Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week 28

Connor's letter for the week and a few pictures too.

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

Yah, the 29th is coming up, huh? Crazy!!! It's so weird to me that I've been out for several months - I still feel like I hardly know what I'm doing! :) There are a couple Elders in our zone that I've gotten pretty close with, and they go home in 2 weeks! It's so insane!

I think it's so crazy that Makaeli's 17! One more year and she'll be an adult! Ahh! That's super cool that Jared and Ezra are working on their papers! I remember this time of last year - so stressful and scary! But exciting too :)

So, not a whole lot to report here, unfortunately. We had a pretty average week. I went on an exchange with one of the Elders in my district, and it was really fun! We came out the same day, so it was cool to work with each other - it was also a little humbling; he taught me a lot. I still have 3 more exchanges I have to do, and only 2 weeks to do it! Ahh! One of them will be with Elder Moreno though, which I'm super excited for :) We're continuing to work with Abraham and Martha, our investigators that are getting baptized soon. They're so cool!! :) They came to church yesterday and the ward just embraced them SO much and they gave super cool answers in class and it was really great! We're having dinner and a lesson with them tonight! Let's see...oh, we also had interviews with our Mission President this week. For some reason I got so nervous but got in there and he's just so incredible. I also got the chance to talk with Sister Palmer; she made us cookies and had a little "interview" with us before we talked to President. My interview consisted of her giving me a cookie, asking about my family and home, and then telling me about a time she went to Colombia and bought a pot and almost got arrested when she had to declare customs and wrote that she had bought "pot". She's probably one of my favorite people ever :)

It really is cool how much you learn as a missionary! I actually don't write in my scriptures as much as I should though - instead I write in a study journal and I'm almost through with my second already! I write way too much :) That ward conference sounds really good! Church really is such an awesome time to go learn and feel the Spirit. Especially as a missionary, I've learned that church really does give us rest from the week. The Sacrament means so much more to me know than it ever has before. I love Sundays! Self-evaluation though...hmm....I try to avoid it almost cause it stresses me out so much :) What did he mean by asking appropriate questions? Did he say much about how we can accurately self-evaluate without being too easy or hard on ourselves?

So I realized something so cool the other day! Last Monday when I said that I had had a really good study in Ether 3, I had read up until verse 14. Then I got busy studying other important things for the next few days, and I finally got to finish the chapter a couple days ago. I had just had my interview with President Palmer, where he talked about everyone's God-given right to hear the gospel. I was thinking about our divine origin and just how much God loves us, and I read Ether 3:25. God shows the brother of Jared everything that He has created because of his faith. And I realized that God starts by showing us! And He does the same thing with Moses! The very first thing that He shows to the faithful, the very thing He's most proud of, is His children! He's created everything, He's all-powerful, and He could show him anything. And, like anyone, He wants to show the thing He loves the most first. His biggest work and glory and purpose is His children - you and me. He loves us so much and is so invested in helping us return to Him. He's given us our agency, but He's made every possible way available for us to find eternal happiness. I'm so grateful for that, and I hope it will help me remember why I'm out here teaching His gospel to His children.

So, could I ask you for a couple favors? I was wondering if next time you're around the distribution center, if you could get me one or two new pairs of garments? I'm totally fine, but I only have one extra pair, and I always have to wear one pair of the kinds I don't like :) So I like the medium dry-lux top, crew neck; and all cotton bottoms, 34 waist. Also, if you could pick up another journal for me? One of the big black ones, or another cool one you see? I still have over a month left on the one I have, so I'll be fine for a while :) And....could you get me another pair of jeans? The ones I wore are ripped and the ones I have now....are skinny jeans...and my legs have gotten bigger from all the biking...and they're way too tight :) And, if you find time, maybe a pair of machine-washable black slacks would be nice - but those aren't nearly as important. So, if you could grab garments, a journal, and some jeans, and possibly some slacks, that would be SUPER helpful!! I hope that's not too much.....Thank you!!

So, thank you so much for your email! I ALWAYS love reading them!! I'm not a huge fan of sending emails but it's worth it so I get some :):) You're the BEST ever and I love you so much!!!!! I'll look forward to next week! If you could pray for Abraham and Martha to keep their commitments and everything to go smoothly, that would be much appreciated. Thank you!! I LOVE YOU!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

This is why I'm getting fat :) A member took us to lunch today!
February 22, 2016

Elder Ashcraft and Elder Hopkin
Tracy, California 
Saturday, February 20, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 27--Valentine's Week And A Few Pics

We sent Connor a package for Valentine's Day. Here are a few pics. It really is fun to have him in a place where we can send stuff to him regularly--one huge advantage of a state-side mission!!

 Red and Pink ties for V-Day 2016.

Another fun thing this week was an unexpected post on my Facebook wall from a friend and member of my home ward. He was in Modesto on a business trip and saw two Elders walking along the sidewalk. He stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride and they accepted. He asked if they knew Elder Hopkin and one of them said "yes". It was Elder Jones--Connor's last companion! Here are a couple of pictures Scott took with Elder Jones. It was so kind of him to think of sending them to me! He then went to Tracy, but didn't have quite the same luck finding Connor, although he did look for him as he was driving around. Maybe next time!

Scott and Elder Jones in Modesto 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"I just met Connor's last companion, Elder Jones, while I was in Modesto today. He had the best things to say about Connor! I looked for him in Tracy but no luck."

On Sunday night we got another picture of Connor with his companion, Elder Ashcraft! How I love random and unexpected pictures and texts (and Facebook posts).

Elder Hopkin and Elder Ashcraft 
Sunday, February 14, 2016 
Tracy, California

"Our family is here in Modesto to visit our daughter's mission (who was just released two weeks ago) and saw these two wonderful Elders in Tracy at Stake Conference. I think I kind of freaked Elder Hopkin out because I knew who he was and your name Jen from missionary moms group on Facebook. Anyway, happy Sunday!"

Can I say again how much I appreciate and love the thoughtfulness of others in taking and sending pics of Connor. Makes me feel a bit more connected somehow! And, it always makes me happy!!

Here is his letter for the week and a few more pictures that he sent along.

Hi Mom!!!!

Hahaha thank you! I really hope I'm not balding :) The other day we were at dinner with a family, and I mentioned that I was gaining weight and getting fat and they were like "What?! Are you trying to get kicked out? What are you talking about, stop!" and then I said that I was balding too and they just cracked up! But I was serious about it all! I don't know what they were laughing at :)

I'm glad you got that picture! Yah, a Sister that went home last transfer came to visit with her parents and her mom was like "Is one of you Elder Hopkin? I read your blog!" and it was really random and weird but cool :) So I hope you edit that thing carefully ;) But really, thank you so much for keeping that up! I did get your package, ON Valentine's Day! I loved it!!! I just sent you that picture of our ties! And holy cow, Elder Moreno LOVED his package! It made his day! Thank you so much for sending that to him! He actually lived in Orem, and he goes home this transfer and said he's gonna go visit you guys...we'll see but that would be fun :)

I think that's a good option to suggest that to President....but I don't know if I'm brave enough :) I'll sit on that one and think about it! That would make things pretty intense - but I would learn Spanish pretty quickly huh? I'm glad the other kids are working hard and having a good time - especially at ACT classes :) I just realized, I use a lot of smiley faces, huh? I had a dream the other night, where my mission president told me I needed to stop using so many emojis in my texts (I use them a decent amount, like when communicating with missionaries or members), and I wasn't sure if that was revelation through a dream, or something to not worry about :)

My week was ok! We had our fair share of dropped appointments. I'm pretty used to that though! We found another investigator, but I don't know how interested he really is. We have a couple investigators that we have planned appointments for soon, and a couple that are really busy over the next couple weeks. Abraham and Martha are still going strong! We're excited about them! I do continue to have new adventures and experiences. My district leader assignment is going pretty well! I always have been a people-pleaser, so I always worry if I'm doing enough of the right things, if they like me enough, etc... I need to get over that stuff though! Our last district meeting, we focused on personal revelation and I've just gained such a strong testimony lately that God gives us directions and answers to prayers. I've really tried to learn to listen to the Holy Ghost so I can understand God's will and do the right things, and while I have a lot to improve on, I've had some cool experiences. Kinda along with that, I've gained a strong testimony of scripture study, especially in the Book of Mormon. Just this morning, I started my studies with a prayer, and was reading in Ether 3, and went on this long scripture chain and just learned so much from the Spirit, and it was so amazing! The Lord always teaches us line upon line. Today I understood something a little better that I had studied and learned about months ago! He's always there to teach and direct us, as we ask Him in faith. Anyways, my district is doing great - they're all recovered and back to full force! We had a new addition; there was an emergency transfer somewhere and a really cool Elder (that had been my Zone Leader's companion when I first came to Tracy) is now in a tripanionship with the Northland Elders! Sot that's been fun!

That's a really nice story about Ethan! Thank you (to all the family) for all your prayers! They help more than you know! Thank you also for those thoughts from Grandma and Grandpa! That's fun that they got to give their talks! I wish I could have been there - I'm sure they have some incredible stories! And that scripture - Isaiah 41:10 - dang I love that one!!! It's SO GOOD!!! Thanks for reminding me of it! :)

To close, 2 things. One: last night we had this delicious meal at a member's home and I got super full and then she pulled out our Valentine's Day surprise dessert - a HUGE cupcake! I was so grateful but ahhh I ate the whole thing and almost died!! So know that I'm taken care of - too much :) Also, I've been sharing a lot lately a few verses from Alma 36 - verses 12 and 17-21. I think it's so beautiful the contrast between his shame and guilty torment, and the light and joy that Jesus Christ gives him. He remembered that his father had taught him about Christ (a good reminder to us to always be teaching of Christ so others can remember Him and His mercy), and then as soon as he cried out for mercy with a repentant heart, he felt the peace and joy that only Jesus can give. I know He can and will forgive our sins and make us clean so we can live with our Father again.

I love you so much!!! Thank you thank you thank you for everything!!! Let me know if there's anything in particular that I can pray for, for you and/or the family! I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

 Elder Ashcraft, Elder Moreno, Elder Hopkin--they are all wearing their V-Day ties that we sent to them in their packages!!  Fun!
Monday, February 15, 2016

Elder Hopkin and Elder Torres
Monday, February 15, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week 26

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

It's so good to hear from you!! I'm glad everyone is nice and busy! :) Thank you for praying and fasting for me and my investigators! I fast for you and the family every month, and I pray for you every day!! This week with the investigators was a little slow, but not too bad. We had minimal lessons, just cause people were sick/busy. We had a great lesson though, with Corinna and Leivinna, a mom and her daughter. I don't know if I told you this, but a couple weeks ago we were tracting before an appointment, and Corinna called us over and said "My daughter has been asking me questions about God, and I don't really know how to answer them...can you come teach us?" and we were like "Nope!" Haha, just kidding, we were SO excited, and we've had a couple good lessons with them. They were going to come to church yesterday, but a family problem came up; but they're so nice and we're excited to keep teaching them! We had a good lesson with another investigator that has depression, and it was really cool as we read in the Book of Mormon with her and helped her feel Jesus' love for her. She has a hard time accepting that God and Jesus really exist, but from the things she says, her heart just wants so much for them to be real. She's a little stubborn and hasn't accepted to pray - yet. But once she does, I just know she'll feel God's love and be so accepting of the rest of our message. Yesterday, we actually had a former investigator come to church! She's really silly, cause she really loves the church, and even told us "If I had heard about this church 20 years ago, I probably would have joined" but she's too comfortable in her Catholic practices. But we're hoping if she keeps coming to church and reading the stuff we give her (we don't teach her but we visit her occasionally), she'll eventually realize the change is worth it. She's so sweet and we've really come to be super good friends with her! As far as our district goes, we had another Sister get sick, one fall off her bike and pass out, and an Elder crash on his bike pretty bad! They're all doing ok luckily - but it's been interesting! :) That's so true what you said about how we can't find the answers for other people - they have to be the ones to find out for themselves. But once they make that commitment, the Lord always answers! That's a good reminder that I need to be constantly praying for people's hearts to be softened!

Those are really cool thoughts with all that symbolism! I love Lehi's vision! I especially appreciate and love sharing with members the verse where Lehi says the fruit was so desirable and delicious, and all he wanted was to share that with his family. We're all one big family - God's family - and we need to have charity and love others and desire their eternal happiness! That's cool though how you contrast the tree of life with the great and spacious building! This weird part of me deep down almost thinks the great and spacious building sounds kinda fun and cool - but really the fruit is the end goal that brings so much joy and happiness - the exact opposite of what the building brings! And it really is so desirable and incredible! And thank you for your testimony of the Book of Mormon! I've come to love that Book so much over the last several months! It really does bring so much peace and direction into our lives, and brings us closer to God! I've been learning a lot about personal revelation lately. God is so good and always answers our prayers! I find myself doubting that He will this time, or next time, but He always does when I exercise faith and ask! Not only does He give us revelation, but also blessings! We were trying to get our mail the other day, and the lock would not open! So after about 5 minutes of struggling, feeling pretty silly about praying for such a trivial thing, we prayed that He would open it. And about 10 seconds later, the we turned the key and the lock opened! It was really cool :) Anyways, tangent aside, reading in the Book of Mormon brings so much opportunity for personal revelation, and it's so amazing! I read the beginning of Doctrine and Covenants 138 today, and President Smith goes through the same situation - he ponders over the scriptures, remembering the Savior and His sacrifice (like Moroni suggests we do in Moroni chapter 10), and his mind is opened up line upon line by the Spirit. I thought that was such a good example of how God speaks to us!

So, thank you so much for sending Elder Moreno a package! He goes home in 4 weeks!! It's crazy!!! And this will be perfect for a going-away present! And thank you for sending me one! Oh, and can you please tell Angie thank you for the one she sent me a while ago? I got it and LOVED it and I'm so grateful for her!!

Thank you for loving me so much! :) Haha I hope that doesn't sound weird, but I just can always know that you love me, and it means more than you know! Thank you for your beautiful emails and everything you do for me!! I'm so blessed!! :) Thanks for all your sacrifice and faith and kindness and example and love! I really look up to and admire you! I'll be excited for next Monday! I love you SO MUCH!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 25--6 Months Out/The Sister Missionary Mark!

Well, this week--Friday, the 29th, marked 6 months--1/4 of the way through the mission. We call it the Sister Missionary Mark--basically he has as much time left as the sister missionaries have all together.  

Hi Mom!!!!

That sounds like a super exciting week!! Dang I hate the idea of missing out on stuff like that, but oh well :) I'm glad Dad had a good time and got home safely! Katy sent me a picture of you guys with her at her call opening and it was super good to see you :) Aww I'm just a little jealous that she's going Spanish-speaking! She's gonna do an incredible job in Iowa though! That's super exciting!! And I am soooo glad that Grandpa and Grandma are safe and happy in their home and it's so crazy that they're already BACK!! That's so nuts!!

So this was good! Nothing too too special, but plenty of good stuff :) So I'm enjoying the opportunity I have to serve as a district leader! In the Missionary Handbook, it says that leadership positions are opportunities to develop greater love and to learn, and I've already seen that! I was praying a few nights ago about my district and just felt so much love for each one of them, and I had just a tiny taste of how God feels for them, and it was super special! I love being put in a position where I get to serve more. It adds a little extra stuff to do and holy cow I feel inadequate a lot, but it's been good. I led a district meeting on Thursday and it was soooo scary but I got through it :) No new investigators this week, but we did get the chance to spend more time with Abraham and Martha and DANG THEY ARE SO COOL!!!! :) Elder Jones and I street contacted Abraham a couple months ago, and we finally got to meet with him a couple weeks ago, and he and his wife are just so prepared! He's like, gonna be a bishop in a couple years or something :) They are incredible! We haven't even taught the Word of Wisdom yet, and he was telling us how he had a party with friends and didn't drink any alcohol, even though it was super hard! And he brought up tithing and asked us how he can start paying...Elder Ashcraft said he's "humbled" to be teaching them, and I totally agree. Super cool! We had a couple of other lessons this week, with super cool investigators; the biggest problem with all three of them though, is that they like evidence and proof. Apparently there's a verse in Jeremiah that says not to trust your own heart, and they all brought up that when we asked them to pray about it. But all of them have committed to try reading and praying, and they're all really just searching for the truth - which we happen to have :) So that was all pretty good this week!

So right before this email we had a hot dog eating contest....ugh... 6 hot dogs in about 10 minutes. The winner ate 8. 67 cents for a pack of 8. I don't feel too good :) Just so you know :)

Hm....I feel like there's more to say but I don't know what. This morning I was reading in Preach My Gospel chapter 4, which talks about recognizing the Spirit. Right at the very beginning, it talks about how God is so anxious and willing to help us and support us, and we just need to be worthy and ask. I found that to be true when I was deciding whether to go on my mission this year or next. I was so worried that I wouldn't receive an answer, but I read the scripture that says to ask, seek and knock, and it will be given. I've been trying to learn more how to receive personal revelation, and I have a strong testimony that God really does answer our prayers. The Holy Ghost is so incredible, and we're promised that we can have Him with us. I've also studied and learned a lot about the importance of love over the last week (and my whole mission - that's kinda my mission theme) :) The greatest commandment is to love God, and as we remember His mercy and love towards us, we'll feel a stronger sense of love to Him, like King Benjamin talks about. And as we love and serve Him, we learn to love others. I feel like Christ's greatest attribute was charity, and I want so bad to have it! :) Anyways... :)

Oh, I wanted to ask you, were you ever able to send that package to Elder Moreno? He hasn't said anything about it, and I don't wanna ask him, so I was curious! But he's been such a good friend and leader to me, so thank you for doing that!

Thank you for always sending me such amazing spiritual thoughts!! That is such a good scripture passage! I read that as part of a list from Preach My Gospel, and that along with other Book of Mormon chapters has helped me understand the Atonement so much better, and really appreciate just how essential it is. I know I keep saying this, but without Jesus and His Atonement, there would be no hope!! And He has given us this gospel so we can access that mercy and love. And all those thoughts from Brother Millet's lesson are super cool!

So, I just love you a LOT!!! I miss you lots! And I love you lots too!! Thank you so much for everything!!! Thank you for your example and your testimony and all you've done for me! You're such a GOOD MOM!! I probably say that a lot but it's just so true! I love you!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Hot dog eating contest--February 1, 2016