39. Counting blessings, significant eggs, and learning Geordi

June 17, 2014

Dear Everyone,

My family is so cool.
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But, really. It is just a fact. My parents are cool. My dog is cool. My family is cool. Thanks for being part of who I am. You’re the reason I’m so… well I’m not there yet, but I have potential simply because I’m connected or related to you!  That is all I really need to say on the matter.
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Moving on…
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I made a goal when I hit my half-way mark last month. I want to spend the last 9 months of my mission being truly grateful. I decided to keep a daily gratitude list. I’m going to write down at least one thing every day for which I am grateful. I’ve fallen down on this a little bit (I just keep forgetting), but I love what I already see it doing for me. My list ranges from air conditioning (especially in St. George, thank you very much) to cheese, from Priesthood, to family, to my companion, and my dog, to tracting… and it goes on and on.
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My new companion, Sister Pearson, and I are seeing so much growth in our area and already yesterday was a day full of success and miracles. We had a family from our area bring 3 of their neighbors/friends to the Visitors’ Center for a tour.  These are people we’ve been trying to contact!
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Other such miracles have included an amazing investigator expressing that she feels she has finally found something to have faith in and accepting a baptismal date when we didn’t expect her to; finally having a lesson with a family that we’ve had a hard time reaching; and meeting a gentleman who came to a sacrament meeting just because someone told him this is a good church to check out.  We had the opportunity to take him to the Gospel Principles class where the lesson was about the Restoration (the lesson we usually teach first with investigators).
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These might seem to be relatively small miracles, but what miracle is really small? Aren’t they all large, significant, impactful, and deserve our gratitude to the Lord? I think so. It causes me to reflect on a comment I once heard a missionary make… I think it was in our last zone conference: He said that every baptism he experienced on his mission was a miracle. Every one. That’s because every single person is a miracle: a child of God with divine worth and potential. We are all walking, talking miracles!
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I think I’m really beginning to internalize the faith necessary to expect miracles. I’ve had the chance to gain a new understanding and perspective on how to expect miracles. Especially with the training we have had lately in all of our meetings on the correlation and relationship between faith and prayer. I’ve made an effort to make my prayers more specific, my faith more steady, and I’m seeing results. This last Sunday, Sister Pearson and I spoke in one of our wards about Fasting and Prayer. In her talk, she shared a thought that I really needed to hear. She said, “We need to pray like everything depends on Heavenly Father and then we need to work like everything depends on us.” Sounds good to me. Sounds hard. But sounds good. Sounds reasonable, actually.
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Well, I am looking forward to the remainder of this week. I feel my confidence building, not because I’m trusting myself more, but I’m learning how to trust God more. I look forward to the life-long process of perfecting that pursuit.
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In other news, my companion is fantastic. She’s awesome and she puts up with a lot from me. I’m kind of a handful (sorry Mom and Dad). I’m so grateful for her. 🙂 She’s really funny, sarcastic, and down to earth. She keeps me real and we work hard together. And she is teaching me Geordie 101, for lack of a better term for it (the northeastern dialect in England). I’ve already learned how to say “Wheyaye man,” which basically means “Yes.” Except it’s way cooler than the one syllable “yes,” obviously.
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In even more news…we have fresh eggs!!!
A family we had dinner with this week sent us home with two cartons of fresh eggs. Aren’t they beautiful? I’m not the greatest cook, but I have learned the art of egg-usage. I’m so in love with these eggs!
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Anyway…. back to normalcy.
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I love you all. That’s the good to honest truth. Thank you for all you do, all you are, and everything else in between. You are the best.
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Much love and rice and beans,
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Sister Hansen
Click on a picture to see the slideshow.
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38. Share the love

June 12, 2014

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Dear Friends and Family,
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This will be a short message this week. I’m short on words and on time. But I do just want to say… I love you. I love you all so dearly. Thank you for being who you are and for being the best you. Thank you for all you’ve taught me and continue to teach me.
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Thank you for your strength.
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Thank you for your humor, and patience, and the otter-pops (Teresa, Kathryn, Sharaysa), the hugs, the bassoon lessons, the piano lessons, the Sunday school lessons, the life lessons. Thank you for your examples.
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I just recently saw one of the newest Mormon messages, entitled “True Christianity.” It made me cry. That’s actually not hard to do, but still, it is quite touching. In place of my lack of words this week, I just wanted to share with you the spirit of the work I’m doing here. This is it. This is a work we can all do. It is love:
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Click here to see the video:
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So, I leave you with this. Find ways to share that love with those around you this week. It’s along the same lines of “pay it forward,” isn’t it?
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I would invite you all to reflect (right now, later today, tomorrow, just sometime this week) on all the blessings you have received. All the miracles you have witnessed. All the acts of kindness that you have been on the receiving end of. And then go out and be that for someone else!
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I LOVE YOU. I do. I really do.
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Have a fabulous week. I’ll be back next week!
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Much love and rice and beans and gratitude,
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Sister Hansen
Sister Fontaine (Canada-French Speaking), Sister Garcia (Canada-French and Spanish speaking), Sister Me (just Germanglish... sort of Mostly English), Sister Waiane (Vanuatu-French Speaking), and Sister Pearson (New Castle, England - English speaking).

Sister Fontaine (Canada-French Speaking), Sister Garcia (Canada-French and Spanish speaking), Sister Me (just Germanglish… sort of Mostly English), Sister Waiane (Vanuatu-French Speaking), and Sister Pearson, my companion (Newcastle, England – English speaking).

37. Impossible Things Are Happening Every Day

June 3, 2014

Hello EVERYONE!

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I am loving my new area. And my new companion. Sister Pearson and I are already getting along splendidly and working hard. We have had so many great experiences already together. There are miracles every single day!   And this week has been chock full of them.
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It reminds me of a song – from one of my favorite movie-musicals: Rogers and Hammersteins’ Cinderella. The fairy godmother is explaining to Cinderella that anything is possible and she sings this fabulous song, saying, “Impossible things are happening every day!”
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Well, what is impossible really? Have you seen the new video from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Because of Him? If not, here’s a link. If so, here’s the link. (Click on the picture.)
Stock.Because of Him
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What is impossible?  Nothing, Because of Him.  Or should I say… #BecauseofHim. Nothing is impossible with Christ. And that’s the most beautiful thing about this world, this life, this work that I am a part of. I can do nothing without Him, and I wouldn’t want to try. My scripture motto that I have kept close to my heart since I first left on my mission is from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
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Every day I see more and more how this is undeniably true. Everything and anything is possible… Because of Him.
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This week has been full of so many wonderful things. Sister Pearson and I had the most amazing experience at the Visitors’ Center. At the VC, the sisters have the chance to do a whole different kind of missionary work, online!  We are some of the missionaries that take the mormon.org chats.
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You go to mormon.org………………………………………………………then click on chat:Screenshot 2014-06-17 22.21.25
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Then you fill in your first name, and click on START CHAT:
Screenshot 2014-06-17 22.21.51
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Have you ever been on mormon.org to chat with missionaries? Well… that’s us! Sometimes the chats that come through aren’t that great: insincere, disrespectful, argumentative…  But often, they are great. They’re real. So real and so beautiful.
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We had just that kind of chat this last week with a young man that came in full sincerity and beautiful curiosity. The first thing he said to us was:
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“I want to know how to join the church of Jesus Christ.
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Well, we took that and ran with it, didn’t we? The rest of the conversation unfolded as he became more and more sincere and we became more and more grateful that we were blessed to be the ones to speak with him. Along the course of the chat, he expressed to us that he had felt for quite some time that a restoration of the church that Christ had established was much needed, and that he was relieved that Joseph Smith had been the one to do it so he didn’t have to do it himself!
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The more we spoke with him, the more excited we were for his honest interest and all the blessings that lie ahead of him. The longer we talked, the more joyful we felt, until near the end of our conversation, we had invited him to meet with local missionaries, connected him with his local leadership, and best of all… invited him to baptized and join the church… which he accepted.
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We have spoken with him on the phone twice now, and he is still amazing as ever. We are so excited for him, for the choices he is making, for the faith he has and inspires us to have. It all began with two missionaries 5 years ago that spoke with him. He blew them off. But here he is, 5 years later, and telling us he wishes he had spoken with them.
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My friends, don’t ever waste a moment to share a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15), and share your testimony of the gospel and of the Savior Jesus Christ. You NEVER KNOW what seeds you are planting. And at the very least, plant it in your own heart and let it grow.
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When you look for them, tender mercies from the Lord are all around us; big ones like this man’s story, and little ones–like hugging your dog after she’s been warmed by the sun, and hearing your parents’ voices over FaceTime while you’re in two different states (ok that last one is a BIG ONE :D).
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As a missionary, I seem more keenly aware of those tender mercies. But you know, I think it’s because I’m looking.  I would invite you to look for the Lord’s hand in your life today. Look for it, I implore you. It is there. Write down what you notice. Take it into your heart and thank you Heavenly Father for it. Watch as joy becomes an integral and natural part of your out-look on life. He loves you. I love you.
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Another uplifting tender mercy/miracle that my mom just shared with me:
“A few minutes ago I was outside at recess, sitting under the gazebo.  A little first grade boy came out to read during recess, and he had a black zippered little notebook.  I thought it was going to be a Kindle, or something.  He opened it up, and there was a mini copy of Preach My Gospel!  I said, “Oh, Hayden, you are going to be an amazing missionary!”  “You’re LDS, too?” he replied, so I showed him my CTR ring.  First grade!  He sat and read it for about five minutes!”
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He’s a miracle! I’m so grateful for his inspiring example. 🙂 Studying Preach My Gospel in the first grade… so cool. I want to be like him when I grow up.
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Well, I love you. I love you so much. Thank you for all you do and all you are.
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Much love and rice and beans,
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Sister Hansen

36. The Jewel in the Desert: The Historic St. George Utah Tabernacle, est. 1863

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO VIEW AS A SLIDE SHOW.

Links of interest:

http://mormonhistoricsites.org/st-george-tabernacle/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._George_Tabernacle

http://www.stgeorgetabernacle.info/

https://www.lds.org/locations/st-george-tabernacle

http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/71000862.pdf

35. New Area, New Apartment, New Companion

May 26, 2014

Dear friends and family and everyone important,

I love you.
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Every week when I read the updates that my parents send me, I seem to cry. I’m filled with gratitude as I hear of the great experiences they are having, the love they are feeling from the ward and community, and of all the successes that seem to abound in my circle of friends (both and and off their missions). Thank you for being in my life and being so good to me and my family. You’re all worth more than gold.
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Well, I have some news for everyone. There are big changes ahead. We are just hitting another transfer and I am heavily affected. I’m leaving Bloomington and headed to Washington City.  I will still work in the Visitors’ Center.  Washington is just a couple miles away. My new companion is Sister Pearson, from New Castle, England. I’ve known her for a while, just from the VC, so I am so excited! A new area, a new apartment, a new companion. New adventures!! Sister Arnold will stay in Bloomington and get TWO, count ’em, TWO new companions. She’ll have the adventure of being in a trio for a while. I’m so excited for her!
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Sister Hansen with Sister Arnold

So, as a good-bye tribute to Sister Arnold: a funny story to share:

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The other day while on a lunch break, we sat pleasantly eating our spaghetti and egg salad sandwiches (not combined, she had spaghetti and I had an egg salad sandwich) and chatted. It’s a long story as to how we got on the following subject, so just go with it.
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Sister Arnold said, “Yes, sometimes I can be a dominant person.”  I scoffed and said sarcastically, “Oh, really?”  We both laughed and then she said, more seriously, “Yeah, well, whenever someone’s shorter than me, I have a problem.”
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And then we sat in an awkward silence in which we realized… I am shorter than her. Then we had a good, hearty laugh. I’m really going to miss her.
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In other news, we had a baptism this last weekend! It was such a sweet experience. I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and couldn’t make it two sentences in without crying. Emotions were high because I knew I was leaving and hadn’t been able to tell them yet. So, I just accepted it and cried my way through the talk. The whole thing was so wonderful. Sister Arnold and I sang a duet of “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” and “When I am Baptized.” It was really amazing to be involved with that family and “Ryan,” as I called him last blog post. He’s the sweetest.
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Well, I’m signing off for now. I’ll be back next week with more adventures to report!
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Love and rice and beans,
Sister Hansen
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P.S. At the VC lately, I seem to be meeting a ton of people from Washington. It’s a sign! 🙂

Week 34. Hello from sunny St. George!

STOCK.sunshineMay 19, 2014.

Hello from sunny St. George!!

 

And I do mean sunny. It’s beginning to be just a little warm here. But everyone assures me that this is nothing. So comforting.

This last week has been full of so many wonderful things. We’ve had so many miracles and beautiful experiences.

Just about 2 weeks ago now, we received a text from our ward mission leader telling us of a new family staying with members of his ward.  They had attended sacrament meeting Sunday before and were ready to meet with missionaries. We didn’t have a whole lot of information on them, yet, so we really hadn’t been able to move too far forward on that. Then, last Tuesday, the new bishop came to one of our stake meetings to speak to us. He came with the express intention set up an appointment with us and that family. By the end of the night, we had an appointment set up.  When Thursday came, he and his wife picked us up and drove us to the neighborhood to meet this new family. We entered their home–a new apartment with not much furniture yet – and immediately knew there was a good feeling there.

The children speak English fluently, but the mother is much more comfortable with Samoan. It was so marvelous to have the bishop there to translate for us. We introduced the Restoration and stated our purpose and expressed love. As we were ending our visit, the mother began to speak. She spoke for several minutes, gesturing to us, the bishop, and then motioning to her heart. She was growing teary and I kept hearing the word, “fiafia,” which means, “happy.” I thank Sister Leota for teaching me that last winter!  When she finished what she was saying, the bishop translated for us. She had expressed how happy she had felt being welcomed into their ward; how happy and touched she was that we had stopped by to teach her; how happy she felt (feeling the Spirit, I added, in my own mind); how happy the gospel and church make her, even though she’s still relatively new to all of it.

It was so touching. As she had been speaking, I couldn’t help but have tears come to my own eyes, even though I did not understand the words she was saying. I’ve seen this before at the Visitors’ Center, when the Christus has played in other languages. The spirit has no language barriers. It’s the most marvelous, universal thing: the love of our Heavenly Father manifested through the power of the Holy Ghost. As we concluded our visit, I shared that my favorite word in Samoan is “olioli”, which means “joy.” And that that is how the gospel makes me feel: joyful. And then I shared my best Samoan phrase: “E moni le talalelei.” It means, “I know the church is true.” What a beautiful Spirit filled that home that day. We look forward to seeing them again. They are so prepared, so loving, and that ward is incredible. I am so grateful to have been able to feel of the amazing faith and goodness that surrounds the Samoan culture, the members of that ward, and this wonderful family. Whoever gets to teach them, whether it be myself, or someone else, will be so lucky. But isn’t that true of every single investigator? We are so lucky to have the chance to know them, feel our Heavenly Father’s love for them, and invite them to come back “home.”

We have a baptism coming up this weekend! We are so excited. He’s 9 years old, and just about the most amazing 9 year old ever. He has such a good spirit about him. He’s so smart, he’s so good, and he is so dedicated to always trying to choose the right. He’s going places, I’ll tell you what, and it has been such a privilege to teach him AND learn from him. We’re super excited for his baptism. Sister Arnold and I are going to sing, too, so everyone send good thoughts our way on Saturday afternoon. I’ll need all the help I can get. haha

In other news, I wanted to share a Visitors’ Center miracle! About a week ago now, a man walked into the center with his sister. She’s a member of the church, and is actually serving a service mission here in town. Their story is incredible. They had been separated for about 25 years, not knowing where each other was. They were miraculously reunited recently, and since he has been having some struggles, he has come to stay with her. She had given him a Book of Mormon and had been introducing him to the church. They came to help him learn a little more. I was lucky enough to be standing there at the front to greet them with another sister. She and I gave them a brief tour and taught the basics of the message of the Restoration of the gospel. We showed him a beautiful painting of Joseph Smith’s first vision as we related to him the story of that beautiful turning point in our Heavenly Father’s plan. We then listened to the Christus message with him and spoke of Christ’s love for him. He was very overwhelmed, but open and we knew that he was feeling the truth of what we were teaching.

St. George Temple Visitors' Center Christus

The Christus Statue at the St. George Temple Visitors’ Center

He was willing to stay in contact with us and learn more. He gave us a phone number, address, and email address, and we promised to call soon to help him with the Book of Mormon and help him have those feelings of peace again.

Just 2 days later, and before I had had the chance to call him, he came back to the Visitors’ Center and talked with two other sisters. They got his information again and gave it to the Elders who cover his ward boundaries so they could meet him. Just two days after that, he returned yet again. This time, I got to speak with him again in person. Sister Arnold was with me this time and we shared a few scripture with him, discussed the Atonement, and he expressed to us that he kept coming to the Visitors’ Center to find answers. We testified that the answers he was looking for were available there, and also in the scriptures, and most importantly in his prayers and conversations with his Heavenly Father. After speaking for a while longer, teaching and discussing, and trying to understand what he needed, we spoke about baptism. To make this long story short (too late), we invited him to be baptized! He accepted and scheduled his goal date for the beginning of June.

The elders that are teaching him called me a few days later to basically… get the story. It’s not that often that you pick up a new investigator who is already scheduled for baptism. But that’s the miracle of the Visitors’ Center! We have the chance to help them have their first experience with and understanding of the gospel, and then we get to help them connect with their missionaries, take this journey of building faith and making changes, and come closer to their Savior. It can all begin with us in the Visitors’ Center. It’s such a beautiful place. And this is not the only story of its kind. Things like this happen more often than you think in the VC! I’m so thankful for my calling!

Also, I wanted to share this video about Family History. I have really grown to love it more and more on my mission. When I get home, I plan on doing as much Family History as possible. It’s amazing! This is a beautiful video about the beautiful stories that make up the heritage to which we all owe our very existence. I hope you enjoy discovering your family as you feel inspired by this video. You are special. Your family is special. Your heritage and legacy are special. Check it out!  Click here:  Everyone has a history.  What’s yours?

Discover Your Family History.  Discover YOUR Story!

Discover Your Family History. Discover YOUR Story!

I wish you all a beautiful conclusion of the month of May! I’ll have much to report next week, with the new transfer assignments coming this weekend. I look forward to announcing the big changes! Or maybe no changes at all! It’s just a big question mark right now! That’s the most exciting bit, isn’t it?

Well, I must sign off now. I’m so grateful for all of you. I hope you really know that. You’re all incredible. You’ve shaped me into who I am today. I’m here because of you. Thank you.  I love you. More than there are words.

Much love and rice and beans,

Sister Hansen