Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Week 58, Merry Christmas!

Donald was confirmed a member of the church yesterday! He is doing so well! His English is getting so much better as well. We also had a man named Walter who we met over the phone earlier last week attend church as well. We received his information from Mormon.org so we gave him a call. He met with missionaries 17 years ago and then he saw our chapel and that jogged some good memories of the past and now we are in contact with him!

This week was a blur! It went by so fast and Elder Legere and I struggled with being sick. I got it the first few days then he caught it at the end of the week so some of the days when we were dieing we ended up being home bound. Along with that I was just personally struggling a bit. It sure doesn't help having the holidays come around and being a way from family. Yesterday I felt that I should fast for specific blessings to help me to overcome this challenge. I was doing everything I could and I knew the only thing left I could do was to fast. 3 hours into the fast I already had the spirit guiding me through it all. While at sacrament meeting, I was just so happy! I couldn't explain it. I just felt so uplifted. There were great talks, smiling faces, and lots of things to be grateful for during this holiday season.

So I was put in charge of the musical selection our zone of 26 missionaries is putting on at the Christmas Eve mission get together tomorrow! I am so excited about it- we have a talented zone with quite if few musicians. We are going to play Christmas Canon with mandolin, guitar, ukulele, violin, and piano with the other missionaries singing, and then we are going crazy and singing the Baptist Spiritual version of Go, Tell it in the Mountain! They both sound awesome! I will definitely be recording them and put them on Facebook for everyone to see.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve the Lord, Jesus Christ, here in New York. It is Him that we find lasting peace. I have felt it and so can you. Who better to follow to find peace then the Prince of Peace. One of my favorite songs during this Christmas season is "And His Shall be Called Wonderful" (at least that is how the song goes). Every year at my Grandma Hooper's Christmas program in her congregation she always had the choir sing this song and I don't think she knew how much this song taught me about my Savior. He truly is wonderful, my counselor, and my Prince of Peace. I know He lives.

Merry Christmas!! Let us all love on the Spirit of Christ, unlike the ladies fighting about who was in line first at CVS this morning :D.

Elder Hooper

Monday, December 16, 2013

Week 57, Baptism in Staten!

Well we had an awesome Sunday of course! I will start off with that because it was so great. Meehallage Donald (in Sri Lanka the names are different. Their first name is their last name, and their last name is the one they go by) was baptized! It was a wonderful baptismal service and it was even better with his family present over skype from Sri Lanka! When Donald and I walked into the font, he was smiling and chuckling since he just thought it was all so great. He was looking at his family on the iPad the whole time. I also gave a musical number on the violin- "How Great Thou Art" accompanied by Natalie Jangula. It was great. While Donald and I went back to change I asked him how he felt, and he said "I feel so happy" in his Sri Lankan accent. I love him a lot. He is the happiest man I have ever met. His family was so happy with his baptism and they loved it when people started clapping for him after he bore his testimony. It was such an awesome testimony. "The church is true, the Book of Mormon is true" he said with conviction. He loves the church and even payed his tithing after his baptism too! He is the happiest man I know. Afterwards as we were changing he said he is just so happy. He loved everything about it. In his own words late last night he texted us "How are you? I looking some pictures of temples and looking Book of Mormon. I am very happy today." He was excited about everything which only made me and Elder Legere happy.

Last night, my district went to the Mud Lane Society's Christmas Caroling event they held. They started off with the tree lighting- the tree was the one that Elder Legere and I put up that last week with a man named Carl. I brought my violin since I thought people would enjoy that and it was a big hit. I butchered a few of the more modern ones, but the traditional ones with the violin were nice and it kept everyone on the same key haha! It definitely gave the missionaries some publicity there. We were also invited to eat lots of soups that were prepared. I love the people over in Bishop's neighborhood which is where the Mud Lane Society is based off of to protect the renaissance houses. They like us :D.

We also caroled in a rehab center for the elderly. It was so much fun seeing the joy on their faces. We made their day so much better. They are so bored just sitting there all day every day and when we came they just lit up and were singing with us and were so happy. It was fun, even if I had I sucked on 20 cough drops to ease my sore throat haha!

It is amazing to see how fast our life really goes by. Enjoy the moment! I was just realizing the past few days that I only have 11 more months on my mission. I don't want to go home yet. I still feel like I have too much more to learn. Time goes by, and so many joyous memories fill it. I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life. I love sharing it with others and to allow them to access the Atonement. I love the priesthood as well! I know that it has been restored! It is so amazing as you begin to really understand it's significance and what miracles can be performed as I live worthy of it! I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season! I know I am enjoying listening to all the Christmas music!

Well I gotta go buy some clothes, and prepare some music for my Zone musical numbers that I am in charge of!

Elder Hooper

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 56, 6 More weeks in Staten!

Hey there! I hope everyone is enjoying this Christmas season! The Christmas Devotional was really good as well last night too. Elder Legere and I were the only ones watching it at the church so we of course sang a little extra loud on the closing hymn :D

So here is the funny story for the week. So we were at a family's home who don't discipline their kids very well and they all have some mental challenges. We were there just to stop in and say hi and such and they had family over as well. Their nephew is probably 9 years old or so and is a bit crazy. So the daughter of the family was picking on this boy pretty bad and at first it was all fun and games until she smacked him! He stops, his face turns red, breathes these short breaths like a bull ready charge, then with his mouth open wide and AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!! The spirit said bye to us and I was a little scared for my life haha. We were waiting for this boy to turn green and start Hulk-smashing us. We left pretty quickly after that :D.I have never heard someone scream so loud in my life.

Skyping Donald's family in Sri Lanka was awesome! Since he translated all of it into his language it really stuck with him and he seemed to better understand what we were teaching as well. His family said that they agreed with what we were teaching and are excited to be able to be a part of it with their father. We are teaching them again on Thursday with Donald. Donald is also still set for the 15th and is very excited. We will teach him the Law of Tithing and then go over the baptismal interview questions. He is so prepared and ready! We also taught another family over skype who live in Manhattan. They used to be our neighbors across the street and I became really good friends with them when they were going through a difficult situation. Their home was damaged in Sandy and they had some structural damage that they recently found and they had to evacuate. They are awaiting permits for the rest of the home to be repaired. In the mean time, I was texting them letting them know their house was safe and what not like they requested. I asked if they would like for us to share a quick message about Christ with their family. We read Lehi and his family's journey moving homes and applied it to them and they loved it. It was neat to see how the Book of Mormon really does apply in all aspects of our lives. So we asked if they would be interested in learning more about the church and where the Book of Mormon came from. We are teaching them again on Wednesday. It is amazing the success we are seeing with skype. My patriarchal blessing talks about the Lord needing me in many places throughout the world on my mission and now I totally understand how that is possible and seeing it come to pass!

Donald and his family are famous now in the mission and the Brooklyn NY Stake. Their Skype stories were shared a few times by President Calderwood and another Elder in presentations. I mean how cool is this- teaching someone who is getting baptized next week, skyping his family in a country thousands of miles away who don't have missionaries, and now they want to come to America and unite with their father and be baptized!? I feel so privileged to be apart of this!

Our district is going to be working very hard to bringing people to the baptism this week Sunday! We are planning on handing out over 300 invitations with the hope of have 30 nonmembers there. It is going to be one of the greatest baptisms ever. We have it all planned out and it is going to be great. We showed Donald the beautiful invitations that were made and he was so happy about it. We are going to skype his family in on it as well! He is amazing! I will have the privilege of interviewing Theo for his baptism as well which I am looking forward to.

Elder Legere and I are staying together another 6 weeks in Staten Island. I am so happy about that. We have so many great things coming up and we were hoping to spend Christmas together as well. My district is basically staying the same except we are losing Elder Eggleston, one of our Zone Leaders. I will miss him.

Well it sure has been a great week. I love Staten Island and everything about it, especially our ward. They are wonderful.

Have a great week!

Elder Hooper

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 55, Fantastic week! Pics and a Video.

Elder Legere and I and an awesome week. Even with the holiday weekend, temple trip, deep clean, and weekly planning we still hit all of our goals. Thanksgiving was great. We spent the evening at the ferry terminal (my favorite spot as you know) and we had people come and sign our big poster boards with things they are grateful for. It was a big hit! We even did this with the district the day before and it was so successful that we wanted to do it again. We got over 300 signatures. Everyone was really excited about it and many who signed said what a great idea it was. It certainly made me happy seeing all of the things to be grateful for.

Donald is getting baptized December 15th! We are very excited for him.
He is continuing to develop a strong testimony and is getting happier and happier every time we meet with him!

So the highlight of my week was definitely going to the temple last Friday. Like I said last year it has been over a year since I have last gone to a temple session. The Manhattan temple is gorgeous inside. It is remarkably quiet inside. It was so nice to be able to feel of the spirit and feel so peaceful during the few hours I was there. It increased my testimony of the gospel so much more as I learned so much more this time around.

Thanksgiving was also a blast! We started the morning with. Turkey Bowl! I rocked it out on the field. Not showing off or anything, but I may or may not have scored 4 touchdowns and one being an interception haha! Even though it was one off the coldest days we have had this winter it was still lots of fun. The Bishop's family fed us first and it was a delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal and their turkey was amazing. Full of food, we them went to the Leguillo's another of my favorite families and they fed us a ton too! It was probably my favorite thanksgiving I have ever had even if my body was shutting down die to excessive food entering my stomach :P. Celebrating it with families that I love on my mission was a treat.

It is going to be a really exciting week since it is the end of a transfer cycle so all the scary phone calls regarding training, leadership, and being transferred calls come in. I am not expecting any calls, but I know my district is all worrying about what is going to happen. It is always so fun!

So, having the iPads is such a blessing! We were teaching someone who has a more difficult time staying focused during the lessons so we tried watching a Mormon Message to help them understand a bit more, we watched the Child of God message and it was so powerful. The spirit came into the room and we were able to help them feel it and understand, along with all the children listening too! We also had the privilege to teach Gospel Principles class with my companion and we watched the Earthly Father, Heavenly Father one and it was so cool as we used the tools we have been given to enhance our missionary efforts. It is helping me and all the other missionaries stay more focused on our purpose and having fun while we skype and chat our investigators.

There are lots of good things going on with Elder Legere and I as well. We are teaching often and are helping many people who are pure in heart and honestly seeking the truth. The two brothers from the Ivory Coast are still progressing and are reading the Book of Mormon.

Our district had a special fast last Sunday for The Lord to prepare the hearts of the people in Staten Island and for all those we are teaching. We are working hard to hit our quarterly goal which ends this month!

Christmas is almost here, that means caroling on the streets!

Elder Hooper

Bishop Glick, our bishop in the Staten Island ward, is in this video! He begins speaking at 4:10, The one with the green hat thing. He is a stud.

Elder Hooper