Monday, May 30, 2016

Weekly Update~"Learning Each Week"

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was busy as usual, but once again, nothing too out of the ordinary occurred. Just still keeping busy doing missionary work! However, there were a few random, unrelated lessons I was able to learn throughout the week that I'd like to share. Again, I'm very grateful for all the experiences and lessons I've been able to learn on my mission. I know our Heavenly Father has a hand in each of these times and that he's molding me into what he wants me to become.
  • This Tuesday, I went on exchanges with Elder Brogan. He is an awesome missionary and I appreciate everything I was able to learn from him throughout the day. There are times that I feel inadequate in my calling as a missionary and I've felt added pressure since I've been called to be a district leader.   But from him, I was able to be reminded that the Lord qualifies whom he calls and that I know what is expected of me, I just need to continue striving to do my very best and continue to be a worthy vessel of the Lord.
  • Also, enjoy the pictures Shumway, Koopmans and I took Tuesday night;)

  • On Saturday evening, we had a wonderful lesson with Ignatius. For those of you who don't know who Ignatius is, he is a guy that Elder Nambale and I began teaching. He has a great young family. His wife isn't as interested right now, but she still politely greets us when we come over. He has come to church about 5 times now and is still progressing but, his issue is that he feels that his prayers haven't been completely answered yet although he loves the church. We had a great conversation with him about baptism as we taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we answered a lot of concerns. At the end of the lesson, Elder Mumba asked him why we feels that we keep coming over to teach him. He gave a list of 4 or 5 reasons, but the first reason he gave is that it's because we love him. When he said that I immediately felt the Spirit and feelings of gratitude. I was thankful because that's my number one goal when I go and teach people. I hope that they feel of how much we as missionaries love them and on the other hand, how important it is that our investigators feel of this love.
  • I learned how crucial planning is to missionary work and how important it is in general, even after I go home. When we make plans for the upcoming days and weeks, it's important that our plans and goals match up. Sometimes as missionaries, we get into a habit of mindlessly making plans just to cross something off the list of things to do daily. However, if we approach our planning this way, we are setting ourselves up to fail. We can't mindlessly set increasing goals for each key indicator and say we want to find one new investigator then not set any time aside to go finding or set appointments to contact potential investigators. 
  • The Lord recognizes how you're using your time as a missionary. Depending on if you're doing what you're supposed to do determines whether he will trust you with teaching another one of his children and bringing them the knowledge of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Even if we get bounced from an appointment, there's always something to be done. It's important to not find ways just to fill time in our days.
  • The Gospel is what brings true happiness. I was able to see this with the baptism of Bosco and Joanna yesterday. I am so happy for them and I know they will continue to be a blessing to all those around them.
Sorry, no rhyme or reason to my email this week, just putting thoughts to paper:)

I love you all,

Elder Hazen

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekly Update~ "High on a Mountain Top"

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was very busy, but nothing too out of the ordinary happened. Just continuing to push on and work as hard as possible! We are beginning to see some of the fruits of our hours spent contacting and tracting last week, as we spent a lot of our time reaching out and meeting with our potential investigators. We've met a lot of wonderful new potential families and look forward to meeting with them again next week.

A lot of our efforts this week were focused on helping the Branch launch their home-teaching and organizing their less-active activation plans, so we were in a lot of meetings. On Saturday morning, we were present at a leadership training for all the branches in Kigali. The purpose was to introduce a program the area authorities are beginning in the Africa Southeast Area. We are trying to locate all our members' homes on a Google Earth Map and the goal is to have 90% of members located by November. Elder Mumba and I were also with Elder Gillett when he gave a training on using our Priesthood Authority.   So, Elder Mumba gave a demonstration on consecrating oil. It was fun to be apart of and I'm very excited to see the commitment of the leaders of the branches here because there was a very good turnout.

On Friday evening, we had a combined branch activity at the K1 building. The first missionaries to serve in Rwanda, came back to visit over the weekend.  They requested that an event be put together so they can visit with all the members-both old and new- and get to spend time with them. All the missionaries were there and there was a wonderful turnout by old members and recent converts alike. There was food prepared, and the Andrus' spent about an hour and a half answering questions about how they can continue to build the church here in Rwanda. It made me so happy to see this pioneering generation of members all together in one place enjoying an evening together and celebrating the rapid growth of the church in Rwanda.
New and Old Members 

The 8 Missionaries in Rwanda

Today, we went on a picnic as a zone with the Gillettes to the hill that Elder Holland dedicated the country of Rwanda for missionary work. We were lucky enough to have access to the actual dedicatory prayer so Elder Gillett read it to us today after we finished singing "High on a Mountaintop". It strengthened my testimony that this church is led by inspired men called of God. I know Elder Holland hadn't spent extensive periods of time in Rwanda but, the prayer addressed everything about the country and it was so neat to be able to have a small taste of what happens when the work of the Lord is born in a particular country. I am so extremely blessed to be serving here at this time. I know it's not just coincidence that I am here. I have been called here to do a very specific work necessary to help the work move forward in this wonderful country. One thing that stuck out in the prayer to me is that this country, due to the rapid growth of the church that will take place here, it will be an example that the rest of this continent will look too. The banner has been unfurled in the country of thousands of hills, high on a mountain top.

Elder Gillett Reading the Dedicatory Prayer

This Sunday Bosco and Joanna are being baptized together, I am so excited for them and we had a wonderful conversation with Bosco about setting his sights on the temple. I mentioned to my family when I called them on Mother's Day that seeing at least one family I taught make it to the Temple will make my whole two years of service worth it. 

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Pure and Simple Testimony"

Pedal Boda

Dear Family and Friends,

   This week was a slower week in terms of having lessons. It seemed like all of our progressing investigators were only able to meet this week on Saturday for their own individual reasons. This week was the African World Economic Forum Conference so a lot of people were busy with that. I began working with Elder Mumba this week on Wednesday and we had to treat a lot of our days like we had no one in our teaching pool. So basically, we went finding...a lot. We took the opportunity to go tracting in the wealthiest neighborhoods in our area. The bigger the houses and nicer the cars, the better:)  Elder Mumba and I made it a game throughout the week to see if we could get let into the big houses with the gates and the guards. We were successful a few times! I'll be the first to tell you that the Spirit sometimes works in mysterious ways and can give you a pump of confidence as you step out of your comfort zone. A year ago, there was no way I ever pictured myself in Kigali city in Rwanda walking through the suburbs being comfortable talking to strangers the way I am now. I truly consider it a blessing. 

   When Saturday finally rolled around, we literally ventured EVERYWHERE within the boundaries of our area from 10 in the morning to 9 at night struggling to make all of our appointments on time. One of my favorite modes of transport has become the pedal boda.  There are guys who have bikes with cushions and handles for people to sit and hold onto behind the bicycle seats and they take you to places you can't get to by bus for relatively cheap.  So, Elder Mumba and I took advantage of many throughout the day and this week.

   I want to direct this part of my email to anyone reading this who is: Thinking about serving a mission, has their mission call, or is under 3 months on their mission:
I know I'm only 9 1/2 months out on a mission, and I have plenty to learn, but I hope some advice from a young missionary will prove to be useful. During the last few months I had at home before I entered the field, I had a lot of concerns about whether I would be good enough or if I had enough knowledge about the Gospel. There were times I felt very inadequate and questioned whether serving a mission was the right decision for me. If any of you are having those feelings, or are wondering whether mission is right for you, let me be another one to tell you that you won't regret serving a mission. Not one bit. I'll be the first to tell you that I don't have a vast knowledge of the Bible or verses memorized as artillery to contend with people who oppose us and the message we share. There are many things that I do not know, and it's something that I've learned to accept. With those of you who know my nature and how I am, I am one who wants to do their best when they're focused on something, whether it be on the baseball field, or something else. 
There were multiple occasions this week that we were invited to a home and the people living there invited us just to contend with them. One was a pastor, and another was an active member of another faith. As these individuals threw all their Bible knowledge upon us, we were forced to sit and politely listen as they bashed our beliefs and the things we knew were true. A year ago, this was the exact situation I feared because of my lack of knowledge and I was afraid I wouldn't know how to respond. However, our purpose as missionaries isn't to convince people our message is right, it is to invite others to come unto Jesus Christ as they pray about the messages we share with them. What you don't know isn't important. In those times, the best thing to do is to focus on what you do and bear pure and simple testimony. As we were able to do that in these separate occasions, we were able to leave the Spirit in the home as we left and moved to our next appointments. I testify that the Lord molds you into what he needs you to become as you gain experiences. Don't worry about what you don't know or what skills you lack, if you have a desire to serve, that's all you need. Trust in the Lord to add unto you what you need in the very moment you need it.  

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Delighting in Plainness"

Mother's Day Skype
RJ and His Companion Elder Nambale
Wishing They Could Tract This Way!

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was a great last week with Elder Nambale. We put in some
good hard work as we were counting down the days to call home our
wonderful Mothers. Today we had transfers and we found out that Elder
Brogan and I are swapping companions- Elder Nambale is moving to be
with him to be the second Zone Leader, and that I would be the new
District Leader to replace him, and Elder Mumba would be moving to be
with me.

This week, after feeling like my teaching skills were getting a little
rusty. I really put focus on studying the lessons in Preach My Gospel
throughout the week during my study time. Along with this, during Zone 
District Meeting this week, Elder Brogan told us that we need to place a 
greater focus in preparing lessons for our appointments throughout the day
during our companionship study, so we would be able to come into the lesson
prepared and ready to teach with the Spirit. He talked about how you
grow older on mission and become more familiar with how the lessons
are arranged, sometimes we move away from this step of making our
lesson plans apply to the investigator we are teaching. After this
refresher, Elder Nambale and I made a goal to apply our lesson plans
to each investigator. We would teach throughout the day and write down
the commitments we were going to extend. As we did this, we were able
to teach with greater power and authority and fulfill all our plans we
had made during our weekly planning the week previous. It was a little
change in our routine, and though it took a few extra minutes of our
study time, it made all the difference. Throughout the week, we taught
a few of our investigators who we were on the fence about dropping
them and because we took the time to plan these lessons, they proved
to be very successful lessons and we were able to answer many of the
questions these people were having. I testify that as you take the few
extra minutes to plan and teach with simplicity, it makes a big
difference and I'm grateful we were able to see that this week.

I also wanted to give an update on a young couple we are teaching
right now. Their names are Bosco and Joanne and they have been dating
for about a year. About 3 weeks ago, they came to church together on
their own after our Branch Clerk invited them. Elder Nambale and I
have been teaching them ever since. They are planning on getting
married in December. We were able to teach them twice this week and
it's made me so happy seeing how well they've grasped onto the Gospel.
They both feel like their prayers have been answered concerning the
truthfulness of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ and they are both
progressing so well. Seeing them making the Gospel a priority in their
life reminds me of how when I get home, I want to set my priorities in
the same order with my eternal companion and my future family. I know
the blessings this Gospel brings and I want nothing short of them.

This transfer, I've learned so much about how obedience brings
blessings and allows you to have the Spirit as your constant
companion. There is nothing more important than having the Spirit with
you, especially as you teach. Obedience and having the Spirit are
directly related. When I got here, I realized I needed to fine tune a
few small things and it has helped so much. I'm grateful for my
district I've been able to learn so much from and am looking forward
to the lessons to be learned in the future.

In conclusion, I'd just like to express my gratitude to my wonderful
family and more especially my mother. I love my family so much and am
grateful I was able to FaceTime them yesterday. I know that there is
no greater calling than Motherhood and am eternally grateful for the
example my mother is to me and I love her so so much.

Elder Hazen

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Agents Endowed With Moral Agency"

Baptism of Jean De Mo
Dinner at the Gilettes, the Senior Couple
Rainy Season in Rwanda 

Dear Family and Friends,

   This week I learned a lot of valuable lessons. It wasn't the easiest week I've had on my mission but again, I'm so grateful for the times of trial which allow me to learn.

   With it being in the middle of the rainy season here in Rwanda, we found it difficult to move from appointment from to appointment so we always found ourselves behind schedule. Due to the fact that people completely stay inside and stop moving during the rain, many times throughout the week people bounced us because they were away from their homes waiting for the rain to pass.
 We weren't able to see 3 of the families we have been teaching this week because they were busy each with their own individual reasons, so we found ourselves tracting and street contacting a lot. Honestly, I've never faced so much rejection since I've been out here as I did this week. There were lessons that we'd completely get through the Restoration and we'd think it went okay, but then they'd ask us a bunch of questions and it's turn into a debate and we'd have to leave because the Spirit was gone. I know we don't get rejected the same way missionaries do around the world by getting doors slammed in faces etc. Nearly as much as they do- and I consider myself very lucky, I haven't had to deal with it much so far but, this week was very frustrating. 

   One night during the end of the week, it was nearing the end of the day and Elder Nambale and I were waiting for a bus in the rain. Feeling dejected and discouraged, I had the Book of Mormon in my hand and I began flipping to random pages and reading random verses. The stories I flipped too included Abinadi, Alma, and Nephi the son of Helaman who were both wonderful missionaries who faced their fair share of rejection and hard-heartedness. As I read those stories, I realized I haven't had to endure through nearly as much as they did throughout their ministry, yet they always remained bold and retained their desire to serve the Lord. As I read these stories, I felt the love my Heavenly Father has for me and the efforts I'm putting in for this work. It felt like I received a warm hug and it was exactly what I needed. 

   I also learned this week how much being at the right place at the right time makes a difference. This week, we met our third less-active member this transfer while walking to our next appointment. It's been super nice because when they see us, they stop us and we are able to take their contacts and schedule a time to meet with them during the week. We have been able to re-activate 2 less-actives through these spontaneous meetings which has been such a blessing.

   I learned a big lesson on humility this week. I won't go into the details, but basically there was a disagreement between me and someone else this week. I felt like I wasn't the one at fault, however I was still stewing about what happened. This morning, as part of the Book of Mormon reading challenge, I read from Alma Ch.60-62. In this section, we read about how Moroni blasts Pahoran for neglecting his armies and basically tells him he and the government are spectators only thinking about themselves while the army fights their battles for them. We learn a lot by how Pahoran responds and I wrote this quote by Neal A. Maxwell in my scriptures in that chapter:
"You and cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended."

   When I read this quote, I immediately felt the need to apologize. Even though I wasn't the one who started things, I felt I needed to end it.  After I apologized, I felt all tension leave and felt ready to move on. I don't know how he feels now, But I sure feel better.

   To end, I just want to share how much I love teaching families. Right now we are teaching a guy named Olivier who has a son named Eli. When we go over there and teach him, Eli is always present during the lesson and every time we have Olivier pray, Eli repeats everything his father says and it's my favorite thing ever.

I love you all
Elder Hazen