Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Life as a training sister

This week was pretty crazy! Being a training sister, we have divisions 2 or 3 times a week and today I will be going to Itzapa. (In Saras mission there are 6 training sisters - which is her new assignment. She is based in the mountains, there is another set of sisters in the coast and I do not know where the third set of sisters is. So 2-3 times a week she works with other companionships) It's an amazing learning experience to visit other peoples' investigators and I am learning a lot from the other hermanas.

Hermana Brewster (her companion) got transferred to Antigua (because a sister missionary went home) ...which means I'm living with the two Latinos now....it's turning out to be really funny. The other day, Hermana Arguello asked Hermana Rios, ´´Why do you have peanut butter? You're Latina...did you eat that before your mission?´´ And Hermana Rios just said, ´´Hey, it's good. Don't judge me.´´ Little things like that keep happening with the Norte traits they've picked up and it's hilarious with the culture differences.

Our new area is HUGE, we have to take tuk tuks all the time. We are doing pretty well, we had 8 investigators attending church on Sunday and we have a baptism coming up for 3 people! They were old investigators that we had found again and after teaching them the Plan of Salvation, they all committed to living the Word of Wisdom and being baptized. It's amazing to have an eternal view, it gives us so much hope. Before Hermana Brewster left, she told me how her best friend had died on his mission during her training (he fell from a 3 story roof in Mexico). I cannot imagine how she must have felt then - but it was amazing to see how she feels now. She has such a strong testimony in the plan of salvation and it strengthened mine so much. Sometimes life becomes really, really hard. But it's hardest when we forget our purpose here. We know that God exists and that His son died for us, but sometimes we forget the reality of it. I am so, so happy to be a missionary and to be reminding people of their purpose. I'm not teaching a new message, I have the privilege of teaching a message that reminds everyone of their true worth. I am so grateful for the perfect plan that Heavenly Father has for us. I can truly say that I know everything has a purpose, and even though we may not know all of the little purposes in life, we must not forget the greatest purpose of this life=to return back to live with our Heavenly Father with our families. I love being a missionary.
Hermana Hansen

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dengue Fever and a new assignment

Antigua Guatemala

Wow, last week was the hardest of my whole mission! I had a high fever for 6 days that literally wiped out my whole body. I wasn't hungry and my muscles were cramped and I felt super faint. We still worked and when I woke up on Monday morning, miraculously my fever had gone down...it turns out I worked all week with dengue fever from the sancodos in the coast. But I'm feeling way better and I learned a good lesson about hard work despite the challenges.

I had changes! I am in Chimaltenango and it is freezing! It's quite a change from the coast of Santa Lucia. I've also been called as a training sister, which means we go on divisions with the other missionary sisters about twice a week and our purpose is to help them and encourage them to keep pushing through any problem they're passing. I'm living with the other training sister, Hermana Arguello (de Nicaragua) and in our house is also Hermana Rios (the first missionary I trained) and Hermana Brewster (de Idaho). I love our new area but I'm a little overwhelmed with the call to be a training sister. It's humbling to be able to know that I'm trusted enough with the responsibility to serve but it's also a little intimidating for all of the details it entails.

Elder Cook spoke to us yesterday in a conference with three different missions. Never have I felt the spirit so strongly before. I thought of the time when Elder L. Tom Perry had lunch with us and I wish I had prepared more and realized how special it was. Elder Cook promised us that every person we love is going to be blessed through our service here, it's crazy all of the blessings that come through missionary service. And I've heard that the best blessings don't come until later in life. I'm very, very blessed to be here as a missionary. I'm so short of being perfect but I am so grateful that the Lord has enough love and mercy to always accept and forgives my shortcomings. I know He loves his missionaries and I know He loves all of his children. This email is kind of all over but the keyboard isn't functioning very well . . . I'll write better next week! (I did go through and clean up the crazy puncuations marks caused by her computer - Kathy)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A week of miracles (another week of miracles :) )

The woman we have been working with, Sandra, is going to be baptized this Saturday with her two daughters! She was really hesitant at first with having her children be baptized and even more hesitant about being baptized herself. After talking about the redemptive power of the Atonement and the guidance that the gospel will be able to bring to her life and the lives of her children, she finally accepted the invitation. Two weeks ago, I told her, somewhat jokingly, that I would give up Doritos if she would give up drinking. They sell little bags for just 35 cents here and the flavor is better than the flavor in the US and I am somewhat addicted. However, the next day she verified if I had eaten Doritos when I verified if she had been drinking. I haven´t eaten them at all these two weeks and she hasn´t drunk at all these last two weeks. It´s just a little sacrifice but it feels even more like we´re walking together in this path. She finally made the decision to let her daughters get baptized after a family night in the District President´s house and the very next day, she simply said, ¨So I´ve thought a lot about baptism. Honestly, I just want the very best life for my family and daughters...and I have no doubt now that this will be able to give them the happiest life. They will be getting baptized next weekend.¨ And then a couple days later, she also took the step of faith to make the decision to be baptized with them. There is no greater amount of joy than walking with someone and helping them come unto Christ. I love my mission!

One of my favorite people is a 76 year old woman named Gregoria. She has one eye and walks with a cane and is a 17 year convert. She also happens to know everyone in our area and loves accompanying us. Besides her love and selflessness, she makes me laugh harder than anyone. She hits the dogs with her cane when they try to attack us and when someone doesn´t show up to an appointment, she gets really mad at them. However, this last week she surprised me by going up to a group of drinking men and asked them if they were done with their bottles. She then dumped out the remaining alcohol and smashed the bottle so she could recycle it...I had to find a bag so she could save the bottles because she had planned on just carrying all these bottles with us. She is sooo funny!

Also, they have the prettiest sunsets here. There are sugarcane fields seperating two of our areas and we can´t be in the upper area after dark so we often walk through the fields at sunset. The air has a scent of the burning cane from other fields and the far away smoke makes the air heavy and the sun and clouds a very beautiful red color. I´m not homesick at all but I do wish you guys were here with me to see it. I´ll take a picture of it one of these days.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A taste of Iguana and the case of the bread snitcher

This is one of the people Sara is teaching in his DENTAL OFFICE! He was taught all about pulling teeth from his father.
We have had quite a few struggles these last few weeks with our investigators. Right now, we are working with a single mom that has four kids (all from different fathers). 12 different missionaries have passed for her but she had never committed to come to church or to receive them after the first couple visits, until one night she encountered us after she had been drinking. She had a box full of marked Liahonas (church magazines) that her ex-husband´s family had sent her from their home in Las Vegas. Since then she has come to church the last two weeks. it´s a real testimony builder that people are being prepared. It breaks my heart how much alcohol has a hold of her, we have set goals but one of her best friends keeps bringing over bottles and it´s hard for her to resist. We found her one night and she just kept making jokes and when we said goodbye, she just hugged me and said, ¨You have no idea how much I´m hurting right now." Her drinking has taken a toll on her two daughters who we have found in tears because we had planned an activity but her mom said she couldn't go anymore because she was tipsy. Now, after a few more lessons, she has committed to stop drinking and has been sober for over a week. She has changed and is continuing to change and her two daughters are preparing to get baptized. It just always surprises me how much I hurt when she falls back into drinking, it really helps us as missionaries to continue on.

As for food, we do eat some WEIRD stuff. I make my own breakfasts and dinners and my grocery cart has changed from comfortable American food to platinos and frijoles and rice and corn flour and jamaica and other fruit. Since I became best friends with Hermana Euceda in San Pedro, she taught me how to cook yummy meals. And we have a cook that cooks lunch for us since we don´t have time. I finally told her this last week that even though we are allowed to eat cow, maybe we shouldn't eat the organs. Luckily I said it in a way that didn't offend her, and now we don't have to eat more liver or other...meat. Someone also gave me a plate of cooked iguana but I was able to get away with promising her I would eat it once we got back home...but after one bite, I wasn't able to keep that promise and I gave it to a member. 
Iguana - Sara did mention that this family had a pet iguana and then commented "They ate his BROTHER"
Sara expanding her cooking skills while on her mission in Guatemala  and making tamales.
And when we were helping someone wash their clothes, the other side of the pila was filled with food for their dinner...chicken. And her kids thought it would be funny to chase the white missionaries around with chicken heads and feet...so the food here is pretty interesting.

That reminds me that I forgot to tell you guys a really funny story. When I was in San Pedro, I woke up one morning and when I walked past the kitchen, I noticed that someone had spilled my bread on the floor (about ten pieces). I was confused why no one had told me and then I thought it had been a mouse because the bread was a little torn on some of the pieces...but I quickly found out what had happened when I found another piece of bread with bite marks in a different room...I had been fasting and I slept walked and ate my bread! I guess my sleep walking ...and my ability to fast are the same as when I left haha.

Every day here is a miracle, I will write again next week. We are going to ANTIGUA on Monday with our zone, I´m very excited