Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Applying Faith

Hey everybody!
     As I start this email, I want to give a quick shoutout to my dad this week for his birthday. How grateful I am for my dad, and all he does for me. My greatest example, my greatest role model, and my greatest friend. He's been there through every little thing for me, and I want to express my appreciation for him. I would be nowhere without him, and as I look ahead, I hope to follow right in his footsteps and do for others what he has done for me. Have a great day dad, I love you tons.
     This week has been crazy, and busier than ever. This week President put me and my companion on a new schedule, trying to figure out how we can help the mission to be more productive. We've been getting up earlier in the morning, and proselyting before study time hoping to find more people. It's been an interesting change, and has brought a lot of success. Also, yesterday at church, we had four investigators attend, which was crazy. We didn't have enough people to help teach and take care of them most the meetings. It was incredible, and I'm so glad that people are starting to make some commitments to follow the Savior. 
     This week, I'm pretty sure that I received one of the biggest heartbreaks of my mission. The Christmas season can be very difficult on many people, and sometimes for missionaries, it's no different. We have been meeting with our investigator, M.C. Mickey, who is a rapper, for the course of about two months. He comes from a very difficult background. His family is Buddhist, he struggles with alcohol and smoking, has horrible family relationships, recently lost his job, and the girl he's dating is so sick that she struggles to move around. And for some reason, he meets the missionaries and his life began to change. 
     For two months, he has attended church in his pants that sag low, his flat brimmed cap, and his hoodie that's too big. But despite all the differences, he is so loved by the ward, and everyone. Over the past two months, everyone has come to love him. People, despite the smell of smoke, never questioning, never wondering, walk up to him, give him a fist pound, a half hug, and a broken "what's up man" or "what's up dog" just to make him feel comfortable. He truly felt at home.
     We set a baptismal date for him for Christmas Day this past week. We committed him to live the word of wisdom, and he's been trying sooo hard, but it's been hard. I was on exchanges in another place in the mission when I received word from my companion that he didn't pass his baptismal interview because he had smoked a cigarette during the day. I wasn't worried, and we decided to meet him the next day. 
     We met him the next day, and without a word he looked at us and said, "You guys, I just don't think I can do this. I just can’t, it's too hard." I didn't know what to think, and we started our meeting. So caught up in his addiction, he was losing hope. We went over the addiction recovery program with him, talked a ton, prayed together, and about everything in between... for three hours. It was a long, but spiritual meeting. 
     During the meeting, he committed to have another baptismal interview. Although he said he would do it, the spirit was just yelling at me in that small whisper... "Elder Roper, you can't let him do it." My natural instinct was to let him, keep pushing him, but the spirit so strong, completely undeniable, was telling me without a doubt, "Elder Roper, you can't put him through another interview."
     We stepped out of the room, my heart pounding, breaking, knowing what was right but not wanting to accept it. I told my companion I needed to speak to him personally. I walked with him and having done baptismal interviews, I asked him the question that I ask every single candidate. I turned to him and looked him dead in the eye and with love I said, "M.C. Mickey, why do you want to get baptized?" He looked at me and said, "Elder Roper, I'm not sure." I looked at him again and lovingly asked, "Mickey... do you even want to get baptized?" He looked at me and quietly said, "I'm not sure." The answer confirmed it, and I knew he couldn't do it. I looked at him, despite a broken heart, I said, "Mickey, you don't have to get baptized. I know this is true, and you know this is true. But if you aren't ready for it, you don't have to get baptized." He looked at me, and we started talking, and he began to cry, thanking me that I wasn't forcing him to get baptized.
     My heart broke throughout this whole meeting, as the spirit prompted me to invite, and not convince. It was hard, but I knew it was right. And as I've reflected, I know that it's our faith, too, we must apply in these hard times, these hard decisions. When we apply faith to a little bit of hope, all miracles happen. I know Mickey will accept the gospel. Maybe this week, or maybe not in this lifetime. I don't know. But I do know that he knows of God's pure love.  He felt it, and he knows that now. I know that one day he will apply his faith, and receive what he knows is right.
     I leave you with my testimony that I gave him during that meeting, when I told him, "Mickey, I know that this is true. You know that this true. You won't trust the Savior enough to give up a habit, but remember what others have given up. For example, I gave up my life, my family, my schooling, job opportunities, friends, and everything else. The Savior gave His life so you could find yours. Mickey, you need to trust in Him and move forward." And by that testimony I will forever stand. The Savior gave His life for ours, and I pray that we are finding it as we lose ourselves in His service. He lives. He is the Son of God, our Redeemer, the Messiah, and the King of Kings. I bear you my solemn witness of His ability to change your life and make you who you want and desire to be. I love Him, and I'm grateful to be serving Him, walking hand in hand as I serve the Korean people. I love this gospel.
I love you all. I miss you all dearly. With all my love, I say thank you. Can't wait for next week.

Elder Roper

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