Thursday, October 23, 2014

Week 5: Last Week in the CCM! On to HONDURAS!

It´s hard to know where to begin and what to include, but I can just say that everyday I've found things to be grateful for. 

       I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and through prayer we can receive power and strength, even if it´s just asking Him to help me to be patient with others and myself. 

       I guess I can start with last Saturday, with our special devotional with Elder Maynes and Elder Anderson and Elder Pieper. Elder Anderson, Elder Maynes, and Eldder Pieper shook the hands of all 450 of us. There was such a calm feeling when they walked in. We were singing the hymn before the devotional, so we all stood and just kept singing. I wouldn't´t stop smiling the whole time! Elder Anderson included us and joked with us in his talk (which was a bit surprising and very funny) but it was also very powerful. He talked a bit about the process of how they send missionaries to their missions. He said that for most people, they could probably go to several different missions and have similar experiences, but if you approach your mission for what it is (your mission) then you will find in many occasions a feeling that will tell you - this is one of the reasons you were sent here. 

       I'm so excited to find out those reasons. 

       Elder Anderson´s message was centered on the Atonement and the powerful messages found in the Book of Mormon about the Atonement and Jesus Christ. There is nothing that is more important. His Witness of the Savior and His Gospel was powerful.

Elder Maynes taught me that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were the first missionary companions in this dispensation, and appeared to Joseph Smith. I hadn´t really thought of it that way before and I like it a lot. 

       I also had a cool experience with one of our teachers. We've been working with her as a "progressing investigator" named Nina. But her character is actually based on a friend that she has. So after our lesson with her on Saturday, we prayed with her for her friend. He didn't go to church this last Sunday but I hope he will this week!

       We had a special devotional on Tuesday this week, with people from the missionary department. We got to hear the testimonies of a few people, but the main speakers were Brother Jarmin and Brother Mills. From Brother Jarmin and from class, I've learned so much more about reading the Book of Mormon with the investigator and helping them understand it. It´s very important to help them receive their own revelation. 

       Brother Mills was really funny - one of the things he shared with us was the life of an investigator from The District (for those who do not know, it´s basically a documentary about missionaries) It was so great to see the change in his face, in his eyes, in his countenance. Brother Mills helped us to know one great simple truth that I am learning better here, something that President Packer said (not a direct quote but here we go) that Ins´t this true Christianity? It is by giving away (love) freely that it truly becomes ours.

       I know from even my own limited experience that if I don´t focus on the investigator and my companion, it´s really hard to teach. Last night we had a great opportunity to teach some volunteers (they come every week, this is when I teach investigators on Wednesdays, if you remember) and our lesson last night went well. The Spirit was there and I could feel a piece of Heavenly Father´s love for her and I think she felt it too.  Even though we learned after that some of the volunteers were members (our teachers lied to us) it's still been very real, and I'm sure they are blessed for the service they do.

       Yesterday I had a fun experience - I got to welcome the new missionaries and help them email their families! It was really fun, I liked it a lot. It's hard to think that that was me five weeks ago, and that this is my last letter from the CCM. It's beautiful here, but I´m excited to get going. Even in this last week alone I have learned a lot. 

       Even funnier experience - I usually get to sleep after the other girls but I've learned there are benefits. Specifically, listening to the others talk in their sleep. The other day one of the Hermanas was quoting the first vision in Spanish, it was quite impressive. I guess that tells you a little about the memorization and the studying that goes on here :) 

       In all seriousness, though. I´ve learned a lot here and I hope that the people I will be teaching will be touched by the Spirit in ways that will help them to be open to our message. 
       I want you all to know that I know that My Redeemer Lives. I´d like to share my testimony in Spanish (and English). 
       Mi testimonio: Yo se que Nuestro Padre Celestial nos ama mucho y tiene un plan por cada persona. Dios respete nuestro albedrio, pero El y Su Hijo Jesucristo nos invitan a venir a Ellos siempre. Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios, y testifica del Jesucristo. Yo se que este Iglesia es Su Iglesia.  Yo se con todo mi corazon que El es mi Salvador. Yo se que el profeta es llamado de Dios, y habla las palabras de Dios. En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen. 

       My testimony: I know that Heavenly Father loves us very much and has a plan for each person. God respects our agency, but He and His Son, Jesus Christ, always invite us to come to Them. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and testifies of Jesus Christ. I know that this Church is His Church. I know with all my heart that He is my Savior. I know that the prophet is called of God and speaks the words of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week 4: 1 month down, 17 more to go!


This week has taught me a lot about the blessings that I really do have -  doing things like writing down what I am grateful for at the end of the day has helped a lot. So has actually getting out into the city. Today we went to the temple.  Driving through Mexico City traffic (which didn´t shock me as much as when we first got here) and seeing how these people live - It made me just really grateful. But my companion and I talked about it and Elder Holland´s talk and talked about how there are a lot of people who don't have what I have and are still grateful people. It changed my perspective. 

          I loved to see the temple. They are redoing the interior right now so we did not go inside, but the visitor's center and the tour that we got with the sister missionaries there was really nice. We watched this video about families and it made me even more grateful for mine :) I was blessed to receive some handwritten letters from my Grandpa Williams this week, which made me so happy. So have all the emails, letters, and support I have received. One of the toughest things I´ve had to see is people who don't have that same support. But through some experiences that we have all had together here and through their testimonies, I know that God is their support. 

Hermana Hogge & Hermana Cook

Templo y districto

         It was good to hear that you continued traditions and made memories this last week, and I hope you all have a good time over Halloween and all that. I love you all, but I know that I am where I am supposed to be. This week has been a little more challenging. Our "investigators" (teachers) are throwing more difficult problems at us, but I know it is because they really care about us and the people we are teaching and want us to be prepared. (And no, Dad, most of the investigators that I talk about aren't real. On Wednesday nights - since last week at least - we teach real volunteers, but other than that we have progressing investigator lessons with our teachers and practice with each other). 

        We had some inspiring devotionals, like we do, but this last Sunday was special because it was from Elder Holland (it was a recording, but even recordings feel like they are live time). He talked about Peter going back to fish after Jesus had died and loving the Lord more than loving fishing - or whatever it may be in our personal lives - and it helped me to see that that doesn't mean I go back to "fishing" after my full-time service is done. We also had Elder Valenzuela, an Area 70, speak to us on Tuesday. When he and his wife spoke, my testimony of this church and the Lord´s knowledge of each of us grew. If I have gained a testimony of anything while being here, it is that Heavenly Father is a master planner, and has a plan for each of His beloved children. 

        Some really really exciting news - for the first time since the CCM's dedication, we will be welcoming a member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Anderson will be speaking to us on Saturday, and I am so excited! It's like another General Conference. I´m really fortunate to be here now. 

         It's hard to believe I will be leaving in less than two weeks but I feel a little more prepared than I did before coming here. Last night I felt a little down because I didn't know how to answer a question, and during our visit with a real investigator last night I could barely understand what she said. But my teacher and companion were encouraging, and I have learned to be more patient with myself, and I know that that has invited more peace into my life. 

         God lives and He loves you, good people!
          Tengan una buena semana! Have a good week! 
         Love, Hermana Hogge

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Week 3: "Estoy muy feliz hoy!"

"Estoy muy feliz hoy!" is a current catch phrase in our district right now. It´s great; I love my district a lot. (It means "I am very happy today")
          Thank you all for sharing your lives and your thoughts on conference! It´s really hard to describe how awesome it was to watch conference in the CCM! It is one of the experiences that I will hold on to forever. We watched conference in English; even the Spanish ones had the English voice over. But that didn't stop us from cheering whenever they announced that someone would be speaking in Spanish! It was cool to listen and recognize words. I loved all the talks, they had such a different meaning to me - I could easily relate them to the lessons I am studying and teaching. One of my favorite talks was by President Uchtdorf. I found a lot of comfort in his words about the light of the gospel. (Thanks Mom for the quote!!) I feel like a lot of the talks were about personal revelation, and I love that message. I love that I can tell people not only about this gospel and the things that I believe and have come to know, but I also that this is something that anyone can learn for themselves. God knows each of His children so well; He knows how to teach each one of them so they will be able to understand. 
          I also really liked Elder Anderson´s testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. Elder Hales´ talk has a special place in my heart - even with the "investigators" that we have taught so far, we find a lot of people that don´t believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are separate Beings. Elder Hales´ talk helped me to know better why it is so important that we understand this concept. For me, it is because I better understand just how loving and selfless Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost truly are. I also loved Elder Packer´s talk, and all the talks on prophets just prepared me to listen to the prophet President Monson, and he in turn pointed us to Christ. I loved that. 
         We had a cool experience in class yesterday. Our teacher, Hermana Balderas, told us she had this dream all night the night before about showing us this video. She didn´t know why, but I´m grateful she recieved and acted on that revelation. IT was "La obra misional y la Expiacion" (Missionary work and the Atonement) We learned that missionary work isn´t easy, but that when it gets hard we can be glad that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the most perfect Missionary that ever lived. The video inspired Hermana Cook and I to go to God in prayer and figure out the things we need to be doing better. We have a goal of speaking more Spanish and also better understanding the language of the Spirit. I know that we have already been blessed because of it. 
         Last night we had our first real investigators - we were so nervous, and it was hard because Hermana Cook was feeling a bit sick, but it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences. It makes me so excited to go out and teach. First we taught a father and son about Joseph Smith and the restoration. Then we taught this man named Gustavo, he had such a light with him and I just felt that he is so ready to make covenants - I didn't ask him if he wanted to be baptized, but I think I should have. 
        We played lightning\knock-out as a district the other day, and I totally won. I don´t really know how, I just thought you´d like to know :)
        Please let grandma Williams know that I am getting her emails\Dear Elder letters. I am very grateful for them. She even remembered things from my setting apart that I hadn't, and it's great to hear what has been going on in our family - and that goes for all of your stories. Keep sending them.
       I love you all so much! I can´t believe I've been here three weeks already. We just said goodbye to one of the districts in our zone on Monday and Tuesday. They are all going to California and I know they will do great. We got more missionaries in our zone yesterday, and we are looking forward to getting to know them better. 

I hope you all have a great week! 
Hermana Hogge

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Week 2: "The days are like weeks and the weeks are like days"

The days are like weeks, and the weeks are like days - that´s a saying that I am starting to become familiar with. 

As for how my day to day life is - we wake up at 6:30 (somehow) and are ready by 7:15 (ish), have breakfast, have personal study, language study with our teacher, coaching with our teacher - Our morning teacher is Hermano Lara, but we´ve also had a few other teachers because Hno Lara´s wife is expecting a baby soon and he has to leave sometimes. Anyway, we have companion study, we role play and talk about what we will teach our investigators Sometimes we teach in the morning. We have lunch, then TALL (technology assisted language learning) which really is helpful but we´re all just trying not to fall asleep sometimes. Then we have more study, then we go to gym (love it every day, getting better at volleyball and ultimate frisbee) and then we have daily planning, some more time to study for teaching, and then we have dinner. The food here is pretty good - Tuesday nights are pizza, which is the best. Then we have night classes or a devotional, personal time, and then bed at 10:30. 
So that´s a day in the life right now.
Mexico is beautiful, not as hot as I thought it would be. Or as humid. It´s really nice. I really like the CCM, it´s so well-kept up. (¿Se pronuncian la "se se eme," si?)

Ok, now for some experiences this week. 

       Last week I mentioned I was a bit sick. It never got very bad, but one thing that really helped was receiving a priesthood blessing from some of the elders in my district. It really was very comforting, and I know that Heavenly Father is aware of me, and every one of us. I felt strengthened throughout the next few days, even if I wasn´t over being sick yet. I also think it was a good thing that elders could use the priesthood that they hold. I was also blessed with a companion who helped me keep on top of staying hydrated and who always made sure I was doing alright. 

       My companion, Hermana Cook, is from Orange County California. Her mother is a nurse, and she seems to have inherited some of her characteristics. :) I look up to her a lot. Not all of her family supports her going on a mission, but she really is converted to the gospel and what she knows. She´s also a big Lord of the Rings and Avatar the Last Airbender fan, so that´s awesome. We are learning a lot about studying, learning and teaching together. It´s still challenging but we learn from our mistakes and we´re willing to change our approach, which makes a big difference, I think.

       I am growing to love all the members of my district - I don´t have a picture of all of us yet, but it will come, I promise!
        We watched a devotional on Tuesday about preparing for conference, and he helped us in how we need to take notes. He pointed out that we all have to find our own pattern. Heavenly Father works in patterns. But this was a pattern that has always helped him, and I am going to try this weekend: during the talk, write down the doctrine/principle, the invitation (make it personal) and the promised blessing. It´s good to have questions, and important to be willing to act on the answer. 

He also pointed out that they aren`t assigned topics, which I knew. He said "They don`t say to us, Ok, Elder Bednar and Elder Ballard, you speak on conversion. Elder Holland, you light it up."
We´ve heard several devotionals by Elder Bednar, and I love how he jokes with the missionaries, and inspires us to forget about ourselves and get to work. 

I hope the Womens´ Broadcast was good, I will get to watch it this Saturday while the Elders watch the priesthood session. 
Spanish is coming along. It´s a lot of learning it in the context of the gospel. A lot of studying you just have to learn to do on your own. But that´s good. And it´s also important help others along their way, too. I know that I receive help every day. Our teachers were good to remind us that we were called to speak in the Spanish language. My companion and I have made more of an effort to speak it, but in the casa we relax more. We shared our pictures or our families with each other and everyone always says what a good-looking family i have, and they are right! 

I love you all! keep me posted on things happening in your lives!

Bryan and Annette, thanks for your gift before I left - the scripture tabs have helped a lot!
Dad, I promise I did not completely forget about your birthday, I just remembered at all the wrong times. So, happy Birthday!
Thanks mom and dad, and everyone, for all the help and support you have given me!

One more quote, from Elder Maxwell. "Without the character of Christ, there would have been no Atonement." I have loved learning more about the character of Christ. When we would turn in, he turns out. That´s not something that we can do on our own, but with the Atonement and the power of God, all things are possible. 

Love, Hermana Hogge (a name which is even harder for Spanish speakers to say, I´ve learned  :)