Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 60: Be Thou Humble‏

Dear family and friends,
Wow.  It`s Monday!  Here`s the news... quickly!
-Divisions this week with Hna. Ordoñez!  She`s from Nicaragua, from the northern part that`s not in this mission.  Hna. Ordoñez is known for being very funny and bold.  She finishes her mission this change, on August 5th, and she is definitely VERY conscious of that fact.  Well, to be frank, the division was somewhat of a disaster.  They basically don`t have investigators, so we contacted and contacted and contacted and found TONS of Catholics, evangelicals, and a few positive people.  Hna. Ordoñez didn`t ever open up to me despite my best efforts to win her trust and help her feel my love.  Eh, it happens.  I tried not to let it destroy my confidence as a leader.
-Funny: I had an eye infection that got worse on Tuesday.  I called the mission nurse and she told me to buy these certain eyedrops.  So the next day we go to the pharmacy and buy the drops.  At lunch, my companion put the first drop in my eye, and immediately I close my eye and yell, ¨It burns!!¨ Hna. Chanchavac: ¨I think that`s normal...¨ Hna. Karla grabs the bottle: ¨These are EAR drops!! Quick, wash your eye out!¨ Me: ¨Where!  There´s no running water today!¨ I run to a garbage can full of stored water and start splashing water into my eye, laughing the whole time.  Oh, my Nicaraguan life!  The cool thing is that my eye healed, hahaha!
-On Thursday, we went to Managua for Hna. Chanchavac´s final interview and English test.  It was great for me, because I got to write letters to my converts in Monte Fresco, talk to Hna. Beals (one of the senior missionary couples who is extremely sweet and wonderful), see Hna. Martinez from my district in Granada, read conference talks, and talk to Hna. Combs who used to be the sister training leader in Masaya (SO helpful!).  Good day!
So, our investigators... Wendy disappeared to Matagalpa all week.  We found out that Melba has been smoking three cigarrettes a day for the past 38 years.  Other positive investigators we found now want nothing to do with us or didn`t go to church or are hiding.  I know it`s all part of the mission and it`s going to help me be a better person, but the natural man wants results NOW and investigators in church and progressing baptismal candidates and external evidence that you ARE working.  

It turns out that change is hard, and despite my best efforts to turn off the stress, I still ended up a complete wreck on Sunday night in a vortex of negative thoughts and feelings.  My companion is great and helped me with some very direct, honest comments (ouch), accompanied by advice and love and support.  I also read and prayed and had some moments of pure heavenly light poured out upon me.  One answer to prayer was Elder Hugo E. Martinez´s talk, ¨Our Personal Ministries¨ in the October 2014 conference. (BTW, does someone want to mail me a May conference Ensign insert question mark.)  Another was the words of the hymn, ¨Be Thou Humble¨ that came to my mind as I was on my knees.  Not sure if I´m going to quote it right: ¨Be thou humble in thy weakness, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers.¨ 
The gospel is so real.  Heavenly Father loves us.  We need to love each other and look for ways to lift and bless and encourage each day.  Don`t forget why you`re here!
I love you lots!  Have a great week!
-Hermana Hansen


With Hna. Ordoñez... this is what I look like unshowered at 6:30 AM with an eye infection.  Not afraid to send this atrocious pic!

Found a random couch, explained to my companion the act of couching, and we went couching together.  The girls who took our photos are coming to church this Sunday.

Interview day!  Bought that sweet used skirt in the middle of a busy Nicaraguan market for less than $3.00.

My fun P-day activity... washing a garbage can full of clothes by hand!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week 59: STOP IT!

Dear everyone,
Aaaah, I am the worst at managing my email time!  Let`s see what I have time to pound out from my sticky note reminder:
Tuesday was easily the highlight of the week!  We seemed to remember all the good things that we`ve learned in our missions about effective contacting and all of that stuff.  You know what, I think I took a photo of my journal entry for that day because I anticipating having no time, so I`ll just send that.
On Wednesday, I did divisions with Hermana Gonzales.  I`ve known her since my Loma Linda days when we were in the same district.  We have the same amount of time in the mission.  Our first lesson together was powerful; we went to find the house of a street contact they had made.  He wasn`t home, but his wife attended us.  With some simple questions that led to inspired questions, we discovered that her mother had recently died and that her sister was gravely ill.  We testified of the Atonement and the resurrection and shared scriptures from the Book of Mormon, and she cried and accepted a baptismal date.  Good stuff!  Hermana Richins worked in my area with Hermana Chanchavac and they set a baptismal date with a family... woohoo!  Love her.
The next few days were kind of rough.  I had a stomach ache that didn`t go away, my eye got infected, the mosquitos attacked me again, and I didn`t sleep well because of stress.  We didn`t find any new investigators or commit anyone to come to church... it was just an all-around trial of our faith.  But the Lord knows exactly what we need in every moment, and He sent me some tender mercies!  The biggest one was this:  on Sunday afternoon, it started pouring rain in our lunch appointment.  We had to wait about twenty minutes for it to pass, so we were able to talk with Hna. Karla and her husband Omar (who reminds me a TON of Uncle Casey).  Both are returned missionaries, and Hna. Karla is known for being very direct in her comments.  She told me, ¨Look, Hna. Hansen: you need to relax!  Stop stressing about numbers and pressure and everything, because you`re stressing the rest of us out and making it hard for us to love you!  Just love the people and work hard.  You`re doing a good job and the Lord is going to bless you.¨  It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear!  I re-evaluated and realized that most of the stress and pressure I feel is self-inflicted.  Therefore, I just need to STOP IT and stop worrying!  Things are going to work out.  Time to get some faith... haha, no, I just need to exercise that faith!
Dujardin started to work every Sunday and can`t change his schedule at least until next month.  Wendy is great, but her husband took off running (almost literally) when we tried to talk to him about getting married again.  Just another day in Nicaragua...
Funny:  Our lovely investigator Melba.  She`s rather old and very sweet.  When we sat down for the first lesson with her, she points to her cat and asks me, ¨What is that called?¨ I tell her, ¨Gato.¨ She got all excited, ¨Wow, she knows!  She`s becoming Nica!¨ Haha, thirteen months in Nicaragua and I know the Spanish word for cat... success!  Anyway, we start to teach and a bunch of flies start to swarm the half-eaten corn on the cob she has in her hands.  Her solution?  She shoves it down the front of her shirt to save for later.  Hahaha, the poor thing is rather forgetful, so I can just picture her finding it there in a few hours...  I love Melba!  She was ready and waiting for us on Sunday to go to church, and loved it.  In Gospel Principles, she kept saying, ¨Amen!  Gloria a Dios.¨  I love the mission!
Ah, so out of time.  I love you and I love this work!  Keep living the gospel, and keep holding to the rod when things are tough!
Hermana Hansen
Photos:  The district (some elders had emergency changes and the other zone leader and his son weren`t there)
The (first) cockroach we killed in the house.  Don`t worry, the other ones were smaller.
Journal from Tuesday

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Week 58: Philippians 4:13

Dear family and friends,
It`s been... a week.  Just remember that in the mission, the emotions are way more extreme than in regular life.  Here`s what made me happy:
1) Multi-zone on Thursday!  I got to see my old comps Hermana Pérez and Hermana Quezada and hear how they are doing.  Also, I got to hear all the news about my favorite people in Granada.  And of course, the actual instruction part of the multi-zone was excellent!  We listened to talks by Presidente and Hermana Russell on obedience, the Area Book, being led by the Spirit, and a whole lot more that I have written in my notes.  Later we had workshops on how to invite the Spirit, introduce the Book of Mormon, use and explain scriptures, and teach people, not lessons.  We even had the special treat of watching ¨Meet the Mormons¨ which was my second time... it`s still just as powerful and trunkiness-inducing as the first time, haha!
2) Wonderful investigators!  Wendy continues to be great and came to church this time without her two boys so she could pay attention.  She enjoyed it again.  Now we just have to start the marriage papers preparation and teach her about Joseph Smith and all the rest... Woohoo!  She`s a miracle.  

The other miracle is Dujardin.  We had walked by his house earlier in the week and there was a ¨vela¨ or pre-funeral gathering.  Here, the tradition when somebody dies is that the whole family and many friends come to stay up all night with the body.  They sit in white plastic chairs and drink coffee and eat bread.  Anyway, we decided to contact the house a few days later to try teaching the plan of salvation.  Dujardin met us (age 30-something, it was his mom that passed away) and we talked at his gate about how he could see his mother again.  He accepted a return appointment, in which we talked about baptism and he accepted a date for August 15th, even though he used to be Baptist and has studied with the Jehovah´s Witnesses.  He walked into church on Sunday on his own.  That was a HUGE miracle!
3) Divisions with Hermana Garfield!  She`s from Oregon (Angie, she used to live in Klamath Falls!) and has six months in the mission.  I enjoyed getting to know her and her area.  I feel like numbers-wise, it wasn`t a very successful division, but I hope that emotionally I was able to help her feel a little happier and successful as a missionary.  We had some funny experiences... our first contact was someone else´s progressing investigator in Managua who had been to church four times and was getting baptized this weekend.  Then a drunk man pleaded with us to help him change... don`t worry, we invited him to church and it was like 3:00 in the afternoon, so no harm done.  And another lady came running out shaking her finger saying, ¨NO hay nadie!¨ (No one is here!) when we yelled ¨Buenas!¨ at her gate where there were very obviously six or seven people sitting in the yard.  Ah, only in Nicaragua...
Things that weigh on my soul:
1) Disobedience of other missionaries that affects every other missionary`s freedom and privileges.
3) Our area is not doing so hot.  That is to say, WE are not working as effectively as is expected in our area.  With that comes feelings of inadequacy, feeling like other missionaries or leaders are judging you or disappointed in you or think you`re not working or setting the example.  Praying hard and working hard for success and miracles this week!
Don`t worry about me!  I know that God is mindful of me and my worries.  I have seen His hand so unmistakably.  I know that He knows my desires and my efforts.  I can feel all of YOUR love as well!  Thank you for your prayers.  
Remember to be obedient, remember to love and feel loved!  I sure love all of you!
-Hermana Hansen
Mom, I got your letter!
With Hermana Garfield
Photo of the multi-zone
Whole mission photo from March.  Can you find me?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 57: Moving, divisions, baptism, etc...!‏

Dear family and friends,
WOW, this has been a very full week!  I will try to do it justice with the time I have remaining!
1) We moved!  On Tuesday morning, we packed up the entire house.  Then we called the zone leaders and ran around our area again trying to find the landlords of the three house options we had.  No big deal, we only had to move in to the new house that the same day... we had plenty of time.  It was crazy, but we finally got in touch and made an agreement with one of the landladies and went to find someone with a pickup to rent.  We had everything moved by about 6:00 PM.  An adventure, for sure.  And I didn`t come completely unglued this time like I did when it happened to us in December.  :)
2) I did divisions for the first time!  I got to work with Hna. Gallagher (gringa from Utah, woohoo!) in Nindiri 2.  She finishes her mission this transfer with my companion.  We had a day of miracles (mostly because I was terrified that we wouldn`t be able to find new people and I prayed REALLY hard), and I think we both came out of divisions feeling more excited about the work.  I loved meeting some of their quirky and wonderful investigators and converts.  I could write a whole email about that day, but for time, here are some highlights: One (slightly drunk) son of an elderly less-active lady told us that he had dreamed that two foreigners would come talk to him, and that he needed to listen to what we had to say.  He accepted a baptismal date.  I mean, he WAS rather inebriated, but it was still a cool experience?  Also, I got to meet their golden family who has been attending church for the past three months but is waiting on a divorce to get baptized.  The wife said, ¨Our life was terrible before.  We felt like we were living with the devil.  But when the sister missionaries came to our home, we felt peace and knew that their message was true.¨  Pure Ensign moment!  Anyway, it was fun and weird to work with a gringa companion for a day!
3) Wendy!  We contacted her in her house on a typical dirt road.  Her dog almost killed us, but she grabbed my arm and pulled me out of harm´s way.  She has two little boys ages 4 and 2 and her husband is atheist.  As we shared with her, she cried and talked about how her mom went crazy after her father deserted them, but God was always by her side.  She doesn`t attend a church, but she felt something when we were talking with her.  She was ready early to go to church on Sunday with her two boys, who have a LOT of energy.  Sacrament Meeting was an adventure, but she liked church and is preparing for baptism.
4) Luisa got baptized!  My trainer, Hna. Aquian, baptized her daughter Francis two transfers ago in this area.  Luisa stopped working on Sundays and now was super prepared for baptism.  She has such a sweet spirit and is always at church early and goes on her own with her two (also rambunctious) children.  Her husband works a ton... haven`t met him yet, maybe we can start teaching him too.
5) Despite how rosy my mission life seems, we`re actually struggling to have more success in this area.  We went two days without committing anyone to come to church or setting a baptismal date, which in this mission is basically a sin.  On Friday, it was just so bad that we were laughing as we left a super negative appointment... the Catholic aunt told us she would never listen to anything from our church, and one of the teenage girls whispered to the other, ¨I don`t want to go to this church.¨ The other responds, ¨Me neither!¨  Sunday was a disaster in terms of investigators in Sacrament Meeting.  Here`s the good news: trials have helped my companion and I come together and for her to trust me more.  We have great unity now, and we have kept up our ¨ánimo¨ even though things are tough.  I know good things are coming!  I feel a lot of hope and know that setbacks only make us work harder and trust more in the Lord.
I feel so happy being a missionary!  I couldn´t have said that at every point in my mission, but I am loving the people, the other Hermanas in the zone, my companion, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It`s so true, guys.  Please live it!
-Hermana Hansen
Moving!  Pardon the horrible hair.
Happy birthday, Elder Jovel!  My (huge) district.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Week 56: CAMBIOS‏

Dear Everyone,
Guess what?  I had changes!  Wow, it was hard to say goodbye to Pancasan 3.  But I accomplished my goal, and I left with tears!  I learned so much there.
Guess where I am now?  Zona Masaya!  My area is called Las Flores 3.  The area is huge!  That means that we walk a lot more and take buses within our area (a big change from tiny Pancasan).  But it`s very workable, and I`m excited to be here.  Several other missionaries in the zone are people I`ve met and worked with in other zones, so that`s fun.

Hermana Chanchavac from Guatemala is my new companion.  She has 17 months in the mission, so that means I get to ¨kill¨ her at the end of the transfer when she goes home.  I`m so blessed to have her; she`s experienced, confident in the area, hardworking, etc.  We`re getting used to each other and getting along great!

I`ve been assigned to be the sister training leader for our zone.  It`s like being a district leader for sisters.  I`m still not completely sure everything that is required of me, but from what I understand I have to ask for nightly numbers from the five companionships of sisters, go on divisions, help them set goals to improve, etc.
The ward here is very strong (by Nicaragua standards) and guess what?  THEY FEED US DINNER!  Oh man, just when I was getting back to a normal size, I get assigned to one of the very few areas in the mission where there`s a dinner appointment every night.  :)
Oh, and another surprise: we`re getting kicked out of our house on Tuesday (that is, tomorrow) and have to find a new place to live.  Flashback to December and the most stressful days of my mission... No, let`s not relive that!  But we ran around knocking doors like only missionaries know how to do as we asked for houses to rent for two solid hours on Saturday morning, and now we have a few options.  Some are expensive, some are in questionable parts of the area, some are rather hideous, but I`m sure one of them will work out.  Going to check up on that again after we write.
Okay, I`m running out of time but I have so much more I could say.  I am exhausted from the change but happy and learning a LOT!
Much love,
Hermana Hansen
1) Goodbye to Manuela and Luis Alberto, some of my favorites!
2) Family of the recent convert kids that the former hermanas baptized in Pancasan.  Love them and all their animals!
3) With Hermana Chanchavac!  Horrible photo, taken after district meeting.
P.S. Last Monday, I let Hna. Ana Valle from Pancasan ¨trim¨ my hair, because she`d been begging me to let her clean up the ends.  Her interpretation of ¨solo las puntitas¨ must have been different than mine, because several inches of hair hit the floor.  I`m not against short hair, I just think it may have been better to try it when I have the time/desire to blow dry it daily. :)  But it was done with a lot of love!  That`s the story behind my new look!