Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 93

So, this week I worked on getting Connor's 20th b-day package sent off. Yep, that's right--T.W.E.N.T.Y! He will no longer be a teenager. Those twenty years went by pretty darn fast! When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, the only thing he could come up with was "spicy chips". So, we went with that--and a couple other things. Here's a picture of his package. It just might be the last one I send--unless I get crazy and do something red, white and blue for the 4th of July. In any case, it seems weird to be sending the last, or second to last, package to him. I've always been glad he is in a place where I can send something and it doesn't cost a month's salary and it gets to him in 3 days instead of 3 months. It's been fun.

20th Birthday Package
May 2017

Here is Connor's letter for the week:

Hi Mom!!! :)

I had a pretty great week! Our area is very slowly building up a little bit; we've talked to a few people that seem quite interested! Our ward is so helpful and kind, so that always makes things a lot better! :) I went on exchanges with my district leader, Elder Hacking, and had a great time. I'm playing for a musical number at zone conference today, so we had a fun practice in Tracy (so good to be back!) and the member that drove us took us to Texas Roadhouse for lunch :) I think.... that's all for this week!

We have Elder Weatherford Clayton coming for a mission tour, and we have a zone conference with him today, so I have to be kinda quick with my email time. Thank you SO much for your email! I love hearing hearing your thoughts and words and insights :)

For the dermatologist appointment, all is well. He said that none of them look concerning. I told him that I didn't think that we have any history of skin cancer in the that right? He said especially with that consideration, I should be totally fine. They did take pictures so they could compare with a follow up visit, which they wanted to do in 6 months. I told the secretary I won't be here for that, and she said something about not really keeping records on file... so I hope they kept something that they could sent to Dr. Bradshaw.

I'm sorry Dad is going to be gone again!! That's fun you get to do a couple EFY's together though! Where are you doing them? That was always a good week for me, and it definitely contributed to the testimony I have now. I'm glad the spin practices went well. You'll do an amazing job :)

Thanks for your thoughts on my thoughts :) I really appreciated those. I've wondered that sometimes about my patriarchal blessing. There are some talents it says I have, that I wish would just kinda manifest themselves without me having to work too hard on them :)

Thanks for the pictures!! That's sad for Makaeli's last game! I don't remember what mine was... was it the city league, or intramurals? So long ago :) I didn't receive the attachment with Ethan's singing, but that's fun he did such a good job!

Thank you for sending the birthday package!!! I'm so excited :) It's weird telling people now that I'm "almost 20"... and then I'll be saying "20" pretty soon. Pretty crazy!!! :)

So... testimonies are Soup-er important. They warm your soul like a can-dle. ;) I'll come up with real ones next week :)

I love you so much!! Thank you for everything you do for me. Thank you for giving birth to me almost 20 years ago! I'm glad you get the cake - you deserve it more, right? :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

"This is Elder Hacking, on our exchange. He's making fun of my Asian eyes, so I'm just blaming it on your family :) And my allergies."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 92--Mother's Day Skype 2017

It was so good talking to Connor on Mother's Day. He looked and sounded so old and mature. He is doing well and seems really happy in his new area and with his new companion. It made me really "trunky" to talk to him. Maybe it's because he is so close to coming home. But, it sure made me excited to see him here in a couple of months! Shon was on a work trip in Israel so we three-way Skyped with him as well. It really couldn't have been better! Best Mother's Day gift ever! Here are pictures from our Skype:

Mother's Day 3-Way Skype
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Elder Hopkin in Stockton, CA
Shon in Jerusalem, Israel
The rest of us in Orem, UT

Sometimes it's a little weird emailing the day after you talk to them. Hard to have something else to say. But, Connor's email this week was as good as ever--it follows.

Hi Mom!!! :)

Haha I hope I'm at least a little more old and mature than I used to be. I still feel at least 18. And my voice was cracking as if I was 12 :) It was so good to see you too! You looked so pretty, and it was so good to hear your voice too! It just brings back good feelings, you know? I'm so excited about your Spin class - keep me updated on that! I didn't feel too weird after Skyping - better than my last 3 for sure. It was just kind of like walking out of a movie theater - you're back in a different reality, but you adjust back pretty quick :) And it did help that I was only saying goodbye for a couple quick months.

Elder Hong said it was good to meet you. I agree about that blessing Dad gave me! I've kept it in the back of my mind with every companion. If nothing else, I think it has added a little extra motivation to work at getting along - I don't want to lose a friend that I was meant to have.

I had a quick question: for my appointment today, do you have access to the info? I'm pretty sure I signed something at a doctor's office before I came out - was that it? I'll be sure to fill out the form to get info to Dr. Bradshaw.

Those pictures of the boys are so crazy/great! Thanks for sending them! Ashley has emailed me a few times in the last several months, and I've been really impressed with her testimony and strength as well. She's a good aunt. And so are the rest of them - Alisha, Angie, Melissa, Aimee, etc. I've been so blessed with such an amazing family, immediate and extended!

So.... I would love some spicy chips, if you can spare the room :) I always want to get them at the store but can't bring myself to sacrifice money and health. But now it'll just be health, so it's worth it :) If it works for you! I can't really think of anything else that I really need right now! You're always good at figuring out the right things to get me anyways :) Thank you so much! I'm really excited!

Today before email we got a super fun basketball game going! There's an elder here that played at Lone Peak and is signed to play at Weber when he gets home.... he's kinda good :) And lots of other elders that are about my level, including Elder Hong. So it was lots of fun! And, I got so close to dunking it! Maybe I'll get it before my mission's over :)

I've been gaining a stronger testimony lately of the Book of Mormon, and had a quick thought. We had a great zone training a couple weeks ago that helped us remember the importance of that Book and gaining a testimony of it. It was really interesting to me that the majority of the missionaries that shared their testimony haven't had one huge, miraculous manifestation - it's been a slow, quiet, but powerful process that now leads up to them knowing that the Book of Mormon is true. God promised that He will manifest the truth of it to us through the Holy Ghost - but that's really the only limitation He put on it :) I remember Bishop Pectol teaching me about how testimonies are a lot like walls - they're built one small brick at a time. For the Book of Mormon and the Church, I'm blessed to have some larger, more foundational bricks in my wall, but it's been a lot of small moments that have truly built my testimony. I consider it a huge blessing that God has allowed me to feel of the truth. I noticed at the zone training that, yet again, there was no huge experience that made us all know immediately that the Book of Mormon is still true. But I felt a quiet power reminding me that it is God's word. The Spirit doesn't come in earthquakes or fires or winds, but as a very still, very small, very quietly powerful voice.

Thanks again for all of your help and sacrifice and love!!! I love you so much! I'm looking forward to your email next week! Oh, by the way, we don't have specifically set times in this zone, so I'll hopefully be emailing 11 or after, but could do it as early as 9. I love you!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Also got this picture from Facebook today from the member's home where he had Mother's Day lunch and where he Skyped from. As a missionary Mom I appreciate these members so much! They are so good to the missionaries and make them feel welcome and at home. I know they receive blessings for their service.

"I love seeing the faces of our missionaries when they are skyping with their families. Such joy! Here is Elder Hopkin with his family from Utah and his dad working in Jerusalem."

Elder Hopkin
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Stockton, California

Week 91--Transferred and Travel Plans (It's getting real....!)

This week I got a prized possession in my email box--Connor's return flight itinerary. Needless to say that was a good day! It sure does make this whole coming home thing seem even more real. Now I am not sure that I can keep myself from counting down every day until then. But, I will try.

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

So! The church wifi is down so I'm at the library with an hour long time limit that might unexpectedly end early :) So I'm gonna be quick this week if that's ok!

That's so exciting about dad's CFS!!!! Yay!!! The longer I'm out on my mission, the more and more I recognize and appreciate you and Dad and how perfect of parents you have been and are for me. You two are one of my biggest blessings.

SO....... I'm getting transferred! To Stockton! I'll be with Elder Hong; he's been out about 7 months. There were Sisters in that area previously, so we'll both be new there (the 5th time that's happened to me out of 6 transfers :) ). AH I love Modesto 6th ward so much!!! I'm so sad to leave! But, I have always wanted to go to Stockton. And the only Chick-Fil-A in our mission will be in my area. So I'm happy :) I won't be a district leader anymore, which I'm also going to really miss. Relieving, but sad. So, that's that!

Because of the transfer, I have no idea when church is. I'll try to still call around 5 or 6 though - that should work. Sister Hupp (one of the sisters we've been serving with in 6th ward) was in my new area before she came here, so she's given me a couple hints, and she said the Bishop should be able to let us Skype at his place. I'll probably have them call you beforehand to figure things out... unless you can email me in the next 20 minutes with your Skype username. Also, what's the plan with Dad? I'll probably just find out when we Skype, huh? :) Anyways, I'm so excited to talk to you!!!!!!!! :)

Something else fun: Elder Tiatia's new companion is Elder Jones, my second companion!! They're going to have a blast together!

Good luck with your Spinning certification! I'll definitely keep that in my prayers! Thank you for the thoughts from President Monson! To be honest, I felt that a little last night after getting this transfer call (it shocked me!); I was feeling a little lost for a few minutes, and just felt comfort knowing that God is perfectly in control, and the Savior knew exactly how I was feeling.

Well, I'll try to send a tiny bit more if I end up with extra time, but there's the most important stuff! I love you so so so much! Happy Mother's Day, in advance! I'm looking forward to talking to you so much! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Here is a copy of his itinerary.

Also, this week, he was transferred to Stockton. I am assuming this will be his last area. I found this picture of him and his new companion, Elder Hong, on the Facebook page for his mission. Thanks to the member who posted it!!

Elder Hong and Elder Hopkin
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Stockton, California

Week 90

This week I have been helping Connor set up a Dermatologist appointment, so his letter refers to that a bit. While doing so, I was in correspondence with Sister Palmer, the Mission President's Wife. I wanted to add what she wrote about Connor on here, I think he'll appreciate having that. So, first his letter, then a short blurb from her. We are at 90 weeks--that sounds like a lot, right?!

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

Wow, lots of fun stuff going on! :) The whole insurance thing made sense. I found the UHC numbers - they're on the right side, but I'm pretty sure we're talking about the same thing! :) And I printed out the email, so I'll make sure to fill out a consent form. Thank you so much for working that all out for me! The day and time will be perfect. You'll have to teach me life skills like that when I get home - I'm so dumb with that stuff :) As far as the bike goes, that's good to know about the new bike possibility. There's actually a less active member in this area that has a really nice bike that he's selling for $150 at most; I think I can ship a bike home from here for about $50; so I might pick that one up. I was talking to the member who's been helping me out with all this, and he can get it fixed up for me if need be, and he even suggested I could sell it - it's a pretty new bike so I could maybe even make some money on it :) My only concern is getting it stolen in the next few months - it is kinda shiny... :) I'll let you know if I decide to get the CTR bike. Thanks for checking in on that too!!

That's so cool about the Israel trip! I don't remember hearing that you're going next year! Haha when I first saw that, I thought you meant you're leaving this August and I freaked out for a second :) That'll be so much fun! And I'm totally ok if I get to visit during the holidays :) That's so exciting!!! That's fun you had a little reunion with the Texas clan; I wish I could have been there!

I'm glad you made it up to Idaho Falls! I'd love to visit that one sometime - see the beginnings of my creation :) I totally agree about how much of a blessing it is to have temples on the earth. I think I told you, but when I went to Oakland, I walked into the lobby and felt immediate peace and quiet. I also received some impressions and answers that really helped me out.

I'm so excited to Skype in a couple weeks!!!! :) I'm hoping that after doing it 3 times, it will actually feel kinda normal for my last one - we'll see though! Transfers are next week, and I think it's about a 50/50 chance that I get transferred - hopefully I can just do it at the Frazes', but we'll see what happens. I'll do my best to get it around 5 or 6 your time!

So, a couple fun things to report this week! First, we did a musical number in church yesterday. A ward missionary, Brother Hoff, put it together (he sent you a recording I think - did you get it?). He and Elder Tiatia and our first counselor, Brother Cox, sang; I was on the piano; and Brother Capps was on the violin. It was so much fun! :) Also, we found an AWESOME family this week! There's a less active woman that moved here about a month ago, and her children aren't members yet. So we're teaching them, and they're hopefully getting baptized reasonably soon! Ah they're such cool kids!! They all pay attention pretty well, and I think they like us, and they ask the coolest questions (it's hard though, answering deep questions for kids. One of the kids asked, "How did Satan tempt Eve to eat the fruit, if it wasn't even bad that she ate the fruit?"). :) So that's kinda been the biggest thing this week! Yesterday, we had a pretty busy evening, and we were biking against the wind, and I hit my heel pretty hard on my pedal, and I got really frustrated; but, I had the thought to say a prayer of gratitude to counteract my bad attitude; and about 2 minutes later, I was happy again! That was a good learning experience for me!

Well, I think that's all this week! Thank you again for all of your help! Good luck with the upcoming busy month!! Thank you for taking so much time out of your day to help with all of my problems :) You're such a good Mom!!! I love you so so much!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

"We will miss him greatly when he goes home. He has been an exemplary elder; always dependable, Christ-like, and respectful. We love him very much."
                                                                                    Sister Palmer