Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Surprise Email From Elder Hamilton

Dear Hazen and Grant families,

I had the privilege of being with your sons today in a zone conference in Kigali Rwanda. They are very fine young missionaries and you should be very proud of them. They are healthy and happy and taking part in a great work in Rwanda. Thank you for raising such exemplary sons.

Elder Kevin S. Hamilton

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Help Thou Mine Unbelief"

Dear Family and Friends,

I'd like to start off my quoting a poem by Meade McGuire...it goes as follows:

“Father, where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
And the word he spoke, it was not stern; …
“Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee.

This week, Elder Grant and I were jacked up on a spiritual high after participating in Mission Leader Conference on Wednesday, and the Zone Conference with Elder Hamilton on Saturday. However, before then, we needed to do a bit of repenting. Going into the beginning of the week, Elder Grant and I were feeling pretty good about ourselves and about the success we've been having. We may have even crossed the line to being a bit prideful. On Tuesday, in the afternoon, maybe out of a spiritual prompting, we received a random call from one of the AP's, Elder Manquele. On the phone, he asked me to take a guess on how many new investigators we were finding on average a week. In the Uganda Kampala Mission, the standard of excellence for this key indicator is 7, and Elder Grant and I were falling a bit short of that the previous weeks. Elder Manquele asked if we could align our average with the mission standard of excellence and I accepted. To be honest, I don't know why he called, but after I hung up and told Elder Grant, we were both feeling a bit frustrated and dejected. Our thought process was something along the lines of, "Don't they understand what we're doing here? We're doing a great job. Why don't our leaders recognize that?" 

The next day at Mission Leader Conference, the biggest thing I took away from the meeting was that we need to sustain our leaders and the Priesthood keys they have. President Collings talked so much about that and about how we as leaders need to convey the messages we receive from President exactly, "nothing varying" He and the AP's also talked about the importance of constant finding so we as a mission are able to accomplish the goal for baptisms we set together.
We have 495 baptisms for the rest of the year. 495 baptisms in one month. 

However, as President and the Assistants spoke with boldness and confidence, I understood that their words were inspired from God. I understood why they called Elder Grant and I and invited us to repent and improve. I was astonished at their words, and I felt a desire to help the missionaries of our zone catch that same fire. 

Later in the week, Elder Hamilton visited Rwanda Saturday Morning to begin his mission tour. Before the main conference, he pulled all the leaders into a room together and we had a discussion for 45 minutes. The main theme of this discussion was to talk about how leadership in the church is different from leadership in the world and discussed principles of leadership in D&C 121. He talked about how we are no better than anyone else and how leadership in the church isn't a hierarchy. I think because we are young and imperfect, we as missionaries get caught in the trap of aspiring for leadership or recognition. As I was reading from the beginning of the Book of Mosiah, I read about how we are all the same in God's eyes and about how meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Yet, I'm thankful for a God who, even though we are meaningless, is mindful of the one and puts him or her in exactly the right situations that are crucial to their ultimate progression to become like our Father in Heaven. There is one final quote that I loved from Elder Hamilton. He said, "Heavenly Father doesn't have some A-Team waiting in the wings to carry on or finish our work. We aren't the JV team. We are all he has and he's going to work with us to bring about many mighty miracles" I'm extremely humbled at that opportunity.

BTW, Ask me if I was asked to drive Elder and Sister Hamilton to the airport.  Yep, coolest thing ever!

I love you all,
Elder Hazen


Car Trouble

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Is Your Faith Simple Enough?"

Dear Family and Friends,

There is a line that President Collings constantly shares with us when he's giving us encouragement or is trying to uplift us. He tells us that his faith is simple enough that (some certain thing will happen, will receive some certain blessing, etc.). Awhile ago, Elder Grant and I were pondering what that meant in deeper meaning. We concluded that having simple faith means trusting the Lord's promises in the scriptures and from modern-day prophets. All too often, when we hear about these wonderful stories or miracles in conference or the scriptures, we may think, "Oh, that's nice", and think that they applied only to the prophets or those who have greater faith or are more obedient than us. But, that is simply not true. I testify that our Father in Heaven is mindful of all of his children and loves each of us individually. Because of that, we are just as entitled to ALL of God's blessings as the prophets of old were. I testify that God is a God of miracles and that miracles have not ceased, and that is what we are seeing in the Rwanda zone right now. Yesterday, we had 8 baptisms as a zone and have 10 planned for next week. We are seeing more and more of the elect that are being prepared being put in our path. I know I say it every week, but what a time to be a missionary here. Ndara's family was finally baptized and though I have been optimistic about the possibility of it happening yesterday, I truly didn't know if it would become a reality.

Last week, Elder Grant gave a training in our zone development meeting and made a sports analogy. Yes, Elder Grant and I are kindred spirits and loves sports just as much as I do..as you can imagine, we get along very well. But he compared missionary work to Basketball or Futbol or whatever applies best for your understanding. He told us that on our team, we have other missionaries, our companions, the scriptures, the prophets, apostles, our mission president, the members, etc. On the opposing team, obviously is Satan and his emissaries. He compared a few things to missionary work, but my favorite analogy that he made was this: Sometimes, when things are going well for a particular team and a certain player is hot and is scoring, the other team will adjust and double team. It is in that moment that we need to be selfless and for the good of the team, pass to someone else. The Savior is ALWAYS open and will always be there so we can pass, then cut, then score. This work is not our work, it is the Savior's. When we include him, rely on his Atonement, do all we can, then rely on his grace to make up the rest, that is when we will be successful. With Ndara's family, we had to pass to the Savior to make up the rest. We set the goal from the beginning of the week to have the full family of 5 baptized together that Sunday and that we'd do all we could to make it happen by testifying of eternal families and the blessings that would come from making covenants together. At the beginning of the week, only Gerry, the father, and his oldest son, Joshua, committed to be baptized. But long story short, by Friday, Vivane, Gerry's wife, and Benedicte, his daughter, committed to be baptized, and the morning of their interviews, we received a text saying "Justice was ready for baptism". I know that miracles truly have not ceased. Their baptism service was wonderful and the members were a great support. This is the reason why I'm serving, to see families make covenants together and one day be sealed for time and all eternity. I testify that like we read of on Jacob 5, the Lord of the Vineyard is truly laboring with us in this last time that he is pruning and dunging his vineyard.

Lately, Elder Grant have decided to put a knife in our car because of the abundance of mangoes we see on the road. It is mango season here in Africa, and obviously Elder Grant and I are enjoying.
Recently, we have been seeing more service opportunities arise. These last two weeks, we have helped a recent convert, Alphonse, with his compound. Last week we planted cabbages in his garden and this week we planted more bushes.

We also had the opportunity to help the 3rd oldest member in Rwanda, Sister Odette, who is one of the only endowed members in the country, move to Nyamirambo. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. This experience was especially special to me because this morning, we got news that she passed away last night. I didn't know her well, I've only visited her one other time, but I was extremely saddened at the news. Once again, I felt gratitude for the perfect plan of salvation and I know that this faithful sister is now re-united with her husband, with whom I believe she was sealed too.

With it being Thanksgiving, I just want to express my gratitude to my wonderful father, mother, and younger sisters and other amazing family members. I know that this time of year is difficult to be separated, but we are reaping the blessings because of it. Enjoy the time with your families, and enjoy the turkey.

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, November 14, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Singing and Soccer"

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was another wonderful week in Rwanda. While all you folks are gearing up for another winter and breaking out your winter coats and snow shovels, I'm still enjoying my 80 degree low humidity out here. The flood of tender mercies continue for Elder Grant and I.

Service with a Smile
1. A few weeks ago, we met a man called Protais while street contacting with Elder Moyes and when we visited, he turned out to be extremely prepared. He has come to church every single week since we began teaching. To say we teach him is giving us too much credit however. When we go to his home, we begin with a prayer and then he tells us everything he learned from reading the Book of Mormon and pamphlet. He has such a sound understanding of the Gospel already, that all we really do is listen and answer his questions when he has them. He gave us a referral to his friends' family that we will be teaching tomorrow. He will be baptized in two weeks and we couldn't be more excited for him.

2. On Friday, it was one of the best days of my mission in Rwanda. We were coming off of exchanges the previous day, and when we have exchanges, sometimes our schedule gets a little disorganized. Elder Grant and I decided to go and visit as many members as possible in the afternoon and we brought a hymn book with us. We would share short spiritual thoughts, then sing with them their favorite hymn then leave. It was seriously such a neat experience and we felt the Spirit so strong in each lesson.

3. Leon was baptized. He was brought into the church by a less-active member and by fellowshipping Leon as he was being taught, he came back to church himself. 
4. We were able to play soccer with members and investigators today and it was great to see both of them interact and get closer together.

Elder Grant and I have been pondering a lot about obedience. We know that God loves everyone, but he doesn't trust all of his children. We know that exact obedience brings miracles, and as we go throughout these next two weeks, we will be relying on that principle as we attempt to finish the year strong and accomplish our zone baptism goal. We are looking forward to the miracles that will come these next few weeks. 
Beautiful Rwanda

I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekly Update~ "Aligning My Will With God's"

Interviews with President Collings 
Lunch with the Rwanda Zone

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm going to keep it short this week, we had another week full of
miracles in the zone. Believe it or not, our numbers of investigators
at church and progressing investigators increased once again. We had
44 at church and are currently progressing 35. We have 39 remaining
baptisms left for the year to reach our zone goal, so we are right on

We have been so blessed with tender mercies...to name a few:
-The sisters found a family of 16...Obviously there's a lot of extended
family living in the compound, but they got all 16 to sit down for a
lesson with them and the father and a few of the children came to
church yesterday.

-New investigators continue to appear out of nowhere: Yesterday, a guy
showed up to our branch who saw the church's name online and saw the
sign when walking by on his way to work one day. 

-Another guy had a dream about the church and was guided by the Spirit to where the K1
branch met even though he had no prior knowledge about it.

We are so blessed to be missionaries in Rwanda at this time. President
Collings tells us that we are just about there to qualify for a
district which is another step closer to there being a stake in

As for me personally, I learned a lot about aligning my will with
God's this week. One of the biggest reasons why I came out on a
mission is because I believed that blessings come from putting God's
will before my own. I had the option of going and playing college
baseball right away but I decided to forego my plans and serve,
believing the Lord would take care of me. As time begins to draw
closer and closer for me to go home, I am becoming more nervous about
what lies in store for me. I wonder sometimes if I will be able to get
back into shape quick enough for me to play. President Collings
said something that soothed my troubled mind this week. We had a
discussion about Grace in my interview with him and he asked me what
the definition is. I told him it's strength to accomplish things I
would otherwise not be able to do when left to my own strength. He
asked me, with thought in mind, if it was possible for the Lord to
provide a way for my body to get into shape quicker with his help. I
felt the Spirit strongly when he said that. I know the Lord helps
those who help themselves and though it will take hard work, things
will work out for me. I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus
Christ and I know I can't pay him back for his infinite Atonement, but
I can do my best to bring his children back to him by diligently
working to bring them to the knowledge of the restored gospel. I have
enclosed the lyrics to the last verses to Savior, Redeemer of My Soul,
a song that has become one of my favorites. I know blessings come from
aligning my will with his.

2. Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.

3. O'errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

Elder Hazen