Sunday, December 29, 2013


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.
Sister Hansen
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!
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!

Sister Hansen

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


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!

Sister Hansen