Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fortieth Week - April 27 201H

Well, I am officially 20 years old… 

Never thought this day would come!  No longer a teenager.  Also 9 months in the mission, man time flies!!!  I remember being in the airport like it was last week, never want to relive that moment again.  But here I am 9 months later--whoo!!

Some events that happened this past week.  On Tuesday night we walked into the house, and I walked into the bathroom and marching through the window were about 300 giant red ants the size of my thumb fingernail..  Here in Nica all the houses are fun-sized and all the bugs are king-sized... hate bugs.  Also, almost got stung by 2 scorpions in the shower.  I thought I was on a mission--not Survivorman!   Haha! 

Also, on Wednesday, a less-active member made me a birthday cake.  

Other than that I've just been sweating out of literally every pore.  Haha!  It's kinda hot and humid.

A cool story.  On Thursday we ran into a family that we were teaching but kinda stopped visiting.  But on Sunday, Alfredo (the dad) came to church.  In Priesthood, we watched part of the Restoration movie.  The whole time I was just praying that Alfredo would feel the spirit. The first thing that he asked me when the movie stopped was, "Where can I buy this movie?"  I told him that we would come to his house that night and finish it.  So last night, we finished the movie.  When it ended. I asked him how he felt during the movie.  His eyes were kinda watering, and he told me that he couldn't describe his feelings or how he felt, but that it was something that he has never felt before, and it was the best feeling in the world.  I responded and said, "Alfredo, those feelings are the Spirit testifying to you that this is the true church and that Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God and was the Prophet of the Restoration. When I told him that, my whole body was filled with the chills, testifying once again to me the truthfulness of the gospel.  I have received such a strong testimony of the Restoration and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and absolutely translated the Book of Mormon.  I love this book,and the happiness that it brings to one's soul is indescribable.  Keep strengthening your own testimonies every day and we will see countless blessings and miracles in our lives.

Love you guys so much.  Once again, thanks for all the support that you give me.  I could not do this with out you guys.  Have a great week.

Elder Copeland

 Elder Copeland was absolutely thrilled this week  to hear that his cousin (and one of his best friends) just received his call to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia English Speaking Mission.  He will be leaving in August.  One of the things that made this call so special was that it was exactly the same mission that Elder Copeland's older brother, Taylor, served in and absolutely loved.  He served with the Spanish speaking people there.
 In August, there will be two missionaries in the same family.  Elder Parker Wilde in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission English Speaking, and Elder Bracken Wilde in the Australia Sydney North Mission Chinese Speaking.  Those two along with Elder Copeland make three cousins all serving at the same time.  So exciting!
(Always something interesting happening in Nicaragua:  Some bulls running down the street.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thirty-ninth Week - April 20, 2015

Man, it's hot... 
Today we went and played soccer and basketball and Merrill and me bought some sweet soccer jerseys at the market.  
(Elder Merrill and Elder Copeland.  Why so serious?  Pre-Match Shot.)

 (Battle of the Mango!)

 (After playing soccer today, this was Elder Copeland's tan line.  It is just so extremely hot!) 
And WOW this week was super fast!  Nothing too special happened, just sweating and working like crazy!  But man, the Nicaraguans are tough!  Before my mission, I was expecting it to be a little easier cause they are so poor, but I was completely wrong.  I love them to death, but they just can't see the big picture at all...

  But this past week TJ hit one year, that was quick... Also this week is a big week.  First, I turn 20 years old... I really don't want to be 20, the difference between 19 and 20 seems like forever.  And also I hit 9 months this week, last month in single digits...

 (The house where Elder Copeland and three other Elders live.  Notice the tin roof and the fact that they are on the second floor with no air conditioning whatsoever.)
 (Elder Copeland's comment:  "One room, one word:  BRUTAL!")

We are finding people to teach slowly but surely.  Last Tuesday we found 3 kids:  Johnny (16), Michael (13) and Jose (8)  They are all brothers and they're awesome.  They all went to church yesterday and really liked it and also have a baptismal date for the 9th of May.  We should have a baptism this Saturday.  His name is Jose and he lives in the park.  He's had a tough life but really wants to be baptized.

An article that I read this week is called, "It Isn't a Sin to be Weak."  Can God really make my weaknesses into a strength?  If so, how?  I've fasted and prayed for days to have problems removed from me, but nothing seems to change.  In my mission, I have lived the gospel more consistently than at any time in my life, but I have never been more aware of my weaknesses.  Why, when I feel like I'm doing so good, that sometimes I feel so bad?  We all know what sin is.  Sin is a choice to disobey God's commandments.  There is a chart that compares sin and weakness. 

First, Sin.

Definition:  Willful disobedience to God

Source:  Encouraged by Satan

Example:  Knowingly breaking God's commandments, believing Satan over God

Did Jesus have:  No

Our response should be:  Repent

Gods promise is:  Forgiveness

Results:  Cleansed of sin

Second, Weakness

Source:  Part of our mortal nature

Examples:  Susceptibility to temptation, emotional fatigue, physical or mental illness, ignorance, etc.

Did Jesus have:  Yes

Our response should be:  Humility, faith in Christ, and efforts to overcome

Gods promise:  Grace

Results:  Strength

So there clearly are differences between sin and weakness, and we as humans, have both sins and weaknesses.  So how can we know what is a sin and what is a weakness?  While Satan is eager to use our weaknesses to entice us to sin more, God can use human weakness to teach, strengthen, and bless us.  God told Paul, "For my strength is made perfect in weakness."  Nowhere in God's love, wisdom, and redemptive power is it more evident than in His ability to turn our struggle with human weakness into the invaluable godly virtues and strengths that make us more like Him.  While sin inevitably leads us away from God, weakness, ironically, can lead us toward Him. 

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Ether 12:27

I am grateful for every single weakness and sin that I have so I can become a better person and really learn how to rely on my Savior.  I love him and I am forever in debt to him.  I will serve him every day that I shall live on this earth.  Live everyday as it is your last.  We never know when the Lord needs us to leave this world.  This week, really pay attention to the things that we can do better and work on them one at a time, and we will really see the difference in our own lives.  I am a representative of The Jesus Christ and I will give my all to Him.

Elder Copeland

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thirty-eighth Week - April 13, 2015

Well, there goes another week just like that, how's everyone doing? 

There wasn't anything special that happened this week just sweating and working like crazy right now to find some people to teach.  But man, it's tough!  Sorry not much time today.  I had to go to Managua again (2 1/2) hours from Rivas, so I had to get up at 4am..  Then we got back around 2 and tried to take a nap, but I couldn't cause inside my house was over 100 degrees, so I just sat there and wept.  But it's all good, definitely a humbling experience. If anyone you know needs a humbling experience, this is definitely a place that can do that!
But this past week, I read an incredible General Conference talk, and I want to share some of it with you guys.

 "Through years of serving the Lord... I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, in marriages, and families, often comes down to an error of only a few degrees" -Pres. Uchtdorf 

How can we avoid these small errors???

One thing that he was asked one time was, If i continue to live as I am living, will the blessings promised in my patriarchal blessing be fulfilled?  That really made me think about my own blessing...

-I bless you in your missionary experiences
-I bless you with the gift of tongues, that you tongue might be loosed
-I bless you with the interpretation of tongues that you might be blessed to know the innuendos of the language
-I bless you with the gift of wisdom
-I bless you with the gift of knowledge
-I bless you to be successful
-I bless you to have born unto you a family
-You will have the gift of understanding and knowing when angels are about you
-I can promise you that you will rise on the morning of the first resurrection and receive all that the Father has, because of your faithfulness.

Well, am I living the way I should for these blessings to be fulfilled or is there a little error that needs to be fixed?  What do I need to change to be on the right path for these blessings to be fulfilled?

I haven't ever thought of my patriarchal blessing in that way.  I kinda just expected them to come without me doing anything, but it definitely isn't like that.  I just realized that this past week.  I read my blessing from time to time but never with the intent of looking toward the blessings promised in the future and evaluating how I am living right now.  I am definitely not living in a bad way but it is an outcome of what is good and what is better for me.  Dallin H. Oaks said, "As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good.  Other choices are better, and still others are best"
How can we be sure that we are making the right decisions?

Principle 1:  We need to consider the options with the end in mind.  If we project the possible consequences of these decisions into the future, we can see with greater clarity the best path to take in the present.  Understanding who we are, why we are here, and what the Lord expects from us in this life will help give us the broader vision we need.
Example, Lehi, the great prophet of the Book of Mormon, dreamed a dream, and in his visions he learned of his mission to lead him family to a promised land.  "And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness... And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things" (1 Nephi 2:2,4).  Lehi remained faithful to this vision in spite of the difficulties of travel and having to leave behind a comfortable life in Jerusalem.

And what about us?  What does the Lord expect from each of us?  What is my story???
We don't need to see an angel to obtain understanding.  We have the scriptures, the temple, living prophets, our patriarchal blessings, inspired leaders, and, above all, the right to receive personal revelation to guide our decisions.

Principle 2:  We need to be prepared for the challenges that WILL come
The best paths in life are rarely the easiest.  
 Moses, Lehi, and Joseph Smith did not have easy journeys in spite of the fact that their decisions were correct.  Are we willing to pay the price for our decisions?

We are not here in this life just to waste our time, grow old, and die.  God wants us to grow and achieve our own personal potential.  He has a plan for us.

Principle 3:  We need to share this vision with the people we love   Lehi tried to help Laman and Lemuel understand the importance of it all, but they just kept murmuring.  Nephi, on the other hand, is an incredible example for everyone.  He was able to overcome the challenges of the journey and also lead his family when needed.  Just like them, we will have to decide TODAY which path to take.  Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.

I know that the Lord has a plan for us in life.  He knows us.  He knows what is best for us. Just because things are going well does not mean that we should not from time to time consider whether there might be something better.  If we continue to live as we are living, will the promised blessings be fulfilled?

Elder Copeland

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Thirty-seventh Week - April 6, 2015

Well, a lot of news this week, but so little time! 

I got transferred.  I am in Rivas, Nicaragua and man it is hot!!!  My companion is Elder Arevalo from Salvador, and he just finished his training.  He's awesome.   I like him a lot.  I'm also with Elder Merrill and his companion.  We are in a 4-some so we work in the same area and stay in the same house.  Thank goodness our house is decently nice.  But it's sweet that I'm with Merrill.  We never thought we would be companions.  He's a stud!

I hope you guys are having a good time in California.  I'm sorry I couldn't really make it this year, so it's not gonna be as fun... also conference was super good especially cause we got to watch it in English.

It was kinda sad leaving all the people in my other area.  I was with them the last 4 1/2 months.  I really grew a love for those people in Ticuantepe.  
 (Hno. Armando Villalobo.  He has diabetes and has giant ulcers and tumors on his feet, making it very difficult to walk.)
 (Hermana Rosa (in the white) and her son Luis Enrique.  The other lady is a member of the church.  Hermana Rosa should be getting married to her boyfriend soon, and she and her son should be getting baptized in May.)
 (Hermand Justina and Ariel who are two of the converts Elder Copeland was able to help baptize.)
 (Celfida, Flor, Junior, and Estaban (four more converts) and the rest of the kids.  One of the girls should be getting baptized soon.)
 (Familia Hernandez.  They were inactive when Elder Copeland got in this area, but he and his companion started reading The Book of Mormon with them as a family.  They are now active.  Elder Copeland says they are an "awesome family!")
 (Familia Bataya)
 (Familia Cardenal.  Elder Copeland gave the two children the shirts they are wearing.)
 (Enoc and Eddy Lopez)
 (Familia Ecclantes)

But now I am on the next step of my mission.  We will see what the Lord has in store for me here in Rivas.  

This past week I completely lost my voice from Monday-Friday.  I literally couldn't talk.  It blew, but I'm all good now. 

Also, Mom, sorry I don't have much time, but happy birthday.  I cant believe you're finally 30!<3  You're the best mom in the world, and I  couldn't ask for anyone better.  I hope someday I can find myself a wife like you.  Thank you for everything.  I can never thank you enough.  I hope you have an incredible day!

 (Elder Copeland's mother, Angie)
For conference, i watched every session except Priesthood session cause we didn't have electricity.  
(Elder Merrill and Elder Copeland "chillin" in the Bishop's Office--with air conditioning!--watching conference.)
First, one thing, before my mission I always took General Conference for granted, but wow how lucky are we to have these men called of God to guide us through this dark and dreary world.  Today, we need to decide what we really believe and then put this belief into action because our actions are the evidence if we believe or not.  On my mission, I am just trying to please my Heavenly Father cause in the end he is my eternal judge and no one else.  "If God is with me, who can be against me?" -Romans 8:31.  We are not perfect, but thanks to the Savior's atonement, we can and will be healed because I am a sinner that tries to do better each day of my life.  It is by grace that we are saved after ALL that we can do.  What does it mean, after all that I can do?  And have I done all that I can do?

1. Don't forget to pray
2. Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him
3. Press forward with faith
4. The Book of Mormon is the key to spiritual protection
5. Don't be distracted or deceived
6. Stay by the tree (Tree of Life)

"Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
...if not I have failed indeed"

I love you guys and hope you enjoy your spring break.

Elder Copeland

(This picture is of the new elders in Elder Copeland's district.)