Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 80, I know that the Book of Mormon is true! I know it.

I am getting transferred! I was shocked when I heard that I was leaving. I have only been here for 3 transfers (just 4 months). I was feeling that I did not work hard enough here in Jamaica and didn't do my part. I was praying earnestly that I could just feel the spirit and know that I am worthy and ready to move on from this area. I baptized Lovern, and Mike Davis. I have been an influence to many people here in this area! I love this ward in Jamaica. Bro Hack has done an awesome job as we have been putting together a "teaching the teachers how to teach" class and he announced it in Elder's Quorum. We met with the Elders Quorum presidency and made a plan to have every Elder have a temple recommend by June 29th. The EQ Pres announced it in class and as I was sitting there, I felt that this is what The Lord wanted me to do- strengthen the ward. This ward does not have much motivation and I feel that because of The Lord leading me I was able to be a huge asset to this ward, helping the auxiliary leaders has blessed me tremendously. I know that I did what The Lord wanted me to do here. I will miss Jamaica.

We also got 20 new investigators again this transfer!

Michael and Tiffany's lesson was awesome! Sister Mendoza came with us as well which made it even better. We made a nice PowerPoint presentation on temples and the different things we do inside and it was just what they needed as they were thinking about temples and getting sealed. They are walking miracles! Tiffany has seen mane blessings as she has started believing in God and exercising faith. She has seen her relationship with her mother heal and she miraculously got Sundays off! She had a other job interview with Denny's and asked the corporate manager interviewing her for Sundays off because she is Mormon (she technically isn't yet) and the manager said "of course, I am Mormon too". What in the world!? This is NYC. That never happens! Michael has had the same thing happen too. He has been listening to the lessons in church about work and honesty and he found a job interview after he was tired searching, but he just felt that because he learned that he needs to work hard because of the lesson he received he looked one more time to find that there was going to be a job interview at a restaurant in Time Square in the next we hours so he got dressed and hurried down. It was a group interview and the other people were very qualified for the job as a server. They were corporate servers, restaurant managers, and he had had a year of experience at a restaurant and can't carry 7 plates at a time like they can. He said that he wanted to be dishonest about his skills to look better, but because of the lesson in church he knew that honesty was important so he didn't lie. He was hired right after the interview! Obedience brings blessings. They are amazing. I just felt the spirit as I was teaching them! I love this couple. 

The beginning of the week was a bit crazy as well. Just from last week with all the masonry stuff, I was again bombarded with more Anti-Mormon individuals. One man that the sisters gave a church tour to was Atheist, but said that he would be Mormon if he did believe. He talked about how the Book of Mormon is such foolishness, etc. That didn't bother me at all, but then at another lesson we had that same night, one of my favorite families was giving us some grief about the doctrine of the Restoration. They were telling us to be careful not to grieve the spirit by what we were saying (that did offend me a bit). He asked us to open our hearts and really ask God if what he have is true. By this point I was just so frustrated with all of this. With all of this opposition, I needed some answers from my Father in Heaven
I pleaded with the Lord to help me understand his ways and his path. I love the Lord and want to follow Him. I acknowledged my weaknesses. I told him my struggles, my questions, and my fears. I told Him that I needed a witness if the Book of Mormon was true, if Joseph Smith was truly called as a Prophet, and if Jesus Christ was the Savior. I felt that I have received a witness many years ago, but pleaded for one more so that I could continue to share His word with conviction. After I pleaded for what felt like an hour, I opened my mind and I allowed the Lord to speak. I felt strongly that Jesus was the Christ and that God was my Father. My mind was drawn back to a time when I was 16 years old when I was in the first hour of hour worship service; the speaker said “God and Jesus Christ love you”. That simple testimony filled my soul. I felt the Lord’s love surround me and knew that they loved me. A few months later while attending a wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah, my family and I went into a visitor’s center at Temple Square. On the second floor of the building, which is accessed by a curved ramp way, houses a large statue of Christ called the “Christus”. I remember walking up that ramp way next to my mom and a strong, warm feeling entered my heart. When I beheld the Christus statue, the Holy Ghost bore witness to me that Jesus Christ was the Savior. I know He lives. After I thanked the Lord for giving me this witness I asked for more.

As I sat waiting for further inspiration, I began thinking about Joseph Smith. I again felt my mind was enlightened and I felt strongly that he was indeed called as a Prophet of God. My mind was brought back to more experiences when I was in high school of watching an hour long film of the life of Joseph when the part of the movie where Joseph Smith sees God and Jesus Christ, I remember having this incredibly strong feeling in my heart and in my mind that I knew he was a Prophet. I have had many other instances where the Holy Ghost has testified to me that he was called by God.

I also know that the Book of Mormon is true! I know it. I felt as I continued to listen to the Spirit that it is true and is divine scripture written by ancient prophets. With the Book of Mormon as a sacred companion to the Bible, we gain so much understanding of the Godhead and the role of the Savior’s Atonement.

Elder Hooper

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week 79, 18 months!

Happy Monday everyone! It has been a super crazy week! The weather is great and the city has become livelier.

We had our first ever Zone Exchange where each missionary in the zone was pared up with someone different for the day. Miracles truly did happen! We set Standard of Excellence's of 20 new investigators and 10 member referrals during the 24 hour exchange. I was honestly amazed at how well we did! We found 12 new investigators, and hit 10 member referrals!! That is what a normal week for our zone looks like. I was so proud! It makes me so happy when I see other-missionaries-whom-I-serve's success (there is some interesting grammar in that sentence)! Everyone's faith increased, and diligence skyrocketed! I couldn't be more proud of the work our zone did. Even the newer missionaries' faith increased tremendously. There was a lot
of revelation that went into that, and for that I am very grateful.

The temple is just awesome! Elder Nugent and I went to the temple for our anniversary trips. We left our apartment around 8:30am to go to our temple session. On our way to the temple we were told to be fearless and talk with people along the way. Every person I spoke to was very welcoming and open to talk. I showed everyone pictures of the temple in Manhattan and had great discussions. I really just felt God's love for these people and wanted to weep with them because I knew that they were missing out on so many blessings. The temple was great. I love the temple and felt so at peace there. I may have felt too at peace as I fell asleep in the Celestial Room for a few minutes, haha! 

This week's funny:
I was feeling overwhelmingly tired and while we were walking to the library I yawned a nice big yawn. Immediately a lady walking the opposite direction arrogantly says to me, "Cover your mouth when you yawn. That's disgusting!" I was already having a bad day as it was, and I admit that it probably wasn't the classiest thing I did, but really!? It was so rude, haha! I wanted to say lose some weight you're disgusting, but no way would I ever say that!

While on this exchange, I saw two men that were about to enter a Masonic Lodge and I was always curious about what their beliefs were. They wouldn't tell me much. They were fairly secretive and just told me things like Joseph Smith was a mason, and things that I already knew. This however aroused many questions in my mind that distracted me immensely. I was questioning some of the things that go take place in the temple that are similar to the Masonic traditions. Many doubts started to enter my mind and I couldn't stop thinking about it (as my OCD mind wouldn't let me off the hook with these thoughts). I felt my testimony diminishing. I was on a search for answers; I didn't really know what I was searching for. Monday morning during my studies I realized that this was all of Satan's game plan and he has been plotting this for a while. Here is how: The past couple of weeks I have been extremely exhausted and have fallen asleep in my studies of the scriptures 15 minutes in every morning. Before I shut my eyes, two thoughts entered into my mind: I could either stand up and wake up, or shut my eyes because I already know the doctrines and have a strong testimony. I chose the latter option, and allowed myself to fall asleep on and off during my study. I slowly noticed less conviction in
my words as I bore testimony. The adversary then saw that I was weak and through in some questions that I couldn't find answers to. I also started to realize that throughout my studies inhale been trying to just find scriptures that prove what it am saying, it necessarily to help increase my faith in the doctrine. As I was busy dozing off during studies and trying to prove things right or wrong, my faith weakened and Satan attacked. I learned this morning that I must stop this way of thinking. I had a wonderful study this morning, stayed awake, learned, and increased faith. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. If we don't study daily, trying to increase our faith daily as the prophets and apostles have wisely counseled, we will fall very quickly! Please study everyday to gain a stronger testimony and to strengthen your resolve to keep your covenants!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week 78, #baptism!

Another awesome week here on Jamaica! Mike was baptized and I was privileged to baptize him! It was a great experience. He was texting us later that night explaining how he good he felt and felt like he was a new person! He was just glowing afterwards! It is so cool to see someone who has had a difficult life, turn around, repent, and have the Light of Christ just beaming from them. Even after his baptismal interview you could just tell there was a lot of weight lifted from his shoulders. He is looking forward to receive the Holy Ghost on Sunday! Michael and Tiffany came to church for the first time and we also had their wedding planning before too! Ahh I love them.

They are so cool. They loved church and the members fellowshipped them so well. They came to the baptism and enjoyed it too. They are looking forward to their wedding and baptism.

On Friday, Elder Nugent and I held our monthly Zone Training Meeting where we give instructions that we learned in our Mission Leader Council with President Calderwood.

Here are some pictures of what we did!

Some Videos of Elder Hooper Playing his violin and Singing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Week 77, #miracles and This weeks funny

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms in my life, especially my mom, the best mom of all! I am looking forward to skyping you on Sunday! The weather is finally warm! It has been in the upper 60s. I am sure that that is cold for everyone in AZ. We sure did have a miraculous week this last week.

After our weekly basketball activity, we taught a young man named Asa.

This guy is a stud and a really good example to me. He has a lot of faith and I was super excited to teach him the restored gospel. It went really well and he said he would be baptized when he feels this is true. So we taught the Joseph family again this evening and they are just great (names changed). They fed us some delicious food and we had a good lesson with them. We were just super bold with them. They have been taught by missionaries for years! Their daughters are members, but they aren't. They are not married so they weren't able to get baptized. I said, so tell us some spiritual experiences you have had (I was trying to test the ice a bit and see where their testimonies were). The father immediately said, we know the church is true and the scriptures are true. At first I was a bit nervous, because I thought he was basically saying "yes, we know you are just trying to see where we are at". After some talk about the spirit I was praying and felt the only option I had was to just be straight forward with them. I said, "Bro and Sis Joseph, we need you in the church. We need you (Sis Joseph) in Relief Society, and you (Bro Joseph) in the elders quorum. The Lord needs you. We need you to be baptized. I know that you know that we are here to help you be baptized, so what is the next step for you?" They also gave a straight forward answer. We need to get married they said. They told us they will in July when their daughter is back in town! It was cool! Being loving and bold is what we must do! I am excited for them. After we taught them, we went over to the church to teach Michael and Tiffany. This was an awesome lesson! We talked about the Doctrine of Christ and they understood it well. Elder Nugent asked them to be baptized and they said they were thinking about it throughout the week and May 25th, the date we originally set, since this was Tiffany's birthday too! I then said you will need to get married as well. They said can we do it on the same day? I was like of course!! It was awesome. They got all excited and were cute together! A marriage and baptism on the same day!! That will be amazing. The Lord is blessing us so much. I feel honored to be able to be apart of this work. We are also teaching with President Calderwood at another awesome family's hours this week. Future bishop there!

We had an amazing Mission Leader's Council last Thursday and I learned a ton. Today has changed my life! We the most powerful Mission Leader Council ever. President Calderwood's prayer was the most powerful prayer I have ever heard. He addressed God with much respect, calling Him, omniscient, Man of Holiness, Father, etc. He sincerely thanked him for the blessings he had received, then told him the things that the mission has been doing, like the 5/5/5 goals to help The Lord reach His vision for His children. Then he asked him for the blessings we needed. The spirit in that room was undeniable. I honestly felt that God himself was standing in our midst. I learned how important prayer is and how sincere it needs to be to truly communicate with God! It was one of those prayers in the scriptures where it says the things were too sacred to write haha! It changed the way I pray I for sure.

I sure do love my mission! So many miracles and just lots of awesome stuff. I know that this church is true. When we repent we are forgiven in "real time". As we participate in ordinances and make covenants we can be cleansed. Love you guys!

Elder Hooper

So we had a nasty rain storm the other day and of course being a missionary you just get soaked. I decided to put my shoes in the oven to dry them out. 385 degrees and 10min later, my companion looks at the oven and says "well it is working since you can see the steam coming from the oven!" I go and look and see that it is definitely not steam, it is dark smoke. I open the oven and the smoke goes everywhere and you can see for yourself what happened! Thankfully I put my shoes on the top rack knowing that the bottom would melt them, but my poor companion had to suffer the consequence!