Archive | April, 2015

My Joy is Full

20 Apr
They're shipping me off to Oklahoma!

They’re shipping me off to Oklahoma!

“…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. […] And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many. […] Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of [us].” (Alma 26:11-12,30-31,36)

I have often told those I have taught that the only words of wisdom I can offer are those of the scriptures. I have been contemplating this morning what I should I write about in my last email, and they only thing that came to me was to just express my indescribable love and gratitude for the Savior, His gospel, and the opportunity to have served Him as a full-time missionary. I know that Jesus Christ lives! He loves each of us perfectly, and ministers to each of us “one by one” (3 Nephi 17:21). I have never felt such joy in my life as I have on the mission. I have felt the fulfillment of every promised blessing given in my call letter from the First Presidency. The Lord keeps His covenants and promises. I testify of that with all my soul- He keeps His promises. I love this work and I love these people. I have developed relationships that will continue far into the eternities. There were plenty of trials and discouraging days along the way, but they each had their purpose. I have learned to rely on my Savior in a way I never could have otherwise. My joy is full!

In conclusion, I echo the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.” It’s not really the end of my mission, just the end of one chapter and the start of another. I look forward with great anticipation for the life ahead of me! The gospel is true, and I will remain true to that gospel so long as I live. “Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.” (Alma 26:37)

Love always,
Sister Hoggan

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The Time is Far Spent

13 Apr
Biking along!

Biking along!

I feel like the anthem of my week has been the hymn “The Time is Far Spent”. In honor of this, I’m going to include the lyrics as part of my letter today, and comment on how they applied to me this week.

VERSE 1:
The time is far spent; there is little remaining
To publish glad tidings by sea and by land.
Then hasten, ye heralds; go forward proclaiming:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven’s at hand.

The time grows ever shorter. This is my next to last letter! I feel like a broken record player in saying that it just doesn’t feel real yet. The little black name-tag that I snap on my shirt over my heart each day is as much a part of me as my right hand. But you don’t really need a name-tag to be a missionary thankfully. I have truly felt the “glad tidings” of the gospel, both this week and every week before! We invited our investigator Sister Williams to be baptized on Wednesday… and she accepted!! She told us that it was the first time that she’s ever felt good about setting a baptism date before. She and her husband are taking a trip to Salt Lake City soon, so that she can, as she told us, “pick out my own set of scriptures”. She is wonderful! Now I just need to figure out how to travel back up here for the baptism…. #RMproblems
VERSE 2:
Shrink not from your duty, however unpleasant,
But follow the Savior, your pattern and friend.
Our little afflictions, tho painful at present,
Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end.

The Savior truly is our greatest example and friend. I have felt His loving support and embrace with me in an exceptional manner this week. We try to serve as He did and love as He did each day. This week, one of our investigators missed their appointment, which they don’t usually do. We were supposed to meet them at the church, so we hung around a bit and then decided that we’d better do something else. We had the idea to go get her cookies and drop them off at her house. We acted on the prompting, and when we dropped off the cookies, our investigator told us that she had gotten off work really late and had been having a really hard day, and the cookies were just what she needed. We didn’t teach a lesson during that hour, but we did make sure that someone felt loved.

VERSE 3:
What, tho, if the favor of Ahman possessing,
This world’s bitter hate you are called to endure?
The angels are waiting to crown you with blessings!
Go forward, be faithful, the promise is sure.

Tracting. Oh tracting. People are just… interesting. Their “bitter hate” tends be more amusing to us than hurtful. 🙂 And the people in Worland always think that we are Jehovah’s Witnesses… I’ve never gotten that comment so much until I got here.

VERSE 4:
Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you;
The weight of your calling he perfectly knows.
Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you;
His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.

As a mission, we have recitations that we say each morning. One of which is the “My Purpose” statement from Preach My Gospel, which is: My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Over and over this week, I have felt confirmations of my purpose and my calling. This is truly the work of the Lord, and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. Sister Wankier and I did a musical number at church on Sunday, and we sang a duet with a member accompanying us. There’s something about music that just always goes straight to my heart- I felt the Spirit so strongly and felt an overwhelming love for my Savior. This week, Satan has worked on me hard, but I know that I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

I love you all. I feel the strengthen power of your prayers, and I in turn pray for the safety and happiness of each of you daily. I know that prayer is real, and that God honors His promises. This work is real! And I love it with all my soul.

Wasn’t Conference Wonderful?!

6 Apr

Well, it’s April 6th, and that means that it’s been 185 years since the organization of the church! And it’s also the actual birthday of Jesus! I happened to be reading the Christmas story in the book of 3rd Nephi today when I realized that what the date was. I thought that was pretty cool. I hope you all had a lovely Easter and enjoyed General Conference. I love when they fall on the same weekend.

carselfie

The feeling when you leave a lesson and you can’t stop smiling… that’s what the mission’s all about. We taught the Williams last Monday night, and it was just perfect. During weekly planning the Thursday before, we felt impressed that we should teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson next rather than the Plan of Salvation, which is typically lesson #2. It didn’t really make logical sense but it felt right, and on Monday night we found out why. As we taught about the doctrine behind baptism and the “why” of the covenant, I felt the Spirit’s guiding hand. After that principle, Sister Williams said, “After so many missionaries teaching me over the years, they never explained why baptism was necessary or really what it was, so I was always afraid of it. I have always felt like I wasn’t good enough for the baptism… but now with the covenant it makes sense that God will help me”. We were able to testify to her about the gift of the Holy Ghost helping us and guiding us after our baptism and that we would be able to renew our covenants through the sacrament. When we got in the car after the lesson, Sister Wankier and I were so happy! We knew that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was exactly what she needed that night.

A beautiful Wyoming evening

A beautiful Wyoming evening

I went to my last zone conference on Tuesday, and it was wonderful as always! The theme was “Companions with the Lord”, and it was all focused on working in unity as a missionary companionship and also having the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I played the piano for the conference, and I accompanied a small ensemble musical number entitled, “Deep, Deep Love”. The lyrics of the piece were about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and there was a video of the crucifixion and resurrection playing silently on the projector during it. At the exact moment that they sang the line, “Deeper than the nails driven into His hands, is the love of a Father who gives His only Son”, it showed that exact scene in the video which I saw from the corner of my eye from the piano. I felt the depth of our Savior’s love, and it’s a miracle I was able to finish playing the piece because I could barely see through the tears in my eyes.

Happy Easter from the sisters! (Sister Wankier's mom sent us bunny mouth suckers, haha)

Happy Easter from the sisters! (Sister Wankier’s mom sent us bunny mouth suckers, haha)

The middle of the week was kind of rough for us because both Sister Wankier and I caught a small stomach bug. We’re pretty sure it was a little bit of food poisoning from a mexican restaurant that some members took us too… Let me tell you, I have not had good mexican food in 17 months! Oh well, this is Wyoming and Montana I suppose.

Oh General Conference, how I love thee! I felt like all of the talks were being spoken directly to my soul. I brought several questions that have been on my mind, and they were unequivocally answered. Some of the highlights that really stuck with me were Elder Renlund’s talk about how “saints are sinners who keep on trying”, and President Uchtdorf’s amazing explanation of how grace “does not move backward, but upward”. The talk that affected me the most with Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the 70’s about enduring to the end. I loved how he said, “hanging in there is not a principle of the gospel!”. He spoke directly to current and returned missionaries, saying, “Do NOT do a swan dive into Babylon!”. I have come to realized that the absolute key to maintaining what I have felt and experienced on my mission is the Book of Mormon. We each have the promise that if we study the Book of Mormon every day, every day, every day, that we will remain faithful and grounded by the “tree of life”. Oh, I could go on and on about what I learned and felt from General Conference!

The only amusing thing from this week that I can remember right now is that it was only us and the elders at the stake center for all four sessions of conference! We held out faith for a least one family to come to the Sunday morning session, but alas, ’twas just us and the elders again. I think the elders weren’t sure if we were supposed to be alone together (it was fine) so they sat at the wayyy back, haha.

Just us and the elders holdin' down the fort at the stake center during conference

Just us and the elders holdin’ down the fort at the stake center during conference

Well, the time grows ever shorter. I realized today that I only get to write you all two more times. But hey, then I get to see your lovely faces. I love you all so much!!! Have a marvelous week!