the records. It was funny though because Elder Stratford and I were going to be on bikes in Cut Off, but there was this huge storm so they dropped us off at the bottom of Galliano where it was clear. We ended up walking the entire length of that town trying to see the people on the way. It is pretty crazy when 95 degree weather with 80 percent humidity feels normal haha. It is crazy because when our apartment gets below 65 it is pretty chilly now. My body is adapting and the Hot hot doesn't seem so hot anymore. But I have also heard it only gets worse from here... We went to a meeting in new Orleans this last week and around 2 it was 104 degrees not including the humidity. After that meeting we went to this cheap pizza buffet that was pretty mediocre haha. I really enjoyed the experience because yeah you can be unified through good experiences, but you almost get closer when you go through the bad. They had these breadsticks that looked like buttery little dog poops, I will have to send you a picture. Looking back, we had a lot of experiences with pizza this week. This member bought us s ton of pizza for us to take home and we went to visit this less-active member that Bro Bybee actually baptized while he was on his mission here. Her name is L. and she is a really nice lady, she is a single mom and struggling a little bit financially. I kept getting this prompting that we had extra pizza and so after we asked her if she had dinner and she hadn't so we decided to give her all that we had. I felt really good after we did that and I felt a confirmation that we followed the spirit. Pretty cool and Lance was planning to take us out for pizza that night too so it worked out perfectly. That pizza place that Lance took us to was pretty good too, but a single pizza was........44 dollars!! It was good haha but really really really expensive and yours was better anyways.

Two young ladies were baptized into our ward this last week and that is actually a really cool stroy. The are from El Salvador and both of their parents are members and their Dad really helped and was loved missionary work. He was a really great man and just a few weeks ago he passed away. His daughters watched his example and saw how much the gospel influenced his life for the better. They made the choice to follow his example and also the example of our Savior and their family has really strengthened and unified the ward. It was really cool to be a part of that experience and it will be something that I remember. B. and E. are both progressing really well towards baptism as well. For about 2 weeks we had a really difficult time getting in touch with them, becuase both of their phones broke and we couldn't find them haha but it has all worked out. We had a lesson with E. last night about the Plan of Salvation and it went really well. He is so prepared, has a desire to come closer to the Savior, and is just a good guy. He really gets it and he always describes what we teach him as an "epiphany" or "deja vu." It reminds me that there are people out there that are ready to hear the gospel and the only thing that keeps them from it, is "that they know not where to find it." Missionary work or the work of Salvation is awesome!
This week I have been reading the story of Abinadi and I have learned a lot from him. First of all he just teaches the basic, the plain and simple truths of the gospel. I also really love this scripture: Mosiah 13:3

3 Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time.

The will of God will always be done and we have the choice if we want to be the instrument that he uses to fulfill his will. Abinadi was clean and obdient to the Lord and in doing so he chose to be the vessel that his work may be done through. God will help you and he will protect you if you try your best to be worthy of his help. 

A couple more things that happened this week:
-The Tabor family is awesome and I am really glad to have met them.
-We went looking for a less active member and a group of young black girls jokingly called us the N word.
- We had like a mini thanksgiving at the Voisin's house.
- And although things have been slow, I feel the Holy Ghost in my life and am so happy to be serving a mission.
Thank you guys so much again for all of your support and the fun letters. I love you guys so much!
Prayers and thoughts always,
Elder Devin Soper

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