Wednesday, October 7, 2009

From Alec: October 26, 2009

Hello everyone!

Things are going well here in Heber-Overgaard. We just had transfers yesterday and Elder Dursteler was sent down to be in the same district I used to be in, Maricopa North Stake. I got Elder Moore from Kaysville, UT and he has been out for 11 months now. He is (as far as I've been able to tell!) a good missionary and we should have some fun and success here in north AZ.

Last week we talked to lots of people, which was our zone leader's goal and desire. Though we didn't get to teach much, so last week was relatively uneventful, except for Thursday when we helped M. H. (our WML) out on his ranch doing shipping. That is when they sort, weigh, and ship their calves off. Man that was fun - I helped at the end after they were weighed to help keep the heifers and steers separated. D. S., our investigator who helps out at the Hancock Ranch (that's how he was introduced to the church) said that we can call me a real cowboy now (his qualification was that I had stepped in "that guacamole", if you know what I mean). But it was dern fun.

Then conference weekend, man I love conference! The only not-cool thing is that we were doing service all morning for a less-active family on Saturday so we virtually missed both sessions. We'll get them on CD and listen to them in the car as soon as we can. But we made the Sunday sessions and it just reaffirmed how truly awesome conference is. That is the time in which we can hear from our Prophet and his counselors and the twelve apostles! Now you might be saying "no duh, elder" but the fact that we have a living prophet on the earth is such a blessing, and it was so important that Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ personally came to start this new dispensation when they called the boy Joseph Smith to be the first prophet of the Restoration.

This Monday we helped paint a less-active's house all day pretty much, but then we went and taught the Hoopes family, yep - J. and H. Hoopes, this younger couple. It's pretty weird when I write them down in our plans because when I see "Hoopes" I think "hey, that's me!". J. is a less-active member who wants to get into the church, and his wife, H. was at church and had no problem with J's grandfather (Bro W.) blessing their new baby. So she is willing to listen and we'll see if she's willing so seek, ask, and knock! Afterward we went to hear the Elk 'bugle' with M. H. That was very neat - we just drove out into the wilderness area and stopped to listen. We saw some pretty close and some were no further than 100 feet when they were bugling. (be-u-gle is how you say it, I think I spelled it right...)

Then after transfers on Tuesday, we had a lesson at the Carroll's house (they're way cool) and taught K. and also taught a kid named R. K. really took hold of the things we were teaching and we're just hoping her husband can be interested and want to join (she said he is, but she's not sure if for the right reason). Hopefully R. can receive faith in Christ as we teach and he keeps commitments!

Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Hoopes

Thursday, October 1, 2009

From Alec: September 22, 2009

Hello Everyone,
It's almost General Conference!!! We are way excited for that to come - it is such an amazing time that we have to listen to what really makes our religion Christ's true and living restored church. Even with the Book of Mormon we're not too different from most Christianity (the BOM and Bible are very similar, considering they originate from the same time period) except the fact that we claim, rightly, that we have a Prophet (and others) who has the authority to run the church directly from Jesus Christ himself. By the way - it is a great thing to invite people to, a very good missionary tool. You can rely on the fact that there are people who would be curious to hear what our prophet has to say.

Anyways, things are going pretty well here - last week was the first normal week that we had since the 2nd week of the transfer (weeks 3 & 4 were crazy). We also had two exchanges. On Monday we had our district leader, Elder Harrison come - that was a good day, he is a great missionary. Then on Thursday we had one of our Zone leaders, Elder Coffman, come with us. That was very awesome too. Then Friday was ZDM (zone development mtg). That was great - had some good instruction and it is always good to have an interview with President Bassett, he is just a great person.

Saturday consisted of getting ready for J's baptism. It went great too - J got baptized and everything went just smoothly. It was all her decision too, as was her coming to church 3 weeks in a row now. Her confirmation was great as well. Now that whole family (two sons and J) is baptized, which is a very good thing.

We had a great opportunity on Sunday as well - in 1st ward we got to pass the sacrament, and that was the first time since I was a deacon (I don't think I ever passed as a teacher) to do so. I loved it, you really gain an appreciation for the sacrament as a missionary. You try to bring investigators to it and it is directly linked to the main thing we are focused on - the covenant of baptism.

I also had an increase in testimony on the principle of fasting. This last Sunday I fasted for D. - because we don't really know (not that we don't have faith it can or will - we do) how to help him have the faith to make the right decisions in his life (i.e. baptism). We trust it will happen as we teach with the Spirit and are led by it, but at the moment we don't know. So 3rd ward fast and testimony meeting this Sunday was probably the most powerful one I have been in. I didn't even think about it until halfway through that it was an answer to my fast and prayer for him. He then stayed for Gospel Doctrine and that class was a very Spirit-filled class as well. One of the better ones I've ever attended. It was on the saving of souls (as taught by President Young in SLC) in relation to the pioneers and their story (so the handcart companies' story was part of it). If there's something that needs the extra help, for example something that you have need help overcoming in your personal life, then fasting is a great option. It has helped me quite a bit along the journey of my life.

Well, Love you guys and hope that you have a great week preceding and following General Conference!

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: September 15, 2009

Well, these last couple weeks have been interesting. I think I mentioned how last week was busy and crazy (not missionary work wise, just crazy)
We were down in Snowflake to go to the Temple on Tuesday, then got back to Heber. Our vehicle coordinator told us we had to take our truck in (our brakes were no bueno) to Snowflake, so we traveled back Tuesday night to stay in Snowflake and take her in the next morning. Well, yada yada our car is not ready until Thursday morning at 8:30 am. So we had to stay with the Elders in Snowflake (I was in Taylor) the whole Wednesday. We didn't even get out proselyting until Thursday late afternoon (We HAD to do laundry before we could do anything else).
But it was an ok week because:

J., this eternal investigator (her kids were baptized) set her own baptismal date! We went over on Saturday night to talk with her and asked her what she wanted out of the church/us coming over and she went off about how she really needed to come to church and be baptized. Elder Dursteler and I were like "ok....!" Then the next morning she was at church and that was the first time Elder D ever saw her at church. Then on Tuesday we went and met with her (our WML Bro Crandell came too) and she set her date herself; we said these are the open days and she picked. So September 26th (yes, this Saturday - this meeting was last week) should be her big day. It had been difficult to set the time because there is lots going on on Saturdays at the church, but with the Lord's help it will work out! She is awesome and we have seen a change in her since she decided to come to church (twice now!) and be baptized. She just seems happier and more at peace with herself.

A not too happy note - S. and J. had to move to Show Low. The forest ranger came out and said they'd have to leave - they were camping out. So they left yesterday/today. He'll most definitely get baptized over there though, so we're not worried. It really was for the best because there are no spare jobs in Heber. Not one. So for them to get anywhere they'd have to move to a bigger city. Yesterday was great - our district leader, Elder Harrison, came out on exchanges with us. It was a very good day - we only taught one recent-convert lesson, but we talked to everyone we saw and plus (tracting) and did what we could the whole day.

We were listening to a General Conference CD the other day (We got a few of them - they are great for long drives). Elder Eyring gave a talk about gratitude and remembering what the Lord had done for us. He made a commitment to himself (it was a commandment from the Lord actually) to write down in his journal what the Lord did for him and his family that day. He mentioned an interesting thing happened - over and over when trying to think of what he should write down he would realize a blessing from the Lord that in his busy frame of mind had gone unnoticed as a tender mercy. An increased sense of gratitude and love happened as he saw truly how much Heavenly Father's hand was in his every day. That is something that I think would be the same for everyone if they sincerely did the same thing. I know that in nightly prayers I have thought about how we were helped in our teaching and finding that I didn't really think about in the moment. Another amazing thing is that I have received revelation as to what we needed to do better as I asked a question and then pondered and listened. Revelation is a real thing, and all we need to is ask, seek, knock and especially: listen. Our Father in Heaven loves us soo, soo much and is constantly doing everything he can to get us to do what is right.

I just started reading the Book of Mormon again and in 1 Nephi 7:12 I was struck by something. Nephi here is chastening his hardhearted brothers, and he teaches something very tender:

"Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."

I never caught how it is the lord's will that we are faithful - and if we follow his will and are faithful and righteous, then he is able to bless us according to his will. He just wants us to do what is right so we can be happy.

"Wherefore, let us be faithful to him..."

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: September 8, 2009


We just got back from Snowflake after staying there the night, attending the temple, and then doing a zone activity. So I am tired - this might be a short email. Elder Dursteler and I and two other missionaries actually did baptisms for the dead this time. It was very neat - you can feel that some of the people who's names were read were either present in the room or full of joy up in the Spirit World.

Well, this last week in Heber was a very interesting one. We had very low numbers because we were busy running around to service, S. & J., weekly planning, zone conference in Payson, or other craziness. S. & J. were really having a hard time - very frustrated with life in general and how they were trying so hard to make it but just not doing well. So we spent lots of time with them this week.

We did also meet with an investigator named D. - he is a very neat guy. he's a ranch-hand who has been coming to church for a while. He grew up and went to Catholic school and has not had a very good experience with organized church nor church leaders, so he is having trouble with faith in anything at all. But he does love the members and the way he feels at church, so we'll be praying for his heart to soften and that he will come to know Christ through his restored Gospel - because that can heal up his wounded heart like nothing else could even compare.

It's an interesting thing to think that I reached my year mark recently - it hasn't weirded me out at all. I'm like Jon in that I won't really get nervous or feel any emotion about anything until it comes, so that is how it is right now. But it is good to look back and think if my mission has been what I desired it to be, if it was what I desire now, and most importantly if it has been what the Lord wanted out of me. I feel like there are many things to be changed, much repenting to be done, much like the prophet Joseph Smith talked about "Search your heart to see if it is like God's; I have searched mine and feel the need to repent."

I love this Gospel and I know that it is the fullness of Jesus Christ's Gospel because only he could have done what has been worked in my life and in my heart. His servant, Thomas S. Monson has truly been called to be the prophet - and by hearkening to his words we can come closer to the Kingdom of Heaven and its happiness. This has been revealed unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost. I still cannot believe that I have such an amazing gift. I just hope that I can live up to its standards and be the servant the Lord desires of me.

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: September 1, 2009

Hello everyone,

Well - the reason I am sending emails today is because yesterday was very crazy. Not only the preparation day part of it but even afterwards. I won't send any details because we have to be quick - we have lots we have to do today. Thank you for all of the love, sending emails and also everything for my birthday too. Next year I'm going to be a twice-uncle, eh? I'll send an email next week to you guys, but congrats Jon & Nicole!

Well, Heber is still a beautiful place. You'll get a picture CD soon (I'm making it tomorrow when we're in Payson) and about half of the pictures I have taken here are of the sky - it is almost always stormy here and it makes for some beautiful pictures.

We are working hard to teach and find new people, as our investigator pool is alot shallower here. We are working with this couple, S and J. They are great people, J is a less-active member who has started coming back while S is meeting with us. We have a baptismal date set for him for September 30th, and the only thing keeping him from it is smoking. They are really having a hard time right now though - they are "residentially challenged" as S puts it. Basically they are camping out in the woods because they do not have a home. They have a tent and a truck (though the truck is really giving them problems) but it is very difficult for them. Luckily, the people in the ward are amazing and have been helping so much. Just keep them in your prayers.

We're heading down to Young today, which should be fun - I love going down there, there are such great people down in that little valley. We won't be able to visit J (our new investigator down there - he is awesome!) because he will be out of town, but we should be able to teach some recent converts and do some good hopefully!

We'll also be meeting with this investigator I have only met so far - D. He lives in Globe but comes and works on a member's ranch out here. He has been coming to church very regularily, and he just feels (this is what Elder Dursteler told me) that baptism is a very big step, and he seems very nervous about himself. But he is a great guy, and we'll try to help him understand that he can do it, with Heavenly Father's help.

Well, you would be very jealous, Dad - we met with this great couple and visited with them (They are very nice, but we're not to where we can teach them yet). The neat thing was though, that before we left, M. gave us a ride in his truck - a restored '48 chevy pickup. Man that was neat - he had me start it actually. You'll see the pictures.

Well I'll just close with my testimony - our Father in Heaven is mindful of all of us, and all he wants us to do is to have joy in this life, but even more so to have joy with him in Eternal Life. I am reminded of how much He loves us when I read Jacob 5. There is a verse in which the master of the vineyard, when he sees his trees becoming wild and bringing forth bad fruit, even after all of his struggling, weeps and says "What more could I have done for my vineyard?" He has given us this gospel, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have a living prophet today so that we are not left alone to our own intelligence to try and figure out how to be happy, and what the purpose of life really is. Jesus Christ lives, and this is his church today - that is why it is so important that we share it! love you all,

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: August 25, 2009

Hello everyone,

Things are going well in Heber - it is a very much different place than Mesa. No huge city-ness. The temperature is like 50's-80's at this time of year. It was 86 when we were driving up to do emails. Lots of hills and pine trees too. It is a nice place - we cover three wards, Heber 1, 2, 3rd Wards- and then also a branch in a little valley community called Young. (We have to travel about 1 hour to Young from Heber - though it isn't as far as that sounds distance-wise because about half of that is dirt road that is windy and sometimes rough. We wouldn't have been able to do some of the work we've already done with a car - it would have died. Our White Chevy Colorado is exactly what we need. We had to use 4 wheel drive on the way down and when we were in Young. The branch is great though, we spoke at sacrament meeting on missionary work. It was great too because we went down on Saturday and had a lesson with this guy named J. who is staying with a convert of a few years. He is great - the Lord knows exactly what we all need and knows his children, especially those who are ready that they will receive the guidance and truth they can handle/desire. We'll be heading back down to Young on Wednesday - I'm excited to teach J. again. We don't really cover any reservation, though we do cover Heber and to the little valley community called Young and everything in between so we could technically cover some. But we have no reservation wards or anything.

It has been a little bit of a shock to be up here - I didn't think it would be because I was just excited to have a change of scenery and go up north, but it is very different up here - the people are different to a degree (of course the church and love is the same) and being in a truck the whole time is very different. Our teaching pool isn't necessarily smaller, but for some reason it feels like it - I think it is because new investigators are harder to come by as we just don't get as much of a chance to do street contacts, and there are no apartments - everyone is lots more spread out, the only thing close to an apartment is trailer parks, and those are few too. I'm greenie-breaking Elder Dursteler, he's been out for about 2 transfers, and he is a good missionary who loves the people - which is all that really matters.

We have this couple named S. and J. - J. is a member but has never been active. We have a baptismal date for S., though we'll probably have to push it back to be sure he is keeping the word of wisdom (he is trying to quit smoking). They are actually homeless in a way - they are basically camping out the whole time (they have a tent and a truck and stuff - but no home or anything). But we have already seen the Lord bless them spiritually and temporally as they have obeyed the gospel. We have a few others but I haven't got to know them well yet - as there are a few out of town at the moment and the others we haven't been able to teach yet.

I have realized this week how important it is to be positive. Fear and doubt are negative and do nothing good, and attitudes change the courses of people's lives. Getting down on oneself or dwelling too much on our weaknesses (we should try to identify and remember them - they are there to keep us humble) without the focus that with Christ's help those things can be made strong. That is such a key thing, because the only way we can change or make weaknesses strong is to let Christ change us as we exercise faith in him and do what he asks of us. If we want to be happy we must to things that bring us happiness. Love you guys - thanks for all the love, packages and messages!

Elder Hoopes

Rachel - block schedule? Whats that mean? I can't believe you have Ms. Taylor - that is one crazy woman. She is awesome and a good teacher - and I enjoyed that class even though I disliked about 95% of the literature we read (not counting the ones where we got to choose what we read - I liked all of those ;) Didn't you do the outline for Siddhartha for me? I remember asking you to help me outline because you could do it faster and I read so slow when I outline. I bet that will come in handy!

From Alec: August 11, 2009


Thanks for the packages!!
Rachel a senior? weird, very weird. Time flies. p.s. Rachel - if you wanted to get me a birthday present you could burn me a copy of the Best Two Years movie soundtrack - I cannot find that anywhere and it is awesome.

soooo I got transferred to a little place called Heber, Arizona - if you want to look on a map it is central/north(ish) Arizona close to Snowflake and Show Low. I just got here about 3 hours ago so I don't know much yet. My new companion is Elder Dursteler from Kuna, ID. (yep) I think he lived in Wyoming before that too. So it's about 70 degrees up here in Heber - and raining right now. It's a very pretty area and I wouldn't be surprised if I got snow while I am here. We are in a truck! and our apartment/duplex thingy is very nice.

Well, there is alot going on in my head right now, and I can't remember any stuff from last week - so this will be a short email.

This life is such a short span of time, and the thing that I've found in life that is of the most value is your personal health (spiritual, emotional, and physical) and your relationships. There are some amazing people out there. A good thing to do is to try and cultivate love in all of your relationships. Shakespeare once said "They do not love that do not show their love". I thought that was profound.
Well, I love you all,

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: August 4, 2009

Hello everyone!

Well mom, I am glad you got to do some service for Danna and J. When you really serve someone when they just really need the help it feels very rewarding. Not that that should be the reason you serve, but it is a natural byproduct.

Well, it is still hot in Arizona. And it isn't very cool when your Camelbak starts leaking, so I have to use this cheap other one that doesn't let you get enough water when you try to drink it until I can contact the warranty department for my other resevoir. At least I still have one though.

Well, L. had a hard time again - her baptism was cancelled last minute and she will be trying to move out of the bad apartments she is living in. But she is still very willing to meet with us (she actually just called us a few minutes ago) and keep coming to church. She is a strong lady to keep pushing through despite bipolar disorder, seizures, and Satan (and his angels) working against her. She still has alot to learn and apply but she's trying, which is all that is important. I guess that before sentence applies to everyone on the earth - so we just need to be patient/diligent and loving.

We had a huge 3 lesson meeting (in one block) with J. and R.. I think it might be one of the only lessons ever to begin with watching the movie Johnny Lingo. Oh man that was hilarious, Johnny was cracking up with the quotes like ("Mohanna you ugly!" and "Mohanna's face will crack the glass!"), though R. wasn't. It wasn't our idea - Wayne Taylor our WML there, who is their fellowshipper, threw it in. Elder Morgan and I have been quoting it every day since then. That day we set a baptismal date with them too - they are so awesome and responding to the Spirit. The date is all the way into September - hopefully even if I get transferred (transfers are next week) I'll be able to come. President should let me because they want me to give a talk in their baptismal service.

Kind of a sad/scary thing - we haven't heard anything from A. since her passed baptismal interview. This same thing did happen early on in teaching her though - so I won't be surprised to see her call us one day asking if we've forgotten her... We've either called or stopped by like every day so far.

Anyways, we also had a handful of people that might be potentially awesome investigators - two of them we met when they were at church on Sunday. That is always a good sign!

This last week I have remembered the importance of being close to and worthy of the Spirit. I felt a little good feeling about going back into this apartment complex square to talk to this guy and we said hi and he asked us a question. It ended up being a very good thing for this guy who didn't know very much about our faith (he is from TN) including the people he was visiting who aren't LDS, but seemed on our side as they told him how much respect they had for us because they know we would help them move if they needed it. Just a cool thing - the Spirit, prayer, and covenants are the only things that connect us directly to our Father in Heaven at this stage of our eternities. Thus it is so so important to be close to the Spirit - because it is through the Holy Ghost that prayer and covenants come alive into real things that have the power to change eternities. I love you all - hold tight to those three things. (I guess scriptures/word of God are a link as well - I forgot that, but they're none the less important!) Love all of you,

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: July 28, 2009


Thanks for the updates, Dad. I love to hear what is happening up there. Glad Bishop Stewart is doing so well, he really is a great man.
Mom is busy? that's abnormal...
If you remember right, Dad, I did like you reading to me - it's just I got too busy when I was in high school and Rachel was always against it.

I'm emailing early because we'll be having a zone activity at 1:00 today. which is a huge homemade slip-n-slide. It will be fun...but for about 15 minutes. Elder Morgan and I will probably spend the rest napping because of the 5:30 am temple session - it still was great. I do love the temple, wish we had more time to be there - but I guess that's for after the mish.

Well, things are going very well here. We had two baptismal interviews this last week - one for L. and one for A. They both passed (they are both awesome, both gave up smoking the same month we taught them about it). The only thing is, L. stayed with her Dad over the weekend because her window got smashed in, and she didn't make it to church for some reason. We haven't been able to get a hold of her either, so we can easily assume Satan is predictably doing his best to spread unhappiness.
Also A. wasn't at church either - I think it was because she was helping her mom move on Sunday. So if that is the case it's a legit reason but we haven't had contact again since Saturday. I think the most annoying thing in missionary work is when you lose contact with people. Because you just don't know what is going on in the least - and there is nothing you can do (besides keep attempting contact) except wait for them to contact you.

There was a cool thing at church - R. and J. came to all three hours (usually they can only come to the last two - sacrament meeting is hard with the grandkids they bring). And after Sacrament meeting they talked with Bishop Clanton and they kept talking for about 20 minutes. Bishop definitely talked with them about baptism (he asked me as I passed if we had told them it is a beginning not an end) and it seemed like an awesome conversation. At the end of Sunday school, R. told me they want us to come over and teach them everything again in one day. Like a huge lesson. We'll see what happens! They are so awesome, we both want the best for them.

We had a cool experience with J. and S. We've been trying to get them to read the Book of Mormon for the whole time I've been here, and also tried getting them to church. If you had a vision, like the tree of life one Nephi had, about us teaching them, it would consist of Elder Morgan and I beating them over the head with the Gold Plates. Why does it seem so hard to get someone to do something that will make them happy? But of course, it doesn't matter what we do, the only thing that will compel souls to do good is the Spirit sent by our Father in Heaven. It's not us. That fact is comforting, as well, for the missionaries. It doesn't matter how skilled or smart we are; what really matters is if we are humble and faith-full so that the Spirit can work through us. That is the beautiful thing about this earth experience - I love you all,

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: August 7, 2009

Hello everyone,

Things are going well here in Mesa. Thanks for the email, Dad. By the way - I met someone a while back who was related to Terry Hoopes, and I remember dad mentioning something about an Uncle Terry. It is a small world (especially when you're LDS). Oh and thanks Dad too for the advice. With all of those campouts, I bet you're not only happy to be back at home in a nice bed but also able to get some good rest.

We are doing well - Elder Morgan is a great missionary, it has been so awesome to serve with him. It makes you feel good to see a missionary you've served with teach with the Spirit.

Some heavy/tough things - L. had the devil trying everything to keep her from baptism [long story, ask when I'm home] (Elder Morgan and I think that with how hard Satan is trying to thwart her conversion that her son must be destined to be a general authority or something). Also M. isn't doing well, he's putting a little too much emphasis on the human intellect and not on the heart, he needs prayers right now.

Happier things;
D. called us to say he was safe in Texas, and that while he was speaking to us, two sister missionaries were walking up to the house. He is awesome, hopefully his wife's heart can be softened.

We've been trying to get this guy, A., to let us teach him and his family - and that should happen tomorrow (even though I'll be on exchanges, not cool) and then he promised that just for us he would come to church this sunday. He said he never goes to any church but he'll come at least this once. He is a great guy.

A. is doing great - though she was was sick so she missed church.

This last week we taught some great people. On Saturday, we taught T. He has come to church two weeks in a row now, and I love being in lessons with him. He seems so open and really ready to do things. All the ward members that introduce themselves to him all come back to us and say how nice of a person he is. Hopefully he can hearken to the Spirit as he keeps commitments. This gospel is really what he needs in life, of course as everyone does.

We also were able to sit down with J. and R., we watched the movie "Together Forever" with them. That movie brings such a good spirit to the home where it is playing, you could just tell their house felt different. The grandkids quieted down quite a bit too, but that probably was helped by all of the coloring books I whipped out. Still, there is peace in the Spirit. And it is kinda sad to see the things/beliefs that people are unwilling to give up, when in reality it would make them so much happier to accept the advice of our loving Heavenly Father through his ordained prophet. Doing that is the only way anything will last, even those good things in life (such as family relationships, the good feeling from accomplishing something, etc...) cannot last unless they are done according to the ways our Father in Heaven has chosen (that's why he's chosen them). But how much more amazing is it to see the penitent sacrifice their will for a higher cause, and choose happiness and eternal life. Never fear or doubt, only have faith in what Heavenly Father has revealed unto us.

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: August 7, 2009


It is hot down here, but it really isn't too bad when you have such modern things as sunscreen, sunglasses, camelbaks, AC houses of people when you teach them. How are things going up there? I know the weather is beautiful.

Things are alright down here - T. got the priesthood and he gave a short talk in sacrament meeting two days ago, and apparently it was really good. (We had to be to our other ward).

D. finally came to church!! A big reason was because he is moving to Texas and he felt it was something he had to do for us. It was great, the people at the ward were awesome and he participated in Gospel Doctrine class (we had someone ask us if he was a member) and it was, as he said, a great experience for him. Hopefully he will start going to church regularily with his LDS in-laws.

We had some big downers on Friday and Saturday as we had like 10 lessons fall through. So lots of wasted time and really very little to show for it, but that is alright. A. and D. (her BF or husband, we still can't figure out which - next lesson = law of chastity to figure out once and for all) came to church. Apparently D. liked it so hopefully they can both keep coming. It is so awesome - they used to be fighting alot but A. said that now that she's been coming to church she just doesn't care about the little things or getting the last word in anymore, and so the arguements have slowed down. They are awesome, A. and her two kids came with us to FHE with one of our ward missionaries. It was great.

I am in the book of Helaman in the Book of Mormon, and in Chapter 12 someone (I think Mormon in his abridging) is lamenting about how quick to do evil are the children of men. He says it so well:

"Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. "

All he wants is to guide us through the mists of darkness and into his fullness of joy, one step at a time. But all to often we will not that "he should be [our] guide". We let things distract us and listen to the enticings of the evil one. Sometimes too we dig ourselves into a hole with complaining or feeling that we are entitled to an easy way if we do what is right. I can't remember which of the Brethren said it, but in this recent general conference (either Elder Hales or Oaks I think) a talk mentioned how dangerous and unsteady feelings of being entitled are.

But all we need do is be blessed ; (Hel 12:23)
"Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved."

As we go about this life, we will learn line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. We need to slowly learn what is lasting, what is good, what is true, and how to always act accordingly. That's why we're here, and that's why I'm here in Mesa.
Love you all very much,

Elder Hoopes