Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I love being Mormon.

Dearest Mother and all ya'll,

A lot has happened this past week! My district... shrunk. A lot. We originally had 3 companionships of Elders and a threesome of Sisters. Suffice it to say that one companionship was switched to Mandarin and an Elder from the other companionship was sent home for reasons unexplained. He says it's a 4-6 month delay, and will be back. We certainly hope so! We were very sad to see him go; the whole district is now composed of a threesome of Elders and a threesome of Sisters. It felt tedious at first to be in a threesome, but it has turned out to be a blessing. We are learning a lot from each other on how to teach effectively and share time with each other. Trying to do it in Cantonese.... well, haha. It's good we are learning how to do it now. It'll be a blessing to know how the system works in Hong Kong whenever my companion and I decide to bring a member with us to teach.

Whew! It smells like exhaustion here in the MTC. I swear I don't get it-- during the day sometimes I can more easily fall asleep sitting in a chair than when I'm actually laying in bed at night. But I'm happy to be exhausted. It makes me feel like I'm working hard, and that's what I'm here to do!

Thank you for all the letters to those of you who have sent me them so far! I get SO happy when I have mail. I have plenty of personal time later today in which I will try to respond. But thank you so much, it's comforting to hear from all of you!

This week we have really focused on the "How to Begin Teaching" portion of PMG. Those first few moments are so important with your investigator; you want them to know that you're there to share something with them that will bless their lives beyond their capacity to even comprehend and to establish a relationship of trust and friendship immediately. The Lord prepares both sides of the equation; He knows all of His children and the meeting is prepared. How important is it then that we as missionaries establish that relationship of love and trust in the first few moments when the investigator is already our friend? Our brother or sister? I've learned in my practices how to really make the experience real; and it is so amazing how real it is the love I feel for the investigator, and how much I want them to understand their Heavenly Father's love for them... With every passing day everything appeas more eternal than it was before. But I guess it always has been.

That just leads me into thoughts I've been frequenly having the past week: Missionary work is an act of receiving every bit as much as an act of giving. I'd venture to say that at times it's heavier on the receiving side! In every missionary's call there is a line that says something like, "Greater blessings and happiness then you have yet received await you as you serve faithfully...." It's so true. These rushing feelings of joy that we as missionaries feel every single day, even in the Training Center, are so worth it. I am convinced at the reality of God, and in the reality of Christ. The Holy Ghost just doesn't stop when you consecrate your life to the Lord! Anybody who feels like the "rules" or the "limitations" of the gospel stop them from being completely happy don't realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the epitome of liberty! Every door is open. Never stop reading the scriptures. WHOA. Does anybody realize how many scriptures there are for the benefit of mankind? It has dawned on me as I have delved into them out here. One verse... Even a LINE of one verse can change a person's life. And how many pages of scripture do we have? If you aren't reading them, then how can you be free to understand the blessings of God? It's all right there in front of us. Wow. I love being Mormon. It's so legit. Because it's true.

People ask really hard questions. We are admonished to first seek to obtain the word and then to preach it. It has slapped me in the face how much Word obtaining I have to do. I'm so glad I have 12 weeks in the MTC. Even what seems to be the simplest of questions that I thought I had the answer to really aren't that simple.

I've learned something about receiving personal revelation that I wish to share with you all. Revelation is not constant confirmation about every little thing. The point of seeking revelation is the process you go through to receive it. When Joseph Smith first read the scripture in James 1:5, he thought time and again about praying before he did. Much of the revelation process actually happened before he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. We can't expect to always be at the point of "seeing" in revelation because it is a process. Some of the greatest "revelations" we receive happen during that process, so you're always expecting your personal vision in the woods you may end up compromising your small inclinations to do good -- and THAT is what helps people progress. So just do, and do it for the Lord, and He will always be there to back you up. After all, was it not a revelation in and of itself when Joseph Smith had the thought, "if any person needed wisdome from God, I did."

I love you all, and please keep in touch!


Elder Hazen

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First week at the MTC!

Hello Mom and everyone!

Wow.. I'm on a mission. We aren't really given all that much time to do emails, so I'll try and sum up my experience so far sufficiently and concisely.

My District has hit the ground running on Cantonese -- that's how they do it here! You walk into your classroom and you hardly hear a word of English for the next 3 hours. I love it. The gift of tongues is a real thing; I can already pray, bear my testimony, and retain a long chain of vocabulary in Cantonese and I've been here for 6 days! It's amazing; we all feel like our capacity to fill our memory caverns has peaked beyond the usual limit. And, for the record, Cantonese is just seriously legit. There's no other way to put it.

I've been given a new name. You may, if you wish, call me Hah Jeunglouh (upward accent over the e and the o to represent a middle rising and a low rising tone respectively). In English, this would be Elder Hah. I tried to explain this to my branch president, and he said he'd never remember my name. So I just said "I'm Elder Hahahahahah" and figured he'd remember. It suits me just fine; I'm filled with laughter and joy in the service of God!

I've been called as District Leader over the Cantonese portion of our Branch. It was overwhelming at first, being asked to take responsibility over other missionaries while frantically trying to figure out how to teach a lesson in Cantonese after being here for two days only. But I'm grateful for the call to leadership so early, because it has really solidified my focus. The responsibility to be an example and look out for my fellow missionaries is helping me immediately focus on my purpose and how to be the best missionary possible. That's what I'm here for, right?

Teaching the lessons in Cantonese have been difficult, but very interesting and very fun. A lot of the time we'll sit there and stare when we have no idea what our "investigator" just asked us. But I've truly learned already that it is NOT eloquence that brings people to the Gospel; it's sincerity. I remember looking at A-wai (investigator) and trying really hard to explain in Cantonese how I knew the BoM was true. It wasn't working, and because my companion and I were spending so much time trying to explain something that our abilities in the language wouldn't allow, the Spirit seemed to be waning. So I looked into his eyes and said, "Ngoh jidou, ngoh jidou..... Ngohdeih jidou." It means, "I know, I know... we know." I said I didn't understand Cantonese enough to tell him how, but that we knew. I could feel the Spirit teaching in that moment through my sincerity, not my eloquence. Eloquence, at that moment, was impossible. But sincerity is never impossible.

Missionary work is difficult! You NEVER know what to expect as you step into another person's life; thier experiences and background is always going to be unfathomable to you because the experiences that have created them are almost always vastly different than our own. We alone cannot fathom or understand any one person. We must rely on an omniscient God to help us really serve, because only He knows the needs of all men. I'm learning here what it really means to let the Lord go before me and direct my path.

Last night one of the Sisters in our District asked for a blessing because she was feeling sick and in need of comfort. She asked if I would give it. It was the first blessing I've given as a missionary... We really are set to a higher plane. I can't remember what I said, but I remember how I felt. Never in my life have I felt the Spirit so strongly as I gave a blessing. It felt as if power was surging through me and God was speaking His everlasting words of comfort through me; I could feel His love for our Sister. The priesthood really IS the power of God. To have that power and authority is such a blessing, and experiences like that convince me ever more that God is real, and that He loves us all in a very individual way. His love is pure joy, and you can always feel it if you open your heart to it and are worthy to receive it.

I love the MTC.


Elder Hazen