Monday, April 29, 2013

April 26, 2013

Dear Mom and Dad,
     Can you believe I've been here for a month already!? It's definitely interesting how the days are long, but when clumped together they fly by. This week started off without a teacher. Our teacher's wife is pregnant and her due date was Sunday. Monday comes around and he doesn't show up (he warned us this might happen, of course), so we all assume he's at the hospital. We had a substitute teacher on Tuesday, who sounded like he had served in Portugal because he says Manaush, instead of Manaus, but had not, he served to Brasil. Yesterday our teacher returned, bringing with him pictures of one of the world's cutest babies.
       Devotional Tuesday was given by Elder Evans, of the quorum of the 70. I love when general authorities speak because their wives always speak first--I love their wives, they are truly examples of righteous daughters of God and always have wonderful things to say. Elder and Sister Evans both started by talking about the principle of "non-distraction". Essentially, as Elders and Sisters, what we do, what we say, and how we dress should not be distracting to others. We are here to serve the Lord and should focus on just that. I thought they were going to talk about this principle for their rest of their time but instead, Elder Evans talked about repentance! 
      Last week during my planning time, I focused on what I could study this week that would help both me in my life as well as those I will teach in the future come closer to Christ. What could I study that would help us both? There are lots of answers, but the one I chose was repentance. After two days studying repentance in the scriptures, Elder Evans gave his talk. It's wonderful when the topic of your personal study and the topic the speaker chose go hand in hand. I used the scriptures he gave in his talk to further my study.
      This week, my district set 4 goals (well, reset the same ones as last week because they were effective). They are: to make 18 contacts (talk to 18 people in Portugues about the gospel/share our testimonies), learn 60 vocabulary words, read in the Portugues Book of Mormon for 60 minutes, and to speak only Portugues for half of every day (starting yesterday) until we leave the MTC. The hardest one for me right now is contacting people because I tend to get caught up in the day, going from class to class, and simply forget. But, last night, my companion and I found a whole district going back to their residence halls, stopped them and shared our testimonies will all of them at once; there was about 12 people. I started with (in Portugues, of course) "I know you won't understand what I say because it's in Portugues, but it's okay"...they thought that was my whole testimony and started clapping and then turned to go. We were fast though and grabbed them before they walked off and were able to bear our testimonies for real.
       We haven't had anyone in our district receive a visa yet, so we'll be getting re-assignments next week. I'm excited to serve anywhere the Lord needs me. We talked about this during devotional too: it's not about where you serve, but that you are serving. We are each giving the Lord 18 months to 2 years of service, and that can be wherever he needs me. I look forward to finding our where I'm going when I leave the MTC in a week and a half.
I love you lots,
Sister Hoggan

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 19, 2013
Brazil-bound sister missionaries at the Provo Temple fountain--with an unexpected elder who snuck into the picture!

Sis. Hoggan (L) and companion, Sis. Casperson (R)
Dear Family of mine,
Each Sunday and Tuesday evening we have devotional; they do a pretty good job at not announcing who the speaker is beforehand...So this week, we're all sitting in the auditorium waiting to start and in walks...Elder Richard G. Scott! Yep, that's right, Elder Scott. Who would have imagined that? It was a wonderful surprise to hear from him. He spoke about receiving revelation from the Lord, specifically through prayer. We heard a talk a week or two ago which was also about revelation, which focused more on being careful to how you receive guidance from the Lord because we often confuse his words with our own desires or the desires of others. I think we all left that talk uplifted, but a bit concerned about how we receive answers to our prayers. Elder Scott's talk however was much different. He spoke about how the Lord want's to help and how we can receive great guidance from the Lord as we pray and seek to do his will. I felt very uplifted when I left. Something I've noticed the last few devotional speaker's have said in their talks is that the Lord does not call us to fail. It's interesting me how much I've hear that lately, but it's true, and important that we remember that. Sometimes we feel inadequate or discouraged, but the Lord really does call us for a specific work. He calls us and then uses our gifts and talents to do the work he needs us to do. He really is there to support us and we really can receive direction from him.

Last week I think I mentioned that I set a goal to speak only Portuguese for a day, and well, I almost did! They try to have us "fala sua lingua" (speak your language) as much as possible because we tend to learn the most when we have to come up with the words rather than resorting to our English comfort zones. My whole district decided to join in on the goal, but after about 2 hours they were done. So it was just me, Sister Hoggan, trying to converse with 11 other people who really just wanted me to speak English. It was a bit frustrating because you feel like the odd one out (which technically, I was) when everyone is speaking one language and you are trying to speak another. There were a few times when I resorted to  English because people who don't speak Portuguese don't know what you mean by "Eu nao falo English" (I don't speak English). I pushed on though and made it until about 6:30 and class started and the whole class was in English. I got almost the whole day; I was just alone for most of it which was discouraging.

My companion and I have been teaching a young man for almost two weeks now. This week we were able to teaching about the Restoration of the Church, God's plan for families to live together eternally, and the whole plan of Salvation. At the end of our Plan of Salvation Lesson, we asked him if would be prepare to be baptized. It was amazing to sit there and talk with him of God's love for us and the eternal blessings that come from enduring to the end. You really do come to love the people you teach, even after only after a couple weeks. As you sit there teaching, helping their search for truth, you feel in part of the love God must have for his children. Every soul is great in the sight of God.

On a much lighter note, the Elders in my district are really funny (but you can't tell them that because they won't listen to such nonsense). They have been learning the Portuguese terminology for telling jokes and add commentary to as much of the lesson as they can. They have "assigned" us each personalities. The only sister in our district going to Manaus, she is also the quietest sister, has been deemed as really mean. The Elders talk about how she is always out to get them and tell the teacher all about it. She never does anything to provoke them, they just like teasing her. I have been deemed as the one that always cries. I'm never upset or in pain, they just make me laugh so hard I cry. Every time I starting laughing they tease "Elder, your going to make her cry again. Pull yourself together woman" or once I'm crying, their favorite phrase is "She gone". Each sister has been assigned something different and the elders love to tease us for the stereotypes we have been given. It's pretty funny. We all definitely get along though. We have been blessed with a district that learned to love each other fast.

I'm writing this letter from the laundry room, where there are 3 Polynesians singing Hawaiian music with 3 part harmony. They sound beautiful.

Well, that's about all of my time, I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Com muito amor,

Sister Hoggan

P.S. The first picture is of some of the sisters if our district, with a silly elder who decided to sneak in. The second is of Sister Casperson (my companion) and myself outside the Provo Temple.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 12, 2013

Dear Family,
     This week has been another wonderful one at the MTC, or in Portuguese, the CTM. The week started out with our Sunday night devotional speaker as....Vocal Point! I don't know if that means anything to anyone else, but they are one the best acapella groups at BYU. I didn't think I was going to be able to watch them sing live, because the main auditorium fills up fast with  missionaries wanting to see, sending us to overflow seating. Overflow seating broadcasts the devotional into other large rooms at the MTC (it's not quite the same when people are singing). We had resigned to sitting in overflow seats due to the line of missionaries who arrived more than an hour early to get a good seat. Mostly they just study in line. We decided just after the door had opened to see if we could grab seats, and incredibly, we did, close to the front actually. It was great. They performed their favorite hymns, had us sing along with them on a few songs, and bore their testimonies. It was especially great to have a musical devotional because we don't really listen to music here. Usually we are studying and don't have time to listen to music; most of what we here are hymns we sing at the beginning of meetings. I loved it.
     My roommates, aside from my companion, are all serving Spanish speaking missions. Most are going to Spain and one is going to Arizona. They are a week or so ahead of us in their time here, so just coming up on the end of their third week. They decided not to speak English this week, which is an adventure for us because we speak Portuguese and English. They seem to be doing pretty well, but I have caught each one of them speaking English at least once. I say something along the lines of "Sister, what happened to only speaking Spanish?" and they quickly switch back to Spanish and continue on as if nothing had happened. It's kind of sweet actually. I think they're doing pretty well. It's a tricky business learning a foreign think you know a lot (which you do), but you don't realize quite how much more you have to learn until you  stop having the option to comment in English.
      I found a few more people I know here. Sister Sandberg from the San Jose South stake, and three of my Home Evening "siblings" from school. Also, a few people from BYU-Idaho who have recognized me.
    My companion and I have set a goal of only speaking in Portuguese next Thursday. We have smaller goals that support our preparation to accomplish this and we're excited (well, at least I am, I don't know about my companion). Most of our Portuguese is centered around Gospel topics, so if I can't ask for more food or time studying, I can still talk about the Restoration of the Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Next Thursday will be the early part of week four here, so I have confidence we can do it. I hope you have a wonderful week. I feel as though I should type something in Portuguese, but I can't figure out how to add symbols and the words look incomplete with out the proper pronunciation symbols. I love you!

Com muito amor,
Sister Hoggan

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 5, 2013

So we can send emails while at the MTC, which is awesome.
I sent you a snail mail letter, so hopefully you got that. I mentioned my companion is Sister Casperson, she's from Washington/Utah. She's really nice. We have been joking lately about the amount of candy lately in the MTC from all the Easter packages parents have sent. Mine got here first though, so we all enjoyed the chocolate eggs. The bunny was delicious too, even if it wasn't a my spot at the breakfast table where it usually shows up...Thanks!
Today is my first p-day. I didn't know this but, my first 4 days at the MTC counted as one of my weeks here. We were able to attend the temple this morning and get to do laundry and write letters.
At the end of my first week I have taught 4 lessons, shared my testimony, and prayed, all in Portuguese. It was a bit of an adventure though teaching an investigator on our second or third day. We did not feel confident in our abilities to speak the language. But, with the help of our Heavenly Father, we were all to communicate with our investigator pretty well. Our teacher is Irmao Wetherby. We also just got Irmao Mummey as well; we are his first district at the MTC. He got off his mission in December. Almost all of my branch is Brazilian Portuguese speaking missionaries. I think we just got one district going to Portugal. I have about 6 hours of class on any given day, personal study, more language study without a teacher, and and hour or so using a computer program to learn Portuguese.
We a member of the 70 come and give our devotional on Tuesday night. He had some great remarks about how the "most important work we will ever do is within the walls of our own homes" and then relating how going on a mission will help us accomplish that work.
My cough has started to calm down, thank goodness, I felt really bad for everyone getting to listen to me all the time.
There a ton of sisters here and the numbers increase each week. It is truly exciting to seem them come. I have seen a few people from school; two sisters I worked with on Get Connected Council, Sister Porter and Sister Moser, as well as one of my first FHE brothers. A few sisters in my district are going to start at BYU Idaho when they return, including my companion, so I took the liberty to tell them about what an amazing place it was.
I played four square during gym yesterday after a reminder from Alena that I went to Majestic Way Elementary for a reason. I'm a bit rusty and know way too many rules for my own good, but it was really fun. Ahhh, the memories.
When Ben dropped my off, the elder that greeted me on the curb, helped get me organized and escorted me to the check in desk was assigned to the same mission as me, which I thought was exciting. My whole district is going to the same mission. My whole branch is going to Brazil, except for one district that just arrived and is going to Portugal. I think it makes a difference on Sundays because then everyone speaks Brazilian Portuguese. When we pass Spanish speaking missionaries, they see our name tags and say "hola, come esta" and we respond with "bom, e voce?". We get some funny looks and some "what language are you speaking sister?". It's pretty funny. I think they just see the Jesus Cristo and assume we speak the same language. But, we do not.
Well, I think that's about all of my time. I love you and hope you have a wonderful week! Try not to miss me too much.
Sister Hoggan

P.S. In case you missed my address it is:
Sister Hoggan
MTC Mailbox #123
BRA-RIB 0507
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Sister Rebekah Hoggan (and her dad) after officially beginning her mission, March 24, 2013.