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 mission...so 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 see...my 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