Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week 21--Starting 2016--Hit The 5-Month Mark

In the area where Connor is serving, there is a member who keeps in pretty good touch with me by sending random texts of pictures with Connor and his companion at the food court. My guess is that they treat the missionaries with a meal out every month. I received another one of those texts on Saturday, January 2--right around dinner time. I love them every time!

Saturday, January 2, 2016  Tracy, California

I love the glass of chocolate milk and the empty salad plate. Looks like they had a great dinner. 

This week marks 5 months of Connor being on his mission. I came to the realization that it goes very slowly--and the reason why is that I think of him several times every day. I pray for him in the morning, throughout the day, at night, and, as a family, we pray for him at every meal and in our family prayers. But, as I look back, five months is a fairly significant amount of time, and in hindsight has gone pretty quickly. I am anticipating that this is how it will go. Each day will pass slowly, each week a bit faster and the months, maybe a little faster. By the end of January he will be 1/4 of the way through--and that is pretty weird to think about. His letter from this last week follows:

Hi Mom!!!! :)

How's it going?!? I realized on Sunday that you guys had 9:00 church and was super happy for you and felt super bad for the kids :) We just got moved to 1:00, which is actually perfect timing because it lets us get our three hours of study in the morning, then lunch, then we can get to church a little early! And then we don't have to wait too long after for dinner either :) So my week was pretty good! Plenty of ups and downs as usual! We actually got in contact with Ken, that investigator that was going to be baptized! He wasn't trying at all to avoid us, but he had been super busy and had been going back and forth to a place with bad reception. So we met with him again and set him to another date..and lost contact again. So! :) Not a lot of headway there yet, but we do know that he still wants to get baptized! He just has a super crazy life and is having difficulty finding time for other things - namely the church :) There was another investigator that had dropped us over text several weeks ago, but we decided to stop by and see what was up, and she acted like she had never dropped us! She's also really busy and has a hard time meeting with us...but at least there's more hope there than we had thought! We found another guy that's SUPER solid!!....and he's literally about 30 feet out of our the other missionaries got a really good referral :) We've had a lot of people tell us that we could come share our message sometime, so our potential investigators list is filling up - but we have a hard time getting them to answer the door or set up specific appointments. We hopefully have a few lined up for this week though! So that's the report :) Elder Ashcraft is fantastic! I feel like we both really care about not having any conflict, and getting along with each other, so that's been super nice! He puts up with some annoying things of mine, and I'm super grateful for that :)

So for the New Year's, we actually had an incredible Zone Training! We discussed removing distractions from our missionary lives, and the importance of baptism. One Sister tied it all together perfectly by asking "Is this distraction worth someone not receiving the blessings of the Gospel?" It was super cool, and really motivated me to focus a bit more on my purpose. In my immense inadequacy, I do feel like I've improved just a little in being a little more dedicated, and keeping the right perspective on the work I'm doing here. But I've still got too many things distracting me....I hope over the next 19 months I can get rid of those :) Anyways, that really set the tone for the New Years! To answer your question about my goals for the new year: yes and no :) I've never been super good about setting specific goals, but I have decided to focus on one specific Christlike attribute from Chapter 6 in Preach My Gospel every week/couple of weeks/month (we'll see :) ). It was super cool how my companion brought up the thought about a week ago that he wants to become what God wants him to be, not what he wants to be. So I've really been trying to focus on that! I think that really applies with that awesome quote you shared! God knows what we should be and how we can achieve that. We don't know anything - but we still insist on changing how we want to! So we just need to let Him take over!

Anyways! Sorry, that probably sounded super preachy! I'm reading over that and thinking it doesn't really sound like myself....but that's what came out and I'm too lazy to fix it ;) Also, on New Year day, we went to a party at a member's house that was super fun! Don't worry, there were non-members there, and we didn't spend too long! But it was fun :) That is SO crazy that Grandma and Grandpa are coming home soon! I've told them this before, but I always really looked up to them for making that sacrifice, and it was an incredible example as I decided to come out! They're pretty amazing :) 

That is SO cool that you're trying to make the Sabbath even better! To be honest, I've always really looked up to you and how you acted on Sundays! You were such a perfect example of diligently going to church, and participating in your callings, and serving (through making dinner for us, and helping others too!)! I don't really have anything to add! I just love how you said you want to "focus more and serve more". I think that's a beautiful perspective on the Sabbath Day - a day to remember and focus on God, and show our love for Him by serving others. I think also, in Preach My Gospel, it specifically says that good activities on Sunday are ones that are centered on the family. You've always tried to make Sunday a family day, which I really appreciate, but I just thought it was something I could remind of :) By the way, thank you SOOOO much for updating my blog every week! That really means so much to me! I'm super excited for when I can take a look at it; it's going to be really special for me to get on it myself and remember all the emails and pictures and stories. THANK YOU! :)

I didn't think your thoughts were all over the place at all! They made perfect sense and were super helpful for me! I don't think I'll EVER figure out the balance between improving and changing, and being patient and not worrying. UGH! :) Every time you remind me of it though, it helps it make just a little more sense! Thank you for your prayers and everything you do!! I hope my emails show and tell you enough how much I appreciate, and love, and respect, and admire, and look up to, and love, and like, and love you :) You're seriously the BEST!!! :)

So......I have a favor to ask of you.... I hope it's ok! My Zone Leader, Elder Moreno, is going home in a few months, and we've become really good friends! And he's from Mexico and doesn't get many packages. A couple times, he's kinda jokingly told me to ask you to send him a package, cause he sees how many I get from you :) And while I think it's mostly a joke, I know he'd really appreciate a little something. Would that be ok, if you maybe just put together a little one for him? That would mean a lot to him! He really likes spicy stuff, and camo things. Just to give a couple ideas :) You could just send it to the regular address, and just address it to Elder Moreno, and it would get to him!

Thanks again for the thoughts in your email! Your ideas always seem to line up perfectly with what I'm struggling with - I always look forward so much (maybe just a little too much :) ) to your emails! Thanks for being so incredible!! I love you SO MUCH!!!! I'll talk to you next week! THANK YOU!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

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