Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm 22! Or will be on Thursday.

Hi Mom and Dad! And wonderful family of mine!
    Its true, I'm turning 22 this week. What!? Its the same age I will be when I come home from my mission. Strange. One of the sisters in our new ward offered to bake me a cake when my companion told her it was my birthday. 
    The week before I left the greatest area in our mission, Campos Eliseos, we started making a video with our Ward Mission Leader and the other missionaries in our ward because we had 8 in total. We got transferred one week before the fireside where they watched the finished product. The office Elders let us know it was a hit and that our recent convert (whose refuses to speak in public) bore her testimony at the fireside and it was great. The fireside was called `missionarios sem plaquetas` [Missionaries without name badges]. We were promised a copy of the video before we left; I can't wait to see how it turned out.    
     White-washing-ish is very strange. [FYI: "White-washing" is when both missionaries are transferred out of an area and two new missionaries are transferred in, so there is no transition or hand-off. The new missionaries start with a clean slate as they serve in the area.] The sisters who were here before us left us one investigator who they had taught once. We marked with her twice, once she flaked and the other we were super late. So we´ve been trying to talk to everyone and trying to teach wherever possible. The office elders make contacts in our area too, which means we get extra references. They really are the best. We have two areas that we work in. The other sisters have the area that divides our area in two, I don't understand the logic behind it but that's OK. We have to take the bus to arrive in either one of our areas, and also to come home. We don't live in our area. I think I mentioned that our area includes downtown Riberão. As you imagine downtown would be, there is a large amount of apartment complexes. It doesn't bother me too much except it takes away a lot of face to face conversations. The door man always asks you who you came to visit, why, and the ages that family. Then he asks them if they want to let you in. If they  don't respond, don't recognize you, or don't know who you area, he won't let you in. So...they are pretty hard to enter. We also have the really nice houses out in the middle of nowhere. The other sisters that work here have a similar area. There are at least 2 malls in our area. We passed by one on the way home the other day to try and grab a bite to eat... Anyone who thinks Brazil is a 3rd world country (including the Brazilians who say that) has not been through this city. Maybe its just because this city is special, but there is a fair amount of rich people here. 
     I was thinking about how to convert the rich and intelligent, because we have been asked to focus a bit on them...But they are fairly hard to come in contact with, they live pretty cut off from street life, and are in areas you can't enter. Once we find them, they  need time to listen to us, and then to believe that this can truly improve their lives. Somehow, we´ll make it work.
    The mission field is amazing, in our house it seems to be like living with 3 Americans. The ward here is incredible. All the organizations have complete leadership, the Bishop served a mission in Provo, Utah (so did his brother), and is pretty excited and so is our Ward Mission Leader. All is well, all is well. I´ll fill you in on more miracles next week. God is great, and so is the gospel.

Love you tons, 

Sister  Hoggan

Monday, June 23, 2014

White hair White jumper

Dear Mom and Dad...and wonderful family of mine,
    After 4 wonderful transfers with Sister Marchant, and her being in the same area for 6 transfers....who can guess what would happen? I was transferred. What!? And my new companion is...Sister Marchant!!! That's right, nobody saw that one coming. We moved together to the area next to ours. Our new area starts where our old area ended, literally across the street. The sisters that were in this area moved to our area and we are taking over theirs. I cried when we left Campos Eliseos, not my house, but the people that we left there. It was hard. I´ve never stayed in one place for 4 transfers. Luckily lots of the members in our old ward work in our new area. Our area is downtown Riberão Preto, so everybody works here. 
     This week was AWESOME. So we were teaching, up until we were transferred, this cute 80-year-old woman. She really is cute--I´ll send you a picture later, or just bring it home with me in a couple months. We were looking for one of the less-active young women and found her instead. She lives with her adult son who is also a member of the church, but isn't very active. He apparently has been wanting his mom to be baptized for awhile. She is a bit hard of hearing and doesn't understand everything we say, but she knows we love her A LOT. She has the memory of an 80 year old with the beginnings of Alzheimer´s disease. There was a moment where the doctors almost made her move to an elderly care home, but we fasted for her and she got to stay in her own home! Then we fasted again so that could remember everything in order to pass her baptismal interview...and she did!
    Sunday morning we went to by her home to walk her to church. We asked if she was ready to be baptized and she started laughing. Pronto nada, hahaha, não vou me batizar não. [Ready nothing, hahaha, I'm not going to get baptized.] But she went to church. When we came by in the evening to walk to her baptism she was leaving her house. `Irmã, where are you going?`...I'm going to church, I just can't remember how to get there so I'm going to ask the neighbor. Look at her, beautiful, really old, full of forgetfulness, and full of faith. She gets big points. Her whole family is active in the church and probably never imagined she would get baptized. We had no idea how to get a hold of them, but one of the sisters in the ward helped with that. We arrived at the chapel and her grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren were there, all ready to watch the generation head enter the waters of baptism. Honestly, she was adorable in her white jumper.  
    The elders baptized a father and his son. I felt the water; it was pretty cold for an 80 year old woman. She went right on in. Sister Marchant asked after if the water was cold, she hadn't even noticed. I had not imagined when we began teaching her that so many wonderful people were connected to and waiting for her. 
     Ben, Monica, Alena, and hooligans, congratulations on making it to Indiana. You really are troopers. Remember that one time Mom flew from Hawaii to Gilroy and Ben and Nic got the Chicken Pox and barfed all over Mom...? At least that didn't happen this time, right? Monica, I hope it was an easy flight. 
     Anyway, in my new zone there are 7 companionships. The zone leaders and us are the only people not training new missionaries. We have the zone of new missionaries, how cool is that? It makes sense:  the training program for new missionaries is called the 12 Week Program, and I have 12 weeks left. 
    I love you lots!

Sister Hoggan

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

HAPPY FATHERS DAY AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUDREY!

I'm sorry I don't know when major holidays are. I don't have a calendar and Father's Day in Brazil is not on the same day. Can somebody hug Audrey and Dad for me? Much appreciated. 

Dear Mom and Dad, 
    This week was great. Before I share wonderful stories I would like to announce that I am alive, and safe. 
    Having said that, someone threw a bomb at us this week. Yes, a bomb...those things that explode with lots of noise that you only see in movies. It wasn't the highly destructive type so I'm still intact. We were walking down the street and out of nowhere we see it fall, sizzle, we look at each other with expressions of `how should we react`, and it exploded. A nice flash of light and ALOT of noise. Apparently one of the men on the street likes to throws bombs and write threatening notes to his neighbors, you know, the usual. Our hearts were pounding for like an hour afterwards.
    I think out-of´the-ordinary things are required to happen to missionaries, that's just how it is. 
   The zone leaders had a baptism this week! The mother of one of our young men! I love to see people get baptized, but there has to be an extra specialness to it when its your mom. Mom, just so you know I talk about you all the time here. People want to know if my parents are members of the church...I tell them all about you were baptized at 17 and then found dad. Or dad found you. 
    Brazil played the first round of the world cup this week! And won! It was like Christmas in June. We came home early for a few sweet extra hours of studying. Everytime a goal was made we could hear the cheers of everyone watching. Fireworks, firecrackers, shouts of joy, and  maybe a few loud barbaric yalps (name that movie?). I feel for the Brazilian missionaries because it really is like Christmas for them and they can't be part of it...They won though and that counts for a lot. Brazil plays again on Tuesday. We should be studying again but we´re asking for special permission to make a movie with our Ward Mission Leader. Its going to be sweet. 
   My trainer went home today...she did not want to leave, but she´s been here for more than 18 months. I'm going to miss her.
    Basically, I'm safe and happy and I love you a lot.

Filha preferida, [favorite child]
Sister Hoggan
 
"Tutu" is Grandma in Hawaiian.
New shoes arrived! (Old shoe on right.)
 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Why do we serve missions?

Dear Mom and Dad,
    It sounds like the two of you had the time of your lives this week...go figure--Alena was there. It is so strange to me that Alena has truly left Hawaii. People here generally have never heard of San José, so I tell them I live 40 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge (o ponte de São Fransisco), they get pretty excited about that. But honestly, the beach is better in Santa Cruz. I´m glad amid all the working you find time to play. 
    Mom has Hoggan Fiduciary business cards now? Parabems! That seems like a big step in the right direction. I looked up the word fiduciary, by the way, in my Português dictionary awhile ago and its not there; it was a sad day. People probably wouldn't have recognized the word though, even if I had found it. People don't recognize it in English. 
    This week was great. We had stake conference, which was actually a broadcast do Cidade do Lago de Sal...Salt Lake. Elder Ballard and Elder Scott spoke as well as our area 70s, who I recognized. One of the 70s that spoke had actually visited our mission. We had a few investigators with us too which was awesome.... We almost had a third, but she did not want to go to church if it was different than normal. She said she went to the big meeting once and had a lot of questions. She said she´ll go next week though. 
    We are teaching one of the cutest old women in the world. She got to give us the news this week that the doctor is making her move to a senior care home. She is not excited. We are not excited. She doesn't know where she is moving to yet; I'm hoping it is in our area so we can keep visiting her. She likes church and I think she wants to be baptized too. She keeps all the commandments,  although she doesn't know that she does because she cant remember them. She is so sweet. She went to stake conference with us on Sunday, but had to leave halfway through because she wasn't feeling well. It broke my heart. 
   We had divisions this week with the sisters in that one city where I had depression. It was interesting to go back and teach with other sisters there. It was different to go to parts of my area that before had been out of walking distance for our companionship. They were happy and smiling and laughing out there. It was great. They are in a trio, with my treinadora who is going home in 10 days. She does NOT want to go home. Sister Castro is so cute, she wants to say in the mission field forever. 
     I went with Sister Castro and a new missionary, and my companion went with the trainer. We had a great time and I met such incredible people that I never imagined lived in that area. So different, so much better, and pretty sweet. 
    My feet and my knees are really happy with these new shoes, thank-you again. Brasil is amazing, just so you all know. You should all come down here some day. There are a few foods you should try, I´ll try to make them when I get home if I can find all the ingredients.  I love you tons! Dad, parabems pela vietnamita! Tenho muito orgulho de você.

Te amo!
Sister Hoggan  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Will you marry me? #2

Dear Mom and Dad,
    Why is Audrey so big? I don't remember telling her she was allowed to do that. It´s okay, she still remains with status super cute. Congratulations to David!  Are you going to make it out there for his wedding. I got a package this week of...

SHOES!

Even being a girl, I don´t think I´ve ever been so happy for new shoes in my life. I´ve been refusing to buy new shoes because I knew your package would get here. You have really good taste in shoes. They are soooooo comfortable. I was starting to feel the lack of support of my shoes in one of my knees. Less than a day in new shoes and its gone. Sweet relief. I opened the package in the mission office, took a picture (as tradition) of my old shoes, and threw them away in the office. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I paid 60 dollars for the package, I don't know if you had to pay a lot to send it, but it was all so worth it. 
    This week I got a cold. I usually don't get sick here. My voice has been suffering a bit, but I got a bit of extra sleep and its getting back to normal. 
    I had my first real conselho de liderança [Mission Leadership Counsel] this week. Spiritual feast. We had put in our planners for it to last 2 hours like district meeting does, but to a wonderful surprise it was about 5 hours long and included duas refeições [two refreshment breaks]. Pão de queijo é maravilhosa [Cheese bread is marvelous]. Sò falando [Just sayin']. I don't know if I mentioned this in my last letter, but my zone leader got mysteriously transferred last week to who knows where. He is now part of the traveling assistentes [assistants]. We have a pair of office assistentes and a pair of traveling assitentes. They go on divisions with all the district leaders, I assume zone leaders too like normal, but district leaders too. 
    Our mission is getting bigger every transfer. We should have an increase of about 70 missionaries by the end of the year. How cool is that. Is our mission in San Jose getting an bigger?  I remember the miracle of baptism in our stake a few months back....we should do that every month. That would be incredible.
    We are starting to teach someone new at the cemetery. This time he´s not security, he supervises/coordinates everything that happens on the day to day. He´s pretty cool. He actually lives in another area, but he´s here all the time. 
    We had a ward activity this week, gracefully put on by Ward Mission Leader, Tiago. When the activity started there were more investigators than members present. How cool is that? Actually, I started praying for members to show up so there would be people to sit with all the investigators present. Shortly after lots of ward members appeared. They played a trivia game created by the Elders, people were really intense, lots of competition. 
    All of the sister from my MTC district had a sleep-over this week. Actually the ones that don't live there were passing through for leadership council. The only sister missing is serving in Manaus. We joked about how much time we don't have left, Sister Beck very gracefully informed us of our limited time in weeks...we laughed not wanting to hear that. I love Brazil, it´s wonderful. 
     I hope everyone has a great week.  Ben, Monica, good luck moving to Indiana. I hope it all goes smoothly. Alena, the next phase is going to be amazing, take care.

Love you tons, 
Sister Hoggan