Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WEEK 82- Mission tour

So, this week was SUPER exciting!! Elder Teh from the first quorum of the seventy came to tour our mission and it was incredible! I'll give you a blow-by-blow of the week...

So, Tuesday was when it all began. We started off busily preparing for Elder Teh's arrival. The office staff was hustling all about like elves on Christmas eve getting everything ready to go. It was amazing! The office looked so nice!! That evening, President asked Elder Cluff and I to be in the office a little before their arrival working on other things so we would just be there when they arrived. After picking up Elder and Sister Teh from the airport, President and Sister Riggs met us at the office and we began by meeting with the six of us. We talked a little bit about what was going on in the mission and then we were kicked out so the four of them could talk. After that, Elder Cluff was interviewed. As we were waiting outside, President pulled me aside. "You know what?" he said, "This is probably not going to be a very common to interview one-on-one with a general authority on your mission. Why don't you step into my office and close the door so you can prayerfully gather your thoughts?" So I had the opportunity to come up with a couple questions I had and just prepare myself spiritually to talk with Elder Teh. After that, I was up! He asked me a little bit about my family and mission, a little bit about the mission as a whole, then asked if I had any questions for him. It was really neat to have some of my questions answered (or at least to be pointed in the right direction).

Wednesday morning, we were up bright and early for our first of three conferences with Elder Teh. This was the biggest one, we had four zones in attendance, and we really got to just bask in the Spirit. It was incredible. Each conference started with a leadership portion, then we went to meet with all of the missionaries.

Thursday was similar to Wednesday, with the next three zones. My notebook is absolutely full!! haha things I missed the first day were filled the second. It was incredible.

Friday was by far the coolest. Our last three zones met with Elder Teh, but this time, everything that was said by a person was already in my notebook! So, on day three, my notes consisted purely of things the Spirit whispered to me. I'd heard the words, but there were things the Lord needed me to learn that I hadn't yet.

Friday afternoon after the conferences and our concluding meeting with the Tehs, the Riggs dropped them off at the airport. As they were dropping them off, Elder Teh told President that these conferences were intended to be zone conferences. "what?!" haha Nobody had told President! So he was busting his back trying to still hold 10 more zone conferences! haha So, they were all cancelled! Which means Elder Cluff and I get to do tons and tons of normal missionary work! Our schedules are wide open now! haha it was funny, our whole transfer was scheduled for us, literally, and suddenly we had nothing. There was this moment of "Wow, what do we do now?...." "I guess we could just... I don't know, do missionary work..." *lightbulb* "YES!!!" haha, so we're pumped! We met with our Bishop immediately and are just hitting the pavement with our ward. We want to take advantage of this time before transfers and holidays set in again... haha

Yesterday, our organist didn't show up to church, so the bishopbric asked me to accompany the ward. Now they all know I play, and I've now been asked to play for the Christmas program in a few weeks, to accompany some singers at the ward Christmas party, and I've been warned I may be asked to accompany the ward choir for a number too... haha I don't know when I'm going to practice :P but LOVE playing again.

This week, for Thanksgiving, our Bishop invited us over, so that will be way fun!

We currently have 3 sisters serving in the ward with us. Sister McCormick was proclaiming the gospel too enthusiastically or something and strained her vocal chords... Whatever happened, the doctors say she can't speak for 2 weeks. Fortunately, the Lord put a trio of sisters in the zone this transfer, so we just pulled one of them over!

Lets, see.... other exciting things happening... Well, missionary work... haha We're slowly figuring out this whole online proselyting thing...  We get our iPads and iPhones on December 11th along with the rest of the mission leadership council. We haven't been told when the rest of the mission is getting them. Likely the next week when the zone leaders can train them...

But yeah! That was our week was the mission tour. It was an incredible opportunity to have and hear from a general authority, and my notebook is stacked!  

Love you all! Until next week!

-Elder Matt

we have asked our children to send us pictures for the Christmas card....hhhmmmm

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

WEEK 81- Crazy transfer time again

Meet  Joseph Kambo!!! I taught him in Annandale, then he got a job and was away on on the job training for a month, then I was moved......he is strong , brave and wonderful and Loves the Lord!!  Proud to be a member of the same church as this man.

Well, yet another proof that transfer weeks are the craziest weeks ever!!! I'll run you through my week this week....

Monday, Preparation day! We joined the Springfield Zone for a dart war! They have a ton of PVC blow-guns and darts, and we basically just divided into teams, ran around and shot each other!!! It was a total blast!

Tuesday, we went to the beginning of zone training, but we had to leave early to get to the "train the trainers" meeting at the mission home. We spent the afternoon with all the missionaries who would be training new missionaries and helping them get prepared to train! President, Sister Riggs, Elder Cluff and I each run a station. My station was on inspired questions, so we talked about why inspired questions are important and how to make our questions most effective.

Wednesday, we finished with some prep and picked up the new missionaries from the airport! And one of them was from Rocklin!!! haha Sister  Deaver arrived safe and sound this past week! Kellys companion is Sister Egbert, a visa waiter who is going to Brazil. She's one of our best trainers right now, really solid and understands what she's here to do. Very fun girl, too. I guess she used to be a rodeo clown at a local rodeo.
After picking them up, we drove into D.C. and saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial, then headed back to the mission home! After dinner and training the new missionaries in online proselyting, we went back to the office to finish prep for transfers! We knocked it out pretty quickly and weren't up too late! Still pretty late, but not too late. haha We also had to drive 6 new cars down to the Centreville Stake Center. Thank goodness for the office elders! They turned 6 runs into 2 since they came along!

Thursday was transfers! We all gathered at the Stake Center for that fateful occasion! This transfer I was conducting, which was fun. It was my first time. It's always exciting to start out with "President Matthew L. Riggs with be presiding today. I'm Elder Matthew L. Hodgson and I'll be conducting..." It's pretty fun with my Companion a Matthew too!! Three Matthews

This transfer meeting was a bit rough, because my MTC sisters were headed home... :( It's been a good 18 months serving with them, but they're off now. It's really weird... For the first time it's actually hitting that this ends at some point... Other friends go home, and it's still not quite real, but when your sisters go home... it hits...

Thursday night, we had a great meal and a great spiritual evening with final testimonies and instruction from President. Then we got to go bowling! Departing night is one of the perks that makes all the craziness of this assignment worth it . It's also known as "trunky eve" though for the assistants.. haha it takes some drive to get back into gear  on Friday .

Friday morning, we drove the departing missionaries to the airport. The van was full, so Elder Flaherty hopped in the truck with me and the luggage. That was really neat to have a little more time with him before he left.

After dropping off the missionaries, we went back to the office for a conference call with the Zone leaders!!

Finally, Saturday, the sisters in our ward had a baptism for one of their investigators, and we had access to the font keys, so we filled the font for them! Sister Borland was transferred, so now it's Sister McCormick and Sister Smith! I was Sister Smith's zone leader when she was fresh off the plane, so it's a blast serving in her ward now and seeing her adjust to life as a Sister Training Leader.  Sister Training Leaders are sisters that are called to uplift and inspire the sisters in the mission. Since Elders cannot counsel and train sisters on the same, personal level they can counsel and train elders, the Sister Training Leaders are amazing and wonderful. They typically go on 2, sometimes 3 exchanges with Sisters each week, and report back to district and zone leaders on their progress and needs, in addition to providing training during the exchanges.
Sunday night, we had a dinner appointment that one of the brothers in our ward signed up for... Turns out he's the Stake President's son, so we had dinner with President Bush! (the name is coincidence)

It's been a busy, exciting week, but we're ready for another one! Currently the office staff is running around deep cleaning the office because Elder Teh of the Seventy is flying in tomorrow to tour our mission.

Hope all of you are doing well!

Love you!
Elder Hodgson

Hey, just a heads up. We start our zone conference run next week... We'll be busy every weekday for the next 3 weeks, which means we don't have an open Monday until December 16th. President says he'll probably switch our Preparation days to Saturdays, so when you don't hear from me next Monday, that's why... It'll be coming eventually...

Friday, November 15, 2013

WEEK 80- the approach of transfers and office mayhem

This week was another exciting one!

Tuesday, we went out with our Elders Quorum President to visit a bunch of people from the ward! It was fun to get to know him and the ward better and do some work with him.

Wednesday, We went to the departing missionary temple trip! President takes the departing missionaries each transfer and the assistants get to go. Elder Flaherty, one of my old companions was there, as were Elders Creager and Oliverson, roommates from Manassas, Elder Holfeltz, one of my role models out here, Sisters Jeppson and Goates, my MTC sisters (Sister Evans is in the Richmond mission :( ) and many other great friends. It was a beautiful experience. That night, we spent a lot of time at the mission home helping President prepare for transfers and for the zone conferences we're going to have. It was way fun. It was neat to to talk about some of the struggles the mission is facing and the things we can teach so we  we  all can be empowered and become better servants. We also spent a lot of time working with the transfer board and prayerfully finding what the Lord would like us to do. It was awesome. It was amazing to just be a part of such open revelation, as we tried putting different companionships together, and trying different ideas out and just seeing how they felt. One of the things President often says during that process is "the Lord has already decided where everyone needs to be. Our job is simply to discover what He has decided."

Thursday we had Return and Report, which is when all the new missionaries and their trainers come together and we see how their mission experience has been so far. It was way cool to see all of them again, remembering when they were fresh off of the airplane and so nervous and now seeing them becoming settled in the mission life. it was awesome. That evening, I accomplished the single greatest task I've ever completed using Microsoft Excel. We have this HUGE spreadsheet called the "reporting document" that deals with recording the mission's key indicators. Well, we separated the mission from 6 zones into 10 this transfer, so we had to do some adjusting on that. Most of it was done, but Friday was Mission Leadership Council and we always have a powerpoint of zone accountability where we show each zone's indicators for the past 3 months. So, I had to go back 3 months in the reporting document and sort the areas from the old zones into the new ones and get them to show up with accurate reports of all the indicators for the past 3 months. I ended up setting up a spare monitor the office has so I could link the displays. i had the powerpoint on one and the spreadsheet on the other so I could be updating both... It was crazy intense!!!

Friday was another Mission Leadership Council. Elder Cluff and I taught the leadership of the mission how to motivate and inspire others so they could be better at lifting their zones.

Saturday was more office work, staying busy as always. We also had the opportunity to teach a sweet guy from Turkey who didn't have a belief in God. It was really neat starting with just the basics of prayer and who God is.

Sunday was church. I'm not sure I've said this yet, but we share the ward with a companionship of sisters. Sister Borland (who I've served near for almost a year) and Sister McCormick, who I didn't know too well until this transfer. They're the Sister Training Leaders for our area and way fun to serve with. We had the New Member Fireside in the evening! It was weird sitting on the stand for that fireside... .haha I accompanied two musical numbers yesterday. Sister Borland sang, and I accompanied her, then at the fireside, I accompanied Elder DeHaan (who I've served near a few times and is currently my zone leader) and Sister Goates (whoI was in the MTC with). Later that night, we called all the missionaries who will be training new missionaries to extend the assignment to them.

Today we had a dart war at one of the chapels! Elder Riggs got a ton of 18inch pvc pipes and a boxload of darts, so we had a whole bunch of wars with those, then played volleyball!! It was super fun! One of the best preparation day activities I've been to in a while.

That's been our week. it's been super busy, but we both love it. We're starting to grow really attached to the short hours we have in our beds, too haha. It's sometimes very sad for us to not be doing normal missionary work as much as we'd like, but we are often reminded that if we don't fulfill our responsibilities here in the office, thr missionary work id impeded , so that makes us feel better. We just pull as hard as we can to be out and about. It's a great life!  We also enjoy spending the time we do with President Riggs and his family. I'm really learning a lot from him and hoping to pick up on as many good habits as possible.

I love you all! Until next week!

-Elder Hodgson
~what is your goal until Christmas? to finish up the new year???

My goal is to have a baptism while serving as an assistant. Maybe even two! It's very rare for that to happen though because of the other responsibilities, so I want to change that!

~what is your exercise program / Routine?

Right now... haha let's just say I'm not actively doing six months to sexy.  We'll sometimes run to the high school and back, we play tennis with a soccer ball sometimes, it's a lot of fun.

~ what is one thing mom and dad should probably not know about your mission so far?
Mostly just mission drama

~you both "left someone behind" to serve the do you feel about that? what is your council to others? how much do you want to know of their lives at home?

I don't regret it at all. I've come out with many wonderful memories, and I know that, whatever happens, many more memories will come. I don't mind knowing much about life at home, I LOVE hearing how people are doing and what's going on in their life. I'd say the best council I could give would be to just trust the Lord.. Early on in my mission, my energy supply came from letters I received. I soon found that was simply not adequate for the demanding lifestyle of a missionary. One of the most trying times on my mission was when I worked to change my source and my focus to the Lord, but it was the most rewarding transition I've made. My advice would just be to make the transition early.

~ what was the best moment of the week?

Probably being in the temple. I miss that place.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 79 - Happy Haunting

This week was an exciting one! Well, let's be honest, in the mission field, EVERY week is an exciting week!

One awesome thing I neglected to mention was last week, one of my exchanges was to Manassas!!! haha it was way fun visiting the old area, teaching some of those wonderful people again, seeing the old roommates, etc. It really is amazing how attached you become to the people you serve. It's almost not fair, because you only get a couple months. I truly love the people here in Virginia.

This week, I went on another SWEET exchange! I was with Elder Riggs!!! I don't know how many of you remember that name, but we were companions in the missionary training center!!! It was amazing to work together again! Catching up, spending time together, it was just awesome.. Elder Riggs and I, ever since the MTC have just had a teaching style that meshes. Part of it was probably because we learned how to teach together. We went to teach a young man named T early on in the exchange. We had an amazing meeting and he has choosen a date for his baptisim.  It was so exciting to see the Spirit work through us so powerfully even after 18 months. The rest of the exchange was a blast, teaching together, tracting together (something you don't get to do in the MTC), and just seeing how much we've changed - and how little in some ways.

I also hit my 18 month mark this week! haha pretty crazy, eh?

Halloween was also this week. We watched Monsters University and Megamind with our zone. We had a total blast doing it!

Friday we had a really cool opportunity. We have an Elder who is a fantastic missionary who was home for a shoulder surgery. Well, he came back this week! On Friday! Friday is date night for the Riggs, so we avoid interrupting that unless it's an emergency. Last Friday, they had all the stake presidents over for dinner, so they really couldn't get out of that, so Elder Cluff and I got to go pick up this Elder! He and another missionary have been called to open a new area, so we got to do all the fun activities like providing them with apartment keys, a phone, a car, all that jazz, and we got them all set up and off on the road! It was really fun.

This week, we also started preparation for next transfer... Just a quick glance....
Next transfer is 5 weeks long, and in that time we have 9 zone conferences, a general authority touring the mission, Christmas conference, all the normal meetings that take place, and multiple holidays!! Long story short, we're getting started now... haha we began working on transfers this week, and prepping wards and calendars for the exciting next transfer!!! So, yeah, we only get two preparation days next transfer... haha I'll be finding other times to email home... :P  don’t worry mom, pretty sweet huh?

anyways, that's pretty much my week! i'm going to get working on the questions mom sent :

Something you wish you had known before you left on your mission?

I wish i'd known more about Preach My Gospel. I was familiar with it, and had read it, but I really didn't KNOW it, and I regret that. I also wish I'd understood change a little more. I used to dread change, but now I feel like it's one of the BEST things about life! I feel like that perspective would have helped a lot early on in my mission days.

a great lesson you have learned in the mission??

Charity is a big one that comes to mind. I've grown so much in love for the people here. Even when they're REALLY frustrating you, you just learn to love them through all of that. I feel a lot of it comes from taking a step back and looking not at who they are, but who they can become. If we compare others - or even ourselves for that matter - to us or to other people, all we're going to do is breed pride and ill-feeling. All we can do is compare ourselves to our potentials, and when we see the potential in others, you just can't help but love them! Sometimes it's frustrating but seeing them for who they really are and who they are in process of becoming just fills you with love for them.

what are you studying now ?

I'm studying and familiarizing with the scriptures in the lessons from preach my gospel. Right now, in the Book of Mormon, I'm studying Omni, and in the near future, I plan to contrast Omni and 4th Nephi. Those two books are both one chapter books that cover vast spans of time, one of which ends with the people in the state of righteousness the King Benjamin addresses, and the other ends with the people so wicked they are ripe for destruction. I'd like to pick those apart and notice the patterns of what one people did and another people didn't to maintain righteousness over a lifetime. Short-term is easy. Patterns for a lifetime are concerns I'd like to make habits now, rather than later. So far, in Omni, I've charted the writers and what they were like, what their surroundings were like, and what made them the men they were.

 Love you all!

-Elder Matt