Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 13: Oak Cliff

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Oak Cliff
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:18:19 -0500
From: Brett Hogg 

How's it going yall!

Well as you know I'm in the Kessler Park (the english ward in Oak Cliff) area now, my new companion is Elder Watkins. 

I was really sad to be leaving Plano. I was praying to stay lol, but I was telling everybody if i have to leave I hope it's either to Oak Cliff or Garland. Oak Cliff is supposed to be on of the most ghetto/dangerous/sketchy areas in the mission, and pretty hispanic, and Garland is supposed to be like little Mexico, so I wanted to go to either of those two, and I did! 

Elder Huber served here before Grand Prairie. Oak Cliff really isn't as bad as everyone made it out to be, it's actually kind of nice. I guess it definitely used to be worse, but it's getting gentrified by hipsters from what I understand. Think Bay View, except a bigger and a little more ghetto. It's kind of weird because it has some really rich, nice parts, really hipstery parts, and some really ghetto parts, it's a really neat area.

 Unfortunately I'm assigned to the english ward/work, but it's alright because I still have plenty of chances to use my spanish every day. The problem is its already getting rusty lol. Also, then church building here used to be a Dixie cup factory lol. I guess we bought it and renovated it into a chapel. Also were super close to downtown so we have awesome view of the skyscrapers everywhere we go in the area. We can pretty much see downtown from our apartment. And you can't see it very well in this picture, but the church building has a cool view of it as well.

In the following paragraph he talks about APs - which are missionaries who have been out for awhile that assist the mission president, President Taylor. They help the new missionaries and handle transportation and such.

Elder Watkins is awesome, he's an AP, so he does a lot of AP stuff. He's in Richardson (the mission HQ basically) a lot, so I wind up on exchanges with Elder Callister, who's companion is Elder Cox, one of the other APs. Elder Cox and Elder Watkins were companions last transfer in the English ward, while Elder Callister and Elder Morgan (the guy i basically replaced) were in the Spanish Branch. Elder Cox got moved over to the Spanish Branch (he has the best spanish in the mission by far) with Elder Callister and I came in to the English Ward with Elder Watkins. We cover the same area but if we get any spanish investigators we pass them off to them and vice-versa. There's 4 APs, 2 in Richardson and 2 here, Elder Callister and I are wondering what we did to be put with APs lol. It's pretty unusual for APs to be companions with a non-APs. We know part of the reason is they're both going home at the end of this transfer (they came out with Elder Finlinson), so they don't want to double missionaries out of the ward. 

The four of us are in one apartment, so that's fun. It's in the nice part of Oak Cliff, there's a golf course really close that we go running at sometimes, and there's plenty of big houses and stuff around too. There's only one bathroom so there's a lot of brushing teeth and shaving in the kitchen sink lol. 

Elder Watkins is really cool, he's from Hawaii (born in southern California), his dad is a professor at BYU-Hawaii. He super smart and really likes surfing. He's super awesome and probably the best missionary out here right now. He also like to take pictures so we got some cool shots of us for mom lol. You hair is kind of whacky right now because Elder Finlinson and I needed hair cuts so we went to this one mom in the Branch who cuts her sons hair. Well she's never done blond hair before and I pretty much told her short on the sides, long on top, and thats what she did! The problem is it looks fine if you have black hair, but in blonde it just looks bald lol. So it's grown out some and needs to be cut but it's still not long enough on the sides and too long on the top haha.

The work is really going well here too, mostly because Elder Watkins is really good at contacting and talking to people. We get a lot of Bible Referrals too. On you can order a free bible and we'll come drop isn't off and share a message, so we get about one of those a day at least.

Anyway, love you guys!
Elder Hogg 

Good bye pictures with cool people from Plano

the (Oak Cliff) church building
(Apparently used to be a Dixie cup factory)

Tacos de Lengua (Tongue Tacos.. eww) 

The view of downtown is better than I can get in a photo, and seems a lot closer in person

Elder Hogg & Elder Watkins

Oak Cliff area

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 12: Temple, ZoneConf, and Baptism

Reminder: Mom's comments in blue!

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Temple, ZoneConf, and Baptism
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:42:49 -0500
From: Brett Hogg 

Hey yall!

This past Tuesday we didn't get to do False Prophecies* because we were at the temple all day as a zone. That was really cool, Elder Finlinson and I went in with some deep doctrines questions, and got a little bit of an answer from the ex-temple president. And while we were there they needed witnesses for baptisms and some people to do confirmations so we got to do that too which was awesome. Then we went to this Mediterranean buffet by the temple that Elder Finlinson loves, it's not my thing but the pita bread and lamb were really good, so I basically had a bunch of gyros lol.
*False Prophesies is where the missionaries in the zone or district get together and determine who is getting transferred or who is staying. Too funny.

Then we went over to Carrollton to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. That was fun. We love spending the night with those guys because they have one of the nicest apartments in the Mission. Their complex has a gym that's super nice, and it's actually fun to go work out over there. They usually have music playing in there too so that doesn't hurt either lol. The only rule with gyms is that we can't go if there's a single person of the opposite sex in there. These guys like it get up at like 5:50 to go, so there's usually no one else in there anyway. The actual exchanges with them were a bit of a flop, all of the appointments cancelled so we didn't even really get to teach.

The following section from Elder Hogg is referring to President Taylor (the president of the Texas Dallas mission - in charge of the 250+ missionaries in that area) being called to another office in the church.  One that is basically an assistant apostle.  Just like how Christ set up his church, there are 12 apostles at the head of the church. These 12 (well 15 if you include the president and his 2 counselors) use the quorum of the seventies to assist in their duties. Here is some personal insight to the process which I think is pretty cool.

Then on Friday we had zone conference which was awesome. President-Elder Taylor pretty much told us the story of being called to be a 70, and then opened it up to questions. He got a call before Christmas from the head-President of the 70, and asked if he was willing to give his life to Christ and the church, he said yes and didn't hear anything for like 2 months, so they kind of just thought he wasn't getting called to anything, but then the exact same day that Elder Anderson came to the mission he got a call from Pres. Eyring's secretary, and eventually got on a Skype call with Pres. Eyring himself where he extended the calling. So he had to sneak out of the mission and hide around Salt Lake, so nobody that recognized him and ask what the heck he was doing outside of his assigned area. 

People that are called to an office are asked to keep it confidential until they are brought up for a sustaining vote at a general meeting. (The same was true for me in my current calling as well.. or even a teacher of Sunday School, etc... it's no different for a high office in the priesthood). The purpose is that they are simply not in that office until the membership gets a chance to sustain (or agree) to the calling. They are not "set apart" or blessed for that calling until the sustaining vote has taken place and is approved.

He did run into some people and he had some family stuff planned out for that weekend, and he basically told his family that he couldn't make it and couldn't say why, and everyone else he told he was called up for some trainings (which is what Elder Anderson told him to say, because he WAS going to some trainings!). His family all kind of figured something was up when they started putting things together, like getting tickets to conference from Elder Anderson (that actually wasn't that weird because Pres. Taylor was his Stake President, so they new each other really well). He also said they told him to take off his Tags, because there's people that try and figure out ahead of time who the new GAs are going to be, and seeing a mission President going to conference is a pretty big clue. Anyway he said it was an awesome experience having meetings with all the apostles and going to the temple with them, and even had a sacrament meeting with all the General Authorities. He also answered questions about area vs. general seventies: area seventies are called for about 6 years and lives at home still, and even still have their normal jobs I think. It sounded like a Stake President's President, from what I understand. General Seventies are called to serve a general area of the world, but can go and have authority anywhere in the world. They basically go and represent and do things on behalf of the apostles when the apostles can't go somewhere. He also has sealing authority, he can do sealings in any temple in the world! 

He also told us the church is selling the mission home in Richardson, and buying a new one in Frisco, which is not very central, and 45 minutes away from the mission office. This seems to give credence to rumors of SPLITTING THE MISSION! Its been the goal for a while now ...  there's talk of splitting it North and South, which would make putting the mission home in Frisco, make sense. I don't think it'll happen anytime real soon, but I think the Church is getting ready for it in the future.

We also had baptism today! That was cool. His name in Noe (pronounced No-e, its spanish for Noah). His family is Honduran. Anyway otherwise, the work has been pretty slow. We'll see how it goes in where ever eles I get sent!! I'm really sad to be leaving honestly, I really like this Branch.

Anyway, I love you guys!
Elder Hogg

P.s. This is the longest i've ever served a mission without getting Cancer! lol

Oh yea! And for Easter, the Adams made us an Awesome brunch!!


-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: BYE PLANO
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:50:05 -0500
From: Brett Hogg 

I'm still writing my main email, but we got word I'm out of here! We still don't know where I'm going but, we do know I'm transferred!

Ps. I saw on Facebook, you guys were in a bit of a fender bender! I'm glad you guys are all ok, and hooper you still make it to Trumpville/DC!!

Love you guys are doing am grateful  you're all ok!!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 11: Another Week

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Another week
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2017 12:13:06 -0500
From: Brett Hogg 

Not much to report on this week, a lot of the same ol' same ol'. I do love it though, just talking to and meeting people is awesome. This week a couple Guatemalan ladies made us Guatemalan food, it was essentially a burrito and chicken salad, with homemade papaya juice. It was all delicious!

We also have a baptism this week! He's 9, so hes technically a convert baptism, even though the rest of his family are all already baptized, they were inactive for a while. So that's cool, Ill have pictures of that next week.
Also our English class has a student! Its a member of the branch here, hes like 60 something probably? He's going to take his citizenship test pretty soon so he wants help knowing how to pronounce everything. Hes got a whole system, hes going to study 5 questions a week (there's a 100 total) until he knows all the answers. He writes all the questions out (white a ruler so everything is straight on the paper lol), in different colors (red, blue and black for the each language and if its a question or an answer). It's my understanding that the test is actually like an interview, and they ask like 10 of the possible 100 questions, and I guess based on how well you do (and maybe your English? don't quote me on that (but the interview is entirely in English). Hes cool and its really fun actually. Its really mind-bending switching constantly between Spanish and English, I always wind up forgetting what sounds different letters make lol. 

Oh yea and we get t go to the temple this week as a district, so that will be cool. There's a former Temple and Stake President serving in the mission and he'll be coming too! Elder Finlinson and I have been writing down deep doctrinal questions to ask him.
That's really all I can think of right now, the weeks are going by so fast!! Feels like this transfer just started!
If I think of anything else or if you have any other questions ill write again!
Elder Hogg

Oh yea, I he was too quick to get a picture, but I saw a wild gecko! He was long and green. The biggest lizard I've seen to far, maybe 5 inches long? Its so weird that they have wild lizards here, what the heck! 

Also we saw a Mexican license plate, Elder Finlinson says they're all over, but this is the first that I've seen. 

I did (get my package) and you guys are dirty liars! 
We got him the Jabrari Parker bobblehead!  We had emailed him and told him that we didn't get it at the game (which was TRUE). I bought it from eBay because I knew he wanted it so badly!

Thanks a ton for all the stuff <3 Elder Finlinson liked his stuff too 

Also we have yet to see a welcome to Plano sign, its kind of weird? Still working on getting you those pictures though! 

Also the Columbian lady we teach stayed! The person that was sick died the day before she was going to leave so she just stayed!

I miss you guys too, and I love everything you guys send me!

I'm always surprised at the cost of postage on those things, so don't worry about sending me anything right away again!! 

I can't really think of anything else really right now that I need, just love hearing from everyone back home and seeing what's going on, even if I don't respond with much, it doesn't mean I still don't love it! 

Anyway, I'll talk to you again next week, hopefully something cool happens this next week, thank you for everything you do!!

Love you 
Elder Hogg

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


-------- Forwarded Message --------
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2017 14:41:10 -0500
From: Brett Hogg 

Everyone's freaking out, we didn't even know he was in Salt Lake! (Maybe the APs knew) We're not sure if he's already been set apart or not, but it's kind of crazy that we have a General Authority 70 for a mission President. We were like "what?!" When they read his name and they showed him taking his seat of  the stand. Honestly no one's really surprised, everyone pretty much knew, we just didn't realize it would be while he's still our mission president??? We wanted to text him and tell him to touch his nose 3 times to say hi, but we figured he didn't have his phone on him lol.

Here is the LINK to Read about the new General Authority members of the Quorum of the Seventy. (As a side note, the mission president that just finished serving last year here in Milwaukee was called as an Area Seventy!) Such selfless and thoughtful people that will serve anyone, anywhere!

That's cool I didn't realize  Pres. Cutler was called too! That's awesome! Also the Allan stake president (the city just north of plano), got called to be an area 70 as well! Elder Finlinson lived with him in his last area.

Conference was good, but Pres. Monson isn't looking well, I guess he's got dementia now, and is in a wheel chair when he's not talking at conference. I'm wondering who will be next because the next 3 guys are like 90+. I'm pretty certain Bednar will be one.

In other news, our area is being split up. We're getting hermanas that are moving over from Carrolton. It was the zone leaders idea, and Pres. Taylor said ok, so I'm sure it'll be good but I'm not bananas about it. I'm not sure there's enough work for it here. There used to be hermanas here, like a year or so ago, and they moved them out, so I'm not sure there's more work now than there was a year ago. I'm jealous though because they're going to live with the Adams, the family that fed me on my birthday and do pretty much everything for us (including our laundry lol), the patron saints of Plano. We'll see how it goes.

Other than that not much going on. We're teaching a couple people. We have 2 nine years Olds who will probably be getting baptized soon. Other than not not much going on.

Love you guys!
Elder Hogg

It's been rainy, the view right outside our apartment

Elder Finlinson is sometimes called Elder Goldblum! Lol.

Also! We finally made it over to culvers!! It tasted amazing!!!! Elder Finlinson is in love with it as well. He loves custard, so we've been on the hunt lately.

From Aunt Carrie:  You can take the boy out of Wisconsin, 
but you can't the Wisconsin out of the boy! :)