Thursday, May 30, 2013

Week 56- The ominous moment

Well, the Ominous Moment has arrived... Transfer Outlines are in and some Leadership Calls have already been made and we're awaiting transfer calls tonight! Then, after Thursday's transfer meeting, all bets will be in and we'll know who's staying in D.C. South and who's going to the new Richmond mission !
Sorry I couldn't email yesterday, We played Ultimate Frizbee with the ward, then everything was closed for Memorial day! Kinda stunk.
Ultimate was way fun! It was the first time I've played on my mission, so I had a total blast! It felt soooo good to get out and run and just have fun with it all!
This week was crazy! I spent 2 days straight on exchanges, I almost felt like I had to relearn my area when I got back! ... not really, but it was cool. On the first exchange, I got to give my first baptismal interview. L. S. got baptized last weekend in the Warrenton 2nd ward, and I got to do the interview. I'm not sure if I was more worried or if she was! haha investigators get VERY nervous for the baptismal interview, but it's not that bad at all. Basically, it's just an opportunity for them to share their new testimonies of Christ and His restored gospel to us and for us to see that they're not just getting baptized to get baptized and that they've really let Christ into their life. It was a great experience. It was a great experience and the spirit was very strong as she shared her conversion experience. She was sooo prepared. it's amazing to see people like her who the Lord just sets in our way because they are READY to hear the gospel.
We did a LOT of tracting this week. All of the people we meet with seemed to be out of town, so we knocked! We had some funny experiences, some weird ones, and some great ones. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about tracting... haha I LOVE meeting new people, but I still get butterflies every time when we're first starting.
The investigators that were in town are doing very well though! They keep commitments better than any teaching pool I've ever had and they're great! We have some great less active people we're working with, too and they're all progressing beautifully, too. It's been an awesome transfer. Elder P. and I love teaching together, and thus are very effective at helping people gain stronger testimonies of Christ.
I wanted to just share one small thing real quick. Naaman. He was a war captain in the Old Testament. He was a tough guy and very capable when it came to battle. He had one problem though. He had leprosy. It was very hard for him because he'd always been a leader in battle, but suddenly couldn't with his condition. This poor guy was falling apart. He eventually heard of someone who might be able to help him though: the Prophet of Israel, Elisha. So, he gets his army and goes to get healed by the prophet, and Elisha sends a servant to meet him and the servant says: "Wash in the river Jordan 7 times and you will be healed." Naaman was appalled. The Jordan was the filthiest river in the country! Why couldn't the prophet just heal him? Couldn't Elisha at least speak to him himself? It was simply insulting! Naaman resolved not to do it.... Until one of his servants said: "hey! If the Lord had asked you to do some great thing, wouldn't you have done it? How about now? He said something soooo simple! Just wash and you'll be healed." So, Naaman humbles himself and washes.
Lets jump to someone else. Nephi. He and his brothers are asked to get the brass plates from Laban, and after 2 failed attempts (both of which also included attempts on their life) the Lord guides Nephi of where to go. Nephi eventually finds a man wasted and passed out on the ground. It's Laban. The Lord instructs Nephi to kill Laban. Nephie really struggled with that. He'd never killed anyone before. He didn't want to start now. Didn't the Lord always tell us not to murder? Nephi was so young! But the Lord asked him to do it and he got up the courage to obey.
Imagine now that these two men were switched. Naaman is trying to get the brass plates and the Lord tells him to kill Laban. DONE! I'm a war captain! I do this all the time! As long as the Lord tells me to, it's done. Imagine Nephi now: "wash and be clean" Nephi would do cannonballs into the Jordan! That's just how Nephi was. I'm sure if these two men met on the other side of the veil, they would both ask: "Why couldn't I have your trials? they would be so easy!" Easy isn't the way the Lord intends us to grow, however. We often sit looking at our friends lives and thinking "man, if I had their problems, I would be set! I could endure to the end so easily!" But we don't realize that they think the same about us. The Lord fits our trials to us because He knows what will help us grow the way we need to to progress eternally. Neal A Maxwell once said: "We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today, but God sees us in terms of forever." We must learn to see in those terms as well, and realize that our trials are what shape us into that forever that our Father sees in us. We need only trust Him and His Only Begotten Son to know that everything will be okay and that through our trials, we will be made into what the Lord needs us to be.
Well, until next week! Hold your breaths! Because this is the big one! The suspense is sooooo intense out here! The Transfer meeting this Thursday determines it all!!! Who goes to which mission? Find out next week…..Love you all!
-Elder Hodgson

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Week 55- Let reality become your happy place

Well, I was going to do a Q&A Week this week, but my mom has been VERY busy with my amazing sister who is leaving for a mission in Hawaii!!! So, apparently last weeks letter hasn't been posted quite yet. Mom, I'd prefer you be busy with Rachel….So, the Q&A week has been postponed!

So, this week was pretty awesome. We taught some great lessons, found some awesome people and Had some incredible stuff happen, too!!! First off, Operation: Arise and Build is going amazingly! Everyone is just tearing it up! I have NEVER seen the mission work like this!   Our mission President is an inspired man!  Miracle after miracle  story after story. It's amazing to be a part of. This is a very exciting time to be a missionary.

A highlight of the week  for me is our half mission conference. We had it on Friday, and ours consisted of the Ashburn, Centreville, Oakton and McLean zones. We found out a couple days before (in complete confidence) that Elder Larry Echohawk was coming to our half mission conference! Elder P and I were the "hosting" Zone Leaders since the conference was at our stake center, so we had to get there early to set everything up. There were some maintenance guys there working on the A.C., so we found out that our conference was going to happen in a 55 degree room.... oh yeah.... haha

Before I dive into the way cool parts of the conference, just one quick, funny story. We told President Riggs about the A.C. situation, and he was really worried about the room being that cold. So, he got up and announced that it was permissible for Elders to give their suit coats to Sisters. The entire place literally gasped, usually that's a BIG no-no, but President wanted to make sure the Sisters were comfy, so we got them all taken care of. My coat went to a sister by the name of Hermana Ward. Later in the conference, when Elder Echohawk showed up about half of the elders were coatless.... When the presiding authority (President Riggs until Elder Echohawk showed up) is still wearing their coat, the proper etiquette is to keep yours on.... So, here's these rebel elders standing there coatless... haha Then the closing song came, and Hermana Ward goes up to the stand to conduct the music.... still wearing my coat.... with my nametag on it.... Elder Echohawk arrived late, so missed the announcement that that was acceptable today, so who KNOWS what he was thinking then as this sister missionary goes and conducts the music with my coat on... haha Well, at least it was funny when if happened. I appreciate all those who humored me with courtesy laughs and the time to read this.... :D

Some really cool other stuff was said, too, but I just wanted to share one thing in particular that Elder Echohawk said: "God has a divine plan for each of you in this life, and now is the time to figure it out. Right here, when you're on your missions, when you're so close to the Spirit, this is the time to find out what His plan for you is, because by the time you're home, it's time to put that plan into action." That hit me hard. I've always had a strong testimony that God has a divine plan for each of us…including me, but I keep putting off thinking about it so I could focus on my mission more. But now, hearing from a general authority to pray about it now (obviously not at the expense of missionary work) was something new to me... It's interesting how often you get called to repentance (or as I prefer to put it, get called to change) on your mission. I used to hate change, but now I embrace every call that we get. It's fantastic to be in such a great place to change an improve myself to become more of who the Lord would have me be.

This week, we had stake conference, too and we got a new Stake Presidency, which means Elder P and I get to "train up" a new Stake President, as President Riggs says it. haha. I'm kind of nervous, but very excited :)

Well, until next week! Hope you all have a fantastic week! And Rachel! Have soooo much fun in the MTC! I'll be in touch with you soon :) Love you!

-Elder Hodgson

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week 54- Arise and Build

Whoa! By the way, who was the author behind my sudden bombardment of letters? Elder P.  is pretty impressed with how many letters I'm getting even a year after I left! Right around my year mark, it started and it just hasn't slowed. I'm getting mail like a greenie!!! haha Thanks to everyone who wrote! I don't think I have the time or the memory to name everyone, but just know that I read and loved each of your letters and I'm grateful for you and for your encouragement. There's a lot of emotions running through a missionary's mind around a year, and it's fantastic to have the support that I do. Thank you all!
         Ok, so this week, in short, was fantastic! I'm short on time, so I'm going to just say I'm alive, well, and happy. I talked to my family Sunday, so they can update further (LOVEd talking to you all, btw :D ) Since my last few letters I've been short on time, I'll dedicate next week to be a "questions" letter, so if you have any  questions  send them to mom . I'll do Q&A format next week so I can fill you in on what I've been leaving out.
I'd like to dedicate this week’s letter to our Zone Training last Tuesday, where we taught the zone about what we talked about in Mission Leadership Council.
As everyone walked in, we had a long table up front with red solo cups scattered all over and around the table. On the chalkboard was written: "Arise and Build" We started off by reading from the book of Nehemiah....
I know, right? That's what I said. That's where the words arise and build come from though.
Nehemiah works for Artaxerxes the Persian King as Israel is captive. He receives news that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down. Right now, our missions walls are broken down. In the month of April, only 7 people came to learn of the blessings of Christ's gospel.  We do not feel as busy as we would hope right now.
So, Nehemiah goes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and in chapters 1-4 and 6, we discussed many wonderful principles of how to build and dedicate ourselves to the work. Then, in chapter 6, it mentions how long it took them to rebuild the walls of jerusalem: 52 days. So, we made the announcement. We are going to rebuild the Washington D.C. South mission in 52 days.
In order to rebuild, we looked at the Calendar. From May 9th to June 30th is 52 days. July 1st the mission splits and June 30th is the halfway mark of the year 2013. Each stake at the beginning of the year set a goal for how many converts they wanted to see. We're desperately behind on those goals. So, in order to rebuild, we're going to catch up to those! For the Centreville zone, that means 18 converts in the next 52 days. sounds crazy, but Elder P.  and I had each companionship talk, name the people they were working with who they thought could enter the waters of baptism by June 30th, then, heads down, everyone held up a number of fingers... We counted 44 fingers up in the air! And we're ready to see miracles.
For the second half of Zone Training, we talked about what we needed to do to rebuild the wall. We had everyone take 6 of the cups and we had them each build a 5 cup section of the wall as we talked about the things we would be doing to rebuild. The first cup was a new contacting technique called ARs. The second was a new system of accountability and reporting we concocted at Leadership Council the week before. Third was Faith and Fasting, the foundation of any great endeavor. (we started the 52 days with a fast on the 9th). Next, we had the desire to work that we all need. Power Hours that we're all committing to do, and that gives us 3-2 pyramids all over. Then, we had everyone write unity on their cups and place them on their section of the table. Everyone started putting them on top to have a 3-2-1 pyramid, but we stopped them and had them place their last "unity" cup on the side, so we had 3-3 wall sections that the overlapping cups connected the sections of. Suddenly, instead of many pyramids, we had a wall. So, everyone has those cups in their apartment now and it's a reminder of what we all need to do to assist the Lord in this great work. It was easily the most powerful Zone Training I've ever participated in, and no, not just because I was leading it this time... It's because President and Sister Riggs received revelation of how we can reach our full potential. Elder P and I were the messengers, but the message was from God.
And now, miracles are happening.
-Elder Hodgson

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

week 53- Seattle Salmon and the Superweek

So, this last week was absolutely crazy! Red Robin was WAY good last week, and we got all energized and excited for the week to come! Then, we just wiped ourselves out....
Wednesday, we got up at 5 to get to our Mission President interviews. President Riggs asked us to be there by 7:30, and traffic on the 28 is REALLY bad between 6:15 and 8:00, so we left by 6:00 to make sure to beat the traffic... We beat it all right... We got to the Stake Center at 6:20.... Well, it's better than being there at 8:10 because of traffic, right? So, we set up the interview room and I played the piano while Elder P took a nap (there was no conflict there when you're as tired as we were) haha. Then, President met with us for about a half hour to talk about the zone. After that, we had our usual 15 minute interviews. Then, for the rest of the day, other companionships showed up and they went to talk to President Riggs and while one companion was in with him, the other met with us! It was awesome meeting with each member of the zone, getting to know them better (some I hadn't even met in person thanks to how big the zone is) and asking them what we could do to become better zone leaders. It was way fun!
Thursday, we had Mission Leadership Council, which is basically the Jedi Council of the mission haha. That's what Elder P says at least. Some AMAZING new things are coming that we're teaching to the zone tomorrow at Zone Training. I can't say more than that right now, but we were in the mission home basement from 8:30am to 3:30pm... LOTS of stuff was discussed.
Friday, our entire zone had an incredible opportunity! Elder Ritchie, who with his wife are over the YSA in our mission, gives and incredible lecture series called "launching leaders" and President Riggs has arranged for all of his missionaries to receive the lectures! We had our first one Friday morning!
In between all of that, we SOMEHOW managed to find time to keep our area moving. We have a fantastic ward with a hard-working ward mission and the work is really moving! We're excited to see it continue. We're teaching more people who are progressing than at ANY previous time in my mission, and after Zone Training tomorrow, it's going to get even better! I can't wait to tell you all about it next week!
Until then!
-Elder Hodgson

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week 52- Red Robin

So, this was a CRAZY week! SOOO busy, but soo fun! It all started last Saturday.... We share an apartment with the Spanish missionaries. They just had an elder from the companionship go home, and he was supertrunk, so we were looking for a way to get the area moving again. So, Elder C(the new Elder in the Spanish area) said "what would you do if we taught 20 lessons Elder P said he would poop his pants, and Elder C tried to take him up on the bet... haha we ended up telling them if they did that we'd take them to Red Robin, so they've been working  hard all week, and we've hardly seen them haha.
Last night, they came walking in the door to the apartment singing a song by Linkin Park: "I tried so hard, and got so far, but in the end it doesn't even matter." haha it was funny. They still did crazy good, so we're still going to Red Robin.
There's a lot of change going on in Centreville right now. When I first hit the mission field, C-Ville was known for being the "party zone." But then Elder P got here. He just told President: "I want one good missionary in each area, then I want them to train." So, that's what we got. Every area in the zone is training or just finished training. We're one of the greenest zones in the mission and it's AWESOME!!! We get to raise up a righteous posterity RIGHT HERE IN C-VILLE!!!
Though, the area still has it's challenges. There had been several people learning about the church and many of them got too busy or just did not want to hear anymore…and I  moved in here Right after this mass-dropping.... Kind of depressing, but how exciting to get to start from square 1! The entire zone has done fantastic  and everyone is serving and teaching hard!  last week the zone met 17 new people interested in coming closer to Christ. This week, we found 38 (11 of which were the killer Spanish elders in our apartment!)
We also had 2 exchanges this week. One with a brand new District Leader who Elder P asked me to train. And one with the Assistants to the President. They were both awesome. One I was back on bike, and the other I got to drive the APs big blue truck that everyone covets. And on both I was with great missionaries and had lots of fun as we worked hard!
The new ward is awesome. We meet at the transfer chapel, which is weird.... "wait, things actually happen here other than transfers?" oh well. :D Our organist totally jams out and our gospel principles teacher is a chaplain, so that's what he does for a living and he's AMAZING at it. We can't take him on exchanges with us though because he's a chaplain... haha It's great, too. I'm pretty sure he voiced Bob the Tomato in Veggie Tales :D
We have lots of amazing people we are working with who are showing incredible faith as they overcome challenges to come closer to our Savior. It's amazing to see.
I love being a missionary, I love my new area and companion, and I love life.
And I love you!
-Elder Hodgson