Monday, February 23, 2015

All Because of Him - A Final Testimony

So remember how last week I said we were going to make my last week one of the best? Well, it has come true. The Lord has blessed us tremendously! This has honestly been one of the most amazing weeks of my mission. FULL OF MIRACLES. Get ready,because you may just be crying by the end of this because of the miracles we've seen, I know I'll be crying as I type this.

First off, yesterday was the best Sunday ever! P was confirmed, and D, C, and R all came to church! I just looked out at everyone and I was so filled with joy and gratitude for so many amazing people that have blessed my life. Such a good day.
"C" and her beautiful family
So if you remember, we have been teaching C. She has been thinking a lot about baptism, but there are a few things that were holding her back from baptism. She had a few concerns about the Virgin Mary, and she also needs to get married in order to be baptized. Last week we had an amazing lesson with her about prayer and emphasized the importance of asking the Lord specific questions, and you will receive specific answers. So this is what happened. Hermana Saenz and I were on exchanges with other Hermanas on Tuesday and when I came back on Wednesday we were eating lunch at Subway and she turns to me and says, "I have a picture to show you." So I look at it and it is a marriage license with C and A's names on it! Ahhhh!!! Just wait it keeps getting better. So C dropped A off at work and she got home from school early, so she had time to read and pray. She was praying to know about the Virgin Mary and also about marriage when she heard a knock on the door. She was home alone so she had no idea who it would be. She answered the door, and A was standing there. She asked him "Why aren't you at work?" He didn't even respond to her question and just said "Let's go get married." So they got the marriage license and they are getting married on Wednesday!! C took that experience as a sign that she needs to get baptized, so she will be getting baptized within the next couple of weeks! That is honestly one of the most amazing miracles ever! She was showing the Lord her faith through prayer, and He answered her so immediately! It's amazing too, because A was hesitant about getting married, but something changed his mind--I'm convinced it was the Spirit. :) She also said that she received an answer about the Virgin Mary--she feels that she has been idolizing her too much and needs to change that. The Spirit testifies of truth!!! We are fasting with her right now for her to know when she should get baptized and that she will be able to overcome any doubts that may be put in her path. She is incredible! I said goodbye to them last night, man I am going to miss her and her girls and N so much! I am so happy for her though, that she was able to receive her answer. Now she's getting married and baptized! SO HAPPY!!!!!!

Then, that very same day, guess what else happened? We set a baptismal date with D!! She's going to get baptized on March 14th!!! We taught her the Plan of Salvation--I love teaching that lesson. She was soaking it in like a sponge and LOVED it. It made so much sense to her. Because it's true! Before we could even ask her the question about getting baptized, she said "Sisters, I know what you're going to ask, and I think I'm ready." Ahhh!!! MIRACLES!!!! I was absolutely blown away by how many amazing things were happening, and the Lord was in it all. We taught the Plan twice that day and both times they each told us, "You all are really good." I just looked at them and said "It's not us. It's the Spirit." That is something that really really hit me this week. I had the opportunity to finish el Libro de Mormon for the last time as a missionary on Sunday and I was so humbled and so filled with God's love. I focused on the fruits of the Spirit as I read it this time. As I read Ether 12:27 it made me think about another scripture in Jacob 4:7 which says, 
"Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things." As I read that, it hit me that everything that I have seen, experienced, and done while on my mission wasn't because of me. The Lord did it all. I am nothing without Him! I was filled with an inexpressible gratitude for Him because everything that has happened while on my mission is all because of Him. I owe everything to Him--everything. I realized that I came on my mission deeply indebted to my Savior, and that I will come back owing Him even more. I cannot possibly express to you the joy I feel representing Jesus Christ as a full time missionary. As I come home I do not intend to stop representing Him. When He asked me to be His disciple, it wasn't just for the 18 months that I am a missionary, it was for time and all eternity. I will strive to represent Him my entire life, because I love Him. I owe Him everything. I am more sure than ever before that He lives and that He is my Savior and Redeemer. I am full of joy and full of gratitude. As I have studied the fruits of the Spirit, I have been filled with them. I cannot tell you the joy that has filled my soul as I have served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that this church is true. I have no doubt about it. I honestly just don't even know how to express the feelings I have right now. I am so happy to be a missionary!!! 
                I will always love the people I have served with in Houston!
 So, I will end with this.                                                                    
"I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."
It is all I can do right now to pour my heart out in gratitude to God for all that He has done for me. My heart is overflowing. I will praise His name forever. GOD IS GOOD.
I love you all so much and want to thank you for the amazing support that you have been to me while I have served. I couldn't have done it without you. I LOVE YOU ALL!! See you soon! :) 
Con muchisisisisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj


Monday, February 16, 2015

THE SECOND TO LAST. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Hola a todos!
I hope that all is well with y'all! It sounds like you are staying busy and enjoying life! I'm excited to tell you a little bit about some of the experiences we had this week.

Our Valentine treat boxes from the Spanish Primary
How awesome is that?!
On Tuesday we had Zone Conference--always such an uplifting experience! We talked about the third lesson, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how to master teach it. So we did a lot of role plays. :) We also got a new little machine for our cars called the what it does is keeps us safe. haha It monitors our speed, if we stop, accelerate, or turn too fast, and if we have our seat belts on. It warns us if we are going to fast or tells us that we are driving aggressively. haha But, we are doing great! It hasn't chastised us yet! So we're trying to drive really good. Sometimes we get honked at for going too slow, but we're being obedient so all is well. haha This was also my last Zone Conference, so I gave my departing testimony--that was so weird. I remember sitting in my first Zone Conference listening to the departing missionaries share their testimonies, and then in the blink of an eye it was my turn. How did that happen?! The Lord has and is blessing me so so much! I am so grateful for that. So let me tell you more about the miracles we have seen this week regardless of the trials we have been facing.
P's Baptism
First off, we had the best Valentine's Day ever--filled with God's love! P was baptized!!! It was such a happy day, such a happy experience! Hermana Saenz and I both had the opportunity to speak at his baptism. I spoke on baptism and she spoke on the Holy Ghost. It was such a privilege for me, and I was learning so much as I prepared--my testimony was strengthened and I was reminded of the importance of the covenants we make at baptism. At the end of the baptism, the 6 missionaries in our ward sung Mas Cerca Dios de Ti (Nearer My God to Thee) for the closing hymn, and wow was the Spirit strong. I looked out at P, C, and J as we were singing and it was obvious to see the Spirit they were feeling. They were smiling, and P's eyes were teary. It was such a beautiful experience. I am so grateful that God permitted me to still be here to take part in his baptism. It is so amazing to see the change that the Spirit and the power of the Atonement cause. During my mission I have been able to see that in many others, and especially in myself. It's truly a miracle! Unfortunately, they got food poisoning and couldn't make it to church on Sunday, so he has to wait until next week to be confirmed. A lot of our progressing investigators got sick this week and weren't able to come to church. :( But that's okay, they'll be able to come next week. But...guess who DID come to church? R!!! Yay!!! It was her first time being there in months, and she was so happy to be there. She was just beaming, and it made my whole day to see her there. C was there too, and we were able to visit with her yesterday and had an awesome lesson with her. She's going to get baptized soon! We were able to recognize and solve some of her concerns with baptism, and you could tell there was a change of confidence within her. Her sister N is so awesome too. N is the only member in her family and she is working and praying so hard for her sister! So amazing. I love them so much! Such a wonderful family!
Hermana Nunez . . . . I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!!!!
Here is my big learning moment of the week. Yesterday started off a little rough for the two of us. We were really sad about P not being able to come to church when he was supposed to get the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then some things just kept getting thrown on top of us and we just felt like we weren't able to help everyone with their needs. We felt as if we were letting a lot of people down, and so we were very frustrated with ourselves. We had been asked to teach the Relief Society lesson in the English ward though, and the lesson was made for us. I'm telling you, it was absolutely exactly what we needed. It was called "Living Joyfully in Troubled Times." As we were going through that experience, that was the only thing that I could think about, and it helped me so much. There was so much in that lesson that just applied exactly to us in that situation and to my situation as well with my mission coming to an end. I have a testimony that the gospel is the solution to our happiness. I felt that more profoundly yesterday than perhaps during my entire life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we need to be TRULY happy! "Happiness must be earned from day to day. But it is worth the effort." How true that is! Make the effort to choose happiness every day of your lives, and seek that happiness from our Savior Jesus Christ. "Be cheerful in all that you do. Live joyfully. Live happily. Live enthusiastically, knowing that God does not dwell in gloom and melancholy, but in light and love." ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT!!! Seek happiness in all that you do and you will be utterly filled with the Savior's love. That is my goal this week. I'm going to make the last week of my mission the best, and the happiest that I've had so far. We're going to finish this off strong. I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers and love. YOU ARE THE BEST!!!
Hermana Hoj

Monday, February 9, 2015

So much work to do! So little time left!

Buenos dias familia! Espero que todos esten bien!
So we are here doing all that we can to bring people closer to the Lord! We have had another great week and are working as hard as we can. Ahora les contare los milagros de este semana.
First of all, all of these miracles have come with the power of fasting and prayer. Our Zone decided to do a week long fast to find and progress families. Hermana Saenz and I started the fast on Monday and then another companionship would fast Tuesday, another Wednesday, another Thursday, so on so forth. So it was a week long continuous fast, and it brought so many miracles!!
Milagro uno con nuestro investigador que esta progresando en nuestro barrio de espanol. P passed the baptismal interview and is getting baptized on Saturday!! :) yay yay yay!!! He really has changed so much, you can even see the difference in his countenance. The Elder that interviewed him came out and said that he passed 100%. haha But he said that it was one of the best interviews he's ever been able to be a part of--he said P is completely ready. P is so willing to accept and live the teachings of the gospel and I know that he and his family will be forever blessed! Speaking of forever families...yesterday our mission had the first ever Houston Texas Temple Tours!! President Mortensen and the mission presidency have been working with the temple President to create a tour of the temple grounds to explain more about what the temple is, what goes on there, etc. Missionaries bring investigators, members bring friends, and everyone is uplifted! It was a really amazing experience, we went with P and his wife, Hermana Cantu, and her daughter Jocelyn. The temple is so beautiful! I think it was really amazing for them to see the temple and know that in a year they can go there and be sealed as a family. When we were taking pictures I told them that we'll have this picture and then put it next to the one when we all come back for their sealing and say "One year later." SO AMAZING!!!! Yesterday over 200 people showed up, and many investigators decided with the Spirit that was there that they wanted to be baptized. What an amazing experience!
Pictures from the temple tours
Another miracle this week came from when we were teaching one of our new investigators, S. She is from Trinidad and Tobago and really is such a sweet woman. We introduced the Book of Mormon to her this week and found out that she already had one! We were like "What?! How did you get a Book of Mormon?" She told us that she was once staying in a hotel and found a Book of Mormon in the drawer, and she really wanted to learn about it. There are no coincidences with God! She really is so sweet, she keeps telling us that we were two angels that knocked on her door. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ will help her get closer to the Lord and that she will be able to find so much happiness!
We made some really good progress with R this week too. She struggles with the Word of Wisdom and we really want to help her overcome her addiction so that she can continue progressing. Last time she tried to quit everything I think it became a little overwhelming and she didn't feel like she could do it all at once. So we are starting little by little with her. We started with her tea and took all of that from her, and she really does want to give it up. I know that she can overcome everything, she just needs to have more faith in the Lord and more faith in herself. We love her so much!
C is doing well too, she came to church and we also visited with her and her family yesterday. We taught them about the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. We are praying that C and her boyfriend will decide to get married! I know that C really wants to, and her boyfriend is a good guy too so I hope that they can work it out. They are such incredible people and I know that as they follow the commandments their girls will see their examples and learn from them.
Cr came to church again too, and we visited with her this last week as well! It was really awesome because we were able to invite her husband to sit and talk with all of us as well, so we will be teaching the whole family! YAY!!! I'm telling you, eternal families are the greatest gift! There is so much potential for them too!
So that's about it this week! Amazing things are happening here in Houston. Miracles are abounding, hearts are changing, and life is good. Well, GOD IS GOOD. As always. Please keep these people in your prayers this week. Pray for P that all will go well with his baptism, pray for C that she can get married, pray for R to overcome her addictions, and pray for these families to be unified and strong so that they can be made eternal! I love you all and I am so grateful for your support and love and prayers. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj

Monday, February 2, 2015

"I like to ride my bicycle, I like to ride my bike . . . . . . "

Okay everyone....hold on. This letter is going to be crazy and disorganized but full of wonderful things! So try to bear with me and try to follow me as I tell you all about this week. There was A LOT that happened.

So this week started off a little rough for me. There is a lot of change coming my way and I just want more than anything to finish my mission strong and with the least amount of distractions as possible. I also know that I need to accept what's coming my way. Let's just say that Satan had a hold of my thoughts this week and was doing all that he could to discourage me and make me belittle myself. He was trying to make me think that with this little time left I couldn't make a difference in anyone's life. The part that was most frustrating about it was that I knew it wasn't true! For a little while though, my mind could not let it go. I prayed and prayed and prayed for the ability to change my mindset, and finally after a long 3 days it did. And after that, whooo what amazing miracles we did see! I was thinking about how the Lord will not give us trials greater than we can bear, and that we can get through them if we turn to Him. That is always, always the case! So I saw that this last week, and my testimony of that grew even more. 

The first thing that I think helped me change that the most was MLC. So so amazing!! We talked a lot about overcoming fear, and having confidence in ourselves/helping others gain more confidence. We read a talk from President Uchtdorf called "Fear Not, I Am With Thee." Wow, it is amazing! I love MLC's, and I am sad that it was my last one. But I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to go to the ones I did. I learn so much from them. So later that night, Hermana Saenz and I put that overcoming fear pep-talk to use! We were contacting in some apartments and we saw this guy blasting rap, covered in tattoos, etc. We debated whether or not we should talk to him, but we decided that we needed to. And good thing we did!! We taught him the Restoration lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon! He recently got out of jail and he told us that he had seen that book in prison and really wanted to learn more about it. Then, we showed up and gave it to him. There really are no coincidences with the Lord. 
The beautiful downtown Houston skyline
A free library for anyone to come borrow a book
Of course we contributed the Book of Mormon!
So this week we ran out of our limited allotment of miles for the month...something very common among us missionaries. haha So we had some awesome adventures contacting! On Friday we walked all day and we went to the very border of our area....DOWNTOWN HOUSTON. We talked to a lot of people along the way and took lots of pictures too. It was so awesome just contacting like crazy! We loved it. I will send pictures with captions of some of the things we did there. But here's a crazy story (another there are no coincidences with God story) There was a mural that we wanted a picture by, and there was a woman standing there with a camera, so we asked her to take a picture for us. (we figured she probably knew what she was doing) After, we got talking and she told us that she used to see missionaries like us exercising in the gym at her apartment every morning. She remembered there was one that was always so happy and so friendly and she was amazed by that because it was so early in the morning. She said she lives in Spring, and I started thinking....that was my first area....turns out, it was Hermana Driesel and I! (So that goes to show that missionaries still make an impact on people after they leave their missions. Way to go Hermana Driesel!) So that was awesome! It was a fun day though!
Then the next day, we still didn't have what did we do? We biked a total of 22 miles! It was so much fun. I felt like such a missionary. :) I think that Sisters on bikes probably attract more attention than the Elders because everyone is thinking....who is crazy enough to ride a bike in a skirt?! haha we had so much fun! We were biking in the ghetto though...and that made it even more fun. :) haha I turned to Hermana Saenz and said "If only our moms knew what we were doing right now..." haha but don't worry mom. We are being safe and following the Spirit. While in the process of biking we also contacted almost triple the people we did the day before! So we feel pretty happy about that. The second half of this week I truly just felt swallowed up in the joy of missionary work. There was a big difference for me between the first part of this week and the second. I'm grateful that I can recognize that difference though! And I am grateful that I experienced the hard part, because then the good part wouldn't have been nearly as great. 
Lots of amazing murals in Houston
Rockin' the bike helmet
As far as investigators go, we had two amazing lessons with A this week! We taught him about family history and temple work and he looooved it! He thought it was so amazing that he can still help people after they have passed away. And it IS amazing! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!!!!! C is progressing really well too, she came to church again and everything. We're having a hard time getting them to commit to baptism--it's something they want to do, but they just want to be sure of it before they make the decision. But I know they'll both get there! We also had a lady come to church yesterday with her 3 kids and she is looking for a "home-base church" in her own words. They stayed for all three hours! We're going to start teaching her this next week. We are so excited! WE ARE SO BLESSED!! Being a missionary is the best thing a person could ever want. Yes, it's hard. Yes it's a lot of work. But oh it is soooooo rewarding! I hope that you can all feel a little bit of the joy I get to experience as I share my experiences with you. It's so hard to describe it, it's just something that you have to feel. I love this work. These last 3 weeks are going to be amazing.


Con muchisisisisimo amor,
Hermana Hoj