Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 16 NYNYS

Hey everyone!

Happy Easter! I am very excited for this Easter week. My studies have been more focused on the ministry of Christ during the last week of His mortal ministry. I sure do love the Savior and all that He has done for all of us. I am also totally pumped for General Conference! Never before have I been more excited to hear from our Prophet. Maybe its because I am missionary, or its just because President Monson is my idol, but either way I am very excited. I am trying to reread all of last General Conference in preparation for the upcoming sessions. We will be watching it in our chapel with the other members of our branch. It will be much later than I am used to though. Priesthood session will be from 8pm to 10pm! Hopefully I can stay awake.

Anyway, it has been a great week! A little disappointing towards the end, but overall pretty good. We taught a lot last week, met with some great people, and also visited members of the branch as well. We have been in contact with some wonderful families that have expressed interest in the church and hearing more from us. I have developed such a strong love for each of these families and individuals. I have been praying and thinking about these people so much! It really hurt when one of them decided not to meet with us anymore. Never before have I felt just so disappointed. I know that what the Lord has to offer these individuals through us is so important and it brings eternal and lasting happiness. I still love them to death so hopefully we can meet up with them again soon. This experience really helped me to understand how the Savior must have felt when he was "despised and rejected of men" that he loved and served with all of His heart. He knew them, and desired so much to help them, and then he took upon Himself all of their sins and pains, then died for them. Many of them still rejected Him. I can't imagine how hard that must have been for Him.

We had a mission conference this week with Brother Drubois, Head of the Missionary Media Department (he supervises over things like and Preach My Gospel), and also Brother Watson, Head of the Missionary Proselyting Department in the church. They gave us a lot of great insights in how to improve our proselyting efforts. One thing I especially loved was this statement, which I tweaked a little. "Obedience is power. Obedience is spiritual credibility. Obedience is Repentance". They also hinted to us that our mission is going to be testing the missionary iPads!! It is so cool! They have a really cool weekly planning app that reminds you about lessons and investigators and such. We should be getting those around June. It is going to be awesome.

We had a really cool experience with a member after the conference too. We simply went over to share a quick message with the family and it turned into a really cool experience. We were taught in the conference that we should trying something I now call "prayer tracting" where we simply just ask people if they would like us to bless their home with a prayer. We then ask them what they would like to pray for and then pray, but ask the Lord to bless them under the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It has been quite successful and we have only tried it once so far. Anyway, I decided that I would try to apply this to the members we meet as well and with everyone. I asked about some of their concerns they would like me to pray for so that the closing prayer could be more meaningful. They then told me some things they needed help with and I prayed and asked the Lord to bless them and did this by stating my priesthood authority and asked for blessings. It was a really powerful prayer. Then one of the members said she felt prompted to share an experience of hers that when she told it helped her to remember some things that really boosted her spirits. We then gave her a blessing and it is juts so awesome to see the spirit working through me as I use my priesthood. The priesthood has always been important to me, but never has it been such a powerful influence in my life and something that is SO important to me. I love having the opportunity to have this authority that is after the order of the Son of God and that the Lord is willing to work through me to bless the lives of those I come in contact with.

We are doing "Music Tracting" now too! My companion and I have been preparing songs with the guitar and violin and going to houses asking if we can see them a gospel song we have put together. We start by reading a scripture that goes along with the song then see and play! It is really fun. We have only had one chance to use it, but we will keep doing it in the future.

It is going to be super busy here as transfer week begins. I will know on Saturday if I am being transferred or not. There is pretty good chance I will have a new companion since Elder McDonald and I have been together for so long and he has been in this area is whole mission. I am really looking forward to the changes as they only give me more chances to learn and grow!

Happy Easter everyone!


Elder Hooper

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 15 NYNYS

Hey everyone! Happy St. Patrick's Day last week.

This past week was a little slow. A lot of our appointments fell through, but this week is going to be very busy! We have a lot of appointments coming up and I see many blessings coming in the near future.

So stories for the week: Last Saturday, we were helping a family move out of the branch and we all got some pizza and ate at a near by park. Elder Finlinson knows a "squirrel call" that attracts the squirrels and it actually works! (He taught me this awhile ago so whenever I see squirrels I call them and they immediately stop in the tracks and look at me. It's so cool!) There were tons of squirrels in this park and we called them all over to us and fed them pizza out of our hands. It was awesome! I also did the rock and sand analogy of putting the Lord first in your life at a members home, but substituted sand for salt since you cant really find sand in the city. I had to adjust a little when the plastic container I had all the salt in broke in my backpack!

A few days before that we were going to visit a member of the branch and we didn't really know how to get their so we hopped on the L-train and went to Broadway Junction to transfer to the A-train. Since the A-train is express, it passed the stop we needed, so we had to walk 1.2 miles to get there. Then we find out that instead of the address being "55", it was actually "555". We then had to walk another 2 miles to get to the house. It was a long night. We did eventually get there and found that there was a train stop on the J-train that would have gotten us there in 5 minutes.

Elder McDonald and I have been very busy lately changing up our area. We do something called the "elliptical" where we work right around the church. We have been talking with the branch president and have decided that we should change the location of the elliptical area. The elliptical area we are in now has been good, but we really aren't seeing much growth there. It is a very difficult area and the people seem to be getting more and more resistant to us. We are shrinking our current elliptical and creating 2 other ellipticals along the J-train. So far from what I have heard from the other Elders in our district is that the new area we are moving to is very nice! People are receptive to us and are actually friendly. They have come in contact with quite a few people in only 2 days. We will have three ellipticals and we are going to do a sort of "crop cycle" so we will be in one elliptical for a while, while the other rests. I am really excited for the change. So instead of focusing on Williamsburg, we will move into Ridgewood.

I just want to give Elder McDonald, my companion, some props! He has been a great companion to me and I am very grateful for the example he has set for me. We have helped each other through our unique challenges and have been a great support for each other. I am disappointed to think that one of us will get transfered in 2 weeks since we have been together for 3 transfers and he was my trainer as well. He has been in Bushwick for 8 months and has not seen another area!

It was a more tough week for me. I was struggling the whole week and wasn't seeing any relief. I felt my testimony was lacking and because of that I was losing that "power" in my words. Thankfully I felt prompted to fast on Sunday. I have never worked harder and put more faith in the Savior than ever before. I simply did everything that I could to be obedient and work extra hard so that the Lord would help me. I am doing so much better! I have a strong testimony of fasting. I have always seen fasting work miracles in my life. It is definitely hard being a missionary, but the Lord is always by your side. I also have been directing my studies more toward the Savior, and my knowledge of Him and His gospel has been growing so much more than simply just studying a principle. The Savior is the key that opens up the door to success in all aspects of our life. If we turn our life towards Him and "learn of him.. we shall find rest unto our souls" Matt 11:28-30.

We are teaching a family of 4, and family of 3, a father and son, and a woman and her 18month old son this week! I sure do love all these people I have been coming in contact with. I feel the love the Savior has for these individuals and hope that I can help them come closer to Him! If you would like to know more about them I would love to write you a letter!

I love you all very much and am grateful for your support. We are having a lot of success here. Hope to get some letters from you throughout the week. Talk to you all next week!


Elder Hooper

Week 14 Pics

Elder Hooper as The Last Airbender

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 14 NYNYS

I will hit my 4 month mark on the 14th! Time sure does fly by.

This week went by really quick! We were very busy with various tasks and such. First off I just want to say how much I dislike Daylight Savings! Being from Arizona I have never experienced this change before. Saturday morning I wake up at the normal 6:30am with the sun nice and bright, then Sunday morning I wake up at 6:30am (which technically was 5:30am that morning) and there was no sun. My mind was so confused and I was like... what just happened!? Then I realized it was daylight savings! I was so thrown off all day. Arizona is so smart not to have adopted this.

So on Tuesday I went on an exchange with another Elder in my district and we went around our church to talk to people and invite them to tour our church building. After so much discouragement and some rude people, I was basically giving up and praying that I am just "done" with this. Then the next person I talk to comes into the church with me! We gave him a Book of Mormon and showed him the baptismal font. Then I go back outside, talked to some more people and no luck. I then got slightly discouraged again, then I talked to a couple and asked them if they would want to come tour our church building. They said they were busy since they were preparing a funeral and such. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to share the Plan of Salvation. It was a great discussion and I felt the spirit very strong and knew they also did. They are a great couple and have young son as well. It was really cool. We will hopefully be able to meet with them this week.

We were also able to meet with Edwin and his son Edwin again last week. It was a great lesson. I really love the two of them. They have very strong faith and they are doing all they can to live in accordance to the gospel of Jesus Christ and have committed to be baptized on March 31st! We also are teaching a nice Portuguese lady named Paula. She also is making progress and it is really cool seeing her faith and desire increase every time we meet with her. She is a wonderful lady and fits in perfectly with many of the other sisters in the branch.

My district is still doing very well and we have 4 baptisms coming up this month, and hopefully a few more commits coming soon. It is great to see so many people being prepared by the Lord to follow Him into the waters of baptism and make a covenant with Him!

So for our Sunday dinner, I really wanted to have a "normal Arizona" dinner, so my companion and I cooked up some pork chops, made some mashed potatoes, and had some seasoned carrots! It was a delicious Sunday feast! Along with an Arizona dinner, we have been having some Arizona like weather! It is so nice. We haven't seen the sun too much lately, but these past few days have been warm and sunny. It is so nice to once again feel the burn of the sun.

Well that is a short summary of my week. I am now off to watch "The Other Side of Heaven" with my Zone for our Zone Activity! I am excited. Talk to you next week.


Elder Hooper

Week 14 Photos

 Fun on the Subway
 One of the Church Buildings in New York
Kosher Pizza!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 13 NYNYS

Hey everybody,

This week has been pretty busy! At the beginning of the week I had a great experience in a lesson. We taught a father and his son, who were taught months previously by missionaries, but they said they couldn't get in contact with them. We found them in our area book and gave them a call. They said they would love to have us over and said they weren't sure where the other missionaries went. The son has even read the Book of Mormon and knows it is true! It was the best lesson I have ever taught. The spirit was so strong! The entire lesson was very inspired, and they both felt the spirit very strong. They both accepted the invitation to be baptized as well. I feel very blessed to have had this experience. I have never met these two men before in my life, but because God knows them and loves them perfectly, He was able to let them feel that through me. I knew what the Lord needed them to hear at that time through the Holy Ghost.

We had an awesome Zone Conference given by President Calderwood and the Assistants. President shared an analogy, about the Plan of Salvation that really got me thinking about our life here on Earth much differently than before. We all lived in heaven with God before we came to this Earth. He is literally our Father and we are His spirit children! We were taught everything that we needed know to reach our full potential and to receive the fullness of joy that God had. This is the analogy that helped me to really understand this. He said it is like you are trying to learn how to play the violin by reading a book. You can have all the knowledge you need to understand how to read the notes and where your fingers go to play them and to understand the music theory, but until you actually pick up the instrument and play it is the only way you will be able to master the art of playing the violin. There is no way that I could learn how to play with all the different bow techniques, vibrato, proper posture, and rhythm without actually practicing! This is exactly how it is for our lives. There is no way that we would have been able to take all the knowledge we gained in heaven and really understood it without a body! It was a really cool insight that I especially loved since I am a violinist. He has been using violin analogies a lot with me, I love it. I have been really studying the Plan of Salvation and it is truly and wonderful plan! It is amazing how much I am learning about it as I have been diving deep into the doctrines behind it.

As of right now, we have 4 investigators we are working with who I love very much! They are all great people and I look forward to seeing them succeed and make the church apart of their lives and seeing them experience the joy that comes from making and keeping covenants!

The rest of the week went a little slow. We spent 4 hours cleaning our church's kitchen! It hasn't had an operating sink for almost 2 months so it was bad news! At our zone conference, President Calderwood, after preparing food in the kitchen, was like you guys need to do a service project in here! Now it is shiny in there.

We have been doing a lot of fearlessing, which is simply approaching people on the streets and talking to people while they walk. We have been doing Book of Mormon street sweeps, game nights in the subway and also on the streets. We also have been trying to do church tours and invite people outside the church to come view the inside. It has definitely gotten the community familiar with us too!

The weather is finally starting to agree with me! It is starting to warm up and not be so freezing. However I believe we are going to be hit with a nice storm this week which I am not looking forward too!

I am still doing very well in New York. I sure do love it here! Hope to hear from you all soon!


Elder Hooper