Friday, March 29, 2013

Letter from President Kenneth T Hall

Sis. Hall, Hermana Dodge, and Pres. Kenneth T Hall
25 March, 2013
Cassi's 1st day in California
Hermana Dodge's first letter home from the 'field'.
Hermana Tavoian, Hermana Dodge's Trainer
and 2nd Companion.
They are headed to Palmdale, CA.
Ready to serve!
Hermana Dodge

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Message from President and Sister Hall

Hello from Sunny Southern California!
Well, technically it was a bit hazy today, but it is always sunny for us when new missionaries arrive!
Everyone arrived safe and sound, and as you can see from the picture, we had a large group—24 new missionaries and 12 of those are sisters.  It may be the record  number of sisters arriving in the history of the mission.
President Hall, the assistants and some of our senior couples met them at the airport and took them to the San Fernando Stake Center. 
There they had some pizza, filled out some paperwork, watched a safety video and then we sent them out with a great temporary companion to find people to teach.
They did a great job.  I’m sure you’ll get the details from your missionary, but we love that first day of finding and talking with everyone.  Miracles and baptisms happen because of the efforts of the new missionaries who’ve been here only hours.
Tomorrow is the transfer meeting.  Everyone in the mission who is being moved to a new area will be together to receive their assignments.  Over half of the mission will meet tomorrow and it is a great way to feel a part of this great mission.  President Hall has just finished interviewing all the new missionaries and will spend considerable time tonight on his knees determining which missionary will go with which trainer.  As you pray for your missionary, pray for their companion as well. 
We are super excited to love and work with all these wonderful servants of the Lord.
Sister Hall
The new Missionaries in the CA San Fernando Mission
25 March, 2013
With President and Sister Hall

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My last P-day in the Mission Training Center

Hi! Happy belated Birthday to you Momma! How are you?

This week has been NUTS! Like...whoa! I feel like I say that very week, lol, but I leave the MTC for California on Monday! WHATTTT!?! It's super weird. You know how I am, it won't hit me until my first lesson out en campo (the field).

Miracles DO happen, and I got to witness one personally this week.

Elder Dohner had surgery on Tuesday! As we all remember, he got an MRI of his knee, and some sort of scan too, anyway, he got one and it showed that he had a Bucket-handle tear in his meniscus. So he went in for surgery. Well, we prayed. And we prayed HARD. Every single prayer I have said since he was hurt has involved him. There was fasting, and MORE prayer, there was temple prayer rolls. WE PRAYED! And we got a miracle. :) When he went in for surgery Tuesday...his meniscus was FINE. He had some tissue around his knee-cap that needed to be removed, so they did that, but he will be just fine in 1-2 weeks. That means, depending how he re-cooperates, he will only have to stay behind for 1 week, and he doesn't have to go HOME! Can you believe that Mom? It's so awesome.
Celebrating the good news with Elder Dohner.
So, do you remember Pablo? The one who I said finally got the light back in his eyes a few lessons ago? Well, there is more:
Before, he had mentioned how he has tried to change his life, but he always falls back into his old ways. He has tried, and tried to change but he can't seem to stick to it for long. We talked about change and what that really means. About how we can't ever truly change without the help of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. (For the record...I just wrote that in Spanish and had to go back and translate it. Que pasa, Spanish skills?!?) I said, (in Spanish), Pablo, I think you've never tried to change through Jesus Christ, and with the help of The Lord, have you? He kind of chuckled and said, no. I said, that is the difference. We read some scriptures about trusting in the arm of the Lord, instead of the arm of the flesh, and about how we can't do things on our own.
In our lesson, where he got the light back in his eyes, we talked about the first quarter of Alma 32, and about how the people who had been cast out of their synogagues because they were poor and didn't have nice clothes, etc. The people asked Alma what they should do, and Alma rejoiced because they were humble. Then we brought up questions about why bad things happen, and why life is so hard sometimes. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and one of the reasons why we're here is to gain experience, and to learn and grow. We asked Pablo why he thought Alma was so happy that the people were humble and he said, "Because they were easier to teach and they were ready to learn and hear him." I about fell outta my chair! You could see him thinking, and those wheels turning in his head. Things were connecting, and the Spirit was testifying to him! Then we read Alma 32: 13, 16, and 21 which says:
13- And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentence; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.
16- Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
21- And now as I said concerning faith-- faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
It all came together. We talked to him about how nothing is too big for the Lord, and that Heavenly Father loves him. We were then out of time so we committed him to read the rest of the 32nd chapter of Alma in The Book of Mormon, which breaks down what faith is. And the he prayed for us, and we left.
Which brings me to our next lesson:
The next time we met, he was happy, he still had that light in his eyes. He told us he had not 'slipped' up at all this week, We talked to him about what he'd read in Alma Chapter 32, and asked him what he liked, we answered his questions, and then talked about repentance. We talked about what it really means to actually repent, and how repentance helps us all to change our lives. Heavenly Father WANTS us to live with Him again. Heavenly Father WANTS to forgive us. Pablo was concerned that his sins were to big, and we reassured him that as he gives his whole heart to the Lord, as he gives up his addictions, and bad habits, The Lord will sustain him. Then, when he gets baptized he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost who will help him as he continues on and resists temptation. The I asked him:
"Sequira elejemplo de Jesuchristo al ser bautizada por algun que posea la autridad del sacerdocio de Dios?"
And Pablo looked at me and smiled and said, "Si." He was so happy! I tried not to let my jaw drop too much. I almost forgot to set a date for his baptism. LOL
That day, when we were leaving class, Hermano Usecitch says (in Spanish), "Hermana Dodge, do you remember the lesson you had with Pablo where you shared Alma chapter 32 and asked him about Alma and the people who were cast out of their synogagues?" and I said, "Si." ...and he said, "That is the lesson that changed Pablo. It couldn't have been better, even if I'd have plucked it straight out of Preach My Gospel. Way to go! That really helped him." I about bawled! I rmember my email after that lesson when I told you we saw Pablo smile for the first time. It was comforting and humbling. Who am I to be an instrument of the Lord? Me, a little girl from Highland Village, Texas. I KNOW, that the Lord does NOT call the qualified, he qualifies who He calls.
There are so many things coming together in my life, it is crazy. I HAD to come on a Mission.
Oh super important thing: I saw Elder Thomas Duty!!!!
Today I saw Elder Thomas Duty! Elder Duty is from Ryan's Mission in Tulsa, OK. Ryan baptized Thomas! They are good buds! Anyway, there I am, in the hallway talking to some of the otra Hermanas in my zone, and this line of people (I think it was a district) comes walking down the hallway, so we kinda move to one side and keep talking. Then I hear this unfamiliar voice say, "Hermana Dodge!!", so I turn around and it's some random Elder beaming at me from ear to ear as he sticks his hand out to shake my hand! I said, "Hi....." and then (while still shaking my hand) he turns and shows me his badge that says, "Elder Duty", and then it clicked! That was THE Thomas Duty in the flesh! The picture of him on FaceBook, and his FB friend request rushed back to my mind! I MET Thomas Duty at the MTC. He is going to Argentina on HIS Mission. I about died. It was wonderful. I shook his hand more excitedly then! Hahaha. We took a picture, and I told him to say hi to me WHENEVER he sees me, and then he had to run off to do some online language study. How COOL IS THAT!?!? Whoa, tender mercy...and SMALL WORLD!
Elder Duty & Hermana Dodge
Provo Utah MTC March 2013
I LOVE the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father has a Plan of Happiness in place for His children. I am thankful to be a part of the WORK. I am happy here. I love you all so much!
Hermana Dodge
Me and Hermana Hall studying. It was EARLY!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

P-Day 15 March, 2013

Hi Everyone!

Guess what?!? I saw Elder Anthony Fernelius Wednesday right when he got dropped off! His Mom actually drove back around to say Hi to me. It was so tender! I told her to give you a great big hug, and she said she's going to come over to the house so you two can talk about your Missionaries. :) It was so cute, and so nice. I told Anthony I would try to find him during lunch or something. He was grinning from ear to ear. I think it's just the Spirit of this place that makes everyone want to smile all the time. :) Including me.
Elder Anthony Fernelius and Hermana Dodge.
Elder Fernelius is headed to Japan.

Let me introduce you to my District. They are all so awesome!

Back- Elder Barkdull, Elder Williams, Elder King
Elder Dohner, Elder Pahulu, ElderBennett
Front- Hermana Hall, H Barnes, H Clifton,
H Warren, H Dodge, and Hermana Hardy.
Look at the beautiful weather we have been experiencing. It's been so nice to walk outside in a simple sweater and not bundle up like we live in Alaska. :) I'm SO going to enjoy California.
Me and my wonderful companion Hermana Hall
Notice: Elder Olivas right ear in this photo as he tries to BOMB.
Our District loves to opportunity to attend the temple
early in the morning on P-day. Me & Hermana Hall.
H Barnes, Me, H Hall and H Warren on P-day
heading to the Temple to serve.
I'm going to have to talk to Elder Olivas about
photo bombing my pictures today.
Elder Wilson, Elder Pahulu, And Hermana Dodge
These guys are GREAT missionaries.
Show this picture to Daddy. I got his favorite drink
with my lunch. It made me think of you Dad. Love you!
Thank you for keeping me up on the family news. I absolutely LOVE what Todd and Sarah named their baby. (William Tate Z)
I am so happy to know that you talk to Erika, Mom. So JEALOUS! Hahah! I love knowing what she's doing and about Garrett's homecoming. I'm so glad she got to go home.
The work here is nothing less than miraculous. Let's just start with yesterday. Oh my gosh, it was amazing. In the morning we taught Edith, our investigator who has had a very tough life. Her husband doesn't have a job, she works a ton, she feels like she cannot help Pablo, her son, because he speaks English, and all of his friends do so she cannot help him with his homework sometimes when he needs her, etc. She also doesn't feel like Heavenly Father listens to her, and questions weather The Book of Mormon is true. We had an AMAZING lesson on faith. She prayed and we left with smiles on our faces, even her. :)
Our teachers are actually our investigators. It's so inspirational to watch them do this so efficiently, and effectively. This works because they pick an investigator, (or in some cases themselves before their own conversion and baptism) and they sort of channel them through prayer, preparation, and meditation, basically. Then we teach them. Hermana Banfield is our teacher in the morning, and Hermano Usevitch is in the evening. We teach every day, but we teach each investigator every OTHER day, does that make sense? And since we taught Edith (Hermana Banfield) yesterday morning we thought we were done for the day. All of a sudden Hermano Usevitch came in and asked the class if we were ready to teach Pablo (the name of his investigator), and the people who had taught Edith were like, 'No, it wasn't on our schedule! We aren't prepared. Can't we do it tomorrow?' Etc (Remember, there are '6' companionships in our District/class, so 3 teach every day) and so of course, I said, "Hey- I'll do whatever the Lord wants me to do, and so whatever you want me to do. Heck yeah, I'm ready to teach Pablo!" (Insert small stink-eye glare from the companion, and the two other companionships who had to teach too). Hahaha! Our teacher was so excited and said, "Well, ALRIGHT!"  I said, "We're on an errand of the Lord, we are here to share the Gospel, so that's what I'm going to do!" Why wouldn't I jump at the chance to fulfill my purpose, at every opportunity?
Okay- we had like 15 minutes to prepare, and we just prayed together before we started prepping, and before we walked in, and the Spirit TOTALLY led the lesson. Pablo has lived a dark life. He just moved to Utah to live with his brothers and Mom after living in California for quite some time, where he got involved with some pretty shady things. He doesn't understand why bad things happen to us in this life, and questions if God really loves us. He asked why all this bad happens around us. We shared with him in The Book of Mormon, Alma 32 vs 6-8, "6) And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word. 7) Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent, and said unto them: 8) I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye." We then as him why he thought the people who were poor and lowly were the first people, Alma, a Profeta at the time, wanted to teach? He answered, because they were ready to learn. They needed it the most! And we said, "Exactly!" Then he read from verse 13 and 16, "13) And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved. 16) Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before he will believe." It felt so wonderful to teach him HOW he could come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, then...enduring to the end. He really liked that. I testified that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Then we had him read a paragraph out of one of our pamphlets and asked him how he could apply it in his life, then how he felt about it. IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TIMES WE'VE EVER SEEN HIM HAPPY! He even said that it was wonderful, and quite beautiful, and made him so happy. I told him that the best part is that it really is available to EVERYONE. It doesn't matter what you've done, or how much money you have (or don't have), you can partake in this happiness too. He committed to reading the rest of Alma 32 (which is all about faith, and is an awesome chapter), and he had such a sweet light in his eyes. He prayed to close our meeting, and he was excited to have us back to talk more about the peace and happiness that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. :)
The Spirit guided our lesson. It felt absolutely amazing. I looked him in the eyes and promised him blessings. That is the most amazing feeling in the world. Communicating Spirit to Spirit is the best way to go, and the ONLY way to go.
Oh Mom! I forgot to tell you...Elder Bohner got hurt really badly and has to go home Tuesday for surgery. I am so sad about it. We don't know what's going to happen other than that but we are all broken hearted about it. Please ask everyone to pray for Elder Bohner. He's one of my best Pals here.
I love y'all. The Spirit is amazing. I have to go...I'm already out of time. I LOVE you! me! :)
Hermana Dodge

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another fun MTC Surprise.

I got this picture text from Kristi this morning. This is a picture of Kristi's former companion when she served her mission in the North Carolina, Raleigh Mission, Emily Thurston. She is one of Kristi's best friends in the world. Emily not only attends BYU Provo, but now teaches at the MTC. She actually teaches on how to teach. ;) She went into a building Cassi was in and voile...they ran into each other. :)

Emily Thurston & Hermana Dodge

So exciting to see familiar faces when you are so far from home.

Momma D

Friday, March 8, 2013

MTC Life

Hey Mama!

This week has been a roller coaster ride. I'm not even going to play with ya. This mission is the hardest thing I've ever done, but the greatest. For realsies.

Luckily we had some amazing devotionals/firesides. The Provo Temple President came and THREW DOWN! He talked about some seriously sacred topics. I hope your picking up what I'm throwing down. I was seriously the coolest thing. Everyone was so reverent, and the Spirit was there and he spoke very openly, but respectfully about the temple and how important it is to the children of God, but also us as missionaries. It was so cool. There are SERIOUS reasons why missionaries go through the temple before they go on their missions. I always knew there were deeper reasons than I understood, and there are even more, but he shared some. This is stuff you'll just have to read later from my journal because I don't really want to email about them. :)


After devotionals on Sundays, they offer us like 4 different movies and/or talks for us to watch, so our District chose to watch 'Characteristics of Christ' by- David A Bednar. It was from when he came to speak at the MTC on Christmas. I don't know if you'll be able to find the transcript, or tape to it (because MTC devotionals are special, and not for the masses), but if you can, try to find it, okay? I learned so much about Christ. SO MUCH! My whole life changed because of that one talk, Mom. My whole life. How I live my life will never be the same. He talked about how if you study your scriptures every single day, you will NEVER fall away from the church, and it made me think of my patriarchal blessing, because it gives me some warnings that I have just been pondering in my heart and THAT WAS MY ANSWER. Read your scriptures and you'll be okay. :) Then, he also talked about how Christ even when He was in the depths of pain, He always looked outward. I want to do that. I'm trying to do that. I'm not perfect, don't get me wrong, but I'm going to try so hard to be more Christ-like. Which leads me to my next point.

Elder Bednar said that if you take a normal blue copy of the Book of Mormon and have a question in your heart, or that is troubling you...ask the question and then read it cover to cover underlining things you find throughout it that give answers to your question, then when you are done write in pencil a short paragraph about your question, and the answers that came through your study, and your testimony in the front the time we get to be his age I'll have HUNDREDS of copies, and I'll not only have a testimony of the restored Gospel, but I'll begin to be REALLY converted to the Gospel. It's amazing. He promised that through desire, and diligence I will have an increased understanding of the true character of Christ, and every available spiritual blessing. It was absolutely amazing.

I've also learned on my mission (like Elder J Jarnagin- thanks Mom for forwarding me his letters) that I am hard on myself. I need to work on that. I need to work on loving myself. My Branch President mentioned some things to me (Ether 12:27 to be specific) and I know I need to work on accepting myself as a mortal human being and just do my best. It was really insightful. Our Branch President out here is a man of God. He is incredible. :)

So yes...this week has been rough. I got my feelings hurt and it was really hard for me. I felt very lonely for a couple of days. But don't worry, I'm great now. I just miss you Mom and how you'd always hold me, even though I'm grown, and your hugs in the mornings. That always made me feel better. Here though...I felt alone. But then...I had an amazing spiritual experience in...THE SHOWER! Not kidding, one of THE most tender experiences:

The showers here have terrific acoustics. All the showers are in one big room, but are separated by walls, and curtains. The Sisters love to sing in there. So one night, late, I was taking a shower and I could hear that there weren't many showers running because it was kinda all quiet in there, and I started to sing 'A Child's Prayer'. You know the one that goes;

Heavenly Father are you really there?
And do you hear and answer every child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.

Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
"Suffer the children to come to me."
Father, in prayer I'm coming now to thee.

---I was feeling so alone and I just wanted to know that Heavenly Father loved me. I'm tearing up now as I am writing this, just FYI, anyways...I sang the first verse, and then the second verse...and then ya know how on the third verse it's a duet and two people sing the two verses at the same time? Well, some random Sister somewhere in the room started singing the other part while I sang the top part:

She sang this while I sang the other two verse simultaneously.

Pray: He is there;
Speak, He is listening.
You are His child;
His love now surrounds you.

He hears your prayer;
He loves His children.
Of such is the kingdom,
The kingdom, of heaven.

---And I just started to cry. I mean, I started to choke up WHILE SINGING in the shower because I knew Heavenly Father could hear me singing. I knew He was there and could hear my prayers, and could also feel my pain and loneliness. I knew at that moment that I wasn't really alone, and that simple Primary Hymn was a prayer to the Lord (D & C 25:12). It was just a moment of peace and confirmation that Heavenly Father is always there for me. Always.

Okay- one last thing because I have about 2 minutes left. We had an amazing talk from Marcos A Aidukaitus. He basically broke down the three kingdoms and told us that we can choose which one we will go to. I had never thought of it like that. I can choose which Kingdom of Glory I inherit. So, he said we need to choose today which one we want to go to, because once we choose which Kingdom we want to inherit, ALL other decisions in the world are simpler. So, I picked the Celestial Kingdom. He said he wanted us to go home and write in HUGE letters in our journal so it can easily be found when flipping through the pages. He said write it down in HUGE letters in your journal so that your posterity knows that you CHOSE where you are going and that you know where it is you want to go, and they can follow you there. So I picked two blank pages side-by-side in my journal and wrote in HUGE block letters, "I CHOOSE CELESTIAL!"

I love it here. I love everything I am learning. THIS is where I am supposed to be!

Now a bit of quick business: I'm sorry I have been spending money at the BYU Bookstore. I've been buying things like a laundry bag, better pens, some highlighters, a black undershirt, etc. And like 3 of the Elders in my District (like, my favorite ones) got real sick, and so I bought them some powerade, sprite, and pepto bismol, and stuff, and an anti diarrheal  med for Elder B. Bless his heart. They were SOOOO grateful.

I love it here, Mom and Dad. I love these people. I love this language. Our whole District has been improving drastically with our Spanish. Mom, I'm getting pretty good at it. I'm awful at grammar, but I can teach well! :)

Sister Moore found me. I was in line at the cafeteria and she came up and put her arm around my shoulder, and I was like...."WAIT A MINUTE!" hahah but then I turned around and was SUPER happy to see her. Obvi.

I love my WHOLE family. I don't want any empty chairs. I love this gospel. Jesus Christ died for my sins, and for the whole world. All we have to do is have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. So simple, yet so amazing. I love you.

~Hermana Dodge~

PS- Ask Grandpa if he could get me some cream colored Toms instead...size 8 and 1/2 would be great! I also need more stamps please, and little no-show socks. :) Thank you!

A little silliness too. Hah!
Hermana Barnes, Me, and Hermana Clifton
I ran into Elder Christensen who is a friend of Erika.
Yeah! This is for you Erika! :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Yes, that is exactly what the text said that I got today..."Surprise!"

Our great neighbors across the street just entered the MTC in Provo last week. They are senior couple Elder & Sister Moore, and they are headed to Ghana, Africa. The Moore's are neat people and Jered has been their home-teacher for quite some time. Brother Moore and Jered are buds. Jered even used to take their dog Abbey on walks all the time before Abbey went to live with their son. Their youngest son, his wife, and their baby daughter are living in the house while Moore's serve their Mission. Tiffany is pregnant with their 2nd child, a boy. Her shower is coming up, and I've been playing... and having some fun in my sewing room.

I wrote to Cassi at the MTC last week and asked her if she'd seen the Moore's at all. But got no reply. I figured with as many people as there are in the MTC right now they might be there but may not see much of each other since they are in different Zones. But then today I got this as a text on my phone:

Sister Pam Moore with Hermana Dodge
05 March, 2013
How fun to be able to see friends from Texas. What a great thing to share...seeing someone from your very own Ward family. :) Thanks Brooks! (I assume he is the one behind the camera phone.) I know they are a LOT less strict with the Senior Missionaries regarding these things. And today...I'm thankful!
Momma D
PS- Here is a glimpse of the baby quilt I am making for Tiffany's baby. I'll show a finished product when I get the quilting finished and the binding on.

The fabric line is called, 'Meadow Friends'
by- Moda. It has frogs, flies, lizards, etc.
Great for a Texas baby right?