Thursday, July 31, 2014

Well we had a pretty good week with a lot of ups and downs...

Good Morning,

I can't believe that Alex is leaving for his mission tomorrow. I feel like he just barely got his call, didn't he? But that is awesome and he is going to do a good job as a missionary, companion and leader. It'll change his life in a lot of positive ways. I am really excited to hear about some of the cool miracles that he sees in Peru.

Well we had a pretty good week, still a lot of ups and downs, but that is normal for a mission really. There were a couple of days where everything that we planned and back up planned fell through and we were at a loss of what we should do. The one cool thing about days like that though is there is always a tender mercies hiding behind the struggle. For example on thursday we were tracting for a good bit of the day and no doors opened, not even a door opened so we could have the chance to be rejected or accepted. So we were feeling a little down since nothing was working out and the day seemed to keep going on. Luckily we had a set appointment with R. and D., hallelujah!! But when we went over they weren't home either... so we knocked a few more doors until about 8:30. We went over to R. and D's again and they had just gotten home. So R. came outside and we set up a few chairs on our porch and started reading the Book of Mormon together. We were only about 5 minutes in and D. and his son walk around the corner. So we had a little reading group. We read 1 Nephi 1 and 2 together and it felt like a family scripture study. D. son wanted to keep reading, but we had to finish up since it was getting late. But probably the two coolest things that happened with that were these. We found out that D. has been trying to read the Book of Mormon with his family every night. Like everyone he said it is tough to do consistently because of crazy schedules, but his son, who is about 7 or 8 loves reading the BoM and he, no matter if his family does or not, reads it every night by himself. I can't even express how awesome that is. We told the Ward about it and so they are ordering him one of those Book of Mormon story books so he can look at the pictures too. (Secretly we wanted that for them so R. could read from it too :) But then the other cool thing is that we asked if we could come by the next night to read it with their family again and they were all for that, until R. remembered a conflict they all had. In response, D. held up the scriptures and said "Yeah, but not much comes before this." I am just so grateful for them and their faith. We love them a lot.  It was a huge tender mercy to have that scripture study with them that day. It was a testimony to me that all the sacrifices in the world that we make and all the struggles we go through are worth it because of the feeling of God's love that you receive through the tender mercies  the Lord blesses us with. 

1 Nephi 1:20
But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

This week we got to go on exchanges with the Lafayette Elders, Elder White and Elder Madsen, and that was an awesome experience. They got double transferred into this area about 3 weeks ago and they have been working super hard. That is always a tough experience, but they are making the most of it and I know that they are going to see some cool miracles that come from their efforts. I really respect and look up to Elder White. He is a hard working missionary and he wants nothing more than the best interests for the other missionaries. It is great to have him as our District Leader because the spirit is in every meeting. 

Yesterday something really cool happened as well. Eurick is a recent convert who has been working towards going on a mission and last week he received the Aaronic Priesthood. Well just yesterday was his first day of passing the sacrament and Elder King and I thought it was just the coolest experience. You could see how happy Eurick was and that made us happy. It is such a blessing to see the change that happens in people as they move forward in their conversion. Sometimes they can't see it in themselves, but as missionaries we are blessed to be able to see that often. 

Elder King and I decided that we hit the missionary jackpot. We are good friends and we have fun everyday. We love the ward and the ward loves us. And we get to share the gospel everyday. That is a huge blessing and my testimony is growing everyday. 

Well I better get going, but I thought I would leave yall with some good pictures of me that you could instagram. I can only promise maybe 500 likes, but we will see haha. I love you guys a lot and I am grateful everyday that I I have been so blessed to have yall in my life. Thank you!

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Family,

Man this week has really been up and down, but during those up moments we have had some really cool miracles that have happened. So I have some good stories to share during this email. 

This week we had a big monthly meeting with all the Mission leaders and President Hansen. It was a good meeting, but it definitely was intense. There were a few changes that he wanted to implement and one of them (no more sports nights with the units) was one that was a little hard to swallow. It got a little heated in there and to be honest I was kind of scared haha I am not sure why, it wasn't directed towards anyone at all, but just the way I felt was a little unnerving. In the end though we all talked it out and gained a testimonies of the changes and how that really is what the mission needs. I believe that they are inspired and because of these changes we will be blessed. One thing that the meeting taught me was how important delivery and the way you speak to people is. A lot of the problems that arose were because of the way it was delivered, not the changes themselves. I hope that makes sense. 

So Elder King and I were a little nervous to bring these changes up in our Zone Meeting, just because of the response that we would get. We both knew how inspired they are, but not everyone had a testimony of that yet. Luckily we have a really good zone with mature missionaries and it all went awesome! We had a good discussion about them and everybody is on board. Not everyone likes them, but they are happy and willing to do it. The whole zone meeting went pretty well. The spirit was really strong and even some parts were a little shaky, the feeling there is what made the difference. 

So time for the tender mercies. First one, yesterday we decided to walk through Opelousas before our dinner appointment, but it turns out that Sunday is just as hot as every other day during the week. So we ended up walking 9 miles all around and we were sweating bullets. My entire shirt was soaked with sweat, but it was worth it because we were able to see the Costins! We had a good little visit with them and it is things like that that make sacrifices worth it. But here is the cool little tender mercy, as we were walking the 5ish miles back to the church, a random person ran up to us, handed us two soda's and ran away. In reality it wasn't much, but to us and during that time it meant everything.

I will finish up with this story about Rock: The Angel Dog. Last Saturday we had a good day set up, lots of less-actives to try to find. So we decided to go see Teddy Broussard, we had never met him before but somebody asked us to go see him. This little trip started with a little tender mercy because he ended up living off the road where another person we were looking for lived. Well it turns out that he moved and lives in another city. So we decided to find this other person, Taylor Chase. The only twist is that all we had was the name of the road and no street address, so we were going knocking. It was a pretty country road and so it was fun to be out there, we knocked on a few doors and we didn't have anyone answer. We then walked by this house and there was a dog on the porch, it stuck its head up, looked right at and began to run straight at us. This was no small dog. Elder King and I looked at each other and we had no idea what to do except laugh. Well the dog started barking at us and then came right up to us and began sniffing us a lot. And  then it just wanted us to pet him. This was Rock. He had some cool eyes too, they were bluish white and one of them was slightly lazy. Rock began walking with us, almost like he was leading us. We walked up to the next house and he stopped, began barking and then ran right between us and the house, so we turned around. We kept walking and he would get between us and a house. Until one house he ran right up to it and into the back yard. So we knocked on it. It turns out this guy knew exactly who we were looking for and information on where they moved to. It was so cool and it sounds really cheesy, but we think that Rock really led us there. We took him back to his house and his family wasn't interested in the gospel, but at least we made a new friend with him. It was a cool day and it is something that I will remember. I will send a picture of him haha. 

Hey I did get your email and it sounds like that cabin was really cool. A little bit of luxury. I am excited for some of those fun family retreats again. I really liked your ideas on love that you taught to the High Priests. It is interesting because I was reading something like that this morning. One big reason to sharing the gospel is that we are all family. We are God's children and so that in turn means that we are all connected. It has been interesting to see on my mission how love has really extended beyond my own personal sphere and that I have been able to connect with people out here in a very similar way that I connect with you guys. I read a study that they had in one of the ensigns that said when we serve others and are altruistic our body releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel better and happier, they make feel like you are fulfilling a bigger purpose. I think there is a huge correlation between our spirit and our body and when we have charity our spirit is filled and makes us more like Christ and in turn it makes our body feel better. Cool beans. 

I better get going. And I have lots of time at the library, so long emails aren't a problem :). I love yall a lot and I hope that you have a great week. 


Elder Soper

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

So this was a huge transfer...

Good Morning!

So this was a huge transfer, but President Hansen did a good job with it and I think things will be really good. My new Companion is Elder King and it is funny because we were actually in the MTC together. We never would have thought that we would be able to be companions, but super happy that we are. We have already become really good friends and I haven't laughed so much in a long time. It has just been a blast already and we just have a feeling that this is going to be an awesome transfer. It is a huge blessing that we get to be companions and I think we will be able to get close with our zone as well. They increased the size of our zone and Elder White and Elder Madsen got but double transfered into Lafayette and they are in our district now. They are really good missionaries and it has been fun to be able to help them out and spend time with them. It has just been a fun week. Elder King and I were actually talking about maybe rooming this winter for BYU. We'll see what happens but that is just a thought.

The members already love Elder King a lot and we were able to get a lot done. We spent an afternoon with one of the members (Bro. Castille) doing some service for his Mom and visiting members. We had finished service and then he just asked us if we had time to go visit this family. They aren't his home teaching family or anything, but he just felt like we should visit them. It was really cool and little things like that make me really happy. We went over to R's the other day and his little boy was really sick and in a lot of pain. We both had a prompting to ask if we could give him a blessing but we weren't sure how to bring it up. We finally did and it was a pretty amazing experience. It was a pretty simple blessing, but it seemed like pretty instantaneously he calmed down. The spirit was really strong. The Priesthood power is real. 

Tender mercies happen every single day and it is a blessing to be able to be a part of them. I know that I haven't baptized a lot of people or seen tons of people come back to church, but I feel like mission has been a success so far. I have more that I have to work on in humility and obedience to the promptings of the spirit, but I think that I am on the right path. I feel successful because I am happy and that is enough for me. I know that if we are happy we have the spirit with us and it will inspire us to do what we need to do. I have also come to know my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ more and I have felt how much they love me and that has changed me life a lot. I have made such good friends on my mission with members, non-members, less-actives and missionaries that I will stay in contact and love for the rest of my life and after. That is a success. I have come to love the scriptures more and learned to love prayer. I also have a family that prays for me everyday and boosts my spirits with everything that they do for me. So all in all I am saying that I have been really blessed to have immensely successful mission so far. 

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

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Oh yeah, it is transfer week this week...

Hola Mi Familia,

I got your letters right on time! Right when I needed them. And that is totally fine about the emails last week. They changed our P-day on us and then we had to go email early anyway, so it is just the way things worked out haha. It was all just kind of crazy. But I really appreciated your letters and it was fun to hear about Haley, Jordan, Olive and the little babe's stay. It was nice to be out here when Haley told me the news, cause I could tell people and it wouldn't even matter haha. I was too excited to keep it in. But I am really glad that everyone had a good time and it sounds like yall had a good 4th and various other family get togethers. ;)

Oh yeah, it is transfer week this week. Surprisingly Elder Crane is getting transferred after only having been here 5 weeks. I am pretty sad about that. We became really good friends in a short amount of time and I respect him so much. He has worked hard to be out on his mission and he has made a big difference in many peoples and missionaries lives. His influences will be felt and remembered forever. It was really fun to be his companion. He has a good sense of humor and is self deprecating. We have a good time joking around and making weird comments. He is really good at understanding people too and so sometimes we analyze people and talk about what we learn. There have been times where we have just talked for hours. Haha there is a Sister here in Opelousas, Sister Faulk, who has stayed in this one area for her entire mission and so for a little going away party, Elder Crane and I wrote a song together called. "Married to the Branch." That was pretty fun. But he is going to be a district leader and a training and a different area, so that will be cool. I am not sure who my new companion is going to be, but I know that it will all work out. So Never Ending Story, I am still in Opelousas haha. But I like it here, sometimes it is a little tough (most always becasue of my attitude), but the people are so awesome that it is hard not to love it. 

One other cool piece of news, The Opelousas Branch is now the Opelousas Ward! That was pretty cool to be able to witness that. On Sunday somebody was telling us a little bit about the history of the branch and it has been 44 years in the making, so it was a special day. It was cool to just see how happy everybody was. It has taken a lot of prayers and hard work from countless people. One sad, but also cool thing is that Brother Freebairn is no longer our Ward Mission leader...He got called to be the 1 counselor in the Bishopric. Pretty Crazy huh? He is going to do a good job though and is going to bless the Ward so much. 

We had Zone Conference with President Hansen and his wife this last week and that went well. Sister Hansen when she met me was excited to tell me about how she knows Chad and Susan. I guess that when they found out they were coming to Louisiana, Susan told Sister Hansen that I was here and showed her the Blog. I guess that she had been reading it to get a little feel for the mission. So the blog is a success! Haha it made me feel pretty good to hear that from her though. President Hansen definitely has some high goals and vision for the mission. It is different than we are used to, but I think as we get on board that we will start to see some cool miracles. I'm sure they are pretty stressed out, with having to come into a mission with 170+ young people that feel like that they know what they are doing haha. As we are patient with them and as they are patient with us things will work out. One thing that I do know is that he has been called by a Prophet and that he is exactly who Heavenly Father wants to lead this mission. I am really excited to get to know the Hansen's better.

I just wanted to bear my testimony on how much our attitude makes a difference in our lives. We have the choice everyday to be happy or sad.  The exact same things could happen in a day but we can choose if it is a good day or a bad day. I remember hearing a quote where someone asked President Kimball what he does when he goes to a boring sacrament meeting and he said something to the effect of "I don't know because I have never been to one." I may or may not have learned this lesson the hard way haha, but I am so grateful that I am learning it. I love my mission so much and I know there is always more that I can do, but that Heavenly Father is proud of me for being out here and doing my best to love the people and the missionaries. I know that He and Jesus Christ love us a lot and I love them too. 

I better get going, but I love yall so much and you are such a big influence in the decisions that I make everyday. Thank you for your prayers!

Prayers and Thoughts always,


Elder Divine Slopper

Sunday, July 6, 2014

This has been a really good week...

Dear Family,

This has been a really good week though. We have had a lot of cool experiences that have built my testimony and we have made a lot of new friends as well. 

Me and Rico

First I wanted to bear my testimony that I know that angels are with all the time. They are there and they are not only protecting us, but they are sharing the gospel right along with us. I know that they are with yall as well. It is pretty cool to know that we aren't alone and we have so many people helping us and encouraging us on both sides. 

We got to go on an exchange with the New Iberia Elders and that was an awesome experience. We went to their District Meeting and then for lunch we went to this Old timey diner and got hamburgers and shakes. And they did pretty good with the fresh strawberry shake, I think yall would approve. But I got to stay down with Elder Casillas and thay was an awesome experience. The weather was crazy those couple of days and we ended up getting rained out for most of the two days. The rainstorms were crazy, but gave us an opportunity to just talk and become good friends. He is a really good missionary and he has the ability to make people feel comfortable around him, he is very down to earth and easy going. He uses that in his missionary work and it does a lot of good. We worked a little bit with this guy named Rico and he is awesome. He recently received the Melchezidek priesthood and is a missionary machine. He and Elder Casillas are just super good friends and we were talking about it and they were probably good friends in the Pre-Earth life as well. Rico and I connected pretty good and became instant friends. He is about twice my size and his arms are bigger than my head haha, but he gave me his email and he told me that he wants to come out to Utah sometime and visit, so that is pretty cool! I will send you a picture. But that exchange was a tender mercy because I made two new great friends, Elder Casillas and Rico.

On Friday most of our plans fell through and that happened for a reason because it allowed for a miracle to happen. We decided to go see this less-active family that we had never met before, N. and J. The Sisters have worked with them a little bit, but I have always wanted to meet them, but just have never done it. We finally went and we all hit it off right away. N. is a super laid back guy, he has long dreads and just seems like he doesn't have a care in the world. J. is really down to earth and is super into reading. They are the most easy going couple you would ever meet. N. and Elder Crane were able to talk for a long time about Sno-Ball Shacks and it really built a good foundation for a friendship. N. and J. own a Sno-Ball stand in Lafayette and Elder Crane wants to start one when he gets home. It sounds like you can make pretty good money with them as well. We ended up being at there house for two and half hours. We had a lesson with them and they ended up opening up to us about things that are going on in their lives and we were able to give that listening ear. It was cool experience and we love them a lot now too. J. ended up coming to church on Sunday.

Then yesterday one of my mission dreams came true. We had a real Cajun teach us how to cook! I think I have told yall about Sarah and Jerrett, but they are a part member family that love the missionaries a lot. I had told Jerrett that I wanted to learn how to cook and so yesterday he surprised us, invited us early and then had Elder Crane and I cook the whole meal. So we spent the afternoon learning how to brown pork steaks, brown onions and create a good gravy. Good Cajun cooking takes time and patience, but it is well worth it. It was an ideal Sunday afternoon being able to spend time with them, get to know Jerrett a lot better and make a good meal. I am going to make it for you when I get home. What he taught will be able to transfer over into rice and gravy meals, jambalaya, stews, gumbu and etouffe. So I am excited to show yall!

My testimony grew this week that the people that we meet on our missions we met before this life. They are members, less-actives and non-members, but we are here for them as much as they are here for us. I love you guys so much and I hope you have a great week.

Prayers and Thoughts always,


Elder Soper