Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 71--Christmas 2016...Last One Away!!

This week it is Christmas. It's hard to believe that it's the second one we've had without Connor here at home. I've said it many times, but the time has passed so slowly in the day-to-day living and from week to week. But, looking back I am amazed that it's almost been 17 months since he has been gone. We have talked to him twice and will talk to him again on Christmas Day. That will be 3 of the 4 phone calls (or Skypes, in our case) that we will get to have with him while he is gone. Mother's Day will be the last before he returns. I will not lie, I am very excited to see his face, his smile and hear his voice. Email is great and all, and I am grateful for it, but to talk back and forth will be WAY better! We did manage to get his Christmas package sent off this week. Here are a few pictures of what we sent to him and his companion, Elder Lopiano. Hope it helps them know that we love them and helps them to have a merry Christmas.

 I found these giant stocking at Sam's Club and decided it would be fun to send one to Connor and one to his companion for Christmas. So we bought and wrapped a bunch of stuff to fill them up with.

 The bunch of stuff that went into the stockings. They were so big, I was sure we wouldn't be able to fill them completely. But, after we got all of it in, they were VERY full and some of it almost didn't fit. Lorraine had a huge box that we stuffed them into and then we sent them off. Hope they like it all!

This is what we fit into Connor's stocking. We had mostly the same for his companion, minus a few unmentionables Connor had said he needed. :)

Here is his letter for this week and a few pictures too.

Hi Mom!!!!!! :)

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY on Wednesday!! And, MERRY CHRISTMAS on Sunday! :) I remember exactly one year ago, when I was sending you an email right before your birthday and Christmas, and I almost ran out of time! Those were much more stressful days back then :)

I feel like I had tons to'll come back to me :) As far as Sunday goes, I think 5-6 will be just right! Ah I'm so excited, you don't even know! The first time, I was homesick for a couple hours after. Second time, about half an hour. I think it'll only be about 10 minutes this time! :) It'll be good to see and hear you all! It sounds like a pretty fun start to the week... and an even better ending! I didn't know Grandpa is 70!! Do you mind reminding me when his real birthday is so I can email him? I hope things go well as you decide on another job; I'll keep that in my prayers! Dang it sounds like New Year's time is going to be tons of fun for you!!! Take tons of pictures for me :)

So by now I've remembered some of my week :) I went on exchanges with one of our zone leaders; he's so good at being a leader, yet being personable at the same time. He blessed my life a lot in just that one day! On Wednesday, I conducted a baptismal interview with a woman being taught by some elders in the district. She is so cool! Literally, my testimony was strengthened by her excitement about the gospel and the light she already had. On Thursday, I did two more baptismal interviews for a couple the sisters in our ward were teaching. They were just as prepared and ready. It was incredible to see the certainty and resolution they each had as they answered that, yes, they believed the Church has been restored, and yes, they were ready to follow and serve Jesus Christ! On Saturday we had a Christmas party, which was tons of fun! We're getting to know some of the members in the ward really well. Cool story: at the party, a recent convert that we work with gave us some gloves for the cold; on our way back home that night it was probably the coldest it's been; we saw a homeless lady just sitting by a store and had the thought to give her some gloves; Elder Lopiano doesn't even use gloves, so he gave her his; and literally right after we did that, neither of us were even cold for the rest of the ride! Yesterday, we were called up to help with the confirmations of that couple that was baptized, and when the woman came up, Bishop looked at me and said "You confirm her!" So... I did my first confirmation in front of the whole sacrament meeting yesterday! Dang that was a scary moment! On Saturday, we also had interviews with President and Sister Palmer! Ah it was so good to talk to them again for a while!

Well, I think those are the highlights for the week! Thank you for sharing those thoughts on enduring to the end... those helped me more than you know! Omni 1:26 is actually the scripture that President Palmer shares with all the new missionaries when they come into the mission; it's so good! On Thursday we had a district meeting about the importance of the Spirit in conversion. As I was studying for it, I remembered the importance of doing all that we can to bring the Spirit into our lives. Because of our baptismal covenants, we can have the Spirit with us at all times if we keep the commandments. Those little things we do to keep the commandments allow the Spirit to touch our hearts, and when the Spirit touches our hearts, our hearts are changed. I think that is part of how we can endure to the end; by doing the things that will allow the Spirit to be with us.\

Ah it's time to go! I'm so excited for the package! Really I should be sending YOU a package! :) I want you to know how much I love you! Your example and your diligence and love in being my mom have made a bigger difference than you will ever know! I was thinking the other day about how I hope I can be a good father; and there would never be any hope of me being a good one if you hadn't been such an amazing mother that taught me to live the gospel. You do both the big acts of sacrifice for us, and millions of little acts that make the biggest change. I feel like you've done all that you ever could in being a parent. If it doesn't sound weird coming from your son, I think that God is so proud of the things that you've done in your life to serve others and follow Him. I can always look to you as an example of faith and love. So thank you SO MUCH!!! :)

I love you tons! I'm so excited for Sunday!!!!!! :) Have a wonderful week! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

"This was Thursday. It was POURING, so we came back and dressed warm for planning...then had some fun" :)
Elder Hopkin and Elder Lopiano
Thursday, December 15. 2016 

We got about 45 minutes to talk to Connor on Christmas Day. It was so, so good to see him and hear his voice. Just like last year, we all agreed that it was the best present of the day! He is doing well and is happy--that is the best thing a Mom can hear! He also got to meet Alisha's husband Jimmie for the first time and Angie's boyfriend Dan. My parents, his Grandpa and Grandma LeCheminant, were staying with us and got a few minutes to talk to him as well. Of course, it was hard to say goodbye, but hey, it's only 5 months until Mother's Day, right?

 Christmas Day Skype
Sunday, December 25, 2016

 We hooked the computer up to the TV so that we could see him in giant form on the big screen.

 2016 Family Photo

2016 full Family Photo--including the dog....hahaha!

We also received a mission Christmas email from President and Sister Palmer. Here that is, with a picture of them too.

Christmas 2016

At this special time of year when we celebrate the birth of the Savior, we are mindful of His great love for us and His atoning sacrifice that makes us whole. Indeed, we have an urgency to share this message with everyone we meet so each of God’s children may feel of His tender mercy.

During this past year, I have seen the profound change in the lives of investigators who have embraced the Atonement and began to offer their whole souls to Him. They have been converted to living their lives in accordance with the example of the Savior. Even people with very troubled pasts have and are being made clean and pure. The Atonement is the greatest gift offered to us and our obedience to His commandments can be our greatest gift of love to Him.

I am so grateful for our missionaries serving in the California Modesto Mission. By their righteous examples and faithful obedience, others have witnessed of their goodness and have chosen to seek for the truth. We have missionaries from many countries and numerous states serving the Lord with one purpose and one heart. Our mission vision is “We are one with the Savior in doing the will of the Father.” I believe our missionaries- your missionaries- are the righteous examples of this vision.

It is my deepest desire that we may all embrace the Savior a little more this Christmas season by showing our love for Him and for all mankind by sharing the gift that we hold most precious, even the Atonement, with every one we meet.

With much love and gratitude,

Sister Palmer

President and  Sister Palmer
California Modesto Mission
December 2016

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