Monday, June 25, 2012

week -8 busy boy

Hey! I'm so sorry this is so late. We were at the National Zoo all day, then we have been trying to find a computer to use since. We were going to just do it tomorrow, but I remembered it was mom's birthday, so I decided I needed to get on it! We're at the C's right now.
So, Happy Birthday Mom!!! So sorry I don't have more time to write. Everything is going great. Transfers are tomorrow (I'm staying in Ashburn/Belmont Ridge and will get a new trainer). Elder L has been packing today and has been really quiet. I'll give more details on everything next week when I have more time. I just wanted to let you know I'm happy, healthy and I love you.
I hope you got to do something fun for your birthday. Dad usually takes good care of you, so I hope he didn't let that change. ;) The Albrights have said most of their goodbyes, and after transfers tomorrow, they're pretty much just hanging around to introduce Riggs to the area. Riggs sounds great. Albright was telling him some info, and mentioned a missionary who is home in Provo with a knee surgery right now, then got a text last week from President Riggs: "Elder W is doing well, and excited to get back out. I visited him on my way to the MTC, and he is healing wonderfully." How neat is that?! We're going to be in good hands.
It's been sad to see the Albrights and Elder L get ready to go. I have lots to share, but don't have the time, but I'm keeping a list of things to talk about, so you'll get it next week! Including new stuff!
Anyways, just wanted to say happy birthday, and that I love you. Have a great night!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

week 7 faith in every footstep

So . . . They say that every drop of sweat from missionary work makes your wife even prettier, so how do raindrops fit into the equation? It's coming down pretty hard! No tornado warnings this week (did I tell you about that? Whoops if I didn't. Nothing serious. The one that hit was about four miles away, and a member family swept us inside and wouldn't let us leave until the warning was expired).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! You're 50! Just 12 more of that and you get to build an ark!
Happy Fathers Day as well!. We're in church and people start saying it, and we're like: "oh yeah, that's today." So, we got pie from one ward and cookies from the other. I've decided I like father's day... and the primary kids were just as out of tune and just as adorable here ;)
Some exciting stuff going on here. We just got statistics, and we're the number 1 baptizing mission in the entire North East region again!! We're also the number 1 for trips to the ER, but then again, I probably shouldn't be telling mom that...
I don't have the time or ability to answer all of your comments from letters, but I love getting them, so I'll answer as many as I can so you don't stop!
Tempest sounds like it was awesome! I can't wait to see the dvd!

Elder L really is keeping his head in the game. I'm impressed. Like I said last week, the airport is really close by, so he often sees the exact model of plane he'll be on flying over us. It's gotta be hard, but he stays focused. Most important part is he works hard still. I've decided there's no such thing as not being trunky in some way. The problem is when it affects your work. The trick is getting trunky without getting trunky. ;)

My bike is working very well! The front fender doesn't stay attached for more than a day or so, so I've just been riding with a rear fender alone. It works great though!
Transfers this time around are a little weird. They're 9 days early because President Riggs is coming in, and President Albright didn't want to throw transfers on him first thing.

How was the long drive with Rachel, Jeff and Aurora? I woke up that morning and was totally like: "Whoa! (Insert stoner voice) My sister is like, going to college." Where did the time go!? She's not old enough for that, is she? How is it? roommate? classes? etc?
Thanks for the tick info, both Nana and mom. Elder B was actually roommates with us when I first got here, and it was't lyme disease fortunately. Elder A, we're still waiting to hear on. Their first priority is clearing it from him so it doesn't become permanent. He wants to stay out here, so he's basically living on pills. Keep him in your prayers.
My leg is doing better. I tried playing soccer with a less active boy last week and some of his friends (his family is actually from Le Paz, Bolivia), and it was good for most of the time. It got a little sore near the end, but it was good to be out on it again. I couldn’t resist the temptation and tried a backflip . . . I'll need to rebuild that muscle a bit before I try again, my knees are still a bit sore.
I'll keep my eyes open for the Roneys. Do you know what ward they're in? Bishop Lewis really is fantastic. We love him. And we know the Cahoons. Don is a crack up! They would do anything for us, but they never let us get near them without making it interesting. Imagine Dave Pettey times about 6 ;) Our ward mission leader in Ashburn is like a father to the missionaries too. He's so reliable and genuine. It's awesome.

Now, a weekly update!
We finally got in touch with one of our former investigators. He wants to come to church and get baptized, and his dad loves the idea, but his mom doesn't... He asked us to talk to her, so we're praying and preparing ourselves so the spirit can soften her heart.
We had two exchanges this week. First one was with Elder K and Elder M. Elder L went to their area in Hamilton/Catocton, and Elder K and I hit it up in our area. We went to our first dinner (we had two again) at the Petersons house (our shelter from the tornado). Sister Peterson reminds me very much of Danai and she takes great care of us. As we were leaving, something really funny happened that has nothing to do with spirituality, but is one of my new favorite stories. A couple weeks ago, Sister Peterson introduced us to her neighbors right across the street so we could offer service (they're redoing their house) and maybe fellowship and teach them. Well, their neighbor's 18-year-old daughter K opens the door . . . K ever since then has been sort of a running joke representing distraction from missionary work . . . Very pretty girl, but she doesn't leave any doubt . . . We were glad when her father refused our service because she was a bit immodest . . . Anyways. I'm here with Elder K now, and we're hopping on our bikes to ride down the driveway and off into the sunset and, as I'm coming down the driveway, I see K - in cheerleader attire - on her front porch. I reach the road, turn and start riding. Suddenly, I hear: *CRASH* and I turn around to see Elder K, with a very red face, picking up his bicycle from the ground! It's become a favorite story of the Zone. haha :D
After dinner wih the Petersons, we went to J's house. We've been helping her grandmother move into a retirement home, and she decided it was time to treat us to some real Italian food, so J's whole family is there. Sister , Mother, Father, Grandmother and some friends! All nonmembers! We get there and J offers us some soda, and her dad interrupts: "Oh! Don't taunt them like that, they can only drink water, right? No soda." Then Grandma comes running over with wine: "Here! I pour for you." J: "Oh, Grandma, they can't drink wine, remember?" Grandma: "No, is okay. I'm 21! I buy FOR them." I was getting really excited for this dinner. The food was great, and afterwards, we talked about the gospel, shared a message with them, answered some questions and pointed them to  J is on the uphill. Things are still tough, but it's getting better. Please continue keeping her in your prayers. You really are working miracles.
Last night, our dinner appointment was with the W family. He's from Cody, Wyoming, so I couldn't resist. I asked him if he'd been to the Frost Caves. He saw right through me: "Are you talking about the Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites books?" haha. I guess I don't keep a good poker face. He showed me pictures of them and it was really neat. Afterwards, Sister W asked me to play the piano. I did, and THEN they told me that Brother W is the ward music coordinator . . . nice..
Return and report was Thursday. Elder McGoffin and I hopped in a car, and started driving, hoping our GPS was really taking us to the mission home . . . It worked! I loved talking with him in the car. We talked about scripture study, the work, shared fun stories about the work, shared serious stories about the work. Ashburn is a "tough zone" and it shows. It really tests the faith of those working in it. Apparently he and his trainer, Elder G had a girl on date in their area , then knocked on her door for a visit once, and she answered it to reveal her and her boyfriend not in any fit state to be visiting with missionaries. Needless to say, she's not on date anymore.
Anyways, we get to return and report, and it was SOOO neat to see all my old MTC buddies!!! They're all doing so well, and everyone has huge smiles and bigger spirits than they had just weeks ago, which is saying a lot. It was going so well, and It was incredible! Then we started our testimony meeting. I was toward the end, and I noticed a pattern as it was coming across the room. It seemed that a good 70% of the testimonies being shared had at least one story in them that ended with: "and then we put them on date." It wasn't just a few people, either. Practically EVERYONE told stories about their fantastic investigators and the miracles that got them to accept baptism. Elder McGoffin and I looked at each other. I think we were the only to in the room who didn't have someone on date. I sat, tears welling up in my eyes as conversion story after conversion story was told, and the best thing that had happened to me thus far was J's sister listening to a short message. I felt like a failure. Then for some reason, I felt prompted to flip through my notebook, and I almost opened straight to a quote by John Wooden: "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." Immediately I felt better. The spirit testified to me then that my work was not being ignored or forsaken, and I remembered again that this work is done on the Lord's time, not ours. This happened just in time too, because then it was my turn to bear testimony. I stood up and said humbly: "They often say that the greatest convert from your mission is yourself, and that is my testimony to you today." After that, I bore a simple testimony of the Savior and His divinity and mission, and of the wonderful message of the restoration. I searched my mind for SOME experience to share, but felt the spirit whisper to me to just bear testimony. So I did. And I sat down feeling the spirit and feeling comfort in my work.
Afterwards, we had to wait because our car was blocked in by other cars. I was sitting talking to some Elders, and President and Sister Albright called me over. I walked over, and she started off by telling me that I have a wonderful laugh and a broad smile. I thanked her and said simply that I had a lot to smile about..
Elder McGoffin and I shared on the drive how we both felt similar during the testimony meeting. It's hard for both of us feeling like we're working so hard, and not seeing people come unto Christ. But we still see miracles every day, and it's a wonder to behold. Sometimes the Lord sends us places to help the people there, and sometimes, He sends us to places where He can help us. Somehow we wake up every morning with strong faith.  What an honor it is to be involved in this sacred work.
- Elder Matthew

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

week 5 - it continues...........

That's crazy! Rachel leaves for BYU in 9 days.... Holy cow! Remember, no getting married while I'm gone! Engaged...ok, but not married
BEST way to do mail is to send to the mission home. It adds anything from another two hours to another day to get it to me depending on where I am, and it's just easier. If you want though, you can send directly to me, I just wouldn't do it within ten days of a transfer... my ashburn adress is:
20030 Coltsfoot Terrace #101
Ashburn, VA 20147
I expect to be there for at least one more transfer...
My first trainer is Brett L, and he is from S J. I'll get a new trainer when he leaves though because training takes 12 weeks, and I'll only get 5 from him.
Transfers are every 6 weeks normally, but this first transfer will be 5 and the next will be 7 because of the new pres...
Pdays are mondays usually.

 (Sunday Dave and I got a text from an unknown number of two elders on the couch…with 2 other folks and a dog on Matthew’s lap)
Oh, if you were wondering about that picture last night, that was Elder L and I at the Reynold's for dinner. They were actually our second dinner (whoa!) one with the ward and one with them. A, the one taking the picture is the Less-Active that I'll mention in just a sec, then on the couch with us is D (the deaf investigator), his girlfriend K (pronounced "Kira" and currently reading the BOM, not ready to talk yet) and their dog, Sadie.

 This week in Ashburn/Belmont has been . . . well, slow. It seems we can't get into ANY doors. Appointments fall through, potentials aren't there, tracting is about as successful as knocking down a wall with a plastic baseball bat, and our best referral is in New York for a couple weeks... haha. Pres sent out an email about faith and positive thoughts that really helped lift my spirits. I've been quoting scriptures and quotes about perseverance and faith ALL week.
It's true though, the witness really does come after the trial of our faith. Yesterday, we had a less-active at church for the first time in six years (A), and today, I texted a potential to say hey and he immediately said: "Hey! When are we going to go talk about all of this?" Things do happen, but at the Lord's pace, not ours, and he needs to be sure we know that and that we trust him and are willing to work regardless.
On another note, anybody remember that story about the guy who God told to push the rock? Well, he pushes for a year, then gets mad, saying God gave him something he couldn't do, etc. God tells him "I told you to push the rock, not move it. Look at yourself, you've become strong now." or something to that effect. Well, with all this bike riding from one failed appointment to the next, I'm getting back into shape. I'm trimming down everything from finals week and the MTC and lost 5 pounds this week, along with toning out a bit. That's been one upside... haha
The other day, we were riding our bikes, coming down the driveway of someone who wouldn't let us in, and suddenly: "HEY!! Are you Latter Day Saints?" The tone wasn't extremely inviting, and I didn't really want to be yelled at, but we stopped our bikes and, praying for help, I smiled a huge smile and said cheerfully: "Yes we are!" He stopped and said he just wanted to thank us. Apparently his mom in Fresno was hospitalized and in the three days it took him to get there, the missionaries she had been meeting with had visited her 5 plus times. It was really cool. So, he thanked us for all we do and all our church does, then hopped in his car and left. We took note of his address to go visit later :D
Everybody, please pray for J. She's a recent convert who's going through a lot. I can't share details, but PLEASE keep her in your prayers. She needs it.

Rachel asked a question that I think everybody would enjoy an update on: my leg. I don't know who all knows what, but about March 18 (the weekend we were home for Blake's farewell), after the drive to Utah, I woke the next morning with a sore leg. I have had sore legs before and usually I just put up with it, and after a day or two, I'm fine. This one, not so. It was still hurting after a couple of days and, stupid is as stupid does, I went for a run with some friends and pretty much destroyed it. That's how it felt at least. I spent the rest of the semester limping, struggling to sleep and just racked with pain. I went to the doctor, and they told me it was just a pulled leg and to take it easy. After finals week ended, no such luck. The night I got set apart, I was still limping with very restricted motion. The night before I reported, I got a blessing, and wham! I was fine in the MTC. I still had to take it easy, but no limp, no EXTREME pain, etc. Then I hit the field, and the Lord takes care of me as I do His work. My first few days were rough (we're on bikes). I would be GREAT during the day, then crawl into bed that night with tears running down my face before spending the next hour trying to lie comfortably. Elder L noticed my limp one evening and asked about it, before pulling out an electroshock therapy set! So, I'm doing that every day during scripture study now, and while it's not perfect, my leg is doing much better! It's still sore a lot, but it doesn't hurt. I even managed a small jog last Saturday!!
So, we're near the Dulles airport here, and a common joke among missionaries is: "How far do you think that plane is Ln?" "Oh, about a month!" Well, someone pulls that on me the other day, and I threw out a guess that was a measurement in feet. They pause for a second, then say "Nope! 23 months!" I almost swore. I've been out a month already?!? What the heck!! Where did it go?

Just a cool thought I had. When I reported to the MTC, they gave me a nametag. It felt strange to wear it at first, but I've slowly gotten used to it, and now it just feels like a part of me. The other day during study, I got distracted looking at it. I have a nametag. It has two names on it, neither belonging to me. The first belongs to my Father, my Grandfather, and so on down the lineage to Hodge himself. The other name belongs to our Savior. This nametag not only represents a notice of my call, but a reminder of my goal. I came out here to earn both of those names. At birth, my Father's name was given to me, but it's not mine yet. At baptism, I promised my willingness to take Christ's name upon me, then years later, I took His name upon me, but it's still not my name. I came here to become worthy of both of those names. For years, the phrase "Return With Honor" was etched on the inside of our front door. The night I was set apart, those were the three words my Grandfather left me with: "Return With Honor." My mom once explained returning with honor as this: "While you are outside the walls of our home, you bear with you a name. A family name. Your Father has done nothing but bring honor to that name and be true to that name. He asks the same of you as his son. Don't do anything that you would not want to be known by your Father's name." I'm here in Virginia to bring honor to that name. I'm here to prove myself as faithful to that name, as diligent towards that name, and as worthy of that name. The same follows with the name of Christ. As a latter day saint, and as a missionary in particular, when I leave the walls of home, I bear with me a name. A royal family name. A hallowed name. A heavenly name. The name of Christ. My Father, my Grandfather, and my Savior have done nothing but bring reverence to that name and be true to that name. They ask the same of me as a son, as a grandson, as a son of the house of Israel, and as a son of God. I should not do anything that I would not want to be known by the name of the church, the name of the gospel, or the name of Christ. I'm here in Virginia to bring honor to that name, to bring honor to my God, to bring honor to my Father and to my Heavenly Father. I am here to prove myself as faithful to that name, as diligent towards that name, and as worthy of that name. I was born and raised with the intention of me going out into the world to bear the name "Hodgson" with honor, respect and dignity. I was born, raised and taught with the intention of me going out into the world to bear with me the name of "Christ" and to share it with all who will listen not only on my mission, but throughout my life. My call is to show that I am worthy of both those names, and to bring honor to both those names, so that, 23 months from now (holy snap) when I return, both my mortal Father and my Heavenly Father will both welcome me with: "Well done, my son. You have borne my name faithfully. Now, take it for yourself and go out into the world, for now your true mission begins." Then with open arms, they will welcome me, assuring me that I have done well. I wish nothing more than to hear both of my Fathers say what every son longs to hear: "I'm proud of you."
What have YOU done with His name? Or with yours for that matter?
Until next time from the city of burnt ashes and monty bells,
Love you all!