Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 43: Gracias a que Èl Vive‏

Hola, everyone!

It`s almost Semana Santa, and boy, is this sun hot!  Semana Santa in Catholic, caliente Granada on the same weekend as General Conference is not for the faint of heart.  But hey, I had a great week!  Let me tell you about it:

-Did divisions with Hermana Lagos for the fourth time in two changes.  I call her my ``other companion`` with all the time we`ve worked together.  Seriously, we are so darn productive!  The day always passes slowly because we get so much done, but we had fun in her area visiting recent converts and less actives, finding new investigators and setting baptismal dates, and talking throughout the day.  

-Belkys got baptized!  I thought she wasn`t going to pass her interview because she told us on Monday that she believed in the Virgin and didn`t see the need to be baptized, but it happened!

-We saw miracles on Sunday!  I was worried because we hadn`t committed as many people as usual during the week, and in these past weeks, we haven`t had a lot of positive investigators at church.  But the Lord blessed us in the following ways: 1) Angela and her daughter Katherine were standing outside, dressed and ready to receive us at 8:30 AM.  Angela even decided not to go to work to go to church instead.  And we`ve only had one lesson with them!  2) Marlon, who told us flat out last week that he wouldn`t go to church because Barcelona was playing at that hour, was sitting on the church steps when we arrived with Belkys for her confirmation.  We hadn`t met with him all week either, but he decided to meet his commitment with God and go to church!  Now he has a baptismal date!  3) Yuriel brought his non-member brother Franklin and Nohebia came with her sisters.  Nohebia didn`t feel ready to be baptized this week, but she has a new date for the 11th.

-We went to the general Women`s broadcast and, miraculously, a recent convert who I`ve never seen come to church accepted our invitation to accompany us, as well as her non-member sister.  Also, the daughter of another recent convert (also a former investigator of mine) came when we invited her.  I missed the first part of the conference due to arriving late and then standing at the door to wait for the other two investigators slash converts to come, but what I heard was wonderful!  Soul-filling, that stuff.  How anyone can listen to the prophets speak and not feel the Spirit is beyond my comprehension!  Ah, President Eyring... I can`t wait for conference!

-Hey, go check out the Church`s ``Because He Lives`` campaign.  We basically can only use the little pass-along cards due to inavailability of internet here, but even that is powerful!  I KNOW that my Redeemer lives!  Take a minute to think of that fact.  How has He blessed your life?  How can you better serve Him?

I love you lots!  Thanks for your prayers!  Pray for me not to melt this week!

-Hermana Hansen

I hope these are the right pictures, because I can`t see them...

1- the zone (minus two sisters) ready for our water balloon fight to celebrate 40 baptisms this month.  And because it`s ridiculously hot.

2- Belkys` baptism!

3- Happy Birthday, Rebekah!  I thought about putting just the birthday hat, but then I realized that you`re probably more excited about graduating than turning 18, so now you have both hats!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Week 42: Onward, ever onward!‏

Dearest everyone,

Wow, what a week!  Jumping right in:

On Monday night at 10:00 PM, our zone leader called us to say that we all had interviews with President Russell in the morning.  Surprise!  We sprung into action, because interviews mean that we also get a cleaning check on our apartment by Hermana Russell.  In the next couple hours, we swept, mopped, scrubbed, disconnected the refrigerator to begin defrosting, organized, etc. to prepare for the morning.  Exhausted, we collapsed into bed.

The alarm went off at 6:30 and guess what?  There was no power.  Or water.  In all of Granada.  Being the oh-so-prepared missionaries that we are, my companion and I had a grand total of two water bottles stored up for emergencies.  Therefore, I proceeded to bathe myself with a single water bottle and some baby wipes by the light of the rising sun.  And we arrived for our interviews on time, though not quite as fresh as we might have liked.  Oh, the moments that missions are made of!

In my interview, President told me that we need to be a lot more bold when extending commitments.  We can`t be nice when they don`t keep those commitments, because we understand the eternal consequences.  We`re working on being more bold, powerful, and loving.

On Thursday, we had a conference with both missions in Nicaragua.  Everyone was crazy excited, with rumors flying about dividing missions and so forth.  Anyway, we woke up at 3:45 in the morning to get ready and be in Managua by 6:30 AM.  It`s the first time in my mission that the entire mission has been together!  I got to see my ``mom``, Hermana Aquian, as well as all my former companions and other hermanas that I love.  Hermana Gomez came with an envelope full of notes from some of my favorite people in Loma Linda.  Oh my, Geovanny and Erwin each wrote some of the best letters I have ever received in my whole life!  And I`ve received a lot of amazing letters, mostly while I`ve in the mission from all of you.  But seriously, those notes lifted me up and made my whole mission worth it!  Other sad news is that some of my favorite people in Loma Linda and Monte Fresco are passing through some major trials.  I think of that talk about the blesssings and burden of discipleship... by Elder Holland, I think.

Anyway, returning to the whole point of the conference... We heard from Bishop Dean M. Davies and Elder Adrian Ochoa, as well as the testimonies of both mission presidents.  We got to greet each general authority individually, all 400 or so of us missionaries.  They shared the importance of finding answers in the scriptures and maintaining an eternal perspective.  We were all a little... surprised at the whole conference.  No major announcements, no points of training, no ``machetes`` as we call those calls to repentance.  But it was testimony-building, so that was good!

Anyway, life is good and life is hard.  Sometimes you`re trying your best and your investigators still aren`t choosing to progress.  You need to learn to rely completely on the Savior to continue becoming better yourself and to be an instrument in His hands.  I`ve noticed that the most successful and happy missionaries (and PEOPLE, for that matter) just love everybody.  They love them enough to tell it to them straight and call them to repentance, and they respond because they know it`s motivated by love.  I`m striving to develop greater love!

I love all of you!  Thank you to each of you who has written me inspiring, uplifting, love-filled messages.  I will do my best to respond!

-Hermana Ali Hansen

photos: Happy birthday, Hermana Reyes!

With my mom, Hermana Aquian!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Week 41: Reading, eating, animals, attitude, and more!‏

Hello to my wonderful family and friends!

Well, it`s been a week.  The Lord seeth fit to try our patience and our faith.  We reap what we sow.  Lots of lessons learned!  I`ll jump right in with what I jotted down on my sticky note to write today:

Reading: My companion and I were lamenting the fact that hardly anyone here reads.  That includes members, investigators, and recent converts.  How can we expect people to progress, gain testimonies, and remain firm in the gospel if they never read a few pages of a pamphlet, let alone the Book of Mormon?  Anyway, the Lord has a sense of humor.  Later that day, we were walking down the street and Hermana Quezada spotted an elderly man sitting outside of a house reading a pamphlet of the Restoration where we had left one with a different family member the week earlier.  Obviously, we had to go talk to him!  He was friendly and accepted the invitation to come to church and get baptized.  Then he didn`t come to church after we had a second lesson and recommitted him to come, but that`s beside the point!  I learned that I should never complain and just trust in the Lord instead.  He is directing His work, and He knows how to help His children gain testimonies, be baptized, and remain converted.  Perhaps it`s not through reading, I don`t know.  It`s hard sometimes because of the low education level, vision problems, and culture that don`t encourage reading.  However, I know that Heavenly Father will still accomplish his work here!

Eating:  I ate pig liver for the first time this week.  Also, cow liver.  And we had our once-a-transfer dinner with the Ramirez family, who are wonderful.  There is such a difference between homes where the Spirit is present and homes where He is not!

Animals:  We killed a scorpion in our bathroom this week.  Also, we have mice.  We let in a cat that often sits outside our door, and within five minutes he leapt onto my bed to catch a mouse that was scurrying up the wall and walked outside triumphant with his prize.  It was rather spectacular.  Other stories: a chicken flew into my companion`s lap and scratched her arm.  A dog came up close behind me when we were contacting and barked really loudly and angrily... my companion nearly wet herself when I practically jumped out of my skirt with eyes wide from the shock!

Super Members:  Sweet Hermana Dorita has diabetes and is emaciated and frail.  Her youngest daughter is on a mission, and her other children don`t support her a lot.  Yet despite her pain and illness, she is fiery and faithful.  She fell this week and had a huge bruise on her cheek, but she was still there in church with a smile.  Singing her favorite hymn with her, ``Praise to the Man`` was a highlight of my week!  Also, we went to visit recent convert Hermano Mario on a particularly difficult day, and he just made us so happy with his comments of, ``So I was with a Jehovah`s Witness the other day, and even though I`m new in the Church, I was able to explain and defend the truth... ``, ``I have two friends that want to change their lives and come to church.  My plan is to pass by their houses to bring them with me on Sunday,`` and ``I was out of town for work driving tour buses the last two weeks, but I attended church where I was and really enjoyed the meetings.``

Attitude: I let myself get stressed and disappointed this week when basically all of our baptismal possibilites for March have now fallen through.  Also, the pressure for numbers and everything was getting to me, and Sunday was rather trying as well.  I realized that it`s really easy to lose perspective: we can get so caught up in the little details that we forget what we`re really trying to do here.  We forget who is our perfect Guide and our Father.  It doesn`t help anything to get depressed!  I`ve recommitted myself to work hard and work happy, continuing in obedience and strengthening my faith.  It`s not good to compare yourself to others or judge them, ever!  It`s easy to think, ``Why are those hermanas baptizing a ton when they`re not obedient?  Why am I not as friendly or as bold as so-and-so?  Why is she training and not me?`` These thoughts are sinful!  They are not faith-promoting or charity-promoting.  We MUST trust in Heavenly Father and His plan 100%.  The mission causes you to come face-to-face with your weaknesses.  Ether 12:27!  Repentance!

Anyway, I`m out of time, but I just want to say that I love you a LOT!  My family is amazing.  I read three or four of your letters that I have printed off over the months when I was feeling down, and they were an answer to prayer.

Keep on keeping on!  I love you ALL!

-Hermana Hansen

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 40: So it´s Monday again?!‏

Hey, all!

Wow, I can´t believe it´s already Monday!  The week has flown.  Let´s start from the end and work our way backward.

Oh, but first, I want to tell Grandma and Grandpa Forsnes (one week late) FELICIDADES for their year and a half of dedicated service as missionaries in the temple in Halifax.  I seriously love and admire you both ¨un montón¨ and am eternally grateful for your example and sacrifice.  Senior missionary couples are the best!

Anyway, Sunday miracles:

-Belkys was dressed and ready when we passed by to remind her to go to church!
-Hna. Reina, non-member grandmother of recent converts, came to church without us reminding (or begging) her!
-Moises, an 18-year-old former investigator of the hermanas that were in this area before us miraculously showed up to church. He said, ¨I didn´t have anything else to do, so I thought, ´I guess I´ll go to church.´¨ We found his teaching record in the area book, and he apparently already has received his answer and has read a lot of the Book of Mormon.  Our God is a God of miracles!

And on Saturday... we got left with a full font of water and no baptismal candidate.  Cristian´s parents are going to let her aunt and uncle raise her, and they want nothing to do with the church.  That hurts.  It´s all part of the Lord´s plan.

Wow, I never have any time to write, I´m sorry!  I´ll write some really good journal entries to share with you when I get home.

This work is so true!  It is SO hard, and it stretches me in every way possible.  But there are also miracles and wonderful moments.  If you´re a missionary having a hard day, read some Alma 8, D&C 11, and 2 Nephi 4.  The scriptures are so true.  The gospel is so true.  Be true!  Live true and love Heavenly Father´s children!

-Hermana Hansen

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 39: Good things!

Dear family and friends,

Remember how I used to write informative and inspiring emails home?  Yeah, me too. I`m going to attempt to write decent letters again, starting NOW!

First, THANK YOU for the package!  The Dr. Scholls insoles are the best things I`ve ever experienced, and the clothes were wonderful as well.  I love my amazing family!
And now, on to the news!

Good things are happening in Pancasan 3!  Hermana Quezada and I make a great team.  We`re being strictly obedient and working more efficiently than I have yet worked on my mission.  That makes missionary work fun!  When you`re busy all day contacting, teaching, setting baptismal dates.  I`ve never doubted that Nicaragua is a blessed land for the many people that Heavenly Father has prepared, but the more efficiently we work, the more obvious the miracles become!

Here are some investigator spotlights so you can see these miracles too (prepare for odd Nicaraguan names):

-Cristian is a sweet little girl who came to church with us for several weeks since we were always passing by on Sunday mornings for her sister and husband (who never wanted to keep their commitments).  But now Cristian is ready for baptism!  When we asked her what she was doing to prepare for her baptism, she said, ¨I can`t say malas vulgaridades.  But sometimes at school they slip out, so I ask God to forgive me.¨ Ah, she`s a cutie.

-Amilcar is 19 and a friend of our ward mission leader.  He wants to change his life and says he feels ¨super¨ every time we ask about that baptismal date.  We`re still verifying and re-verifying word of wisdom, but he really wants to meet his goal!

-Tupac is 22.  His hair is longer than mine and he plays guitar in a band.  But he is super honest with us and also super hilarious.  He felt at home in church and has started praying regularly.  His uncle is less-active and so is his cousin, so we`re working on the whole family!

-Nohevia is a miracle.  18 years old, she accompanied her returned-missionary sister to church for two weeks before we found out she wasn`t a member!

Now for some quick funnies:

-A 60-something year old man approached us in the street and asked us if we had a Bible.  He says, ¨Look up Ephesians 9:1.¨ We`re like, ¨Ephesians only has six chapters.¨ So then he says, ¨Look up Proverbs 20:2.¨ At this point, we smelled the alcohol on his breath and read him one verse earlier, Proverbs 20:1 (wine is escarnecedor...)

Anyway, out of time!  I love you all and I love being a missionary!

-Hermana Hansen

Ah, my camera won`t work! Photos next week!  But I bought shoes, don`t worry!