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.