Wednesday, January 27, 2016

18 Months of Memories

Note from parents:
Hermana Hansen returns home in less than a week!  Can't believe how fast the time has passed.  One of our requests to our hija while she was away was to let us experience her mission with her through photos.  We hooked her up with a family one drive account and we were very blessed that most weeks the process worked very well.  It was such a blessing to be able to live a very small part of the mission with her in this way.

We've taken a few of the photos from every week of her mission and compiled them here to try and capture at least a small part of what she experienced.  We are so grateful to all the missionaries serving throughout the world for the sacrifice they make and the joy they bring to others through the message of the Savior.  Missions are hard both physically and emotionally.  We are so grateful to all her companions and mission friends, her friends here at home, President and Sister George as well as all the wonderful people in Chiapas who have helped her over the past 18 months!

Most of all we're grateful for the Savior and His gospel and the joy and hope it brings to all of us.

Music credits for the video:
David Nevue - Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Ludovico Einaudi - I giorni
Jon Schmidt - Hymn of Nature
Plumb - Lord I'm Ready Now

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Last One Fast One

Well this very well may be my last email home.... because next Monday I'll be in the mission home (I'll be heading down on Sunday day early to register for classes at BYU...WHAT REAL WORLD?!) and then flying home on Thursday. 

I can't believe how fast time has passed. It's been hitting me little by little.... earlier today when we were cleaning the house I shouted, "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I WILL BE CLEANING A MEXICAN APARTMENT ON A PDAY SO I'D BETTER ENJOY IT." 

There have been a lot of outbursts like that lately....(all in Spanish of course...I'm just translating it for your benefit..haha). 



CHAFAAAAA. Ni modos. Not sure how I feel yet. Maybe I'll tell you next week.... if I end up writing that is...

Well I have really learned a lot these last few weeks in Teopisca with Hermana Arellano. Every missionary talks about their "trial period" on their mission... maybe a time when they weren't seeing baptisms or other things... but I honestly never felt that on my mission. Yes.... I've had trials. But I was able to see them all with an eternal perspective. I thought that maybe I would just pass my whole mission happily without this lame "trial period" that everyone talks about! 

Well I think God decided to wait until the very end to give me mine... so He could see if I would really stick it out and endure to the end of my mission. Not gonna lie. It's been hard.

Coming to Teopisca I expected to be like BOOM EXPLOSION BAPTIZE AND REACTIVATE EVERYONE. When I came I felt like I knew how to work the system, how to be guided by the Spirit, how to work my butt off... and mas que nada how to baptize. I had baptized every month of my mission until that point. Maybe Hermana Hansen was a little orgulloso okay? 

I honestly thought I knew exactly what to do to be a successful missionary. Until the weeks passed.... and the baptisms didn't come. So we worked harder, we practiced more, prayed more fervently, and fasted more. And there still weren't any baptisms. So we tried new tactics, tried to rely even more on God and the Holy Spirit... and the baptisms that we were sure would happen just kept falling through.

So I thought, "OK...time to be humble. Obviously God is trying to teach me something out of this. I know He will reward us for our efforts. He must just be saving the best for last!"
The best for lasting being.... Hermana M. Poco un poco... all of our investigators have been delaying their baptisms... but Hermana M. has stayed faithful. She has had a real desire and has really repented and made changes in her life. 

FINALLY came the day of her baptism. Saturday. Everything was ready. She passed the baptism interview with flying colors, had been showing faith by reading the Book of Mormon even though she has little education, she had repented.... and her baptismal service was waiting for her an hour away in San Cristobal.
We went to pick her up, and she wasn't there. The door was locked. So we called her, and she screened us. About 3 times. Then she completely blocked us and it went straight to voicemail. Frantically, we start walking towards the graveyard, where apparently she works on a ranch.... trying to find her. On the way, we find some members, who tell us that she's not working at the ranch.

So we called our district leader, who had the idea to call her from his phone. He called, she answered. She said that she would make her way back to her house. So we went back and waited .... but she never came. We tried calling again and she screened us. It was really terrible. I guess the feeling we had was just confusion and deception. We just love her so much. We didn't know where she was. We didn't know what to think. Why was she randomly was hiding from us? We had to call the branch president and cancel the baptism. And then we just had to go and work... go invite people to come to Christ... with all of these unanswered questions haunting us. 

Since it was still early, we went to the apartment for a bit, to do the training for my companion. We watched an episode from the District 2, which cheered us up a bit. Then we sucked it up and went to work. We ended up having a successful day, and started a fast for Hermana M. Later that night, we went to visit her. We found her bundled up in bed (because it was FREEZING). When we walked in, she wouldn't even look at us.

Actually.. she didn't make eye contact with us the whole visit. So we started normally, we sang a hymn with her and said the opening prayer.... and then we asked what happened with her baptism. She lowered her head even more, and was silent. After a few minutes... she silently started crying. So we sang more hymns and tried to ask her what was wrong. But she just sat there, not looking at us, silently crying for a good 30 minutes. 

After a while and a lot of questions, we finally coaxed it out of her that she had talked with her extended family the day before and they had told her 3 things. 
1. We were crazy
2. She was already baptized and didn't need another one 
3. They would never talk to her again if she was baptized in our church.

We are sure they said more things, but that's all she would tell us. So she was confused, and avoided us to avoid being baptized. We asked her if she still had a desire to be baptized and she told us she did. So we shared some things with her and our testimonies. But when we invited her to be baptized the next week she said she would have to think about it. She said she would come to church, but she didn't come. I think this has been the hardest for me because we love her so much and know it's God's will that she be baptized.She has such a desire to "turn a new page." But, people have their agency. And Satan is a hard worker. 

We have put our faith in the Lord. I know that if we rely completely on the Spirit, there is still hope that she can be baptized this week. It's my last week... time to see the miracles here in Teopisca.....

Jacob 5:71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.

As we say in swimming.... LAST ONE FAST ONE. 

Hermana Hansen

Monday, January 18, 2016

God Gives us Trials so the Miracles are so Much Better

I think sometimes God gives us trials so the miracles are just so much better.
Not gonna lie.... these last few weeks have been weird. Like randomly all of our progressing investigators not progressing... what seems like an eternity of no baptisms... flea and foot problems ETC. UNTIL  YESTERDAYYYYY.

So we left early and walked around all of Teopisca, calling and knocking on the doors of every single investigator we could think of... and everyone a) wasn't home b) saw us and hid, or c) lied. So we got to church about 10 minutes early, without any investigators only to find that none of the members have arrived yet either. 
So we sit down feeling a little disheartened. When in walks in Hermana Lupita, who is working towards baptism! Woohoo! And right behind her, walks in some random joven.  He starts saying hi to everyone and sits down like he knows the place. We ask him who he is, and if he had come before. 
He said, "No, you guys talked to my mom last week in the street. Well she didn't want to come but she told me about you guys, and told me about where your church was. So I came looking for it because I like to listen to the word of God." 
Come to find out he actually lives in a little town outside of Teopisca, which is a good 15 minute away in combi and another 30 minutes or so walking. He speaks Tsotsil, Tsental, and Spanish. 
 He said, "I actually have read the Book of Mormon. I find really interesting the stories of Nephi and Jacob. I'm really interested in the book of Ether about the Jaredites. I've been thinking that maybe I'm one of them!" 
We just blinked. 
"I also am interested about Joseph Smith," he said.  "I also want to know what church is true. And I think his prophecies are coming to pass!" 
More blinking. 
I have no idea how in the world he found us. Our casita de oracion is behind a big metal black door thing and it's just a little log cabin without a sign or anything. How he even found us is a miracle. He stayed for the whole meeting, liked it all, accepted a baptism date, and when we talked with him afterwards and prayed with him. 
He said, "Father, I think I have found the true church." 
Hermana Arellano and I were so shocked through the whole thing we were sure it was a trick from our zone leaders or president!! Haha
OK! OK! Back to the montòn de milagros. So during the opening prayer, a young woman prayed that one investigator would come who hadn't arrived yet. Literally the moment that she said his name, he opened the door and walked in. After the prayer, Hermana I. arrived. Being the character that she is, during the talks, she secretly passed around candy to everyone. 
Then, after the sacrament, Hermanas M. and J. and their 3 kids showed up. So they also kept their baptism dates!!! There were just so many tender mercies from the Lord yesterday. 
I love these people so much and I love being a missionary. WORD.
Hermana Hansen 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Book of Mormon is the Word of God


So this week something cool happened in our family group of Teopisca.... we had a our full 3 hours of church for the first time EVER!!!! Hermano A. constructed another little log house to the side of our casita de oracion, so we now have room for classes! The 2nd counselor from the rama came down and set apart teachers for Sunday School and Relief Society! They have never taught a class before... and don't know the doctrine very it was a little interesting! Haha! But poco un poco..... It was great! 
This week I finished el Libro de Mormón for the first time completely in Spanish and the second time on my mission. It was great. I was able to pray and ask if it was true (as always). It was interesting because I remember almost a year ago when I finished it the first time... I didn't get my answer right away. I actually got my answer about 3 days later when my companion Hermana Juarez was bearing her testimony, and I also recieved a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that it was indeed true. 
But this time, as I knelt praying, I received an immediate answer that I honestly wasn't expecting!! That "burning in your chest" that everyone talks about but I honestly never really feel... (I feel the spirit in different ways generally) testified to me that it was true right then and there!! It was a cool experience, because I really learned that God responds according to OUR needs and HIS will. I learned later why it was wise that I received my answer so immediately in this form.

A few days later, we were with Hermana I... an investigator that has passed through way too many trials in her life. Honestly, she's probably had one of the hardest lives I've ever heard of. Because of this, she is very psychological and has a tendency to over analyze everything. She has a lot of knowledge, but very little faith. 
Hermana I. told us that because of our young age our hearts and intentions were pure. But she was sure that as we grew up and experienced and suffered more we would change our mind about our religion, find ourselves in another place, and change religions according to how we changed. Then we would find that another religion was "true to us". She said because we grew up in the religion, we had been brainwashed and didn't know anything else. I WAS SO FRUSTRATED. 
So I did the only thing I could. I testified. 
I held up the Book of Mormon and said, "With all due respect, Sister, you are completely wrong. Maybe we are young. I'm sure we haven't suffered or experienced all that you have, and maybe we never will. But something I know for sure is that there is only one true church, and it's this church. And I know that because of this Book. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It contains the secret to your happiness in this world and the life to come. Maybe we don't know everything, but at least we know this. And I challenge you to come find me in 50 years. Find me. And you will find that I still will be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, in this very same religion. Because the Holy Ghost has told me that this Book is true. Yes, I was born in this church. But I had to find and receive my very own testimony. I didn't always believe. But I was humble enough to read and ask. And if you will just humble yourself, and open your heart a bit, and will also find that it's true. It will change your whole life! But it's up to you. I know it's true. In the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN."

Hermana Hansen

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Miracle of the Rat

 Well another week chambiando en good ol' TEOPISCA..... Hermana Arellano and I had grand plans of waking up at midnight on New Years to sit on our roof top deck and watch fireworks. But we slept through it all. Whatevs. What's funny is here there are wayyy more New Year's celebrations than Christmas ones!! Everyone was really friendly on New Year's day and said hi to us ..... well most of them were drunk but they were all friendly drunks!

So something.... interesting about Teopisca is that they have the biggest rats I have ever seen. These aren't your Tuxtla city rats... these are field rats that probably eat cats for breakfast. I guess with the hobbit hills comes hobbit sized rats. And there are literally so many of them that about once a day we find one plastered on the road. We've learned not to look down at our feet as we walk. Haha!

It's interesting because in Tapachula there were pancaked toads and here we have pancaked rats. I'll take a pancaked toad over a rat any day. My companion is soooo traumatized by Rats. It doesn't matter where we are.... if she sees a rat alive or dead she screams bloody murder. There have been like 3 times when a rat has come out during the middle of the lesson and I just start praying that my comp doesn't see it.... and she never has!! Miracles in Teopisca!! 

But our biggest rat miracle occurred on New Year's day. We went out past the hills into the country looking for one of our street contacts. After about an hour of asking and looking we finally found her!!! We couldn't enter her yard because there were vicious dogs... so we ended up giving her a lesson standing outside of the gate. She was inside and her three boys were running around behind her. One was about 7 and the other two were 2 year old twins.

Right in the middle of the lesson, one of the toddlers comes running up holding a DEAD RAT the size of his head. I am not kidding you. It was the biggest dead rat I have ever seen. He was standing right behind his mom. Luckily, my comp was so focused on the lesson that she didn't see him. Suddenly, he drops the rat. Then the 7 year old finds a stick, and they start playing hockey with the dead rat. By some miracle, my comp didn't see it.

We left the lesson, and I immediately turn to my companion and said, "Did you not see that giant dead rat?" 
She had not seen it... but as I started telling her about it... she almost starting crying in the street!!! Haha! I've seen a lot of miracles on my mission, but I never thought I would see rat miracles until I came to Teopisca. 

Hermana Hansen