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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Family! (In the Philippines) 4/29/13


I've decided to keep her letter intact to give you a true picture of her experiences in the Philippines.  We knew she would have major culture shock.  Perhaps the best experience for her will be having a native companion like she does.  It will really force her to turn to the Lord, and to be immersed in the language and culture.  Hard as it is, I know she can turn it around to her blessing.  Remember her, and all of our missionaries, in your prayers!  She really needs that additional strength these next few weeks as she acclimatizes!  ~Linda (mom)




Oh my gosh, I don't think you know how anxious I have been to email you all. In advance, I'm sorry.  (This is the first we've heard from her since she's been in the Philippines.  She left the MTC last Monday.)


I am a mess. I can't even tell you. I hate to be honest, and I wish I had even one spiritual experience I've had since being here. But all I have is the testimony I have, and was able to gain in the MTC. I am SO homesick. I don't even think it's that I'm homesick for the family, I think it's mostly the culture shock. Being here alone is hard, and just thinking about how much easier it would be if just one of you were with me makes me just so emotional and helpless.

So when I got here I was okay. Well, when we got to Manilla I was so scared. Manilla is very city like and just scary haha. It felt very un-homey, and the hotel we stayed in was "nice" but was just sketchy. But once we flew over Tacloban, and landed here, I felt SO good about it. We were all so happy and excited about being here. We got to the mission home and for the rest of the day just had interviews/dinner in the mission home. The next day, we had training. The day after that (friday) was transfers, so that's when we got our new companions. Man does a mission force you to rely on the strength of the Lord and not those around you. I did not want to leave our district. But we had to. I got my new companion, her name is Sister T. She's from Davo, or Mindinaw (I know I spelled that wrong) but that's the most Southern of the Philippines. She speaks Cebuano. We got assigned to Borongan, speaking Waray Waray. Haha. Yeah what little Cebuano I know won't even help me there. Borongan is the most eastern part of our mission. The whole eastern and northern part of the island of Samar have never allowed sisters, until now. We're the first sister's in Borongan. It's the 2nd biggest city in the Tacloban mission (Tacloban being the first). And it is the only other area, besides Tacloban, that has an actual chapel with air con. Did I get lucky or what? Haha....air con is VERY scarce here. None of the apt. have it, we only have fans, and none of the buildings do either. 

Anyways, I got to Borongan on Saturday night with Sis. T. Oh man, you'd laugh if you saw our apt. It's like a town house, so I guess it's nice for the Philippines. But for one, there's no air so it's hot! Especially on the top floor. And the bathroom is about the size of our bath tub. There's the toilet (that is only flushable by pouring a bucket of water down it until everything disappears), then the sink right next to it, and then a shower head. You literally have to stand right by the toilet to take a shower. It's very common for the Philippines. Sister T is used to it. She showed me how to do laundry today, that was fun :) we used the pump outside and sat in front of a bucket scrubbing our clothes. I'll have to show you when I get home.... We also played volleyball this morning...I'm not too bad! Haha but man was it hot. We played on the beach and I had to do everything I could to not just jump in the ocean haha.

We went to church yesterday, and actually met the Branch Pres. the night before at a mtg. All the Filipinos here struggle with English, but a few in the church can understand. They call it a "nosebleed" though, because they have to try so hard to speak it that it gives them a bloody nose (figuratively). Haha it's funny...kind of. Right now it's frustrating. Because I don't know Waray Waray. It's completely different. Every word I've taught you, is different except Salamat (Thanks). For example: Good Morning - In Cebuano: Maayong Buntag, In Waray Waray: Maopay Ngaga. :) You see what I mean. I think that's what's been the hardest for me. Yeah I miss the shower (at least it's cool and refreshing), yeah I miss air conditioning, but really...I miss having someone to talk to. Someone who understands me. Sis. T can speak English, but she doesn't always understand everything I say. She's been good to me. She lets me break down to her and lets me just sit and cry. But it's just hard to relate to each other. I guess it'll just take time! we've only spent 3 days together. And I'm finally able to email home so I think just getting everything out will help me move on. Just continue to pray for me...I pray for you all every night, but I'm going to start praying for you all by name...just to feel more connected to you.

President L (our Branch Pres.) invited us over for dinner last night. My first real Filipino dinner at a real Filipino house! It was so cool. I got like 5 bites, not just from mosquitos. We'll see what they do to me. I have one bite on my finger that is really weird...I'll have to watch it closely. No sunburn yet! And I'm not tired of walking yet either. My bag hurts my shoulder, but we're working on getting me a new one in a couple of weeks. Sis. Lindsay (from her MTC District) stayed in Tacloban so she's getting one for me.

What else? I feel like that's it. I have SO much to tell you, but it might have to wait. I still have to send pictures and send the plan for talking to you all next week :) Everything here is hot, crowded, and very rural. There are trikes and jeepneys everywhere...but everything is also walking distance. So we're trying not to waste our money. Oh, the money conversion...I'm still getting the hang of. I feel like I'm spending a lot when I had over 100 pesos, but it's really only $2.50. we'll get the hang of it.

I love you all. I hate to leave already. The hour goes by so quickly. But I have to go. Sorry I couldn't talk to everyone in the airport...our layovers were SO short. And the security in the Tokyo airport was horrible. We were in line for over an hour, and almost missed our flight. But we got here :) And our mission president is great, and all the Missionaries are great. It makes me excited for transfer day, because I'll possibly get to see everyone. Until next week!

Love, Sister Hogge


**having technical difficulties inserting the pictures throughout her thoughts, so I'm just posting them all here...enjoy!

Our district with our Teachers! Sister brinton in the blue, Pasikala in the front and brother young on the right.

This is the group from the MTC that went to the Philippines, that's 3 districts.

Sis. Lindsay, me, Sis. Pettijohn, and Sis. Bray, our district
Elder Johnson, me and Elder Yount (He's going to Bulgaria) We played 4 square together :)
 Mandy, Andrew and I :)
Me and Andrew...I am going to miss that kid. He was fun to have around.
Add caption


E. Muir and E. Carroll became best friends


We're all going to miss the cafeteria :/
me and Megan Jensen
Philippines! In the Manilla airport


At the Manilla airport...waiting





The Elders at our hotel in Manilla
Boarding the plane to Tacloban
In Tacloban in the church by the mission home with Sis. Sorranda. They have the weirdest brooms here...




Filippino kids are SO cute!!
















Sis. Lindsay and I in Tacloban
(Okay I was off numbering...E. Muir's face was in there somewhere. Freaking love that kid. He became my best friend out of our batch of Elders)
Our whole new batch that came to Tacloban. Us + Filippinos
Mine and Sister Lindsay's new companion.
The map of our mission. Look for Borongan
. My bed :)


Our bathroom! So tiny...




Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Pday in the MTC!


So here she goes....  I'm sure the next couple of weeks will be rough, but she'll make it!  Thanks for your prayers and support!  You have made a world of difference to her!  So excited to hear all about the Philippines!  ~Linda

Katie didn't include any pictures this week, so to add some interest to this post, and since Katie is currently en route to the Philippines, I've decided to include some pictures from the www of the Philippines! Enjoy! -Nicole


So Today is my p-day, just until 2, so that we can spend the morning doing last minute emails and laundry and packing. Um CRAZY that this time went by so fast! I can't believe that we're already done with the MTC. Just 2 more full days, and then we take off.

Leyte, Tacloban

We had to say bye to our investigators yesterday and Thursday. And I just realized that I didn't even tell you about them! So we've been teaching them for 4 weeks. (And yeah, they're just our teachers, but it's crazy how in character they are - like every missionary says.) But the first one we taught was Edeline. She has a boyfriend who is in the Navy, so she doesn't see him often, and she has a son that's living with her parents in the Philippines. And she is so interested in the church! It's so cool to see how perceptive she is. But she's had all her family tell her that she's not clean enough to be baptized, that she has too many sins. So our FIRST visit we talked about repentance. It was so weird, but we felt like it was good for her to know about it right away. And she loved that lesson. She was so happy that she could repent, which is the exact purpose of repentance!! To make us happy! I gained my testimony from her that repentance is so important to teach people. Everyone has the ability to be worthy, they just have to show the desire. She gets "baptized" next week, I committed her last week and promised to help her feel more prepared.  So exciting! Our second investigator is Ruel. He works on Sundays, to provide for his pretty big family. He's a fisherman and his work is the only way his family gets food for the week. So imagine asking someone like Ruel to go to church on Sunday. The testimony I gained with him is that as a missionary, I have the authority to promise him blessings if he keeps the commandments and goes to church. And the Lord, depending on the faith of you AND the investigator, will provide the exact blessing you promise. It's a good concept to learn before going to such a humbling place such as the Philippines. There will be people like Ruel everywhere. We didn't get to see the blessings get fulfilled, because we committed him to go our last lesson with him. But I know that it would happen if he shows the faith. The beginning of the week we talked about the Restoration with him, and the Book of Mormon. We asked him to pray about it again, because we had briefly gone over it but he didn't get an answer last week....but he did this week. Our last lesson he told us that he knew it was true. I started bawling! It felt so good to get him to finally get his answer, and sincerely ask for it. He's bringing all 4 of his kids to church on Sunday. (I should have committed him to be baptized, but I got caught up in the moment...next investigator!)

Tacloban City

I absolutely love the MTC. It stresses me out to plan for my lessons with my investigators, but it's good for me and I always love it once I'm in the actual lesson. I learned that once I went in there with only my scriptures and our lesson plan in our planner, that teaching was so much easier. I relied on what I knew in my head and the Savior rather than reading sentences I had planned in Cebuano. The Spirit is so much stronger when you struggle with the language. It seems weird, and it is, but it's a cool weird. I'm excited for the Spirit to speak through me next week...Heaven knows I WILL NEED IT!
We had Infield-Orientation all day yesterday, and it was SO much fun! It was from 8-5, so by the end we were all REALLY tired, but I learned so much from it. I learned a new concept that took me off guard yesterday. I've always thought that it doesn't matter what our numbers are, how many baptisms we have, how many investigators we have, etc. And it really doesn't, only because it doesn't show the kind of missionary you are. Sometimes this will be slow and numbers will be low, even when you're trying your hardest. And that's okay! But do you think the Lord cares if you only have 12 investigators instead of 14?...Yes, He does. Every # = a person/child of God, and He would rather have 14 of his children than settle for just 12. Every time we don't try our hardest with every person, and just assume that they aren't ready for the gospel, it devistates our Heavenly Father. It makes me wish that I was at home calling every person in my contacts to see if they wanted to come to church with me on Sunday. I bet that if you did that mom, someone would say yes. So we heard this story yesterday about the importance of referrals. I never knew how important referrals are! As missionaries, we could go around and search all day every day for people who are ready for the gospel, but why not use our resources - aka the members. The most perceptive people to the gospel are those in the middle of a crisis, new to the area, or just starting a family - members know who these people are! It would take us years to figure out who all these people are without the members help! Okay so anyways...the story: These missionaries were teaching new member lessons to this recent convert. One of the Elders asked if she had any referrals, and she said no. Then his companion, being bold, took her phone, scrolled through it, found a name, and said, "So you're saying that (insert name) doesn't want to come to church with you on Sunday." The new member said, "...Okay, you're right. I can call him later and ask." And the missionaries said, "Why don't you do it right now, while you have our support." She did. She straight out asked if he wanted to come to church with her, and he said yes! When the Elder's met him, they asked if he would bring a friend to their next lesson. When that friend came, they asked if that friend could bring a friend to the next lesson. And when that other friend came, they asked them to bring a friend who was interested to the next one. They baptized all 4 of those people 3 weeks later. Referrals are the key! Missionary work is honestly the work of members, not missionaries. We just help prepare and teach people to be baptized. Members are the activators. Invite your friends to church! I feel like that is so important. Constantly give names to the missionaries. You don't know who's ready or not, but the Lord does. So we should be talking to and inviting everyone. That is my goal when I get to the Philippines next week. It's hard, I know it is. But it's so important, and I didn't realize that until yesterday. So be a missionary, invite others to come unto Christ. They are waiting!!
Eastern Visayas Children, Tacloban City

And with that, I'm going to end :) I have been so grateful for all the love and support these past 6 weeks. I can't believe that I'm already leaving, like I keep saying...but I am so excited!! I have every reason in the world to be nervous: I don't know the language hardly at all, I don't know the gospel perfectly enough to teach people, and I have no idea what it'll be like to live in the Philippines. But how cool is it that the Lord knows the language, that the Lord knows that gospel, and the Lord knows what it's like to live in the Philippines. Why not just rely on the Lord, and trust Him that everything will be okay? It's a lot easier to say that than to actually do that, but I need to. I know that without Him, I will NOT survive haha.
This email is getting really long, so I'm going to go. But I love you mom!! I'm excited to share about my experiences my first week next week. It's going to be a complete culture shock. So just know that it'll be okay, but I'll probably be REALLY homesick and REALLY scared next week. Right now I'm okay, I feel really peaceful and ready to be there. But I know that once I get there, I'm going to start struggling. Struggling makes you stronger though, right? Right! So I got this! Just pray extra hard for me, I pray for all of you every night!! I feel like singing the song, "I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready!" from spongebob haha. I'll sing it in Cebuano though! "Andam ko, andam ko, andam ko!" Hahaha
Gihigugma ko namo!! (I love you all!!)

Similar to the View Katie might be seeing, although I think she'll get there during the night...


(a little more from the family email)...

Anything else? Any questions for me? I sent mom an email about my week this morning, so get on her to send that to you all (see above). It talks about how I'm feeling leaving the MTC. Which, I am going to miss it. Jackie, PLAY 4 SQUARE! It is SO MUCH FUN! (For those of you who don't know, Jackie is Katie's best friend who recently received her mission call to the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission. She enters the MTC May 1st, so Katie is enjoying giving her some pointers! :) We're technically not supposed to go to gym today because we all need to pack, but all of us are, just to play 4 square one last time haha. Nicole, you were right...the Elder's get so into it! But guess what...SO DO I! Haha it's hilarious, because every time I get an Elder out, they freak out. And usually I only get them out because I'm so nervous to have the ball in my square that I hit it so hard to get it away from me, and it ends up looking like I'm a professional 4 square player. It's hilarious. Haha. Oh and I know everyone hates the food here...I feel like I'm going out to eat like every meal. Sausage and Biscuits almost every morning, along with sausage, eggs, hashbrowns, donuts, bagels (they have everything here), and then almost every lunch there's the option of a burger and fries. It's gross, but it's so good. And I won't have that for the next 17 months, so why not?!I hate onion rings, but here, I love them. The Elder's even say they're gross here so I don't understand why I like them. And almost every meal time, Sister Bray, Sister Lindsay and I have a bowl of ketchup and mayo (fry sauce) to dip something in...there's always something to eat with it. Haha every Wednesday and Sunday there's ice cream (Jackie, get the graham canyon. It's so good, but they always run out of it. So check before you eat!!!). Um Friday's are pizza days for dinner, and it's not too good. I always feel crappy after that. They have the best coudon bleu (no idea how to spell that), but it's my favorite meal here. 
And Jackie said that she thinks I lost weight since being here...after hearing about what I eat, and that I only play 4 square (I never break a sweat), do you really think that I lost weight? All my clothes fit the same and I haven't weighed myself, so I really don't know. But I doubt I've lost weight...thanks for the compliment though.

Um, I love you all. This email was completely random, but enjoy! Haha I LOVE the MTC. It took me 4 weeks to realize how much I love it, but now I know. I'm going to miss seeing my district all the time and having teachers. My teachers are amazing.But anyways, I love it here. Elder Muir is like Adam's twin (the Australian elder), so I feel so at home. We act like we're siblings sometimes, and he calls me mom sometimes -  well my whole district calls me mom, it's just fun to be loved and to have had so much time to really feel like a family. It'll be hard to lose that, but at least when I see them in the Philippines I'll feel at home!! 
Love you all again, and bye!!!!

Love, Sister Hogge


Congratulations if you've made it this far! Katie likes to write! :)

Katie's flight as of midnight Utah time. Almost to Tokyo!! and then after a couple hours layover, off to
Manila and then another 4 hour flight on a tiny plane into Tacloban! She will be EXHAUSTED!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Where does the time go??

Hello friends and family!
 
I'm leaving the MTC in a week!!!


This week has gone by so fast! There is always way too much going on here to know what to tell you all. I feel like every time I get on to email, my mind always goes blank.
 
First of all, I'm so glad Kaitlyn's wedding was a hit! It was the talk of the week in almost every email. Tell her that I love her and that I was thinking about her all day on Friday! To be honest, I can't exactly remember what happened on Friday (it was too long ago...), but I was thinking about her all day!!

Sisters! (Sister Pettijohn barely peeking through!)


So this weekend I had the opportunity to study the Atonement briefly, to just sum up what I've learned and loved most about the Atonement since I've gotten to the MTC. Let me just tell you, WOW. If you haven't dived into the Atonement, do it. It's amazing. In D&C 122:8 (I think), it talks about Christ descending below all of us, to experience everything that you experience. Christ, the most perfect highest being, descended below all of us just to be able to know and be able to help us when we needed Him. How lucky are we? We get a million 2nd chances to come unto Him, have faith in Him, and to be clean. Why are we not doing it more? I finished Jacob this week (I got stuck on the allegory of the Olive Tree...for some reason I just could not understand that 10 page long chapter.), and I was reading in Jacob 6. I LOVE Jacob 6. Verse 2 talks about, well let me just quote it, "And the day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people [the Restoration], is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power, to nourish and prune his vineyard; and after that the end soon cometh." What did I get out of this scripture? Um that we better get to work, we better focus and we HAVE to realize that we are running out of time. We need to be dilligent NOW. We need to serve others NOW. We need to talk to our friends about the gospel NOW, not wait until tomorrow. "If we fill our days with a bunch of tomorrow's, we'll have a lot empty yesterday's"-Author forgotten. In verse 5, it says "...cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts" These scriptures just really hit me last week. There are days that I feel like I'm wasting, or moments at least, talking and being silly with our district. And I specifically know that I need to stop wasting the Lord's time. If the Lord was on the Earth today, he would be doing missionary work. Being here is an honor, being able to serve the Lord's children 24/7 for the next 16 1/2 months is such a privilege. I heard something cool this week as well, that we aren't really creating or helping others receive a testimony.  We are reminding them. We all chose to come here, we all chose to be on the Lord's side. Everyone on Earth had a testimony of our Savior, of the gospel of Christ. We just have to remind them, we have to turn on the light in their minds I guess you could say, to remind them that they know they have a Heavenly Father that loves and knows all of us, and that Jesus Christ died for us so that we could repent and strive to be clean when we return to our Father in Heaven. We have to make sure they know that we aren't calling people to repentance, but that repantance is a blessing. That Christ is allowing us to place our sins and wrong doings on Him so that we will be able to be clean and strive to be more like Christ. We have to remind them of their purpose, remind them of the promise of eternal families. The list goes on. Knowing and realizing all of that, helped me to have a stronger desire to at least bring the gospel to everyone. I hope that everyone can pray to have that same desire.

Trio!

 
Now life at the MTC, is crazy. We have a week left! I don't know if any of you remember that I've been in a trio the past 2 or 3 weeks. I haven't really felt like it, because Sister Rosdahl was put in our companionship and district just because she was sick and wasn't allowed to go to the Philippines yet. Well this past week was amazing. I felt the strength that we've been striving for in a trio. The three of us have learned so much from each other, and we just love Sister Rosdahl! And we had to say goodbye to her today. It was so hard. I feel like a piece of our companionship left, but what is the point of learning if we don't actually learn anything? She's pushed us to be our best, to try our hardest, and to love the gospel. That is our goal for our last week in the MTC. To go all out! Use our MTC time to our advantage and use each other to help with the language and to help strengthen our testimonies. I LOVE the MTC. I don't want to leave! I've been learning so much here, and I just love my teacher's and my district. But I know it's our time to go. We've all been preparing to teach the Filippino people, and now they're ready for us. We got our flight plans on Friday, we leave on Monday morning (I'm just barely missing Spencer by a few days!). And I'm really excited, but I'm really scared. I'm struggling to have faith that the Lord will help me with the language. I haven't had any really big miracle of the gift of tongues here, but I think that's good for me. I need to struggle with the language so that I can learn to rely on the Spirit. I just struggle to not focus on how poorly I say everything. Haha SYL-ing (Speak your language) has not been something we're really strong at...we get distracted. And speak half Cebuano/half English. So it's more like STL (speaking two languages). We're good at that!! I'm constantly saying, "Magsulay ko lisod kaayo sa SYL (I'm trying very hard to SYL) pero...dili do it maayo kaayo (but...I can't do it very well). BROKEN CEBUANO, is fun kaayo. Pero Cebuano/Cebuano, dili fun kaayo.

Flight plans! 

 
Sorry this email is so short. It took me forever to get all my thoughts together. Learning a language just confuses me all the time. I feel like I can't speak or think straight, even though I can't even speak this language. I think that's a good thing though, because it means I'm constantly thinking about how to say things in Cebuano.
 
I love you all!!!!!! Have an amazing week!! Remember that these emails just help me to share what I've learned this week. I don't want people to feel like I'm calling anyone out, but lets face it...if you feel that way, you should probably do something about it. We can all be better all the time!
 
Love, Sister Hogge
 
ps. The next time I email, I'll probably be in the Philippines!! Ah!!

My district with our flight plans! We're going to the Philippines!!!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

4 weeks down, 2 to go!


I never know what to title my emails...(oh, first world problems)

So guess who came in this week...Elder Carroll!!! 
I was so excited to see him, I had to tell Sister Bray to hold me back because I would probably run up and hug him. I feel like my little brother's in the MTC with me (although it'd be so much cooler to have Christian here...sorry Andrew). I've seen a lot of people from home here, and it's so uplifting! Bethany Knudsen, Aaron Hall, and all our missionaries from home. They're all doing so awesome, I love seeing them all here!

People said we were too close...at least we weren't hugging!!! :)
Before I get into my email, I have a story for you. Yesterday on our temple walk, I made the biggest fool of myself: I fell. There are TONS of missionaries everywhere, that there was no way that no one saw me. It was SO embarrassing. So you know those flower boxes there, that are surrounded by granite. People use the granite to sit on or stand on or whatever. I don't even know if that makes sense....BUT anyways...(sorry Adam...I'm not good at not putting an "s" at the end of my "anyway" still), Elder Call was standing up there, and I was wearing Sister Bray's really long/big polka dot skirt so I was feeling invincible (An invincible missionary, I don't think so.). So I jumped! Well I ran and jumped, right onto that granite ledge with my very slippery flats on. I didn't even make it on there. My foot slid all the way across the granite ledge and I landed in the flower box, on my butt, covered in dirt. And EVERYONE saw. I was so embarrassed that I just sat there for a good minute. I stood up and I couldn't even step on my foot. It felt broken. They called the hospital and within minutes the ambulance was there....no I'm just joking (in the Philippines they'd say "Oy Joker Ka!!!"-"You Joker!!"). You know me, I NEVER get hurt. Well, none of my wounds ever look bad, no matter how bad they are (Kaitlyn knows about that). Haha the only thing that hurt was my shin, all the way from my ankle to my knee. It's so bruised (internally) and really sensitive, yet it looks normal, (shocker!). I was so mad haha. It was such a good embarrassing fall and I had nothing to show from it. I guess we can count that as a blessing.

Me and Sister Mullen! She leaves tonight!!


Me and Elder Mariano on Saturday!!! :) We finally got a picture!


Oh a more spiritual level...Conference was awesome this weekend. I wish I had my notes and more times to share my thoughts, but I have some other thoughts from this week that I'd like to share instead. Just remember to do as President Monson said, study the talks when they come out. They are so important. As missionaries, we all needed to hear that we need to have faith and be obedient. "Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles." That is our district quote. We could all use some miracles in our lives right now as we got out as serve as the Lord's army. So be obedient. I started waking up at exactly 6:30, going to bed at exactly 10:30, and all the other little things. Yeah, they don't seem like a huge deal, but hey...if they're set as a rule, just do it. We shouldn't question or try to get around them. We should just do it.

Kaitlyn gets married this weekend. I am SO excited for her! I try really hard not to dwell on it...because it's really hard for me not to be there. But all I can do is try to relate to her. I can't even express the love that I have gained for my companion these past 4 weeks at the MTC. You go from sharing moments in your life with certain people; the fun times, the jokes, the sad times, the pains, the heartbreaks, and etc. But you come out here, and you're forced to share all of those times with one person: your companion. It's hard, especially cause you don't get to choose. But I testify of the unity and strength and love it has brought into our companionship. You laugh together, you eat together, you cry together, you learn together, you work together, you relax together, you teach together and you study together.  We only have 2 more weeks and I have to start all over, but I'm confident that I will grow to love every single person I serve with, because of who they are, and because I have done it already. It makes me think of marriage. What a huge preparation this is for marriage! It's going to be hard, leaving your family and being with one person 24/7 is hard. But Kait, you already have a one up on me: you are madly in love with this person. So remember, to tell Nate everything. Talk to him about your day, your thoughts, your memories, your passions. Tell him everything!!!! All the time!!! And I promise, your marriage and love for each other will blossom so quickly. I only have experience with this one companion, but I know it works. Just by how quickly I can change from frustration to love. I've never been able to do that so quickly as I have out here. Pray to continually love everyone you're around, whether it be siblings, husbands, wives, friends. Pray to love and serve them, and your life will be so much better.

I feel like I'm constantly challenging everyone. I don't mean to, I've just learned so much in the past 4 weeks...I don't know how to hold it all in! Another experience I had: This thursday I had a melt down. I don't know where these meltdowns come from, but they come quickly and unexpectedly. I've felt so unmotivated this week to do anything. I feel like I've struggled to feel the Spirit, to work, to study, and to pay attention. My teacher, Brother Pasikala, asked me how I was doing. I don't know how these teacher's do it, actually I do...it's all by the Spirit. But he knew that I needed something. I broke down in front of him and told him all my concerns and problems (that poor guy...I was a mess). But he knew exactly what I needed. In Ether 12:27 the Lord promises that our weaknesses will become strengths. I was feeling so weak, and I had no idea how to turn it into a strength other than by prayer. Prayer works. The next day, I continued my reading in the Book of Mormon in Jacob, and I was on chapter 4. In verse 6-7 it talks about us having the power through faith to command the mountains to move. (Something about if all of us had the faith of a mustard seed, there'd be no more mountains? Haha that was for you Dad) But it goes on to talk about our weaknesses, and to be honest, my mind is drawing a blank. I can't remember the exact scripture. But I remember my feelings when I read that. I cried. I needed to be stronger. I needed my faith to move the mountains of my doubt (I'm a poet now). I needed that more than anything. So I worked. I was diligent. I memorized our missionary purpose in Cebuano, memorized a few other things in Cebuano, and I just kept going. I tried not to stop working, to keep moving. And guess what...that was the best day I've had at the MTC. I fell asleep that night feeling TIRED from work!! Not just tired from being up so long. I was spiritually drained. And it was so fun :) Now that I've felt that, I want to feel it EVERY night. If that's not motivation from my Heavenly Father, I don't know what is.

I'm so glad everything's going well at home. Grandpa's doing a lot better (he sent me an amazing letter the other day...tell him I love him so much. And tell him, "I'm fine! How are you?!"). Mary Kate is ENGAGED!!!!!!!! Tell her I'm so happy for her and excited! That is CRAZY!!!!! :) I want updates on how that happened and how amazing this guy is. Nicole and Becca's birthday was this weekend...I feel bad, I still haven't sent Nicole's letter, but I sent Becca's. Did she get it?? Haha it's a good one :) Make sure they both know that I told EVERYONE I saw that it was my sister's birthday and that I loved them so much. It was like the talk of the weekend...well no it wasn't, General Conference was. But I was thinking about them a lot. I don't think anything else has happened...Well Kaitlyn went through the temple!!!!!! Which is AWESOME! I'm so excited to hear more from her about that :)

Thank you for all the updates. I want you all to know how much I love the MTC. I have 2 more weeks here, and I don't want to go. I've gained such a love for all our missionaries in our Zone, our leaders, our teachers, and all the speakers here. The Spirit is so strong. Our goal this week is to take advantage of our time here. There will never be another time in our life when I'll have 8 missionaries around me just as concerned about my spiritual growth as they are of their own. We are so blessed here, and we totally take it for granted. So I'm going to work so hard this week, so that everyone praying for me can receive awesome blessings. Thank you for all the love and support. It's been a huge blessing to me here. So thank you, and I love you all!

Our Purpose, sa Cebuano: Pangimbitar sa uban sa pagduol ngadto kang Kristo, pinaagi sa pagtabang kanila nga makadawat sa gipahiuli nga ebanghelyo pinaagi sa pagbaton og hugot nga pagtuo kang JesuKristo ug sa Iyan pag-ula, paghinulsol, pagpabunyag, pagdawat sa gasa sa Espiritu Santo, ug paglahutay hangtud sa katapusan.

I'm am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord, and to invite others to come unto Christ. My heart sinks at the thought that I never wanted to go on a mission. It has blessed my life so much these past 4 weeks, I don't know who'd I'd be, even now, without it. I love this gospel, and I know that this is the true church. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet and that the Lord speaks to us through him. We need to listen to him, and we need to act now. We need to be worthy now, because we are in the last days. His army has spread over the whole earth to prepare His children for when our Savior comes again. So get to it! Don't wait until you receive some personal motivation to move. Like Elder Bednar says, "Just get up and move. The Lord will direct you where you need to go once you are moving, not before."

I love you all! I don't know how to express that to you enough. Thank you for your support and testimonies through dearelder. I've needed them. Stay strong, and endure to the end!!

Love, Sister Hogge

This is the best of all us Sisters...

This is Elder Johnson, he wants to marry me haha. 
I freaking love this kid! He’s hilarious!!
I was trying to take a picture with the peak for dad and forgot they were behind me :) Sister Delfin and Elder Johnson!


Elder Call and the cheez itz nicole sent to him. He was SO happy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Letters!

The following are excerpts from letters that Kelsey and I received from Katie today. I wanted to share them with you because they give a little more info about her situation (keep in mind that summarizing an entire week of life changing learning and growing experiences in less than an hour of email time is pretty much impossible! So letters give her time to express a little more). But they also show her personality. And its always a comfort to me and makes me happy to know that she is learning and growing, but only becoming a better version of herself! She isn't losing her personality, its still completely there! Enjoy these letters from her!


 Coley!
Dude, you will NEVER believe what happened! ...So its our P-day (Preparation day, which means a day to do laundry, shopping, letters, etc. Basically free day to get stuff done.) (I wish this happened before I wrote my email so I could tell you all sooner), but today we were just about done with lunch and our laundry, and heading to our room and one of the Elder's yells at a couple of sister's saying "Where's my companion?" The first thing I thought was...Dang! That Elder has anger issues! But then Sister Bray and I decided to stop and see what was going on. Turns out that one of the new sisters (they just got here on Wednesday) had been crushing on this Elder's companion. But anyways, the sister went around the laundry room to go get her companion, but couldn't find her. They all started freaking out. None of them knew what to do. I remember feeling like that first week, I'd get in trouble if I was too far from my companion. But this Elder and these sisters were frantic, and we knew the girl who had lost her companion so she came up to us and asked us what to do. I told her it was fine, I doubted either of them would actually do something stupid like leave together. Well, I was completely wrong. We decided to look on the ramp that leads out from the laundry room and there they were!....making out! We were all in such shock we didn't know what to do! (That kind of thing is most definitely not allowed as a missionary). One of the Elders took control and took the Elder up to the front desk, and the rest I will have to find out later. Do you get sent home for that stuff?? Cause, you should! Maybe I'll just save this letter to send tomorrow so I can tell you! It totally threw off my whole day though. Our whole district is so weirded out by it! I've never heard of that happening in the MTC! 

 This is how Kelsey's letter started:

...Oh, and Nicole will possibly share a story with you that I wrote in her letter....tell her APRIL FOOLS!! I tried really hard not to give it away in her letter, but play along for a little while. (It was a stupid story haha, but I knew if I said something like, "I'm coming home" she'd freak out/wouldn't believe me) I know you'd freak out too and wouldn't let me!

HAHA she's hilarious, right?!? I totally bought her story and was freaking out until Kels told me it was April fools! Good one!



Ok, here's the rest of my letter:

I wish I could respond to every letter I get, but I'm sure you know how impossible that is. I'm always so grateful for the advice, but I can't always say something right away, and the weeks are SO long! So i forget to mention it by Monday. Make sure people know that. I seriously get so many! I'm so lucky!

...I only have 3 more weeks until I'll be in the Philippines!! Isn't that crazy?? Well...yes it is! I'm so excited! I'm ready to dive in! 

...um, is there anything I leave out every week? I told Jackie that I know I'm bad at telling funny stories. There are so many, but its just so hard! It's such a long week. Meals are my favorite. We get 3 districts together and all eat together. We all love each other so much and have a blast! We're all so different, but when you're around people so much, you just get comfortable and they become your family. I love it! Oh and my teachers, are awesome! Brother Young is THE best. First of all, everything about him makes him the guy any girl would want to marry. He's so humble, full of quotes and stories, so happy he can hardly even sit still, and so easy to connect with. He knows everything I've gone through since I've been here. He just cares. Its nice to have a teacher who loves all of us. We learn so much from him.

Love, Sister Hogge



The rest of Kelsey's letter:

....So, last night I kind of had a breakdown....We had our lesson all planned out for our investigator, Edeline, and we walked into our classroom and on the board it said, "Wala'y Ingles, para Karon - Sa Philippinas" You know what that means? NO ENGLISH FROM NOW UNTIL WE LEAVE FOR THE PHILIPPINES. Ha, heck yeah! I laughed at first, but then I realized our teachers wouldn't be speaking any English for the rest of our time here. It's so frustrating when they say something Sa Cebuano and all we can do is just look at them...I feel like were' constantly playing charades, and I hate that game.
Anyways, our teacher Bro Young showed us a Mormon message that talks about the Lord knowing you're going through hard times - Its with Quentin L Cook. You should go watch it! (watch it here)
He played it right before our lesson and I was bawling! It's so hard to put all your trust in the Lord. I've never struggled so much with that. We prayed before (their lesson with Edeline, who they are teaching) went in, and I gave a totally different lesson than we had planned. Answered her question with a scripture, and my companion was just sitting there. She'd forgotten everything. Her Cebuano is  much better than mine (I say that I speak in broken Cebuano - I can't get the grammer down to save my life!), yet I was the one who spoke so often, only using the words I knew, totally out of order! I was so grateful for that BUT it was so hard to see my companion struggle. It only goes to show that it'll come and go, which just means we have to keep up our hard work and learn to trust in the Lord. Struggling at the language makes you stronger, but it doesn't make anything easier right now! We practiced sentences he rest of the night with our teacher Sister Brinton, and even though I did understand it, it's hard/discouraging to not be able to speak! It's times like these that I wish I got called English speaking! But there must be some reason, right?! :)


So theres my language struggles! Sorry to place all my burdens on you. I'm really okay :) It's just hard work and it tests my patience. But I know that it'll be okay! (Well, I just keep telling myself that. It gets me through the day!)
....
Love, Sister Hogge
 p.s. you should start using some Cebuano. Teach my nephew some words! Just ask me what you want to know how to say and I'll translate for you! Love you!

      
 

Halfway through the MTC!

This is pretty personal, and for the record, her grandpa is fine.  I know he will be embarrassed that so much is said about him in this message, but the message is important and the lesson she learned even more so; for her and for us!  Details are, he had a mini stroke.  It affected his speech for the day.  They ran every test known to man and have found no evidence or damage, which is a miracle!  (The only evidence was his speech and confusion at the time)  I believe that miracle is due to the setting apart blessing that Katie received which stated that her family would be fine while she was gone, especially her grandparents.  We thought it odd at the time, but only 3 weeks later we understand how inspired that blessing was!  Thank you President for listening to and pronouncing those inspired words and blessings.

~Linda (Mom)

Maayong Buntag/Hapon! (Good Morning/Afternoon)
 
The Left are the new sisters, and the bottom right and top right/ middle are all the Sisters going to Hong Kong. Sister Moody, in all green/necklace, is my favorite. I am going to miss her so much!!
 
 
I had a GREAT week this week. So many great experiences! I wish I had to time to write them all down and share every bit of what I've learned so far with you, but I can't. I will continue to express how hard a mission is, it is hard. But I am already starting to see the rewards of my efforts. First of all, is everything alright with Grandpa? I went to the temple this morning and made sure to put his name on the prayer roll. And I've prayed for him every night. I have SO much faith that he will be okay, but it still breaks my heart to know what he's going through. This is kind of a personal experience, but I want to share it with everyone. I was at gym running around the track and decided to take my dear elders from that day. I read Tyler Packard's and Mandy's and I loved them. Such great advice and such awesome experiences. It helps to know what other people are going through, and to see how they turned out. They are great examples, and are definitely letters I'll be keeping for motivation throughout my mission. So thank you :) I also read yours mom, about Grandpa's stroke. I read it and started bawling. I read what you said mom, and I have faith in my blessing that my family will all be protected, but it was still hard. My heart literally felt broken to know that my Grandpa, one of the greatest men I know and one of my best friends, to know he had to go through that. I couldn't handle it. I took a lap and got back to find a note an Elder who caught me crying, had left me. He said, "Don't worry, Remember God loves us." That struck me so hard, especially right then. God does love us, and we forget sometimes that He knows exactly what we're going through. The Atonement not only allows us to repent and be forgiven of our sins, but it allows us to take comfort in the fact that we are NEVER alone. Christ knows EXACTLY what we are going through. He knows our pains, our joys, and our struggles. It's hard to realize that and draw strength off of that, but when I imagine that Christ is right next to me, crying for the pain my Grandpa is feeling, I only find comfort. My heartache is still there, but it is covered by comfort that I am never alone. I might have physically been alone at the time, but my spirit was comforted by the Atonement. I have never been so grateful for it in my life. It is a doctrine that I had studied every day here in the MTC, and my love for Christ and understanding for Christ grows stronger each day. I didn't even think it was possible. But when you're in a place where you are in constant contact with you Heavenly Father, and constantly feeling the Holy Ghost, there is no way around feeling Christ's love for us, and God's love for you. And once you feel that, you will feel love for every single person around you.
 
 
   
Us with our flag!!! This might be a weekly occurance :)
 
 
That love goes away though haha, as I've learned. So it's important to be in constant communication with the Lord, and constantly be seeking the Spirit. It's hard in real life, as a missionary it's all we do and it's our only focus. But the Lord understands. He doesn't expect us to be perfect, He just wants us to try and to show Him love in little ways throughout the day. Things that we all learn as little kids, like: apologizing sincerely, serving those around you, even if it's something little, removing yourself from unclean environments, and starting your days off right. I can't go one day without praying here, I can hardly go an hour without praying actually haha. But I've learned here to make goals you can keep, so I'm going to encourage all of you to make a goal you can keep this week. I want to encourage everyone to just make it their goal to start their day off with a prayer. Just a morning prayer. Short, sweet and simple. Mom and Dad, you've always been a good example of that. I love walking in on you praying when you first get out of bed, it's such a good example to all of us kids of how to start our days. I promise that if you sincerely start your days off with a prayer, and even end the day in thanks to the Lord, that your lives will begin to change. Key word: Sincere. If you already do it, add to your prayers. Ask the Lord to teach you to recognize the Spirit throughout the day. Sheri Dew spoke to us yesterday and told us to, "Ask the Lord to be tutored to know how to listen and hear the Spirit". Ask sincerely, He WILL provide. I bear testimony of that. He's gotten me through 3 weeks of my mission already, when I wanted to go home on the 3rd day. And these past 3 weeks have been full of lessons of love, faith and trust in the Lord. We also got to listen to an MTC devotional from Elder David A. Bednar called "Recognizing the Spirit". He is so funny! He asked the question, "How do I know if it's the Holy Ghost, or just me?" He answered saying, "Quit worrying about it. Press forward with faith in the Lord. When you are moving, you WILL be guided. Don't wait to hear the voice of the Spirit. If you are being a good boy, and a good girl, and if you doing righteous things, you WILL be guided by the Spirit." Well duh. Haha it was such an eye opener to me, "He shouldn't have keep smacking us with the Holy Ghost to get us to do it, just move." In Moroni 7:13 it says,"But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." Read it again, it says EVERYTHING that is good is INSPIRED of God. Think about how many good things you do throughout the day. Every little thing, every big thing, even the things you don't even think about. Everything that is good, in an inspired thought or action from God. Everyone is being inspired every day!  Isn't that so cool?? If you just recognize that good things are from God, and bad things are from Satan, think about how many of our lives are going to change. Because who wants to be inspired from Satan? Not me. And that alone makes me want to try to be a better person every second of the day. That scripture has been in my mind all week, and I just randomly came across it studying. But this week has been so good because of that scripture. I feel myself recognizing who's inspiring me every time I do or think something. Yeah, it's a little exhausting, but believe me, you WILL see a change. Inspire to do good. Work hard every day and the Lord will bless you :) I'm taking that challenge on too, because I know that I don't work hard enough here. Even though it's all we do, is study, there are still a lot of things that distract me. There's always room for improvement, always.
 
Last Monday I got to go to the Hospital with Sister R. (pictured above) This Sister is amazing. Her whole district left for the Philippines last week, and she had to stay for medical reasons. I can't believe the faith she has, she is so strong. She had to get a bone marrow biopsy because her white blood cells were down (Do not ask me more about the situation...I don't even know how blood cells and bone marrow go hand in hand with each other.) But anyways, her results come this week so she had to stay an extra 2 weeks. Sister Bray and I are now her companions. It was such a good experience to go with her, and to be able to serve. You don't get very many of those opportunities in the MTC. BUT I did :) and I prayed so hard to be exactly what she needed. I am so grateful for that. I was able to love her and serve her and make sure she was okay. And it somehow prepared me for this week...though I didn't realize it would at the time. I was so discouraged with the language this week, I felt so behind and so unprepared for everything. She was so grateful for me and had grown to love me so much that she had the faith in me that I lacked, and she helped me. We role played a lesson while she was sick in bed, I practiced my Cebuano with her (She speaks Ilongo - close to Cebuano) and I was able to gain faith in myself again. It's so hard not to get discouraged here, but that's why wer are all here for each other. We are all friends for a reason, and she stayed for a reason. I hate to be selfish and be grateful for her having to stay but I am. She has slowly been getting better, and began going to class with Sister Bray and I. Having her here has even strengthened our companionship. We see that we need to work harder and try harder and not get so distracted (Our district is way too much fun). Sister Bray and I made goals this week on how to help each other, and I've made a goal with myself to be more like her. She is ALWAYS happy. And I'm an emotional person. So it gets hard sometimes. BUT she finds joy in everything, and it's starting to wear off on me :) I find myself being happier throughout the day and not being so discouraged. We try to SYL (Speak Your Language) almost every day and always fail. Haha but it's so good for us to laugh at our mistakes. Believe me, it is frustrating. But it's much less frustrating when neither of us know the language.
 
Anyway, it's been a good week. I've learned a lot. The spiritual times come and go. The hard times come and go. The homesickness comes and goes. The discouragement comes and goes. You learn to just deal with things when they're present, but let them go as soon as you. You learn to attempt to keep the Spirit with you, and pray again when you feel it leave. It's a constant back and forth, but you are constantly growing every time you decide to ask the Spirit back with you. It's amazing, the work we're doing. And I'm excited to gain a better understanding and a bigger excitement for what missionary work actually is.
 
I love every one of you who are praying for me. I hope this email wasn't too long. Well, I know it was long, but I hope you can each draw strength on the knowledge I've gained this week. Remember, it's not just for me. This gospel's meant to be shared :) So share it! Since I can't yet :) 
 
Sister Bray and I love each other! :)
 
I can't believe it's April, Kaitlyn gets married in 2 weeks!!! And Jackie leaves soon! (Her skirts are so cute!!) And Ty sent me a picture of Kelsey, Mom she is so pregnant. I am SO excited! I pray for her and that baby everyday. I'm so excited she finally felt it kick!!! Oh the miracles life brings you.  I love my nephew already, I can't wait to meet him!
 
Let me know how gramps is doing this week. Tell him and grams that I love them and I'm praying for them. Tell dad to quit getting hurt. (Mark got a rug burn wrestling with the boys in our living room, and it got infected.  He's allergic to Neosporin...who would have guessed?)  It worries me every day and it's really annoying. I am not bathing him when I get home if he decides to go and get himself brutally injured. (Sorry if I have poor spelling. I am going to hate English by the time I get home, I can already tell.) But for real, you know I would dad. Just try not to do anything too hard core (like wrestling or basketball). I love you all so much! I miss you and pray for you every day. But it's not an unbearable miss anymore. I am more excited for the blessing my mission will provide you and everyone supporting me, than I am sad to not be there. So that is a major improvement this week.
 
I'm all over the place so I'm going to bear my testimony in Cebuano for you now:
 
Nasayud ko nga tinuod ang ebanghelyo. Gugma ko manluluwas ug manunubos ni JesuKristo. Nagpasalamat ko para sa oportunidad (to be a) misionaryo para sa simbahan ni JesuKristo sa mga Santos sa ulahing mga adlaw. Nasayud ko nga propeta karon adlaw ni Thomas S. Monson ug kna gipahiuli ang ebanghelyo ni Joseph Smith. Sa ngalan ni JesuKristo, Amen.
I know this gospel is true. I love my savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know the prophet today is Thomas S. Monson and that Joseph Smith restored the gospel. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
 
Gugma, Sister Hogge
 
P.S. 3 more weeks, and I'm off to the Philippines!!! (We're getting stir crazy!)
 
We love our elders. Last night after devo we had about a half hour before we were allowed to go to bed. So we sat outside and ate junk food with (L-R) Elder Call, Me, Elder Johnson, Elder Morley, Elder Muir and Sister Bray. It was so fun...but we were all so tired haha. Fast Sunday feast!