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Monday, August 19, 2013

Forget yourself and go to work! 8/11/13

What to focus on this week...I've seen the Lord bless my life more these past few weeks than I have my whole life. I can't believe how much the Lord can do when all you do is show him your desires to be good through your obedience and diligence. The advice President Gordon B. Hinkley got on his mission, as hard as it is, is direct counsel: "Forget yourself and go to work."
This week has been fun. Sister P and I sit in our beds every night and we are always confused how we got there. I feel like we are constantly going to bed, and constantly waking up preparing for another day. That sounds funny, because literally...we are. But the days are just flying right now. And it's all both of us can do to just reach out and try to grasp everything the Lord provides us with every day. We work so hard, are so obedient, and just are doing everything we need to with exactness (obviously we're not perfect ALL the time). But when we're really trying, and really working, that is when we see miracles, and receive blessings.
Sister P and I are amazed at the blessings and miracles the Lord has sent our way. I've got a cool experience for you: We tracted down this really poor street this one day as we were early to an appointment and somehow ended up at such a big house that we thought it was a business building. Well, it wasn't. We yelled at it, "Maupay", and this man came out. "Hello who is it?" (Yes...English, so cool). We told him who we were and he let us in, just like that. We started talking to him (all in English), and just getting his background, his interests, his beliefs. It was so unreal to be speaking to a Filipino in perfect english haha. Then somehow, somewhere, we got into the restoration. The moment that we connected all of his beliefs with ours, and shared our special message, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. We recounted the First Vision to him, bore testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and promised him that through his sincere prayers, the Lord would reveal any truth he wanted to know to him. He said, "I have no doubt that what you said is true."
I was shocked. I had no idea what to say or do. Somehow, we ended, and we planned to bring him a Book of Mormon the next day (which we did yesterday). Honestly, I don't know what his real intentions are. If he felt the Spirit, if he is interested in joining. But I do know that the Spirit spoke through me in that lesson, I have no doubt. Even though it was in English, there was no way that through all of his beliefs and thoughts, that I could have connected them with ours so easily, and provided him with further knowledge. I hope and pray he felt that spirit. But even then, it is his job to act.
I am so grateful for that experience. I can literally feel the Lord strengthening me every day, and I can feel my confidence in him increase. Whether it's just leading me down the street, or helping me in a lesson. The language really does come and go. Sometimes I can go off in the language, very choppily, but still...that's a miracle. But other times, I just struggle to find the words. And I am finally okay with that. I've seen the Lord's hand in this work, and I know that if he wants me to speak the language, I will. As long as I have that connection with him, anything is possible.
There's still a lot to learn, obviously. And I look forward to the future, when I struggle again. We struggle now, to be strong enough later, to do it again.
I love you all. I'm so grateful for the love and support of family and friends. It breaks my heart to see so many members of the church here come to church on Sunday's and sit alone. There aren't enough missionaries to sit with every person, and it's SO frustrating!  But I am so grateful for their example, and for their diligence. For going to church, even though they have to go alone. Please don't ever let someone sit alone at church! They are there to feel love, not because they have to be there. So be the one to love them :)
With love from the Philippines always, 
Sister Hogge
Ps. HAPPY LATE ANNIVERSARY TYSON AND KELSEY!  I am such a bad sister. I remembered last week right when we got back to our apartment. I love you both :)
Pps. On a fun note, I bought a sundang this week (a Machete!!!) One of our "kind of investigators" made it for me, carved the case and everything. Dude, it's legit. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Oh the Trials 7/28/13

Hmmm...  every other week!  Can any of you returned missionaries relate to this spiritual emotional, situational rollercoater?  I have to say that as a mother I find Katie's honesty refreshing, but difficult at the same time.  I'm so proud of her determination to finish the course, even when it's so hard.  The language will come eventually, but the amazing growth has already come in her recognition of her dependence on her Heavenly Father and her Savior.  So thankful for this girl and all the amazing things I learn through her example!  ~Linda

In the MTC, Mandy (Katie's cousin who served her mission in Peru) told me of how she felt on the mission when she wanted to go home. Maybe there are a lot harder times to come, but I have never felt so discouraged in my life as I did this week. 
This has been probably the hardest week of my life, and that may sound dramatic, but I've never felt so incapable, so alone, so unmotivated, so down and so ready to give up in my life. Sister P. is heaven sent. She's let me break down to her every day, always having amazing, inspired advice. I tried so hard, and at times still do, to ignore it. Giving up is so much easier, and i feel like I'd be so much more helpful and happier at home. I'm so unhappy and stressed here that I am not myself, at all. It's embarrassing some days. And obviously I'm not the best faker, at hiding my true feelings haha. I can't even be fake in an email home.
This week, grabe, was hard. I was excited when Sister P. got here. Then we got to work. As you know, we switched areas with the Elders, so I know a few of the people here, and we always went shopping here, so it wasn't too unfamiliar. But I don't know where anyone lives, I still don't know Waray Waray super well (and Sis. P. speaks Cebuano), and neither of us are very confident in all the things you're supposed to know being a missionary. There's so much that we need to know that we both feel like our trainers just did themselves. Diri maupay, Dili maayo, Hindi mabuti (there's 3 languages for you haha). It's not good. So anyways, I'm leading this area on very little knowledge and a lot of pressure. She still doesn't know the area too well, so she looks to me a lot of the time. And honestly, I have no idea how to share the load. There's just so much to do and know (Forms, information for meetings, people's information, where their houses are, requirements for reactivity and baptism). The list goes on. Basta, it stresses me out, and Saturday night I gave everything over to the Lord, I was done. I couldn't do it alone, and I was stressing myself out trying. I prayed and and fasted to know whether I should go home or not. And I asked, I pleaded, for him to help me if my answer was to stay.
Here are a few things I studied and advice I got from Sister P while I fasted: In one of Mandy's letters to me in the MTC, she said, "You are capable of so much more than you think. In your toughest of times, the Lord humbles you and shows you your weaknesses and then as you endure through those times, he will turn those weaknesses into strengths". That is explained so clearly in Ether 12. I know that scripture, yet I feel like a lot of us, especially me, doubt that it applies to us. Sis. P. told me that in our life we have a backpack. We pick up rocks here and there and put them in our backpacks. Eventually we run out of room. Sometimes we toss the rocks out, so they don't burden us anymore. Sometimes we get used to them, don't mind them too much, so we decide to keep them. Those rocks are our weaknesses and trials. On a mission, we are given a much smaller backpack. We literally have no room or time to carry all of those rocks around with us. There's so much more I need to fill my backpack with. So why would I keep all my rocks? We are given the opportunity to TOSS them! The Lord will gladly take them from us. The hard part is knowing how to give them up. How do I give up the little things about myself that never held me back before, but suddenly are stopping my progression?
At home, I always got what I wanted. If I wasn't good at something, then I would just stop doing it. You don't really enjoy things you're not good at right? Well that's not an option here. I'm not good at the language, I'm not good at teaching, and I don't like not knowing whats going on when people are talking. But I can't give up here. It's not an option anymore. Going home is an option, and if you are all okay with me coming home, I'd hop on the next flight haha. But what would that do? I'd be the same, if not worse, than what I was before I left. It's like choir! When Hebert (her beloved high school choir teacher) would play the piano, and not play the last note haha. It's so annoying huh? He thought it was so funny, and it kind of is haha. But it's like working so hard on a song, like "Sleep" (all my Vocal friends know :) ), and just quitting half way because we weren't good at it and it was getting harder. Finishing and performing that song was so rewarding, because of how hard it was and how much time we spent on it. 
So my point, I've never been expected to do anything this hard before, so of course it's going to be hard. But like Alma and Amulek in the Book of Mormon, Alma was kicked out of the city he was preaching in, but an angel told him to go back? He was probably thinking, "Why and how? They're just going to kick me out again. What's the point?" But He went back, and he found another way into the city, and he found Amulek, who lived in the city and who was prepared for him, to help him (If you want to know about the rest of the story, read Alma 8-in The Book of Mormon, because it's really a good book ;) ). And Moses, who was told that he would deliver the people out of Egypt, but saw no way to do that with Pharaoh in the way. But eventually, the Lord parted the Red Sea so his people could cross the waters to safety on dry ground. So many miracles come from continuing. Just like we tell all of our members. Padayun! When you don't know how to keep going, and you want to do good, just continue. Endure. Sometimes, that's all you can do.
I guess this email was more of a pep-talk for me. I bear testimony that the Lord loves us and he wants to help us. I know that He is so sad when he sees me crying and feeling so alone. And he's sad because he's there, comforting me, and I fail to feel him. When we're sad, and when we're ready to give up, that is when the Lord is there, with his arms wrapped around us. What is our purpose here on Earth? Why would our Heavenly Father want us to be sad and miserable? All he wants is for us to be happy, and we find the greatest joy when we aren't focused on ourselves, on our problems. I know that that is why i've been so unhappy. Because I WANT to speak the language. I WANT to understand the people. I WANT to be a good teacher. Those aren't bad desires! But I know, the second I just step out the door, and WANT to serve his children, that all my righteous desires will be given to me. Life takes patience, diligence, faith, and humility. It takes giving ourselves to the Lord fully. It takes time. It can't be mastered all at once. But if we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, then we can have hope that one day we will master everything and all our trials will be taken from us. And I share this, as a servant of our Heavenly Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
With love from the Philippines still, 
Sister Hogge

Manifestations of Love 7/21/13

Definitely an answer to our prayers!!    ;)   ~Linda

Crazy week...none of you will ever believe what's happened.
Sister T got transferred, so I'm still in Borongan! Also...I got a new companion (duh), guess who?? Sister Pettijohn! Sister Lindsay's companion in the MTC! It is SO crazy! So waray follow-up trainer, batch-mates na lang. So now here in Borongan, there are 2 American sisters, who have no idea what's going on. When I found out, I got scared out of my mind. Sister Pettijohn's first area was Cebuano, straight out of the MTC. I know basic cebuano, and the languages are similar, but also...SO different. So right now, I'm leading the area, and kind of getting a feel for how training will be. S. Pettijohn knows no one, even speaks a different language, it's kind of like she's starting over. It's mas marisyo dinhi yena.

Me and Sister P with CJ and J, after their baptism

Manifestations of my Heavenly Father's love for me this week: Heavenly Father answers prayers, because He loves me. Every time I ask him for something in a new companion, he's provided, every time. I just wanted an American companion, so I could communicate with her, and understand her, and work at the American pace, and just have someone to talk to, and oddly as this is...I asked for one who could sing. Random, I know, but I got everything. Sister Pettijohn is from Oregon, she was in my district in the MTC, so we already know and love each other, and she's an amazing singer!!!!!!! I feel so bad, and I feel so needy. I'm always asking Heavenly Father for things, and He's always giving them to me. But it's just proof that I'm not alone, I have NO reason to feel alone, lost, or afraid. But I always seem to feel one of those things at least once a day. The trick I've found, is to just pray to have an experience to get me out of one of those traps. Heavenly Father never fails to help.
Us with Dona C. after her baptism

This weekend was amazing! We had a wedding, and 3 baptisms! I'm pretty sure you remember the family who's little daughter died at the beginning of my first cycle in the field, the Cabacaba's, well...they got married on Saturday, and baptized only an hour later!!! And then 2 boys we've been teaching, who's mom is a member, got baptized. The Cabacaba's are so great, Dona, the mom, has always been really quiet and shy with me. But now that Sister Tumala is gone, she's opened up a lot to me, and is trying her hardest to speak the English she knows. And her and her husband help me with my waray waray. The whole Branch has been amazing! I feel like it's a completely different branch, because now I talk to them, ask them for help, and I'm more myself with them. It's been so good for's kind of like I had to grow up and just talk and try harder. I've been so blessed this week. Things are definitely ten times harder now, but Sister Pettijohn and I talk about it, and work it out, and encourage each other. So I don't feel so alone anymore.
Also, our area got changed. We're now in the city, the Elder's area. President wanted us to switch just to be safe...which is probably better with 2 Americans here now. So it's kind of like we're white washing an area too. So extra prayers could definitely be used right now. I speak the language so much more now than before, it's so fun. Things are improving, and getting harder! Which only means one thing: I'm going to grow even more. 

The new Borongan gang. Us, and our new ZL, Elder C, from American Fork UT. (He's a Pott's twin...he talks just like them, and laughs just like them. It's so weird...I feel like I already know him!)

I know our Heavenly Father loves all of us. I know that despite our times of discouragement, he is always there to help us and build us back up. It's so hard, I know. I experience discouraging moments about every other hour here on the mission, but times like the Cabacaba's wedding and baptism, make EVERYTHING worth it. Especially when they express their deep gratitude for the difference we've made in their life. I honestly don't even know how to describe how rewarding that is. The mission has been so hard for me. Most of the Sister's here were so anxious and excited to serve a mission. So there are times I'm not very motivated to learn the language, or teach, especially when I feel like a failure when I teach or try to speak. But you can't get good at things until you fall, and some people fall more than others. But since I've been able to focus on the little moments, that's when I really see how much I've grown, and the difference I'm making. So recognize the daily miracles, the daily manifestations of love, and like Britt Green told me a few months ago in a letter, look at how much you've accomplished, not how much left you have to do. "If you keep looking forward to tomorrow, you'll have a lot of empty yesterdays".
Like always, thank you for your prayers and support. I love you all. I love you mom. Thank you for everything.
With love from the Philippines,
Sister Hogge

 FHE at the C's house!

The last of the Borongan gang, with Nan F. The day Sister T left.

Haha a few weeks ago, me, sis. b. and sis. l. with our new bags! haha matching matching, purple tripled!

Dona and Paul's whole family, and us :) after the wedding!

Damo mga pictures ini semana! Enjoy! 

Love from the Philippines,

Sister Hogge