Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 69: I like to look for rainbows...

Dearest everyone,
Happy 446th anniversary of the Bible being published in Spanish!  And happy lunar eclipse!  I found out about the first occasion by the street parade the Apostolic church put on yesterday, and the second phenomenon by the crowds of people standing outside of their houses staring at the sky.  Cool stuff!
And without further ado...
INVESTIGATORS: Angela (39) is progressing well and is reading all of her assignments!  We were worried that she wasn`t going to be able to make it to church because it rained all night on Saturday, and she lives in a very steep and very muddy area that is almost impossible to climb out of, especially since she has a small daughter that she has to carry in her arms.  But the sun came out and dried the mud by the time Relief Society started, so she came!
Luis (50) was just waiting for a divorce to go through so that he can get married to his current partner and live the law of chastity, but now it looks like he won`t need to get divorced after all.  He asked us about ¨sacerbautismo¨ the other day.  That was a cute moment.
Jamileth (28), Zoyla (17), and Rudy (10): We had invited them to be baptized last week, but they didn`t seem all that positive even though they accepted.  We returned this week, and they turned off the TV and listened intently to the message of the restoration.  Then they came to church!  I`m excited to teach more with them.
BIRTHDAY: I turned 21!  My awesome companion arranged for the ward mission leader´s wife to buy one of the good cakes from PriceMart, which is the Nicaraguan equivalent of Costco.  It was delicious and we enjoyed it all week long!  And I made it through two Nicaraguan birthdays without getting eggs cracked on my head... such a blessing!
ZONE MEETING: We learned how to work more effectively with the ward council and help the ward help us.  After doing practices, I saw the benefit of having better, more specific plans and using all of our resources to have success and build the Lord´s kingdom!
FUNNIES: A clown pulled up to us on the street in a mototaxi and asked where to find scriptures about the spirit world.  Turns out he´s a less-active member!  We were a little surprised, to say the least.  
I tried a new kind of drink (fresco natural) this week - fresco de genjibre.  It`s made up of fresh ginger and milk and is SUPER strong.  It was pretty good, but it definitely cleared out my sinuses!
I realized that I`ve probably met more Nicaraguans than the average Nicaraguan, with all the contacting and teaching and moving around to different areas we do in the mission.  That thought made me smile.
Well, we`re learning and loving and growing in the mission!  There`s so much more I could share, but for lack of time, I`ll leave it there.
I love you LOTS and hope you each enjoy conference and receive personal revelation there!
-Hermana Hansen

Cool Nicaraguan graffiti!
My birthday!  The other companionship of hermanas in our district were in Managua.
This is in my area!  Where they cut rectangular stones to build houses.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 68: Diriamba!‏

Dearest everyone,
Ah, so much to say, so little time!  But first, THANK YOU to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and sent kind words!  I love you lots and can`t wait to give you all hugs!
Thank you also to my wonderful cousin Alycia Pace!  I received your envelope.  Your art and note was so perfect. :)
Let`s begin with a quick report of Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday we visited a family we had contacted the night before.  The husband told us he had received missionaries before, so we were excited to see what would happen.  Turns out, he has ALL of the lessons and was even interviewed, but left for Costa Rica before his baptism.  That was about eight months ago.  Now he´s back, and he and his wife accepted baptismal dates.  MIRACLES!  On to Tuesday: We awaited transfer calls (I`ll tell you about that next) and then went to work.  Ligia had some questions about baptisms for the dead after Sunday´s talks, but after we explained, she was super excited.  ¨So, I have to go to Honduras to bring the names of my grandma, cousin, and aunt... I guess I`ll be going to the temple in December, then!¨  Woohoo, now you just need to get baptized first!  And finally, Francisco: He told us that in his head, he felt conflict about the church because he´s always been Catholic and this was something different.  However, in his heart, he felt peace while in the church.  He told us, ¨And I`ve noticed a difference in the two days since I went to church.  I usually have a lot of conflict with my sister, but now I feel more patient and haven´t responded.¨  AH, those are the best missionary moments!

OKAY, now to the real news... I got transferred!  Oh, it was terribly sad to leave Hermana McArthur and all of the super positive investigators we just found.  Saying goodbye to Hna. Karla was also gut-wrenching.  I`m not a crier, but I couldn`t hold back the tears as we talked and hugged.
I`m also slightly distracted and distraught because the memory card in my camera suddenly became corrupted and I lost the last ten or twenty photos I`ve taken, including final photos with Hna. Karla, Hna. Doris, and Hna. Sandra that I was planning to print and send to them.  Now I`m trying to copy over all the photos I can to my USB while writing.
ANYWAY, here I am in Diriamba!  My companion is Hermana Garfield, another gringa!  We did divisions once in Masaya, you can search for the photo.  Here are a few quick things about the area: 1) It`s huge!  And there are hills, which I love!  2) Mototaxis are everywhere, which is surely the best form of transportation ever invented. 3) Our house is super nice.  We have a walk in closet, full size fridge and access to a stove, woohoo!  4) The branch is the most supportive group of members I have ever seen!  More details on that next week, I`m running out of time!  5)  The sky here is gorgeous and reminds me of Loma Linda.  The climate is cooler.  There´s some cool graffitti in the city part of our area and lots of places to eat.
We`ve had some cool teaching experiences and a Sunday miracle and surprise baptismal candidate, but I`m out of time!
I know that the Lord gives us exactly the experiences we need to grow and progress.  Not always exactly what we want, but He knows a lot better than we do, so we should always trust Him.
I feel so happy to be a missionary!  Big hugs to everyone!
-Hermana Hansen
No pictures, due to my damaged memory card... :,(

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 67: Follow up!‏

Dear everyone,
I`m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that this transfer is over... it´s definitely been the fastest of my mission!  I hope that I get to stay here with Hermana McArthur, who is hilarious and obedient and my best friend, but I guess we`ll have to see what Wednesday brings!
The theme of this week is: Follow up!  Our district leader Elder MIculax has been focusing a lot on verifying commitments, and we saw the fruits of this extra emphasis with more investigators at church this Sunday.  Ah, few things are sweeter as a missionary than seeing your investigators meet their commitments!
Let`s talk about a few of these great people:
-Francisco!  We found him on Tuesday.  He´s probably 30-something, and seemed so positive in the first visit that I was sure he was just flirting with us and wasn´t actually going to commit.  He`s listened to missionaries before and has a Book of Mormon.  After not being able to find him all week, we were able to locate him on Saturday night and ask how he was doing for Sunday morning church.  I braced myself as gave a little grimace and said, ¨I have a question... If I don`t have dress pants, can I go in jeans?¨ Phew!  Of course!  Ah, and then we found him walking to church by himself the next morning.  He stayed all three hours and told us he felt as if at home.  Oh, he is a miracle!
-Ligia!  She´s a 50-year-old artist who lives in the wealthier part of our area.  She didn`t go to church last week, but this week in one visit she told us that she was baptized in another church years ago only because it was the closest thing she could find to the truth.  She feels an emptiness and lack of truth that she hasn´t been able to satisfy.  We testified of the Book of Mormon and she read three pages... then went to church by herself!  My companion and I were sweating when all the talks were about vicarious ordinances, dreams, and temple work, but she didn`t seem too traumatized and even asked for a ¨My Family¨ family history pamphlet.
-Alvaro and Lourdes!  I mentioned Lourdes last week.  We made contact with her husband this week, and he`s pretty positive even though he has to overcome some major Word of Wisdom issues and get excited about getting married.  They even fed us dinner (on a day we had randomly been given three meals already) and on Sunday... came to church alone.  Did I not tell you it was a miraculous week?
These are just a few, but it should give you a taste of the miracles that we`re finally seeing after so many weeks of feeling like we`re spinning our wheels!
Tender Mercy: I was feeling stressed and frustrated and overwhelmed, and I couldn´t sleep because someone gave us Coca-Cola in the last few hours of the night.  I got up and prayed and opened my scriptures seeking peace.  Ah, I wish I had brought the sticky note of all the specific verses that spoke directly to my worries!  I cannot tell you how perfect it was.  Heavenly Father loves us so much!  Please read your scriptures!  And the conference talks, because they are SO powerful and inspired from God!
I wish I had time to tell you every funny moment and little miracle.  Suffice it to say that this is EXACTLY where the Lord needs me to be.  I am learning and preparing for the trials and happinesses I will face in my future life.  I find joy in serving my brothers and sisters here in this area.  It is so hard!  In ways you would not expect, but in exactly the right ways for our personal growth.
I love each one of you!  Go forth in good causes!
-Hermana Hansen
1) Con mis niƱas favoritas!  Erika and Andrea
2) La familia Martinez Roy... Hna. Karla and Hno. Omar, my dear friends
3) Look at the cute Americans in Masaya trying not to look like tourists!  (Failed!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week 66: The Comforter‏

Dear family and friends,
Allow me to begin by sending a BIG hug to each of you!!  I really love you all a lot.  Super descriptive English, I know, but I hope you understand the feeling behind it!
Y ahora, los acontecimientos de la semana: (the comings-to-pass of the week?)
Divisions!  I spent Tuesday in Monimbo 2 with Hermana Reeve.  She´s from California and has five weeks in the mission.  It was my first time working with an American who was so new, and it was fun to remember how much the mission really changes us!  I forgot how much of an adjustment the language, culture, food, and missionary activities can be.  Hna. Reeve is super confident, smart, and optimistic, so she´s doing great.  I enjoyed talking and working with her while Hna. Hernandez and Hna. McArthur found a bunch of new investigators in our area.  Thanks!
Investigator highlight: Lourdes!  We contacted her house thinking that it was the house of an investigator the hermanas had found in our area on Tuesday.  Lourdes, about age 35, invited us in with a big smile and started talking our ears off. :)  It turns out she and her ¨husband¨ listened to the missionaries in Managua a few years ago, but never got baptized because he´s afraid of marriage.  As we talked about how the gospel blesses us and helps us to change, a man walked by pushing his ice cream cart and Lourdes bought us ice cream cones.  She accepted a baptismal date and then came with us to church on Sunday!  Another miracle: her husband went to a wedding on Friday night and came home drunk but also really excited about getting married.  Lourdes told us, ¨I wish I´d had the lawyer right there to just get it done quickly!¨  The Lord works in mysterious ways...
Chikungunya update: I got a fever on Thursday and had to stay in a member´s house for most of the day.  Hna. Doris in an angel and the mom of all the missionaries... she literally calls each of us, ¨hijo¨ or ¨hija¨ whenever we talk with her.  That sweet lady took my temperature and then had me lie down with wet cloths on my stomach and head to feel better.  Luckily, my companion was able to do divisions with a returned missionary for a few hours and my fever broke before ward council, so I was able to work for a little bit.  The next few days have been pretty good with only minor intestinal issues.  I am so thankful to have been blessed with good health on my mission!
Testimony builder: It was Fast Sunday and I was fasting and praying hard for several purposes.  Long story short, many important investigators did not go to church and we didn´t meet the standard of excellence yet again.   I was feeling... not even sad anymore, just numb.  I thought, ¨Why are we not seeing the fruits when we`re working so hard?¨ Typical missionary doubts, you know.  The elders tried to pep talk us and we ended up feeling more destroyed.  We walked back to the house to pray to break our fast, which I was thinking had been ineffective.  But after we finished praying and we went out to work, I felt that sweet, calm assurance that only the Holy Ghost gives.  Throughout the day I saw the Lord blessing us to meet the rest of the standards of excellence, to feel the Spirit as we contacted and taught, to find a new family to teach (in a house I had already contacted twice), and to feel true joy in the service of the Lord.
I KNOW that the Holy Ghost is real.  Each of us has access to His constant companionship.  I didn`t feel better in that moment because I`d received a nice meal, a tight hug, a peaceful nap, or a powerful pep talk.  I felt better because Heavenly Father heard my prayer and answered my fast.  Oh, the gospel is so true!  Sometimes we get tested to almost more than we can bear, but I can promise you that He is always there.
I`m out of time, but I want you to know that I know it`s true!  And that I love you!  He loves you too!
Con amor,
Hermana Hansen
With Suleydi in the paradise that is Tisma!
Another P-day in front of a cool lookout.  Hna. Reeve is the other American.