Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Week 89, I love my mission!

So we had an awesome skype lesson last night with Josh. Bro Macke in
the ward was there at the church building and we asked him if he would
like to join us. He told us that he wouldn't want to because he
doesn't like Skype since he is 71 years old. Elder Odd said, well at
least come see what it is like. We got him a chair and sat him in the
screen! At first he was like no way don't let me be seen, but once he
saw Josh come up on the screen he immediately changed and talked, and
bore testimony. Bro Macke loved it! It was so funny because at first
he was so against it, but Elder Odd gently coerced him to do it haha!
It turned out sooo good.

I am so grateful for Preach My Gospel. I have learned so much from
studying this manual. I am seeing my teaching improve tremendously.
What is amazing though, is having anxiety and learning to really
control it, but most importantly learning to understand my mind. I
have learned how to work with people on a psychological level so that
their spiritual level will be reached more efficiently. I am learning
how to ask the right questions that get the person to think and then
teach themselves and see what they personally need to do. While we
were teaching a young man named Jeffrey, I did this. I started asking
him questions to understand him and his testimony. He responded shyly
at first, but I was able to open him up. We got to the conclusion that
he doesn't understand why knowing the Book of Mormon is true is
important. We read 1 Nephi 6 and dissected it to show him how to
study. Following this, we asked him follow up questions, and then
basically started to say so now what? What are you going to do because
of what you learned? He opened up and told himself what he needed to
do, so we committed him to do what he said he felt he needed to do. I
am so thankful The Lord has given me this personal challenge. I have
been able to help sooo many people as I have learned to understand how
our minds think. Even today the sisters were freaking out over an
investigator. I was able to say a few things like "hey you are having
this thought which is causing you to feel this, and you just need to
do this". This gift I have been given is from The Lord and I am very
grateful for it. He has taught me to be who I am.

The Lord has sent me another one of His children that has an emotional
disorder. This investigator of ours has been taught by multiple
missionaries for years, but never quite makes it to baptism because of
his fears and doubts. I have known him for a while now and love him a
lot. I felt a special connection to him from the beginning not knowing
why. As I prayed about what to share with him, after the sisters
passed him over to us, I felt prompted that he has anxiety and
depression. I could easily see it when we talked with him. When he
begins to feel anxious by the chemical imbalance in his mind, he
naturally goes to try and find the source of the problem. He
immediately feels that it is the discrepancies in the church. He
begins to doubt and that's why he backs out of baptism because he is
feeling anxious about something he hasn't figured out yet, so his mind
tries to find the source of the anxiety and he points it at his
testimony. I felt prompted to talk about that and it went really well.
I also gave him a blessing and it was powerful.

I love being a Zone Leader. We had a good companionship study in the
morning trying to figure out what we could do to help out the zone
with inviting investigators to be baptized in the first lesson. It
hasn't been happening very often in our zone and the impression that
we have received is that we need to help improve the teaching skills
of our missionaries. If we can learn how to teach effectively and give
the baptismal date with the proper expectations and tone to the
lesson, it will go so much smoother instead of just winging it to get
the number. The idea came about to do a survey of the the missionaries
in the zone. We made a survey straight from PMG chapter 10 which is
all about teaching skills through Google Forms. We are creating it
around the same format as chapter 6's Christ-like Attribute
Assessment. It consists of 50 questions on various topics in each
category in chapter 10. We are excited to see the results.

We also attended on of the units in our zone's district meeting. I am
so glad we did! In their district, the District Leader decided to make
a Vision, Goals, and Plans for their district for the rest of the
transfer. This was just soooo good. I was receiving impressions to add
to their meeting focusing on key indicators as goals and adding inputs
on previous VGPs I have set. This district needs a faith booster.
Their ward is struggling and their pools are dead. They wanted to set
a goal for 8 investigators as a district for the next 3 weeks. I felt
unsettled about it. I then said very excitedly and emotionally charged
something along lines of "you can do so much more than that!" Elder
Odd then added how many our district has found in 2.5 weeks- 24. They
were all like woah. They have only found 2 in 2.5 weeks. Their faith
increased a bit and 20 investigators was set! I felt very good about
this! It was amazing. The spirit was guiding all of that. I love this!
Then, that night they found 4 new investigators and 3 more the rest of
the week! With increased vision, comes increased motivation.

We also held our Zone Training Meeting all focused on Preach My
Gospel. This manual is awesome! I have gained a much stronger
testimony as I have been center I my studies on it.

Here is this week's funny: These two teenage boys were on their roof
cranking their music and jamming out. I look at them, they look at me.
I stop and just starting dancing with them! It was hilarious. We all
got some good laughs out of that.

Well, I love you all!

Elder Hooper

(Unloading some storage!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Week 88, Do I sound like Batman to you?

Happy Monday! It is a been crazy week (I think every week is crazy in its own way). Elder Odd and I got sick so that made the week feel long. We just had sore throats, fever feeling, and sinus issues. We still worked hard and had a super good week though. I have been losing my voice so it is very deep and scratchy. I will go up to someone, start talking, and say something like "sorry for sounding like batman, but I have lost my voice". I don't really say that, but I sound like him!

The adversary has been trying to bring back memories of mistakes in the past. This is something that everyone feels in their life after moving on from something difficult. Satan is trying to get me to snatch the forgiven mistakes out of the Savior's hand that he already took away from me. I am proud of myself though! I didn't allow this to get me down. I just trusted in the Savior and knew he could heal me from these scars. I also knew that if I denied the cleansing power of the Atonement, I would not have faith in the Savior. I learned a really cool lesson regarding the justice and mercy of God as well. I really have been trying to be more focused in my studies. I learned that because of mankind being cut off from God's presence we were all subject unto justice which would require us to suffer for all the sins we have committed. However, because of God himself coming down, he paid the demands of justice and can offer us mercy. He became the creditor and the contract was made anew so that if we would follow Him, we would actually be able to meet the amount due! He is the Author of our Salvation. God is amazing. If there wasn't a world created and mercy was immediately applied without any time of probation, God would have ceased to be God because there would have been no justice! But God is merciful and just and because a Savior was provided, a plan was created, and an earth was made, God is still just and merciful. I am grateful for our Savior.

We had a ward barbecue last weekend and it was a blast. We were launching water balloons across the parking lot with a slingshot. The Elder's Quorum was launching them as far as they could to try and hit the kids playing badminton! It was hilarious. One of the members was barbecuing some delicious ribs. I went up to tell him that the ribs were amazing and when I do, everyone just starts dying laughing. I was so confused because I wasn't joking whatsoever! I just walked away and went and got some more food. Later that night the Elders told me why they were laughing so hard. They just went up to Bro Danner and asked him if there were any more ribs and he said no they are all gone. The Elders were jokingly making him feel bad by saying "we thought we were friends!" And right in the middle of this conversation comes me saying those ribs were amazing! I totally mocked the Elders without realizing it.

So here is what an average day looks like for me (I don't write much about what I do on a daily basis and who I am working with so here it is:). In the mornings we spend some time in the library using the computers to prepare for our ward-list-clean-up-blitz in August. We will be bringing 30 other missionaries in to help us locate all be members in our ward we don't know. There are around 250 names that we have no info on so we are going to hunt them down, by visiting their home, talking to their neighbors, calling them, emails them, Facebooking them, etc. We usually have a district meeting, leader's meeting, or mission conference call we are a part of in the mornings as well. In the afternoon it is sometimes difficult to find productive, smart ways to work. We will usually do online proselyting, try to do some service, or visit our retired friends. In the evening is where we go crazy! We have lots of people we know are interested so we go to their home, visit them, and then work around their area by tracting using videos or other materials. There is a lot of driving involved between each person so we always wave to everyone and depending on their reaction we might stop and give them a card through the window. Yes, it is kind of creepy, but most of the time it is positive, haha!

That is what we look like most days. Networking is important because everyone loves their town and they know their neighbors well too!

Hopefully that didn't bore you. I love you guys and hope you have a wonderful week! #countyourblessings #thehastening #bethehastener

Elder Hooper

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 87, 20 months! :O

Hello there everybody! It has been a really great week over here! The
weather has been beautiful and lots of good things have been
happening. My new companion is Elder Odd, he is from Seattle,
Washington. He has been on his mission for 10 months. He's awesome! We
both teach really well together and our personalities mesh to make us
interesting and fun. I learned a lot this week.

I had the chance to go on an exchange with Elder Baker, the Assistant
to the President. I have a lot respect for this missionary. He had a
dislocated hip when he was a baby and the doctors didn't catch it, but
when they did, they broke his femur trying to reset it which caused
lots of issues. Ouch! He is a powerful missionary with a strong
testimony. He still plays basketball and everything! We had an awesome
lesson together that night as well- It was just powerful. Barbara and
Jessie; they just wanted to learn more and said they would be
baptized. They also said they believe what we are saying. It was just
so cool! I felt my testimony confirmed by the Holy Ghost of Jesus
Christ when I shared my testimony. It was such an awesome lesson that
was guided by the spirit. They caught the vision and understood.
Finally someone understands how amazing this is! God has reached out
to us again by calling another prophet. One cool part of this lesson
was when Jessie asked a question about Christ appearing to Joseph
Smith. What was interesting was that I immediately knew what he was
asking- his question came clearly to my mind and I knew he was
thinking that this experience was the second coming. I asked him if
that was what he was thinking and it was. We addressed it and we just
answered all his questions and his mind was at ease when we told him
the second coming has not happened yet! He is baptist so the second
coming/rapture is a core belief of his.

Here are some important lessons I have learned. They aren't grand or
miraculous, but they were really cool to me. The Holy Ghost is
teaching me more as I have been trying to humble myself. There was a
man that I saw in his driveway reading and I just had this strong urge
to talk to him that wouldn't go away. I at first was just like, nah
this is me, but I decided to listen to this feeling thinking it could
be the Holy Ghost. We parked the car and approached the man and he was
very friendly. Once the small talk was out of the way, I told him that
"The Lord loves you because when I drove by, your Heavenly Father told
me to come talk to you". I think he then recognized us as servants of
The Lord and he said "when I saw you guys get out of your car, I knew
you were coming to talk to me". It was just awesome! God is preparing
people! I had another similar prompting/feeling regarding going to
Buffalo Wild Wings. I felt uncomfortable about it, but ignored it and
went anyway. While there I felt that I shouldn't get Mtn Dew. I
ignored that one too. These were feelings that weren't from me. I
ignored both and oh, I felt the repercussions. The wing sauce
destroyed my digestive system and the Mountain Dew made me super
shaky! I didn't feel good the rest of the day. I am learning to
recognize these feelings and I feel they come because of my desire to
learn and follow God humbly.

While at transfer meeting, President Calderwood said that the
missionaries going home served honorably and did great things for the
mission. The impression that came to me was "how will I end?" These
next four months are going to be great! Time has gone by too fast.
During my quarterly interview with my mission president, I asked him
to renew my temple recommend. He gave me a cool insight I thought was
cool. He said the first 4 questions are all testimony based and the
other 11 are worthiness. The first four questions regarding testimony
ask about our belief and understanding of the Godhead, the Atonement,
the Restoration, and living prophets. He told me that this is all the
Brethren bear testimony of during conference. He committed me to bear
testimony only of these things and nothing else. I gladly accepted. I
thought that was cool!

Well, I love you all very much and hope you remember how awesome you
are. Seriously. You are God's greatest creation! 😛


Elder Hooper

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Week 86, For the first time I was grateful for rain on July 4th!

For the first time I was grateful for rain on July 4th! It was nice because
everyone was on vacation AND no one was able to go to firework shows
so everyone was home!

Today was our awesome Zone Activity. We went to a middle school in Bay
Shore and played kick ball, ultimate frisbee, and had a fun water
balloon toss/fight. I took a couple shots in the back and the chest.
It did feel pretty nice though! I think everyone had a good time and
enjoyed themselves. During kick ball, Elder Galloni took two pop flies
in the face. He went to go catch them, but just misjudged them. The
second one knocked him over! It was nice to have some wholesome fun
and run around a bit.

Here is a funny story. We got a referral from for an older
man. We went to visit him and found his wife outside. We explained to
her why we were at her house and that her husband ordered a Bible. She
was so confused. She kept saying, "there is no way my husband ordered
a Bible online. He is 75 years old and does not know how to use a
computer!" I said "well, do you know if there is someone in your home
that may have done it for him? We just want to make sure whoever
ordered it gets it". She said "there is no way my husband could have
ordered one!" I was like ok I believe you... Do you want the Bible or
not? She still said the same thing! We just left. It is always
interesting going to see some of the contacts we are given from the
website haha!

I learned some valuable lessons today! I was starting to get
frustrated with God because I have been struggling that I felt like I
was just being abandoned. Not that I am struggling so severely, but I
couldn't get out of this depression for a while. I knew that it had to
do with my testimony, but I didn't understand what exactly was
happening. While Elder McDonald was sharing his testimony at our
district meeting, I had an impression that I was beginning to analyze
my faith. I have been training my brain to analyze everything that
comes in, and to be on the look out for possible thoughts that can
trigger anxiety. It is like white blood cells on the patrol and once
they find something they attack. I have been doing this to my
testimony. I realized that instead of having faith I was simply
looking for all the evidence and trying to prove things. I am always
looking for evidences that cause anxiety, but I was taking this
strength and without realizing it, I was making it into something that
was hindering my progression. Once I had that revealed to me I
immediately felt a weight off my shoulders. I now know that I need to
go by faith and by the knowledge of the Gospel that has become perfect
to me. Being analytical and using logic is good when you couple it
with the counsel of God.

The day before the 4th, the library hosted a 4th of July celebration
at a community bandshell by our apartment. Of course my first I
initial thought was- street sweep! We got a nice table cloth and such,
made a poster, and brought the family history stuff. We got it all
setup and these two people come up (at this point I could tell by
their body language that they were not coming to ask what we were
doing) to our table and say "what are you guys doing?" I explained
what we were doing and they asked if we had a permit and this
confirmed what my first impression was about these two individuals. I
told them no and they said that they did and had to ask us to leave.
They were super nice about it though, so no hard feelings, but I was
just like... noooo!

At this same bandshell, the Bay Shore area held a band concert that
Elder McDonald and I helped set up. Afterwards, we went to talk to a
man that was waiting for the show to start. I sat down next to him and
just started asking him questions. Soon we had a great conversation
regarding the Word of Wisdom and the blessings of keeping our bodies
clean! It is always fun to find people to teach during any activity we

Elder McDonald is leaving on Tuesday, so I will be getting a new
companion. I will still be serving in Bay Shore. This morning during
our companionship study we went back to the first time we were
companions and we recounted all the funny stories and miracles we saw.
There were many! Elder McDonald will be missed.

Have a wonderful week everyone! Now I am just praying that our A/C
unit gets fixed today after not having it for 6 weeks :O. It's hot!


Elder Hooper

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Week 85, What do I do in the Summer time? (Matt 28:19-20)

The New York South Times Best Seller, Elder Hooper's blog, presents
another fantastic week in Bay Shore! This transfer is coming to an end
and this is Elder McDonald's last week as a missionary! I will miss

At the beginning of the week we had a cool opportunity to be apart of
an interfaith group meeting at a baptist church in the area. There
were people from Reformed Judaism, Wicca, Seventh-Day Adventist,
Agnostic, and Baptist. It was pretty cool. Everyone was very
respectful and that was the cool thing about it all. They loved having
us there and as well as our input on things. There was no bashing, no
trying to prove others wrong, etc. We talked about various ideas like
the true nature of the Godhead and what each other believes. We got on
to other topics like marriage and such. It was interesting to feel
when the Holy Ghost would testify of certain principles and when it
would leave in other opinions. Moral relativism has become something
that is common place today.

For weeks we have been having issues with our car and we finally had
time to take it to Pep Boys. We learned that some of our rims were
bent, 3 tires were dry rotted and we needed an alignment which is why
our car was driving terribly! I guess the missionaries previous to me
didn't pay much attention. It helps having lots of car troubles when I
was a teenager! Super glad to have that fixed. I could turn right by
simply letting go of the steering wheel.

So, obedience brings blessings! At the end of one of days we arrived
home at 8:54pm. Knowing that 9pm is when we are to return home, we
decided to be obedient and go find someone to teach in the next 6
minutes. We are walking down the street towards Main St and I saw an
apartment with lights on and, therefore, decide we should just knock
on that door. I timidly knocked on the door since it is late and
didn't want any grouchy parents to yell at me for waking their
children. The man that opened the door was quite friendly. We
testified of the Restoration and the love God has for him. He was very
open and even said he would try to come to church the next day. He
said that he needs to bring God back to the center of his life! When
we obey with faith, the Lord always blesses us.

Sacrament meeting was awesome yesterday ! During the sacrament prayers
the wording "take upon them the name of [Christ]" took on a new
meaning. Lately, I have been very hard on myself and belittling my
self-worth and defining myself by my challenges. I received a blessing
from my companion prior to this experience and I received the
impression that that is what I was doing to myself- tearing myself
down. I learned that one way we take upon ourselves the name of Christ
is by doing what He does and thinking about ourselves the way He
thinks about us. He would never belittle or hold me to unrealistic
expectations. Names are very important. The names of Abraham and his
wife were changed due to their faithfulness. And the
blessings/covenants they were given. Peter's name was changed, Paul's
name was changed, etc. When we take upon us a new name, or Christ's
name at baptism, it comes with new responsibilities and new ways of
living. The talks were also very good. Saturday was the 170th year
anniversary of Joseph Smith's martyr, so the sacrament meeting was
Restoration themed. With the ward choir, I played my violin to "A Poor
Way Faring Man of Grief" that was arranged by the Burgess family in
the ward. They are super talented! I had lots of compliments after all
of that.

We are having a hard time getting people to progress in the Gospel,
but we are continuing to find people who are being prepared! I love
you all so much and hope you have a fantastic week!
#countyourblessings #lookforthesmallones


Elder Hooper