Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 37, Stylin' Staten

Elder Tuiaki and I had a great week! We have found more people to teach and lots of good potentials. So to start off, I want to share a really funny story. you really had to be there, but I will try to tell it anyway. So in the morning when we were heading to an appointment, there was this lady on the side of the road next to her car with all the doors open and she was wearing this tan colored dress and she was just dancing like crazy! It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. This bus driver that was turning in front of us also was laughing at it. So we drove on the same street hours later, and there she is, still dancing! It was over 3 hours later. It was so funny.

Anyway, last Saturday night, we went to go and visit a less-active member, but we didn't have an apartment number so we decided to just knock some doors around the area anyway. The second door we knock on a couple opened the door and immediately let us in. They were saying that right that second they were talking about religion. They have had some difficult circumstances in the past few months and they have a strong desire to change their lives and set a better example for their children. We talked with them about the basics of our doctrine and they fell in love with it. They said this "my new church". They also came to church and loved it as well. They were taking the initiative to get to know the members too! There was a great spirit present as we taught them too. We talked about repentance and prophets and the Plan of Salvation. They loved it.

We had two of our Sri Lankan friends come to church as well. They also enjoyed it and we had a chance to teach them too. We are seeing a lot of success here. I think the next transfer (which ends next week) will have a few baptisms too. Staten Island is great!

We still have been going down to the Staten Island Ferry a lot to go and talk to people. That seems to be working the best for us.

The Lord has been blessing us with many people to teach, which has been a little scary, because that means I need to make sure that I am doing everything I can to have the spirit with me so I can live up to the potential that my Heavenly Father expects of me here in this area.

I am so sorry this is short. I keep forgetting to bring my journal with me. All the days feel like a blur and I forget everything. I absolutely love serving here in Staten Island. I promise I will send a better detailed letter next week I promise!

Elder Hooper

Week 37 Pics

 At the Yankees Baseball Game
This was taken up in Queens while I
was driving on the BQE to go to the mission office. 

Tsubon and Myunbo's Baptism

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week 36 NYNYS

We went to a Staten Island Yankee (Minor League Baseball) game in the morning of our P-Day which was a lot of fun. Of course I watched the umpires again and they were pretty good! We almost had a ball hit too us to. We then played some volleyball in Brooklyn with some other missionaries and yes, I dominated.

Anyway, we had a baptism on Sunday! Tsubon and Myunbo were baptized and confirmed members of the church. Their dad baptized them and then I confirmed Tsubon and my companion confirmed Myunbo. It was a great baptismal service. Tsubon played Teach Me to Walk in the Light as the musical number and only played the top hand a nd made a few mistakes, but it was good. I guess he had to redeem himself when he asked to play one more musical number at the end and he played the Fur Elise perfectly!

We also taught a Sri Lankan family that I found by the ferry and they have no Christian background and were Buddhist. We and the sister missionaries have been tag team teaching them since Chooti has his wife and two daughters. It has been going very well. Chooti has been calling us and asking when we can come which has been exciting and it is keeping us on our toes. I think they don't completely understand everything that they are learning, but I can tell they feel the spirit and want to do what we ask them too. I could tell in their eyes that when we taught them to pray and asked them to pray to find out for themselves if God was really there and if Jesus Christ really was the Savior, they felt the spirit telling them that that was something they should do. They are great! Chooti even came to church as well and really enjoyed it!

We also have been in contact with several people from Sri Lanka that are genuinely interested in the gospel. They are even referring their friends to us too! People from Sri Lanka are such warm and kind people.

So as we were driving to the library we got into a small accident. All of the cars stopped suddenly and the guy behind me slammed into the back my companion and I. It was a pretty hard hit and scared me to death! The guy that hit me just drove off and I was like... nope! So I pretended I was in fast a furious and chased him down (it wasn't really that crazy though). The car is totally fine and we are too except I jammed my thumb really bad on the steering wheel and now I can't move it, but I should be alright in a few days. It was an interesting experience that I do not want to have again. I am going to drive even more cautiously to try and prevent that from happening again.

It has been extremely hot over here. It has been in the low 100's and high 90's with insanely high humidity. You walk outside and you are immediately drenched in sweat. It is awful. So humid that we can't even see Manhattan anymore.

So many good things are happening in Staten Island! Elder Tuiaki and I have already hit our transfer and 3 month goal for baptisms and we are hitting almost every goal for lessons and such and there is still so much to do and so many other routes that are open for us to take.

I know that there is not a lot of details of the more important things. I forgot my journal and I have to cram this email in since today is not my P-Day. I will send pics of the baptism next week!

Elder Hooper

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 35 NYNYS, Staten Island- the best area in the mission...

Everything is great in Staten Island. We are seeing such positive results here! It gets better and better every week. The week before was a little difficult, but this week was great!

Our mission loves Elder Tuiaki and I and provided us with an extra A/C so now we can survive in our apartment! It was getting unbearable.

Early in the week, we visited the Fernando family from Sri Lanka. Sister Fernando made Curry Chicken, and oh man, it was the best food I have ever eaten in my life! She also made this awesome noodle dish that was amazing. They are the coolest family ever. We had a great time with them. I am so glad that we had a chance to get to know them, because lately we have been coming in contact with many people from Sri Lanka. One, we are meeting tomorrow with Bro Fernando, and the other is trying to find a new job just so he can meet with us and come to church on Sunday! People from Sri Lanka are so warm and welcoming.

There is this beautiful place by the St. George Staten Island Ferry that has a wonderful view of the water, Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey that many people come and sit while they wait for the ferry. Most people are sitting quietly and thinking and we simply say hi and start a conversation. We have met some great people there that are very interested in what we have and are being prepared to hear as well.

On Saturday we had our ward Cultural Party which was a blast. It went very well and there was tons of food from many different countries (these are my favorite parties, because all the left over food comes to the missionaries, and it is a buffet). There was one kid that could do the Gangnam Style dance perfectly. It was hilarious.

The baptism that we were planning on having yesterday, didn't happen this Sunday. We did not feel quite comfortable having the baptism then because we have a few more things to go over with them and we didn't to rush them. They are really excited and ready for baptism this Sunday. I feel that pushing the baptism back will help them have a much more memorable experience. Yesterday, the other Elders had a baptism too that I filled in for the musical number on the violin and played the piano as well. I played a medley of He Sent His Son, Baptism, and When Jesus Christ Was Baptized. It went well and the baptism was nice.

Following the baptism, we went to the Ferry to go talk to people. We walked down and ran into the Lettoerle family and they asked us if we wanted to go meet their upstairs neighbor they talked to about the gospel and wanted to meet us. I was like of course we do! Him and his daughter are definitely ready for the gospel. We talked about the Restoration and and watched the 30 min movie on it as well and they loved it. They also said they would be willing to be baptized. They have had a very tough life and really want to follow God and keep His commandments.

Staten Island is great! I really love it out here. Everything is going well. Thank you so much for those who wrote me this week. I will work on writing you back today. Time for our zone activity- volleyball (YES!) and ping pong at the chapel in Dyker Heights!

Elder Hooper
p.s. I have been out for 8 months now.

Week 35 NYNYS Pics

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 34 NYNYS, Hot, Humid, Rainy, Beautiful Staten Island.

It has been insanely hot this week! Our apartment has also been 86 degrees since we only have one weak A/C unit in a big apartment (I took pictures, but this library's operating system will not allow me to upload pictures!). I went and bought a heavy duty floor fan because I was dying. The only place we can escape the heat is in our car!

This is a picture I got from the internet of the Verrazano Bridge that I have driven over a few times going into the rest of my mission. This bridge is all that connects us to any part of NY! I am surprised Staten Island is not part of New Jersey. When you drive over the Verrazano Bridge you have an awesome view of the ocean and all of Brooklyn and Manhattan. It is incredible! I wish I could just drive back and forth on it all day because it is so cool.

It has been an insane week! We have had lots of lessons and reached all of our goals and plus some. Tsubon (13) and Myunbo (11) are being baptized this Sunday by their Dad! We will be teaching them a few more times this week. We taught them a watered-down version of the Plan of Salvation and we realized that they need to be taught more detailed lessons when they started asking questions like: what happens to us after we go to the Celestial kingdom, and what happens to the "Pre-Earth heaven" when we go to the "Celestial Kingdom heaven", etc. The member that was teaching with us was even surprised. They are super smart young men. They are really excited to be baptized as well.

We had a crazy experience last night when we were knocking on doors. We knocked on one door and this older man opens the door and he is wearing a leopard print Speedo (sorry for the mental picture) and says "you have some nerve knocking on my door this early in the morning (by the way it was 6:30pm at this point) get out of here!" and slammed the door. There was some swearing intermixed in there as well. It was pretty humorous at the end of the night. Thought I would share this odd experience with you.

So this week has just been a bit difficult for me, I mean seeing an old man in a Speedo, how could it not have been! Just kidding. There has been a lot of pressure on my shoulders this week. Trying to figure out investigators' needs, understanding their concerns asap to know how I can help them, and trying to help my companion who has a hard time understanding English, etc.

I had an interesting experience as I was praying this morning. As soon as I started to pray, I had this uncomfortable, confusing feeling come over me. My mind was racing trying to understand why I was feeling this way. I remembered past experiences and know this is not how the Lord works. His Spirit speaks joy, peace, love, and godly sorrow/chastisement when we sin, that leads us to repent and this spirit I was feeling was not like any of these I have felt before. I also remembered the scripture in D&C 50:31 “Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.”. I asked God if this spirit was from him and if it was, to let me feel it again. It left and didn't come back. I knew that the adversary has been playing with all this pressure on me and trying to bring me down. There is so much work to do in this area of my mission!

I have been teaching Elder Tuiaki English in the mornings during our language studies. It is pretty fun. I also have been watching the church videos in ASL so I can understand what it is like teaching yourself a language, I am picking up more ASL and I can help my companion learn English. He is very dedicated and works very hard. He is so funny. He says the funniest things that can be a bit racist sometimes since he doesn't really understand what he is saying! He makes me crack up in the car all the time when he tries to mimic accents!

Well I hope you are all doing well and enjoy your week this week! I love you. Thank you Grandma Hooper, my family and Elder Buckley for your letters! They mean a lot to me!

Love from Staten Island,

Elder Hooper

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 33 NYNYS - Transfered to Staten Island

Loving the new area!

Hello everybody! It has been a busy and exciting week! I have been transferred to Staten Island! I absolutely love it out here so far. I like it even more than Brooklyn. I didn't have time to take pictures this morning of the apartment and area and such since we helped a family move early this morning. I will send some pictures next week! My companion is Elder Tuiaki from Tonga! He has been out for 1 year and 2 months and is still learning English. There is a slight communication barrier, but I love this guy a lot. He is a very warm and friendly guy.

I get to also drive a car! I am driving a 2011 Subaru Impreza. When I first got here, the previous missionary was trying to change the tire and snapped one of the wheel studs off the tire and stripped the lug nut. Instead of loosening the lug nuts in a star pattern, he just went in a circle and the pressure and weight of the car just snapped it. I had to snap another one off and one of the lug nuts was impossible to remove. The first 2 days here were just spent on getting our car fixed, calling pep boys, calling the dealership, and calling the mission office. He ended up having to get the car towed and had to buy the parts from the dealership! Ahh crazy stuff! Now it’s working, but we still have to get another wheel stud and nut since pep boys had to break another one off. The AC works great though!

I am serving in the Staten Island 1st Ward. It is such a strong ward and functions very well too! The members are very supportive and love the missionaries. Our district is one of the most obedient in the mission. We all work hard and follow the white hand book with exactness. It is so nice when everyone is working hard and being obedient. It makes us all more unified and have the spirit and also it strengthens the trust with the members and with the missionaries. Our apartment is huge! It is twice the size of my last apartment. It is so nice. We live right above the zone leaders. Oh yea, my companion is also the district leader. We have 3 Sisters who are in a trio and just us 4 Elders. We have the best missionaries in the mission here in Staten. I got to make sure I keep up with them haha!

We had a really cool experience last night too! We were looking up some less-active people and we went to go visit Hilda and Larry's family. Hilda was baptized 3 years ago and Larry and the family (Chris 22, Dominik and Helen about 12) are not members. We knocked on the door and they were very warm and welcoming and said we should come back since Larry was still recovering from surgery and Hilda wasn't feeling well. We set a date and time and we left. As I was walking back to the car and about to get in, I had the distinct impression to go back and leave a blessing on their home. I turned to Elder Tuiaki and told him what I felt and we both were kind of like, "that is going to be kind of odd to go back", but we went anyway. They accepted to prayer and really felt the spirit. We ended up talking for 2 hours! They are such a great family and Hilda has many gifts of the spirit as well.

As we were tracting, we met this Byzantine Orthodox that was slightly apostate and was so offended and didn't understand how I could have received a witness about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I was getting so frustrated and I was like "you know, we aren't going to come to any agreement so we have to leave, and I just walked away". He wouldn't let us go, but I was like I am out of here haha!

Everything is great! I absolutely love Staten! I being much more fearless and working harder than I have in a while. I was getting really tired of doing the same things everyday in the same small area for 7 months!

I pray that all of you are doing well! Talk to you guys next week!

Elder Hooper

My New Address:

417 Westervelt Ave Apt 2
Staten Island, NY 10301

Week 33, NYNYS Pics - The New Place, Staten Island, NY

My New Apartment