Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 17: ¡Eschuchen al profeta!

Dearest family and friends,

I love you all!  I received my birthday package on Friday, and it was such a joy to read your thoughtful notes and see all of your pictures.  Ah, seriously, it was so wonderful to read all of the kind words and spend a minute thinking about each of you and the examples you are in my life.  Also, I loved the new shirts and candy!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It´s been quite the week!  On Wednesday, our zone had divisions to help boost the ¨ánimo¨ throughout the zone.  I got to work in my area with Hermana Butler from Colorado.  She has 11 months in the mission. It was quite the change to have a gringa for a companion!  I felt weird walking around all day with someone who is taller than me. :)  I was able to learn from her teaching style, like that I can´t be afraid to call people to repentance or invite them to talk to their priesthood leaders.  But the catcalls more than doubled with two of us ¨chelitas¨ working together, so I kind of hope I never have a gringa companion!

We´ve been working a lot with Jovany this week, a 16-year-old reference from this adorable old woman (his grandmother) Esmelda.  She´s so funny; in appearance, she´s like an old Nicaraguan version of Luna Lovegood in her Spectrespecs.  We had a baptismal date for her, but she told us clearly she wouldn´t get baptized again in another church, so we dropped her.  Yet she comes to church faithfully and participates in the ward activities, then asks us to teach all of her family members.  And she receives us with hugs, kisses, and eternally long prayers when we pass by.  I love Esmelda!  Anyway, back to where I was trying to go with this... Jovany is super positive and reads his pamphlets and has thoughtful answers to the questions we ask him.  He was excited and nervous to go to church, fussing with his hair and clothes.  Yet afterward, when we asked him how he felt in the meetings, he said, ¨Calm.  Peaceful.  At home.¨ ¡Así es!  He´s getting baptized for sure!  His date is November 1st, but I think we can move it up.

We´re still struggling a little bit to find balance in helping our struggling converts, working with investigators who have a baptismal date, and finding new investigators.  But hey, a mission´s not a mission if it doesn´t stretch you, right?  We need to keep ourselves organized and focused in order to work effectively every hour of the day.  I know when we work diligently, the Lord magnifies our efforts so that we can reach our goals, both numbers-wise and souls-wise.  Does that make sense? 

Anyway, on to the funnies, because there were a ton of them this week!

1) We contacted a woman named Janet in the street, and we wrote down her address and set up an appointment for later in the week.  We go to search for where she lives (remember how vague the addresses are here?) and people direct us to the house where Janet lives.  A man lets us in to where two women are watching TV.  We greet the women and notice that they look a little confused.  My companion asks, ¨Did you remember our appointment?¨  Janet responds, ¨I´ve never seen you before in my life.¨  Turns out there´s more than one Janet that lives ¨half a block from the three crosses,¨ and while one of them is interested in learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the other one is suuuper Catholic.  We quickly invited them to church and excused ourselves, busting up as soon as we get out of earshot.

2) In a lesson with a recent convert family, we were sharing the story of Moroni and the Title of Liberty.  Hermana Estrada explains that in her family, they have a family scripture that is their personal Title of Liberty.  Intrigued, I ask her to share which scripture it is.  She tells me the reference, I find it and read it (the one about ¨perfect love casteth out all fear¨), then explain to the family how this scripture can be a source of strength and how they can find their own family Title of Liberty.  Later, my companion says, ¨You want to know something?  I don´t have a family scripture.  That was just the first reference I could think of!¨ Haha, I thought it was a little bit odd at the time, but who lies about having a family scripture?!  I don´t think this reads as funny as it actually was... maybe you had to be there.

3)  We´re casually walking down the street to our lunch appointment when an elderly less active sister calls to us from her yard.  We walk to her gate and she opens  it to reveal her husband sitting in a chair with his foot elevated.  As we get closer, we see that his toe is at an odd angle and there´s a few days old open wound.  Okay, just another day in Nicaragua... But then, this sweet sister starts to treat and dress the wound as we chat with them.  She explains each step of the process in great detail as we help her pour water over the foot and try not to vomit.  But hey, hunger cured!  And also, it turned into a lesson with a less-active, so there are our prayers answered that we would be able to meet our numbers goals for the day.

Okay, my emails have gotten way too long.  But quickly, I want to tell you all that that Book of Mormon is true!  Two chapters in particular that I enjoyed this week were Alma 31 and Ether 12.  They answered specific questions and situtations that I faced in the moments that I needed them.  Don´t forget to read this inspired book every day, because Heavenly Father can speak to you through its pages!

Also, enjoy conference!  And pray that our investigators will accompany us so that we get the privilege of watching the sessions!  Love you all bunches!

-Hermana Hansen


1) Me and Hermana Butler, with our matching bags!  Also, Hna. Enniss photobombing (we had photobombing missionaries in all three photo attempts)

2) Look how wonderful you all are!  27 notes from people I love!  Also, focus on my happy eyes instead of my weird hair and messy apartment. :)

3) My first nacatamale, a traditional food in Nicaragua.

4) What Hermana Peña told me my always-swollen feet look like.  :)

5) Birthday in a box!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 16: La semana de las reuniones‏

Dear family and friends,

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!  I feel so loved!  Today we had a zone activity where we played some intense volleyball (not keeping score or anything to comply with the missionary handbook, right?) and went to McDonald´s.  The other missionaries in the zone bought me an apple pie and sang Happy Birthday in the middle of the restaurant.  Also, Hermana Aquian bought me a Cinnabon cinnamon roll, and I splurged on a box of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds at the expensive grocery store.  So overall, a great day!  And I´m excited to celebrate a second time when the birthday package comes. :)

This was the week of meetings!  First, on Tuesday, we had a surprise zone meeting.  The reason: we set a goal to have 40 baptisms as a zone in September, and at that point, we had 6.  Eeesh.  Hastening the work!  Then on Thursday, we had a multi-zone conference.  It was super inspiring to hear from Presidente and Hermana Russell, attend the workshops, and mingle with the other missionaries.  I left feeling re-energized and with new ideas to strengthen my way of teaching and extending commitments.  On Thursday night, we had a long meeting with the bishop, his secretary, and the ward mission leader to figure out how to work more effectively with the ward leaders and members.  Then we had our regular district meeting on Friday.  And to top it all off, Sunday was Stake Conference, where I got to see lots of members and friends from the Monte Fresco ward.  Whew!  Lots of learning and planning, and now it´s time for working and applying!

Low moments of the week: I won´t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that this week I have gained a strong hatred for alcohol.  First, we found a recent convert drunk in the street, his wife having kicked him out and forbidden him to see his 10-month-old daughter.  Second, we talked to the wife of another recent convert family, who told us that her husband had come home drunk and unfaithful.  And third, we went to visit yet another family of recent converts (the last hermanas had a lot of success in this area) to find the husband chilling with his uncle, three empty beer bottles at his side.  

Aaaah, it hurts so badly to watch people you love make bad decisions!  My companion and I have discussed this problem a lot, trying hard to figure out what we can do to help these children of God remember their covenants, repent, and feel the Spirit.  It´s a really good thing that I´m on the Lord´s team, because I certainly don´t have all the answers, but He does.  He loves His children, and He will help us to speak the right words if we are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  The sadness I feel for their poor decisions means I´m serving with all my heart; now it´s time to serve with all my might, mind, and strength to be an instrument in bringing these sheep back to the fold.

Okay, let´s transition to some funnies to lighten things up:
1) Last Sunday, we sang the national anthem of Nicaragua as the closing hymn in Sacrament Meeting.  I was playing the piano in the meeting and my companion was leading the music, so we were sitting on the stand.  Well, it turns out that neither of us is Nicaraguan, and therefore neither of us has ever heard the national anthem.  Nonetheless, the first counselor of the bishopric wanted us to lead the music together.  So, we stood at the front waving our hands and moving our mouths as the congregation sang and stared.

2) One night we were heading back to the house and still needed two more contacts to meet our goals.  The streets were empty except for a fritanga selling some sketchy repochetas.  We went over to contact and ended up buying a questionable repocheta to help them out.  My companion didn´t want to eat it, but I wasn´t about to throw it in the street (you know I hate to waste food).  So my companion said the prayer before nightly planning and prayed that the repocheta wouldn´t make me sick.  I busted up laughing, ate the repocheta, and lived to tell the tale!

3) Our district leader told us that we should teach the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom in the same lesson for our investigator Omar.  We always teach him in the church, and this night there were a bunch of people at the church to play soccer.  We grabbed a couple of pre-misioneras to accompany us in the lesson.  Anyway, we start out explaining the Word of Wisdom, and my companion asks, ¨Do you currently use any of these substances?¨ And Omar answers, ¨Well, more than anything, the alcohol.  And I drink coffee.  Oh, and last year, I tried marijuana.¨ Oops, didn´t predict that!  And with the two members there... awkward.  Anyway, we talk about repentance and overcoming addictions, and he commits to try to keep this commandment.  Then we explain chastity - how it means abstaining from sexual relations before marriage and being completely faithful to your spouse after marriage.  He says, ¨What if you´ve already had sexual relations?¨ Oh, the faces of these 18-year-old girls were not helping this awkward moment.  Moral of the story?  Don´t try to teach the word of wisdom and the law of chastity at the same time, even if your district leader tells you to.  And especially, don´t teach them with ward members of the same age and opposite sex present.

Okay, this is definitely too long, but there´s always more I could say.  But hey, if you don´t read anything else, read this:  Everybody, get your hands on a copy of Preach My Gospel and study chapter 4, in particular the section titled ¨Pray with Faith.¨ Then apply!  Evaluating and improving my prayers has helped me to feel the guidance and presence of the Spirit so much more.  I´ve experienced that prayer is a form of work, and also that it can be energizing and invigorating.  Don´t miss a chance to talk to your Heavenly Father!

I love each of you and often pray for you individually!  Keep the commandments, and be happy!


Hermana Ali Hansen

1) The reason I´m getting fat... Hermana Gladiz sent us gallo pinto, scrambled eggs, and tortillas with Nica cheese to eat after daily planning.

2) Where´s Waldo... multi-zone photo.  Can you find me?

3)  Zona Universitaria (well, about half of the zone) at McDonald´s.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 15: ¡Feliz Día de Independencia!‏

Hey, everyone!

Happy Central American Independence Day!  As far as I can tell, that means that all the school children parade down the streets beating drums and waving batons, each school making up its own parade route.  ¡Viva Nicaragua!

Hmm, what do I have to tell you this week?  We studied the Christlike attribute of patience in our companionship study one day, and ever since then the Lord has blessed us with many opportunities to practice that virtue. :)  We´re still looking for new investigators, which means a lot of contacting.  Lots of contacting means lots of chances to talk with deeply engrained evangelicals, Jehovah´s Witnesses, and people who say, ¨It´s all the same God, so the manner in which we worship Him doesn´t really matter.¨ We had a couple of days where every appointment except for two fell through, which means... more contacting!  It`s good though, because contacting is something I always need more practice on.

But the work goes on!  We have the blessing of tons of recent converts in this area, including four families, who have all been baptized in the past 6 months.  They are super sweet to us missionaries, and they have adorable children.  Coni is 5 and always wants to hug us and ¨braid¨ our hair.  Enrique gifted me a picture of ¨Jose Esmid¨ that I will treasure forever.  Tania talks at the speed of light, but I feel right at home in her house with her kids Ithzell, Gabriel, and Uriel.  Elizabeth talks to us like we´ve been friends forever, and Ruth and Yader give us food and shelter from the torrential rain.  I am thankful for the opportunity I have to continue to help them strengthen their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and give friendly reminders about the importance of coming to church. :)

Well, I`m kind of at a loss for other news to tell you, so here´s a few quick culture things I don´t think I´ve mentioned yet that you might find interesting:

-Directions and addresses here are very different than in the States.  First, you choose a landmark (la Iglesia Mormona, for example) and then describe how many ¨blocks¨ in each direction your home is from that spot.  But even the compass directions don´t suffice; instead of North, East, South, and West, you would say ¨al lago¨, ¨arriba¨, ¨al Sur¨, and ¨abajo¨, respectively.  I walk around lost most of the time.  Good thing Hermana Estrada knows what she´s doing in this area!

-Greetings: If you pass someone in the street, you say, ¨Adios!¨ If you want to actually talk to that person in the street, you´d say, ¨Buenas tardes¨ or whatever time of day it is.  If you´re outside of someone´s house, you yell, ¨Buenas!¨ instead of knocking on the gate.

-Facial communication: you point with your lips.  Example: Who do you want to say the prayer?  They make a kissy face at one of the missionaries.  Also, if you don´t understand and want the person to repeat what they just said, stare at them and scrunch your nose and flare your nostrils.  Ah, so useful!

Okay, I think I´m done for today.  Just going to attach some photos to liven up this rather dead email!

But hey, I really do love being a missionary and the chance I get to study and share the gospel.  Don´t forget to read your scriptures, everyone!  I promise you´ll feel the peace that the Spirit brings!

Love to each of you!

-Hermana Ali Hansen

The richest part of our area, next to the church.  Check out those clouds!  One reason I smile every day... the sky is SO gorgeous here!

Photos: Loma Linda in the rain!  Pardon the stringy hair... looking into haircut options with a lot of apprehension...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 14: From the Monte to the Loma

Hey, everyone!

I write to you from the cool, air-conditioned cyber cafe in Loma Linda, my new area!  The weirdest part?  Loma Linda 1 is in the same district as Monte Fresco.  When I heard where I was going in the change meeting, I was totally shocked!  It´s a little odd, but I´m loving this area.  Here´s why:

-Hermana Gladiz is our lunch cita.  She´s famous mission-wide for her super delicious food and her love for the missionaries. In fact, I had been to her house twice before when I was in Monte Fresco for special P-day lunches and such because her food is so good.  Anyway, this wonderful woman lives across the street from us, and we always have lunch and often stop by to pick up ¨dinner¨ and say goodnight before returning to our house for the night.  It´s like living across the street from your grandma!  The last norteamericana in this area gained 15 pounds in her four and a half months here.  Bring it on!

-My new companion is Hermana Estrada.  She has almost 16 months in the mission and is super experienced at teaching, contacting, etc.  I can learn a lot from her!  She is from Guatemala and studied mechanical engineering before her mission.  It´s a little tough because she and her last companion, Hermana Oldroyd, were best friends, so I feel a little awkward trying to fill the space.  I´m trying to get used to talking more as we walk between citas to gain that friendship and companionship unity we need to help keep her trunkiness away.

-This area has SO MANY houses to contact!  Hermana Aquian always told me that Monte Fresco was a hard area because of all the casas fachentas (rich neighborhoods) that make it hard to contact, but I was okay with it because I didn´t know anything different.  Wow, my eyes have been opened!  There are houses and people and parks... so many people to tell about the gospel!  Definitely a lot of work to do in this area.

-I get to see Mama Aquian at district meeting every Friday!

-We pay Hermana Gladiz to wash our clothes in her washing machine, so no more waking up at 5:30 to scrub my clothes in the pila outside!  Woohoo!  Confession:  I actually kind of miss it.  Relaxing, time to think. ;)

-It´s still relatively cool compared to other areas, and the hills to climb are smaller than in Monte Fresco.  Hence, from the monte (mountain) to the loma (hill).

-We have a ton of recent converts in this area, and they´ve all been really welcoming.  Have I ever said how much I love that I give hugs and cheek kisses to tons of people that I´ve never met every day?  Really, Nicaraguans are great!

Anyway, I´m happy and adjusting to all the changes.  Oh, and before I left Monte Fresco, guess what?  Jazmine accepted a baptism date!  Ah, it was such a happy moment.  And Hermano Elmer said a really sweet prayer to ¨bless the hermana who leaves from this area that she will know she has done her work here.¨ That prayer was exactly what I needed to hear.  And Hermano Leslie made the most adorable sad face when we told him we had transfers.  He also said a super sweet prayer, as always, that made me tear up a little bit.  

Ah, I should upload some photos and sign out.  But if you´re looking for a short and powerful chapter of the Book of Mormon to read, I suggest Mormon 7.  Poor Moroni was left all alone to watch the destruction of his people, yet he always wrote his testimony and proclaimed the simple truths of the gospel with the knowledge that his words would help those who live in our day.  He testifies powerfully of the atonement, the scriptures, and the doctrine of Jesus Christ.  I love the Book of Mormon!  And I love the simplicity of the gospel.  Don´t forget that to KNOW the gospel is not enough... LIVE it!

Love you all a lot!

-Hermana Ali Hansen


1) The bathroom in my new house.  Nice little half wall and no door for privacy. But hey, I can flush my toilet paper in this area, so I´m certainly not complaining!

2) Hermana Aquian with her two hijas!

3) Hermana Estrada!

Monday, September 1, 2014


 Me with my second and third mom- Hermana Aquian and Hermana Maria, who makes our lunch every day.  She's hiding because she wasn't wearing a skirt and was embarrassed about her worn-out shoes... haha, have you seen our shoes?

 Some of the valiant youth of the Monte Fresco ward!

Andres Alvarado, the miracle!

Week 13: La tormenta y el milagro

Hello, my wonderful family and friends!

I´m just going to dive right in and tell you about our miracle this week:

A few weeks ago (or maybe like a month and a half), we received a reference from one of our zone leaders.  He told us that a man had approached him and his companion in the bank and that he wanted to be baptized.  (Just another day in Nicaragua!)  So, we´ve been trying to contact this guy for weeks, but he lives on outskirts of our area and he never showed up when we set up appointments in more central locations.  But this week, we went with our ward mission leader to finally meet the reference.  Andres Alvarado is his name, and he´s a 27-year-old medical student.  He´s Nicaraguan, but was studying in Costa Rica when he met the missionaries there.  He immediately felt the Spirit with them, but continued receiving lessons and attending church for four months because he wanted to be sure of his decision before getting baptized.  He had his interview, and all was set for his Saturday baptism.  Then, on Friday, he received word that his younger brother in Nicaragua had died.  He packed his bags and boarded a bus that night for Nicaragua.  So then, he has no contact with the church for two months until he sees these missionaries and later when we meet him on Tuesday.  We talked to him and he shared his testimony, which is strong... he is truly converted!  We set up his baptismal interview for the next day, and he was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday.  Is God not a God of miracles?  I have no doubt that He directs this work, and that none of His sheep are ever truly lost!

Another cool experience this week was ¨La tormenta.¨  Seriously, this storm was wild.  We were contacting in an area we weren´t all that familiar with when all of a sudden it starts to rain... like REALLY rain.  We hurried onto someone´s covered porch, and when we knocked and yelled ¨buenas,¨ nobody answered.  We ended up sitting on that porch for over an hour as the rain poured, lightning flashed, and thunder boomed.  The power went out.  It was super cool to watch for the first 20 minutes or so, but then we got a little numb.  Anyway, it finally died down enough to walk home.  However, the street is pretty inclined in that area, and it had become a raging river.  We carefully stepped through the neighbors´ yards to avoid getting our feet wet, and were feeling pretty good about ourselves until a little further ahead, when our tiny cell phone flashlight illuminated a veritable lake across the entire width of the street.  Hermana Aquian and I had no choice but to hike up our skirts and wade through knee-high rainwater.  Hahaha, so much for staying dry!

Oh, and yesterday was ward conference.  Basically, the best Sunday of my entire mission so far!  Have I ever talked about ward choir?  I´m the pianist, and we´ve been rehearsing for weeks to prepare for the conference.  The first few rehearsals were the biggest workout of my life as I tried to remember how to play the piano after months of not touching one, translating the choir director´s instructions (Spanish and music terms), watching the conductor, playing the different voice parts, and trying to finger pedal since there´s no real pedal... it was exhausting, but so fun!  Anyway, the choir sang in the conference, and it was a huge success.  Also, everyone got spiffed up and looked their best... Hermano Leslie and Julio wore ties to church for the first time, it was my favorite!  Plus we had two super positive investigators, and Andres got confirmed.  Wow, Sundays in the mission are always great, but this was exceptional.

Okay, I always have a ton more I could tell you, but I want to include photos too.  Also, transfers are this week... little bit anxious, but ready for change.  Change helps us grow, and Heavenly Father qualifies us!

Love you lots!  

-Hermana Ali Hansen