December 15, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
December 15, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
Dear loved ones,
What was your favorite Christmas gift? Does one come to mind?
November 18, 2014
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,
P.S. Mormon Messages of the week:
You Never Know (click on the photo)
Hymn of the week: #124 Be Still My Soul/I Love the Lord
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.
At 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,
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:
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,
P.S.: Article/Talk of the week: [Click on the photo]
The Surprising Science Behind “Supremely Happy” People
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.
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).
October 21, 2014
Dear Friends and Family and everyone in between,
I believe that Heavenly Father sometimes places people and things in our paths simply because He wants to remind us that we are loved. But this is only possible if we, and those around us, are in tune and willing to be His hands.
This has been happening to me repeatedly over the past few weeks and I want to recount a few of these experiences which I have decided can appropriately be referred to as miracles:
Lately in the Visitors’ Center a notable number of people have asked me about my “Hansen” heritage. They want to know where the Hansens are from. And I’m sad to say, but I have not had great answers for them! I know more about Mom’s Haymond and Bills sides than I do about Dad’s Hansen and Hendricks people. Well, I was tired of not having a good answer for people, so I did a little research on familysearch.org. (Check it out. It’s very cool!) I discovered that my ancestor Hans Christain Rasmussen was born in Copenhagen, and must have immigrated to the US because he passed away in Utah.
This is much more information than I ever had! Hooray! And here is the culmination of the miracle:
Just a day or so after I had obtained this knowledge for myself about my ancestor, I greeted a couple in the Visitors’ Center from . . . Denmark! They remarked on my last name being Hansen and asked where my Hansens were from. I was so excited!! I was able to tell them that the last of my ancestors to be in Denmark was in Copenhagen. They then proceeded to teach me how to pronounce Copenhagen in Danish and taught me how to say “Have a good day” in Danish, which I promptly forgot. It didn’t stick as well as German does in my brain. But I’ll work on it. But you say Copenhagen, “Coopenhauven…” or something like that. Ok, that probably won’t translate well, but in any case, I am excited to speak with another Danish family and pronounce it that way. It will shock them. 🙂 The man that taught me told me that I should make a point of surprising the next Danish tourists I see with my stellar pronunciation. 🙂
I was so grateful that I had been prompted to research my Hansen line so that I could be ready for this very encounter. And I told them so. 🙂 What a blessing.
This last week has been a hard one. I’ve been hard on myself, and there have a lot of little factors that have made me feel a little like I have been treading water. (Don’t worry, all is well, this is just part of life! :D) But at the end of this week, I was speaking with a couple in the Visitors’ Center about their granddaughter who is on a mission in Europe. I felt prompted to ask them what has impacted them about having her on a mission. The sister answered that she had been impressed with the charity she had seen displayed in her granddaughter’s ability and capacity to love all of her companions, no matter what. We continued to speak and over the course of our conversation, this sweet Sister said to me, as close as I can remember, “You have a very sweet spirit about you.” As her words washed over me, I was surprised (and embarrassed) to find that tears sprang up and flowed freely from my eyes.
I can’t really explain why, but I needed those words right then. And I know that this sweet woman had no idea. But she had been in the right place, at the right time, and was in tune with the Spirit and willing to reach out with a compliment, a kind word, and healing conversation.
But it didn’t start in that moment at the VC. This couple had been doing what was right for days, weeks, etc. so that they could have the Spirit with them right then so that they could say what I needed to hear that day. I know that this is true. And I know that as we continually do what is right, we will qualify for the Spirit, and we will be ready when the Lord needs to call upon us to be an angel and an instrument in His hands for someone else.
Start now, everyone. Please. Daily prayer, studying the scriptures daily, random acts of kindness, choosing to fill your life and your mind with good things that draw you closer to God. Good music, good media, good humor, good conversation. Invite light and invite the Spirit always. Be the best you can – not perfect, but progressing, and open your life to be a conduit for goodness so that you can be there for others, as they will be there for you. It will be eternally worth it.
I love you tremendously. You all have, at one time or another, or possibly several times, been this for me. And I am eternally grateful.
You will be so blessed for being in the right place at the right time, and for being inspired and in tune with the Spirit. Start now.
Ready? Set — Go. 🙂
Much love and rice and beans and as many blessings as you can handle and more,
Challenges for the week:
1 -Alongside being that person who delivers the joy, look for how Heavenly Father is showing his love for you throughout your days!! It’s there, I promise, if you’ll look!
2-Keep a daily miracle journal/gratitude journal. Write down one thing daily that made you smile. You’ll be surprised by the change. 🙂
Hymn of the week:
October 14, 2014
We’re having heaps of fun here down unda.
Ok, all jokes aside. For those of you who don’t know, my new companion is Sister Harper. She is from…can you guess? Australia! The last two or so weeks have been full of tears, miracles, and a lot of laughter.
Since Halloween is not that big in Australia, Sister Harper has been super thrilled to see all the crazy decorations going up. We drive past a house with one jack-o-lantern and she gets excited. She’s teaching me a lot about enjoying the little things. 🙂
This last week I received a letter from my mom. On the outside of the envelope, she had written:Doctrine & Covenants 25:12-13 Lift up your voice and sing!
12 For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
13 Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.
This was such an appropriate message! Lately I have been doing a lot of singing. Sister Harper has a lovely voice and we sing together often. We sing in the majority of our lessons, in the car, in the breakroom at the Visitors’ Center, in our apartment while we get ready for the day, while we’re doing laundry! We sing hymns of peace, praise, joy, worship, love, and life. I feel so lifted by all the singing we are doing. In the not too distant past, our mission president’s wife wrote a message in our weekly newsletter about music. Sister Center quoted Ephesians 5:17-20:
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
She then said, “I particularly like verse 19: A song in the heart – a spiritual song; a hymn of praise and thanksgiving -can do much to lift the spirits and brighten the day. The hymns of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ are inspired. Singing or humming them or even just thinking of the words will invite the Spirit into your life. Sacred music is so important to the Lord that he commissioned Emma Smith, at the hands of the Prophet Joseph, “to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:10-11).
One of the greatest blessings that the song of the heart brings is peace. Perhaps it is not measurable, perhaps this blessing will not buy kingdoms or new cars. But peace is the greatest gift and the greatest possession we could ever receive or have. And no one can rob you of your peace when it is anchored in Christ.
There are too many fantastic stories from the past 2 weeks than I can fit into this week’s email. More to come later. But just know that laughter is the best medicine, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, forgive freely and often (especially yourself and those closest to you), and never give up. Raise your expectations and your efforts and the results will follow.
Much love and rice and beans,