Monday, February 25, 2013

Week 12 NYNYS

Hey everybody,

This week was great! Our sacrament meeting was great as well yesterday. We were really full and quite a few non-members came too! To help you see how full we were, we had to re-fill the sacrament trays 2 extra times and bless them as well. 95 people came in total, and for our branch that is really good! We now have a new investigator who also came to church with us. She is really friendly and very interested in the gospel as well. She has an 18 month old son who is adorable. The other companionships also had investigators to church too! The work here is really progressing and we are doing very well. We knock on doors endlessly trying to share the Plan of Happiness with little success, but people find us! The Lord is truly blessing us. The branch members are also doing very well. We have seen a very big change in the members over the last 2 months. We are becoming more united, the members are fellow-shipping and being so friendly to everyone around them. There is no other branch/ward that I would rather be serving in!

The concert in Far Rockaway last night was great! I had the wonderful opportunity to play my violin with Elder Wang, a very talented musician from Taiwan. We played "I Need Thee Every Hour". I completely forgot to record it, but it was amazing. People were amazed at how well the violin and his guitar complimented each other. Not trying to boast or anything, but we rocked it! Other than that, the rest of the concert went very well. The spirit was present and people were very touched by the program all about the Restoration which was taught through music. President Calderwood and Elder Olsen, the Area 70, spoke towards the end. A few people were committed to be baptized afterwards and a few Book of Mormons were taken as well! It was a really great concert.

So funny story of the week. On our way back from the the concert, 7 missionaries (there was a trio) were riding back in the van. I was sitting next to a sister missionary and some how our seat like unlocked and when we accelerated, the entire seat fell backwards! The three of us in the seat were screaming and then when the seat flew forward again, my seat belt locked up so tightly that it was choking me and I had to pry myself out. It was pretty funny! You just had to be there to understand what happened.

I had a cool thought while I was at the concert as well. I was just thinking how I wish I could have been here in New York during the hurricane so I could understand and relate to the people in the Rockaways more. As I was thinking about this. One of my favorite scriptures came to mind- Alma 7:11-12. We needed someone that was perfect and someone who could understand us perfectly. The Savior came to Earth so that He could understand us and to take upon Himself all the pains, sicknesses, temptations, and afflictions of every kind. He did this just to how to "succor His people according to their infirmities". Christ knows the way we feel. He loves us and understands us perfectly. He lives!

I am still doing very well out here in Brooklyn. There is no other mission that I would rather be in than right where I am. I love the people I am serving with and the people who we serve. I love my mission president and all the people in the Bushwick 1st Branch. I love my mission and most importantly, my Heavenly Father who loves me and all His children. Talk to you all next week!


Elder Hooper

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Week 11 NYNYS

Transfer number 3!

Sorry it took me so long to write this week. I don't have a lot of time since our schedule got thrown off. The library closes on every holiday and transfers on Tuesday filled up the day. My companion and I are still together and he has been called as the District Leader for our area. He will do a great job. It also kind of fun for me because I get to accompany him to all the meetings they have and mingle with other missionaries throughout the mission.

The weather has actually been fairly nice lately. However, the wind is awful. The air is thick and humid as it is, so when the wind picks up (moderate gale force winds, according to the weather service) it just destroys you! I miss Arizona weather!

Transfer meeting was really fun yesterday. I was able to play my violin with my zone singing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". It sounded really good and we a lot of compliments afterward. People were crying (woohoo! just kidding). 32 new missionaries came in and quite a few were 18 year old Elders and 19 year old Sisters. Next transfer even more new missionaries are coming in and 60% of the mission will be involved in the new 12 Week Training program. Speaking of music, this Sunday I will have an awesome opportunity to play my violin in a concert the mission is having in the Rockaways at the Yacht Club in Broadchannel. We are teaching the first lesson, the Restoration, through music. I will be playing "Nearer My God to Thee" with Elder Wong, an extremely talented guitar player. I am very excited for this. It will be a lot of fun! I am pretty sure President Calderwood is the narrator too.

The work has been a bit challenging lately. People have been a little harsh to us this week during our tracting. Elder McDonald and I are constantly trying to come up with knew ideas for door approaches to keep up with the hipsters here!

I am doing better and better every week. The mission is helping me in so many ways. I love it! I am so sorry this email is super short, but since I am running out of time I will get a better letter out next Monday!

Love you all!


Elder Hooper

(Here is a link to an article about the concert at the Yacht Club in Rockaway )

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 10 NYNYS (3 months)

It sure was a great week! I just want to start by thanking those who wrote and sent packages! It meant a lot to me and loved them all. I will work on writing back to you all soon.

So yesterday was probably one of the best of my life! I had the wonderful opportunity to baptize one of our investigators, Matt on Sunday. It was truly a great experience! The baptismal service went very smoothly and so did the actual baptism. Matt was so excited. Afterwards he just said he felt "so good". He said he has been waiting to feel this way for a long time. I too have never felt so clean in a long time. It felt like I was baptized too! His mom came from California to see the baptism too. She loved church and felt the spirit very strong at the baptism. I think she is very proud of her son for making a huge positive change in his life. I hope one day she will be able to have the gospel in her life and their family will be able to go to the temple one day. Having this experience, and seeing the changes in Matt's life has truly been another witness to me that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church on the Earth today, and it is His church! I also had the chance to give him a priesthood blessing and see the effect it had on his week as he prepared for his baptism. This Sunday he will receive the Holy Ghost and the following weeks he will be ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Our district is also having another baptism next Sunday for another companionship! Its has been a great week for me. I have felt the spirit testify through me as I've taught and felt it at my side when I needed it most. Our district sure is being blessed.

We had a blizzard in New York a few days ago! It was so cool! I have never seen a storm that cool in Arizona before. There was snow all over the next day so we helped shovel snow and dig out cars as well. There was probably a foot of snow where we were. Of course I made some snowballs and pelted my companion a few times.

President Calderwood has been very pleased with my district and I. My area hasn't seen much growth in the past, but we have been working very hard and have see some very positive results from our efforts. Bushwick is one of the hardest areas in the mission. We don't get the chance to do a lot of teaching. We have been working hard and the Lord is blessing us. I love this area so much and am so blessed to be in Williamsburg. We continue to see real growth here and the members are showing their trust and love for us even more each week. Transfers are coming up next week and there is a pretty good chance my companion will leave this area since he has been here for 7 months. I will most likely stay (I sure hope I stay!). I will have the chance again to play my violin with my district singing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing at transfer meeting.

The gospel is coming to life for me more than it ever has. I am seeing the Atonement's power in my life and most importantly in the lives of those we teach. I know this letter is short this week, but I am running out of time. The library is crazy busy right now since another library recently closed down for renovations. Thank you all so much for your prays and letters. They mean the world to me!

Have a great week and I will talk to you all next week!


Elder Hooper

Week 10 Pics

The Blizzard 
me, Matt, Elder McDonald
Matt's Mom
Elizabeth (introduced Matt to the gospel)
the Zone Leaders

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Week 9 NYNYS

Hey there,

This week was super busy with the branch party and such. The party was definitely a success. I am very pleased how it all turned out. The missionaries and I were there for about 4 hours before the party continuing the set up. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. The party was centered around the cultures in the branch since many people are from the Caribbean, like Barbados, St. Vincent and so on. There was a ton of delicious ethnical food and many people came as well! The branch was impressed and I felt the branch unity increase as we all got together and simply had fun with each other. It turned out really well. I wish I would have gotten pictures, but I was just too stressed about it all!

One of the best "street-sweeps" we do is the Game Night in the subway at Bedford Ave. We set up tables with some brainteasers, Jenga, and to top it all off, one of the Elders brought his mini-practice-bull roping toy. We were there playing games and roping the bull in the subway! It was a pretty funny sight and it grabbed a lot of people's attention. As we tried to get the community familiar with us and to brighten someone's day, we had a few good conversations with people and gave out a lot of cards. We also posed for a few pictures as well! Game Nights are always successful for us. People are starting to see what we are all about.

We did some service at a church in Greenpoint and helped put away all their food that they didn't use for the soup kitchen that morning. As we were taking each case of 12 canned goods down the long stairs to the basement, I saw this dolly just sitting there. Thanks to my dad's delivery experience, and me helping him often, I grabbed that dolly, loaded it up, and started a human assembly line and got us moving! It was pretty fun. We are starting to develop a really good relationship with the leaders of this church. I had an idea of having a community church night where my companion and I get a few churches involved and have a night where each religion with share a brief testimony of Jesus Christ. It wont be a night about preaching our particular religious beliefs and trying to convert people, instead it will be simply helping people come unto Jesus Christ, and give back to the community. I think this will work out really well and will help the community get to know the missionaries in a place where they are comfortable (at one of their churches). I haven't quite got all the details figured out, but I will let you know what happens with that idea in the future.

So here is the awesome news! My companion and I are having a baptism this Sunday! I won't share specifics without his permission, but he has a very strong testimony and was introduced to the gospel by a co-worker. He is very excited about receiving the priesthood later on as well. We are very excited to have him in our branch. He fits in perfectly. One thing he noticed about the church, is that the members were so loving and actually lived their religion outside of church. Being baptized members, we covenant to serve others and stand as a witness of God in all places. People really see our actions and notice something different about members of the church. We are stoked for the baptism. He is very excited and prepared himself.


Elder Hooper