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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Another Week 5/27/13

The latest from Katie.  Short and sweet.  She must be doing better  ;) ~Linda

Me and S.Tumala at the baptism and at the beach :)

 I never know how to start these things haha,Has my language improved? Haha not yet. That is one of the most difficult things for me here, but I'm trying not to let it get me down. I'll get it, I just need to learn and become confident in applying what I learn...and start learning more. I need to push myself! I've lacked that this first transfer. That is my goal for next transfer. I'm praying really hard for it!

Guess what we did this week? We had a baptism in the ocean! It was SO cool!! Jude is AWESOME. 

This week went by extremely quickly. We were so busy! We had exchanges this week, and while we were out I was able to find in English! We went to a resort and got to talk to the owner of the resort in English. Turns out he's catholic, but we're going to keep trying. I learned a lot during the exchanges, just like last week. There's so much for me to do here. Every day I find something new I need to work on. Sometimes it's really frustrating. I have this HUGE to do/to change/to work on list, and I just have to laugh. I wonder if I'll ever stop adding to it.

Us at church yesterday...I straightened my hair to see if I could look nice one day! Way too hot.

. All of our friends :) The youth here are awesome, we love them! 

We got to clean our apartment this's so clean, for the Philippines. It's made me feel a little closer to home :) having a clean place to shower is a bigger deal than I thought. The shower is now my favorite most relaxing place, despite the scary event from last week.

Sunrise this morning, at 5am. I was so tired but LOVED it. It was actually cool. I'd wake up every morning at 5 just to be cool, our house is SO hot.
So worth it!!

Love from the Philippines!!!! (this is for nicole, and Kaitlyn and Jackie)

We also got to attend the funeral this week for the family I wrote about last week. Sister T and I are trying our hardest to help them. We've started committing them to reading and praying every week as a family. We're praying really hard for them! They seem to appreciate us being there, and hopefully we can start the discussions back up with the mom soon, when she's ready.
So during our cleaning day (Our apts here are so bad that President assigns a whole day once a month to cleaning them), we got done around noonand aren't allowed to go out until after 6, so we just studied all day. This is like gold as a missionary. I started reading M. Russell Ballard's book, "Our Search for Happiness". My knowledge has increased 100%.  Oh my goodness, I love that book. I can't even express my love for that book. His purpose is to increase every bodies understanding of the church. If you haven't read it, read it. The gospel is simple, it just reminds me that I need to be thinking and teaching simply. I can't stress out about not knowing everything right now. In time, it'll come. The book is short and easy to read. So just read it :)

Duck face? :) Kind of a fail...

I love you! Like always :) Hope you enjoy the pictures from this week. I'm doing a lot better. I won't lie, home ALWAYS sounds much better than here. BUT I'm not letting it affect me negatively. I love home, and I love my family, friends, ward, everything. But it'll still be there when I'm done here. So I can't waste the Lord's time missing it too much. I'm trying! I promise!!
Have a good week :) I'm praying for you all! (Literally, all of you. My prayers are so long. I should start thinking of shortcut words so I go to bed on time)
- Sister Hogge


We went on splits this week...I was SO nervous, but I survived. And learned A LOT. I have a lot of work to do. 

Me and S.Tumala during a rain storm. Guess what?! I got sick from this. Lame. She said it was from the temp. going from really hot to cold, then to hot again. My nose has been killing me ALL week.
Mango float, probably the BEST filipino dessert. 
This was just this afternoon. We had lunch at Nanay Fely's house! Lumpia, Rice, Beef adobo, chicken curry, pork puffs, and homemade pancit canton. It was a feast! This thing i'm eating...not sure exactly what it is. But it's some kind of cooked vegetable that was actually really good. (Probably because it tasted sugary...) 

I did not eat this, but it looked cool. 

We ate this with our hands...filipino style!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What a week 5/20/13

This week I've felt just about every emotion you can feel on your mission.

Me and Sister tumala in a petticab

It's been a good, but hard week. Every morning I wake up homesick, and sometimes more tired than I was when I went to bed. But every night I almost die as I get into bed. Missionary work is exhausting, but it is SO rewarding.

Me and Sister Tumala at church
We visited a less active family in Cabong this week, about a 20 minute drive from our apt. We got there, committed her to come to church this week, and then got stranded. No one drives out that far, it's in the middle of the jungle. So we had to walk all the way back into town, about an hour walk, and my feet payed the price, (And she didn't even show up to church). So it was a frustrating day haha. I had to wear sandals the next couple days because my shoes rubbed my heels raw!

My heels haha

 But we continued to work hard, and the Lord blessed us. We found a lot of less actives we've been looking for, and got 5 potential investigators this week! And got fed almost every day. I've had fish about 3 times this week: grilled, salted, marinated, always served with rice. It's actually really good! (Those of you who know Katie know that she claims to hate fish...) (Probably because it doesn't taste fishy haha).

Me and my dinner haha
My dinner last week!
Me and Sis. T and our fish spines!

And then we got fed this extremely weird looking coconut drink from a member who climbed up a palm tree and hacked down about 10 coconuts for us. It was intense, and actually really good.

Me and Sister Tumala at "Paradise": this is where we had that coconut drink i was talking about!

The drink :)

 Another member made us Spam and Rice, because that's all she had. Oh my gosh, fried spam is so good. I was disgusted with myself for liking it so much, but then I got over it. Food is food. And it's fattening here. My two favorite things about being on a mission so far: the food, and reading the Book of Mormon. I know I already talked about it, but I'm just so shocked at how good that book is. How lucky are we?? I can hardly put it down! I wake up early just to read it haha. Oh and Nicole, I write in my journal every day for you! I'm already 1/4 done with it...

My planner, for nicole (I asked her to take a picture of this for me because on Mother's Day when we talked to her, she had written in her planner on her To do List: "Be happy! (you just talked to your family!) DON'T CRY ALL DAY!!" She said sometimes she has to make little goals to start with, like don't cry today...and then go from there :) poor katie!)

Then Saturday came. I was so pumped from how hard we've worked and seeing the reward of our service almost immediately, that I was thrown off when Sister T came downstairs with a worried look on her face. It wasn't even8am yet and we received a text from one of our part member families, P and D. I don't think I've told you about them yet. When we got here, the last the Elder's had heard from them they were waiting for President to get his license so that he could marry them (does that make sense?). P's a returning member, and their 2 daughters. P and A, had just gotten baptized a few weeks ago. D, the mom can't get baptized until they're married, and they've never been able to afford to get married. So the week we got there, President got his license! We went to tell them, and teach them at the same time, but when we told them, they didn't get excited or anything. It was weird, but we didn't really know them so we didn't think about it. We taught them another time, and we've just been confused as to what to do. They weren't planning a wedding or progressing at all. The next time, we noticed that A was sick, so we asked what was wrong. This little girl is only 8, and we found out she has Leukemia. They had just visited the doctor, and because they have no money, they couldn't do anything. All they could do was wait. I felt even more inadequate to teach them. They do not prepare you well for these situations in the MTC. We encouraged them to read the Book of Mormon as a family and pray together. That is the ONLY way that they can receive help and comfort from their Heavenly Father at this time. We checked up on them every day this week. Most days they weren't home. But we've tired our best to be there for them. So Saturday morning we received a call to go to their house with the Elders, because A needed a blessing. We got there, and it was the most somber I've seen any of them. The dad was just holding her, and she was breathing so hard like she was struggling to stay alive. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen. Everyone was crying, even all of us missionaries. We all received a text from LDS news, telling us Sister Monson had just passed away. This was not going to be a good day. We left to give them space, but told them to call us, and we'd be back to check on them in a few hours. We hadn't even been home 30 minutes before Sister D texted us, A passed away. We rushed over there. The dad, P, was leaning over her, holding her head, just holding onto her and wiping her face. The mom was just sitting there, holding her younger daughter, no emotion on her face.
I have no idea how to help them. I felt on the top of the world this week, conquering every day and working so hard. And then this happened, and I was humbled. The only way that we can help this family is through the Spirit. I have SO much to learn. It hit me really hard this week. This really isn't about me. All I can do is prepare the best I can, and then get to work and follow the Spirit. You know the scripture in D&C 84:85 I think, where it says: "Take no thought beforehand what ye shall say..." Can I just tell you how easy the Lord makes thing for us, but how hard that is to do? It really takes dedication and practice, and I can tell you that I have not mastered that yet. I was extremely humbled this week. I can not preach this gospel and give myself credit, because I'm not good enough! I can't do this by myself. But when I learn, I'll be able to say exactly what the Lord wants me to, whenever I need to. I have so much work to do! I think I said that last week too. There are times, daily, that I think about going home. Then I remember the things I haven't accomplished yet, and I remember my weaknesses. I am not going home until I can turn those into strengths. As much as this mission is for me and about my growth, the only way any of us can grow is if we forget ourselves and serve others. Read the end of Moroni 7, it teaches us everything we need in order to have a perfect faith in the Lord. Because none of us are there yet, I promise. There is always something to work on and improve.

Our apt!!!
I hope this email wasn't too depressing. I really am doing well!!! One more story before I go? I'll make it quick. We've had a fun guest stay with us this past week!! He likes to hide and pop out and scare us every so often. Last night, after hiding the past 3 days, he jumped on me out of NOWHERE while I was showering! Unsa ma na!!?? (Cebuano for "What the heck?!", Sister T says it all the time, so it's a common phrase in our apt.) This guest of ours is a spider, about the size of my hand; kind of like a tarantula, minus the hair. I screamed so loud!! And Sister T is a champ. She burst into the bathroom with a mop and killed that thing in less than 5 seconds! I actually felt bad...I think it had just fallen from it's web and it was thinking "I'm gonna drown!" at the same time that I was thinking, "It's gonna kill me!" So we just misunderstood each other. But now he's gone :/ And Sister T saved my life. So we reached a whole new level of closeness this week.
Our house guest :)

More stories to come, I'm sure.
Sister Hogge
PS. Pray for me! I go on exchanges this week with the STL's (Sister Training Leaders). I am so nervous!

How missionaries travel in the Philippines during zone conferences (all the elders just pack in anywhere!)

Me and elder call!!! We're in the same zone!

My batch! Our zones met for zone conference!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day! (I don't know what else to name this email...) 5/13/13

Had an amazing conversation with Katie last night.  She is doing so well!  Her countenance was peaceful.  She's happy and it shows! You will be happy to know she feels your prayers and they buoy her up! ~Linda

Happy Mother's Day! Haha I just got off skype with you all, and I think I forgot to say that. Sorry! I want you to know that I was thinking about you, Mom, all day yesterday. Me and my companion even let ourselves cry a little bit from missing our moms, and it was a good and much needed cry. It prepared me for today! I thought I was going to be a mess...crying the whole time I was skyping, but I wasn't too bad. I prayed so hard to use this skype session to strengthen me and not to tear me down and make me homesick. I'm still praying that it works, but as of right now I feel completely uplifted and literally lighter! To have a connection with your family when you've felt SO alone and SO far away is so encouraging. It makes me feel like you're not all so far away. I think it'll hold me over until Christmas :)
David's home!! That is so funny...we're like opposites right now. I miss home, he misses his mission. I'm excited to hear how he's doing. And I'm half jealous of him for being home/half sad for him. I miss home, but I'm so glad I don't have to focus on myself right now and worry about school, work, etc. I'm sure it's extremely hard.

Anyway(s), this week has been AWESOME! Comparatively. I still wake up every morning homesick (dreaming of home will be the death of me). I wake up thinking I'm home and then the heat hits me and I realize I'm in the Philippines, it's the worst feeling in the world. But how am I dealing with it? I just get up, start reading the scriptures, and eat my oatmeal. That's about all you can do. On the mornings where I wake up exhausted and homesick, I get more exhausted and more homesick the longer I lay there. The only way to get over it I'm beginning to learn, is to get to work. So I want everyone to know that I'm trying! I'm trying to work hard, but know that I am not perfect yet. There are still mornings I allow myself to lay there, and it is not worth it. I need to be better. Every week's a new week. If there is something you need to work on, start today! If you can't think of something specifically, then pray for something to work on, and after your prayer, open your scriptures. There is ALWAYS something we can do better, and the scriptures will ALWAYS tell us what that is. Try it, it's cool.
This week we had zone conference! For those of you who've served missions, you know those are a BIG deal. We had zone conference with 2 others zones, so I got to see Sister Lindsay, Sister Bray, Sister Hurless, Elder Call, and Elder Kaafi from my batch! I've never been so excited to see an American before. It was so good to hear about how they were all doing. We're all struggling! Which is hard to hear, but it's so much easier knowing I'm not alone. The mission is hard. And the only way to ever understand how emotionally, physically and mentally draining it is, is to go on a mission. This week Sister T and I found out just how poorly our branch is doing. 79 members came to church yesterday, out of 0ver 600. We have 600 inactive/less active members. Do you know how much pressure you, as a missionary, feel to be responsible for 600 souls? And not only be responsible, but feel inadequate to make a difference? How is this brand new missionary supposed to affect the lives of 600 people enough to encourage them to come back to church after years of inactivity? I have no idea. But you know who does? The Lord. There is no way any missionaries could ever be effective unless the Lord prepared his people to hear you. I am learning to have faith, and to trust the Lord that this is where I'm supposed to be. Whether or not I feel adequate is not important. Anything is possible through Christ. We just have to remember that, I just have to remember that. If I can do that, I will be successful. So here we go!!! I've got a lot of work to do :)
But not only do I have work to do, you all do too. Anybody who reads this does! As members of Christ's church, we are just as responsible for these souls. Missionaries CAN NOT do their work effectively without members. So yes, I am calling everyone out, including myself before the mission. If you aren't helping the missionaries, or helping the inactives/less actives, then you are not doing your job as a member of this church. PLEASE help the missionaries. Ask how you can help. Refer friends to them. Take 5 minutes out of your day to tell someone who doesn't come to church anymore that you miss them. That is all it takes. Once you do that, the Lord will help you. It's really that easy. Missionaries teach and help others to understand the gospel, Members fellowship. What is the point of baptizing people into our church if they don't continue to go because of the lack of fellow-shipping? There is no point. Help the Missionaries.
Here I go, making everyone feel bad. Haha sorry. That is not my point. I love you all! And I love all the support. It makes me feel stronger EVERY day to know how many people love me and pray for me. So thank you :) I am doing a lot better this week. I've had this goal to be happier and find things to laugh at and find joy in. It's totally working! And not only that, but I'm reading my scriptures. It's the only familiar thing to me right now. And the Lord has blessed me with an amazing increase of understanding for the scriptures. They are SO fun to read! I love it! So thank you for your prayers. Know that they are helping. I can feel them helping :)
I don't have any funny stories yet. The dogs hear scare me...they are infested with fleas! And one night sister Tand I had to literally run until we felt like the dog wasn't following us. They just roam around everywhere, like wild dogs. It's sad and scary at the same time. So oddly enough, I miss Mika. What else? I ate fish last night!! And it was tasteless!!!!! So I was able to just smile and say it was good haha. Easy :) and we had it with rice, of course. There hasn't been a day yet that we don't eat rice. I am starting to crave it...which is the weirdest feeling. I still miss America, but I've made it my goal to stop comparing like Kevin Smith and Sister Raddigan suggested. It's really hard not to compare. America is so much nicer, and cleaner, and cooler haha. But I promise, I'm trying. The people make it so much easier. They are SO nice. They joke around 24/7 too, so we're always laughing haha...even if I don't get the joke. They just like to laugh. It's a good distraction.
I love you all! I have to go! I'll try to attach pictures! Have a good week!!!!!
Sister Hogge

Yes...I ate that :) that was my sunday dinner this week :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 week down 5/6/13

Ironically she refers to wishing she had time to tell stories and then proceeds to write another book...

I wish I had time to tell you stories. But I'll tell you a little about the area. We're the first sisters here, and I'm the first white sister, so EVERYONE stares at me. It's really weird. Everyone calls me beautiful and says, "hello" to me. Which is funny because I wear NO make up and my hair is always up in a bun, and I'm always sweating. So it's weird. I've had no experience with the food here. Well, a little bit. We ate at the Branch President's house last sunday, but that's all the foreign food i've had. It's hard to eat here, because I have no idea what anything is. I just eat fruit, bread, rice and peanut butter. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.
So yesterday was church. We went to church and I was just so overwhelmed again. Every time we go out, I get so overwhelmed with the language. It's so hard.  And trying to stay awake in church is hard enough, imagine not knowing ANYTHING that is being said. They sing in English, but that's about all. Anyways, that's what I fasted for yesterday. A desire to speak the language. Once I can speak it, even just a few words here and there, I won't be so homesick. And guess what? It came! Well it comes and goes, but it came yesterday during language study after church. I know 50 words in Waray Waray now. And last night at MCM I spoke Waray Waray for the first time to the members. They asked me to pray, and I said as much as I could in Waray Waray. They were SO proud of me. We spend so much time with the members, so I feel really close to them already. So to have them be so proud of me felt so good. Imagine when I can actually speak to them :)
Our mission is focused on reactivating and finding professionals. The church here needs strong leaders. We had 124 members in sacrament meeting this week, last week was 104. That's not a lot. But we worked this week on visiting less actives and inviting them to church. We got 20 people! that's a start!! (I think they come just to see a white person...I'm the talk of the branch right now.) We've also gotten a few less active girls to help us around the city. We're both EXTREMELY unfamiliar with Borongan, so they've been taking us to members houses. We taught 14 lessons this week. That's including 2 to our investigator, Brother "L". I invited him to be baptized last week during our first lesson and he said yes. He was so ready to be taught. He's been hanging out with the members for a while and his aunt is a member. He's just been waiting for us I guess. He gets baptized on June 1st. My first baptism already!
Tomorrow we have Zone conference, and the next day we go to Tacloban (6hours away), for a tri-zone conference. I get to see Sister Bray, Lindsay, Elder Call and a few others from our batch. I am SO excited.

My right leg has about 50 mosquito bites on it. I might have to come home without it.
Anyways, I should probably go. Thank you for your prayers and your love and your support. I thought the MTC was hard...psh. But I had to go through that hard time to be able to handle this one. And I have to go through this hard time to be able to handle the next one. So I'm grateful for struggling. It's hard in the moment, but I know it'll be worth it. I'm grateful for the people here. They've been so open and accepting of me. I can only speak in English, and most everyone can understand me. They're just all too shy to talk back. But i've been able to bear my testimony to a lot less actives and the spirit has been so strong. I'm so grateful for that, that I've been able to feel useful and touch so many members already. But I also know that the Lord has blessed me with that for now, but expects me to try harder to learn the language.
I love you all so much. Thank you for everything. I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for your prayers and examples. They give me strength.
Love, Sister Hogge
( pictures this week)