Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This week was pretty crazy...

Dear Family,

First of all Happy Birthday Emma! I hope that you have a great day today. :)

Yeah I am not sure what they course of the rest of my mission is. I think there is a good chance that I could stay here to finish it out and I could see Elder White and I serving one more and then maybe bringing a new guy in. But that is just our theory, it could be completely different. The challenges are still here, but we are doing our best despite them. I think I am less discouraged though. One of the missionaries here is collecting coins and he gave us a good analogy. He said that he loves to find the quarters... but in order to do that he has to look for the pennies too. So just like in life sometimes we are blessed with a quarters, but everyday there are little pennies all around us. We just keep plugging a long and really the time is going by super fast, this is already the last week of the transfer. Yikes...

Man it is fun to hear how well Emma's team is doing. Does their season continue into next spring? Also is Taylor planning on playing for the Orem High Soccer team this next year? Want to know something cool. Our investigator S is a huge EPL fan. He tells me that West Ham is in his blood, he lives and breathes for that team. So that has been fun to be a be able to have that in common and it has developed our relationship with him in another good way. I told him that I love Van Persie and he gave me a little bit of a hard time, but then he told me about his header that he had in the world cup. He said that it was "beautiful" and that he only has to think about it and he gets the chills haha. The funny thing is I didn't even see that goal and I still get the chills when I think about it... weird. Pretty cool to have that love of soccer in common! Do you guys have any students on your intramural team this season?

This week was pretty crazy. On Tuesday we were walking through campus and all of the sudden a throng of students came up to us and were thanking us for our religion being calm and peaceful. They were telling us that there were some people on free speech alley that were preaching hellfire and damnation to everyone that was passing by. They were being rude to people and everybody was feeling uncomfortable. While we were talking to these people a few of the preachers came up to us and started bashing with us really aggressively. For the next hour or so they were grilling us and chastising us for leading people to hell. We had both encountered some people like before, but not quite on this level. We had a whole group of people around us, about 20, and they were all cheering us on. Some people would even walk by and ask "Who is winning?" And they would all start saying "The Mormons are!" haha people were even taking pictures of us. Crazy huh? Well through it all we were definitely attacked, but we stayed happy, calm and respectful. We thanked them for their time and went on our way. He told us, "I would say God bless you, but I can't because you are going to hell and you are dragging others down with you." Isn't that crazy? Everyone was coming up to us afterwards and thanking us for being so kind and patient. We even had a girl ask us if she could give us a hug. It was cool to see that the gospel of kindness (which is essential the gospel of Jesus Christ) can be spread so easily simply through example. It was a good experience and really it was nothing we did because it would have been so easy to get angry, but the spirit helped us completely address the situation. We had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and give out a few pamphlets and cards. It was a blessing in disguise.

We had some really good lessons with S this week as well. On Thursday we had a our Ward mission leader come with us and that was awesome. He was able to interact with S in a different way than we were and it turned out to be exactly what needed to happen. He had a few more questions and we testified to him that the way that all these questions and concerns could be resolved was through reading the Book of Mormon and praying to ask if Joseph Smith was a prophet. he agreed that was the only way to find out and he was all in. We invited him to be baptized and this was his answer "If I find out this is true I will get baptized, wait a year to go to the temple and then pack my bags for two years to serve a mission." He is so sincere, wants to know the truth and simply wants to serve God the best he can. It has been an amazing experience working with him. I really like your advice too dad about working with the ward members more closely and I think that is something that we can try doing. 

I will end with a few pictures. I love you guys so much and I hope you guys a have a great week.

Prayers and Thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

PS President and Sister Hansen invited us over for dinner on Wednesday and that was awesome to be able to get to know them on a more personal level. I love them a lot. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Things are going really well with Elder White...

Dear Family,

CONGRATULATIONS HALEY AND JORDAN!!!! You is having you a little girl. That is so exciting and to tell you the truth I really don't know what to say. Haha I have been telling everybody down here though. Yeah Yeah!

I loved those pictures of you guys when you were little Dad. I think one of my favorites was the one with guys holding up the Star Trek poster things haha. I just thought it was really funny and that is something I could see Taylor and I doing. Those are some pretty fun pictures and maybe that one with Uncle Stan can be my first instagram post when I get home... #sharegoodness

Things are going really well with Elder White. We are good friends and we are able to just joke around and it makes it easy to shrug off things that could make life a little more stressful. It is always a blessing to have a companion that you are friends with because then you are able to put all your focus on the work and that in turn builds even more unity. That is definitely a huge blessing because lately things have been kinda tough. The work has been pretty slow and it has been kinda hard to keep my focus on missionary work all the time. We have so much time, that it is hard not to let thinking of home take some of it up. Maybe I just don't really feel like I am doing a lot of missionary things right now and so it is hard to feel like a missionary. But then I feel bad because I want to be able to be doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do and I feel like I would have more opportunity to do that in a different area or back home or something haha. I am grateful for this experience though because I am learning a ton about what I really want and how I can improve. I know too that this is the best way that I can learn these lessons and I when I look back at this experience that I will recognize how far we have actually come. And then there are those little experiences, the tender mercies everyday that just help you remember what is really important. That contrast has been a huge blessing to observe. There is a quote that says some thing like this. "You never know how hard the wind is really blowing until you try to walk against it." So even though it might be hard that is what is going to make us stronger. We can't control all of our circumstances, but we can control how we react to them and that is what defines our character.

Elder White and I wrote a song about Football and Tailgating. We were at a members house this last Saturday for a little BBQ and while we were there his roommates family showed up to go to the game. We played our little song for them and the next thing we knew they were offering to buy us tickets haha. So Elder White and I had permission and were able to go to an LSU football game this last saturday. It was definitely something that I have never experienced. You never really know how much people love football until you come to Tiger Stadium during football season haha it is crazy. It was an exciting atmosphere and I am grateful that we were able to do that. I'll send some pictures.

Here is one more funny little thing and then I will share a cool story. So we found out yesterday that the number that we having been passing out for the last month to people has been wrong this entire time. We had our number printed on the back of our phone and it was off a couple numbers haha. At first we were pretty frustrated because all the Book of Mormon's, pass-along cards and pamphlets that we passed out had a wrong number on it and so none of those people could contact us, which is really sad. But we know that it is going to work out and we are just going to find those people again!

So this next story is really cool. We told you about S, the kid who came up to us one day on campus and wanted to come to church.  He came to institute this week too and he loved it. That day we set up a lesson with him for Thursday and he was looking forward to being able to ask us some questions about the church. And at this point we thought he was just a less-active member. He told us that his family had started leaving the church when he was fairly young and he was never actually baptized a member of the church. His dad served a mission, but now they are all pretty against the church. So that makes it tough because naturally he has grown up (and he admits) that much of what his parents taught him he believed cause that is all he knew. So during our lesson he had tons of questions about our beliefs and doctrines and how they are in harmony with Christ's teachings. The main topics of his questions last lesson were about the Apostasy, why and if it really happened, Eternal progression, Grace and Temples. He is a very honest seeker of truth and at first glance it would be easy to mistake his questions as skeptical, but really they are very sincere and he just wants to know for himself. It was a humbling experience for me. Sam is a very intellectual and logical person and so when he would ask questions at first I was trying to answer him in a more logical way, but I quickly recognized that when I did there would be a flaw in my logic. Haha I thought that I could take a smart way out, but I can promise that the best way is to wait and listen to the spirit. That will work everytime. Elder White was doing really well this entire time and he was just listening to his concerns and addressing them simple. You always learn how to be a better missionary and those situations are tender mercies because they teach you that. So rather than trying to explain, we just testified. He still has a lot of questions, but I know that he will find his answers because he is genuinely looking for the truth. Heavenly Father is going to help him and us as we all grow closer to Him and and His Son. When we were talking about Temples though he said something really cool. (This part is mostly for you guys) He said "I forgot how I felt when I saw the temple. I don't know if this is weird or spooky, but every time that I see it I feel happy and peaceful. I have a longing to go there and I don't know why because I am don't even know if I really believe that it is true." As soon as he said that the spirit entered into the room. I know that the Temple is the house of the Lord and we can feel close to him there. I know that we can be sealed with our families there and that gives us the opportunity to live with them for eternity. I know that this was made possible by the Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Christ led that Restoration and still is today. I know that this is the that Gospel that Christ brought back and it includes all of the saving ordinances that will allow us to live with our Father in Heaven. How cool is it that we have that knowledge! The world is so crazy, but no matter what happens we can hold onto our testimony. I know that Sam is going to receive his answers because the spirit is already in his life leading him to the truth every day. I'll keep you updated!

I want to let you guys know how much that I love y'all. 

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Soper

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This has been kind of a crazy week...

Dear Fambly, 

Well Mom you were definitely inspired when you sent those tips on how to be more effective at learning. I have been struggling a little bit lately with having meaningful and productive studies every morning and I was wondering somethings that I could do to get a little bit better. So that helped. I think I get worried sometimes that I have to get something out of the scriptures every time I read and that reminded me that sometimes I can just read the scriptures purely for the sake that I love them. And it turns out that when I did that I started getting more out of it anyways haha. Funny how that works. Thanks for sending those.

That is funny that Sister Sant sent you a little message. It was funny, after a Zone meeting we all went out to lunch and when we got there I saw Sister Jackson, a member from the Plaquemine Branch, that I knew really well. So we talked for a little while and she was there with her friend who knows you guys. She said," Oh my gosh, I know your dad and Lisa. I even know Stan and Wendy from pioneer trek." Little connections everywhere. 

That is crazy that Emma's birthday is coming up. Time is really flying by. I don't have a ton of time today, sorry We went to Costco with a member today and then we are getting picked up by some missionaries soon. That was a blessing though we bought some stuff and bulk and I think we won't be starving anytime soon. We bought that huge thing of pancake mix and we are pretty sure that will be feeding missionaries in that apartment into next year.

This has been kind of a crazy week. And even after a few weeks it is still taking some adjusting too. We have definitely seen some really cool miracles since we have been here, but at the same time all the time in between there has been hard to fill up. Sometimes feels like we aren't missionaries, just because we don't do a lot of missionary things all the time. I am slowly coming out of that attitude, because we are fulfilling our purpose in other ways and I have to remember that we are still trying to get the area started for Elders. And when I think about that or tell people about how sometime it is difficult, I am immediately reminded of some of the tender mercies that we have haha so here are a few. 

Wednesday was probably one of the coolest days of my mission, not in terms of any huge miracles happening, but being able to see the scripture "through small and simple things, great things come to pass " come true. So we made a goal that we were going to pass out 10 Book of Mormons that day. So we filled up my bag and went on our way. When we got on campus there were tons of people around for the club kick offs. So there were just people everywhere. We were able to talk to some people and one guy even came up to us and asked if he could come to our activities. We were able to carry one woman's stuff to her car for her and she gave us free sunglasses. And then there was a guy who wanted a picture with us because we were Mormon. During all of these opportunities we were able to pass out Book of Mormon's. We kept on going, knocking on doors and talking to people on the bus. We even had a miracle where we found a Spanish Book of Mormon in the Zone Leaders car when we were talking to a spanish family while getting some dinner. By the end of the day we were able to pass out 16 Books. It was cool to see Heavenly Fathers hand in that. At the end of the day we had a lesson with a recent convert named Kyle and that was the strongest I have felt the spirit in a long time. We talked about the plan of Salvation. We ended up talking about how we know and love a lot of people from the pre-existence. My testimony also grew in the atonement on how real it is. Christ loves us so much. 

Hey I gotta run, the missionaries are here to pick us up. I will send some pictures next week.

I love yall,

Elder Soper

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's a small world out here...

Dear Familia,

I couldn't believe that it was already Labor Day, my favorite holiday ;), already haha. It seems like the time is flying by a little too fast. I'm glad that you guys had such a good weekend though. Hanging out in Spring City, making a little money, eating a little food. Good times. 

It's a small world out here. It has been fun to see all the little connections since we have been here. We met Kristina, she was one of your former students and then I also got to see Jack Mallard on campus. He was telling me about how you wrote him an acceptance letter to get into the PhD program here, and we just caught up a little bit. There is also a guy in our Singles ward name Bret and he asked me if I knew a Natalie Soper. I said I indeed know one of them and it is my cousin. It turns out that they knew each other back at BYU. Pretty cool huh. I guess the Sopers are famous or something. 

Shoot I am sorry that we got the wrong address to you. Hopefully it all works out. Maybe someone needed that little package and letters a little more this week haha.

That is cool that Sister Hansen said that. I have been really grateful that I have gotten to know them and that they get to lead the mission. Yeah I heard about that story, but only little details. So it was fun to read it all. I actually know that missionary and we are pretty good friends and he is such a cool guy. 

Well we have to get going pretty soon since we didn't have as much time to email this week. But I will send one more cool story that happened this week. 

So on Friday all of our appointments fell through and we were heading home on the bus for dinner break and both Elder White and I had the prompting to talk to this guy sitting across from us. Elder White acted on it and we just started a simple conversation with him. His name is Spock and he is from China. We were able to share with him a little bit about what we do, who Christ is and what he means to us and we were even able to give him a Book of Mormon. It was cool to see how grateful he was when we gave it to him. He kept expressing his gratitude to us for sharing it with him. We were feeling kind of bold at this point so we started talking to another person on the bus and the woman sitting next to us. We quickly found out that this girl had met missionaries before and it had only been the night before. She met the sisters on the bus the just one day earlier and we were able to follow up with her. How cool is that? We gave her a Book of Mormon and she read the introduction right there while riding on the bus. The Sisters are hopefully going to be able to teach her soon. Students here are definitely a lot more curious and willing to learn. It makes it tough with the proselyting restrictions (we can't actively do that) But we can just talk to anyone we want and get to know them. Almost everytime though someone asks us what we are doing. Campus is very eclectic though with people from all over, with different personalities and different interests. I am learning a lot as we go and we are making a lot of new friends. Next week I will talk a little bit more about how our days go and what we do, give you a good picture of work on LSU campus.

I love you guys! Hope you have a great week.


Elder Devin Soper