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


Monday, October 6, 2014

Walking in Faith

Our board we made to advertise conference on campus
What a great weekend we have had, right? General Conference makes me so so happy and I am always so sad when it ends. Especially this one. It hit me that it will be the last time I watch it while I am on my mission. :( But it was wonderful, so I was definitely not disappointed! I loved how there was so much emphasis on seeking and finding truth for ourselves. It has become pretty evident to me that we need to have a firm foundation, a strong testimony while we are in these times! I think that so often we assume that "praying to know the truth for ourselves" is referring to the Book of Mormon being true, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints being true--which it can be. But I think we fail to realize that praying to know the truth for ourselves can be applied in any situation to any question that we have! That is something that really hit me this week as I am searching for added truth and insight for how to gain more faith. It is such a basic thing, but something that I have found myself working on over and over and over and over again throughout my mission. I always get to a point where I think my faith is doing pretty well, and then all of a sudden I realize that I need to increase my faith a whole lot more than I thought. Sometimes it is because of a different set of circumstances that I am put in, trials that I am facing, or sometimes the Lord is trying to humble me a little bit and help me recognize that I need His help! I like to think that I can be pretty independent and that I can do things on my own without anyone else's help. That is some pretty awful pride, huh? haha I am learning that I can't!! What I can do on my own is NEVER what I can do when I ask the Lord for help. He reminds me of that every so often...and thank goodness He does! Because I truly cannot do anything without Him! So that is my goal for the next little while, to have more faith and to trust more in the Lord. If any of you have any insight or things that have worked for you to help you gain more faith, I would love to hear it! 

This has truly been another great week though. We had MLC (which is always sooo inspiring!), we went with Matt to the temple for his first time (and we all found family names to take with us! He started his family history and already found a line that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve! haha he was so excited!), we had Zone Meeting, we volunteered at a 5K race, had General Conference, taught people, saw the biggest goat and pig I have ever seen, and had lots of miracles! A few YSA were able to come to Conference, as well as Matt's mom. It was a successful week!
One of my favorite miracles from this week is when we taught a YSA girl named Xi. She is from China so she does not have any religious background. She believes that there is something watching over us, but she doesn't know if it is a someone or if God exists. It was such an interesting lesson for me, because I have never taught anyone with that perspective--it kind of threw me at first. I've been so used to teaching people that already have a lot of faith in God, and then all of a sudden we were explaining the concept of God--what and who He is. I know that the lesson was led by the Spirit, because I was learning right along side her as we taught. She was very confused as to how you could know that God really exists. We explained how in order to get to know someone you have to talk to them and ask them questions. It is the same thing with God! As we talk to Him through prayer, we are able to create a relationship with Him and then we can come to know that He is really there. We asked her to pray at the end of the lesson and it was one of the sweetest, most simple and sincere prayers I have ever heard. She said "Dear God, this is Xi. Please let me know if you really exist, I want to know. I want to find an answer. Amen." These are some of the best moments for me on my mission--being able to hear someone pray for the first time. The Spirit is always so strong and you feel of their desire and sincerity. There just aren't words to explain it the way I want to! Throughout my mission I find that I am constantly learning about prayer, and as I strive to understand how I can better know God, I realize that my prayers are where it all begins. I have to talk to Him and ask Him questions. I need to be sincere and share with Him my feelings. This experience that we had with Xi was such a miracle--for her as well as for me. I needed that reminder! I am so grateful to be a missionary, and I am so grateful that I am able to have these experiences with others. There is no where else that I could find these experiences except on my mission. What a blessing it is to be a missionary for the Lord. It is the greatest and most humbling privilege! That's all I've got for this week, I love you all and wish you the best with all that is going on in your lives! You are wonderful!!

Hermana Hoj