Elder Herbert and I
Thank you so much for the letters this week, they definitely helped during a time that I needed it. So the next transfer is next week and everything is up in the air. I think there is a good chance that I move, but at the same time I am not really sure. You hit it right on the head. I love being with Elder King and I hope we get one more together. But at the same time I feel like I might need something new just to help me grow some more. It will be interesting to see what happens. Could be my final area coming up...aye aye aye Zordon!
It is hard to believe that life is starting to get back to normal and that school is starting up again so soon. I am looking forward to seeing how Emma and Taylor's soccer seasons go. It is so interesting to observe life progressing forward when life seems to be seemingly static on a mission. It goes really fast, but it feels like it is one eternal round, that it will just never end. Haha that sounds kind of negative, but I just mean to say that I have gotten really used to it. Missionary life is seems so normal now, it is just the way that my life is and I love it. Haha it doesn't make me trunky to get fun stories or pictures, I like seeing those each week. Maybe I am in denial haha but I really don't think that they make it harder.
So I got a letter from President Hansen today asking me what causes the ups and downs of missionary work and how we can keep the good consistent and try to make the lows less frequent. I think that I am still learning this lesson but I a few days I had an experience that helped me understand just a little deeper on why the things are the way they are. So I was feeling really depressed on Saturday. I just could feel the weight of expectation both from myself, from the ward, from my Leaders and even what I felt from Heavenly Father. I was worried about how the work was going and if I really was doing all that I could. I was even mad at myself for being depressed because I knew that I shouldn't be haha. To be honest it was probably the most discouraged I have been on my mission and it was hard to motivate myself to even get going. It felt like all the bricks and burdens from the past 20 months was bearing me down and there was no way I could find my way out from under them. It is hard to break out of negativity when it is all around you, but I just felt like we needed to get out of the apartment and start working or things wouldn't get any better. So we went and visited a member and that did help a little bit, but the negativity was still there. I had no idea what to do and but as we were driving home, I wasn't sure why, but I turned into a random neighborhood, had a little burst of energy and felt like we just had to start knocking. I never wanted to tell people so badly about the blessing of the gospel than at that time because at the same time I needed to remind myself of them as well. So for about the next 2 hours we just talked to everyone we could in that neighborhood. We asked people about how God has been in there life and how they have felt the Saviors love. We shared our testimonies of how faith and hope can change your life in simple ways that will effect you for eternity. We shared the reality of eternal families and how we can enjoy many of those blessings even in this life. Although nobody let us into their homes, I am confident that the spirit touched peoples hearts including mine. During that time I made the decision that even though life can be really stinky sometimes, that it is not fun to feel that way too. You don't have to let your circumstances control, we are God's children and we have the ability to control how we respond and how we feel. So the happiness and peace that I felt in contrast to the sadness and discouragement that I could have chose to feel made a big impact on the way that I perceive challenges now. There is a quote that says something to the effect of, "During life there is both an abundance and lack of abundance of happiness that occurs simultaneously, the one that we have in our life is a result of our choice to receive it." I made up about half of that haha but it still sounds pretty good. It is so true though, agency is the greatest gift in the world becuase it gives us the ability to choose who we are, how we feel, what we do and who we will become. We can choose to be a bummed out or in the same situation we can choose to have fun. I want to always choose the latter! The highs in life come when we find joy in the journey, (in the whole journey which includes the good and the bad) and when we lose ourselves, forget our will and strive to follow God's. The lows in life come when we dwell on the our past or look so far ahead that we forget where we are going, essentially when we bog ourselves down with personal worries. One comes from selflessness and one comes from selfishness. Peace is a result of humility and discouragement is a result of pride. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but I have been letting my pride blind my vision and that is what has made me have a hard time. I am not saying that once we make the choice to be happy that we will never feel down again, but I do think that if we make the choice to be happy the highs in life will be sweeter and the lows will happen less frequently or will be shorter. This week has changed my mission a lot past, present and future. I know now that Heavenly Father is so proud of me for working hard, trying to become better and try to love those that I have been blessed to have come into my life. My mission has changed my life and has begun to shape who I want to become because I have allowed to let God into my life to influence me. I love being a missionary, I love so much that I have had the opportunity to share this Gospel that changes lives, allows families to be together forever and really brings a happiness that cannot be counterfeited. I know that God loves us, I know the Atonement is real and we can change to improve ourselves daily. I know that the Book of Mormon brings the spirit every time you read it.(even when you might not understand it haha) I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for the sacrifices that he made to help this church because it has blessed me with an awesome family, who are my best friends, good friends that I have made and the knowledge that it can last forever. That is pretty cool! I want yall to know how much I love you and can't wait to see you again. I hope you have an awesome week!
One more thing: So there is a new development in my maturity. Personality is still the same...but the facial hair is coming! So I have a few more whiskers on my chinny chinny chin chin. But the funniest thing was at MLC this week. President Hansen came up to say goodbye to me and it ended up being a sort of awkward neck hug haha but then he asked me "Elder Soper, are you growing a mustache." At this point I got the feeling that he had been looking at my upper lip all day wondering if I had shaved and in fact I did. But I also had a 5 o'clock shadow only where a mustache would grow. Haha I thoguht that was pretty funny and I thought you might think so too. I love you guys a lot!
Prayers and Thoughts always,
Elder Thebin Soper