Monday, June 27, 2016

"Weekly Update~ "I Shouldn't Be Alive!"

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was a very busy week and I'll explain my email subject in a moment but, I first wanted to update you all on a few things. This week I was put in a Tri-panionship with Elder Packer and Elder Shumway because an Elder from my zone went home. Elder Mumba went to work with Elder Koopmans in K3 and we were instructed to work in both K1A and K1B so, as you can all imagine, we were running around town quite a bit. Each night, all 3 of us came home exhausted, but I wouldn't have the work be any other way! Some exciting things have happened as well. I have learned so much from working with Elder Packer and Elder Shumway and feel like we are becoming better missionaries each and everyday. Thank you so much for all your prayers concerning Ignatius. We visited him Saturday evening and we shared again about baptism and the Spirit in the lesson was unbelievably powerful. At the climax of the lesson we extended an baptism date for the 10th of July and he accepted! We need to discuss a few other things with him and resolve some small concerns, but I'd say it was the biggest tender mercy of the week. Nearly all the missionaries in our zone have been present for some of his lessons so we are all very excited for him and for the blessings this decision will bring to him and his family. Another one of our investigators, Jean DaMo, will be baptized this upcoming Sunday. Elder Mumba and I found him while tracting about a month and a half ago and he has really grasped onto the Gospel. He is 18 years old and we attempted to teach his parents, but they aren't quite as interested as he is. He and his friend Egide have been taking most of the lessons together. Last week when President came to town, he organized a Youth Conference on Saturday and DaMo was able to attend and he had a wonderful experience and got to build relationships with many of the youth in Kigali. Egide will be baptized on the 10th as well. Bosco is getting the Priesthood next week and Joanna has introduced us to nearly her entire family and we've been able to share about the Book of Mormon with them. 

So on Friday, Elder Packer, Shumway and I were moving to an appointment using pedal bodas. I sent a picture of me and Elder Mumba on them a few weeks back if you can't remember what those are. Anyway, as we were moving, a motorcycle was coming straight at me and my rider and wasn't moving. My rider tried to turn and get out of the way, but the motorcycle turned the same way and we collided head-on. Luckily, the motorcyle braked before we made contact, but the rider and I were knocked off the bike and I fell on top of my rider…so long story short, I'm not hurt at all, I was a little upset at first, but I started laughing and a crowd of over 15 quickly gathered and a bunch of people on the street came over and started dusting me off. After telling the motorcycle guy I was okay, I got on a new bike because my rider's bike's seat fell off and we moved on like normal. 

Last Sunday, for Priesthood hour, Joel gave a lesson from the Teachings of Howard W. Hunter Manual about True Greatness. As I listened to it, I learned what greatness really is and what it contstitutes. Those who are truly great are those who perform their callings and responsibilities in the church without complaint or fail and turn outward to bless others and bear others' burdens. I'm greatful for the Deacons, Teachers, and Priest quorum advisors, scouting leaders, etc. who have exemplified true greatness while I was growing up. I'd also like to express my gratitude to my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and most of all my own parents for being truly great as well. In the mission field, it's something I'm trying to improve on as I reach out to those around me in my district, zone, and those i'm teaching. I know that little acts of kindness a day make a great difference. 

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Another Transfer Down!"

Family and Friends,

Happy Transfer News Day and the beginning of another Week 1! Elder Mumba and I will be staying together for another transfer in K1 and I'm very pleased about that. We have a lot of unfinished business to take care of with the families we are teaching. And there isn't anyone I would rather be with right now to work with as we bring the blessings of this Gospel to everyone!

This week, Elder Mumba and I placed a greater focus on making our finding more meaningful so in order to do so, we have been focusing on tracting in areas where there will more likely be families living there. So far it has paid off and we were able to teach lessons to three new families. 
On Thursday morning when we were making our plans for the day, we had planned to visit Ignatius in the evening and wanted to go see him with a member to see if that could help him as we continue to try and progress him towards baptism. Right now he's just been kind of stagnant because he tells us he hasn't received and answer yet even though he tells us he knows everything we teach him is true. We decided to take a shot in the dark and see if Branch President Ronald would be able to come help is even though he is extremely busy with his job a lot of the time. To our surprise and great excitement, he texted us back in the afternoon and told us he'd be able to come with us and help. We met with him that evening and drove over to Ignatius' home together. That lesson was one of the most spiritual lessons I've been in on my mission. President Ronald has only been a member for a few years but he bore powerful testimony about his conversion story and about how this Gospel has blessed him and his family.   I think it was exactly what Ignatius needed to hear. He finally voiced some of his concerns to us about how he doesn't want to become a member of the church without his wife, who has refused to listen to us several times. After talking to him, we told him we'd continue to come sharing the Gospel and hopefully she'd feel the Spirit in the home and that the best way to help her was to be an example to her by putting into practice the things we've been teaching and see what blessings the Gospel brings to his family. The lesson strengthened my testimony on the importance of member-missionary relationships and how crucial they are to moving the work forward.

On Friday, the Rwanda Zone had their last interviews with President Chatfield. I would be the very last missionary President Chatfield would ever interview.  In my interview he gave some very wise counsel regarding leadership, and I was able to ask him a few questions. I am so thankful for the example and teacher he has been to me since I have been out. I know that many people-including myself- have been changed as a result of his and Sister Chatfield's tireless service. I will miss them both dearly. The biggest thing I got from his remarks at interviews is that we need to preach the Gospel with a will to win. Haha with my baseball background and my competitive nature, this really rang true to me. We need to open our mouths at all times and forget to be afraid and lose ourselves in the work.
Elder Hazen, President and Sis. Chatfield
Rwanda Zone with Pres. Chatfield
This morning for Pday, the Elders of the Rwanda Zone and the Gillets woke up at 4:30 in the morning, drove two hours out of Kigali and hiked Mt. Kabuye.  Enjoy the pictures!

In conclusion, I've learned a lot this transfer. I've learned that missionary work is done in companionships for a reason, and that I have a lot of flaws that I need to improve. I know that as I continue to evaluate my progress and ask myself, "Lord Is It I?" Slowly through the Atonement I can improve and my weaknesses will become strengths.

Also, Happy Father's Day to my Father and Grandfathers.   I want you to know how much I love you and let you know I was thinking about you.  Dad, I can’t thank you enough for the sacrifice you’ve made to assist me with my mission not only financially, but by preparing me throughout the years by being a good example.

I love you all,

Elder Hazen

Monday, June 13, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Lord, Is it I?"

The Life of a Missionary

Dear Friends and Family,
This week was an enjoyable week. Early in the week, Elder Mumba
suffered from a bit of sickness so it slowed us down a bit but we
worked hard later in the week to make up for it.

This Saturday, Elder Packer and I went on an exchange. It was surreal
thinking about how 10 months ago, we were sitting in the MTC as
companions day-dreaming about the mission field and imagining what
missionary work was REALLY like. It was a great experience being able
to work with him. Elder Packer and I have become very close over these
past 2 transfers so it was nice to be able to joke around and have fun
while tracting and teaching some strong lessons. We got to cap off the
evening by visiting Jimmy, one of their recent converts who was
baptized shortly before I got to Rwanda. I think I've talked about him
before, but any time I get to visit and sit down and talk with Jimmy
is a treat. This time we visited him, we reviewed about the Law of
Tithing and we re-committed him to live it, even though it's hard, and
promised blessings like good Preach My Gospel missionaries haha. We
then got to talking about his conversion story and he told us how much
he loves this Gospel and that if someone his age came up to him and
shared this message with him, he probably wouldn't have believed them
and he talked about how grateful he is for the missionaries and the
Spirit they brought into his home. It reminded me of a quote President
Brigham Young said that's mentioned in PMG. It basically says the same
thing Jimmy said. I also want to relate this experience to an
experience I had yesterday. Yesterday, Elder Mumba and I were tracting
and we knocked on a certain gate and a man and his son opened it. They
both spoke English so naturally, we were excited. But all of a sudden
he began interrogating us and asking things like, "who are you to talk
about Jesus to me? Are you Jesus himself?" And "Who gave you the
authority to preach this Gospel?" Haha I took this as an opportunity
to bear witness that we have a living prophet on Earth today who
called me to this work and even though he slammed the gate in our face
shortly thereafter, I began thinking about the magnitude of this.
There are over 75,000 missionaries serving around the world at this
time and I can tell you that each of these young adults aren't the
most learned or elite or strongest public speakers around. However, we
do have something special. We have the perfect message and we have
been set apart by the holy Priesthood and have been called by a living
Prophet of God. Despite our inadequacies and flaws, it what makes our
testimonies so powerful. As the Lord makes weak things become strong,
we are able to bring the Spirit into the home of these people and
cause a mighty change of heart. It blows my mind every time I have
thoughts like these.

This transfer, I've learned so much about pride and how much I need to
develop humility. I always think about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount when
he talks about pulling out the beam in thine eye before noticing the
mote in the eye of our brother. On mission, it is so easy to point our
finger at our companions when things aren't going okay in the
relationship even though we are making mistakes that contribute to
tension as well. I testify that as we focus on removing the flaws in
ourselves before focusing on the imperfections of others, there will
be greater happiness in companionships- missionary and eternal. I'll
share more thoughts about this next week. In the mean time, review
President Uchtodrf's conference talk, "Lord, Is it I?"

Today is the anniversary of the passing of my Grandpa
Melendez. Anyone who knew him knew how much he loved this gospel and
how much he loved his family. Since I've been on my mission, I've come
to realize how important both of these things really are and I've feel
like I've grown closer to him since I've been serving. I know he is
with me each day as I proclaim this Gospel to the people of Rwanda.
I'm sending my love to my family- Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, who loved
him as much as I did and especially to my Grandmother.

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, June 6, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Witness Comes After a Trial of Your Faith"

Missionary Car Selfie

Dear Family and Friends,

This week Elder Mumba and I saw the principle that a "witness comes after a trial of your faith" in action. As we spent the minimum of 1 hour a day finding new investigators, we came into contact with many potential families as we knocked gates in a particular area that had been successful for finding people who speak English in the past. We set return appointments with most of them, but when it came time to meet with them later that week, they either didn't answer the phone, or they weren't around when we reached their homes. After this happened a few times, and after teaching a few people who weren't very serious or weren't interested, I began to grow more and more frustrated. However, in my personal studies I finished the Book of Mormon this last week and as I was finishing up, I read in the Book of Ether Chapter 12 Verse 26 which talks about the above mentioned principle. During this time, the scripture brought great comfort to me and I knew the Lord was preparing a family for us to begin teaching as we continued to stay the course, follow the counsel of our mission leaders, and do what we were supposed to. This witness came this weekend as we found two wonderful families- husbands and wives with children who are baptism age. We taught one on Saturday and one on Sunday after church. I'm so grateful the Lord answers prayers and teaches us lessons in our times of trial. We were received well by both families and extended baptism dates to both and will be following up on their experiences with prayer this upcoming week.

We have continued to teach Ignatius and have been trying to help him have a spiritual experience to allow the Spirit to testify the things we have been teaching him are true. In attempt to do that, we showed him the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie. The Spirit was so strong as we watched together and learned about the sacrifices Joseph made for this Gospel and how he ultimately sealed his testimony with his blood. After we watched, he had a renewed desire to find out these things for himself. Please pray for him this week.

I had the opportunity to conduct my first companionship exchange this week as District Leader with Elder Nyambita. We spent the day doing some fruitful finding in his area. We were able to set some promising return appointments and were able to get into someone's house and teach a small lesson. I enjoy opportunities like these to get to know other missionaries in the mission and always look forward to learning new things from them. I really enjoy Elder Nyambita's boldness in his finding approach. We ended up having a great day and had a good discussion about the purpose of spending time tracting and contacting.

A lot of times, missionary work is difficult but there are certain times that make it all worth it. One of these times is when you get to hear a Recent Convert bear testimony in Sacrament Meeting. Yesterday, 3 of our Recent Converts bore testimony including Bosco and being able to sit there and feel the Spirit as they testified simply was a wonderful experience and my heart was full of gratitude that I've been able to participate in their journey of gaining a testimony for themselves. Bosco and Joanna were also confirmed as members yesterday.

To conclude, I just wanted to share a brief testimony about the Book of Mormon. I have read it every single day for my entire mission and I learn something new every day. I add my testimony to Joseph Smith's that it is the most correct of any book on the face of this Earth. I testify that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are one in purpose: to testify of the Savior Jesus Christ. I know that it is true and it was brought forth and translated by the gift and power of God and that Joseph Smith was called in his weakness and strengthened to do this great work. 

I love you all,

Elder Hazen

RJ Sent Pictures of Rwanda, so we can see the sites!