Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Alec: April 27, 2009

Hello family!

Glad to get the news from home,
Karene sent a letter with pictures from Rachel's prom. I liked your dress, Rachel, it looked good!

Well I am not doing the best - I got a sinus infection on Friday and it has messed with my throat so since Saturday I haven't had much of a voice. I'm thinking of getting an elder from the trio of the reservation elders in our district to just ride around with us. I just can't really teach or street contact very well. I'm fighting it but it's one of the harsher ones, but I hope it will go away this week.

My new companion is Elder Morgan from Spokane Valley WA. He is a good missionary who really wants to work hard. I still don't feel ready to train a new missionary, still lots of things I wanted to work on before I had some missionary copying everything I do. But the Lord calls us in our weakness on purpose. I just really hope I've learned enough humility and how to rely on the Lord.

On Tuesday when I first got Elder Morgan we were riding down the street and I asked him to contact this family walking on the sidewalk. He had seen me do it a couple of times and so he went up and did it. It was slightly awkward and it was a little funny looking at it from my point of view, but he trusted in the Lord and it actually turned out to be a very good street contact, a very good experience and I was very proud of Elder Morgan. Then the next morning we happened to stop by a less active who we usually teach every week but the transfers messed up the schedule. He was home and I quickly decided the story of Enos would be good (I guess the Spirit must have told me) because when we got to the last verse, he was reading it and he choked up and I felt the Spirit very strongly. I don't know why I didn't think of that verse for him specifically, he used to do drugs and really messed up his body, and he'll probably be on kidney dialysis in a month, so thinking about the life after this one in the way Enos described it was very sweet. I'm glad we were there to give it to him. The church is God's Kingdom here on Earth and this gospel can and does change people's lives. It is amazing what love can do. Dumbledore really was right when he told Harry the power Voldemort underestimated what led to his downfall. It was Love. Never lose faith in the power contained in the love and true doctrine of our Heavenly Father. Have a great week!

Elder Hoopes
P.S. I'll probably call home then like at 6 on Sunday the 10th.
P.P.S. Oh yeah, and a lady named Debbie got baptized on Thursday; she is great and the ward has done such an amazing job.
Just thought you'd like to know!

From Mom: April 27, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

We got the most awesome letter from President Bassett last week. He said that you were "an example of faith, diligence, obedience" and you had great ability to teach the gospel and are a fine missionary. God bless you as a trainer! You will be a wonderful friend and teacher. We will be praying for both of you and the people you are able to teach. I was thinking about Landon Frost, and how much he admires and has learned from his companions. They have always been so careful to help and encourage Landon, and that has made all the difference. I also remember that Jon told about his companions, and the ones that he really came to love were also where they were able to have the most success in teaching and baptizing. Jon told me that when companions are united and kind to each other, the Spirit was there and then the Lord could work through them. I guess that is also a life lesson that can help you in your work, church callings and most importantly, at home.

Sorry I didn't get to write last week, but I was in Vancouver helping Mom and Bob move apartments. It was pretty stressful for them because they were moving to an apartment half the size, so they had to sort through and give away a lot of stuff. But I think they will enjoy it because it is on the 16th floor and has an awesome view. It was cool because on Thursday the Relief Society President called the missionaries to come over and help move out 4 big pieces of furniture that they were giving away. One Elder was from Las Vegas, and the other was from Orange Co, CA. They were so sweet and helpful. I flew home and Dad picked me up Saturday night. But when Dad didn't get back on the freeway, I asked him why and he said he needed to go to an all-night pharmacy to pick up a prescription for Rachel because she has Pneumonia! She missed most of last week of school because she had a respiratory flu and now she will have to miss a couple more days. Poor thing. She also missed the dance festival on Saturday.

I'm looking forward to talking to you on Mother's Day! Our church is from 11-2 but Dad probably won't be home until 4 DST. I think that you are 1 hour ahead of us.

So this morning seminary was about pies and I brought 3 Marie Calendar pies to seminary. We talked about what makes a pie good and decided that among other things, it needs to have a flaky crust. But although we like flaky crusts, we don't like to have to depend on flaky people. So the lesson was really on how not to be flaky, how to be as committed as was Paul and the Savior, and how to increase our faith and our faithfulness. President Howard W. Hunter said: A successful life, the good life, the righteous Christian life requires something more than a contribution, though every contribution is valuable. Ultimately it requires commitment-whole-souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given. ["Standing As Witnesses of God," Ensign, May
1990, p. 62]

I think the kids liked the pies, at least. Hopefully they got the point.

I hope you have a great week in your new area. We are all praying for you,

Love, Mom

Monday, April 27, 2009

From Alec: April 20, 2009

How are you doing? I love to hear from you, all of the letters and emails are appreciated. Things are going well here - we have two baptism dates set up and easily one more, and of course hopefully a few more! And of course that doesn't mean everything.

Well, on Saturday night we were just heading to our ride's car to leave from a lesson, and our phone rang. I saw that it said "mission office" on it and I thought "Why would they call to give us a referral?" but I answered it with the customary greeting and the person on the other end said "Are you ready?" I asked, "To write something down?" and started fumbling with my planner. He replied "No not to write, but write it in your heart, ok?" At this moment I realized it was President Bassett's voice and he only calls on Saturday nights before transfers for a few reasons. He told me I would be training. Man I do not feel ready - I'm still trying to iron out a lot of things, I really don't feel ready to have a brand new missionary. Funny though, if you had asked me a couple transfers ago I would have said ok and felt ready. I guess it's only when we realize our weaknesses that Heavenly father can bless us. But I'll definitely need prayers and lots of divine intervention. I'll find out on Tuesday at about 2:30 or 3 who my new golden is. I wonder when I will ever have a companion for longer than a transfer... Elder Sexton is going up north to the reservation by Payson. It will be about Boise weather up there (it sounds like), so he lucked out in some ways!

We had a great lesson with D. on Saturday. We only had about 20 minutes before our next (rock solid) appointment, but we were able to watch the slideshow from the Reflections of Christ DVD that shows most of the photographs and has a great song in the background. The short 5 minute slideshow has the ability to bring the Spirit so effectively and powerfully. We've also been meaning to talk to D. about being an example to his wife by doing what he needs to do, just like Christ was an example for us. By the end, the Spirit was very strong, and you could tell that D. loved the slideshow. He wanted to keep the DVD actually so he could see the behind the scenes stuff on it (which is most of the DVD) and I have no doubt that he watched them. It is so amazing how much our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to follow his Son. He not only knows it will bring us happiness now, but also the greatest happiness which is eternal life. I love the words in the song that played during the slideshow - "Jesus sought me, when a stranger, wandering from the throne above. Here to rescue me from danger..." (of course the song is Come thou Fount) He will seek us, He will knock, even if we're a stranger, all alone. I pray that we all can bring others closer to Christ, because that will be, just as it was for John Witmer (D&C 15) and others mentioned, "the thing which will be of the most worth unto you".

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: April 13, 2009

Hello everyone,

Thank you for the emails - sounds like Easter was a good one. Sounds like Rachel had fun at the prom - my senior prom was at the Winery too, and it was way sweet - for 2 reasons: whoever thought of doing dances outdoors was a genius because you get so much less sweaty and gross, and therefore at the end of the dance I still felt great and was thinking "It's over already?" and also the lights and stuff were cool - it felt like a Jane Austen era dance. The only thing I need to complete the experience is to have one of those brightly colored striped suits with white pants like Bert in Mary Poppins when they jump into the chalk picture.

Well, this prep day has been a little different - we haven't done our studies yet and so I feel a lot less spiritual, hopefully it doesn't show in the email. We went to the Easter Pageant 6 times, it was pretty cool. We either took investigators, recent converts, or just worked it (walked around trying to find people to teach). I like it more and more the more I saw it. It really made this Easter season special for me, so much more Savior-oriented than Easter Bunny and candy oriented, which of course is the point!

This week went pretty well for us, our numbers were better - especially now that we have two investigators with dates! D. set her date for the 23rd. She seems pretty happy, hopefully she can keep improving (she's been having trouble with the self-discipline necessary to read scrips and pray every day - which is essential to daily conversion of course!) We had a lesson with T. on Monday, and after answering questions and starting to explain the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, he basically asked to be baptized! He is such a stud - he really thinks about things and is just so in-tune. He asked us about faith & testimony vs. physical scientific proof, (pertaining to if the church was true) and he knew and believed in his heart the answer better than most kids raised in the church. We were able to get D. and L. to the Easter Pageant, and they both liked it - hopefully we can get everyone progressing towards Christ!

So we had a lesson with S. and he taught us how to do a move in card magic, so now is the time to practice. He said it took him a year of practice to get it down, and that he got blisters from practicing it. No lie there - the top of my pinky started to feel raw after just two days! So I slowed down a bit but we'll keep going until we can put Chris Angel to shame! (not really..)

It is pretty funny how I just feel like my mission is my spiritual school. I work hard everyday and learn something every day as well, including very pivotal things in my outlook and perspective on things. My mission has been a very humbling experience as well - looking back I've realized I've been way, way too much of a prideful person, and at the same time I realized that that pride was completely misplaced. The best analogy I can use is the fig tree that Christ cursed - all looking like it has all the fruits under the summer leaves but really being bare underneath. And that has been part of my new focus on my mission - relying on the Lord. I can honestly say that I have worked my fanny off on my mission, I have no problem saying that truthfully. But I've realized that, while that is good and very necessary, that I haven't been able to have my efforts blessed by the Lord because if He had I wouldn't have said (for example) "It was because of my efforts that [so and so] was baptized..." I realized this when I read a verse in the Book of Mormon. Luckily, I was able to hear the message.

Then, at the very end of the week we were riding down the street at like 8:30 pm (so only 30 min left before we had to be in our home) and we saw three people walking a couple dogs. I had the same excuses come into my head as always (I've learned how to combat most them, but it only works if I have the right attitude) but then I decided to listen to the Spirit, and I felt good about talking to them. Satan put as many fears and excuses into my head as he could, but then I remembered that if I was really relying on the Lord I would obey every command even if I was scared of consequences. So we stopped and talked to them. They were members, but we might be teaching one of their less-active daughter's friends (the daughter was one of the three, actually) who will most likely be moving in with them. That was the first time on my mission that I actually got a referral out of anybody I talked to on the street. And it was only because the Lord willed it - I had nothing to do with the outcome.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me" Psalm 23

Elder Hoopes

PS for the missionary newsletter:

A paragraph for the Quorum and other 5th Warddiors? (I thought a combination of "ward" and "warrior" would look cool, but I guess not...) If anything I'd like to thank everyone in the ward - I know that the quorum has affected me in more ways than probably anything else, except for my family (and hopefully the Savior). For Alma Academy, I disliked the idea that we would be picking our "quorums". If you had given me all of the first picks I would have just chosen everyone in the ward. (I think Jordan still has hard feelings against me for not drafting him - Despain just got the jump on me!) Just remember that part of the white handbook - how our time where we can serve the Lord completely is extremely short, do everything you can to make the most of it, and never give up or stop relying on the Lord.

From Mom: April 13, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Hope you had a wonderful Easter. What a great time to remember the miraculous love of our Savior. In a way, Easter is a more sacred "holy-day" than Christmas and we feel an outpouring of the Spirit as we commemorate the infinite Atonement. I had a thought as we were singing a hymn yesterday that we must have been among the "cherubic legions guarding him home, and shouting him welcome to the skies," after He had completed the Atonement. As spirits awaiting our mortal experience, we must have been relieved, and oh so grateful, that the Atonement was fulfilled for us.

The Easter Bunny also visited our house and scattered toys and eggs in our back yard for Sidney, Sara and Jackson to find. They had fun, but unfortunately, the Bunny included kazoos, which were a loud and big hit with the kids. Fortunately, the kazoos went home with them. Rachel went to prom and had a fun time. She and Kevin were with a great group of 6 couples who Rachel knew well and liked. They went to the Zoo and had a picnic for the daytime date, then had the evening dance at the winery, then a movie after. The weather cooperated beautifully. Rachel looked great. I'll try to send some pictures.

Next week I will be in Canada so I probably won't be able to email you. I will be helping my Mom and Bob move to a smaller apartment. I'm looking forward to seeing them again. You have a great week. Our prayers are with you,

Love, Mom

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

From Alec: March 6, 2009

Well, hello everyone!!

Rachel ACT? Prom - do I know who she's going with? I got her a way late birthday present/souvenir and I might send it or wait till I'm home ;) I'll keep her in suspense.

This week was a pretty good one - lots of growth involved. And yes, Mom, when Elder Perry was at bat we all were cheering, at least on the inside. That really was an amazing story, however - I don't think we'll ever find a better metaphor to teach that point. It is so, sooo, sooooo much easier to do missionary work when the members are involved. They are the personal, loving shepherds who will probably almost always contribute to someone's conversion more than any missionary. The conversion story of a recent convert in my second area started early in his life with his journey to a better focus on spiritual things. Even though what started him being taught by the missionaries was a street contact from them, he attributes so much to this member couple he knew, who he has the highest of feelings for, and it is because of them that he had any interest whatsoever in even listening to us.

I went to the Easter Pageant this week, it was pretty dang cool. Definitely worth going to see if you just happen to be down here.

Well, we had our baptism date fall through - and it's partly our fault, we didn't spend enough time with her - and something that could have easily been resolved quickly to keep the date. But that is ok because as of right now she is not ready. We'll keep working with her! We are just having trouble meeting with D., T. (our golden who has felt the Spirit and church bless his life) and the A. family (taught once, come to church on their own now, are so solid). Then there are two others who aren't as hard to catch, but we're just struggling to help progress. D. is still feeling caught betweed a rock and a hard place - but we will be taking him and L. to the Easter Pageant on Tuesday - because he so needs the next step of baptism and the blessings from the gift of the Holy Ghost. He totally knows and professes it (every time we go over) that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. S. , who's wife is a less-active member, has been tough to meet with because J. (his wife) has been sick and now his kid has a fever and it's just been rough. He is totally awesome though! Hopefully we'll be able to meet with T. and A. and G. as well - they just were busy the end of the week (and couldn't make it to watch Conference). We'll just have to do everything we can and rely on the Lord.

Which is something that I don't think I've been doing enough - I can definitely say that I have "lost myself and [gone] to work" but I need to do a little bit more relying on Heavenly Father, because I can do alot - but in what actually matters I have little power - and that is changing hearts and bringing happiness to people. Thinking about it, the only times I have actually accomplished anything (that really means anything) it has been because I have either relied on Heavenly Father, or that He totally "made bare" his arm (D&C 123 last verse) and did the work that I guess we couldn't do! I can't remember if I told you that D., the high school football player from my first area got baptized the last week in March. I was able to go, we took D. and it was awesome to see him there. Elder Pongi, who is still in that area, got to baptize him. Way exciting to see someone I taught my first week make some good choices!!!

Not as spiritual of an email for you this week, but I wanted to tell you what was going on and then I guess just end with the testimony I have. It has been made known unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost, that this work is God's work - He is real and tangible and loves us more than we could ever know. I am so struck with the love and patience Jesus Christ must have for us. We make so many mistakes and focus so much on ourselves. What Nephi notices is so true, the "unsteadyness" of the children of men. How quick they are to do iniquity, and slow to listen to the Lord their God, when all He ever wants is us to have joy (2 Ne 2:25). He does EVERYTHING He can to help us make right choices. Of course, the devil is there, too, to try and blur the line between what is right and what is wrong - but more especially what will make you happy and what won't, what is selfish and what is self-less, what damns you from progression and what "makes you free" which is the truth, the light. But luckily we have wonderful men and women in the world who DO choose right more often than wrong, and amazing people called prophets and apostles who do everything they can to make known God's will and love. I as well love you all and hope you always are in the paths of righteousness!

Elder Hoopes

PS Thank you sooo much for the package!!!! I will be asking my companion to hide the candy for me to find when Easter comes around :) That Penguin tie made me happy/laugh - it's pretty sweet

Also, sorry that I missed your birthday so you'll get a late card but never less thanks and love for what an influence you've been on my life. I know I can liken Alma 56:47, 48 to us. The only weakness in the analogy might be that I'm probably not as steadfast and righteous as those stripling warriors, but I doubt no less than they did that "you know".

From Mom: March 6, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

What a great day it is and so important because this is the day the church was restored in 1830, the day that Jesus was born, and the day that He atoned for us!!! A day to remember. Well, Conference was amazing. What wonderful messages for the world. I noticed that the overall theme seemed to be that adversity is here to stay, but we can be filled with peace, and even joy, because of the gospel. Pres. Monson said: "It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future - or even fearful of what might come - if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives. Today, however, I'd like us to turn our thoughts and our attitudes away from the troubles around us and to focus instead on our blessings as members of the Church. The Apostle Paul declared, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

None of us makes it through this life without problems and challenges - and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times
when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. However, we are told: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). The history of the Church in this, the
dispensation of the fulness of times, is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer as they have made the Gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their
lives. This attitude is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. It will not remove our troubles from us but rather will enable us to face our challenges, to meet them head on and to emerge victorious." The story he
recounted, with tears coursing down his cheeks, of the sister and her 4 children who were refugees after the 2nd World War, will always stand as a memorial to her of her great faith.

I gave my seminary kids the "Conference Challenge" which is to take your questions and concerns, write them down, then listen as they are answered one by one in conference. We had been talking about the fruits of the
spirit, and the fruits of the flesh, in Galatians, and one of the kids asked if many obese people wouldn't get to heaven because they were living with out-of-control appetites. So I had been pondering that, and then Brother
Hales opened the conference with:

"In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man and it can never be satisfied. It is insatiable as an appetite. When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger, and what we should be seeking for, is what God alone can provide; His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance His love brings, which brings us eternal joy." Bro Hales specifically mentioned food addictions as well. Food addictions are particularly hard to control, because we all need food, we just need to eat enough with enough variety to keep us healthy and vibrant, but then stop there. Many Mormons are keeping the "don'ts" of the word of wisdom, but breaking the "dos", including me, at times.

Elder Holland's talk on the Atonement was amazing: "Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone we do not have to do so...My
other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christ's lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial, abandonment, and at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. May I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find unresponsive onlookers when he sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ 'at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death' (Mosiah 18:9), for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely alone."

I could hear all the 53,000 full time missionaries cheering during Elder Perry's admonition to warn our neighbors! I could go on and on, but you don't have time to read all my notes. If we could all take to heart the counsel we received over the weekend, the gospel will spread like wildfire because the world we see what it is to be a disciple of Christ. We can't be sideline disciples. (Uchtdorf)

Hope you got the Easter package. We're doing great. I'm almost over my cold that I came down with on Wednesday. Rachel took her ACT test Saturday, prom next Saturday. Hilde sends her love.(Woof)

Have a wonderful Easter!

Love, Mom