Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 34: The secret to being a successful missionary... STICKERS!

Dear everyone,
To begin, here´s what I forgot in last week´s email...
1) Explanation of the subject line (the week I finally realized I could speak Spanish): I dreamed at least twice in Spanish!  I´m not sure if that has happened before, but this time I was conscious of the Spanish.  Also, we contacted some Canadian tourists on our way home and I had to speak English in the contact. My English was ridiculously awkward... ¨Oh, you speak English?  Well, we´re misione-... I mean, missionaries, of the Church of...Jesus Christ of... Latter-Day Saints,¨ and so forth.  It turns out I only know how to be a missionary in Spanish.
2) A big thank you to the Cluff family, the Keith family, and Sister Angie Arnoldsen for sending me their Christmas cards!  I loved seeing your cute pictures and reading your kind messages.  Thanks, Barb, for the stickers!  More on that later...
Anyway, it was an up and down week.  We have been working on applying a new mission initiative which translates to ¨the finding funnel¨ with some success.  I´m trying to focus on being more led by the Spirit in our lessons and responding to the investigators´ needs.
Monday: Family Night!  There´s an awesome group of recent converts who all congregate in the home of our lunch appointment, Hermana Melixza, every Monday night.  They practice teaching, and everyone participates in the gospel discussion.  It´s basically the most effective thing I´ve ever seen in convert retention, and I leave each week with my heart so happy!
Tuesday: Habitat for Humanity.  Just kidding... we went to help Luis Alberto clean out a little shack next to his house so he could live the law of chastity and not live with his friend Manuela.  They didn´t want us to help at first, but we just jumped in and didn´t give them the option to say no.  After we started, they got excited and were very pleased with the outcome.  From this experience, I learned: 1) People usually feel awkward when you ask how you can serve them.  ¨First observe, then serve¨ is a very true principle!  2) Everyone feels happier in a clean, orderly environment.  That is where the Spirit can dwell!  So go clean your room. :)

Wednesday: Divisions again.  Hermana Arana is the only sister training leader for this zone, so she works individually with each sister in the zone. This week, she worked with my companion in our area. I went to Pancasan 2 again with Hermana Lagos... I´ve started calling her, ¨my other companion.¨ We had fun visiting some of the same people as last week and helping some members bag homemade coconut candies, and they gave us some to take home-- yum!
Thursday: Weekly planning and a normal day.
Friday: Hno. Rafael, the ward mission leader, accompanied us on some visits.  Woohoo!

Saturday: Baptisms!  Luis Alberto and Santiago both got baptized.  We were a little worried when we couldn´t find Luis before his baptism, but he made it to the church on time and by himself!  Another miracle: we had sufficient baptismal clothing, and priesthood holders, and we didn´t have to run around finding people to give talks and prayers.  Life runs so smoothly with ward mission leaders who fulfill their callings!  Also, Santiago removed his white Catholic rosary before the baptism... that was another little miracle.  ;)
Sunday: We had a family at church!  And Luis Alberto got confirmed!  Unfortunately, Santiago seems to have forgotten how important it was to complete the second half of his baptismal ordinance and went to sell clothing on his bicycle early in the morning and was nowhere to be found.  Ouch, that hurts.  We´ll get  him to church next week to be confirmed.  
Two other things to note:
1) I gave out stickers to our primary-aged recent converts for learning Articles of Faith.  Wow, I´ve never seen kids more motivated by a little happy face or bowtie-wearing bear!  My companion and I discussed (jokingly... but with a little bit of seriousness) that we should give out stickers to investigators of all ages to incentivize them to come to church.
2) I have a new food addiction.  Well, two.  One of them is green (unripened) mangoes with lime, salt, and chile.  The other is ¨helados,¨ which are homemade ice cream things packaged in plastic bags.  I´ll try to send a picture next week.
My emails have certainly lost the spiritual aspect, so I promise to focus more on that next week!  A huge thank you to my brother Jake for his inspired email.
Don´t forget to love, serve, and smile!  Be obedient!

Love you!
-Hermana Hansen
1) All the baptismal candidates for the Pancasan branch this week
2) With Luis Alberto and Santiago (the one and a half converts)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 33: The week I finally realized I could speak Spanish

Hey, everyone!
So, I spent basically all of my email time sending personal emails.  I apologize in advance for the anticipated lame-ness of this week`s report.
- We had divisions within the zone on Wednesday!  I worked with Hermana Lagos, who was Hermana Aquian`s companion two changes ago.  It was fun to work in another area (even though I don`t really know my way around my own area yet) and get to know Hermana Lagos.  We had fun teaching together, working hard to meet the zone`s goals for the exchanges and discussing methods to combat mission weight gain.
- This Sunday was District Conference, like Stake Conference but for an area that only has branches instead of wards.  We had sweet Roxanna, a 14-year-old new investigator walk the rounds with us for over an hour in the morning reminding all of our investigators that they committed to go to church.  We had a miracle contact on Saturday that showed up to the conference on Sunday... woohoo!  The talks were good, although different than the stake conferences I`m used to.  Speakers addressed topics of chastity, tithing, agency, and the importance of attending church.
- We have some baptismal prospects for this Saturday!  I`ll let you know how that goes next week.
-Old Nicaraguan men are hilarious and very frank.  Luis Alberto has no problem telling us exactly how long it`s been since he`s been intimate with his ¨wife¨ (they`re not married) Manuela, all with his cute bug eyes.  Also, he told us that he knows the Book of Mormon is true because he read the introduction and it talks about Esther just like in the Bible.  We didn`t have the heart to tell him that ¨Esther¨ is really ¨Ether.¨  
Another favorite old man is Ronaldo.  After explaining the Word of Wisdom, he says, ¨Estas hermanitas me ponen un camino angostito.¨ We gifted him a bag of Pinolillo (popular Nicaraguan drink mix) to help him not drink coffee, and he was so grateful that he now wants to buy us leather belts... haha, Nicaragua never ceases to amuse me!
Ah, I`m out of time, but I have so much more to say!  My companion is sometimes super hilarious.  Sometimes the heat makes us loopy and ridiculously tired.  Anyway, until next week!

I love you lots!
Hermana Ali Hansen
1. The hermanas of Zona Granada next to their companions!  Hermana Powell is from Brigham City and went to Box Elder.  She knows Andrew Miller!
2. Hermanas of Granada next to their companions for a day
3. Zona Granada celebrating birthdays of Hermana Arana and Elder Jimenez in the restaurant Ajua

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 32: Hello from... GRANADA!

Hello, family and friends!
So... I've been transferred!  First time out of Managua, woohoo!  I'm in the historic city of Granada, area Pancasan 3.  Wow, we're a five-minute walk from old Catholic cathedrals, tile roofs, cobblestone streets, brightly colored buildings, etc.  Look up Granada on Google images and think of me walking around those streets here on P-day. I love it!!

The area we actually work in is more tranquila.  The biggest changes are that here is flat; after seven months of climbing hills in Monte Fresco and Loma Linda, my leg muscles crave that exercise!  There's less noise, trash, buses, etc. than in my former area.  The people are friendly and happy to listen, even though there are more Catholics here.  I feel like a city kid that got sent to the country, and the stress in my shoulders is melting away!

My companion is Hermana Perez.  She has three months in the mission and is a sweetheart.  She's the ninth of 12 children and was a preschool teacher before her mission.  We get along famously and work hard, which I love!

Most of the recent converts and investigators here are children.  Perhaps for pressure to baptize, it's that way.  But we also have some "sacerdocios" (men older than 18) that are progressing, so that's good.  I'm excited to get to work in this area and see what the next few months bring!

Pancasan is a branch, not a ward.  The church building is similar in size to a double-wide trailer, but it's a slightly more permanent structure. :)  The advantage is that here there are two branches that meet, one at 9:00 AM and one at 2:00, so that means twice the opportunity to get investigators to church!

It was hard to say goodbye in Loma Linda.  Hna. Elizabeth and Hna. Gladys were the hardest.  Our "chavalos" Geovanny, Erwin, and Gerald were all at SOY (EFY) all week, so I didn't get to see them.  I guess I'll just have to come back to visit in a couple years!

Spiritual insights for this week:  I loved Elder Lynn G. Robbins' conference talk, "Which Way Do You Face?"  and also the Relief Society lesson on Elder Benson's talk about loving God above all other things. Man, this is such a true principle!  Do what you can this week to put God first and watch the unneccessary things fall out of your life.  Please God before pleasing man.  It's my goal to become a more dedicated servant of Him... feel free to join me!

Lots of love!
Hermana Ali Hansen


1) My favorite children ever... Cony and Caroline.  Caroline, the little one, talks a ton and always says in a very earnest voice, "Ver-dad, 'manas?"  (Right, Hermanas?)  I'll miss their hugs and cheek kisses!

2) Jamileth and Noel, recent converts in Loma Linda who we visited a lot

3) Hermana Gladys, my mission abuelita

4) Officially my nicest bathroom of the mission so far!  Mire, que fachenta!  Also, the first time having a showerhead, and the water is often warm because it's so hot here.  I could get used to this!

5) With Hermana Perez!  I know, my cheeks are huge and my companion is tiny.  Don't worry, "Operation: Shrink the Cheeks" is already underway.  Step one: Don't live close to Hermana Gladys. :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 31: I dreamed a dream...

Hello, everyone!

Happy New Year!  I celebrated by... sleeping through all the midnight fireworks and noise.  The mission exhaustion is just that deep!

It was nice to have a more normal week this week after the two most stressful weeks of my mission.  Let´s see what I can remember that would be of interest to all of you:

-I´ve learned that the scripture in 2 Nephi 31 that says the Spirit speaks to us in the way we can understand is very true.  Nicaraguans understand the Spirit often times through dreams.  And sometimes they ask us as missionaries to interpret their dreams... Sorry, I still haven´t reached Joseph of Egypt status on that front.  Anyway, here are two positive dream stories from this week:

Elieth (who is radiantly happy ever since her baptism) told us that she had been nervous and unsure about getting baptized on the 27th.  She had been praying for a witness that she should go forward with this major step, and the night beforehand she had a dream that she was entering the baptismal font dressed in white.  So, she went through with it!  Ah, I love being on the same team as Heavenly Father in this great work!

Elizabeth (recent convert) has been passing through some majorly hard trials in her family and with some of the leaders of the ward.  She was on the point of giving up the fight and leaving the church, but she decided to ask God first.  She prayed and said, ¨If I´m supposed to stick with this, let me dream of my mother and father tonight.¨ The next several hours she slept restlessly, but at 4:30 AM she dreamed of both parents right before being awoken by a mistakenly set cell phone alarm.  Wow, I love that woman for her strong testimony and her great personality!

-One of the best moments of my week was when Erwin walked into sacrament meeting literally pushing his two rough-looking teenage non-member friends in ahead of him.  Afterward, we asked him how he got them to come, and he said that he just decided to pass by their houses on the way to church and told them that church ¨no es nada aburrida.¨  And they both liked it, because we watched a cheesy 1980´s church video in Gospel Principles.  The Lord works in mysterious ways...

-On December 31st, we returned to our apartment at 9:30 PM to find a tarantula on the wall of our study room.  There was considerably less squealing and fanfare than the first time this happened... just took some quick photos, smashed him with a broom, and swept him up to begin planning for the next day´s appointments.

-Tania, age 14, was looking through my photos on my camera and came across some photos we took before entering the MTC.  
¨Who´s that?¨ 
¨Oh, it´s my mom.¨ 
¨No, the one in the middle.¨ 
¨That´s me!¨ 
With huge eyes, ¨I don´t believe you!  Really?! Wow, you´re so skinny!¨

Thank you for your honesty... hahaha!  I figure I´m either preparing for a parasite, or my spirit is just getting so big that my body has to expand to fit it.

Anyway, I´m going to send photos now.  But I hope you all had a happy new year and are working on meeting your goals!  It was fun to think back on all that happened in 2014 and set new goals for the coming year.  It´s been a year of major growth, that´s for sure!

Love you lots!

-Hermana Ali Hansen


1) Christmas dinner at the multi-zone conference with my randomly curly hair and three of my favorite ladies

2) Elieth and Juan Carlos with Emanuel on their wedding day!

3) Cutting the cake

4) Baptism of Elieth

5) Happy New Year!  Burning the old man...

6) Our other roommate, with El Libro de Mormon for reference