Monday, July 27, 2009

Bienvenidos a Argentina

Ok, what has happened in the past few days. It sure seems like a lot has happened. So I got off the plane and Hermana Lindahl, my mission president´s wife, snapped a photo of me and afterwards, President Lindahl came up and gave me a huge hug and a welcome to Argentina. They are both so awesome and I´m excited to have them as mission presidents. We had an amazing dinner with them that night and then I slept, along with the other Elders who came with us, at the Assistant to the President´s house that night. Of course the first night I get to Mendoza it snows for the first time in like...I don´t know...quite a while. I thought it was way funny because everyone was so surprised that it was snowing. "This never happens!" Everyone kept saying that, I thought it was pretty neat. We had a little bit of training that next day and were off to our areas with our companions. The Pention or "Pench" as they like to call them here, that I live in is really nice compared to what most of the people in my area live in. Oh, my area. Ok, I´m in an area called Colonia Bombal and in the Maipu Zone. It´s about a hour outside of Mendoza and it is what they like to call the campo. It is about as farmland and out there in the boonies as you can get. There is a lot of walking because the distances between everything is so great. The people here are so nice and will talk about almost anything for hours. When we go and talk to people, we hardly even know them and they will just talk and talk and talk and talk, which I really need because I can´t understand a whole lot of what anyone is saying. It´s kind of funny when people are talking to me and I just stare back trying to figure out what they just said. I just try to communicate using body language and laugh if they laugh and nod every once in a while and really try to understand what is going on. They´re really friendly and understand that I am trying to learn the language. I´m grateful for their examples of friendliness.It´s kind of cold here, we have two space heaters in our Pench that help us stay warm. Then when we go out in the cold, we just bundle up and it´s alright. We are in the middle of winter right now and it´s not very cold compared to what the middle of the winter might be in Utah. So we´re doing well.It was actually pretty funny. I lost a glove while walking in a place where there was hardly any light, maybe I´´ll find it one day...Anyway, I´m not sure what I expected in the mission field, but it is incredible. We just go out and talk to people and spread the gospel and have a good time doing it. There´s hardships of course! But it´s going well and I´m so excited to be here. A couple of stories from the first few days.We went to teach a family that has almost nothing. The familia Barbera (Varbera en EspaƱol I think) They live in a house the equivelant of a bamboo shack with dirt floors and everything. They´re whole house is smaller than our living room by a long shot. You just walk in the door and they have a fire, a little cooking area, and two beds for the parents and their 4 little kids. We taught them about the restoration of the gospel and I was able to bear my testimony in Spanish at the end and say that even though I don´t know much Spanish, I do know that the church is true and that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I do know that and I know that the Church and the Spirit is the exact same in Spanish as it is in English. While we were teaching the feelings of the Spirit came into that house and while it may have been a little cold outside, it was so warm in that house and the feelings of love and peace that the Spirit brings were so strong. I love that the language of the Spirit is the same in all cultures and languages and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that we have a living prophet on the earth today in President Monson.At this lesson my trainer also mentioned that we had a pretty long walk back to our Pench because we did not have a lot of bus fare money left and the mother of those children pulled out 3 pesos and insisted that we take them. I honestly didn´t know what think, they have absolutely nothing and they wanted to help us out and give us whatever they had. I have been humbled this week to realize that all these people, even though they have almost nothing would give anything to help us out. They would take the shirt off their back and give it to you if you said they needed it. I have learned to be more grateful for everything that I have, never take anything for granted, and give whenever I can, and in the case of these people, even give when they can´t give. Wow.I´m learning a lot. I´m adjusting to Argentine culture still and just trying to do my best. Please pray for those families here that are just waiting and wanting to hear the gospel. Pray for these people that are having so many challenges and just need some help.I should probably go now, but I just want to say that I love you all and that Argentina is awesome.
Take care,Elder Benjamin Hoglund

Ok Family, I think that about does it. Everything here has been a pretty humbling experience, I don´t know a lot and I rely on my good companion Elder Dustin Boudrero from Logan Utah for a lot. He´s a great companion, really patient with me and helping me out a lot in everything I don´t understand. We were talking the other day about what I would like to learn from him, and I said, "how to survive in Argentina." Without him I would be so lost. He´s an awesome companion. Anyway, I´ll write next week. I love you all and I hope to hear from you all soon.
Bye.Love,Elder Hoglund

Friday, July 24, 2009

Elder Hoglund Arrives Safely

President and Sister Lindahl had a special welcome dinner for all the new missionaries at their home. These are pictures of Elder Hoglund with President and Sister Lindahl. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

After getting up at 3:30 A.M. and traveling two days, Elder Hoglund is in Argentina!

Tuesday July 21, 2009 3:37 P.M. (Argentina Time)
This is Elder Hoglund when he arrived at the airport in Mendoza!
He looks a little tired! I got to talk to him when he was at the airport in Los Angeles. He is SO EXCITED to be moving on. His group went on a short tour of the downtown, took care of some paperwork at the mission office, then was transported to President and Sister Lindahl's home at 6:30 for a welcome dinner and pictures with the president. Then to bed for (hopefully) a nice LONG sleep.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Well, I think it's coming down to the final days of the MTC experience. They say that we're ready to go soon, so I'll keep on preparing as best as I can and hopefully be ready to go to Argentina on Monday. This week my companion and I had a fantastic experience. My companion's knee is still not doing very well (which I really hope gets better soon, we're going to get an MRI on his knee tomorrow and we'll know better after that, so please pray for him) so we went to a Sports Injury place to get it checked out. While we were there we had so many missionary opportunites... I guess it helps out a little bit when you are a set-apart full-time missionary, but they were incredible. When we first went in, we sat down with a mother and some young kids. They were all members of the church but we were still able to sit down with them and talk about how they are children of God. We told them that there are people in this world who don't know that they are children of God and that God loves them. I asked the little girl how that made her feel, and she said, "bad". I love it, children answer so simply and so profoundly at the same time. I told her that was right and at the end my companion and I challenged the little girl and the two little boys that next time they saw someone who looked like they were having a bad day or were sad to go up to them and tell them that they are a child of God and that God loves them (I hope we included that last part, I can't quite remember for sure...oops). It was a fantastic little teaching experience and I hope they remember that.We also had the chance to give someone a blessing there. There was this girl at BYU soccer camp named Sidney and she had just hurt her ankle pretty badly. She had the faith after she saw the missionaries (my companion and I) to ask for a blessing. It was an incredible example of faith and I know that she will be healed rapidly.I've been learning a lot this week about the importance of diligence and how we just need to keep pressing on and relying on the Savior during the hard times and during the good times. Diligence is a key attribute in the lifelong process of developing the attributes of Christ. The MTC life is coming along well. I enjoy what's happening every day and am excited to try all this out in Argentina. I love you all! I'll probably write next week from Argentina assuming that I do not have a Visa delay. Take care!

Ok, we checked with the Travel Office just barley and learned that I am NOT delayed, however my companion as well as three other Elders in my district are. Please pray for them, it can be hard. Thanks for all your love and support one more time. I'd better go and have some dinner and get ready for the devotional tonight. I'm pretty excited to find out who it is and learn some more. I love my mission and I'm so excited to get into the field.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 7th 2009 What A Week

Well, it's good to have some time to write and say hi and tell you what's been going on the last little while at the MTC. First off, thank you to everyone who's sent me letters. I love getting those letters and hearing what's going on back at home. Also Mom and Dad and all others, thanks for the Spiritual thoughts. I really love them and it helps keep me focused on the work.

Anyway, here are sone happenings from the week.
I had such a fantastic experience teaching Lesson 1 about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My companion and I were teaching another companionship in our district in Spanish. Let me preface this a little bit, each companionship was given a little slip of paper with a specific problem on it that we were supposed to find out as a companionship and adapt the lesson to meet that problem. We had no idea what the problems were, and didn't find out what their problems were until after the lesson. So, we're practicing adapting our lesson to the needs of the investigators and I was very prayerful because I wanted to find out what this problem was and help them out. I was about to go to Romans 8:16 at the start of our lesson. It's a scripture we like to use to start out that lesson at times. I guess not every time though, because as I went to go turn to that scripture and ask them to read it, I felt such a strong prompting not to read with them that scripture. I felt it kind of odd, but I felt prompted not to do it. So I said something like "I don't want to share this scripture with you right now. I don't know why, but I don't want to." So, under the guidance of the Spirit, I proceeded to ask a few more questions about their belief in the Savior and what that belief prompts them to do. As we got talking I felt prompted to turn to another scripture in 3 Nephi that talks about baptism. I read that scripture, we talked about it, and went on with the lesson. All the while, I have no idea why I did that, but I know that I had to do that.We talked about it after the lesson and it turned out that the scripture I shared in 3 Nephi was the exact scripture that talked about their problem. Their problem was that they didn't see why they had to join a church. They thought they could just believe in Jesus Christ and they would be saved. The scripture I shared talks specifically about how baptism in the gate and how we must enter that gate in order to come into the presence of the Father; baptism is essential in order to enter the Kingdom of God.I had absolutely no idea that this was their problem at first, all I know is that I followed the promptings of the Spirit, and that the Spirit guided that lesson. It was not my knowledge, my wisdom, my understanding AT ALL! I had no idea what was going on. I just followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost and it all worked out somehow.I know that the Spirit is real and knows all things. I know that if I follow those promptings that everything will work out how it is supposed to. I know that even though this was a practice experience, the Spirit told me those things I needed to do to help them solve their problem. I know that the gift of the Holy Ghost is a real gift and power and that if we follow those promptings, we will be lead to do and say those exact things that we need to do and say. I know this without a doubt and testify of the truthfulness of the restored gospel.That was a fantastic experience this week.
Love,Elder Benjamin Hoglund