Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 46, General Conference, Families, and more!

Hey there! We had a pretty good week! Lots of good things coming forth. I am so excited for General Conference. It is a holiday in my eyes since for once, instead of me teaching, I finally get to relax and be taught myself. We are hoping to bring as many people as possible to GC (I mean... who wouldn't be converted after hearing President Monson and Elder Holland?).

We have been coming in contact with families! We have been praying endlessly to find families to teach. One family, Ava and Glen, we met while we were in the park playing sports a month or so ago has been reading the Book of Mormon on their own without us even inviting them to do so. They are a really cool family and are quite knowledgeable with the Bible. Elder Tuiaki and I both love them very much. They even made some delicious Filipino food for us which was amazing! We also have been in contact with a family of 5 that have lived in Staten Island for a very long time. The mom has been a member her whole life and the others are not. The two sons 17yrs, 15yrs, and daughter 13yr, are amazing kids They are unusual for NY. They are loving, obedient, and have really good spirits about them. Most teenagers out here are the opposite unfortunately. There are a few other families that we have been working with as well and it makes me so happy. I know how much the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith can help them so much! Having the priesthood in their homes and true knowledge of their Father in Heaven and Savior will bring peace and comfort they have never imagined. The Vasquez family with baptismal dates for October 13th are still working on preparing themselves. The date is coming pretty quick and we are still working with them. There may be a chance of pushing the date back which there is no problem with whatsoever.

We have sang in the ferry again on Friday and it was very successful besides the man that was swearing up a storm at us. We aren't sure what exactly happened, but he approached the table we had set-up and something triggered his PTSD from the wars he fought in Vietnam and he just flipped out. While we are singing there is such a unique spiritual bubble that surrounds us and once that man started in rant, it popped. We all felt the spirit leave and it was difficult to get back. The MTA Police came and made him leave and it was all well after that. My poor companion took the brunt of it. It was actually quite funny. My companion, being a big Tongan, was shooing him away because he was getting in his face and I am sure he was ready to take him down if he needed to. Elder Tuiaki is a big guy (you should see him bench in the mornings haha).

We had an activity called Operation Shepherd down in Midwood, Brooklyn. The 76 missionaries in the Brooklyn Stake all gather together in this area in Brooklyn and visited all 700 of the Less-Active members who the ward had little to no information. I was paired with my trainer from 6 months ago, elder McDonald which was so much fun! I love him a ton and it was cool to see how much we both have grown. We found a lot of people together as well. We gave one lady a blessing, found a family that is being prepared (funny story about this too. I called this family asking for a Timothy. And the lady on the phone says, "um... that is my two year old son. Who are you?" I was just like, oh man, this is awkward. I explained who I was and such. Then during this activity we knocked on their door and had a fun laugh at it all and found out that since their kids were blessed in Germany at the Grandparents ward, the church has their records. They even had the blessing certificate framed on their wall)!

Well all is well in Staten Island. I wish I could write some more, but Elder Tuiaki and I are going to Queens to play some volleyball! Talk to you all next week. Have a wonderful General Conference weekend.

Elder Hooper

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 45, Staten Island Weekly

Hello! We had a much better week than last week!

Elder Tuiaki and I had a blast with the ward members in New Jersey. We got permission to go to the apple picking activity in Morristown, NJ. Our good friend Ron, who is a member we have been working with, drove us there and we picked lots of apples, 8 lbs to be exact. They are amazing apples! I have never had such a fresh juicy apple. It was really fun to get to know the members some more too. The Bishop and his wife said they enjoy having us apart of the ward family and we are very glad we got permission to go. Now I can say I have been to New Jersey :D.

My musical number went well in transfer meeting on Tuesday. Everybody loved it, especially the faster part towards the end. President Calderwood made a push on all of us to be more obedient to the small things as we are going to be authorized to use Facebook next week and and get iPad Minis the beginning of October. He really wants us to use these tools wisely. I have seen some real blessings and joy come from finding small things and being obedient to them.

On Wednesday after a Zone meeting we had in Dyker Heights, we went down 8 Av and 61st and blitzed the whole intersection with all 26 missionaries and handed out Free English class card for the Chinese people. It was so much fun. The white man spelling of Free English class is: "Me-un-fay eeng one bonn'. As everyone walked by that is what I would say, well try to say anyway, and hand out cards. My companion spent 8 months of his mission around China Town, so he actually speaks some Chinese and the Chinese people thought it was hilarious that there was this big Tongan guy speaking Chinese to everyone. They all gladly took his cards haha!

We had a really good lesson with Demetrio and Magdalen again. We committed them to baptism on the 13th of October. This is a more solid date and they really feel that this is what the spirit has told them to do. They are still telling all their friends they are Mormon now and are progressing towards this day. They also came to church again for the last 2 hours. They are having a difficult time getting to sacrament meeting on time, but we are just glad to have them there. Please pray for them specifically for strength to overcome some addictions they have and for their financial well being. I love this family a lot.

On splits with Bishop, I taught our Seventh-Day Adventist friend again. The lesson went well at the end and there was a really strong spirit as I bore my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith that reaffirmed my faith that he was really a prophet of God. I truly believe he was. He called us the next day and unfortunately dropped us. He just can not accept the Sabbath day being on Sunday when the Bible specifically says on the seventh day. If anyone has any advice on this or experience with the Seventh-Day Adventist church, please send a letter my way!

On Sunday, we had the chance to help some of the Elder's Quorum members do their home teaching and since everyone picked lots of apples the day before, everybody had apple pie. Mmmmm!

Well, everything is going well in Staten Island. We are a bit discouraged since we are having a hard time finding people to teach, but we are feeling optimistic with some new plans and General Conference coming up!

Love you all so much!
Elder Hooper.

Video From Jon to Alex at his Baptism

If You Could High to Kolob with Elder McCombs on guitar and Sister Pagan singing

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 44, NYNYS. Staying again in Staten

Well, Elder Tuiaki and I are going to be staying together for one another 6 weeks in Staten Island. This begins transfer number 8. We are excited to work together again. We both get along really well and have such a fun time together.

The seasons are totally changing! It has been in the high 60s here. It is so nice!

It was a pretty discouraging week for us unfortunately. All of our appointments canceled and basically nothing went our way. For some reason, everyone we talked to was slightly hostile. So I don't have any updates on investigators and such this week.

On a bright note, we had an awesome Plan of Salvation concert for the Spanish Ward. The missionaries in the Staten Spanish ward invited a few of the English to give musical numbers in the concert. I played If You Could High to Kolob with Elder McCombs on guitar and Sister Pagan singing. It was really good, and I accompanied two other singers on the piano as well.(video in link below) The Plan of Salvation was taught through music and testimonies and there was a really good spirit there even though I had no idea what was going on since it was all in Spanish. I really felt the spirit confirm to me that President Monson and his counselors are truly prophets, seers, and revelators- I know it! Don't forget General Conference in just 3 weeks. If you read 3 talks a day starting today, you will finish all of last session before this session in October.

We mowed a sister's lawn in our ward and while we were doing that her neighbor approached us to see how much we charge for doing lawns. He really didn't like us saying that we will do it for free, but after some persuasion he said ok and told us to come over and help him with his yard. We moved 1000lbs of sand to one location to the another and man, my back was so sore the next morning. He then handed us $40 and I was like, we don't want to take your money. He then quickly threw it into our pockets and wouldn't take it back haha! I tried to give him a pamphlet and slip the money in, but he caught me. Elder Tuiaki and I will just have to go out for dinner somewhere fancy (then the money disappeared after that thought, so I guess we were just not meant to use that money :P).

Sorry this is short this week. It was a really slow week. Elder McCombs, Sister Pagan, and I are performing the song we sang in the concert at transfer meeting tomorrow and it is going to be sick!

Elder Hooper

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 43 NYNYS, 10 Months!

Elder Tuiaki and I had a great week! We either hit or surpassed our goals and have many good things lying store for us this week. We taught a family of four on Monday who we met playing sports at the park with kids and they seemed to like what we taught, but I am not so sure if the husband, Glen, was very interested. They are hard to get in contact with, but we will keep trying. On my exchange with Elder Eggleston, we found a golden family! We knocked into her and I basically just said "Satan is attacking our families and we want to help you overcome this. Will you allow us to show you how?" And the woman at the door, Elisa, said sure since Satan has been attacking her family! We talked with her on the porch and gave her some reading material and wanted us to come back with her husband home. She has two kids. They would be a golden family if we can get in touch with them again. 

On Wednesday we also did an activity at the ferry with our district giving out free lemonade. It was awesome! Of course everyone loves free lemonade. We got several phone numbers and we got an investigator from it too. His name is Frank and he is Seventh Day Adventist. The only issue he said he has is worshipping the Sabbath on Sunday. He totally believes that God could call another prophet today. We are meeting with him this week.

We also taught Demetrio and Magdalen twice last week, and Magdalen and her two kids came to church! We were so excited about that! They both have been reading some of the  Book of Mormon and really enjoy it and feel the power and strength it gives them.

The members are just awesome out here! We have 6 members signed up to come teaching with us this week! I love this ward so much. They have a lot of trust in us in basically everything. Having members of the ward and the ward council so involved in the work here is fantastic!

We have lots of great things going on in our pool and a baptism will surely come next transfer.

Oh and we are working with a members who really wants to come back and receive his endowments and wants our help to get there! Woohoo!

As I am sure most of you have seen the video, I did play my violin in church last Sunday. It was really good! There was such a strong spirit that was present during and after the musical number. Everyone loved it. It also happened to be like the best Sunday ever since Magdalen and her kids came to church and we had an awesome pot luck lunch right afterwards too with some awesome food. It was a really good activity.

So Elder Tuiaki and I had a little brain fart after church too. I was backing him up out of the parking spot and both of us I feel have been getting pretty lazy/feeling invincible with someone backing us up. Nothin bad happened, but Elder Tuiaki totally scratched the bottom of the bumber and backed into a bush. A member saw and was like "Dang, we will wait for you guys to leave the parking lot so we can leave unharmed. It was kind of funny.

We sang hymns and such again at the ferry and it went well. So well that a drunk guy came up to us and started to pretened to conduct us. Most of us had to stop singing as we were cracking up.

The weather is getting so nice! It has been 65 degrees in the morning and in the high 70s in the afternooon.

This week is the last week of the transfer. I would be very surprised to get trasnferred, but there is a really good chance Elder Tuiaki will probably leave since he has been here for 7 months. We will find out on Saturday!

Well, I love you all very much! Have a great week.


Elder Hooper

My zone at Coney Island

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 42 NYNYS, Just been at Stylin' Staten

So here are a few cool stories:

I don't know if any of you remember this story, but almost 6 months ago, someone stole my backpack with my camera and scriptures and such in it. I got a phone call a few days ago from my old companion saying someone returned my scriptures to him! Some miracle happened and this lady was given my set of scriptures by her next door neighbor with my dad's missionary tag on still on the cover and with a pass along card inside with my old cell phone number on it. She called it and returned the scriptures and is now taking the lessons! How cool is that!? Someone is now being taught by my old set of stolen scriptures and my Dad's name tag is still on it! Too cool. My last companion said it was meant to happen. He said he never has felt the spirit so strong in a lesson, and to find an investigator like that is just too cool. My Dad's name tag meant a lot to me and to have it back is awesome! Whenever I was having a difficult day, I would look at my Dad's missionary tag and remember that he served honorably and went through similar experiences that I have gone through, so I can do it too!

So the lady and her brother who hit the Zone Leader's car is now being taught by the Spanish Elders! While we were sitting waiting for the tow truck to come, I ran into the house to get a Spanish Book of Mormon to give to the Zone Leaders to give to her. Along with some apples and chocolate, we gave the the BoM and explained what it is and now they are being taught! Her brother even works for a member in the Spanish Ward.

So we played music at the St. George Ferry again! I played my violin, Elder McCombs played the guitar, and the other 10 Elders and Sisters in Staten Island sang hymns. It was really good! the violin added the nice professional feel to it and the guitar added a fun beat and then the singing brought the spirit with the doctrine. It is so much fun. I am also playing my violin in church on Sunday with Sister Natalie Jangula in the ward I am serving in. She is going to record it before sacrament meeting and will most likely put it on Facebook.

We will be getting iPads and the opportunity to start using Facebook in October! I am so stoked! Facebook is going to be so nice to have here. All our investigators, less-active members, active members and basically everyone uses Facebook! You are much more excited about seeing a Facebook update on your phone then a text, so then we will send messages on Facebook to people and get them :D.

We haven't been in contact with Demetrio and Magdalen for over a week now. We are worried about them. We are still hoping for the 22nd!Staten Island is doing well. The Zone Leaders had a great baptismal service last Sunday and the sisters now have a baptismal date for Jessica finally! She is so ready for baptism. Elder Tuiaki and I are working on being more fearless and are trying to make our door approaches more powerful by incorporating How to Begin Teaching, Our Purpose, and our testimony all in like 15 seconds! It is going to be interesting, but it should help. We also have gotten in contact with some less-active families we are teaching too! There are lots of things coming out of the woodwork and the members are still working really well with us. One of the ward missionaries made us labels with our phone number, church address, etc. so we can put them on cards. They are so convenient!

I forgot my journal so I am having a difficult time remembering the fun things of last week, but I just love serving a mission. I have learned so many things and continue to learn more and more. I have seen promises in my Patriarchal Blessing being fulfilled and have seen how much knowledge I have gained being here.

I have to get going now! Gotta go into Brooklyn and get my scriptures!

Elder Hooper