Thursday, May 29, 2014

Well this transfer is getting changed up a little bit...

Dear Family,

Well this transfer is getting changed up a little bit, I am going to be staying in Opelousas. They are going to turn it into the Zone Leader area and Elder Bennett will be coming up here. I am really excited and I know we are going to be able to see a lot of miracles. It is going to be really good. 

This letter might be a little short just because things are crazy today with people packing and getting ready for transfers tomorrow, but I do have a lot of pictures for you today. 

This week we did a ton of biking! First I went on an exchange with Elder Jacildo down in Lafayette and we biked our little buns off. We had a ton of fun and we were able to see a lot of cool things. He is just finishing up his training and he is a good missionary. When I got back to Opelousas we biked some more because we were running really low on miles. Biking really does bring a lot of miracles and being outside just makes you feel good. We were able to bike to S. and have an aweseome lesson with the D's, a less-active part member family. We shared a Mormon Message about patience and then Sister D. was just talking about how true the church is. It was cool. I am looking forward to working with the family more this transfer. 

Okay so here is the story of the sad bear. (Funny he used bear because I am Brother Bear)

"There once was a sad bear. He walked into the nearby town and ran into his friend the inventor. The inventor asked, "Bear you look so sad. Why are you so sad?"

Bear said, "Well I..."

And the inventor said, "Oh I know why!!! You need some wings." So the inventor went to the back and grabbed his brand new pair of wings that he had been working on and he fitted bear with the wings. And bear was on his way. He continued on his way, still very sad and he ran into his friend the tailor. The Tailor saw how sad bear was and so he asked him, "Bear why are you so sad?" 

And bear began to say, "Well you know I..."

The Tailor exclaimed, "Oh I know! Even though you have those amazing wings, you need a beautiful hat." So he gave bear a beautiful black, silk hat. And bear continued on. He then came across the market and the vendor came and asked him why he was so sad even though he had wings and a beautiful hat. So he asked bear why he was so sad and bear said, "Well I..." The vendor interupted him and with confindence in his voice said "I know why you are sad. You are a bear and bears need honey." So he gave him a large pot of honey. But bear was still sad. And as he walked through town everyone continued to give him things and his arms were full. So he left the town and wandered into a big field and sat down.

After a few minutes, bear heard a quiet voice. A fly came and landed on his knee and said, "Bear you have honey, a hat and wings and you look so sad, why?" 

Bear said, "Well this is all nice, but I am afraid of the dark and I live in cave. I am sad because I live all by myself and I can't sleep." 

Fly told him," Well you know what? I don't have a home and I am not afraid of the dark so I can come live with you." And after that the fly and the bear were friends and they were happy."

So in the end the bear didn't need all of the extra things and the solution was simple, but nobody listened to him.  Because the fly listened to him for just a little while it made a big difference. It is easy to jump to conclusions on what people need or want, but the key is in listening to them and to the spirit.  Sometimes the answer comes in a "small voice" just like in the story. I am pretty sure that President Wall made that story up on the spot haha, but I think it proves a good point. I like it. 

Well I better get going. I love you guys so much and I will keep you updated on how things go this next transfer. It should be a good one. 

Prayers and Thoughts always,


Elder Bear Soper

We had a really good/busy week full of lessons and miracles...

Dear Family,

First of all I want to thank you for that poster! That really was so fun and I had a blast reading everything from all yall. I have it hanging up in our room and it really adds to the decor. 

Also congratulations Branton and Melodie!! That is really exciting and it sounds and looks like it was a fun and special day. I am really happy for the both you and I am looking forward to meeting Melodie. 

It is hard to believe that everyone is heading home from their missions. Taylor is back, Collin is back, Jay is back, Jake is back, Peter gets back within the next two months and then... But no need to worry about that yet.  Good luck with all the missionaries coming back and I hope that everything goes good with them adjusting back to home life. 

A couple highlights from the week:
1. We had a really good/busy week full of lessons and miracles. People we saw are: Patrick, the Freebairns, Longoria's, Klumpps, Russell, Ernest and Anna, Costins, Rex and Kay.
2.I was able to go on an exchange with Elder Bennett and it was a lot of fun. It was fun to be able to talk to him and I learned a lot about things that I can work on. 
3. We were able to be a part of Jacob's baptism this last sunday, he is 8 years old and he asked me to baptize him. That was really cool. 
4. Had interviews with President Wall and that is always good. There will be some changes this next transfer and it will be fun to tell yall about them next week. Remind me to tell you guys about the story about the "Sad Bear" sometime.
5. It was just a good week.

I better get going, but here is a little expert from my Presidents letter,

I decided one study that I was going to use my imagination and dig deep into some scriptures in Alma 17 and 26. So some of this is what Elder Soper feels like could have happened to the Sons of Mosiah. It first starts off the story with a failure, they try to go to the Lamanites to preach repentance and peace, but they get rejected and scorned. They are feeling pretty bad, they even say, "our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back" they were ready to give up the fight and for good reason. It says "for they had many afflictions; they did suffer much, both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue, and also much labor in the spirit." But even though the Lord gives us burdens, sometimes heavier than we feel that we can bear, he always increases our capacity. This doesn't happen immediately, most of the time we feel like the burden is always heavier than we can bear, but that weight strengthens us it creates lasting roots the dig deep into the gospel soil. So the Lord came to the Sons of Mosiah and he comforted them. This is where my imagination kicked in. I thought about what the Lord could have told them to comfort them, what he let them know. I think he told them how proud he was of them, I think he told them how much he loved them and even how much he loved His Lamanite children.. I think he told them their strengths and the gifts that they would be able to use in their ministry and how much they would be able to help these people by bringing them to the Savior. Cause in the end he promised them "success" and I wouldn't be surprised if that promised blessing came with a testimony of the good that they would do. This makes me think of the countless times that we have been promised these same things through the scriptures, through our patriarchal blessings, through other blessings, through conference talks, through things that people say and the little revelations and confirmations that we receive from the spirit daily. We too are promised that if we are "patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." If we carry our burdens as best we can we will become better personally and better be able to lead people to Christ. If we ever get discouraged, the Lord is ready to comfort us through the many different means. We just have to listen.

And to end I will share one of my new favorite Scriptures: 1 John 4: 19

"We love him, because he first loved us." Heavenly Father loves us so much and he wants us to be happy.

I love you! Hope you have a good week.

Prayers and thoughts always 


Elder Soper

This week has been pretty good...

Dear Family,

Thanks again for yesterday. That was awesome to be able to talk to you and just be goofy. That is something that I needed. Yeah I feel like we finally got it right this time haha. I think the next time I talk to you guys will be the best though, just a hunch. Haha yeah I didn't get too trunky. It is good to be able to have a balance of things. I love my mission, but these lessons I am learning on my mission are not just for here, but for after my mission as well. But we can start working on schooling stuff whenever. It is good to plan ahead, that way we give a lot of time to be able to talk about it and listen to the spirit. 

This week has been pretty good, I told you guys a little bit about it already haha, but I can share a couple more things. I went on an exchange with Elder Beach in Lafayette and we did a lot of biking and service. It felt good to be outside and doing a little bit of exercise, even though my legs were crying inside a little bit. We were able to have a cool lesson with a referral we got from the Gladys Knight concert that happened in Baton Rouge a couple of weeks ago. There names are E. and A. They are the picture perfect example of southern hospitality. They asked us a little about the church and then they invited us right in to have lunch with them. We are blessed to be in the south! We have a return appointment this Friday. We were able to have dinner at the Jarnagin's this last week and that was a lot of fun. They are such a good family and they are fun to be around. There is a good teasing ratio there too and so it helps all of us blow off a little steam in a more casual environment. That is nice! Then on Saturday we walked around Opelousas all day and we even spent some time in the rain. We have learned that when you choose to enjoy your circumstances you have a lot more fun. Things are still going really good with R., D. and D. We had that cool experience with them on Saturday and we have a really good feeling about it all. And then we had Mothers Day to top it all off!

Well I will end with my little blurb from my presidents letter and I have yall to thank for helping me decide to study this topic!

This morning I decided to study on courage, because that is something that I have struggled with my whole mission. Courage is not just an act of faith, but it is a result of faith and it is also a form of faith. It is an assurance that despite being faced with challenges the Lord will be on your side and that everything will be okay. For example in Alma 15 verse 4, it describes a situation with Zeezrom, one who contended with the Church. It says :

4 Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him.

It says that his heart took courage, or he had an increase or confirmation of faith in the divinity of Alma and Amulek's calling as prophets, teachers and healers. Asking for their help must have taken a lot of courage because a short time before he was their enemy. He acted upon his faith and followed through with the courage that he had and he was healed. As missionaries we are faced with many challenges and situations that require courage outside of our comfort zone. To have courage, or to have our hearts "take courage", we must have an increase of faith and faith often requires an experience. These experiences can come in the form of a blessing or maybe even a failure, but the common thing between both is that these experiences always take more courage than we have right now. Most things that we go through will take more courage than we have at the moment, but if courage is like faith we must nurture it and exercise it. Just like faith it will be tried and tested to make it grow. We may only have a seed of courage, but by acting upon it we not only increase our own courage, but we invite Heavenly help. This is something I am trying to work on and I have faith that if I push myself a little bit everyday and act upon the little bit of courage that I have, that it will grow and the Lord will be with me. It makes me want to be more bold and talk to everybody! Even though I may not feel completely comfortable doing, I know that is okay and I will get better at it. I am sure that David when he was running towards Goliath felt a little nervous, but he was courageous. And in the in the end courage isn't not fearing anything, but having the capacity to face your fears. Pretty cool.

I love you guys and I am just so grateful that I have been blessed with such an awesome family.

Prayers and thoughts always


Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This has been a really humbling transfer...

Dear Erebody,

Louisiana landscape

Me with Devin (the name of the turtle)

That sounds like you had a really fun sunday, getting together and having a mission themed night. I definitely know how Alex feels. I remember opening my call and really not knowing what to think. Maybe "Louisiana...that's weird." Haha but once I got here and I have had these experience I know that this is where I need to be and I really wouldn't rather be anywhere else. I bet that same thing will happen to Alex. He is going to love his mission. You do see some sad stuff and you get a taste of the world that you haven't before, but being able to understand that really helps you be able to relate and empathize with the people. It is such a necessary and humbling experience that can't be imitated. Missions aren't easy, but they are so worth it. I love it so much and it just makes you happy. Does Alex have an email? 

This has been a really humbling transfer and I am learning a lot. It is interesting the difference between humility and self-criticism. I had maybe a skewed view of humility in thinking that it was feeling like I wasn't good, or wasn't good enough. That is not right haha. Heavenly Father doesn't want us to feel like poop, but what he does want us to understand is that through him we can have the power to overcome anything. Humility is knowing that through the Grace of Christ we can become perfect.We have the potential to be something greater.  In reality everyone is pretty amazing, we are sons and daughters of God who in the Pre-Mortal life fought for and defended God's plan and chose Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. That is really cool. When we are humble Heavenly Father helps us realize that. And that is something that I am still learning. It is cool to see though and I am excited to learn more.

We had a really cool miracle happen this week.  We went to meet with one of our investigators, R. and it turns out that his roommate D. was there as well. D. is a really good guy and it turns out that he has been R's father figure after R's mother passed away. D. is a couple years older than R. and when his mom dies R. didn't have much, so he took him in to help him stay on the right path. He was also telling us how much R. has changed We began to teach them the Plan of Salvation and the Spirit was instantly there. About half way through the lesson D.s brother, M, a pretty religious guy, walked in and immediately joined in on the conversation. We taught about how God loves us and how he wants us to live with our families again. They told us that that is something that they want. Elder Allred was bold and invited them to baptism right there and they all accepted. Their baptismal date is in about 6 weeks. How cool is that? 

It has been a good week overall. We are getting the area up and running little by little and we are seeing some cool miracles. It is a slow and steady process, but it is coming a long. We had a really good lesson with a less-active family, the K's. Our branch president asked us to prepare a lesson on the Priesthood, because bro. K is preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. It went really well and it was fun to get to know them better. They are a funny couple and they are so unique, I love it haha. 

I better get going, but here is a little excerpt from my Presidents letter:

Today I just wanted to share something that came out of this last Ensign. There is an article about "Lasting Happiness" and it goes through the different qualities that happy people have and are striving to become. 
Happy People...
-are content with having their basic needs met. 
-are not ruled by the often mistaken idea that “more is better.” 
-are involved in something they believe is bigger than themselves. 
-use their personal strengths to bless the lives of others.
-foster close friendships and family relationships. 
-focus less on transient, pleasurable pursuits and more on enduring, meaningful ones. 
-strive to become more selfless. 
-(I am going to add this last one) they live and love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think that if we strive to be like this that we really will be happy and that really is the purpose of this life.

I love yall,

Prayers and thoughts 4eva,

Elder Devin Soper