Thursday, July 30, 2015

Prayer Is Like A Flashlight

Hey everyone!
            It was another great week! I've been here over a month, and in a few days we'll be the oldest district in the MTC. We're considered the "veterans" after being in here this long! In only a few weeks I'll be headed to Korea! Am I prepared for it??? Probably not haha, but I'm so excited to finally use everything I've been preparing for. 
            This week was just so great. I honestly can't say enough about how much I love being here, and how happy I am to be serving.  I was released as District Leader and then called to be Zone Leader. I'm continuing to learn so much. The language is just coming so quickly for me....well at least here. Once I make it Korea, I'll probably realize I don't know anything (; However, I've realized that whenever I work hard, the Lord makes up the difference in my lack of language knowledge. Through the spirit, there's not a thing that we can't accomplish. 
            This week I was able to give my first priesthood blessing. A sister in my district asked if I could give her a blessing of comfort. I had never done one before, and it was one of the neatest things I've been able to do. Through all the sports I've played, I don't think I've ever been so nervous. My heart was completely pounding out of my chest as I got to exercise the Melchizedek Priesthood for the first time. It's definitely something I'll always remember.
            The most spiritual message I received this week came from our devotional on Tuesday night. An emeritus general authority spoke to us about the power of prayer. As a missionary, we pray right around twenty times a day at least. And even then, it's still not enough it seems like. He talked about being casual in our prayers, and how that when we don't truly pray with a sincere heart, and with humility, we aren't exercising our faith as needed, and we're limiting ourselves to the blessings that we can receive. He talked about having a conversation with Heavenly Father, just like you're sitting with Him face to face. It made me think of a story I heard years ago in sacrament. I'll rephrase it in my own words as I can remember it. 
            There were two women who had been asked to watch over an elderly woman in her home. The woman, very old and feeble, was confined to her bed. The two women would go in every single day and proceed to do what had to be done for the old woman that they were serving. The first time they walked into the house, they noticed an old rocking chair sitting right next to the bed. Assuming it was in the way, they asked if they needed to move the chair. The old woman said, "No, Jesus sits in that chair every single day and we sit here and talk to each other for awhile." The two women didn't think much of it, and left the chair where it was.
            They continued going back each day and helping the elderly woman out. However, she began to slowly decline in health, and the two women knew it was only a matter of time before she passed away. They day came, when the two walked into the house, and the old woman had finally passed away. They looked at the old woman lying in her bed, and broke into tears as they saw that she had her head lying upon the edge of the rocking chair, as if she was leaning her head upon something. They knew that she had told Christ that she was ready to go in her daily conversation. It was her last comfort of this mortal life was to be contained within the arms of the Savior, Jesus Christ. 
            This story came to my mind as I sat through the devotional. I knew I was being casual in my prayers and I knew I needed to be better. I realized that I truly have to invite God into my life, and not get casual. A sincere prayer acts as a flashlight in the dark. It's the one thing that will always see through the darkness and the trials that we all must face in life. I know that's true, and I have a testimony of talking with my Heavenly Father each and every day. I know as we humble ourselves before Christ, we'll come to have a greater love for the Savior than ever before.
            I love this place, and I'm happier than ever. I'm continuing to grow and progress each and every day. I'm getting so excited as the days get closer when I'll soon be six thousand miles away in Korea. I'm more prepared than ever to serve the Lord's children and anyone else I can. Thanks for the constant support and love I get every week. Thanks for the prayers I feel the blessings in my life because of them. It means the world and I'm so grateful for everything. Love you guys! Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Roper

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bridle Your Passions

Hey everyone!
            Been another great week! I can't believe I hit the one-month mark already. It's been the most beneficial month of my life. There's not another place that would benefit me more. If I were to come home today, I'd come home a lot bigger and better person than when I left... but hey.... I only got twenty-three more months (; 
            I don't have any funny stories this week but I like to think that's a good thing (; That means I haven't completely made a fool of myself right? But everything is progressing so quickly. The language is coming very clearly to me right now. This week I finally could give a testimony guided completely by the spirit. I always get emotional when bearing testimony. It's the greatest feeling knowing I can give a testimony in Korean, and the words just flow out because of what I'm feeling.  Words can't describe what I feel knowing the Savior leads and guides me through everything here.
            This week there were so many spiritual moments. There always are. But the thing I want to share you guys today comes from my own personal study. Every single morning I study the Book of Mormon for an hour. I've never had a sure testimony until I came here. I thought I had one until I started studying out every single thing I could. I absolutely love the Book of Mormon. In Alma 38:12, the scripture says..."and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love." I read this passage and I couldn't figure it out. I said a silent prayer because I knew it applied to me. What passions do I need to put aside, and what love will I receive? When I think of passions, I think of things we love. The things we care about most. But as I thought about it, I realized that "passions" were the things holding me back.  The things that keep me from progressing. Even though every single day here is committed to the Savior, I have things that slow me down or take my mind off the work. I need to put aside my fears, my worries, my concerns, and truly "bridle my passions" so I can feel love. And most importantly, that is the love of the the Savior. In short, we must put aside anything that keeps us from progressing. It was a lesson to me that there's always room for my improvement. I know every single one of us has "passions" that hold us back. I know with the entire sincerity of my heart if we put aside all those things, we'll truly come to love the gospel in its fullness. 
            This week I also got to go the temple for the very first time since being here. Wow, I love the temple. I'm looking forward to going again today. As I sat in the temple I couldn't help but think of the time I was sealed with my family two years ago and made eternal. I think of my sister Whitney and feel so happy at the thought of her being married there in just over two weeks so her new family will always be eternal. Even though I won't be there, I have that peace knowing that only through this gospel can families be together forever. I have such a testimony of temples. I have such a witness of eternal families and how crucial they are. That family is the most important thing on this earth and in the eternities. If there's one thing I've learned here, it's how much family impacts us in everything. That through my family's example, other families, and more, I too look forward to the blessings of eternity in the temple when I get home. I love this gospel and I know more than ever now that it's true. It's truly perfect. I'm so grateful that I diligently get to serve the Savior every single day. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I've never been so happy in my life. Only here can you experience that true joy. I love you all. I appreciate the prayers, the support, the letters, and emails. They make everything worth it. Thanks for everything so much! Can't wait to talk next week!

Love, Elder Roper

Elder Jenkins from Manti and Elder Roper

Thursday, July 16, 2015

We Have Eternity

Hello Everyone!
         Well another great week down! We just finished our third week here and we're now the second oldest district because one left just this week. Can't believe how quickly the time is passing here. I'm loving every second and look forward to every single day.
         This language is one that just loves to cause me grief it seems. This week I made another "mistake" with our investigator....The same one that didn't want the dragon spirit haha... Our teacher told us that we needed to ask our investigator if they would receive baptism. I was thinking she was completely crazy. We can barely communicate and they were going to be baptized??? Well yeah... she said no to our baptism to no surprise. We thanked her for her time and I asked my companion to offer the closing prayer. Well I thought I did at least. My companions and the investigator just busted out laughing at me and I had no idea why. I had actually asked my companion if he would then be offered to be baptized in perfect Korean. I guess I just thought my investigator needed an example, and if my companion got baptized, maybe she'd want to as well (; The language is coming along really great though. All my prayers are in Korean, we can teach lessons so much better too. It's coming better every day.  I’ve also been called as District Leader so I’m excited for this amazing opportunity to serve.
         "And it came to pass when they arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again..." (Alma 17:13)
         This week has been one of emotion and questions at certain points. My mom told me this week that little Kycie Terry passed away this week after having battled complications of diabetes. She told me of the family's unwavering faith, and how the path little Kycie set will help the lives of others who face the same struggle. I read this with a full heart, knowing her family is showing the miraculous power of true faith. In the LDS movie “Charly”, there's a quote that states, "When it matters most, your faith won't abandon you." We all face trials, temptations, and daily struggle. However, it's a matter of how we react. Do we live by faith or do we live by something else? Kycie's family bares witness of turning outward to others instead of thinking of themselves. They know that Kycie has carved a path for those of similar struggles. Like the Savior, little Kycie had to walk a very difficult path so others could feel the benefit. Right now though, I know that little Kycie now stands as a perfect being who's walking hand in hand with her loving Heavenly Father. As the movie “Charly” states, "Why does it matter? We have eternity." I know that to be true. As we all recognize true faith in Jesus Christ, we'll realize that this life is a stepping stone to only greater things. As hard and difficult as it may be, we need to realize that God's plan is greater than ours, and He only does what's truly best for His children. I love my Savior and I know he sees me through anything I'll ever face. I'm so grateful knowing that He took that lonely path so we don't have to. I can say I'm truly coming to know of the Savior. Not about Him, but of Him.
         I love this place. I truly experience the pure joy that the gospel has to offer here. Only through the gospel can we experience joy. Happiness is something everyone can have, but joy is only connected with the Savior. I'm so grateful to be out here and serving those who I can. I'm loving each and every day, strengthening my testimony and becoming my first convert. Thanks for the constant support, letters, emails, and everything else. I truly appreciate everything. Love all you guys. Can't wait to talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder Roper

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Walk Towards The Savior

Hey everyone!
         Quote of the Week to start! A man asked Gordon B. Hinckley once how he knew the church was true. President Hinckley looked at the man and said, "I know it's true, because God told me it was true." Just something to get you guys thinking (;
         It's been another great week here at the MTC! I just absolutely love every single day. Every day I’m learning so much and I’m just so happy to be here. The joy I feel each day can't be described.
         My week started out with my most "embarrassing" moment so far here in the MTC. We were teaching an investigator and trying to speak Korean, and let me tell you guys that one letter makes a huge difference in the language. I was trying to tell the investigator that if she was faithful, she could receive eternal life. Well...translated to English, “yong seng” is eternal life, and “yong song” is dragon spirit. I told my investigator that if she was faithful, she could receive the dragon spirit. Whoops...haha! One stinking letter or sound makes all the difference. But hey... if the dragon spirit isn't enough to get you motivated, then I don't know what will (; But in all honesty, I'm progressing so much in the language. Only through the hand of Christ could we learn this much in only two weeks. The gift of tongues is real. I experience it every single day.
         July 4th was such a special day here in the MTC as well. I may have missed the fireworks, the small town gatherings, and the people I love more than anything. However, I gained a testimony of our nation and how the gospel played role in it. I know we were foreordained to be leaders in preparation for the gospel. Heavenly Father prepared this nation, knowing a young Joseph Smith would seek to find the truth. It was unlike any 4th of July I've ever had, but one I'll always hold close to my heart.
         Lastly, like always, the devotionals are so powerful. One story stands out to me in particular. In Matthew 14:25-33, Peter asks Christ if he can join the Savior on the water, in which the Savior says he can. However, only through faith will he be able to do so. Peter steps onto the water and stays afloat for a moment before the weather begins to stir up. Making Peter fear, he begins to sink. Peter cries out, "Oh Lord, save me." Instantly, the Savior raises him up and delivers him. Like Peter, we must step out of the boat in pure faith, and walk towards the Savior despite the howling storms in our life, knowing that when we begin to sink, the Lord will deliver us. We must have faith to walk on water and do miracles. But to do so, we must first, have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. I know that to be true.
         I absolutely love my mission so far. I've grown so much in only two weeks in my knowledge of the gospel and the Savior. I've come to find that the heart teaches the mind according to our deepest desires. Because of that, I'm truly coming to know the Savior personally. I know He lives. I know He loves me more than I can comprehend and I'm so grateful for that. Thanks so much for the prayers and thoughts. I feel them each day. Thanks for the support. I love you guys. Talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder Roper

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Miracles Happen Every Day

     Hey everyone! My first week in the MTC has been amazing! It has been such a great week and I'm so excited that I'm finally a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I can't believe that I'm finally here. The MTC has been everything that I thought it would be. The people are great, the spirit is strong, and the hand of the Lord is everywhere. Miracles happen here every single day.
     My companions, district, and zone are the best I could ask for. I have two companions who are great examples to me and push me every day. There's Elder Finch, a kid I played in basketball from Merit Academy, and Elder King. They're both great companions.
     We spend eight hours a day studying the gospel and the things we've learned are incredible. In a matter of a week, we can read Korean, say a broken prayer, and teach simple lessons with investigators. The gift of tongues is evident in all we do if spoken by the spirit. Every single day we're getting better. 
     The spirit is overwhelming here. Every day is a spiritual high. I learn so much. This week I learned why I'm suppose to be here. To my amazement, I found out this week that there's a difference of conversion and testimony. I'm not here to gain a testimony. I'm here to be converted. My first convert has to be myself. Testimony is a knowledge of the gospel, while conversion is acting upon our knowledge within the intent of our hearts to help others. Only after I am converted, will I be able to serve the Lord's people. I must turn outward instead of inward to myself. It's not a matter of what I'm going to gain from being here, but what I can give to others.
     Thanks everyone for your love and support. I know I'm suppose to be here. This will be one of the hardest things I'll ever do, but I absolutely love it. I wouldn't be here without the constant love, support, and help. Thanks so much, I love you all. Please keep me in your prayers. Talk to you next week!!!

Love, Elder Roper