Tuesday, March 9, 2010

From Alec: March 9, 2010

Hello everyone,

Good to hear all of the news! So I've got a niece now; it is slightly weird knowing Jon and Nicole just had a daughter because I left before they got married even - for a while I had to catch myself and say "my brother's wife" (or sister-in-law - right?) instead of "my brother's fiancee". Missing both the wedding and new baby is not cool - but as I'll see them soon anyways, not too upset about it. Tell you what, home has been seeming closer and closer with getting BYU stuff ready and everything.


Today we went to the Mesa Temple (first time in a long time for me) and did initiatories and sealings instead of a session. It was very neat to do some again and to take part in sealings - that really is the end goal for the people we teach, and so we were glad to be able to do that. The Spirit of the Lord is always present in the Lord's House.

Last week was a very different week. We had no investigator lessons but worked hard - we talked to lots of people and have many more potential investigators. We talked about it and we did have a couple off weeks before where we did well but could have been a little more diligent - but nothing to warrant no investigators. We have felt good about our efforts and hard work and so we can only trust that things will improve as we work hard and follow the Spirit.

We actually saw a little of it yesterday - we taught this kid named D. whose mom is a member. He just turned 9 on Sunday the 7th, and they didn't get his baptism done and so it has become our responsibility - he should get baptized on the 27th of March. He's a great, knowledgeable kid. We've also got some good lessons set for tonight, so things are already looking promising.

Oh and an update for you, Dad, about my WML. Brother Jon Weller is a psychologist with his own practice here. He went to Michigan State for schooling (after BYU) and is actually the Arizona Missions' psychologist (all 3 of the valley ones). He also joked with me if you've ever considered coming down to Arizona because he'd like an LDS psychiatrist down here.

On Thursday we went to the visitors' center and watched the Prophet of the Restoration movie with S. and J. (and their son, M.). They are the couple that are both not active (and she has no church records anymore, and they had a daughter pass away) They all loved the movie and are all going to come to church this Sunday. We have really been able to see the peace and spirit of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ enter into their hearts. They are so open and thankful and much more bright than at first. Their little family's journey back is a beautiful miracle in itself.

It's wonderful how we're all in this together and how many people reach out with the attitude of charity, especially in this church. Everyone we saw at the temple were there in the service of others, and all over the world missionaries and saints with all sorts of callings reach out to each other and others with warm hearts and friendly hands (D&C 121:9). We can do even more, and we will - "the Lord is with us, we can do it!"

Love you all,

Elder Hoopes

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

From Alec: March 2, 2010

Hello everyone!
You can probably tell from my title I did some hiking today. Elder Hadley and I went with a couple guys from a ward here and climbed part of the Superstition Mountains - we went to the top of FlatIron, pretty near close to the top on the face that faces the Phoenix Valley. It was very cool and fun, tell you what though, I'm tired. Especially because I have had a scratchy throat for a few days. It was pretty sweet nonetheless.

Last week was an ok one - We got pretty close to our limit on miles and so Thursday after weekly planning we just headed out with our bikes. We were exhausted at the end of that day - and it went alright.

On Saturday S. got baptized! It was great - very hectic because the baptismal coordinators called us on Friday needing us to find talks and prayers for the service (assign them - we couldn't do them). And S. was late, and by that I mean she showed up just before the service was supposed to start. But besides all that, the Spirit was there and it went very well. Oh yeah and she had to get dunked twice, that was a little humorous.

Outside of a cancelled appointment there were some young girls kicking a soccerball around and so I joined in a little. They thought I was pretty good because I could kick the ball pretty high/well and do a couple tricks. I will definitely be trying out for BYU one last time at least when I get home. Which reminds me - Jon stated a pretty good point, I'll most likely get off a little early to make the semester - my mission president will probably want me to make the 'cut'.

Yesterday was very neat - we decided to take Sister Bassett's challenge from zone conference about contacting former investigators, to find (this was a promise) someone who is ready to be taught and ready to be baptized. So we contacted lots yesterday. It wore me out and we went like 100 miles in our car (whew!) but we have three potentials and one that was a bit of a miracle (we'll see if they're the ones). I was with an elder who is just about to go on his mission doing splits and he needed to be home pretty soon. So we got a couple names to go by in this apartment complex and saw two people close by walking two dogs. We went and talked with them and they turned out to be this couple who are former investigators (I recognized the name; we couldn't find their apartment earlier). We ended up talking with them for a while and they were totally ok with us teaching them again. It was then time to take the elder home and so we didn't even end up contacting the people we were planning on contacting. It seemed pretty miraculous - many pages of formers and 42 TTI's later we might have found them. I'm excited about that.

Love you all and hope you have a great week - hopefully everything goes alright with Nicole and Audrey.

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: February 23, 2010

Hello everybody,

Thanks for all of the emails, and the Valentine’s Day package, Mom. I'm tired so this should be a shorter email - we played 3 V 4 soccer (a little basketball too) and I was on the 3 team so we ran quite a bit. Rachel is going to BYU-I do! hehe that's a nickname some give it. That should be great though - you'll probably see lots of people you know from school and EFY. (you went to EFY right?)

About my schooling - that sounds like I would miss two weeks basically, because I think I leave the mission sometime Tuesday, September 7th in the late afternoon. I was planning on spending the rest of the week with the fam in Idaho. This all sounds very rushed - ask Jon about how feasible this all would be. I think the first (maybe two) weeks you can still change classes but I don't want to miss a ton. That would be not cool to barely miss it and not know what to do with myself for a whole semester too. If I do go I'll room with J. Turner and the guys.

Well, it is already the third week in this transfer - going by way too fast. S. is still set for her baptism this Saturday, we are very excited for her. L., her non-member husband, came to church this Sunday even! that was neat to see - he'll also be there this next Sunday for her confirmation. Donna hasn't felt good health-wise this past while so she wasn't even able to make it to church (her second miss since November). We'll have a lesson with her later this week and set a date for her in case she does come back from a trip (she might stay and go with family) in March. Great lady, needs the blessings of Christ's gospel so much (we all do).

We also had a great fireside on Sunday night, put on by us and a ward missionary in Oasis Verde ward. It was for the youth (12-18) and many came, including the leaders and bishop (the ward missionary is the bishop's wife so he'd be in trouble if he didn't). It went very well - talked about some of the myths that most members believe about doing missionary work.

Monday we had this huge rainstorm come in. I went out to put our bikerack on our car and saw in the distance really dark stormclouds and rain. Then I heard very loud thunder coming from there as the wind was blowing quickly from that direction toward us. Within 15 minutes it came and just being out for like 5 minutes our pants got soaked (I was wearing a rain jacket though). I found this nice L.L. Bean cobalt blue rainjacket (long one) with a hood in our apartment. I'm not sure if I want to keep and use it as my one now and leave that black one... the black one is like a trenchcoat and I think I scare people sometimes with it. I'll figure it out. Gotta love Arizona monsoons.

Tuesday we had Zone Conference and it was great. It will be sad to see President and Sister Bassett go, and unless I’m up on the reservations (or Holbrook/Winslow) in 'painted desert' zone by July I will have President Ellsworth as the new one. If I get transferred up there I will be annexed into the Farmington NM mission when it gets created.

This Church does so much for any that give it a chance - it is the same as Heb 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."We believe that our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to diligently seek him. I've also come to realized that the church is here for all of those that want there to be one Lord, one truth and one true way to follow him. Wonderfully, that is the way it is, and we can all know through the power of the Holy ghost. Strait is the gate, and narrow is Christ's gate - and also how rewarding it is.

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: February 16, 2010

Hello everyone,

Everything is going pretty good down here in very East Mesa. I said in my subject 'County Island' because apparently this is so far East Mesa that Mesa county doesn't like to claim it, and Apache Junction says it's not AJ - so people here call it the 'County Island'. We cover three wards: Crismon, Oasis Verde, and Boulder Mtn. All of our investigators are in Crismon ward at the moment and we have two progressing ones that we are both excited about. At the moment we have no work at all in Boulder Mountain ward (did have some LAs and a referral, but neither panned out for us to do anything) because they are a very affluent area with almost all gated communities - if we stop to talk with people in the communities we'll get kicked out (that's what Elder Hadley said, but I think we'll test it ;)

We are teaching a lady named S. - she has a baptismal date for the 27th of February and is doing very well. Her husband was raised in Utah and knows so much about the church and church history (though he's a Catholic). He is very supportive, though, and sat in on the last lesson we had on the Law of Chastity and Tithing. She had a neat experience on Sunday too - I had to teach the gospel principles class (which is a hilarious story in itself, you'll hear it when I get home) and I decided (in Sacrament meeting, I usually don't procrastinate that long...) to teach about Freedom to Choose. It was a good discussion and Sylvia was there in the class even though we didn't see her in Sacrament meeting. She shared a comment that she had a choice this morning after waking up later than normal; she could come still or stay at home. She said that she decided to come because she would feel empty inside if she didn't and she knew she would feel the Spirit here. That, of course, is music to missionaries’ ears. Great lady, I'm excited to be here for her baptism.

We are also teaching an elderly lady named D. She has only missed one Sunday since she started being taught in November of '09. I think she had told missionaries that she doesn't like 'jumping into things' and so I'm not sure they had even tried to give the baptismal commitment. So last week we taught her about the word of wisdom and Elder Hadley committed her to read 1 Nephi 1 and pray about it and promised she would get her answer. We talked on Monday and she said she read it 3 times (Elder Hadley said she wasn't reading much before) and prayed many times too. She didn't feel like she got her answer but we continued talking about her coming to church and she herself said she feels the Spirit there. So we testified she'd already gotten most of her answer and did the baptismal commitment, but she will be leaving March 7 (or so) and be gone for March 13 for her boyfriend's son's major surgery (that's when we tried to set the date). But we could both tell she was willing to get baptized and set the date, so we'll just be praying that everything will work out that she can get baptized sooner than later.

How is little Audrey Hoopes doing? Any news at all or is Jon doing his single college student routine of not giving home any news? Also Laurie and _____?

One last thing to mention - Saturday is a special day... hehe that silly primary song came into my head. But Saturday this last week went great - we had a lesson with this 19 year-old convert, C., about setting goals specifically for a mission. We asked him before we started and he said he and the bishop had sat down and set some goals. So we'll be trying to help him get out on a mission.

Later that night we had a lesson with this LA family. Bro M. is the lifetime member who even remembers with longing when he and his parents went to the temple and were sealed. He's a harley biker who wears leather all the time (he's got this long ponytail too) and works at a bike shop. Good guy though, who knows what is true and that his family needs to get it together and get to the temple, but said he feels unworthy to even meet with the bishop. We had the lesson and talked about the plan of Salvation after watching a little video about it on the D&C/Church history DVD Jon gave me a while back. The Spirit came into their home and we all felt it, Sister M. (who Elder Hadley has never seen at church - just Bro M. and the oldest son, V.) said she would like their family to get sealed. Then the next day on Sunday they all showed up! the whole family came for Sacrament meeting. We love that family and should be working with them alot to get them truly active and temple worthy. Oh and just a funny tidbit - V. wears (both times I've been over at their house) black shirts with ripped jeans, a black baseball cap and has a long dark mullet haircut so he looks exactly like Wayne of Wayne’s World!!! It makes me chuckle every time. Also at Church Bro M. just had his hair out and long and it's all blond frizzy so he looked almost exactly like the scientist guy in "Back to the Future".

Whew, man they are great. I love this work, and it is work... When you work hard and follow the Spirit in faith there is nothing better. I realized once again what we are fighting for this Sunday. Had some interesting street contacts (one drunkard, another guy who said 'Dust your feet off and leave', and a 'Mormon hater' from Utah, and many others) and it just got me feeling like I didn't feel like it was worth it to try to talk to anybody. Then we had dinner with a member family. The Spirit and peace that is in the home of a worthy, loving family who is sealed together by the holy priesthood of God in his holy Temple is something that is so precious and sweet. At no other time in my life will I be able to fight with all of my strength and attention for the safety and strength of families than on my mission. Especially at a time when Satan is trying so hard to make everyone miserable. Always go forward with faith and perfect love,

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: February 9, 2010

Hello everyone,

I am no longer in Heber. Just a matter of a few hours ago I came to very east Mesa (bordering Apache Junction). It is so hot (though probably cold to the people here) but at least it is still a beautiful area - we have mountains just minutes (15 or so) away from us and makes for beautiful scenery, even with the saguaro cactus all over - actually that increases the neat view.
I know very little about this area, of course. It is weird to be in a populated area with traffic lights after Heber for 6 months. I'm with Elder Hadley from Portland OR. He served in Snowflake when I was up north, so we know each other fairly well.

In Heber, L. has her baptism date for the 20th, hopefully it holds. K. is getting baptized Thursday night.

Keep praying for me, I love you all,

Elder A. Hoopes

From Alec: February 1, 2010

Hello from Heber Arizona!!!
(for possibly the last time)

Life is good. (ha - in my last area we had a WML who would say that all the time. He would also say "That's/it's more fun than recess!")
The reason for the above comment is because we learn transfer news this Saturday night. I have been here for 4 transfers (5 1/2 months) and with Elder Moore here for 3 transfers. So it is pretty much guaranteed. Wow, guaranteed is a weird word - it looks like the name of some type of jungle plant that you put in smoothies. So anyways, there will be something happening. It is more likely me leaving but considering I was just made district leader up here. I could see myself staying another one while Elder Moore gets the boot. Enough prophesying...

Thanks for the emails - that is so crazy that Ben's bishop is moving two states distance and landing right in 5th ward.

J. and H. Hoopes? Well they are still in our teaching pool but they have not really kept any commitments regularly at all (came to church 3 times since we first started teaching them in October, for example) and so we have one last lesson (with content we think might help) we have planned to teach them but unless something happens we'll probably drop them as investigators. But his brother is a very active member now and he's got his awesome missionary-oriented grandparents, so they'll never be forgotten - and H. will get baptized sooner or later.

Well last Wednesday went very well - after the District Leader counsel in Snowflake we taught a few lessons back in Heber - including a suprise one at the member's house that we ate dinner at.

Thursday was a good day - we taught one lesson before dinner with D., this 8 1/2 year old son of a less-active. We had our Book of Mormon class - it went well, we had 9 people come this time - and it went pretty well. L. came and enjoyed it. Speaking of L., we had a lesson on Friday with her and set a new date, February 20th, for her baptism. That might change because the church will be busy on that day, but it will be thereabouts. She is great and doing so well despite having troubles trying to get R. more involved and dedicated at the moment.

Saturday I went on an exchange with the Taylor Elders. We have 4 companionships in the district: Us (Heber Elders), the Snowflake Elders (or rather now the Bellybutton Elders - look it up on a map, it's the little stretch in between Taylor and Snowflake. They live in Bellybutton now, so we affectionately refer to them by that), the Snowflake Zone Leaders, and the Taylor Elders.
I went with one Elder and it was a great day. This certain Elder has been struggling and I really wanted to help him to have a good mission. We went out with faith and I know increased my faith in the Savior and in his purpose for placing us where we are - I hope he did as well.

Monday was a great great day - we accomplished so much because of the Lord's gift of faith to us and the things he blessed us with. We were able to teach all three scheduled lessons for the night - including with K., this 8 year old son of a less-active who is turning 9 on Feb 11. It was going to be a child-of-record baptism, but the baptism date the family will be able to attend is on his birthday, and so it will go through us.

Then we taught a nice guy named John. The lesson went well and he committed to read, pray and also be at church on Sunday - finally another promising investigator in 2nd ward.

This really is Christ's church, I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God - and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet as well.

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: January 25, 2010

Hello from Heber,

You might notice this is from a different email address - they have switched all missionaries (at least in our mission) over to a new google account, so my new email address is


though I believe if sent to my old one it will still get here.

Thank you for the emails - poor cousin Danna; 10+ lbs newborn! I think she will get some extra blessings for having to go through that.
Thanks for telling me, Dad, about Hilde. Through email or anything else I think it would be the same for me. It was funny though - I started to tear-up/cry here in the Snowflake Library. Good thing I was next to a wall that I could hide it a little bit. I never expected a dog's passing to effect me like that at all - but we all did love her. I'm not upset at all, so don't worry in the least. What you said about our knowledge of God's plan is verily true. (that might be a redundant statement there at the end...hehe).

The Lord is still with us here in northern Arizona. This morning we attended a session at the Snowflake Temple. Always good, I've been looking forward to it for a little while now.

Tuesday night we had 3 lessons set and they all fell through... such is the life of a missionary at times.

Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder Caywood in Snowflake. It was very good, we taught a few lessons, including one to this young family (dad = LA member) with the cutest little blonde girl of about 3. I love teaching families - you feel so much love for them and a desire to bless their lives with the restored gospel.

Thursday we got lots of snow, it was neat! we helped a WML shovel his driveway and then they fed us lunch. We still trudged through a couple feet of snow to get to one lesson, and taught our Book of Mormon class (3 attendees once again - different ones though, we weren't too surprised, the weather the way it was many were snowed in) and that had the Spirit there again.

Friday was very fun - did some good work, including driving through 2 1/2 foot of untouched snow to get to a house to teach an investigator. To protect the plastic on the front of our truck we backed it and I sat in the truck bed and directed Elder Moore for 30 feet or so, it was fun (and safe. Don't worry, we were going like 2 mph). Needless to say they were surprised to see us there!

Saturday was an amazing day - we talked to alot of people, and we might have some new golden investigators in the future.

M. made it to church with S. - that was good to see. R. was sleeping and L. didn't think to call us so they missed church. We're hoping to meet with them again this week.

Monday I had Elder Jenkins come to Heber to be on an exchange with me - it was a very good day, we worked hard, and I learned quite a bit.

Well, time slips by like a pig covered in butter (that is, fast and hard to catch. I know that thanks to Eagle Pioneer Day at Lonesome Dove Ranch). Nicole mentioned that phenomenon in her email, and I have been meditating on that quite a bit recently, as my mission really is in the autumn stages. Time is one of our most precious resources that we have been given from our Father in Heaven. We don't always have choices about our situations, but as a wise Gandalf once said, "...all that you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you". It is especially important when we think about how our lives, and especially our eternity, are dependent upon what we choose to do with our time. Elder Eyring advised that we 'invest' our time, instead of 'spend' or 'waste' it. That is something I still have to work on and could possibly be a struggle when I get home. However, let us all 'invest' in that which will grow and flourish: our families rooted in this gospel - and this gospel itself.

Love you all, hope you have a great week,

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: January 18, 2010


Some new things happening for us here. I think in a couple weeks the ldsmail will be changing - I just set up an account in the new one. Next week still send to alec.b.hoopes.AMM but after that it might be (I'll tell you next week) elderabhoopes. It's a little shorter :)
We've also got the first bit of what is supposed to be some big blizzards down here. We got 1 inch last night but apparently by the end of the week we should have 3 feet or so. Friday is supposed to be the bad blizzard day. Elder Moore and I are hopeful, we think that would be neat - and it would be the most snow I've seen somewhere where I lived! in Arizona! Who would've guessed.

Last week we did our first Book of Mormon class on Thursday night. It happened to also be the same time as a stake "New Beginnings" young women activity so that took 2 of our WMLs out of the picture and 2 ward missionaries. We only had 3 people show up but it actually went very well, the Spirit was there and those 3 really enjoyed it. We've gotten lots of promises to be there this Thursday and I think it was announced thoroughly in all of our 3 sacrament meetings. Pray for us and it to be a good activity!

We gave a talk in 3rd ward on Sunday. It went very well. We have now officially given a talk in all of our wards/branch that we cover in this area. That is a first for me as well as Elder Moore. I've given as many talks up here in Heber as I have the rest of my mission.

Yesterday went pretty well - we had a lesson with this new couple we found last week or so, Jack and Misti. The lesson went well - they were interested in listening to our message, and the Spirit was most definitely there. We'll follow up later in the week and teach them again next week.

We've got a booked night - a lesson with T. and D. later at 8, hopefully we can help them understand that they want this gospel in their lives for their family.

The field is white, even when it is not snowing. I love this work, and it is work! (Pres. Ezra T. Benson) I love sharing this wonderful message because not only does it bring peace and joy to those who hearken to it, but also because just the living and sharing of it brings immense joy and spiritual satisfaction. What is even more wonderful is that those blessings are open to all who have a humble heart and are willing to sacrifice pride and anything else that would keep them from happiness. We don't need to be wealthy, famous, handsome, educated, talented, or intellectual. The Lord has told all to come unto him (3 Nephi 18:25). Love you all,

Elder A. Hoopes

From Alec: January 12, 2010

Hi everyone,

Elder Hoopes reporting from northern Arizona. This last week was a very interesting one. Thanks for the package mom, and thanks karene for putting that book together - I read it very soon after opening it. I realized how central to our familys' happy experiences and strength in the gospel goes back to Mom's mighty faith. Love you, Mom.

Wednesday was a great day - we headed out to Snowflake for the first district meeting that I was to conduct - it went very well, the Spirit was very present and I feel that what the Lord wanted said was said. It really got me excited, and even though we had two lessons cancel that day, we did a lot of work. By the time dinner came around I was very tired so I had to take a nap. We then taught the H. - we watched "Safety for the Soul" by Elder Holland. That was exactly what was needed.

Thursday was a different day - our plans got messed up because we were planning on teaching Aaron but he was feeling sick. We were still able to get some good work done, however. We were able to follow up with T. and D. - they didn't read but he expressed he still wanted to. We didn't have time for a long lesson but talked about families and blessings for them found in the restored gospel. We both have a feeling they could be investigators, ok with us coming by but don't understand (truly) why they need to do the things we leave with them to do - so we're trying to focus on the blessings they'll receive.

Friday I was pretty sick - my stomach just didn't feel good (except for a plate of food at a member's house for dinner all I had was an orange for b-fast). We were still able to teach L. - it was a good lesson, except for the fact that her family is wanting to make their getting married (which was just going to be a quick signing of paperwork) into something big and so she, and we, aren't sure when she'll get baptized. She will though - she is just converted in her heart.

By Saturday I was feeling pretty good - and that was the start of a crazy weekend. We had an RM drive us to Taylor so we could attend a meeting, then we went to a baptism in Snowflake with one of our investigators (M., S. too). Then after the baptism we had a lesson with them and set a baptism date for M. for January 30. We were pretty excited, but learned Sunday at church that her mom said that was too soon and put a hold on it. So both of our awesome progressing investigators are in limbo at the moment as to their baptisms. After being back in Heber for a bit of the afternoon we headed down to Young to stay the night.

Sunday we gave talks in the Young branch, and then headed back to Heber to catch some of our wards. Royce and Lindsay were in Sunday school when we got there - it was great to see them there. Also S. and M. were at 1st ward, and we heard later that the H. came to sacrament meeting. We were very pleased that they were all finally there to partake of the blessings of church. That night we had a mission president's fireside in Snowflake, and we had Angela there telling her conversion story. It was great - we listened to some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, and all the speakers were great. It was slightly long though - and we weren't able to get any investigators to it.

The last day of our crazy weekend - Monday morning we had the Taylor elders drive us up to Holbrook for zone conference. That also went a little long but it was exactly what I needed. Just a couple cool statistics from last year - we baptized 1,203 people last year in the Mesa Mission. That is the equivalent of a stake! It was so neat to be a part of that number. I love the thought of putting all of those converts into a stake center chapel - it would be like stake conference! Just to think that every one there got baptized last year.

Well, after a crazy weekend running around it is time to get back to work, figure out those baptism dates and hopefully set some more and find some more people who are being prepared as I type. One exciting thing - this Thursday will be the first day of our Book of Mormon class in Heber. That night Elder Moore and I will teach it and we're hoping to get our WML's and ward missionaries and our teaching pool out to it. Hopefully as well some ward members and potential investigators.

It's wonderful the confidence this gospel has given us, if we have but faith. We can trust in the Lord and his promises that nothing will go permanently wrong, and especially that we can do what is right and be "perfected in Christ". You can always question what you don't know yet, but never doubt in what has been revealed to you - love you all,

Elder A. Hoopes

From Alec: January 5, 2010

Hello from Heber (still)

Miracles are happening all over the world.
Last week was an alright week. New Year's Eve was exactly what Elder Moore and I desired... a good 8 hours sleep, hehe. New Year's Day was our prep day and we had A. (a relatively less-active convert) take us down to Payson so that Elder Moore could get some new dress shoes (old ones dying, closest place in the mission to buy shoes). We also went bowling, which was pretty fun. It was a nice thing to be able to relax totally. You need to unstring your bow sometimes, to paraphrase the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Saturday I had my first baptismal interview as a District Leader in Snowflake. I didn't know until a little into the first one that I was doing two interviews for this couple. It went well though - they were very prepared people just so ready to accept this gospel. We are taking an investigator and less-active to their baptism on Saturday; I am very much looking forward to it. Later that day we met with that investigator and M. and S. (respectively). The lesson went pretty well, the Spirit was there and they have been keeping and desiring to keep commitments. It is such a simple process to know if what we teach and testify about is true, and so it is so thrilling to see people soften their hearts enough to do it.

Sunday was a rough day for me - no investigators at church, low numbers for the first week that I report them into the zone leaders. But two things helped a great deal: Aaron came to church and went up and bore his testimony for the first time. It was simple and sincere - a thanks for all the kind saints in the ward who were the main reasons he was up there then (and in the church at all), and a simple testimony that these things are true and bring happiness. That really helped me as I could feel the Spirit while he was up at the podium. The other thing was the help I received from God as to what our district meeting on Wednesday would consist of.

Yesterday was a great great day - the missionary handbook is inspired. I put it to the test yesterday and also tried to exercise faith in the Lord making up for our shortcomings. We were able to talk to quite a few people, and then we taught this new family the first lesson. D., T., and their kids (the two older were there for most of the lesson). We tracted into them last week and they seemed to receive it well. T. read Moroni 10:4-5 and paraphrased it back to us almost perfectly. He was very excited to read the rest of that chapter before we come back to see just him on Wednesday. I just hope we can bring the Spirit into their home and for their family. If they get baptized they will be the first full family that both Elder Moore or I would have had the privileged of baptizing. (I hope you understood that sentence...) That night we also taught A. again - it went pretty well. He's actually right in front of me here in the library at the desk right now (just a funny fact).

Just something that has been revealed to me recently (part of it was from the help of Elder Moore) is the fact that the reason people join the church is not because the doctrine coincides with their beliefs. That is not necessarily why anybody attends any church. Many times people will be open to us because some key doctrines go with their key beliefs. But in the end, the reason anybody grasps onto this restored gospel is because they feel something that fulfills their spiritual needs (even if they didn't know they had them). They feel the Spirit and are intrigued and want more of it, they see the blessings poured out in their lives because of meeting with us or keeping the commitments we leave with them. That is something that is so so so key to missionary work. Rather than just teach someone who asks us a question, we should briefly teach and then especially testify of the blessings and happiness associated. We should try to teach about the Book of Mormon less and testify of it and the peace and safety it brings. Doctrine is vital and important, but it is useless without the Spirit. Love you all!!

Elder Hoopes

From Alec: December 31, 2009

Hello from Heber,

Christmas is just great, isn't it? It was good to get to talk to the whole family (technology helps so much) and hear your voices and personalities.

A.'s baptism went very well. The pipes at the church broke Friday night and so we were worried we'd have to run out to Taylor for her baptism but they had it all fixed by Saturday morning. It was a very spiritual thing and we had quite a few people there - the Relief Society room was bursting at the seams. People had to bring in at least two more rows of chairs to try and fit everybody. So she felt supported, especially by the Spirit that was there.

Saturday night (just after the baptism) I got the call that I was going to be the new district leader. We'll have to see how I do with the added responsibility. We might have district meeting in Heber one time and make the Snowflake and Taylor elders make the 30 min drive for once! hehe that would be just great.

Sunday we had a lesson over at L. and R.'s. It went well - L. was very frustrated (partially because she was unable to attend church) but you could tell the Spirit helped her and she was feeling alright after the lesson. They set a date for her baptism for the 28th of January. Elder Moore and I think it's a little to far away but we'll keep talking with them about it. They are just great, they've been showing so much faith and repentance that it have been very neat to see their priorities shift to what really is important. This is such a wonderful church, and that is because it is the living Christ's church, still run by someone with omniscience and is all loving and patient.

I love you all, hope you have a great week,

Elder Hoopes

p.s. Mom I got the package - thanks!! I'll be sending back the leather quad.