Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Our mission had a snow day this week!

Dear Familia,

Well the title of the email is surprisingly true. Our mission had a snow day this week! Can you believe it? The roads completely iced over, there was snow/ice on the ground and the weather was below freezing. In fact the conditions were so bad, that we weren't allowed to drive. I guess this kind of weather hasn't happened in years... my prayers were answered ( I was missing snow and I think I prayed for a white winter. oops haha). Despite the weather conditions we still saw some miracles. On Tuesday Elder Bracken and I really felt like getting out and walking to the Baudoin's house since we couldn't drive. On the way we had a little bit of an adventure but we came across a woman who was having difficulty defrosting her car. Her heater was broken and her car was full of groceries. So Elder Bracken and I found another use for missionary tags...they turn out to be pretty good ice scrapers. So for the next half hour we helped her get her car in driving condition and she was asking us questions about what we did. She told us that we were literally "God sent". In a way we were, the spirit led us there because Heavenly Father knew that she needed help. Doesn't that show how much that he really loves her and us? We had the opportunity to share the Book of Mormon with her and we bore our testimony. She took the book and she said "This is exactly what I need right now." Pretty cool! We are going to get back with her this week. We made it the Boudoin's after walking through a field, jumping over a canal and having a blast on the way there. They made us some herbal tea and they had made homemade chicken noodle soup. It was a good day. 

This area is definitely different in terms of geography and culture, but we are going to be able to use all of the resources that we have been given. We are planning on someday where we can ride our bikes to save a few miles. (That is something that our branch president wants us to do.) And I have been able to listen to some Zydeco music yesterday. It is pretty cool and has an old timey feel with acordians, banjo's, guitar and raw singing. We are good friends with a lot of local rappers as well and they do a lot of gospel rap too haha. It is actually pretty good and they have really good messages. Their rap names are, Father Lo "The Coach", CRG, Mouthpiece and Gorilla Boy. CRG's real name is A. and he is a member. He is probably one of the nicest, most genuine and personable people that I have ever met. His circumstances aren't great, but he is happy and working hard to provide a good life for his girlfriend, K.,  and new baby.

This really has been a crazy week though. With the combination of being a new district leader, the weather and one of the members of the branch passing away. We spent a lot of time at the hospital this week because Brother Bob Prescott had a massive stroke and brain hemorrhage. He was on life support and was in a coma. ( He was in his 70's). It was a tough to see his wife sitting at his side holding his hand and comforting him. But it was also a faith promoting thing to see her encouraging him to move on to paradise once they took him off life support, because all she wanted was for him to be happy. There is not a sweeter, cuter or more faithful lady than Sister Prescott. It was hard not to cry, but it was a unique spiritual experience. I know that the Plan of Salvation is real. 

 We had some really cool experiences this week too with teaching and finding. We went with the sisters to have dinner with this family from Nigeria and it was so much fun. They made us traditional Nigerian food and their little boys were hilarious. I want to share a couple things that they said.

 Chimobi asked "Do you speak Nigerian?" our response "No, we don't" pondering he says " it because your not brown?" haha. 

They asked Elder Bracken to flex and then Chimobi started flexing and exclaimed "Hey! Feel my muckles!" 

They were really cute kids haha, I will send some pictures. 

This week we went to Villeplate, where they make Slap Ya Mama's and visited the S. family. They are really cool and fun to be around. We spent most of the day with Bro. S. and his granddaughters. The girls family doesn't have very much stability, except for their grandparents and we feel like we just need to spend time with the whole family and be their friends. That was a really fun day and we were able to go teach a family with Brother S. as well. That in itself was a mini miracle. It was a good day.

Saturday was also a miracle and everything just seemed to fall into place. We were able to see a lot of people and find a couple potential investigators. One thing we did was play basketball.
 Elder Bracken and I have been wanting to go play basketball with some people in a park if we ever see it and we did this last Saturday. I am sure we looked a little odd, but when don't we?  We were the only white guys in the whole park.  They invited us to play and we played 4 on 4 with a couple guys. We really didn't play very well, but during the whole game they were asking questions and teasing us a little bit. They were amazed that we were still virgins haha.  We were able to create a good report with them and were able to laugh with them. After the game we asked them if we could say a prayer and share a scripture with them and a group of them said yes. So we grabbed a couple Book or Mormon's and had a little lesson on our Savior Jesus Christ. They asked a lot of questions on why we do what we do and that gave us an opportunity to bear testimony and promise blessings. It was really cool and a lot of fun. 

Being a district leader is definitely coming with its challenges and it is pushing me a lot. I took your advice to be more like Mary than Martha and care more about the people rather than stress about protocol. I think that has helped a lot and we are coming close together as a district. I don't think this last district meeting was as fun as the last one since it was more straight forward. We still did best worst and weirdest, but for a large portion we brainstormed ideas that we could do to make district meeting a fun time, a productive time and a spiritual time. We came up with some good ideas and I think next week we are going to make valentines cards and cookies for members of the branches that we serve in. It should be fun. I have definitely seen some situations like you described Dad. People seem to have a hard time breaking lifestyles and really it is hard. It is impossible if we try to do it on our own, but it is more than possible if we do it with the help of Christ. I am learning too that you can't please everyone. There is a little misunderstanding between two members of the district right now and I can see where both of them are coming from. They both have valid points, but there are places where they can both compromise as well. It is interesting being the mediator and I can feel for you more as a Bishop now too. You really have to be in tune with the spirit and do what Heavenly Father wants, because that is what is best for everyone involved. You wish that sometimes that everything could just go smoothly and everybody could be happy, but these challenges bring us closer together and strengthen us in the end. I actually kind of enjoy it too in a way haha. The challenge is stressful and hard, but needed. 

Sorry that paragraph was kindof focused on "me." But thank you for listening! I will end with a little blurb from my email to President: 

One thing I am really trying to focus on this transfer is love and happiness (essentially having the spirit in our lives) and I have a little challenge in my mind for the district. In 4 Nephi the Nephites and Lamanites are doing really well in following the counsels of Christ and this is what it has to say about them in verses 15 and 16

15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

They had the love of God in their hearts and they were happy. In fact it says that "there could not be a happier people..." I think that we can reach that same state in our district, in our championships, in our zone and in our mission. Because of the love of God that is in the hearts of the missionaries in the Opelousas District or the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission, there surely "could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God." We can do it.

I love you guys so much and I am so grateful that you are happy and having fun. I lub ya lots!

Prayers and thoughts always,


Elder Devin Soper

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