Monday, September 29, 2014

The first transfer comes to a close

Well this week has been really good, we reached almost all of our goals and we got higher than some of them. I went on exchanges again this week with the other zone leader, Elder Maxwell. The exchange was really good I learned alot and we got more lessons than I have ever got in a single day. I was nervous about the exchange though because instead we stayed in my area, which meant that I was in charge of the area, I had to make the plans and choose who and what we would teach. In the end it all went off without a hitch, it was really good.

It is weird to me that this transfer is just about over already, it went by pretty fast. I think back to my first day here and I feel like I did not know anything and now I am much more comfortable with the work.

One thing this week the sisters in our area set us up for a 3 hour service where we had to babysit an old man with dementia. It was the pretty bad, he was really paranoid and he kept forgetting that he was in his own house and he kept trying to leave. I won't go to far into detail about the experience, but needless to say he and has wife have a really hard time.

Also fun fact, I keep forgetting to email, there are a few ASL (American Sign Language)
missionaries in the zone. So I decided I wanted to learn, for the past few weeks I have been learning bits and pieces of ASL from different missionaries. I can only piece together a few sentences like "My name is Elder Hopkins I am a missionary from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", "That picture is beautiful." "Where is the kitchen?", "Lets make peanut butter chocolate cookies." Just a few sentences like that. It is really fun though. Elder Maxwell learned sign language while he was out here and he ended up spending a couple transfers in the deaf branch so you never know.

Also, Brandon, a young kid who is preparing for baptism on the 18th, has a little sister named Crystal, who recently agreed to be baptized on the same day, we still need to talk to the parents again, but it would be so cool if that brother and sister were baptized on the same day.

I'll leave you with a couple of quotes that I really like.

"Pray like everything depends on the Lord, Work like everything depends on you." -Thomas S. Monson

"Faith is knowing when you step out into darkness that one of two things will happen, you will step onto solid ground, or God will teach you how to fly."

I love it here, I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I love seeing what it can do for people and their families. Thanks for everyone's love, support, and prayers!

I sent just a few pictures. A few of Elder Maxwell from exchanges, one of Elder Harper from District meeting, he plays his guitar a lot, and a picture we took of the cars odometer when it reached exactly 30,000.
 Elder Harper

Odometer at exactly 30000

Elder Maxwell and Elder Hopkins

Elder Maxwell

Monday, September 22, 2014


This week was great! I went on my first exchange with Elder Reid, he is a zone leader, last Wednesday. It was honestly one of the most fun days I have had on my mission. The zone leaders cover Stanford Campus and it was so fun walking around over there and meeting all of the students. I'll send some pictures from campus, it is way cool looking there. That day we went to our dinner appointment with a member that lived in an area of East Palo Alto I have never been to before, it was really nice, most of EPA is kinda dumpy but this one area was super nice. I learned that the neighborhood was nicknamed "MormonVille" because a lot of members live in that neighborhood, go figure.

There is a new bishop in the 2nd Ward, Bishop Miner, He is really cool, we have been trying to do more work in the second ward because most of it came from the first and he gave us a huge list of names of people to visit to get us started, he seems very missionary work oriented which I am looking forward to.

We have been visiting Pelenaise, a Tongan Woman who we baptized my first week here, and we are teaching her the Recent Convert lessons. She is 82 years old and her English is still a little broken so she calls, Elder Harper, Hama. She calls me Kipson. I am not really sure where that came from but its cool. The rest of the Tongans here call me Hopikini. I guess that is my Tongan name.

We were in East Palo Alto walking to an appointment the other night, around 8. We were stopped by a little girl that wanted to teach us how to Hula (Did I spell that right?). It was awesome we just learned how to hula in the middle of the street, people walked by and stared and stuff, but we did not even care, it was great.

Also another night we ran into a super drunk guy in EPA. He wanted us to drive him home, we said we couldn't but he didn't understand because he couldn't speak English very well.
We tried walking away and he started swearing at us in Spanish, He was so drunk he could barely walk. Luckily one of his friends found him.

I think that is about it. Overall we had a really great week, we taught a lot of lessons, got a lot of contacts, I love you all for your love and support!

I also included pictures from a morning hike and from when Elder Reid got his hair cut in a park, that was weird.
Nate had a second email with some pictures; they did not come through.  I am guessing the hike was in this Email.

Elder Reid

Elder Hopkins and Elder Reid

Elder Reid's Haircut in the Park

Monday, September 15, 2014

Its week 5... and I am already out of good subject lines.

Pictures from the baptism of Richard Hillis from September 6th, 2014.

Palo Alto Missionaries

Elder Hopkins, Richard Hillis (and son) Elder Harper

Baptism of Richard Hillis

This week has been really great! I attached the pictures from last weeks baptism and some pictures I took on September 11th. The whole zone got together and put our testimonies on Red, white, and blue balloons. That was pretty cool. Also there is a picture of Elder Pese jumping on the trampoline outside of the cottage, sorry that it is blurry. Also, Elder Harper, my trainer, is an artist. He drew a picture of me if I were black.

So last Friday I had a pretty humbling experience. We were at Sunrise Senior Living, an assisting living home where we do a lot of service. It was time to leave for our appointment when the director, Aprielle, informed us that it was national Milkshake day and if we could stick around for 5 minutes she would make milkshakes for us before we left. Elder Harper said we should really get going, I told him that 5 minutes would not really make any difference. I came to eat those words.

Sure enough 5 minutes later we were done and out the door with our small dixie cups of milkshake. We got in the car and a wreck took place in the intersection in front of us. The wait put us  40 minutes behind. If we would have left on time we would have avoided the delay.

We showed up to our appointment late. Our investigator, Vina, a tongan girl who we wanted to set a baptismal date with had been in an argument with her sisters when they got home 10 minutes before we had arrived. She was very emotional when we got there and we could not get through much of the lesson. If we had arrived on time I am sure that the lesson would have gone much better. But it took a long time and we did not get to set a baptismal date.

We were now an hour and 15 minutes behind schedule. We showed up to our dinner appointment late. The family had already eaten and we had arrived at the time when they were putting their baby to sleep. We sat awkwardly in their kitchen and ate the cold food and left without sharing a message. 

Because we were so far behind schedule (now about an hour and a half) we missed an appointment we set with an investigator entirely. He doesn't have a phone so the only way we can set more appointments with him is by setting them at the end of our lessons. So now we do not know when we will meet him.

Then we went to our last appointment and of course we were 5 minutes late and they had already left.

It was very humbling. I felt like Esau who traded in his birthright for a mess of pottage. I had traded in a night of missionary work for a small dixie cup of melty ice cream. I am not too down about this experience though, I learned a lot from it and it was very humbling and the rest of the week was really awesome. I learned to put nothing in front of the work I am doing here.

My mom asked me a few questions in a letter, I think I will answer them here for everyone.

My normal day routine is study in the morning then we try to fill our mornings with service if we can because the morning is not very good for meeting with people. Also because I am a new meeting every morning we have an extra hour of study for training. That is how it is for the first 3 months. Then we just go out all day and meet with different people and meet people on the street. There are so many different cultures and diversity here it is really amazing. We do all types of service ranging from picking weeds to mowing lawns to washing windows to washing peoples furniture in their backyard.

This mission has 7 different official languages, Tongan, Samoan, Vietnamese, English, Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language. The districts are usually all of the same language, but the zone is all different types of language from the stake.

The food has been good, we are fed really well here. I have tried a lot of types of new food. We eat breakfast at home, usually cereal. We eat lunch at home sometimes we eat out, but not usually, and dinners are usually provided by ward members.

That is really about it. It has been really fun and we are working really hard to get the ward more involved in the work.
Elder Hopkins (looks sunburned) and Elder Harper

September 11th, Testimony Balloons

Elder Pese
Elder Harper's drawing of Elder Hopkins

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hit the Ground Running

So... I have to apologize. On Saturday we had a baptism but I forgot to bring my camera to the family history center (where we email) today. So the pictures from the baptism will have to wait til next week, sorry.

Anyway we had a baptism on Saturday. It was so cool. The guys name is Richard Hillis. Its funny we actually have a ton in common. Anyway he asked me if I would baptize him and I did and it was just such a great experience I was so happy to take part in the work of the Lord. I practiced the ordinance over and over again so I didn't mess up my first baptism. I felt really memorized and we got in the font and I raised my arm to the square and I said, "having been commissioned of Jesus Christ..." and the bishop stopped me.

"You have to say his name first."

I was really embarrassed, but what are you going to do? The rest of the day went off really well. We got 5 new investigators over the past couple days and we are working with another kid right now who has a baptismal date at the end of the month. The Lord was not kidding about the hastening of the work.

Yesterday during first ward priesthood session, Bishop was teaching. He played a clip from the new Hobbit movie. Before he played it he said, "I know this seems weird but as you watch this clip try and think about why I am showing it to you."

Anyway its the clip where the dwarves and Bilbo go through the forest and Gandalf says stick to the path just before leaving them. The dwarves all wander around in dark confusion and they lose track of the path. Then Bilbo stops and says we need to find the sun. He climbs a tree up to the light and gets his bearings. When I heard him say we need to find the "sun." the first thing I thought of was the "Son," or Jesus Christ. Bishop explained that sometimes we all get lost as we travel through the forest so it is important that we go to the Son whenever we need to get a breather and get our direction back. If you haven't seen the clip from this movie that I am talking about, I would suggest it, its pretty cool.

It has been such a blessing to me to have such a good trainer like Elder Harper and to be right in the missionary work right away. I love being in the scriptures as often as I can be and I pray all of the time. Its really satisfying to always have your mind focused on the Son and it makes it easier to know which way to go.

Well that's all for now. Thank you so much to everyone at home who show me constant love and support. Thank you for your prayers!

Elder Hopkins

Elder Harper & Elder Hopkins

Elder Hopkins and President & Sister Mella
Baptism of Richard Hillis

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 2! I am feeling like a missionary

So this week has been great. I am not really sure where to start and it is likely that I will forget some things. So we set a baptismal date with this kid, Brandon. Then for this whole week he just disappeared. We tried visiting him every day but we were never able to meet with him. It was really frustrating because we wanted to help him be prepared for Baptism. Sunday night our appointments ran late and we were going to go try to see Brandon again but it was about to go home and it was getting dark. We wanted to just head home a few minutes early. So classic Missionary story we were obedient and stayed out like we were supposed to and Brandon was there. He apparently had gotten a job and that is why he was so elusive. We set up a schedule and he should be on track to be baptized.

Also we set a baptismal date with a man, Richard Hillis. His wife is a convert and he is super prepared and excited to be baptized. He asked me if I would baptize him, so I will be doing that this Saturday. I am really excited about that and I am so thankful for all the blessings I am seeing in my life right now. 

I have met a lot of crazy drunk people. They are so funny. Yesterday we met this guy, Freddie, he told us that he was Noah. (Like Noah's Ark). Yeah... He told us that the lord would bless us for preaching the word of God. He told us that he used to own this town, he walked really funny too. He also told us we needed to meet some girls with him, we politely declined and then he started yelling at cars that passed by. He also swore a lot.

I've been doing a lot of service out here. It’s funny a lot of the service I have been doing is stuff that I would complain about if I were home. When I do it here though, it is weirdly fun. I just enjoy working for other people and being charitable. Also I am always so tired, but I can always find the energy I need out here. I am just seeing so many blessings and loving it out here.

Thank you all for your love and support!

From a separate letter:
A couple of things I forgot in my email.  There was an earthquake Sunday morning, it woke me up.  That was freaky.  There was a shooting at a nearby concert; that was also freaky.  We also had a drunk guy ask us if we wanted to fight; we said no.  Anyway, it’s going to be an adventure.