Monday, May 25, 2015

"I don't want you to freak out..."

I labeled this "I don't want you to freak out" because that seems to be everyone's first words when they talk to a mom who's son is in the hospital 1,000 miles away (or likely any miles away).  

Tomorrow we will know more.  We'll keep you all posted.  We have had such an outpouring of love from the members, the mission, the elders/sisters serving there... it's just amazing.

The email is below is edited a bit... we'll share more as we know more.  Thanks again for everything!! 

As Usual - my comments are in blue.  

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: Hospital?!
Date: Mon, 25 May 2015 09:56:44 -0700
From: Brett Hogg <>


Im emailing from the TV in my Hospital room! Its got an internet browser on it and we requested a keyboard. Its kind of hard to do and spellcheck doesnt work, so sorry about the spelling. And I cant send pictures at the moment.

Now for the Hospital story... 
So I caught a cold the other week and my cough (the same one Ive had for a while) got a little worse so after a while Elder H made me call the Mission nurse. 
[This is basically where he gave me some specifics of tests done and results, etc.  He was checked by the nurse and eventually admitted to the hospital.]
The test also showed I had a respitory virus (a cold) so everyones gotta wear masks when they come in my room (which nobody does). [More info about tests to be done tomorrow was edited here.] but just in case they put me in an "Isolation room." Which basically means theres a double door and people still have to were masks (which isnt always a rule followed anyway), so I dont really see the point. Now, I dont want you to freak out, but [more info about tests]. I dont think you guys need to worry. By the way, I have told them about Mexico and Mono and everything.

I feel so silly sitting in this bed because I dont really feel all that sick (they said I have a bit of a fever). Elder H stayed with my the night before and through the day. Yesterday they did exchanges so he could go out/ get stuff from the apt., so Elder L was with me yesterday and last night. Today the district is coming to play a board game we've all been wanting to play (Settlers of Cattan, Its big amongst mormons. I played it at the Hauses many a year ago). Yesterday the R family (only the dad is a member, and ward misssion leader, and the nicest guy in the world) came by with the Elders. I guess that Steve guy you heard about might come visit too. [He did!  See his picture below... this is a guy on the mission "mom" facebook page that heard he was in the hospital and went to go visit him and took the pictures below.  SO SWEET!  The members there are the BEST!]

And yep I got Miss Diane's note! It was nice to hear from her, it felt like home. Shes amazing. And Milwaukee looks amazing, I miss it.

Oh man! I hope aunt Carrie is doing alright!! I got an email from her with her x-rays. I havent read the email yet but the x-rays dont look fun. Wishing her the best.  [My sister also broke her leg yesterday - in 2 places!]

I'll probably check my email more through out the day to repond and stuff.

Elder Hogg (cant make a heart on this keyboard)

I gave him some picture assignments - before he was in the hospital.  Then I added to it and told him to take pictures in the hospital.  He said:
Will do! and of course Ive got pictures in the Hospital! Elder Larkin and I are taking selfies right now!

Brother Steve V. went to visit Brett and took pictures.  It was the nicest thing ever!!  A kid he never met!  The members there are beyond amazing - that is for sure!
Elder L pretending to operate on Brett...
Looks like he made it through his "surgery" okay!  haha!!

More this week, I'm sure.... Thank you again for all your prayers and messages of support!  You can't EVEN imagine how much that means to us!!!  Love, Sue

Monday, May 18, 2015


My comments are in blue. ~Sue/Mom

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 2 MONTHS!
Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 14:13:12 -0500
From: Brett Hogg <>

Just some updates!

Its starting to get hot, and I'm already starting to tell I wont like biking in a tie and dress pants/shoes under this Texas sun.

Its not set in stone, but next transfer we've predicted that they are combining ours and the other Elders in the district's areas and I'll have Elder L as a companion (one of the other Elders), so they'll have an Elder from each area, and our companions will be transferred out. If that happens we might get a car, and Ill move into the other Elders' apartment, which is way better!

Elder L originally served in Lima, Peru. He served there for several months before catching Yellow Fever, and having to go home for 8 months and afterwards was reassigned to Dallas, Texas. So it's fun to listen to his stories about how different Peru is. Did you know the Catholic church down there (and I've heard here some places here) CHARGES for baptism?! Like, isn't that like the definition of Priest-craft or something, and just, like, SO wrong??? So most people down there cant afford to be baptized, so when we ask them they jump on it (until they learn of the actual commitment that it is lol).
(Just a note: The LDS church doesn't charge members for any services or ordinances, and the clergy are all volunteers.  It refers to the many instances in the Bible - and Book of Mormon - where those who were doing the Lord's work turned down money and those who charged for their services were said to be involved in "priestcraft".  Please know - we are not judgmental of paid clergy - but just VERY different for Brett to hear about this happening when he grew up that his bishops and priesthood leaders were not paid. He knows that Priests are paid in the Catholic church - but I guess he didn't realize that many charge for services and ordinances, such as baptisms. See THIS LINK.)
We wind up talking to a lot of English speaking people that are awesome totally prepared and we want to teach, but we have to refer them over to the English missionaries. Its kind of weird, because the they'll speak Spanish mostly but their kids only really know English, so the parents want their kids to listen so we teach them in English (usually if the parents know English. If they ONLY know Spanish then WE teach them, its kind of confusing).

As far as food goes, its not bad. Nothing I haven't been able to eat. Only I did try "Chicharron," tacos which is like pork rinds (or skin), but like cooked. I dont know really what it tasted like because all I could think of while eating it is "I'm eating skin." I didn't ask for anymore needless to say. Otherwise nothing really worth writing home about. Hermana M makes my favorite dinners but they're usually pretty simple (homemade salsa and guacamole on grilled chicken (in a tortilla of course)).
Its also kind of cool to see the mix of Hispanics here. Most are Mexican but we also run into a lot of people from Salvador and Honduras. Also a Cuban lady once. My companion says the Salvadorians have the clearest accents, but it all just sounds like Spanish to me right now. lol.

We have one family that's probably progressing the most right now (we just set baptismal dates (which is harder here because the Bishop kind of tells us when we can do that (which I dont think he has the power to do but hes just trying to make sure we're not creating inactives, so we get it))). The parents have been members (but inactive) for a long time. The kids are who we set baptismal dates with. The mom is super nice and has an awesome heart, but struggles with some health problems and smoking. The dad we get to see and talk to less (because he works all the time), but we think he has some stuff to straighten out before being completely active again (including actually coming to church (he drops his kids and wife before having to go to work)). But I love 'em. the only thing is their house in crawling with cockroaches. (not Large size, but Small and Medium size). I don't really like teaching there but it's not about me!

There's also a problem here with stray dogs (or I think some of them have owners, but they just let them wonder everywhere) and some cats. I want to pet them but I don't want fleas or something lol. Last Tuesday we had district meeting and on the way there we had this Pitbull following us the whole way, he was super friendly and I think we wound up calling him Jeffery. (Why Jeffery?) He obviously had an owner because he had a collar and when it slipped off once, he stood there with his nose in the air to put it back on. Everyone fell in love with him (I thought he was alright, he hit my face with his and got slobber all over me, so I wasn't his biggest fan after that) but we called animal control and they came and got him.

We also when to this place called Braum's (I think that's how you spell it). Its like a fast food place that's also like an ice cream shop, but also has a tiny grocery store inside (in which you can buy their ice cream and other foods). It was kind of weird. The food was pretty good, but I got to say, they have nothing on Culver's or anything else back there in the Dairy State as far as ice cream.

I also helped give a blessing to a 2 year old who had some type of blood disease/cancer. Its was sad because she was crying after having to take some medicine and then we took out the oil and she started to cry again because she thought it was more medicine, but once we started the blessing, she calmed right down.

Well thats about it for this week! Still in the Lord's work!
Elder Hogg

AND MORE comments in emails which respond to some of my questions:

AHH!! Thank you so much for the package!! Is there a way to make someone sign for it? It just makes me nervous that they just drop it by the door! You probably shouldnt send anymore gummy worms, we eat them far too fast. (Note: Send more sour gummy worms!) The alarm clock is awesome, and the moccasins are great for around the apartment. I dont think new ones are needed right now, thank you though!!

The Princess Ball looks great!! Every year I cant believe how far you guys go, especially with those cupcakes!! Tell the rest of your  presidency it looks awesome!! I miss Ms. Diane. Im glad shes doing awesome. Ill try to email Adrienne, shes so close! I say go for it.

Glad to see Town Hall's doing well (told him about our new cloud server) and the glasses look great!!! (I sent him pictures of my new glasses.)

Also I sent you a letter, I dont know if you got it yet but there was a typo. It should say 22 months not 20, in the last paragraph.

Alright, well I think our time is up here at the library (oh, and on Memorial day, we'll go to a member's house). Love you and see you next week!!!
Brett <3 <3 <3


 BUT... I got a letter.  I'll share it here (click to see larger):
Pretty special and personal - but if you are reading this blog - you are on the journey with us!

 Also - if you want to send goodies/package - just let me know and I'll get his address to you!!!

Sunday Dinner with Sister Norma

I received these two pictures through Facebook last night.  Brett gets to eat dinner at Sister Norma's house.  She's a wonderful member who has all the missionaries over on Sundays for dinner - and last Sunday she let the kids Skype from her house.  I'm grateful for her every day!  Here are this week's pictures from dinner! ~Sue

Monday, May 11, 2015

Glad to hear from home...

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: What a week!
Date: Mon, 11 May 2015 13:23:40 -0500
From: Brett Hogg <>

Bore my testimony! (they didn't ask but it was fast and testimony so I did anyway).

I taught the restoration in English pretty much by myself. It was really cool. She had a kid that kept running around (so she would always have to get up and get him) so Elder H said he would play with the kid while I taught the lesson. The way they teach now though is super easy though. You pretty much just ask questions about the pictures in the pamphlet. You could probably look up the Pamphlet method on the internet somewhere. But anyway, she seemed super interested and way into it, the English elders have stopped over there several times with no luck, but that's the way it goes...
 The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

I haven't been very good about my journal since I got into the field, but I'm working on it.

I love hearing from you and getting pictures from you. The couple days before the call I was getting pretty homesick. I think it had to do with being really sick and just wanting to be comfy and home and with my mom. Its starting to sink in that I don't even have 2 months yet, and I'm supposed to be away from you guys and home for 2 years. I was thinking about all of Scott's high school stuff that I'm going to miss and how I'm not really going to be with all you guys just chilling at home or any of the other crazy stuff we did as a family. I was really kind of in a slump because of that and being sick really made it worse. But after yesterdays call I feel way better, I still miss you guys a ton and will probably just be homesick here for a while till I get over it. But I loved seeing you guys and it really helped.

I love getting emails and pictures from you, so keep em comin! And I'm looking forward to getting a package out here! You have a letter coming for mothers day and eventually I have stuff from Mexico for you guys.
Love you!!
Brett <3

Then Later....
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: More stuff...
Date: Mon, 11 May 2015 14:24:19 -0500
From: Brett Hogg <>
To: Susan J. Hogg <>

And oh my goodness, I ran out of time answering everybody and uploading pics and everything, I don't know that Ill have time for a long email :( When we get iPads it will be way easier. Next week, for sure. I did get to talk to you (yesterday and today) though and that's really what I wanted/needed most. I love you so much!!
Brett <3 <3 <3 <3

Note from Sue:  I emailed Brett back and forth a little today while he was online.  He's doing much better.  I told him he has a new ward family and he just has to get used to it.  This is also his first real home away from home.  I also talked to the mom of the missionary who just left Elder H and Grand Prairie and he said it was the hardest thing of his mission to leave that area and the people there.  I know Brett is in a fantastic area and the members there are really amazing.

Email Brett at the address at the top of his messages.  Or if you want to send him a fun package or letter, just let me know and I'll give you his street address.

These elders are called the "Texas Towers".  They are both 6'7"
and everyone takes pictures with them.  Those that know Brett in person, know
he's pretty tall (about 6'2") and he looks small next to these guys! 
He got this pic for me :)

According to Brett:  "Like El Rey but not as nice."
(our local hispanic grocery store which I love) 

Only quality fruit at terrys!

"If you ever need cereal and a porcelain dog, Terry's has your back."

"They have more of the weird religious candles here!! 
Our favorite that we had to have was the "LAW, STAY AWAY!" candle. LOL"

(See up in the top in tiny letters)

"The back door of our apartment and the hole in the gate 
we use to get to the store and the neighborhood behind it."
and then
"other side of the fence. To left is an ally that leads to 
a sidewalk to the neighborhood. The right is the front of terry's."

"Where we do laundry"

"a panorama of the apartment, Ill try to get better ones. 
We were in the middle of a lot so its kind of messy."

"bedroom. still not unpacked."

Mother's Day Skype!!

We had a Skype session with Brett today!!!! 
Wow - it was amazing to see him. 

  • Lots of cockroaches in that area (we don't have many in most areas of Wisconsin - so that's new). None in his apartment - so that's good!
  • He's getting used to the bike. The storms have come mostly at night - so he hasn't had to bike in the rain yet! It's super humid there. 
  • The not-great grocery store they go to is really their only shopping.  They can get a ride to Walmart (several miles away) every 2-3 weeks from what I understand?!  
  • He's been working and studying a LOT. 
  • He has an awesome trainer/companion. 
  • He loves his ward and members (it's a Spanish Ward). He understands most everything - but still learning the language (of course). 
  • The members there are amazing... the woman whose house they were in said she considers them her adoptive sons... Warms a mom's heart - that's for sure!
  •  He's got a head cold, and a little homesick... so it was good he could talk to us. We had a group hug (that's the close-up). 
  • He VERY MUCH looks forward to emails and would love to hear from anyone/everyone!! 

 Also - if you want to send goodies/package - just let me know and I'll get his address to you!!!


Pictures of Brett; Group Hug with us; Elder H (his trainer/companion); Sister Norma who shares her home and feed all her missionaries every Sunday!  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

The Texas Dallas Mission Facebook Page posted the following video of all of their missionaries holding up signs for their moms.  

Click HERE to get to Brett's (at 8:25), or click the full video below.  It's fun to see all the languages and messages.  ~Sue

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

First week in the field!

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: First week in the field!
Date: Mon, 4 May 2015 15:01:35 -0500
From: Brett Hogg <>

Well first to finish up the CCM.

     The Friday before we left we had "infield orientation." It was a long day of classes and workshops that made it hard to stay awake. That was when we had the demonstration with the 414 area codes. We heard a story from Elder Bednar, where he shreds a couple of missionaries looking for referrals. Try and see if you can find that one somewhere, don't have much time to write it out. (I have been looking and can't find it - yet!  I'll keep looking. I saw some entries in blogs of others who've seen it and it looks really interesting!  Basically he tells the missionaries that he won't trust them with his family/friends unless they are going to genuinely take care of them.  The work isn't about numbers - it's about people.)

     Then we had one more day of classes and took a bunch of pictures. On Sundays we always watched a movie/video. It was the long Joseph Smith one (in which Elder E-B and his brother are extras in, as kids!). After the film, they played a slideshow with pictures of the missionaries who are leaving, then everyone sings Till We Meet Again in Spanish.  (Para siempre Dios este con vos) Everyone else leaves and then the people leaving have a testimony meeting thing. Almost everyone bore there's and people were crying. I bore mine.

I found this version on YouTube.  Beautiful!

     After, we headed back to the class to celebrate with the cider! It was awesome and everyone liked it. Then we all gave blessings to the sisters then to each other later. We went to bed and woke up to Mexican man banging on our door to get up and we were already pretty late to reception where we were supposed to meet. So were all freaking out and throwing our clothes on, and hes still shouting from the first floor that if we miss our ride to the airport, we would have to pay for a Taxi, and to get to the airport it would be like $70, and how were going to miss our plane. BUT, we all made it. Got through the Mexico City airport and onto our plane. (When I spoke to Brett on the phone briefly that day - he said that the driver was crazy... and was glad to make it to the airport alive!  haha)

     Then when we got to Houston we drank from a bubbler (for my non-Milwaukee friends - that means a drinking fountain), breathed some fresh American air, and understood everyone we talked to. Including Mom and Dad! That was awesome. When we got to Dallas I tried calling Scott's school but the number I wrote down wasn't working, but that would have been awesome.

     Eventually someone from the mission found us and loaded our stuff into the mission pickup. The President and all the APs (assistant to the presidents (usually there's 2 or 3, but he had 5 because 2 were about to go home)) all showed up on the shuttle thing and the APs were all very huggy and telling us that they love us. That's something we all had to get used to. The president and his wife were really cool though and said they appreciated having us there and asking us questions and stuff. Then we drove to the Temple and took pictures and talked a bit about it.
By the way!! I get to go this Thursday!!!

     Then it was off to the nearest chapel to have some orientation stuff then off to presidents house for dinner, pie, and Family Home Evening. He then gave us cool rings, called PRO rings. Stands for Pray, Read, Obey (a little cultish I know, but ill explain another time). They're cool rings. Then we spent the night at the assistant's apartment. They had a room with bunk beds just for when new missionaries spend the night.

     The next morning we went to the transfer meeting. We heard some of the out gong missionaries sing, then we all sang 3 hymns (including Praise To The Man and another one about Joseph Smith I think), it sounded really cool. Then the way they do transfers, after we here some people talk is that they have a projector in the chapel and just through up the the changes zone by zone. They have your picture in the district you're in (I know its confusing but ill explain another time), and the people being transferred's faces show up next to her new companion's and in the district/zone you're new in. Well the 5 that didn't have pictures next to their theirs were trainers. When they through the picture of the zone up with the changes everyone freaks out. Afterwords, all the new guys and all the trainers met in a room and they asked us to guess who's with who, by standing by it. The only English speaking elder knew right away. Elder M and I got ours switched, but none the less,  Elder H is my Trainer and first companion in the field! Hes been out 11 months and is from Washington state. Hes super cool.

     This is Elder H's 4th transfer here, which is long, so he thought for sure he was getting transferred and not his last companion. Im his 5th companion and hes only served in 2 areas (which is rare for being out almost a year). He assures me we have the worst apartment in the mission (and he served in Oakcliff). We have a closet we dont open. Like you said, Grand Prairie is my first area and its right in between the Fort Worth Mission border and the border of Dallas proper. 

Elder H also assures me its one of the ghettoest areas in the mission, but the best place in the mission to learn Spanish.
I found it with Google Earth. :)  I love technology.
Pretty humble place - but they don't need much.

He and the Latinos here just yippidy-yip-yip back and forth and Im just trying to keep up and understand. I'm not used to being around white guys that speak better Spanish then me. We bike everywhere and I'm the only new guy that was sent to a bike area. Its something I really have to get used to because by the end of the day everything from the waist down is sore. He also warns me that white people are the rudest. Latino people at least give us the time of day. And they're just the best people. We have dinner every night from a member and one was with Mercadies who is a new member (who's confirmation I got to stand in on while Elder H gave it!) and she was always making sure we had enough and once saw my plate was empty and popped right up as fast as she could and got me more. Then we had dinner with Norma (who posted the picture on the FB page, and yep, that was her house and that's the whole Grand Prairie district (there are English elders that cover that area plus a bunch more but I think they are in another district). At one point all the Elders were talking and not eating and she yelled at us to keep eating, it was awesome. She calls us her children and Elder H her "pollito."
I'm on the FB page with this super nice lady.  She calls the missionaries her foster kids... she feeds them EVERY Sunday!  She is the mother hen and the missionaries are her pollitos (little chicks.)
    We meet the coolest people out here too. Of course there's some bad eggs, from the stories I hear but mostly people here are really cool. We dont have much time today on the computer but next week ill fill you in on more stuff. Just know the work is great.

My sweet burn line. Its a lot easier to see in person.

See you next week!
(He means that literally!  We get to Skype for Mother's Day!!!!  I CAN'T WAIT!!)
Elder Hogg

Monday, May 4, 2015

Last Pictures from Mexico & CCM

Brett sent a lot of pictures from Mexico.  I'll post those first - and then his most recent letter!  My captions will be in BLUE... if Brett gave me a caption, it's in black. You can see the picture larger by clicking on the them. :) ~Sue

I received this picture from an instructor.  All matching!
Instructors with the Districts
Hermano (Brother) Sainz

  Hermana (Sister) Soucedo

Hermano (Brother) Romero

Hermanas (Sisters) built a fort lol.

All the elders who were leaving

Pictures from around the CCM (Mexico MTC Campus)

I get the feeling Brett is going to miss his B mountain
(no doubt thinking that B is for Brett)

The districts that are leaving the CCM.

Mexico City Airport from the plane flying over Mexico city

Houston also has a PlaneTrain

Finally in the USA!


 Houston Airport from the sky

Off to Dallas

Dallas is so green!!