Monday, December 19, 2016

Season of Christ

Hey everybody!
     It's been another great week here as Christmas just keeps coming closer and closer! Only a week left! Holy cow, can't believe it. This week has been full of the Christmas spirit, and the power of the Holy Ghost has been so strong as we've been talking with everyone about the Savior. This week I've been thinking a lot about recognizing the hand of God in my life, and how small and simple a touch of His hand can be. I would like to tell you about a few of the experiences I had of how the Savior has touched my life this week, and throughout this Christmas season. 
     This past week I had the opportunity to travel to my previous area, and do a companion exchange. It was a great opportunity for me to see the members, to see my recent converts, and to see people who I've dearly come to love. I got to meet a young man named Bryan who is from the Philippines. He took us to lunch, and spent the day with us. He's preparing to go to the temple, and his wonderful example of faith, despite hard circumstances was a touch of God's hand in my life this week, realizing how the gospel truly changes us. On that same exchange, another recent convert of mine, seventy years old, walked into the church and started yelling my name as loud as he could in his broken english. "Roper, Roper... where are you Roper??" We met in a big hug and got to spend the night teaching him, and preparing him for the priesthood. What a blessing it was for me.
One of the greatest examples I had this week of God touching my life was yesterday in sacrament meeting. I had to give a talk and was astounded as three of our investigators showed up to the meeting. I came down from my talk, and sat down, and just looked around the chapel. On my left, a young man, very poor, very humble, listening intently to the talks. His parents separated, no job, just praying to get into college, and has found his way into the LDS chapel. On my right, another of my investigators who is a rapper. At first glance many would wonder who he is, where he comes from, and why he's there, but as I looked at him, I saw a man willing to change, grow and try to be better. Yesterday it was a tender mercy from the Lord as he turned to me and said in his broken english, and like a rapper, "I love ya man." And lastly, my third investigator sitting with my companion on the other side of the room. I was speechless. How the gospel has changed their lives, opened their hearts, and changed who they are.
I know this Christmas season as we look for the small tender mercies of the Lord, we'll find them. Maybe it's in receiving, or maybe in giving. Maybe it's in things you've never recognized. But I know the only way to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas is to search for the hand of God in service to others. I know that as we do our best, He will manifest Himself to us. Not physically, but in feelings of peace, warmth, and comfort. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of God. I bear His name on my chest, right next to my heart. It is my humble prayer that we will let Him in during this final week. I know that as we do, the satisfaction of the Holy Ghost will enlighten our minds and souls with the pure and perfect love of God. May we always to drop the last syllable of Christmas, and make it the season for Christ. 
I love you all, and I am eternally grateful for all of you. With all my sincerity and love, I say thank you. Have a wonderful week, and I'll talk to you on Christmas Day.

Elder Roper

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Light Of The World

Hey everyone!
     It was another great week here in the Korea Busan Mission. The time is just flying by it seems like. It just won't slow down. This week was really simple and basic for the most part, not to say I'm complaining! The weather is starting to get a little bit cooler, and it will finally hit about thirty degrees this week. This week we continued to do a lot of tracting, and teaching. We committed another investigator to baptism for the first of January. He's a rapper, and he's definitely struggling a little bit, but his desire and his faith are so strong. He's hoping that he can progress and get to where he needs to be. Our other investigator who is set for Christmas Day has a couple little issues, so we're praying that we'll be able to have that follow through. It's been a great week overall, and the spirit of Christmas is in full swing here. 
     As a little boy, Christmas was the highlight off the year. The presents, the lights, the food, everything. I loved Christmas. However, as a little boy, I never really understood the importance of Christ in the Christmas season. I knew it was His birthday, and all that surrounded that, but I never took that to heart.
     Every Christmas Eve, in anticipation of Santa coming the next day, and not wanting to get coal in my stocking, I would pray for forgiveness for all my entire year's worth of sins and mistakes. Sometimes, because I was such a bad kid, I feared that I would wake up to nothing. However, as I grew up, there were always presents under the tree, and I came to believe that God was forgiving. That was one of the first understandings I had of the Savior and of who He was.
     Years later, I stand here as a missionary, His personal witness, and His disciple. I bear His name on my chest. I serve Him, I follow Him, and I hope to be like Him. This Christmas Season my own personal goal has been to come to know Him personally. I've taken it upon myself to start reading the New Testament in hopes to know Him even greater. As I've studied His life, I've come to know Him a lot more fully. As a little boy, I didn't know who He was, why He was important, and how He could apply to my life. As I've taken the time to apply my heart to understanding, and face the effectual struggle of gaining a testimony, I love to bear witness of Him as the Light of the World. It may have started in an attempt to receive those temporary gifts, but how clear it is to me that He is the gift of this time of year. 
     I leave you with my witness of Jesus Christ. He is the Savior, and Redeemer of the world. He is the Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings. He was born of Mary, and lived a perfect life and Atoned for my own personal mistakes and sins as well as yours. I know that through Him and by Him we can receive all that the Father has. I know that as we open our hearts to Him this time of year, we can strengthen those around us, we can come to know Him more, and we can truly become His witness. I know He's there, in easy and in hard times. I know His love is perfect if we'll only seek it. May we seek it and become His personal witness and disciple during this Christmas Season is my humble and simple prayer.
     I love you all and thank you for the love and support. Thanks for everything. I know that at times these letters can be repetitious, and although you may forgot many of the things I say in these, please never forget the love that I have for all of you. Thanks again for everything I'm so grateful talk to ya'll next week!

Elder Roper

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Coming To Know Our Savior

Hey everybody!
     This week has been the craziest, most stressful week of my mission. It's been nonstop all week long. This week we had Mark Peterson, an old mission president visit our mission, received new missionaries, tons of meetings, and Elder Scott D. Whiting came to our mission as well.  Our investigators are starting to make more progress, and our area is getting strong. It's been great to see these miracles throughout our mission taking place.
     This week I got to spend time with Elder Whiting in meetings and planning, and a few other things. There's one experience that I've been thinking a lot about that I'd like to share.
     We had a mission leadership council meeting where our leaders gathered and discussed challenges in the mission. We came up with a large list, and President Whiting was going to talk to the mission based on the needs. So the next day we had a meeting, and Elder Whiting began addressing the concerns and gave a powerful talk. As the first meeting ended, and I was walking off the stand, he called me over and said, "Elder Roper, what did you think? What did I miss? What do I need to talk about the second half?" My first initial thought was, "Why in the world are you doing asking me??" 
     I turned to him and I didn't really know what to say. I had a thought come to mind and I told him that Elder Bednar had just visited, we've talked a lot about that experience, and all of those things. But nobody has yet addressed his conference talk in coming to know the Savior. I told him for the time of year, I thought it would be good if he focused on helping the missionaries come to know Jesus Christ. I thought it was a bad answer, just on the spot, but I was amazed that his whole second half of the meeting was exactly that... coming to know the Savior. He was humble enough to ask me what I thought, and then use it for our entire mission. It was a great learning experience for me.
     He told of the parable of the ten virgins. He said that it is a parable of members. Ten members, and only five will be accepted through the door. They all had lamps, or a testimony, but only a couple had oil, a conversion. He said that conversion comes in coming to know the Savior. It won't be because He didn't know us, but because we didn't know Him. So there's my question for us all today... Do we really know the Savior personally, with no doubts, and unwavering? He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord, our King... do we really, truly know Him? 
     I love this gospel and I love being a missionary. This week has been a little tougher.  Not only was it stressful, but I just received some devastating news from home.  I know that in these hard times my faith grows and I come to know Him more personally. I know He lives. I don't believe it, but I know it. I love Him, and I love serving Him. I would be nothing without Him.
     I love you all and thank you sincerely for everything you do for me. I love you all so deeply and am so grateful for you all. Thanks for everything.

Elder Roper