Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 34

Hi Mom!!!!!!

Thank you so much!!!! I really really appreciate that! Your help and love and emails and prayers have been such a help to me, and I'm so grateful for you! General Conference always seems to bring up women, and I'm always so impressed by you and how strong and incredible and faithful and loving you are. Thank you so much for everything :)

So, I was trying to think about the last week, and realized it was pretty eventful actually! We had a nice leadership meeting on Tuesday, where President Palmer helped us realize that the missionaries in this mission don't allow the Atonement to apply to them! A lot of us teach about how Christ can strengthen and forgive and save us, but we don't trust it or personally apply it for ourselves. I found a lot of that same message through General Conference, so that was really cool! On Wednesday, one of the missionaries in our zone gave us a call; he was having a super low day and needed some help. I was able to go talk to him, and a lot of his concerns were similar to the ones that I've experienced, feeling overwhelmed with everything. I was able to help him out a bit, and we read in the Book of Mormon together. I had no idea what to read with him, so I thumbed through and found Helaman 5. I remembered it was a good chapter, so we read that, and he said it helped him a lot. It was a big testimony to me of how the Book of Mormon brings the Spirit and answers our questions. So that was an intimidating experience, but I'm super grateful for it! On Thursday, Elder Roudabush and I led our first zone training. It was so scary :) I think it went well though; we basically just tried to bring up the same points we had learned from our leadership meeting, and a couple of the sister training leaders in our zone led a discussion that was perfect! On Friday, I got to do an exchange with Elder Lopez, my first district leader here in Tracy, and it was really good spending some time with him. Then of course, General Conference was incredible! We had a pretty good day yesterday, teaching a few lessons and finding a couple investigators!

General Conference really was so good!!! Elder Holland's talk was the most perfect conclusion I could have imagined! Especially during Priesthood session, I felt pretty chastised (which is really good in its own way :) ) but that last talk helped smooth it all out. Something that stood out to me was in President Uchtdorf's talk on Sunday morning. I'm not quoting it perfectly, but he essentially said that obedience isn't supposed to be us painfully molding ourselves to God's rules - it's a way for us to find what we're made of. Obviously our natural man doesn't want to comply with the commandments - that's why we have to overcome it and become a saint through the Atonement. But what we're TRULY made of is our spirit - the same spirit that dwelt with God and remembers being in His perfect presence. Our true nature wants to be good and obedient; so the commandments really are fine-tuned to what we are. That's why we feel so much happiness and satisfaction when we are obedient; we're following our true nature! We just have to learn to let our spirit overcome that stupid natural man! Also, I absolutely loved Elder Bednar's talk. It was the perfect missionary talk; it was essentially the last half of our lesson 3, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ." He explained so well why we need to be baptized and confirmed, and why the sacrament is so essential. I learned a lot from his. It was really incredible how much these talks answered my questions! I had three questions that I wanted to be answered, and as I looked over my notes this morning in context of my questions, there were SO many answers! I've also had several other experiences this week where I've prayed and asked for answers, and God has given them to me. That seems to be a recurring lesson for me out here - maybe I'll learn it one of these days :)

Anyways, wow! Sorry for those long paragraphs :) The music really was so beautiful too!! They're so good! You know, as I've thought about the lyrics for Called to Serve, I was never really that impressed with them - they never really stood out to me. But with you writing them there, I actually really like them now! So thank you!! :)

Ahhhhh I was freaking out when I realized that Ethan went to his first priesthood session! That's so crazy! He's already looking so much older! He's gonna, like, be through puberty when I get home! What the heck? :) Ooooh I need to see a picture of Jimmy!!! She told me about him but never sent me a picture!! I'm so glad for her! And I'm sooooo jealous of those girls and their vacation!!! :( Ahh I get to see almond trees and stoplights while they look at Sacre Cur and Big Ben! But I don't even care, mine is better! :) That's going to be so fun for them!

K well, I think that's it for the week! I love you so much!! Thank you so much for your email!! I hope you make sure to apply the exact same things to yourself that you said to me :) You do so much good and you try so so so hard (and succeed more often than not :) ) and I know that Heaven is cheering you on and that Heavenly Father is so proud of everything you do! There's this song that's around the mission called "In the Meantime" that basically talks about how when we lose our lives and serve others, that's when we find the true reward and progress - and you exemplify that I think :) Thank you for everything you do! I miss and love you so so so much!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

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