Friday, December 27, 2013

Elder Bednar Visits

Oi, Happy New Year!!! How is everyone doing? I'd like to know a little more about anything new going on. That's awesome that you found the adapter, I haven't bought one yet, but it will save me $30 so thank you!!!! I wear a size 32/33ish waist and a 34 length normally. Everyone in our district is doing well, except last week Elder Hodges sprained his ankle playing basketball. He seems to be doing fine, and he will be fully recovered by the time we are done at the MTC. This week has been pretty good. On Christmas we had Elder Bednar come and teach us. He is really good at explaining complex things and answering questions. He handed out about 200 cellphones to everyone in the auditorium and then had us text questions to his ipad, and he would answer them at the podium. I wrote down what I thought were the best ones.

One of Elder Bednar's favorite scriptures: 3rd Nephi 11: 15. In this scripture, Christ invites a multitude of people ( about 2500 people) to come and feel the nail prints from his suffering on the cross. The key words in this scripture were "one by one". Christ didn't just have a few obtain a witness and then tell the others. Everyone was invited to see and feel his wounds and gain a testimony one by one. Elder Bednar taught that this phrase "one by one" appeared 5 other times in the Book Of Mormon and encouraged us to find them for ourselves. He also explained that everything Christ did was one by one. It is likely that when Christ suffered in the garden, he suffered for everyone's sins, each individual person One By One. Bednar also talked of how Nephi was one of his favorite prophets in the scriptures because of the basic principles we can learn from his experiences. For example, when he was commanded to return to Jerusalem to obtain the scriptures he says "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." This is the principle through which all personal revelation comes. We must act first in faith, believing we will receive, and then the Lord will bless us with understanding, or whatever our needs may be.

The Atonement has two purposes: A cleansing power to forgive sin and erase it so that God remembers it no more, and a Strengthening power for those who are righteous and wish to call upon God to help them become better servants. Remember Ammon boasting not in himself, but in his God because through his God he could do all things pertaining to God's will. He converted thousands of Lamanites to the Gospel when most thought they could never be taught the Gospel, or come unto Christ.

Why do we still feel shame for sins after we have repented and forgiven if God remembers them no longer?:
Because even though the initial sin has been forgiven, consequences remain. They may remain to serve as reminders to never commit the sin again or for many other purposes. Elder Bednar taught that this shame can be forgotten over time as we change who we are through small acts everyday (sincere prayer, small acts of service, scripture study, etc.) He compared it to a jar full of dirty sand, with a hole just big enough for 1 grain to move through at a time. The jar represents our mind, and each small act to better ourselves is symbolic of putting a grain of pure white sand in, until over time the white sand has replaced the dark, murky sand.

Elder Bednar explained that the best missionaries in the world are selfless in their work. They forget about their own problems and turn outward at all times to help the needs of others. They are more concerned about the welfare of others than their own wants. This is the character of Christ. Christ taught that 'he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.' (Matthew 10:39) Those who lose themselves in serving Christ at all times, striving to live as he did for his sake, will find Eternal life after death.

I wish that Elder Bednar could have stayed the whole day and taught us because he always does an amazing job of helping me to understand specific topics. All the Elders in the Older district will be leaving this upcoming week to enter the field. Since most of them haven't received their visas yet, they were reassigned to new missions until their visas come in. About 3 or 4 of them were called to the Raleigh NC mission. I thought that was really interesting and kind of hope they will come across someone that I know.

Anyways, keep me posted about what going on. I love you all, and thank you for the support and help.

Eu amo Voces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Hodgson

Elder Hargrove posing. I dont know why we did this..... I don't know why we do a lot of crazy things we do hahaha

Our district on P-day: Back Row: Elder Hodges, Elder Hargrove, Sister Maughan, Sister Bosworth-Arzani, and me. Middle: Elder Moss, Sister Thacker, Elder Pennington. Front: Elder Ballard
Me and Elder Hargrove Excited about P-day!!!! ( like that one Gieco Commercial with the Camel) Hey everyone guess what day it is? Friday. OH come on you know what day I mean, what day is it? P DAYYYYYYY!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Hey Grant!! Merry Christmas! We are allowed to email a little today, and I should be able to call everyone in the airport right before I enter the mission field as well. I just wanted to say I love you all and I hope everything is going well. This past week I was called as district leader, and I'll have that calling until we leave the MTC. I also gave one of the sisters in our district a blessing because she was feeling sick. It was really spiritual for me, she said she felt like she had the flu coming on, and now she's feels better except for a little upset stomach after just two days. The language is coming fast, and everyday seems to fly by.
I'm learning a lot of conjugation so I sound less like a caveman, for example I used to say thing like, "Nos Orar agora?" which would be like saying " We to pray now?" But now I know to say "Nos Podemos orar agora?" which is more like "can we pray now?". It's also much easier to ask our investigators to make commitments when we don't speak like cavemen. Teaching is becoming easier and easier as I become more familiar with the basics of the Gospel, and the language. I can ask more meaningful questions and answer questions more fully. One of our teachers is spending this week in Florida, so until he comes back we are being taught by brothers, both are return missionaries who are originally from Brazil with the last name Pinho. Me and Elder Hodges like to pull a little prank on them where we switch our nametags hahaha. They struggle with American names ( just like I will probably struggle with Brazilian names), and so it's an easy harmless prank to pull on them. They are starting to catch on though....

Yesterday we had a great devotional from David Evans, he's a part of the council in charge of running the missionary program. He shared a lot of experiences from his mission in Japan. He served during the 70's when japan was only 4 or so missions. I was glad he came and taught us. Tonight I think we are going to hear from Elder Bednar, which is really exciting because he is an amazing teacher and always gets me to think about topics in new ways.

In the spirit of Christmas, our Teacher, Irmao Pinho, asked us to individually write down everything God has ever blessed us with, from the time of Adam and Eve (or even before then) to now. He gave us 15 minutes to make a list. For most of us, that wasn't enough time to include everything on the list because god has blessed everyone with so many things. And of course, there was always something we forgot to include. Afterward, we spent 5 minutes really thinking about and visualizing everything on our list. Then we individually prayed for and simply thanked God for everything he had given us. It was a really great experience for me.

Well I have to go. I love you all, and don't forget to send me Jackie's email Address. I got her package yesterday. Thank you for an awesome Christmas Present!! I love the music and the candy!! thank you so much!!!!!

Eu amo voces!!!!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

MTC Week 2

Oi!! how is everyone doing? Thank you for all the emails.Thats good that you've been looking for a piano. When we do this language program study on the computer we are allowed to listen to some good music. Recently I've been listening to this group called The Piano Guys. They're amazing and maybe Grant could learn some of their songs. I hope Dad is okay, I'll keep him in my prayers! This week seems to have flown by. We have a really productive schedule made up of  personal studying, language studying, and classroom instruction. I've been working on memorizing more verbs, and trying to remember how to conjugate all the irregular verbs ( like ser, estar, and ir). Both my teachers are returned missionaries that are fluent in Portuguese. One of them is from Brasilia and served a spanish speaking mission in Oregon. They act as pesquisadors (investigators), and we are only allowed to teach in Portuguese. If we pronounce things wrong, or throw in any English words they don't understand our lesson. It is REALLY helpful training. My companion, Elder Moss, is really smart concerning the Gospel, he knows the best way to teach someone and how to explain it best for their needs, but he struggles a little with the language. We get along great and I'm so glad he is my companion while I'm here.

I got an Email from aunt Anna and uncle Bill in Spain. How old are Elliot and Liam? Could you ask them if they knew of a family by the name of Ventura? or maybe the Lara family? The first councilor in my branch presidency served in Barcelona in the 70's, and said maybe you would know of them. Grant also emailed me about researching with a law professor on Cyber War. That sounds Super interesting, and I'd like to know how it goes if you get the chance. Yesterday, I ate a chicken enchilada for dinner. And yes, we are very suspicious of the orange juice in the MTC, but I heard the rasberry lemonade is good, so thats a plus. I also got an email from Thomas, I was really happy to hear from him. By the way, I don't need a sweater, I'm warm I was just saying it was cold here compared to Recife Brazil, sorry for the confusion.

Could someone help me get Elder Bryson Bogle's Email Address? I would really like to write him. I was thinking Mckenna would have it , or maybe the Messico's could ask someone in their family down in NC for it. I also need the Messisco's email address too. To Jackie They have a shoulder bag and a power converter in the bookstore, so I will probably buy them there. Still working on getting pictures to everyone. I bought a card reader but I cant figure out how to upload pictures.

On Tuesday, President Rasband came and spoke to us about Spiritual gifts. Everyone has at least one Spiritual Gift, and most people have more. I'd encourage everyone to search the scriptures to learn more about spiritual gifts, to pray for them and to also ponder as to which gifts you may have. I also want to share a portion of my testimony. I Testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I testify that he completed the atonement, by suffering in the Garden of Gethsamene, dying on the cross, and being resurrected three days later. I testify that he did all of this for not only our sins, but for all of our pains, and sorrows. Because of this, we will never have to suffer through any temptation alone. If we will simply turn to him, he will help. He completed an infinite atonement according to the will of his father. I also Testify that God calls prophets in every dispensation, such as Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Noah and Moses, and that just as he did in the past, God has also called a prophet in our days. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God to restore the fullness of God's gospel on earth. I also Testify that the Book of Mormon is evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that anyone who reads it, ponders and prays with real intent to know if it is true will receive an answer through the power of the Holy Ghost. I also Testify that this gospel Blesses families in amzing ways, and that families are central to God's plan and are ordained of him. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and ask that you remember the True meaning of why we celebrate Christmas, and not get caught up in the commercial season. Eu amo Voces!!!!!! ( I love you all)

Elder Hodgson

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Elder Hodgson's First Week in the MTC

 My P-day is every Friday, except last week "didn't count", so this has been my first chance to actually use email. Anyways, things are going great here. my companion is Elder Moss, he's 18 yrs old and lived in Virginia before he came out. I have 3 roommates, Elder Moss, Elder Hargrove (from Texas, really funny guy) and Elder Ballard ( from Asheville NC, also our district leader).  We all get along great and have a lot of fun here. We started learning Portuguese on our first day here. I've already learned enough to have simple conversations and to pray. We basically just study all day with breaks for meals, devotionals, and then gym every other day. Our district has 6 Elders and 3 sisters total. My roommates + Elder Hodges and Elder Pennington, along with Sister Maughn, Sister Bozworth-Arzani, and Sister Thacker. Sister Thacker will also be serving in Recife, Brazil, and it turns out she's also from MA. She said it was somewhere near Plymouth though, but she said she knew our Stake President very well (President Cox). It is freezing here! its funny because we can look up the weather in Utah, usually around 9 degrees, and then the weather in our mission, usually 89 degrees, all on our profile. I always get a good laugh out of that.
         We began teaching our first investigator on about the 3rd day. We were only allowed to speak Portuguese to him. The first lesson was rough, but after that everything went well, despite the language barrier. We taught him about 5 lessons, he was committed to be baptized on the 3rd one. It turns out he was just an actor though, and he will be our teacher pretty soon ( the older missionaries told us this would happen, so we knew all along). Eventually all the lessons got progressively better, required less time to prepare and were coordinated better between me and my companion. Isn't it amazing that our whole district was capable of teaching in ONLY Portuguese after less than a week of studying the language? The gift of tongues is very real.
          Last Sunday we had Sacrament meeting in almost all Portuguese. Me and Elder Hargrove also went on a Temple Walk, where we are allowed to go visit the Temple. It's closed until January so we only got up to the gate outside. Everyone was taking pictures of it haha. It felt really weird because we hadn't seen cars in almost a week, or people not associated with the MTC haha! We also watched the Christmas Devotional(# christmasdevo!!!!!), and heard a broadcast from Elder Bednar. It was awesome! He gave several examples of how Christ always turned outward ( like when he fasted for 40 days, was tempted by Satan, but sent ministering angels to John the Baptist instead of to himself). He also warned us that having a testimony of the gospel is not enough to remain active. Many people who have a testimony of the gospel still fall away from the gospel. We must have not only a testimony of of the gospel but also be converted unto Christ. In Alma,26:5-6 it says that any of them who had a testimony AND were converted unto Christ did never fall away. He also said that whenever there is a gospel principle we would like to know more about, we should obtain a book of mormon, a cheap paperback one, and read it cover to cover highlighting anything related to our question/topic. Then create a one page summary of the answer we received. eventually we could build a sort of library for ourselves of different topics. I thought this was a very good idea and would result in a very good understanding of Gospel principles over time.       On Tuesday, we also had Elder Quinton L Cook come and speak to us. He talked mostly about our missions, and why we were called to where we are going. He said that a large portion of missionaries are called to serve in a specific mission because of the Mission President who is there would be most helpful to them.
       Our Branch Presidency is awesome! 2 of them served in Spain, and then the Second councilor served in Brazil, Back when Brazil was only one mission. The first councilor, President Jeffs served in Barcelona around 1974-6 . He said maybe mom would know the Lara family? anyways they are doing a really good job. They've challenged us to read the Book Of Mormon before we leave the MTC, which will be January 13th or 14th. I'm in Jacob right now, and I've already noticed how reading it often makes a huge difference. Every time we read it, we will learn something knew. I now truly understand how important it is to read the Book of Mormon daily, and encourage all of you to do it as well.
      Anyways, I have almost everything I need right now, except a shoulder bag, and a power converter for when I arrive in Brazil. Other than that everything is going well. I'm very happy to be here, I'm learning so much, and growing so much spiritually. I'm really excited to enter the field, especially as my Portuguese gets better and better. I will send some pictures next week once I figure out how. I need to get a card reader from the bookstore.

I love you a lot! write me and let me know how things are going!

Eu muito amoro voces! Chao Chao Picapou!!!

Elder Hodgson