Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 41--Happy 19th Birthday (26th) AND happy 10-month mark (29th)!!

Well, this week, on Sunday, May 29th, will mark 10 months that Connor has been serving as a missionary. It is also his 19th birthday on Thursday, May 26th. It will be sort of weird not having him here for his birthday, but I wouldn't really want him anywhere else. He is learning so many valuable life lessons and his testimony is growing exponentially! What wonderful experiences he is having--it beats a traditional birthday dinner and a birthday cake, for sure. I did send a package with a few things he had asked for and a couple of surprises. Hopefully it will get there by his birthday so he'll have at least one gift to open. Here are pics of the package and his letter.

 Connor's been getting some more chances to play basketball recently and wanted his basketball shoes sent. And he needed a new pair of tennis shoes because he blew out the side of the ones he had. The more things change, the more they stay the same...hahaha. (I was lucky enough to get both pairs to fit inside this box--they barely did).

 Another pair of machine-washable, wrinkle free pants. Don't blame him for that one. And, I am trying him out with a floral tie--they are the new trend (unless you grew up in the 70's, then they are old-school). We'll see if he likes it--I have my doubts.

 The closest I could come to sending him a birthday cake--birthday cake flavored Oreos.

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

Haha it's SO crazy!! My companions and I were talking just the other day and I realized that I wouldn't have even left on my mission yet if it was still 19! I've had the opportunity to share and think about my experience when I prayed to know when I should leave on my mission; I received a slight but obvious answer that I should move forward and serve when 18, and it's been incredible to see how the opportunities and experiences and amazing people have lined up - situations that wouldn't have happened had I left a year later. I realized that I'm already seeing so many blessings in my life come from my mission - and I'm probably not even seeing a part of it! It's pretty weird to me that I'll be 19 in a few days. There's this missionary that turned 19 about a month ago, and I asked him how he felt about it, and he basically but indirectly said "Well, people won't be as impressed with me now that I'm 19 and not 18" and the prideful part of me totally agreed :) I thought that was funny :)

Holy cow, you're going to do some service to celebrate my birthday?!? I LOVE that!!!! :) Thank you so much! Please do report! That's such a fun idea!!! I'm SUPER excited for that package - thank you so so so much, in advance, for that! Thank you so much for your compliments! I hope I'm a decent son :) I know there's nothing I can do to pay you back at all, but I hope I do enough to at least show you how much I appreciate and love you! My turn: I couldn't ask for a better mother!! You've taught me so much and given me so so so much love and I'm just so blessed to be your son! As I've gotten older and heard different things about who you were, I've realized just how incredible of a person you were - and then it made sense why you're so amazing now! :) I love you so so so so so so so much :):)

Dang - last week of school?? It's been a whole year?!? That's crazy! Sounds like it'll be a nice, busy summer :)

That's so cool about the keys of the gathering of Israel! I learned about that recently but totally forgot :) It reminds me that the Lord is in this work with me and all of us - it's His power that is moving forward, and we're just lucky enough to be a tiny part of it! We really are so blessed to have that Priesthood in our lives!

So I guess it's time to update? It was an interested week to say the least! I had a lot of experiences reminding me of just how much my Heavenly Father loves me and will comfort me in hard times. He's always there for us! I especially learned a lot from the Missionary Department visit! Dang it was SO COOL! So, Brother Gonzalez is a former mission president of the Fresno mission - he served right before President Gelwix - and has been serving at the Department for quite a long time. His companion was Brother Randall, who has been at the Department for a super long time and is basically second in command there. He's actually serving as a mission president in Philadelphia this July. And holy cow he is so cool!!!!! So a quick run-down of the week: My companions and I met with them on Tuesday morning while President Palmer was picking up an off-transfer missionary from the airport. They basically just grilled us in a loving way about the mission - things we've focused on, things that go well and not so well, etc. That evening, Elder Maxwell and I proselyted with Brother Randall in our area after he took us to dinner. We had 3 lessons, and they each went quite well. He just listened intently most of the time, then near the end, he'd BOOM hit them with a super powerful question and I was just watching with my mouth hanging open :) The thing is, it wasn't anything dramatic or incredible - but he spoke with the Spirit and it was amazingly powerful. He came back to the house to watch us plan, then we drove him to his hotel while he told us stories about The District (basically our missionary game film - the stuff I was watching for pre-MTC training). He told us all this behind the scenes stuff, and how he knew a lot of the missionaries personally! Way cool! :) Wednesday, we met again with them, but with President and Sister Palmer there, and planned our Mission Leadership Council. Thursday, we had the Leadership Meeting, then they left. Friday, all the zone leaders took the training we received to the rest of the missionaries. And now we just have to do our best to apply all the stuff we learned! :)

So, something that Brother Gonzalez taught us was super cool!! He said that whenever we do something good, the light within us grows - right? But he said that different activities help our light grow linearly (which is good) while others help it grow exponentially (much better). He proposed that anytime we focus inwards (read scriptures, pray, attend church) our light grows linearly, while when we turn outwards (give service, bear our testimony, study scriptures for someone, pray for someone) our light grows exponentially! I thought that was so cool!! In the MTC, I learned how Jesus, after fasting for 40 days, learned that John the Baptist was in prison and sent the angel that had come to minister to Himself, to John. He turned outward in his greatest time of need. Similarly, as we make it a habit to focus on others' needs, we are taken care of by our Heavenly Father. I'd rather be taken care of by God than by myself :)

Thanks again for your email!! I love you so much!!! Things are going well here - I'm well taken care of! :) Thank you for everything you do! I'll email next week, as a 19 year old :) I LOVE YOU!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 40

Got these two pictures from my trusted friend in Tracy. Michael (the one on the left) was someone that Connor and Elder Roudabush found and began teaching before Connor's transfer. He was baptized on Saturday, May 14 2016. I love that President Palmer lets them go back to their areas for those baptisms that they have been a part of. Happy Day!!

 Michael, Elder Hopkin, Elder Ahua

Elder Roudabush, Elder Grover, Michael, Elder Hopkin, Elder Ahua

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

Yah, it was a really cool experience getting to attend that baptism! That was Michael, the guy I was talking about a lot before leaving Tracy. It was really cool to see him again! It was also really fun to see the ward! They gave a time while Michael was getting dried and dressed for anyone to bear their testimony, so I was able to take that chance and do so, which was really cool! I think what I said was weird, but it was nice to get that opportunity :) Elder Roudabush and Grover were super excited too, so that was fun! I think that was Elder Grover's first baptism (he's an incredible Elder but hasn't had tons of the success that he deserves).

Elder Lopez is emailing next to me and says hi...and that you made a super attractive baby ;)

Things are going well! I got to go on an exchange with a companionship of zone leaders, and it was a blast! They had one of those Doterra oil diffusers, where it releases into the air, and they put in an oil that's supposed to give you weird dreams... I ended up asking a guy for directions to Wal-mart while fighting with a little guy inside a hole in my arm, after doing 150 push-ups in a row... :) They were super fun and we got along super well, and it was a great day! We've had a couple other random meetings and such, but we've had some good time to proselyte too! We were able to contact a couple people on the street that seem pretty interested. We also had a visit with a less-active guy that was totally open! We shared Alma 36 and the Hallelujah video with him, and he really liked it, and we're hopefully going back tomorrow. The exciting thing for the week is that tomorrow the Missionary Department is coming - they were supposed to come in the first 6 months of the mission...but they're coming now :) So the Assistants are going to have lots of meetings, and we get to proselyte tomorrow night with one of them, and have a super long and hopefully awesome training. Should be good! :)

That's really fun about everyone's activities! That's super cool about Ethan - I don't know if it's weird to say, but I'm proud of him! :) I'm stinking excited for Bryn!!! That's going to be such a blast! And that's way cool for Makaeli! 26!!!! :) And she's teaching piano?? And playing with the old girls? Dang!!!! :) That's way awesome!

I love your thoughts!! :) Especially about being adequate! Actually, our mission president has noticed an unfortunate trend in the mission of missionaries thinking they're not good enough. He's sent out about 3 weekly emails about it, but apparently enough people aren't catching the drift, so he sent a super long and direct one - totally threw down! In the nicest way possible. Basically he said "Stop thinking your worthless! You're doing good! CUT IT OUT!!!" :) It is so amazing to me how the Lord uses our individual traits and experiences to accomplish His purpose. I love remembering that doctrine :) Kiiiinda on that topic, I had a new perspective on the sacrament this week. I've always had super strong faith that Christ can forgive us, so it's almost turned into me taking it for granted. Like, duh He'll forgive us! But I had this thought "Well, what if He doesn't forgive me this week?" Then I realized that no matter what, He will, if we're repentant and do our best. And through His Atonement, He can make up the difference when we put in our effort!

Thanks for the hello's! Tell them Hi back if you get the chance please :) No, I can't believe I'm almost 19 - what the heck?!?! :) Hmm....I think I'm good with the package. Thank you so so so much!!!! :)

Thank you for your encouragement and love and everything you do!!! I love your emails ALWAYS!! :) You're such an amazing Mom - I'm so grateful for you! I hope you have a really good week - I'm praying for you!!! I love you so so so much!!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 39--Mother's Day Skype 2016

It was so good talking to Connor on Mother's Day. Getting weekly emails is great and all, but it sure was nice to see him, hear his voice and be able to talk back and forth. He is still adjusting to his new transfer and getting used to his new situation and assignments. Here are pictures of our Skype and his letter from this last week.

 Mother's Day Skype--May 8, 2016
Leave it to Shon to be a goof-ball!

This was the best shot we got. Great family photo, I think!
May 8, 2016

Got some pictures sent in a text from Sister Palmer on Monday morning, May 9, 2016. I have no idea what this fruit is they are eating.

 Elder Hopkin, Elder Lopez, President Palmer

Elder Hopkin and Elder Maxwell

Elder Maxwell, Elder Lopez, Elder Hopkin

Elder Lopez, Elder Hopkin, Elder Maxwell

President Palmer, Elder Maxwell, Elder Lopez, Elder Hopkin

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

It was SO good seeing you yesterday!! Haha so THAT'S why you were recording my voice! Thanks for the hi :) I loved getting to see you all and hear your voices and your testimonies and stories! Thanks for letting Grandpa and Grandma and Angie say hi too! It didn't weird me out too bad this time actually! Last Christmas it took me about an hour...yesterday more like 5-10 minutes. So success! :) And I'm already counting down the days to Christmas again :) I don't think there was anything else I wanted to bring up...maybe one thing but I can't even remember it anymore. So never mind! :) I hope it was a really really good Mother's Day!

I'm sure the kids are dying waiting for the end of the school year. Oh man, can you imagine when I have two weeks left on my mission? I've had to pre-live that a couple times, with Elder Moreno, and now with Elder Lopez. It's weird! I'm glad Makaeli got her desired score on the ACT! I'm guessing you didn't say the actual score on purpose, but I'm curious :) If it's a secret, no worries!

That hymn is one of my favorites!! Elder Dixon and I would listen to it all the time - perfect timing for that hard transfer - and I grew to love the lyrics so much! At a leadership meeting a couple months ago, we sang all the verses of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief and it was so cool, and I wish we would do that with this hymn too! It's so comforting and brings so much hope! Thanks for that last paragraph, too. I've felt a little less-than-adequate lately, and that was really good to hear. Please know that I pray for you all the time too, and I know that since you've supported me so much in being here, God is blessing and will continue to bless you so much! Thank you for being such an incredible support! I miss you too...but emails help right? :)

I hope this email is ok... I don't have much else to report on :) Oh, other than the fact that I'm relearning (because I'm too dumb to just learn things once) just how amazing scripture study is! It brightens and lifts and strengthens your day! That's all :)

I love you so much! Thank you SO MUCH for everything! I love you!!!!!!!!! Have a wonderful week!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

And, one last picture that Connor sent with his letter this week of the new companionship. I love this one of them in their suits and name tags! Such handsome Elders!!

Elder Maxwell, Elder Hopkin, Elder Lopez
California Modesto Mission AP's 
Monday, May 9, 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 38--Getting Used To The Changes

Hi Mom!!!!!! :)

Things have been pretty good! I told my mission president in my email to him that I almost feel like a new missionary again, not really knowing the ropes and being with experienced missionaries. It's been an interesting but cool experience. Like I've said in other emails, I really love the missionaries here, and now I have a greater opportunity to get to know them! The transfer went well. Elder Roudabush took me down to the office and picked up his new companion Elder Grover (one of my favorite missionaries), then I started! I was so scared! Elder Lopez kept saying "Stop looking so nervous!" :) We had a little meeting with the trainers and the new missionaries, then on Wednesday with the new leaders in the mission. We've decided that Elder Maxwell is the designated chauffeur, I'm the designated piano player, and Elder Lopez is the designated talker (he's really good at giving trainings and such). It's been really fun to work with them, but their methods of working are slightly different (just a tiny) than what I've developed, so that's been interesting! Being around the office is fun kinda. We try not to spend too much time there though. There's lots of driving around to do random errands and some extra meetings and stuff, but we try to work in our area as much as possible. I like getting to be around President and Sister Palmer more; I really look up to him and she's just the sweetest, funniest lady ever! The office staff is super cool too :) The new area is great! It technically covers a city called Riverbank, but we live in Modesto - the're about 10 minutes apart. There aren't any investigators right now, but the ward is awesome. It's about twice the size of Tracy ward. It's so weird moving wards and having to get to know new people! I've had some ups and downs this week but overall things are good. I got a blessing from my companions the other day because I was feeling a little under the weather, and I also received some great counsel in that. I had the opportunity to give several other people blessings, and I'm so grateful for the priesthood that's been given to us to bless others!

I'm glad things are going well at home and that Dad and Makaeli returned safely! I was a little nervous for them :) That's awesome about Aimee and Cooper! That's super cool about Ethan too! That was the situation in Tracy ward - only one deacon :)

You're right. I've felt very inadequate and uncomfortable at times :) But God cares more about our growth than comfort right? :) I'm trying to be humble and teachable, and I really do hope that the Lord will help me do the things I need to. I know He can if I let Him; the question is if I do my best or not. That's really good advice to look over my notes from Ryan. I've done that a couple times and they help. God has helped me so much by really diminishing my anxieties.

5:00 does work for Skyping! I gave your number to a SUPER cool member in another ward where we'll be Skyping, and she said she'd call you sometime this week to get it all worked out. So don't get creeped out when that happens :) Oh, so today there were some super cool basketball shoes on sale...and I realized I have those Nike's at home, and I play basketball a fair amount... do you think you could send those along in the next package? Whenever is convenient! I'd really appreciate that if that works!

I'm so excited for Sunday!!!!! Think of your hardest doctrinal questions k? And I won't answer them! :) I hope I'll be a little more normal this time around - we'll see! :)

I love you so much! Thank you for everything!! You're the best!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Week 37--TRANSFERRED....and a new assignment

Well, it finally happened. After almost 8 months in Tracy, Connor was transferred this week. He had such a wonderful experience in Tracy--the members were so good to him, he taught some wonderful people and saw several join the Church, he had three great companions and was given some great experiences and responsibilities that allowed him to get to know so many other Elders and Sisters and to grow individually. I am sure he is in for many more positive days ahead as he goes to Modesto. I look forward to hearing all about them in the weeks to come.

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

Alright, so transfers this week! Ahhhh! I'm leaving Tracy and going to Modesto! So here's the story: on transfer nights, we usually get calls from the Mission President or Assistants. So the Assistants called and asked "Can you please come to the mission home right now?" We drove about 20 minutes down to their house, and met with President, and he asked me to be an Assistant next transfer. I'm SOOOO scared!!!!! I was sure Elder Roudabush was going to be the next Assistant, but he literally hates leadership, so I guess God was nice enough to let him stay as a zone leader :)  Anyways, I'm going to get be in a tripanionship - both of the last Assistants are staying. Which means I get to serve with Elder Lopez!! He's the one that was my district leader when I first came here, then my zone leader with Elder Moreno. He's so cool!! And Elder Maxwell will be my other companion, and he's great too! I'm pretty sad to leave this area - I've come to be so comfortable here. I know 90% of the street names and 80% of the people that walk the streets and I love the members so much! Ahhh and I get so nostalgic and I HATE leaving places! But Brian and I will come visit soon enough :) So that's the update! Elder Roudabush is staying here with Elder Grover (one of my best friends in the mission). It should be good!?

As far as the work goes... we had 3 lessons with Michael this week. He's SO solid!! We asked him if he had prayed about his baptismal date, and he said "Yah, I feel good about it...maybe even sooner!" We decided together to keep it where it is though. He's so funny and I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to teach him. We have a few other investigators, and we're working pretty well with a couple less active members. Things are pretty good! I've had the chance to serve and get to know better some great missionaries here, and it's been a great transfer!
So I studied about prayer and having the Holy Ghost today, and it was super good! I realized that Nephi was always praying (1 Nephi 18:3) and that's part of what made him such an incredible prophet. I know you love Nephi, so I thought you'd appreciate that thought! There are so many scriptures that say that we receive the Spirit as we pray, so I realized that I need to pray harder. I have a strong testimony of prayer, but I seem to forget it more than I should. I love in Mosiah 4 and 5, how King Benjamin's people pray to God for mercy, and He fills them with the Holy Ghost and peace of conscience. Then in chapter 5 they say that they've had a mighty change of heart, which came through the Spirit that entered them when they prayed. I know the Holy Ghost changes us when we let Him. That's what's so amazing about our gospel - we receive the gift of having Him with us always. He cleanses and purifies us and allows us to become more like our Savior.

So, I LOVE these slacks you sent me, and I was wondering if in the next package you could send me another just like them? Don't worry about getting one together to send them, but if you could grab me another for sometime in the future that would be amazing. I'm getting along perfectly fine right now, but eventually these will rip I'm sure... Is that ok?

I'm glad the family is having a good time in Europe! I'm pretty jealous - I shouldn't be but I am :) I hope things continue to go well for you there! It sounds like everyone is getting along ok, which I'm super happy about. I always wish I was a little more mature and less contentious when I was home... I hope I didn't make things too stressful for everyone :) I'm just realizing that I should have treated everyone even better than I try to treat people out here, and I didn't. Thank you so much for being such an incredible Mom!! Thanks for your thought from Mosiah! I totally agree - I love how everything in the Book of Mormon points to Jesus. He's everywhere in there! And I also feel the Spirit teach me so much as I read it!! It's an incredible book! :) I love you so much! You're so special and amazing!! Let me know if I can do anything to help you out for Mother's Day!! I'm so excited to talk to you!!!!!!! :) I hope you have an amazing week - you deserve a million amazing weeks! :) I love you so much!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

​My awesome district!!!! Left to right: Sister Lynn, Sister Arevalo, Elder White, Weirdo, Elder Ahau, Elder Shepherd, Elder Roudabush. They're all SOOO cool! :)

Monday, April 25, 2016
"We are sad to see Elder Hopkin leave our ward but we know he will do wonderful work in Modesto....Thanks so much for lending us your son. He is a wonderful missionary and we are honored to know him...."