Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Week 28 (or something like that) in NYNYS

So we went to a Mets game last week! It was soooo fun! Man I forgot how much I miss being an umpire. I took so many pictures of the umpires. Everyone that went thought I was joking that all I have been doing is watching the umpires, but I was totally serious. It was fun and the weather was great. The Mets lost, but its ok because they aren't the D-Backs (even though I am pretty sure they lost to the Rockies that day). I got a free shirt and an $18 dollar cheeseburger meal (definitely not worth it. That could have payed for my tip at Peter Luger's Steak House).

It was raining a ton early in the week which made it really difficult to proselyte. When it rains here it pours and the rain drops aren't like the small Arizona drops, they are the size of quarters! If you stand outside for 2 seconds you are instantly soaked. It always seems to rain unexpectedly when your umbrella is tucked away in your backpack. Mother nature I guess just feels likes its hilarious to say, "Oh look, Elder Hooper and his companion look a little hot, I will just pour out everything I got on them, hahaha!". It makes the day fun though!

Dez now has a baptismal date for June 8th! We are super excited for him! He prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and he said that he received an answer that it was! We discussed with him what that answer means and he asked us what the next step for him was so we talked about baptism. He looked at me with a smirk on his face and said most enthusiastically, "Lets do it!". I wanted to jump out of my chair and start jumping for joy when he said that. I was just like oh my goodness. We set a date with him and he is still really enjoying church and meeting with us. He is such a good person. He is super smart too. He isn't just someone that I have been teaching, but he is my friend. I am grateful for the priesthood that allows us to preform these ordinances under the proper authority. Through the priesthood and modern revelation, we truly have the keys to unlock the Atonement's full power- the power it was always meant to have.

Sunday was insane. Two hours before church started. The branch presidency calls us and asks if we were called to give talks during sacrament meeting. I responded no, but we would be willing to speak if they needed us. Apparently we were supposed to have been asked, but weren't and they needed us to speak. So we prepared talks and a musical number in an hour! On top of that I was asked to play the organ since the organist was out of town, and I was also going to be teaching sharing time in primary for the kids too! I was going crazy during church, but it was a lot of fun. My talk and musical number went well. I spoke about how much power us Latter-Day Saints have as we are worthy covenant keepers and shouldn't be afraid of challenges or sharing the gospel, because we have the promise that the spirit will always be with us as we obey and for those that have made temple covenants have been endowed with power from on high and for those that hold the priesthood have a form of godliness within them. It was really good. Elder Kang (piano) and I (violin) played We Thank Thee O' God For a Prophet. It went well! Sharing time was about prophets and I tied in my big 6 foot print of Goliath and we threw things at him (the kids loved it!). I was also asked by Matt, the first person I baptized, to confer upon him the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordain him an Elder during our priesthood meeting. The stake representatives were there and I had the wonderful privilege to ordain him! HE was my first baptism and now first priesthood ordination. It was a cool experience for me. I feel very blessed to have that opportunity since most missionaries don't get the opportunity to do that.

I am running out of time today. I have to head to my district meeting now. Everything is going well and I am continuing to work hard and find other people to teach. I hope you are all doing well. Love you guys!

Elder Hooper

Week 28 Pics - Mets Game

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week 27 NYNYS

Hey Everybody! I am going to a NY Mets game on Wednesday with my zone! I am so excited.

We had another slow week. We are struggling to find people to teach. We have one progressing investigator, Dez, who is still doing really well! We have been teaching him in a members home lately and the lessons go so much better since the environment is a more spiritual nature and the member is also more comfortable and in charge. It has been a very big part of our teaching. Our last lesson with him was awesome! I really tried to listen to the spirit as I was teaching him. I had so many inspiring thoughts that he needed. I felt like the sons of Mosiah knowing the thoughts the people they were teaching. He was saying that he thinks the Book of Mormon is true logically. I had a distinct thought that he needed to pray about the BoM and he will receive and answer from God. Right before I was going to tell him this, he then said that he hadn't prayed yet. I knew that the Lord was inspiring me for him. He also asked if we could possibly pray as a group and ask if the BoM is true and right before he said that I felt impressed that that is what we should do too! It was incredible. There were multiple other impressions that I felt for him too. It was really cool to be the Lord's instrument at that time.

Lately we have been doing a lot of fun activities in the community since we are trying to "bring the church out of obscurity" and become a community church. We now have weekly Family Fun Nights where we will play lots of boardgames and ping pong and such one Thursday and the next have a Movie Night and watch Disney movies (now approved for us woohoo!). As a district we went out along the streets of the church and cleaned up all the garbage (there was a ton! NY is filthy) and many people actually stopped us and asked why we were doing this. We also have been writing a lot of Questions of the Soul in chalk on the ground. We chalked half of the side walk along many busy train stops. My companion also came up with a really cool idea to play Jeopardy on the streets. We came up with a bunch of bible questions and created a Jeopardy game on the big rolling chalkboard in the church. People really liked it and it opened up good gospel discussions. We also played games, chess, checkers, and Connect 4 at the train stations too. There was one lady that came to play who had a snake wrapped around her neck! Freaked me out man! Also had a slight bible bash with a man that was trying to prove to me that marriage ends no matter what, it was fun!

We had an awesome Mega Zone Conference last Saturday with Elder Koelliker of the First Quorum of the Seventy. I could definitely feel his General Authority mantle as I shook his hand. He is a really smart guy. He talked a lot about the temple and how it is our responsibility to make sure that our recent converts get there. Here are a few quotes I liked: "Don't trifle with sacred things", "Will you walk with me" (this one was my personal favorite). He talked a lot about how important it is for us to teach our investigators how to properly pray. If they don't have a connection with God, they are never going to know for themselves the truth and be able to withstand the evil influences that will come as Satan tries to deceive them from the path.

We also had Stake Conference on Sunday which was excellent! Just what we needed to hear.

It has been a pretty good week! Elder Lewis and I fasted on Sunday to gain a stronger desire to find people and also to be able to find someone. So far we have already set up two lessons and got a referral. We are doing the best that we can to find people to teach and to serve.

So a little side note, my district has been into a card game called Magic. They have a big Magic card store by the church and I am hooked on it! It is so much fun! I feel like a total nerd, but it is so fun. On our spare time we play and make new decks. :P

I am doing very well! Still loving my area and pulling strong. I hope to hear from you this week! Love you guys.

Elder Hooper
NYNYS 2012-14

Week 27 Pics

Some of the soda we drank at my district's P-Day party!

Monday, May 13, 2013

WEEK 26, 6 Months! 1/4 of the way through

Tomorrow I hit my 6 month mark! Time sure has flown by. I am not getting transferred, so I will stay put right here in Williamsburg/Greenpoint for another 6 weeks. This transfer is going to be a lot of fun as we are going to get a Movie Night with the branch and watch 17 Miracles since many of them haven't seen it, get a Music Night going (idea courtesy of Grandma Eva Hooper), and hopefully some more activities with the branch so we can work with the members some more and also give them opportunities to invite their friends to fun activities!

Skyping home yesterday was a blast! It was so fun to see all of your faces! I miss you all soooo much. You are a huge inspiration to me as I go through difficult days. I thought I would get homesick after skyping, but it only made me want to work even harder to have you guys be that much more proud of me! I am already counting down the days until Christmas so we can skype again. By the way, Happy Mother's Day mom I didn't even tell you! By the way, it is getting so hot here! It really isn't that hot, but it is just so humid. I am not used to not having anything dry and always be wet. We played basketball on Saturday and I was sweating like CRAZY and it never dried! Eww!

This week was pretty tough for my companion and I. People seemed to be really harsh and rude this week and I am not sure why. We did many activities like playing games in the Subway, street sweeps, lots and lots of street contacting and doing everything else to find someone to teach. Something new my zone is doing is keeping track of how many people we invite to church. President Calderwood promised us that if we would invite 10 people to church a week, we will always have a new investigator at church. I was 6 short at 64 invites last week. It is actually pretty tough to invite that many people to church. I really had to push myself to hit that. There was one day specifically, that Elder Lewis and I were just super discouraged during a difficult proselyting day as nothing was working. We knelt down in prayer and I prayed aloud a very heartfelt prayer and basically just poured out everything we were feeling to God. Afterwards, both of us felt uplifted and our burden that we had was lifted. It was really nice to feel Heavenly Father helping us carry our load that day.

I had a really cool experience a few days ago with a man in the street. This man, named Talvin, came up to us and respectfully shook our hands and gave us a warm smile and made a funny noise and started to walk away. The noise that came out of his mouth sounded like one deaf people unconsciously make, so I turned around and asked if he was deaf in sign language. His face just lit up and he excitedly signed that he was! He was so happy that I was one of millions of people that actually understood him. I was able to get his information and pass it along to Elder Wilson and DeCreshendo, the ASL Elders. I pondered on that experience that night and it made me realize how similar this experience is to our relationship with the Savior. Out of all the people in the world He is the only one that "really" understands. He is the one who "really" loves us. I had the chance to be in the Savior's shoes when I turned to that deaf man Talvin. I have been having a lot of opportunities to use my ASL out here and I love it!

We had a lesson with an investigator of ours who I love! He is a super cool guy. He is the really intelligent one I have been writing about lately. We read the Book of Mormon with him about King Lamoni's father who was asking Aaron lots of questions regarding God. We related this story to our friend and helped him see how the BoM can come to life for him. Being led by the spirit, I was able to ask some really good questions that helped us to see what he was looking for regarding religion and what he has been thinking and feeling. We found out that he has been meeting with other religions too, to research his theory about Evolution and how religion can basically enhance his understanding. He says he actually likes what we are teaching and thinks that the Book of Mormon is true! I learn so much when we teach him. I teaches us with his thought at answers to questions and also by the questions he asks us! I wish you could meet him! He also came to church again too.

We also have been meeting with a less-active member and have set some goals with him. We have been going walking with him and helping him reach goals and developing a really good relationship with him to help him feel comfortable with the church again.

So for Mother's Day, we made some super cool homemade flowers and vases for the women in the Branch. They loved it. I will send some pictures of what they looked like. The vases were made from pass-along cards.

I am really looking forward to this next transfer and the success we will have. We have two investigators that will most likely be baptized within these 6 weeks. I love my mission and everything about it. I love the people here, even the hipsters and the ones that always come up to us and say blasphemous things (those ones are especially fun!!!)

I do have to get going now! I love you all so much and look forward to writing to you next week. I will work on getting pictures too.


Elder Hooper

Week 26 Pics

Grimaldi's Pizza at the Brooklyn Bridge 
 The Brooklyn Bridge

So for Mother's Day, we made some super cool homemade flowers and vases for the women in the Branch. They loved it. The vases were made from pass-along cards.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week 25 NYNYS

We went to the temple on Thursday! It was so nice to be there! I really miss going to the temple whenever I felt like going. The temple is probably the one thing I really miss from home, besides my family of course! All the missionaries in our district went with all of the recent converts we have taught and also a few others from the branch. It was a blast! I was able to perform the baptisms and do the confirmations for many of them which was a blast. I love participating in these ordinances for the dead. It was one of my favorite things to do. Before going to the temple, I just felt so overwhelmed with a lot of things that my companion and I needed to take care of, but once inside the temple, I had no worries at all. I just felt at peace and happier than ever! Even Matt said that he was worrying about work before he came and he said that inside he wasn't worries about anything! I really hope to be able to go again soon!

It has been a rather slow week for us! We were only able to teach one lesson and we usually average around 3 lessons per week. We did however have a baptism that we went to for a young woman in the branch. She has been waiting for four years to be baptized since she didn't parent approval. It was one a of the best baptismal services I have been to. There was such a strong spirit present and her parents were both there to support her (her mom is a member, but her dad is not). A lot of her family members came who are not members. At the baptism I had the chance to play my violin with Shushig singing (the sister of the girl getting baptized) and Elder Kang accompanying us on the piano of I Know That My Redeemer Lives. It was a really powerful song!

So I have a new Family Home Evening idea that I think you will all enjoy! Elder Lewis and I were trying to find something fun for a family of the branch that we were going to have dinner with that night. My companion had a FHE book that his mom sent him and we found this awesome picture of Goliath. You talk about the story of David and Goliath and then think of some of the Goliaths that you and your family have. Then on your big blown up picture of Goliath you tape on struggles to him and crumble up some paper and make balls and slay the Goliath on the wall! It is so much fun! We went to Staples and had a really big Goliath printed for us. It was pretty fun and it helped us talk about some ways we can overcome our Goliaths on a more serious note beforehand.

I also had the privilege of playing my violin in sacrament meeting on Sunday. I made an arrangement of Love One Another and Love at Home. It was really good! Everyone really enjoyed it and it brought in a special spirit to the fast and testimony meeting. We had a young woman named Lia and her son come to church with us as well. Her son was pretty nervous so before we went into the first meeting, we took them on a tour of the church to help calm her son down. We went into the primary room/baptismal font room and she was saying how she just feels so peaceful in this church! She really enjoyed church and said she would be back next week.

I really enjoy being here! Many people out here think I am crazy for loving it so much since I am really poor and work 16 hour days everyday and can't even go out into the city! This work is so rewarding and really fun! I am starting to enjoy talking with people along the street and enjoying their company as I introduce them to the gospel message. I know this is short again this week, but it was a pretty slow week with not a lot of details!

I love you all so much! I have go since I am headed to Downtown Brooklyn to go eat at Grimaldi's Pizza and see the Brooklyn Bridge (I know, poor me :D).

Mom, Dad, Kaitlyn, Connor, Jenna, Alex guess what! I will be Skyping you guys on Sunday! "See" you then.


Elder Hooper