Wednesday, July 30, 2014


 I can get mail, it turns out!  Thanks to Trevor Thurgood and Sister Angie Arnoldsen for your letters.  I really want to write back, but I seriously have no idea where I would go to send a letter from here... Maybe we'll go to Managua someday soon for a meeting and I'll ask about it.

 Chari y Yahoska!  As Hermanan Aquian says,  "Se bautizó Rihanna."

Sometimes, all the sister missionaries match on the day of baptisms.

Week 8: Es tiempo de cambiar...

Hello, all!

It´s been a week of changes!  Although Hermana Aquian and I will remain in Monte Fresco 1 at least until I´m finished with training (one more transfer), Hermana Cuque (our housemate) completed her mission and went home to Guatemala.  Hermana Richins gets to finish her training with Hermana Peña from Costa Rica, who is super funny and a really hard worker.  She has the rule of no English until after 9:30 at night, which is helping Hermana Richins as well as myself make leaps and bounds in our Spanish abilities.  I hadn´t realized how much English we were speaking while in the apartment (Hermana Cuque was trying to prepare for her end-of-mission English exam) until it was no longer allowed.  Haha, now my English is really going to slip as my Spanish takes up more space in my brain.

Anyway, it´s been an odd week.  There always seems to be something that happens that keeps us from working effectively the whole day.  At the beginning of the week, it was members wanting to feed all four of us missionaries in the ward for Hermana Cuque´s departure, and the meals always took way too long.  Then we had to go look at a house one day, because the one we´re living in has tons of issues.  For example, the water didn´t run for like four days, so we resorted to filling our shower buckets with some super sketchy water that was sitting in a blue barrel outside for who knows how long.  No lice or other diseases have surfaced from that experience yet, so we feel pretty blessed!  Anyway, other distractions... Hermana Aquian saw a rat (or some other rodent-like animal) the size of a small cat in our yard.  No more sightings, but we´re keeping our doors closed.

And hey, we had baptisms!  Chari and Yahoska are sisters, ages 14 and 15.  Pretty sure I´ve mentioned them before.  I´ll send pictures.  Yahoska attends seminary every day, and they´re both super sweet and willing to keep commitments.  

We´ve been working hard with some families this week.  Elmer and Jazmine are progressing well.  Elmer is a doctor and always reads his pamphlets.  He likes church a lot, but Jazmine is a little less sure.  They have one young son.  The other family is less active... Martin and Meylin.  They have the goal of being sealed in the temple, and Meylin is super ready, but, to put things lightly, Martin has fallen back into some vices that prevent him from being worthy.  Ugh, I just want to cry every time we talk with Meylin, her situation is so desperate!  We´ve gotten some members to help and she´s going to talk to the bishop, so hopefully things will improve.  I pray for them a lot.

Anyway, we´ve set some goals to work harder and more effectively.  I´ve been here for 6 weeks now, so I´m finished with the adjustment period.  No more excuses for my Spanish abilities or living conditions or anything... I´m ready to go forth with faith and open my mouth to fulfill my purpose as a missionary!

Love you lots!

-Hermana Hazkell... Hetzell... Hensen... Hansen (as they call me)

P.S. And I´m terribly sorry to Olimpia and Rachel Titensor... I´m the worst at managing my email time, so I´ll write to you next week!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


 Zona Universitaria

 National bird of Nicaragua.  This pic is basically for Rebekah.

Baleadas!  Also ate papusas this week... yum, El Salvador.  Good Work.

Week 7: Story Time!

Dear Fam,

Phew, what a week!  I´ve been kind of sick, but I´m basically over it now.  Luckily not my stomach... just everything that comes after that.  Nothing a little (or a lot) of Pepto Bismol can´t fix.  And Heavenly Father blessed me to have enough energy and little enough pain to work and feel the joy of being a missionary!

I mostly want to tell you stories from this week and the weeks prior that I´ve missed.  I apologize if I´ve already told one of them, I can´t remember.

Story 1: The soccer field

Hermana Aquian and I were working in kilometro 16.  We hiked up this dirt path to meet with Jerson, a menos activo about age 15.  We get up to the top of the hill to find about ten boys ages 9-17 using machetes to clear the weeds in order to make a soccer field.  Many were shoeless, some were shirtless.  All are members, less actives, recent converts, current or former investigators.  We gather them all under the trees for a few minutes to share a scripture and pray together.  Ah, it was like the epitome of being on a mission in Nicaragua!  Loved it.

Story 2:  The garden of Eden

Hermano Roberto and his wife Carla, the ward mission leader, accompanied us to the house of a recent convert who hasn´t been attending church.  His name is Jose Navas, and he´s around 50 years old.  He let us in to his huge, nice house, which is surrounded by tons of different kinds of trees.  He was so happy to see us; he has had a terrible bone infection in his leg and nearly died alone in his house.  He gave us all kinds of delicious fresh fruit, and we shared a message with him and listened to his story.  Also... he speaks English!!  He learned it living in Florida, so he has a heavy Southern accent, which is funny, but he´s super fluent.  We spoke Spanish the whole time anyway, but it was still cool.  And wonderful to eat fruit again after all the rice, beans, chicken, and root vegetables we eat at meals.  Sadly, we went to visit Jose again yesterday, and the doctors have given him three months to live.  Also, he has a huge testimony of God but basically zero testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We did what we could to bring the Spirit and help him feel some comfort, then we left.

Story 3: The cutest family ever

We brought Meilin and her little son Marcos to the home of the Roa family for a family home evening.  Both parents of this family are returned missionaries, and the husband used to be the bishop.  They have two young and very intelligent daughters, Nati and Ruby.  The Spirit is strong in their home.  They made us baleadas, since Wendy, the wife, served in Honduras.  Super delicious.  I was just amazed to see how willing they were to open their home and share whatever they have.  They have a super beat up car, and you could tell Darwin was exhausted, but he still drove Meilin home.  Ah, I love the members here!  They live their covenants!

Okay, time is up!  

Quickly, I want to bear my testimony about prayer.  The first week or so of my mission, I would get a little bugged if we only had time to say a prayer with an investigator... like it didn´t really help them at all and we were just trying to meet the numbers as far as lessons and such.  But I´ve realized how much power prayer can have.  I´ve seen people´s countenances and attitudes change as they pray with us.  I´ve felt personally so much closer to God when I sincerely pray to Him.  So I invite you all to pray!  Pray as a family.  Pray individually, and really talk to Heavenly Father.  I promise He´s there, and He´s listening.

I love you all!  Keep doing good things!

-Hermana Hansen

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 6: Una semana en fotos

Hey family and friends!

I wrote more individual emails today, which leaves me less time for the general letter.  And if you´ve emailed me and I haven´t responded, it´s not because I don´t love you. I´m keeping track, and I´ll get back to you all eventually!

I´m going to let the photos do most of the talking today...

1. These are remolachas, and they are delicious.  Hermana Maria, our lunch cita, makes them for us every once in a while, and they make my whole day.  Fried tortilla, spread with beans, topped with "ensalada", then special Nicaraguan cheese (not sure what it´s called, but it has a distinct flavor), and some cream to top it all off.  Yum!

2. Julio got baptized!  He´s 19, and yes, he´s very short.  He tells me I´m "grande."  He already has a bunch of friends at church, so that makes my heart happy.

3.  Oh, that´s just a tarantula on the wall of my bedroom, no big deal.  The pictures do not do it justice, it was huge!  Hermana Richins was talking to me, and all of a sudden her eyes get huge and she points to the wall: "Please tell me that´s fake!"  We all squealed and laughed and called a member to come kill it.  I mean, I can kill spiders, but that was an animal.  Ew.

4.  This picture says so much.  Moto taxi (we fit 8 people in that thing), street vendors, people in the background staring at us.  Just another day in Nicaragua.

5.  Ah, I love Nicaragua!  The ward mission leader, his wife, and their cousin took us to Crucero for P-day today.  It´s cool and foggy, and we took pictures in the rainforest, which is always right off the road.

6.  The view from Crucero.  Yep, I live here.

Ah, it´s killing me that I can´t tell you everything I want to!  Perhaps next week I´ll just take pictures of my journal entries and send those, haha.
Now I´ll copy over my letter to the president, since I´m out of time:

It´s been a week of progress here in Monte Fresco! We focused a lot on finding new investigators this week, and the Lord has blessed us for our efforts. The members have also been great at fellowshipping the investigators on the three occasions that different members have accompanied us. We´re super excited to start teaching a family that´s relatively new in the area and is friends of some members here. The wife, Yasmin, is very receptive to the message but has a little bit of doubt about the importance of priesthood authority. Anyway, we´re going to return when we can teach both the husband and wife together. And another woman, Ana Maria, is also really receptive. She reads all of her pamphlets and has great questions. It´s true that the Lord is preparing people for us to teach!

The other way I´ve seen progress this week is in myself. I realized that when I´m focusing on myself, it´s harder to feel the Spirit and be effective in finding and teaching. Even thoughts like, "I wish I could speak Spanish better to communicate what I want to say," or "I wish I was (a better scriptorian, a better teacher, friendlier, etc.)" are focused primarily on myself. Christ never focused on himself, only those around Him. When I stop worrying about my own faults and weaknesses, I am better able to feel His love for His children. Then He qualifies me to do His work. I´ve seen it come in moments during the lessons when I can speak Spanish fluently or connect with the investigators. I am only an instrument in the Lord´s hands; I can help this work by refining myself so he can work more effectively through me, but I can´t be a perfect missionary solely by my own efforts. I´ve found that I´m much less stressed and more effective, more led by the Spirit with this mindset.

Monday, July 7, 2014

feliz cuatro fotos

Week 5: ¡Feliz cuatro de julio!

Hey, family and friends!

Happy Fourth of July a few days ago!  Our Latina companions made sure that Sister Richins and I got to celebrate, so we dressed up in red, white, and blue and ate chicken burgers, fries, and cheesecake all from the freezer section of the little grocery store we have here.  I´ve never felt so American!  Haha, it was actually really fun, but I thought about what you all would be doing at different points throughout the day.  I love America, but now Nicaragua has a pretty big piece of my heart as well.

Wow, so much to write, so little time.  We´re going with bullet points to cover more ground:

-Julio had his baptismal interview and passed, but then went out of town for the weekend.  We have him scheduled for this Saturday, so we´re praying that all goes well with that.

-Jahoska and Chari are progressing well.  Jahoska goes to seminary every day (because Moises is there... flirt to convert is alive and well).  Anyway, these sisters are really receptive.  Jahoska read her pamphlet and 2 Nephi 31, so we´re pretty excited about her progress.  Chari asked if she could move her baptism up to this Saturday... well, you kind of have to come to church first, but hooray for your enthusiasm!

-The bugs and I continue to be at war with one another.  I think the bugs are winning.  I have bites on the palms of my hands, my toe, and the bottom of my foot.  Like, really?  I just have to laugh... and apply calamine lotion liberally.

-We had one of the assistants and one of our zone leaders come work with us one day this week.  Wow, that was inspiring; Elder Ortiz is super great at connecting with the people and helping them get excited about the gospel.  Elder Araniva uses great scriptures and teaches very clearly.  I took some good notes and am working on applying what I learned.

-More items to add to the list of things I love about Nicaragua: 
The starry nights
The brightly colored flowers
The dogs (like the people) bark, but they never bite

-You know how in the movies, sometimes a truck will drive past a person walking on the side of the road and splash them with dirty water?  Yeah, that totally happened to me!  I was wearing a black skirt and it wasn´t too big of a puddle, so not too much harm done.  We were laughing way too hard to care about the dirt.  Also, a gecko pooped on my head during personal study.  And ants attacked my bread.  Hermana Richins tells me I have the worst luck ever, but I think it´s just part of the mission experience.

-Here´s another reason I know Heavenly Father loves his missionaries: We walked over five kilometers while we were fasting, yet I felt no hungrier or weaker than usual when fasting.  Also, I was really worried we were going to miss the sacrament, because after an hour of trying to pick people up, none of our investigators would come with us to church and we´re not allowed to go without one.  I was praying my heart out to find someone to come with us.  We waited for a bus and at 8:55, one pulls up and there stands Leslie, our recent convert, white shirt and all.  Ah, God answers prayers!  And I love the sacrament.  Don´t take it for granted.

There´s always more I could write, but time is short.  I´ll see if pictures will work...

Anyway, I know this church is true.  It makes it worth it when I feel a little discouraged.  I know that Christ suffered for our sins, sorrows, sicknesses, and pain.  He understands us perfectly.  Through Him, we can conquer spiritual and physical death.  We can be comforted in hard times.  Also, we can feel the same love that He feels for people when we pray for that charity.  I have felt it, even with people whom I don´t know and with whom I can´t communicate fluently.  Missions are hard, but they´re the best!

I love you all tons!  Thanks for your love, support, emails, and prayers!

-Hermana Hansen