Monday, August 29, 2016

Giving Everyything You Have

Hey everybody!! 
     This week... holy cow. What a week of miracles! So today... I just want to hop right into it. This experience was maybe one of the most spiritual of my entire mission. One that I'm so excited to share with you. 
     This last week we were sitting in area meeting with our sister missionaries, when all of a sudden, our investigator with a baptismal date gave us a call. We had a scheduled meeting later that night, but he called us randomly and said that he wanted to bring us some food. We said that would be just fine with us, and he showed up about twenty minutes later with a big old bag of McDonald's.
     While eating, one of the sisters saw a shadow outside in the hall. Knowing that no one should be in the church at that time, we walked outside to find a man walking down the hall. Not knowing exactly what he needed, we asked if we could help him. The man was using very complex Korean, but we could still pick out all the main points. Listening, I would hear phrases such as, "jail, punch, no food, thief, stolen, homeless... I wanna die."
     We listened and got the whole story translated to us again. This man who had walked into the church had been abused his entire life by one of his dads. He had three, and they were abusive to him. Recently, he had finally had enough and punched one of them, and was put into jail for it. His parents were upset, and told  this man that they never wanted to see him again. They were done with him. He spent his time in jail and got out only to find he had no home. He would purposely steal things hoping to get put back into jail, only to have the cops turn him away because he smelled bad and they couldn't stand the smell. He had no shoes, no home, no food, no money...
     While listening to this man, our investigator walked up to him and started bearing his testimony to him of trials. Our investigator, who has faced major alcohol addiction earlier in his life, told this man his entire life story and bore testimony to him that he would get through it. No less, our investigator, noticing this man had nothing at all, gave him his shoes, found him some clothes, gave him all his money, and gave him all the food he had. It was the most incredible miracle I truly have ever seen. This young investigator was found by us three weeks ago, and is already willing to give everything he has to those around him.
     This entire experience left me in tears as the lessons were profound. First lesson I learned. Always help those in need. If they need shoes, we can say, "Here are mine, you can have them." If they need food, we can say, "I will give you all that I have." If they need money, we can say, "I have enough, take what I have." And likewise we can return to Heavenly Father and say, "I gave all that I had."
The second lesson I learned. There is no habit, no addiction, no trial, no struggle too hard that we can't overcome if we will rely on Christ and those around us. Our investigator struggled for years to overcome his addiction. Years, therapy, hospitals, and everything else. As he told us his story, I was touched when he said, "I would pray to God for forgiveness... I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry.... and I knew that He would get me through it." May we all remember that simple lesson. Christ will help us to overcome every little thing, no matter how deep we were, are, or will be. I know that He will be there. I am a witness of that, and see it change lives over half a world away. 
     I love missionary work. I love this gospel. I see it change lives, and work miracles. What a blessing, and what a pure privilege it is. It's not easy, but I wouldn't rather be anywhere else in the world. 
     I love you all and miss you so much. I feel your prayers, I feel your love, especially in hard times. I thank you for everything. Can't wait to talk with ya'll again. Sending my love from South Korea.

Elder Roper

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lessons Learned

Hellloo everybody!
     What a crazy week over here in South Korea. It's been a week of lessons. I've learned a lot this week from the examples of other people around me that I'd like to share today. It's a witness that this is God's work, that the gospel is worth sacrificing for, and that this gospel is the only true gospel on the earth.
     First experience was one that all missionaries dream and hope for while serving. We have been meeting with an investigator for two weeks. At first, he said that he believed in God, but did not believe in Jesus Christ. It was a really unique situation to say the least. We began meeting and he began to accept everything very well. This past week we gave him Alma 5 to read as a commitment. He kept his commitment, and we asked him the next day if he had read the chapter. He said, "Yeah I read it.... so when can I get baptized??" Me and my companion were shocked. It was insane! We've never really had anything like that happen before. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to attend a baptism with him and he's preparing for September 11th to get baptized. Although I may transfer, it was a pure miracle that God is among His work, and that it is His work, and is in His hands. What a true miracle. 
     Next lesson learned. We have a young man from the Philippines named Brian. He's a man that's got so much faith. He was baptized this last year and called us up this week and asked if he could come tracting with us. We told him it would be for probably three hours in weather that was, of course, blazing hot. He still wanted to come. In his words, "If I wear a white shirt and tie, can I come with you??" It was the greatest example of faith. During this time of tracting, we were talking to Brian a lot and he had been struggling with church attendance a little bit. He had attended for the last two weeks and we finally asked him what the difference was for him. He simply said, "I realized that I needed church. From now on, I will put church above everything else on Sunday." I loved that. A man who is in a foreign land has decided to sacrifice everything so he can feel the spirit and partake of the sacrament. Yesterday, he even rolled his good friend out of bed and said that they were going to church whether he liked it or not. What a blessing and what an example of sacrifice to those things that are right and true. 
     Lastly, I want to share this experience. This week we met a Korean who attended Texas A&M. He spoke fluent english and asked if we were "BYU folk." We told him yes, and he asked if he could talk with us. We talked for awhile and got into a discussion about the gospel finally. He was Catholic and attended church somewhat regularly. We pulled out the Book of Mormon and started teaching. He loved it, it all made sense, and he enjoyed it. You could tell the spirit was present with him. He finally asked us this question. "Do you guys respect other religions?" We looked at him and said, "Yeah, absolutely. We respect everybody's beliefs." Then he turned and said, "Oh good, so you don't believe that you're the only true church then right??" At that point the lesson changed... We turned and said, "Well, actually... we believe that we are the only true church on the earth. We believe that our church is the only true church of God." There was no delay and no doubt. We were bold, and we were straightforward. He didn't like that a whole ton. He respected it, but he didn't like hearing it a whole ton. It was a really neat experience. 
     To sum up my week, I know that this is God's work. There is no success found in an individual missionary or in their companion. It's all in God's timing, and it's in His way. Although blessings are based on obedience, that doesn't mean immediate success. I learned that through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, blessings will always be obtained. Maybe not soon, but they will. Maybe in a miracle, a little help, or a miracle baptism. No matter what, they always come. I also learned that sacrifice opens and unlock the gates of heaven. When we sacrifice for what's right, God will always provide. As He provided Brian a way, so He will guide our ways and help us. When a door closes, another opens to something greater and higher. I've seen that through so many in my mission. 
    Lastly, I want to be bold and state as me and my companion stated to the young college student. I testify with all that I possess that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. This gospel is true. There is no doubts, no concerns, and no worries. I know that is true through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that through this gospel, we can experience the true and eternal blessings that God has to offer. And the best part is, we are a part of it! May we never falter, or fail. May we stand up for the only true church, and may we always live to it in word and deed, even when it's hard. I love this gospel. I testify of the reality of Christ and His love. So grateful for little lessons that teach me so much.
     I love you all and miss you so much. So grateful for the support, love and help. It truly means the world. I can't wait until next week! Love ya'll!

Elder Roper

Monday, August 15, 2016

Building A Strong Foundation

Hello hello!
     This week... can I whine about the weather some more to start?? haha It's been over a hundred degrees here not including the humidity! We're dying as the weather is getting hotter but we've continued to see miracles. This week we've been working with a few investigators who aren't progressing too rapidly. We had a few investigators at our ward picnic today and hope that they will start exercising more faith and start acting on commitments. Pray that they will start progressing for us. Also this week on the weird side, I ate "squid rice". Try to picture twenty squid legs that are about six inches long in a pile of rice. Never done that before but definitely an interesting first. So there's that!
     This week a member called us and asked for help with fixing her house. She said it should take about an hour. We thought it would be pretty simple but showed up and found that the house was destroyed. Completely destroyed. No walls, doors, cement... nothing. She invited us to clean up the trash because she was too afraid of what was in there. She had bought it and was planning to rebuild and resell it. So in that case, we said okay and started working in our church clothes. We were pretty dirty to say the least. We worked for over three hours in the heat and as we got done, I couldn't help but think of how we can build our foundation on Jesus Christ so we will never fall.
     A few years ago, my little sister got a doll house that was huge. I was asked to build it by my parents for her as quickly as I could. It took me nearly eight months to build the entire thing from the ground up. Starting with the foundation, I built, painted, and patiently went at it piece by piece, day after day. As I was getting closer to being done, there was one problem that loomed on me. I had to put these small, wood shingles on piece after piece. There were hundreds! I would glue them on and wait for them to dry... well what I thought to be dry before touching and seeing if they were. If I moved them, I had to restart the pieces. Finally, after a long time, it was finished, and I felt like I learned a valuable lesson.
     Building our own personal mansion starts with a strong foundation in Christ. It comes through primary answers... reading, praying, going to church. There are no shortcuts. There are no easy ways. I've learned that to make our foundation strong, we must realize that the places worth going and the things worth getting often require the long road. I learned that building our foundation requires patience. Never is anything worthwhile built in ease. And we must always remember that there can be no weak places in anything we're doing. When we seek to work around things, or cheat ourselves in effort, our foundation will be weakened until our foundation will eventually fall. In order to overcome these natural processes of weathering, and battering of the adversary, we must rely on Christ and His saving grace and Atonement. We must hear and listen to His voice. He will always guide us through as we prepare to live in the mansion of our Father.
      I'm so grateful to be a missionary. This is the best time of my mission because I'm not content with where I am. I'm so grateful to grow and progress and improve because Christ is so patient and loving of us. So grateful for that.  I know He is our Savior. I am a witness of His love and share it each and every day with the Korean people. How grateful I am to be involved in so great a work.
     I love you all and miss you all so much. I am always so amazed by the constant support. Love you all so dearly. Thanks for everything. Can't wait for next week!

Elder Roper

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Race

     Wow what a crazy week for us. It's still hot, and the work is still pushing forward. This week was pretty slow to say the least. Lots of tracting and spending time in the sun. However, we did have an investigator that came to church with a ton of interest that we found this week. We're hoping to keep working with him and get him progressing more. Overall, everything is going great and we're continuing to work hard.
     This week my mom sent me an inspirational video on olympic runner Derek Redmond. As I watched it, I had a memory pop into my mind that I'd like to share. Derek Redmond was a runner predicted to win the olympics, and tore his hamstring shortly into the race. His father, seeing the amount of intense pain his son was in, ran onto the track and finished the race with him. If you have time, go watch it,  and apply it to my letter. 
     All throughout my high school years, I faced a lot of shoulder problems. Whenever I pitched, I was in a ton of pain. As a junior in high school, we saw a doctor who said blatantly, "Your pitching career is over because of your shoulder." Knowing I couldn't be done, I continued to pitch, and pitch. I faced a lot of problems due to the pain I was in, both on and off the field. As my last weekend of baseball came around, my shoulder was done. I had nothing left in the tank. I had the wonderful opportunity to pitch in the all-star game in my very last baseball game. As I warmed up for the game, I was again, in a very severe amount of pain. My dad came over like he always did, and asked how it felt. I looked at him and I said, "Dad, I don't know if I can do this. I don't have anything left." My dad, calm as always, and with love said, "Tys, you only have three innings left, and you're done. Three more and that's it. You can do it." I remember that feeling of love and peace knowing my dad was right behind me. He was there to help me, and knew the pain I was in. Because he knew, I knew we were going to finish it together. After years and years, and tons of baseball, this was the end.
     I finished the game, and like that, my career ended. And on that day, I remember the lesson my dad taught me. Not only was my dad there for me through every single step of the way, my Heavenly Father was too. When we feel like we can go no more, and when we're in pain, God comes to us and magnifies us to the calling that we have been called. He pushes us to the end, and helps us to get through. As I've been in Korea, I've relied on my dad, my mom, my family, and my Heavenly Father in the continuation of finishing this race. Sometimes it hurts, and it's painful, but I know with the loving help of my Heavenly Father, I will always make it through.
     I love this gospel and I love my mission. So grateful for loving parents who inspire and lift me up when I need it. I'm grateful for great examples in my life who push me to excel even when it's hard. I'm so grateful for the people who help me and those around them to keep pushing forward.
     I love you all and miss you all dearly. So grateful for each of you. Can't wait for next week!

Elder Roper

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Always A Home In God

Hey Everybody! 
     What a crazy week over here in Korea. The temperatures are getting hotter and hotter, and it's just been crazy! All is going really great though. We had a man come to church yesterday just to find that he's moving to California. Go figure right?? But all is going great over here. This week I've also seen some of the craziest rain storms in my life. I've never seen so much rain in such a short time. Definitely been seeing some really neat things.
     This week I've been thinking about an experience I had that I'd like to share with you guys.
Earlier in the week me and my companion were out tracting late at night near a subway station. We had talked to some great people and were seeing a little bit of success in teaching. We kept walking and stumbled upon a man who had his head down and looked to be pretty down, or sad. I nearly walked by him, but the spirit prompted me to go and talk to the man. We introduced ourselves and the man looked up with deep, sunken eyes. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon, and he accepted one, without saying a word. We asked the man if he lived nearby, and he quietly said to us, "I don't have a home." My heart ached in that moment and with all my heart I wanted to help this man more than anything. As missionaries, we're not allowed to give money to anyone, so we walked to a nearby store and bought him some food and gave it to him, and shared a message with him. A very simple message about how we're all God's children, and that He loves us. He knows our trials and challenges, and we can communicate with Him through sincere prayer. The man had a simple smile on his face, and as we walked away, I felt a peace in my heart that I truly can't describe. So in that case, I want to share that same message with you today.
     We are children of God, and He loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend. Because He loves us, He has sent His son to take upon our burdens, our trials, and challenges. Some of us feel as though we have let God down. But we need to remember, that we were never holding Him up. We can't let down what we were never holding up in the first place. There may be times when we feel "homeless" without direction and without hope, but I know that there's always a home in God. I testify of His love. When we are in the depths of despair, and feel as though we have done nothing to deserve His love, remember that He is bound to love us. I feel that love, and I know that through the basics we will all feel His love too. I know His love is an ever flowing river of peace to those with broken hearts, and will never stop. He is our light, and I'm so grateful that I get to serve Him with all that I have each and every day.
     I love this gospel and testify that the gospel has been restored. It is true. I know it. And I testify of that, and a living God who directs His gospel.
     I love you all and miss you dearly. I am so grateful for all I receive from each of you. I love you all so dearly. Till next week!

Elder Roper