Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 84, Super Busy Week!

Hello again! Another bright sun-shiny day in Bay Shore, NY. I just
want to start this off with a cool story. My companion and I both have
been blessed to have musical talents and we happened to have our
instruments in the car so, like we did back in the Bushwick days, we
went music tracting! People are totally receptive to this! We just
have a couple of songs in our repertoire, but Elder McDonald would
play guitar and sing and I would add some lovely descents or something
fun. One door we knocked on beheld an older gentleman holding Samuel
Adams in his hand let us in. He was a little drunk, but said that we
could play and he invited his wife in. After we played one he wanted
an encore. They said that next time we come back they will invite
their neighbors and we will have a big jam sesh at their house
(hopefully alcohol free this time haha). It was a cool experience
though. That family's heart softened as we sang some pretty hymns.
Some other families were also softened while we played.

I had the privilege to interview a young man for baptism. He is 23
years old and he was being taught by some other missionaries in our
zone. It is so much fun to interview people for baptism. They are
always very excited and have strong testimonies. His baptism was great
even if he had to be baptized four times due to his feet coming up. He
was then confirmed at church the next day.

On an exchange with my District Leader, there was one guy we were
going to talk to when he got out of his car with some groceries, but
then he saw us staring at him and then he stared at us, then it just
got super awkward so we we just got in the car! After he got into the
house. I sat there just staring at his house, so I stopped the car and
said we just need to go knock on his door anyway! He happened to be
quite friendly and he said he would be interested, so hopefully we can
teach him later on. On another exchange this week, this Elder and I
were knocking on some doors and this guy immediately says, "come on
in". I was shocked! I felt like I was being called up to The Price is
Right, "come on  down", but even better! This man was taught by
missionaries back in the late 90s and just stopped meeting with them.
We committed him to be baptized and he said "Yea, that seems like it
would be good." We were excited about that. And then on another
exchange... Just kidding no more exchange stories this time.

The other day I was starting to get a little discouraged as we just
aren't finding anyone to teach! I feel like I have been trying my best
to find others by knocking on doors, fearlessing people on the street,
setting up appointments to meet with the members, and making lots of
phone calls, etc! It so happens this was on an exchange too, but we
visited a family who was in our area book to see who they were. They
are a great family! The Johnson family has had many experiences with
the church as Sis Johnson's mother-in-law is a member, but now just
very old and sickly. Sis Johnson said come back tomorrow in the
evening and we would catch her husband home. So we did just that and
he was home and let us right in. He told us all about his past
experiences with the missionaries and how they were all going to get
baptized! They were not able to, however, due to some complications
getting married they were not able to be baptized. They are totally
ready to be baptized and love the church. Bro Johnson said that he
wanted to get baptized ASAP. We chose a date and then a day to come
back to meet his whole family! This was such a blessing to me. I was
praying and reading and knew The Lord was preparing someone for us to
teach. I have no doubt that this is true. I mean, this is the Lord's
work, why wouldn't He be preparing his children to return to his

Here is a fun picture of me doing some service! We were moving tons of bricks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week 83, Learning From Challenges.

I just realized that on Saturday I hit 19 months (the thought I had
when I wrote this was, "oh my gosh this is awful haha!). I used to
think missionaries were so old when they would say that they were at 6
months haha! So, I finally had a normal haircut for the first time in
my mission this afternoon (except from Sis Jangula in Staten Island).
All these other places in the city kept giving me line-ups and
trimming my hair in spots that don't look good on a white guy that is
40% bald, hah just kidding.

I am going to be honest, this week was extremely difficult for me! I
was just anxious out of my mind! Lots of little things that I kept
worrying about, but I just kept pushing them a side saying I will
think about that at 9:30pm when I am free from talking to people.
After a while it all just built up, becoming something that I was
having a hard time handling. I wasn't able to think very clearly, and
I felt unworthy. The Lord is always with us. Sometimes we start
feeling so frustrated, feeling inadequate, or feeling "why me" we
hinder the Holy Ghost from prompting us because we get so preoccupied
by these thoughts, leaving us unable to feeling the quiet, subtle
whispers of the spirit. This is why it's important to read the
scriptures, pray, and do things that invite the spirit like listening
to uplifting music during challenges.

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the First Quorum of the Seventy came to
tour our mission! I had the opportunity to be with him twice, once in
an Mission Leadership Council format and then in a Mega Zone
Conference. He gave many valuable insights that I cherished. He and
his wife are just awesome! You can definitely feel the mantle of their
calling when you see him. From watching him on General Conference, he
doesn't look all that tall, but he is huge! He is 6'5". He said
President Monson sent a messenger over to him during their lunch break
asking Elder Nielsen to come over and talk to him. Elder Nielsen,
nervous, went over and Pres Monson says "How tall are you!?" "6'5"
says Elder Nielsen. "Well, I am 6'3"." It was a pretty funny
conversation that he described. Here are some brief summaries of what
I learned. "You can't waste a minute on this mission... You will never
have another opportunity like this... This is your time." I am the
future of the church. Am I the problem or the solution? "This mission
will change my entire mortal and eternal existence".  "If it doesn't
start with the leaders, it won't happen". It was awesome to have him
with us!

Here is a miracle!
On an exchange with Elder Acosta, a missionary in my zone, we went up
to a lady and talked with her for a bit on her driveway. She said she
would be open to listen and I ask well what about right now? She said
she had time. We spoke for about an hour and it was looking very
stormy,  but since there was no man in he house we had to teach it
outside. Once we finished the lesson and got in the car the rains came
down and the floods came up! We knew that God allowed us to teach that
lady! It was raining on and off all day, so to have the rain
completely stop was no coincidence. She said that she felt really good
during the lesson and would like us to come back! It was all in
Spanish, therefore, I had Elder Acosta translate what she said in
English and translate what I said in Spanish. It was cool!

Even though it was a tough week, it still taught me a lot. I gave a
talk on Father's Day during sacrament meeting. It is at the bottom if
you want to read it!

Have an awesome week! Happy Birthday to my Mom this week!

Elder Hooper

(This is just an outline)
Brother's and Sisters, before I begin my talk I want each of you to
think of a fond memory you had with your dad. Hold on to these
memories while I speak and think of the good your dad now does or has
done for you.

I would like to share with you some of my favorite memories of my dad:
going with my dad on deliveries, working on the Chevelle, priesthood
blessings I received from him.

James E. Faust said, "Brethren, noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of
the divine attributes of our Father in Heaven. A father should be many
things. He should magnify his priesthood and be an example of
righteousness. In companionship with his wife, he should be the source
of stability and strength for the whole family. He should be the
protector and the provider and the champion of the members of his
family. Much of his love for his children should flow from his example
of love, concern, and fidelity for their mother. By his uncompromising
example he should instill character into his children." (“Them That
Honour Me I Will Honour", James E. Faust).

I feel one of the most important ways a father can lead by example is
working with his wife in unity, being equally yoked in the decisions
of the family, and treating her with utmost respect.

Through the council of our church leaders, we have learned that as
parents learn their duty and lead their homes in a Christ-like manner,
they in return will learn what our Heavenly Father feels towards all
of us, His children. "And this is life eternal, that they might know
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." As a
father, as you pattern your home after the manner righteousness, you
will come to know the only true God and Jesus Christ.

Do you remember the memory you thought of about your father? Now I
want you to think of your most fond memory when you felt the love of
your Heavenly Father.

"Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given
to deity, God has asked us to address Him as Father." Jesus Christ,
before he ascended into Heaven, said "Touch me not; for I am not yet
ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I
ascend unto my Father, and "your" Father (John 20:17)." We know that
God is our Father, the Father of our Spirits. We are all His children
and He loves us! He loves us so much that He has given us a Savior,
living prophets, the scriptures, continuous revelation, the Holy
Ghost, and temples! Why has he done all of this? It is so you and I
can have peace in this life and eternal salvation in the next life,
just like any loving father would want us to have!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Week 82, Beautiful Bay Shore!

Today I was on an exchange with one of the district leaders in my zone. He has been very overwhelmed and stressed since he just came back from Bermuda, which is like being exiled to the isle of Patmos, and having no idea what is going on in the mission. In addition to this he is training and got blinded into a pool with no one to teach!

Going on an exchange with him really lifted my spirits. It was so good to see his whole perspective change and his confidence in himself increase. I called an audible for him to do an emergency district meeting (Elder McDonald mentioned it). It went really well. At the beginning of the meeting as we were giving a quick workshop, I felt impressed to share my love and trust in this Elder and then ask for a sustaining vote of support to him from his district. I felt that with a sustaining vote it would bring some district unity. It was well received. After the exchange he even sent me a text saying thanks for the awesome exchange! It is such a joy for me to see missionaries just boom after a bit of training I give. I know that because of the gifts and talents God has given me, I can be a tool in His hand. We found a good family and a solid LA member to teach!

So here is something that has changed my life! Of course this is from President Calderwood- he is my hero. During our online proselyting training, he said that he felt impressed to testify of the Savior and His Atonement. He said that the cleansing power of the Atonement is real and important, but it alone isn't enough for this world at this time. With the healing power combined, we can be healed from the scars this world leaves on us. I then felt impressed that with all of the scars that the world leaves on us we can be healed and made while again. I can be healed of the anger, vulgarity, and promiscuity that enters into my mind from the world and I felt strongly that this principle was true. I have been starting to simply pray, accepting the Atonement, and just trusting in the Savior when these thoughts come and I have felt sooooo much better! I feel so much more at peace with my mind as I rely on the Savior to heal me from these wounds! I love Him!

So we found this awesome flower farm while we were knocking on some doors. The family that owns the place was very friendly and we had a fun conversation about God and such. The mother of the family was telling us that you can learn a lot about God through nature and growing plants like faith for example. She said that with all the years she has been running this farm, until the Easter season is over all the plants won't bloom, symbolic of the Savior's resurrection, even if it is a later Easter. I thought that was totally cool! We came back the next day to volunteer our time to help with some of the menial chores. They took us back to where they begin growing the flowers and vegetables they allowed us to eat some of the veggies off the vine and they were delicious! It was so pretty around their farm too! No wonder the ancient prophets and Christ went to beautiful places like gardens and mountains to seek revelation.

This week is going to be awesome! Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy is here touring our mission. Elder McDonald and I will be attending a council with the other Zone Leaders and the APs and president with Elder Nielsen! I am super stoked for this! It will be a lot fun. On Wednesday we will be having our zone conference with him.

He is the EXCLAMATION POINT guy in conference last October.

I am sorry that I don't have a ton to write this week! I didn't do a very good job of writing in my journal and forgot like everything haha!

Happy Birthday Kaitlyn! Happy Fat-her's Dad!

Elder Hooper

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week 81, Transfers!

I am now in Bay Shore, Long Island! This is my first time in LI and it
is beautiful out here. I could definitely live here. So before
transfer meeting begins, all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training
Leaders get together to receive your new list of missionaries in your
zone which you will announce at the pulpit during transfer meeting,
and for those who are being transferred like me figure out who your
new zone leader companion and area is. There were two spots open for
me. Bay Shore or Staten Island again! Either one I was excited for. I
was assigned Bay Shore and the funny thing is that I am back with
Elder McDonald who trained me way back in the day! I love him! I am
super stoked to be with him again. We have both changed a ton and it
is fun to bring back all the good'ol Bushwick memories.

Bay Shore is beautiful! The nature scenery is so pretty. It is as if I
am not even in NY anymore! The people here are very friendly and open
to talk with you. It has been a unique adjustment coming from the city
to the island as there is just no one to talk to on the streets!
Knocking on doors seems to be what is effective. In my past areas,
Staten Island being kind of an exception, have all been crazy cities
with buildings everywhere. The cement forests have now turned into
real forests. It's beautiful here. My apartment is pretty sweet as
well. It is really small, but has a cool spiral staircase that goes up
to a loft where are beds and dressers are. It is a unique apartment.

I do have a car out here. We are driving a 2011 Toyota Corolla. It is
definitely different not being able to talk to people on the street
because there isn't anyone on the street! Elder McDonald noticed a
family that he met once was outside so we stopped by to see of we
could get a return appointment. He graciously allowed us to sit with
him in his backyard and we had a nice discussion and his wife also
came out too! They are an awesome family. They have a strong belief in
Christ. We visited them again on Sunday and the whole family came out
to listen as well. It is a family of 5 and the kids are super smart!
They named almost all of the 12 apostles during our restoration
activity. They are a great family.

The Bay Shore Ward is like a traditional ward at home. It is so weird
though! I am used to having people respond with "Good Morning!" to
everyone that says good morning at the pulpit etc. Every calling is
filled and it is so structured! I am not used to that. In the city the
culture of the people is so different. I kind of miss the Caribbean
culture mixed in the church. This ward is great though and the
organist is amazing! It was a blast to sing to.

So this story might be a but too much information, but it is kind of
funny! So, out of no where I just had to go to the bathroom really bad
while we were out proselyting. Elder McDonald said that there was a
former investigator that would let us in. He is actually being taught
by the Spanish sisters. He has a date scheduled for baptism on June
22. After I relieved the bladder we talked with him for a bit. He said
he was having some doubts about the Facsimiles in the Pearl of Great
Price. We gave him some counsel to not let the small things bother
him. He said that he felt that we came at the right time when he was
having these thoughts. I obviously was hit by the pee wave so that we
would go to his house to use his bathroom! God works in mysterious and
I guess humorous ways.


Elder Hooper
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