Tuesday, December 24, 2013
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.)
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
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!
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
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
|Goodbye to San Pedro it will always hold a place in her heart. These Sisters are all wearing cortes.|
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
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!