Friday, December 11, 2015

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

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