Monday, November 11, 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Fresh chicken dinner on the island:

This was an unusual sight for Eric, and somewhat amusing enough to take a short video of it.

One Year in the Mission Field

June 13, 2013 marked Eric's one year in the mission field. His advice to a newly called missionary in our Ward: "Love the people. No matter where you are, that person standing in front of you is a Father/Son Mother/Daughter Brother/Sister [in Christ]. A person that can benefit from the gospel and especially the Plan of Salvation. The Holy Ghost will be your greatest tool."

You Deserve a Break Today

Remember the jingle "You deserve a break today so get up and get away at McDonald's"? Well this is Guam's version of McDonald's:

Wait....what is that building? Here is a closer look:
You saw that right - a fully functional McDonald's in a single wide trailer. Awesome.

Baptism of Mayleen Ropon

Eric was honored to baptize 18 year old Mayleen Ropon in June of 2013.  He was also given the privilege of confirming her and her sister into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The work continues....

Happy Fathers Day 2013

Eric's Father's Day letter:

"Oh My Father:

I wanted to write you today to celebrate your day, father's day. You have been an amazing father and dad to me. I love how it is father's day and not "dad's" day. You dad is your biological parent, but your father is the man who raised you, taught you, and loves you. I am very lucky that my dad is also my father. Our Heavenly Father has chosen this title over all others: Almighty God, King, Master - all true - but but he chose Father as his title and what a powerful word it is. You have been an excellent father. I have learned so much from your love and example. Since being here, I have seen all different types of dads, and my eyes have been opened to the tragedies that a lot of people face in their lives: the dad is not there, doesn't care, or worst of all degrades their children or belittles them. You, on the other hand, have been an excellent father. You have taken care of me and taught me a lot. I see how you treat my mother, and I want to mold my life after have always worked hard for our family and tried to provide and love....Father, I love you so very much. You have been a huge part of my life. I am so very blessed to be your son. I am sealed to you, and that brings me so much joy and happiness. I know that this Church is true, and that I have been so very blessed to serve a mission as well as share my temporal existence with you and mom. You are my father - Happy Father's Day."

Guam Beautification Project

The missionaries on Guam had an opportunity to participate in the Guam Beautification Project (GBP) for an unsightly bus stop in June 2013:

They worked hard:

 To Turn This:

Into this:
 The missionaries literally left their mark on the island:
What a great opportunity to serve in the community.

Mission Leadership Council

What was once Zone Leadership Council is now Mission Leadership Council,

 which includes the Sisters.

This is an awesome development. It's great to have the input of everyone in leadership to foster unity and exchange information and ideas.
Guam Leadership council June 2013

Eric wrote that being a Zone Leader is a lot of responsibility. You must earn the respect of the other missionaries. You must do administrative stuff on top of your proselyting duties, and that takes time. He said he is working his hardest to work smart. To be effective, you must be a source of influence to help the other missionaries work hard. Sometimes it is hard to show that there is happiness out there, even thought it can be hard to see it. He enjoys being able to do the work, it is very hard and stressful, but by far the Best Two Years*.

No matter where you are called or what position you serve in, you must keep in mind the goal: bringing others to Christ. You must always guard against namanam tekia (being prideful). The work is for others, not yourself.

* The Best Two Years is an awesome movie about serving a mission- highly recommend seeing this.

And the Favorite Shoes Are....

This is a familiar site on Guam:

The weather and the durability of Crocs makes them a huge favorite on the island. Had Eric's feet not been so big, he would have worn those on his mission. This is a tip for those called to the Micronesia Guam Mission. Crocs are the norm and worn everywhere - including Church. I really liked this picture.

Baptism of Sister Shirai

At the end of May 2013 Eric was delighted to have a hand in bringing the gospel to Brother and Sister Shirai. He was so happy to baptize Sister Shyleen Shirai:

He was given the opportunity confirm her and newly baptized member Joseph Castrol, the investigator of 10 years. Eric and Elder Cole are really enjoying the work together.

Teaching the Chuukese Class

Eric has had the opportunity to teach the Chuukese Sunday School class in the Ward during second hour. He really enjoys it. He knows the members laugh at this tall white kid who stands up to teach the class. But his Chuukese is surprisingly good because of the awesome companions he has had. This is a great opportunity, because he and his companion come in contact with Chuukese investigators and Eric gets to use the language. There is no substitute for full immersion to learn a language. At the class he met an investigator of 10 years whom he was able to teach. He said the spirit was so strong he felt impressed to invite the investigator to be baptized the following week. And he accepted. Eric said it was an amazing experience.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Zone Leader

May 20, 2013

Dear Elder Hadder: 

I am pleased to extend to you a call as a Zone Leader in the Guam Zone in the Micronesia Guam Mission. I am grateful for your obedience, hard work and the respect you have earned from your fellow missionaries. I look forward to you service in this very important assignment. I am convinced that zone leaders play a vital role in establishing the spiritual atmosphere of the mission. Please remember that all leadership assignments are callings to serve and minister to others, not for your personal gain or reputation. 

You will be expected to move the missionary work forward in your zone by: 
* Your example in personal study of the scriptures, obedience and hard work. 
* Inviting others to come unto Christ, by carrying a full proselyting load in your assigned area. 
* Supervising, teaching, inspiring and strengthening the faith of the missionaries in your zone. 
* Teaching and training district leaders and other missionaries through companion exchanges. 
* Teaching and training the missionaries in district meetings and as assigned in zone conferences. 
* Conducting thorough baptismal interviews of investigators taught by district leaders. 
* Through additional personal efforts, including as directed by me or by the assistants. 

Continue to be obedient, humble, and diligent in the work. The Lord expects you to maintain the highest standards of missionary conduct, and to continue to be exemplary in your own efforts to invite others to come unto Christ, particularly in your own proselyting area. Establish and maintain positive, cooperative and close relationships between you, the missionaries in your zone, and local priesthood leaders. Local priesthood leaders and members are an essential key to our success to "invite others to come unto Christ, and to remain steadfast in Christ to the end". Be a leader in eery sense of the word. Be resolute and committed to following all rules and directions contained in the Missionary Handbook and Preach My Gospel. Exemplify teaching by the Spirit with boldness and conviction.

May the Lord bless you as you magnify this new assignment and continue to serve Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.

President Stephen F. Mecham
President, Micronesia Guam Mission

May 2013 Transfers

Transfers are somewhat anxious, because a missionary never knows when he or she will be asked to go to a different area or accept a new assignment. Missionaries often want to stay in their area, as they have worked hard with people who are wanting to learn the gospel, and have come to love many of the families and members that they serve.

May transfers brought a change in Eric's assignment as District Leader:

He was called as the Guam Zone Leader with Elder Cole, seen seated next to Eric. Eric was nervous about the assignment, but is determined to try his best to serve in this capacity. He wrote "Zone Leader is basically a trust from the Mission President, so I am trying my very hardest to be worthy of that trust."

. I know he will miss the families, and the Nortons, whom he has come to love in the District. But being a missionary is about change too. There are other assignments for him to fulfill. The adventure continues.

Turning 22 in the Mission Field

Eric turned 22 in May 2013. Right before his birthday, he attended District Meeting.

District Meeting May 2013

The Nortons are so kind to the District by making awesome meals for the missionaries: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn and rootbeer floats. 

The Nortons also helped Eric celebrate his birthday at the home of the Alberts during Family Home Evening. Sister Norton made him an early birthday cake (cherry chocolate chacha- yummy) because transfers are coming up and Eric could transferred to another island or given a different assignment.

 It is so strange to think that I won't physically see my son the entire 22nd year of his life. I thought long and hard about what I could get him for his birthday. I sent him a package with all his favorites: beef jerky, peanut butter, grape jelly. I wondered if it would be what he wanted. It wasn't until after I sent him the package that I realized Eric didn't really want anything. I am sure he was grateful for the package, and he wrote home his appreciation. But looking at these pictures I saw he already had his birthday gift: serving a mission and the people in Guam.

 Happy 22nd Birthday Elder Hadder. Your family misses you so much, but we have never seen you look happier.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Real "Betel" Juice

A tradition of the Pacific Islands is chewing a podlike substance called betel nut.

The islanders chew it and it is highly addictive. It will turn your mouth red, your teeth black, and causes cancer of the mouth.
But on the Islands it is given to children to help with teething pain and then as adults they take a piece of cigarette and put it inside it and then chew it. It is a HUGE problem and unfortunately it grows wild on the trees so it is free and easy to get. Someone can work so hard to give it up and then family members give it to them or it literally grows free on trees. Unfortunately, it so easy to fall back into bad habits.

Every culture has its bad habits - the Western world has alcohol and designer drugs. Being addicted to a substance robs you of your ability to choose (free will or agency). Following rules to avoid addictive substances may sound like a restriction, but in actuality it is keeping you free. Just another reason why bringing the gospel to all parts of the world is so important.

Uninvited Roommates

A missionary always has a companion. Throughout a missionary's service, he or she is always paired with another missionary for safety and accountability. Sometimes, however, you get an uninvited roommate:

Or worse, some pest makes themselves at home and has to be shown the door:

Ai Tong Mgonuk I Nei We!

On Saturday, May 4th, the postman rang our doorbell. Max went to the door, and returned with a curious object:

As soon as I saw "GUAM" on the coconut, I knew it was a Mother's Day present from Eric. I immediately burst into tears. I was so excited and happy that my son remembered me from across the globe and took the time to do something special for me. A special thank you to Brother Norton for painting the Guam side - beautiful. I later learned that Elder John, a Chuukese missionary serving with Eric, was amused by this project. He didn't understand what all the fuss was about coconuts. Even after explaining that coconuts aren't as plentiful in the United States as they are on Guam, he still looked dubious. He still probably thought the whole thing was silly.

But not silly to me. This unique present sits in the living room in a place where I can see it easily. Ai Tong Mgonuk I Nei We - Happy Mother's Day to me indeed.

Guam Hot Dog: Warning graphic content

In April, Eric and his companion were treated to Sunday dinner at a member's home with very modest means. The family had dug a pit and had roasted the dinner to serve to the missionaries.

 [This picture is sideways - if you lean your head to the right you can see the pit.] Imagine the missionaries' surprise when the main course was unveiled:

Wild dog.....very different from what we eat in Arizona. However, Eric and his companion knew the sacrifice this family had made to feed the missionaries something special. They were grateful for the meal and the kindness in which it was offered. When you serve a mission in a foreign country you learn about different customs, including food, well off the tourist path.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pictures of Guam Zone April 2013

Recognition of May birthdays at Zone Conference

Guam Zone April 2013

Training During Zone Conference       

Guam April 2013

April 2013 in Guam was moving the work forward with teaching, baptisms of Bryant and Sage, helping with other baptisms, writing a list of 30 names of those with whom you feel impressed to share the gospel and Family Home Evening with a blackboard of the Plan of Salvation (click on picture to see full view).

We had a chance at home to work with the Missionaries in our Ward in Arizona with a very kind man who was interested in the Church. Eric has been a part of 18 baptisms by April. He wrote " Thank you so much for helping the Sister Missionaries. I love how you guys were guys were able to be there and help that man. DON'T you love missionary work? It is such a satisfying effort. Now imagine me, I get to feel that Spirit EVERYDAY. Oh how much I love the Spirit, and when it touches someone else."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Missing Home

As much as the work is inspiring and the effort is worth every sacrifice, there are still times that you miss being away from home. You miss your family most of all:

Bryanna, Eric and Max

Max brings joy to our family
Eric wrote Bryanna: "Not going to lie, I am missing you and home lately. I keep remembering when we would stay up way late and watch scary movies. Or I would play a game and you being the super legit sister and friend would stay up with me and watch/help me play. I remember Oblivion ( a video game) - so many great memories." Eric was sad to miss Bryanna's graduation and Andrew's wedding. These are sacrifices you make when you go.

When you leave for a Mission, you leave behind not just family and friends, but your job and school.  When Eric put in his papers for his Mission, he was starting his Junior Year at Arizona State University, Ira A. Fulton Engineering School. He worried that being away for 2 years would impact his schooling and possibly affect his ability to get into the Master's Program.

College of Engineering at ASU

At the end of his Junior Year, Eric was delighted to learn that he had met the requirements  and was accepted into the Engineering Master's Program. ASU will hold his spot for him while he serves his Mission. He has never regretted his decision to serve. His homecoming will be wonderful as he is reunited with family and friends. He will pick up right where he left off at school. He knows he made the right choice, and his Mission has taught him lessons he couldn't learn in a classroom:
"Life here has been really busy. This mission is so very important to the Lord and to me. Just had baptisms 12, 13 and 14.  So much emotion and love for the people here, and they are accepting the gospel so strongly. I have met some life long friends here and have seen so many great people change their lives. My testimony has changed so dramatically. I have literally developed love and charity* for those without the gospel in their lives."

Although it may seem like an interruption of his life, it was an opportunity to personally grow. Eric will carry the lessons learned on Guam his whole life.

*charity is the pure love of Christ.