Friday, July 28, 2017

Week 102...and counting...(for one more week, at least)!

It is crazy to think that I will write only one more email to Connor next Monday and then I will get to see him and hug him two short (although they seem very long) days later. This is his second to last email. Sounds like he had a good week, which is nice to hear. You hope they can finish strong and on a positive note. This coming Monday we will get his final email telling us all about his last week in the mission field. And that he will pack his bags, go to the mission home for a final dinner and board a plane for home. There are a lot of emotions going on here: excitement, sadness; I hate to use the word "fear", but fear of the unknown. I am sure he feels them even more. Change is coming....

Hi Mom!!!! :)

Haha I don't even know what to say! I'm looking forward to both this week and next! :)

The week went really well! Last week was pretty stressful, but this one was tons better, so I'm happy! :) We had some great lessons with our investigators, and a couple came to church, and we found a new investigator that is so solid! He's part Native American, so I realized we were literally fulfilling Book of Mormon prophecy of Lehi's descendants receiving the gospel - pretty cool :) We taught him about the Book of Mormon, and before we even invited him to read it, he said, "Cool, I'll start reading this!" Then at the end of the lesson, before we had set another appointment, he said, "So... you're coming back, right?" We assured him we would :) We had interviews with President and Sister Palmer, as a companionship - that was different, but good! We had a couple of lessons, too, with less active members, and we had some great conversations with people along the way... and others that weren't so great :)

I'm planning on sending a box home with some books and stuff today. Hopefully that will get rid of enough weight! I also got myself a cheap carry-on, which should help! That's SO fun Robert got a room so close - that will make the semester that much better :) I'm pretty excited for my phone... is that bad? :) And it seems like Morgan has had a great time in Ghana - she sounds pretty grown up!! Let Ashley and Kyle know they're in my prayers please! That's exciting they get the boys home! Good luck with your classes! Someone at dinner asked what my mom does, and I mentioned that you teach exercise classes (amongst many other things) and they were quite impressed :)

I like how you said each line of that hymn could be a talk... that made me look deeper into the words, and there really is so much there!! I wonder how many other hymns/scriptures/etc are like that :) Thanks for the reminder; that has become one of my favorite hymns as well! And I do love that quote from Elder Holland! So cool! I've had a couple investigators that bring up the Second Coming, and it's cool to be able to tell them that THIS Church is preparing us for His coming....and it will NEVER die away until then (and even after). That quote is very hopeful :)

Haha I can't WAIT for story time!! I feel like nobody will be able to get me to shut up! Elder Hong and I are constantly telling each other stories, and I've realized how many cool/funny/weird/crazy stories I have from the last 2 years :)

So I have a thought from a couple nights ago but don't know if I can put in in words... but I'll try :) I was biking along and something just made me think about how much sin there is in this world. I myself, a member of the Church that knows the commandments and has covenanted and is striving to follow them, make SO many mistakes every day! Then multiply that by the 365 days per year, and hopefully again by 80 years or so. Then by the billions of lives on the earth at this moment, and again by all the lives that have ever lived on this earth... and again for the other worlds that are home to God's children. That's a LOT of mistakes! (I will add, though, lots of good deeds too :) ). Then I thought of the Savior taking every single one of those upon Himself in one night. I don't even understand a fraction of how much sin and how much suffering He went through as He performed the Atonement. Yet He did it ALL out of love for us and His Father. None of us could achieve exaltation without Him doing that for us. And still, somehow, we choose to mess up, to break commandments. We choose to not share this message with others so they can start to bring that infinite sacrifice into their lives. Some people even purposefully reject it. Sorry, I realized this is kind of sad... :) But, it just put it all a little more in perspective for me. It is so important that I show Him that I love Him and appreciate His Atonement by keeping His commandments and sharing His gospel with those around me. How else could His Atonement be worth it? It reminds me of Mosiah 2:21-22: "...if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments..." It made me feel SO grateful for His love and the sacrifice He made for me and others. Again, sorry if that was intense... :)

I think that's all for today! Thank you SO much for your email and everything you do!!! Thanks for all the hard work and preparation for the coming weeks... that has reduced my stress by at least 70% :) I love you so much, and I hope your week is wonderful! Until next week :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Week 101--Dating and Marriage...WHAT?

Hi Mom!!!!! :)

Haha so... I don't have much time left... I just did the Dating and Marriage section of My Plan :) This week went ok! Ups and downs! I'm a little stressed about a couple things, but I'm feeling ok overall! :) We committed another investigator to a baptismal date, which was really exciting! She's been really consistent about coming to church, which is rare and amazing. A couple others that had dates fell off, which was too bad, but we'll keep working with them! Things are going great with Elder Hong, which is a big blessing. Yes, he's super funny; kinda that purposefully awkward and uncomfortable funny that everyone loves :)

That's fun you got Bryn's room painted!! Good luck with the rest :) That's so good to hear that Grandma and Porter and Lucas are doing well!! Haha I'm with you on the prayer... sometimes I'll have a goal to just say gratitude for part or all of my prayer... and no matter what, a request or blessing comes up without me even meaning to! I'm glad He understands and loves us no matter what! :)

Haha that's a fun excerpt from Morgan! She's funny :) Those elders are all over her, huh?? Punks.. they need to focus :)

We had a great district meeting this week - ah my district leaders are so great!! One is from the Philippines and is one of the smartest people I've ever met! His companion was telling me that they were street contacting, and this guy was bashing them, and my district leader said, "If I can find a scripture in the Bible that says there was a prophet after Jesus, will you believe us?" Then he whipped out Acts 11:27-28...what the heck? :) The other one is great as well - has had some trials in his life but is still so happy and faithful all the time!

I'm trying to think of good stories from the week... none that I should share at the moment, cause they could have some confidential stuff... but we've had a couple funny experiences :) Always makes life good!

Thank you for the pictures of my buddies! :) I'm so excited to ball with Robert and Michael!! I hope Rob can get into my building, that would be fun! I got a box to ship stuff home, but decided to get a carry-on too... I think I'm way overweight (luggage and body ;) ) Hopefully it will all work out!

I have such a testimony of the refreshing and strength that can come from prayer! I remember at the beginning of my mission, when it was hardest, I just couldn't wait for the end of the day to talk to that One person that knows me and actually understands and loves me perfectly. And I've seen so many times at the end of a hard hour or day or week, that as I sincerely pray, He is there to help us through it!

Sorry this is kinda rushed, but I love you SO much! I'm SO excited for...whatever is coming up.... in a year or so, right? ;) Thanks again for all your love and help and support and love! Thanks for setting so many things in order for me... that's such a weight off my shoulders! I'm so grateful for you! :) I love you!!!! I hope you have a great week!!!

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Week 100--That's Right--ONE HUNDRED! 23 Months Served! One More Month!

Well, we've reached 100 weeks. That is a lot of weeks. Just a few more to go. Connor has now served 23 months and with this passing week, we are under a month before he comes home. It is getting exciting around here! Shon received a letter from the Mission Home this week. It was addressed to the Bishop, but I read it too and thought it was so nice that I would share it here. I am sure they send similar, maybe identical, letters to each Bishop, but it felt personal to me and made me a little emotional as I read it.

(It's not super easy to read being enlarged and all, so I retyped it out below.)

Dear Bishop Hopkin:

Elder Hopkin, a member of your ward, will soon return home after completing an honorable mission for the Church. He has faithfully served the people with distinction and dedication. Those whose lives he has touched will long remember his service here.

Elder Hopkin has been a Senior Companion, Trainer, District Leader, Zone Leader and an Assistant to the President. He has served with all his heart, might, mind and strength. Your efforts in welcoming Elder Hopkin and encouraging him to remain temple worthy are most appropriate and will be greatly appreciated. He will benefit from your counsel and help as he adjust to life at home.

Please accept my personal thanks for the service given by Elder Hopkin in this mission. He has been a dedicated, faithful, hardworking missionary for whom we will always have great respect and heartfelt affection. Please convey our deepest love and gratitude for all he has and will continue to do to bless others throughout his life.

President Brent A. Palmer
California Modesto Mission

We also received a letter addressed to us--as his parents. This is that letter:

Dear Brother and Sister Hopkin:

As Elder Hopkin completes his mission, we wanted to personally thank you for sending us such a wonderful missionary.

Sister Palmer and I have not only been greatly pleased with his willingness to accept the call to come to the newly created California Modesto mission, but are also very impressed by his wonderful work while serving as a full-time representative of the Savior.

We will always have a great respect and affection for your son and hope you will convey our love to him again and again.

Kindest regards, 
President Brent A. Palmer
California Modest Mission

On Sunday we got one of those awesome picture texts of Connor from a ward member. This is probably one of my favorite pictures from the whole mission. He looks so happy, so mature and so missionary-like. I love it so much!! And, I don't even know who it was that sent it. I am grateful to them, though....

"Look who we had for dinner."
Elder Hopkin
July 9, 2017

And, finally, here is Connor's letter for the week. The 100th email he has sent to me:

Hi Mom!!! :)

100 weeks!! That's over 700 days... I'm finally down to 3 weekly planning sessions left. I've been waiting for 2 years to not have to do weekly planning anymore :)

I'm so glad EFY was such a success! I hardly recognized any of those kids - that freaked me out! :) A girl from the session actually emailed me - Mirka Sansores. Do you know anything about that? :) She said she loved you and Dad, and that her testimony was strengthened so much, especially of the Atonement. Thanks for the updates on Makaeli and Bryn - it sounds like they've grown a lot. A lot of missionaries here have family members that they worry so much about - siblings being dumb, parents being less active, etc. I've noticed how huge of a blessing it is for me that I don't have to worry about any of my family - you're all so good! :) That'll be really fun to bear testimonies with Ethan and Bryn! I hope the upcoming projects and activities go well!

Thank you so much for what you said about coming home! I just did the Self-Reliance part of MyPlan, and it calmed me down a little... and also scared me a ton :) That's a good reminder that even when I had to make hard adjustments in the past, I always got through them alright, especially relying on God. And thank you for being there to support and help me! It's a huge relief that I'll be able to lean on you and Dad for counsel and support.

This week went well! It flew pretty quick :) We had a great zone conference on Tuesday that reminded us of some "areas of focus" that we as a mission are trying to improve so as to better fulfill our purpose. I got to play the piano, which is always a blessing. And, near the end, President invited me and Elder Grover to share our testimonies on the Savior. That was so scary :) It was really good for me though - it sparked a lot of thought! I was able to see so many missionary friends that I've been missing! I'll send some pictures soon :) We also had a couple of great lessons with our investigators. I have a good story for you :) For one of the lessons, we were going to simply focus on the principle of repentance. I said the opening prayer. Now, I know this is bad, but during the prayer, I was half-thinking about the coming lesson... not what I was saying. As I was kind of thinking about the prayer, I was also thinking, "Ok, we're going to teach repentance.... we're going to invite her to start repenting" etc. So, I may or may not have ended the prayer saying, "...please allow the Spirit to be here. In the name of Jesus Christ, repent!......amen!" I played it off decently though :)

I love that quote you sent!!! I like the part about doing the important things without fanfare... kinda reminds me of President Uchtdorf's talk in priesthood session last conference!

As far as phones go, I'm thinking to just go with the Samsung 7. Gray would be cool if that's available! Thank you so much for working on that for me! 2 weeks would have been long without a phone :) And THANK YOU for paying for half and the monthly plan for now - that's SO helpful!!! I'll probably be hopping on email again in a couple hours, so I'll think about it till then. But if I don't change my mind, or forget to email, just go for the Samsung 7 please :)

Thank you for the long email!! I love seeing those :) Thank you so much for all you're doing and have done for me! I love you so much!! I'll send some pictures in a bit :) You're such a blessing! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)

And, a few pictures:

"Elder Stock!!!" :)

"Elder Hong (and his ice cream), 
Me, Elder Lee, Elder Stock, Elder Morley"

"Tall Elder Mutchie" :)

"Gotta have appropriate distance! :) Sister Bird (she was in my district the whole 6 months I was in 6th ward. One of my best friends here!), Sister Webb (Probably the best missionary in this mission... she goes home with me), and Sister Shafer (I don't know her super well... but she's way cool)" :) 

Week 99

Hi Mom!!! :)

This week was super good! Ugh it dragged for some reason though.... I feel like the last 2 weeks have been 4 or 5! That doesn't mean it was a bad week though :)

We're having a little concern with a couple investigators, but some really good progress with a couple others! The SAME lady told us again she wasn't coming to church, and CAME! :) She's so funny and SO solid! We've had some great lessons with members of the ward too, which has been wonderful! I feel like there were some good stories this week, but I can't remember any very well! I got to go on exchanges with one of my district leaders, Elder Powell - it was lots of fun! He's a super good missionary! Our district meeting this week was focused on gratitude, and Elder Hong and I led a training on how gratitude is an essential part of humility. In Preach My Gospel, it says that humility is accepting the Lord's will and giving Him the honor for what is accomplished. Obviously, gratitude shows that we're giving the Lord credit for any good in our life; I also thought that it shows that we accept His will of what blessings He will give us, rather than imposing or demanding our will on Him of what we want. I love how the Church says that the temple garment is an outward sign of our inner commitment to God, and I had the thought that gratitude is our outward sign of an inner humility to God. Hope that made sense :)

Aw that looks so fun in Texas!! That reminds me of going down a couple years ago to visit Brian - we went around to the old schools, and the church, and our old house. It's so weird to see all that again! I'm so glad you got to see everyone and spend some time! So many good people :) Thanks for the missionary updates! Good stuff! That'll be fun to see Truman!

Thanks for the advice on all my junk :) I got my letter a few days ago that gave me my to-do list before I go. It had the schedule for our last couple days and everything. They're TRYING to make me trunky, I swear! Haha I made a goal on Saturday to NOT talk about home at all... and I made it! And I tried again yesterday but slipped a couple times. Today I decided it just wasn't going to happen, so I'll recommit tomorrow :)

Someone in our ward yesterday gave a super insightful testimony! She talked about that story of the foolish young man and his creditor - he received a loan for his farm, but wasted time and didn't have the money when it was due, and the creditor came to take him to jail - but the Mediator stepped in. He became the new Creditor, with more merciful conditions. Our member said that she usually things of herself as the foolish young man, the one that needs the Mediator to become her new Creditor and give her mercy. But, she put herself in the position of the old creditor. Sometimes, she said, people have wronged us and justice is due. But the Savior paid the price for those sins too - not just ours. Do we accept Christ as the Creditor for those that have injured us? She said that when we don't forgive others, we make light of the Savior's atonement because we don't accept His payment of their sins. I thought that was such an incredible thought!

I did realize that was my last fast Sunday as a missionary! I made sure to have a good fast :)

Thank you for your support, and what you said at the end. I feel pretty nervous, just wanting to do everything right back home. So thanks for the reminders; I needed that :) I love you so much! Thank you for everything!! :) Good luck at EFY!!! :)

Elder Connor Hopkin :)