Monday, June 30, 2014


 Typical street.  Our lunch cita is further up on the left, so I walk this street every day.  Lots of less actives and the bishop live here.

Hermana Maria picked that red flower while we were walking to a teaching appointement, and she put it in my hair and insisted I take a picture.

Week 4: La semana de los jovenes

Querido familia y amigos,

Wow, has it really been a week since I last wrote?  Time goes fast when you´re a missionary!

The weather this week has been delightfully cool.  Everyone tells me it´s frio, but I don´t believe it.  I´m in the coolest area at the coolest time of the year... what a great place to be born!

This was the week of the youth for us; almost all of our solid investigators are between 14 and 18 years old.  Jesenia is 17 and asks great questions in our lessons (like who created God, and how do you become a missionary).  She accompanied us to a David Archuleta broadcast thing with the youth on Tuesday and an FHE the night before that.  This ward has been wonderful at befriending her and making her feel welcome.

Time out while I talk about how great this ward is.  We have around 90 people at church every week.  Our ward mission leader and his wife are returned missionaries of about 4 years (they served in the same mission) and are super supportive.  They came with us to visit some less actives yesterday.  Hermana Jill, the gospel principles teacher and choir director, is super intelligent and a great teacher.  Hna. Mansanarez, the YW president, knows each young woman and helps each to feel included.  Hna. Maria, our lunch cita and the seminary teacher, is a friend to everyone and also very willing to come with us to lessons - three this week!  Ah, it´s going to be rough to leave Monte Fresco when the time comes.

Other investigators: Julio, 18, is about the same size as Hermana Aquian.  He told me I look like a model in my picture on the church bulletin board... does that mean I look terrible every day here, or is it just a great picture?  Haha, it was a little uncomfortable.  Anyway, we´re also working with Jahoska (15, special friend of recent convert Moises) and Katherine (16, sister of recent convert Jordan from my first week´s email).  Again, I´m telling you, we have a great ward!  Way to go, mini missionaries!

Oh, I have some great bus stories this week.  Riding the micro buses to our area is a daily adventure.  Once, on a super packed bus, the cobrador told me to sit on some man´s lap because there wasn´t room anywhere else.  Um, no thanks, buddy... kind of against the rules.  Let´s just say it´s a good thing I´ve been doing wall sits during morning exercise, because I ended up doing an awkward one-legged squat thing to avoid sitting on this  man for five minutes.  The other story is that we got on this bus that for some reason, couldn´t or wouldn´t stop for passengers to get on or off.  The cobrador just lifted us on and off by our waists... just another day in Nicaragua!

Anyway, I´m learning patience every day with the language.  I want my progress to be exponential in my speaking and teaching ability, but I know it will come with time.  Baby steps, and giving thanks for the little bit of progress I see every day.

I feel your prayers and the help of Heavenly Father every day.  I can´t even express how blessed and protected I feel!  I know that on my own, I wouldn´t be able to face the demands of mission life (bug bites, walking and climbing, teaching, learning the language), but that with the Lord´s help and your faithful prayers, I am enabled to do what is required of me.  It´s true, everyone!

Well, I love you bunches!  I´m praying for you all too, and often the investigators pray for our families as well.  Feel the love!

-Hermana Hansen

P.S. New nicknames to add to the list: gatita guapa (bonus points for alliteration) and ¨las elderes¨

Monday, June 23, 2014


Hermana Richins and I live beautifully here in the sweaty, humid climate.

Leslie's baptism!  Tell me you don't just want to give that man a hug.

Elder Worthington's Nicaraguan companion promised that I would find mangoes the size of my head here.  Hermana Richins and I are holding the proof.

My new washing machine.  I'm going to get so strong!  (Even if my clothes aren't going to get so clean)

Week 3: La chelita Mormoncita

Hello from rainy Nicaragua!

First off, thank you to everyone for your emails.  I love hearing about the good things that are going on in your lives, and I feel so much love and support!  I´ll do my best to write individual responses, but it may take a few weeks. ¡Lo siento!

The work continues here in Monte Fresco!  I´m feeling a little bit better adjusted, even if I´m not yet fluent in Spanish. ;) It´s been pretty rainy this week, which is always an adventure with the dirt roads and metal roofs.  The cool thing is that often when it rains here, the sun shines at the same time.  Lluvia con sol, they call it.

We had another baptism on Saturday!  I´m just reaping the fruits of all the labor of the missionaries before me.  Hermano Leslie has been investigating the church off and on since 2011.  He´s the sweetest old man ever.  Leslie is humble and very close to the Spirit.  He has great insights as we read El Libro de Mormon together.  And when he prays, it´s so sincere that I almost cry every time.  If you are a missionary and you´re having a hard day, know that a wonderful old man in Nicaragua prays for you with his whole heart.  It was a miracle that his baptism even happened, because we couldn´t find enough priesthood holders to be witnesses or people to give talks until the last second.  Also, when we went to pick up Leslie for the service, it started pouring rain and we had to wait it out for a while.  Anyway, it all worked out in the end, and we had the privilege of watching this super prepared man be baptized.

Without worrying at all about the organization of this email, here are a few things I love about Nicaragua:

-The people all call each other Hermano or Hermana and their first name.
-The mangoes and avocadoes. Oh my, there is no comparison to what we have in the U.S.
-People have these Photoshop photos hanging on their walls.  Like, they´ll take a picture of their kid in a white shirt and tie and superimpose it on a picture of a grand entryway with a marble staircase, or a soccer field, or an animated scene.
-Mototaxi rides home some nights. They´re kind of like three-wheeled golf carts, and they drive fast.  It´s nice when we don´t have to walk home.

I´ve been diligent about the bug spray and don´t have too many more bites.  These bugs are sneaky, though, and I find bites in places I should have three layers of clothes.  People tell me that the bugs stop biting so much after you´ve been here a while. 

Ahh, half of the power in the cyber cafe just went out!  I better send this quick in case the computer loses my message.  I love you and I´m loving my mission!  I hope soon to feel like I´m able to share my testimony and teach as I want to teach instead of being limited to what I feel like I can say without making mistakes.  But I also decided that it doesn´t matter if I make mistakes, because these people will still like me anyway.

Much love,

Hermana Hansen

P.S. Explanation of the subject line: one of the borrachos called me la chelita Mormoncita this week, and I kind of like it.  Other things people have called me: la niña, la muñeca, and Barbie.  Haha, I´m going to be so vain when I come back, because here everyone thinks I´m beautiful!

P.P.S.  The power´s still good, so here´s a quick funny story: Hermana Aquian and I started one of our lessons by singing a hymn, Dios da Valor (God Speed the Right). But our singing was horribly off-key.  We both looked at each other and started laughing (have I mentioned how adorable Hermana Aquian´s laugh is?) and couldn´t stop.  We had to choose a different hymn to try to keep the Spirit.  Now whenever there´s a dull moment, one of us just sings, ¨Dios da valor...¨ and we both crack up.

Monday, June 16, 2014


 Our classroom in the CMM

Our bathroom.  Notice the bucket, because the water usually doesn't run in the mornings.  And the sink doesn't ever work.

The Map!  With Hermana Cole

The MTC District.  Elder Figueroa, Elder Quintero, Elder Dixon, Hermana Cole, Hermana Geis, Me, Elder Garcia, Hermana Francom

 The bugs here love me more than the people do.  Don't worry, I found my bug spray after the first day.

El Bautismo!  Don't worry, I always look that good down here.  18 months of gorgeous, coming at you!

Post-baptism celebratory meal

Distrito Universitaria

Week 2: Estoy en Nicaragua!

Hola, familia y amigos!

I´m in Nicaragua!  How crazy is it that I´m actually here?  Oh my, I have so much to write, so hopefully I can get as much in as possible.  I wish I could just send you my journal, but this will have to suffice.

First off, everything you´ve ever heard about Nicaragua is true.  Let me list the wildlife I see every day, in order of how many there are (and sorry, I can´t speak English OR Spanish, so that´s why my grammar will be all over the place): insects, chickens, dogs, other birds, lizards, pigs, horses... it goes on.  I´m in Monte Fresco, which as far as I can tell is super close to Managua.  The ¨monte¨ part is definitely true, but I´m not sure about ¨fresco¨; I still think it´s pretty hot and humid. ;)  The roads are all dirt or stone.  We climb a lot of hills and visit people in their cement and tin houses.  I´m getting the full Nicaraguan experience... bucket shower my first day, bug bites all over my legs, huge rainstorm in a metal-roofed house. We have a member of the Relief Society who we pay to make our lunch every day.  I´ve eaten rice and beans at every meal, as well as platanos in every form (fried, boiled, sweetened, in the peel, etc.).  I´ve had some delicious juices and other drinks as well.  I´ve liked everything I´ve tried.

The people here are wonderful.  They´re always willing to stop and listen, even if they won´t ever keep their commitments.  Oh, these Nicaraguans... the first few days, I was pretty sure they weren´t even speaking Spanish, but I´m getting better at listening carefully and understanding the accent.  I can understand conversations, but for some reason when they ask me direct questions, I have no idea what they´re saying.  And every time I´m asked to pray in a lesson, I panic and forget how to speak Spanish.  Once, it was so bad I was afraid to even open my eyes, and when I did everyone was staring, and Hermana Aquian was trying hard not to laugh.  Hahaha, I look forward to the day that I am fluent in Spanish.

Hermana Aquian is great.  She´s from El Salvador and is literally a head shorter than me.  I love being tall here in Central America!  Anyway, Hermana Aquian takes good care of me on the scary jam-packed buses and when we walk past drunk men.  She speaks some English, so we can communicate with no problem when I speak as much Spanish as possible and she clarifies with English when necessary.

We live with two other Hermanas in a house that I´m told is pretty nice for Nicaragua.  Hermana Cuque is from Guatemala and is in her last transfer.  She´s training Hermana Richins from Las Vegas; Hermana Richins and I have fun talking in English sometimes to keep us from going nuts. :)

We had a baptism on Saturday!  Two jovenes, cousins Jordan and Josue.  Jordan is 12 and Josue is 9, and I can see Josh being best friends with these kids.  Josue is a mischevious little monkey, and Jordan is more laid back.  Josue´s mother is less active, but she came to the baptism and confirmation the following day with her other kids, so I´m hopeful she´ll come back into full activity.  We work a lot with less actives... people accept the gospel, they just don´t want to live it forever.

Anyway, I´m going to try to send some photos now, but hopefully I can include some funny moments and tender mercies first.

Funny moments: On the bus, there was a lady with a bag full of chickens on her lap.  Seriously, like five live chickens just chilling on her lap with their heads sticking out of a bag.  I was standing next to her and trying not to squish them.  Just another day in Nicaragua!

Tender mercies: I´m pretty sure I met one of the three Nephites.  His name is Max Arcia, and he stayed with me in the Atlanta airport when I was traveling to a foreign country all by myself.  He´s from Nicaragua but speaks fluent English, and he has a daughter serving in Nicaragua as well (but not my mission).  He bought me lunch, let me use his phone to call home, and told me everything I need to know about Nicaragua.

Okay, I could go on all day, but I want to send photos, so that´s all for now.  I am learning and growing a lot.  The days are long and hard, but I know this is where I´m supposed to be right now in my life.  The gospel is so true!  I can´t wait until I can actually share it with these people... praying for the gift of tongues down here. :)  Anyway, I love you all!

-Hermana Hansen

Monday, June 9, 2014

En route to Managua!

So this is Ali's mom.  I just talked to Hermana Hansen on the phone.  She called from the Atlanta airport to let us know that she is happy and well and excited about boarding the plane to Nicaragua in a few hours.  It was AWESOME to hear her voice!
Here's a tender mercy from the Lord.  On her flight from SLC,  Ali met an LDS businessman who was born and bred in Nicaragua but now lives in the United States and has a daughter serving a mission in Nicaragua.  He was able to educate her on the country and the culture and even briefed her on what to do should she ever fall prey to the stomach and intestinal issues that sometimes plague Americans in Nicaragua.  He treated her to lunch and helped her get where she needed to be.  Heavenly Father loves and watches over His missionaries!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Yet Another Change in Travel Plans

Dear Family,

So, there's been another change.  I'm now leaving on Monday for Nicaragua.

Love you!


My Visa Has Arrived!

Dear Family,

So, I was instructed to send you an email after receiving my travel plans to the Missouri Independence Mission last night, but today a miracle occurred... my visa for Nicaragua came through!!!  I will fly to Managua on Tuesday morning as planned.  I'm not sure whether I will have another chance to email before then, or whether I will be able to call from the airport.  So don't expect a call, but please pick up if I do!  You can send me a Dear Elder with the best number to call just in case.

I love you lots, and I'm excited to hop on a plane to Nicaragua in a few days!  Thanks for being so great!

-Hermana Ali Hansen

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week 1: The First Week at the MTC

Hola, querido familia y amigos!

I can't believe I'm finally the one on the other side of the computer, writing my first email home as a missionary!  I'll try to write quickly so I can include as much as possible in the limited time we have to email.  And hopefully send pictures as well...  Also, I'm constantly thinking in half Spanish and half English, so forgive me if I sound a little strange.

My companion is Hermana Cole, and I have a strong testimony of the fact that she was meant to be my companion.  She is so amazing, I can't even adequately describe her.  Hermana Cole is from the Chicago area and attended Vanderbilt for two years before her mission, studying Spanish and Political Science.  She is a convert of about a year and a half, and her testimony is rock solid.  She is also the only member of the church in her family... see, I told you she was incredible!  Hermana Cole has so much faith, confidence, and love for missionary work.  She has helped me a lot this week in my Spanish, in teaching lessons, and as a source of moral support.  She and I have been called as sister training leaders for our zone (which is only a week-long assignment because our zone is all advanced Spanish districts), so we get to welcome the new missionaries tomorrow and give them an orientation.  Aaah, I can't express in words everything I wish I could communicate to you about Hermana Cole, but just know that I have been highly blessed with a fantastic companion!  Oh, and she'll be serving in the El Salvador Santa Ana mission.

Also, I got word from the travel office yesterday (and from Dad in email today) that due to changes in the visa requirements for Nicaragua, I will receive a new stateside assignment for the first transfer of my mission.  The official travel arrangements should get to me in the mail on Thursday, but I've heard that I have been assigned to labor in... drum roll please... MISSOURI!  I'm happy with the change, because I know everything happens according to God's plan.  Hermana Cole is temporarily reassigned to Texas, so we'll both be sweating and getting fat on rich Southern food together. :)

Speaking of food, the food here has been pretty good.  We have a cafeteria in a large trailer building, but it's nice and there are a lot of options.  I always get full, but I'm not super tempted to overeat, so it's a good balance.  Today we went up to the main MTC campus for lunch, though, and I wish someone could have taken our picture because our jaws all dropped when we saw how big the cafeteria there is, and how much food they have!  We were overwhelmed by all the people and the different languages, and were very happy to return to our cozy little Spanish heaven over here at West campus. :)

We live in the Wyview apartments and have classes in the Raintree apartments.  Our apartments are spacious, with four hermanas to an apartment sharing one bathroom, so we are very blessed.  The classroom is small, but there's a nice area outside with grass, trees, and a little river thing, so we like to do personal, companionship, and language study out there when we can.

My district is great!  I don't think I have a picture of all of us, but I'll try to send one next week.  Hermana Francom is a ballroom dancer from Preston, Idaho and is going to serve in the Chicago West mission.  Hermana Geis is from San Diego and will serve in Costa Rica (if she gets some visa problems worked out); she has super cute clothes because she worked at Mikarose while she was going to BYU this year. :)  Elder Dickson is our district leader, and he's originally from the Dominican Republic but has been living in West Valley for the past several years.  He's going to the Idaho Twin Falls mission and wants to be a barber after he gets home.  Elder Quintero is from Tucson, Arizona and is going to Ogden, Utah.  He graduated from high school a week and a half ago and has earned the nickname "Cookie Monster" because he eats five cookies with every meal.  I've tried to teach him that the fifth cookie tastes the same as the first, but he has yet to experiment upon the word.  And Elder Garcia is the third member of their "tripanionship"; he's from California and is going to Chesapeake, Virginia.  He rarely speaks, but he's a gentle giant.  All of our elders and Hermana Francom are native speakers, so they help the rest of us out.

We practice teaching a lot here at the CCM!  So far we're teaching Martin and Angel (who are actually our teachers, Brother Dean and Brother Adlish) just about every day.  I struggle to speak Spanish during the lessons because I'm under pressure, but Hermana Cole always helps me.  We also started teaching Carlos in TRC.  It's so cool how you can feel guided by the Spirit to know what these people need to hear as you plan and teach the lessons, even though they're not technically real investigators.  Being a missionary is the best!

Class is great, although it's long.  We only speak in Spanish during class, and I can understand everything even though I can't always remember how to reply.  I realized that I need to be working a lot harder to learn Spanish; the first few days I was overwhelmed, so I gave myself a pep talk about how I shouldn't expect to know how to speak perfectly in two days.  Then in my personal study about faith, I realized how important it is to work diligently if we want to see miracles, because work is a super important part of faith!  So I'm repenting of my laziness and developing a plan for my personal language study time (we don't do any language study in class) to improve my Spanish.

Aaah, there's still so much I could say!  We have gym in the white "bubbles" or on the field by Wyview.  There's volleyball in the first bubble, basketball and weights/stationery bikes/ellipticals in the second one, and basketball in the third one as well.  It gets pretty toasty in there, since we have gym right after lunch.  It's good though, it helps us not to eat as much. :)

Our branch presidency is President Call, Brother Nilsson, and Brother Jeffs.  Brother Nilsson baptized Pelayo Bonilla and is an assistant coach of Orem High football.  Brother Jeffs lives in Orem too, but he's not the same Brother Jeffs that used to be on our high council.

I haven't been to choir yet, but we're going today at 5:15.

I don't have too much more time, but I want to include a couple of funny moments: 1)  On Thursday, we went to a people and purpose meeting where they showed a video.  The man speaking had a heavy accent, and we had been speaking Spanish all day, so for a good 45 seconds of the video I had no idea what he was saying.  It sounded like a completely foreign language.  I was trying to listen in Spanish but was getting so flustered because I didn't understand, and then I realized he was speaking English.  2) Elder Quintero has been talking about Elder Eric Mika all week, and then we saw him at the devotional on Sunday.  He gets all excited to talk to him, but then when he got over there, he opens his mouth and asks, "Where's the bathroom?"   He was so disappointed that he missed his chance!

Aaah, I'm nearly out of time, but I want you to know that I am learning a lot about myself and about the gospel here in the CCM.  I came into the MTC a little cocky, I think; I imagined I would breeze through the MTC and thrive in an environment filled with shining moments full of the Spirit.  The reality is that missionary work is still work, and you will always have to work to feel and recognize the Spirit.  It's not a comfortable gospel, but a gospel of change.  I'm working on changing to become the person and the missionary that God wants me to be.

I am happy and I love you and miss you!  Now I'll try to send pictures...


Hermana Hansen