Monday, June 30, 2014

Spiritual Hugs!

Hey Family!
It's been another great week with Elder Rodriguez. He got his cast off today, so he's got a beautiful tan line on his arm and he's looking great over there emailing.
We had an amazing miracle with the Waldens this week. On Monday we we're going over to meet with Mike and Chessie. Chessie has been really excited about getting baptized, but Mike has had a lot of doubts and hasn't been able to meet with us for a long time. We finally had the appointment set up though, but right before going, Chessie texted us and said that Mike was leaving and didn't want to meet with us. We had just gotten back from dinner and we were with the sisters, so we asked them to come with us. We were frustrated, so we said a prayer in the school parking lot then went over. He was actually there when we arrived, so we were pretty relieved. The spirit guided the lesson and Chessie taught us about the restoration with one of the sister missionaries. Mike got to ask a lot of good questions and recognized that the spirit was there. The next day we felt like we needed to send him Joshua 24:15, and asked him "What day?" He texted back "This day!" He had a few spiritual experiences and now he is ready to be baptized. It is amazing to see how much the spirit can change us if we let it. Mike is such a good guy and he does great at leading the family. I can't wait to see how much the gospel helps him grow.
We got to have a lot of other cool lessons this week and we really focused on getting our investigators to church. We worked so hard making sure they understood the importance and felt comfortable coming. Right before church, the texts started coming in that people weren't going to make it. We were so frustrated that we had worked so hard to make that happen and now people weren't going to make it. We ended up going to the seminary room and talking with Heavenly Father for a few minutes. We both got to experience spiritual hugs and we were able to ponder about the covenants we were about to renew. It gave the sacrament a much deeper meaning that day and I'm so thankful that we had the time to think and pray before then. Our investigators will be there next week and it will all work out.
Life in Choctaw has been great and I'm loving my time out here. It's been fun to see the changes of the ward and area. I know that God leads this work and we are so blessed to be a part of it. Have a wonderful week. HFF!
-Elder Hoddy

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Have You Ever Asked, "Is God Really Answering My Prayers?"

This week has been another wonderful week. Having Elder Rodriguez here has been a huge blessing and the area is seeing a lot of growth. He seriously has a 24-hour smile that keeps me going and makes life easier. He's great.
     One of the great experiences we had this week was meeting with our investigator Tom. He's an older man and we've been meeting with him for a while. He's been in and out of the hospital for the last few months because of heart problems and he has been in a lot of pain. This time when we went over he seemed to be moving a lot more easier and was a whole lot happier than he has been in the past. We gave him a priesthood blessing then began talking about his recent experiences with prayer. He shared in great frustration that he was on his knees every night talking to the Lord and he didn't feel like anyone was talking back. He has been told all his life that he would get answers, so he was praying but felt like he wasn't getting answers. His honesty really touched my heart, and I could tell that he was sincerely trying to talk and get answers. It hit home because there have been many times in my life where I've been on my knees and felt like I wasn't getting answers. The way his life has changed from being sad, lonely, stressful, and in constant pain to the happy, thriving, moving person he was that day was clear evidence to me that God is in every way answering his prayers and his life is so much better for it. Sometimes it just takes us taking a step back and gratefully looking at what we truly have. I also learned how much honesty invites the spirit.
     Another great experience was yesterday as we were invited to attend another church. These people are some of the most kind and Christ-like people I have met in Oklahoma and we were glad to be at church with them. The music was great and the people were great as well. I really don't want to say anything bad about the church because I was strengthened as I watched many good people doing their best to worship our Father in Heaven and Savior, but as missionaries we could tell that there was something missing. It seemed like the people were emotionally searching for the spirit or anything that would help them feel close, but the lack of the spirit was evident. It made me really ponder about what the spirit is and what it feels like. It truly is the deep down inner-peace, inner-joy, and the love that we feel for others. It often is hard to describe because the spirit becomes part of us; therefore, who we become often teaches us more about the spirit than words ever could.
     This week has definitely taught me a lot. Sister Berna is doing amazing. Her testimony has grown and she is very confident that she is getting baptized on July 19th. She made the decision that she is going to get baptized whether she has the support of her family or not, and lately she has felt confident enough to start teaching her kids about the restored gospel. There is a glow about her lately that I haven't seen in many other people, but she is being led by the spirit much more often in her life and it has been great to see her growth in the last few months. The joy that we have with these people outweigh the hard times 1000 to 1. There is no fun like missionary fun.
I love you all and hope you have the best week ever! HFF!

PS I have to mention that Elder Rodriguez can do the perfect Nacho Libre voice, and we have all the quotes that dad sent me, so we are becoming one with our inner luchadore. It's been fantastic.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Companion--Elder Rodriguez!

This week was another wonderful week. Having Elder Rodriguez here has been amazing because he is a really good missionary. He wants to share the gospel with everyone, he is always upbeat, he is really humble, and he is an all around good disciple of Jesus Christ. We're going to learn a lot and get work done this transfer.
We had some really special experiences with the McCormicks this week. At the end of the lesson we were about to have the prayer, and for some reason (the spirit) we decided to ask their 3 year-old son Max to pray. He had never prayed before, so his dad got down next to him and helped him know what to say. He kind of struggled, but the spirit was so thick. We share messages the strengthen families and we talk about families a lot, but experiences like that are testimony builders of how real this is. Having a strong gospel centered family is totally available to them, and the spirit testified of that during the special prayer. After the prayer it was a time of rejoicing for all of us and everyone had grins from ear to ear.
We also had a cool realization with them that we had been telling them over and over again how much they needed the gospel and it just wasn't what they needed. We were given a talk about the need for others to serve. Joseph Smith said, "A religion the doesn't require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to provoke or produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation". We prayerfully pondered what Zack could do for the ward and then proceeded to let him know that the ward needs his service. Zack said that he felt like that was the motivation he needed to really search this out. He loves to serve and I can totally see him serving as a scout leader in the next few months. We're pretty excited about them.
I'm really grateful to have Elder Rodriguez here and we have a lot of good weeks ahead of us. He knows his stuff and I'm trying to learn quickly from him.
I love you! HFF!
-Elder Hoddy

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This Work/Sharing The Gospel Is So Much Fun!

This week has been a really cool testimony to me how involved Heavenly Father is in this work. I haven't been able to be in my area very much because I'm staying in another area with a couple elders and President couldn't find me another companion to work with until transfers. However, every time I have been in Choctaw this week, Heavenly Father helped me use the time as effectively as possibly. We were able to have a lot of lessons.
The Ferris family came to Sacrament Meeting this week and it seemed like one of the speakers spoke directly to them. He has been a convert for 10 years and just got released as a bishop in the ward next to us. He talked about the importance of modern day prophets and combined it with his person conversion story. Their daughter even came to church even though she had an ear infection. It seems like many investigators find reasons not to come to church, but they found every reason to come. I'm really excited for the future of this family.
I get a companion on Thursday, Elder Rodriguez. Hopefully he'll teach me Spanish or something cool.
It's been so fun to stay with these Elders. Their area is definitely a city area and there are so many people to talk to everywhere. Sometimes it seems like we can't get anywhere because we're always stopping to talk to people. I guess that's where the Lord needs us though.
This work is so much fun. I can't imagine not doing this right now, and it's just so amazing to be here. On the way to emailing this morning we stopped to get gas, and I got to talk to the guy next to me for a few minutes about his life and what matters to him. It is just such a cool experience to always be talking about the things that matter most and to watch people smile as you share something uplifting with them. Find opportunities to share the gospel, even if it's with the members around you, and you will constantly be reminded of the great blessings you have. I love you all so much! HFF!
-Elder Hoddy

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Early Transfer for Elder Van Halder

This week has been awesome, but it has been super crazy! Elder Van Halder got transferred early and President couldn't find me another companion, so I'm living with the Elders in the ward next to Choctaw and I'm trying to get splits everyday so I still work in the area. It's definitely a new experience not having a companion to help me plan and always have my back, but the members have been awesome and a lot of people volunteered to help me out this upcoming week. The Choctaw ward is awesome.
     This week I read a talk by Elder Bednar called "In the strength of the Lord", and it has made me think a lot about the way Heavenly Father works and what our relationship should be with him. Elder Bednar talks about praying for strength rather than praying for God to fix our problems. Rather than focusing on the redeeming power of the Atonement, he focused on the enabling power that we could have. In stead of praying that God will solve our problems, we can pray for help or inspiration or anything else we need to accomplish the tasks. In Mosiah 24, Alma and the people are in bondage to the Lamanites. They continually pour out their hearts to God and their burdens are eased. He promises to deliver them from bondage and He easily could have done that from the beginning, but instead he strengthens them in their trials. They show their faith and patience, and submit cheerfully to the will of the Lord. After that He delivers them. I think the same thing happens with all of us. We often pray for God to take our challenges away from us when His will is often to strengthen us through them so we can learn. It is like in weights class when we would do as many pull-ups as we could then someone would lift our legs and help us to do more than we can do alone. The reason is always to make us stronger.
      Sister Berna (future Sister Walden) is getting baptized on July 19. I met her clear back in December, and now I'll get to see the entire process from the time we knocked on the door until the time she'll be baptized by the priesthood authority. I feel like I have been blessed with a glimpse of seeing her the way God sees her. She has changed and truly become an amazing disciple of our Savior. I can't wait for her to make those covenants and continue to become a better person.
     I'll probably be in Choctaw til the end of July, so I guess there is still a lot of work for me to do here. I'm learning lots and the ward is growing. I love it here. Thanks for all the support. Have a great week. HFF!
-Elder Hoddy