It’s all gonna be ok.

Well, hi, everyone!

Last night, in the style and echo of an angsty, vague teenager, I posted an enigmatic status on facebook which read, “It’s all gonna be ok.” We very rarely hear the back story of such posts. There usually follows an uprising of comments and questions, “What’s going on?” “What will be ok?” “Are you ok?” “What’s up?” And so on. Well, just such one question came, from my mission president’s wife. And so I responded to her honestly in a private message and I wanted to share my response with you.

But, first of all, hi! How are you? It has been a few weeks since last I made a cyber appearance on this blog. Being home has been a whirlwind, to say the very least, and I don’t think I was even sure where to start. But several people have asked me to continue writing, and I’m glad. Because hopefully that means that everyone involved is in tune with the Spirit enough to be getting something meaningful from my ramblings. So hopefully that can continue for you, dear reader.

So, as for my statement about everything being ok, here was my response to my mission president’s wife:


I wanted to respond to your question about what is “going on.”

There is a long and a short answer:

The short is that everything is fine and nothing is wrong, it was just a general statement that everything will be ok.

Which is why the long answer isn’t that much different: Everything will always be ok because of the Savior.

I read a blog post last night written by a friend of mine that was a beautiful reminder of that. And it brought back a vivid memory of a companion exchange I had with [a dear friend on my mission] where she said the same thing at a time when I really needed to hear it. [She told me that she knew], because of Him, everything will always be ok.

I am doing quite well, I think. Everyone asks me if I am adjusting. I’m still not sure what that really means, so the answer may be no. But I am trying to maintain good habits, follow the Spirit in all things, and be a force for good. And still enjoy the things I have always enjoyed (reunited with Netflix, for instance, and books, and facebook, and daily practice on my bassoon).

So maybe I haven’t adjusted. I don’t know that I would really wish to, depending on your definition of “adjusted.” But I am happy.

I am, as it probably would not surprise you to learn, worried about a lot of things: school, career choices, life choices, etc. But the bottom line is, because of Jesus Christ, it is all going to always be ok.

So, maybe this was more of an answer than you bargained for, but there you go! It truly seems that not a day goes by that I do not think of a mission memory and either laugh or cry or both or grimace or something. But it is because of Christ, too, that I have these sweet memories and strengthened resolutions and sensibilities. And so even though I may not know what I am doing for school or where I will end up or what I want for breakfast today, I am at peace and truly know that it is going to be ok, because of Him, because it always is. Thanks for taking the time to wade through my musings with me. I love you! You are in my prayers and thoughts often.


And so, I share this with you, because the bottom line in all things really is that “It’s all gonna be ok.” There’s that old saying, “It will all be ok in the end, so if it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.” I think that’s true. But it’s truest when you have the Savior in your life. Why is it always going to be ok? Because the Savior knows exactly how you feel, 100% of the time, and always knows the perfect way to help you.

A passage in the Book of Mormon, in Alma 7:11-12 also teaches us how Christ will always know and understand. It teaches us, in all of its comforting splendor and eternally truthful glory,

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

In the most recent General Women’s Meeting session of the bi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Carole M. Stephens shared beautiful thoughts on the scope of knowing that Christ does completely understand our challenges in her talk entitled, “The Family Is of God.”

She said,

“In the premortal life, we learned that we would need a period of mortality. We “accepted [Heavenly Father’s] plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize [our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.”4

“Elder Richard G. Scott explained that “we were taught in the premortal world that our purpose in coming here is to be tested, tried, and stretched.”5 That stretching comes in as many forms as there are individuals experiencing it. I’ve never had to live through divorce, the pain and insecurity that comes from abandonment, or the responsibility associated with being a single mother. I haven’t experienced the death of a child, infertility, or same-gender attraction. I haven’t had to endure abuse, chronic illness, or addiction. These have not been my stretching opportunities.

“So right now some of you are thinking, “Well then, Sister Stephens, you just don’t understand!” And I answer that you may be right. I don’t completely understand your challenges. But through my personal tests and trials—the ones that have brought me to my knees—I have become well acquainted with the One who does understand, He who was “acquainted with grief,”6 who experienced all and understands all.”

That last part.

I love that.

“I have become well acquainted with the One who does understand…”

I can testify that Christ has experienced and does understand all. He understands me, He understands my dear, talented, inspiring, blog-writing friend, and He understands you. And He always will. So it will always be ok.

Much love and rice and beans, and it’s good to be home,
Alicia (aka Sister Hansen)

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67. I am the one who has been blessed

March 16, 2015
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Dear Friends and Family,

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This may be the shortest post of the past 18 months. It seems like as time has gone by, my posts and emails have been getting shorter and shorter. I have found that in talking with my companion and other missionaries, their experience is the same. My mind gets deeper into what I’m doing and then emailing becomes less and less important. But I feel like I have learned and am learning what is most important.
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I have kept a little book of thoughts the last portion of my mission. Right now there are over 100 little thoughts that I have jotted down: phrases I loved, thoughts that passed through my mind that rang true, lessons learned, things I learned about myself. It ranges anywhere from #1 which reads, “Ranch dressing is good on pretty much everything”– an important thing to know, apparently — to deep and meaningful thoughts about the Atonement and God’s plan for me. My point in telling you this is that I have learned what I really want. I want to know that when I reach the point in my eternal timeline when I see my Heavenly Father again, I want Him to know and I want to know myself that I brought love to the world.  That I was an influence for good.  That I did what He needed me to do, and that I gave my heart. I hope that I can say the same about my mission.
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Over the past few days and weeks, I have been doing all of my “lasts.” Last testimony shared in a zone meeting, last coordination meeting, last weekly planning, last Preparation Day (TODAY), last, last, last, last… But I have learned what will “last.” I may not have been a perfect missionary. I may have made many mistakes, missed many opportunities, not always been perfectly obedient or diligent, or whatever. But I have learned that what will last is the testimony, the witness, that I have gained–that now burns in my bones.
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Christ lives. He truly overcame this world so that we might overcome it. He loves us. He is the Son of God, a God who has a plan to bring about the eternal life and eternal happiness of His children. I have served Him these 18 months, endeavoring to bless the lives of His children, and in the end… I am the one who has been blessed.
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One of my favorite missionaries in the Book of Mormon, Ammon, put it this way in Alma 26:
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“1 My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla — [or Boise, perhaps?] — that God would have granted unto us such great blessings? 

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2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell? 
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3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.”

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One of my companions taught me the principle of the seed. You can count the number of seeds in an apple–5 or 6, maybe. But you can never count how many apples come from one seed.
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“What great blessings has God bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?” I cannot.

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And so I leave you with a scripture that seems to be brimming from my heart:
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“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” 3 Nephi 5:13.

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I have loved this work. I have loved this time. I love the Lord.
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I love you.
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Sister Hansen

66. Feelings are tender

March 9, 2015red.bow.white.gift

Dear all,

Feelings are tender and if you know me well, you know that it isn’t strange.  But tears have been continually brimming these last few weeks. I don’t even know where to start.
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I suppose I could try to sum up 18 months in some kind of perfect, eloquent way in this blog post and make it some kind of perfect bow on top of a mission, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to. Hopefully you’ll just see and feel it when you see me. That is my prayer.
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This is going to be a really short one, but I wanted to just tell you all that I love you!
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I keep hearing news of all the great things happening in your lives – weddings, children, success in school, church callings, the gospel changing lives. This life is beautiful. By no means does that translate to easy, but it is definitely beautiful! I am so happy for and grateful for each of you. I am so happy that you are happy! And if you’re not happy, be happy!
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2 Nephi 2:25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
An adventure to report:  I must begin by saying that both my companion and I are fine. Anyone nervous yet?
tire.warningWell, we blew a tire while driving. It’s a long story, but here’s the short version.  I will take the blame and just say we are grateful that all is well. It was a pretty normal accident. Just be careful when you u-turn, ok?  This adventure made us both realize that we didn’t actually feel comfortable changing a tire.  Well, now we do!  We are grateful for random strangers who are willing to help and for kind mission vehicle coordinators. It was a learning experience, no one was hurt, and we had a good laugh.
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Well, my time is almost gone and so I must send this along with one more reiteration of my love, my gratitude for each of you, and my wishes for a beautiful week!
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Much love and rice and beans,
Sister Hansen

 

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. 🙂 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? 🙂
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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. 😉 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. 🙂
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Good times.
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This is the life. 🙂
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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

64. Try change

kanab-utah
February 17, 2015
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. 🙂

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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. 🙂
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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.
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).
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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“Imagine 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)”

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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

61. Happy New Year, Everyone!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!!!!

It is a new year,  and as we read in 3 Nephi 12:47, because of Jesus Christ, “Old things are done away, and all things have become new.” This is the perfect fresh-start, reset, and paradigm shifting opportunity. You can look at yourself, your life, your world differently starting now. Here’s a video illustration of this thought: It is called Look Not Behind Thee, and is based on Genesis 19:17. Enjoy!
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This year I have made a lot of goals for myself. One of the first goals I made was that I would bear my testimony every month on Fast Sunday. So, a quick break down for those who read that sentence and were not sure what I mean by that. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have one Sunday a month that is called “Fast Sunday.”  On this day, members of the church can choose to fast – to go without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time – and then attend a special church service where members of the congregation are invited to speak and share their testimony – their personal witness, experiences, and feelings about their Savior, their Heavenly Father, the church, etc.  I made the decision that I would take the opportunity to share my own testimony every month in this meeting. I had a mission preparation teacher who would always say, “A testimony is gained in Screenshot 2015-01-05 12.36.46the bearing of it.” (Paraphrasing President Boyd K. Packer in his 1983 talk The Candle of the Lord. I decided I would experiment upon his statement this year.
I began this with yesterday’s fast and testimony meeting. As I left the pulpit, walked back to my seat, and sat back down in the pew, I had an overwhelming feeling that the Lord was pleased with me. I sat there in the meeting and began to cry and just felt so much peace and gratitude for the experiences that I have had in my life and on my mission that have filled me with certainty and love of the gospel, the Lord, the church, etc.
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I know that the work I am doing is real, important, and deeper than I can even express. I know that through Christ we can see miracles in our lives and the lives of those we meet. I have seen, countless times, how focusing on the eternal perspective of our identity as children of God and the things we are preparing for in this life, allow us to let petty things go, focus on what it most important, and see the world around us as more beautiful, more hopeful, and more bright. It is gratitude.
I would urge and invite you to focus on gratitude this year. Focus on the blessings that come on a daily basis. Write them down. Take pictures of them. Post them on Facebook, write them in a journal, share them with a friend, PRAY ABOUT THEM. But please, please, notice the tender mercies of the Lord in your life. Really, that’s the whole purpose of the Book of Mormon, as Nephi says in the last verse of the first chapter (1 Nephi 1:20):
But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”
His tender mercies are over you. Look for them and love them.
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I love you. I love you more than words and I wish you all the most beautiful January and 2015 you could ever imagine. Stay strong. Be faithful. Believe in God and know that He is (Mosiah 4:9).
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Much love and rice and beans and blessings and all good things,
Sister Hansen

59. Merry Christmas!

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Double Quartet at the Missionary Christmas Fireside, St. George Tabernacle, December 21, 2014

 

Merry Christmas everyone!!

This week has been a whirlwind! With all the changes and the Christmas preparations, I have hardly had a moment to breathe! And it’s not over! I love it. 🙂

This last week we had our transfers, so I am safe and sound and hitting the ground running in Washington Fields with my new companion, Sister Liu! We are off to a great start. We have already gotten lost in our area together, been directed to drive across a corn field by our GPS (we didn’t, just in case you were wondering), and had some fantastic and miraculous meetings and lessons with incredible people.  We have also successfully tackled the missionary Christmas Fireside that we performed in last night! More details on that in just a moment. All I can say is that it is good to be here, it is good to be a missionary, and I am so grateful for this season.

This last weekend was marvelous! So busy. We had 2 ward Christmas parties on Friday and Saturday and went Ward Christmas Program hopping on Sunday. We started the day by singing in the ward choir in one of our wards. Beautiful music. Grateful for the Spirit helping me sightread. Then we went to another ward where the program was SPECTACULAR, made me cry–organ… Christmas carols… it will always get me, Dad–and we sat with a great Sister with whom we’d had a beautiful lesson the night before. Then we went to yet another Christmas program with an investigator. Then we rushed to meet with a bishop, a dinner appointment, and then dress rehearsal for the Christmas Fireside.

It was so good. The Spirit was strong. The Tabernacle was warm (literally, we were all overheated) in spirits and full of light. The choir sang well. I had the opportunity to be really involved.

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The instrumental quartet

A quartet of Violin, Viola, Clarinet, and Bassoon played an arrangement of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and The Coventry Carol; a small double quartet of Elders and Sisters sang Away in a Manger;  Sister Gearheart, another beautiful missionary I serve with, and myself, sang a solo/duet on O Holy Night in a beautiful choral arrangement that filled the room with an overwhelming testimony of the Savior.

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It was breathtaking and a privilege to be involved. I gazed around the room as we sang and was overwhelmed and so heartened to see so many familiar faces from all of the wonderful areas I have served in, including a previous companion, Sister Harper, and her parents all the way from Australia!

Sister Erin Harper, Sister Hansen, Susan and David Harper, of Sydney, Australia

Sister Erin Harper, Sister Hansen, Susan and David Harper, of Sydney, Australia

Made me cry. And the choir was filled with friends and fellow missionaries that have become some of my dearest friends. I am so blessed. And this leads me to my next thought:

I have a new favorite scripture. I discovered it during a personal study last week and I want to share it. As I let it mull around in my head over the last few days, it has started to mean more and more to me. And then the other night we met a less-active sister that we met by a miracle. She talked about having an eternal perspective as she grows older. She said that she has come to the conclusion that, as time stretches on and looks and seems shorter and shorter, your priorities start to become clearer and more focused. It becomes clear that some things just need to fall out of your life or be looked at differently and then you start to worry about what really matters. Only things that have an eternal effect. She answered a big question for me in sharing that. As the end of my mission draws nearer, my thoughts turn this way. How am I going to finish the way the Lord would have me? How am I going to do all I can? What is most important? That turned my mind, again, to the scripture. It is Mosiah 7:18-19.

In this story, a Book of Mormon king named Limhi is speaking to his people, encouraging them, and motivating them to have hope. They have been in bondage for so long, but there is finally light on the horizon because of Ammon, another Book of Mormon hero, who has discovered their city and brings the hope of deliverance and help. It reads,

“18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.

“19 Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through theRed Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.”

I guess the conclusion I draw here is that, as King Limhi says, “the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subject to our” whatever it is. Our life, our mission, our trial, our semester in school, our biology class, our whatever, is drawing to a close. But he goes on to say, “yet, I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.” Don’t let up. When something is hard (or even good!) and you can see the end near or the light ahead, don’t give up. Don’t finish the race with anything less than your very best sprint. Diligence to the end will not only make you happy, but it will bring blessings from the Lord! And the eternal perspective will always help you really focus on what really matters.

Like my experience in the Tabernacle, I was in a room filled with light, the Spirit, beautiful music, people I loved, and Christmas celebration. That was what really mattered. That’s what really DOES matter.

I love Christmas. I love it because of what it does to the world. Some people may say that it is a time when we take a break from the “real world,” but I think it is when we really see the real world. We see Christ in everything, perhaps more than we used to, when we have the right paradigm going for us, and that’s really how it should be, all the time, is it not?

I testify that Christ lives. He was born that He might live, that we might live, that we might have peace and every reason to rejoice. As the angel told the Shepherds that night as the birth of the Savior was proclaimed, I too raise my voice to say,

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10).

The good tidings of great joy are the many opportunities that we have to be made new, better, stronger, happier, more determined, lifted, and so much more by Christ.

Hymn of the Day

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! Screenshot 2014-12-24 11.09.30

 

 

1. Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise;
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

2. Christ, by highest heaven adored!
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Born in time, behold him come,
Offspring of the virgin’s womb,
Veiled in flesh, adored is He,
Savior through eternity!
Pleased as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, Our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

3. Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Ris’n with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

He lives! (I wish you could see and feel my grin!) He does!

And that’s the best gift we could every be given. #Share the gift

Screenshot 2014-11-30 21.37.40Hope is real. Peace is real. And “once all things He meekly bore” for our sakes (Hymn #196 Jesus Once of Humble Birth), so that we can be lifted in what we bear. That’s the best news I have ever heard.

I love you all. I hope you can feel it! I wish you all the very Merriest Christmas!

Much love and all good things and sincere prayers and more love,
Sister Hansen