Thank you again for your fun letters, I really enjoyed them and look forward to them every week. And Emma, thank you for your letter! It kinda blew me away how much older you sounded. Haha it kinda freaked me out actually. But to answer your questions: The food is really good, I love it and I am excited to make you guys some genuine cajun food when I get home. There are a couple of girls your age in our ward, a few of them are in that picture of us and the Tabors that I sent a few weeks ago. We are teaching quite a few people right now as well as a bunch of Less-Active members and also Active ones, so we stay pretty busy. My favorite hymn to play on the guitar is probably Nearer my God to thee, because that is the only one that I can play very well on the guitar haha. Thanks again emma and I hope you had a great Birthday.
I have really gained an appreciation for the positive aspects of technology that Heavenly Father utilizes. Like the missionaries in our ward back home, you said that they are using Facebook now? Smartphones/iphones, can be a distraction, but when used correctly and wisely they can be an invaluable tool to increase communication with friends and family and inevitably share the gospel while doing so. I think it would be fun for you guys. Also I know you guys were talking about switching over to roku or apple Tv and I say you should do it. It is just a good way to monitor media and you can still watch netflix and hulu and really get the shows you normally watch. The Pattens do that and I think it is a good idea. Sorry maybe I'm soundind too churchy...but I just am glad that when we were growing up that we didn't have too much influence from the TV, but we used the shows we like to build family relationships by spending time together and playing questions at dinner (about spongebob, the office, Avatar ect...). And I think that is so cool how you guys are doing no media days. Technology can be so good, but at the same time when not used in moderation...it can be pretty bad haha. Thanks for listening to my little media rant. And I really enjoyed your explanation about instagram and "liking' things dad haha. That is really cool though that those missionaries are using Facebook. It is such a good way to spread the gospel and be a positive influence to a wide spread audience. As a mission we haven't been able to use Facebook yet, but while I was with Elder Stratford, Pres. Wall was using us as the guinea pigs to explore and experiment the uses. Except I could never figure out my password haha so I just helped Elder Stratford. But Facebook was crucial as we were helping B. prepare to be baptized and I don't know if we would have been able to pull it off as smoothly without it. I hope that we will be able to use it soon.
I feel really blessed to be companions with Elder Bennett. I don't think I have laughed this much since I have been home with you guys. He has a good sense of humor and we are able to laugh off the little things that go wrong and enjoy the things more fully that go right it. It has been a really fun experience, but I am still looking for a good balance in all that I do. I have noticed at pattern with all the companions that I have had, first of all they are all completely different haha, but when we are first together, I seem to subconsciously try to match their level of enthusiasm or their personality, I guess I am trying to make the transition smoother. But I end up feeling out of sorts and not completely myself. It is not that I am not my self, but one part of my personality will be pulled out of balance and some of it will be suppressed. I feel like I am almost walking the line between (like you said) false modesty and genuine humility and also between sincerity and looking to please. Maybe and probably I am over thinking it haha, but I will keep praying about it and I think the biggest thing will be time.I just always hope that I am aware if I do anything weird or over the top, I am always a little worried that I could be oblivious to some strangeness and insensitivity (that I don't already know about). Thanks for listening, but more than anything I am enjoying the change of pace and having a companion that I am able to joke with and quickly become friends with.
We are working really hard and we are enjoying ourselves while doing it. I have seen so many blessings as we have tried our best to listen to and discern from the spirit what we should do.
On Monday, Sis. Stubbs baked us a ton of cookies to pass out and that is what we did all evening. It is pretty cool to see how much people appreciate a small gesture like a plate of cookies. It opens up doors and cultivates friendships. Service really can be as simple as a smile and treats. Almost everyone we gave them to told us to come back and we got a lot of appointments that way. That wasn't what we were looking for, but I think that is why it happened. Genuine service doesn't have strings attached, but Heavenly Father does bless those involved.
For example, we brought some cookies to a family and they were busy putting their kids to bed that day but they told us to stop by later in the week. We decided to stop by on thursday and they invited us right in. They offered us dinner and dessert and we had this great conversation with them. We were able to get to know them better and really become friends with them. This is the family that we met in June that I felt that I knew, he reminds me of Uncle Dan. But both Elder Bennett and I felt the spirit and a good feeling, like they are our family. They want us to come back and they want to make us some real cajun food. We had to leave their house early because Bishop called us over to the Hospital to give Bill Munson a blessing. He has been sick for awhile and things were going down hill. Despite being very ill and weak Bill was still being really witty and friendly. He told us, "The only way they are keeping me on my toes is if they raise the urinals." haha he was a great guy. Bro Patten was his doctor and Bill passed away later the next day. I really admire Bill and his capacity to enjoy life and be postive amongst numerous trials.
We made these really good honduran tacos, called baleadas, with the district this week. Elder Herbert made homemade tortiallas, which I high recommend making, wtih beans, eggs, avocado and cheese. Simple but good. We also had dinner with the Smiths again this week and I always love going over to their house, it makes me really happy. I just love seeing how much fun they have together as a family, you can tell that they love each others company. There are a few families that I have met on my mission that have impacted my life in a big way and they are one of them. We had a really good visit with J. this week where we read the Book of Mormon with him, to help him understand a little better and then we showed the Restoration video. We prayed that we could teach simply and help him feel and understand from the spirit and that prayer was answered. You could see a new light in his eye, you could feel the difference in his house and you could tell that his desire has grown. It is really exciting and he agreed to be baptized. Elder Bennett was so excited that he was doing fist pumps and cheers, haha. And then last night we had another really cool experience. We were biking home and this guy called out to us asking if we had any pamphlets. We stopped and turned around to talk to him. His name is W. and he is probably i nhis 30's. He told us that he has seen us riding around but hasn't wanted to stop us because he thought we were busy. But he said that last night he had a feeling like he should stop us. As soon as he said that I felt the Spirit and I knew that it was the Holy Ghost that prompted him to stop us. We gave him a Book of Mormon and introduced it a little bit. He told us that as soon as he went back inside that he would start reading it. We are planning on going to see him today. We just felt so blessed that Heavenly Father has put these people in our lives to share the gospel with. Elder Bennett and I were talking about it later and we found out that we had both prayed earlier that day that we could find somebody that needed our help, and our prayers were answered . It was a really cool experience, and those are the kinds of miracles you can expect on your mission. They happen every day.
I'll end with a little experpt from my Presidents letter:
Elder Bennett and I had a really cool discussion yesterday about the concept of perfection. I read the scripture in 3 Nephi 12: 48 that says:
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
That seems like a really tall order, to be perfect, but in the footnote it explains that perfection= living God's standard, striving to be an example of Christ, repenting and changing daily and living up to our potential. I like to think of perfection not necessarily as a destination, but as a direction. We then compared it to something that we both know and love, music. When you try to perfect a piece of music, you can't expect to play it with out a mistake on the first try, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try, it just means it will take time and lots of practice. As you progress there may be one piece of the music that you struggle with more than another and there may be one part that you can nail every time, but as you continue to practice you are still on the path to perfection. This is the same with our lives, we need to practice perfection. It will take time and effort but as try we will get better. We also know that we are all unique and so in a way we are all practicing a different piece of music or a different part, maybe even a different "instrument", but God knows what we can do and will give us encouragement and blessings as we strive to practice our way through life.
I love you guys a lot and pray and think of you guys often.
Prayers and thoughts always,
Elder Debunhams Soper
PS General Conference this weekend Ooo Ooo (the chant they do at the mayan palace)
here is a picture we took awhile ago with my and Bill
We made biscuits and gravy