Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So this has been a whirlwind of a week...

Good Afternoon,

So this has been a whirlwind of a week. But first I want to thank you for the letters. And I will let you know if they become to silly or crazy...but I don't think that will happen. I mean I am the same Devin...Elder Soper, but the Lord is helping me to become better. I have the wonderful opportunity to tell you about my everyday life and things that happen to me during the week every time I email, and I think that it is only fair that you guys would be able to do the same. The most uplifting things that you could write to me are the fun things that happen to you during the week. I am learning a lot on my mission to not take life too seriously. There is a quote that I read somewhere that says something to the effect of, "I am convinced that our Heavenly Father is a kind, good-natured, warm, friendly and happy being, because I am kind, good-natured, warm, friendly and happy when I have his Spirit." I am also convinced that our Heavenly Father is a very happy person and I am the happiest when I have his spirit. Life is meant to be enjoyed and I believe that happens best when we learn to laugh. Elder Wirthlin in his Come What may and Love it talk says one of the most important things we can do in this life is learn to laugh. He says it will bless your life and it will bless the lives of those around you. So to sum this whole little rant up, your letters are some of the most uplifting things that I receive because they make me laugh. I really enjoy hearing about your everything that happens to you and hearing about the things that you love: soccer, painting, school etc... Anyways I like your letters and I love you guys haha. 

That is so cool to hear about your missionary efforts back home! What you guys have done reminds of a couple of those stories in the Power of Everyday Missionaries. He shares stories about a few wards that gathered in people like crazy and the thing they all had in common was people felt loved when they went there. I'll bet those investigators have felt so loved and welcomed by you guys and that will make the gospel so much sweeter for them. Also think of how happy you will be to talk to them in the after life. I can just imagine them coming up to you and saying," Thank you so much for being my friend, and being there right by my side. I am so happy that we could come closer to our Savior together." Haha it might not be exactly those words, but something to that effect. Anyways you are doing exactly what President Hinckley said every new member needs. They need a friend (Check), They need a responsibility (haven't heard about that yet) and they need to be nourished by the good word of God (check...meeting with the missionaries and going to church!). Yeah I can imagine that it is hard to schedule with the missionaries and I always feel sheepish when I have to cancel appointments with people. Usually we don't have to do that too often. I hope everything keeps going well. 

I also wanted to say how excited I was for Emma and Taylor with their soccer teams. It sounds like they are both doing really well in their leagues. It was fun to see the pictures of Emma and Taylor wearing their soccer uniforms and warming up for the game. Emma looks really athletic and a lot taller than I remember her being.  And is next season Taylor's last season for soccer? Wow... that is crazy haha. Man I can't believe that Jordan can run 45 miles... I can hardly run down the street right now. But I can bike 20 miles in the blistering heat haha. Nevertheless, that is really impressed that he is able to do that and I am looking forward to having some good honey when I get back.

But I guess back to this week, The exchange went really well with Elder Herbert. I felt really happy while I was down there and I had a good time getting to know elder Herbert better. Like I said he is a really good missionary. We taught a couple lessons in Spanish and I actually really enjoyed them. I wasn't able to understand hardly any of it, but I read a couple scriptures and spanish, rolling my r's as best I could. We met with a man named B. and he agreed to be baptized, which was really cool. We were also able to volunteer at a Catholic run food bank and that was a lot of fun. That was my third time going there and so I have gotten to know a couple of the volunteers well. Elder Herbert really knew what he was doing there and helped me understand my purpose. It was cool to see how many people were so grateful for the help when they received the food. It feels good to help people out.  

Once I got back to Thibodaux we went over to a member's house house because he wanted to make us lunch. This member is a big guy in his 30's that was baptized a few years ago. For the past couple weeks he has made a valiant effort to come back to church and do what is right. He is really on fire right now and is living the gospel as best he can. He wants us to help him prepare for the priesthood and wants to go out with us to see people too. We decided to go over the Restoration with him and went about half away through before it was time to eat. The lesson went really well and it was a good refresher for all of us. He made us tons of Red beans and rice and then some fried chicken as well. He kept telling us that it was real "Soul Food" and it was real good. Probably not to good for ya, but tasty nonetheless. Later that day we dropped by S's and she drew a really cool picture, I am still trying to decide if I want to tell you about it. Because I might send it home to Emma for her birthday so she can take care of it for me... Haha I will tell you anyways, she drew a picture of all of us as Adventure Time characters and put in a ton of fun memories and little inside jokes. It meant a lot to me and I think it is a pretty cool picture too. 

We have been going to see Bro P. alot this week since his wife left him and he has been pretty down in the dumps. We have taken him out to some people with us and that has been really good because they are extending a hand of fellowship to him. We went to see Bro T. with him and they really clicked. Bro T. gave his first blessing to Bro P. and then offered for him to come hang out on the weekend. Bro T. has also taken another fellow under his wing a little bit and is acting as a good father figure for him. Bottom line, Bro T. is awesome. 

Haha so you guys might think this is funny. Elder Stratford and I were heading back to Thibodaux from the exchange and we were both pretty hungry. We remembered that somebody recommended we did it. It has a good old-timey feel to it and also feels a lot like how Jim Gaffigan describes it. The good is really cheap and actually tasted pretty good. I got biscuits with Sausage gravy and it hit the arteries. Just kidding haha...I hope. But it did taste pretty good and it was just a fun experience. 

We had a meeting in New Orleans this week and it went pretty well. The mission is really focusing on us using the basics: Scriptures, Preach My Gospel and Pamphlets. And right now they are putting a big emphasis on Preach My Gospel. I am looking forward to getting to know that book better. After the meeting though, we were trying to get home... this was the first time we had gone to New Orleans without someone that knew their way. So inevitably we took a wrong turn. We thought it would be no big deal... it turned out there was a 6 car pile up later down the road and the 4 lanes of traffic turned into a parking lot. We ended up spending and hour just going half a mile. It was fun, kinda haha but we were going a little stir crazy. New Orleans is a crazy city. And then we went there yesterday again for Stake priesthood meeting, but that went well because we got a ride, and they knew what they were doing. We were also able to help the Smiths move and I remember you asking about them. They have 4 little kids: Coy their oldest boy is 7, Scarlett is 4, El is 2 and Addy is just a couple weeks old. It was funny, they were renting a 2 bedroom apartment, but the complex made them move to another apartment with 3 bedrooms within the complex because they had 4 kids. They were a little bummed, since it is a hassle, but they were good sports. And with Laurie and Cade, Laurie is actually his mom and was baptized by Brother Bybee when he was here on his mission. Also since I am telling you all the odds and ends of the week, we got to bless and dedicate a school classroom, and my testimony grew a lot on the power of the priesthood. And you are right mom, the priesthood has so much power because it is selfless.

I think I will end with a little excerpt from my president letter:

I was reading in Alma 26 the other day and Ammon is reminding his Brothers of the amazing miracles that they saw, but also of the trials that they over came. Ammon says in verse 20:

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.

What really stuck out to me was the phrase: " bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you SUCCESS." I have always looked up to these men as amazing missionaries. They seem to go about the land loving, serving and teaching all they see and inviting all to come unto Christ. They were also able to see the fruits of their labor in a very tangible and immense way. But that word, success, means a lot more than just baptizing, the Lord promised them more than just being able to see many enter the waters of Baptism. That is an amazing thing and I don't want to dumb down that at all, but I also believe they became successful in the way that Preach My Gospel explains it. The Lord promised them that as they are patient and diligent, they would:
•Feel the Spirit testify to people through them.
•Love people and desire their salvation.
•Obey with exactness.
•Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.
•Develop Christlike attributes.
•Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring souls to Christ, and seek earnestly to learn and improve.
•Help build up the Church (the ward...or city/nation) wherever you are assigned to work.
•Warn people of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments.
•Teach and serve other missionaries.
•Go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.

The sons of Mosiah and Alma became Preach My Gospel missionaries and that promise that the Lord made to them is still applicable to us today. As we bear with patience the refiners fire, we will become successful and acceptable in the eyes of God. That is a pretty amazing promise.

I love you guys a lot.

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

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