Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 93-11 weeks to go, Back in da BUSH!

This week has been awesome, crazy, stressful, and interesting! I am
back in Bushwick, my first area, in Brooklyn! I am stoked to be back.
I had a hard time my first round here, but now I am ready and
experienced to take on the challenge. This is where all the hipsters
live, and then we have the ghetto of the ghetto in the southern part
of the boundaries where my companion and I live.

I am training Elder Goodson who is from Salt Lake City. He is 18 years
old and straight out of high school. He is going to be an awesome
missionary. Training is pretty stressful. In fact, I was so stressed
out this week with all the changes and trying to train, I had an upset
stomach and loss of appetite and such for a few days. I was stressin'
out of my mind, but I am good now! Since we got blinded I to Bushwick,
we had a ton of stuff to take back to our area. Elder Morse and his
trainee also were blinded into this area and they had a lot of stuff.
I begged Elder Bottomfield, the mission vehicle coordinator, to lend
me a car for a few hours. After a lot of hassle I finally was able to
round up a car. The car however, was blocked in by two cars. I went
down to Elder Bottomfield again and got the spare keys to those cars
and backed them all out. While backing the second one I blocked a
diesel truck in the road causing a big traffic jam! It was scary. I
pulled our car out and moved the other two back in. Our car was
sketchy! The righ tire was wobbling. I can't believe we made it to
Brooklyn and back in one piece!

After we got settled in our apartment and figured out how to work in
the area, we had lots of stress lifted. A year and a half ago with my
trainer, Elder McDonald, and both being new, we knocked on doors
endlessly every day with no success. For seven and a half months that
is what I did. We taught a few people, and because of our hard work
and determination, The Lord gave us a miracle baptism! This was just
not effective at all for the branch and us. The impression that I
received after praying, and meeting with members was to strengthen
less active families, "clear the blind spots" (teach all members of
the family who are not yet members), and convert them to The Lord so
they can stay in the gospel. Individuals have a much more difficult
time staying active in this area.

Sundays are always my favorite days. I love the Bushwick 1st Branch so
much. I got a warm welcome back and it was so good to see the members
that I love so much. These members have a special place in my heart.
The new members that have moved in are awesome! All 6 of the
missionaries (5 of which all got transferred in last Tuesday) spoke in
sacrament meeting to introduce ourselves.

Here are some miracles and funnies:
While I was trying to navigate through the cement jungle of Brooklyn,
we got turned around and risked being super late to an appointment. As
I was looking around I just had this thought to keep going straight. I
was second guessing myself saying to just retrace my steps and find a
land mark to navigate by, but I decided to listen to that first
thought. We started walking and lo and behold, the street was right
there! I knew it was the Holy Ghost. It is so cool to see the Lord
bless us in such small, but significant ways.

Another cool miracle was having the other Elders knock into us haha!
They let us in and we gave a short spiritual thought then heard a
knock at the door. It was the other Elders coming to visit them too!
What a coincidence! (It actually wasn't which was cool.
Another trainee in the district was having a hard day and was praying
to see someone that he would recognize since he gets a little
intimated with all the ghetto folks. Then he knocks into us out of all
755 members in the area). It was a pleasant surprise.

The funnies, well I will just summarize them. One guy came up to us
and started talking like a auctioneer, but understandable saying he
was an anachronism and wasn't actually talking to us. Another guy was
talking to us like a 3 year old since he was totally high, and a
Jewish lady gave us a card with the seven commandments of Noah. I
never heard of any doctrine on Noah having 7 commandments. Obviously
he preached the gospel of repentance. Maybe it's in the Torah? She
said we should go to church. Haha it was interesting.

Well that's all to this week! Have a wondrous week.


Elder Hooper

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 92 - 12 to go, Training, 21 months.

I am getting transferred and I have been called as a trainer!
President Calderwood called me early last week informing me of the
call that The Lord has extend me through him. I am super stoked! I
have been having impressions that this was coming and I am so excited
for it! I have no idea where I will be serving, but I will know
Tuesday afternoon. I have been going through my journal during the
time I was being trained in the mission field to look for things I
wish I would've learned. The first thing is what missionary work
actually is. I wrote day 5 being in New York- "We should finally be
getting back to missionary work tomorrow". I was trying to figure out
what I was doing that wasn't missionary work. I read a few days
earlier and read about the "planning" phase of missionary work. I
thought missionary work was simply tracting all day and that is all it
was and all we were supposed to do!

Last week we had a crazy rain storm! Most of it happened during the
night, however. I don't know if you heard about it on the news, but we
had a total of 37 billion gallons of rain fall, or 13 inches, in 3
hours! This is definitely not Arizona. We got stuck in what seemed
like a labyrinth of water. The majority of the streets were flooded
and there was traffic everywhere as we were all just trying to find
our way out of the town we were in! There were tons of cars stuck in
deep portions of the floods and some cars totally submerged. Many
basements flooded too, but, we were ok. It made for an eventful day.

We had a member give us an opportunity to serve their neighbor next
door who was trying to remodel one of her rental properties after it
got destroyed by the previous tenant. They were heavy smokers and
smoked inside the apartment destroying all the surfaces of the walls.
They were all brown with a coat of yellowish shavings. I don't know
how the shavings got on all the walls, but it was nasty. We helped
paint and things. There was a lot of stress on this family so I asked
if we could pray with them before he left. I could tell it brought a
lot if peace in their hearts. The owner was tearing up a bit, due to
the stress that was on her. She has been neglecting to make God apart
of the situation. I think we will be able to teach them soon.
I am so glad that I have been born into this church. Many people ask
me, "well were you born into this church"? I respond with a yes (or
sometimes if I am feeling "smart" I will say, no I became a member
when I was 8. I don't actually say this, but it's true though haha!) I
would start to think that maybe I am just apart of this church because
I was born into it. Part of this is true, but if I hadn't been I would
have missed out on soooo many blessings! Just as it pays to begin
playing a musical instrument when you are younger, you are able to
better understand the ways of The Lord if you learn the true way
younger. It is so much harder to change your life and learn something
new when you are older. This doctrine continues to change my life! I
see in other people who get easily angered and disappointed quickly of
their lack of understanding of the Doctrine of Christ.

An older couple we have been teaching and helping around their house
fed us some awesome food Saturday! Delicious Ox Tail, lasagna, a nice
salad, and homemade garlic bread. So good! They are from Jamaica and
are the nicest people you will ever meet!
Well I have to go pack u my stuff to get ready to leave tomorrow!
Elder Hooper

Friday, August 15, 2014

Week 91 - 13 to go, Crazy Week!

We had a super night planned. We had 2 lessons at 6pm and 2 planned at 7:30pm so we needed to do some split action. We had Bro Macke and Max Moss split with us in the beginning (which actually didn't happen because one appointment canceled, so Bro Macke went home). We had a good lesson with One investigator and gave him a baptismal date for August 31st. He gladly accepted and asked lots of good questions. We also found out that he has some extreme OCD. We gave him a pass-a-long card and he was ritualistically tapping the corners of the card. I was so glad we caught that so we could figure out what he is going through. He seems totally normal today and was much more engaged then he ever has been!

I was with the Senior Couple, the Palmers. The Palmers hit it off well with him, and while they were talking I was praying for inspiration about what I could teach Bro Tandit. I felt impressed to talk about the Atonement and the Doctrine of Christ. I taught about the importance of the Atonement and how everything is an appendage to it (everything meaning the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith. I shared with him some personal experiences and it was powerful. So after all our lessons, we met back up at the church to reexchange, however, Elder Odd never shows up. We call him and the member with him with no luck.

After 20min I call our District Leader and tell him we will meet up with him until we get a hold of my companion. We did so and my District Leader was freaking out because he heard something along the lines of "Elder Odd is missing and he has the phone. We got in a car accident". He was thinking my companion is like dead or went rogue haha! All was well. Elder Odd had a good experience teaching and then got rebuked by the member for trying to give a baptismal date on the first lesson, which was good because we got some good feedback. Giving dates on the first lesson is something our mission is trying to focus on.

Love, Elder Hooper
Teaching a Skype Lesson

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 90 - 14 to go, Merry Christmas! Um..What?

So, our district went Christmas caroling. Yes, that's right. Christmas in July! It was super awkward at first, but we actually had a good response to it. People thought it was really cool and wished that we all could think more about Christ through out the year. While were doing this, we went to one guy that said he just got out of the shower and can't come to the door. After thinking it was kind of weird that you would say that to a total stranger at the door, we walked on to the next house and started singing. Then we have this guy in a black truck pull up a few houses down and it was the same guy that said he got out of the shower. He said "it sounded like your message was important and I want to hear it". We were pretty shocked so we sang him a carol, explained who we were, and then we got his contact info and he said he wanted us to come back the next day. The next day we taught him and the lesson went really well. He asked a lot of good questions and seemed to really understand what we were saying. He told us that he has been looking for the truth since he lived here (which is most of his life). He explained that when he says he needs to get closer to Christ someone always comes to answer that prayer. We also had his neighbor, Josh Daley, who is 16 come with us. He thought it was cool having him there. This man is one that missionaries dream of having- people who are truly ready for the true gospel. We did call him on Saturday to remind him bout church and he seemed a bit skeptical, so I am not sure if he came across some anti material, but we will stop by later in the week.

On Saturday, an investigating couple I taught while I was in Jamaica got married! I was excited that I was able to participate in the celebration. They asked me to play the violin before they gave their personal vows in the reception after the ceremony. They are the cutest couple ever. I love them a lot, and they will be getting baptized next week! I loved teaching them.

Elder Hooper