Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 102, 2 weeks left - More families who are ready

This was a pretty fun week! There aren't very many stories this week, but hopefully I can make up for that with videos and pictures.

We had our branch Halloween party on Saturday. We set up different rooms in the church for the kids to go trick-or-treating in with activities set up for fun. The missionaries' room had tons of ghosts hanging from the ceiling (this idea came from my mom and hanging homemade ghosts on the trees with bags and newspaper) and we had donuts bouncing from strings for the kids to try and snag with their mouths (video will explain). Overall it was fun. What made it even better is that a part-member family came that we met with just a few hours before the party. They are so ready to be baptized! They moved here from Coney Island a year or so ago, but didn't know where the church was so they stopped coming. The kids committed to be baptized and the dad committed to receive the priesthood to baptize them. We talked about the party and they asked if they could go too! It was fun having them there. Another guy I talked to on the street came too.

We also met with a 21 year old young man who is so pure in heart! He has a friend in Utah who introduced him to the missionaries. He has a had a difficult life living in Brownsville and desperately needs a change. I saw in him a righteous, strong priesthood holder. He is probably the most prepared person I have ever taught. He was thanking us so much for coming to visit him and give him the scriptures he requested. He messaged us again last night saying he feels this is going to help him a lot in his search for the peace! He is awesome.
There are so many miracles happening here in Bushwick. I am excited for this area to continue to grow after I leave.

Just 2 weeks left! How crazy is that. I am very excited! This has been an awesome journey.


Elder Hooper

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 101-- 22 days left --'Twas an eventful week

So to begin this week's entry, here is some crazy stories that happened!

We went to visit one less active family in a sketchy area and we stopped at the front entrance of the building to look for the address.
There was a group guys and one of them waves his hand at us and says get out of here. I said well is this 80 Schenectady? He responds no this is 60. I knew he was totally lying, so I said smartly, are you lying to me? He gave some ghetto sarcastic comment back and said get out of here or I'll throw bottles at you guys. I got a bit defensive and said yeah, okay, do it, while walking away. I am glad I didn't get stabbed or something. That was probably the most threatened I have ever felt. I was dumb to give attitude back to these gangsters. I get so frustrated and rebellious when people pull that stuff on me! I just get all "come at me bro" on people hahaha.

Again in a really rough area, our first encounter freaked me out. I had my iPad out and I was looking for the next person we were going to look for when this lady came up to me and said in a flirty way, "take a picture of me", and she put her hand right on my belt buckle! I was just like woah! Get thee hence woman. She was totally drunk.The next one was when we went to go talk to a woman who was in a wheel chair outside and a friend of hers (who also was drunk and high on weed) started preaching all the doctrine she knew from the scriptures saying we were wrong and what not. Right in the middle of this conversation, another lady comes up more friendly asks us if we were Mormon. We responded with a confident yes. Then she asked "Is it true that your church wouldn't allow black people?" I was just like, you've got to be kidding me. Some of the young teenagers that heard her say that, followed by my yes to her response, were like "for reals". It was bad.
Plus we still had this crazy lady preaching!

Earlier this week as I was praying, I said "Father, I love Thee".
After I said that paraphrased words came into my mind from the scripture in 1 John 4:20- "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar". I was taken aback. I realized that I needed to repent and have more charity towards those around me. I made a mental note to try and be better at this, but didn't really know how exactly.
Then during weekly planning in our companionship inventory, I blew up at Elder Goodson. I told him all the things that I was frustrated with towards him. I could tell it made him defensive and angry. I continued to ponder on what I did and wasn't so sure why I allowed that to happen. I had never done something like that to anyone. Then I realized that I was just picking at his faults and as his trainer trying to find the areas he needed to improve on, thus beholding all his weaknesses. I lost sight of who he really was. I became a liar as I was not loving my brother. I was letting a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved. It is cool to see the Lord trying to teach me when I am struggling in unique ways. I was allowing this to boil up inside and didn't realize it.

Saturday morning we went to the temple with some of the young men in the branch! It was great. We went with Harold and Isaiah Myers and brought Jeremy Perez along with us. We just did baptisms for the dead, but it was nice to be in the temple with the young men. Elder Goodson and I baptized each other as well which was a nice treat.

Last night we had our Operation Shepherd in the Bushwick 1st Branch.
The branch has 755 Members on the roles with 400 unknown people. We gathered a total of around 50 people and sent them off with some prepared lists and maps to find them. It was a lot of fun and many miracles happened too! This activity is such a blessing to the branch.

Well, I am still loving Bushwick and continuing to work hard. Though home is on my mind frequently it doesn't make me forget the sacred nature of my calling and the covenants I have made to devote everything I have to the Lord.


Elder Hooper

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week 100 - 23 months!!

This Tuesday (Oct 14th) is my 23rd month mark. Time sure does fly!

We have an investigator with a baptismal date for November 2nd! We are
super excited! We taught him the Plan of Salvation and talked about
the Doctrine of Christ. He said "all I need to do is work on the
Doctrine of Christ. I need to get baptized too." We were just like,
yes you do! We committed him and he said yes. We then said that he
would need to come to church. He said, "well can I call you guys
Saturday if I am going"? I then said "what is keeping you from
coming?" He sat and started thinking. Tears formed a bit in his eyes
and then he said, I don't know. The direct impression that came to my
mind is that he feels guilty and not good enough to come to church. I
asked him if that is the way he felt. He ashamedly said yes. We
comforted him and explained how that is so not true. He felt relief
and we asked him if we could go to church with him. He agreed! He is a
good man and needs the gospel! We picked him up and traveled to the
church with him running into a few members on the bus too! He really e
joyed it and all the talks were about love overcoming fears and
overcoming the challenges in the world. It was perfect.

After church we were walking down the street doing some look ups and I
was staring at a car that had something under its wheel, turned a way,
but then something caught my eye under the other side of the tire. It
was a crunched $20 bill! I was shocked! I grabbed it of course. My
companion and I are going out to eat! Following our dinner with the
Myers family. We headed over to the church to watch the broadcast of
the fireside in Manhattan where Elder L. Tom Perry was speaking for
the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair. It was not coming through on
the church's satellite system, but through a live Internet feed. Our
iPads were not compatible with the feed due to the restrictions that
have been installed on it. After downloading some forbidden apps,
putting the iPad at the microphone so we could hear it since the video
feed was dead, and trying other devices, Elder Morse and I still had
some tricks up our sleeve. We wanted to at least watch Elder Perry
would speak. We went to the Clerk's office computer, disassembled it,
and hooked it up to the tv! It worked! It was a hassle. We got it all
hooked up just in time to hear and see him speak.

So, I had a cool experience after my interview with President
Calderwood. I went into the hallway and I reverently prayed and talked
with God about my desire to gain a stronger testimony of him. I have
been having many "logic vs. faith" like questions and they were
irritating me. I went back into my life and thanked him for all the
blessings I had received. While doing this, my mind went back into a
period of my life that was extremely difficult, but that I hold sacred
to me. It shaped me to who I am today. I directly saw the hand of God
in my life. I know that he directed those few years in my life. I know
that God is there!

I had a really cool conversation with a girl on the train today. We
got on the train and she sees my name tag and squints to look at it. I
showed it to her and she asked what church we belong too. I went and
sat next to her and had a really good conversation. She asked what our
church was like, so I explained the purpose of our sacrament meetings
which led into her asking about who Christ is to us. I explained the
Doctrine of Christ, which answered her question about how do we know
if we are doing what God wants us to? I read from Helaman 5, then 2
Nephi 31 and told her that God expects to live Christ's doctrine. She
thanked me for sharing what I did with her. She has been searching for
truth. It was cool!

My birthday was great as well! Thanks to all who wished me a happy
birthday. Grandpa and Grandma Hooper, thanks so much for the letters!!
I also got a fun package from my family. It was a fun day.

I am looking forward to another week in Bushwick!


Elder Hooper

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 99 - 5 weeks to go.... You want me to do what..?

So early this week we had our transfer meeting! Since neither my companion or I were being transferred, we weren't planning on going to the transfer meeting until we got word that President Calderwood had a surprise for us. Last time this happened there was a change in all the boundaries of the zones, so I had no idea what was going to happen. After the meeting was over he announced that he had a prescreening of Meet the Mormons. I was stoked! I haven't watched a legit movie for 2 years! I was instantly hooked in the stories. This movie is awesome, so you should all go find a theater it is showing in and see it!

So I taught English class! That's right, I taught people who speak no English to speak English without knowing their language. It was super fun! I was on a split with the ASL elders so they could pass off an investigator of theirs over to us and then we could still teach a new individual as well. After we finished, my companion and I were supposed to split with the Zone Leaders so they could teach English class and a lesson. However, we were super late and would make them late to their lesson. They asked if I could just teach their English class. At first I was like, shoot, I don't even know Spanish! I haven't ever taught a class like this. I told them I would since I already committed to help them, but was late. I totally made it all up as I went and it was actually pretty fun! The lesson was on helping someone move. Words like heavy, light, load, help, call, friend, neighbor, etc, was what I was teaching. After a while I didn't know where else to go and I just had the thought to tie in some gospel topics into the words too! I talked about how sin gives us a "heavy load" and repentance makes our "load light". They liked that a lot. I then talked about how Christ taught us who our neighbor was and I joked about how Puerto Ricans have a small feud with Dominicans, but Christ taught us that even they are all our "neighbors" and we should "help" them. Another one was about sometimes we hold others back from blessings by turning their help away. I tied that into Peter walking on water with Christ and illustrated him rejecting Christ's help- why would you say no when you are drowning! Then I used the words the Peter and said to Christ and put into the lesson terms, "will you help me"? It was all perfect. I know the Lord helped me a ton in that lesson. I had no idea how to do this. It was amazing how well I did haha. Thankfully the Lord helped me by putting lots of ideas into my mind.

Conference was awesome! It has been by far the best conference I have ever heard- it is all exactly what I needed to hear. Something that I realized is that I have gained a strong testimony by hearing the words of others and that is a spiritual gift- "To others it is given to believe on their words". However, I have felt that that is not enough for me to continue my life where I am currently. I am counseled to seek all spiritual gifts and I have felt impressed that I should seek the spiritual gift which entails "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God". I do know that this Gospel is true, but need to seek a further witness.

Every talk that was given was telling me the exact same thing- I should work on receiving my own witness by asking God. I have never really done this. I have never asked God for a witness of the Book of Mormon. I did once, but it came by applying what I read. I do know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but I have never asked God if he was. I have never asked God if this church was true, I just know it- by their fruits ye shall know them. I am excited to pursue this.

Well, it is time to go shopping, woohoo!


Elder Hooper