Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 21: Pon tu hombro a la lid

Dear family and friends,

Ahh, it´s a good day to be a missionary!  I feel like we´re finally gaining traction here in Loma Linda (after 8 weeks) and the Lord is blessing us with the fruit from our more dedicated effort this week.  But first, let´s start with the low moments and end on a high note, shall we?

Bad news: It turns out that a little hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin are not sufficient protection for an open wound in Nicaragua.  My scraped leg got infected.  I´ll spare you the gory details, but for about three days it burned from the outside, hurt from the inside, and excreted pus.  Sorry, no pictures! :) Not to worry, it´s almost 100% healed now after more disinfecting stuff, Neosporin, and prayers.

The sadder part is that I let myself wallow in self-pity on Thursday and was thinking a lot more about myself than my investigators, my companion, our recent converts, and my calling as a missionary.  It was a hard lesson to learn at the end of the day when I realized that I had used fatigue, pain, and whatever other selfishness as an excuse to not give the Lord my all.  But as horrible as that feeling was, it was the motivation I needed to repent and rededicate my efforts to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind and strength.  I´m so grateful for the Atonement and the divine gift of repentance.  As a result, we saw miracles this week!

High points: Sunday!  We had a record number of investigators, recent converts, and overall attendance at church.  I´m not sure exactly what changed to bring about this miracle, but I do know that the Lord magnified our efforts and blessed us with additional tender mercies.  I know without a doubt that He loves His children.  

One of these miracles is Sonia, who turns 45 this Tuesday.  We contacted her last Saturday when she was standing at her gate.  We approached her and asked how she was, because she looked really sad.  She told us that her daughter is in prison and some other sad things.  We shared our testimonies that God loves her, along with a scripture, a prayer, and the invitation to come to church.  When we passed by the next morning for church, she wasn´t there.  We returned later in the week for our scheduled return appointment, and she wasn´t there again, but her daughter let us in and we had a quick lesson.  The faithless part of me was ready to write Sonia off as another dead-end contact, but miraculously, I saw her and her daughter walk into the chapel from my spot at the piano in Sacrament Meeting yesterday.  She had a fever and headache, but decided to come anyway and stayed for all three hours.  Both she and her daughter loved everything about church and easily accepted a baptismal date in our appointment later that afternoon!  Yep, those miracles really do exist, o ye of little faith (cough, Hermana Hansen)!

We´ve seen more success as we worked with members and got closer to meeting the mission´s established standards of excellence this week.  We´re learning how to be more brief and powerful in lessons, using our time more effectively and concentrating on smaller parts of the area instead of losing time walking from place to place.  The Lord is definitely preparing hearts, we just need to have the focus, love, and patience to find, teach, and baptize these people!

I love you tons and pray for your eternal happiness!  Don´t forget to remember the Savior this week and apply the Atonement in your life.  


Hermana Hansen

(Lame) photos:

1) (From last week) Elder Shepherd´s only towel got sent back in my laundry and he had transfers, poor kid.  No worries, he and his towel have now been happily reunited.

2) Church bathroom selfie after getting caught in the pouring rain.  And you can´t really tell how wet we are, but it´s the only picture I took this week...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 20: ¿Ya es lunes?‏

Dearest family and friends,

Um, is it really Monday?  This week has FLOWN by!  Let´s see how much of it I can cover in the following bullet points:

- Transfers happened, and I´m sticking around in Loma Linda with Hermana Estrada!  This means I get to ¨kill¨ her at the end of the transfer when she goes home.  Also, they combined my old area, Monte Fresco 1, with Monte Fresco 2.  The district lost 3 missionaries, and the remaining 6 of us already know each other from the last transfer, so that´s cool.

- I experienced my first real earthquake on Monday night!  I was at my desk around 10:00 PM and Hermana Estrada was in the bathroom when I started to feel dizzy and realized the ground was moving up and down.  Hna. Estrada asks from the bathroom if I feel the ¨temblores¨ and hurries out to join me.  We sat under our desks for five minutes or so until it passed.  The whole thing was much less dramatic than I had imagined an earthquake would be, but at least I can cross it off my bucket list!

- Jovany got baptized!  There was a bit of stress because his mom and grandma hadn´t shown up and the priest who was going to baptize him had to leave, but in the end it all worked out.  And we had a room full of excited youth who had come straight from a stake activity to support him!  Plus, investigators Jason, Gerald, Erwin, and Omar were all there, which helped them feel more comfortable with the whole idea of baptism.  Whoo!  Jovany is such a sweet kid with a pure heart.

- I went on splits with Hermana Enniss this week, the new sister training leader.  Wow, she is so inspiring!  Always positive, working diligently the whole day, speaking Spanish like a Nica, asking inspired questions, and just overall loving being a missionary.  She makes me want to be better!

- A cockroach the size of my thumb crawled on my leg during a lesson.  Also, we´ve had bats fly super close to us twice this week.  And I saw a lizard the size of my arm (tail included) chiling on a wall.  Oh, just another day in Nicaragua!

- So, most of the ¨roads¨ here are dirt paths with rocks and garbage mixed in to keep the dirt from eroding away.  On our ¨Sunday morning run¨ to bring investigators to church, I tripped and scraped my leg pretty bad.  I was all up for continuing the journey, but when I saw blood dripping down my leg, we decided to stop and let a nice woman loan us some alcohol and antibiotic ointment to clean it up first.  I´m fully invested in the mission now - blood, sweat, and tears!

- On Monday, it was raining.  We contacted a house and they let us in.  We start sharing a little bit about the restoration with the wife while the husband is in the kitchen.  He comes out and hands us piping hot mugs of coffee... well, this is awkward.  ¨Actually, we don´t drink coffee.  But can we share more of our message with you next week when you´re not so offended?¨  No, they´re not getting baptized... not every day is an Ensign moment. :)

- I´ve said before that the recent converts are like our wayward children.  So often, missionaries come to an area and get people all excited about baptism, then the missionaries get transferred and leave recent converts with broken hearts and underdeveloped testimonies for the next missionaries to take care of.  Recent converts are one of my biggest sources of worry in the mission - how do we help them repent, gain testimony, and stay strong in the gospel?  But then I realized that I have the perfect examples in my own family and life experience.  If these converts are like my kids, what is it that my parents did to help me gain a testimony?  We read the scriptures together and they explained the hard words.  We said family prayers.  We had Family Home Evening.  They took me to church.  They shared their testimonies and their righteous examples.  I can teach our recent converts those same traditions - the basic practices that help our testimonies to grow.  So thanks, Mom and Dad, for helping me when I was a ¨recent convert¨ to gain my own testimony, and thanks for giving me a great example to follow!

That´s it for this week.  I love you all a lot and pray for you often!

-Hermana Ali Hansen

P.S. Photos may or may not be coming if I can find a USB port on this computer...


1)  This is my area!  Actually, a lot of that behind me is technically the Elders´ area, but still... this is Nicaragua!

2)  Jovany´s baptism!  With his mom, her boyfriend, Jovany´s nephew, and his grandma Esmelda.  It´s really a bummer that Nicas don´t like to smile for photos...

3)  The battle scar

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 19: Learning in Loma Linda

My dear family and friends,

Wow, has it been a week?  I feel like this week was about three days long!

This week we had a special training for sister missionaries.  Hermana Russell, the mission president´s wife, talked to us about dress and grooming and President Russell talked about the changes we need to make to see more success.  Specifically, 1) Lose yourself in the work instead of focusing on yourself. 2) Stop ineffective habits and routines. 3) Be bold and innovative. 4) Don´t be afraid to be bold in extending commitments or of losing an investigator. 5) Use the teaching skills in chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel.  We learned and practiced effective contacts and inspired questions.  Inspired questions are still hard for me, but my comp and I have been trying hard to apply the principle this week with mixed results.  Sometimes you can see the gears turning and feel the Spirit working, but other times the person just launches into a 10-minute story about how they got offended by a member of the church or why their life is falling apart.  Learning to listen to and follow the Spirit is going to be a process of my whole mission and my whole life, I think!

We´ve seen the beginnings of working more effectively with the ward this week.  We met with the bishop to discuss specific needs and how each of us can support the other in our callings.  Also, there was a ward activity on Saturday with dancing by each organization, which was super fun.  The bishop´s wife and the relief society president can shimmy (how do you spell that?)!  A little bit different than the ward activities I´m used to in Utah, but definitely a good experience for all involved.  And then on Sunday, we went out to do some visits with the young men´s president, elders´ quorum president, and relief society president.  We were introduced to some really positive less actives, part member families, and old investigators in those two hours, not to mention I discovered an entire huge new part of my area that I didn´t know existed.  It makes me want to work with members every day!

Ah, we are constantly working on trying to work more effectively.  We struggle with trying to meet the numbers goals while also trying to teach effective lessons.  Also, finding our investigators during the week is tough.  It´s easy to meet with someone one time and get them to commit to a baptismal date, but then we can hardly ever find them and help them progress.  However, we´ve made some changes in our companionship study to help us and are trying to keep organized and focused on our mission´s motto of ¨Bautizar y Retener!¨ 

Funny moment:  My companion often has little bursts of English when she gets worked up about something.  One day, she discovered a hole in her sock and exclaimed, ¨Oh freak, you can see my fingers!¨ Hahaha, fingers and toes are both ¨dedos¨ in Spanish.

Testimony moment:  The Book of Mormon is true!  I finally finished reading it in Spanish (only took me eight months, but I did do a lot of highlighting and scripture-journaling in that time) and I can´t express just how powerful that book is.  Also, one day we went to visit a recent convert family and read 1 Nephi 11 with them.  I had been feeling super stressed and consumed by the numbers that we never seem to be able to meet, but as we read about Lehi´s vision of the Tree of Life, I felt the unmistakable peace that the Holy Ghost brings.  I realized that my goal as a missionary is to lead people to the gospel (the Iron Rod) that helps them to experience the fulness of the Love of God, the fruit of the Tree of Life.  I need to focus more on loving the people, loving the gospel, and loving the Lord in order to accomplish my missionary purpose, and then trust that the Lord with magnify our efforts to meet the numbers.  So hey, you, read the Book of Mormon!  I don´t have the answers to your problems, but the scriptures do!

Alright, novel over.  Until next week´s chapter, anyway!  I love you all tons and wish each of you success this week!


Hermana Ali Hansen

P.S. Could someone send me the English lyrics of the hymns How Firm a Foundation and Go Forth With Faith?  Also, Elder Holland´s talk ¨Feed My Sheep¨ that I can print off?  Thank you!


1) Emma had a question about the shower, so here you go.  The Ziplock bag acts as showerhead to make the water run vertically instead of shooting horizontally.

2) My comp and I on the way back from our P-day McDonald´s lunch

3) A puppy in the home of a recent convert family.  I know, I look lovely... but the puppy is cute, and an unflattering photo is better than none!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 18: Conferencia y milagros‏

Dear Family and Friends,

So, let´s talk about General Conference, and how absolutely wonderful it was!

All this week, we´ve been teaching and testifying about prophets.  We wrote lesson plans and contacting approaches to invite everyone we could to hear the voice of the Lord´s living prophets.  My testimony of the divine role of these chosen servants certainly grew as I bore testimony and opened my mouth to invite and invite and invite people to conference!

So come Saturday morning, and we go to our established meeting place (the church) for all the people who have committed to accompany us to the stake center to see the first session of conference.  And not one of our four ¨for sure¨ investigators was there.  We decided to go look for Jovany in his house, and as we´re walking down the hill we see him coming up, all spiffy in his polo and jeans.  ¨Don´t tell me it was cancelled!¨  We grabbed a bus and made it to the stake center just as the session was starting.  And some lovely members had prepared a room with the conference proceedings in English for all of the ¨cheles¨ (American missionaries).  Those two hours in a quiet, air-conditioned room listening to inspired leaders of the Lord speak in English was a slice of heaven!  I loved all the talks, but Elder Uchtdorf´s message in particular went straight to my missionary heart.  My companion and I were all smiles as we reunited after the session and discussed the talks the whole way home on the bus.  Jovany stayed with a member, who gave him a tour of the stake center.

And now for our miracles this week:

1) During the hours of the Saturday afternoon session, we were feeling a little sad that we couldn´t go because we didn´t have investigators, but also super excited to work because we were on a ¨conference high.¨  The Lord blessed us in this time to get permission from Erwin´s mom to teach him (15-year-old brother of Omar), find a new investigator, and have two people accept our baptismal invitations.  Exact obedience brings miracles!

2) We went to find one of our investigators earlier in the week, but he wasn´t home.  We´re walking to our backup plan when Hermana Estrada stops and yells ¨Buenas¨ at a gate to contact.  A woman opens and lets us into her yard.  We ask a few inspired questions (we´ve been working on that) and the woman (Karla) totally opens up.  She tells us about some issues she´s had in her family and that she feels an emptiness and wants to change.  We testified that the gospel can help her to feel this peace and make the changes, and she starts to cry.  ¨I always tried to avoid the Mormons when they came by because I thought they were just here to bother me, but I know that God sent you here for a reason.¨ Ensign moment!!  We committed her to come to conference and left a pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation.  Which leads to miracle 3...

3) We pass by Karla´s house on Sunday morning to remind her about her commitment for the afternoon session, and she´s worried about leaving her house unattended but says okay.  Then when we come back at 1:00, she opens the gate and is still in her t-shirt and hasn´t bathed.  We´re all ready to pull out our regular ¨how to convince someone to come to church¨ routine that we do every Sunday morning, when she says, ¨You know, when I heard you yell ´Buenas´ I was about to give you the excuse that I wasn´t going to come because I had to finish washing the clothes, but I decided, ´No. I made a commitment to these girls, and I´m going to keep it.´¨ Karla doesn´t have a shower, so she poured a bucket of water over her head right there and started to wash her hair in that very moment.  In the next fifteen minutes, she had bathed and dressed herself and her two young daughters, and off we went to conference!  And she loved the messages, and her daughters were very well behaved, and we introduced her to some members.  WOW.  I am a woman of little faith, but God works miracles!

4)  I watched the Sunday sessions of conference in Spanish, and I understood without any problem.  The Spirit speaks in English and Spanish, so it´s all good!

Ah, as always, there´s more I could say, but as always, my email is already a novel and my time is short.  Just as a last thing, I´ve been studying about accountability this week and have learned a LOT.  Read that section in chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, and don´t forget to give an account of your day to the Lord in your prayers, as Elder Scott (I think) counseled.  Oh, and did you know he does his own Spanish translation, in his sweet soft voice (¨vocecito¨ as Hermana Aquian calls it)?  Also, Moroni 7... Mormon´s ¨conference talk¨ from long ago.  Ah, he makes me want to be a more eloquent and effective missionary, that Mormon!

Okay, done now.  Keep the commandments, and keep your post-conference goals!  Blessings and happiness are promised!

Love you lots!

-Hermana Hansen

(Lame) photos!

1) Not sure this pic reallly does it justice, but here´s a snapshot of some typical power lines... all 25 or so on that one pole.

2) Happy 22nd birthday to my favorite big brother!  With one of my recent favorite Jake-isms.  I hope your day is full of good food!  ¨I hope it´s my birthday.  It´s my birthday right now actually.¨ Love you!

P.S. Thanks for the shirt, Mom!