Monday, February 23, 2009

From Alec: February 23, 2009

Hello from Mesa!

Thank you everyone for your emails (and in some cases letters). I love every bit of anything I get in the mailbox or the inbox.

That is pretty crazy that you were so close to me, Mom & Dad. Tia Rosa's (I've eaten there!) is in my 1st area, and the owners of the restaurant live in our area now. Funny thing, when I was in there I thought to myself - "Dad would absolutely love this place..."

In reference to Dad's email, I have come to realize covenants (and goals, too) are so important. It is by making and keeping covenants, such as taking upon us His name, and the other baptism, sacrament, and temple covenants, that we become like Christ and are given power to bless others, which of course blesses us immensely.

Well, this week was a pretty good one. We did have a bunch of lessons not turn out (between no-shows and cancellations) but we did everything we could and I think it showed. We did have this lesson with an eternigator (so called) that was amazing. He's only about 24 or so. His teaching record is very interesting (3 pages too!) He was taught, then set a baptismal date and his family apparently freaked out and he pulled back and said he didn't want to talk about baptism anymore (this is all on the record). But looking at the record I realized that he may have seemed like he was not progressing or an eternigator to the missionaries who were only in an area for a few weeks, yet may well have been progressing. So with some advice from the district in our district meeting, we went and taught, and it was a great lesson - he really just wants to do good things and feel his Heavenly Father's love. Too often I think we missionaries and members get too down on people and after they accomplish something good we ask then more of them, and yet we never stop to praise or reward good actions sometimes, which is oh-so important. We all want to know that what we are doing is acceptable to the Lord, and that does not mean that we are perfect. It means we are trying our hardest, and we are repenting (a long process!). Hopefully we can keep working with him and he can keep focused with the distractions of work, school, and the temptations he'll face. But especially I hope that he'll be converted unto the Lord.

I love you all, and keep doing your best and obeying the promptings of the Spirit, which is anything which enticeth to do good!

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: February 23, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Arizona winters are wonderful! The palm trees and cacti are bizarre and beautiful. We went to the botanical gardens where the ancient native canals are located and it was cool to see all the varieties of cactus and trees. I loved all the citrus trees everywhere, and the Spanish and adobe style of homes. Grandpa is like a bear in his natural habitat, and is surrounded by old friends and family where he is appreciated, admired and loved. He and Ruth Ann are comfortable and contented together. We stopped to see Grandpa's sister, Marilyn, and she mentioned that she had recognized you out of a bunch of missionaries at the Mesa Temple. She has a good memory, because she hasn't seen you since the family reunion 6 years ago in Alpine, AZ. We ate at the Landmark Restaurant that was an old converted LDS church, and at Tia Rosa's, which I believe is close to your area.

Did you get the package we sent? I'm concerned about Rachel's cookies because we packed them warm so you probably had crumbs instead of cookies at your end. We are all doing well, except I came down with a head cold which I am determined will be gone in a few days; I'll use the neti pot and take a steady stream of vitamin C. I have to go to weight train now, so I'll write a little more later,



Thursday, February 19, 2009

From Alec: Happy (after) President's Day

Hello everybody!

Glad to hear from all of you, it sounds like things are going well for everyone the most part. I did receive the Valentine's Day package from you, Mom - thanks so much! Oh and a little fact that will probably weird you out is that Grandpa lives no more than 5 minutes from me I am pretty sure, if he's on the road I think he is from his letter he sent me in the MTC then yeah. Whatever "info" you have that you think I should read I am totally fine with that - Karene has sent some awesome talks from general authorities and stuff that I really appreciate.

Well, this week wasn't as good as it could have been - we weren't as diligent as we should have been to try and reach the goals and standards we set last week with our amazing effort, but I already feel like we're picking up this week too. I guess part of it might be that we got to go to the temple yesterday - that was really nice of course.

I don't really have any certain thing I feel like talking about today - so I'll be brief and I guess talk about our area.

We live in a two-bedroom apartment (pretty roomy for 2 missionaries) at the north end of our area. We've only got at the most 1 1/2 square miles as our area (the 1/2 maybe because we technically cover Mountain View High School). We cover 4 wards, and one is the stake singles ward. There are amazing members who help us out so much, when we actually get (and it happens) investigators who really "get" how things are, the wards do an amazing job to just welcome them in. It makes our job 100% easier. I really don't know how you could improve an area without the ward's help. You could maybe baptize a few people, or a lot really, but only a few really solid ones would stay if the ward in the area didn't help us. I bet Jon, Karene, Ben, and Dad have experiences that relate.

We do a lot of work with less-actives and some recent converts, because like I said our investigator pool is only the size of a hot-tub. But I never feel like I am wasting my time because the keys and authority we carry are almost tangible at times, and they bless the lives of non-members and members alike.

We've had a hard time getting a hold of two of what used to be our solid investigators in the singles ward,so that is a little saddening. Delay is one of Satan's biggest and most used tools; we say we'll do it next week and then we get busy and eventually forget about spiritual things when we don't nurture our spirits. But then how amazing is it when you think of how many people come into the church every day, triumphing over the temptations of the devil and choosing happiness! Man, that just gets you going as a missionary!

I love you all and hope you choose happiness as well!!!!

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: Happy President's Day

Dear Alec,

Hope you get this. Did you get your Valentine care package yet? I am also mailing your other stuff tomorrow when the post office reopens.

It's already been a busy morning and I just got back from weight training and realized that I hadn't emailed you. I was supposed to watch Jen and Merl's kids this weekend but Sara came down with the stomach flu so its postponed for two weeks. So this weekend we spent moving Rachel's room. And moving furniture upstairs. We are all doing great. Guess what, Dad is training in Scottsdale this weekend so I am going with and we will be visiting with Grandpa and Ruth Ann from Thursday until Saturday evening. We will make sure not to run into you, but it will be nice to see the area where you are teaching.

I got a call yesterday from Chad Carr. He is loving BYU Idaho and looking forward to putting his mission papers in this summer. He said again how much he loved staying with us those few weeks and that it marked an important time in his life when he was making big decisions. He felt it was a great influence staying with us, and you and Harry were great friends to him.

I was teaching in Acts about the conversion of Cornelius, and how Peter as the prophet was given the revelation that the church was to go to the gentiles. The Seminary curriculum directs us to make the connection to the 1978 revelation that the priesthood and temple blessings are available also to the blacks. It has been so exciting to teach this and I have some wonderful info that you might be interested in reading. If you are, just let me know.

Well, I'll send this off so you can get it this morning,


Monday, February 9, 2009

From Alec: Happy February 9th!

Hello Everybody!

If I don't get a chance to email everyone who emailed me, I apologize. I am slow at emailing, I think, because I'm the missionary who takes the most time (within "legal" missionary bounds, of course).

I am glad you are enjoying you're seminary teaching, Mom. Never feel like you are not doing anything for the kids because I can list my seminary teachers with the men who have affected my life very deeply. I will be forever grateful to them - I can imagine seeing them in the life after this and hugging them and thanking them for their love. And yes, God gives no "filler" scriptures - they all have a purpose. I actually like to play a game sometimes and it is really edifying; when I read scriptures (it's easier in the BOM, but possible, of course, everywhere) to try and link every verse to something profound or spiritual (and that can even be done in the war chapters). Another thing I've noticed that goes along those lines of every word counting coming from the Lord, He never gives "filler" commandments either. They're all for a specific reason that we will all be grateful for when we eventually realize His reasons and love and patience.

I have thought about that, Dad (Scott mentioned that Elder Holland voiced concern over a percentage of returned missionaries becoming inactive). Of course that always has bugged me, as well as young men in the church who do not serve missions. I have always wanted to serve a mission, even before Ben left, or Karene, or Jon. and not because I was "misinformed" or not told about the hardship or it's just something "natural" for me to do (it's not - I have struggled immensely with certain aspects, as we all will and should). I knew in my heart that it was vital for me to accomplish - and therefore I wanted it. I knew it would be hard, but I knew it would be worth it. It's like a certain song that I wanted to learn on guitar. It was far beyond my ability to learn early on - but I loved the song. (It's "Landslide" by the way - the Fleetwood Mac version is so sweet) So I worked at it and worked at it. It sounded nothing like the song, or any song, in the beginning, but I eventually got it down and it is now probably the one I enjoy playing the most. That is how life is.

Anyways I went on a huge tangent!
So back to inactive RM's - I do agree with what you're saying, Dad. I am grateful I was able to keep myself from watching TV and I can see great blessings in my life because of it. This life is all about learning how to choose what is Good (or Best - Brother Oak's talk!) and just watching movies because they are cool or entertaining is rebelling against that simple principle.

So this week was a great one - we worked really hard to set up as many lessons as we could and talk to everyone we saw and we were able to get the 20 lessons (with Heavenly Father's help, of course) which is the goal set by Elder Perry, and our street contacts improved as well. It was a sweet experience last night when we taught our last lesson to get 20 lessons exactly. We exercised faith and Heavenly Father was merciful. One of our investigators who seemed solid but then didn't come to church one Sunday and we weren't able to set up appointments for like 3 weeks showed up again this Sunday and said he will call us to set up something. We really hope he can find the courage to be baptized because it is what he needs so desperately right now. There's also this 10 year old girl who has been a foster kid for one family in the ward, and the papers have been signed by her biological parents to let the family adopt and so she'll finally get baptized! She is awesome and so smart.

There is this family that just moved into one of our wards from my last area that we taught. It's a rough situation - husband was baptized way back when but has a bad back and severe depression, so he doesn't work. The mom is working but just isn't understanding that we talk about isn't merely "nice to hear" or good, it is vital - spiritually. Baptism is for the remission of sins and progression (the gate) not just membership in a social group. She has three boys and the middle one came to church alone yesterday! He is so awesome. it might take a long time but of course it will be worth it.

I'm so thankful for the Savior and His love for us - if you read 3 Nephi 17 the Savior heals the sick and afflicted, blesses their children, prays for the people "unspeakable" things which fill the people with such joy they are "overcome", fallen to the ground. It is only after those things that the Christ says " joy is full", and He weeps. What marvelous love! Karene sent me a talk about Christ that enlightened my understanding of His character - and it reminded me of this marvelous love. I can't express how I feel about Him, and the words "marvelous love" do not come close to expressing what He feels for us - I guess I understand why what He prayed cannot be written; the words would just not do them justice. I love you all and hope you think about the Savior every day - it will bring an added measure of the Spirit.

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: Happy February 9th

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Hope you are doing well. Here it is chilly and foggy. Hilde and I just walked about 3 miles so we are warming up in front of the fire. says you are going to get some rain today and tomorrow and your temperatures will be in the 50s, a lot warmer than here obviously. We are all doing well. It will be quiet here this week because Dad is off to Oregon all week to speak. And I took Caitlyn and Bandit down to Utah to her brother's home on Saturday. Finally, after being in foster care for over 13 months, she was reunited with her family. It would have happened a lot sooner if her mother hadn't fought it the whole way. She was excited to go, but also sad to leave the friends she had made and a school that she had come to enjoy, (in spite of the uniform policy).

I got to stay overnight at Jon and Nicole's. They are doing great. I think that Jon must wake up every morning and say, "I am the luckiest man in the world!" They are leaving on Valentine's Day for their belated honeymoon: a Mexican cruise. How do you spell "spoiled"? J-O-N.

I'm happy to report that this early morning seminary teacher is learning a lot. Who knows if the kids are getting anything, but they are all so incredible, it probably doesn't matter. I am finding that as I study the New Testament, I come across puzzling passages, that, in my pre-seminary-teaching days, I would pause over, then shrug my mental shoulders and move on. But because I feel that I have to understand before I can teach, those passages become a spiritual workout, and I do a lot of "heavy lifting" searching and praying, until I can understand, master and explain the concepts and applications. I've come to understand that there are no "fillers" in the scriptures, that the recorded revelations, experiences and prophecies are there on purpose. I have been eating just the croutons at the feast of the scriptures. I was content to absorb the things that my mind could grasp without effort, while all along, there before me, was the mind of God.

And the love of God, which surpasses my understanding.

May you feel a portion of His love this week.

And add it to the love I send to you,



From Alec: Happy Groundhog's Day

Hey Fam!

Thanks for the email! I almost didn't get it though - this email system only updates if I hit refresh so you could email 5 min after I log on and I'd never know you emailed me. So I'm trying to hit refresh every once and a while now.

The Ellsworth's (Bro Bowden's sis's fam) are inspirational. She, of course, is awesome and so is Brother Ellsworth. They are just great people. I had a chance, as Bro Bowden probably mentioned, to go to Ethan's funeral. I was glad we could make it.

So I've got a new comp - he was in the MTC with Elder Case so i'm still a senior companion. He's a redhead from small-town florida. He doesn't talk much but he's a great elder. I'm excited to be with him, though this first week felt like a year. (first weeks of transfers are always like that).

We taught this lady this week - she is awesome, she said she wanted to be baptized in the first lesson. Her boyfriend is a less-active member and he's coming back too, so just happy all around!

I know what you mean about Dad and his being lifted by the Spirit. I love the phrase about the Spirit which "quickeneth all things" . That is so true, if there is ever a hard time in life, the presence of the Spirit can wipe away all fears, doubts, concerns, and exhaustion. The times when you're trying hardest to serve the Lord are the times when you find yourself being lifted up in almost a truely physical sense. I've found that on my mission, it can be very tiring going and going and spiritually striving constantly, but one good prayer or lesson or prompting can erase any tiredness or frustration.

I feel so much that that is one of the biggest noticeable differences between those who follow the Lord and are worthy of his Spirit. They're just "brighter", "happier", there's a light in their eyes. The guy who got baptized who lives just below us was living with his girlfriend for a while - she was a less-active. We were talking with our WML (ward mission leader) about her and we both agreed she now seems happier and more outgoing. The best way I can describe it is that her face just seems "brighter". Seriously. I know without a doubt that the church is true and that the Lord with his loving understanding uses the Spirit to help us and quicken our lives and relationships, including our relationship with Him. Have a great week!

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: Happy Groundhog's Day

Dear Elder Hoopes,

We got your letter this week, and loved to hear from you. Dad and I are planning on serving several missions and have been trying to set aside retirement and pay off our home and office completely. We are making progress, however a top priority also is getting you kids through college so that has been slowing us down considerably, but I think all in all we are doing great because of the Lord's help.

Brother Bowden said that you looked wonderful, and very missionaryish, and spoke with great love and admiration about his sister and her family and the inspiration that they are.

We are doing so well. Caitlyn had the hearing last week with the judge who approved the transfer down to her family in Utah. The wheels of government bureaucracy grind slowly, slowly on, and she will move in a week, or a
month, there. She seems to be excited to go, sad to leave her friends here, opposed to starting a new school, and frustrated, as we are, that she has so little control over her life right now.

Dad was in Denver for several days last week, and today he leaves for a couple of days in Montana. His clinic hours are packed as he is doing so much travelling. He is pretty busy as Bishop but he says that he finds his time counseling with people and their problems actually uplifting because the Spirit takes over and teaches for him. That is a great blessing. He observes that he couldn't imagine being a Bishop with a young family because he would never see his children. This call has come to him at the right stage of his life.

Seminary is going well. I know that I am feeling the Spirit and learning so much. I hope that some of the kids are feeling that as well. You are awesome, and we love you soooooo much!