Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 47 -"it won't always be like this"

It won't always be like this: Those were the words that President Riggs started off our Zone Conference with. And this week, they've rung so true to me.

Monday was the first example of this being true. Last Monday, one year to the day from when I first pulled my hamstring, I was finally able to play a full game of basketball without limping off the court. I remember so many times in the past year thinking I was just going to have to settle with always having a limp, but the Lord has come through and I'm experiencing a full recovery. :) I definitely wasn't at the top of my game though.... :P

Tuesday, we had a zone training with... well, the zone. Elder C is in our zone now, which is way fun! I've hardly seen him since I finished training him, and it's awesome to see him doing so well.

Wednesday was Zone Conference, which President opened with those words: "It won't always be like this." The only thing you can count on, he said, was change. There are few things in this mortal world that are absolute, but one is change. Things will not always be like this. If things are good, that's great! But, they won't always be. If things are tough, stay strong, because things won't always be like that either.

Zone Conference was also fun because I got to see a ton of people I used to know! Or... still do know actually, but haven't seen in a while. Elder R, who was one of my trainers,  is on his last transfer  and was there. some other Elders I've come to love who you wouldn't recognize names of... haha And my MTC companion, Elder R was there, too! I'm pretty sure it was the first non-transfer meeting I've seen him at! He has some  new developments as well! One of the Mt. Vernon Zone Leaders injured his knee and is home on sick leave, and Elder R was  called to be a Zone Leader by ET ( emergency transfer) ! He was crazy nervous, but is leading his zone very well. He's always been one to accept any challenge the Lord throws his way with a smile.. It's getting harder and harder for the Lord to challenge him... haha

One other thing President Riggs said at zone conference that stood out to me. He spoke about how the Lord gives us what we really want. One of the examples he used was: "if you really want to find new investigators, you will find new investigators." Finding has always been something that I am just not able to do. I get out, I work hard, I talk to people about the gospel, I teach many people about our church…but I have not found someone…someone who wants to hear what we believe and wants to change their lives.  . So, I concluded that I simply don't want to find enough... That I was happy working hard, serving, and teaching people others had found.  Well, that certainly wasn’t for me! So, I spent the next day or two recommitting myself to finding, and sure enough, when I want it more, it happens!!! Thursday evening, we went out and hit the ground running with a firmer desire to find, and we came back that evening with Friday, Saturday and Sunday all FILLED with return appointments!! It was amazing!

Oh! At the Zone Conference, I also won the ironman award!!!   It's the award given to the missionary who has been the longest consecutively on bike :)  It is an honor  J

So, Friday, we received some sad news. I got a phone call from President Riggs letting me know that Heidi Greenwood had passed away. It was very sad news, and I just want to let the Greenwood family and all of Heidi's friends know that they're in my prayers. Incredibly enough, I had chosen Friday to wear a purple tie...  The world will miss that amazing young lady.

So, I decided after the loss of a friend, the best thing to do was go work hard... so, after dedicating my missionary day to Heidi, we went out, and in the next 3 hours we found 2 new investigators, contacted a referral, sent a referral and put someone on date for baptism. It was amazing!  I know she is the ultimate missionary now and I must work hard to make her proud.

The coolest finding story was Ambrose. We were riding to an apartment complex we often spend time in. On our way there, a random man asked for a pen. He starting writing a note, and by some miracle, he read it aloud as he wrote it. He wrote (and said) his address, and, miracle number 2, I recognized it by memory as the address of an investigator who we haven't been able to contact in a while. I asked him about her, and found out more than I wanted to know, but definitely what I needed to know. After stories of armed muggings, missing apartment keys, etc. We decided it is not safe to continue trying to contact this woman. So, we went our separate ways, and a little bit down the road, I felt like we should follow the man. I brushed the thought aside, but then it returned stronger. "Elder, there are children at the park down the street and I want them safe from  that man." Pivoting on one foot, I simply said to Elder Porter: "We're going this way." Picking up our paces, He said "yes we are" and we hurried up and over a hill into view of the park. At the top of the hill, we were by a new road we hadn't been by. We did not see the man but hung around for awhile and made our presence known.  We stood searching for him for a bit, then deciding the children in the park were all safe, we turned to return. "Elders!" We suddenly hear as a car pulls up. Ambrose leaned out the window and asked if Elder Church was around. Elder Church has been home for months and hasn't served here in Annandale in over a year. We told him he'd be stuck with us now, and he said that was great and invited himself to church!! Then he just drove off. Elder Porter and I just looked at each other and said "I'll never understand how God works. I'm just gonna hang on and enjoy the ride." It was incredible, how we were brought to where we needed to be in the park with the children and by that road to meet Ambrose when he needed us.

Anyways, long story short, it won't always be like this. Just tell yourself that whenever things are good as a reminder or whenever things are bad as a comfort. Until this week, I was the missionary who couldn't find. It won't always be like that. It's snowing today. It won't always be like that. The work is going well  in the mission field. And I love my companion….. It won't always be like that. But the most comforting of all, is though we trudge through the ups and downs of mortality, suffering pains and losses - like our sweet Heidi - we can always find comfort in this frightening world we live in with this simple phrase: It won't always be like this.

-           With love, Elder Hodgson

Monday, March 18, 2013

week 46 - weighing the odds

What are the odds of two sets of missionaries, a mail man and and ice cream man all converging on the same apartment complex at once?

Well, apparently they're good enough, because it happened this week!! It was so funny. We were knocking on doors in the complex when the singles ward sisters showed up to check on a referral, then the ice cream man decided to join in right as the mailman was delivering!

It was kind of funny, too. I jokingly asked the mailman if he had any mail for us. "not today" he said, very seriously... I looked at him, and he said. "you live on commons dr, right? 4712? Number 302?" I wasn't sure whether to be impressed or creeped out.

We've been doing a lot of "cleaning out" of our area book, which means lots of work, lots of riding, lots of knocking on doors, and lots of people explaining to us why they stopped meeting with missionaries and why they don't want to again... It's a work that needs to be done periodically, but you have to be okay with biting it on numbers... haha we still actually did very well this week though!

We had an investigator who showed up in church yesterday from Moldova!!! It was so cool! I got to hear a little Russian!

We were at a members house last night doing a family visit, and one of the families from the Ashburn ward was there. That was way fun. little "full circle" feeling moment.  Gotta Love the mission!!

Oh, they switched my district up, too! They pulled the sisters we had and switched them with sisters from another district, so I have different sisters now! haha The singles ward sisters got moved to the district leader who used to cover GMU so they could get work on campus moving, so we're way excited

Pretty much, this week has been moving steadily. Next week is gonna fly though!!! We have zone training AND zone conference! Looking at my planner, the entire next week is almost full!!! I'm not sure how we're going to add  anything we find during the week! All I know is that the Lord provides a way and that His work gets done.

I'm just excited to see how He does it this week :D

Love you all!

-Elder Hodgson

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WEEK 45 - training again

Hey Everyone! Lots of  fun news this week! haha I'll get typing! first of all, I forgot to include the police story last week... It wasn't anything too exciting. We were just trying to drop off a BofM to a family that requested one at the D.C. Temple visitor’s center, and they called the cops on us. We assumed they weren't home and started riding away, and the cops tracked us down and pulled us over! they asked what we were in the area for and we told them, and they're like: "Oh! Well, they're home they just got scared. They're definitely there though if you want to go back." So we did! haha and delivered it successfully.

My last week with Elder Ray was an adventure! we had Zone sports last P-day, and I played and my leg didn't kill me the day after!!! I was so excited!!

Last Tuesday was I think my favorite district meeting so far.   We talked a lot about resolving concerns and how people's concerns are like icebergs. We can only see a little bit of them. Then we practice taught the rest of the time! I had written all these little slips of paper with concerns on them and the "investigators" would draw them from a hat, and they would use the Spirit to resolve that concern. It was way cool!

Then came transfer calls... And I was asked to train again!!! Which is awesome, because i LOVE training!!! Wednesday night, the power went out, so I gave myself a haircut in the dark 5 minutes before the lights came back on... haha

Then Thursday was transfers!! We showed up ready to go, and sure enough they had LOTS of new missionaries!!! It was awesome!!! We started with the trainers meeting, which was great, and something else totally blew my mind! There was this sister there who was training who just got here last transfer!!! She's been out here FIVE WEEKS and she's training!!! She's not even done getting trained yet herself!!! It blew my socks off, I was amazed.

Some funny anecdotes from transfers... There's one Elder, named Elder Boucher. President was having trouble pronouncing his name, and some missionaries in the crowd were coaching him: "It's [boo-share] in spanish and [boo-shay] in french, etc." I couldn't resist: "Or, there's [bow-chur] in american..." President Riggs has since called him Elder [Bow-chur].... haha

Another good one.... President was laying down the rules for Elder/Sister relationships more clearly for all of us... He began by stating the rules. Then he continued... "Now, this time is a perfect time to make LOTs of friends, and when you're home from your missions? Heck, I don't care, go for it! I'd LOVE to have mission babies!!!..... AFTER your missions are over!...." haha I don't think I've ever seen Sister Riggs so embarrassed....

More news as far as the mission split, and the long and short of the new news is: there is no new news. President Riggs explained to us his communications with Salt Lake, and the expectations they've given him for his mission. the expectations are as following: 1) Each ward in the mission will have 2 sets of missionaries 2) there will be 250 missionaries in the mission. As the mission is now with 8 stakes, 2 sets of missionaries in each ward would accommodate 360 some odd missionaries. So, there was definitely some writing on the wall there. What we know is that with the 6 remaining stakes after the split on July 1st, we will still have the capacity to fill our mission with 250 missionaries. We have 200 right now. President hasn't received any news as to whether he will be able to pull back his missionaries in those zones, or if they're going to drop our mission to about 150 and start slowly rebuilding it again.... They said 250 by summer, and with the split and inflow of missionaries we know we have over the next two transfers, 250 in the D.C. South mission would only be accomplishable by summer if we could keep all our missionaries. So, according to what we know, it looks hopeful, but still no concrete news....

The work here in Annandale has been crazy! We had few lessons this week, but got 4 referrals! Which is more than I think I've ever gotten in a full transfer!!!  Another funny story... We have a Family History missionary in our ward.... We also have a korean clothing store called "TRY" in the area. He though he'd go shopping there the other day only to find out it's Korean lengerie... imagine a lone missionary walking into a shop like that... must have looked funny!

So, like I said earlier, I'm training again! My new companion is Elder P . He's great! A little quiet at first, but a natural teacher and friend. One great story from yesterday. His bike hasn't shown up yet.... so, he's on mine right now and I have another... yes, after 10 months together, my bike and I have separated... She's with another man now... :'( haha but anyways, he blew a tire yesterday... so, we started carrying the bikes back towards home to replace the tube and someone pulled up in front of us. I thought it was a member offering a ride at first, but she was the only one in the car, and didn’t look like she could fit bikes... so, we'd still be walking. Then, she pulls up: "Hey, are you Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses?" We responded with the correct answer :) She then told us of a friend who was in the hospital who really needs God right now, and gave us her info, then drove off. Elder Porter just nodded his head and said: "yeah, that's why the tire popped." haha the Lord works in mysterious ways... He needed SOME way for us to be there right then... We'll be visiting this man, . Please keep him in your prayers.

Another funny thing... I have sister missionaries in my district now! It's weird having phone contact with sisters... I'm always stressing myself out: "Where's the line? How much is friendly, supportive district leader, and how much comes across as something else?  I think we are all good, but just weird at first.  They're a great addition to the group.

So, yeah, things are busy as ever! Between service, work, bike riding, and daylight savings, we're pretty wiped... But all is well! Ward Conference yesterday was great and we're getting REALLY excited for General Conference in a few weeks!!!

btw, two GREAT new mormon messages came out recently :) go check 'em out!!!

Love you all! See you next week!

-Elder Hodgson