Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What a fulfilling work!

Yes, missionary work is oh so fulfilling. What a week, and can I just say that having the experiences of a missionary is absolutely priceless. There is no where else that I could learn all that I am learning right now. And I am so glad that I'm learning it now, and not later on! Not all the things that I am learning are easy to learn, in fact casi 100% of it is hard. But wow is it fulfilling. All of the things that are hard are so worth it in the end. We are stretched, strengthened, and have the experience to recognize the Lord's hand in everything we do if we choose to do so. President Pingree challenged all of the missionaries to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover with this question in mind:
 "How can I use the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement?" As I have started to do this I am learning so much. I've learned the importance of obedience, faith, giving thanks, and so much more. All of these little things play such a big role in understanding and applying the Atonement for ourselves. When I was reading in 1 and 2 Nephi I was really drawn to Nephi's reaction to adversity in comparison to Laman and Lemuel's reaction. There are two verses that really stuck out to me this week, and I was able to apply what I learned into my own life. So, here goes.
So as Lehi's family is traveling in the wilderness from Jerusalem they go through a whole lot of hard things. Lack of food, getting lost in the desert, death, and a lot of strain on their relationships with one another. Laman and Lemuel are angry with their father and younger brother Nephi the majority of the time they are on their journey. They get so upset that they even want to kill them multiple times. They use cords to tie up Nephi and decide to leave him behind to be devoured by beasts. Then, this is what Nephi says: 
17 But it came to pass that prayed unto the Lord, saying: Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me astrength that may bburst these bands with which am bound.
 18 And it came to pass that when had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again. 
I find it so incredible that Nephi doesn't ask the Lord to break the cords for him, but rather he recognizes the importance of doing it himself. He doesn't say "Lord, please release me from these cords, I can't take it anymore!" Instead he asks the Lord to give him the strength, give him the means to do it himself. Because of the faith that he had in the Lord, he was strengthened and was able to loose the bands. This week I had an experience where I had kind of hit my limit and thought to myself "I can't take it anymore!" I was frustrated, felt inadequate, and just wanted to cry out for help. In this moment, I remembered what I had learned a few days earlier from Nephi's example, knelt before the Lord and poured out everything that was in my heart. I didn't ask Him to take away the things that were difficult for me, but was able to ask for the strength to get through it. I couldn't have done it without His help. It really made me think about our reactions to adversity. When those hard times come--when Satan's temptations are swarming us, when we feel discouraged, weak, and are at our breaking point--do we ask "Why me?" or do we recognize that these steps are necessary for us to become more like the Lord? Do we ask to have them taken away from us, or do we ask for the strength to overcome them? It has really made me think, and I am learning how important it is to put my confidence in the Lord. So like I said, it is hard--but oh is it fulfilling!!

And...one of the most exciting parts of this week....Rebecca was baptized and confirmed a member of the church!!!!!! It was such a beautiful experience, one that I will never forget. We walked her up to the font and were able to stand on the side and wait for her to come back out. As I watched her walk into the water my eyes filled with tears, and the love I felt for her was indescribable. The Spirit was so strong and we were all filled with pure joy. If we feel like that, I can't even begin to imagine how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel to watch a person enter into that covenant. I feel so blessed that the Lord allowed me to be here at this time to witness her experience. The Spirit is the best teacher and testifier of the truth, and when a person is ready, they can recognize that too. She is so beautiful and such a special daughter of God. I am so happy for her and I love her so much!! I will never forget the feelings of joy and happiness and the Spirit that I felt. SO FULFILLING. 

So that's all for me this week. I hope everything is good at home. Jake and Erin, congrats on the graduation! Thanks to all of you for your support, love, and advice. I love you all more than you could possibly know!

Hermana Hoj

Monday, April 21, 2014

One very special Easter Sunday


 My giant Easter basket!
Happy late Easter to everyone! Isn't it such an amazing holiday? I've had some incredible experiences this week, and I'm excited to share them with you. (Oh and thank you for the little surprise Easter gift. Loved the card too!) But first I just want to tell you about some funny things that happened this week. First off, my bishop went to Utah to drop his daughter off at the MTC. I called him a couple days ago to ask him a question and he asks me, Does your family have a forklift company? haha He saw the billboard and thought, well there can't be too many Hoj's. So that was a funny coincidence. Then this one I was cracking up. So random and I don't really know why I'm sharing it with you, but I thought it was so funny. We were at a member's house this week with one of our investigators teaching a lesson and I had to go to the bathroom. So I walk into the bathroom and saw the book Twilight sitting next to the toilet and something was written on the cover. I assumed it was for people to read while they were in the bathroom, but then I got closer and read it, and guess what it said? Emergency toilet paper. hahahahahaha I was just cracking up, me, myself, and I in the bathroom. hahaha hopefully no one gets too offended by that but I just thought it was funny. 

                          Another crazy Texas mailbox - one of my favorites!
Okay, now to the serious stuff. Here are a few miracles of the week. There is a less active family in our ward that we have been working with,the mom and the daughters have been coming to church more, but I still haven't met their dad. They have all been baptized, but when they moved from Mexico the records for their two daughters were lost. So they need to be re-baptized. The dad said that he wanted to shape up to be able to baptize them, but he hasn't been showing much interest in changing, so we have been a little stuck. We were able to meet them this week, and she called her husband and he gave permission for the Elders to baptize the girls! We were so excited, and now we have a baptismal date set for them as well! So we hope that he doesn't change his mind and that they will be able to get baptized the 10 of May! Yesterday at church we also had miracles. 3 less actives (and I mean really less actives) came to church! I don't know if it was just because it was Easter, but we had visited them just a few days earlier in the week and invited them to come again. So that was a miracle! One of them is the sassiest 15 year old I've ever met, Mercedes, and I just love her to death. She did not want to come to church, but we convinced her. She came and while we were talking to her after I asked, "How was church?" Her response made me smile, and made my whole day. She said "I feel so happy! It really is amazing what the Spirit can do. I seriously almost cried in one of my classes!" So needless to say, by the end of it she was really happy she went. I think she was nervous about people saying "where have you been?" or "look who decided to show up." But it was the complete opposite, everyone responded with such love and were so happy to see her there again. So that was a great miracle.
                                          Love this family!
It's so interesting to look back on every week and recognize all the things that you have learned. This week has been huge for me. I have had some really interesting experiences this week that have caused me to reflect on how I have used the Atonement in my life. I have never been so grateful for the Savior, and as we celebrated His life yesterday my testimony was strengthened even more. Everything that I have I owe to Him. Sometimes I wish there was more I could do to try to even out the debt between us, but then I remember that as I strive to do my very best and help others come to know Him and understand His Atonement, that will be enough for Him. That's all that He asks of us. Seems pretty small in comparison, doesn't it? Yesterday was a very special day for me as the Spirit testified to me as I testified to others of the divinity and life of Jesus Christ. We shared The Living Christ a few times, and it really hit me--all that He did for us, who He is, and most importantly--that He lives. Right now I have the most amazing opportunity to be a representative of Him and testify of Him every single day. Yesterday was really special to be able to testify of Him as I am a representative of Him. I am blessed to have such an amazing, incredible, and unique opportunity. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I will forever be grateful for Jesus Christ, for the life He lived here on the earth, and for the fact that He still lives. I know that because of Him, one day I can return and live once again in the presence of Him and Heavenly Father. What a glorious day that will be. I hope that you all were able to take a moment yesterday to appreciate all that the Savior has done for you, and express your sincere love to Him. I know with all my heart that He loves each and everyone of you perfectly. He will always be there to help you, His love is perfect, infinite, and simply always there, whether it is something we feel we deserve or not. It is always, always there. And, I hope that you all know how much I love each and every one of you! You are in my prayers every day! I hope the last little bit of school ends well for everyone! Good luck! And when the moments get tough, remember that I'm here praying for you. haha I don't know if that's much motivation, but know that I love you all. Have a great week!!

Love love love love love
Hermana Hoj




Monday, April 14, 2014

God is Good! - Round Two

Hey there!
Things here in Louetta are amazing and just keep getting better! The Lord is definitely blessing us! This week has seriously been full of miracles, but to begin I'm going to tell a funny story. Yesterday between church and ward council we went knocking in an apartment complex. This is what I learned. Sunday afternoons are not the best time to knock, because people are lazy and answer the door as they are. 3 men on one floor answered the door with their shirts off and we were just having none of it. We're standing there trying to invite them to come unto Christ, and they just stand there half naked without the decency to put on a shirt! haha it was pretty funny and pretty uncomfortable too. Let's just say missionaries are sheltered from the world....haha sorry, now on to the miracles.
First off, we have two baptismal dates! Yay!!! One is with "R", and she is honestly the most prepared person I have ever taught.She came with all of the questions in the back of the folleto of the Plan of Salvation all filled out and essentially taught us. I mean, who actually does that? Someone who is so prepared and has a desire to follow God and be baptized. That's her for sure! So we explained the things she didn't understand and she just is so incredible! We have set a date for the 26th of April with her! So please keep her in your prayers so that she will be able to reach her goal. Also, can I just say how crucial members are in missionary work? We are teaching her in member's homes and it is so amazing to see how they are able to fellowship and help her where we as missionaries can't. She came to church on Sunday again and she is just the most incredible, sweetest woman in the world.
Then, the second date we have is for an 11 year old girl. We got permission (and are hoping to help her mom get there too)so hopefully her dad will give permission as well. So please keep them in your prayers! The way we set her date was a complete miracle in and of itself. We have been trying to get in with them ever since I came to this area and have never been able to. We were almost about to drop them. We were planning to visit a member who lived by them, but as we were about to knock on their door we saw her walk past with her hands full, looked back to their car and also saw her mom with bags and a basket full of clothes. I asked if they needed help and regardless of what they said, just picked up the bag and started walking. As we brought the clothes to their apartment the mom said "Pasenle" and she let us in!! I began talking with the mom, and Hermana Baxter with her daughter. I had an awesome conversation with her mom, she already knows a lot about the church, and I really hope we can continue to teach her! Hermana Baxter had been reading with her daughter from the children's Book of Mormon and she turned to us and said, "Your daughter wants to get baptized, is that okay with you?" She said yes!She just wants her to know what it is that she is doing, and understand it before she is baptized. We assured her that we will take time to teach her, because we don't want someone to enter into that sacred covenant with God if they're going to break it from a lack of understanding. So, needless to say, GOD IS GOOD. To continue with miracles, we found new investigators, had unexpected member present lessons, knocked into an inactive member, the list goes on and on. So again, GOD IS GOOD. We are so blessed and I love being a missionary!
  Our "teachable" children. Aren't they adorable?!

Also, why isn't everyone as teachable as children? I am really beginning to understand the invitation the Savior has given us to become as little children, they are so pure and filled with so much love. One night this week our appointment fell through and we didn't
know what we should do. As we were walking, we saw a little girl who is member of our ward playing with her friend outside. We went up and said hi to them and we ended up reading from the kid's Book of Mormon with them (that book is amazing!) and sung I am a Child of God. After we finished singing, about 6 more kids came up to us and we were just able to read the stories with them and take pictures. Ahhh I love little kids!!! I really want to be able to become like them, so teachable and humble.
So I'm going to end with a great scripture. Mosiah 3:19 "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, een as a child doth submit to his father."
So, let us all try to apply that to our lives. I love you all and hope that you are doing well! Good luck to everyone with school! LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Hoj

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Purpose our Lives

Hey there mi querida familia!

                                            The Birthday Girl!
Whoa. Yep. I'm 20. haha So I had a great birthday and want to thank you for your additions as well! I loved it all and feel so blessed to be so loved. You are all remarkable!! I ate lots and lots of cake to say the least...my companion and room mates made me cake, and then I went to dinner at a members house that night and they fed me homemade alfredo and then more cake! haha So I'm all sugared out this week and for that reason have decided to go off of sugar for awhile. So mom, that means no more candy, okay? haha I'm not going to eat it, so keep sending me the things you sent me in the birthday package. So my birthday was great, my companion helped make sure it was a good one for me, she is so caring and loving and I am learning lots of things from her. So it was definitely a good day, and a good week too.

I don't know about you, but I have been spiritually edified. So the majority of this letter is going to be centered on General Conference because it is the best. I have loved every moment of it and almost cried when it was over. But, in another six months we'll get it again! I watched three of the sessions in conference, and one in Spanish which was really good for me. It forced me to think more simply, and rather than writing down what they said word for word I was able to write down the thoughts and impressions that came to my mind as a result of their words. I was trying to do that all of conference, but didn't quite get it until that one in Spanish. All of the talks were so incredible and I learned so much. I really loved Elder Bednar's talk though, He testified so strongly of the Atonement and was able to illustrate it so well through his example. I loved that he said the burdens we have are not taken away from us, rather we are made stronger to lift them with more ease. We must learn from and accept our circumstances rather than begging the Lord to change them. It really made me think, do I apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ every day of my life? There are so many ways to do so if we will constantly turn our thoughts to the Lord, and remember that there is nothing we will go through that the Savior did not first experience. So incredible. For one of the sessions we sat with two girls that are in our ward, and what an example they are to me! One of them, (she's 11) was writing such inspired notes, and they were so simple, yet so powerful. There was one thing she wrote down that really hit me and I've been thinking about it a lot since. Usually as missionaries we recite our purpose all the time and we are thinking about our purpose, teaching our purpose, and constantly asking ourselves "What is my purpose?" She wrote something down around these lines, but instead of writing down Live our Purpose, she wrote "Purpose our Lives." I've really been pondering this over and over and over again. We have been given a purpose, and we may recognize it, but that is to no avail if we do not live it. We must at all times add a purpose to our lives, but a purpose centered around our Savior Jesus Christ. I've been thinking about what I can do to continually "purpose my life" and it's so interesting and so inspiring! So I invite all of you to think about that. How will you purpose your lives? Think about it and let me know your thoughts. I love you all more than you could ever know! (and I know I say that alllll the time, but it doesn't make it any less true.) LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!! 

Hermana Hoj

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lovin' Louetta! (And Hermana Hoj is no longer a teenager!)

Hey there!

  My new companion Hermana Baxter from Maple Valley, Washington

Hope everything is going well with all of you. Thanks for all of your emails and the birthday wishes! I don't know if I'll have time today to reply to everyone, so if I don't know that I love and appreciate you all! I'm sorry to hear about Ann Ostler, if you can please send my love their way and let them know they're in my prayers. How wonderful is it that when hard things like that happen in our lives we have the gospel knowledge that we need to get through those moments. I don't know what I would do without that knowledge. Hopefully I will be able to help others recognize that!!
So to answer all of your questions. I have been transferred to the ward of Louetta and I absolutely loooove it! I have already had multiple people tell me that they're all my family and that I've got a lot of moms to take care of me here. So I am being well taken care of! The people here are incredible and I am so so excited to work with all of them. We were pretty busy this week with a ward talent show, a baptism (the other sisters in our area), and the general women's broadcast (which by the way made me soooooo excited for Conference!! EEE!!! I love conference, especially as a missionary), so we have been doing lots to keep us busy! My new companion is Hermana Baxter from Maple Valley Washington, she is 19, and has been out for about 4 months I think. She is super fun and loving, she's got a lot of energy and is very happy. She just finished her training, and now I get to be with her! We live in an apartment with two English sisters as well, so it's a lot of fun! I'm just starting to get to know the area, I'm the driver so it's been a little harder adjusting to everything quickly and know all the places to go, but it's coming along and we've had some awesome lessons and incredible experiences already. But, needless to say, I am very very grateful for the GPS. haha Also, I am closer to Houston, and I have now become a minority. This area is so different from my first, but I am loving it all the same. In my first area it was difficult to find those who spoke Spanish, and now I'm one of the very few "gringos". Ah I love it so much! I feel like I have changed so much in this past week, almost more than I have my whole mission for some reason. It's kind of nice getting a change of scenery because I feel like I was kind of stuck in the way I was in the Woodlands. This is the first time I've been with a companion who hasn't been out longer than I have, so it's been a really good growing experience for me--I feel like I've had to step it up in my Spanish, my teaching, and more than anything relying on the Spirit. The Lord has blessed me so much this past week and I have seen an incredible amount of growth as I've learned to become more reliant on Him. I have noticed a lot of blessings that he has given me. For example: my Spanish is by no means perfect, but it has become a lot better. I am able to understand people a lot better (especially on the phone which is a miracle!) and I feel like I am able to say more too. I don't know what it is, but I think just having a little added responsibility has whipped me into shape. I still have such a long way to go though. But this week has been such a big change, it's been harder, but I am seeing the growth that the Lord is blessing me with already. Hopefully I can keep that going!  
                                                   My new bed!
And now for a couple stories from this week.
We were visiting a member of our bishopric and as we were sitting there sharing a scripture and message with them there was a knock on the door. He gets up to answer it and as I'm sitting there on the couch with my scriptures open, looking towards the door, a man begins talking to Hermano about sacrament and Easter. haha I wanted to laugh, but at the same time I was like...oh wait, that's what we do every day! He saw us and was like "oh..." and awkwardly finished and walked away. haha love the experiences we get as missionaries. 

Coolest miracle ever. My first Sunday in my new ward and a guy comes up to me and says "I'm from another ward, but I have an investigator with me today. I work with her and we've been having some of the lessons in my house, but she lives in your area. She's super solid and wants to get baptized." Whoa. Right? So we sit with her in sacrament meeting and she is perhaps the sweetest lady I have ever met. Her name is Rebecca, and like he said, SHE IS SOLID. She asked if we could show her the baptismal font too. There was a baptism the day before so we said "This is the font! They were baptized here last night." Then she replied "Right, and I'm going to be next!" AAAAHHHH!!! Talk about a miracle!! The Lord is preparing people, and is helping us find them! So we're hoping to keep working with her towards baptism super soon! She is awesome. So, life is good. It has definitely been an adjustment, but how are we supposed to grow if we aren't being challenged? The Lord is incredible and I feel so much of His love for me every day, and even more amazing I have the opportunity to feel of the love He has for other people too. I never want this to end!! Being a missionary is such an incredible experience! 

Much love, 
Your old daughter and sister Hermana Hoj. (how in the WORLD am I going to be 20?! Ugh....)
P.S.  I'm emailing in a college right now...and I don't like it at all. I don't know how I'm going to go back and not be a complete weirdo. So just be expecting that from me when I get home alright? haha love ya.