Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekly Update~ "Families Can Be Together Forever"

Dear Family and Friends,
Guardian Angels
There is not a doubt in my mind that there were two guardian angels helping and inspiring certain people Elder Grant and I taught this week. We had the most success I've ever had in a week on my mission, getting the opportunity to share 30 lessons, and inviting over 10 new individuals to investigate the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of all, my testimony of the plan of salvation has increased immensely. But before I talk about that, I'd like to share some neat experiences.

On Friday, President Collings came to do some interviews and reorganize the Branch Presidency in K1. He expressed a desire to spend more time with the missionaries this visit, so he, Elder Grant, and I planned to wake up at 5:30 Saturday morning, pick him and K1 up, and play basketball at the court for an hour. In the afternoon, he called Elder Grant and I up after some interviews and expressed a desire to come work with us all afternoon. We picked him and Sister Collings up and they took us to lunch. After, we went to two new investigator lessons and an interview we were present for. The biggest thing I took away from spending time with President is how in tune with the Spirit he is. It literally radiates from his being and people are certainly attracted to it. He told Elder Grant in his interview that he just loves to minister to people. I saw that in action and it was a beautiful thing to see true charity in action as he talked to people and complimented them, and showed love. Saturday was one of the best days of my mission.

 About two and a half weeks ago, Evangele gave us referrals to one of his friends. We taught them the Restoration and had a few solid discussions, but mostly put Evangele in charge of teaching and reviewing with them to make sure they understood the lessons completely. Last Sunday, Sam, one of their friends came to church after being invited by Job and Eric. We taught him the restoration during second hour and enjoyed church so much. He told us that he's attended many churches, but this was the first time he has felt peace in his heart attending church. The next day at Family Home Evening, Sam brought his friend Ismael and it just so happened that we were watching Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. They enjoyed it so much, and Ismael invited us to come to his home so he could introduce us to his family. The next day, Tuesday morning, we began by sharing a lesson with Job and Eric. From there, Evangele and Job came with us to share with Sam. After finishing with them, we all moved to Ismael's home where we were able to introduce ourselves to his siblings. There is so much to be said about this group of young men and I'm excited to see what the future has in store for them because all of them are looking to be baptized the same day.

After sharing the Plan of Salvation with them on Thursday morning, Elder Grant and I were heading to lunch when I got a call from President Collings. Elder Grant answered the phone and talked to him for a few minutes when he told me to pull the car over and that President wanted to talk to me. He told me, "Elder Hazen, I just received an email from your parents, and I'm sorry to say that your Grandmother from your Mother's side passed away yesterday." I was in shock, as I thought back to a conversation with my father in which he told me she would probably be around when I got home from my mission even though she has been facing some health challenges this past week. President gave me permission to call home in the evening and I took the opportunity. 
As a missionary, I teach the Plan of Salvation nearly every day. I have learned of it's truth more fully since I've been serving as a full time missionary. On Friday morning, I wrote down my testimony of it during my personal study and I'd like to share what I wrote~

I know that the Plan of Happiness was divinely created by a loving Father in Heaven who is mindful of our needs. I know that we were together before this world was, and I know that we came to Earth to follow God's plan so we might become like him and enjoy the blessings he enjoys. I know that we were carefully placed in families where we could progress and succeed, and though this life on Earth does not continue, the relationships we build with the people we love continue on into the eternities. Death is part of God's plan that separates us only temporarily. I know that the Spirit World is where our spirits go after they separate with our bodies and it is a place of waiting for the resurrection and missionary work is being performed there. This is where all of our deceased loved ones are, either teaching or learning the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify without a doubt that this is where Grandma and Grandpa Melendez are, wearing a name tag painted on their hearts reading "Elder and Sister Melendez". They are doing exactly what I am doing right now here in Rwanda and to be part of the same missionary force is humbling and comforting. I know we will all be resurrected regardless of how we lived on Earth because the Savior is champion over the grave and loosed the bands of death. I know our bodies will be perfect, free from any flaw, sickness, disease, or infirmity, just as our Heavenly Fathers' or Jesus Christs'. I know that if we prove faithful and live the gospel of Jesus Christ by living all the associated covenants by enduring to the end, we will be cleansed through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We will be granted a place in the Celestial Kingdom, where God and Jesus Christ live, a place where we can live forever on into the eternities with a complete fullness of happiness with our families. I know this is possible through the Priesthood, the sealing power of God which binds on Earth as well as in heaven. I know the temple, the House of the Lord, is the only place where these ordinances can be performed. I testify this same priesthood was restored to the earth in 1829 to the prophet Joseph Smith and that this church is the ONLY church to claim hold on the blessings through this perfect plan. I testify of a living, loving, Father in Heaven who gave his only begotten son to make this plan possible. I know that he is the Savior and Redeemer of the world and that he lives. I know these things and I believe them. I am grateful for the life Grandma Melendez lived more than words can express and I can't wait to see her again. She held a special place in everyone's heart who knew her as a Mother, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother, or endearingly as "Tiny Grandma". I know that families can be together forever. 
RJ and Tiny Grandma

Elder Hazen

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