Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From Alec: May 18, 2009

Hello from Mesa,

Yes it is getting warm here - I think it was 104 yesterday. It really isn't too bad riding a bike when you have water. It's just when you stop, especially if you're in the sun. I've never been sweaty EVERYWHERE as I was yesterday. Sounds like we had a bishop Frankenstein sitting on the stand last Sunday. I think I'd wait a week before going in for tithing settlement if that was the case....That is good Dee moved to be with the fam. She is a character, I send love back. Oh and that is awesome about Justin Z, merry ol' England - he'll love it.

Well this last week was a very good one. We had some interesting experiences. O. passed his baptismal interview (no surprise). He is great - although he did sleep in at his dad's place on Sunday and missed the 9:00 sacrament meeting. He ended up going to his fellowshippers in another stake's meeting, and we think he'll still be good for his baptism. We taught L. the word of wisdom and committed her to stop smoking. She accepted and we set the dates with her and gave her some advice/materials and so we'll keep praying for her. Her interview is set for the 6th of June in which she will hopefully be able to say she is obeying the word of wisdom. Then the goal baptism is for the 13th of June. She is an awesome lady - she can do it. We'll be stopping by almost daily and doing everything we can for her. She'll need all the help available. We also had a great lesson with D. - we finally uncovered the reasons he hasn't been coming to church; it has to do with not feeling worthy and also family pressure. But he is such the man and we will do what we can for him as well!

We had Tuesday as our Prep day this week so that we could go to the temple this morning. That was very nice (I didn't get to go last transfer).

A cool story from yesterday - we were on our way to drop off a DVD for this contact and we decided that we maybe shouldn't go at the moment, and so we visited another contact and then went to street contact this other guy on the way out. Because of that we got close to Country Club road, and we heard this car honking and the guy waving at us. Turns out he ran out of gas and needed our help to push it around to the gas station he just passed, (He was in a hurry for a meeting). It was one of those heavy 80's Buicks or something, but we got it back. It turns out that J. (the driver) has a Book of Mormon in his car and he reads it when he is confused or is having a bad day, because as he said, he gets answers for his life everytime he opens up to any page. The only reason he hasn't gone to church or taken the lessons is because his wife "believes in Nature" or something like that. But he gave us his card and we will definitely call him up - he is such an awesome guy and was very grateful we were able to help him in his time of need.

The Lord is never shy to use his servants if they but listen to his gentle promptings and therefore open themselves to his will.

I have also been reading and studying the general conference Ensign - man that is a spiritual feast and three-quarters (as Dad used to say). Some things I didn't even notice in the talks come alive as I read their words. If you have the means...I highly recommend it...

Love you all, and remember that all we need is to believe, and all things are possible.

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: May 18, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Well I hope you are using your camel back to keep hydrated this week! I'm afraid that you are going to be having a pretty hot summer. Heat strokes can kill so be cautious. (I'm a Mom, so I have to say things like that:) Actually today will be in the 90s here. Last week our high was in the 50s, so we are feeling we somehow missed Spring. A few weeks of 60s and 70s would have been nice. President McCauley asked us all to grow some of our own food this year, so I went to a Master gardening class last Tuesday, learned all kinds of good stuff, and Dad and I planted our garden on
Saturday. Hopefully we will have an abundant harvest this year.

We are all doing great. Rachel can sing again, so her pneumonia is gone. Dad had a cancerous spot removed from his forehead last Tuesday. The good news is that they got it all, the bad news is that he has a 2 inch incision with about 15 stitches on the outside and I don't know how many on the inside. He also has 2 black eyes because blood seeped down his face. He was a pretty scary bishop at church yesterday. Dee Hines moved to South Dakota to live with her son, so that is great for her to be with her family, but we do miss her and her fun sense of humor. She asked me to send her love to you.

I am so excited about this weekend because Jon and Nicole are coming on Thursday to catch Rachel's Choir Concert and staying for the long weekend, then Ben flies in on Sunday to start his month-long internship with Brother Zarian's law firm. Laurie and Elliott won't be able to join him for 2 more weeks. But that gives me more time to buy more toys for Elliott before they come! He is one spoiled little guy; the world's most loving parents, and grandparents, aunts and uncles who all think he is the cutest kid in the world.

We had the sister missionaries over for dinner this week. They are just the sweetest young women. One is from Peru. She looks like a Mayan princess with high cheekbones and almond eyes. The other sister is from Mexico, via Utah and she looks like a Spaniard. They both speak with accents and have such wonderful testimonies of the gospel, it was a delight to be with them. By the way, Justin Zarian got his call to the London, England Mission and he will be leaving in July.

I have been enjoying my study of Revelation. It is an amazing book, with some pretty bizarre symbolism, but overall is a powerful testimony of the magnificent plan of happiness for God's children, and a peek to what lies in reward for God's children who desire that happiness. It is also a harrowing look into the hearts of Satan and those who give him their power and become his minions. In the false security of our lives, we can forget that the War in Heaven still rages on. And while we do see in Revelation what the final outcome of this war will be, we can't be assured of our position in it, whether we will be a collaborator, a casualty, or a
conqueror. The little, every day choices do matter, because out of those we "become". While it is necessary to experience evil here in mortality, it is essential that we do no evil, and/or repent as fast as we can, so we can be healed and made whole and be armored against further injury. And true to the war metaphor, this is not a battle that can be fought alone, because our hearts must be bound to each other and our Savior to succeed. A war can't be considered victorious if too many are lost.

God bless you in your daily battles for the souls of men! We love you so much,


Thursday, May 7, 2009

From Alec: May 7, 2009

Hello everyone,

We had what was called a Training Blitz on Monday and Tuesday, where we met from 7:30-12:30 at a church building and had trainings and such, then we had a zone leader be a coach (Elder Gomez from south Jordan, UT) with us the rest of the day, giving us feedback. It was great! But because of that our Prep day got pushed to Wednesday, hence the late email. Hey Mom, I am totally fine - all I have is a little cough right now. And I actually didn't have a headache at all in the picture, just a stuffy nose and no voice. But I am fine now, and yes, we will be drinking plenty of water! I am relatively used to hot now, it almost feels good if you do it right (lotsa water and shade whenever you can).

Well things are going well down here - last Friday, Elder Morgan and I felt like there was someone who the Lord wanted us to set a baptism date with before the weekend ended. We met with a kid on Saturday and he is great, and we set a date with him for the 16th of May. He came to our ward for the first time the next day as well!

We have been really trying to meet with J. and R. who come to church almost every Sunday on their own now, they just have all their kids and grandkids living in the same house so it is CRAZY all the time. Thus we cannot meet with them, but we will start tomorrow meeting with them at 2 (when their grandkids nap). Hopefully they can feel the Spirit!

We still haven't been able to meet with T., but we can't blame him as prom was last week, but we really need to set a new date and bring him unto Christ! (by dunking him - hehe; Jon would always say that on his mission.)

We also got a new investigator yesterday, L. We'd talked with her before but she actually called us (got the number from a convert we meet with) and said she wanted to meet with us. She does need a little financial help, but she did seem very sincere about needing guidance as well, and she wants that especially as her two sons will be coming back to live with her, and she wants them to have a good influence.

It is pretty neat because of all of the work that is going on in our area, it seems the Lord is blessing us. My trainer (Elder Howell) was the zone leader here but got moved when I moved here. He saw me at the training blitz and asked how the area was going. I said great and told him about O. He seemed happy because he said that the missionaries before me were really letting the area "die", and were not street contacting people (at all). That really struck me about how much our Heavenly Father blesses our puny best efforts and makes up the difference. He so wants to bless us, and all He asks is that we keep His commandments. And then when we do that, He immediately blesses us! I was just reading in Mosiah 4 - how because of that we will forever be indebted to God. We are "less than the dust of the earth". Keep the prayers up, I can feel them often helping us. D. needs to understand he can progress even if his wife won't, C. needs to get to church and be married so that she and her daughter can be baptized. J. also needs help so that she can have the strength to keep the commandments and feel the blessings and love. Can we do it? No. As Elder Holland said, "We are sent out to save the world, and we cannot do it. But we do know Someone who already has." Love you all and hope you have a great rest of the week!

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: May 4, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

We got a sweet note from President and Sister Palmer, with pictures, as well as another one from President and Sister Wright, saying how wonderful you are. From the pictures you seemed to look a little sick, like you were smiling through a headache. Are you feeling better this week? If you are not, you may need antibiotics. Are your allergies bothering you? I know that spring allergens in a blooming desert can be pretty severe. We are looking forward to talking to you this coming Mother's Day. 6:00 pm your time would be great. That is 7:00 pm our time because we are 1 hour ahead. (We spring forward for daylight savings time, Arizona doesn't.) We are flexible according to what works out for you and your companion.

Oh my, I just looked at Mesa weather and it will be above 100 degrees all week!!! Drink lots of water!

Rachel is doing better this week. She finally went back to school on Wednesday after missing a week and a half. She's still coughing up a lot but I guess that is part of pneumonia. She took the SAT on Saturday and this Friday she has her AP History test. Wow, just 4 weeks left of school, and only 11 days of Seminary for the 5 seniors in my class! Looking back on it, the year flew by. However, from the perspective of crawling out of a warm bed on a cold winter morning at 5:00 am, it seemed like it would never end.I learned not to count all the days ahead, just to focus on each day, and not to borrow worry from tomorrow. I guess that is a good life lesson, as well as a good mission lesson, eh? In a mile race you don't let yourself get overwhelmed by the laps you have left, but instead focus on doing your very best on the lap you're on. And lo and behold, the end of the race will be upon us and we can say with Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

Eagle 5th ward is doing great. A lot of people are struggling financially and health wise, but they are turning to the Lord and each other, so that is a great thing. We had a ward fast again for the members who are suffering. What a blessing we have to know what we know, and to have the Holy Ghost to comfort us when we don't know, and have people around who love us. Have a great week, and talk to you soon!