Monday, July 21, 2014

Farewell To A Great Area, Choctaw And A Great Companion, Elder Rodriguez

Well I'm finally getting transferred from Choctaw! I've been here for 8 1/2 months, so it seems crazy that I'm leaving. After getting the call I really couldn't sleep. These people have been on my mind day and night for months and now I'm leaving them. Elder Rodriguez is an amazing missionary and he's going to take care of everyone. We are meeting with our 3 main investigator families tonight and tomorrow, so hopefully we'll have baptismal dates for them and I'll know when to come back. I'm still freaking out that I'm leaving though. Elder Rodriguez has been so much fun to be with. The other night we were talking about Karate and fighting and all this stuff, so we decided that it was time for a luchador match. He told me to choke him and he would show me some moves how to get out of it, but he's really ticklish, so every time I would get close he would hiss at me and push me away. I couldn't stop laughing. I'm really going to miss this brother.
      Something that one of our leaders challenged us to do was to write down our spiritual experiences every day. It sounded kind of dumb at first, so I didn't do it enough, but we have been doing it every day lately and I am amazed how involved Heavenly Father is in our lives. Most of them aren't amazing experiences with great manifestations, but we constantly have simple promptings and we end up in the right places. I feel like I know Heavenly Father better each day after recognizing these things.
     This week has been a great way to end my time in Choctaw though. We got to have another youth missionary fireside last night and these youth are amazing. They took turns coming to the front and we would have them practice invitations, getting to know people, and making people feel comfortable at church. Then we would talk about it. They would always say really funny things though, so it was a good time. We didn't expect everything to be perfectly serious though because we want these youth to have a lot of fun as they're doing missionary work. They are naturals. A little fine tuning on inviting their friends to do things never hurts though. We had some great spiritual moments as well as we watched a couple messages the church has released and pondered about ways each of us can be better missionaries. I'm excited to hear about what they accomplish.
     Life is so good. I truly have loved these people and I am so sad to leave. Thanks for all your support. HFF!


-Elder Hoddy

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lesson From A Member Missionary


This week has been a lot of fun in Choctaw. I am continually learning about our Savior's life and what it means to be His disciple. It is definitely not easy, but each glimpse we get into his life is so fulfilling.
     So I missed Clarissa's wedding, but it was a good opportunity to think and ponder about the things that matter most. She has always been an amazing example to me and I don't think I've appreciated enough everything she's done. I'm proud of my big sister. While she I was in the sealing room I got to ponder and pray and all I felt was joy. What an incredible experience for the family. HFF!
     I had some important lessons given to me this week. The first was the importance of member missionary work. I went on exchanges to Del City this week and got to visit one of the families we had talked to back when I was living there. They had progressed a lot in the gospel as the elders had met with them, and they were happy to learn. They actually taught us some volleyball moves before the lesson, so we're pretty much experts now. We started reading 3 Nephi 11 with them and a lot of questions came up. The lesson took its course and changed to talking about priesthood authority. To the daughter it made complete sense that people need to have God authority to act in his name, but to the mother it was very hard to accept. None of the denominations here talk about any kind of authority (except the Catholics), so it is new and kind of hard for them to think that no one else the authority to baptize. We explained it the best way we could, but she still wasn't satisfied. Finally, we had to go because it was getting late, so we said a prayer and started walking away. The member gave us the keys and kept talking to her. I don't think I'll every forget the picture of him crouching down to be on her level and just talking to her. All he was doing was showing that he cared. He got her number and went over the next day to help her understand things. I was amazed that he was so proactive and caring with someone he had never met. Members have special connections with investigators because inevitably we will leave. They are normal people that add so much security and confidence to the truth of the message.
     A couple nights ago Elder Rodriguez and I were talking about the people we're working with. I really trust him and feel like I can tell him anything. Over the conversation I told him that I have worked so hard with these families, but I could have done more, and maybe if I had done a little more they would be baptized already. Elder Rodriguez lovingly let me know how wrong I was. There was one thing that stuck out to me. We can always do more, but we can never do enough for these people. We have to lead them to the atonement and leave them in the hands of God. We have taught them all they need to know before baptism, we have fasted and prayed many times, now all there is left to do is continue loving them and leave them in the hands of God. It's all going to work out for the best. Elder Rodriguez has been a great example to me these past weeks.
     The last thing I wanted to share was a few verses that stuck out to me this week. Mark 9:22-24. A father goes to Jesus Christ for help because his son had an evil spirit. The father seems to be in desperation and without very much faith to rely on. With his hope that Jesus can help his son the father asks, "if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Christ answers simply and straightforward that all things are possible with belief. Then the father cries out with tears. He says, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief". This is such an amazing example to me of the power of desire and hope. Sometimes we can't solve the problem and all we can do is desire to believe that Christ will help us through it. As our faith grows, so does our trust that God will fulfill every single one of his promises. He will heal us and lift us. I have seen that in my life because sometimes all I have is a desire to see things work out. We are in the hands of God.
I love you all! Have an amazing week!
-Elder Hoddy

Monday, July 7, 2014

Do You Know God?

      This week has been pretty amazing and I learned a lot. I got to go on a couple of exchanges with different elders and while I was on one we met with an interesting guy named Michael. He grew up Catholic, but he is currently Atheist. Most people here are Christians, so the Atheists are usually pretty intelligent as far as religion goes and they have reasons why they're Atheist. Well this guy has read the Bible,  The Book of Mormon, and The Doctrine and Covenants, yet he is still very lost and has no idea if God exists. A lot of interesting things happened during the lesson, but he asked one question that has made me ponder a lot over the past few days. He asked, "Do you know God?" 
     John 17:3 - And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
      That scripture came to mind as he asked that and I don't remember what I said perfectly, but I've had a lot of thoughts over the past few days. 1) I know there is a God. 2) I know that he knows me. 3) I know that I can talk to him. 4) He has answered me back. 5) I know he loves me. 6) I know His children.   
     My conclusion is that I know God better than I did a year ago or a day ago or ten years ago. We had a long period of time before this life to intellectually understand the gospel, but we came here to experience opposition and both the enabling and redeeming power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My experiences on this Earth have brought me to know God, but the future experiences I will have will help me to know Him much more. That question has really driven me to know my Father in Heaven more. Jesus Christ gave us the perfect example of the relationship we should have with our Heavenly Father; therefore we follow Jesus Christ.
      One quick spiritual experience from the week...
      We were in the home of a less active member discussing the gospel. To put it simply, he has gotten the short end of the stick in life. At one point he joined the Church and was a strong member, but life's circumstances have made it hard to believe in God. He felt hopeless of the future. We recognized that his past held him back from grasping the joy of the present and future, so we gave the analogy of him driving in a car with a little rear view mirror to remember the past and large windows to see the present and future. He acknowledged that he did need to let go of some of the things from the past, but his present was still very captive from things of the past. Those words stung and I looked at that man just wishing that somehow through the grace of God he wouldn't have to go through those things or that maybe in some way I could go through them instead. I looked around and could tell that my companion and the member with us were feeling similar feelings. Through the spirit we were given the opportunity to feel a small portion of what our Savior feels. We proceeded to testify of the love of our Savior and he committed to read his patriarchal blessing and to look for hope.
      Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
       Despite life's challenges we are never alone. Each of you have helped me to feel the love of Jesus Christ. Thank you. HFF!
 -Elder Hoddy