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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weeks of Weaknesses 6/12/13

This week marks her 3 month mark.  I can hardly believe she's been out so long!  And 6 weeks in the Philippines already!  Thanks for your prayers and letters.  I know they give her courage and strength.  She is learning so much! ~Linda
I can't believe my first 6 weeks is already over. It actually went by really quickly, looking back on it. At the time, it was horribly slow. But I can see how missionaries feel like time goes by so fast on the mission. It totally does.

My scriptures. They are TORN up. I need to stop reading them so much (haha...yeah right). I'm going to buy super glue this week to glue them back together.

A better picture of my scriptures. They're really bad.

So we had transfers last week, and Sister T and I are still together! I have 6 more weeks of training and then I'll be done! Training basically means that we do an extra hour of companionship study and we focus on the 12 weeks program during that hour. It's a really good program, because it allows you to focus on specific things rather than try to do everything at once. It's been really nice.

This week was hard! We did a lot of tracting, and came home just completely exhausted. Tracting in the heat of the Philippines isn't the funnest thing. I love tracting though, because I feel like it challenges me more. I've found out that I'm really bad at knowing where to start in sharing the gospel, and knowing how much to share. So it's definitely still a work in progress.

Pictures do not do it justice. It was SO pretty.

There was this area we went to this week call Can-Abong. It's this neighborhood right off the hwy, about a 15 minute drive from our apartment. So we got to it and started walking. We walked down a series of streets until suddenly everything opened up into this gorgeous field! You could see cute little huts with farms, houses, animals, and then hills in the background. Everything just covered in green. It was so spectacular (that's the only word I can use to describe my awe). I finally felt like I was actually in the Philippines. The hills in the background were just covered in palm trees, and the street let back into the jungle with palm trees shading the street. I don't think I described that well enough, but it was so cool. I love that area, despite how hot and frustrating tracting is, it was just the first time I realized just how cool my mission is.

This GORGEOUS stream in the same area as the field. It was so pretty down there I just wanted to stay down there and stare at it.

Anyways, before I head off to another week, I wanted you all to know how much I love you. I feel so alone here sometimes, and then the Lord reminds me of all the people who love and care about me. I'm so grateful for that. The mission is so hard, and there will be weeks where I'm really down, and then weeks where I'm really happy and successful. But it's in those weeks that I'm down where I know that I'm learning and I'm growing. We should always be striving to do better, and in Ether 12:27 it talks about our weaknesses becoming strengths.  The Lord gives us weaknesses to remind us that we need him. If we felt strong all the time, and perfect at everything, we wouldn't need Him would we? We'd forget about him. So weaknesses are a blessing, something to be grateful for. Because in those weak times, he allows us to turn to him, to rely on him to make us strong. And he always will, because he loves us. And for that, I am so grateful. Because I feel weak all the time, and even alone. But I'm really not. He is always there for us. And I'm sure that's something we all forget. He's there, on the other side, just waiting for us to turn to him. So we've got to stop ignoring him. He'll never ignore us.

Us eating dinner with the President and Sister Andaya. It was so fun, they randomly came into town on Saturday and treated us to dinner. They are the best, and so funny!

Have an amazing week, I love you all!

Love from the Philippines,
Sister Hogge

Why is the title always the hardest part of emailing? 6/3/13

I've heard already that you can tell I'm doing a lot better, just from the pictures. Well, it's true :)

It's really funny actually. After I emailed last Monday, I was in the worst mood. I let it travel into Tuesday as well. It was the most unsuccessful night/morning. I was so tired of everything, and so down, and so confused. I had NO idea what to do. Those are the hardest/scariest times on the mission. Being so lost. But we're so lucky to have the Lord on our side, because you know what you do in those moments of desperation? You kneel down. Kneel down, and pray. Sister T and I struggled as a companionship monday and tuesday, and then, despite what we were going through, we knelt down together and just cried. It was probably the most desperate prayer I've ever given. She's been getting migraines, causing her to not be able to work, and making me feel useless. So we were a mess! Haha but we got up, we went out, and found 4 youth waiting at our appointment to help us out for the day. What a blessing they were! We tracted and got totally rejected by every single person, taught a few lessons, and came home in the best mood I've ever been in. I felt so successful, even though it was a normal day! Nothing happened, nothing was different, other than the fact that we completely humbled ourselves and gave ourselves to the Lord. And guess what? He totally provided, specifically 4 youth in fact, that were so excited to help us. 

We went to Tacloban this week for Sister T's check up. It was so good to see everyone, as always. It's nice to see others from my MTC batch alive, and still treading through the language. We've got this! We got a few days to encourage each other and then get back to work. 

Once we got back, the Elder's had a referral for us. Her name is C, she's the owner of their new apartment. We went straight to her house the next day just to meet her. We taught the most amazing lesson. It's funny, I was SO nervous in the MTC whenever we had to teach. But ever since I've been here, even though I've had EVERY reason to be nervous not knowing the language, I haven't been nervous once. This one especially. We just talked to her. We got to know her, who she was, what she was struggling with, and we loved her the second she opened her mouth. It was so easy. I understood everything that went on, despite the language differences. We both knew exactly what to teach her, and it was not what we planned at all. But we taught her what we knew she needed to know, for the next hour. And she was so perceptive! We asked her to read the book of mormon, she said "Sigi". We asked her to pray about the book of mormon, she said, "Sigi". And we asked her that when she got the answer that is was true, would she be baptized, she said, "Sigi". You know how a missionaries job is to just go and preach the gospel, and the Lord will prepare the people? Yeah, he totally prepares his people. I have no idea what will happen with her, but I know what I felt in that lesson: Heavenly Father's love for me, for my companion and for her. It was so clear and it was so right. I am so glad I'm here. If only to have gained that testimony for myself. I'm beginning to learn how exactly to trust in the Lord.

Our investigator got baptized this week! As seen in the pictures. He's awesome, we're so proud of him! I was so lucky to have him as my first baptism.

We also had a family come to church this week! The family who's daughter passed away. We gave them a reading assignment and committed them to come this week. They did! We were so happy to see them :) Seeing children and youth with their parents at church after seeing them attend alone is the sweetest thing I have ever witnessed. We don't realize how lucky most of us are to have our whole family with us at church. It is such a blessing.

So, yes. I am doing amazing. The members here are taking care of us so well! I've committed to stop eating so much rice though, it makes me so full so fast, but it doesn't fulfill any food cravings...which is really stupid but it's annoying! Haha so I haven't eaten as much rice the past few days and I'm feeling a lot better! I'll be riced out by the time I get home, I just know it. Summer is officially over here! It's now rainy season! So it's still hot, but it'll get cooler more often. Tender Mercy for us Americans haha.

I love you all!!!! And I miss you all every day, but it's not too distracting anymore. Missionary work is fun when you actually work your hardest. Imagine that!

Sister Hogge