Monday, September 28, 2015

Christ Is The Answer

Helllloooo everybody! Another week gone... Another week flying by!
      What a great week! Everything is going good here in Korea! Whether it's the fact that I can stomach the food, or I understand when people ask me where I come from, or anything else... this week seemed to get sooo much better (; To start you off with my funny story for the week, Koreans are soooo picky about food. They want to have the best food prepared. This week we're eating at a member's house for "Korean Thanksgiving" and the woman who prepared the food asked me a question. Did I have any idea what she was saying??? Nope... not a clue. So I just nodded my head and said, "Yes." My companion looked at me and said, "Elder Roper, you thought her food was gross?" The woman had actually asked me if I thought her cooking was bad. Not knowing what in the world she said, I just nodded my head, and with a smile on my face said, "Yes." Whoops...Maybe next time I'll understand... if not, I'll just keep nodding and hope yes is the correct answer!
      This week was  by far my best that I've had. I feel like I've finally climbed the steep part and am starting to level out. The culture is starting to grow on me, the language is coming rapidly, and I have a sincere love for the Korean people and everybody else around me. I wake up everyday happy, and anxious to start the day. 
      I hit my three month mark this week, and as I looked back, I couldn't help but think of how far I've come. In three months I've grown sooo much. Little things I thought I did well turned to weaknesses. The unwavering faith I thought I had ended up being weak. Things I thought I was good at... well, it turned out I wasn't. However, in three months, I've came so far, and I'm working to make myself become a lot better in those areas. As I've thought about this email, I couldn't help but think of how my transformation in Korea has been like the new Provo Town Center Temple that's currently being built. I thought about that temple a lot since I drove by it a month ago on my way to Korea, and thought of how Christ has used that temple as the perfect example of every single person. 
      The Provo Tabernacle was a beautiful building. You looked at it, and couldn't help but have a feeling of peace in your heart. However, the tabernacle caught on fire, and burned unexpectedly. It was seemingly destroyed. The only thing that remained within the tabernacle, was a picture of the Savior.  The entire picture was burned, for the exception of the Savior Himself. What a miracle. The explanation of my first three months in the mission field are like the Provo Tabernacle. In the last three months, I've experienced heartache, pain, sickness, trial, and struggle. Like the tabernacle, that was my own personal "burning to the ground" for my life. I was utterly destroyed and devastated at times. I had been turned from a "tabernacle", to a pile of ashes. However, when the Savior is present, miracles take place. What was once a pile of ashes, a broken and abandoned building, is now being turned into a beacon for the world to see. It's now in transformation to become a House of God. What an incredible transformation. It's one that every single one of us has to make.
      We're all "tabernacles" in one way or another. We're all servants of our Heavenly Father. We love our Savior. However, there are times in our lives when we are truly "burnt to the ground", burdened with the trials that life throws at us. However, that's exactly what we need in order to make our own personal transformation. He turns us from something beautiful, like a tabernacle, to something miraculous, and eternal, like the temple. When life throws struggles at you, and you feel burnt, or defeated, remember that the Savior sends His strongest servants the hardest tasks. Don't ask for an easy life, but pray to endure a hard one. I know we can all endure and make our own personal transformation into something beautiful and lasting. Like the only thing left in the tabernacle.... Christ is the answer. Let Him succor you and lead you through everything. 
      I know He lives. I know He guides the head of this church. He is our Savior, and Redeemer. Through Christ, everything is truly possible. How grateful I am for my Savior. I wouldn't be here without His help. I know with the entire sincerity of my heart that He atoned for me. He shed drops of blood for me. After, He made the lonely trek to Calvary, where He was crucified, and died for every single one of us in order to transform us. He did that for us. How grateful I am for that. I love my Savior.
      Thanks so much everyone for everything. I love you all and I pray for you daily. I have the greatest support, halfway across the world. Thank you sooo much. Love you all talk to you next week. Can't wait!

Elder Roper

Monday, September 21, 2015

Heed The Spirit

Hey everybody! Another week already gone?!?
      First things first, thanks sooo much for all the birthday wishes! It was a great day for sure. A lot different being six thousand miles away, but special all the same. One thing in Korea is that I'm actually 20, and not 19 (; If I go by age, I'll never be 19 in my life. Kind of a cool thought (; I'm so grateful for all the support I'm receiving. I love the emails so much. Know that I'll get back to you all as soon as I possibly can. Hopefully sooner than later (: Thanks so much. I'm sooo grateful for them all. It completely made my week (:
      This week it seemed like everything began to fall in place as missionary work goes. This week we really focused on picking up new ways to find investigators, and we found it... well, for now at least (;  Crazy enough, we found that one of the greatest things here to use is basketball. We challenge the Koreans to basketball games, and then teach them lessons after we finish playing. It's one of the greatest ways we can relate to those around us.
      This week I had a neat experience on the basketball court. No, it wasn't playing in the state championship game or the high school stage like I'm use to, but an experience just as special to me. On a ghetto basketball court that doesn't even have nets on the rims, I found my first investigator in Korea. As we were playing a three on three game with a few others, I watched as a kid stood far off from the court. He was wearing glasses, his school uniform, and watching us play. On first sight, I had the strongest prompting... I needed to speak to this kid and ask him to play. I walked off the court in the middle of the game and walked up to the kid and in broken Korean, asked the kid if he liked basketball and if he wanted to play. His eyes gleamed with light as he followed me to the court, where we put him on our team and began to play. We played for a while, and the night ended. After the game, we introduced ourselves and the kid showed some interest in who we were. He began to ask questions, and we taught our first lesson there in the middle of a run down basketball court. Later this week, we met with him again, and taught him another lesson. It only took a month, but through the spirit I was led to someone. I don't know where it will lead, but I can't deny the feeling I had when I talked to the young man. 
      The spirit is the most powerful thing we have in our lives. It's the thing that truly leads and guides us in all that we do. As a missionary, if we don't have the spirit, we can't teach. There are a times as a missionary when it's obvious when the spirit isn't completely present, but there's also times when you're so in tune that you know exactly what to do, where to go, and who you're suppose to teach. In my life before Korea, I didn't follow the spirit exactly. It seemed like the spirit would have to be yelling at me in order to get my attention. It's something I wish I would've have done differently. However, the most important things the spirit speaks to us in are in the smallest, tiniest, and most unexpected moments. As followers of Christ, we have to listen for the smallest sense of inspiration. The spirit is kind of like a phone call I've learned. It'll call you constantly, but if you don't pick up, you won't receive what needs to be said. The spirit may act like a loud ringtone, or maybe a small vibration. However, we have to be in tune to feel whatever it may give us. Listen for that small, tiny prompting of the spirit in your lives. Live by the spirit in all that you do. If you heed the spirit, you'll be a true disciple of Christ. It's something I wish I would've learned sooner in my life. 
      I love this mission, and I love waking up knowing I'm a servant of the Lord and doing everything I can to help other people. There's still hard days, but that doesn't take away from the love I feel each and every day. In the last three months, I've never felt sooo happy, and so lost at the same time. However, I wouldn't want it any other way. How grateful I am to be here. I love the gospel. I want to testify of the grace of Christ. I know He lives. I know His grace is sufficient for all we do. Never is there a thing that can't be conquered through the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Redeemer of the world. He was crucified after He shed drops of blood from every pore in Gethsemane. Many, for my mistakes. However, because of His love, we all too can partake of his eternal, and perfect love that He so fully offers us. I love my Savior more than words, or feelings will ever be able to describe. There's nothing I wouldn't do to repay Him for leading me, and guiding me each and every day. 
      Thanks for the support everyone. I'm eternally grateful for every single one of you. I've got the greatest support and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn't be who I am, or where I am without every single one of your help in one way or another. Thank you so much. I love you all. I pray for you daily, and I continue to be amazed by the example that you all set. Thanks again talk to ya'll next week can't wait!

Elder Roper

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Faith Never Abandons

Hey everybody!
            Another week is already gone?? They're already passing so fast here! This week in Korea was my best so far. I'm finally starting to figure this out a little bit (; I can stomach the food without dry heaving, my chopstick skills are getting a little better, I'm still awful at the language but I'm getting a little bit better day by day! However, I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable. This is definitely the happiest I've been since I landed here in Korea. The work is progressing, and I'm starting to see what being a missionary is truly all about. 
            My week started out about as perfect as it possibly could have. A navy seal from the base here in Jinhae asked us to go hiking with him, and me and Elder Schwarze jumped at the opportunity. It was such an incredible day. However, for being nearly fifty years old, this man was insane getting up and down the mountain... There's a reason I'm a missionary, not chilling in the army (; The view from the top of the mountain was so beautiful. It made me miss home more than anything. Although, it made this place feel so much more like home. It may not be the mountains of Utah, but until that day, I'll love this area. Right now, Korea is starting to gain my heart. Whether the people, the area, or other things, I'm starting to truly have a love for this place. The other day I showed a man my photo album. He looked at the pictures of the mountains, all the hunting I did, and he had a look of amazement on his face. He looked at me and said, "Elder Roper, I envy you." I sat there and thought to myself in a non-prideful way. "What's not to envy? We truly live in the best place in the world." I'll never take for granted the small joys of home again. And more importantly, as I stay in Korea, I'll never take for granted the things that are only temporary. I'll enjoy and cherish every moment I have here.
            This week as I've started to adapt, the thoughts of the gospel began to flood my head. I couldn't help but think of how this has been the most difficult few months of my life. I've shed more tears than ever, I've grown close to people, I've felt abandoned, and at times... I've never felt so happy. It's been a roller coaster of emotion as I've adapted to my mission. This week as I sat in prayer and studying my scriptures, I realized the lesson of the first three months. I found out that the Doctrine of Christ is the Doctrine of Change. Over the last three months, my life has been turned upside down in ways I never thought it would have. I've experienced more heartache than words can describe, but I've experienced the miracle of the gospel. In three months I've changed as a person. Each day is a new day to change and become a better person, and disciple of Christ. If we aren't changing, we aren't doing something right. Although right now I'm serving a mission, and try to live like Christ, I find so many weaknesses in myself. The reason for the gospel is truly change. Change every single day. Have the humility to find your weakness and make them become strong through the grace and the atonement of our Savior. Through His eternal sacrifice, we can become perfect even as He is. This has summed up the first three months for me. I want to be perfect, but I find myself having doubts as I make mistakes. Am I good enough? Can I truly do this? Am I suppose to be here? I know without a doubt, that I am. With the entire sincerity of my heart, I know that Christ makes the all the difference. 
            I love this gospel. I've never been so close to Christ and to the spirit. He guides and leads me through every single day. Without Him, I couldn't do this. I love Korea, and especially the people. They are so sincere. We're all God's children. I testify of the power of true and unwavering faith. Never doubt in the Savior. Faith will guide you when life is at its hardest. It never abandons. I'm so grateful for the support. I love you all and hope you all know you mean the world to me. Along with my favorite place in the world come my favorite people. Thank you so much. I'm eternally grateful. Can't wait to talk to you all next week! Love you guys!

Love Elder Roper


Monday, September 7, 2015

This Isn't For Me....It's For My Savior

Hey everybody!
      I survived another week here (; It's easy to say that this week was a lot better than the first! I'm starting to adjust to the missionary work, the people, and the culture. It's still hard, but what do you expect from a white kid six thousand miles from home? (; So I'll start off with my "culture shock" story of the week... This week we had to go to a Korean funeral. It was definitely a little different but anyway.... We get there and they have these big huge feasts. I had just barely ate when they called us to come. Thinking it would be a new experience, the missionaries decided to go. We got there and sat down around the table by all the members. First thing's first, I get laughed at because I can't use chopsticks, and then I get mocked because I'm not flexible enough to sit on the floor... the common American struggle (; So I get sat down and start eating this nasty soup stuff thinking this is the nastiest thing I've ever tasted. I'm dry heaving in between bites trying to pretend I like it. The Korean culture is you have to finish all your rice, which is always a struggle for me still (; but trying to avoid the rice, I started eating the other stuff.... I ate squid, intestines, lung.... I accidentally ate coffee beans (; It was a crazy night. The culture is still one thing I'm trying to get use to. I'm doing a lot better though each and every day.
      This week I also had to give my first talk in sacrament. As missionaries, we introduce ourselves to the ward we'll be serving in. I got up there not really nervous because speaking is one of my favorite things to do. Speaking in Korean is a different story, however. For the first time in over two weeks, I bore testimony of the gospel. I bore testimony in a language I barely knew of how much I loved my Savior, my family, and how grateful I was. As the tears ran down my face, I couldn't help but be so grateful. Whether speaking in my own ward, or a ward in Jinhae, I felt the spirit testify through me of the truthfulness of this gospel. Words can't describe the feelings of emotion that I had. I know it's true.
      This week we still have no investigators and the work is really slow. We're working our guts out to find people, but for some reason it just hasn't been happening. It's been frustrating for sure. I still struggle with the language, and it's hard to step out of my comfort zone, but I'm striving to be better. This week I sat here and wondered what I could do to be better. What could I do to get in my happy place as a missionary? I realized quickly how selfish I was. I've been in Korea wondering how could I help myself? How could I do this and that for me? Well... I realized this mission isn't for me. I didn't come on a mission for myself. I came here to help people and bring souls unto Christ. I realized if I'm going to be happy, I have to forget myself and focus on others. I'm still working on that a lot. This isn't for me, it's for my Savior, and His children. Missionary work is a matter of turning outwards. Like missionary work, we can all turn outward to others. Never focus on the "I" or the "Me". As we do so, we'll find a greater love and happiness in every single thing we do. I'm learning that little by little as I serve.  
      I'm so grateful to be here. I'm grateful to a missionary at this time. This still continues to be the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm learning each and every day. I'm working to become what the Savior needs me to be. I wish it was instant, but it's not. I know that through these trials and struggles I face, I'll be so much better. Thanks so much for the constant love and support. It truly means the world to me. I wouldn't be able to do this without the constant support, love and prayers I feel in my life. I know it's true. I know Christ lives. He's here for us always. He'll carry our burdens and lead us through all we'll face. I know He is our Savior.
      Thanks again everyone! I love you all and I'm so grateful for every single one of you! Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Roper
Tyson finally got him a Big Mac!