Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WEEK 80- Leaving HOME again

Well wow. What another amazing week it's been. So busy with 2
exchanges with some wonderful Sisters. We saw some amazing miracles.
It's incredible how the Lord always moves His work forward. And what a
blessing that He lets us be a part of it.

My thoughts this week have really kinda mimicked the weather here in
Wyoming. One second it's warm and sunny and 2 seconds later it's 10
degrees outside and there's ice and snow everywhere. That's a little
how my mind and heart are feeling right now. But among all the
thoughts and feelings flying around, my mind has been reflecting a bit
on the past 18 or so months. It's really kinda impossible to compile
all the thoughts feelings, experiences, trials, growth and progression
of a year and a half into one short email. But one thing that has been
on my mind a lot is something Sister Jacoby and I talked about on the
way home from exchanges in Worland this last week. As we pulled off
the highway exit back into Sheridan I just felt a sense of peace,
safety and belonging. I commented to Sister Jacoby as I do every time
we get back into our area "Home sweet home! Feels good". She laughed a
little and we got talking about places that we call home. I realized
that each time we pulled back into Helena for meetings after I served
there, I would say the same thing. And when we would go back to Great
Falls or Missoula on exchanges the same thing would come to my
thoughts. Home sweet home. It's truly amazing how places, smells,
people and sights do become home. At the beginning of my mission,
Matthew sent me a poem he wrote called "My Second Home". When I read
it the first time I had only been out a few weeks, maybe a month. I
kinda though "oh that's really nice! Sounds like he really loved his
mission". Haha but then he resent it again a week or two ago. And let
me tell you, things CHANGE. Reading it now, it perfectly describes how
one feels about a place you call home. It's not necessarily the place
you live the longest but it's so much more about the people you meet,
the experiences you have, the growth that comes about and the love you
feel and give.

I was thinking about this a lot so I found a definition of "home" that
I really liked. It said "Home-a place where something flourishes...or
where it originates". I love the last part of that where it says
"where it originates" I feel like the reason all of the Montana
Billings Mission feels like home is because so much of my testimony
and who I am today originated here during this time to serve the Lord.
Growing up I was so blessed with an amazing family, friends, teachers
and loved ones who I know helped me start my testimony and get on my
own two feet. I am forever grateful for a loving Mommy, Daddy, brother
and sister who set the example. I know I can follow your examples
because you follow the Savior's example. I also know that coming on a
mission, I have been able to take the things I learn from family,
friends and teachers and learn how to apply them and learn how to
learn more. I believe that's truly the process that we seek for, is
learning how to learn and learning how to progress. And oftentimes
it's in these places we call home that we learn and progress the most.

Great Falls was the perfect place to kick start this journey. I
learned what it means to work hard and to love others. I learned how
to put faith and works together and to notice the hand of the Lord in
all things. I learned how to bike through hail storms and run fast
when dogs (and people) chase you. And I learned how to pray, seek
answers and recognize the Spirit. There are incredible people there
that changed my life and changed the way I see others and myself. The
people I met there and companions I served with have changed me and
will be friends for forever. Great Falls truly was my first home away
from home on my mission.

Next came the beautiful Capitol, Helena. Here I learned that bear
spray really really hurts. Haha but it was much more than that. I
learned so much about fear and how to work through the things that
scare me. I learned what sources to turn to when things get hard. I
learned that many of those sources are amazing family members,
companions and friends that the Lord has placed in our lives. I gained
more of a testimony of the priesthood and the power that it has in our
lives. I truly love the people here, the experiences the Lord allowed
us to have and the home that it became for me.

Missoula really kinda became the home of my refiners fire. I learned
how to fall and how to get back up. I learned how to stand up for
things I know to be true. I learned how to be okay having an opinion
and sharing it. I definitely learned that the smell of marijuana is
completely associated with missionary work in my mind and I learned
what to do when someone pulls a gun on my companion and I. Situations
and experiences taught me how to deal with heartache. I learned how to
lean on companions and stand for what's right. I met amazing people
who became family and shared experiences that will tie us together
always. I gained and strengthened my testimony of the atonement of
Jesus Christ. I learned that people can change and become stronger for
it. I learned that our Savior is always there for each of us.

Then comes the lovely Sheridan Wyoming home. I found out that parts of
Wyoming are actually really beautiful! And Sheridan is one of them. I
learned that praying with faith really does bring miracles. I learned
that it's 100% okay to wear wranglers to church and if you want to fit
in, you need to drive a pick up. I met some of the most genuine, kind,
faithful people. I learned that change is okay. In fact it's good for
us. I learned that the Lord is mindful of EACH of His children. And
that He does care about the little things.

The wonderful thing is although I feel like I've been trying to learn
so much these past 18 months, I know that it's just the beginning. I
am so SO far from the person I'm trying to become. I couldn't be more
grateful to the Lord for the time that He has given me to serve Him
and His children. It's been one of the greatest blessings in my life.
Coming on a mission has been the best decision I have made thus far.
As wonderful as it has been, I've also come to know that missions are
not necessarily easy. In fact they're kinda tough sometimes .
Haha but the truth is I have never been happier in my life. Because no
matter how hard it gets, how exhausted we feel, how lonely it gets or
how hurtful people's words and actions are, I have come to know my
Savior. And that is so completely worth every second of doubt and

I know that Jesus Christ lives and He is there for each of us, no
matter when and no matter what. And I love being able to testify of
that to each person we come in contact with. I love being a
missionary. I am grateful for the trust that Heavenly Father has
placed in each of us, full time missionary or not, to help push His
work forward. I know that the church is true. I have no doubt in my
mind that it is.   I know that  the priesthood power was restored. It is through
 that power that my family, and every
family, can be sealed together forever. And that is one of the
greatest blessings and greatest comforts one could receive. I know
that our Heavenly Father answers prayers. He has answered mine
countless times. I have gained such a strong testimony of the Book of
Mormon. It is the word of God. Its another testament of our Savior,
Jesus Christ, and it helps us see who Christ truly is and it brings us
closer to Him. I have felt the power of Christ's atonement work in my
life. He helps me find peace through repentance, He strengthens me
when I don't think I can take one more step, He comforts me when I
don't think anyone can, and He lifts me when I don't know how I got so
low. Jesus Christ is my Brother, my Savior and my best friend. It is
through living His gospel that each of us can recognize that
relationship for ourselves. I testify that these things are true and I
testify that our Savior loves each of us. In the name of Jesus Christ

I love you so much!! Thank you for your examples and love. See you soon.

Sister Hodgson

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