Monday, December 26, 2016

Weekly Update~ "MVPs of Christmas"

Dear Family and Friends,

Straight up, this Christmas and Christmas Eve were some of the best days on my mission. There are a few select people who helped make it wonderful. This email will be devoted to expressing my gratitude to each of these individuals~

Whiting Family: The Whiting family is a family from our branch. They are from the States, and Juan is serving as the second counselor and has done a wonderful job. He and his wife Jen, just had a baby and they got back from the States this week. They invited the whole zone over for breakfast on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed some killer french toast together.

Cedric: Cedric was baptized last week and confirmed this Sunday. He was taught by Elder Moyes and Elder Phiri and has one of the purest hearts. He is getting over a battle with a few past demons so he told us yesterday that he wasn't planning on leaving the house because he didn't want to be tempted. When we visited yesterday, we brought him a plate of food and he was so grateful and happy. We think he ended up giving some of it to his neighbors because that's the type of person he is. Such a good man.

Other Cedric: This week, we were planning on having Cedric, one of our investigators baptized. He is a referral from Frank, the branch presidents' brother. When we were going over baptism interview questions on Friday, we decided to postpone his baptism until next week. He was so disappointed because he was looking forward to it but he told us that he knows without a doubt that the church is true and that he'd be willing to postpone his baptism even 6 months if he had too. We felt the Spirit so strong with him and when he showed up to church on Sunday. he had a light and it was wonderful to see.

Grace: Sister Grace is one of Elder Grant and my favorite people in the branch. She is wonderful and was nice enough to help me out with some Christmas gifts to my family I was able to send back to the States with someone earlier this month. Her contributions to our Christmas joy were numerous. First, she and many other R.S sisters woke up early on Saturday morning to cook for the branch Christmas Party. Her and many other individuals were unable to eat the food they worked tirelessly on but had a great attitude about it. On Christmas, while the rest of her family went to the village, she stayed in Kigali to spend Christmas at the church because it was her first as a member. Afterward, she invited us and a few other extended family members over for lunch.
Youth of the K2 Branch: All of them worked tirelessly to plan the Christmas party and like I said with the R.S. Sisters, many of them were unable to eat as well. However, I was so impressed as many of them stayed to help clean up. Elder Grant and I spent 2 1/2 hours with them cleaning up the church and preparing it for the meetings the next day. Honestly, that experience alone made it so worth being a missionary and being able to serve alongside the youth was better than any party or any morsel of food we ate.
Grace made purses for my sisters, a tie for my dad and a
table runner and pot holders for my mom for Christmas
Cleaning up after the Christmas Party
Branch Christmas Party
Ndarra Family: Ndarra's family was one of the families we decided to visit yesterday. On Sunday morning, our district made 3 loaves of banana bread that we split in half and took to families we visited. We stopped at their home briefly because it was the last visit before we called home, but Vivianne of course had to feed us before we went which we were extremely grateful for despite our full bellies. We decided to have a testimony meeting with them and the Spirit was so strong. Ndarra and Vivianne each bore testimony expressing gratitude for the gospel and for us and I was so moved. Their relationship is one I will cherish for the eternities.

Claudia and Family: A return missionary and her family had us over for a lunch. They made unreal food and we shared many laughs together.

Elder Phiri and Elder Moyes: They are the other two members of our district. They bought Elder Grant and I candy bars and ties and left it outside our door Christmas morning. I can't describe the quality of people these two Elders are. To summarize, I have never learned more from a group of people than my current district. I am truly blessed.

Elder Grant: I can go on and on about him but he is my brother and I am so grateful for him.
RJ and Elder Grant
Elder and Sister Gillette: They had all 14 missionaries over for Christmas dinner and allowed us to use their gadgets and gizmos to call home. They were patient enough to let all the missionaries use their computers before calling their own family. They are such amazing examples of Christians built upon principles Christ taught. Even though we made noise all night, they were so kind to us. Sister Gillette made a killer meal of Chicken Cordon Blu.
Skyping with my Family
My Family: Even though it's been 7 months since I've talked to them last, things haven't changed and they're still the people I love. I love them more than words can express.
Christmas Day Skype

Advent Calendar
Opening some gifts from my Family, New Warriors Shirt!

It's bittersweet this is my last Christmas in Africa but I am so thankful to all those who made it wonderful. Merry Christmas!

Elder Hazen

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