Monday, June 23, 2014

Blown up houses, a British Companion, and many other noteworthy news stories :)

Papa Bear,

Thank you for your letter! Any letter is exactly what I need, no matter the length :) Im glad y'all made it through the week of never ending food, I was worried! But it sounds like you will have some fun backpacking to look forward to! Cant wait to see pictures of that! My letter may not be very long either. There seem to be about a billion and a half missionaries here all at once trying to get to their emails from home. CRAZY! This week went really well. Sister Reynolds and I are getting along really well. I took your advice and observed and also served. I have found that loving people in or out of things is the most effective, however it takes a lot of time and effort on my part. Which, in the end is so worth it. We talked the other day just about how the Lord can't bless us and put the prepared in our path if we aren't doing all that is in our power to be worthy of that. It seemed to really help us get on the same page. On Tuesday we taught 7 lessons, 3 of which were member present lessons. The scripture study class that we teach seems to be gaining momentum and we have more and more people there every week! YAY! No efforts are wasted! On Wednesday we got to go to the temple. This month I went to the temple with gratitude instead of a question. I felt so happy just being there and being able to feel the spirit. We were able to go with Annie Pitts and Sister Pitts, it was WONDERFUL! :) I LOVE THE TEMPLE! I was able to see Sister Grenfell when we went, it was nice to catch up. She is finding lots of success in her new area and ward! On Saturday we had a ward activity that the missionaries were invited to go to. The whole previous week we spent time less active tracting and handing out fliers for the activity. On Saturday we had over 100 people at the ward activity! IT WAS AWESOME! A member in the ward is part of a band called the WannaBeattles. They performed and it attracted a lot of nonmember neighbors and friends! Every week I am just so thankful to be here in East Lake! Now for the funny part of the email. Since my companion is British I have been writing down all the interestingly strange things she says, here is what they were this week: Jabs, instead of shots. Zed, instead of saying just "Z" at the end of the alphabet. Trousers, instead of pants. In England pants are like underwear so that has made for some interesting conversations/misunderstandings... Garden, instead of back yard or any kind of yard or open grass field. And my favorite, CHEEKY! She says it all the time and I think its the most hilarious thing ever! For example, the other day we were picking up a member to go with us to an appointment and at her house there was this convert there who was helping her with some house problems. We got out of the car and he helped load her wheelchair in the back. He said to us, "Dang, if my missionaries looked like you two, I would have converted a lot sooner." #SUPERAWKWARD! Sister Reynolds looks at me with a horrified face and then grinned and said "Cheeky!" BAHAHAHA IT WAS SO FUNNY! Anyways, we ate dinner at a members house last night and as we were talking he mentioned living in Arizona! I asked him if he knew any Harwards and he said "Yeah, I knew a Rand Harward." (***Rand Harward is McKenzie's uncle***) They were MTC companions! He showed me a couple pictures of them together in the MTC and he said that he met the whole family in the airport before they left! So Brother Cottam has met mom!!!! CRAZY!!! It blew my mind! Well, I love you! I hope you have a GRAND week and I think you're the best! 

P.S. There was a house that blew up one road down from us, they still don't know what it was but it was pretty scary. We are all okay and all the insulation is cleaned up off of our house.

***I realize these aren't pictures of McKenzie, however, they are the pics she took of my brother, Rand, while he was in the MTC preparing to serve a mission in Uruguay, South America in the late 80's.**
Rand and Bro. Cottam
The guy on the right is the man whose house they were having dinner at this past week.  The world is a small place in the church.  Where there is usually 6 degrees of separation, in the church there seems to be 2. :)

This is what Rand still looks like today.  Not even kidding.  The kid is ageless. :)

I guess Rand broke his foot in the MTC and I must have forgotten?? 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A New Beginning! :) The adventures of Reynolds and Hoopes Begin!!

***Before today's posting, I wanted to share with you all why all these letters are addressed to McKenzie's Father...I was asked a few times by people why McKenzie's letters are never addressed to me, her mom. McKenzie and I write to each other, however, if I posted those, it would be much too personal.  These letters I post are ones that are sent to Blaine and our family in general. After I take out things that are personal (aka family secrets, lol) then these are fit for the public's eyes. Just wanted to clear that up. :)  And now, enjoy!!

Beautiful CO skies

Sister Hoopes and Sister ????? (Reynolds maybe??) Stay tuned for next weeks pictures and we'll see. :)

Goodbye Pres. and Sister Toomes, we will miss you!!
Sister Svedin (a sister missionary trainer)


Since you will probably want to know where I am, I'll tell you! After the rest of this letter is typed..... now you're probably scrolling to the bottom. That's okay! I LOVE YOU! I'm always so happy to hear that all is well at home! It makes my heart glad! I would have to agree with you that Calvin is the cutest little boy to walk the face of the earth... until I have a son... bahaha! He's safe for a while! His cards make me laugh so hard and smile always! He is so thoughtful, organized and athletic! He amazes me so much! I am so proud of Chris! What an achievement! Thank you for those pictures! Candice told me she came down! She said she LOVED it and how much she loves and misses you all! I am so happy she feels welcome with you all. It makes me happy to know that you all can still be close and love each other even if I'm not there. She is especially impressed with Hailey and Kenyon. She thinks Hailey is becoming exactly like me! To some extent I agree but Hailey is so special and very much her own person. I have seen a lot of positive growth in her and I know she is becoming exactly who her Heavenly Father wants her to be. She really loves all of you, as do I!  You'll be happy to know I am completely well and happy as ever! :) So for this week! We had some pretty cool things happen! We had Carissa, our recent convert, bring a friend to a scripture study class we have. We haven't started teaching him or anything, he's out of our area, but she is on fire! She is so close to the spirit and to Heavenly Father and I love seeing that in her! She is working at paying tithing and is really trying so hard to do the right things! We had mission conference this week! WOW! It was so cool! It felt like a mini MTC all over again! The whole chapel and overflow were filled to the brim with missionaries and it was so great! President and Sister Toombs spoke to us and gave their departing testimonies... Talk about a heart wrencher! Sister Toombs talked about how important is it for us to be obedient because in order to be true disciples of Christ, his image has to be seen in us and that only comes through being obedient! President spoke about who we really are. He talked about who our Heavenly Father is and how he is the God of millions upon millions of galaxies, yet we are the crowning glory of all his creations. HOW SPECIAL ARE EACH OF US?!? SO INCREDIBLY SPECIAL. That fact alone changes lives. It's changed mine. Often times I really have to try hard to remember that because the work can be hard on you in every way possible and it gets even more discouraging when you don't remember where you came from. Remembering makes you capable of SO much! It takes the fear, the loneliness and the stress away from the work. On Wednesday we go to mutual with the youth to extend invitations to do missionary work and try to get people to fellowship the ym/yw age investigators we have that attend. So we always do a spiritual thought in opening exercises and this week we decided to do the first vision. We got to the point where we were supposed to recite the first vision and it was my turn to speak. I started saying the experience of Joseph Smith and the spirit touched my heart so deeply. I started to tear up, which looking back was super embarrassing in front of a bunch of youth, but in a way I needed that experience. I was able to truly testify of the divinity and importance of that event. Everyone in the room could feel the spirit and we invited them all to think about their testimony and the things they believe and to tell those things to someone close to them this week. Hopefully they did it, we will follow up this Wednesday! But it was a really neat experience, one that helped me more fully know that it was true. On Saturday we got to teach the Martin Family again and it went really well. We were finally able to talk about the restoration and they came to church on Sunday! It was really great! WE HAD SO MANY PEOPLE THERE ON SUNDAY!!! We had three of the Martins, Beth and her son (friends of the Pitts that we hope to start teaching, we set up an appointment with them), Maxine (a former investigator), the Lopez's (current investigators with a bap date), and the Jones family (ARTHUR AND TROY ARE GETTING BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY..... BOOOOOOOOOOOOYAH)! We also had the Carrolls there (returning less actives). Brother Carroll even went out and bought a white shirt and tie to wear! The Williams, also a less active family. Carissa, I just love that she is still goin' strong! And now, for the BIG NEWS! Sister Hoopes is officially....... STILL AN EAST LAKE MISSIONARY!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOHHOOOOOOO! SOOOOO HAPPY! Although, my lovely trainer, best friend, and mom Sister Grenfell has moved on. She is now serving in Aurora in a highly concentrated poly ward! She is so excited, she has also become a sister training leader (which is the equivalent of a zone leader). I was sad to see her go and I feel like my heart is still pretty sad but I know I will see her again, whether that's in a year when I come home or whether its while we are still here it'll be great! My new companion is SISTER REYNOLDS!! She is from England and has been out one transfer longer than I have. This is the first time she has ever been transferred so she is a little scared and doesn't know what to expect but I reassured her that she has entered into the GREATEST PART OF THE MISSION and that she will probably want to be sealed to East Lake for eternity. We are getting along so well already and I know it'll be great for the both of us! She has such a cute accent and her brother is serving in GILBERT, AZ! Cool right?!? Anyways, life is great pops! I feel so blessed to still be here, I love it so much. It's a home away from home and I am excited about this new adventure with Sister Reynolds! :) I LOVE YOU! 

<3 Sister Hoopes

P.S. Other missionaries are starting to see our awesome shirts and are asking when they can have one.... The jealousy tactic has worked ;) 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Their Last Week Together......

Some P-day fun!

"Hello Dahling, isn't it a fabulous day??" (cheeky!)

Papa Bear, 

 Can I just say that your hammocks look so so so legit! You'll sleep real nice in there! :) Maybe next summer you and I can take them out and camp for a day or two! I'd love that. The Pitts are a really special family, they truly LOVE all the missionaries they get and have helped me feel like I have a family here in CO. There are several families I feel that way about!  Your mission broke 500 baptisms?!? HOLY NUGGETS! THATS AWESOME! :) 

So this week was pretty awesome! We picked up a few new investigators but one was really neat. So do you remember me telling you about the Browns? Her husband has stage 4 liver cancer and could pass at any moment. A sister in the ward has faithfully written her every month for visiting teaching. We went over one day just to see if we could get in and we did! Several days later a sister took them dinner and Brother Brown, not yet a member, told this sister he had thought about it a lot and wanted to be baptized. EVERYONE was shocked. We went over yesterday and he accepted the invitation to be baptized. Because of his health, we called President Toombs and asked how we should proceed with putting him on date and all. He said that as soon as he was done with the missionary lessons he could be baptized. HOW EXCITING IS THAT! It really was a neat experience. 

On Monday we got to spend the day at a recently converted members home! They BBQ'ed for us and it was amazing! There were about 24 missionaries there and it was a blast. We played yard games like cornhole and ladder ball, just like how we would! We also got to play volleyball and frisbee. It was a lot of fun. 

Tuesday we had a great lesson with an investigator Shannon! We also started teaching her son Matt and we invited them to church... again! BUT THIS WEEK THEY BOTH CAME! IT WAS SO AWESOME! This week at church 4 of our investigators came to church, it was a miracle Sunday! Both sets of the East Lake missionaries and the youth are singing the new youth theme song this Sunday, Come Unto Christ. Ethan Pitts is going to play his cello and Sister Pitts is accompanying, we are so excited! This will be the third time we are singing in church with the youth, we do it so that the youth have something to invite their friends to. MANY of our youth have taken the challenge to invite, WE CAN'T GO WRONG WHEN WE INVITE! We have even had our youth investigators come practice with us and have said they will invite their families to come and hear. It has proven to be a GREAT missionary tool! I was able to go on exchanges with the sister training leaders, I went with Sister Mall. I LOVE HER. At first I was super nervous and had a bad taste in my mouth for exchanges but it was amazing how much I loved it. I felt super confident that if I stay here in East Lake I will be able to lead the area with very few slip ups. It was just what I needed to feel okay about transfers coming up this week. Sister Mall taught me a lot and I really love her. She only has 2 months left so she has a LOT of wisdom! So on Sunday, we had more less actives and investigators there at first than active members, IT WAS SO FRIGGEN COOL! I love love love seeing the chapel so packed with people I love so much, it just makes my heart RACE! Being a missionary is so awesome. 

Dad, I wanna tell you something. Sister Mall asked me at the end of exchanges "Why did you come on a mission?" and my answer was that I knew it was exactly what my Heavenly Father wanted for me at this point in my life. I also told her about when I got really anxious and unsure about serving because of other things that were going on in my life at the time, and I told her about what you said to me. Dad, I am so thankful you were there for me when I started to doubt what the spirit witnessed to me was true. You helped me to see the path I needed to take even if it wasn't the easy one. There are so many missionaries here that have sacrificed more than I have to be here, but I am thankful that you helped me to feel peace about the things that I was going to be sacrificing. I LOVE YOU. Sister Mall also asked me "When did you gain a testimony of the gospel?" I dont know if i ever told you this, but the thing that helped me to know that what I believed in was true, was when I decided to not date Mitchell anymore. That broke my heart in half but the deal breaker for me was being with someone who I knew didn't believe the same way I did no matter how much I wanted him to. It really made me think about what I believed. Making the conscious choice to get rid of the things that were holding me back from being closer to my Heavenly Father helped me to feel the spirit more in my life and made me sure of the fact that the gospel was true. Without sacrificing what I thought was good then, for something much better which I'm experiencing now was worth the little act of faith. Its true what the song says, "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven." Sometimes we have to go through hard things to understand that our Savior Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to repent and become perfected in him. I just wanted you to know that I do have a testimony of the restored gospel and that I know why I'm here in CO, even when it isnt easy.

Today we got to spend the day with the lovely Olson women. Sister Brandie Olson is a hero to me. She is a strong, happy, recently single mother to three lovely girls and I LOVE HER. She is the most patient and wonderful person. We exercise at 6 am every morning with her and sometimes Saige, the oldest (12). So today we went to an outdoor mall, kind of like the outlets and we had a great time! 



<3/ Your very own sister missionary!  
There was an error in this gadget