Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 15, 2010 Hail Storms and Baptisms

Hola Mi Familia y Amigos!

I don`t even know where to start with this week. It has been a week of miracles and possibly the busiest week of the whole mission. It has been absolutely crazy and I love it!

So we have been working with the Pichel Family to get them baptized right? So we finally got dates finalized for Nora, the mother, Pablo, who is 10 years old, and Melanie who is 8 years old. The three of them got baptized on Saturday night. It was absolutely incredible! Nora has such a strong testimony of the restored gospel and even got the chance to share it in sacrament meeting the next day after her confirmation. She got her answer in the form of a dream. She told us that she had been praying to know of she should get baptized and she had such a peaceful and Spiritual dream of her dressed in white and feeling so clean. It really was a huge confirmation to her from the Spirit that the gospel is true. We had a ward talent show Friday night and we had to leave because Argentines really love the night life here and don`t start ward activities until way late (we talked to the members the next day and they told us that they left the chapel at 1 or 2 in the morning). Anyway, so we heard from the members that Nora made an acto, or better said, she made a play about her conversion story. First, the Hermana Missionaries got to her house and she really didn`t like them and kept trying to avoid them when they came by and was pretty rude to them. They also acted out how Antonio, her husband, was really rude to them as well. Anyway, I guess it was pretty funny and all the ward members loved it.

The baptism was awesome. Would you believe that there were so many people there that they went through 9 liters of ice cream? It was so incredibly successful! There were tons of members there, tons of investigators there to watch the baptism and the Spirit was so strong. I even got the chance to sing “El Cristo es” in Spanish of course. Now this coming Saturday, Evelyn (13) and Matias (15), two of the older kids want to get baptized. Please pray that Antonio, the father, will want to get baptized with those two this Saturday as well. We will work hard to prepare them for this Saturday. Their older daughter who is 20 years old also wants to get baptized. This family has been a miracle in action! I sure love them!

Well, transfers came and went this week and me and Elder Ramirez are still together. His mom has a baptismal date for the 20th of February, so please pray for her has well. This next transfer is going to be so much fun!

We`ve got a new ward project in action called One on One. The idea is that each organization in the ward focuses on two or three people that are semi-inactive or inactive and helps them get to church. The idea is to help people feel welcome within their quorums in the church. So often people judge others for why they aren`t coming to church and stuff when really we just need to love. Really who are we to judge? We need to love.

This week, THE CRAZIEST hail storm I have ever seen in my life happened! Imagine hail the size of golf-balls and you`ve about got what we had here. It was crazy, there were windows broken, trees shredded, and crops destroyed. I don`t know what the people here in Alvear are going to do for work now. A lot of the work is harvest-based, and now that the harvest is destroyed, I don`t know what they`ll do. Work is already scarce as it is. I`ll send some pictures. Don`t worry, we`re all safe. We hid out in the chapel.

Also, have you ever ridden on a old pink bike, in shirt and tie, with a cowboy hat, in front of a supermarket in Argentina? Well I have. The other Elders in our pench were in a tight spot and needed us to take their bikes, cowboy hats, and scriptures back to the pench. So we did and before we took off, one of the Hermana`s in our district snapped a photo of it. I`ll have to get it and send it on home.

Yesterday, the Zone Leaders decided to have a Zone P-day in our area. So, we slept 10 Elders in the pench again. Quite the experience. Also, this morning at about 3:45, we went to the bus station to send off Hermana Amy White who is headed home. It felt a little different walking in the streets of Argentina at 4 in the morning. There was still a club open at that hour, we heard the music going at about 4 in the morning when we were walking through the plaza on the way back from sending off Hermana White.

I really want to write home about something that Elder Blackham taught me in one of his letters about humility that has really helped me a lot. The basic thought is. “I`m just as good as the next, but not better, and God is always above me.” Humility is not beating down on yourself down into a pulp, it is recognizing that others`feelings and needs are just as valid and important as our own. It is also recognizing that God is in control and without His help and devine guidance we are nothing.

I have grown much Spiritually this week and am excited to continue learning. The Lord really is preparing me and molding me and I am loving it! I love this gospel and I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and He changes lives when we come to Him. I love you all! Bye!

Elder Hoglund

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cowboy hats and missionaries. February 8, 2010

¡Hola mi familia!

Como Andan todos? How is everyone doing? This week has been pretty incredible! We saw tons of miracles this week. On Tuesday, we had lunch with the Bishop and afterwards had an incredible conversation. I felt prompted to ask a question that I thought was a little weird but it ended up turning into an incredible topic of conversation that really hit home. I learned the importance of asking people the right questions at the right time because they can turn into huge teaching experiences. IT was fun to see how it all developed. I started talking with my companion about it afterwards, and it was fun to see what we learned. Elder Ramirez and have such good conversations while we are walking around. It`s fun.

SO way good news! The Hermanas had a baptism this Saturday and Nora and Pablo (her 10year-old son) came to the baptism. They felt incredible and both are going to get baptized this coming Saturday. We think that other members of their family are going to join them, but those two are for sure. They are incredible. Nora is reading the Book of Mormon a ton!

This leads me to my spiritual thought for the week. The talk Jeffry R. Holland gave in this past conference about the Book of Mormon is incredible. I was talking with Hermana White, who goes home next Monday, today during P-Day about the Book of Mormon. If we are sincerely reading and studying the Book of Mormon, there is no way that we can leave this church. There is no way to legitimately prove that it isn`t what it is. We cannot leave the church if we are reading the Book of Mormon. So I challenge all my friends and family back at home to read it and get to know what it is. The Book changes lives.

Ok, anyway, you know how usually when people come to church for the first time there needs to be someone with them to fellowship them and help them feel welcome? Well to illustrate how incredible of a kid Pablo is, we walked past the room where his class was being held and he was busy getting to know the kid next to him. It seems like he`s pretty comfortable. At the baptism on Saturday we were asking him if he wanted ice cream at his baptism, and he said that he just wanted a baptism. He`s so great! We`ll get ice cream anyway.

Antonio, her husband is coming along. He`s a little bit more duro (hard or tough) but I pray that he`ll come around. He prays it`s just a little bit more tough for him. He`s come such a long way and improved so much! He really has experienced a huge change in his life and I pray he keeps on going and gets baptized along with the rest of his family.

Fabian and Noelia are coming along. They really want to change their lives. We had lunch with them Sunday afternoon just before church. It was a big sacrifice for them. They are coming along. We`re really good friends with them and they have a lot of member support.

We had a few surprise assistances this week in church. Some people came that we weren`t expecting, but are incredible and ready to listen. We`ll experiment to see where it goes this week.

We also had a 14 year old kid in church this week named Jorge. He`s a great kid, it`s just a little uncomfortable for him to be talking to the missionaries. He`s a relative of this same family that is helping us out with Fabian and Noelia. The extended relatives in this family are really beginning to know the missionaries. It`s funny. One person says that a relative is listening to the missionaries, then the other relatives start listening, then the other relatives start listening and the work keeps rolling on. It`s pretty awesome. Anyway, Jorge is a good kid and is coming along. He has a lot of friend support from the church. Also the kid that got baptized on Saturday (Nicolas…Sisters, think of the Care Bears) is 15 years old, so I think they should be friends.

Anyway, we`ll see where this all goes. The Lord is blessing us tons and we`re having tons of good experiences.

Here are some funny missionary quotes for the week.
“Podemos vivir con su familia para siempre” –Hermana Whitmore- (Directly translated, that means, “We can live with your family forever!” She`s learning Spanish. I love remembering my Spanish errors when I was first starting.

“We walked to the end of the world today in our cowboy hats.” –Elder Campbell- They bought cowboy hats to wear during proselyting (don`t worry, they`re allowed) and they had walked really far that day…hence the walking to the end of the world in the cowboy hats.

Until next week.
Elder Hoglund

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Training for life. February 1, 2010

Hola Mi Familia!

This week has been absolutely incredible! I loved this week! It was a little on the short side because of the Zone Conference last week but it was still awesome! Let`s start out by saying that the district got a little bit mixed up this week. Elder Mendoza who was our district leader received a mid- transfer transfer. He`s going to the offices to be a traveling assistant and train other district leaders. That means that Elder Ramirez is the new district leader here and we got another Elder to come live with us. His name is Elder Williams and he is in his first transfer here in Argentina. So we`re all pretty young in the pench. Elder Williams who has about 4 months in the mission (He served in Chicago for a while while he was waiting for his VISA), Elder Campell who has about 7 months in the mission, me who has 8 months in the mission, and Elder Ramirez who has 8 months and a little bit in the mission. We`re having a great time!

This week in church we had two surprises arrive. Two investigators that we had been teaching off and on for a while decided they wanted to come to church. I was so happy to see how happy they were. They are living together, have had a pretty rough life, and want to start a new life. We went to visit them later last night and I love to see how they are so happy. I know the gospel changes lives.

Lately I have been writing in my journal every night and have been writing down one spiritual experience or prompting I had that day. It`s been way fun to look back and see what the Spirit has told me to do. It has helped me to recognize spiritual promptings more. I have also lately been practicing a new teaching technique called Open the Mind. It involves letting the investigators teach themselves by asking the right questions and letting the Spirit guide the couse of the conversation. President Lindahl said that Elder Bednar spent four days teaching this to the mission Presidents, so it`s kind of trial and error, but I like it. I think this teaching method, has a lot to do with having an open mind. A lot of times when we are teaching we get so closed off as to the direction we want to take the lesson that we shut off the guidance we get from the Spirit. However, if when we teach we have an Open Mind and let the spirit take us where the spirit wants to take us, the conversation will be guided exactly to the needs of the investigator and will be so enlightening. I`m really excited and am going to try in all aspects to have a more open mind.

Oh yeah, I just got through reading mom`s e-mail and she asked about Maria and Sebastian. A little sad story there, they moved away for a week or two right? We tried to visit them Sunday morning and Maria ran away from us. We clapped at the door and her husband came out and told us that her friend has invited her to an Evangelist church that day and was not probably not going to come. She has read the Book of Mormon, she`s prayed, she knows! I hope she comes around.

This week we`ve had some appointments fall through, some pretty incredible storms, and some random stories. Story number one. We were walking around in the Finkas one day ( I love how directly translated that means we were walking around in the farms one day) and a huge storm decided to show up. Gigantic gusts of wind, a little bit of rain, it was pretty fun. I saw during the storm a HUGE bolt of lighting that was like a Spider-Web in the sky. My jaw fell to the ground when I saw it, it really blew my mind!

Story number two. There is a cat with one eye that we`re seen a few times just outside our pench door. I don`t know where it`s from, it must belong to someone here, but I feel pretty sad for it.

A pretty cool thought I have been having a lot that I want to share. The mission is the best preparation for life. There are so many things I experience here, so many things I see that I can apply to my real life that I could never place a value on this. I see a lot of things. I see the lives of so many people with so many different styles of living and being. It helps me know how to interact with people, face the problems of life, and most importantly, know how to live happily. It makes me so happy that I am here and every day I need to thank the Lord to the chance I have to be missionary!!

Ok, I love you all! Bye!

Elder Hoglund

Building Cement Houses. January 26, 2010

Valle Grande
Beautiful destination for Preperation Day!

Ben with a borrowed bike that he used to get out to Antiono's house.
Ben says: "I really thought it was going to break. I think I am a bit too heavy for it. The baby seat in the back is a really good addition. PERFECT for my scriptures! :)

Ben with Elder Ramirez. They are in front of their "Spritual Revolution Poster". The Spiritual Revolution is to help the members set some goals to help them increase their spirituality.

Hi Family!

Sorry I didn`t e-mail everyone until today. We had Zone Conference yesterday, so we have today as our Preparation Day. To answer Dad`s questions. We use empanada shells, you could call them for taco shells. Their soft and small, but it`s what we have here. They are pretty good! The crackers were still good, I think I would have eaten them even if they were a couple months older than they already were. Don`t worry, I still have some...but only some... Anyway, with the tacos we don`t use any goat meat, just regular ground beef. Goat meat sadly is only for special occasions like Christmas or New kind of takes the same place as duck at Christmas time.

Speaking of irregular you all want to know what I ate this week? It is kind of sick, but I had to do it just to say I did it. You ready? I ate the following parts of a cow for lunch on Saturday afternoon; kidney, small intestine, and large intestine. I hope NOT to eat any of them again. :)

As for the families this week:
Maria and Sebastian moved to her grandma`s house while their house here in Pacifico is getting completed. We haven`t seen them this week, but we hope to see them soon. Reuben we hear is still at the house, but is working a ton so it will be difficult to find him.

I am realizing here even more the value of education in our lives. When we have more education, we have more opportunties for progression in our lives. There are people here who work all day but are still poor. Work can only get us so far, it`s education that really gives us an upper edge. It makes me realize how much I really want to take advantage of every opportunity I can to learn something.

Speaking of learning something...does anyone want to know how to build part of a house in Argentina? On Saturday we helped a man who was hit pretty hard by all the storms we`ve been having here. We went to his big farm and cemented the walls. It was pretty fun. The members of the church that were they helping threw the cement on the walls and one of the things I was doing was helping spread it out and make it look smoothe. They generally build houses out of Cement here. Wood houses are almost unheard of.

Ok, wow, disorganized thoughts, coming back to the families this week. We had some incredible lessons with Antonio and his family this week. Thank you so much for all your prayers. He is still iffy on his baptism, but his wife and two of his kids are gung-ho for it! They will get baptized soon. They would have had a date for the 30th of January, but they didn`t come to church this week because they had visitors staying at their house over the weekend. They will come this week!

Zone Conference was absolutley incredible! I love how President Lindahl teaches us. It`s so interactive and the Spirit does the teaching. I was to apply how he teaches into how we teach people. Let them teach the lesson. Help them to want to know and ask questions. If they don`t want to learn and know, it doesn`t do any good to force feed them information. They have to WANT to learn and it`s our role as teachers of the gospel to help them realize they want it. The Spirit does the conversion.
This week for Preparation Day we went to this beautiful place called Valle Grande. I`ll send some pictures next week.

I love you all and hope you are all doing well! Argentina is so beatiful right now. Right out in front of our pench grapes are growing. We can go out whenever we want and pick fresh grapes right off the vine. The landscape is beautiful here, the weather is wonderful, the people are awesome and I am having so much fun! Don`t worry, I do miss every single one of you. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. Keep them coming! :)

Elder Hoglund

Performing in Plays and Taco Making lessons! January 18, 2010

Hola mi Familia!
¿Como anda todos? How is everyone doing?
Dad, it ends up that Antonio or Tito didn`t come to church this week. But Antonio did come to a ward mission activity. They`re coming along, we`ll work with them this week to see what`s up. They`re such good people and I pray that they will come next week!

Just a few days ago I got the Ensign, the pictures and the Spicey crackers…YES!! Thank you Family! It made me pretty happy to see all that stuff! Zone Conference is this week. You are right father, seeing the new missionaries helps me to realize how much the Lord helps us in such a short time. I look back 8 months and I have grown more than I ever could have imagined. It is such a huge blessing! About the high winds in Buenos Aires..I don’t think we got much of anything, but that`s interesting. How high were they?

I think I was having a heart attack reading the details dad wrote me about the two games this week…Literally. Anyway, I am still living but BRADY YOU STUD! Sweet! I love hearing about your success! Keep it up bud! I would say more, but I don`t know what to say…I`m speechless!

Well, let`s see. This week was pretty interesting. We had a way awesome ward mission activity this weekend. Elder Ramirez and I and the other 3 Hermanas in our area organized a little play that we put on the for the members. It was pretty funny and I was laughing pretty much the whole night. We even had costume changes and everything. It was a play about how Elder Ramirez and I were friends in the pre-earth life. When we received our “callings” to go to earth, we found out that I would be born into a family with the gospel and he would not. I made a promise to find him on the earth. Long story short, I find him on the earth with the help of a member. It was a good plug for member missionary work and the ward members loved it! We even had two investigators (a father and son) come to the activity; that was a surprise! I hope he loved it!

Random story for the week: People here don`t know what tacos are, so we had a family night with the Bishop and his family and taught them how to make tacos. It was pretty fun and pretty messy.

Here is a miracle that happened during the week: Elder Ramirez and I were trying to find a reference and clapped a door next to where the reference should have been to see if anyone close knew where this person lived. The lady who lived at that house we clapped let us in and we started to teach. It ends up that the missionaries visited her a while back and then for some reason they couldn`t continue teaching her. She is incredible. When we talked to her she had read the Book of Mormon up until 3 Nephi 10… ( I know, right before 3 Nephi 11…how about that huh?) She thinks that Joseph Smith was a prophet, believes the Book of Mormon is true, and thinks that this is the true church… Incredible! The Lord is in this work! We are working with her, her 13 year old kid Sebastian, and her husband Reuben. They`re just about there, pray for them please.

I know Heavenly Father answers prayers, we were praying to find 3 people who are ready for Baptism and this family shows up. I know that Heavenly Father will answer our prayers when we pray with faith and really believe that He can answer us.

This week was way good and we`re excited for this next week. I love you all and thank you so much for everything!

Elder Hoglund

Crowded Pench for Zone Meeting! January 11, 2010

Hi Family!!!

How is everyone doing? I love reading everything that`s going on back in Utah and I m sure you all love reading about Argentina, so that being the case….here it is!

Argentina this week was full of experiences. To start things off, Dad guessed it right, I am staying in my area at least for another 6 weeks with my companion Elder Ramirez. I feel so blessed because we now have an opportunity to put this ward plan in action, go and work to find some people in the finkas (outskirts of town) as well as work in Real del Padre.

This Sunday Antonio and Nora came and had a good talk with the Bishop and Elder Ramierz after church. They were talking about how the only way we can know if the church is true is through the feelings of the Spirit. No one is going to convince anyone of anything. We have to feel the Spirit in order to be converted and feel the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also felt so blessed during church. We were thinking about how to best present this Revolucion Espiritual in church and I asked the Bishop if he could talk to the ward about it over the pulpit before the meeting started. He, in place of that, gave me the first time to talk in the meeting.. Beinvenido impromptu talk in church!! It was actually way fun. The Spirit recalled to my mind the scriptures that we had studied about the Spiritual Revolution and it was very powerful. It really wasn`t me speaking, the Spirit was directing me. It was incredible; the ward now knows very clearly what the Spiritual Revolution is. They all have their progress cards and we`ll be passing by their houses every now and again to see how their doing. This project makes me so happy!

Tito didn`t come to church this week. I am a little worried about how he`s doing. He said he would come if his kid was feeling better. It makes me think something`s not quite right. He really needs to come! We`ll see this week. He`s reading, but still he needs to pray to find and answer. Sincere prayer really is how we get answers, I am learning more about that every day.

Something interesting, there were 8 Elders sleeping in our Pench last night! Oh my! We had a Zone Meeting in our chapel after church got out and the majority of the Elders stayed here to have Preparation Day here. It`s quite the experience I`ll tell you! I love it! I`ll take some pictures of the pench with all of us in there. It`s way fun!

With the new Hermana that just came from the MTC, we are now using the language study time during the siesta to study Spanish and English. The Latins are really progressing and learning a lot of English. It also really helps me to review and learn the Spanish rules again. It helps me realize what I am saying and why I say what I say.

I am going to start writing more funny experiences in my journal at night. There are little random things that happen every day that help me laugh! I love the mission.

Anyway, it sounds like things are going well at home. I hope Brady and Britt get feeling better! I love you!

Elder Benjamín Hoglund