Monday, January 27, 2014

143...145!

Dear Mom and Dad,
    It seems like this week in Lake Wobegone was great. I am really proud of you for sharing the gospel, you are great examples of member missionary work. I`m glad you got to tell the Elders about it too, they love to hear that kind of stuff. It is hard to see sometimes that the members are sharing the gospel, but we also don`t see them everyday. Keep telling them about their stories, they will love it. 
    This week was great! Sister Marchant is amazing. The whole mission is focusing extra hard on inviting people to be baptized. Sometimes it can be a bit intimidating, especially since you don't want to scare people off. But we have been putting in some extra effort. Obviously we practice, its a great way to overcome your fear of anything (including killing spiders). But, I was lying in bed the other night and realized we had made 13 baptismal invites in 14 days. It was great. I never would have imagined that. They were not all accepted, but the important part is that we made them. It`s truly not about the number, it`s that we looked back and saw that we had improved so much and overcome a fear that we`d had. 
    We've noticed a trend....that we are always tired after lunch. As we were walking in the street though, I realized that here this is not uncommon. I looked around and it seemed as though the whole city was sleeping. I think it has to do with the intensity of the sun at noon or that we are all tired after we eat. Most people have 2 hours for lunch here. Anyway, its just a bit of a strange feeling working when it feels like the whole world is asleep around you.
     Yesterday we finished the day with an extra special lesson. We taught a wonderful woman about who God was and why he loves us. We talked about prayer, how to say one, why it is important, etc. We had made plans to teach something else, but it work out well. We really felt the Spirit in her home and it was a truly tender experience to help someone pray. Not that she prayed in a different way before, but she didn't know how to pray. God loves her a lot. He loves each of us. I knew extra well in that lesson that God knows each of his children by name and has a plan for them. He truly does want us to be happy. 
     There are so many things to tell, and I wish I had more time. But, alas.... Keep sharing the gospel, you are both wonderful! Oh, before I forget, I got like 10 letters this week. I got one from Doug and Cami Jepsen, Aunt Susie, Jenni Hoggan, Meredith, Myrna and Doug Gunn, and I know there were a few more that I am forgetting, but I thought to myself  `I'm that sister that gets all the mail` weird. Thank you so much for the letters, they make my day. I hope I can respond to them all. 
I love you lots!

Boa Semana, 
Sister Hoggan

Monday, January 20, 2014

Chocotone

Chocotone: like fruitcake, but made using chocolate chips in place of fruit. Infinitely better and secretly stashed in our closet until the other sisters leave...

Dear Mom and Dad, 
     This week was great, I absolutely loved it! Thank you for all the prayers and really good advice that got me through training my last companion and surviving. I definitely felt loved and supported.
     I don't remember all that I told you about my new area. So I am in Campos Eliseos...this is actually how you spell it. My companion is Sister Marchant. She is my first American companion in Brazil. She has successfully completed 6 months on the mission. She´s from Ohio, is 19, and is pretty stinkin awesome. We made 7 baptismal invites this week, which was an all time high for both of us. One of which happened more or less like a regular street contact, talking to some man at the park. He had apparently already met the elders and had wanted a Book of Mormon but they never made it by his house. We handed him a Book of Mormon, taught him why it was important, and I invited him to be baptized, there, in the park. It was great. He didn't really respond. But we got his work address and will go back to talk to him some more.
    I was really happy this week and was work-exhausted which was great. I think before I was just tired from feeling like I was dragging and being dragged around so much, or being frustrated, but this week I was laughing with my companion, smiled at people on the street, and we worked so hard that we basically collapsed in bed every night. Work-tired is an incredible feeling. 
    We also made the mission goal of 140 street contacts this week which was great. We had some making up to do yesterday, but we made it happen. We had 4 people committed to come to church yesterday too and they all flaked on us which was not so great. We have some teaching to do so they will understand why they need to be there. 
    So...one of the best parts of my week. Jesus gave us mangoes! He told us his name and I just kind of stared at him. He seemed to get a huge kick out of saying who he was. Anyway... we talked to him in the street and then passed by as we were leaving the street and he gave us 4 huge mangoes. They are some of the best mangoes I have ever had. Ripe, juicy, sweet, and wonderful. 
     For all those who are reading this on my blog and have not yet read and prayed to know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, I would like to invite you to do so. If you don't have a Book of Mormon, don't know what it is, or who Joseph is you can talk to my parents, they are amazing. Or, ask the missionaries. I promise there are some that live near you. The gospel is amazing. It makes life better. I know it is true and we each need to find that out for ourselves. [Dad's note: you can also go to http://mormon.org/free-book-of-mormon and request a free copy of the Book of Mormon. It's a good book! I think you'll like it!]

Thanks Mom and Dad for being so great. I love you both.

Love you lots, 
Sister Hoggan 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Transfers!

Dear Mom and Dad, 
    This week was hard, but is ok because the Lord helped me get through it all and so did my friends. I am grateful for the two other sisters who remained in our house and were able to help me out.
    My companion had leg cramps this week. One day it was so bad that she couldn't walk. She went to the hospital with one of the sisters living in our house who also had health problems. My companion's cramps were made worse by the fibromyalgia; the other sister has some crazy gall stones and will probably go home early to get surgery. 
    I had one, among several, special experiences this week...
   
   Sunday morning my companion was ignoring me and after church was really frustrated and angry. We came home to do 12 week program [a special in-field training program for new missionaries]. I tried to initiate study several times, but she did not want to study, so I did it by myself. She finally realized that I was serious about studying, gave me the crazy look, and joined me, but because of the pain meds she started taking this week, only lasted about 10 minutes before sleep took over.
    I said a prayer asking Heavenly Father to help me understand why I was having so many companionship problems. I felt that I was doing all that I could, even until the end, but I was being ignored and criticized by my companion, what was I doing wrong, if anything?
    I then had a very tender conversation with my companion. She was not angry with me, she was frustrated with our ward. She has been praying for revelation to find ways to help them and has been receiving great ideas, but no one is listening. Rather than explaining that she chose to attack me personally. We had a wonderful conversation about what it means to be a successful missionary. We went through each of the points of success in Preach My Gospel and I asked if she was doing them and she said yes. We talked about how even though she is successful others are using their agency to not listen or follow. I talked about how the same thing happened to the Savior. He taught perfectly, yet no one listened. He was the perfect example of a successful missionary, yet in the end the people in his area crucified him. It was a truly tender moment with my new missionary. 
      We had transfers. We were all on edge: two trainers and their now-trained trainees waiting to hear what would happen. All of the sisters in my house except my companion were transferred. One is now a Sister Training Leader in my first area. I am in Ribeirao Preto in an area called Campos Elizes, and the other sister is in another part of Ribeirao. I am in the same district now as my trainer. I'm excited. My companion is Sister Marchant, from Ohio. She is the youngest of 4, two boys and two girls. She was studying nursing at BYU before her mission. She is my first American companion in Brasil. She has 6 months on her mission, I have about 10. She plays the piano Really Well. I am excited to work with her. 
      Sister Leite is going to stay in Franca and will be the senior companion of another sister who also just finished being trained.
      I am really excited for this transfer. It´s going to be a big temptation to not speak English...Sister Leite will be a great missionary. Training her was hard, but I truly learned a lot. 
      Alena...good luck with your last semester of college,  you´re great.  Gook luck darlin! The picture of Audrey was way cute.
I love you Mom and Dad...and the rest of my hooligan gang!

Sister Hoggan

Monday, January 6, 2014

Voce fala Baleies? (Do you speak whale?)

     This week has been an adventure. It has been a pleasure to have Sister Beck and Sister Cruz in our home. I worked with Sister Cruz a few days this week and Sister Leite worked with Sister Beck. It was great. Sister Cruz, who is currently being trained by Sister Beck, is an amazing missionary. We shared some uplifting stories with each other and a few, much needed, laughs. She speaks a pretty good amount of English, I was impressed. I watched her try to teach her American companion the Restoration in English. She rocks. She also knows who Ms. Piggy and the Muppets are, I have yet to find another Brazilian who knows who she is. 
    One of the days we did divisions we had Sister Leite and Sister Cruz work together. They were both extremely nervous and laughed to Sister Beck and I saying, "...but we are still dependent on you both." I want my companion to learn to be independent. So we sent the two of them off and they were blessed with miracles. Together they found 9 new investigators. A family of 7 and a mother and daughter. 9 new investigators in one day! I was really proud of Sister Leite and Sister Cruz. I know that God trusts them and I wanted them to see that. We talked about it afterward during nightly planning. It does not matter how much time we have in the field, but that we learn to trust in the Lord. If you can learn to trust in the Lord with however much time you have in the field, he will make you an instrument in His hands. 
     I pulled out my suitcases from the spare room today (pronounced "spar oom"...anybody?) and they had a spider or 3 on them that I....I killed by myself! I know some of you are thinking I should have grabbed a cup and picked them up and set them gracefully outside, but people with arachnophobia don't do that. I used the broom, which is my makeshift 39-and-a-half foot pole. I killed 3 or 4 today and about 15 last week as we were cleaning out the spare room. I remember (I think it was Sister Garrett) who said something about maybe conquering my fear of spiders would be something the Lord would try to teach me on my mission, I shuddered and laughed. I think she was right though. 20 spiders by myself is a multi-life record for me. Ask anybody. 
   I fasted again this week. I fasted in order to have faith and wisdom for me to trust in the Lord. I want to learn to trust in him more fully. I want to understand the Atonement. I had a conversation with Sister Leite, the 2 of us, about how sometimes it seems like only the Lord knows what we are experiencing. Afterward I thought to myself that I need to learn that this is true, that sometimes only the Lord does know, and that is okay. That is one of the ways he teaches us to rely on him.
   I still have difficulties, I still think things are hard, and sometimes I want to cry. But, I know that the Lord understands, and that is sufficient for me. If there is always someone to give me relief, I will not learn how to seek the relief that only he can give. 

   I would like my siblings to know that they are amazing. Sorry I don't write you each individually. But honestly, your letters are amazing. They make me smile, sometimes they make me cry, but I love reading each one of them. Ben, PARABEMS for graduating from college with a degree in something ridiculously hard, you deserve it and for maintaining the prize for world's cutest niece. Nic and Katie, Christmas in Hilo with a 19.5 pound ham sounds amazing. Alena, I am glad you are surviving the temperature of California water; if I was wearing socks you would have rocked them off already! I love you each hunches and bunches. 

   Mom and Dad. Your insights and inspiring quotes make me really happy. I hope you are getting to work together a lot with work stuff. Mom, are you still doing just 4 days at the office or are you down to 3? Oh, Dad, in response to your comment about singing, I sang and danced in the rain this week in one of the more remote parts of my area when I was on divisions with Sister Cruz. She took pictures, Ill share them later. Mom might like some of them for the wall in the hall. It felt really good.

   Anyway, I love you all. Thank you for you prayers and your efforts to share the gospel. Keep up the good work!

Sister Hoggan
 
P.S. My companion from the MTC is arriving in Brasil next week!!!