Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 41 NYNYS, Two Baptismal Dates! Woohoo!

Hey everybody! Staten Island is good as usual! Our next big activities we are getting together here are a block party on our street (since a lot has been going on with us that has been getting our neighbors attention to us, including the zone leaders car accident which I will explain later), a blood drive at the church, End of Summer Movie night, and a Restoration Concert (like the one we had in Far Rockaway a few months ago). It is going to be fun!

So the beginning of the week was pretty slow for us since we didn't have our car for a few days. The Vehicle Dynamic Control and ABS light were on so we had to get a few things replaced. While this was going on we were taking public transit and begging the Zone Leaders that live below for rides every once and a while and then there car gets totaled! So then we were out of luck there. At around 8:45am while we were studying, I heard this loud crunch sound and my mind immediately goes "that sounds like two cars". I open our window and see that someone just crashed into the Zone Leader's car. I am frantically trying to get my camera to get a picture of this lady's license plate since is looked like she was trying to drive off, but then I saw her steering column snapped in half so she wasn't going anywhere! It definitely put their car out of commission. I will send a picture of their car. They now have a brand new 2013 Toyota Corolla.

Demetrio and Magdalen now have baptismal dates for September 22nd! We are excited for them and are going to do everything we can to help them prepare. They are beginning to see their faith grow and they love what we are sharing. They are currently working on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. We have watched the Restoration video twice and they like memorized half of the film. They are pure in heart and want to change! They are already calling themselves "Mormon". It is amazing how much the Lord has done for us so we would be able to effectively help them according to their exact needs. Please pray for them that they will be able to find out for themselves what we are sharing is true! This is crucial for them. I wish I could explain how important this will be for them! It is also their son Daniel's 4th birthday today. He is a really cute boy who happens to have Autism. We brought them some cake and ice cream which totally made their day.

I accompanied the Sister Missionaries again on the same song we played a few weeks ago "I Stand All Amazed" in Portuguese in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. It went really well! Everyone was very impressed. I will also be giving another musical number on the violin with Sister Jangula in the ward on the piano. We are playing the Sally DeFord/Eva Hooper arrangement for My Heavenly Father Loves Me. It is going to be nice!

Some cool news: Staten Island is apparently getting the world's largest Ferris Wheel built by the Staten Island Ferry soon. It is a $1 Billion project! Whether that is true or not, ask the old lady that told me about it.

Our ward is looking forward to having 4 baptisms this month. The Zone Leader's are having a baptism this Sunday and then the 15th! We are excited!

Time to go to Coney Island to play some Ultimate Frisbee with my Zone! Love you guys!


Elder Hooper

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Week 40 NYNYS, Life on the Little Island

Happy Monday! Everything is great on Staten! Lots of good things happened this week.

After a few weeks of just struggling, I finally felt my Heavenly Father answer my prayers. While sitting in sacrament meeting yesterday morning, I felt the spirit very strongly, and I just felt so at peace with myself and everything. I also learned that I needed to let myself fall into the arms of the Atonement, be humble and trusting toward my Heavenly Father, and show more reverence to Him. So far as I have applied this, the spirit has been much more present with me!

While we were mowing the lawn of one of the members in our ward, we got a phone call from an investigator of ours and he was wondering if we would be able to come and pray with him since he needed some extra help. We gladly accepted the invitation and then he told us why he needed the prayer. He said that he had $77 in his wallet that he was going to use to rent a lawn mower so that he could get the side of his house cleaned up so he wouldn't get in trouble with the state. He is currently unemployed and has 3 kids that he is trying to take care of so $77 so a big deal for him. I told him not to rent a lawn mower and I will give the ward a call to see if we can help. After I hung up, I was just like, well I am mowing a lawn right now and could just bring it over and do his lawn. That is exactly what we did. We emptied out the trunk and loaded up the lawn mower and weedwacker in our small compact Subaru and got his lawn taken care of. It was a joyous experience to be an answer to one of Heavenly Father's children. A funny/sketchy part of this was that the member we were doing yard work for wasn't home so I just made the judgment call and just borrowed the tools. They didn't care that I stole them anyway. There also was a member that was moving out that emptied their entire cabinet of food and gave it too all the missionaries and we got a huge bag full of organic delicious food. We knew that this family needed it more than we did, so we had the sisters take it to them. They were shocked and so thankful. We were so glad we could help them! We also met with them again last night and gave them priesthood blessings which I could definitely tell it brought them peace!

I also have never been so full in my life! We ended up having 4 dinner appointments in one day and I thought I was going to kill over and die! We were fed pizza while we helped a member move out, fed by a family we were teaching (delicious ravioli's), pizza again by another appointment we had, and then to top it off, we had some amazing Sri Lankan food from another member. I thought I was going to explode! I couldn't even walk I was so full. I am pretty sure I gained a few pounds after that too.

On Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple with the ward to do baptisms with the youth. It was really fun. I took my first ferry ride from Staten Island too Manhattan. It was so much fun. We all had a really good time! Afterwards, we went with the Spanish district in Staten Island to one of their finding activities in the park. We played Jenga, chalk, chess, checkers, football, soccer, volleyball, frisbee, and Uno with kids at the park! It was so much fun. The kids there all loved it and their parents loved it because their kids were happy. We had several potentials from it that were all solid families too! It is a great finding opportunity for us while we are having fun!

We had a lot of success at the ferry again as we did a Family History street sweep. We had the sisters there with us this time and I think that made all the difference! They are so much easier to talk to then us. To all the women that past by they were like "we like your skirt" or whatever and then they would start talking to us. If I said I like your skirt, they would just think I am a creeper haha! It was fun!

We finally were able to talk to Tsubon and Myunbo's mother! She had some questions regarding the plan of salvation so we talked about that a little bit. I sure do hope we can unite this family together and bring them all to the temple to be sealed! President Calderwood wants us to do this too!

We watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with a couple as well. It was really cool. When I bore testimony of Joseph and the Book of Mormon, there was power behind what I said. it was so cool. I saw the change in their eyes when I bore my testimony. I just love Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and know that he was a true prophet!

All is well here in Staten Island! I love it a lot and hope I never have to leave this area. Oh by the way, I went to Costco today and bought lots of muffins! Yum!

Here is link to a video of some missionaries in my mission. Its pretty cool. Sister Bradfield is a good friend of mine too:

Elder Hooper

Week 40 Pics, Staten Island Ferry, Boys from the Ward, Statue of Liberty, NY Temple

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 39 NYNYS, 9 Months in New York City

President Calderwood gave us all some awesome news! Since we, as a mission, are focusing and setting goals for the temple on everyone we are teaching, President announced that we will be able to attend a temple session every 6 months instead of at our year mark and 2 year mark. I am really excited about it, but I am so bummed that he didn't announce this before my 6 month mark! It reminds me when President Monson announced the missionary age change and I already had my mission call and was leaving the next month! I was like "man, why couldn't you have said that last conference!" Its all good though.

Our ward has an awesome system going right now! The ward mission leader created a list for the Elder's Quorum and Relief Society to sign up for one day a month to come out with the missionaries. For this month, we have someone signed up to go out with us everyday so the four of us Elders here see which member would suit best for our investigators or planned activity that day. It is working really well so far and it helps to have different members come to the appointment because it gets everyone familiar with our investigators which then helps increase fellowship when they come to church! The members are also getting excited about it too.

Elder Tuiaki and I have found 2 new investigators, one of which is the girl friend of a Less Active we have been working with and the other was a referral from the Spanish Elders, Stanli, from Poland. Stanli had many questions about the Plan of Salvation and also had many ideas that he had been researching that was completely "on" with our doctrine. He also led us straight into the Restoration too! We have so many people that we are working with, but we are struggling to set firm appointments with them all.

We have been working a lot in the southern part of Staten Island by the church and man, there are some mean people in these upper class neighborhoods! We both have been getting slightly discouraged at their remarks, but we just carry on and find someone else.

On Saturday, we went to a beautiful park called Willowbrook Park with the sisters and sang hymns for people. I accompanied everyone on the violin which was really fun! There was a spiritual wall around us. People couldn't pass by without feeling it. It was such a beautiful place to. We are going to try doing this by the Staten Island ferry this week too.

I had a pretty interesting experience a few days ago too haha! We were driving home from a meeting in Brooklyn, and we passed by this large Catholic church and there was this lady who was literally "prostrated" on the ground like the Bible says! She had her hands up on the large door and was kneeling down praying. I asked Elder Tuiaki to stop the car because I wanted to see if there was anything we could to help her and maybe be the answer to her prayer. She said that she was an RN, but gave up everything for Christ and prays in a unique way to inflict pain to her body to be closer to God. It was kind of sad that she doesn't understand the way the Atonement is supposed to work, I mean I still don't completely either, but there is absolutely no need to put abnormal strain on your body to enhance your spirituality. It was kind of a funny experience though. I wish you could have been there to just see what it looked like.

So the new shoulder bag that I got has Velcro on it and I got the idea from my Zone Leader to buy some Velcro patches to put on it. I got the coolest patches ever that go perfectly for being a missionary! One says "W.W.J.D?" and the other says "WORKING FOR GOD DOESN'T PAY MUCH, BUT HIS RETIREMENT PLAN IS OUT OF THIS WORLD!" It was just too funny not to put on my shoulder bag. So far, everyone else likes it.

Well that is all for this week. My comp and I are going into Brooklyn to play some volleyball!

Elder Hooper

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 38 NYNYS, Transfer #7 Begins

So right now I am watching my skin just turn darker shades of red. I got fried down in Coney Island today as I was playing rugby on the beach with some other missionaries. Playing with the Tongans and Hawaiians is pretty scary!

It has been a slow week for Elder Tuiaki and I. Lots of our lessons canceled and such. It is finally starting to cool down too! So for some funny stories first:

While on exchanges with my Zone Leader, we saw this homeless guy totally knocked out on a bus bench with his body all sprung out and his mouth wide open. It was the funniest thing ever! I wanted to take a picture, but that would've looked kind of bad. 

During that same day, we also ran into several really crazy people. One of them was a 50 year old really tall black man who was trying to explain to us that the Holy Bible means "He Only Loves You, Book of Instruction Before Leaving Earth". He was yelling swinging his finger at us while spit flew from his mouth. We then started to introduce him to the Book of Mormon and he pulled the Revelation card on us so then we said that God wouldn't limit His word, then the guy was like yea I totally agree that God would not limit his word to one book! We were like... exactly. Then another guy came up during that conversation saying how he believed completely in Christ, but denies God. It was just a mess! However, it was hilarious to see all the people that would walk by just staring at these crazy guys.

We have been going down to the ferry and setting up a table and doing different things like, a Family History street sweep, and also a "What Do the Mormon's Believe" street sweep. We also happened to do one street sweep there during the Staten Island carnival. We had lots of people talk to us and we had a good time, until we were told we had to leave, since we didn't pay for a permit. 

We helped a lady move out of her house last week, and she just unloaded her pantry into bags and gave everything to us! We have so many cans of food and pasta with tomato sauce. It is insane how much food we have! I didn't even buy anything for this week's groceries. I think we have a year supply so if another hurricane hits we are set!

Yesterday during fast and testimony meeting, all the members seemed to talk about missionary work and how much the missionaries in the ward mean to the members and how they want to share with their friends. It was so great to see how much the ward is ready to do missionary work. I had some inspiration to start planning around the members and stopping by for a few minutes, pray, and doing our work around them. 

Right now, the one solid family we are teaching has been having some health problems with one of their mothers in Brooklyn so we haven't been able to meet with them. We are also going to be teaching Brother Pen, Myunbo, and Tsubon's mom in the next few days too! #togetherforever. We also have still been in contact with our Sri Lankan friends and got 6 Sinhalese Book of Mormons for them. We have so many other people we are working with, but we are still trying to find the one who is ready- really ready to take the first step to unlock the full power of the Atonement.

I just want to let you all know how much I love my Heavenly Father. Through these 9 months on my mission. I have been instructed and refined by Him. I have learned lessons that have completely changed who I am (for the better of course). I know the priesthood authority has truly been restored and the true gospel was restored though God's prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Jesus Christ lives and it is only through Him that we can find lasting peace and comfort in this life. Not only does this church make logical sense to me, I just love it. It is awesome! 

Have a great week everyone!


Elder Hooper

P.S. We talked to the crazy dancing lady we saw last week :D

Week 38, Pics-This is part of the view from the Staten Island Ferry!