Monday, October 26, 2015

The Easy Trail

Hey everybody! What a crazy week here!
     This week, it seems like we got a little bit of everything to say the least. This week we had an encounter with a drunk man who offered to give us all his money and gave us a bag of "pastry fish", girls filming me and my companion multiple times this week, and an elderly man peeing on the side of a building for the world to see. I wouldn't of believed the stories until I experienced em right??? Haha 
      Also, this week our missionary work just all of a sudden started to work out. We picked up a progressing investigator, and three new investigators.  We've been working soooo hard to find new investigators, and for some reason this week, everything seemed to work out. We have one man who has committed to attend church in a few weeks. He's afraid to be baptized because of what the world will think of him. The other three we'll meet with this week! Hopefully it works out, and it's in the Lord's plan for them to receive the gospel. Our prayers and faith are being answered.
      This last P-Day, me and my companion decided that we wanted to go hiking to the tallest peak we could find in Jinhae. So.... we did just that. We found the tallest peak, and starting from sea level, we began to hike. The hike was nothing like what I was compared to, but extremely difficult in the aspect. The hike was expected to take three hours, and knowing we were short on time, really began to push ourselves so we could get to the top.
The hike was hot, muggy, and hazy, but we hiked and about an hour and a half, we came to a fork in the trail. We were hot, super sweaty, and tired. Wondering which trail we should take, we found a sign. The one pointing to the left, in black sharpie, was labeled "Hard." The one pointing to the right was labeled, "Easy." Due to time, and how tired we were, we decided that we were going to take the easy trail, and in terms, "Choose the Right." So we began hiking what proved to be a very easy trail before extending up the grade and reaching the top of the mountain, which was over two thousand vertical feet from where we had started. The view was beautiful, and it reminded me a lot of home as I reached the top. After taking it in, we began to make the descent down the mountain, pushing ourselves to reach the bottom. In the hike that took two hours to reach the top, took only a short forty-five minutes to get down. In reaching the bottom my companion stopped and looked at me and said, "I'm glad we took the easy trail." 
      The easy trail in life is one that everyone can take in the path of discipleship in following Christ. We're all on our own personal ascent to the top of the mountain. We only have a short amount of time in this life to push ourselves, to work hard, and to climb to reach the top. On our hike, we're going to have forks in the trail, and we're going to know which is the easiest path to take. The easiest path will always be in following Christ's footsteps. He's marked the trail and set your own personal path for you to follow. Take the trail He's given you. Don't take the trail marked "hard" that will only slow you down in getting to the top. The hard trail is only covered with the hardships, trials, pains, and everything else that will be thrown at you. Follow Christ, and I promise that the trail will always be much easier. It's always going to be hard to get to the top, but as we forsake the things that slow us down, we'll all reach the top to where we can get that beautiful view.
      I'm coming to understand the path of Christ more and more with each passing day. I've never known the Savior so personally in my life. On my path to discipleship, I've chosen the hard trail sooo many times when I could have taken the easier way out. Christ walked the loneliest path so we wouldn't have to. His path was marked by trials that no one could bear, pains that no one could face, and by temptations that no one could handle. As we heed the simple words of the Savior, "Come follow me," we too can choose the path prepared for everyone one of us individually. 
      I love my Savior more than words can describe. I know He's there. Without His uplifting hand, I wouldn't be able to do this. I'm so grateful for Him and all that He does for me each and every single day. I'm continually grateful for the support you all give me. I love you all and appreciate you more than words can describe. Thank you so much for everything. Love you guys! Talk to ya'll next week! Can't wait!

Elder Roper

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"To Lean On His"

Hey there everybody! So excited to talk to ya'll today!
          It's been a great week here! The work is as hard as ever, the language is still a mystery, and the food is still stuff I've never seen... but hey, what's not fun about that?? (; This week we've really tried to push our work but with no success. Nobody in our entire area has a single progressing investigator. However, we're working hard to find them. This week, we've been turned down hundreds of times, whether at the basketball court, or the street, and we even tracted down a fourteen story apartment building without a single person even letting us in. But hey, even the Savior was rejected. We'll keep trying and pushing, knowing there is somebody prepared for us here in Korea. 
          The topic of faith is one that's been heavy on my mind this week and I truthfully thought finding people to teach would be sooo much easier than this. This week I felt like my faith has been strong enough to find people and bring them to Christ. It seems like the harder we try, the harder it's seeming to get. Although, this week, I found I didn't quite have the faith that I thought I did. 
          In my life, I've made many good decisions to follow Jesus Christ. I've also made many mistakes as well. I have the faith to serve a mission in a foreign country, to trust His plan for me, and to even bear my own mortal pains of Gethsemane because I love my Savior. However, faith isn't something that comes in one piece. Although I have the faith to make decisions like that, I learned that I lack in other areas. As I fasted and prayed this week, I learned that I wasn't trusting in the Savior's will for me. I wasn't relying on Him as I should have. Truly, even as a missionary, I can honestly say I was doubting myself, and the work of my Savior because of my weaknesses. This week I learned so much of the opposite.
          Faith is a something that as the Savior states, can start out the size of a mustard seed. When nourished, it begins to grow until it reaches its full potential. Even if you only have a desire to believe, it begins to grow. Maybe it's the desire to be a better person, or maybe it's the desire to serve those you love. Possibly, it could be a desire to serve a mission. Or maybe, it could be just to say "I love you" to the people around you that you've been neglecting. We all have little desires in the depths of our hearts that we want to accomplish. For each of us, that's our own personal mustard seed. May we all plant the true desires of our hearts within us, and with something as simple as a desire to even want to do it... let it grow within you. As the desires of who you want to be begin to grow, your faith will magnify. Don't be like me, and doubt yourself or your lack of ability because you can't do something. Instead, take that desire of wanting to do it, and have the true faith to follow it. If you can't have the desire to follow your own faith or belief, then I invite you as Elder Holland once said, "To lean on His."
          I love this gospel. I've never known my Savior so personally in all my life. Through the tears, the smiles, the ups and downs of life as a missionary, I've learned that faith is the greatest attribute you can have. I don't have the strongest faith yet, but I have enough. Quoting the movie Charly again... "When in the toughest times, you faith won't abandon you." I know Christ lives and is the head of this church. He knows every single one of you personally and loves you more than you can ever begin to even possibly imagine. How grateful I am that He died, and sweat drops of blood for me in the Garden of Gethsemane. I testify of Jesus Christ, our Master, our Savior, and our Redeemer. 
          I love you all and can't thank you all enough for your love and support. I wouldn't be here without it I promise you that. From the sincerity of my heart thanks so much for everything. I love you all and can't wait to talk again next week!

Elder Roper

Monday, October 12, 2015

Just Like Christmas Day!

Hey everybody! So excited to talk to ya'll today!
       What a crazy week! Our week had very little missionary work as we spent most of the week cleaning our church, carpets, and the the "landscape" around the church. However, I finally got to watch General Conference a week late! It was weird knowing that it was being broadcast from half away around the world to me from my own home state. I sure missed the "hype" of General Conference in Utah. However, nothing can beat the joy of hearing our prophets speak as a missionary. It's just like Christmas Day.
       I loved General Conference. I can't express the feelings and thoughts that came to mind as I watched. I had tears come to my eyes as Elder Holland bore testimony of a mother's love because it made me realized how blessed I truly am to have the mother I do. I felt the sincere love of Elder Nelson and Elder Bednar as they talked of those close to them who have passed on. I felt the pure love of Christ as I listened to His special witnesses. It truly was a day I'll never forget. 
       As I listened to the sessions of General Conference, the theme of conference that I felt like stood out to me was becoming perfected through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Not just sins, but through our trials, our struggles, our weaknesses. I felt like it broadened the view of the atonement. Of Christ's eternal sacrifice for us. As a missionary, I've never felt so inadequate to teach others. As I sat there and listened to the messages, my view was broadened. Some days, I wake up and look at myself and think, "Elder Roper, you have so much to work on. How can you truly teach this gospel to other people?" I've been focusing on the negative in myself instead of realizing the positive. In conference, I learned that the Lord magnifies those He calls. He calls the weak and the simple to spread His message. What a comfort to me and everyone else. 
       Most importantly this week, I realized something that I've been searching for. At times, I struggle to forgive myself for my mistakes, and my imperfections. I have always strived to be perfect, and when I fall short, I struggle with myself. I've always thought that there was a "hole" in the atonement. For me, in particular. There is a hole. Well actually, there's seven. The first two, in the hands of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The hands that healed the sick, and raised the dead, and caused the blind to see. The hands that only did good and performed only miracles. Two in the wrist, so the nails wouldn't tear through the skin in His hands as He hung on the cross. Metaphorically to me, it symbolizes the extra support He gives us day in and day out to guide us and direct us through everything. That extra weight we need for our ever so heavy burdens. Two in the feet, where He stood as the only perfect man to ever walk this earth. The two feet where He stood as the light of the world, and continues to do so. Lastly, there's one hole in His side, where He was pierced by Roman soldiers, as the will of the Father was finished. Where His job was completed to overcome the world. Seven holes, one perfect man, so that every single one of us could be made WHOLE. There is no "hole" in the atonement... only the process of making us WHOLE.
       I needed this message this week as I watched General Conference. The messages are repeated over and over, but we need reminders that the gospel is truly so simple.What a blessing, and what a miracle it is to have living prophets who guide and direct us every single day. What a comfort.  I love this gospel. I'm so grateful that I'm a missionary in these latter days. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Only through this gospel can we truly experience the perfect happiness we all seek. I know Christ lives. He is the Son of God. He is the head of this church. He knows us all personally and hears our prayers. I testify of it with every single part of my soul. I love my Savior. I will never be able to give back enough for what I've been given.
       Thanks everyone for everything. The love, the support, the emails... everything. It truly means the world to me. I'm so grateful and words can't express my love for you all. Can't wait to write next. Love you all talk to ya'll soon!

Elder Roper

Monday, October 5, 2015

He Lives!

Another week down! My first transfer is officially over! So crazy!
Been another great week here half way across the world! Everything is starting to flow a lot smoother every single day! Besides the fact that I told our Ward Mission Leader that I hated him accidentally in Korean...whoops. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes (; This week we've started to progress in the work a lot more, but we took a few steps back. We lost our first investigator for a month because he'll be studying for a major test here in Korea, and won't be playing basketball anymore. And well... he blocked our number (; we'll assume that's from the test though right?? (; However, we picked up a new investigator. He's an older man, English teacher, and has met with the missionaries previously. He really opened up to us and told us his life story and how he wants to attain greater faith like the missionaries. He told us how when he was young, he nearly drowned. However, he knew that God saved him, and he feels like he owes it to Heavenly Father to have more faith. So we're going to pray and hope that this man can attain greater faith through our lessons and testimonies. The man has the desire and know God lives. However, faith is an action.
This week I've learned soooo much about mistakes. What a topic right?? I learned that God loves a beginner. He loves to work with people who are willing to be reshaped, and reformed into something new. Also, I learned this week that Heavenly Father loves mistakes. We have a saying here in Korea about the language and it's, "The first one to 30,000 speaking mistakes will be fluent the fastest." Isn't that exactly right though?? In our lives, we all make mistakes. Some are simple, some are very complicated. Some are extremely easy to forget, and some haunt our lives. However, our Father in Heaven is sooo grateful for those who recognize mistakes, and learn from them. Like the Korean language, you have to make mistakes in order to get it right. The same works with our lives. We must make mistake after mistake until we can figure it out. At times, I've felt so down on myself with the language, or the culture, or my progress. Although, I've realized that God is grateful for a person who humbly recognizes their weaknesses in order to change. We must sincerely repent, or have a change of heart. Our Heavenly Father recognizes our efforts, and accepts all that we do. I know that He's happy with the progress we make no matter how long it takes. Every mistake is just a step in the right direction. 
I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father and his grace. We can all become perfected through Christ as we use His atonement, His example, and His mercy. I know that through Christ we can truly become the very best versions of ourselves possible. I'm in such a changing process here because I realize that there's so much I need to work on, and it's hard to comprehend. However, I know that I make mistakes, humble myself, and recommit, every day will be "one mistake closer" to who I want to be. May we all realize the love of Christ, and His true acceptance of who we are. I love my Savior more than words or feelings will be able to describe. I know with the entire sincerity of my heart, that He lives.
Thanks everyone for the constant love and support. I wouldn't be here without you. Next week, I'm looking forward to catching up on conference!!! We don't get it in Korea until it's been translated! Can't wait! Love you guys! Thanks again for everything it truly means the world to me. I wouldn't be anything without ya'll! Talk to ya soon!

Love, Elder Roper