Monday, February 21, 2011

God Delights in Blessing Us

Hello, hello family!
So I just got done reading an AMAZING book. It is called "Divine Signatures" by Gerald N. Lund. This book is just amazing. If you want to strengthen your testimony, or read about amazing stories then I highly recommend this book! It talks about how much of a role God plays in our life. He shares stories about how God blessed people and what a difference he made. It helped me realize how much of a difference our Heavenly Father makes for us. It is amazing, absoloutely loved it!
So the other day, we were walking out to the car to leave to go visit some LA's and RC's. As I got ready to back out my companion, I turn around and I see this huge figure out of the corner of my eye. I look. It is a big mama moose standing there staring at me. A little more than 10 feet away. I just sat there and looked at it, a little shocked because I have never been this close to a moose before. I got some pictures of it, I will try to figure out how to attatch them with another e-mail-we are at different computers cuz the library is closed today, hence President's Day. That was pretty kool to see! Startled me a lot! It's funny, instead of deer crossing signs, like we have in Utah, there is Moose crossing signs here. That always gives me a good laugh. I have seen a lot of moose here, it is just like seeing deer in Utah, it is not necessarily uncommon to see one, but it is not rare either.
People were not kidding when they said the average weight gain is 40 lbs! I am already up 10! I have only been out almost 2 months now and I am becoming a big papa! Last week, we ate with the Mahe's, a Samoan family. Let's see, they had, skinned potatoes, chicken, gallons of rice-literally, lamb, salad, corn beef, rolls, pizza, breadsticks, and a few other items that I cannot recall. I know that Samoans like it when people eat a lot, so I buckled down and went to town! I gained 5 lbs in that sitting and my comp only gained 1!! I was beside myself!! But I had the familys respect, mainly the fathers, who was a sasquatch. He liked that a little guy like me tried to eat a lot :)
We are teaching Nina right now and we set a baptism date! March 2nd, her mother's b-day! It was weird, so her mother is Gothic. When I first went over there, she recognized that I was a new missionary, so she walks right up to me and hisses in my face. I stand there and look at her with a puzzled look, "can I help you?" I reply. I had no idea how to respond. I guess she was a little upset that didn't affect me. Later as we were talking to the family, I hear Sister Carol-the grandma whom they are living with, give a little gasp and say "Dori get that thing out of your mouth!" I turn around and I see Dori (the goth) with a huge knife in her mouth. "This family has got some issues" I thought to myself, but I did not judge, I am sure she is a wonderful person once you get past the gothic stuff. It is a challenge to teach Nina, she has a very short attention span and gets distracted really easily. She does remember what we say tho and retains information really well. We are making progress and that is all that counts! :)
We got to help out with the world championships of junior sled dog racing! That was pretty exciting. This wasn't the Itidarod, it was actually more of a fast paced race. In this race, it is a 880 sprint, as one of the older sled dog racers told us. Time is the main factor in this. Like in 100 yard sprints how a few seconds is a huge gap, the exact same applies to this. If you are more than 4-5 seconds behind the leader, that is considered a very big gap! One thing I found out here was, people who are really into dog racing, it is not unusual for them to have 70-80 dogs! Wow!! I like dogs, but that is kind of a lot. In the Itidarod race, you start out with 16 dogs, and you have to finish with 5. I guess during the race, they usually "drop" dogs, meaning when the dog gets sick or injured, at the next checkpoint they drop them off there and they fly the dogs back to the city. Also another kool fact, if you are a certain amount of time behind the leader in the race, you get DQ'd (disqualified for those who are not gifted in grammar), because people are volunteering their time to stand next to the trail and make sure the riders are ok and if you are taking too long, they leave because it gets pretty cold!
Weather has been pretty nice, we are having a big of a cold break right now tho, and it has been around 10-15 degrees, yikes! I cannot wait till it gets up to at least 40. By then, we can wear our normal suit jackets! Which reminds me, Terra, I extend my greatest sympathy towards you for experiencing that aweful "getaway" to the cabin this weekend ;). Thank you so much for writing my companion too! That really means a lot, you are the best!! Thank you!! :)
I will leave you with a thought I had the other night. As I was reading "Divine Signatures" in one part it said "God DELIGHTS in blessing us". I was so happy when I read that, and could not believe it at first personally. He WANTS to bless us, he WANTS us to be happy! God blesses us everyday and we often do not recognize it. I, personally, have not recognized it a lot. All he asks for back with these blessings is 1/10 of what we earn. With everything that he has given us, we should give him our life!!! Give thanks to your Heavenly Father when you get a chance. Whenever I do, I feel a much greater peace and comfort and I know that Heavenly Father is very please with a simple thanks. I learned that Heavenly Father loves to smile. He is a very happy person. He wants the exact same for us! It always makes me happier when I think about it. I thank him for my amazing family and friends everyday now. I love him and I love all of you and I know he loves us too.
Elder Hartman

I never said this weekend was an "awful getaway".
I said "I feel your pain, it is 40 degrees in the cabin. And we don't have to go tracting!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Book of Mormon is True

TJ = Awesome
I tried to think of something funny to put as the subject for this letter, but had a brain fart so I just put a statement that I think everyone knows to be true :)
Wow, I am so happy for Guzy about his mission call!!! That is literally the "perfect" place for him to go! He loves soccer and he loves people from Brazil, I honestly am not surprised about that, he will love it and will make an outstanding missionary! Give him my love next time you see him :)
Gunn family, so I might have gotten the address wrong when I wrote your letter possibly, so today I will write another one and answer ALL of the kids questions. Sorry, I know I have been slacking off on that, I saved your address in our phone-yes we get phones out here. Thank you very much Trav for giving me your address again, much appreciation! I will also try to send letters out to everyone else answering questions you have, sorry it is really hard to find time to write and answer questions you have. I know, it can be a little irritating when you keep asking someone a question and they do not respond, I will do my very best.
When I heard the news about the jazz.....I almost died! I was devestated! That sucks!! I heard Karl Malone called them "a bunch of babies" or something like that, thought that was pretty funny :) but still sad tho.
Bree I loved/hated the pictures from the cruise. Loved them because they were hilarious, especially the ones with you and I think it was Chris posing in the room, that gave me a good laugh. Hated, obviously because you got to enjoy perfect weather. But that is ok because Spring is coming up!!!! I saw some pictures my companion took during the summer, it is the most green place I have ever seen! God knew that I loved really lush, green trees and fields and that is EXACTLY what Alaska looks like during the summer! Can't wait!!!
I got all of your packages the other day! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!! SO much for all of them, I could not stop smiling!!! My companion has not gotten mail from his fam for about 4 months. His dad is a total Yellow and I am pretty sure he is figuring he is coming home soon so why bother?? He is a great sport about it tho, I offered to let him open one of the packages I got, but then later realized that that was kind of a bigger punch in the face! hahahaha, the joys of a mission :)
Anyways, back on to missionary business. Last week was a more slow week. Numbers were really low, not a lot of success. It is so hard to find work out here because 1: the areas are very small (It takes 4 Alaskas to fill up the entire US, but there is only 600,000 people in it) so people recognize you and what you are doing so they already have an answer ready. 2: It is pitch black after 7:30 to people do not want to be disturbed, as kids are sleeping and they are tired from work. 3: because Lucifer is workin nonstop and using all of these factors against us to the fullest! It is really hard, the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life! I was studying the other night and I was just feeling overwhelmed. I prayed a few nights ago asking if the Book of Mormon was really true. I know it is true, but I want to know WITHOUT A DOUBT that it is. I want to know that what I am showing people I believe in 110%-without a doubt in my mind. I put the BoM in from of me and was asking Heavenly Father "is this Book true Heavenly Father, I really need to know, not only in my mind, but in my heart. I want to believe it with all the sincerity I have. I every ounce of strength in me I want to believe it!! I know you can show me and I know you will." now I know that Heavenly Father is busy and we tend to expect answers really quickly so I said after all of that "take your time, I know that the way you answer will always be the best way for me. I will wait for it." The next night, after I was finishing up some quick planning, I realized that I haven't read all of your testimonies since the MTC! I was going thro the book that Terra was so kind to make for me. Thank you very much Terra, you have no idea how much of an impact that book has made on me already! All of your testimonies were amazing! All of the stories you had! I could feel each and everyone of you as if you were right next to me as I was reading it. But I got to tell ya, one of them really hit home to me. It was Easton's. I love hearing the testimony of a child. They are always so innocent, but they always speak the truth and, I can't quite explain it, but there is just something about them that really stand out to me. At the end of Easton's testimony he said "while your gone, I am going to write you because I love you" as I read that, I could feel his love. Now, I do not really cry a lot, I have not cried yet while I have been gone, I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing, sorry to dissapoint you if I haven't. But as I read that, I could feel some tears form in my eyes. Heavenly Father gave us the scriptures because he loves us. He gave us the knowledge to know that we can go back and live with him again because he loves us.
You can talk facts with anyone all day long. You can argue certain points about the scriptures and try to prove to them why it is true. "They are so focused on the things they can see; that their problem is in what they cannot yet see" -Henry B. Eyring. I may have messed that quote up a little bit, but it is from a book that I just finished reading called "To Draw Closer To God", I highly recommend getting it, a very short read, 191 pages, and so good! It is always the testimonies that convert. You have to have them FEEL that this is the true church. They may already know who Jesus Christ is, or that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but still are not yet persuaded. Once they experience the truth, the spirit, that is when they cannot deny that this is the true church. The spirit never lies. I would not be out here if this church was not true. I love it with all my heart. To think that someone died for all of us and suffered every single sin that we commited in our lives is the biggest act of love anyone could ever perform! In my prayers, I have found myself thanking, not only God, but Jesus Christ for suffering for us to that, one day, we can return and live with him again. That is love, and that is what I felt when I read Easton's testimony. Easton won some big points with me today, and I will never forget it and it was all because of his short, heartfelt testimony :)
I love each and everyone of you more than you know. Thank you for everything you have done for me. I think about you all the time and stil cannot believe I was blessed with such an amazing family, who is so strong in the church it blows me away! Thank you again for all of your support. I love you!
Elder Hartman

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Your doin' the Lord's work, God bless." - random guy in a big truck

Hi Family -
This week was awesome! We baptized Juan Medina!! I'll attach his picture and a few others at the end of this e-mail so you can get a taste of what it is like up here. It was a really great baptism tho. Elder Unsworth baptized him, which I was so happy about. As they were stepping into the font, Unsworth says "wow that is really hot!" I feel it-not kidding, it was prolly about 140, it was burnning, literally a baptism by fire, but it was awesome because they started to run cold water into it, less than 2 minutes later it was perfect temp, the Lord was working it right there I know it!
The other day we went OYM-ing (open your mouth) for 3 hours. We prolly walked 5 miles, I loved it tho. I saw the sun outside as we were eating lunch and I said "Elder, let's just go walk outside, lets to OYM", "you sure? it's still a little chilly". "The Lord will provide" I said, and plus I just reeeeeeeeaaaaally wanted to get outside and walk around, I hate driving every where and being inside. It was so awesome walking around outside, just getting fresh air and feeling the sun, seeing it shine so brightly, made us so happy. We had no success, most people were not interested or just plain ignored us. As we were walking across an intersection a man from a big truck said "keep up the great work Elders!" "we will! thanks!" we replied with enthusiasm. "Your doin the Lord's work, God bless". All it takes is just a little more motivation to keep pressing on, even tho we had no success, that made me so happy just to get out and see people. A little comment like that can turn a whole day around. It made me think of a quote "it is praise worthy even to attempt great action". Not every day is going to be a perfect day and have a ton of success, but that is no reason to not go out and still give it every thing you have got.

This is the little patio area we have. You can see, it gets pretty cold at night.
We were visiting Less Actives last week and we went and met Sita & Nir. They have both been baptized, but are not going to church. We have been trying to contact them for about 2 weeks and we finally get a hold of Seta. We walk inside and start talking to her. It was weird because everytime we would try to talk about the gospel, she would quickly change the subject or just brush it off. The more we talk, the more worried we are getting. We get on the subject of life after death and she says "we don't live after we die, once you die, you die". We are both stunned. "What makes you believe this?" Elder Unsworth asks, and remember she is baptized so she should have a good understanding about life after death. "Because one of my friends died for 6 hours and then came back to life and when I asked her what it was like she replied 'nothing happened, it was just black and empty'". I wanted to reply "well she was obviously just knocked out, she wasn't dead" but I held my tongue, it was driving me crazy!! At one point she asked us if we believed in Heavenly Father, our jaws nearly dropped to the floor. I wanted to scream at the Elders who baptized her because they were just rushing to get a baptism. It is really sad to see someone who does not have a understanding of what happens to us after we pass away. Mistakes happen, some more serious then others, but then that is where the power of forgiveness comes into play. Later that night I was thinking about what had happened and then I thought about the hostile thoughts I had towards the other missionarys "they just made a mistake, yes they should have known better, but they made a mistake" so in my prayers, I apologized for the bad thoughts I had towards them even though it was incredibly hard. You should always think twice before making a judgement towards someone. Adam fell that men might be saved. Too often everyone thinks that what Adam did was wrong and they look at it as a negative event. Yes, Adam fell, but he got right back up, it was all part of the plan. Because he made a mistake, we can now experience sorrow so we can experience joy. You can't know happiness if you do not know sadness.
Said one bucket to the other; "Whenever I get filled, I am emptied out real soon"
The other bucket replied; "Whenever I am emptied, I am ready to be filled again!"
People often get a little impatient and sometimes angry with God because he does not answer prayers fast enough. We live in a age where consistency is everything. People get mad if their phone does not download something fast enough. Relax, your phone is going to space and back, it is going to take some time. Other times, people get mad when their flight is delayed. Your sitting down on a chair in the air, being served soft drinks and snacks, what more do you want!? If there is one thing I have learned from prayer, it is that, God may not answer your prayers the way that you think is best, but he ALWAYS answers them in the way that is best for you. Sometimes, we get a little discouraged because we are facing really difficult trials in our life and we tend to forget God, I am guilty of that for sure. What is so wonderful about Him tho, is that he knows how much we can handle, and he will NEVER give us more than we can carry. He knows us so well and loves us with the most pure love you can ever imagine mutliplied by infinity! He WANTS to give us blessings, whenever you give him a dollar, he gives back 10. He gives us more blessings than we can hold. Even saying "thank you" to him makes him so happy and that is the least you can do. Take the time to recognize what our Heavenly Father has done for you. He has given me the best friends I can ever ask for, the chance to serve a mission and repay whatever I can to him, and has given me the most loving and best family anyone could ask for. I love you all and think of every one of you every day. Even if you do not have a lot of time to pray, at least say "thank you" to him and that will suffice. I will step off my soap box now :)
Funny story, the little tangeant I went off on about Seta earlier and how I was mad at the missionaries who batpized her, but later forgave them? Well one of them is sitting right next to me e-mailing. Even the Lord has a sense of humor :)

Flashback to the MTC
Elder Hartman