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