Archive | March, 2015

Wonderful Worland

31 Mar

The weather here in Worland has been downright beautiful! Perfect for biking as well. That is, except for Friday. On Friday, we had the most insane amount of wind! Earlier in the day, it just felt like good ol’ Okie weather, but by the evening, we could barely shut our car doors because of the wind. As we would run between the car and our appointments, we learned quickly not to open our mouths because they would get filled with dust! Haha, good times.

This week we had another lesson with the Williams, who are the part-member family I wrote about last week. They are so wonderful! They’ve been at church every week so far and both parents are progressing a lot. We taught the Restoration this past week, and the Spirit was so strong, even though I totally butchered saying the First Vision, haha. (You’d think that I’d never mess that one up anymore after being out this long… but I guess not! haha). I guess that’s when you know that it’s the Spirit teaching and not you, because if you “mess up” it really doesn’t make any difference.

I also met one of our other investigators finally this week- her name is Taylor. She is a young single adult, so I immediately felt a connection with her since I had worked with YSA’s for the past 7 months. She had a hard week in which her less-active boyfriend broke up with her (which actually sounds like it was a good thing that they broke up), but now she has nothing holding her back from progressing towards baptism for herself! We are going to reteach her some of the basic lessons and help her progress to a baptism date in May!

Sister Wankier and me after church on Sunday

Sister Wankier and me after church on Sunday

Here’s a slightly humorous story for the week. I met one of our recent converts for the first time, and she is a very elderly lady who was baptized about a year and a half ago. As we were walking up to her house for me to met her and have a lesson with her, Sister Wankier turned to me suddenly and said, “Oh yeah, ummm… she might not have pants on… ok let’s go in!”, and she quickly entered the house. Not really sure what to think, I followed and soon realized exactly what she was talking about. No pants! Nothing! Yeah…. she let us get her a blanket though for her to put over her lap. Gotta love the random experiences of the mission.

Well, as the time grows short on the mission, it appears that my letter will as well… sorry! My brain just ceases to function sometimes on Monday. Anyways, if you haven’t had a chance yet to see the new Easter video that the church put out, you should definitely watch it! It is called “Because He Lives”, and it is a big push right now in our mission. Watch it here: mormon.org/easter

I love you all so much!! Thank you for your continued support and prayers. Talk to you next week!!

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Bikes and blessings

23 Mar

Hello from Worland, WY! It feels like a lifetime since I last emailed you all. So much has happened! I’ll just hit the highlights of the week I think… we’ll see how the letter ends up. Monday and Tuesday were spent primarily visiting people to say goodbye and some scattered packing here and there. Bishop Blair posted about the transfer for us on Facebook, so most of our ward found out that way. I am so grateful for serving stateside so that it will be easier to come back and visit everyone! We still had some teaching appointments before we left though, and those went so so so good. We were also able to transfer everyone to the elders pretty smoothly- thank you all for your prayers!

My buddy Karen

Leaving my friend Karen

Miracle #1: Andrew. I can’t remember if I’ve written about Andrew in the past or not… hmmm, well he is a less-active in the Missoula YSA ward who started coming back with one of his friends, Tiffany. We’ve been off and on teaching him for about 4 weeks, and he has a sincere desire to know if the church is true. When we taught Andrew on Tuesday night, there was definitely something different than in the past. We were teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and when we started talking about faith, I felt impressed to ask him how he has seen his faith has grow in the past few weeks. He responded, “Well, remember the first time you taught me? When I asked you how you knew that God was real, you taught me about tender mercies. I thought those tender mercies were all just coincidences of nature, but I decided to start trying to identify them for myself… And you know what? They are real. I was driving home this week, and I kept remember all of the mercies that the Lord has given me. And I felt the Spirit… the first time I have really identified the Spirit. I knew that God was aware of me, and I knew that what I was doing was right”. He continued, “You should teach everyone you meet about tender mercies… because that was a game changer for me”. I cried the entire drive home from that lesson… he got his answer!! And to know that I was able to be an instrument in the hand of the Lord in helping him was one of the sweetest moments of my life. I remembered the promise given in my call letter that said, “…more happiness than you have yet experienced awaits you”. That promise has been confirmed to me over and over. The mission is so often accented with these pockets of celestial joy. It makes everything worth it, and so much more.

Miracle #2: I survived a 12 hour transfer van ride from Missoula to Wyoming on Wednesday with only minor soreness and restlessness. It was kind of a mini tour of the mission! haha.

Hello Wyoming!

Hello Wyoming!

I arrived late Wednesday night to my new area, and I met my new companion Sister Wankier. Her name is pronounced like the word “banker”, but with a “w”. She is from Delta, Utah, she is 24 years old, and she has been out 6 months and Worland is her only area thus far. Her past two companions have both finished their missions with her, so I am the third missionary that she will be sending home… I feel bad for her! Oh well, I know that we’ll work hard together right up to the end. The sisters in Worland apparently move between members houses every 3 to 6 months, so we just moved into a new house on Wednesday. We live with Sister Suko, and she is actually a less-active that the sisters were working with! Sister Suko is wonderful. She has 5 kids, but only the youngest still lives at home, and she is a senior in high school. The happiest news about where we live is that we have an actual shower!!! (if you remember, my last area only had a bathtub. I’ve been taking on baths for the past 7 months… so yeah, I was pretty excited about the shower). We drive a beautiful white 2014 Jeep Compass, which was the mission car that I’ve been coveting for the past few months. However, we won’t be using it much now because bike season has officially started. The town is small enough that we can bike just about anywhere in 10 minutes. Plus, biking affords so many more opportunities to talk to people. Which leads to the next miracle…

Miracle #3: Cara. On Saturday afternoon, all of our appointments fell through, and all of our backups. We were back to the drawing board! I am still learning the area, so I felt pretty helpless. However, the Lord always knows where He wants us. I suggested that we offer a prayer of faith and seek His inspiration for where we should go. As we paused after the prayer, I felt the distinct impression to “go to main street”. I had no idea why, or what/who we would find there, but “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). As we biked down the main street, I was kind of expecting to get another prompting of a street to turn on. Instead, I saw a mother and two kids walking on the side walk a ways ahead, and I knew that we needed to go talk to them. So we pedal quickly to catch up to them (…that’s only moderately creepy, right? hahaha). I pulled up next to her, and all I could think of to say was “hi!”. She turned, and with a look of recognition, she said, “hello sisters!”. It turned out that she was a potential investigator that Sister Wankier has been trying to contact in person for almost a month! We had a solid lesson with her, right there on the sidewalk of the main street, and she accepted a pamphlet for the first time (which was a big step for her), and accepted a return appointment! The Lord does provided. I have a firm, firm testimony of that.

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface with everything that’s been happening! We have an amazing part member family that we met, and the non-member wife is totally prepared and ready for the gospel. They came to church on Sunday and they are just the greatest! We are meeting with them again tomorrow night. I am so excited for theses last few weeks of the mission. Even with all of the miracles, this area is definitely a lot slower than I’ve been used to lately. My goal is to leave it thriving!

I love you all so much!! Talk to you next week!!

The First of the Lasts

17 Mar

As my subject line suggests, this week started the first of my “lasts” on the mission. Specifically, my last transfer call was on Sunday! With the huge number of sisters that went home this transfer and that will be going home next transfer with me, the mission is having to close sister areas left and right. And unfortunately, that meant us this transfer. Both Sister Moore and I will be transferred and the elders will take over both the YSA ward and 4th ward. I am going back to my roots… Wyoming! Nope, not Meeteetse unfortunately, but I’ll only be an hour and a half away. I will be serving in Worland 2nd ward, and my new companion is Sister Wankier. (No idea how to pronounce that name right now, haha). Sis. Wankier has been out about six months, and I will be senior companion again. I feel very blessed to have been senior companion my entire mission except while I was training and the 4 weeks with Sister Gold. Sister Moore is headed to Helena 5th ward, and she will be with Sister Runolfson who is a sister I came out with.

I am pretty sad to not get to finish my mission here in Missoula. But I trust the Lord enough to know that He has something for me to do, or someone to meet, down in Worland, WY. It’ll be pretty stressful transferring all of our investigators and less-actives to the elders in the next 48 hours, so please pray for us that things go smoothly! Just got lots to do before we leave Wednesday morning. The members we live with, the Hendersons, were really sad to hear about the trasnsfer, especially since they won’t be housing sisters anymore. I love the Hendersons so much! We’re going to take a picture together finally tomorrow night, so I’ll attach the picture next week.

One last family history booth in the University Center

One last family history booth in the University Center

Oh my, I don’t even know what to write about for this week! We had a great lesson with our investigator Cody this week. He is progressing really really well, but he is still reluctant to commit to a date. While I was praying about Cody, I thought of Rodney’s conversion story (he’s my brother-in-law) in which Rodney told me that the elders would invite him to baptism just about every time, but that he had to come to the conclusion for himself. I felt the strongest prompting that that will pretty much be Cody’s story- he knows everything is true and he loves the gospel… he just needs to make the decision for himself. It didn’t stop us from inviting him every time though! haha.

My tender mercy of the week was dinner with our recent convert Karen. When people ask me what I am most excited for food-wise for when I get home, I always say, “Chick-fil-a!!!!”. Well, we go to dinner at Karen’s, and she made us a copycat recipe! It was soooo good. And then this is the sign of true friendship: she stalked my Pinterest account, found the recipe for Raising Cane’s sauce that I love so much, and made that to go with it!! I was in Okie heaven. A lot of our ward members try to feed Sister Moore and I “southern food”, since we’re from the south. One of the best things ever was last week when some of the YSA kids made us Chicken and Waffles! It was the first time they had ever had it themselves, or even made fried chicken, and they did a great job. We converted them to it!

This week we did a lot of contacting referrals, finding, and tracting. One guy we met may only be accurately described as the “mad hatter”. Oh Missoula… such an interesting breed of people. The guy gave us a referral at least! Last night, we were out trying to reach our OYM goal and people were just not happy to see us, lol. My favorite thing is when people open the door, and we’re like “Hi!! How are you??!!”, and they say “good…”, then they see our name tags, and they just slowly shut the door without saying anything else. The mission is just plain awkward sometimes, haha. But after a bunch of really weird experiences, we tracted in to a less-active lady that was so kind and immediately let us in. *blessings*

Well, I have to get going now! We’re going to lunch with Karen and then we’re going to ride on the Missoula Carousel. Should be fun! Love you all sooo much, and I will talk to you next week from Wyoming!

Missionary Work in the Digital Age

10 Mar
A Montana sunset

A Montana sunset

Hello all! So much has happened since I last wrote you all, but for some reason I am struggling to write it down! I’ll do my best, but no promises on this letter being 100% coherent, haha.

Wednesday morning, our zone and the Kalispell zone hopped in vans to travel down to Bozeman for the all-mission meeting. It was amazing to see the entire mission gathered for the first time in ten years. A lot of my mission friends have already finished their missions, but it was still so good to get to see a lot of people I’ve missed. We were all seated thirty minutes before the meeting started, and the reverence in that room was palpable. Elder W. Craig Zwick of the 70 was our main speaker, along with Bro. Michael Hemingway of the missionary department. At the start of the meeting, Elder Zwick asked that he could greet each of us individually! We filed down a line and greeted both of our guests as well as President and Sister Mecham. I am always so impressed by how personal general authorities are with those they visit.

I don’t even know how to fully describe the meeting, except with the word powerful. Instead of the meeting being focused on the ins and outs of iPads and social media, they taught us the principles by which we can govern ourselves online, and ultimately govern ourselves in all things. The overarching question that Elder Zwick asked us throughout the meeting was, “Am I willing to change?”. The thing about iPads and technology is that it’s actually more for the missionaries than for those we teach. Elder Zwick said that no one is going to be more likely to get baptized just because they watched a video. Rather, by using these technologies as missionaries, we are establishing righteous habits that will bless us for the rest of our lives. Yes, there are and will be technological filters placed on the devices, and yes we will always work as a companionship to keep us safe. But the best filter, and the one that will last, will be our hearts.

All Mission Photo (The sun was sooo bright, so we're all squinty eyed. I'm in the 4th row, about the middle, directly above President Mecham)

All Mission Photo (The sun was sooo bright, so we’re all squinty eyed. I’m in the 4th row, about the middle, directly above President Mecham)

Along with purification, Elder Zwick taught us that “exposure brings immunity”. He gave the example of a disease epidemic that broke out in the early 1900s. The people that were most likely to contract the disease and die from it were those from rural communities that had never been exposed to it. On the other hand, the people in urban city areas had been exposed to it and had developed immunity. Such it is with technology. Our missions will not be our last exposure to technology or the evils that can lurk therein- now it the opportunity to purify our hearts for when we are online later. The best safeguard is your heart and personal integrity.

Another thing that I learned from Elder Zwick was to “simplify and intensify” your statements, especially when teaching. I have been practicing this in a more conscious way this week, and I have already seen the effects. We taught a lesson this week to a semi-less-active member who struggles with some word of wisdom issues. They acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong, but they don’t see it affecting their eternal salvation. With startling clarity, the Spirit put in my mouth the words, “No habit is worth not enjoying temple blessings”. The entire tone of the lesson changed from that point on, and we committed them to working towards going to the temple.

There were some new logistics introduced at the meeting, including new iPads! Yep, on Friday I turned in my trusty iPad that had been with me from the start and received a new one. The new ones have 32gb of memory instead of 8gb, and have significantly faster processors (our areabook/planner app actually loads quickly now! hallelujah!). The church is rolling out a new standardized approach to iPads and Facebook, so even though we’ve already been doing it for a year and a half, we will still go through the process and help them work out the kinks. We are taking a mission-wide hiatus from Facebook for a few weeks, at which point we will be trained to use it “officially”. I was pretty bummed about losing Facebook because we were just now really getting it going and effective in our zone, but I know that with this break and the new training, it will be even better. President Mecham also eliminated a lot of our “mission-specific” rules, including that we can now receive MyLDSMail emails all throughout the week! The principle is like that of normal letters- we can receive them at any time, but only respond on preparation day. So, I will now be getting your emails when you send them, but I will respond on Monday like usual.

Oh, there is just too much to tell this week! The elders that we share areas with had a baptism on Saturday, and President Mecham was the one that actually baptized her! The Mechams were in town because it was Stake Conference. Stake Conference was wonderful and we had truly inspired speakers. We had great lessons this week as well, and we are still working with our new investigator Cody- he is great!

I’ll just cut it off here so that you don’t have to read an entire novel of Sister Hoggan’s week, haha. I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week!

Hello March!

3 Mar

March has arrived! Does anyone else feel like February was missing a couple of days, because I sure do. The weeks are ticking down faster than ever… But let’s not talk about that. We are still enjoying the last icy grips of winter here in Missoula. I was surprised at how cold I was this week, and I realized that it was because it was really windy, which it usually isn’t here. I guess Heavenly Father is reminding me of my Okie roots.

Montana's sad attempt at hail!

Montana’s sad attempt at hail!

We saw come good progression from out investigators this week! Pauline, who is the mom of our recent converts Mary and Jessica, finally set a firm baptism date for March 21st. We had visited them on Tuesday and we had a “come to missionary” meeting where we had to re-establish our purpose with them. It went really well, and they all started progressing again. Our investigator Adrianna is also in the midst of making some big decisions right now about baptism, marriage, etc… please keep her in your prayers!

So my cool story of the week starts last Sunday. One of our members, Travis, came up to us after sacrament meeting and said, “Hi sisters, come meet my non-member friend that I brought to church with me!”. We laughed and of course trotted over to meet his friend. The friend, Cody, has gone to church off and on for number of years (we found out later that our bishop actually assumed that he was a less active member). My conversation with Cody essentially went like this: “So what’s your story?”, I asked. He responded, “I really like coming every now and then, I like the people that I meet here, they all seem really great. I’m not a member or anything though.” The response that came to my mouth HAD to have been the Spirit because I said it without even realizing… I said, “So, you wanna join??”. He looked at me thoughtfully and responded, “hmm, maybe!”. We set up a lesson for Wednesday night, and the lesson went so well! We did it at his member friend Travis’ house. We focused on meeting his needs and establishing our purpose and vision. It was really powerful. He committed to reading the Book of Mormon. I followed up with him on Saturday via Facebook, and he was already halfway through 1 Nephi! When we asked about his associated prayers about it, he told us, “I realized that I need to pray more when I read. It helps me understand more and feel better”. Yes, yes it does! He came to church again on Sunday and was still reading the Book of Mormon even during church. (Haha) We are meeting again this week, and I am so excited to help him in this journey!

On Thursday and Friday, we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, and it was so fun! I was with Sister Nonne here in my area, and Sister Moore went with Sister Martin to 5th Ward. Sister Nonne came into the mission field with me, and we talked about how we were both on each others’ dream companion lists, haha. We had a bunch of appointments those days, and it went by so quickly. On Saturday, our zone had interviews with President Holmes, who is a member of the mission presidency. It was wonderful! Pres. Holmes gave me some very inspired counsel and guidance. I am so grateful for priesthood leaders on whom I can rely.

C'mon Sister Moore, take a selfie with me!

C’mon Sister Moore, take a selfie with me!

This week will be an exciting one- we are having an entire mission meeting in Bozeman on Wednesday! This is the first time in TEN years that the entire Montana Billings Mission has gathered in one place. We will be hearing from Elder W. Craig Zwick of the 70 and Michael Hemingway of the Missionary Department. It will be entirely focused on Missionay Work in the Digital Age, so we’ll be talking about Facebook and iPads primarily. We got drafts of the new handbooks for digital use, and as we each reviewed them, we kept thinking, “hey, we’re already doing all of this”. And then it dawned on us… we are the ones who figured out and created the rules in the first place! So I’m not anticipating anything particularly new on Wednesday, apart from information about the new devices that the mission will be receiving this summer. It’s exciting times to be in the Montana Billings Mission!

That’s about it for me this week, so I’ll just wish you all the best, and know that I love you and pray for you all! Have a happy week!