Week 12. The rock is red, the skies are blue, the temple is white…

This last week flew by. I feel like I keep saying that, but man, it went by really fast. But at the same time, there were moments that it just felt so slow. It’s a really strange feeling. It’s confusing and jarring and all-together odd. Time moves slowly and quickly all at once. My only antidote is to just give my all, all the time, and not take a minute for granted. About every single returned missionary that I talked to before my mission gave me that advice, so I guess I should probably take it. 🙂
Well, all is well here in sunny (but still chilly) St. George. The red rock is red, the blue skies are blue, the temple is white, and… well, now is not the time for poetry.
This week’s message might be kind of boring and kind of short. But it is what it is. Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about trusting myself. It’s been a real struggle from time-to-time, to be totally honest; to feel like I’m doing a good job, being a good missionary/companion/person/etc. and I’ve been having to learn that I can’t do everything on my own. And that’s all about humility, isn’t it? So I guess really what I’ve learned (and will probably never stop learning) is that when you are humble enough to realize you can’t do it on your own, God will strengthen you and show you how much you actually CAN do, and He’ll help you with the things you can’t. I’ve had to face some pretty interesting challenges as a missionary, and a lot, if not most, of them have been very personal and very internal. But I’m actually very grateful for that. That’s the only way I’ll change my nature, not just my behavior, and come out on the other side a better person.
I had a beautiful experience yesterday in the Visitors’ Center. I’d like to share it with you. One of our sweet Spanish speaking sisters, Sister Moyano, was taking a tour in the Center with four Hispanic women. At least two of them were from Columbia. She took them all around, showing them the Christus Statue, the Savior of the World Room, the pictures of the temple interior, and so on. She taught them all about the restoration of the church, including Joseph Smith, and it was just fabulous. She was on a roll, the Spirit was there, and they were so receptive and interested. Then she had to leave the Visitors’ Center to go to another meeting and was broken-hearted to have© Antonio Neyra 2009 to leave that incredible tour with those incredible ladies. She had just put them in one of our theaters to show them the film, The Restoration. She had planned to give them all copies of the Book of Mormon, continue to teach them, and get their contact information so they could keep in touch after they left. She was crushed to have to leave them, and my heart was breaking for her. I offered to take over the tour for her. I promised that I would make sure they got the books and that I got their information. There were no other Spanish speaking missionaries at the Visitors’ Center (we were actually short-handed all around that day), so there were really no options. She was reluctant to leave, but put her trust in me (for which I am grateful and flattered) and left with her companion to make it to their meeting.

STOCK.Libro.Mormon.I gathered my wits and the copies of the Book of Mormon in Spanish, El Libro de Mormón, and went to meet them in the theater. I paused outside the door to the theater, waiting for the film to end, and took a moment to say a quick prayer. I prayed that I would be able to do justice to Sister Moyano’s efforts and love for these women. That I would be able to do justice to God’s love for them, and do my very best to work past the language barrier that was waiting for me on the other side of the door and help these sweet women in whatever way the Lord needed me to. I heard the film end, closed my prayer, squared my shoulders, and walked into the room. I had no idea what a beautiful experience was waiting for me there.

I started off by apologizing that Sister Moyano had to leave. I mustered up every inch of my Spanish: “lo siento,” “Hermana Moyano” (complete with the Argentinian j sound in place of the y), “gracias”, “de nada,” and that was about all I had. But they were so gracious. It turned out that of these four friends, three were non-members, and one was a member. The member’s name was Estella and she spoke English. Relief! She became my translator. I gave them the books and got their information as I had promised Hermana Moyano. They were all very willing and interested in keeping contact, however all three were adamant that they did not want missionaries sent to them just yet. I held on to that last word: yet. 🙂
They asked to see a video presentation called God’s Plan for His Family. Quick explanation: God’s Plan is an exhibit that tells the story of a particular family and how they rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It teaches that families can be together forever. As one women I met once said, “It brings the Family Proclamation to life.” At the end of the video, we stopped to talk for a moment. Everyone was very emotional.
In God’s Plan for His Family, a member of the family passes away. The very first time I saw this video was my first night in St. George. I was already exhausted, an emotional wreck, and all it made me think of was the loss of my grandfather last January. Every time I watch it, I think of him and how much I miss and love him, and of all of those loved ones that I have lost. I think of how grateful I am for my family, for God’s love for me, and for the knowledge I have of forever families and that I will see those who have passed away again. It’s just a very emotional exhibit, and it touched all of us.
One of the women in our group, Damaris, had just recently lost her husband and she was crying. It touched me. I stood there in that room with these women and bore my testimony of the importance of families. I told them how much I could feel God’s love for me because of my family and how much I could feel God’s love for them as I stood there with them. Estella translated as I spoke and it was incredible to experience the way the Spirit filled the room and the language barrier stopped mattering.
As we left the exhibit, one of the women gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and I felt the warmth of a love that crosses cultural boundaries and is so essentially a part of who we are as God’s children. I loved these women and I had only known them for about 20 minutes. And we did not speak the same language!
They asked to watch another movie, Legacy, and Estella asked me to find another video like God’s Plan to help Damaris with her grief. I started the movie and left them in the theater and began to search. I found the list of movies we have at the Visitors’ Center, took it into the break room, and again I prayed. I prayed that I would find something that would help Damaris and lift her, as well as her friends. I settled on two mormon messages: Lifting Burdens, and Hope Ya Know, We Had  Hard Time. Both are fabulous. After the film ended, I returned and showed them these two videos. Everyone was crying and the Spirit was so strong.
By this time, Sister Moyano was going to be back very soon. I asked them if they wanted to wait to speak to her. They all said no, that they needed to get going, and that they did not need to speak to her again. I was who they had needed. The same lady who had hugged me–whose name I did not learn, for shame!–said in broken English, “You are who we needed. You have touched our hearts. You will be in mine forever.”
I was overwhelmed and touched and grateful. She then said, “You do not need to speak Spanish.” She touched her heart, gestured to the sky, and said, “There are no limits.”
It’s the truth. With God there are no limits. I am so grateful that I was in the right place at the right time to take over that tour for Sister Moyano and meet these wonderful daughters of God. The experience meant the world to me and I will remember them forever, just as they said they would remember me.
It also made me think of my father, who served a Spanish speaking mission in Spain. I want to learn this beautiful language and hopefully one day meet these beautiful women again and thank them for the way they touched my heart and life.
I love my mission. I love my Savior. I love my God. I love how I am being used to help others and pray that I will continually be able to do so.
Well, my time is nearly up. I love you all, thank you for sharing this experience with me and for supporting me. I love you dearly!!
Sister Hansen

Sister West and Sister Hansen
Photographs of Sister West and me taken by Patricia Haynes, a member of one of our Green Valley wards. She wanted to do a photo shoot with us, just for fun! She’s very talented and we are very lucky!
Sister Hansen and Sister Sara Rollins

Friends from BYU Music Camp many moons ago: Sister Hansen and Sister Sara Rollins. So good to see her!

On Halloween we couldn't proselyte (be out tracting or teaching) after 6pm for safety reasons, so we all gathered at the Visitors' Center and watched "Ephraim's Rescue." We also ordered pizza. This is our receipt. It cracked me up that it said "Jesus Church." Fabulous.

On Halloween we couldn’t proselyte (be out tracting or teaching) after 6pm for safety reasons, so we all gathered at the Visitors’ Center and watched “Ephraim’s Rescue.” We also ordered pizza. This is our receipt. It cracked me up that it said “Jesus Church.” Fabulous.


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