Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January 1st, 2017: New Years on Guam

This week was a great week with an awesome ending. To start off we had an exchange with the Nett Elders which was really good. Elder Jenkins from my intake serves there and I got to spend some time with him and talk to him which was really good. After that we had an awesome district meeting and then pretty much started getting ready to go to Guam. Because it's the end of the year there were a lot of things that we had to get ready so we could bring them to Guam.We had to take care of a lot of car things, leases on houses, and a lot of other random things. Finally on Saturday we left for Guam. The beginning of every month all the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders from all the islands go to Guam and have Mission Leadership Council. We were supposed to leave at about 3 but our flight was delayed until almost 7 so we didn't get to Guam until really late. When we got there everyone had already gone shopping at all the American stores and had already gone to McDonalds so we got off with no time and no food. It was a rough start but I really loved it. We got there and were able to talk and meet with all the Elders. It was really cool to see the Zone Leaders from the other islands and learn about their islands. I love being able to talk to other Elders and really just get to know the mission. After talking to all the Elders till New Years we opened the door to hear how Guam would celebrate it and one thing we weren't expecting was gunshots. There were people shooting their guns and stuff which was very amusing to a house full of Elders as you can imagine and lots of fire works. After that we woke up, went to church in the Barrigada Ward and after church we went to President Zarbock's house and started our meeting. We received a training that we will be relaying to our Zones and then after talked about our Zones. Our Zone did amazing this year! We had a goal of 100 baptisms and just barely missed it with 96. I was so proud of our Zone and the work that they did. After that we had dinner made by Sister Zarbock which was really, really good and then went to the Mission Office, got any needs that we needed and called our islands to get numbers for the week. After that we got to talk and have fun together and it was just really amazing. I love this mission so much! I really, really want to just stay here forever! 

These last couple of weeks have really shown me how much I love my Father in Heaven, my Savior, my family, my missionaries, and the people around me. God has blessed me so much in my life and there is really no way for me to repay Him. The only thing at least in my mind that I can do is show my appreciation and share it with others. 
I love you all and I hope you had a Great Christmas and an Amazing New Year! I know that Christ Lives and that He leads His church TODAY and every day through our Prophet Thomas S. Monson. I know that there are so many blessing that people, including myself, in the church take for granted and don't realize the gravity of these things. I love you all and pray for you daily. 
Happy Holidays
and remember to 
Elder Hanson

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 25th, 2016: White Christmas

Merry Christmas! We have been doing a lot of things getting ready for Christmas and getting ready for calls. To start off the week we went on exchanges one after another. I was on exchanges until Thursday leading out Awak. To be honest I was really scared to lead out because I had only been in the area for a week and during that week we had a lot of needs so we probably got only about 8 hours in our area. However, just like always, God will help us and he helped me a lot.  I didn't know a lot of investigators but we got to find a lot which was good. I also got to know our area a lot better, which is obviously very important. After that more needs and skipping forward to the actually exciting part. Saturday night we were getting ready for Kanla's baptism after we went to all the other baptisms that happened. It was really cool to go and see all the success from our Zone. It was really cool, especially to be capping it off with our own baptism. When we finally got there his mother wasn't there so we had to reschedule it for the next morning. After that stressful stuff we finally got to relax and go to Christmas with the locals. I'm so very grateful for them and all the great things they gave us. They truly are amazing. Then Christmas day started off awesome. We woke up, opened our presents and then got to go give the best present of all. I had the privilege to baptize Kanla in the ocean which was a blessing and a half. Then we gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost and it was the best Christmas ever. Then later that day I got to talk to my family which obviously was amazing as well. This Christmas was seriously the best Christmas, not to mention all the surprises that are waiting for me at home. I'm so grateful for all the blessings that God has given me on my mission and for the opportunity I have to change and become like Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. I'm grateful I also get to help others as they do the same.
I love you all, Thank You for everything!
Love you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Elder Hanson

December 18th, 2016: I Love Our Zone

Can I just start off and say how much I love our Zone! One of my favorite things is that everyone is so unified and loves one another. Another thing is that we are really, really close to hitting our yearly goal which, and I say this as humbly as I can, is pretty impressive. We had a Zone goal of 100 baptisms and we are at 93 as of today. This next week a lot of people are getting ready for baptism. Almost every area including ours is having at least one baptism. In our area we have Kala, he is 9 and super smart. When we teach him about the gospel, even on hard things like the Plan of Salvation, we test him the next time and he remembers them and all the names for everything, it really is amazing. The best part is that he is going to be baptized in the ocean, which by the way is right next to our "chapel". It's seriously one of the coolest views and we get to see it while we are at church. Church has been interesting. The area I'm in is a unit (branch?) and our unit leader is 18. He is a super awesome member and super hilarious.  He went to Kosrae for Christmas so we will be conducting for the next couple weeks. I already love our Unit. All the members are really nice and we have a couple people who are not members yet but should be. One is a older lady that we call Nohno Carmin, she hasn't been baptized yet but she comes to church each week, does everything a member does, including paying tithing, but for some reason she won't be baptised yet. Anyways everything is good, like my Mission President always says, we are living the dream. I'm so grateful for all the things God has given me and given us.
To be honest Christmas on my mission is honestly better than any other Christmas. Even though I miss my family, don't get the gifts that are usually given, and things like that, I feel like I'm actually giving all that I can to God. I feel like I'm doing what He wants me to do which makes me feel happy and whole. I'm grateful for the sacrifices that people have made for me to be here and for everyone who has every served a mission. Thank you all. I can't wait to see you all for Christmas and see how things have changed.
I'm so grateful for everything that you have done for me. I hope that my service here will somehow make a difference in your lives there, that is the best Christmas gift I can give. Thank you all!

Before I close I would like to add one of my favorite things about Christmas and Pohnpeian. I think I've already said it but it doesn't hurt to remind us.
In Pohpneian "mas" means 1st, as in to happen 1st. So every time we say Christmas here we are literally saying "Christ first". It is a great reminder for me that that is the real reason I'm here, why we are all here. Is to put Christ and his Atonement 1st so we can change in this life.
I love you all and I wish you all a great CHRIST MAS in His name, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Hanson

December 11th, 2016: Taking Care of Our Zone

This week was a lot of taking care of needs of our Zone. It would be really tedious is our Zone wasn't amazing! I think we have the best Zone in the Mission! All the missionaries are super awesome and I love them all already. To be honest when I got here I didn't know them very much but now I'm starting to get to know them and they are amazing! The Sisters are killing it right now with Baptisms and everything just seems so much more in unity and just awesome. My companion, Elder McCluskey is from my intake and we are already having a blast together. We have been able to take care of our Zone a lot but things are starting to slow down and we are doing more teaching together. I'm so excited for this transfer and all the new things. I really have been blessed so much on my mission in every sense of the word bless. I love God so much, it's weird to think that some people don't even believe that He exists.
This week I was watching a movie produced by the church called Special Witnesses of Christ. I think we all notice the little hints that Apostles and Prophets give us that they've seen more than the regular person. The video is pretty much their testimonies of being special witnesses of Christ. It really opened my mind to how much God really does talk to us in this day and how it's not just a cool idea but all these things are real. Like they actually DO happen. I want to bear my testimony that God does work today, as I have been taking care of our Zone and getting to know the missionaries, I have seen the work of God in each of their lives and seen little glimpses of their lives. I know that God is real, that He speaks to us when we prepare ourselves to hear. I love my Savior and hope to do my best to show Him that He can trust me. I love you all and I hope that you all know how much we love you and pray for you. I hope you all have a great Christmas season and not only remember the Savior but remember that He is YOUR Savior, and do your best to show Him you know that. I love you and I say these things in His name, Jesus Christ, Amen.

December 4th, 2016: Transfers, Christmas & Craziness

This week was crazy, I'll start from the beginning to keep it organized. Monday we had an exchange with the Wone Elders which was good but the Elder that I was conducting the exchange with rolled his ankle at sports so we didn't really get to teach a lot. We did get to talk which was really good and learned alot about one another. Then Wednesday we did another exchange with my Son! Elder Woodland, who is now training, he has been doing good lately but was working on talking more to everyone. So to try to help him we decided that we would talk to everyone. After talking to everyone and having lessons with everyone that would let us, we had 25 lessons at the middle of the week. It was amazing and good to work with him again after being separated. He has continued to improve and we worked well together. Thursday we kicked of the Church's Christmas Initiative with a Stake Activity. After having our District Meeting we walked around Kolonia and picked up trash and gave out pass along cards and inviting people to the activity. Then we had the activity with games, testimonies, the new Church Christmas video and lots of other stuff. Friday and Saturday were awesome regular missionary days.
Sunday right after church we got a call from the Zone Leaders asking for a favor, we said of course and then they told me (Elder Hanson) to “pack your bags because you’re a Zone Leader now”! After double checking that it was actually real and not a joke they told us that we had to drive to Kolonia to have a Missionary Leadership Council with the mission and we needed to be there. When we got there we met our companions, which turned out to be the wrong companions, and had a great meeting over Google Hangouts.
This Transfer was crazy and so much happened. My companion (Elder Parker) is also leaving our area to go next door with Elder Woodlands companion and Elder Woodland is going back to Kitti to train! He has really wanted to train his whole mission and now he is getting the chance to. I'm super excited for him and to have my first "Grandson"! So much craziness happened and I still don't believe it's true but yeah. Now I get to go to Guam every month for MLC so that will be super fun. I also am with Elder McKlusky from my intake. I'm super excited to be with him and we are going to have a spiritual blast together. (I had to throw in the spiritual part so you don't think we are partying here or anything ;)
So yeah a lot of crazy other things happened with Elders areas becoming Sisters areas and vice versa and only two or three areas stayed the same.
I think that's all for now but I hope you all have a great week and remember to do the things on the advent calendar for December. I love you all.
God be with you till we meet again
Elder Hanson

November 20th & 27th 2016: Planning Brings Miracles & There's Nothing Wrong with Challenging Everyone

Planning Brings Miracles
Lately the Mission Leadership has been really focusing on planning and becoming "full purpose missionaries". For longer than I should have, I’ve been going into lessons with the thought "I'll just follow the spirit and it will teach me how to teach this topic". Though many times we were able to teach the lesson I noticed that the spirit too often was not there. For a while I have been doing my best to figure out why and we have finally figured it out. It's because our "faith" that the Spirit would guide us wasn't really "faith" is was a justification for not doing everything in our power to prepare. I read a conference talk this morning that explained really well about this. It said something along the lines that faith can never take away someone's agency. Meaning that if we really want a family member, friend or anyone we know to change their heart, repent and accept the gospel, they still have their agency and our willingness and our desires will not change that. 
Another part was that faith PREcedes the miracles. Before someone can be healed, they must first receive a blessing. Before we are baptized or partake of the Sacrament we must show our faith and repent. When we prepare ourselves for miracles then we qualify for God's work in our lives. For a while I was just expecting that God would work through me and trusting solely on this. For a long time I was failing to realize that we must do everything in our power before the power of God helps us make up the difference.
This last week we have really put in a lot of effort into planning and things are just falling into place. We have back up plans for our back up plans and have every lesson planned out thoroughly.
Just as President Zarbock teaches us to do, I applied this to real life.
I will use the example of my ambitions. I want to become an Orthopedic Surgeon after I return from my mission. Obviously there is a long time and a lot of work before that. If I just say I want to do that but take classes for art, auto-shop, and other things, sure they are great but they won't help me become a Doctor.
I've noticed that in every one on of our lessons we are working towards certain things, incorporating repentance and helping them have that "mighty change of heart" because that's our main goal here. I've noticed that the road to baptism has become clearer and it revolves around repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
So many times we have these amazing goals and too often don't make effective plans for them. Because of that there are a lot of "I'll do it tomorrow’s and a lot of "empty yesterday’s. Planning really does help us achieve our potential and has helped me see more clearly God's plan for these people. I love you all and I want you all to know how much I think of your guys. Sometimes before we go to sleep one of your names pops into my mind, and all too often I find out why the next week at email. I pray for you always and just know that some Elder way out in the middle of ocean on a little island cares about you. God has a plan for all of us and He knows us. Never forget that and make steps and plans to show Him your love for Him. Repentance is a process not an event, so take that first step and become the person God needs you to be. I'm not perfect and have my own sin and temptations but my heart has changed so much because of planning and taking those steps to change. Then as I showed my willingness, Christ has changed my heart from those things. Thank you for all those who have helped me along my path. I love you all!
 Elder Hanson
    There's Nothing Wrong with Challenging Everyone
So this past week was different but a good different. To start off I was on an exchange while Elder Parker was sick. After that he was sick for another day so we didn't really get to go out until Thursday. Thursday was obviously Thanksgiving and because of district meeting we only had a short time to go out before Thanksgiving. During our feast we watched "The Best Two Years" and it was really, really good. Everyone was laughing but I think people also took a lot out of it as well, I know I did. One of the things they said was "is there anything wrong with challenging to everyone?" That really stuck with me and then I realize how important that is. As missionaries people really do expect us to do that because that's what we do. It really helped me realize why we need to ask and why these people need to be challenged. 
We have made very high goals this week for the amount of people invited to be baptized and to come to church so we are going to be working hard to get that. I have really gotten to see why talking to everyone and inviting everyone is so important. It kind of reminds me of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory part when they are testing the eggs and nuts. They have to test every single one to know which ones are not ready and which ones are ready. I think that's kind of how missionary work is, we test everyone and challenge everyone. To be honest there are a lot more people that need more time but that's the beauty of Gospel because for most people the time will happen and that's all that matters. 
I know for my own family, especially my father, timing was everything. For a while the timing wasn't ready until one day when the setting was right, the Spirit showed him the way. 
I would like to challenge everyone who is reading this regardless of who you are, your age, or anything like that to give one of the best gifts. I want to invite you all to find a Book of Mormon and write your testimonies inside and then give it to someone you love or feel prompted to give it to. If you need to make a list and pray about who, do it! Think about the worst that could happen, they say "Thanks, but I'm not interested" and then they put it aside for another day. That's literally the worst that could happen. Then think of what usually happens. They say "Thank you, I appreciate this very much" then they might start reading that night, a week from then or maybe a year or two from then but they will read it. And when they read it the Spirit will testify that it's true. I know this because I have read it, I've read it from cover to cover and tested Moroni's promise and I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. It was honestly the single biggest turning point in my life to really show me that there is something greater out there, something or someone that actually knows us and it's not just a belief like so many people say but it's a knowledge. I know that we all have desires to share these things and sometime we might not know the words to say, that's why God has given us His words to speak for us. All we have to do is ask people to read the word of God. I testify that if you will have the courage to give a simple gift, God will prepare the way. I know these things are true and I love you all, and pray for you every night, I hope you know this. 
Elder Hanson

November 6th & 13th, 2016: Kitti & Becoming Closer with God

It's crazy to realize just how long I've been in this area. Now that I've been here a year it's weird to see just how many people I know. Just as we were walking down the road, I was just saying ‘hi’ to all of the people that I know and it's amazing to see how many of them I know. It breaks my heart to walk past these people that I've come to love, know, and laugh with, and to see them deny all the blessings we have to offer them. So many times these people know what will give them true happiness in their lives but they just aren't motivated enough to go and do it. I'm so grateful that I was taught that if I wanted something I had to work for it. My whole life if I wanted something or wanted to be good at something I knew that I would just have to work hard enough and eventually I would get it. A mission is a little bit different. Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter how hard I work or how good I teach, how strong the Spirit is there, sometimes the time just isn't right. I think of agency and what a vital part it plays in God's plan for us. God, the Almighty, all knowing, and all powerful Creator of the Universe created a perfect plan for us to be happy, but even He could not force us to be happy. Sometimes as I am sulking, feeling sorry for the people that reject these blessings I think of the pain we, including myself, cause God when we chose what is wrong. We taught Sunday School this week and taught about the Atonement. One of the Scriptures we used was James 4:17 which talks about if we know something that is good and don't do it, that is sin. To me when I read that scripture I realized just how much I needed to change. So many people I would pass by because I've already tried them a few times and they are not interested, I knew what was good and I didn't do it. 
I am not a perfect missionary and nor will I be in this life, but one thing I can say and be honest as I say it. I've put my heart and soul into this area. They have taught me that I cannot force them to accept the Gospel in their lives, as much as I pray and will them to they still have their agency. I feel like that's one of God's greatest qualities, that He loves us enough to let us chose for ourselves. I'm grateful that God has given me choices in my life. Even though I have made wrong choices I wouldn't take them back because they have shown me both sides of Gods plan. 
I love you all and I hope that you will all continue to do what is right or that if you know what is right and you aren't doing it right now. Just do it. Don't be foolish and delay the blessings that God has promised you. I love you all and just like I tell all my investigators, we are here to share blessings. That is why it's the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News of Jesus Christ. Please accept it.
Elder Hanson
Becoming Closer with God
This week Elder Parker was pretty sick. He got a boil which got into his bloodstream and that infection is now next to his heart and lungs and is really painful. Because it's not in an organ or somewhere like that pain meds can't really help it so he has been taking antibiotics and we've been resting a lot. 
While he has been sleeping I've been doing some house keeping. Not only in our actual house but also in my own Temple of God. Lately, thanks to my awesome sister, I got a couple talks that really helped me realize why I am here. Not only why I'm on my mission but more of why I was born at this time and in this place. I have learned why the Restoration is so important and why it's such a great message.
The majority of the world believes in some form of the Bible. We believe that miracles happened, that God spoke to man and Heaven and Earth worked together. So many people believe in this yet they don't understand the importance of our message. Our message is that not only did those amazing things happen then but they are happening now. There is a Prophet of God who speaks regularly with God. We also have Apostles who have been hand picked from the whole Earth to guide us in these days. God has also given us the Priesthood, like a test drive of godhood. He has said, "here, you try" because he wants us to learn for ourselves. On top of that God has given us a way to know for ourselves that it's all true. Something to hold in our hands, to read and pray about. All these great blessings and people don't even have the slightest clue of them. That is why we do missionary work, that's why missionaries always ask people to come out and help them. Because these people need everyone’s help.
I am grateful that God is patient with me on my mission. He has trusted me with a lot more than I would trust myself. I know that these souls I am teaching really are His and they are precious to Him. But someone has to do it. God can do it alone, but He has a better way. He's let us give it our best shot, and when it's not enough we use the Atonement and it makes up the difference. 
 I would like us all if we could, to take ten minutes of our day and think of our lives, if we had not been born in the church or had not heard of the church. If all we believed was that "yeah there's a god somewhere up there but I don't know where". Take away the years of Sunday School, the years of Priesthood blessings, Patriarchal Blessings, the Book of Mormon, General Conference, the Sacrament, Mutual, Prayer, the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the list goes on and on. All these blessings that God has given us but do we realize what our lives would be if we didn't have them. I know I didn't and little by little God is showing me how. I love you all and I hope don't take for granted these great blessings God has given us.
Elder Hanson