Friday, December 25, 2015

Week 20--Christmas Skype No. 1

It was so good talking to Connor on Christmas Day! He looked and sounded so good--and happy. We talked for about 40 minutes and then said a family prayer and an extra-long goodbye.  Here are a few pics from our Skype.

Christmas Day Skype December 25, 2015

Here was his letter and two pictures he sent on the following Monday.

Hi Mom!!!!!
It was SOOO good to talk to you on Christmas! I loved seeing everybody and hearing your voices and just getting to talk! It was so weird cause I got really nervous at times, like I wasn't saying the right, it's my family so who cares, but I still got scared, you know? I'm so weird :) It was really weird getting off though. It was like an hour of going back to home, then I had to go back to real life and socialize and think about all the work and it just was so weird for me :) But I loved it so much and I'm so grateful that we get at least a few chances to see each other! It was funny, after I was done skyping, we had dinner at our Bishop's house....and I ate a ton. Then we went to this investigator's house that Elder Jones and I had found but passed off to the Spanish missionaries. And we had another dinner there! I was so dumb - I loaded my plate up, then realized I was at a Latino family's house....and I had to eat ALL of it! So I was pretty dang stuffed by the end of the day! :)

I'm glad Christmas was so great for everyone! That all sounds like lots of fun! So, my companion's parents are Terry and Brent Ashcraft. That would be hilarious if we were related! I think we look just a little similar, so that would be really cool! :) He really is such an awesome companion! It's gonna be a pretty good transfer I think! I realized though, that I have SO much to improve on...ugh! I just keep seeing more things to improve on. So it might be a kinda hard transfer as I try to be better... I think every transfer's just gonna be wonderful and super hard at the same time, don't you think? :)

Holy cow, thank you so much for sharing that compliment from Nate with me! You don't know how good that made me feel! That's definitely something that's helped add to my motivation to be as good as I can - I know there are people that I'm trying to set a good example for, like my siblings and my friends. And I want my friends and ward and family to be proud of me and I just hope I can do good for them, you know? But I should probably just care about what God thinks.... that's so hard though :)

Thank you for the other compliments! Ahh I get so worried about whether I'm doing good enough....I've probably said that exact sentence in every email I've sent, huh? :) There's just so much for me to work on, and I can barely remember what I did yesterday, so I do I judge my thoughts and words and actions and desires over the last week/month/year, you know? I hate having to look inside and figure myself out....but it's so important as I try to improve. Sorry, that was probably kinda random...but I think that's where a lot of my stress comes from - trying to judge myself and figure out where I should improve and how and etc. K.... I'll stop rambling now :)

So the work has been pretty slow. I think I told you this on the Skype, but so many people invited us to stop by again - after the holidays. So once January 2 hits, we're gonna be going hard, but it's rough finding things to do and people to teach right now. We had a couple investigators drop us this week....and (while numbers don't reallllly matter) our report didn't look great. But I'm really hopeful that it'll pick up again soon! We have a lot of young families that seem interested, so I'm hoping at least one of them will let us teach them happiness :)

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining....things are going pretty good! I love my district and my zone and my companion and my ward and I think I'm learning to enjoy the work more. Haha Katy and other people keep saying things like "It seems like you love it out there and your heart is there and you'll get to the point where you're only excited for the rest and don't want to come home" and I just wish I was more like that. I love it...but it's hard and I probably don't love it as much as I should, and I wonder what's wrong with me that I'm not just so excited to wake up every day and work! I hope that'll improve as well.

Thank you for your thoughts on obedience!! That's been a focus of the last couple weeks, because the very most important thing for a trainer to teach his companion is strict obedience. So as I've tried to help him understand the importance of it, I've noticed little things I've been slipping up on and had to work hard to re-up my effort to be completely obedient. I had a really funny/cool experience a few nights ago. One thing I kinda have a hard time with is lights-out at 10:30. Sometimes I get busy in my journal or whatever, and I end up a few minutes late. But a few nights ago, I was so determined to be done at exactly 10:30! So I hurried and got ready for bed, and quickly wrote in my journal, and finished right as the alarm rang, and got the lights out in perfect time! And I knelt down to pray and I was SO excited that I did it and I could just feel God so close to me, and He was even more excited than me that I had been obedient! I just felt His love for me and His joy when we choose to do what's right. It really meant a lot to me! So I thought that was relevant to your ideas! I love that we need to be obedient out of love, not out of fear or duty. I think duty is my motivation a lot of times, so I need to improve that! And I think it's SO important to remember that we have rules and commandments for OUR happiness! God doesn't give them just cause - He knows that will make us happy! It's like, we're all looking for greater why not just do what an all-knowing God has said will give us that joy?! It's so simple but so hard to remember!

Thank you so much for all of your love to me! It means so much and I don't know where I'd be without you! I love you so so so much! I only have to hold on till Mother's Day now! ;) I remember, my first transfer, I was basically counting down the days till Christmas and I could Skype! Then before I realized it, it showed up! I was SOOO excited of course, but I hadn't felt the "need" for it, like I had in my first few weeks! Maybe I am progressing :) I'm still looking forward to the next time though, and I absolutely love getting to email you! I miss you so much and love you so much and I'll talk to you next week!! Good luck with everything you're doing! I pray for you all the time!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Me with my awesome Christmas tree!! :) And this is Elder Lopez. He was one of my Zone Leaders. He was my District Leader when Elder Jones and I first came to Tracy, so we've been around each other for a while and have become really good friends! I look super weird in both pictures but whatever :)

Week 19--Moved Again And A New Companionship

Hi Mom!!!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!

Sorry my email is so late, we had a crazy preparation day :) Oh my gosh, I'm sooooo glad I get to email you on your birthday!!! Was it good? Did you do anything exciting?! I was so worried that I wasn't going to get to email today but I made sure it happened :) And don't worry, nothing bad happened, just the computers were full and I only got to read everything and then we had to take off for a while. But I'm back :)

So I feel bad that I didn't get you anything for your birthday... You just need to know though that you are the BEST Mom ever :) I saw a little link on that referred to Elder Holland's talk, and it said "Mothers, you are doing better than you think you are". And I think it's so true. If it's anything like being a missionary, I'm sure you feel inadequate at times, and worry if you do a good job as a Mom. But let me tell you right now that I couldn't have dreamt of a better mother. You've done so so so so so much to make my life so good and I'm so grateful. I've realized that you raised me perfectly, to where I was around the gospel so much that I learned to love it, but you never forced me to accept it or anything. You always gave me my agency, but showed such a perfect example of living the gospel, that I ended up loving it and having a testimony of it like you do. So thank you, for all of your sacrifice and your love and time and effort and everything that you've done that I don't even realize. I love you so much!!!!

So yah, this week has been crazy. I'm still living out of a suitcase; we don't want to waste proselyting time so we haven't really gotten everything organized....or assembled yet :) It's been good though! We moved back into our own place, in the same apartment complex that Elder Jones and I lived in, but our apartment is a bit smaller..... My new companion is Elder Ashcraft! I know, he looks really young, but he's actually 20! :) He's a super cool Elder, and I'm really excited to work with him! Near the beginning, when we were getting to know each other, I brought up two of the most important things to me: obedience and companionship unity. He agreed wholeheartedly with both ideas, and I thought "If he's gonna work hard to be obedient, and work together, I can handle any other problem that might pop up" you know? He's super mature and has incredible thoughts and perspectives on different parts of the gospel. And there have been several times where he bore his testimony, and the Spirit witnessed really strong whenever he did. He's got stuff to improve on, like all of us, but I'm really happy about it! :)

So the picture on Tuesday was our final pictures before Elder Jones took off. The other two Elders are Elder Moreno and Elder Lopez, our Zone Leaders that we got to be really good friends with. The picture yesterday was after our baptism that we had. I'll send a picture of the baptism! Her name is Rita, and her boyfriend Tom baptized her! They're both special needs (she's probably about 11 mentally and he's about 18) so the baptism had to be done several times before it was done right, and it was actually super cool! They both have such incredible Spirits about them, and it's been such an incredible opportunity to work with them. She was so so excited to get baptized, it was really cool to see :) So that's the update with the baptism! We hopefully have another one this week, but things are a tiny up in the air. If you could pray for Ken and Kenneth, that would be so fantastic! We have a couple other investigators that we're kinda working with, and a lot of young families that have kinda expressed interest but we haven't gotten to teach them yet.

We did have our ward Christmas party on the 4th, and our Mission Devotional is on the 24th. I'm going to be accompanying a Sister in our District, so that should be fun! I'm really excited for it! I did hear about the football game at dinner yesterday actually :) That's a bummer but at least they put up a good fight! That's super cool about President Warnick! If it's not weird, tell him congratulations/good luck/whatever's appropriate there for me :) He's going to do an incredible job!!!

I'm so excited to talk to everyone!!!! Ahhh I've been waiting for this for four and a half months!! :) Thanks for the advice to write things down, I definitely need to do that! Only 40 minutes...ugh.... So with the Christmas presents, I had to pack it all up, and haven't had the time to take it in the next couple of days, I'm going to have a super good day where I unwrap like 5 :) But I got the flash drive and I love it so much!! One more time, thank you so much for that package!!! It has been so fun and special and it really meant a lot to me!!!

Well, I should probably head. I love you so much! HAPPY BIRTHDAY again!!! I hope it was an amazing one! You deserve the best! I hope this email answered your questions and everything! I'll try to make sure we can skype around 3 our time, or after. I'll have our member call you! I'm so excited!! :) Ok, well have a fantastic Christmas! Enjoy the snow for me, we only get rain :) I love you so much and miss you but I know everything's happening the way it should be and the Lord will take care of all of us! Let me know if there's anything I can do for you. I LOVE YOU!!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

We got this text picture from Sister Palmer.

Elder Ashcraft and Elder Hopkin
December 19, 2015

Connor sent these two others along with his email on Monday. They are of the baptism he talked about above in his letter.

 Elder Jones and Elder Hopkin
Baptism Day December 19, 2015

Elder Ashcraft and Elder Hopkin
Baptism Day December 19, 2015

Week 18--Transfers and Training (Again!!)

A few changes for Elder Hopkin this week. Here is the letter and a couple of transfer pictures taken before Elder Jones left Tracy.

Hi Mom!!!!!

It's so good to hear from you!!! Thank you so much for that compliment about me apologizing! That's really nice to be told, you know? That made me feel really good :) Ok, so I know you're wondering about transfers, so I'll just go ahead and let you know :) Elder Jones is taking off to Modesto! His new companion came out with him, so they'll both be pretty new, but he's a really good missionary and I know he's going to do amazing down there! I'm staying here to train another missionary! It was really funny, on Saturday night I had said my prayers and was just falling asleep, then around 11:15, we got a phone call and it was President Palmer! And when the mission president calls, you answer immediately :) So I, still super groggy, answered, and he asked how I was and if Elder Jones was there, and I looked at him and he was OUT. So I said "kinda...." and then about 5 minutes later we were ready for our assignments :) Both Elder Jones and I loved being with each other, but we both think that this is definitely the best way for both of us to progress. We still got along really well, but we had hit a couple road blocks that kept us from working perfectly together, and this change will be good I think. So that's the news! I'm pretty nervous about it....definitely not nearly as scared as a couple transfers ago though :) I just know that each new transfer always holds a new challenge. And since I'm not getting doubled-in to an area this time, I'm worried that the challenge will come through my companion :) That's just my negative thinking though; I'm sure he's going to be incredible and is going to teach me a ton! I'm just anxious to find out who he is and what he's like! I was reading a kind of trainer's "guide" and realized there were a ton of things I didn't do so well with Elder Jones, and I hope I can do those a lot better this time around. I'm pretty sure that we're going to be moving - again. There are a few extra missionaries coming into the area, so they're going to move me and my companion BACK into our old place and give this new place to a couple Sister :) That's the update!

As far as the work is....we had a disappointing Saturday. We had a baptism planned that fell through. It was pretty nuts; we had his interview scheduled for Friday afternoon, then the investigator kept pushing it later and later, then eventually asked if they could do the interview an hour before the baptism! Then about 10:00 Friday night, they texted and said they wanted to push the baptism a week or two back so they could clear their head. So...hopefully that will happen really soon! I'll keep you updated! And I realized that typically, that situation would have been pretty hard for me, but the Spirit totally comforted me, and I didn't really worry very much about it - so that was really nice. And that same Saturday, we had another investigator do their interview and they passed! Their baptism is planned for this Saturday and we're so excited! We've got several other potential investigators that actually seem quite interested, but we haven't gotten to actually teach them yet. It's super cool because they typically consist of families, which is like the jackpot for missionaries! The family is so important, of course, so we're always super excited when we find families that can learn and change together! So my new companion should have some good opportunities to start teaching :)

Dang sorry, that update was super long! So yah, I've been opening my presents from 25 to 1. Sorry about that, I hope that was ok! I thought the numbers were supposed to count me down to Christmas. Oops :) I won't mind at all though if the presents are "piddly"! I've loved every single one of them! The poo-pourri made me laugh so hard!!!! And I opened the snow globe last night and loved it!! And the musical ties were awesome! And every time I open those, I feel so so so much love and it just reminds me how much you do for me. Thank you so much! That's been such a perfect gift and I've loved it so much! The Case's today took us shopping, and then gave us presents that they said were a "continuation from our mothers". My understanding is that they asked you what I'd like then bought it. It was so kind of them!!! Thanks for giving them such good ideas too :)

Thank you so much for putting my name on the prayer role!! And my investigators'! That's so helpful and I definitely feel the strength from them! Hahaha thanks for taking such good care of Katy with her wisdom teeth :) It's fun that you two are such good friends! Hmm....for presents...dang it's been a while! I could suggest... A Five Guys or Chickfila gift card; a book (like a romance type thingy); maybe like a bracelet or earrings or a hair-accessory thing; something sour; maybe something pink :) Hmm....I hope those are accurate and helpful...I've never been the best gift giver. I'm sure she'll love and completely appreciate anything!!! :)

Holy cow that quote from that conference is so good!! "Heavenly Father is more interested in my growth than my comfort." I needed that too! It's so true! Here in my mission, that is so accurate! Heavenly Father wants us to be comfortable and happy, but he knows that true happiness comes from progress, which only comes with some hardship and trial. I think that's such a good summary of the Plan of Salvation. He and we all knew that it wouldn't be comfortable coming here - but it was the only way for us to grow and progress, and achieve that eternal happiness that He wants so bad for us! I want to tell you though, that I think you're already such an incredible example of sacrifice and consecration. I've realized just how stinking much you've sacrificed for me, my siblings, the rest of your family, and others. You're sacrificing time with your husband as he fulfills his duties as a bishop. You sacrifice relaxation as you spend countless hours working and doing so much for us. I think of you as one of my biggest role-models for sacrifice, and I appreciate so much the example of Christ that you are. I know that you've consecrated so much of yourself to Him. I don't want to dissuade you from becoming better at it - I think that's so cool and incredible! But just know that you're already so good at that!

That other thought about other people having to accept the gospel was so perfect for me too, especially after Saturday. It's so true! I think that's a good example of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. In the same way that it's our role to teach and their role to accept, I've noticed that in the Plan, it was Christ's role to perform the Atonement and our role to accept it by living the gospel. He's already perfectly fulfilled His role, like we knew He would, and so it's our turn to show Him that we'll accept it. I love how it talks about that in the Christmas video I told you about. We need to love Him, remember Him, and follow Him. And it's our job as members of the church to help others find that path and make that choice for themselves.

One last thing! We talked about Skyping a few days ago, and I wanted us to start figuring that out! We're going to find a member that can let us Skype on their computer (we could also FaceTime if that's easier). I need to know though when would work best for you all, so I can plan to Skype when you'll all be together. Also, if I could get the contact information for your Skype and FaceTime, just so I can have that info just in case. I can have my member call you on Christmas though, so we can make sure all is set up and ready to go! And just so you know, we only really get 40 minutes. We talked in District Meeting about following that rule from the Missionary Handbook and being strictly obedient. So as much as I hate it, it's gonna have to be only 40 minutes :( Just wanted to make you aware of that. I'm looking forward so much to that!! I'm so excited to see you all and get to talk to you for real :)

Thank you so much for EVERYTHING!!! You're so incredible and I love you SO MUCH!!!! Thanks for all you do for me. I've never had a doubt about how much you care about me and love me, and it's been so comforting to remember that I have you no mater what :) Sorry this email is soooooo long! I love you and miss you and will be looking forward to your beautiful email next week :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Elder Lopez, Elder Hopkin, Elder Moreno, Elder Jones
Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Week 17--It's December (Been Out 4 Months Now)

Hi Mom!!

My week was pretty crazy but good at the same time :) I got the chance to go on exchanges and splits with a couple other missionaries, and it was really cool to spend some time with them and learn from them as well! That kind of stuff stresses me out too though, so things got a little crazy at times, but overall they were good experiences! We have a couple of great investigators that we're working closely with and will hopefully be able to be baptized soon! If you could pray for Ken, Kenneth, and Rita, that would be so helpful! Especially Ken :) Neither Mary or Amelia are progressing anymore, sadly. Mary couldn't be baptized yet because of circumstances and we've had a hard time meeting with her since. She still has a testimony of this gospel I think, and hopefully when circumstances are better she'll still have that desire to be baptized, but for now things have slowed down with her. I'll keep you updated with that! We weren't able to meet with Amelia for about a month straight - it's so hard to keep appointments with her - and things slowed down there too. Again, I'm really hopeful that sometime in the future she'll still want to be baptized, but I don't think I'll be the one to do it :) We've continued to gain a couple investigators here and there though! We're "teaching" this one guy that's atheist; he's so funny! He's kinda rude to be honest - sometimes we'll share our testimony or something and he'll just role his eyes, or give us a weird look. He's really blunt. It doesn't really offend me though :) We're definitely being careful to not "cast our pearls among swine" and if he keeps up his attitude I think we'll stop teaching him. He keeps inviting us back though to teach him more, and he always listens, and I'm really hoping that the gospel and the spirit will soften his heart. It might be a long process :) That's kinda the update! Transfers are next week! I'm pretty sure we're gonna get changed around. President Palmer dropped a couple hints here and there, and typically trainers don't stay with their companions for more than two transfers. So I'm pretty nervous for what that holds in store for me, but excited to see what happens! I'll miss Elder Jones, but I think a change would be best for us both to keep progressing - he especially needs a chance to not be with his "trainer" anymore :) I'm worried though that I won't get another companion that I get along with as well!

I did get the Christmas package and HOLY COW!!!!!!! What the heck!? It is so incredible!!! The big card with people's notes made me feel soooo good! And those presents have been so fun! I LOVE my new tie, and that keychain is so cool, and the treats are so great! Last night I opened 20, and no joke, as I was unwrapping it, I thought " this maybe a chocolate orange?" And there it was! Inspiration! :) That's been so much fun for me, and it makes me feel so loved! Thank you so much! Elder Jones really really appreciates the gifts to him too! For 25, I only saw his stocking and gift cards at first, and thought "well, ok! Good to start out giving him something right?" Then about 5 minutes later I found mine :) I can't even tell you how grateful I am for that incredible present. It obviously took a lot of time and money and effort, and I love it SO SO SO much!!! :) Thank you for everything!!!!!

I'm so excited for the chance to talk to you on Christmas!!! I've been looking forward to that day since July! :) It's crazy it's almost here now...dang! Time is so quick, but so slow! It's weird I'm over 4 months in but at the same time, there's so much left! I've heard it just passes quicker and quicker though. And I think I'm getting better at not wanting it to pass too quick. I still have lots of stressful and hard times, to be honest (that's just me!) but I'm getting mostly used to it all. I hope I'll continue to do better :)

That's crazy that Skotie is getting married! What!? So weird! Tell her congrats though :) Thanks for passing on everyone's hello's! Whenever someone tells you to say hi, just go ahead and say hi back from me. Just tell them in advance that I love them :) Thank you for all of your prayers! I don't know where I'd be without them... things would probably be a million times harder :) Thank you too for that last paragraph. That helped me feel lots better. I need to remember that I'm out here to sometimes doesn't really feel that way :) I just always worry that maybe the reason I feel like I'm not succeeding is because I'm not doing my part. So I just hope that maybe I really am succeeding and I don't see it, or that I don't feel that way because it's a trial to help me grow....I don't know! :)

Really quick thought! We ate at the Bishop's last night, and shared that new Christmas video with the family. If you haven't seen it yet, WATCH IT! It's on We're using it a whole lot as a missionary initiative, and it's super good. And also, there's another video on that website that's animated. The first is called "A Savior Is Born" and I think the second is like, "Why We Need A Savior". Check them out if you haven't already :) Anyways, we were just having a good conversation and everything was great, then we watched that video and started talking about Jesus. After the discussion, Bishop pointed out how as soon as we watched that video, the Spirit entered the room. He also pointed out that at church yesterday, a lot of people bore their testimony of the Savior and His Atonement, and the Spirit was so strong. I thought about a time this week that we were talking to this inactive couple, and we were "discussing" the new gay marriage children policy, and things got a little tense, then I just bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and she was like "Woah. Things just got quiet and deep" and I just wanted to scream "Yah! That's the Spirit!!" It's so cool that whenever we all start talking about the gospel, bearing testimony, and discussing the Savior and His Atonement, the Spirit just enters the room. He's always there to witness and testify of the truth, and I've seen that influence so many times. He's present because Jesus Christ IS our Savior, and this gospel IS true! It's super cool :)

Anyways, those are my thoughts this week! I hadn't really put that together until I started writing it right now, so thanks! :) I love you so so so so so much!!! I miss you all and really wish I was there to spend this time with you, but I'm doing ok. Sister Palmer is so concerned about us getting homesick for the holidays - she's SO sweet - but I assured her that her love for us helps a ton :) I miss you and am SO grateful for everything you do for me, and the example you are! Thank you SO much!!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!

Elder Hopkin

A picture of my incredible zone!! This was the Monday before Thanksgiving - we had a little missionary turkey bowl. Two of the Sisters weren't there :/

We also received a Christmas letter from the Mission Office this week. It is below.

Week 16--First Thanksgiving Away From Home

This week we worked really hard to finish getting Connor's Christmas package ready to ship--and we succeeded. We did an advent calendar for him, with 25 ornaments and 25 small gifts for him to open each day. We sent a paper tree for him to tape to his wall. Each day he'll open a gift and stick an ornament on the tree and it will count him down to Christmas Day. We are looking forward to getting to Skype with him on that day--it will be the best present any of us gets, I think. Here is a list of things we sent for each day of December. (Readers, don't feel obligated to read this part, it is for documentation only and so I can remember what we did--for future reference.)

1. Christmas music on a jump drive/Elder Holland's talk
2. Small nativity scene
3. Bells to hang on front door
4. Snow
5. Reeses peanut butter bells
6. Christmas cards for members/investigators
7. Pine scent for apartment
8. Chocolate covered cinnamon bears from BYU Bookstore
9. Chapstick
10. Provo Temple tie bar
11. Hand warmers
12. Sees chocolates
13. Merry Christmas snow globe
14. Stephen's hot chocolate
15. Poo Pouri
16. White chocolate covered peppermint pretzels
17. Two musical ties
18. New toothbrush and toothpaste
19. "From the Elders" note cards
20. Chocolate orange
21. Coconut popcorn
22. Mints
23. Two Christmas colored ties--one for Connor, one for Companion
24. California mission key chain
25. Small stocking with gift cards to Five Guys/Cold Stone

I also sent a big Christmas card to him that had been signed by the youth/members of our ward. Here is what it looked like when it was all put together. It ended up being a pretty big project, so I sure hope he enjoys opening his gifts and adding to the calendar each day! And, it didn't cost me as much to send as I thought it might--which was an added bonus!!

 The card

 Christmas package 2015

Here is the link to the talk from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland that I sent to Connor. It's a great one to read over the Christmas Season.   

On Thanksgiving day we received a picture from the family where he spent his Thanksgiving. It is the Bishop's family from the Tracy Ward that he is serving in--he was excited to be with them for the holiday. It sure was good to see him being well fed! We missed him a lot--this being the first major holiday having him away from home. 

Thanksgiving Day--November 26, 2015

Here is his letter from this week:

Hi Mom!!!

I got the Thanksgiving package!! I loved it sooooooooooo much!!!!! It's already been so helpful, and those messages from everyone made me laugh a lot and feel so good! Thank you so much for working so hard on all these packages for me! They make me feel so loved and I really really appreciate them! I'm super excited for the Christmas one! And even more excited to Skype you :)

So things have been alright! A couple disappointments and a couple exciting things! One of our investigators that was planning on getting baptized isn't anymore.... but there's another one that is! We got another investigator and all but lost one. So yah! Things are alright! :) Sister Palmer called Elder Jones and I yesterday, just as a little check-up to tell us she loved us, and it made our day so much! We get so taken care of here! Thanksgiving was wonderful!! I definitely missed everyone... and your cooking :) But the family we ate with was so wonderful and took such good care of us and it was a great day! We had our Thanksgiving dinner, visited a couple people, then came home and ate my Thanksgiving in a box :) I'll send a picture!

Thanksgiving in a box! Dessert time! :)

I love that quote you shared from President Uchtdorf! I'm definitely gonna try to apply that, cause I'm doing all I can to develop Christlike attributes. So if that speeds up the process a little bit, I'm gonna use it :) That excerpt is super good! Gratitude definitely is so essential...and so hard!! Elder Jones and I have been sharing a spiritual thought at basically every member appointment we have, about having gratitude for the Atonement. I read a talk a while ago that basically said that we take the Atonement for granted sometimes. It is the most important thing that has ever happened, and without it, we would be lost. We had a Zone meeting and we talked about how the Atonement affects our divine potential. And I realized.....we would have NO potential without the Atonement. There would be no possibility to become better at all, let alone perfect and able to live with our Heavenly Father in complete happiness, without His sacrifice for us. So Elder Jones and I did our best to help remind everyone that as we focus on having a spirit of gratitude, we need to remember the thing we need to be most grateful for.

I love that part from Cooper's email! That's super funny! I bet he's doing a super good job. I definitely have been blessed with super easy living conditions....I feel kinda lame about that sometimes but I really appreciate it! That's super exciting that he had a baptism!! And I'm super glad that it was a baptism and not a marriage :)

Thank you for praying for our investigators!! I have definitely seen so much how hard the adversary works on those that are progressing. It's super frustrating! It's just a testimony builder to me, though, that this is true. Satan wouldn't try so hard to keep people from getting baptized, if it wouldn't be a pivotal and life-changing experience! I hope I can help people understand that they can turn to the Atonement - it's so hard conveying that to people, especially when they're in the thick of their trials. God wants them to be baptized though, so if they truly have that desire, it will happen, he will provide a way for them eventually.

I'm glad you all had a fun week! I miss you all so much! I'm still praying for you every day! I love you lots! Again, thank you for the package, and the email, and everything! I'm so grateful for you and I'm so blessed to be your son! THANK YOU!!! I love you!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Week 15--A Typical Mission Week

Here is Connor's letter for this week. 

Hi Mom!!!!

We had a pretty decent week! We did have our work cut out for us, but things actually got a little more calm because we had a lot of cancelled yah :) We still have quite a few investigators, but things with each of them are pretty slow. We had a super exciting lesson with Mary though! She is planning on getting baptized in a couple of weeks, and our lesson just kinda confirmed to me that she really does want this. We asked her if she believed all of the things that we've taught her, and she said "Yah!", so I asked something like "What's kinda lead you believe in it all?" and she said "Well, it's just all true! The Book of Mormon says it, and it's just true!" It was super cool to see the faith that she has! She's planning on getting married soon in preparation for her baptism, and that's super exciting! We were pretty annoyed yesterday because she was so ready to come to church, but got super sick! It's an ok excuse I guess :) but it's annoying the little things the adversary does to mess things up. We're hoping she gets better soon so we can teach her everything else she needs to know! :) We have an investigator that we're super excited about, but she's going out of town for a couple weeks. And another investigator that is planning on getting baptized soon had a super challenging week that set things back a little. So a few obstacles to get around here in our area, but we're trying to just do all that we can and have faith that it will all work out!

That's kinda the update! We do have a Thanksgiving dinner planned, with our Bishop! We were going to eat at an investigator's house, but that fell through. Luckily, we've had at least five families offer to feed us if we need! This ward takes such good care of us! So we decided to eat at the Bishop's house cause they are sooooo cool! I'd really prefer to eat with you all, but unfortunately that's not really workable :)

There was a super good sacrament meeting talk yesterday about (guess!) gratitude. It reminded me that we need to be continually thankful to the Lord for everything He's given us. It's a commandment to be grateful! I definitely need to work on seeing the positive in my life a little more. He's blessed me with so much, and I need to be more grateful. And as we show the Lord our thankfulness for our blessings, we ourselves will benefit from more happiness. I've tried in my personal prayers to make sure that I thank the Lord before I ask for all the blessings I want :) I've noticed that when I'm having a rough day and just want to complain, if I first express gratitude, then pray for other people, that when it's time to ask for blessings, I'm feeling a lot better, more positive, and can be a little more mature in my requests :) I know that the Lord has blessed me and all of us so much, and I'm so grateful to Him!

Speaking of gratitude, thank YOU for everything!!! You're such an amazing example to me, and you've given me more love than I deserve! Thank you for taking such good care of me and for everything you do! I'm super excited for that Christmas package.....SUPER excited! :) Thanks for putting that together for me...I'll be looking forward to it :)

Thank you for your thoughts! That's a really relevant story for me, about the father who asks Jesus "Help thou mine unbelief". I need His help with so much, and especially with believing. It's not very fair that He has to help me believe in Him, but I know that He loves me so much and will help me in everything. Thank you for the motivation and help and strength! I always benefit so much from the thoughts and compliments you share with me - they're always what I need!

I studied Enos this morning, and realized just how fervent and strong his prayer was! I noticed in so many verses, he uses the words struggled, wrestled, and diligent. He says he poured out his WHOLE SOUL in his prayer. It's such a good example of how we should pray. Only after he spend hours and hours in fervent prayer did he receive his answers - but he kept going through those hours and hours. It was through that that he showed his faith to God, and then God finally, after the trial of his faith, gave him some incredible revelation! Nephi too, inquired diligently. I think we overlook sometimes how much effort these men used in praying. That's how they received the strength and power and revelation they did. I know that God is always there to answer our prayers. We may not need to pray all day to receive answers, but we need to have faith. And He will answer! I've seen that so much, and am trying to strengthen my testimony in that.

Sorry if this email was all over the place - my thoughts are kinda jumbled :) I love you so much! Thank you for all of your prayers! I love your emails so so so much! I miss you a lot, but at least I get to email you! And...Christmas is coming up :) Just saying! I love you!!!!


Elder Hopkin

Week 14--Finding People To Teach

Got a couple other pics this week from the sweet member in Tracy who has taken good care of Connor while he's been in that area. Also, this week, I made a fun connection with a friend of mine here that knows someone in the Tracy ward. This member's report was that Elder Hopkin and Elder Jones are working hard. She said they are great missionaries with good hearts and that the Ward Council was doubling their efforts to help find people for them to teach because they were working so hard in the area. This was a fun and unexpected blessing to hear about their efforts and successes from someone on that side of things. From Connor's letter it sounds like their hard work is starting to pay off and that they are finding people who want to hear their lessons, and that a few of them are even wanting to be baptized. Here are the pics and the letter:

November 16, 2015--Elder Hopkin and Elder Jones
getting back from riding their bikes to the grocery store
in the rain. The member met them at the store and took their
groceries back to their apartment for them so they wouldn't have
to carry them on their bikes, which was really nice. Didn't save them
from getting drenched in the rain, though. Looks like they survived it, anyway.

Hi Mom!!!

How are you doing?! Man, that sounds like a nice, peaceful Sunday morning! I remember there were a few times I'd get back from Mission Prep class and we were the only ones awake and it was so nice cause you and I just know how to be quiet and calm :) Sundays as a missionary are definitely quite stressful - the way I am, I get so overwhelmed and worried that I'm not talking to exactly who I should be or doing everything I need to. Yet there's something about church that just helps you keep going. The Sacrament has a bigger effect on us than we realize, I think. As we renew those covenants, we can receive the peace knowing that our sins are forgiven and that the Holy Ghost can be with us. And I think that even just being obedient to that commandment from the Lord brings so many blessings!

Thank you for all the prayers for me and my companion and our area! They have definitely been answered! The mission continues to be pretty dang difficult, but I've felt the Lord strengthening me. And our area kinda exploded this week! Quite a few new investigators! Of course, who knows how that will all turn out, but we're both very excited with the way things are going. We had a couple disappointments yesterday with people not coming to church, but some did come and we're trying to stay positive :) Thanks for the reminder that conversion is a process and takes a while! I'm not sure how long I'll be in this area, and I just want everyone to be golden and progress perfectly - but no matter how perfect our investigator seems at first, there's always a complication and concern somewhere. It's important for me to remember that this is how missionary work is, and I need to be patient with their progress. I've talked to several members over the last couple of days that took years to finally be baptized - and I need to remember that that's the best timing for some people. At the same time though, I hope that I can help people move towards that saving ordinance as quickly as possible, because that is what will bring them the most happiness!

Sister Brown came up to me yesterday and asked if I knew the Yokota's and after a couple seconds (it's so weird the things I forget and the things I remember) I was like "Yah!!" and she told me the story! It was so cool! I didn't know she had said those things though, and I really appreciate them. You know that I'm a people pleaser, and I worry that I'm not looking good enough for everyone. So even though I'm sure I don't always, that's really good to hear! Thank you!! I'm glad that the ward trusts us, because I don't always trust us :) We can always do a lot better, but we are doing our best to do our very best :)

I'm glad Cooper's doing well! I'm definitely so grateful for the living conditions I have!! My companion was really hoping to be called somewhere crazy, like Africa, and I'm thinking "Um, I'll take where I am" :) Keep me updated with him! And that's so exciting for Kelsey! She'll do awesome there! Dang, all these missionaries going's insane! It's super weird, now that the first wave of guys my age has passed, all the girls are starting to get their calls - and it's freaking me out! :)

I did get the jacket!! Thank you so so so much! It's exactly what I need, and I've already put it to super good use! Thank you so much for taking care of that for me! I need to figure out stuff like that for myself...ugh I've been realizing how dependent I am. It's no good :) And, I was thinking, I don't know how much I'd use a sweater...that jacket will be perfect! Just so you know :)

I've been feeling like I just need to tell you how much you mean to me. I hope I've always let you know how much I love you, but I'm sure there were millions of times when I fell short with that. Just know that I couldn't imagine a more incredible mom. You're seriously the perfect example of Christlike selflessness and service. I look up to you so much, and I can't imagine where I'd be without all the time and advice and love and everything you've given me. You're such an amazing example of true faith and diligence and charity. Thank you for the example you are, and all that you do! It doesn't go unnoticed, and I hope you understand just how much good you do for so many people! So yah....I just love you :)

I've been realizing lately just how important faith is in everything. I feel like I've always had a pretty strong testimony of the gospel and especially of Jesus Christ. But while out here, I noticed I don't have enough faith that the Lord can work through me. My patriarchal blessing talks a lot about faith, and I've really been trying to improve in that. I know that through faith, anything is possible. Through our belief and action, the Lord can work amazing miracles through us. In Ether 12, it talks about all of these incredible miracles that people performed - but these never came until AFTER the faith. I know that through prayer and scripture study and keeping the commandments, that Heavenly Father will bless us with unshakable faith and strength in our weakness, and that if we center that on Jesus Christ and His Atonement, there are so many blessings we will see. Of course, I'm preaching to the choir here, but that's what I've been learning lately :)

Thank you for keeping that blog updated! Several people have told me that they check it and really like it. I can't wait to see it in forever :) I love you so much! Congrats on reaching your Book of Mormon goal soon!! That is soooo cool and impressive!!!! Let me know when you finish! :) Thanks for that scripture, D&C 101:16 - I love that so much but had forgotten about it! Thank you for the compliments and advice and testimony and love and EVERYTHING!! You're the BEST!! :) I love you!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

P.S. I was wondering if it was snowing yet! I don't miss it that much, but it is pretty and kinda fun :) Good luck with that, I know you were never too fond of it :) We won't be getting any here, so enjoy it for me! :)

This week we sent Connor a Thanksgiving package. It was Thanksgiving in a box--snack style. Here's a list of the things we sent:

Cranberry Sauce--Trail Mix with Cranberries
Stuffing--Double Stuffed Oreos
Corn--Corn Nuts
Salad--Veggie Straws
Fruit Salad--Fruit Snacks
Pumpkin Pie--Pumpkin Cookies
Apple Pie--Apple Nutrigrain bars

We also had all of Shon's family respond to this question: "I am thankful for Connor's ___________".  We sent him all of their answers. The best one was Eva's (Connor's cousin) answer--"his hair".

Here are a couple of pictures of the package. Hope he enjoyed it!

 Thanksgiving package we sent for 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Week 13---Some Teaching And A New Place

Got a great letter and some pics from Connor this week. Looks like he and Elder Jones are beginning to find people to teach, which is an answer to my prayers, and I am sure an answer the theirs. I love it when members sent me pictures. And, Connor even sent a couple on his own--progress!! Here are the letters and pictures below. 

November 6, 2015

This one is from a member in Tracy. She has sent a couple of pictures from this same food court, so I am assuming she treats them for dinner. She assured me that they ate their veggies before their dessert. Love how they take care of my boy!

November 4, 2015

This one is of Connor, Elder Jones and Elder Griffin. He was one of the Elders from the other companionship that they shared an apartment with. He was transferred on this day. Connor really liked him and was sad to see him go. Aren't they all so handsome--and don't they look happy too!?

The explanation of this picture is found in Connor's letter below. Pretty cool story, actually! We pray for Mary that she will continue to progress and will be baptized.

Hi Mom!!! :)

K there are a couple pictures for you! The first is of me, Elder Jones, and Elder Griffin. He's the one that has the uncle that works at BYU with Dad. He was here in Tracy in the Spanish ward for all 10 months of his mission so far! That's the picture we took the day he got transferred. We were super sad to see him go, cause he's seriously the coolest, kindest person ever, but these transfers are inspired, so not much we can do about it :) The second is that sign I told you about! It's the woman that stopped us in the street when Elder Jones felt like we should go back - her name is Mary. It used to say "Jehovah Witness and Mormons" but she crossed out Mormons after she started talking to us :) I'll talk about her in a little :)

Anyways, it's so good to read your email! I'm so disappointed you couldn't come up with a clever title ;) Thank you soooo much for getting that coat shipped! I haven't gotten yet, but hopefully it'll arrive soon! And in the meantime, my incredible ward mission leader let me borrow one so I'm all good! :)

So now that I think about it, we had a pretty eventful week! Elder Jones and I got moved to our own apartment on Wednesday because President Palmer supposedly doesn't really like 4 missionaries being together (which totally makes sense). So we got a brand new apartment with new materials and extra space and we're super excited about it! It's a little weird having two 18-year-olds living by ourselves (we don't know lots about life) but it's kinda fun too. Also, this last week, we actually got to teach people! The week before, no one had been available, but this last week we had two lessons with Mary and a few with some others! Mary has committed to be baptized in several weeks, and she came to church yesterday! There's still a lot we need to teach her and a lot of things she needs to do, but she seems real about it! And! We had been praying for a way for Amelia to come to church....and Mary said she could give her a ride! Like I explained, Amelia's mom doesn't trust anyone to take her to church, and she won't ever take her herself...but she said that Mary is the only one that she trusts! Amelia didn't come yesterday (we don't really know why) but Elder Jones and I were SO excited when we found out that was a possibility! It's really amazing how the Lord works; I can kinda see over the last several weeks how He arranged things so that this could work out! Hopefully things continue to work out like that....we'll see. For now though, we're pretty excited! Also, as I was reading my emails just half an hour ago, our Bishop called us and said that a recent convert's husband (who we've been talking to a bit but not teaching) wants to get baptized!! Of course, there are things that could go wrong, but things are looking up and we're pretty happy about it. So that was kinda my week. Elder Jones got sick for a while but impressively pushed through it a lot! So yah!

Thank you for all your thoughts! Ammon and Aaron are definitely such impressive examples of missionary work! Dang I wish I could just teach like them! I've actually been ponderizing (kinda poorly :) ) that scripture, because I just want to be able to teach with power and authority! I hope that I can become that good! :) I do love though, how Aaron's success came after soooo much trial! It's like Ether 12:6, which I love. The witness comes after the trial of our faith.

I haven't heard a whole lot about this new policy. A less active brought it up to us, and we hadn't heard about it and kinda refuted it....oops :) We'll talk to him later. But I talked to a member about it yesterday and then looked online today and learned more about it. It's super interesting. The things that Elder Christofferson said about it were so on point! At first I was a little questionable about it, but it totally makes sense now! And of course, even if it didn't make sense, I wouldn't have had a problem with it...but that is nice when it's logical :) But no, we haven't run into any problems with that yet. I do love how the Lord directs this church and how we have such inspired, wise men to lead us. I know that God is at the head of this church!

Thank you for always telling me about my strengths! It's super nice to hear them from someone; I really appreciate that always! I can't really think of anything specific for the holidays...maybe a sweater? I've noticed that some people wear them in the cold and that might be nice? I've never been a sweater guy though...I don't know :) I trust you! Just whatever! Thank you! :)

K I gotta go :( I love you so much! Thank you for everything! You're the most PERFECT mom ever!! I miss you and love you and thank you for everything you always do and have done for me! I'll be excited to talk to you next week! Bye! :)

Elder Hopkin

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 12--No Transfers!

On Sunday morning, November 1st, I woke up with a great photo on my phone from a member in Ione--Connor's first area. At first I was a bit weirded out by seeing him in a picture with Elder Dixon again (his trainer), but the member sent me the story behind the picture and it then all made sense. It is a family that he and Elder Dixon started teaching together before he was transferred. Elder Dixon and his new companion finished teaching her and her two sons. They were baptized this weekend and Connor was able to attend the baptism. Some kind member from the Tracy Ward drove him and Elder Jones to Lodi so they could be there. 

Baptism in Lodi on Saturday, October 31, 2015

It was fun to see Connor and to hear a little bit about what he did this week. We got letters from him on Monday. The first is his letter to me and the other is the one sent to Shon. 

Hello Mom!!! :)

How are you?? It's so good to hear from you!

So I don't have a whole lot of time today... and I'm feeling a little off to be honest... so my email might be kinda lame :) But yah, it was so nice to go up to Ione for that baptism!! I had no idea that they had sent you a picture so I'm glad you got one! It was so weird to be there. I had only taught them a few times (and it was mainly Elder Dixon doing the talking) but we found them together and it was super exciting to see them getting baptized. It kinda helped remind me that it really can happen :) It was super fun to see the families and Elder Dixon. It was funny, between the baptisms and the closing talk, Elder Dixon and his companion were gonna share a message, and Elder Dixon leaned over to me and asked "do you and your companion want to give it?" And I was like "uh, no!!" and he was like "you're a lot nicer to your companion than I was" :) His companion right now has been out about a year, but I think Elder Dixon has really helped him grow a lot, so that's cool! Thanks for showing me that text, that made me feel good :) And that's super fun you connected with Elder Jones' mom! I really appreciated hearing what she said too! If you haven't already, let her know how great I think my companion is!

Thanks for all the compliments! I'm really lame cause I always need those :) I've felt pretty stressed this week - I don't know why! It's just my stupid brain and the way it overthinks things and gets all confused and messed up. So thank you for all the prayers and fasts! Cause who the heck knows where I'd be without them! Overall I'm doing pretty well though!

Our week wasn't too wonderful but not too terrible. Nothing exciting really - we've just been trying to talk to as many people as possible, so we've found a few people that are "interested" :) A lot of our investigators either weren't available at all or postponed their appointments, so not a lot going on there. We've had a few really good visits with less active members though! There's a Prospective Elder that we've been working with basically since week one, and we brought the Bishop to his house on Wednesday and had a super good visit! He's planning on coming to church this Sunday and really getting into it! That's kinda been the highlight!

This week is transfers. Elder Jones and I are staying! No changes there! Except one of the Elders in our apartment is moving out and we're so upset cause we love him so much! It's Elder Griffin, the one that has the uncle that knows Dad. He's not too excited to go, but we all know the Lord is in charge of it all! Our District Leader is now a Zone Leader, and he's pretty excited about that! So that's kinda it for transfers!

I love 1 Nephi 3:7! That one always helps me so much! He just has so much faith! I'm ponderizing Alma 17:2-3 right now, cause I really just need the Spirit as much as possible! I've been learning a lot about how God always answers our prayers and we're always able to ask for help and answers. So I've been trying to pray even harder for the Spirit and others things :)

I got the Halloween cards and LOVED them!! They were so fun! Thank you so much! And again, that package was so perfect! Also! The Simmons sent me an awesome package so could you tell them thanks? And could you also give Chris and Melissa a thanks for the gift cards they sent us? That was so nice of them! Everyone is so helpful and kind and it makes me feel so loved! :) As far as the jacket goes, do you mind picking one up for me? I just don't know enough about what's good and what's not. I feel super lame about that but it just stresses me out trying to find one. If that's inconvenient, let me know and I'll suck it up and find one :) Thank you!

That's super exciting about all the missionaries!! It's so crazy! Jeremy is gonna be so stinking good, that punk! :) I've been getting weekly emails from Brian, and I think he actually just sent me a personal one! I'm sure he'd love an email from you! He seems to be doing super well!

Well, I love you so much! I know that this is the Lord's work! He's always there for us. More and more I'm learning just how much and just how individually and perfectly he cares about us. There is so much happiness that comes from this Gospel!

I didn't get to say this last week, but I realized how lucky I am to be your son! I always kinda understood how blessed I was, but just that fact that I have such incredible parents is such an enormous blessing to me. So thank you so much for everything you do! I really look up to you! You're the best!! :) I hope this email was ok! I love you so much and I'll be really looking forward to your email next week! Thanks for all the uplifting and inspiring thoughts, they always help me so much!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Hey Dad!

Sorry about last week! I thought we were gonna get extra time to email but we didn't :/ I hope that was ok.

I'm glad you guys got that photo from Ione! I didn't know they had sent one! :) It was super exciting to be there and to see that family get baptized, but it was really weird! It seemed like so long ago, even though it was only 6 weeks! It was really good to see everyone though - except that I forgot half of their names :)

This week is actually transfers, but Elder Jones and I are staying the same! That'll be super nice, I've never liked change :) It makes me worry though that I was supposed to accomplish something here already, and that I'm staying because I haven't done it yet. But I hope and think that's maybe not the case.

I love that thought about us being the lost! It's super interesting to see us as being both the 99 and the 1! I've definitely found so far on my mission that I ALWAYS need Christ! Elder Jones and I were talking about how a mission is so hard, but we have so much to strengthen us - prayers from others, the temple endowment, the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, the Atonement - so how the heck do people do it that don't have the Gospel? I know more than ever how much God loves us and is there to strengthen and help us. And we definitely all need it, no matter where we are in life!

Well, time is limited once again. I loved seeing those pictures of the family! It was good to see everyone kinda :) Thanks for emailing Elder Jones, he really appreciated that! Thanks for always being there for me! You (and Mom) are such a good example of being Christ-like! You both have so many attributes of His that I hope to gain someday! I love you so much! Thanks for everything!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Week 11--Three Month Mark

More of the same for Elder Hopkin this week. We did send him a Halloween package which he got and enjoyed. He also hit his 3-month mark on the 29th of October. It's not a lot, but it's not nothing!

Here are some pics of the package and his letter for the week.

Halloween package sent to Elder Hopkin--Halloween 2015

Mom Mom Mom!!!

Hi! :) Dang, we were gonna do some service today and I was super worried I wouldn't really get to email much! But it fell through so here I am! :) It made me realize though, there might be weeks when I don't end up getting to email and I realized that would probably worry you since I've written every other week so far. So I just wanted to let you know... it probably won't happen, but if I happen to not email one of these times, I just got too busy with other things. But I'm gonna fight tooth and nail to get my email time :) Anyways!...

So, unfortunately, not a whole lot to report on. Our two progressing investigators barely count as progressing... Amelia is still super into getting baptized, but we're having such a hard time even getting appointments with her - we only met with her once this week, and she was kinda sick so we read a couple scriptures with her, made sure she was reading and praying, and took off. We haven't seen our other progressing investigator in over a week. Hopefully we have an appointment with her on Wednesday though.... we'll see. So that's a little frustrating, but it's all good! :)

We do have a couple of new investigators and some hopefully promising potential investigators though! On Wednesday, we were biking past a woman washing her car and stopped to talk and she said "nope! I'll spray you!" and we were all worried, then she said "If you help wash, I'll listen to you!" :) So we started washing her car in white shirts and ties and did our best to teach her! It always throws us off-guard when we expect a quick "no" and someone all of a sudden says "ok, I'm listening, teach me!" so the lesson started off pretty rough (plus we were washing a car). But we did our best, and even though the car ended up looking like junk, we answered a lot of her questions, gave her a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet, and scheduled for this Thursday. And we passed her house again just a few hours after we talked to her, and she was outside already reading the pamphlet and stopped us to ask a question! So we're hoping that continues to go well! Yesterday, we passed a house with a couple sitting outside, but didn't talk to them cause it was kinda an awkward situation, then a couple minutes down the road I felt like we should go back and talk. So we did, and they were SUPER nice and respectful! They're the kind that know a lot about other religions and already have pretty set opinions, but are interested in learning more. The woman especially was interested in talking, and we taught her about the Plan of Salvation because she was curious about the afterlife. When we explained about the Spirit World and the degrees of glory, she looked kinda surprised and said "Oh! That's actually really nice, I like that!". We weren't able to get a return appointment, but they're open to us stopping by and hopefully she'll read the Book of Mormon and want to know more! It'll take some work with them though :) So those are kinda my two stories for the week. Not a whole lot, but fun stories I think :)

I did get the Halloween package, last night!! I LOVED it!!!!!! Thank you so so so much! :) Those packages always help me feel so loved and cared for! Thank you! I wasn't sure if some of it was for Elder Jones or not, so that's good to know ;) MMmmm those mangoes and the pretzels! I love you :) And the spider webs and everything were so creative and fun and you're just the best mom ever!! So yah, thank you so much!

I don't really know what to do with the coat :) That's super good advice though! Do you mind just seeing how much it would cost to get that one from Missionary Mall? We just don't really go to clothing stores a whole lot is the thing. We do shop at Wall-Mart though, so maybe I can pay attention to something other than food and look for a coat there next time :) And it definitely would be good for me to get used to buying my own clothes for once :) It's still feeling ok during the nights, so I'm sure I can last another couple weeks if need be!

Thanks for what you said about me contributing and not having to worry too much. I just keep on worrying even though I know I shouldn't. Ugh! There are just some days that I just think "I don't know how to be a missionary, I don't know how to teach people, I don't know what to do!" and I just worry that I'm messing everything up and not accomplishing anything! But I need to not worry as much. And I need to not worry about not worrying :) I do feel like we're starting to build a pretty good foundation here though! There have been several members that have made super nice comments about us, how they trust us and think we're good missionaries, so I think we've done a good job at least with the members. That's been a really nice self-esteem boost, but I worry that we won't live up to those expectations :)

Ok, we actually are out of time! Shoot, I didn't get lots of time today and I still need to send a couple quick ones! I love you so much! Thank you for all your advice! I might be able to come back in a little so maybe I'll send a couple more thoughts :) But if not, I love you a lot and miss you and I'm so grateful for everything! I love you!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin