Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hermana Hoj says "LOOK"!

Querido familia que yo amo mucho,
Every week there is so much that happens and I just don't even know what to tell you! I'm attempting to organize it all in my head, but just work with me here if it gets super scattered.

So for your questions. On Halloween we have to be in our apartments by 6:30 for safety reasons and what not. We're going to a member's house for dinner that night and then we'll just head back and study or write in our journals or things like that. I did get to go to a Halloween party this past week though! I went on exchanges and went to another area. One of their members holds a party every year so we got to help run booths and games for the kids. It was a lot of fun and so great to see all the kids dressed up! Super cute. And yes, you are right about Texas being part of the bible belt. There are so many churches everywhere and a lot of them are massive! Chicken is also huge here. Chicken restaurants are everywhere you look! And, to prove both of these points...there is even a restaurant called Church's Chicken. So that pretty much sums up Texas for ya! haha There are so many religious people here which is awesome because everyone is willing to talk about God, but also a lot of people say they're already set in their own religion. But that is one thing that is so cool about being on a mission. You get to know people on a completely different level than you would if you were just in a regular conversation with them. So that's awesome!

So far we have found most of our investigators through knocking and past investigators. We're working with our ward right now on getting them more involved in the work, but it just takes time, and therefore a lot of patience. That is definitely one thing that I have had to work on a lot while being out on the mission is my patience. We just want things to happen in our time...right here, right now. We've got to remember that we're on the Lord's schedule, and everything will happen in His time. So patience. Yes I am working on that a lot right now with the language, teaching, people, etc. It's good for me! We have been visiting a lot of members and less actives as well to help create that unity that we need. We found 4 or 5 new investigators this week, so I am really excited to get working with them. 3 of them are from one family and I am so so excited to continue teaching them. They are incredible. We had been teaching the mom for a little bit, but we went over one day and started talking with her daughters too. One of her daughters has 3 kids, and her husband passed away about a year ago. She has been really confused about what to believe about life after death and what her husband is going through right now. A perfect opportunity for us to teach them the Plan of Salvation! Wow, wow, wow. One of the best experiences I've had on my mission so far! As we explained this to them, their faces all lit up with hope. A hope that this is true and that it's not the end. She said she really likes this, and it's different than what they've heard before. This plan is for us to be happy! It brings us hope! Ah I don't even know how to explain it. The Spirit was so strong. We asked them to pray that night to know that the plan was true. I'm excited to talk to them again to know what they've been feeling. One thing that I found so amazing though, was how my testimony of the Plan of Salvation and God's love grew. There is hope for everyone! I feel so blessed to have this knowledge and to share it with others.

I already mentioned how I went on exchanges this week, and I want to tell you a miracle story from this too. I went to the Oakcrest area with Hna. Glauser. We went knocking for a little while and the coolest knocking experience I have had yet happened. It was honestly one of those "meant to be experiences." We knocked on a door and a young man (probably in his 20s) answered the door with a cigarette in his hand, and then his mom followed him to the door. I thought they were going to tell us "thanks, but no thanks" because they did not seem at all interested. We kept asking them questions and continued to bear our testimonies to them. We found out that her mother had recently passed away and they were going through a hard time. We asked if we could leave with a prayer and they accepted. After the prayer the man went inside but the mom stayed and talked with us for a few more minutes. She started telling us how she had just made a really difficult phonecall, but didn't elaborate past that. But then she just broke down in tears. She started thanking us multiple times and telling us how much it meant to her that we had stopped by. So, I don't know exactly how, but I think that in some way we were an answer to her prayers. I have so many more stories that I could tell you, but I just don't have enough time. But I want you all to know that I know the Lord is mindful of each and every one of us. He puts us in people's paths so that we can become better and stronger together. I can't even tell you how many times we have had appointments planned that have fallen through, but then we see miracles that would have never happened had the appointment worked out. The Lord knows what is best!!

And this is my last thing for you today. Today I read in 1 Nephi 11 after praying to know of the love of God and to have a better understanding of it. (All of you should take the time to read this. Seriously though. I mean it.) Wow, were my prayers answered. As I was reading I recognized how many times the Spirit tells Nephi to "Look!" It's simple--I need to do that too. The Spirit is telling me to look. There is evidence of God's love surrounding us. We can't get away from it. We can choose to ignore it, but why deny that love? So rather, look. Look and behold the marvelous love that God has for YOU. Because it is there. The love of God "is the most desirable above all things," "and the most joyous to the soul." (vs. 22-23) Why, why would you choose to not have that in your life? Don't you want that joy? It is the words of God that lead us to this everlasting love. Nephi bears witness of Christ ministering to, healing, and teaching the people--giving them God's word. But, people still chose to reject Him and His words. How can you do that when all He did was serve you and your people? Nephi saw these people judge Christ and watched them lift Christ upon the cross. He witnessed the crucifixion and death of the Savior of the world. I cannot even comprehend watching that. In 32 and 33 it says:

"And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son fo the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.

And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world."

My eyes tear up and my heart aches each time I read those scriptures. I literally had tears pouring from my eyes this morning as I read and understood more of the love that the Savior has for me. So, why reject Jesus Christ? Why reject the perfect and infinite love that is given to us, that surrounds us, that is more desirable above all else and will fill us with the most joy? Accept the love that God has for you, and show your love to Him in return. Feast upon the words of God because they will lead you to feel of their love. And listen to the voice of the Spirit. Look! And marvel at the love that you are surrounded by. I cannot begin to express even a portion of the gratitude that I have for my Savior. As I put myself in Nephi's shoes and imagined myself watching the Savior die for the sins of the world, I wanted to sit there and sob. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to witness that. I think about what we must have been feeling as we looked down on Him from above--us being the cause of His suffering. His love is perfect, and it is infinite. I am so grateful that I was able to recognize that this morning and that the Spirit answered my prayers. I am going to try really hard this week to LOOK! and see all the things around me that are evidence of His love. And I challenge you to do the same. May we all recognize the love the Savior has for us and choose to love others in the same way. So I want you to know that I love you all, and I hope that you can feel of my love for you every day.

Con amor,

Hermana Hoj

                                         Hermanas Hoj and Driesel

                                  The Hermanas enjoying some Arroz con leche
                                  compliments of Hermana Salgado

             Hermana Hoj and two of Hermana Driesel's former companions

                      The husband of one of the recent converts.
                      One of the kindest men I know!                          

                A street we visit often that floods every time it rains!



Monday, October 21, 2013

Howdy Ya'll!

Hello to my favorite family in all the world!
How are things with all of you? I was so excited to get to write and hear from you today, I look forward to it more and more every week!  
Tell Anne and Hannah thanks for the recipes and pictures, and also Karin for the card and picture! I've got them hanging up on my wall! And for things to put up, yeah I like quotes, but I want more pictures of my family!! I miss you guys and want to see your faces! Love your face! Right? I could look at that every day and say that to each of your faces. That would be ideal. Oh and guess what? I bought shoes today! They have a DSW right nearby and I was able to find a pair of flats that go up the back of my ankle so nothing is pushing into it! Yay! I am slightly normal again! The sandals I have are starting to fall apart so I went and got these ones. Anyways...it's been a crazy week. So awesome, amazing, tiring, hard, and all around great. That's what a mission should be right? Here goes.
So I had my first exchanges this week! Hna. Driesel is the sister training leader, so I get to go on exchanges every week! It'll be good for me to get to know other Hnas and learn from them. I went to Louetta this week with Hna. Hale and she is so great. We had a full day of appointments, then all of them fell through. That seemed to actually happen a lot this week, but the Lord knows what he is doing. So we ended up doing a lot of tracting. This was a great experience, and I've got a great story to tell you about this. So we started talking to this one guy who is Muslim. We're over here testifying about Jesus Christ and how He is our Savior, when Muslims believe Christ was only a prophet. (I think) He definitely had some strong opinions on this one. We asked him his name and he said this...hahaha I laugh so hard just thinking about it. Ahmreel. Ahmreelmad. I thought he was getting really heated and mad at us for talking to him about Jesus Christ and I was so scared that he was going to start yelling at us and order us to leave. I mean he just told us his name was "I'm real mad." Then he went on to explain that his mom was mad at his father so she named him Ahmreel mad. I don't know how you spell it but I was sooo confused. But such a funny story!! I can't explain it super well though...maybe it's just one of those things where you had to be there for it to be funny.
On Thursday we got to go to the temple!! The Houston Temple is absolutely beautiful, and I really like being able to hear it in English again. My understanding went way up. Words cannot explain how much I love the temple. It is so beautiful!! There are also giant giant houses around the temple that blow my mind. Oh and before I forget, Mom there is this one neighborhood here that we went to go eat at a members house and it is so beautiful. There's this one house...just wow. I'll take pictures next time and send it to you. After the temple we got to go to St. Luke's hospital and help a woman there learn English, and that was a really cool experience. We get to just talk with her and help her, and sometimes that's the best kind of service is just listening.
Now onto the other things. We have seen SO MANY MIRACLES. It is incredible how mindful the Lord is of us. We've had some really great lessons this week and some really great finds too. So we went to this one area that we had multiple appointments set up in and they all fell through. The people weren't home or chose to pretend they weren't home...we get that a lot! haha But we were walking on the street and we could turn right or left. The logical way would have been right, but we both felt like we should go left. And thank goodness we did! As we turned we saw one of our investigators, Vanessa, pulling out of her street. She pulled up to us and rolled down her window. She said that her kids weren't home and she didn't know what to do with her time. We jumped on that opportunity and said, "Want us to come visit?" She said yes! So we went over and talked with her and had an AWESOME lesson. We talked a lot about the Atonement, the love of God, and what we can do to feel it in our lives. Boy did we testify! She said she loves that feeling and wishes she could have it all the time and we told her how she can! We invited her to the ward fiesta we were having that night, not really sure if she would come. So that was a miracle. We went to the ward fiesta, and at first no one was there. But, they all just came late. MIRACLES! I am telling you, God is good. We had 2 of our investigators come, and 5 of the recent converts or inactive families that we have been working with came too! This was such a blessing and showed us that our hard work is paying off and we are making a difference. That is one thing I love about Hna. Driesel is that we both have a desire to work work work. We are always trying to make every minute of our day an opportunity to share with others the message we have, and it is paying off! This week is already full of appointments and I am so grateful and feel so blessed to have that. The past two days however, pretty much all of our appointments fell through. We had no idea where we were supposed to be or what we needed to be doing, but the Lord always provides a way for us and I am so grateful for that! He knows the bigger picture, and we just have to let Him work through us. So we made some other visits that made me so happy. There is this one lady in our ward who is bed ridden because of a stroke that left her partially paralyzed. She is incredible, absolutely incredible. We sit and talk with her for a little while, and you know that this trial is hard for her because she'll tear up, but she always says she knows that God has a plan for her. Her faith is one of the strongest I have ever seen. My hope and faith in Christ increase when we visit her. It's one of those things where we go to teach her, and she ends up teaching us! Wow, she is a remarkable woman and I hope that my faith can one day be as great as hers. Yesterday, our appointments also all fell through. We felt that we should go to an area called Conroe and try visiting a less active member up there. Apparentally missionaries have been there multiple times and haven't been able to get in with her. But...we did! She came to the door and talked with us for awhile like we were just her best friends! So that was also a miracle. That's one thing that I learned this week, is that God is a God of miracles.
And one more thing that I have learned this week. I have been a little discouraged at times with my Spanish. My companion is so good at speaking Spanish and at talking with people, so sometimes I don't really have a lot to say. I'll have things come to my mind that I could say, but I'm often worried that it's completely off topic because I misunderstood, or the topic is changed before I can say it. I know I just need to be more bold and confident but it can be hard! Today in my personal study I read a talk from President Uchtdorf (the first presidency message...A Word for the Hesitant Missionary) This was exactly what I needed to hear, and it was perfect! The section titled "Be Filled With Faith" is what really made an impact. I read this and found instant peace and comfort.
"Conversion comes not through our words but through the heavenly ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes all it takes is one single phrase of our testimony or about an experience to set in motion the softening of a heart or the opening of a door that can lead others to experience sublime truths through the promptings of the Spirit...Brothers and sisters, have faith. The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn’t ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit."
When I read this I just wanted to cry and give thanks to the Lord for helping make me, with all my flaws and weaknesses, measure up to what has been asked of me. I know that with Him, I can do this! I'm going to be trying a lot harder to make more comments and have faith that the Lord will help those I'm speaking to hear what they need to hear. After all, it's our sincerity and love, and the Spirit that can change a person, not merely our words. I want you to know that I do have faith that the Lord can make this happen and that He is ever mindful of me. I cannot see why I was sent here or the person that I am capable of becoming, but He can. That is all that matters. Then, if I put my faith and my trust in Him, He will help me turn into that person more and more every day. Words just cannot express the love that I have for the gospel and for my Savior Jesus Christ. My heart is so full of love and gratitude, and I want to express this through the way that I live. Being a missionary helps me see so much more than I could have ever seen before, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I have to serve.
I love you and miss you all more than you could know, but I know I'm doing what I am supposed to be doing at this time. Have an incredible week!!!
Con amor,
Hermana Hoj

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Finally a real Hola from Houston!


First of all this is my new address, before I forget:
Hermana Annie Hoj
26325 Northgate Crossing Boulevard #1621
Spring, TX 77373

So much has happened that I will try to get you caught up on, but there is no possible way to tell you all of it. You'd be sitting at the computer reading for days! haha So to first answer all ya'lls questions (and yes I have the authority to use ya'll all I want now!)

So with the airport. We didn't know what the rules were about calling so we went to ask the MTC president's wife and she told us that it's one of those kind of myth things that people do, but she told us we weren't supposed to. So I'm sorry I didn't get to call, but I was trying to be as obedient as I could be. I wouldn't have really had time to call anyways if that makes you feel any better. So I will see you all on Christmas Day! Can't wait. And that picture was sent from Sister Pingree's phone. Cute huh? I sure do love the Pingrees so much! I can already tell they will be the best mission presidents that I could have ever asked for. My achilles is finally starting to feel better, and yes I got the shoes and they are working perfectly. The sandals work because it zips up the back and doesn't put pressure on where it hurts. Since it was feeling better I decided to try exercising and I rode 10 miles on the bike this morning! Whoop whoop! It feels so good to finally sweat again! And it's not hurting so I hope I can ease my way back into it. I called the doctor's office and they can't get me in until the 28th so we'll see how it's feeling by then and see if I still need to see him by that point. So I hope that it continues to heal! Hannah, thanks for taking care of my little sister for me, there's no one else I'd rather have doing that for me. You are the best. Wow...where to begin. Here goes.

We got to the Houston airport to be greeted by President and Sister Pingree and the two AP's. There were about 35 people coming in I think, and Hna. Hill and I were the only Spanish sisters! When we got here we went to a church building to have a snack and went over some training things. Then we had dinner and boy was it good! It's good to have some more familiar foods again. We met a lot of the other adults that help manage the mission and they are all so great. Then I saw the Pingree kids too! That was so exciting and so happy. I just feel so darn lucky to have them here!! I was able to stay the night at the President's house with some other sisters and then we had breakfast with all of the new missionaries the next morning. Then we went to the church again to meet our new companions. President Pingree would call the trainer up, have them explain their area, then announce who the new companion was. I was second to last so I was so anxious throughout the whole thing! My new companion is Hermana Driesel. I LOVE HER! She is from Kuna, Idaho and is absolutely adorable. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer. She has been out for almost a year and her Spanish is good. So much better than mine. That is probably the hardest thing about the mission for me right now. The language is a beast. haha But I'm learning a whole lot and I just have to keep practicing. We have a lot of opportunities to speak Spanish so I can definitely practice! I can understand most of what's going on, but I have some problems speaking in Spanish. Especially small talk because my vocabulary is very limited to gospel terms. So yes, I wish I could understand and talk with people a lot better but it just comes with time. My patience will be very tested over the next little while. Anyways, back to my companion. She has trained 5 times so I am in good hands. She is so sweet, diligent, and obedient. I am very grateful for that! Oh and I have been put in the Woodlands North Area! I love it in Houston already. The weather has been nice, it is definitely more humid--but not unbearable--and it has rained multiple times already. So after we were assigned our companions we took my stuff back to the apartment. We are so blessed! They are great apartments. We have a gym here so that's nice, and also in the main building they always have cookies for anyone so that's great too! I love being able to make my own food though. We're going grocery shopping today and I'm so excited to get lots of awesome food! Anyways, sorry this is all over the place. After we got to the apartment we left and got right to work! So much happens everyday that I barely remember what happened yesterday. And here is my miracle story for the week. We had an appointment with an investigator, and my very first appointment fell through. But the Lord is mindful of us and always has His hand in this work. We went to go see a referral that some other missionaries had given us that were in the same apartment complex. We knocked on the door and a man answered but the person we were looking for didn't live there. We gave him a card, and his friend came to the door asking if he could have one too. His name is Thomas. He came outside and talked to us for a little while and he agrees with everything that we taught him. We tried to set an appointment with him but he is super busy with work. He said that he would call us if he ever had time to talk. And this is where it gets crazy. He called us! I mean, when does that ever happen? So we taught him all about our purpose as missionaries and the restoration. So I hope that we can continue to progress with him.

So I have been here about 5 days? Yeah I've already had dinner with 5 families. And get this, so cool. We get to have dinner with a Pakistani couple every week. They don't really speak English except for hellos and thank yous (the husband can speak a little bit more), and we can't speak Ordu but it's still such a cool experience! You can feel the love in the room even though we can't express our feelings through words. They are great, and the food is too! Then we had two dinners yesterday and boy that was not fun being that full. Hence the 10 miles on the bike this morning. haha but the members here are so awesome and even though I can't communicate with them very well, their support and spirits give me lots of hope. Church was great! I'm pretty sure it was in the refrigerated section of Costco though. Holy cow talk about it being fresco! Good thing I brought my rain coat. I didn't understand a lot, but I met so many people and they are all so so awesome! Even though I am testifying and talking about God every day, Sundays still have a special little something added to them. We also had an investigator at church yesterday, and two less active members too! I really hope we can get them to keep coming. Yesterday we visited with members and there was one family we visited that are so incredible, the Reyes. I could just feel their love for the Savior and missionary work. We all had a bit of an emotional conversation, and don't worry we are being well taken care of here. Even though I don't get to be with you all at home, I still feel the same love and support here and that is something I am so grateful for. I am so blessed to be sharing this gospel and bringing that joy into other people's lives. I am learning so much, and my relationship with the Savior grows more each day. We pray so much here! I love it. But I love the gospel and the chance I have to share it. I know that it is true and I am so grateful that I can recognize the Lord's hand in my life. I will leave you with these three words. GOD IS GOOD. Love you all and hope all is well with you at home! Thank you for your love and support!

Con muchisisisisismo amor,

Hermana Hoj
                                                          Jesus Lane in Houston
                                                          A Texas Sunset
Hermana Hoj & Hermana Driesel

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Houston Here I Come!

Mi familia bonita!
Well, the time has come and I am headed to Houston soon! Whoo! I have to be up at 2:30 this morning to get ready to go, so who knows if I will even sleep tonight. But right now I am kinda a lone wolf here at the CCM. Hna. Smith left at two this morning and every other girl that was in my casa is also gone. So I am a companion with Hna. Hill right now, she is the only other girl going with me to my mission. So I am very glad I at least have her! Then there are only two other Elders left in my district that leave with us tonight too. It's so weird, and now that everyone is gone I am more than ready to go. Maybe not with my Spanish, but I hope that will come with time!

Okay, Conferencia general. WOW! I mean really? My saying for this week is GOD IS GOOD. I cannot even tell you how many times I have said that this week.  Anyways, conference. I don't even know where to begin. We watch it all together in the auditorium over a broadcast. Mom, the Relief Society Broadcast. I have an experience I want to share with you. You were right, President Monson's talk was so sweet and it is clear the love he has for his wife. As he was speaking, I just kept thinking about Grandma Peterson. Her name came into my head over and over again and I felt so loved. I know that I felt of her presence there with me as I was watching that and I know that she is an incredible woman even though I do not know her personally. I know she is in the details of our lives even if we don't recognize it. She loves us so much. I know I never was able to know that while she was here, but I promise you that she does. I felt of her love that night.

The words that came from every speakers mouth were so incredibly inspired. They truly are God's messengers. Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today, I know it. The Spirit testified of this to me every time I heard him speak. It is so amazing to watch conference with the perspective of a missionary. The whole time I was thinking about investigators who had problems with certain things and how perfectly the messages could relate to them. For any missionary that had invesigators watching with them, President Uchtdorf's talk...GOLD. Honestly so incredible. I love how he said, we are all hypocrites. None of us are as perfect as we could be, but what makes the difference is that we have desires to be better, repent of our sins, and come unto Christ through His perfect atonement. How many times did he say, "Come, join with us" or "There is room for you here." I think that is exactly what the Lord would be saying to the people if He were here, and it is exactly what we, in His behalf, need to be doing. This is what stuck out the very most to me this conference. INVITATIONS. Wow. I can't even number the talks that mentioned Christ's invitation to "Come unto me," "Come follow me," "Come now," "Come unto Christ," "Draw near unto me and I shall draw near unto you," etc. I think you get the idea. Christ has His arms open for all and He will embrace us. We just have to heed His invitation "Come unto me." It's not just something for the Lord to do, we also have to do our part. Christ invites us to come unto him, the prophets have invited us to invite others to come to Christ. That is what we must do. Invite, invite, invite! It's not our invitation, it is the Lord's. He needs our help to bring people to Him so that they can feel of His love. I realized this week something about the Savior's love. 1. We have to recognize the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us. It is perfect and infinite. 2. We in return have to love God and Jesus Christ. 3. We must love others. It is not until we recognize the love that the Savior has for us that we can love others with a love as powerful as His. He sets the perfect example for us, and now He invites us to do the same. It is our choice, but how happy He will be--how happy we will be--if we but only accept.  I loved Edward Dube's talk as well...in the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve, but how. It's not what we have done, where we have been, but where we are willing to go. You don't have to be a set apart missionary to take part in this work. This is the Lord's work and He will make it work. GOD IS GOOD.

Sunday was probably the best day I have had at the CCM, and what a way to end it. This weekend filled with conference and what I am about to tell you has made my top moments here. After conference on Sunday we began to pack because they fumigated our casas on Monday for bugs, so we had to get a bit of a head start. Oh and a little bit of a background story...we watch a church movie every Sunday night here and Hna. Pack and I really wanted to watch The Testaments last week before we left. And we honestly prayed for it. Then we get to the movie and it was not the Testaments. We weren't upset, we just really wanted to watch it! haha Then this Sunday we go to watch the movie and I'm just talking to people in my district and Hna. Pack says "Hna. Hoj. Look up at the screen. Look what's up there." Lo and behold I see the words THE TESTAMENT. GOD IS GOOD. That was something so little but it meant so much to me. The Lord is so mindful of us and truly wants us to be happy. Watching that after being so spiritually uplifted from conference, well watching that anytime, I lost it. The Spirit overtook me and the gratitude I have for my Savior swelled inside of me. I love Him and I truly truly desire to do all I can to become like Him. It is so difficult and it takes so much work but I know that God will help us be better if we ask for His help.

After the movie we went back to our classroom and the Elders in our district gave everyone Priesthood blessings. To echo what I said last week, I am so grateful for the power of the Priesthood, and I am so happy that all those Elders are worthy to bless us. When one Elder was giving a blessing a scripture came to my mind, it goes something like where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. I could have sworn that if I opened my eyes at that moment, the room would have been filled with angels and the Savior Himself. The Spirit was so remarkable and no one could deny it's presence there. Tears were streaming as we sung for the last time Nearer My God to Thee and God Be With You Till We Meet Again in Spanish. I never thought it would be so hard saying goodbye to these people, but they have become my family here and I love all of them so much. It was so hard thinking that would be the last time I would be with these people, but there was no better way to end it. GOD IS GOOD.

I am so blessed and so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary and to have spent six weeks in the Mexico CCM. I know I was meant to be here at this time for a reason. I am so lucky to get to go to Houston Texas and I hope that I can be humble enough to let the Lord work through me to accomplish His work. I am so grateful that I have the next 17 months to focus on the Savior and recognize His hand in my life and how He blesses others. He works miracles every day, and if we look for them we will be blown away by the love He has for us. I challenge you all to think every day about how the Savior blesses your life. Everyone, if they are willing, can recognize this. And I challenge you all to invite others to come unto Christ, and accept His invitation yourself. Come unto Christ. GOD IS GOOD.

Les amo!!

Hermana Hoj


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Countdown to Houston has begun!

¡Buenas tardes mi familia!

First of all, wow. Wow I am in my final week here at the CCM. Where did the time go? I am so excited to go out to the mission field and get to Houston, but I'm also going to be really sad to leave all of the incredible people that I've met here. I have had such an awesome experience here and feel so lucky to have experienced the MTC in Mexico. I love it here! I will always hold this place close to my heart!
As for my flight plans, if it's still the same as what they sent me with my other itinerary I leave on Wednesday morning at 7:30 fly to Dallas and then get to Houston around 1:30. And I don't think we're allowed to call from the airport, so unfortunately don't be expecting a call. To Ruby and Sarah, CONGRATS!! I am so excited for them. Which MTC's do they go to and when do they leave? Tell Ruby I love Mexico, even though I'm not where she will be, and to be so excited! And Sarah is going to the same mission that Doug Wirthlin is in! So I told him to look for her in a few months. And to Janie, congrats as well! I'm so excited for her and so sad that I don't get to be there!
Okay, onto the other stuff. This week has been a good one, I think my whole district has really gotten to work this past week. It's starting to hit us all that we're leaving. It's so weird and so sad, but so awesome all at the same time. We went to the temple for our last time today, and I am so grateful for the holiness and beauty that is always there. We are so blessed to have temples! I really love my district so much and am so grateful for their examples to me, We've all become such good friends despite all the stress that can build up. When you help each other you get a lot closer than you'd ever imagine. Hermana Smith and I taught our district lesson on Sunday, and I think it went really well. We talked about the Restoration, but we wanted to find a way to apply it to our own lives. At one point we started talking about the priesthood and I was so overcome with gratitude and with the Spirit. I don't think that I've ever expressed my gratitude to all the priesthood holders that are involved in my life. Because of the priesthood I was able to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I get to renew those covenants each week when I take the sacrament that is blessed by the priesthood authority. I have been able to receive countless blessings of comfort and help. And before I got here, I was able to be set apart by the priesthood authority. Set apart by my dad, both of my brothers, and my grandpas--that meant the world to me! I had so many of the people I love get to take part and that and I am forever grateful. So thank you to all you priesthood holders, I'm sorry for the lack of gratitude I've shown to you. Even though I don't personally possess the priesthood, it affects me and blesses me greatly. Always strive to live worthy of that blessing and honor it every day that you live. On Sunday I was also able to bear my testimony in Spanish, and again I was filled with gratitude for all that I have been able to learn and accomplish here. Sundays here are my favorite day, they are so jam packed with the spirit. This next week will be amazing with general conference! There is no better way to finish my time here at the CCM applying what I've learned. It's like the exclamation point to my stay at the CCM! And we haven't watched the Relief Society broadcast yet, we're going to watch it at the same time that the Elders watch priesthood, so I am excited about that! I'm excited to talk to you all about conference this coming week! You should all send me what you liked the best from it, and I am sure I will do the same. Oh, and it's also like 4 different people's half birthdays this weekend, including mine, so we're going to throw ourselves a party! Which mainly includes listening to General Conference and eating Chokies (chocolate chip cookies that they sell at la tienda aqui). So that will be fun! haha On Sunday night for our district spiritual thought we went out to the track and looked at all of the city lights, sung A Child's Prayer, and had our spiritual thought. It was so great and so beautiful! I wish I had pictures to show you how beautiful it is at night! I'll see if anyone else has any another time. So basically my district is the best. I love them! Dad, thank you for your advice and thoughts on those questions. I absolutely love the point you made about the atonement. Where you basically said that we're not going to have the answer to a lot of questions, but the most important thing is to live in a way to understand and believe in the Atonement. Even if we can't know for certain, the most important thing is to have faith in knowing that God knows and one day, we can know too. We just have to put our complete faith and trust in them and everything will be okay. I have learned so so much this week about faith. I finished the Book of Mormon yesterday, and faith and God's love is what really stood out to me this time I read it. I see the story of faith in Alma 32, the faith that the brother of Jared had, Ammon's faith, Moroni's faith, the faith of Helaman's army. And it doesn't even come close to finishing there. I see so many incredible examples of faith in the Book of Mormon and I can't want anything else but that same faith. I don't need to know with a surety that everything about the gospel is true. As long as I have faith and believe it, that's enough for me. I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true. I have prayed about it several times, pouring my heart out to the Lord, and in return my heart has been filled with His love. I know with a surety that it is true. I have never felt so much love from the Lord than when His Spirit testifies this truth to me. So Mom, I also was reading the last chapter of Moroni yesterday, and also spent a lot of time focusing on verse 32. We don't have to come to Christ as a perfect person. He never asked that of us. He simply asks us to turn away from ungodliness and love Him. We first have to come to Christ, and THEN we can be perfected in Him. It is only through Christ that we can be made perfect. (If you haven't yet, read the talk His Grace is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox) Then we cannot deny the power of God. That takes me to another one of my favorite verses, Moroni 1:2 and 3 "For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, WILL NOT DENY THE CHRIST; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." If that isn't faith, I don't know what is. I am overwhelmed by the faith and love that they have for Christ and hope that I am able to express the same with that much power one day. I love this gospel, I know that it is true and my life has been so inredibly blessed by it.

Yo se que Jesucristo es mi salvador, y que sufrio por nuestros pecados. Yo se que el Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios. Estoy muy agradecido por el CCM y por la oportunidad tuve a aprender mas aqui. Yo se que vive mi SeƱor y estoy muy agradecido por la expiacion. Yo se que sin Jesucristo no podemos volver a Dios otra vez. Me encanta las escrituras y las palabras de los profetas. ¡Yo se que el evangelio es verdadero! (sorry it's not perfect Spanish and I can't get the accents to work on the keyboard)
Love you all so much and have a wonderful week! I look forward to hearing from you again! LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Hoj