Analia Hoole was raised in Argentina, went to college in the US, and married a man from the Netherlands. Moving between three continents has helped the Hoole family realize that the gospel can make a difference to families anywhere in the world. (Haz clic aquí para leer la entrevista original en español.)
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born?
I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina. My parents learned about the gospel as single adults. At 17, I moved to New Albany, Ohio. I lived there for two years and then went to BYU-Idaho.
My grandparents on my mom’s side are from Belgium. Although they died when I was still little, my family traveled to Belgium in 2005 to obtain Belgian passports. We were looking for a place to rent during my stay in Belgium. My brother said that he knew Jurgen, someone from the Netherlands who he had served his mission with.
So he called him, and Jurgen told him that he didn’t know of anywhere to rent in Belgium, but since we were relatively close, he invited us to attend the YSA (Young Single Adult) camp. We went to the Netherlands for the camp and became friends. At that time, I was studying at BYU-Idaho. When we later decided to get married, I moved to the Netherlands. Together we have five children who were all born in the Netherlands. We have two girls ages 12 and 11 and three boys ages 9, 5, and 1.
What has been the reaction of your neighbors and friends in different countries to the size of your family? I know that in many parts of the world it is no longer common to have more than one or two children.
Whenever I say that I have five children, people are very surprised. In Argentina, they often asked if I had them all with the same husband. I have always expressed my love for children and my desire since I was a child to have a big family. I think it’s important for every couple to decide what is right for them.
If there is a prominent theme in my life, it is moving according to the will of the Lord. I have lived in different cities and countries, and I feel that every time I moved the Lord was leading us and trying to teach something different. I lived 17 years in Argentina, 4 in the USA (2 in Ohio and 2 in Idaho), 11 years in the Netherlands (3 in The Hague, 2 in Enkhuizen, 6 in Lelystad), 2 years in Argentina (1 in Mar del Plata and 1 in Buenos Aires), 1 year in the Netherlands again, half-year in Buenos Aires, and now we’re back in the Netherlands.
What have you learned in all these moves in your life?
We have learned so much! Because of these trips, I have grown personally and we’ve grown as a family. I have learned to rely on and trust in the Lord and ask for His guidance. All these moves are not coincidences – every time, we have checked with God and asked for guidance to where we needed to be at that time. Every time, it’s been the answer to many prayers and consulting with the Lord. The experiences we had while moving has helped us to increase our faith, and have led us to understand what we personally and as a family can contribute to the world. We have learned how to function more effectively as a family, and how to improve our personal and family relationships with our Heavenly Father.
As someone married to a man from the Netherlands, and with five children born in that beautiful country, I’ve learned to appreciate some things about how they raise children in that culture. In the Netherlands, children go to bed between 7 and 8 p.m. Sleeping too little brings about behavior problems and health problems. Children who sleep well have healthier immune systems and perform better academically, are better behaved, and have better mental health. Children in the Netherlands eat healthier than in other countries, and they read a lot. Children go to the library with their parents and read together. And the Dutch love to be outside. They go out and do everything, even if it rains, sleets, or snows! I realized that things that I thought were “normal” are different in other countries. It’s very normal to go where you have to go on a bike instead of the car. The Dutch love riding bikes, walking, and just being outside in general.
One of the things I really noticed about the culture of Argentina after having returned as a mother is how important families are in Argentina. Of course, family is also important to the Dutch people but, for example, in Argentina if something isn’t going well with a family member, they bring them into their house to take care of them. They set aside some of their other responsibilities and demands to care for that family member. Family is taken care of, and they protect each other within the family. They don’t find a nurse to come to the house or send that person to a home where they will care for them. In Argentina, I realized that families leave a lot of other interests aside to take each other in and take care of each other.
Even though no country is perfect, I am grateful for the things that I have learned from the Dutch and from my country that have helped me to organize my life and my family. This might be why our family focus has been strengthening families in the world. We have been guided to meet certain people who are key in the development of these projects, such as Alejandra, with whom I decided to start Refugios Fuertes.
Can you tell me a little more about how you met Alejandra and how Refugios Fuertes began?
In 2019, my family and I lived in Buenos Aires. My husband and I went to the temple once a week and we met Ezequiel, Alejandra’s husband, and he mentioned that he had a wife and children and we all decided to meet together. Ale and I became friends immediately.
One of the first times we met, Ale told me that she would like to start a blog for women. In 2020, I returned to the Netherlands with my family, but still talked to Alejandra. Once I asked her if she had started the blog and she told me that she hadn’t yet. At that moment we thought, why don’t we do it together?
We started blogs and podcasts because we saw that there are many resources on the internet in English, but very few in Spanish, and nothing like what we are creating. We created it because of the need we had for ourselves.
Ale made a beautiful 2021 planner to share on the site and in about three months more than 7,000 people downloaded it. For me, that was the moment that I realized that Refugios Fuertes was more than a hobby and that our Heavenly Father guided us to meet and start this project together. With these social networks, we want women to help and support each other. Each of them has experiences and knowledge that can help someone else. All of us together can help so much more than if only Ale and I were the ones sharing resources and experiences!
How have you combined your talents to form this fellowship?
Ale is very good at design, creativity, writing, and the podcast. I have a lot of experience with online marketing, and I know how to make the website easy and attractive to navigate and how to make it reach a lot of people, like having subscribers and that kind of thing. At first, I was not excited to write, but Ale encouraged me and I have written some blog posts and I will be writing more in the future.
I think we are the perfect example of coming together to achieve things that we could never have dreamed of if we tried to do it alone. We want the content to serve not only members of our church but all Christian women and women with good values.
You write a lot about mental health, family organization, and psychology. How did you come to have such an interest in how our minds and our interpersonal relationships work?
Since I was a girl, psychology interested me, especially human behavior. At that time, I didn’t understand what it was that interested me, but, for example, I remember being in the supermarket waiting to be checked out and watching people and wondering, “Why are people the way they are? Why does one person act one way and another person another?” It’s something that just fascinates me. I haven’t studied it formally (I would love to in the future) but I have read and looked up a lot of information about psychology and human behavior. I think it helps me to better understand myself and also to help my children and others. The more we understand why we do what we do, the more we can change and choose how we act instead of reacting and allowing things to happen to us.
One of the issues that seems most important to me personally is to take a moment to align myself with God every day. It is a very difficult subject for mothers who feel that they do not have time for themselves, because they have children, have to work, etc. For many years, I felt stressed and exhausted from everything I felt I had to do and accomplish. We have seen that many women feel insecure or alone in their roles. Many of the questions or insecurities they have are the same that we and other women have.
That is the part that we focus on. What tools, knowledge, and help do we personally need as women to become our best version? We need to start with ourselves. That is a lesson that I personally learned from bad experiences. When I got married, I started my marriage giving everything mentally. My thought was that if I gave it my all, there would be no other option than to have a successful marriage. Many years and children later, I realized that I was exhausted, I realized that I couldn’t give more of myself because I didn’t have more to give, because I hadn’t taken care of myself.
We definitely want to help women become better leaders, because we cannot consistently help others effectively or harmlessly in our lives if our personal foundation is not firm. One of the things I have seen in common across different neighborhoods and countries is the light that comes from people who constantly and actively apply the gospel to their lives and build a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father AND Jesus Christ. But one of the things I have also seen in common in the world is that there are only a few families and people supporting each ward and branch. There are only a few who rotate in the heavier callings.
I think that because of the weight that these people carry, they often get stressed and their personal experience in the Church is not what it could be. I have seen leaders who stopped attending church out of exhaustion. We need that personal foundation to then act in any other role that we have in our lives. To help others, be a light in the world, and even discover what our mission and purpose is in this life so that we can begin to carry it out. All of this while always looking toward our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and aligning ourselves with Him. Elder Uchtdorf addressed this topic in his October 2021 general conference address, “The Daily Restoration.”
Looking at my children as their mother, I understand much better the love that my Heavenly Father has for me. I also understand better His help, patience, and understanding when I make mistakes. When my baby falls when trying to walk, I don’t think, “How silly, why did he fall?” I know that it’s a part of the preparation and experience that helps him to start to walk. I am sure that our Heavenly Father sees us in the same way, with perfect understanding and love when we make mistakes.
Can you also tell me a little about how you found the LDS Women Project, and why you wanted to get involved?
Ale was the one who found The LDS Women Project site. She searched the internet for LDS women and read everything she could find on the subject. She loved it from the first moment and shared it with me.
I love the project. How beautiful it is to be able to show the example of other women, to see that we are all important, different, and at the same time equal. I know that everyone has a purpose in this life, no matter where we are from or where we live. I am inspired by reading other women’s stories, and it helps me think about my personal purpose and further builds my faith and confidence to act.
But the greatest inspiration for growth and change in my life has been Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. They have always been at my side accompanying me. In every stage of my life, even though I didn’t realize at the time, They were there guiding me constantly. They are my source of faith and hope in my personal future and in all areas of my life. I know that They love me and I love Them as well. Because of this, if you are having difficulty, pray. Tell our Heavenly Father about your difficulties and ask Him to help you. He will give you the strength necessary to grow and change to become more like Him.
The LDSWP began a collaboration with Refugios Fuertes in June 2021 to translate interviews into Spanish.
LDSWP/RF collaboration announcement.
At A Glance
Name: Analia Hoole-Ungaro
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina / Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
Marital History: Married
Children: 5 children. 12, 11, 9, 4, and 1
Occupation: Online marketing tech specialist
Convert to the Church: Born in the Church
Schools Attended: BYU Idaho
Languages Spoken At Home: Dutch, Spanish, English
Favorite Hymn: How Firm a Foundation
Website or Social Media You Would Like Featured:: https://www.refugiosfuertes.com/recursos?fbclid=IwAR2UXetEpRA7YFxqOUl6ZstgJw38Cby43gzLrKsb-ZNx9FtkTokgceNmc10
Interview Produced and Translated by: Jenny Willmore