Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Week 98

So, this came. Final travel itinerary. A little change in arrival time, but not enough to make much of a difference. Just glad they didn't push it back by hours or days. 

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

I hope I can make sense today... My mind isn't working too well :)

First of all, I really loved your thoughts! Whenever I see a paragraph that long I get excited :) That's a cool/funny experience and lesson from camping! I'm proud of you for being willing to do it anyways - I know it's not your favorite pastime :) What you said about how the anticipation is usually much worse than the actual circumstance, was very timely for me. I'm getting pretty nervous for life, but it's good for me to remember that things work out, and probably won't be as bad as my mind likes to expect :) I love that quote too! And the fact that you're still learning things helps me see that I don't need to be perfect when I get home - that I'll keep learning even into my late 30's like you ;) So thanks for the philosophy!

This week was so great!!! We had several lessons with several different investigators, and two of them accepted a baptismal date! Two others came to church yesterday and really liked it and made some good friendships with the ward. I had an experience that I've never had before :) One of our investigators had committed pretty solidly to come to church but didn't show up, so we texted to see if she could still make it, and all she said was "No." We were a little disappointed and texted back but she didn't respond. Then, about 10 minutes later, I looked over my shoulder and could swear I saw her walking into the hall... then we got a text that said "Hey I'm here I was kidding". What the heck?! We got played hard! :) Made our day though! On Saturday we had our zone breakfast, and it was fun to see everyone! Yesterday, we got to attend the Melchizedek ordination for a young man that we've gotten pretty close to. He's been waiting for his mission call for a few weeks now, and his parents played a good surprise on him :) They had gotten his call in the mail but didn't tell him. They had been out of town for his birthday, so they threw a little surprise birthday party and invited some missionaries and members. Then, the first present they gave him after we sang happy birthday... was his mission call! He was so excited and ticked off :)

That's crazy Robert is coming home!!! Dang! I would guess that Michael leaves next Wednesday but I'm not positive. That's fun you saw Anna! She has sent me letters and packages from time to time, so if you see her again, please tell her thank you and hi for me! That's pretty amazing that the two boys are doing so well; that makes me really happy to hear that!

Thanks for the updates on Makaeli, Bryn, and Ethan! I think 2nd place is still pretty darn good! Maybe tell him my basketball city league got 2nd place in our tournament for the last time I ever played ;) I hope your week at EFY goes great, and that it isn't too terribly busy!

Quick question: I'm 90% sure my luggage is going to be too heavy with all my books and random stuff. I think the only two solutions are to buy a carry-on bag for my books, or to ship some books home... do you have any idea which would be cheaper? A post office is available, but not convenient, so I only want to go if I'm sure I'll send stuff from there. Some missionaries have said it would probably cost 10-20 bucks with Priority Mail. I found a carry-on at Wal-Mart for 15 that I can buy next week or something. Any ideas? :)

I did some My Plan today (AH!), and I loved the overall theme for the day: Your life will work out better if you give it to God. That's something I've been learning, and hope to now apply, on my mission. I've seen that putting God's will over our own by following the Spirit and keeping the commandments brings joy and happiness and success. Just like Jesus said, if we lose our lives for His sake, we will find them. I love that thought, and I hope I can put it into action :)

Anyways, I love you SO much! Thank you for your email and for everything you do for me!!! I can't wait to see you... but not for a while right...? :) Elder Liddell and Hacking kept telling me I have 18 months left... I think that's pretty smart to try for me - but not for you :) I hope you have a wonderful week and please always remember how much I love and appreciate you! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

"Got these from my last district leader :) This was our last Monday before he and Elder Liddell left."

"Our zone for this transfer." :)

Hi Dad!!! :)

It was a great week! I told Mom about it, but two investigators accepted a baptismal date, and another two came to church; and we had some great lessons with less active members. We're being really blessed to see some success in this area - it's been a good way to spend my last couple transfers :)

So, how long after I get home does school start? I totally forgot to mention this, but Elder Bancroft (the one you met at scout camp) is getting married on Sept 4 and invited me and Elder Grover :) That won't interfere at all, will it? I'm starting to worry about all the stuff I need to get done between getting home and starting school. I probably shouldn't worry toooo much about it, but I'm getting pretty nervous. I just have this huge desire and expectation to be perfect... and I'm scared not about if I'll fail at that (I know that's inevitable), but how bad I'll fail at that :) Anyways! I'm really grateful too that I'll be so close to Makaeli and the rest of you!

Haha I really like that about what Jesus says :) That makes sense - I'll need to look back at that prayer! We had a pretty good basher pull over and start talking to us yesterday :) He drove past and yelled "Hey guys, Isaiah 43:10", so I pulled it out when he was out of sight, and he flipped around and started to talk to us. He brought up the classics: There's only one God, and works do not save us. We did a pretty good job I think - gave some reasoning and perspective that he only listened to so that he could refute it, and bore our testimonies and kept pretty cool. I looked up some scriptures this morning though, and next time someone yells that scripture at me, I'm going to yell back "Psalm 82:6!" :)

I hope you have lots of fun in Texas, and that EFY is a little less busy this week! :) Thank you for your email and for all of your help, love, and support! I love you so much, and I'm excited to see you soon! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Week 97

Hi Mom!!! :)

Yep, no changes this transfer! I'll finish my mission with Elder Hong in Don Avenue! :) I'm excited for the next 6 weeks! I felt really good last night as I prayed about the transfer call, so I think there will be some great experiences ahead. Our district leader, Elder Hacking, is leaving to be a zone leader in Modesto; I'm going to miss him, but he's going to do a great job! The week went pretty well! We taught a few different lessons, which went really well, and we've been able to have members of the ward participate more, which has been great as well! This ward is continuing to be so wonderful! A man in the ward gave us some really nice compliments yesterday, and a woman dropped off a TON of food for us; afterwards, she took us to a restaurant to buy us food, and a random guy in line pitched in $20 bucks and said missionaries do good work :) Lots of nice people around!

That's so crazy Estevan is home! I remember seeing him in the MTC almost 2 years ago. He's such a good guy! I was thinking about him the other day, so I'm glad to hear everything went well for him. Maybe I'll get to skip out on a "homecoming" talk...? :)

I'm glad things went so well for EFY!! I think Dad's probably the best person possible to have to deal with situations like that :) That's WAY cool Ethan gets to go with you in Texas!! Lucky punk! He'll be ecorting older women everywhere... :) I hope this next one goes as well for you and is a little less stressful!

I love that quote from D&C 128!! And I'll definitely be sure to sing Called to Serve as I'm biking around... good idea :) You played in sacrament meeting??! That's so cool!! I still remember, literally 12 years ago at least, you playing "Away in a Manger" for us :) Fun times!

I think my waist is around a 34 right now - kinda depends on the pants. I have one pair of 34 that's perfect, and another that are way baggy :) And my shoe size is still right around 10 1/2. No specific requests! Thank you so much!! I've been thinking about having to get clothes... and getting a little nervous. So that'll be nice to have a little bit to start me off :)

Yesterday, I was reminded just how special and powerful the sacrament is. I think we become a little acclimated and used to it, but it really is a true ordinance performed by God's authority and power. His power is more able to flow into our lives as we participate in the sacrament. I studied a little bit about it and was reminded that it is an opportunity to reflect on our willingness to keep the covenants that we made with Heavenly Father - to keep His commandments, to remember our Savior, to act as He would, and to serve others. As we do that, and recommit to living those promises more fully, the Spirit can cleanse us and help us feel God's forgiveness for our mistakes and sins. I'm very grateful that His priesthood has been restored again to allow those blessings in our lives.

I love you so much!!! Thank you for all you do to bless and help me! I NEVER doubt if you love or care about me - ever :) Thank you for all your help on my mission as well - your support and love have meant so much. I hope your week goes well!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

We gave Connor a gift card to Panda Express for his birthday--FANCY, I know. Anyway, looks like he went and got more than just food. We'll see how quick he is to test out his fortune when he gets home. 

"​Panda knows what's up!" :)

Hey Dad!!

Thank you for setting me up for classes!! That'll be really fun to have classes with Makaeli! I really appreciate it! That'll be nice to have some mentors as well. And thanks for not sending the schedule... I was kinda excited to see my classes, but on second thought, that was smart to not send it :) I'm so nervous for school, but kind of excited in a weird way.

Thanks for the thoughts on the "exceptions"! I like the analogy to physics and science, and I really like the perspective of just accepting that we have limited knowledge and understanding! I had also thought about the Nephites praying to Jesus - is that just along the same lines as the ones we already talked about? And I just read about Abinadi popping up :)

Mom said you had an interesting time at EFY :) She said it was great but really busy. You had some discipline to take care of, and lots of extra lessons to give? That's pretty impressive :) I hope the next one is a little less hectic - it sounds like it'll be lots of fun seeing all the Pflugerville crew!

Thank you for everything you do for me! I love you so much! I hope you had a great Father's day and I hope your birthday is lots of fun too!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Elder Hopkin June 13, 2017

We got this picture in a text from a member in Connor's area. He was impressed by Connor's use of the hot sauce. We taught him well. :)

Week 96

Hi Mom!!!! :)

We had a great week! We've been blessed to start teaching several people, which I've really enjoyed! One of the people we were teaching ended up moving this last week, which was too bad, but I'm glad we got a little bit of time to hopefully make a little difference for him. I had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to speak in sacrament meeting yesterday.... I thought by the end of my mission I wouldn't still be that nervous to speak.... guess not :) We had interviews with President and Sister Palmer as well, which was amazing as always! Today I got on my email and I had received one from Salt Lake, reminding me to start My Plan next week - that's the program for the last 6 weeks that helps us prepare for coming home. So.... :)

I'm glad you got safely to Flagstaff! Is the city Eagar anywhere near Flagstaff? It's really small, but I'm sure it would be on gps - that's where Elder Eagar is from :) I hope you really enjoy the week!! You'll be a huge influence for those youth! I'm still planning on Spin classes :) I'm not so sure if I'll attend Pilates... but if you ask really nice I might come ;) That would be so fun to have a class with Makaeli!! We can be each other's wing man/woman. I don't know if she'd want me in that position though... :) Is there any chance of us having other classes together, or is that the only possibility? I'm glad everyone's staying nice and busy this summer! Tell Ethan good luck in his games for me!!

So I figured I'd just send a couple thoughts from my talk yesterday; it was on the topic of faith applied to missionary work. I focused on the importance of action as a result of faith, basing it from the sentence in Preach My Gospel that says, "Your faith to find people to teach is demonstrated through your actions". I'm sure there are many others, but I talked about 4 ways we can act in faith in order to accomplish missionary work. 1) Personally live the gospel of Christ. As we faithfully live it, we will see its blessings in our lives and will be able to bear more sincere and powerful testimony through our strengthened faith. 2) Pray in faith. Prayer is the way we secure for ourselves blessings that God is willing to grant, but that He makes conditional on our asking for them (BD - Prayer). If we have faith that He loves us, that He answers prayers, and that He wants us to share the gospel, we can pray in faith that He will provide opportunities for us to share the gospel. 3) Follow the promptings of the Spirit. Just like Elder Rasband taught, we should respond to the first prompting. On my mission, responding to spiritual promptings hasn't always brought obvious results, but I've seen enough miracles from doing so that it's worth it to respond to every prompting. 4) As we've lived the gospel, prayed for opportunities, and followed the Spirit, we will have opportunities where we need to faithfully open our mouth and trust the Lord to give us the words to say and trust the Spirit to bear witness of our testimony (D&C 100:5-8). We can have faith that even if we don't see immediate results of our faithful missionary work, God is preparing His children to receive the gospel through us. As Preach My Gospel says, "No effort is wasted". We shouldn't "dispute not because (we) see not", because faith is "things which are hoped for and not seen" (Ether 12:6). Unfortunately, I don't think I got the points across very well in my talk, but it was another good opportunity to practice speaking in front of people :)

I love you so so much! Thank you SO much for everything you do for me! I can't wait to see you :) Thank you for your constant love! And thank you for always being so good about emailing me! I realized this week that a lot of missionaries' moms don't email them the way you do me - so thank you :) I love every single one! I love you!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

​1) "Elder Hacking and Elder Hong after exchanges."

2) "Elder Liddell, who I went on exchanges with (he says hi)."

3) "FINALLY!!!!" :)

Hi Dad!!!!

I hope things go well for EFY! Good luck! :)

For the religion class, the Book of Mormon and the Restoration classes stand out. Do you think one would be a good precursor for the next? I've been super interested in Church history on my mission but haven't had much chance to learn about it; but it would be cool to have a specific Book of Mormon class, to learn more about it, right after the mission.... I probably lean towards the Book of Mormon one. But either way!

Yah, next week starts the last transfer! AH! :) It's pretty crazy it's so close. I was praying the other night and got so sad realizing I'm going to have to leave the mission... but then there are other times where I just can't wait to be home. It's so mixed! I am pretty amazed at how God's power and help have gotten me through the last 22 months. I don't feel that I've seen any big trials, but it definitely strengthens my faith that He'll see me through hard times if/when they come.

Quick question I had! What do you know about any difference in ordinance administration that are in the scriptures? For example, Adam being baptized by the Spirit (who doesn't have a body), Alma baptizing himself with someone, Oliver Cowdrey baptizing Joseph before he himself had been baptized? I mean, God can authorize anything He wants, so I'm not too worried - He knows what He's doing :) But, He could have had physical angels do the baptizing, or something along those lines, right? Just curious :)

So yesterday in Elder's Quorum we had a lesson on fathers. The teacher gave all these different statistics on children with poor or no relationships with their fathers, and how it affects crime rate and dropping out of high school and drug use, etc. It was pretty crazy. So, we talked about how fathers should be, and read a talk about their roles and why it's so important. Now to my point: for everything we talked about that a father should be, I had memories of you doing and being :) We talked about how fathers should spend quality time with their children; how fathers should preside in decision making and gospel teaching, but be loving and not dictatorial; how fathers should show a good example to their children of loving their wife; how they should be worthy to give father's blessings; etc. It reminded me once again how blessed I am to have you as a father. I seriously feel like I'm bragging whenever I talk about you, and I have to make myself hold back sometimes :) You and Mom are my best friends. So, THANK YOU! I hope you have an amazing Father's Day this Sunday! I love you tons!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Week 95--22 Months Served, 2 Months Left!

Hi Mom!!! :)

We had a great week!! We found a few new investigators, and had some other cool little successes! It feels good to not be getting all 0's - not that it matters that much, but it's still nice to have some stuff going! :) We're getting better acquainted with the ward. You've already seen how good some of them have been to us, and the rest are just as amazing :) There's a couple that got married a few days before we came into the area, and we've gotten to be pretty good friends with them! I've really enjoyed being with the missionaries here to - lots of good friends! My district leader, Elder Hacking, has been such a blessing, along with the other missionaries around!

I am excited for that book! It seems really cool! DANG you're trip sounds crazy! I'm glad the van and Makaeli are still alive! I would have cried if one of them had been seriously hurt - you guess which one :) Makaeli looks good in hospital clothes... hopefully the next time she gets to be that stylish is when she's having a kid :)

Good luck with your classes! I didn't know you're doing Pilates too.... what is pilates? :) I'm sure you'll do an amazing job, and I'll be sure to pray for you! I hope EFY goes well - ah I miss those weeks! Thanks for always helping me get into that - they were such blessings for me.

I LOVE that hymn!! I have it memorized actually, but haven't thought about it for a while. Those 3rd and 4th verses especially... so good :)

So, I've been thinking a little bit about a sentence in Preach My Gospel, which says, "Becoming clean from sin is being healed spiritually". I've expressed this before, but I loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk a couple years ago, where he explained that obedience isn't conforming our souls to something that they're not - it's helping them be what they truly are. When we sin, it harms us spiritually; it goes against everything that we are inside, since we are truly sons and daughters of God, a Being of perfect truth and goodness. So, through the Atonement of Christ, those wounds can be completely healed, and we can be restored to the spiritual health and goodness that we always have been. It usually requires that we put on a bandage, or take some medicine, or go through some "spiritual" therapy, but as we put in our effort, Christ promises He will forgive and heal us. I hope that made sense. I'm so grateful for His sacrifice that can heal us and take away the guilt that burdens us - just like your hymn says :)

Quick question - duffel bags would be considered a carry-on on an airplane, right? My two suitcases are going to be way too heavy, so I thought I'd buy myself a carry-on to help out, instead of ship a ton of stuff home. I hope it's not too early to think about that ;)

I love you so so much! Thank you for everything you do and are! You're so amazing :) Until next week!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

1) "My stash from Sister Michael on my birthday - she seriously loaded us up!!"

2) "We inherited a sister apartment... and had to cut all the hair out of the vacuum brush.... It was actually pretty satisfying :) Plus Elder Hong's tie!" 

3) "We should have proselyted like this!"

Hi Dad!!!

Sounds perfect about the bike! Thank you so much for working on that. That's super nice of him to be so helpful, and that's nice to be able to think more about it later. I did think it was a better deal than that though, so it's good to know!

I'm excited about the temple! :) Speaking of, Elder Watkins of the Seventy came to stake conference yesterday, and mentioned a talk by Elder Bednar, where he said that we actually don't take Christ's name upon us during our baptism - we covenant to, and it actually happens in the temple. I thought that was cool, and I had had a similar thought about a week before, so it was fun to have that confirmed :)

I'm really excited about that book! Thank you for that! And I never mind your musings and "ramblings". I'm constantly looking back at previous emails, trying to remember stuff :) I really liked those thoughts today!!

Elder Watkins also taught something else that connected with me. I sent some thoughts on it to Kevin, our recent convert from YSA, and I'm running out of time, so I'll just copy it here if that's ok! "I don't know about you, but I personally will sometimes find things in the scriptures that I feel contradict something else in the scriptures, or contradict something I've learned from the Church. That used to bother me a lot, until I would find or be told the answer, and then I'd be fine again! I've started noticing the pattern, though, and realized that there is ALWAYS an answer to the questions - it just isn't readily apparent always. So instead of being concerned when I come across a "discrepancy", I try to have faith in what I already know and believe, and wait patiently until the answer comes. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm learning how to do that. The Seventy that came yesterday (his name is Elder Watkins) said that even in science, there are apparent discrepancies and paradoxes between quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity. Does that mean that the scientists abandon the theories? No - they wait and research and study, knowing that both are true and will eventually come together. We can do the same in our religious searches. We know this Church is the true and restored Church of Jesus Christ. When seeming paradoxes present themselves, we should never abandon what we already know - we can just wait patiently and research and study and ask God until the puzzle pieces fit." I thought it gave some cool perspective, and it was well-timed for me because I had found some "paradoxes" recently :)

Anyways, I love you so much! Thank you for being such an amazing father and friend! Good luck at EFY! You were definitely my favorite session director out of all 4 years :)

Elder Connor Hopkin

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Week 94--And He's T.W.E.N.T.Y!!

This last week Connor turned 20. It sounds like he had a great birthday. And, I am so glad! I am also glad that next year I will not miss being with him on his birthday, like I have the last two years. :)

Hi Mom!!!!!! :)

I think I probably had the best missionary birthday ever possible :) I got my birthday package on Monday, and may or may not have opened it on Monday... but I waited until Friday to look at the card and the present! Thank you so much!!! There are about a million Panda Express's around, so that will be perfect! I'm excited about that book too. And I've eaten a TON of spicy chips! Thank you!!! :) So, on Thursday after district meeting, we had a little party with Elder Liddell's cake that he got (he turned 20 on the 26th too) and Sister Palmer was there. On Friday I woke up, opened my present, and we played tennis for exercises. Then, about half-way through the day we got a call from the assistants, telling us that we were getting a car! :) It only has a tiny amount of miles for emergencies and we only got it cause they don't want it sitting at the mission office... but still :) Then we had a great dinner, and Sister Michael randomly asked if she could come over... and then stocked our fridge for us! :) Thank you for texting her - it made my day! So, all went well! The only thing missing was my family - but that was expected!

The zone conference went great! Our musical number went well. Elder Clayton was really great, really nice, really funny, and a great teacher! His wife was pretty incredible too. They had the Manteca stake president come speak as well, and he told us all thanks for the good that we do that we don't even recognize. He even mentioned a man in his stake that after many visits from many missionaries has finally come back to church, and I realized I used to visit him with Elder Jones and Elder Ashcraft!

Thanks for the pictures!!! That's so much fun! It seems like that was me just a few months ago. I'm glad it all went well! Makaeli looks good in all blue :) GOOD LUCK with the upcoming summer! And have fun at Disneyland... oh well :) A few people here have been so surprised when they found out I'm from Utah and have never been to Disneyland. Not that it comes up that much... but sometimes :)

Thank you for that quote on kindness! I don't agree with you though... you're pretty dang kind! I think one of the biggest things I've learned from you is your quote, "You don't have to be friends with everyone, but ALWAYS be kind to everyone." I feel that's something huge you've always made sure to teach me, through your words and your example!

The work here is slowly picking up! We keep finding people with pretty good potential, but none have worked out yet. We've found 2 or 3 less active members, though, that aren't on the ward list, so that's been pretty cool! 2 seem to be pretty into get back to church! It was pretty funny - we biked up to one of them and introduced ourselves, and he said, "You know guys, I'm gonna be honest with you...... I'm a convert. I was baptized in Tracy forever ago" :)

This week I memorized "I Believe in Christ", and I've been trying to sing it and other hymns more while I'm biking around. I've come to appreciate the hymns so much more on my mission - they're really a huge blessing and bring the Spirit so fast!

I feel like there's tons more to say, but I can't remember :) So! I hope you have an amazing week! When is EFY for you? Does Dad get back from Colorado this week? How's your spin class looking? I love you SO much, and I hope you always remember how much you mean to me and everyone else around you. You're incredible! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Here is the picture of Elder Liddell's birthday cake that Connor wrote about. Sister Palmer sent the picture to me.

District Meeting--Stockton, CA
May 26, 2017

There is this awesome member in Connor's new area who helped make his birthday special. I had texted her asking what restaurants were in his area so that I could send him a gift card for a birthday dinner. She gave me a long list and then said that she would make sure he got a cake on his birthday. And, she came through--with the cake and so much more. Here is one of the best pics yet:

 Elder Hopkin and Elder Hong
   May 26, 2017