Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 63

Hi Mom!!!!!!! :)

Well I don't think my week was anywhere near as eventful as yours! That's crazy! I'm glad things are going well, but I'll definitely be keeping that in my prayers! And giving a sacrament meeting talk through all that? Dang! Proof you're as strong as you seem :) Yah....15 months! It's starting to get real. Here's a little perspective: if President's trend holds, Elder Eagar will be an assistant for two transfers after this, then he'll train for two transfers and go home, then I'll be in the mission for two more transfers, then go home. Another crazy thing: The sister that came in with me leaves in two transfers after this! Elder Griffin takes off in one after this....AH! Anyways, I'll stop thinking about that! I still have a full-length pregnancy to go, and you know more than I that that's a lifetime :)

I'm still enjoying my companions a ton! We're getting to know each other better, so we teach in more unity, and we get along super well (mostly because of them to be honest). Elder Grover is from Wyoming, Elder Eagar is from Arizona, and Elder Griffin is from Colorado. All close enough :)

AHHH I wish I was there for your talk! That's too bad you got cut short. Dad said your talk was the highlight of the meeting, which doesn't surprise me :) It sounds like it was fantastic! I've definitely been striving to develop more charity myself. As soon as I feel I'm figuring it out, I realize I'm completely uncharitable in another aspect. Life-long process, right? :) Funny story: our first counselor called us 3 into a side room and asked us all to give talks next month. He said "Well, on the 13th the topic is Parables; on the 20th the topic is Faith; on the 27th the topic is choose! And before I knew it, Elder Eagar had taken gratitude and Elder Grover had taken faith, and I'm stuck trying to come up with a talk about parables! What?! That'll be fun I guess.

Thank you so much for putting together a package for me. You don't know how much I love those! I'll be looking forward to it! Thank you!! :) And I'm excited for the party pictures! Come on, you couldn't tell me? Who am I gonna tell? ;) I guess I'll have to wait till next week........... :)

Um, as far as updates go.....we had to drop a couple investigators. So we're down to approximately 0! The missionaries in the area have been sending us tons of referrals, so hopefully we'll be able to find some more people that are willing to listen. We went on exchanges with our district leader and his companion. Elder Smith came with me and Elder Eagar into our area, and it was a blast. He's a super impressive new missionary - I was very surprised! He knows the scriptures very well, and every time he taught or testified, the Spirit was present. It was pretty cool! I realized that I trained Elder Jones, who trained Elder Stock, who's training Elder Smith. So I have a little connection to him :) We went to a zone breakfast on Saturday at a high council member's home, and I got to play some ping-pong with Elder Eagar! Other than that I don't think too much happened...sorry for the boring update! For studies this week though, I read through the chapter headings of the Book of Mormon, which was super cool! I was trying to get a better feel for where everything is, but I was able to also notice some trends of the Book of Mormon. First, and obviously, I noticed just how much the Book points to Christ and to joy and happiness through Him. I also noticed the overall theme that God ALWAYS supports and blesses those who keep the commandments, but those that fail to do so don't receive those blessings. It was a cool study!

Thank you so much for your compliments and your thoughts and your updates! I love it so much, and it means so much to me! You're such an indescribable blessing in my life. Thank you for everything you do for me! I love you so much! I know God loves you and is so thankful for and so proud of the ways you bless people's lives and show your love to Him. You're always in my prayers, and I'll be sure to add your predicament this week :) Good luck with everything! I love you!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Also, this week I sent a package to Connor and his companions for Halloween. It was fun to put together. He had asked for a small hymnal and a pocket-sized dictionary and a bunch of snack foods he could take with him on the go. He also wanted a "little bit" of Halloween candy. So, I complied and also sent a couple of other things just for fun. It is times like these that I am glad he is in California--it ended up being pretty heavy, but only cost me $20 to send it. Took some pictures for the memory books. They should've received it at the end of the week (another perk of being so close to home). Hope they enjoyed it!

The final product just before sealing it up and mailing it off. Looks festive!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Week 62

Hello Mom!!!! :)

It's so good to hear from you!! I love the updates as always, and I love hearing your voice (reading your words) :) Thank you for your thoughts from church, and Zach's talk! Your thoughts on covenants reminded me of something a girl said in church a while ago. We were counselling about covenants, and she made the point that the fact that God makes covenants with us shows that He trusts us. He wouldn't ask us to promise something if He didn't think we could follow through. And, He is there to help us when we can't keep them on our own. I loved what you said about how they help us to connect to Him, and how they bring us so many countless blessings!

This week has been lots of fun! I'm loving my new companions! It's a little hard to get to know them both as much as I had my last companions, because there are three of us, but I think I'll come closer to these two in this situation than I could anyone else. They're fantastic! We had some fun times finishing up transfers together. Elder Maxwell went home last week, so I got to spend some time talking to him the night before. Elder Griffin is doing well in his threesome as well! Yesterday it rained super hard, and we were in a car because we had a pretty long drive to make. As we were driving through Modesto, we saw Elder Griffin and his two companions biking in the crazy rain, and rolled down the window to say hi, and Elder Griffin yelled "You lucky punks!!... I love you! Have a great day!" :) Pretty typical for him! On Friday, we did a service project out on a farm, baling hay; it was a pretty new experience for me, but it was lots of fun!! We had a great lesson with Kevin this week; he's doing phenomenal! So....I guess that's my update!

Ah, I wish I could be there for your talk!! You bear such sincere and humble testimony, and it brings the Spirit so strong! You might not think you're dynamic, but from what I remember of your talks and testimonies, they're always very powerful, because you share what's in your heart. I'll keep you in my prayers as you're preparing for that, and I'll look forward to hearing all about it :) As far as my thoughts go.... Hm. Well, I was actually thinking about sending out a group email today, kind of along those lines, so I guess I'll make sure that happens this week! I have noticed as I've studied, that charity is key and central to our becoming like Christ, and receiving salvation someday. In Moroni 7:48, it says "Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love....that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." From that scripture, I think to truly see Christ and know who He is, we need to understand Him by becoming like Him - through charity. Our baptismal covenant includes that we will mourn with those that mourn and show love and charity to those that need it; and as we keep that covenant, we are cleansed and purified. So as we demonstrate charity, we receive remission of sins, and then receive eternal life. Also from that scripture, I've learned that charity is a gift from God. We can only develop it by trying our best, and then relying on God to change our hearts (as you've taught me) to become more charitable. Just a couple thoughts - I hope they make sense :)

Oh, I just remembered! If you haven't already sent a package or anything, could you include a little dictionary in there? Just one I can keep at my desk? President Palmer is big into understanding what words mean, and I really like it! So it's nice to have one on hand. If that's inconvenient, Elder Griffin said I could have his when he goes home, so no worries!

Well, thank you so much for the wonderful email, again! I'm so blessed to be your son! Thank you for the love you always show me! I'm so grateful for you! I hope your week goes great - good luck with the talk next week! I love and miss you so much!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Oh! Just a fun little update! Last transfer, Elder Jones was my district leader, and he was in his second transfer training a new missionary, Elder Stock. This transfer, Elder Jones is a zone leader with Elder Feltman, and Elder Stock is now a trainer, and my district leader - and he's only been out 3 months! Fun stuff :) Love you! :)

I also am posting the group letter that he sent this week for those who are not on that email list. It was a great one, I think!

Hi everyone! Transfer week just ended, so I wanted to send an update and a quick thought! My previous companion, Elder Griffin, got moved back to Spanish work; he's in a companionship with another Elder that's been out for a little bit, and he's also training a great new missionary. I got two new great companions this transfer - Elder Grover and Elder Eagar. Elder Grover came out with me, and I've always wanted to be his companion; he's been a really good friend of mine for a while now. Elder Eagar has been out about a year and a half; he's a Spanish missionary, but there was an odd number of missionaries this transfer, so he's with us in English work! He's a super nice and humble Elder - I'm really excited to work with both of them! We're still in the YSA ward here, which I'm continuing to really enjoy! I've made some great friends there, and I've taught some incredible people!

Lately, I've been loving hymn #230 - Scatter Sunshine. The first and second verses especially have taught me a lot:
"In a world where sorrow ever will be known, Where are found the needy and the sad and lone,
How much joy and comfort you can all bestow, If you scatter sunshine everywhere you go.
Scatter sunshine all along your way. Cheer and bless and brighten every passing day.
Slightest actions often meet the sorest needs, For the world wants daily little kindly deeds.
Oh, what care and sorrow you may help remove With your songs of courage, sympathy, and love.
Scatter sunshine all along your way. Cheer and bless and brighten every passing day."

Several months ago, one of my zone leaders really blessed my life by teaching me to look for every opportunity to bless and lift those around me. He set such an incredible example of always loving others and being a light and a support to each of the missionaries he was around. He went out of his way to turn outwards and serve others. As I've tried to follow his example, I've found myself be more happy and content with the blessings I have. I'm still working on it, but I've felt more and more charity and love for others as I've done so. My mission president has repeatedly reminded us all of Doctrine and Covenants 108:7, which says, "Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings." We have promised to bear one another's burdens, and mourn with those that mourn, and we can do that by looking for those that are struggling and need help, and lifting them up. As I thought about this hymn, I realized that sunshine can symbolize the light and love that our Savior gives us and all of God's children. He loves each one of us perfectly, and He tends to use us to help others feel of that love. We can be instruments in His hands to do what He would if He were here. And when we strengthen or support another, we really are serving Him, the one that sacrifice all for us. Our "slightest actions" of encouraging words, sincerely listening, or other acts of service can truly make the biggest difference in the lives of those that are going through trials. I know as we turn outward, our Heavenly Father blesses us more than we ever could receive if we were putting our efforts towards ourselves.

Thank you all for the little and big acts of service that you have given to me and my family! It has made a bigger difference than you know. Thank you for your support and love! I love you all!

Elder Hopkin

Week 61--Transfers, But Staying Put

Here is Connor's letter for the week. Elder Griffin was transferred back to the field and Connor got two new Assistant companions. Although I think he will really miss Elder Griffin, he is excited to work with the new companions that are coming in. I am sure it helps a little that he gets to participate in choosing who his new companions will be, along with the Mission President--and the guidance of the Spirit, of course. :)

Hi Mom!!! :)

Ahh it sounds like so much good stuff is going on back home! I loved reading those updates! I'm SO happy for Makaeli! And I'm so glad Bryn's birthday party was such a great experience - that's so crazy she'll be 16 now! Dang!! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with Tim and Jen. I loved how you said that you felt peace and confidence, just knowing in your heart that this is true! That's such a good feeling! Usually I'm able to feel that confidence, and just have no reservations about sharing the gospel; I'm still strengthening my testimony though, and every once in a while I doubt just a tiny bit. It feels so good though, to tell people "I know that this is true and will bless your life". I feel like I'm getting to the point where I can truly say that. I've had so so many experiences that have basically proven to me how true this church is; my testimony wall, built out of experience bricks, is getting taller and thicker :) That's so incredible that you got to share your testimony with them, and that's so exciting that Jen will hopefully read the Book of Mormon! :)

So I'm low on time - it's been a little crazy today. A good crazy though! We did transfer calls last night, and picked up the new missionaries this morning. I like them a lot :) Elder Griffin will be serving in Modesto with a couple other companions, and I'm getting two new companions as well! Elder Grover (I might have mentioned him here and there - he came out with me; I've always wanted to be his companion) and Elder Eagar (who has to be one of the most humble and kind people ever). So I'm pretty excited. I don't know if anything can beat Elder Griffin, but they're a pretty great replacement :) We'll keep serving in the YSA ward here. So it should be fun! :)

I've really seen recently how much God listens to us and answers our prayers. I've asked him for lots of blessings and asked Him lots of questions recently, and my testimony of prayer and fasting and revelation has been strengthened so much. He really is there for us in good and bad times. He allows trials to come our way so we can learn and draw closer to Him. No matter what, everything He does is solely for our eternal happiness. I've been seeing that a lot! :)

Thanks again for the updates and the email and the uplifting thoughts! These emails make my day - it's always so good to hear from you! I love you so so so much, and I'm so grateful for you! Please stay safe, and be happy - for me :) I look forward to hearing from you again! You're my favorite :) I LOVE YOU!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Also got two photos this week from Sister Palmer. So good to see him with his new companions.

 Elder Hopkin, Sister Palmer, Elder Grover, President Palmer, Elder Eager
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breakfast at Black Bear Diner, Modesto, California
Elder Grover, Elder Hopkin, Elder Eager
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 60--14 Months Down...10 MonthsTo Go...

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Thank you so so much for the prayers and service you gave for Kevin - that means a lot to me, and I'll let him know! I'm sure he'll be very appreciative! And thank you for continuing to pray for those I've taught in the past! We were able to talk to Kevin a little bit after conference, and he told us all these things that he learned and how much he enjoyed it - it was super cool. That sounds like it was a super fun weekend for you all - I'm just a tiny jealous :) Thanks for the pictures though - it's good to see Tim and Jen, if only through that. Can you tell them hi for me, and also thank them for the blessing they've been in my life, please? Thanks :) I hope the rest of your week with them continues to be a blast!

That is crazy that Makaeli's a senior, and starting all this new stuff - ah! I don't know if it helps at all, and I know you know this, but you don't stop being our Mom after we leave :) You've continued to bless and help me here in ways I can't even describe. And I'm sincerely so grateful that I have a mom that has taught me all that she needed to enable me to make good decisions, and that she continues to do so. I hope I can show you by the choices I make how much I appreciate the lessons and love you've shown me. That talk by Elder Nattress reminded me of you; I hope I wasn't ever as snotty as he was :) but it reminded me of your dedication and commitment to always teach and love us whether we listened or not; and no matter what, it has made and still makes a huge difference. :) Anyways, I hope Makaeli's game goes well - I'll make sure to pray for her! I don't know if I'd be happier about her winning or about Mountain View losing :) this week, we watched General Conference. We went out to Oakland to pick up a mid-transfer missionary that had been waiting for his visa in Europe - he's a super cool Elder!! We had a super good mission leadership council - one of the most powerful meetings I've been in on my mission! I also got to go on exchanges with Elder Elliott, my MTC companion! Lots of fun! Um...other than that, not a whole lot happened this week! To make up for the lack of events, I'll tell you Elder Griffin's and my new inside joke :) He's been telling me what to do before I even do it, when he knows that I have to anyways - it's so degrading! :) For example, the light will turn red, and he'll say (in a humiliatingly off-hand and authoritative way) "Stop the car." And I have to stop! I'll be about to walk inside the house, and right as I touch the handle, he'll say "Open the door." However, I got him back really good! He HATES Christmas music cause it makes him homesick and he always changes it when a Christmas song comes on. So I turned on Joy to the World and said "Change the song." And he had to :)

As far as transfers go this week, I'm probably staying. Elder Griffin has just two transfers left, and President wants him to train. So I probably get at least another transfer here! I'll send the more accurate update next week :)

General Conference was SO good!! I'm gonna have a hard time consolidating my thoughts, but I loved Elder Ballard's talk! I've been pondering along that same topic, and he put everything I've been thinking about into words. I loved how he quoted you: "Things tend to work themselves out" :) But I've started to understand what he said about how sometimes it needs to be enough to just believe and trust, and not know for sure. Whenever I feel that my testimony is slacking a little, I think to myself, "Where else would I go? Haven't I seen so many evidences already? Where else will I find the joy I have here?" So I really appreciated his. I missed some of President Nelson's, but I loved how he taught that we can find joy because of what's in our hearts rather than what our situation is. President Palmer likes to say that we have agency, so we are able to choose our emotions. No one can make us feel anything. I've had a couple nights recently where I'm in a bad mood, and with lots of effort, I've tried to count my blessings and see things with more optimism - and it works! I also loved the emphasis on coming to Christ and truly knowing him, and on the Spirit-bringing actions of prayer and reading the Book of Mormon. And, like I already told you, I loved Elder Nattress's talk - I felt that he was just pouring his soul out to everyone, and it brought the Spirit.

So, I was thinking about your question about the package... I loved that package you sent in my first transfer with the granola bars and trail mix, etc. That kind of snack food is perfect! So, whenever your next one is, I would love a little snack food. And, a litttttle bit of candy never hurts :) But really whatever you want!! I appreciate them no matter what!!

Well, thank you so much for everything you do for me! I love you so much! And I miss you too :) THANK YOU for being such an incredible mother. Thanks for your prayers and your support! I love you!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)