Monday, March 27, 2017

Weekly Update~ "Wilford Woodruff Week"

Dear Family and Friends,

President Wilford Woodruff, as a missionary and leader of the church was unmatchable in terms of work ethic. He routinely rose in the morning and retired in the evening earlier and later than most and was one who did not waste the Lord's time.  Following our fast last weekend, in order to see the blessings of the sacrifice made by members and missionaries, President Collings declared this week to be "Wilford Woodruff Week". President challenged the elders and sisters of the mission to constantly find from 10AM to 10 PM. He also encouraged us to set goals as a companionship in ways we could use our time more effectively. Elder Chifamba and I set our goals and put our noses to the grindstone. This was one of the most difficult weeks of my mission though the most fulfilling. Satan is a smart guy. Whenever you resolve to be better or decide to step up and be more of what the Lord wants you to be, you best believe he will be there pulling you back and destroy your righteous desires. However, when Satan steps up, the Lord steps up as well and is there to strengthen. 

The members this week were extremely helpful as we've been receiving more referrals, especially to women who are only able to meet in the afternoon times. Usually that is a time that is difficult to find members to work with members because most get off of work at 6, but it all seemed to workout this week. We also had a few breakthrough lessons with investigators, we had a baptism for brother James, the other elders in the zone saw an improvement in numbers, sacrament attendance was extremely high for both wards, and people were extremely kind enough to allow us into our homes between 9:00 and 10:00 which is uncommon. We are grateful for an inspired mission president who is obviously in tune with the Spirit.
Baptism of James
This week we had a small blast from the past. On Saturday, Elder Chifamba and I were invited over for lunch by the one and only Mama Mafabi with the AP's and other members of the Kololo district. She is still the best, still my mother, and still a wonderful member missionary. She has given the AP's more work than they can handle and Kololo is exploding. They are preparing to split the ward and it is a beautiful thing to see. We were also fed Sudanese food by James and his family which was unreal, and sister Peace took us out to lunch to a pork joint. We enjoyed life seriously in Nsambya this week. 
Mama Mafabi and RJ
Kololo District and Mama Mafabi
Sudanese Dinner at James' House
James' Family
Lunch with Sister Peace
Enjoy General Conference this week. I will be viewing on the 8th and 9th but I would still love to hear the insights you have and revelation received.

 I love you all,
Elder Hazen

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Update~ Missionary Work is Unsuccessful Unless You Do It The Lord's Way

Dear Family and Friends,

Missionary work is interesting, in the fact that no matter how much you may know about this gospel, how many times you've read preach my gospel, how many scripture masteries you passed off in seminary, or whether you're a junior companion or an assistant to President, missionary work is unsuccessful unless you do it the Lord's way. 

When the Savior walked the earth, he didn't spend his time convincing those who opposed him that he was the foretold Messiah. Rather, his message was one of invitation, to increase their faith, as he went about doing the Father's will. In a similar sense, we've found that when our intent is to increase people's faith in the Savior rather than convincing them this is the only true church, we've had more success. As Elder Chifamba and I have been making that our focus and humbling ourselves, our discussions have been less contentious and more spiritually uplifting.  This has given us the opportunity to testify of the Atonement with more power and authority. As I've shared many times before, I testify the Atonement can and will change even the most natural of men and will give strength to break yokes of bondage no matter what they may be. Testifying of the Atonement is the best part of being a missionary and this week I was able to often. We taught a man relapsing into old drinking habits, so grieved by it that is brought him and myself to tears. We taught one other man so fed up with financial problems that he began to pray to God not for strength, but that he would take his life so he didn't have to deal with the stress any longer. We taught another man who is a refugee who's family is being kicked out of their apartment because they can't pay rent. The thing that makes the gospel so beautiful is the fact that it can help in EVERY situation imaginable through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I love the power I feel when I have the opportunity to promise people blessings as a servant of Jesus Christ.

I am also grateful for the power of the fast. This weekend, the mission and the Kampala North Stake united in a fast that the Lord will prepare people to accept the gospel. President had a conference call with the Zone Leaders and read Isaiah 58 with us and went verse by verse and shared thoughts he was having. It was extremely spiritual and I would encourage you all to study that chapter to better understand the doctrine behind fasting. As part of the fast, we had a stake missionary fireside and participated in a missionary choir as part of the program. We sang Joseph Smith's first prayer and the spirit was absolutely present. I think Pres and Sis. Collings posted it on their blog if you want to watch. 
Missionary Choir

Yesterday, my companion and I attended a meeting with my mission president, and the stake president of the newly formed stake. It was extremely powerful to see two sets of Priesthood keys working together, receiving revelation on how the kingdom of God can continue to progress in this country. We set a goal to invite each member to bring one referral to the missionaries each 6 months. If there is 40 members in a ward, that is 80 referrals a year. If 60 were baptized and 45 were retained, that is tremendous growth. We all came away edified and humbled to be used as tools by the Lord. We are looking forward to another great week!

Elder Hazen

PS.  Patricia, a member of the ward planned a birthday surprise for me, she came with a cake after FHE and had a few people get up and say nice things about me. Then she talked about how I'm one of the best missionaries she's known because I'm the only one who got her sister who's less active to read the Book of Mormon. It was really sweet!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekly Update~ "Truly Good Without Guile"

Dear Family and Friends,
Mission Leader Conference

There is nothing I respect more than when people are "truly good without guile" as President Uchtdorf put it in one of his recent conference addresses. I've had the opportunity to serve around many such people. There is so much power in someone that has a quiet confidence, that shies from center stage, that doesn't need to make their presence known, that pushes recognition to someone else. The Savior was one of such people. In Moses 3:1-2, the difference in motives between the Savior and Satan is apparent in the "I"s and "Thy"s. I've come to realize these motives for serving are what set apart a good missionary from an incredible missionary. A few transfers ago, I had a quote written in my planner that goes like this: "If heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, if they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night, then what did motivate their climb? What did companions never feel? Was it fear or prized sublime? Did obligation feed their zeal? Each heights by great men reached above is motivated out of love." In MLC last week, Elder Grant mentioned that humility comes from understanding that as a child of God, you are no greater nor lesser than another of God's children. I struggle mightily at this. I sometimes unrighteously place myself above another because of certain gifts or talents I possess that others lack, but then to balance it out, I look at the great examples all around me and beat myself up, wishing I was more like them. It is these thoughts of self-righteousness that cause me to forget that mission or other forms of service are not about me. It's interesting to look back and see how the Lord has slowly walked me through and picked out my weaknesses one by one and given me the opportunities, people, and experiences to make them stronger. My goal these next few months is to strengthen as many peoples' faith in Christ as possible, and as a result, receive additional ordinances of salvation. Whether that be partaking of the sacrament, receive an advancement in the Priesthood, or making preparations in receiving temple blessings. As I focus more on the individual, I hope to truly lose myself in taking up my cross.
Interview with Pres. Collings
Thank you all for the birthday wishes. Because sometimes birthdays make you the center of attention, I made an effort not to tell anyone. It was the best birthday ever in the full time service of my God.
RJ's Birthday

I love you all,

Elder Hazen

Monday, March 6, 2017

Weekly Update~ "Another Transfer Down"

Dear Family and Friends,

I thoroughly enjoyed my week with all it's spiritual highs, new investigators, and changes. Transfer weeks are usually a wash because of the constant moving around trying to get everyone situated where they need to be and Mission Leadership Counsel, but it ended up being extremely productive for us. 
The Zone

The transfer brought changes in our district and zone as we increased from 6 to 8. Elder Seibert shifted over to Makindye to be a district leader to re-open an area there with a new companion, Elder Beja from South Africa. Elder Harding, from down the street in Pleasant Grove is Elder Chisale's new companion. Elder Oliverson is training a new missionary, Elder Kagson, from Ghana and we already love having him around. He is so humble brings a great spirit to the district.
(Family Home Evening at the Bishop's House)

Elder Grant came back from Rwanda this week and gave me an update on our old area. One of my investigators, Jean Baptist, was baptized last week. If you remember, this is the man we gave a French Book of Mormon who had it stolen from his staunch Catholic mother. She began reading it and finished all of first Nephi, and through a translator, explained all of the plot perfectly to us. Elder Grant said that before he left, they followed up with her again, and she came with questions concerning infant baptism. She obviously had read up to Moroni 8 and was concerned about it. Elder Grant told me he and Elder Owen didn't know what to say because she was obviously shocked and didn't want to offend her. After sitting for a few minutes, she began to bear testimony that she knew by the power of the Holy Ghost that the book of Mormon is true and that if the prophets said infant baptism is wrong, then it's something she needed to follow and be baptized again by the priesthood. She then set her own baptism date for April 16th, Easter Sunday, then closed "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

(Filling up Font for Castro's Baptism)

That's our lesson for the evening, I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and that is inspired by God. I know anyone who reads it, will indeed get closer to the Savior, and that it is the fruits of Joseph Smith. I know Jesus Christ leads this church. I'm thankful for the tool that the Book of Mormon is and that the Spirit one feels when honestly studying it changes lives. I have more to write, but I have to go. 

I love you all, 
Elder Hazen

RJ's new friend

The Chapel

RJ's Bed with Mosquito Nets to Protect him from Malaria

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekly Update~ "Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus"

Dear Family and Friends,

In this most recent session of General Conference, President Uchtdorf gave a talk titled "O, How Great the Plan of Our God!" In it, he talked about the coat of arms of the city Belfast, "Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus" or, "what shall we give in return for so much?" As I've reflected on this past transfer, I've been asking myself a similar question. I have felt God's presence in numerous ways this transfer as he's walked hand in hand guiding Elder Chifamba and I to individuals prepared to receive the gospel. I can't say enough about the Nsambya ward, it's members, it's level of organization, and the overall experiences I've been having here. The district and zone, though small in number, accomplished much as we had success in each companionship, and grew more unified. The Lord is blessing me with another transfer here in this area. The zone is increasing from 6 to 10 and we're excited about it.
(Filling Up the Font for Castro's Baptism)

This week, we baptized brother Castro. Elder Chifamba and Elder Thomas, then Smith, then myself, have been teaching him for three transfers, but between him going to the village for holidays, being on campus for school, being out of town for work, his baptism was long overdue. A few weeks ago, we set a program to meet and went over the baptism interview questions with him. The way he answered reflected his readiness, so we set a goal for baptism the following Sunday. However, his phone was stolen, and he began to miss the church activities he normally attended, so his baptism date came and went and we felt a little defeated, as we were doing all we could with him. He had the desire to be baptized, he was prepared, but for whatever reason, things weren't working out. Fast forward to Tuesday morning last week. Elder Chifamba and I were driving to a lesson, and we saw him moving the other way on the opposite side of the road so I immediately pulled the truck around and we rolled the window down to talk to him. Turns out, he had been in the village again trying to earn some money to buy a plane ticket and visa so he can go to Dubai for 2 years to work so he can go back to school. When we met with him Wednesday afternoon, he expressed a deep desire to be baptized and we felt the Spirit as we were talking about it. He is planning to leave this upcoming week, which wouldn`t be enough time to have him baptized then confirmed the following Sunday, so we suggested to baptized him Friday, then confirm him Sunday. We called Bishop to see how he felt about it, and he approved it, so we moved forward with the interview Thursday, baptism Friday, and confirmation Sunday, and fortunately, it all worked out. I'm grateful for Castro and his understanding of the importance of these saving ordinances and I know he will continue to build his testimony as he attends church in Dubai. What shall I give in return for so much? Everything I have left in me for these remaining 4 transfers because I owe it to the Lord.

I love you all,
Elder Hazen