Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 65- a finding we will go and Paperwork blues

This week was a finding week! We spent a HUGE amount of our time looking for  people that want  to hear about the gospel. Our zone set a goal last week to increase our finding, so Elder Flaherty and I wanted to lead out! And we tried sooo hard!. It was one of those weeks where you come home each day just completely exhausted (like, more so than usual).But always enjoy the people and the community that we are serving in!  How could I not?! History  everywhere!  haha

We spent two of the afternoons this week helping some  people in our community with emergency moves... So, we got good workouts! I've been running every day, too, which is awesome. Usually I have to break after a couple of days to make sure my leg doesn't revert, but I've been totally fine!

We also spent some time this week making an office run to get supplies for everyone, and apartment hunting! Yep, apartment hunting... haha we have some new areas opening next transfer, and we were asked to find places for those missionaries to live! It's been pretty exciting. haha

Thursday was interviews with President Riggs. It was a long day, but it was fantastic! We got up extra early because we had to beat the traffic to the stake center. Then we set up the rooms, and met with President for a bit to talk about the zone. We went over some general things, then talked about how each person was doing. After that, Elder Flaherty and I each had our interviews. Interviews with President Riggs are always one of my favorite times. It's amazing to have the time with him 1-on-1 and to get advice from him. Then we spent a few hours getting the amazing opportunity to talk to each of the missionaries in the zone! Then lunch with President Riggs, which is always awesome, then after that, more interviews with missionaries! I loved the chance to talk with each of the missionaries here. It was great to hear more about them and ask and answer questions with them. We got some great ideas of things we'd like to do in our area! It was sweet! We had a special question we would ask each person about, too. President Dionne (the Centreville Stake President) is preparing to perform some training for the ward mission leaders in the stake and wanted us to gather some information about what he could train on that would be helpful, so we collected some ideas and info from the zone to give back to him.

Saturday, we had a dinner appointment... With Elder Lafeen!!! ( my first trainer) He was out touring in Virginia, so he came and took us to dinner! It was awesome to see him again, and catch up on how he's doing, what he's been up do, and all that. He seems like he's doing great! It's weird to think he's been home for a year now.

Yesterday, we had a chapel tour with our Syrian investigator. it was awesome, we taught him about the sacrament and why it's so important to us. As we were sitting in the chapel, he said he felt very peaceful and comfortable there. and he says he'll definitely make it to church next week!

Let's see... other exciting events... The weather has been as crazy as usual. We never know quite how to dress. It'll be temperate and beautiful in the morning, scorching hot and humid in the afternoon, then we'll get caught in a thunderstorm all of a sudden! haha it's so crazy, but I love it! It keeps you on your toes, and makes life entertaining! We sometimes have to change ties though if we're wearing silk! don't want those getting ruined!

We tried an authentic Latin place for lunch this week! It's called La Jarochita. One of the Spanish elders had to order my food for me :P It was really good though! I think I had a torta Al Pastor or something like that... haha The Spanish elders had another meal this week that wiped them out though, so I'm glad I wasn't there for that one! haha

We also created a written rules sheet for cleanliness in our apartment haha. Things have been sliding a bit, so we drafted our constitution and it's posted on our wall. Hopefully it helps us keep it clean!

Ther have been a few car accidents and  one sister that has hurt her leg, so we have been doing a lot of the busy work too.

Well, we have a fun day today planned! we're going to go sing songs!  we're practicing for the next musical fireside we're putting on. Then we might play a little soccer or something with the spare time.

Love you all! Have a great week!

-Elder Hodgson

Thursday, July 25, 2013

WEEK 64- Now THIS is summer...Milkis all around!

This week was what I remember summer to be like! Triple digit weather, triple digit humidity. It was crazy! I wondered how I ever survived on bike last year! Last summer was even hotter! One kind of annoying thing.... When we get out of our nice, air conditioned car, and step into the humidity... I'm blinded because my glasses fog up! Such a nuisance!
This was a busy, exciting week! And I included some pictures!!! The second one is mostly for the

Greenwoods..thinking of Heidi....
Starting off, last week we had Zone Sports. It was probably one of the best Zone Sports  it was just so much fun! Nate and Sarah came too! ( baptisms from his old area)  So, that was great to see them and catch up a bit. After zone sports, we had to introduce the entire zone to Milkis! So, we did! I don't know if I've ever mentioned Milkis……
A long time ago, when I was in Annandale with Elder Porter, we decided to have a nice, quiet, relaxing pday. The Zone Leaders, who we usually caught a ride with, were off doing various activities. Thus, we were left to our own means, so we stayed in our apartment complex! Which was fine, because there was a little shopping center, so we were all covered! Well, we were walking through H-Mart, which is pretty much an international grocery store, and suddenly Elder Porter stops, and says: "ok I'm too curious." and he picks up this bottle of white liquid and walks to the register. We got back to our apartment and tried it. Thus we were introduced to Milkis. Imagine for a moment, you are wandering through mists of darkness. Totally lost and confused, you have no clue where you are - or even where you're trying to get to. You're just.... wandering. Suddenly, your wind is knocked out of you as you run into something. Looking down, you see a small rod of iron extending to your left and to your right. You begin to cling to this rod as you make your way down it. You think you hear people mocking you, but you're not quite sure. Suddenly, the mists clear and before you is a tree. The tree is large and beautiful and full of fruit that is white to exceed all whiteness you have ever seen. It appears that this fruit is desirable to make one happy (see 1 Nephi 8). So, you pluck five or six of these remarkable fruits from the tree, and you throw them in a blender! Then you bottle them in green bottles and sell them at H-Mart, and that's Milkis! Sweet above all that is sweet and most desirable!
So, anyways, we took the whole zone to get Milkis, and lo and behold! They have been converted to the ways of Milkis! The best was when Elder Flaherty tried it for the first time. When we were brand new companions, he took his first sip: "Oh crap! Hodgson, what have you done?!" then he proceeded to chug about half of the bottle.
Last week we also went and saw some confederate earthworks! Turns out they're just outside our main mofecting complex! Literally like 200 yards up the hill, there's this circle of earth dug up and some cannons and such! It was sweet!
This week was kind of busy and sad and all of that for us. We passed off 3 more investigators to areas where they moved or to the singles ward... So that's a total of 5 in 2 weeks. If you want to drain a teaching pool, that's the way to do it! haha. It was a great thing for each of the people, but now we're left to do a lot of finding! We've been doing a lot of mofecting. Mofecting stands for "more effective tracting." Pretty much, you get a notebook and when you tract a street or apartment complex, you keep track of which door open and what their response was like. That way you can be sure everyone has a chance to hear the gospel. It's been my favorite way to tract for over a year! Now, if I don't mofect, I feel like I'm cheating people on an opportunity for happiness. That probably comes from my OCD :D
We have been teaching a guy named L that's really awesome. He was rLDS for 25 years when he was married to his first wife. Then with  his second wife he was  Methodist for 10 years or so. He was pretty heavily involved, too. He was one of the church leaders. After his wife died, he stopped going to church. It broke his heart because nobody seemed to notice he had stopped coming. That's one thing that attracts him to our church is the “community” of support. Recently, he also showed a lot of interest and fascination in the possibility of more scripture and more guidance from God. It was awesome.
This Thursday is interviews with President. I always love those, especially as a Zone Leader. When President is interviewing one member of each companionship, we interview the other, it's awesome! We get to know everyone better and spend some time talking to them.
Well, that's all I got for now. Oh! Except I set a new personal record! This one was for number of doors knocked without a single person opening a door.... Not a fun record... haha it's a good thing Elder Flaherty is fun to be with or it would have been a long mofecting session... haha
Love you all!
-Elder Hodgson

Monday, July 15, 2013

week 63- none of us should leave unaffected when we talk about the Grace of Jesus Christ

Well, transfers came and went this week, and I'm still here in Manassas! Elder Flaherty and I are sticking together, which marks only the second time in my mission that has happened! Until now, I've been able to say I've had as many companions as transfers! It was pretty crazy!
Well, one thing of note, transfers are a lot less nervewracking to sit through when you're not moving! Usually, people don't go when they aren't moving, but the Zone Leaders have to be there to make sure nobody in their zone gets stranded. And we are the "hosting" zone leaders since transfers happen in Centreville, so we have to close the place out. Our zone was pretty much unaffected. The only changes were because of new missionaries or missionaries going home!
That evening, after transfers, we had stake correlation, so Thursday was pretty much shot... haha It was great though! Kind of nervewracking... President Dionne asked us to get up and speak to all the Bishopbrics and Ward Mission Leaders in the stake on what wards can do to help investigators follow through on commitments and how to help them do that. We felt like it went well!
Friday was Elder Flaherty's birthday, and President always calls, sings and asks if their companion made breakfast.... So, I planned ahaead! It was Elder Flaherty's first time trying Eggs Benedict, and he LOVED it!

The musical fireside last Wednesday was amazing! Since we pretty much have the same zone, we're hoping to do it again! We're excited!
This week we worked hard when we could, but it was busy! Yesterday was a killer day though, so it made up for it! We were crazy busy yesterday! But that's how we like it :)
The Syrian family we're teaching had a slight setback when the father went to the ER this last week. He was having heart palpitations due to some anemia... He's much better now though. We just  were missing  him for a while.
This week was kind of a pass-off week. We had multiple people either move out or start going to the singles ward. Something we're definitely not against. The singles ward (institute in particular) is great for people and the Sisters over there are amazing (I trust them more than myself with investigators!), It's just hard to not see these amazing people as often. It's all good though! That's the nature of the work! (and we still stop in periodically for short check-ins)

Zone Training was probably one of the highlights of the week. After Mission Leadership Council, we go back and train the rest of the Zone on what we learned. It's been very interesting lately to see the focus of President Riggs lately. His biggest focus has been consecration. Personal consecration to the Lord. He still teaches us missionary skills, but he feels very strongly that what will make us the best missionaries we can be is not the missionary "tricks" we know, but the people we are. It's been amazing putting our focus on the source of our consecration: Christ. President Riggs said the other day: "My success as a Mission President isn't going to be measured for another 20 years. My success is based on how consecrated you all are 2 decades down the road. Now, do I hope we baptize a couple people in the process? Absolutely! I LOVE building the Lord's kingdom, and I hope we do! But my biggest concern is that you each become consecrated to the Lord for the rest of your life."
So, we've been talking a lot about grace and the role it plays in consecration. Look in scriptures for this formula: Grace=Faith+Humility+Diligence. I'll even give an example. Ether 12:27. "And if men come unto me (diligence) I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble (humility); and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me (faith), then will I make weak things become strong unto them (This is one of the effects of grace)." So, if we have faith and humble ourselves, and diligently come unto Christ, His grace will make our weaknesses strong. Grace really can't be overdone. It's the GREATEST thing about this entire gospel. Through Christ we can receive grace. Elder Bednar talks often about the three powers of the atonement. The healing power, the enabling power, and the exalting power. All three come from grace! It's through grace that we receive forgiveness, it's through grace that we become better (or more obedient for example) and it's through grace that we can eventually become exalted.
Elder Flaherty put it best during Zone Training when he said "Nobody should leave unaffected when we talk about the grace of Jesus Christ." It really has the power to change; and that for the better! It's been such a huge boost to focus on the things that really matter. And it's been amazing too, to see how all the other aspects of missionary work just fall into place as we come to understand Grace and become more consecrated.
Love you all!
-Elder Hodgson

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WEEK 62- Independence day at Manassas

Wow. That's all I can say is wow. It seems that sums up every week of my mission for one reason or another. It's a good feeling though. My very first day in the MTC, I was challenged to make my mission a "WOW" mission. Something seems to be working
This week was the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg! How cool is that! I SOOOO wish I could have driven up there to Gettysburg! It's such an amazing story. The heroes on both sides shaped our country in those three days in a way unlike any other. My favorite story is the story of the Battle of Little Round Top. The far left flank of the Union army. Outnumbered and out supplied, they had no hope of victory. The were nearly out of ammunition, then their Colonel, Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain called for a bayonet charge. With the incoming charge, the confederate troops surrendered. The battle was won. It's always been an inspiring story to me of the impact that one person can have. I've always gained such strength from it knowing that what I do does matter. Without that bayonet charge, the flank, the battle and soon after, the war, would have been lost. That ONE move by ONE man changed the course of history. Such a wonderful reminder to never underestimate ourselves.
So, as far as the WOW week goes, one of the coolest things was the 4th of July. President Riggs gave us permission to go to fireworks shows provided they fit within certain parameters.... Well, 2 blocks from home, within walking distance is Signal Hill, which had a fireworks show that was approvable!!! So, we got to go see fireworks at Signal Hill!!! It was one of the most amazing things to be there atop signal hill seeing the fireworks and hearing the boom they made. It was very cool to think about the cannons that made that noise less than 200 years ago. The acoustic nature of the valley was amazing. The fireworks just pierced as the sound reverberated. It was one of the best shows I've seen, too. They had one misfire though and go off before clearing the treeline!!! It turned out to be inconsequential, but it looked scary! It was one of the most amazing places to spend Independence Day.  God Bless America!
Friday was Mission Leadership Council again. As usual, one of the highlights of my month. We spend a lot of time working hard and bearing testimony, trying to fill the cups of others, and experiences like MLC are always amazing, because we get to be around others who have similar stories, and who bear testimony to fill your cup more. It's always a very nice "recharge."
Our new Ward Mission Leader is absolutely inspiring. He's taking the new changes and just running with them, and it's showing. The ward is catching on like wildfire!
Last Friday, we were knocking on some door when a lady came running down the street towards us: "Elders! Elders! Are you busy?" She was from the ward. "We're always busy, but we have a moment! How can we help?" She walked up this driveway and  knocked on the door! We followed and acted like we knew what was happening. When the man opened the door, she spoke. "Kevin! My husband said you had questions about our church. These missionaries will answer them! Why don't you come to our house and learn?" So he did! We taught him 3 days in a row and will be going back soon! He's a 7th day Adventist and has some KILLER questions! They're all with pure intent, but some are really tough! People always told me no to be afraid to say "I don't know" and I  have had to use that advice! haha we try to tie it back to the Book of Mormon, and invite him to just find out.
A couple weeks ago when we were knocking on some doors, we heard a voice behind us. "Hey, this is my door. But you're welcome to come in!" That's how we met Michael. As we were talking, he said something about "us Mormons" that confused us. Turns out, he was raised in the church, but lost his way and hasn't been in 15+ years! He's really ready for this in his life now and is soaking it up like a sponge! Whenever he comes to church, he has this Book of Mormon and ALL of the pamphlets we've given him. His roommate Shane is also investigating now, so we teach them both. They're some of the coolest guys, and both in school to be engineers, so they're pumped for the Elders Quorum Pinewood Derby this weekend! haha
Last night, Michael came with us to the New Member Fireside, where recent converts speak and tell their stories and share their new testimonies. It's AMAZING every time. Well, we go, and the 2nd speaker was... Nghia Tong! I don't know if you remember, but Elder Porter and I tracted into Nghia, then passed him off to the singles ward just before we left Annandale. He and I went to Nghias baptism early this transfer. He spoke! It was such a blessing (and music to a missionaries ears) to hear how his life has changed with the gospel and how his testimony has grown.
This Wednesday is the Zone Musical fireside, so we're anxious for that!!! And just before, we're giving a chapel tour to a sweet Syrian family we're teaching. They were formerly Muslims of the Eloite sect, but after moving here and having seen the violence in their country, they've concluded that no "god-fearing" man would commit acts like that. They've now turned to Christianity and love the aspects of peace and forgiveness. We watched Finding Faith in Christ with them last night and they loved it.
Love you all!!