Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 60 -The Breath Before the Plunge

That's the word of the week.
This week was amazing!
Last Tuesday was Zone Conference.  We prepared our little Zone Leader bit, and showed up, and guess what?  I'm conducting! haha  So, I got to conduct my first zone conference.  It was probably the best zone conference I've ever been to.  EVERYBODY in the zone seems to have come prepared for a spiritual feast, and because of that, we feasted!  Elder F. and I were prompted to talk on the exact thing President Riggs was going to speak on for the last hour and a half of the conference, so when it was his time, he just followed the Spirit.  Imagine an hour and a half of an inspired man - who has been set apart and given preisthood keys to receive revelation for YOU - as he just gets up and talks for an hour and a half on whatever the Spirit prompts him to.  It was absolutely incredible.

Wednesday, I got to go on an exchange with Elder A., one of our new district leaders.  It was awesome working with him.  He's pretty new to the mission field, and is just a big sponge!  It was one of the best district leader trainings I've ever had the opportunity to do because he was just SOO open to new ideas and concepts.  It was awesome.
Friday, we had the awesome opportunity to meet with our new Ward Mission Leader.  Holy cow, he's going to be awesome!  Just initially getting thigns set up with him I got goosebumps because of how excited I was!  We're so excited!  Did I say that already?  haha
Saturday was another example for me of ways to work well with the ward.   When I was on the exchange Wednesday, Elder F. and Elder P. met L., who used to meet with the missionaries.  He was rLDS for 25 years, mostly because his wife was, then when they divorced, he became Methodist.  He's often felt like something was missing though, and when he was sick and couldn't attend, there was no outreach to see if he was ok and that hurt him.  Then he met us, and his biggest concern was demographics.  He didn't know if there was anybody in our church his age (70)....  So, we went to the High Priests Group. :P  The High Priests Group leader got a visit from us Saturday morning, and we told him about L..  Then we left, and 15 minutes later, we got a text saying Brother H. would be at our apartment at 6:10 that evening to go vistit L. with us.  We had an AMAZING lesson with L., and he and Brother H. clicked really well.  And Brother H. is excited to help and L. is excited to have a friend, and it all just works out!  It was great :)
Sunday, our dinner appointment was with a family that had this HUGE rope swing in their backyard. They built this huge catwalk so you hold the rope and walk up it (kind of a sketch thing to do in dress shoes), then you're just standing on this little wooden platform 15 feet up in the air, and you just jump off and swing!  It was so awesome!!!
Then, there was that broadcast last night.... WOWWW!!!!  That was so amazing!  We were just glued the whole time... haha It was amazing!  All that training and those principles and all of, well, all of it! It was just fantastic!
So, a bit of a prefiew for this week.  Today, we're going to meet up with the zone to practice some music.  Our zone is putting on a musical fireside on July 10th.  It's going to be awesome.  We have SOOO much musical talent in our zone.  We're really excited and the stake and ward leaders are totally backing us in this, so hopefully we'll have LOTS of people there, and hopefully some finding will come of it!
Wednesday is our big mission conference before the split Thursday.  Elder F. and I had to go scout out how many tables the stake center had this morning.  We need to somehow fit 280 people into the cultural hall for lunch....  It's going to be a lot of fun, but also a little sad.  I'm definitely making sure my camera is charged haha.
Well, that's it! Until next week!
-Elder Hodgson

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Week 59 - The Posibots vs. the Pessimicepticons

Well, this week, our motto has been: "maybe the next door." I'm pretty sure everyone took off after school ended! haha Still, we work hard, we persevere and we enjoy every minute of it!
Last Tuesday, we had our zone training, which means Elder Flaherty and I got to talk about all the new things we learned at Mission Leadership Council last week. It went well! Some of the new things we taught about new ways to plan and work with Ward mission leaders and such went SOO well! Then there was the part about elder/sister interactions... haha I'm pretty sure everyone thought we were joking. "Elders, if a sister smiles at you or compliments your tie, it does NOT mean she likes you." was one of the things we were asked to relay. Apparently sisters were getting reported to Zone Leaders as flirts for complimenting an elder or greeting them with a smile... ah, the joys of young-adulthood haha.
After that, we had one of those leadership emergencies. We got a phone call from one of our district leaders asking for tips on how to give a baptismal interview.... One problem: We hadn't certified him to give interviews yet!!! As Zone Leaders, one of the things we do is certify new District Leaders so they know more how to conduct the interview. So, we hopped in our car (fortunately we're doing good on miles) and we went to certify him!
Next day, we changed the oil on our car. They don't let us do it for insurance reasons, so we got to sit in a Chevy dealership for 3 hours while they messed with our  “Cruze”..
On Thursday, we had the amazing opportunity to have our first Stake Correlation meeting with our new Stake President. He's AMAZING!!! I'm so excited and grateful to be working with him! He took suggestions well, he gave incredible suggestions, he listened to the Spirit, and we feel very strongly he work in Centreville will pick up very soon.
We've all been really busy preparing for the mission split. There's a LOT of paperwork and organization to be done, and we're trying to organize our area, too, it's so crazy, but it's a blast! You know me, I LOVE adventures. Elder L, one of the APs went to the Richmond mission today, the rest of the mission follows on the 27th. We'll be having a mission conference on the 26th just before it splits, so we'll get to say goodbyes and such.
We got a new Ward Mission Leader this week! We're so excited for him! He's young, new and excited, and he's gonna be great! We meet with him for the first time this week and we'll get organized! I've wanted to see a new Ward Mission Leader start out , my entire mission and here I'm getting to finally! I'm sooo excited!
Some people asked about some of the people I used to teach in old areas. Nate is doing fantastic! He received the Melchizidek Preisthood back in like March. Usually they wait for a year, which would mean September. He says he's considering a mission, too, which would be amazing. I'm hoping I'm still out here when he goes to the temple. Tony, I haven't heard much from, but he has amazing fellowshippers and is a rockstar. I'm hoping to find time to write him soon. Carol as far as I know is good. I'm looking forward to seeing the Elders there soon so I can get an update on some old investigators, too. It's such a blessing as a missionary to see all of the people I've helped on their journey as they continue strong. Just being a small piece in the puzzle is amazing, I just can't express it enough.
We got a referral last week from a member who rode in the taxi of a man named Amadu. We went and have taught him twice! He said he used to meet with missionaries, but didn't really take it serious, but he's ready to take it serious now. He's amazing He is so open, and sincere and accepting, we can explain things to him in a way I've never been able to with investigators. It's awesome! He's hoping to come to church for the first time next Sunday.
Service is sporadic these days. We keep our eyes open and the Lord places people in our path. Someone who needs yardwork, a stranded car, etc. We do find service, just most of it is unplanned right now, which is my favorite type anyway :) I got to powerwash a deck a couple weeks ago though. That's always exciting :D
Well, you might be wondering why the title of this week’s letter... It's become a theme between Elder F and I. Morale is something we worry about a lot in the zone. Last week, we came up with the expounding of our struggles.

‘We, the Posibots, led by our fearless leader Optimist Prime and his friend Humblebee are leading a fight against the Pessimicepticons, led by Negatron and the infamous defected, Ironpride.”

 It's a fun little joke that really means a lot. There are many ups and downs on missions, and it's important to keep perspective, keep hope and keep faith. Optimism is essential to keeping the Spirit, because where fear or doubt is, there faith is not. Negativity fosters fear, and by fighting the forces of Negatron and the Pessimicepticons, we can become the missionaries we want to become.

Another question asked was  If I were to pick one thing about my mission so far that is the essential "I wish everybody knew this" it would just be the atonement. It would be grace. Too many missionaries don't understand that the atonement applies to them, too. They teach it daily, but when it comes to them not being perfect, or them needing to change, they stress. We shouldn't stress. That's what the atonement is for. It's for everyone! We try our best to be perfect, but when we fail, it's ok. The atonement is the power by which we change. It's as simple as that. And when the scriptures abound with the word "become," change is definitely something we all need. So embrace it! It will bring so much joy and peace.
Love you all!!
-Elder Hodgson

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Week 58- Change , change and more Change......

Well, change is the word of the week. There is sooo much CHANGE going on right now!!! I LOVE it! Change used to bug me, and it's still hard, but I'm learning to make the best of the change and as I come to see its purpose, I'm finding a lot of fulfillment in my mission.
First big change is, well, the mission is splitting in half haha. People used to laugh at me because Manassas is the furthest south I've been.... I'm about to become the southern border... At Mission Leadership Council last week, we probably spent a good half-hour talking about the upcoming split and the logistics, and what role we would need to play, etc. There's a lot going on there.
The Spanish companionship we live with just got a third companion. So, there's 5 of us in the apartment now haha. There's more change to get used to.
The biggest change this week was probably some of the things we received at Mission Leadership Council. We had to re-define quite a number of rules and principles detailing appropriate interactions between elders and sisters. Phone principles, leadership communication principles, Elders and Sisters are now allowed to ride together to meetings, more principles to regulate that. haha, it was pretty exciting. We also received some new principles we're putting into play of how to better work with our wards as we do missionary work, and in a matter of just 4 short days, it's completely transformed how we do work in our ward. We're SOOO excited to share it with the zone on Tuesday!
Our area is doing really well. We found many more people this week who are interested in hearing about the gospel, and last night, we had one of the most memorable lessons I've had in a long time. The Spirit helped us to testify of the restoration very powerfully and very purely and it was amazing to feel the Spirit working through us like that.
We have our first stake correlation meeting with the new Stake President this Thursday, so we're looking forward to that as well.
On top of that, our Ward Mission Leader is moving to Arizona next week, so we'll be getting a new one of those, too!!! Really, I wasn't joking when I said there was a lot of change happening. haha
There really isn't a good way to describe what's going on here in the mission field except change. EVERYTHING is picking up pace, and it's amazing to see. New areas, new missionaries, new techniques and principles and just everything is new or changing.
Things are picking up pace really quickly, too... With 37 new missionaries last transfer meeting, we're trying to find places to put them all!!! It's insane! Oh! and I'm a grandpa now, too!!! haha In the mission field, we often refer jokingly to missionaries we train as our "sons." Elder Cannon, my "firstborn son" is training this transfer, so that makes me a "grandpa!" haha Looking back, I've really had the opportunity to train some amazing missionaries. One is training, one is working hard as an office elder, one is here in centerville and is one of the zone all-stars, and one is pioneering the way into the new mission. It's been a wonderful privilege to have seen these elders from when they were new and to see the change that occurs in them.
Well, there's a semi-reflective letter on change haha. This week we were super busy, but nothing out of the ordinary occurred... lots of work, lots of lessons, lots of talking to people about Christ, which I always love doing.
I hope everyone has a good week!
-Elder Hodgson

Monday, June 3, 2013

Week 57 - The Southern Stakes Declare Their Secession

Well, all bets are in! Our last transfer meeting before the mission split was Thursday. We got news Tuesday via phonecall of who would be staying in the zone or leaving it. I was told I would be staying, so I'm still in D.C. South. Everyone who was moving, however.... nervewrackedness....

Wednesday, Elder P was packing and was VERY nervous of where he would be going. I remember feeling the same way just last transfer, knowing that wherever I moved was where I would be when the mission split...

Then, Thursday, we packed up and headed out! Transfer meeting was INSANE!!! We had 37 new missionaries coming out!!! It was absolutely amazing. They had us reserve the first 8 rows of the chapel for new missionaries, and they still barely fit! It was really busy for us, too because as the hosting Zone Leaders, we were asked to do crowd control. So, we were running all over helping people find places to squish in and sit. it was crazy. Finally, the new missionaries came in (which took a while for them all to walk in - them and their trainers). We got started with an opening song and prayer, etc. Then, President had Joseph Duano come up and make an announcement. Joseph is a young man in the Annandale stake (Rolling Valley Ward) who goes on exchanges with missionaries ALL the time. It's amazing how much time he spends out doing things with missionaries. Well, he stood up and made the announcement that he had received his mission call!! He's going to the Idaho Pocatello mission! It was amazing, after he made the announcement, President Riggs stopped him. He asked any missionaries who had ever received a ride in Joseph's car to raise their hands. Pretty much about 85-90% of all elders (sisters he can't exactly give rides to) raised their hands. It was amazing to see all the different people, places and ways this young man had helped with missionary work.

Next, Sister B was asked to give an experience from her mission. She was originally called to serve in the mongolia mission. She struggled and worked hard and learned mongolian, and after just a few months in the field, there were issues within the country, and she was moved to our mission. She talked a bit about how big changes like that can be hard, but the Lord's hand is in it all.

Then, President Read off the transfers. That was the most  intense transfers I think I've ever seen. Anybody who went to woodbridge or Fredricksburg will be in the Richmond mission come July 1st. So, when President read off those zones, it was hard to hear some names there. The southern stakes have officially declared their secession and given us a months warning before their plans take effect. Hahah   We all know that the transfers were inspired though, so we're excited to keep moving forward.

My new companion is Elder F. He's from Arizona and has been on a mission 18 months. He's way awesome. A way fun guy and a great missionary. We're excited to keep the work here in Centreville going! We've been doing a lot of tracting lately. People we meet with have been busy, so we've needed something to fill our time. Hence, we knock! In fact, we've had to start mofecting! (MOre efFECtive tracTING) Pretty much, we keep a notebook with us so we can keep track of who answers the door and who doesn't. That way, you can make sure to have the opportunity to share Christ's gospel with EVERYONE and not miss anyone just because they weren't home when you were there.

Our ward mission leader is moving in a couple of weeks, so we'll probably get a new one pretty soon. It'll be interesting to see who they are and what changes they want to make in the ward mission!

Last Saturday, I had a unique opportunity. I got a phone call a couple weeks ago from Sister Crockett. That was strange because she wasn't in our zone. And she wasn't using her zone leaders to have them forward her call to us.... She was calling from the phone of some sisters in our zone... Turns out, they were on an exchange. BUT, she was calling because a young man Elder Porter and I had found in Annandale was getting baptized! So, Saturday, Elder Porter and I went to Nghia Tong's baptism while Elder Flaherty worked with Elder Porter in their area. It was amazing to see how much Nghia had grown since I had seen him last. I was very grateful to be a part (even the small part that I was) of his journey to Christ. He thanked us so much for knocking on his door that day and said multiple times "it all started with you." It was such a blessing to see the man of faith he has become, and I look forward to seeing him grow more in the future.

Well, It's about that time! We have to get ready to work hard the rest of the evening! Pday isn't a full day  off you know! Monday nights are a GREAT night to meet new people :)

Love you all!

-Elder Hodgson