Thursday, April 28, 2016

Still wearing a tag and being a missionary

Ciao Amici!

Ready to go on a visit with the missionaries in Vista

 This week, it made me happy to see my surgery heal more which has allowed me to be a bit more active. I'm very anxious to see the doctor next Monday and see how I am doing so that I can return back to the best mission in the world!
Taking a walk in Elfin Canyon

Wednesday was definitely the highlight of my week as I worked in the mission office and joined the missionaries here in Carlsbad for a lesson. We taught a lady who had a pretty rough background and serious addiction to cigarettes. She told us she has the desire to quit but not the power to. In the end of our discussion about Jesus Christ and power of His Atonement, she asked me to give her a priesthood blessing so that she could be given the strength to overcome her addiction. The things that I blessed her with were so specific and personal for her that we all knew the words I spoke were not from me but from Heavenly Father. After the blessing, she said, for the first time ever, that she would quit smoking and work towards being baptized. That whole experience was pretty amazing and something that will definitely be remembered as a part of my mission. I am so grateful for the power of the priesthood and how real it is and how well it works.

As we were walking back to our car, we ran into a big 360 pound guy who was a less active member of the church. He asked us a trick bible question and before we knew it we agreed to do 10 pushups which was interesting. To make things more embarrassing, he posted it on his snapchat story. After getting to our cars, a random lady drove by and gave us 2 boxes pizza!! (nothing like the good Italian pizza). Some people are so nice. It was a great day! It really made me miss and appreciate how much I love being a missionary. Its definitely interesting getting a taste of two totally different missions where the people may be different, but the gospel is the same.

I have been home now for 4 weeks as a set apart missionary and it has been very interesting experience. It's so great to still have the ability to wear the tag and be a missionary, even while I am home.

 Some very valuable things can be learned through life's most confusing and unpredictable challenges. In all of this, I have tried to take a step back and learn a few things. I'm honestly grateful for everything I have. I know everything will work out and I will end up where I'm supposed be very soon.

I'll continue to keep you all updated!

I found a hungry horse

I found a chubby kitty


Anziano Hogan

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A trip to the San Diego temple and doing work at the Carlsbad Mission office

Ciao Tutti!

Another week of recuperation and doing everything I can to keep myself busy.  This week I definitely felt a bit better as far as recovering from the surgery goes. I saw the doctor on Monday and he decided to have me come back in 2 more weeks. I was planning on being able to go back to Italy sooner but I've got to do what's necessary to get better! Luckily I am able to get up and walk around more which allows me to do more while I am here. This week I was able to go through the San Diego temple for the first time! It was so nice to go into the temple especially since missionaries in Italy don't have the opportunity to go for 2 years. The temple really does have such an indescribable peace and spirit about it. I can't even describe how much better I felt after being inside.

 Last week I had the idea to do some computer work in the mission offices by my mom's house in San Diego. After talking to President Kendrick, of the Carlsbad mission, I got myself some things to do to keep myself busy. Today was my first day working in the mission office and it was a great feeling being able to do missionary work again. Even though I was on the computer making templates all morning, it was fun.

My desk at the mission office with cake.

 I got an email from one of my MTC teachers, Sister Russel, who told me to read a general conference talk called "Come what may, and love it," by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. After reading it I felt so much better about everything. This talk is applicable to everyone in any point in their lives. He talks about how we can endure any hardship by looking for humor, seeking for the eternal perspective, understanding the principle of compensation, and drawing nearer to our Heavenly Father. My favorite quote from this is "If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness." Staying positive and wise through all that we go through will only bring us more blessings. I'm grateful to still be a missionary and see all the blessings that have come my way.


Anziano Hogan

You don't have to live in Italy to make good Italian food!
Some uplifting letters I received from the Vista 3rd ward primary children.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Continuing to recover and hoping to get back out to the field soon

Hello Everyone!

I want to thank everyone for all of the kind letters, prayers, and support I've received in these last two weeks. I have seen countless blessings during this all.

Thanks for the visits! (and letting me hold my favorite kitty)
Thank you so much, Bekah, for the goodies!
 A lot of you probably wonder what I do with all of the time that I have being at home while still being a missionary. I could describe it as a fish being out of water, I sort of feel out of my element. Its definitely hard going from a busy planned out lifestyle to petty much the opposite but I have been able to deal with it pretty well. This has all been a great opportunity for me to explore gospel principles and topics of the gospel that I didn't really have the time to out in the mission field. I have started studying more in depth the history and life of Joseph Smith, along with the pioneers who sacrificed everything to be able to freely live the gospel. I have also been trying my best to communicate with members and investigators in Italy to stay focused and practice the language. Today I was able to Skype one of my favorite families from my first city which was so nice! As I start feeling up to it, I am going to work with the missionaries here and also try to spend as much time as I can at the temple before going back out.

This is how I was feeling after the surgery

 Everyday I see improvements with everything healing the way it should. I was able to see my doctor last Monday and he told me that everything seems to be healing well. For the next few days it is up to me to feel and decide if the surgery fixed the problem I previously had. This Monday will probably be when we decide if I will go back out in 2 weeks or not. Im just hoping and praying that everything will feel great so that I can hop on a plane to Italy in just 2 weeks!

I got a nice, yummy package from the Goodrich twins in Utah

 Thank you everyone again for all of your prayers and support. Ive been able to learn some pretty valuable lessons from this whole experience. Most importantly I've been learning that that Heavenly Father is at the helm and we must learn to trust that he won't lead us down the wrong path. When we can't see whats ahead, we need to remember He can and it requires our faith and trust in Him to make it through our challenges. I love being a missionary and I always will continue to love this work. I continue to hope and pray that I will have the opportunity again to pickup what I began in Italy. I am so grateful and love you all! Have a great week.

I get to practice my piano skills.
Lunch with my mom at Tutor and Spunky's

 Elder Hogan

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Coming Home....General Conference....Surgery

Ciao Family and friends,

I think it would be safe to say that this week was definitely different than all the others I've had so far on the mission. On Wednesday afternoon, some Elders picked me up from Merate and brought me over to the mission offices so that I could be ready to take a plane the next morning. I spent my last night with the office Elders which was really fun. We taught a member family about the importance of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, it was a very special and spiritual lesson, a great way to end my last night there. 

The next morning I hopped on a plane from Milano to start my journey home. All of the traveling went very smoothly and I met some really awesome people on the way. When I got to Amsterdam I bumped into 4 sisters who were finishing their missions in Norway. One of them was Sister House who is cousins with the Kimballs. All of our seats were all next to each other which was fun because I didn't have to travel alone and we were able to talk to people about the church. When we landed in Minneapolis we all went our separate ways and I tried to exchange some of my Euros so that I could buy some yummy looking American food. While I was trying to do that, I met a member from San Diego who ended up buying me a cookie and a mango smoothie and even let me use his phone to call my parents. Some people are just so nice. I hopped onto the plane which took me to Orange County and everything felt pretty unreal, almost like some dream. Right as I sat down on the plane I heard the guy in front of me speaking Italian on the phone and I was saying to myself, what are the chances if this!! haha. So we talked for a while in Italian before we left and after we landed, that was so much fun. I was able to tell him a little about the church and he thought it was super cool to meet an American who knew Italian. 

On the plane with some other sister missionaries coming from Amsterdam.

 I finally landed in Orange Country and met with my family which felt super unreal but it was so great to see them. Most of this weekend was spent home trying my best to continue following the missionary schedule with studying and everything like that- because Im still a missionary!!
Arriving in Orange County Airport

With my brother, Jack
 I was able to watch General Conference which could not have come at a better time in my life. So many of the talks made me feel so positive about everything going on and so many prayers and questions that I had were answered. I loved President Uchtdorf's talk about obedience. He said that obedience is just the process by which we discover what we are truly made of. The more obedient we are, the closer and closer we get to reaching our full potential as mortals. I especially loved what our amazing Prophet, Thomas S. Monson said about the importance of choices. He taught that it is much better to choose the harder right than the easier wrong. I loved that so much because It is so simple yet something we don't really think about too often.

General Conference half time in Carlsbad, CA with Jack and Slater.

On Monday I was able to have my surgery at Mission Hospital which went really well. These last couple days have been spent recovering and resting a lot. I should be fully recovered and ready to return to Italy in just a couple weeks! I will find out more after my post operation appointment this upcoming Monday
Right before surgery at Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, CA

This last week has been pretty tough and challenging with having to come home from the mission that I love so much. I definitely thought I would be one of those invincible missionaries that would never have any problems, but I had to learn and accept that unplanned things just happen to us. When challenges are thrown at us its important that we always stay positive and try our best to learn and grow from it. Sometimes we just don't know why certain things happen to us, but one thing we should know for sure is that when we follow Heavenly Fathers plan, everything thrown at us will be conquerable and easier to overcome. 

I'll definitely try my best to keep everyone updated on when I will be heading back to Italia!

Love you all, thank you for all of your prayers and support.

-Anziano Hogan