Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's Been A Glorious Two Years!

It's been a glorious two years. I really don't know how to express my gratitude as I look back to the amazing memories, friends, and opportunities. There are few gifts I cherish more than the opportunity to serve in the Oklahoma City Mission.

One email could never explain all that someone learns in two years, but I'll share a couple things today. In John 6 a group of people seeking for Jesus, finally find him and he says to them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled".

These words hit home. We don't seek our Savior because it's the popular thing or because we're scared of punishment. We experience Christ and we want more. We taste of his love, glory, and mercy. Without hesitation we desire more. Then as your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. I seek my Savior because of the special experiences we have had together.

After two years of labor I will come home with 2 suitcases, relationships, and conversion. What was given to me out of this experience was better than anything I could have imagined. I now have an Oklahoma family and I better understand my heavenly family. The sacred relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are treasured above all else.

It has been so hard to think about leaving this life. I love walking the streets holding the Book of Mormon. I love the mindset of trying to figure out how to tie conversations into the restoration. I love bearing testimony frequently of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have loved the opportunity to serve this way and I'm really going to miss it.

Now I will look forward to the future service opportunities.

I could go on and on about the amazing things of the mission. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

Signing off for the last time,
Elder Hoddy

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It All Comes Down To The Atonement Of Jesus Christ

We had a mission conference with Elder Corbridge (photo above) of the seventy yesterday which was an incredible experience. That's why we didn't email yesterday. It was amazing to see the confidence that he taught with as he talked about baptism for the remission of sin and the way we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It all comes down to the Atonement. Everything else points to that and things that don't point to it aren't worth our time. We watched a short video of the Garden of Gethsemane and he asked us to describe the message in two words. Someone immediately responded, "Thank you!" It was such an incredible moment as we felt an immense gratitude for our Savior. Elder Corbridge gave us the words he had, but he said they weren't as good. It is amazing to watch the way general authorities teach.

Another amazing thing that happened was that Haley (photo above) got baptized on Saturday! It has been so cool to see the transformation as she has grown in the gospel. She didn't know if she even believed in God when we first started meeting with her, but she has prayed many times and gotten answers. She has read a lot of the Book of Mormon, and she has been coming to church every week. She seems so much happier now. I don't know everything that goes on in her head, but it has been a great opportunity to be her missionaries. During the baptism as the words were being said there was an incredible peace. She has now been baptized by the priesthood authority for the remission of sins. Haley is eternally better off because of this decision.

Have a good week Momma! Love you.

-Elder Hoddy

Thursday, April 30, 2015

We Will Become New Creatures...How Cool Is That!

This has been another solid week! We've seen a lot of miracles and the zone has seen incredible growth. 

We had a really cool opportunity talking to a Less Active friend this week. It was a great time chatting with him and we had one of our favorite members with us. At the end he shared that he had a huge struggle with God because his daughter has had special needs her whole life and he doesn't understand why God would do that. It was a special opportunity to bear testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the resurrection. We don't know if he will ever understand why this happened, but he can find peace and acceptance. We hope that he will gain that.

A few scriptures I wanted to share.

Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Christ has better things for us and he invites us to change, but to obtain something we need to leave where we are now.

Helaman 5:10 ...the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come 
to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.

Our Savior isn't content with us being stuck in the mud. He wants to help us out of it. He didn't atone for our sins, so that we remain imperfect. He atoned so we can be like him. He redeems us from our sinds instead of in our sins.

Mosiah 27:25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
 26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

We will become new creatures! How cool is that! We leave behind the past. We are redeemed. The natural man becomes extinct and we see a reflection of our beloved Savior instead. God wants us to be better. I love the truths taught of our Heavenly Father teaching us.
Elder Christofferson said, "A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist". He does require that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God.

Life teaches us about what truly matters. We put so much effort into things sometimes only to realize we're left with nothing in return. Spiritual matter will always leave us filled. Church, prayer, reading, fhe, temples, and all spiritual things will leave us filled everytime and we will look back with gratitude for the amazing life God has brought us. Well best news of the day... We're an eternal family. Love you. HFF

-Elder Hoddy

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rely Wholly On The Merits Of Him Who Is Mighty To Save

Elder Beus and I have had another incredible week!
We got a new ward mission leader this week and he has been such a blessing. He is a man that is truly striving to magnify his calling. We are having a missionary movie night this week watching Meet the Mormons and He has come up with plans to visit a few families this week to talk about missionary work. We can't wait to see all the things that comes from this.

We had an incredible experience with Anne this week. She had been having a lot of challenges these past few weeks, but everything has changed drastically for the better. We didn't know it, but she watched general conference and loved President Uchtdorf's talk. It's amazing how Heavenly Father gave her opportunities in life to be humble and now she is progressing quickly in the gospel. We had a member over there the other day testifying about what Jesus Christ had done for him when she looked up the said, "The Atonement!" It's amazing that she gets it. She came to church yesterday as well!

Helaman 4:
 13 And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.

Whether we like it or not the trials come. We signed up for this. However, our ability to overcome challenges largely depends on our strength to endure and hopefully we are like the people of Nephi "relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save" (2 Nephi 31:9). Sometimes as a missionary I've said to myself, look how far I've come. I'm so glad to be different. I then begin to forget how it was that I traveled so far. My Savior. We are a team. The motivation, strength, joy, peace, and everything else I owe to Him. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. We sat on a couch yesterday bearing testimony to a couple why they should live a commandment and we explained our motives that first we teach them because we love our Savior and second because we love them.

So what is the evidence in us when we are relying wholly on His merits and when we are left in our own strength? Although I will only suggest one today, I hope you will think about your personal evidence. Personal prayer is an incredible indicator. What are we praying for? Did you pray today? What did you pray for? If you don't remember, why did you take the time to petition at all if you're not willing to put effort in to look for His blessings? You are a child of God. He wants to answer your prayers and He wants you to grow from the experience. As you pray sincerely and look for the answers, you will learn to rely on His merits and not your own strength.

Another miracle we remembered. Our friend Baylee walked into church one day and said that she was thinking about becoming a member permanently. She was baptized in February and invited her friend Haley to learn more. Now Haley is getting baptized next week and she invited her friend Bethany to one of our lessons this past week. Hopefully this pattern continues on for a while. Baylee's attitude is that she is going to get all of her friends to be Mormon. She is an awesome member missionary!

Thanks for all the support! I love each of you very much! HFF

-Elder Hoddy

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Spirit Is Real And Will Testify Of Truth

Another amazing week with the Elder Beus in Yukon, Oklahoma!
There have been a few scriptures I've been pondering about that I want to share. I hope that you will ponder your desire to follow the Savior and think about what you can do to better understand the promptings of the Spirit. They are Matthew 16:15-17.

 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

I love this example of obtaining spiritual truths. Peter knows that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. How? How does he know that he is the Savior? Is it because of the miracles? Christ quickly answers this question by telling us that flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. Up to this point, Peter has had many emotional experiences and has worked with the Savior closely. To clear up any confusion the Savior states simply how Peter could know such an incredible truth that it was revealed by "my Father which is in Heaven".

Now in this mortal journey full of opposition we have the incredible opportunity to learn what the spirit feels like. It's a life long process that we are getting so much better at. When I see any of the children of God struggling with the ability to recognize the spirit, I rejoice at the fact that they are trying. They joined the club. Like Peter, their desire to follow the Savior has become evident.

As I drove down the road one day I asked my wonderful companion how I could better recognize the spirit. He laughed then looked at me and said, "trial and error, trial and error".

Are we humble and courageous enough to follow promptings however difficult they may be? I honestly have said yes and I have honestly said no to that question. When I have said yes there have been miracles. There was a different sense of confidence and peace. When I said no, life was a little empty.

We read that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, and peace, but sometimes it seems the fruit is at the top of a tall tree on a tall mountain and we're far from that. I testify that the spirit is in your life and it will give you many opportunities to enjoy this life. The joy of the gospel isn't too far. We can recognize and experience it.

We were on exchanges in Clinton this week and we met an Atheist named Andrew. We talked about religious perspectives and no matter what we talked about he seemed to know an answer for everything with his philosophical arguments. Elder Christofferson spoke about moral relavitism last conference and I felt like he was talking about Andrew. He believed he was his own highest power.

We then pulled out our scriptures and gave him our only proof. We read James 1:5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. We couldn't prove which men wrote the bible, when they did it, or why. We couldn't give him a live video of the first vision or let him watch the Savior appear to the people of the Americas, but through our life's experience of the things which "[our] Father which is in Heaven" has revealed to us, it is true. We bore testimony and he sat there quietly. We challenged him to pray for the first time in his life and there were no more arguments, only the question of, should I believe? I can't wait for that question to be answered.

The Spirit is real and will testify of truth. 

I am loving my mission. It is changing my perspective of everything and I love it. I have fears and I have weakness, but I am watching the Savior help me overcome those.

I love you all! HFF!

-Elder Hoddy

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ's Power To Redeem Will Always Be Greater Than Our Power To Fail And Fall

This has been another fantastic week. We found out that I will stay with Elder Beus for the next transfer here in Yukon. We are losing a big part of our area though because our stake added two new wards yesterday! It was really exciting news. We got to hear about the growth of the stake. Since 2000, when the temple was built here, this stake has gone from 3000 members to 5900, and surrounding stakes have seen a lot of growth as well. The stake is going very rapidly and the work is hastening.

We were driving to visit someone this week, but her car wasn't there, so we flipped around and headed to the apartment complex we felt inspired to go to. One of our good friends Bobby was outside, so we rolled down the window and talked to him for a couple minutes. We asked if we could have a lesson and he invited us up to his apartment. We started chatting for a few minutes then he stopped us because he needed to tell us something. He told us that on his way home from work he decided that he didn't want to meet with us anymore because he didn't think that it was true, but we showed up 15 minutes after he was thinking that. To him it was a sign to keep going. We had a special lesson where we were able to bear testimony that God wanted him on His side. He was reluctant, but the spirit was working on him. Without us asking he is making many changes in his life to be a better man. His roommate recently joined the church and we visited him yesterday. He told us that Bobby bought a bible to prove that the Book of Mormon is true, and he believes it is true now. We have a lesson with him tonight, so we'll get to hear all of that from his own mouth! He is such an amazing man. We can't wait to see what Heavenly Father has in store for our good friend Bobby.

I was reading in Mormon the other day and found this verse.

Mormon 6:7 And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.

I'm sure that had to be a very saddening and discouraging moment for Mormon. He knew this was the end of the people he loved, and they stood there fearful and unrepentant. In the Bible Dictionary under fear it says, the first effect of Adam’s sin was that he was afraid (Gen. 3:10). Sin destroys that feeling of confidence God’s child should feel in a loving Father and produces instead a feeling of shame and guilt.

Contrasting that with the Stripling Warriors in Alma 56 we read,

 46 behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.

 47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

When we face challenges and mighty winds what kind of confidence do we want? And what will it take for us to build that confidence? Challenges will come in this life regardless, but our reactions to them will differ drastically by our preparation. We can build our spiritual 72 hour kits, food storage, evacuation plans, and anything else. It takes our simple efforts of prayer, scripture study, church attendance, fhe, and other basic things. These efforts root our lives deeply into the foundation of our Savior. I bear testimony that Christ's power to redeem and strengthen will always be greater than our power to fail and fall. We can stand face to face with the greatest challenges of this life with complete confidence of victory. The winning team has already been chosen.

I love each of you. Thank you for all your efforts in the work of salvation. We stand as a great team in the work of our God. HFF!

-Elder Hoddy

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Have Felt To Sing The Song Of Redeeming Love

(We didn't get a family e-mail from Jake this week so I am going to include and excerpt from one of his hand-written letters)

Dear Mom,

I forgot to share my thoughts on being perfect in Christ.  I think I mentioned the example of 2 bank accounts joining in marriage.  If we had debt and our spouse had assets they would balance each other and hopefully the assets would outweigh the debts.  With Christ that is always the case.  On His team we have an abundance of assets.  Imagine our family becoming a choir; we wouldn't be terrible but we wouldn't be winning any competitions either.  Then imagine the seven of us put in the the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Their voices would drown out our imperfections.  If we yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ, the view of this life becomes absolutely beautiful.  There will still be mistakes and errors, but the overall perception of this life will seem perfect.  

The way I view my mission up to this point is that it has been perfect.  It has been an absolutely amazing opportunity.  The Mistakes and problems seem drowned out.  Christ will do this with every individual.  He has enough assets for all of us if we will simply stay with Him.  

I used to teach about the Atonement from my intellectual understanding, but I now speak from experience.  I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love and I do feel so now (Alma 5:26).  I bear testimony that Jesus Christ lives.
Love, Elder Hoddy