Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I Am Grateful To Be A Missionary

Hey everybody! 
     This week has been maybe one of the craziest weeks of my mission to say the least. By far one of the busiest, and this week will get even busier. It was transfers this week, and I will continue to stay where I'm at. This week two of my former investigators from my last area were able to receive baptism. I made the decision not to attend, but was able to call them both. They were so excited about their baptisms, and told me of the spirit that they felt. We were also able to commit an investigator of ours to baptism for Christmas Day. It's a little ten-year-old girl, and we're looking forward to that day. It's been a week of little miracles, and spiritual enlightenment. I love the gospel, and love seeing the changes that it makes in people's lives.
      This week will be probably one of the busiest of my mission. This afternoon we have a former mission president speaking to us, Elder Scott D. Whiting of the seventy coming, and we'll be traveling to meetings all week along with everybody transferring in the mission. It'll be a crazy week, and lots of planning,but lots of great things coming up this week. 
     This last week for Thanksgiving, we were invited to eat with our mission president and his wife in their home. It was a wonderful experience for me. We had us and our housemates, our senior couple, and a few of our church members. As we finished eating, we each went around the table, and expressed thanks for one thing. There was tears shed from a few people as people talked about family, health, the Savior, the Atonement, missionary work, and more. It was super spiritual and there was an obvious spirit present that was so powerful.
     It came to me, and I really didn't know what to say exactly. I sat there for a second. I said that my family was my greatest blessing and how grateful I was for a loving and supporting family. That will always be my priority and my greatest blessing. But outside of my wonderful family, I expressed my thanks to be a missionary. Never in my life did I see myself serving a mission. I never grew up singing "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission", or had hopes of wearing a missionary name tag. I never did. And as I looked around the people, I thought of my life, and the course that I've taken over nearly the last year and a half. My life has been changed because I followed the spirit and answered the call to serve. My testimony has been strengthened, my heart changed. My life has been touched, and I know that although how small, I've helped others. I've felt Christ's love, and had small glimpses of what eternal happiness truly feels like. I've seen the light of the gospel shine within the lives of others that I thought had no hope. And as I looked at my life, how it's changed, I was able to look at those around me on my Thanksgiving night in Korea, and say with a heart full of gratitude... "I am grateful to be a missionary." 
     On this special week of thanks, I am grateful for the true and everlasting gospel. I am grateful for my loving Savior who atoned for me and my sins, and my mistakes. I am grateful that He's never given up on me. I am grateful for a loving family, who's been there for me through everything. I am grateful for the loving support of a community, and friends, and everyone who has pushed me. Without you all, I would not be here. I am grateful for little miracles, and blessings, for I know they truly are the most important in life. I'm so blessed, and I'm so grateful beyond words that I've been so fortunate. I love you all and express my deepest thanks with all the love that I truly possess. Thanks for everything, and I can't wait for next week!

Elder Roper

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Light Of The World

Hello everybody! Happy Thanksgiving to ya'll this week!
     This week was a week of traveling everywhere, and small little miracles in between. This week for zone conferences, my companion and I traveled to every area within our mission and had an opportunity to speak and help train others. I love learning from other missionaries, hearing their testimonies, and being strengthened by others. This week I also received the great news that three of my investigators from my last area will be getting baptized this upcoming week. What a miracle and blessing! I most likely can't attend their baptisms, but how grateful I am that the Lord is always carrying on His work. My last area is at a high, and in my new area we're still just praying to find one investigator (; that's about how missionary work goes at times right?? Gotta love those little surprises that keep you humble, and keep you relying on the Lord. Although we're at a little bit of a down, I know we'll find those people we need to.
     This week I got to fly to the famous island of Jeju for a zone conference. It was the first time I had ever been there. It's a beautiful island and it's considered the "Hawaii of Korea." We had a late night flight back to Busan on Saturday night, and by some chance, I got the window seat on the plane. We made it to the airport, and got ready, and the plane took off down the runway and up into the air. The plane was pitch black at this time, and as we got higher, for the first time in over fifteen months, I saw the stars shining. I looked down below me at all the lights of Jeju, the ocean below me, and I could even see the dirtiness of the pollution. It was beautiful, and a moment I cherished. I looked at the stars, and marveled at how I hadn't seen them in well over a year. Because of the bright lights of the city, pollution, and large buildings, you can't see them. As I rode that plane home I was reminded of the small and simple fact that a certain darkness is needed to see the stars.
     In our lives, we are surrounded by bright lights, by worldly "pollution" so to say, that keep us from seeing those things that shine so brightly in our lives. Like riding in a plane, when we rise above all of that, we can then see the stars shining so brightly. When we get above that of the world, we can see the miracles that God has intended us to see.
The sign of Christ's birth was light. His death, darkness. Christ intends for us to see His lights, His creations, His love. Only when we rise above those simple things of the world can we see all that we're suppose to.
     As the plane landed late that night, the hymn, "How Great Thou Art", popped clearly into my mind. "I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How great thou art.... How great thou art."
     I testify of Christ, of His lights, and of His brightness. He is the light of the world, the first and last, alpha and omega. I love serving Him, and feeling of His divine love, and seeing His hand through small and simple things. I love this gospel, I love this plan, and testify of its reality.
     I love you all and am so grateful for all of you. Thanks for the love, support, and everything else. I can't wait for next week. Thanks again!

Elder Roper

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Have Learned For Myself

Hey everybody!
     This week literally flew by... it went so fast! This week was definitely a really special week. I spent a ton of time traveling this week all over the mission for training meetings. This week, I also got to go to one of the most beautiful places in the mission. It's nothing but islands. The missionaries literally will go island island riding boats, and driving across bridges extended in the ocean. It was really a beautiful place to be for a day. Also, another one of the highlights of my week was going back to the place where I trained for a meeting, and seeing the stake president after a year. He recognized me, and even remembered my name. He welcomed me back with a great big hug, and it just made me realize the love of the Korean people, and just how lucky I truly am to be surrounded by such incredible people. 
     Right now we have no investigators, and all we do is tract and teach and talk to people. We're meeting some great people but they just won't commit fully to the message that we're sharing. We'll continue to work hard, and pray for us that we'll start finding those we need to.
     This transfer we've made a goal as a mission to read the entire Book of Mormon. It requires about 13 pages a day, and has been a great experience. My testimony has been strengthened so much as I've read, and applied the things that I've been learning. There's been a new light and spirit in my life as I've been reading. This week as part of our mission conferences, me and my companion will be traveling around the mission giving talks and I've chosen to speak on the Book of Mormon. 
     Since I'm short on time I want to leave you with my testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth in these latter days. I know that without a doubt. Like Joseph Smith, I too can say, “I have learned for myself.” I leave you with my sure witness that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that as we apply it, we can become the people the Lord wants us to be. May we always remember that true happiness is not made in getting something. A testimony, baptisms, success…Remember that true happiness is becoming something through what we are receiving. Through the Book of Mormon, we can become something as we use it and apply it into our individual lives. I testify that the Savior lives. He is our Savior and divine Redeemer. He lived a perfect life, and atoned for our sins. It is all within each of us to become His witness. It is by Him, and through Him, we can receive all that the Father has. 
     I love you all and miss you dearly. Thanks for all the continual love and support it truly means the world to me. Hope ya'll have a perfect week, and I'll talk to you here soon!

Elder Roper

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Love And Patience

Hey everybody!
     Great to be writing ya'll again this week, it’s been another crazy week like always. This week has been just another normal week. Lots of walking, lots of tracting, lots of a little bit of everything to say the least. Right now we basically have no investigators and we've been contacting all week long just hoping to find someone. We find potentials, set up appointments, and they continue to cancel over and over. Hoping we'll find some here quickly. This week I also got to receive my Korean driver's license. Crazy right?? It's not like Emery County though... there's actually cars on the road. So it's been a week of learning to "re-drive" again. It's been fun to pick it up again. This week has been really simple, but really enjoyable. Me and my companion travel all over the mission a lot visiting other missionaries and meetings. It's been such a great learning experience. I'm learning so much from all of those around me.This week I was on exchanges with another missionary, and had an experience that I'd like to share.
     Growing up, I always struggled being around kids. It was something that I never really learned how to do, or really understood. Growing up they annoyed me at times. It was hilarious for the people around to see how I reacted around kids because it was just hard for me. As I grew older, I got a little better, but still had a lot to learn about it. This week we had to teach two young little kids in another area. One was 8, and the other was 7. We went in there and sat down and the kids would not behave. They were yelling, and screaming, and throwing food, and wrestling, and wiping food all over us. We were trying to teach one of them, to prepare him for baptism, but he just wouldn't behave. I was trying the best I could to relax and teach, but inside I had had enough. I was ready to get out.
     My companion, who was a Korean, handled the situation soooo well. As the kid tried kicking him again, he lightly, and lovingly chastised him, and told him that he needed to act better than that if we were to teach him. We left the appointment, and I asked my temporary companion how he handled the situation so well. He told me, "Elder Roper, when I was little, I was abused by my parents, and I made a goal that I would never treat other kids like I was treated."
     I've thought a lot about that statement, and what that means. It's been on my mind a lot. Not only are we supposed to love kids with a perfect and Christlike love, but to treat others as would like to be treated, or more importantly, as the Savior would treat us. Even though I was able to make it through the meeting with the young kids and keep my patience, I learned that treating others and loving others comes in thought just as well as deed. In that appointment, I can guarantee that my companion had perfect love while I was anxious to leave. It was a great moment of learning for me. 
     I know that Christ has a perfect love, and a perfect patience for us as well. He loves us so perfectly that He's willing to work with us, love us, and push us forward, despite our challenges and our weakness. I'm so grateful for that. I'm grateful for the examples of other missionaries, and how I can grow closer to Christ through other people. I love this gospel, and I love the concept of change that we get to go through as we grow closer to Christ. I know He lives, and He's always near us. I bear my witness of that.
     I love you all, and I'm so grateful for the letters, love, and support. I love and miss you all so dearly. Thanks for everything talk to ya'll next week!

Elder Roper

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Gospel Is A Choice

Hello everybody! Happy Halloween!
     Another week has come and gone and this week just seemed to fly by. It's seems as if the time is only getting quicker and quicker. It was a week of lots of proselyting, planning, and just the normal typical week. We don't have a ton of investigators so right now we're walking our shoes out talking to everybody we possibly can. It's been fun, and I'm really enjoying the ward that I'm in right now and I'm really happy and content with the work. Another thing that's been great is the fact that our mission is reading the Book of Mormon collectively, striving to strengthen our testimonies. It's been great, and the things I've been learning about the Atonement, and the love of Christ has been influential on the work that I've been doing.
     I'd like to share one experience with you from this week that has really been weighing on my mind. The last two weeks, I've had a missionary who has been training me in my new position. He went home on Friday morning and I've really enjoyed serving with him for a few weeks. We went out tracting for his very last time, and on our very last person. I was amazed at the power of this young man's testimony. We taught this young high school student on the street, and everything was going smoothly when my companion asked for his number. The kid said he didn't want to. My companion asked him what was difficult about doing that. The kid simply responded, "I just don't want to give it to you."
     My companion paused for a few minutes, and dug a little deeper into the kid. The kid felt the spirit strongly. After that small pause, my companion said, "We're not here to force you to believe, or to do what we're asking. We are here to invite you to partake of what we're offering. You know what you've felt, and you know this will help you if you'll allow it. If you don't want to accept it, it won't hurt us, or upset us, but you will know in your heart what you are passing up. It's up to you..."
     We asked again for the kid's number, and again... he said no.
     The gospel is a choice. It is our choice to partake, or to turn away. It is our choice to be happy, or to not to be. It is our choice if we want to follow the Savior, or walk the way of the world. Like this young man who denied us, it is up to us if we accept or deny our Savior.
     I declare my witness unto you of agency. In the end, it's up to our desires, our hearts, and our motivation to be who we need to. That's all it comes down to in the end. Will we stand tall, do what's right, and follow Christ, or will we shy away and falter. It is my humble prayer that we will follow Christ in all we do, magnifying our service and striving to be like Him. I love Him, I serve Him, and I want to be just like Him. 
     I love you all and am so grateful for all of you. Thanks for everything I'm so grateful for the kind love and support. Love you all, and miss you dearly. From the sincerity of my heart thanks for everything. Talk to ya'll soon.

Elder Roper