Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Miracles are Abounding!

Hola Hola mi familia!
How are you all doing this week? This week has been such an incredible one for me, and I am seeing the Lord pour out His blessings upon us and this mission. One quick miracle. Last week our zone had 8 baptismal dates, and as of today we have 18!!!! Whoo! We can see the miracles everywhere! Anyways, first to address some of your questions...the weather here is crazy. haha Earlier this week it was freezing and there was actually a little bit of snow on the rooftops and lots of ice. And then the next day it was in the 70's. Then it's supposed to get freezing again. And I thought the weather in Utah was weird...haha but I'm loving it all the same. We just keep our gloves, coats, etc. in the car because you never know what to expect every day, but we're prepared so that's all that matters right?  And a new mattress? Whoo!! I still like to argue that my bed's the most comfortable but who knows. You all can be the judge of that. Liv--you're driving? Alone? In a car? Whoa. Weird. haha be safe alright? Thanks for keeping me updated on all the stuff that's happening over there, send my love to everyone!!
This week has been so incredible and like I said we are seeing the Lord's hands every day and in every way. We are so blessed! Wow I don't even know where to begin. So...here's a good story. One of our investigators is an 18 year old boy (actually two of our investigators haha) but he is working on coming closer to God. He's had some rough things happen in his life and so the first time we visited with him we told him to read Mosiah 27 and Alma 36 about Alma the Younger and his story of conversion/repentance. And he did! He loved it! I don't think I have ever worked with someone who is so excited about reading the Book of Mormon and it makes me so happy! So we texted him and asked him how he was doing and how his reading had been going. This was our conversation.
"Pretty good keeps getting better." (in response to his reading.)
"Good to hear. Keep on going! We are proud of you!"
"Reading now really like this 'My son, give hear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.'"
"You should start counting the number of times you read that phrase, because you will see it a lot. That must mean it is important!"
"Alright will do. And yes very important! #dontwannastopreading"
hahahah how awesome is that!? And he used a hashtag! hahahaha but it really is so remarkable to see how excited he is about reading the Book of Mormon. My testimony is strengthened every day from this book and I know that it can bring about a great change to a person's life. We can feel so much more peace and happiness while we are reading and studying this book. So incredible!!
Okay I wish I could tell you everything, but there is just no way to do it. So here are two more. So it was actually this Saturday that we helped at the meeting with Sheri Dew--and wow is she an incredible woman! We were ushers and then had the opportunity to stay and listen to her. She is so so inspiring and through her words and the Spirit I was able to receive some answers. She talked a lot about being focused and recognizing our role in helping build the kingdom of God. The main point I got out of it though was how we can be focused on the things that are most important and not so much the little things that are always in our peripherals, distracting us from what is of most importance.
Then we had another lesson with our investigator J, and it may have been one of the best lessons I have had so far on my mission. Not by anything we did, but by the Spirit that was there. We were talking with him about being prepared for baptism and he told us his whole story. Wow, I have so much respect for him and I have no doubt that he is ready to be baptized. Long story short, he was going through some things that were really going to affect a large portion of his life, but by a miracle he was able to be free from a lot of it. After that experience he decided that he needed to try going to church again, and I can tell you that he has TRULY been converted. He said this about the church "Now it's just become a part of me, ya know?" This is REAL change. There is nothing, absolutely nothing better than seeing the effect and power the Atonement can have in changing a person's life. This is why I am a missionary. I am learning so much more for myself than I feel like others are learning from me! Even though I can't see it all at once, I know the Lord is helping me undergo change to become what He knows I can be. This experience has put a lot of perspective into my work as a missionary. I see this real, devoted change and I think about how often we as missionaries try to just get people to baptism when in reality they aren't ready yet. After witnessing this, I want to make sure that the person really is changed, because that is what is going to keep them going strong afterwards. Wow. There really is nothing more rewarding than witnessing this, it is a miracle in and of itself and is only possible through Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
One more thing that I want to say is how real revelation is. I have had a flood of questions/doubts come to my mind this past week and I have seen how the Lord gives me answers left and right. It is so interesting how the Spirit works, it really is through little, simple things that we can receive our answers. The Spirit really is a still, small voice and if we are too caught up in the chaos of the world there is no way that we will be able to recognize the things He is trying to tell us. Then we won't be able to receive that guidance until we go looking for it! I wonder how many times I have been too distracted to recognize the promptings from the Lord, and how much easier situations could have been if I had been able to recognize it in the first place! That's one thing that I really want to work on right now. Focus. How I can stay focused and what I need to do to be more receptive and acceptive to the will of the Lord. If I can understand that better, I know that my relationship with the Lord will be so much stronger.
Well, that's all for me this week. Estoy muy agradecida que yo puedo ser una misionera y yo se que es algo que yo necesito a llegar a ser la persona que Dios quiere. Estoy amando el tiempo yo tengo a servir mi Senor y quiero a usarlo el mejor que puedo. Yo quiero someter a la voluntad de Dios y hacer todo que puedo a lograr mi lugar con El un dia. Yo se que lo es posible!
Les amo muchisimo!!
Con amor,
Hermana Hoj


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Letting the Lord Shape Me

One of our favorites! Little Marcitos
How is my amazing family doing this week? It's good to hear from you! I'm glad to hear that everything went well with Stake Conference and that you are all staying busy. Dad, you should send me your talks so I can read them and learn from your wisdom as well! haha and maybe it'll give us some ideas of how to better incorporate members into our work as well. It really is so crucial! Members make a big difference, and it's through members that missionaries can find the greatest success. 
Missionary work here in the Houston Texas Mission is really picking up, and the Lord has work for us to do! As a mission, our new goal is to baptize weekly. At first, that terrified me, not going to lie! But what I've realized is that it's not something that's going to just happen. We need to work with that goal in mind and see how the Lord will prepare us and the people we teach to work together to make it happen in His time. We feel so blessed though, because this week we really have seen the urgency in the Lord's work, He is picking things up! At the end of this week as we were looking back on what we have accomplished we can see that the Lord is going to help us do great things here in the Woodlands! We have found a lot of new people to teach this week, and we have more progressing investigators than ever before. And.....WE HAVE A BAPTISMAL DATE!!! Yay!!! I really don't even know how to express my excitement! So if you remember the miracle I wrote about last week, he is the same person that we set a baptismal date with. His name is Jair, and it is so incredible to see someone have such a strong desire to change and to come closer to our Heavenly Father. He's been taught by the missionaries before, but didn't feel ready for baptism. However, now he's preparing to be baptized on February 15th! One thing that I have really recognized as a missionary is that you really have to trust in the Lord's timing. I'm sure the missionaries that taught him before thought that he would get baptized while they were teaching him, but now because of the work that they have been able to accomplish with him, he is being prepared to enter into the fold of God! How incredible is that? So I am grateful for those missionaries that helped teach him, and grateful that now I have the opportunity to help him. You never know how you can influence someone. Even though they weren't able to see results right away, look at him now! Really, it is all in the timing of the Lord, we just need to have patience--even though that is sometimes the hardest thing in the world!

                        Some of our investigators that we just love!
I don't have much else to say this week, but I just want to end by saying that I LOVE MY MISSION. I have experienced some of the hardest days of my life and some of the happiest. There are days when my heart wants to break and others when it feels like it is about to explode with joy. I am continually recognizing more and more of the importance behind my purpose as a missionary and how through this gospel, hearts and lives change. I am so lucky to be here right now to invite others to take part in something that has changed my life and filled it with an indescribable joy--and that it is available to everyone! I don't even know how to explain my feelings, I've been writing this last paragraph for the past ten minutes and I still don't feel like it comes close to doing it justice. But I hope that you can read it and get a sense of what I mean. Even though I'm inviting others to change their lives, mine is undergoing change that I never could have expected or imagined, but I am so grateful for it. I am just trying to do all I can to understand what it is that the Lord wants me to become and to get there! I know that He has great plans in store for each and every one of us. Thank you for your love, support, advice, etc. I couldn't be doing this without you all! LOVE YOU!!!! Make this a good week and keep it up with your own missionary work. :) You will be so blessed for it!

Hermana Hoj

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Focusing on the Spirit (also Chobani Flips are awesome!)

Jan 13 at 3:09 PM
Hola hola! Que tal? 

This week has been so incredible and we have seen a ton of great miracles. I've been trying a lot harder this week to focus on the Spirit and the things that I need to do to recognize and be more receptive to the Spirit and then do it! What's the point in recognizing the Spirit if you're not going to do anything about it? You've got to have confidence in the Lord and also confidence in yourself, because He's not going to give you the answer to absolutely everything. We wouldn't be able to grow if that was the case! Hermana Burnham is absolutely awesome, already love her so so much! We get along really well and she's got a great sense of humor and she cracks me up! She is also one of the most hard working and persevering missionaries that I know. So needless to say, I am lucky to work with her and learn from her!

Just a couple random things to get out of the way before I tell you more about my week. Mom, (well everyone really) you've got to try the Chobani flips (greek yogurt). Sooooo delicious. Mom, there's a key lime pie one that I ate this week and oh boy was it good. I was thinking about you the whole time, reminiscing on our trips to Rumbis to get some pie. haha so you should try it, it's really good! The coconut one is also just stellar. Wow, all of them are. And more about food, I had the best fish tacos I have ever had this week at one of our members houses. Mmmmmm. So good! So good!

We also heard about our new mission president from President Pingree. He said that he is from Irvine, California and that they have six kids! President Pingree said that he talked to him and that he seems really great. So it should be good, but at the same time so sad to say goodbye to the Pingrees. But I'm just going to appreciate them while I have them and not think too much about them leaving. :) Also, Hermana Burnham and I got a call today from one of the Stake Relief Society Presidents and found out that we get to go help at a big conference this weekend where Sheri Dew will be coming to speak! We are so excited, and feel so privileged to have this opportunity, because I don't think many missionaries get to go. So I will let you know how that goes as well!

Alright, for the miracles of the week. There have been lots, but I'll share with you two that are just so great. Also, I finished my journal and started a new one and decided that I wanted to do something a little different this time around. Because it's so impossible to write absolutely everything down, I decided to write a funny moment of the day, miracle of the day, and advice of the day. I'm loving it so far! Anyways, to the miracles....
We went to visit a potential family to see if we could get in with them. The mom answered the door and said that we could come another day, but it wasn't very convincing. Kind of one of those things where you know that they probably won't be there. So we walked away from the house and decided to go knock on a few of their neighbor's doors. A few minutes later a young man pulled up to us and said "Hey sorry, was that you that just came to my house? I want to apologize for my parents not letting you in, if it was my house I would have. But I came to church last Sunday with my cousin and I want to get baptized as soon as possible." Whaaaat?! Did I hear that right? We waited for him to pull away and kind of had a freak out moment like Did that really just happen? He's taken the missionary discussions before, so we just need to start meeting with him and then we can help him get baptized! Whoo!! We were so so so happy! We celebrated with a milkshake for dinner. haha
The best part of this picture is what is happening outside
  my window . . . (We didn't even notice till after we
            emailed it to everyone!)
Miracle number 2. One of our top progressing investigators came to church yesterday! Yay! He has been trying to get work off for so long so that he could come and he finally made it! We have been meeting with him since I got here and he was finally able to get to church! Yay!! It was so awesome too, because so many of the members came up to him after to welcome him and introduce themselves. So I think he felt welcomed and that he had a good experience.

One thing that I have learned this week is that if after a day of hard work you don't see many results, don't beat yourself up! As long as you are giving it your all you will be blessed for your efforts. Later on down the road you will see the results of your hard work. Just got to be patient. So that's pretty much it with me for this week! I am loving the work that I am able to be a part of and I am continually learning and progressing.Wow. I am so lucky. Wow. Okay well I love you all so much and hope that you have a great week! Love hearing from you, and you are all in my prayers. LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Hoj

Monday, January 6, 2014

One Crazy Week!

Hello my dearest family!

Yes and yes, the new year has brought lots of changes to me over here in the good ole Woodlands. I got my new companion and she is so great! Her name is Hermana Burnham and she is from Seattle Washington. She is also 19 years old so the two of us are the youngins. haha She has been out for almost 10 months and I am so excited that I get to work with her! She's pretty great. You'll see the picture I send to you and you'll see that we are enjoying being ourselves. Taking over an area was a little stressful at first because plans fall through and you are the only one that knows the other options and where to go. And you just want to make sure that they are having a good experience too! But it's gotten better and better as the days go on. Nothing exciting at all happened for the New Year for us...we were sleeping like little babies! We just saw the aftermath of it all the next day with fireworks covering the ground. But, that does not even begin the extent of our changes over here. This week has been crazy, but in a good way.

So one of the Hermanas in this mission had surgery this past week, so while she is recovering at President's house her companion needs a companion. So the other sisters in our ward (Hermana Spendlove and Hermana McCleary) got split until she gets better. Hermana McCleary went with the other Hermana and then Hermana Spendlove came with us. So we are in a trio until the other Sister gets better, covering both of our areas. So we have been super super busy trying to combine all of the appointments from both areas in a reasonable way. I am super exhausted, but such is the life of a missionary. Maybe we can finally bring to pass the line in the white handbook that says something to the effect of...if you have too many appointments you can go on splits with members! That would be pretty cool, I don't know how many missionaries can say that they have had too many appointments...haha so even though we are super busy, we are super blessed! It is incredible to me to see how the Lord has prepared me for this experience. I went on exchanges in the other area of the Woodlands once, and that has helped me so so much to help know how to get to certain places. The Lord prepares us for everything that He puts in our paths. His plans are perfect, even if we aren't. If we put our trust and faith in Him, anything is possible!

Now I want to tell you some funny, awesome, cool, great, what ever words you want to use to describe, stories from this past week. 
As we were walking in an apartment complex the other day we saw a man sitting out on the porch shooting a little airsoft gun at the ceiling (that's not really important but it just adds to the story, right?) so naturally we decided to give him a card of Jesus Christ. He didn't actually live there, but a couple days later we were by that apartment again and guess what? The card was hung up right next to their door. A card being put to good use! Can't say that's ever happened, but how great is that? 
We were almost eaten by a little dog this week...he did not like us at all! Just picture this...the three of us, and a crazy psychotic dog barking constantly trying to bite our legs, with Hna. Burnham swinging her bag at the dog to keep it away. Good stuff and sooo funny. (The fact that it was a little dog just makes it that much more ridiculous.) 
Another one about dogs. This one might be more appreciated by Jake, Tay, and Dad. So ya know how in Hot Rod he's got spirit animals? Well, we've got one too! A spirit husky. We were terrified of it at first but then it started walking in front of us and then it stopped at a house, so we knocked on the door. One of the houses he led us to was one of our investigators. I'm telling you, this dog knows. hahaha just kidding, but we still thought it was pretty cool. He jumped on us too, and Hermana Burnham got a high five to her face! So like hot rod but better because this is for the work of the Lord.
Wow sorry this was a bit of a spastic letter, but I had to tell you some of the funny stuff that happened. We've had some awesome spiritual experiences this week too, and here is one of them.
We were walking over in one of the apartment complexes and saw a lady outside smoking. We said hello and were going to keep on walking, but then we felt like we needed to talk to her. We asked if we could give her a card and she started tearing up. When we asked if there was anything we could do for her she asked if we could keep her in our prayers. She wants to quit smoking but it's been hard for her, and I think overall she was having a tough day. We said a prayer with her and she started crying again telling us that we were angels sent to her. It's so incredible to be able to see how we can be an answer to someone and help them recognize the love that their Heavenly Father has for them. This week has been remarkable and full of miracles, busy and tiring, but one of the weeks where I think I have grown and learned the most as a missionary of putting my trust in the Lord. I just need to realize that He is always there for me to talk to, and in the words of Mat Kearney "I guess we're all one phone call from our knees." Remember that okay? I sure love you all more than words could ever express, thank you for your love and example to me! Have a great week!!

Hermana Hoj
           Hermana Hoj and her new companion Hermana Burnham