Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 91 - He Is Risen

Happy Easter, everyone!
    I know it's not technically Easter yet, but since I don't get to talk to you every day, that's the best I can do.  I hope you're all excited for this wonderful week and holiday!  What a great time to not only remember the Savior, but share His love with those around us as well.  Speaking of, you should definitely check out #Because He Lives if you haven't yet. 
    To make it even better, we have the chance to hear from special witnesses of Jesus Christ this weekend in General Conference!  I love conference so much, and I want to invite all of us to go and listen with a question/questions in mind.  I know the Lord speaks through His prophets today, and I know He'll speak directly to us if we'll listen for what He has for us.
    It's been another great week here in the Canada Calgary Mission.  We had a great lesson with Jason and Brenda this week, where we talked a lot about our agency and the importance of committing ourselves to living the gospel.  They really opened up towards the end of our time there, and Jason especially expressed his desire to do better than he has in the past.  They haven't had a ton of support in living the gospel in the past, and we're hoping to change that with the help of the ward.
    Sadly, our other lessons this week fell through, but we're looking forward to a great and busy week this week!  With Easter and the #BecauseHeLives initiative, we've been sharing a dinner message with members that I'd like to share with you, too.  In 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 it says,
      "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
    Because we're in a fallen state, we will all die one day.  Because we all sin, we all suffer spiritual death, or separation from God, as well.  I know that Jesus Christ is the only way that those deaths are overcome.  He conquered them for us, and now we just have to follow him to the ultimate victory.  I'm so grateful for Him, and I can't wait to return to the presence of my Heavenly Father through my Savior, Jesus Christ.  
    Thanks for the emails and everything you all do for me.  Have a great week!  Be good!  Have fun! 
(Watch Conference!)
Elder Hafen

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Week 90 - A Proclamation‏

Hello All!
    Spring has sprung and I'm definitely ready for it!  I hope you've all had a great week, and I'm grateful for your emails and kindness.  You're the best!  I was sad to hear about the passing of President Grey Larkin this week.  A lot of you didn't know President Larkin, but he was a great man, and a righteous servant of God who I looked up to a lot.  He'll definitely be missed.
    Things are great in The Hat, and we were quite a bit busier this week teaching more less active members of our ward, though we still haven't been blessed with any new investigators to teach yet.  Jason and Brenda, who we've met with before, are doing well, though Jason just got laid off from his job, which is tough.   A lot of families are having to deal with that right now due to the slump in oil prices. (At least, that's what I think it is, with my very limited access to news.)  We were able to teach them about the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith this week, which I love to teach.  How blessed are we to have the fullness of the restored gospel in our lives?
    We also started meeting with Sarah, who was baptized a few years ago, but hasn't been out for a while and struggles with some health issues.  We'll hopefully be able to start seeing her at church some more.  Another less active brother we tried to start teaching this week, Steve, wasn't so interested in coming back, but it gave us a great opportunity to testify to him that he truly has a Father in Heaven who loves him so dearly, no matter what we do or have done.
    Eva was doing pretty well this week, though struggling with her health.  A lot of her health problems have been caused by her smoking habit, which she seems to be starting to overcome!  Boo yah!  She even had a non-member friend at our lesson this week, Dave, who we gave a blessing to.  We actually gave a blessing to both he and Eva, and it was a great experience.  We gave him a couple of pamphlets at the end of the lesson, and it turns out he already had one.  I was a little caught off guard, thinking that maybe he'd been given some Jehovah Witness stuff, but it turns out he'd found a Book of Mormon and pamphlet that I'd forgotten in the front entrance of the nursing home they live in a couple weeks ago.  That was a pretty miraculous mistake.  Hopefully he'll be interested in learning more in the future.
    This weekend we also had the privilege of being a part of the Medicine Hat Stake Conference.  Elder Donald Deshler of the 70 was visiting, and it was a great conference with a lot learned.  One thing that I gained a new appreciation for in particular was the family.  Elder Deshler invited us all to read, ponder, and pray about "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", and I took him up on that.  (I invite all of you to do the same, too!) I also want to testify that that truly is an inspired document, and that we need to commit ourselves to protecting the family.  It really is ordained of God!  Our family members aren't just people we're related to, they're people we can be with forever in unimaginable joy!  They're people who have helped and who help us become who our Heavenly Father wants us to be.  They're also people we have a responsibility toward to help and bless and serve.  I want to thank my wonderful family for being so wonderful to me.  They've all helped me become better, and they've all served and loved me so much.  I especially want to thank my good and righteous parents for doing all they've done to create such a loving home for all of us.  I've been so incredibly blessed with the family I have.
    I hope you're all having a great day, and that you have a great week.  Thanks again.  Remember to smile!  Be good!  Have fun!

Elder Hafen

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week 89 - Sunny Medicine Hat

Hey All!
    Well there's not too much to update you on this week.  I first want to give a welcome home to Elder Brad Hauck.  Thanks for your example, man, and way to return with honor.  
   It's been another great week in Medicine Hat.  Jackets were a rarity this week with some beautiful, sunny, springesque days.  Tracting when it's nice outside is pretty glorious, and a nice change.  Sadly, despite some good time put in knocking on lots of doors, we didn't find any new friends to teach and invite to baptism.  A lot of our other appointments fell through this week, which is pretty typical in missionary life.  However, we did finally get in to see this less-active couple we've been stopping by since I got here, and had a nice lesson with them.  They have a goal to get to the temple and be sealed.  I really hope we can keep meeting with them and help them get there.
    We also had the chance to have a zone meeting on charity this week, which was a big learning opportunity for me.  In preparing for it, I read a really cool statement in Preach My Gospel chapter 6 on charity. "When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all you can to serve others and help them receive the restored gospel." ( I highly recommend studying that section, by the way.)  To me, having charity sounds like a pretty big problem solver.  When we have charity, we're going to do the things we're supposed to do and we'll be a blessing to those around us.  Obedience plus service equals happiness in my books.  Don't get me wrong, it's a quest to develop the kind of unconditional and perfect love our Father in Heaven and Christ possess, but I know that it's worth the effort.  Pray for help.  Serve others.  Try to understand them.  It's worth it to love like God loves and see others as He sees them.
    I hope you all have a beautiful week.  Never forget you have a Father in Heaven who loves you more than you could know.  Be good!  Have fun!

Elder Hafen

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 88 - Things to Act and Things to Be Acted Upon

Hello All!

Quite a lot happened this week, and I don't have much time left to email, so I'll try to fill you in.
  Tuesday brought one of my favorite parts of my mission: interviews!  It's always a great opportunity to sit down with President Nicholas and learn from him and his experience in the gospel.  I taught me some things I definitely needed to learn and gave me some encouragement that I really appreciated.  I've had a couple of opportunities this week to have the Spirit testify to me that he really is the man the Lord wanted to lead this mission at this time, and I'm trying harder to truly sustain him and my other leaders.  I feel so blessed to be part of a kingdom where our leaders are chosen by someone infinitely more wise than we sometimes are.
   We had a couple lessons this week with some awesome people.  Jason and Brenda seem to be understanding more and more, but they missed church again yesterday.  Brenda was apparently not feeling well.  Eva is doing well, and seems to be different, in a good way, every time we go there, according to her home teacher.  We also had the chance to meet with one of our YSA members who was baptized a couple of years ago.  His name is Brandon, and he's decided to start going to another church.  It was interesting to talk with him, and I don't know his story very well, but from what he said, it seemed like he was almost compelled to be baptized, even though he had some testimony issues.

   Now, I really don't know what happened, but his story lends itself really well to something I've been learning a lot about in the past days.  In 2 Nephi chapter 2, verse 14 it says,"And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon."  God's creations are pretty well separated into agents and objects. (things to act and things to be acted upon)  An object I think about a lot is a rock.  You can do whatever you will to a rock, and it will react.  An object can't do anything of itself.  We, however, are definitely agents.  When God created us, He gave us the priceless gift of moral agency; the ability to choose for ourselves.  Something I struggle with is being too much of an object.  Somebody does something I don't like, for instance, and I react by becoming angry or offended or whatever.  The thing is, I choose to do that.  I'm willingly giving up my freedom to gratify my natural man, but what kind of life is that?  Is it really worth it to feel a little bit of smug satisfaction if you're becoming a slave?  Is it really worth it to elevate myself above others if my heart just gets harder and harder and less able to feel the happiness the gospel brings?  This has been a valuable lesson for me personally, and I can truly testify that God intends "that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama." (D. Todd Christofferson)  We can choose whether to act or be acted upon.
   I love you all!  I hope you have a fantastic week.  Thank you so much for your love and support. 
Be good!  Have fun!
Elder Hafen

Week 87 - Business As Usual

Hello All!
    Another transfer has passed us by, and the Medicine Hat zone has got some great new missionaries.  It's gonna be a great transfer, and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store.  It's been a fun and busy week with missionaries leaving, missionaries coming, and everything else going on in our area.  Things are good.
    There have been some miracles and some disappointments as far as finding the people the Lord has prepared for us this week.  I'll let you know right off the bat that Michelle is no longer interested in meeting with us.  Our second lesson with her fell through, so we called to set up another one, and she let us know that she had a couple of churches she was looking into joining, and I guess we weren't on the list.  However, in testimony meeting yesterday, the non-member wife of a returning member got up to bear her testimony of prayer, and said something like "though I'm not a member...yet." I really admired her courage in getting up to say what she said, and we're working with the ward to see if she does have interest in meeting with us at the moment.  We will see!  There was also a young woman in the ward who apparently has a friend we gave a Book of Mormon to while tracting, and may be interested!
    Otherwise, we're working with some awesome less-actives right now.  One couple we've met with a couple of times, Jason and Brenda, seem to be especially enthusiastic about coming back to church.  They haven't made it yet, for a variety of reasons, but we're hopeful that will change soon.  We also started meeting with an older woman named Eva this week who was baptized several years ago by a senior couple, but stopped coming for health and other reasons.  Her home teacher invited her to meet with us a few weeks ago to take the lessons again, and she accepted!  So, we started to do that this week, and it was a really cool experience to see the Spirit influencing her.  It's been a great blessing to see the Lord soften hearts so that they can receive His Spirit.
    In our bible study class last week, we reviewed Acts 17 and a scripture I already knew stood out to me a little more.  In chapter 17, Paul is preaching to the Athenians about the nature of God, and teaches them this: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (v. 28)  Something else I've realized as a missionary is how important our immediate family relationships and experiences are, and that the family really is the best possibly place to learn things like love, communication, patience, forgiveness, fun, and lots of other great things too.  No matter what happens in our families, there's still love, and I wonder what would happen if we all realized more and more that each and every person on earth really is a son or daughter of God, and therefore, that we all are really brothers and sisters, one big family.  How would that change the way we treat each other?  How quick would we be to forgive?  How much heartache and hate and envy could be avoided?  I ask those questions because I'm not terribly good at seeing my brothers and sisters for who they truly are, but I hope to get a lot better at it, and I hope to make the people around me one big happy family.
    I hope you all have a fantastic week!  I'm so grateful for your love and emails.  It really means a lot to hear from you all.  Be good!  Have fun!

Love ya,
Elder Hafen