Monday, November 25, 2013

Pam's Baptism/3 New Investigators in Choctaw!

Alright so this has been a pretty awesome week. We picked up 3 new investigators which isn't incredible, but going from 0 to 3 investigators is a real good start. Elder Park and I have focused a lot of our studies on how to find people better because it's not very easy to get into homes and start teaching. If two guys showed up on your door and wanted to talk about religion, would you pay attention to what they had to say and let them in? Ha that's the classic problem, but we've been diving into the Book of Mormon and trying to figure out how Ammon, Aaron, Abinadi, Alma, and all those other awesome missionaries got people to listen to them. It has been working pretty well and we've found some good potentials. That's not to mention the 3 awesome investigators we found.
Matching Ties!

On Tuesday we met with an investigator named Bill who actually looked into the church about a year ago and is interested again. The problem is that he tells us he'd be baptized if he were 52, but he's 72 and he's too old now. We had a really good lesson though and his powerful prayer at the end consisted of him asking to be directed where he should go. He's a total talker and it's hard to get him to stay on topic, but when we do there are some powerful moments with the spirit pretty strong.  He has a lot of potential to join the church.

Then on Wednesday we met with a wonderful lady named Cindy. We met her while we were out walking a few days before that, and she was the very last person that we talked to. It was time to get back in for the night so we almost kept walking, but the spirit let us know we needed to stop and talk to her. Our first lesson with her got us pretty excited because she seems pretty interested in reading and learning about all of this. We actually get to meet with her again today so that should be awesome!

That same day we were knocking doors and met this guy Brady. He let us in to pray with us, but we ended up teaching the whole first lesson and he seemed excited to read the Book of Mormon. He was sick that day so he wasn't able to go to work. I guess it's not good that he was sick, but it was a total blessing because we probably wouldn't have met him otherwise. Brady is definitely looking for truth. Good news for him because he now has the Book of Mormon.

I got to go back for Pam's baptism this week which was pretty incredible. I was reminiscing on the whole process of how she was baptized because months before I got here to Oklahoma Sister Hammond had been praying for missionary opportunities. Then this lady named Michelle came along and Sister Hammond started to have a lot of gospel discussions with her and was helping her with a lot of things. I remember one morning Sister Hammond called us and we talked to her for a while, and she told us that she was going to invite Michelle over so we needed to clear our schedule for that night whether she came or not. That definitely showed a lot of faith on her part because she invited her and Michelle didn't show up; however, that whole time that Sister Hammond had been working with Michelle, Pam had gotten in on a lot of the conversations so she decided to come that night instead. We had dinner and taught the Restoration lesson. By the next time we met Pam already had a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was true. That just continued to grow through the weeks that followed that, and the gospel started to fill holes in her heart that she didn't even know she had. Pam was able to be baptized on her birthday which is super cool because November 23rd is now her birthday and spiritual re-birthday. Ha it was pretty cool. I was blessed with the opportunity to confirm her, and it was so cool to hear what Heavenly Father had in store for her. The words, "Receive the Holy Ghost" are so powerful and it is so amazing to see someone gain that gift. Pam is definitely a very special person and I'm excited to see her grow in the gospel.
Pam's Baptism

Yesterday was pretty crazy we got like 2 centimeters of snow, so they cancelled church and we were told that we couldn't drive our cars. I guess Oklahoma isn't used to these kind of conditions. The area that we live in is pretty spread out too, so we could bike around but that would be pretty innefective. Luckily, an amazing member came and picked us up and wanted help to do her member missionary work. We made loaves of bread to deliver to her neighbors and got to watch the restoration dvd. Then once the bread was finished we went out to deliver the bread. This is when things got crazy. We would go up to doors and offer people the bread that their neighbor made and they were saying no. I looked at them and just thought, you fools why don't you take our bread? I mean it makes sense when people say no to our message because they hear crazy things about us and don't know what they're missing out on, but when we put a warm loaf of fresh baked bread in their face, it just doesn't make sense why they wouldn't take it. Haha I'm used to getting rejected by this point, but when you reject my bread now we got a problem. Jk, but it was actually super funny to talk to the people. After a while we were able to give away the bread, but we just couldn't get over the fact that people didn't want some delicious bread in a cute bag with ribbon on it.

Haha anyways, I talked about the bread thing for way too long, but this has been a pretty awesome week. Elder Park is an amazing missionary, so we're going to have a lot of fun and success in this area. Life is good all the time. I love you lots and hope you have a good week. HFF!

Love, Elder Hoddy

Monday, November 18, 2013

First Transfer/Choctaw/New Companion

P-Day Shopping
P-Day  Shopping
Dang this week has been crazy! I finally left my first area which was super sad, but I am so happy to be here in Choctaw. We spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday saying goodbye to people which was not my favorite memory, but I sure loved spending my last few hours there with my favorite peeps. Jake was with us both nights because he loves us so much and he had to have a goodbye. I can't wait til december 7th to see him again. Pam is getting baptized this Saturday though, so I guess it won't be too long before I go back to the Village. I'm super excited and I get to do the confirmation.
So my new companion, Elder Park, is so awesome. We've been out the same amount of time which is super nice and we are having a blast together. The other Elders that are serving around us are awesome too. One of them is my good friend that we served around a few months ago and now he is in my district, so I was so happy to see him and we're having a blast already.
I definitely miss so many people from the Village area, but this ward seems so much more like family, so I'm so excited to be here. At sacrament meeting everyone was so excited to see us and there were so many kids running up to us and saying hi. It's kind of like the town of Vineyard here too because so many of the people are related. This area is a lot more rural, so I'm getting to experience a lot more of Oklahoma. The only bad part is that we don't have any investigators. We have been working hard the last few days though, so we have some great people with potential and some good set appointments throughout next week. The people here are seriously so funny.
Well I don't have a lot to report this week, but I'm really excited about this area so I should have some good stories. Thanks for everything and I love you lots. Have a good week.
Elder Hoddy


baby Elder Hoddy and Uncle Zachary

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kevin's Baptism/Spiritual Self Reliance for Jake

(Sorry I am late getting this posted.  I have pictures to add but will have to do that later)
Ok wow so this week has been pretty intense. I'll start with the best highlights of the week. Kevin got baptized! It was all pretty scattered that morning because we were trying to get so much done and making sure everything was ready. Then the baptism started and the spirit totally entered the room. Kevin had a lot of family there that aren't members, so they were able to feel of the importance of baptism. The talk on baptism was super powerful and totally set the stage for the baptism. Then Kevin went into the baptismal font with his uncle. I could hear a lot of his family start to cry and the powerful words "Having been comissioned of Jesus Christ" were said. Then Kevin was baptized and came up crying. It was seriously such an amazing moment to watch him making all the right decisions and to be able to feel the spirit testify of its importance. Kevin's grandma, after watching that, seems like she is ready to start taking the discussions, and I feel confident that she will be baptized. It was awesome to see the amazing ordinance and the effects of one person's righteous decisions.
After the baptism, Kevin's girlfriend gave an inspired talk about the Holy Ghost. She talked about the love and comfort that it had given her through the challenges in her life, and it really set the stage for him to propose shortly after the baptism. It was one of the best days on my mission.
Then with Jake we had a whole bunch of lesson with him. On Thursday we had a lesson with him and talked a lot about sacrifice and gaining a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet and the Book of Mormon as the word of God. This has been a huge struggle lately because he wants to be baptized and says he will be baptized, but is struggling to gain a testimony of its truthfulness. He set a new baptismal date for December 7th and he says that he will definitely hit it.
Then on Friday we had another lesson with Jake and decided to teach the last 2 things that he needed to know before baptism. One of them was follow the prophet, so we were talking about that and Elder Evans asked, "Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet?" Then the reply came. "Yes"! Quickly my mind started thinking, "Did he not hear the question?", "Is he messing with us?", "We better ask again". Again, "Do you know that Joseph Smith was a prophet?" The reply was the same, "Yes". Next, "Do you know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God?" Again the reply was "Yes". So we finished it off with "Do you know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world", and one last time we heard the word "Yes"! Then I heard the word yayyyyyy shriek from my mouth. Although I tried to hold it back I was just too happy. Jake finally has a testimony of the gospel and is ready to be baptized. It was so awesome.
He actually realized that as he was writing a blog post for one of his friends who runs a blog about Mormons. He wrote it from the perspective of an investigator and kept writing the erasing it. Finally after rereading Alma 32, he started to pace and came to the realization that "This is true to me". He finished the blog post and now has a testimony of the restored gospel.
Then on Saturday our dinner appointment cancelled, so Jake took us out to eat. We had a super fun dinner and got to talk about a lot of fun things. Jake has probably become the best friend that I have in Oklahoma, and we have a blast talking together. After dinner I reflected back on the dinner that there had been no promptings to teach him the gospel and no promptings to bear testimony on a topic. I realized that Jake had become spiritually self-sufficient. He now has a strong testimony, and although he needs me as a friend just as much as I need him, he no longer needs me as a missionary. I got the call the next night that I'm leaving this area.
It's crazy to look back on the last 6 months and wonder what I've accomplished and if I did enough. I can't completely answer either of those questions, but this has been an incredibly uplifting experience. Kevin was baptized, Jake is ready for baptism and I get to baptize him, and Pam is also ready for baptism and I get to confirm her. It is really sad to know that I'm leaving, but it has been a blast and I love the ward here. There were a lot of other great things that happened this week, but this has been a good ending to my time in the Village Ward. I didn't mention Pam enough because it has been amazing to be part of her confirmation as well. I can't wait for Pam and Jake to be baptized and I'll definitely come back for those and send pictures.
Anyways, I guess this is the life of a missionary. What matters most is the wonderful people you get to be around, and I have been really fortunate.
I love you all and hope you have an amazing week. Keep up the good prayers because they make a difference for us.
Elder Hoddy

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Fun Missionary Style

Okey doke so this has been the usual awesome week.
On monday we had a good ol time for p-day and partied to hard-core 4 square (team edition) Chief Judge Hoddy rules once again. P-days are always a blast here and we have an awesome zone, so it's always fun to see the other missionaries. Then that night we visited the Helsleys with a member and had a little FHE lesson. It was so awesome. Rori, the 6 year old daughter, conducted the meeting, and Aidan prayed in front of us for the first time. Then we had a good time singing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Ya the kids were going a little crazy at that point so it probably wasn't the best song decision, but we sure had fun. Then we read about Alma the Younger for the lesson. We used the children's version of the Book of Mormon and it went pretty awesome. We hadn't planned what we were going to do for the activity, so we decided to act out the entire story for an activity and it actually turned out super good. I got to be the director/narrator, so I just got to stand there and tell everybody what to do. Sister Helsley came in as the angel with a blanket cape and a halo and started to rebuke her child for leading people away from the church. The kids got to have fun being Alma and Alma the Younger. It was just a good time. Then we had a closing song of once there was a snowman. Ya we didn't learn from our mistake with the earlier song because the kids went crazy again. Hopefully they will start making FHE a tradition each week.
On Tuesday we visited some less active members in the morning and had an interview with President Walkenhorst that afternoon. We were waiting for the sisters to pick us up because we don't have a car, but they backed into something so we were late. President Walkenhorst is one of the nicest people I have ever met and every time I meet with him I always feel like a good missionary and inspired to be a little better. It is really cool to be around him and learn from him. Then that night we went teaching with Jake. We were a little bit nervous to take him teaching because you never know what some crazy person is going to say, but it turned out super well and he really enjoyed it.
Wednesday was a real good time because we had our ward trunk or treat that night. Elder Evans and I went with dinosaur hats and mustaches. Ha it was awesome! The Helsleys came and few less active members as well, so we had a real good time walking around, spreading the gospel, and partaking of the blessings of baked goods.
Halloween was also a lot of fun. We sing at a retirement home each week for service, so we got there and realized that we needed some good Halloween songs but we only knew like zero. We came up with some real good winners though right on the spot, and the people there loved it. They were taking videos and pictures. It was pretty crazy because we're not used to the paparazzi. Jk, but it was a good time. Then for dinner we ate at a recent converts home and Jake came with us. After dinner he taught the restoration to all of us with one of the sister missionaries. It was pretty awesome to see him teaching the gospel, and he's pretty dang good at it. He will be such a strong member pretty soon.
Friday was awesome. We ate Chic-ful-A for lunch and got to go to the temple with Kevin that night (I got the chicken strips meal). Kevin is doing amazing. He is super excited to get baptized, and even more excited to go to the temple a year after baptism. He is always so happy to meet with us and we are officially done teaching him everything he needs to know before baptism. His interview is tonight and he is going to pass with flying colors. The temple was something really special because he loves the idea of being able to live with his family forever. Ha who doesn't love that idea. Anyways, We're pretty excited for him. The baptism is all scheduled for this upcoming Saturday.
On Saturday we finally got to see Pam again and we helped her move within the same apartment complex. She has decided to move her date to November 23rd which is her birthday, but she is going to be completely ready by then, so we're pumped. We also had a really good lesson with Jake, but he doesn't feel ready for baptism on the 9th. He still struggles with a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon even though we feel like the answer is punching him right in the face. I've thought a lot about it though. Jake easily could have received an answer a month ago and joined the church; however, he is continually giving up more and more and trying so much harder to find answers to his questions. Receiving an answer at this point would mean so much more to him than if he received one a couple months ago. He can count how man Dallas Cowboys games he hasn't watched on one hand. That's for his entire life, but he left both games early this week, so he could come to all three hours of church. He didn't check scores this week either. He is so close to baptism at this point, we just need to find the tipping point that will help him decide to be baptized.
This week has been a good one. I guess that things that make a week good out here are how well investigators are doing. They are all doing pretty well, so I'm happy. I hope everything is going well back home. Keep me updated. I love you all! HFF
Elder Hoddy

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baptism Dates Set!

Dear Family,
Ok so this has been another good one. We met with Kevin, one of our investigators, and he has already planned out his entire baptism, he has gone through the baptismal questions, he reads the Book of Mormon every night, and overall he is just ready. He is going to be baptized on November 9th so we are so excited. Keep praying for him though because you never know how Satan is going to attack right before people make these kind of covenants. We've been meeting with him for a couple months and every time we meet with him he is more excited about it all. We're so excited too!
I forgot my joural today so I'm trying to write all of this out of memory which is way harder because I put a ton of good stuff in there. We have enough good stories to last for a while though so I think we're in good shape. On Monday we got to teach a Family Home Evening group for singles over 30 which was a total blast. We didn't have time to prepare super well, but we were talking about Christlike attributes and Preach My Gospel has a really good activity so we were set. We split everyone up into different groups and I got to chat for a while with a bunch of really nice ladies. On a scale from 1 to awesome, it was pretty dang neat.
We got to see Jake a whole bunch this week, and some of my favorite quotes are, "I'm 99.9% sure how this all ends", and "Not only do I want to be baptized, I will be baptized". He's getting a lot closer to baptism and we still believe that he's going to baptized on November 9th. He went from not believing in Christ and thinking the Book of Mormon was a total joke to starting to believe in Christ and confident/hopeful that the Book of Mormon is true. He is getting so close, but looking back at how far he has come is amazing. He has been prepared over his life to hear this gospel and he is going to be a very strong member. Someone came up to church this week and is trying to set him up with her friend. Someone on the public affairs committee invited him to dinner with us too because he knows a lot of people that work in politics. Our ward is really excited to see Jake and Kevin at church each week and they're both getting so close to baptism. Just another week and a half.
We also met with the Helsleys multiple times and they're definitely making progress. Sister Helsley has basically told us that she believes what we tell her and she loves how family oriented it all is. We are trying to build her a support system because she has so many friends from other churches, and she doesn't have a whole lot of support from our ward. Once we build that up she will take a lot more steps though. We talked with their neighbors for a while about ideas how we can help them. They are some of the funniest members ever and Brother Adams was dancing around the exact way that dad does. I sarted dying laughing when he started doing it.
Overall this has been a super awesome week. I'm super bummed that I forgot my journal, but this is plenty I guess. One day we were riding through the slightly less wealthy area (hard-core ghettos, hide yo kids, hide yo wife), and Elder Evans stops to give this guy a card and he starts screaming, " Methodist! Methodist! Methodist! Methodist!". Haha it was like we were offending him by just being in his presence and he wouldn't even look at us. We got a total kick out of it though, and we always see so many funny things in that area. We also meet some of the most humble amazing people, so you never know what you're going to get.
Anyways I hope things continue to go well at home. Sounds like Vegas was a good time, and you're all having fun. I love you lots and have a good week. HFF!
-Elder Hoddy