Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras...

Dear Family,

Yeah its transfer week this week and it seems like time just keeps flying by. P-day is tomorrow, but we got permission to email today or wednesday since tomorrow is Mardi Gras and everything will get shut down. Crazy stuff!! I think a lot of the missionaries are planning on going to some parades tomorrow, so that should be fun. Haha most parades are family friendly, not too much of the worldly carnivalesque stuff from New Orleans. So we should come out of it without too many disturbing images burned into our brains. ( I already have many of those stored away in my brain from over my mission haha) But it is crazy that this transfer is already coming to a close. Haley reminded me that have just a little over 9 months left. That is not very much at all! I call you guys in May and then the next time I talk to you I will be at  home and you can witness for yourself the 17 new facial hairs that I grew. Haha funny side note. A little girl asked me the other day how old I was and I told her that I was 20 and she accepted that and then she asked, with much curiosity, "So when are you going to start growing hair on your face then?" I had to laugh and say "I don't know, maybe when I grow up." But it is crazy to think that time just keeps ticking. And it seems to be going faster every single day. This has been the fastest transfer yet. And we don't know if we will be transferred yet, we will find out later today, but I do have a feeling that we will get to stay together for one more. I will probably send you a quick note later in the week to let you know what is going on.

The church has produced a new manual (came out about 6 months ago) on how to cope with stress during missionary life. It is really good and has a lot of great ideas for physical, emotion, social and spiritual stresses. It is called "Adjusting to missionary life" They did a really good job with it. I also really appreciated your insights from that Elder Cook talk about bondage. I think sometimes that is the reason that we are or we get stressed out. When we feel unbalanced or we are neglecting important parts of our life, it can be stressful. It is important to always have the spirit with us and rely on the Lord because he will help us and he will comfort us.

I just wanted to respond really quickly to your testimony that you gave in church yesterday Dad. I am excited to read it in this upcoming letter, but I thought you would be interested to hear this. The area 70, Elder Bluth (Arrested Development) had a big meeting with all of the Stake Presidencies and missionary leadership through out Louisiana and they came up with goals to be able to coordinate the work. The Zone Leaders told me that one thing that Elder Bluth and the General Authorities want to see in the South is an increase in activity among the African Americans. Either it be through baptisms or reactivation. I remember you asking me if that announcement may have made made an impact and it is happening. Pretty cool.

It is just good to hear that things are going well right now. You guys are having fun with friends, you are enjoying being with family and the stresses of life have seemed to subside just a little bit. I am happy knowing that you are happy.

This has been a good week. We have been with the Freebairn's a lot and that is a good thing! We did service with them this week by helping them clean up their back yard. The guy they bought the house from had just put a cement slab in and left the huge mound of dirt just sitting in the back yard. We helped them shovel it and redistribute it around the yard. That was a lot of fun and we found a lot of cool treasures including: an old coffee thermos full of nasty water, a bungee cord, a lot of worms, a few lizards, 1 live toad, 1 dead toad and a nest of  3 baby moles. Haha I will send you some pictures. I really love that family a lot and we are so grateful to have him as our branch mission leader and Sister Freebairn in the young women's presidency, they do such a good job. We are blessed!

One family in the ward has a little business where they drive people down to the gulf for offshore work and we helped them this week move their office to their home. Their grandson is here and his name is Donny ( he is 19) and he is a funny funny guy. While everybody was at the other office packing stuff up we had the chance to hang out with Donny.  He is "good" at everything and he loves to demonstrate it for people. He can sing, dance, play instruments and does martial arts. He showed Elder Bracken how to do the "figure 4 leg lock" and some  other martial arts move. He also taught us how to do the wave through our body. He is actually a pretty nice guy when you get to know him and Elder Bracken and I enjoy being around him. But imagine how Taylor and I used to dance, that is pretty similar to what Elder Bracken and I were doing with Donny this week haha.

Two of our investigators, T. and H., came to church this week! I am not sure if I have told you about them. They are Eurick's neighbors and they are good friends with Eurick. Both T. and H. are really down to earth and spiritual people. They are very open minded and their faith is strong in Christ. It was so cool to have them at church and see everybody just welcome them right in and accept them into the branch family. They seemed to like it and said they want to come back.

Doing service as missionaries can be a lot of different things. For example it can be manual labor like moving furniture or doing yard work, but sometimes you get to walk peoples dogs and give them baths. Haha we did that this week for Patrick and it was cool to see how much that meant to him. I am not sure if I told you, but he has been put into a nursing home in Lafayette now and it has been hard for him. He is doing well, especially because he got the go ahead from the first presidency to go to the temple before he has been a member for a year. We are so excited for him!

To end I will share one cool story that happened this week. We went to go see C. and sadly that day she wasn't feeling up for meeting with us. I remembered that there was one boy that we met in that neighborhood earlier that said he wanted us to come by to meet his family, but I could not remember where he lived. I thought I remembered which building it was and there was a door that seemed like the one so we went for it. A girl about 15 answered the door and she seemed really excited to see us. We recognized her from the first time that we met with C. Her name is A. and she invited us to come in, she said that "Papa" was home and so that meant we could come in (cause there was a male) it turns out Papa is her cousin that is also 15 haha. We ended up having a really spiritual conversation with them and during the lesson her other brother C. came in who is 17, her Mom, got back from work and her other cousin , D. got home too.  We'll see them again soon.

I know that Heavenly Father loves us, we see it everyday. I know that he is our literal Father and he knows us perfectly. He cares for us so individually and he knows exactly what we need. What an awesome thing to know. He loves us a lot and I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to share that love with these people that we are meeting here in Louisiana. We are happy and things are good.

I love you guys!


Elder Devin Soper

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