Monday, February 13, 2017

Learn And Live

Hey everybody!
It's been another week already, and it's time for another letter. Seems like I just wrote one. It's been a good, but stressful week with a lot of stuff going on, but it's been another great week of spiritual growth and progress. Our investigator who was scheduled to be baptized yesterday wasn't quite ready yet, so we have rescheduled his baptism for another day. As missionaries, we "teach repentance and baptize converts", and this man isn't fully converted yet and ready for the commitments. But I know that as he continues to exercise faith, and do all he needs to, he'll be prepared. It reminds me of our own personal conversion, and how we constantly have to exercise faith in order to see our testimonies grow in truth. This week will also be a transfer week, so it will be busy with a lot of office work. I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for our mission this week as we prepare for transfers again. I'll be excited to see what the Lord has in store for me so I can continue to progress and grow.
This week me and my companion returned late from a Stake Presidency Meeting with our mission president. We got back just before eleven, and had to start translating some talks. We were just sitting there talking off and on, and doing our work, when my companion looked over at me after a few minutes of silence and said, "Elder Roper, why is it that we remember all of our mistakes?"
This question is asked a lot in missionary work. As we go on exchanges, this is one of the most asked. Despite the great and eternal changes missionaries are making, they constantly look back, burdened by things they've done, used to be, or disappointed in who they were. It's a great question that at point, I'm sure all of us have asked in our lives. But with an eternal perspective, and a testimony of the Atonement, we can understand why.
As a little boy, my mom made a batch of cookies. Being little and impatient, I wanted to eat them as soon as they came out of the oven. My mom, knowing the cookies weren't settled and way too soft, told me to wait just a little while. Not wanting to wait, I was sneaking in to get some, and was smelling these freshly baked cookies. And I'm not exactly sure what in the world I was doing, but I touched my chin on the pan, and burned it. I had a big rectangular burn on my chin because I hadn't been willing to wait. I learned a valuable lesson on that day.
Making mistakes is similar to getting burned. For example, if we were to stick our finger in a fire, we would take it out instantly because it burned. We wouldn't want to stick our finger back in it, knowing that it's going to hurt. Our mistakes are a reminder of what sin does. That it burns, that it hurts, and that it can completely engulf us if we continue to leave our hand in the flames. In our lives we look at our mistakes as a negative thing, something that we wish we could change. But instead, we must look at our weakness, our mistakes, as great blessings. Because of the mistakes we make, we can uplift, strengthen, and bless the lives of others who deal with the same problems. As friends, parents, and members of the church, we can bear witness of the Atonement in its fullness, and invite others to partake of that. We can truly change lives through the experiences that we have. Instead of the old cliche saying, "Live and learn", we need to say because of our mistakes, our inadequacies, and our weakness, that we can truly "Learn and live."
One day, we will humbly stand before a merciful, and loving Savior. We will feel inadequate, have regrets, and feel imperfect. We will say, "Heavenly Father, I made so many mistakes in my life. I did so many things that were wrong, and I wish I could have done better." The Savior, in perfect love and mercy, will simply respond, "I don't remember that." For those who strive to change, to grow, to repent, and become better, there is no greater words in the scriptures than that of "He who repented of his sins, I the Lord, remember them no more." May we always look at our weaknesses as blessings. May turn to Him so His power and love may rest upon us. May we understand that because God loves, He allows us to remember these things so we aren't consumed by the fire of the adversary.
        I leave you with my testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. His Atonement is real. It is the power to do and to become what He needs us to be. It has the power to cleanse, to sanctify, and to purify us. It allows us to leave behind bad habits, and change to become more like the Savior. It is infinite in love, time, suffering, depth, and expands the depths of the eternity, so although we may feel inadequate, we can always keep an eternal perspective, knowing that if we keep trying, repenting, and doing the best we can, God will welcome us with open arms. 
I love the Savior. I am lost for words at His love and mercy. He lives. I don't just believe that, but I know that. May we turn to Him each day as we strive to follow Him is my humble prayer.
I love you all. Thanks for the love and support. Grateful for all that you do for me. Can't wait for next week!

Elder Roper

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