Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 8, 2010

Hola mi Familia!
¿Como están todos? It`s good to have another chance to write everyone and say hi. This week has been pretty awesome. We`ve been going out to a place about 30 minutes away to work called Real del Padre. It`s a really tranquilo place as they call it. It is so beautiful out there and the people are way receptive. This Sunday, one of our investigators came to church from out there with a large portion of his family. They are from Bolivia and moved to Real del Padre not too long ago. All of his family was baptized except for him and we (or he for that matter) doesn`t really know why. He loves the lessons, he loved church yesterday and it really is only a matter of time before he and his wife are baptized. They have a little newborn about 20 days old now in the hospital, she`s getting better and he has a lot of faith that she will get better. He`s such a great humble guy.

This is a generalized statement, but it`s true a lot of the time, the Bolivians are so receptive to the gospel. They just accept what we teach up front and are really genuine people. They love listening. I`ve had the thought while teaching them at times that these people really are the direct descendants of the Lamanites. By teaching them as missionaries, we are being the instruments of God and fulfilling prophecy that the fullness of the gospel would go to the descendants of the Lamanites, that they would not be forgotten in the last day. It`s a humbling thought to be a part of fulfilling that Book of Mormon prophecy.

We also had another investigator come to church yesterday with his family. It was incredible. Antonio is his name. We found him doing street contacting. When we first started to talk to him, he really put on a hard face and told us that he did not believe in God. I asked him why and he, my companion and I started to talk. It turns out that he really does believe a lot in God, but is just frustrated because there are so many people saying they have the truth and he really just wanted to know what is the truth. We started going by his house and making friends with him, chatting about whatever with him. He really likes science and has a really sharp mind. He has a very strong character and when he gives his word to something, he does it. His wife and two of his kids came to church with him. The wife is a relative of the wife of the first counselor in our ward and it was pretty awesome. Antonio and his family came right in the middle of the sacrament and instead of treating them like complete strangers that disrupted the meeting, Marisol Montoya`s (the relative of the wife of Antonio) daughter went and greeted them and brought them to sit with her mom.

This helped me realize the importance of greeting everyone in church with love. I realized that no one is going to like church if they go and don`t feel loved. Let`s compare going to church like going to a party. If you go to the best party in the whole world, there`s everything there you could ever hope for. Chips, cheese the whole deal…EVERYTHING is there, but you go alone, no one greets you, a few people say hi, but no one wants to hang out with you. You are probably going to leave this party pretty soon. It`s the exact same with the church. It is the best church, it`s the true church, there is nothing else better on this earth, but if we go and no one says hi to us, no one wants to be around us, and we are treated as strangers, we will not want to go at all. So a little challenge to everyone back at home, wherever you are; school, work, the park, church, home, help people feel welcome and loved. This is really what matters.

Ok, this was such an awesome story. The Bishop yesterday in church, at the beginning of sacrament meeting stood up and help up 35 centavos (less than 10 cents) and said that a little kid came up to him before sacrament started, gave him the 35 centavos, and told him, “Here`s my tithing bishop.” That was definitely an example to me of exact obedience and of how Christlike children are.

Also during church yesterday the power went out. We were right in the middle of fast and testimony meeting and the lights went out, and we continued the meeting in darkness. Not to mention it was pretty hard to hear the people bearing their testimonies with hail and tree branches beating against the windows. Yet the meeting went on. I had the thought that hard as Satan may try to stop the church from going on, it will go on all the same. Also I had the thought that the church is a place of refuge from storms. Hail storms and spiritual storms. We are safe inside the church from the attacks of the world and also from the attack of giant-sized hail.

The hail actually did a lot of damage. The size of the hail was pretty large. Elder Ramirez and I were walking in Centro that night after the storm and there were tree branches all over the road and huge puddles and the police and emergency crews were out cleaning up the mess. The hail here can be pretty dangerous, not to mention that the hail kills the harvest. That`s how a lot of people make their living here. We`ll see what happens.
We have transfers this week, I think I am staying but I don`t know for sure yet. We find out about transfers in a few hours. I`ll let you know next week what happens, but I am pretty sure I am staying here. I`m excited to stay here and put this ward plan into action. We presented the plan in ward council yesterday and they loved it and are all on board to carry it out. I`ll send some photos next week of the posters we made, but for now, attached to this e-mail is a copy of the plan for the ward. This plan is inspired of God, and I am so excited to see it in action.
I forgot to write about the New Year! Happy 2010 everyone! For New Years we were in the house of a less-active member. There were about 30 members of their family there, it was quite the party. It also sounded like World War 2 when midnight hit…it might have been just as dangerous as well. Firework safety doesn’t really exist here. I`ll send some pictures, no worries . Anyway, I love you all!! Have such an awesome day bye!

Con Muchisimo Amor,
Elder Hoglund