Monday, October 31, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Missionary Joy"

Dear Family and Friends,

I can't really describe the amount of joy I feel being a missionary. To be brief, there are no words to describe the way I feel going into people's home and to be able to testify of the reality of a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ. Even though there are people who reject us often and things don't work out and we are sometimes made a hiss and a byword, there is nothing better than this. I am beginning to realize now more than ever that when we go through trials or our "furnaces of affliction", 100% of the time after, our Father in Heaven, one who is mindful of each of us personally, is there ready to pour out more blessings and make our lives that much better which make the tribulations all worth it. It seemed like there was tender mercy after tender mercy with all the experiences Elder Grant and I had. If I shared about all of them, I would run out of time with my emailing so I'll share the ones that made the biggest impact on the week. Each of these experiences are being carefully recorded in my journal so they will be remembered. 

At the beginning of last week, President Collings challenged each missionary in the mission to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover and gave us a list of promised blessings if we do so for us and our investigators:
1. There will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord. 
2. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments. 
3. There will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.
4. You will have greater discernment, insight, conviction, and spirit than those who do not.
5. It will bring you 'nearer to God'.
6. A power will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. 
7. Greater power to resist temptation. 
8. Power to avoid deception. 
9. Power to stay on the strait and narrow path. 
10. You will find life in greater and greater abundance.
11. The spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. 
12. The spirit of reverence will increase. 
13. Mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. 
14. The spirit of contention will depart. 
15. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. 
16. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. 
17. Righteousness will increase. 
18. Faith, hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.

 As Elder Grant and I have taken this challenge, we have been able to understand that the Lord works in mysterious ways to bless those who keep his commandments and make things that need to happen happen. Whether it be us being prompted to give a pamphlet to someone and then them calling us later, or random people calling us out of the blue who are absolutely prepared to be baptized, or unexpected people being interested in fellowshipping our recent converts and investigators. All of which I know were blessings that came from our Father in Heaven and they are only helping us move closer to our goals. I was thinking a lot about Elder Andersen's talk from this most recent General Conference and I was thinking about his puzzle piece analogy. I truly know that it's not my responsibility to baptize all of Rwanda (though we certainly could if God was willing) but, to inspire others to put their pieces of the puzzle in that will ultimately build the kingdom of God. 

Rwanda is currently thriving. Our zone was able to have 39 investigators at church and 27 progressing investigators. Elder Grant and I committed Ndarra's entire family of 5 (wife included) to baptism on the 20th and they all came to church yesterday. Words couldn't describe the joy I felt when I saw them seated as a family waiting for the meeting to start 30 mins before church. 

The church is true, 

Elder Hazen
Birthday Wishes for Maddie

Trick or Treating Missionary Style

The Elder's Enjoyed the Halloween Prizes I Sent Them

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Mom's Chapati"

Dear Family and Friends,

This week I went on vacation if there is even such a thing on mission. But, going to Kampala and being around missionaries that I haven't seen in months sure felt like it and it was a wonderful experience. I probably stayed up later than I should have both nights that I was in Ntinda. Mission Leader Conference was one of the most powerful meetings I've had on my mission. This month the meeting was focused on the Book of Mormon and the importance of working with members. We are excited to put into practice the things we learned.

I don't really have a lot to say this week, I was in Kampala from Tuesday-Thursday and when I got back into Kigali on Thursday, I went right into Elder Shumway's area for an exchange that was wonderful. We implemented some of the things we learned at MLC and worked on really listening to what investigators say so we can teach according to their needs. We also worked on our finding approaches and using "power statements" (one sentence testimonies used to invite the Spirit and grab the people's interest to learn more) I got back into our area on Friday and the rest of the weekend was spent catching up on lost time in visiting our investigators and preparing Edith for baptism. I don't know if I've talked a whole lot about Edith but she has been one of my favorite people I've taught so far because her change of heart was so apparent and noticeable. When we began teaching her, she was so stubborn and she refused to keep commitments in reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church. We even dropped her for a few weeks but, I decided to call her during weekly planning and set up an appointment to meet with her again. When we met again, we reviewed the Book of Mormon and set a bold commitment to her and told her that if she prioritized her time and gave 5 minutes to reading every day, she would be able to have the energy to work day in and day out to support her family and that she would be able to find the means to pay for her childrens' school fees. As we began teaching her again, her son came back from boarding school because he was suffering from ulcers and we began teaching him as well. Long story short, they began keeping commitments, coming to church together, and the change was so noticeable. Last week, when we were at her house, she shared with us that her husband had died just a few weeks previous to us coming and sharing with her the first time (she was found street contacting by Elder Brogan right before I got to K2) she said, that after her children left for boarding school, she felt so lonely and would just go to her room and cry when she got home from work every night. But, as soon as she began reading the Book of Mormon and the pamphlets, and we began visiting her more consistently, she felt happy again. It was a simple testimony but it reminded me that true happiness only comes from the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you don't believe me, put me to the test, put God to the test. Read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I testify that there is no more correct book on Earth and it WILL bring you closer to Christ than ever before. If you are a member of the church, and you have not read the Book of Mormon cover to cover in awhile, I challenge you to do so. If you are not, I challenge you to do the same because if you are reading this right now, you care at least a little bit about my life which probably means I care about you too and I want the best for you. 

I left my notebook at the apartment with my conference notes...Stay tuned until next week. 

Love you all, 
Elder Hazen

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Gotta Have That Young Salvation!"

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all, to explain my email subject, it summarizes an event that happened to Elder Moyes and Elder Packer about a week ago while they were street contacting one night.They were stopped by a random guy and they were getting blasted for not being able to speak French or Ikinyarwanda but, they were living in Rwanda. He then stopped and asked how old they were and pointed to Elder Packer and asked if he was older than Elder Moyes. He said yes (which isn't true) and the guy started yelling at Packer saying he didn't like him and he liked Elder Moyes because he'd rather have that Young Salvation...Love the bizarre people we meet on a daily basis:)

But anyway, this week we had a great week filled with neat experiences. We were able to finish General Conference this week on Saturday and Sunday and it was extremely spiritually filling. I will give my General Conference summary next week because I'm working on a garbage computer and the Internet keeps going in and out.

On Tuesday, I was able to go on exchanges with Elder Moyes and we had an awesome day. I want to share a neat experience we had in the evening after having a few strong appointments in the morning and early afternoon. We didn't have any appointments confirmed for the night. We began our finding with a prayer and we went to an area I used to find in with Elder Nambale. After knocking some gates and talking to a few random people in the street, one man stopped us and asked what we were doing. We introduced ourselves as missionaries and asked if he wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ. He graciously accepted and invited us to meet with him and his wife later that week. We considered it a nice tender mercy but, then felt like we shouldn't have been in that particular area anymore so, we decided to re-locate. Long story short, the first gate we knocked on in the next neighborhood over was answered by a mother and her two children who looked like they had just gotten home for the day. The kids still had their school shirts on and introduced themselves in perfect was a six year old girl named Celiah who reminded me exactly of my little sister Payton when she was younger, and the other was a ten year old boy named Serrio who loves the Golden State Warriors. Obviously I liked them a lot from the beginning. We were invited inside by the mother, and about 20 minutes into our conversation in introducing the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, her husband, who is a Mercedes Benz parts dealer, showed up. After talking to them for awhile longer, we set a return appointment for that Sunday and left in gratitude to the Lord for leading us to them. We realized that if we had not gone to the first place and met our other friends first, the timing would have been messed up and we may not have met that family because they may not have been at home. Tender mercies indeed.

On Friday, Elder Grant and I were able to have a fast for our area as a companionship. The following blessings occurred:
  • We were able to set 7 baptism dates to some of our other investigators, including Ndarra, his wife, and his three children for the 20th of November.
  • 7 of our investigators attended General Conference Saturday and Sunday..all of whom enjoyed seriously.
  • 5 random people called us on the phone asking for more information about the church and we were able to refer them to the companionship who stay closest to each of them.
  • 4 random people came to church and we had two members bring referrals.
  • We were spiritually edified from conference.
  • We are enjoying mission more and more each day.
I testify that the Lord hears our prayers and that faith is a principle of action. I know that Heavenly Father has his hands in things that need to happen including the growth of the church in Rwanda.
Tomorrow I get to go to Uganda for Mission Leader Conference. IT will be my first time going back in 7 months. It will be a sweet reunion with many. Stay tuned:)

 Elder Hazen

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weekly Update~ "What Manner of Men Ought Ye To Be?"

Dear Family and Friends,

This week I conducted a lot of self-introspection and was able to learn a great deal.  On Tuesday, Elder Grant and I went on exchanges with the K1 district. I worked in a Tri-panionship with Elder Phiri and Fiagbedzi in my old area and we had a blast. Being with them without the truck reminded me of how much I miss walking and talking to people as we move between appointment and appointment. As I worked with them, I was able to witness first hand how obedience brings blessings. They did not waste a single minute of the Lord's time, and assuming they do this everyday, it is why the Lord has blessed them with so much success. I respect both of these Elders so much and I'm grateful for their example of selfless service to one another and others around them and their diligence.

On Thursday, Elder Grant and I had a great companionship study and were able to have a discussion of why things earlier in the week weren't going as well as we wanted them too. We set a few goals and re-committed ourselves to exact obedience. Elder Grant spent his entire personal study on obedience and shared this helpful insight: Obedience is the first law of heaven. When we are called on our missions, all we are really asked to do is be obedient. Yes, there is a little more to missionary work than that, but when it comes down to it, the teaching, the finding, the service, all comes down to our obedience to our Heavenly Father's and how much we really love them. I think Elder Grant and I realized we were looking beyond the mark a little and were more concerned about why our investigators weren't progressing and were too focused on trying to be an example, but after we simplified everything, we have been having a better time. We know that all that matters is controlling the things that we can control and that exact obedience will bring the miracles that will move the work in our area forward.

Something that Elder Grant and I have begun to try is using the Book of Mormon in all of our finding situations. This means that whether we are street contacting, tracting, or whatever, when talking to people whether talking about the Plan of Salvation or the Restoration, we would always refer back to the Book of Mormon and show them a copy and invite them to learn more about it by inviting them to church or by allowing us to come visit them. You wouldn't believe how well this has worked. People are beginning to become genuinely interested in the message we have for them and there have been people who have literally begged us to leave them a copy. We know that the Book of Mormon has great power and it truly testifies of the Savior and that it brings people closer to him than any other book in the world.

Going back to the thoughts about obedience, I was pondering if I really truly do love the Savior Jesus Christ. I was thinking about it during my personal study and spent a lot of time pondering. I was thinking about his works, his example, his teachings, and towards the end of my study I came to this overwhelming conclusion: Yes I do. I know this because I aspire to be like him and follow his example of selfless love towards others. I work to improve my teaching skills to become a better teacher like he was. I try to be as bold as him in the face of adversity. I love Jesus Christ with all my heart and because of this I will never stop trying to become better through his Atonement.

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, October 3, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Another Email of Tender Mercies"

Dear Family and Friends,
I hoped you all enjoyed conference weekend. We decided to go watch the Saturday sessions this morning as a zone at one of the branch buildings. We streamed it from the Internet and threw it up on the wall with a projector and were able to have an awesome experience listening to the modern prophets, seers, and revelators. I came into conference weekend praying specifically for things that will help me become a better missionary, and specifically, for ways I can improve on my prayers. I got more than what I asked for with the talks I was able to listen too. I will give a full conference analysis like I usually do after I finish the rest of the talks:)
This week was full of small blessings once again.

  1. I was able to go on an exchange with Elder Nabonbo, otherwise known as Andrew, the former Gospel Principles teacher from the K1 branch who was set apart as a missionary last week when President Collings came to Rwanda. He has been working with the K3 missionaries until he departs for the Accra Ghana mission on Oct.5 this upcoming week. We decided that Elder Grant would go on exchanges with Elder Pearson and Elder Barker, while I would take Andrew into our area. This was his first real opportunity in working with a companion 1 on 1 so the purpose of the exchange was to get him excited for missionary work and to give him a taste of what it's really like to be a missionary. I let him take the lead in lessons and finding situations. It wasn't the easiest of days, but we had a bunch of good experiences and Andrew remarked at the end of the day, "today was special and I'll never forget it".

  2. Elder Phiri and Fiagbedzzi baptized 4 investigators this Sunday, two of whom were people Elder Mumba and I began to teach. They wanted me to come to the baptism and I was able to attend.

I wanted to share a special experience I had with Ndarra’s family. It begins on Friday, when Elder Grant and I were at a loss for what to do to help him and his family progress towards baptism during Weekly Planning. We decided to ask Heavenly Father for help through prayer. As we were praying, I felt a distinct prompting that we needed to include Ndarra’s wife in the lesson. In the past, she has not participated in any of the lessons. She usually is polite and greets us when we come, but then goes to the kitchen and cooks for the family. We also felt prompted to talk to the family about the importance of temples and eternal families. Elder Grant and I made a lesson plan to focus on that, then remind them of our purpose as missionaries in coming and visiting them each week. We wanted to tell them that central to our purpose is helping them make and keep covenants that will ultimately lead them back to their father in heaven. We went to their home on Saturday evening as usual, and began the lesson. The Mama was present and we began by asking each member of the family why they love each other to invite the Spirit. Elder Grant and I then bore testimony on why we love our families. When it was my turn to bear testimony, I pulled out a picture of my family that I usually keep in my scriptures and passed it around. We then explained that the covenants we make in this mortal life are like a pathway that lead back to our Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom. We talked about the first covenant, baptism, and how it leads to bigger and greater blessings, especially temple sealing that allows families to be together forever. We then pulled out a picture of the Accra Ghana Temple and began to explain about temples and that our purpose in visiting them was more than just preparing them for baptism, but preparing them for happiness in the eternities. However, this was when the lesson began going downhill. Haha I guess God really does allow us to go through a trial of our faith before we receive the blessing. We failed to remember that it was Ndarra’s wife’s first real taste of the restored gospel so she then began asking why unbaptized people aren’t allowed in the temple and why her baptism in the Catholic church isn’t accepted to go into the temple. The discussion was turning into more of a debate, so Elder Grant and I decided to bare testimony in effort to save the Spirit. As we bore testimony, the Mama began laughing. We thought to ourselves, “oh no, what now?” She began explaining an experience she had earlier that week while her husband was in the DRC at a funeral. She explained that she was confused at why these two young men come to her home each Saturday evening to teach her family, and why their message is important and if it’s true so she asked God those same questions. After she prayed, she opened her bible to a random page. This is what she read.
Luke 10:1-7
 1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

 4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

 5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

 6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

 After she read that to  us, I couldn’t help but get emotional. Elder Grant and I just looked at each other, speechless. She told us she knew this was an answer to her prayers and that we truly were sent by God. We committed the family to pray to know if we were sent by God. Elder Grant and I knew that this was a miracle from the hand of God. We knew it came as a result of our diligence amidst our frustrations that week (we got our side view mirrors stolen from our truck for the second time in three weeks earlier that day). We also knew the Spirit was guiding us, because without it, we wouldn’t have known to include that Mama in the lesson. I’m thankful for the tender merices of the Lord each day, no matter how great or small.

love you all very much,
Elder Hazen