Monday, December 28, 2015

This Is True

Hey everybody! Hope ya'll had a Merry Christmas! I know I did!
     So much has happened in the last week! I got to skype my family, I've been transferred to the area of Gumi, and I'll be serving with my first Korean companion! What incredible blessings and sacred experiences I've had in the last week. So grateful for my family, and for the opportunity to serve in a new area, despite the many tears shed as I left my investigators and members of my last ward.
      I got to experience one last miracle in Jinhae right before I left that is one of the most sacred experiences I've had so far in Korea. We were preparing for English class on Saturday when a young man walked into the room. I greeted him, but he acted as though he didn't know what I was saying. He didn't speak Korean! This young man has one of those stories that makes you grateful for what you've been given. The young man fled North Korea as a young man and resided in China, before fleeing to Japan after that. The young man only knows how to speak Chinese, Japanese, and English. He told me of his life and the challenges that he's had. He hasn't seen his family for years, and is hoping to set his life in order. I asked the young man how he came to find our church. He looked at me and said, "I was walking down the street, and I just had a strong feeling that I needed to come inside." I was in total awe. How the spirit works in such incredible ways. I was able to teach this young man the first two lessons, including The Restoration, and The Plan of Salvation. He loved it, and asked sooo many questions concerning the doctrine. I felt such a strong spirit in the meeting that words can't describe it. At the end of the lesson he looked at me with heartfelt sincerity and asked, "Elder Roper, is this true?" I looked at him with a surety in my heart and said, "Yeah... this is true."
      I have such a strong love for this young man that I had just met. I walked out of that class knowing I'd probably never see him again. But what an opportunity it is to be a missionary. The love I have for these people can't be described. As tears welled in my eyes as I said goodbye to the Jinhae members, and my investigators, I couldn't help but think how grateful I am. How I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than in Korea, helping these people. What an opportunity I have to teach and testify. I will never forget the moment when my investigator who wouldn't be baptized from fear reached out, touched my face, and simply said, "Elder Roper, I will always be grateful for you." 
      I love this gospel so much. How grateful I am to be a missionary. I'm grateful this week for my family. They've been there for me through everything, and talking to them was the greatest gift I could have received. Words can't describe how much I love them. Family is the most important. I testify that Jesus is the Christ and that He lives. He knows us all personally and loves us more than we can comprehend. How grateful I am to be serving Him. 
      Thanks everybody for your constant love and support. Sorry this letter is short, we have very little time to email today. Know I love you all and how grateful I am for the support. Thanks so much talk to ya'll next week can't wait!

Elder Roper

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Know

Hey everyone!!!! Guess what?!? Merry Christmas! Holy cow I can't believe it's already that time!
      This week was just another typical week. We've been working our guts out trying to find and teach. We've been teaching more lessons than we ever have, spreading the message of Christ this Christmas season, but have had very little luck. We know that we're planting seeds, and as we can keep doing so, we'll find those who are prepared. We'll keep working and know that someone will accept the gospel!
      With Christmas in only four days, my mind is strictly on teaching and testifying of Jesus Christ. This is the best time to be a missionary and give witness of Christ and how He truly is the gift. It's been the hardest Christmas, but so incredible as I feel, for the first time in my life, I'm centered on Jesus Christ. I haven't always been like this though.
      A few years ago, I reluctantly agreed to go on our Stake Youth Conference. I had never been to one, and truthfully, I didn't even really want to go. My sister had just left on her mission, we had just been sealed as a family, and I felt so in tune with the spirit. Even then, I didn't want to go. However, thankful to church leaders, they convinced me to go, and I had an experience that truly changed my perspective of Jesus Christ.
      I walked into the Visitor's Center in Salt Lake City, and beheld the statue of Jesus Christ standing before me. It's truly breathtaking. I thought it was pretty cool, but I didn't understand it. It wasn't until an older man came up the ramp and entered into the room, being pushed in a wheelchair, and came right next to me. The man looked at the statue in awe, and began to weep. I looked at the man thinking, "Why are you crying? There's nothing to cry about here?" It got me thinking of the question, "Why do people cry when they think of the Savior?" Nearly three years later, I realize that the man sitting beside me knew Jesus Christ. He knew of His sacrifice, His love, and His mercy. I didn't. I simply knew of Jesus Christ, but I didn't know Him as I do now.
      I've went through three phrases in my life to get to where I am right now. The first phase is "No." I don't want to go to church, I don't want to go to seminary, I don't want to go to young men's. No, no, no. I had very little to do with the gospel. I knew it was right, but wouldn't act on the knowledge I had. Finally, as a sophomore, when my family was sealed, I baptized my younger sister, and sent Whit off to Peru, my phase then turned to, "Please Father, let me know." I needed to know if it was true. I began to read, to study, and to ponder the gospel. I read the Book of Mormon, and knew it was the word of God. The gospel began to grow within my heart. One thing led to another, and I built, precept upon precept, until somehow, I found myself here in Korea when the phase instantly turned to, "I Know." It took me years to come to know this gospel is true, and it all started with an older man, weeping at the feet of Jesus Christ. Like that man, I now can't think of my Savior without wanting to weep.
      This Christmas, I pray that we'll all come to know Jesus Christ. One day, we'll all stand before our Savior, and metaphorically, stand at the feet of that same statue in Salt Lake City. When that day comes, I will kneel at the feet of my Savior, and wet His feet with my tears. I will not know any more surely then, than I do now, that Jesus is the Christ. He is the literal Son of God who paid the price for each one of us. How grateful I am that this Christmas, I finally know Jesus Christ.
      I'm so grateful to be a missionary in Korea at this time. I'm so happy to be serving. Despite this Christmas not really being Christmas at all, I've come to love each and every day. It's truly such a blessing and opportunity of a lifetime that I cherish.
      I love all of you. I've received so many emails and letters and I can't thank you enough! I have the greatest support and I'm truly blessed with such incredible people in my life. The power behind me from home is felt each and every day and I'm eternally grateful for every single one of you. I wish you all a Merry Christmas! I love you all and will never be able to thank you enough.

Elder Roper

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Following Footsteps

Hey everybody! Where are the days going?!?
     It's almost Christmas I can't believe it! The days are flying by, and the spirit of Christ grows stronger by the day as Christmas grows closer. I have no snow, no cold weather, lights, or a tree, but boy is this month so special to me. What a gift to give to Christ as a missionary, and more importantly, what a gift He's given me for this opportunity.
     "Tyson, your little sister acts just like you when you were a little kid. She even looks exactly like you!" I had heard it over, and over again. At times, I never believed it. However, looking at it now, I realize that my little sister Haidyn is exactly like me. 
     Last week as my mom told me that my little sister had joined her first traveling basketball team. I remember doing the exact same thing over ten years ago as I was given the opportunity. I shed tears when my mom said that Haid got to choose her number, and that she chose number twenty-four. My high school basketball number. Tears came to my eyes as she followed my example as an athlete. No less, I began to weep when my mom said she will play her first game at Orem High School next week, the place where I played one of my very last high school basketball games only ten months ago. I was touched that out of everyone, she chose to follow me. I'm so grateful for her and for everything she's done for me, and the spiritual giant she's becoming, even at ten years old. What a blessing she is to me. It's safe to say that although at times I wouldn't recommend it, my little sister is following exactly in my footsteps.
     This life is about following the path which has been set for us. As my little sister has began to follow my example, (for some insane reason) we have to follow Christ's example. As a young kid, I did all I could to live up to my parent's example, my sisters, grandparents, and everyone else around me. It was all about following those who I looked up to. Each example has led me to follow the pure example of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This life is about having one set of footprints in our sand. We can't take our own path, but must walk, hand in hand with our Savior, down the one path that's already been foreordained for us. 
     My little sister's example of choosing number twenty-four made me think of the "game" that we're playing in this life of following Jesus Christ. Not only do we have to wear the same uniform as Christ when we play on His team, but we have to play on the same court, and within the same boundaries that He has set for us. In the mission field, I don't have the name Emery written across my chest. Instead, I have the name Jesus Christ upon my chest. May we all take upon us the name of Christ, and play on the same court in which He has played. Follow His example, and become as He is. I pray that this Christmas season, we will have only one set of footprints in our sand... well, I guess in your case, the snow. (; Personally to my little sister Haidyn... Thank you for teaching me this lesson. I love you, I miss you more than words will even describe, and I am so proud of the spiritual growth you are making each and every day. Words can't describe what you mean to me. 
     I love my Savior and I love this Christmas season. It's sooo much different than anything I've ever done, but so incredible to be revolved around Christ. What a blessing. I know this Christmas season we can give everything we have to Christ. I know He lives. He is the King of Kings, The Prince of Peace, and our Redeemer. May we always follow and exemplify Him. So grateful to be a missionary serving Him.
     I love you all. Words can't describe the love I have for every single bit of support I get. It means the world. Thanks for everything everybody! Love you guys talk to ya'll soon! Can't wait!

Elder Roper

Monday, December 7, 2015

The "B Word"

Hey everybody! Another week already flown on by??
      What a crazy week here in Korea! A week full of miracles, of disappointments, and everything in between. Our week started off with miracles unlike anything we imagined. We prayed for faith, for miracles, and for blessings to come our way. We prayed, and fasted, just hoping somebody would be put into our paths. This week we had an experience that we prayed for somebody to teach, and found a man not even thirty seconds after. We found a man who committed to come to church after having only talked to him for two or three minutes... but he didn't show.  There were miracles all around Jinhae this week. It's all according to our faith, believing that Jesus Christ can and will do what's according to HIS will.
      This week I can honestly say that I received my first "broken heart" of the mission field. The experience that everybody seems to talk about in the mission field finally happened to me. We've been teaching a man for nearly two months. I've seen this man grow sooo much in the gospel. His life has started to change, and I've seen his light shine with the gospel. This week, knowing he could be ready for baptism, we extended our second commitment to him to be baptized. We taught him in such a strong spirit, and the spirit led us to baptism. In his life, he's experienced divorce, nearly drowned, he's lost his kids, and he's now living alone, all in the hopes of finding what his life is about. As the spirit prompted me to ask the big "B Word", I waited for his response. He waited for a minute before saying, "Elder Roper... I want to be baptized. I want to join your church. I want to be a member, and I want to live the gospel... But I can't. There are too many things I'll lose if I get baptized. I hope you can understand." 
      My first instinct was to ask ,"Why?" You know the gospel in true, yet you won't take the steps and do what Christ asks. I wanted to start throwing scriptures at him of having no fears, no doubts, and only believing. I wanted to tell him that he was making a mistake and that he had to baptized. That he needed it more than anything. Instead, with a heart full of love towards this man who I've so diligently taught, testified, prayed, and fasted for, I simply said, "Yes... I understand." 
      In my mission, I've had to learn that some things are out of my control. I wish I could baptize every single person I've met, or teach every person I passed by. But instead, I've had to leave it to a loving Heavenly Father. I've learned to stop asking the question "why" and start asking "how". Instead of why aren't things working out, how can I have a greater faith to fulfill your plan for me as a missionary. It's been hard, but I know that Christ's plan is greater than mine is, for both me, and my investigators. 
      Despite the hard working demands of a mission, the stress of bringing people joy, and everything in between, I can say that right now I have such a love for missionary work. More than I ever have. I've tasted what it's like to care for investigators, to testify of the perfect love of Jesus Christ. To know that He's with me every single step of the way. I know He's there for me each and every second, guiding my path. May we all learn to ask the question, "How can we submit to your will," instead of asking Father, "Why won't your will fit to mine?" 
      I know Jesus Christ lives. This Christmas season is so different right now, but it's filled with Jesus Christ half a world away. It's been incredible to feel the spirit of Christmas as I've taught and testified. I know He loves us more than we can comprehend. How grateful I am that I have a loving Father in Heaven. This Christmas we can give Him just a little bit more. We can give Him all we can, and know that He'll love every effort we're making. I love my Savior more than words will ever be able to describe.
      Thanks everyone! Love you all I'm so grateful for all the support I get out here. I wouldn't be able to do this without your help. From the sincerity of my heart I say thanks. I love you all! Thanks again, can't wait  to talk again next week!

Elder Roper