Thursday, July 27, 2017

Last Message from Willy. The Best Two Years

Ciao belli,
Teaching the English class what a photobomb is

 This was an awesome week. We worked SO hard as usual, sometimes not even having the time to stop and really think about ourselves. I actually like that, because the reality is that we become more spiritually and emotionally solidified when we are constantly looking outward and helping others.

 On Tuesday we spent a whole day with the man who manages all vehicles in Europe! Last Saturday we were eating gelato in Milano and a French family asked us about the church and we were able to hand their info over to the missionaries in Paris. Also, this Sunday was seriously one of the best because we were able to have 2 people come to church that had never come before! We have stated to teach a family of 4 that we found while at a park. So AWESOME!!

Best gelato in the world!

 The hard work never stops and the joy that comes from missionary work never goes away. The reality of it all coming to an end still really hasn't hit me yet. After being so committed to something for 2 years, it's so hard to even imagine what life would be without it. Luckily I know that I will always remember what I learned and what I know to be true in this world. I am so blessed that I have been able to understand the actual importance of a mission. Unfortunately some people see the mission as a chore. What we do out here literally changes people's lives. A mission is a privilege and an experience I'll always be grateful for.

 The people I served with became like family. I loved all the cities I served in. It was pretty rough having to return home, but I will be forever grateful for being able to come back. My testimony has definitely grown, my view on the world has opened SO MUCH, and my relationship with my Savior has become so real.

 I love the phrase "A missionary leaves his family behind for 2 years so that he/she can help other families be together for eternity". It's all true. Thank you for your prayers, love, and support in these years. So much of me will always remain in Northern Italy. These really have been the best 2 years of my life. I love you all.

Saluting a goodbye to one of my favorite families

Anziano Hogan

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Even More Cats and our Wonderful Plan

Hey everybody!
Saying goodbye to our awesome English class
Anziano Kewene-hite

 This week we got a new companion! His name is Anziano Kewene-hite. He was born in California so we were automatically friends hahah. I am training him to take my position for when I leave. This week was seriously so good! We have also been teaching this guy named Maurizio who is such a solid guy from Lodi. He is so committed to learning more and meeting with us. This is definitely a miracle for us considering we don't have much time to go out and find new people.

Office squad
 This week I was able to go to Pavia to do an exchange with Anziano Moody. We taught a lady who has more than 25 CATS! It was definitely a great time and the lady seriously opened up to us, and I think it is because she loves that we really appreciate her cats. They were seriously the fluffiest little things I have ever seen in my entire mission.


 I had my last Zone conference where I was able to share my testimony with everyone. Sharing that testimony really made me reflect in the moment at how much I have grown and how much I have come to learn, thanks to the mission.
Some people in my group all the way from the beginning of my mission
My zone

Last Sunday, Anziano Wilson and I had a pretty insane experience while we were driving home from a lesson. On our drive home we were talking about the Plan of Salvation and how amazing it is that our life consists of a beautiful plan that doesn't end when we die. Immediately after talking about that, traffic suddenly slowed down and we saw paramedics doing CPR on a guy who had died from a car wreck. A few other people were injured and someone else looked dead as well. It was pretty scary but super eye opening and comforting as well to know that those peoples' lives didn't end, they just entered the next step in progressing towards living with our Heavenly Father again one day. I am so happy to know the big picture of this life. Helping people come to know this has literally changed the way they act, feel, and live their lives. Its amazing. I love the mission. It would be so nice if my mission continued on for much longer, life is so simple and fulfilling here. Keep choosing the right!!

Love you all!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Burritos and more Cats!

Hello everyone!
Cat and Lilly!

 Happy belated 4th of July! We celebrated in our district meeting with pasta and watermelon. Later that night, after working all day, we had English class and a pizza party right after with everyone!


 This week was super great. If we reach a moment of not being busy here, something is wrong. I can't think of a life better than helping people daily, eating gelato and food that makes you cry, basically living in a museum, and petting cats all the time. Helping someone change their life is probably the most rewarding thing I have ever been able to do - because someone's life is more valuable than anything in this world.


 On Monday we went back to Bergamo to finish clearing out a missionary apartment. A member from Lodi goes to school up there so we were able to eat lunch with him and his friend who asked us lots of questions. It's awesome that we still find missionary opportunities with an assignment that keeps us from having tons of time to focus on teaching people.

English Class party

We also met up with Maurizio, who is such a solid guy who genuinely wants to learn and change his life for the better.

 This week we had dinner with the Ruiz Diaz family (the family I ate with the night before going home last year). They are such a cool family. We had burritos which brought some tears of joy to my eyes they were so good!

Ruiz Diaz family

 With them, we also had a tender experience. We went in wanting to share a message about patience, but while we were eating, Anziano Wilson and I both felt at the same moment that we needed to share a video about preparing to serve a mission. That's what we did and it was amazing. It really made me think about making sure we align our will with God's. It also made me really reflect at the fact that God knows us so personally, in fact, he knows what we each need in order for us to reach our full potential. I really love you guys. Have a great week!

Soccer squad

 Love, Anziano Hogan

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Cat rescue and teaching new people

July 1, 2017
Ciao belli
Me passing out a Book of Mormon to a guy in piazza Duomo Milano


 I don't think a single bad week has passed by here. Life is seriously great. I am glad to say that I have found the world's best Gelato.

The BEST gelato!

 That is a big statement, considering I've eaten TONS of it. We worked very hard this week! The usual mission operations; fixing problems, fixing cars, preparing orders, releasing a mission newsletter, the list goes on. And we still get out there and meet with people, find, do passbys etc. It's so great. President and Sister Allen came to church this Sunday because we all spoke that day. Pietro from English class came to church and loved it! We had an exchange with other elders on Thursday, so we actually were out all day meeting with people which was so nice.
Last night with the Sicilian family before they leave

On Friday we traveled with the President, his wife, and the Hoopes to clean out a missionary apartment. After a few scratches, tons of lifting, and a nice pizza, we got back and caught up on office things.

The Bogdanovs!

 During my exchange, the missionary I was with asked me "what is one of the biggest lessons you've learned on your mission". It was hard for me to come up with only one, but I told him it was the reality that we have a Heavenly Father who is aware of us. I have always felt, especially in these years, that Heavenly Father doesn't ever abandon us. If we every feel completely alone, it must be because we are abandoning Him. When I put trust in God and His plan, I feel like step by step, my pathway is being illuminated. He really does love us and knows where we stand and where we need to go.

Beautiful Lodi

 This work is true. It's hard work, but so much good comes from it.

The birthday party for our new converts baby's birthday!

 I love you all.

June 24, 2017
Buondì ! ! 
Life is great and busy. Aside from all of the business and craziness, there were some miracles and funny experiences. I had a cat rescue on Thursday. We were in the office when an old lady with cat food rings the door and begs us to rescue her cat from President Allen's yard. We grabbed the key and ran over there, and I grabbed the kitty! I could only hold it for like 3 seconds because the grandma loved it so much she wanted it back immediately. I love this place...
Lodi Countryside
On Wednesday while eating a pasta carbonara, a guy named Maurizio called us and asked to meet with us. That rarely happens so we were super happy! We met with him on Friday and he was an awesome guy and genuinely interested! He said he met the missionaries when he visited Salt Lake many years ago, and he was impressed all these years. We are super excited to see where it goes. 
X Anziano Santoro with his girlfriend who also served in this mission.
This week we met with some people in our ward who have some pretty tough situations. It really makes me grateful for everything I have. Everyone has their own trials and challenges, Some worse than others, but very few people have no problems at all. The gospel of Jesus Christ is laid out in such a way for us to overcome our trials in this life. Countless times I've seen it changed people's lives. I love this scripture in D&C 78:18 which reads "And ye cannot ​​​bear​ all things now; nevertheless, be of good ​​​cheer​, for I will ​​​lead​ you along." We can't get
through everything on our own, that's why we have to have Him will lead us along.
The mission has been the best experience of my life. So many lessons have been learned out here. I love you all. Have a great week! 
Anziano Hogan 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Finding Joy in the Journey and Genova, tranfers and a baptisms

JUNE 17, 2017

Hipster pic with Anz Josh Thompson
Ciao a tutti!! Che settimana!

I woke up Monday morning and told Anziano Wilson that this weeks was going to feel like million years and fly by in 3 seconds at the same time. Im not sure if that makes any sense but that is how the week felt. On Monday we got to drive to Verazze with the other Anziani here to clean out a missionary apartment. For those of you who don't know, any city on the North West coast of italy is my dream, and that is exactly where we went! After cleaning out this beautiful beach house of a missionary apartment, we drove to Genova to get some food before heading home. I don't even know how to describe how it felt being in Verazze and Genova, I was literally screaming because I was so excited haha. I felt like I was kind of related to the people there, knowing that a quarter of me is of that region.

Apartment cleanup crew

 As always, we dealt with all of the transfer shenanigans of the mission throughout this week. The new missionaries arrived to the airport and we gave them big hugs to greet them to the best mission
ever. Right after, we got to take them all to the Duomo of Milano and do some real finding! The next day was full of the usual insanity of transfers. Long story short, Anziano Wilson and Da Ponte had to drive to Vicenza so me and Anziano Brooks were companions for the night at the departing missionary dinner. I got to see 7 missionaries greet their families which is always such a cool thing to watch. The next day we woke up at 4am to drive drop off missionaries at the airport and I was lucky to put my tie on straight because I was so tired.


This is how I fell asleep


 I am so happy to say that aside from all of these office responsibilities, we still have the opportunity to do real missionary work and help people change their lives. Today Jofel was baptized and is now looking forward to be sealed with his wife for eternity. I will never forget in the first week of February when we felt inspired to pass by his house. Jofel's wife was there with their little baby, and
she expressed to us how she wanted to go back to church and have her husband come too. Jofel is now baptized and wants to share everything he has learned with his other family members who aren't members. It is such a blessing to be a missionary. I have honestly received so much more than what I've given. You leave on a mission felling excited, homesick, and a bit out of place and then you reach the end of the mission feeling like what you are doing has more purpose than anything you've ever done before. You almost feel depressed thinking about it all ending. That's how impactful my mission has been.

Jofel's baptism
...I can see the beach in the background!
Ward BBQ

 Love you all.

JUNE 10. 2017

 Thank you for all your prayers and love.

Hey there everyone!

 Italy is getting warmer, actually really hot, and we can't keep ourselves away from the gelato. Most families that feed us nowadays just give us gelato for dessert so we don't have to buy as much. I
keep worrying that I am going to get really chunky but it never happens thank goodness. If you wanted a cat update, I've literally seen like 8 this week! Most of them haven't wanted to come up to me though...


 This week we prepared for the new transfers, which is always fun, and we also got to meet with some pretty awesome people. So many great things are going on in Lodi and I am so happy. Jofel should be getting baptized next weekend! Families keep treating us like their kids.

 There are so many things to be grateful for. It's always such a blessing to be serving with President Allen, his wife, the Hoopes, the other Anziani here. It can so crazy trying to fix problems but I
always love it.

The whole English class!
Duomo with the other Anziani!

So much of my mission I've focused on finding joy in everything I do. I meet SOO many people that are unhappy and it is mostly because of their attitude and outlook of life. We tend to worry so much about the future and it distracts us, even makes us unhappy about the moment we are living in. I listed to a talk by President Monson called "finding joy in the Journey" something I love that he quoted was "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.” We have to be happy with what we have and where we are in life, or else our days won't really be filled with moments worth remembering. President Monson later said "there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today." I hope we can choose to be happy and make the most important day of our lives the one we are living in this moment. I love the mission and for all I've gained from it. I've definitely gained more than what I have given up.
Making calls while Anziano Wilson takes a selfie
My English class

 Love you all.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A week of craziness and an early reunion

Ciao everyone!
Reunion with my dad

I can say this was one of the busiest, yet most amazing weeks of my mission.

For a good part of the week, Anziano Wilson and I were ambulance drivers for a Sister who unfortunately broke her leg. For the next few days we drove her and her Italian dad around for Appointments- I was driving a huge van in the tiny streets of downtown Milano trying not to hit any potholes. Her dad is from Napoli so he insisted on buying us Napoletana Pizza, we didn't complain about that ;)
My brother, Conner and me
Il Duomo with my dad and Conner

During this all, two Elders stayed in our apartment for a couple nights, one was Italian and the other was from the Dominican Republic.  It was fun and crazy at the same time but all was well and we still got our office and missionary work done for the most part.  Despite all the craziness, we were able to meet with some awesome families and people. Jofel is set to being baptized in the next 2 weeks! I felt extra blessed this week because I came across about 10 cats haha. Sadly no pictures were taken with any of them, you will just have to believe me.

At the opera

Two months ago I asked President Allen if he would allow me to see my dad when he comes to Italy in June. He was so understanding and loving and gave me permission. Well on Friday guess who came to the mission 
office! My dad walked in the door and I made Anziano Wilson take a picture as I gave him a big hug. I gave him a tour and then we sat in President Allen's office and talked. It was such a special moment for me to be with my dad in the country we both call our second home. Our blood ancestors are Norther Italian, and since I was a little boy I remember my dad always talking about Northern Italy. I had always dreamed of him seeing me as a missionary in action in Italy but I never knew it would actually happen. I was definitely called to this mission for a reason. Out of the some 415 or more missions in the world, with the apostles and prophet knowing nothing of my Italian background and history, I was called to Northern Italy. I have felt so at home, God is aware of us all and he truly loves us. I am so grateful for my mission, and for all of you. 


Have a great week.