Week 18. Merry Christmas!!

Hello everyone!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Bell Choir in the Visitors' Center

Bell Choir in the Visitors’ Center

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was crazy, busy, wonderful, amazing, and full of blessings.
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This last week, we had a small miracle (but a miracle nonetheless!). We found another potential investigator! We were walking around in one of our neighborhoods and saw a house where, we realized, we had never seen lights on before. So we knocked on the door and a woman came out and tried to politely shut us down. She is a member, was raised in the church, but just wasn’t interested. We were about to cordially wish her a good night and Merry Christmas when her grandson (about 6 or 7 yrs old) popped his head out the door and said, bluntly, “Who are you?” I said, “We’re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And then her granddaughter (about 15 years old) came out and said, “Hey, that’s the church I go to.” A few more minutes of conversation revealed she’s been going for about 8 months but hasn’t been baptized! We asked her about it and she said, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it (baptism).” She said she is really interested in learning more before she makes a decision about whether or not to be baptized and by George, that’s exactly what we are here for!!  We got her phone number and she got ours and we are going to try to see her very soon!  Miracle.   It was a good day.  We didn’t have the car that day, so we had to walk around in our area to contact and visit people. I have gained a testimony of walking as a missionary. We talk to more people, we talk to each other more instead of staring off at opposite parts of the horizon and never really getting to know or care about one another, and we are led more easily by the Spirit. It’s marvelous.
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Anyway, that just began a week of wonderful things. Tuesday was Christmas Eve and we got to spend time with the other missionaries in our district to play some board games. That was fun! And then Christmas morning rolled around. We got up at 6:30 am, like normal, and opened presents together.
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Our Christmas Tree.  People have been very good to us.

Our Christmas Tree. People have been very good to us.

We were blessed to have quite a few gifts to open. People have been very good to us and both of us received amazing packages from our families.

Later in the morning, we celebrated the day with the sisters in the VC. We opened Secret Santa gifts and had a White Elephant exchange. I got a really nice Christmas music CD, among other things. Mostly, I just cherished the gift of being with good friends while celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
All the Visitors' Center Sisters

All the Visitors’ Center Sisters

We got to watch Despicable Me 2, which is quite adorable, and I saw the first half of Polar Express. I’ve never seen that movie and it was frankly charming.
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I got to video chat with my parents in the early afternoon. That was by far my favorite Christmas present of all time. It was good to see their faces and hear their voices, and I even got to see my dog!! COLSETTE! It was so good. Just truly, truly… good.
Video Chatting on Christmas Day

Video Chatting with my parents on Christmas Day

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We then watched The Lion King, as a district, and played another board game. It was a great way to end the day.
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Well, life is good, friends. And I am loving what I am doing and who I am and what is happening. I wouldn’t give any of this back, even the hard days, and I am blessed on a regular basis.
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Before, I sign off, I just want to tell you…  I’m most grateful for the reason we are even celebrating anything this season: Our Savior. My most precious possession is my testimony of Jesus Christ. He lives. He was born and lived that He might show us the way Home, love us, teach us, and help us to strengthen one another. I love Him. I testify that He is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, and that through Him, and through Him alone, we can find peace in this life and eternal joy in the life to come. I know this and it is my privilege to be His representative as a missionary for a short 18 months. I pray that I will never forget why I am really here, on a mission, and that I will continue to work to learn to love like He did.
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I love you all. I cannot express enough thanks for who you are for me and for all you do for me.
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Much love,
Sister Hansen
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P.S. Happy New Year!! And, I know it’s after Christmas, but I wanted to share my favorite Christmas video so far. The message is one that can be applied year-round:
What Shall We Give?

What Shall We Give?

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17. Miracles. Hardships. Snow. Ice. And cranking the AC in our car.

Hi, hi, hello, everyone!!

I hope people are actually reading this, otherwise I would feel really silly. I guess, either way, I’ll have the posts to read back over after my mission. So, if nothing else, I’m writing this for me! Hooray!
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Well, I’ve learned on my mission, if I didn’t know it already, that I get emotional (teary) relatively easily. Often. My emotions reside just below the surface, I guess, and I am so easily moved and touched by so many things. I think my companion thinks I am crazy, but I think I’m just lucky. My mom has told me countless times that this is a genetic thing. It’s a “Johnson family” thing. We apparently are all very emotional-wear-it-on-your-sleeve-type people. I’ve heard it said that some of my ancestors would “cry at the opening of a pack of cigarettes.” I am not going to try that one to find out, but I know I cry at parades, concerts, in movies, when listening to music, when a touching commercial plays (well played, Hallmark), when I watch a Mormon Message, talk about my family, think of home or a memory, talk about the gospel, or feel the spirit. And I am usually doing one or more of those things… just about all the time, so, I just cry all the time. But I truly do feel lucky. I am constantly reminded of all the good in my life and in this world, and I am consistently and easily affected by it. The last few weeks, with Christmas approaching and the holiday spirit warming everything and everyone, everything seems to make me extra sentimental, teary, and grateful.
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This past week has been really good. We have had miracles and hardships and snow and ice and thawing and boot-buying and scarf-wearing and cranking the AC in our car, all in the same week. We are excited for another transfer together, Sister West and I, and are already seeing amazing things happening in Green Valley. We found a new investigator! Her name is Pat, and she’s marvelous! Her story is the kind of story that we, as missionaries, hear about, but never actually experience. Well, we experienced it! We knocked on her door and our first indication that something was different was that she grinned and said, “Come on in!” instead of getting apprehensive and half closing the door on us as soon as soon as our name tags were spotted (that happens a lot, actually). She welcomed us warmly and we started to talk. We soon learned that they have just recently moved from California and were meeting with missionaries there before they moved. As soon as that was brought up, we said, “Well, would you like to do it again?” And she said yes without any hesitation!
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When we came back we talked about what she was expecting from us and what we were expecting for her, and she told us (without our mentioning any of it yet) that she needed a new copy of the Book of Mormon so she could read it, she wants to meet with us every week at a regular time, and she’s very interested in getting involved with the Mormon faith. She and her husband actually moved to St. George because of the people, she said, and she was excited about learning more about everything and getting involved and being a part of everything. She’s the sweetest woman and she blew us away with her warm heart, her eagerness to learn about the gospel, and her comfortable, friendly manner. We felt at home immediately with her, and I just know that we are going to be blessed from having the chance to know her. She’s so special. And that’s the thing, actually. Every single person we meet, whether or not they are interested in learning more about the church, is so incredible. I’ve talked about this before, but seriously! EVERYONE IS SO COOL!!! And so special, and worthwhile, and beautiful, and interesting, and I am just so lucky to spend all my time getting to know and love the children of God who are living in St. George, UT. It’s the coolest thing in the world.
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Well, anyway, I’ll keep you posted on what happens with Pat. She’s awesome. We’re seeing her this week, so I’ll have an update the next time I write!
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On another note, Christmas is just around the corner!
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I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas videos/messages with you.  Click on the picture to link to the video:
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  Good Tidings of Great Joy
Good Tidings of Great Joy
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

What Shall We Give?

What Shall We Give? #2

And, as I said earlier with all the crying and whatnot, these made me cry for sure. Ha.
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I love this season. It is a time of giving, a time of loving, a time of hearts changing, and a time of remembering our Savior. He is the reason for the season, as we’ve heard many times before. But do we remember why? I testify to you that He was born that He might live and show us how we must live in order to have “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” He came humbly, He lived humbly, and He pleads with us to be humble. When we are humble, we are teachable, and when are teachable, we learn and grow and become the marvelous individuals that we are capable of becoming, as children of God.
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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” One of the most famous pieces from that marvelous and inspired work is quoted from this scripture in Isaiah 9:6:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
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He truly is The Prince of Peace. Through Him we can find true and everlasting peace. He promised, as He left this world, to leave peace, saying,
“Peace I leave wtih you, my peace I give utno you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
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I leave with you a promise that if you
“Come unto [Him], all ye that labour and are heavy laden, [He] will give you rest.
“Take [His] yoke upon you, and learn of [Him]; for [He] is meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For [His] yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
And what better time to do this than now, today, especially during the Christmas season. Remember Him as He remembers you and I can promise you greater peace and joy.
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I wish you all the merriest of Christmases. You all deserve it. Thank you for all your love, support, friendship, humor, and awesomeness. I am grateful for each and every one of you!
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Wishing you all the best in all things, always,
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Love,
Sister Hansen

Week 16. Snow on the palm trees.

Snow on the palm trees at the St. George Temple.

Snow on the palm trees at the St. George Temple.

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night!!!!!

How is everybody doing? 
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It really, truly snowed in St. George. I even have the pictures to prove it! It’s been crazy! It snowed all day long last Saturday. It just kept coming!
Snow in St. George!

Snowfall in St. George, Saturday, December 7, 2013!

The next morning we got a text from our Zone Leaders telling us that we weren’t allowed to drive anywhere because the awful road conditions.
Snow on the street near the temple.

Snow on the street near the temple.                      Sunday, December 8, 2013.

Ice everywhere like you wouldn’t believe, and St. George has no ice/snow removal equipment. It’s ridiculous. I grew up in snowy, wintry places, and it’s unreal to be in a place that doesn’t know how to deal with this! But since we couldn’t drive, and most of St. George wasn’t going to go out and drive either, we spent our Sunday morning shift in the Visitors’ Center basically having a missionary snow day.
We watched Christmas movies, took time to study our scriptures (which doesn’t happen when we are on morning shift very often, because we have to work during our normal study time), take pictures of the gorgeous fresh snow (and the temple), and see only a few brave visitors. It was pretty relaxed. And the snow still hasn’t melted! And many of the roads are still relatively treacherous. I’m grateful that both my companion and I were raised in places that got snowy and icy like this so we know what to do.   But anyway, it’s been sort of a sweet reminder of home. It still has nothing on Rexburg, though. Rexburg is just ridiculous.
Sister Hansen with a snowy backdrop at the Visitors' Center.

Sister Hansen with a snowy backdrop at the Visitors’ Center.

So, news for everyone! Transfer calls came last Saturday and we have begun a new transfer! And guess what? Nothing changed! For me, at least. Sister West and I are still together, in the same area, for at least another 6 weeks. We are so excited and grateful because we are teaching some really wonderful people and we have members in our area who are like family to us. It will be so hard to leave when the time finally comes.

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I feel like so much has happened since I last wrote, and yet I can’t think of anything to say! Oh wait! I know! I have finished the arrangement for the Christmas Program. We are going to play a mashup/combination of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and The Coventry Carol; written for Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, and Viola. I’m praying that it comes out ok. When I first told the woman in charge of the program about the instrumentation, she looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t know. Maybe I am. But the composition student in me thought, “Why not??”  So I went right ahead and arranged it! I’ll let you all know how it goes. I loved working on this. Not only because I was finally able to write again, and for a purpose, but also because I was forced to do it by hand, completely, with not even a chance of Finale or Sibelius or any other music notation software (and I will be honest, I really missed it!). It really forced me to use my ear and the piano and I know that my composition teachers would be proud! I’m proud! I am so beyond grateful that I am having the privilege of using my talents in this way as a missionary! AND my bassoon should arrive today and I am so excited!
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Well, I apologize, but this will probably be a short post. But I will try to be more exciting next week!
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I love you all so much! Thank you for your constant love and encouragement! You are the best!
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Happy Holidays!
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Love,
Sister Hansen
PS from Mom:
Alicia’s friend Michelle Wyson sent this picture of Alicia on Wednesday afternoon:
"Our sister missionary with her treasured bassoon.  She missed it."

“Our sister missionary with her treasured bassoon. She missed it.”

Week 15. It Snowed in St. George!!!

STOCK.St.George.snow.BArmstrong.2013.

Uncharacteristically cold and snowy in St. George, 12/04/2013.
Photo by Barb Armstrong

It snowed in St. George!!!

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Everyone told me that it would be balmy and pleasant all year ’round in St. George.  Nope.  It’s decidedly chilly and the ground is white and wet!  And I am bootless! It’s an adventure. 🙂
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But once again, I must report that all is well. Thanksgiving came and went and Christmas is almost upon us!
Sister Hansen with Sister West, Thanksgiving Day, 2013

Sister Hansen with Sister West, Thanksgiving Day, 2013, Photo courtesy of Michelle Wyson

I am excited for it, but I also know that I will probably be missing home and maybe even the winter weather of Rexburg a little. My companion, Sister West, being from Arizona as she is, gets cold easily, in the teens and 20s and 30s and I just think of the negative degree weather and mountainous snowbanks in Rexburg and feel relatively toasty. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?
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As the evidence of Christmas preparations go up all around us, I am getting excited!
Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The Visitors’ Center already has its halls decked, literally, and we even have our own little Christmas tree in our apartment, which Sister West calls the “Charlie Brown” tree.
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Every Christmas, the missionaries in the St. George area participate in a Christmas program. We are putting on a Christmas concert! And I am proud to announce that yours truly will be playing the bassoon in said concert! And I will be arranging a piece that will be played on the concert for Violin, Viola, Clarinet, and Bassoon,  in order to accommodate the brimming talent in the Visitors’ Center.I am so excited to be able to use my talents in this way.
Christmas-time at the Visitors' Center

Christmas-time at the Visitors’ Center

I am so grateful for the God-given talents that I have, and that everyone has. God knows us so well and He put us in places and opportunities that will allow us to do what we are good at to bless others. Every single person I have met on my mission (missionary or otherwise), has something to give to the world that makes them undeniably special.  I know that they are where they are for a reason. I have been blessed with opportunities to use music as part of my personal missionary work all over the place. I play the piano in meetings, for special musical numbers, as part of arranging that piece for the Christmas program, and in many other venues. And I will soon be able to play the bassoon, as well, fingers crossed. I’ll let you know how that plays out! But I am so, so, truly grateful. The Lord knows us and will use us as His instruments (perhaps even literally! :D) to bring about joy, service, and the great and marvelous work that is preaching His gospel.
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And tied to that is this: Every day I meet new people, either on the street, in the Visitors’ Center, at church, etc., and I have learned one important thing; Everyone is amazing. If you take the time to talk to people, everyone will have a story that could touch you, change you, help you, amaze you, etc. And every single person has those stories and those experiences and that amazing identity as a child of God. Everyone is so special and is just brimming with worth and importance! Truly, “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,” (Doctrine & Covenants 18:10) but it can be great in our eyes, too. We know that “…the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)  We can choose to look on the heart, too, and let the worth of every soul we come in contact with be great in our sight, as it is in the sight of our Heavenly Father, our God.
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I can promise you that if you look on the heart, and not the outward appearance, you are in store for some pretty incredible, beautiful, and worthwhile experiences and some amazing new friends! I invite you to try it! Take time to talk to one person you’ve never really talked to before, or never met, like you really care about them and who they are, and you’ll find that not only do you start to actually care, but that you will feel God’s love for you in greater abundance, and you will feel God’s love for them as well. That’s a lot of love, and it’s a lot of good. And that’s the Spirit of Christmas. The worth of souls. 🙂
The Christus Statue at the Visitors' Center at Christmas-time

The Christus Statue at the Visitors’ Center at Christmas-time

Christ was born that He might live and die for us. He died that we might live. We live that we might come to know Him, learn of Him, and become like Him. He was one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) advocates for the worth of the human soul. So, this Christmas, look for the worth in every soul you come in contact with, and remember how Christ feels about you, your family, the stranger you take the time to talk to, and you will have peace on earth and goodwill. Joy to the World! Christmastime is upon us!
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Remember the reason for the season.  Check out the video here! 🙂
The Reason Behind Christmas

The Reason Behind Christmas

Well, Happy December, everyone!
Next week is transfers, so I will have an announcement of what changes have taken place! Be excited! Change is good!
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Until next time,
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Love,
Sister Hansen
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P.S. Lately, I have fallen in love with the Bible Videos on lds.org. They’re videos that dramatize the story of the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can watch scenes from the Bible!  They’re so beautifully done, a lot of the music is just stunning, and I could watch them all day long! Check them out and enjoy!   Bible Videos