Monday, April 28, 2014

WEEK 104 - Leaving Home Twice

Growing up, I've always heard stories from people who served missions.
They talk of the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs. But
amidst all these stories, it seems there was one detail missed. One
moment not included. Perhaps nobody warned me about it, perhaps it
just didn't register in my mind - I didn't remember it. Everybody
talks about leaving home for two years, setting aside school, work,
dating, etc., but nobody mentions that at the end of that, you do it
all over again.

Nobody ever told me I'd be leaving home twice.

Four days remain in front of me and the rest of my mission is already
my life's textbook, which I will forever look back upon, continuing to
learn lesson upon lesson from it. It's very strange, there's still a
lot of it that doesn't seem real. It still feels in a little way that
I'll pack my bags, go to transfers Thursday, then get a new area and
companion, and keep going! But, alas, it is not to be so. I tried.
President keeps saying I can't extend... Haha

I really do feel like I'm going to be leaving home though. Two years
here and daily immersion in the Lords service has made Virginia and
the people here a part of me. Especially now that the trees are all
starting to turn green, coating the landscape with an emerald blanket
- a look I've come to love - it's difficult to leave all of this.

Before my mission, many people would ask me: "are you ready?" My
response was always the same: "I'm ready to find out." It's amazing
the similarity of emotions that accompany both the departure and the
return. The excitement, the anxiety, the unsurety, the thrill, the
apprehension, the impetuosity, sometimes the recalcitrance when you
want to stay longer... Haha ;P Jests aside, however, I've  noticed the
repeat pattern here, too. When people ask: "are you ready?" I again
find myself issuing the reply: "I'm ready to find out."

The past week was eventful, and way too quick. We had a great time
last Monday playing touch rugby, then district meetings Tuesday were
one of my best. The Spirit was very strong. Wednesday was my departing
temple trip. It was in the same moment exhilarating and dreadful to be
in a van with that amazing group of elders, going somewhere as sacred
and incredible as the temple, yet knowing what's coming a week later
as we all talked about school and career plans. The temple itself was
amazing, as usual. It was a nice break from everything. Thursday, I
had my last exchange. It was a really good one. The elder I was with
is super similar to me, it was pretty funny. We got back Friday, and
went and did some service! I got to install a printer :) Saturday
began with more service - we moved furniture for a community Christian
group. It was a lot of fun. That evening, we went tracting. Looking at
our schedule, it appears that was probably my last time tracting, so
we made the most of it! That was a really strange feeling. Horror
creeps in every once in a while when I start wondering if my song is
sung... Do I still have more left I can sing? The answer - when I
pause and think about it- is, of course, yes! Just because the tag
comes off doesn't mean I'm not a missionary. Something I'm very
grateful for. Yesterday, we went to church. They had me bear my
testimony in Priesthood since it was my last day. Then, that
evening... We walked to the nether reaches of our area to visit
someone, then the other elders in our ward picked us up. Then, we went
all over the place! An old investigator of one of the them from an old
area was stranded on the freeway and they didn't have a spare... So,
we went all over looking for one, and found one at our elders quorum
presidents place. Then, we drove all over trying to find where they
were stranded on the freeway! While we were driving, the elders asked
me to do their reporting for them! So I did! Haha it was kind of fun
doing that again one more time.

Today, I have my departing interview with President Riggs. If I get
some time, I'll shoot a quick note about how that was. Elder Riggs and
I are going to D.C. One more time with our companions. I'm super
excited for one last hurrah.

After that, the rest of the week will be a blur. That much is clear.
Tuesday is filling up with appointments, and Wednesday will be a lot
of packing and finishing touches, goodbyes, etc. plus any work we can
get in. Then that's that, I suppose....

As part of the departing routine, we're encouraged to participate in a
challenge extended by Elder Richard G. Scott. I'm not including all of
it, but some I had to share.

He suggests writing down what you have learned about prayer, scripture
study, and revelation. Here are my notes:

- Prayer - My mission has taught me a lot about prayer. Most
specifically how to make it an effective communication between me and
my Father in Heaven. I have learned to share my thoughts, hopes and
fears with Him. I have learned to report on my day. I have learned to
be grateful for everything and to relay that gratitude to Him. I have
learned to pray with real intent, and to plead for His intercession. I
have also a better understanding of the language of prayer.
Ultimately, though, I have learned that I must live my life the same
way I pray. I must pursue the things I ask His help to get and I must
be worthy of the blessings I desire. I must sacrifice that which is
necessary to receive. All of this knowledge has blessed me incredibly
and, though I am imperfect, I know much better what I must do, for
which I am grateful.

- Scripture Reading - Reading the scriptures has, over the course of
my mission, gone from being a beneficial habit to an essential
process. I've developed a need for the scriptures that has always been
there, though I never knew it. It has become an irreplaceable part of
my morning. Once in the scriptures themselves, I have learned how to
find and apply them to my life more effectively. Searching for
meanings and applications and patterns has become a fascinating
pursuit. Simple readings of the scriptures are anymore insufficient,
for without thought and the Spirit, revelation cannot come. My
scriptures have become my ally, my ethos, my pathos, my logos and my
strength. I've learned to rely on them and use them with agility in my
teaching. They have become a part of my life in a very real way.

- Revelation - Revelation has become a source of comfort, strength and
direction to me. I live to receive revelation and follow it, for that
is how I find who The Lord wants me to be and how He expects me to
become that. The two greatest gifts my mission has given me concerning
revelation are how to receive revelation and how to recognize
revelation. How to follow revelation simply requires diligence and
effort on my part with a firm reliance on Christ. Receiving revelation
I have found to be an application of the grace formula, which is:
Faith + Diligence + Humility = Grace. Since revelation is a
manifestation of divine grace, it then follows by the mathematical law
of substitution that faith+diligence+humility=revelation. As I
approach The Lord faithfully, listen for Him diligently and humbly
prepare to act on whatever direction proceeds from His mouth, He
answers. Recognizing revelation is simpler in principle, though often
harder to do. It simply requires listening with real intent. Real
intent is the principle of submitting my will to the will of The Lord
and being ready to act upon whatever He says. By listening with real
intent, I can recognize revelation regardless of how it is given or
when it comes. By doing so, I receive the revelation and all that
remains is to act upon it.

Another part of his challenge is to record your testimony. I figure
that's most fitting of all, both for memories sake, and because my
mission has been a time of testimony. Perhaps - should The Lord allow
- this final written testimony from my time set apart as a
representative of Christ will yet reach the ears of those thus far
unconvinced of the divinity and truth of the restored gospel. Please
know that everything stated below is stated in absolute certainty as
given to me by the Holy Spirit, which Christ promised would lead us
into all truth:

I know that God is the Father of our spirits. I know He loves us and
wishes for us to return to live with Him. I know He sent His Son,
Jesus Christ to make that possible. Christ took upon Himself our sins
that we may be forgiven as we repent, becoming more like Him and our
Father. I testify that His suffering included our pains, trials,
temptations, infirmities and sufferings and thus I know that He has
perfect empathy for each of us. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ
has been restored by a prophet, and that another prophet stands at the
head of the church which espouses that gospel, leading and guiding it
as directed by the Master, Jesus Christ. I testify that as proof of
this restoration, additional scripture has been given to mankind
standing in its existence as a witness of the Church of Christ and in
its content as a witness for Christ Himself. I testify that that book
is true, for I have experienced the blessings and spirit of it and I
know that mankind will get nearer to God and find more answers,
comfort and solace in this life than in any other way by burying
themselves in that book of scripture. Among the many miracles which
accompanied the restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the
Book of Mormon was the restoration of the priesthood - Gods power and
authority to act in His name on this earth. Through that power,
baptisms may be performed, the church may be run and organized and we
may ultimately be granted with the power to see the face of God and
live in His presence forevermore. This power comes through holy
ordinances and sacred covenants, many of which are available in the
temples of our God. Chief among these ordinances is the sealing
ordinance, through which families are bound together beyond the feeble
grip of death. I know that by living worthily of all of Gods promised
blessings, and by sacrificing and consecrating our lives to the God
who created us, we will gain more happiness in this life and in the
next than by any other way. Of this I am sure, in the name of Jesus
Christ. Amen.

I have loved and cherished my time as a missionary and wish The Lords
dearest blessings upon each of you. I love you all and, though
saddened to leave my home here in Virginia, I am excited to see you
all soon!

-Elder Matthew Hodgson

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 103- Rain and Rabbits

This week was sure a busy one! It was a lot of fun being a part of the
huge online Because of Him campaign. We spent all week showing that
amazing video to members and people we met, helping them to remember
the meaning of Easter.

Speaking of Easter, we had an awesome Easter dinner last night, and
guess what we ate?! Rabbit!! WE ATE THE EASTER BUNNY!!! It was
actually pretty good! Kind of just really gamey chicken is what it
tasted like. It was pretty exciting.

  Mom wanted pictures in the rain now she has them :)

I don't know how much I mentioned him last year, but my last few weeks
in Annandale, I started reaching a guy named T. Then I got
transferred to Manassas. When I was in the singles ward, the elders
here in Annandale thought the singles ward would be good for him! So I
got to teach him there! Then just last week, he decided the family
ward would be better for him! So I'm teaching him again now! He was
going to be baptized my last weekend in the field, which would have
been an awesome way to finish my mission! Unfortunately, he's not
quite ready yet, so we had to postpone it. That was really hard
because, selfishly, I wanted to be here for it. The Lord taught me a
great lesson though about letting go and doing what's best for him,
setting my own selfish hopes aside. So, that's a bummer, but I'm
excited to watch his progress and continue providing support from

However, this week, we did get to go the visitors center with him
Thursday. It was amazing! I was so impressed with the sisters there
and the tour they gave us. The Spirit was very strong and it helped
Tim to set his sights on the temple and the spirit he felt even just
being close to it.

This week, I also went on 3 exchanges, so I've been super busy with
all of that! I have one more exchange this Thursday, and that's all
folks! It's kind of weird, but it's good to have those exchanges out
of the way before all the final events hit. This Wednesday, we have
the departing temple trip, and I'm SUPER excited for that. I miss the
temple and I'm stoked to be there again.

We've been working hard in our area. I'm back riding a bike again, and
dealing with a little saddlesore since it's been so long. My big,
comfy truck made me soft and weak!! I have to toughen up a bit now

The weather is beautiful. This is my favorite time of year when
everything is green. I'm so grateful that it's turning green again
before I leave. I really love this incredible landscape here.

So, mom asked about my schedule as things wrap up. This week, we have:
-Tuesday, district meetings and missionary work!
-Wednesday, departing temple trip.
-Thursday, exchange.
-Friday, get back from exchange. Weekly planning.
-Saturday, lots of service in the morning, then working hard like a champ!
-Sunday, church and new member fireside.
-Monday, departing interviews.
-Tuesday, last district meetings and missionary work!
-Wednesday, missionary work and packing.
-Thursday, transfer meeting and departing night at the mission home.
President Riggs gives his departing counsel and answers questions and
we have a testimony meeting.
-Friday, get up early and head to the airport.

And that's all she wrote. So, that's what my days look like.

Love you ,

-Elder Matthew Hodgson

Monday, April 14, 2014

WEEK-102- Chinese Hodgson with allegies

Well, this week was crazy and super busy! But that's just about perfect!

The sickness has been going around, that's for sure! Monday evening I
was feeling mostly better, just super drained, then Tuesday morning, I
wake up and elder babb has it! We had to disinfect our entire
apartment, so that was pretty exciting! Drowning in Lysol, but having
fun. It was nice to get it that spick and span!

Wednesday, I had an exchange with our zone leaders. It was really cool
to be on an exchange where I was being  trained again. I really enjoyed sitting
back and learning  some really cool stuff ! Thursday,
we worked hard and got a lot done. Then Friday was when things got

One of the companionships in my district is a trio of Chinese-speaking
Elders, so Friday I had an exchange with them! It was a lot of fun
Spending some time seeing what work in the Chinese program is like, I
Switched with one of them, so I was with two elders from Taiwan! It
was way cool. Elder Huang has been out for a few months. I picked him
up from the airport, so it was sweet to see him in action! Then Elder
Ni was there, too. He's normally in the English program, but is
getting to serve a couple of transfers in his native language. They're
both fantastic missionaries, so it was really cool to see them go to
work, especially in such a beautiful language!

This weekend was busy yet again. Lots has been happening. The most
exciting thing of the week though was some news I got from elder Riggs
and elder day. ..the two APs
We were working on a big “boundaries project’…lots involved in the story lets just say we
And president Riggs were “working/ arguing” with a General Authority.  We wrote up a big Proposal
That we had a great time putting all the information together for.
Then, I got transferred. Well, I
found out that our exception was approved! ! It was awesome to hear!
:) I'd been worrying about it for weeks.

Finally, the weekend ended busy and happy, except for my allergies...
Yesterday they hit, and I've been dying! We have zero Claritin in the
apartment, so I've just pretty much been suffering! I'm excited to
shop today, needless to say haha.

This week, I have 3 exchanges coming up, so I'm super excited for that!

Mom asked  if I was doing OK avoiding the “Trunkies” :  It's weird how things start pulling more and more towards home... As much as I dread some aspects of it, it's getting really exciting. The worst was general conference. I got all sorts of revelation for "brother hodgson" and only a little bit for "elder hodgson" ... Super saddening.

It's not hard to work, and once I'm going I'm focused, but sitting around can be hard. My mind and body are in it, but my heart fights sometimes. People say I'm doing well though

Love you all!
Elder Hodgson

 PS ...
 When I was sick, the zone
leaders asked me to do a photoshop to help introduce the second
quarters theme. When I was in the office, elder Riggs and I came up
with the theme, the annual theme is "In His Steps." Each quarter, we
have a theme to help us focus on something in particular and each one
is a step. Quarter one was "step out of the boat" helping us focus on
the faith it takes to step out of comfort zones like Peter did when
Christ beckoned for him to come out onto the water. This quarter is
"step onto the mount" which focuses on diligence and sacrifice
necessary to move us further along the path we must travel. So, this
was given to each member of the zone at the beginning of the quarter. ( both sets of elders in the picture are his buddies....the fun things you get to do when you are sick :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WEEK 101 interviews and illnesses

Well, this week was another busy one! Elder Babb and I are going to be
exhausted every night! Something I'm grateful for. We're working hard
and doing lots of good things!

Tuesday of this week, we had interviews with President Riggs. My last  normal
interview  my , next one will be my departing interview, so it was a little weird...he said very kind things.  Mission presidents like to make the missionaries feel good.
 We had a great interview though and talked a lot about
what I'm doing now in my area and district. My time with the zone
leaders was great, too. Elder Ekins and Elder Alofipo, my zone
leaders, are the other elders in the ward, too! We talked a lot about
preparation for the work and how to prepare ourselves better. We also
talked about my district and what I can do to better accomplish their
vision for the zone. Finally, Sister Riggs also came to interviews, so
I had some time to talk with her, too! We pretty much just talked
about my family, because she realized in all the time we've talked,
it's usually been about the work, and she wanted to know more about my
family.  She said very nice things .

The rest of the week, we've been working hard! We've been all over,
knocking on doors and visiting with people. It's been good!

Saturday, we spent the day watching general conference at the stake
center, it's kind of funny. Because of the way things have worked out,
I've spent 3 of my 4 general conferences at the Annandale stake

About halfway through priesthood session Saturday night, I started
feeling really crummy. We went home after and we went straight to bed.
I hardly got any sleep until, from 1:30-5:30, I was in the bathroom
hourly. At 5:30, I showered, shaved (mostly to have something to do)
and finally got a few hours of sleep. ( he has a high fever and was very sick...he said he made it 23 months without getting sick but I told him its ok to miss a few days...he was quite sick  :(  )

Then, I made it to conference! Elder Babb and I got our own private
room for viewing and everything! Haha I still felt crummy and weak,
but managed to soak most of it in (I think... We'll see once the talks
come out). Anyways, conference was awesome!! Long and rough because of
my situation, but incredible, I can't wait to review my notes over
these next few days!

So, yeah! That's been my week... Hopefully things settle a little meow
this week and we can felt some stuff done!

Love you all!

-Elder Matthew Hodgson

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WEEk 100- march maddness ,April Snow and DC fieldtrip

Well, another week has come and gone, and it's been a crazy one! One
night we witnessed immense rain, a fistfight, sirens, a gunshot, and
found $50 in cash!! Man, I'm back in Annandale... Haha being inside
the beltway is an adventure!

Elder Babb and I have been walking far and wide to spread the gospel!
We've met many people along the way, and I've been brushing up on my
Spanish approach! One thing that's been pretty exciting, too, is we've
been earning bucketfuls of wife points! Yes, it's been raining like
crazy! We even got snow yesterday! It's insane! Though, now, it's
sunny and warm! I can never keep track of this weather...

The first week of our AR bracket is over, and elder Babb and I won our
district! We're now in round 2 of the bracket, and stoked to continue in March Maddness!

I had my first district meeting of the transfer last week! That was
really exciting. Our district is awesome and I am blessed to be the DL!
We have another district
meeting this week on Wednesday, because we have interviews with
President Riggs on Tuesday. It'll be nice to see him again. I feel so
disconnected! Haha it's crazy. Sometimes, we stop in to the office, and people are really nice 
and  make me feel missed, then sometimes they
start asking for help with things in the office! Haha
I've gotten afew questions that are not mine to answer as a district leader. It's
pretty fun to say "I don't know. Why don't you call the assistants?"

We haven't had as much success as I'd like or had hoped for now that
I'm here able to devote all my time to my proselyting area, but I feel
like I'm learning a lot from it. The Lord just never seems to be
content with me reaching a comfort zone. It would be so easy, now that
I feel like I'm at my peak to let me see some incredible miracles in
my area. But then again, The Lord never has been big on letting things
be easy. I'm grateful for the challenges, for the people who don't
want to talk or are never home, and for the continual stretching
I get as The Lord reminds me time and again to rely on him.

I'm super excited for general conference this weekend, too!! Man, I
feel like I've been waiting 6 months for this!!! Haha

Today, we went and visited DC for Pday. We saw the 9/11 pentagon memorial and
went to the holocaust museum.Speechless.   It was an amazing day so far. We just
finished a ride on one of the most crowded metros I've ever been on!
I'm grateful for deodorant today... Haha

We're excited for another busy week! We have some exchanges coming up
and lots of other exciting things going on!

Until next week!

Love you all!

-Elder Matthew Hodgson

Monday, March 24, 2014

WEEK 99- back in Annandale

Well, here I am! I'm back in Annandale! it's pretty fun, some members
remember me, some don't, and some have ended up commenting: "Wow!
you've been here for a long time!" haha It's a lot of fun.

Elder Babb and i are having a blast together, too! We've been working
super hard, and trying to get things going. It's weird, because I know
the geography and the members (mostly), but the teaching pool is
totally new. Many of our investigators I still haven't met yet, nor
has Elder Babb. ( they are whitewashing the place so neither of them have been there before, they are both starting fresh!)  We're excited though!

We've been working super hard, too. Neither of us has unpacked,
actually... haha we haven't had time. We're hoping to get some time
this afternoon to get everything settled and cleaned. Elder Riggs and
elder Day   ( the APs) finally had some time to drop my bike by, so i was finally
able to take a diagnosis on it this morning when it arrived. It looks
like I won't need a new part. The crank arm is stripped in a similar
manner to the way my road bike was, so it should just be a matter of
getting it re-threaded and I'll be good! Until then, we've been doing
pretty good on foot. I'm definitely remembering what it is like to
walk everywhere. Especially on concrete haha.

We've been doing a lot to get back settled in. The other day, I got
attacked by a dog! This huge German Shepard totally bit my leg! But
it's ok, because I then had the next 15 minutes to talk to his owners
all I wanted! They almost agreed to come to church ! well, what can you do? The lady did say though she was very impressed
with us and how even after she said she had a church she attended, we
still taught her about our belief and how we came to know it. she said
it was refreshing to see someone who was just willing to share and
testify and invite in a very non-confronttional way.

Elder Babb and I are having a blast together, too. We get along really
well, and he really wants me to challenge him to help him get better,
and I really want him to push me so I don't get trunky. So, it's
working! He even has trunky pills! So far, I've only needed one. i got
my flight plan on Saturday... haha Superweird.

My first district meeting of the transfer is tomorrow (assuming it
doesn't snow again), and I've had a blast preparing for that. It was
funny, last week, Elder Torres (one of the old office elders) and i
(who were both going to be district leaders this transfer) were
talking about all these different ideas of district meetings and
stuff. it was fun!

You know what else is super weird? Being in a family ward! I mean,
there's CHILDREN here!! Where did they all come from!? Ok, don't
answer that, but for real, for the last 6 months, everyone has been my
age! haha

Leaving the Braddock Ward has been a little tough. I've really come to
love it there. Bishop Leonard in particular and a couple of the
members were tough to leave, but that's how it goes, I suppose. Thanks
to all this techy-no-logic-stuff, it'll be easy to keep in touch once
i'm home.

Yeah, so that's perdy much the exciting stuff going on! We're sleeping
super soundly because we're so exhausted, though it's weird to have to
roll in place again...  No more queen size bed... haha

-Elder Matthew Hodgson

Monday, March 17, 2014

WEEK 98- Last week in the office

Well, it's not really a secret. Elder Riggs and I go home together in
six weeks, and it'd be insane to whitewash the assistants, and I've
been here longer, so I'm headed back to the field! So, this has been
my last week getting things done and preparing for transfers. As of
last night, we have a third, unnamed individual hanging with us for
the course of transfer week until Thursday when transfers happen and I
head to my dying hole! Uh, I mean, last area...

There wasn't a ton of note that happened in this past week. We were
busy as usual with missionary work, and meetings, and averting
catastrophes, etc. we fit in two exchanges this week,  so it's hat was a lot of fun!
We've been training the zone
leaders a lot on how to teach the "whys" to missionaries. Frederick
Neicghtze once said: "if you can adequately convince me of the why, I
will figure out the how." So, with that in mind, we've been applying
it to almost every facet of missionary work! Teaching, obedience,
mission rules, etc. in hopes to increase peoples understanding
because, as President Uchtdorf says: "the what informs, but the why

I'm going to miss serving as an assistant, and I'm probably going to
wonder what to do with the extra time I'll have, bit I'm very
excited for what's coming next. I feel like I have a myriad of new,
 skills and paradigms that will help me to sprint these last six
weeks. I'm super excited!

That pretty much our week.  ...I will end with mom quetsions..... Haha love you!

-Elder Matthew Hodgson

 How have the lessons you learned in your youth helped in the mission field?
I really can't even begin to describe all the
little lessons and trials I went through that helped me prepare for my
mission. It's been amazing to see how even the little things have
shaped me. From TNT to tjyc to scouts and the incredible church
leaders I've had. It's amazing to see.

How is your piano?
I don't get to play very much... my technique has really slipped... pretty soon  you will have to put up with a lot of piano mistakes :)