Monday, August 31, 2015

Changwon Jinhae

Hey everyone!
        I made it! I'm finally here! Haha I can say it's been the longest week of my life. I went from the comfort of the MTC and doing really well, to a whole new world that is literally half way around the world. It all started with the longest flight I could ever imagine. Twelve hours on a plane was a rough task, especially when the sun didn't go down. We arrived in Seoul and found that our luggage had been lost.... go figure right??  It showed up two days later in the mission field. We spent the night in Seoul before heading to the mission home in Busan, where our mission got started right away. We were set up with a trainer and we headed out the next morning to our new areas. I've been assigned with Elder Schwarze in the area of Changwon Jinhae. It's a beautiful city that's really close to the ocean. I'm super excited to be serving here. I know that people are waiting for me to deliver the gospel. We're having to "white wash" the area, meaning there are no investigators. We're starting from ground zero. But I can't wait to see where we're at in a few months from here.
        I'll start with a funny story real quick... Last night we happened to be tracting an area where we saw a young teenager sitting on a bench. Me and my companion went and took a seat next to the person and realized something. We're only supposed to tract other men, not women in any way, shape or form. Well... the person talked, and it kind of turned out to be a girl... Whoops (; We quickly walked away after a  quick discussion and gave each other the look of like, "oh crap what did we just do look." My companion looked at me and said, "I was one hundred percent sure that was a guy." Oh well right (;
        I can say that this week has been one of the most difficult of my mission, if not my life. I've never been thrown into a situation like this. However, I've grown so much in a week. I quickly learned that this isn't Utah anymore (; I went from a city of a few thousand, to a city of a few million. I went from always being sure of what I'd eat, or what my plans were, to now wondering if I'll like the next meal, or how I'm going to get home. However, as my faith guides and directs me, I learn to rely on the Savior. My prayers are sincere, if not always emotional because I always need to talk with my Heavenly Father so deeply. My scripture study is so powerful because I feel like everything applies to me. It's truly been an incredible week. As I've been thrown into a new life, the Savior is guiding and leading me through each and every day. I know the Savior is aware of me and all that I'm doing.
        Everything I've heard about Korea has been true concerning the people. The people are so genuine to us. They're so humble and willing to help us. I had the opportunity to attend stake conference and meet the entire stake. What incredible people. I'm coming to love them so much as I'm around them more. The lesson I learned this week is that whether I'm back home in Ferron in my home ward, or half way across the world... the church is the same. It's still true, and it's still built upon the same principles and love of Jesus Christ. We're all children of God. I know that's true. He's aware of every single one of us. I'm so grateful to be a missionary, because I'm so close to the Savior and His teachings, and the people He loves and watches out for.
        I love my mission. Although it's a whole new place, and a whole new culture, I love the work and I love serving and helping people. I know that as I continue to work through the difficulty of it, I'll find my reason to be here. I know that Jesus Christ walked the loneliest path that anyone has ever had to take so He could help me in situations like this. I know He lives, and that He knows us personally and without end. He atoned for us. He took our burdens upon Him so He could see us through everything. I'm so grateful for that. I truly love this gospel.
        Thanks everyone for the constant support and love. I'm so grateful for it. I've got the greatest support. Love you guys! Can't wait to talk next week!

Love, Elder Roper

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I've Already Paid The Price

P-Day already?? Anyway...Hey everybody!
       Another week down in the MTC! It'll be my last as I'll be heading to Korea early Monday morning! My next email will come from over six thousand miles away! Where in the world have the last two months gone?? But I'm so excited to finally serve. I know that someone has been prepared for me, and I can't wait to share the message of the gospel. My last week here in the MTC is ending in a great way. It's been my hardest week here for sure as I was informed of an accident back home to close friends. It definitely hit me hard.  But how grateful am I to know of God's plan for us, and His love for us. I know that in times of great trial our faith will never abandon us. That's the one thing I cling to here. As this week has progressed, I thought of a story I was told in the MTC that I'd like to share.
       A young boy ten years of age seemed to have the same lifestyle of every boy. Not a care in the world, a love to cause havoc, and a wild personality. Externally, he had no problems. Internally, the young boy was slowly deteriorating as he was diagnosed with a disease that would certainly end his short life. The days grew short, and the memories were engraved in memory as the young boy began to fade day by day. His strength began to get weaker, and his young heart stopped beating. His family mourned his loss, they wondered how in the world they would live without their young son. It seemed that life had been put on hold. No knowledge of the gospel, and no knowledge of the Savior, they seemed utterly lost and in total despair.
       The room was shining bright white as the young boy entered. It was above all description that he could describe. He had no idea what was going on. Looking further around the room, he noticed a long row of filing cabinets, each labeled with something different. One was labeled "best memories", another was labeled "accomplishments", and another labeled "service for others", but the list went on and on. There were too many to count. He continued down the row to the last filing cabinet, where it was labeled "mistakes". His heart dropped to his feet, as he reached for the lever and opened the cabinet. One by one, he began to pull out the papers. His eyes began to fill with tears at the mistakes he had made in his life. He began to weep bitterly. He began to regret his life. With his hands over his eyes and sorrow in his heart, he suddenly felt a soft, gentle hand fall upon his shoulder. Looking up, he knew at an instant who it was, although he had no knowledge of the gospel. The Savior stood over him, with tears in his eyes. The little boy overwhelmed, began to cry, feeling unworthy to stand in His presence. As the young boy began to cry, so did the Savior. He wept with him. The Savior, then looking at the young boy, calmly said, "Well done thy good and faithful servant." Then, taking his hand off the young boy's shoulders, He reached into the filing cabinet, and pulled out each paper one by one. Taking a pen, he signed his name. Turning to the boy he said, "My son, I've already paid the price. Now come, I have a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father."
       My week has turned to the thoughts of my Savior. When in the times that I have doubts, or I struggle, all I have to remember is that He already paid the price. Our Savior walked the loneliest path utterly alone so we wouldn't have to. Through his long and lonesome path, He knows how to succor and lead us. He guides us when we need it, and He weeps with us when we can't take the burdens that life has to offer. He never leaves us alone. I know my Savior more fully than I ever have before. I know He lives, and loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend. His love can't be described. In weeks like this when I don't understand why things happen, or why God's plan doesn't match mine, I simply remember that He paid the price so we wouldn't have to. Oh the joy this sentence gives, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."
       I love this gospel. I grow stronger each and every day. I'm so excited that I finally get to go to Korea and teach those who are in need. I know it will be hard, and that there will be times of struggle. However, I know my faith and love of the Savior will guide and lead me through anything I will face. I know this gospel is true. I'm so grateful to have been born in the church. I'm grateful for my family, and their love and support. I feel the love of eternal families. I can't wait to go and help those in Korea become eternal through the gospel.
       Thanks for the constant love and support. I can't thank you enough. I'm so appreciative and never will be able to repay all of you. I love you all and can't wait to write here soon. Thanks so much. Talk to you guys soon!

Love, Elder Roper

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Remember The Promises

Hey everyone!
     Seems like the weeks pass so fast here!  This week was another incredible week. We're only a week and half from leaving. It's starting to become a lot more real to us all. We have so much more to learn and try to comprehend. We know we have a long ways to go, but we're all so excited this week to go. This week I also got to see Elder and Sister Whittle from my home ward. It made my week! There's nothing better than seeing those people who have always supported you through everything. So appreciative of their example here. Even here, they continue to be a huge support and inspiration for me. However, I still think it's unfair that they'll leave here before I will (; 
     When I was a little kid, I loved to play with dinosaurs. I wasn't into cars, or superheroes, or even action figures. I would sit down in my room for hours and play with my dinosaurs. Well... in fact, my one dinosaur. Despite the hundreds I had, there was one I played with through everything. For years, I beat this thing to death. So much, that it eventually lost both its arms, both its legs, its head, and well... its tail fell off too. After years there was nothing left of it, and I eventually learned to move on. Even now, ten years later, it still holds a special place in my heart, because it truly explains my childhood. It meant the world to me as a little kid. This week I found someone who can share a similar experience. 
     10:30 rolled around on Monday night and we said our prayers and were getting ready to turn out the light, when a knock came on our door. It was another missionary saying that we we'd be getting a new roommate for the night, and that he spoke very little English.  We were excited to have him, and he came into our room a few minutes later. Jet-lagged, exhausted, and having traveled from Korea during the day, the Elder was hungry and didn't have any food with him. Having a big huge stash of food (thanks mom) I reached into my drawers and grabbed him some and handed it to him. He seemed excited and before taking the food, he ran to his bag and pulled out a small plastic boar pig and brought it back. I didn't know what in the world he was doing. He came over and asked if I wanted it. Not sure what it was, and not wanting "payment" for the food, I told him he could keep it. He looked at me and said, "No, I want you to have it." I said okay and took the small plastic boar pig. As the night went on, I realized the true important of that small $0.50 pig. 
     The Elder told us of his conversion story. A recent convert to the church, baptized only in February. He used to be heavy into drinking and smoking. One day the missionaries knocked on his door and began to teach the lessons. He loved it. However, the word of wisdom problems continued to hold him back. The missionaries, trying to help the young man, made him a promise. They bought him a small plastic dinosaur and told the missionary. "I want you to carry this dinosaur with you all the time. Whenever you think of drinking, or smoking, look at this dinosaur and remember the promise you kept." The Elder did so, and he kept his promise. He was then baptized soon after. Because of his story and his conversion, the Elder decided to try and touch others lives. He came to America with one thousand plastic figurines in his suitcase. His plan? He intends to hand out every single one to those who influence him the most, and to those he teaches so they can remember their promises to their Savior. After hearing that, I knew that small, plastic pig would be carried with me throughout the remainder of my mission as a reminder of the promises I'm keeping to my Savior, Jesus Christ.
     In Alma 37:41, it states, "Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works." A small means such as a plastic dinosaur was the cause for one of God's children to receive the gospel. What an incredible and powerful testimony of this gospel. Six months ago, this elder was struggle to be baptized. Now, here he is, six thousand miles away from, with a very small and simple testimony, ready to teach those people who are prepared to come unto Christ. I know faith is the foundation of our testimony. By small things, great things truly do come to pass. For the love I had for my dinosaur when I was a little kid, to the love I know have for a small dinosaur that brought a soul to our Savior. May we act upon the small and simple things in our life. They truly bring about miracles. As a missionary, I get to see them every single day. Have faith in your testimony, and in the knowledge you have received. Faith builds our foundation, so we can all prepare our own personal mansion in the Kingdom of God. Whether through a small seed as Alma states, or through a small plastic dinosaur, have faith to do miracles. Have the faith to astonish someone. Have the faith to follow our Savior's example. 
     I love this gospel and and I have such a love for missionary work. I have for those I get to serve around me. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I know my Savior lives. Jesus is the Christ. I'm so grateful I've come to find that out as I'm trying to develop my faith. Thanks for the support I love you all! I'm so grateful for everything. I will never be able to thank all of you enough.

Love, Elder Roper

Elder Roper's sister got married and although he couldn't be there, he was there in spirit

Congrats to Whitney & Chance!

Elder Roper rockin his groomsmen outfit.  Thanks for the tie Mary!

Best looking groomsman around!

Remember the promise you kept

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Lord Will Never Be Disappointed

Hey everyone!
     It was another great week! I can't believe it but we're the oldest district in the Korean branch now. Less than three weeks from now and I'll be out of here! On the bright side too, I found the scale this week and still have yet to gain a pound from the nasty food I eat every day (; The MTC ain't gonna get the best of me (; Like always, I'm learning so much here. Every week I'm progressing so much. My testimony has grown more than I could have ever hoped for in only six weeks. My Korean is continuing to grow. We've hit the most difficult part of the language, so it's a slow and gradual process to learn. No matter how much I learn here, there's no doubt it'll be a trial of faith in Korea. I'm ready for it though (:
     This week we were able to hear from Elder Russel M. Nelson in the devotional! First apostle we've heard! I was able to sit closer to him than the mound is to home plate. He is such a power speaker. I know that he's a man of God. The spirit is so overwhelming when a man like that walks into a building. It was one of the most overwhelming promptings of the spirit I've received since I've been here.
     Elder Russel M. Nelson was a heart surgeon many years ago. To me, everything he said seemed to apply to the heart. The lesson I got out of the devotional was that I needed to "Plant the gospel within the depths of my heart." As he talked about the miracle of the heart, I came to know what that meant. He said a heart surgery is a very complex and strict process. Everything must be done perfectly in order to be successful. The heart is protected by everything surrounding it, and can only be accessed in certain ways. If you truly talk want to keep the gospel in everything you do, the heart is the only place you can plant it. It's protected there. Nothing can take away something planted in the heart once it's there. However, through Jesus Christ, the heart can still be accessed. Like heart surgery, there's only one way, and that's through our Savior. 
     Elder Nelson also talked a lot about missionary "trials and struggles" and how the Savior is always there to support us. He mentioned the atonement, and how the hardest part of the atonement is forgiving ourselves. Isn't that perfectly true?? He talked about the repentance process and how we're suppose to apply it. The most important thing he said was that "No matter how down, or disappointed you may feel in yourself, the Lord will never be disappointed in you." I loved that quote. There's times here when I feel like I can't do enough, or I'm not doing good enough. But after hearing that I realized that God truly loves me and is so grateful that I've made the decision to serve. There will be times of struggle and disappointment. However, Christ truly will make up all the difference if I do my part. Nothing is impossible with the Lord on your side. 
     Tomorrow my sister will be sealed for time and all eternity, and it's crazy how quickly it's come. I can't believe that I won't be there. Her wedding has weighed on my mind for days, if not weeks. I made the decision to serve and to miss it, but I know that it was the right thing to do. Because of Whitney's decision to serve a mission just over two years ago, I learned about what eternity truly had in store. Through her actions, I've been sealed to my family. I now get to have the blessings of Whit getting married in the temple. And one day that doesn't seem to far off, I'll to be married in the temple like my parents, and my sister. I'm so grateful for the temple. I'm so grateful that I'll be sealed with my family forever. I'm so excited that tomorrow I'll receive a new brother in Chance. I also can't wait for the day when I'll follow in their footsteps and receive my own eternity with own eternal companion. I know that being sealed is the greatest blessing anyone can ever receive. Only through the gospel can families be together forever. 
     I love you Whit. I'm so grateful for your example. I'll be there tomorrow in heart, wishing more than anything I could be there. It's truly incredible to see that the little girl who wanted to be married in the temple all those years ago will get that finally tomorrow. I'm so happy for you Whit. You laid the path like the Savior for our family. Everything you've ever done has led you to this day. Tomorrow will truly be the happiest day of your life.
     I love the gospel and I'm so grateful to be a missionary. There's no place I'd rather be. I'm not the same person I was six weeks ago when I walked in here. Every day I learn more of what's important. I love my Savior and I know that He knows me individually and that he carries me through everything I do. I know He lives. 
     Thanks for the support, the love, the letters, the prayers, everything. I'm so grateful for it all. I can't thank you all enough. Can't wait to talk to you all next week!

Love, Elder Roper