Archive | January, 2015

Missoula miracles!

26 Jan

It is positively balmy outside! Fifty degrees is pretty wonderful for the end of January. Thankfully is was a slow warm-up this week, so there wasn’t a ton of flooding from the melting snow. Patches of grass are showing through now and the streets are almost clear of ice! Count your many blessings. We had another super busy week here in Missoula, and a very successful one! So let me just jump right in and tell you about some of it.

Last Monday we had interviews with President Mecham, and it was wonderful like always. I always leave those interview feeling like I can conquer the world! Then that afternoon for preparation day, we invited the sisters in our zone over to our house for “lunch and a movie”. We watched 17 Miracles together, and I made Mom’s recipe of Easy Tortilla Soup- it was a hit! It was fun to do something kind of different for preparation day. Tuesday felt like Monday all day because I got to email, so that kind of threw off my week.

Here’s our cool miracle of the week. So I had something happen that has never happened before…. a less-active called us! Her name is Brittany. So here’s the story: she was in Walmart a couple of weeks ago and saw two sister missionaries (not us, but the sisters from the Ronan ward in our zone). She had been thinking a lot about coming back to church, but she wasn’t too sure yet. She stood behind them in line, and she told us that she decided that if they talked to her, then she would take that as a sign that she needed to come back. And like good missionaries always do, they talked to her! They had a really good conversation, and the Ronan sisters gave her our phone number. Fast forward to this Wednesday now. We were driving to an appointment after district meeting, and our phone rings. We start talking to her, trying to figure out kind of who she is and her interest level. She asked us if there were any ward activities going on that she could go to, and we told her that there weren’t any until next week. Then, I felt to ask, “umm, would you be interested in meeting with us?”. She said, “yeah! Do you have time today?”. “Yes!”, we responded with probably a little too much enthusiasm! Anyways, so we met up with her and got to know her. She used to be super active in her old ward, but then she got a boyfriend who took her down the wrong path and she moved up to Montana with him. They broke up this weekend, and she is on track to returning to the gospel. She told us, “I was trying to remember the last time I was truly happy… and it was when I was active”.

A slightly sad but funny story related to Brittany is that while we were teaching her, her dog chewed off part of my leather purse! Oh well. It’s not too noticeable I think….? Here’s another funny story from this week. We were having dinner with an amazing family that joined the church last year, the Dempseys. (You’ve definitely heard me tell stories from their dinner appointments before). Their oldest son, Sam, told us during dinner that he thinks his younger brother Able looks like an alien. “Why?”, his mom asked. “Because he has curly hair!”. Elder Montague (part of the trio of the 4th ward elders that we share areas with) and I made eye contact and just busted up laughing because we both have curly hair. I guess my hair makes me look like an alien?

Our recent convert Karen is doing amazing. Her friends in the ward chipped in together to buy her a quad with her name engraved on it- so beautiful! We are hanging out with her today and going out for Thai food. 🙂 Karen and I are already planning our after-mission visits… it’s gonna be great. Brett is still struggling with depression, and it’s sad to see. But we’re meeting with him regularly and hopefully he can fight through it. Our investigator Eboni got baptized this week!!! She is the girl that grew up LDS, but had to wait until she was 18 to be baptized because her Dad isn’t a member. We crammed about eighty people into the primary room for the baptism… it was a beautiful event. She’s talking about going on a mission in a year when she’s 19. So great!

Sister Moore, Eboni's brother, Eboni and me at her baptism.

Sister Moore, Eboni’s brother, Eboni and me at her baptism.

Ok, one more miracle from this week! A less-active that we work with a lot via Skype, Rachelle, came down to Missoula this weekend and she brought her roommate Suzanne with her. Earlier in the week, Suzanne was going through a really hard time and Rachelle read the Book of Mormon with her and they had a crazy powerful experience with it. We met together at the institute, and we taught her most of the first lesson. Suzanne is Blackfoot native american, and has absolutely zero Christian background… but as we taught the Spirit bore witness so strongly of Christ. I really felt like Aaron teaching King Lamoni’s Father in the Book of Mormon…. we identified that she believes in a “higher power”, and taught her about God. Then we talked about parts of the plan of salvation, and the restoration. She told us that she’d never felt as happy or as peaceful as she did right then. She asked us what she could do to keep that feeling always. We told her that it was the Spirit, and that the gift of the Holy Ghost comes after baptism… and she is now committed to baptism on February 21st!

Sorry my letters have been massively long recently. There’s so much going on! I love you all and hope you are doing well. Thank you for your prayers, support, and love. Have a happy week!!!

Carry on, carry on!

21 Jan

Well, it’s another Tuesday letter! As I reflect back on the past week, it seems like it flew by, but also so many things happened.

First and foremost, Brett got baptized on Saturday!! It was a beautiful service, and there was so much love in that room for him. We met with him everyday this past week in preparation for his baptism. He had a particularly hard day on Thursday, and my heart just ached for him. During that lesson, I received a strong prompting that I needed to fast for him on Friday. As I fasted for him, I was able to receive revelation to teach him that night about the redeeming and reclaiming aspects of baptism. Fasting also increased my faith that God will fulfill His promises to Brett. He had an amazing baptism service on Saturday and a beautiful confirmation on Sunday. We met with him last night, and unfortunately he was feeling very depressed again. I left the lesson feeling fairly discouraged myself, thinking, “Why didn’t the gift of the Holy Ghost help him? Why is he still having these trials?”. The Holy Ghost came to me during that quiet drive home, and taught me that it is all a part of Heavenly Father’s plan. We can’t “pray away” people’s trials… sometimes they are there for a reason. My role in the situation is to pray to God to know what I can do, and then courageously act on the answers I receive.

Brett's baptism!

Brett’s baptism!

Last night’s lesson at Brett’s turned out to be more for his sister Tamara than for Brett. One of Brett’s fellowshippers, Bro. Backlund, came over and the two of them went on a walk. Sister Moore and I, along with the 1st ward sisters, stayed with Tamara. She was struggling with how to help Brett and was really needing support. I don’t remember what all I said, but I just remember holding eye contact with her and talking to her about Christ and testifying of the Atonement… “because Christ already paid the price and felt what we felt… we don’t have feel it anymore.” Tamara was prompted to say a prayer together, and when she gave her burden to Christ there was a tangible release of tension in the room. She told us that she sometimes sees us sisters as her personal angels. We are called as emissaries of Jesus Christ, and it’s amazing to experience Him working through you.

Our investigator is doing great, and she is all set to be baptized this upcoming Saturday! She posted about her baptism on her Facebook page, and had over 60 likes on the post… so awesome. Let me tell you, I have never been so busy in my entire mission. The Hastening of the Work is so real! But it’s real because we are willing to put in the effort and faith to make it happen, and not just sit around and wait for it.

On Tuesday, we had a return appointment from a tracting contact. When she invited us in, I quickly observed six rather fat and mangy cats lying around… and those were just the ones we could see. I spent the rest of the day with my dress smelling like dirty cats… I sure hope people understand that missionaries can’t always control what they smell like!

Found while tracting! Unfortunately they weren't home... I need to meet them though asap!

Found while tracting! Unfortunately they weren’t home… I need to meet them though asap!

I had a series of unfortunate events this weekend regarding my watches, haha. On Sunday, I put on my favorite watch (and the one I’ve worn basically everyday) and the last little leather strip that holds the strap down broke. “Bummer!” I thought, and switched to my backup watch. Then, at church, my backup watch’s battery died. “Ok”, I thought, “I’ll just go back to wearing my regular watch”. When I get home, the battery had died on that one as well!! I guess the devil really didn’t want us to be on time or something…. haha. I told my sad tale to the Hendersons who we live with, and Brother Henderson made the comment, “Well Sister Hoggan, it looks like your time is up- you’ve been on the mission too long!”. Needless to say, I was able to get both batteries replaced on Monday. I am also feeling pretty proud of myself for fashioning a new “strip” out of a kid’s hairband that I cut and melted back together… mission life teaches you so many new skills.

It works, right?

It works, right?

Oh yeah, so we had an awesome tender mercy this week! I made the mistake last Monday of forgetting to pick up one of my prescriptions from Wal-mart, so we had to go over there on Tuesday morning. I picked it up no problem, and while we were about to leave the parking lot of Wal-mart, a nicely dressed man came jogging up to our car. I rolled down the window and he said, “Hello! Hey, go get yourselves a NICE dinner,” and handed us a fifty dollar bill! I was in too much shock to say anything but “are you sure? Thank you!!”, as he quickly jogged back to his car. People are so kind!!

I sure do love you all, and hope you are doing well! Keep on keepin’ on!

Busy in ZooTown

13 Jan
One of our investigators lives right at the base of the mountain by the river. So beautiful.

One of our investigators lives right at the base of the mountain by the river. So beautiful.

Hello again from Mi-ZOO-la, Montana! Missoula is definitely in the heart of winter right now, but thankfully this week was just some snow. It’s really not too bad… I mean at least it’s warm enough to snow. A few weeks ago, it was too cold to snow. Count your blessings! So I was talking this week with another missionary that I came out with, and we created “The Seasoned Montana Missionary’s Guide to Winter Clothing”. Here is how we determine what to wear:
Above 40 degrees – Maybe a cardigan, maybe not
32 to 40 degrees – Light jacket
20 to 32 degrees – Coat
10 to 20 degrees – Coat plus scarf
-5 to 10 degrees – Coat plus scarf plus hat
Below -5 degrees – Prayer and sunshine in your soul
It’s funny how your body really does adjust to the local climate! I think I’m going to die during my first Oklahoma summer when I get back…

Oh my, the people we are teaching had some roller-coaster weeks. But that’s what satan does, he tries his hardest to stop people when they are getting closest to the truth. Thankfully, God is always stronger! Brett was really struggling with his faith during the first half of the week, and we had some lessons where we had to completely follow the Spirit and just testify. Slowly, he has been receiving his witness, and now he is one hundred percent on board for baptism on Saturday! We really saw the the fulfillment of “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). His sister was baptized in 1st ward on Saturday, and I think it was really big for him to see that and feel the Spirit there. When we taught him the Law of Tithing and Fast Offerings on Sunday night, he was a totally different person than he had been earlier in the week… his heart has been softened and he is prepared to accept the word! Ahh, it’s just amazing to see how he’s changed. We were talking to him and his sister about what it was like when they first met missionaries on their doorstep months and months ago. They said that they feel terrible that that first set of elders who knocked on their door might never know that they eventually accepted and came to love the gospel. We testified to them that even if they don’t find out in this life, they will know in the next. It really inspires me to always leave a good impression on every doorstep, regardless of if they accept the message or not. You just never know!

Hmmm, what else happened this week? We were on part-time “dog-duty” while the members we live with were out of town. We would take them on walks every morning for exercise, feed them in the mornings, and let them out a few times during the day. The girl from the ward who used to live with us, Lacey, helped out feeding them in the evenings and letting them out when we were out teaching. During one of the morning walks, the white American Eskimo named Gracie slipped her collar! I mustered all the “mom voice” that I could and yelled, “Gracie Lynn-Marie Henderson, come back right now!”. So, the dog doesn’t actually have a middle name that I know of, and funnily enough that middle name is my old companion Sister Jones’ middle name… bahahah. Anyways, it worked, and she came back! At one point during the week, I pinned down the other dog, a Siberian husky name Kiya, and brushed her out as best I could. I think I could have made another medium size dog out of the amount of hair that came out…. gross!

Gracie Lynn-Marie Henderson!

Gracie Lynn-Marie Henderson!

Friday and Saturday, we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, and I got to work with Sister Martin in my area. I love her to death! We were unofficial companions our first night in Montana while we were waiting to go to our new areas, then we got to serve in the same zone in Wyoming North for 6 months, and now we’ve been serving here in Missoula together for the past 5 months. 🙂 I meant to get a picture of us together while we were on exchanges, but didn’t get a chance to. Anyways, exchanges were great and we have been so busy with teaching appointments all week. Our evenings have been solidly booked from 4pm on! Such a blessing. We have been so busy, I can’t even tell you what all we’ve done.

I have added yet another strange food to my mission experience…. I ate moose tacos on Sunday! It tasted like taco meat that wasn’t quite taco meat… not terrible, but not my favorite either. But hey, I’ve eaten moose now!

Moose tacos!

Moose tacos!

Can I just tell you all how much I love the Book of Mormon? I am so enjoying my studies right now. After doing the four mission markings of references to Christ, Christlike attributes, Doctrine of Christ, and Words of Christ and an additional marking of covenants and promises in the Book of Mormon, this time through I am making general commentary of my thoughts, notes, and impressions. As I was studying in 2 Nephi, I was struck by the great power of God. As I was praying after my studies, I always report to Heavenly Father what I learned about that day…. and suddenly it all clicked. I was praying to the exact same person I had just read about. Ok, I know this is super obvious, and I already knew it… but I didn’t know it. I felt that witness testified so strongly to me right then, and every prayer after. I love the scriptures, and they provide so much guidance and revelation for me. If you aren’t reading the Book of Mormon right now, then read it!!

I love you all so much! Thank you for your support, prayers, and encouragement. Have a happy week!

Snow and Sniffles

5 Jan
My new skirt!

My new skirt!

Playing with trains on Christmas Day.

Playing with trains on Christmas Day.

Well, Missoula is just about buried in snow right now! Over the last two days, we’ve accumulated at least nine inches of snow. It is finally above freezing today so it might start melting, but now the roads are a big slushy mess. I guess that’s what comes of living in Montana, no? 🙂 The first part of the week was just bitter cold. Nothing like a brisk -15 degree wind chill to make you scurry inside as quick as you can. Sister Moore and I were bundled from head to toe! Unfortunately, it didn’t prevent me from getting sick. I started feeling stuffy on Saturday, and now I have a full blow cold which is not fun. Thankfully it is preparation day today, and I think I will just take a nap on a couch at the stake center while everyone else plays basketball and pod-ball.

Karen, who was just baptized last week, is doing great! We texted her this week and asked her how she’s been feeling since her baptism. This was her response: “I keep trying to find the right words to describe it but I can’t. I definitely feel different- good different. I think about my actions more. Oh I had such a power experience during my confirmation.”. My heart is still glowing over that text. I couldn’t be happier for her! We have been working with our investigator Brett a lot this week. The first ward sisters found Brett a while back, and just recently transferred him over to us. Brett is still struggling to have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but he made some good strides this week. Brett is on date for baptism for the 17th, and we are going to make sure that he makes that date! We also have a new investigator this week- her name is Eboni. Her situation is kinda odd- her mom is an active member and her dad is not a member. Her dad didn’t let any of his kids get baptized until they were 18 years old, and Eboni just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and now wants to be baptized! She grew up going to primary, and while she hasn’t been very active while she’s been in high school, I think that this will help her get back on track. So yeah, she’s the most golden investigator a missionary could ever dream of! She’s on date for baptism for the 24th.

Oh yeah, Happy New Years! We had a pretty relaxed evening for new years eve. We didn’t have a dinner appointment, so we treated ourselves to chicken from the Walmart deli (#missionarylife) and then hung out at the institute building until 9pm with the other missionaries in our district that didn’t have anything to do. We were home and asleep by 9:45- it was nice! On Sunday, our Relief Society lesson was about making resolutions to become rather than to do. I really enjoyed that perspective, and it made me reflect on the goals that I want to achieve before I leave the mission and for after I am home.

I made a christmas tree out of the sheddings of our actual christmas tree when we took it down.

I made a christmas tree out of the sheddings of our actual christmas tree when we took it down.

We also had a break-through of sorts with one of the less-actives that we work with a lot, Rachelle. She has been making some pretty poor life choices for the past few months, and I think she finally realized that it wasn’t making her happy. We had some lessons over the phone and the Spirit was so strong. She even came to church with us on Sunday for the first time in probably three months. I really hope that she can keep going strong and get her life back on track. She’s awesome, and we’ve grown really close while I’ve served her in Missoula. She made me a gift this week- an adorable little elephant necklace made out of a silver fork! Ahh, it’s my favorite. I’ll attach a picture.

Soooo cuuuute!

Soooo cuuuute!

Well that’s about all I can think of to write this week… I love you all and I’ll talk to you later!!!