Week 22. So, I have been learning a little Samoan!

TALOFA!  Hello everybody!

Farewell to Sister Dupre!

Farewell to Sister Dupre!

This has been a crazy week. Sister Dupre’ headed home to Kentucky and I got a new companion and began a new transfer! I think I reported this last week, but my new companion is Sister Leota from Samoa! She is amazing!

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We have had quite the week. We headed out with a determination to set Bloomington on fire (metaphorically speaking, of course). And I think we are well on our way! I have been assigned as senior companion and along with that, designated driver. Look out St. George, Sister Hansen is driving. Check out the red truck that we get to drive!

Sister Leota, Sister Hansen, and the Red Truck

Sister Leota, Sister Hansen, and the Red Truck

I am happy to say that we have only gotten lost a few times… maybe once a day. If not more. So… heh. We get lost frequently… But that’s not that surprising in a new area. And we’re not really that bad. With old maps and relatively little information, I am actually quite proud of us! We are learning our area quickly and getting to know lots of people. And the members of the church in this area are so great, helpful, patient, and supportive. The leadership in our stake is amazing and the spirit and energy about missionary work here is really special. I think we are going to see so many miracles we won’t know what to do with ourselves!

Not Alicia's menu, but this is Taro, Banana, turkey tails, salmon in coconut milk, and lamb with green beans, from Island Grinds, St. George.  (Love technology!)

Not Alicia’s exact menu: Taro, Banana, turkey tails, salmon in coconut milk, and lamb with green beans.  Photo courtesy of Island Grinds, St. George, Utah.

So, I have been learning a little Samoan. My favorite word is… “olioli”. It means “joy”. 🙂 And the otherday we went to a Polynesian restaurant for lunch and I had Samoan food for the first time! I ate taro and green banana and fried chicken in a kind of teriyaki sauce. It was DELICIOUS! I am hooked. Which is great, because I have a feeling Sister Leota will want to go there a lot.

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We are also now assigned to work in the Samoan ward that covers just about all of St. George and into Hurricane. So our area just got REALLY big.

New area: St. George all the way to Hurricane, approximately 20 miles.

New area: St. George all the way to Hurricane, approximately 20 miles.

This is really exciting, because having Sister Leota to speak Samoan will hopefully make the work in that ward EXPLODE. I’m excited, although I am preparing to not understand very much of what is going on. The church services, from what I heard, are going to be mostly in Samoan. This will be a good opportunity to learn more of what I am increasingly finding to be a very beautiful language! I’m excited!

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So not much is different, other than starting a new transfer, learning a little bit of Samoan, driving a red truck, getting lost, trying Samoan food for the first time, and trying not to go crazy… well, actually, just about everything is different. We have 7 new sisters in the VC and we had several people go home or head out other parts of the mission away from St. George. Lots of new faces, friends, testimonies, experiences, and opportunities to love! I love it! But the work is the same, even with different faces, stories, opportunities, etc. to go along with it depending on where you are, because the work is the Lord’s work and if you are relying on Him and His Spirit, you can do anything. That’s why Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite scriptures. If I had to do any of this without Him, it wouldn’t work. That’s true of anything in life, now, isn’t it?

 

Well, kind of a brief report this week, but I am sure I will have more to say next week. I am so grateful for all of you! I think of you often. I have so much to be grateful for. I love you, family, friends, ward families, and everyone in between. Thank you for loving, supporting, trusting, having faith in, and believing in me! I can feel your love and support. I hope you can feel mine!

 

Drop me a line, if you get the chance! I would love to hear how you are, what you’re up to, and what’s new! I wish you all the best in all things always.

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Oute alofa atu ia te oe! Tofa! E moni le talalelei!  (I love you! Goodbye! The church is true!)  I’ll get better at Samoan! 🙂 Just watch! haha

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Love and rice and taro,

Sister Hansen

Week 21. Senior companion. Designated driver.

Well, hello friends and family!

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We got our new assignment for this upcoming transfer! It starts tomorrow. 🙂
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I am going to be staying in my new area, Bloomington, and my new companion will be… Sister Leota! She is from Samoa. I have served around her for quite a while and now I will get to serve WITH her. She actually came out the same time as me, but was in the Missionary Training Center longer, so trained later than I was. But we will go home together! I’m excited to work with her. There is a lot to look forward to in the next month and a half and I can’t wait to get started! Although, there is also a lot that is overwhelming. For the first time, I am senior companion, designated driver, and taking over an area that I know about 20% of. I guess that’s better than 0%, but it’s still nerve-wracking! But hey, I can do it. 🙂
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This last week has been rough, tough, good, and wonderful. Oh wait, that’s every week. I think I knew it before my mission, but my mission is just confirming and magnifying the fact that life is CRAZY and it’s all about ups and downs, and what we do with them. A sister missionary here in St. George that I’ve been serving with gave me this wisdom on the subject: Your success on a mission and whether or not you gave your all isn’t measured by the moments that you felt amazing, had all the energy in the world, got along perfectly with your companion, and had confidence to spare. It’s about the days when you are sick, dead tired, and apathetic, but you still get up and go because you remember who you’re serving, why you’re serving Him, and that… “[you can do all things through Him, which strengtheneth you]” (Philippians 4:13, paraphrased). Those are the days where your success as a missionary are measured. It’s what you do when you fall, when all your investigators drop you, when your companion is hard to get along with, when you don’t like your transfer call, or when you lose sight of who you are and what your purpose is. It’s how you rise to every challenge, get up and dust yourself off, and try again.
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The measure of success as a missionary, and perhaps in life, can be reexamined when we look at this scripture from the Book of Mormon: Alma 26:22.   First of all, I just love all of chapter 26 in Alma because Ammon is amazing. He’s one of my heroes and I just wish I could be a fraction of the kind of missionary he was. But verse 22 reads,
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“Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.”
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When we repent every day (which basically means, try a littler harder to do a little better every day), exercise faith, do good, and pray continually, we are given success that really matters: to know the mysteries of God (to understand what we study in the scriptures, what we learn in church, what God’s plan for us is, etc.), to learn things we never learned before and help others understand things, too, and to “bring souls to repentance.” Which, in my understanding means to help others come unto Christ, not by force, but by teaching them what we know, what we understand, and helping them see what it can mean to them and how to grow closer to their Heavenly Father. And that brings joy! What could be better?
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By the way, for anyone that feels like it, you should cross reference this verse to Doctrine and Covenants section 6. It will change your life. I love it.
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But anyway, that’s the measure of success that I want to adopt. Keep trying. Keep doing better every day, keep praying, keep having faith, and just… never giving up. That’s success. That’s joy.
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Speaking of joy, another one of my favorite scriptures this week, also in Alma and also about AMMON :D, is Alma 27:16-18.
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 16 And it came to pass that as Ammon was going forth into the land, that he and his brethren met Alma, over in the place of which has been spoken; and behold, this was a joyful meeting.

 17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.

 18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.

I can’t express how much I love this. Next to these verses in my scriptures I have written, “So cool that joy can be that powerful.” And it can. And the joy that Ammon was feeling was directly related to meeting his brethren again. It was a joyous reunion! And that’s how I feel about missionary work. That when we teach others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, about the love their Heavenly Father has for them, and about how they can return to live with God and be at peace forever and ever, we are giving them an opportunity to prepare for the joyous reunion they will have with their Father in Heaven.
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St. George Temple and Visitors' Center

St. George Temple and Visitors’ Center

I took a sweet little family on a tour at the Visitors’ Center yesterday. We went through God’s Plan For His Family, a film that talks about how important families are, how they can be together forever, and about how to rely on Jesus Christ’s teachings. It’s my favorite part of the Visitors’ Center, and very touching. Before they watched the film, the 5 year old son in this family had asked this question: STOCK.young-boy-765101-thumbnail“Where is Heaven?” I told him this: “We aren’t really sure. But we know it’s real. We lived there before, you know. With God. And if we follow Jesus Christ, we can live there again.”

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He accepted this answer. 🙂 And then afterwards, I came to close the movie and heard him say, “That was awesome!” I asked him why. His response all but made be cry. He said, “God is a true man. He wants us to be righteously because He doesn’t want us to live on Earth. He wants us to live in Heaven with Him. Because He misses us. And He really, really likes us.”
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I was speechless. All I could say was, “Yes, exactly. I couldn’t have said it better.”
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After they left, I ducked into one of the closets in the VC and just cried. For joy. The Spirit that filled that room as he spoke that simple, beautiful truth had filled my heart and come up to spill out my eyes. I was so happy. Because I know how true it is. We are all children of a loving, Eternal Heavenly Father, who takes an active interest in our lives, in our happiness, and who cares deeply about each and every one of us individually. We are important to Him. He wants us back. He really, really likes us.
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In his last email home from Japan, my friend Elder Naylor gave these wise words, and I want to share them with you, too. He said, “If you are ever faced with feelings of doubt as to whether He is actually there, or is really listening to you, I promise that He is. I urge you to get down on your knees and pray and ask to feel His love. I know that you will.”
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I know it, too. God loves us. He will never abandon us. He wants us back. That’s why I’m on a mission.
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Much love and best wishes to all,
Sister Hansen
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More pictures from Zions’ Canyon last week:
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Week 20. It helps to remember who you really are.

Hello everyone!

Sister Hansen and Sister Dupre' visit Zions Canyon, 1/13/14 Photo courtesy the Harr family.

Sister Hansen and Sister Dupre’ visit Zions Canyon, 1/13/14
Photo courtesy the Harr family.

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This is probably going to be pretty short and sweet, but I wanted to make sure to at least drop some kind of note letting you know I’m still alive!
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This last week has been all kinds of everything. Up and down and sideways and bronchitis and miracles and pot-stickers and pizza rolls.
We found two new investigators this week and already have one–her name is Shannon–on date to be baptized early in February. She is amazing! She and her boyfriend’s mother, Ann, came to the Visitors’ Center the other night and we gave them a tour. As we talked we discovered that they actually live in our area! We made an appointment to come teach the next day, showed up, had a really awesome lesson on faith, and she told us she wants to be baptized! We are so happy and excited for her! She’s amazing, truly. And Ann is hilarious. She’s from Thailand and likes to remind us that she has 100% faith in Jesus Christ. No less. We love her for it, but more importantly, He loves her for it.
It’s so easy to get discouraged in life, isn’t it? But it helps to remember who you really are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re a child of God! Did you know it? You are His Son or Daughter, LITERALLY, and HE LOVES YOU! Let that sink in. If you’ve never thought of that before or it’s just been a while, or you hear it every day, let it sink in further than it ever has and let it drive you. That’s who you really are! That’s who I am! And it gives me hope to keep going on the days when I have no motivation. I am a daughter of God and I have work to do, HIS work. That snaps me right out of whatever funk I’m in. And it’s awesome. Pot-stickers and pizza rolls also help.
So, yes, I had bronchitis this week. I took DayQuil for the first time. It’s yucky, but it works! And bronchitis is even more yuck.
Yucca!!!! (yukka filamentosa)

Yucca!!!! (Yukka filamentosa)

Speaking of yuck… I think I saw Yucca the other day.  It made me smile. 🙂 All my life we have had a thing for yucca plants in my family.  Whenever we see one, we say, “Yucca!!!”  I know, it’s silly…but it’s what we do! :D)

But, no worries!  I am feeling much better. 🙂
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Also, today for P-Day [preparation day] we went to Zion’s National Park! It was so beautiful. I took so many pictures but none of them do it justice. It’s just fabulous there! I’m glad we had the chance to go.
Anyway, I told you it would be short and sweet.
I love you all! I wish you the best week of your LIVES! You all deserve the best in all things, always! Remember who you are!
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Love and pizza rolls and pot-stickers,
Sister Hansen
Alicia in front of Angels' Landing, Zions Canyon, 1/13/2014.

Alicia in front of Angels’ Landing, Zions Canyon, 1/13/2014.

Alicia at Zions Canyon, 1/13/2014

Week 19. Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

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Sister Hansen at Hansen Stadium, Dixie State University

Sister Hansen at Hansen Stadium, Dixie State University

A friend of mine, serving a mission in Japan, wrote in his New Year’s letter that a sister missionary in his district greeted the holiday and the New Year by saying, *sarcastic voice* “Yay, Happy New Year, NOBODY’S HOME.”
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The holidays are the busiest time of year in most parts of the world and most cultures, and it’s no different in Utah. In fact, I suppose it may even be more so. People leave to visit family, family comes to visit them, and everyone is just busy, and next to no one is home. It makes it pretty hard to visit and teach people. But somehow, we found a way! We had lots of opportunities to serve, to spend time with members of the wards we work in, and to spread holiday cheer in every way we could!
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To celebrate New Years Day, we worked in the Visitors’ Center, played volleyball and racquetball with a group of missionaries, watched Despicable Me 2, and played ping pong, where I failed hopelessly. It was still a blast.
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But anyway, I have some stuff to report!
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Sister Hansen with Sister Michelle Wyson, and Kelsey in Green Valley area

Sister Hansen with Sister Michelle Wyson, and Kelsey in Green Valley area

Sister Hansen and Sister West with Wyson and Bowers children in Green Valley

Sister Hansen and Sister West with Wyson and Bowers children in Green Valley

This past week and a half has been pretty…exciting. We had an unexpected transfer the day after Christmas. Some changes had to be made within some of the companionships in the mission and Sister West and I ended up involved in the changes. So, I have been transferred! I am no longer serving with Sister West in Green Valley. I am now serving in the Bloomington Stake with Sister Dupre’ from Kentucky!

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There has been a lot of heartache and adjustment associated with the change. Transfers aren’t easy to begin with and transfers that come unexpectedly and change everything in an instant with no warning are even more difficult. But I have learned a lot from it.
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In the midst of this change, I was pretty upset. I knew that I needed to let go of the disappointment and hurt that arose from the situation, and so I turned to the January 2014 Ensign.
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January 2014 Ensign Magazine…Choosing to Forgive

January 2014 Ensign Magazine

There is a talk in it called, Choosing to Forgive. On my way to finding that talk, I stopped on a page to read these words that caught my eye: “Grief is painful, but Do Not Avoid It.” I started to read more and discovered that the article was all about grief, sorrow, the Atonement, and healing. The article is called, The Healing Power of Grief, by Steven Eastmond. (I highly recommend it, by the way.) With this initially heart-wrenching change has come a deep and sorrowful remembrance of the grief I felt just about a year ago at this time when my Grandpa Haymond died. Every other sad memory throughout my life seemed to bubble up as well. It was getting really ridiculous and overwhelming. But then I read this article and it was what I needed. And it’s almost like it was printed for me because it was published right at the time that these feelings would be most fresh. That is one of the tenderest mercies I have ever experienced. (The whole Ensign is so perfect.  It’s the greatest New Year Ensign ever. I love it.)
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Much of the article spoke of the healing power of the Atonement. I have received a lot of advice from leaders and friends and from this article about the Atonement, particularly about when Christ suffered and died for us. It wasn’t just so that we could repent of our sins. It was also so that He could know exactly how to help us and understand us in every situation of life. Leaning on the Atonement not only allows us to heal from our sins and mistakes, but also from our grief, our sorrows, our disappointments, our lack of patience and charity, and our difficulty with changes. A scripture in Alma (in the Book of Mormon) speaks about this exact thing. It’s Alma 7:12:
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12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
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Christ took upon Himself our everything. That is why he knows how to succor, or help, us so perfectly. That word succor, when you break it down, actually means to “run to someone’s aid.” It’s so beautiful.
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One of the quotes from this article especially stood out to me. I’ve written it on a sticky note and pasted it in my scriptures next to Psalms 30:5. It reads:
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“Some nights are much longer than others, but the morning always follows. Death (and I add, change) brings deep sorrow, but our joy will exceed our ability to comprehend when our reunion with deceased loved ones finally comes. Yet peace is not reserved for the next life only; we can feel peace now, even in the very moment we are feeling pain. How thankful we can be for the sacrifice of our Savior and the healing power His Atonement can bring us in spite of our grief.
‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5).”
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There is so much work to do! And so much loving to do! This change was hard. It changed everything and it was sudden and just…really hard. But all of us are already better because of it. And we will continue to be better and better. So, here we go – I am giving it my all. I’m here to work and to love and, by George, that is what I’m going to do. Especially since I know I have my Savior on my side. He knows exactly how to help me. I’m trusting Him.
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My new companion, Sister Dupre’, is awesome. She’s a blast and we laugh all the time. And after all, transfers are never the end of the world. Just a chance for new experiences, new faces, new growth, and a whole lot more love. It’s amazing. I love missionary work!
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Well, I have to sign off, friends. I love you all and I am so grateful for you.
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Have the happiest of Happy New Years!
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Much love and rice and beans,
Sister Hansen
Sister Hansen with Sister Davila, from Peru

Sister Hansen with Sister Davila, from Peru

Sister Hansen with Emily Rust, friend of BYU-I roommate (small world)

Sister Hansen with Emily Rust, friend of BYU-I roommate (small world)