Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Become as a Little Child

Leih sihkjo faahn meih a?! (translation for mom-- Have you eaten yet?!) ((Common Cantonese greeting in Hong Kong))

"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kindom of heaven." (Matt 18:1-4)

I love this scripture. Something I've been thinking about lately is about the character of a little child. Mosiah 3:19 carefully goes over a few of them, but one quality that has stuck out to me is their inherent and unexhaustive ability to spout of questions! Questions are extremely important to me. So often I think we accept what we are given without asking why or how. I know that in life everyone goes through phases of looking back on their life to re-evaluate everything they've ever learned and ever been taught, to wonder how they got to the point that they are now. I know I am in one of those phases of my own life; I am frequently having the most random memories of my past and realizing how my experiences are merely puzzle pieces that are put together one by one, day by day. The joy I have knowing in retrospect why I have had these experiences is shaping my transition to become a better person. That's why I believe it is so important to ask questions, and to ask them to God. God is a God of intelligence, and He does unfold His mysterious to His children. But we HAVE to act. Pray like crazy. Read the scriptures. Do what He asks. Find joy in the simplicity of God's instructions -- for in their simplicity you will find the truly profound. I can promise you that, because I experience it every day. Do not be afraid to ask why or how. I believe that the way we learn best is not to walk into church, into a temple, into a gospel related class, or by the edge of your bed at night and expect God to give us revelation. Always come with a question prepared like a curious child who is willing to believe on the things they are taught, and God will only give.

Thank you for the emails, Mom, Dad, and Trevor! Zach, I expect I'll hear from you soon then? Ask mom about DearElder. Then I can get it during the week. Sorry to hear about your experience at Banff; but I must say I admire the creativity. Tell me a little something something about it. Brian/Katie, how is everything?

So, my companionship and I have run into a bit of... bad luck, this week. Suffice it to say that one of our investigators dropped us.... In the MTC. It was very discouraging at first. You see, in my pride, I initially see it to be something extremely sad that I can't retain an investigator in the MTC, where they are merciful to their missionaries who struggle to speak the language. I didn't expect it to happen, but I realize now that it makes sense. We had at least 12 lessons with him and we never really got him to commit to anything. Perhaps we didn't find his true needs or help him realize the relevance of the gospel to him personally.

But now I see it as an opportunity. I know I'm called to this work, and that God will provide. I want to help people so badly! It continues to be a struggle every time I realize how difficult it can be. How truly little I know. But I have faith that I will learn how to better teach this gospel, and that my companionship will learn as well, so we can teach together in unity through the Spirit. I said above how I recall memories of my past frequently, and how they give me insight to who I am and how I've been shaped. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for the great blessings I've been given. I'm grateful for a mind to learn from the mistakes I've made and the shortcomings I've had and continue to have.

Opposition and imperfection are necessary to achieve freedom and perfection. I know that repentance is a huge step in moving forward; repentance should NEVER be something to regard with negativity. It is continually and constantly allowing yourself to change in accordance to God's will to become BETTER. To become more WILLING to mourn with those that mourn and to comfort those that stand in need of comfort. As disappointing as it is to lose an investigator (as if I even knkow what it means to face rejection yet, haha) I'm grateful that God is providing the opportunity to step it up a notch. Shoot, I'll step it up three!

Personal study is my FAVORITE time of the day. It's my personal time with God. I cannot even believe how much I can get out of one verse of scripture, and then go back to it a week later and see something different. God speaks, and the heavens are not sealed! It is my hope that the Spirit will teach through my words, whether written or spoken. I invite you all to open your hearts, write your questions down, and go to God. Have faith and trust in Him, and never "lean unto your own understanding" because I promise that will always change. But I can witness with the energy of my heart, as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ, that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I love you all and wish you the best. Be strong, and press forward!


Elder Hazen

P.S. Is President and Sister Ludwig (Nauvoo) getting my emails? I would love to contact them or hear from them.

P.P.S. Ok seriously. Tyler and Abby. ELWOOD. You have five days to get me a letter announcing yourselves to me, and I'll pretend like I didn't hear it from somebody else 2 WEEKS ago.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why do you need the gospel?

Leih hou Mom and everybody!

Time is really starting to fly. The english speaking districts who were with us from the beginning are moving out and tomorrow we'll have new sets of Elders coming in. I swear the first 3 days here felt like an eternity, and now 3 weeks later I feel like I've barely been here. Maybe time is becoming less of an illusion now because 3 weeks really isn't that long.

Last tuesday night there was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the MTC; Elder Holland and Elder Nelson came to speak to us. Elder Nelson spoke about the history of the MTC and missionary work since the beginning of the Church's restoration. He relayed to us the story of Dan Jones who went to Wales and baptized by the thousands. He would advertise weeks in advance to different places that he would be coming to convert the town. Upon saying that, Elder Nelson paused, looked at us and said, "Try that." It was funny, but at the same time I remember thinking how that is exactly the kind of thing I want to do. Who knows what Hong Kong has in store.

I realize I haven't spoke of my companions that much, and I feel bad. Elder Welker was originally my companion-- he's half Japanese and a wicked smart kid. I actually met him last semester in my Physics class, so it was interesting to be paired up with him. Elder Passey makes the threesome, and he's a genuine Elder with a big heart. He loves basketball. He likes to beatbox for me while I sing hymns around the MTC's hallowed grounds.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about sincere prayer and how to pray with "real intent." Preach My Gospel defines praying with real intent as praying with a willingness and commitment to act on the answer we receive. One of our investigator's asked us, "Why should I begin praying now when my life is good and I've never prayed before?" It's a very interesting question; oftentimes people who are interested in the gospel in the first place are those who already recognize that there is something missing and that it can help them. I think I forget sometimes that everybody regardless of how good their life is going need the gospel in their lives. It has caused me to reflect more on why I need the gospel in my own life. I invite you all to take the time and write down the question "Why do I need the gospel?" and then answer. Then write "Why do I love the gospel?" I think most of you will be surprised at the answers you find.

We've been learning how to be more specific in our daily planning; I've never been so precise in writing down every little thing that I'm going to do every single minute of the day. I should have listened to you, Mom and Dad, it's tedious but I seriously get so much done.

I wish to share a short experience I had earlier this week. In everything that we've been doing, my companions and I have, as I mentioned before, been getting very exhausted. Sometimes exhaustion allows the adversary to work on you; to make you short and terse with one another, quick to snap, and argumentative. After a short confrontation, I felt very displeased with myself for allowing it to become contentious. I felt lacking in spirit and just broken after a hard day's cramming of language and gospel study into my brain. I went to a corner and just prayed to Heavenly Father and quietly pleaded for Him to soften my heart. I felt a calm and rushing energy envelope me as I began to ask for forgiveness of a contentious heart. You may have heard before the phrase "chastised by the Spirit." I think I understand what it means now. My mind began to be flooded with thoughts of love, telling me to be still and forget my pride. I sat there quietly and let the feeling linger as I truly felt my soul chastened. Then one of my favorite scriptures came into my head, Alma 29:1-3, 6. Read them. I feel as if I've come into the mission with the idea that I would be the perfect and best missionary in the world, to call the world to repentance. I've been working so hard, but as I think we all sometimes forget, we cannot do a great work without the Lord's help. I am just a man, and will be content with what the Lord has allotted me.

Many may have heard the saying "with great power comes great responsibility." Being out here has really changed that for me, and if it won't offend anyone, I'd like to change the rhetoric slightly: With great responsibility comes great power. The Lord has given each of us missionaries a great responsibility to bear not only their witness, but an apostolic witness of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as they carry the title of Elder. I have felt this power in the little time that I've been here, and I want you all to know that Jesus Christ does indeed live, that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Son, and that God speaks. To all of us. It is our duty to know for ourselves and to pray with real intent. The answer is there, if you are willing to listen and to act on the answer you receive. We all need a Savior, and I know more than ever that I need Him.

Ngoh ngoi leihdeih,
Elder Hazen