55. Twenty-two.

November 18, 2014

Hello everyone!

This past week has been full. White-washing (when both missionary companions are new to an area at the same time) is proving to be an incredible experience. We have had many miracles and many signs that this area is just where we need to be.
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I knew it would be a good transfer when, in the first few moments of being companions, we received a message with the name of someone that we needed to visit. And then the next day another. It seemed that this week was full of situations that you only hear stories about but never think would happen to you.
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We contacted both of those referrals and one became a new investigator. That one was a media referral (a person who requested information about the church through some kind of media – like a mormon.org chatroom).  I have not seen many media referrals actually yield positive results, so I count that as a miracle. And then a few days later we had a lesson with a potential investigator, someone the previous missionaries met before we came, and he became a new investigator. It was one of those situations where we arrived and in the course of our visit, he shared with us that he had been praying for something and then the missionaries showed up. An incredible experience that testifies that we are truly instruments in the hands of God:  His son cries out to Him and so He sends us. What an honor! In our first 4 days we had found 2 new investigators, and they were both miracle situations. Well, every single one is, is it not?
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We also have the opportunity to work with a stay-at-home senior missionary couple. They are incredible, on fire, and wonderful to be around. And they help us more than we could ever express. The work is hastening in the Washington East Stake and it is exciting.
Screenshot 2014-11-26 00.35.44Screenshot 2014-11-25 22.56.00
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Our area is enormous. We cover 10 congregations and it is way spread out. We reach all the way from the eastern edge of Washington City almost to Hurricane (pronounced Her-a-kun). Click here for > Google maps, if that means nothing to you. 🙂 It’s a challenge to use our time effectively and not let it be wasted in travel time, but that is a familiar challenge that I faced in my time in Kanab. Oh, Kanab…
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I am so grateful for this transfer. I am grateful for my companion, my district leader, my zone leaders, my STLs, my investigators, the members, the incredible senior couple we serve with, the Visitors’ Center, our car, the holiday spirit that softens hearts and opens doors just a little more easily, and the blessings that would never have otherwise been a part of my life had I not chosen to serve.
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I’ve been in a grateful attitude because at the Visitors’ Center, we are embracing the Thanksgiving season in a cool way. In one of the hallways in the VC, we have a “Gratitude Tree.” Visitors can write what they are grateful for on a leaf and then tape it to the tree in the hall. The tree is already full of leaves — yellow, orange, green, purple, brown… and they are now “falling” to the ground, too. I’ll send a picture next week!
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And . . . yes, yesterday was my birthday. And oh my goodness, it was a beautiful day. It was so much better than I deserved. First my companion made me breakfast, then we had a great lesson that morning and met some wonderful people. We had a delicious lunch, I received a package from home, and way too many wonderful people were too kind to me. Thank you, everyone, for making my birthday special. I have no idea how I will be able to repay and show enough thanks. But I am starting this way:
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For the next year of my life, I am going on an adventure. Every 22 days, I will do a 22 day-long project. This first 22 days, I am going to write a note of gratitude to someone every day and accompany that by having an exclusively-give-thanks prayer every single day. Having only done this one day, I can already feel a difference in my attitude. I recognize my blessings more quickly. I respond to challenges, set backs, and frustrations more calmly. I feel loved and feel more easily able to love.
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Can I challenge you to do the same? And maybe just for a week instead of 22 days: every day have an exclusively gratitude prayer. Ask for absolutely nothing. Just thank the Lord for what you have. (Don’t worry about the thank-you notes… just pray :D). I can promise you that you will see a great change in your week as you do this. And it can be simple!
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A great video I would like to share:  (Click on the image to watch it.)
Screenshot 2014-11-25 23.06.45
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FYI: The first leaf I placed on the Gratitude Tree read: “Macaroni and cheese.” I’m grateful for that. 🙂 With extra cheese . . . yes.
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I love you all. I wish you all the best and even more. Happy November!
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Much love and rice and beans,
Sister Hansen

54. Changes ahead

WashingtonFields

November 11, 2014

Greetings and Happy November!

Games are afoot and changes are ahead.

Okay, so no games, but yes to the changes. Sister Harper and I will say goodbye this evening and I will head to the Washington East Stake with a new companion: Sister Jaramillo! She is from Columbia. We have known each other for a while, serving together in the Visitors’ Center. And here’s the most interesting part. Neither of us have served there before, so we are “white-washing,” or completely starting fresh in an area with no prior knowledge. It should be quite the adventure/challenge. I’m excited and nervous at the same time.

In anticipation of this upcoming transfer (beginning today, actually), I am all kinds of everything. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m mostly just ready to rise to the occasion. “White-washing,” should be an awfully great adventure.

I look back on my time in Bloomington Hills and I know that I did a lot of good. But I also wonder if I did enough. This is not a new thought for me. I have thought this of different areas and companionships. My mind is drawn to a thought that was shared with my zone by a few of the sisters after our Zone Conference a few months ago with Elder Clark. We all came away feeling like we had failed in some aspects and had a lot to live up to in others. They quoted Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, with a little bit of paraphrasing: “Now, you may be thinking to yourself [after listening to Elder Clark], ‘I already blew it. My four minutes are already a disaster. I may as well give up.’ If so, stop thinking that, and never think it again. The miracle of the Atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance.”

I needed that and I need it now and I will ever need it in moments of doubt and discouragement. I once had a conversation with another sister I served with at the Visitors’ Center, a discussion about the Atonement, where we concluded that the Atonement is not just for sin, mistakes, and so forth: it is for moments when we forget who we are; when we forget Him; when we are not enough without Him: we can be all we need to be WITH Him.

I heard from another great friend from my mission this week. She spoke of her own endeavor to learn from what she has experienced and move forward. She said, “[The Savior] loves us. He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t tell us to feel guilty. Or take a month of punishment or whatever. He tells us: Get up! Look forward. Learn. Change your behavior.”

As I write this out, I notice all of the different sisters I have mentioned. It causes me to reflect on one of the most beautiful blessings in my mission: my association with all of the incredible people that I am serving with. What a blessing it has been, and will continue to be, to be around so many marvelous disciples and friends; to learn from them; to grieve and rejoice and labor with them. I am forever in debt.

I testify that the power of the Atonement allows doubt, discouragement, disappointment, and despair to be dissipated, eliminated, and replaced with joy, hope, love, and determination. I testify that it transforms lives, if we will let it, and that we can, indeed, “do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13).

And so I look forward, now, with excitement and determination to bring to the Washington East stake all the love, effort, and labor I have in me.

So, an invitation for you: stop looking back. Move forward and let each step towards the sun (or the Son) cast shadows of doubt and discouragement BEHIND you. Know that you are enough, right now, and just need to press forward with a determination to be a little better today than you were yesterday (to paraphrase Maya Angelou). Check out the videos below. And know that you are loved, valued, and have the power to do more than you think you can.

I really love you all. I really do. Please, please know this. 🙂

And, also, Happy Thanksgiving just around the corner! What are you grateful for?

Much love and rice and beans and all best wishes for each of you,
Sister Hansen

P.S. Mormon Messages of the week:

Look Not Behind Thee (click on the photo)
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You Never Know (click on the photo)

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Hymn of the week: #124 Be Still My Soul/I Love the Lord

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53. Have you studied the scriptures today?

November 5, 2014

Dear friends and family,

This is the last week of the six-week transfer period. Time is FLYING. This is craziness. Next time I write I will have transfer news.

STOCK.Book_of_Mormon_translationsAt the Visitors’ Center we have a Book of Mormon table. It displays 77 copies of the Book of Mormon in various languages. One of them is Welsh. Little known fact about me, it is a dream of mine to learn Welsh. I just think it is fascinating!  So anyway, about a week ago I greeted a man in the Visitors’ Center. Upon asking where he is from, I learned he is from…Wales!  I got really excited and told him about my desire to learn Welsh. He proceeded to teach me, with the help of his wife, the Welsh alphabet. They wrote it down for me. I promised them that I would report to them on improvement in my Welsh language skills and they said they would let me know how their Book of Mormon reading is going. I think it was a good deal. Win-win for everyone involved. Spiritually and intellectually and culturally. He also said that I should look them up if I’m ever in Wales. I think that sounds like a plan. 🙂

Last week as we were walking around part of our area, a car drove by us towards the high school up ahead. Someone shouted out the window, “The church is true!” as they sped by. It was delightful. 🙂 Wave to the missionaries!  Tell them hello!  You’ll brighten their day!!

This morning as I was studying, I came across something I would like to share with you. It is in Jacob 7 in the Book of Mormon.

Jacob says, in verse 23,

23 And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures…

What struck me was that when the “love of God” was restored, people searched the scriptures! Scripture study, therefore, is a way of demonstrating our love of God.

Then verse 25 expanded this for me. Just after talking about searching the scriptures, Jacob mentions and explains that they are still experiencing animosity (to put it lightly) from the Lamanites, and they constantly have to defend themselves.

 25 Wherefore, the people of Nephi did fortify against them with their arms, and with all their might,  trusting in the God and rock of their salvation; wherefore, they became as yet, conquerors of their enemies.

I love this! Because of their love of God they searched the scriptures…  And here’s where I take and apply their need to defend to scripture study. Loving God leads us to study the scriptures. Studying the scriptures allows us to trust God and “arm” ourselves with truth and thereby become “conquerors of [our] enemies.”  This is spiritual, physical, literal, and emotional enemies. Feast upon the words of Christ, and they shall tell you all things what ye should do, and they will allow you to be able to withstand, defend, and conquer any enemy.

Have you studied the scriptures today?

I love you all so much!!

Much love and rice and beans,

Sister Hansen

52. Supremely happy

© Antonio Neyra 2009October 28, 2014

Dear Friends and Family and all the other spectacular people in my life who don’t fall under those categories, but if you’re reading this then you do, so really I could have just said ‘Dear Friends and Family,’ but it’s too late now!

How are things?

Friends, I know that Heavenly Father REALLY loves His children. I am privileged to witness this every single day. This week has been full of greatness. Also a lot of struggles. But so many beautiful, small, and poignant moments and miracles. I’d love to share one from yesterday:

St. George Temple Visitors' Center Christus

St. George Temple Visitors’ Center Christus

Two days ago, a young lady walked into the Visitors’ Center. I greeted her, asking, “How are you doing today?” She continued to walk straight past me, saying, “Good.”

I turned to the sister that was standing with me and said, “She’s not good. Something’s not ok.” But before I could remark more or do anything about it, I was distracted by something else and she was gone. I went on with the rest of the evening, and nearly forgot about this young woman until a few hours later when I saw her again.

I was sitting at the front of the Visitors’ Center and as I glanced down the hallway in front of me, I saw her standing in the hall, looking toward me with a striking look on her face. I couldn’t tell from far away, but she looked distressed and hurt. I knew I needed to talk to her.

I walked to the theater into which she had just disappeared and was surprised to find that no one was there. I searched the center, and even employed the help of another sister who had seen her. No luck. I felt so unsettled about it. I knew she needed to be spoken to, and I knew that I needed to find her. But she was gone. I said a prayer. I asked Heavenly Father to please, please bring her back if He needed me to speak with her. The evening went on and came to a close.  She still never appeared.

The following day, I hadn’t thought of this girl until about 20 minutes to closing, almost 9 o’clock. My companion and I were sitting in the back of the Visitors’ Center when a young lady walked through the doors. And… it was the same girl! I was shocked and pleased and grateful and knew that I needed to speak with her. Miracle #1 in this story, my prayer was answered!

I greeted her again with that same question. “Hi, how are you doing today?” She answered with that same response, “Good.” And I knew, once again, that wasn’t the whole story. I introduced myself and then learned her name. Lo and behold, she is from a family in an area where I have served! I know her family! That broke the ice quicker than anything else. Miracle #2!

Sister Harper and I brought her to the Christus statue and sat. We talked for a second about school, life, etc. and then I asked a question. I can’t remember what it was. But she looked intently up at the Christus and began to cry. I scooted closer to her and offered a hug. She accepted and we just sat there for a moment while she cried.

We visited until the Visitors’ Center closed, talking about finding answers, finding peace, happiness, trusting God, and strength. She’s incredible. It was such a beautiful thing, guided completely by the Spirit.

I went home that night feeling so grateful. So grateful. Heavenly Father loves her so much. He loves me. He brought her back, answering my prayer, and allowed us to lift her in a way she needed to be lifted in that moment. Such a beautiful miracle.

I love you all. Be safe this week. Be happy this week. Be supremely happy (see the article below).

Much love and rice and beans,
Sister Hansen

P.S.: Article/Talk of the week:  [Click on the photo]

The Surprising Science Behind “Supremely Happy” People

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51.5 Happy Halloween

October 28, 2014

I reported a few weeks ago about Sister Harper’s love of the Halloween decorations. I’d love to tell you this week how I feel about them. Meh.

To illustrate this point, allow me to tell a short story. There’s a home that we’ve been visiting whose family is…passionate about Halloween. They’ve set out life size manikins of varying degrees of terrifying on their front porch and walkway. We were approaching the house a few weeks ago to visit this family.  It was evening time, right around dusk, and I couldn’t bring myself to walk past them. Sister Harper bravely went ahead of me and after they had answered the door and said that it wasn’t a good time to talk with us, she good humored-ly explained why I wasn’t next to her by saying, “My companion is admiring your decorations.” The epitome of smooth. I am so grateful for her.

And….we carved pumpkins a few weeks ago! It was Sister Harper’s first pumpkin carving experience and she was tickled! And she did a fabulous job! Hers is the cute short one (in the picture) second from the right. She free handed that! Can you say talented? 🙂 Mine is the one to the left of hers. The happy gentleman that she named “Brian.” Her pumpkin’s name is Sabrina Felicity, but she goes by Felicity. Why not be creative? It was fun, for sure.

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Happy Halloween! Be safe, everyone!

L-R: Sister Schneider (Germany), Sister Riemer (Tahiti), Sister Farnsworth (St. George), me, Sister Harper (Australia), and Elder Lee (Illinois).