65. This is for the birds!

February 23, 2015Bird_in_Snow

Hello all!!

This morning, first of all… it snowed! We have been having balmy 60s and 70s – jacket weather, you know. ¬†And now… snow! I was tickled! I almost broke out the Christmas music and hot chocolate, but I didn’t. ūüôā I was tempted, though!
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Later in the morning, our mission president’s wife, Sister Center, texted us with a beautiful scripture and some kind words. The scripture was Moroni 8:3:
“I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end.”
She commented on the phrase “through the endurance of faith on [His] name,” saying that that is what we do–endure in faith. It meant a lot for her to send this sweet message. It seems like this has been a big lesson that I have been learning lately: endurance, faith, and patience. And how they go together. It seems that if you have faith, you have to also have patience, and vice versa. Without patience, faith grows weak, and without faith, patience feels wasted. It’s a beautiful connection. The Christ-like attributes are all linked together. And they are all catalyzed by gratitude. The Lord continually teaches me how important it is to rely on Him and how to do it. How grateful I am, because it must never be forgotten.This is going to be a short blog. But I do want to include a couple of¬†funny stories:
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Funny story #1:
So, Sister Archambault and I have been friends for a long time. We’ve served around each other in the Visitors’ Center since the beginning of her mission and have had lots of adventures together. Most of our adventures have involved breaking things. Never badly or beyond repair, but we seem to have some kind of knack. While together, the button/pushy-thingy on the water fountain in the Visitors’ Center broke off. We put it back, though, don’t worry. Good as new. Well, just the other day while at home planning, I went to grab something out of the freezer and the handle fell off. We lost it, because of the situational irony. Oh, it is really the little things, is it not? ūüôā
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Funny story #2:
Sister Archambault hates birds. Melanie Castro, if you are reading this, I think you two would really get along. ūüėČ Anyway, she hates birds. Let me just emphasize¬†that. The other night we went to visit the senior couple missionaries that serve in our stake and as we approached their door, a bird flew out suddenly from the doorway and scared us both. She had just about recovered from her shock, when a bit later we were inside another¬†house and to teach a lesson, and¬†we were greeted by yet another bird. This one was a¬†pet of the family we were visiting. During the course of our lesson, one of the kids in the family felt a need to retrieve the pet bird and bring it to the living room where we were all sitting. And – to throw it into the air. It was TERRIFYING! ¬†I understand bird phobias now. The bird flew right as us and I instinctively raised my hands in self-defense! Luckily, the lesson went well, the Spirit was felt, and no one was harmed or too badly spooked by any fowl. Or, you know, birds. ūüôā
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Good times.
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This is the life. ūüôā
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I love you all so much. I couldn’t think of a single thing I would rather be doing with my life right now than being right where I am. Thank you for loving and supporting me and for all of your faith! Stay strong and know you are loved!
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Much love and rice and beans,
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Sister Hansen
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64. Try change

kanab-utah
February 17, 2015
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Dear Friends and Family,
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I am sitting in the Kanab City Library, typing… ¬†Yes. Kanab. ¬†We are on exchanges right now and it happens to be the day that we had to email, so I get to do it in Kanab!

I never thought I would be back here emailing. Being back in old areas is surreal and a privilege, actually. You get to go places you never thought you would return to see.

This last week was a whirlwind! ¬†But what week isn’t?

We had a baptism on Saturday! And just that same day, a sister that I taught here in Kanab went through the temple for the first time! It was a gorgeous day, sunny, and a little chilly (the wind especially, as we rode our bikes from our apartment to the church for the baptism). But it was the most beautiful weather for such a day.

In my study of the Book of Mormon, I came across the story of Alma, one of the greatest Book of Mormon missionaries, and Amulek. I learned something significant from Alma today as I read.

Alma was traveling and preaching the word of God everywhere he went. He was pretty successful, too. Most places received him well and he was able to do a lot of good. But then he came to the city of Ammonihah. He was not received well and the people were not willing to listen and even threatened his life. So he got right out of there. As he was leaving the city and feeling very sorrowful because of the blessings and joy the people were missing out on, an angel visited him and commanded him to go back. Diligently and obediently, Alma turned back. But this is what impresses me most: when Alma was commanded to return to the less than receptive Ammonihah, he “entered the city by another way” (Alma 8:18). He didn’t try the same old thing expecting a different result. He tried something new.
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How often do we encounter a problem and try to fix it with the same old things? Sometimes, I grant you, the tried and true, time tested and proven methods are¬†the go-to-solutions and will work like a charm every time. But when we have tried and tried and have had no success or peace, it may just be time to try something different. I’ve heard the definition of insanity put like this: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
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In a meeting I went to last week, our mission president shared a story about a company that decided to try an experiment. One day they changed out all of the incandescent light-bulbs for florescent bulbs. What do you suppose happened? Productivity rose! After a period of time, they switched the light-bulbs back to incandescent. What happened then? Well, productivity rose again! It was the CHANGE that brought an increase and an improvement.
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Who knows why I needed to share this today… I know that Sister Archambault and I are trying to do new things because we are seeking to be more successful¬†and, as she keeps putting it beautifully, “blessing more lives.” So we are switching around our light-bulbs.
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You know, Sister Archambault is amazing. And very patient. I’ve been on a real roller-coaster and she has been a steady pillar and unwavering friend. She is putting up with a lot from me and I am so grateful for her. I know the Lord places people in our lives at the right time and in the right way so that we can grow. That’s why we really have to “trust in the Lord with all [our hearts]; and lean not unto [our own] understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Just as we read in Isaiah 55:8-9:
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8 “For my thoughts¬†are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9¬†For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways¬†higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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His ways are higher. He knows what we need to do. Try doing them His way. Trust Him. And trust me, I need to try this as much as the next person. So we’ll work on it together. ūüôā

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Have a beautiful week. Trust the Lord! See miracles!
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Much love,
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Sister Hansen
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2015.2.17.Liu.AGH.02413

With Sister Liu

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With Sister Schaeffer

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With Sister Schneider

63. We are what is in our hearts.

February 9, 2015Tree of life heart
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Dear Friends and Family and Associates¬†of¬†all other kinds…
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As I sat down and opened my emails today, I found a message from a friend that I met at the Vistiors’ Center. She shared a story with me that I wanted to relate to you.
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She said:
“I want to share something really cool with you that I learned in an Institute of Religion class.¬† We were talking a lot about desires. We’re reading the war chapters [in the Book of Mormon] and getting a lot of lessons out of them. ¬†A girl spoke up and she said that an MTC leader told her this while she worked there.¬† She was frustrated because some of her lessons were really powerful and then some just weren’t.¬† She didn’t know what she was doing wrong so she went to ask her supervisor.¬† He asked her why she thought some lessons that went so well? She said, “Because I know they’re true. I’ve lived them and I have had personal experience with them.” ¬†He asked her why the other lessons weren’t like that.¬† She didn’t really have a good answer. ¬†And he replied:
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“‘We teach who we are.¬† We teach what is written on our hearts.¬† It’s not just our behaviors that need to be in line, but it’s our desires.¬† And everything needs to be below God.’ ¬†So then she did that, and was amazed at the progress she was making! She was so happy and learning so much, and about a month later, she saw him and said, “Oh, thank you so much. ¬†My whole life has changed!” He said, “But be watchful, because He will test us to see if we really want Him. He will let us see if we want anything else above Him. He will test our desires.” And then I guess just a little bit later, there was a really hard trial in her life to see if she really would put God first.”
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Her message and story about a lesson on desires came at a perfect time. ¬†I’ve had this thing with studying “desires” for quite a while now on my mission. It started when a bishop gave a spiritual thought about it in a ward council. He talked about what we learn about desires from Nephi’s account of the vision his father saw in 1 Nephi. Nephi has desires to know the mysteries of God, etc. and the angel keeps asking, “What desirest thou?” In 1 Nephi 13:8, we read about the desires of the “great and abominable church.” I’m reading in Alma right now about how the pride cycle was actually started by the desires of the people. In Alma 4:6-8, it begins because they set their hearts upon riches. Their hearts determined their desires and where there heart was, there was their treasure also. But in Alma¬†1:30, there was no pride because their hearts WEREN’T set upon riches. This is sort of like stream of consciousness blogging. ¬†I hope it makes sense.
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david-a-bednar-largeBut anyway, this quote from Elder Bednar sort of drives it home. He said, “Thus, our hearts–the sum total of our desires, affections, intentions, motives, and attitudes–define who we are and determine what we will become.” A¬†wise young woman I met on my mission once said, “[The Adversary] goes after our hearts because our hearts determine our desires, and our desires determine our actions.”
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So we are what is in our hearts. It’s akin to “we are what we eat,” I suppose, but a little deeper. Ok, jokes aside, I love this. What is in our hearts will determine who we are and what the Lord is able to do through us. Freedom can come from knowing that your heart is in the right place, not that you¬†are always perfect. Our desires will determine what we do and who we are and that is the greatest freedom–knowing that our desires are aligned with God’s. And that can begin through prayer and through seeking the Lord in your life.
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A brief update before I close: DSC01814-2
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I am staying and finishing my mission in the Washington Fields Stake. It is surreal to think that this is my last area and my last weeks and my last everything else. My¬†last¬†companion is Sister Archambault. She is from Manitoba, Canada. We’ve been friends our whole missions and never guessed we’d be able to be companions! We’re having a blast and seeing miracles. She pushes me to be better than I’ve ever been and hopefully I’m not ruining her. So it works.
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We rode bikes for the first time on my mission this last week. That was always a dream of mine! And it has come true! Weird dream, but hey. Pictures to come… maybe. ūüôā
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In just the month of February, we are looking forward to two baptisms, a sister I taught in a previous area going to the temple for the first time, and many more miracles, laughter, tears, and greatness.
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I am sad/happy/confused to think that I am in my last transfer. I have 5 weeks left and it is craziness. My mission has been so full of exactly what I know the Lord needed me to do, experience, understand, etc. And I am so grateful. It has definitely changed my heart.
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I love you all so much! I hope you have fabulous weeks, a fabulous February, and see the hand of the Lord in your life DAILY.
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Much love and rice and beans,
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Sister Hansen

62. Time is Flying By

January 20, 2015

Hello friends and family and everyone in between!

Oh, I love you all. I am so sorry I haven’t written in a little while. There has been so much going on. So many good things and I don’t even know where to begin.
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Time is flying by. At the beginning of my mission, missionaries that were “old” in the mission, or so we call it, always said that this is true, that it gets faster near the end. But now I am the “old” one, and am here to tell you… it’s the truth.
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This last week has been emotional in so many ways. We said goodbye to the Visitors’ Center directors, the Watkins, ¬†and welcomed the new directors, the Cleverlys! I’m so happy to have the chance to get to know the Cleverlys, even for a short time. They’re already wonderful! And I am so grateful for the way that we bid the Watkins farewell. We had a testimony meeting for our last Thursday morning training and it was so full of love, the spirit, and gratitude. It was beautiful. And it reminded me of how grateful I am for those whose lives I have touched and whose lives have touched mine. Elder Watkins spoke to us about “pure testimony” and bearing testimony of what we really “know.” I came to the conclusion and was able to bear absolute testimony that I know that strength is born of adversity. I know this.
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One of my very favorite scriptures is in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Pauls says,
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9 My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
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Peter (the apostle) and Paul (who spoke here) have always been two of my favorite people because they are both prime examples of being made strong through weaknesses, mistakes, and regrets. Peter and Paul both made some big decisions and mistakes in their lives that they needed to repent of and change. And because of these changes, they became powerful instruments in the hands of God and they came to really know Christ. They are two of my scriptural best friends. They have both taught me to “take pleasure in infirmities.” Well, sort of. I cannot lie and say I am always pleased when I discover my weaknesses. But they have taught me to have that perspective and that has given me hope.
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So I am making mistakes daily. I am struggling right now with many things. But I am also doing great because I am constantly reminding myself that I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).
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My father recently reminded me of something. We all accepted the plan of happiness that God presented. That’s why we’re all here on earth right now. We accepted it with all its glory, trials, happiness, joy, and everything in between. In a lesson we had a week or so ago, we were speaking with a woman about this. She said, “I’m not sure I signed up for this!” And I had a brilliant thought! (The Spirit told me, ok? I’m not calling myself brilliant). I said, “You know, I don’t think we signed up for the bumps and bruises along the way. We signed up for the end result, and knew that the bumps and bruises were part of the deal. Just like a piece of marble maybe doesn’t sign up for the chiseling, the hammering, the scraping, and the what-have-you; it signs up to be a beautiful sculpture that the sculptor will value above all else. That’s what we did. We signed up to be made into what our Heavenly Father knows we can be. The scrapes along the way are part of that.”
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I am reminded daily that the struggles we face are intended to shape us. We are here in this life to become all that we can be. ¬†Here’s another metaphor: That is going to take some refiner’s fire. That’s one of my favorite stories/principles/thoughts from the scriptures. We are like gold. No, we are MORE PRECIOUS than gold to our Heavenly Father. In 1 Peter 1:7-9, we are assured,
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7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

In metal refinery, there is a lot of fire and a long process of getting rid of the imperfections. One of my favorite hymns, How Firm a Foundation, illustrates this in its fifth verse: (Thank you Mindy Davis for giving me the opportunity to love, memorize, and learn from this hymn.)
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When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The “dross” or the imperfections in metal is only gotten rid of when there is intense heat, and all kinds of other stuff that probably doesn’t feel great. And the refiner doesn’t stop the heat or dross removal until a very special thing happens… He can see His reflection in the metal.
So, then, we learn that when we are in the midst of a “fiery trial,” what is really happening is the Lord is refining, shaping, and looking for His image in us.

And last but not least among my favorite metaphors, a favorite quote from C.S. Lewis:
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‚ÄúImagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. (from Mere Christianity)‚ÄĚ

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Again, I can testify that strength is born of adversity. Please, in whatever you are wading through right now, trust in the Lord and see in this trial that chance to grow, to become more like Him, and to be strengthened. He sees all you can be. Let Him get you there.
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I love you all,
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Sister Hansen