Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving week has already been pretty good so far!


Thanksgiving week has already been pretty good so far! On Saturday our ward held a pre-thanksgiving potluck and food drive. We had a really good turn out and there were quite a few non-members there as well. It felt really good to be with everyone and it was just a successful event. The food was actually really good. One person smoked a turkey and it ended up being super moist and flavorful (that's when you know you lucked out on turkey...when it is not dry.) and then we had most or not one of all kinds of novembery foods. But sadly we didn't have any cement potatoes. Maybe those students liked them so much that they didn't have time to say anything haha. Then for Thanksgiving the Hansens invited all the missionaries to come over if they wanted to or didn't have a family to eat with. So that should be a lot of fun! You are right though, the work might be a little tricky, but I think the zone has a couple service projects lined up and so hopefully we can be or at least feel productive. 

With Elder Bracken at the football game a few weeks ago

Elder Smiley and I at the lake

Mom, I think you have turned into a a true gospel teacher. Not only in Sunday school, but just all the time. You are so concerned about the students in your class and the people around you that you that your motivation is purely for them to grow and progress. That is very humble and it shows because you live what you teach. One time in the MTC I was talking about how I am nervous to talk to people and to teach others. And our Branch President said, "Elder, it is good to be nervous sometimes, it means that you care about it." Not saying that if you aren't nervous that you don't care, that is definitely not true, but when you do get nervous  that is probably a good indication that  you are thoughtful about the situation and the people involved. 

Hey I was thinking too when I was reading these letters just how awesome of parents your are. You guys talk a ton about us and the things that are going on in our lives. (Meaning your children) It shows that we are a part of your life, that you are so invested in our well being and what we love to do that our life is part of yours. We are a family and everything that we do, we are all part of it. I think that is awesome and it makes me really happy. You guys are really the best parents and the best of siblings (To Haley, Taylor, Emma and Jordan.)

Well I wanted to share one cool experience that happened this week. We had a lot, but this one stuck out to me. So on thursday things were a little slow, two of our appointments fell through and so we had a couple free hours. We were able to fill our time in, but it was still a little slow. We were walking to the bus stop and for some reason I just felt that we needed to talk to somebody, we just didn't know who it was yet. So I told that to Elder Smiley and we started to keep are eyes peeled...just a little more. We got on the bus and we were sitting next to a cute Asian family, so we started a conversation but started and ended with small talk. As we were sitting there B. got on the bus. We have seen B. around quite a bit and we have become friends. We started to talk to him on the bus and then he got off with us because he lives in the same complex as us. We ended up talking with him for about an hour about life and plans. We invited him to the potluck too and he came! It is cool to see friendships like that grow and he added me on Facebook as well so we can stay in contact. Pretty cool I think.

I love you guys so much and I hope that you have an awesome week!

We have seen some cool tender mercies...

Dear Fam,

This has been a good week and we have seen some cool tender mercies throughout our days. Yeah we are starting to implement some of our new ideas and that is yielding some new results. It wasn't game changing, but at least for us it is nice to have somewhat of a change of pace. I do feel a new sort of urgency that I want to fit as much as I can in such a short amount of time. I am just grateful that we have progress no matter how small or slow it is. 

I wanted to share a couple cool things from this last week. First we had an awesome Zone Meeting this week and we had a whole instruction on Positive Psychology. We got to watch a Ted talk about the correlation between success and happiness. Many people believe that success comes before happiness, but with that mentality you will always want to be more successful in what you are doing and you trap your self into never attaining the happiness that you deserve. But if you decide that happiness can come at all times in life then you will have a higher chance of being successful because your attitude will directly influence your productivity and efficiency. So in the end to be truly successful is actually to be happy. They found that when they encouraged people to develop certain habits that it would increase your mental positivity. Here they are:

Write down three things you are grateful for each day.
Keep a journal
Random Acts of Kindness

He said that if you make a conscious effort to do this for at least 21 days that it will help change your positivity and your happiness. I think that he is definitely right and the cool thing is those are things that the church has encouraged us to do for decades. The reason that we are encouraged to do that is because all of those things increase our spirituality and then as a result increases our relationship with Heavenly Father. So going even further when people are following these habits they are really building their relationship with God and their very own Spirit. Happiness is a fruit of the Gospel! Pretty cool. I am going to try to do that 21 day challenge as I am finishing up my mission. 

Another cool thing about that meeting is I was able to play a little musical number. It was fun to be able to use that talent again, I still get super nervous haha but it is rewarding. 

Now another cool story. On tuesday our evening was really open so Elder Smiley and I decided to call as many people as we could from our Area Book. A lot of them we got no responses, but they were a few that answered and then out of those few we were able to set up two visits. We set up a lesson with a guy named K. He is 17 years old, from the Bahamas and is a really intelligent person. He was the valedictorian of his High School and he just has a really open and willing heart. We asked him how he has seen God's love in his life and he told us that it was his family. He said that he has been blessed with a great family that loves him and supports him and because of that he knows that God loves him too. That is a pretty mature outlook for a 17 year old college student. We were able to teach him the Restoration and he agreed to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized if he finds that it is true. We are really looking forward to working with him more. Update on Sam...we haven't been able to get in contact with him for the past couple weeks. That is kinda disappointing, but we will keep trying!

I better get going. I love you guys so much and I just want to thank you for all the support everyone gives through prayers, letters and helping the missionaries in their area too. I love yall!

Elder Devin Soper

Friday, November 21, 2014

I got a new companion...

Hey everyone!

So I really don't have too much to report on this week. I got a new companion, Elder Smiley, and he is awesome! He is from Savannah, Georgia, been on his mission for about 17 months and he is just a good guy. I am not sure how I have been blessed with such great companions, but I feel really grateful. One thing about Elder Smiley and I is that we are able to talk. For some reason we can have meaningful conversations really about anything that is going on. That has been really fun and we have "nerded" out a lot about superheroes and Power Rangers. (By the way, he told me that they are planning on making a reboot Power Rangers movie. Haha I am so excited) We have had a crazy week with just getting everything settled and finding how we work here on LSU together. But it has been good, a little slow (like normal), but good. :)

Me and Elder Smiley

I am the District Leader again and I am actually really grateful for that. It is giving me something to think about and keep my brain working and focusing on missionary work. It has been a lot of fun too working with the missionaries in our District. I never thought I was going to be a leader again in the mission and so I am excited to try out some fun ideas and really be a missionary for the missionaries. We have an awesome district too and we are all already friends. That is a huge blessing and I think a testimony of how well the transfer is going to go. 

Yesterday was probably the best day of missionary work that I have had for a long time here. After Church we were able to have a lesson with M., a member from the ward and he and Elder Smiley hit it off right away. We were just able to talk to him about how things are going and it was a really rewarding visit. Then we had a stake Priesthood meeting were I had a tough time keeping my eyes open...oops. But it was still good and we were able to go out with a member for a few hours after that and search for some less-active people. We weren't able to find any, but we went and visited a member of the ward and had an awesome visit. We all talked about how we could improve the missionary work here at LSU and I think we came up with some good ideas. Well first of all Elder Smiley has already brainstormed some really inspired ideas on how to understand the work here and cater to the needs of college students and other single adults. So this other conversation was a continuation of that. We thought of maybe the idea of members and missionaries offering to help people with homework. We may not know what we are doing, but there are members in the ward that do and we might open up the institute for a safe and helpful place to do school work. We also talked about how we are successful in missionary work as long as we brightens someones day. It is better to be motivated by a desire to simply help people and then maybe (and probably) the subject of religion might come up. For example, there is this group of people that we have become friends with over the course of two transfers here and recently two of the them asked us if they could come to church with us sometime. How cool is that!

That sounds like it was a really cool Sunday School about goal planning. And yeah that is fine with me that you were able to use some of my planners. Haha I don't think that is very dumb thing to say. I also think that Heavenly Father wants us to have goals and in a way (when they are righteous goals) He accepts those and they become His for us as well. There is a cool quote by M. Russell Ballard from PMG that says, 

“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.

The LSU vs. Alabama game was absolutely crazy... there were so many people there and they were living it up. It is a fun atmosphere, but it is kind of overwhelming at the same time. We ran into quite a few members from different states and it was fun to have that connection with them. We ended up eating at 3 different tailgates too haha everybody we knew, but still kinda funny that we just hopped around. It was fun though.

I hope you guys have a great week and I am getting more and more excited to see yall again. Happy Birthday again Dad and I hope your week isn't too crazy busy. I love you guys so much!

Prayers and thoughts always,

Elder Devin Soper

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I am going to be staying here at LSU for my final transfer...

Dear mi familia,

Getting hit in the face with a pie for charity

So I am going to be staying here at LSU for my final transfer, but sadly Elder White is leaving. I am really grateful that we got to serve together for as long as we did, but I think that this next transfer will be good for the both of us with what we need. I am not sure who I am getting yet, but I will let you know this next week. I am excited to stay here too, I know the area fairly well and so it will be a good situation to really make the most of this transfer. Yeah haha I think it is nearly impossible to really keep it out of your mind. I have thought of it like a race (knowledge from my cross country experience haha) But during a race you are definitely thinking of doing your absolute best the whole time and giving it your all, but it is at the end where you really push  it to the end. Saying this, a runner doesn't have the mindset, "Man, I really wish the end wasn't so soon...I wish I could run more." Haha or maybe that is just me, but I used the finish as a motivation and a goal, but you do have to acknowledge it and appreciate it too. I have a feeling that this will probably be the fastest transfer of all and that is a little scary, but good at the same time. And about the bike, yeah we can probably get the office elders to help us figure that out. I am imagining too that I could probably send it home a few weeks early, we haven't really used our bikes that much here and things are close enough to walk. I am going to talk to the office about it soon and I will let you know what they say. 

I loved seeing the halloween pictures!! Taylor looks like some people that I really have seen down here and Emma pulled off the hipster super hero like a true hipster. I like the retro old timey look you and dad had...I see Pa Pierre made a reappearance :) Dang I still can't believe the little belly that Haley has now, but I did really like their Christmas combo costumes. 

Holy cow I can't believe what happened to Alex! That whole thing seemed so scary and strange. Not to add to the fear, but I have heard some scary stories from missionaries down in south America of things that have happened. But I do also want to say that I know that there were Angels there protecting Alex and his companion. The Lord takes very good care of his missionaries and even though unfortunate things happen like that, I know there is still divine protection involved. I will be praying for him. 

Last transfer I still felt like I still had a lot of time left, but once it hit November, it also hit me. It is a bitter-sweet thing, but like you said it is mostly sweet. Even though it is sad that you we will all kind of leave this season of our life, I just know all the wonderful experiences I have had and the relationships that have been created. Really it will just keep getting better and better! This last week has been a little tough in terms of lessons and the amount of work that we have had. We had a good number of appointments set up here, but they all ended up falling through at the last minute. That is always a little disheartening, but it is part of being a missionary. My mind has gone a little blank haha so I think today I am going to just send a little list of things I am grateful for:

·         The opportunity to be a missionary
·         My family
·         All of my companions and what they have taught me
·         The friends that I have made on my mission
·         The families I have met on my mission and the close relationships that we have created
·         Two great mission presidents that have helped me understand my purpose
·         Knowing what my weaknesses are and the ability to be aware of them
·         The talents that Heavenly Father has given me and the motivation to try to improve them
·         Forgiveness
·         Good Health and the means to keep that up
·         The scriptures
·         The second chances that we get every single day.
·         The many opportunities that we have to serve and help others
·         Being able to recognize the little tender mercies
·         Being able to witness miracles
·         Prayer!
·         Music and the spirit that it brings into my life
·         The social skills that the Lord has helped me develop on my mission
·         The strength that we get through the Atonement
·         The success that I have been able to have on my mission in so many different ways
·         Everything falling into place and perfect timing coming on my mission and coming home
·         Being able to keep in contact with my friends and family though out my mission easily
·         The love that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost have for us
·         The peace and happiness that comes from living the Gospel

There are more haha, but I probably should get going soon. I am super excited that Elder King and I have a place to stay and I hope everything works out with the classes. Thank you so much for everything and I love you guys so much!! Have an awesome week.

Prayers and Thoughts always,


Elder Debuns Soper