Friday, July 29, 2016

Week 50--1/2 Way To 100....

Here are Connor's emails for this past week--and a picture of him with his new companion, Elder Griffin.

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Hahahaha I love the subject lines!!! :) Thank you SO much for sending those family reunion pictures! It's SUPER scary how old everyone looks!! Especially Ethan and Katelyn and Chris's kids! It's pretty funny, Elders Lopez and Maxwell kept saying I look like I'm 16. Don't know if that's a compliment or insult, but it'll be nice when I'm older, right? That's super fun about Maddie! She's going to do an incredible job; she's such a good friend, so thanks for being there for her! And that's cool to hear about Gavin!

So....a year....huh? I don't even know what to think about it, so I just won't :) About a month ago, it kinda hit me that I'm about to start the "decline". Hopefully my missionary work will increase in the meantime!

This week has been....crazy! Haha I'm definitely not "training" Elder Griffin though - it's the other way around! He's one of those companions that just makes you better. I feel like I'm at a little bit of a peak with my mission right now. My companion is great and helps me be better, and I'm hardly ever homesick anymore, and I feel like my skills are improving. So I hope that continues, and that I can be humble without "being compelled to be humble" you know? :) This week has been a complete blur but I'll try to give a summary! Monday we spent time with the new missionaries, and they slept at our house. Tuesday we paired them with their companions; Elder Griffin and I had to do a couple trainings, which scared me to death cause Elder Maxwell wasn't there to lead out; we switched phones and area books with Elders Feltman and Elliott and thus began my work in YSA; we took the departing missionaries to Modesto to proselyte for the last time; on the way up to dinner we stopped to pick up another car to carry luggage, and it was drained so we spent half an hour jump-starting it and were super late to dinner; a couple of the departing missionaries got picked up after dinner and I had the opportunity to get super homesick as I saw them cry and hug their parents. Interesting day :) Wednesday we took the departing missionaries to the airport and had a new leadership meeting, then finally got to do some visits. Thursday was a great district meeting with our new district and we spent more time figuring stuff out at the office. Friday we got some good proselyting time, and Saturday too. Sunday we spent 5 hours straight in church. Today is today! :) So, we're covering 2 YSA branches momentarily - this Sunday they will be combined into a ward (that's why we had to switch areas; it messed up the zones). It's super interesting and really fun to work in YSA! Lots of returned missionaries around! We have a few investigators that are super awesome, and I hope they'll progress quickly! Our finding is pretty slow right now, but we're hoping it will pick up! Our area covers both the Modesto and Modesto North Stakes! So...the cities of Modesto, Riverbank, Escalon, Oakdale, Salida, and Sonora (but we never go there), if you want to check it out on the map. HUGE area! I actually didn't get a new apartment; it worked perfectly for us and the other elders to just stay where we were. Does that answer your questions?? :)

So, for our district meeting, our district leader had us study our companion's favorite hymn and scripture, and choose 2 attributes to describe them. It reminded me of something that President Palmer LOVES to teach every missionary: TSP. He invites us to each day give our companion a Truthful, Specific, Positive, compliment. He always tells us, do it with investigators, with members, with your companion, and with yourself. It's been such a blessing for me when those around me have told me the good attributes they see in me, and it feels so good when I'm able to do it for someone. I know our Heavenly Father loves each of us and focuses on the very specific, positive good in us. And as we do the same for others, we can see them through His eyes, bless lives, and find joy in doing so. You're already an expert at this - I think every email you've sent me has a "TSP" in it :)

Thank you for your thought from Sacrament Meeting! That was a good reminder for me! Thank YOU for your example of courage and faith! Your example of going on a mission and being an incredible mother and living the gospel at all times has been such an influence in my life!

I love you so much! I'll look forward to your email next week! I hope you have a good one!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Hey Dad!!!

Haha so guess what? Elder Griffin is technically a Spanish missionary, so he's been teaching me some more Spanish today, and he taught me the word for gift - don. It made me remember that song "Don Gato" and I remember almost all of it!! That song hasn't crossed my mind for at least a year, but I guess when something's important, it sticks! :)

Yah, we didn't do a thing for Pioneer's Day - no worries though! I'm glad sacrament meeting went well! It sounds like those talks were really good! So Elder Griffin is actually more senior than I am! He's been out about 18 months. It's really fun to work with him; I feel like we're able to just help each other be better, instead of one of us dragging the other down, or both being dragged at the same time, you know? I don't remember if I mentioned this, but he's the one whose uncle teaches Book of Mormon at BYU. It's definitely another companion that I think will be one of my good friends for a long time!

That's a super cool quote!!! I really like especially how you said that sometimes those things that go wrong are actually things that go right - we just can't see it at this time. Thank you for sharing that with me! I've definitely seen how God is there to turn bad situations into good ones and to help and support us when things are "going wrong".

Thank you so much for the email!! I love you so much, and I'm so grateful for all you do for me! Let me know if I can do anything for you! Sorry it was a long Bishop-ing week; if you're ever wondering, you're an incredible Bishop! The ward loves you, and the love you show to each of the members is incredible. That ward is lucky to have such an inspired and loving and approachable Bishop! Thank you for the good example of leadership you give me!

Have a wonderful week!!

Elder Connor Hopkin

Elder Griffin and Elder Hopkin
July 25, 2016

Week 49--More Change--An Ongoing Theme For This Mission Thing

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

So, I am pretty low on time, but I do have a little! So!

Transfers have been pretty crazy! We sent out all the calls yesterday, and we're trying to keep people more informed than last transfer, so I've spent basically the whole day texting people what they need to do, while trying to not tell them what to's been fun :) We took a bus out to Oakland this morning to pick up our 18 missionaries - they seem awesome!! I took half of them to downtown Modesto in our big van (which is super fun to drive!) and we met some interesting people. I was able to spend some time with a couple of the Elders and reminisce on my first time street contacting. It's weird being the "experienced one" this time, cause I still don't know what I'm doing :) I'll let you know next week how the rest of the day turns out!

Elder Lopez has 1 more transfer, and Elder Maxwell has 2. Elder Maxwell is probably going to train two missionaries at the same time and be a district leader :) My next companion is going to be Elder Griffin!!!!! I'm SOOOO excited!!! He's the one that was Elder Lopez's companion when he was my district leader in Tracy that first transfer. We lived together for those 6 weeks and he's one of my best friends, and I'm stoked :) I'm gonna miss Elder Maxwell though, he was an awesome companion!

I'm out so I gotta go. Thank you so much for the updates and the thoughts, I loved them!! Thanks for the support and that last paragraph especially - that was a super good reminder. I love you so much! Sorry this is so short, I keep getting caught with things to do :) I hope you have a wonderful week, and know how much I love you!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Oh, one more: Elder Griffin and I will be covering the YSA ward now...I'm so scared :) Elders Elliott and Feltman are taking over Riverbank; they had been serving in YSA; we just swapped areas. WISH ME LUCK! :)

I also got this picture sent from Sister Palmer on Monday evening. I love, love, love this one--it shows his awesome, contagious smile!

Elder Hopkin
Monday, July 18, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Week 48

Hi Mom!!!!!

No worries about it being a little late! It was super good timing! Haha I've also noticed how much I've had to change and move around - Heavenly Father has a pretty good sense of humor :) I think I am getting at least a little bit better at it - I hope. I'm just nervous for whatever I get next :) So my week was pretty good! We did some organizing in our new house; we had to stuff 4 rooms and 2 living rooms worth of furniture into 3 rooms and 1 living room. We have five bunk beds for the new missionaries to sleep on, so one of our rooms has three bunk beds in it. Only the skinniest missionaries will be able to get into the closet, and some of them will have to squeeze back into their bunk :) We got to teach a couple of our investigators. Nancy was sick, so we gave her a blessing and talked to her about the gospel a bit. The adversary is starting his work on her, with this sickness and a broken air conditioner, etc, but she's so open to our message. She said she feels a lot of peace when she reads the Book of Mormon. I knew she was a keeper last week when she missed a call from us, then called back to reschedule an appointment. Those are hard to come by :) Our other investigator is struggling a bit, but we hope we can continue to work with him. We found another lady that's SO friendly and funny and kind; but it's possible she's just being herself and isn't really that interested - we'll see!

All of the missionaries had interviews with President and Sister Palmer this week, and for one of the first times, the assistants got an interview too! So I spend about 5-10 minutes with President, and dang that man is good at making people feel good about themselves! :) It was really nice because I had a couple of questions to ask him, and even though I'm around him quite a bit, it's never personal conversation. So that was one of the highlights this week. I also got to spend a day with one of the zone leader companionships. One of them came out with me, so that was lots of fun. The other came out a transfer after me, and I learned so much from him about truly listening to people and caring about them; he's super good at it. Let's see....oh, today, I was in Burlington and ran to the bathroom; I walked into one of the stalls, and there was a guy in there! So I hurriedly closed the door, and he started talking to me - straight up having a conversation! With very profane language! "Haha that made my day! You should have seen the look on your face! That's why they need to put locks on these stalls! I'm just sitting here having a good time! Going to the bathroom and the internet - my favorite pastime!" Etc. Include various swearwords as you wish... probably about 3 per sentence would be accurate :)

Dang, marriages?!? That's so weird! Maddie sent me an update last week about all the people getting married, and...dang it's crazy! That sounds like lots of fun though!!

This week should be fun; we get to talk a lot about transfers. There are 17 missionaries coming in, so we need to find that many trainers. And we'll be figuring out my next companion. Ah scary stuff! I'll need the prayers, so thank you!! That's a really cool thought from sacrament meeting! And from How Firm A Foundation! Thank you for that - that was a super good reminder for me. I needed it! Kinda along with those thoughts, I found another favorite hymn today! It's #129, Where Can I Turn For Peace?

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace?
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows, where, when I languish,
Where, when I need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish,
Who, who can understand? He, only One.

He answers privately, reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace He finds for my beseeching
Constant He is and kind, love without end.

I've found that as much as others can help lift and comfort, really it's Christ and our Heavenly Father that bring the true comfort. He suffered Gethsemane so that when we're going through our own personal struggles and trials, He can be our Savior and Friend. As you explained, He is always there to meet us and help us where we are.

Again, next week is transfers, so I might not get much, if any, time to email on Monday. Especially with 17 new missionaries :/ I'll do my best though!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for everything!!! I love you so much! I hope you have an incredible week! Thanks for being such an incredible Mom!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Elder Hopkin and Elder Maxwell

"This is that service project we did for the Pentecostal guy - moving this gravel from next door into his backyard. Fun stuff! Here's the cool part: We finished this last Saturday, and he said something like, "You know, I've never wanted to learn anything about your religion because I didn't want to get in an argument. But I'm really curious now! I'll feed you lunch and we can talk a bit!" So he's still not about to change or anything, but we were able to have a really good conversation with him and his wife about some of our beliefs and some of theirs and help them understand a little more!!"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Week 47

I got this picture on Sunday morning from Sister Palmer. It always makes my day to see pictures come across my email or on a text.

 Sunday, July 3, 2016
Elder Maxwell and Elder Hopkin
Modesto, CA
Hi Mom!!!! :)

Yah, there are a lot of new missionaries coming in this transfer - I think we're sitting at about 17 right now. Should be fun! I'll probably be getting a new companion this transfer, and that'll add a little to the stress. But that's not for 2 more weeks, so I've got a little time! :) To answer your question, I feel like I'm getting the hang of some things, and other times I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing :) The duties with my assignment are so random that new things come up all the time! That's super nice of Sister Palmer!

So... I think I told you about Nancy right? The super funny lady that we met as a street contact? We got to teach her this week, and she seems super prepared! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, and she was like "Oh, I haven't heard that before!" then moved on as if she already accepted it! She's been reading quite a bit in the Book of Mormon too! Her dog got sick and she's out of town now, so we haven't gotten to teach her recently, but I'm super excited about her! Other than that, not a whole lot happened this week I think... I went on an exchange with my district leader, which was fun. Elder Maxwell found a new investigator that day that I haven't met yet :) Apparently she's going to the army soon so we won't get to teach her lots. The most eventful thing this week is that we moved! And I decided I'm never moving again in my life! :) Dang that does not fit with my personality! So we started moving stuff on Friday and did more on Saturday and cleaned a lot today and need to finish cleaning tomorrow. Ugh! But it's almost done! And I really like our new place - it's a little smaller but a lot nicer. And it's only 2 minutes away from the mission office as compared to 15. So a step up for sure! I think that's about it for the week!

Camp Cuz sounds like it's going to be fun! I wish I could be there, but I think that'll be good for some of the other kids to be the oldest. That's kinda weird that Cooper and Kaleb won't be there either! That all sounds a LOT like our family...that's pretty funny! :) Dang I can't believe about Alisha! That's so exciting!

So we spent a lot of time cleaning today, and we had a 4th of July barbeque with the Manteca zone, my old place! It's been fun to hang out with the missionaries here! But I'm a little low on time now. And I was just informed of an official email time restriction, which is about half an hour less than I'm used my emails might be a little shorter now. Thank you so much for the email and the spiritual thoughts! I love those scriptures! I need to study Alma 38 again - it's so good!

Oh, super quick! My companion and I did some service for a retired Pentecostal pastor on Saturday. He isn't interested in learning about the gospel, but he's such a nice man, and it was a great experience serving him. He said that he and his wife prayed for us and he blessed us a couple times and he said that few things have touched his heart like this service did. And all we did was move gravel into his yard! :) It was an incredible reminder of how service can touch people's hearts and hopefully prepare them to hear the gospel, and of how there are so many good and kind people out there!

Well I should go. Thank you so much for everything; I love you so much! I hope you have an awesome week, and I'll be looking forward to your email! :) I LOVE YOU!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)