Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Week 89--The Bike Was Stolen! (I think he's lucky he made it this far.) :)

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

THANK YOU for those quotes from President Hinckley! Those are great! The missionary one was especially relevant :) I always remember you quoting that first one, helping me remember that things will work out. And I remember hearing that last one at church a while ago - it's so true and well-put! Thank you for helping me out with that picture :) That's cool that Dad has a little break for a while! What's he doing in Israel?? Also, I was telling someone that he's a professor at BYU and they asked if he has tenure yet, and I didn't know... has he been there long enough yet? Just curious :) I really hope things work out for you to make it to Idaho - that would be really cool! And that's awesome about the Spin class!! I'll have to come to it when I get home and see if two years of biking did anything for me :) Thank you for the updates!

Yes, Monday would be the best day for an appointment. Thank you for looking into it for me. I was feeling my head just last night, and I might have a weird one up there too... so it'll be good to be checked. So, of course, highest priority is that the appointment happens; but, if it's convenient, it would be easiest if the appointment wasn't between 10 and 1ish, just so we don't have to switch our email time. Like I said, though, that's not really a big concern. Also, next week would work well; if that's when it's scheduled for, you could probably call Sister Palmer and she'll let me know. The week after that is transfer Monday, which will possibly be a little hectic - but, again, not that big of a deal. After that would be gold too.

It's been a pretty good week! At the very beginning of the transfer, I was filling out the days for my planner, and I had this random thought when I got to Week 4, "This is going to be a good week!" So I wrote that down on Week 4 - and it was a pretty good week! :) We had a couple investigators come to church yesterday, which was awesome. We also found a couple new investigator, which has been rare lately! This one woman basically already agrees with the Church! She mentioned how she feels that there's a person or influence that communicates with each of us (the Spirit); that there should be prophets today (President Monson); that it would make sense that there are hidden records (the Book of Mormon); and that families don't stop at death (Plan of Salvation). So now we're just going to try to help her start living it instead of just agreeing with it. This week we had exchanges with our zone leaders, which was great. We also had interviews with President Palmer, which was very uplifting. He gave me a lot of really kind compliments, so I've been feeling pretty good :) We've had a lot of really cool experience with people on the streets; some that we went and talked to, and others that waved us down! We even had a funny conversation with some bike Police that teased us for passing them on the street :)

Here's a little update... my bike got stolen. About an hour ago! It's a little bit of a long story, but basically it's not really my fault :) And I wasn't in danger or anything like that, so all is well! A police report was filed by someone, and I've heard of missionaries getting their stolen bikes back... but it's not super likely. A member has offered to help out for a new one, and I think I have sufficient money if it comes down to it, but I talked to President Palmer and he said I can borrow a loaner bike for the last few months. So I should be good! I'm a little sad I won't get to bring it home - it was a nice bike! - but all in all, it'll work out :)

Well, I think that's it for this week! I feel like there's so much more to say but I can't think of anything! Things are going great with my companion and my district and my ward. I've been really blessed to have some great relationships and associations on my mission. During a coordination meeting yesterday, our ward mission leader said a prayer for us, and it really touched me. He also gave a talk in sacrament meeting, and got up and said, "Well, my goal today is to hopefully help everyone feel a little bit better about themselves" and congratulated everyone for making it to church and doing what good we do, and reminded us to not compare our worst to other people's best. I thought that was so true! Anyways, I'm loving this area!!

Thank you for everything you do for me :) I love and miss you so much! Thank you for your wonderful example, and for always showing me your love. You're such a good Mom :) I love you! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week 88--Easter 2017 AND Visitors From Modesto

This week I got my very first box of stuff returning home from Connor. It was just a box of things he didn't want to continue to pack around or carry home in his suitcase. (And, yes, I did go through it all. But I did not cry or try to smell his scent on anything or any crazy thing like that. Not that I would blame anyone if they did those things).  It was brought to my house by the Frazes, who live in the Ward and area that Connor is serving in right now. So, basically, they've seen my son a lot more in the last 20+ months than I have. It was really, really good to meet them. Sister Fraze is usually the one who sends me photos or updates. And, Connor has skyped home from their place twice already and most likely will a third time this coming Mother's Day. They only had good things to say about Connor: that he is a great missionary, that he works hard, that he teaches really well and that he is really good with his companion and the other missionaries, that President and Sister Palmer love him, etc....so pretty much EVERYTHING a Mom wants to hear!! Thing is, I believe every word of it. :) And, I appreciated them taking the time to drop off the box, meet me and stay and talk for a while. What good, kind people they are! I look forward to returning to Connor's mission some time in the future and seeing them again. Getting the box made this whole coming home thing seem a little bit more real--YAY!! 

I sent this picture of us to Connor. He thought it was weird to see the Frazes in his house. :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Here is his letter and a couple of Easter pictures from this week.

Here is a picture of the package we sent for Easter. I was able to mail the big eggs just as they were. I taped them all up and they put the address right on the egg. Even the mailman thought it was a pretty fun package idea. :)

Hi Mom!!! :)

I loved my Easter package!! Thank you so much! I got it right after a zone conference, so everyone noticed my super cool and creative Easter package. President and Sister Palmer both, and about 20 missionaries, asked me about it. So you got the cool Mom award :) I hope you enjoyed the pictures...... :) I've now eaten WAY too much candy in the last few weeks, but it's been worth it!

That's so fun you got to meet the Frazes! We'll see if Brother Fraze passes the hug on :) She texted us and said how great you are. That was weird seeing them in my house!

I'm so glad Prom went well for the girls. They both looked very pretty! That's awesome about Ethan too! Is the Pony league advanced or anything, or just an older age group? He's looking so much taller, but maybe it's just the pictures?

I've had a pretty great week! We committed someone to a baptismal date in June, so it'll be exciting to help him move forward. We've had a lot of fun dinners with amazing members lately, so I've really enjoyed being with each of them. Our investigator, Marty, by the way, wanted me to tell you hi for her :) She keeps insisting that we come back and visit after the mission. She wants to adopt both me and Elder Tiatia, but knows that you would probably not be ok with that :) But she told me to tell you that you're wonderful parents. She's super nice and is a really really good friend of ours! :)

We had a great zone conference this week. President Palmer talked for a few minutes about the importance of listening. He said it's a hugely important skill that not very many people have these days. I've always thought that truly listening to someone is one of the biggest services you can do for them. An investigator taught us a while ago that in order to really listen - you have to care. I thought it was a great reminder, especially for me, and I've had multiple chances to practice it recently :) I also think our district meeting went well this week, which is always nice! I love this district so much!!

It was funny, as soon as that medicine kicked in and got rid of my allergies, I got a cold! I guess I'm destined to have a stuffy nose for forever! I'm almost over the cold now though, so I feel pretty normal finally! :)

Well, I love and miss you so much!! I love your emails and I love hearing from you! Thank you for your thoughts today and all the support! I LOVE that idea that sometimes answers to our prayers just simply come as peace - I've experienced that several times. I'm excited for Mother's Day! :) I hope your week goes great! I constantly pray for you and the family! Thank you for everything!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

"My new Easter tie! "

"Easter eggs. Disregard Elder Tiatia's lack of missionary clothing.  Also, I'm basically translated." :)
Elder Tiatia and Elder Hopkin
Easter 2017

Week 87

"My wedding tie! :) That's Elder Tiatia, Me, Cook, Jeong, Spikes"

Hi Mom!!!!!!!!

Those pictures are so fun!! That's so fun to see everyone - all the kids look so much older! Especially Ethan and Katelyn! It's freaking me out :) I'm so happy for Angie and Dan! They look so happy together. Thank you for sending me those pictures!! I'm really glad Ashley and Grandma are doing well too! I'll continue to pray for them!

This week has been pretty crazy - but not bad :) I just feel like we've been running around everywhere. On Saturday, Modesto had their #LoveModesto day, where there were several different service projects that you can attend to give service to the city. The 2nd ward Relief Society President put one together, so we went and helped out with that one. Everyone made and stuffed teddy bears that are going to be given to children in challenging circumstances (medical emergencies, being taken by CPS, etc) - and we and the 2nd ward elders were the quality control/bear counters. There was a specific way people were supposed to tie the bows, and half of the people did them wrong - so we each retied at least 200 bows. I'm a lot faster at tying my shoes now though! All in all we completed and counted 1,331 teddy bears. It was super stressful and lots of fun :) Some of our investigators are making progress, and some are regressing a little. We have such a hard time getting people to keep their appointments, so we haven't had a ton of lessons or anything recently. I think we've been able to bless some lives and hopefully plant some seeds though, which I'm totally fine doing as long as that's what I'm here to do :) One quick story: We were biking on Thursday, kind of hurrying somewhere, and there was a lady at a bus stop that we passed, and I felt like I should stop and at least give her a pass-along card - but I didn't. Literally the next day, we were in even more of a hurry, and we passed the exact same lady at the exact same bus stop - so I stopped this time :) I was really grateful for the second chance and the lesson learned! Things are going great with my Elder Tiatia! It's been fun watching him learn and grow, and we've become great friends! I love our district too - lots of good missionaries and friends! Last Monday after emailing, we went to a field and played kickball and grilled some meat for lunch - it was so much fun!

I DID get the package!! And my allergies are basically nonexistent now. Thank you SO much for sending me those! I'm sure that wasn't cheap. And I love this new tie - I'm wearing it for the 3rd time in a row today :) I hope Prom goes well for the girls, and baseball for Ethan, and work for you and Dad!

Well, I should probably go. Thank you again for everything you do!!! I love you so much, and I'm SO grateful to be your son! I miss you and can't wait to talk to you next week - and for real on Mother's Day :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 86--An Awesome Temple Experience!!

Before I post the pictures and Connor's letters for the week, I have to tell of an email I received this morning. It was from Connor's mission office asking what airport we want him to fly into when he returns. It also said that his flight plans will be booked on May 2nd--3 months from his return date. They needed some information from us so that they could book his return flight!! Yep--that is what it said! It's starting to get real, people, and yet I have to remind myself that we still have 1/3 of a year to go. (But, I also remind myself frequently that compared to 2 full years, that is nothing!). Trying to keep calm....

Hi Mom!!! :)

Things are great! As you can see, the temple trip went well! I spent the whole ride up and back squished in the middle of the back seat between Brother Otto and my companion - but it was worth it :) Can I just say how amazing the temple is?? As soon as I walked in, it was just quiet and peaceful and so relieving. It was a pretty incredible trip - here's the details! Brother and Sister Otto are Scottie's great-grandparents, and they're probably some of the coolest people I've ever met! We got really close to them while teaching Scottie, so they wanted us to come along. Backstory: Sister Otto's sister, Tammi, found the church several years ago, and introduced Sister Otto a few years ago, who introduced her husband a couple years ago :) Tammi came with us on the trip. While we were there, she was baptized for her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and received initiatories and the endowment for her mother. Elder Tiatia received the endowment for her father. Brother and Sister Otto both received initiatories and their endowment, and were sealed afterwards! Then Tammi was sealed to her parents, and did a couple other sealings for family members! So basically, we got to witness this whole family receive their saving ordinances and be all sealed together for time and all eternity! It was SO incredible!! :) While I was there, I also saw a few people that I had known in my past wards; God has some good timing :) I learned a lot while I was there, and felt so uplifted and strengthened afterwards. I'm so grateful for that opportunity!

On top of that, we had several meetings this week. In one, we watched the newly released initiative video, Prince of Peace. If you haven't seen it already, it's just at mormon.org - and it's worth the 2 minutes :) And, of course, General Conference topped it all off! I'll get back to that later. We don't have a ton of people we're teaching right now, unfortunately. But the one we are teaching makes up for that :) We also found a new investigator yesterday, so hopefully that will work out!

That's some exciting news from home!!!! :) That's so exciting for Bryn!! Yay! :) And I'm so excited to party hard with Makaeli - that's going to be awesome! Weird to be in the same grade as her, but I'll get over it :) Now we'll see who gets married first ;) Speaking of, on a side note.... I'd been thinking I want to get married soon - then in the sealing room on Tuesday, it hit me just how serious and real that commitment and covenant are... so I'm a little scared now :) Anyways, that'll be fun to be with Makaeli! I think that was a good choice! And that's great for Ethan - I hope his birthday went well!

So, General Conference! I loved it all, and I can barely remember any of it :) I really really liked President Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood session; he spoke about how our desire should be to serve quietly and humbly, with no thought of reward, rather than desiring the praise of men. Each calling is as important as the next, no matter how "high up" it is. It reminds me of D&C 121 - "Behold there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men... When we undertake to...gratify our pride, our vain ambition... behold, the heavens withdraw themselves... hence many are called, but few are chosen." I remember a talk several years ago, where someone commended Shiblon, Alma's son. He was just as righteous as Helaman, but didn't receive the same recognition. I realized I need to be a lot more humble from that talk :) There were also several talks about the importance of the small things - I think both President Clayton, and Elder Cook, hit on the subject. If I remember right, President Clayton said that doing the small acts of obedience brings more blessings than you would expect from the smallness of the action. Similarly, Elder Cook said that we don't truly understand the impact that taking the sacrament every week has on us. I think we tend to think that the small act of praying, studying the scriptures, and going to church, bring the small blessings - because they're small actions. But in a way that doesn't make sense and doesn't quite add up, those small actions bring an unexpectedly large amount of spiritual blessings and growth. I also loved President Eyring's concise and direct teaching of the Plan of Salvation - he just wrapped it all up so beautifully :) Also, I really appreciated Elder Rasband's and others' reminders of the importance of the Holy Ghost and responding diligently to the promptings we receive. And a lot more :)

PLEASE take tons of pictures of Angie's wedding! I'm so excited!! I'm looking forward to the tie, AND the allergy meds :) Thank you for sending those off!! I hope the coming week goes well for you! I love you so so much, and I'm so grateful for you and your love for me. It's such a blessing to get to email you! Whenever I'm stressed or anything, your emails always take it away :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Hey Dad!!

That's nice to hear that Sister Fraze texted Mom, thanks for telling me that! :) It has been a little weird to stay the same (like I said to Mom, Elder Tiatia will be my longest companion - only 3 transfers), but I'm grateful for it too. I had kinda been feeling like my time with him and this area wasn't quite up, so I was prepared for it. I'm daily going through waves of feeling embarrassingly prideful to oddly inadequate - I can't make up my mind, and I can't seem to find a happy medium :) So I hope I can figure that one out! Thank you for what you said there - that helps a lot! I've been feeling a great need to really improve, and a little frustrated that it;s been happening so slowly :) All that said, though, I'm doing quite well - nothing to worry about!

Conference was incredible! I gave Mom some of my favorites. I agree that, as always, President Uchtdorf's were at the top. I noticed a lot of talks focusing on strengthening our individual testimonies and conversion, and especially becoming more like that Savior. I loved the talk (I can't remember who it was) that differentiated between sin and the sinner. It's a very Christlike approach and doctrine that I'm really grateful is so obvious in our Church. We love and appreciate everyone. But, no, that doesn't mean that sin is ok. But again, no, that doesn't mean that we hate you or look down on you for your mistakes, just as God doesn't. Nor does He do that to us. I think the biggest thing that I appreciated this conference was just the obvious power and Spirit that was there as they shared their talks and testimonies. It reaffirmed my testimony that these are truly prophets of God, and that this is His Church.

So, quick question. Nearer the beginning of my mission, I asked you to put a few dollars in tithing for me, since I had accepted some money from some people in my area (I didn't know it was disobedient at the time :) ). Did you ever get the chance to put that in? The reason I'm asking, is that while I was at the temple, I kept having these worrying thoughts about tithing, that maybe I haven't been as good as I could be. Along with that, I've been feeling that I should do what I can to tithe on the money I received from everyone before my mission, which I hadn't done since they weren't "income"... I talked to President about it, and he said it might be a good idea. So... I'm wondering... if you get the chance, could you maybe look on my "budgeting" excel spreadsheet and see if I made any records about how much I received? If you can't find it or something, I'll just make a guess. I think I can pay it online, though, once I know how much. Anyways, sorry to add one more thing to your to-do list! If you don't have time, don't worry! I've just been a little concerned about it recently.

Anyways, thank you so much for everything you do for me! Thank you for your email and your encouragement - it means a lot! I love you so much! Thank you for being such a good teacher, and especially example, of the gospel, and for all of your love and support. I hope your week goes well!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

 Elder Tiatia, Brother Otto, Elder Hopkin, Sister Otto
Oakland, California Temple Grounds
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Oakland California LDS Temple
March 28, 2017

 Elder Hopkin, Brother Otto, Elder Tiatia
Oakland, California Temple

Oakland and San Francisco, California
Seen from the Oakland, California Temple Grounds
March 2017
 "If you look to the right, you can kinda see the Golden Gate Bridge!"

Week 85--No New Changes

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Well, first things first: I'm staying in Modesto 6th, with Elder Tiatia (no longer training him) as a district leader. Exact same! I had been feeling that that might be the case, so I'm really excited! The 6th ward sisters are the same too!! And we're getting some awesome new elders, that are already super good friends of mine, into the district! Elder Tiatia will now be, with no exception, my longest companion; all the others have been 1 or 2 transfers, and if I get a new companion next transfer, it will only be for 2 at most! :)

I'm so glad your trip went well and that you stayed safe! :) Ahhhh you're making me want shrimp! I could be in San Fransico in an hour and a half - ugh! :) Those are really cool thoughts about the Book of Mormon from church! I've grown to understand and feel the power of the Book of Mormon more and more on my mission; and I'm sure I don't understand half of it!

Thank you for the updates from home! I'll definitely keep Grandma in my prayers - that's scary, and I'm really glad the surgery went well!!! I'll also keep praying for Makaeli - moment of truth :) That's cool she's getting to tour a bit.

Thank you for getting that package together!!! :) I'm really excited! Hmm... I think I'm ok for anything else! Thank you so much for the offer though!! :)

So, hopefully I'll have some fun pictures for you next week! Remember Scottie? Well, we've grown really close to his great-grandparents, and they're receiving their endowments tomorrow, and we have been approved to go! So, if all goes well (heaven forbid anything happen!) I'll be having a wonderful day tomorrow! :) First time in 20 months! I'm also really excited for General Conference - that will be amazing!! :)

I should probably go... thank you so much for your email and for everything you do for me! Thanks for your reminder that He will help me! I love what you said! "His grace is sufficient for all of our insufficiency." I hope your week goes well! I love you so much!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Week 84

Hi Mom!! :)

The week was good! Ups and downs :) I had some really nice experiences this week, and a little opposition to keep me humble - I'm grateful for that though :) Yes, transfers are coming up this week! I can see just about anything happening - both staying, me leaving, Elder Tiatia leaving - but I'm feeling like we'll both stay. We'll see how accurate I am! Yesterday, Sister Fraze said, "We need to have you over for dinner again before you leave!" and then a little bit later, Scottie told me, "You're going to come say bye before you leave, right?" So I hope they don't jinx me! :)

I really hope your trip is going well! You'll have to tell me all about it! If it weren't against the rules, I'd ask you to travel about 5 and a half extra hours, but... soon enough :) I've thought about our lack of missionary contact in Utah too! I only have the Texas elders to look back to for examples, really. It's kinda funny, thinking about things I saw missionaries do that I now know they shouldn't have... :)

That's so cool that Sacrament meeting was so great! Those are incredible thoughts on the Sabbath! I love that quote: "The Sabbath keeps us". That's really interesting, too, that you said that will probably be one of the determining commandments as the "sifting" is going on. I had the chance to talk to our stake president a little bit the other day, and we talked about how the wheat and the tares will be sifted. In Preach My Gospel, it says that when a community grows careless in its Sabbath Day Observance, it crumbles. It's amazing and kinda scary that such an easy commandment to break is so deciding in our blessings. Thanks, also, for the quote and your thoughts on prayer!! That's been a pretty big topic for us recently. I felt prompted to have our district meeting focus on prayer on Thursday, and then it was a main subject in church yesterday, and now here it is again! I'm so grateful that God has allowed us that way to talk and speak and grow closer to Him - it really is a privilege that we take for granted sometimes. He is constantly answering my prayers and giving me comfort when I turn to Him.

Quick question: Do you remember those Doterra allergy pills you bought me a few years ago? Were they pretty expensive? If not, do you think you could maybe grab some for me? Allergies around here are killer. I'm taking off-brand Zyrtec, which keeps it mostly at bay, but my eyes and throat are pretty itchy still. Sister Palmer also mentioned "Flo-nase" (I think?) but said it might be slightly addictive...? Anyways, I'm fine, but a little extra allergy alleviation would be appreciated :)

So, I had a pretty amazing experience the other day that I feel I should share with you. I kept your Valentine's Day note that you sent me in my box, because it was sooo nice! I came home the other day and was feeling kinda down and discouraged, and decided to read it - and it helped SO much and made me feel tons better. Then, I had a prompting to imagine that our Heavenly Mother had sent it to me, and I read it from that perspective - and started crying :) So, 1) I know that our Parents love us so much, 2) Thank you so much for that note, 3) Thank you for everything that you do to show me love and support, and 4) Thank you for being such an amazing example of what our Mother would say and be. I feel that you're a lot like Her.

I hope everything goes well for you this week! I love you so so much! Thanks again for everything - you're a bigger blessing to me than you can even imagine :) I do feel and truly appreciate your constant prayers!

Elder Connor Hopkin

"The 6th ward Dream Team"
Sister Huff, Sister Bird, Elder Hopkin, Elder Tiatia
Modesto, California 6th Ward
March 19, 2017

"Home-made A&W rootbeer at the second A&W ever built - pretty darn good" :)
Elder Hopkin
Modesto, California 
March 20, 2017