Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 8 NYNYS

Hey there!

This week has been freezing! For the first time, I have experienced a real snow fall. It has been pretty fun tracting in that kind of weather!

First off, I just want to thank all of you that have sent me letters recently. I really needed all that support this week.. It means so much to me to have all of your support back home.

It has been a pretty good week! We have had a lot of success working with members and some less active members who are all great people! We also tracted into a few new people that were so nice. Hopefully we will be able to share a little more with them in the future. We have had some great dinner appointments (not talking about the food here even though it is always nice) where we have been earning the members trust, and also helping them increase their faith in Christ and helping them be more united with their families. I love to work with the members and help renew their testimonies of the restoration! It is hard for me to explain how much working with members is so important for missionaries and how important is it that the members work with the missionaries. Our branch is incredible with this. We work together so well and it is almost as if we are just simply members to. We all work together! It helps both parties!

On Saturday, we had a free hot chocolate street sweep which was pretty successful. Who doesn't want free hot chocolate on a freezing snowy day? Many people were interested in the many DVDs and books we had about the Savior. Another missionary and I even talked with a really cool police officer who also was a youth minister for his church. We talked about why there are so many churches on the Earth today. He said he has seen us missionaries a lot in the neighborhoods and said that now that he knows what we are doing now, he won't ever mess with us! :D

These last few weeks have been a more struggle for me. I have had to rely on the Lord more than I have ever had to in my life. The power of the atonement is real. It isn't just there when we need to repent. We are perfected in Christ through the enabling power of the atonement. My Mission President and I were talking about the atonement and he said that the Lord is more upset with you when you deny the power of His son's atonement, then when you have sinned. This meaning that if you are still hurting yourself for your past mistakes, you are denying the power of the atonement, if you are not allowing the atonement to help you overcome your weaknesses you are denying the power of the atonement. This is something that I am trying to work even harder at so that I can allow the atonement shape me into the missionary the Lord wants me to be. My invitation to you, is always use that atonement in every aspect of your life. I have seen it help me develop Christ-like attributes. I know that I can't develop these traits on my own, but with the Lord's help, I (and you!) am capable of doing it.

Yesterday, my companion and I met a man at our sacrament meeting who was being taught by the New York North missionaries with his co-worker in Harlem. He was going to be baptized, but he needs to get baptized in his area. He lives in Greenpoint, which is my companion and I's area! He is a super cool guy and we are so excited to have him in our branch and soon to become the newest member. He has a very strong testimony of the gospel and will make a great leader and priesthood holder in the future. We will baptize him the 10th! We are excited.

I am so grateful for your support and love all of you very much! Your support and love keeps me going!


Elder Hooper

Week 8 Photos

It has been very cold and windy here. Utah has been more cold, but NY's cold cuts you to the bone! It is a humid, windy cold that cuts through all of your clothes. Even people from Utah say it feels more cold than Utah does!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Week 7 NYNYS

Hey everybody!

This week has just been crazy. I moved apartments this week. I was living in a four man apartment and now my companion and I were able to get our own apartment since they closed one of the Spanish pools. My new address is 680 Metropolitan Ave. Apt 2R Brooklyn, NY 11211. It has taken a few days to clean out the apartment (the previous Elders were pretty messy) and then a while to move in and unpack. The apartment is much bigger and is convenient for us because it is right in the middle of our area and we are next to two trains that we use frequently.

So I am going to start off with a super funny story! A little embarrassing to. So, in my previous pad we had some issues with a mouse since December and it finally appeared the day before we moved. I walked inside at the end of our day and the other Elders had to oven all out and pulled apart (apparently thats where he has been hiding). We smacked the oven and out comes the mouse (who we called Gadianton) and he ran behind the fridge and I just let out this blood curdling scream because it freaked me out. Then Elder Broadbent scared the mouse out of the back of the fridge and it runs out and I am screaming again and I run into the bathroom and close the door, but then I saw that Gadianton ran in with me so I swing open the door screaming my head off and run in the other room. Then we scared it out of the bathroom again and it starts running towards me again so I am screaming some more and finally he was stopped by Elder Finlinson! Scariest moment of my life by far! Five minutes later, our downstairs neighbor texts us to ask if we are home. We then said yes and that we were having some mouse hunting issues. She was laughing because her and her neighbor thought there was someone dieing upstairs! It was pretty funny I have to admit.

A few of us missionaries spoke in church this Sunday. I spoke on D&C 4:1-2. It went really well and people enjoyed it. It was all about just serving the best we can in all our callings in the church. I also played "O My Father" on my violin with a piano accompanying me. I had a few people in tears afterwards (which is my goal- to have others be uplifted by the spirit as I play). It was a really good sacrament meeting for me personally, and as well as the other members of the branch.

We have met with a few people while tracting this week that we are meeting with soon. We are still struggling to get people to come to church. We will extend a short powerful invitation about how church is such an important part of coming to understand the truths of the gospel for ourselves, but people still aren't coming. We are hoping that we will have an investigator or two come this week.

There have been a few things that have been going on lately and also some things that I felt before I had my mission call helping me to know that this mission and the area I am serving, is exactly where the Lord needs me to be. Being called to New York, in the New York South mission was, without a doubt, an inspired call from God. There are certain people that I feel only I can understand completely and bring them to the true knowledge of their Savior, Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Last night, we had two convert baptisms in our district. It was so much fun to see the other companionships teach people and lead them to the waters of baptism and help them start their journey on the straight and narrow path towards the temple. I am sure that my companion and I will be able to help someone make this covenant in the near future.

Thank you for all your prayers and support, and letters of course!


Elder Hooper

Week & Photos

 This squirrel was right outside my window!
My new Apartment

 White Castle is a fast food joint that is worse than McDonalds and they are having reservations lol!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 6 NYNYS

My first transfer in Bushwick just ended today! These six weeks went by incredibly fast! All the days seem to mush together. Thank you to all that have written to me this week. I loved all your letters and will plan on writing you all back today.

I am not getting transferred. I will still be here in Bushwick. I am very glad about this because our branch is getting stronger and more unified. With the new branch presidency, the branch is getting more excited about activities and our meetings are very spiritual. They have been better than most meetings I have ever been to! (maybe because I am a missionary?) Next Sunday, we are having a missionary theme in all the meetings. All the missionaries will be speaking during sacrament meeting about how important member missionary work is crucial for building the branch and helping us missionaries teach more lessons. I will also be playing O My Father with my violin and with one of our investigators playing the cello (she is super good!). Then following the meeting, we are having two baptisms still! It is going to be a great Sunday. I really think that with this meeting and with the branch party, we will see more success.

Also this week, we met a family who requested the missionaries over We were able to meet them and they are really cool! They seemed very interested. We then came back and taught a mini lesson with one member of the family and invited her to church. Hopefully we will be able to teach them again soon. They are a very close family and they love each other very much! I know that the gospel can really help unite their family even more and most importantly, live together forever!

I wish I would have taken pictures of this, but we have been trying to come up with unique finding ideas to help people get familiar with us. We took our table down into the subway and played Jenga and chess with people waiting for the subways to come. A lot of people thought we were crazy, but once one person would finally stop and pull a wood piece out of the Jenga tower, people would stop, chuckle, and even play with us. We had many people take pictures of us and a few discussions were had too. I thought it was pretty successful. It would be even better if we had two game tables set up!

So funny story (well actually kind of an embarrassing story in a way). We were on the G train and we got lost multiple times (I was on exchanges and I was leading the way and we went to an area I have never been to before) and these two people came on the train that were signing to each other. I signed to them and asked if they were deaf. They said they were and then starting signing 100mph at me and I had no idea what they were saying I asked them to slow down so I could understand them, then one of them basically just gave me a "nevermind I am not going to try to talk to you because you dont understand me" sign. It was slightly depressing! But don't worry, I told them what church we were from :).

The members are starting to get more comfortable with us and we are having some dinner appointments too! Last night we even got fed a four course meal of Caribbean food! It was delicious.

Hopefully I will be able to share some of our more spiritual moments with investigators when we have some more lessons scheduled. People are very busy here and aren't able to meet with us consistently. I am still doing well and wish you all the best!


Elder Hooper

Week 6 Photos

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 5 Photos

 All the house pics are in Far Rockaway

Week 5 NYNYS

The work is really picking up here in Bushwick as the transfer comes to a close this week! Our district is having two baptisms January 20th, and I had the privilege to invite one of them to be baptized while on an exchange which was a great story that you will all have to hear when I get home. We are also having a Branch Culture/Missionary party next month that at this rate is looking like it will be a huge success. We are meeting with every active member of the branch and getting them excited about this party and to invite friends to it as well. We got a branch presidency as well and they are working really well with us missionaries and the work is going to continue to pick up!

Last Saturday, we did one final day of Hurricane Sandy clean up. I really enjoyed it! I always seem to learn something that I have been in need of when I am serving others. It is so much fun to put on that Mormon Helping Hands vest and get to work. All the people in the Rockaways know who we are and honk and wave, they feed us, give us water we are friends with everyone out there. It is a great opportunity to serve them! It is also nice coming from my area where people arent so friendly to us, to another area where the people are grateful for our help. We combined with the NYNY North Missionaries too. I even met some people who I played volleyball with from Mountain View and Westwood HS! They are all super cool missionaries.

My companion and I aren't doing so well with baptisms. We have 3 strong families we are kind of teaching, but it is extremely hard to get in contact with some of them and there are just little things holding them back. I truly do love each family! The Lord gives us a lot of inspiration towards them. I know and feel that he truly does care for them. I wish they could know how much the gospel can bring peace and so much happiness they have never experienced before if they would keep commitments and simply desire to have a testimony. The Lord is so mindful of them. I can't wait to teach them again. I am really hoping that the baptismal service we are holding will be an opportunity for them, if they come, to feel the spirit and know that this is the right thing. Watching the district videos, and from what I have experienced throughout my life, the gospel of Jesus Christ, when truly understood, changes people in a good way! I can see it in their countenance, and in their eyes. I have seen it in me! I just wish everyone understood this!

During our tracting, my companion and I are understanding that the people here need to feel love, most importantly God's love for them. I feel that people feel they are forgotten in this city fool of commotion and big crowds. There are no peaceful places to really go in this area. People feel forgotten and alone. The people here don't really talk to anyone or acknowledge anyone here. It is pretty self-centered here. We are trying to help everyone understand that they are loved and understood infinitely and unconditionally by their Savior and Heavenly Father.

I really hope I will be able to stay in Bushwick for my next transfer. I love this area so much. I am growing closer with the members here and they are getting to know me. I basically know where I am going and which trains/busses to take to get to the places I need to go now! It is pretty confusing, but I have it figured out now. I am often leading our group sometimes!

So cool story. I made this amazingly delicious BBQ pizza the other day. One of the stores near our pad has some really cheap rolls. I got a little creative (story of a missionaries life when it comes to home cook meals) and made me an awesome pizza. Just thought you should know.

One last week of my first transfer!

Talk to you all next week!


Elder Hooper

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Week 4 NYNYS

Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe it is already 2013. I have been a missionary over 7 weeks now. Time sure does fly and I am sure glad I still have plenty of weeks left because I learn so much every week. I will be a spiritual giant by the time I am finished! This week has been a more difficult one. We have been rejected at almost every door this week. We have met many smartalek people. One lady yelled back through the intercom when we rang her buzzer, "I am Jewish and happy with it!". We laughed and rang the next buzzer and we were then buzzed in the second floor so we went inside and knocked on their apartment door. The man looks at us, and yells "I am not at ALL interested!" and slammed the door. We went back outside and heard the lady making fun of her comment about her remark to us through the intercom with one of her friends inside. It was a difficult week :D, but its funny to look back on all the funny comments people make.

I am very grateful for the hard weeks that I have. I learn so much from them. That is one thing I have been learning out here. Having trials and rough times, like my companion said this morning, are opportunities! I usually dread having difficult days and challenging times (ok well I still do), but I am teaching myself and learning to really take these times and learn from them. This life is the time to grow and develop Christlike attributes to eventually live with God again! Why should we mope and get discouraged during personal challenges. Like Nephi says (2 Nephi 4) no longer allow yourself to get discouraged, but instead learn from these times. I am learning to rely more on Heavenly Father and be more submissive to Him. I am learning more than I ever have in my life as I look at trials as opportunities. Anyway, that is a summarized chunk of what I learned this last week!

Our New Years was basically an extended Preparation Day. We weren't allowed to be on the streets past 6pm (which is the time a regular P-Day ends) so we ate lots of food and candy and played some board games and cards in our District Leader's apartment. We also watched the Restoration video of Joseph Smith, which I love. It was a pretty fun day.

So a cool story. One of our investigators had some questions about how she can really "know" President Monson is truly the prophet on the earth today. Never before has the spirit worked through me to answer her question. New thoughts and ideas and scriptures came to my mind that really helped her. It was truly an awesome experience for me! I think I learned as much as she did from what I shared with her.

This month we are really going to be focusing on getting the members excited about missionary work here. When I was back home the missionaries and ward missionary leader always would say how much the members really are needed and help a lot in the missionary efforts! I have seen that is definitely true. When we are able to have a member present at lessons or even teach an investigator at their home, the spirit is more present, it is less stressful, and the investigator can relate better to a "normal" person who lives in their area. So if you are reading this letter, think about what you can do more to help the missionaries in your area. They need you! Tracting isn't the best way to do missionary work out here so we are hoping to get the members of our branch pumped for missionary work and have them hopefully invite us to teach their friends.

Anyway, it has been a great, challenging week. I am looking forward to this week because people are finally getting back to their normal schedule and being are coming back from vacation.

Happy New Year! 2013


Elder Hooper

By the way, transfers are January 15th. I will let you know if I am being transferred. I will most likely stay here since I am still training, but you never know.