Monday, April 29, 2013

Week 24 NYNYS

Hey there! I had a really good week and have been learning a ton from my studies in the morning. I wish I could tell you all what I have been learning recently about the Doctrine of Christ, but it would take all my email time! Spring is officially here and the trees are so pretty here! Unfortunately for me it has been affecting my allergies (my allergy medicine is now working so its all good). Thank you so much to all who wrote me this week! It was a pleasant surprise! I will work on responding to each of you as soon as I can. (Props to my sister Kaitlyn for being the best sister ever by sending me D-Back's updates!)

So last Monday after emailing we had our zone activity which was playing some handball, ultimate frisbee, and football. It was a ton of fun. I even had an awesome diving catch for the frisbee and then ate some turf on the landing. When we were all taking a break and sitting around and playing guitar, this guy out of no where just sits down and just starts talking to us. He started making up a song that went along with one of the Elder's guitar playing and the lyrics were about how kids shouldn't be smoking weed 'cuz they are gonna get caught! Then he pulls out this radio and starts talking some strategy and undercover stuff. At first I thought he was just being weird, but I realized that he was just trying to blend in as an undercover cop as he was following these kids who were smoking weed at the park. He jumps up and starts walking to the kids and his partner popped out and arrested the kids smoking! It was awesome!

We met with a family in the branch and taught them about the Restoration through a game of Jenga! We talked about how Christ's church was established and it was represented by the Jenga tower as it is first set up. Then during the Great Apostasy after Christ was crucified and the apostles were killed, people starting taking out doctrines, or Jenga pieces, and rearranging them. Soon, the whole tower collapses! The church needed to be rebuilt and put back in it's proper form through a Restoration. Cool right? They liked it.

So we have had some interesting run-ins with people out on the street. It is so funny! This is why I love the hipster part of Brooklyn which is my area. Most of the young adults out here know who we are. First off, as we are waiting for a bus, some guys rolls his window down and yells "Go BYU!". Another guy out of his window yelled "Mormons!" and then a guy on a bike yelled some things that I shall not repeat since they were not very nice. It is pretty funny. I just love this area out her, it is so much fun!

So as we were looking up some less active members of our branch, these kids were out talking on the street an saw us and were like, are you Jehovah's Witnesses or federal agents? I said "we are the Mormon missionaries", then the kid responded sarcastically "what?"  Then I said we are CIA. He started laughing at that. I have just learned you just can't be super serious here or no one will talk to you. Of course, I still keep the dignity of my calling, but most of the time you need to be yourself and let your personality shine. No one likes a robot.

So during our weekly games in the subway, I had our "Word of Wisdom" dice out and had people give them a roll. There are two dice, one has numbers 1-6 representing amount of days, and the other says things like "No Alcohol" or no coffee for the "x" amount of days you roll. One guys was like "I knew I was going to roll alcohol!" but he actually wanted to take on the challenge. It helped me to open a good conversation and talk about what we do as missionaries, but also how we can help people overcome addictions through the Atonement. People sure did think the dice were interesting.

So my companion had a pretty fun experience Saturday night when a member took us out to eat at a really good barbeque place. While we were there, quite a few people were sneakily taking our picture with their phones (I am sure I was all over Facebook)  and lots of stares. Even some lady mumbled something and slapped my name tag as she walked by. The restaurant has many varieties of intoxicating drinks so I think most people there had plenty to drink. The food was absolutely delicious though! We did actually have another lady named Olivia come up to us and started asking questions about our church and I thought she was just trying to be annoying, but she was actually serious! So we were able to get her contact info and share a little bit about what we do.

Another cool experience was when Matt was talking about how before he was a member of the church and really following the Word of Wisdom, he had chronic stomach problems, but now that he is obeying this commandment, he has found "health in his navel". It was really cool to hear that from him!

We are still working on finding people to teach. One of our investigators, however, has really been progressing. He is only 17 and has been coming to church regularly and he says it only gets better and better each week. He is learning a ton and loves the support he is feeling. He is really wishing his dad would start coming with him. He is a really good guy. We showed him the baptismal font and there was a really strong spirit as we showed him. He was really excited and basically asked when he could be baptized. We are going to pick a date on Wednesday! He is really excited and wants to invite his grandparents to come as well.

Our investigators have been doing quite well, but please if you can pray for an investigator of ours named Teresa. She was the one I was talking about having the best Sunday ever with her family. She is having some family struggles and needs some help.

Anyway, things are as good as they always are! I sure do love serving my mission here in NY. Transfers are coming up in about 2 weeks. Hopefully I can continue to stay here in Brooklyn. There is a pretty high chance of me leaving, but I don't want to! I love my area. It is finally getting nice a warm out here, and humid too. There is no other place that I would rather be than right here!

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I will TALK to you soon!!! Ahh! I am going crazy right now just thinking about it. It has been almost 6 months since I have last heard all of your voices. Mom, without your love and support earlier in my life, I would not be the person I am today. I couldn't have done any of this missionary work with you! I love you!

You guys are awesome.

Elder Hooper

Week 24 Pic

Picture of me at an antique shop where I bought some cool hipster ties

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 23 (23 weeks :O)

I can't believe how long I have already been out on my mission! Time sure has flown by. I was just reminiscing on earlier things in life and seeing how I graduated high school a year ago and I am already on a mission- almost 1/4th of the way through. Life goes so fast!

I absolutely love the Bushwick 1st Branch. Never before have I just felt so loved and connected with an LDS congregation. They are all becoming some of my best friends (Mom, I might move out here so I can live in this branch after my mission. Just kidding I wouldn't do that too you). My companion and I had the opportunity to speak in church on Sunday on the Doctrine of Christ. It went really well (If any of you want to read it, I will send a copy of it home so ask my parents to put it on the blog). People really enjoyed our talks and we had a lot of compliments afterwards. I also had two of my investigators come to church for the first time on Sunday! I definitely made my day when I saw both Dez and Edwin there! They both really enjoyed it and it also was a nice touch to have my companion and I speak too. Edwin (17) enjoyed the Aaronic Priesthood class too. Brother Lee, who taught the class, said there was a really strong spirit in the class and they had many good testimonies that were born too. Dez said he really enjoyed just how the gospel was very personal to everyone. He liked that we all shared personal experiences which helped him relate the things that were taught to himself.

The work out in New York is still going very well. We are shifting to a lot of Less-Active work and trying to find those people who haven't been coming to church recently. It has been difficult to find them since everyone is so busy! Edwin and his dad are being taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ now and are both doing really well. Dez is a great guy and is very intelligent and is understanding all of the things we are teaching him. We are on to the commandments with him. I love how all of my investigators are becoming my best friends. I love them all individually and pray for them daily. I learn so much from them as I study and think about them. Being a missionary is just the best experience I could ever have.

We are having a Branch Temple Trip May 2nd! All of the recent converts and the youth are going as well. Since it will be Matt's first time, I get to go with him! I am so excited to go. The temple is the one thing that I miss so much. I miss being able to go whenever I wanted to do or needed to. I miss being inside and pondering and feeling so close to my Heavenly Father. I am very excited to go in two weeks.

We met with a member Mark and his wife early last week and had dinner with them. Mark is a musician and books musicians in gigs and also makes is own music. He showed us one of his songs and it was awesome! It was like indy, classical, and electronic all in one! He made all sounds and sang too. It was super cool. He has all these exotic instruments, one being a finger piano too! I wish I could have stayed there and played with all his instrument and sound equipment all day.

So on Saturday night, I asked my companion if I could see the phone for a second and he said he didn't have it. I didn't have it either so we were both like searching our bags and pockets and found nothing! Then Elder Lewis remembered that some lady bumped into him on the train and he though he pick-pocketed him! We spent the next 24 hours out of touch with our investigators and other missionaries. We went down to the office with a senior couple to get a new phone. This morning we got a text from our District Leader saying the members that we visited that night found our phone. So he didn't actually get pick pocketed! It would have been a cool story if he did :D.

Anyway, I am out of time so I apologize there isn't a lot of stories in this week's letter. We are having a zone activity in a few minutes playing football, volleyball, and handbal so I have to gol!

Thank you for those who sent letters this week!


Elder Hooper

Week 23 Pics

We have been doing Plan of Salvation street sweeps that have been very effective! We also have been drawing things like this in chalk on the busy sidewalks and subway stops: What is the purpose of life? It is pretty fun to see all the stare we get.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I love NY!! 5 Months (week 19)

I absolutely love my mission! I really hope that I can just stay this area my whole mission. It is the toughest area in the mission, but I just love it. The Branch here is amazing and the members mean so much to me. I really feel that I am getting closer and closer to each individual member in the branch, especially when a few of them express their love to me. I really appreciate that. The members are like my best friends! Elder Lewis and I had a great week! There is so much to say so I will just go down the days in order and try to get everything! The city is starting to come back a live again. Tons more people are outside and the trees are starting to blossom! It is really nice.

So to start off with a bit of funniness, we were looking up some less actives members and one of them lives in a building right on the edge of the East River and has an awesome Manhattan view! We asked the guy at the front desk how much these apartments cost and he said around $37,500 a month! So as we were walking back from this beautiful building, this (most likely intoxicated) homeless man looked at me and yelled "Mormons Rock!" then I was like "Yea!" and then we fist bumped. Coolest homeless guy ever.

At a recent street sweep, I talked to a man on the street an gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and talked about the Plan of Salvation with him. He said he would like to hear more about this so we have taught him twice now and he is really understanding everything really well. He is very intellectual person so he does a lot of thinking and pondering on what we have been talking about. It will let you all know what happens later in the future and his success. He is a really cool guy.

I had my bimonthly president's interview on Thursday last week. I sure do love President Calderwood. I know he loves and cares about me. He taught me a lot about the Doctrine of Christ and how when someone is being disobedient and not keeping commitments then they don't fully understand the doctrine of Christ. I have been doing a lot of studying lately about the Doctrine of Christ and have been learning so much! I am also speaking on this topic next Sunday in sacrament meeting too.

My joy is just full right now! I had the best Sunday of my life! On Friday, we were walking under the J train on Broadway and we walked past a woman who had a very large cart full of groceries and three 50 gallon plastic tubs that she was trying to load up and take home. I walked past her and then thought I should see if she needs any help. I turned around and asked if we could help her and she most gladly accepted! We talked with her while we walked and when we finally arrived at her house she was just so grateful for our help. Before we left I asked if it would be alright if we could leave a blessing on her home. She gladly accepted that as well. We found out that she just moved out of a shelter and was forced to leave and use her tax return on buying a new apartment within 48 hours. She has no furniture with three kids. I then prayed under the authority of the priesthood and asked the Lord for blessings for her family. She was in tears and just so grateful for our help! She asked us to come back whenever we can. She even came to church on Sunday as well! This is the cool part though. That night while I was praying for her and her family, I had a strong impression that I should ask the branch if they had any furniture that we could possibly round up for her. I asked Brother Barnes and not too long later he responded said that he was able to get a bed. Elder Lewis and I had an old couch in our apartment we never sit on so we loaded these things in Brother Barnes' truck and brought it to her house. The bed was an Ikea bed that I had before so I knew how to set it up and everything.

It was one of the best Sundays of my life. That family was so happy! They all had smiles on their faces and I was just so happy that they were so happy! It is a family of 4 Teresa, 19yr old son Devonte, 16 yr old daughter Grace (who is stoked for coming to church because she fits in so well) and Austin 2 yr old son. I also found out that someone paid Bro Barnes $50 to take the bed off their hands and he had it before I even asked him! It was awesome to see the Lord work through me. Brother Barnes, Elder Lewis, and I got along so well with this family. I love them and sure do hope they will continue to pursue the course of joining the true church of Jesus Christ and ultimately receive the blessings of the temple.

I also had the opportunity to play the organ in sacrament meeting too which was fun. We sang hymns 193, 187, and 291. It was fun. Unfortunately, they just called someone to be the organist so I can't play anymore :(.

A little insight that I have had this week: "Ye are the light of the world...". As a missionary people recognize that I am different than other people. They are watching me and looking to me as an example and judging whether or not I am an effective missionary or not. I have seen this when the lady we helped with her groceries told her story during church how she saw us pass by her then turned around to help her. She noticed our every move even though at first I didn't say anything. Two women apparently saw my companion and I talking to people on the way to church and were talking about it. A member from Utah also stopped and took a picture of us walking on the street. People are always watching. I must always be sure that I being dignified in my calling.

Anyway, I just love my mission. I love serving the Lord. I know that this is the true church. I recently got a new set of scriptures (a condensed quad to be exact) since my others got stolen and I realized how much I treasure the scriptures. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and the heavenly priesthood authority was restored through heavenly messengers. NYNYS!

I hope you all have a great week and hope to hear from you soon!


Elder Hooper

P.S. Thank you uncle Kirk for the awesome new camera. It is great! Love you!

Week 19 Pics

These pics are of my comp and I playing Games in the Bedford L train stop and playing handball by the church.

Monday, April 8, 2013

5 Months NYNYS (Week 18)

Hey Everybody!

I you enjoyed conference like I did last weekend! I absolutely loved all of Saturday's sessions. I received lots of insights on finding activities to do to help our area find more people to teach.

My new companion is Elder Kade Lewis. He is from Bear Lake, Idaho and has been serving for a year and a half. He has a lot of experience so I am looking forward to working with him. Before conference we have been doing a lot of finding activities such as "prayer tracting" (going around asking people if we could bless their home with a prayer) and street sweeps like a "Questions of the Soul" sweep where we each will have a sign that has a question and with "Ask me about it" underneath. Another idea is an Addiction Recovery street sweep for example we will have signs that say Q: "How can I overcome my __________ addiction? A: Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Ask me how." We also are thinking of doing a Family Proclamation street sweep too. People are actually quite interested in the street sweeps we do and it helps us as individual missionaries be fearless.

So for the Bushwick area, street sweeps seem to be very effective in the area right now so we are starting to incorporate those more often in our everyday finding activities. This is what our week's elliptical activities will look like: Tuesday: Games 3pm-4pm, Wednesday: Service Tracting 1-2p, Greenpoint Ref Church service 4-5pm, Thursday: BoM street sweep 3-4pm, Friday: Games 6-7p, and Saturday: Sports 11am-1pm and a Plan of Salvation street sweep 3-4pm.

On Friday we had a General Conference street sweep where my companion and I made some cards with the church's address and the conference times and went out on the streets under the Mytle-Broadway M/J train stop and told people that we are hearing from a living prophet! No one came unfortunately, but we did get 8 people's information to come and teach them more. We are actually visiting two of those people today!

My General Conference experience was great! I learned so many great things that pertained to the are that I am serving in. I also had lots of finding ideas and many other insights that are helping me become a better missionary. I wish I would have brought my notes to share a few things I learned. I do know that President Monson is a true prophet! I know that he and his counselors and other leaders are called of God. I just had this strong desire to have everyone come and hear General Conference. The people in New York really needed to hear what was shared in conference. I am really looking forward to teach others and help them know that there really is a prophet on the Earth just like Moses who parted the Red Sea and Abraham. After conference is great for missionaries out here in NY because we are now allowed to go out and proselyte without our suit coats!

I apologize that this email is so short! It was a pretty slow week as we simply did lots of finding activities and no teaching. Paula is still doing really well. She is continuing to read the Book of Mormon and loves it.

I love you all very much and look forward to hearing from you all soon!


Elder Hooper

P.S. April 14th is my 5 month mark! :D

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week 17 NYNYS - Transfer #4

I assume everyone had a great Easter! My Easter was good. I definitely did miss my family's traditions back home, but Easter in NY was fun. We had a baptism in our district as well that Sunday. We also were fed a delicious Bajan (Barbados) dinner last night.

It was definitely a difficult week for me. Lots of little things that added up. One thing in particular was my backpack being stolen! It was kind of my fault, but we were getting Mei Wei (Chinese food) by the church and I left my backpack there for about 20min. I went to go back a get it and it was gone. The workers there had no idea about any of it so it was obviously taken. My scriptures were in there, my camera, and lots of other little things that I used frequently. Thankfully it all can be replaced and nothing too valuable. It was just a disappointing. All these experiences are only for my good! I will be able to laugh at this experience 10 years down the road, and now I have an excuse to buy the 2013 edition to the scriptures in August.

I will begin my fourth transfer tomorrow! Elder McDonald is getting transferred so I will be getting a new companion. Elder McDonald was a great first companion and I am very grateful for all his help and love he showed to me. He helped me to know what being a good companion is all about. I will miss him, but I am really looking forward to a bit of change and new experiences.

I had a cool experience with a man at a park last week. His name is Ariel. I was sitting on a bench reading the Ensign, and I looked over and saw Ariel and had this thought that I needed to go talk to him. Immediately, my mind was saying nah you can just finish this article instead, but I listened to the prompting anyway and went and talked to him. I saw that he was crying and was able to talk to him about what was bothering him. I found out that when I had the prompting to go talk to him, he was praying to God asking for help. It was really cool to see the Lord use me to answer one of his child's prayers. I felt so uplifted after that as I was able to live up to my baptismal covenant, by "mourning with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort".

Paula, and investigator of mine, is doing so well! She is already almost finished with 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon! I am proud of her desire for learning so much so quickly! We did get dropped by another family unfortunately. It has been upsetting to see another family not choose to act on our message, but I am only doing the best I can and doing what the Savior would do. Everyone has their agency and God chooses to honor it as well.

Oh yea, my landlord is the coolest guy ever! He came to our apartment this morning too see some things that he needs to get fixed and he saw that we had junky study chairs so he was like, "I am going to get you guys some matching chairs". Then 20 minutes later he calls us and says he is coming to our apartment in 10 minutes. He came with 2 brand new Staples office chairs that are super nice and comfortable. They are easily over $100 chairs. He is so cool!

I am sorry this is so short, but I am pressed for time this P-Day. It has been really busy since Elder McDonald has been packing and such! I am now going to woop on the other missionaries at ping pong!

Love you all!

Elder Hooper