Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pictures from the Provo MTC

Writing letters while waiting for laundry

Just a cool tree at the MTC

My District (50-B), except the guy with no suit jacket.  I really don't know why he's in this picture!

There IS "some" Dr. Pepper here.  But its Caffeine free (dumb) - haven't actually gotten one yet.

Light Sabre (these crayons don't work too good for this) (they put a pencil crayon right in front of the camera at the right place and the flash makes it look lit up to make it look like you are holding a light sabre

Old MTC trick - Laying on the ironing board and pencil crayon for light sabre. (he could have remembered to move the iron!)

An old MTC trick - too bad the light sabre (crayon) isn't lined up right  - on an ironing board, pencil crayon held and lit up by the flash to look like a light sabre.

Light Sabre fight

blazing power in my room

My Desk in my room

The "T.A.L.L." lab (technology assisted language learning) It usually puts me right to sleep!

With Tyler Henry

Week 4: First week at the Guatemala MTC

Hola Familia!

Yes i cant believe i have been here for a week. its been pretty good. some of the Latinos are so so sweet. i love them. i didn't know what I'd feel when i got here but they're so sweet. there's this little guy, Elder Salvatierra who always just laughing and talking in Spanish to me and elder moon, cuz he knows no English, but we can kind of understand what hes saying. he's sweet.

Also there's this elder from Nicaraugua, Elder Rojas, who knows Ryder Neilson. He was serving in his area. he says that Ryder's spanish was "Super Bien." Hopefully my Spanish can be that good too.

I've been speaking more Spanish here but still feel like i don't know that much. i taught an entire first lesson in Spanish (broken Spanish) and they could understand what i was saying even though it may have not been grammatically correct. i felt good about that. actually I've taught 3 full lessons in Spanish since I've been here, only practices but still. Its tough to remember everything, i really need to be working on vocabulary every second of every day. a lot of the grammar is tricky to remember too. i just need to remember that I've only been learning Spanish for 4 weeks now. i still have 5 before i enter the field, and then like 90 weeks to improve as I'm out in the field. i tell myself that even if it takes me 20 months to learn Spanish, and i only baptize one family at the end of it, my mission will still be worth it because i will have helped bring one whole family to accept the gospel and be baptized. hopefully this wont be the case, but it helps me when I'm feeling hopeless.

So today, on p-days, people come to the ccm and sell stuff, like soaps, bags, scripture cases etc. there's some really cool stuff. i bought a super cool bag, similar to that shoulder bag i bought at mr. mac, but its brown and like striped kinda like a poncho, you know what i'm talking about. and they have a lot of cool cloth shoulder bags. i want to send you guys some of that stuff! you would love it. its been interesting trying all this new food every meal. some is really good, some isn't that great. but as long as it doesn't make you sick, its good.

I get to go to the temple later today, apparently it's super small inside. from me room i can see it, along with the massive hills in the background. i can't wait till i can get out and just explore this country. it looks so nice. i have "latino exchange companions" that i sit with every meal and at big meetings. it been helping me learn more Spanish. Stephen's so lucky he gets the fast track and gets to go to chile so soon.

As for what you said about the rain... it hasn't actually rained here much. just one day it started pouring for like a half hour, then it cleared up and everything was dry like a half hour later. i've really enjoyed being companions with elder moon thus far. we get along great. oh also about the socks, just send me black socks. not the really thin kind though. i think i have some in my drawer that say "PE" on them. socks that are that thickness are the best.

LOVE, Elder Hopkins.

Is this his view?  Image from

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Week 3: Another Email!! This one from Guatemala!

First email from Guatemala MTC after just arriving

May 18, 2011

hello. i am currently in Guatemala. from what i saw on the drive from the airport to the ccm, it looks like a pretty cool place. i can see the temple less than a block away from my bed. its pretty cool. the trees are super big here and theres alot of hills. the food we ate so far has been really good. its going to be really weird here in the ccm because almost everyone is latino. elder moon and i are companions, and there are 4 other elders in our room who don't speak any english whatsoever. this is going to be the hardest thing of my life. also im so so tired right now because i have hardly slept at all. i slept for maybe 3 hours max this past night. i looked at my watch this afternoon at 12 00 i think it was and i thought my clock was wrong, i thought it was almost time for bed. it was a little disappointing, but only eight more hours to go now... blahh.

the ccm is very small compared to the mtc, of coarse. the rooms are nicer though, not really as much drawer apace, but it has nice tile floors and the beds are nice wood, along with the closets. its pretty hot, and very humid. My pdays are going to be wednesdays while i am here, so you can expect your next email next wednesday. the ccm seems kind of strange so far. another big change. elder moon and i both kinda miss the provo mtc. also im typing on a spanish keyboard so things might be a little off here and there, and i dont know how to start a new paragraph on it.  the bathrooms here are nicer than in provo too, although the shower heads are like just below my neck. some of the elders who have been here for three weeks said that we can all probably expect foot fungus in the next three weeks, because of the change of environment. i sure hope i dont. i guess in three weeks after being here they take the north american missionaries to a mall and let you barter with them and buy things and theres good food there i heard. sounds like it could be fun. hopefully i can speak by then.

i dont really know what else to write since I talked you you for like an hour last night. i didnt really see too too much of Guatemala on the drive here but ill try to tell you what i saw. lots of big billboards absolutely everywhere. and there big archways in the road that go under one of those chanels that they had in ancient times to bring water to different places. i cant think of what they are called right now. but i guess it was built in the 1700s and its still standing, and cars are driving right under it. it was kind of cool. just alot of vegetation here, and things are built wherever they can be built, even on the sides of mountains. i got the package you sent me. thank you. although i still think im going to have to ditch some more stuff eventually.

i guess the winter here in Guatemala is starting to come, and by that i mean the rainy season. they said its from May to September or October or something like that. good thing ill be in here for at least a bit of it.  i hope you all are doing well at home. miss you and love you.

Love Elder Hopkins

Week 3: Phone calls from airline terminals...

May 17 2011 -  first call from SLC and second 90 minute phone call from LAX airport

He is really excited to be going for a change to the Guatemala MTC.

Here are some questions we asked:

How many Missionaries slept in your room? Normally there are 4 missionaries per room, but there was just myself and my companion so we had lots of room which was good.. plus I had the little christmas tree I found and put in there.

How many Missionaries are traveling with you? - There are 5 elders and 2 sisters traveling to Guatemala with me

Tanner told us that he really likes an “Elder Moon” from Provo Utah and they have become quite good friends. Elder Moon is also going to the same mission as Tanner. He also really likes Elder David Limblam from Mesa and they plan to get together after their missions.

He has gotten mail from 3 friends, Laura Payne, another girl, and Parker Steele. Mail is like gold he says.

He told a funny story about a meeting they had one day. In the meeting, was a very good looking Australian Sister missionary going to Temple Square. All the missionaries that knew of her thought she was really hot. The Australian sister missionary happened to be sitting beside Tanner at one meeting, and she had her legs crossed and was swinging her foot a little. Every time she swung her foot it would hit Tanner's pant leg slightly. This went on for a while and Tanner said she didn't realize she was doing it, so Tanner moved his leg further away. Then Tanner felt a rubbing of a foot up and down the back part of his leg but couldn't tell who was doing it, as he couldn't really see the Sister Missionaries leg anymore and he didn't want to make it really obvious by bending over to see. He felt very embarrassed thinking what the heck is happening, I'm a Missionary (and I guess his face showed it) He eventually moved his leg away, and then after the meeting he told his fellow missionary buddies about it. They started laughing because it was Elder Moon's foot that was rubbing up and down the back of Tanner's leg, to make him think it was the Sister Missionaries. Tanner totally did think it was the Sister Missionaries leg so felt really awkward about the whole thing. They all had a good laugh.

Homesick at all? - not really

Were you ever hungry at the MTC? No, I could eat whenever I wanted, the food was really good and I have gained 4 pounds

Do you keep your MTC companion in the Guatemala MTC as well? Do you know? - don't know, have no idea

Did you give anything to Bancrofts for Gedlamans to bring back of stuff you didn't want to take to Guatemala? - Yes a small box of stuff

How are your clothes holding up? - one pant hem coming out, I will need more socks and my brand new suitcase wheel's broke, so its like pulling a suitcase with one square wheel. (dang that thing wasn't cheap!)

How is the spanish coming along? Pretty good, excited to get more immersed in it in Guatemala

How much overweight was your luggage and what did it cost? One bag only was overweight, it was 70 pounds and cost only $50.00 and it will go right through to Guatemala. The other bag was 50 pounds

They have caffeine free diet coke and coke in the MTC, I sometimes drank the diet coke but missed my Dr. Pepper so thanks for sending me some in my packages.

Did you sleep well at the MTC? - yes the beds were really comfy and I fell asleep immediately every night.

What is the Language learning program you do in the MTC? - its called TALL, Technological Assistant Language Learning – done on the computer

How many teachers did you have – 2 – Brother Roman and Brother Bob Shilineyounger(sp?)

Have you been writing in your journal every day - yes

What were some of your spiritual highs? - hymn singing was good, its hard to say, cause so much of it is spiritual all the time. Every day we sing “Scatter Sunshine” in spanish.
They sang hymns always in spanish

There were only 12 elders in my District, and I was the only Canadian in both my district and zone, so I get teased a lot all in fun.

There is a guy traveling on the same flight as us that works for the Deseret News and he is going to Guatemala to do a documentary on the welfare of the church in Guatemala.

Are you happy? - yes
Are you glad you went? - yes, it would have been worse not to go.

Did you have a haircut yet – yes, last Thursday

Close to Christmas time, please send me a little fake Christmas tree (unless I can find one down here)

Last Fireside we had a member of the 70's come, Cecil O. Samuelson

He told about a fireside where they asked one of the Missionaries who was a skilled musician to come and entertain them with some songs. He started playing Phantom of the Opera type Vampire or Haunted House music really loud.. It was very strange, then a member of the 70's got up and said, “and I heard you also know this tune, and mentioned it” and then the guy played another song that was almost rock and roll. Seemed totally inappropriate but he got standing ovations every time from everyone including all the members of the 70's who were there. It just seemed so odd, cause the music he played seemed really out of place and inappropriate for a church meeting. Tanner thought it was really strange but funny.

Next contact will be from Guatemala!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Week 3: Letter on the day of departure to the Guatemala MTC

Si, i already did send a letter to the Leavitts, along with one to Parker, he did write me. and i did write a letter for Caroline and the Bancrofts. i dont really have too much stuff to send to you, but just a little box full. my bags are overweight, but i made it so one bag was overweight, and the other one isnt. one bag is 49 pounds and the other is 69 pounds. this way im only going to have to pay for one overweight bag, but the letter we got said it will cost $150 for one overweight bag. its worth it to have stuff i wont be able to get down there for two years though, thats how im looking at it. just remember to pay my credit card bills.

just passed tyler henry on my way over to the main building, said what will probably be our last goodbyes for 2 years. i gave him the stamps i wasnt using too. if you ever hear of parker getting his letter from me you should ask him about the funny story i told him, i don't want to have to type the whole thing out on here, but maybe i can just tell you when we talk on the phone this evening. im really glad im getting to go to the Guatemalas mtc because its going to force me to speak spanish ALL the time. here in Provo i can just switch back to english when class is done but i wont be able to there. it will be hard at first but i will learn it so much faster.

ummmm i dont really even know what to say on here since im going to be talking to you tonight. My schedule today has pretty much been laundry then packing, along with writing letters. i dont really have anything to do until i leave at 4:30. just study i guess. im drinking a nice cold dr pepper right now as well, as i have every time ive emailed so far. i sent you another letter with letters in it earlier this week too, so hopefully you will get them soon. i hope i can print out photos in Guatemala, or at least send them to you as an attachment. too bad my dear elder letters are going to be coming to an end. ive loved getting a letter almost every day, but i will just love the letters i get even more in Guatemala. also that reminds me, i dont know if ive told you this or not but dont give out my lds email account to anyone. its only suppossed to be family members emailing you. its a mission rule. plus as ive said before, hand written letters with pictures and things are way way better.

you know that elder who was serving in our ward who was from edmonton? elder attey or something, i forget. i met his brother here in the mtc though, kinda funny. it has been a nice week, for gym we have been going and playing beach volleyball. i wanted to have a pina colada sobe and just drink it as i sat on the sand cuz it was so nice but unfortunately it never happened, but a guy can dream. oh yes i remembered what else i can tell you. things seem like they happened so long ago but its only been a week. its wierd cuz the weeks fly by so fast but it also seems like forever ago. but anyways, Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke to us last tuesday night for the devotional. i was able to shake his hand after as well. it was pretty cool.

i got your package with all those letters and everything this week as well. thank you for that. and thank you Madi for that stuff. Katianne's leg looked like it hurt so bad! i have pictures of my friends on my wall and these two guys call katianne and jocelyn their girls, they want to write them haha. i might just have to give them their addresses before i leave. I cant believe im already leaving Provo. like i said it kinds seems like ive been here forever, but it also flew by in the blink of an eye. its going to be so sweet in Guatemala.

I dont know what else to say, so im going to leave you with a song.
(to be sung to the beat of Black and Yellow) [this will link you to the song]
Mmmmm... Uhh huh... sabé (lo) Que Somos
Misiónaros Misiónaros Misiónaros Misiónaros

Mmmmm... Uhh huh... sabé (lo) Que Somos
Misiónaros Misiónaros Misiónaros Misiónaros

Amor Ustedes, Familia!
Cant wait to talk to you later this evening. Take Care. God Bless, God Speed.
Elder Hopkins
ps thank grandma and the hopkins for sending me letters, i didn't have time to write them

Tanner and friend Tyler at the MTC - from Elder Tyler Henry's blog (link on right)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Photos and a short note

At the Provo Temple for the first time
Hey Mama and Familia,

I just wanted to send a little note along with the pictures.  I shouldn't really be writing though because its not a p-day, but it is my personal time.
Spanish is so hard and sometimes I get so down and frustrated and some times I feel good about it.  My days can sometimes be like a rollercoaster.
I have seen Tyler Henry quite a few times and have had a chance to talk to him.  I'm glad because the first few days are so tough.  I'm excited to go out into the actual mission field and to know Spanish.  I think Sam Turner could be right about the MTC. Also there's a guy going to the same mission as Sam Turner in my zone that reminds me of him.  Kinda funny.  Anyways its time for me to go to bed  Also, can you get Madi to give this get well card to Katie Ann for me.  That sucks about her leg.  Love you all and tell Madi she could rep [represent] the brother on a mission car thing quite well.* ha ha

Buenos Nochas. Amo vstedes.

* This is referring to a "Baby on Board" type sign that Tanner sent Madi from the MTC.  It says "Big Brother on a Mission".

I thought I was getting out of the snow!
They don't have this pop in Canada anymore, but they have it in the MTC!
Just chillin in the sun.  There's a lot of nice flowers everywhere here.
This is my companion, Elder Davis from QueenCreek, Arizona. He hadn't put on a tie yet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week 2: Second P-day email from Provo MTC

May 10, 2011

(after sending short emails to everyone else in the family and nothing for his mom as she waited....)

Hey sorry i just went on to read your email then i went off to write out by hand what i will say and then type it back on here so i dont have to think what to write.

Hey Familia!
so i have been getting your dear elders, which is fantastic. and i did recieve my packages. thanks so much. im drinkin the dr p right now! ummm you wanted to know what friends wrote me. a girl named Melanie did the first day i was here, and also Laura Payne did the other day. its been good.

So here's my travel informations. i leave the MTC at like 5:00 ish on Tuesday the 17. my flight number is 814, Delta. it leaves SLC at 8:10. Then i hop off a plane at LAX with my dream and my cardigan at 9:10 ( there's a time difference here i think.) then i catch delta flight 457 to Guatemala city at 12:35 AM 18 of May. then i arrive in Guatemala at 6:10 AM. So I'll try to call you at SLC and LAX but who knows how much time I'll have at SLC so I'll just call you whenever i can.

Last letter i said Elder Bednar was speaking to us, i lied. it was just a rumor i guess. it ended up being someone from the 2nd quorum of the 70, i forget his name. i guess they never know who's going to be speaking because assignments can change so fast for all of the authorities. so i have no idea who's speaking to us tonight at the devotional.

We've been teaching in Spanish this week, and by that i mean my companion tries to teach them some things while i just sit there in silence trying to figure out what they're talking about. i guess my companion is half mexican, even though he looks pure white, so he already knows a little bit of spanish. My memory is so bad i can't remember half of the words that i learn, but i guess i will one day. me and him get along pretty good, not bffs or anything, but we get along, i sent two letters home, one with some pictures, let me know if you get them. I'm going to send another one home before i leave Provo with some more pictures.

i found a little Christmas tree in our building so i put it up in our room, it's pretty sweet. adds some nice flare to my room. oh also in one of the letters i sent i sounded pretty negative, but don't worry about it, i was just having a tough day. I've been better lately. there are five elders traveling with us and 3 sisters to Guatemala. i can't wait to land in L.A. and get some Mcdonalds or something though, LA will be good for me.

well i have ten seconds left before this shuts down. love ya bye!!

(NOTE:  It's pretty clear that using the email  <ldsmail> to write means that Tanner spends some of the limited time he has on the computer reading our letters rather than writing.  Using the alternate <dearelder> system means he gets a printed letter and can use his computer time to answer rather than write.  Just something to consider.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Week 1: First P-day Letter Home

May 3, 2011

Heyheyy im just sitting in the laundry room right now waiting for my clothes to be clean. I opened the dr pepper in here, and it exploded everywhere haha. but i cleaned it up and i still have most of it to enjoy. i spotted some caffiene free dr pepper in the bookstore, so thats good. the first 3/4 days were really hard, i was like what the heck am i doing, i dont know if ill be able to do this for two years, but its better now. i get up at 6:25 every morning to shower, and i have like 6 hours of class instruction a day, and hour of gym, personal study, companioon study, and things like that. theres not really any scheduled breaks, but sometimes during our study its just too much so we hacve to take a break. spanish is pretty tough, but i have to remember ive only been learning it for like 5 days. i can bear a simple testimony, simple prayer, and say some thins in spanish. its really different cuz each verb and word can be changed so many different ways for different situations. its hard to get used to, but you just have to think different. im excited for tyler henry to come into the mtc tomorrow. i will for sure see him. i hope hes in my branch cuz right now its really small and more missionaries are leaving soon. i heard osama binladen was killed. news got out and it spread around the mtc pretty fast. they say that they put his body in the sea so i keep bugging the americans that hes really still alive, cuz they dont have his body. im the only canadian, non american in fact, in my zone. i was surprised that there isnt very many canadians here. but i met a guy from calgary that recognized me from the south,i didnt recognize him. a guy from raymond that knows all my raymond friends, and a girl from cardston. thats all that ive met so far. the mtc food is actually pretty good most of the time. alot of fresh strawberries cantelope and honeydew melon. the first thing i ate here was a bown of cereal for dinner on wednesday, along with mashed potatoes steak and beans. the breakfast this morning thought was deep fried french toast sticks. they even tasted super unhealthy. there is no way i wont gain weight here, unless i watch what i eat, which i wont. i havnt weighed myself yet, but i will sometimes soon.
thats crasy about the tornadoes in alabama. im glad kris is safe, you should send me his address so i can write him, i forgot to get it when i was at home. also you need to send me a picture of my family. i dont have any picturs of you guys. i was able to pritout some of the pictures from my banff trip, those are really nice to have. its super nice to get letters here, i now know that they are gold to missionaries. we live for them. and pictures of our friends.  we watched the testiment on sunday, about 1000 missionaries in the big multi purpose room. people would laugh so much at the stupediest things, and when the character jacod would kiss the girl of anything like that people would cheer and wistle and things like that, it was so funny. i forgot to bring my camera to the laundry room to send you some pictures, and i just looked and i dont even know how i would on this computer, but ill print some off this week and send them to you. we only get a half hour on internet time and i only have like ten minutes left anyways. i better go read the other emails i have. also tell parker that i smell so good because of him. haha. i love you and ill talk to you next week i guess. tell everyone back home that i love them.

love you,
Elder Hopkins

Saying Goodbye at the Provo MTC

In front of the MTC the morning of...

Curbside goodbye - short and sweet
Off he goes

Last glimpse