Wednesday, January 15, 2014

November 2013

Elder Hadder & Elder Eyre teaching in Zone Conference

November 2013 was business as usual: Spreading the gospel message and helping guide 29 missionaries in the Zone. Eric continues to love the Chuukese language. In the mission so far, there are 5 Chuukese Elders and 3 Chuukese Sisters. So Eric has had an opportunity to learn so much from the native missionaries and they have all been kind in their support and in teaching him.

Since Eric has been on a mission, he has taken a keen interest in gospel conversion stories: those he has a part in teaching, those members he comes into contact with, and wanting to know more about his parent's conversion. At his request, both parents put into writing their thoughts, feelings and experiences as they learned about the gospel and made the choice to join the LDS Church. It was good for him to read, but even better for us to write it down so that it could be a part of our family history. I am so glad he made the request. I would like my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know a little bit more about us.

Halloween 2013

Eric's mom loves bad puns and silly jokes. She sent this to Eric for Halloween, along with beef jerky for him and tons and tons of candy to give out to those he visits and teaches:

The beef jerky and candy were a big hit. The joke, not so much. For some reason, that's funny too.

More Baptisms in Dedeo

In October Eric was happy to baptize a sweet young boy named Kinglove and a young man named Rieuo Rieuo. It was well attended, and nine investigators came to his baptism. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with others.  Eric is serving with Elder Eyre as a Zone Leader in Dedeo*.

Eric writes that he "has come to love, and treasure, the scriptures. I love learning the stories, and the history that they contain. I love just having that deeper understanding, and the [revelation] that I receive as I search." He gave this advice to the young and women preparing for a mission in his home ward: "READ Preach My Gospel, and enjoy the scriptures. Make it a time desirable above all else. It is the time when you get the Spirit and escape the world. It's great."

* Dededo is the most populated village in the United States territory of Guam. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Dededo's population was just under 45,000 in 2010. The village is located on the coral plateau of Northern Guam.

Another Chance to Use Chuukese

In October 2013, Eric was excited to attend a Chuukese wedding - one of the very first weddings he has ever attended. He was asked to speak at the wedding. This is quite an honor, and Eric was nervous about his language skills. But he was able to find the right words in Chuukese to express his thoughts on eternal marriage and how the couple was fulfilling a commandment of God. Other leaders of different churches attended as well, and another leader spoke at the wedding. Eric was surprised to hear his talk mentioned in a positive way in a talk by one of those leaders. Eric was grateful that he was able to be there and have the ability to participate. At the reception, he was invited to sit at the wedding table (an honor in the Chuukese tradition) and he was able to speak to others not of our faith. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Monday, January 6, 2014

October Baptisms

General Conference is a wonderful time to members (and anyone else who is interested) to listen to our leaders give us counsel and inspiration. Eric said "I am enjoying my mission a lot. I have decided to rededicate myself to the work. That one talk by Elder Dube* really hit me hard. I know I have had an amazingly blessed mission. But I need to not look back, there is still a whole lot of work for me to do and accomplish here. Thus I need to learn not to look back."

Eric had an opportunity to teach a Chuukese man named Ivern Masauo. Since he only speaks Chuukese, and Eric's companion does not, Eric was tasked with teaching the lessons. This was his second pure Chuukese experience. Although his companion Elder Eyre couldn't help teach the lessons, he was amazing in his attitude to just attend and be a part of the process. Like he said, if there is someone willing to be taught, I am willing to be there. What a wonderful guy he is. Eric was very happy to be able to baptize and confirm him a member of the Church. Eric has worked hard on his Chuukese and said "even though I have never been to Chuuk, I was needed here (on Guam) to help him hear and learn the gospel in his own tongue."

During October 2013 Eric worked closely with a man who had fallen away from the Church and had at some point been ex-communicated. But the man has been coming back to Church and trying his hardest. Eric was proud of his dedication to get back on the right track. Eric got a call from him that he was approved to be re-baptized and asked Eric to perform the ordinance. Eric said he felt so honored and humbled to baptize him. He remarked that he will always have a place in his heart for this brother.

Eric was especially touched by the talk "Look Ahead and Believe" by Elder Edward Dube.

Turn Your Circle Inside Out

Sister Norton, one of the faithful and wonderful senior missionaries serving on Guam, wrote an insightful email about her experiences there:

"We see the Lord's hand each day in the lives of the people here that we have come to love so much.

 They are humble, many without a bed to sleep on. Many without a car and so many living in poverty. But they love the Lord and they are happy. They look upon a person's heart and see their spirit instead of looking to see what kind of shoes or purse or dress, etc. that is being worn. It is so refreshing to know they see beyond the outward appearance and see into the heart. I have learned so much much. It will be a shock for us to go back to the 'world' where wealth and earthly possessions are such a focus for many. Our perspectives have been changed so much by this mission experience :) I am forever grateful and humble.

In [a Church meeting] a sister shared about hearing from a friend who had moved and that in her new ward she was happy to have found a circle of friends. She spoke of how when we have a circle our backs are facing everyone that is not in the circle. 
 She felt we should turn around and look outward, befriending, serving and loving others as Christ would have us do. I loved that. Always turning outward to see who may need our friendship and love."

How grateful we are for those couples like President and Sister Mecham, and Brother and Sister Norton, who have chosen in their later years to forgo the classic notion of retirement and instead to embark on a mission and serve others. The Church is in need of capable loving couples who can bring a mature level of understanding and love to the mission field. Want to turn your circle inside out? Click Senior Missionaries to learn more about the blessings of serving a senior mission and the opportunities available.

Jurassic Park-like Scenery

If you have seen the Stephen Spielberg classic movie "Jurassic Park", you know how beautiful the scenery is in the movie. Shot on location in Kauai, the smallest of the four major islands of Hawaii, the island is lush and tropical. Many parts of Guam have the same kind of natural beauty. Eric was reminded of Jurassic Park when he was driving from a member's home:

Rain Rain Go Away

In September 2013, Guam's Tropical Depression "19-W" was upgraded to Tropical Storm "Pabuk". While no one was in real danger, the rain poured and poured and poured.

Eric wrote that for three days STRAIGHT there was a constant rain faill. It even got down to 74 degrees - the coolest it has been since he arrived on Guam. Eric took three videos at different times of the day to show the strength of the rain that pounded the island:

Helping Other Missionaries

Serving a mission isn't just about finding and teaching those who are ready to hear the restored gospel. It isn't only about making friends and serving the community where you are assigned. Missionaries also serve each other: companions will often show support by making the other's bed, or doing a chore, or cooking a meal. Missionaries called to leadership positions, like senior companion, District Leader, Zone Leader or Assistant to the President, often have more opportunities to serve their fellow missionaries.

In early September 2013 Eric wrote "this past week has been absolutely crazy. I have given more priesthood blessings* this week than I have given added up outside this week. It has been so hard. I won't reveal [the reasons for the blessings] but I will say that it has been super hard. I have really relied on the Spirit this week."

Eric has loved serving with the other missionaries in the Micronesia Guam Mission. I know this shared experience will be one they each will treasure for the rest of their lives. 

* Priesthood Blessing: A blessing given by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, by the laying on of hands and by inspiration, to one who is sick or otherwise in need of special counsel, comfort, or healing. If the blessing is for the sick, consecrated oil is used (James 5:14-15). To learn more 

Marriage - Love at Home

 Some cultures don't stress marriage. It is common for the missionaries to teach couples who are living together or have children together, but for one reason or another are unmarried. As the missionaries teach the lessons for baptism, the principles of eternal family are taught. Once people understand the blessings that are available through covenant marriage, it is an easy decision to get married.

It is wonderful to see a man and a woman make vows of love and fidelity to one another. If faithful for a year, they may see seek a temple recommend from priesthood leaders and have the opportunity to be sealed for time and all eternity.

Enjoy this special musical number by sister missionaries and other Ward members sung in Chuukese at a couple's wedding. Longtime Church members will recognize hymn #294 "Love at Home."

"How Great Thou Art" - Island Style

Music is an important part of our Church. Enjoy this simple, yet beautiful rendition of "How Great Thou Art" Island style:

116 is the Magic Number

Leadership Council September 2013

 "Dear Family, 

We have so much more work to be done here. I am just glad that I have been able to work here, and with amazing people. This week was amazing. For the whole mission we had 116 baptisms. It was absolutely amazing. I was so proud of our Zone. 

We set records. 18 baptisms in Guam alone, and everyone was working super hard to achieve the impossible. We beat our old record by 56. ALMOST DOUBLE. The Lord has poured out his blessings here."

President Mecham, the Mission President, promised to write President Thomas S. Monson if the Mission met its goal. True to his promise, he wrote the prophet and he wrote back. Eric has a treasured copy in Guam that he will bring back when he returns. I will post a picture of it below as soon as I get it:


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mission Goal: 100 Baptisms

The Mission set a goal of 100 baptisms for the month of August 2013. This is a HUGE number, and everyone is working extra hard. The most baptisms ever for the Micronesia Guam Mission was 60, so 100 seems a very lofty goal. Keep in mind that baptisms aren't really the goal, bringing others to Christ and keeping them engaged in the gospel is the true goal of every mission and missionary.

One of Eric's duties is to interview prospective members for baptism. He recalls having to deny one young lady baptism until she learned more about the gospel. He felt bad, but knew in his heart it was more important for her to know more before she took on the sacred obligations that come with baptism. The missionaries will work more with her and when she is ready and has a strong testimony, her baptism will mean so much more to her.

First Look @ Chuuk

Eric has not had an opportunity to visit the island of Chuuk yet, but it is a very humble place:

Member Family Home

Missionary Quarters

Missionary Shower

Kinda makes you feel spoiled for all the things you have at home and didn't really appreciate, doesn't it?

ZL Companion: Elder Eyre

Eric's companion as Zone Leader is Elder Eyre  - a rancher and cowboy from Wyoming. They get along super well, and Eric really enjoys his company.Eric is excited to work with him and knows that together they can do really good work.

Teaching at Guam Zone Conference

A Pure Chuukese Baptism

The Sister Missionaries work very hard in the mission. When someone decides to be baptized, the Zone Leader or other leader will interview that person and if he or she has progressed enough and is ready, a worthy priesthood holder is chosen to perform the ordinance of baptism.

Eric had an opportunity to interview this sweet sister for baptism, and she chose him to baptize her. Since she only speaks Chuukese, the interview and the baptism was entirely in Chuukese. Eric said it was an amazing experience. 

Thanks to the Messengers

Bringing the gospel to others as a missionary gives you the opportunity to be a special messenger. Missionaries are able to watch positive changes happen in another person's life and seeing the blessings that come to them from obedience. 

Elder Hadder and Elder Cole

Eric had the opportunity to bring the gospel to Sister Flora Alfons. Here is a text from her expressing her feelings about the gospel:

"Dear Elder Hadder,

Awww... We love n miss you very much too. U r a special person to me n my family. We r so thankful to have met a wonderful elder like you. U have been a blessing to our life..There is only one person who will never leave me MY HEAVENLY FATHER. So grateful to have him in my life. N to share u my testimony i am so grateful to have this gospel in my life. It is a really big blessing to me n my family. I know this gospel is true n that we have a living prophet name THOMAS S. MONSON. I know that our church has been restored by JOSEPH SMITH. N i am so grateful to know that we have  living prophet on earth today. This gospel has changed my life so much. N im grateful for that. N im so grateful that I chose to be baptized. N i thank you elder luong for helping me choose the right (thank you). N i've never been a truly happy girl until i've been a part of this church. THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS. N i don't know if there's words to explain how happy n blessed i am right now. Truly thankful. N i say these things with love in the name of JESUS CHRIST, AMEN.

Sincerely, Flora Alfons"