Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 73- feeling the LOVE

Well, another crazy week gone by! Another crazy... yeah, my brain is too fried... It's been CRAZY though!
We had 2 exchanges this past week! One with the Assistants and one with our roommates! (That one was strange...) haha They both went really well and we had many opportunities to teach and learn and become better missionaries!
This last week was Elder G’s birthday , but he was on exchanges... with his trainer!!! So, he had the same companion for BOTH of his birthdays!!! That was pretty fun.
Things have been absolutely crazy as far as the work goes, too!! We've been running nonstop every chance we get! No time to rest! We've been working a lot with our investigators to help them  keep commitments that they make, to come to church, to read the Book of Mormon, etc. It's been exciting.
    We have a young man from the ward, who comes out with us all the time, who is leaving for his mission to Bolivia this week. That'll be sad to see him go, but we're excited for him! ( that is where my mom served her mission! It's crazy how close you get to the people you're serving with. It's incredible. The Lord opens your eyes just a little bit to the love He has for His children and you can't help but feel it for them too.

    Our purpose is to invite everyone to come unto Christ, to come to know him and one of those vital steps towards him is baptism! If we as missionaries are not inviting them to take those precious steps towards getting baptized, we are not fulfilling our purpose and we're even being deceptive (hiding our purpose from those we meet with). So, we thought we'd fix that  And the result was 14 new people setting a date to follow Christ's example and be baptized. It was incredible! People want to draw near to their savior.
    Another incredible thing came from our Ward Mission Leader. He received inspiration about mission plans. Writing and posting (in a visible place) a set of goals and principles to help families be more missionary-minded    ! We're so excited and I hope many of those who read this - regardless of their religious beliefs - will work together with their families to establish patterns of how they share what they believe!
Well, mom's question this week is about what a "normal" pday looks like! Well, it looks something like this!
6:30 - Wake UP 'leepy head!!
7:00 - eat breakfast, visit throne of thought, contemplate mysteries of life, shower, shave, contemplate more mysteries of life, dry off, dress yourself (an important step in the process)
8:00 - Personal Study
9:00 - Companionship Study - somewhere in here we get a phone call from the mission office so we can report
10:00 - On your mark, get set, GO! We usually go email from about 10:20-11:50
12:00 - lunch and shopping
1:00-2:00ish - somewhere in that range we begin doing something of our own invention. Typically it involves activities with other missionaries. Today, it involves sports and board games, and we're putting a board game we've created over the last few pdays into testing! Should be fun!
5:00 - return home, shower, and stuff face with food
6:00 - hit the streets!!! Do more missionary work! :)
Sometimes we condense the beginning of the day and go do something like tour D.C. or a museum or a battlefield. It's pretty sweet! One of my favorite pdays was just last transfer. We set up a volleyball court and hooked up Elder Flaherty's ipod to the sound system in the gym, so we had this huge volleyball game going with some music playing too!!! It was pretty sweet :)
Well, that's about all I got for today. Until next week!!! Keep your friends close and the Spirit closer!
Love you all!!
-Elder Matt

Monday, September 16, 2013

WEEK 72- The Nationals game and the Senator

WHOOO!!! This was a crazy week!!! So much happened! I'll start with the Nat's game real quick. So, Friday was that fateful day where we attended the Nats game! It was crazy, but fun!

We left in the late afternoon, and drove to the metro station in VIENNA!!! My old tromping grounds! It was so much fun! We drove the new sisters from our area to the metro, and from there we hopped on and hit the town! We took the metro in, switched lines, ended up at the ballpark, and walked from there! We made it with plenty of time to chat, see friends, meet new ones and still make it for the game! Right as we walked up, Elder Kyle Fletcher showed up!

 It was fun to see him just right from the start! After that, we started running into EVERYBODY!!! from all over the mission! It's been a while since the whole mission was in one place at one time! It was sweet getting to see everyone and getting to chat and catch up. President and his family were there, as well as the President from the D.C. North mission. Funny story from the ride there. So, we got off the metro, and right at the top of the escalator, there were some guys trying to sell hats. So, one of them starts talking to Elder G, and the other one starts talking to me and the sisters. He starts with "Hey, I don't want to take too much of your time. I know you're here with your wives and all, but..." and left us as we departed with "just want you to know, the three of you make a beautiful couple..." umm.... ok... haha  Speaking of Elder G, it was his first baseball game, so he was like a Canadian kid in a ballpark! oh, wait... haha After the game, he kept just running up to groups of missionaries and screaming: "NATS WIN!!! NATS WIN!!! I LOVE BASEBALL!!!" 


Anyways, it was a ton of fun. We had a blast, traveled safely and returned home LATE! We got back to the Metro (we rode with us and 4 sisters so it wasn't a "date") and two of the sisters we came with had a ride that had just gotten on the metro... So, we sat in the metro station for 45 minutes waiting for them to get back... Pretty crazy. We were WIPED on Saturday, but we got out and worked (only a little-bit zombie style) and had a great time!

 Last night our stake had a "why I believe" fireside that Senator Orrin Hatch spoke at. It was way cool. we got to sing in the choir and everything! It was very cool to see a politician just speak about his beliefs and why they're his.

The rest of the week is a blur... We've been working really hard lately with whatever time we have. We decided, and President agreed, that as much as we were doing for the zone, what would help them the most would be to set up our area as an example area for them all. So, we set some BHAGs (pronounced "bee-hag") (acronym in the mission for "Big Hairy Audacious Goal") and got to work! And miracles have been happening! The biggest of which is that we stay awake! haha I keep thinking of a scripture from Doctrine and Covenants section 123:

"Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—These should then be attended to with great earnestness."

We have been wasting and wearing out our lives this week and it feels SOOOO GOOD!!! Somehow, the Lord helps us find the energy to continue on. It's amazing!

We have four main people we are working with right now that are all preparing for baptism. The first is L. He is the man who used to attend the rLDS church, but is now looking into uniting himself with us. He is a very sweet old man who lost his wife a few years ago and is looking for answers. I love working with him because he is just so down to earth and honest. He's a great friend and I LOVE meeting with him and helping him to come closer to Christ.

Next is M, who is currently homeless, and makes a living doing yard work for people on a ct in our area. He often is found near the same house, so we usually find him that way. He had been so prepared to hear the gospel. During one of our lessons, we asked him what he felt our purpose was in meeting with him, and he flat out replied: "you're angels, who have been sent to bring me back to Christ." It has been very humbling meeting with him and helping him to understand why and how to come back to Christ.

Finally, we have V and M, who are sisters. We were knocking on their door as they pulled up and asked who we were. We began talking to them and they were very open to meeting with us. We sent the sister missionaries to meet them and now we're working together to teach them and they feel the Spirit strongly  which will help guide them.

Mom asked about our apartment:

My apartment has 5 missionaries in it right now. Elder G and I, and one of the Spanish trios, Elder C, Elder O and Elder R. Elder G is my comp. Elder C is from Uruguay. He moved to the states when he was 12 to live with his sister, and was baptized around age 15. He was called English speaking, but then was switched to Spanish because, well, he knows it so well. He came to Manassas right when I did, so he and I have been roommates for almost 6 months! Elder O is from Sandy, Utah, and goes home in November with Elder C. They both might stick together until they go home. When I was at BYU I home-taught a girl that was writing Elder Oliverson, so that's kind of funny seeing that connection there. Elder R is from Utah as well, and is waiting for a visa to Argentina. Hopefully it takes a while to get here because he's awesome :)

We live in a gated apartment complex, which means no parking pass required, thank goodness! It's a nice complex, but our apartment itself was damaged pretty badly by previous missionaries. But hey, it's home. It's a nice two-bedroom place, and we definitely got the deal. The rooms and closets are about the same size, but our bathtub is big enough to run laps in! It's HUGE! And we have these nice, carpeted bathrooms and stuff. Ah. It's wonderful. haha We're right by a train station (a track that's been going through Manassas for at least a hundred years) and we're right down the road from Signal Hill, which is way cool! There's lots  of civil war earthworks within our area!

Overall, it's a great place. I love it!

Well, anyways, my time is short, but I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!

Love, -Elder Matt

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 71- The Lords Lawyers

I'm so sorry. This is another wimpy letter.
So, last Tuesday, after I wrote you guys, most of our epic day fell through, but not all of it! Some great stuff happened! Wednesday, we thought we were actually going to do some REAL missionary work! We were SOOO excited! Then, the phone call came... We got another sister in the zone! This officially makes us the largest zone in the mission!!! So, we spent the afternoon picking up and dropping off a mattress for Sister Hodgkin (no, I'm not joking) to sleep in. So, she arrived that evening (during which we did get to do work) and we went from there! It's been pretty crazy having her in the zone... On top of the name... She was serving in the temple square mission, so she won't be here long, but she's from Germany, and lived in ROSEVILLE for a few years before her mission!  It's kinda awkward. People keep slipping. I've been here for a while, so people are finally figuring out how to pronounce my name... Then she shows up, and well, my name just rolls off the tongue. President even said in a prayer that he was grateful to have Sister Hodgson here with us.... haha
 Thursday was that day of wonderfulness we call MLC. It was fantastic! As always. It was Elder Gustafson's first, too, so that was fun.
 Friday, was Zone Conference! Whoo!!! We went over a lot of the basics of teaching, which is great. I always love doing that and getting a reminder of the important things. Not to mention how many new missionaries we have! Man, at one point, I dropped my pen on the ground, and President ran over and stomped on it! Just snapped it! Turns out, he meant to kick it, but lost his balance... so I'm a pen short now...  :P
Saturday was our big day. We had the WHOLE day to just work! It felt soooo good going out and just teaching and finding! We had 3 people set days for their baptisms that day. It was so exciting to see people feeling the Spirit and recognizing the steps they need to take to come closer to Christ.

So, you're probably wondering, 1) why this is so short. 2) What this title is about. Well, we've been having trouble in the mission with people getting their cars towed. It's costing missionaries a lot of money. Well, recently, we discovered a state ordinance that could potentially save missionaries a bunch of money. President asked us to investigate, so we've been spending some of our internet time looking up Virginia state laws, and emailing lawyers in the ward. If all goes well, we'll be able to save missionaries hundreds of dollars.... Fingers crossed!

Hope things are going well! Love you!
Elder Matthew Hodgson
So, it all starts as far as we're aware 2 weeks before transfers. Before this time, President and sometimes the Assistants will begin prayer and pondering. Leadership is usually considered as in who should become a new leader, though locations of those leaders are often not considered this early on (so I have been told). New missionaries are also considered, and trainers initially selected. (the trainee situation is adjusted and switched as necessary, sometimes even the night before once President interviews them). Anyways, 2 weeks before is when we get involved. The District Leaders prayerfully consider their district and recommend who stays and who goes. They also recommend potential trainers and district leaders. The Zone Leaders take those outlines, pray over them, make necessary changes, and submit a zone outline to President Riggs and the Assistants. This also includes potential zone leaders in the mix. President and the Assistants take those outlines, and they go to work! Eventually, everything is "finalized." Leadership calls go out Monday evening (New trainers, district leaders and zone leaders). President often does these calls, but has been known to delegate to the assistants (at least in cases of District Leaders and Trainers). Tuesday evening are the "transfer calls." The Assistants call each of the zone leaders and simply say who is staying and who is going. Essentially "pack" or "don't pack." The Zone Leaders call the District Leaders and pass on specifics about their district, and then the District Leaders call each companionship in their district. Thursday, at 8:30, the trainers and the trainees meet at the church. The trainers meet in the relief society room and the trainees in the primary room. They each have a meeting designed to help orient them or prepare them to train. Then, the "sorting hat ceremony" occurs. they all come into one room (the chapel recently, since there's so many new missionaries) and get assigned to their trainers. Finally, at 12:30, the rest of the mission gathers in the chapel sitting and singing hymns until the newest companion ships join us. We all stand when Sister Riggs enters, and by 1:00, the transfer meeting is underway! It typically involves some training from President, Sister Riggs and the assistants. Sister Riggs introduces the new missionaries, and President reads off the transfers! By zone, he reads off who will be with who and where, including necessary addendum such as who will be senior, who will serve as district leader, etc. Then, afterwards, we gather in the parking lot, shift suitcases into new cars, and we scatter! It's pretty awesome!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

70 b - busy week, temple trip and trying to make Satan ":Cry like a girl"

Wait, didn't I just email? Oh my gosh this week went quick!!! We had so much happen, and so little time for it to happen in! Really, a week is pretty short! haha
Monday evening, we got to do missionary work!!! We were so happy to do that! It's kind of funny, sometimes I feel like I'm only going out to work because that's what I'm here to do, but other times, I LONG for it! This week was one of those weeks. I just relish every opportunity we have to get out and work!
Tuesday, we had district meetings. We always start district meetings with a zone portion, which is pretty much our time to fire up and motivate the zone. It's a lot of fun. Elder Gustafson and I were talking about what to do, then suddenly it hit us: The armor of God! There are 6 pieces of armor, and 6 weeks in a transfer! How perfect! So, Tuesday, we began by talking about the breastplate of righteousness. So, we walked in with our big cardboard and duct tape breastplates with the Washington D.C. and Canadian flags hanging from the shoulders like a cape and started firing up the zone! It was sweet! The district leaders jumped right on board, and now the entire Centreville Zone is waging a war against Satan! It's purpose? To make him cry like a little girl! Thus we make him mad , every time we find someone or teach a great lesson, or are obedient to mission rules.
Wednesday, we got to do missionary work again! We have a member who we're helping to return to church and she had an interview with the Bishop that went very well! We're so excited for her!
We had another awesome day of missionary work Thursday! Our phone still rang of the hook, but we weren't running errands and doing paperwork all day! haha
Friday, the errands picked up again, but we still managed to find some time to work! Friday was really our miracle day! In the 4 hours we had to do work, we found 4 new people to teach, taught 3 different lessons and contacted a referral! It was amazing to see that many blessings in quick succession!!!
Saturday, we arranged to do a blitz, which is always a lot of fun. Pretty much, you get everyone that works in different aspects of the same area (i.e. - us, the sisters, and a set of Spanish missionaries) and all go tract somewhere! We happened to pick an area that mostly spoke Spanish, so I didn't get to get a single door in English! Elder Gustafson just did all the English and I did the Spanish! It was a lot of fun. That evening, I had the wonderful privilege of returning to Annandale to witness the baptism of an amazing man I taught during my time there. It was a beautiful service, and hearing his amazing new testimony touched me deeply. He said at one point: "Next month I celebrate my 47th birthday. But according to the bible I'm less than an hour old! And those other 46 years mean little to me now, because what counts is this new life I have just begun."
Sunday, we had a great finish to the week as we met with that returning member again and she really opened up about some of her questions and concerns. It was an amazing evening.
Monday, we got up bright and early to go to the temple! An almost-missionary and his mother took us there, and it was just fantastic. Any day that starts with the temple is a good day in my book! One of the biggest bummers about a mission is how little we get to go worship there.
Today, we had part 2 of the armor: our feet shod with the gospel of peace! So, we had some pretty sweet footwear we created to go with the breastplates. We also had a video we showed the zone. Last night, the Assistants told us they would be bringing this video by. Then, they texted and said they might require us to be just a little apostate and stay up after 10:30 so they could drop it off. Then about 11:15 they texted and said to just go to sleep and keep the ringer on. Then at 3:30, our phone rang! There they were, at the door with our DVD. Their shirts were untucked and their ties loosened. They looked even more run down than we did! And we were their first stop of the night! They still had to stop by 6 other zone leader apartments!
Well, another week come and gone!
Someone get Satan some tissues, because we have a killer evening planned! :)
-Elder Hodgson