Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It has come to a satisfying conclusion...

Good Morning,

There aren't enough computers for everyone, so I am going to keep this pretty short because I can tell you about my week in just a few days! I think that will be even better. 

Yeah today is going to be pretty busy, but it wont be too bad, I am just really looking forward to the few days ahead. We have a fun P-day planned and I think a bunch of us are going to go to this cool southern restaurant for lunch. That will be a good last hooraw! 

Things have been pretty good though and it has come to a satisfying conclusion. For awhile I had wondered if I did everything that I could or I used my mission to its fullest. And I definitely haven't been perfect, but I do feel like all of the experiences, good and bad, were pretty perfect for me. I am really happy with what has happened and more than anything I am grateful for the gospel foundation that it has strengthened and fortified. It is kind of true what they say that this isn't the end, but it is preparation for the next phase of life. I never was expected to be perfect after my mission, but I was expected to improve and I think that I was able to do that, even if it was just a little bit. I feel really grateful for all my experiences, all the friendships I have made, the many challenges that have happened, the things I have learned, the weaknesses I found out about, the strengths that I received help to develop and also a deeper understanding of how the gospel applies to my life. The coolest thing is that all this was part of Heavenly Fathers plan and the way that all of this was learned was through other people and the Spirit, I guess that is how all things are learned. So its all about Him. I am excited to tell you about all the people I have met and really everything else. 

Thank you for all the prayers, the support, the letters, the jokes etc. etc.

See you soon!


Elder Soper

Oh yeah this last week too we got put in a trio with Elder Sato and that has been awesome. He has taught me a lot already and I am sad that we only got to be companions for a week. He is a great missionary.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Things are definitely winding down...

Good Morning!

Things are definitely winding down. The Semester here at LSU finishes up this week and you can kinda feel the stress that the students have and the excitement of the prospect of finishing so soon. I think I am feeling those same feelings. It still hasn't hit me though and I am not just saying that. I just can't wrap my head around that fact that I will see yall next week. I am excited to see Quinn too! I am just so excited to see yall. The work hasn't been too bad though. The whole time I have been here it has been kind of slow and we just never were able to create anything too solid. But at the same time it has been really steady with what we do have and that is a blessing. We have been trying some new ideas, but I think the thing that has worked the best lately has just been being open and talking to people. I have a couple stories that I can share about that! It has been awesome to be district leader too and you are totally right that I am continuing to be humbled. I definitely feel more comfortable doing it and sharing ideas than I used to be, but it is still very humbling. 

Well I definitely have felt everybody's prayers all throughout my mission and I am extremely grateful for them all! So I have to get off pretty soon, gotta run some errands but I will share a few stories.

I have been trying to be better at just talking to people. And so we were on the bus and this guy was holding a green smoothie so I said, "Hey that is a green smoothie." Haha probably not the most creative of approaches, but we ended up talking to him for the whole bus ride and even though we didn't teach him anything we have a new familiar face. Next story. So the whole time I have been here I have seen this one guy on campus and we have become friends without ever talking to each other, we always just say hi when we see each other, I didn't even know his name haha. Well the other day we were sitting in the Student Union and randomly he came up to us. His name is A. and he just expressed to us how grateful he was for how we are kind, welcoming and how we try to live a Christlike lives. We ended up talking for about and hour and a half about how similar are beliefs are on how we should live our lives and that means we talked about following the example of our Savior. It just made me realize that our influence can be seen by others, A. and our lives have both been improved because we are trying to live the best we can. You really can share the gospel by example!

I better get going, but I love you guys so much and I will talk to you soon.

Prayers and Thoughts always!

Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This has been a fun week...

Dear Family,

This has been a fun week though. You were right that because of thanksgiving it would be a little tricky in terms of the work, but we did the best we could. The start of the week was pretty good because school was still in. And then on Thursday we had an awesome Thanksgiving! We had a Zone Turkey Bowl and so our whole morning was taken up with football and hanging out with Missionaries. After that we got to go the mission home and for the next couple hours we played a bunch of different games until the meal. There were about 16 missionaries there and it ended up being a blast. It really felt like we were at home and that is something that means a lot to a missionary during holidays like that. I realized too how many friends that I have made out here. I feel so comfortable around all the missionaries here and they really do feel like family. I love all of them a lot.  There are definitely guys out here that I will stay friends with and I almost feel like we are brothers. It sounds so cheesy haha but oh well. We are blessed to have an awesome mission. 

On Saturday we were able to have a Zone Service project and we just did a lot of yardwork. It is always nice to get out missionary clothes and do some work outside. We got to use machetes to take down some brush and vines in the backyard and the 8 year old Devin loves to do that kind of stuff! We were really blessed to because they gave us all of the left over food after it was done. We have been blessed with food lately and I couldn't be more grateful. That day too we decided to hit the bikes and trek over to one of our less-active members houses. We had a lesson with him and were able to get to know him better. I will send a picture that I took with him. His name is N. That day was awesome because I felt productive with our time, I like that feeling!  

I don't have too much to report on this week I guess. But I am happy and things are going well. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon! I love you!

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Soper

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving week has already been pretty good so far!


Thanksgiving week has already been pretty good so far! On Saturday our ward held a pre-thanksgiving potluck and food drive. We had a really good turn out and there were quite a few non-members there as well. It felt really good to be with everyone and it was just a successful event. The food was actually really good. One person smoked a turkey and it ended up being super moist and flavorful (that's when you know you lucked out on turkey...when it is not dry.) and then we had most or not one of all kinds of novembery foods. But sadly we didn't have any cement potatoes. Maybe those students liked them so much that they didn't have time to say anything haha. Then for Thanksgiving the Hansens invited all the missionaries to come over if they wanted to or didn't have a family to eat with. So that should be a lot of fun! You are right though, the work might be a little tricky, but I think the zone has a couple service projects lined up and so hopefully we can be or at least feel productive. 

With Elder Bracken at the football game a few weeks ago

Elder Smiley and I at the lake

Mom, I think you have turned into a a true gospel teacher. Not only in Sunday school, but just all the time. You are so concerned about the students in your class and the people around you that you that your motivation is purely for them to grow and progress. That is very humble and it shows because you live what you teach. One time in the MTC I was talking about how I am nervous to talk to people and to teach others. And our Branch President said, "Elder, it is good to be nervous sometimes, it means that you care about it." Not saying that if you aren't nervous that you don't care, that is definitely not true, but when you do get nervous  that is probably a good indication that  you are thoughtful about the situation and the people involved. 

Hey I was thinking too when I was reading these letters just how awesome of parents your are. You guys talk a ton about us and the things that are going on in our lives. (Meaning your children) It shows that we are a part of your life, that you are so invested in our well being and what we love to do that our life is part of yours. We are a family and everything that we do, we are all part of it. I think that is awesome and it makes me really happy. You guys are really the best parents and the best of siblings (To Haley, Taylor, Emma and Jordan.)

Well I wanted to share one cool experience that happened this week. We had a lot, but this one stuck out to me. So on thursday things were a little slow, two of our appointments fell through and so we had a couple free hours. We were able to fill our time in, but it was still a little slow. We were walking to the bus stop and for some reason I just felt that we needed to talk to somebody, we just didn't know who it was yet. So I told that to Elder Smiley and we started to keep are eyes peeled...just a little more. We got on the bus and we were sitting next to a cute Asian family, so we started a conversation but started and ended with small talk. As we were sitting there B. got on the bus. We have seen B. around quite a bit and we have become friends. We started to talk to him on the bus and then he got off with us because he lives in the same complex as us. We ended up talking with him for about an hour about life and plans. We invited him to the potluck too and he came! It is cool to see friendships like that grow and he added me on Facebook as well so we can stay in contact. Pretty cool I think.

I love you guys so much and I hope that you have an awesome week!

We have seen some cool tender mercies...

Dear Fam,

This has been a good week and we have seen some cool tender mercies throughout our days. Yeah we are starting to implement some of our new ideas and that is yielding some new results. It wasn't game changing, but at least for us it is nice to have somewhat of a change of pace. I do feel a new sort of urgency that I want to fit as much as I can in such a short amount of time. I am just grateful that we have progress no matter how small or slow it is. 

I wanted to share a couple cool things from this last week. First we had an awesome Zone Meeting this week and we had a whole instruction on Positive Psychology. We got to watch a Ted talk about the correlation between success and happiness. Many people believe that success comes before happiness, but with that mentality you will always want to be more successful in what you are doing and you trap your self into never attaining the happiness that you deserve. But if you decide that happiness can come at all times in life then you will have a higher chance of being successful because your attitude will directly influence your productivity and efficiency. So in the end to be truly successful is actually to be happy. They found that when they encouraged people to develop certain habits that it would increase your mental positivity. Here they are:

Write down three things you are grateful for each day.
Keep a journal
Random Acts of Kindness

He said that if you make a conscious effort to do this for at least 21 days that it will help change your positivity and your happiness. I think that he is definitely right and the cool thing is those are things that the church has encouraged us to do for decades. The reason that we are encouraged to do that is because all of those things increase our spirituality and then as a result increases our relationship with Heavenly Father. So going even further when people are following these habits they are really building their relationship with God and their very own Spirit. Happiness is a fruit of the Gospel! Pretty cool. I am going to try to do that 21 day challenge as I am finishing up my mission. 

Another cool thing about that meeting is I was able to play a little musical number. It was fun to be able to use that talent again, I still get super nervous haha but it is rewarding. 

Now another cool story. On tuesday our evening was really open so Elder Smiley and I decided to call as many people as we could from our Area Book. A lot of them we got no responses, but they were a few that answered and then out of those few we were able to set up two visits. We set up a lesson with a guy named K. He is 17 years old, from the Bahamas and is a really intelligent person. He was the valedictorian of his High School and he just has a really open and willing heart. We asked him how he has seen God's love in his life and he told us that it was his family. He said that he has been blessed with a great family that loves him and supports him and because of that he knows that God loves him too. That is a pretty mature outlook for a 17 year old college student. We were able to teach him the Restoration and he agreed to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized if he finds that it is true. We are really looking forward to working with him more. Update on Sam...we haven't been able to get in contact with him for the past couple weeks. That is kinda disappointing, but we will keep trying!

I better get going. I love you guys so much and I just want to thank you for all the support everyone gives through prayers, letters and helping the missionaries in their area too. I love yall!

Elder Devin Soper

Friday, November 21, 2014

I got a new companion...

Hey everyone!

So I really don't have too much to report on this week. I got a new companion, Elder Smiley, and he is awesome! He is from Savannah, Georgia, been on his mission for about 17 months and he is just a good guy. I am not sure how I have been blessed with such great companions, but I feel really grateful. One thing about Elder Smiley and I is that we are able to talk. For some reason we can have meaningful conversations really about anything that is going on. That has been really fun and we have "nerded" out a lot about superheroes and Power Rangers. (By the way, he told me that they are planning on making a reboot Power Rangers movie. Haha I am so excited) We have had a crazy week with just getting everything settled and finding how we work here on LSU together. But it has been good, a little slow (like normal), but good. :)

Me and Elder Smiley

I am the District Leader again and I am actually really grateful for that. It is giving me something to think about and keep my brain working and focusing on missionary work. It has been a lot of fun too working with the missionaries in our District. I never thought I was going to be a leader again in the mission and so I am excited to try out some fun ideas and really be a missionary for the missionaries. We have an awesome district too and we are all already friends. That is a huge blessing and I think a testimony of how well the transfer is going to go. 

Yesterday was probably the best day of missionary work that I have had for a long time here. After Church we were able to have a lesson with M., a member from the ward and he and Elder Smiley hit it off right away. We were just able to talk to him about how things are going and it was a really rewarding visit. Then we had a stake Priesthood meeting were I had a tough time keeping my eyes open...oops. But it was still good and we were able to go out with a member for a few hours after that and search for some less-active people. We weren't able to find any, but we went and visited a member of the ward and had an awesome visit. We all talked about how we could improve the missionary work here at LSU and I think we came up with some good ideas. Well first of all Elder Smiley has already brainstormed some really inspired ideas on how to understand the work here and cater to the needs of college students and other single adults. So this other conversation was a continuation of that. We thought of maybe the idea of members and missionaries offering to help people with homework. We may not know what we are doing, but there are members in the ward that do and we might open up the institute for a safe and helpful place to do school work. We also talked about how we are successful in missionary work as long as we brightens someones day. It is better to be motivated by a desire to simply help people and then maybe (and probably) the subject of religion might come up. For example, there is this group of people that we have become friends with over the course of two transfers here and recently two of the them asked us if they could come to church with us sometime. How cool is that!

That sounds like it was a really cool Sunday School about goal planning. And yeah that is fine with me that you were able to use some of my planners. Haha I don't think that is very dumb thing to say. I also think that Heavenly Father wants us to have goals and in a way (when they are righteous goals) He accepts those and they become His for us as well. There is a cool quote by M. Russell Ballard from PMG that says, 

“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.

The LSU vs. Alabama game was absolutely crazy... there were so many people there and they were living it up. It is a fun atmosphere, but it is kind of overwhelming at the same time. We ran into quite a few members from different states and it was fun to have that connection with them. We ended up eating at 3 different tailgates too haha everybody we knew, but still kinda funny that we just hopped around. It was fun though.

I hope you guys have a great week and I am getting more and more excited to see yall again. Happy Birthday again Dad and I hope your week isn't too crazy busy. I love you guys so much!

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I am going to be staying here at LSU for my final transfer...

Dear mi familia,

Getting hit in the face with a pie for charity

So I am going to be staying here at LSU for my final transfer, but sadly Elder White is leaving. I am really grateful that we got to serve together for as long as we did, but I think that this next transfer will be good for the both of us with what we need. I am not sure who I am getting yet, but I will let you know this next week. I am excited to stay here too, I know the area fairly well and so it will be a good situation to really make the most of this transfer. Yeah haha I think it is nearly impossible to really keep it out of your mind. I have thought of it like a race (knowledge from my cross country experience haha) But during a race you are definitely thinking of doing your absolute best the whole time and giving it your all, but it is at the end where you really push  it to the end. Saying this, a runner doesn't have the mindset, "Man, I really wish the end wasn't so soon...I wish I could run more." Haha or maybe that is just me, but I used the finish as a motivation and a goal, but you do have to acknowledge it and appreciate it too. I have a feeling that this will probably be the fastest transfer of all and that is a little scary, but good at the same time. And about the bike, yeah we can probably get the office elders to help us figure that out. I am imagining too that I could probably send it home a few weeks early, we haven't really used our bikes that much here and things are close enough to walk. I am going to talk to the office about it soon and I will let you know what they say. 

I loved seeing the halloween pictures!! Taylor looks like some people that I really have seen down here and Emma pulled off the hipster super hero like a true hipster. I like the retro old timey look you and dad had...I see Pa Pierre made a reappearance :) Dang I still can't believe the little belly that Haley has now, but I did really like their Christmas combo costumes. 

Holy cow I can't believe what happened to Alex! That whole thing seemed so scary and strange. Not to add to the fear, but I have heard some scary stories from missionaries down in south America of things that have happened. But I do also want to say that I know that there were Angels there protecting Alex and his companion. The Lord takes very good care of his missionaries and even though unfortunate things happen like that, I know there is still divine protection involved. I will be praying for him. 

Last transfer I still felt like I still had a lot of time left, but once it hit November, it also hit me. It is a bitter-sweet thing, but like you said it is mostly sweet. Even though it is sad that you we will all kind of leave this season of our life, I just know all the wonderful experiences I have had and the relationships that have been created. Really it will just keep getting better and better! This last week has been a little tough in terms of lessons and the amount of work that we have had. We had a good number of appointments set up here, but they all ended up falling through at the last minute. That is always a little disheartening, but it is part of being a missionary. My mind has gone a little blank haha so I think today I am going to just send a little list of things I am grateful for:

·         The opportunity to be a missionary
·         My family
·         All of my companions and what they have taught me
·         The friends that I have made on my mission
·         The families I have met on my mission and the close relationships that we have created
·         Two great mission presidents that have helped me understand my purpose
·         Knowing what my weaknesses are and the ability to be aware of them
·         The talents that Heavenly Father has given me and the motivation to try to improve them
·         Forgiveness
·         Good Health and the means to keep that up
·         The scriptures
·         The second chances that we get every single day.
·         The many opportunities that we have to serve and help others
·         Being able to recognize the little tender mercies
·         Being able to witness miracles
·         Prayer!
·         Music and the spirit that it brings into my life
·         The social skills that the Lord has helped me develop on my mission
·         The strength that we get through the Atonement
·         The success that I have been able to have on my mission in so many different ways
·         Everything falling into place and perfect timing coming on my mission and coming home
·         Being able to keep in contact with my friends and family though out my mission easily
·         The love that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost have for us
·         The peace and happiness that comes from living the Gospel

There are more haha, but I probably should get going soon. I am super excited that Elder King and I have a place to stay and I hope everything works out with the classes. Thank you so much for everything and I love you guys so much!! Have an awesome week.

Prayers and Thoughts always,


Elder Debuns Soper

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Well we have had a pretty good week...

Dear Family,

I bet the title of my email threw you off a little bit...you might be thinking it is about me coming home soon, but it is actually referencing that LSU had there homecoming this week. "Broo!! Gotcha." :)

I told you guys the wrong thing and it is next week that we have transfers. But I guess one good thing is this email will come a day before it was expected haha I am interested to see what happens this next transfer too. I am not really sure what I would prefer, but I am happy to be where ever I am needed. I wouldn't be too surprised if I stayed here though and train somebody new here. I am excited to see! 

That is weird to think that fall is coming to a close. It is strange to me that the leaves turned orange and are actually falling off there. Here we still have weather up into the 70's and 80's and it is green as could be. Were you able to get some good reference photos for paintings this fall? I guess you guys have been able to make it to Spring City a couple times and I bet that is fun to get away for a little while and take some cool fall pictures. 

Well we have had a pretty good week. It has been slow in terms of teaching lessons, but we have still had the opportunity to talk to quite a few people with Free Speech Alley and getting involved with some of the activities on campus for Homecoming (I guess mostly we just wanted some of the free food haha). Free Speech alley was pretty successful and we are finding that we are seeing a lot of the same faces that we see each week. That can work to our advantage or our disadvantage depending on if they might want to talk to us, or have made the decision that they really don't want to talk to us. I am not sure if that made sense or not. Haha but I guess I am just saying that things are going pretty well and we are starting to create some new friendships. We made new posters too and hopefully they are a little more inviting and happy.

We had another lesson with S. this week and it was awesome. We took the time to just catch up with each other and all get in the same page. He has read past 2 Nephi now and he said that all of his intellectual concerns are gone now. He said that he has a broken heart right now and he is vulnerable to the spirit. He said it is a little stressful being at this point of change and confusion, but he is happy that he is making progress. He told us the only thing that he has to get past now is just making sure that he isn't being deceived. That gave Elder White and I an opportunity to bear our testimonies of the Restoration. It was a really good visit and we talked a lot about how Mormonism just makes sense. That is so true. 

The last part of the week we took it easy because Elder White sprained his ankle. He is doing really good now though. We had Zone Conference and got to watch Meet the Mormons. I don't know if you guys have been able to see it yet, but they did a really good job with it. I loved the start of it because they did a really good job of being informative, but poking fun at us as well with clips from different movies and tv shows (a cilp from southpark, one from the simpsons etc.) That day we went to the doctor for Elder White's ankle and then afterwards President and Sister Hansen took us out to dinner at a Greek restaurant. The food was awesome, but we really enjoyed being able to spend so much time with them. It was a lot of fun. 

Hey I know that I don't have much longer left, but I was wondering if you guys would want me to send more personalized emails to each of you along with the more informative one for the blog? 

I love you guys!!!

Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Things have definitely picked up compared to a couple of weeks ago...

Dear Family,

Yeah I think things have definitely picked up compared to a couple of weeks ago. It is nice to see a progression in the area; no matter how small it is it feels like a success. I think it will continue to get better, although this week was tough because it was mid terms. So that means that there were a lot of stressed out students using all of their time cramming for tests haha. Yeah we are definitely lucky here on campus because they have a solid institute program established and so we are able to go to institute each Tuesday. We also have FHE with the ward every Monday and so we are able to have some fun and positive interactions with the members. This transfer is a little different, it is only 5 weeks long and we are on week 4 right now. And so my final transfer is coming up really soon. It is weird to think that it is starting to wrap up so quickly... It will be interesting to see what happens and how I will spend my final months out here in Louisiana. 

Elder White and I make a point to take a little Sunday nap every week during our break to just  unwind from the week. It feels so good to be able to relax for just a little while in the midst of being out working, talking and sharing our testimonies. Got to find a good balance. 

I think the coolest thing from the week is the realization of how many people we have created friendships and personal relationships with out here. Just walking around campus we are always seeing people that we know and are able to catch up with them a little bit. There are definitely some that have a lot of potential of being able to turn into sharing our beliefs. We met a girl on campus too whose family lives in Lafayette and we used to play dodge ball with her little brother on P-days (they are all investigators) That was cool to make that connection. We have also been meeting with another investigator, J. and we had a good lesson with her this last week. We went in planning on teaching the Restoration, but based on all the questions she asked we ended up teaching what I like to call a shot gun lesson. I am pretty sure we touched on every single lesson and commandment that we teach. It was awesome to see how interested she was. We were a little disappointed this last week because we weren't able meet with S., but we are hoping it is going to work out tomorrow. 

I just wanted to bear my testimony on the Atonement. It is real and although I don't know exactly how it works, I know that can fill you with peace and improves your character. The more rely on it the more we can understand who we and others are, because we begin to understand more fully who our Savior is. I know that it can work on the big things, but it is just as powerful and relevant on the little mistakes that we make in our life. It is only through Christ's sacrifice that we can repent and go from "bad" to good and good to better. I have always struggle a little bit with understanding who I am, but I realized that maybe I should just work on being more like the Savior, because that would be a perfect person to emulate. So maybe I don't know exactly who I am, but I know who I want to be like. I feel like that is a good first step! I love you guys so much and I hope that you have a great week and everything goes well. Love you!

Prayers and thoughts always, 


Elder Soper

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This week has been awesome...

Dear Family,

It is hard to believe to that registration for BYU comes up soon, but it is kind of exciting to think about that as well! I joke about being trunky, but in reality I going to really miss being able to do this. I have found a lot of happiness in dedicating my life to the Lord and I hope that I can continue to do that in some type back home. My mission has definitely impacted my life in a positive way that I will never forget. It will always be a part of me. 

This week has been awesome in terms of being able to share the gospel. We have finally been able to set up Free Speech Alley and that has been a miracle finding tool. We get to set up a table in the middle of campus and we can freely proselyte from 10 to 2. We get to do that on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week. We pass out candy and just try to talk to people. It really requires you to get out of your shell and it is uncomfortable at first, but it becomes really fun. YOu can just go up to people and ask them, "Hey man, have you ever heard about the Restoration?" They will look at you funny and then say  "No I haven't." Then you just go into teaching them a little bit about it. Or it can go like this, you ask them the same question and then they say....Nothing haha A lot of people ignore you, but it is kinda funny to laugh about later. Elder Barbeau and I were able to teach a girl about the entire plan of salvation and we now have a lesson set up with her on Tuesday. They are definitely people prepared and it is just awesome to be able to share these precious truths with people. It makes you feel really good to share your testimony. We probably had over 20 people sign up to be contacted from those two days and we consider that a great success! 

While we were doing Free Speech Alley, S. walked by and so we were able to catch up with him a little bit too. He has been continuing to read the Book of Mormon and he is through 2 nephi. We kinda got the vibe that he had just been studying on his own just to understand for himself. But he later told us with a smile on his face, "Elders, I am pretty convinced." Elder White and I were so excited when he said that, the spirit was there and all I wanted to do was do a little jig. We have a lesson set up with him tomorrow and we are really looking forward to seeing him again.

I definitely know that the Atonement is real and that it really was the greatest act of kindness and charity that was ever performed. I been able to feel its power or recognize its power on my mission than any other time in my life. That has been tender mercy in my life. I know that I am not perfect and I have a lot of weaknesses that I need to work on. But I am happy that I know and understand those weaknesses because now I can work with my Savior and Heavenly Father on those so I can become better. They love so much and that is something that I know for sure. 

I love you guys so much too and I am getting excited to see you guys again. I love you!

Prayers and thoughts always,


Elder Devin Soper

Monday, October 6, 2014

One of the most fun and memorable conference weekends for me...

Dear Family,

Well I don't have too much to report on this week. I know what you mean about the weeks starting to fly by. It has gotten to the point where I just don't know where the days are going. But we have had some success making friends with some of the ward members and even people that we met on campus. That has been especially cool making those relationships with students and ward members.  I haven't had to give any talks and so that has been nice haha. 

We were able to watch most of conference at the Mission Home with President and Sister Hansen. It was probably one of the most fun and memorable conference weekends for me because we were in such a comfortable setting with a lot of the people that really feel like family now. It was so fun, we all made cookies in between sessions and just had fun discussing conference and memories from our mission. It was Elder White, Elder Bracken, Elder Rothchild, Elder Bennett, Elder Barbeau, Elder Wittig and Elder Benson with Pres and Sister Hansen. I really enjoyed it. Oh yeah we got two new Elders here at LSU this transfer with us, Elder Bennett is training Elder Barbeau. He is from Montreal and although English is his second language he speaks really well. They are awesome to have around the apartment. 

I think my favorite talks were by President Uchtdorf as usual, Elder Klebingat and Elder Scott . I liked to how conversational Elder Klebingat was about plain truths of the gospel that can make such a difference in your life if you live by them. Those are 6 points that I want to apply especially now and when I get home. We are responsible for our own spiritual and physical well being. Haha it was funny as soon as he started talking about eating healthy and taking care of our bodies I was eating a big piece of white chocolate covered popcorn... the irony was unbearable. Elder Scott was cool as well because he just explained simple doctrines like prayer and scripture study and just reemphasized them. I need that continually reemphasized in my mind. Man I also like Brother Callisters talk about the power of parenthood and it just made me think how well you guys did with us. Elder Bednar's talk would be good to show the entire world as well... Conference was good this time around. Yeah that is cool how they may all have encountered the gospel in different ways and have had different experiences but their testimonies are all powerful and true. 

I gotta get going to let some other missionaries email. But I love you guys so much. God is great, life is good and people are crazy. ( That is a quote from a song that Elder White likes. haha) but life really is good. I love you!

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Soper

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This next transfer is going to be full of blessings, miracles and memories...

Dear Family,

Elder White and I get to stay one more together! We worried for a little while that we might be getting split up, but we were relieved and excited to hear that we get to stay. It is nice to know that you are going to have a companion and a friend that you can get a long with and can get a lot of work done.   So we have a feeling that this next transfer is going to be full of blessings, miracles and memories. A lot to look forward to I think. 

I have really mixed feelings writing this email right now, I am not sure why haha. I think I am realizing how little time I have left and I can really feel and sense my mission winding down. It is bitter sweet mostly because it is sad thinking that this wont last, but also good looking back and seeing all the friends we have made, the experiences that we have had and how we have all come closer to our Father in Heaven. 

I will share one cool story that happened this week. We had a lesson yesterday with a potential investigator, H (investigator now) and he brought his friend, S. They are both from the Middle East and they grew in up Muslim but they now that want to simply follow God and find out what is best for them be it Islam or Christianity. They are both very intelligent and aren't afraid to ask good questions. As we were teaching about the where we came from S spoke up and said, "That makes sense that we are all Brothers and Sisters. Also I believe that after this life we will probably wait somewhere for a little and then God will judge us. That just sounds like something God would do." We kinda sat their shocked for a little bit and he asked us what was up and we just told him that he was spot on. It is just a testimony that people are prepared to hear this Gospel. They really are sincerely seeking for the truth and it is cool to see how it clicks with them as they learn it. A little update on D, we haven't been able to get in contact with him since we had that last lesson with him. That has been kind of sad, but we are hoping that he is still having a positive experience with the Book of Mormon. We aren't sure what is going on, but we are keeping him in our prayers. We are finally getting Free Speech Alley set up and so that should be an opportunity to meet a lot of new people as well. 

I love you guys so much and I hope that you guys have a great general conference as well! I can't wait to talk about some of the talks with yall. Have an awesome week.

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

Elder White and I at Cajun Village

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This week was pretty crazy...

Dear Family,

First of all Happy Birthday Emma! I hope that you have a great day today. :)

Yeah I am not sure what they course of the rest of my mission is. I think there is a good chance that I could stay here to finish it out and I could see Elder White and I serving one more and then maybe bringing a new guy in. But that is just our theory, it could be completely different. The challenges are still here, but we are doing our best despite them. I think I am less discouraged though. One of the missionaries here is collecting coins and he gave us a good analogy. He said that he loves to find the quarters... but in order to do that he has to look for the pennies too. So just like in life sometimes we are blessed with a quarters, but everyday there are little pennies all around us. We just keep plugging a long and really the time is going by super fast, this is already the last week of the transfer. Yikes...

Man it is fun to hear how well Emma's team is doing. Does their season continue into next spring? Also is Taylor planning on playing for the Orem High Soccer team this next year? Want to know something cool. Our investigator S is a huge EPL fan. He tells me that West Ham is in his blood, he lives and breathes for that team. So that has been fun to be a be able to have that in common and it has developed our relationship with him in another good way. I told him that I love Van Persie and he gave me a little bit of a hard time, but then he told me about his header that he had in the world cup. He said that it was "beautiful" and that he only has to think about it and he gets the chills haha. The funny thing is I didn't even see that goal and I still get the chills when I think about it... weird. Pretty cool to have that love of soccer in common! Do you guys have any students on your intramural team this season?

This week was pretty crazy. On Tuesday we were walking through campus and all of the sudden a throng of students came up to us and were thanking us for our religion being calm and peaceful. They were telling us that there were some people on free speech alley that were preaching hellfire and damnation to everyone that was passing by. They were being rude to people and everybody was feeling uncomfortable. While we were talking to these people a few of the preachers came up to us and started bashing with us really aggressively. For the next hour or so they were grilling us and chastising us for leading people to hell. We had both encountered some people like before, but not quite on this level. We had a whole group of people around us, about 20, and they were all cheering us on. Some people would even walk by and ask "Who is winning?" And they would all start saying "The Mormons are!" haha people were even taking pictures of us. Crazy huh? Well through it all we were definitely attacked, but we stayed happy, calm and respectful. We thanked them for their time and went on our way. He told us, "I would say God bless you, but I can't because you are going to hell and you are dragging others down with you." Isn't that crazy? Everyone was coming up to us afterwards and thanking us for being so kind and patient. We even had a girl ask us if she could give us a hug. It was cool to see that the gospel of kindness (which is essential the gospel of Jesus Christ) can be spread so easily simply through example. It was a good experience and really it was nothing we did because it would have been so easy to get angry, but the spirit helped us completely address the situation. We had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and give out a few pamphlets and cards. It was a blessing in disguise.

We had some really good lessons with S this week as well. On Thursday we had a our Ward mission leader come with us and that was awesome. He was able to interact with S in a different way than we were and it turned out to be exactly what needed to happen. He had a few more questions and we testified to him that the way that all these questions and concerns could be resolved was through reading the Book of Mormon and praying to ask if Joseph Smith was a prophet. he agreed that was the only way to find out and he was all in. We invited him to be baptized and this was his answer "If I find out this is true I will get baptized, wait a year to go to the temple and then pack my bags for two years to serve a mission." He is so sincere, wants to know the truth and simply wants to serve God the best he can. It has been an amazing experience working with him. I really like your advice too dad about working with the ward members more closely and I think that is something that we can try doing. 

I will end with a few pictures. I love you guys so much and I hope you guys a have a great week.

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

PS President and Sister Hansen invited us over for dinner on Wednesday and that was awesome to be able to get to know them on a more personal level. I love them a lot. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Things are going really well with Elder White...

Dear Family,

CONGRATULATIONS HALEY AND JORDAN!!!! You is having you a little girl. That is so exciting and to tell you the truth I really don't know what to say. Haha I have been telling everybody down here though. Yeah Yeah!

I loved those pictures of you guys when you were little Dad. I think one of my favorites was the one with guys holding up the Star Trek poster things haha. I just thought it was really funny and that is something I could see Taylor and I doing. Those are some pretty fun pictures and maybe that one with Uncle Stan can be my first instagram post when I get home... #sharegoodness

Things are going really well with Elder White. We are good friends and we are able to just joke around and it makes it easy to shrug off things that could make life a little more stressful. It is always a blessing to have a companion that you are friends with because then you are able to put all your focus on the work and that in turn builds even more unity. That is definitely a huge blessing because lately things have been kinda tough. The work has been pretty slow and it has been kinda hard to keep my focus on missionary work all the time. We have so much time, that it is hard not to let thinking of home take some of it up. Maybe I just don't really feel like I am doing a lot of missionary things right now and so it is hard to feel like a missionary. But then I feel bad because I want to be able to be doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do and I feel like I would have more opportunity to do that in a different area or back home or something haha. I am grateful for this experience though because I am learning a ton about what I really want and how I can improve. I know too that this is the best way that I can learn these lessons and I when I look back at this experience that I will recognize how far we have actually come. And then there are those little experiences, the tender mercies everyday that just help you remember what is really important. That contrast has been a huge blessing to observe. There is a quote that says some thing like this. "You never know how hard the wind is really blowing until you try to walk against it." So even though it might be hard that is what is going to make us stronger. We can't control all of our circumstances, but we can control how we react to them and that is what defines our character.

Elder White and I wrote a song about Football and Tailgating. We were at a members house this last Saturday for a little BBQ and while we were there his roommates family showed up to go to the game. We played our little song for them and the next thing we knew they were offering to buy us tickets haha. So Elder White and I had permission and were able to go to an LSU football game this last saturday. It was definitely something that I have never experienced. You never really know how much people love football until you come to Tiger Stadium during football season haha it is crazy. It was an exciting atmosphere and I am grateful that we were able to do that. I'll send some pictures.

Here is one more funny little thing and then I will share a cool story. So we found out yesterday that the number that we having been passing out for the last month to people has been wrong this entire time. We had our number printed on the back of our phone and it was off a couple numbers haha. At first we were pretty frustrated because all the Book of Mormon's, pass-along cards and pamphlets that we passed out had a wrong number on it and so none of those people could contact us, which is really sad. But we know that it is going to work out and we are just going to find those people again!

So this next story is really cool. We told you about S, the kid who came up to us one day on campus and wanted to come to church.  He came to institute this week too and he loved it. That day we set up a lesson with him for Thursday and he was looking forward to being able to ask us some questions about the church. And at this point we thought he was just a less-active member. He told us that his family had started leaving the church when he was fairly young and he was never actually baptized a member of the church. His dad served a mission, but now they are all pretty against the church. So that makes it tough because naturally he has grown up (and he admits) that much of what his parents taught him he believed cause that is all he knew. So during our lesson he had tons of questions about our beliefs and doctrines and how they are in harmony with Christ's teachings. The main topics of his questions last lesson were about the Apostasy, why and if it really happened, Eternal progression, Grace and Temples. He is a very honest seeker of truth and at first glance it would be easy to mistake his questions as skeptical, but really they are very sincere and he just wants to know for himself. It was a humbling experience for me. Sam is a very intellectual and logical person and so when he would ask questions at first I was trying to answer him in a more logical way, but I quickly recognized that when I did there would be a flaw in my logic. Haha I thought that I could take a smart way out, but I can promise that the best way is to wait and listen to the spirit. That will work everytime. Elder White was doing really well this entire time and he was just listening to his concerns and addressing them simple. You always learn how to be a better missionary and those situations are tender mercies because they teach you that. So rather than trying to explain, we just testified. He still has a lot of questions, but I know that he will find his answers because he is genuinely looking for the truth. Heavenly Father is going to help him and us as we all grow closer to Him and and His Son. When we were talking about Temples though he said something really cool. (This part is mostly for you guys) He said "I forgot how I felt when I saw the temple. I don't know if this is weird or spooky, but every time that I see it I feel happy and peaceful. I have a longing to go there and I don't know why because I am don't even know if I really believe that it is true." As soon as he said that the spirit entered into the room. I know that the Temple is the house of the Lord and we can feel close to him there. I know that we can be sealed with our families there and that gives us the opportunity to live with them for eternity. I know that this was made possible by the Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Christ led that Restoration and still is today. I know that this is the that Gospel that Christ brought back and it includes all of the saving ordinances that will allow us to live with our Father in Heaven. How cool is it that we have that knowledge! The world is so crazy, but no matter what happens we can hold onto our testimony. I know that Sam is going to receive his answers because the spirit is already in his life leading him to the truth every day. I'll keep you updated!

I want to let you guys know how much that I love y'all. 

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Soper

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This has been kind of a crazy week...

Dear Fambly, 

Well Mom you were definitely inspired when you sent those tips on how to be more effective at learning. I have been struggling a little bit lately with having meaningful and productive studies every morning and I was wondering somethings that I could do to get a little bit better. So that helped. I think I get worried sometimes that I have to get something out of the scriptures every time I read and that reminded me that sometimes I can just read the scriptures purely for the sake that I love them. And it turns out that when I did that I started getting more out of it anyways haha. Funny how that works. Thanks for sending those.

That is funny that Sister Sant sent you a little message. It was funny, after a Zone meeting we all went out to lunch and when we got there I saw Sister Jackson, a member from the Plaquemine Branch, that I knew really well. So we talked for a little while and she was there with her friend who knows you guys. She said," Oh my gosh, I know your dad and Lisa. I even know Stan and Wendy from pioneer trek." Little connections everywhere. 

That is crazy that Emma's birthday is coming up. Time is really flying by. I don't have a ton of time today, sorry We went to Costco with a member today and then we are getting picked up by some missionaries soon. That was a blessing though we bought some stuff and bulk and I think we won't be starving anytime soon. We bought that huge thing of pancake mix and we are pretty sure that will be feeding missionaries in that apartment into next year.

This has been kind of a crazy week. And even after a few weeks it is still taking some adjusting too. We have definitely seen some really cool miracles since we have been here, but at the same time all the time in between there has been hard to fill up. Sometimes feels like we aren't missionaries, just because we don't do a lot of missionary things all the time. I am slowly coming out of that attitude, because we are fulfilling our purpose in other ways and I have to remember that we are still trying to get the area started for Elders. And when I think about that or tell people about how sometime it is difficult, I am immediately reminded of some of the tender mercies that we have haha so here are a few. 

Wednesday was probably one of the coolest days of my mission, not in terms of any huge miracles happening, but being able to see the scripture "through small and simple things, great things come to pass " come true. So we made a goal that we were going to pass out 10 Book of Mormons that day. So we filled up my bag and went on our way. When we got on campus there were tons of people around for the club kick offs. So there were just people everywhere. We were able to talk to some people and one guy even came up to us and asked if he could come to our activities. We were able to carry one woman's stuff to her car for her and she gave us free sunglasses. And then there was a guy who wanted a picture with us because we were Mormon. During all of these opportunities we were able to pass out Book of Mormon's. We kept on going, knocking on doors and talking to people on the bus. We even had a miracle where we found a Spanish Book of Mormon in the Zone Leaders car when we were talking to a spanish family while getting some dinner. By the end of the day we were able to pass out 16 Books. It was cool to see Heavenly Fathers hand in that. At the end of the day we had a lesson with a recent convert named Kyle and that was the strongest I have felt the spirit in a long time. We talked about the plan of Salvation. We ended up talking about how we know and love a lot of people from the pre-existence. My testimony also grew in the atonement on how real it is. Christ loves us so much. 

Hey I gotta run, the missionaries are here to pick us up. I will send some pictures next week.

I love yall,

Elder Soper

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's a small world out here...

Dear Familia,

I couldn't believe that it was already Labor Day, my favorite holiday ;), already haha. It seems like the time is flying by a little too fast. I'm glad that you guys had such a good weekend though. Hanging out in Spring City, making a little money, eating a little food. Good times. 

It's a small world out here. It has been fun to see all the little connections since we have been here. We met Kristina, she was one of your former students and then I also got to see Jack Mallard on campus. He was telling me about how you wrote him an acceptance letter to get into the PhD program here, and we just caught up a little bit. There is also a guy in our Singles ward name Bret and he asked me if I knew a Natalie Soper. I said I indeed know one of them and it is my cousin. It turns out that they knew each other back at BYU. Pretty cool huh. I guess the Sopers are famous or something. 

Shoot I am sorry that we got the wrong address to you. Hopefully it all works out. Maybe someone needed that little package and letters a little more this week haha.

That is cool that Sister Hansen said that. I have been really grateful that I have gotten to know them and that they get to lead the mission. Yeah I heard about that story, but only little details. So it was fun to read it all. I actually know that missionary and we are pretty good friends and he is such a cool guy. 

Well we have to get going pretty soon since we didn't have as much time to email this week. But I will send one more cool story that happened this week. 

So on Friday all of our appointments fell through and we were heading home on the bus for dinner break and both Elder White and I had the prompting to talk to this guy sitting across from us. Elder White acted on it and we just started a simple conversation with him. His name is Spock and he is from China. We were able to share with him a little bit about what we do, who Christ is and what he means to us and we were even able to give him a Book of Mormon. It was cool to see how grateful he was when we gave it to him. He kept expressing his gratitude to us for sharing it with him. We were feeling kind of bold at this point so we started talking to another person on the bus and the woman sitting next to us. We quickly found out that this girl had met missionaries before and it had only been the night before. She met the sisters on the bus the just one day earlier and we were able to follow up with her. How cool is that? We gave her a Book of Mormon and she read the introduction right there while riding on the bus. The Sisters are hopefully going to be able to teach her soon. Students here are definitely a lot more curious and willing to learn. It makes it tough with the proselyting restrictions (we can't actively do that) But we can just talk to anyone we want and get to know them. Almost everytime though someone asks us what we are doing. Campus is very eclectic though with people from all over, with different personalities and different interests. I am learning a lot as we go and we are making a lot of new friends. Next week I will talk a little bit more about how our days go and what we do, give you a good picture of work on LSU campus.

I love you guys! Hope you have a great week.


Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I went back to college and am serving on LSU campus haha...

Good Morning!

Photo that one of Natalie Soper's friends took of Devin at the LSU institute

So I never thought I would be serving in this area, but I am excited. I went back to college and am serving on LSU campus haha. It is definitely different than any other area that I have served in first because the proselyting rules are different and then second, everybody is our same age. It has been a huge transition because Elder White and I got doubled in to open the area for Elders, so we didn't have much to go off to get our head above water. But that has been kind of fun starting from scratch and just working hard. But you are right, becuase I have a good companion the whole experience will be positive no matter what happens. There are a pair of LSU sister that know what is going on though, so that has been a tender mercy to work with them. And we work withe YSA ward really closely and they definitely have it figured out in terms of fellowshipping and being examples of Christ.  But so far we have done a lot of walking, sweating and talking to anyone that we can. 

Elder White is a good guy. He has been out on his mission for about 17 months and he is from Thatcher Arizona. He has a funny sense of humor and is a hard worker. I lucked out again with companions and I think we are going to see a lot of cool miracles this transfer. We kinda feel like we are re-learning how to do missionary work. It has required us to be creative in the ways that we contact and especially gets us out of our comfort zone. And this has only been in the first few days! School just barely started today and so there are tons of people walking around Campus, I'll let you know how that goes and keep a count of how many weird looks that we get. The second day we got here we were waiting for some of the YSA's  on the big fields by the student building and we saw this guy doing a bunch of back flips and karate kid moves. Well lucky for us Elder White did some gymnastics/hardcore parkour back home and so we decided to go talk to him. He taught Elder White a few new things and they just talked about how to do some of the tricks. So for the next 30 minutes he and Jared (the guy) were doing tricks out in the field. We got his info and he said that we could come back to hang out with him. Right before we left to he asked what we were doing (those are the magic words, because if somebody asks what we are doing we are aloud to share.) So we just told him a little bit about what we do as missionaries and quickly bore our testimonies. It was a cool experience. 

Yeah it feels weird, but has been a blessing to be a district leader again. My personal studies have been a lot more focused and I remembered how much I love being able to be more involved with missionaries on a personal level. If you ever have any fun ideas that I could use for meetings that would be awesome. I just want everybody to be able to look back on this transfer and remember that they were happy and loved their missions. Hey could y'all send me some funny cheesy jokes to use haha? A little somthin somthin to break the ice. 

Yeah I hope that everything continues to run smoothly transitioning from the summer to the full school, soccer, work schedule. I am going to make a predicition...Taylor will be voted class clown. Now we will wait haha. Dad do you remember a Kristina Gibby? She graduated from the humanities program at BYU and she is here at LSU doing her PhD in Comparative Literature. She came up to us yesterday and was talking about how she knew you and she also knows Auntie Kare. Haha small world huh? Little tender mercy right there. 

Well I am going to share two more cool stories. So Elder White and I got here on the first day and we had no idea what we should do. The sisters called us and said that the Ward was having a temple trip that night and we were invited. So we were able to go do an endowment session and that in it self was a blessing to be able to start the transfer off with that. I love the temple and the feeling of peace that it brings. It is a break from the stresses of the world and it is a reminder of what is really important in this life. After the temple we were driving home with some of the members, Zach and Stefan or "Zefan" for short and we asked if we could stop by Walmart to pick up a few things. Oh I forgot to tell you that my other dream came true, we are in a bike area! We get to walk, bike and ride the bus everywhere we go. I have wanted to be in an area like that my entire mission and I got all three in one. But zefan took us to walmart and we put the essentials in the cart, frosted mini-wheats, milk, eggs, toilet paper etc. When we got to the check out Stefan started taking the stuff out of our cart and said "Well we aren't too good about feeding yall here in the singles ward, but we can buy you cereal!" He bought our groceries for us. That was a miracle mostly because of just knowing that we already had a friend in the ward. 

The next day we were walking to Walmart to get a few more things and as we were walking back a guy stopped us in the parking lot and told us that he knew we had limited funds and asked if he could buy us lunch. He gave us a ride back to our apartment and then took us out to get a burrito. His name was Adam and he is a PhD student here at LSU. He isn't a member but he said that he really respects that we sacrifice to share what we believe. He isn't a religious guy, but he just asked all about our missions. That was a sweet miracle that we weren't expecting. It just grew my testimony in the fact that Heavenly Father knows the details of our lives. He loves us so much and he sends people to answer our prayers.

I love you guys so much and I hope you have a great week. 

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Soper

Sunday, August 24, 2014

So I am getting transferred...

Dear Y'all,

I can't believe how fast everything is moving, school has already started, soccer is in full swing and BYU starting up again. That was really fun to get the updates on how the Adidas tournament went. It sounds like they were pretty exciting games. I am looking forward to hearing about how the season goes. I bet both teams wil thrive this year. (Maybe it will take Emma's until next season just because of the injuries, but it'll work out.) I read this story in the Ensign or New era or something about a high school Hockey player. He said that in their very first game he shattered his arm and there was nope hope for him to play that season. He said that at first he was really bitter and kind of frustrated that his plans were messed up. A couple weeks later his coach brought him into his office and said something like this."You know it would be great to have you on the ice this season, we could really use you. But Heavenly Father needs you to do and learn something else this season." After that he chose to make the most of that year and he said he learned how to be more like Christ. Cool story.

So I am getting transferred this go around. It is kind of sad that I will be leaving all of these people that I have come to love and to leave a great companion. But I know that is what I need to continue to move forward. I am not sure where I am going to be going, but I am going to be a District Leader. Haha to be honest at first my pride was a little hurt cause I was thinking "Shoot, maybe I messed up at being a zone leader." But then as I was praying I realized that wasn't right and Heavenly Father was very proud of all that I did here in Opelousas and with the other missionaries. Haha maybe that sounds prideful too, but I just am happy to know that I was able to do his will. In reality the people here and the missionaries helped shape into who I am, so I received much more than I gave for sure. I know that this is what I need to move forward and become better. So it will be cool to see what happens and the challenges and experiences that are coming up. 

Elder King and I really had an awesome transfer. There were some hard times, but there were so many more good, funny and happy times. I am grateful for all of them, becuase they made Elder King and I really good friends. It is cool how even the trials in our life are a blessing if we want them to be. That is hard though haha, but it is possible. This last Sunday was pretty amazing. We had invited R. to come to church earlier in the week and was super excited to join us. We got everything set up for a ride and R. got to come to Church this week. It was a huge blessing to have him there and everyone in the ward felt that as well. Everyone was coming up to him introducing themselves and saying positive things to him. I got to give a talk to and so it was cool to have R. to be there. What a cool thing to have for my last Sunday there and he loved it! He wants to come back this next week with D., so there are some really good things happening right now. I love those guys a lot. It has grown my testimony so much to see how the Gospel changes peoples lives. There are spiritual as well as physical, mental and emotional effects (improvements really) that come when the spirit is in your life. I think it is because when we read the Book of Mormon, pray and come to Church we become more like our Savior and that improves us in every way. 

We had another cool and slightly bizarre experience this week. So we were pretty sure that I was leaving this week and so we started saying goodbye to people. We went by Earnest and Anna's to get a picture, share a message and say bye. While we were sitting there Earnest said, "This just came to me, but would yall be alright if I lay hands on you?" So we said sure. He came up and put one hand on each of our heads and said essentially a prayer of protection. We got a little taste of what it is like when we offer blessings to people who have never experienced them before haha. It was really cool though, he didn't claim any priesthood and it was just a sincere and very heartfelt prayer to Heavenly Father to watch over us. It was genuine and the spirit was still there. It was a memorable experience and I will always respect Earnest for offering that to us. It is interesting to see that people aren't that far off from what we believe and I have a feeling that they will become members some day. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met and they said that they want to meet you guys too.

I am grateful to be a missionary. It has changed my life. Being able to share the most important message in the world  everyday is pretty cool! When we share the Gospel, we don't just invite people to learn about Christ, but we walk with them closer to Him. That is a huge blessing. I know that this is the Lord's work and we are all a part of it. He is really proud of us. 

I better get going, but I am going to send some pictures, maybe even some real life photos too! I love you guys so much.


Elder Devin The Soper

Everything is up in the air...


Elder Herbert and I

Thank you so much for the letters this week, they definitely helped during a time that I needed it. So the next transfer is next week and everything is up in the air. I think there is a good chance that I move, but at the same time I am not really sure. You hit it right on the head. I love being with Elder King and I hope we get one more together. But at the same time I feel like I might need something new just to help me grow some more. It will be interesting to see what happens. Could be my final area coming up...aye aye aye Zordon!

It is hard to believe that life is starting to get back to normal and that school is starting up again so soon. I am looking forward to seeing how Emma and Taylor's soccer seasons go. It is so interesting to observe life progressing forward when life seems to be seemingly static on a mission. It goes really fast, but it feels like it is one eternal round, that it will just never end. Haha that sounds kind of negative, but I just mean to say that I have gotten really used to it. Missionary life is seems so normal now, it is just the way that my life is and I love it. Haha it doesn't make me trunky to get fun stories or pictures, I like seeing those each week. Maybe I am in denial haha but I really don't think that they make it harder. 

So I got a letter from President Hansen today asking me what causes the ups and downs of missionary work and how we can keep the good consistent and try to make the lows less frequent. I think that I am still learning this lesson but I a few days I had an experience that helped me understand just a little deeper on why the things are the way they are. So I was feeling really depressed on Saturday. I just could feel the weight of expectation both from myself, from the ward, from my Leaders and even what I felt from Heavenly Father. I was worried about how the work was going and if I really was doing all that I could. I was even mad at myself for being depressed because I knew that I shouldn't be haha. To be honest it was probably the most discouraged I have been on my mission and it was hard to motivate myself to even get going. It felt like all the bricks and burdens from the past 20 months was bearing me down and there was no way I could find my way out from under them. It is hard to break out of negativity when it is all around you, but I just felt like we needed to get out of the apartment and start working or things wouldn't get any better. So we went and visited a member and that did help a little bit, but the negativity was still there. I had no idea what to do and but as we were driving home, I wasn't sure why, but I turned into a random neighborhood, had a little burst of energy and felt like we just had to start knocking. I never wanted to tell people so badly about the blessing of the gospel than at that time because at the same time I needed to remind myself of them as well. So for about the next 2 hours we just talked to everyone we could in that neighborhood. We asked people about how God has been in there life and how they have felt the Saviors love. We shared our testimonies of how faith and hope can change your life in simple ways that will effect you for eternity. We shared the reality of eternal families and how we can enjoy many of those blessings even in this life. Although nobody let us into their homes, I am confident that the spirit touched peoples hearts  including mine. During that time I made the decision that even though life can be really stinky sometimes, that it is not fun to feel that way too. You don't have to let your circumstances control, we are God's children and we have the ability to control how we respond and how we feel. So the happiness and peace that I felt in contrast to the sadness and discouragement that I could have chose to feel made a big impact on the way that I perceive challenges now. There is a quote that says something to the effect of, "During life there is both an abundance and lack of abundance of happiness that occurs simultaneously, the one that we have in our life is a result of our choice to receive it." I made up about half of that haha but it still sounds pretty good. It is so true though, agency is the greatest gift in the world becuase it gives us the ability to choose who we are, how we feel, what we do and who we will become. We can choose to be a bummed out or in the same situation we can choose to have fun. I want to always choose the latter!  The highs in life come when we find joy in the journey, (in the whole journey which includes the good and the bad) and when we lose ourselves, forget our will and strive to follow God's. The lows in life come when we dwell on the our past or look so far ahead that we forget where we are going, essentially when we bog ourselves down with personal worries. One comes from selflessness and one comes from selfishness. Peace is a result of humility and discouragement is a result of pride. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but I have been letting my pride blind my vision and that is what has made me have a hard time. I am not saying that once we make the choice to be happy that we will never feel down again, but I do think that if we make the choice to be happy the highs in life will be sweeter and the lows will happen less frequently or will be shorter. This week has changed my mission a lot past, present and future. I know now that Heavenly Father is so proud of me for working hard, trying to become better and try to love those that I have been blessed to have come into my life. My mission has changed my life and has begun to shape who I want to become because I have allowed to let God into my life to influence me. I love being a missionary, I love so much that I have had the opportunity to share this Gospel that changes lives, allows families to be together forever and really brings a happiness that cannot be counterfeited. I know that God loves us, I know the Atonement is real and we can change to improve ourselves daily. I know that the Book of Mormon brings the spirit every time you read it.(even when you might not understand it haha) I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for the sacrifices that he made to help this church because it has blessed me with an awesome family, who are my best friends, good friends that I have made and the knowledge that it can last forever. That is pretty cool! I want yall to know how much I love you and can't wait to see you again. I hope you have an awesome week!

One more thing: So there is a new development in my maturity. Personality is still the same...but the facial hair is coming! So I have a few more whiskers on my chinny chinny chin chin. But the funniest thing was at MLC this week. President Hansen came up to say goodbye to me and it ended up being a sort of awkward neck hug haha but then he asked me "Elder Soper, are you growing a mustache." At this point I got the feeling that he had been looking at my upper lip all day wondering if I had shaved and in fact I did. But I also had a 5 o'clock shadow only where a mustache would grow. Haha I thoguht that was pretty funny and I thought you might think so too. I love you guys a lot!

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Thebin Soper