Monday, March 28, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Rwanda Bound!"

Dear Family and Friends,

    It's crazy how within one week, how many things can change when you're on a mission. I went to bed last Monday night thinking I'd probably spend another transfer here in Lugazi and finish Tesch's training. However, when I woke up Tuesday morning with 5 missed calls from the AP's, I figured something was up. Elder Ruell notified me I needed to be in Kampala the next morning before 10 so I could go get a police report done. When that happens, it means two things-either you're going to Ethiopia, or you're going to Rwanda. I spent the rest of the day with the thought I was leaving the country, in the back of my mind and I felt mixed emotions all day.
Taking in every last bit of Uganda
    On Wednesday, when I went in for the report, and I found out I'd be spending the next few months of my mission in Rwanda. I am so excited for this next chapter of my mission.  I am excited for the experiences I will have that will contribute to my growth even more. I feel sad to be leaving Lugazi which has become another home to me and the people who have added to my Ugandan family. I'm also going to miss the people in my district during the time I've served in Lugazi- Elder Ray, Elder Ward, Elder Tesch, and Elder Dowdle included. They've become some of my very best friends but, I know as we continue to do what we're supposed too in our new areas, we'll receive many blessings. I will miss Uganda but I know I'll be back soon and I'll build many more relationships with the people in Kigali, Rwanda.  Kigali is the capital and largest city in Rwanda.  Rwanda is very close to becoming a first world country.  It is by far the nicest area in the Mission.  It will be a 45 minute plane ride to Rwanda.  I heard nothing but good thing about it, I will be one of 8 Missionaries in Rwanda!  
Elder Ray, Ward and Tesch

    This week, aside from that curveball (yes, I still love baseball) we had some really neat experiences with a few investigators. We have been teaching a guy named Edward for about 3 weeks now and he has come to church twice in a row. Last week, he was complaining of some stomach issues he's been having and we decided to give him a Priesthood blessing. We followed up with him a few days later and he was feeling tons better. Elder Tesch will begin working on the full family when I leave but, the foundation being built with Edward is becoming very strong. We also had a good experience with Priesthood blessings with Rema. She was supposed to be baptized yesterday but, was unable to come to church because of an emergency with her sister in the hospital. We visited her Wednesday evening and we found her in bad shape with sickness. She was worried she wouldn't be okay for her interview so she asked for a blessing as well. She ended up being okay for the interview. Miracles don't build faith but, it's always neat to see when faith produces blessings in people's lives.

    This week we began teaching a man named Khasada that we found while tracting. When we went and greeted him while he was sitting in a lawn chair outside his home, he just looked at us and looked puzzled. A few seconds after us talking to him and him not really responding, his brother came outside and he told us about how he was in an accident when he was working with the police force up north in Gulu. Apparently, a mortar shell exploded near him and messed up his ear drum so, he is unable to hear very well but, can read lips and can speak clearly. So after we found that out, he pulled out a notebook and he made us write to him and he would answer the questions we were asking. After we got to know him, we gave him a short version of the Restoration and gave him a pamphlet and bore testimony on it. We went back 2 days later and he gave us a list of about 20 questions about the church, it's origins, us, etc. We took a picture of them and answered them that night and gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and bore testimony on it as well in writing. When we came back the next morning, he told us about all the people he had been talking about the pamphlets with and how he was answering their questions. He also asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon and we gave it to him. These lessons were some of the coolest lessons I've been able to teach. I am thankful that the Spirit doesn't necessarily have to be heard but, it can be felt by everyone no matter what difficulty you have in life. I took a few pictures of the notebook from our lessons and here they are if you want to see them. We meet with him again tomorrow.

    This week was a difficult week for food and water. Hahaha, we didn't have water in the apartment for days so, we utilized our outdoor shower and used buckets filled by our backup water supply, pooped in holes, and all kinds of fun stuff (sorry tmi).  Also, with it being the end of the month, we were a bit low on our budget for food so here's Elder Ray and I enjoying a humble meal of posho and beans.

    Last night I began saying good-bye to some people in the branch. Here's me with Sharifah, the family of Dennis, Bruno, Gertrude, Everline, and Sharon, and the family of Winnie, Sheila, and Margaret. 

    My P-Day today we went to Jinja and went sight seeing at the Nile River!

I'm grateful for my mission thus far and for all the things I've learned. I love this gospel and I love being one of the Lord's missionaries. 

I love you all!
Elder Hazen

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekly Update~"Happy Easter!"

Dear Family and Friends,

    First of all, I'd like to say Happy Easter. This Easter season is one of my favorite times of the whole year because we get the opportunity to reflect on the greatest acts of love in the history of all the Earth. I express my gratitude each week for the Savior's atoning sacrifice but I'm especially grateful this week. I was reading conference talks from April 2015 and I came across these words from President Uchtdorf that I really enjoyed about the suffering in Gethsemane and the resurrection and I shared them with Winnie, our recent convert last night. I thought I'd include it at the end of this email as well. I bear my brief testimony that I know the Atonement was suffered for each and every one of us personally and that as we use the enabling power of it in our lives on a daily basis we all can live with our Heavenly Father again. I'm also grateful for the doctrine that families can be together forever. I am always quick to bare testimony of that to my investigators and let them know how much I love my own family back at home and that through covenants made with God, they don't ever have to separated from them.

    This week, our friends from Help International went home and we had one last dinner appointment and one last friendship photo shoot so enjoy these in all their high quality glory.

    Thursday, we had a zone-wide...yes, zone-wide exchange. Elder Tesch and Ray traveled to Mukono early in the morning where everyone met up and then went their separate ways. Ray proceeded onto Seeta with Elder Bemis, Tesch stayed in Mukono with Elder Dlamini, and I spent the day with Elder Robinson in Lugazi. I always enjoy working with Elder Robinson because I learn so much from him. We made sure to spend an hour of the day finding new investigators which proved to be successful because we set return appointments with 2 new families. Later in the day, we visited a guy named Edward, Elder Tesch and I found while contacting a few days previous and taught him the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a neat experience being able to teach with Elder Robinson because I haven't taught with someone older than me on mission since my second transfer. The spirit was definitely present in the lesson and when Elder Tesch and I followed up with him on Saturday, we got to give him a priesthood blessing because he was feeling sick and he was at church the next day! I'm thankful for the opportunities I have to learn from my leaders!

    We also contacted a guy named James this week. He was sitting outside his home and is the next door neighbor to a former investigator.  As we were walking by I told Elder Tesch, "We'll contact him someday". As we passed, the Spirit basically kicked me in the butt and we turned back and taught him the first lesson. He really enjoyed it and we followed up with him last night and taught him about the Book of Mormon and we set a baptism date in April. 

    Yesterday, Elder Tesch and I were contacting after church and we met another Father of a family named Julius. We taught him the Restoration as well and after we finished and extended commitments to read and pray.  He expressed to us how he and his family had been praying for a change that will bless them.  We basically let him know that if he put serious effort into praying and asking if the message we taught him is true, this Gospel could be the change he has been seeking.

    This week, I also had a first on my mission. When teaching one of our investigators, Charles, we were sharing about the Book of Mormon and he began to bash with us a little bit. The Spirit was leaving so I bore testimony and began to leave and he told us to take the Book of Mormon with us that we left with him two lessons ago. It reminded me that not everyone is going to accept our message and everyone has their own agency. I couldn't help but feel sad for him. However, because I now the blessings the Gospel could've brought to their young family and I wanted them to experience it more than anything.  These experiences I've had has shown me that the principle "Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept" is applicable to all things. As a new missionary, I never dreamed that I would be training another new missionary and extending baptism dates to people I found on my own efforts through the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As I've learned new skills and my testimony has grown, I know the Lord is giving me more responsibility as I continue to progress on my mission. 

I love you guys so much. 
Elder Hazen

"The Gift Of Grace"
On Easter Sunday we celebrate the most long-awaited and glorious event in the history of the world.
It is the day that changed everything.
On that day, my life changed.
Your life changed.
The destiny of all God’s children changed.
On that blessed day, the Savior of mankind, who had taken upon Himself the chains of sin and death that held us captive, burst those chains and set us free.
Because of the sacrifice of our beloved Redeemer, death has no sting, the grave has no victory, Satan has no lasting power, and we are “begotten … again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Truly, the Apostle Paul was correct when he said we can “comfort one another with these words.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

Weekly Update~"Mission Fasts, Splits and BIrthdays!"

How Many Missionaries Can You Fit In A Truck? Apparently 11
Dear Family and Friends,
This week Elder Tesch and I worked very hard and were able to teach
the most lessons in a week since we've been together as a
companionship. We are still working to find these families that can
progress together towards baptism to establish the foundation of the
young branch in Lugazi. We have a few potentials, it's just a matter
of setting that baptism date with them which we usually do in the
first lesson, but due to small complications, these people are unable
to commit to a date right away. We have that situation with three
couples right now so we're just trying to push through that! Dennis,
Bruno, and Gertrude, the siblings of Everline, are still taking
discussions but we've had to push their baptism dates back due to them
missing church this week. I have no doubts they will eventually be
baptized because we had a great discussion with them last night and
they understand everything and know everything is true.
On Tuesday, we had our mission fast which was a great experience. Like
I said last week, prayer and fasting are truly tools of power. I had
the opportunity to go on an exchange with Elder Ward and Tanner Call.
I was grateful for the things I was able to learn from Elder Ward and
the tips I picked up to improve my teaching skills. It was also a cool
experience to ask Tanner for his testimony in the lessons we taught
and it was fun to help him get excited for his mission.
Tanner Call with the Elders
On Wednesday, we took David to Jinja again to see if we could have
better luck in meeting with the eye doctor. Fortunately, we were able
to see him but, we were disappointed in the results we received.
David's blindness is due to optical nerve atrophy which basically
means his nerves in the back of his eyes are dead and there is no
medicine or surgery to fix it. When we got out of the office, David
asked me, "So what am I supposed to do now?" It absolutely broke my
heart. I told him that this trial is NOT a punishment from God. I told him how much God and our Savior love him. And how they are there to support him and his family and the
missionaries and the members of the branch are there to help too. I
encouraged him to pray and find peace with his situation. The times
we've visited him after he's been doing okay. I know that as he
continues to pray and gain a testimony, he will eventually come to
terms with the situation and I know he will continue to have the faith
to come to church and share the gospel with his family. I love him
and his family very much and I will be there for him as long as I am
here in Lugazi. 

Wednesday night, we celebrated my birthday with our
friends from Help International. Thanks to my wonderful mother, we
even had a cake and candles to celebrate. Also, thanks to everyone who
contributed to that video my family sent me. It made my week:)
RJ's Birthday Package From Home

This week, I was studying a lot on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like
I've said in the past, It is so simple yet so complex. I was focusing
mostly on the Atonement and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I was studying
in Alma 34 and really enjoyed verses 15-17. It basically tells us that
the mercy of Jesus Christ can apply to us only when we exercise our
faith unto repentance. If we expect ourselves to be saved only through
grace without doing our part and keeping God's commandments, then we
will be exposed to the demands of the law of justice. The sacrifice of
Jesus Christ is wonderful, and like I always say, I'm so grateful for
it. Also, I'm thankful for the Holy Ghost and the role it plays in my
life especially as a missionary. I know that as I keep doing what I'm
supposed too, follow the whisperings of the Spirit and let it guide me
where to go, what to do, and what to say, I can overcome my weaknesses
and feelings of inadequacy. We are truly nothing without God.

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, March 7, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Prayer and Fasting…Tools of Power"

Elder RJ and Timothy an Investigator's Son

New Tradition- Tuesday Pie Night!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week Elder Tesch and I had another very effective week. Last Wednesday, we had one of the best Zone Development Meetings of my mission. The focus of the meeting was building companionship unity and utilizing prayer and fasting for our benefit. Elder Robinson gave us a great training on how to improve our prayers. He told us that missionary work is easy as we pray with faith and trust in Christ to help us in the work. He told us how we need to improve on meeting the standards of excellence each week by finding seven new investigators. As we pray every morning with that goal in mind, and pray specifically that we will find at least one new investigator, or better yet, a new family, we will have no problem in accomplishing that goal. He promised that praying with real intent really does work and shared a few experiences from his time serving in Ethiopia to back it up. Every day since then, Elder Tesch and I have applied this counsel and we have found so much success in doing so. My testimony has grown not only in praying with faith, but also in fasting. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to fast for the first Sunday of the month. Elder Tesch and I obviously had our goals in mind as we opened our fast and we decided to go on splits with Emmanuel and Steven, two of our RC's. Emma and I went up to teach one of the referrals we received from Francis and followed up with her. We extended a baptism date with her last time and she accepted and found that she prayed and feels everything we had taught her was true. She also introduced us to her husband, Tom who we taught as well and he accepted the message we shared with him. After, Emma and I went to Esther, who was a referral from Andrew. She went to church for the first time yesterday so I spent some time answering some questions she had from the classes in church and taught her the Plan of Salvation which turned out really well. Elder Tesch went and contacted 3 of our street contacts, taught all of them, and set return appointments. 2 of those individuals were a husband and wife. As of now, we are currently teaching 5 families consisting of husbands wives and kids and 3 of them are progressing. The fast we had definitely played a role in the success we had yesterday and I always talk about it, but it is so neat to be able to see the Lord's hand work right before my eyes.
We were able to have a few other cool and fun experiences this week as well
  • On Friday, Elder Tesch, Andrew, and I took David to the Nile Hospital in Jinja. It was a long day full of travel and we didn't end up seeing the doctor because a bus full of 11 patients pulled into the hospital to see the eye doctor right before we got there. However, It was a wonderful experience for me because I was able to give back to a man who I love dearly and who has done so much for us and who deserves nothing but the best. Being able to walk with him holding my hand around town reminded me of when I was able to walk with my Grandpa Melendez the last few years of his life when it was more difficult for him to walk. He used to grab onto one of my shoulders and I would walk side-by-side with him at his pace until we got where we needed to go. It brought back tender memories and I was very grateful for it. President Chatfield gave us permission to take him again on Wednesday so stay tuned for that. 
    Taking David to the Hospital
  • On Thursday evening, we had dinner with the volunteers from Help International staying in Lugazi. It was super fun to be able to talk to them and hang out with them for a bit! Tanner and Cayden, both from Lone Peak are coming on exchanges with us tomorrow as well!
  • On Saturday, we had the branch Mormon Helping Hands project at the Kawolo Hospital. We had a great turnout and since I've been in Lugazi, it was the most well-organized activity I've seen so far. It was just evidence to me that this branch is growing even more and I was so proud of the leadership and everyone who participated and put forth an effort to make it possible. 
    Mormon Helping Hands
    Representing Lone Peak!

    Preperation Day Breakfast
    "I was sitting on the floor and saw this guy run under Elder Tesch's Desk,
    I ran away as fast as I could and let the other guys take care of it.
    I guess I am afraid of Rats!!!"
I love you all so much!
Love Elder Hazen