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 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

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