Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 52 - Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day (tomorrow) everyone!

    Hello all my 'murican friends and family!  I hope you're having a wonderful week and are excited to celebrate the 238th anniversary of our glorious country!  Meanwhile....I'm in Canada.  Haha, totally kidding, it's a great time of year with Canada Day tomorrow (We got to sing "O Canada" in church yesterday) and the Calgary Stampede starting this week.  Oh...and my year mark this week.  As crazy as it is, I've been a missionary for just about one year.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet.  There's definitely excitement, but a lot of anticipation and nerves as well.  As a missionary, you really don't have too much time to serve God, it's the same for all of us in life, actually, and I just hope to make the most of this last year in the field.  
    The week has been good, as it always is in the Lord's service. (Sometimes it's hard to remember that, but it's true.) 
    One of the highlights from this week was our first lesson with Keith!  We went over on Friday afternoon with a member of our ward we thought Keith would connect really well with, and nobody answered the door.  Needless to say, we were bummed.  We were standing at our car figuring out what to do next, and Keith drives up!  We were super excited, but had no way of getting in touch with our member who had just driven off until he got home.  It was all good, though, because he noticed Keith, and thought it might be him, so he came back!  Definitely a lot of tender mercies, and the lesson we had with him was just another one.  Keith is a great guy, with strong faith, and a lot of love for his family.  He personally sacrificed quite a bit so his family could move here for his wife to accept a job.  He's really involved in youth basketball programs and loves to help kids out from tough situations.  We left him with a Book of Mormon and some other things, and he told us he would read it, so we're very excited to go back this week and see how it's all gone!
    We also saw Drey and Robert this week and had a great lesson with them.  After we were finished, Drey asked us if there was a baptism coming up soon, because he wanted to see one!  He's definitely close, and the young men in the ward have done a fantastic job of bringing him in as one of their own.
Cindy is also doing well, and it looks like she should be able to be baptized in August.  She's still struggling with a couple of things, but she's definitely working on it, and is determined to be baptized.
    Yesterday in church, I was really looking for some guidance and revelation, and my Heavenly Father definitely sent it.  I was so grateful to have such an obvious evidence of his love for me.  It also got me thinking on personal revelation a bit more, and there's a quote from Sister Julie B. Beck that does a great job of letting us know how important it is.  She says,"The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life,” she said. “… It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks. … We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us.  With [personal revelation] we cannot fail; without it we cannot succeed.”  This is definitely something we all need.  Our paths through this life are all very different, and the only way to navigate it the way we should is through that guidance and connection with our Heavenly Father.  There are lots of things we can do to make ourselves more sensitive and receptive to that guidance, and I really hope to become a bit better at that.
    Thank you all so much for your constant love and support!  You're all wonderful and I hope you have a happy week!

I love ya, eh?
Elder Hafen

Friday, June 27, 2014

Week 51 - Deja Vu

Hello All!

    I hope you're all doing well and enjoying your summers!  It's crazy to think that I've now been out for all four of the seasons, and four very different seasons than what I was used to before.  It's been great!  It's been a great week up here in the great Canada Calgary mission.  It was transfer week this week, and I said goodbye to another companion heading home.  Elder Asay flew out on Thursday afternoon, and I said hello to a new companion.
    His name is Elder Poulter.  Born in Payson, Utah, but raised in Dallas, Texas.  He's been on his mission for six months now, and this is his first time serving in the big city.  He's a really awesome guy!  He plays the banjo, looks like Clark Kent, and we have a lot in common.  Best of all, he was just serving in..........RAYMOND!  That's right, we both have the same first area, and it's been a really fun last few days hearing about everything that's been going on since I left just about eight months ago.  The time has flown by, and the work is still going strong.  Apparently I'm remembered as Elder Poulter actually knew who I was and a lot about me.  Overall a pretty cool new companion. :)
    We've tried to get right back into the work, and it's been great!  
    We met with Bruce again this week, and had a pretty interesting lesson.  We brought our High Priest Group Leader with us, who knows Bruce quite well, and he figured out pretty quickly that Bruce was definitely not at the top of his game.  Bruce has some addictions he struggles with, and compared to the last time we were there, it was pretty apparent that he was still under the influence of something.  It was actually pretty sad, but we hope we'll be able to show him he doesn't need to rely on those things.  
    Drey and Cindy also came to church this week!  It was great, especially since we haven't seen Drey there in a few weeks.  The ward, and especially the young men, have done such a great job fellowshipping him and making him feel like one of them.  We'll hopefully be able to start seeing his step-dad out soon.
    Kinda cool story: I was on exchanges just over a week ago with one of our zone leaders, and we were service tracting. (Tracting but offering service.) We knocked on the door of this house that had a kinda shaggy lawn, and a man named Keith answered.  He and his wife and young daughter just moved here a few weeks ago from Wisconsin, and things had been pretty crazy, so the lawn hadn't been mowed.  He said we could come back and do that if we wanted to, and we did!  He was really grateful, and he said he was actually pretty interested in learning more.  We'll hope to see him again soon!
    I finished reading 2 Nephi this week, and Nephi said something that I thought was really cool.  Concluding his writings in 2 Nephi 33:7-9, he says,"I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.  I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.  I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation."  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can bring what I think we all want: Happiness. Peace. Joy. Love. Salvation.  It doesn't matter who you are or where you've been.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share it with others, and I hope I can help them come to this knowledge.
    I love you all so much!  Have a wonderful week.  Be good!  Have fun! (Go USA!)

Love ya!
Elder Hafen

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Week 50 - Roasted Pigs and Dads

Hello All!

    I hope you've all had a great week!  I especially hope all the great Dads out there had a wonderful Father's Day.  It's been a great week here as usual, though it's been a little strange.  When your companion is going home in less than a week, things tend to be different. ;)  It's been great, though, and Elder Asay is doing a great job!  We had a good week teaching and working and roasting pigs. (Just one, actually.)
    Though it was a good week, it definitely had its ups and downs.  I'm sorry to say that we probably won't be meeting with the H family any more.  We had an appointment with them on Tuesday that fell through, so we were texting Nikola, the mother, to try to set up another appointment.  She texted us back, and let us know that she was no longer interested in investigating the church.  Apparently, she's looking for a more new-age rock and roll type church.  I'll be honest, it was pretty devastating getting that, especially when the members of the ward really couldn't have done anything more to fellowship them and welcome them into the ward.  We'll just hope that their hearts continue to be softened and that someday they realize where they're supposed to be.
    We met with Drey this week, which was good.  Being a 14 year old boy, he often misses appointments, but he's been going to youth activities and having a great time.  Hopefully he'll progress into having a stronger testimony of the gospel which will lead to more action!
    This week, we also started to teach a former investigator named Bruce.  He's a cool guy with a crazy past.  He has a sister who is a member of the church down in Utah.  She calls him every night just to make sure he's doing alright.  He has some great family and friends in the church, and he'll hopefully be able to see the many blessings the gospel can bring into his life.
I wanted to share a scripture with you that I came across this morning.  It's in Joshua 3:5, when Joshua is talking to the Israelites.  He says, "Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you."  For some reason, that scripture really hit me.  The foot note for sanctify says "make holy".  I looked up "Holiness" in the Bible Dictionary, and something it says is, "things or places were holy that were set apart for a sacred purpose; the opposite of holy is therefore common or profane."  We are a peculiar people.  We are not normal.  We are set apart by what we know and, hopefully, what we do.  The more we realize that, and the more we try to sanctify ourselves, the more miracles the Lord will be able to perform.  I hope I can live up to that counsel.
    I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Happy late Father's Day, Dad!  Thank you for your incredible example and for all you do.  Be good.  Have fun!

I love you all!
Elder Hafen

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 49 - 10 Days/11 Months

Hello Everyone!

    It's been a great week!  Things are going well with our investigators, Elder Asay and I are doing well, and the church is true.  Elder Asay is doing really well, considering he goes home in just about 10 days.  It's kind of strange to have a companion who's about to go home, it helps me realize how inexperienced I actually am.  It's nice to be humbled...sometimes. :)  
    We were able to see a couple more of our investigators this week, and they are doing well!
    We saw the H family this week and had a great lesson!  They had lots of questions as usual, but that's great, because they are actually willing to listen to us and accept that we may have something to contribute.  It was great too, because at the end of the lesson, we were inviting them to come to church, and their son, Matthew, said, "Mom, can we change?"  It was pretty great.  So, the whole family did come to church yesterday, and I think they had a great time.  They have some really great friends already in the ward, and they hit it off with some others as well.  It was pretty fantastic!
    We also saw Jody this week, as well as Cindy.  They are both doing well, and are trying to prepare themselves for baptism.  Jody and his fiancee have decided that they will be getting married in September, and he'll probably be baptized in November.  By that time, they'll be living up in Edmonton, and so we're doing what we can to help him be ready and worthy for that.  He and Cindy both have some things that they need to work through before they can be baptized, but I know the Lord will help them along and provide a way for them to do it, because it's just that important!  
    Sadly not too much else to report on our investigators.  We're trying to set up a time to go see Drey and his dad again, as well as Sesilia and her girls, and we're working with a few less-actives who are doing really well.  There's one in particular, Sister S. who is in her 60s and hasn't really been out to church since her 20s.  She's just started to read from the Book of Mormon again, and is willing to listen, and she's making great progress.
    Today I just wanted to share a scripture I came across in my personal studies.  It's 1 Corinthians 16:13-14."Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.  Let all your things be done with charity." ('quit you' means behave like.) Sometimes, I think we all need a reminder like that.  One of the most important parts of the gospel is simply enduring to the very end.  I've realized that that doesn't just mean ambling along and barely doing what we're supposed to do just to appease our own conscience.  We need to be firm and steadfast.  We need to be anxiously engaged.  We need to strive always to do what the Savior would do.  I really need to apply that in my life.  It's hard overcoming the natural man sometimes, but grace is there, and it is sufficient to help us.  I know that, and I am so grateful for that.
      Thank you all so much for the wonderful people you are!  You're truly great, and I am truly grateful that I have been given the friends and family I have.  Have a great week!  Be good!  Have fun!

Love ya, eh?
Elder Hafen

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Week 48 - You Never Know

Hello All!

    I hope you've all had a fantastic week with lots of success and smiles and such.  It's strange to think that June is upon us, and that the winter is officially gone.  It's seemed like ages since I got into a car and it was actually warm! WARM!  I've gained a new appreciation for leaves and blossoms and short sleeve shirts.  Spring is truly upon us here, (I know quite a while after all of you) and it's great.
    One of the reasons I have such an appreciation for Spring this week is that we were able to spend a lot of time out in it.  Elder Asay and I had some serious luck with appointments cancelling on us, so we were trying to do a lot of street/park contacting etc. It was actually pretty fun, and we're definitely going to have a better week this week as far as teaching lessons goes.
    As a result of our lack of lessons, I sadly don't have too much new to report on most of our investigators.  We should be seeing Drey tonight, and he seems to be progressing well.  We haven't had much luck seeing Sesilia lately, but we're hoping to soon.  The H family, however, are doing very well!
    We went and had a lesson with the Hs on Tuesday, and brought their fellowshippers, a couple in McKenzie ward, with us. (The husband is the former bishop, and they're awesome.) We started out by asking them what their experience had been thus far with meeting with us, and what their expectations were for our visits.  It turned into much more of a serious discussion than we've had in the past, and the Spirit was so strong!  Sister H actually started out by asking us about Revelation 22:18 which says,"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:" People will often try to use this scripture to refute the Book of Mormon, but we were able to help her understand that that's not what it's talking about.  As the lesson went forward, we were pretty surprised to find that she is not as devoted to her church as we thought.  She, and Brother H especially, have had some pretty negative experiences in that church, including having a lot of frankly anti stuff taught to them, and nothing but positive experiences with this church and the members of it they know.  It was a really intense lesson, and Brother H even left his playoff hockey game in the other room to join in! ;)  Needless to say, they agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and I think we can expect to see them at church soon!  I love the Spirit!
    That makes me want to talk about something I've learned a lot about this week: pride.  I spent part of my personal study a couple of days ago studying the talk, "Beware of Pride" from President Ezra Taft Benson.  It was fantastic!  We all struggle with the "universal sin" of pride at times, and I've really been trying to strip myself of it.  Frankly, it's a lonely and unsuccessful life when we put pride between us and the Lord.  He wants to help us.  He wants to guide us.  He wants us to be happy and successful.  All we have to do is humble ourselves before Him and "becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."(Mosiah 3:19)  It'll be worth it.  I know it.
    Well wonderful people, I hope you have a great week.  Thank you all so much for your support and your love.  It means a lot, and it makes a difference.  Be good!  Remember who you are!  Have fun!

I love you all so much!
Elder Hafen