Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So I will tell you a little about my new companion...

First I want to thank you for your fun letters and emails this week. I really enjoyed them and they were just what I needed. And also HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMMA!!!!!!! I hope you had a great day. 

Elder Bennett

So I will tell you a little about my new companion. His name is Elder Bennett, he is from Magna, UT, he plays trombone and was in an acclaimed Jazz band while he was in high school. He just graduated this last year and is 18 years old. It is funny because he is like 6' 1" and weighs 80 pounds more than I do, I guess what I am getting at is that he looks 19 or 20 and he is being trained by someone that looks about 16 haha. Somebody at this last transfer meeting asked me if I had just finished my training with Elder Stratford. Anyways he is super upbeat, enthusiastic, positive, a little irreverent and happy to be a missionary.  He likes the Office, a show called Duck Dynasty, and movies like Tommy Boy and Dumb and Dumber. But he is a good missionary and loves this work already. It has been an interesting transition, since I have become so used to the general flow of missionary life somethings that I used to find strange or had a hard time getting used to have become normal and familiar. Being with Elder Bennett has brought back a lot of memories from when I first came out and my experience as a new missionary. I remember being really scared and unfamiliar with all the meetings,rules and people. I know that the best solution to that is time. It just takes time to get used to it all, I don't really know if their is anything that you can do or say to make it easier or to speed up the process. So I think as a trainer the best thing you can do is be patient, supportive and light-hearted (easy-going and not taking things too seriously) as they learn the ropes. Is that what you found Dad? Also I am trying to find a good balance of having him take the lead or do things and making it not overwhelming. I find that sometimes I dominate the lessons a little bit or sit back too much. It is definitely a different experience, but like you said Dad, there is no better way to learn than having to teach it and be an example. You do feel a pretty big weight on your shoulders and I imagine it is a little like having a kid haha because you have this feeling that you are helping someone become the future of society or the future of the mission. Luckily I have been blessed with a really good companion that likes to work hard and is willing to do whatever is asked of him. I would love some advice though, I want to make this a good experience for him and I want to gather as much information as I can and what better source than the people that I trust the most. But I am excited to be a trainer and I can already feel it helping me as well. It is always good to get back to the basics.

I am glad that Emma liked her present! And I am also glad that you like the music. It is funny because I think a lot of the things that we listen to back home are probably mission appropriate, but I like the distinction between the music on my mission and the music back home. I enjoy this music and it does help me to feel the spirit too. I think it will also help me to appreciate the wholesome music that I will listen to when I get home too (Avett Bros, Tallest man, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Shins, Death Cab etc...). Maybe you guys can make a play list of good music that I need to listen to when I get home. haha that's far but close I guess. Sorry back to Emma, I am glad she had a good birthday. That is cool that she did a mustache themed party, man I wish I had a picture of Bro. Simmons cause he has the best mustache I have ever seen. What kind of things did she get for her birthday? And that is really cool Mom that you made a mustache cake, that is really impressive! I actually really enjoyed your thing about watching the office with Emma. I really think that watching and analyzing shows like that helped me to understand people and the interesting quirks we all have. I bet it is good for Emma.

Also thank you for including that story about Heber C Kimball and also the thing about the Book of Mormon play. I remember that story really well and I can picture in my mind the building that it took place in too. That really was a cool experience to be able to tour the UK and see all of the cool church History sites. You remember finding those pamphlets in that old old church that had a picture of Uncle David in it? guess what? We have the same pamphlets. I didn't realize that it was the standard ones that have his picture in the back haha pretty cool. And also that helped me to understand the play a little bit better too. I have heard a lot of different views on it and I just want to know different sides to it. I have my opinion and I think I most closely agree with you. I don't think it is all bad. Yeah, it is vulgar and profane, but I really don't believe it is an attack or out of disrespect. More than anything I think they respect us a lot and so they felt like they could make a play about us. Thank you for sending that. 

So a little bit more about this week. Actually something really cool happened. So we got another set of missionaries in the ward this transfer so now we have 8. The two new ones are  Elder Sun and Elder Scholes. They are both really great missionaries and are a great addition to the ward. So you know how Aunite Kare translated for a missionary that came to Louisiana? I have been looking for him for my whole mission and have actually gotten myself into some embarrassing situations because of it haha. But when I met Elder Sun he said "Hey, your Aunt translated for me in the MTC." And I was super happy because not only did I meet him, but I get to serve with him as well. He is from Tahiti and this is his 4th area. He is super down to earth and so is his companion Elder Scholes. I am really looking forward to serving with this district, we have some good missionaries down here. 

We have been biking a lot because we are running really low on miles. But that has been way fun because Elder Bennett also likes to bike and so it has become a good time to get out some energy, be outside and talk with each other. And also a cool front came in this weekend so it has been a balmy 80 degress. We have been blessed to to not be rained on...yet. We spent a lot of this week visiting members and the other people that we work with. And I do want to tell you about one miracle that happened. So we were going to try to find this less-active member and when we knocked on his door it wasn't him. We talked with the guy there and he was friendly and said that we could come back sometime. But as we were walking away another guy stopped us and asked if he could talk to us. His name is J., he is 23 years old and he told us that he had just come from his little niece's funeral. He told us he has made some mistakes in his life but he wants to give his life to God. We were able to teach a lesson to him and his fiance and it went well, we mainly focused on prayer because he said he didn't know how to. But we set up and appointment to come back the next day. Elder Bennett was super excited and so was I because it just makes you feel grateful for how the Lord prepares people. We went in the next day with the intention of teaching the Restoration. We started and it was going alright, we were teaching the doctrine well, but it was just going over his head. He doesn't have much back ground in church or religion, so we quickly reigned it in and began focusing on the basic and simple things like how God loves us and how the spirit makes us feel. The lesson took a turn for the better and it turned out to be pretty powerful. It reminded me of what you said in your letter mom about Pres. Monson. How we can have a general plan of what we are going to do either in our day or even a lesson, but we need to be flexibly to the spirit just be easy going about it. Elder Bennett did a a great job adapting to the changing and shifting aspect to lessons and missionary work. It also helped me to realize that I need to start focusing on the simple and precious truths of the Gospel, really pare things down to the essentials. It was a good learning experience and we are looking forward to seeing J. tomorrow. We also had a couple miracles in seeing some less active members in our ward. We were able to meet M.B. and his family, who are really awesome. They are a young, fun and easy-going family, he is a member but his wife is not. His Mom is Sister B. who is a pretty active member in our ward. That whole thing was a good learning experience for me. We rode our bikes over there and I was really hesitant to knock the door because I wasn't sure how he would react. He goes to a catholic church now with his wife and I guess I was just affraid of the unknown. But Elder Bennett was just gung-ho about meeting new people and so we went for it. That turned out to be a major blessing becasue we got to become better friends with an awesome family. 

This was a really good week and I am excited for this transfer. I really liked what you said in your letter this week mom about Magnifying our calling and not ourselves. I am really trying to take that to heart and I want to magnify my calling. I'll share a  scripture and excerpt about that from my presidents letter:

This transfer Elder Billings wants to put a really big focus on Sanctifying and purifying ourselves. I think another good way to explain this is "Magnifying our calling." My Mom said that phrase in a letter to me recently and I think this is exactly what loving, serving and teaching leads us to do. I found a great scripture about this in my study this week to and it is in Helaman 5 verse 35.

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

The sanctification of our hearts or magnifying our calling comes as we "[yield] our hearts unto God." We are purified as our will is swallowed up by the will of the Fathers. As strive everyday to become disciples of Christ, to do what He wants us to do our capacity to do so will increase. I am really excited about this transfer and am looking forward to seeing all the missionaries (myself included) and members of the ward magnify their callings.

Thank you again and I really did feel your prayers and thoughts this week. I know that helped to make it a smooth transition. To end I want to share this cool thing we did in Elder's quorum yesterday. They had us write down a message that we would send to our family if we could only send them 25 words. This is what I came with:

I love you. Our Heavenly Father and Savior Love us. These things will make us happy: Book of Mormon, Prayer, Church, Service, Love and Family.

Prayers and Thoughts Always,

Elder Devin Soper

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