Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 78 - Post Christmas Surprises

Hello All!

    Well, Christmas was the best, as usual.  I hope it was a great day for all of you as well, especially you elders and sisters and families of elders and sisters out there.  I can't think of too many better Christmas presents than being able to be see and be with (pretty much) my family on that best day of the year.  I can't even describe how happy I was to see them again and talk to them again.  To make it all even crazier, we'll actually be with (really) each other again before I know it!  Time flies so fast, and that's just a testimony to me of how much we really have to do during this probationary life we've been given and how much I have to do in these last 6 months of my mission!  Let's do this!
Christmas was definitely the highlight of the week, but there were lots of other great things as well.  On Christmas Eve, we spent the evening with an awesome family that honestly reminded me of my own family.  There was lots of good food and fun and the Spirit was definitely there.  It made me think about how nice it will be to finally have a Christmas with my whole family back together again next year, since we haven't had one of those for six years now.  It's gonna be great. :)  We also spent some time with some pretty wonderful families on Christmas Day, and it was nice to share in some of their Christmases and the Spirit that was in their homes.  I also got to meet Diana this week.  She's a member of our YSA Branch who joined the church a few years ago, and has since become less active.  We had a really nice visit with her, and she said she'd like to get herself back in the church.  It'll be a challenge to overcome those habits that she's developed over the last few years, but I'm sure she can.
    Highlight number two from this week was a bit of a surprise Christmas gift (a couple days late).  Our branch president called us on Friday night, telling us he needed some help with something the next morning.  So, we showed up the next day to help him out with it.  He was kind of humming and hawing for a bit, and I honestly thought we were going to get in trouble for something.  Then, there was a knock at the door, and he asked me to get it.  "That's kinda weird." I thought, but I opened the door, and who was there but...Rob! 
He and Sister Paxman had figured out where I was serving, and managed to set the meeting up.  Haha, I wish someone had gotten a picture of my face when I saw them.  We had a really nice visit, and it was great to hear about Rob's progress.  He's received the priesthood now, and has been helping pass the sacrament.  He's getting pretty bored of the gospel principles class, so he'll probably be going to gospel doctrine soon.  He's also really excited to go to the temple next year, and Sister Paxman doesn't think he even needs a temple prep class since he's prepared himself so for it already.  I couldn't help but stare and smile probably the whole time.  I just can't express how blessed I've been to know the two of them as well as many of the other people the Lord has guided me to while I've been here and at home.  They (and all of you too) are truly some of the greatest blessings I've ever received.
    Well, I've got to get running now, but I hope you all have a fantastic new year this week.  Be sure to set some good goals for yourself to make sure you make the most of the time you have.  I love you all so much!  Be good!  Have fun!

Elder Hafen

Week 77 - Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!
    I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas-time, and I hope you've all felt the Spirit testify to you the real reason for this season.  It's such a great time of year to be people who know who Jesus Christ is and know that we are members of His church.  I can't wait for Thursday to be able to see my family and celebrate with them.  Because I'm pretty darn excited for that, I'm sorry if this is kind of brief.
    There's not a ton going on right now.  A lot of our work is in the YSA branch, and Christmas break isn't too conducive to teaching lessons.  To add to that, Jady, our Korean friend, flew home last week, but we're hopeful she'll keep going with the church.  It's all good, though.  I know the Lord has people for us to find and teach here.  We just have to find them.
    With the Christmas season here, Elder Macmichael and I did get the chance to hopefully share some Christmas spirit yesterday in church.  We were asked to perform a musical number, and ended up singing "Away in a Manger", which I think has become my favorite Christmas hymn.  I just wanted to share the third verse with you:

"Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there."
    That is my prayer this Christmas, and I'm grateful for everything the Savior has done to answer it for all of us.  I know that He is real, and that He does love us all so very much.  I hope we all remember Him more and more every day, especially right now as we celebrate His humble birth.
    Thank you for your love and your prayers.  Please please please have a great Christmas!  I love you all so much!

Elder Hafen

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Week 76 - Moroni 6:8

Hello All!
    I hope you're all having a Merry Christmas and are getting ready for the big day!  Only 9 days left!  I'm pretty darn excited to see my wonderful family, and I hope that will be a great present for all of you missionaries and missionary families out there.  It's crazy how much time flies, and really how weird time is.  It seems like I've been in Medicine Hat for forever and no time at the same time.  I'll be gone before I know it, but I'm so grateful to be here while I am.
    We had the opportunity to have a Christmas celebration as a mission family yesterday, with President and Sister Nicholas coming down from Calgary to visit us.  We had interviews with President first, which are always great, and then the Nicholases let us join them in the family Christmas activity they do every year.  It was a really warm and spiritual experience.  It's nice to have a family here, even though my real one is a little far away.  We even got a surprise gift in getting to see "Meet the Mormons"!  We were told a while ago that we wouldn't be able to see it when it was released in Calgary, which was a little disappointing.  But, when the Missionary Department told President that, they also sent him a screening copy to show us.  It was a fantastic film, and I would highly recommend it to anyone!
    Things are going great here in Medicine Hat.  It's been nice to have another week to get to know our area a little better and get to know the wonderful people in it!  There are some fantastic members of the church here in Medicine Hat, and I'm really grateful for the privilege to serve them.
    We had a couple of really great lessons this week.  I didn't tell you about her last week, but one of our investigators, Jady, is from Korea and is actually going back home this week.  Anyway, we were able to meet with her twice this week, and it was awesome.  She is such a sincere person, and asks some great questions.  She's so willing to listen and to act, and I'm pretty confident that she'll track down some missionaries back in Korea.  Jady also had a couple of friends here who left on Sunday, but we had some really good interactions with them also, and we're hopeful they'll make some new Mormon friends back in Korea, too.
    Jacki came to church again, as did Jady, and came to a baptism as well!  We're still not sure how interested she is in finding out for herself if this is all true, but I think she at least has some real intent.  One of her friends, Kate, is a returning member in the YSA branch, and has been a great support to her.  Kate is making really good progress, and it's been fun to work with her.  (P.S. family, she actually did some rodeos with Jade back in the day.  Small world, eh?)
    We also had a really cool privilege on Saturday afternoon.  There's a man named Joseph, who Elder Macmichael has been working with for the past little while.  Joseph was excommunicated from the church for some reason I don't and don't need to know.  He introduced himself to me my first Sunday here at church, and he impressed me as a very good and kind man.  Anyway, on Saturday, he had the opportunity to be baptized again.  It was a really beautiful service, and Joseph was walking around afterward just hugging everyone there.  There was a lot of love there.  It reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures.  It's in Moroni chapter 6, when the manner of baptism among the Nephites is being described.  (It's the same as how we do it, surprise surprise.)  Also like us, so people didn't always stay in the strait and narrow way, and if they did not repent, "their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ." (v.7)  It says something that I really love in the next verse, though. "But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven."  Just because we make a mistake, it doesn't mean that's the end.  I hope we can all seek for forgiveness with the same kind of love and humility that Joseph has.
    Thank you so much for your emails this week!  I'm definitely blessed with a lot of great people in my life.  Thank you for your love and support, and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!  Be good!  Have fun!

Elder Hafen

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Week 75 - The Hat

Hello All!
    Well transfers are done, and I'm now getting settled in the Medicine Hat 2nd Ward and YSA Branch.  So far, I'm really liking Medicine Hat, and my new companion, Elder Macmichael.  Medicine Hat (a.k.a. Med Hat, the Hat, etc.) is a city of about 60,000 people in Southeastern Alberta, about 3 hours from Calgary.  It honestly reminds me quite a bit of St. George, which is great!  Elder Macmichael is from Nova Scotia.  He came out on his mission the transfer before me, so has been out about a year and a half.  The ward and the branch are great, and I've met some awesome people.  It's been great so far, and I can't wait to see what the Lord needs me to do here.
    With only being here since Thursday, and pretty much two of those days being back up in Calgary for a meeting, I don't really know what's going on too much in the area.  A lot of our work is in the Young Single Adult Branch though, and one of our investigators, Jacki, came to church yesterday!  That was great, and I'm hopeful we'll be able to help her progress towards baptism.  Otherwise, we're just looking forward to seeing who the Lord has prepared for us to find and teach here.  It's gonna be awesome!
    I hope you were all able to see the Christmas Devotional yesterday, and if you weren't, I would highly recommend watching it!  Elder Todd D. Christofferson spoke, and shared a really beautiful story.  Basically, a community came together to give a little boy one last Christmas before he passed away this past October.  It was touching to see how individuals and groups were able to make such a huge difference in the lives of this little boy and his parents.  Hearing stories like that one may be my favorite part of Christmas, and I would invite all of us to do what we can to bring some of the Spirit of Christmas into to the lives of the people around us.  We don't have to do anything big or difficult, but I think our Heavenly Father does expect us to do something to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters.  As the Lord says in D&C 42:38,"For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me."  He's given us everything!  I think we can give him a little bit back as we serve those around us.
    I hope you all have a wonderful week!  Good luck with all that you're doing.  Thank you so much for your emails and support.  Be good!  Have fun!  Merry Christmas!

Love ya!
Elder Hafen

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Week 74 - A Sad Farewell

Hello All! 
First off, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope it was a wonderful holiday for all of you with lots of friends and family and realizing how blessed you really are.  Oh, and Pumpkin Pie.  That's pretty good too.  We weren't deprived of a good ol' American Thanksgiving, as one of our YSA members made us up a very delicious one.  I've now had 4 Thanksgivings on my mission.  Jealous much?  Haha, it's been a great week.  I'd also like to send my love to my Great Uncle Denny's family.  His funeral was this past week, and I know this isn't an easy time. 
    Well, it's transfers, and I'm off again.  I suppose I shouldn't have been expecting anything different, since I'm always in my areas for three transfers.  I'm pretty sad to go, though.  This has been a really awesome area, and I will miss it, and especially the people here, a lot.  I've learned so much here.  My testimony has been strengthened.  My conversion to the Savior has deepened.  I think I've grown quite a bit.
I'm also grateful for this new chance to learn and grow and improve, though.  I'll be transferred back to the southern part of the mission, which means I'll be quite a ways from Calgary.  I'm really excited to see where I end up, and there's even a chance that I'll go back to West Lethbridge for this Christmas. (I would be alright with that. :) )  We'll find out what happens on Thursday, and I'll let you all know next week.  Wish me luck!
    Some surprising news from this week: Lana wasn't baptized.  It's a bit of a long story, so I'll try not to leave you in suspense too long. (She should still be baptized.)  We had a lesson scheduled with Lana on Tuesday evening.  It was going to be our last lesson before the baptismal interview.  We went by, and she wasn't there.  On the door was a card from her, thanking us and the members who have fellowshipped her for everything we've done for her.  She explained in the card that her family had not been too excited to hear that she was getting baptized, and because of that persecution, she had made sure she wouldn't be there for our lesson.  We assume she told her family that she had decided not to get baptized to get them to back off.  We were a little disappointed, as you can probably imagine.  We tried getting in touch with Lana a couple times, with not luck.  Finally, on Friday night, we caught her at home.  We arranged to come back on Saturday night, and she explained everything then.  It's kind of hard for Lana to express things verbally, so she had written us a letter talking about what had happened and why she'd done what she'd done.  We were hoping her family would be understanding or even supportive, but they weren' all.  They had all turned on Lana, and done and said some pretty nasty things.  Lana was in no way resentful towards the church, and she still wanted to be baptized but everything was really hard on her.  We had a really great discussion with her, and recommitted her to baptism on the 13th of December, her birthday. :)  She came to church on Sunday, and I think everything should go according to plan this time. (knock on wood.)  Lana is great.  And I'm grateful for the chance I had to know her.
    We also had a couple of potential investigators just show up at church on Sunday.  It was kinda cool.  We'll hope things work out with them.
I wanted to write today about the blessing of each other.  D&C 18:15 is a scripture a lot of people use for missionary work, and something interesting about it stood out to me.  The verse says, "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"  How great shall be your joy with them. This life was never meant to be one we went through on our own, and the next one isn't either.  I hope and pray that I will be able to see and be with and have joy with each and every one of you, and each and every one of the people the Lord has blessed me to know on my mission.  I'm trying to be better about loving everyone right now, and I encourage you all to do the same.  There is so much to love in every single person.  Are we not all children of God, with the very real potential to become like him?
    I love you all so much!  I hope you have a fantastic day, and that your week is great, too.  Be good!  Have fun!
Merry Christmas!
Elder Hafen