Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pieces Of The Puzzle

Hey there everybody!
     It's another P-Day and it's so great to be writing again to you. The time is just rolling right on by as this week I'll prepare to start my last transfer in the mission field. I'm excited to see what the Lord would have me do to finish out my last month and a half as a missionary. So grateful for all these little miracles that keep happening all along the way.
     As I'm preparing for my last transfer, not knowing if I'm staying, going, or what, I've really been reflecting a lot on my mission, in particular the last six months. I've been pushing so hard to get people baptized, and confirmed in the church. I've seen miracles that words can't describe, and seen people change, but still, no baptisms. Over the last six months, I've seen eight baptismal dates but only one baptism. It's not a sense of frustration, but as I've looked back, there's so many lessons that continue to pop up that are changing my life, and I'm so grateful for it. And sometimes in our lives, when we're chasing something so diligently and it doesn't work out, we want to ask the question "why", but instead, I've learned to be grateful, to look at the big picture, and see how, like a puzzle, each piece falls in place. 
     I've learned that with each area, each ward, and each area I go to, there are things being established in the big eternal picture of everything. Without us knowing it, we're establishing our own "puzzle" of testimony, conversion, and becoming like the Savior. 
     A few of my puzzle pieces in the last few months have come in a variety of ways. They have come in miracles, they have came in grand ways, and they've also came in ways as simple as heartfelt prayer. They've come from simple glances of hope, like the investigator who had the hope to give up smoking and came to know the Savior. They've come from the faith of others, such as the young man I taught who at nearly being thrown out of the country, stood up for being a Mormon. They've came from investigators saying, "I can't be baptized because I need a lot more time." They've come in so many ways that I cannot express appreciation for, and as I look back, I see a complete picture that has slowly been built up little by little for me to become just a little better, and to become more like the Savior.
     We all have a picture we're building in our life. Sometimes the end picture is not visible, and we find ourselves in the vast pessimistic view of the question "why", but we need to recognize our blessings, recognize our growth, and like my parents have always taught me, "to see the big picture." I promise it's there. As I've asked the Savior to show me how I'm doing, He's given me small glimpses to let me know that I'm enough and doing enough, despite lack of results. And sometimes lack of results, doubts, and even fears, may be the greatest force to push us to the pure love of Christ. May we all keep going, take a second to step back, recognize the good we do, and keep laying it all piece by piece. I know that as we do, a complete and perfect picture of true Christlike countenance will shine through who you are. 
     I testify that the gospel is true, and is a place for growth and to test our faith. I know that it is place where we can learn, do, and become. I testify that a loving Savior knows us all and loves us more than any words that surpass our imagination. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and is true. I love being a missionary, and understand with a deep knowledge that the hardest day of my mission will be the day I have to take this name tag off of my chest, and engrave it even deeper into my heart. I love this country and people, and couldn't truly imagine being anywhere else in the world.
     I love you all and thank you for all your support. It truly means more than you'll ever know. Talk to you soon next week!

Elder Roper

Monday, May 1, 2017

Coming Back

Hey there everybody!
Can't believe it's already P-Day here again... This week was a little different as we had a few more meetings. Got to travel this week to Busan and go hiking which took me right to my own happy place. Was great to be in the outdoors and get out a little bit. The work in our area is going pretty good but our investigators are continuing to struggle a lot right now. Our investigator that committed to be baptized last week decided that he wants to wait until at least June. I'm really understanding the difference between faith and patience in this area as little things like this keep popping up. But I know that the Lord is aware, and that all will be for their good and for ours as their missionaries. I know that good things are in store.
Four years ago this Wednesday on May 3rd, my family was sealed for time and all eternity in the Manti Temple. By far the happiest and most influential day in my life. It would be a day that Elder Holland would call a "song that cannot be sung" because there are no words, no feelings, and no other things that can ever describe such an experience.
My family wasn't that strong in the gospel when I was growing up, but we had so many people that would lovingly push us to do more, and to strive to become more. I think a common question that I often asked as people continually tried to push us forward towards the gospel was the simple question, "Why do you keep coming back?"
We thought we were comfortable, happy, and had everything that we needed. We know now that of course we were wrong, but we thought we had all that we needed. A little while ago while proselyting, I had an experience that made it all so clear.
We were proselyting and I saw this man far off out of the way, sitting on a bench, cigarette smoke blowing, and alcohol in his other hand.  Being out of the way, we continued walking within his sight, attempted to talk to a few other people, to which they wouldn't acknowledge us, and kept walking. As we kept moving forward, I knew we had to go back to the man on the bench. The feeling was so strong. I grabbed my companion, turned around and walked up to the man.
He looked at us through his cloud of smoke and arrogantly retorted, "I just saw what you were doing trying to talk to those people. I saw them ignore you." I looked at him with a big grin and responded, "Great, a better reason for you to talk to us then right??" I sat down with the man and began to speak with him about his life, and saw the trials began to show in his face. I could tell he was hurting a lot. No wife, no kids, and facing the consequences of sin. As we kept talking, the tears filled his eyes and started to fall in between swigs of his alcohol. He finally looked at me and asked that question that I'm sure we've all asked the Savior when we too have been lost in sin, hopeless, or feeling unworthy of God's love. He asked me in between deep breaths... "Why did you come back? You didn't have to." I looked at him and lovingly responded, "I knew I had to."
Whether my family four years ago, this very morning, or any other day, the Savior always comes back. Whether we have sinned, feel unworthy, useless, or hopeless, He always comes back to us. Like the sun we sometimes we can't see, but know is there, or the air that we don't think about, but just expect... it's all the same. Christ is near us, beside us, with us, and most importantly, He is going with us to where we are going. And when we asked that same question in the deepest depths of despair, "Father, why do you keep coming back to me? I don't deserve this." He will calmly, and with great love respond, "You knew I would." 
I testify of the Savior, His perfect love and compassion. He understands our hearts, and our desires. Remember that He works from the inside out. He starts with our heart, and moves that to who we are. He doesn't care who we are right now, but He does care where we are going, and where we want to be. I know He's there, and I know He's walking with us each step of the way. I testify of His divine calling to be our Redeemer.
        I love you all, and I'm always so grateful. Thanks for everything you do. I'll be seeing you here next month. Until next week!

Elder Roper