Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 25: Placentero nos es trabajar...‏

Dear everyone,
´Twas a happy week here in Loma Linda!  With Hermana Estrada heading home this Wednesday, we really appreciated all the little things and felt the joy of being missionaries in Nicaragua.  On to the highs and the lows!
-Gerald got baptized!  We almost didn´t have water for the service, and we had to do another 2-hour church cleaning session early on Saturday morning to prepare, but in the end, all was well.  ¨El Malo¨ (as his friends call him) entered the waters of baptism and made his first covenant with the Lord!
-Erwin is loving the Book of Mormon!  When we checked up on his progress, he had read 14 chapters in two or three days.  He gave a talk in Gerald´s baptism.  Pure missionary material, that kid!
-Bettania is the 18-year-old daughter of a recent convert of the elders in our ward.  She was interested in the church because her dad changed drastically for the better as he investigated and got baptized last month.  Bettania has attended other churches, but didn´t like the irreverence of the evangelical churches and wasn´t a fan of worshipping saints in the Catholic church.  Anyway, when we went back for our second appointment and asked her how she was doing with her prayers, she responds, ¨I feel totally strange when I pray to know if the church is true.  I get all warm from my head to my feet and my heart beats fast.  I think I´ve found the truth.¨ (Who volunteers to send that one to the Ensign for me?)  Ah, she is just my favorite!
-Zone meeting on Friday.  I teared up a little at the thought of Hermana Estrada leaving as we sang ¨Para Siempre Dios Esté Con Vos.¨  But also, I learned a lot about how to use the Book of Mormon in teaching and inspired questions.  Hence, I consider it a ¨high.¨
-Some type of insect bit my foot and left it super swollen, red, and itchy for a few days.  Hermana Gladys named it ¨tortugita¨ (little turtle) and my district leader said it looked like a cupcake with the way it swelled up in my shoe.  The good news is, I took an allergy pill and the swelling went down after two days.  Also, Hermana Gladys is wonderful and made a foot soak out of mint leaves for me to use at night.
-This week in sacrament meeting, they forgot to assign people to give talks.  Without going into details about what happened next, suffice it to say that it was one of those ¨inner cringe¨ moments.  Sometimes learning to sustain your leaders is one of the hardest lessons in the mission.
-We set a goal to FINALLY meet the standards of excellence this week.  We had done all the math and knew how many people we needed to contact to meet the goal (we fell short in lessons with investigators and recent converts/less actives, but knew we could meet the goal for contacts).  Sunday night, we sit down to sum all the numbers, and... 167 contacts.  Standard of excellence? 168.  NOOOO!!!  We almost left the apartment to find one more person to contact, but decided that exact obedience and this lesson in humility were probably more important.
Anyway, I´m going to leave time for sending photos, so that´s going to be all for this week.  Don´t forget to do all the little things!  Choose the right way and be happy!  Grow those testimonies!  Give thanks!  Enjoy Thanksgiving for me!
Hermana Ali Hansen
1) Los chavalos at Gerald´s baptism. 
2) This amazing lady is Hermana Gladys!  My little abuelita who makes us food twice a day.  She is feisty and loves to tease, but she always has besos, nicknames, and comebacks for us, her ¨niñas.¨  Hermana Gladys delights in the fatness of the missionaries who pass through this area... :))  <-- My double chin
3) The wonderful ward mission leader, Hermano Neftali, with his wife and family (and Jose Andres who popped in for the photo)
4) Santiago, Elizabeth, Yorliet, and Jose Andres, one of the recent convert families we visit.  They love to tease me. They´re also hilarious and strong in their testimonies.
5) Gerald´s baptism!
6) My turtle/cupcake foot

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 24: Más chele...‏

Hey, family and friends!
So, this week: 
-Erwin got baptized!  The first time we tried to set a baptismal date with him, he told us his personal goal for baptism at the end of this year.  But with a little persuasion by us and mostly by the Spirit, he prepared for the 15th of November.  Erwin wanted to clean up his language before making this covenant, so we made him a cutesy sticker chart and he made his goal!  He´s a funny kid; when we asked him how he felt after his baptism, he responded, ¨Más chele.¨ or ¨More white/gringo.¨ And Jovany (who got baptized last month) gave a talk in Erwin´s baptism and made Hermana Estrada and I so proud!
-In the spirit of, ¨If you see something that needs to be done, just do it,¨ Hermana Estrada and I woke up early on Friday morning to clean the church.  After two hours of sweeping and mopping the hallways, we saw some major improvement and had blisters to show for it.  But we´re planning on going back one day this week with some members to give service and do a thorough cleaning of the chapel, classrooms, and bathrooms.
-We did a double take when we walked past our house on the way to our lunch appointment on Friday.  When we locked up in the morning, our house was red.  At noon, it was bright green.  I guess the landlord wanted a change and bought some paint...
-Sunday was so great!  Here´s why:
1) Eliet´s husband (who she´s not actually married to) came to church instead of spending the weekend drunk!  And he says he wants to change and accepted a baptismal date! 
2) Pedro (last week´s miracle contact) came!  We tried to contact him all week, but he was never home and doesn´t have a phone.  The bummer part is that he´s moving this week, but he plans to keep coming to church.  We´re going to pass the reference to wherever he goes, because this man needs to be baptized!
3) The talks in Sacrament Meeting were great!  And so was Gospel Principles!  Sometimes I steel myself for church because often the talks and lessons are prepared at the moment of delivery instead of in the days or weeks beforehand, and you´re never sure what´s going to be said that might scare your investigators away (or bore them).  But this week, the speakers testified of the Book of Mormon and family history in an interesting and approachable way.  Gospel Principles was on the Restoration and the teacher encouraged class participation.
-Nicaragua is beautiful.  I just never get over the sky, the green, the view of the lake and the volcanoes, the huge clouds, the colorful houses.... ahhh.  Literally, there are butterflies that flutter through the streets.  And there´s also a lot of dirt, garbage, and dog poop, but I still find it gorgeous!
I´m out of time, so I´ll attach a few photos and be done.  But I love you all and I love this work!  Make no mistake, it´s definitely work, but it´s worth it!
Hermana Hansencita
1) The crazy district!
2) Erwin´s baptism!
3) We had to go from the church to the mission office for Hna. Estrada´s final interview, and we didn´t have umbrellas, so we improvised.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 23: El poder de un contacto

To my wonderful family and friends:

Hey, it´s Monday again!  How does time pass so quickly in the mission?  I feel that I am not taking full advantage of every minute, and it stresses me out!

But really, I´m happy and learning, so it´s all good.  And now, on to the news, bullet-point style:

-The Relief Society put on a baby shower for a sister in the ward this Saturday.  When we first arrived (at 3:05 for the 3:00 shower), nobody was there.  So we dropped off our plates and cups and went to do some contacting.  At 3:45 when we returned, there were some sisters and some food and a few gifts, but no decorations or games.  The Relief Society president turns to us and says, ¨The sister missionaries are going to help us get started.¨ Turns out that we´re pretty good at teaching the gospel, but not so adept at throwing spur-of-the-moment baby showers.  So we sang a hymn, shared a spiritual thought, and asked the other sisters to share parenting advice.  After that, Vanessa and Lucia took over with the toilet-paper belly measuring and I imagine the group enjoyed the food after we had to leave for our other teaching appointments.  Awkward to the max!  Future missionaries, prepare yourselves with a few baby shower games, okay?

-The good thing about having a companion that´s about to ¨die¨ is that members want to invite us to eat with them.  We made tajadas with a less-active sister this week, and we have plans for other dinners.  Whoo!

-Sometimes the ever-present mission tiredness gets the better of us and results in hilarious moments.  This week Hermana Estrada invited an investigator to get baptized on April 6th instead of December 6th.  Also, she fell asleep in a prayer and said ¨amen¨ before the recent convert had finished praying.  The good news is that we were able to fix both situations as well as have a little laughing fit (I´m telling you, the sleepiness is SO real!).

-There are days when all of your appointments fall through for five hours straight.  But there are also days when your ward mission leader accompanies you for six hours.  The ups and downs of mission life.

-Had some important lessons with recent converts this week and committed them to come to church.  And we get so excited and feel the Spirit and can see that they´re feeling it too, and then they don´t show up on Sunday.

-Have I ever mentioned how often we find less actives while contacting?  It happens at least once a week.  Not sure why I felt the need to tell you all that...

-MIRACLE TIME!  We were looking for the house of a contact we had made in the street earlier in the week and had set up an appointment.  However, it was starting to get dark and we were in an area that´s supposedly dangerous at night.  I was focused on finding this house, having a quick lesson, and getting ourselves out of there.  We asked a man sitting in his hammock if he knew where these people lived.  He said no, so we thanked him and casually invited him to church (one more tally mark in our daily contacts).  He asked us more details about when and where, and we answered practically over our shoulders as we hurried on our way.  Fast forward to Sunday morning: I´m sitting at the piano in Sacrament Meeting and I see a man walk in and sit in the same pew as my companion.  She asks me at the end of the meeting, ¨Do you recognize him?¨ Nope.  But we talk to him in Gospel Principles to set up an appointment, and he tells us some of the details of his difficult life.  He has many vices and feels hopeless, but wants to change.  He says, ¨I was praying to God to help me, and then you passed by and invited me to church.  I´ve never been to a church before, even though my sister always invites me to her Evangelical church.  I knew you were an answer to my prayers.¨ Okay, one day I´ll learn to follow the promptings of the Spirit.  Until then, Heavenly Father will just help those people find their way to church so we can teach them.  Wow, He loves His children so much!  Pedro now has a baptismal goal for December 13th.

-I decided that a major part of serving a mission is learning how to deal with adversity.  You experience physical discomfort (sun, humidity, ever-present intestinal issues, bug bites, over-eating, hunger, back or foot pain, sore muscles, fatigue, etc.) and emotional/spiritual discomfort (rejection, investigators who don´t keep commitments, appointments that fall through, stress to reach numbers goals, sorrow at watching people deal with vices or family problems, homesickness, testimony-trying moments, language frustration).  But you learn to keep your chin up and keep working your hardest to fulfill your duty to your Heavenly Father.  And you learn to notice the hundreds of ways He is blessing you in His work.  You learn to study the scriptures and pray out of necessity to help these people you love and also to find solace and answers yourself.  Missionary problems are far different and sometimes I think easier than ¨normal life¨ problems, but they are helping me learn to rely on the Lord, keep His commandments, and endure to the end.

So keep on keeping on, everyone!  I know life is not easy, but it´s sure a whole lot easier when we live the gospel.  Make time for the Lord, and watch Him bless you!


Hermana Ali Hansen


1) Nicaraguan children are adorable.  Even if they don´t smile for pictures.  Meet Magaby, daughter of recent converts Alondra and Reynaldo.

2) Fernanda and Maura, daughters of less-actives.  Maura is the cutest/most talkative/most mischievous child I have met in Nicaragua.  Dad, you would get such a kick out of hearing this kid talk!

3) Pops!  P-day ice cream with Hermanas Grow and Carranza from the zone.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 22: Tengo gozo en mi alma hoy!‏

Dear family and friends,

Ah, another week has flown by!  Let`s see how many stories I can tell you in the remainder of my email time:

1) I learned this week the power of companionship unity!  Our district leader`s message in Friday`s district meeting centered around this topic, and it was definitely inspired.  Hermana Estrada and I were able to talk openly afterward, and now we`ve reached that level of friendship and trust that helps us work together toward the same goals, share the stress, and invite the Spirit in our lessons.  Seriously, it`s been like someone turned on a light in our companionship.  So hey, everyone, don`t forget to communicate!  Help your companion, and let your companion help you!  Unity invites the Spirit!

2) We went on divisions with two sisters in the ward to help us find new investigators and lessen the stress of meeting the numbers goals.  Wow, let me say one more time how much I love working with members!  I was with Vanessa, who just submitted her mission papers.  We visited a less-active who Vanessa knew from a few years before in Young Womens, but who stopped coming to church when she became a teenage mother and some members said horrible things.  Vanessa was able to share her testimony as we read in the Book of Mormon, and the less-active sister cried and said she would come to church this week.  Better yet, she actually came!  Other things we learned from doing divisions: 1) tons of ward gossip (that`s a huge thing in Central America, it seems), 2) confidence in my ability to teach, find, and do other missionary things on my own, and 3) where a bunch of less actives and past investigators live.

3) We were contacting one day and started talking to a family about prophets.  At first, they were asking good questions, but within a couple of minutes we realized they were super firm Jehovah`s Witnesses.  We would have closed the lesson quickly (that`s really not going to lead to baptism and is not a very good use of our time), but then the wife comes out with these delicious sweet bread things hot from the oven.  So we enjoyed our heavenly bread as these two men got their game faces on and pulled out a bunch of scriptures, and we calmly answered with our own scriptures, testimonies, and invitations to read, pray, and come to church.  But it was actually really interesting to hear their ideas of what`s going to happen after we die and so forth.  And even more testimony-building for me to realize that we don`t have to search for obscure scriptures to interpret in a way that upholds our religion, or get all worked up and contentious to defend it, because it`s simply TRUE!

4) Jason, Gerald, and Erwin (14-year-old soccer buddies) are progressing nicely in their testimonies, even though sometimes we want to smack them with our hard-cover Libros de Mormon because they`re afraid to commit when they know it`s true.  Comments from Jason: ¨Do I have to get baptized to be a member of the church?  Like, if I don`t get baptized on the 15th of November, can I keep coming to church?¨ Comments from Gerald:¨What if the person baptizing me drops me? Or we both faint, or smack our heads on the wall, and we drown?¨ Comments from Erwin: ¨I can`t go to church today, because my eye is still swollen from getting hit in the soccer game the other day and it`s too embarrassing for people to see me.¨  We do our best to maintain composure, resolve their concerns, and help them recognize the Spirit and the importance of keeping commitments.  I see some major missionary material, they just need to recognize it and hearken unto the voice of the Spirit!  (Apparently the Lord is preparing a lot of 14-year-old boys in Loma Linda to hear the gospel right now...)

5) Not every moment is Ensign-worthy.  Our hearts broke this week as we found out about a pornography addiction with one of our investigators.  Another recent convert is addicted to illegal drugs.  But I`ve been learning a lot about the Atonement and repentance in my personal study.  There`s nothing more wonderful than recognizing the healing that is available to us as we apply the sacrifice of the Savior in our lives.  I knew the gospel was true before coming on a mission, but these experiences have put that testimony to the test and are teaching me how to really APPLY these principles.

Anyway, enough of the novel for this week.  I love you lots!  The gospel is true!  Don`t stress, don`t compare yourself to others, and be obedient!

Love you!

-Hermana Hansen


1) Happy Hallo-Birthday, Mom!
2) Divisions with Vanessa!  (Please excuse the grease and lighting and red eyes and everything... missionary work is glamorous!)
3) My companion with Lucia, sister of Vanessa