Monday, July 29, 2013

I know that Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet of God.

Dear Mom and Dad,
     Greetings from Brazil! We had transfers this week and...I'm staying in Penamy as companions with Sister Castro. I wasn't too surprised to find that out. I'm not really sure why, but the elder who was supposed to tell us all about transfers called on Thursday to tell us that he wasn't going to tell anybody about transfers until Saturday, just hours before they happen. I'm not sure if that was his idea or not, but we all waited anxiously to find out. All of the sisters here are now training new missionaries, and we have about 14 new sisters coming in next transfer so there`s a possibility I`ll be training....
     A big high five and congratulations to Papa Guy for finishing the Tin Man Triathlon like a stud. My grandpapa is pretty much the bomb, just saying.
     We`ve been teaching a girl about 14 years old that for some reason always seem to be embarrassed to answer our questions. (Oh, the words for embarrassment and shame are the same...um, I don't think they are quite the same thing, especially when you are joking with your friends and say some embarrassing). She is willing to pray, but always appears to be embarrassed. I tried to explain to her that embarrassment to talk to the missionaries is one thing, but more importantly, embarrassment to pray is a tool that Satan uses to keep us from communicating with our Father in Heaven. I think she got the point, I hope she starts feeling more confident. Being 14 is hard enough. We don't need to be 14 and feel like we can't talk to God; imagine how much that would stink.
      We`ve actually been teaching people who really struggle to pray. There aren't very many specific things to say in a prayer, you just address God, say what you want, and close in the name of Christ. If you have a hard time talking to God, you can tell him that. You can say pretty much anything you want and he will listen. He is that great. He really does want to hear from us every day, and I am trying really hard to help people understand that.
      I tried to make German pancakes for the 2nd time for my companion (using the temperature our phone says is the equivalence of what I think the oven should be at....) It didn't work again, so I decided to crank up the oven to way hotter than it should have been. And it worked! Yay! I think our oven might just have a difficult time retaining heat.
      I'm glad work is going great Mom. And Dad, thanks for more of your lessons from camp, I really enjoy reading them. Congratulations also to Elder Chandler on his call to the Idaho Twin Falls Mission. I remember when he put in his papers...he was so stoked at the prospect of serving a mission.
      Out of curiosity, can anyone tell me if Jordan Clark and Alec Judd have returned from their missions yet? I don't remember when they were supposed to come home.
     Any whooo, thank for your letters and prayers. And the comic strip about my fear of spiders (pretty much every spider is big, Dad; just because you can`t see it doesn't mean it can`t see you. tee hee hee.) Have a great week.
Com muito amor,
Sister Hoggan

Monday, July 22, 2013

Milho Sorvete (Corn Ice Cream)

I think I've seen about everything when I....then I ate corn Ice Cream in Brasil. I couldn't pass it up. It was kind of gross, just for the record.

Sister Castro, what is black coconut?
I don't know, coconut com pecados... (coconut with sins)
Oh, ok, guess I wont try that flavor then. 

Dear Mom and Dad, 
     The end of my first transfer in Brasil! What is this nonsense? I have no idea if I'll be staying in this area or moving, I guess its all part of the adventure.
      I had my first baptism this week. A young man named Florisvaldo. He thinks he is 23, but he told us his birthday...he's actually 22. Tudo bem. It was really special. This kid has a testimony  that is just so amazing, he really has sincere desires to follow the Savior. His baptismal service was Sunday at 8 am, before church, and he was confirmed that day. The Spirit was really strong. Its moments like these where you know you are so blessed to serve.
       Our branch celebrated Festa Julina this week too. I was really confused in New York when the Spanish ward started all their activities an hour later than they said they were going to, in Brasil its 2 hours later. The party was supposed to start at 6 and we said the opening prayer shortly after 8. The food was amazing! Lots of cakes, hot dogs wrapped in rolls (a sort of description), peanut butter bars, popcorn...lots of food. And, for good friend Alex Grambow, lots of accordion music. All the music was accordion music, its was pretty awesome. People dressed up as Portuguese cowboys too, at least that what I understood. We had 6 investigators come, which was the highlight of the evening, as well as a few less-active members we have been working with. It was a blast.
      I had a great week with my companion. We have really been able to overcome a lot of our differences and are working together just great. Its amazing how much two people can grow in 5 weeks. I am really grateful for her. I tried to make her German pancaked this morning. I accidentally added too much flour and the oven was in Celsius, but we figured it out. The oven reads up to 290 degrees Celsius, 204 Celsius is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't know why our oven goes that hot. They didn't turn out how I wanted, I'm going to try again later this week. But, she liked them so all was good. We put sweetened condensed milk (the universal sweetener here) and shredded coconut on them...they were pretty delicious. 
      Congratulations to Andrew Garrett on his call to Germany! And any others that have recently received theirs; Congrats to Marcus Olsen for entering the MTC too and good luck down under. I'm glad you had a great time at Camp Richie, I liked it there a lot. Especially the lake. I kind of wish I had been able to try the stand up paddle boards, they sound like a lot of fun.
      Dad, your letters are not to long, they are just great. I especially like hearing about your lessons from camp. The cup game is pretty hard to learn, but once you figure it out, its a blast.
      I love you both, thanks for writing me every week. And for praying for me too! Keep up the good work. Hello to my siblings too.

Yours truly, 
Sister Hoggan

Monday, July 15, 2013

Let Us All Press ON (the hymn)

Dear Mom and Dad,
What a week! There are so many things I want to tell you, but alas, I will only share a few. Eu mandei uma carta para voces in today's mail so keep an eye out for. I've never sent mail from another country to the United States, I think you just add U.S.A. to the address? They didn't teach us about that at the MTC. I put one in the mail for the Gunns to, so hopefully they will get it.
This week we planned to have 6 baptisms. Its a huge goal, I know. But think about it, 6 children of God talking the first step on the strait and narrow path. We planned like Ive never planned before, fasted prayed, coordinated everything. But in the end, it is not us that chooses to get baptized. Agency is truly one of the greatest gifts that God gives his children. And sometimes the agency of others is really frustrating. It can be really frustrating to understand so much and want it for other people, but not have them want it for themselves. We had 1 investigator at church yesterday, and its not someone we had ever met. There is one family in particular that my companion and the elders before her worked with a lot to prepare for baptism, but, they are moving this week. Hopefully they seek the gospel in their new home. The lesson I learned this week is was agency and the timing of the Lord. Heavenly Father has a plan and we do all we can to follow it. Sometimes we want things to happen, and they don't, because the Lord does things in his own time, not the time of the missionaries.
This week I also had some great experiences with "first seek to obtain my word and then I will give unto you in the hour that you need." I had some great personal study time this week and was able to use many of the scriptures I had read during personal study, in lessons. Sometimes Sister Castro has to tell me its time for me to use the scriptures I read, but I was able to use them. Yesterday we talked to this amazing less active family about the importance of going to church (for the of you who have you who have questions about the importance of going to church, I'm telling you its essential. You can ask my parents why its so important, they can explain...or you can write me and I'll tell you). My companion lead into the conversation for me..."Sister Hoggan read about the Sacrament this morning in the scriptures, what did you learn?" And so I shared. It was great. the Spirit was really strong.
Its funny, I can say lots of things in Portuguese, because its really hard for me to understand people I've never met before. Last night during our lesson, I had this problem. The family we were teaching asked if I could knew how to speak the language because I hadn't said anything. My companion explained that sometimes I'm a bid timid when I first meet people, but I know how to speak the language pretty well. I'm timid because I don't know what they are saying. I open up in later lessons because I start to understand their accents. Oh well. I'm lucky to have have a native speaking companion.
I love you both! Congratulations to all the members of the San Jose stake that are receiving mission calls! I can't wait to hear where you are going! Have a blast at Young Women's camp too, and with the biking.
Love always,
Sister Hoggan

Monday, July 8, 2013

If I get Brasilian documents will I automatically be Brasilian?

Dear Mom and Dad,
     I'm not really sure how much time I have, I think most of the new American missionaries aren't writing their families this week because we are all in the mission office waiting to go with the office elders to the federal police to get Brasilian documents...so they don't deport me. I'm the only one writing right now. 
     I found out why I didn't get to finish writing 2 weeks ago. I was watching the missionary broadcast from President Monson and my companion was watching on the computer next to me. She accidentally watched the wrong video (which was much shorter than the broadcast). She finished everything before me and thought we were supposed to be done. We found out later from the district leaders, when she talked to them about the broadcast, that she had watched the wrong video. We laughed about it and all was good. 

     This week was much better than last week, I didn't cry, yay! It was still really hard to understand the language though. I understand most of what my companion says, but not when other people talk. Other people have accents that I am not used to. I often understand the gist of conversations, I just don't feel comfortable contributing, because I also semi understand. I think it confuses my companion when I don't talk to people, because I understand her just fine. Oh well. 
 
     The office elders scheduled all the new Americans to get documents today in Ribeirao Preto, but forgot to tell us...we are 5 hours by bus from them and the only buses leave at 10:30 in the morning and 11 at night. We are not allowed to travel at night, so we are on a last-minute, 3-day trip to the mission office. We have lessons we were going to teach! Oh well.
  
     We planned to have like 5 investigators at church today, but they all fell through. We met a dad on the street though on the way to church and convinced him to come with us. He asked if the church was nearby and my companion said yes...nearby as in like 1.5 miles. He came with us, it was great. 

I forgot to wish dad a happy birthday...Happy Birthday Dad! I want to write you a letter, but I'm running all the time to keep up with people. As soon as I get a moment I will write you. Please excuse me. I love you!!!!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes. I love you all so much. Ben, Alena, Nic, Grandma Shari, .....I want to write you all. 

The card came through a day or two after my birthday. My companion made fried pancake thingies for me on my birthday, they were delicious. I was grateful for breakfast too, people don't really eat breakfast, mostly just crackers to hold over until the mid day meal.

I started teaching English classes this week. We invited the whole city. Lots of people said they wanted to come. We had 7 primary kids. I tried to teach them how to pray in English, it was really fun. They were adorable.

Thank you for the words of advice too. They are always welcome. 

Dad, be careful with those shoulders. Its not fun when we take on more than we can handle. I have the quote you sent me in my scriptures, I stole a copy from your office. Its often a lot easier to remain quite than to respond to whatever people say, because of the language barrier. Its hard to be patient sometimes, especially when you want to talk to people. It all really is a process. I really appreciated what you said about the refiner`s fire; about voluntarily entering it. 

Thank you for all your prayers. I got a priesthood blessing last week, it was all in Portuguese, but I managed to understand lots of it. Part of what the elders said is to know that the Lord is taking care of your family, they love you, are praying for you, and all is well. It was wonderful to hear from you all this week. I love that Audrey knows who I am too. Yes! 

Take care, I love each of you, even though I don't really write you all. Remember that my email is to each of you.

I love you both a bajillion, 
Until next week, 
Sister Hoggan

P.S. I got a letter from Grandma today and a week or too ago, from the Jepsens. Thank you! When does Doug come home? Is he already back?
I get to meet President Broom this week, I´ll tell you all about it next week.

P.S. Can you give Doug and Myrna Gunn a big hug for me, they really are the best!
 
From Sister Hoggan's dad:
The quote she mentioned in her letter is from Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a modern apostle of Jesus Christ, on the topic of Charity. Charity is another word for love, specifically the pure love the Savior has for each of us, and which He wants us to have for others. But sometimes we struggle in the application of the principle. Here is the quote from Elder Ashton:
"Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other."
Birthday breakfast, compliments of Sister Castro

Happy 21st Birthday to Sister Hoggan!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Where Love Is, there God is Also

If Christ showed up at your door tomorrow and wanted to come in, would you let him?
....That depends on what time he came by, I might be busy at the moment.

Sorry for the punctuation of my letters, the keyboard is in Portuguese and its a bit confusing.
Dear Mom and Dad,
     Much of this week was really hard for me. I was really, really homesick at the beginning. I bawled my eyes out a few times. Being homesick makes one fragile and likely to cry about other things...so the week was harder than normal. My companion has a very differently personality than my own. She is an AMAZING missionary. But, we have very differently personalities. The language barrier doesn't help here. I'm trying. I try to remember that she is the same age as me and has hopes, dreams, feelings, and a family that she misses too.
     I realized today during companion study something that I can change to help with this.  We were sharing with each other what we learned during personal study and she shared all these great things that she has studied. She had thought solely about our investigators and how to help them. I studied things that would help me and them, but she really focused on them and seemed to have a much better study time than I did. I think as I try to focus solely on them and not so much on my frustrations, that I will feel more like a missionary and understand the power that I really have.

     I noticed the ward didn't have a pianist, so I volunteered. I didn't even seen an instrument in the chapel, but I figured there was one somewhere. Sister Castro showed it to me before church. It is definitely not a piano, its a small organ. I sure don't know how to play the organ! I pretended I did though and stuck to one row of keys. I had some issues with the volume, but it was fun. The branch President is also the chorister, we laughed about my volume issues with me. I think we re going to try again next week and see how it goes.
We helped a family we met on the street move into their house this week. We were going to talk to them about the gospel, but it didn't feel right at the time. We came back the next day. When we returned, we were able to talk to the mom and her 12 year old daughter. We shortly found out that they their family is very broken. We were able to teach them about how much Heavenly Father loves his children, it was a very tender experience. They each have so much potential.
     We got a new mission president this week. Presidente Broom....only the American missionaries understand the play on words. I explained it to my companion, the word broom in English, she thought it was pretty funny. I have yet to meet him. I only talked to President Prieto for 5 minutes or so, so I ll come to know Presidente Broom much better.
     I'm super confused about the word  "it"...all nouns are either masculine or feminine, so there are masculine and feminine forms of the word "it." What is that even about? I figured out one of the reasons I'm so confused all the time: I always think we're talking about people, when we're are actually talking about things.
     Thanks for all the birthday wishes! And your prayers too. I love you both so much. Say hello to everyone for me. Great job on finding missionary experiences. This really is the greatest work we can do, help bring others unto salvation. It is the work of God.
Love always,
Sister Hoggan