Wednesday, January 30, 2013

week 39- DC trip and Viginia in the snow

This week has been busy as usual! Lots of fun stuff going on! Changes going into play, rumors of transfers flying about, and here we all are, still moving forward the work of the Lord. Miracles have been happening mission wide since the missionary department was here, and many of the Lords children are finding access to the atonement like never before.
            Something happened this week in church that just about made my life. I do not say it to boast of me but tell of how the Lord can use us.   I've felt since early on when I was transferred here that my job was to get the member missionary work moving forward. When I arrived there were some burnt bridges and some members were cold, gossiping, and even stand-offish. We had such blessings with member work in the last area that I identified it quickly as something that needed a boost, and the Lord has blessed us with guidance and comfort as my companions and I have worked to repair past damages.  Some events have happened and some kind and loving things said and we see bridges mending and changes happening.  One man who had been offended even said he was to write the president and ask if we could finish out our missions here.
It has been such a huge blessing to us and testifies to  the work  we have done here over the past three months.
It seems like it didn't come a moment too soon, as I likely won't be in Vienna next week. Transfer calls haven't come yet, but President Riggs called Elder N to ask him a couple of questions, and E. N says he doubts I'll be staying... It's a bummer, because I love this ward and the people we work with, and things are really starting to move. With our member exchanges, and our FHE programs, we're excited for the future of this area.
This week was another milestone in my mission.... First bike ride in the snow!!! So far, We've managed to schedule well enough that we're walking or getting rides when it's snowy, but last week we were just flat out riding in the falling snow, and mom; I got a picture. :D There really is something beautiful about snow. As if Virginia isn't beautiful enough as it is. Suddenly, when everything is white and pure, and the majority of people are inside, and the muffled sounds leaves you to your own thoughts and the soft crunching of your tires, It's just beautiful.
Yesterday, our district went to D.C. for the day, and it was one of the coolest trips I've taken! A member of our ward works in the office of Senator Lee from Utah, and they hooked us up! We got a behind the scenes tour and saw all sorts of stuff we normally couldn't see. It was probably almost a 4 hour tour with all sorts of history and information and awesomeness! It was amazing! We got to go in "senator only" places, and even got to go to the Senate's gift shop (which is much better priced than the rest of D.C. I might add). It was awesome!
I'm still trying to ship your Christmas stuff. There's one more thing I can't find a box to ship it in, but it's coming....
Our district meetings have been really good lately! We've been doing a lot of practice teaching with the things that we learned from the Missionary Department meeting, and it's very eye opening how simple this gospel can really be taught. Practicing more and more just seems to help me realize that more and more. It's definitely true that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Such simple truths can change lives so drastically. It's incredible to be a part of it.
Well, rumors are definitely true. 5-week transfers are likely on the horizon... Still RUMOR though. We'll know for sure before long. Many area splits and double-companionships are on their way. It's an exciting time to be here in the mission field. It's a blessing to be a part of the Lord's great work.
I hope everyone is well! We'll talk to you soon! With some transfer news!
-Elder Hodgson

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

week 38- Its all real !

Another week come and gone! And the work continues! It's certainly been an exciting week here in the D.C. South Mission!

The week started with a pretty normal couple of days. We had lots of excitement this weekend though, for sure!

First off, I'm not sure if there's anything more exciting than a mission call that was made this week! Sister Rachel Hodgson received her mission call this week to the Hawaii Honolulu Mission! How exciting is that?! Another really cool thing about that is we both submitted our papers on the same day!! January 8th of consecutive years! Though, she got her call 2 days faster than I did..... grumble grumble.. haha except not. I'm way excited for her!

Wednesday night was another pretty exciting thing... I got a text from the Zone Leaders: "Hey, Elder Hodgson, can you come with Elder T and us to a meeting tomorrow with the missionary department?" Whaaaat? I was a little confused... Elder T is our District Leader.

So, Thursday morning, I hopped in a car with one Zone Leader and two District Leaders and went to a meeting with Brother Donaldson and Brother Wade from the missionary department. Upon arriving, I found I wasn't the only one there without a leadership position, so I felt a little more at home. haha It was a fantastic meeting. We talked about new ways to look at our role as missionaries and new techniques to teaching investigators and less active members. We also received some special training on how to conduct chapel tours and involve and prepare members to help with the work. We all feel very strongly that these new views of the "mundane" things we do will help our mission to get to places that it's never been before. It was a huge blessing to be able to attend that meeting.

This week, we've also had a push, led by our fearless Ward Mission Leader, Brother F to help us have more member exchanges, so we can cover twice as much ground, but only in cars. We're excited for that, too, because there are some areas here in Vienna that are, quite simply, treacherous for cyclists...

The last special story is that in church on Sunday, I was treated to a little surprise! We're sitting in the chapel, waiting for Sacrament Meeting to start, when in walks N and S!! N and S were in my first area, and N is the first person I was blessed to see enter the waters of baptism, and a lifelong friend. It was a huge blessing to have them join us for a bit. They were only able to stay for 2 hours, but it was fantastic to be able to see them :)

Finally, I just wanted to share something that has been on my mind recently. This gospel is real. Really, it is, it's real. We often say we know this gospel is true, but when I thought about it, and asked myself if I know it's real. My testimony grew. Think about all that entails. Prayer, is real. Fasting, is real. The scriptures are real accounts, written by real people, about real events. Alma, Nephi, Moroni, Ammon, the prayers they offered, the sacrifices they made, the stories they lived for us, they're all real. It all really happened. And it all really happens today like it did then. The prophetic announcement of the age-change for missionaries is a real revelation that a real prophet received from a real God. It's all real. And it strengthened me immensely when I finally admitted that to myself.

I hope everyone is well! God Bless You!

-Elder Hodgson

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

week 37- "called to Serve"

Another week gone by, and the O-Zone is hopping! We have been tracting like crazy to get those FHE invites out, and even have done member exchanges to help do it! We're REALLY excited about this! Some people ,even on meeting them once ,are getting excited to come and are really nice! It's funny, normally the tracting approach involves something along the lines of trying to get in to teach a lesson or teach one on the doorstep. But with the FHE invites, they crack the door all suspicious-like and we just "Hi! We only have a quick second, but just wanted to let you know you're neighbors are inviting you to a Family Home Evening! It'll be in about a month, and will include activities, desert and a spiritual thought, and we'll have a more formal invitation for you in about a week." Suddenly 1) the missionaries are not trying to bust in through the door 2) are inviting to something friendly and 3) they know we're coming back and are ok with it :) I can't wait to see what happens when we start bringing the formal invites! We have a lot of faith people will not just be cracking the door suspiciously. ;)
             Zone Conference was amazing. I learned so much and received some powerful personal revelation on what I can do to become a better missionary, companion, priesthood holder, person, and even husband and father. It's amazing how we show up to just "talk about missionary work" and we can come out so spiritually nourished. The Lord really doesn't have to stick to the confines of our expectations, and I'm so glad, because what I think I can become ,and what He knows I can become are very different haha. What a huge blessing.
           Saturday was the Stake Breakfast. President Wheatley of the Oakton Stake hosted President , and all the missionaries, Ward Mission Leaders and Bishops of the stake to have breakfast, socialize and coordinate/report missionary efforts. It was way cool! I'd never seen anything like it before.
          Yesterday, for dinner, the activity day girls from our ward fed us and four other missionaries dinner. We came in and tables were set with centerpieces and handmade placemats, and they had dinner all ready with soup, salad and dessert! It was fantastic! They did such a great job! Afterwards, as they were cleaning up, we sang "Called to Serve" for them. It was way fun :)
Singing "Called to Serve" is a tradition we have when anyone feeds a group of missionaries. It's always been a fun thing to do, but last week at Zone Conference, it hit me in a way I never thought before. As I was looking around the room, I saw dozens of missionaries singing our missionary national anthem a capella, all dressed in suits and something just clicked. It had been a long week with a sick companion, and not many people home when we were able to get out. I was starting to feel like we weren't getting anything done. But as we were singing, I realized that we're a lot more than just the people who go out and teach. We're a symbol to others out there. President  talked at Zone Conference about how we are ALWAYS teaching no matter what we're doing. As long as we're around somebody, we're teaching them something... What we teach them is up to us, but we're always teaching.
        Suddenly, that just made sense when we were singing. Even if nobody is home and we're just out knocking on doors all day, we're still teaching. We teach that this gospel is important to us. We teach members of the ward that we're willing and ready to work hard to serve our God. More than that, we teach that - as prophesied by Joseph Smith - the truth of God will go forth nobly, boldly and independent until the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.
     You see, as a missionary, we're not just out walking around. We're part of a force that is moving forward, with more haste now as more missionaries are coming to the field. We're part of prophecy, we're part of history. We're part of a team. And with the Savior at the head, it's a pretty good team to be on.
Love you all! Talk to you next week!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

WEEK 36- This is the night we've waited for...( sung with Vigor)

So, lots to update people on! I'll do this as quickly and as efficiently as possible. December 20th was transfers. I stayed in Vienna with My new companion Elder O. L. N (He goes by L) from Folsom, New Mexico. Elder M moved to B with Elder C. That first weekend, I showed Elder  N around the area, tried to have him meet everyone, etc before Christmas hit. Christmas Eve was a "super p-day" because it was p-day with a "no proselyting" rule in the evening. The B family had us for dinner on Christmas eve, and the H family was there, too (the family that the Hargadons know).

Christmas was similar. We were told to treat it like a P-Day. We went to skype in the morning with family at the P family home. The Ps are an awesome family of four who homeschool and are very friendly. Their second son, J  got a stuffed Buffalo for Christmas and has named it "Hodgson." He also says that when I'm done with my mission I need to come back and go camping with him because all those "dumb mission rules" won't let me do that now haha. They're a great family.

Christmas Dinner was with the L Family. Sister L is a single mom, so she invited the P family to come join. Brother P said he couldn't come, so she suddenly got worried because she didn't have an adult man to be there during the dinner. When 6:00 came and she still didn't have one, she walked outside and invited a passerby to dinner! That is how we met MR B. Brother P  actually ended up showing up to dinner, so I see the whole thing as a little miracle to get us to meet MR B. Over dinner conversations (which was mostly in spanish, with participants from Guatemala, Bolivia and Honduras), Byron agreed to take the discussions and we set an appointment for that .  We are hoping to see him again soon.

The next week we stayed busy, but it seemed like everyone was out of town. I guess those days between Christmas and New Years are considered "vacation" or something like that... haha

New Years eve, we watched "Up" and "Brave" for our two movies and had a blast. That was another "super p-day" due to the "no proselyting after 5:00" rule.

On my birthday, President Riggs called to sing, and since it was Zone Leader Council, I got sung to by all the ZLs!  That was pretty exciting. Elder Newkirk took me to breakfast at ihop and made a cake, and our district went to Cafe Rio for lunch, AND we taught a lesson! People are starting to be home again!!! haha It was exciting.

This week, We had Zone Training Tuesday, then we have Zone Conference tomorrow, then Zone breakfast Saturday! So, lot's of zone things in the morning times. It's cool though, the O-Zone is awesome :)

The big event in missionary work is our upcoming Family Home Evening. Bro F(our Ward Mission Leader) brought this amazing card into play. We found a family in our ward who is willing to host a FHE and we're going around their neighborhood inviting their neighbors to come. Bro F has done this before and has a whole system worked out where we essentially tract the neighborhood four times in a month (only returning to promising houses) and by the end of it, some people come! It's a very safe thing, but it shows that the people who come are 
 1) ok with going somewhere to a neighbor’s house 
 2) ok with knowing there will be a spiritual thought
3) ok with the Mormon missionaries being there
 4) they still come. We're really excited and have a lot of faith that it will be a good way to find some people who want to know about who we are and what we believe.  We feel it is so important in our lives we want to share it.

That's basically the update... .. there's been lots of other little lessons and doors knocked, but that's the  news! I hope everyone is well! There's like 5 pretty intense bugs going around. Missionaries are dropping like flies (there's a reason I'm emailing on Thursday this week).
Luckily I have avoided them…swat , swat…..

Everybody say no to drugs and say yes to daily scripture study!

And never refuse homemade brownies or prayers on your behalf. :)

-Elder Hodgson