Sunday, September 27, 2015

Week 6--Change, Training, And A New Area

Well, just when you start to feel settled, the Lord has a way of challenging you once again. That is what happened to Connor this week. On Sunday night I was in the middle of writing him my weekly email when I received some pictures and texts from a member family in the area where Connor and Elder Dixon were serving. As always, so fun to see him and hear how he was doing. Here are the pictures that were sent from the Busi's--a family that Connor has really enjoyed working with in his first area.

 Elder Hopkin and Elder Dixon  Sunday, September 20, 2015

Elder Hopkin and Elder Dixon with the Busi Family

Shortly after receiving these photos this text came in. It was a little bit shocking to both Shon and to me.

Shon and I both went to bed wondering just a little if maybe they were all teasing us and we would open Connor's email the next morning and he would begin with "Hahaha, just kidding." Not that we doubted his capabilities, just that we thought he hadn't been in the field very long and was still a "greenie" himself in many ways. But, the next morning, on Monday, before receiving his email, I saw a post on the mission facebook page which announced that 25 new missionaries would be arriving from the MTC that day in the Modesto Mission. Well, obviously if there are 25 new missionaries, there must be 25 trainers. So, I concluded that the text was real and Connor would, in fact, be transferred and training a new missionary. Here is Connor's letter with all those promised details.

Hi Mom!! :)

I'll try to answer some of your questions. So, we stayed with the Zone Leaders until about Wednesday, then went back up. By the time we were back, the area wasn't having too many problems. The fire has moved pretty far away, so all those in our area that were evacuated are back and ok. I think there were a few homes that were destroyed but the destruction wasn't too terrible. I honestly don't know a whole lot about the whole deal :) But all is well now! As far as my area goes, I've maybe seen a couple black people here and's very dominantly Caucasian :) It has kind of a mix of poor and wealthy...there are some very obviously rich people, but there are several trailer parks with very poor living conditions. It's kinda all around. Kinda like Orem, honestly, but with maybe a little more poverty? It's pretty rural, we were sent to "the hill country". Small-ish towns with one-street downtowns. I don't really know how to describe it honestly. There are some newer developments in Ione that remind me of Pflugerville. A lot of the cities are old mining towns that then grew over the years. It's all pretty spread out though.

I got the package on Tuesday! It was sooooo perfect! I needed those, they will be so helpful! Thank you for taking such good care of me! You're the best Mom I've ever had! Or could ever dream up! Or ever existed! :)

Saturday sounds like it was a lot of fun! I'm glad Ethan finally got to ride all the rollercoasters! :) And that concert sounds like a blast!! I'm jealous :) Thanks for the missionary news! I think Gavin's farewell was yesterday as well. I have had one email from Michael...he's training on his second transfer too! Crazy!! That's really all though.

Thanks for your thoughts on charity, I loved them!! I haven't been able to really study it a whole lot more, but I'm certainly trying to develop it right now. I feel like there's so STINKING much to work on's pretty overwhelming :) Thanks also for sharing that hymn with me. That really helps. I've gained such a greater appreciation for the hymns....that one, How Firm a Foundation, Lead Kindly Light, etc. They're so good! :)

So yah...I'm training. In a new area. I don't even know what to say about it. I'm kinda psyching myself out about it. I am SOOOO scared. I can barely even take care of myself - I have no life knowledge or common sense or anything. And now I have to take care of myself, and do missionary work, and train someone else. Elder Dixon has been preparing me for this though. President Palmer had said some things to him, and he had felt some promptings, that made him think I might be training really soon. So that's why he's been so hard on me, he's been trying to get me to progress faster than is usually needed. I'm doing my best to rely on the Lord. I'm gaining a better appreciation for 1 Nephi 3:7. The Lord wouldn't ask me to do this if I couldn't, right? I can do all things through Christ right? Anyways, it's kinda built a lot of stress and anxiety for's the epitome of the unknown, and that's always been hard. I've had to really try to just pray and read the scriptures and my patriarchal blessings and my other blessings and try to have faith. That's all I need to do, is have faith. He'll provide. But I'm scared. Anyways...those are my thoughts on it. I feel super overwhelmed and confused honestly, but there have been times that the Spirit has given me a clearer mind. Thank you so much for your compliments. Those really help. I'm so aware of my weaknesses out here that I have a hard time remembering my strengths. So thanks for reminding me :)

We had another baptism on Sunday! His name is Rick, he had been coming to church a lot on and off, so we went and found out what he needed and invited him to repent and be baptized! He's already so knowledgeable about the Gospel! His son is a convert and return missionary, and he was so helpful as we helped Rick progress. So I'm gonna try to send a couple pictures of that! I'm glad you got the pictures from the Busi's! They're so great, they've done a lot for us. We're pretty sure he's going to be the next bishop. :)

My companion and I have been giving a lot of thoughts lately about the Atonement. He showed me a scripture that I really like, 1 Nephi 19:9. And connecting that with Alma 7:11-13, it gives a lot of insight on the Atonement. I know that without Christ doing that for us, that we would have no hope. He did it out of complete, pure love for us. Because of it, we can return to God's presence, and as we live righteously and follow the Gospel, we can live in His presence. It's the center of everything. I'm so grateful that He did that for me, and I know that He can strengthen us through it as we turn to Him.

Anyways, that's all my thoughts I guess. Pretty muddled. I wish I could consolidate all my thoughts better. I hope these emails are ok! Thank you so much for all you do for me! I love you so so so so much!! I love getting your emails, they're so helpful! I pray for you and the family every night! Thanks for your prayers for me, they give me a lot of strength! I LOVE you!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Here is the letter that he wrote to Shon.

Hi Dad!!!

I got your package on Tuesday! Thank you SOOO much!! It was perfect!! I tried to listen to the Barbie song but my companion wouldn't have anything to do with it and shut it right off :) I've been putting the protein to good use too! Thank you for taking the time to do that! It really means a lot!

Ok, about the transfer. UGH!!!! I'm so terrified. I'm getting doubled-in to an area, to train. So basically starting from scratch...and I barely know how to be a missionary, and my companion doesn't. I've been super stressed and worried about it. My anxieties haven't been too terrible lately, but after I got that call, they came back a bit. It's been weighing on me pretty hard. It's a stinking whole lot of the unknown, and I'm just doing my best to handle it and not worry too much. Thanks for the thought to not worry about every detail, and the compliment that my companion will love me. I'm trying to see this as an opportunity to learn and to grow, and as a compliment from my Mission President and the Lord....but it's also looking like a good opportunity to fail and just mess up. I'm just trying to go forth in faith and rely on the Lord to help me in the calling that He has given me. At times the stress and worry has been almost too much for me, honestly, but there have been times that the Spirit has just calmed me and I feel like everything will be ok. I'm just trying to have faith! :)

Thanks for telling me that about Makaeli! That makes me feel good, as surprising as it is :)

I think your thoughts about me getting overwhelmed will help! I don't know if I can control it, but I think I'll try to just zone in and focus on one thing at a time. My brain just wants to go a million miles an hour but can't keep up, and it freaks me out. I'll have to learn to figure that out though :)

Thank you so much for your love and example. It's been so important to me in my life. You're so incredible! Thank you!! I love you so much! I'll be looking forward to another inspiring email next week :) You're pretty good at those... no pressure :)

Love Elder Connor Hopkin

Needless to say we have been saying some extra prayers for him this week. We believe he will do an amazing job! And, we are quite anxious for his email this coming Monday so that we will know who is companion is, where they are serving, and how this last week has gone.

On Monday evening we received more texts from the Busi's. They sent a few more pictures and a video of Connor playing their gorgeous white grand piano. These are below. It is one song broken into two videos--it was too big to send over text as just one. So, there's the first half and then the second half.

The pictures:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Here is an article that was written about Connor's mission. It was shared on his mission facebook page and is worth reading, if you get a chance. Nice when there are positive news stories about the Church and the missionaries!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 5--One Month In The Field (Already)

Well, so this week Connor hit a milestone. One month in the mission field--on September 10th. I am not sure if he's keeping track, so I am doing it for him...hahaha. We received an unexpected call from President Palmer this week. Apparently the fires in Northern California were getting a little too close to Connor's area. So, to be on the safe side, they transferred him and Elder Dixon from their area and put them into another--doing splits with other Elders in that area. We are not sure exactly where he is or who he is with, but President Palmer said they were safe and doing well. We are not sure how long this situation will last. For now we are just anxious to hear from Connor on Monday with more of the details. I can imagine this was not easy for him. I think he was just starting to feel a little settled. But, change is the only thing we can really count on in life, and the mission is no different. Learning how to cope with unexpected changes is a good lesson that hopefully Connor will learn over the two years he serves. It's a good lesson for all of us to learn, really.

President Palmer was very complimentary of Connor in his phone call. He said that he had recently heard him teach and that he was very impressed with his abilities. He told Shon that Connor taught like he had been in the mission field for a year already. He said he was really happy to have Connor in his mission. This was good to hear. Connor has been so critical of his teaching abilities. I guess it's good that he feels the need to improve, but hopefully he can also find some confidence in himself and what he already has to offer.

Shon received this text from President Warnick about the same situation.

This week we also sent a package to Connor. It was nothing earth-shattering, just some stuff he had asked for. But, I want to document everything on here, so this is a picture of some of the stuff we put in his package. I forgot to take a picture of it before I taped it this is the best I've got. Connor had asked for some snack items, a jump drive with some church music and his post-workout protein powder. We packed it all in, along with Shon's book that was just recently published. Hopefully he'll be happy with it all--if not, hopefully he will at least be happy that he doesn't have to buy those things for himself. I love Post Net, by the way. It is so close to home and quite convenient. I can run in, pick up one of these flat rate boxes (free of charge), pack it as full as possible and then send it off for $20! While I was there this week, I happened to notice the price to send it internationally--$96. Boy, am I grateful Connor is in California. It should reach him by Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week. Can't beat that!!

Package sent on September 12, 2015

Here are the letters that Connor sent to both Shon and me this week. Mine is first:

Hi Mom :):)
Things have been pretty exciting around here! On Wednesday I think, we saw the start of a fire, then woke up on Thursday smelling smoke. The fire was insane, it's been spreading like crazy! It's nothing to worry about though, it wasn't really even close to where we stay. President Palmer has been so careful with us though, so we're staying about 40 minutes away in a city called Lodi with the Zone Leaders. We've been going up for appointments from time to time, and we went up for church yesterday. There's basically no concern about the fire hitting our city, but the air quality is terrible. So we're spending most of our time in Lodi. That's kinda the details on that stuff! We're living out of a suitcase, which only adds to my stress, but I'm handling it all ok :) The hardest part is that we kinda feel like we're abandoning/letting down our area. We've had to cancel tons of appointments. We were feeling like things were starting to gain momentum, and then this happened and it's kinda falling apart again. And we can barely even do work! It's kinda frustrating.

Thank you for praying for my change of heart! Everything you said there is completely inspired I think! You definitely explained your thoughts well :) I've been able to let go of home a lot more this last week. I actually felt pretty good about it, but then my companion yesterday brought it up again and said I need to be even more focused...oh well. I'm trying to figure it all out. Because I still care so much about you all, and I'm not supposed to forget about my family or anything! But I need to focus. So I'm trying to balance it all. Thank you for praying for me. I know all of your prayers help me so much. That paragraph about being a missionary to everyone...that is so good too! The missionary purpose that the Prophets have given us is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel". Others means everyone! However we can, we need to increase others' faith in Jesus Christ and do what we can to help them receive/remember the happiness that comes from living the Gospel. Keep it up being a good member missionary! That's something that my companion and I have focused on: inviting the members to find those that are ready to hear the Gospel. And as we've been inviting the members in our area, I've thought about if I ever did that at home. I didn't super well. But I know that member involvement is key to bringing others the happiness that comes from the Gospel!
Do you mind letting the Browns know that I got their package and that I loved it? That was so nice of them! Thanks :)

Ok, so my companion has some songs that are sooo good and I think you'll love them....cause they're David Osmond :):) So I just wanted to let you know about them. There's "He Hears Me", "The Loneliest Walk", and several others from that album that are just so good. I recommend them :) And it's David Osmond, so I thought you'd appreciate them regardless :) Also, I wanted to let you know that I've been eating oatmeal a lot actually! It's cheap and filling and so I'm walking in your footsteps! :)

A quick spiritual thought (I've been really bad about putting those in my emails! Sorry!) : I studied on charity this morning! It's the key to everything! In 1 Corinthians, it says that if we have the faith to move mountains, but have not charity, we are nothing. I thought it was really interesting. It's so important that we develop the kind of love that God has for us. That's how we truly become like Him. God is love, so if we want to become as He is, we need to be love and have pure love for others. I think we do that as we develop our love for God by keeping the commandments. And as we pray for charity and follow Christ (Moroni 7:48) then God will give us that true love. Then we can do anything, we will "be like him" and "be purified as he is pure". I'd recommend a study on charity, if you can get around to it :) Anyways, I just really liked that, so I thought I'd share!

You're in my prayers always! I love you so much! I'm sorry if this email is all over the place - they usually are :) Thank you for all you do for me! Just know how much I love and care about you! I'll be looking forward to your email next week! Let me know if there's anything more you want me to include in my emails! Thanks for everything!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Here is Shon's:

Hey Dad!

I was pretty excited when President Palmer said he was going to call you and let you know! It made me feel a little more connected to you guys, knowing that he talked to you! I'm so glad he thinks I'm doing well. Thanks for letting me know that! I hope I'm doing ok. The mission makes you so stinking aware of your weaknesses....I've honestly had a hard time seeing my strengths. That helps to know that President Palmer is at least a little impressed though :) And thanks for sharing President Warnick's email too. I got a letter from the Stake Presidency earlier this week. Do you mind letting them know that I really appreciated it? It was great!

I gave Mom a few of the details on the fire. We live in Ione, which is about 15 minutes away from Jackson, which is kinda the edge of where the fire was. We saw the fire on Wednesday, then drove about 40 minutes away to Lodi on Thursday for a District Meeting, then when we came back we realized how bad it was. There really isn't any danger at all of it hitting Ione - it's basically gone from even Jackson already. So no worries there! The air quality is pretty bad though, so we've been staying in Lodi with the Zone Leaders for the last few days. It's hard cause we've tried to keep up with our area and go to a few appointments, but President Palmer is being so careful with us, so we've had to cancel appointments and basically abandon the area. It's pretty frustrating. It's been cool to spend some time with the Zone Leaders though, and we got to talk to President Palmer and the Assistants the other day. I love them all, they're so kind and loving!

Thank you so much for sending the package! That'll be so nice to have around! Thanks for spending the time on that...I know you're busy and it means a lot to me. Thank you so much! I'll be excited for those songs :) And that book sounds so cool! I'll be looking forward to that as well :)

That quote is so good! I've been kinda down on myself the last few days. And my brain does that annoying thing where it gets overwhelmed cause it's trying to take everything in, then I just get confused and shut down. I hate it!! And it's been happening a lot lately. But it's basically completely explained by that Facsimile 2. I've thought about that a lot over the last few weeks. I seriously feel at times like that that I'm completely upside down, I have no idea what's going on, and I just feel anxious and lost. But the things that you've taught me about the Hero's Journey always help. Thank you for teaching me that. It's helped me get through tough times. And the Lord really does always help you. Not immediately always, but it does come.

I wanted to share a quick thought with you. I mentioned to Mom that I studied on charity this morning. I told her kinda the main idea of my study, but there was something else that I noticed. (It's not like I'm trying to hide this from her, I just thought I'd mention it to you specifically because we talked about something similar one time. But if she reads it, I'd love it.) I just studied it this morning, so my thoughts aren't completely put together on it. But I thought you'd maybe appreciate it and maybe even study it and see if I'm on the right track :) So in Moroni 7, it talks a lot about charity. In verse 48 it says "pray unto the Father...that ye may be filled with this love....for we shall see him as he is". And in 1 Corinthians 13:12 it says "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known". The footnote for the word "glass" refers to "veil". So I thought about all of this in context with Ether 3, and the temple, and coming into the Lord's presence. I think that charity is the key to all of it. Our whole goal, the end all experience, is being worthy to see God and be in His presence. And I'm starting to understand that charity is the thing that ties it all together. That's how we truly become like God, and then we'll be able to see Him as He truly is, and understand and be with Him. Anyways, like I said, my thoughts aren't really developed on it all. I just thought maybe you had already thought about it or maybe you could look into it or something. And if it's just random thoughts, then sorry :) Summary: charity is good :)

Well, I gotta go. Thanks for everything you do for me! I love you so much!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week 4--A Little More Of The Same

Nothing new to report this week. We always look forward to receiving Connor's letters on Monday. This week was no different. His letter is below. It was a bit shorter this week, which for the reader might be nice. For a Mother, well, it's not terrible, but I don't mind the longer ones either. He explains his reasons below, which I fully support. It's good to see him making conscious choices to focus on his mission and the work he is there to do, even if it means a shorter email home. I have to remind myself that when I served a mission we just waited for letters--whenever they arrived. Sometimes it would be weeks between each one. So, I am grateful to live in a day where I am not waiting anxiously by my mailbox each day to hear from my missionary. 

Hi Mom!! :) Once again, that email was exactly what I needed!! I feel like I'm gonna be saying that a lot over the next couple years :) And, that letter you wrote to me my first day at the MTC - I read that a ton this week and it is so perfect and motivating! So thanks for that too :)

So, just so you know, we're cutting email a little shorter today, and probably from now on. I'm honestly having a hard time letting go of home, and Elder Dixon has recognized that and is really suggesting that I email less. But I figure I can at least spend some time on my mother, right? :) But just so you're aware, that's why my email might be a little shorter. Also, that means I won't be able to email everyone else that I want to. It's good though! I really just need to devote myself to the Lord! I'm trying to study my mission purpose more and I've learned that the way that we show God we love Him is by doing what He asks and serving others. I'm so preoccupied with my own problems that I'm not turning outward as much as I should. But that's the whole reason I'm on a mission, is for God and for others.

Thank you for setting up the blog and sharing those comments with me! You do so stinking much for me! I thank Heavenly Father every single night for how incredible my parents are, and I ask Him to help you understand how much I love you. My patriarchal blessing tells me to show my parents that I love them by the way I live. So I hope that by my emails and my prayers and me trying my hardest, that you'll see how much I love, appreciate, and care about you and Dad.

We have been able to find some people to teach! We have 3 investigators with a baptismal date! I'm not experienced on whether those usually actually happen or not, but I'm trying to be optimistic and have faith that all three will be baptized! That would be so exciting! I'm still not a very great teacher, but I'm hoping as I work harder on that that it'll come with time! The work is picking up a little, but there are certainly still frustrating times. I'm still exhausted always, but that's so true what you said, that I need to be tired! :) I'm getting less homesick but it still comes of course...but it is getting better :) So I'm doing well! I'm trying to just rely on the Lord! I know He can strengthen me! Elder Dixon says thanks for the prayers! And I say thank you sooooo much for the prayers :) They definitely help motivate me and give me strength!

I love you so much! Thank you for allllll you do!! I miss you lots! I'll write you next week :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Week Three

Connor's letter from his third week is following. No pictures this week, although he does keep promising he'll try harder to take some. He passed his 1-month milestone this week on August 29th. Looking back that month did seem to go pretty quickly, although to him I think it seemed much longer. I felt like he was starting to have a little less homesickness this week, which I've been praying for. Sounds like he's keeping busy and working hard to find people to teach. 

Hi Mom!! It's always so good to hear from you!! I got your package a couple days ago! We got home and it was such an amazing surprise! Thank you so much! I loved reading the letters from you and Bryn and Ethan. It's really nice of them to write me! And the stuff was so helpful! I was out of milk but I'm so excited for those Carnations :) And the nuts and Subway gift cards were perfect. I was actually gonna ask you today if you could send more snacky foods or gift cards in any packages you want to send, so that was perfect! I've got a really good stash of candy but I've started to need things like granola bars and crackers and stuff like that to get me through the day. We're scheduled for dinner every night so we haven't had to worry about that, but we have to make or buy breakfast and lunch, so stuff like that would be perfect whenever you send a package! Like the Subway gift card was awesome. Elder Dixon really likes Jamba Juice so a gift card to there would be helpful if you want to send one! And I'll let you know when I run out of candy :) Oh, and we're not allowed to chew gum, so I don't need anymore of that but mints are always welcome! :) Anyways, sorry I'm just asking for things! Don't feel like you need to send any of that! I can manage! But it has been and would be helpful. Thank you!! :)
This week went pretty well. I'm tired. Elder Dixon and I are both kinda frustrated with the slow progress we've had. We're having a really hard time finding people to teach. He especially is not used to that! We're kinda trying to figure out if we're doing something wrong or if God is just testing us with a little drought. It's all good though! We stay plenty busy, there's lots to do! Just not much teaching investigators. We're still trying to figure out how to balance our two wards and deal with the big area it covers - just driving from one place to another can take more than 20 minutes! I'm holding up ok though. I'm probably sounding pretty pessimistic, but the week hasn't been bad! It is crazy that I've been out a month! It honestly feels like a lot longer. But still, it's a month! I really am trying to think less of it as "Ugh 23 months left" and more of "23 months left to give it my all and work!" you know? I still miss home quite a bit but I felt a lot better this week. I think as time moves on that'll come naturally. I just wish it would come faster you know? :)
I'm still trying to be patient with myself. Haha you say to be patient with myself and let myself adapt....but Elder Dixon is pushing me along pretty fast. So I'm trying to counteract that with being more patient with myself :) He's a super good trainer though, he's teaching me so much! We're getting more used to each other, and I think he's working on being more patient with me, and I'm working on trying harder and learning quickly, so we're figuring it out!
I'm glad you got the picture of the baptism! I haven't really been able to take any other pictures....I'm sorry! I'll try to be better at that. It's just an extra thing you know? But I'll do it when I think of it :)
That's so exciting/scary for Morgan! I bet she'll love it though! She's gonna have a blast in college! I'm soooo glad I don't have to worry about that all. I doubt a mission is much easier than college...but still :) It is a nice change :) I'm so glad Makaeli beat Mountain View!! Yes! I'm sure there are some interesting evenings though with soccer going on! I read a couple of Katy's emails and she said Makaeli got asked to Homecoming! That's super exciting! Remind her to be good for me ;)  (By the way, I read everyone's emails before sending any. I promise you're the first one I email every time!) :) That's so fun that the Ashfords stopped by! Thanks for keeping me up-to-date with everything!
Let's see...oh, so one of my long-sleeved shirts has two buttons missing! So maybe if you get the chance do you think you could send me another? Or should I just find someone to put them back on? I feel so lost with that kind of stuff, I know nothing about clothes or food or anything! I should have payed more attention :) Anyways, if it's ok, that would be helpful. Or if you want me to buy one out here I can make that work too! Just whatever you think would be most convenient :)
Thank you so much for always sending such perfect emails! You always give me such good advice! I printed your last one out and read it a couple times throughout the week. It's so good to hear from you! :) You're such a perfect Mom! I've been learning and thinking a lot about the family, as I've read Preach My Gospel and visited other families and stuff. And I've realized how perfect of parents you two are! You raised me exactly the way I needed! You have always been so diligent in teaching us the Gospel and making sure we understand it, but still letting us develop our own testimonies. I'm realizing how daunting a task parenting will be, and just how good my parents are at it! So thank you!!!! :)
Please don't shorten up the emails :) I love reading every word! It's so good to hear from you and get as close as possible to talking with you! I miss you a ton!! I can't wait for 23 months from now so I can give you an enormous hug!! :) Right now I'm just holding on till Christmas when we can Skype! That's the first milestone! And the weekly emails will get us through those couple months :) Well, I hope I said everything I need in this email! I allllways worry that I'm missing something! Just like whenever I'd leave the house and worry about forgetting something...except now I'd be missing it for a week! I love love love email time but it stresses me out too cause I can't fit a whole week into one email! Oh well :) I miss you and love you so much! You're such an incredible mom! I really look up to you! You're such an incredible example!! Thanks for everything!!!!! You're my favorite :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

He also sent a group email out to his email list this week. I will post that here as well for history's sake.

Hey family and friends!! My Mom compiled all the emails and my Dad set up a group email so I can send one out now! I hope everything's going well with everyone! So, I'm not used to writing group emails, so if it's kinda awkward bear with me :)
First of all, my mom has been working really hard on a blog for me, and she wanted me to share the address with everyone. It's I'm not allowed to get on it, so I don't really know exactly what's on there, but my dad said it has some excerpts from my letters to them over the last month and some pictures and church website links. So if you're interested, check it out, and hopefully my parents didn't put anything too embarrassing on there!
Everything is going well out here! I've been out a month now, and it feels like it's been at least half a year! But it's been really good too! The MTC was an incredible, spiritual experience. I learned so much about the gospel and had so many spiritually uplifting experiences there. I was there for a week and a half, then I left for California. My first area covers two wards - Jackson and Ione. It's a pretty big area for two missionaries to cover, so driving between appointments can take more than half an hour! So we're still trying to figure out timing and how to schedule everything in. My companion is incredible! He's a super experienced, successful missionary, and he's taught me so much already! He's pushing me to learn really fast, and I feel pretty inadequate sometimes, but I'm getting the hang of it all! We got doubled-in to our area, which means that we're both new to the area. The previous missionaries didn't give us a ton to work with so we're basically starting from scratch. We're really trying to focus on working with members and finding people to teach through them. It's been kinda slow-going at times, but we're working really hard! We have had one baptism already though! The previous missionaries had been working with this one girl but she had never gotten baptized, so we went and taught her. She was moving really soon, and we really wanted her to be baptized and have the Holy Ghost before she made that transition, so we invited her to be baptized and she accepted and we taught her a couple lessons really close together and she was baptized last Sunday! It was really incredible. So that's kinda been the highlight of the month! The members here are so kind and welcoming. There are several families that remind me of my own, and that makes me miss them a lot. It's really nice to have people here that really care about us and take care of us.
I just want to share with everyone something that I've learned over the last little bit. Heavenly Father loves us and cares about us so much. I have a stronger testimony of that now than I ever have. We can really feel close to Him as we pray; we can express all of our problems and worries and He'll just listen. And He is always there to help us. Sometimes He tests us to help us grow, but He will ALWAYS strengthen us and help us get through whatever problems we have. His whole goal is for us to be happy. I know that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He has given it to us because He knows it'll make us happy in this life, and after we die. If we keep everything in an eternal perspective, we can find so much peace and hope, knowing that God will help us. Being out on a mission for the last month has strengthened my testimony of this so much. I'd invite you all to share your testimony at any opportunity. This gospel gives us happiness, so share it with others! And by doing that, your own testimony will grow!
I'm sorry if I haven't responded to some of you personally. I have a limited time on email, and I spend the majority of it sending ridiculously long emails to my mom! I love receiving your messages though. They're so helpful and they help me feel so loved! Thank you so much for all of your love and support!

Elder Hopkin

Week Two

Connor's letter from week two in the mission field. The third paragraph is the highlight if you are short on time. Oh, and all the parts where he says I am so great...that's good too.

Hi Mom!!!!! Oh my gosh, it's so good to hear from you! I didn't see your email at first and was so disappointed but then I found it :) I almost live for Monday's and email time...which isn't good but that'll come with time right?
The age gap between Elder Dixon and me is more than between me and Ethan! So weird! It's kinda nice though, having someone that has lived on his own for 8 years already. He knows what he's doing for the most part :) I've definitely learned a ton from him! Even though it's hard at times I'm learning so much and I think he's really training me to be a good, diligent, obedient missionary. I've had to stay really humble at times but I'm figuring it out.
Thank you so much for all that advice and motivation! I needed that! I'm still trying to figure everything out, and I get quite stressed from time to time.
I still get really homesick though...especially in the mornings when there's lots of time to think. It's pretty hard for me. A lot of times though I read the scriptures or start getting into the day and forget about it for a while. But then it always comes back. I really hope it diminishes over time. I'm still in the stage where I just want my mission to be over as fast as possible...I hope soon it'll switch though and I'll just love it out here. I've always been a sentimental person, so it's really hard for me to just let go of everything at home, and I think it's holding me back a little. I'm trying my best to really work hard and give it my all though. Ugh there's so much for me to be better at :)
So, we had a baptism yesterday!!! Sister Palmer sent you a picture, I don't know if you got it. But let me tell you a little bit about it :) Her name is Sierra and she's 16 years old. She was introduced a while ago by a friend, and her boyfriend is a member - he's the one that baptized her. The previous missionaries started teaching her but never really pulled the trigger for her to be baptized. So I came in with my baptism-happy companion, and we committed her to be baptized the first lesson we taught her and she said yes. The problem is, her dad was kinda against it, and she's moving to Idaho this Thursday. But we thought she needed to be baptized now with the opportunity she's been given, so we really pushed for her to be baptized on Sunday. So we prayed a lot and she talked to her dad and he begrudgingly said ok, so we taught her the commandments on Friday, interviewed her on Saturday, and baptized her on Sunday!! It doesn't really feel like my first baptism cause the other missionaries had already done a lot with her - but it really is my first baptism! It was so cool! I finally got to play the piano during for the service...I've been itching to get my fingers on one for a while now :) While she was changing after the baptism, Elder Dixon and I gave a message in front of the 50ish people that were there...I was so scared! And he made me start it off! I was so nervous but the words came out and I'm positive the Spirit completely just taught through me. It was so cool! President and Sister Palmer came up for it (they're so cool!) and were super nice to me and complimented me and everything. I kinda just feel less stressed and anxious when I'm around them. They're like the closest thing to a solid, stable home right now, you know? Anyways, that's my first baptism experience :)
 Our Ward Mission Leader and his wife are recent converts, and they got their endowments this last week and they loved it so much! It's amazing! Tell Makaeli good luck in soccer! And all of the kids good luck in school! That's one thing I don't miss :)
I still miss you so so so much! Elder Dixon and I did a really good companionship study on the family the other day, and it made me really miss you guys. I always loved you all so much, but I never realized just how much until I left. It kinda just increased how much I appreciate and love you all. Thanks for all of your support and prayers! It really does strengthen me when I get discouraged - I think about how much you love me and are proud of me for being out here and how much it would let you down if I gave up. So thank you for always being the perfect family. Thank you Mom for always teaching me so much and loving me so perfectly. I really look up to your kindness and wisdom and faithfulness and amazingness :) I'm realizing just how perfect of parents you two are. You're so incredible! So thank you!
Well, I think that's it... we have a couple more investigators but nothing super exciting. I'm getting a little better at teaching but I still have a waaaays to go! Oh, I haven't used my bike at all yet, but I thought I'd ask just in case: what am I supposed to tighten? I forgot and Elder Dixon doesn't really know :) Go figure...that's the one thing I was supposed to remember :)
 You're the best!! And I'll try with pictures...I keep forgetting. Sorry :/
I love you so so so much!! Thanks for everything you do for me! It's so good to get to talk to you once a week! And I'm looking forward to Christmas a little too much :) I'll email next Monday!

1st Baptism  Sunday, August 23, 2015

Week One In The Field

From here on out I will mostly be posting Connor's letters and maybe a picture or two, if he starts taking any. Believe me, I have been encouraging him as strongly as I can without stressing him out about it. If there is anything else of significance, I will post that as well. Here was one picture taken by Sister Palmer. She's been my only link to pics so far. I am grateful to her for it. I hope they'll keep coming, and hopefully Connor will start sending some as well.

Elder Dixon, Sister Palmer, Elder Hopkin

Mom!! It's sooo good to read your email!!! :) This week has been insane!! But good too! :) Hmm.... where to start? I feel like there's so much to do and say but I don't know how!

Let's see... So my companion is Elder Dixon! He's from S Carolina, but he lived in Utah for a while going to USU. He's 27. He has a really interesting story...he was inactive until he was 22, then he decided to serve a mission but through his Stake President and other revelation he realized he was supposed to wait. So he went to school and served as the Executive Secretary for his YSA ward. When he was 25ish his Stake President told him it was time to go on a he did! He has had a ton of success! From things he says, he has taught and baptized a LOT of people. He's one of those missionaries that goes into a broken area and turns it into a highly successful one. Super cool! He was a Zone Leader for a while, but he got released to train me and work on our area. We got doubled-in to our area (we're both brand new) and it covers a big area! (We do get a car though so that's way nice!) It's the Jackson and Ione wards. So he's got his hands full, training in a brand new enormous area with two wards to deal with. And it doesn't seem like the missionaries before us did a whole lot. So it's been really interesting. He's really serious about the work. He only wears a black tie, every day, as a sign that he's totally committed to the Lord (he does say thanks for the tie though :) ). We get along pretty well. There's a pretty big age gap. He's a little hard on me at times but he also does a really good job showing me that he loves me. I've learned a lot from him! His method of finding people to teach is super interesting. Oh, he's a huge health nut, so we wake up at 5:45 every morning for extra exercise time and he never eats dessert at dinners...ugh! :)  Right now we're just trying to orient ourselves in the ward. He's felt like we really need to work through active members to find referrals, so we've meet with a lot of members. The Ione ward is so on top of things! They're so welcoming to the missionaries and they're just super functional. We've met with a couple families that totally remind me of my family, and that makes me miss you all! The Jackson ward is a little less put together so we're trying to work with them but it's a little hard.

I've had a hard time talking to people. I go to talk to strangers and I just freeze up before I can share the gospel. It's super frustrating. Also, we've role-played a bit and basically I need to work on my teaching skills. I'm just having to be humble and teachable and work hard to learn. It's pretty discouraging at times. I've found though that whenever I'm feeling down, Heavenly Father finds a way to help me pretty soon so that's nice. My prayers have become a lot more sincere. Actually, a good example of my up-down-up pattern happened yesterday! We were role-playing and I was feeling like an idiot and I tried to teach a lesson and he had to take over cause I was screwing up so bad. Then we went to the Busi's house, and they're amazing! They're a lot like us, the parents are totally solid, they have a son on a mission, and their other kids are at home - really good kids but could be a bit more reverent :) So we role-played a lesson with them and it actually went alright, so I felt a little better. Afterwards we had an appointment with the Bishop but I felt like we should visit a less active family whose name had shown up a lot. So we went and taught a lesson completely by the Spirit and it was super cool! So yah, there's a good example :)

Sorry, I feel like I'm writing way too much! Let's Mission President is super cool! He drove up to our area from Modesto (Ione and Jackson are at the north tip of the mission, about an hour and a half from Modesto) to check in on us and his wife gave us some banana bread and it was super sweet! Elder Dixon said President Palmer used to be an Executive Secretary for the Seventy President that is in charge of missionary work, or something like that. So he knows his stuff. Apparently the Brethren were expecting him to be called as a General Authority but instead he got called to be our Mission President! Elder Dixon has had 3 mission presidents (including President Gelwix from trek) and he said that President Palmer is the best one yet. So that's pretty cool :)

Hmm... I'm having an interesting time getting used to living "on my own". I have to buy my own stuff and everything, so I'm slowly adjusting to that. That's added a little stress. Speaking of stress, I opened one of those green stress balls and play with it all around the house! It's the best!!! :)

Now to respond to your email... It really does seem like I've been out for months! (Except for my inability to do anything) Sometimes I wonder if I can really do 2 years when the first 2 days almost destroyed me! I get pretty homesick at times but I try my best to trust the Lord and I hope that'll wear off as time goes on. That's so exciting that school is getting in! I bet the kids are so stoked!!! Haha it will be good though to get them doing things!! That anniversary sounds so fun! I'm glad it was so good! And yes, I totally agree...Dad is incredible! I've been so so so blessed to have the parents I do. You two are seriously sooo amazing!! I honestly couldn't think of better parents. You've been so good and supportive and loving and everything I need! So thank you for everything! Thanks for setting up that blog! I can't get on it, but I'm so glad it's there!  Thank you for sharing that about Nephi! As I read through the Book of Mormon a month ago, I realized just how amazing he was, and he's one of my favorite BofM heroes too! There's so much good stuff in his books. Pretty amazing! I haven't taken a ton of pictures but Sister Palmer sent me a few to pass on to my mom so I'll send those in a separate email! Thank you for telling me about the ward and President Warnick and everything! That's so nice of everyone!!

So... I wish I could actually talk to you or just write forever. Sorry this was sooooo long!!! It kinda gets my anxiety going, trying to think of everything that's happened and trying to tell people about it. I feel like I'm forgetting something important (sound familiar?) :) I really miss you all a ton! I do get homesick quite a bit, to be honest, especially in the mornings. It's ok though! Don't worry about me! Just keep praying for me and sending me emails and I'll be alright! I have to keep reminding myself why I'm out here, because my perspective gets distorted at times especially when I'm discouraged. I wish we could go to the temple, but it's not in our boundaries. Anyways, it's all good! I'm learning to use the Atonement and how to pray to Heavenly Father for help! And all your letters and those blessing notes have helped lots! You're just perfect :) I'll send those pictures along, and if I think of anything else I need to tell you I'll add a quick email :) I love you so much! Thanks for everything!! You're the best!! I pray for you and the family every night! I love you lots!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Entering The Mission Field

Connor left the Missionary Training Center for Modesto, California on Monday, August 10, 2015. He flew the LONG two hours from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California where he and 13 other missionaries met their Mission President and his wife for the first time. They were the first group of missionaries to arrive who had actually been called to the Modesto mission. The mission was established on July 1, 2015. These Elders and Sisters arrived just 6 weeks after the mission was organized. This is a picture of them at the airport.

August 10, 2015  Oakland, CA

Here is what we know about Connor's Mission President and his wife:

Brent Alan Palmer, 62, and Karen Sue Testi Palmer, five children, Mercer Island Ward, Bellevue Washington South Stake: California Modesto Mission. Brother Palmer serves as an area executive secretary and is a former stake presidency counselor, stake mission president, bishop, elders quorum president, ward mission leader and missionary in the New York Rochester Mission. Executive vice president and chief valuation officer, New Tower Trust Company. Born in Salt Lake City to Earl Harman Palmer and Shirley Ann Moscon Palmer.
Sister Palmer serves as a ward Primary worker and is a former stake Primary presidency counselor, ward Young Women and Primary president and ward missionary. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Testi and Shirley Mae Bock Testi.

And, here is a picture of Connor with President Palmer and his wife in the mission home on the day he arrived.

The group of new missionaries in the mission home together. Some of them were from Connor's MTC District, including his companion, Elder Elliott (who is in the front row on the very left).

Some information about the new Modesto California Mission:

The California Modesto Mission was created from the California Fresno and the California Sacramento missions beginning July 1, 2015. The mission is currently divided into six proselyting zones serving six stakes: Lodi, Modest, Modesto North, Manteca, Stockton and Turlock.
Modest is located in the heart of one of the greatest agricultural areas of our nation--The San Joaquin Valley. According to various reports, the San Joaquin Valley is widely considered one of the most productive areas in the world. Dairy, nuts, fruits, grapes and poultry products are some of the top commodities.
Centrally located on Highway 99, Modesto is easily accessible from throughout California. West of the valley and over the coastal mountain ranges lies the San Francisco Bay area, a 90 mile drive from Modesto. Eastward are the foothills that house the famed Gold County "Mother Lode" and lead to the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range and Yosemite National Park
The mission office is located in Modesto, California. The mission home is located in Ripon, California.

The mission and its boundaries:

Connor was able to email us when he arrived. Here is the letter he sent:

Hey Mom and Dad! It was so good to get to talk to you today!! I'm so glad I got the chance to actually talk to you guys and hear your voices! So I arrived safely in Oakland, and we met our Mission President and his wife, and we drove and hour and a half to Modesto. I haven't talked to him much yet, I think I have an interview with him soon, but he seems really cool and nice! His wife is super nice!! I think I'm gonna really like them :) On the plane ride, I talked to the guy sitting next to me (super scary!) and he said that there's been a huge drought here so that'll be interesting! A question for Dad: He was Catholic and his wife is a member, but she's an intellectual and questions some things in the church. He said one thing that she has problems with is that there was a transcript or something that was found, and it supposedly showed that there were major differences in Joseph Smith's translation and an actual translation...or something like that. Are you aware of anything related to that? I'm not worried at all, just curious if there's anything behind that or if he didn't know what he was talking about :) For Mom: Thanks for the advice in your email! That's super cool with Debbie! That was a really good reminder about the endowment! Thank you so much for the motivation :)  Anyways, I just talked to you guys so I don't have a ton to say, but they let us get on to email cause Monday is P-Day. Everything is going well! I'm feeling pretty good about things...a little overwhelmed but feeling ok. I haven't met my trainer or gotten my area yet, but I'll let you know as soon as possible! Thanks for everything you do for me! Again, I'm so glad I got to talk to you! I miss you both so much! I love you!!

Love, Connor :)

I had sent him a "greenie" package so that he would get it when he arrived. Here are a couple pictures of that. I was pretty proud of it. When I first had everything laid out I was pretty sure it wouldn't fit in the box from the post office. But, IT DID...everything! It was packed in pretty tight, but it worked. He loved it!

We were anxious to hear about his first area and his new companion. But, we knew that it would be another full week before he could email again. That Sunday morning I received a text from Sister Palmer with a picture and a message.  It said, "Visiting in Jackson. We love your missionaries." Here is the picture she sent. It totally made my day--my week, actually!

Elder Hopkin, President Palmer, Elder Dixon
August 16, 2015

We now join the 88,000+ families who are anxious each week to hear from their missionaries. Mondays now take on a new meaning, at least for me.

If you want to know more about  missionary work you can visit this site: