Monday, November 18, 2013

Das un Schfenda Benda...

Dear Family,

Sorry I know that is a weird title, but Elder Bennett and I have been talking in funny accents all week and so I thought I would share one of our favorite lines haha. The translation is "Ah man, a car wreck."

I am glad that things are going well back home and Haley, Jordan and Mom are having so much fun in Canby. Thank you for the pictures and for the fun updates. Those mushrooms looked awesome and I bet they taste good too! That is so cool that you guys almost have the house all fixed up. I am excited to see how it is. Mom told me that it is a 3 bedroom house. A room for you guys, a room for Olive and then a room for...a baby? hehehe. But it sounds like you guys are having a ton of fun and fitting right into the community. Your food experiences sound pretty stellar too. Thanks for the awesome update.

Thank you guys for the great letters, they were much needed this week. I don't know why but it was kind of an up and down week. Some days I was feeling good and then there were some days I was just really tired and lacking a lot of motivation. I will say that it was a really good learning experience for me and I felt myself grow. I have found that there are two ways that I learn through experience as a missionary. Sometimes Heavenly Father will help and strengthen me to do it the right way, or I will make the mistake, mess up a little bit and learn as I pick myself back up.  Both are good ways to learn, but the lesson  especially sticks when you fail first and learn from that. This week had a couple of experiences that were some of the failing first, but learning later.

Looking back, we had a really busy week. After district meeting on Tuesday we went with the Sisters to visit a couple older widows in the ward and play guitar for them. That was a lot of fun and always make for a good story. They were both really sweet ladies, but one is pretty hard of hearing so I was practically yelling Nearer my God to thee. I guess that could be a good thing since the whole neighborhood heard it. But I am very humbled and it seemed to make their day. We also had a really cool experience with P. and M. They are the young Catholic couple that Rachel Bybee sent us to see a while back. We went over and we shared a little message with them and then we were getting ready to leave but M. asked us to stay. She then asked us to share another message. So we did and that opened up this huge conversation about God, life and families. We ended up staying there pretty long haha, for about 3 hours,  just talking to them as they asked us questions. Really the main topic was about families and how we can strengthen them and how they could help their kids have a great and happy experience. We shared a lot of testimony, we cried a little bit and grew a lot. They are a really great family and I feel blessed to have gotten to know them and I hope we can keeping working with them and help strengthen their faith in the Savior.

Elijah was baptized this week and it really came together in a nice way. There was a really good turn out and the ward really took charge of running the whole thing. Elder Bennett and I did a lot of the ground work, preparing things, doing the paper work, making sure everything was good to go, but after that we were able to sit back, and experience a baptism that was a major miracle. We had been working with Elijah for a long time and it is sad what happened with his family, but it opened the door for him to exercise his faith and do what he believed to be right. I am really happy for him and he is going to be a great example to his family, his friends and everyone around him. He is a pretty amazing kid and I feel so blessed that we got to be part of his progression in the gospel. There is always a special spirit at a baptism, but even more so when they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting. Really cool to witness in a very real way the change in someones life for the better as they come closer to Christ. This gospel is a gospel of change and it is a really good change.

We had another cool experience with C. and M. They are the couple that stopped us on the way to the library. We have had a lot of scheduling issues with them and we could never create anything solid. But one day C. called us and just asked us what we were all about. We asked if we could come over for a few minutes and he said we could, so we got there as fast as we could haha. He was waiting for us and he was really ready to just learn and soak up all that we had to offer. He is so honest and sincere in his desire to come closer to Christ and do the right thing for his family. That made the discussion so meaningful and spirit filled. We talked to him about prophets and how the Book of Mormon blesses our lives and the lives of our family. He asked us a lot of questions and after the whole thing was over, about 20 minutes, we asked him how he felt and he said "happy, fulfilled and grateful" He told us he and his wife want to come back and he agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Man it is really refreshing to have met someone who is so genuine, kind and wants to learn. Lots of people are willing to learn, but they want to, they enjoy it, it is really cool.

Yesterday was really fun. Church was especially good because it was the primary program and those are always a lot of fun. Those are sometimes the most spiritual meetings and the funniest. There are some really cute families in this ward and I think we are blessed to have a lot of kids and a good size group of youth here. But after church we stopped by the Tabors , had a quick lesson with them and then had to go off to the Stocks for a dinner appointment. She made us this really yummy sausage with homemade bread and salad, good stuff. But Bishop Anderson has asked the missionaries to teach all of the active members the missionary lessons and I will admit that I was pretty scared aft first. But we taught the Bybees the Restoration yesterday and that was an special experience. The day before I had done a really poor job in a lesson, I just talked to much and ended up tainting our lesson with strange tangents and irrelevant information. I made a goal to ask at least three inspired questions so I could become more of an ODD missionary (president walls acronym for Observe Discern Do it). So I tried it this lesson and Elder Bennett is already good about doing that and it made it such a better experience. It was so fun to discuss the Restoration with them and the spirit was constantly there bearing the truth of that message. How amazing is it that we know that God loves us, that he has called a prophet, that he continues to speak to us and he has restored the priesthood to bless our lives. That is awesome! We are so blessed to have that knowledge. But the Bybees are a great family and they are just so strong in the gospel. I really look up to them and love them a lot.

After that we went to the Tabors and just to let you know how spoiled we are, we had a shrimp boil. Brother Tabor went out the night before and caught 55 lbs of shrimp. If you have a fishing license you are legally able to catch 100 pounds of shrimp...everyday! So he only caught about half of that... but it was still 200 dollars worth of shrimp for free. But they boiled up probably about 6 or 7 pounds and man it was really good haha. They also gave us a bunch to come home with us and both Elder bennett and I made Shrimp po boys for lunch today... we are spoiled. But it was a lot of fun to just hang out, peel shrimp, eat good food and strengthen friendships. I really love this ward and it feels a lot like home.

A couple other highlights for the week, L. has started reading her scripures again and we promised her that we would do hand stands and cartwheels for her and her kids. She held us to that haha. So on Saturday Elder bennett and I spent about 10 minutes doing gymnastics on her lawn... it might have been a mistake letting her know we would do the worm for her if she read 3 chapters in a day... just kidding it will be fun.

I just want to let you guys know how much I love you. I know I say that every letter, but I want you to know that I really do mean it. I think about you guys often and how you are probably the biggest blessing in my life.  And I am so grateful that I can share those blessings with others here on my mission. I love you guys and you are my best friends, thank you. I will end with a little presidents letter exerpt.

This ZTM really focused on the messenger before the message. We watched a talk by Elder Holland where he talked about the purpose of Preach My Gospel. One of the reasons Preach my Gospel was formed was to help bring the message of the gospel into the missionaries heart, not just in their ears and out their mouth. It helps us to become converted. That word become is something that has really stuck out to me this week. Becoming a Preach My gospel missionary, becoming a Saint through Christ the Lord, becoming converted. The word itself implies that it is a process, that we are working towards a goal of being something, not just doing something. I am realizing that conversion isn't just doing something about what we know, but becoming it. Not just doing missionary work, but becoming one. Not just doing good, but becoming good. Not just doing what the spirit tells us, but BECOMING spirit led. I think Mosiah 3:19 is the perfect scripture about becoming:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Like President Uchtdorf said, we aren't perfect and so in this life we never become perfect, but each day we can become better. Each day we become a little more converted is a check mark to becoming who God wants us to be. The Book of Mormon is probably the best to help us become. I look forward to reading the scriptures, because now that I understand how much better life is when you draw strength from it, it is a scary thought not too. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon because it is helping me to understand, love and become more like our Savior. What a blessing it is that God has given this book for the whole world to read so they can become better each day.

Hope you guys have a great week!!!


Elder Devin Soper

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