Elder Hopper in México

México Saltillo LDS Mission

But above all, I think I learned the most about myself

Mission Picture by David Winters 2
(photo by David Winters)
Semana del 13 de marzo de 2017
Well my friends I made my final good-byes yesterday afternoon and this much anticipated moment has finally arrived, although now I wish it wouldn’t. I must say sorry for not having written in a good couple months. Let me give a brief status update as to how my last months on the mission went: In the year of 2017, I baptized 0 people, but I invited as many people as I could to come unto Christ. I’ve always said it and I’ll restate it now that the area of San Buenaventura was the hardest of my entire mission in the way of baptisms and just the work in general. In my 7 months in the little town, I was able to baptize 2 people, 2 people who became my best friends and true co-disciples of Christ. I had 3 companions in this area: Elder Daniel Vílchez Díaz, Elder Samuel Shaner, and Elder Devin Black. I trained twice and led a district for 3 of my 5 transfers here. I also battled many distractions here, like trunkiness and disobedience. But I’ve made many lasting friends here in this area, for which I am positive I will return.
I’m so grateful for this incredible mission experience. It felt like 2 years, contrary my belief that time would “fly by.” On the other hand, I’m glad I didn’t take the auto-pilot on the mission. These 2 years are full of lasting memories, laughs, sweet moments, and above all, friendships gained. There are moments when I wish these people would adopt me as part of them. I love to be in México! But I also can’t wait to drink water from the tap without getting diarrhea, so there’s that. I’ll be home in 2 days, a prospect which both excites me and makes me nervous. I hope the mission has properly prepared me to be my own agent, to make good decisions not because people expect me to, but because that’s the right thing to do. I’m so thankful for everything I’ve learned during my time out here. For learning how to manage my time, how to step outside of my bubble and talk to strangers, how to open my mouth in a foreign language, how to get along with, in my opinion, a spectrum of personalities, how to teach the Gospel the Lord’s way, how to commit people to choose the right, how to feel the soft impressions of the Holy Spirit, how to make flour tortillas. But above all, I think I learned the most about myself. I know what I’m capable of. I know my weaknesses. I have a desire to correct the things I perhaps didn’t do so well in the mission when I am home. I also know my strengths. I was able to develop these strengths and make them talents. I was also able to make some weaknesses talents of mine. That is one of the Lord’s promises in Ether 12:27.
I’ll leave y’all with my testimony that I know, whereas once I had a hunch, that this is the Lord’s work. It’s not mine or my comp’s or President Cahoon’s or even President Monson’s. It’s the Lord’s work and for 2 years I was on his errand. My father reminded me of that before sending me on the airplane by myself. I lie… that felt like a week ago. I can’t wait to see my family. So I know this is the Lord’s work and that he leads it and guides us as missionaries in many ways. I know this is his church as well. Joseph Smith was his prophet, as is Thomas S. Monson today. I know that the ordinance of baptism is a necessary step to entering the Kingdom of God. I thank God for having been able to edify this kingdom during my short time in my 2nd home. I pray for these people every day, as I’ve prayed for you all every day of my mission. Thank you for writing me, for cheering me on, and especially for your faith and prayers. See you in 2! (days)
Signing off,
With love
Élder Eduardo Hópper

 

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From Heros to Bandits–Elder Shaner’s version…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFrom Heros to Bandits

Hello Family!

Suffice it to say that I had an exciting week. Especially an exciting Saturday. With that I’ll tell you a little more about the rest of the week.
We had a fun day bowling today! I’ll send you pictures later. We went to Monclova and there with Elder Pedro and Elder Villatoro had a fun bowling game. I almost won! It came down to the last wire, but Elder Pedro won. He scored 113 and I got 112.
On Saturday we started off going to an investigators house, but on the way a lady started yelling at us to help her. We approached her house and there saw a man trying to break in to their locked car, this man was the lady’s husband I believe, and he was doing so with much urgency. The car was on and I thought,  “Oh, they locked the keys in the car with the car on, that might be bad for the car when it runs out of gas, I dont know why they are so frantic though”. Then, I saw the baby. Crying inside the car and sweating, probably only a year and a couple months old. But, us with the help of another lady, eventually got a car antenae in the car an poked a window button to roll down. They got the baby out and shook our hands. We left to teach the investigator.
That was the hero part.
Later in the day turned into “bandits” at least in the eyes of the police. We were walking past the main plaza when my shoulder bonked a light meter, I didn’t think anything of it, until we heard a pop and a shatter behing us. It so happened that a police officer was right there. He got out carrying his rifle and asked what happened. Eventually, we ended up getting in his patrol car, but we were very civil the whole time. He did get a little pointy with his rifle at one point when I realized he wanted me to get in. I just hesitated, not believing what was happening.
Well, know that we got to the police station under the understanding that he might of incarcerated us and charged us $5000 pesos. But, with the help of some members that showed up and me acting really scared. We got out with a good relationship with the police and not having served any jail time or being charged with any amount of money, truly a miracle wrought by God’s power to protect his missionaries, or that’s how I see it.
Well, I’ll send you picures later today.
I’ll be on for about another hour.
LOVE YOU! More that all the little pieces of glasses that spread when the meter dropped, that’s quite a few!
Elder Samuel Shaner112916-from-elder-shanerSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

…um, we were arrested

Semana del 28 de noviembre de 2016SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve formally written an update. And wow we’ve had a great time lately! Well what happened this week…. um, we were arrested. It’s a long story but let’s just say the police are getting creative in finding ways to force money out of people at the end of the year. So, while walking to a lunch appointment, carrying a bunch of recently bought bread, my dear companion, Elder Shaner, brushed into an electricity meter that was sticking out, you know, those ones with the thick glass bulbs. They have those in the US verdad? Well it wasn’t really his fault, since the sidewalk is so narrow and keeping off the street gets complicated when there’s two way pedestrian traffic or any impediment on the ground. In this case, we had to squeeze one by one to safely travel on the sidewalk, since there was a light meter on the building side and a light post on the street side. But just to our luck, the light meter, which definitely wasn’t well placed, fell off and shattered all over, making a loud popping noise. And just to our luck, a nice, friendly police officer had witnessed the whole scene, so approaching us with his friendly little rifle he starts to politely interrogate us as to who we were and what had happened. Oh I forgot to mention this was the light meter of the town hall of San Buena. So like the most important light meter in the city, I guess.

Anyway the officer starts treating my poor companion how one would imagine Trump would treat a mexican, telling him to pick the broken shards of light meter and put them in his police truck, and then he got a little pointy with his rifle, telling my comp to get in the car as well. At this point, he seemed a little panicked for sure. Although I didn’t have to accompany him, as the officer reminded me, I figured I would also take a trip “down town” to fix this situation. During the ride, the cop started to threaten us about what we would have to pay for damaging public property. After making a couple phone calls to Saltillo, I decided the best way to get out of the situation was to play as innocent as possible. The only thing I could think of doing was tell my comp to fake cry. At that point, I didn’t realize Elder Shaner is probably the best actor I’ve ever seen. For probably 45 minutes straight, he kept a steady stream of tears flowing down his face, causing every single officer involved to feel awful and regret ever having treated us poorly. It was hilarious! So thanks to my comp, the prayers of the mission president, President Cahoon, and his wife, and the help of our “mom” in San Buena, Sister Alfaro, we were freed without suffering any damage or monetary detriment. And above all, we thank God for having allowed us to both live that experience and escape it without anything happening. The police are much more corrupt here than in the US. That’s automatically evident. It’s also evident that God’s hand plays a role in our lives and protects his missionaries. That morning, I had felt impressed to specifically ask for protection in our parting  prayer. Crazy huh? We saw both of the main officers involved today! They say hi. San Buena is really a small town. Think Nacho Libre.

Other news from this week.. hm earlier that same day we helped a woman break through her car by prying it open enough to push the window button down. Interestingly, her car was on and apparently “shut by itself” with her baby girl inside. She was really desperate during the whole incident so it was good to be of help.

We got the girl we baptized the previous week confirmed yesterday! She said she’s already seen changes in her life since her baptism! Her story is really amazing and she’s probably my strongest convert yet. Maybe it’s not good to brag, but I’m proud of all my converts, especially her 🙂

I’m slowly accepting that I probably won’t finish the mission here in San Buena, unfortunately. It’s been a crazy ride, but I’ll have to accept the possibility of not being with Elder Shaner for the next transfer 😦

Keep writing me! love y’all!

Elder Eddie HopperSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Elders

Training is going well with Elder Shaner. He’s a much better missionary than I!


Semana del 24 de octubre de 2016
Sorry for not updating in so much time!
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Training is going well with Elder Shaner. He’s a much better missionary than I! very dedicated. Um.. we’ve had some pretty successful weeks but no baptisms in San Buena yet! We’ll get there though!
Miss everyone! keep writing me!
Eddie

I’ve felt so fulfilled by the gospel lately!

Semana del 3 de octubre de 2016
So it’s been a great first week in training with Elder Shaner! He’s an incredible missionary with a sweet spirit and ganas to work! I’m so lucky I got him as my “son” on the mission! He’s from Boise, Idaho and he’s really cool. He already has Spanish practice with 5 years of study with a Spanish woman (vale tío) but I tell him he’ll end up talking like a norteño in no time.
So what’s happened? Oh yeah the great monarch butterfly migration has passed San Buena. I imagine the insects are almost to Michoacán by now.
I’ve felt so fulfilled by the gospel lately! I guess General Conference makes me feel this way usually. I’m starting to enjoy receiving revelation on behalf of my investigators instead of myself in personal study. It’s really gratifying. And I enjoy learning about the missionary purpose again as I have to communicate all my ideas to my little escuincle. Some amazing things happened this week, but I’ll share that for later!
Love y’all!
Eddie

a blistering hell…the house just cooks under the sun all day, incubating its inhabitants 24/7

semana del 19 de septiembre
Well the end of the month and transfers are approaching, but it’s still not getting cooler. at all. it’s a blistering hell out here. like you know that feeling when you get into a car that’s been parked in the sun all day and you body goes into a panic-sweat mode? imagine that’s how it feels outside. and it feels worse indoors, cause people build their houses out of pure cinderblock, so the house just cooks under the sun all day, incubating its inhabitants 24/7. And I think I’m gonna stay in this area til the end of my mission, cause our new mission president is really focusing on having us build the areas where we’re sent, from 4 to 6 transfers long!
We got to do interchanges with the president when we had our zone conference! It was pretty crazy. It’s been a good change as well! I’m still working hard I promise!
Love y’all!
Eddie
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Learning a language is like opening a floodgate of understanding and love.

10/3/2016
An excerpt from a letter Eddie wrote to me (Cindy), used with his permission:
it’s been an incredible blessing being able to learn spanish. at first, i think i had a vague love for these people and a desire to help them, perhaps because I felt bad for their situation or I looked down on them. i knew the gospel was the key, but communicating was frustrating. I wanted to embrace people and express my love for them, but I couldn’t at first! but learning a language is literally like opening a floodgate of understanding and love. with every new spanish principle I learn, or every new slang word or idiom, i feel myself connecting more and more with this people. where once i loved latin people, I now love each person I meet as a person. that’s been an amazing benefit in the mission.

San Buena becomes Venice, Italy when it rains…wihtout the benefit of the góndolas

semana del 22 de agosto de 2016SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Well one week down here in Sanbuenaventura, Coahuila, or San Güena, as they say here. This is a small town, smaller than Múzquiz, outside of Monclova, the second biggest city in the mission. The area itself is really good. And this time I’m sure they’ve moved me to the biggest area in the mission! Besides San Buena, this area includes several small towns, including, but not limited to Diana Laura, 8 de enero, Nadadores, La Madrid, and Cuatro Ciénagas, Coahuila. We’re frequently taking buses to get to different parts. It’s pretty fun.
So I had an interesting first Sunday, waking up with lots of rain. We had planned to pass by some investigators to take them to church with us, so we left early to make our trek to their house in the rain. Little did I know that San Buena becomes Venice, Italy when it rains even a little bit, wihtout the benefit of the góndolas of course, and the people here have a habit of hiding in their homes all day when it gets wet. So after sloshing our way to their house, we were disappointed to have them not come out. At this point, there was still an hour before church started, and we were assigned to give talks at 10:00 pm the previous night, so we decided to stop by a member’s house to dry off before arriving at church. 15 minutes before the meeting, we decide to hop in their car, but then we realized it was hopelessly stuck in the mud. So after fruitlessly trying to push the vehicle out of the mud, we decided the best option was to walk to church in the improvised canals of San Buena. We finally arrived 30 minutes late to a meeting with about 12 other people and the branch president calls me to give my talk. I take my sopping self to the front and give a short talk about repentance and baptism, yelling at the congregation (there’s no microphone, it’s amazing). So this is San Buena!
Keep writing to me! Love yall!
Elder Hopper

Headed to Monclova…my luck is turning

semana del 15 de agosto de 2016
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Taba llueve llueve toda la semana! And now they’re sending me to another area, despite my pleas to the mission offices that they keep me here. Elder Faraimo is replacing me as district leader here and he’s training, which is without surprise. It’s just strange cause I’ve never seen a junior comp replace his senior til now. Se la bañaron neta.
What else happened? Oh yeah, La Sonora Dinamita came to Múzquiz! We got some pictures with them, but because of the rain, they weren’t able to perform 😦
Well I gotta go to get on a bus to Nueva Rosita right now, and then I’m headed to Monclova tomorrow. Ugh my luck keeps getting worse haha but I’m trying to stay positive! 7 more months! Love y’all! Les quiero a todos!
Elder Eddie Hopper
Update: my new comp is Elder Vílchez, from Perú! I love that kid. I had several opportunities to do divisions with him in Acuña, and he’s amazing. So my luck is turning. My new area is San Buenaventura, in Monclova. Well the stake is Monclova, but I feel like the area is gonna be in San Buena, Coahuila. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES