Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 104, Last week! See you Wednesday!


Holy cow! I am coming home on Wednesday! Woohoo!
I didn't think I was going to email you guys, but I just wanted to say hey real quick. I am not going to Staten Island today.

Dad:" you get realeased Wed night right after you get home"

Sweet! I am looking forward to it. I am all packed and ready to go!

Elder Hooper

FYI: in case you didnt know, we are having an open house to come see Jon on Sun Nov 16th from 6-8pm.
His homecoming will be on Nov 23rd at 9am.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 103, Last Week Out!!, The last email home! Home on Nov 12, 2014!

Hey there everyone! I can't believe I am saying this, but it is true- this is my last email home. Tomorrow I will be going to the temple with the Calderwood's and eating at Carnegie Deli! I am super pumped for this. I will also be turning in my iPad, so I won't be able to email next week. I will going to Staten a island as well to see a few people before I leave. By the way, it is finally freezing cold here! The wind is terrible.

The other day I was seeking another witness that the Book of Mormon was true. I knelt down and prayed and was honest with the Lord about my desire to have a further witness of it's truthfulness. After that prayer and some time later, I realized the bulk of my testimony is that God is our Father and that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior.

I realized that my understanding of God and my relationship with Him has come from the Book of Mormon! The Book of Mormon has taught me the why of Christ, how to truly pray with faith, etc. I know that my relationship with God is real and it is because of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith that I have that relationship.

We were doing church tours last Monday evening as a way to find new investigator. I saw a man stopped on his bike using his phone and he looked easy to approach for the first street contact of the night. I told him that we were doing tours of church building and we would love to have him come inside. Surprised a first, he said yes and that he was riding his bike around the neighborhood looking for a nearby Christian church, but had no luck finding one! We went inside and showed him around. There was a special spirit present. He liked what he saw and said that he would come on Sunday as well as meet with us before. It was a total miracle!

After the miracle, we met with Josh over Skype. We had Benjie, a member, with us and also skyped in the missionaries from Josh's neighborhood in Long Island so he could meet them! It was an awesome lesson. Benjie related very well with Josh and I felt promptings flying at me for him and knew that he needs to take a leap of faith and be baptized and his family will soon come around. I read Enos with him and applied it. Looking at that scripture now it doesn't make sense how it would apply, but I worked perfectly!

We taught Curtis, a media referral sent from someone. At first he wasn't very interested and his mom forced him haha! We talked and he was not very involved. We told him to read the pamphlet and meet up with us next week to see if this is something that would interest him.

This second lesson was different. He had tons of questions! I felt promptings come regarding prayer and the Holy Ghost and the lesson was great. He even said a great prayer on his own for the first time. He asked God to help him learn more about Jesus Christ. I think he is starting to trust us.

In addition to these people, we had a family of 6 come to sacrament meeting for first time! Woohoo! They are so awesome. The father is a member, but the rest of the family is not, the kids like the church a lot and I think the mom is starting to trust us, especially after I raved about Haitian food. They make awesome meals with beans and rice!

There are so many miracles that have happened and that are going to happen in this area.

Brooklyn has a special place in my heart. I have spent the majority of my mission serving in Brooklyn and I love the people here. This branch of members are like family to me and I love them so much. I will forever miss NY, but I am so excited to continue on my journey at home. I now know where I want to go with a career and I am just ready!

See you all soon!

Love,
Elder Hooper

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 102, 2 weeks left - More families who are ready

This was a pretty fun week! There aren't very many stories this week, but hopefully I can make up for that with videos and pictures.

We had our branch Halloween party on Saturday. We set up different rooms in the church for the kids to go trick-or-treating in with activities set up for fun. The missionaries' room had tons of ghosts hanging from the ceiling (this idea came from my mom and hanging homemade ghosts on the trees with bags and newspaper) and we had donuts bouncing from strings for the kids to try and snag with their mouths (video will explain). Overall it was fun. What made it even better is that a part-member family came that we met with just a few hours before the party. They are so ready to be baptized! They moved here from Coney Island a year or so ago, but didn't know where the church was so they stopped coming. The kids committed to be baptized and the dad committed to receive the priesthood to baptize them. We talked about the party and they asked if they could go too! It was fun having them there. Another guy I talked to on the street came too.

We also met with a 21 year old young man who is so pure in heart! He has a friend in Utah who introduced him to the missionaries. He has a had a difficult life living in Brownsville and desperately needs a change. I saw in him a righteous, strong priesthood holder. He is probably the most prepared person I have ever taught. He was thanking us so much for coming to visit him and give him the scriptures he requested. He messaged us again last night saying he feels this is going to help him a lot in his search for the peace! He is awesome.
There are so many miracles happening here in Bushwick. I am excited for this area to continue to grow after I leave.

Just 2 weeks left! How crazy is that. I am very excited! This has been an awesome journey.

Love,


Elder Hooper












Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 101-- 22 days left --'Twas an eventful week

So to begin this week's entry, here is some crazy stories that happened!

We went to visit one less active family in a sketchy area and we stopped at the front entrance of the building to look for the address.
There was a group guys and one of them waves his hand at us and says get out of here. I said well is this 80 Schenectady? He responds no this is 60. I knew he was totally lying, so I said smartly, are you lying to me? He gave some ghetto sarcastic comment back and said get out of here or I'll throw bottles at you guys. I got a bit defensive and said yeah, okay, do it, while walking away. I am glad I didn't get stabbed or something. That was probably the most threatened I have ever felt. I was dumb to give attitude back to these gangsters. I get so frustrated and rebellious when people pull that stuff on me! I just get all "come at me bro" on people hahaha.

Again in a really rough area, our first encounter freaked me out. I had my iPad out and I was looking for the next person we were going to look for when this lady came up to me and said in a flirty way, "take a picture of me", and she put her hand right on my belt buckle! I was just like woah! Get thee hence woman. She was totally drunk.The next one was when we went to go talk to a woman who was in a wheel chair outside and a friend of hers (who also was drunk and high on weed) started preaching all the doctrine she knew from the scriptures saying we were wrong and what not. Right in the middle of this conversation, another lady comes up more friendly asks us if we were Mormon. We responded with a confident yes. Then she asked "Is it true that your church wouldn't allow black people?" I was just like, you've got to be kidding me. Some of the young teenagers that heard her say that, followed by my yes to her response, were like "for reals". It was bad.
Plus we still had this crazy lady preaching!

Earlier this week as I was praying, I said "Father, I love Thee".
After I said that paraphrased words came into my mind from the scripture in 1 John 4:20- "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar". I was taken aback. I realized that I needed to repent and have more charity towards those around me. I made a mental note to try and be better at this, but didn't really know how exactly.
Then during weekly planning in our companionship inventory, I blew up at Elder Goodson. I told him all the things that I was frustrated with towards him. I could tell it made him defensive and angry. I continued to ponder on what I did and wasn't so sure why I allowed that to happen. I had never done something like that to anyone. Then I realized that I was just picking at his faults and as his trainer trying to find the areas he needed to improve on, thus beholding all his weaknesses. I lost sight of who he really was. I became a liar as I was not loving my brother. I was letting a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved. It is cool to see the Lord trying to teach me when I am struggling in unique ways. I was allowing this to boil up inside and didn't realize it.

Saturday morning we went to the temple with some of the young men in the branch! It was great. We went with Harold and Isaiah Myers and brought Jeremy Perez along with us. We just did baptisms for the dead, but it was nice to be in the temple with the young men. Elder Goodson and I baptized each other as well which was a nice treat.

Last night we had our Operation Shepherd in the Bushwick 1st Branch.
The branch has 755 Members on the roles with 400 unknown people. We gathered a total of around 50 people and sent them off with some prepared lists and maps to find them. It was a lot of fun and many miracles happened too! This activity is such a blessing to the branch.

Well, I am still loving Bushwick and continuing to work hard. Though home is on my mind frequently it doesn't make me forget the sacred nature of my calling and the covenants I have made to devote everything I have to the Lord.

Love,


Elder Hooper






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week 100 - 23 months!!

This Tuesday (Oct 14th) is my 23rd month mark. Time sure does fly!

We have an investigator with a baptismal date for November 2nd! We are
super excited! We taught him the Plan of Salvation and talked about
the Doctrine of Christ. He said "all I need to do is work on the
Doctrine of Christ. I need to get baptized too." We were just like,
yes you do! We committed him and he said yes. We then said that he
would need to come to church. He said, "well can I call you guys
Saturday if I am going"? I then said "what is keeping you from
coming?" He sat and started thinking. Tears formed a bit in his eyes
and then he said, I don't know. The direct impression that came to my
mind is that he feels guilty and not good enough to come to church. I
asked him if that is the way he felt. He ashamedly said yes. We
comforted him and explained how that is so not true. He felt relief
and we asked him if we could go to church with him. He agreed! He is a
good man and needs the gospel! We picked him up and traveled to the
church with him running into a few members on the bus too! He really e
joyed it and all the talks were about love overcoming fears and
overcoming the challenges in the world. It was perfect.

After church we were walking down the street doing some look ups and I
was staring at a car that had something under its wheel, turned a way,
but then something caught my eye under the other side of the tire. It
was a crunched $20 bill! I was shocked! I grabbed it of course. My
companion and I are going out to eat! Following our dinner with the
Myers family. We headed over to the church to watch the broadcast of
the fireside in Manhattan where Elder L. Tom Perry was speaking for
the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair. It was not coming through on
the church's satellite system, but through a live Internet feed. Our
iPads were not compatible with the feed due to the restrictions that
have been installed on it. After downloading some forbidden apps,
putting the iPad at the microphone so we could hear it since the video
feed was dead, and trying other devices, Elder Morse and I still had
some tricks up our sleeve. We wanted to at least watch Elder Perry
would speak. We went to the Clerk's office computer, disassembled it,
and hooked it up to the tv! It worked! It was a hassle. We got it all
hooked up just in time to hear and see him speak.

So, I had a cool experience after my interview with President
Calderwood. I went into the hallway and I reverently prayed and talked
with God about my desire to gain a stronger testimony of him. I have
been having many "logic vs. faith" like questions and they were
irritating me. I went back into my life and thanked him for all the
blessings I had received. While doing this, my mind went back into a
period of my life that was extremely difficult, but that I hold sacred
to me. It shaped me to who I am today. I directly saw the hand of God
in my life. I know that he directed those few years in my life. I know
that God is there!

I had a really cool conversation with a girl on the train today. We
got on the train and she sees my name tag and squints to look at it. I
showed it to her and she asked what church we belong too. I went and
sat next to her and had a really good conversation. She asked what our
church was like, so I explained the purpose of our sacrament meetings
which led into her asking about who Christ is to us. I explained the
Doctrine of Christ, which answered her question about how do we know
if we are doing what God wants us to? I read from Helaman 5, then 2
Nephi 31 and told her that God expects to live Christ's doctrine. She
thanked me for sharing what I did with her. She has been searching for
truth. It was cool!

My birthday was great as well! Thanks to all who wished me a happy
birthday. Grandpa and Grandma Hooper, thanks so much for the letters!!
I also got a fun package from my family. It was a fun day.

I am looking forward to another week in Bushwick!

Love,

Elder Hooper

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 99 - 5 weeks to go.... You want me to do what..?

So early this week we had our transfer meeting! Since neither my companion or I were being transferred, we weren't planning on going to the transfer meeting until we got word that President Calderwood had a surprise for us. Last time this happened there was a change in all the boundaries of the zones, so I had no idea what was going to happen. After the meeting was over he announced that he had a prescreening of Meet the Mormons. I was stoked! I haven't watched a legit movie for 2 years! I was instantly hooked in the stories. This movie is awesome, so you should all go find a theater it is showing in and see it!

So I taught English class! That's right, I taught people who speak no English to speak English without knowing their language. It was super fun! I was on a split with the ASL elders so they could pass off an investigator of theirs over to us and then we could still teach a new individual as well. After we finished, my companion and I were supposed to split with the Zone Leaders so they could teach English class and a lesson. However, we were super late and would make them late to their lesson. They asked if I could just teach their English class. At first I was like, shoot, I don't even know Spanish! I haven't ever taught a class like this. I told them I would since I already committed to help them, but was late. I totally made it all up as I went and it was actually pretty fun! The lesson was on helping someone move. Words like heavy, light, load, help, call, friend, neighbor, etc, was what I was teaching. After a while I didn't know where else to go and I just had the thought to tie in some gospel topics into the words too! I talked about how sin gives us a "heavy load" and repentance makes our "load light". They liked that a lot. I then talked about how Christ taught us who our neighbor was and I joked about how Puerto Ricans have a small feud with Dominicans, but Christ taught us that even they are all our "neighbors" and we should "help" them. Another one was about sometimes we hold others back from blessings by turning their help away. I tied that into Peter walking on water with Christ and illustrated him rejecting Christ's help- why would you say no when you are drowning! Then I used the words the Peter and said to Christ and put into the lesson terms, "will you help me"? It was all perfect. I know the Lord helped me a ton in that lesson. I had no idea how to do this. It was amazing how well I did haha. Thankfully the Lord helped me by putting lots of ideas into my mind.

Conference was awesome! It has been by far the best conference I have ever heard- it is all exactly what I needed to hear. Something that I realized is that I have gained a strong testimony by hearing the words of others and that is a spiritual gift- "To others it is given to believe on their words". However, I have felt that that is not enough for me to continue my life where I am currently. I am counseled to seek all spiritual gifts and I have felt impressed that I should seek the spiritual gift which entails "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God". I do know that this Gospel is true, but need to seek a further witness.

Every talk that was given was telling me the exact same thing- I should work on receiving my own witness by asking God. I have never really done this. I have never asked God for a witness of the Book of Mormon. I did once, but it came by applying what I read. I do know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but I have never asked God if he was. I have never asked God if this church was true, I just know it- by their fruits ye shall know them. I am excited to pursue this.

Well, it is time to go shopping, woohoo!

Love,

Elder Hooper



Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 98 - 6 Weeks to go --- Lovin' Bushwick!

Late last week we taught a part-member family who has a lot of potential to come back to church. However, this time when I walked into the house there was a different feel to it. While we were trying to teach I could tell something was wrong and I couldn't teach. I sat praying, asking God what it is I am feeling, and what came to mind was one of the individuals has drank too much alcohol. I told them that the spirit is not here and we need to figure out why. She did tell us that she had a margarita, but just a small one, so I figured it was nothing. There were some other things causing some contention too. The impression that alcohol was the reason the Holy Ghost was gone continued to stay in the front of my mind. Not much happened. After the lesson she fed us some dinner and she pulled out her big margarita Bud Light mix from the freezer. It was a mega size! I was disappointed of her actions. I was grateful that Heavenly Father gave me the Gift of Discernment to understand that something was wrong in their household.

(Ok, I have to stop right here! My companion wanted his haircut and we are not in our normal neighborhood right now, so we walked into a Chinese barbershop. It was empty and decently priced. We go in and he sits down and all the Chinese people start speaking in Chinese at the same time really loudly and it got pretty overwhelming. My companion talks over them and says to me in a look of panic "should we go somewhere else where they speak English"? The barber says, "it's ok, we speak English." I just died laughing!)

So, I just love sacrament meeting here in Bushwick. The members are very inspirational. The majority of the members are well educated, have good jobs, raise families in NY, but still struggle. Their testimonies are simple and powerful. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony and it was nice to feel the spirit. It is awesome to feel strengthened by sharing your testimony to the congregation.

So there are just under 800 names on our roles here in the branch I am serving in. 700 of them are people who are not active who we know nothing about. We have been going through that list and been working hard and walking a lot looking up all these people. It has been paying off! Many members still live there and got lost in the branch split 2 years ago. We are continuing to find new families every day! One family in particular has 3 kids that were prepared to be baptized, but they weren't super active and didn't go through with it. We are teaching them again and they still want to be baptized. Hopefully this time they will be able to be baptized. We are helping the Elder's Quorum members with their home-teaching, and we are also getting excited about a family history class we are holding, as well as the "Meet the Mormons" movie showing soon in Brooklyn.

I failed to write in my journal this week so all the details are kind of a blur. I will be sure to write in my journal this week though!

Love,

Elder Hooper

#LDSconf this weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 97 - 7 weeks to go, ---Miracles----

On Monday at our zone activity I was schooling some other missionaries at basketball until I went to jump for a block and then I came down wrong and sprained my ankle! I'll give it a 6 out of 10. Nothing too crazy. It sure did hurt like crazy though. It took me 30min to walk a 10min walk to the train from the park. It was sad haha! Because of the pain I was in, we went to the church to finish out our night by doing some google drive updating and making phone calls. Elder Goodson made phone calls for 1.5 hours straight. He just went through the phone and started dialing numbers in our contacts. He set up 3 appointments and 2 for today while on his exchange! It was great. I was so proud of him. I think The Lord caused this ankle sprain so he could have that chance. Our plans were definitely not to be calling people that night or to hang on the church. I am walking 90% normal now. The swelling is going down and it is still a little bruised.Elder Heywood and I taught an awesome lesson with a Spanish family At first we were just teaching about prophets and it wasn't clicking with them. After this kind of ended I just felt impressed to just crank down and say "we are not here to drag you to come to church and force you to do these things. We are here because we know who you can become. We see the potential in you to be better than who you are now. What is keeping you from participating in church?" They opened up after that. The wife said that she was worried about people judging her since she hasn't come for a while. She was worried about talking with the branch president and repenting. She also had some questions. The husband said that he has been seeking other truths outside of the gospel and feels that he is being held back by going to church currently. He is trying to find answers that fit both atheists and believers. The mom said she just has hard feelings towards some of the members. Elder Heywood (who I was on exchanges with) said something very profound- "we did not make covenants with sister soandso. We didn't make covenants with the elders quorum president, and we didn't make covenants with the branch president. We made covenants with God and we shouldn't let others' actions keep us from keeping our covenants and severing our relationship with God.

A miracle happened Sunday night. At 8:06pm, Elder Goodson and I had no plans. We went to a Stake Priesthood meeting that we thought was going to take the test of our night. I told Elder Goodson that we should pray and ask God for direction for the next 45 minutes. When my companion closed the prayer, I sat and pondered for a moment. The idea came to go visit a house of multiple people we met a few weeks ago who said we could come back. As we walked to the street, we saw our neighbor Carlos, who was a potential investigator. We had a really good talk with him and prayed with him. We gave him a commitment and set up a temporary appointment. Now we got on the street with the family I was originally thinking of and I heard someone playing the violin. It was a Bach concerto that I had heard before and it is a very challenging piece. Whoever was playing it was good. My companion gave me some courage to go and knock on the door. To my surprise it was a younger man, probably in his late 20s. I was expecting a woman! There aren't many men violinist in NY that I have met. I told him that he sounded really good on this difficult concerto. We talked about our different music backgrounds and I got his phone number to jam out sometime. We finally get to the door of that one family and they weren't even home! We walked back to our apartment and sat down and made a phone call until a man with a beautiful dog walked past. I asked him what kind of dog it was and then he told us that his dad came to our church before. It is amazing to see how God works! He used the memory I had of a certain family and the route we always take to get there to put me on that path where he knew that only I could touch those individuals' lives. God heard my prayer of faith that night. He seems to do that often- putting people in my mind to visit, but really intending me to reach someone else along the way.

Elder a Goodson and I had a pretty good week. We have been finding new Less-Active member families and we are helping this branch grow. At a stake priesthood meeting I was able to see all of my Staten Island friends. That was a good boost for me. It brought back a lot of good memories!

I love you all, have a great week.

#LDSconf in 12 days

Elder Hooper

 Playing in the subways!
Taking some fun pictures at the Brooklyn Bridge Park! 
 This is what I did on Monday after I stopped emailing. Still hurts, but I can walk on it. I was playing basketball- while schooling some kids, I jumped to block a shot and came down on my ankle wrong!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 96 - 8 weeks to go ---22 Months!---

I am so grateful to God for all the experiences He has given me here on this Earth, especially on my mission. I am not going to lie, the past couple of weeks have been some of the most difficult weeks I have had. I am so grateful for them. I am sure by now that those who have been reading my blog and letters I send home know that I struggle with some emotional challenges, namely Anxiety and OCD. Of course I am not the most severe of cases, but it was severe enough for me to make me almost dysfunctional on my mission. The first few months, beginning in the MTC and in the field were incredibly difficult. I was having many physical symptoms from stress, I couldn't process my thoughts, I had these overwhelming fears of various things, and disturbing thoughts that I could not get rid of. All in all, I was just going crazy inside due to the fact that all the escape routes that I knew to relieve stress like music, sports, TV, etc, were all gone.

I spoke with my mission president about the things I was feeling and he lead me to see an LDS Psychologist . This is where my life changed. This was an answer to my prayers. (A couple of years before my mission at home, I received multiple impressions from the Holy Ghost that I needed to seek help for this challenge. At the time I knew nothing about depression or other emotional obstacles and did not understand what these impressions meant. I was scared about the thought anyway. I remember getting on a train in Brooklyn now on my mission and I had the exact same impression- that I needed to seek professional help. Still I didn't know how to even pursue this impression. Then President Calderwood

mentioned the option for me to see a psychologist and it all clicked. I knew that this was an answer to my prayers.) The Psychologist taught me how to channel my thoughts properly and how to handle to disturbing thoughts and fears that I had. Over the course of these two years I have made tremendous growth! I still struggle with it here and there, but I now know how to handle it. I understand how the human mind operates a lot more (this is why I am now pursuing and education in Psychology when I go home).

The first year of my mission I learned what my challenges were and God gave me the right areas, the right companions, and the right obstacles to learn what this was all about. The middle of my mission was a time for me to see how much I have learned and be a leader in the mission and grow a ton! A year and half I had some new challenges that came that taught me how to overcome more anxiety, and now having exactly 2 months left God gave me the ultimate challenge. That challenge was doubting my testimony. I understand now that I was having a lot of anxiety and the OCD in my mind was interpreting these feelings and making me think that I was doubting my testimony. For weeks I battled this feeling that I was losing conviction in the gospel. I couldn't stop thinking about "what if this" and "what if that" and I felt distanced from God. In the past, whenever I had these feelings of anxiety, I always turned to the Atonement to make them ease and handle them well, but since I wasn't sure if I believed that this was real, I was all on my own. I desperately pleaded, fasted, and studied to have a stronger conviction, but nothing came.

I knew that the feelings I was having were not rational and I could not stop thinking about this whole "I am a missionary who is going home soon and am not sure if this is true anymore" feeling. It brought a lot of fears. However, I knew the Gospel was true and didn't understand why I kept thinking it wasn't true.

In a meeting with all the trainers and trainees last week, President Calderwood spoke on Enduring to the End. I knew that I needed to simply endure well. I told God with all the faith I could muster that I was going to endure and never doubt him because I knew that this was true and that He indeed was there. I studied about enduring and learned that "enduring well" was just "learning well". Because of this challenge I learned some valuable lessons of enduring. When you think all hope is lost, that is when you need to put all your "reserve tank" or "72 hour supply" of strength and faith to hang on just a little longer. When the fuel gauge light comes on reading empty, you push it a little farther. However, most of the time you can go a few extra miles longer when you feel you are empty, but you are simply scared to try it (trust me I have done this many times in my Chevelle haha! But that is besides the point I am trying to make!) Push harder. When you can't go anymore, gather in all the strength you got, pray for angels, endure, and push that much harder!

So, to make this long story short, I know God lives. He is my Father, and because He is such a good one, He knows just what challenges to throw my way to make me happy. "He is the gardener here, and knows what He wants me to become. He cuts me down so I can re-grow stronger." Jesus is the Christ. There truly is a Prophet of God on Earth. God loves me and He loves you!

Love,
Elder Hooper

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 95 - 9 weeks to go, Humidity is a killer!

We had a great lesson with a part-member family this week. After
praying about what we should share, we felt impressed to do the jar
analogy of putting The Lord first in our life. We put all the
materials on the table and then asked if the husband of the member
wanted to join us. We used the cool analogy that we felt prompted to
bring as an excuse to have him come in. We started asking him
questions to see where he was spiritually. Hearing this question from
my mission president yesterday at our zone conference, I asked, "are
there any questions you have that religion hasn't been able to
answer"? He responded with "why does God allow evil to happen to good
people?" We had a really good conversation about this topic and talked
to him about our next visit- teaching him the tools to use to receive
his own answers to these questions. We didn't even use the analogy,
but we had a good lesson!

We had an interesting street sweep a few days ago! I was saying it
would be cool to do some family history finding by setting up a
Christmas tree with pictures of our family on the tree, thus becoming
our family tree. I said it would be intriguing. Elder Goodson then
says jokingly, "very punny". I didn't have any idea what he was
talking about, until he explained "In'tree'guing" haha! The activity
went ok. We had a few signs up and made our family tree using a
Christmas tree from the church! I talked to a man who is agnostic, but
really just in denial. It would take God Himself to come down to this
man to get him to believe. We used the free wifi from Dunkin Donuts to
show the FamilySearch website on our iPads.

This week is a big week for any NY- 9/11. Whenever I saw the 9/11
memorial specials on tv I would always think, get over it, it was was
10 years ago. Living here, I understand why it means so much to the
people here in New York. Not only did it cause so much destruction and
kill many people, New Yorkers are very sentimental and have tender
feelings towards their individual towns. All their history of their
families are in these cities. They either risked everything they had
to come to NY and began a new life here, or were born here with
countless generations that go back to NY. It is pretty cool.

So, all is well out here in Brooklyn. The work is going very well
right now! We are finding lots of Less Active families and helping
them make the steps to go to the temple and bring back the feelings of
safety, peace, and courage the gospel brings.

Love,

Elder Hooper

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 94 - 10 weeks to go, Thankful for the Savior.

Last Saturday, we left a little earlier to go play sports with people
in the park. It is a fun way to fulfill our missionary purpose. I
taught some handball to the newer missionaries and one guy asked if he
could jump in and play doubles. He quickly got bored and said, "ok
let's cap at 15 and then Elder Hooper and I will play each other". I
thought that was kind of funny. This man I was playing with was
awesome. He was a big guy with some cool tattoos and has had a really
rough life. After our first game, in which he beat me 15-10, we took a
breather and talked for a few minutes. He expressed to me during the
game that he was released from jail 6 months ago. Now while we sat I
asked him to tell me more. He was a heavy drug addict, but has been
clean now for 3 months. He just moved out into the area to get a fresh
start and was playing handball to keep his mind occupied. He has
multiple degrees and worked in pharmaceuticals. I told him about the
Savior's Atonement and the cleansing power He has extended towards us.
We played another game and I beat him 15-13. We talked some more and
had a tie breaker game- he got me good 15-7. He is such a good man. I
pray that he can continue to stay clean and be strong. It was near to
feel the the love the Savior had for him.

Elder Goodson and I went up into Williamsburg and Greenpoint to look
for some less active members. It is evil out there, but we had some
fun. While we were waiting for a bus to come, there were these guys
(who were mostly drunk) playing frisbee outside the bar across a busy
street. It was funny to watch them to right over the tops of these
cars. They said hey it's the Jehovah Witnesses. I quickly said nope,
we are Mormon. They threw the frisbee to us and my companion grabs it
and makes a novice throw back to the man across the street. He throws
it to me, I throw it back, and I just bombed the throw back twice!
After a while I grabbed the frisbee again to redeem myself (I mean
seriously, I have played ultimate frisbee a ton, I can throw a
frisbee!). I gave him a perfect toss back. He threw it back to me and
I just make a "no big deal" catch and send it right back. The drunk
guys were going crazy haha! I made a few other leaping catches and
nice throws back. I said "ha, I was just husslin' you guys". They were
all shocked (so was I). I think they liked us after that.

So I did a bad job at keeps up with my journal so I can't remember all
the details of this week, but this is do want to add. This is the
Elder Hooper tip of the day haha: There is power in simply thinking
about the Savior! One thing that I have felt my entire mission is the
importance of remembering the Savior. In addition to the importance of
this as part of our covenants, thinking about the Savior throughout
the day gives us unimaginable strength. Simply picturing Him in your
mind, memorizing a scripture about His Atonement, or watching a Bible
Video on LDS.org brings peace and guidance! Try it throughout your day
today and see what you think. If you like it, keep doing it!

Sorry it is short this week!

Love,

Elder Hooper

30 Day Challenge Starts today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 93-11 weeks to go, Back in da BUSH!

This week has been awesome, crazy, stressful, and interesting! I am
back in Bushwick, my first area, in Brooklyn! I am stoked to be back.
I had a hard time my first round here, but now I am ready and
experienced to take on the challenge. This is where all the hipsters
live, and then we have the ghetto of the ghetto in the southern part
of the boundaries where my companion and I live.

I am training Elder Goodson who is from Salt Lake City. He is 18 years
old and straight out of high school. He is going to be an awesome
missionary. Training is pretty stressful. In fact, I was so stressed
out this week with all the changes and trying to train, I had an upset
stomach and loss of appetite and such for a few days. I was stressin'
out of my mind, but I am good now! Since we got blinded I to Bushwick,
we had a ton of stuff to take back to our area. Elder Morse and his
trainee also were blinded into this area and they had a lot of stuff.
I begged Elder Bottomfield, the mission vehicle coordinator, to lend
me a car for a few hours. After a lot of hassle I finally was able to
round up a car. The car however, was blocked in by two cars. I went
down to Elder Bottomfield again and got the spare keys to those cars
and backed them all out. While backing the second one I blocked a
diesel truck in the road causing a big traffic jam! It was scary. I
pulled our car out and moved the other two back in. Our car was
sketchy! The righ tire was wobbling. I can't believe we made it to
Brooklyn and back in one piece!

After we got settled in our apartment and figured out how to work in
the area, we had lots of stress lifted. A year and a half ago with my
trainer, Elder McDonald, and both being new, we knocked on doors
endlessly every day with no success. For seven and a half months that
is what I did. We taught a few people, and because of our hard work
and determination, The Lord gave us a miracle baptism! This was just
not effective at all for the branch and us. The impression that I
received after praying, and meeting with members was to strengthen
less active families, "clear the blind spots" (teach all members of
the family who are not yet members), and convert them to The Lord so
they can stay in the gospel. Individuals have a much more difficult
time staying active in this area.

Sundays are always my favorite days. I love the Bushwick 1st Branch so
much. I got a warm welcome back and it was so good to see the members
that I love so much. These members have a special place in my heart.
The new members that have moved in are awesome! All 6 of the
missionaries (5 of which all got transferred in last Tuesday) spoke in
sacrament meeting to introduce ourselves.

Here are some miracles and funnies:
While I was trying to navigate through the cement jungle of Brooklyn,
we got turned around and risked being super late to an appointment. As
I was looking around I just had this thought to keep going straight. I
was second guessing myself saying to just retrace my steps and find a
land mark to navigate by, but I decided to listen to that first
thought. We started walking and lo and behold, the street was right
there! I knew it was the Holy Ghost. It is so cool to see the Lord
bless us in such small, but significant ways.

Another cool miracle was having the other Elders knock into us haha!
They let us in and we gave a short spiritual thought then heard a
knock at the door. It was the other Elders coming to visit them too!
What a coincidence! (It actually wasn't which was cool.
 
Another trainee in the district was having a hard day and was praying
to see someone that he would recognize since he gets a little
intimated with all the ghetto folks. Then he knocks into us out of all
755 members in the area). It was a pleasant surprise.

The funnies, well I will just summarize them. One guy came up to us
and started talking like a auctioneer, but understandable saying he
was an anachronism and wasn't actually talking to us. Another guy was
talking to us like a 3 year old since he was totally high, and a
Jewish lady gave us a card with the seven commandments of Noah. I
never heard of any doctrine on Noah having 7 commandments. Obviously
he preached the gospel of repentance. Maybe it's in the Torah? She
said we should go to church. Haha it was interesting.

Well that's all to this week! Have a wondrous week.

Love,

Elder Hooper


Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 92 - 12 to go, Training, 21 months.

I am getting transferred and I have been called as a trainer!
President Calderwood called me early last week informing me of the
call that The Lord has extend me through him. I am super stoked! I
have been having impressions that this was coming and I am so excited
for it! I have no idea where I will be serving, but I will know
Tuesday afternoon. I have been going through my journal during the
time I was being trained in the mission field to look for things I
wish I would've learned. The first thing is what missionary work
actually is. I wrote day 5 being in New York- "We should finally be
getting back to missionary work tomorrow". I was trying to figure out
what I was doing that wasn't missionary work. I read a few days
earlier and read about the "planning" phase of missionary work. I
thought missionary work was simply tracting all day and that is all it
was and all we were supposed to do!

Last week we had a crazy rain storm! Most of it happened during the
night, however. I don't know if you heard about it on the news, but we
had a total of 37 billion gallons of rain fall, or 13 inches, in 3
hours! This is definitely not Arizona. We got stuck in what seemed
like a labyrinth of water. The majority of the streets were flooded
and there was traffic everywhere as we were all just trying to find
our way out of the town we were in! There were tons of cars stuck in
deep portions of the floods and some cars totally submerged. Many
basements flooded too, but, we were ok. It made for an eventful day.

We had a member give us an opportunity to serve their neighbor next
door who was trying to remodel one of her rental properties after it
got destroyed by the previous tenant. They were heavy smokers and
smoked inside the apartment destroying all the surfaces of the walls.
They were all brown with a coat of yellowish shavings. I don't know
how the shavings got on all the walls, but it was nasty. We helped
paint and things. There was a lot of stress on this family so I asked
if we could pray with them before he left. I could tell it brought a
lot if peace in their hearts. The owner was tearing up a bit, due to
the stress that was on her. She has been neglecting to make God apart
of the situation. I think we will be able to teach them soon.
I am so glad that I have been born into this church. Many people ask
me, "well were you born into this church"? I respond with a yes (or
sometimes if I am feeling "smart" I will say, no I became a member
when I was 8. I don't actually say this, but it's true though haha!) I
would start to think that maybe I am just apart of this church because
I was born into it. Part of this is true, but if I hadn't been I would
have missed out on soooo many blessings! Just as it pays to begin
playing a musical instrument when you are younger, you are able to
better understand the ways of The Lord if you learn the true way
younger. It is so much harder to change your life and learn something
new when you are older. This doctrine continues to change my life! I
see in other people who get easily angered and disappointed quickly of
their lack of understanding of the Doctrine of Christ.

An older couple we have been teaching and helping around their house
fed us some awesome food Saturday! Delicious Ox Tail, lasagna, a nice
salad, and homemade garlic bread. So good! They are from Jamaica and
are the nicest people you will ever meet!
Well I have to go pack u my stuff to get ready to leave tomorrow!
Love,
Elder Hooper

Friday, August 15, 2014

Week 91 - 13 to go, Crazy Week!

We had a super night planned. We had 2 lessons at 6pm and 2 planned at 7:30pm so we needed to do some split action. We had Bro Macke and Max Moss split with us in the beginning (which actually didn't happen because one appointment canceled, so Bro Macke went home). We had a good lesson with One investigator and gave him a baptismal date for August 31st. He gladly accepted and asked lots of good questions. We also found out that he has some extreme OCD. We gave him a pass-a-long card and he was ritualistically tapping the corners of the card. I was so glad we caught that so we could figure out what he is going through. He seems totally normal today and was much more engaged then he ever has been!

I was with the Senior Couple, the Palmers. The Palmers hit it off well with him, and while they were talking I was praying for inspiration about what I could teach Bro Tandit. I felt impressed to talk about the Atonement and the Doctrine of Christ. I taught about the importance of the Atonement and how everything is an appendage to it (everything meaning the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith. I shared with him some personal experiences and it was powerful. So after all our lessons, we met back up at the church to reexchange, however, Elder Odd never shows up. We call him and the member with him with no luck.

After 20min I call our District Leader and tell him we will meet up with him until we get a hold of my companion. We did so and my District Leader was freaking out because he heard something along the lines of "Elder Odd is missing and he has the phone. We got in a car accident". He was thinking my companion is like dead or went rogue haha! All was well. Elder Odd had a good experience teaching and then got rebuked by the member for trying to give a baptismal date on the first lesson, which was good because we got some good feedback. Giving dates on the first lesson is something our mission is trying to focus on.

Love, Elder Hooper
Teaching a Skype Lesson

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 90 - 14 to go, Merry Christmas! Um..What?

So, our district went Christmas caroling. Yes, that's right. Christmas in July! It was super awkward at first, but we actually had a good response to it. People thought it was really cool and wished that we all could think more about Christ through out the year. While were doing this, we went to one guy that said he just got out of the shower and can't come to the door. After thinking it was kind of weird that you would say that to a total stranger at the door, we walked on to the next house and started singing. Then we have this guy in a black truck pull up a few houses down and it was the same guy that said he got out of the shower. He said "it sounded like your message was important and I want to hear it". We were pretty shocked so we sang him a carol, explained who we were, and then we got his contact info and he said he wanted us to come back the next day. The next day we taught him and the lesson went really well. He asked a lot of good questions and seemed to really understand what we were saying. He told us that he has been looking for the truth since he lived here (which is most of his life). He explained that when he says he needs to get closer to Christ someone always comes to answer that prayer. We also had his neighbor, Josh Daley, who is 16 come with us. He thought it was cool having him there. This man is one that missionaries dream of having- people who are truly ready for the true gospel. We did call him on Saturday to remind him bout church and he seemed a bit skeptical, so I am not sure if he came across some anti material, but we will stop by later in the week.

On Saturday, an investigating couple I taught while I was in Jamaica got married! I was excited that I was able to participate in the celebration. They asked me to play the violin before they gave their personal vows in the reception after the ceremony. They are the cutest couple ever. I love them a lot, and they will be getting baptized next week! I loved teaching them.

Love,
Elder Hooper


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Week 89, I love my mission!

So we had an awesome skype lesson last night with Josh. Bro Macke in
the ward was there at the church building and we asked him if he would
like to join us. He told us that he wouldn't want to because he
doesn't like Skype since he is 71 years old. Elder Odd said, well at
least come see what it is like. We got him a chair and sat him in the
screen! At first he was like no way don't let me be seen, but once he
saw Josh come up on the screen he immediately changed and talked, and
bore testimony. Bro Macke loved it! It was so funny because at first
he was so against it, but Elder Odd gently coerced him to do it haha!
It turned out sooo good.

I am so grateful for Preach My Gospel. I have learned so much from
studying this manual. I am seeing my teaching improve tremendously.
What is amazing though, is having anxiety and learning to really
control it, but most importantly learning to understand my mind. I
have learned how to work with people on a psychological level so that
their spiritual level will be reached more efficiently. I am learning
how to ask the right questions that get the person to think and then
teach themselves and see what they personally need to do. While we
were teaching a young man named Jeffrey, I did this. I started asking
him questions to understand him and his testimony. He responded shyly
at first, but I was able to open him up. We got to the conclusion that
he doesn't understand why knowing the Book of Mormon is true is
important. We read 1 Nephi 6 and dissected it to show him how to
study. Following this, we asked him follow up questions, and then
basically started to say so now what? What are you going to do because
of what you learned? He opened up and told himself what he needed to
do, so we committed him to do what he said he felt he needed to do. I
am so thankful The Lord has given me this personal challenge. I have
been able to help sooo many people as I have learned to understand how
our minds think. Even today the sisters were freaking out over an
investigator. I was able to say a few things like "hey you are having
this thought which is causing you to feel this, and you just need to
do this". This gift I have been given is from The Lord and I am very
grateful for it. He has taught me to be who I am.

The Lord has sent me another one of His children that has an emotional
disorder. This investigator of ours has been taught by multiple
missionaries for years, but never quite makes it to baptism because of
his fears and doubts. I have known him for a while now and love him a
lot. I felt a special connection to him from the beginning not knowing
why. As I prayed about what to share with him, after the sisters
passed him over to us, I felt prompted that he has anxiety and
depression. I could easily see it when we talked with him. When he
begins to feel anxious by the chemical imbalance in his mind, he
naturally goes to try and find the source of the problem. He
immediately feels that it is the discrepancies in the church. He
begins to doubt and that's why he backs out of baptism because he is
feeling anxious about something he hasn't figured out yet, so his mind
tries to find the source of the anxiety and he points it at his
testimony. I felt prompted to talk about that and it went really well.
I also gave him a blessing and it was powerful.

I love being a Zone Leader. We had a good companionship study in the
morning trying to figure out what we could do to help out the zone
with inviting investigators to be baptized in the first lesson. It
hasn't been happening very often in our zone and the impression that
we have received is that we need to help improve the teaching skills
of our missionaries. If we can learn how to teach effectively and give
the baptismal date with the proper expectations and tone to the
lesson, it will go so much smoother instead of just winging it to get
the number. The idea came about to do a survey of the the missionaries
in the zone. We made a survey straight from PMG chapter 10 which is
all about teaching skills through Google Forms. We are creating it
around the same format as chapter 6's Christ-like Attribute
Assessment. It consists of 50 questions on various topics in each
category in chapter 10. We are excited to see the results.

We also attended on of the units in our zone's district meeting. I am
so glad we did! In their district, the District Leader decided to make
a Vision, Goals, and Plans for their district for the rest of the
transfer. This was just soooo good. I was receiving impressions to add
to their meeting focusing on key indicators as goals and adding inputs
on previous VGPs I have set. This district needs a faith booster.
Their ward is struggling and their pools are dead. They wanted to set
a goal for 8 investigators as a district for the next 3 weeks. I felt
unsettled about it. I then said very excitedly and emotionally charged
something along lines of "you can do so much more than that!" Elder
Odd then added how many our district has found in 2.5 weeks- 24. They
were all like woah. They have only found 2 in 2.5 weeks. Their faith
increased a bit and 20 investigators was set! I felt very good about
this! It was amazing. The spirit was guiding all of that. I love this!
Then, that night they found 4 new investigators and 3 more the rest of
the week! With increased vision, comes increased motivation.

We also held our Zone Training Meeting all focused on Preach My
Gospel. This manual is awesome! I have gained a much stronger
testimony as I have been center I my studies on it.

Here is this week's funny: These two teenage boys were on their roof
cranking their music and jamming out. I look at them, they look at me.
I stop and just starting dancing with them! It was hilarious. We all
got some good laughs out of that.

Well, I love you all!

Elder Hooper

(Unloading some storage!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Week 88, Do I sound like Batman to you?

Happy Monday! It is a been crazy week (I think every week is crazy in its own way). Elder Odd and I got sick so that made the week feel long. We just had sore throats, fever feeling, and sinus issues. We still worked hard and had a super good week though. I have been losing my voice so it is very deep and scratchy. I will go up to someone, start talking, and say something like "sorry for sounding like batman, but I have lost my voice". I don't really say that, but I sound like him!

The adversary has been trying to bring back memories of mistakes in the past. This is something that everyone feels in their life after moving on from something difficult. Satan is trying to get me to snatch the forgiven mistakes out of the Savior's hand that he already took away from me. I am proud of myself though! I didn't allow this to get me down. I just trusted in the Savior and knew he could heal me from these scars. I also knew that if I denied the cleansing power of the Atonement, I would not have faith in the Savior. I learned a really cool lesson regarding the justice and mercy of God as well. I really have been trying to be more focused in my studies. I learned that because of mankind being cut off from God's presence we were all subject unto justice which would require us to suffer for all the sins we have committed. However, because of God himself coming down, he paid the demands of justice and can offer us mercy. He became the creditor and the contract was made anew so that if we would follow Him, we would actually be able to meet the amount due! He is the Author of our Salvation. God is amazing. If there wasn't a world created and mercy was immediately applied without any time of probation, God would have ceased to be God because there would have been no justice! But God is merciful and just and because a Savior was provided, a plan was created, and an earth was made, God is still just and merciful. I am grateful for our Savior.

We had a ward barbecue last weekend and it was a blast. We were launching water balloons across the parking lot with a slingshot. The Elder's Quorum was launching them as far as they could to try and hit the kids playing badminton! It was hilarious. One of the members was barbecuing some delicious ribs. I went up to tell him that the ribs were amazing and when I do, everyone just starts dying laughing. I was so confused because I wasn't joking whatsoever! I just walked away and went and got some more food. Later that night the Elders told me why they were laughing so hard. They just went up to Bro Danner and asked him if there were any more ribs and he said no they are all gone. The Elders were jokingly making him feel bad by saying "we thought we were friends!" And right in the middle of this conversation comes me saying those ribs were amazing! I totally mocked the Elders without realizing it.

So here is what an average day looks like for me (I don't write much about what I do on a daily basis and who I am working with so here it is:). In the mornings we spend some time in the library using the computers to prepare for our ward-list-clean-up-blitz in August. We will be bringing 30 other missionaries in to help us locate all be members in our ward we don't know. There are around 250 names that we have no info on so we are going to hunt them down, by visiting their home, talking to their neighbors, calling them, emails them, Facebooking them, etc. We usually have a district meeting, leader's meeting, or mission conference call we are a part of in the mornings as well. In the afternoon it is sometimes difficult to find productive, smart ways to work. We will usually do online proselyting, try to do some service, or visit our retired friends. In the evening is where we go crazy! We have lots of people we know are interested so we go to their home, visit them, and then work around their area by tracting using videos or other materials. There is a lot of driving involved between each person so we always wave to everyone and depending on their reaction we might stop and give them a card through the window. Yes, it is kind of creepy, but most of the time it is positive, haha!

That is what we look like most days. Networking is important because everyone loves their town and they know their neighbors well too!

Hopefully that didn't bore you. I love you guys and hope you have a wonderful week! #countyourblessings #thehastening #bethehastener

Love,
Elder Hooper

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 87, 20 months! :O

Hello there everybody! It has been a really great week over here! The
weather has been beautiful and lots of good things have been
happening. My new companion is Elder Odd, he is from Seattle,
Washington. He has been on his mission for 10 months. He's awesome! We
both teach really well together and our personalities mesh to make us
interesting and fun. I learned a lot this week.

I had the chance to go on an exchange with Elder Baker, the Assistant
to the President. I have a lot respect for this missionary. He had a
dislocated hip when he was a baby and the doctors didn't catch it, but
when they did, they broke his femur trying to reset it which caused
lots of issues. Ouch! He is a powerful missionary with a strong
testimony. He still plays basketball and everything! We had an awesome
lesson together that night as well- It was just powerful. Barbara and
Jessie; they just wanted to learn more and said they would be
baptized. They also said they believe what we are saying. It was just
so cool! I felt my testimony confirmed by the Holy Ghost of Jesus
Christ when I shared my testimony. It was such an awesome lesson that
was guided by the spirit. They caught the vision and understood.
Finally someone understands how amazing this is! God has reached out
to us again by calling another prophet. One cool part of this lesson
was when Jessie asked a question about Christ appearing to Joseph
Smith. What was interesting was that I immediately knew what he was
asking- his question came clearly to my mind and I knew he was
thinking that this experience was the second coming. I asked him if
that was what he was thinking and it was. We addressed it and we just
answered all his questions and his mind was at ease when we told him
the second coming has not happened yet! He is baptist so the second
coming/rapture is a core belief of his.

Here are some important lessons I have learned. They aren't grand or
miraculous, but they were really cool to me. The Holy Ghost is
teaching me more as I have been trying to humble myself. There was a
man that I saw in his driveway reading and I just had this strong urge
to talk to him that wouldn't go away. I at first was just like, nah
this is me, but I decided to listen to this feeling thinking it could
be the Holy Ghost. We parked the car and approached the man and he was
very friendly. Once the small talk was out of the way, I told him that
"The Lord loves you because when I drove by, your Heavenly Father told
me to come talk to you". I think he then recognized us as servants of
The Lord and he said "when I saw you guys get out of your car, I knew
you were coming to talk to me". It was just awesome! God is preparing
people! I had another similar prompting/feeling regarding going to
Buffalo Wild Wings. I felt uncomfortable about it, but ignored it and
went anyway. While there I felt that I shouldn't get Mtn Dew. I
ignored that one too. These were feelings that weren't from me. I
ignored both and oh, I felt the repercussions. The wing sauce
destroyed my digestive system and the Mountain Dew made me super
shaky! I didn't feel good the rest of the day. I am learning to
recognize these feelings and I feel they come because of my desire to
learn and follow God humbly.

While at transfer meeting, President Calderwood said that the
missionaries going home served honorably and did great things for the
mission. The impression that came to me was "how will I end?" These
next four months are going to be great! Time has gone by too fast.
During my quarterly interview with my mission president, I asked him
to renew my temple recommend. He gave me a cool insight I thought was
cool. He said the first 4 questions are all testimony based and the
other 11 are worthiness. The first four questions regarding testimony
ask about our belief and understanding of the Godhead, the Atonement,
the Restoration, and living prophets. He told me that this is all the
Brethren bear testimony of during conference. He committed me to bear
testimony only of these things and nothing else. I gladly accepted. I
thought that was cool!

Well, I love you all very much and hope you remember how awesome you
are. Seriously. You are God's greatest creation! 😛

Love,

Elder Hooper

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Week 86, For the first time I was grateful for rain on July 4th!

For the first time I was grateful for rain on July 4th! It was nice because
everyone was on vacation AND no one was able to go to firework shows
so everyone was home!

Today was our awesome Zone Activity. We went to a middle school in Bay
Shore and played kick ball, ultimate frisbee, and had a fun water
balloon toss/fight. I took a couple shots in the back and the chest.
It did feel pretty nice though! I think everyone had a good time and
enjoyed themselves. During kick ball, Elder Galloni took two pop flies
in the face. He went to go catch them, but just misjudged them. The
second one knocked him over! It was nice to have some wholesome fun
and run around a bit.

Here is a funny story. We got a referral from Mormon.org for an older
man. We went to visit him and found his wife outside. We explained to
her why we were at her house and that her husband ordered a Bible. She
was so confused. She kept saying, "there is no way my husband ordered
a Bible online. He is 75 years old and does not know how to use a
computer!" I said "well, do you know if there is someone in your home
that may have done it for him? We just want to make sure whoever
ordered it gets it". She said "there is no way my husband could have
ordered one!" I was like ok I believe you... Do you want the Bible or
not? She still said the same thing! We just left. It is always
interesting going to see some of the contacts we are given from the
website haha!

I learned some valuable lessons today! I was starting to get
frustrated with God because I have been struggling that I felt like I
was just being abandoned. Not that I am struggling so severely, but I
couldn't get out of this depression for a while. I knew that it had to
do with my testimony, but I didn't understand what exactly was
happening. While Elder McDonald was sharing his testimony at our
district meeting, I had an impression that I was beginning to analyze
my faith. I have been training my brain to analyze everything that
comes in, and to be on the look out for possible thoughts that can
trigger anxiety. It is like white blood cells on the patrol and once
they find something they attack. I have been doing this to my
testimony. I realized that instead of having faith I was simply
looking for all the evidence and trying to prove things. I am always
looking for evidences that cause anxiety, but I was taking this
strength and without realizing it, I was making it into something that
was hindering my progression. Once I had that revealed to me I
immediately felt a weight off my shoulders. I now know that I need to
go by faith and by the knowledge of the Gospel that has become perfect
to me. Being analytical and using logic is good when you couple it
with the counsel of God.

The day before the 4th, the library hosted a 4th of July celebration
at a community bandshell by our apartment. Of course my first I
initial thought was- street sweep! We got a nice table cloth and such,
made a poster, and brought the family history stuff. We got it all
setup and these two people come up (at this point I could tell by
their body language that they were not coming to ask what we were
doing) to our table and say "what are you guys doing?" I explained
what we were doing and they asked if we had a permit and this
confirmed what my first impression was about these two individuals. I
told them no and they said that they did and had to ask us to leave.
They were super nice about it though, so no hard feelings, but I was
just like... noooo!

At this same bandshell, the Bay Shore area held a band concert that
Elder McDonald and I helped set up. Afterwards, we went to talk to a
man that was waiting for the show to start. I sat down next to him and
just started asking him questions. Soon we had a great conversation
regarding the Word of Wisdom and the blessings of keeping our bodies
clean! It is always fun to find people to teach during any activity we
do!

Elder McDonald is leaving on Tuesday, so I will be getting a new
companion. I will still be serving in Bay Shore. This morning during
our companionship study we went back to the first time we were
companions and we recounted all the funny stories and miracles we saw.
There were many! Elder McDonald will be missed.

Have a wonderful week everyone! Now I am just praying that our A/C
unit gets fixed today after not having it for 6 weeks :O. It's hot!

Love,

Elder Hooper

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Week 85, What do I do in the Summer time? (Matt 28:19-20)

The New York South Times Best Seller, Elder Hooper's blog, presents
another fantastic week in Bay Shore! This transfer is coming to an end
and this is Elder McDonald's last week as a missionary! I will miss
him.

At the beginning of the week we had a cool opportunity to be apart of
an interfaith group meeting at a baptist church in the area. There
were people from Reformed Judaism, Wicca, Seventh-Day Adventist,
Agnostic, and Baptist. It was pretty cool. Everyone was very
respectful and that was the cool thing about it all. They loved having
us there and as well as our input on things. There was no bashing, no
trying to prove others wrong, etc. We talked about various ideas like
the true nature of the Godhead and what each other believes. We got on
to other topics like marriage and such. It was interesting to feel
when the Holy Ghost would testify of certain principles and when it
would leave in other opinions. Moral relativism has become something
that is common place today.

For weeks we have been having issues with our car and we finally had
time to take it to Pep Boys. We learned that some of our rims were
bent, 3 tires were dry rotted and we needed an alignment which is why
our car was driving terribly! I guess the missionaries previous to me
didn't pay much attention. It helps having lots of car troubles when I
was a teenager! Super glad to have that fixed. I could turn right by
simply letting go of the steering wheel.

So, obedience brings blessings! At the end of one of days we arrived
home at 8:54pm. Knowing that 9pm is when we are to return home, we
decided to be obedient and go find someone to teach in the next 6
minutes. We are walking down the street towards Main St and I saw an
apartment with lights on and, therefore, decide we should just knock
on that door. I timidly knocked on the door since it is late and
didn't want any grouchy parents to yell at me for waking their
children. The man that opened the door was quite friendly. We
testified of the Restoration and the love God has for him. He was very
open and even said he would try to come to church the next day. He
said that he needs to bring God back to the center of his life! When
we obey with faith, the Lord always blesses us.

Sacrament meeting was awesome yesterday ! During the sacrament prayers
the wording "take upon them the name of [Christ]" took on a new
meaning. Lately, I have been very hard on myself and belittling my
self-worth and defining myself by my challenges. I received a blessing
from my companion prior to this experience and I received the
impression that that is what I was doing to myself- tearing myself
down. I learned that one way we take upon ourselves the name of Christ
is by doing what He does and thinking about ourselves the way He
thinks about us. He would never belittle or hold me to unrealistic
expectations. Names are very important. The names of Abraham and his
wife were changed due to their faithfulness. And the
blessings/covenants they were given. Peter's name was changed, Paul's
name was changed, etc. When we take upon us a new name, or Christ's
name at baptism, it comes with new responsibilities and new ways of
living. The talks were also very good. Saturday was the 170th year
anniversary of Joseph Smith's martyr, so the sacrament meeting was
Restoration themed. With the ward choir, I played my violin to "A Poor
Way Faring Man of Grief" that was arranged by the Burgess family in
the ward. They are super talented! I had lots of compliments after all
of that.

We are having a hard time getting people to progress in the Gospel,
but we are continuing to find people who are being prepared! I love
you all so much and hope you have a fantastic week!
#countyourblessings #lookforthesmallones

Love,

Elder Hooper

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 84, Super Busy Week!

Hello again! Another bright sun-shiny day in Bay Shore, NY. I just
want to start this off with a cool story. My companion and I both have
been blessed to have musical talents and we happened to have our
instruments in the car so, like we did back in the Bushwick days, we
went music tracting! People are totally receptive to this! We just
have a couple of songs in our repertoire, but Elder McDonald would
play guitar and sing and I would add some lovely descents or something
fun. One door we knocked on beheld an older gentleman holding Samuel
Adams in his hand let us in. He was a little drunk, but said that we
could play and he invited his wife in. After we played one he wanted
an encore. They said that next time we come back they will invite
their neighbors and we will have a big jam sesh at their house
(hopefully alcohol free this time haha). It was a cool experience
though. That family's heart softened as we sang some pretty hymns.
Some other families were also softened while we played.

I had the privilege to interview a young man for baptism. He is 23
years old and he was being taught by some other missionaries in our
zone. It is so much fun to interview people for baptism. They are
always very excited and have strong testimonies. His baptism was great
even if he had to be baptized four times due to his feet coming up. He
was then confirmed at church the next day.

On an exchange with my District Leader, there was one guy we were
going to talk to when he got out of his car with some groceries, but
then he saw us staring at him and then he stared at us, then it just
got super awkward so we we just got in the car! After he got into the
house. I sat there just staring at his house, so I stopped the car and
said we just need to go knock on his door anyway! He happened to be
quite friendly and he said he would be interested, so hopefully we can
teach him later on. On another exchange this week, this Elder and I
were knocking on some doors and this guy immediately says, "come on
in". I was shocked! I felt like I was being called up to The Price is
Right, "come on  down", but even better! This man was taught by
missionaries back in the late 90s and just stopped meeting with them.
We committed him to be baptized and he said "Yea, that seems like it
would be good." We were excited about that. And then on another
exchange... Just kidding no more exchange stories this time.

The other day I was starting to get a little discouraged as we just
aren't finding anyone to teach! I feel like I have been trying my best
to find others by knocking on doors, fearlessing people on the street,
setting up appointments to meet with the members, and making lots of
phone calls, etc! It so happens this was on an exchange too, but we
visited a family who was in our area book to see who they were. They
are a great family! The Johnson family has had many experiences with
the church as Sis Johnson's mother-in-law is a member, but now just
very old and sickly. Sis Johnson said come back tomorrow in the
evening and we would catch her husband home. So we did just that and
he was home and let us right in. He told us all about his past
experiences with the missionaries and how they were all going to get
baptized! They were not able to, however, due to some complications
getting married they were not able to be baptized. They are totally
ready to be baptized and love the church. Bro Johnson said that he
wanted to get baptized ASAP. We chose a date and then a day to come
back to meet his whole family! This was such a blessing to me. I was
praying and reading and knew The Lord was preparing someone for us to
teach. I have no doubt that this is true. I mean, this is the Lord's
work, why wouldn't He be preparing his children to return to his
presence?

Here is a fun picture of me doing some service! We were moving tons of bricks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week 83, Learning From Challenges.

I just realized that on Saturday I hit 19 months (the thought I had
when I wrote this was, "oh my gosh this is awful haha!). I used to
think missionaries were so old when they would say that they were at 6
months haha! So, I finally had a normal haircut for the first time in
my mission this afternoon (except from Sis Jangula in Staten Island).
All these other places in the city kept giving me line-ups and
trimming my hair in spots that don't look good on a white guy that is
40% bald, hah just kidding.

I am going to be honest, this week was extremely difficult for me! I
was just anxious out of my mind! Lots of little things that I kept
worrying about, but I just kept pushing them a side saying I will
think about that at 9:30pm when I am free from talking to people.
After a while it all just built up, becoming something that I was
having a hard time handling. I wasn't able to think very clearly, and
I felt unworthy. The Lord is always with us. Sometimes we start
feeling so frustrated, feeling inadequate, or feeling "why me" we
hinder the Holy Ghost from prompting us because we get so preoccupied
by these thoughts, leaving us unable to feeling the quiet, subtle
whispers of the spirit. This is why it's important to read the
scriptures, pray, and do things that invite the spirit like listening
to uplifting music during challenges.

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the First Quorum of the Seventy came to
tour our mission! I had the opportunity to be with him twice, once in
an Mission Leadership Council format and then in a Mega Zone
Conference. He gave many valuable insights that I cherished. He and
his wife are just awesome! You can definitely feel the mantle of their
calling when you see him. From watching him on General Conference, he
doesn't look all that tall, but he is huge! He is 6'5". He said
President Monson sent a messenger over to him during their lunch break
asking Elder Nielsen to come over and talk to him. Elder Nielsen,
nervous, went over and Pres Monson says "How tall are you!?" "6'5"
says Elder Nielsen. "Well, I am 6'3"." It was a pretty funny
conversation that he described. Here are some brief summaries of what
I learned. "You can't waste a minute on this mission... You will never
have another opportunity like this... This is your time." I am the
future of the church. Am I the problem or the solution? "This mission
will change my entire mortal and eternal existence".  "If it doesn't
start with the leaders, it won't happen". It was awesome to have him
with us!

Here is a miracle!
On an exchange with Elder Acosta, a missionary in my zone, we went up
to a lady and talked with her for a bit on her driveway. She said she
would be open to listen and I ask well what about right now? She said
she had time. We spoke for about an hour and it was looking very
stormy,  but since there was no man in he house we had to teach it
outside. Once we finished the lesson and got in the car the rains came
down and the floods came up! We knew that God allowed us to teach that
lady! It was raining on and off all day, so to have the rain
completely stop was no coincidence. She said that she felt really good
during the lesson and would like us to come back! It was all in
Spanish, therefore, I had Elder Acosta translate what she said in
English and translate what I said in Spanish. It was cool!

Even though it was a tough week, it still taught me a lot. I gave a
talk on Father's Day during sacrament meeting. It is at the bottom if
you want to read it!

Have an awesome week! Happy Birthday to my Mom this week!

Elder Hooper


(This is just an outline)
Brother's and Sisters, before I begin my talk I want each of you to
think of a fond memory you had with your dad. Hold on to these
memories while I speak and think of the good your dad now does or has
done for you.

I would like to share with you some of my favorite memories of my dad:
going with my dad on deliveries, working on the Chevelle, priesthood
blessings I received from him.

James E. Faust said, "Brethren, noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of
the divine attributes of our Father in Heaven. A father should be many
things. He should magnify his priesthood and be an example of
righteousness. In companionship with his wife, he should be the source
of stability and strength for the whole family. He should be the
protector and the provider and the champion of the members of his
family. Much of his love for his children should flow from his example
of love, concern, and fidelity for their mother. By his uncompromising
example he should instill character into his children." (“Them That
Honour Me I Will Honour", James E. Faust).

I feel one of the most important ways a father can lead by example is
working with his wife in unity, being equally yoked in the decisions
of the family, and treating her with utmost respect.

Through the council of our church leaders, we have learned that as
parents learn their duty and lead their homes in a Christ-like manner,
they in return will learn what our Heavenly Father feels towards all
of us, His children. "And this is life eternal, that they might know
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." As a
father, as you pattern your home after the manner righteousness, you
will come to know the only true God and Jesus Christ.

Do you remember the memory you thought of about your father? Now I
want you to think of your most fond memory when you felt the love of
your Heavenly Father.

"Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given
to deity, God has asked us to address Him as Father." Jesus Christ,
before he ascended into Heaven, said "Touch me not; for I am not yet
ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I
ascend unto my Father, and "your" Father (John 20:17)." We know that
God is our Father, the Father of our Spirits. We are all His children
and He loves us! He loves us so much that He has given us a Savior,
living prophets, the scriptures, continuous revelation, the Holy
Ghost, and temples! Why has he done all of this? It is so you and I
can have peace in this life and eternal salvation in the next life,
just like any loving father would want us to have!

Testimony
Amen