Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Week 51- everything is turning Green!

Everything is turning green! I mean that in multiple ways.   The mission is getting more and more new people, thus turning green, and Virginia is turning green, too!!! I LOVE the green summers here, and I'm SOOOO excited for it to be bright green again!
So, this was pretty much a crazy week. Remember how I said I loved training and biking? and how I liked serving as district leader? Remember how I said that Elder Porter and I would likely stick together and that since we were training, we were some of the safest from the grasping hand of transfers? Yeah, apparently the Lord had other plans. haha

So, Sunday night, I got a call from President Riggs. He's a busy man, so that usually means something is going down. Yup, something went down. I'm no longer on bike. I'm no longer training, and no longer district leader.  He asked me if I would accept the call to serve as a Zone leader, and my first response was: "does that mean I can't train?" “haha He said ,not right now”. So, I told him yes. I know where his revelation comes from and I'm always willing to respond to a call from the Lord.

Monday was P-day, Tuesday was packing, and Wednesday was transfers! The. Most. Intense. Transfer. Meeting. I. Have. Ever. Been. To. President started out by talking for like twenty minutes about change, then made "the announcement.": In mid-June, the mission will be splitting, and those in the Fredericksburg and Woodbridge zones will be switched to the Virginia, Richmond mission. That being a transfer and a half away, for those moving this transfer, if you move to one of those zones, odds are you will be in the Richmond mission. I've never felt so anxious during transfers. I knew I was going to be serving as a Zone Leader, so that meant I was going to 1 of 8 areas, 2 of which meant Richmond. So, 25% chance of getting transferred to a different mission! In the end, I got put in the LAST zone they read off, but I ended up staying here in D.C. South. It was so hard to see some of these wonderful missionaries I've come to love getting sent to another mission. President choked up a bit and just grimaced as he read those zones, too. It was so hard. He was asked to run transfers as if there was no split happening, and he did. Elder Ravia went home this transfer, too, so that was hard to see him go.

I am now serving as a Zone Leader with Elder Jared P in the Centreville zone. And, get this, I'm in the Manassas 1st ward!!! MANASSAS!!! Isn't that sweet! The Civil War freak inside of me is totally geeking out. It's a new zone I've never been to, and it's beautiful out here! It's green and warm and pretty! And Elder Pyne is awesome. He served as my Zone Leader back in Ashburn for a couple transfers, and now he's showing me the ropes! It's great to have a teacher like him. It's definitely been exciting, too! Since I've gotten here - in addition to working hard in our proselyting area - we've already run many errands, helped many missionaries with things, and just stayed crazy busy! Organization is another thing I'm working on learning... haha

Turns out, too, Elder P knows the Clarks!!! They used to be neighbors back in Cedar Hills! haha

Pretty awesome!

Well, we had another adventure, too. Saturday night, we found out we had an apartment inspection this morning... So, after some mad cleaning (previous elders didn't keep it too clean), we managed to scrape by! But, that means I have less time to email today... We have zone sports, and we have the building key...

Know I love you! Know I'm working hard! Know that the Lord has the real plan, not us. President said  and I  wanted to keep me training, but here I am, smiling, serving and LOVING this new opportunity to serve in the newly green Virginia!

-Elder Hodgson

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Week 50- Wait...did I just say 50????

Another busy week here in the mission field!! Lots of memories and tests and trials and blessings. But, that's just how missionary work is.

Last Monday, we went into D.C. It was a blast! The Cherry Blossoms were out and so were lots of people! haha. Oh, and mom, I took some pictures :) A few of the elders we went  with wanted to go shopping, so Elder P and I broke off from the group to go see the Jefferson Memorial. That one has always been one of my favorites. It was warm and beautiful, and I was grateful to be wearing a short-sleeved shirt! One of my favorite things about being in D.C. is... well, just being in D.C. I just absolutely LOVE it there!

We also had the opportunity to peek in the air and space museum. We were hoping to catch an IMAX film (which is approved, provided it's about nature or history), but didn't have enough time. Oh! and we met Miss Virginia, too! haha I guess they were taking the National Beauty Pageant contestants on a tour...

People just make me laugh, can I say that? A group of us were sitting down for a moment resting our feet, when this guy walked up to us. "So, are you the Mormons?" We replied in the affirmative. "So," he said, "Why aren't you on some street corner spitting or something?" Seeing very clearly what was coming and what his intentions were, we casually responded. "Oh, we're just tourists today." "Oh, well, that's too bad. Because this lady over here [pointing at his wife] wants to be baptized!" That's an old strategy that people use to make us look like idiots supposing that we  would just  “jump” to baptize someone. We just calmly responded. "Well, we're willing to help." Well, that didn't work for him... New strategy. "Where are you all from?" So, we went through the list. Arkansas, California, Arizona, Mexico, no dice. Utah; ah, there's one he can dwell on. "Oh! I hope you're not from West Jordan!" Nope... Some obscure place in Utah... So, he makes us continue down the list... Another Mexico, Idaho. Oh! another one! "Good place with a lot of mormons." He says before dwelling on that for a bit. Finally, he gives us the big one. "Have any of you ever read [insert anti book] before? You should give it a shot, let it test your faith a bit." I've read enough of that book to know how incorrect it is, but before I could say anything, Elder N jumps in. "Have you ever read the Book of Mormon? You should let it build yours." He started making some excuse or other before his wife ran over and dragged him away with a red face. I just don't get it. People make such a great effort to try to humiliate us young boys ( and ladies) . All we have to do is stay calm and testify of what we know to be  true . I guess I just don't understand why some people have such great animosity for something they  know so little about. If people would just give the Book of Mormon a chance, they would see the faith it builds and the Christ is testifies of. It has such power within its pages, and can and has changed millions of lives for the better, why is there such intense opposition to it? I just don't get it.

This week, instead of district meetings, we had a zone training, so we had the whole zone together for some training. That was good.

Oh, mom asked what being a District Leader is like in the mission. Pretty much, the way President Riggs uses us is as the most direct link to the individual missionaries. The Assistants have too many other things to do and the Zone Leaders are more administrative, so we are the ones that really get to work with the Elders and Sisters. Our week starts Monday, which is just P-Day, but I usually use it to prepare for: Tuesday when we have district meetings. In district meetings, we get together and - after a song and prayer - spend some time collaborating and helping each other with difficult investigator situations. My job there is just to facilitate the conversation. After that, I present a principle or aspect of missionary work that I teach about, then we break up into practice teaching. So, at that point, I design some sort of way that we can practice using the principle I discussed. After that, we depart. Tuesdays are often good days to go on exchanges, too. For those, we switch companions, I typically go to their area, and we work together for the evening, spend the night, study together, then I'll provide training and advice for the area, as well as learning many new things myself. I get to go on at least one exchange per elder in my district per transfer (I don't go on exchanges with the sisters for obvious reasons). Then, Wednesday through Friday morning, I'm mostly a resource for people. Friday morning during weekly planning I collect everyone's weekly goals for the next week, then Sunday I collect their key indicators for the past week and call those into the Zone Leaders. Then repeat! haha It's awesome and a great place to learn, serve and grow. If I could have it my way, I'd spend the rest of my mission training and being a district leader.

Thursday, we had a weird experience. We were tracting, and this one door had this huge commotion coming from the other side... I heard running, crashing, someone yelling in another language, then more crashing and a child screaming. They were LOUD crashes, too! It sounded like this kid was getting wailed on and chased through the apartment in the process. We slowly walked past the door, but then we heard something get thrown and another blood-curdling scream. That was it, I couldn't take it anymore. I turned around, and knocked on the door. I typically don't knock as many times as I did on that door, but the commotion settled more and more with each knock until eventually the door opened. A young boy had gotten it. I asked if his parents were home and he disappeared around the corner, then returned followed by a woman holding an 8-inch long kitchen knife. No, I'm not joking this time. I acted natural and began sharing our message. She said she spoke Urdu, so didn't understand me... I just bore my testimony to her in english and hoped the Spirit would do the rest. Her face softened, and she accepted a pamphlet she will likely never be able to read, but most importantly! She softened. Even if we don't understand the words being said to us, the gospel softens people because of the Spirit. It was a very neat experience.

Later that same night, a guy opened the door and said with a heavy Hispanic accent that he didn't speak English. So, I began speaking to him in Spanish and introducing ourselves when he interrupts: "Look, I know who you are.... I just don't want to be rude." haha apparently he DID know English!!! haha

My little Spanish contact phrases are getting better. The mission office is constantly making jokes about how many referrals we give to other missionaries. Apparently, I'm really good at finding people for OTHER people to teach. haha. Which is a bummer because teaching is my favorite part of missioanry work.
Oh! Another fun thing. In Preisthood session of conference, guess what I saw! Elder Lafeen was in the choir during the Priesthood session! If you're re-watching conference on, watch "nearer my God to thee" around 1:40 and he's there!
This week, I was reading in the ensign when I found one of my new favorite quotes. It was an article about peace, and how we may not be able to find it in our surroundings, but we can always find it in our hearts. Kind of what Elder Cook spoke about during conference. Anyways, the author says at one point. "We all know that Christ can calm our storms, but sometimes he calms our souls instead." I just loved that. Christ has the power to calm our storms, but how would we grow if we never had to weather a storm? We're here on earth to grow, to become something, and sometimes, that means we have to get through a storm without Him calming it for us. However, He is ALWAYS willing and ready to calm our hearts and our souls if we will but turn to Him. The same was said in effect in the movie "The Other Side of Heaven.": "Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, sometimes He calms the sailor. And sometimes, He just lets us swim.
That we may continue swimming with His love in our hearts is my prayer.
Until next week! (after transfer week)
-Elder Hodgson

Monday, April 15, 2013

WEEK 49- Missionary Superbowl

Man, was Conference sweet, or what?!?! This is gonna be short, because we're about to run out the door to D.C. for the day, but I wanted to make sure to get this in!

General Conference is often referred to as "The Missionary Super Bowl" because it's this HUGE event that we all look forward to, prepare for, invite everyone to come to, then just soak up. Conference really means so much more as a missionary and I REALLY hope I can keep that after my mission.
It's so amazing coming in with multiple questions written down and watching as the Lord answers all of them (some multiple times) through His servants.

One notable experience we had that I'd like to share this week happened last Monday. On Sunday, we were asked by a member to help him administer a priesthood blessing on a friend of his, so we went and helped, and he asked us to check back in with him later that week. That night, planning, Elder Porter felt like we should go visit him the NEXT DAY... I had not received the same prompting, but I've always been told to never interfere with the miraculous flow of revelation to a new missionary, so we went and visited the next day. We weren't there for 5 minutes when he pulled us aside, sat us down and said the blessing, and our willingness to provide it, really "opened his eyes" and he was willing and ready to learn more and investigate the church. It was amazing to see how prepared he was as he came to us after we followed Elder Porter's inspiration.

So, Conference, conference, conference... anyone have any favorite talks? I had like 50! I have no doubt, and the word of God was shared with us this week through His prophets and apostles. Please, I challenge you to re-read your notes, re-read the talks, and set goals for your life. Hearing is good. Doing is great. Becoming is the challenge we all fight for. It is my prayer that we may all become what the Lord has in mind for us and learn from what he communicated to us this week...

Well, our ride is here! gotta run! Love you all!

-Elder Hodgosn

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

WEEK -48 -Pot cakes

So, I'll go ahead and spill right now. This week was busy, and exciting, but there isn't anything totally stand-outish to share. So, I figure I'll share a bit about the food and people and geography about the area! Partly because I think it will be fun, and partly because my mom has been asking me about that.
So, first of all, the Geography. I am officially INSIDE the beltway here in Annandale, so the fast pace I used to talk about? Faster. It's INSANE here! Everybody seems to work 12+ hours a day, so we have to really haul in the evenings after a full day of work. It's always exciting having that huge rush after the day! It makes you really ready for bed once you hit the pillow.
Annandale is home to Annandale high, which is where Mark Hamil graduated. You might know Mark Hamil for his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
Annandale is also home to a huge population of natives from Korea and Sierra Leone. There is also a large Spanish population, which means I now know a few phrases in Spanish so I can effectively gage interest and collect contact information for the Spanish Elders.
Another funny thing is people out here seem to love chrome (real chrome, not the internet browser). It's all over people's cars! haha
Food in Annandale is pretty much as you'd expect. Some American, some Korean, and a nice mix of everything since we're here in the D.C. area. Then there's the missionary's favorite haunt: Cafe Rio. The hope every time we go is that we're there the same time as a member, They like to support the cause  J
Food in the apartment, however, is an adventure...! Most of my companions have had a few favorite meals that we eat a lot of, but two of my companions in particular have been eating adventures. The first was Elder N in Vienna. We decided to save money and not shop for a few weeks so we could clean out the cluttered shelves in the apartment. We made some creative stuff! Including, but not limited to many various types of pasta, a dinner pie (like a chicken pot pie) and handfulls of dried apples.
Now, I'm with Elder P, and we're just getting creative for the sake of getting creative. Elder P and I pretty much had the exact same childhood. Just change the name of some of our friends and the dates of events and you're set. We're like the exact same person almost haha. We look a little different though. If you'd like to see a picture of Elder P, watch the first bit of "UP" and you got it. He's been given nicknames such as "Elder Up" and "Mr. Fredrickson." when he's young though ;) haha not the old guy.... he's a great companion
As we cook together, we've made some crazy stuff. The two weirdest were a Mac & Cheese/Pork & Beans Burrito... and Potcakes... Potcakes are pancakes, but made in a pot and without a spatula. It was a total adventure!
As important as food is though, it's spiritual food that we're on missions for, and in addition to gorging our faces, we also serve as a chef for others, and in D.C. South, we've been cooking! We got an email from President Riggs this week with lots of info on all the miracles and conversion that is going on out here. The Work is picking up, and it's amazing to see and be a part of. :)
Love you all! Talk to you next week.