Monday, August 26, 2013

WEEK 69- The Craziest

I have to begin (and I'll likely end) with apologies and groveling. This has been the craziest week of my mission! We had 42 new missionaries come into the mission this past week, which meant a LOT of shuffling. Leadership calls came in Monday and Elder Flaherty has been called to step down from being a zone leader and train a new missionary! He was wanting that so bad, so I'm glad he got it :) That also means I'm staying in Manassas! So, my Elm ct. address will be good for another 6 weeks :)
My new companion is Elder Gustafson. I'm training him as a new zone leader. He was in Ashburn with me for 2 transfers, and was Elder Cannons MTC comp, so we're excited for this transfer! We have a TON of fun stuff planned! He's from Canada, too :)
So, here's the part where my apology comes in. Because of the craziness happening (more details to come), I've had to spend most of my time today completing reports for the mission office :/ So, next week, I'm literally going to just sit down, type a GOOD report for the past two weeks, proofread it and make sure it's GOOD, and send it before I do ANYTHING else on the computer.
By way of preview (and to help me remember), here's a few things that happened this week:
-The Manassas 1st ward now has a companionship of Sisters we're assimilating into the ward.
-One of the sisters is from Cali!
-We had 42 new missionaries at transfers.
-we opened the overflow at transfers.
-A sister from Carmichael just arrived! I'm not alone from the Sac-town area!
-Elder Gustafson and I are working hard and having a blast!
-We've spent nearly all weekend getting people settled in, supplied and organized.
-We've still found time to do missionary work!
-The Lord is blessing our efforts with some very productive new friends.
-Our zone had 4 new areas open!
-Most of our zone is new missionaries (out less than 3 months)
-We grew! from 28 missionaries to 38!
-We saw at least 3 HUGE miracles this week.
-We gave multiple priesthood blessings.
-We had another musical fireside.
-It was incredible.
-We gave the sisters a lot of our investigators
-We found some new ones!
-This is HARD and BUSY
-I love it
-I can do all things with the Lord helping me
-I've seen it this week
-That's the only reason I'm not bedridden
-I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is real and true
Again, I'm sorry for the brevity. The office is overflowing, and well, I always offer to help out... which sometimes ends up with me being really swamped.
But hey, I love it that way.
The work is great. The people here are amazing and i'm loving every day!
Love you all!
Until my REALLY GOOD letter next week!  J
I'm sorry again.
-Elder Hodgson
pics: look what we found!!!
Me and the Olsons, a senior couple serving in Ashburn... until today :(

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 68- exchanges and office runs

Well, this was a busy week! One of those ones where we end it and crash every day. With transfers coming up this week, Elder F and I want to have it be a strong one since it will likely be our last together. We still don't know what's going to happen to us. I've been here longer, but Elder Flaherty might go train a new missionary, so it's all up in the air right now!
This week, we had two more exchanges! They were back to back days, and I stayed in Manassas for both of them! Poor Elder Flaherty was all over the place! We had a great time though! The first exchange, I was with Elder A, who is from Samoa and awesome. The second one, I had Elder F who is new and excited about it all! haha We had a great time and got some great stuff done. My favorite part of exchanges is the training. At the beginning and end of exchanges, we set aside some time to just training the missionaries we're working with. I love it because it's just some time set aside that we can talk and learn together. They often ask questions or share concerns that don't otherwise come out, so it's great to have that opportunity.
Twice this week we went to the mission office. With the new mail policy and the office not being able to forward mail, the place is overflowing with mail! So, we've gone a couple of times and grabbed people's mail so they can have it more than once a month haha. We're everybody's favorite people all of a sudden! haha Speaking of mail. We don't know what's going on with transfers this week, so please don't send anything until next week when I either announce that I'm still here or give my new address.
Other than knocking on a lot of doors, most of our week has been preparing things for transfers. We're to the point where the office has signed leases on all the new apartments we're having missionaries move into, so we have to get them all prepared. We've been running around picking up keys, checking places, making sure they're clean, working with the wards to furnish apartments, etc. It's been a blast, but very busy!
As I mentioned last week, we went to the Manassas battlefield. It was amazing!!! I'm so glad I went! I would have killed myself if I was here for 4 months and never saw it! haha I was amazing seeing all the places the battles happened and seeing the stories retold and relived. I included a few pictures of the Stone Bridge (the sight of the decoy approach of union armies during 1st manassas and the place of retreat of union armies during 2nd manassas), Sudley ford (the actual approach of union armies during 1st manassas), and a statue of Stonewall Jackson (1st manassas is where he got the nickname).
The 40-day-fast is going really well. There were some questions asked about it, so I'll clarify that for you all. Pretty much, the fast has 10 steps to it:
1) fast on fast Sunday. This is the only day of the 40-day-fast we actually fast, so I really don't know why we call it a 40-day-fast. haha It's like a 40-day-spirituality-improvement-plan-that-starts-with-a-fast in all actuality.
2) While in the attitude of fasting and prayer, make a list of all your behaviors that poke at your spirit. All the "buttons" Satan has that are separating you from the next level of spirituality.
3) During your evening prayers, covenant that you will be diligent in your commitment to this list.
Every morning, repeat steps 4-6:
4) During your morning prayers, go over your list with our Father in Heaven
5) Visualise the temptations that will beset you during the course of hte day
6) Tell the Lord which of the behaviors you will focus on that day
Each evening, repeat steps 7-9:
7) During your evening prayers, review the list and how you did on each
8) Show gratitude for successes you had that day
9) Seek forgiveness and recommit to failures you had that day
10) repeat daily for 40 days.
It's been a fun challenge, and frustrating sometimes to see how easy somethings are to change once we make up our minds, and how difficult other habits can be! We're all very excited to see the result of the fast. We've noticed many changes already.
This week, we're excited for all that's going on! New areas, transfers, lots of changes happening, it'll surely be an adventure!
But that's how I like life anyway.
Love you all!
-Elder Hodgson

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week 67- first week of the fast

First, an announcement!  Because mail is SO IMPORTANT to a missionary. …. The United States Postal Service will no longer be forwarding mail from the mission office to our apartments without monetary compensation. The dilemma thus remains that large pools of mail will be left in the mission office until such time as the zone leaders can pick it up. The solution: we will no longer request mail to be sent to the mission office! From now on, please send mail DIRECTLY to my apartment. I'll keep you posted on moves, that's my responsibility. Your responsibility is to no longer send mail to Burke ct. Also, with this new change, fedex and UPS are now acceptable forms of delivery, since both will go straight to the apartment. Well, that's the news, now my address! We live at
4911 Elm ct. #618
Manassas Park, VA
Hope to hear from you soon! ;)

Well, other than that, this week was only mostly super insane!!!
Last Monday, we converted more people to the zombie board game. It's pretty much just addicting (for pday use only , some must just fight the addiction).
Tuesday, we had an awesome district meeting! Our mission is trying to stop using the word "message!" No more "Hi, we're sharing a message about..." or "Do you have some time we could share a message about..." Nope, we just start teaching! i.e. - "You lived with our Heavenly Father before you came to earth, did you know that? He's sent you here as part of a great plan...." or "About 200 years ago, a young man was very confused and wanted to know which of all the churches was true. Have you ever wanted to know which of all the churches is true? Well, let me tell you what he did. You will find you can follow a similar pattern to find the answer for yourself..." …just TELL WHAT WE BELIEVE.  It's sweet! So, that's what district meetings was about. It was sweet.

For lunch, I tried Juevos Rancheros! It was really good, but I still can't figure out what the "Rancheros" was I had on my eggs.... all I know is it's tasty! :)

Then, we had an exchange with the APs! Last time I went to their area, this time I stayed right here in Manassas! It was a lot of fun! We taught a lesson to L that was  amazing! Top 10 most spiritual lessons of both our missions, easy! Words just can't explain it. It was just sacred.

The rest of the week we've been busy between teaching, member visits and meetings! We had another Stake Correlation with President Dionne, the new Stake President, and he's just amazing! He never ceases to amaze me. Nor does Brother Craigo, our Ward Mission Leader. It's sweet to see this work hastening!

We had a lot of good teaching experiences this week, and did some good stuff...
We started the 40 day fast, and it's going so well! As we are all cleansing the inner vessel, the outer work is picking up already! It's amazing!

This next week is going to be another busy one! Manassas battlefield today, another cleanse this week, a run to the office to pick up the zone's mail, two exchanges, and some awesome lessons already planned! It's gonna be good!
Sorry this week is a little short. We're trying to run to make sure we have time at the battlefield...
Love you all!!
- Matthew

P.S. - You're probably wondering about the pictures... Those were precautionary after our roommates’  car crash a couple weeks ago. We wore them to zone training last week for fun... freaked out some of the sisters... haha

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Week 66- and thy confidence shall wax strong..........

Well, another week come and gone! And this one a busy one too! I'm to the point where I'm thanking the Lord that I'm still on my feet and still have energy! But, that's how I've always wanted my mission to be, so I'm okay with that. :) As long as He does keep me on my feet ;) haha
Today for PDay, we're doing more music rehearsal, then us and some of the Elders are playing that zombie board game again.  NEXT week, however, we're going to the Manassas Battlefield :) I'm really PUMPED for that :)
So, mom asked about car wrecks, since there have been so many around here lately.   In short, here's how it works. If someone gets in an accident, there's a report they have to fill out for the mission. They usually call us and ask us to walk them through the process (though sometimes *cough cough* they know how the process works from previous experience haha). They call Sister Riggs (our medical go-to) and our Car Zsar (currently Elder Harris, from one of the office couples). Sister Riggs tells them to go the ER for medical clearance, D.r Dunn (our over-the-phone mission doctor) is contacted if from there more needs to be done. The missionaries also have to appraise the car and include that in the damage report. If more than $1500 of damage is done, they will usually lose driving privileges for the rest of their mission. So, it's a pretty long exciting process! haha

We're still getting many influxes of missionaries! We're getting blitzed! It's awesome! And kinda stressful! haha We're averaging 30 missionaries every 6 weeks. The next group his the ground on the 22nd!

So, this week was crazy busy! We had Mission Leadership Council again, which I always love, and tons of other meetings and paperwork to take care of, and amidst all of that, we got work done! We set a new personal record for me! This last week, we taught more lessons than any week of my mission! We were so busy! It was a BLAST!
By particular mention, L, the former rLDS man we are teaching is growing so much! He is being fellow shipped by some wonderful families in the ward, and he's loving the gospel and the doctrine that we share with him!
This week, MLC ( missionary leadership council) changed my life! Well, it does that one way or another every month, but this month will be one I remember for the rest of my life. I've been feeling a lot recently like I've been plateauing: as a missionary, as a servant of the Lord, and as a person in general. I haven't noticed the growth in myself that I wanted and that scares me! I ALWAYS want to be growing! And in MLC, we found a way to do that. We read "Thy Confidence Shall Wax Strong in the Presence of God" by Robert Quinn and talked about it. We are now doing the challenge that he explains in the talk. Our entire mission, having now built “a wall” as we learned from Nehemiah, is now going to dedicate that wall. We're consecrating ourselves over the next 40 days so we can more effectively enter the presence of God in our work. Yesterday, we started by fasting, and while fasting, we made a list of the things we needed to fix in ourselves. Now, day and night, we review that list with God and share with him our successes and struggles, and each day, we recommit to fixing those things about ourselves. I'm SO EXCITED for this! It's only day 2 and I'm noticing progress. It's amazing.
Another fun part of this 40-day effort we're doing, is it ends on September 13th. The Virginia Day of service that they used to do out here (and in other states) is now becoming a national day of service. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has spearheaded a lot of this effort, and in response to that, the Washington D.C. South mission has been invited to represent the church at the kick-off ceremony for the national day of service, which takes place at the Nationals game that day!!! So, we're getting to improve ourselves SOOO much in these 40 days, and at the end of it, we get a little celebration. It's amazing.
So, one problem with this. We usually do zone training the next week, but with a fast starting yesterday, we had to do zone training before then! So we had to fit it in Friday or Saturday, which proved difficult! We ended up doing two sessions! One Friday morning and one Saturday morning! The Spirit was so strong at each though, it was WORTH doing twice! I loved it!
Speaking of Saturday, we spent the whole day in our suit pants! We left halfway through studies to go to Zone Training (which we arrived at wearing neck braces just for fun ..with all the car wrecks we have been helping with[pictures to come next week]), then went from there, taught lessons all day, and didn't make it back home even to change until the night was over! We just collapsed! .... Then got up and planned for the next day... Then collapsed again!!! haha I LOVE days like that.
Well, I'm running out of time, but i love you all! Talk to you all soon! I can't wait to hear about your week! It sounds crazy! :)