Monday, July 28, 2014

Last post from Guatemala!

For the last year and a half, I have written emails home every week including stories and experiences of the changes I have seen in people's lives due to the gospel. Sitting down for the last time in a little internet cafe in Guatemala, this time I am going to write a little more personal. This week's letter will be focused on the change in my own life.

18 months ago, I left my home to come to just three days, I am leaving my home to go to the United States. It's crazy how before the mission, I thought serving Christ for 18 months would somehow repay a small amount of the debt I owed to Him, but I'm just returning in even more debt.

Mark 5:19 "Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." I came to Guatemala with my bags packed with new, unmarked spanish scriptures, empty journals, new shoes, an average testimony and a heart somewhat lacking faith. I'm returning with the same scriptures that now need to be rebound because of their use, my journals now filled with notes from conferences and experiences, only one pair of shoes that a widow gave to me even though it only left her with one other pair, a testimony that will carry me throughout my life and a heart that is now filled with hope and love for my Savior.

I'm returning with new eyes that have seen people in the hardest circumstances change their lives through the atoning powers of Christ. I'm returning with new ears that have heard their own testimonies shared with their tears. I'm returning with stories of His angels protecting me from dangerous situations and supporting me through hard days and sicknesses. I'm returning with a greater knowledge of my faults and debilities, but with a great dependance on my Savior to make me stronger. And I'm returning with a greater idea of who I am supposed to be. It will take my whole life to become who He wants me to be, but I finally know that it is possible to be lifted up by His hands. It will also take my whole life to come to know Him, but I finally know it is possible to let Him change us. Before the mission, I knew He was my Savior, but now I believe it. I knew that God existed, but now I believe it. I knew that He loves his children, but now I believe it. And now I feel it.

My greatest convert has become myself and I finally understand what God's purpose help us back to Him. Everything He does is based on this purpose. I know He called prophets in the Old and New testaments, and I know He called prophets in the Americas. All of their writings and stories are to help us prepare to return to Him. I know that a young boy, Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ and they responded to his question. With all the confusion in the world, there was a need for another prophet so that we can know that there is a plan of happiness, that there is hope and faith and that there is a Savior. So that we could recieve the fulness of the gospel with all the scriptures and revelations to give us a purpose, to give us a light in our lives. I love these people, I love this country, I love these experiences, I love the culture, I love my companions, I love the leaders, I love seeing His hand every day... and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is true and not only has it changed every aspect in my life, it will continue to change me. God sent me here to Guatemala to share His gospel and now He is sending me home to my family and to my friends to "tell them how great things the Lord hath done for (me) and hath had compassion on (me)." Iré y haré.
I'll see you soon,
Hermana Hansen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One week left . . . and a few more miracles

We had a few miracles this weekend. L has been taking lessons since October and was classified as an "eternal investigator"...her parents are both less active members and she kept pushing off baptism with different excuses. The teaching record made it look like a lack of interest but the first day when we taught her, she pulled out a journal and wrote down the topic of our lesson. We were able to discover that her real challenge was that she simply wanted us to talk to her father and that she was scared of the water in the baptism font. Her dad is always working but we were able to schedule a family night with her and talk about L's baptism. He was in agreeance and after the lesson, he said the prayer and had tears at the end of the prayer. He was excited that his daughter was strong enough to decide to take this step and sunday during the baptism, her mom was also crying. It's amazing to see how children can guide their parents and be the strength in a family working to become stronger.

Another miracle was that I saw Jorge! He was working in a project and we ran into him while walking to an appointment. The branch is growing in San Pedro and G and A, the family from San Pedro that we taught and baptized, are preparing to enter the temple in just two more months. It was amazing to see J and when I went to go write about it in my journal, the thought came to me to look back at what was happening a year ago. I had a journal entry exactly a year ago, the 17 of July, when we found J almost 11 days after his failed baptism interview, sitting drunk in a park and looking like a homeless man. We walked him back to his house and explained that he could lift himself back out of this with the help of His Savior. This 27 of July will be the day when he visited him again and he told us he was ready to change everything to follow Christ. After that day, he was baptized weeks later and recieved the aaronic priesthood and blessed the sacrament...He become the ward mission leader and then recieved the Melchizedek and gave his first blessing to me the weekend I left San Pedro...and he hasn't missed a Sunday for the last year. It was a reminder to me of how much this gospel allows people to change. Seeing Jorge and shaking his hand was the same hand we grabbed to help him up from a bench in the park, but everything about it has changed. I love him as my own brother, and I know that God loves him as His own son. I know this is God's work and I can't express my gratitude at the time He has given me to be here. I will keep working hard, after this week and after I leave this country that has become my own. The gospel never ends or changes and neither does the work. I will always be an example of the believers.

P.S. I will be writing my last email next week on Monday since our zone P Day is on Tuesday. Until then!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Risking a beating - a brave little girl

I am now in Palin, it's in the same stake I started in. Amatitlan! It's also Hermana Rasmussen's old area so I have the privilege or taking care of her old investigators and converts. I have two companions, Hermana G from New Jersey and Hermana A from Honduras. They're both amazing and I'm grateful that I can learn from them these last weeks.

We are teaching R and D. D seperated from his wife and junto with R like 18 years ago but never got divorced from his first wife. The process is pretty complicated but once the divorce papers clear, it's easy to get them married. One thing that really touched me is a little girl who slipped in during my first lesson with them. She is their neighbor and she is only 8 years old. R just took her in her arms and told me how the little girl always waits for the missionaries to come and teach them..and then sneaks out of her own house into Rs house to listen to the gospel. Unfortunately, every time her mom finds out, the daughter is beaten. However, the little girl risks being beaten every day to listen to the gospel. She can't read, but she just listens and sings the words to the limited hymns that she has learned over the weeks. Her faith and determination is inspiring to me...I'm still trying to understand how to "become like a little child" with my own faith and actions.

It's also really funny to be in their house because Ds father is 100 years old! And his mother is 87. But his mother is jealous because she thinks I'm going to steal her husband away from her haha. Everybody always has a good laugh at her comments to me "Si lo lleve, le regalo!" Haha it's getting better because now she has trust in me and we are friends. We are also helping them so that they can work toward being baptized with R and D. It would be such a beautiful day.

I love this message, and I'm happy to be here for the last two weeks to share it! Hasta la proxima semana!
people raise animals on their roofs

She had a dream, and when we explained the Plan of Salvation to her she understood and wants to join the church.

some of the people Sara will miss!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Earthquakes, Bees and changes .. .

>News from the week! We did feel the earthquake here and it was super strong...but we are fine. There was also a huge swarm of bees outside of our house since our neighbor sawed down the tree that their nest was in...but we are fine. And we found out that I have changes on Wednesday...but we are fine. It was pretty hard to find out that I won't get to be companions with Hermana Rasmussen or in this area...and I'm not sure where I will be going for three weeks, but I'll go wherever He needs me!

We were walking about two weeks ago and a little girl approached me and asked what church we are from. After introducing ourselves, she pointed to her mother that was waiting on the other side of the road and told us that her mother wanted to know more. We walked back to their house with them and met her other children, she has a total of 5. We taught her and she told us that she would come to church on Sunday...and when we returned the next day, we taught about the Book of Mormon. The third visit she told us, "I did what you said. I prayed last night to see if this Book of Mormon was true. And I felt a peace in my heart and I know now that it is true. And I want to continue in this path." She then committed to stop drinking coffee and attended church on Sunday. We shared about the Plan of Salvation and she told us about a dream that she had long ago...she had felt that it was inspired but never really understood it until we explained the spirit world, where she recognized the significance of her dream. She accepted to be baptized on the20 of July, and I am so happy that another missionary will have the honor to come to this area to help her prepare for the step of baptism.

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I have loved this area so so much and it is hard to leave after 6 months but I will never forget the little aldeas or the fields or the mountains or the tin houses or the dirt floors or the corte clothing...but it is the most beautiful place in all of the world because of the people that live here. This message is true, this gospel is true and I will spend the next couple weeks testifying it in whatever area I am sent to.