Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The people here (in Opelousas) are really friendly and loving...


That is so cool that you already got in touch with Elder Bracken's family. We both thought that was really cool that Adrian texted y'all and it ended up getting you guys in touch. I was excited to hear all of the cool things about Opelousas that you guys looked up too. Opelousas is about the same size as Thibodaux, but it feels different, it is a lot more country. But the people there are really friendly and loving. Also like you said, they love music and I guess we are really good friends with a couple local rappers that do Christian rap. I am going to get some CD's soon. We serve in a Branch here, but pretty soon it is going to become a ward. I think we have about 70+ members that attend each Sunday and it is a melting pot of people. It is already so much fun! It is interesting because there are some very wealthy people here in this area, but at the same time Opelousas itself is quite poor. It is an interesting dynamic and it causes each day to be drastically different than the one before. It is also a challenge since our area is so large. The whole thing is about 1600 square miles and we live at the bottom of it in Lafayette. We do have a lot of work here in the Carencro area, but we will go up to Opelousas about 2 or 3 times a week. It is definitely different and I am still learning a lot more about the people and the area. In reality I really don't know anything haha. Baby steps while learning. 

I had to give a talk yesterday on the benefits of adhering to the prophet and it actually went really well. It was the least nervous I ever have been to give a talk and I only wrote down a few bullet points. I think the difference between this one and my train wreck talk as a youth...was I prepared for this one. I took a lot of time to ponder and think about what it meant to me and what I could say. That gave something for the spirit to work with. It was fun though and I got a couple good laughs (making fun of yourself does wonders.) I shared that story of when we went to moon lake for scouts and I we had to take that huge detour hike to get back to the camp after fishing and I did the whole thing barefoot since I brought a bad pair of shoes. All of the scouts had to take the same path and go over the same bumps and thorns, but they were protected because they listened to the counsel of our leaders. I, on the other hand, didn't listen as well and my feet ended up hurting a lot haha. I am looking forward to hearing about Taylor's talk as well. 

This has definitely been a big learning curve and it has been a little bit stressful. I still haven't been able to unpack yet because we are just always moving haha. I am sure it will happen soon though. The week really has been a whirlwind though, with trying to meet new people, getting to know the area, preparing district meeting, getting to know the district, preparing my talk etc. the easiest thing though has been adjusting to a new companion. I feel really lucky and blessed to have another good companion. Elder Bracken is a super nice guy and has a gift to be able to love people unconditionally. He sincerely loves everyone around him. He came on his mission right out of high school and so he is still 18 years old.  He isn't super confident in his abilities as a missionary (in the past he hasn't been able to have an active role in his companionship) but he knows and has a testimony of the simple and precious truths of the gospel. We are quickly becoming good friends and I hope that we get to stay companions for awhile. I think it would be good for the both of us to serve together for awhile. He is very different form Elder Bennett, but it is cool to see how Heavenly Father will put you with people that will help you grow and that you can learn from. I have been extremely blessed to have to awesome companions in a row. 

Speaking of Elder Bennett and Thibodaux, C. got baptized this week! He called me on Saturday to talk to me for a little bit and I was able to catch up with L. and Elder Bennett as well. He sounded really happy and excited to have taken that step in his life. Elder Bennett is doing well. His new companion is one of the missionaries in his district from the MTC, so they are both youngins. They will do a good job though, Thibodaux has been left in good hands. 

 Haha that is so funny about the whole thing that happened with Adrian. I was laughing pretty hard when he had told us what happened and I wrote it down in my journal. The funniest part I think is that I knew that I probably would have done the same thing. They are a really cool family. They have two sons, Dominic and Jullian. They are 14 and 10 I think, I could be wrong though. They are both really athletic and Dominic loves soccer. They actually have a full sized soccer goal in their yard, so we are going to go over and play with them soon. 

We have a new branch mission leader and he is awesome. His name is Brother Freebairn (pronounced freebarin), he is from Hawaii and went to Provo on his mission. He isn't Polynesian, but you can tell that he grew up in Hawaii cause he is super laid back. He and his wife have tons and tons of faith though. They moved to Louisiana 6 months ago and how they ended up getting here is pretty crazy. They felt like they need to leave hawaii and so they prayed about where they needed to go and they felt like they needed to come to Louisiana where sister Freebairn's family lives. So they packed 6 suitcases, got a ticket and came. They didn't have a house, he didn't have a job set up and they had no mode of transportation. Well in a matter of 6 months, they were able to find a house, he got a really good job working offshore as an electrician and the mission was able to sell them a car. Isn't that amazing. They came with nothing and the Lord blessed them with everything that they needed. They also have two little kids, Esak who is about 3 and then a new born baby. They are so cute and funny though. Esak ( I am not sure how to spell his name) is learning both spanish and english (Sister Freebairn is hispanic) and so right now he just makes funny little grunting noises. They are such a cool family though and we are going to be able to spend a lot of time with them now that he is our branch mission leader. 

So in district meeting we took most of the time to just get to know each other. We did best, worst and weirdest and then we all shared our most embarrassing moments. That was so much fun and everybody was laughing pretty hard. I was able to pull out my choo choo buns story and I was immediately nicknamed "Train Tracks" Haha the Sisters in our area actually made Elder Bracken and I T-shirts and on the back mine says "Train Tracks" His says " Dirty Brock" in purple cursive letters on a bright pink shirt. The Sisters like to tease him haha. But my main goal for being a district leader is to help people feel of the love that Heavenly Father loves for them. I want them to feel loved, appreciated and most of all happy. I know that if we are happy, that if we love our missions, and if we love the people, essentially if we understand the why of the things we do, the what and how we do it will fall into place by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. So our goal is to be happy. I already love them a lot. Do you have any advice or ideas for being a new district leader Dad, or Jordan, or anybody else? It takes up a lot of your time, but it is good because love is spelled T. I. M. E. 

I am still learning a lot more about the area and I am excited to let you guys know more about what is going on down here. I already love it a lot and I feel very blessed to be in a good area, with a good companion and a fun district. I am happy.

I have heard that before about the 10,000 hours to master something before. I think that is definitely true. The more time you spend with some the more natural it becomes and there are probably  spiritual, psychological and physical things going on there. The more time we spend on something the synapses in our brain naturally form links and our ability to do it increases. As we take time to refine a skill our body and our muscles become accustomed to certain movements and motions and it becomes muscle memory. And then just like the parable of the talents, as we develop them and seek for Heavenly Father's help, he will bless us with more. So with 10,000 hours of doing all of that will really pay off. I bet you have done more than 4000 hours. I have probably done not even close to 2000 with the guitar in the last couple of years and so I have a lot of ground to make up. But it is kind of fun to think about being able to focus on a hobby and get better at doing it. 

I am still a little jealous of Haley and Jordan in Hawaii... but I am gald that they are having a lot of fun. They sent me some cool pictures and I am looking forward to seeing some more. Haha that is funny that they saw Ethan... it is a good thing they weren't Charlie, or he might have tried to kill them... That is cool that Emma was able to take her boots off. Is she doing better? And that was fun to see the pictures of the things going on with yall. Taylor has got some good hair going right now and emma is getting really tall... 

Well I will end with a little exerpt from my President Letter,

This last week I was thinking a lot about the love that Heavenly Father has for us and how much he really does know us. In Alma 26 Ammon is reminiscing about the great success and the blessings they had as missionaries to the Lamanites. He explains the love of God to his brothers this way in verse 37:

Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

He tells us that God understands us, that he knows each of us by name, it doesn't matter who we are, where were from or what our background is, He loves us. President Monson said in the past General Relief Society meeting : "Heavenly Father loves you--each of you. That love never changes." I know that is true. That is the first thing that we teach to people, God is our loving Heavenly Father. It is a simple doctrine with so much meaning and power, but everything can be traced back to it. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father and we can see it everyday as we love, serve and teach those around us.

Let me know if you want me to include anymore stuff in the emails. Oh and here is the address. 

1300 Pont Des Mouton Rd. Apt. D 107
Lafayette, LA 70507

 I love you guys! Have a great week.

Prayers and thoughts always,


Elder Devin Soper

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