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.
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.
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!)