Reassigned Salt Lake City – Letter 5

Dearest Family,

Well, this has been quite an amazing week. I’m eternally grateful that the Lord has led me to be able to be a part of this incredible mission for a short time. I’ve learned so many things while I’ve been here, and I know that this is where the Lord needed me and where I needed to be. I feel like my two transfers here have been a refining fire, and I cannot wait to apply everything I’ve learned and the ways I’ve changed and apply them to missionary work in Argentina. I’m really going to miss it here, and I’m pretty sad to be leaving all the wonderful people I’ve met and taught here in Buena Vista and Layton, but I’m ready and excited for mountains to climb and new people to meet and love.

100_1321This week we had three baptisms, a woman named Lupe and her two daughters, Natalie and Jaylynn. It was quite a crazy day, and since I’ve been on a mission I’ve seen more and more the way Satan tries to stop or mess up our eternal progression, especially as we’re preparing to take important big steps. Elder Firpo and I had called the font filler the week before to let him know about that baptism, but we forgot to call him the day before to remind him. Right after dinner at 6, we went to the chapel to make sure everything was going well and to set up the room so we could be ready to start the baptism at seven, and the font was locked and not filling. Normally the font takes two and a half hours to fill, and we only had an hour to do it and the font filler who had the key to the faucet didn’t show up till six thirty. Elder Firpo and I decided that the baptism was happening no matter what, and we found someone to open the doors and began to start filling it by hand with pitchers, buckets, punch bowls, everything we could find! Incredibly, with the help of our ward mission leader and Lupe’s friend, we were able to have the font completely full by seven and the baptism was perfect. Lupe and her daughters were absolutely glowing as they left the water, and the Spirit was incredibly strong. On Sunday I was able to do my first confirmation, which was also in Spanish. As nervous as I was, I felt the Lord take over and put the words in my mouth, and the Spirit was incredibly strong as I confirmed Natalie as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be here on a mission and be so close to people as they use Christ’s Atonement to it’s full potential and are changed and washed clean by His sacred sacrifice.

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I’m really gonna miss it here in Salt Lake, especially having all the incredible teaching tools there are here like Temple Square and having the unique opportunity of having many many wonderful members of the Church here who help us out in so many ways. At the same time, though, I absolutely cannot WAIT to go to Argentina. I fasted on Sunday to ask the Lord what He wants me to change and do differently as I prepare to have a “fresh start” in a new mission. One of the things I decided to do is leave behind English in the states. From the time I step off the plane in Argentina until I step back onto it, my goal is not to speak or write a single word of English. Get ready to use Google translate, everyone. (; We also had the incredible opportunity this week of having a mission tour by Elder Don R. Clarke of the seventy. He taught us so many incredible things about missionary work. A few that stuck are as follows:

-As missionaries, we should never EVER be late for Sacrament meeting. He said that if he were a bishop, he’d kick us out of his ward if we did that. He said no matter what, we should be fifteen minutes early with our investigators, sitting in the front three rows, and those we teach should be right there with us. We should teach them to have a deeply spiritual experience as they partake of the emblems of Christ’s flesh and blood, and they should understand why the Sacrament is the only ordinance we repeat every week and why Sacrament meeting is the very most important meeting in the whole Church.
-He brought us back to the basics by impressing the importance of the Restoration. It’s easy to get caught up in numbers, techniques, and teaching a lesson plan instead of from the heart. When it comes back to it, though, the message we have is above any other in importance. What we teach REALLY HAPPENED. Everyone we come in contact with should understand that and hear our testimony of the Restoration of Christ’s Church.
-He taught us the difference between a good missionary and a “misionero excepcional”. (he served his mission in Argentina, as a mission president in Bolivia, and he LOVES spanish and speaks it very well). Our goal is not baptism, baptism is just the door. Our goal is deep personal conversion unto the Lord, both for ourselves and those we teach, that they may persevere and receive all the necessary ordinances of the gospel to receive “all that the Father hath” and a place in the Celestial Kingdom. We need to teach all people the importance of prayer, reading, and church and help them to have deeply spiritual experiences with those three things so they can have the foundation of faith necessary to bring about fruit meet for repentance, as it says in the Book of Mormon.
-I need to decide to be a little better, every single day. Repentance and progression aren’t about 180 degree changes, it’s about deciding to change, paso a paso.

Just in time, I had my first really interesting mission food yesterday. We ate with the Nieto family, and they were having a birthday part for one of their cousins. They served us Chivo and Panza tacos. (If you want to know what that is, ask Dad, though you probably don’t.) Chivo is really good, it’s super tender and delicious! Or at least it was till I found a part that was all chewy and had little cartilage spikes on it (it looked way too alive), then my appetite for it kind of plummeted. I tried a panza taco for kicks and giggles, and soon regretted it (It tasted just the way dissections smell… pretty gross. I felt like I was eating something I cut up in AP Bio, formaldehyde and all). Elder Firpo and I nearly threw up after trying the panza together, but at least it was a fun memory!

Well, life’s been amazing here on the mission. I know without a shadow of a doubt that what I’ve been teaching people is true. Every time I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the God is our Father, that Joseph Smith saw them as he prayed, and that they in reality restored the plenitude of the gospel on the earth through Joseph the prophet. I’m sad to be leaving, but I can’t wait to head to Argentina and start a new stretch of my journey there. I love you all so much!

Love,
Elder Hoffman

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