Friday, June 19, 2009

From Mom: June 15, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Hope you've had a great week. We have had a great one, especially because Elliott is here and he is keeping us all entertained. Unfortunately the Eagle Fun Days got pretty much rained out so when we went to see the car show and the rain was just pouring, all the cars left. We had ducked into a children's store to wait out the downpour, and there Elliott had claimed a toy that played "Home on the Range" and animal noises. Of course Grandma had to buy it for him. While we drove across town, he played it incessantly, so I was relieved that later when we got back into the car, he had forgotten all about it. But Dad, just to tease me, started singing
"Home on the Range". I started playfully hitting Dad on the arm to get him to stop, and his response was to increase his volume and he started adding animal noises. Elliott, observing this turned to Laurie and asked, "Grandpa, idiot?" Elliott is a lot of fun and he speaks a mixture of French and English. He looks like he is about 4 years old but he is only 2. And he is already potty trained!! I am sending you some pictures we have taken of him recently.

Rachel was in London for 3 days and now she is in Paris. The only way I know this is because I can look in her bank account and see where she has been spending money. She will probably never call or email to let us know how things are going, but I guess that no news is probably good news. She was pretty excited about going. Dad and I will be leaving for Utah on Friday for a mission reunion, so we will be staying with Jon and Nicole. We will be back for Sunday and Father's Day, though.

Love you lots. God bless you and your investigators,

From Alec: June 15, 2009

Hello everyone,

Sounds like everything is going well - it is nice to hear from home. That is so lucky that Dad lucked out at Helaman with the vegemite. for karma's sake he'll probably get something disgusting even for him next academy. ;)

Rachel in Europe? with a card with money on it? that sounds dangerous, who knows what she'll have when she comes back - who is she there with? is it a school thing? I know you probably told me a month ago but you know my memory...

Glad Elliott is still stealing all of the attention -down here I love spending time with young couples that have a kid about Elliott's age, I'm always reminded of him.

Well this week went very well, T. now has a baptismal date (for August 1 - now that I think about it I doubt that it is a Saturday...) He set it, he wants a recent convert - M. - to baptize him.

So this weekend was great - M's. baptism went amazingly well, especially because we were late getting to the font to turn it on, so that it was a little low and still running at 8:05 or so (supposed to start at 8). But he got all the way under (after an extra push! hehe) and the meeting was full of the Spirit. M. even bore his testimony at the end, it was great. (Sorry if my email is choppy - there are some pretty young kids who are a little loud on the computer next to me) We filled the Relief Society room to the brim (I was afraid we wouldn't be able to seat everyone).

I have had some cool experiences with Spanish too - I memorized a little thing from the Spanish elders that I'm not very good at, but I've gotten some really amazing responses from it. I think my pronunciation is pretty good, but of course I can't do anything else with the language really...

Our investigators are doing alright - L. is set for the 27th for her baptism. T. I mentioned. We were able to get A. to church this Sunday, which was awesome because R. totally picked up one of A's. kids and asked me "Should I take her to Relief Society?" I of course said yes. They'd better get baptized while I am here - they really are great people and I care alot about them. We also got this new guy named Tim - he is very interesting but very down to earth - both Elder Morgan and I like him. He didn't show up for church so I'm not sure what is/was up. We also just taught B. and N. - they were a street contact earlier. They really seemed to be listening and understanding - and they said that they really wanted to go to church (they feel like they need to improve their relationship and themselves as parents) but they weren't there... very disappointing, but overall it was a great Sunday.

Something very important as members of the church is to always have faith in the converting power of the gospel - and by that I don't only mean for people who have never heard of the church. I mean for all of us as we try and live the gospel. Once we have a testimony about the church and in the Savior and change our outlook on life we should continue to let the Lord change us, as we are all far from perfect. If we were we wouldn't be on the earth anymore. I see all too much a belief in the world that things change all the time but that people will never change. And that bugs me, because everyone on this earth can become like the Savior if they choose (with his help of course). And that is the wonderful thing about it - so don't get too comfortable because the Lord chastens who he loves - and of course that is because he loves us. It's a good thing too! Love you all,

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: June 9, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Sorry we didn’t email you in time, but perhaps you will be able to check tomorrow. aurie and Elliott arrived today so we were busy getting ready for them, then busy giving Elliot 100% of our attention! You are only 2 years old once and need all kinds of Grandma love and admiration. We had a great time at Helaman Academy. I prepared meals all day long, but we broke away a couple of times to observe the activities the young men were involved in. Our ward won the Helaman Treasure hunt which was spread over the two days. Dad lucked out in the nasty foreign food eating because our ward had to eat vegemite which is a mild marmite. Dad , just to show off, ate 3 helpings! Brother Shaw and Brother Yorgason asked about you and were so happy to hear how well you are doing.

Rachel is off to Europe in 2 days, so we are doing last minute shopping for her. I just got called to be Compassionate Service leader in the ward, so I didn’t have much time off after being released from seminary teaching. It will be a wonderful calling to get me back involved in the ward. We had a ward fast for Mark Neilson because he will be having another heart surgery tomorrow. (His surgery went very well and he will be returning home for Father's day) Josie was awarded outstanding high school student, and she has billboards all over town with her picture on it. I’ll try to send a photo of one to you.

Well I have to run,
Love you so much!!! We are praying for you and your investigators,
Love, Mom

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From Alec: June 8, 2009

Hello everyone,

The work rolls forth, therefore there is still work for each and every one of us to do. It has been relatively pleasant weather-wise here, and I bought some sunscreen because I don't want to end up like our Frankenstein Bishop. Love you dad! Hope you had a happy birthday at Helaman Academy. That place is the best! One of my three wishes from the genie would definitely to be able to go through the academies again. That is for sure - and Bishop Stewart was a great influence on how (especially the spiritual part) awesome they were.

M. is all set for his baptism on the 14th of June - the only day he could get off work/school. He is a great kid, he came to us with some concerns and doubting but he knew where to go for comfort and answers and he did. He is awesome. L. is doing alright, trying to quit smoking still. She has quite a bit to learn, but some things in her life softened her heart and I feel she is converted to the gospel. T. came to all of the 3 hours and I feel like it was a great Sunday for him. Hopefully going to M's. baptism will help him realize that it is the best decision for him. We watched the Joseph Smith movie at the Visitor's Center and his words were "I was speechless". He absolutely loved it, hopefully he has the courage to act on his promptings!!!

We had lots of promises from many that they'd be at church, and then lots of no-shows really is discouraging. Though the one couple had one of their grandkid's parties so they couldn't come, and one lady didn't have a ride and her phone is turned off so she couldn't contact us, but if we bring with us the Spirit - He (is it a he? it?) will teach them and convert them to keeping the commandments.

We had a great street contact experience. We were very down to earth with some people and answered their questions without being critical or judging and two whole families (in the apt complex) invited us back after we gave them copies of the BOM. We'll be going back this week to check on them.

Well, I love you all - hope you are working hard, but at the same time - always remember that with the Lord, we can do all things.

Elder Hoopes

p.s. I'm sending a picture CD, it's been a while - sorry!

From Alec: June 1, 2009

Hello everyone,

Thanks for the package! I just got it. I knew that picture of me reading the newsletter would be one of the pics. Just gotta give 'em what they want!

Happy Birthday on Thursday, Dad - I don't know if I'll be able to send you a card but know I love you and have really appreciated your example to me as to what a man should be. If you look up Alma 48:11-13, a Man is defined. I feel like you are that, Dad - but also add "a man who tells repetitious jokes whenever at dinner, and a man with a giving/willing Heart."

That story about Hilde sounds pretty funny. I can just see her running for her life but just hoping she doesn't run into anything/ get caught. Probably got scared silly. (funny thing too - I think the same thing would have happened even if she wasn't blind, that scaredy cat)

Well things are going very well here - we are working hard, this last week we got the highest TTI's in the zone (street contacts) and we did work pretty hard to do it. We got 56 in one day (that is like ridiculous) but we could easily get 200 if we were consistent. We had some illness keep people from coming to church, so that was a bit of a letdown, but the Lord knows his children and will never give them anything they cannot handle/overcome. L. and M. both have their dates set (13th and 14th respectively). But I'm almost reluctant to baptize M., because he is struggling with doubt and is doubting his feelings - but decided to stick with it (a good choice, but I feel like he has not figured out how to combat doubt). I hope and pray that we can effectively help him realize how to search for answers to his questions. We were able to teach a few great lessons with newer investigators. We'll probably have to turn one over to the singles ward elders but whatever it takes to get them baptized! The other is a family of four, S. & D. that we had just a great lesson with. The Spirit was there when we testified about the blessings that would come that this little family desperately needs - and they know they need something, for the most part. We took T. (passive investigator) and A. (less-active) to the visitors center. It was great. Hopefully the Spirit instilled something inside them.

Oh - transfer news came this Saturday; we are both staying! YAAAAAY, finally I stay in an area more than 2 transfers and with a companion for more than 1 transfer! SOO GOOOOD!

Oh yeah, and at district meeting Elder Morgan's bike (borrowed) and my bike got stolen, but we chased them and got the bikes back eventually - oh and we street contacted the older kid later. Hopefully he looks up the site on the card! I love many of the people down here - but it's just too much of a city for me to try and live in, crime and society is just sickening sometimes (in general). Give me Eagle anytime - but I love the mission of course. Well, hope everyone has a great week,

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: June 1, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Hope you are doing well this week. Things are great here. Rachel has finals the next 3 days then she is all done with her Junior year. On Thursday and Friday she has Legacy, which she has been involved planning as a ward rep this year. Dad has Helaman Academy on Thursday and Friday (Thursday is his birthday) and I am going up too to be one of the cooks. So Ben and Hilde will be hanging out together for a couple of days.

Speaking of Hilde, she had a minor altercation with a fox in our backyard yesterday morning. There is a fox who had had 3 kits, and their den is just down the rim. They often come up and play and hunt quail (successfully)in our back yard. Well, yesterday Dad let Hilde out, then Dad heard the fox barking and when he got to the door he saw the fox chasing Hilde, and Hilde trying to run away, but not sure which way to run. When Dad went out to rescue Hilde, the momma fox ran off.

Friday was my last day teaching early morning seminary. We had a breakfast of course, and the kids shared their testimonies of what they had learned this year. Then they gave me a card which all of them had written in, a box of chocolate dipped fortune cookies, and a $100 gift certificate to Eagle Day Spa!!! I've never been to a spa so it should be wonderful. Today I am going to pester 5 of the students to hand in/complete their makeup work so I can give them a final grade.

I learned a lot this year, probably more than any of the kids. The first I have already mentioned, is that I was given the gift of loving those kids from day one, so it did not seem a sacrifice to devote all my time to prepare and get up at 5:00 am each weekday. (Probably you have experienced that on your mission.) I came to appreciate Jesus Christ more as I studied his daily life and words; what infinite compassion to deal with flawed, weak, silly humans, yet to be so patient and concerned! I was also impressed by the trials endured by the early Christians who repeatedly gave their all for their hope in Christ. One student pointed out that the New Testament takes place over a relatively short space of time, within a man's lifetime and yet so much happened. The students also were so impressed with Revelation, and what an amazing book that is as it reviews the battle of good and evil which began before the world was, the history of the earth and the events which will unfold over the next 1000 years. We even get to glimpse heaven and the Celestial Kingdom. I am hoping that I will continue to really study the scriptures daily, even as my life gets packed with other things. It seems that because I've studied so much, there is a spiritual conduit opened in my heart directly to heaven; it is like I've got a high speed connection! All I have to do is kneel down and say "Father," and I feel the burning in my soul. I don't want to lose that.

Have a wonderful week. We love you so much!

From Alec: May 26, 2009

Hello from Arid-zona

Glad to hear from you, sorry that this email is a day late - the library is not open on Memorial Day - so we had to switch our emails to today. It sounds like things are going pretty well. People are growing older - I realized this when I realized I've been out for 9 months and so I am very close to halfway through my mission. I'm going to be 20 in a few months (that's a little weird too). Anyways...

To answer your questions, Dad, no, we cannot wear cowboy hats, unless you want to fit them under your bike helmet or if you find a helmet that has the cowboy hat brims sticking out of it, I guess that might work... although if I go to a reservation I might be able to get away with some boots and bolo ties. Oh and a question - I thought I heard a while back that the McDonald's were moving; if Bro McD got called to YM then I guess he didn't move?

And one last thing, Dad - getting Mom and Rachel out more? Somewhere away from home comforts? Not likely. :)

Well, things have been alright down here. Sunday was great, of course. Church is always good - we even had a lesson with an investigator who was turned over to us (he lives in our area). He is a great kid, friends with our other investigator, T., and they're both track stars. Miles won the 100 and 200 in the regional meet, I think.

OH - well I guess I could mention that O. got baptized on Saturday - it was great. Though we were scrambling around for a Stake Center to do it in because the Reservation Ward had scheduled out the whole building for all of Saturday. But everything worked out and O. is a great kid. We were very happy to see everything work out.

Other than that, however, this last week was full of disappointments. We had a great first lesson with a lady named S. She seemed awesome, totally answered questions and understood everything very well. Then she wasn't at church. Also we had a lesson with D. and he admitted that he really needed to go to church (like over and over again he said it) and he wasn't there either. Lisa isn't doing well - she is having lots of bad influences and things really bombarding her right now, including guilt from not quitting smoking. Hopefully we can help find her somewhere else to live in our area so she can get back on track.

[ha - We actually just saw D. in the library - he's a cool guy, but needs to go to church...meanwhile, back at the bat cave...]

Also we just met with M. today and he isn't sure if he wants to be baptized - he is getting very confused with all of the opinions and voices in the world. (and even inside of himself). He has felt like he wants to be baptized and he always feels good about the church, but he is doubting if the feelings are from God or from just himself and his wants/desires. He also is struggling with things he isn't sure if things match up (like with the church, even the bible itself really - just everything in general). We tried to keep the Spirit there and to follow it, because he is a great guy and we really wanted to help him. I think it did some, but he still feels the same way. I guess we just have to do everything we can for him to realize and recognize what Heavenly Father is trying to tell him. Because as much as we can talk and bear testimony, I really feel like it will get nowhere until he wants to understand how it works out - and he comes to the Lord in prayer with a humble heart and contrite spirit. Of course, that is the way that we all must to it. I just hope and pray that we can be up to the task of being the missionaries he needs right now. Love you all and I hope you are quenching your spiritual thirst with the scriptures (including the Conference talks). I'll end with a funny quote I saw in someone's house: "Don't run faster than your guardian angel can fly".

Elder Hoopes

From Dad: May 25, 2009


I love your picture in the new missionary newsletter - we will try to be more reliable writers so that you don't have to look into empty mailboxes.

I notice on that you guys there are running in the 90's and clear - sounds great, but hotter is to come. You don't think you can get away with a dress cowboy hat?

We, as always, are blessed here. We had to release brother Rasmussen as the young men's president because he was called to be the area communications specialist, which means that he will work with the media on behalf of the Church and while doing so work directly with the area seventies. Brother MacDonald has been called to be the new YM President; he will also do a great job. Because of the economy we are staying close for the High Adventure, hiking and camping in the mountains by Stanley. The YW will be near there as well, so I will spend the week running back and forth between them. I'm very much looking forward to it.

I'm trying to talk mom into doing some hiking and camping this summer to get Rachel out a bit. You know mom. She always has things that needs doing so I'm not expecting we'll be able to get out often.

We have had Jon and Nicole here for the weekend which has been a treat, and Ben flies in this afternoon (after Jon and Nicole have to leave). Ben will be here for at least one month doing a clerkship for Jon Zarian's firm. We are all excited about the experience, but also about the possibility that this may lead to something long term for them which would bring them closer to us.

Well, the Gospel is true, families are forever, and we are very proud and excited for you and the wonderful experience you are having on your mission,


From Mom: May 25, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

Well I hope you are having a wonderful day. We have had an awesome weekend with Jon and Nicole here. We were able to go to the temple with them on Saturday, go to Rachel's concert on Thursday, church with them on Sunday, and otherwise just hang out with them and talk and laugh together. It has been very sweet. They are driving home this afternoon and Ben is flying in at the same time so they might stop at the airport to say hello and goodbye on their way back to Provo.

This will be a busy week for us because it will be my last 4 days of Seminary, Tanner is having his Eagle Court and we have youth Temple baptisms and Josie's senior violin recital. (Brother Neilson is leaving on June 9th to go back east for another heart surgery so Josie will be mom for her younger siblings for a few weeks.) Also this week we have 6 seniors graduating: Derek, Josie, Dayna, Madi, Rachel, and Stephanie. Your cousins Jordan Doughty and Anna Belnap also will be graduating. All the babies are growing up and flying away!

Life is so good and we feel so blessed to have the gospel, to live close to the temple, to be surrounded by wonderful people, to have lives filled with the Spirit.

Love, Mom

From Alec: May 11, 2009

Hello everyone,

It was great to be able to talk with most of the fam yesterday - I love hearing everyone's voices and personalities every once and a while.

I am very fortunate, Mother, to have 3 older returned missionaries as siblings. I have always had that example. I have met many missionaries who are either the first to serve a mission in their (generation) family (1st and 3rd companions) or who are the oldest (Elder Morgan and Elder Pongi) or have older siblings who chose not to go (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th companions). I have realized how truly blessed I was in that regard. Of course, it is not just the fact that they all happened so serve, but the straight up, amazing examples they set for me. There are lots of people in the world who suffer unhappiness because those they love, and depend upon, make bad choices. I belong to a very tiny minority of people who are blessed with a ridiculous number of good examples in my family. I hope that paragraph made sense.

Oh, and you don't have to worry about sun exposure, Mom. I am either in a car or wearing a bike helmet all day. My hair is actually light brown now (not really blond).

Well, things are going well in the area (not like much has changed since last night ;) We have dates for O. and L. on the 23rd of September, and they are in the same ward. So I'm not sure what we'll do, perhaps have the service for one, leave the water in and when everything is done the next group can come in. I don't know how much they'd like being baptized in the same service... we'll see what happens!

Hopefully we can meet with T. soon and I especially hope and pray that he prays sincerely and with real intent about his baptism. Because I know he'll get the right answer if that is the case - and I really do love T., he is such a great kid.

I'm still pretty amazed that I have been out for 8 months. In no time at all I will have been out a year - that is a scary thought. Soon after that I have less time left than I've been out! Too weird.

I love you all and hope you do everything you can to have the spirit with you 24/7. One thing I've figured out is vital to having the Spirit with you is obeying promptings. It's a "duh" thing but it is VERY easy to ignore or not recognize the promptings of the Spirit. President Uchtdorf knows this - and he talked about that in his priesthood session talk. But if we have the right attitude, which is: if the Lord commands (through the Spirit), then [I/we] obey, then the Spirit can be our most trusted and beloved companion.

Elder Hoopes

From Mom: May 11, 2009

Dear Elder Hoopes,

It was so great to hear your voice yesterday! Your voice is getting deeper; it must be all the leg muscles you're building riding your bike! It was fun to hear you talking with Jon and Karene. I was just pondering that you are fortunate to have 3 older siblings who have already served missions. Because of it you have a lot more support in terms of letters and care packages from them because they are so aware of how much they mean to a missionary. It sounds as if your area is doing great, and the Spirit is really touching the hearts of many of the people there. The Lord is good to us to let us share in His joy , and their joy, when people turn to Him, and discover His love and their purpose. Happiness is...being a missionary :) (It's a ‘70s thing.)

We are doing great. Rachel is still coughing and short of breath, but feeling much better. Dad goes in tomorrow to get a cancer spot removed from his forehead; it's benign, but growing and needs to be removed before it becomes something worse. He should have been wearing a hat whenever he was in the sun! I suppose missionaries can't wear hats, eh? Hilde is doing great. She seems to have adjusted to her blindness, although she still bumps into things pretty regularly. When we go out for our walks every day, she likes to run the first mile or so. I think she likes the security of being able to run on leash where she knows I won't let her collide with anything.

I'm doing great. Seminary is still my top priority each day, and will be for 3 more weeks until school is out. We just started Revelations, and it has some pretty interesting stuff in it. It is the summary of the history of the world with an emphasis on this final dispensation. It illustrates through symbolic prophecy the battle between good and evil. Even Hollywood has cashed in on the struggle between good and evil, because when it is all said and done, that conflict is the only compelling one. Well, go out wearing the whole armor of God and face the world,

Love you forever,