Monday, April 28, 2014

Carissa and Ryan's Baptism















What a week it's been! The beginning of the week was pretty rough. Sister Grenfell was really sick so we didn't get to go out and work all day Tuesday, which is usually our busiest day of the week. Wednesday we took it easy again and were only able to go to a couple appointments. Thursday we had district meeting and we talked all about the Grace of God. What is grace to you? It was a really great meeting and I learned a lot about how much grace really can change us AND save us. I feel like every day I come closer and closer to understanding how the Atonement works in my life. It reminds me of the lyrics of come thou fount "Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be. Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above." That's the prayer I have in my heart every day, Heavenly Father, make me what you want me to be today. I feel so much better when I know what I'm doing exactly what the Lord would have me do. Friday we found a new investigator, his name is Anthony. When we first met him, it was by a member referral, and he kind of had the attitude of wanting to prove everything wrong that we were talking about and as the lesson went on he changed more and more. When we recited the first vision the spirit was so strong. I knew what we were testifying of was true, and we both felt like Anthony felt it too. We are meeting with him again this Friday.

 Saturday was amazing, Carissa and Ryan were baptized at 9 am and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever been a part of. It was amazing to see the instant change in them as soon as they came back up the stairs after their baptism. When we talked to Carissa in the bathroom right after she said, "I've never been so happy in my life. I feel so happy right now." She was so touched and Ryan was too, he was so much more reverent and peaceful. Amelia-Rose (Carissa's daughter) gave the closing prayer and she said, "we are so thankful mommy and Ryan got bapaaatized". It was soooo cute, and really funny. I never felt so fulfilled in my life, any pain or frustration that's come from being a missionary was completely swallowed up when we got to see her be baptized. I finally understand what it means in the scriptures when it says "If you bring but one soul unto him, how great shall be your joy" ITS SO TRUE. Carissa and Ryan, children of Heavenly Father were brought into his fold, saved from sin! HOW GREAT IS BEING A MISSIONARY AND HAVING A CHANCE TO BE A PART OF THAT! 

The rest of Saturday we spent in meetings. All the missionaries in our zone were invited to go to the Priesthood session of stake conference. They talked about members and missionaries working together to hasten the work. They said that that's the only way the work will truly be hastened. Then we had transfer doctrine. SISTER GRENFELL AND I ARE STAYING TOGETHER IN EAST LAKE AGAIN! 3RD TRANSFER IN A ROW! We are so excited! We have decided that it's for a reason and that the next six week are for us to work miracles here in east lake, the Lord has kept us here for a reason. Then we had the Saturday evening session of stake conference. All of us missionaries sang Hark All Ye Nations, it was awesome! Then President Toombs spoke. He talked all about members and missionaries as well. He said that he only has 24 missionaries placed in this stake but that the stake president has 3000, and that in order for things to really progress and hasten we need the members to work with us. He promised our stake that if there is a member at every single lesson we teach the number of convert baptisms will double in the stake.... WOW! What a promise, right!?! It was incredibly powerful! 

On Sunday we went out with Annie Pitts, bishop's daughter that just got back from college. She is going to Frankfort Germany in July! SO COOL RIGHT! She's amazing! Having her with us reminded me of when I was home and was always with the Sisters. It was so cool to give her opportunities to share her testimony. We are teaching her the second lesson this week to prep her to teach one of our investigators with us. I wish I would have been more involved with the missionaries before I came out. It was overall a great experience, we took her contacting and everything. It was great. 

But what I learned this week was that my Heavenly Father never forgets about me, he knows me perfectly and knows exactly what I need and when I need it. He knows my struggles and my strengths alike, and gives me trials to help me improve and grow. I love Him and I know He loves me. I am so thankful to be a missionary. I am thankful for your love and support that helps me each day. I love you dad! 

P.S. Bishop Pitts is going to be in Philly this Tuesday through Thursday. I don't know if it'd be possible, but it'd be really cool if my family in PA was able to meet my family out here in East Lake. Maybe y'all could meet up for dinner and go to Geno's for a cheesestake. Mom has Sister Pitts e-mail if you want to get in contact. 

Mom's note****We are meeting him tomorrow night for cheesesteaks @ Geno's.  (NOT PAT'S, lol)***

I LOVE YOU! 

<3 Sister Hoopes

Monday, April 21, 2014

The happiest day of the week......MONDAY!! :)

Carissa and her sweet children

Awesome CO sisters on P day


This one is my FAV.  This is SO McKenzie! :)
Probably the best Text McKenzie has ever recieved :)
Dad,
Sounds like one crazy awesome week! I love the "Vontrap family" styled bike picture!! :) You look pretty legit in your Bee-Keeper suit too! All the pictures this week were perfect! Thanks so much Dad! And monkey bars too?? WOW! :) That's really cool! The prom group looks like they had a great time! That's so awesome! I'm really glad you had a great Easter pops! I thought it'd be really hard being away from the family since it's been my first holiday away from home besides valentines day... which lets be honest, doesn't really count as a holiday worth celebrating. It was really great though.
The week started out really great! We found out Carissa was only imprisoned!! I have never been so happy someone was in jail in my life! We were at the Bishops house for dinner and we got the text then, it had been one rough week so us, the elders and sister Pitts were all so happy when that text came! We were able to set Carissa and her son Ryan back on date for this Saturday at 9 am! WE ARE SO EXCITED, so is she of course!
Wednesday we got to go to the temple and that was a really great experience. When I walked into the celestial room I sat down and just prayed because I just needed to feel better inside, lately I've just really been struggling with being confident for whatever reason. As soon as I was finished I felt something on my shoulder, like someone was physically comforting me. I really think it was grandpa Woolley. I know I have family members on the other side who strengthen me and help me in times that are tough. It was a really wonderful experience.
On Saturday we got to go to a Mormon Chorale Concert with Robert (an investigator), Lynne (investigator), The Carrolls (less active members), and Carissa and her kiddos! It was really great, my favorite part was when they sang I Believe in Christ. I felt the spirit really strong and my testimony of Christ was strengthened even more.
Sunday was KILLER!!! The whole overflow was full, there were so many people at church!! Linda Sue and Jim Carroll came to church! It was their first time in 20 years! It was seriously a miracle! SO many people were completely amazed and they all welcomed them with open arms! The Lopez's all came (investigators). Their grandpa came up to us and said, "You are working miracles with these girls. I cant express how grateful I am for the work you are doing with them." Then Carissa and all her kids were there and she fit right in with everyone else, a lot of people in the ward knew about her adventures last weekend but they didn't treat her any different, it was great! Sister Grenfell had a 20 minute talk and she did a GREAT job! After church we were able to meet with the Lopez girls and we watched the Because of Him video, man, it was so powerful! I don't think I've ever liked an LDS produced video more in my life! They gave us these really great Easter baskets too. Then we got to eat Easter dinner #1 with Carissa and her kids. All of us were missing our families a little bit in one way or another but we were talking about it and we all said we didn't really feel that sad, Carissa calls us her sisters and she said that she was so thankful she was able to spend Easter with us. We were all just really thankful to be there together and in a small way it felt like family. I really don't think I've ever loved a family, besides my own, more. It was a really happy time! Then we had dinner #2 with a new family in the ward who doesn't have any family around. It was fun, we watched Because of Him with them as well. Then we saw the Olson's and made resurrection rolls. Neveah, the second oldest, taught us a lesson because she wanted a turn since we are always the ones teaching. It was cute! Overall, celebrating Easter was a great experience.
I know my Savior lives, I know he suffered for me in the most personal way possible. I know he rose, and that because he did, I will as well. I know that his sacrifice makes me whole, makes me better. I know that through his atonement I can change and become the person my Father in Heaven has always intended me to be. I know that Christ's gospel is restored to the earth and blesses me every day. I know that the work I am a part of is HIS work and that its the best work a person can be a part of aside from having a family. I am so thankful every day to be a missionary. I love you, Dad.
Love, Sister Hoopes

(pictures: Carissa and fam, Lopez girls, and we got flowers from an open house we hosted. We got to take them and that'll probably be the first and last time I ever get flowers on the mission ;))





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wow, This mama was so happy to hear this!!!! Happy Missionary Tuesday!!

Hello! I'm Sister Pitts from the Eastlake ward in Thornton, CO. I had the missionaries over for dinner last night. My son and husband were at tutoring, so it was just me. I was running behind and had a huge handicap because my kitchen is under construction, thus EVERYTHING is packed :)

However, I was determined to cheer our missionaries up. It's been a hard few weeks in our area, and I think we were all a little down. We have an Open House planned for this coming Saturday and I think Satan is really trying to get us down. My friend, who was supposed to have them for dinner last night, had lost a grandchild to a drowning accident. We'd had a baptism not happen, I'm sure you heard about that in yesterday's email. Missionary work has been hard here lately.

So I figured I had a bowl and a griddle unpacked, so we could have pancakes with whipped toppjng and sprinkles. That cheers everyone up! Without countertops, that proved interesting. Without a pancake spatula it was even more interesting. Lots of melted forks, lots of pancake batter on the floor, lots of laughter, and silliness too. 

It was a delightful evening and I just wanted to share how much we enjoy your daughter. She was so helpful last night, preparing the dinner, wiping up spills, and cleaning up afterwards. 

The Sisters worked hard to learn a song for the baptism, they came over a lot to practice in their spare moments, it was a treat for me to have one on each side of me as I played the piano to help them learn. They have beautiful voices and I hear from SO many members how much they love hearing the Sisters sing when they have appointments with them. Sister Hoopes is a wonderful example of the Savior and we love having her in our ward and in our home. 

An update on the baptism, while we were eating dinner, the sister that was supposed to be baptized ended up texting the Sisters. She was just getting out of jail. She'd been arrested for dumping lemonade on her ex husband's girlfriend (her ex best friend) this past weekend. Not at all what any of us had been expecting! It created quite the laughter and luckily, she won't be charged with a felony, so we can still have a baptism. I was tasked with letting all the families know, since they thought you'd love the outcome.

So the evening was just as I'd hoped, but not as I'd planned. My lack of kitchen made for lots of laughs and the jail release made for some relieved sighs and more laughter. Thanks for raising such an awesome daughter!

-- 
emily pitts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Glad to know that Heavenly Father carries us when we're down.







This week was interesting for sure. We had interviews with President Toombs this week, I don't know if you ever did that on the mission, but it was a good experience. We were just able to talk about the work and about how I was doing personally. He said that Sister Grenfell and I were little miracle workers in the East Lake ward and he loves to keep track of us. I love President Toombs, no matter what numbers you report that week he loves you so much. I really feel like he is so much more proud of you every time you grow your testimony and learn more about who you are. He's amazing. 

This week we saw a lot of miracles as we set goals. This week our main focus was on referrals. We set a goal to get 35 referrals, five per day. By the end of the week we received 28. Even though the number goal wasn't reached, it was awesome to see how many people had friends and neighbors brought into their mind when we asked who we could go share the gospel with. We are preparing for a tri-ward open house in which people have invited friends and neighbors to tour our church building to see what happens there and the things we teach and programs we have. All the missionaries in each ward are really excited about it. 

On the 10th we had Zone meeting which is a lot like district meeting, just with the whole zone. We were trained mostly on the Atonement and the question of, "Is the Atonement fresh for you?". It was a really great meeting and I learned a lot. But I thought about the question too and I didn't really know how to answer it. At first I thought yes, then no, then I was just really unsure. I understand that there are two parts of the Atonement, the cleansing and enabling parts. I know I'm not perfect because I'm not translated but I also know that I probably use the enabling part more than the cleansing part, but at the same time I didn't understand how the enabling power of the Atonement is really felt. With sinning there are steps that you take to become clean, six steps in particular, but the enabling power doesn't really come through steps, it comes to every person differently. So this week I really thought a lot about the Atonement and how it works for me. David A. Bednar said the Atonement is meant to make bad men good (cleansing power) and good men better (enabling power). To me this means its meant for sin and for sorrow, for the sinner and the saint. Sister Grenfell and I spent a couple days studying it in personal and companionship study. We even drew a crazy diagram to help us understand it logically. We prayed to feel it more in our lives and we even took the challenge it give in Preach My Gospel to repent daily. After this week however, I don't think the Atonement can be logically studied, it has to be felt to make sense. 

Saturday we had a lot to do to get ready for the baptism, we had to fill the font, follow up with those who were bringing refreshments, practice the song we we planned to sing, SO MUCH CRAZINESS. The baptism was at 1 and it was about 12:45 and people were showing up. We had texted Carissa in the morning to see if she needed help getting ready for her day. She hadn't responded so around 12:50 we headed to her house to help her get all her kiddos ready and in the car. We showed up to her house and she wasn't there, her car wasn't there, her lights were off, the whole bit. We started to worry a little and decided to drive back to the church to see if she had showed up. She wasn't there either and so we counselled with the Bishop and to what we should do and we decided to start with the baptism with the faith that she would show up. Sister Grenfell and I had to tell all the people who showed up that Carissa and Ryan weren't here but that we were going to carry on like they were with faith that they'd come. There were 57 people there from the ward, pretty good turn out. With our hearts in our stomachs, we sat and listened to the speakers give their talks and we sang the hymns and by the time Sister Grenfell and I got up there to sing there wasn't a dry eye in the room. We both had to pull ourselves together, we felt so disappointed and so heartbroken, but we sang and it sounded decent. Bishop was the last one to speak and he stood up and opened the font, talk about a blow to your tear ducts, we all looked at the water that was empty and Bishop talked about how this is exactly how our Heavenly Father feels about us. He waits for us to make covenants with him, he waits to see us make good choices and come one step closer to Him. We were able to experience some of the pain He feels when we use our agency to get farther away. He really did a great job at bringing it all together. As much as we could hardly focus on the words anyone was saying, so many people felt the spirit that day. We still haven't heard from Carissa, her phone is off, and she isn't home. But something Sister Grenfell and I learned was how real the enabling power of the Atonement was. Even though its been a couple days I know for a fact that without the Atonement we wouldn't be out teaching and doing our best to try and find others who are prepared, we wouldn't be able to think straight or have the spirit with us. Its still hurting inside, but we are moving on and doing all that we can to press forward and be okay. We were able to get priesthood blessings directly following the service from three sets of elders who were also all at the baptism. It was a good chance for us to all come together and feel of the love Heavenly Father had for all of us as missionaries. The thornton elders taught Carissa before we did and Elder Rampton was supposed to baptize Ryan so it affected more than just us Sisters. But something Elder Potts said after the blessings really stuck with me and helped me realize why this might have happened. He said, "I don't think its any coincidence that this happened right after you were both trying to understand the enabling power of the Atonement." We both agreed and we are both being strengthened by it. We are hoping to be in touch with Carissa soon, and any prayers you could send her way would be great.  
I know that my redeemer lives, and loves me. I know I'm here in Colorado for a reason, I know the Lord is proud of me and that you're proud of me. And I know I'm doing my best and that's what counts. I love you so much and am thankful for the example you are to me of never giving up and for all your help and prayers that have brought me to where I am. XOXO 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring is in the air. And Sister Hoopes has her 1st baptism this Saturday! :)

I got this emailed to me from a sister in Kenzie's area that was feeding them dinner that night.  Looks like fun!
Dad,
 
 
This week was pretty awesome! On Tuesday Sister Grenfell went to a meeting and I stayed in the area (first time without her here) and it was a really great experience. I was in a tripanionship for the day with Sister Packer and Sister Holladay. It was a cool experience to be with them and take the lead in all the lessons we taught. It helped me feel like I wouldn't be so lost without her, of course I missed her bunches, but it made me less nervous for the time she may get transferred or vise versa. When we taught Sister Torgerson this week I really felt the spirit. We talked about the holy ghost and times I have felt it and times the other Sisters had felt it. I never realized how much talking about those experiences allows you to feel the confirmation of the spirit even more! When we taught Sister Carroll we had a good break through. At the end we invited her to watch conference with us and she accepted! When we went over to watch it with her she payed really close attention and we had a really great lesson with her and her husband afterwards. We invited them to attend church and they said they wouldn't make any promises but they would try... That's better than we have gotten before so we are hoping the spirit works in their lives to help them get to church. We also moved houses this week. We are now living with Brother and Sister Voge. They are so nice and he was the old bishop so he knows a lot of the people we are teaching and things. When we come home every night they always greet us and ask how are day was and offer us cookies (SO MANY COOKIES.... its bad). But they are so kind and its just really nice to have someone there to welcome you home at night. Thursday night we met with Charlie Tilburry (or Gibbs) and she is a less active member and has been for a while but we took her to a scripture study class that the missionaries teach and she actually really enjoyed it. It was a really great experience. There ended up being 4 sets of missionaries and Charlie which was interesting but we had a really great discussion about 2 Nephi chapters 3 and 4, AWESOME CHAPTERS. Sister Grenfell and I have been working with Sister Pitts (the bishops wife) to practice a song that we will be singing at Carissa and Ryan's baptism this Saturday. We will hopefully be able to tape it and send it next P-day :D We have also been working with a young woman in our ward who is struggling right now. She is having a hard time wanting to live the religion and feels like she's doing it because her parents are making her. Sister Pitts invited us to start meeting with this young woman in their home and so we have been over the last few weeks. This past time we met with her we pretty much bore testimony of God and how we are his children and he loves us. It was very powerful and by the end all four of us girls were in tears and we couldn't deny that the spirit was there. I am so happy we have the privilege of helping this young woman gain a testimony of our Heavenly Father and that I am able to strengthen mine in the process. We unfortunately were not able to carry on the Hoopes family tradition of the big breakfast! But it was a great conference experience nonetheless. The first session we watched with Carissa and Ryan in the Olson's home (members that we adore), then part way through we went over to Sister Bolas's (another member) and watched the rest of the Saturday morning session with her and Lynne (an investigator). Sunday morning we watched it in the Olson's home again and Sunday night we watched it at the stake center. Conference was really great! Here were some things I took away from it:
 
When Jeffrey R. Holland said "Yes it is worth it, because the alternative is desolate... Be strong in the gospel, defend your faith with courtesy and compassion but DO DEFEND IT." I LOVED THAT!
 
Ballard when he talked about how he learned the importance of following up on his mission, that had me laughing pretty hard. And I loved the invitation he gave to families with missionaries and without missionaries to get a copy of preach my gospel and study beside the full time missionaries! PRETTY SWEET!
 
And the last thing I really loved was when L. Tom Perry said "We must teach our spirits and bodies to work together to keep the commandments of God." I feel the happiest when my spirit and my body are on the same page. Its always more enjoyable when you're not experiencing an inner battle between your mind and your spirit. I feel that way being out here on a mission. I know in my mind and in my soul that I'm in the right place. Its not an easy thing to be out here but I know its right.
 
Thank you for all of your love and support Dad, you mean so much to me and I'm thankful for the time you take to pray for me and diligently write me every Monday! :) You're the bomb.com. I LOVE YOU!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Missionary Monday! My fav day of the week!

Dad, 

Here's a little re-cap of my missionary week:
Monday we went shopping with Carissa and picked out a very lovely and modest dress for her upcoming baptism! Her baptism has been pushed back to next weekend since this weekend is General Conference and we feel like Ryan might not be as prepared as he needs to be to get baptized. Tuesday we saw Sister Carroll, it was a really great experience. Her brother-in-law passed away this past week and before we started the lesson she was talking about it and we both felt the impression to call the Elders and have them give her a blessing. We asked if she and her husband would like one and they agreed. The Elders were able to make it five minutes later and in Sister Carroll's blessing it said, "Your Heavenly Father misses you and wants your relationship to be stronger." I think that really hit her. We invited her to church... again and she said her and her husband will talk about it and they both realize they need to come... We are so close! We were able to help the Harris' fix their light in their house. This is a funny story, so the Harris' have a vaulted ceiling which is about 18 feet and they didnt have a ladder. So we call around and find a member with a ladder but they were going to be out of town. So they said they'd just set it outside and we would go over and pick it up and the way to Dave and Kozelle's. Since we couldn't find anyone with a truck to haul the ladder in and we couldn't strap it to our car we decided to walk it from the members home to the Harris' house. So picture this... Two young girls, in skirts (white ones... not smart when carrying a dirty ladder), walking down a main road with their scripture bags and this huge extending ladder.... It was quite the scene. But it only took us 6 minutes to get from one house to the next. We love the Harris's! So we got that light fixed and its all good now. The next day was kind of rough, we did a lot of service for our invesitgators (Carissa and the Lopez family) during the not so productive hours in the day and that night we went and saw our list of potential investigators from the area book. It was kind of dark out and we decided to see Shannon. We knocked and she let us in! We taught the whole first lesson and it was the first time we met her! It was so great and Sister Grenfell and I taught super well. We set up a return appointment and she is now one of our new investigators. We took Carissa and her kiddos so a baptism on Saturday and it was pretty cool. I think she really felt the spirit. We asked her what she thought of the baptism and she said "Well, it was kind of industrial" SUCH A CARISSA THING TO SAY! She is super outdoorsy and naturey! She told us she wanted to be baptized in a river or lake. I love her. Saturday night we were able to go to the Women's broadcast. Here's what I took away, I really felt the spirit when the choir sang. There were mothers and daughters, inside I was a little sad just because I started to miss mom and thought about her a lot. But I thought about how she was there with Hailey and Shelby and how beautiful they looked sitting next to each other and that made it a little better, I still cried but it was okay. Then President Eyring spoke one of the first things he said was "Look at your mother and just thank her". I said a little prayer of gratitude in my heart for mom. I loved when he said "You were tudored by him (meaning God), you'd be faced with challenges perfectly designed for you" he continued and talked about how Heavenly Father smiles down upon you every time He sees you help one of His children along their covenant path. He talked about how EVERYONE is a child of God and when we realize that, the things we thought divided us falls away and things that had separated us seem so small and insignificant when sat next to the true fact that each of us are his children. I felt the spirit so strong and came to understand my purpose as a missionary so much more as he was speaking. He mentioned the full time missionaries and THAT'S ME! I felt the prayers from you and mom and the kids comfort me and make me feel like I am in the right place. After conference we had a zone fasting meeting. MAN, that was powerful. We decided to do a zone fast for a couple purposes 1. For the increased faith of each individual member of our zone, 2. The working of miracles by that faith, 3. These miracles causing a baptism for each companionship before June 30th (when President Toombs leaves. We talked about the plan for our zone and the way by which we could accomplish these things and something I liked was when our STL talked about righteous desires. We talked about how God will grant us the righteous desires of our hearts. When our actions and wills for ourselves line up with God's will, there is nothing we can't have. He will give us everything because its what He wants us to have. The goals we set are soemthing He wants us to have because they are righteous desires, they will hasten the work and bless His children. It was a great meeting and Sister Makasini gave a very powerful prayer in which she mentioned every single one of us missionaries in the zone. We all really felt God's love for us and there wasn't a dry eye afterwards. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. Sunday we had all 5 of the Lopez women at church, it was their first time! AHHHH! We had quite a few less actives there as well. This week was a great one and Im so thankful for all your love and support, your prayers and your thoughtfulness. I love you Dad and I hope you know you are the best! I was wondering if you might be able to send me one of your mission journals or tell me a story a week or something from your mission. I really want to know all about it! I LOVE YOU! XOXOXO
<3 Sister Hoopes
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