Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Week 55: Story time!‏

Dear family and friends,
It has been a very blessed week here in Pancasan 3!  A la grande, I don`t want to leave.  We`ll have to see what Wednesday brings.
Story time!
¨Stomach Full of Love¨: On Friday, we had district meeting and then lunch.  Lunch was a large bowl of hot soup (why Granadinos love to eat hot soup when it`s blazing hot outside is still a mystery to me).  So, the thing with soup is that all the liquid makes you REALLY full.  We start regular proselyting and one hour later, Hna. Karen, a recent convert, gives us a small plate of arroz aguado.  It`s not my favorite dish, because the texture is terrible, but it was prepared with a lot of love.  Therefore, we smiled and ate.  One hour later, we`re with Luis Alberto (who was baptized in January) and he says, ¨Do you like pinolillo?¨ We can`t say no, so he disappears and comes back a few minutes later with TWO PITCHERS of pinolillo (affectionately called, ¨the dirt drink,¨ made of corn and cacao).  I couldn`t even look at Hermana Quezada, we were both trying so hard not to laugh or cry.  I proceeded to sneakily pick out a dead fly and another unidentifiable live bug from my drink as I downed that pitcher full of love.  I only had mild stomach issues for the next day and a half, which really may just have been psychological.  Just another day in Nicaragua...
¨El Nuevo Mundo Traducción de las Santas Escrituras¨:  On Tuesday, we went to visit Luis Alberto (all my funny stories involve that man), and his ¨wife¨ Manuela was there.  Some days she loves us and tells me repeatedly that my eyes are gorgeous.  Other days she tells us that Joseph Smith was a false prophet and the Mormons are crazy and nobody should have seven wives.  We caught her on a good day, and in a moment of inspiration my companion asked her to bring her Bible (she used to be a Jehovah`s witness).  We showed her some of the verses that have been taken out of their version of the Bible, and her eyes got huge and she was completely shocked.  The more we shared, the more she loved us and started criticizing her former religion.  Comments from Manuela: ¨They had my eyes blindfolded.  Ay de aquel que le quite o le ponga a la Biblia.  I love what you teach about the priesthood.  I`m going to get baptized.¨  She is now super positive and has her date for the 25th of July.
¨The Enchilada Lesson¨:  On Saturday night, we were hungry and frustrated and low on numbers due to several different factors.  It was 8:10 and we were short a lesson, several contacts, and a recent convert or less active lesson.  My companion says, ¨Okay, we`re going to see what this lady is selling and contact at the same time.¨ The hermana has enchiladas, but they still have to be fried, so she offers us a chair while we wait.  There`s another lady waiting there with her two daughters.  We introduce ourselves and launch into a quick lesson about the importance of going to church.  The hermana, Francis, says, ¨Sure, I`d love to go to church with you!  Pass by tomorrow to pick me up. ¨ Sweet!  But everyone says that, and hardly anyone goes to church.  So on Sunday, we pass by at 1:00 just to verify and find her house before the 2:00 meeting.  She`s already dressed and waiting for us.  Well, that was a miracle!  So we tell her we`re coming back and pick her up in a taxi right before church.  She stayed for Sacrament Meeting but had to leave quickly afterward.  She was smiling and happy!
Wow, I could write so much more, but I`m out of time.  I love you lots!  The gospel is true!
-Hermana Ali Hansen
1) with the branch president and convert of 19 months, Presidente Velasquez and his wife, their two sons, Hna. Karen his sister-in-law and her two kids.  They invited us over to eat nacatamales last night!
2) Zona Granada eating p-day pizza!
3) The foot doctor from last week cut just the corner of another toenail that was NOT ingrown and resulted in giving me a worse ingrown toenail than the other two.  So we called a friend of Hna. Melixza to come fix it during our lunch hour.  It`s still infected and swollen, so we`ll see how that goes...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Week 54: How beautiful upon the mountains...‏

Dearest everyone,

BIG thanks for all of the emails and photos you´ve sent... and hopefully someone can edit this email and insert the exclamation points that the computer won´t let me add, haha.  Olimpia, you make a gorgeous bride, and I wish you and Andrew infinite happiness.

We had another great week in Pancasan 3.  Wow, it´s going to be hard to leave if, cough, WHEN I have changes next week.  President basically told me I´m going, and it makes sense after almost six months and three transfers with Hna. Quezada.  It was my goal to feel sad when I left this area, and I have actually accomplished that; I can honestly say that I wouldn´t mind serving here for another six weeks.  Three cheers for charity and hard times, which change our hearts and help us grow. That´s what Granada has taught me.

Anyway, back to the news... Julisa and Braulio got baptized. Their mom and Braulio´s dad came to the service, and it was the first time we had met the dad.  Turns out the dad is a former investigator and lives in the area of other elders in our zone. He was on the point of baptism but didn´t go through with it because his partner, Josefa, the mom, didn´t want to get married and they were living together.  So we joked with them about when they´re getting married so that they can both get baptized, and on Sunday evening when we were leaving their house, Josefa asks, ¨So when can I get married?¨ We went crazy and ¨did the show¨ as we say in this mission to get her even more excited about baptism.  She´s on date for July 18th.

It rained a lot this week, which was a nice break from the heat.  Unfortunately, I used some gifted Croc-material water shoes on Monday that squished my toes and gave me an ingrown toenail.  I limped and hobbled a little this week because of that decision.  Not to worry, all is well now... I went to a foot clinic this morning, and boy, do these Nicaraguans know how to take care of feet.  Practically pain free and a bonus foot massage at the end while sitting in a comfy arm chair all for ten bucks.  You should probably come to Nicaragua the next time your toenails grow in weird.

Wow, time is basically up and I don´t think I´ve written anything inspiring or informative.  I even prepared a ¨spiritual insights¨ sticky note that I left in the house this morning when we left for the foot doctor and the mission home for the ¨most successful zone¨ prize BBQ.

Sorry for not being more spiritual, but I hope you know that I love you, I love the gospel, I love being a missionary, and I love Nicaraguans.  Keep being great and keep living the gospel.

SO much love,

Hermana Hansen

Baptism of Julisa and Braulio.  Nayeli, the cousin in pink, is on date for the 27th, and Josefa is working toward her goal as well.

Rain... and the view from my desk out the door.  Second house I´ve lived in in the mission that has my name on it.

Relief Society activity... making and eating soup.  Hermana Ana for the photo: ¨Have the gringas hold the spoon so it looks like they know how to cook.¨ Bahaha, I love Nicaraguans.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Week 53: Puro Chavalero‏

Hey, all!
So, I accidentally spent all of my email time reading your awesome news and writing back to some of you wonderful people, so sorry that this will be brief!
-My companion was sick on Tuesday with a killer cold that knocked her flat.  I did divisions with Hna. Duran, a recently returned missionary who served in Bolivia.  I certainly missed my companion´s ¨animo¨ (energy, excitement), but we still were able to walk fast and get things done with Hna. Duran, so all was well.
-Julisa, our investigator, turned thirteen on Tuesday.  She invited us to her birthday lunch, which was fun.  That kid loves us!  I really don´t think I´ve ever been more loved or more hated than I have been on my mission, haha!
-Francisco, age nine, got baptized!  He reminds me a ton of Michael Arnoldsen: he´s smart and easygoing.  They even look a little bit the same.  But he´s a great kid and his less-active grandma and cousins have started coming to church again!
-Saturday´s baptism was strategically planned at the same time as the Primary activity.  The good news is, a ton of kids came.  (Puro chavalero!)  The bad news is, there were very few adults.  My childcare/primary teacher skills were put to the test as I stood in front of a room of 40+ children trying to maintain their attention long enough to talk about baptism and keep them quiet for the service.  ¨If you can hear me, touch your nose!  If you can hear me, cover your mouth!¨ 
-We had eight children ages 13 and under accompany us to church.  That´s what happens when kids tell their friends that church is fun, and the missionaries are cool... puro chavalero!  We´re looking for more families and adults who are ready to hear the gospel.

-Nohebia, who was baptized in April, just got called as the second counselor in the Relief Society presidency.  We ran into Marlon, who was baptized in May, while he was home teaching.  And Mario, who was baptized in February, baptized Francisco.  These are the moments that make it worth it!!!
Whoo, no more time, but the gospel is true!  Missions are hard and hilarious and miraculous and frustrating and sacred.  So is life.  Push forward, love everyone, pray and study, go to church.  That´s what makes things better!
Hermana Hansen
-The best cars out there!  Taken last Monday.  So many Toyota Corollas in Granada.
-Special Nicaraguan lunch (for Julisa´s birthday): Rice, red beans, cooked plantain, fried chicken (under the salad), and salad.
-The hermanas in the district in front of Lake Nicaragua.  
-The whole district.  
-Me in front of a cathedral.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Week 52: Happies and Sads

Dearest everyone,
Wow, there is so much to write!  And I actually planned my email today, so here we go, straight from the sticky note:
What made me happy this week:
-I bought a speaker to play music from my USB drive!  Ah, mornings just got so much better, rocking out to ´´Give Said the Little Stream´´ remixes.  No missionary should ever go three transfers without music!
-We had interviews with Presidente Russell!  And this time, I wasn`t all nervous and feeling like the most timid, lazy missionary on the planet.  We had a great little chat about the struggles of the area, the branch, the work, etc. He gave some good advice.  And as I was walking out, he told me, ´´Sister Hansen, you`ve changed a lot in your mission.  The first few times I interviewed you, you were nervous and unsure.  You seem to have hit your stride.´´  Music to my ears!  I feel the same way!
-They always weigh us in our interviews, and I`ve lost five pounds since the middle of March!
-We were extra hungry this week, but the Lord provided us with food when we most needed it... with some sort of hot pudding at a recent convert´s house and a nice dinner with meat (!) with a less active.  Ah, Hermana Esperanza!  Now I´m not as frustrated with her that she invites the Jehovah`s Witnesses over more than us. :)
-Sunday miracle!  I had very little hope that Fabiola would come to church, since we had only met with her briefly once this week and she didn`t look all that positive, but we had promised that we would pass by before church to walk with her.  And when she opened the gate at 1:45, there she was, dressed and ready with her four-year-old daughter, nine-year-old niece, and infant nephew.  WOOHOO!!!  And she stayed for two hours and loved church!
-Wedding and a baptism!  Norma and Alberto got married, and Norma got baptized!  We had to go visit the city records place (la alcaldía) to find her son`s birth certificate.  Wow, that was cool... walls of shelves of record books with old papers and four women sitting at typewriters making birth certificates.  Anyway, everything went fairly smoothly by Nicaraguan standards, and we had a lawyer and witnesses and a few people present for the baptism, so I consider it a success.
-I celebrated one year in the mission!  I`m not a fan of month-counting, but one year is a big enough deal not to ignore.  I celebrated by wearing the same clothes in which I entered the MTC.  Picture attached!  My cute companion also gave me a cupcake and a little note.

What made me sad this week:
-Julio decided that the church that is a block from his house is more convenient than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  That was pretty devastating news.  I really thought he was changing and becoming converted, but I guess anybody can lie.
-We got mildly macheted by Hermana Russell in interviews because my companion doesn`t like to study English, and I haven`t been pressuring her to do it.  Now we`re getting serious about language study!  Okay, that didn`t actually make me sad, but for some reason it was on my sad list, haha!
Well, I didn`t even make it to my funnies/deep thoughts, but I`m out of time!  Haha, maybe that`s all you`ll get next week... funnies and deep thoughts.
I LOVE YOU a bunch!  Keep doing wonderful things!  The gospel is so true and blesses everyone who chooses to live it!
-Hermana Hansen