Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 4 - The Concrete Underbelly

Hello All!

    First off, I'm sorry if my email last week seemed a little scattered/frantic/overwhelmed/etc.  I've been able to calm down a bit and adjust as much as one can in a week and a half.  Raymond is great!  The people here have made me feel so welcome, and I can't wait to know them better and help them build God's Kingdom a little more in this part of the Vineyard.  Of course, an overwhelming majority of the people here are members of the church, so a lot of that is visiting less-active members as well as recent converts, but we have a few investigators as well.
    I just want to talk a little about a few of the people we are teaching and have met.  One really great lady is named Susan, and she's deaf.  She doesn't sign, but she can read lips amazingly well and speaks very clearly.  We've visited her a couple of times and had a really great lesson with her the other day about just doing the little things that will show our faith in Christ, and how that will strengthen us.  She doesn't get too much out of church, you see, because she obviously can't hear the speakers, and I don't think her eyesight is good enough to read their lips.  She's delightful, though!  We also have a few investigators who I really think could be getting baptized hopefully soon!  We just taught two last night.  They're sisters, and their dad is a member, but has kinda gone off the rails for the past few years, I think.  We've been teaching them at their aunt and uncle's house, and it's been great.  We challenged them to read just a bit of the Book of Mormon last time, and they actually did!  We taught them about the Restoration last night, and I really think they were touched by the Spirit.  I can't wait to see where the Lord will take these great people!
    I was also fortunate enough to stumble upon a baptism here!  On Saturday, we put on a baptismal service for a 9 or 10 year-old boy named Sheldon.  He would have been baptized before this, but the family was waiting for his dad to be able to perform the ordinance, which is wonderful.  We were freaking out a bit because nobody was really there on time, and we had to redo the actual baptism about four times, but it all worked out and was great!  Yesterday in church, Elder Musselman confirmed him and I was able to help with that.  It was a really great experience.
   So now to the subject line.  This past week, the Cardston Temple closed down for about a month for renovations, and guess who got to help with those?  That's right, the missionaries!  So last Wednesday morning, we drove down to Cardston and they put us to work.  I figured they'd be putting me and Elder Musselman to work ripping out carpet, but we got to help the AV engineer with his stuff, which didn't seem too exciting, but it turned out awesome!  We started in this little room just off the entrance, and were cutting some wires and moving some equipment, but then...we got to go to the basement!  Now, I know that may not sound too cool, but believe me, it was an experience.  I don't know if I'll get another chance to crawl around under a temple in my life. ;)  We also got to see most of the other parts of the temple, and wow.  The Cardston Temple is amazing.  I don't think there are many places in the world like it.  I can't wait until the renovations are done, and we can do an endowment session there!  (It was a little weird standing in the celestial room with my work clothes on, though.)
    Before I finish, I just wanted to share a few thoughts from my personal study this morning.  I was reading in Alma 43 when Zarahemnah leads the Lamanites to come and enslave the Nephites.  This is also the first time Captain Moroni is mentioned.  So you may be familiar with the story; The Lamanites come to the borders of the land, and see the Nephites waiting for them.  Of course the Lamanites are just wearing their loin cloths, but the Nephites have breastplates and helmets and shields, so the Lamanites scamper off, even though they outnumber the Nephites by more than 2 to 1, to find an easier place to attack.  Moroni, always faithful, sends a message to Alma asking him to ask God what the Lamanites strategy will be.  He does, and tells Moroni to go to the land of Manti.  There, Moroni sets a trap for the Lamanites and eventually has them surrounded at the River Sidon.  At this point, the Lamanites can see that they are about to die, and it says that "they did fight like dragons," and "never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength".  But then it says,"Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause," (Alma 43:43-45) and they were still able to withstand them.  As I read this, I couldn't help but think of the First Vision, and how hard Satan tried to stop the Restoration of the Gospel from taking place.  How hard do you think he will fight when the time comes that he sees he is beaten, aka now?  He will fight us like he never has before.  He will use everything he has at his disposal to try and destroy us.  But, just like the Nephites, we can withstand him as we put on the whole Armor of God!  So gird your loins with truth!  Put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation!  Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace and take up the sword of the spirit!  But most importantly, take the shield of faith, faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, to deliver us, that "ye shall be able to quench the all the fiery darts of the wicked."  As we do this, we're promised, "you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:11-17)
    I love you all so much.  I hope you're doing well in everything you do.

       Elder Hafen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 3 - Out of the Frying Pan and Into a Very Small Fire

Hello All!
    Well here I am in Canada.  I've been here for just under a week, and I've already learned a lot and I am trying to adjust to my new life for the next little while.  I'll start with getting up here, though.
    We left the MTC last Tuesday at about 4 AM.  Yay!  They shuttled two busloads of us up to Salt Lake Airport. (My cousin, Kyna, was on my bus, by the way, which was great!)  We went through the normal rigamarole, and then headed to our gates.  We had a while until our plane boarded, so missionaries started calling home from the payphones and, I love Utah, the iPhones of people waiting for planes.  Seriously, Mormons are great!  One really nice sister even took a picture of me and let me send it to Mom.  I called home for a bit and let everyone know that I would call again at our next stop.  It was great to be able to do that, but also really tough.
    We flew from Salt Lake to Phoenix, don't ask me why, and had a long layover, so my district set out on our own to find some unoccupied payphones.  There were 32 in our group going to Calgary, so that took a little bit of time. ;)  We went down a couple of terminals and found a few and started calling home.  After 12 days of being surrounded by people I'd never really known before my missionary life, it was really nice to hear some familiar voices.  I talked to Mom and Dad for a while, and even got to talk to my great friend, Avonlea. (Who got her mission call to the Philippines this week!  Woot woot!)  I wish I could have said everything I have bottled up to tell them, but that would have taken a little too long.  I guess I'll just have to remember all of it for a while. ;)  I then got to call my big bro at work and get a few last words of wisdom from him.  I'm so grateful to have him, and my sisters, and my dad, who have all served honorable missions.  I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have at least an inkling of what I was getting myself into beforehand!  After a tearful goodbye, we loaded onto our plane to Calgary and headed off!
    We arrived in Calgary a few hours later and after going through customs, were met by President and Sister Nicholas and the APs.  They ferried us to the chapel just down the street from the mission home and we went through all sorts of boring administrative stuff.  Then we got to have some much-needed dinner.  After dinner, we had a fireside and heard from President and his wife as well as bore our testimonies.  It was a really powerful experience.  Then, we got to find out our first areas!  We'd had a bit of guessing game before this, and I had guess that I would be going to the Nelson Branch way out to the west in BC (British Columbia, for you Yanks.), but I was rather off.  I have been assigned to the Raymond, West area in Southern Alberta.  Basically, I'm back in Utah, but with better weather.
    We stayed the night in the mission home, the Nicholas's are wonderful, by the way, and the next morning, after some training, separated for our new areas.  We drove down to Lethbridge which is where the Transfer Station for all of the southern missionaries was, and I got to meet my trainer/"dad".  Elder Musselman is from West Valley and has only been out for two transfers!  It's alright, though, I've learned a lot from him, and he knows what he's doing.  He's a great guy with a really incredible story.  I also got to me meet my "granddad", Elder Sorenson, who is now home in Idaho.
    Anyway, after some words and singing "O Canada" (great song), we went and did a little grocery shopping, then Elder Musselman and I were off to Raymond!
    Raymond is a great town.  The population is something like 4,600 with 4,100 of those being members of the church.  Needless to say, we've been visiting quite a few less-actives.  The town is on a grid, just like every other Mormon town, and is about eight blocks by eight blocks.  The stake center is just down the street from our house, which I'll tell you about in a bit, and I think is the largest church building in Alberta.  There are also two other chapels in town.  The town is one stake with nine wards in it.  Pretty insane.
    We live with a couple practically right in the middle of town.  They've been gracious enough to let the missionaries take up their big basement.  They house is pretty awesome.  It's about 100 years old and was built for Raymond Knight, who I believe I'm related to, and was, apparently, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright!  For someone like me, that's pretty amazing.
    The work here is progressing, and I'm trying to catch up to it.  We have a couple of investigators with a lot of potential, and some more potential investigators we'll hopefully be able to work with.  Until I learn more about the people here, I just wanted to tell the story of a recent convert here named Brandon.  The elders found Brandon a couple of months ago.  He and his brother were arguing about something on the side of the road trying to move a pool table.  They were cussing up a storm and the elders offered to help them.  They waved them off, but Elder Sorenson and Elder Musselman only got a little ways off before Brandon's brother stormed off, and they returned and insisted.  To make a long story short, Brandon took the discussions, turned his life around, and was baptized.  He just got back from "Moroni's Quest", which is a youth activity I really wish I could tell you about, and had a really amazing and spiritual experience.  I'm pretty sure he's now planning on serving a mission,
    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a wonderful thing.  Nothing else can bring the happiness and joy and fulfillment that it brings to people's lives.  I am trying my hardest to be a worthy bearer of it and a worthy representative of our Savior.  I know I can be, and I hope I can become the best missionary I am capable of being.  I know I can do it through Jesus Christ.  The work is hard.  It's made even harder when you have a wonderful family just a few hours away, but the work is good.   
    I can't wait to feel like I actually know what I'm doing!  Hopefully, that will come sooner rather than later. ;)  I love you all so much, and I can't wait to tell you more about this wonderful part of God's vineyard once I know more.
        Elder Hafen
P.S.- the weather here in Raymond is pretty wonderful.  It gets a little hot at times, but hot here averages about 90.  It rarely gets to 100, and I love it!  Have fun in Sunny St. George!
P.P.S.-  thanks for all of the birthday wishes!  I really appreciate them.  The members here in Raymond have also been treating my wonderfully, and a family even made me a part Birthday/BBQ last night.  They even made some lemon cake, my favorite!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week 2 - Off to Canada!

Hey Everyone,
    I just wanted to let you know what's going on really quick; it's not my P-Day, so I'll send a good email then.  We got here fine, and I've been assigned to Raymond!  Dad, you'll have to remind me of your companion's name.  My companion is Elder Musselman from West Valley.  President and Sister Nicholas are awesome, and I can't wait to get my feet under me here.
    We're in the family history center here in Raymond just doing some quick emailing.  I love you all so much, and I miss you a lot.  I'm excited to get going up here, though!  Good luck with everything at home!
Love you,
               Elder Hafen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Week 1 - The MTC - The Belly of the Beast

I'm sitting in the MTC Laundry Room at the moment (which is insane if you haven't experienced it), and I'm so grateful to have gotten through this first week of my mission.  Just in case you get the wrong impression, the MTC is wonderful and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be here; I have learned so much, seen so many friends, made wonderful friends, and been strengthened so tremendously.  However, it is also really really really hard.  Anyone who has served a mission is probably just saying, "no duh", but it is really something that can only be experienced on your own.  I am anxious to fly out to Calgary next week, but I know the coming days will continue to prepare me so well for the field! We have a couple of "investigators" at the moment, and it's so great/frustrating to be able to teach them and learn how to teach them.  Oh, and the food is pretty good. ; )
    My district is wonderful!  There are three companionships of Elders: Elders Jacobs and Wake, Elders Bennion and Mackey, and myself and my companion Elder Shaw.  We are also blessed to have three wonderful sisters: Sisters Gardner, Shumway, and Heslop.  I was called as District Leader after we met with our branch presidency (yipee) and it has been great!  We have all come so close and are trying to be more obedient.  We have been promised so many blessings as we are obedient, and I am so pleased with our district.  Fun fact: Our branch presidency's names are President Ohman, Brother Menlove, and Brother Wiseman.  They are also wonderful!
    I want to tell you a little about the 4th of July.  To celebrate the holiday, we had a special treat from the MTC presidency.  We had a special devotional where we watched "17 Miracles" (great movie, if you haven't seen it.) and afterward, they let us go outside and watch the fireworks at Stadium of Fire and even gave us Ice Cream!  Of course, this meant we were out until about 11, and when you are scheduled for the earliest breakfast time at 6:30, you want as much sleep as you can get.  It was a lot of fun, though, and it really hasn't been a problem getting up at about 5:45 every morning.  For those of you who know my sleeping habits, you'll know I'm having help in that aspect of the work. ; )
    There isn't too much else to say, but I know that's easy for me to say, so if I missed anything, please chastise me and I'll try to let you all know more next week.  I love you all so much, and I miss you tremendously, but I'll have to deal with that for a couple of years!  Let me know how things are going at home and in your lives; News from home really strengthens me, as strange as that may sound.  Again, I love you!

        Elder Hafen

Week 1 - Day 1 - The MTC

Leaving the House

Lunch with the Dalleys at Costa Vida in Provo

Visiting the Provo Temple

A little pondering before entering the MTC

Meeting up with Jordan Koopmans

Running into my cousin Kyna Hafen

A final goodbye to big brother