Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 59

I got these four pictures from Sister Palmer today on my email. Looks like they went to Yosemite for P-Day, and it looks like this is a place that I need to visit at some point.

Elder Hopkin and Elder Griffin
Yosemite National Park
Monday, September 26, 2016

And, here is Connor's letter and a few more pictures that he sent. Love hearing from him and seeing his face.

Hi Mom!!!!!!!! :) I think I've said that 59 times!

So I'll start with updates. Kevin got baptized!!!! :) It was literally a miracle to watch the whole process. As you may remember, he used to be so sick that he couldn't walk. Some missionaries (one of whom I served around for a while) found him about two years ago, and worked with him for a while. He wasn't quite ready to be baptized yet, and went on and off for a couple years, until Elders Elliott and Feltman found him again when they served in this area. We came in a couple months ago and started teaching him, and just weren't sure if it was possible for him to make it to church, be baptized, etc. But a while ago, his strength started returning, and we committed him to be baptized on October 1st. Because of General Conference though, he would have had to be confirmed a week later, so we brought it up to him and he decided to change it to September 24th! Even more incredible than his physical progression was the miracle of his conversion. His testimony became stronger and stronger, and he has expressed to us how this church just fills him with an indescribable joy. It's been such an incredible blessing to be his friend and teach him more of the gospel!

So that was pretty good :) Let's see....this week we went on exchanges with a couple of really cool zone leaders! We went to Yosemite today, which was a blast!! We had a trainer/new missionary meeting...there are about 60 missionaries that are either in their first two transfers, or are training - almost half the mission! So that was an intense meeting :) Oh, and a kid from one of my old wards, that I got to know pretty well, is serving here as a missionary for two weeks in preparation for his mission, so I was able to see him and talk to him for a little! And...I think that's all!

Thank you for the thoughts from President Uchtdorf! I'll have to check that out! I really like what he said about making sure that we're faithfully doing His will, not "faithfully" trying to conform His will to ours. Also how faith comes to the humble, the diligent, and the enduring...I need to work on some of those :) I also love what you said how it helps us get through our challenges when we have nothing else to help. Our belief and trust in His love and power allows us to have hope that no matter what, He will help things to work out for our gain.

Thank you so much for your email!!! I love them always!! I gotta go, but I love you so much, and I always appreciate all of the love and support you give me! I pray for you all the time as well, and I appreciate your prayers so much! I love you!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

 Kevin's baptism!!!!!! :) Me, Elder Griffin, KEVIN, Jacob (our ward mission leader), Elder Elliott, Elder Feltman

Me at Yosemite!

Kevin's boa constrictor....I thought you'd like this one ;)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 58

Hi Mom!!!!!!! :)

It's so good to hear from you!!! Thank you for your thoughts on charity - those were very profound. I wrote in my study journal that part about how charity is the Atonement and our acceptance and application of it. I'm gonna have to ponder that one... thanks for that! And I'll make sure to read Moroni 7 soon :) I know, Christmas is coming up soon huh?? I realized how perfect the timing is for our phone calls home - my first was about 4 months into my mission, and my last will be about 3 months before I come home. I'm already excited for our next one :) The weather has been getting pretty nice. It's a little up and down right now, but it should be getting pretty good soon. I'll be thinking about a always send perfect stuff anyways....but I'll let you know if I think of anything! That is SO COOL about Tim and Jen coming up!!! Let me know how that goes! That's going to be such an incredible opportunity for them to feel the Spirit, and it will open so many chances for you guys to share your testimony. They would be such good Mormons :)

Let's see. We've had several lessons with our investigator, Kevin. He's progressing really well; it's been amazing to see the change in him recently. He was always such a good guy and wanted to do what's right, but he's become even more willing to listen and learn and act. He came to church and I realized I wasn't even worried if someone said something weird (which I tend to worry about) because he's so good. It's been fun to teach him because he's very smart and soaks things in pretty quick, so we go a little deeper with him than we typically would with others. We also found another investigator this week, a super cool girl that grew up Catholic and now relates more with Buddhism and now is very open to read the Book of Mormon and learn about the gospel! :) We had a couple of zone conferences this week, which are always fun opportunities to see other missionaries. President Palmer talked about how we as a missionary, as a companionship, and as a mission, need to have high love and high expectations - low measures of either or both of those attributes don't suffice. So I'm trying to love more and have higher expectations for myself and the Lord's work in this area. I got to go on exchanges with one of the Lodi zone leaders this week, which was lots of fun - he's very humble and loving and a super good teacher! Oh, this morning I figured the computers would be full for a while, so I brought my piano music with me and played for about an hour while Elder Griffin wrote letters - ah it felt so good! I started remembering how good it feels to just sit down and play for a couple hours. I get the chance to play here and there for meetings, but never real music like those books have. I also hopped on the organ for the first time in forever and that was fun too! So it's been a pretty good day! :)

Someone said something really cool about listening at church yesterday: "Don't listen to respond; listen to understand." So many times I listen just so I know what I should say next so I'm not overly awkward :) But when we really listen to someone, and strive to understand them in love, I think the Spirit helps us understand them better. And the Savior showed us by His perfect example that when we truly understand someone, we truly love them. So I'm going to try to be better at really loving people and genuinely listening to them so I can love them more.

Thank you SO much for everything!! I love you so much, and appreciate all you do more than you know. We had a lesson in church about the family and I remembered how well you exemplify being the mother that the Lord wants you to be. I miss you lots but I love getting your emails, and I'll talk to you in a few months :):) I hope you have a really good week, and I'll be looking forward to hearing from you next week! I LOVE YOU!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 57--Follow The Promptings Of The Spirit

Hi Mom!!! :)

Thank you for your email! That talk is so good, and I had forgotten about it! Haha I can imagine typing that up on a phone...thank you for your dedication :) That was a good reminder for me! Sounds like a super fun week!! Dang, I wish I could have been there! I was in Spirit though I guess... Yah you'll have to send me some pictures, I'm dying to see them! I'm so glad they're so happy! Sounds like I prepared her well for that honeymoon trip huh? I've been the guinea pig from day 1...that was sneaky of her :) Hailey's getting married?? What?! That's so weird! That's fun Bryn got to go. Looks like Ethan and Makaeli had good weeks too...I'm glad her team is doing a bit better! The win streak will start soon :)

We had a pretty good week! A couple lessons with our investigator Kevin - he's doing well! If you could keep him in your prayers, that would be wonderful! He's such a good guy; his biggest desire is to follow Christ and make the right decisions. The biggest thing has just been helping him find that this is the only true way to draw closer to the Savior. Plus...he has a huge boa constrictor - my kind of guy :) I got to go on exchanges with Elder Stock and Elder Anderson (both in the picture above). Elder Stock is such a stinking well-prepared missionary - he's been out 8 weeks and is so solid! And Elder Anderson was in my MTC district, so it was a blast to spend a day with him! Elder Griffin and I got some good-looking haircuts from our friend in the YSA ward today :) We've got a zone conference coming up this week, so we've been pretty busy organizing that. Speaking of, we're leading a training on following the Spirit, which leads to my thought:

I've missed sooooo many spiritual promptings on my mission, it's sad...I hate to think of the people I missed because I wasn't paying attention or was too prideful to listen to the Spirit. The other day with Elder Stock though, we had a cool experience following promptings. We were biking down a major street, and I had the thought to turn right onto a residential street and see what we could find. I fought it pretty hard for a little, then asked Elder Stock if we could turn around. We went down the street and found a guy watering his lawn.....very uninterested. We felt like we should knock a door, and the woman told us to come back later that night! We did...and she wasn't interested :) But! We knocked another house and while she was quieting her dogs, I had the thought to bring up family history. As a mission, we're trying to use that finding technique a little more frequently, so I thought I'd try it out. I asked her if she'd be interested, and she told us that she got stuck on her family line years ago and had given up, but she's been ordering materials and records recently. She said she was very interested in trying our Church's resources, and maybe even her husband would be! We're hoping she'll be able to come in soon! That story was a little anticlimactic, I know....but! It was amazing to see how the Spirit put thoughts in our minds that helped lead us to people that we were able to hopefully provide a good touchpoint for. He knows exactly where they are and what they need, and it's our job to ask Him and follow Him when He directs. I'm really trying to be better at it. I've learned that as we pray and do the things in our lives that will invite the Spirit, He has been promised to us to help us with our own personal trials and with our efforts to bless the lives of others. I'm so grateful for that gift that Heavenly Father has given each one of us!

Quick favor: next time you send a package (please don't worry about sending one just for this) could you please buy and include a personal hymnbook? I have one in my house now, but I won't have it when I leave, and it's a pretty big tool in this mission! You could maybe just draw some money from my account, or I'd even love that to be like a Christmas present if you want...however you want to do it! Thank you :)

I hope you have an incredible week! Thank you so much you do for me!!!! I miss you, and I always look forward to your emails - they make my day :) I love you so much!!! I hope you have a great week!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Me with my wedding tie on September 8th - and a couple missionaries! :) Elders Stock, Jones, me, Anderson, Sandstrom! They're the best!

Menchie's run a couple weeks ago, the night before they took off for home! Super good missionaries in that group!

Week 56

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Thank you so much for the email! It means a lot to me that you email me so much; it's given me so much support and help over the last 13 months! I'm so glad Makaeli's games went well...I hope they're able to keep that going!! And that's exciting for Dad! It's kinda hard to imagine them not keeping him huh? :) Keep me updated on Cooper! I'll be anxious to hear where he's going! And I haven't even worn the tie yet - I decided I'd keep it special for that day. Ahh that's so exciting! It'll be fun to meet and get to know him when I get back. They could have a kid by that time huh?? :)

Well, we didn't have much of a preparation day again :) There was a Sister coming from Mexico waiting for her visa, so we went out to pick her up. We have permission to email a little late, but I should probably keep it pretty short... I don't really even remember what happened this week! On Wednesday we sent out the departing missionaries, including Elder weird! Elder Maxwell and Elder Roudabush go home this transfer too, and I'll probably still be around for that! The travel plans for one of the elders going home got messed up, so we had to make a last-minute trip to San Fransisco to drop him off - it was SO cool!! :) Let's see....we taught Kevin several times this week, and he came down to Modesto for church! Super exciting! He's becoming a really good friend of mine and Elder Griffin's. Speaking of Elder Griffin, I'm so blessed to have him as a companion! He's so good :)

Oh, I forgot to tell you! Elder Jones (my previous companion) is our district leader!!! We had a super good district meeting on Thursday about faith. We're going on exchanges with him and his companion this week, which will be lots of fun! Our ward here is warming up to us more and more, I think. We're starting to make good friends with several of them. They're all so friendly and teachable and willing to help with missionary work - it's been so much fun serving here!

Quick thought: Yesterday in church, our awesome ward mission leader was teaching the gospel principles class, and the promise of the Book of Mormon came up. He asked Kevin, who was there, "What would you think if the missionaries said 'Here's the Book of Mormon - it's true, because my parents said it was!'" and Kevin was like, "Uh....I wouldn't be sitting here" :) Then our teacher said "But what happens when they say 'I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is true?'" and Kevin said, "I don't can just feel it!". It really helped me realize that when we bear testimony from our heart and from our own personal experience, the Spirit really does bear witness. I sometimes doubt that, because I'm not always on a spiritual high during lessons. But the Lord has promised that when any of us bear testimony, the Spirit will confirm our words. Also, I know that people truly can read the Book of Mormon and receive that witness from the Spirit that it is the word of God. The Book of Mormon has blessed my life and strengthened my testimony in so many ways!

Well, thanks again for everything you do for me! I love you so much! I hope you always remember and recognize just how incredible you are. I'm so blessed to have you as my Mom! I love you SO much!!!! Have a fantastic week! You're always in my prayers! You're the best :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :):)