Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Phone call at 6am...

This is a Mom post...

I think I have a little PTSD with Brett out on Week 5 this time around.  It was about this far out that Brett was sick and hospitalized the first time.

Tuesday morning... 6am.. my home phone rings.  (Scott was off of school and seminary, so we were sleeping in).  

My heart pounding... I notice the caller ID was a name with a Texas area code. 


It went like this:
me: Hello?  
Unknown man: Is there a Brett Hogg there? (he pronounced it right!) 
me: Um... no.  He's serving a church mission. 
Unknown man: Oh! This is Br. E*****.  He left his wallet in the church building.(laughs) I don't suppose you know the missionaries' phone number? 
me:  That sure sounds like him! haha.. No, I'm afraid I don't have their phone number.
Br. E*****: That's okay - I'll see what I can do for him. 
me: Give him a big hug for me! 
Br. E*****: (laughs)  I'll tell him that his mom says HI!
All is well... but I hope Elder Hogg received his wallet!  (I followed up with an email to Elder Hogg telling him he should put a card with his current information in his wallet... although I don't mind random phone calls from Texas so I can get hugs to my son. haha)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 5: Tongue in Cheek

Subject: Week 5: Tongue in Cheek
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:08:57 -0600
From: Brett Hogg 

This week went by super fast.

Elder P and I have been taking turns being sick. First I was sick, then he was really sick, now I'm sick again. We've been blowing our noses and and sneezing and coughing for like the last 2 weeks now haha. We're both pretty much over it now, for the most part.

On Wednesday we had exchanges with the APs (which every new missionary has to do), and so I got to spend the day with Elder B, so that was awesome. We met this Indian Muslim painter guy. He was really good and wanted us to help him get his name out. I would have actually commissioned him to paint something but he was like $100 for a small thing, but I told him we'd return with a Book of Mormon for him since he was telling us all about different holy books and how they've all been corrupted by man. He was super cool. Elder B might actually commission him to paint something for him when he gets home in a couple weeks. 

(AP = Assistants to the Mission President; Missionaries that work with the main office.  Usually missionaries that have been on their mission for at least a year.  Also he mentioned Elder B - who he was with in the Mexico MTC 2 years ago..and one of the guys that picked Brett up from the airport last month!)

Speaking of that, exchanges are next week, and Elder P is pretty sure he's leaving, this is his 4th transfer here and the average is like 3. I'm guessing he's staying, but we'll see. 

(We sure hope they can be companions for at least one more transfer! See my previous post on explaining transfers and such!)

We also had 2 baptisms on Saturday! That was awesome. I also confirmed the one in sacrament meeting, in Spanish! I kind of struggled through it mostly because as missionaries, we're only supposed to use the Usted (the formal "You tense") form when talking to people. But! During prayers and blessings you're supposed to used the Tú (the informal/personal tense), but I've pretty much forgot how to use it all together, so I pretty much did it in Usted form and threw the other form every once and a while. Anyway it all worked out.

(Grandma Debbie & Aunt Carrie - you will love this next part!)
I also tried for the first time this week, tongue, head and cheek tacos! Apparently the best tacos come from sketchy little kitchens in the back of gas stations. We helped a member deliver a bed the Guatemalans that I talked about before (the mom was one of the baptisms this week!), and after he took us to get tacos. He said the best kind are tongue and cheek (no pun intended), and also the most authentic. So I got one of each, and a head taco ( another one he said was authentic). Later someone told me head tacos means brains, but I don't know, because it definitely had a normal meaty texture. Either way they tasted fine, honestly just like shredded beef. They looked different but texture and taste wise, the same.I asked someone later and they said they peel off the taste buds/the top layers of the tongue so youre just eating the meaty inside. I didn't get a picture but next time I eat them I'll get one for ya.

Anyway not much else to report. We've taught a few lessons but no one really solid yet, the problem is we baptized all of our really solid people lol.

I haven't read your emails yet but here's this one right away!
Elder Hogg
I saw this (Wisconsin) licence plate the other day! I saw the bumper sticker and was like wow, that's funny that someone in Texas would care about Russ Finegold, then I saw the license plate.
Walked into the church with the slappy thing going on with spatulas this time.
(If you are reading this out of order - you will have to go back to understand what the heck this is about!)

I got a picture with Elder M!
(Elder M and Brett started their mission together. They were in the Mexico MTC as each others' first companions. The weird thing is that Elder M is about to go home now!  It was great that they were able to reconnect!)

Photo-bomb.. haha

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 4: Operation Andersen

Subject: Week 4: Operation Andersen
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:32:15 -0600
From: Brett Hogg

So last week there was a citizenship conference thing here in Plano, and a member signed us up to have a table there to kind of advertise our free english class. It turned out to be a great place to find new people to teach the gospel to as well! One of the people at this conference was a lady that ran a non-profit immigration center thing. It's like a small office where they help you fill out the necessary forms and stuff to help and get your citizenship. Well we talked to her and now we help out a day or two a week over there helping people fill out forums and stuff, we're also the only white people lol. The lady that runs it loves us and took us to lunch and always tells us that we were sent there by God to help them. There's a waiting room that's always packed with hispanics every morning, waiting to talk to the people that help them with their cases, and the other morning she asked us to say a prayer at the start of the day (its kind of a religious place too, it has Baptist in the name but it's not connected to any church or anything). So Elder P stood up to give it and then everyone in the room stood up too, it was kind of funny.

(In our church, it's customary for the person giving the prayer in a meeting to stand.. everyone usually remains seated.  Too cute!)

This week Elder P has also been super sick with something fierce.  His eyes have been pretty bloodshot and he's been blowing his nose constantly and been having head aches. He's been jokingly saying I gave him cancer. Well it's a rule here for areas with cars, to not drive them at least one day a week. So this past Thursday we biked everywhere, we figure we biked at least 20 miles and it was killing me, but especially killing Elder P. We tried to ask members for rides (we had someone lined up for later in the night,  but they got sick), but nobody was answering their phones.  So for our one appointment we biked across the city of Plano, and knocked on the door, exhausted, and they said they weren't feeling well, and to come back next week. It wasn't a total waste,  we visited an old investigator in the same complex for a couple minutes before biking home. I'm sure someone, somewhere, was blessed for it.

On Tuesday a call came down the line, all the way from the top. Elder Neil L. Andersen was coming to the mission, and for our meeting with him, he had specifically requested a large roley-around whiteboard, and we were tasked at finding one. We immediately jumped in the car to check our building, and nothing. Only chalkboards. So we called the district and one of the other buildings in Plano (there are 3) had one. So we told the APs and they picked it up.
Mission Apostolic Whiteboard: Accomplished.

The next day it came down the line he wanted a lapel mic. We called our resident tech guru (Bro. N) and sure enough he had one. We're not sure why the APs where calling us about these things, he was going to be in the Richardson building and there's other companionships that aren't any farther away. It's probably because of our awesome faith and willingness to help an Apostle of the Lord, and our humility.  (He makes me giggle.)

Friday was the meeting with Elder Andersen and that was cool.  We were divided into groups based on our zones and got to take a group photo with him. Then we lined up and got to shake his hand as we entered the chapel. He was traveling with an area seventy Elder Wilson (i think?) and a general authority seventy Elder Pearson. So now I've shaken two Apostles' hands (the other, Elder Oaks when he visited Milwaukee).

He talks like dad at the pulpit, one hand in his pocket, the other gesturing and moving his papers. His talk was almost entirely about Christ. He spoke mostly about making sure we sure up our testimony of Jesus Christ here on our mission, and essentially challenged us to memorize 10 scriptures from the New Testament and 10 from the Book of Mormon, that personally testify of Christ, that way they "resonate in your soul for the rest of your life." He said you can't really be a disciple of Jesus Christ if you break his commandments (he said Law of Chastity as an example). Sure you can believe in him, but only at a surface level, for if you have a deep understanding and belief in him (that's where the memorized scriptures come in) you wouldn't break the commandments. Faith is alive, he said, if it's not growing, it's shrinking. 

He also mentioned that the First Presidency and The Twelve are worried that Christ and the Atonement are being mentioned separately and talked about as two separate things. He also said "I hope you don't argue with people that believe in Christ, celebrate with them, and if they say we believe in a different Christ, tell them you celebrate that they believe in their Christ." (We're not supposed to argue with anybody for the record btw lol)

He mentioned earlier on that he was going to get to specific stuff about our mission, but we're pretty sure he ran out of time (the meeting went way over), because he didn't really get into any numbers or anything like he hinted he would. He didn't even use our whiteboard! He was in meetings with President Taylor all the last couple days so I'm sure he knows what he was going to say.

After the meeting, we all stood up and he and the rest of the stand walked out and he said "goodbye, we love you!" Afterwards Elder E-B got up on the stand (he's an AP, so he runs meetings sometimes) to announce one last thing, and it was all quite and somber in there after Elder Andersen walked out, and Elder E-B gets up on the stand and says "That was awesome", it sounds stupid trying to explain it but it made everyone crack up hahah

Then he had an adult fireside the next night that was broadcast to 14 stake centers in the Dallas area, but the stake building he broadcasted from was ours! We only got to go though if we were bringing investigators. We had an investigator there and two less actives. We realized nobody set up translation though, so Elder P did it best he could. He was still crazy sick but he got to sit up on the far end of the stand and he translated for an Apostle. I sat in the back waiting for our people to get there so I could give them the headphones. I probably very well could have sat in the back rows of the stand but I didn't want to have to come down off the stand, and walk all the way to the back in the middle of Elder Andersen talking. During that meeting he talked about families and how important it was to guide our children in the way of Christ.

Oh yea! I think he accidentally told us he's a Republican lol! There's a senior couple in our mission that he knows personally, and he was talking about how callings or careers or sides you choose in whatever really don't matter to the Lord, only that you remain righteous, have faith and follow the commandments and how awesome it was that they were serving out here. I don't remember how exactly he said it, but he brought up Harry Reid as an example of a church member who people don't agree with but still does what he's supposed to, and that's what matters, and I think he didn't want to get political so he just kind of said "well, anyway, we love him because he's a member" and everyone kind of laughed because it accidently sounded like he was saying 'we love him, even if he is a democrat' lol. And during the fireside he said last time he was in the Dallas area they met with Rex Tillerson, who now, is Secretary of State, and he said he doesn't know about the politics of it all, but they found him to be a very honorable man. I guess Rex told them he was worried that things like the Law of Chastity weren't being taught in churches very well around here.

We had 2 baptisms on Valentines day (9 and 11 years old) and 2 more this coming Saturday! I did the confirmation for the 11 year old, in English, because even though his mother speaks almost entirely spanish, he knows almost none.

I got the pants! Thank you so much, they came on Friday morning, both of them! The Nutella was great, I've had it with breakfast everyday so far haha. I also got Aunt Carrie's groundhogs day card lol

It sounds like you had a good Valentines day and birthday, so that's cool, wish i could have been there! When will Aunt Lisa learn?? Haha (Aunt Lisa fell last year and broke her nose.. and on Valentine's night she fell and thinks she did it again!) I wouldnt mind getting some vacuum packed cookie dough here in the summer haha. (I told him I got a FoodSaver vacuum-sealer for my birthday.) I got Cliff & Diane's (neighbors) card! That was awesome. I got another one, I'll check when I get home who it is from.

It's been kind of weird weather here lately, it's usually kind of cool in the mornings and by mid day it usually gets to like the 70s, and t other day . Got up to 80 something. The youth here are actually going to Nauvoo this week! It's not curling but it's still pretty cool haha  (My niece got to learn how to do Curling for their youth activity in Northern Minnesota.)

The Spanish is pretty much the same across the board as far other countries go, they just have different accents. For me right now I can't really tell a huge difference but Elder Pattee  (like Elder Huber could) can usually tell, at least, if their from Mexico, another central American country, or South America. One thing you can always hear a lot is pronouncing Y's like English J's. So instead of Yo, they pronounce it Jo. It kind of hard to explain. I'm not sure where that's from, but it definitely not Mexican. I'll report back when I can really start to hear the different accents haha 

Anyway I'll try emailing anything else I think of!

Love, Elder Hogg

Picture one is my view of Elder Anderson during the fireside.  I gave up my slightly closer seats to investigators.

The other is a giant chicken fried stake from a diner place here that a member took us to for breakfast this morning. He said it's kind of a thing they're known for.  .

 Also me on a borrowed bike. 

And baptism photos.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mission Week 3: Bursting the Veil

Mom's comments in blue, as always.

Subject: Week 3: Bursting the Veil
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:44:02 -0600
From: Brett Hogg 

First of all: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!  (I turned 50 this week.. lol)

Second of all I got the package!! Thanks a ton, Elder P thought the Wisconsin shirt was the coolest thing ever and was so grateful. 

And those socks are super nice, I wore them the following 3 days. (Just to be clear, there were 3 pairs.. haha). I decided I was going to try to eat healthier while I was out here, but between your box of candy and the cookie dough the N--- family got me, that's all out the window haha. 

For dinner on Monday, the A---- family (the patron saints of Plano), made me birthday steak.  
I have to share this in the middle of Brett's letter... I received a text from Brother "A" with pictures. Oh my goodness - how sweet!

The text:
"Hello Sister Hogg, We are celebrating your son's birthday tonight.  All is well and he is working hard with his companion. Thank you for sharing your family with us."

> then I text back with profound thanks and love.. then

"Steak and potato, spinach salad with pineapple blended drink It was delicious! Also another family from our stake stopped by and gave him a tub of cookie dough that they said was from you.  Elder Hogg got a big smile on his face and said, "Yep..Mom knows how much i like cookie dough!"

>I texted back thanking them for such a thoughtful meal and so much love for my boy!

Back to Brett's letter...

They really are amazing. I'm pretty sure they do more for the branch/the missionaries than anyone else does for any other anything in the whole rest of the stake. Seriously, they drive way out of their way to pick people up, help people move, temporarily  house people, feed people. All of this, by the way, while not knowing a lick  of spanish. Well, I should say Sister A doesn't speak Spanish, they're white but Brother A served his mission in Argentina, so he speaks spanish. She's the young women's president, which works because all but maybe 1 or 2 of the youth speak English better than they speak Spanish, even if the parents speak little to no English. Well, while we were eating steak, the N--- family came to visit and brought Cookie Dough and good tidings from the fam! That was super cool, they're super awesome, and always say hi to me when we see them at the church building and stuff.

Here is the Facebook post to our Missionary Mom group that Sister N posted:

Back to the email....
There's one Guatemalan (like they just got here) family we've been working with. There's like 2 people/families in the branch that have helped them out a ton so we got them cards for the Guatemalans to sign, and they were thoroughly confused. Apparently they don't really DO cards in the Central/South America. Either way they wrote little spanish notes telling them thanks (after we explained what they are), and it was pretty cool. Anyway that same mom officially got the go ahead and has a date set for getting baptized! Elder P was over the moon about it, he's been teaching her for a while now and has been working with her from  the beginning and been helping her out a ton.

Saturday is where the magic happened. We started off by going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead with a sister in the branch and Sister who was baptized a number of years ago, but had been inactive since but since has been super active. That was awesome. I did some confirmations in Spanish! And the worker running the session was a white guy that served in Chile, so he spoke spanish too. Then a member asked us to come to this citizenship workshop thing, because we teach a free english class on Saturdays  (lately it's been pretty empty and we've been pretty busy on Saturdays so I haven't been yet). That was cool place to find new people to teach. Then we had a baptism  that night for Juan, that was a cool experience. Btw, is there any hispanic in the Hogg family tree? Because the baptism started at 7 and nobody showed up until 7:15 lol. Hispanics tend to run late, and so we like to joke about that mormon (Mormons run on mormon standered time) Hispanics never EVERY begin on time. Anyway that was super awesome. We where joking that there might be well not even be a veil, we're working both sides today! Like that line in Spirit of God: "the Veil over the earth is beginning to burst!"

Here's a YouTube to the hymn and lyrics:

Oh yea and I got beat up by Chinese people. Elder P told me about this thing that the Chinese group does every other Saturday, we're at the church building they slap each other on specific parts of the body for up to 20 minutes, to "release toxins". I've seen pictures of big bruises that other Elders have gotten from it but I kind of wanted to try and didn't think it would really hurt, or that they would just show me. But when we got there they were in the middle of slapping each others faces (picture Chinese people sitting in chairs in a circle, and different Chinese people standing behind them, rhythmic slapping the seated people cheeks. It was kind of a weird thing to happen upon). Well anyway Elder P told them I wanted to check it out so the Chinese Elders started doing it to back of my elbows (which hurt), but apparently he wasn't doing it well enough because another Chinese guy (who I think was one of the instructors) came over and started doing it and then a Chinese lady (another instructor) came over and started my other arm, and it hurt, and I was like "oh okay well that's probably enough" and they said no, and wouldn't let me get up! They were also telling me i shouldn't drink cold water/drinks. Elder P was egging them on, telling them about my cancer, and telling them in Wisconsin  that all of our water is cold. When they saw the bruising, they were like "oooh, look at all those toxins". Anyway, I don't think there's any toxins left in my arms.

Here is a video of the pictures of him experiencing this Chinese therapy... 

I'll make sure Scott and I throw you the best 52nd birthday party ever.

Also! I'm not sure if you got the pictures but I gave President T the cheese tie, he thought that was awesome, and wanted me to tell you thank you so much, from him. He got the pictures so hopefully you got them! (I didn't get the pictures yet.. I'm hoping soon!)

Thank you so much, I didn't think you'd actually go all the way to Kenosha to get those pants! I thought you would look online or in stores around there. You guys are the best.

(Took out paragraph about reminders about random things to send him and such.)

And one last funny thing, Hispanics pronounce "Popeyes" as "Poe-pe-yes" lol.

Anyway I love you guys and I'm sad I'm missing mom's birthday. I know Heavenly Father's got you guys covered though!

Elder Hogg

filling the (baptismal) font
I love this picture!

 us with Hermano P after the baptism
(For the non-Spanish-speakers.. Hermano means Brother)

NOTE FROM MOM: I'm super grateful to the Brother and Sister A and Brother and Sister N. Just so sweet to go through so much trouble for our son!!  I can't wait to meet these sweet people!!

Another note about the Chinese slapping therapy... I'm still horrified... but realize that it's an experience he won't forget and it won't kill him since he's likely to never do it again! haha

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mission Week 2: We scare a Muslim

Subject: Mission Week 2, we scare a Muslim
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2017 13:52:01 -0600
From: Brett Hogg 

Hey everybody,

This week was pretty cool. We went over to Carrollton (not really sure how to spell it), for a couple days. They're the other half of our zone (Plano is all one district, then Carrollton has 2 districts, they all make up the Plano/Carrollton zone). There's a couple companionships that don't have much work, so we spent a day and a half "blitzing" their areas,  meaning a couple companionships all go visit all their investigators and members and whoever else, to try and stir up more work. It's was a little successful I'd say. 

We also had zone conference, which means we had our zone and another zone meet for meetings and teachings. When President Taylor saw I was there he asked me to share my story with everybody and Sister Taylor read your comment on Facebook aloud and got choked up. Elders E-B and B were there too so that was cool.  (NOTE: Those 2 are the ones that picked him up from the airport and trained with him at the MTC.)

THE Elder Andersen is coming in a couple weeks so we talked about that, and listened to a thing from Elder Bednar where he talked about how we can decide what an Apostle will say, and draw things out of them. They asked us to get haircuts if we need them and dress in our best suits (which reminds me, it would be cool to have that grey suit coat by then if you have time to look for pants for it, but if not that's fine too). 

(NOTE: I linked the names above to their bio's.)

We also helped this Guatemalan family we've been working with get a/move into an apartment. Before they were living in one room of someone else's apartment. They don't speak English and the mom (it's the mom, 2 daughters, and a daughter of one of the daughters), works 2 jobs for like 60-70 hours a week. They have bunch of other problems, but they're lot better off now for sure. The two daughters where baptized in Guatemala, and we're going to baptize the mom later this month.

On Tuesday were going over to help this Honduran family file an appeal to a immigration judge so they can seek "political asylum." There's a ton Venezuelans here that are political refugees. We have to be clear we can't "counsel" anyone, but we can help translate their forums. After we met with those people, we decided to knock the house across the street just on a whim and it was a Somalian Muslim family and they weren't interested but we're really nice, and appreciated what we were doing (Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, but he wasn't the Messiah). We said bye and after sat in our car for a sec looking for and an address or something, and he came out to the car and asked us if we went to other houses and wanted us to know he wasn't an extremist or anything. I guess they were a little worried a couple of dudes in ties knocked on their door then sat outside their house on our phone lol. We explained everything though and he was really cool about it.

We've been running a little low on work so we've been knocking a bit and it's weird how many people think we worship Joseph Smith. Elder P has also been teaching me about which houses look hispanic, to find spanish people to teach. They're typically different colors, have a sun thing on them and a frog thing on the porch. I'll take pictures next time to show you some examples. It's also kind of nice because really Hispanic people don't really care about the Superbowl, so they weren't as annoyed when we knocked during it lol.

We also had stake conference with an area 70 (his name was Elder Larkin!). He talked about family history work and the temple and missionary work. He also promised that if we engage in the family history/temple work, the Lord will help alleviate physical and mental troubles. There was also a testimony from a guy who's been coming out to church for his wife and kids for like 40 years but was just baptized a couple months ago, that was cool. They have headphones for spanish translation but they ran out so Elder P had to translate live for this other couple, he said it was really hard. Also the Chior sang with both the organ AND the piano, it sounded pretty cool. ALSO apparently the guy who wrote "I hope they call me on a mission", Bro Brown, is in this stake! 

NOTES: I believe the Elder Larkin he refers to is found here as Elder Todd Larkin  (scroll down).  He was excited because one of the missionaries that was with him in the hospital had the same last name. Maybe related?

"I Hope they Call me on a Mission" is an LDS Children's song.  I put a link to a YouTube video with the song below. :)

Elder P is hilarious, I was telling him about Sprecher and how their root beer pretty much took over their business, and he said "I bet Satan is ticked about that" lol

[He wrote this email on his birthday.]  I'm with the zone right now and the sisters bought cupcakes, and the zone leaders got me Chipotle, everyone here is super cool. I completely forgot it was my birthday until Elder P said happy birthday to me this morning haha, he said mission birthdays are weird. We also got up this morning and went to the grocery store to rent one of those steam cleaning things, and it cleaned our carpets, they look awesome now.

The mission office told me about a package that was sent told the wrong address, we were told to go to the post office but we had to get there the exact same day, otherwise they ship it back to sender, so hopefully it makes it back :/

It's awesome everyone there is happy and having fun, I'll be home soon to join in lol. I love seeing the pictures from back home and hearing about what's going on.

I got an email from President after I got home that had a picture of a Hogg roadsign, do you have it? I can't find it in a email. Did we ever get my cancer check up things figured out?

Anyway, love you guys!
Elder Hogg

P.S. here are some pictures of our apartment, the carpet, how it looks now with all the furniture moved, and some Texas sunrises/sets.

The carpet looked much better after we steamed it!