Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First Email from Elder Hadder

Eric unexpectedly sent me a short email on Wednesday June 27, 2012!

"Hey Mom and all other family :0)

I am having so much fun here at the MTC. I have ran into Blake Shumacher, as well as Ricky van Neck. Those are the only two people I know here, besides all the new friends I have made. OK so something super super awesome just happened this last Tuesday the 26th of June. We had a special Devotional, with 10 Apostles and most of the Quorum of the Seventy First Presidency. I will write them all down in my letter that I write home, because I only get 30 minutes to email. So I will have more in depth later. But I love getting letters - as well as Dear Elders - they really make my day :0) Thank you. And yes, I got your package. It was awesome and way sweet.....real quick before I run out of time, I love you all very much. Thank you for all your support to me on this mission. Please love each other, and lift each other up. I love and miss you all. I try not to think of home, otherwise I get a bit depressed. You are all all very amazing and wonderful people. I pray for you every night, each individually, and hey, I'm an Elder - so you know that has extra power ;) I love you all, and thanks again for your support and letters :0)  

Elder Hadder"

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another Letter!

Dear Mom: 

I love you so much. I miss you and my family a whole lot. Where to start... I went to the Temple this morning. That was an amazing experience, super beautiful. I have come so much closer to God in this short week here. I have been able to use my experiences with your and Dad's cancer so many times to bring the Spirit to the investigators. The first day we got here, and everyday afterwards, we have been teaching people. 

My companion is Elder Cook, and he has been called as the District Leader. So it has been fun doing all the little extra things so that he can fully do his calling. I have been called as a Senior Companion, so there is just a little bit of added responsibility but nothing big at all. I hear you frogged*. That is so awesome, we haven't heard you frog in forever. Thank you so much for supporting Ashlee**. That was awesome of you. Please ask Jacob Reed what his mailing address is. Thank Jacob Reed and Brother Carl Seggie for their emails through "Dear Elder", they were way uplifting. 

My teachers are are Brother Austin and Sister Hoopes. I love them both - different teaching styles - but both are extremely spiritual and amazing. Please tell Dad, Bryanna, and Max that I love them so very much ( and anyone else who writes me ). Mail time is one of the best parts of the day. I mentioned earlier that my P-day is Wednesday, so I can only write on Wednesdays. 

How is Aaron doing? Please have him use "Dear Elder" and write me. I have so much to tell him. 

Mom and Dad, I know this Church is true. I have gained such a strong testimony in Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost is real and does help us in our every day. Make sure to email me any questions. OH Please use "Dear Elder" because I can only check my email on Wednesdays, but "Dear Elders" are printed off daily (except for weekends). I love you all. 

Elder Hadder 

*Frogging is the name our family calls a certain laugh that I do (Michelle) very rarely that makes this very strange noise in my throat. It is like air escaping and it sounds just like a frog croaking. I only do it when I am so overcome with laughter. It hurts! But it always make everyone bust up laughing because it sounds so funny. It's another weird silly Mom thing. 

** Ashlee Nichol is a wonderful friend of Eric's from high school that is reporting to her mission end of June (very soon) to the Scotland/Ireland Mission. We sure love Ashlee and wish her the best. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

First Letter from Elder Hadder

Dear Mom and rest of family: 

I love it here. The Spirit is so strong - it's crazy. There are seven Micronesia-Guam missionaries, and one going to Fiji. All eight of us are in a district together. It's crazy the type of love that is here. I like my companion. He has a lot of spiritual stuff to say. I saw and talked to Elder Blake Schumacher today - that was cool to see him. We had an amazing experience today. There were three people who had questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We all spent a total of two hours talking to these people. The Spirit was so strong. The first was a Japanese man who was brilliant (not a shocker there). His discussion was based off principles and was kinda awkward for me. The second guy, Carlo, was my favorite. He had lost his wife six years ago, and his fifth child lived only three days after birth. The Spirit was so sweet when an Elder shared with Carlo that he lost his sister when she was only four months old. The Elder then testified to Carlo that he knew he would see his sister again. That testimony was really strong to me. 

I love you, Mom and Dad so very much. I also love Bryanna and Max a whole bunch. I have a strong feeling to let Aaron know that he needs to serve. I am learning so much and it's my first day. He would benefit greatly here. I can only write on my "P" days* and while at the MTC that falls on Wednesdays. So I will write for sure the next two Wednesdays, then I'll be in Guam. :0) I love and miss everyone already. Please write me and let me know how things are going back at home. Sorry if it's hard to read. Let me know, that way I will know to print from then on. And again, love y'all. 

Elder Eric Hadder 

*Note:  "P" day is Preparation-day - one day set aside each week during a mission to take care of the missionary's personal needs, such as laundry, cleaning, haircuts, writing home, and exercise. Missionaries at the MTC are also supposed to attend the Provo Temple on their P-day. Missionaries are assigned specific duties as part of their P-day service, which might include things like cleaning bathrooms, dorm buildings, the grounds, and other buildings. P-day ends at the beginning of the dinner hour. The rest of the time on a mission is spent in service to others.

Off to the MTC

Eric left for the Missionary Training Center ("MTC") very early on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - the day he had been eagerly anticipating and the day I was dreading a little (let's be honest - the day your son, who happens to also be one of your best friends, leaves for two years isn't your favorite day). Even Bryanna was quick to get up super early to make the drive to the airport. She is going to miss him perhaps most of all. Since families cannot go into the MTC with their Elders anymore (a change from years past), the Church encourages you to say your goodbyes at the airport. So we checked in curbside at PHX Sky Harbor and airport security was kind enough to ignore the fact we were all out of the car saying our goodbyes. Bryanna and I cried, but Eric was so happy, it was hard to be sad. He gave us all a hug, one last extra hug for Mom, then he turned and walked into the airport, never looking back. I know in my heart all will be well with us as he serves the people of the Isles. Blessings will come to us and especially to those he serves.

I had chemo the next day, and as I lay in bed feeling horrible I thought about the sacrifice that I personally was making for Eric to go on a mission. He is always the one to text me about his day, call me and say "hey beautiful Mom, how are you?" or show up unexpectedly with a diet coke in his hand and a big smile on his face. Part of me wishes he could stay with me through all my treatment - although he was there for me in a big way when I had my surgery and post-op infection - and part of me is glad he gets to miss it. I never wanted my kids to go through all they have endured with Darrell's illness and now mine. We can't choose our experiences, but we CAN choose how we react to them. And I think serving a mission to show gratitude to the Lord for the blessings given to our family despite our trials is a great choice.

We love you Elder Hadder, and we are so proud of you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eric Set Apart as an Elder (Part II)

I think Eric would rather wear this in humid weather where it rains up to 300 days a year!
Eric & Bryanna: family by chance, best friends by choice

Eric Set Apart as an Elder (Part I)

Last night Eric was set apart as an full-time Elder by a member of the Stake Presidency, President Gardiner. It was very special to be there. Below are some pictures:

Friends, family and Ward leadership. Love these men!

Grandfather, Father and Son
Eric and proud Mom fighting back tears. I lost...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Farewell Sacrament Meeting

Eric spoke in Sacrament last Sunday, June 10, 2012. We had so many people come to Church to support him: my Dad flew in from Pennsylvania, my Mom and stepfather Russ came, one of my best friends, Richard Milenkovich, drove from California just for the weekend, my boss, Ezra T. Clark, III and his whole family, President Wayne Gardner and his wife, my stepson Andrew Hadder and his fiance, my bandmate Serge van Neck, and Debbi and Derrick Platt, to name a few. We felt very loved and blessed as a family. Later in the day, we met with a wonderful return missionary from the Micronesia Guam Mission, Chase Adams, who came with Travis Williams and shared his stories of the mission and allowed us to play his mission DVD for our open house Sunday night. We had so many people come from the Ward that we loved come wish Eric farewell. We also had extended family like Mark & Bee, Stephanie and Kat, Rey Martinez, Holly and Serena. It was wonderful to see everyone, and many people brought gifts for Eric. We simply had the most perfect weekend. 

Below is Eric's talk - I am posting it for those of our friends and family who could not make it. Unfortunately, you cannot feel the Spirit that was present at the meeting, but you can imagine Eric's sincerity as he gave the talk. 

          Good Morning Brothers and Sisters, friends and family. My name is Eric Hadder and I have been asked to speak with you today about sacrifice.
To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater goal or purpose. We read about sacrifice early on, starting in Genesis, in reference to animal sacrifices. The animal sacrifice was a symbol for the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. However after the Atonement of Christ, animal sacrifices where no longer needed, But instead Christ tells his disciples of another type of sacrifice. He does this in 3rd Nephi 9:20, which states;
 And ye shall offer for a asacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I bbaptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.
In the times before Christ animal sacrifices were required of the people. In modern times, we are commanded to have a “Broken heart and a contrite spirit” – this means a willingness to repent of sins, and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one's life with His commandments. This stands in stark contrast for most of the world. All around us, TV shows, movies, and other media encourage us to spend our time, effort and money on purely personal fulfillment. But those who choose to follow Christ focus on others. To follow Christ involves a sacrifice of what we do on a day-to-day basis in our ordinary lives to be of service to others.
Every member of our Church has a responsibility to serve. Our clergy are not professionally trained or paid. Everyday members are called to lead and serve the congregation, and they are responsible for numerous Church meetings, programs, and activities.
The most well-known example of sacrifice in our Church history would be the Mormon pioneers. Our ancestors sincerely believed that they were obeying the will of the Lord to sacrifice everything they had: their possessions, separation from their family, even their lives, in order to establish the foundation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and build up the Kingdom of God on the earth.  In General Conference, Elder Oaks stated that today, the best-known example of unique LDS service and sacrifice, are the work of our missionaries. Currently there are more than 50,000 young men and young women and over 5,000 adult men and women serving a mission. Our Ward alone has approximately 10 missionaries serving in the United States and other countries, with two more serving in the very near future. Missionaries devote from six months to two years of their lives to teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and providing humanitarian service in more than 160 countries in the world. Missionary work always involves sacrifice. Including the years they give to the work of the Lord, missionaries leave jobs, college, sweethearts, and their family to serve others. Not only do they sacrifice, but the parents and other family members sacrifice too, in many ways, including providing funds for their support and going without the companionship of the missionary they sent.  
Our family has answered the call to sacrifice. After much prayer and prompting, I decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have been called to serve in the Micronesia Guam Mission and report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah this coming Wednesday, June 13th.  Although most young men go on their mission when they turn 19, I didn’t. I had every intention, and even had all of my paperwork filled out, however the timing just was not right for me, and my family. In the summer of 2008, my father was diagnosed with terminal angio immunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. My father was told he had, at the most, two years to live. As many of you know, my father is still with us today through the power of faith, sacrifice, prayer and the priesthood. The Bishop we had at the time my dad was diagnosed was a Doctor in Medical Research with the U.S. Navy, and he had access to up-to-date data on my dad’s specific type of cancer. He found the only research study published: a study of 100 patients over a 10 year period because this type of lymphoma is so rare. Of all 100 patients, none survived more than 2 years after their diagnosis.  Our Bishop was fully aware of how sick my father was, and he knew the prognosis was very poor. However, shortly after my dad was diagnosed, that same Bishop came to the hospital and gave my father a priesthood blessing. In that blessing, my father was told that his doctors would be able to treat him and that he would be able to provide for his family.  The Bishop stated afterward that he hesitated before stating these words, but went ahead with the blessing because this is what the Spirit told him to say.  My father has had to sacrifice with many health issues since his diagnosis, but he is still here.  But we have been greatly blessed by the numerous people – friends, family and Ward Members -  that have sacrificed in so many ways to help our family.
I received my mission call early this year, and I have been excited to serve ever since. However in mid April my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. This hit our family very hard. I knew what type of toll my father’s cancer had on him, and knew that the road ahead would be difficult for my mom. She has had surgery and faces six months of chemotherapy and radiation. But her faith has not waivered and she continues to encourage me to serve my mission. And once again, my family and I were given an opportunity to see the power of the priesthood and prayer, as well as the blessings that come from those who sacrifice for others. Once again, friends, family and ward members have come forward to offer help and support to our family. Many of you sit in the audience today. 
I have been blessed so many times in my life. I have been on the receiving end of many people who have sacrificed for me and my family. I feel that I now have been given an amazing opportunity to sacrifice in order to bring others to Christ. I am extremely happy and excited to serve the Lord in this mission, and to be of help in any way I can to the people of Micronesia.  I simply want to serve. I strive to follow Matthew 16:24-25: “For whomsoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us all, and we should follow his example.
Eric then bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and the Church and closed his talk. We sang "How Great Thou Art" and closed with "Because I Have Been Given Much". It was a wonderful Sacrament meeting, and one I will never forget.