40. Love–the Essence of the Gospel

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Happy July, everyone!
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Greetings from sunny (sweltering) St. George! It’s great to be blogging again and I hope that all is well on the homefront (or the wherever front, since not all of you are at my home… but I guess you all have homes, so I hope all is well on everybody’s homefront…anyway…).
The Utah St. George Mission takes in most of the southern part of the state, including the centrally located Nephi.  The southern boundary is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The Utah St. George Mission takes in most of the southern part of the state, including the centrally located city of Nephi. The southern boundary of the mission is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in neighboring Arizona.

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This has been a crazy month. Not July. It’s only been one day in July (although that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t already be a crazy month). But June, June was a crazy month. It seems like I often come to a point on my mission where I feel like I have it all figured out, I take a deep breath, and then Heavenly Father reminds me that… that just isn’t true. And then I have it all turned upside down again and I get to keep learning! It’s great!
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Well, this month was like that. This whole transfer, actually. And we are at the end of it now. Next week I’ll have news to report on the possible changes ahead. I could stay another few months in Washington, I could head up to Price or Moab or Manti or Nephi or… the possibilities are endless!
Who knows?  It will be exciting.
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We had Stake Conference this last weekend and it was amazing. I felt like so many of my prayers and concerns were answered and addressed. So many wonderful things were spoken of and I had the chance to be humbled, as well as buoyed-up, by quite a bit of it. One thing in particular that touched me was that they had a special musical number (a group of youth playing violin, cello, flute, piano, etc.) of one of my favorite hymns:  Each Life that Touches Ours for Good.
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Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.
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What greater gift doest thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
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When such a friend from us departs
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.
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For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior’s name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.
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This hymn has been sung for at least two of our family funerals, that I can remember. It has such a deep and beautiful message: that one of the ways the Lord shows His mercy and love is through the love and association that we have with one another. The words are poignant and piercing, especially when those hymns have been sung at the parting of a family member or friend, reminding us of the joy we are afforded as we remember the beauty of a friendship, of a life, and the bittersweet (and importantly: temporary) separation that comes with death.

In light of my current calling and purpose, I am called to contemplate another meaning that this hymn carries: the importance of being a Christ-like friend.
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A sister that I serve with at the Visitors’ Center pointed out a quote to me that I’d like to share with you. It so perfectly outlines and pinpoints why love is the most important component in any aspect of the Lord’s work. His love is perfect and infinite. We have to work with and through it.
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“The process of conversion is the process of remembering. We all came here with a knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – it is locked away in our spirit. The role of the missionary is to love the people enough to allow them to respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost that will open that which is locked away.” (Attributed to Elder Kevin Pearson)
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This is the love that heals wounds, saves lives, lifts burdens, opens minds, comforts hearts, and so much more. It is the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and it is the enabling power of the Atonement.
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President Thomas S. Monson recently spoke about love in the April General Conference, in a talk entitled Love–the Essence of the Gospel.   He said,
“Love is expressed in many recognizable ways: a smile, a wave, a kind comment, a compliment.  Other expressions may be more subtle, such as showing interest in another’s activities, teaching a principle with kindness and patience, visiting one who is ill or homebound.  These words and actions and many others can communicate love.”
He continued on, imploring,
“May we begin now, this very day, to express love to all of god’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total stranger.  As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”
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I would leave you with the same. The value of “Christlike friends,” as mentioned in that beautiful hymn text is truly greater than comprehension. It is eternal; a treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). How have you seen this in your circle of friends or family? How have you been this?
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Missionary work is these little things that add up to big things. Being friendly, being sincere, being concerned, being loving. These are things that we can all do.
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So, it’s the beginning of a new month. So many things to be grateful. So many opportunities ahead of us to show love to all around us. How will you do it this week? Whether it be through some small smile or gesture to your fellow travelers on the road, or taking a plate of cookies to a neighbor, or visiting or home teaching, or listening to a friend. I don’t know. You’re all creative. Think of something!
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Wow, I’m very sorry this is so long. Hopefully at least a sentence or two were meaningful. If not, well, we’ll try again next week.
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I’m finding that so much is happening and I’m not having a chance to report or even touch on all of it, so I’m going to start doing weekly highlights! Installment one to be found below:
Highlights from this week:

  • We got to listen to a player piano at a dinner appointment. It made me think of Mom and it made me want to have one! They’re so fun! #Summermagic
  • I met the Mayor of Washington. A story for another time. It was at his house that we met the player piano player.  #MusicMan
  • “Prayer works.” Wise words from a recent convert in our area.
  • “Faith is for real.” Wise words from the previous recent convert’s wife, who also was recently baptized.

This may seem random, but I want to share a conference talk with you. Whether you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not, this is a beautiful talk about belief in and coming to know God. I highly recommend it. It is called, “Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ,” by Elder Robert D. Hales.  Click on the title for a link to watch the talk.

Well, I love you all. I hope that you all know and feel that. Thank you for everything.

Much love,
Sister Hansen

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One thought on “40. Love–the Essence of the Gospel

  1. I don’t know if you get to read comments on your blog posts or how this works for you. But I couldn’t help but remember when we discovered it was Dr. Adam’s birthday and we bought cupcakes for the whole bassoon studio and a ton of strawberries and had a little birthday celebration! I love you! you are so fun and full of joy. what an inspiration to us all 😀 – Caitlin

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