Thursday, October 9, 2008

well hello everyone!

Well i arrived in the phoenix airport on tuesday and the mission president met us at the airport (with sister Bassett). we went to the mesa Temple's visitor's center, and then over to the mission home for a bit where we learned some stuff and eventually were assigned (after interviews with President Bassett) companions. my companion is Elder Howell, from Rexburg. He's a great elder and trainer and so i am excited. funny though, after we went to our house - which is very nice, i'll explain it later - we started driving to a "referral". i kept asking Elder Howell how we got it but he didn't answer me really anything. so we got there, started teaching this family (the Bennetts) and then about halfway through after some funny questions and elder Howell saying about two sentences and turning it over to me right away (at least 4 times), Brother Bennett revealed they were members and i was duped. it was kind of good - got out the wiggles (some) about teaching right away.

well so our house is way nice - we're with the zone leaders Elder Olsen and Elder Erikson. it's a member's house that they turned over to the missionaries. we have two bathrooms and a sweet backyard with a bball hoop. also chickens (the roosters are way annoying, we have like 7 for some reason so 24/7 crowing) oh and a bunny named thumper (he's the only cool animal). elder Howell and I would normally ride bikes but he hurt his ankle a little while ago so we have the Zone Leaders' car (hehe) for at least one or two more weeks.

well this week was awesome. I'm in the Citrus heights and a little of the Mountain View stake in Mesa. I've got 7 wards in my area and so we are ALWAYS busy with referrals and investigators.

It is great to be on a mission, at dinner last night there was one of the kids who (at the member's house) after finding out i had been out for 5 days said "well you'd better start counting down, two years to go!" in the meaning that like, dang you have that long until you can go home - that stinks. that is not at all why i am here. i wouldn't be anywhere else, if i could be a missionary for longer than two years i would be, and i will be because i know already i'll be forever a missionary after i get back unless i lose track of what's important. this is such important work, and if i felt like i was here because i "have to be" i wouldn't be effective. i can't put in words, i've been trying this whole paragraph but it isn't doing it well enough, how important this work is and how much i am so grateful that i can be here doing it. is there better than being a missionary for the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints? in the words of Brother taylor at the MTC "i don't think so.." and in my own words "I KNOW so". I've only been here a week so i don't know if what we've been doing has been changing our investigators' lives, but i can feel as i'm teaching them and loving them that the spirit is telling me (to everyone so far i've felt it) that they NEED the gospel and they will be happier and all of their problems and trials (that are many with a lot of our investigators) can and WILL be made better/easier to bear with the gospel of Jesus Christ through his atonement. gosh i feel like nephi in 2 ne 33 i think, where he says his writing feels weak and i can't say what i'd like to. well, enough of my preaching to the choir.

so i'm out here for a reason, and you'll understand why if you do what i've done, which is read the scriptures every day for 2+ years, and try to every day learn what i can to better and how i can be a better person. everyone reading this - NEVER let an opportunity to grow or become a better person (which is, if you are having trouble figuring it out: anything relating to the Church and prompted by the spirit. so church every week, scriptures daily, every dumb little meeting or "fireside" or devotional or seminary. what are you doing if you're not doing those things? hmmm.. how should i say this? you are making yourself and your life worthless, meaningless, and less happy. so why do those things? you're right! good you know why - they're dumb so you won't do them.

well i couldn't end on that because that is a little bit of a frustrating part of this life and we're not here to get tired or frustrated either. we're here to be happy. I'm so thankful that heavenly father and Jesus Christ love us - and they do. if you don't think so read the before sentence . and if you still don't read it until you realize that truth, because whether we know it or not they DO love us, and so do I, and this church is so true - the Book of Mormon does bring a man/woman closer to god, more so than any other book. and it might sound funny but were here separated from god so we can get back to him - and i'm so glad we can, i almost can't wait. imagine seeing him and feeling his love. that's why we have to be clean, i couldn't imagine the guilt and anguish if we saw him face to face and remembered all of those things we did that he warned us not to do. i think i would explode. good thing we'll be transfigured! ah once again the church is true. live it, love it.

well after my bantering ( i think i need to write in my journal a little more/better so that i'm not venting so much on email...), i am not feeling that you should pray for any investigators in particular. definitely pray for them though, that their minds and hearts will be opened and know God's plan for them. but i would like to be specific and selfish and ask for prayers for my companion and I. I am the lords servant, but so imperfect. even though the spirit is there at every lesson i am always seeing how i could do better and it's just so much i need to get better at. and i know what you mean dad by the spirit is all that's important. it is true, but it is needful that i feel my weaknesses and also try to get better at saying with more boldness and clarity and also addressing my investigator's needs better with just the lesson (less tangents) and asking questions (better questions) better so that i can get to know my investigators better. so much to do but i know that with the lord's help and your prayers i can do it. ( i could do it with just the lord's help, but your prayers would really speed up and help my process of learning, i know it would).

well we set a baptismal date with one investigator, hope things keep going well. have some other progressing ones too. Church was great and Sunday was great taught 3 lessons! taught like 3 others before that on Saturday - the week was rough, no lessons because of no show's, things happening, etc.

oh and i remembered, i'll close on a sweet experience. There is this less active man and his mother and sister died when he was 14 and his life took a lot of bad turns until he decided to get away from his old life in SLC and moved down here. he basically tears up every time we come over, but he feels so weighed down by his troubled past. we were talking with him and his friend about what ward they wanted/needed to go to, etc.. and elder Howell asked him if he wanted a blessing because he is in a tight situation and doesn't know what to do. he was going to ask us anyways, so you can see how my companion is in tune. he said that whoever needed more experience should do the sealing and blessing part. of course that meant me, which i was hoping wasn't going to be the case. but, because of a different great experience in the MTC i accepted totally. i gave him a blessing and my legs were shaking so much is was scary. but i feel i did well and the lord did get in at least a couple words to him. i feel like it was just what he needed. a very sweet experience like a day or two into my mission. thanks to a great example in the MTC. well i'll end with that - thanks so much mom for sending those letters from Matt, Jordan, and Landon. and i also got my bedding (on wed) so thanks! love you all and talk to you next preparation day (mondays)

Elder Hoopes

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