Sunday, December 29, 2013

CHRISTMAS IS COMING...



Indeed it is! I'm excited! I had the opportunity to co-teach Gospel Principles class at church yesterday and we talked all about Christmas. We read from Luke 2 and shared what we learned from our mission president, about how God is in the details of our lives. Let me reference you to verse 7:

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Have you ever thought about WHY Christ was never born in an inn? As told from President Riggs, the inn in those days was dirty and messy and loud and crowded. Think about if Christ had been born in a place like this! It would not have been as sacred and precious and HUMBLE. I personally can't imagine Christ being born in such a noisy and irreverent environment - it just wouldn't make sense. This proves to me that God does have a plan for EVERYTHING!
This week was wonderful! We were able to teach Chad before he left out of town for the holidays. We knew we had to address his hostility and confusion towards the Church and its organization. So we went back to the basics: The Book of Mormon! We read from Alma 32 and committed him to participate in an EXPERIMENT - read the Book of Mormon EVERY day for two weeks, with an open heart and sincere prayer, and to let us know how he feels afterwards. Sister Anderson and I have been praying hard that his eyes will be opened and his heart softened to the blessings of the gospel. We will meet with him next week when he returns!
Brother Garlock is doing better! However, we knew we had to teach him a little bit more about repentance and humility. We used the talk by Elder Ulisses Soares about meekness and my favorite line is this:

"I believe, brothers and sisters, that ONLY those who are humble are able to acknowledge AND [then] understand the Lord’s answers to their prayers." (Emphasis added by me)
Brother Garlock concluded for himself that he is only "half humble", meaning he acknowledges answers but doesn't understand them. We continued to bear our testimonies that as he continues to try and put God first in his life, he will grow more humble. And then, and ONLY then, will he be able to truly understand answers to his prayers.
We did get to go to the Temple Visitor Center with Marvin and his sweet mother, Marta! (photo above) It was fabulous, despite the 1.5 hours it took us to get up there because of traffic. We were able to talk about the Book of Mormon and give ourselves a little tour of the center. Then we watched the show, which featured the Britton Family, a family full of instrumentalists. It was awesome! My favorite was the violin player - I swear that I will learn how to play ONE DAY!!!
I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas and that despite the business and chaos the holidays may bring, that you are able to enjoy the true Spirit of Christ. Get out there and serve your fellow-man! Make someone feel lighter and happier! Pray to know how to find these opportunities! Because they're there... I know they are.
LOVES,
Sister Hansen
PICTURES:
1) Us and Marta and Marvin!

Hillary at the Pentagon!

 
LOTS to update you on this week! I apologize for the late send of this e-mail - preparation day was CRAZY. We actually were able to go on a tour of the Pentagon, guided by a member of our ward that works there! Pretty neat (see attached picture)... definitely helped boost my patriotism. The 9/11 Memorial was special too!

So to start with Chad - he's doing... okay. He did a little researching of his own on the internet and was discouraged, to say the least, about what he found. Remember, Chad is a very intellectual guy. He likes the facts and even admits to struggling with the "faith" part (SO IMPORTANT). We had two lessons with him this past week, and they just didn't go as planned. However, he came to our ward Christmas party, to church, and to a Christmas Concert held on Sunday night. I would say his testimony lies first in the people of the Church, then in the church services themselves, and then... somewhere down the line... the actual doctrine and Restoration of the gospel. So our focus this week is to get him BACK to focusing on the basics - the Book of Mormon and PRAYER. I know, without a doubt, that THIS is what will help him with his objections and concerns. We have a lesson with him tonight and plan on getting him to focus more on his heart than his mind, and that way, the Spirit will fuel his desire to find out if the Book of Mormon is TRUE scripture! Keep him in your prayers :)
Brother Garlock is doing well! He is coming to church this Sunday, and we will meet with him afterwards. After a VERY long lesson this past week on the second floor of a trendy McDonald's in Arlington, we finally discovered what his major concern is. He's very personal about it, so I won't share it on here. However, I know that all he needs to remember and understand is that God has not forgotten him. We're working with him on praying in front of us (at the end of lessons and such), but he's being a tough cookie. I think that the more we remind him about the beautiful simplicity of the gospel, his testimony will allow him to open up more and be willing to PRAY!
Marvin is our NEW less-active member that we're working with. He is what you would call a "golden" less-active (similar to a "golden" investigator), meaning there is no pushing or shoving on our parts in order to get him to come to church. He just comes and LOVES coming! Even he can't explain why. We know why (the Spirit), but his main concern is understanding WHY God is leading him on this path back to the gospel. He desires to make more mental sense of it. If you haven't gotten the drift of this e-mail yet, every man we're teaching these days is QUITE logical in their thinking - this makes for a challenge! Nonetheless, it's a challenge that Sister Anderson and I need to work with and face at this time. So Marvin was baptized at 13, but after his parents divorced soon after, he stopped coming to church. He just started coming back two months ago... over 20 YEARS after he was baptized! He told us he has known for the last few years that something has been missing in his life. We're SO excited he's found it! We get to go to the Temple Visitor's Center with him and his less-active 70 year old mother to see the lights, have a tour, and watch the "Britton Family" perform. Can't wait!
I'll leave you with a final miracle. So this past Sunday, all the missionaries in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake performed in that Christmas Concert (previously mentioned). It was a very cool experience! We sang a mash-up of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and "Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains" done by Larry Clouse, a member in the Mount Vernon Ward (you can find him on Facebook and probably Youtube). The spirit was really strong! Apparently, a man named Gaspar, who I thought was a MEMBER of our ward and who I happened to talk to after the concert (without knowing this information), went up to the stake president and said, "I want to be baptized!" So we're working with him on that! Met with him last night - he's been investigating for over 20 years and just wants to be baptized outside :) Pray that Gaspar will understand that TRUE importance of baptism!

I'm so grateful to be out here, learning from these wonderful men! My own testimony has been strengthened CONSTANTLY as I try to listen to and understand their concerns. I'm so thankful that they're not my own! But when it comes down to it, I KNOW that each man can receive revelation directly from our Heavenly Father in order to resolve their own troubles with the gospel (says Preach My Gospel). Thank you for all of your prayers!
LOVES,
Sister Hansen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"BURR, It's cold in here!..."



"BURR, It's cold in here!.....There must be some HUMIDITY in the atmosphere."

 I try to be clever, but sometimes it doesn't work. :)

This week was so great! Lots and LOT of miracles.
Update with Brother Garlock: We had a lesson with him this week and somehow decided to invite three other ward members to come and offer testimony. Maybe a bad idea :( It scared him a little bit because he didn't like the idea of being "fellowshipped". He didn't mind one person coming, but to have a room full was just too much. Can't say I blame him! We weren't actually planning on one of them being there, but he came anyway. But all is well! Brother Garlock is still wanting to meet with us. We're really trying to help him overcome his aversion to praying. Please continue to pray for him and that his heart will be softened! He didn't come to church yesterday, though he totally could have :( We're not giving up on him! Plan to teach him a very personal lesson this week on understanding the roles of the Spirit and how those work in prayer. Fingers crossed everyone!

A BIG miracle this week - we received a referral from a girl in a singles ward nearby. She met a man on the bus two months ago who she would talk about the gospel with. His name is Chad, he's 40 years old, and he's blind! Chad is a Christian and has a strong knowledge of and faith in the Bible. He was willing to meet with us and we talked about the Spirit and how that is how he'll know if this is really true. Because he has a more "intellectual" perspective on things, the Spirit is a little hard for him to grasp. But his desire and intent is TOTALLY there! He reads chapters we assign and came to Church for all three hours. He even listened to the Christmas Devotional by himself! I'm in AWE of what he's willing to do to find out more - can't say I've EVER had an investigator like this before. I feel very blessed to be teaching Chad. He is SO outgoing and has a great outlook of life. Please pray for him too!

The thought I wanted to share this week is actually from a talk in the October 2012 Conference Ensign. It's Pres. Uchtdorf's "Of Regrets and Resolutions". I read it during studies this week and noticed how much he stressed the importance of being a DISCIPLE. Looking at the word "disciple", I immediately noticed how similar it is to "discipline". And our mission president has a GREAT definition for "discipline":

Doing something you don't want to do, when you don't want to do it, because you KNOW you should.

Think about how this correlates with our desire and responsibility to be a disciple of Christ. Here is what Pres. Uchtdorf says:

"How do we do this? By following the example of the Savior, by incorporating His teachings in our daily lives, by truly loving God and our fellowman. We certainly cannot do this with a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship... For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be."

I LOVE THAT. I love that Pres. Uchtdorf basically said that being a disciple of Christ WASN'T the easiest thing in the world. 'Cause it's not. Just like how being disciplined is NOT easy! BUT... how blessed we are when we just buck up and DO. And as we continue to DO, we will BECOME. And then... only then... will it start to be a little easier.

I am so THANKFUL for this gospel and I know with all my heart that it's true. I love you all and again, feeling your prayers constantly! Seriously. Have a great week!

Loves,
Sister Hansen

Pictures:
1) I took Sister Anderson out for her birthday to Don Pablos!

'TIS THE SEASON!! 'TWAS DELICIOUS!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
We started off our day at a Pie Party, where I had five different slivers (not slices, don't worry). 'Twas DELICIOUS! A member's brother had it at his house in Vienna - it was great fun! Then later that day, we had actual dinner at another member's house. He also invited 12 other members of the ward (see picture below). I had so much fun! It was nice to just sit down and get to know people on a more personal level. Sister Anderson and I shared a Thanksgiving message about the importance of being grateful. We encouraged them to write down at least one thing they are grateful for each day - then we plan to follow up! I know they'll see miracles as they apply gratitude more in their lives. A quote/story I shared with them is as follows, from Robert E. Quinn's devotional address to BYU-Hawaii "Let They Confidence Wax Strong in the Presence of God":
 
I was in a meeting with some professional colleagues. One of them is a highly accomplished woman. She told us that she kept a gratitude journal for 18 months. We were impressed. Then she told us that she stopped. We expressed disappointment. She picked up the implicit message and told us she quit because she no longer needed to keep the journal. We were curious.

She told us that her father was a very critical man and she grew up with the same negative orientation. If she heard a wonderful concert, but the soloist missed a note, she remembered the mistake, not the beautiful music. She related to people in a similar fashion. Rather than celebrating their gifts and the things they did right, she looked for their flaws. She constantly corrected people and they were often angry. She lived in a world of negativity. It was a world she created. Keeping the gratitude journal changed all that. In fact, she felt she no longer needed to write because she said she was now "living in a continuous state of gratitude." 

This woman was proactive. She chose to live in gratitude. By doing so, she actually rewired her brain. Think of it, by proactively cultivating one of the attributes of Christ, she transformed herself and was blessed to live a constant, positive state.

In Alma we read, "Worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you (Alma 34:38).
This scripture suggests that, wherever we are, we can be in the presence of God. It suggests that, if we can live in a constant state of gratitude, we can keep the covenant we make every Sunday. We can "always remember Him."

Isn't that neat? As we choose to be deliberately grateful each day, we are keeping our baptismal covenants - who knew? I didn't! It gives me even MORE cause to have gratitude, knowing that as I do, I'm remembering Him.

We were blessed to have some miracles this week - especially involving those that are less-active in the Church. The first is Brother Garlock, who was raised in the Church, but like many of us, became frustrating that God wasn't giving him the answers he wanted. So he "boycotted" God by giving up on reading, praying, and going to church (BAD IDEA). He moved to the DC area and the Elder's Quorum President found him and sought our help. We've seen a HUGE change in him as we just took the time to teach to his needs. He was at church yesterday - for all 3 hours! AND we met with him for a short lesson after that. It was great! He made friends and you can tell he was feeling the Spirit. I'm so grateful to witness these changes! Just like Brandon Flowers of The Killers said, [paraphrased] "I realized I wasn't done. There was still a fire burnin' in there!" This is the case for all individuals that have felt the Spirit even once in their life - they remember its goodness and blessings and they seek to have it once more. DON'T GIVE UP!

I'm so thankful for this holiday season! So many opportunities to invite people to come closer to Christ through activities and spiritual gatherings. We're trying to use the Temple Visitor Center as much as possible because the spirit felt there is UNBEATABLE. You Northern-Californians, invite your friends! They'll never forget it.

I love you all! Thank you for your examples - I'm always learning from you!

Loves,
Sister Hansen


Friday, November 29, 2013

BLAME IT ON THE BED BUGS.....


Yes, it's true. "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" has now become my reality. I didn't even know these things were real, to be honest with you! But we found out on Wednesday that our bedroom has been infested with bed bugs. My poor companion had no idea, though she has had bites/rash all over her body for the last 6 weeks. The minute I saw these things though, I knew we had to report it to the office. And I'm glad we did because this is SERIOUS. We've done a LOT of laundry and vacuuming this week, and we're waiting patiently on exterminators. As of now, I do have bites all over my body too, but I felt a calming reassurance telling me this morning that "this will go away". I just have to be patient :)
Despite the drama surrounding that predicament, we had some precious events occur! First, we took a less-active to the Temple Visitor's Center (LOVE that place!). We walked in and found out that our tour would be led by one of the same sisters that did our tour with Anne! Oh, I was so exciting! This sister is about 4'10" and dresses SO cute. Haha she immediately recognized me, with a new companion no less, and we embraced in reunion! The lesson was incredibly powerful, just like Anne's was. And though each woman has such a different story, the Plan of Salvation was what they needed to hear. I'm so grateful to know that this life isn't it, and that we can get through this life with the Atonement. We can use to become better each and every day, and to heal the things we going through - like bed bugs! Susan, our less-active, was deeply touched and was ready to change her life around after that lesson. She is moving back to Pennsylvania, so we won't see her again, but I know that that lesson will stick with her and help her make right choices!
We were also blessed to have had a conference with Elder Teh of the Seventy! He talked about many things, but the overall theme was doing missionary work by the Spirit. Without the Spirit, our teaching, finding, and planning is not in the will of the Lord's. One thing that stuck out to me as he taught us was that having the Spirit with us, and having people feel it, doesn't mean their agency is taken away. He quoted 2 Nephi 33:1-2:
1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.
Notice how Nephi says that the Holy Ghost carries our message UNTO their hearts, not INTO. Though we may allow them to feel the Spirit, it's their choice to accept it INTO their hearts. Let us not be discouraged though! Because without them feeling the Spirit in the first place, they wouldn't even have the choice to accept or reject it.
I'm so grateful for this gospel and the peace it gives me in my life! Though this trial I'm having is SO not the end-of-the-world, sometimes it feels like it is! And when I do feel that way, I know I can turn to my Heavenly Father immediately and He will comfort me. Everything - missionary work, healing, you name it - happens in the Lord's time. Let us all exercise that patience and remember that He knows best!
I love you ALL!
Loves,
Sister Hansen
1) My companion, Sister Anderson, and I!

GOOD BYE FAIRFAX; HELLO ALEXANDRIA


Goodbye Oakton, Hello Mount Vernon Stake!
So my new ward is Potomac Mid-Singles Ward, where I get to serve the 31 to 45 year old singles. WOO! They are GREAT! Very professional, outgoing, and a pretty strong desire to share the gospel. Most (even the women) have served missions, so that's helpful! Sunday was great - the talks were all about missionary work! Very fitting. I hope that we can show these members that they can trust us with their friends and that they will be more inclined to invite their friends to the many activities that the ward holds!
My new companion is Sister Julie Anderson from Olympia, Washington. She is VERY outgoing and enthusiastic - it's like she's been here longer than 6 weeks! But... that's how new she really is! So I am finishing up her training. Shouldn't be hard - she's an AWESOME missionary! And loves to talk just as much (if not more) than I do :) I didn't get a picture with her yet (lame, I know), but I promise I will have one by next week! To prepare you, she is a 6 foot, red-head. Gotta love it!
I'm going to keep this e-mail short this week. But I will share with you one scripture that I just love. I pray that I haven't shared this with you before: Alma 7:11-13.

11
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions and btemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 12 And he will take upon him adeath, that he may bloose 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 csuccor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit aknoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the bflesh that he might ctake upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

This is a very well-known and well-used scripture in the Church. But one thing that a member told me in Great Falls was that there is a specific order to this scripture! Notice that Alma states that Christ suffered first for our pains, afflictions, and temptations, THEN for us to overcome physical death, and THEN for our sins. So often we think the Atonement is JUST for repenting of our sins and asking for forgiveness. This is true, but it's SO MUCH MORE. It's the center of everything we want to do and be in this life! If you desire to be a better person, which I hope we all do, then we NEED the Atonement. Ask Heavenly Father how you can use the Atonement more so in your life and I KNOW that He will answer you by the power of the Holy Ghost. I say that because it's happened to me!
I love you all and thank you so much for your righteousness and charity towards all of God's children. You're an inspiration to me and help me to focus on improving DAY BY DAY!
LOVES,
Sister Hansen
1) Me on a piano in Merrifield Shopping Center :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

MOVING ON TO ALEXANDRIA!


(DAD note: Hillary has been transferred to Alexandria we found out 11/16/13. Her new address is under "Keep in Touch" on her home blog page)
 
This week has been BANANAS. But busy is good. Transfers are tomorrow and I'll be OUTTA HERE. I'll miss Oakton and it's amazing ward members. It's been a wonderful second area, and I look forward to experiencing more of what Northern Virginia has to offer.
So the Washington DC South Mission has officially started online proselytizing. Meaning, we're on FACEBOOK! I am going to create a new account soon as a "sister" so look for an add from me (or add me): Sister-Hillary Hansen. For those of you who remember, I was EXCITED not to have Facebook for the next 18 months while serving a mission. I was quite addicted when I was home and at college. So the cleanse has been quite nice. Now that we are required to get on, I'm a little nervous! I pray that Heavenly Father will remind me of my purpose and allow me to share the gospel with so many more people through social networking. Our sole purpose of getting on Facebook is to uplift others and help them come closer to Christ. Whether it's members, non-members, less-actives, or recent converts... doesn't matter! So look out for posts from me and be sure to "share" them or "like" them and help your friends find out more about what I'm doing out here and what the message is all about!
We also get iPads and iPhones on December 11th. PRETTY CRAZY.
Sister Mitchell and I had the lovely opportunity of going to the Temple Visitor Center again this past weekend. We went with Carla Mannes, who is a member of the Church from Arizona, and she brought her non-member friend Anne. Anne had a powerful experience in the hospital a few weeks prior when some Elders from the DC North mission were able to give her a blessing. She felt something and immediately became more interested in the gospel. She's read every pamphlet and is working on reading the Book of Mormon. She actually lives in the Oakton boundaries, and we're hoping to be regularly teaching her soon! Anne is a very special lady, who has a strong faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. She's experienced a lot in her life and I can see how the gospel would bless her and her family IMMENSELY. I pray that she will continue to meet with us and have the desire to lay claim on all the blessings God has in store for her!
We also had a lovely dinner a few nights ago with Mrs. Orrin Hatch (Elaine Hatch). Senator Hatch and his wife live in the Oakton ward. Brother Hatch had to go out of town, but we enjoyed the time we spent with Sister Hatch! She's a sweetheart and gave us lots of yummy food to take home. We invited Sister Hatch to introduce herself to her new neighbor! Let's hope she does it! Inside scoop: Her and Brother Hatch wrote each other his entire mission and never went on a formal date until they got married. Too cute!
Well, I love you all! Thanks for the prayers and support - it means everything! I read Alma 5 this week, and I absolutely LOVE these verses. I use them quite often out here on my mission, but I think they'll be my favorites forever. Verses 45 and 46:
45 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.
Alma Jr., who's talking here, saw an angel in his younger years, but he NEEDED to feel the Spirit in order to know if any of this was true. So don't underestimate the Spirit, whatever you do! No... you didn't make yourself feel that feeling or think that thought. It is and always will be Heavenly Father communicating to you what is right and true. So grateful for this precious gift and pray each day that I can learn how to use it more in my life!
LOVE YOU ALL!
Loves,
Sister Hansen

LOVING THIS FALL WEATHER!

 
I am LOVING this fall weather! It is getting a smidge chilly, but overall - a LOT more pleasant than the humid summer. I am grateful! I actually took a picture of how wonderful and beautiful the leaves here are - enjoy (I know I do)!
This week, we found two new investigators! David (44) and Barry (40) are brothers, and Barry has Down Syndrome. We found them tracting back in early September (our second week here!). We had given them a Book of Mormon and went to check back on them repeatedly. We would set up return appointment after return appointment, only to have them always fall through. However, David was sincere and really DID want to meet with us so this time - it finally happened!

The lesson was powerful, and you can tell that they both felt the Spirit! As we asked David how he has felt the Spirit most in his life, he said that being with Barry has been such a blessing to him. He feels that he's learned so much from Barry's kind heart and forgiving nature. So tender! When we shared Joseph's First Vision, we asked David what it would mean to him to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He said, "I'm open to it!". These were all good signs that pointed David to the direction of saying "Yes!" to baptism, even after he had a previous concern of already being baptized in the Methodist church as a baby. The conviction he had as he said "Yes" prompted us to put him and Barry on date for November 30th.
They agreed! Unfortunately, the two brothers are extremely busy with Scouts and Special Olympics but they were able to come to church last week. We're praying hard that they'll read from the Book of Mormon and feel the Spirit so that they will know for themselves that this gospel is true. Yet again, member support is HUGE here, and one of the reasons is that David and Barry are of simple financial means. They don't have a car, so a member was able to pick them up for church and for the lesson we had. All in all, I'm VERY excited to keep teaching these two wonderful, humble gentlemen. Before we left, David asked very kindly, "So am I able to get this priesthood?" AW! We explained that he could after baptism. I'm so excited to see their progression over time. Pray for David and Barry!
In other news, have I told you about Ms. Maxine Dennis? If I haven't, shame on me. This woman is (and I say this lovingly) - CRAZY. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and has been a member of the Church for 12 years. She has had CONSTANT struggles with the Word of Wisdom since a couple months after her baptism. However, Maxine has a STRONG desire to go to the temple finally. So we're really working with her on "cleaning" up her act. It will be hard, but I know she's capable! She's just a little bit (a lotta bit) stubborn. This is a picture of us in her office. She's on the Board of Directors of a cooperative owned by HUD. This is the place where we hold our ESL class, which is still going great by the way!
We had interviews with our mission president this week and he focused on talking about our work with members. We're going to focus on teaching them the missionary lessons so they have a better understanding of the basic doctrine and can, therefore, teach it to their friends! A scripture that the Oakton Stake is using for their theme next year is Jacob 1:7, which states:
7 Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest...
 
We must PERSUADE them to know about this gospel! There is no other way. I think a lot of members get nervous that we're trying to convince people into something they don't want to do. But if we contemplate how it's blessed OUR lives, we should want to help them have it in ANY way that we can.
 
Thank you ALL for your love, support, and prayers. I feel so blessed!
LOVES,
Sister Hansen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!


I'm sorry I don't have very fun titles for my e-mails. My creativity doesn't extend that far. This week was INCREDIBLE though! So much has happened, I don't even know where to begin... but I'll try :)
So we saw A LOT of Elena and her family this week - good sign, right? We hope so! We're working on members stopping by in between our visits and lessons so that she doesn't just have to see/talk to us, but that she can makes friendships with those in the ward. We went to dinner (at IHOP - Chicken and Waffle... YUM) with Elena and her daughters on Monday and brought a member that lives on her street. It was great! A fun, relaxing atmosphere where we could talk about how she liked church, etc. We eventually found out that Elena's main concern is with being baptized a second time. She was baptized as a Christian into the Russian Orthodox church at 27 years old. She feels like it would be a "double standard" to be baptized AGAIN. So... we knew we needed to teach about the priesthood.
On Thursday, we had a lesson at the Bratts house. Brother Bratt served his mission in Ukraine but spoke Russian, so he love chatting with Elena and she loves it too! We talked about the priesthood - what it is, why it's important, and how it will bless her! Elena has been suffering with pain from her past cancer surgery, where some nerve endings were damaged. She received a priesthood blessing from Brother Bratt and another member of the ward. The Spirit was strong and though I think she felt it too, she didn't like to admit it too much :) I think it's something she'll remember forever though. Plus, Brother Bratt offered a prayer at the end in Russian and I think that made her feel the Spirit even MORE!
Then on Friday, we went to the Temple Visitor Center with Sister Erickson from the ward, who is also a single mom and suffered a bout with cancer. Lana and Liza LOVED the temple! They thought it was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. We got it set up earlier with the Visitor Center to provide a Russian sister missionary to lead our tour. Elena was SO EXCITED! It warmed her heart, I know. We watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration - which is definitely a powerful movie. We realized then HOW MUCH information we've been giving to Elena and that we hadn't really asked much about her understanding! So that's what we'll focus on this upcoming week.
At the Trunk or Treat party on Saturday, Elena and her daughters came, but ALSO Sun Jung and her family! I was SO SURPRISED! Because they don't know much English, I was afraid they would be too shy to come. But they CAME!!! Her little daughters loved all the games and candy. They met MANY members, all of our Korean speakers in the ward, and even considered coming to church the next day (though they did not). But it was so successful! I love activities like this where EVERYONE feels welcome!
We have definitely had a blessed week. We want to focus on finding more investigators this week because all of our time and attention has been centered on Elena and Sun. This is good, but there are more of God's children waiting to hear the message! So we have to go find them.
I find myself using this quote by Elder Richard G. Scott A LOT when talking with members, non-members, and other missionaries about the Atonement. This was said by him just this last conference:
"The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy."
I am SO GRATEFUL for this knowledge - to know that God looks upon my weaknesses not as rebellion, but with mercy! I hope you all remember that. Don't be too hard on yourselves, but be hard enough that you have the desire to improve.
I love you all! Thanks for your prayers and support - it's working!
LOVES,
Sister Hansen
 
Pictures:
1)TEMPLE! Sandwiched between us are Lana (7), Elena, and Liza (9)
2)Sun Jung and her family at Trunk or Treat!

"There can be MIRACLES, when you believe..."!

I know I've used that song lyric before as a title, but it's because it's TRUE. And because I always love a good Whitney [Houston] and Mariah [Carey] duet :) Anyways, we've experienced some powerful changes this week that I'm so incredibly excited about!
First, I'll talk about Sun, our Korean investigator. She read even MORE chapters in the Book of Mormon and even told us that she's understanding it more easily now. Of course, she had a question about why Nephi just HAD to kill Laban, but who doesn't, right? Haha We focused our lesson this week on addressing the Spirit and helping her learn how to recognize it. We asked how she feels when we meet with her and she said she feels "comfortable". DEFINITELY a feeling of the Spirit, if I do say so myself! And the fact that her comprehension of the Book of Mormon is increasing is another Spirit indication. I'm so grateful for how the Spirit works in SO many ways!
Because we only meet with her once a week, we knew we needed to take it to the next level. So we had a member of our ward, Brother Featherstone, meet us in front of her apartment. He served his mission in Korea and still knows the language quite well. We didn't know WHAT to expect when we knocked on the door ('cause we didn't plan this visit with her), but her husband opened it (who we haven't formally met) and he tells his wife "Oh, your missionaries are here!" She got so excited!!! She let us right in (which I was a little shocked because there was us, Brother Featherstone, and a laurel we had out on an exchange with us - 5 people total!). But it all worked out :) They let us in and gave us apple cider. We got to know her husband a little bit and chatted with her cute little Korean daughters too (9 and 6 years old)! Turns out, the husband would LOVE to learn about what we're teaching Sun, but he is incredibly swamped with full-time school and work in DC. We understand, and we KNOW that as we continue to teach her, she will share with him what she's learning! I'm excited for that day :)
So here's where our BIG miracle comes in - Elena (our Russian potential investigator) is now our ACTUAL investigator and even came to church on Sunday with her two daughters. And stayed ALL THREE HOURS. I was on an exchange with a Sister Training Leader, Sister Paramore, on Tuesday and we stopped to see if Elena had read any of her Russian Book of Mormon. She said she had glanced at it, but that she wanted us to stay and teach her daughters about the Ten Commandments. Soon enough, Sister Paramore was inviting her to church and we were teaching doctrine! She said she would come and we could meet with her that Friday. One of her daughters, Liza, is 9 years old and is now a new investigator as well! So on Friday, we watched the Restoration movie with a member family and it was powerful. Definitely something that resonated with Elena, Liza, and Lana (her 7 year old daughter)! They all enjoyed church and we are having dinner (and a lesson) with them tonight at IHOP! Please pray for this family - there are some tough struggles they need to overcome before they fully let the Spirit in and realize that this gospel is the TRUTH.
I'm so grateful to have met the people that I have on my mission. Members, non-members, acquaintances, EVERYONE. At church on Sunday, I just had a little Spirit-induced epiphany and thought "I am so blessed to be surrounded by these people!" Especially Elena, to see how members have helped her thus far and how they will continue to look out for her - no matter what happens. I KNOW that this is Christ's church, full of His disciples, because I have seen countless examples of His love come from these faithful members.
Continue doing what you're doing and just as we learned in Conference, look for how you can "improve day by day"! Your influence does more than you realize. Remember that!
LOVE YOU ALL,
Sister Hansen
 
Picture: This picture was taken at our Day of Service Activity. We're standing with the Elders that we served alongside last transfer, Elder Day and Elder Munton. BOTH are from Southern California... figures! haha

Friday, October 18, 2013

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY.....

 
LUCKILY... the rain did go away. Did anyone see the forecast of the East Coast lately? What a nightmare! We had three straight days of just DOWN-POUR. Not a light mist, but a heavy fall. It was CRAZY. I went through 6 pairs of socks and 3 pairs of boots in 3 days. Absolute mayhem. BUT... it has stopped and the beautiful Fall weather has set in. The leaves are changing and I'm LOVING IT!
 
 
So I know that I mentioned that our teaching pool is lacking right now. But I think I failed to say that we do have ONE investigator - and she's PROGRESSING! Such a miracle. Let me tell you about her:
 
 
Her name is Sun Tuang and she is from (you guessed it) South Korea! Just like Huneok (who we got to see, by the way. He is moving to Ballston, VA this week - SAD). She has lived in the US with her family (husband and two little girls) for two years while her husband goes to school at Georgetown and works. She is the CUTEST. Unfortunately, we can't understand much of what she says and she can't understand us :( We bring our Korean member so that helps A LOT, but we are really learning how to teach simply! So we were able to get her a Korean Book of Mormon in the hopes that she understood the importance of it and would read it. Found out at our last lesson that she read 4 chapters! FOUR CHAPTERS!!!! This is huge! Haha I was so excited. She said that she was confused, but in my mind, I thought about how the Spirit guided her to read the word, even if she didn't understand much of it. THANKFULLY, we picked up Korean pamphlets and this should help us in our teaching. Pray for Sun and her family!
 
The majority of our work is with less-actives. The one I told you about last week, Monica Charmok, is doing SO WELL. She joined the church 18 years ago and was only active for 2 years. And though she's thought about going back for a long time, something always stopped her. Monica told us last week that she feels closer than she's ever been. She suffers from anxiety and depression, so going to church can be difficult for her. BUT we missionaries are good at starting with the basics. We are getting her to pray VOCALLY (remember that counsel?) and to read her scriptures each day - we know that this will REALLY prepare her for entering into those chapel doors again. She even told us last week that she was once on track to enter the temple and how she desires to have that be her goal again. AMAZING!
 
 
I feel so blessed to be working with Monica. She reminds me a lot of my beloved Sister Bradshaw from Great Falls. Missionary work extends to more than just baptisms - I'm a firm believer in that, CLEARLY! Haha but seriously, I can see the Spirit work within these women and its changing their lives! All they need is someone to show them and a lot of love and support from the ward. I feel blessed to be a part in their returning back to that which they once loved and knew to be true. It's humbling really - take nothing for granted... especially the GOSPEL!
 
Thank you so much for all of the love and prayers! I feel them all! Have a wonderful week and enjoy the FALL - before it's gone!
 
 
Loves,
Sister Hansen
 
 Picture:
This is our Zone at "Gifts of the Heart"! It's an annual event where members of the church donate things they don't want and it turns into this GIANT one-day thrift store where less-fortunate members and nonmembers can take stuff home for FREE. It's really cool! We got to help out :)
 
 
 

WHAT A WEEK!

WHAT A WEEK!
So something I failed to mention at the start of last transfer is that Sister Mitchell and I (who are still together and in Oakton!) have been assigned to teach an English As a Second Language class (ESL). These types of classes are HUGE in the DC area because there are SO many different nationalities. Well, this week was our first class! We hold it on Fridays in the morning and afternoon, an hour each. We have it in the community center of a government housing project called Yorkville in Fairfax. This complex is comprised of nearly 90% political refugees and most of that 90% being from Somalia. So no English... no matter how long they've lived here. It's a challenge! But I LOVED IT! It was SO MUCH FUN. I taught students from Morocco, Korea, Pakistan, China, and Lao. It's so cute to see how HARD they work on they're English. Some take notes and everything. We even had two ladies come to BOTH classes, just so they could learn more. One lady from South Korea thanked me for speaking so clearly and being a good teacher... warmed my heart! I LOVE being surrounded by so much diversity. Probably, hands down, the best part of this mission.
For conference this weekend, we had a miracle! We watched Saturday morning session as a less active's house. Her name is Monika Charmok and she joined the church 18 years ago, but has been less active for a long time. She has some anxiety and depression issues, so I wish we had watched Elder Holland's talk with her! But we actually found out THAT DAY that this was her first conference she had EVER watched. AMAZING! She currently has a roommate (temporary) who is from Arizona! Her name is Carla Mannes, and she is a HOOT. She is a member of the Church and really helped get our Sister Charmok involved in this conference session! So grateful for her. So grateful for GREAT members!
Well, I really did LOVE conference. I don't even know where to start with my favorite parts. But I was looking over my notes today and something jumped out at me. It was from President Uchtdorf's talk, when he responded to "Why join this church?" The first point he mentioned - "Because it is a church that was restored by Christ HIMSELF." Have you ever thought of it that way? I don't think I have. We tell people all about Joseph Smith and his role in the Restoration, but none of that would have happened had Christ not appeared to him in the first place! But I LOVE THAT. This is HIS church and it was brought back in HIS time, with the partnership of our loving Heavenly Father. It's incredible!
I'm so grateful to be a missionary at this day and time. Thank you all SO much for your love and prayers. I know I say this all the time, but they mean the world to me!
LOVES,
Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
1) This is Hermana Ward! Who I went on the Spanish exchange with. She's da best!

TARGET FUN!



HELLO ALL!
This week went by EXTREMELY fast. We had lots of meetings and different things going on.One of the meetings was a Half Mission Conference, where we talked about the baptism goal as a mission for the rest of the year. The goal is for 166 baptisms - one per companionship per month. YIKES. Sister Mitchell and I are ready to WORK. We've lost most of our investigators this week due to different reasons, so we're ready to find the ELECT.
 
So we had exchanges (when you mix-up companionships) with the Spanish Hermanas from Spring Lake Ward! They went really well! Hermana Stanford came to Oakton to help Sister Mitchell out - that's when they found us a new investigator, Jerome! (Who we now have to drop because his wife won't let him learn :( ) And I went with Hermana Ward to Sprink Lake. It was great! I wish I could have been of more assistance in the language department, but I could actually understand MOST of what was being said. Hermana Ward asked one of her investigators who she would like to say the opening prayer during a lesson. She offered herself and a member that was present as "Espanol" prayers or me, an "Ingles" prayer. Her investigator chose me! Haha so I said a very simple prayer in English and though I know her sweet spirit couldn't understand too much of what I said, I hope she felt the Spirit!
We had a miracle in bringing a referral from the Hermanas to the New Member Fireside last night! We called him at 6:30, got a member to pick all us up, and went an hour later! I've never seen the work hasten so quickly! Sadly, we had to hand him over - but to the Oak Marr sisters... WHOM WE LOVE! (They live in our complex and we give them rides everywhere because they're on bike). So I couldn't be happier. Can't wait to work hard to achieve this baptism goal - we're gonna make it!
I so appreciate all of your love and prayers. I feel them everyday! Some days, I find myself so EXCITED to go out and find people, even though I know rejection is inevitable, and I really think it's because of the prayers you're sending my way. So THANK YOU!
Again, apologies for a short message. Next week will be of more substance :)
LOVES,
Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
Us messing around in Target :)

PRAY VOCALLY



HELLO ALL!
 
This week went by SO fast. Can you believe transfers are in a week and a half? So insane. Sister Mitchell and I have NO idea about what is going to happen. She wants to train again (not because she doesn't like me [maybe], she just loves being a trainer) and I... don't know what I want! Haha but what I FEEL like is going to happen is that I will be staying in this area at least another transfer. A missionary pointed out to me that there are "mover" missionaries, that get transferred every few transfers, and then there's "stayers" - like me. Great Falls for 6 months, Oakton for... who knows! I do love the ward and have a strong desire to increase their own efforts in missionary work. We'll see what happens!
 
So a woman I have yet to tell you about is Elena Novikova. We met Elena outside as she was doing some lawn renovation in her front yard. She is originally from Moscow, Russia and has been in the states for over 10 years. She has had a VERY VERY sad and hard life. And because she's quite the talker, Sister Mitchell and I have tried to listen and be supportive to her. But after visiting her about the fourth time, we FINALLY had a lesson with her! By the end, she wanted to read the Book of Mormon, and she offered the closing prayer! We were so elated.
 
...But then, we went back to see how she was doing and it was not good. She had been crying, saying that she recently had talked with her relatives in Russia who want to practically disown her because of decisions she's made. She even told us that she tried to open the Book of Mormon but the Holy Spirit told her not to (doubtful)... that it's not HER book. SO DEPRESSING. She feels a sense of loyalty to her family and the Russian Orthodox church. After all this, we said a prayer with her and then she dismissed us. We still keep in touch with her and pray for her daily. It's hard to see someone who could use the gospel SO MUCH and then to deny it. Please pray for Elena, that her heart will be softened!
 
A miracle we had this week was when we were in an Elena's neighborhood actually, and we saw someone parking a U-Haul outside her house. We were so confused! We waited for the person to come out and then went up and talked to him. Turns out, his name is Amit (ah-meet), and he lived around the corner but needed a place to park his U-Haul for the night. He is originally from Nepal and his wife just moved to the US one week ago! As we taught him a little about the Restoration, he says "You need to help my wife learn English!". We told him we'd love to! He then said "How about right now?" So he takes us to the apartment where they're living, which is with his wife's sister and roommate (and their children). We spend the rest of the night teaching about the nature of God, the Spirit, and prayer! Renu, Amit's wife, was so great. She enjoyed the lesson and took hold of the chance to practice her English. So much so that she offered a prayer in English at the end! It was simple and beautiful.
I hope you all took my challenge to pray vocally. It really is life-changing, and I notice it's power now more than ever with my investigators. But what's so important to go along with that prayer is the SPIRIT. We were asked to memorize more scriptures on our missions, so the one I chose this week is D&C 8:2-3:
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.
How AMAZING is it to know that the Spirit we feel when we pray and when we receive revelation is the SAME spirit that Moses had when he performed this almighty miracle?! I love how God works. He's no respecter of persons. There aren't multiple kinds of Spirit, testifying of Him - JUST ONE. And we have it, or at least can feel it! Seek it throughout your day. It is there, I promise.
 
I love you all! Thanks for YOUR prayers on my behalf. They bring the Spirit into my life, even more so! Have a wonderful week :)
 
Loves,
Sister Hansen

PICTURES:
1) My new LONG nails! I'm a happy girl :)

BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!

 
Seriously though guys! It was an amazing week. THANK YOU for all of the birthday wishes! 22 feels old, though I know it's not. The mission is just so... young. Haha nonetheless, I had so many kind missionaries and ward members wish me a happy birthday! It felt nice :)
The BIG event of the week though was Friday - Zone Conference and NATIONALS GAME. To start with Zone Conference, we learned about the importance of having investigators offer a vocal prayer in the lesson. It can be difficult because the Bible technically talks about praying in "secret" and in your "closets". But how HUGE of a step it is when we DO get someone to pray out loud! D&C 19:28 talks about how praying vocally is a commandment! So this is something we're working on applying more in a our lessons. Had a great example occur this past week:
We found a new investigator! Her name is Geeta, and she's a busy mom of a 4 year old son, named Darin. She is Hindu and comes from Mumbai, India. We found her tracting and talked about prayer, the nature of God and baptism on her door step. She invited us to come back a couple days later, where we were able to bring a member with us! Well, the time came for us to have a closing prayer and we asked her to offer it. She seemed a little hesitant, but then asked, "What if you said a prayer first? Then I can model my prayer after yours!" We were excited! I said a short, slow prayer, asking for the Spirit to remain and testify. Then SHE said a prayer, expressing thanks for her family and for us. It was TENDER! Our member was so excited that she prayed, that she start light clapping as soon as the prayer was over hahaha. But the Spirit was there, and Geeta felt it. We look forward to seeing her again really soon!
Now to the NATS GAME. What a TREAT!!! Since it was only three days after my birthday, I considered it a birthday game. It was INCREDIBLE! Being there with the whole mission, talking to everyone, people seeing our tags and asking questions, riding the Metro at midnight and being so swamped... IT WAS THE BEST. It will be such a great memory for me! I have met so many wonderful missionaries here and love spending time with ALL of them. Heavenly Father knows I love baseball and friends... He truly blessed me this week :)
To repeat what I said earlier, I know the importance of praying out loud! Think about it... we can write our testimonies down wherever we went, but when we get up and say our testimony in sacrament meeting - how much more powerful is the Spirit? To vocalize our testimonies is to bring the Spirit one hundred-fold! The same goes with prayers. Always have a prayer in your heart - I'm working on that as a missionary. But I challenge all of you to say at least one vocal prayer a day. Keep that Spirit present in your life!
Love you all and thanks again!
LOVES,
Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
1) Happy Birthday to me! Hahaha this is at a member's house for dinner. Sister Mitchell made it known it was my birthday, so the lovely member put a candle in my vanilla pudding :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

TIME FLIES!

Holy cow, this week has gone by so insanely fast. Sister Mitchell talk about that so often - how fast the mission is going! I want to make sure that I'm learning all the lessons that I should be learning before time is up. Nonetheless, I love being tired at the end of each day and thinking about all the people we met and hopefully made an impact on. Helps me to know that I'm doing what God would have me do.
This past week we taught Huneok again! He hadn't read the chapter we assigned him because... he can't read in English. He told us he could! So I'm not holding it against myself :) Haha BUT our Korean ward member gave him a Korean Book of Mormon, so we read with him the chapter we assigned. It was Alma 22, about Aaron and King Lamoni's father (I think? Forgive me, I get characters confused sometimes). Anyway, Lamoni senior wants to know if there's a God and Huneok recognized how he is similiar to Lamoni senior in that he has that small desire as well! Unfortunately, the desire isn't as big as we would like him to have yet, but we keep promising him many blessings in regards to knowing there's a God.
How amazing is it though to know that we have a loving Father in Heaven? But how easy is it to forget that knowledge when you get too wrapped up in the day to day living and the sadness/stress of life? It takes WORK to know that your Father is there - praying, reading scriptures, going to church. These things bring that Spirit which allows us to feel that He really is watching over us and guiding our paths. We just have to put our acts of faith FIRST, and KNOW that blessings will come.
So anyway, Huneok... PRAYED AT THE END! It was in Korean, so I couldn't understand any of it. But the Spirit was strong! Our member later told us what he had said and he prayed to "please help me to see how this will help me". YAY! We were very excited. We look forward to teaching him again this week.
I'll have you know that I acted in TRUE missionary fashion and rode my first BIKE this week! YES. I was on bike from 3pm to 9pm last Thursday. It was amazing... and hard! But I actually did like it. Gives you a lot of time to think and ponder. But we met some amazing people that I'll tell you about next week (maybe) :)
As for updates, WE GO TO THE NATIONALS GAME THIS FRIDAY NIGHT! And guess what? DC North mission is going also. AND we are dressing in our proselyting clothes (typical - suits and skirts/dresses). So there will be a total of 500 Mormon missionaries at the stadium. How amazing is that? Look for me on the jumbotron! I'll be wearing a bright red skirt and blue and white rugby shirt (yes... I've already planned to wear the appropriate Nationals colors :) ) We also have zone conference on the same day (in the morning). So it will be a LONGGG but exciting day :)
Thank you all for your love and support. I love my mission so much and can't imagine being ANYWHERE else right now! Your prayers have helped me to be confident and strong and I deeply appreciate them.
LOVE YOU ALL!
-Sister Hansen

LIVE IN OAKTON

Hello all!
 
This past week has FLOWN. A lot of things are going on and the work is getting exciting! We're hitting the pavement quite often, but blessings are unfolding right before us! Sister Mitchell and I each have very different strongsuits, so we're working on utilizing them to the best of our abilities so that we can leave this area better than we found it!
So last week, we actually found two new investigators! One is actually a former investigator of the Vienna Ward. It's an Oakton recent convert's daughter. Her name is Bell - she is 21 years old and works at Victoria's Secret. (So retail hours make it a little difficult for her to put church as a priority). We didn't expect to teach her that day! We were visiting her mom, who had just gotten home ten minutes prior, and she mentioned that her non-member daughter would be over any minute! We got excited. She came in and was SUPER nice! She talked about what the Elders used to teach her and invite her to do. So we invited her to take out her Book of Mormon again (AND download it on her iPhone) and pray to know if it is true and HOW it can bless her life. She said she would! We asked if we could see her before she left on her vacation (with her boyfriend and his family :/ ) and she told us Friday (of this last week)! We were excited that she wanted to see us before leaving, especially so last minute. But sadly, it wasn't able to happen. We will definitely get into contact with her when she returns! And focus on helping her feel the peace and security she is looking for!
 
We also found another investigator through... TRACTING! Shock. Not really :) But his name is Huneok (Huh-nook) and he is from Korea. He was a very nice man and said quickly that he was Buddhist. We asked him how being Buddhist has blessed his life and he said that he gained PEACE. Well... we told him that there was MORE peace to be had in his life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He mentioned he was busy but said to come back the next day at 6pm - and come back we DID! And with a Korean member by our side! So incredibly helpful. During our lesson, he admitted to wanting to meet with us mainly to work on his English. We said "Sure! That works for us! Let us teach you English through these messages!" He agreed! Turns out he has a wife and child that are back in Korea and he will be moving back in April. So we have 7 months to change this man's LIFE! He doesn't believe in God, so we're helping him come to that understanding. I'm so excited for the day when he realizes that he DOES have a Father in Heaven that loves him and his family!

We're already seeing so many miracles here. I feel very blessed! I know that as we keep relying on the Lord, He WILL direct our paths. Exhaustion is so real, but so is the Spirit... and its what keeps us going everyday! Speaking of the Spirit, I am currently in the Isaiah chapters of 2nd Nephi in the Book of Mormon (yikes). But I've found some golden nuggets, for sure! One of them being 2 Nephi 21:2 -
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
Talk about some SERIOUS blessings. As we rely on the Spirit, we receive wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge of the Lord... all of these things I truly want! So I will work on praying mightily for the Spirit each and every moment of my mission so that I can do God's will and not my own.
Thank you all for your love! ENJOY BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!
Loves,
Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
1) Sister Mitchell and I went to the temple yesterday! Wonderful experience (and yes, we saw the new video :) )
 
 

HELLO OAKTON

 
YES. I am in a new area! And YES... it's only five miles away from my old one :) Haha but I have to tell you what happened at transfers -
So Sister Udall is training this transfer and my MTC companion, Sister Mitchell, had a trainee who was ALSO training this transfer. But neither her or I were training. So we had to sit with a BUNCH of other missionaries who had to wait for transfer meeting to start, as we waited for these companions to have their "trainers" meeting. So Sister Mitchell and I spent nearly four hours together. Chatting about our areas and companions and what we think is going to happen at transfer meeting. It's great! I haven't got to spend that much time with her since the MTC, so it was pleasant.
Then transfer meeting starts. Her and I, naturally, are sitting next to each other. President Riggs starts calling out the stakes, in alphabetical order. Each stake goes by and my stomach is tossing and turning, not knowing what is going to happen. Who will be my companion?! WHERE AM I GOING?! Finally, he gets to the LAST stake - Oakton. So I figure, "Okay, I'm in Oakton!" Then I hear my name called so I stand up, so nervous. President Riggs then says "You will be paired with Sister Mitchell as co-senior companions" EEEEEE!!!!! I got so excited!!!!! She was sitting right next to me and stood up and we hugged! Hahaha we were so stoked that we didn't hear where we were going! Hahaha so we had to go ask the Assistants. Silly us!
So we are serving in... Oakton Ward! As the brand new set of missionaries. The Zone Leaders have been serving in this ward and still do, but the work is so on fire here that they got a set of sisters - US! What does this mean? It means we start from scratch! No area book, potentials, former investigators, NOTHING. Pretty daunting. But we're here for a reason, right? So lots of prayers to be had to find those who are ready and willing to hear the gospel!
Went to the ward for the first time on Sunday. SUCH nice people! And a VERY active ward! Senator Orrin Hatch is in our ward (haven't met him yet though), and our bishop is the top heart surgeon at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He even took a class from Russell M. Nelson in college! Lots of lawyers, just like my last ward, and foreign service guys. Feels very familiar to me! I look forward to getting to know them all!
Well, I don't have much to write this week because everything is so new. But I want you all to know that this gospel is TRUE. Sometimes I talk certain things out with my companions and we always say, "The gospel just makes SENSE!" And it does! In my mind AND heart! That's the important part. I'm so grateful that this Church was restored by Joseph Smith - I can't imagine my life without the blessings of the gospel! I hope you all cherish it as much as I do and PAY ATTENTION to how the Spirit works in you! That is how you'll be confident of your testimony!
Love you all!
-Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
1) Me in front of our new apartment! YAY!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I WILL BE LEAVING GREAT FALLS!

 
Yes, it's true. I will be leaving the lovely Great Falls Ward come Thursday! Sister Udall will be training, and I'm headed elsewhere. I'll find out ON transfer day where I'm going, so I'll let you know next week! Pretty jittery about it, since I've been here for six months and don't know anything different, but I'm excited!
We picked up a former investigator named Phil Stone! We found him on Saturday after SIX YEARS of no contact (at least, that's what the record says). He is such a sweet old man that is always on a serious spiritual journey! He remembers a lot of what the missionaries taught him in the past and agrees with a good deal of it! But like many of the lovely people in Virginia, he does not like rules (AKA organized religion). He LOVES God and Christ, but doesn't grasp the importance of rules. So I bore my testimony of commandments using what I had just read that morning from Elder Perry's conference talk "Obedience to the Law is Liberty". I told him that the commandments are COUNSEL from a loving Heavenly Father. He seemed to like that. We asked if he had read the Book of Mormon and he had read a little, but didn't understand it. I asked if he read AND prayed about it. He admitted he hadn't. I find that with most people we meet that have read the Book of Mormon - they never PRAYED! I told him that he can't know spiritual truth until he prays, which agreed to. So he said he will read the Book of Mormon, starting from the Introduction, and PRAY to know if it's true and how he can understand it better. Can't wait to follow up with him!
Just last night, we had a wonderful event! I don't know if I have ever mentioned the New Member Fireside or not, but we have those right before each transfer. At these firesides, new members of the Church get up and share their conversion stories and testimonies. It's SUPER powerful and spiritual because EVERYONE comes from such different backgrounds. Well... we had Eric Murray speak at it! We helped him write his talk the week before. He did SO great! Eric has a learning disability so his talk was quite short but still so powerful. When we assigned him to write his own talk, he told us he spent an hour on it and we looked down to find only a paragraph :/ But he read it to us and the Spirit was STRONG. My favorite line of his was:
"The Sisters asked me to read the Book of Mormon and then ask God if it was true. So I did and the answer was yes!"
Haha He's so precious. We took one last picture with him last week. I'll miss this big teddy bear! But we had SO MANY ward members come out to support him. Probably around 5 or 6 families/couples, including Bishop! It was incredible. I truly love this ward and am going to miss it so much!
I wanted to share a chapter I came across this week in 3 Nephi. I don't remember ever reading this, but I loved the message it was getting across. Chapter 23 talks about the importance of RECORDING the spiritual experiences we have, directly from the mouth of Christ! I recommend reading the whole chapter (it's small) but I've concluded a three-step process from it: Learn, Record, and Teach!
LEARN: 10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.
So after Christ asked why they didn't record Samuel's prophecy, Nephi replies with this. He tells Christ that we were "fulfilled" by his prophecy, so we didn't need to write it down.
RECORD: 13 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded.
Then Christ scolds him for his response and commands him to write it DOWN!
TEACH: 14 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them.
Most important step of ALL! After we record our experiences, we can't learn from them until we teach others about what we've gained! We're told that constantly as missionaries (because our calling is to TEACH).
I'm grateful for this little golden nuggets of guidance found ALL OVER the scriptures! It's what makes me realize that its truly God's word.
Thank you all for the love and support! It means everything to me! Have a great week!
Love,
Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
Me in front of my FAVORITE neighborhood in all of Vienna: Maymont (look it up on Google maps)

NEW LETTER MAILING GUIDELINES

Hello All!
 
Thanks for all the love and prayers in regards to the goals I mentioned last week! Nail-biting is going well! Only picked at one nail the first day and haven't looked back. I would send a picture BUT... my cuticles are another story :(
SO we received some breaking news from our mission president regarding mail. It is as follows:
As of May 2013, the Postal Inspector from the United States Post Office (USPS) has instructed the mission office that we can no longer forward 1st class mail free of charge. With this in mind, please note the following changes in our mail policy effective immediately:

1) Please let your family and friends know they will now need to send mail directly to your apartment;

2) After this upcoming transfer, any mail received in the office will be given to your Zone Leaders at the following Mission Leadership Council (held on the first Thursday of each month) OR will be handed out at the next Transfer Meeting (whichever comes first);

3) On the Monday of Transfer Week, please notify your family that you will let them know by email on Friday whether you were transferred or not. If you ARE transferred, then you will notify them during the Progress Record Time of your new apartment address. Ask them to hold onto the mail for that week until they receive your email on Friday;

4) Fill out and submit a "Change of Address Form" through the USPS each time you are transferred so that your mail will automatically be forwarded to your new apartment.
(Hillary's new address on address on adjacent "Keep in Touch" page on this blog)
And thank you everyone for the mail that I DO get! It makes my day, my week! Hope these changes to halt anything too much.
I don't have much time to write this week, but I will share a touching experience. So LAST Monday, we met with Brother Craig Jones. He has been a member of the Church since 2000. He grew up in Logan, with in-active parents, and his grandmother always encouraged him to read the Book of Mormon. Though he never did. UNTIL his son began investigating the Church when he was in high school (because of a girl, no less). As his son was baptized, then going to BYU, then going on a mission, Brother Jones found it to be the right time to finally read the Book of Mormon. It was a spiritual journey for him! He has a strong testimony, but has had some difficult hardships. One of them being his divorce three years ago. And his son (the one who first found the Church) is always overly-critical of Brother Jones whenever he "slips" up. The poor man is NOT receiving the support that he needs!
We knew he had been working on Sundays, so we wanted to see what was up so we could help him re-gain his testimony of faithful church attendance. Well, because he is a single man, we had to have a lesson on his front porch. The bugs were annoying, but want to know the worst part? The outdoor concert venue known as "Wolf Trap" is just minutes away from his house. So you can hear EVERYTHING when outside. And guess who was playing that Monday night? THE FRAY. I'm not a big fan of them, BUT they started playing radio hits as soon as the discussion was getting spiritual. SATAN WORKS SO STRONGLY. Mind you, this is the DAY after the 40 Day Fast where we made those goals to NOT get distracted. And yet, here was this HUGE distraction. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to help me pay attention so I could address Brother Jones' needs. And thank heavens, I was able to tune it out (for the most part), long enough to commit him to come back to church! He agreed and we wrote down on a sticky note the testimony he gave to us of why he goes to church in the first place. It is:
 
1) To keep me focused
2) To stay on the straight and narrow
3) To feel the SPIRIT
 
We gave it to him to remind him of what he knows to be true. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I'm also EXTREMELY thankful for the Spirit and how strongly it can bear witness to people of our faith. Without the Spirit, we'd be nothing. How wonderful God is to give us this gift so that we can feel His power directly while here on Earth.
LOVE YOU ALL! Thanks again for all your prayers and love. It's what a missionary survives on - I'm sure of it!
Love,
Sister Hansen

Monday, August 12, 2013

40 DAY FAST??

Hello All!
 
This week was pretty incredible. We got to teach many lessons and though these are people we may/may not see again, it was such GREAT experience. Still being a trainer, I get worried that my little Sister Udall isn't getting enough teaching opportunities. So this week helped us!!!
One of the lessons was with Bethany Cuttahee and her daughter, Jessica. It was referral from a member family (their neighbor) who are about to move to Austria this week! We stopped by the house, and Bethany let us RIGHT in! They are a very STRONG Catholic family, meaning they have great morals and values that they like to live by. You can tell that Bethany respected the Rhees (the member family) a lot, and her daughters will miss their kids. Well, we ended up giving her a pamphlet and asked her to read. She said she would! We will check back on her this week. In the MEANTIME, a NEW member family has moved into the Rhee's old house. This is the Sutton family, and they are HILARIOUS. Four out of the six people in that house bore their testimonies on Sunday and had the congregation roaring. But it was appropriate laughter, don't worry :) But BOTH the mother and father are converts to the church AND served missions! They also have a son who just left to serve in Jacksonville, FL Spanish speaking. Anyways, this family has ALREADY met the Cuttahees and plan to be those inviting and helpful members to pick up where the Rhees left off. How cool is that?!
So this week, we were given a challenge by our mission president to rid of those things that keep us from focusing on the work. He calls it the "40 Day Fast". We started with a fast yesterday to find out what things we needed to correct. Then for forty days, we will do ALL we can to keep ourselves from succumbing to these distractions! It's amazing to think of how often missionaries will be thinking of other things (not necessarily bad/inappropriate things), but then waste that time by not thinking of the work or the people their teaching! I've come to realize that as I hone my thoughts in on my missionary efforts, the Spirit is MUCH more inclined to show me EXACTLY where to go, what to do, and what to say!
Here are the things I am ridding of for the REST of my mission (not just forty days):
1) Soda
I sometimes will get a drink whenever we get gas, and I actually think about soda pretty often. So embarrassing. SO I will only drink it IF we go out to meals. And that's it!
2) Dance
I think about dance A LOT. Especially if a beautiful song comes on, with lots of piano and instrumental. I start thinking of a dance to it. Hahaha and I'm not even a good choreographer! So I'm quitting that and will think about the beautiful, spiritual song lyrics instead.
3) Musicals
Gosh, I love musicals. And I love to sing them. But no more! I will be singing hymns from now on... wish me luck!
4) NAIL BITING
GUYS!!!! I'm going to STOP biting my nails! I'm already two days in, and it's hard. But for some reason, I feel more strength this time around. I am forever DONE with biting my nails!
So that is my list. Please pray for me on these things, for they will NOT be easy. I desire to do the Lord's work and put my WHOLE heart, might, MIND, and strength into it. And you want to know what our celebration/reward is on the 40th day?
OUR ENTIRE MISSION IS GOING TO A WASHINGTON NATIONALS GAME ON SEPT. 13th!!!!!!!!!!
I'm so excited, I can't think straight. My mission president knows me so well :)
Thank you for all your love and support! My companion showed me a scripture that hit me real good this week about how we overcome burdens through Christ. Mosiah 24:14-15...
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
So even though our burdens may still be there, we don't have to FEEL them in our lives! How amazing is that? We know we need them to learn and grow, but the effect of their presence can be lifted through Christ's Atonement. I know that to be true.
I love you all!
 
Loves,
Sister Hansen
PICTURE:
1) Hermana Bethany Hartt! She left for the Mexico City MTC on Tuesday and will eventually be in the California San Fernando mission. She's going to be AMAZING!