Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 54, #freezing #thanksgiving #templetrip

Hey everyone, we had another awesome week. There are ao many miracles
going on in Staten Island. The Lord is truly hastening his work.
Donald has a solid baptismal date for December 15th! We are so excited
for him. Again, he is the nicest man you would ever meet. He is
enjoying church a lot and is very excited. He was even asking us if he
was ready to be baptized or not yet. We are also working with 2
brothers from the Ivory Coast. They just want to live their lives
according to Christ's teachings and on of them has been coming to
church consistently. These three individuals are who we are really
focusing on. Please pray for these individuals and also for those whom
the missionaries are teaching in your areas.

We had an awesome Mega Zone Conference that was given by the
Assistants to the President and President and Sister Calderwood. It
was so good. President's closing remarks also really got me out of the
slum I was getting into. The spirit helped me remember some scriptures
and things that I needed to kick Satan in the head!

It is getting so cold here! I think because I am so much closer to the
water we are getting a nice humid breeze that cuts you to the core and
you feel like you going to die! It is so cold. It snowed a few days ago and we are expecting
some more precipitation. Snow is cool, but rain is not!

So just a thought, since one of the ASL elders is going home on a few
weeks, there is an ASL elder needed and no one is coming in from the
MTC so maybe I will have the chance to be in that pool! My district is
still on fire! We hit all of our Standard of Excellences and taught
80% of our lessons with the Staten Island ward members (they are still
awesome)! It is so fun being the district leader here. Having this
opportunity to serve in this capacity has helped me to truly see how
much The Lord is working with us in this work!

So our hope for the Thanksgiving Eve is to chalk the ferry terminal
with random people coming to write what they are thankful for on the
ground and then get on the news and be famous and baptize everyone! Oh
sorry I think I may have taken that a bit too far. Haha we are going
to chalk the ferry though. We also are going to be caroling soon after
the holiday and give out free hot chocolate which we are very excited
for since everyone loves caroling.

Also some exciting news, I am going to the temple on Friday for my
anniversary trip. I haven't Ben to the temple for over a year! I am so
excited to be able to feel of the spirit there and especially be there
with my companion too, he is also coming. Elder Legere is like my best
friend. If I knew him at home we would be buds!

I love New York and like Pres Calderwood said at our sacrament meeting
yesterday (which was awesome by the way) that the missionaries never
want to leave Staten Island! I love it here. I hope I never leave.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and eat lots!


Elder Hooper

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week 53, Miracles!

Hey there! Elder Legere and I had one of the best weeks we have ever
had. 89% of our lessons were with members! We love you Staten Island!
We also taught many lessons via Skype as well. It is amazing to be
able to teach people across the country. The spirit is just the same
and the purpose is still there. It is so fun!

Donald has told us that he wants to be baptized! He has been coming to
church consistently. He is a really good man and wants to follow
Christ. We are just working on getting him a new job so he can attend
the whole church service. We are also team teaching a family from the
Ivory Coast. Their mom is a member but they aren't and they just want
to follow Christ more and be better people.

I am so distracted right now. We are watching Prince of Egypt for our
zone activity so this letter might be pretty crazy.

Here is an experience that really hurt me and made me so sad for this
man. We were singing at the ferry while I played my violin and other
missionaries played guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. We were singing "I
Believe in Christ" and this older man comes by us and sits down and
starts crying and I could see the pain in his eyes. Once we finished I
went up to him and asked what his name was. He later explained to me
that he has so much guilt and pain from the killing that he was
a part of in Vietnam. I told him that there was a way that this burden
could be taken away but wouldn't be easy, but he could feel free if he allowed
Christ in. He wouldn't believe me. It made me so sad! It was just a
really good experience to help a man feel of God's love through music.
He ended up giving me money (there was nothing that I could do to
make him take it back so we went out to eat that night haha). I know
the Atonement is real because I have felt it work in my life!

So I hit my year mark last week! I never want to go home, this mission
has changed my life. As I have served my fellow beings I have served
my God and He is forever changing me. I can't believe the many
blessings he has bestowed upon me and  I love him so much! I love
being here on my mission. I know that this church is true. I know it!
I wish that others could just see how much happiness they could
receive if they would accept that god has showed his love to us by
calling another prophet to bring us to the full knowledge of His
Gospel.   I am so excited about the next few weeks. President
Calderwood is coming to speak in our ward and I am going to my
anniversary temple trip and then we have Thanksgiving! I am stoked!

I love you all very much. Talk to you next week!

Elder Hooper

Sent from my iPad

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 52, One whole year!

Happy Veterans day! I hope everyone has had a good week! the Staten Island 1st Ward had their first Blood Drive this Saturday. We collected a total of 18 pints of blood. It is not as much as we were hoping for, but it was fun! We actually had more donors who were not members of our congregation which was great. I wish we would have had the chance to pass out more fliers in the neighborhoods around the church instead of just the neighborhood behind the church. We also had some great gospel discussions with some of the nurses that were drawing blood and gave out a Book of Mormon. 

The work in Staten Island is hastening!! There are just so many changes happening in the mission and the missionaries. We all feel it and so do the members. The members in our ward are just fired up and working with us so well! They sign up on our teaching calendar to come out with us and it is such a blessing to us and the people we teach. We love the Staten Island 1st Ward! Elder Legere is just the coolest guy ever as well. We are so much alike in every way. We often find ourselves quoting each other and saying the same things at the same time. So we are teaching lots and having tons of fun! Life is good!

We went to the temple with our ward on Tuesday which was a blast! It was so much fun. There is nothing like leaving the craziness of NY and going to the temple. The coolest part of this journey however, was meeting a deaf man at the ferry in Manhattan on our way back to SI. I was just standing there looking around for someone to talk to and I saw this one man sitting on a bench wearing a SF Giants t-shirt. Thinking that he was a baseball fan, I approached him to ask him who won the final game of the World Series. He looked at me and just put his finger in his ear and shook his head. I immediately just like jumped for joy as I have been looking forever to talk to a deaf person! When I told him I knew sign-language he also got really excited. We had the coolest conversation ever. He kept asking me if I was embarrassed to talk to him while all these people around us were staring. I told him I really don't care, but am so excited to be talking with you. It really made him happy. He said that he was sitting there, just pondering on what he should do with his life. We talked about God a little bit and I told him that no matter what, God always understands him and will communicate with him no matter what his language was. It was a joyous moment for both of us.

Well, in three days I will have been on my mission for 1 year! I am so blessed to be in New York serving as a representative of Jesus Christ. I love it here and there is no other place that I would rather be right now. Something that I have learned this week is how powerful daily scriptures study is in our lives. Elder Legere and I did not have a chance to study almost all week last week and boy did we feel it. We just couldn't think straight, remember our goals, etc. I personally just felt unprepared. We finally had the chance to study this morning and now I feel so much more focused and have peace of mind. DON'T forget to study the scriptures daily!

Donald and Korcan are still progressing and are doing great! i love them a ton! I have to get going now. Time to play some ultimate Frisbee!

Elder Hooper

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 51, More Mice and a Christmas Tree, plus some Pics

I am back to report on another awesome week! We had 22 people who were not members of the church at sacrament meeting! It was amazing! The ward thought it was so exciting to have so many people there. Our district is on fire and doing so well!

So here is an update on the whole mouse situation! Wednesday evening we were done for the night and getting ready for bed and my companion, Elder Legere (who is awesome. I feel like we have been companions for months already) says "Elder Hooper, I think I just saw a mouse crawl under the microwave." I am just like no... not again! The awful memories of Gadianton and Kishkumen (the mice we found in my first apartment and me screaming and such, read week 7 if you want a reminder of the original story) came back to haunt me. I grabbed my squirt bottle and started to spray under the microwave and out comes the mother of the Ammonihahites and she ran behind our oven! Of course I let out a nice scream. That next morning we went and bought some traps from a corner store and loaded them with peanut butter. We left for the day and came back that evening with 2 of the trapped! Hahah! We decided to lay them out again so we reset them and went to bed. That next morning we caught 2 more! We decided to set them again, and guess what, well we didn't catch anymore, but all the peanut butter was missing and one of them was set-off. We know there is at least one that remains. So embarrassing story though, I was so scared about being in the kitchen that I was standing on a chair while I was any where near the stove! I am pathetic. We now have some sticky traps and tunnel traps a member gave us.

My new companion is Elder Legere (Le Shair). He is from Las Vegas, Nevada and is a stud. He and I get along very well and have lots of fun. Especially with our mice hunting skills. We are getting pretty good at that! He has been on his mission for 9 months. We are already seeing miracles happen within our companionship.

We had an awesome lesson with a man from Turkey. Elder Leger and I love this man. he is such a humble nice fellow. Because there is a slight language barrier we defined words and used lots of analogies to help him understand. I think it was one of the best Restoration lessons I have ever taught because it was just so simple. He really understood and the spirit was there. Elder Legere also had a really cool analogy using a pen and leading his hand relating it to prophets (the analogy is hard to explain, but it is cool). We also had many unplanned lessons with others and just many blessings have followed. The members here are amazing and truly catching the fire of the Lord's hastening of His work. They are the "key" to our success.

Being District Leader is a treat. Being in the leaders meetings with President Calderwood and other missionaries is wonderful. There are so many principles that have helped me tremendously and then the cool thing is, I get to teach all of them to my district. I love my district. We really do have the best district in the mission. Only the best of the best are here in Staten Island, totally serious!

Family History is a new tool we are going to be jumping on now thanks to our Bishop. He is giving all of us keys to our Family History center so we can take members, investigators, and anyone else that would benefit from it. We will be there Tues-Thurs in the mornings and there whenever we have an appointment with someone there. The Bishop here is the best and I feel so honored to be serving with him and to have such trust in us. He is one of the best Bishops in our mission. We are in the process of arranging a Family History Class at our local library to promote our FHC at the church, but more importantly, to try and help others find their ancestors to find that sense of belonging it brings! We are really excited for that.

So, Elder Legere and I just put up our Christmas tree! We are so cool! It is pretty cool looking.

It is freezing cold out here right now. It was 30 degrees last night which was a shock for all the New Yorkers and myself. Thankfully our apartment has great heaters. Maybe they will melt some of the mice?

Well I have to go! I love you all!

Elder Jonathan Hooper

The Mice fun in the Apartment
 Setting up Christmas in our apartment.