Monday, February 24, 2014

Having fun, working hard, and loving the missionary life!

Hey there!

The Book of Mormon - The Keystone of our religion!
So a lot has happened this week, but at the same time I don't even know what to tell you all...we're having fun, we're working hard, and loving the missionary life! So I think I'll just begin with some awesomeness from the Book of Mormon. Seriously this book is the best. THE BEST. Ah I love it so much, and Moroni is just the greatest.
Right now I am reading in Alma and I LOOOVE this book. I have learned some amazing things this week and have recognized a lot of different ways that I can apply it to my life. Alma chapters 46-51. Read 'em. Read the all of Alma. In fact, all of the Book of Mormon! haha First of all, the contrast that these chapters emphasize between Amalickiah and Moroni. Amalickiah is a bad man. And Moroni is just the coolest most righteous guy ever. Read this verse (48:7) "Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God." While Amalickiah is trying to deceive people and trying to gain power, Moroni is preparing his people in the Lord and preparing the fortifications of the cities. The Nephites recognize the weak spots in their city and strengthen them. They are prepared individually (with armor) and collectively (with the fortifications of the cities). When the Lamanites came to fight them, they were ready and defeated them easily. That is what we must do!! We need to recognize our weak spots--where the adversary can most easily get to us--and strengthen them. That way we can always be prepared to face and conquer our enemies. And when we have conquered them once, we cannot stop! We must continue to fortify the line between ourselves and the adversary, because he is not going to give up. He'll wait until he recognizes a weak spot and attack with full force. However, if we are prepared with the Lord on our side and full confidence in Him, we will always emerge victorious. How cool of a promise is that? Ahhh I love the Book of Mormon! I love being able to study so much as a missionary and I feel so lucky to have this time to focus on nothing else but the gospel. It is such a blessing and I am learning so many incredible things. I have such a strong testimony of the scriptures and prayer and how they work together to help us in every facet of our lives. I love that when everything around us in the world is rapidly changing, those will always remain constant for us to utilize if we can just recongize that they are some of the most important tools that we have! We are so very blessed.
We really have seen a ton of miracles this week and have had some hilariously (is that even a word?? haha) memorable moments. I have encountered more dogs this week than I think I have in my whole entire life. We found a new area to tract in and it is full of dogs that appear to want to kill us, and then luckily for us they are nice. We were walking around a corner and out of the blue hear tons of barking and all of us just think "Oh no." We look up to see a pack of 7 or 8 dogs running towards us and our lives flashed before our eyes. We honestly just stood there waiting to be attacked, because running away is just a bad idea. Then to our great luck they stopped at our feet and waited for us to pet them. haha and then we saw the biggest dog I have ever seen in my entire life. It was some sort of a mutant boxer that is literally bigger than the dog in Sandlot. We had a German Sheperd walking with us so it chased after him instead of us. Thank heavens that none of these dogs ate us and that we are still healthy, happy missionaries.
We have seen some other great miracles this week as well aside from not getting eaten alive. We finally have more students in the English class that we get to teach every week!! We started talking to them a little bit about what we do as missionaries and one of the ladies turned to the other two and said something along the lines that we are here volunteering our time and that we are paying to be here so that they need to bring all of their friends to class! haha it was awesome! I think a lot of people don't realize what we are doing here--that we are literally leaving everything behind to be here. We don't just do it on days where it is convenient or when we have time, but we are literally doing this 24/7 for a year and a half of our lives! When people realize that it makes it so different. I hope that I am the type of missionary that when someone looks at me they can tell that I truly am dedicated and consecrated to my purpose of helping others come unto Christ. I am so blessed to be a missionary! This is an experience of a lifetime, and I wouldn't trade it for the world!!
Love you all soooo much!!!
Hermana Hoj

Monday, February 17, 2014

A BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!

Hola Hola mi familia!!

This week has just been the best and it ended at a super high point too! 
1. We are now trio training. And how crazy is this? I actually met her down at BYU a few times before the mission! Her name is Hermana McOmber and she is awesome! A super great addition to the Woodlands Norte Hermanas. haha and yes our apartment wasn't necessarily made to fit three people, but we made it work and now we're just going to get closer than ever, quite literally! But it's great and so much fun. 
2. Yes!! J got baptized!! Yay!!! I'm so so so so so so so so so so sosososo happy. I've said it once and I'll probably (no, I will) say it 500 more times, but it is always going to be the truth...there is absolutely nothing better in the whole entire world than being able to witness someone's change of heart and their desire to come closer to Christ. I am so proud of J and his decision to be baptized and become a member of this church. I know that it is going to help him so much throughout his life if he can continue to "perseverar hasta el fin." It definitely doesn't end at baptism, becoming converted is a life long process that isn't always the easiest thing to do but it will always be the most rewarding. The rewards will always be greater than what we are asked to do. 
So a little about his baptism. First of all, it's a good thing that in the hispanic culture "on time" is really one hour later than what the set time is. We got to the church building but couldn't fill the font. The person that was supposed to come unlock it got stuck at work, so someone finally came 15 minutes before the baptism was supposed to start. This was slightly problematic seeing as how it takes at least 45 minutes to fill the font...but come what may and love it, right? We started filling pitchers and coolers with water to help speed up the process and were running back and forth between the kitchen and the font trying to fill it up as quickly as we could. haha I'm sure it was hillarious to watch us. But there really was no need to stress, because things never start on time. I love it so much! As we were doing that we realized J still wasn't there, and that's also slightly problematic. So we called him and said "J, where are you!?" He was at Walmart buying a white shirt. haha. So all of those little things just made it all that much more memorable, and the baptism itself was absolutely incredible. J looked so happy and said that he felt so good. There is nothing better than seeing someone you love and care about so much choose to come to Christ. I feel so privileged to have been able to take part in his conversion process. We found out something else this week too. He told us that before we met him he had been praying to know if the church was true and if he should go back. He was waiting for his answer when we knocked on the door that day. He had looked through the window while we were talking to his mom and saw that we were two missionaries. He took that for his answer, and now he is a member!! Wow, his story is 100% a miracle. There are absolutely no coincidences, solamente the perfect timing and tender mercies of the Lord. Being a missionary is the BEST. I AM SO LUCKY!!!

I love being a missionary, and I love seeing the power of the Atonement take affect in so many people's lives--mine included. How blessed I am to have the knowledge of the gospel in my life. I just want everyone to know how amazing it is and how incredible it makes you feel!! It truly is perfect!! And just a little insight into how the Lord is hastening His work...the ward I am in right now has had more baptisms in the first two months of this year than they had all of last year. I'm sure it's close to the same in many other places too! Let's all take a part in this great cause and help others come to Christ!! There is nothing more rewarding.

Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's all about the love!!!!

Buenas tardes mi familia!

I am so blessed to be a missionary. Really. Words do not do it justice, and never will. I read Alma 26 this week (one of my all time favorites) and he says "my joy is heart is brim with joy...I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." I'm just gonna ditto that one right there and leave it at that. 
This week has been a week of realization for me in things that I need to do to be a better missionary, and what you wrote me about this week is exactly what it is that I am trying so hard to be better at. Opening your mouth, being bold, talking with everyone you see, etc. I'm telling you that it is so hard for me at times! I am not the most forward person in the world to say the least...haha but there are times when I see someone and think "I should give them a pass along card." or something along those lines and then I hesitate. Doubts and fears sink in and then it's too late. Fear is not from God, nor will it ever be! (Look at "Fear" in the Bible Dictionary) So I've just got to change my mindset and rather than saying "I should." start saying "I'm going to." My eyes began to water when you told me that in your prayers last night Tay prayed for me to not be afraid to be bold in sharing my testimony and I have tears running down my cheeks right this instant, because it is just what I needed. I am so lucky to have people who love and support me in all that I do. Even when you didn't even know that was exactly what I needed! In our weekly planning this week this is what I wrote down as my personal goals. Confidence. Do not be hesitant. Be BOLD. I am so blessed to have such a good family, such a good support system, and I want to thank you so much for your prayers and love. Now when I think about going up to someone to share this great message with them I'm going to have in the back of my head, "Your family is at home praying for you to do this too. You've got it. Be confident. Be bold." So thank you thank you thank you! 
I want to share with you an experience I had this week from when I went on exchanges. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed, and I am so touched by it. I went on exchanges with Hermana Glauser this past week, and we visited an elderly couple in their ward. The wife is on bed rest from some illnesses in the past, so he is her caretaker to say the least, and the most dedicated one I have ever seen. I witnessed the most pure love ever. It truly was a Christ like love. It's a lot of work that he has to do to help her, and he does it with so so soooo much love. He had us sit by her bed and sing songs for her and the first one we sung was How Great Thou Art (or Grand Eres Tu in Spanish). He would sing with us too, and as he sung "Grande eres Tu" he motioned his hand towards her then picked up her hand and kissed it, then kissed her on the cheek. I just wanted to cry because I could truly see how much love he had for her and I couldn't help but think how much I want that in my own life. Then I realized that it is something that I already have all around me. From my family and friends, but most importantly from my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I am loved with a perfect and infinite love that I can't even begin to comprehend. I am loved regardless of the weaknesses that I have and the mistakes that I so often make. I am not expected to be perfect, I am just expected to do all I can. And what should be the motivation for me to do so? You've got it. LOVE. That is the reason that I am on a mission right now. I am trying to help others feel the love that Jesus Christ has for them. And the most incredible thing ever is that as a representative of Jesus Christ we have the opportunity to feel the love that He has for the people we teach and serve. We want nothing more than for them to believe in the things that we have to tell them because we know how much it means to Him. That is the reason that it is so important for me to be bold, to be confident, and to open my mouth. I am doing it out of love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and for the desire I have to help others recognize that. Yeah, let me tell you there are times where I feel inadequate to every situation that is put in front of me, and there are more times than I can count where I don't know the answer to someone's question. So what do I do? I rely on the Lord. I go to Him, I ask him my questions, I pour out my feelings of inadequacy to Him--and every single time, WITHOUT FAIL, I am overcome with His love. He lets me know that it's okay for me not to know everything, it's okay that I make mistakes. The thing that is important is that I am trying. Then He has a marvelous way of showing me what I need to do to find my answers--and yet again I am reminded of the love that He has for me. It's all about the love.
I'm going to close with some wise words from Moroni because he says it so perfectly! (Moroni 8:16)
"Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear."
Always remember that, and when an opportunity to share the gospel comes into view grasp it with both hands and have confidence that the Lord will help you, because I can promise you that He will.
And remember how much I love YOU!! LOVE YOU ALL!!!! (and...Happy Valentine's Day!)

xoxo, Hermana Hoj

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow in Texas?

Hello, Hola, Howdy. How's it going in the Great Salt Lake?
I don't have too much time to write today, but I just want to share with all of you the highlights from my week, even though as usual there are too many to count.
1. Guess what? It snowed. In Texas! Seriously the weather here is so weird. All the schools were shut down in everything because it was too cold. haha I think about how we'd have 3 feet of snow and still go to school and it makes me laugh a little bit! It was pretty great.

                      This is what a snowman in Texas looks like!
Okay now this is a story that's slightly off topic, but I just had to include it for the sake of Jake, Tay, and Dad. When it happened I just pictured their reaction to this. So we visited our investigator Celalina, the 73 year old woman and she is just hilarious. That's all there is to it, but I just love her so much. She has been sick for a little while so she began telling us why she thinks she's been sick and it went a little something like this: (have Jake translate for you if you need it) "Pienso que estoy enferma porque de los pedos de mi perrito. Aaaaaayyyyy, que feo. No oler bien. El esta en mi cuarto y cuando estoy dormiendo...sus pedos...y yo respiro y oooohhhh que feo." hahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhaah I was literally trying so so so hard not to burst into an attack of laughter. It was so so so funny. And the way she talks just makes it all that better. hahaha so funny.

                             Hermana Hoj is "on the right track."
On a more spiritual note....I have two awesome experiences that I would love to share with you from this past week about the temple and fasting.
So this week we went to the temple! I really am so so lucky that I have the opportunity to go to the temple every single transfer. SUCH a blessing. And I think this is probably the best experience I've had at the temple so far. So Hna. Burnham and I have been looking at our family history a lot recently and when I checked the availiable temple ordinances there were two available! A husband and wife. Hermana Burnham also had one. So we got permission to go to the temple early and do all of the ordinances for them so that we could do the endowment for them as well. So that alone was such an incredible experience. But here comes even greater things. The temple president came to us and talked with us multiple times and I learned so much from him. As we were getting the names printed off he came up to us and started talking about how incredible family history work is in working with non members and how it plays a big role in keeping people strong in the church. Then he came to us again before we began to do the baptisms and told us the story of the Apostles on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). The Apostles do not recognize Christ until He brakes and blesses the bread. They recognize Him and know Him through the ordinances. Their "hearts burn"--they feel of the Spirit and have testimony, but it is through the ordinances that they know Him. It is the same with us. We can know our Heavenly Father so much better when we begin to understand the ordinances through which we can return once again to live with Him. He shared some things with us again as we were waiting to go into our session. I just feel so lucky, privileged, and blessed to have had that opportunity to learn from him. He gave Hermana Burnham and I one of the most sincere compliments as well and this experience really has had such a profound impact on me. I really want to begin to understand more and more, I want to know everything! But alas, patience comes into play again as I learn things little by little. But what an amazing experience that was for me. (oh and p.s. I am going to send the family names to you so that someone can do the ordinances for the husband and then you can finish the sealing!)
Now for the fasting experience. First Sunday of the month, we all know what that means! We talked to all the members in our area and invited them to include missionary work in their fast. Look at the faith of one of our recent converts as I tell you this story. The incredible Hermana Robles. We sent her that text inviting her to fast with us and she responded back asking what it is that she needed to do to take part in the fast, because it would be the first time that she has done it. We explained it to her and she told us she would do it. Then on Sunday around 3:00 she sent us a text that said "Hermanas!!!!!!!! I'm starving, what am I allowed to eat and at what time can I eat my dinner? Help!!!!!" So we responded saying, "Hermana you are so amazing. You have abstained from two meals, please feel free to eat! The work of the Lord will be so blessed solely because of your faith. Thank you so much." She said "Are you sure I can eat now? Don't I have to wait till at least 5? I mean if I already made the sacrifice I'd like to end it as I should." HOW INCREDIBLE IS SHE???!!!!! Wow!!! Her faith is so incredible and our work is going to be so blessed because of her. And SHE is going to be so incredibly blessed!!
All that I have left to say is that I feel so blessed for all of the experiences that I get to have as a missionary. Wow. How am I so lucky to get all of this? I have such an incredible testimony of this work and I know that it changes people's lives. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ is perfect. The people may not be, in fact are not, because no one is perfect. But this church is perfect and I know that it is through the things that we learn in this church and following the plan that we have been given that we can become like our Heavenly Father and one day return to live in His presence. The Church is true!!!!!!!

                             One of my very favorite people!
Love you all and have an awesome week!
Con muchisimo amor, Hermana Hoj