Monday, October 28, 2013

WEEK 78- online proselytizing

Bolfing was a ton of fun! It was a blast! We dig a hole, then throw bowling balls at it!

Well, the big story of this week has been online proselyting!!! Last Saturday, President got back from a Mission President's Seminar. It was pretty great, he and sister Riggs totally made a getaway! They were gone for 4 days and nobody in the mission knew! He told Elder Cluff and I, then took off! Not even the office couples knew! But he got back Saturday night, and sent us a REALLY long text with a bunch of info and a request to meet the next day. So, we met and since then we've been preparing to go online as a mission! Elder Cluff and I got on facebook last week, our mission leadership just got on this week, and the rest of the mission will follow in another week and a half or so.

So, amid the multiple exchanges we had this week, we had to prepare a TON for the training we had on Friday. Throughout the week, we set up our accounts, helped President set his up, held a conference call with the mission leadership, taught President how to use facebook, and prepared to teach online proselyting principles to the leadership! We had a powerpoint that we used, but President also wanted us to get really familiar with facebooks security settings so we could demonstrate for everyone how to adjust settings.It was crazy!!! But so much fun! Today we had a meeting with everyone who works in the office, but we didn't stay for too long because we had to go load up the car because 5 of our missionaries got their visas! One of them, Elder Reid, was my roommate last transfer, so I was sad to see him go. that's pretty much the balance of our week! Pretty straightforward, huh!

Well, to fill this out a little more, I just thought I'd share with you all a little about what our online proselyting is like.

So, immediately after we got news we were going online, President Riggs asked me to go online to start familiarizing myself with facebooks security. Security and safety are the number one priority with all of this because of the risks that the internet can pose. President has been instructed by the bretheren that missionaries only have one strike with this. If they use facebook to socialize or for anything inappropriate, their privileges are taken for the rest of their mission.

Once our foundation of security has been laid, we then create an account and link it to I initially was going to use my old facebook account, but after realizing that that would mean going through ALL of my pictures one at a time, I decided I could be more productive in my time... haha I created a new page.

Once everything is linked, we begin proselyting! Sister Borland, one of the sisters serving with me in the Braddock Ward talked to someone in Hong Kong about the gospel on day 1!!! it was schaWEET!! It's incredible seeing the possibilities that can come from this. We can use this to keep better touch with those we teach, we can use it to teach people anywhere in the world, and we can use it to coordinate with local ward leaders, and then some!!! That's just the beginning!

For finding people, I've created a card that I carry on me. I glue it to the back of cards. We were instructed to put our page on cards, so I thought i'd make it easier for people! I added QR codes so people could access my page easier. I'll include a copy.

We're also brainstorming many other ideas of how to use the internet to spread the gospel. Friday we had a meeting where we trained the mission leadership and one other companionship on online proselyting. The extra companionship is because they're both computer Whizs. Literally, one of them won a national collegiate IT competition as a junior in high school. We're counting on their creativity!

Also, starting in early December, our mission is getting ipads and iphones! It's crazy seeing the way the work is progressing. It's been really neat, too, seeing how the Lord has prepared me to be here at this time. I grew up with a father who works on computers, so I know them pretty well. Now, as the mission transitions to the point where everything is going onto computers, the Lord has placed me in a position here in the office where I can help implement all these new things and help them run smoothly and efficiently.

Well, that's about it for today! Halloween is this week, which means we get to watch movies! It'll be pretty exciting. P-Day today is going to be pretty chill. We'll probably just go play sports with the zone. It'll be fun though!

Love you all! Until next week!

-Elder Hodgson

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

WEEK 77- exchanges

Wow! Another fun week! Amidst everything going on, we managed to go on two exchanges with some of our wonderful zone leaders! I always love exchanges because we get to just dedicate that time to training, learning, and working! It's a nice break from the office to have a full day in the field.

Wednesday, I was in Ashburn zone, back in my old tromping grounds! We did a lot of finding, and got to talk to many people about the blessings that can come through the gospel! Wednesday, I was in our area with an Elder from the Fair Oaks area, and we had a blast! We did some work on the GMU campus, which was kinda weird, not gonna lie! College campuses, gotta love 'em. I hadn't been on one since my last week at BYU. I was here for a very different reason though ;) We found an awesome young man who has faith in Christ, but doesn't know how to act upon it. Christ's teachings can definitely help there!

On that second exchange, we also got to leave the mission!!! haha Our singles ward boundaries include the Woodbridge stake, which is no longer in our mission, so we go down there periodically to visit and teach people.

This was a busy week in the office, too! We have a new senior couple, because one left for home on Wednesday. They've been picking it all up so fast, I'm amazed!!

Most of our work in the office is on the computers. All the paperwork and busywork that President would normally have to do, he delegates to us. That allows him to work more directly with the missionaries he loves. This past week, for example, I updated our reporting document on Excel to include a new indicator we're recording (which also included tying and linking info from cells all over the 18 tables in that document. I'd never done anything that intense on Excel) while Elder Cluff read through and organized a number of reports from Zone Leaders. Then later in the week, we met, and pondered and prayed over what to train the Zone Leaders on while on exchanges. We looked over graphs and info that Salt Lake sent to us, came up with a game plan, and presented it to President Wednesday morning at 4:30am when we dropped a sister off at the airport so she could return to her mission in temple square. We also created another excel spreadsheet for mile allotments (how far people can drive), and created almost 100 car magnets with VIN numbers on them so we can track vehicles on our transfer board. Plus lots of other little things... it's a total blast, but we're definitely grateful when we get out in the field! :)

We have 3 senior couples here in the office, all are fantastic. Plus, two office Elders, whom we live with, Elder Busch and Elder Shields. We have a total blast together.

So, the shields and swords from last week... Elder Gustafson and I throughout last transfer had an "Armor of God" theme. Each week, we would spend part of pday making a piece of armor out of cardboard and duct tape. Then we'd talk about it in our zone portion of district meeting! It was a lot of fun and was effective to motivate the zone! It was a blast for us, too :)

I'm out of time,  We are off to go “BOLFING”
Love you guys! Until next week!
Elder Hodgson

Monday, October 14, 2013

WEEK 76- The Singles Ward

Well, mom, we may have to work a bit to figure out how to do this now. With my new schedule, I’m not sure how to format this... I don't know what people want to hear, etc.... I guess I'll just start typing and see how it goes... please give feedback, I want to know how to do this best. Anyways, here it begins:
( we will have to shoot some questions at him to help him…too much to say and not enough time so he is not sure what to cover)

Whew! Another crazy week! I'm going to try just giving a day by day to share a bit about the adventure I'm having!

Monday, we enjoyed a wonderful p-day. At the grocery store, we saw the office elders van, so we stole their windshield wipers and put them in our truck. Then, we crossed the parking lot to go eat lunch. Well, they left while we were there. I guess we missed them, so then we called them many a time freaking out hoping they didn't die.... They survived and we returned the wipers... haha

Tuesday, we crammed in the office. We had a crazy week the rest of the week, so we rushed with that to make sure we were ready for the week.

Wednesday was the beginning of chaos. We started the day off with the new missionary expectations meeting. My job was to teach the new missionaries how to use their planners! Which I love because my planner has saved my life a million times out here. After the meeting, we ran some errands around the area before returning to meet our two new mandarin speaking missionaries and getting them all settled in!

Thursday, we had our mission leadership council, except this one was unique. We had all of our district leaders there too, so about 1/4 of the mission. MLC is an all-day event, which we were grateful for because the rain was coming down hard!!! After MLC, we had an exchange. I was with Elder Bergman, who I was in the MTC with!!! That was a total blast! Our exchange kind of got wrecked though... The sisters who rode with us to MLC needed a car for the evening. Theirs was in the shop, and with their health (lacking) and the rain (heavy), President asked us to get them a car. So, we called up some Spanish elders, who brought us a car. But they showed up way late, so we had to sit outside the mission office (can't be inside alone with the sisters) until they showed up. When they arrived, they had a screw in their tire, so we were then asked to run their car to the shop, so now we had 2 companionships carless. So we drove the Spanish Elders home, and went back to the office to take the sisters home, when we got a call from the Spanish elders that their apartment key was with their car keys at the shop.... What a day!!!  (Some days you just get points for trying)

Friday, we spent all day driving. We picked up 7 new cars from Maryland, and 3 from Tysons corner, so we drove up in the office Elders 15-passenger van, and all took our own car home. Then, we met with President, decided where to send cars, and drove some of them out to their new areas. Then, we got to teach a lesson to a wonderful young man named Sagwadi. Nghia came with us to teach the lesson, and he is doing fantastic. He testified boldly of how he came to know that the gospel was true, and after we left, he said: "man, I'm definitely going on a mission." it was so amazing to have that experience with an old investigator, but now from that new perspective. That night, about midnight, we got a call from some Hermana’s saying they lost their keys and couldn't get into their car or apartment...( its good to be needed)

Saturday was similar to Friday.

Sunday! Our first day in the singles ward! We loved the ward! It's totally different than anything I'm used to on a mission though. Everyone has served missions more recently, so they understand more how it works and there is a great energy! It  is really nice. Our bishop is amazing too. Last night, we were out in Manassas working hard and visiting some YSAs we hadn't met yet. It was great to get to know some of them a bit, and invite them to come to activities.

I rewrote a huge portion of our excel reporting document this week... that was pretty exciting. I didn't ruin it :D

Love you all! Hope your day is fantastic!

-Elder Matt

Monday, October 7, 2013

WEEK 75- Craziest week ever....I like crazy!!

Well, I'm amazed that it's only been one week! So, allow me to give a rundown of how this last week went down...

Monday was the BBQ. It was a ton of fun! We had board games, and ultimate frizbee, and President can make a mean burger on top of it all! Afterwards, President slyly followed us over to our apartment where we loaded my stuff into his car and we drove off to Springfield! For the first couple of days, there were three of us: Elder Yates, Elder Cluff, and myself. We pretty much spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday getting ready for the transfer meeting on Thursday. All the while trying to pretend I wasn't in the office haha. It was pretty entertaining. They like to keep new APs as a surprise for the Thursday Afternoon transfer meeting.

Tuesday, we had district meetings, so my cover was blown in 2 zones... Centreville zone knew because, well, one of their zone leaders was missing, and the Annandale zone... well, I showed up at their district meetings, so there was no hiding it... haha The rest of the day we spent in the office doing paperwork and preparing for...

Wednesday! The coolest day of them all!!! We got to pick up the new missionaries from the airport. Definitely one of the biggest perks of being an assistant. I LOVED it! We spent all of Monday and Tuesday quizzing each other with the incoming missionary’s pictures. The goal was to be able to greet them without using nametags... I got most of them haha, but it was great either way. It was sooo cool to just see their excitement and their anxiety all in one place. It made me remember a lot my first day, showing up and not knowing where or what do to . We got to eat dinner with them at the mission home and just get to know and love them. it was awesome. Then, that night, we went back to the office and made some adjustments to who needed to be trained by who. After a little discussion, President kicked us out of his office with our suggestions in mind, and went to find out what the Lord wanted. It was an amazing process to be a part of.  ( Next month a friend of his, sister Kelly Deaver will be in this group!!)

Thursday was transfer meeting! Which took up pretty much the whole day. It was incredible to be there with a whole different perspective to transfers. With the new paradigm I have, I could feel so strongly that each of those companionships was with exactly who the Lord needs them to be with right now. It was amazing. That night, we were at the mission home again, this time with the departing missionaries, which for me included two companions (Elders Pyne and Call), a roommate (Elder Anderson), a District Leader (Elder Timothy) and 3 others who were dear friends. It's hard to see them go, but at the same time, I'm very excited for them.

Friday, we drove them all to the airport, then were back at the office again! We had to try to get a weekends worth of work done in one day before General Conference hit.

Then it did!!! Man, Conference was incredible!!! I am so happy that we had conference this weekend. I miss conference every month that it isn't . I'm starting to feel like life is lived in 6-month increments: from April to October, and October to April. It was such a good recharge!

In between sessions yesterday, we had the opportunity to have our first correlation with our new Ward Mission Leader. Elder Cluff and I are serving in the Braddock Young Single Adult ward. So, on top of everything going on in the office, and the meetings, and the 10 exchanges we're going on to train new zone leaders (we opened 4 new zones this transfer. Totally reorganized all our zones), we're opening a new area too!!! So, we met with the Ward Mission Leader and the Sisters already in the ward yesterday, then tomorrow, we meet with the bishop, and we're getting all organized!!! 2 of the best parts, though: 1) Nghia, a young man I was helping teach previously attends there. Elder Porter and I found him, then we passed him off to the sisters, and later attended his baptism. He's in the Braddock Ward!!! And comes out with the missionaries all the time!!! I'm so pumped to see him again!!! 2) Jimmy. We taught him in Manassas for a couple months, then passed him off to the Singles ward... Well, I'm in the singles ward now!!! So I get to teach him again!!! I love both of those young men so much, and I feel so blessed to be able to work with them again.

Then we’re back to today! We were in bright and early for key indicator reporting, and then we finally get pday :) It's a good feeling haha.

Long story short, this week has been an adventure! But I love adventures, and I love missionary work. Hope you all have a fantastic week!

-Elder Hodgson

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week 74- Whatever the Lord asks

Well, this week has been crazy!!! It was a full week to begin with, what with lessons, companionship exchanges, putting in transfer outlines (for those who remember what those are)  ;)  etc. It's been a lot of fun though! Unfortunately, I really am short on time today, so I'm going to be really sporadic for most of this.
The story of our week for the work was just investigators who love seeing us, but won't keep commitments, especially coming to church. It's so frustrating/sad to see people who NEED the Lord in their lives, but just struggle to do what He asks them to do to let Him in. It was a hard week as far as that goes.
Mom's weekly questions:
What is the first sound that you hear when you wake up?:
My alarm, typically. It's a cool "Monk in the Mountain" sounding thing with a nice stream, and an echoey gong right now. It's pretty sweet.
How have you seen the Lord's hand in your week?:
This makes me think of a quote from President Monson: "The Lord is in the details of your life." This week, where was nothing HUGE in magnitude, but His hand was in the little things constantly. A small impression to go talk to someone, somebody moving into the area for us to meet with, many wonderful, little things.
So, the big news for the week... The reason this is so short!!! I've been packing my bags... Yesterday afternoon, we received a phone call from President Riggs asking if he could meet with us after a fireside we would be attending. We showed up, and afterwards, President revealed that he only needed  to meet with me. So, we found a room in the hall of the chapel we were in, and started with a prayer. I wasn't sure what it was about (I hadn't done anything wrong.... haha). He then began with: "Let's start with a worthiness interview." He asked me if I was worthy of a temple recommend and if I loved the Lord. He asked me to share with him any misconduct I've had as a missionary, and invited me to, later that night, call those elders present and apologize to them. Then, he explained to me that Elder Yates was off to finish his mission with a Greenie. That he had received guidance about who was to replace him. Well, he asked me to and, well, I said yes. So, I've been packing my bags since! Our zone has a BBQ in ten minutes President will be at, and my bags are hidden in the trunk of our car. I will be leaving the BBQ with him to go meet up with my new companion and to serve as an Assistant to President Riggs. Elder Gustafson will be comps with Elder Oliverson (one of our rommates [how perfect to have a trio of roommates!]) until Thursday when we have transfer meeting. I'm REALLY nervous, and anxious all at once... Elder Gustafson gave me a blessing last night though, so I feel better.
Anyways, gotta run to get to the bbq. Love you all!! Until next week!!!
-Elder Hodgson