Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Goodbye MTC, Hello Fragrant Harbor

Leih sihkjo faahn meih a?! Ngoh heui Heung Gong! (Have you eaten yet? I'm going to Hong Kong!)

To confirm, the MTC Choir will be singing in the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference. Record it. The likelihood of you seeing my face is large apparently, they ask the cameramen specifically to cover the faces of all the missionaries so that all of our mom's have ample opportunity to weep. We'll see how that turns out. Oh, Elder Steele is also in the choir. Such a funny guy, I run into him here all the time. In fact, this morning when we all went to breakfast after choir practice, I came to my table and he was just sitting there with my companion. He shrugged and said, "Lost my companion." Haha! But I guess that's not supposed to be funny. He found him.

Mom, thanks for replying to my billion questions. I know I send you an overload of things to respond to. And as for my blog, I don't know what to name it. Seek revelation on that or something. "Learning to fly in the Orient" sounds good, although the stereotype may be unappreciated. Don't do that. Brian can think of a good one.

I think I received a letter from every person in my immediate family this week, including Katie and the kids! And then plenty of very good friends. I loved hearing from all of you, and will do my best to reply in due time!

I'm leaving to Hong Kong in less than a week now -- it's official. Mom, apparently I get to call home from the airport. So be awake on Monday morning. It'll probably just be for a few minutes to confirm everything is going according to plan. I can't even tell you how excited I am.

I don't know a lick of Cantonese, I probably don't even understand half of what I should about the gospel of Jesus Christ, it's going to be way hard, and I'M READY TO GO. If there's anything I've learned here, the greatest success will be in the process, not the result. My will is the only thing I can truly give, and the Lord will go before me. Time to fly.

I wish I could express how grateful I am to the MTC and for the things I've learned. I really feel like a new man. Or maybe just a man instead of a kid. But I'm still just a kid, I guess. But I'm a man though, seriously. I wouldn't trade my opportunity to be here for 12 weeks for anything. The things that I've learned about myself and the perspective that I've gained in that short time will be invaluable to me in the mission field. The best part is that it wasn't just some inspirational teacher or a series of fiery devotionals that have helped shape and prepare me -- it was all God. I did it myself by turning to God and letting Him teach me everything. That's the basic message I'm going to bring to people: God speaks. You just have to be willing to hear His voice. As He spoke yesterday, He speaks today, and He will speak forever. Every missionary who comes to the MTC learns essentially by their own willingness to accept God's guidance. I know now more than ever that God is more involved in the smallest portions of our lives than we could ever imagine.

Elder Oaks came and spoke to us last Tuesday. I've gotten into the habit of writing down the thoughts that come to me and inspire me when the prophet and apostles speak instead of writing every detail of their talk, and I find that I recognize revelation a lot more clearly that way. This General Conference I invite you all to pray for revelation from the Spirit and write down your thoughts and impressions. Do not waste your paper trying to catch the nitty gritty details, because you will compromise your ability to listen. You will find that some of your thoughts may appear extremely off topic from what they say, but they will be invaluable to you personally because they are the words the Spirit has for you. I know I can't get an answer from all of you, but will you commit to doing that this conference? I promise it will bring you more blessings and more revelation from the Holy Ghost on how you can become better and improve upon the challenges and concerns in your own lives. It has been a huge blessing to me and taught me how to listen to the Spirit, and I know that God has something to say to all of us.

Everyone, pray for my safety. This could possibly be the last email you get for two weeks; I don't know when my P day will be in Hong Kong. But more importantly, pray for the people of Hong Kong to open their hearts to the message that I've done everything I can to prepare for them.

The gift of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is the most important gift any man or woman can receive in this mortality. It is constantly having the words of Christ at your side, leading you on "amidst th'encircling gloom." I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. I would that God might delete the wickedness that enters my frail mind, and help me always walk in peace. We are all God's children. He is our Father, and our lineage is Divine. I pray that we all may become more worthy of His love as our perspectives expand. I pray that as I enter the "gateway to the orient" that God will put the eyes of Christ in place of mine, that I might find those people ready to receive His glad tidings.

May the Lord bless and keep you all! Gayauh!

Love, Elder Hazen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm Singing in General Conference!

LEIH HOU! Gosh I love my family. Thanks for the email mom, it was really wonderful this week.

Yes, I'm singing with a special MTC choir in General Conference on April 1st. Not sure which session yet. When we went to the MTC Choir practice, they passed out a bunch of slips to everyone requiring that their departure date is after April 1st and several years of either high school or college choir experience. Of course I never participated in those choirs, but I wrote in big bold letters, "YOUNG PERFORMING MISSIONARY - NAUVOO. Basically choir singing for 3 and 1/2 months straight." And today I received the notice that I've been selected. WOO! I'll literally be on the stand with the apostles and prophet! Mom, make sure you record General Conference and look for me!

Speaking of April 1st, I will be leaving the very next day to Hong Kong. Things are getting pretty exciting around here -- we are gone 2 weeks from yesterday. I don't speak Cantonese, but hopefully I speak the Spirit. I'm so excited right now and am becoming very anxious. I've been here forever, and it's been so awesome. This week as my companions and I were on our way to teach our "lesson", we walked by an older missionary studying in the hallway and so we gave him a cheerful "Leih hou" and began walking up the stairs. It was strange when we realized that his response was in Cantonese. We turned around and talked to him, and it turns out that he is going to Hong Kong to be our new mission president about a month after we get there! He told us to "work hard, be obedient, and be humble." I liked him a lot. And because his last name is Hawks, (I think), he actually has the same Chinese name as me. He was once a Hah Jeunglouh back in the 70s!

1 Corinthians 14:15 states that we should pray with the spirit and with understanding, but also to sing with the spirit and with understanding. I think it taught me to be a better singer. This past wednesday after auditioning a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sing for the incoming missionaries. I sang "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul." Before I sang I read that scripture, and I asked my accompianist if I could read my lyrics. Even though I had them memorized, I wanted to sing with the Spirit and with understanding. I thought if I was going to use my gift to inspire the spirits of those wonderful new missionaries, I had better do it with understanding and let the Spirit speak. I remember feeling the Spirit so strongly as I sang. Singing will always be one of my favorite things to do, even if I'm not the best. It seems to make more sense every time I sing why concourses of angels lift up the heavens with their voices in song.

This... everything. Whoever is reading this and doesn't think they are happy, I wish I could tell you how simply God provides the path to happiness for all His children. Life will always be hard, this work will always be difficult, and pleasure will always be temporary. But the reason this work never ends is because it is the only thing of eternal worth. I don't write home about the really difficult things, but don't think for a second that I haven't already had moments of intense frustration and discouragement. This is not easy. At all. But I will always be happy. I have not been coerced into believing the things I do, but I have communicated with God countless times, and the Holy Ghost has spoken to me. I promise you that communication with God is and always has been two-way communication. If you want to experience that, you MUST search diligently for it, and hope for the good outcome. I wish I had the ability to eloquently describe what this gospel has done for me in my life, and what it is doing for me right now. I am catching the vision of God, because I am reaching back to take hold of His extended arm. The Book of Mormon is true. It is the word of God! Of God! Our Father in the Heavens. He exists and I know it. There is not a soul on this earth that He does not love. Not a soul. My spirit yearns so much to help people catch this vision; the vision that God is among us, that He can and will speak to us, and that there is always security in a world of suffering, chaos, and sorrow. I am happy because I am learning how to love God, my Savior Jesus Christ, and the calm energy of the Spirit. The Spirit is the great connector in everything, it is the greatest gift we can ever receive in this mortality. It is the peace of God's presence and the security that, regardless of any material or earthly end we achieve, we will be happy. As a representative of our Master and Savior Jesus Christ, I promise this is true. This is happiness. Please, catch the vision. I will do everything I can to help you. That is my purpose.

There is always so much more to say. I love you all, and to my family -- I love you all more than you can imagine.

Elder Hazen

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is real life

Hey all! Leih dim a? (How are you?)

I saw Elder Rose today in the cafeteria trying to act like he was a missionary. He told me, echoing a few other people, that I write novels for emails. I'm not preparing for an apology. At least my mom loves me. Ha!

Ah well, the reason for being a man of many words is that I prepare. I prepare what I want to say not only to "investigators" and for talks and for priesthood meetings, but also for my messages home. I feel that you all and especially my family are extremely important, and that the message of the gospel can and will bless the lives of everyone. If it is within my power to share my message at home and overseas, I will do both!

Well, this week has been good. The only downside I can think of is I had to miss attending the Temple today with my companions, because I woke up sick with a cold. I was afraid that walking outside too long might not be conduscive to my health, so I stayed back and studied on a sick bed for a couple hours. It sounds wimpy, I know, but I'm grateful I have P-Day to cover me and allow me to regain some much needed rest. There is just too much work to be done!

Elder Holland came to speak to us last tuesday a couple hours after I wrote my email. I love that man. This is the SECOND time I've seen him since being in the MTC. He spoke some very interesting things to us, my favorite being about his feelings toward Mosiah 6:9, which talks about following "... after the manner of the workings of the Spirit." He asked us what the manner of the Spirit was, and then willed us to not only follow the Spirit as we teach, but to BE like the Spirit when we teach. To teach after the manner of the Spirit. Two interesting insights he gave to the manner of the Spirit were these: "The Spirit is provocative." Quite the statement, yet true. When we feel and recognize the Spirit, we are inspired to act. As we teach, it is essential that the investigator DOES something in order to achieve their own individual witness of the truth. We must not be coersive, but be persuasive. I am inspired never to leave a lesson without doing everything in my power to help the investigator have incentive to act. I have a firm witness for myself that it is by our actions and our willingness to just DO as the Lord asks that brings the most tangible and recognizable blessings. Another point he brought up was that the Spirit is always clean. In order to be worthy to perform that which we have the authority to perform, we must strive for purity. And I love the purity that accompanies the Spirit.

I should clarify to those who may have heard wrong. I'm not actually teaching REAL investigators, not nonmembers invited into the MTC. But I bear witness that regardless of that fact, I am teaching REAL people. Here's the way I see it. It does not matter to me that Bonnie or Soren (who left) or Taahm (our new one) are really our Cantonese teachers. When I walk into that meeting with them, they are who they say they are. You know why? I am convinced that every teacher who comes in acting as an investigator is a real person with real problems and challenges. The problems that they address with us reflect their own, and there is nobody in this world who is not seeking direction of some kind. I'm a missionary! I didn't come into the MTC merely to learn, I came here to teach! If I have authority and power given to me from God, I expect to use them to the furthest extent that God will allow.

Now, that brings me to the best part of this week! We have that activity called TRC that I mentioned before. This week we had the opportunity to teach a 40 minute lesson. We taught Ngaai Hingdaih, an older man who served his mission in Hong Kong in the 60s. He has returned for TRC frequently to volunteer. I think he came with the idea that he was going to help us learn the language, and to be of service to the struggling missionaries. Call me proud or call me stubborn, but now that we had 40 min to actually talk to this man, I wasn't going to let him have control. I was there to teach Ngaai Hingdaih, a real person with real challenges living in the real world. My Cantonese obviously isn't that great yet (in fact we have a new missionary from the new district who already speaks and told me bluntly that I'm no good) so I decided there was no use in beating around the bush. After we had gotten to know him better and established expectations, I said, "Ngaai Hingdaih, you have had a very interesting life. As missionaries, we are here to help you, no matter what the challenge. We all face challenges. What are your life's challenges?" He seemed very surprised, but willingly continued to share something that was obviously very personal to him. GOOD THING I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HE SAID. I only got bits and pieces, but it turned out that he was worried about his 25 year old son who was wasting his life away playing video games and refusing to work or move forward. I remember thinking, I don't know what this guy just said, but I'm gonna help him! I bore testimony of the Book of Mormon, and that regardless of our challenges that God wants to help us, and that we can always receive further revelation if we seek after it. My teacher's job is to watch the TRC volunteer's face on camera as we teach so that they can give insight to the missionaries for improvement. Later that night my teacher said, "It was obvious that you had no idea what he just told you, but he seemed to absorb your message that there was more he could do to receive revelation."

Man I was so ready to burst when I realized what he actually said. But the Spirit with teach and be with us. I know it and I can feel it! I can't wait to get better at Cantonese for once in my life.

I'm now Zone Leader for the missionaries coming in and out of our branch until I leave on April 2nd. I love you all, and love to my family especially! I hope something I've said will be of benefit to you.

Love, Elder Hazen

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Look for the gifts

Leih hou, everyone!

3 weeks left. Seriously? I cannot stand it when I hear a stateside Elder complain about how he can't wait to get out of the MTC. First of all, they obviously aren't here that long -- but I'd venture to say not long enough! It's intimidating enough for me to realize I only have 3 weeks left to shove all the Cantonese in my brain and receive as much spiritual inspiration as possible. 12 weeks isn't enough! The MTC is fantastic.

I want to thank everyone who has sent me letters. Especially moms -- people's moms always send the best letters because they always add in every nitty gritty detail backed up by their simple, profound testimonies. I love it.
Everybody and their mom should send me a letter.

Well, plenty has happened this week, but I can't really pinpoint one thing that stood out to me. I had a dream I went to Hong Kong and rode a bike on the inside hallway of an apartment complex. There were people everywhere staring up at me, sitting along the walls of the hallway. I felt intimidated by their looks, and I wasn't sure who to talk to. Suddenly, I recalled in Preach My Gospel the section that is entitled "Talk to Everyone." I parked my bike and began to excitedly run to every person I saw, shake their hand, and excitedly say, "LEIH HOU!" I woke up really excited to serve. Ya gotta love simple inspiration in the wee hours of the night.

My companions, Elder Passey, Elder Welker, and I have been very successful in our lessons this past week. We've focused together on teaching with more unity and teaching with more interactive and creative ideas. It's crazy how literally anything can be related to the gospel. Everything truly does revolve around Christ. Helping people become excited about their potential and what God has in store for them is a very enlightening experience personally, because it turns around and makes ME more excited. There is never a time where one can grasp the sheer magnitude that is contained within the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and in the Heavens. I have begun a new study journal that is very organized and sectioned out for the sole purpose of recording revelation as it comes day by day. I am convinced that with every day there is a gift from God that can be readily recognized if we open our hearts. If you go to bed at night and you haven't recognized a gift, than I don't think you had a successful day. Because we are given the long term end goal, we can more readily recognize the gifts in every day that ultimately lead toward that goal. I had a strong impression just yesterday that every single person on this planet has a spiritual gift. I want to help people recognize not only how God can help them, but the gifts He has ALREADY given them. How much more willing is a person to give back when the recognize their blessings are already abundant, whether they are poor or rich, weak or strong, healthy or sick.

In class, we have an hour dedicated to practicing teaching every week. This week I became very passionate, because the person I was supposed to be addressing had a question that means a lot to me. I've had my moments letting myself become very angry and passionately against the corruption that exists in the world. Oh there is plenty of it. One of the Sisters who was acting the role said to me, "I want to help people, but I feel like I can't make a difference. I'm not going to change the world make a difference among the corruption that is solidified within the creeds that run our country and the world." I remember looking at her, clarifying what her problem was, and looking her straight in the face and saying, "You're wrong." D&C 18:10 (I think). Every soul is great in the sight of God. May I suggest to you all, that if you think there is something that you cannot do, you are heeding one of Satan's greatest lies? If I can help just ONE soul in Hong Kong, then I know that I've made a difference. This is the salvation of a human soul we're talking about. This is helping a person turn to the source of greatest happiness; the kind that lasts forever! Through Him, you can do anything. I seriously believe that. It is conditional on turning yourself to Him. Through humbling ourselves to God, we recognize divinity. When we give back our gifts, we recognize eternity. Take it from me; I've spent too much time growing up letting anger towards corruption manipulate my senses and lift me up in my pride. Be humble. Give. Just give. Christ did it, and does it every day if you look to the heavens and ask for it.

Just look at the snake, it'll heal you. It really is that simple. I know that is true, and I know God lives. I have so many words that I am anxious to pour out to you all, but if there is something you don't know, I challenge you to find out. Because you can, and you will if you give yourself back. This Gospel is true.

Much love,
Elder Hazen

P.S. Mom, I love you.