Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Protecting angels - CHRISTMAS MIRACLES

One crazy week. When I was talking with my family on Christmas day, I started hearing a lot of fireworks when Rachel got on the phone. It was a hot day and I´m pretty surprised we didn´t have the door open a crack with the fan to cool down the apartment, but later I realized it was a huge tender mercy. When I hung up the phone, there was pounding on our door and I opened the window to see a police officer asking to enter our house to go on our balcony. He then ran away when something else caught his attention. We looked out the window upstairs to see two police officers beating and arresting a man on the roof next to ours. Our neighbor had been shot in the leg and taken to the hospital (he´s okay now). We remained in the house until the noise calmed down outside and then went to our normal day activities. We stopped by a family a little later and the wife just hugged us. She told us that six armed robbers had a shoot out with the police right outside of our apartment, the sound of fireworks was actually gun fire. She was very scared because one of the robbers entered into our little aisle way and she thought he had entered our apartment looking to escape. I had a huge pit in my stomach as I thought about the armed robber desperately entering our apartment, looking for an escape. The closed and locked door was the reason he climbed up our neighbor´s house. It was a blessing and miracle that we were protected, all those stories about angels protecting missionaries are very, very true.

Santa Lucia Christmas Baby

One of our recent converts called us also on Christmas, being just short of 9 months pregnant we urged her to call us when she needed anything. We practically ran to her little house above her store to find her exhausted. She didn´t say anything, but just led us to a room where we found a new born baby covered in blankets on the concrete floor, just over 24 hours old. She gave birth to him alone in this room and called us just because she wanted to hear a message. We read her the story of Christ´s birth in Lucas 2 and it was unbelieveably realistic as the humble birth of Christ was quite similar to the humble circumstances of this new baby. We cleaned her house and dishes and it was one of those moments when the beauty of life is ever apparent. It was the second Christmas miracle that we saw. But miracles are actually just blessings from God, and it felt like He was guiding us very closely all Christmas day.

I want to extend an invitation to all those who read my blog. Attached is a reading chart of the Book of Mormon that I am following every day to finish for General Conference. A lot of you have asked me why I´m on a mission and I would like you to follow this reading chart and find out for yourself. As missionaries, we are lied to, rejected, cursed out, told to go back to our own country and even robbed. But not a single person that I have taught in this past year, who has read this book and prayed can (or has) rejected the truthfulness of it. Read with me and know of the reason why people leave everything they have to serve Christ. And if you´ve already read it, read it again with me. And whether it´s your first time asking God if it´s true, or maybe your second or your third time with a growing testimony, or the 20th time, ask Him again. I will be asking with all of you on April 4th and I promise every person who does this with me, will be changed for the better with the answer you receive. I love you all and part of me wishes I was there to celebrate all this past week, but my heart knows it belongs here for now. Please read with me before the next conference, it will also help me have more strength I need for this second half of my mission.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve in Guatemala - - Nochebuena

I never thought I would be waking up to Christmas Eve with the sound of poor pigs in the process of becoming the pork for tamales. Or a gecko climbing over my head, or cockaroaches in our cold bucket shower. I also never thought I would have the honor of being asked by a woman who has no way to communicate through computer or phone, to inform her son serving in Nicaragua that his parents were married and baptized early Saturday morning. It was a day I will never forget as we walked out of a small lawyer's office and walked straight to the chapel, with white clothes in a plastic bag, ready to be worn for their baptism. Their second son was able to baptize them, being a convert of two years, and waiting for more than two years for this date.

Before my mission, I had the thought that since God has blessed me with a beautiful life, I could sacrifice 18 months to serve my Savior. I realize how naive I was. I thought a mission was a sacrifice and it would help me to "pay back" a tiny bit of the "debt" I owe to him. But these last ten months, I have only grown into way more "debt" with him. These last ten months have changed me, the blessings are so grand that this time cannot, in any way, be considered a sacrifice. It is easy to get lost from the real meaning of Christmas, but it's impossible to forget the real meaning this year. As much as I long to be with my family today and tomorrow, there is no place I would rather be than here. I will spend the day teaching humble people about the real meaning and inviting them to follow a path that leads to true happiness, so it's not a sacrifice to be here. This is a Christmas I will never forget.

After our lessons finish at 9 p.m., we are allowed to stay out until 12:30 tonight in the house of a Priesthood leader. Tonight is a bigger celebration than tomorrow and they switched P-Day to tomorrow, so I won't go out to work until 5 in the afternoon. And we will be spending tonight in our Branch President's house with his family. Everybody is super excited for "Noche Buena" and we have been invited to eat tamales at about 23987235 different houses. There are Christmas lights up and music playing everywhere. One little thing I've noticed is that I haven't heard "Santa Clause" mentioned all week, but I have heard "Christ" mentioned every single day. Their focus is strong in this pueblo in Guatemala.

We did get packages last week and I want to say a very special thank you to Angela and Mom (I got both of yours :), the Garry family, and the Roberts. I received your packages and as far away as I am, I don't feel far away from you this week. You guys aren't allowed to miss me until the 27 of Diciembre, because every day on my mission has become a gift and there is no better way to spend Christmas and my birthday. I love you all and miss you, but I will be home even sooner than I would like. Have a FELIZ NAVIDAD!
I never thought I would be waking up to Christmas Eve with the sound of poor pigs in the process of becoming the pork for tamales. Or a gecko climbing over my head, or cockaroaches in our cold bucket shower. I also never thought I would have the honor of being asked by a woman who has no way to communicate through computer or phone, to inform her son serving in Nicaragua that his parents were married and baptized early Saturday morning. It was a day I will never forget as we walked out of a small lawyer's office and walked straight to the chapel, with white clothes in a plastic bag, ready to be worn for their baptism. Their second son was able to baptize them, being a convert of two years, and waiting for more than two years for this date.  (photo of is the N and V leaving the lawyers office after getting married - they are on their way to the church and baptismal font.)
 Before my mission, I had the thought that since God has blessed me with a beautiful life, I could sacrifice 18 months to serve my Savior. I realize how naive I was. I thought a mission was a sacrifice and it would help me to "pay back" a tiny bit of the "debt" I owe to him. But these last ten months, I have only grown into way more "debt" with him. These last ten months have changed me, the blessings are so grand that this time cannot, in any way, be considered a sacrifice. It is easy to get lost from the real meaning of Christmas, but it's impossible to forget the real meaning this year. As much as I long to be with my family today and tomorrow, there is no place I would rather be than here. I will spend the day teaching humble people about the real meaning and inviting them to follow a path that leads to true happiness, so it's not a sacrifice to be here. This is a Christmas I will never forget.

After our lessons finish at 9 p.m., we are allowed to stay out until 12:30 tonight in the house of a Priesthood leader. Tonight is a bigger celebration than tomorrow and they switched P-Day to tomorrow, so I won't go out to work until 5 in the afternoon. And we will be spending tonight in our Branch President's house with his family. Everybody is super excited for "Nochebuena" and we have been invited to eat tamales at about 23987235 different houses. There are Christmas lights up and music playing everywhere. One little thing I've noticed is that I haven't heard "Santa Clause" mentioned all week, but I have heard "Christ" mentioned every single day. Their focus is strong in this pueblo in Guatemala.

We did get packages last week and I want to say a very special thank you to Angela and Mom (I got both of yours , the Garry family, and the Roberts. I received your packages and as far away as I am, I don't feel far away from you this week. You guys aren't allowed to miss me until the 27 of Diciembre, because every day on my mission has become a gift and there is no better way to spend Christmas and my birthday. I love you all and miss you, but I will be home even sooner than I would like. Have a FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

new city, mice and geckos, wedding and baptism, love and sacrifice

So I am now in a new smaller city (sorry I have to take out the names on the blog :) . I am in the house notorious for being the worst house in the mission. With the mice and geckos and insects and shower and mosquito larvae in the water, I'm not surprised. BUT we cleaned all P-Day and now the house is OK.
The new area is crazy hot and different but I already love the branch. The most exciting news is that we are planning a wedding and a baptism on Saturday for a family. Their sons were baptized two years ago but the husband didn't want to make the commitment to be married or baptized...these last two years have changed him and they will be making both of those commitments on Saturday. One of their sons is currently serving a mission in Nicaragua. I can only imagine what he feels like. There isn't a better Christmas present in the world than the knowledge that your parents are making these steps. I am so honored to be here to help them these two weeks leading up to Saturday.

This email is pretty short but I also got mail last week! Big thanks to the dearelders from Paige and Cole and Dallas. And the letters from President Hixson, Terri Lamp, the FHE package, Dad, Rachel, Aaron, the Traina Family, Mom, the Collings family and Jeanette Hixson. AND THE PACKAGES from Mom and the siblings and Sean Allsop. THANK YOU SO MUCH, I could feel all of your love and I really appreciate the support I have from home to be out here. Until next week!
Love and sacrifice - This woman lives in the house you see in the picture with her family and her extended family (13 people), but she wanted to show her love to Sara.  She bought her NEW SHOES. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Leaving my heart in San Pedro

Goodbye to San Pedro it will always hold a place in her heart. These Sisters are all wearing cortes.
After 6 months of miracles and challenges and experiences that I will never forget, I have changes on Wednesday.

I am a little sad about leaving the area. My whole mission, whenever we worked on 12 semanas, we completed questions and the question "I feel genuine love for those who I teach" really stuck out to me. I have done that specific quiz more than 10 times but I never felt comfortable putting a "5 out of 5". For the first time this week, I was able to circle a 5 for this question. I have so much work left ahead of me with the attribute of charity but the glimpses I have seen in this attribute the last 4 or 5 weeks have changed my life and my very perception of God's view on his children.

Sunday was very bitter sweet. We find out on Monday mornings who has changes, I was 90% sure I had changes the last couple weeks. Sunday was hard to look around and see all of the people that have become family that will be so hard to say goodbye to. It was one of the best Sundays on my mission to see Isaias and Jorge bless the sacrament together, both people that have showed me the mercy of Heavenly Father through the Atonement. And after church, Jorge was able to give me a priesthood blessing before I leave the area. I will never forget his story. I view him as one of the most amazing men I have ever met in my life. Strong testimony, loving, funny, happy, sweet...I don't even remember the man we met drunk on the street many, many weeks ago. And when the memory does come, it's only in amazement to how far he has come. It helps me realize how Heavenly Father views us, who we are and who we are becoming, not who we were. It reminds me how Dad told me to see people the way Heavenly Father sees them. I'm starting to learn how to do that.

When we made smores last week, my companions told me that Antonio asked them how to say "hacer" in English, along with a few other words to learn a phrase in English to say to me. He paused and thought for a couple seconds and said, "So I could say....Thank you everything. You to make my family very happy." I didn't know it would be so hard to tell their family that I have changes. When I said goodbye to my own family, I was able to say something like, "I'll see you in July or August of 2014" and there is a lot of comfort knowing exactly how long a goodbye lasts. That's why goodbyes are so hard here, I'm not sure how long they last or if it's solo para una vez. Since Antonio is working late tonight, I had to say goodbye to him last night. It was the first time I had seen tears in his eyes and he said, "We will always be waiting for your return. And if it's not possible for you to return, we will luchar as a family and see you in a place greater than this." I'm not sure how I'm going to have the strength to say goodbye to the rest of his family. Before my mission call, I had a thought that couldn't leave my mind. It was a mental image of me putting my favorite "SD" hat on a beautiful Latino nina. I had a strong impression that I was going to a place with children that looked like her, but was sad when my call packet was so small, which I thought implied I was going somewhere stateside. When I opened my call and read "Guatemala", the mental image came back and I knew I had to pack my hat. The little girl I saw in my thoughts didn't look like Marcela when I first met her, but now when I think of this mental image, I can only see her as this little girl and I will be giving away my hat today to her.

I love this place. I've always been a "heart guardar" but I really lost it here in San Pedro. But it feels like the capacity to love just grows more when you give away more and more of your heart, it's kinda funny how that works. I love this message that I can share. Any sacrifice that the mission took is nothing compared to the knowledge that there is a family here that I could be an instrument in helping find the path to be an eternal family. All I want for Christmas is that all of my family and friends can use these weeks to find a testimony or the Restoration or re-find their testimonies. Christ died for us, but more importantly, He is still living for us. And we need to live for him. Talk to you guys next week!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A gift of love and sacrifice -

This week was one of the best weeks of my life. It started as a tough week; my ribs are still really hurting and I just hate feeling sick. I'll admit, I was a little bit sad on Thanksgiving because I wasn't able to be with you guys. But on Thursday when we went over to Hermana G for lunch, a member from our branch welcomed us in and told me, "Hermana Hansen...Hermana G cooked really delicious things for lunch! There's chicken and potatoes and these things that look like tacos but they are really sweet." SHE MADE MY MOM'S ORANGE ROLLS! It was so delicious and I didn't feel so far away from home.
We then walked up to San Gaspar and there as a lady that looked like G from the back. It made me a little sad because I really missed her family, on top of missing my own "blood family". The lady turned around and I realized it was G, who had returned with her family that morning. It was so exciting to see her, it made my Thanksgiving day the best one of my life. Yeah we were missing turkey and football and thanksgiving runs...but it didn't matter because I felt like I had my family here with me. 
I also realized how much I have to be grateful for. On Friday, G told me she had a small gift for me. Behind her back, she was holding something and said, "My husband and I have talked and decided to buy you these to try to say 'thank you' for everything you have done for us." She then gave me a pair of new shoes, which I know was a huge sacrifice for them to buy. It was the best gift I have ever received and it means so much to me, and I know it also means so much to them.
Last night, we taught their family more about "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" with their extended family to help them have more unity. I also wanted to teach them how to make smores so we tied everything together. The marshmallow was the faith and prayer, two things which are essential to a successful home. The graham crackers were charity and forgiveness, because without those, our prayers are in vain (just like the marshmallow would be useless without the crackers). And Christ was of course the chocolate, the most important part. I pray for their family so often that it seems like I'm praying for my own family.
And with their return, they still think I'm part of their family. Not only J, but also M is starting to accidentally call me "aunt" and their dog follows us around. The other night it followed us to different appointments and we couldn't lose it, walking probably more than a mile to different places. Changes are coming up this next week, I am not excited for the upcoming dates, it feels like I'm leaving my family again. But I will willingly leave because maybe their is another family like that of Gladis and Antonio, who are ready for this change in their life. I love my mission!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Volcano



This picture was taken while the missionaries were eating lunch in a little crepe restaurant on their p-day.  I guess it is not abnormal to watch a volcano puff while you eat!

Sick missionary :(

I have to keep this short because it's Wednesday, but we got permission really quick to write. Yesterday we went to the capital because I had to go to the hospital. All is fine, I just had bronchitis and the heavy cough triggered a nerve in my ribs and was causing a lot of pain. I'm happy to be back in San Pedro and not on the super crowded buses for 3 hours to get to the capital! I am wearing a pain patch and have antibiotics and all will be better in a couple of days.
One of the best things of my life happened on Sunday. We had our stake conference on Sunday and.....JORGE RECEIVED THE MELQUISEDEC PRIESTHOOD (I don't remember how to spell that in English). I am so incredibly grateful to have been in this area long enough to have seen this day. He literally feels like an older brother to me and a huge part of my heart will always be left here in San Pedro and San Juan.
I don't have much more time to write but I will write again next Tuesday. Love you all!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Caramel and cough drops

Sara is teaching M to play a childs game. LOOK at these joyful faces

Hello everyone! So a couple weeks ago was Hermana Larson's birthday and she loves caramel so I had planned to make the Hansen style rolly-ups (crepes) and include some with nutella and banana and others with caramel. I had seen caramel at one of the little tiendas up in San Juan so my companions and I passed by a few and asked if they had caramel. They all said they didn't have any but they offered me cough drops in place of caramel...After the third store owner tried to convince me to buy cough drops, I said, "No, I want to buy caramel. These cough drops are like medicine when people have colds." The man then roared in laughter and said, "These aren't medicine! They are mint flavored!" Haha it just makes me laugh because everyone here eats cough drops like they are jolly ranchers.
Yesterday for our P-Day, we played futbol with the Hernandez family and I understand even better why Latinos have a stereotype for being champs at soccer-they got SO competitive and the adults would push their little kids out of the way to get the ball. We played on a dirt field with two goals lacking nets and a plastic little ball but it was one of the most fun games I have ever played!
I am feeling my mission changing me a lot these past few weeks. Last week was a little rough with investigators and recent converts denying spiritual answers that they have already received. My heart literally ached for them. I have cried few times in my mission but for the first time, I truly felt like Nephi in the last chapter when he said he prays for the people in the day and his eyes weep at night. I wasn't discouraged, it was a feeling that I haven't quite felt before. But it was a feeling that inspired me to look harder for ways to improve to help the people more. It was a feeling of charity, maybe just a glimpse of it but I am trying my best to keep developing it.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to have our two planned baptisms this Sunday but we did have miracles happen on Sunday. Claudia, an investigator we first met in July was finally able to attend church! I had thought of stopping our visits for a while since she lives with her boss and she doesn't have permission to go to church, but I had the feeling that we needed to keep having patience and have continued visits with her. And after having two special fasts with her, she was able to attend this Sunday. She had saved money for weeks to pay as a fast offering and had it tucked in to her Bible. She had tears in her eyes and she told us how much she had loved the service, I am so grateful we were able to keep visiting her. Also, Juan was preparing to be baptized on Sunday but told us he had to go to the capital to meet with a lawyer because he was having legal problems with his finca. We explained how if he put God first, everything would work out, but he was still set on missing church to go to the capital. On Sunday morning, we passed by to pick up a family of recent converts and he was outside of his house, waiting to leave for church. He simply told us, "I am putting God first...and then I will go to the capital after church." He attended church and then in the tarde, we passed by his house and to our surprise, he was there! He called us over and excitedly told us, "I have decided not to go to the capital...I am not worried about my finca right now because I have a better lawyer" (he told us while pointing up) "And I am spending my afternoon reading the Book of Mormon. I feel so happy." It was truly a miracle to see him and Claudia both put Heavenly Father first, it's crazy how much pure happiness I feel when I see the faith of others working. I love being a missionary.

p.s. To answer a question that I have received from more than ten different people...yes, there are iguanas here but not hippos here haha. I have seen about four wild iguanas, and aparently there are North Americans that are hiding a pet lion and monkey living in San Juan haha.
 

M's dog posing in front of her home.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

a new Leader Misional and the story of J.

Another week of miracles. We are working with two brothers that have SO MUCH FAITH, they have a don to believe and their desire to follow Christ with exactness is incredible. They are both in their fifties and they are both preparing to get baptized together this Sunday. They were both contacts we had a couple weeks ago, one was in a bus and the other in the street. We found out they were brothers after the first couple lessons and now they are both preparing together. When we explained the Word of Wisdom, they both committed to never drink coffee ever again and I, the younger brother said, "I won't ever drink it again! And when Satan tempts me before, or after my baptism, I'm going to take my belt and give him chicote!" Every single thing we have taught them, they put it in practice immediately in their lives and we are very excited for this Sunday for them. I am SO grateful for the blessing that we were able to find them.

These last 5 months have been a little challenging with having such a small branch, it's often overwhelming because it feels like we receive little help. But with the new branch president, there have been many changes (new presidencies of all of the organizations!) Including.......A LEADER MISIONAL! We finally have a leader misional, which will really help with the work. And to make things even cooler, the leader misional is J! Being such a recent convert, he is so strong in the branch and is really leading it and helping it change. And he is super excited to help us work!

I haven't included many funny things in my letters recently, but I promise that we are having a lot of fun here! I thinks it's just because the things that I used to think are weird, are now normal (people cooking chicken heads, helping people make corn tortillas, the crazy buses and stories, the dogs sneaking into church, the funny things the members do, etc.) But I'll write something funny down and include it in my email next week 
 
I am including the story of J - I do not believe I posted it here and it is a beautiful story. These are Saras words - 

I first met J R C soon after arriving to S P. He is a single 40 year old man, with a Catholic family and a strong belief in God. He had recently quit drinking and received the pair of missionaries before me when they knocked on his door. He continued on with their lessons, preparing for his baptism and learning about the gospel. Unfortunately, two hours before his baptism, it was made known that he had been drinking alcohol the night before. When he found out he couldn't be baptized, he went into a very depressed state and fell heavily back into alcoholism. 
We passed by his house every day and even his own family didn't know where he had gone. About two weeks later, we saw a homeless man on the street, smelling heavily of alcohol, with eyes of depression. I turned around after we passed him, to recognize that is was our investigator, J. He was unrecognizable with loss of weight and with worn clothes, but he was still the child of God that had had the desire to follow Christ. It was July 17, 2013 when we found him on the street and, too intoxicated to understand words, we gave him a sticky note reminding him that "It's not the amount of times we fall, it's the amount of times we can get back up." 
 
Nine days later, we received a call from him and the following day, on July 27, we were able to visit with him again. He told us how he had never felt so alone during these weeks, but through it, he never wanted to be that far from Heavenly Father again. He acknowledged how Satan had attacked his weakest point and how only Christ was the way that he could return to the path of Heavenly Father. He started a dedicated study of the Book of Mormon, and regained his physical strength so he could fast for help to overcome his addiction to alcohol. Starting with this day, on July 27, he has stayed as far away from this temptation as he possibly could. He was nervous to attend church but quickly came back, despite the rumors in the small branch. He received a priesthood blessing on July 28 and also gained a testimony through the power of the priesthood. With the powerful stories in the Book of Mormon, he gained strength in his challenges and continued preparing to enter the waters of baptism.
 
I have never seen anyone trust in the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change their life so dramatically as he had. He realized who he was, and how he needed Christ in his life, and he gave up everything to make it through the process of repentance. He was dressed in baptism clothes 22 days later, on August 18, after going through the hard darkness and returning back to the path of Christ. He bore the most simple, sincere testimony, declaring how he had finally felt clean and forgiven through the Atonement of our Savior. When we went to his house the week after his baptism, I asked him how his study was with the Book of Mormon because of the questions he always has. He told us, “I actually haven’t read that much because I’ve been memorizing something…” When I asked what it was, he brought me his Book of Mormon and opened it up to Moroni, chapter 4 and 5; the Sacrament prayers. After receiving the Aaronic priesthood and after days of memorizing these scriptures, we were able to see him kneel down in our humble chapel and say the prayer to bless the sacrament. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so tall as when he was on his knees, with the priviledge and authority to bless the sacrament. I truly love being a missionary here. I love this góspel and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the only way through which we can truly repent and return with honor. J has attended every week since his baptism, and is also helping us in the mission work. He is preparing to receive the Melchizedek in November and is a great support to our small branch here. 
 
He feels like my brother and if he was the only person that was touched in my year and a half of service here, it was worth every sacrifice I have made to be here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A real shower!

Okay so I'm sorry my emails have been pretty short lately, but it's a good sign because of how busy we are! In the last two weeks, we received a new branch president and numerous new callings in the branch, I had divisions in San Lucas, the wedding, the baptism, announcements of transfers (Hermana L is leaving the area, I am actually really sad but I know that people need her in a different area), these weeks have been crazy! Also, on divisions in S L, I had my first real shower in four and a half months! (We use a bucket shower in S P...), and I also saw my first squirrel (besides the one pinned to the wall of our investigators house...) I also realized that I haven't seen carpet for over 8 months, other than that, Guatemala feels normal again :)
We are teaching a few new people, and we had three new investigators attend church on Sunday! This next month should be another good one. We went on divisions with G on Sunday! My companions went with another member to teach lessons and I went with G to visit a few people. She is so strong in the gospel and she said, "Thank you for letting me come with you, I just love helping people realize how much God loves them." Her testimony is so strong and I am so grateful I had the privilege to teach her and help her prepare for her baptism. It amazes me how much the gospel can change people!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

THIS WEEKEND WAS SOOOOO GOOD! And so incredibly busy, I spent a day in San Lucas for divisions and the next day we had our Zone Conference. I then came back to San Pedro and we had the wedding of G and A! It was crazy planning literally everything-food, flowers, cake, location, lawyer, quests, EVERYTHING! It was going to start at 2 on Saturday outside of the chapel...and it started pouring rain when the bells started to ring at 1:59, so we had to move everything inside of our humble church but it as still beautiful. Before their baptism interview, we were doing our practice interview with the baptism questions and I asked A what the Law of Chastity was. He replied simply, "It's two people coming together as one to follow Christ." Which is exactly what they did this weekend; they married Saturday and were baptized and confirmed Sunday (their daughter broke her arm and needs surgery so we had permission to confirm them Sunday in case they aren't able to attend the next week). 
Time is finishing because I had to send all of the photos, I will write more in detail next week! Love you all!
wedding of G and A


                                     Baptism of G and A  - one happy family.


                                                happy Sister missionaries :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Cia" Hansen

This week has been a week of little miracles. While walking along a street, I asked my companions if one of them had contacted any contacts close by because our appointments had fallen through. They found a contact of a woman who lived on the street and when her son answered the door, he said his name is "Nefi Moroni". Bahaha, we found a family of inactive members who gave us their address! We taught them a lesson and quickly found out some of the reasons why they hadn't gone to church. We picked them up Sunday morning and walked to church, where they were welcomed and greeted by our little branch. They attended the baptism that we had on Sunday and her son attended a priesthood meeting, and today the mother is going with us to teach some investigators! I feel so blessed for being put in her path and seeing her come back so quickly to church after so many years. The church really does feel like a home and when they remember that, they want to return back.

Also, Hermana Rosa was baptized on Sunday! Her mother was baptized with her children a couple of weeks ago and now she could finally be baptized, also. That is the 6th member of their family that I have seen  baptized in the last two months! And with G and A this Sunday, it will be a total of 8. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this family. G and A have four children, J D(who has already been baptized) and three more. Their youngest daughter is still learning how to talk because I think she just turned 2. She knows a few words and always calls me, "Cia." I thought she was just confusing me with my old companion, Hermana G and so I continued on helping her learn how to say "Hansen". But then on Sunday, after I made her repeat "Hansen" about ten times, and then when I asked my name, she still said, "Cia." So I asked her mom, G "Why does L J still think my name is G?" And she laughed and said, "She's not calling you 'Cia', she's calling you 'Tia'". (English translation: "Aunt".) It would be impossible not to miss my family when I'm here in Guatemala, but it would be impossible to have a desire to leave my new family here to go back home. We are still super busy preparing for the wedding of G and A on Saturday but everything is falling into place and it should be a beautiful little ceremony, I can't wait!

And for those reading my blog and preparing for a mission. BUY A BACKPACK! I know they are not attractive to be carrying around all day but the Spanish scriptures are bigger than English and your back will kill you if you don't invest in a good backpack. I have bought a total of 4 different "backpacks" from Guatemala but they aren't as sufficient as going to Costco and buying a good one. Also, don't invest a lot of money in clothes. There are "pacas" here and sometimes we buy skirts for about 2 dollars, way cheaper then the DownEast 30 dollar skirts. But do buy a lot of church socks to go under your shoes, and when you tell your mom you thinks you have enough, believe her when she says you don't...bring many, many pairs because they get lost even easier in Guatemala than the states.

We have been teaching a new woman and her three children, and they attended church the first time on Sunday! When we had a "movie night" with the Restoration, and afterwards, she asked, "Where can I buy that DVD?" We are very excited to be in this area and I am loving every day, even when the days are a little tough. I love Guatemala and I love my mission and I love this message and I love the opportunity I have to share it, hasta luego!
Hermana Hansen

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Conference, a wedding, and wearing tails of pigs

I'm sorry for not being able to write last week. Our mission was asked to write a story about one of the people that we have taught and the challenges they went through to send to President Eyring. And my story was picked to send to him! I had to put in more specific detail and dates and he will be reading the story of J soon! :)
This week was AMAZING! It's so weird to think about how exactly a year ago, my life changed with the knowledge that I was now able to go on a mission sooner than I had anticipated. This last year has been the best one of my life. G and A had a super rough week and on Saturday, G told us that she no longer wanted to marry A and told me about the problems they were having. I told her, "Before you make that decision, go to general conference in the morning and listen. It might not be the words they use, but you will be able to receive an answer on what the Lord wants for your family." Their family was early Sunday, in the Antigua chapel, 30 minutes away, to hear conference. A was wearing a tie that he had probably saved up money and bought for conference.
When we passed for them in the night, we asked them what they thought about conference and if they had received answers. G paused and said, "I learned this morning that Satan just wants to destroy my family. But there is now nothing that can stop me from returning to my Heavenly Father...with my family...and with A as my husband. I will marry him." And then A said, "After hearing the way that President Monson talked about his wife......I will marry G and I will be baptized." It was my favorite night that I have ever had in my life, thinking that on October 19, they will be married. And on October 19, 2014, they will be able to enter the temple and make an even more important promise to keep their family together forever. Weeks earlier, during Sunday school, we were using the gospel principles book to talk about baptism. I looked down at G's book to see a splattered candle drop on the page talking about the baptismal covenant. I can't imagine when or which night she was reading the book past dark with a candle, but it is safe to imply that she has been ready for baptism for a long time.

On a funny note, G also thinks "pig tails" is the funniest and weirdest way to explain a style of hair. English really is funny in Spanish, but wearing "tails of pigs" as your hair is just weird.

On another note, I love my mission. I love my life. I love Guatemala. I love the people here. And I love my Savior who has allowed me to be here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Just pictures

Sara did not have enough time to write a  letter today but she did send some pictures. She is loving her mission right now and loves her two new companions.
"helping" hermana Gladys collect lena. THAT WOOD IS SUPER HEAVY. Never offer to help them carry it because it will hurt your neck and back for days. And they will be stronger than you, no matter how old or weak they look


Walking to district meeting this morning. - Antigua -

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pepian Soup

I LOVE MY TWO NEW COMPANIONS!!! They are so willing to work and love the people already and are so patient in learning their Spanish. The first day they arrived, we went to go visit the family of Gladys. We entered the dirt garage where they live and I saw her sitting on the ground with a pot of water in between her legs, and something light brown. I quickly found out what it was when I realized her roosters weren't tied up to a post anymore....she was plucking off the feathers of her dead rooster! I asked why she was doing it and she simply said, "The dog killed them...so now I'm making pepian soup." Haha welcome to Guatemala.

Hermana Maria is still super strong after her baptism, despite the challenges she is having (Sara says she is has family problems and very poor, every time it rains her house falls apart) . But every time I ask how she is doing, she replies, "I am very grateful for my Padre Celestial and this gospel." She really is an example of how a person with nothing economically, can have everything they need through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I don't have much time to write but I know this church is true. Even though I am in a different country, this is feeling more and more like home as the people are feeling more and more like family. Have a good week!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's TWINS!

So tomorrow is the reunion of transfers (I think she is thinking in spanish and confusing words here - - - she means to say transfer meeting) and....I will be receiving two new missionaries to train! Hermana Ri is leaving the area to finish her training with another missionary and I am staying here (probably for another 3 months to train them for the 12 weeks). The mission is like a mini-life, I asked one of my friends here how her training was, since she was in a threesome. She told me how I really need to focus on loving them individually so they don't compare themselves. I feel like I'm having twins haha.

A funny story of the week: we had a lesson and you know how some people have bear skins as rugs or deer heads on their walls? Well...this guy had a squirrel pinned to his wall...and when I questioned about it, he told me, "Well, this is called a squirrel. They live in woods and have sharp teeth and bushy tails. They are pretty rare because they came from a group of rats that started climbing trees and jumping. Then they got bigger arms and evolutionized to be squirrels. So this is one of those evolutionized rats." I guess they don't see too many squirrels down here because everybody else in the room thought his explanation was very interesting and normal...hmmmm.

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M.H. - Grandma      C.H - grand daughter  M. H. Grandson
We also had three baptisms on Sunday! The grandma of S and J D, (S and JD were baptised several weeks ago) and two of their cousins. The grandma was probably one of the most stubborn people I have ever met but over time, she really changed. She told us, "The church of Jesus Christ should hav
people like Jesus Christ. My church doesn't have people visit others and they don't have very much love. But you guys are here, away from your families to help us. So I'm going to start going to your church because I have a feeling that maybe it is the true church of Jesus Christ." After attending for a few Sundays, she realized that this really is the true church of Christ and she was baptized this Sunday. I love my work here and I love seeing the change that the gospel of Christ brings in people's lives.

We saw this parade for independence day, Sept 15, on the way to the baptism on Sunday. Our church attendance was very, very low because there were parades ALLLLL day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mini natural disasters

This week seemed like the week of mini natural disasters! The rain here has been CRAZY and sometimes we have to walk mid-calf through the streets to get to our next appointments. I have never seen it rain so hard in my life, and even though I love rain, I was very happy to hear that the rainy season usually ends in October. There was also an earthquake on Friday, but all is fine. I remember how my parents taught me to run to a door frame, away from things that would fall. But the people here run out of their houses and huddle together in a family hug. It wasn't a very bad earthquake but with the sirens and dogs and people in the streets, it was a little hard for my companion because it reminded her of the earthquakes in Honduras.
This last week has been a little hard but when we had our district meeting this morning, one of the missionaries said the prayer and said something that stuck out to me. She said, "Thank you for all of our blessings and challenges." It was a very good reminder how every challenge is to strengthen us and to prepare us for what is to come. This mission has probably attacked every single weakness I have but I am so grateful for all the blessings I have received, and the lessons I have learned through these dificult times. And at the end of every week, I am so grateful that I have another week to be here. Love you all!
Hermana hansen

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

tallest when on your knees :)




JD was baptized on Sunday! He is the son of G and A, the special family that we have been teaching. His parents need to wait until November to get married and baptized but JD made the decision to be baptized now. Here he is with his cousins and brother


TEMPLE TRIP - happy day!
I love this picture Sara  sent - look at these little faces looking up to Hermana Hansen




We had two baptisms on Sunday! For JD, the son of G and for her sister, S. S has been taking lessons from the missionaries and was considered an “eternal investigator” because she always loves to learn but never keeps commitments…until the past month. She is now very strong in her decisión to follow Christ, as well as her nephew, JD. When I asked him how he felt after his baptism, he said, “The wáter was cold…but I felt really good, like I’m a little kid again.”

Another miracle was when we passed by J's house (the man we baptized) to teach him another principle of the góspel. When we got to his house, I asked him how his lecture was with the Book of Mormon because he always has questions on the chapters he reads during the week. He told us, “I actually haven’t read that much because I’ve been memorizing something…” When I asked what it was, he brought me his Book of Mormon and opened it up to Moroni, chapter 4 and 5; the Sacrament prayers. After days of memorizing these scriptures, we were able to see him kneel down in our humble chapel and say the prayer to bless the sacrament. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so tall as when he was on his knees, with the privilege and authority to bless the sacrament. I truly love being a missionary here. I love this gospel and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the only medio through which we can truly repent and return with honor.

p.s. My new favorite investigator is the lead singer in a Mariachi band! He attended the church this past Sunday and loved everything about it. His wife passed away and he has had a lot of problems in his life, but he has a lot of faith in Jesus Christ and he has made many changes in his life to change to follow him.

p.s.s. I got a package form the Garry family!!! As well as dearelders from Paige, Cole, Dallin, Catherine, Jared, Grandma and letters from Terri Lamp, Annie, President Hixson and Austin Nathan. Thank you all so much, getting mail is the best here, I feel like I've had many Christmases these last few months

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Becoming a Chapina?

As usual, things are going well on the mission. There are very, very hard and frustrating moments and there are also moments that I will remember for my whole life. And I know that the hard times help me grow up more than the good times, so I'm learning to know what it means to cherish every moment of the mission. My mom asked me to share a funny story so I'll try to think of one...two weeks ago, Hermana Larson was directing the hymns and I was playing the little keyboard behind her. I always awkwardly try my best to pluck out the hymns that the counselor picks and this time it was "The Spirit of God". The good part is that it is a familiar hymn so it didn't sound too bad when I played it, the bad part is that I think it is probably the longest hymn in the hymn book... and when you are counting how many investigators came to church instead of paying attention to what verse of the song they are singing, it's pretty easy to lose place of what part of the song we are in. So I stopped playing after the third verse and stood up, even though there are four verses...Hermana Larson just started cracking up and so I realized what I had done and just sat back down and started playing again haha.
I feel like I'm becoming more Chapina because I am actually pretty good at making their corn tortillas with my hands. I feel like my future family will be eating a lot of corn tortillas and some of my weird habits from my mission (did you know you can make pancakes and brownies in the microwave?) I love Guatemala and even though there are still days when I miss home, there is something that happens every day here that makes me happy. This work is true and I am so grateful to be a missionary. We are going to the temple as a zone on Tuesday so I will be writing again on Monday. Have a good week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

She's back online :)

J was baptized on Sunday!!!!! It was one of the best moments of my life when he shared his humble testimony at the end of the baptismal service... every baptism that I have had has been very meaningful to me, but this one was a little different because I feel like I have grown so much with him these past 8 weeks.
Before the mission, when my friends or family told me about problems they were facing, I would always try to put myself in their position to see how they felt. I've realized that, even though I thought I could imagine how they were feeling, I was actually really bad at it. This last weekend, my special family here discovered a huge problem. When the mother told me what she found out, it felt like my own sister was having this problem, and it was difficult for my not to cry during the lesson. It's crazy how close people can become by sharing this gospel. Even though I have never even had a problem in my life compared to the people here, the things that they are facing now seem like my own problems. San Diego will always have a piece of my heart but the people of Guatemala have made my heart grow, and there are many big pieces that will always remain here.

We are teaching the sister of G, her name is R. She is a single mother of three kids, with a husband who left her. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and showed her the DVD of the Restoration (it has a little bit of the history of Joseph Smith, the First Vision, and the Book of Mormon). After watching the movie in a member's house, she told me, "I wish I could buy a DVD player so I could watch that movie every day of my life and feel like I felt again and again." They have all received answers to their prayers and R with her daughter, K (10 years old) and M (8 years old) are preparing to be baptized the first of September. (the youngest, W will wait another year since he is only 7). I am so excited for this fecha and this opportunity that I have to walk with them in this path. The church is true, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way we can truly have happiness in this world. Love you all!


Beautiful Guatemala. Mountain on the left is an active volcano.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

important info!!

It has become necessary to stop posting on this blog. If you are interesting in receiving Saras emails please contact me and I can add you to a group email that I have created or leave a message on this post and I can contact you.
Thanks
K. Hansen 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A special kind of love

So you know that man in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" who thinks Windex will solve everything? We have one of those in our branch who thinks salt will cure every illness. With all the bugs here, my legs are pretty unattractive and everytime she sees me, she reminds me that I just need to rub salt all over them and my bites will disappear. It's pretty funny because she always gives me little bags of salt but I feel like they will just make the bites more irritated.
Other than the bugs and the rainy season, we had a very special week. We had a conference with just the Sister Missionaries that occurs once a year. Our mission President is probably the best man (besides my dad) that I have ever met in my life and the conference was beautiful. Of all the things that he could've talked about, he talked to us about self-esteem. He said, "You know what I think? I think Heavenly Father loves his daughters a little more than his sons. Why? Because he sent his sons so that they could protect his daughters. And if he doesn't love his daughters more, it is a very different special kind of love." After the talk, there wasn't a dry eye in the room and it really encouraged all of use to become better.
We had a lesson on Saturday with a woman whose door we knocked. The woman wasn't too interested but I could see a garden worker behind her that was listening but pretending to work. When we finished the lesson, I asked the man if we could visit him one day to share a message. He accepted and we passed by his house the next day. He confided in us that one of his best friends was heavily addicted to alcohol and tried many different programs to stop, but nothing worked. Then one day, two missionaries knocked on his door and gave him the first lesson. He said, "Only God could change his life and only these two missionaries brought the message that could help him." His friend gave up alcohol and was baptized and is now living a happy life. This man has a similar problem and wants to change, after giving the first lesson we challenged him to a baptism date and he accepted. It is amazing to see how people need God in order to really change and have real happiness. I am so honored to be a messenger of a message that can give people a reason to change. We have a Savior that makes any change possible and I love being here serving him.
Hermana Hansen

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reading by candlelight

We had Zone Conference in P this last week and we received mail! I got a package from Steve Rogers and letters from Dallas, Annie, Dylan, Elizabeth Leavitt, President Hixson, and Michelle Dowden. And dearelders from Grandma, Mom, Dallas and Cole. THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH! Although I can't respond (last time, it took about 3 months for a letter to arrive at home...) I love, love, love getting the letters, thank you so much! Grandma asked if my area was like the photo you guys received from the Gainor family. Our area is huge and extends over about 7 colonias. One of them is called S, where the photo was taken. A lot of retired North Americans live here and the houses are unbelievably beautiful. Our lessons vary from teaching in settings like this, to reading the scriptures by candlelight to families who never learned how to read themselves, to an area called S, where Spanish is their second language and their town touches the volcano.
We are teaching a very special family. The parents are waiting for their birth certificates so they can be married and then be baptized. They have four children (two of them are in the picture I sent) and they first met with the missionary that was transfered out when I came in. It is hard for the families when a missionary leaves an area, especially when they have such a close relationship, which is the case with the previous missionary and this family.But last week, the mom told me, "When I found out that one of the missionaries was leaving, I prayed to God that the incoming missionary would be a lot like her and would love my family like she did...and I know that God heard my prayers." This little family is progressing and attending church EVERY WEEK. We taught them what Family Night is on Sunday and when we went to visit them on Monday, we got to watch them have their own family night. It was one of the best nights of my life watching them sing "I Am a Child of God" from memorization and seeing the mother teach a message from something she learned in the Book of Mormon. It made me miss my family a lot but not in a sad way, in a way that makes me want to work harder so I can share this message with more families. I love this gospel and I love this family we are teaching. I love being here in Guatemala and I love this opportunity I have every day to give my best and to serve God.


P-day hike behind a ward members house - - -Lots of dense growth but look at the view on the picture below.

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These are two little boys in the family she has been teaching.




      Walking to zone conference in A with Sister G (from Ecuador)  notice the volcano in the background

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

There will not be a group email from Sara this week. The internet cafe she was in was incredibly slow - and the keyboards were not functioning well so she did not have time to type one. (She has a limited time on the internet and she has to type first to her mission president and parents - then a group letter if she has time) She said she would find a different internet cafe next week. She is doing well - the new 'cook' does something different from her last 'cook' and she is not doing as well with the food -so prayers for her tummy would be wonderful. Thanks

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What do you bring in your pocket to church?

I am loving our little Branch here in S. It is about 50 members and most of them are recent converts. They are super united and very loving...but sometimes they do some pretty interesting things. For example, this Sunday, in sacrament meeting, I kept hearing the chirping of a baby bird. My distracted mind just thought that maybe there was a nest outside the window...I found out this wasn't true when the chirping followed us to Relief Society. A woman in the Presidency stood up and was holding her jacket in a weird way as she started talking to us...I then realized she was trying to hide a baby bird...for all three hours during church. For some reason, I had the mental image of Jeanette Hixson directing Relief Society while hiding a baby bird in her jacket and it cracked me up.

The people in my new area are generally more humble and don't use as many excuses as the people of L.  ("I want to here your message but...the door is locked from the inside so I can't open it..."). The first weeks of my mission, people would talk fast Spanish in front of me so I couldn't understand. But now that I can understand Spanish, they speak Catchicel here! (I'm not quite sure how to spell that.) (Internet says the language is called Kaqchikel or Cakchiquel). I am learning a little bit of the language but so far I only know how to make small talk and to say "hurry" and "dead" haha.

The work is a little bit slower here, we had a pretty rough weekend. I was a little homesick on the 4th of July, but I was able to celebrate by wearing my Captain America shirt and making hash browns from a box. The day I came to this area, we challenged a man to get baptized and we have been preparing him for this last weekend. He has been taking lessons for a while but had a long business trip so we picked up his lessons when he returned (the day I came here). Everything was going smooth until an hour before his baptism on Saturday, when it fell through. He had been keeping all of his commitments for four months but the night before his baptism, things changed. It is extremely difficult to see a grown-man so devastated as he was on Saturday, and he hasn't been in his house or answered his phone since then. It's okay to be sad, but not discouraged on the mission so we are trying our best to find him and help him again.

Besides working with him, we are working with quite a few other people here but the Law of Chastity is a huge problem. A lot of people have testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ but are living with someone that they aren't married to. Coordinating marriages isn't too hard but divorces are more complicated and a lot of people were once married and just stopped living with each other and started living with someone else.

Despite these problems, we are happy working here. The people have so little, materialistically, but they have much more happiness than most of the people I know in the states. I love the people here and am so grateful that I can be here to serve them. The church is true, there is power in the Atonement and there is hope in this message.
Hermana Hansen