Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From Alec Week of 11/17/08

it's the fam!

sounds like everyone is doing well - except mom with the sickness.

as a reply to the package thing - i would love some vitamins as a matter of fact - i have been out for a little bit. care package requests... i can't think of anything specific - if you're sending a package big enough i guess you could fit in my white nikes that i used to use for basketball - but only if it just fits - i was thinking of just getting something cheap here. (if you do that you could put in a headband too!). but those are just things that would be nice. When the Christmas package comes around though i love those chocolate oranges (all of the flavors).

We are doing awesome though. last week we had the biggest lunch. we got this turkey from albertsons for like $7 so we had a huge turkey and mashed potatoes lunch one day. it felt like thanksgiving.

last week was not very good for us number's wise. it made me a little frustrated because it is hard to take over an area after only 6 weeks in. i'm still learning how to be a missionary! it's hard but we are working hard. The spirit is so important for us - all of us. i think it's a verse in 1 nephi 10 that says that the gentiles will not see jesus christ, rather they shall have the holy ghost as their witness. he is the reason we know and the reason we do everything that has to do with the church. i've gotten lots of comfort knowing that i am not the one (as an imperfect being) truly responsible for the teaching of these souls in my area. heavenly father sent me to carry it, but mainly he sent the spirit to teach and let everyone know - that is very comforting to know that if i mess up in lessons because i am human, that it really isn't me that teaches, but the spirit. my mission plaque scripture bears witness of this idea - john 15:26 &27. i've come to realize here how awesome that scripture is.

so the lesson for everyone not immersed in missionary work every minute: it should be the same for me as for you, the spirit is your witness to you, and it is our job to be clean/pure vessels of the spirit so we can know what we need to do to follow Christ's example and also help others feel the spirit and invite them to Christ. it's the reason we're here really. it's funny to think about actually! we're here on earth separated from God so that we can return to live with him again... it's true but that almost paradox makes me laugh. it's like heavenly father dropped us off at the beginning of the maze so we can get back to the end where he lives. anyways i'm beating the dead horse.

hey mom: just a word about seminary. i loved it so much, and even though i couldn't tell you for sure if the teachers loved teaching the class (because that would be stressful), but i could tell you that they loved the class. they loved what was taught and they loved us and wanted us to love it too. i can really say i felt that and that makes a huge difference. the sensitive/participating kids will feel your love for them first, and then think about it more and realize that you love the gospel - then hopefully they'll realize how much happiness they can get from it so they will love it too. wow i feel preachy but i that's kindof a thank-you to my seminary/ sundayschool/missionprep teachers. hey, if brother mitchell is still in seminary tell Rachel to give him some of my emails or letters or pictures or something. and tell him he rocks.

i had the chance to go to the temple today, that was awesome. and yes we'll be helping with the lights there i think even. talk to you next week!

Elder Hoopes
well i love you all and the lord -

Alec's First Area:

To Alec, From Mom

Dear Alec,

How are you this week? We are doing awesome, except that I came down with a head cold that marched down my throat to my larynx and now down to my bronchial tubes. At least I had a hoarse voice for seminary this morning. But I'm feeling a lot better than yesterday. Hopefully no-one else will in the fam will get it.

I hope you are healthy. Do you need more vitamins? Any requests for a care package? Everyone at church is always asking how you are doing, and asking me to give you their love. You will probably be using the Mesa Temple Christmas light display as a place to take investigators so you will be able to see it yourself.

I am going to buy a goat for Christmas-to be sent to a needy family in Africa. Don't worry, you're not going to get it. We learned about the parable of the good Samaritan in seminary, so we are going to send a goat and some chickens to some people as a class. We also talked about how we can be good Samaritan everyday as we respond to those who have needs all around us. By the way, the answer to the seminary student's question of "Where does Satan get his power?" is "We give it to him." I am starting to look forward to seminary, although I still really enjoy the days I don't have to teach, as well so I guess it is all good.

Isn't the Gospel great, joy in this life and heaven too in the next!! I am always amazed at how much the Lord loves us and blesses us, in spite of our self-sabotage. Well I must go,

Love you soooooo much,


Monday, November 10, 2008

From: Alec, 11/10/08

People really are funny - and I'm being nice and euphemistic when I say that this time. It is a very prevalent thing in this world that people only want temporal salvation. I understand that to some people that that is all that they know about so that is slightly excusable - just like the Lamanites' blindness. But when people have heard the real story, and by that I mean the plan of salvation and the gospel, for example those who followed Jesus around because he fed them, that is just so wrong. But then again most of those people are just like the pharisees who see but do not see - the truth is there and they see it but they do not comprehend it. Also it's much like the brass serpent - just look and you'll be healed but that would just be too easy for some of us.

It is pretty scary that God respects people's agency so much. But agency is truly sacred. Without agency the plan would have been impossible; the whole idea of the plan of salvation revolves around our agency. I do respect other people's agency, even if I know they'll make bad choices because I know that through the merciful atonement of Christ and that everything can and will be made right.

I don't know if I respect Rachel's choice to bring out the Christmas music already - it's just criminal to do that before Thanksgiving. It's disrespecting the holiday! "That make Squanto not heap glad." (or whatever famous Native American that was).

Well, this week with Elder Pongi was great - we did well and worked hard, which is a relief considering I took over the area of all these people. We had a great lesson last night; because of the faith of all present the Spirit was in the room so strong, especially with a beautiful testimony of a 18 year old friend of the investigator. Members are so key to every conversion. We as missionaries can run around like chickens and teach lots of people, but what really makes the difference is regular members present at the lessons also testifying and inviting the investigator to church.

Hopefully I'll have time to send a couple pictures on another email, but know I love all of you. By the way - I think it would be a great idea for the family to have a copy of Preach My Gospel. Not having that is like trying to build a building without knowing what tools and material you have/need, or what the building is supposed to do or look like. We are of the tribe of Ephraim and are therefore expected to bring the gospel "unto all nations". I feel we're not accomplishing our purpose here on earth if we do not do our best to be member missionaries, and the only real way is to have the PMG. More than one would be good as well - just like he says in the Reebok commercial : "What is better than having one linebacker in your office? And the answer to that is having two linebackers in your office."

Elder Hoopes

To: Alec, From Mom 11/9/08

Hello family and friends of the Alec! This is Karene (his older sister). I was reading through Elder Hoopes' letter this week and noticed that my mom's email to him was attached at the bottom. I realized how great it was to read what she wrote and then his response. And it is pretty spiritually uplifting. Definitely something our family will want to have a record of.

So I will start posting letters from other family members to Alec too. I will label them as To: Alec, so you can easily skip over them if you want. Anyway, here's Mom's letter:

Dear Alec,

We got your picture CD and it was awesome to see all those pictures. I couldn't help but notice that you were filming while you were riding your bike, and your hands weren't on the handlebars. After Caitlyn's disastrous bike flip, I think it would be a great idea if you were extra cautious when you ride. Give the angels who are round about you a break! Caitlyn is healing beautifully. She got the stitches out on Thursday and the scabs have given way to new pink skin. I'm not sure of all the reasons, but she seems a lot happier, and is just very sweet and helpful.

There isn't a lot of news, just the routine care and service to family and friends. It's all good.

I got pulled into a situation in the ward where there is a family who is not at all active, and their teenage kids are having real difficulties, and the Dad is out of work. Their landlady called here and asked me if the Bishop was going to pay their back rent for them. (Dad didn't discuss anything confidential with me, these are things that I observed on my own.) I found it interesting that this family only wanted financial help. They don't want to come to church, and have the emotional support of a ward family to lift themselves and their teenagers. They don't want help changing their lives in any way so they could have the Spirit guide and teach them. They just wanted to be saved from financial disaster, or temporal salvation.

It reminded me of everything I've been teaching in the Gospels this semester. Thousands followed Jesus for a time because He fed them; they also sought a temporal salvation. Most of the Jews wanted political salvation only, they were waiting for a Messiah to free them from bondage to the Romans, not from bondage to Satan. Some who were sick wanted healing, but were content with physical salvation only, when He was offering so much more. Then there were
those who sought Jesus for spiritual healing. Those who were mentioned by name in the New Testament most likely became disciples of Christ, who found, at last, their spiritual Savior. "But whom say ye that I am?" "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

It is a wonderful thought, but also a terrifying thought that the Lord respects our agency so much, that we will get what we want most, and nothing more. As we read in Alma 41:3-7, we will find what we seek. And yet we feel somehow cheated if we are not happy at the end of the day, even when we insist on doing things that lead straight to unhappiness. (Alma 41:10) The bitterest people in the world are those who resent God for not allowing them to be self-centered and happy at the same time.

Well, God bless you and those you teach. You are carrying Living Water to a desert land.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Week of 11/3/2008

hey sorry this will be a short message - i wrote a huge one and then the time was up right as i clicked send - so i'm using another missionaries' time (he does have an extra library card).

transfers are tomorrow and my trainer, elder Howell is getting transferred out to be a zone leader in a different zone. i'm getting a tongan elder named Elder Pongi. i don't know how i'll be the one who knows the area but i hope everything goes well. it seems the lord always finds ways to stretch us. i think i'd rather be a district leader because i've been a church leader in the Aaronic priesthood and stuff like that. i just feel so inadequate for the people here and investigators. struggling a little with th fact that i'm here trying to help these certain people. but i'll be ok - with time everything will work out i've found out. i might doubt about something for a little while but my little lamp of faith will see me through every time. i do know that. (that lamp is faith in Jesus Christ and heavenly father). i guess that can apply to everyone in any type of hard time. it may sound like the typical "judean-christian" solution, as a very prideful man we talked to (thought he knew everything and was thus on a "higher level" than us, but you could easily tell he was miserable and still incomplete even with all of his study and intellect) would have said, but it is SO true. the faith that Jesus Christ suffered everything that we have and so therefore can help us through every rapid of life we come up against will lead us through things we didn't know were possible to overcome. that childlike faith that let Enos know the truth. also that let alma the younger completely change, and also to help Job get through his path through afflictions.

i hope caitlyn is ok - i had an over the handlebar experience when i was younger. i was fortunate enough to land on the top of my head and so the helmet helped me out.

i sent a picture CD recently - i hope it gets to you soon, sister burningham sent me a card telling me i should do it, and so i felt i probably should ;)

love you all, read your scriptures and have meaningful prayers. also go outside of your comfort zone, because that's where nothing gets done

Elder Hoopes