Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 68--A Great 1st Week In The New Area

So, I think I may have mentioned before that I am part of a Missionary Mamma's Facebook group. It is basically a support group for parents who have sons and daughters currently serving missions. It has been a good resource for me and I have appreciated being a part of it. Well, on Saturday night (November 26th) I was scrolling through Facebook and found this picture that had been posted to that page by a member in Connor's new area that had just fed the Elders dinner. I was so happy!! This is Connor with his new companion, Elder Lopiano. His email this week was so positive--he is enjoying his companion and his new area. That makes me just as happy as the picture did.

Elder Hopkin and Elder Lopiano
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hi Mom!!!!!

So, first update: our zone has a lot of missionaries and not lots of computers, so I have less time than normal! Yay! I might get extra later though! So I just wanted to let you know :) I hope that wasn't a bad way to start :)

I'm loving this transfer already!! It's been so great so far! At first I had what Elder Griffin called "Assistant withdrawals", where I missed President and Sister Palmer and knowing the whole mission, and my nice house and great companions. But I got over it pretty quickly, and I'm seeing how much of a blessing this transfer will be. My companion is fantastic! We get along super well! He has given me so many meaningful compliments, and I've watched him do the kindest things for homeless people around here, and I've learned a lot from him. And he says he's learning from me, which is good! :) Crazy fact: one day, he asked to see a picture of Katy, and I showed him and he said "Dang she's do I know her?... When was she in the MTC?" He met her in the MTC! If you have a couple seconds to tell her that she hung out in the MTC with my current companion, I think she'd like that :) Anyways, he's super hard working and a good teacher, and it's been great so far! This ward is so solid too. There's another set of missionaries in the ward - sisters - that have a lot of investigators, and some with a baptismal date. They've been a huge help as we've transitioned into the ward. The Bishop is very helpful - he used to be a mission president. We have a few investigators from the last elders that were here, and we set a baptismal date with one of them on Saturday! We've talked to a ton of people that seem interested. So yah! On Sunday all four of us in the ward gave talks on the missionary lessons, and I talked about the commandments. I went after Elder Lopiano, and he's a super good public speaker, so I think mine was a bit boring in comparison...but I got through it :) So, things aren't perfect always, but things are going super good so far!

Hm... I can't really think of much else. Oh, the Fraze's are in my ward, and they're having us over for Christmas, so I'll be skyping home from their place again. Ah it's getting so close, I'm so excited! :) I can't wait to see you all! I'm enjoying all the Christmas lights around :) Downtown Modesto is in our area, and we've walked around a couple times at night, and yesterday there was no one on the streets, and it was kinda chilly and just really peaceful. Modesto isn't the most gorgeous place ever, but I love it so much! Last night we talked to a homeless guy with a sweet dog, and he was super nice to us. Then this taxi driver pulled up, ran up and gave him 5 bucks, and took off. It was pretty cool! Oh yah, the place we live is right behind the place that two other elders live.... Elder Griffin and Elder Carling! So we've had some (appropriate) parties the last week :) We got fed great on Thursday, then had another Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, so we're taken care of! I did miss you though!
I guess I had a little more to say, huh? :)  Hey thanks for the quotes! Those were awesome! Is that one from Katy, or another friend? Sorry, I didn't catch the clues :) And that's so cool that Makaeli got her patriarchal blessing! That has been a help to me on my mission, for sure! Thanks for all the updates, I wish I could respond to all of them! But I'm glad things are going well at home!

Well, I love you so much! Thank you so much for all you do for me! I'm looking forward to next week's updates :) I love you!!!! Thank you for everything!!! I miss you!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

This is me and Elder Lopiano and Pablo! He's Elder Griffin and Elder Carling's pet - he's also a cactus! They've tamed him pretty well... you can pet him if you're careful, but he bites sometimes! :) They love him, but we're not the biggest fan. We'll get to know him pretty well this transfer.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Week 67--And, After 7 1/2 Months, He's Transferred! (And, it's Thanksgiving this week too).

Well, after spending 7 1/2 months as an Assistant and serving in the Mission Office, Connor was transferred this week. Sounds like it was a little bit of a crazy week--with lots of uncertainty. But, in the end, he's back out into the field in a new area with a new companion. I will be looking forward to hearing all about it in his next email this coming P-day. I am just hoping they had a Thanksgiving dinner set up somewhere. He obviously hadn't had time to set anything up himself and didn't know anyone in his new area/ward. So, hopefully this Momma's prayers were answered and they had a nice dinner with someone. I am anxious to hear about that too. Guess it is time for a change and all that comes with it. 

Hi Mom!!!!!! :)

It's so good to hear from you!! :) I'm so glad you're recovering and doing better! That's crazy that Dr. Judd is retiring - that'll be a good opportunity for you to go bless more lives in a different place now!

So, I won't prolong it :) I am getting moved. I'll be going to Modesto 6th ward, serving with Elder Lopiano. He has been out around 6 months now. Dang it's been so emotionally draining! I now understand what Elder Griffin went through last transfer :) At first it seemed that I would be staying. Then things worked out to where I would be serving in Modesto 6th with another missionary. Then we came in one morning and President had changed me back to staying, and had moved Elder Eagar (that didn't make him too happy!), then we all three were together again, then a missionary that was maybe going to go home decided to stay and made the numbers odd again, so we moved some things around, and now I'm getting transferred! AH! So, that's that! I'll be a district leader, which I'm excited and very nervous for! I'll be serving in the ward with a set of Sisters that have been there one transfer. I'll be in the same stake and zone, so it's not too drastic of a change, but I won't have a car, and I'm gonna have to get used to everything. Fun stuff! :) I had been getting a little comfortable here, I think, so it's time for another change I guess! God cares more about our growth than our comfort, right?

So I'm pretty low on time. Thank you so much for the thoughts! I loved them all! :) One quick thought I had: I was thinking about how we obey God out of love. Then I thought about why that is - why does God feel our love when we obey? The first answer is that we're doing what He asks. But then I realized: everything God asks is for our joy. And He feels joy when we feel joy. So when we obey, we make God happy because we are happy. And that shows that we love Him, because we are seeking His work and glory. I hope that made sense :) Anyways, it just made me think about obedience in a slightly different perspective.

I love and miss you so much! Thank you for all you do for me! You're such an amazing blessing to me! I'll look forward to hearing from you next week. I love you!!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Week 66--Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

Hi Mom!!!!! :)
It feels so good to be emailing you :) I'm glad your procedures are all finished up! I've been praying that you'll recover quickly and not have much pain; I hope things can get back to normal quickly! I don't know if the word is "worried", but things like this lead my brain to think how hard it would be to not have a mom, and it reminded me just how grateful I am for you and for the love that you've always given me! I'm sorry it's been a rough process :/

You'll have to send me pictures of Russel - and Matt! :) That's so exciting! He's fought the good fight for sure; it's been a big example to me to see someone that's shy like him go and preach the gospel for 2 years. I'm sure he blessed so many lives! Tell him hi for me please!

It looks like it was a fun week for everyone! They're all looking so old! I'm glad things went well with the dates. Yah, I'd love to see some pictures of Makaeli at her date! The pictures you send make my day :) I'm sure Ethan is enjoying the braces off - that was such a weird but amazing week for me!

So, the week here went quite well! Transfers are next week, so we have a busy one coming up with working on the transfer board and such. I always enjoy working on transfers, but it's so mentally exhausting. I've wondered a hundred times how President Palmer manages his busy schedule (or Dad with his bishoping schedule for that matter!). We had two 3-hour long meetings on Wednesday, and my brain was about to shrivel! I'm not sure what the plan is for me this next transfer, which is super disconcerting! My last 3 companions have known exactly when they'll be done, but President hasn't told me a thing! I even asked him and he avoided the question. So.... I guess I'll let you know next week! The thing is, I'm starting to get kinda comfortable here, so that's not a good sign :) Whatever happens, I know it'll be best for me. I had a great exchange with Elder Feltman this week. Dang he's a good missionary - one of the best in this mission. He taught me a ton! It was fun to be with him. We had a great lesson with Kevin and our ward mission leader on Friday; we talked about prophets and priesthood authority, then watched the Restoration movie. We've been getting fed super well the last few weeks, which has been a huge blessing! I love this ward a lot! The work continues to be pretty slow. Thank you for your prayers in my behalf! I've been praying as well that we'll be able to find new investigators. A lot of the ward is returned missionaries, so I think they understand, but it's a little embarrassing to get straight 0's week after week. I was talking to my companions about it last night; I really don't care if I'm supposed to teach or baptize anyone else for the rest of my mission, as long as that's what God's plan is for me here. My concern is that I feel like God's plan is for us to help people get baptized! While we could always be better, I feel like we're doing pretty well in our diligence and obedience, so I'm just kinda waiting for the success to start being seen. Witness after the trial of faith right? I do feel like I'm being the most obedient I've been on my mission, and that feels really good! I've been trying to weed out the small things, you know? Anyways, I hope that was an ok update! Sorry that got a little long :)

All that being said, I had a really cool experience on Wednesday. Backstory first: Elder Stock and I were on exchanges last transfer, and we talked to this really cool lady. We had been biking around, not having tons of success, but there was a man standing in his garage, so we went to talk to him. He wasn't interested, but there was a lady there as well, that had been hidden by a car in the driveway. We started talking to her, and she was super interested! She asked lots of good questions, and we even got to teach her a bit of the Restoration and Plan of Salvation. We passed her off to the Elders that cover that area. On Wednesday, the Elder in the area told me that she has a scheduled baptismal date! Apparently she had read James 1:5 a month before we talked to her, and had prayed for wisdom. She hadn't connected the dots until those Elders re-taught her the Restoration and mentioned that scripture. It was a really nice reminder to me that all of us do more good than we usually see.

So I learned something this week! I had talked to an elder that's super knowledgeable of the gospel, and for some reason it made me start wondering if I knew enough, etc. I was a little worried for a couple days, but on Saturday the Spirit fixed my problem :) We had a super good lesson about the Atonement with a member, and she bore a very humble but sincere testimony of her experience with the Atonement. And as she talked, I felt something that I later put into words: "The width of your knowledge is less important than the depth of your testimony." While knowledge is a Christlike attribute, I want to make sure I don't fall into the trap of just trying to understand unimportant things that won't strengthen my commitment to the Savior. I don't remember if I shared this, but last transfer, Elder Griffin and I had started talking about deep doctrine stuff, and he said something like, "It's important to make sure our desire to learn is never stronger than our desire to act." I thought that was pretty profound! Anyways, just a couple thoughts I had this week!

Well, I can't think of anything specific for Christmas... I'll let you know if anything comes to mind! Thank you :) Thanks for your thoughts on the Priesthood! I find myself not remembering enough that I hold that authority - I want to get better at exercising it more consistently. Thank you so much for the email! I'm looking forward to Christmas time! That'll be 3/4 of the way done with calls home! Crazy! :) Please stay safe and get better soon! You're always in my prayers. I love you so much! Until next week :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

"Dinner with our incredible senior couple, the Neilsons. They've been such a blessing! They're going home to Kaysville in a couple weeks, so they had us over to dinner!"

Week 65

Finally got a picture of Connor's facial hair--haha. Just one of the useless things I sent in his Halloween package. I am not sure he wanted it posted on here, but he will want it later, so I am putting it here anyway. Let's just say I hope he doesn't join the mustache trend when he returns home. I don't like mustaches on anyone--not even him. :)  (And, just for the record, I usually don't put anything on here that he asks me not to post--this one just had to be an exception.)

Elder Hopkin 
November 7, 2016

Here's the letter for this week.

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

Well, I'm glad the kidney stone is out, and I'm sorry it's not been a fun process :/ You're still in my prayers! I'm very glad though that he was able to get it all done in one surgery! I love that hymn that you reminded me of, and I think it's a great reminder that the Atonement is there for every single trial and struggle we go through - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. "When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace all sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine." I'm so grateful for the 4th, 5th, and 7th verses as well! (And once I'm old, I'm sure the 6th verse will ring true :) ). That's one of my favorite hymns too, and I think part of the reason is because you like it and share it so much! Maybe it can be our hymn, unless you want to keep it for yourself :) Anyways, I hope the recovery goes better over the next week!

So I'm kind of freaking out that Makaeli has applied to college and Bryn is going on her first date. Can they just stop please? Time is moving so fast! I'm glad the week went well for them and that they had some great experiences! Youth conference was always such a great time!

My week here has been pretty exciting! Monday night, President and Sister Palmer had us over for a Halloween dinner, and we planned some upcoming meetings. It's such a blessing to get to be with them as much as do! Tuesday, we had an incredible mission leadership council from 9-12, then a new missionary meeting from 1-3. It was a busy day! On Thursday we went to pick up a couple of mid-transfer missionaries; one had been waiting in the Philippines for his visa, and the other had gone home for surgery and was reassigned to our mission (he had been serving in Guatemala, and he said the name Elder Hopkin sounded kind of familiar!). Both of them are incredible and will make big contributions to the mission! On Friday we did a service project assembling office furniture for a non-profit refugee program, which was lots of fun! We got to work with Elders Stock and Smith, and we got several desks and chairs assembled; the representative from the program was so nice and appreciative, and the project was a really great experience! Probably the highlight of the week was yesterday. There's a less-active man that's been coming back to church; Elders Elliott and Feltman started teaching him, then Elder Griffin and I came in, and we've continued teaching him with my new companions. He got up to bear his testimony yesterday and shared how he had had a dream several months ago that elders had stopped by his house and invited him back to church; he had accepted and became active in the church. That next day, his sister told him that some elders had biked past the house, but he missed them; a few minutes later though, they came back, and he called them over. They referred him to Elders Elliott and Feltman for YSA, and ever since he has started strengthening his testimony and coming back to church. He got pretty emotional as he bore his testimony of the Atonement and how much happier he is, now that he's back in church and living the gospel. It was the kind of stuff you read about, you know? It was pretty incredible!

I've been seeing more and more how much Heavenly Father is blessing me for being here. I get kind of impatient with my weaknesses sometimes, and I wish I was a lot better, but I've seen how he's helped me change and be better and love the people I'm around and the situation I'm in. It's been such a huge blessing so far!

I found something cool in Preach My Gospel yesterday that I thought I'd put. It's in the first lesson, The Restoration; to put it in context, it's the part that explains prophets and dispensations. I'm going to add numbers in. It says "By revelation, Adam learned of 1) Mankind's proper relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; 2) of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and 3) of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel." I thought about how beautiful just those basic truths are and how blessed we are to have a prophet that teaches those things today. That is the core of the gospel, the things we need to learn, live, and teach.

Something else that came to my mind: I've been using that awesome new hymnbook :) to study Hymn #221 - Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd. It has some amazing lines: "Dear to the heart of the Shepherd, dear are the lambs of His fold. Some from the pastures are straying, hungry and helpless and cold. See the Good Shepherd is seeking, seeking the lambs that are lost, bringing them in with rejoicing, saved at such infinite cost... Hark He is earnestly calling, tenderly pleading today, 'Will you not seek for my lost ones, off from my shelter astray?'... Lord, we will answer thee gladly, 'Yes, blessed Mater, we will! Make us thy true undershepherds; give us a love that is deep; send us out into the desert, after thy wandering sheep!'... Off to the rescue we'll hasten, bringing them back to the fold." Christ hastens to find and help us when we have wandered, and He asks us to do the same for others. I'm so grateful for the love that He has for each of us, and how often He shows it to us!

I'm realizing I sound pretty serious....and I forgot to tell you a funny story from a couple weeks ago. :) We were driving in the car, and Elder Eagar started laughing at something random, super hard, and his laugh was so weird and funny that me and Elder Grover started laughing super hard, which made Elder Eagar laugh harder... I had to pull over and we just sat there laughing for a straight 2 minutes for no was pretty weird... but a really good memory! :)

Anyways, sorry this was such a long email! I actually had some good time today! :) I hope and pray you'll get better soon! I love you so much! Thank you for the love and support and example you give me! You're such an incredible and loving Mom, and I'm so grateful for you! Thank you for loving and teaching me so much :) Have a wonderful week! I miss and love you!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Week 64--Halloween 2016

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

I LOVE those pictures! You look 100% horrific! :) That's too good of an idea! I showed some of the missionaries here and they thought it was so funny and were glad you didn't get shot :) Also, let Makaeli know she looks adequately hideous! I loved all of those costumes - good stuff! I'm dressing up today in the Halloween tie you sent me last year, so that's been fun! I don't have the chance right now to send a picture with my new tie, or the mustache, but I'll try to get them to you next week! :) That date night with Dad sounds fun! I'm guessing you didn't kiss him for another 24 hours afterwards right? I'm glad things are looking pretty good with the kidney stone! You've been in my prayers, and I also fasted for you... I hope that goes well and that you only have to do one round! It sounds like church was amazing yesterday! That's always nice! Brother Jenkins is awesome! Those are some super cool thoughts (and explained very well :) )! I'll definitely be keeping that in mind. I especially like how he said that our own thoughts typically lead us to do good as well - I've never thought about that before. Thanks for sharing that with me!

Hm... this week.... Well, I got to play basketball last Monday, for the first time in months! That felt super good :) I went on exchanges with a zone leader and had a great time with him. President took us to dinner, and then went with us to teach Kevin. Kevin is one of those people whose answers are always perfect. You'd almost think they were rehearsed, or that he was saying them to please us... but he's completely sincere about them! It was a great lesson. President mentioned something about how his being baptized was a way that he followed the Savior's example of obedience, and Kevin said "Yah, it felt good! It felt kinda like I was making my parents proud!" and I thought that was so profound! The next day, as I and the zone leader were finishing up exchanges, we were going to drive to In-N-Out and grab some lunch; we passed by a burger joint that a member has taken us to a couple times and is owned by really cool guy that loves talking about religion. I had a weird prompting to go there instead, which I blew off for a while, but finally listened to. So we had lunch, and got the chance to talk to him for a while (he likes talking more than listening, but hopefully we're slowly helping to soften his heart) and then he paid for our lunch! Kinda small and random, but it was a really cool experience for me! We didn't have a whole lot of fun stuff going on this week for Halloween, which I'm honestly not too worried about - this holiday takes way too much creativity :) Another cool experience was on Friday night - we were teaching this less active member outside her apartment, about the Atonement, and the Spirit was really strong. Our member team-up, who is a returning less active member himself, shared some really cool insights! And during the lesson, I just felt as if the outside world wasn't even there - we were just in this little bubble with the Spirit so strong, and it helped me remember the comforting power of the Holy Ghost and the gospel. Again, kind of a random experience, but it was great!

I had a thought the other day that I'll share! It might be pretty obvious, but it just clicked in my mind a couple days ago. I was reading and studying about the Restoration, and I started thinking about how crazy it is that a 14 year old boy was called as the prophet of this dispensation. I was thinking to myself "Can we really trust a 14 year old?". But I realized just how incredible and miraculous it is that he was so young! What man would continue a lie that he had thought up when he was barely a teenager - even down to his death? What boy is genius enough to start such an intricate and perfect lie when he's just 14 - a lie that would convince 16 million people (and counting) and perfectly complete the history of God's dealings with His children? I feel safe assuming that the smartest person in the world right now couldn't do such things. And that really strengthened my testimony of the Restoration. I feel like I keep hearing so many "concerns" and "problems" that, when looked at in a different perspective, end up showing just how amazing and beautiful this restored gospel is.

Anyways, thank you SO much for the package!!!! That was so perfect! I've already used my dictionary 10 times, and I was so excited for that hymnbook!! Elder Grover and Elder Eagar want me to say thank you for their baskets - they're really enjoying them :) We got our month's money today and went shopping, so with that plus your package, I now have food to last for weeks! :) Thank you!!!!

Well, another week past! Elder Grover and I are enjoying counting our time together - it's fun to be in the same situation as he is. And Elder Eagar isn't too far ahead of us :) Thank you so much for the constant prayers and support and love. I'll continue praying for you; I hope things go well with everything! Thank you for being such an incredible mother! You're such a strength and example to me! I love and miss you so much!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Got this picture from Sister Palmer of the Elders on Halloween. Where is Elder Grover's glow stick tie? 

Elder Grover, Elder Hopkin, Elder Eager
October 31, 2016