Monday, December 27, 2010

12-27-10 Ruan's Baptism


HI FAM
I HAVE POCO TEMPO HOJE! BUT YEAH IT WAS GREAT TALKING TO YOU TOO... AND DON'T WORRY I'LL GET THE PACKAGES SOME DAY...

WE DID HAVE THE BAPTISM OF RUAN YESTERDAY AND IT WENT REALLY WELL. IT WAS AT NIGHT, AND LOTS OF THE OLD FRIENDS OF RUAN'S FAMILY WENT TO IT. HIS FAM, IF YOU RECALL, USED TO BE REALLY FIRM, HIS MOM WENT THRU THE TEMPLE AND HIS BROTHER SERVED A MISSION AND EVERYTHING, BUT HE MOVED AWAY AND THE REST OF THE FAMILY USED SOME LITTLE THINGS THAT HAPPENED AS AN EXCUSE TO LEAVE THE CHURCH. SO THE BAPTISM OF RUAN WAS THE FIRST ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH THAT HIS FAM (BESIDES HIM) HAS ATTENDED IN A LONG TIME, AND THEY ALL REALLY LOVED IT. I MADE BROWNIES, AND HIS MOM JOKINGLY TOLD ME THAT IF I MAKE BROWNIES SHE'LL GO TO CHURCH SUNDAY. BUT SHE REALLY DOES HAVE THE DESIRE TO RETURN NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS, SO WE'RE HOPING THAT HIS BAPTISM AND HIS FIRMEZA WILL HELP HIS FAMILY RETURN. THAT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE EVENT OF YESTERDAY, OTHER THAN A FEW LESSONS. SO YEAH TUDO BEM AND BOA SEMANA PARA VOCES!
                                              Ruan's Baptism

LOVE
ELDER HOOKE 

Monday, December 13, 2010

12-13-10 Cleonice 's Baptism

HELLO FAMILY!  THE WEEK WENT REALLY WELL. LOTS OF THINGS HAPPENED, BUT I JUST HAVE TIME TO WRITE A FEW. SO CLEONICE, WHO ENDED UP DISSAPOINTING LAST WEEK, WAS BAPTIZED ON SUNDAY! SHE FINALLY LEFT HER HOUSE AND USED THE WHEELCHAIR THAT WE GOT FOR HER, AND A MEMBER GAVE HER A RIDE. SHE LOVED CHURCH, AND THEN AFTER, WE HAD TO FIGURE OUT HOW WE WERE GOING TO DO THE BAPTISM. 
                                                                 Cleonice's Baptism Day
SO HERE'S HOW IT WORKED: ELDER PRIETO AND I BOTH DRESSED IN WHITE AND CARRIED HER INTO THE FONT ON A REGULAR CHAIR. WE FILLED IT HIGH TO MAKE IT EASIER. INTERESTINGLY, SHE AND THE CHAIR ENDED UP BEING LESS DENSE THAN THE WATER, SO SHE WAS BASICALLY DOING A BACKFLOAT. I SAID THE BAPTISM PRAYER, AND THEN AS I BAPTIZED HER UPPER BODY, ELDER PRIETO REMOVED THE CHAIR FROM UNDER HER AND PUSHED HER LEGS UNDER THE WATER. IT TOOK ONLY ONE TRY! AND GOOD THING BECAUSE WHEN SHE EMERGED FROM THE WATER SHE WAS COUGHING AND I WAS AFRAID FOR HER LIFE! WE CARRIED HER UP INTO THE BATHROOM AND SAT HER IN A CHAIR AS SHE CAUGHT HER BREATH. THEN SHE WAS SOOO HAPPY! SHE COULD NOT STOP SMILING AND IT MADE IT ALL WORTH IT. IT WAS A GOOD EXPERIENCE THAT MAKES ME GLAD TO BE A MISSIONARY.

WE HAD LOTS OF INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH TOO BECAUSE IT WAS THE PRIMARY PROGRAM. WE INVITED A KID (11 YR OLD SON OF A LESS ACTIVE FAMILY), RUAN, TO CHURCH FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS AND PROMISED HIM THAT HE WOULD BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIMARY PROGRAM. IT WORKED OUT PERFECTLY BECAUSE A GIRL IN THE WARD HAD A LITTLE TALK BUT WAS NOT ABLE TO GIVE IT, SO HE GAVE A LITTLE TALK AT CHURCH HIS FIRST SUNDAY IN YEARS, WHICH WAS FUNNY. HE ALSO BROUGHT HIS 2FRIENDS AND THEY ALL LIKED IT A LOT.

THE COMPANIONSHIP IS GOING WELL. WE'RE GETTING ALONG WELL, AND WORKING HARD SO IT'S ALL GOOD. WE CLIMBED UP TO THE FOURTH FLOOR OF OUR BUILDING (WHICH HAS NO ROOF, JUST LITTLE WALLS) THE OTHER NIGHT TO EAT WATERMELON. WE EACH HAD A 4TH OF A WATERMELON. I LOOKED OVER RANDOMLY AND MY COMP WAS SPINNING AROUND WITH HIS PIECE, AND THE NEXT SECOND IT WAS FLYING DOWN TO THE PARKING LOT WHERE IT EXPLODED! SO RANDOM BUT IT WAS REALLY FUNNY. AND DONT WORRY WE, NO, I CLEANED IT UP.

YESTERDAY WE WENT WITH THE BISHOP TO THE CITY TO BUY THINGS WITH HIM FOR OUR CHRISTMAS PARTY THIS SATURDAY NIGHT. ITLL BE A BIG EVENT, AND WE'RE HOPING AND PRAYING THAT IT CAN ALL GO WELL.

OTHER NEWS OF SAN MARTIN: TERESA, CASSIAS MOM IS MARKED AND EXCITEDTO BE BAPTISED THIS WEEKEND. SHE STILL HASNT TOLD HER HUSBAND, SO WE'RE HOPING ALL GOES WELL WITH THAT (HE WAS THE ONE MOST OPPOSED TO CASSIAS BAPTISM TOO). CÁSSIA GOT A CALLING, IT IS THE SOLEDADEDADE OR SOMETHING. I DONT KNOW THE WORD, BUT BASICALLY SHE HELPS POOR PEOPLE IN THE WARD WHEN THEY NEED HELP. PRIMARY PROGRAM WENT REALLY WELL. LETS SEE, WE'RE TEACHING LOTS OF PEOPLE.

[The way the people pronounce Jon's name is "Elder OO-kay"]

LOVE YOU TOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING. HAVE A GOOD WEEK! TCHAU
ELDER HOOKE


Monday, December 6, 2010

12-6-10 The Ups and Downs of a Mission

12-6-10
HELLO FAMILY,
I'M DOING WELL HERE. WE HAD A LONG WEEK, ANOTHER ROLLER COASTER. THERE ARE ALWAYS LOTS OF AMAZING THINGS AND LOTS OF REALLY DISAPPOINTING THINGS THAT HAPPEN, ALMOST DAILY. SERIOUSLY ITS HARD TO DESCRIBE.

 FOR EXAMPLE, WE MET THIS NICE OLD LADY, CLEONICE, (GOOD) BUT SHE'S BED RIDDEN BECAUSE SHE BROKE HER FEMUR (BAD). SHE WAS BEING TAUGHT BY MISSIONARIES IN MACEIÓ (GOOD) BUT THEN HER SON KILLED HIMSELF. (YOU GET THE POINT). SHE STOPPED TAKING THE LESSONS AND MOVED TO SAN MARTIN. SHE HAD A SURGERY RECENTLY FOR HER FEMUR, AND THEN A MEMBER OF OUR WARD STARTED HELPING TAKE CARE OF HER. SHE TALKED WITH HER ABOUT THE GOSPEL, AND CLEONICE TALKED ABOUT HOW SHE ALREADY HAD A TESTIMONY THAT THIS CHURCH IS TRUE BUT NEVER WAS BAPTIZED. SO THE MEMBER, REGINA, BROUGHT US OVER THERE AND WE GAVE HER A BLESSING AND TAUGHT HER  AND ARRANGED A BAPTISM FOR YESTERDAY. SHE HAD NO WAY TO GET TO THE CHURCH OR GET AROUND IN THE CHURCH SO MY COMP AND I PROMISED WE'D GET A WHEELCHAIR FOR HER SOMEHOW. SO SATURDAY WE WENT TO RECIFE TO RENT A WHEELCHAIR AT THIS COMPANY THAT WE HAD ALREADY CALLED AND EVERYTHING SHOULD HAVE WORKED FINE. BUT WHEN WE GOT THERE, THE STORE WAS MYSTERIOUSLY CLOSED FOR SOME REASON, FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. SO WE WENT AROUND TO THE CHAPELS THERE ASKING EVERYONE, BUT NO ONE HAD A WHEELCHAIR. THEN WE RETURNED TO SAN MARTIN, DISAPPOINTED, AND THE BISHOP TOLD US ABOUT SOMEONE WHO MIGHT HAVE ONE. SO WE WENT TO THAT HOUSE AND THE MOMENT WE MENTIONED OUR NEED FOR A WHEELCHAIR SHE SAID "OH I HAVE ONE THAT YOU GUYS CAN KEEP". SO THEN WE WERE REALLY EXCITED AND BROUGHT IT TO CLEONICE'S AND SHE WAS ALL HAPPY AND EVERYTHING WAS ALL FINE AND WHAT NOT. BUT THEN SUNDAY MORNING WE WENT THERE AND SHE TOLD US THAT SHE WAS TOO SICK AND COULDN'T GO TO CHURCH!! AND WE'D ALREADY ANNOUNCED HER BAPTISM, ARRANGED A RIDE (WHICH IS DIFFICULT WHEN THERE ARE ONLY ABOUT 3 PEOPLE IN THE WARD WITH CARS) AND FILLED THE FONT AND EVERYTHING! SO I KNOW THAT'S KINDA AN ANTICLIMACTIC ENDING, BUT WE DID RE-MARK FOR NEXT SUNDAY, SO WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

SO YEAH THAT'S JUST ONE RANDOM EXAMPLE OF A CHAIN OF EVENTS THAT SHOWS THE CRAZINESS OF THE MISSION. 
THERE WERE OTHER BETTER THINGS THAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK. SOME INTERESTING THINGS:

WE WENT TO A DAY CARE THING (ALMOST LIKE AN ORPHANAGE BECAUSE SOME KIDS HAVE TO SLEEP THERE) TO HELP OUT. I PLAYED THE GUITAR AND ELDER PRIETO TOLD STORIES, LIKE THE STORY OF NEPHI AND HIS JOURNEY TO AMERICA. I PLAYED CHORDS AND STUFF TO TRY TO MATCH WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE STORY SO THAT WAS FUN.

A YOUNG WOMAN IN THE WARD INTRODUCED US TO HER FRIEND, MAYARA, AND NOW WE ARE TEACHING HER ALMOST EVERY DAY. SHE IS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE CHURCH, AND ALREADY READ, PRAYED, RECEIVED AN ANSWER, AND DECIDED TO BE BAPTIZED. IT SHOULD BE DECEMBER 18 OR 19 OR WHICHEVER DAY IS SUNDAY. SHE WENT TO CHURCH YESTERDAY AND WAS VERY WELL RECEIVED. THIS WARD IS HARD TO WORK WITH DURING THE WEEK, BUT THEY DO HELP OUR INVESTIGATORS FEEL AT HOME AND LOVED ON SUNDAYS AT CHURCH, WHICH IS NICE.

CÁSSIA BROUGHT HER SISTER IN LAW AND NIECE TO CHURCH, AND WE ARE TEACHING THEM TOO. CÁSSIA GOT UP AND BORE HER TESTIMONY AND IT WAS VERY POWERFUL. IT'S AWESOME TO SEE HOW MUCH SHE HAS CHANGED IN THE LAST MONTH BECAUSE OF THE GOSPEL. HER SISTER IN LAW TOLD ME YESTERDAY THAT CÁSSIA IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON, AND MUCH NICER TO LIVE WITH SINCE SHE STARTED LISTENING TO OUR MESSAGE.

                                                 Elder Prieto, Adlán, Elder Hooke

ADLÂN WAS CONFIRMED YESTERDAY AND WE HAD A LESSON WITH HIM ABOUT THE PRIESTHOOD. HE IS VERY STRONG, AND HIS TESTIMONY IS GROWING EVERY TIME I TALK TO HIM.

THANKS FOR ALL THE ADVICE, PRAYERS, LETTERS, PACKAGES, UPDATES, AND STUFF. HAVE A GOOD WEEK!
ELDER HOOKE


Monday, November 29, 2010

11-29-10--Working hard in San Martins

YEAH THURSDAY HERE WAS COMPLETELY NORMAL. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS THANKSGIVING TILL CÁSSIA TOLD ME THAT NIGHT, HEY ISN'T IT A HOLIDAY IN AMERICA?


I SANG BASS IN THE SAN MARTIN CHOIR (ABOUT 10 PEOPLE) AT OUR STAKE CONFERENCE YESTERDAY. IT WENT WELL. WE SANG "CAREÇO DE JESUS" AND SOME OTHER HYMN. 

ADLÁN DECIDED HE'S SERVING A MISSION!!!! ITS PRETTY AWESOME. HE HAS LOTS OF DOCTRINAL QUESTIONS. I HAVE TOLD HIM MANY TIMES THAT HE WILL KNOW WHAT HE NEEDS TO KNOW FOR A TESTIMONY.

SO EVERYTHING'S GOING MORE OR LESS ALRIGHT HERE. MY COMPANION IS GOOD, AND HE WORKS HARD AND WE ARE GETTING ALONG PRETTY WELL. I'M STARTING TO TEACH HIM ENGLISH, AND HE'S HELPING MY PORTUGUESE A LOT. THE LANGUAGE IS GOING REALLY WELL. HE TOLD ME THAT I SPEAK AS WELL AS LOTS OF AMERICANS WHO HAVE A YEAR IN BRAZIL RIGHT NOW, SO I GUESS I'M PICKING IT UP. WE ARE WORKING REALLY HARD EVERY DAY, WE DON'T EVEN TAKE OUR DINNER HOUR. FROM WHAT HE TELLS ME ABOUT LOTS OF OTHER MISSIONARIES HE'S WORKED WITH, I AM VERY LUCKY TO BE WITH SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY WANTS TO WORK HARD. RIGHT NOW WE´RE WORKING WITH NEW PEOPLE, BECAUSE WE ALREADY BAPTIZED ALL OF THE GOOD INVESTIGATORS OF LAST TRANSFER, FOR THE MOST PART. WE ARE WORKING WITH CÁSSIA A LOT WITH HER FAMILY. SHE IS A FOUNTAIN OF REFERRALS, AS ELDER PRIETO SAID. ALSO A MEMBER INVITED HER FRIEND ANA TO CHURCH YESTERDAY AND WE MET HER FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND SHE SEEMS PRETTY READY. BUT YES EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL. 
 
IDK WHEN I'LL BE ABLE TO SEND MORE PICTURES HOME BUT I HAVE LOTS OF BAPTISM PICTURES TO SEND NOW! I'VE BEEN WARNED BY SEVERAL ELDERS NOT TO PLUG MY CAMERA IN TO THE COMPUTERS AT LANHOUSES BECAUSE OF VIRUSES, SO WHO KNOWS WHEN I CAN SEND MORE. 
 
LOVE
ELDER HOOKE


Monday, November 22, 2010

11-22-10 FOUR Baptisms!!

11-22-10

ANYWAYS, I HAVE A NEW COMPANION. HE IS ELDER PRIETO OLIVEIRA FROM SÃO PAULO. ELDER WELLS LEFT THIS MORNING AND I WILL REMAIN HERE IN SAN MARTIN WITH ELDER PRIETO OLIVEIRA. HE HAS ABOUT THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME ON THE MISSION AS ME, AND SPEAKS NO ENGLISH. AT FIRST HE TOLD ME THAT WE ARE CO-SENIORS, BUT THEN APPARENTLY HE CALLED THE ZLS AND THEY TOLD HIM HE IS SENIOR. EITHER WAY, IT DOESN'T MATTER. I TOLD HIM IT DIDN'T MATTER MUCH TO ME-- AS LONG AS I HAVE A GOOD SENIOR THAT WANTS TO WORK HARD, I DON'T MIND BEING JUNIOR.

THIS WEEK WAS A ROLLER COASTER!!! SOME SUPER STRESSFUL THINGS HAPPENED BUT IN THE END,  EVERYTHING TURNED OUT AMAZING. YES CÁSSIA WAS BAPTIZED. AND ADLÂN, [AND ON SUNDAY I GOT TO BAPTIZE] CONCEIÇÃO, AND HER BROTHER ANDERSON!

                                                          Cassia
                                                         Elder Wells, Adlán, Elder Hooke
                               Elder Wells, Elder Hooke, Anderson & Conceição (brother & sister)
SO ELDER WELLS AND I WORKED NONSTOP THIS WEEK WITH THESE PEOPLE (AND MORE). WE LITERALLY COULDN'T EVEN EAT DINNER TILL 9:30 WHEN WE RETURNED HOME FOR THE NIGHT! SOME BAD THINGS HAPPENED WITH CÁSSIA'S FAMILY THAT WE THOUGHT FOR SURE WOULD KEEP THE BAPTISM FROM HAPPENING. BUT WE DECIDED WE'D JUST PRAY WITH HER. SHE TOLD US AFTER THE PRAYER SHE FELT MUCH MUCH MORE AT PEACE ABOUT EVERYTHING, AND THE SITUATION TURNED OUT TO BE NOT QUITE AS BAD A WE HAD THOUGHT. RIGHT AFTER THAT TEREZA (CÁSSIA'S MOM) CAME UP TO US AND TOLD US "EU VOU ME BATIZAR NA IGREJA CERTA, A IGREJA DE VOCES" (I'M GONNA GET MYSELF BAPTIZED IN THE TRUE CHURCH, YOURS). WE WERE PRETTY SURPRISED AND SO THAT WAS PRETTY AWESOME. SHE WANTS TO WAIT TILL AFTER HER EYE SURGURY TO GET BAPTIZED, BUT WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS... SO YEAH CASSIA'S BAPTISM WAS SATURDAY NIGHT AND IT WAS GREAT. ELDER WELLS BAPTIZED HER, AND AFTER EVERYONE LEFT WE FOUND OUT HER NAME IS LONGER THAN WE'D THOUGHT, RITA DE CÁSSIA DE MENDONÇA [AND ON], AND SO SHE HAD TO GET BAPTIZED AGAIN, WHICH SHE WAS FINE WITH.

WE HAD A WARD TALENT SHOW AFTER AND IT WAS CRAZY! THE BISHOP AND HIS FAMILY RAN THE THING AND HAD LOTS OF GAMES, CONTESTS, AND STUFF IN BETWEEN THE ACTS. AND HE RANDOMLY TOLD EVERYONE THAT I WAS GONNA COME UP AND PLAY AND SING SOMETHING ON GUITAR BY THE BEATLES... SO I DID. UNFORTUNATELY I HAVE HAD A SORE THROAT THE LAST FEW DAYS AND MY VOICE WAS TERRIBLE. BUT FORTUNATELY ANOTHER GUY, THE BISHOPS BRO IN LAW, CAME UP AND STARTED SINGING IT FOR ME. IT'S FUNNY TO HEAR BRAZILIANS SING ENGLISH SONGS THEY'VE HEARD MANY TIMES, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE SOUNDS OF THE WORDS BUT HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. BUT IT WAS VERY FUN.

EARLIER IN THE WEEK WE WERE TEACHING CONCEIÇÃO, AND ANDERSON LISTENED IN. AFTERWARD WE MARKED HIS BAPTISM FOR THE SAME DAY AS HERS. HE HAS ALREADY QUIT SMOKING AND ALL HE NEEDED WAS TO GO TO CHURCH ONE MORE TIME. SO IT WORKED WELL. THE TWO OF THEM BEGAN TO UNDERSTAND MORE OF WHAT THIS BAPTISMAL COMMITMENT IS, AND WE WILL CONTINUE HELPING THEM. LAST NIGHT, WE WENT BY TO SAY BYE (ELDER WELLS LEFT) AND PLAYED SOME QUALITY UNO.

AND ADLÂN FINALLY GOT HIS DAD´S SIGNATURE! HE WAS BAPTIZED BY ELDER WELLS LAST NIGHT IN THE MOST SPIRITUAL BAPTISM I EVER ATTENDED. EVERYONE WAS SO HAPPY, AND HE TOLD US THAT HE IS GONNA FIND ANOTHER "ADLÂN" AND BAPTIZE HIM! WE ARE CONFIDENT HE'LL SERVE A MISSION IN A YEAR. I ALSO FOUND OUT LAST NIGHT FROM THE BISHOP THAT THE FIRST TIME HE MET ADLÂN, HE WAS MORE LIKE SAUL. HE HAD LOTS OF DOUBTS AND WAS LOOKING FOR ERRORS IN THE CHURCH. THE BISHOP BECAME VERY WORRIED FOR HIS MEMBER GIRLFRIEND, NATHALIA. ADLÂN HAD ALSO SAID, AND DONT WORRY I WOULD NEVER GET BAPTIZED FOR NATHALIA. HE ALSO TOLD ELDER WELLS THE FIRST TIME THEY MET THAT HE DIDN'T WANNA GET BAPTIZED OR ANYTHING, HE JUST WANTED TO SEE HOW WE WOULD ANSWER HIS QUESTIONS. ONE MORE AWESOME THING ABOUT HIS BAPTISM LAST NIGHT WAS THAT AFTERWARDS, HE PULLED ELDER WELLS AND I ASIDE TO ASK IF WE'D FOUND AN ANSWER TO A PARTICULAR QUESTION HE HAD. WE HADN'T FOUND A GREAT ANSWER, BUT HE SAID, BASICALLY, "DONT WORRY. I KNOW IT'S TRUE AND THAT STUFF DOESN'T MATTER TOO MUCH ANYMORE. BUT I DID FIND AN ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION ON MY OWN."     THEN I TOLD HIM ABOUT HOW I STILL HAVE A MILLION QUESTIONS AND THEY WILL NEVER STOP. WE TALKED ABOUT FAITH AND LOGIC. THEN WE GAVE HIM A WHITE SHIRT AND TIE. GREAT NIGHT.

[I asked him if they have anything like Thanksgiving there.] I DON'T THINK THEY HAVE ANYTHING LIKE THAT HERE. THEY HAVE TONS OF RANDOM HOLIDAYS THOUGH. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE CELEBRATING, THEY JUST KNOW THEY HAVE A DAY OFF. AND YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL BECAUSE THERE IS LOUD MUSIC PLAYING ON EVERY STREET CORNER AND EVERYONE IS DRUNK.

HAVE A GOOD THANKSGIVING!
THANK YOU FOR THE EMAILS, SUPPORT, PRAYERS, MAIL, PACKAGES, AND EVERYTHING. LOVE YOU TOO

ELDER HOOKE

Friday, November 19, 2010

11-16-10 Investigator status...many progressing

11-16-10
 
Oi familia! Mãe,
 
THE WEEK WENT WELL, ALTHOUGH STILL NO BAPTISMS! ADLÁN WAS NOT ABLE TO GET THE SIGNITURE FROM HIS DAD YET, BUT WE´RE ARE HOPING HE WILL BY SATURDAY SO THAT HE CAN BE BAPTIZED AT THE SAME SERVICE AS CÁSSIA AND POSSIBLY ANOTHER GIRL, CONCEIÇÃO. CÁSSIA DECREASED HER CIGARRETTES UNTIL ZERO A FEW DAYS A GO, AND IF SHE DOESN'T SMOKE ANOTHER, SHE WILL BE VERY EXCITED TO BE BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY. SHE´S AN AWESOME INVESTIGATOR, ONE OF THOSE THAT MOTIVATES THE MISSIONARIES INSTEAD OF ONE THAT THE MISSIONARIES HAVE TO SPEND LOTS OF TIME MOTIVATING. WE GO OVER THERE EVERY DAY, AND YESTERDAY SHE CAME TO A FHE WITH US AT A WARD FAM'S HOUSE, WITH PIZZA AND CAKE (AND A LESSONZINHO OF COURSE). JOÃO PEDRO IS A FUNNY KID. HE DOESNT WANNA BE BAPTIZED, AT LEAST HE DOESNT RIGHT NOW. AND WE'RE STILL WORKING WITH TEREZA, CASSIAS MOM. I THINK SHE'LL COME AROUND ONE DAY SOON. RONALDO IS STILL IN THE SAME SITUATION--HE GOT AN ANSWER TO PRAYER, KNOWS ITS TRUE, BUT IS AFRAID TO MAKE THE COMMITMENT TO BE BAPTIZED BECAUSE IT'S GONNA BE HARD TO GROW UP LIVING THE COMMANDMENTS HERE AND HE KNOWS IT. IT WOULD BE MUCH HARDER HERE THAN CALIFORNIA. CONCEIÇÃO IS ANDERSON´S SISTER (ANDERSON UP AND QUIT SMOKING THAT ONE DAY A FEW WEEKS AGO, BUT HAS STILL ONLY BEEN TO CHURCH ONCE SO HIS BAPTISMAL DATE FELL). CONCEIÇAO IS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT IS VERY NICE AND BELIEVES THE CHURCH IS TRUE, BUT I WORRY THAT SHE DOESNT REALLY UNDERSTAND THE COMMITMENT THAT BAPTISM IS. WE´LL JUST DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO PREPARE HER AND PRAY.
 
GLAD YOU LIKED THE PICTURES. YEAH THAINARA IS REALLY CUTE--I MISS THAT FAMILY!
 
WELL MY HEALTH IS GOOD. NOTHING MUCH TO WORRY ABOUT. WE STILL HAVENT SCHEDULED THE SURGERY YET. [ I think this is classic Jon-humor...]
 
THE COMPANIONSHIP IS GOING WELL. ELDER WELLS AND I WILL PROBABLY BE ABLE TO REMAIN HERE NEXT TRANSFER TOGETHER, TOO, WHICH STARTS NEXT MONDAY! SO WE WILL BE SPENDING CHRISTMAS HERE WITH THE BISHOP AND STUFF, WHICH WE´RE EXCITED ABOUT. WE ARE VERY BUSY, AND GENERALLY PLAN, MAKE A SMOOTHIE AND GO TO BED AS SOON AS WE GET HOME. WE ARE TEACHING WELL TOGETHER, AND USUALLY MAKE A PRETTY EFFECTIVE TEAM. WE SOMETIMES CALL OURSELVES THE "SUPER DUPLA" HAHA.
 
I´M LEARNING ABOUT PATIENCE, ABOUT THE SPIRIT, ABOUT HOW TO HELP PEOPLE. ITS GOOD.
 
AND ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR EVERY MORMON GIRL: JUST CUZ A GUY WENT ON A MISSION DOES NOT MEAN HE´S A GREAT GUY.  (DONT WORRY, ITS NOT MY COMPANION TEACHING ME THIS)

[Emily's girls cross country team didn't go past CIF prelims, but the boys team will progres to CIF finals...Jon's response:] TOO BAD. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS NOW EM? ITS TRACK SEASON! AND GOOD LUCK TO THE GUYS AT FINALS NEXT WEEK!

DONT HAVE ANY NEW FOTOS FOR THIS WEEK BUT HOPE YOU GUYS HAVE A GOOD ONE!

THANKS FOR THE PRAYERS FOR OUR INVESTIGATORS AND FOR US.

LOVE,
ELDER HOOKE
 

11-15-10 Busy P-day! Short and sweet...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hi sorry I didnt email yet today. I think we will be able to tomorrow, not sure though. Things are going well though, don't worry about me!


Love

Elder Hooke

Monday, November 8, 2010

PHOTOS FROM GARANHUNS (September 22 - October 11, 2010)

 The view from the apartment Jon was in in Garanhuns
 Jon's district in Garanhuns. (His companion, Elder de Souza, is standing by President Emeric)
 Lurdinha and Marcos, who were married and baptized on the same day.
 Thainara (5), Vivianna (11), Lurdinha, Marcos, Marcones (14), Israel (12)
 Elder de Souza, Lurdinha, Marcos, Jon
 The happy couple!
 Above: Group shot outside chapel           Below: Jon with little Thainara

11-8-10 Birthday, & Baptisms Upcoming!

11-8-10

Hope your birthday was marvelous!
HAHA NOTHIN TOO SPECIAL... JUST BEANS AND RICE AND FASTING. AND ALL THE USUAL TEACHING APPOINTMENTS AND WHAT NOT. BUT THE BEST PART WAS THAT I ACTUALLY GOT YOUR PACKAGE AND LETTER THE DAY BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY! SO I WAS ABLE TO OPEN IT ON SATURDAY MORNING, AND I WAS SO EXCITED. IT’S FUNNY HOW HAPPY I WAS TO RECEIVE A YOYO AND PADDLE BALL AND CANDY. HAHA THANK YOU SO MUCH! AND YOU ARE ALREADY GETTING PAID BACK FOR THE CAMERA CORD (IN PICTURES I SENT). THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE CARD TOO. I APPRECIATED IT! IT WAS ALL THAT MADE MY B-DAY UNIQUE SO IT WAS NICE.

WELL ADLÁN SHOULD BE BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY! HE CAN’T THURSDAY BECAUSE WHEN HE FINALLY DECIDED HE WAS SURE HE WANTED BAPTISM HIS MOM SAID NO! AND HE’S 17 SO IT HAS TO GET SIGNED... BUT ON THURSDAY HE´S GOING TO TAKE A LONG BUS RIDE TO FIND HIS DAD TO SIGN THE PAPER! HE´S GOING TO BE SUCH A STRONG MEMBER, AND A MISSIONARY! SO PLEASE PRAY THAT ALL GOES WELL FOR HIM BEING BAPTIZED THE 13TH.

RONALDO, THE SMART 12 YEAR OLD KID, FINALLY RECEIVED AN ANSWER TO HIS PRAYERS. HE´S ALWAYS BEEN READING AND PRAYING AND GOING TO CHURCH BUT HADN'T REALLY FELT LIKE HIS PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED. A FEW DAYS AGO HE REALLY FELT THE HOLY GHOST CONFIRM THE TRUTH OF  THE BOOK OF MORMON! HIS MOM TOLD US HOW SHE WAS AT WORK AND HE RAN IN THE SHOP ALL EXCITED TO TELL HER ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE! HE IS SO HAPPY, BUT WE STILL HAVE NO BAPTISM DATE SET.

CÁSSIA IS AWESOME. SHE WENT TO CHURCH AGAIN AND WAS RECEIVED VERY WELL. SHE ANNOUNCED HER BAPTISM TO SOME OF HER NEW FRIENDS AT CHURCH, SCHEDULED FOR THE 20TH. TODAY WE WILL FIND OUT HOW QUITTING SMOKING IS GOING, BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON SHE DIDN'T WANT TO TELL US BEFORE.... BUT WE GAVE HER A PRIESTHOOD BLESSING TO HELP HER OVERCOME THE ADDICTION, AND SHE HAS INCREDIBLE FAITH. AND NOW I CAN GIVE HER THAT CONFERENCE TALK YOU SENT ME ABOUT OVERCOMING ADDICTIONS. THANKS! HER MOM, TEREZA, IS STILL A LITTLE SCARED TO SET A DATE FOR BAPTISM, ALTHOUGH SHE KNOWS THAT SHE NEEDS IT AND THAT THE CHURCH IS TRUE. IT’S JUST HARD TO LEAVE THE RELIGION OF THE LAST 75 YEARS OF HER LIFE. WE ARE WORKING HARD WITH HER, AND SHE IS VERY AWESOME, AND LOVES THE TRUE CHURCH.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH [for keeping him in our prayers]. I AM ASKING AND PRAYING FOR ALL THE INVESTIGATORS EVERY DAY, AND OCCASIONALLY, NO, I WOULD EVEN GO SO FAR AS TO SAY USUALLY, YOU GUYS ARE IN MY PRAYERS! LOVE YOU AND HAVE A GOOD WEEK.  :)



Monday, November 1, 2010

11-1-10 Wonderful Spiritual Experiences

11-1-10
NOBODY CELEBRATED HALLOWEEN HERE, EXCEPT ELDER WELLS AND I. WE MADE CUZCUZ (BASICALLY LIKE CORN MEAL MUSH) AND ADDED REESES PIECES MNMS TO IT AND THIS PEANUT CANDY. IT WAS GOOD, AND WE HAD IT WITH OUR NEW HOMEMADE AÇAÍ SMOOTHIE RECIPE, WHICH IS AMAZING! WE JUST WATCHED THAT GUY AT THE SMOOTHIE STAND MAKE OUR SMOOTHIES AND BOUGHT ALL THE SAME INGREDIENTS HE USES AND NOW WE HAVE SMOOTHIES LIKE TWICE A DAY!

THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW GOOD THINGS HAPPEN WITH THE WARD. WE HAD A FAMILY NIGHT WITH A FAM IN THE WARD AND ANOTHER FAMILY WHO THEY ARE FRIENDS WITH. AND ALSO WE WERE ABLE TO TAKE A FEW DIFFERENT PEOPLE WITH US DURING THE WEEK TO TEACH LESSONS.

IT"S A VERY FINE BALANCE BETWEEN WORKING HARD TO PEAK WELL AND WORKING TOO HARD. THAT'S REALLY FRUSTRATING, BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU JUST WISH THAT THE HARDER YOU WORK, THE FASTER YOU'LL BE, BUT YOU ALSO HAVE TO WORK VERY SMART FOR THAT TO BE TRUE.

SO YESTERDAY WAS AN AWESOME DAY. ONE OF THE DAYS THAT WILL ALWAYS MARK MY MISSION. I'LL JUST COPY MY JOURNAL ENTRY FROM YESTERDAY:

"TODAY WAS A DAY I'LL NEVER FORGET! I AM STOKED RIGHT NOW. ADELÁN FINALLY, AFTER LIKE 8 WEEKS OF BEING TAUGHT, HAS AN ANSWER TO HIS PRAYER AND WANTS TO BE BAPTIZED!  WE WENT TO A REALLY GOOD MEETING TODAY FOR ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE WARD LIKE 16-30 YEARS OLD. THERE WERE SOME OLD PEOPLE TOO. BUT HE DESCRIBED HOW HE FELT, AND IT WAS REALLY A FEELING I KNOW. HE SAID HE REALLY JUST FELT SUPER HAPPY THERE, LAUGHING AT EVERYTHING JUST BECAUSE OF THE JOY HE FELT. (I ALREADY MENTIONED THAT HE RECEIVED A STRONG ANSWER TO PRAYER WEEKS AGO RIGHT?) I FELT THAT SAME WAY IN THE MEETING (WE HAD JUST COME FROM THE LESSON THAT I WILL WRITE ABOUT WITH TEREZA AND CASSIA.) HE TALKED ABOUT SERVING A MISSION AND HOW IT WILL BE A BIG DECISION IN HIS LIFE. AND HE SAID HE WANTS HIS WHOLE LIFE TO BE A MISSION JUST HELPING PEOPLE FOREVER. HE IS REALLY SMART, AND I AM VERY CONFIDENT HE'LL REMAIN STRONG IN THE CHURCH. HE ALSO SAID THAT DURING THE MEETING HE KEPT HAVING THIS IMAGE OF ELDER WELLS BAPTIZING HIM, SO WHEN WE TALKED TO HIM AFTER, WE WERE ALL STOKED AND EACH SAID A PRAYER TO THANK GOD, AND HE WILL BE BAPTIZED A WEEK FROM THURSDAY. SWEET.
      SIDENOTE- AT THAT MEETING, AN OLDER WARD MEMBER WHO WE ATE WITH A FEW DAYS AGO WAS THERE.  HE’S BEEN  A MEMBER FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS NOW, AND HE TOLD US ABOUT HOW LONG AGO HE DROVE AROUND DRUG TRAFFICKERS, WAS THE DRIVER IN SEVERAL DRIVE BY SHOOTINGS, AND HOW HE "HAS BROKEN MANY FACES". THEN HE TOLD US HIS CONVERSION STORY AND HOW HE IS INFINITELY HAPPIER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE, BECAUSE THIS IS ETERNAL. IT WAS PRETTY POWERFUL.
     CÁSSIA COMMITTED TO BE BAPTIZED TODAY IN A VERY POWERFUL LESSON, AND WE TALKED WITH HER AND TEREZA ABOUT ALL THE MIRACLES THAT THE GOSPEL (FULNESS OF, THAT IS. THEY HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN STRONG CATHOLICS) HAS BROUGHT THEM. I THINK I ALREADY WROTE ABOUT HOW CÁSSIA WS PRAYING FOR DAYS BEFORE WE ARRIVED FOR GUIDANCE IN HER SON, JOÃO PEDRO’S LIFE, AND THEN HE FOUND US. AND TODAY HE WAS ANGRY BECAUSE NO ONE WOKE HIM UP TO GO TO CHURCH! I ALREADY WROTE ABOUT THE FACT THAT BOTH TEREZA AND HER HUSBAND MAURO ARE IN BETTER HEALTH THAN EITHER OF THEM HAS BEEN IN YEARS SINCE WE STARTED COMING. NOW CÁSSIA’S 15 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, MARIA KLARA  AND HER NIECE, MARIA LUIZA BOTH ARE LISTENING AND LOVING OUR MESSAGES. BOTH OF THEM INDIVIDUALLY READ AND PRAYED AND HAD VERY POWERFUL EXPERIENCES. BOTH OF THEM TALKED ABOUT A STRONG FEELING OF PEACE AND JOY AS THEY PRAYED.  THEN THE NEXT DAY WE WATCHED A 7 MINUTE FILM WITH THEM THAT WAS MADE BY THE SAN JOSE CA MISSION CALLED "BY SMALL AND SIMPLE THINGS". IT WAS REALLY REALLY POWERFUL AND EVERYONE FELT THE SPIRIT DURING IT. CÁSSIA WAS SO HAPPY BECAUSE SHE SAID SHE HADN'T REALLY FELT ANYTHING SPECIAL WHILE PRAYING BUT DID DURING THE MOVIE. ONLY TEREZA AND CÁSSIA WENT TO CHURCH, BUT THEY WERE BOTH VERY WELL RECEIVED BY THE WARD AND LOVED IT. I'M STOKED TO SEE WHAT IS TO COME WITH THIS FAMILY."

ANYWAYS PRAY FOR CÁSSIA BECAUSE SHE WILL HAVE TO QUIT SMOKING. AND TEREZA SAID THAT SHE WANTS TO FEEL SOMETHING STRONGER BEFORE BAPTISM. SHE WILL, IF SHE TRULY WANTS, BE READY WITHIN 2 WEEKS.

WE ARE ALSO TEACHING A PART MEMBER FAMILY, AND THE 17 YEAR OLD GUY AND MOM USED TO SMOKE. BUT THEY SET A GOAL TO STOP, JUST UP AND STOP, DURING ONE OF OUR LESSONS AND NOW IT MAKES 5 DAYS WITHOUT SMOKE! WE HAD MARKED ANDERSON'S BAPTISM FOR THE 13TH BUT THAT WILL CHANGE BECAUSE STUFF HAPPENED SUNDAY MORNING THAT KEPT THEM FROM CHURCH.

AND THE BISHOP’S NIECES WERE DROPPED. THEY HAVE A REALLY BAD FAMILY SITUATION AND I FEEL BAD FOR THEM, BUT THEY "DON'T WANNA BE BAPTIZED". I BELIEVE THAT WAS MORE OF THE WORDS OF OTHERS (WE GOT CALLED LIARS, AMERICAN JERKS, AND STONED BY ALL THEIR NEIGHBOR KIDS, I JUST GOT HIT BY ONE LITTLE ROCK IN THE CALF, BUT AT LEAST I CAN SAY I GOT STONED  :)   )

LOVE YOU TOO. BYE!

Monday, October 25, 2010

10-25-10 Family of João Pedro, gecko, and a big green & blue lizard

Dear family,

Thanks for sending the package. Elder Wells has been waiting for a package for over 2 months from his dad, so I don't know about 3-5 days!  But it would be cool...

Elder Dallin H Oaks came to our mission Saturday and gave us a nice talk on revelation. It was much less interactive than with Elder Bednar, but it was still cool to hear from an Apostle. And something interesting is that a Brazilian was answering a question Elder Oaks asked using his (Portuguese) "Preach my Gospel", and Elder Oaks wanted an English one. So I brought mine up because there weren't many people who brought them, and gave it to him, and in my very own "Preach my Gospel",  an Apostle read his own quote. Haha so that was cool. Elder Scott Grow gave us a talk too, on repentance. He made sure we knew that it was not just for our investigators, but for us as well. I liked that because lots of missionaries here need that, including me. This mission in general needs to become way more obedient.

We weren't able to teach the 2 girls this week, which is frustrating. They are in a bad family situation but hopefully will soon move in with their uncle (the bishop).

We had some miracles with this other family that we found though, the fam of Cassia and João Pedro. Cassia's mom, Teresa, really loved our message and has had about 80 years of life as a strong Catholic. She doesn't go anymore to church because of health, but she used to teach Sunday school and stuff. So from the first time we arrived, she said she felt really good, spiritually, and surprisingly, physically too. So in the days after that, she healed a lot and is able to "practically play futbol again" better than she has in years. She saw this as a sign that she needed to act on it and go to church. So yesterday she came with João Pedro, and loved it! She literally said she's in love with this church now. And our investigator class was all about baptism, and the teacher, Leo (awesome guy-the bishops bro and counselor), had been baptized Catholic in his childhood, too, and was able to very plainly explain a true baptism for Teresa. She understood and said "Mauro (my husband) is going to be so surprised when he finds out I'm joining another church!" So all that lacks is a date for baptism. Oh and did I mention she's mostly blind. I guess that's not too important.


We are also teaching a 17-yr-old rapaz [youth], Adlan, who we tentatively committed to baptism next Sunday. We are all 3 going to fast and pray during this week, and if he feels a confirmation of the truth of these things he'll be baptized (he already received a pretty crazy answer to his prayers about it.) He's really smart though and has read bad stuff about our church and is the kinda guy who looks for proofs, not trust instinct. We have a lot in common and I think that has helped him a lot.

The companionship is going well. We joke around a lot and he's got a great sense of humor, and we also work hard. We spend time and will start spending more every day doing work just to help the ward grow stronger, not just baptize. The ward needs all the help and prayers it can get. I feel really sorry for the bishop and his family because they basically run the ward, and anything they delegate doesn't usually get done. And the bishop is only 28 with 2 little kids, and no money or car or anything.

So this morning we went to this place called the ceaza to buy tons of different fruits (we got 13 different kinds). The cool part of this story though is on the way to the ceaza we walked through this field and I saw a huge green lizard running through the bushes. We chased it around (in p-day clothes, don't worry) and I caught it! I need to send you the pictures because it is beautiful and huge--like between 2 and 3 feet long!  I think it is some kind of monitor, and it had bright
blue and green all over it, and a forked tongue that it flicked out. The most amazing animal I ever caught. And on our way back, I saw another one, even bigger, but it ran away somewhere. And then I caught another one. They are awesome. I bet they'd sell for a ton at the pet store in Ventura. I released them though already, because it says in the missionary handbook not to keep pets of any kind. It's a shame, cuz there's some really cute kittens here, and I caught a yellow bird the other day. And there's dogs all over the streets, and some we see every day. One is named Steve and one is named Tiger Woods.

Were hoping to have several baptisms in the coming 2 weeks! So keep praying for our investigators, and thanks for the prayers already! Have a good week!

Love, Elder Hooke (and friend :)   (See more pics below)





Monday, October 18, 2010

10-18-10 Working Hard in São Martins


THE WEEK HAS BEEN VERY VERY LONG! MY COMP ELDER WELLS IS A VERY HARD WORKER, AND WE ALSO GET ALONG WELL. THIS IS A TOUGH AREA THAT WE'RE IN, AND LAST TRANSFER WAS THE FIRST TRANSFER IN HIS MISSION THAT HE DIDN'T BAPTIZE (13 MONTHS IN).  WHEN WE GET HOME AT NIGHT WE PLAN, EAT, AND GO STRAIGHT TO BED. AND I'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FALL ASLEEP FAST, BUT NOW I CAN FALL ASLEEP IN LIKE 30 SECONDS. IN FACT I FELL ASLEEP FOR A MINUTE IN WARD COUNCIL YESTERDAY. OUR BISHOPRIC IS AWESOME HERE, THEY ARE ALL UNDER 30 YRS OLD AND RECENTLY RETURNED MISSIONARIES. THE DOWNSIDE THOUGH IS THE WARD WAS NOT BEING RUN WELL BEFORE (NOTHING IS ORGANIZED), SO WE ARE SPENDING A LOT OF TIME HELPING THEM OUT WITH MAKING THE WARD FUNCTION LIKE A WARD SHOULD. WE ARE TRYING TO WORK WITH MEMBERS OF THE WARD TO FIND PEOPLE TO TEACH, BUT SO FAR THE ONLY SUCCESS WE'VE SEEN OUT OF THAT WAS THE BISHOP'S NIECES (LIANDRA, 11, AND MAYARA, 10) WHO  HAVE BEEN GOING TO CHURCH FOR YEARS WITH HIS FAMILY, BUT ARE NOT BAPTIZED. SO WE STARTED TEACHING THEM AND WE WILL PROBABLY SET A BAP-DATE WITH THEM FOR A WEEK FROM SATURDAY.  WE HAVE A TRANSFER GOAL OF CONTACTING 10 MEN EVERY DAY (FINDING, TEACHING, AND BAPTIZING ADULT MEN IS VERY IMPORTANT IN THIS MISSION, AND ALSO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT).
Jon and "Friar Tuck"
 SO FAR WE'RE ON TRACK, AND IN SACRAMENT MEETING, WE BOTH GAVE TALKS ABOUT MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK. (BTW, I HAD LIKE A HALF HOUR NOTICE BEFORE SACRAMENT MEETING STARTED!) MY TALK WAS SIMPLE AND I QUOTED AN ELDER BEDNAR TALK CALLED "ASK IN FAITH." HE SAID THAT IT IS THE MEMBERS' RESPONSIBILITY TO FIND, AND IDEALLY THE MISSIONARIES SHOULD BE FULL TIME TEACHERS. SO ELDER WELLS, IN HIS TALK, WAS ABLE TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE CONTACTED AND INVITED OVER 50 MEN TO CHURCH THIS WEEK, AND NOT A SINGLE ONE WAS AT CHURCH. HE DID A REALLY GOOD JOB HELPING THEM TO REALIZE THEIR RESPONSIBILITY, SO HOPEFULLY WE'LL BE ABLE TO BE MORE SUCCESSFUL WITH THE HELP OF THE WARD.

ONE COOL STORY IS ON WEDNESDAY WE WERE TALKING TO THIS RICH MAN (HE EVEN HAD A CAR!) AND WE OFFERED TO PUSH HIS CAR TO BUMP START IT. WE PUSHED AND PUSHED BUT IT WOULDN'T START, THEN THIS 12 YEAR OLD KID CAME OVER AND RIGHT AFTER WE STOPPED, HE PUSHED IT A LITTLE FURTHER AND IT STARTED. WE DON'T USUALLY CONTACT KIDS, BUT WE STARTED TALKING TO THIS KID AND SET UP A TIME TO COME BACK AND TALK WITH HIS FAMILY. WHEN WE RETURNED, JOÃO PEDRO (THE KID)'S MOM AND GRANDMA WERE BOTH SUPER HAPPY TO SEE US AND REALLY WERE INTERESTED IN OUR MESSAGE. HIS MOM, CASSIA, SAID THAT SHE HAD BEEN PRAYING THE LAST FEW DAYS FOR SOMETHING TO HELP JOÃO PEDRO (APPARENTLY HE'S STARTING TO BE REBELLIOUS), AND SHE BELIEVES THAT WE ARE THE ANSWER TO THAT PRAYER! THEY WEREN'T ABLE TO MAKE IT TO CHURCH, BUT WE'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO TEACHING THEM AGAIN.
IT'S HOTTER HERE THAN IT WAS IN GARANHUNS, AND EVEN LOUDER AND MORE CHAOTIC. IT'S STILL NOT AS HOT AS SOME ALABAMA DAYS.  TOO BAD WE CAN'T SHARE SOME OF OUR HOT SUNSHINE HERE WITH YOU GUYS. I'D BE DOWN WITH THAT. 
THE FOOD IS ALL THE SAME, BUT I LIKE IT SO IT'S ALL GOOD. SMOOTHIES ARE REALLY CHEAP HERE SO WE GET THEM LIKE EVERY DAY. LIKE AROUND 90 US CENTS FOR A JAMBA JUICE TYPE SMOOTHIE BUT BETTER AND WITH WEIRD FRUITS. I'M ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE BETTER, AND I USUALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT, ALTHOUGH KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE SAYING--NOT QUITE.

THANK YOU GUYS AND GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING! 


Monday, October 11, 2010

10-11-10 New Area: San Martins; New Companion: Elder Wells

Elder Jonathan Hooke
Brazil Recife Mission
Rua São Francisco 110  Sala 102
52010-020  Paissandu -- Recife -- PE
BRAZIL

HELLO FAMILY, THE LAST WEEK WAS CHALLENGING, BUT IT ENDED WELL. WE DID GET TO SEE THE SILVA'S MARRIAGE AND BAPTISM. THURSDAY, MARCOS AND LURDINHA WERE MARRIED CIVILLY IN THE COURT ALONG WITH SOME OTHER COUPLES. IT WAS FUNNY BECAUSE DURING THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY (THE JUDGE WAS TALKING ABOUT WHAT MARRIAGE IS), MARCOS' CELL PHONE RANG IN HIS POCKET. AND HE STEPPED OUT OF THE CIRCLE TO ANSWER IT! HAHA AND I GUESS HE JUST SAID, "HOLD ON CAN I CALL YOU BACK? I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF MY OWN MARRIAGE CEREMONY OK? BYE". ANYWAYS THEN THURSDAY NIGHT WE WENT TO A PIZZA PLACE WITH THEM. THE "AMERICAN STYLE" PIZZA HAS NO TOMATO SAUCE AND EGGS AND SHREDDED HAM. HAHA NOT AMERICAN, BUT IT WAS GOOD. AND THEN SATURDAY WE HAD A MARRIAGE FESTA/BAPTISM!


E. DE SOUZA BAPTIZED LURDINHA AND I BAPTIZED MARCOS. IT WAS AN AWESOME EXPERIENCE AND THEY ARE VERY HAPPY WITH THE STEPS THEY'RE MAKING IN LIFE. YESTERDAY MARCOS BORE HIS TESTIMONY IN SACRAMENT MEETING, ALONG WITH THE 2 OLDER KIDS IN THE FAMILY, AND IT WAS VERY POWERFUL.  AND YEAH AT THE BAPTISM, MANY FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND NEIGHBORS ATTENDED. PROBABLY LIKE 20!

THINGS WERE STILL ROUGH FOR THE LAST WEEK, BUT ON WEDNESDAY WE HAD INTERVIEWS WITH THE PRESIDENT (WHICH WAS VERY LUCKY BECAUSE THEY ONLY HAPPEN ONCE EVERY 3 MONTHS GENERALLY).  I GOT TRANSFERRED TODAY AND NOW I HAVE AN AMERICAN COMPANION, ELDER WELLS, FROM DRAPER UTAH.  I THINK WE'LL BE ABLE TO WORK HARD TOGETHER! WE'VE ONLY BEEN TOGETHER A COUPLE HOURS BUT HE SEEMS LIKE A NICE GUY AND A GOOD MISSIONARY. AND I'VE HEARD HE WORKS HARD. WE ARE SERVING IN HIS AREA, SAN MARTINS, WHICH IS JUST A LITTLE INLAND OF RECIFE. WE LIVE IN A NICE APT (JUST US 2) THAT IS RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO OUR CHAPEL, AND THE BUS DRIVES RIGHT BY OUR FRONT DOOR TOO, SO IT'S PERFECT LOCATION. I DON'T REALLY KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AREA YET.
Jon & Elder Wells...they had contacted a man at a fair, and he let them ride the Ferris wheel

Well, just tell us what's going on in Garanhuns NOT ME! and the Recife Mission TRANSFERS! SEE ABOVE FOR DETAILS. 

Can you tell us what kinds of food you eat for lunch with the members?    IN GARANHUNS WE HAD LUNCH EVERY DAY WITH MEMBERS, USUALLY DIFFERENT ONES MOST OF THE TIME. ALMOST EVERY MEAL IS THE SAME, BUT I LIKE IT A LOT. IT IS RICE, SPAGHETTI NOODLES (NOT WITH SPAGHETTI SAUCE, SOME OTHER BLAND ORANGE SAUCE), BEANS (PINTO OR BLACK), SOME TYPE OF MEAT (CHICKEN USUALLY, BUT I HAD LIVER ALREADY TWICE), CUS CUIS (CORN POWDER STUFF SORTA LIKE CORN MEAL MUSH, PRETTY GOOD STUFF), AND JUICE (PASSION FRUIT, ORANGE, GUAVA, ACAI, ETC) OR GUARANÁ.  YEP PRETTY MUCH EVERY MEAL'S LIKE THIS.   

BYE AND HAVE A GOOD WEEK!
LOVE ELDER HOOKE

Monday, October 4, 2010

10-4-10 Silva Family baptism coming up!

[Jon's birthday is coming up in a month!  All cards and letters are welcome!  Here's his address in case you haven't found it yet down at the bottom of this page :)

Elder Jonathan Hooke
Brazil Recife Mission
Rua Sao Francisco 110  Sala 102
52010-020 Paissandu  --  Recife -- PE
BRAZIL

[Regarding my offer to send him copies of some general conference talks]:  YEAH I THINK I'D LIKE SOME TALKS BECAUSE I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND ANY OF CONFERENCE. THE CHANNEL THAT USUALLY WORKS SO THAT ANYONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH CAN WATCH IN ENGLISH WAS BROKEN, AND SO I SAT THRU EVERY SESSION AND DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND ANYTHING.

JUST SEND MAIL TO THE MISSION OFFICE MY WHOLE MISSION. THANKS. APPARENTLY LETTERS TAKE BETWEEN LIKE 1 AND 3 WEEKS, AND PACKAGES TAKE MORE THAN A MONTH.  [note from Lori: In that case, anyone who wants to send a package to Jon for his birthday should do it today !!  Yikes!!]

MY COMPANION IS ELDER DE SOUZA, FROM SAO PAULO.  I ALSO LIVE WITH ELDER STRICKLAND AND FREIRE, STRICKLAND IS FROM WISCONSIN, AND HE'S COOL.  I'M VERY GLAD TO HAVE ELDER STRICKLAND LIVING THERE BECAUSE WE CAN SPEAK ENGLISH.

OUR INVESTIGATOR FAMILY, THE SILVA'S, WILL BE MARRIED AND BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY. WE GO TO THEIR HOUSE ALMOST EVERY DAY AND THEY ARE AWESOME. THEY ALL LOVE US AND THE LITTLE KIDS LOVE TO HELP ME LEARN TO TALK. AT CONFERENCE YESTERDAY THEY WERE THERE, ALONG WITH ANOTHER FAMILY WHO LIVES NEXT DOOR TO THEM, AND ANOTHER MAN WHO LIVES 2 DOORS DOWN. WE'RE HOPING TO BAPTIZE THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
FOOD IS GOOD, WE HAVE LUNCH WITH MEMBERS EVERY DAY, AND WE USUALLY JUST EAT A SNACK FOR BREAKFAST AND DINNER. LANGUAGE IS COMING, BUT I STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND PEOPLE IF THEY ARE TALKING AT THEIR NORMAL SPEED.
THE WEATHER IS A LOT MORE TEMPERATE IN GARANHUNS THAN MOST OF THE MISSION, AND ALSO A LOT MORE TEMPERATE THAN THE SUMMER IN ALABAMA WAS. LESS HOT, LESS HUMID. IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY PLEASANT WEATHER FOR THE MOST PART. 
THANKS FOR THE LETTER, LOVE, PRAYERS. I COULD USE THEM. I PRAY FOR YOU GUYS TOO, AND HOPE EVERYTHING CONTINUES TO GO WELL.
LOVE,
ELDER HOOKE

Monday, September 27, 2010

9-27-10 Jon's first real letter from Brazil!

9-27-10
[Jon's comments about his mission president's blog and pictures of Jon on Jon's last day there--if you haven't seen the blog yet, you should!  Click here! Alabama mission blog] 
THANK YOU, I LOOKED AT IT AND READ THROUGH, I'M GLAD TO HEAR THEY DIDN'T MIND HAVING ME THERE TOO MUCH, OR MAYBE THEY JUST WANT YOU TO THINK THAT! YEAH IT WAS SAD TO LEAVE ALABAMA AND ALL THE AWESOME MISSIONARIES AND PEOPLE THERE (BECAUSE MISSIONARIES AREN~T PEOPLE.) :)   [keyboards are different in Brazil! ]

[Jon got to call us while he was in Dallas awaiting for his Brazil flight. He mentioned that one thing Sister Bednar told the missionaries last Saturday was : "Be the missionary your mother thinks you are!" ]

YEAH WHEN I WAS TALKING TO [Tom] ON THE PHONE [in Dallas], [three missionaries] SHOWED UP TO CALL THEIR FAMILIES. I KNEW ONE OF THEM REALLY WELL FROM THE MTC, ELDER PRICE (HE LIVED WITH ME), SO IT WAS REALLY COOL TO BE ABLE TO HEAR ABOUT HIS 2 MONTHS IN TEXAS. AND WE ENDED UP SITTING ON THE PLANE TO SÃO PAULO FOR LIKE 11 HOURS OR MORE SO WE HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO TALK. WE ALSO SAT BY A BRASILIAN AND TALKED TO HIM ABOUT WHAT WE ARE DOING, AND ENDED UP GIVING HIM A BOOK OF MORMON AND REFERRING HIM TO MISSIONARIES IN THE AREA HE GOES TO. SO WHEN WE ARRIVED IN RECIFE (ME AND 2 OTHER ELDERS THAT HAD BEEN WAITING, INCLUDING ONE WHO HAS 7 MONTHS ALREADY ON HIS MISSION AND BARELY GOT HIS VISA) THE MISSION PRESIDENT PICKED US UP WITH THE SECRETARY (A NORMAL ELDER, BUT NOT THE ASSISTANT, BECAUSE THEY DON~T HAVE OLDER COUPLES TO DO THE FINANCIAL WORK AND STUFF HERE) WHO WAS BRASILIAN BUT SPOKE GOOD ENGLISH, BECAUSE MY PRESIDENT DOESN~T SPEAK ANY ENGLISH! SO I GUESS I DONT HAVE MUCH TO SAY ABOUT HIM, ALL I KNOW IS TUDO ESTA BOM COM ELE [everything is well with him], AND HIS WIFE COOKS VERY WELL (LUCNH THE NEXT DAY). WE WENT TO THE RECIFE TEMPLE TO EAT AND SLEEP (BUT NOT TO ATTEND) AND IT WAS AWESOME. LIKE LOS ANGELES, IT IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VERY BUSY CITY AND SURROUNDED BY WORLDLINESS AND HEAVY TRAFFIC. SPEAKING OF WHICH THE TRAFFIC IS RIDICULOUS HERE. IF YOU WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT JUST ASK TOM CUZ APPARENTLY IT'S EVEN WORSE IN SÃO PAULO! MOTORCYCLIST ARE DOIDA AQUI [crazy here]! BUT ANYWAYS AFTER THE 32 HOURS OF TRAVEL AND A NICE NIGHTS REST AND A RETURN TRIP TO THE AIRPORT TO FILL OUT SOME PAPERWORK, I MET MY COMPANION, ELDER DE SOUZA, AND WE TOOK A 4 HOUR BUS RIDE TO GARANHUNS, A CITY ON THE INTERIOR OF THE MISSION [southwest of Recife]. HE IS A BRASILEIRO FROM SÃO PAULO AND DOES NOT SPEAK ANY ENGLISH (EXCEPT THE WORDS HEY MAN..., SORRY, I LOVE YOU, SISTER BROTHER MOTHER FATHER, AND THAT'S PRETTY MUCH IT). HE ASKED TOM, DID YOU KNOW ELDER T. SANTOS?  THAT GUY WAS IN BELEM IN 2003-5, AND MARRIED ELDER DE SOUZA'S MOM...ANYWAYS HE IS VERY PATIENT WITH ME AND WHENEVER PEOPLE TALK TO ME, I CAN~T UNDERSTAND. SO HE TURNS TO ME AND SAYS IT AGAIN, MUCH MORE SLOWLY AND SIMPLY, THEN I TRY TO PUT SOME WORDS TOGETHER TO ANSWER THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE HERE ARE VERY POOR, AND EVERYONE WE TEACH/VISIT HAS NO MODE OF TRANSPORTATION BESIDES TO WALK, WHICH IS FRUSTRATING BECAUSE OUR CHAPEL IS KINDA FAR FROM OUR AREA. SO ANYONE THAT COMES TO CHURCH HAS TO REALLY WANT TO, BECAUSE IT TAKES PROBABLY ABOUT 30-40 MINUTES TO WALK THERE. WE HAVE A FAMILY, WE REFER TO AS "NOSSA FAMILIA" WHICH IS 4 KIDS WHO ARE BAPTIZED (EXCEPT THE LITTLE 5 YEAR OLD) AND THE PARENTS, WHO WILL BE BAPTIZED IN 2 WEEKS AFTER WE GET THEM MARRIED. I DON~T KNOW WHY, BUT WHEN I RECEIVED MY CARD [money], I HAD WAY MORE MONEY THEN EVERYONE ELSE, AND THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TOLD ME I COULD KEEP IT AND USE IT WISELY. AND NOW I GET TO PAY FOR THEIR WEDDING WITH IT. PERFECT.
YUP, WE LIVE IN, LET~S SEE, THE 9TH PLACE I'VE LIVED IN MY MISSION, IN AN APARTMENT WITH 2 OTHER MISSIONARIES, ONE WHICH IS AMERICAN, AND CAN TRANSLATE THE PROBLEM-WORDS OF THE DAY WHEN WE GET HOME. HE~S ELDER STRICKLAND FROM WISCONSIN. THE APARTMENT IS NOT TOO SHABBY, BUT THE BATHROOM IS NASTY (CAN'T PUT TOILET PAPER IN THE TOILET) AND MOLD EVERYWHERE, BUT IT'S PRETTY AWESOMELY LOCATED. THE MIDDLE OF GARANHUNS, WITH CITY ALL OVER THE SURROUNDING HILLS. THE CITY IS PROBABLY ABOUT THE SIZE OF VENTURA OR SMALLER, AND IT HAS 3 WARDS AND 2 CHAPELS. WE HAVE A LITTLE WALK FROM OUR APARTMENT TO THE CHAPEL, AND A LONGER WALK IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION TO GET TO THE BOUNDARIES OF THE WARD IN WHICH WE SERVE. (WHAT? WHY DID I WRITE THAT?) [because he's learning correct English grammar by studying Portuguese ! :) ]
[I told him to be careful about keeping any mission rules about drinking the right kind of water...]  I'M BEING CAREFUL AND MY PAIZINHO (TRAINER) TAKES CARE OF ME. NO WORRIES.  WE GET LUNCH WITH THE MEMBERS EVERY DAY SO WE HARDLY HAVE TO BUY GROCERIES.

LIB'S IN TOWN? COOL SOUNDS FUN. THE BEACH THAT WE DROVE BY IN RECIFE LOOKS PRETTY SIMILAR TO THE BEACH IN VENTURA, BUT BLUER, WARMER, BETTER WAVES.  AND CATH, MY COMPANION THINKS YOU ARE VERY PRETTY. BUT HE ALREADY HAS A GIRLFRIEND, AND APPARENTLY THEY'VE PLANNED THAT WHEN HE GETS HOME IN 4 MONTHS, THEY WILL BE MARRIED 4 DAYS LATER...

[This last paragraph contains Tom's questions to Jon about food and drink, transportation, language...]
 Have you had any cold coconut water, coco gelado? NOT YET, I HAD SUCO DE GUARANHA OR SOMETHING, AND LOTS OF GUARANÁ, CUS-CUIS, BEANS, RICE, CARNE...    Ridden on a packed ônibus? OH YES. VERY VERY PACKED, PART OF THE WAY TO GARANHUNS, NÃO TINHA UM LUGAR PARA ME SENTAR OU TO STAND [I didn't have a place to sit or stand...] (COMO SE DIZ? [how to you say stand??]) How was Sao Paulo? JUST TRANSFERRED PLANES THERE. I bet you have progressed in the language since you first got there, even though it was only 4 days ago. YEAH, DEFINITELY I CAN SPEAK MUCH MORE WITH MY COMPANION. OR MAYBE HE IS JUST GETTING BETTER AT UNDERSTANDING BAD PORTUGUESE. Tell us about your ward/branch and area... city or rural?  Can you understand the people at all with their accents? THEY ALL HAVE AN ACCENT MORE LIKE PORTUGAL. WHEN THEY SAY BOM DIA, THEY SAY DIA LIKE ESPANOL, NOT LIKE "JEE-YA". AND THEY SAY NOIS EM VEZ DE NOS [em vez de = instead of] AND STUFF. SO I GUESS THAT'S THE TYPE OF PORTUGUESE I'LL BE SPEAKING. BUT APPARENTLY, IT IS DIFFERENT HERE IN THE INTERIOR THAN IT IS ON THE COAST OF OUR MISSION.  Tom wrote: When I got to belém i was like wow this is not the pronunciation they taught me in the MTC!  Cliche i know but its true.  Don't hesitate to ask your trainer what things mean, and keep a pocket dictionary in your bag always haha!  that helped me. THANKS, YEAH I DO BOTH OF THESE ALWAYS. I'M CONSTANTLY ASKING QUESTIONS TO HIM.
CIAO E OBRIGADO,
COM AMOR
ELDER HOOKE

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jon's last day in Birmingham (From Holzapfel's Mission Blog)

22 September 2010

Jon's last day in Alabama!  Click on the link to President and Sister Holzapfel's Alabama Birmingham Mission Blog. They have posted 7 photos of Jon's last day there, as well as wonderful captions. Many thanks to them for taking such good care of our Elder Hooke!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Birmingham Temple

9-20-10 Goodbye, Alabama!

9-20-10
YES FINALLY I GET TO LEAVE... BUT I LIKE THE PEOPLE HERE TOO AND I'M SAD TO LEAVE THEM. SO OVERALL IT ALL EVENS OUT INTO A WEIRD "NEUTRAL" FEELING.


[Did you get to talk to Elder Bednar?] NOT PERSONALLY BUT YES, HE CAME TO OUR MISSION AND SPOKE TO US. I HAD QUESTIONS TO ASK BUT HE NEVER CALLED ON ME... [He said] SOME GOOD STUFF, ANSWERED SOME INTERESTING QUESTIONS, AND ALSO SAID "I DON'T KNOW" TO A QUESTION SOMEONE ASKED. THAT TAUGHT ME A LOT. APOSTLES DON'T EVEN KNOW SOME STUFF I WONDER ABOUT. I'LL PROBABLY JUST WRITE A LETTER TO YOU ABOUT SOME OF THE STUFF ELDER BEDNAR TOLD US.

[Are you traveling with anyone else, or by yourself?] ALL BY MY LONESOME, JUST LIKE LAST TIME! NOBODY ELSE HAS RECEIVED VISAS RECENTLY SINCE THE KID WENT TO ARGENTINA A FEW WEEKS BACK.

[Em raced well in the girls “large school” race at the Ojai invitational on Saturday. I think her time was 21:12, and she was actually runner # 10 (# 5 for Ventura). Royal took the first 4 places. I helped at the chute again. I really like that job, even though it breaks my heart and makes me cry (YES, makes me CRY!) when those first racers come in and look like they are about to drop dead. But I like cheering them on. And in the last boys race, actually about 5 guys said “Thank you” to me!! COOL THAT IS NICE OF THEM HAHA. DID YOU REALLY CRY? JUST KNOW THAT THAT FEELING IS WHY PEOPLE RUN. IF THEY DIDN'T LIKE IT IN SOME WEIRD AND TWISTED WAY, THEY WOULDN'T RUN HARD. AND EM, DANG, 21:12 IS FAST FOR OJAI! YOU'RE PROBABLY ON TOP TEN FOR SOPHOMORES YEAH? WAY TO GO.

I'LL TRY TO SEND YOU ANUDDER [personal letter] TODAY! I'VE BEEN PONDERING THINGS EVERY MORNING INSTEAD OF WORKING OUT (CUZ WE RIDE LIKE THE WIND ON OUR BIKES ALL DAY TO KEEP US FIT).

THE WEEK WAS PRETTY PRODUCTIVE. WE FOUND SEVERAL VERY PROMISING INVESTIGATORS, TAUGHT CYNTHIA A COUPLE MORE TIMES AND SHE IS READING AND PRAYING EVERY DAY NOW, JUST NEEDS TO QUIT SMOKING! SHE ALSO DIDN'T MAKE IT TO CHURCH, WHICH AS IT TURNS OUT WAS PROBABLY A GOOD THING. NEVER THOUGHT I'D SAY THAT. SO YESTERDAY FOR CHURCH WE WERE SUPPOSED TO WATCH A BROADCAST OF STAKE CONFERENCE FROM OUR OWN WARD BUILDING. IT STARTED IT 10, BUT THE BROADCAST WAS NOT WORKING, AND MEN WERE UP THERE TRYING TO FIX IT AS THE CONGREGATION QUIETLY SAT UNTIL, NO JOKE, AFTER 11 O'CLOCK. WE HAD A BIG BLACK GUY WITH US AT CHURCH NAMED COURTNEY, FOR HIS FIRST TIME, SO WE JUST LEFT WITH HIM AND MET OTHER YOUNG MEN FOR HIM TO TALK TO (HE'S 13 BUT TWICE MY SIZE). HE ENDED UP ENJOYING IT BECAUSE AFTER AN HOUR THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE GAVE UP AND WE HAD A GOOD TESTIMONY MEETING FOLLOWED BY AN AMAZING POT LUCK. WHILE IT KINDA SAVED THE DAY, I STILL THINK IT MAY BE A GOOD THING CYNTHIA WASN'T THERE FOR THE FIRST HOUR BECAUSE SHE PROBABLY WOULDA LEFT, AS SOME OF THE MEMBERS DID. SO YEAH IT WAS SOMEWHAT OF A DISASTER, BUT COULDA BEEN WORSE. WE'RE ALSO TEACHING 3 16 YEAR OLD BLACK GUYS WHO LIVE RIGHT BY US. WE WERE ABLE TO GIVE THEM A CHURCH TOUR AND PLAY SOME B-BALL WITH THEM LAST WEDNESDAY, BUT THEY ALL WENT TO ONE OF THEIR B-DAY PARTIES ON SUNDAY INSTEAD OF CHURCH. BUT THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME. ONE OF THEM, BRANDON (OTHER 2 ARE WILL AND LJ) ASKS US THE DEEPEST QUESTIONS. THEN WHEN HE TRIES ANSWERING THEM, HE TELLS HOW HE FEELS AND 99% OF THE TIME HIS OWN OPINIONS THAT HE HAS DEVELOPED IN LIFE ARE EXACTLY WHAT WE BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS AND THAT NO OTHER CHURCHES BELIEVE. WE HAVE INVITED THEM ALL TO BE BAPTIZED, AND THEY PROBABLY WILL BE SOON. SO THAT IS ONE GOAL I HAD BEFORE I LEFT THAT IS DISAPPOINTING. BUT I'LL GET A PICTURE WITH THEM, THEN HAVE ELDER LARSEN SEND ME A PICTURE WHEN HE BAPTIZES THEM! ELDER BEDNAR'S VISIT WAS ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE ONE IN VENTURA. ALTHOUGH PEOPLE ASKED SOME DIFFERENT THINGS, THE SAME MAIN POINTS THAT HE TALKED ABOUT IN VENTURA, HE TALKED ABOUT HERE. IT WAS GOOD TO HEAR AGAIN.

I SUPPOSE I LOVE YOU GUYS, HAVE A NICE DAY, HAVE A GOOD SUMMER, ETC.

LOVE
ELDER HOOKE

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010--NEWS ALERT! Jon's going to BRAZIL!!

9-17-10
We got a phone call today from President Holzapfel--Jon's visa has arrived! He will be leaving for Brazil on Wednesday, September 22!! The timing of his going to Brazil is pretty cool: before Jon's mission, Elder Bednar, one of the 12 Apostles, came to Ventura and held a 3-hour question/answer session with all the full-time missionaries, as well as those missionaries who had received their calls. Since Jon had received his call, he was able to attend and had a marvelous experience! Tomorrow Elder Bednar is coming to the Alabama Birmingham mission and will hold a similar session for the missionaries there, so Jon will be able to learn from Elder Bednar AGAIN!

We're thrilled for Jon's upcoming "transfer!"
Jon with the mission office staff

Jon with President and Sister Holzapfel

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

9-13-10 Elder Hooke waxes philosophical

HELLO FAMILY.
I GOT A LETTER THAT YOU SENT ON SEPTEMBER 3RD WITH STAMPS AND STUFF, SO I'LL BE WRITING LATER TODAY.

MY COMPANION ELDER LARSEN AND I ARE STAYING IN HOOVER (IT IS TRANSFERS THIS THURSDAY) BUT ELDER DASILVA AND POH ARE BEING TRANSFERRED TOGETHER TO THE NEIGHBORING CITY OF BESSEMER. SO WE MAY BE THE ONLY ONES IN THE APARTMENT, OR MORE MIGHT MOVE IN, NOT SURE. THE CURRENT APS ARE BOTH BEING RELEASED AS AP'S AND GONNA BE TRAINERS FOR THEIR LAST TRANSFER, AND IN ORDER TO REPLACE THEM THEY'RE BRINGING IN 4 NEW ASSISTANTS. 2 OF THEM MIGHT POSSIBLY LIVE WITH US OR SOMETHING. THERE WILL BE 6 MISSIONARIES IN THE HOOVER WARD EVERY SUNDAY.

WE STILL CAN'T FIND PEOPLE [to teach], EXCEPT ONE OLDER BLACK WOMAN NAMED CYNTHIA WHO WE HAVE BEEN TEACHING. WE'D TAUGHT HER BEFORE BUT LAST WEEK WE HAD 2 SPIRITUAL LESSONS WITH HER AND SHE IS PLANNING ON BEING BAPTIZED ON OCT 2. BUT FIRST SHE HAS TO LIVE THE WORD OF WISDOM, AND UNDERSTAND WHY SHE NEEDS TO, BEFORE BAPTISM. SO PLEASE PRAY FOR HER. AND SHE WAS ABLE TO MAKE IT TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY, AND LIKED IT.

WE HAVEN'T SEEN THE PORTUGUESE STUDENTS AGAIN, JUST WORKED WITH A FEW MEMBERS OF THE WARD WHO ARE RETURNED MISSIONARIES FROM BRAZIL. WE PLAN ON GOING THIS WEEK TO GADSDEN [where the Portuguese students live].

THIS WEEK I HAVE LEARNED A TON. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I HAVE LEARNED THOUGH IS THIS: THE MORE YOU LEARN, THE MORE YOU REALIZE YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING.

BEING A MISSIONARY IS INDESCRIBABLE. I UNDERSTAND WHAT PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT WHEN THEY RETURN HOME AND CAN'T EXPLAIN THE MISSION. SORTA LIKE A ROLLER COASTER SPIRITUALLY, MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND EVERY WAY.

I STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THE SPIRIT WORKS, ALTHOUGH I HAVE REALIZED THAT MANY PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH ARE MUCH MORE IN TUNE WITH IT THAN I AM. CYNTHIA, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS MORE FAITH AND TRUST IN GOD THAN ALMOST ANYONE I'VE MET (YES, INCLUDING MORMONS.) AND SOMETIMES SHE'LL BRING UP CONCERNS DURING LESSONS AND WE JUST ASK HER QUESTIONS, AND SHE STARTS RESPONDING AND WHILE WE'RE DISCUSSING, SHE FIGURES IT OUT. AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ELDER LARSEN AND I BEING GOOD AT EXPLAINING ANYTHING, CUZ WE'RE NOT. SO I GUESS THAT MIGHT BE ONE WAY THE SPIRIT WORKS.

IF ALL THE MEMBERS OF OUR CHURCH WERE AS FAITHFUL AS MANY OF THE PEOPLE I'VE MET HERE, OUR CHURCH WOULD BE SO MUCH STRONGER, AND THE GROWTH WOULD BE EXPONENTIAL. BUT I'LL ADMIT I NEVER REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT IT BEFORE MY MISSION, AND MANY TIMES PEOPLE WON'T AFTER [the mission] JUST BECAUSE WE AS HUMANS[tend to be] LAZY AND SELFISH. THAT IS A BIG THING I HAVE LEARNED.

MAN I THOUGHT WHEN I CAME ON A MISSION IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL AND WORRY FREE, STAYING AWAY FROM THE TEMPORAL WORRIES AND STUFF. BUT I HAVE MORE WORRIES NOW THAN EVER BEFORE, AND THEY ARE NOT EVEN TEMPORAL. NOT SAYING IT ISN'T WONDERFUL, BECAUSE THIS IS HOW WE LEARN AND GROW, AND I RECOGNIZE THAT.

ELDER BEDNAR IS COMING THIS SATURDAY, I THINK. I HAVE A MILLION QUESTIONS TO ASK HIM. I'LL LET YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT NEXT WEEK.

THANKS FOR THE PRAYERS AND KEEP THEM COMING PLEASE! LOVE YOU BYE

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9-7-10 Meeting with President Holzapfel

9-7-10
YUP WE'RE ALL HEALTHY NOW! SO NOW I AM ASSIGNED ELDER LARSEN AS MY COMPANION, AND THE OTHER 2 ARE COMPANIONS, WE JUST LIVE TOGETHER. WE HAD A MEETING ON FRIDAY WITH PRESIDENT HOLZAPFEL ABOUT HOW OUR 4PANIONSHIP COULD BE MORE EFFECTIVE AND THAT WAS JUST ONE OF THE THINGS.

I ALSO GET TO DRIVE AROUND A 12-SEATER VAN WHEN WE NEED TO GO FAR NOW, SO WE DON'T WASTE AN HOUR ON BIKES. WE HAVE HAD SOME VERY LONG BIKE RIDES IN THE LAST WEEK. ELDER LARSEN IS A RUNNER TOO, AND SO WE RIDE EVERYWHERE FAST AND HARD. IT'S EXHAUSTING, BUT IT ALLOWS US TO "PROSELYTE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE" (THAT'S ONE OF PRES HOLZAPFEL'S MOTTOS). WE ARE SPENDING MUCH OF OUR TIME FINDING PEOPLE STILL. WE DON'T HAVE ANY PROGRESSING INVESTIGATORS SO WE ARE TRYING TO TEACH POTENTIAL INVESTIGATORS AND FIND NEW PEOPLE THAT ARE WILLING TO KEEP A SIMPLE COMMITMENT TO READ FOR A FEW MINUTES AND SAY A SINCERE PRAYER. I DIDN'T REALIZE BEFORE HOW HARD IT IS TO HELP THEM TO WANT TO DO THAT ON THEIR OWN. WE COULD GET THEM TO DO IT, BUT IT IS INSTILLING A DESIRE FOR THEMSELVES TO DO IT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO THAT IS HARD. WE'RE STRUGGLING NOW TO FIGURE OUT HOW THAT WORKS. APPARENTLY THAT IS WHAT TAKES PEOPLE THEIR WHOLE MISSION TO GET GOOD AT.

[I told him our summer in Ventura wasn't really summer--lots of fog!] WELL I GUESS THAT WAS A GOOD SUMMER FOR ME TO NOT BE IN VENTURA FOR. YEAH IT'S STILL PRETTY HOT. 90 DEGREES OR MORE FOR ABOUT 60 DAYS IN A ROW NOW I THINK. BUT IT IS NOT QUITE AS HUMID ANYMORE. I'VE TALKED TO PEOPLE HERE THAT HAVE LIVED HERE FOR A LIFETIME AND SAY THIS IS THE HOTTEST SUMMER THEY CAN REMEMBER.

EM THAT IS COOL YOU HAVE REYNOSA [chemistry teacher], AND DID YOU KNOW I HAD GROSSMAN [for Spanish]? ALEC AND I USED TO HAVE COMPETITIONS TO SEE WHO COULD CHEW MORE PIECES OF GUM AT THE SAME TIME WITHOUT HER NOTICING AND TAKING POINTS OF OUR GRADE. I STILL GOT AN A, SO I MUST HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD AT IT I GUESS.

LIBBY AND CHRIS THAT HAS GOT TO BE NICE LIVING IN CALIFORNIA AGAIN. I'M GLAD YOU ARE ENJOYING FAT TONY [a book]. AND NICE STATIONERY, LIB.

CATH- I SENT YOU A LETTER AND YOU DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO ADD TO THE LETTER TO ME? JUST KIDDING ITS ALL GOOD. AND WHEN AM I GONNA GET LETTERS FROM THE SINGLES WARD FHE?

TOM- YES WE'RE SEARCHING FOR SINCERE INVESTIGATORS BUT STILL DON'T KNOW IF I'VE MET ANY YET. ARE YOU DATING ANYBODY AT ALL? THAT'S NICE YOU LIVE IN A QUASI HOUSE NOW.

[Were you and your companions able to teach the Portuguese students again?] THEY ARE STILL IN AMERICA, AND WE DROVE UP TO GADSDEN AGAIN FRIDAY, BUT BECAUSE OF SOME UNFORESEEN OBSTACLE WE ONLY TAUGHT ONE GIRL. BUT IT WAS A REALLY GOOD LESSON AND WE'RE HOPING TO BE ABLE TO FOLLOW UP WITH HER AND THE ONES FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK SOON. NOW THAT WE CAN DRIVE THE VAN WE'LL PROBABLY BE ABLE TO GO UP THERE ABOUT EVERY WEEK. THEY ARE IN AMERICA FOR LONGER THAN I WILL BE, HOPEFULLY.

[Tell us a little bit more about each of your companions] POH-SPENT $65 DOLLARS ON HIS PERSONAL GROCERIES FOR THE WEEK; DASILVA- HE'S TOM'S AGE AND HIS DAD'S BRAZILIAN, BUT HE'S GOING TO PORTUGAL; LARSEN- NICE GUY. WE WORK HARD TOGETHER BUT BOTH LACK EXPERIENCE (OBVIOUSLY).

SOMETIMES I AM VERY FRUSTRATED WITH THE WORK HERE, BUT WHEN I REALIZE THAT I AM DOING WHAT I CAN, AT LEAST I CAN BE CONTENT WITH THE SITUATION BECAUSE BEING ANGRY OR FRUSTRATED DOESN'T DO ANYTHING.

WE WERE ABOUT TO LEAVE THIS BUILDING ON SUNDAY BUT WE DECIDED TO KNOCK A COUPLE MORE DOORS AND THE LAST ONE, A MAN WALKED OUT AND STARTED TALKING TO US ABOUT HOW WE ARE THERE TO HELP HIS LIFE AND HE KNOWS GOD SENT US. CUZ HE'S AN ALCOHOLIC AND KNOWS THAT THE ONLY WAY HE CAN RIGHT HIS LIFE IS THROUGH GOD. STILL HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO TALK TO HIM AGAIN THOUGH.

BYE. LOVE YA

Monday, August 30, 2010

8-30-10 Elder Winslow & Elder Hooke at MTC


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8-30-10 Hoover, working hard, Portuguese lessons, sickness

[Jon emailed some photos home last week--I have updated previous blogs with more photos. These particular photos, however, came from President Holzapfel's blog: Jon with Elder DaSilva and boys from their assigned ward--Sam & Isaiah]



YEAH THOSE [photos] WERE BASICALLY FROM MY WHOLE MISSION SO FAR. I HAVEN'T TAKEN ANY SINCE LAST WEEK ANYWAYS, SO NONE TODAY!

THE WEEK HAS BEEN HARD. I'M STILL IN HOOVER LIVING WITH THE THREE NEW ELDERS, AND IT IS ALMOST AS IF WE OPENED A NEW AREA TOGETHER, THE 4 OF US WHO HAVE NO EXPERIENCE. THE ASSISTANTS (THEY ARE IN THE SAME AREA) HAVE THEIR OWN INVESTIGATORS AND APPOINTMENTS ALL THE TIME BUT WE HAVE SPENT ALMOST THE ENTIRE WEEK KNOCKING DOORS AND TRYING TO FIND PEOPLE TO TEACH. WE HAVE TAUGHT LOTS AND LOTS OF LESSONS OUT ON DOORSTEPS, BUT I CAN ONLY THINK OF A COUPLE INVESTIGATORS WHO HAS EVEN LET US COME IN IN THE LAST WEEK.
WE HAVE MET SOME AWESOME PEOPLE, AND HOPEFULLY MANY OF THEM WILL HAVE READ AND PRAYED WHEN WE SEE THEM NEXT. BUT AS FAR AS ATTENDING CHURCH, NONE CAME. WE HAD SEVERAL PEOPLE THAT PLANNED ON IT AND WHEN WE CALLED THEM AFTER, THEY HAD DECENT EXCUSES, BUT IT WAS STILL REALLY DISAPPOINTING. WE'RE TRYING TO PUT IT ALL IN THE LORD'S HANDS, AND WHEN WE HAVE NOTHING PLANNED, WE JUST SAY A PRAYER THAT WE WILL BE LED TO PEOPLE WHO WILL RECEIVE THE GOSPEL THEN START PEDALING OUR BIKES AND SEE WHERE WE END UP. THERE HAVE BEEN ANSWERS TO PRAYERS, BUT I'M NOT SURE IF WE'VE FOUND ANY PEOPLE WHO ONLY DON'T HAVE THE GOSPEL BECAUSE "THEY KNOW NOT WHERE TO FIND IT." BUT ANYWAYS WE'RE WORKING REALLY HARD.

THERE WAS ONE COOL THING THAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK WHICH GETS ME VERY EXCITED TO GO TO BRAZIL! ON WEDNESDAY MY 3 COMPS AND I WENT UP TO GADSDEN BECAUSE WE HAD MET A GIRL FROM THERE THAT HAS BRAZILIAN FRIENDS. THEY ARE ON AN EXCHANGE PROGRAM TO LEARN ENGLISH BUT THEY WERE ALL MORE THAN HAPPY TO LET US TEACH THEM IN PORTUGUESE. WE TAUGHT 4 DIFFERENT PORTUGUESE LESSONS (SPLIT UP 2 BY 2) AND THEY WERE ALL VERY HUMBLE AND OPEN. AND MEGAN, THEIR FRIEND, SAT IN AND HELPED US TEACH THE LESSONS IN SOME COLLEGE DORMS. AND SO YOU KNOW HOW WE DIDN'T GET ANYBODY TO OUR WARD AFTER A WEEK OF PROSELYTING? WELL OUT OF 5 PEOPLE TAUGHT, 3 WENT TO CHURCH WITH MEGAN IN HER WARD YESTERDAY. SO I GUESS THAT IS GOOD, BUT GADSDEN IS FAR AND WE DON'T KNOW IF WE WILL BE ABLE TO TEACH THEM AGAIN.

YEAH MOM I GOT YOUR POST CARD, THANKS. AND YOU CAN TELL PEOPLE THAT MY POLICY IS I WRITE THEM WHEN I RECEIVE SOMETHING FROM THEM. SO FAR I THINK I HAVE ALWAYS DONE THAT (EXCEPT FOR YOU MOM BUT THE EMAIL COUNTS FOR THOSE:)

LET'S SEE, I'VE BEEN PRETTY SICK THE LAST COUPLE DAYS WITH A MEGA SOAR THROAT AND A COLD NOW. ON SATURDAY MORNING I LITERALLY COULD NOT MAKE A SOUND WITH MY VOCAL CHORDS (UNLESS I YELLED A LOW F#) SO I STOOD AT THE DOORS WHILE ELDER LARSEN TAUGHT AND STUFF. SOMETIMES I'D WHISPER SOMETHING IF I FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT. HE'S DOING GOOD THOUGH. IT'S BEEN RAINING A LOT, SO THAT MAKES TRACTING EVEN NICER. NO REALLY IT IS NICER CUZ AT LEAST YOUR SOAKED IN WATER NOT SWEAT.

I GOTTA GO NOW TO SEND MY LETTER TO PRES HOLZAPFEL! OH BTW ELDER LYNN ROBBINS CAME AND TOURED THE MISSION. HE SPOKE TO US ALL AND IT WAS UPLIFTING. I ALSO TALKED TO HIM ABOUT WHEN HE CAME WITH ELDER BEDNAR [TO VENTURA] AND TURNS OUT ELDER BEDNAR IS COMING TO THIS MISSION AND DOING THE SAME THING IN A COUPLE WEEKS! BYE FAMILY


LOVE ELDER HOOKE

8-23-10 4th area in a month (Hoover)! Three new comps!

8-23-10
[OUR INVESTIGATOR] TERESA IS DOING VERY WELL. SOME OF HER FAMILY IS NOT PARTICULARLY HAPPY SHE'S BEEN MEETING WITH US A LOT, BUT ON HER BIRTHDAY NEXT WEEK SHE IS INVITING ALL HER FAMILY OVER FOR DINNER. AND THE MISSIONARIES AS WELL! IT WILL BE AWESOME. YEP SHE CAME TO CHURCH AND LIKED IT. SOME BIG NEWS FOR ME THOUGH: ON WEDNESDAY WHILE WE WERE AT HER HOUSE I GOT A CALL FROM PRESIDENT HOLZAPFEL SAYING THAT 3 MORE BRAZILIAN-VISA-WAITERS WOULD ARRIVE IN BIRMINGHAM THE NEXT DAY. I WOULD LEAVE TO A DIFFERENT AREA (HOOVER) AND LIVE WITH ALL THREE AS THE SENIOR COMPANION ALREADY. [Lori thinks that Elder Poh is 3rd from back left; Elder DaSilva is center back right; and perhaps Elder Larsen is the blond near Jon?? Got this photo from a blog Jon's mission president does at http://alabamamissionupdate.blogspot.com/ ] AND SO I GOT OFF THE PHONE AND LEFT THE NEXT MORNING. NOW I LIVE IN HOOVER WITH 3 BRAND NEW ELDERS, NO BIKES OR CARS, NONE OF US KNOW THE AREA, AND AN OLD AREA BOOK FROM SISTERS WHO LEFT THE AREA A MONTH AGO. NOT TO MENTION I HAVE ONLY 4 WEEKS HERE AND AM STILL GETTING THE HANG OF IT. LUCKILY, THE ASSISTANTS WORK IN HOOVER AS WELL SO THEY HAVE BEEN HELPING US WITH RIDES TO PLACES AND A FEW PEOPLE TO TEACH. SO IT'S BEEN A LITTLE STRESSFUL NOW. MY 3 NEW COMPANIONS ARE ELDER LARSEN FROM WEST JORDAN UTAH (WE GO RUNNING EVERY MORNING AND HE CAN KEEP UP! ITS NICE), ELDER ETHAN POH, WHO I KNEW I RECOGNIZED FROM SOMEWHERE. TURNS OUT HE'S FROM LAURYN'S HOME WARD IN CLOVIS. AND ELDER DASILVA FROM NORTH CAROLINA. THEY'RE NICE GUYS, AND WE HAVE THE WILLPOWER TO BE VERY PRODUCTIVE, BUT THE KNOWLEDGE IS COMING SLOWLY...

Any new investigators? I'VE DEFINITELY TAUGHT SOME NEW PEOPLE BUT I DON'T KNOW WHO WILL ACTUALLY BE PROGRESSING. EVEN STARTED TEACHING A MUSLIM GUY FROM INDIA AND WE GOT HIM A HINDI BOOK OF MORMON. LOTS OF BLACK PEOPLE. AND SOME NICE OLD WHITE MAN AND HIS SON AS WELL.

Elder Larsen, Jon, Elder da Silva, Elder Poh
I'm glad you have a great new ward mission leader! It is really a great thing when the ward mission leader actually helps the missionaries be better and teaches them important things. IT WAS NICE [having the new ward mission leader in Oak Mountain] FOR THE 4 DAYS IT LASTED... THERE IS NO WARD MISSION LEADER IN THE HOOVER WARD. BUT THE WARD IS HELPFUL AS FAR AS I CAN TELL WHEN IT COMES TO GOING ON EXCHANGES AND REFERRING THEIR FRIENDS FOR US TO TEACH.


How's the weather? Still so hot and humid? (No, you had not told us about the lightning strike during basketball at the Church...yikes!) STILL HOT AND HUMID. AND I HAVE A FEELING I WILL BE BIKING A LOT HERE, SO IT SHOULD BE FUN!

What have you learned this week?
JUST TRY AS HARD AS I CAN AND NOT WORRY IF I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. CUZ THERE'S NOTHING ELSE I CAN DO SO WORRYING DOES NOT HELP. AND SEEING OTHERS RECOGNIZE THE SPIRIT ALWAYS HELPS ME TO KNOW THE TRUTH OF OUR MESSAGE.

Thank you for writing such entertaining and great emails! WELL THEY WILL PROBABLY GET SHORTER WHEN I'M NOT BEING THROWN INTO A NEW AREA EVERY WEEK! [ :) ] THANKS FOR THE PRAYERS AND HAVE A GOOD WEEK!

LOVE
Elder Hooke

[Note from Lori: In three months, Jon has had 9 companions--2 in Provo and 7 in Birmingham. He has served in 4 different areas his first month in Alabama!]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

8-16-10 Sweating a Gallon/ Lightning Strikes Church

SO FIRST, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU GUYS HAD AN AWESOME WEEK. CONGRATS TOM AND CHRIS ON YOUR GRADUATION! AND DAD I HOPE WORK WASN'T TOO MISERABLE TODAY AFTER TWO WEEKS OFF! SOUNDS LIKE BIG SUR WAS AWESOME AS WELL. CONGRATS TO TY TOO FOR BEING ENGAGED NOW. THANKS FOR TELLING ME ABOUT THE WEEK IN UTAH, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU PACKED A LOT OF STUFF IN ONE WEEK. AND MOM YOU'RE IN IDAHO NOW? SWEET. AND EM'S IN MAMMOTH? IF SHE EVER CALLS TELL HER THAT IF SHE RUNS UNDER 13 MINUTES FOR THE "LIFE HILL" I'LL GIVE HER 25 CENTS.

WE HAVE SOME AWESOME INVESTIGATORS WE'RE TEACHING AND ALSO STILL SPENDING TIME TRYING TO FIND PEOPLE. ON FRIDAY WE WENT TO MONTEVALLO (THERE IS A LITTLE OLD UNIVERSITY THERE) AND RODE BIKES ALL OVER. I LITERALLY PROBABLY SWEAT LIKE A GALLON AND DEFINITELY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE IN MY LIFE. IT WAS WEIRD, I WASN'T BREATHING HARD OR ANYTHING IT WAS JUST SO HOT AND RIDICULOUSLY HUMID. THEN SUDDENLY THERE WAS A THUNDERSTORM WHICH FELT NICE FOR THE FIRST FEW SECONDS... BUT ANYWAYS WE MUST HAVE LOOKED SO PATHETICALLY TRASHY WHILE KNOCKING ON DOORS.

SPEAKING OF THUNDERSTORMS, OUR CHURCH BUILDING GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING A FEW WEEKS AGO (DID I ALREADY TELL YOU THIS?) WHILE WE WERE PLAYING B-BALL. AND ALL THE SPEAKERS MADE A LOUD NOISE AND SPARKS FLEW OUT OF THEM--IT WAS INTERESTING. TORNADO SEASON IS STARTING SO I'M HOPING TO SEE ONE.

ANYWAYS IT'S GOING WELL, I SUPPOSE. OAK MOUNTAIN [current area] IS TINY BUT WE DON'T REALLY SPEND TIME IN OAK MOUNTAIN, WE'RE IN ALABASTER AND HELENA WHICH ARE PRETTY CLOSE TO B'HAM. NOT SURE IF IT IS CONSIDERED A SUBURB OR NOT, BUT PROBABLY LIKE 45 MINUTES AWAY [from Birmingham].

WELL WE ARE TEACHING A LADY NAMED TERESA WHO IS PROGRESSING REALLY WELL. WHEN WE SHOWED UP AT HER HOUSE ON SATURDAY SHE HAD BEEN READING THE BOOK OF MORMON ALL MORNING AND HAD A LIST OF QUESTIONS. SHE IS A REALLY COOL LADY. NOW WHEN SHE GAINS A TESTIMONY ABOUT THE WORD OF WISDOM WE'LL BE GOOD. AND SHE CAME AND SAT WITH US AT CHURCH. ALONG WITH ANOTHER INVESTIGATOR, AARON, AN EX JEHOVAH WITNESS WHO KNOWS MORE ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON THAN I DO. ON A SIDE NOTE, WHENEVER YOU GIVE A TALK OR A LESSON IN CHURCH, REALIZE THAT THERE IS LIKELY AN INVESTIGATOR THERE WHO MIGHT THINK CERTAIN THINGS YOU SAY ARE WEIRD. WE HAD SOME INTERESTING SPEAKERS SUNDAY. AND I'M SURE SOME FAST AND TESTIMONY MEETINGS WILL GET A LOT [more interesting].

WE TAUGHT A 12-YR-OLD GIRL WHO'S FAMILY IS LESS ACTIVE BUT THEY WANNA START COMING BACK, AND SHE WILL PROBABLY CHOOSE TO BE BAPTIZED SOON. I'M SURPRISED AT THE NUMBER OF LESS ACTIVES THAT WE VISIT THAT STILL HAVE TESTIMONIES, AND MANY OF THE MEN EVEN WENT ON MISSIONS BUT NOW DON'T GO TO CHURCH.

OUR WARD MISSION LEADER IS AWESOME. HE IS SOO SMART AND KNOWS THE ANSWERS TO ANY QUESTION THAT ANTI-MORMON LITERATURE CAN TELL PEOPLE. AND HE HELPS US TEACH SMART PEOPLE WITH TOUGH QUESTIONS AND STUFF SO I'M REALLY EXCITED TO HAVE HIM AS OUR WARD MISSION LEADER. WE'RE GONNA WORK REALLY HARD TO MAKE "EVERY MEMBER A MISSIONARY."

MY COMPANION ELDER CHUGG IS FROM WEST HAVEN UTAH, HE'S BEEN OUT HERE FOR ALMOST A YEAR.

I'M LEARNING A LOT OF STUFF ABOUT CHURCH HISTORY AND THE BOOK OF MORMON THAT I'VE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF. I'VE LEARNED THAT RECOGNIZING THE SPIRIT IS NOT VERY EASY, BUT NECESSARY FOR BOTH MISSIONARIES AND INVESTIGATORS. AND PEOPLE ARE ALL USUALLY NICE, BUT NOT VERY OPEN MINDED HERE AT ALL COMPARED TO CALIFORNIA.

LOVE YOU ALL TOO, AND GLAD YOU COULD WRAP UP THE SUMMER WITH LOTSA FUN STUFF. WELLP, BYE.