Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Queens, New York

May 27, 2013

Dear Mom and Dad,
     It definitely feels like it has been more than a week since I last wrote you. I should print off my blog pages too when I get home because it is so hard to keep up my journal...not because I forget, but because there just never seems to be enough time in the day. This week was absolutely crazy. I probably shouldn't tell you all the crazy details...
     We taught this mom and her two daughters this week. The elders found her while we were out knocking doors. We went back the next day and taught her the first lesson. It was AMAZING. The spirit was so strong during the lesson and she seemed so ready to learn. When we talk about Joseph Smith and the first vision, she said it was miraculous and had wondered why she had never she had never heard of this before! We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and committed her to start reading it. It was hard to find a time where we could come back and teach her because she is a single mom who works and goes to school full time, but we found a time she was free and we could teach her and her two daughters again. It was truly wonderful. I felt so blessed to have been in that room at that time. I wish the story continued just as wonderfully... but we tried to call her later in the week to see if she had any questions and she didn't answer our call. We've been trying to get in contact with her all week but she isn't responding. We went by the day our next lesson was scheduled for, but she wasn't there. We aren't giving up hope quite yet (hopefully she's just busy). Hopefully  she will let us continue to teach her.
     On a completely different noted, yesterday as I was walking back to my apartment with my companion, I said hello to someone I was passing on the street (I say hello to everyone on the street). He asked how I was doing, but I didn't respond because I we had already passed each other so it was really important. He stopped and asked why I didn't respond. Any idea where this is going? You'll probably guess wrong so...yesterday I had my first conversation with a fairly drunk ex-marine. He was also engaged and trying to hit on my companion. Being the wonderful companion she is, she said a prayer in her heart that the elders would show up so that we could leave. And they showed up right then. Tender mercies of the Lord my friends. He was fairly crude in his language and didn't believe in God because of the war that he had seen, but I bore my testimony to him. Just as I finished, the elders came and we snuck off. It's frustrating to see people who are so lost and confused. I know that Heavenly Father loves all his children and that every soul is great in the sight of God. I know I have been called to serve in a marvelous work of saving the souls of men. And, no matter what you have done, or what you have witnessed in your life, the Atonement of Christ can heal it all.
     Sunday was my first real day at church because last week was stake conference. Can I just say, I was super lost. It was all Spanish to me. Luckily, the members of our ward are so nice and I speak enough Spanish to tell them all I'm learning Spanish and make a bit of small talk. Our ward and the English branch had "missionary Sunday" this week, which is basically where the ward puts the missionaries in charge of all the talks. We helped the English elder with their special musical "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy", I sang with the elders and my companion played the piano. We then got to go to church again in our own ward where some of the Spanish missionaries spoke. I'd never hear of missionary Sunday before....The ward really was wonderful though.
      I love you all, especially Mom and Dad. Thanks for the update on my visa status. I don't hear about it's doing, so it's nice to know.
    I really do love you all. Thanks to all who are cheering for me. Thanks for the pictures too. Have a great week and remember to share the gospel to those you love because they need just as much as you do.

           From New York,
            Sister Hoggan

Yo Hablo Espanol

May 20, 2013

Sister Hoggan left the Provo Missionary Training Center last Monday (5/13/2013), and is now in the New York New York South Mission. Think Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, etc. In short, she has been shipped to a different planet to wait for her visa to Brazil! Her new mailing address is below. It should be good for at least 6 weeks, maybe longer if her visa is still delayed.

-------- Original Message --------
Yo hablo espanol
Mon, 20 May 2013 13:31:13 -0400

Sister Rebekah Hoggan
85-69 60th Dr.
Elmhurst, NY 11373

Dear Mom and Dad, 
I feel super limited on time, I have an hour to write, but the library computer only goes for half an hour so I have to log off and get back in line to use the computer. So I'm not in Brazil, I'm in New York. I have no idea when my visa will come, they'll let me know when it does though. I think the new policy is that we finish whatever transfer we are on before we leave, so I'll be here for at least 6 weeks. I'm about to hit my 2 month mark for being on a mission. That is so crazy to me. The address listed about is the mission home address, all mail goes there and I pick it up whenever I am in the area.

So my first day here started at the top of the Brooklyner, this super tall building that looks over much of New York. We ate dinner at the top, there's a room you can rent out/reserve with a huge deck on top of the building. We went up, looked out over the city, wrote about what we hoped to accomplish on our missions and learned more about this mission and what it's goals are. 

We spent the night at president's house. The next day we got assigned companions. As we were assigned companions, I noticed that there were a significant number of Hermanas and not very many of us that speak Spanish. Yep, that's right, I'm serving in a Spanish ward! Half the people in this town (I'm in Richmond Hill by the way) don't speak English. I make do with my Portugues, usually they understand what I am trying to say.  My trainer, Sister Mortensen is from Bountiful, Utah. We get along pretty well.

I don't have "an area" like most missionaries do. Rather, I work in something call an elliptical. There are 2 districts of missionaries in the Richmond Hill area. So, 12 of us that all have church in the same building. We teach lessons, like other missionaries, but during the day, if we don't have an appointment, we do activities as an elliptical to bring the church out of obscurity here and find people to teach. We do things like singing on buses, service projects, playing games with people on the street, and many other things, all to help create opportunities to talk to others. President started using ellipticals in our mission a few months ago. It's different than what you typically expect missionaries to do, but we still teach and we still share the gospel. I definitely had culture shock when I got here. In part because we use public transportation ALL the time. I ride the bus and the metro several times a day. Before I got here I think I'd ridden a bus 3 times in my life. The metro is huge and looms over the street.  New York (at least this part) is pretty dirty, at least compared to San Jose and Rexburg. Everything is dense here too. Dense, dirty, noisy, and not in English. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, but this is not the atmosphere I am used to.

My first Sunday was stake conference so I haven't met many members yet, except for the ones we've gone to visit. 

Audrey is so tall in the photographs you sent me. I thought she was going to stop growing until I got back. Just kidding. Oh, I opened the red scarf the first day that I got here. Thank you so much! I loved it and was so happy that you found. I was not expecting to find one wrapped up in my suitcase. I was seriously so excited. I think my companion was confused a bit, but that's ok. Thanks again, I love it!

Quick quirk: they call apartments "pads" here, I'd never heard that before. 

I love you both so much! New York is different, but I am learning to love it. I love the gospel, I love my Savior, and I am still excited to serve.

Com muito amor, 

Sister Hoggan

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7, 2013

Dear Mom and Dad,
     Thank you so much for the cinnamon rolls, they were delicious! I was definitely not expecting those  to arrive in the mail. They were well timed too. Our district had a rough couple days and last night was our final night of class having any elders left in our district. We celebrated with delicious, sticky rolls. I think there might be rule against having MTC teachers accepting things from missionaries' packages because we always offer to share with our teachers when we get a package and they always say no. Oh well, more for us...
     A large part of the last couple days being rough for are district was losing half our elders to their reassignments. We lose the rest tomorrow morning. Also, this week alone, we will have had 5 teachers. In total, I think we've had 10. We had the same two teachers for most of our MTC stay, but we've had a fair amount of substitutes. Well, we lost both of our regular teachers last week and received a new one who stayed for 2 days and then went on vacation with his wife. He got substitute to fill in until they could find us a new teacher. Finding a new teacher was complicated though because the online scheduler said that our district had already left the MTC! Wait, wait, I'm still here! So this week we have 3 teachers taking turns teaching.
     However crazy this may have all sounded, it's okay because they all have different teaching styles, which means they can all teach me something new! Yesterday we did an activity where each companionship took on the role of investigators. We shared about ourselves with the companionship that was going to teach us, they prepared a lesson, and then taught us. I used to think role playing made me feel silly. But, if you come to the MTC, you will learn that role playing is truly an amazing learning tool. Even thought I was still a missionary, I could feel that the missionaries teaching loved me. I also learned a lot from the perspective of the one being taught too...I think most importantly, the need to teach simply. I didn't quite realize how confusing I could be until I was the one receiving the lesson.
     We've also been able to review some of the more confusing grammar concepts with our new teachers. It's really helpful to see different teachers teach the same thing. I understand a bit better with every teacher.
      One of the elders (who left for his reassignment yesterday) heard from his mom that his visa was on its way. He was so excited last week and was telling everyone. Well, we're sitting in class and we receive an intercom call from the Travel Office. Elder.... we need you to come to the Travel Office. Of course, we all start cheering thinking his visa has come. They had actually filled out his reassignment paperwork again because I think there was a mistake the first time. They just wanted to make sure he knew he was going to New York. He was a bit bummed, but it was really funny and he laughed with all of us about it.
     The MTC is seriously amazing. I love my district, I love my companion, I love the Spirit that is felt here, I love the devotionals, my branch, my branch presidency (they're pretty awesome), and I love learning.
   A quick tidbit more: I attended my first mission conference this week which was a great experience. The mission president, his wife, and some of his presidency addressed us. They always have great wisdom to impart. I was surprised though, because the mission president started his talk by calling on two missionaries from the audience and inviting them to come up and share their testimonies with us. The two missionaries that shared were really surprised, they had no idea they were going to address the entire MTC, what a great experience. And, what a great way for our mission president to show how much he admires and appreciates his missionaries.
     Well, I'm about out of time, I love you both. Again, thank you for the cinnamon rolls and the letter you sent me. Eu sei o Livro de Mormon e a palavra de Deus e Jesus Cristo vive. Eu tenho fe em Cristo e desejos para servir. Eu estou animada compartilhar meu testamunho com todo mundo.
Com muito,
Sister Hoggan

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April 30, 2013

Hi Family!
     I bet you didn't expect to here from me today. It's ok, I didn't expect to write you today. Our schedules changed because it it is the beginning of a new semester for our teachers. Their schedules changed and our did too, to match theirs. My day now starts at 6 am, breakfast at 6:30 and then class, study time, devotionals, etc. until we go back to our rooms for lights out at 10:30. It's different, but wonderful. We got a new teacher this week too because. Instead of Irmao Mummey, we now have Irmao Taylor. He had us practice street contacting for the first time yesterday which was an adventure, but went ok. Our regular teacher, Irmao Weatherby had us practice street contacting last night as well. Funny story about that...
So our teacher gives us directions on how our street contacting exercise is going to work. He says he's going to go outside and that we should wait 3 minutes before we come and talk to him. So we wait 3 minutes and go outside to look for him; we look for him, and look for him. After a few minutes we go back in and grab a dupla (companionship) of elders that looks for him too. After about 10 minutes we find our teacher sitting at a picnic table a couple buildings away from us. Half of the duplas talk to him and then he gets up and walk away. The remaining duplas find him and we finish the exercise. Apparently we all missed the part about "finding" people on the street. When we practiced in the morning with Irmao Taylor he was near our building and easy to find. But Irmao Weatherby wanted us to work to find our contact and work we did. It was pretty funny, we were so confused.
     We get reassignments on Thursday unless our visas come before then. I'm excited for either one. I don't know when I'll be leaving, so you might not receive an email from me next Tuesday. If I'm in transit and you don't hear from me, I promise I still love you and I'll let you know where I'm going as soon as I can.
     You both shocked with your letters about Brother Markley, I was not expecting that. I forgot to visit him before I left to fill the remaining space in my suitcase with wooden toys he had made. I really wish I had done that. If you could give Kitty a big hug from me that would be much appreciated.
      You both sound like you are doing wonderfully. I love you both. Talk to you both when I leave the MTC!
Sister Hoggan

My companion Sister Casperson and I 

Just the sisters in green  

All of the sisters in my district and the other Portuguese district that came on the same day as us 

My first Sister Training Leaders and I 
My district all wearing green...one of the elder's moms sent 6 identical ties for the elders so we all coordinated and took this picture this morning outside the Provo Temple.