Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Week 95 - Sailing the Prairies

Hello All!

    Well it's been a great week here in beautiful southern Alberta!  I first want to congratulate my wonderful Mother and my Aunt DeeDee for their concert at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake this weekend.  I know they did a beautiful job in a beautiful place.
    Things are pretty fantastic here.  We've had a fun and busy week running all over Southern Alberta, it seems like, which has been awesome!  We had some good lessons with a few less actives in our wards, but sadly weren't able to see any of our investigators.  As a result of that, and him not making it to church again, we've dropped Johnny's baptismal date for the time being.  We should be seeing him tonight at Family Home Evening, though, so we'll hopefully be able to get him back on track for that.  Our other lessons were good, though, and I'll try to give you a quick update on everything we've been up to.
    We had the chance on Wednesday to drive out to Taber, Alberta to teach a guy named Denim.  Denim has had some health issues that delayed some plans I think he had to serve a mission, and he's fallen into inactivity in the meantime.  It was nice to be able to go out and see him.  As we were leaving that lesson, we got a text from someone else we had tried to set a lesson up with, who told us we could come by that night.  That was at about 5, and we scheduled the lesson for 6...in Raymond...a bit over an hour away...yeah.  (In our defense, we didn't realize she lived in Raymond at the time.)  Haha, it ended up just fine, and we had a good visit with her.  We also got to meet with Tanner and Tyler that night, and had a really spiritual lesson with them about the Savior and His life.
    We also met with a girl named Yvette this week for the first time.  She expressed a lot of her concerns to us about feeling judged in the church and not feeling welcome in the YSA ward, and I was definitely tempted to judge her harshly for that, but I realized that that's just the way she feels.  I'm not sure why, and she likely has a few good reasons.  I think the best thing we could do, and I think tried our best to do, is show her love.  I think that's something Heavenly Father is helping me learn a lot about in teaching so many less actives here, and I'm grateful for that opportunity.
    Another awesome part of this week was having zone conference down in Cardston.  It was a great opportunity to be taught by our leaders and feel the Spirit teaching us what we needed to learn, and I was definitely spiritually fed!  Something I learned there, and in my study, is just how much of a blessing repentance and the Atonement is to us.  I started to read the book of Isaiah this morning, which was great!  The first chapter of Isaiah is really interesting, because a majority of it is the Lord telling Israel about the wicked and apostate state they'd degraded to, and how their offerings to Him were vain because of their wickedness.  It's a very powerful chapter of scripture, especially because of what the Lord tells them in verses 16-19: 
   "16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
    17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed,judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
   18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
   19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:"
    It doesn't matter how bad we've been in the past.  It doesn't matter what shade of red we've stained our souls.  Through the incredible gift of repentance, we can be washed clean and filled with the glorious light of the gospel.  We can be filled with peace and love and joy, and I know that that's been true for myself.  I hope and pray that none of us ever feel like we're to far gone to repent and receive the blessings of the gospel.
    Thank you all for everything!  I love you all a lot!  Have a great week and be sure to remember how much your Heavenly Father loves you.  Be good!  Have fun!
Elder Hafen

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 94 - Busy Bees

Hey All!
    Well it's been a crazy week, with lots happening, and I'll try to give you a quick recap:
     Monday- P Day was fun.  The new zone is awesome.  We had dinner with a recent convert named Lakshjit, who has an awesome conversion story. (Basically, he was a total atheist, and after a conversation with a friend of his, spent most of a vacation on mormon.org.  He came home, split up with his girlfriend, stopped smoking and drinking, met with the missionaries, and got baptized.)  He's a great guy, and it's been cool to see how much someone can change through the power of the Atonement and faith in Christ.  Family Home Evening was fun, and it was nice to actually be able to meet some more members of our wards.
     Tuesday- Had a couple of great lessons and a great meeting.  One of our lessons was with Johnny, and investigator who is a former Hudderite. (Hudderites are kinda like Amish people, though they do use some technology and live a communal lifestyle.)  We didn't have too much time to meet with him, but it was a spirit-filled lesson, and he agreed to be baptized on the 9th of May.  Our meeting that night was with Brother Pierson, the High Councilor over missionary work in the stake, and it was inspiring!  Brother Pierson and the Stake President are on the ball here, and I'm so excited to be working with them.
     Wednesday- More lessons.  Taught a few less actives, which was interesting.  YSAs are pretty interesting sometimes in how dramatically they differ.  It was a good day, though!
     Thursday- More less active lessons.  We met with one couple, Sam and Bernie, who are super awesome!  They live in the same house, but aren't married yet, so we're trying to help that happen.  They're great people, however, and it was a really cool experience to hear their testimonies and share ours with them in return.
     Friday- Lots of service.  We were asked, as a zone, to help out with a Provincial gymnastics championship that was going on at the college.  We spent quite a bit of time there on Friday and Saturday.  We also met with another investigator, Tumelo, which was...interesting.  Tumelo has a protestant background, and is very confident in his beliefs.  He also seemed to have looked up quite a few anti-mormon tidbits.  It was a good experience if just for the fact that I realized a little more the importance of knowing the truth of spiritual things through spiritual means.  That's just how it works, not matter how tempting it is to "prove" what we believe with facts and figures.
     Saturday- More gymnastics competition.  Sadly had a couple of lessons fall through, one which was supposed to be with Johnny.  We did, however, have an awesome dinner with a pretty stellar group of YSAs.  It was really fun to talk to them about their missions and life, and to connect with them.
     Sunday- The Sabbath is always awesome.  I was definitely surrounded by a lot of unfamiliar faces, but I met a lot of awesome people and made some good connections.  We also met with Dustin, another investigator whose girlfriend is a less active member.  Dustin's in a pretty tough situation as far as the gospel goes, because he works in Northern Alberta for four weeks at a time.  It was a good lesson, though, and we definitely learned a lot more about him.
    Overall, things are pretty great!  I'm excited to be here, and to be serving the YSAs of Lethbridge, and the Lord.  I don't have too much time left, but something I've been relearning, and something I want to invite all of us to remember, is "there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began". (Alma 26:35)  We know who we are.  We know who our Heavenly Father is.  And we know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the source of real happiness.  Let's embrace that happiness as we embrace the Gospel in its entirety. 
    I love you all!  Thank you for your love, support, emails, and prayers.  They all help a lot!  Have a great week!  Be good!  Have fun!
Elder Hafen

Week 93 - Blown Back to the Windy City

Hey All!
    Well transfers has brought lot of new changes!  I'm now back in Lethbridge, Alberta, serving in the London Road and Victoria Park YSA Wards. 
My new companion is Elder Averett from Yuma, Arizona.  He's awesome.  The area's awesome.  Things are generally awesome.  Another cool thing, our area actually covers Raymond, and the 12th Ward (Now Willowbrook Ward) is in our zone.  It's been pretty awesome to already see some familiar faces and get to know the members and missionaries and others I've been called to serve here.  I'm excited to be here!  
    I don't know if I ever mentioned it when I was here before, but Lethbridge is very windy.  Very windy.  It's nice, though, as it's a warm wind and it reminds me that I need a haircut.  I've had a lot of opportunity to get to know the city a little better in the last few days as we've been running around from different appointments and teaching some awesome people.  We're working with a lot of less active members in this area right now, and it's awesome.  A lot of these less actives that we're meeting with are progressing really well, and something I love about working with young adults is how humble a lot of them are.  Since this is a pretty strong area of the church, a lot of them have been raised in the church and fallen away for various reasons.  However, they have such strong foundations in the gospel, and it's so great to be able to help them build on those.  One, Braden, is doing really well after coming home from a mission early.  A lot of his friends are starting to come back, and he has a really sincere desire to get back to the temple.  Another one, Kim, is struggling quite a lot with health and family issues, and is pretty discouraged by it all.  We were able to help remind her of the love her Heavenly Father has for her and give her a blessing, though.  I've only met a few of our members and others we're working with, but I'm loving them already, and I can't wait to get more and more familiar with everyone and everything.
    This weekend we also had the opportunity to have Stake Conference here in the Lethbridge Stake, and it was a really edifying experience.  The stake theme is something like "seeking daily guidance", and the messages taught me a lot about that.  I've realized in the past few days how much God really does listen to us and bless us as we try to put forward our best efforts.  If you need help with something or aren't sure what to do, "Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (D&C 4:7)  I testify that our Heavenly Father loves us the most and knows us the best.  He wants us to be truly happy, and He'll help us all find that happiness as we seek it and ask for His help in finding it.
    Thank you all for your emails and love and support.  I'm excited for these last couple of months, and I hope to serve the Lord with all of my might, mind, heart, and strength so that I can return to all of you in honor.  Have a wonderful week!  Be good!  Have fun!
Love ya!
Elder Hafen

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Week 92 - #LDSconf

Hello all!
   Another week has come and gone, and another transfer has, too.  Believe it or not, I've been here in Medicine Hat for my customary three transfers, and I'm off to a new area once more.  I'll be staying in the southern part of the mission, and will probably either end up in Lethbridge, Cardston, or British Columbia.  We'll find out for sure on Thursday, and I'll probably be off to my last area for this last stretch of my mission.
    I've loved it here in Medicine Hat, and it will be hard to say good bye to the wonderful people I've gotten to know here.  It really is a great place with lots of really good people.  My time here has gone by way too fast.  It's been a good week, and we got the opportunity to meet with Eva again, which is always fun.  We had a good lesson on the Plan of Salvation, and as she shared some experiences with us, it was cool to see how God has had His plan for her specifically within His grand Plan of Happiness for all of us.  Some of our other lessons fell through, but in our attempts to try to contact the part member families in our ward, we actually got to go and see one!  Marie, who is a less active member, and Bob O. are super nice people.  They were more than happy to have us over, and we shared #BecauseHeLives with them.  They really liked it, and we had a nice conversation with them.  However, Marie wasn't terribly interested in coming back to church, which is a bummer, but alas.
    I hope you all enjoyed General Conference.  The first weekends of April and October are especially exciting as a missionary, but I hope you all got a lot of out it too!  I loved so many of the talks, but I especially loved President Uchtdorf's talk in the Sunday morning session entitled, "The Gift of Grace".  I don't have too much more time, but I'd like to share a bit of it with you. "'for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.' However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.”  I hope we can all remember that, though we can bring about much righteousness in our lives, we cannot save ourselves.  We can never do enough of ourselves.  Jesus Christ is the only name whereby we can return to our Heavenly Father, and I just hope we all learn to love Him and serve Him and believe in Him as much as we can in gratitude for His sacrifice that made that salvation possible.  I love Him so much, and I'm so grateful for His perfect love for each one of us.
    Have a wonderful week, and I'll be sure to let you know where I end up!  Thanks for all of your love and emails and support.  You're the best!  Be good!  Have fun!

Elder Hafen