Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sotten av Mai/Norways day of freedom!

Dearest Weasley Family and Friends,
     I feel like its been forever since I wrote since I didn't have a Pday last week. Lots has happened! Well not really lots, but lots to write home about! Yesterday we had moves call. Unfortunately nothing changed in our district, and we ended up actually losing a whole companionship because Halden got closed down. We were hoping for some new Elders (like Gusty, Ashton, Rusty, or some of our other friends) to come in, but to no avail. I guess we will just keep pioneering it! Elder Gusty did get moved to the zone next to mine so I will get to see him next month at our combined zone conference. So that will be good! And Sister McAruther and I will be staying together until the end of July. I think after that we will be going our separate ways. We will see though! We both don't want this are to be our last area, so it will be exciting to see if we do leave where we will go. I'm already dropping hints to President to send me North or West. I only have 3 transfers left, which is CRAZY!! 
        Elder Leighton, the elder I have spent over 1/3 of my mission with, just went home today. It was super weird to watch him die. We talked about it all the time, but when I called him this morning to talk to him for one last time it just seemed so odd. In my head he is just leaving for another part of Norway, but then I'm like wait... he's going back to England. It was really funny, yesterday he talked to an Elder in Bergen and the Elder said "I heard a rumor that you are coming back to Norway to marry Sister Hodgkiss!" Elder Leighton was so uncomfortable telling me this story and it took FOREVER for him to just say. Finally he did and I looked at him and said "That doesn't even make sense. Why would we get married here, our families are in America and England." I about died watching his face turn different shades of pink and red. It was too funny! 
       So I hope that you all saw the pictures from Søtten av Mai. We went to Oslo to celebrate Norway's day of freedom. It was a HUGE event. I didn't even know that that many Norwegians existed. They like came out from under the rocks and then once it was over they just went right back under them. It was crazy! And it was HOT. I don't think that I have ever sweat that much in my entire life. Okay that was definitely an exaggeration, but I have forgotten what heat feels like. And YUCK! Norway is HUMID down here in the South. I need Prez to send me up North like last summer so that I can not want to just lay on the floor all the time. 
          Anyways, we left our house around 7 am and headed into Olso. We met up with the other missionaries and then took a train into Oslo. There, I met up with Celine. She is the best! I love her! She is from Stavanger, but lives in Sandefjord because she goes to pilot school. We were way close while I was there and then when I got emergency transferred it was kinda hard for her. Its a hard branch to be in if you are young. There really isn't anyone her age. Anywho, we talk a lot and I told her that she should come into Oslo for Søtten av Mai and then we could hang out. So we met up and spent the whole day together. It was great!! We watched the parade of kids (that went on for like 4 hours) and we waved to the Royal Family, and we combated the crowds of people to just go and buy a drink. It was a blast! 
             All the Norwegians dress up in their Bunads. It is so cool! You know in Hunger Games how they all have different outfits depending on where they are from? Well it is like that here too. There are different kinds of Bunads for each area, and they are all gorgeous. The Elders have this thing where they want to take pictures with pretty girls in Bunads. They have a contest actually. I heard them talking about how they wanted to break the record and get the most girls in Bunads in one picture. I was thinking how funny it would be if a Sister ended up doing it and how mad they would all be. So when I saw a group of 9 girls with Bunads I thought to myself, why not, and mustered up my courage and told them I had an American challenge that I wanted their help with. So I used my contacting skills and I just started rounding up all these girls from all over to take a picture with me. I counted to make sure that I had enough to break the record and went to take the picture when who shows up??? JONES!! And he JUMPS in my picture with me! Okay okay, the kid is my hero so I'm glad to have a pic with him, but not while I am breaking a record here! But it was super funny because he wanted it so bad, so I let him slide. I then spent the rest of the day bragging to all the elders. I got many text messages congratulating me. Then I told the sisters about it and we decided that we wanted to one up it even further and ended up taking a picture with 28 girls in one picture. It was super fun and super American, but sometimes you need that! 
            Afterwards we headed to Presidents house for a BBQ. That was a lot of fun! We had 45 missionaries all together and we just got to hang out, eat, and play games. Sister Hilton was there who I adore so I got to catch up with her. She goes home in 8 weeks!! But she is going to BYU and I think we might live together once I get back. She is the best! Most of us are going to BYU so its pretty much just going to be the mission all over again once we get back...well plus dating drama and the whole real life part. President and Sister Evans wanted us to stay as long as possible, so we all didn't start leaving until 730. Most of us didn't get home until 10 or 11. It was so much fun, but really I don't think I could do it again. I was so exhausted and it was so perfect, that I am so glad we don't have another one because nothing could top it. It has been my favorite celebration in Norway. So fun! 
             In other news Sister McArthur and I have started a 30 Days of Service challenge. It has been going great! Usually you don't get very many opportunities for service in Norway, but since we told them its a challenge we have set for ourselves they have been great about coming up with ideas for us! The first week was great! We did a Spa day with 3 little girls, helped out with a YW's activity, cleaned the church's kitchen, washed a car, did yard work, and delivered cookies. We already have people signed up for this week which is great! I love doing service! And its been fun to get to know so many people better while helping them out. I will keep you guys updated with pictures! 
            How are things going with y'all? How is Lori doing? She is due so soon! I talked to President and it looks like we are all scheduled to depart on October 16th. But I will get a more for sure date. I hope that all finds you well! Love you guys!!


Merkurveien 19
1734 Hafslundsøy 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Budnads, childrens parade, and 30 days of service!T

Train ride into Oslo

Celine came in from Sardefjord to see me!

BARNETOG or child's parade. Look how far it goes back!

The tradition goes like this...Norwegians dress up in their budnads. Americans ask if they can take pictures with them. Repeat

This guys budnad is from North Norway, the Smies. They are like Norwegian Indians. they have reindeer herds!

Record broken for most Norwegians in Budnads with the missionaries!

Record REALLY broken!

Doing weekly planning outside!!! Love summer!

30 days of service: Day 1-Spa day with the Langbach girls!

Selfies with Nielson! I love this kid! We served in Trondheim together. He is off to Bergen!

Day three--Cleaning the church after the Elders cooked!

Day four-Washing Ann-Catrin's car.

I ate whale? I felt like I was breaking so many laws...sorry Gavin

Day five-Yard work with Familien Strard

Lil Clarissa (yes that is really her name). she is 10 and lives next door to us.

Our last picture with Elder Leighton!! He goes home TODAY!! One of my heroes on the mish!

Day six of 30 days of service-Secret Santa cookie deliveries.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Long Drives and Worldly Music W/O the Lyrics‏

Dear Weasley Family and Friends,
       Confession: As long there aren't words to that song, I play it... #1000years #coldplay #instrumentalhappiness 
    Another week has come and gone! On the mission the days are long and the weeks are short. Time has a weird way out here. It was great to Skype with Mom and Corb and Kate and to see Lins and Heather for a bit! I wish I could have just called you all and blabbed about the last 13 months, but soon enough we will get that! Everyone looks skinny which inspires me and depresses me at that same time. Can you guys send me a package and put some of that motivation in there? It would be greatly appreciated! 
      This last week we had ZLT (Zone Leader Training) in Oslo. Its always fun to leave your area for a day and go see other missionaries. As a missionary, other missionary time is precious! A lot of my friends are in the West and North Zones, but it was good to see Elder Shanklin (served with him in Trondheim and then again in Oslo), Sister Johnson, and some others. This month the theme is urgency. These days I feel old. When we came into the mission, 60% of our mission was 6 months or younger. There was a lot of fire and energy in everything. Everyone seemed to be wanting to learn. Now, a year later, we have lost a little bit of that fire. We are an older mission now, and that eagerness is kind of lacking. I kinda feel like the saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"  is about me these days. I don't want it to be though! I want to be back in my young stage where I didn't know anything and every meeting and practice I had with other missionaries I just wanted to soak everything up like a sponge. I want to get back to that! Where is my humility?!?! Anyways, I sat down at this meeting trying to be open minded but really just thinking how I would rather be standing on my head than being at this meeting, when it started. Okay, I will admit that it started out a little rocky. I guess I'm tired of hearing all the same answers and the same discussions. (Side note: this is a place you don't want to be as a missionary) But  then we had a twist! They gave us 45 minutes to bare our testimonies about why we came on missions. It was so cool!! So many missionaries got up and told their stories. Wow, there are so many amazing missionaries here. I don't mean amazing in the way that we all think about amazing, as in a pro kontakter or banker, or a missionary with a lot of baptisms, but just missionaries that have a strong character. One Elder who is in my distrikt here was inactive his whole life. His family just was one of those families that disappeared off the map. His seminary teacher came and knocked on his door and invited him to seminary. He figured that it was about time that he found out what the Mormons were supposed to believe, so he started going, and over time he decided that he wanted to be active and that he wanted to go on a mission. I just thought it was the coolest story. He is so quiet and shy and I was just impressed by his story. And with the Seminary teacher. It is amazing the impact we can have on each other. This Elder's whole life was changed by one simple invitation. So cool! 
        Here's a quote I liked from ZLT: "Every day is a battle, but every night is a victory when you know you have done all you could do." 
        And of course a funny quote. I leaned over to Sister McAruther in the middle of ZLT and said to her "He has huge ears...." and Sister McAruther turned to me and said "Those are cage fighting ears!" This sweet Elder used to be a cage fighter before the mish. Sister McAruther later said "Those ears are just asking to be hit!" I died. I might be crying a lot these days, but I laugh all the time too.  The moments are sweeter when you are in the middle of a storm. 
       The summer is coming which means that the sun is up all the time! I remember when I got to the land last year it drove me crazy! I couldn't get used to it being bright at 10 pm. This year it is sometimes weird when I think about it, but most of the time I just pass out from exhaustion. Summer really is beautiful here! I wish I was going home in the summer so that Mom and Dad could come then, but I guess we will just have to come back. I still don't really know what we are going to do when you guys come. But I'm thinking! 
      Lori and Brent... you're going to be parents soon!! I'm pumped! 
    What else, what else... Oh we are teaching this 14 year old girl. She is cute! Her mom is a JW (Jehovah Witness), but she wants her daughter to believe in God, so she is fine with us coming over. Its cool because the members that we live right by have 2 daughters and one of the daughters knows this investigator. So that's pretty cool! We can take her on teaches with us and that will help so much. I love getting members involved! 
     Another investigator we had, is named Øystein. We met with him the other day and I didn't know him so I asked him about his experience with the missionaries. He told me that he wasn't so set or worried about finding out if this church was right or not, he was just wanted to make sure he was being a good person. We taught the lesson and I was thinking about how I was going to drop him as soon as the lesson was over (meaning we wouldn't meet with him again) and so I said a silent prayer. I said "Heavenly Father, I am going to drop him unless you give me a reason not to." And no sooner had I finished then Øystein said "I prayed and the image of your baptismal font came into my head. It was weird." I was like "Yep. We're keeping him." He totally knows that its true. He was an atheist but over the last 6 months of meeting with the missionaries he now knows that God is real. He just doesn't want to give up all the small things. So basically he's going to be baptized one day, but we just don't know when. Way cool guy though! And even if he doesn't get baptized or if we don't get the chance to meet with him again, it was a cool experience of a prayer being answered. 
   Let's take a break... 

      Funny Quotes From the Week!
  Sister McAruther I were talking about a person she isn't to thrilled about: "I'm sure he has great qualities of help..."
    Elder Shanklin: "I respect your opinion! Night before my proposal I'll say "Hodgkiss what do you think?" Send a few facebook pictures. Your opinion matters! It goes the Lord, you, my mom."
    Sister McAruther: "Shouldn't you be your favorite self on your mission?" 

        Today we are headed to a fort in Halden. It's about an hour away and we are going to take stuff to grill out. That should be really fun! This week is our BIGGEST holiday!! It's Søtten av Mai! Which just means the seventeenth of May. It's Norway's independence day!!! And seriously it is the craziest thing! Everything shuts down and everyone celebrates. There is a huge parade in the cities and lots of fun activities. Because we live close-ish to Oslo, all of the missionaries in the Tellemark and East zone (about 45 missionaries) are going to Oslo for the day and then to President and Sister Evans house for a BBQ. Oslo is like the place to be in Norway for Søtten av Mai. I guess its just HUGE there. That will be on Saturday, but the only sad thing is that it counts as a Pday, so next Monday I won't be able to email ;( I think I might die with a week of no pday, but Sister McArthur and I will pull through. I'm excited for Saturday though! I will take TONS of videos and TONS of pictures and send lots our next pday. 
         You guys are great. Did you know that? I love you guys way too much. It was really good to be able to talk to you all (and mentally talk to the rest of you) and I CAN'T wait to be with guys again. Well, I can wait, but it is going to be AWESOME once we are all back together! Really guys, 5 months!! Holy cow!! 
         I'm going to go ahead and send you guys some pictures now! I love you all! 
Keep it real. Keep it classy. And may the odds be ever in your favor. 


Shout Outs!

To the Victoria's Secret Model- HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL!!! This is a reminder so that your husband doesn't have to be reminded the night before (love you Corb!). I hope that you do something way fun, like talk in an accent all day or wear a weird hat at the store. I love you! Thank you for all the emails and talks! I printed them all out!! Have a GREAT BIRTHDAY!! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fjords, and rolling hills!

One of our scenic drives we take if the pressure gets to be too much

. Is this a HUGE thing of hair that I pulled out of our vacuum? Yes, yes it is. So gross!

Cute little boat area by us!

Our fridg. from the 1800's that I had to fix. Thanks for the advice AP's

This is a beautiful fjord near us!

Happy Mother's Day! We actually dressed up for it!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sarpsborg Rehab Center for Lost Souls and Sister Hodgkiss‏

Dear Wesley Family and Friends,
   Basically, this is what happened... I spent like an hour writing you guys this email about everything here in Sarpsborg and then it got deleted. Yeah... not happy. And now this one will have to be short and sweet because we are headed out to do some things before our Pday is over. I'm really sorry! I will have to do a more detailed email next week. But here is the jist of it all-
    ONE, I love Sarpsborg!!! I feel like there should have been a sign that said "Welcome to rehab, Sister Hodgkiss!" as I was driving in. Its the perfect place for me right now. Its so pretty! There is a lot of farm land and rolling green hills. Its big enough that you can get what you need, but small enough that it still has that cabin small town feel. There are so many 1/2 poly 1/2 Norsk families in the ward. And their kids LOVE the missionaries. We live right next door to the Olsen family. They have 3 kids and are one of the poly/norsk families. We do nightly scripture reading with them. Its great having so many families and being around kids again. It makes me feel like a normal person again! I just love kids. Yesterday all the little girls (poly families got together for a birthday party) were jumping on the tramp and we went and jumped with them for about 10 minutes. I love it! 
      B, Sister McArthur is awesome! I wasn't sure how things would be after serving a year apart, but we fit right back into our companionship that we had in the MTC. It's just perfect and easy. We have a lot of fun together, and she gets everything that I'm going through. She has felt a lot of the same things. Its nice to be working through things with someone instead of just having your companion watch you go through things. It really has been like therapy. 
      THREE, emotionally I am doing much better. Things are still hard and I still have a lot of things that I need to work through, but I feel like I actually can start to figure things out. A lot of my anxity is gone, and I don't cry every day like I used to. Things are getting a lot better. I bore my testimony in church yesterday and that was cool. The Norwegian is coming easier than it has for the last few weeks. I can actually think and focus, and I am actually feeling peace again. Its funny how you can lose parts of your testimony so fast. Faith has a short self life. That's why we have to go through the gospel on a daily and weekly basis. Sister McArthur said something to me today that I loved. We were talking about our missions and how we all had the wrong idea about why we came. We thought it was for other people, but we didn't realize that really our missions are for us. She said "You're not here to change the world, you're here to change your world." I love that. Its so true! 
        D, I will send pictures next week, I promise! I forgot my cord at home so I can't this week, but this is a cute place. Mom and Dad you will love it. It's my 7th area, but it goes on my 2 favorite place. The first being Trondheim of course! I still don't want to be here for 6 months, but I am starting to think that I will die here (Missionary term for last area). But I don't see Sister McArthur and I getting split up anytime soon. So I am settling in for 3 months with her! Its going to be great. Hope that you are all doing well. I'll write a better email next week! 
Keep it real. Keep it classy. And may the odds be ever in your favor! 


Shout Outs!

Tommye-Lynn: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I can't believe how big and pretty you are getting! You are so pretty!! I love seeing all your pictures and hearing about how well you are doing in soccer! I am proud of you! Keep reading your scriptures and helping your parents with you little brother and sister okay? I'm going to teach you Norwegian when I get back, so be ready! I love you!! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY again! 

Darrin- Happy Birthday buddy! I'm proud of you killing it in school! Pretty soon you are going to be done and working! Guess, you will have a lot to teach me :) You are awesome!! Take that pretty wife of yours out and do something fun! Love you!! 

Beth Goodall- I don't know if you read these, but CONGRATS on graduation. I'm not sure quite when it is, but I wanted to tell you that I got your letters and picture today!! Holy cow, does time go fast!! Can't wait to hear about all our adventures! Love you girl!! 

P.S. Count down to Lori and Brent's baby.... #hopeitscute #ofcourseitwillbe #ifnotillletyouknow