Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 27, 2015

Today we're going to a chocolate factory!!! (This is why our Pday is on Tuesday instead of Monday.) Like a real one!!! It has a chocolate waterfall and everything. I love chocolate so much it's just something that has always made my day here in Norway.

It's already getting down to 0 celsius in the mornings and frost everywhere. It's not even Halloween, are you kidding me?? But I do like the cold so I don't feel too bad that I'm missing out on the sun. Norwegians do love their tanning salons and perfectly sculpted eyebrows.

Our investigator is doing great. He's really moving forward and he'll be ready for November 14th. For some of your questions, he is the only one of his family. They were all killed or died before he was the age of 10. He doesn't really have a recollection of them. He doesn't have a last name because he doesn't remember it and there is no one in his family surviving to be able to figure it out. Yeah, I know, and you thought you had a bad day. He's awesome and his prayers are so intricate, we need to pray like that for sure.

Talking to crazy people as usual and a guy was like "I just had an operation" and proceeded to lift up and show me his scar and bandages. Pretty gross and cool all at the same time. He figured I wasn't from Norway and then when I told him USA he continued on about his partying days in Miami Beach and the types of women down there. This dude is like 55 and telling me about his American partying days while recovering from an appendectomy or something. Stuff like that makes the days.

One of my contacting techniques is going up to people with headphones in and asking what they are listening to, and they tell you every time. I mean who wouldn't, everyone thinks they listen to the best music. I started talking to this one guy about rap and he proceeded to put his headphone in my ear. It was awesome.

Another way is I asked this kid what he was reading and he was studying English. Perfect because I'm American, I responded proudly. He then took out his computer and was having me help him with his homework. Before he asked me if I had seen the new Star Wars trailer and I said no, and he played it. Unfortunately after one minute he insisted we keep working on his homework, so I helped him.

Everything is great. We're actually getting another companion on Wednesday, so that will be fun.

Cold, rainy, beautiful, and tough, but that's all good stuff.

Love, J

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19, 2015

Norway is actually known as more reserved than Sweden but it just depends. Both are pretty closed off - they're attractive, rich and in good shape, why would they want to talk to anyone else? Norway uses the Krone for money, only in Norway.

So we actually have a baptismal date. Ummm pretty cool. November 14th, he's a man from Sierra Leone and he's way open to everything and it's awesome. So now we're just working with him and trying to get him ready before then, that would be so amazing if he did. He's had a rough life and wants to come closer to God and we told him this was the perfect way. We also have some other investigators so things are going well here.

I usually try to talk to the most interesting looking people and the most attractive. I like hearing the stark differences in their responses, but also some that are just common throughout being in Norway. Norwegians all smell really good. It's a weird thing to pick up on, but something I have noticed.

I finally realized after 19 years why dad makes spaghetti really well. Because as a missionary you make it all the time!!! It's cheap and no matter how cheap the ingredients it always tastes delicious, so Dad I commend you!

Not too much happened this week, Norwegian gets better every day and understanding does too. I go on splits with an elder who has only been out six weeks. It's weird being the senior companion, but it's not too hard. I like the responsibility. 

I'm having a great experience even though I'm tired ALL THE TIME. It doesn't stop. But, I've only got 20 more months so I can do it. Kind of weird looking at the pictures from when I left, I feel like I was so much younger. I really wasn't, but I guess I'm all mature now :)

Love you guys and when I say prayers I always say "og velsigne familier våres og veneer våres" (and bless our family and friends) so remember when your day is rough you've got 155 pounds of crappy Norwegian language in a white shirt and tie praying for you even though it's already 0 celsius in October. 

Love, Elder Hoopes

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12, 2015

(Jackson and his companion, Elder Skoien)

I can understand what people are saying and can kind of communicate back to them what I think. No, people aren't all of a sudden listening to us but that isn't what it's about. I'm actually doing great. We talk to people, and they say no and we move on. Kind of how it goes. But I know what everyone is saying and I can communicate.

Something I have been noticing recently is my ability to connect with people. Everyone in the mission has been saying this, but I never really thought about it until one lesson this last week. I was able to communicate a few words that I knew about how families are the most important thing in my life and that how I knew it was important for them and them to hold on to. For the family that wasn't so receptive, they received it so well and that was a blessing for me. I didn't realize that connecting with people is a skill and talent and it's something I want to improve on to the fullest. 

There's a woman here from Vina del Mar, who lived in Chile when dad served there on his mission. It's kind of difficult talking about collectivos and spanish stuff in Norwegian, but I pulled out some spanglish in there and it worked out, so yeah #trilingual.

The man we've been helping to quit smoking hasn't smoked in two weeks and we should be meeting with him tomorrow. Things are going well and we actually have so many investigators we have to count them on two hands!!! That's a first, not for the sisters though. They're investigator machines, ha ha I wonder why?

There are many English here and I love hearing their accents. There was a baptism of an 8 year old boy in the ward on Saturday (Elder Skoien and I were witnesses) and he has the thickest accent and it was so awesome. He got to tell me all of his favorite football (soccer) teams and favorite players. Kind of dig european life.

Love, Elder Hoopes

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5, 2015

(Jackson in his apartment, now serving in Oslo)

If you see the missionaries don't just look at them and go "hey Jackson is one of those" and just look at them. Go say hi !!! They need it in their lives !! They want to talk to normal people and have normal conversations. Tell them that your friend is in Norway serving a mission and they will be so excited to talk to you. They won't always be trying to convert you. Please go up to them because there's nothing better than having someone come talk to you and be like "I know missionaries" it really makes their day. And if you're feeling real generous invite them to go get some ice cream. Missionaries love ice cream.

We watched a little of conference on Saturday night, but then watched all Sunday and caught up on the ones we missed, on Sunday night. My boy, D. Todd Christofferson coming in clutch and President Nelson too, those were good. 

Last week we were late for an appointment so we had to drive and I'm the only one that could drive so I got to drive in Europe. And not only that, but the directions took us through the middle of the city. Yep, I drove in the busiest city in Norway in a Norwegian car after not being behind the wheel for more than three months. 

We taught this guy who came up to us on the street and told us that some missionaries helped him quit smoking ten years ago, but then five years ago he started up again. So on Tuesday last week, we went over to his house and shared with him the stop smoking program. We went over and started talking to him and his son was there too. So we went through the program step by step and he was so willing to quit, it was incredible and so cool to see the will of a man. But even more so was that his son was so ready for his dad to quit and he stayed and listened while we helped his dad through the steps. This little boy was so grateful that we were there to help his dad quit this nasty habit and be anew. What struck me is that we weren't even sharing deep principles, but simple ones such as prayer and a belief that God will help you if you allow him. I loved that we were able to help this man with something he really desired and wanted to quit. That, as a fellow man, we could assist him and really just be there to help him when it got hard. We text him every day and now he has been 7 days without a smoke. We are meeting him again tomorrow and he is so excited. So cool to just see how we can help out and be friends with people who need it.

I am so thrilled when I get to be friends to those who may not have so many. It makes me feel so good inside when these people feel a real connection to me even though I may not be able to communicate with them so well, that I can just smile and they smile back, especially if you're feeling lonely even though you're not alone. It's a terrible feeling, but I can be there to help these people. No, they're not miserable but life is so much easier when you have a couple of homies. So, even if I don't get one baptism if I can be friends with a couple of members who need it, that is more than enough for me in a lifetime.

People we stop on the street ask us all the time why bad things happen and we have no answer. But, I know that love from others can help. No it will not completely heal us, like in the priesthood session when it talked about Becky MacBeth's sister and family, I cannot imagine the pain and no one else can either, and nobody can make it alright. But, if we are that simple friend that person who can hug them and hold them close. Those who don't even need to say anything, we can help and comfort those who need it. Thanks guys for being those people.

Love you guys,
Eldste Hoopes

(Jackson back in Tromso with a member of the branch)