Wednesday, September 26, 2012

week 21- some things fall into place

Every once in a while out here, we just have a week where everything falls into place. We work just as hard as we have previously, but the Lord pours out blessings like he hasn't before.
So, where to begin in this busy week...
Last Monday, we went with N to go shopping.  After we returned to our apartment, we talked for a bit in his car since it wasn't curfew yet. At the end of the evening, we asked him to bear his testimony for us. THAT is why I'm a missionary. To hear him testify to us of the things he's come to learn was just amazing. I can't even describe the spirit that was there.
Tuesday we worked hard ... Tuesday evening we were visiting one of our member families, and we got on the subject of music. She is a musician, so she sang a song for us. Then Elder C picked up her ukelele and we sang "how great thou art." We had been messing around with Elder C’s  uke just a few evenings before as we were getting ready for bed, and we had written a small, simple arrangement of it. So, we sang our parts and harmonies, and when we were done, we were hired for our first gig! haha. Yeah, that sister's band was playing at an end of summer party, so she invited us to come sing there and try to meet some people.
Wednesday was work as normal.
Thursday was pretty interesting. We had a lesson with D, who has been reading the book of Mormon. The great thing about D is that he's curious. The horrible thing about D is that he's curious. He had some questions about Joseph Smith and polygamy, and went hog-wild for hours online looking stuff up... It was hard.  We simply invited him to keep reading the book of Mormon and feeling the spirit.
Friday morning, we were doing our planning, when we got a phone call from N. "I'm calling it off." he said. We were totally shocked. He had been so excited, and his mom had agreed to let him get baptized despite her preference. But suddenly, something had happened and he called us off and cancelled it. Then, after  45 minutes, we got another call. "It's back on! I'll see you guys this evening." What an incredible blessing ! That night at his baptism, he shared with us that his parents were really against it, but he felt he needed to do it. After the baptism, He then went on to testify of his faith and how, once he admitted to himself that he knew the truth of the gospel, he couldn't go back on it. "My mom said one thing, and God said another, and I had to make a choice, It was hard." I wonder if I would have the courage and the faith to do something like that. He's totally my hero.
Saturday was busy as ever. The evening ended with our gig. We sang our song, then proceeded to meet several people who were interested or that we had been trying to get in touch with for weeks. It was amazing how the Lord blessed us at that end of summer party.
Sunday was another crazy one. We were in Belmont Ridge ward (which is hour 6 of church for the three of us) and we were called out to the foyer by a lady in our ward. We went out to meet a Chinese couple - a mother and her son - who wanted to talk to us. He knew broken English, and she knew none, but he started out: "We want to learn English, and my mom wants to join your church."  How perfect! So, we got their info and passed it to the mandarin elders because they'll be much better at that than we will. haha. That conversation was in two parts though. About halfway through meeting them, a bunch of people come running out to the foyer: "You need to go! hurry!" Apparently we'd reached the part of the program where Nate gets confirmed... We apologized, ran.  It was a neat experience. We went back out right after and finished our conversation. After church, Bishop Lewis pulled Nate in and interviewed him for the Aaronic Priesthood!.
I've been spending a month and a half trying to teach Elder C that baptisms are no measure of success, and now all these members are excited because of the new member in their ward. It's like trying to teach your young kids to not use the word "stupid" only to then hear an apostle give a talk entitled "don't be stupid."
So, I've decided I've officially been out longer than I realized. We were visiting a less-active in Brambleton, and the radio was on.... I knew like HALF of the songs!!! It was crazy... haha It's funny how things like that happen.
Well, tomorrow we get our transfer calls. More transfers this Thursday. We have NO IDEA what's happening with the trio we have here in Bramble-Bell-Burn. It'll be exciting to find out!
See you on the other side.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

week 20- Bramble-Bell-Burn

Just to answer some "mommy" questions.
I'm still training, and I'm the senior. Even though Elder Call has been out longer than I have, I'm the senior comp of the three since I'm currently training.
Well, things are crazy as ever! This week has been one of ups and downs and more ups and more downs! Sorry we didn't write yesterday. I spent most of my p-day on the couch with a 12-hour flu. I barely got up and was all sluggy, but then as soon as it was time to get out and work again, I was totally fine! It's incredible how things work out here in the mission.
N is all set up for his baptism this Friday, which we're really excited for. He's asked me to perform the baptism, which I'm basically ecstatic about. Then Elder C will be confirming him on Sunday. This is kind of a dream come true. I remember my first weekend out in the field when I met him. I just felt something telling me that he would not only be my first baptism, but a lifelong friend. And so far he has been for all four months... :P haha
Juggling all three wards is turning out to be quite exhausting, but very fulfilling. We are completely swamped going back and forth all the time, but it's a blast! We are trying to memorize a whole new set of names now while at the same time remembering the ones we've learned already, and at the same time trying to find and teach people! Every day seems to be an adventure.
Having a car is also turning out to be a huge blessing. We had been planning to still use bikes as much as possible, but with the busy schedule we've been keeping, we just don't have the time to ride that much. It's pretty much insane.
Overall, things are going well. Often in the mission, people talk about "getting dropped" by the Lord. When we come out as Greenies, we are carried by an increase of the spirit that helps us so much. But eventually, we need to struggle a little more so we can grow a lot more, and that's when we get dropped. I feel like I'm trying to fight off that drop right now, that things are about to get tougher. I just have to keep reminding myself of all the little blessings that we have and all that the Lord is doing for us. Because, when we think about it, the Lord doesn't drop us, he empowers us. The spirit is still there helping us, we just are asked to work harder of ourselves as these new, improved missionaries we are. Anyways, I'll stop rambling, but I just feel like I'm on the verge of a challenge. So please continue to pray for me as I face it with everything I've got.
Congrats to Rachel for winning the Elly!!! That's so cool!!! Speaking of doing a great job acting and convincing people, we need your help... haha. One of the elders from the area saw a picture of you on my wall and thinks you're kinda cute, so we had an idea... Do you think you could write a letter to Elder Call (just send it to the mission home) making it sound like you're totally in love with him? We thought it would be a funny prank to have one of my comps get a letter from you when the other Elder has a bit of a thing for ya... haha. Just go way over the top cheesy. The funnier the better. ;)
My thought from this week comes from a rather... odd... place... haha. We were listening to the Lion King soundtrack the other day (which is approved, in case anyone gasps) and of course we had to go all out cheesy on "can you feel the love tonight" when it came on. Anyways, one of the lines struck me and I just flat out stopped singing and started thinking (something I should probably learn to do more often). Early in the song, Nala sings: "He's holding back, he's hiding. From what I can't decide. Why won't he be the king I know he is, the king I see inside?" It got me thinking about if somebody said that watching me as I travel through my mortal sojurn here. Am I holding something back? Am I hiding something? If so, then what? We were all born to be royalty. Our Heavenly Father is the King of Heaven. We are all Princes and Princesses; heirs in fact. So why can't we be the king He knows we are? He sees a king or a queen inside each of us. Why can't we be that? So often, I feel like a lot of that comes from just not knowing.
King Arthur, at the young age of 18 fathered an illegitimate child by a young country girl who turned out to be set on his destruction. After two decades, the son he never knew he had ,suddenly appears after a full upbringing to hate Arthur. Mordred turned out to be Arthur's downfall. Arthur was at one point known to say: "Had I known who I was to become - who I was born to be - I never would have succumbed to the passion of that moment. I was not behaving as a king should and now, something that seemed to me then so innocuous may very well prove the blight of all Camelot." Simply knowing who Arthur was born to be would have prevented the atrophy and collapse of the entire utopian society he had labored so diligently to build. The same is for us. Simply knowing who we are can prevent us from spending years eating bugs and singing "hakunah matatah" when we should be striving to become who we always knew we were. It is my hope that I can be prepared for the day that I have to return to my own pride rock to face my own scar. Being prepared to be king didn't save Simba from more trial and tribulation and it won't make our lives all honky-dory, but it will provide us with the skills and attributes that we will need to persevere through those trials.
Hope everyone is having a great week!
-Elder Hodgson

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Week 19 –Ets

Well, apparently, I'm not a very good trainer. They sent be back-up this week.
We didn't get to go to Washington D.C. yesterday, but still didn't get to write because we were running a transfer.
It all started a few weeks ago, when Elder J went home for a surgery. He had been serving in Brambleton with Elder C so Elder  C needed a new companion. Enter Elder P  a visa-waiter from India. Apparently the church can only get one-year visas to India, so missionaries spend 2-4 weeks of their mission here in the U.S. waiting for a renewal. Well, visas came through, so Elder Pace is back on a plane to India! Leaving Elder C alone in Brambleton. So.... they combined us!!!
So, we've got 3 elders in 3 areas.... We're calling it Bramble-Bell-burn. :D
We have ward conference in 2 of the 3 wards this week... haha
I'm glad that Rebecca had fun at EFY, and that you all had fun in Tahoe, and hearing about Rachel's dance class was so amazing! That sounds so cool how you helped serve with it!! I'm proud to call you all my family.
Rebecca is doing EFY in Fiji next year?!?! No way!!! That's sweet! I'll have to let Elder R know... He'll be there come april... maybe you could meet him!
Btw, I have a picture of Rachel, Rebecca and I, and they're starting to draw the attention of some Elders out here.... It's kinda funny :P Y'uns are beautiful :) (I just learned "y'uns." apparently, it's "bergian" (from fredricksburg) for "You ones")
Grandma and Grandpa, I also wanted to thank  you for your help with the mission. I appreciate it so much..
This week has been another busy one... I think the highlight was when N’s  mom gave us an open invite to their home. It was a great feeling that the spirit had touched her in a way that she felt comfortable around us and particularly with us around N. He is very close with his mom, which is great, so we really were hoping she wouldn't be opposed to us once she met us. Just another small testimony that prayers are answered.
We've been trying many new finding strategies too. Since school just started, we figured we'd try meeting kids as they leave high school... We've since abandoned that strategy. It's really good at finding a whole lot of female potentials who turn out to have zero interest in the gospel. It's really frustrating. You know what works though? Using members, prayer, and priesthood keys. I think we'll stick with that. ;)
We had a bit of an adventure last weekend. Saturday night, we were in the Leesburg Elder's car as they took us to introduce us to a person they met in our area.
Anyways, we were pulling back into the church parking lot when Hurricane Isaac hit. We didn't get anything too bad like some people, but we parked the car, and looked up at the clouds, which were quite the sight. We were leaning out the window and enjoying it for about 15 seconds when a few raindrops started sprinkling down. Then we saw the clouds shifting really fast and really.... much.... we tucked back in the car, and rolled up the windows as a rumble shot across the parking lot at us. Just as we got in, we saw it come flying across the parking lot. It was literally like a wall of water. WHAM!! It rocked that poor Malibu like a linebacker ran into it. Literally, the entire car was rocked by the rain and wind hitting it.
So, we did what anyone would do. We got out and ran..... to the church. We made it inside just as the power went out, and watched as mother nature did her thing. Sprays of water were hitting the church building even under a 20-25 foot overhang. It was amazing. Then, we realized we left the car on. So, of course I ended up running out in that madness and parking the car, then running back in. The entire parking lot was seriously an inch and a half of water, and it has a pretty intense drain system.
Turns out we didnt' even get the worst of it. In Chantily, a tornado touched down and ran up, across the Potomac, into Maryland and out to the Atlantic! And in Centreville, they recorded 1/2 dollar sized hail! It was quite the sight.
Later that night, we came home to a dark complex. The power was completely gone. Elder C  did not feel well, so went straight to bed. I wrote in my journal by flashlight, got ready for bed, and even ended up showering in the pitch black! I only lost the soap once, so it wasn't too bad... haha.
It's been an eventful week, and we're ready for another in all 3 wards!
One sad thing I've noticed is how little there is to commemorate today. 11 years ago today, our nation was hit with a tragedy, and even here, so close to where one of the planes hit, there's almost no recognition of it. PLEASE do your best to keep in mind what our history is, and how remembering it can shape our future.
Earlier this week, I saw another strange phenomenon. I'm not even sure what to call it other than "dry rain." We were riding, and my face was getting hit with raindrops, but when I looked at the ground beneath me, it was completely dry. It wasn't too unusual I guess. I mean, from a meteorology standpoint, it's quite easy to explain, but it fascinated me. It caught my attention just enough to get me thinking (which isn't hard to do when riding a bike for a long time). I began thinking of it in terms of the atonement. Imagine for a moment that you are the ground. Now imagine that rain falling upon you is like sin. What even 5 minutes ago was a clean, light piece of concrete is now beginning to be covered in little dots. They stand out. They show. Some even splash and look messy. Eventually, the entire surface is covered, and the concrete is cold, slippery and dark. When the sun affects the sidewalk though, everything changes. The water evaporates, and the concrete is just as it was before. JUST as it was before. Maybe the process of rain and evaporation even cleared away some smudges of dirt too. The point is that through the atonement, or when we let the Son affect us, we can be made completely spotless, light, and warm again. Just like we were before. I received a letter a few weeks ago in which the author spoke on this subject a bit too: "With the atonement, we can be COMPLETELY clean." They said. "When I'm standing before the Savior, I'll just be a mess, blubbering about all these things I did, and He'll just say... 'what are you talking about?'" Because we used His atonement, we will look as if the rain never even hit us. Imagine now that we use the atonement even more consistently. We can't avoid sin anymore than concrete can avoid getting rained on, but if we keep the warmth of the atonement close to us, if we use it daily, sin has the same effect as "dry rain." It doesn't even stick. It rains, sometimes it even pours, but we are unchanged. We know our purpose, we know who we are, and we dont' let it affect us. We can look as dry and be as dry as we were the day we were baptized ALL THE TIME as long as we keep the Savior close to us. We're mortal, so we can never avoid the sin, but we have the ability to clean it up almost the second it hits. That I can improve at this, and that we all can get closer to the Savior is my prayer.
Love you all. Let me know how I can serve you. I didn't come here to get bored, and sometimes the hardest work we do is on our knees.
-Elder  Hodgson

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

WEEK 18-Life's a happy song

Well, here we are again! Sorry this is a day late, all the libraries were closed yesterday for Labor Day...
Well, this week was another crazy busy week that ended with us looking at our numbers and going: "Really?! That's ALL we have to show for it?" haha. It was funny.
I went on another exchange this week with my district leader, Elder L. He's awesome and I learned a lot from him. We did some really good work together, and Elder C got to spend a day in an area with a car.
We also had a mini-zone-conference this week, where we got to hear from our leaders, including a new Assistant! That was pretty exciting. Elder Parker and Elder Johnson have been the Assistants as long as I've been here, so having Elder Parker gone and Elder Westover there was kind of weird at first, but it turned out great. Elder Johnson goes home at the end of this transfer, so we'll have yet another new assistant!
Elder C is doing great. Still very "green" in some aspects, but he's picking up much faster than I felt like I did. That's one thing that's nice about training is that he makes it really easy.
We had an elder from the next-door area go home last Friday. He had to go home for a surgery and we're hoping to have him back soon, but it was still weird to see him go.
Also, just a heads up, we're probably going to D.C. next pday, so I may or may not be able to email... we'll find out...
I think the big story this week is N. Wednesday, when I was on the exchange with Elder L, we met with him because he said he was having a rough day and needed some friends. So, we shared a message about prayer and finding comfort in trials, and challenged him to pray and ask specifically if God knew who he was and if he had a plan for him. We asked him to read Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8 after. Apparently, he pulled over on the drive home and did it. He said he just felt so warm and comforted and peaceful, and he was just much more calm about everything going on after that. After that, we didn't get to see him until Sunday. We went to his old church that morning, mostly so we could meet his parents. It went very well. His parents were pretty much just like him: friendly, genuine and warm to be around. Just wonderful people. After meeting them, we ran off to Ashburn ward's sacrament meeting, then went through the rest of our day. N came to Belmont Ridge that afternoon, and that evening, he, Elder Cannon and I went to a fireside at the mission home. The fireside went really well. There were two recent converts who spoke, followed by Elder J (the soon to be outgoing assistant), Sister Riggs, and concluding with President Riggs. The spirit was very strong and we all came out very moved. On the drive home, he said that the concerns the recent converts had had were very similar to his, and it helped him to feel like he wasn't alone in that aspect. He also shared that he wanted to continue proceeding in the gospel, but was just so afraid of not being perfect in it, and he wanted to really jump in 100% and be completely committed and was worried that he might not be perfect at that either. So, letting the spirit guide us, we shared how the atonement allows us to be free of fear from imperfection. As long as we're doing our best, continually turning to the Savior and repenting of our shortcomings, that's all He asks. We were also prompted to share stories from Joseph Smith's life of mistakes he made and how he knew that he could still be forgiven. The conversation bounced all over the place, but the spirit was with us the whole time, helping us to know what to say, and in the end, N said it all. He began to bear testimony of how he was believing more and more the things we had taught. His faith was growing slowly, and he had even found himself recently bearing testimony to his mom of the first vision. Long story short, he's back on the calendar to be baptized. He feels a much stronger desire now and feels much more ready to commit himself to it, knowing that mistakes don't mean immediate and irreparable failure. We're really excited and really grateful that we were living and working in a way that the spirit was able to speak through us the way it did.
Then, we walked back into our apartment to find we had missed multiple calls and text from both District Leader and Zone Leaders asking for our numbers... haha. We were promptly forgiven after they heard where we were ;) haha.
That's pretty much it. We're living the good life, and enjoying the work. It's just sad to me how quickly the weeks go by.
Talk to you all soon!
-Elder Hodgson
Love you all!!! Happy Late-bor Day!