Monday, December 29, 2014

The New Year! What awaits us?!

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Christmastime, Texas Style!

Hola mi familia!! Feliz Navidad!!!
I was recruited to be the angel in the ward nativity . . .
Gotta love my "ramen" wig

Can you believe that it's already that time of the year? It's hard for me to believe it...especially since for Christmas we'll have weather in the upper 60's. haha Definitely not something I'm used to, except I guess you don't have snow either, huh? 
Ward Christmas party with the Ward mission leader
I don't have a whole lot of time today, so I just wanted to share a miracle from the week and then my testimony as well. 

We went to visit a potential investigator that we had, D, and she was so excited that we came over. We watched the He is the Gift video with her, and no more than 10 seconds into it she said "Just by what I've seen, I already know that what this is saying is true." She felt the Spirit, and more importantly--she recognized it too! She is so incredible! She also came to our ward Christmas party with her 2 kids and we gave her a church tour as well. She is really wanting to learn more about the church and what we believe. She is searching for the truth, and at this time of her life, I know that she is ready to accept it. She recently separated from her husband and is trying to get back into church again. She is truly amazing and is so excited to keep learning, and we are excited to help her find more peace and joy in her life!
Missionary conference with Pres. & Sis. Mortensen and family

There is something so special about Christmas as a missionary. The things of the world become less and less important, and the only desire that you have is to show God your appreciation for His gift to us by sharing the gospel with others. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to have two Christmases as a missionary (even though I miss you all), I know I will always remember them. It's so amazing how your Christmas as a missionary truly does make you focus on the real reason behind the celebration. I've been thinking a lot about how lucky I am to be a member of this church and to have the knowledge that I have. Even more so to have the opportunity to share that message with others. I am so so very grateful for Heavenly Father--that He was willing to send His Son to the earth to atone for our sins. I am so very grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His willingness to descend from His heavenly throne to a lowly stable. He has set the perfect example for us and has provided the only way for us to return back to our Heavenly Father. Everything is made possible because of Him, He is the Gift.

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Cor. 9:15

I love you all so much and look forward to seeing you on Thursday! Merry Christmas, and share your testimony of why you celebrate Christmas with someone. I LOVE YOU!!!!

love love love love love
Hermana Hoj

Monday, December 15, 2014

White Christmas!

Hola hola !

What a miracle filled week we have had. I'm going to start of with one of the main highlights from the week, being.....
Oh my goodness, it was one of the most spiritual moments that I have ever had. President Mortensen gave me permission to go back to Huntsville to see her baptism, and I am so very grateful for that. Ah. It was such a beautiful experience, one that has been ingrained into my mind and my heart forever. L has gone through so many trials, and she has stayed faithful through them all. I think that Satan knows the potential she has and was doing everything that he could to stop her path of progression, but with the incredible faith that she has in the Lord, she was able to overcome all of her trials and temptations. I cannot even come close to explaining the feelings that filled me as I watched her be baptized. It's just not possible. I think that those feelings are something so special, that we cannot describe them sufficiently while we are on the earth. She stepped out of the font with tears streaming down her face, and it was evident that she was filled with the Spirit. I gave her a towel and she looked at me and I asked her how she felt...she was all choked up and said, "I am so happy. I have been waiting for this for so long." At the end of the baptism she got up and shared her testimony, and that's when the tears really started falling from my eyes. I was so touched by the Spirit and I couldn't help but cry tears of joy. I love her so much, and to be able to have finally witnessed what she has been working so hard to get to was one of the most touching experiences of my life. She is amazing.
Some other miracles from this week...
We have two new investigators! One is C, he is 19 years old and has such a strong desire to learn. We were talking to him and he asked us "What do you do when you start to lack faith?" He was telling us how it's easy for him to give up on himself, and we were able to talk to him a lot about faith. We talked about faith as a seed, and also about how God never places limits on us, so we can't place limits on ourselves. If we do, we'll never get to what He knows that we can be.
The other is L. We knocked into her and she told us that we could come back and share a message with her. We asked her how God has played a role in her life and she shared a remarkable story with us. A few years ago, she had a brain tumor--it wasn't cancerous, but it needed to be removed. All of the doctors she went to told her that it was too difficult of a surgery to attempt. Finally, there was one doctor who said he would do it. It was the same doctor who had operated on Kennedy. During the surgery she said that she died for a few moments--she doesn't remember everything that she saw, but she remembers seeing her grandparents and hearing God's voice. It wasn't her time to die yet, and she came back. It was so cool to hear that experience from her! I am so so excited to teach her the Plan of Salvation, I know that there will be things that will be ever so familiar to her as we talk about it. THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!

                               Hermanas Saenz, Hoj, and Hammar
So, that's about all that I have time for this week. Solo quiero que ustedes sepan que yo se con todo mi Corazon que el evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero. Yo se que mediante las ensenanzas que recibimos de El, podemos encontrar paz, gozo, y felicidad. Yo se que Dios nos ama y nos conoce perfectamente y que quiere que todos regresen para vivir con El otra vez. Por eso, nos Ha enviado Su hijo unigenito, a redimirnos y salvarnos y ayudarnos encontrar el camino a volver a El.
I love you all so so so so so so much!!!!
Hermana Hoj 

Monday, December 8, 2014

From the Country to the City

Hola !!!
The view from the parking structure at my apartment complex
So I have had a complete change this last week! I went from the northern most part of the mission, to the southern most part. From the country, to the city. I am now in the Heights! It is definitely a big change from where I was, but I already am loving being here! There's a part of our area that's pretty nice, and then the rest of it is pretty ghetto. It's so wonderful! We absolutely love it! So at transfer meeting I found out that I would be companions with Hermana Saenz and that we would be white washing our area! We've got a lot of work to do. I know that the Lord has incredible miracles prepared for this area. Hermana Saenz was born and lived in Mexico for 9 years, and then moved to Chicago and has lived there since. She is a convert to the church, and one of the most amazing missionaries ever! I am so excited to be here with her! But....there's also another surprise. On Thursday morning we got a call at 9:30 from President Mortensen saying "We have a surprise for you, the two of you are going to be training. We need you here in half an hour." Haha we were so excited! It was a big surprise to us too! So Hermana Saenz and I are training a new missionary and her name is Hermana Hammar--she is from Rigby, Idaho and is such a sweetheart! Her Spanish is already really good too--and she's already a great missionary! I know that she is here for a reason. I am already learning a lot from her. She is super wonderful and we are so excited that she is here with us. This week has been really busy. We have been running all over our area trying to get to know it and the members that are here as well. If the members that we planned to visit weren't home, then we would contact and knock doors around them and try to find those who are prepared to accept the gospel! We are working hard, that's for sure! There are 4 Elders in our ward as well and they have been a big help for us too. Needless to say, it was wonderful to go to church on Sunday and meet the ward! I already love them all so much! It was fast and testimony meeting on Sunday, and before the member of the Bishopric finished sharing his testimony, there were already about 15 people on the stand waiting to share theirs. They have big hearts and strong testimonies.
Hermanas Hammar and Saenz in the front
Hermana Hoj squashed between two Elders
Off to serve by shoveling a compost pile!
So yeah, I already love the members. We are fed by them lots and loved by them even more. They are wonderful! I learned how to make really good tortas this week too. :) Yum! We call the Hermana that makes them Hermana Torta because she makes them for us every other week. We also have one investigator from the Hermanas that were here before us who is progressing towards baptism, but she was supposed to have a baby on the 4th and the baby still hasn't come yet, so once her baby is born we'll be able to work more with her! We are really just so so excited to be here. Today during companionship studies we were all talking about what we had studied on our own, and we all were led by the Spirit to study about faith. It was not a coincidence! We took that as the Lord telling us that we need to up our faith and work in unity so that He can bless our area with the miracles He has prepared! We'll be praying and fasting a lot and doing all that we can to witness the miracles of the Lord.
That's about it for this week. We know that there are great things to come!!
Con muchisisisisisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Fond Farewell to Huntsville

Hey y'all!

It sounds like you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Aren't we so very blessed? I just cannot stop thinking about how blessed I am right now. I am so grateful for everything we have, and most importantly, the gospel. To use Jo Ann's words, "It's the best of the best." 
A little Texas hay bale art!

So I'll tell you a little bit about what we did for Thanksgiving! It all starts off with eating way too much. haha We started off the day with G--she is just the sweetest girl. We shared a Thanksgiving message with her and asked her to share with us what she was grateful for. She said something that I love so so much. "I'm grateful for what I have and what I don't have. If I had everything, then I wouldn't be grateful." Wise words for a 17 year old! It definitely made me think, and it is so true. Then the rest of the day we were kind of house hopping. We were invited to eat Thanksgiving dinner/lunch about 4 times, but we had one big dinner that we had to prepare ourselves for that night, so we told them that and had I guess what you would call "tastes" of some of the food that they had. We went to the Shiver's house for our big Thanksgiving dinner and had delicious food! It was all traditional Thanksgiving foods, and my favorite part is always the pumpkin pie. So yummy! We also visited Jo Ann (she was the one that sent y'all the picture of us), Ken and Lori, Brother and Sister was a good day! But the best part of the day was just being able to be with so many people that you just love so much! That's really what it is all about. Of course I missed all of you, but I was being well taken care of here. I'm so so so grateful for the amazing people in my life, and for the opportunity I have had to meet so many amazing people while being on my mission. It makes me just so so happy. I can't ever explain the way I feel!
We had some amazing miracles at church on Sunday...the A family came for the first time! I love that family so much! They are so wonderful and are so prepared to accept the gospel and apply it as a family. They loved church! We also taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that night--you can see in them that they know it is true. It makes me so happy to see the happiness and hope that is brought to them as they learn more about the Savior and His gospel. The next miracle has a little bit of back story. On Saturday afternoon we were going to visit a potential family and when we knocked on their door about 10 people came and answered it. They had family over for the holiday break so we weren't able to meet with them right then. Many of the little kids came out and we gave them pass along cards with pictures of Christ on them. One of the little girls said that she wanted to come to church and asked if we could write on the card. We wrote our phone number and the address of the church on the back of the card. Sunday morning comes and we are greeting the members and investigators that are there for church, and here comes the same 7 year old girl we talked to the day before with her grandma! Her grandma said that J woke her up that morning and she said "Grandma, we need to go to church today!", showed her the little card, and then they got up and came. They stayed for all 3 hours and her Grandma, M, was making so many wonderful comments in the Spanish Sunday School class! It was so amazing that the desire J had to come to church was seen by her grandma and they were able to come. We were so surprised, and so grateful! They really enjoyed it and want to come back again next week.
I will miss these amazing people!
College Station 2 Zone
I am so thankful for my time with Hermana Loo
She is amazing!

This last week truly has been so marvelous for me. I have had many epiphanies this week that have helped me to understand why it was that the Lord sent me here to Huntsville, Texas. And as I recognized that, it's now time for a change. Transfer calls came in last night, and the Lord needs me to go somewhere else now. I am so very grateful for the many incredible opportunities I have had, the miracles I have seen, the people I have met, and the changes that I have made while I have been in Huntsville. I know that it was all for a reason, because I can see the necessity of it all in my own personal life. The Lord knows me so well and He knows exactly what I need, and even if I am not able to see it on my own He helps me put all the pieces together. Once I can see the big picture, He knows that I have more growing to do and that changes are ahead. I will always treasure Huntsville and the experiences I've had and the people I have met here. I am ready and excited for the new change that is ahead for me. This week I learned that I need to have faith in the future, that the Lord has even better things ahead for me. As I came to that realization, I was filled with peace and I know that I am going where the Lord needs me to go and will be doing what He needs me to do. I'm going to end with a quote from Elder Holland.

"The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives." Here I go, wish me luck!

Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj

Monday, November 24, 2014

Counting My Blessings

At Zone Conference - Me & Hermanas Larson, Ordonez, and Loo
Wow, I don't even know where in the world to begin. This week has been full of so many miracles and spiritual moments! I truly feel so grateful to be a missionary. It really hit me this week how incredible this experience is. There is no where else that you could find that! The first part of the week I was on exchanges with Hermana Larson, from Devore California. She has been out for just about a month and is such a sweetheart! She has a powerful testimony and is going to do amazing things on her mission! We had a great miracle with a less active member and her son (who is an investigator) while we were teaching them about the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was SO strong. SOO STRONG. I have never seen either of them open up so much! I think something changed in them, her son told us he felt something that he had never felt before, something that he couldn't explain, but that it felt good. The Spirit was testifying to him! He prayed for us for the first time too! He has never done that before, and it was so amazing! So cool! Then the next day we had Zone Conference. President and Sister Mortensen are so inspiring! We talked about the Plan of Salvation and I learned that I need to do a lot of things to teach it better...haha but it is a work in progress, that's for sure! We role played master teaching the Plan of Salvation, and it was so good for us. It's always really humbling, because you realize how much you can't do on your own. Also, President Mortensen announced some pretty exciting news. You know how for Easter the church did the Because of Him video? Well, for Christmas they are doing a huge campaign for a new initiative called He Is the Gift! It is going to be epic! I don't know if you've already heard about it or not, but the video is amazing! It's going to be big. It will be on the main banner on the YouTube page, and all over billboards in Time Square, there will be pass along cards in all of the Ensigns--it is estimated that 220 million people will see the video!! 220 MILLION PEOPLE!! Then President Mortensen said, "Do you know what this means?...IT'S GO TIME!" I am sooooo excited! What an amazing blessing to be a missionary at this time! AHHH!!! Words cannot do it justice. It is the best! This Christmas season is going to be one of the best!! President challenged all of us to have a baptism in December so that we can give the Lord a white Christmas. How awesome would that be? So many good things are happening!!
Working hard in a downpour

Friday was a very eye-opening day for me. I was hit with an appreciation and gratitude for my mission that I have never felt before. We had a lesson with a young man from Nigeria who practices Messianic Judaism that wanted to learn more about what we believe as Mormons. He didn't want to discredit our beliefs at all, he was just looking for more understanding. We went through the Restoration lesson with him and as we did he would stop us many times and try to teach us things from history or language--like he was trying to make a point. However, every time he did so it always tied back into one of our beliefs. I learned a lot from him actually, and it was never contentious, but my testimony of the gospel and the Book of Mormon were strengthened so much! Seriously it felt like it had been cemented in for good. As we were talking about the Book of Mormon he really wanted proof, archaeological evidence of it. If we did have that kind of proof, there would be no need for faith! For everything he said, the answer was always the Book of Mormon! The Book of Mormon itself is the proof! Something really hit me at that moment. I realized that the proof you are going to find will come from within yourself as you read it and pray to know that it is true. The Spirit will testify the truth of it to you and you will feel that it is right! The proof comes as you apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon to your life. The blessings and peace that come into your life will be proof that it is true. Everyone has their own path to coming to that surety of the truth for themselves. For some people it comes instantly. For others it takes a lot longer. But the Lord is always mindful of us and will always answer us. Matt was there helping us teach him. I was amazed to see him testify with so much power after only 2 months of being a member. It is such a remarkable experience to see how the Spirit has touched his life, and to see how he has changed as a result of it. It is one of the most amazing feelings of joy to see his life so blessed by the gospel. Elder LeBaron showed us what Matt had put on instagram on his 2 month mark--a picture of him with Hna Fletcher, Loo, and I with his testimony of how his life has been blessed by the gospel. I was filled with such remarkable joy and such an overwhelming gratitude for my mission and the gospel. It wasn't because of me that Matt joined the church, he knew for himself that it was true, but I was lucky enough to be involved in his conversion. I think that often we feel like we can't make much of a difference as one person. Today Heavenly Father showed me that even I, with all of my imperfections and weaknesses, can help make a difference in someone else's life. It was such a beautiful experience for me. Like I said, my testimony grew and grew. 
At the Mission President's Fireside
Me, Krystin (one of our fabulous YSA's)
Sisters Hassell, Lambright, & Hermana Loo
On Sunday, we had the Mission President's Fireside in College Station. Another spiritually uplifting moment. It consists of recent convert testimonies, musical numbers by members and also us as a missionary choir (we sung Called to Serve, A Child's Prayer, the EFY medley, and I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go), and then President and Sister Mortensen spoke as well. What a beautiful night! Matt was one of the Recent Converts that spoke and he did such a good job! His sister and her boyfriend came too! So that was awesome for him! I have just come to realize this week how grateful I am to be a missionary--only fitting with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Something changed within me this week, and I have been filled with overwhelming gratitude for my mission. It is exactly what I have needed, and I know that it will continue to bless me forever more. I don't really know what else to say. Words do not exist to explain my feelings right now. I think the book of Helaman does a pretty good job of describing it...I am "filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory." If you want to be happy, live the gospel.
This picture pretty much symbolizes Texas
I love you all and am so grateful for each one of you. I am so grateful for your loving support, because I know that none of this would have been possible without it. I hope that you have a good Thanksgiving and that your thoughts turn often to the Savior. I LOVE Y'ALL! :)

Con muchisisisisisimo amor, 
Hermana Hoj

Monday, November 17, 2014

Learning and Growing and Stretching

Hola Hola! Como estan?

Yet another great week here in Huntsville Texas. I have had so many incredible learning experiences this week and I am excited to share some of them with you!

So to start off to help you understand a little better the "why" behind all of my learning, it all started off when President Mortensen challenged us to extend a baptismal invitation every single day. Now, of course we don't want to cast our pearls before swine here, but the Spirit testifies to you of when you should. We have seen some amazing miracles this week as a result of our commitment to this challenge! On Monday, as we were walking up to a trailer to go visit someone, there was a young man standing outside on the other side of the street. We walked up to him and started sharing our purpose as missionaries with him and sharing with him about the Book of Mormon. Our conversation was going along perfectly, and the Spirit told me, "Invite him to be baptized." So I did! And he said yes! It was really interesting what happened after that. He suddenly opened up a lot about his problems and some of the issues that are going on within his family. We were able to testify to him that we had the answer that would help him through all of his struggles and committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It was so amazing! Then the next day we went over to visit Gabby, but we had to wait for her for a little while and ended up talking with her uncle. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to follow Christ's example to be baptized, and he also said yes! We have been visiting Gabby ever since I came to Huntsville, and we have never talked to her uncle about the gospel until then. He told us that he wanted to focus his life more on God and that he would read and pray. Every single day this last week we invited someone to be baptized, and every single person accepted. They said that when they received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true, they would follow Christ's example and be baptized. We didn't set any baptismal dates, but we are inviting people to be baptized, and they are accepting! As we continue to follow up with these people and begin teaching them, I know the Spirit will testify to them that it is what they need to do. They too, are more aware of our purpose as missionaries and what we are helping them do. As both us and them are focused on this goal, the success we will see as missionaries will grow so much. As we have been doing this, I have seen the understanding that I have of my purpose grow and grow and grow. I have so much more boldness and so much more confidence while we are teaching. It is set in my mind that I need to teach in a way that will permit me to invite others to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and the Spirit is guiding me so much better. Now my question is, why in the world did I not understand this until now!? Hijole. I guess that's what the mission is for, right?

Another experience I had this last week helped me understand the importance of following promptings so that God can trust me as His servant. We were out in the country--in the middle of no where yet again--and on our way back to town we drove past a Valero gas station. The thought to stop the car and fill up the gas crossed my mind, so I looked down at the fuel gage...we still had about half a tank left. So I continued to keep driving right past it. However, the thought didn't leave my mind and I soon realized that it was the Spirit that had put that thought into my mind. We were already a few miles down the road and I had the fight within myself--do I go back, or do I just keep going? The thought came to my mind, "Can God trust me?" As soon as that thought crossed my mind I pulled over to the side of the road, flipped a U-turn, and headed back to the gas station, telling Hermana Loo "We need to go back." So we get there and I start to put gas in the car, still without any idea of why I was there. So I thought, we can go hang up an English class flyer in the gas station. I was searching for the tape and could not find in anywhere! I must have looked pretty confused because I heard from behind me, "Sisters, you look lost. Are you looking for somewhere?" I turned around and there was a man next to us filling up his big red truck. I explained to him that I was looking for tape, haha and then we asked if he was a member of the church. He said, "Used to be." We got talking with him a bit, why we were in the middle of nowhere--that there are actually missionaries in the middle of nowhere--and we invited him to come to church again. He said "No thanks, but I appreciate you trying." And that was it. God was hiding the tape from me, because 2 seconds later Hermana Loo had found it. I know that was the reason I was prompted to go there. Even though it didn't turn out the best that it could have, we still provided him with that opportunity. Maybe one day he will remember that moment and recognize that he does need to go back. It really taught my that whatever promptings we receive from the Spirit, no matter how irrational or strange it may seem, must be obeyed. How can the Lord trust me enough to continue giving me direction if I haven't been following the ones he has already given to me? My testimony of listening to and following the Spirit was strengthened tremendously that day. 

                   Hermana Loo and I with the Hermana from Brazas 
                              Hermanas Ordonez and Larsen
I had one other learning experience from this week that I wanted to share with you as well. I feel very grateful for the opportunity I have to serve as a Sister Training Leader. We found out that a lot of the Sisters that we are working with are in need right now, a lot of them are going through some difficult things. A lot of the times I feel that I don't know what to say to people or that I am not qualified to really help them much. A lot of times my words aren't able to be expressed in the way that I would hope, I'm not the most eloquent with my words, but I have learned that all I want them to know is how much I love them. I just hope with all my heart that through my actions and the few scrambled words that I do get across, that they feel of the love that I have for them. If nothing else, I hope they know that. I feel that this calling that I have been given is more for the other Sisters to help me than it is for me to help them. I am constantly learning from them and their dedication to the Lord. We had two exchanges this last week, and they were both wonderful learning and growing experiences for me. 
                Working at Texas A & M this week - The famous Aggie ring!
So for me this week has just been learning and growing and stretching and learning, growing, and stretching some more. I just have the strongest desire right now to study and learn as much as I can. I had awesome studies this morning about the life of Jesus Christ and all that is possible for us because of Him. Everything that He did was to benefit us. I have already learned so much, but I just want to keep learning even more and more and more! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!

Con muchisimo amor, 
Hermana Hoj

Monday, November 10, 2014

This is my Life and my Light

One Hermana and two Sisters! (Our English speakers)
Hello again! Since I just talked to you a few days ago, I don't know how much I have to tell you...haha but I will tell you of some great miracles that we have been seeing!

I went on exchanges this last week with Sister Lambright and boy did we see some miracles! We were able to set two baptismal dates with investigators that we visited! President Mortensen has really been pushing us to be bold in extending commitments--making sure that baptism invitations are extended in the first and second lessons. He has challenged us to extend a baptismal commitment each day, and I know that we are going to see some remarkable miracles from it! We already are! It is such a privilege being able to work with the Sisters. I am learning so much from them that I hardly feel like I am teaching them anything! We did a companionship study with a companionship of Sisters in our zone and role played being bold in extending the baptismal invitation, and when we followed up with them we found out that they set 2 baptismal dates with their investigators! There are miracles everywhere! We had a conference call with President Mortensen, and he said that our mission right now is going to see more baptisms than we ever have! The Lord truly is hastening His work and I feel so privileged to be a part of it!

I feel like I have come to better understand my purpose as a missionary. It's something that in the MTC we stated every single day, and I say it every day on my mission, but for some reason it just really hit me this last week how important our purpose as missionaries truly is. As we have focused on our purpose, the whole energy of our mission has changed. The missionaries and members are more excited about the work, and the Lord is leading us to those who are prepared! I read Alma 26 this week and focused a lot on that excitement--that joy that comes from doing missionary work. IT IS INDESCRIBABLE! As I read Alma 26:26-37 I felt an overwhelming gratitude of my opportunity to be a missionary. I understand what they are talking about because I too, have experienced it. 
26 But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.
 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.

 28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
 29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
 30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.

 31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
 32 For behold, they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.
 33 And now behold I say unto you, has there been so great love in all the land? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, there has not, even among the Nephites.
 34 For behold, they would take up arms against their brethren; they would not suffer themselves to be slain. But behold how many of these have laid down their lives; and we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and of their hatred to sin.
 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
 37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.
I too have felt like I was ready to give up. I have been mocked and laughed at. I have felt depressed and insignificant. I have faced trials and afflictions. I have gone from house to house with the hope that someone would open their door and let us in. However, all of those frustrations, all of those trials, distractions, and discouragement pale in comparison to the joy that you feel when the Lord leads you to the one who is willing to listen, who is willing to change. And then, it is all worth it. The Lord and this work "is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo." That joy is complete, it is perfect, and it is all because of God. So, I will end with this scripture, Alma 28:14.
14 And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.
To all those who may be wondering, a mission is the most amazing thing in the entire world.
Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recognizing the Atonement in our own Lives

So I've only got an hour and a half to email now, so I've got to bust this thing out real quick. So I apologize beforehand if it's crazy scattered. So I am emailing late because we had a Zone Conference on Monday where Elder Corbridge of the Seventy came and talked to us. It was really amazing to hear from him! The Spirit was so strong and I definitely learned things that I need to apply to be a better missionary. So now here I am writing you today instead! We went to the temple this morning, and oh my goodness it was so so good to be there again! It has been a long time since I have done an endowment session, so I was smiling from ear to ear to finally be there again! I love the Spirit and the peace that is always a part of the temple experience. It truly is the house of the Lord. 
The chili cook-off judges

                                 Dressed as a turkey a month early!
I've got a lot to cover, and not so much time, so bear with me! I'll try to get it all down! I'll have to send some pictures from Halloween because I don't have too much time to write about it, but it was great, and the ward party was awesome! I'm going to share two miracles that we had this week with you and then something I learned, alright? So miracle number one. We started the English classes this week (the Daily Dose Program). So we have been going around town, putting up flyers and inviting people to come, trying to get the word out essentially. We were thinking that maybe 4 or 5 people would come and that we'd feel pretty good about that...but miracles my friends are everywhere. There were 13 people there for our very first class!! How amazing is that!? And they all speak Spanish! I don't know about you...but to me that sounds like we are one step closer to starting a Spanish branch! haha but really though! We are working hard to get more Spanish speakers to church on Sundays, and we have been seeing a lot of success. We have felt this last week that the Lord wants us to focus a little bit harder on building the Spanish program here in Huntsville because we have seen so many miracles! Almost all of the Spanish families in the ward are part member families, and when we get them reactivated, the baptisms for the others are bound to follow! Miracle 2. We were able to get in with a Spanish family that we have never met before--amazing!! The mom is the only member of the Church, but her kids want to learn more about what she believes. We are beginning to teach them and they love it! I love teaching kids because they are so open, receptive, and so full of faith. We taught them how to pray and we also taught them how to sing I Am a Child of God and Families Can Be Together Forever. They are so so cute! It's J (12), J (11), and B (6). And they even came to church on Sunday and absolutely loved it! I just love the relationships that we are able to create with people here. It is amazing the unity and love that you can feel as you talk with others about God. It is the coolest experience ever. I just don't even know how to put into words what I am feeling right now, but it is joyful and happy and so wonderful!! Oh and sorry, one more miracle, A and C accepted a baptismal date for December 13th! Yay!! We are so excited for them! They are so adorable! And the dad might even be able to work towards being the one to baptize them! That would be so remarkable! Aaaahhhh there are so many miracles!!!

                                Some of our fantastic YSA friends
And now for my thought for the week. Wow is the power of the Atonement incredible. My testimony of and gratitude for the Atonement grew so much this week. I had an incredible experience this week where I felt the full coverage of the Atonement, and really began to understand a little bit more all that is possible for us because of Jesus Christ. I was enveloped in the love that my Heavenly Father has for me, and understood a little better what Jesus Christ did by suffering for each one of us individually--I cannot come close to understanding it all, but I can understand it enough for my own life and that is what is really important. As I use the Atonement more in my life, I come to appreciate it more and my heart is just full--full of gratitude to my Savior and Redeemer. What a comfort it is to know that when we fall short, He is there to help us just a little bit further to make it all the way. What would we do without Him? This is another one of those moments where the words are choked up in my throat and nothing can explain the fullness and swelling that is in my heart as I think about it. I will be doing all that I can do give all that I have to Him, because He gave everything to me--and more. There is nothing more that I can do but give Him all that I have. I want to live for Him every moment that I have! I invite you to do the same.

Estoy muy agradecida por la expiacion de Jesucristo y por el amor que nos da. Que increible es para tener confianza en El y hacer todo que podemos para llegar a ser como El. Quiero desarrollar todos los atributos de Jesucristo y ser como El es. Mi mision me ha ayudado a hacer eso, pero todavia tengo mucho trabajo. Amo a mi Salvador y se que El vive.

Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mud, Fish, Oreos, and a whole lot a teachin'

Happy Halloween Texas Baptist Style!
Well folks, this week has been FULL of incredible miracles! I know that a large part of that is due to the fast that we had, fasting is so powerful!! So this is another one of those weeks where I'm going to have to go day by day just to let you know how great it was!

Monday-- we had 2 AWESOME lessons with YSA's, we have extended the baptismal invitation to both, and they are in the process of praying to know for themselves that the gospel is true.

Tuesday--Seriously one of the best nights of my mission! It was stellar! So last week Matt told us of a friend he met at work who is interested in learning more about the church. He set up a lesson for us and we met with his friend T this day. We shared the message of the Restoration and answered a lot of his questions--it was such a good lesson, the Spirit was so strong! He kept saying how he wondered why he never knew any of this before. He told us that 3 years ago a missionary knocked on his door and gave him a Book of Mormon. All he said was "You're going to need this one day." T then talked about how he has moved many different times, but for some reason he has always brought the Book of Mormon with him. He said "I know exactly where it is right now, it's sitting in my kitchen drawer, but I've never opened it up." Well, now he needs it! He is so excited to learn and he says he just wants to keep learning more and more and he doesn't ever want it to end. He said he had been saying little prayers throughout the whole lesson and that something we said always answered the questions he had. He knows something is different, and he knows that it is good. We found out later that night that he had read the chapter we had assigned him in the first 10 minutes after the lesson. He is eager and searching for answers! SUCH A MIRACLE!! Then we had the most amazing lesson with G. We had Matt come talk to her since he went through a lot of the same opposition that she has right now. We could have said the exact same words that Matt said, but it wouldn't have meant nearly as much to her as it did coming from him. You could tell that she had a lot more confidence by the end of it. SUCH A GOOD DAY!

Wednesday--First off, campus was on fire this day. There were so many people that were interested! It was like the first day all over again. Then we had a lesson with T again on the Plan of Salvation, yet again another amazing lesson! We invited him to be baptized and he said "I would give anything for that opportunity. I'd get baptized tomorrow if I could, but I'm not ready for that yet." So that is awesome progress! He is currently praying to know when the Lord feels he will be ready. Keep him in your prayers!

Thursday--We learned how to make homemade gorditas with Hermana Rodriguez! They were delicious! (It's basically like a tortilla stuffed with meat or cheese or both.) Get excited to try them when I come home! :) Then we had 3 back to back lessons at the Institute. One was on family history--we found a girl's great great grandparents in the first 5 minutes we were searching! So awesome! One was on the Book of Mormon, and then the third lesson was on the Restoration and we got a new investigator! Yay!! That is the best!
                                       Cooking up some gorditas

Friday--We are starting English classes this week and went around town to put up some flyers and invite people to come. We hit up all the "Hispanic hot spots" and had some pretty great experiences doing that. 2 people were blown away by the fact that Spanish came out of my mouth. They were like "Habla espanol?! Pero usted es una gringa! (o una bolilla)" haha I was dying, I just looked at them like, well..yeah! Duh! haha it was so funny. Then we talked to some borrachos at the sketchiest gas station ever. But, it was a great experience! (as of today we have already had about 6 or 7 people call us for more information on the classes!!!)
                                  Ready to help with the Mud Run

Saturday--We started off the day with volunteering for a mud run and it was so successful! We have service shirts that we're supposed to wear--they are bright yellow and hard to miss to say the least. So Hermana Loo and I basically got put in charge of starting the race! We made announcements before each heat and started them all too. Because we were in matching shirts everyone thought we were in charge I guess. So we had tons of people coming up to us and asking us questions about the race and also just about who we were (because they saw the name tags) So we were definitely seen! Then later that day, we got a little bit lost out in the country...the GPS took us to the wrong place and there was no cell phone service at all. We were a bit frustrated because we had just wasted a ton of miles and we couldn't call anyone to get the right directions. However, God knows how to get us out of frustration--He makes us laugh. So there we were, on a road, LITERALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE when a man on an ATV drives up in front of our car waving a bright orange flag, signaling for us to stop. Then we see a huge sea of people coming up the road on horses and sitting on patios being pulled by trucks. Hermana Loo and I look at each other and are just like "What in the world is going on!? So we were stuck there just watching everyone pass by. There was just a huge crowd of people riding on their horses and drinking beer, listening to terrible music, basically just partying down this street in the middle of nowhere. What in the world, right?! We were laughing so hard, and I filmed it all as discreetly as I could. Then after it all happened, a few miles down the road we got our answer as we passed the marquee in front of a Baptist Church: "Tailgate Extravaganza." Only in Texas.
Then we went to our first ever fish fry! We fried fish, onions, bananas, oreos...haha all of it. It was pretty fun.
                                     Catching fish for the fish fry
Sunday--Church again was great as always! Then for dinner I tried venison for the first time ever! It was soooo delicious! And then here is another AMAZING miracle!!!!! We have been trying to contact all of the Spanish members of the ward and we were able to visit the A family yesterday for the first time and get to know them. They are a family of 4 and the father is the only member of the church. The 2 kids are 11 and 3. As we began to talk with them, we realized that the rest of his family really have no religious background. As we were talking with them, the Spirit was so strong, and they all want to take the lessons and learn more! We had set up a time to come visit them the week before and when we called to verify the appointment he said "Yeah, we're looking forward to it!" We found out that his wife had been talking to him to find out more about what what we believed in and even asked him to drive past the church to show her where it was at! We gave them each their own copy of the Book of Mormon (and the kids version for the little boy) and talked to them about what the Book of Mormon is. We didn't have time to teach the whole restoration lesson, so we will next week. They are so prepared and want to learn more! The little girl, C was already reading through the Book of Mormon while we were talking. :) The mom even expressed to us that her daughter wants to be baptized and then said "I do too for that matter." She turned to her daughter and said, "We can do it together!" The moment she said that the Spirit filled the room and we know that they felt it too. We came out of that lesson full of gratitude to the Lord for His hand in this work and guiding us to this family that has never been visited by the missionaries. He truly is guiding this work! 
                                         First time for a fried Oreo!
So, if you can't tell yet, being a missionary is the best thing in the world. You have the opportunity to experience a lot of firsts--some that are great, some not so great, some that just make you laugh, but all that make you better. What a blessing it is to be a missionary! I hope that by me sharing the miracles I have seen with you, that it inspires you to make those miracles in your own lives! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!
Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Little Lengua and a lot of Family History

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just a little P-Day Boxing Match:)

Hello!!! I loved getting emails and pictures from you all! I love seeing little baby Luke! He is so so adorable! He's going to be the first baby I hold when I get home! And congrats to Nick and Jen! You two looked great! It's crazy all of the things that change when you are on a mission, but it's so great!
This week for me has been amazing as usual! The Lord is blessing us tremendously. There are a lot of things that go on each week, so I just don't even know half of the things to say anymore. But I will do my best to update you all on a missionary's life in Huntsville, Texas!
First, just got to share with you our great P-Day moment. So Brother Harris in our ward was a professional boxer, and he still trains people to this day. He is really, really good to say the least. So he has a boxing ring and a gym where he trains and today Hermana Loo and I got to go out and he taught us how to box! It was so much fun! We aren't fighting each other...yet...haha talk about an intense comp inventory! haha just kidding, we were just using punching bags. It is so much fun though! I'll send you some pictures.

      Working up a sweat!!! Just punching the punching bag, not each other!

Anyways, as for missionary work goes we have seen some amazing miracles this last week. We didn't go up to campus much this week because we are making a new family history display to take up there. We are going to have a Family History Fair and invite the students on campus to come to it. We have a map of the world that we are going to take up there for people to put a sticker on where they are from, and we also have a board with a tree trunk on it and leaves for people to write their name and where they come from to make a tree. We are super excited! Hopefully that all made sense. We have seen progress with some of our investigators this week too! We are teaching a YSA named Natasha, and it is going really well with her! We contacted her on campus awhile back and when she saw us she just said "No way, this isn't happening! I was meeting with missionaries a little bit before I came to school." Coincidence? I think at first she was really unsure of what she believed. She was doing a lot of searching--comparing and contrasting different churches and their beliefs, not really knowing what her relationship was with God. We taught her the Restoration and talked a lot about how God is our Loving Heavenly Father a few weeks ago, and this last week when she came for another lesson she said "I've been praying, and I think I've decided that God is my Heavenly Father." Ah!!! So awesome! She is searching, and finding the answers to the questions she has! Anyone can do that! She also said "I think the Book of Mormon is true too. While I am reading it I think to myself 'This book is true, there is no way that is isn't' and then when I set it down I think 'Hmmm...maybe it's not' so then I pick it up again and think 'There is no way that this book is not true!'" We asked her, When you put the book down, who do you think is putting those thoughts into your mind? Her testimony is growing slowly but surely! She said that she feels really good about coming to the Institute building and learning from us, that it feels right. Now we've just got to get her to come to church and feel of the Spirit there!

       Creating our "family tree" for the bulletin board at Sam Houston
We also had a break through lesson with our 16 year old investigator, G. We had Specialized Training this week and talked a lot about being bold in inviting our investigators to be baptized in the first and second lessons. G has been taking the lessons for over a year now, but has had some family opposition when it comes to baptism. We decided to commit her to a date, and when we did she accepted! She was so excited, but nervous to tell her family. When she told them they said no because they want her to be more committed to going to church before she makes a decision like that. She hasn't come to church very much, and I think that they are worried that she will get baptized and then not go back. So they have legitimate concerns as parents, however they want her to be going to church for a year before she gets baptized. But G came to church on Sunday! It made me so happy to see her there! We are praying that as she puts forth this effort, that her family will see that she is changing and that they will let her be baptized a lot sooner. Something awesome that happened as well was that as she was getting ready to leave for church on Sunday her Grandpa asked "Where are you going?" She told him to church and then he asked which one. She said "de los mormones" and then get this...he proceeds to tell her that her great grandmother (who is still living) is a member and goes to that church in Mexico!! I don't think G even knew there was a church in Mexico, and now she can go with her great grandma when she is visiting there! I think that gave her a lot of confidence. Miracles are happening!
Lastly, I just want to share my testimony of fasting and prayer. Wow, is it powerful, and wow, does it work! Hermana Loo and I fasted on Sunday for help in knowing how to better divide the work in this area to help it be more successful, and also for the members of the ward and the branch. Heavenly Father blessed us tremendously on Sunday! So many people came! There were enough Spanish members for us to hold the Spanish Sunday school, and a lot of the members came and supported. We are going to start doing it every week rather than just if Spanish members come. We're hoping that as we make it a constant more people will have the desire to come. I was able to translate during sacrament meeting for una Hermana and then I taught the Spanish class on a whim too. The Lord was helping me out so much, and I knew that He was the one guiding the whole time. It takes me back to last week's letter, and how we truly are so much more successful when we just let Him help us! Then Gabby came, and more YSA members came too. I think there were more people at church on Sunday in both the ward and the branch than there has been my entire time serving here in Huntsville! The Lord is amazing, and He truly answers prayers! We just need to submit to His will and then everything falls into place. What an amazing week! My testimony of fasting and prayer has been so strengthened on my mission. I have had countless miracles come from fasting and prayer--and it is all because we desire to do the Lord's will. As we choose Him and His way, over us and our way we are blessed tremendously! So this week I want all of you to think about how you can put the Lord first in your lives, and make the necessary changes to do so. Choose the higher way. I'm going to end with the quote that Taylor actually sent me this week, because it goes perfectly with that point!
"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life."

Con muchisisisisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj