Stories: The Lost Generation of Hoganites
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|I recently stumbled upon this website, trying to find...well, I don't know what I was trying to find. I am amazed that Thailand actually has real churches now. I'm astonished at how many people attend the meetings. I'm awestruck at the Thai leadership, at the number of native missionaries, and at the overall progress of the church there.
Having said that, I am dismayed that there is no mention of the Hogan era. Let me enlighten some of you….
It was the best of times...it was the worst of times. It was a time of trials, yet a time of blessings. We had nearly 200 missionaries in the region. We barely baptized enough people to make up the attrition rate amongst members. Yes, we heard all the stories in the MTC of the olden times, and we were determined—all of us—to create our own legacy. But ours was a different mission.
As that great tent of Zion in 1983 was stretched to shelter the little corner of the world called Siam, we held fast to the rope. With weathered hands, we pulled and stretched, fighting wretched winds and torrential rains to enable our posterity to fasten that rope to a Stake, even the great Stake of Thailand.
Anybody who had endeavored to tame Nakhorn Pathom understands what I mean. We struggled to get 3 people to church, in the ground floor of our humble home. We held street meetings on the temple grounds of the tallest Jedi in the world. We were harassed by the minister of religion. We often traveled for hours to find one investigator in remote regions that had never seen white people. Skankey and I routinely had 15-20 appointments a week in that little town. Most of them never progressed beyond the first discussion. But we kept up the good fight. Some tough groundwork was laid previous to us Hoganites, but we had to migrate that little band of saints we were given into a legitimate organization that resembled a true Stake of Zion.
The missionary culture went through a dramatic taming in that period. The frequent trips to Malaysia by the missionaries before us left a lingering undercurrent of SpringBreak trunkiness in the mission. President Hogan had the task of taming the party attitude. His unique military experience was just the ticket to bring a semblance of order to the Elders. At the start of his reign, Elders wore skinny punk-rock ties, held raucous P-Day Eve parties, traveled to remote region for touring junkets, and had huge gatherings at Pizza Hut in Siam Square.
I don’t mean do discredit the faith of the missionaries of the era. We were arguably the strongest in the Lord’s vineyard. We all had strong, independent personalities, immeasurable talents, and unique testimonies. And we had to be strong-willed to overcome the adversary of the day. Such pervasive personalities often created undue tension in district houses. Satan was determined that Thailand not be settled, and used every tool to thwart the effort.
Remember the legend of DeathCruise 38? “So you’re going to Asoke, and you haven’t got a car, but you haven’t got to worry, cause it isn’t very far…” It’s an indescribable song, to those unfamiliar with it. But, it exemplified the Elders love-hate relationship with the work of the era.
Nonetheless, we were united in effort. We trudged through 3-foot floods in Khlong Toey to teach investigators in mosquito-infested homes. We endured sweltering nights in un-airconditioned homes in Thonburi. We worked out with the Fred Flintstone cement weights in the backyard, amidst curious neighbors, and angry cobras. We held street displays on crowded Bangkok streets, and drowned our sorrows at the NaamPan bars at 9:00 on the way home from a weary day. We shrugged of jeers from the MuuBaans, mocking insults of “Faraang”, all in the effort of securing the Kingdom. We were fortifying Zion, marching behind our fearless leader, President Hogan.
We were not without miracles. Some of my experiences are too sacred to share in a public forum. Let the reader know that great things were accomplished by our little crew of Elders. The sick were healed, and the lame could walk. We taught the members to do home teaching, to prepare lessons, to lead music, and to bear testimony.
I’m certain this sounds strikingly familiar to all Thailand alumni. Few of the Hoganites experiences are unique. But ours was often a thankless job, with few documented results. Many of us left the country with zero notches in our baptismal belt. We were short on leadership, as our seniors Elders went home after 18 months, just as the language was starting to stick. But we left the mission a better place, and are eternally grateful for the experience.
The Hoganites carried the mantle over 25 years ago. We fought the good fight. Without question, we are thankful to those before us who laid the cornerstone, and those after us who fulfilled the vision of creating a Stake in Zion.
Best Regards, Elder Chandler
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