Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Week 26 - The Dark Year

Hello All!

    Christmas is a good day. :)  I hope you all had a fantastic one, because I know I did!  When you're like me, and you haven't seen your family for about five months, Skype is nice.  But really, it is amazing how much just seeing your family after not for a while can mean.  Christmas is pretty much the best....closely followed by Mother's Day. 
    Apart from Christmas, this has been a fantastic week!  One of the more exciting events of the week: Ben and Beth are finally home!  They got back early on Saturday morning, and were able to make it to church yesterday.  It's great to see them again, especially doing as well as they are.  They're still planning on being baptized this Wednesday, which means we kind of have to scramble to get everything ready, but it's all working together really well, and it should be just fine.  Needless to say, we're a little excited for Wednesday.  Allison didn't return with Ben and Beth, but we're hoping she'll be back soon, and she can continue to progress.  
Rob is also doing very well!  We had a couple of lessons with him this week, as well as a Christmas dinner with he and his fiancée, Dawn.  We had a lesson with him last night that was particularly good.  He's been reading a lot from the Book of Mormon with Dawn, and is trying to figure out for himself if it's true.  He's seen a lot of the hypocrisy and greed and such in organized religion in the past,  but I think he's really been impressed with what he's seen of the church so far.  We really just helped him to know that the way he'll know that everything we've talked about is true is through the Book of Mormon.  He was very attentive and receptive, and he accepted the invitations we extended, including the invitation to be baptized once he knows for himself.  It's been great to work with him.
    Overall, the week was great, though people were busy and it was sometimes hard to meet with them.  But it's ok!  This week is going to be great!  We're looking forward to Ben and Beth's baptism, transfers are on Wednesday, (Don't worry, I don't think either of us will be transferred.) and it's the New Year!  Huzzah!
Well, before I close things up, I just wanted to share with you something that's really been standing out to me lately, and that's the healing power of the Atonement.  I don't have any scriptural backing or anything right off the top of my head, but I know that the Atonement can heal us.   
We can't get through this life without picking up some pain.  Whether it's caused by others or by ourselves, it's there, and it definitely drags us down and prevents us from attaining our full potential.  But, we don't have to continue to carry it.  Through the Atonement, we can be made whole.  All we have to do is rely on Christ.  Sometimes, that's hard, and it takes sacrifice on our part, but it's more than worth it.  I just want to bear my testimony of that.    
    Well, you're all wonderful people, and I hope you have a great week, and a Happy New Year!  Be good!  Have fun!

I love you all so much!
Elder Hafen

Week 25 - Happy Christmas!

Hello All!

    Well I hope you are all excited for this wonderful Wednesday!  It's kind of a big deal.  I gotta say, it's a little different experiencing Christmas as a missionary, but that's ok!  I'm so grateful for this opportunity to invite others to come unto Christ, especially at this incredible time of year.  I just hope that I do the best I can and find those people whom God has prepared for me to teach, because I know that our Father in Heaven is preparing His children to accept the Gospel, and He gives all of us opportunities to share it; to give the gift of His love.
    Christmas is sometimes a slow time for missionary work, but also a great one!  We haven't been able to meet with a lot of people just because of the busyness of this time of year, but we were still able to see some incredible miracles and the Lord's hand in this great work.
    Sadly, Ben and Beth are still out of town for probably a couple more days.  They are back east to be with family after the tragedy in they all went through, and it's been pretty rough on them.  Ben especially comes from a really hard background, and being with his family kind of reminds him of his past, which is not the best thing.  But, they're still doing well, we think, and we can't wait to see them again!  
    We also had a Christmas miracle this week in the form of Rob.  Rob is the fiancée of a less-active member of our ward.  The two of them were moving several weeks ago, and we were able to help them out with that.  Rob's a great guy with a pretty strong Catholic background, and we've also been able to stop by a couple of times since then and built a good relationship with them.  Anyway, we stopped by them on Saturday to invite them to the Christmas sacrament meeting.  We were having a nice chat with them, when Rob's fiancée brought up that Rob had wanted to ask us something.  He then asked us how he could learn more about the church.  It was pretty cool. (Understatement.)  So, we arranged to come back the next night to teach him.  They were there at sacrament meeting on Sunday morning, and he really enjoyed it, and the lesson went very well!  He was very receptive, and he accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  He even offered the closing prayer, which was beautiful.  We have another lesson with him set up for Boxing Day- that's December 26th for you 'muricans- and we can't wait to see how he's progressing!
    I just want to share quickly my testimony of Jesus Christ as we prepare for Wednesday: In John it tells us, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)  What an incredible gift!  I know that Jesus Christ came to this earth because He, and our Father in Heaven, love us more than we could possibly imagine.  I know that He truly did live a perfect life as an example to us, and that following that example will bring us more happiness than we could find anywhere else.  I know that He truly did take upon Himself every sin, every sadness, every pain that each and every person has ever, or will ever experience.  I know that He is the only way back to our Heavenly Father, and I am so grateful for that.  I love Him, and I know that He loves me.
    Well, my wonderful friends and family, have a Happy Christmas!  Always remember what this time of year is for, and be sure to express your gratitude for the incredible gifts your Father in Heaven has given you, because He has given us so many incredible gifts!  Have a great week!  Be good!  Have fun!

I love you all, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Elder Hafen

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Week 24 - The Mighty Chinook

Hello All!

    I hope you've all had a fantastic week filled with carols and gingerbread and everything else Christmasy! ;)  Really, though, this is such a great time of year, and I'm so grateful to be a missionary right now.  It's wonderful to think about the Savior and all that He has done and will do for us, all because He and our Father in Heaven love us so much, all in spite of us!
    The weather seems to have been a little more typical for this time of year in Southern Alberta.  After our somewhat cold weather (haha) last week, we got a bit of a pleasant surprise in the form of a Chinook in the last couple of days.  The temperature changed from about -30 last week to about 7 degrees yesterday, and snow and ice are retreating rapidly everywhere.  Ya gotta love 'em.
    The work here in Southern Alberta is going well!  Ben and Beth are still doing just great, despite a tragic event in their family this week.  They were just married on Friday in a really beautiful service, and there's really no reason they shouldn't be baptized on January 1st. (Hooray!)  We also started teaching Ben's niece, Allison, this week.  She just moved in with Ben and Beth, and I think the change that she has seen in Ben's life has really interested her in the gospel.  We had a couple of really great lessons with them, one with our ward mission leader, and we know that she's been reading out from the Book of Mormon!  They're all out of town until Friday this week, but we hope to be able to meet with them soon after that, and really see the progress they are all making.  Man, we're lucky to be able to teach them.
    We also finally got to meet with another one of our investigators this week, Randy.  He's a trucker, so he has a pretty crazy work schedule, and he wasn't exactly eager to meet with us in the first place, but we convinced him to let us come over, and we had a really great time with him.  He can't really "see himself converting", but he knows it's all good, and I'm pretty sure he has a testimony.  It's just going to take us helping him gain a desire and a realization that this is what he needs in his life.
    This week, we also had the pretty incredible opportunity to hear from Elder Bednar!  He was in Calgary for a stake conference, and also took some time out of his crazy schedule to address us.  It's crazy to think that we were learning at the feet of and Apostle of the Lord!  (When I say "at the feet", I mean over a broadcast for those of us in the south, but you know what I mean!)  He spoke to us a lot about agency, as well as faith and what that really means, especially in our prayers.  
    As he spoke about prayer, and as we studied some of his other remarks before this, it really made me think about my own prayers.  Something Elder Bednar particularly emphasized was the action associated with our prayers.  Think about it: don't we all, at some time or another, ask our Father in Heaven for something good, and then completely forget about it or leave it all up to him?  Are we really being "agents" at that point?  God has given us the ability to do good, and He expects us to!  We absolutely need to pray and ask for good things and blessings for others, but those things need to be prayed for with an expectation to act as well!  Faith and action are inseparable, and I know that that is something I need to better realize in my own life, and especially in this great work.
    Well, I hope you're all having a fantastic week!  Remember what this Christmas season is all about, and remember what that means to you.  I love you all!  Be good!  Have fun!

I love you all, and Merry Christmas!
Elder Hafen

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 23 - The Coldest Place on Earth

Hello All!

    I hope you've all having a fantastic Christmas season!  I guess it's even been a white one back home.  Enjoy that, and stay safe out there!  We're having quite the weather here in Lethbridge as well.  This week, I guess there were two days when we were the coldest place on Earth...on Earth!  Don't worry, the church is conscious of our health and safety, and we were shut ins for a few days, which kinda stunk.  Anyway, it was kinda cold. ;)  
    Of course, when the missionaries are stuck inside, missionary work kinda suffers.  We really didn't have the opportunity to do much teaching this week, and we had quite a few dropped appointments, but that's ok! (kinda)  We can only do so much as missionaries, and then it's up to others to use their agency to make the right choices.  All we can do is our best. (And I hope we've been doing that.)
    We did have the chance to go to our ward Christmas party this Wednesday, though, which was great!  There were tons of members of the ward there, as well as non-members, and it was a really great opportunity to meet people we had only heard about to that point.  Elder Law and I also had the opportunity to perform a musical number, which was apparently okay.  It's been great to be with another companion who is so musical!  (Elder Law is a great "greenie" overall, by the way.  He makes it easy to be a trainer.)
    Ben and Beth are doing well, though.  Circumstances have made their coming to church the last couple of weeks kind of difficult, and we weren't able to meet with them at all this past week, but we have a lesson scheduled with them tonight, and Ben's niece, who is apparently very interested in taking the missionary lessons, and who is living with them now, should be there as well!  Ben and Beth have been trying to quit smoking, which has been tough for them, but I really don't anticipate anything happening that's going to stop them from being baptized on New Year's Day.
    We're still hoping and trying to increase our teaching pool, and there's a lot of really good potential for that in the ward.  The members of 12th Ward are awesome, and really willing to work with us and help us out, and we're trying, with our super awesome Ward Mission Leader, to get things moving even more; It's gonna be awesome!
      I've been starting to read the New Testament these past couple weeks- I highly recommend it, by the way- and I came across the story of Jesus walking on water.  Of course, the storms were blowing and the apostles were scared, and then even more scared when they saw the Savior walking toward them on the water, but he told them, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."  For Peter, that was enough for a bit, and he conquered his fear enough to allow his faith to help him walk on the water himself.  Sadly, that didn't last, and Peter allowed the storm to get the best of him.  Just before he disappeared under the raging water, however, he cried, "Lord, save me." 
    "And immediately, Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him." (Matt 14:27-31)  How often are we like Peter?  How often do we let ourselves be afraid about all sorts of things that really don't matter in the long run?  Our weaknesses.  Our worries.  Other's opinions of us.  Anything.  For me, that's pretty often.  But the Savior is there.  When we cry to Him for strength and support, He will "immediately" stretch forth His hand.  He's always there.  Isn't that enough to "Be of good cheer" about?
    I hope you all have a fantastic week and that you don't forget what this wonderful Christmas season is really all about!  Be good!  Be safe!  Merry Christmas!

Elder Hafen

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Week 22 - Snowed In!

Hello All!
    I hope you have all had a fantastic week!  Ours has been pretty dang exciting.  I'll apologize right now for not getting an email out yesterday; we were sort of snowed in, hence the subject line.  It started dumping snow pretty badly on Sunday night, so everyone had to park their cars-didn't really apply to us, of course- so we couldn't really go email or shop or anything.  So, our zone made their way to our stake center to hang out for the day.  Then, the snow just kept coming, and it got bad enough that we had to cancel all of our appointments for the night, and we were sort of stuck at the stake center.  Luckily, there were some wonderful members who were willing and able to shuttle us all back to our apartments through the snow.  It was quite the adventure! 
Quite a lot has been happening here as far as missionary work goes as well! ;)  We had a couple of lessons with Ben and Beth this week, which was awesome.  They are truly some of the most prepared people I have ever seen. (And I know that's not saying much, considering I've only been out 5 months, today actually, but I've seen some really prepared people already.)  They've already been taught the first couple of lessons, but they didn't really need them as far as learning goes.  I'm pretty sure they've read Preach My Gospel, and they've been around members for quite a while now.  As far as I know, they've really just been dancing around the idea of investigating the church seriously for about three years now, and now they're ready to be baptized!  They are really committed, and I know they've seen the difference the Gospel has made in their lives already.  Ben, especially, has had a really crazy and tough life, and I'm happy to see that he's finally found the truth!  They'll be married by our bishop in the next couple of weeks, and then baptized on January 1st, and I really can't see anything interfering with that.  Ben also has a brother, Sam, who we think has a lot of potential!
   Well, everyone, we just found out that we've got to finish up early today. but I hope you have a fantastic week!  Love the Savior!  Be good!  Have fun!
Merry Christmas!
Elder Hafen