Monday, January 30, 2017

Mission Week 1: Plano

I'll be posting Elder Hogg's emails. I'll be editing out names and other info (since this is a public blog) to protect privacy of others.  If you would like to email or send letters to Elder Hogg, please let me know! You can leave a comment letting me know, as well!  

My comments will always be in blue.
~Sue (Mom)

Subject: Mission Week 1, Plano
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2017 12:49:35 -0600
From: Brett Hogg 

Howdy yall!!

I miss you guys a ton! 

As you already know my companion is Elder P-----. He's from Idaho and has been out for 14 months. He super awesome, really funny and witty, and amazing at spanish. He's perfectly bold and doesn't let anything get in the way of salvation for those that want it.

Plano is awesome. Elder P guesses it's like 5%-10% mormon. Depends on the area though, in rich areas it's higher, because the saints are so blessed. (I can't tell if he's serious or not.. haha.) Our district has five companionships: Plano 2 (us/the Spanish branch, and Elder Pattee is district leader), Plano 5, 7, 10 Elders (English), Plano 4, 6, 8 sisters (English), Plano 3 Sisters (English + Sign Language group), and the Chinese Elders (Plano 1, English ward + Chinese group). The Plano district also covers parts of Frisco and Dallas. 

Because we are the Spanish Elders for the whole district/stake, we cover the whole area, and get a car!! We still go out on foot/bike sometimes to help save miles and such, but we still go over, and just this week they cut our miles down even more (from 1300 a month to 1000 a month)! The Chinese Elders (Elder L and Elder L, from Beijing and Taiwan) technically cover the whole mission so they have a car too, and the English/Sign Language sisters technically cover the mission as well, and they just got a car this week (the reason our miles got cut down).

Elder P has been here for going on 4 transfers and says that Plano is the hardest area he's had so far (he was trained in Grand Prairie by Elder E-B!).
NOTE: Elder E-B is one of the ones that Brett was with at the MTC and picked him up from the airport this time!
I didnt see you when i was taking off, but i was looking! When I got to the airport and saw the guys that was awesome they shouted "Hogg!!" And ran to me. It was unreal seeing those guys again, they're APs (assistants to the president) now, and I haven't seen Elder M yet, but I talked to him on the phone and that was awesome. He's a zone leader now out somewhere. 

You're right, our apartment is way nicer, That being said it's still not that great lol. I guess the mission had the apartment empty for several months before Elder P got there last transfer (from a super nice apartment here in Plano). The missionaries that were there last didn't do a good job of emptying everything nicely because I guess there was mold everywhere, all over the walls, doors, carpet. They spent a day and a half scrubbing it and it looks like fine to me, except the carpet needs to be steam cleaned, it's covered in dark mold splotches all over, and the bathroom door is warped/coming apart, so it doesn't close, and there's no fan in there either, so no ventilation, which means it stays wet in there for a long time. Also only a couple of the outlets work. But really I can't complain, compared to the situation of some of the people down here. I can't really tell you about it all but a ton of immigration and marriage problems. Some really sad situations with kids, and domestic problems.

I will say this though, Latinos love to feed us. They'll give you as much as you're willing to eat at a dinner appointment. One weird thing though is that the mom usually cooks and then keeps cooking or kind of hangs around while everyone else eats at the table and eats after everyone else. Also they keep their houses dark and warm, and that makes it really hard to stay awake sometimes when we're visiting haha.

It's awesome to here about everything going on at home. At most schools you don't wrestle varsity  until your senior year, junior year if you're lucky, but Scott's a stud, he'll be varsity in no time. Hope you get some time off after W2 week is over. And that's cool everyone was there, aunt Carrie and Bethany and the girls. I definitely want it see pictures of the stuff dad's working on, everyone here thinks he has a really cool job.

I haven't seen Steve yet, unfortunately  he's on the other side of Dallas, but eventually  I'll get over to him. If you ever have a package coming my way, send some cheese curds or something for Elder P lol.

If i think of anything else I'll try to send another, I'll also be sending pictures once I get a couple. Also tell the ward and everyone else that I miss them.

Love you guys!
Elder Hogg

Friday, January 27, 2017

Texas Dallas Missionary FaceBook Post!!!

The Mission President and his wife, Sister Taylor, have a Facebook Page where they post pictures of the incoming missionaries (and many other things, too).  Here is the special post they did for Elder Brett Hogg!  (See below the post for more details on the pictures.)

These two Elders begged President to pick up Elder Hogg at the airport. The three of them arrived together in the same group almost 2 years ago. They were with each other in the Mexico MTC. These two LOVE Elder Hogg and could hardly contain their excitement when they found out he was returning!!
MTC = Missionary Training Center
NOTE FROM MOM: Elder Hogg must have been THRILLED... he wasn't sure who would pick him up since he wasn't coming with a group from an MTC.  This is so cool!

Elder Hogg with his Trainer (Elder P)

The other pictures were from when he was in the hospital before he had to leave the first time... including one with the Mission President! The missionaries that stayed with him in the hospital have all returned home and Brett had been emailing with him.  He was hoping to see some of them, as well... and just might if they return to Dallas for a visit during Elder Hogg's mission!  Or maybe visits to their home states after he is finished?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Missionary FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

For those who are reading who may not know the missionary life, I'll give you a short re-cap of some of the missionary life, rules & lingo (common vocabulary) from MY knowledge (so I may need some correcting).  I've included links (the underlined words) which can lead you to scriptures or references.  Let me know if you have more questions!

Q. Do missionaries get any time off?
A. Missionaries work 7 days a week.  They have a day off (called a preparation day - or "P Day" for short) where they email home, do grocery shopping and laundry. P-Day ends at 6pm and then it's back to appointments.  P-Day is Monday. So we get emailed from Elder Hogg on Mondays (the Missionary-Mom's Favorite Day of the week!!!).  I will post here with pictures that he sends!

Q. When can you visit him? Do you get to talk to him?
A. Families do not go and visit their missionaries - although there are some special circumstances, but it is quite rare.  Missionaries are only allowed to call - or Skype - home on Mother's Day and Christmas Day.  (There are circumstances where they can choose another day other than Mother's Day.)  There is no other communication during the 2 years.  It's tough on Mom... but good for the missionary to focus and be less homesick.  From experience - I know that if a missionary becomes ill or hospitalized, there are special circumstances where a call home is permitted.  (We are planning a trip to Texas shortly after Elder Hogg returns home!)

Q. We always see 2 missionaries - never one... is that a rule?
A. Yes! Missionaries are at least in a companionship of two - and sometimes 3. A companionship is an Elder (or Sister) and his (her) partner.  There are never one male/one female.. but either male companionships or female companionships.  They live in an apartment and will always be within eyesight of each other (of course - with the utmost modesty. Yes - showering, bathroom is private.... some people actually ask about that!)  Companions are always together, or partnered with other missionaries in at least pairs. This is scriptural. See Doctrine & Covenants 42:6, Matthew 18:20, 2 Corinthians 13:1.

Q. Why do we call him Elder? He's only 22! 
A. Elder is an office the Church, as well as an office in the priesthood (like Deacon, Teacher, Bishop, Apostle, etc.).  Those that are called to missionary work (men) are addressed as Elder plus their last name.  Women are addressed as Sister and their last name.  Elder is best explained from the entry in our Bible Dictionary (with scriptural references).  From what I understand - it is used for missionaries so their ecclesiastical authority is recognized as they teach the Gospel around the world. I believe it also helps the missionary remember his responsibility, as well.

Q. What do missionaries wear?
A. The men wear white dress-shirts, conservative ties (no cartoon ties, etc), dark suit pants, or suits. Hair must be short. No jewelry except for a ring, if they wish, and a watch. Women wear modest, conservative shirts/skirts or dresses. Women's hair can't be colored with non-natural colors and must have a conservative style (length is not dictated). Women can wear necklaces/earrings that are conservative and not excessive.  During P-day they can wear T-shirts and pants or longer shorts.  When exercising they can wear t-shirts and longer shorts/jogging pants as well.  Missionaries are not allowed to go swimming. Nametags must be worn - and visible - at all times. If winter coats or jackets are worn, the nametag is to be worn on the coat.

Q. Bike? Car? Walking?
A. Elder Hogg is in a bike area - but they have a car since they serve all of Plano as Spanish-speaking missionaries.  They are limited in the amount of mileage they can drive - so often they will ride their bikes.  Missionaries are to purchase - and own - their bikes/helmets/locks.  In some areas around the world, missionaries do not have a bike or car - but walk several miles per day and/or rely on public transportation.

Q. If we see missionaries walking - can we offer to give them a ride?
A. Yes! However, don't be offended because they may decline the offer.  There are several rules in accepting rides from people, including members.  For instance, 2 male missionaries may not ride with a female who is alone. There are other rules - but it doesn't hurt to ask if you are willing!

Q. What do missionaries DO?!
A. I'll speak mostly for the missionaries serving in Brett's capacity.  The short answer: Full-time missionaries are to teach the Gospel.
Long answer: Missionaries are servants of the Lord (aren't we all?).
During Elder Hogg's mission he will:

  • Teach lessons to individuals and families wanting to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
  • Assist in the needs of people of the area - including helping with service such as moving, yard work, and cleaning up after natural disasters. 
  • Teaching English in the community.
  • Translating for people as needed for local services or for church services. 
  • Serve in their communities where needed.
  • Provide ordinances - such as blessings of comfort, blessings for the sick, and they are authorized to baptize and confirm.  
  • Assist the ward in events and efforts of helping them with new converts or those returning back to the Church. 
  • Serve other missionaries, when needed.  (Such as when Brett was hospitalized - he was the receiver of much missionary service!!)
I'm sure there are more things they do - but that is what I can think of!

Everything they do is under the direction of the Bishops in the wards they serve, their District leaders, Zone leaders and Mission President)

There are other missionaries in the church - such as when my sister did a "service mission" from her home providing call-desk help for!!  There are many mission opportunities in the church - including for all of us to teach and be examples!  But most people think of "missionaries" as the full-time men and women that serve in the same capacity that Elder Hogg is serving right now... dedicated service away from home for a period of two years.

Q. What if they are sick? Do they stay home?
A. Yes - they can stay home. The companion stays home, as well, of course. If it is something a little more serious, there is a Mission Nurse, or they can go to a clinic/urgent care facility - or hospital, if needed.  Most of the time, if they have a cold/flu - then they rest for a day or two and study and keep to a schedule as much as possible.  Often the "healthy" companion will still work making phone calls, and setting schedules (or re-scheduling for missed lessons).

Q. What are the apartments like?
A. Messy - haha!  Missionaries are asked to keep tidy apartments (but I've heard some stories in many areas).  They have a couch, table/chairs, twin beds, dressers. No TV. They are regular 1-bedroom apartments with full kitchen in most areas (a little less humble in other countries).  Leases are obtained and maintained by the mission office.

Q. Can they listen to music or watch TV?
A. No TV, Newspapers, News broadcasts, etc. They don't keep up on local news or national news events.  Of course if anything catastrophic happens - the mission office communicates with the missionaries. They are allowed to listen to classical music, or church music performed by contemporary artists. And of course, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! Haha!! Some areas are more strict with music choices.  They are not allowed to use headphones - but can listen through a speaker.

Q. How long does a missionary stay in one place? 
A. You'll often hear Brett (or other full-time missionaries) say the word "Transfer" as a span of time. A transfer is a 6-week period.  Some missionaries will stay in an area for several transfer periods.  Missionaries are often told a couple days before the transfer date (the same date for all missionaries in that mission area) if they are to be moved to a different area.  Missionaries can stay in one area for 1 transfer time period - or several!  I've heard some missionaries stay on one area even up to a year (although it's very rare).  They are transferred to train other missionaries coming in.. to accommodate others that are leaving.. or if the mission president needs to make a change in an area for a myriad of other reasons.  Brett's transfers are on Wednesdays - the next date is 3/8.  Don't send packages too close to the transfer date or they may sit for awhile before it gets paired back up with the missionary at his/her new assignment!

Q. How much do they get? Who pays for the mission?
A. For some people, it's hard to believe, but the missionary and/or family pays for their mission - and sometimes additional friends/family members offer to contribute.  The Church has evened out the mission cost so that all missionaries pay the same - regardless if they are serving in Cambodia, Milwaukee, Tokyo, or Seattle.  The mission can be paid each month - or all at once (we are paying monthly).  While they are on their mission - their housing and utilities are paid by the mission office.  They are given a SMALL stipend to pay for their groceries and incidentals each month... which is why, in most areas, the missionaries will be invited to member's homes for meals several times each week, or why some people will give them groceries or take them out to eat.  They live very frugally (is that a word?). And it's why mom and others send fun packages with goodies!

Vocabulary (to the best of my ability):
District: 4-5 companionships
Zone:  Several Districts (usually a 1-2 cities or areas)
Mission Area: Can encompass a piece of one state - or even a few states.  The Texas Dallas mission (as you might have read in Brett's assignment letter) encompasses The City of Dallas (not Fort Worth - that's a separate mission) and areas most in East Texas, plus a southern sliver of Oklahoma and a little bit of Arkansas.
Ward: A congregation of the church... usually 50-250 families (this varies greatly). Wards are separated geographically.  If a branch or ward contains too many members, then it can split into another ward.
Branch: A small congregation... usually less than 100 people in Sunday attendance.  When a branch has enough priesthood holders, then it will become a ward.
Stake: Usually 8-15 units (wards/branches).
Bishop: The ecclesiastical leader of the ward (pastor).  Bishops are not paid; there is no paid clergy of the LDS church (although some leaders get traveling stipends, etc.)

Let me know if there is more you would like to know!  If something comes up in an email from Elder Hogg, I will explain it in the email (my comments will be in BLUE).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Your missionary has been assigned....

Dear Brother & Sister Hogg,

We are grateful to have your son, Elder Brett Hogg, serving with us in the Texas Dallas Mission.  He arrived safely and I have enjoyed interviewing him.  He has been assigned to serve in Plano, Texas, and his companion is Elder Pattee from Idaho.   We have given him a strong trainer to help him get off to a good start.  He seems happy and anxious to do the work of the Lord.  We will meet with Him regularly in Zone Conferences and personal interviews.

Our mission covers the northeast part of the State of Texas.  It takes in a little portion of Oklahoma and goes east to the Louisiana border.  Nearly three fourths of our missionaries are in the “Metroplex” of Dallas serving a population of almost four million people.  The life of a missionary is not always easy, but it will be a growing experience for him, one that will set him on a firm foundation and help him gain habits that will serve him well for life.

Sister Taylor and I are committed to do all that we can to assure a happy and successful mission for your son.  We are confident that you share that same commitment.  It is important to write letters weekly that are positive and uplifting, with support, encouragement and praise for the work he is doing in serving the Lord.  His address is  (Ask Sue).    All missionaries face some challenges.  We will inform you of significant concerns or illness as we determine such information would be helpful to you and him.  Missionaries are asked not to call parents or friends as it distracts their attention from their work.  We also request that parents and friends not call missionaries.

We extend our love to you and thank you for sending your son into the mission field.  Please feel free to write or call us if you wish. Sister Taylor manages a Facebook page and uploads many pictures for all to enjoy.  Please visit “The Texas, Dallas Mission-President and Sister Taylor” Facebook page.  We unite our prayers with yours for the well-being, success, and happiness of your son as he serves the Lord in this great work.


Brian K. Taylor, President
Texas Dallas Mission
Notes from Sue:

Plano, Texas is about 20 miles Northeast of Dallas and part of the Dallas-Ft. Worth "Metroplex".  Plano's population is about 270,000.  You can see the City of Plano in the blue area on this map. >>

Plano has a stake with 10 units - including "Plano 2nd" which is a Spanish Branch.  The branch is "home" to all Spanish-speaking members in the Plano stake (in this case the whole city).  

"English" speaking missionaries often serve within one ward's boundaries - but because Brett & his companion are the "Spanish Elders" - they  serve the entire city of Plano.

I am creating a post explaining stakes/wards/branches and other LDS terminology for those who are not Mormons!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Farewell - Take 2

Goodbye Milwaukee!

We had a Farewell (again!) for Brett on Sunday evening and we had such a fantastic turn-out.  We had to also get our ceremonial quarter-barrel of Sprecher Root Beer! It still felt pretty surreal to be doing this again and that he would actually be leaving!

Instead of putting all the pictures in here individually for "Brett's Farewell - Part 2", I created a movie!

After the farewell, Monday was just running errands and watching Brett sort and pack, and pack and sort!  That evening we met with the Stake President (and his wife - who is a good friend of mine) where Brett was set apart as a full-time missionary and given a blessing.  He put his nametag on - which was a first for President Bruner (missionaries usually don't get their nametags until they arrive at the Missionary Training Center.  Brett already had his from before!)

It was a somber day... we were all quiet.  Don't get me wrong - we were excited for Brett.. but we are going to miss him.  A missionary mom posted a question on Facebook: "When do the tears stop flowing?!" and other missionary moms posted answers - including messages such as (I'm paraphrasing): Forget yourself.. and be grateful they are healthy and happy to serve! They could have chosen so many different paths - and that they are choosing to serve is nothing short of wonderful!

That is all true.  But... for this time... we miss his voice, humor and spirit in our home. We will miss HIM.... plain and simple.  (See my "Missionary FAQ's post coming up" to explain more.)

The next morning I called Scott in late to school.. and Eric, Carrie, Scott & I got Brett off to the airport where we waited to say our final good-byes. Tears, hugs and apprehension... and then we went off to eat "sad pancakes" at Red Rooster Cafe.  We did make jokes like, "Brett used to love to drink water." "Brett loved pancakes."  We took Scott to school afterwards and we all went home and took a major nap!  I couldn't sleep too much... I kept checking on his flight on the FlightAware app.

About 1:30pm, I saw that he's arrived safely in Dallas!  We weren't sure who would be there to greet him. He was worried that they would forget since he wasn't in a normal group coming from a Missionary Training Center.  We would soon hear more.. but it was an agonizing couple of days until we heard where he was assigned, and more!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Returning to Missionary Service!

It's time to fire up the blog!
Brett has returned to missionary service!!

Since chemo ended and declared cancer-free, Brett took a couple of months to rest, recuperate and begin tasting food again!  We enjoyed going back out to dinner, or not worrying as much about germs.

In early Spring 2016, Brett was hired at Discovery World helping kids with the exhibits, having a lot of fun!  He worked that for most of the summer months, but later had to quit so he could pick up more hours at his 2nd job, which paid more...

Related imageHe was hired at the same time at Miller Time Pub & Grill as a host.  It's a restaurant at the Milwaukee Hilton in downtown Milwaukee.  Good pay and a fun place to work and they loved him, too!

So then he worked a lot of hours and still enjoyed Sundays off for church (something he was able to negotiate when he was hired at both jobs!) and spent time with friends.

Also - he was able to travel with Dante to go visit his mission in Quebec/Ontario areas!  They had a great car trip and enjoyed the different areas and people.  They had a blast.

He also did another car trip with another group of friends and they visited Duke University and a lot of Southern sites.

So after a lot of working - and some travel - he concentrated on health, working and returning to missionary service.  He had to go through more doctor's appointments and labs and paperwork... and soon he was able to get cleared to go!

It took a little bit of coordinating and having to give notice at work, but he finally got his flight arrangements back to Texas!  We pulled up packing lists and he purchased new pants and some other things he needed... but it didn't seem real... it just didn't seem like he was leaving again.

Reality hit us....

My next post is the farewell talk/party and the airport!