Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Week 58, Merry Christmas!

Donald was confirmed a member of the church yesterday! He is doing so well! His English is getting so much better as well. We also had a man named Walter who we met over the phone earlier last week attend church as well. We received his information from Mormon.org so we gave him a call. He met with missionaries 17 years ago and then he saw our chapel and that jogged some good memories of the past and now we are in contact with him!

This week was a blur! It went by so fast and Elder Legere and I struggled with being sick. I got it the first few days then he caught it at the end of the week so some of the days when we were dieing we ended up being home bound. Along with that I was just personally struggling a bit. It sure doesn't help having the holidays come around and being a way from family. Yesterday I felt that I should fast for specific blessings to help me to overcome this challenge. I was doing everything I could and I knew the only thing left I could do was to fast. 3 hours into the fast I already had the spirit guiding me through it all. While at sacrament meeting, I was just so happy! I couldn't explain it. I just felt so uplifted. There were great talks, smiling faces, and lots of things to be grateful for during this holiday season.

So I was put in charge of the musical selection our zone of 26 missionaries is putting on at the Christmas Eve mission get together tomorrow! I am so excited about it- we have a talented zone with quite if few musicians. We are going to play Christmas Canon with mandolin, guitar, ukulele, violin, and piano with the other missionaries singing, and then we are going crazy and singing the Baptist Spiritual version of Go, Tell it in the Mountain! They both sound awesome! I will definitely be recording them and put them on Facebook for everyone to see.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve the Lord, Jesus Christ, here in New York. It is Him that we find lasting peace. I have felt it and so can you. Who better to follow to find peace then the Prince of Peace. One of my favorite songs during this Christmas season is "And His Shall be Called Wonderful" (at least that is how the song goes). Every year at my Grandma Hooper's Christmas program in her congregation she always had the choir sing this song and I don't think she knew how much this song taught me about my Savior. He truly is wonderful, my counselor, and my Prince of Peace. I know He lives.

Merry Christmas!! Let us all love on the Spirit of Christ, unlike the ladies fighting about who was in line first at CVS this morning :D.

Elder Hooper

Monday, December 16, 2013

Week 57, Baptism in Staten!

Well we had an awesome Sunday of course! I will start off with that because it was so great. Meehallage Donald (in Sri Lanka the names are different. Their first name is their last name, and their last name is the one they go by) was baptized! It was a wonderful baptismal service and it was even better with his family present over skype from Sri Lanka! When Donald and I walked into the font, he was smiling and chuckling since he just thought it was all so great. He was looking at his family on the iPad the whole time. I also gave a musical number on the violin- "How Great Thou Art" accompanied by Natalie Jangula. It was great. While Donald and I went back to change I asked him how he felt, and he said "I feel so happy" in his Sri Lankan accent. I love him a lot. He is the happiest man I have ever met. His family was so happy with his baptism and they loved it when people started clapping for him after he bore his testimony. It was such an awesome testimony. "The church is true, the Book of Mormon is true" he said with conviction. He loves the church and even payed his tithing after his baptism too! He is the happiest man I know. Afterwards as we were changing he said he is just so happy. He loved everything about it. In his own words late last night he texted us "How are you? I looking some pictures of temples and looking Book of Mormon. I am very happy today." He was excited about everything which only made me and Elder Legere happy.

Last night, my district went to the Mud Lane Society's Christmas Caroling event they held. They started off with the tree lighting- the tree was the one that Elder Legere and I put up that last week with a man named Carl. I brought my violin since I thought people would enjoy that and it was a big hit. I butchered a few of the more modern ones, but the traditional ones with the violin were nice and it kept everyone on the same key haha! It definitely gave the missionaries some publicity there. We were also invited to eat lots of soups that were prepared. I love the people over in Bishop's neighborhood which is where the Mud Lane Society is based off of to protect the renaissance houses. They like us :D.

We also caroled in a rehab center for the elderly. It was so much fun seeing the joy on their faces. We made their day so much better. They are so bored just sitting there all day every day and when we came they just lit up and were singing with us and were so happy. It was fun, even if I had I sucked on 20 cough drops to ease my sore throat haha!

It is amazing to see how fast our life really goes by. Enjoy the moment! I was just realizing the past few days that I only have 11 more months on my mission. I don't want to go home yet. I still feel like I have too much more to learn. Time goes by, and so many joyous memories fill it. I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life. I love sharing it with others and to allow them to access the Atonement. I love the priesthood as well! I know that it has been restored! It is so amazing as you begin to really understand it's significance and what miracles can be performed as I live worthy of it! I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season! I know I am enjoying listening to all the Christmas music!

Well I gotta go buy some clothes, and prepare some music for my Zone musical numbers that I am in charge of!

Elder Hooper

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 56, 6 More weeks in Staten!

Hey there! I hope everyone is enjoying this Christmas season! The Christmas Devotional was really good as well last night too. Elder Legere and I were the only ones watching it at the church so we of course sang a little extra loud on the closing hymn :D

So here is the funny story for the week. So we were at a family's home who don't discipline their kids very well and they all have some mental challenges. We were there just to stop in and say hi and such and they had family over as well. Their nephew is probably 9 years old or so and is a bit crazy. So the daughter of the family was picking on this boy pretty bad and at first it was all fun and games until she smacked him! He stops, his face turns red, breathes these short breaths like a bull ready charge, then with his mouth open wide and AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!! The spirit said bye to us and I was a little scared for my life haha. We were waiting for this boy to turn green and start Hulk-smashing us. We left pretty quickly after that :D.I have never heard someone scream so loud in my life.

Skyping Donald's family in Sri Lanka was awesome! Since he translated all of it into his language it really stuck with him and he seemed to better understand what we were teaching as well. His family said that they agreed with what we were teaching and are excited to be able to be a part of it with their father. We are teaching them again on Thursday with Donald. Donald is also still set for the 15th and is very excited. We will teach him the Law of Tithing and then go over the baptismal interview questions. He is so prepared and ready! We also taught another family over skype who live in Manhattan. They used to be our neighbors across the street and I became really good friends with them when they were going through a difficult situation. Their home was damaged in Sandy and they had some structural damage that they recently found and they had to evacuate. They are awaiting permits for the rest of the home to be repaired. In the mean time, I was texting them letting them know their house was safe and what not like they requested. I asked if they would like for us to share a quick message about Christ with their family. We read Lehi and his family's journey moving homes and applied it to them and they loved it. It was neat to see how the Book of Mormon really does apply in all aspects of our lives. So we asked if they would be interested in learning more about the church and where the Book of Mormon came from. We are teaching them again on Wednesday. It is amazing the success we are seeing with skype. My patriarchal blessing talks about the Lord needing me in many places throughout the world on my mission and now I totally understand how that is possible and seeing it come to pass!

Donald and his family are famous now in the mission and the Brooklyn NY Stake. Their Skype stories were shared a few times by President Calderwood and another Elder in presentations. I mean how cool is this- teaching someone who is getting baptized next week, skyping his family in a country thousands of miles away who don't have missionaries, and now they want to come to America and unite with their father and be baptized!? I feel so privileged to be apart of this!

Our district is going to be working very hard to bringing people to the baptism this week Sunday! We are planning on handing out over 300 invitations with the hope of have 30 nonmembers there. It is going to be one of the greatest baptisms ever. We have it all planned out and it is going to be great. We showed Donald the beautiful invitations that were made and he was so happy about it. We are going to skype his family in on it as well! He is amazing! I will have the privilege of interviewing Theo for his baptism as well which I am looking forward to.

Elder Legere and I are staying together another 6 weeks in Staten Island. I am so happy about that. We have so many great things coming up and we were hoping to spend Christmas together as well. My district is basically staying the same except we are losing Elder Eggleston, one of our Zone Leaders. I will miss him.

Well it sure has been a great week. I love Staten Island and everything about it, especially our ward. They are wonderful.

Have a great week!

Elder Hooper

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 55, Fantastic week! Pics and a Video.

Elder Legere and I and an awesome week. Even with the holiday weekend, temple trip, deep clean, and weekly planning we still hit all of our goals. Thanksgiving was great. We spent the evening at the ferry terminal (my favorite spot as you know) and we had people come and sign our big poster boards with things they are grateful for. It was a big hit! We even did this with the district the day before and it was so successful that we wanted to do it again. We got over 300 signatures. Everyone was really excited about it and many who signed said what a great idea it was. It certainly made me happy seeing all of the things to be grateful for.

Donald is getting baptized December 15th! We are very excited for him.
He is continuing to develop a strong testimony and is getting happier and happier every time we meet with him!

So the highlight of my week was definitely going to the temple last Friday. Like I said last year it has been over a year since I have last gone to a temple session. The Manhattan temple is gorgeous inside. It is remarkably quiet inside. It was so nice to be able to feel of the spirit and feel so peaceful during the few hours I was there. It increased my testimony of the gospel so much more as I learned so much more this time around.

Thanksgiving was also a blast! We started the morning with. Turkey Bowl! I rocked it out on the field. Not showing off or anything, but I may or may not have scored 4 touchdowns and one being an interception haha! Even though it was one off the coldest days we have had this winter it was still lots of fun. The Bishop's family fed us first and it was a delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal and their turkey was amazing. Full of food, we them went to the Leguillo's another of my favorite families and they fed us a ton too! It was probably my favorite thanksgiving I have ever had even if my body was shutting down die to excessive food entering my stomach :P. Celebrating it with families that I love on my mission was a treat.

It is going to be a really exciting week since it is the end of a transfer cycle so all the scary phone calls regarding training, leadership, and being transferred calls come in. I am not expecting any calls, but I know my district is all worrying about what is going to happen. It is always so fun!

So, having the iPads is such a blessing! We were teaching someone who has a more difficult time staying focused during the lessons so we tried watching a Mormon Message to help them understand a bit more, we watched the Child of God message and it was so powerful. The spirit came into the room and we were able to help them feel it and understand, along with all the children listening too! We also had the privilege to teach Gospel Principles class with my companion and we watched the Earthly Father, Heavenly Father one and it was so cool as we used the tools we have been given to enhance our missionary efforts. It is helping me and all the other missionaries stay more focused on our purpose and having fun while we skype and chat our investigators.

There are lots of good things going on with Elder Legere and I as well. We are teaching often and are helping many people who are pure in heart and honestly seeking the truth. The two brothers from the Ivory Coast are still progressing and are reading the Book of Mormon.

Our district had a special fast last Sunday for The Lord to prepare the hearts of the people in Staten Island and for all those we are teaching. We are working hard to hit our quarterly goal which ends this month!

Christmas is almost here, that means caroling on the streets!

Elder Hooper

Bishop Glick, our bishop in the Staten Island ward, is in this video! He begins speaking at 4:10, The one with the green hat thing. He is a stud.

Elder Hooper

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 54, #freezing #thanksgiving #templetrip

Hey everyone, we had another awesome week. There are ao many miracles
going on in Staten Island. The Lord is truly hastening his work.
Donald has a solid baptismal date for December 15th! We are so excited
for him. Again, he is the nicest man you would ever meet. He is
enjoying church a lot and is very excited. He was even asking us if he
was ready to be baptized or not yet. We are also working with 2
brothers from the Ivory Coast. They just want to live their lives
according to Christ's teachings and on of them has been coming to
church consistently. These three individuals are who we are really
focusing on. Please pray for these individuals and also for those whom
the missionaries are teaching in your areas.

We had an awesome Mega Zone Conference that was given by the
Assistants to the President and President and Sister Calderwood. It
was so good. President's closing remarks also really got me out of the
slum I was getting into. The spirit helped me remember some scriptures
and things that I needed to kick Satan in the head!

It is getting so cold here! I think because I am so much closer to the
water we are getting a nice humid breeze that cuts you to the core and
you feel like you going to die! It is so cold. It snowed a few days ago and we are expecting
some more precipitation. Snow is cool, but rain is not!

So just a thought, since one of the ASL elders is going home on a few
weeks, there is an ASL elder needed and no one is coming in from the
MTC so maybe I will have the chance to be in that pool! My district is
still on fire! We hit all of our Standard of Excellences and taught
80% of our lessons with the Staten Island ward members (they are still
awesome)! It is so fun being the district leader here. Having this
opportunity to serve in this capacity has helped me to truly see how
much The Lord is working with us in this work!

So our hope for the Thanksgiving Eve is to chalk the ferry terminal
with random people coming to write what they are thankful for on the
ground and then get on the news and be famous and baptize everyone! Oh
sorry I think I may have taken that a bit too far. Haha we are going
to chalk the ferry though. We also are going to be caroling soon after
the holiday and give out free hot chocolate which we are very excited
for since everyone loves caroling.

Also some exciting news, I am going to the temple on Friday for my
anniversary trip. I haven't Ben to the temple for over a year! I am so
excited to be able to feel of the spirit there and especially be there
with my companion too, he is also coming. Elder Legere is like my best
friend. If I knew him at home we would be buds!

I love New York and like Pres Calderwood said at our sacrament meeting
yesterday (which was awesome by the way) that the missionaries never
want to leave Staten Island! I love it here. I hope I never leave.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and eat lots!


Elder Hooper

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week 53, Miracles!

Hey there! Elder Legere and I had one of the best weeks we have ever
had. 89% of our lessons were with members! We love you Staten Island!
We also taught many lessons via Skype as well. It is amazing to be
able to teach people across the country. The spirit is just the same
and the purpose is still there. It is so fun!

Donald has told us that he wants to be baptized! He has been coming to
church consistently. He is a really good man and wants to follow
Christ. We are just working on getting him a new job so he can attend
the whole church service. We are also team teaching a family from the
Ivory Coast. Their mom is a member but they aren't and they just want
to follow Christ more and be better people.

I am so distracted right now. We are watching Prince of Egypt for our
zone activity so this letter might be pretty crazy.

Here is an experience that really hurt me and made me so sad for this
man. We were singing at the ferry while I played my violin and other
missionaries played guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. We were singing "I
Believe in Christ" and this older man comes by us and sits down and
starts crying and I could see the pain in his eyes. Once we finished I
went up to him and asked what his name was. He later explained to me
that he has so much guilt and pain from the killing that he was
a part of in Vietnam. I told him that there was a way that this burden
could be taken away but wouldn't be easy, but he could feel free if he allowed
Christ in. He wouldn't believe me. It made me so sad! It was just a
really good experience to help a man feel of God's love through music.
He ended up giving me money (there was nothing that I could do to
make him take it back so we went out to eat that night haha). I know
the Atonement is real because I have felt it work in my life!

So I hit my year mark last week! I never want to go home, this mission
has changed my life. As I have served my fellow beings I have served
my God and He is forever changing me. I can't believe the many
blessings he has bestowed upon me and  I love him so much! I love
being here on my mission. I know that this church is true. I know it!
I wish that others could just see how much happiness they could
receive if they would accept that god has showed his love to us by
calling another prophet to bring us to the full knowledge of His
Gospel.   I am so excited about the next few weeks. President
Calderwood is coming to speak in our ward and I am going to my
anniversary temple trip and then we have Thanksgiving! I am stoked!

I love you all very much. Talk to you next week!

Elder Hooper

Sent from my iPad

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 52, One whole year!

Happy Veterans day! I hope everyone has had a good week! the Staten Island 1st Ward had their first Blood Drive this Saturday. We collected a total of 18 pints of blood. It is not as much as we were hoping for, but it was fun! We actually had more donors who were not members of our congregation which was great. I wish we would have had the chance to pass out more fliers in the neighborhoods around the church instead of just the neighborhood behind the church. We also had some great gospel discussions with some of the nurses that were drawing blood and gave out a Book of Mormon. 

The work in Staten Island is hastening!! There are just so many changes happening in the mission and the missionaries. We all feel it and so do the members. The members in our ward are just fired up and working with us so well! They sign up on our teaching calendar to come out with us and it is such a blessing to us and the people we teach. We love the Staten Island 1st Ward! Elder Legere is just the coolest guy ever as well. We are so much alike in every way. We often find ourselves quoting each other and saying the same things at the same time. So we are teaching lots and having tons of fun! Life is good!

We went to the temple with our ward on Tuesday which was a blast! It was so much fun. There is nothing like leaving the craziness of NY and going to the temple. The coolest part of this journey however, was meeting a deaf man at the ferry in Manhattan on our way back to SI. I was just standing there looking around for someone to talk to and I saw this one man sitting on a bench wearing a SF Giants t-shirt. Thinking that he was a baseball fan, I approached him to ask him who won the final game of the World Series. He looked at me and just put his finger in his ear and shook his head. I immediately just like jumped for joy as I have been looking forever to talk to a deaf person! When I told him I knew sign-language he also got really excited. We had the coolest conversation ever. He kept asking me if I was embarrassed to talk to him while all these people around us were staring. I told him I really don't care, but am so excited to be talking with you. It really made him happy. He said that he was sitting there, just pondering on what he should do with his life. We talked about God a little bit and I told him that no matter what, God always understands him and will communicate with him no matter what his language was. It was a joyous moment for both of us.

Well, in three days I will have been on my mission for 1 year! I am so blessed to be in New York serving as a representative of Jesus Christ. I love it here and there is no other place that I would rather be right now. Something that I have learned this week is how powerful daily scriptures study is in our lives. Elder Legere and I did not have a chance to study almost all week last week and boy did we feel it. We just couldn't think straight, remember our goals, etc. I personally just felt unprepared. We finally had the chance to study this morning and now I feel so much more focused and have peace of mind. DON'T forget to study the scriptures daily!

Donald and Korcan are still progressing and are doing great! i love them a ton! I have to get going now. Time to play some ultimate Frisbee!

Elder Hooper

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 51, More Mice and a Christmas Tree, plus some Pics

I am back to report on another awesome week! We had 22 people who were not members of the church at sacrament meeting! It was amazing! The ward thought it was so exciting to have so many people there. Our district is on fire and doing so well!

So here is an update on the whole mouse situation! Wednesday evening we were done for the night and getting ready for bed and my companion, Elder Legere (who is awesome. I feel like we have been companions for months already) says "Elder Hooper, I think I just saw a mouse crawl under the microwave." I am just like no... not again! The awful memories of Gadianton and Kishkumen (the mice we found in my first apartment and me screaming and such, read week 7 if you want a reminder of the original story) came back to haunt me. I grabbed my squirt bottle and started to spray under the microwave and out comes the mother of the Ammonihahites and she ran behind our oven! Of course I let out a nice scream. That next morning we went and bought some traps from a corner store and loaded them with peanut butter. We left for the day and came back that evening with 2 of the trapped! Hahah! We decided to lay them out again so we reset them and went to bed. That next morning we caught 2 more! We decided to set them again, and guess what, well we didn't catch anymore, but all the peanut butter was missing and one of them was set-off. We know there is at least one that remains. So embarrassing story though, I was so scared about being in the kitchen that I was standing on a chair while I was any where near the stove! I am pathetic. We now have some sticky traps and tunnel traps a member gave us.

My new companion is Elder Legere (Le Shair). He is from Las Vegas, Nevada and is a stud. He and I get along very well and have lots of fun. Especially with our mice hunting skills. We are getting pretty good at that! He has been on his mission for 9 months. We are already seeing miracles happen within our companionship.

We had an awesome lesson with a man from Turkey. Elder Leger and I love this man. he is such a humble nice fellow. Because there is a slight language barrier we defined words and used lots of analogies to help him understand. I think it was one of the best Restoration lessons I have ever taught because it was just so simple. He really understood and the spirit was there. Elder Legere also had a really cool analogy using a pen and leading his hand relating it to prophets (the analogy is hard to explain, but it is cool). We also had many unplanned lessons with others and just many blessings have followed. The members here are amazing and truly catching the fire of the Lord's hastening of His work. They are the "key" to our success.

Being District Leader is a treat. Being in the leaders meetings with President Calderwood and other missionaries is wonderful. There are so many principles that have helped me tremendously and then the cool thing is, I get to teach all of them to my district. I love my district. We really do have the best district in the mission. Only the best of the best are here in Staten Island, totally serious!

Family History is a new tool we are going to be jumping on now thanks to our Bishop. He is giving all of us keys to our Family History center so we can take members, investigators, and anyone else that would benefit from it. We will be there Tues-Thurs in the mornings and there whenever we have an appointment with someone there. The Bishop here is the best and I feel so honored to be serving with him and to have such trust in us. He is one of the best Bishops in our mission. We are in the process of arranging a Family History Class at our local library to promote our FHC at the church, but more importantly, to try and help others find their ancestors to find that sense of belonging it brings! We are really excited for that.

So, Elder Legere and I just put up our Christmas tree! We are so cool! It is pretty cool looking.

It is freezing cold out here right now. It was 30 degrees last night which was a shock for all the New Yorkers and myself. Thankfully our apartment has great heaters. Maybe they will melt some of the mice?

Well I have to go! I love you all!

Elder Jonathan Hooper

The Mice fun in the Apartment
 Setting up Christmas in our apartment.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 50, With a new transfer and a new companion comes a great responsibility! plus pics

Happy Monday everyone! We had a really good week here in Staten Island. I will be staying here for at least another 6 weeks, but Elder Tuiaki is leaving me! Nooo! I am going to miss him so much. We have had a lot of fun together these past 4 months. So on Wednesday, the week before transfers, the mission president makes calls if you will be a trainer. That whole day we both were freaking out whenever the phone would ring since we both felt that one of us was getting a call. So as we both were freaking out, Elder Tuiaki starts playing ring tones and pretending to answer the phone and say "Hello this is Elder Tuiaki. Oh, President, I am doing good how are you? Oh you want Elder Hooper?" kind of stuff all day! It was pretty funny. Then at 8:30pm that night as we were driving home, the phone rings and Elder Tuiaki is like, "uh oh". He shows me the phone and it says President Calderwood. We both just start freaking out. He answers it and puts it on speaker phone and President says "The Lord wants you to be a trainer!" and Elder Tuiaki says "Wait you mean for Elder Hooper?" and President is all like, no for you! and Elder Tuiaki was going crazy and screaming since he was so excited and President and myself were busting up laughing! It was fun. He then told elder Tuiaki to come to the meeting the next morning and he says to make sure to bring Elder Hooper with you too. So that hinted that I was going to be told something as well, but I didn't really think much of it until at the meeting President Calderwood says that he wants to meet with me. He called me to be the district leader here! I am very excited for this opportunity to learn and help my district! it is going to be a blast!

So we had a really cool experience with prayer a few days ago. There was a man pulled over on the freeway taking up a lane and we pulled in front of him to see if he needed some help. His car broke down so we agreed to help him get it off the freeway. We took out car off the freeway and walked back on to help push Ramos' car off the freeway. We were unsuccessful unfortunately since this huge hill we were attempting to go up was too much for me and my Tongan buddy haha! I told Ramos that the only thing that we could do now, is to pray. So we hopped in his car and I prayed with all the faith I could get out of myself. Immediately after I said "please just help us get the car off the freeway so we can diagnose the problem safer" we hear a knock on the window and it is a police officer that said, put your car in neutral and I will push you off the freeway! He took his car and pushed us off! It was so cool! Ramos also was just feeling so blessed that day and it was just an amazing experience.

Donald, the awesome Sri Lankan man we met a while ago is doing really well. He has a baptismal date for November 17th! He came to our Ward's primary program (which was so good!) and he loved it. We taught him again this morning, yes on our P-Day so Elder Tuiaki could see him one last time. I met a man from Turkey at the ferry earlier last week and we were able to teach him at the church with a member and the other Elders in my district set us up a member present lesson with an awesome young man too! It was a good week!

We will be adjusting our lemonade stand to some hot chocolate stand at the ferry this week as it is super cold! Having a car is nice since we can turn on the heater :D. We are going to be at Stop&Shop this week to promote our blood drive we are doing on November 9th. It is going to be a good activity we hope. We also will be promoting Family History some more and Bishop wants to put an add for our FH center since we are going to be there and open it up in the mornings now as well! There are lots of fun activities happening!

I am sorry there isn't a whole lots of details in this letter. The computers in the library are cutting our time short! Gotta go carve come pumpkins!

Elder Hooper

Happy Halloween!

Holding hands at the rockaways ( an area hit hard from Sandy)

Donald is in the tan jacket and the others are the Sri Lankan families in our ward who are awesome! 
 Creepy girl we saw

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 49, Facebook is not all....

Hey everyone! Another really good week for Elder Tuiaki and I. We had many blessings and unplanned teaching opportunities come. But first off, we are getting iPads and iPhones November 11-13! Each missionary will get their own iPad mini for their entire mission, therefore, they are expected to take good care of it. Our Area Book, Planner, Progress Records, etc, will now all be digital and be updated in the iCloud and all of that info in certain areas will transfer over to our iPad wherever we go! Facebook and all the online proselyting stuff will be with us at all times and we can now have Skype lessons much easier. It is super exciting! I can already see myself walking up to someone and talking with them about General Conference and be like hey do you want to see a highlight from this talk? and whip out the iPad and show them! It is going to be so cool.

This 6 week transfer is coming to an end and Saturday we will get the call to whether or not we are leaving or staying. I most likely will be staying, but Elder Tuiaki will be probably leave since he has been here for 9 months! He has been my favorite companion. He is so funny. We laugh at everything and have a good time and always crack jokes and people who are crazy.

Madeline is doing very well! She finally went a day without smoking and she was so happy about it. We have a new baptismal date for her on November 17. She knows this church is true and loves it. She has a very strong testimony of Christ and knows we were the answer to her prayer as we knocked on her door the very day she was praying to know what she should do. 

We have also been able to run into people along the way as well. I definitely feel that it is inspiration as we pick people to go visit the night before as we plan or even just at the moment. We were going to visit and friend named Luis, and we stated walking up to his apartment when we saw him walking up the hill from the ferry terminal. It was perfect timing. He also agreed that it was perfect that we came when we did. We also went to visit a lady we haven't ever seen. We have met her husband many times, but never her. We went to her house, knocked on the door, and again she wasn't home, but right as we turned to leave, there she walked, right up the stairs to her home and we taught them! Lots of cool things like that happened. 

We also had the funnest Sunday ever! The Mud Lane Society, a community group to help keep the historic homes... well... historic, put on a haunted house tour of the historic houses. Our bishop's house is historic so he had us help out with that. The neighbors got out the make-up and latex and made all of our faces look like zombies so we were dead missionaries! It was soooo fun! I have a few pictures of it, but the Elder that took the pics, forgot his camera today so I will get those next week. We helped out by making sure the tourists payed and marked off which house they came too. It was a blast. We got to know the neighborhood well too and they are such good people. One of the families that Elder Tuiaki and I helped are going to come with us to a FHE/ game night at the Bishop's house on Monday. It is going to be a lot of fun. Oh and everyone thought we were awesome and looked super cool.

Everything is going well in Staten Island. Elder Tuiaki and I are going to be fearlessing (street contacting) people around the ferry instead of knocking on doors. It is more fun and successful too! It is getting cold too and that is why I am spending the rest of my P-Day going shopping with some Birthday money :). 


Elder Hooper

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week 48, Social Media, Birthday, 11 months! Pics!

Hey there everybody! Sorry this is late. Yesterday was Columbus Day so all of the NY libraries were closed. Elder Tuiaki and I had a pretty good week.

“Why would 18- and 19-year-olds be willing to put their lives on hold for up to two years,” he asks, “at a time when their peers are working through college or starting careers?”

The answer, Otterson says, is that Mormons learn from their youngest years to follow Jesus Christ by serving all people everywhere. Across the globe, such service brings missionaries in contact with people in “every conceivable kind of trial and circumstance,” Otterson says. “From opulence and selfishness to chronic, spirit-numbing poverty. From the effects of drugs and alcohol to the invidious addictions of pornography and gambling. From broken homes and battered wives to neglected children and debilitating illness. Missionaries encounter it all. But along with the bad,” Otterson continues, “missionaries also see the redemptive power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it transforms lives.” I just wanted to share this quote from mormonnewsroom.org because I encountered this question this week and the answer that was given is so true! There was a Catholic woman that was saying she wishes the young people in her church would even have the desire to do something like we do. She asked me what gives the young men and women in our church the desire to do this for 2 years? I responded in a more amusing way and said "maybe it is because we have the truth!" and we laughed. I have experienced many of the challenges the world faces in this statement and quite a few more as well!

Using Facebook has been such a great tool for us out here. When we are talking with people on the street, we can just ask for their email, search it in Facebook and then their profile pops up and then we can chat with them where they can control the situation and get more comfortable with having us in their own home in person. It has been a marvelous blessing to us out here. Not only to investigators, but also to members! It has made the missionary work come to life!

My birthday was great! I had a fun day. I made a lemon cake that my mom sent me and we partied! It was fun. Aunt Leslie, thank you so much for the cake balls. They are delicious. They were all gone in two days and maybe even sooner. I appreciated all the birthday cards and I am working on responding to all of them! The star wars package was pretty cool too Mom and Dad. My companion and I took the blow-up light-sabers and dueled.

The sister missionaries had a baptism last Sunday and it went well even after the small crisis before hand. I was in charge of filling the baptismal font and I some how didn't get the drain completely plugged. After checking on it multiple times and not noticing the drain, there was definitely not enough water for the baptism to be performed. One of the sisters even decided to go all the way into what water was present to try and fix the drain. It was pretty funny. Six of us members/missionaries grabbed some pitchers and were frantically filling them up with warm water and trying to assist the water faucet. It helped just enough to complete the baptism. All was well!

So while we were singing at the ferry again last week, we had a few drunk people come up to us and started dancing and trying to conduct our group and such. It was quite hysterical and I played along with them to make them happy so they wouldn't get mad so they would leave. It was pretty funny until they approached our table and started arguing with my companion about something. This always happens to my poor companion. I don't know why all the mean people approach him. He got really upset after that, so we went to Rite Aid and bought some awesome Halloween masks and play around with to cheer us up. Yes, we have scared some people already! Don't worry they were just other missionaries :D. I will post some pictures we took.

So yesterday was my 11 month mark. I can't believe I have already been out for almost a year. It has gone by so fast. Time flies when you are having fun and finding, teaching, and baptizing!

Madeline is still progressing! She has a strong desire to follow Christ and has actually been apart of many churches prior to meeting with us. She has been searching for the truth in it's entirety and she says she feels that she has finally found it. She is determined to be baptized next month. We also have a few other families we are trying to work with and teach, but it has been hard to get in contact with some of them.

I am sorry there aren't very many details in this letter. I forgot my journal and have to get going! Thank you for all your support. My love and prayers go to all of you.

Elder Hooper
Birthday Cake, Happy 20th!

Masks they bought to scare the other missionaries and have fun with.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Week 47 -#ldsconf #so-old, and Pics. Happy Birthday Elder Hooper

I hope everyone had a wonderful General Conference weekend! I really enjoyed conference. it is definitely a holiday to me on a mission! I wish all of Staten Island, could have been watching this. If people would come watch, there is no way they could deny this church! The weather is getting chilly and it was super foggy yesterday. The leaves on the trees are changing colors which is so cool to watch.

So Elder Tuiaki and I's favorite thing to do while we are knocking on doors is to make funny missionary rap songs. I beat-box and he raps! Its pretty fun. Elder Tuiaki knows the "missionary purpose" in Chinese and it is the coolest sounding rap ever!

During our music street sweep at the ferry a few days ago, there was a woman that came to our table and said she was Muslim and was getting so offended that we were here sharing Book of Mormons and such saying that Mohammed is who we should be following. Then she sternly said "you know what, I am just going to sit over here and listen to your music and not talk to you guys". As she listened, the spirit worked within her and the words we sang touched her heart and then she re-approached the table and asked if she could read and pray about one of those Book of Mormons. It was awesome! And during our lemonade street sweep at the ferry, Elder Liston a Chinese speaking Elder who is serving in the English program now talk to a bunch of Chinese people and one of them came to General Conference yesterday and is now being taught by the sisters! It was awesome!

We taught quite a few lessons this week with members and are now preparing a few less-actives to go to the temple. We met a young man across the street from us and we have taught him. He is a very good young man and that is a big deal for living in NY and truly wants to follow Christ. He is pure in heart and I know that if he chooses to accept this path he will be so much stronger to handle the stresses of his life and will be a great missionary. One of the young men in the ward happens to be friends with him too!

I will be using Facebook starting tomorrow! Isn't that an awesome birthday present. Once the mission gets settled in with Facebook, then we will get iPads to use. It is going to be awesome. I am so excited to use social media. Lately people have been asking me if I am on Facebook and now I can tell them I am. Our Ward Mission Leader has made us labels with our media info on them to give to people to looks us up on Facebook and Mormon.org. He also put my blog on it too, which I am not so sure if I like, but we will see.

Everything is going well in Staten Island. We have a few new families we have on the radar hoping we can teach. We are working hard and trying to take the advice that were given in conference to be more successful in the mission field. Sorry this is so short. We are going into Brooklyn for our Zone Activity and are late :O! I still can't believe I am 20 years old- so old.

Elder Hooper

Sammy Jr and Sammy Rosa. They are the coolest guys every. Brother Rosa goes teaching with us a lot.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 46, General Conference, Families, and more!

Hey there! We had a pretty good week! Lots of good things coming forth. I am so excited for General Conference. It is a holiday in my eyes since for once, instead of me teaching, I finally get to relax and be taught myself. We are hoping to bring as many people as possible to GC (I mean... who wouldn't be converted after hearing President Monson and Elder Holland?).

We have been coming in contact with families! We have been praying endlessly to find families to teach. One family, Ava and Glen, we met while we were in the park playing sports a month or so ago has been reading the Book of Mormon on their own without us even inviting them to do so. They are a really cool family and are quite knowledgeable with the Bible. Elder Tuiaki and I both love them very much. They even made some delicious Filipino food for us which was amazing! We also have been in contact with a family of 5 that have lived in Staten Island for a very long time. The mom has been a member her whole life and the others are not. The two sons 17yrs, 15yrs, and daughter 13yr, are amazing kids They are unusual for NY. They are loving, obedient, and have really good spirits about them. Most teenagers out here are the opposite unfortunately. There are a few other families that we have been working with as well and it makes me so happy. I know how much the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith can help them so much! Having the priesthood in their homes and true knowledge of their Father in Heaven and Savior will bring peace and comfort they have never imagined. The Vasquez family with baptismal dates for October 13th are still working on preparing themselves. The date is coming pretty quick and we are still working with them. There may be a chance of pushing the date back which there is no problem with whatsoever.

We have sang in the ferry again on Friday and it was very successful besides the man that was swearing up a storm at us. We aren't sure what exactly happened, but he approached the table we had set-up and something triggered his PTSD from the wars he fought in Vietnam and he just flipped out. While we are singing there is such a unique spiritual bubble that surrounds us and once that man started in rant, it popped. We all felt the spirit leave and it was difficult to get back. The MTA Police came and made him leave and it was all well after that. My poor companion took the brunt of it. It was actually quite funny. My companion, being a big Tongan, was shooing him away because he was getting in his face and I am sure he was ready to take him down if he needed to. Elder Tuiaki is a big guy (you should see him bench in the mornings haha).

We had an activity called Operation Shepherd down in Midwood, Brooklyn. The 76 missionaries in the Brooklyn Stake all gather together in this area in Brooklyn and visited all 700 of the Less-Active members who the ward had little to no information. I was paired with my trainer from 6 months ago, elder McDonald which was so much fun! I love him a ton and it was cool to see how much we both have grown. We found a lot of people together as well. We gave one lady a blessing, found a family that is being prepared (funny story about this too. I called this family asking for a Timothy. And the lady on the phone says, "um... that is my two year old son. Who are you?" I was just like, oh man, this is awkward. I explained who I was and such. Then during this activity we knocked on their door and had a fun laugh at it all and found out that since their kids were blessed in Germany at the Grandparents ward, the church has their records. They even had the blessing certificate framed on their wall)!

Well all is well in Staten Island. I wish I could write some more, but Elder Tuiaki and I are going to Queens to play some volleyball! Talk to you all next week. Have a wonderful General Conference weekend.

Elder Hooper

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 45, Staten Island Weekly

Hello! We had a much better week than last week!

Elder Tuiaki and I had a blast with the ward members in New Jersey. We got permission to go to the apple picking activity in Morristown, NJ. Our good friend Ron, who is a member we have been working with, drove us there and we picked lots of apples, 8 lbs to be exact. They are amazing apples! I have never had such a fresh juicy apple. It was really fun to get to know the members some more too. The Bishop and his wife said they enjoy having us apart of the ward family and we are very glad we got permission to go. Now I can say I have been to New Jersey :D.

My musical number went well in transfer meeting on Tuesday. Everybody loved it, especially the faster part towards the end. President Calderwood made a push on all of us to be more obedient to the small things as we are going to be authorized to use Facebook next week and and get iPad Minis the beginning of October. He really wants us to use these tools wisely. I have seen some real blessings and joy come from finding small things and being obedient to them.

On Wednesday after a Zone meeting we had in Dyker Heights, we went down 8 Av and 61st and blitzed the whole intersection with all 26 missionaries and handed out Free English class card for the Chinese people. It was so much fun. The white man spelling of Free English class is: "Me-un-fay eeng one bonn'. As everyone walked by that is what I would say, well try to say anyway, and hand out cards. My companion spent 8 months of his mission around China Town, so he actually speaks some Chinese and the Chinese people thought it was hilarious that there was this big Tongan guy speaking Chinese to everyone. They all gladly took his cards haha!

We had a really good lesson with Demetrio and Magdalen again. We committed them to baptism on the 13th of October. This is a more solid date and they really feel that this is what the spirit has told them to do. They are still telling all their friends they are Mormon now and are progressing towards this day. They also came to church again for the last 2 hours. They are having a difficult time getting to sacrament meeting on time, but we are just glad to have them there. Please pray for them specifically for strength to overcome some addictions they have and for their financial well being. I love this family a lot.

On splits with Bishop, I taught our Seventh-Day Adventist friend again. The lesson went well at the end and there was a really strong spirit as I bore my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith that reaffirmed my faith that he was really a prophet of God. I truly believe he was. He called us the next day and unfortunately dropped us. He just can not accept the Sabbath day being on Sunday when the Bible specifically says on the seventh day. If anyone has any advice on this or experience with the Seventh-Day Adventist church, please send a letter my way!

On Sunday, we had the chance to help some of the Elder's Quorum members do their home teaching and since everyone picked lots of apples the day before, everybody had apple pie. Mmmmm!

Well, everything is going well in Staten Island. We are a bit discouraged since we are having a hard time finding people to teach, but we are feeling optimistic with some new plans and General Conference coming up!

Love you all so much!
Elder Hooper.

Video From Jon to Alex at his Baptism

If You Could High to Kolob with Elder McCombs on guitar and Sister Pagan singing

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 44, NYNYS. Staying again in Staten

Well, Elder Tuiaki and I are going to be staying together for one another 6 weeks in Staten Island. This begins transfer number 8. We are excited to work together again. We both get along really well and have such a fun time together.

The seasons are totally changing! It has been in the high 60s here. It is so nice!

It was a pretty discouraging week for us unfortunately. All of our appointments canceled and basically nothing went our way. For some reason, everyone we talked to was slightly hostile. So I don't have any updates on investigators and such this week.

On a bright note, we had an awesome Plan of Salvation concert for the Spanish Ward. The missionaries in the Staten Spanish ward invited a few of the English to give musical numbers in the concert. I played If You Could High to Kolob with Elder McCombs on guitar and Sister Pagan singing. It was really good, and I accompanied two other singers on the piano as well.(video in link below) The Plan of Salvation was taught through music and testimonies and there was a really good spirit there even though I had no idea what was going on since it was all in Spanish. I really felt the spirit confirm to me that President Monson and his counselors are truly prophets, seers, and revelators- I know it! Don't forget General Conference in just 3 weeks. If you read 3 talks a day starting today, you will finish all of last session before this session in October.

We mowed a sister's lawn in our ward and while we were doing that her neighbor approached us to see how much we charge for doing lawns. He really didn't like us saying that we will do it for free, but after some persuasion he said ok and told us to come over and help him with his yard. We moved 1000lbs of sand to one location to the another and man, my back was so sore the next morning. He then handed us $40 and I was like, we don't want to take your money. He then quickly threw it into our pockets and wouldn't take it back haha! I tried to give him a pamphlet and slip the money in, but he caught me. Elder Tuiaki and I will just have to go out for dinner somewhere fancy (then the money disappeared after that thought, so I guess we were just not meant to use that money :P).

Sorry this is short this week. It was a really slow week. Elder McCombs, Sister Pagan, and I are performing the song we sang in the concert at transfer meeting tomorrow and it is going to be sick!

Elder Hooper

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 43 NYNYS, 10 Months!

Elder Tuiaki and I had a great week! We either hit or surpassed our goals and have many good things lying store for us this week. We taught a family of four on Monday who we met playing sports at the park with kids and they seemed to like what we taught, but I am not so sure if the husband, Glen, was very interested. They are hard to get in contact with, but we will keep trying. On my exchange with Elder Eggleston, we found a golden family! We knocked into her and I basically just said "Satan is attacking our families and we want to help you overcome this. Will you allow us to show you how?" And the woman at the door, Elisa, said sure since Satan has been attacking her family! We talked with her on the porch and gave her some reading material and wanted us to come back with her husband home. She has two kids. They would be a golden family if we can get in touch with them again. 

On Wednesday we also did an activity at the ferry with our district giving out free lemonade. It was awesome! Of course everyone loves free lemonade. We got several phone numbers and we got an investigator from it too. His name is Frank and he is Seventh Day Adventist. The only issue he said he has is worshipping the Sabbath on Sunday. He totally believes that God could call another prophet today. We are meeting with him this week.

We also taught Demetrio and Magdalen twice last week, and Magdalen and her two kids came to church! We were so excited about that! They both have been reading some of the  Book of Mormon and really enjoy it and feel the power and strength it gives them.

The members are just awesome out here! We have 6 members signed up to come teaching with us this week! I love this ward so much. They have a lot of trust in us in basically everything. Having members of the ward and the ward council so involved in the work here is fantastic!

We have lots of great things going on in our pool and a baptism will surely come next transfer.

Oh and we are working with a members who really wants to come back and receive his endowments and wants our help to get there! Woohoo!

As I am sure most of you have seen the video, I did play my violin in church last Sunday. It was really good! There was such a strong spirit that was present during and after the musical number. Everyone loved it. It also happened to be like the best Sunday ever since Magdalen and her kids came to church and we had an awesome pot luck lunch right afterwards too with some awesome food. It was a really good activity.

So Elder Tuiaki and I had a little brain fart after church too. I was backing him up out of the parking spot and both of us I feel have been getting pretty lazy/feeling invincible with someone backing us up. Nothin bad happened, but Elder Tuiaki totally scratched the bottom of the bumber and backed into a bush. A member saw and was like "Dang, we will wait for you guys to leave the parking lot so we can leave unharmed. It was kind of funny.

We sang hymns and such again at the ferry and it went well. So well that a drunk guy came up to us and started to pretened to conduct us. Most of us had to stop singing as we were cracking up.

The weather is getting so nice! It has been 65 degrees in the morning and in the high 70s in the afternooon.

This week is the last week of the transfer. I would be very surprised to get trasnferred, but there is a really good chance Elder Tuiaki will probably leave since he has been here for 7 months. We will find out on Saturday!

Well, I love you all very much! Have a great week.


Elder Hooper

My zone at Coney Island

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 42 NYNYS, Just been at Stylin' Staten

So here are a few cool stories:

I don't know if any of you remember this story, but almost 6 months ago, someone stole my backpack with my camera and scriptures and such in it. I got a phone call a few days ago from my old companion saying someone returned my scriptures to him! Some miracle happened and this lady was given my set of scriptures by her next door neighbor with my dad's missionary tag on still on the cover and with a mormon.org pass along card inside with my old cell phone number on it. She called it and returned the scriptures and is now taking the lessons! How cool is that!? Someone is now being taught by my old set of stolen scriptures and my Dad's name tag is still on it! Too cool. My last companion said it was meant to happen. He said he never has felt the spirit so strong in a lesson, and to find an investigator like that is just too cool. My Dad's name tag meant a lot to me and to have it back is awesome! Whenever I was having a difficult day, I would look at my Dad's missionary tag and remember that he served honorably and went through similar experiences that I have gone through, so I can do it too!

So the lady and her brother who hit the Zone Leader's car is now being taught by the Spanish Elders! While we were sitting waiting for the tow truck to come, I ran into the house to get a Spanish Book of Mormon to give to the Zone Leaders to give to her. Along with some apples and chocolate, we gave the the BoM and explained what it is and now they are being taught! Her brother even works for a member in the Spanish Ward.

So we played music at the St. George Ferry again! I played my violin, Elder McCombs played the guitar, and the other 10 Elders and Sisters in Staten Island sang hymns. It was really good! the violin added the nice professional feel to it and the guitar added a fun beat and then the singing brought the spirit with the doctrine. It is so much fun. I am also playing my violin in church on Sunday with Sister Natalie Jangula in the ward I am serving in. She is going to record it before sacrament meeting and will most likely put it on Facebook.

We will be getting iPads and the opportunity to start using Facebook in October! I am so stoked! Facebook is going to be so nice to have here. All our investigators, less-active members, active members and basically everyone uses Facebook! You are much more excited about seeing a Facebook update on your phone then a text, so then we will send messages on Facebook to people and get them :D.

We haven't been in contact with Demetrio and Magdalen for over a week now. We are worried about them. We are still hoping for the 22nd!Staten Island is doing well. The Zone Leaders had a great baptismal service last Sunday and the sisters now have a baptismal date for Jessica finally! She is so ready for baptism. Elder Tuiaki and I are working on being more fearless and are trying to make our door approaches more powerful by incorporating How to Begin Teaching, Our Purpose, and our testimony all in like 15 seconds! It is going to be interesting, but it should help. We also have gotten in contact with some less-active families we are teaching too! There are lots of things coming out of the woodwork and the members are still working really well with us. One of the ward missionaries made us labels with our phone number, church address, etc. so we can put them on Mormon.org cards. They are so convenient!

I forgot my journal so I am having a difficult time remembering the fun things of last week, but I just love serving a mission. I have learned so many things and continue to learn more and more. I have seen promises in my Patriarchal Blessing being fulfilled and have seen how much knowledge I have gained being here.

I have to get going now! Gotta go into Brooklyn and get my scriptures!

Elder Hooper

Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 41 NYNYS, Two Baptismal Dates! Woohoo!

Hey everybody! Staten Island is good as usual! Our next big activities we are getting together here are a block party on our street (since a lot has been going on with us that has been getting our neighbors attention to us, including the zone leaders car accident which I will explain later), a blood drive at the church, End of Summer Movie night, and a Restoration Concert (like the one we had in Far Rockaway a few months ago). It is going to be fun!

So the beginning of the week was pretty slow for us since we didn't have our car for a few days. The Vehicle Dynamic Control and ABS light were on so we had to get a few things replaced. While this was going on we were taking public transit and begging the Zone Leaders that live below for rides every once and a while and then there car gets totaled! So then we were out of luck there. At around 8:45am while we were studying, I heard this loud crunch sound and my mind immediately goes "that sounds like two cars". I open our window and see that someone just crashed into the Zone Leader's car. I am frantically trying to get my camera to get a picture of this lady's license plate since is looked like she was trying to drive off, but then I saw her steering column snapped in half so she wasn't going anywhere! It definitely put their car out of commission. I will send a picture of their car. They now have a brand new 2013 Toyota Corolla.

Demetrio and Magdalen now have baptismal dates for September 22nd! We are excited for them and are going to do everything we can to help them prepare. They are beginning to see their faith grow and they love what we are sharing. They are currently working on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. We have watched the Restoration video twice and they like memorized half of the film. They are pure in heart and want to change! They are already calling themselves "Mormon". It is amazing how much the Lord has done for us so we would be able to effectively help them according to their exact needs. Please pray for them that they will be able to find out for themselves what we are sharing is true! This is crucial for them. I wish I could explain how important this will be for them! It is also their son Daniel's 4th birthday today. He is a really cute boy who happens to have Autism. We brought them some cake and ice cream which totally made their day.

I accompanied the Sister Missionaries again on the same song we played a few weeks ago "I Stand All Amazed" in Portuguese in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. It went really well! Everyone was very impressed. I will also be giving another musical number on the violin with Sister Jangula in the ward on the piano. We are playing the Sally DeFord/Eva Hooper arrangement for My Heavenly Father Loves Me. It is going to be nice!

Some cool news: Staten Island is apparently getting the world's largest Ferris Wheel built by the Staten Island Ferry soon. It is a $1 Billion project! Whether that is true or not, ask the old lady that told me about it.

Our ward is looking forward to having 4 baptisms this month. The Zone Leader's are having a baptism this Sunday and then the 15th! We are excited!

Time to go to Coney Island to play some Ultimate Frisbee with my Zone! Love you guys!


Elder Hooper

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Week 40 NYNYS, Life on the Little Island

Happy Monday! Everything is great on Staten! Lots of good things happened this week.

After a few weeks of just struggling, I finally felt my Heavenly Father answer my prayers. While sitting in sacrament meeting yesterday morning, I felt the spirit very strongly, and I just felt so at peace with myself and everything. I also learned that I needed to let myself fall into the arms of the Atonement, be humble and trusting toward my Heavenly Father, and show more reverence to Him. So far as I have applied this, the spirit has been much more present with me!

While we were mowing the lawn of one of the members in our ward, we got a phone call from an investigator of ours and he was wondering if we would be able to come and pray with him since he needed some extra help. We gladly accepted the invitation and then he told us why he needed the prayer. He said that he had $77 in his wallet that he was going to use to rent a lawn mower so that he could get the side of his house cleaned up so he wouldn't get in trouble with the state. He is currently unemployed and has 3 kids that he is trying to take care of so $77 so a big deal for him. I told him not to rent a lawn mower and I will give the ward a call to see if we can help. After I hung up, I was just like, well I am mowing a lawn right now and could just bring it over and do his lawn. That is exactly what we did. We emptied out the trunk and loaded up the lawn mower and weedwacker in our small compact Subaru and got his lawn taken care of. It was a joyous experience to be an answer to one of Heavenly Father's children. A funny/sketchy part of this was that the member we were doing yard work for wasn't home so I just made the judgment call and just borrowed the tools. They didn't care that I stole them anyway. There also was a member that was moving out that emptied their entire cabinet of food and gave it too all the missionaries and we got a huge bag full of organic delicious food. We knew that this family needed it more than we did, so we had the sisters take it to them. They were shocked and so thankful. We were so glad we could help them! We also met with them again last night and gave them priesthood blessings which I could definitely tell it brought them peace!

I also have never been so full in my life! We ended up having 4 dinner appointments in one day and I thought I was going to kill over and die! We were fed pizza while we helped a member move out, fed by a family we were teaching (delicious ravioli's), pizza again by another appointment we had, and then to top it off, we had some amazing Sri Lankan food from another member. I thought I was going to explode! I couldn't even walk I was so full. I am pretty sure I gained a few pounds after that too.

On Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple with the ward to do baptisms with the youth. It was really fun. I took my first ferry ride from Staten Island too Manhattan. It was so much fun. We all had a really good time! Afterwards, we went with the Spanish district in Staten Island to one of their finding activities in the park. We played Jenga, chalk, chess, checkers, football, soccer, volleyball, frisbee, and Uno with kids at the park! It was so much fun. The kids there all loved it and their parents loved it because their kids were happy. We had several potentials from it that were all solid families too! It is a great finding opportunity for us while we are having fun!

We had a lot of success at the ferry again as we did a Family History street sweep. We had the sisters there with us this time and I think that made all the difference! They are so much easier to talk to then us. To all the women that past by they were like "we like your skirt" or whatever and then they would start talking to us. If I said I like your skirt, they would just think I am a creeper haha! It was fun!

We finally were able to talk to Tsubon and Myunbo's mother! She had some questions regarding the plan of salvation so we talked about that a little bit. I sure do hope we can unite this family together and bring them all to the temple to be sealed! President Calderwood wants us to do this too!

We watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with a couple as well. It was really cool. When I bore testimony of Joseph and the Book of Mormon, there was power behind what I said. it was so cool. I saw the change in their eyes when I bore my testimony. I just love Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and know that he was a true prophet!

All is well here in Staten Island! I love it a lot and hope I never have to leave this area. Oh by the way, I went to Costco today and bought lots of muffins! Yum!

Here is link to a video of some missionaries in my mission. Its pretty cool. Sister Bradfield is a good friend of mine too:


Elder Hooper

Week 40 Pics, Staten Island Ferry, Boys from the Ward, Statue of Liberty, NY Temple

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 39 NYNYS, 9 Months in New York City

President Calderwood gave us all some awesome news! Since we, as a mission, are focusing and setting goals for the temple on everyone we are teaching, President announced that we will be able to attend a temple session every 6 months instead of at our year mark and 2 year mark. I am really excited about it, but I am so bummed that he didn't announce this before my 6 month mark! It reminds me when President Monson announced the missionary age change and I already had my mission call and was leaving the next month! I was like "man, why couldn't you have said that last conference!" Its all good though.

Our ward has an awesome system going right now! The ward mission leader created a list for the Elder's Quorum and Relief Society to sign up for one day a month to come out with the missionaries. For this month, we have someone signed up to go out with us everyday so the four of us Elders here see which member would suit best for our investigators or planned activity that day. It is working really well so far and it helps to have different members come to the appointment because it gets everyone familiar with our investigators which then helps increase fellowship when they come to church! The members are also getting excited about it too.

Elder Tuiaki and I have found 2 new investigators, one of which is the girl friend of a Less Active we have been working with and the other was a referral from the Spanish Elders, Stanli, from Poland. Stanli had many questions about the Plan of Salvation and also had many ideas that he had been researching that was completely "on" with our doctrine. He also led us straight into the Restoration too! We have so many people that we are working with, but we are struggling to set firm appointments with them all.

We have been working a lot in the southern part of Staten Island by the church and man, there are some mean people in these upper class neighborhoods! We both have been getting slightly discouraged at their remarks, but we just carry on and find someone else.

On Saturday, we went to a beautiful park called Willowbrook Park with the sisters and sang hymns for people. I accompanied everyone on the violin which was really fun! There was a spiritual wall around us. People couldn't pass by without feeling it. It was such a beautiful place to. We are going to try doing this by the Staten Island ferry this week too.

I had a pretty interesting experience a few days ago too haha! We were driving home from a meeting in Brooklyn, and we passed by this large Catholic church and there was this lady who was literally "prostrated" on the ground like the Bible says! She had her hands up on the large door and was kneeling down praying. I asked Elder Tuiaki to stop the car because I wanted to see if there was anything we could to help her and maybe be the answer to her prayer. She said that she was an RN, but gave up everything for Christ and prays in a unique way to inflict pain to her body to be closer to God. It was kind of sad that she doesn't understand the way the Atonement is supposed to work, I mean I still don't completely either, but there is absolutely no need to put abnormal strain on your body to enhance your spirituality. It was kind of a funny experience though. I wish you could have been there to just see what it looked like.

So the new shoulder bag that I got has Velcro on it and I got the idea from my Zone Leader to buy some Velcro patches to put on it. I got the coolest patches ever that go perfectly for being a missionary! One says "W.W.J.D?" and the other says "WORKING FOR GOD DOESN'T PAY MUCH, BUT HIS RETIREMENT PLAN IS OUT OF THIS WORLD!" It was just too funny not to put on my shoulder bag. So far, everyone else likes it.

Well that is all for this week. My comp and I are going into Brooklyn to play some volleyball!

Elder Hooper

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 38 NYNYS, Transfer #7 Begins

So right now I am watching my skin just turn darker shades of red. I got fried down in Coney Island today as I was playing rugby on the beach with some other missionaries. Playing with the Tongans and Hawaiians is pretty scary!

It has been a slow week for Elder Tuiaki and I. Lots of our lessons canceled and such. It is finally starting to cool down too! So for some funny stories first:

While on exchanges with my Zone Leader, we saw this homeless guy totally knocked out on a bus bench with his body all sprung out and his mouth wide open. It was the funniest thing ever! I wanted to take a picture, but that would've looked kind of bad. 

During that same day, we also ran into several really crazy people. One of them was a 50 year old really tall black man who was trying to explain to us that the Holy Bible means "He Only Loves You, Book of Instruction Before Leaving Earth". He was yelling swinging his finger at us while spit flew from his mouth. We then started to introduce him to the Book of Mormon and he pulled the Revelation card on us so then we said that God wouldn't limit His word, then the guy was like yea I totally agree that God would not limit his word to one book! We were like... exactly. Then another guy came up during that conversation saying how he believed completely in Christ, but denies God. It was just a mess! However, it was hilarious to see all the people that would walk by just staring at these crazy guys.

We have been going down to the ferry and setting up a table and doing different things like, a Family History street sweep, and also a "What Do the Mormon's Believe" street sweep. We also happened to do one street sweep there during the Staten Island carnival. We had lots of people talk to us and we had a good time, until we were told we had to leave, since we didn't pay for a permit. 

We helped a lady move out of her house last week, and she just unloaded her pantry into bags and gave everything to us! We have so many cans of food and pasta with tomato sauce. It is insane how much food we have! I didn't even buy anything for this week's groceries. I think we have a year supply so if another hurricane hits we are set!

Yesterday during fast and testimony meeting, all the members seemed to talk about missionary work and how much the missionaries in the ward mean to the members and how they want to share with their friends. It was so great to see how much the ward is ready to do missionary work. I had some inspiration to start planning around the members and stopping by for a few minutes, pray, and doing our work around them. 

Right now, the one solid family we are teaching has been having some health problems with one of their mothers in Brooklyn so we haven't been able to meet with them. We are also going to be teaching Brother Pen, Myunbo, and Tsubon's mom in the next few days too! #togetherforever. We also have still been in contact with our Sri Lankan friends and got 6 Sinhalese Book of Mormons for them. We have so many other people we are working with, but we are still trying to find the one who is ready- really ready to take the first step to unlock the full power of the Atonement.

I just want to let you all know how much I love my Heavenly Father. Through these 9 months on my mission. I have been instructed and refined by Him. I have learned lessons that have completely changed who I am (for the better of course). I know the priesthood authority has truly been restored and the true gospel was restored though God's prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Jesus Christ lives and it is only through Him that we can find lasting peace and comfort in this life. Not only does this church make logical sense to me, I just love it. It is awesome! 

Have a great week everyone!


Elder Hooper

P.S. We talked to the crazy dancing lady we saw last week :D