Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 73: Baptism and Multi-Mission‏

Dear family and friends,

I cannot believe how time is flying!  How is it even possible that Monday has come again?!

Let´s talk about the best news of the week: Luis Ivan got baptized!!  He is such a good man.  For the past five weeks, he has come to church early on his bicycle with his four-year-old daughter Rosita sitting on the middle bar.  We spent time on Monday and Wednesday running around trying to gather the final papers for his wedding only to find out on Thursday that Rosa is cheating on him and drinking alcohol, so he opted to separate rather than get married.  Oh, disobedience to the commandments ruins families and breaks hearts!  But Hno. Luis is so humble and faithful, and he loves his little girl.  Rosita refuses to stay with anybody else during the day, so he has had to take her to his night job guarding a ¨finca¨ (little ranch/orchard/farm thing) where she sleeps on the floor.  Luis arrived early to his baptism and brought his 84-year-old father.  It was a short and sweet service.  Angela, his neighbor and our investigator, came to see!  Her comment to us afterward warmed my heart as well: ¨Thank you for not giving up on me.¨ And all the ward keeps asking her when she´s getting baptized, too!  She answers, ¨¡Ya pronto!¨ (Soon!)

The other major thing that happened this week was another multi-mission conference (North and South), this time with Elder Steven E. Snow and his wife, accompanied by Brother Turley, both from the Church History Department.  They talked about the importance of keeping a record of our missions, learning from every experience, and gaining a greater vision of the work.  I loved what Elder Snow said: we should not get caught up in the everyday chores of missionary work.  If we increase our faith, we will find the people who are prepared!

Here´s the crazy/wonderful part of the multi-mission conferece: We had to board the bus with the rest of the zone at 4:30 AM.  We got to the church in Managua at 5:50 AM.  Therefore, we had four hours to catch up with other missionaries and study scriptures before the 10:00 conference!  I got to see, hug, and talk to Hna. McArthur, Hna. Quezada, Hna. Alexa Ortiz from OHS, Hna. Lord, Hna. Lagos, Hna. Reeve, and more!  I love those women!  And guess what... Ligia got baptized in Las Flores!

We´re randomly having a bunch of less-actives that we´ve visited start coming to church again!  And one of these humble families received the blessings right after they obeyed: they came home from church and someone gave them a chicken.  Be obedient and the blessings come!

A few quick funny moments to share before I sign off:

-As we waited outside the church for Angela to come to the baptism, a semi truck rolled by.  I noticed it had a circus logo on it.  The back of the truck was just a bar cage and contained at least three lions and a leopard.  Hna. Garfield and I just stared at the truck and then at each other... what in the world?!  Just another day in Nicaragua!

-On Sunday evening, we went to visit an investigator (an adult man) who hadn´t gone to church.  I saw him peek out behind the door as we climbed the steps.  He immediately turned and ran down the hall to hide from us. ¨Buenas!  Buenas!  BUENAS!" Nothing.  I was laughing too hard to be frustrated!

-It started POURING rain at 8:50 one night as we headed home.  We flat-out ran about four blocks to our house and probably looked pretty awesome in the process.

-While contacting a man holding a large chicken: ¨My sister just gifted me this chicken.  What a blessing from God, right?  Here, hold it!  Heft it!"  Okay... so I held the chicken. Wow, not going to lie, that is quite a nice, plump, heavy chicken!  I love Nicaragua.

Life is great and I´m loving the mission!  I know that God has prepared His children to hear this message - it´s just up to us to be obedient, work hard, and have the faith to find them!

Love you all!

-Hermana Hansen

Photos: Luis´ baptism!

Volleyball with the zone in our matching shirts!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 72: Mud and Miracles‏

Dear Family and Friends,
It´s been raining here in Diriamba - and that means mud.  And also rainbows.  Literally and figuratively speaking.
Here are the mud moments:

- Angela didn´t get baptized this week.  I probably shouldn´t explain all the details because this is going on the internet.  But the good news is that repentance is the second principle of the gospel, and we´ll all be learning a lot about how to apply that in the next two weeks as we continue to prepare for her baptism!
- Two other baptismal candidates for this Saturday no longer want to receive us or keep their commitments.
- I wore out another pair of shoes to the point that they`re no longer wearable.
Here are the rainbows:
- Luis Ivan´s divorce should be completed today!  We had some more adventures in the alcaldía (Nicaraguan city hall?) searching dusty books of divorce records and so forth.  Now all should be ready for his wedding and baptism this Saturday!
- I was desperately tired one night as we walked home one night and was dreading the thought of washing my other pair of very muddy shoes.  We walked into the house and started up the stairs when our landlady says, ¨Your shoes are on the landing.  I washed them for you.¨ Oh, I could have kissed that angelic Catholic lady!  It was the perfect service.  And then she did it again last night!

- We heard that our investigator Mirella was in the hospital, and the hospital is in our area, so we went to see her.  Nicaraguan hospitals are such an adventure... we walked around and looked for her, but she had already left.  We went to her house while it was raining, and she was obviously touched that we had made the effort to cross the slippery, muddy path to get there and also that we had tried to visit in the hospital.  She paid better attention than ever before as we taught another part of the restoration.  I definitely felt the Spirit!

- I`ve been working on lesson plans about the five most common doubts of investigators here in Nicaragua (a little booklet our mission gave us at the last multi-zone) and have been learning and applying a lot!  I would suggest this exercise to anyone who wants to strengthen their testimony: make a list of doubts that you or someone else might have about the gospel, then center your scripture study around solving those doubts.  Lesson plans are the best!!
- I never mentioned this before, but during the entirety of this transfer I`ve been struggling with lingering chikungunya pain in my feet, hands, and knees.  It was unbearable in the mornings and got better later in the day.  My knees especially were suffering all day long.  But this week, the pain has diminished to the point that I almost don´t feel it!  A HUGE blessing!

- Did divisions with Hna. Boulton, one of the sister training leaders.  Since the STLs are in our district, it makes divisions SO easy - no travel, no sleeping in someone else´s bed!  I had fun working with her and taking a break from my own investigator stresses to work in someone else´s area for a day.
- We had some sacred experiences with Angela this week.  She has borne her testimony to us and continues to read the Book of Mormon daily.  I am learning SO much about the Savior´s Atonement and His perfect love for us.  Salvation is not easy, but it´s worth it!
Time is up, but I hope you know that I know the gospel is true.  It is meant to be applied, not just studied or heard.  Don´t forget to pray, to read, to repent, and to give an accounting to the Lord every night!  I promise He will bless you with increased confidence in your testimony.  He will help you to change.
I love you!
-Hermana Hansen

Celebrating Hna. Tadeo´s 18 months!  I promise I`m not actually biting that elder´s head in the funny photo, it just looks like it.
Will you still love me if my legs look like this? :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 71: Disfrutando Diriamba!‏

Dearest everyone,
Somehow it`s Monday yet again!  I´m not sure how that happened so quickly.  What more do I have to report this week?
Angela is getting baptized on Saturday!  I`ve seen a real change in her in these weeks, she is much more sure of her testimony and is living the commandments.  She is reading the Book of Mormon daily and she even brought her thirteen-year-old daughter, Julissa, to church on Sunday.  Julissa doesn`t live with Angela, but she does live in our area, so woohoo!  
What else do I report about investigators?  We found a lot of new people that we thought were positive, but then most of them lied to us and now don`t want to receive us.  Earlier in my mission, that probably would have frustrated me more.  Now I know that it`s part of the process!  We have other people progressing, but no major stories I can think to share.
Oh, I do have a story!  Try to read this without tearing up: 
We have a recent convert in our area named Colallas (co-lie-us).  He´s 85 years old and lives alone in a tiny rusted metal shack.  He´s a really sweet, miniature man who loves to hear the word of God.  Last week, someone threw a wooden pole over the wall and it hit him on the shoulder.  Colallas´ shoulder became bruised and purple and he has difficulty moving his arm.  Even in that state, he came to conference last week, but he was quite dirty and smelled bad because he can´t shower or wash his clothes very well.  A sister in the ward noticed this and commented on it when we went to visit her.  But instead of criticizing, Ana Luz (who has two grown sons who are disabled and was just diagnosed with osteoporosis herself) asked if we could bring Colallas´ dirty clothes to her house so she could hand-wash them in her cement pila.  ¨I`ve seen him be so faithful in church these past few months, and I want him to be able to attend with dignity and feel clean.¨  So we thanked her and brought her the clothes.  Two days later, she gave us a sack of freshly laundered and mended clothes to deliver to Colallas.  My word, I love these people!  Ana Luz definitely has her own problems to deal with - health, economic, disablility - yet she understands what it means to be a disciple of Christ and live your baptismal covenants!
Some quick funnies, and then I`ll finish up.
-We randomly happened upon a less-active sister this week who had been baptized and promptly stopped attending.  In her prayer, she asked that we would return to our home to find ¨a pleasing, Godly odor¨ there.  Hmm, I`ve never thought to pray for that before, but it`s a good idea!
-I almost tripped and fell while drinking water and walking up a hill.  Hna. Garfield was in front of me to break my fall, but I ended up splashing her with water and she freaked out because she thought I was being attacked.
-My companion and I have been bonding more this week!  Hna. Garfield is pretty quiet and doesn`t talk a lot.  One night, after planning, we had been talking when I said, ¨Okay, that was a good talk.  Let´s go to bed.¨ Hna. Garfield: ¨Well, more like you talk, and I listen.¨ Me (in a joking tone): ¨Well, what else is new?¨ Then Hna. Garfield laughed and laughed... and now she talks to me more! ;)
Life is great!  The gospel is true!  Choose the right way and be happy!  Remember that I love you!
-Hermana Hansen
Celebrating Hna. Garfield´s nine months by eating a hamburger!
Happy BIRTHDAY to the best big brother I`ve ever had!  Love you, Jake!
En las cascadas

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Week 70: It`s a great day to be a Mormon!‏

Dearest family and friends,
Woohoo, I`m on a spiritual high from this week!  General Conference, of course, was excellent.  We also had a multi-zone in which the Spirit (through our leaders) instructed us abundantly.  Let me tell you about it!  Sorry if it`s jumbled.
WEDNESDAY: I got to play the piano!  My companion and I went to the church early in the morning so that I could practice for the multi-zone, which they advised me I`d be accompanying in the day before.  I hadn`t touched a piano in months due to a dysfunctional cable in Masaya and the fact that people in this branch can play.  AH, it was heaven to play hymns again!!!  Thank you, Margaret, for teaching me!  And thank you, Mom, for making me practice!
Also on Wednesday, Luis went to the ¨fellowishipping night¨ that we have at the church each week!
THURSDAY: The first spiritual feast!  In the multi-zone, President Russell gave a detailed talk based on ¨The Fourth Missionary,¨ that famous talk by Elder Corbridge.  He spoke on the attitudes and behavior of each type of missionary as far as study, P-day, schedule, after the mission, etc. etc. etc.  I`m not explaining this very well, but it was SO good!  I noticed a lot of things that I can improve to become a more consecrated missionary.  But the funny thing is, I also noticed how I have changed and grown in the mission, and that I`m actually doing better than I give myself credit for most of the time.
Anyway, we also had several workshops and then played Minute to Win It games to finish.  I came away from the multi-zone so inspired!  The Lord needs more out of each of us, and consecration makes us supremely happy!  We each received a copy of ¨The Fourth Missionary¨ to study, and I could write a whole other email about that, it´s so great!
SATURDAY: The first day of conference!  Nobody could come in the morning, so we did the weekly planning we had missed on Thursday for the multi-zone.  In the afternoon, we pass by first for Rosa (investigator).  She´s not home, but her 20-year-old son Cristian answers the door.  We`re like, ¨Hey, do you want to go to conference today?¨  He answers, ¨I`m not ready yet.¨ We answer, ¨Okay, we`ll be back in 30 minutes.¨ Don`t forget, it´s raining all this time.  We scarfed down a quick lunch and hurried back.  The door was closed.  In Nicaragua, that means 1) nobody´s home or 2) they`re hiding from you.  But we knocked, and miraculously, Cristian opened and he was ready to go!  We hop in a mototaxi and go to Zoyla and Rudy´s house.  The mototaxi with Cristian inside waits at the top of what they call ¨the hole¨ which is a small canyon where they live.  In the pouring rain, we hurry down to their house to find... that they`re not ready.  Zoyla is cooking beans and says she can´t leave.  We start talking and remind them of their commitment and do all we can to motivate them, and after almost half an hour, they finally come with us!  Luckily, the mototaxi waited, as did the microbus at the church with about ten wonderful members inside, and we made it to the stake center only about ten minutes after the session started!  And our investigators took notes on the papers that my companion gave to them, and we were only slightly shivering from being drenched and from the fans in the room.  Ah, heaven!!
SUNDAY: Ah, I´m running out of time!  The morning session: Luis passed by before we even got to his house with his bike and his five-year-old... ¨We`re going to conference!¨ Angela also came.  Pedro and Johnny came through, and it turns out they`re already friends.  It was a little hard to pay attention because we were sitting in the back of the stake center and there were a lot of kids, but the Spirit was unmistakable and I`m excited to read the talks in the coming weeks!
Well, I can´t describe all the wonderful and difficult things that have happened, and I can´t cause you to feel what I feel.  I love being a missionary!  I know that God´s plan for each of us is perfect, and He will help us to grow!  Remember that you are never static, but always changing.  What kind of person are you choosing to become?  Can the Lord count on you?  Go read ¨The Fourth Missionary¨ even if you`re not a full time missionary!  It applies to us all!
One final quote that I loved from reading in April conference, in Elder Kevin W. Pearson`s talk ¨Stay By the Tree:¨ ¨Enduring to the end is a hallmark of true discipleship and is essential to eternal life.  But when trials and challenges come our way, we are often told to simply, ´hang in there.´ Let me be clear: to ´hang in there´ is not a principle of the gospel.  Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him.¨ 
Much love,
Hermana Hansen
Photos:  I`m a princess!  Mosquito-proofing with our new gear from the multi-zone.
My little friend!
Breakfast of champions!  Open-faced sandwiches made with 1) bag of refried beans and 2) bag of jam with peanuts.