Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 69--8 Months To Go!!

There is a woman in the Modesto 6th Ward, where Connor is serving, who is super good to the missionaries. She has them over to her home frequently. Last Mother's Day she invited the Assistants serving in the office to come Skype with their families in her home, although they were not serving in her particular ward. Connor had just been transferred and she was so good to him. Well, on this last transfer he ends up actually serving in her very ward. I have already been blessed by that. And, once again, he will be Skyping from her place on Christmas Day. Here is a picture she sent me this week. Love Sister Fraze!!

"Our new Elders & Sisters in Modesto 6th Ward. Take a moment to invite them to your home, feed them dinner, invite your friend to meet them. Each are diligent and hard working to help Bring Souls to Christ."
Elder Lopiano, Elder Hopkin, Sisters Judd and Bird
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Modesto, California

Also, on Sunday night, December 4, we had two unexpected visitors. It was Elder Moreno and Elder Torres--Connor's Zone Leaders while he served in Tracy. We had already met Elder Moreno--he returned home in March and came to see us shortly thereafter. Elder Torres we had not met until Sunday night. I immediately recognized him from some pictures Connor had sent home. They are both in college here in the valley and stopped in to say hello. Aaaahhh, it was so good to see them! Having them here made me feel a little closer to Connor, for some odd reason. Anyway, I managed to remember to take a picture before they left.

Alex and Cris
Sunday December 4, 2016

So, here is Connor's letter for the week and a couple of other pictures that he sent. Happy to know he is doing well and finding people to teach!

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

Hey, that's so fun those two stopped by! They were two of my favorite zone leaders, and they blessed my life so much! Thanks for sending me that picture!

Sounds like an exciting week.....? :) I myself am not too fond of shopping, but you seem to enjoy it, so I'm glad about that! That's fun that everyone will be getting together! I'm SO excited for our call home! I have so many stories by now...hopefully I'll be able to remember at least a couple :) Mostly I'm just excited to see you! I'm glad school is going alright. I think Makaeli had senioritis as a sophomore...but so does everyone... I think mine started as a freshman. So that's ok :) You'll have to keep me updated on her school choice... then I can decide whether or not I like her. I'll always love her, but liking is dependent on some things. ;) Holy cow, that's so exciting about Ashley and Kyle!!!! Dang that'll be just in time for me to meet their baby! I'm so excited about that! I'll keep praying for Angie :)

Ahhhhhh!!!! Thanks for the heads up for college, but ahhh! I don't know if stressed or distracted is the right word (it's far enough off) but that's just so weird. So then... I'll figure out the ecclesiastical endorsement. I have tons of friends going so I have no idea for that. And how exactly do majors work? Is it tedious to change? What exactly does it mean? I don't even know how college credits and majors and programs work... I think I'm leaning to chemical engineering, but I have nothing to base that off of except random things I've heard. I can't even remember anything from Chemistry anymore... :/ Anyways, I'll let you know if I have any revelations or visions :)

Elder Lopiano is from Connecticut. Dang he is so good at connecting with people in our area - it's pretty amazing to watch! We make a pretty good team in this area :) We've found several investigators recently. We've had about 5 times the amount of lessons this week that I had all transfer in YSA. This area is just so prepared. We actually have an investigator with a baptismal date for December 21st! We haven't seen her much recently though...but I hope it holds on! :) Cool story of the week: Last transfer in YSA we got a referral in an apartment complex that's in 6th ward. We could never contact him, though. The other day, we were biking along, and had the impression to turn into the complex. We felt like we should turn right; then knock on a door; then go try another building in the complex. This one door stuck out to me, but Elder Lopiano said we should try one upstairs, and we did. I pointed out the one that had stuck out, and he said, "I was thinking that one too!" And it was the referral from YSA! And he has a kid, so he's in our ward! He seems pretty interested too. So the Spirit works! :)

Well I'm out of time. Thank you so much for the email! I love you so much! Thank you for all you do, and for all the love you show me! I can't wait for Christmas!!!!! :) I hope you have a great, safe week, and I'll be excited to read your email next week! :) I LOVE YOU!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

"Elder Nettesheim, after our exchange! He's been out just a little bit and is so solid!"

"Our names in the ward program.... oops :)"

Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 68--A Great 1st Week In The New Area

So, I think I may have mentioned before that I am part of a Missionary Mamma's Facebook group. It is basically a support group for parents who have sons and daughters currently serving missions. It has been a good resource for me and I have appreciated being a part of it. Well, on Saturday night (November 26th) I was scrolling through Facebook and found this picture that had been posted to that page by a member in Connor's new area that had just fed the Elders dinner. I was so happy!! This is Connor with his new companion, Elder Lopiano. His email this week was so positive--he is enjoying his companion and his new area. That makes me just as happy as the picture did.

Elder Hopkin and Elder Lopiano
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hi Mom!!!!!

So, first update: our zone has a lot of missionaries and not lots of computers, so I have less time than normal! Yay! I might get extra later though! So I just wanted to let you know :) I hope that wasn't a bad way to start :)

I'm loving this transfer already!! It's been so great so far! At first I had what Elder Griffin called "Assistant withdrawals", where I missed President and Sister Palmer and knowing the whole mission, and my nice house and great companions. But I got over it pretty quickly, and I'm seeing how much of a blessing this transfer will be. My companion is fantastic! We get along super well! He has given me so many meaningful compliments, and I've watched him do the kindest things for homeless people around here, and I've learned a lot from him. And he says he's learning from me, which is good! :) Crazy fact: one day, he asked to see a picture of Katy, and I showed him and he said "Dang she's do I know her?... When was she in the MTC?" He met her in the MTC! If you have a couple seconds to tell her that she hung out in the MTC with my current companion, I think she'd like that :) Anyways, he's super hard working and a good teacher, and it's been great so far! This ward is so solid too. There's another set of missionaries in the ward - sisters - that have a lot of investigators, and some with a baptismal date. They've been a huge help as we've transitioned into the ward. The Bishop is very helpful - he used to be a mission president. We have a few investigators from the last elders that were here, and we set a baptismal date with one of them on Saturday! We've talked to a ton of people that seem interested. So yah! On Sunday all four of us in the ward gave talks on the missionary lessons, and I talked about the commandments. I went after Elder Lopiano, and he's a super good public speaker, so I think mine was a bit boring in comparison...but I got through it :) So, things aren't perfect always, but things are going super good so far!

Hm... I can't really think of much else. Oh, the Fraze's are in my ward, and they're having us over for Christmas, so I'll be skyping home from their place again. Ah it's getting so close, I'm so excited! :) I can't wait to see you all! I'm enjoying all the Christmas lights around :) Downtown Modesto is in our area, and we've walked around a couple times at night, and yesterday there was no one on the streets, and it was kinda chilly and just really peaceful. Modesto isn't the most gorgeous place ever, but I love it so much! Last night we talked to a homeless guy with a sweet dog, and he was super nice to us. Then this taxi driver pulled up, ran up and gave him 5 bucks, and took off. It was pretty cool! Oh yah, the place we live is right behind the place that two other elders live.... Elder Griffin and Elder Carling! So we've had some (appropriate) parties the last week :) We got fed great on Thursday, then had another Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, so we're taken care of! I did miss you though!
I guess I had a little more to say, huh? :)  Hey thanks for the quotes! Those were awesome! Is that one from Katy, or another friend? Sorry, I didn't catch the clues :) And that's so cool that Makaeli got her patriarchal blessing! That has been a help to me on my mission, for sure! Thanks for all the updates, I wish I could respond to all of them! But I'm glad things are going well at home!

Well, I love you so much! Thank you so much for all you do for me! I'm looking forward to next week's updates :) I love you!!!! Thank you for everything!!! I miss you!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

This is me and Elder Lopiano and Pablo! He's Elder Griffin and Elder Carling's pet - he's also a cactus! They've tamed him pretty well... you can pet him if you're careful, but he bites sometimes! :) They love him, but we're not the biggest fan. We'll get to know him pretty well this transfer.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Week 67--And, After 7 1/2 Months, He's Transferred! (And, it's Thanksgiving this week too).

Well, after spending 7 1/2 months as an Assistant and serving in the Mission Office, Connor was transferred this week. Sounds like it was a little bit of a crazy week--with lots of uncertainty. But, in the end, he's back out into the field in a new area with a new companion. I will be looking forward to hearing all about it in his next email this coming P-day. I am just hoping they had a Thanksgiving dinner set up somewhere. He obviously hadn't had time to set anything up himself and didn't know anyone in his new area/ward. So, hopefully this Momma's prayers were answered and they had a nice dinner with someone. I am anxious to hear about that too. Guess it is time for a change and all that comes with it. 

Hi Mom!!!!!! :)

It's so good to hear from you!! :) I'm so glad you're recovering and doing better! That's crazy that Dr. Judd is retiring - that'll be a good opportunity for you to go bless more lives in a different place now!

So, I won't prolong it :) I am getting moved. I'll be going to Modesto 6th ward, serving with Elder Lopiano. He has been out around 6 months now. Dang it's been so emotionally draining! I now understand what Elder Griffin went through last transfer :) At first it seemed that I would be staying. Then things worked out to where I would be serving in Modesto 6th with another missionary. Then we came in one morning and President had changed me back to staying, and had moved Elder Eagar (that didn't make him too happy!), then we all three were together again, then a missionary that was maybe going to go home decided to stay and made the numbers odd again, so we moved some things around, and now I'm getting transferred! AH! So, that's that! I'll be a district leader, which I'm excited and very nervous for! I'll be serving in the ward with a set of Sisters that have been there one transfer. I'll be in the same stake and zone, so it's not too drastic of a change, but I won't have a car, and I'm gonna have to get used to everything. Fun stuff! :) I had been getting a little comfortable here, I think, so it's time for another change I guess! God cares more about our growth than our comfort, right?

So I'm pretty low on time. Thank you so much for the thoughts! I loved them all! :) One quick thought I had: I was thinking about how we obey God out of love. Then I thought about why that is - why does God feel our love when we obey? The first answer is that we're doing what He asks. But then I realized: everything God asks is for our joy. And He feels joy when we feel joy. So when we obey, we make God happy because we are happy. And that shows that we love Him, because we are seeking His work and glory. I hope that made sense :) Anyways, it just made me think about obedience in a slightly different perspective.

I love and miss you so much! Thank you for all you do for me! You're such an amazing blessing to me! I'll look forward to hearing from you next week. I love you!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Week 66--Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

Hi Mom!!!!! :)
It feels so good to be emailing you :) I'm glad your procedures are all finished up! I've been praying that you'll recover quickly and not have much pain; I hope things can get back to normal quickly! I don't know if the word is "worried", but things like this lead my brain to think how hard it would be to not have a mom, and it reminded me just how grateful I am for you and for the love that you've always given me! I'm sorry it's been a rough process :/

You'll have to send me pictures of Russel - and Matt! :) That's so exciting! He's fought the good fight for sure; it's been a big example to me to see someone that's shy like him go and preach the gospel for 2 years. I'm sure he blessed so many lives! Tell him hi for me please!

It looks like it was a fun week for everyone! They're all looking so old! I'm glad things went well with the dates. Yah, I'd love to see some pictures of Makaeli at her date! The pictures you send make my day :) I'm sure Ethan is enjoying the braces off - that was such a weird but amazing week for me!

So, the week here went quite well! Transfers are next week, so we have a busy one coming up with working on the transfer board and such. I always enjoy working on transfers, but it's so mentally exhausting. I've wondered a hundred times how President Palmer manages his busy schedule (or Dad with his bishoping schedule for that matter!). We had two 3-hour long meetings on Wednesday, and my brain was about to shrivel! I'm not sure what the plan is for me this next transfer, which is super disconcerting! My last 3 companions have known exactly when they'll be done, but President hasn't told me a thing! I even asked him and he avoided the question. So.... I guess I'll let you know next week! The thing is, I'm starting to get kinda comfortable here, so that's not a good sign :) Whatever happens, I know it'll be best for me. I had a great exchange with Elder Feltman this week. Dang he's a good missionary - one of the best in this mission. He taught me a ton! It was fun to be with him. We had a great lesson with Kevin and our ward mission leader on Friday; we talked about prophets and priesthood authority, then watched the Restoration movie. We've been getting fed super well the last few weeks, which has been a huge blessing! I love this ward a lot! The work continues to be pretty slow. Thank you for your prayers in my behalf! I've been praying as well that we'll be able to find new investigators. A lot of the ward is returned missionaries, so I think they understand, but it's a little embarrassing to get straight 0's week after week. I was talking to my companions about it last night; I really don't care if I'm supposed to teach or baptize anyone else for the rest of my mission, as long as that's what God's plan is for me here. My concern is that I feel like God's plan is for us to help people get baptized! While we could always be better, I feel like we're doing pretty well in our diligence and obedience, so I'm just kinda waiting for the success to start being seen. Witness after the trial of faith right? I do feel like I'm being the most obedient I've been on my mission, and that feels really good! I've been trying to weed out the small things, you know? Anyways, I hope that was an ok update! Sorry that got a little long :)

All that being said, I had a really cool experience on Wednesday. Backstory first: Elder Stock and I were on exchanges last transfer, and we talked to this really cool lady. We had been biking around, not having tons of success, but there was a man standing in his garage, so we went to talk to him. He wasn't interested, but there was a lady there as well, that had been hidden by a car in the driveway. We started talking to her, and she was super interested! She asked lots of good questions, and we even got to teach her a bit of the Restoration and Plan of Salvation. We passed her off to the Elders that cover that area. On Wednesday, the Elder in the area told me that she has a scheduled baptismal date! Apparently she had read James 1:5 a month before we talked to her, and had prayed for wisdom. She hadn't connected the dots until those Elders re-taught her the Restoration and mentioned that scripture. It was a really nice reminder to me that all of us do more good than we usually see.

So I learned something this week! I had talked to an elder that's super knowledgeable of the gospel, and for some reason it made me start wondering if I knew enough, etc. I was a little worried for a couple days, but on Saturday the Spirit fixed my problem :) We had a super good lesson about the Atonement with a member, and she bore a very humble but sincere testimony of her experience with the Atonement. And as she talked, I felt something that I later put into words: "The width of your knowledge is less important than the depth of your testimony." While knowledge is a Christlike attribute, I want to make sure I don't fall into the trap of just trying to understand unimportant things that won't strengthen my commitment to the Savior. I don't remember if I shared this, but last transfer, Elder Griffin and I had started talking about deep doctrine stuff, and he said something like, "It's important to make sure our desire to learn is never stronger than our desire to act." I thought that was pretty profound! Anyways, just a couple thoughts I had this week!

Well, I can't think of anything specific for Christmas... I'll let you know if anything comes to mind! Thank you :) Thanks for your thoughts on the Priesthood! I find myself not remembering enough that I hold that authority - I want to get better at exercising it more consistently. Thank you so much for the email! I'm looking forward to Christmas time! That'll be 3/4 of the way done with calls home! Crazy! :) Please stay safe and get better soon! You're always in my prayers. I love you so much! Until next week :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

"Dinner with our incredible senior couple, the Neilsons. They've been such a blessing! They're going home to Kaysville in a couple weeks, so they had us over to dinner!"

Week 65

Finally got a picture of Connor's facial hair--haha. Just one of the useless things I sent in his Halloween package. I am not sure he wanted it posted on here, but he will want it later, so I am putting it here anyway. Let's just say I hope he doesn't join the mustache trend when he returns home. I don't like mustaches on anyone--not even him. :)  (And, just for the record, I usually don't put anything on here that he asks me not to post--this one just had to be an exception.)

Elder Hopkin 
November 7, 2016

Here's the letter for this week.

Hi Mom!!!!!! :):):)

Well, I'm glad the kidney stone is out, and I'm sorry it's not been a fun process :/ You're still in my prayers! I'm very glad though that he was able to get it all done in one surgery! I love that hymn that you reminded me of, and I think it's a great reminder that the Atonement is there for every single trial and struggle we go through - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. "When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace all sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine." I'm so grateful for the 4th, 5th, and 7th verses as well! (And once I'm old, I'm sure the 6th verse will ring true :) ). That's one of my favorite hymns too, and I think part of the reason is because you like it and share it so much! Maybe it can be our hymn, unless you want to keep it for yourself :) Anyways, I hope the recovery goes better over the next week!

So I'm kind of freaking out that Makaeli has applied to college and Bryn is going on her first date. Can they just stop please? Time is moving so fast! I'm glad the week went well for them and that they had some great experiences! Youth conference was always such a great time!

My week here has been pretty exciting! Monday night, President and Sister Palmer had us over for a Halloween dinner, and we planned some upcoming meetings. It's such a blessing to get to be with them as much as do! Tuesday, we had an incredible mission leadership council from 9-12, then a new missionary meeting from 1-3. It was a busy day! On Thursday we went to pick up a couple of mid-transfer missionaries; one had been waiting in the Philippines for his visa, and the other had gone home for surgery and was reassigned to our mission (he had been serving in Guatemala, and he said the name Elder Hopkin sounded kind of familiar!). Both of them are incredible and will make big contributions to the mission! On Friday we did a service project assembling office furniture for a non-profit refugee program, which was lots of fun! We got to work with Elders Stock and Smith, and we got several desks and chairs assembled; the representative from the program was so nice and appreciative, and the project was a really great experience! Probably the highlight of the week was yesterday. There's a less-active man that's been coming back to church; Elders Elliott and Feltman started teaching him, then Elder Griffin and I came in, and we've continued teaching him with my new companions. He got up to bear his testimony yesterday and shared how he had had a dream several months ago that elders had stopped by his house and invited him back to church; he had accepted and became active in the church. That next day, his sister told him that some elders had biked past the house, but he missed them; a few minutes later though, they came back, and he called them over. They referred him to Elders Elliott and Feltman for YSA, and ever since he has started strengthening his testimony and coming back to church. He got pretty emotional as he bore his testimony of the Atonement and how much happier he is, now that he's back in church and living the gospel. It was the kind of stuff you read about, you know? It was pretty incredible!

I've been seeing more and more how much Heavenly Father is blessing me for being here. I get kind of impatient with my weaknesses sometimes, and I wish I was a lot better, but I've seen how he's helped me change and be better and love the people I'm around and the situation I'm in. It's been such a huge blessing so far!

I found something cool in Preach My Gospel yesterday that I thought I'd put. It's in the first lesson, The Restoration; to put it in context, it's the part that explains prophets and dispensations. I'm going to add numbers in. It says "By revelation, Adam learned of 1) Mankind's proper relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; 2) of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and 3) of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel." I thought about how beautiful just those basic truths are and how blessed we are to have a prophet that teaches those things today. That is the core of the gospel, the things we need to learn, live, and teach.

Something else that came to my mind: I've been using that awesome new hymnbook :) to study Hymn #221 - Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd. It has some amazing lines: "Dear to the heart of the Shepherd, dear are the lambs of His fold. Some from the pastures are straying, hungry and helpless and cold. See the Good Shepherd is seeking, seeking the lambs that are lost, bringing them in with rejoicing, saved at such infinite cost... Hark He is earnestly calling, tenderly pleading today, 'Will you not seek for my lost ones, off from my shelter astray?'... Lord, we will answer thee gladly, 'Yes, blessed Mater, we will! Make us thy true undershepherds; give us a love that is deep; send us out into the desert, after thy wandering sheep!'... Off to the rescue we'll hasten, bringing them back to the fold." Christ hastens to find and help us when we have wandered, and He asks us to do the same for others. I'm so grateful for the love that He has for each of us, and how often He shows it to us!

I'm realizing I sound pretty serious....and I forgot to tell you a funny story from a couple weeks ago. :) We were driving in the car, and Elder Eagar started laughing at something random, super hard, and his laugh was so weird and funny that me and Elder Grover started laughing super hard, which made Elder Eagar laugh harder... I had to pull over and we just sat there laughing for a straight 2 minutes for no was pretty weird... but a really good memory! :)

Anyways, sorry this was such a long email! I actually had some good time today! :) I hope and pray you'll get better soon! I love you so much! Thank you for the love and support and example you give me! You're such an incredible and loving Mom, and I'm so grateful for you! Thank you for loving and teaching me so much :) Have a wonderful week! I miss and love you!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Week 64--Halloween 2016

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

I LOVE those pictures! You look 100% horrific! :) That's too good of an idea! I showed some of the missionaries here and they thought it was so funny and were glad you didn't get shot :) Also, let Makaeli know she looks adequately hideous! I loved all of those costumes - good stuff! I'm dressing up today in the Halloween tie you sent me last year, so that's been fun! I don't have the chance right now to send a picture with my new tie, or the mustache, but I'll try to get them to you next week! :) That date night with Dad sounds fun! I'm guessing you didn't kiss him for another 24 hours afterwards right? I'm glad things are looking pretty good with the kidney stone! You've been in my prayers, and I also fasted for you... I hope that goes well and that you only have to do one round! It sounds like church was amazing yesterday! That's always nice! Brother Jenkins is awesome! Those are some super cool thoughts (and explained very well :) )! I'll definitely be keeping that in mind. I especially like how he said that our own thoughts typically lead us to do good as well - I've never thought about that before. Thanks for sharing that with me!

Hm... this week.... Well, I got to play basketball last Monday, for the first time in months! That felt super good :) I went on exchanges with a zone leader and had a great time with him. President took us to dinner, and then went with us to teach Kevin. Kevin is one of those people whose answers are always perfect. You'd almost think they were rehearsed, or that he was saying them to please us... but he's completely sincere about them! It was a great lesson. President mentioned something about how his being baptized was a way that he followed the Savior's example of obedience, and Kevin said "Yah, it felt good! It felt kinda like I was making my parents proud!" and I thought that was so profound! The next day, as I and the zone leader were finishing up exchanges, we were going to drive to In-N-Out and grab some lunch; we passed by a burger joint that a member has taken us to a couple times and is owned by really cool guy that loves talking about religion. I had a weird prompting to go there instead, which I blew off for a while, but finally listened to. So we had lunch, and got the chance to talk to him for a while (he likes talking more than listening, but hopefully we're slowly helping to soften his heart) and then he paid for our lunch! Kinda small and random, but it was a really cool experience for me! We didn't have a whole lot of fun stuff going on this week for Halloween, which I'm honestly not too worried about - this holiday takes way too much creativity :) Another cool experience was on Friday night - we were teaching this less active member outside her apartment, about the Atonement, and the Spirit was really strong. Our member team-up, who is a returning less active member himself, shared some really cool insights! And during the lesson, I just felt as if the outside world wasn't even there - we were just in this little bubble with the Spirit so strong, and it helped me remember the comforting power of the Holy Ghost and the gospel. Again, kind of a random experience, but it was great!

I had a thought the other day that I'll share! It might be pretty obvious, but it just clicked in my mind a couple days ago. I was reading and studying about the Restoration, and I started thinking about how crazy it is that a 14 year old boy was called as the prophet of this dispensation. I was thinking to myself "Can we really trust a 14 year old?". But I realized just how incredible and miraculous it is that he was so young! What man would continue a lie that he had thought up when he was barely a teenager - even down to his death? What boy is genius enough to start such an intricate and perfect lie when he's just 14 - a lie that would convince 16 million people (and counting) and perfectly complete the history of God's dealings with His children? I feel safe assuming that the smartest person in the world right now couldn't do such things. And that really strengthened my testimony of the Restoration. I feel like I keep hearing so many "concerns" and "problems" that, when looked at in a different perspective, end up showing just how amazing and beautiful this restored gospel is.

Anyways, thank you SO much for the package!!!! That was so perfect! I've already used my dictionary 10 times, and I was so excited for that hymnbook!! Elder Grover and Elder Eagar want me to say thank you for their baskets - they're really enjoying them :) We got our month's money today and went shopping, so with that plus your package, I now have food to last for weeks! :) Thank you!!!!

Well, another week past! Elder Grover and I are enjoying counting our time together - it's fun to be in the same situation as he is. And Elder Eagar isn't too far ahead of us :) Thank you so much for the constant prayers and support and love. I'll continue praying for you; I hope things go well with everything! Thank you for being such an incredible mother! You're such a strength and example to me! I love and miss you so much!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Got this picture from Sister Palmer of the Elders on Halloween. Where is Elder Grover's glow stick tie? 

Elder Grover, Elder Hopkin, Elder Eager
October 31, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 63

Hi Mom!!!!!!! :)

Well I don't think my week was anywhere near as eventful as yours! That's crazy! I'm glad things are going well, but I'll definitely be keeping that in my prayers! And giving a sacrament meeting talk through all that? Dang! Proof you're as strong as you seem :) Yah....15 months! It's starting to get real. Here's a little perspective: if President's trend holds, Elder Eagar will be an assistant for two transfers after this, then he'll train for two transfers and go home, then I'll be in the mission for two more transfers, then go home. Another crazy thing: The sister that came in with me leaves in two transfers after this! Elder Griffin takes off in one after this....AH! Anyways, I'll stop thinking about that! I still have a full-length pregnancy to go, and you know more than I that that's a lifetime :)

I'm still enjoying my companions a ton! We're getting to know each other better, so we teach in more unity, and we get along super well (mostly because of them to be honest). Elder Grover is from Wyoming, Elder Eagar is from Arizona, and Elder Griffin is from Colorado. All close enough :)

AHHH I wish I was there for your talk! That's too bad you got cut short. Dad said your talk was the highlight of the meeting, which doesn't surprise me :) It sounds like it was fantastic! I've definitely been striving to develop more charity myself. As soon as I feel I'm figuring it out, I realize I'm completely uncharitable in another aspect. Life-long process, right? :) Funny story: our first counselor called us 3 into a side room and asked us all to give talks next month. He said "Well, on the 13th the topic is Parables; on the 20th the topic is Faith; on the 27th the topic is choose! And before I knew it, Elder Eagar had taken gratitude and Elder Grover had taken faith, and I'm stuck trying to come up with a talk about parables! What?! That'll be fun I guess.

Thank you so much for putting together a package for me. You don't know how much I love those! I'll be looking forward to it! Thank you!! :) And I'm excited for the party pictures! Come on, you couldn't tell me? Who am I gonna tell? ;) I guess I'll have to wait till next week........... :)

Um, as far as updates go.....we had to drop a couple investigators. So we're down to approximately 0! The missionaries in the area have been sending us tons of referrals, so hopefully we'll be able to find some more people that are willing to listen. We went on exchanges with our district leader and his companion. Elder Smith came with me and Elder Eagar into our area, and it was a blast. He's a super impressive new missionary - I was very surprised! He knows the scriptures very well, and every time he taught or testified, the Spirit was present. It was pretty cool! I realized that I trained Elder Jones, who trained Elder Stock, who's training Elder Smith. So I have a little connection to him :) We went to a zone breakfast on Saturday at a high council member's home, and I got to play some ping-pong with Elder Eagar! Other than that I don't think too much happened...sorry for the boring update! For studies this week though, I read through the chapter headings of the Book of Mormon, which was super cool! I was trying to get a better feel for where everything is, but I was able to also notice some trends of the Book of Mormon. First, and obviously, I noticed just how much the Book points to Christ and to joy and happiness through Him. I also noticed the overall theme that God ALWAYS supports and blesses those who keep the commandments, but those that fail to do so don't receive those blessings. It was a cool study!

Thank you so much for your compliments and your thoughts and your updates! I love it so much, and it means so much to me! You're such an indescribable blessing in my life. Thank you for everything you do for me! I love you so much! I know God loves you and is so thankful for and so proud of the ways you bless people's lives and show your love to Him. You're always in my prayers, and I'll be sure to add your predicament this week :) Good luck with everything! I love you!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Also, this week I sent a package to Connor and his companions for Halloween. It was fun to put together. He had asked for a small hymnal and a pocket-sized dictionary and a bunch of snack foods he could take with him on the go. He also wanted a "little bit" of Halloween candy. So, I complied and also sent a couple of other things just for fun. It is times like these that I am glad he is in California--it ended up being pretty heavy, but only cost me $20 to send it. Took some pictures for the memory books. They should've received it at the end of the week (another perk of being so close to home). Hope they enjoyed it!

The final product just before sealing it up and mailing it off. Looks festive!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Week 62

Hello Mom!!!! :)

It's so good to hear from you!! I love the updates as always, and I love hearing your voice (reading your words) :) Thank you for your thoughts from church, and Zach's talk! Your thoughts on covenants reminded me of something a girl said in church a while ago. We were counselling about covenants, and she made the point that the fact that God makes covenants with us shows that He trusts us. He wouldn't ask us to promise something if He didn't think we could follow through. And, He is there to help us when we can't keep them on our own. I loved what you said about how they help us to connect to Him, and how they bring us so many countless blessings!

This week has been lots of fun! I'm loving my new companions! It's a little hard to get to know them both as much as I had my last companions, because there are three of us, but I think I'll come closer to these two in this situation than I could anyone else. They're fantastic! We had some fun times finishing up transfers together. Elder Maxwell went home last week, so I got to spend some time talking to him the night before. Elder Griffin is doing well in his threesome as well! Yesterday it rained super hard, and we were in a car because we had a pretty long drive to make. As we were driving through Modesto, we saw Elder Griffin and his two companions biking in the crazy rain, and rolled down the window to say hi, and Elder Griffin yelled "You lucky punks!!... I love you! Have a great day!" :) Pretty typical for him! On Friday, we did a service project out on a farm, baling hay; it was a pretty new experience for me, but it was lots of fun!! We had a great lesson with Kevin this week; he's doing phenomenal! So....I guess that's my update!

Ah, I wish I could be there for your talk!! You bear such sincere and humble testimony, and it brings the Spirit so strong! You might not think you're dynamic, but from what I remember of your talks and testimonies, they're always very powerful, because you share what's in your heart. I'll keep you in my prayers as you're preparing for that, and I'll look forward to hearing all about it :) As far as my thoughts go.... Hm. Well, I was actually thinking about sending out a group email today, kind of along those lines, so I guess I'll make sure that happens this week! I have noticed as I've studied, that charity is key and central to our becoming like Christ, and receiving salvation someday. In Moroni 7:48, it says "Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love....that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." From that scripture, I think to truly see Christ and know who He is, we need to understand Him by becoming like Him - through charity. Our baptismal covenant includes that we will mourn with those that mourn and show love and charity to those that need it; and as we keep that covenant, we are cleansed and purified. So as we demonstrate charity, we receive remission of sins, and then receive eternal life. Also from that scripture, I've learned that charity is a gift from God. We can only develop it by trying our best, and then relying on God to change our hearts (as you've taught me) to become more charitable. Just a couple thoughts - I hope they make sense :)

Oh, I just remembered! If you haven't already sent a package or anything, could you include a little dictionary in there? Just one I can keep at my desk? President Palmer is big into understanding what words mean, and I really like it! So it's nice to have one on hand. If that's inconvenient, Elder Griffin said I could have his when he goes home, so no worries!

Well, thank you so much for the wonderful email, again! I'm so blessed to be your son! Thank you for the love you always show me! I'm so grateful for you! I hope your week goes great - good luck with the talk next week! I love and miss you so much!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Oh! Just a fun little update! Last transfer, Elder Jones was my district leader, and he was in his second transfer training a new missionary, Elder Stock. This transfer, Elder Jones is a zone leader with Elder Feltman, and Elder Stock is now a trainer, and my district leader - and he's only been out 3 months! Fun stuff :) Love you! :)

I also am posting the group letter that he sent this week for those who are not on that email list. It was a great one, I think!

Hi everyone! Transfer week just ended, so I wanted to send an update and a quick thought! My previous companion, Elder Griffin, got moved back to Spanish work; he's in a companionship with another Elder that's been out for a little bit, and he's also training a great new missionary. I got two new great companions this transfer - Elder Grover and Elder Eagar. Elder Grover came out with me, and I've always wanted to be his companion; he's been a really good friend of mine for a while now. Elder Eagar has been out about a year and a half; he's a Spanish missionary, but there was an odd number of missionaries this transfer, so he's with us in English work! He's a super nice and humble Elder - I'm really excited to work with both of them! We're still in the YSA ward here, which I'm continuing to really enjoy! I've made some great friends there, and I've taught some incredible people!

Lately, I've been loving hymn #230 - Scatter Sunshine. The first and second verses especially have taught me a lot:
"In a world where sorrow ever will be known, Where are found the needy and the sad and lone,
How much joy and comfort you can all bestow, If you scatter sunshine everywhere you go.
Scatter sunshine all along your way. Cheer and bless and brighten every passing day.
Slightest actions often meet the sorest needs, For the world wants daily little kindly deeds.
Oh, what care and sorrow you may help remove With your songs of courage, sympathy, and love.
Scatter sunshine all along your way. Cheer and bless and brighten every passing day."

Several months ago, one of my zone leaders really blessed my life by teaching me to look for every opportunity to bless and lift those around me. He set such an incredible example of always loving others and being a light and a support to each of the missionaries he was around. He went out of his way to turn outwards and serve others. As I've tried to follow his example, I've found myself be more happy and content with the blessings I have. I'm still working on it, but I've felt more and more charity and love for others as I've done so. My mission president has repeatedly reminded us all of Doctrine and Covenants 108:7, which says, "Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings." We have promised to bear one another's burdens, and mourn with those that mourn, and we can do that by looking for those that are struggling and need help, and lifting them up. As I thought about this hymn, I realized that sunshine can symbolize the light and love that our Savior gives us and all of God's children. He loves each one of us perfectly, and He tends to use us to help others feel of that love. We can be instruments in His hands to do what He would if He were here. And when we strengthen or support another, we really are serving Him, the one that sacrifice all for us. Our "slightest actions" of encouraging words, sincerely listening, or other acts of service can truly make the biggest difference in the lives of those that are going through trials. I know as we turn outward, our Heavenly Father blesses us more than we ever could receive if we were putting our efforts towards ourselves.

Thank you all for the little and big acts of service that you have given to me and my family! It has made a bigger difference than you know. Thank you for your support and love! I love you all!

Elder Hopkin

Week 61--Transfers, But Staying Put

Here is Connor's letter for the week. Elder Griffin was transferred back to the field and Connor got two new Assistant companions. Although I think he will really miss Elder Griffin, he is excited to work with the new companions that are coming in. I am sure it helps a little that he gets to participate in choosing who his new companions will be, along with the Mission President--and the guidance of the Spirit, of course. :)

Hi Mom!!! :)

Ahh it sounds like so much good stuff is going on back home! I loved reading those updates! I'm SO happy for Makaeli! And I'm so glad Bryn's birthday party was such a great experience - that's so crazy she'll be 16 now! Dang!! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with Tim and Jen. I loved how you said that you felt peace and confidence, just knowing in your heart that this is true! That's such a good feeling! Usually I'm able to feel that confidence, and just have no reservations about sharing the gospel; I'm still strengthening my testimony though, and every once in a while I doubt just a tiny bit. It feels so good though, to tell people "I know that this is true and will bless your life". I feel like I'm getting to the point where I can truly say that. I've had so so many experiences that have basically proven to me how true this church is; my testimony wall, built out of experience bricks, is getting taller and thicker :) That's so incredible that you got to share your testimony with them, and that's so exciting that Jen will hopefully read the Book of Mormon! :)

So I'm low on time - it's been a little crazy today. A good crazy though! We did transfer calls last night, and picked up the new missionaries this morning. I like them a lot :) Elder Griffin will be serving in Modesto with a couple other companions, and I'm getting two new companions as well! Elder Grover (I might have mentioned him here and there - he came out with me; I've always wanted to be his companion) and Elder Eagar (who has to be one of the most humble and kind people ever). So I'm pretty excited. I don't know if anything can beat Elder Griffin, but they're a pretty great replacement :) We'll keep serving in the YSA ward here. So it should be fun! :)

I've really seen recently how much God listens to us and answers our prayers. I've asked him for lots of blessings and asked Him lots of questions recently, and my testimony of prayer and fasting and revelation has been strengthened so much. He really is there for us in good and bad times. He allows trials to come our way so we can learn and draw closer to Him. No matter what, everything He does is solely for our eternal happiness. I've been seeing that a lot! :)

Thanks again for the updates and the email and the uplifting thoughts! These emails make my day - it's always so good to hear from you! I love you so so so much, and I'm so grateful for you! Please stay safe, and be happy - for me :) I look forward to hearing from you again! You're my favorite :) I LOVE YOU!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Also got two photos this week from Sister Palmer. So good to see him with his new companions.

 Elder Hopkin, Sister Palmer, Elder Grover, President Palmer, Elder Eager
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breakfast at Black Bear Diner, Modesto, California
Elder Grover, Elder Hopkin, Elder Eager
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 60--14 Months Down...10 MonthsTo Go...

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Thank you so so much for the prayers and service you gave for Kevin - that means a lot to me, and I'll let him know! I'm sure he'll be very appreciative! And thank you for continuing to pray for those I've taught in the past! We were able to talk to Kevin a little bit after conference, and he told us all these things that he learned and how much he enjoyed it - it was super cool. That sounds like it was a super fun weekend for you all - I'm just a tiny jealous :) Thanks for the pictures though - it's good to see Tim and Jen, if only through that. Can you tell them hi for me, and also thank them for the blessing they've been in my life, please? Thanks :) I hope the rest of your week with them continues to be a blast!

That is crazy that Makaeli's a senior, and starting all this new stuff - ah! I don't know if it helps at all, and I know you know this, but you don't stop being our Mom after we leave :) You've continued to bless and help me here in ways I can't even describe. And I'm sincerely so grateful that I have a mom that has taught me all that she needed to enable me to make good decisions, and that she continues to do so. I hope I can show you by the choices I make how much I appreciate the lessons and love you've shown me. That talk by Elder Nattress reminded me of you; I hope I wasn't ever as snotty as he was :) but it reminded me of your dedication and commitment to always teach and love us whether we listened or not; and no matter what, it has made and still makes a huge difference. :) Anyways, I hope Makaeli's game goes well - I'll make sure to pray for her! I don't know if I'd be happier about her winning or about Mountain View losing :) this week, we watched General Conference. We went out to Oakland to pick up a mid-transfer missionary that had been waiting for his visa in Europe - he's a super cool Elder!! We had a super good mission leadership council - one of the most powerful meetings I've been in on my mission! I also got to go on exchanges with Elder Elliott, my MTC companion! Lots of fun! Um...other than that, not a whole lot happened this week! To make up for the lack of events, I'll tell you Elder Griffin's and my new inside joke :) He's been telling me what to do before I even do it, when he knows that I have to anyways - it's so degrading! :) For example, the light will turn red, and he'll say (in a humiliatingly off-hand and authoritative way) "Stop the car." And I have to stop! I'll be about to walk inside the house, and right as I touch the handle, he'll say "Open the door." However, I got him back really good! He HATES Christmas music cause it makes him homesick and he always changes it when a Christmas song comes on. So I turned on Joy to the World and said "Change the song." And he had to :)

As far as transfers go this week, I'm probably staying. Elder Griffin has just two transfers left, and President wants him to train. So I probably get at least another transfer here! I'll send the more accurate update next week :)

General Conference was SO good!! I'm gonna have a hard time consolidating my thoughts, but I loved Elder Ballard's talk! I've been pondering along that same topic, and he put everything I've been thinking about into words. I loved how he quoted you: "Things tend to work themselves out" :) But I've started to understand what he said about how sometimes it needs to be enough to just believe and trust, and not know for sure. Whenever I feel that my testimony is slacking a little, I think to myself, "Where else would I go? Haven't I seen so many evidences already? Where else will I find the joy I have here?" So I really appreciated his. I missed some of President Nelson's, but I loved how he taught that we can find joy because of what's in our hearts rather than what our situation is. President Palmer likes to say that we have agency, so we are able to choose our emotions. No one can make us feel anything. I've had a couple nights recently where I'm in a bad mood, and with lots of effort, I've tried to count my blessings and see things with more optimism - and it works! I also loved the emphasis on coming to Christ and truly knowing him, and on the Spirit-bringing actions of prayer and reading the Book of Mormon. And, like I already told you, I loved Elder Nattress's talk - I felt that he was just pouring his soul out to everyone, and it brought the Spirit.

So, I was thinking about your question about the package... I loved that package you sent in my first transfer with the granola bars and trail mix, etc. That kind of snack food is perfect! So, whenever your next one is, I would love a little snack food. And, a litttttle bit of candy never hurts :) But really whatever you want!! I appreciate them no matter what!!

Well, thank you so much for everything you do for me! I love you so much! And I miss you too :) THANK YOU for being such an incredible mother. Thanks for your prayers and your support! I love you!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 59

I got these four pictures from Sister Palmer today on my email. Looks like they went to Yosemite for P-Day, and it looks like this is a place that I need to visit at some point.

Elder Hopkin and Elder Griffin
Yosemite National Park
Monday, September 26, 2016

And, here is Connor's letter and a few more pictures that he sent. Love hearing from him and seeing his face.

Hi Mom!!!!!!!! :) I think I've said that 59 times!

So I'll start with updates. Kevin got baptized!!!! :) It was literally a miracle to watch the whole process. As you may remember, he used to be so sick that he couldn't walk. Some missionaries (one of whom I served around for a while) found him about two years ago, and worked with him for a while. He wasn't quite ready to be baptized yet, and went on and off for a couple years, until Elders Elliott and Feltman found him again when they served in this area. We came in a couple months ago and started teaching him, and just weren't sure if it was possible for him to make it to church, be baptized, etc. But a while ago, his strength started returning, and we committed him to be baptized on October 1st. Because of General Conference though, he would have had to be confirmed a week later, so we brought it up to him and he decided to change it to September 24th! Even more incredible than his physical progression was the miracle of his conversion. His testimony became stronger and stronger, and he has expressed to us how this church just fills him with an indescribable joy. It's been such an incredible blessing to be his friend and teach him more of the gospel!

So that was pretty good :) Let's see....this week we went on exchanges with a couple of really cool zone leaders! We went to Yosemite today, which was a blast!! We had a trainer/new missionary meeting...there are about 60 missionaries that are either in their first two transfers, or are training - almost half the mission! So that was an intense meeting :) Oh, and a kid from one of my old wards, that I got to know pretty well, is serving here as a missionary for two weeks in preparation for his mission, so I was able to see him and talk to him for a little! And...I think that's all!

Thank you for the thoughts from President Uchtdorf! I'll have to check that out! I really like what he said about making sure that we're faithfully doing His will, not "faithfully" trying to conform His will to ours. Also how faith comes to the humble, the diligent, and the enduring...I need to work on some of those :) I also love what you said how it helps us get through our challenges when we have nothing else to help. Our belief and trust in His love and power allows us to have hope that no matter what, He will help things to work out for our gain.

Thank you so much for your email!!! I love them always!! I gotta go, but I love you so much, and I always appreciate all of the love and support you give me! I pray for you all the time as well, and I appreciate your prayers so much! I love you!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

 Kevin's baptism!!!!!! :) Me, Elder Griffin, KEVIN, Jacob (our ward mission leader), Elder Elliott, Elder Feltman

Me at Yosemite!

Kevin's boa constrictor....I thought you'd like this one ;)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 58

Hi Mom!!!!!!! :)

It's so good to hear from you!!! Thank you for your thoughts on charity - those were very profound. I wrote in my study journal that part about how charity is the Atonement and our acceptance and application of it. I'm gonna have to ponder that one... thanks for that! And I'll make sure to read Moroni 7 soon :) I know, Christmas is coming up soon huh?? I realized how perfect the timing is for our phone calls home - my first was about 4 months into my mission, and my last will be about 3 months before I come home. I'm already excited for our next one :) The weather has been getting pretty nice. It's a little up and down right now, but it should be getting pretty good soon. I'll be thinking about a always send perfect stuff anyways....but I'll let you know if I think of anything! That is SO COOL about Tim and Jen coming up!!! Let me know how that goes! That's going to be such an incredible opportunity for them to feel the Spirit, and it will open so many chances for you guys to share your testimony. They would be such good Mormons :)

Let's see. We've had several lessons with our investigator, Kevin. He's progressing really well; it's been amazing to see the change in him recently. He was always such a good guy and wanted to do what's right, but he's become even more willing to listen and learn and act. He came to church and I realized I wasn't even worried if someone said something weird (which I tend to worry about) because he's so good. It's been fun to teach him because he's very smart and soaks things in pretty quick, so we go a little deeper with him than we typically would with others. We also found another investigator this week, a super cool girl that grew up Catholic and now relates more with Buddhism and now is very open to read the Book of Mormon and learn about the gospel! :) We had a couple of zone conferences this week, which are always fun opportunities to see other missionaries. President Palmer talked about how we as a missionary, as a companionship, and as a mission, need to have high love and high expectations - low measures of either or both of those attributes don't suffice. So I'm trying to love more and have higher expectations for myself and the Lord's work in this area. I got to go on exchanges with one of the Lodi zone leaders this week, which was lots of fun - he's very humble and loving and a super good teacher! Oh, this morning I figured the computers would be full for a while, so I brought my piano music with me and played for about an hour while Elder Griffin wrote letters - ah it felt so good! I started remembering how good it feels to just sit down and play for a couple hours. I get the chance to play here and there for meetings, but never real music like those books have. I also hopped on the organ for the first time in forever and that was fun too! So it's been a pretty good day! :)

Someone said something really cool about listening at church yesterday: "Don't listen to respond; listen to understand." So many times I listen just so I know what I should say next so I'm not overly awkward :) But when we really listen to someone, and strive to understand them in love, I think the Spirit helps us understand them better. And the Savior showed us by His perfect example that when we truly understand someone, we truly love them. So I'm going to try to be better at really loving people and genuinely listening to them so I can love them more.

Thank you SO much for everything!! I love you so much, and appreciate all you do more than you know. We had a lesson in church about the family and I remembered how well you exemplify being the mother that the Lord wants you to be. I miss you lots but I love getting your emails, and I'll talk to you in a few months :):) I hope you have a really good week, and I'll be looking forward to hearing from you next week! I LOVE YOU!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 57--Follow The Promptings Of The Spirit

Hi Mom!!! :)

Thank you for your email! That talk is so good, and I had forgotten about it! Haha I can imagine typing that up on a phone...thank you for your dedication :) That was a good reminder for me! Sounds like a super fun week!! Dang, I wish I could have been there! I was in Spirit though I guess... Yah you'll have to send me some pictures, I'm dying to see them! I'm so glad they're so happy! Sounds like I prepared her well for that honeymoon trip huh? I've been the guinea pig from day 1...that was sneaky of her :) Hailey's getting married?? What?! That's so weird! That's fun Bryn got to go. Looks like Ethan and Makaeli had good weeks too...I'm glad her team is doing a bit better! The win streak will start soon :)

We had a pretty good week! A couple lessons with our investigator Kevin - he's doing well! If you could keep him in your prayers, that would be wonderful! He's such a good guy; his biggest desire is to follow Christ and make the right decisions. The biggest thing has just been helping him find that this is the only true way to draw closer to the Savior. Plus...he has a huge boa constrictor - my kind of guy :) I got to go on exchanges with Elder Stock and Elder Anderson (both in the picture above). Elder Stock is such a stinking well-prepared missionary - he's been out 8 weeks and is so solid! And Elder Anderson was in my MTC district, so it was a blast to spend a day with him! Elder Griffin and I got some good-looking haircuts from our friend in the YSA ward today :) We've got a zone conference coming up this week, so we've been pretty busy organizing that. Speaking of, we're leading a training on following the Spirit, which leads to my thought:

I've missed sooooo many spiritual promptings on my mission, it's sad...I hate to think of the people I missed because I wasn't paying attention or was too prideful to listen to the Spirit. The other day with Elder Stock though, we had a cool experience following promptings. We were biking down a major street, and I had the thought to turn right onto a residential street and see what we could find. I fought it pretty hard for a little, then asked Elder Stock if we could turn around. We went down the street and found a guy watering his lawn.....very uninterested. We felt like we should knock a door, and the woman told us to come back later that night! We did...and she wasn't interested :) But! We knocked another house and while she was quieting her dogs, I had the thought to bring up family history. As a mission, we're trying to use that finding technique a little more frequently, so I thought I'd try it out. I asked her if she'd be interested, and she told us that she got stuck on her family line years ago and had given up, but she's been ordering materials and records recently. She said she was very interested in trying our Church's resources, and maybe even her husband would be! We're hoping she'll be able to come in soon! That story was a little anticlimactic, I know....but! It was amazing to see how the Spirit put thoughts in our minds that helped lead us to people that we were able to hopefully provide a good touchpoint for. He knows exactly where they are and what they need, and it's our job to ask Him and follow Him when He directs. I'm really trying to be better at it. I've learned that as we pray and do the things in our lives that will invite the Spirit, He has been promised to us to help us with our own personal trials and with our efforts to bless the lives of others. I'm so grateful for that gift that Heavenly Father has given each one of us!

Quick favor: next time you send a package (please don't worry about sending one just for this) could you please buy and include a personal hymnbook? I have one in my house now, but I won't have it when I leave, and it's a pretty big tool in this mission! You could maybe just draw some money from my account, or I'd even love that to be like a Christmas present if you want...however you want to do it! Thank you :)

I hope you have an incredible week! Thank you so much you do for me!!!! I miss you, and I always look forward to your emails - they make my day :) I love you so much!!! I hope you have a great week!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Me with my wedding tie on September 8th - and a couple missionaries! :) Elders Stock, Jones, me, Anderson, Sandstrom! They're the best!

Menchie's run a couple weeks ago, the night before they took off for home! Super good missionaries in that group!

Week 56

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Thank you so much for the email! It means a lot to me that you email me so much; it's given me so much support and help over the last 13 months! I'm so glad Makaeli's games went well...I hope they're able to keep that going!! And that's exciting for Dad! It's kinda hard to imagine them not keeping him huh? :) Keep me updated on Cooper! I'll be anxious to hear where he's going! And I haven't even worn the tie yet - I decided I'd keep it special for that day. Ahh that's so exciting! It'll be fun to meet and get to know him when I get back. They could have a kid by that time huh?? :)

Well, we didn't have much of a preparation day again :) There was a Sister coming from Mexico waiting for her visa, so we went out to pick her up. We have permission to email a little late, but I should probably keep it pretty short... I don't really even remember what happened this week! On Wednesday we sent out the departing missionaries, including Elder weird! Elder Maxwell and Elder Roudabush go home this transfer too, and I'll probably still be around for that! The travel plans for one of the elders going home got messed up, so we had to make a last-minute trip to San Fransisco to drop him off - it was SO cool!! :) Let's see....we taught Kevin several times this week, and he came down to Modesto for church! Super exciting! He's becoming a really good friend of mine and Elder Griffin's. Speaking of Elder Griffin, I'm so blessed to have him as a companion! He's so good :)

Oh, I forgot to tell you! Elder Jones (my previous companion) is our district leader!!! We had a super good district meeting on Thursday about faith. We're going on exchanges with him and his companion this week, which will be lots of fun! Our ward here is warming up to us more and more, I think. We're starting to make good friends with several of them. They're all so friendly and teachable and willing to help with missionary work - it's been so much fun serving here!

Quick thought: Yesterday in church, our awesome ward mission leader was teaching the gospel principles class, and the promise of the Book of Mormon came up. He asked Kevin, who was there, "What would you think if the missionaries said 'Here's the Book of Mormon - it's true, because my parents said it was!'" and Kevin was like, "Uh....I wouldn't be sitting here" :) Then our teacher said "But what happens when they say 'I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is true?'" and Kevin said, "I don't can just feel it!". It really helped me realize that when we bear testimony from our heart and from our own personal experience, the Spirit really does bear witness. I sometimes doubt that, because I'm not always on a spiritual high during lessons. But the Lord has promised that when any of us bear testimony, the Spirit will confirm our words. Also, I know that people truly can read the Book of Mormon and receive that witness from the Spirit that it is the word of God. The Book of Mormon has blessed my life and strengthened my testimony in so many ways!

Well, thanks again for everything you do for me! I love you so much! I hope you always remember and recognize just how incredible you are. I'm so blessed to have you as my Mom! I love you SO much!!!! Have a fantastic week! You're always in my prayers! You're the best :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :):)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 55--13 Months!! is 13 months since I have last seen my boy! It's crazy that we are already one full month into the 2nd year! He is doing great and sent a lot of pictures this week. Lots of changes in the Mission, but Elder Hopkin and Elder Griffin are staying put. Here is his letter and the pictures.

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

13 months! Ah that's so crazy! This month has flown by like crazy! Every transfer is a bit faster than the last. Thanks for understanding my short email needs :) It was a blast last week but those kinds of trips always make Mondays a little crazy! This Monday has been pretty exciting too, as usual. 14 new missionaries here - they're super great! I'm really excited for them this transfer!

So this week.... Lots of transfer stuff to take care of! It's been fun to kinda develop my administration skills though....I've improved them from about a 0.0 to a 0.5 on a scale of 10 :) We had a great lesson with our investigator that has a baptismal date. He's still trying to accept some doctrine, but he just wants so bad to do what's right and follow Christ. It's been a miracle seeing him gaining strength. He was able to come to church last week! He lives about 30 minutes away from the YSA building though, so some super nice Elders found a ride for him to the church in the city he lives in, since he wasn't feeling well enough to come all the way to Modesto. A couple weeks ago, while I was on exchanges with Elder Stewart, I had a pretty strong prompting to talk to this one girl, and she seemed pretty interested. I left her to the 6th ward elders, but they decided she'd be best with YSA, so we'll hopefully get to teach her soon! Her name is Heaven....I'm pretty excited :)

I've continued to learn a lot about testimonies this week. President Palmer sent out a weekly email about how we need to continue to believe until we know. He talked about how a lot of us want and kinda expect a continuous spiritual high, but the reality is that sometimes our testimonies will be stronger than others. He said that Heavenly Father loves us too much to let that happen, but that He allows trials of testimony to enter our lives. It reminded me of Ether 12:27. I've come to understand another perspective of that verse: not only does Heavenly Father make our weak things become strong, but our weaknesses of themselves make us strong. They humble us, and it's when we are truly humble and rely on the Lord that He makes up the difference in a way that we never could have, even if we had no weakness. So when the trials of our testimony come, they're there to keep us humble, and to show us that the witness always comes after the trial of our faith. Our testimonies are that much stronger if we can just hold on and believe until we truly know. I've seen over the last couple weeks how true that is. After a week of slightly weakened testimony, I started receiving witness after witness that reaffirmed that God is there and that this is His true church.

I'm looking forward to this next transfer. All of the zone leaders stayed the same, which I'm so happy about! I'm still with Elder Griffin, the perfect companion ;) And I'm really liking the YSA more and more!

Oh, real quick! In a meeting, President reminded all of us to make sure that we maintain privacy on the Internet, just to avoid any kind of bad situation. So I just wanted ask, if you ever notice anything that would give away any confidential or personal information, to not put it on the blog (if you're still updating it). I try to be pretty careful with my emails, but a double filter wouldn't hurt :) Thank you!!! :)

Thank you for your thoughts about the Tree of Life - those are some super good self-reflecting questions! Haha you almost remind me of Alma in Alma 5! ;) Thanks for the updates too, and the compliments! You're definitely the BEST Mom ever - I'm so grateful for you! You bless my life SO much! I really appreciate all of your hard work and love, so much! I love you!!!! I'll look forward to next week :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Alright, lots this week!
1) Elder Griffin's idea....taken at 10:50 after doing transfer calls... :)
2) Pizza with chocolate filled crust at a member's house. Way better than you'd think!
3) Our district! Sisters Guilott and Rugg, me, Elders Griffin, Stewart, Petersen (the district leader)
4) ......
5) At Big Trees. Elder Griffin has his serious face down! He couldn't stop laughing though so this is a pretty good shot!
6) The group standing on a tree stump - they're that big! Sisters Arevalo, Webb, Dayton, Alcaraz, Martinez, Curtis, me and Elder Griffin :)

 This is Porter, a YSA that went out with us for a night - super cool guy! He's off to BYU so maybe you'll see him around :)