Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week 9: Serving in Villa Canales

Elder Hopkins in front of the Guatemala MTC (CCM)

June 30 – First email from the Field in Guatemala !

well I'm sitting here in a computer cafe in Guatemala, for the first time. I'm actually out in the field now. I'm in an area called Villa Canales¨. Its really nice actually. I'm kind of out in the countryside, even though its technically a capital zone, but the Guatemalans don't consider it the capital. There's massive hills, like the foothills, but more defined, and covered with big trees. I live near a large sugar can field as well. Theres a random skinny white horse that just walks around the little town looking for grass to eat. And there are lots of wandering dogs of course. Our little house is pretty nice, apparently its one of the nicer houses in the whole mission. And we have warm water! So I'm happy about that.
My companion is Elder Euteinier from Las Vegas. He's a pretty nice guy, we taught a lesson last night already so that was good. I'm already tired, this is going to be a tiring two years but that will be good for me a guess. I never received the 2nd package at the Guatemala MTC, so hopefully it didn't get lost in the mail or anything. So, I never received the last two packages, only the first one, so i didn't get any letters or photos of my friends at Grad yet. I don't know what happened to it. Now that I am in the field, here in my mission, the mail gets delivered twice every six weeks. and sometimes, like during a change, the two times are in the same week, so sometimes its a while, so i don't know when I will get anything in the mail, but thats alright, there's a postal strike anyways.
So , to answer your question about us teaching in the big square during the rain in my last email, so you can picture it, yes that is the square that i was in. The one with the big fountain. That square isn't actually in my mission though. I was on the right of the man and elder moon on the left. We were towards the big old looking building by the fountain, on kind of the left side.

Question – did you three plan the funny faces in the Guatemala MTC group picture – Answer - ummm you were right about the picture, we planned it, all the older north americans were supposed to do a funny face. That sucks about the mail strike. hopefully it will end soon.

(We told Tanner his friend won Wipeout Canada) - thats sweeeett I wish I was there when it aired!

Attached are some pictures since I've been in Guatemala some of at the Temple, eating Mcdonalds in that mall 3 weeks ago, and some of my house.. oh yea, as of now theres a rule that no missionaries can drink caffeine, so unless that changes it looks like i wont be drinkin dr pepper for 2 years, so don't bother sending me any. but in the ccm we went out cuz Elder Moon had to have an ingrown toenail operation, so while we were out we did find dr pepper, so i was able to drink one last one the morning before i came to the field. There is a boy here in the mission from Magrath, and another Elder whose brother is the brother in law to my friend Brooke in Raymond or something. When I was contacting the other day i say the latina version of Jill Clark. it was kinda funny. This mission seems like a pretty sweet mission. I'm glad that I have the chance to be here for 2 years. The spanish is still coming. poco a poco, but soon enough ill be able to communicate better. Last night in the lesson I was able to bear my testimony and stuff but for the most part I was trying to figure out exactly what the investigator was saying. His name is Alfredo. My area just doubled in size i guess because two missionaries got transferred somewhere else so we now have twice the area and twice the number of investigators and twice as many of referrals we need to contact. and i guess we have 87 referral cards or something right now so we have a big load on our hands. At least we will always have something we need to do.
Today isn't my pday but i didn't get to email this week yet with moving out into the field, so all the new Elders got to email today. Normally I will be emailing on mondays.
oh ya and usually i will have 45 minutes to be emailing you cuz for the first 15 minutes i have to email the President. just to give you a heads up.

well i gotta go. talk to you on monday. love you all. -tanner

At the temple in Guatemala

Found a McDonalds in the mall in Guatemala

Elder Hopkins, Elder Davis, Elder Moon (CCM companions)

House in Villa Canales, His companion coming out with his laundry
Study Area


Mountain in Front...

Mountain in Front... by eatenbyhogs
Mountain in Front..., a photo by eatenbyhogs on Flickr.

View from the church in Villa Canales - Tanner's new area. Another picture from a former missionary in the area.

Fields of Sugar Cane

Feilds of Suger Cane by eatenbyhogs
Feilds of Suger Cane, a photo by eatenbyhogs on Flickr.
A blurry picture taken by a missionary in 2007 showing the sugar cane fields in Villa Canales. Tanner mentions the sugar cane in his letter home.

Villa Canales

Villa Canales by Jonathan Boarini
Villa Canales, a photo by Jonathan Boarini on Flickr.

Elder Hopkins' new area! Letter to follow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week 8: Goats, Pigeons and an Umbrella

Hola Familia.

This week has been a pretty good week i think. i have received one of the packages that you have sent me, and thank you so much! the translator has been great, along with everything else in it! it had been over a month since i drank a dr pepper. it reminded me of all the good times with my friends when a dr pepper has been at hand. fantastic. i got some cokes this week too, because we sometimes get the janitors to bring us coke haha. this one elder here, Elder Haws, from Arizona, had knee surgery so he's been here for a while, so he's got all sorts of little secret combinations like that in here haha. Rumor on the street is that it was fathers day last Sunday, so happy fathers day to you dad! sorry its a little late. the only dates i know are Halloween, Christmas, new years, and Canada day, along with a few birthdays, so I'm bound to forget to wish a happy whatever the occasion may be while I'm on my mission.

This week i gave a talk in sacrament meeting, in Spanish of coarse. it went fairly well. i guess its just the first of many. yesterday we went to the plaza to go contacting again. it was really sweet. usually we all get Latin companions to go with, but there wasn't enough in our time block so it was just me and elder moon. we were kinda nervous but it ended up being so sweet. this plaza is one of those plazas where there's just pigeons EVERYWHERE, along with goats for some reason, but we were teaching this man, kinda sitting on a bench with him, all the pigeons started flying away, flying right at and over us, then it started to POUR. The streets instantly were turned into rivers, everyone in the huge plaza ran for shelter, but we took out an umbrella and all three of us sat under it in the rain and continued to discuss the gospel. it was a really cool experience. there was another lady who was saying that she only needs the bible in her life, and then i shared the last 2 paragraphs of the intro of the Book of Mormon, and she was like in shock and said that that's beautiful. In total we got five contacts. I love how almost everyone here believes in Jesus Christ, it makes things easier to introduce. There was even one man that while we were talking to someone, came and sat near us so that we would go to him next, and he right away wanted to know what time church was so that he could go. it was a pretty good day. I think we leave on Monday to go to our missions i heard. we have our old president for 2 days and then the new one comes in. Its going to be an adventure. I'm excited to get out and start actually doing missionary work. plus I'll be in the nice warm weather. both here and in Provo I've been cold from the air conditioning, and i have a sweater i keep in class in case i get too cold. everyone thinks its weird that the Canadian gets cold.
That's so sweet that Zach is close to getting his mission call. That makes me happy, I'm proud of him. He better write me the day he gets his call! I don't know when I'll be able to email you next, as I'll be in the field and there's probably a lot of things i need to do when i get into the field, and who knows if I'll be in an area that will be easy to get to a computer. I've been trying to live the saying of "Nothing but the best" and it has been helping me be the best i can be. i think it will be a phrase that will stick for my whole mission. Love you all so much! Be nothing but the best in all parts of your life!

Love tanner

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Photo of CCM group

June 8, 2011 CCM group
 The CCM (Guatemala Missionary Training Center) has updated the group photo on their site. (Click here for a picture you can enlarge by clicking.)

The last photo I linked to has disappeared from the main page and hasn't shown up yet in the gallery for me to make a copy so this time I saved the image and am posting directly rather than linking. Hope this is okay. Tanner and possibly a couple of other elders may have planned to make this photo a bit more interesting. Tanner is on the right in the back row.

Here is the closeup as evidence.

Week 7: Learning, learning, learning

June 15, 2011


yeah that sounds good about the cd thing. so you sent me just the speakers so far right? no cds or cd player? haha i will look forward to getting those. thank you for doing this. i look forward to the dr pepper too. the north mission here has a rule that they cant drink any dark soda, and they specifically said dr pepper as well, hopefully that wont be the case for my mission haha. i know this cuz the old north americans left last week but they had to come back to stay a night in the hotel beside us before going to their areas, so we talked to them. thats funny about meeting up for lunch with elder davis' mom. (when in phoenix) he's sitting right beside me and i told him and we both kinda laughed.

ummmm I'm good. I get better and better every day at spanish, still along ways to go, but I'm feeling more and more comfortable. I won't be fluent by the time I enter the field by any means, but I should be able to communicate alright. My health is good, my body is used to the food here in the ccm at least. sometimes we have nachos for breakfast, sometimes hotdogs, and almost always black beans. And one time we had little pancake balls as part of our dinner. the other night they tried to make some sort of a chinese stirfry... they need to stick with making food from their own culture. The weather is good. we're inside almost all day though, it rains at least a bit everyday since its turning into rainy season. ummm i havn't had too many crazy experiences, since everyday is almost the same here in the ccm. just learning learning learning. We had a new group of latinos and north americans come in last week. they're good. one of the north americans knows Laura Payne from BYU. Thats sweet that ben kearl wrote me a letter hahaha. i look forward to that one. yeah probably sending stuff to my mission home will be best now. and for the rest of my mission. If you wanna take off the other address from my blog. That would make it easier. I'd hate for someone to send something to me and me not get it. I sent some letters back home last week so hopefully everyone will get them eventually at least.

Its crazy that i only have two more weeks here. I hope all the advice Sam Turner has told me is true cuz if it is I'm about to start something awesome, way better than the MTC. It's weird to me that those guys are already half done their missions. Time flies i guess. but also kinda moves so slow.  Ummmm i don't know what else to tell you. The weeks aren't all too different from week to week here. Once I'm in the field I'm sure my emails will be a lot more exciting. Well its just about time for me to sign off. Time for me to go have my weekly nap. Thats one of the best things of pday. last week I didn't have a nap cuz i was writing letters, but i ended up falling asleep for a few moments in the temple. whoops. So hard to stay awake sometimes. oh well, in two years I'll be able to get some rest. There's not much time to on a mission.

(oh yeah, most of the latinos have trouble saying my name, so it looks like for the majority of the next two years i will be Elder Hawshkins.)

Love you all. take care. God bless. Love Elder Hopkins.

Tanner's mom:
I emailed Tanner and told him there was a postal strike right now and this was his response:

bahaha what the heck? serious? that's so dumb. that's the worst news a missionary can hear!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Week 6 - Letter a Day Early!

June 7th – Tuesday
Hola Madre
I get to email today this week. i think i also get to chech my email tomorrow cuz most people, like myself don't get email until closer to when they can email. But I get to email today cuz its kinda like my pday today. All the People in the CCM have left except our north American group. Another three weeks for us. We get new latinos and another north American group tomorrow. But today we got to go on a field trip! It was pretty sweet.

The first thing we did was go to this giant relief map of the entire country of Guatemala. it has the whole landscape of the country to scale. it was really cool. each mountain was like 6 feet tall so you can imagine how big the entire country would have been. President Rogers, not the president of the mtc but he works here for a mission, came with us and he kind of went over the whole Book of Mormon with us and saying where a lot of the stuff probably took place. It was pretty cool. A lot of mormon professors and archeologists think that here in Guatemala is where almost all of the Book of Mormon took place. The people here are the Lamanites. Thats why alot of them accept the Book of Mormon so easily, because it was written FOR them. They don't need to be convinced like the jews and gentiles like the introduction of the Book of Mormon says. Anyways... after the relief map we went to a multi story market. It was really cool. so many little shops to go bargain at just like most latino countries. I bought a tie that is the same material, and same pattern as the scripture cases and bag that i bought before. I'm glad i knew enough spanish to ask her if she had any more colours cuz the one that matched my scriptures and bag wasn't on display. I also bought a little colourful bag that i can put my camera in, and i found some thread that i should be able to fix my pants with. Its really thick but i think it will work decently. maybe won't look that great, but who cares, i have no one to impress.

Also i bought a glass bottle coke at the market. It was heaven pouring down my throat. also i tried this really weird kind of fruit that looked like a orange almost sea urchin looking thing. It was good, I cant remember what its called though. Also this morning i met the Assistants to the Presidents for the south mission. He said he knows Carly Ruiz's cousin, I can't remember what his name is right now though ha. ummm after the market we went to a a museum about the ruins here, which some of it was actually built under a pyramid, but it just looks like a random grass covered hill. also the museum was right beside a really modern mall that we went too. It was as nice as any mall i have ever been too. similar to Cross Iron Mills Mall, but like 3 levels. I didn't buy anything there though, even though i wanted to get a Guatemalan soccer jersey, but it was kinda expensive, and i can wait and get one some other time in the next 2 years.  At the mall i ate MCDONALDS! it was pretty delicious of coarse. and i bought 2 bottles of coke that i brought back here to the ccm. Ive heard from all the teachers that they have Dr. Pepper here but i didn't see any at the mall. It was a pretty awesome day. There were so many things i would have bought at the market if i was close to leaving, but i don't wanna carry stuff around for 2 years. i might have to buy you guys some stuff and send a box home to you.

Oh and about things that i want sent to me... would you be able to put a whole bunch of church music on my ipod and send it to me? and also buy me one of those little speakers that you just plug in the headphone jack? that would be awesome. and also the cords that i need to charge them. And not just like motab, but like cds of church hymns done with like acoustic guitars and stuff like that. maybe some efy stuff, but there was an elder here that had like kinda folky acoustic hymns on his ipod. that would be awesome. i dont think you'll have time to do that for the package your planning to send right away from Phoenix, but after you have time to put a whole bunch of that stuff on my ipod. also for this next package can you send me some hand sanitizer? and some of those black socks? that would be greatly appreciated.

Just the Other day i recieved letters from Grandma Rhodes, Grandma and Grandpa Hopkins, and KatiAnne! it was so awesome to get those letters! and even one from a friend! haha ummmmm what else do i have to tell you... Well one of the Elders that was in our zone that just left to the north mission is/was a pro skateboarder. sponsoerd by a whole bunch of companies. Jake Asdel is his name. he actually brought a skateboard with him and was doing pretty sick tricks just in his room, in his church clothes and church shoes. it was pretty funny. ummmm i took lots of pictures today but i cant send them to you on these computers. maybe one of these days i will mail you my memory card. oh also about mail... do you know what kind of stamps i use to send letters home from here? im the only Canadian but all the Americans just use American stamps. I'm thinking maybe those american international stamps you bought me will work. can you find that out for me? and then also send me a whole bunch of stamps in the package you sent me? i have two i think but im kinda nervous to risk sending it with those if i don't know they will work. Like i said i can check my emails tomorrow so don't hesitate to write as much as you want cuz ive already told you everything about this week so i wont really have much to say, so ill have alot of time to read. Hope everyone had fun at the grad party and are excited and happy to finish high school! haha also a staff member here comes every week and sells ties, so today i bought 5 sweet ones, 2 burburry, and a georgio armani. fake of coarse, but still pretty sweet. i might send dad one of them unless i decide i like it too much, but there is a pretty good chance. well my time is up.

LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! take care, have fun, Love Elder Tanner Hopkins

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Guatemala Missionary Training Center

Tanner is 5th from the left on the third row.
Click TWICE to view LARGE.

Photos and link to the Guatemala Missionary Training Center

Tour of the CCM

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Week 5: Still in the Guatemala MTC: Eating ants and speaking Spanish


This week has been pretty sweet. yeah i feel safe walking up to the Temple. There's armed guards that watch us to make sure nothing happens haha. I'm out of the MTC picking up garbage once a week for service and we have to walk up to near the Temple for church every week. The other day during service there were a bunch of these huge ants, like at least an inch long and really thick. Some people eat them for a delicacy, so a bunch of the older North American group caught a whole bunch of them, they had them fried up in the kitchen, and we ate them. they weren't too bad actually. ummmm.

Also yesterday we got to take one of the city buses to a plaza where we went proselyting. it was pretty cool. it was so unreal seeing some of the sights on the way. there was one area that was just like hundreds and hundreds of little shacks built on a hill. it was crazy. anyways, there were goats running around the plaza too. me and a latino companion got three references, handed out like 4 pamphlets and a book of mormon. it was a cool experience. it made me want to know spanish even more so i could understand them more fully and be able to talk a little more. although i taught these two people basically on my own, gave them a pamphlet, and got the number and address so they can learn more. the weather has been good. not too hot most of the time, rainy at other times. I'm starting to get more used to the food and have been feeling better. Me and elder Moon are getting along.

umm if your sending a package do you want to send me some more black socks, not the really thin ones, the thicker kinds, and a little pack of whiteboard markers. i use the outside of one of my binders for a whiteboard so i dont have to waste paper on just practicing spanish. and some dr pepper. I've heard rumors that there is dr pepper here, cuz some of the other north americans have asked about it. so thats good.

also i get dear elder letters on wednesday nights. i received one last wednesday and hopefully i will tonight as well. i received the letter from grandma with the Praise to the Man program, it took a little less that 2 weeks to get here. Oh man i bet Parkers party is going to be so fun. Yes i better be receiving pictures of all of my friends at grad haha. It was so fun when Jordan had her grad party. i wish i could be there! ha. tell all my friends there that i say hello and good job on graduating and that i love them. I'm going to go ahead and send this now cuz if your on the computer i have ten minutes left on my internet time. LOVE YOU ALL!!

hey heyy. also i wanted to tell you last night a general authority came and spoke to us, i forget his name. also one of the guys in my district in Provo i found out used to be a taongan crypt. one of the biggest gangs out there, and shot at a guy. pretty crazy haha but he was sweet. He changed his ways and is pretty cool.

love tanner


We (Tanner and his mom) were able to chat online line for a bit today before his email time ran out:
He wishes he had longer on the computer so he could send pictures as well, but there is no time for that until he is out of the MTC when he will have 60 mins computer time each week instead of 30 mins.

Mom - How is your spanish coming along:
Tanner - its coming. i just need to increase my vocabulary and get better at identifying the conjugation when i hear spanish and of course get a little better at grammar

When talking about his friends Graduating right now: Tanner - “I can't believe I'm missing all these fiestas! the best fiestas i get are siesta fiestas. I'm so tired everyday all the time. but I'll just have to get used to it”

Tanner (talking to his mom) “I had a dream the other night that i was shopping with you and you bought a big gun and so many shot gun shells.” (hmmm I wonder why he would dream that, maybe he knows I'm worried for his safety ???, but I'm not overly worried)

Mom - I had a dream last night that I heard you playing guitar and went in your room and you were there!  I hope you don't lose your skills too much while being away. And I'm anxious for pictures of you IN Guatemala
Tanner - yeah i hope i don't lose it too. yeahh i wanna show you some pictures! i will when I'm out of the MTC here. also my time is running out! bye love you!! nice talking to you!!

Email to his Grandma Rhodes:

yess already a month. its crazy. im some ways it seems like i still have so long, but in someways so short. i still have 2 christmas's to go, but i only have 1 more mothers day to go.

Arent you lucky going to phoenix for a month. that will be awesome. nice and relaxing. something i dont get to do, basically at all. anyways i love you! read the letter i sent mom! i recieved your snail mail of praise to the man! thank you for that! it was good to read. LOVE YOU!