Archive | April, 2014

Hello

29 Apr

So normally I bring my journal with me to emailing and I just copy stories out of there, but I forgot it today! So I’m working off of memory for this week, so hopefully I’m able to recall everything. The weather was kinda cloudy and drizzly all week, but not terrible. We woke up to six inches of snow today though! I guess that’s just an end of April norm here in Montana, haha.

Is it really necessary for it to snow at the end of April? Apparently so in Montana.

Is it really necessary for it to snow at the end of April? Apparently so in Montana.

It was my first official, full week here in Bozeman, and it was a pretty good week! Last Monday, we went on a hike as a zone. The university here in town has a big “M” on the side of the mountain, kinda like BYU’s “Y”. There were two paths up- the extreme one and the easy switchback one (as we learned later). Unsure of which to take because we thought they were the same, some one said, “Choose the Right!” and we ended up on the really steep one on the right! I thought I was gonna dieeeee. Haha. It was pretty fun though, and definitely worth it once we got to the top. Then one of the elders accidentally dropped his football, and we watched it bounce the entire way down the mountain… hahaha, it was awesome. I was impressed that he found and recovered it later!

On Tuesday, we had our first district meeting of the transfer, but we were missing two companionships because of Mission Leadership Council meeting. So there were only three companionships there! Pretty small. The Cody District that I came from had seven companionships, so even just having five feels a lot smaller. It’s all good though. Oh man, I totally can’t remember at all what happened on each day, so I’ll just give you an overall look at my week.

Our investigator is definitely getting baptized this Saturday!! We taught her all of the commandments in two lessons this week- whew! We were worried about getting everything taught in time, especially cause she’s been really sick this weekend. Our Zone Leaders were super inspired though and suggested that we try doing a FaceTime lesson with here. We were able to set it up, and it went perfectly! It is amazing the tools we now have at our hands as missionaries. Even with all the challenges this week with trying to meet with her, she is such a powerful example to me of having a desire to change and acting on it. I just love her to death! Her testimony is amazing. The baptism is this Saturday at 3pm, and then she invited us to her family dinner afterwards.

Car selfie.

Car selfie.

I had a pretty cool experience teaching a lesson this week. First off, we had exchanges this week with our Sister Training Leaders, but instead of actually exchanging, we did a “trio exchange” where one of them just came with us for a couple days. Well, during this exchange, Sister Jones got a stomach bug and we were going to have to miss one of our appointments. Not wanting to have to cancel, we called up a ward member and I went out on splits with here while Sister Steck stayed with Sister Jones. It was super nerve-wracking going on splits because (1) it was my first time going on splits and (2) I had never met the less-active we were teaching! The Lord blessed me with a “go-and-do” attitude that night though, so I went and did! We ended up having a super powerful lesson. I felt prompted to read with her the account of the Zoramites and their Rameumptom, and talk about how the gospel needs to be an everyday thing, not just a once a week thing. We got down to the root of her concerns, which was that she didn’t really believe in the Book of Mormon. I challenged her to read it and pray to find answers, and she agreed. The member I went with added so much with her testimony and experience. I am so grateful for members that support the missionaries!

We had a good week of contacting referrals too. We delivered a free Holy Bible to some people that had requested one, and it turned out to be a part-member family that we had just barely met on Sunday! They invited us right in, and they are trying really hard right now to get back on track. We left them with a spiritual thought, and they even invited us over for dinner! This past weekend they had a huge YSA Conference up here in Bozeman. We helped set up for their huge dinner Saturday night and it took foreverrrr. Later that night, we came by the church to see if they needed help cleaning up. They were having a dance, and it was so weird to be a missionary there! We left quickly, hahaha. We did over hear a random compliment though- a girl said as we walked by, “The sister missionaries dress so much cuter now”. Well thank you!

That’ll about do me this week! I love you all and pray for you daily. Call your local missionaries and see if you can go out on splits with them!!

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First week in Montana

22 Apr
Beautiful Montana!

Beautiful Montana!

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a blessed and wonderful Easter. What an incredible occasion to remember our Savior even more! Well, I am officially writing you from Bozeman, Montana! It’s odd to actually be serving in the state I was called to, lol. Bozeman is awesome though! Really, it feels just like home. Montana State University is a huge part of the town, so we see students biking around with backpacks. There are trees everywhere, tons of shopping (I have a Walmart AND a Target within ten minutes) and really it reminds me so much of Norman! Our stake center is even laid out exactly like the one at home.

Some members gave us super cute Easter baskets made from a milk gallon!

Some members gave us super cute Easter baskets made from a milk gallon!

My companion is awesome. She’s from a small town in California and she’s been out one transfer less than me. I’m senior companion, which is sweet because I get to drive. She came to Bozeman mid-transfer, so she’s been here about 9 weeks.

Companions!

Companions!

Oh goodness, where to even begin? I feel like it has been at least a month since I last. Let’s see, last Monday was fairly uneventful. We had dinner one last time with a family in the ward and we got our truck all nice and muddy. Tuesday was spent packing all morning, and then visiting everyone before I left. It was so sad to leave! I love Meeteetse with all my soul. But I’m sure that if I’d stayed any longer, it would have been even harder to leave. Everyone was really kind to me when I said my goodbyes. Then Tuesday afternoon we loaded up the truck and met up with the other missionaries in Cody to carpool to the transfer van in Lovell. We traveled to Billings Tuesday night and stayed overnight at some sisters’ apartment there in Billings. Talk about hectic! Then early Tuesday morning we were back in the van headed to Bozeman! I lucked out that Bozeman was the first stop, so I was there around like 9:30 AM. There I finally met my new companion! So the van was driving up to Helena, and then was coming back through to pick up the people leaving Bozeman, so we were in a trio until the afternoon, and then it was just me and my companion!

My zone!  A view from the top,

My zone went for a hike. A view from the top,

We live in a little two bedroom apartment by ourselves, and I love it! We have all those awesome 90’s Mormonads hanging up on the walls. There is a serious need for some organizing though, which I’m kinda excited about doing. I’m gonna leave this apartment looking awesome! There are three wards in Bozeman, and our area is super on fire. We have two investigators on date for baptism right now too! One of the girls is so awesome. She apparently showed up at church about three weeks ago and stood up in Relief Society and said that she wanted to join the church! So the missionaries were like, “we can help with that!”. She is so humble and sweet. Her mom is a less-active member, but her grandfather was a really strong member. When he passed away a few months ago, it was really hard on her and she decided to look into his religion. She has made a complete 180 on her life, and is really excited about her baptism on the 3rd!

So here’s a couple funny little facts about Montana that I’ve discovered. First, there’s no sales tax! So if you go to Walmart and the price is $3.99, then you actually pay $3.99! Another funny thing is that people talk weird here. There really is a Montana accent! For example, take the word “bag”. Instead of saying “bag” like “bah-g” like normal people, they say “bay-g”. And “flay-g” instead of flag. And “dray-gon” instead of dragon. It’s so bizarre!! Another thing is that everyone here looks down on Wyoming as country-bumpkins, lol. And also, there is seriously more advertising for Yellowstone park in Montana than in Wyoming. I think they like to pretend that Yellowstone is mostly in their state… it’s not. Hahaha.

The work is awesome, companion is great, and I’m happy to be here! My only complaint is that we have been driving everywhere, and I miss walking! Hopefully we’re getting our bikes in the next couple of weeks. Well, that’s about it for me this week! Have an awesome week!!

Transfers!

15 Apr

Well, it finally happened… I’ve been transferred! I’ll be heading up to Bozeman, Montana tomorrow night. It feels so unreal! Sister V will stay here in Meeteetse with a new companion, but then Sister V will leave for Temple Square in just four weeks. Crazy! I’ll be in the Bozeman 3rd Ward; I’ve never met my companion so it’ll be a surprise! Now I have to pack up all my junk… yikes! Six months in an area makes you really get settled in, lemme tell ya, hahaha. I’m heartbroken to leave Meeteetse, but I know the Lord has better plans than me so I’ll just trust in Him.

I used that hemming adhesive stuff, and it worked perfect! I also had a lot of fun running around with my pirate wrap on from the bottom of the dress!

I used that hemming adhesive stuff, and it worked perfect! I also had a lot of fun running around with my pirate wrap on from the bottom of the dress!

Last preparation day was pretty fun- we made a trek up to Powell, WY and went thrift store shopping! I made out like a bandit: 3 skirts, a dress, and a blazer; total cost under $20! I even used my awesome modification skills and hemmed the skirts and did some alterations. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself! On Wednesday, we had zone training in Powell as well. There is construction on the road to Powell though, and we got caught in 20 minutes of standstill traffic. Haven’t had to deal with traffic in a long time! The meeting was really good. Sister V led a role-play about teaching with the pamphlets and I played the piano. We took some District and Zone pictures at the end too since it was our last meeting of the transfer. Pretty fun!

The Cody District! Love these crazy people.

The Cody District! Love these crazy people.

Church is true, the Book is blue!

Church is true, the Book is blue!

In other news, I managed to crack another windshield! Well, not me specifically, but I think a rock hit us or something so we’re gonna have to get it replaced because it keeps spreading. I think I’m gonna get a reputation in the mission office!

Sister V and I had a pretty good scare this week. We were having dinner at a member’s house, and they live just a little bit out of town. When we pulled up, we saw this weird dog-thing laying down by their shed. On second glance, it was a coyote! Naturally we weren’t too inclined to get out of the car. Well, after looking at it for a bit, we figured out that it was probably dead. So we tiptoed out of the car and hot footed it inside the member’s house! We told the member, and she was like, “Oh, the coyote! Let me tell you the story on that one…”. Apparently here in Wyoming you get a bounty for shooting coyotes, so her husband had shot it a couple of months ago and took it in for the bounty, and then dumped it in their yard! But it’s been so snowy that it’s been frozen and covered up. Grosssss!! She said that she’s been trying to get her husband to take care of it for a while now, and that is would be gone by the next time we came! Hahaha, I love Wyoming.

The deer have started shedding their winter coat, and they all look like they have mange...

The deer have started shedding their winter coat, and they all look like they have mange…

The weather was super gorgeous on Friday! Everyone in town was outside working in their lawns and gardens, and we got to talk to so many people! It made us really late for some of our appointments though. We did a lot of raking and other outdoor service this week. It was barely 65 degrees, and I even managed my first sunburn! We were doing some raking for an older lady, Anne, who had a stroke, and she talked to us about how she had seen us shoveling snow for her neighbor a month ago. We had been doing “Spirit-tracting-service” where we shoveled the driveways of those we felt prompted too. Well, apparently when the owner of the house got home that night, she just about cried because she was so tired and she saw that her driveway was done. She called Anne, and Anne told her that the “Mormon girls” had done it. It was so cool to find out about this so much later, because we hadn’t seen any fruits of that labor initially. The Lord is truly blessing us! Overall, we had a good week of service and lessons. Two of our less-actives have been progressing a lot, and it’s been really cool to see that. I know that Sister V and the new Sister will do amazing miracles here in Meeteetse! This area is just right of the brink of exploding in activity. I am sad to leave all these people that I have become so attached too, but I know that the Lord has plans for me in Bozeman.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter! We taught an Easter lesson last night to a part-member family, and it re-confirmed my testimony in my heart. Christ is everything! He brings me hope and peace. He suffered for each of us and provided the Atonement which allows each of us new beginnings and unlimited possibilities. I am eternally grateful to my Lord, my Comforter, my Friend, my Redeemer, my Savior! My heart says Hallelujah! Happy Easter everyone!

General Conference was awesome!

7 Apr

Hello once again! Last Wednesday we just had a normal preparation day with not too much to report. I’ll confess though, I bought my first new piece of clothing since coming on my mission! I got a really cute striped dress at Walmart. It’s a maxi dress, and I want to hem it, so it’ll be a little bit before you see me in it, but I am excited. On Thursday we had our weekly FaceTime interview with the Zone Leaders. We put in our formal request for bikes! All the areas in our zone have them except for us. We mostly walk everywhere, but lately we’ve had to take the car because we don’t have the time to walk. But bikes would solve that, so here’s hoping we can get some soon. Our zone leaders challenged the zone to “flood” their areas with pamphlets. We use the pamphlets in every lesson, and now our challenge is to give them away! The district that gives out the most gets to host and pick out activities for the next Zone preparation day.

We have a tiny park in town, so we decided to play last preparation day!

We have a tiny park in town, so we decided to play last preparation day!

The best part of Thursday was the lesson we had with a less-active that we are working with. She told us how much of an impact we have had on her and how she is reading the scriptures more than she ever has in 13 years. The gospel is so true! Hearts can be changed. She’s a funny lady too. She has like 6 cats and a dog, and one of the cats is like 19 years old. The cat was climbing all over us and digging it’s claws into us, so she picked it up and told it, “You are so beautiful…. you are so old…. you need to die…”. Sister V and I laughed so hard! She always compliments her cats before she disciplines them, hahahaha. Friday was a fairly productive day. We helped one of our elderly members in the ward get her quilt all ready to tie. It reminded me so much of tying quilts during General Conference back at home. And then I started craving homemade Chex mix that we always make! I might have to make some and introduce it to my companion this week.

We got to watch all the sessions of General Conference, and even the Priesthood session! We watched it at a member’s home. They made us breakfast, snacks, and lunch! So spoiled. One of our recently reactivated members came over and watched priesthood session with us too. We had invited several of our investigators, but none were able to come unfortunately. They missed out for sure! I loved Elder Holland’s talk about courage and defending our beliefs. Those poor sister missionaries! I’m not sure I would have been able to stop myself from giving that guy a piece of my mind, hahaha. I loved Elder Rasband’s talk, particularly because I remember meeting him while he was in Oklahoma. He came out to our work site and talked with our YSA ward. I remembered those three things he said, and I have them in my journal back home I’m pretty sure! As soon as he started talking about the tornadoes, I turned to Sister V and said, “He’s gonna say the three things!!! I love you, I’m praying for you, and thank you!”. I loved the Priesthood session so much. Elder Hallstrom’s talk about being willing to change really touched me. Repentance is not a scary thing! When we are willing to change, the Spirit has full access to our hearts. And Elder Uchtdorf’s talk from the Priesthood session was super good too- do not sleep through the Restoration! I also loved Elder Bednar’s talk about the “loads” we take in life. Elder Bednar is probably…. no, IS my favorite apostle I think, by the way. And President Monson’s talk about kindness! “I will never regret being too kind”. Ah, I could go on forever about Conference. And I invite you, like Elder Ballard did, to study Preach My Gospel! I can promise as a representative of Jesus Christ that you will find increased clarity and understanding of the gospel, as well as an increase of the Spirit as you do so.

One more random story: We have finally made peace with some of the dogs that live near us! We invested in a box of dog treats the other week, and we’ve been bribing all the dogs to love us. Now, instead of barking at us, they run up to the fence with their tails wagging! This is a huge step of progression, lemme tell ya. Well, that’s about it for me this week! It’s the last week of the transfer, so I’ll find out Sunday if either of us are moving. I don’t want to curse myself, but I’m fairly confident we’ll both stay. That’s what I’m praying for at least! I love you all so much. Thank you for your love and support! It really means the world to me. Have an awesome week!!!

A week of miracles!

2 Apr

Hello everyone!! It is strange to be writing you on a Wednesday. We traded our Monday preparation day for today because we had plans to drive up to the temple. Unfortunately, it decided to snow about 6 inches last night, and the roads were pretty hazardous for driving. We talked it over with our ride and decided we’d better postpone. Such a bummer! But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Spring?

Spring?

I feel like it has been forever since I’ve written, and so much has happened! I’ll try to narrow it down to the more important stuff. Last Monday I was adventurous and let a missionary cut my hair for me! No worries though, she’s a licensed hair dresser and worked in a salon for like 2 years before the mission. She just evened it all up for me, and I really like it! On Tuesday, we had Zone Conference down in Worland, WY (~1hr away). It was awesome! They focused it all about the Book of Mormon. They split us up into reading groups and assigned us sections of the BoM to read, and between the 60 or so missionaries there, we read the entire Book of Mormon in like 2 hours! Our mission president told us that our mission is the most successful of the 18 missions in our region, but that’s no reason to slack. He challenged us to step up our game, and have more unshaken faith! Unshaken faith has kind of turned into our motto for Meeteetse this week.

After zone conference, I had a new experience- I went on exchanges in Lovell, WY! First time I’ve ever had to leave Meeteetse… soooo weird. I missed it so much! I am dreading the eventual transfer of leaving Meeteetse. Hopefully that won’t be for a while though! Being in Lovell was good. One lesson we taught really stuck out in my mind. We met with a young man named Sam. Turns out, he’s from Oklahoma City! The sisters in Lovell said that they always struggled with teaching him, but once he realized that I was a normal person from where he was from, the lesson went so much better. I really feel like I was meant to meet him and teach him, even if it was just that once. At the end of the lesson, I felt prompted to tell him this, “If you forget everything about me, my name, that I’m a Sooner fan, etc, then that’s totally fine. I just want to you remember that I know this gospel is true and the Book of Mormon is true and powerful, and it has changed me”. The Spirit was so strong, and I just pray that he felt the same witness that I felt.

I got back home to Meeteetse Thursday morning, and it was so nice to have things back to normal! We had an awesome dinner appointment with some members and our investigators. They are both so prepared!! We didn’t have time to teach the Restoration, so we just shared a short message. I felt prompted to invite them to come to church (they have come once before like a month ago), and this was their response: “yeah! We were wondering why our friend (the member) never invited us again”. Lol! It’s amazing to see how many people in our lives are just waiting for the invitation to act. We have the gospel, and we have the responsibility to offer it to those around us. They ended up having a conflict on Sunday so they couldn’t come, but hopefully they will come next week after General Conference.

Some gold plates replicas at zone conference; those things were superrrr heavy.

Some gold plates replicas at zone conference; those things were superrrr heavy.

We taught a ton of lessons on Friday, and we found out from our Zone leaders the we had tied for the most lessons taught in the Zone for the previous week! The Lord has some awesome things in store for Meeteetse. I’m just grateful that I get to be a part of it. On Friday, we taught another investigator about unshaken faith and related to her the story of Christ and Peter walking on the water. When Peter first stepped out, he showed extraordinary faith. But, as he notices the “winds boisterous”, he took his eyes off Christ and began to sink. He allowed his faith to be shaken! Each of us have boisterous winds in our lives that scare us and make us doubt. But, like Peter, all we need to do is ask for divine assistance from our Savior. When we shared this with her, Sister V felt prompted to invite her to church again. She has turned us down I don’t know how many times in the past. But when we invited he this time, she confessed that she was afraid of going to a new church, but that if we would go with her, she would love to come. We were like, “yeah we’ll go with you!!” We had a member pick us and her up for church on Sunday, and it was a great experience. We also had some members pick up our other investigator for church, so that was awesome too!

Saturday night we carpooled with a member up to Cody to watch the Women’s Broadcast, and it was amazing!! I hope you all watched it and loved it as much as I did. Everyone, including me, just sat there and cried during it. It was awesome. On Monday we had a really good proselyting day. We were able to do some stuff that we wouldn’t have been able to any other day of the week, so that was a blessing! We went for dinner to a family’s ranch, and our truck got soooo muddy driving out there, hahaha. All their cows are having their babies right now, so after dinner we went out with them to check to see if any had been born. We did find one heifer that was about to give birth in like less than a half an hour! They take turns on going out every night to check on the cows during this season. Even the kids are super involved! The sister told us how some of the baby cows were about frozen, so she and her 12 yr old daughter spent all night warming them up by rubbing them and putting a blow dryer on them. Life on a ranch isn’t just a job, it really is a lifestyle. I’m not sure I would want to do it, but who knows!

One last story! So last night we had dinner with one of my favorite ladies. For dessert, she made creme brulee and we had a little blow torch to caramelize the sugar on top. Well, it ran out of propane, so she refilled it, but it kinda spilled a little bit. We didn’t think anything of it until we lit the flame. WHOOSH! The entire table erupted in a two second flame! Oh boy did Sister V and I bolt! hahaha. It wasn’t a hot flame or anything, and it was gone in seconds, but still, it scared all of us about half to death! We had a pretty good laugh about it afterwards though. Nothin’ wrong with a few singed eyebrows once in a while!

Well, I think I’ll wrap it up for today! I love you all so much! It is such a blessing to have such wonderful family and friends who support me as a missionary. Have an awesome week!!!
Love always,
Sister Hoggan