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 :)
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!
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!