Week 25. Talofa, friends and family!

Talofa, friends and family!

There was a miracle this week in Bloomington! And I am so happy to be here to tell you all about it!

We had an appointment a few weeks ago with a man named Joe (name changed). When we showed up for our appointment, no one was home, no one answered the phone, and we just put smiles on our faces and tried not to be disappointed. From what we had heard, it wasn’t that surprising to find that he wasn’t keeping his appointment. But we had been determined! A little while later, however, we got a call from Joe. He apologized profusely, saying that he had just completely forgotten, and that he wanted to reschedule. He really wanted to see us, he said. So we rescheduled for the following week (this was last Wednesday). When we arrived for our appointment on Wednesday, the same thing happened. The member that was with us to be a fellow-shipper told us that this was typical. But we were still determined.

We thanked our fellow-shipper for coming and went on our way. We met with another neighbor, a member of the ward, and asked her about her relationship with them. She said she would invite them to church and we were happy about that. We left and went out into the neighborhood. We had no car at the time, so we decided to walk around and knock on doors in the neighborhood. As we did that, a white mini van pulled around the corner and drove past us. The people waved at us. We didn’t recognize them immediately, so we just waved back, assuming it must be members saying hello. Then the white van pulled back around and stopped next to us. It was Joe and his wife! Joe again apologized and told us that he had mistakenly thought the appointment was later that day. He was so sorry he had missed it. They insisted we come back right then and there and that they would make us lunch.  It was already time for us to find lunch and head back to the Visitors’ Center. So we had our first discussion over hamburgers and fries and chocolate milk and talked about Joe’s relationship with God. At the end of the lesson, we had him committed to be baptized on March 8th, to read the Book of Mormon, pray daily, and we set another appointment for the very next day.

The miracle continued yesterday, when Joe went to church! He had been really hesitant to go since his wife had to work and someone needed to stay with the kids. We told him why it was so important for him to go and he said he’ll do whatever it takes; he really wants to be baptized. So he made sure someone could be with the kids, and he went! And he sat with his neighbor, a former bishop, and said that he had a really good experience.

There are big things in store for Joe and his family and it is our privilege to be a part of this! This isn’t even close to being about us. It’s timing, it’s the Spirit, it’s the return of a child to their Father in Heaven. We just get to encourage and facilitate it. It’s incredible!

Sister Leota and Sister Hansen at the home of Sophia Ford and her husband.  The Fords' son is a missionary in Billings, Montana.

Valentine’s Day dinner of Japanese Curry: Sister Leota and Sister Hansen at the home of Sophia Ford and her husband. The Fords’ son is a missionary in Billings, Montana.

Well, in other news, this last week was Valentines Day! Elder Watkins, Director of the Visitors’ Center, bought us an enormous chocolate cake and a dozen roses. They sat out on the front desk for a few days. As they’ve withered, the bouquet has gotten smaller. Now we are down to six, but those six are still beautiful and still kicking! He said, “Everyone should see a rose on Valentines Day.”

As we went to work on that day, an incredible and sweet family in our area gave us a bunch of chocolate covered strawberries they had made for us to take to investigators! So sweet! We took them to a few people, including our investigator, Hank (name changed), who is 94 years old and one of the most charming and classy gentlemen I’ve met! He was so happy to see us and to get the strawberries and the Valentines Card. We were so grateful that the kind people who made the treats had given us a chance to bring a little love and cheer to our investigators!

Well, I love you all! I hope you have a fabulous week and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers!

Much love and rice and pickled garlic,

Sister Hansen

mpson, in the striped dress and yellow sweater.  She appears in several films shown at the Visitors' Centers.

Visitors’ Center sisters with visiting VC celebrity actress, Sister Thompson, in the striped dress and yellow sweater. She appears in several films shown at the Visitors’ Centers.

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Week 24. Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day this week!!  I hope everyone has lots of chocolate this weekend!
This last week was pretty great. We had a chance to go to the Jacob Hamblin Home, a pioneer home/historic site that is run by senior couple missionaries.

The sisters' visit to the Jacob Hamblin home.

The sisters’ visit to the Jacob Hamblin home.

We don’t give tours there, like we do at the Brigham Young Winter Home, so it was a blast to be able to take a field trip there during our early morning training meeting.

I love historic sites. Growing up around Nauvoo, Illinois, living in Gettysburg, PA, and taking countless trips to Salt Lake City (and Temple Square) instilled in me a great love for history and historic sites. I especially love church history. I am so blessed to have been able to live in places like those and gain an appreciation for the legacy of the incredible people long past.  I love history.  The tour at the Jacob Hamblin Home was early in the morning, and it’s been rainy here. It felt like being in Nauvoo again, so it was quite a treat.

Yesterday we went to church for the first time at the Samoan ward! That was such an overwhelming experience. The entire service is in Samoan (with a few English words and phrases thrown in, as is normal, I’m beginning to understand), so they gave me a Samoan hymnal from which to sing.
This is a culture of love, charity, acceptance, and comfort. It’s so cool. The meeting was full of an energy I don’t think I’ve ever felt before in my life. We sang the opening hymn, which in English is called, “Secret Prayer.” I couldn’t make it through even the first verse because the Spirit was so strong and I got really emotional. That’s pretty normal for me and my family, though. [The Johnsons, my ancestors, were notably emotional people.] But it was so good. I loved the – sorry to use this word again, but – energy that was present in the singing. So much feeling.  So much raw and genuine devotion. I was blown away.
And so, there I was, choking back tears and being filled with joy and…I had been asked to give the opening prayer. In front of a whole congregation of Polynesians…  Me, a short, Caucasian sister missionary. I hobbled up and tried to keep it together long enough to pray. I finished, tried to make sure I was smiling and walked back to my seat. Sister Leota told me that I had sounded scared. Great. At least she was honest!  haha  But I wasn’t really scared. Just so nervous and so overwhelmed and so happy. And she had to give the closing prayer, so we felt each other’s pain.
So, on a completely different note, I fixed our vaccum the other day! For those of you who don’t know, my dad has this strange affinity for vacuums. He likes to fix them. He’s good at it.  He’s a strange, wonderful, talented, and amazing man. And apparently I am channeling that talent. Our vacuum had a little piece come loose and I fiddled with it for a moment and seemed to fix it! I’m not sure if it’s actually fixed, but I made it better! I thought of Dad and I was proud. It’s a little silly, but hey, it’s the little things!
Well, I’ll sign off. Lots to do! Places to go, people to teach! Lives to change! (Mostly my own.)
I am so grateful to be here. I love what I’m doing. Each and every bad day is made insignificant by the greater number of good days. Just as light dispels darkness, good overshadows and negates the bad. Optimism, my friends!
By the way, I’ve discovered a new favorite meal. It’s rice with fried eggs and sweet chili Thai pepper sauce. A little strange, but it’s fast and it’s good and when we have short lunch hours before we have to go to the Visitors’ Center for our shift, it works like a charm.
So, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day and a beautiful week.
Much love and rice and eggs and Thai pepper sauce,
Sister Hansen
Here are few of my new friends:
With Sister Duval

With Sister Duval

With Sister Miller

With Sister Miller

With Sister Nicholls, from England

With Sister Nicholls, from England

With Sister Waiane

With Sister Waiane, from Vanuatu

With Sister Biery

With Sister Biery

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Week 23. The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow

Dearest wonderful friends and family!

Vanuatu, South Pacific

Vanuatu, South Pacific

There’s a sister working here at the Visitors’ Center named Sister Waiane. She is from the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.  She speaks French, and has the most beautiful soul. Every time you ask her how she’s doing she says, “Super great!” with an incomparable, huge grin. And just about every time you turn around, rain or shine, she’ll greet you or say goodbye to you with this phrase: “The church is true!”  The best way to describe her is to say she’s a ray of sunshine. She beams with optimism, true joy, and conversion to and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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The other day, when I was down or worried or something, Sister Waiane asked me to look up this scripture from the Book of Mormon: Helaman 5:47.
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“Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.” 
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Beautiful, no?
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The scriptures are chock-full of situations where we are encouraged, advised, and even commanded to be optimistic! The Savior Himself spoke of optimism in many situations. Here’s just one example out of many, John 14:27, from the New Testament:
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“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 
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Click on the word for more examples of awesome scriptures about optimism or hope:  hope
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Notice how both of the examples I used had the word ‘peace’ in them? That’s important. Peace is linked with optimism and hope. When you are optimistic and hopeful, you will be at peace!
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I love optimism. But sometimes I am just so bad at it. I have such a knack for seeing the bleak and gloomy side of things. I want to be more like Sister Waiane, holding fast to optimistic thoughts like, “The church is true,” and never letting anything get me down.
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The Sun'll Come Out

Click here to watch the video.

I really enjoy the movie/musical Annie, about the unstoppable, OPTIMISTIC red-headed orphan who changes lives with her infectious smile, song and dance, and fortitude. She sings a really sweet song with a beautiful message:

The sun’ll come out tomorrow,
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.
Just thinking about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow, ’til there’s none!
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When you’re stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely,
I just stick our my chin, and grin, and say… Oh
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The sun’ll come out tomorrow,
So you’ve gotta hang on ’til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You’re only a day away!
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I love this. I love Annie. I don’t know exactly why, but today I felt like I should write a little bit about being optimistic, having hope, and looking forward to the sun coming out. I can promise you it will. And just as the Savior promised in John 14, He has given us peace that the world cannot give. Hope and Faith in Jesus Christ brings an opportunity to look to the future with absolute confidence, optimism, and no doubt whatsoever that the cobwebs and sorrow will completely vanish.
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All is well here in St. George. We’re in that kind of in-between season where it’s not really the dead of winter, but it isn’t spring yet, either. I am looking forward to a season that has made up it’s mind and is going to be warm. However, I’m not so sure that I’m ready for 120 degrees, which everyone keeps reminding me of/warning me about. Looking forward to THAT. Ha.
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But let me sign off with this: I’m happy. Because there’s no reason not to be. I love you. Yes, you, the one reading this right now. And I am so grateful for who I am, for my family, for what I’m having the opportunity to do, and for the beauty of the earth.
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Not much news this week, but I will write more next week. I love life! I love my companion, Sister Leota. I love you, friends and family, and couldn’t be more thankful for you and your support!
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I wish you all the best in all things always,
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Love and rice and beans,
Sister Hansen