Monday, March 27, 2017

Called To Serve

Hey everybody!
     Good to be writing again. I know I say this every week, but it flew by. This week we continued to find some new investigators who are progressing really well. We're seeing a lot of great success right now, and the Lord is really blessing our area. We have three investigators with a baptismal date and we're hoping that they can continue towards their set dates. We're seeing a lot of wonderful things as we're exercising faith and trusting in the Lord.
     On this day two years ago, I opened a letter that changed my life forever. I opened a letter with nervous hands and pulled out a letter that stated, "you have been called to labor in the Korea Busan Mission." It will a call that I didn't expect, but I knew that it was where I was suppose to be, and over the time I've been here, the Holy Ghost has confirmed it to me over and over again. 
     At this time of year, I know that mission calls are coming, and missionaries are preparing to serve their missions. Each week I hear of the new calls that are coming in to great friends of mine and I'm so excited for all of them. This week, looking back on that memory two years ago, I went snooping into all my papers to find my mission call. I went snooping through all my papers, and found it near the bottom. Along with my call, there was a small piece of paper that sat on top it. Not recalling what it was, I opened it and found tears in my eyes as I remembered exactly what it was. This is what it says:

Dear 타이슨
I think that is Tyson in Korean, but if not you will get a good laugh. How is Korea? I bet it's great. I am very jealous. We miss you back home. I miss your example that was great. I hope I can be the kind of man you are. Life is great soccer just started and I'm pretty excited it's going to be a good year for us.

Ethan Winter

      The tears welled in my eyes, as I thought of this great friend of mine. It was a handwritten letter from him from a few months ago before he killed in an accident. He's been on my mind, and in my heart for months. To me, it's no coincidence either that Ethan too, has received his mission call to serve with a loving Heavenly Father. I sat down this week, with gratitude in my heart, and thought of a friend I dearly miss, wrote down a few of my thoughts that I'd like to share with you today. 

Called To Serve
Out driving with a friend on a cold winter's night,
Under bright moonlit stars that were shining so bright,
Pushing through ice and snow as far as my eyes could see,
I lost all control and my truck slipped suddenly.

Off I went and down we fell, through all worldly sorrow and earthly travail,
No pain, no concern, no worry, no sound,
When I broke the mortal chains to which I was bound.
Upward my soul traveled leaving earth's thorn-laid trail,
Where quickly I passed through the heavenly veil.

I saw my life pass before me in the blink of an eye,
As I continued moving forward into God's paradise.
My friends, family, and all left behind,
As I was called to serve in God's kingdom on high.

Time seemed to stop and I found myself on my knees,
I looked upward to see the Savior standing above me.
He gently reached down and wrapped His hands in mine,
The nail prints in His hands still undaunted by time.

He lifted me up off my weak, feeble knees,
Where questions and concerns began to overcome me.
I looked in His eyes and started to weep,
And through question-filled sobs asked, "Lord, why me?"

"I'm leaving all my good close friends there behind,
Where I was never given a chance to say last goodbyes.

And what about soccer, my team needed me,
My dad even needed me to captain the team. 

And Father, oh my mission, I was starting to prepare.
You know to get ready I even cut my long hair.

And what about my siblings, I was the oldest you know,
What will they do when I don't come home?

And lastly, mom and dad, oh the fear in their heart,
When they find out the veil has split us apart.

I'm sorry to question, I'm wondering you see,
I just want to know... Lord, why me?"

With light in His eyes, His gaze met mine,
And lovingly asked, "You want to know why?

My son, I love you, and because I love thee,
You have been called to serve on this side with me.

your friends will miss you during this time,
But forever grateful that you blessed their life.
Their tears will run free and so will their fears,
But no need to worry, we both will be near.

And as for soccer you can hang up your cleats,
For you have been called to captain my team.
I know that your dad made you a deal,
But now you've been called to lead even holier fields.

And your mission, my son, don't worry you see,
Because you've already served so valiantly,
There's no need to wait, pack, travel, or prepare,
For I could wait no longer for you to be here.
You've been called to serve beyond the heavenly veil,
Where with me together, forever we'll dwell. 

As for your siblings, the times may be hard,
But heaven won't ever seem to be far.
They will face all of earth's great troubles and frights,
But they're never alone with you on their left and their right.
An angel to bear them up in their times of need,
Where in you they will find all heavenly peace.

And lastly, your mom and dad," He said with tears in His eyes,
"They know you're with me here in paradise.
The days will be long, the nights will be hard, 
But because of their faith, they know you're not far.
With full trust they'll let your eternity begin,
Knowing that they will be with you again.
So although the veil has split you apart,
Forever, and always, you're with them in heart.

My son, you know I will lead you and them through,
Knowing that now, will you accept this call given to you?"

The spirit filled my soul, and light filled my mind,
As I reflected on my short life one last time.
I looked at my Savior, my Lord, and my King,
Hands stretched out forth beckoning to me.
I gave one last glance and turned my back on it all,
And walked in with my Savior, to answer my call.

     I know the Savior lives. He has a plan, and has called each of us to be His disciples. On this side of the veil, or even on that side, every call is as real as we make it. I'm so grateful for His plan. I'm grateful for my great friend Ethan, who I dearly miss who truly taught me lessons of a lifetime. I'm grateful for a loving Savior who offers such a perfect plan for all of us.

     Love you all and miss you dearly. I can't wait for next week. Have a perfect week!

Elder Roper

Monday, March 13, 2017

Prince Of Peace

Hey there!
It's been another great week here in South Korea! This week was full of a lot of miracles and new things. The Lord is definitely blessing my area as we're finding investigators left and right and have the largest teaching pool that I've had in my mission. We're working with a few good investigators, in which two committed to be baptized this previous week. We're hoping to establish some specific dates and get them going to organize a specific day. 
This week I've been thinking a lot as I've been finding new investigators. Every time we meet a new investigator, they come from specific backgrounds and situations. Most are from very hard, difficult, backgrounds. My heart aches as I realize the severity of their situations. This week my heart was opened to the Prince of Peace and His healing powers that He truly offers to all of His children. 
The first man we met, 36 years old, not married, and chasing dreams that he can't seem to reach. Frustrated that he can't catch a break, invited us over to his house to help him with english and teach the gospel. After teaching a while, we began to go into his life where he began to open his fears, concerns, and hopes. He asked faith inspired questions such as "Can I really be forgiven?" or "Is there really any hope for me to do what I want to do?" As our discussion closed, and in the feeling of the spirit, we promised that through baptism he would find answers, hope, and the peace he needs. He accepted to be baptized hoping to find that peace of mind.
The second man, 37 years old, caught in severe addictions of drinking, smoking, and a few more things, wanted to meet with us because he hasn't been happy for years. He just needed someone to talk to, and someone to listen. With a broken heart, he told us his story and just listening broke mine. With sincerity and looking for answers, we promised him peace through our message, and gave him a Book of Mormon, knowing that in its pages he'd find what he was looking for. He committed to come to church this next week so he, too, could search for a greater peace of mind, having not been happy for years. 
Lastly, a recent convert of mine, 23 years old, came to see me and a few other missionaries this weekend. He has recently lost his job, his home, has no food, and no money. He sleeps every night in the public bath houses here in Korea. I had many sleepless nights thinking of this young man. We offered him help, and him saying he didn't need it, telling us that God is already helping him enough. He told us that he knows his peace of mind will come as he continues to rely on God and not others.
My heart has broke over and over this week seeing these things. There's so much sorrow in this world. It's heartbreaking. But the promise is the same for everyone who turns to the Savior in hope and humility. "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you; Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid".... "the chastisement of His peace was upon us, and with His stripes we are healed"...."peace, be still"....
The gospel is that of peace. May we always seek the Prince of PEACE. His peace and love is only that of a prayer away. Never doubt, never fear. For in Christ, all things shall be made whole. As the lives of my investigators are changing, I leave you with my sure and unwavering witness that your life too, will change. I know that He lives. I don't simply believe it, but I know it with a certainty. Go to Him, and seek His pure and perfect peace and love, which is desirable above everything.
I love you all and am grateful. You all mean the world to me. Talk to you next week!

Elder Roper