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

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