Monday, November 9, 2015

Kaprohri Waterfall

Today for P-day we went to this really, really cool waterfall that seriously looked amazing. Elder Hurst and I, our district leader, climbed to the top which was really cool. The view was amazing. There are so many cool things on this island that you find over time. When I first got my call I thought I would be on a island with sandy beaches and that the people would live in huts. Yes, I live on an island, and yes, the people live in huts, but there is no sand. I really do live on a jungle island which is sooo cool. We have to walk on these narrow jungle paths to get to most of our investigators houses and some of them literally live on top of mountains so it's like a half hour climb to their houses. This week was supposed to be our first baptism but our investigator was out of town all week so we couldn't teach her and get her prepared to be baptized. Hopefully this week we will get our first one and it will be super cool. I can't wait to bring my first soul to Christ. Last Monday we went on our first exchanges and Elder Hurst is awesome. He is from Utah as well and it was cool to talk about things from Utah and to just kinda talk to someone about everything. I feel like exchanges are a break from everything for a day and it is so nice. I am going on another one today with the Zone Leaders which will be super awesome! One thing I've noticed is that missionary work can either be really happy and upbeat or really down and dreary depending on what you put into it. God really does reward you for your work and for your attitude. I read my Patriarchal Blessing a lot this week and I know that God loves us and He knows us. I know that He sent me to this island because the people here need me or a part of me to plant seeds or to reap the rewards. I am so greatful that I get to learn this language that will be so cool to speak when I get back. I was just thinking of how you will all react when I get home and start speaking an island language that is nothing like any language you have ever heard. Learning a language without any training in the MTC or any prior knowledge of it really does test you but it makes you work like 20x's harder. One of our investigators, Andero, has really been struggling lately and his heart was in all the wrong places. Then the other night it just finally clicked with him and he now knows why we are here and he knows that we can help him. I gave him a blessing that night and we could all feel the spirit really strong. After everyone was just quiet and he said, "Thank you so much" in Pohnpeian. We shook his hand, gave him a hug and left. That's one thing that really does help investigators is to leave when the spirit is strong. Obviously you don't leave in the middle of the lesson but if it's strong at the end of the lesson our Mission President tells us to get out of there. Because when we leave we take the spirit with us and it's so cool to see them the next time and they are like "When you Elder's left it felt like you took a part of me with you". It works so well and it's almost like giving them a taste of things to come. The people here really do want to learn more about the gospel and you can tell that they do trust missionaries. Because we've been having such good success the other churches here lately have been doing a lot of gossiping and a lot of anti-Mormon things, it's frustrating. Apparently the Catholic church even have a yellow book that has a bunch of lies and false teachings that go against the church. You really can see when people's hearts are hardened and that they just won't listen to anything you say. Then there are other people that are so nice and they will listen to you. Then as the spirit talks to them they almost beg you to come back. The other night we had a hard experience. One of our best investigator's mother told her to tell us that we can't teach them anymore at their house, mainly because of the other churches gossiping. It was so sad to see her telling us this because she wants to get baptized so bad and she knows that the things we teach are true. She was almost crying when we left. I know that God knows the intents of her heart and that she will be baptized on day. I'm so exciting for the millennium and me and Sister Latu, one of the sisters in the area right next to us, were talking about how we are almost exciting to die because everything is going to make more sense and it's just going to be so exciting! I keep thinking of all the people that don't know about life after death and they just believe that once you're dead that's it. That would just tear me apart. I'm so glad that I know that death is not the end. That death is almost a happy thing. I think of all the bad and the ugly that is on this earth and all the glory and happiness that is in Heaven and I realize how much better Heaven is than Earth. Yes Earth has good things, but we can't even comprehend how great Heaven is. I think of that song about the little boy whose mom dies and how she said she will build him a rainbow. I remember that song always made me want to cry because I never wanted to lose my mom or anyone else that I loved. I now understand that even though I can't see people after they are dead that they aren't gone. That they are still watching over me and that I can see them a lot sooner than I realize. I know that there is life after death and that God truly is a loving God and wants us to be together forever. I love Him and I know He loves us. Each and every one of us. I'm so glad to know this and to know that we can be with all of our loved ones forever and be happy forever. All we have to do is never give up. Never give up on trying to be a better person and never stop trying to follow the example of our brother Jesus Christ. There is a talk that I want you all to read or listen to it's called "Life is a Football Game" by Troy Dunn. It is seriously one of the most funny and best analogies ever! I love you all more than I can ever express! Hold tight to the iron rod and never give up! Hold Tight! Knuckle White!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 4-Pohnpei

The weeks on a mission seriously fly by so fast. It seems like yesterday that I was dropped off at the MTC and here I am already a month into my mission. Life as a missionary is definitely different than regular life but it's all good things. We are always trying to help people and we are always talking to random people to see if they would be interested. It's so weird to see how polite people really are and how you just have to start having a conversation with them. We went on splits the other day and since I was the missionary I felt like I had to lead. So I started talking to everyone that we met on the street and in the half hour that we spent walking from our appointments we met and received 5 referrals! It just goes to show how people are willing and the Lord prepares people and all you have to do is open your mouth! That's one thing that I've also come to know as a truth, that the Holy Ghost truly will speak through you if you will let it. There have been so many times when I have asked "inspired questions" and they have changed the hearts of the people just by asking a question. The Lord really does prepare people for us and all we have to do is open our mouths. I think I'm finally starting to settle into the missionary lifestyle and things are starting to become habit for me. Things like praying before pretty much everything and always trying to have the spirit with you are things that were new but now I want them to be with me always. The Spirit is the third member of our companionship and we need it to be with us always. The people here are so much different than people in America yet they are so much the same. They are still sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and they still have their own lives and their own culture and ways.
On a completely different note there are lizards everywhere here. I feel like I've told everyone a lot about what we do but I've never told you about where we do it! You should be getting all of the pictures I've taken since I got here and you will see that everything is green. If you leave a seed outside it will grow. If you leave food outside, it will grow...  Food here goes bad really fast and pretty much everything you don't want ants in you put in the fridge, ever had cold bread for breakfast!?! The dirt here is always red and stains stuff really easy. Unfortunately Pohnpei doesn't have a single beach on the whole island because there is a coral reef surrounding the whole island that breaks the waves before they make it to the actual island. So in stead we have lots of mud and big black rocks. There are some cool islands that are farther away that have beaches that we are trying to get permission to go to since there are people that live there but no missionaries. I think the biggest culture shock so far is a tie between people breastfeeding in the middle of lessons and everyone wearing Crocs. I won't go into detail on the first for obvious reasons but Crocs in America are pretty much "social suicide" here their are pretty much a necessity. Every other kind of shoes will wear out super fast and crocs just keep on going. Also one thing that you learn really fast is that white shirts were not meant for Pohnpei. My shirts when I got here were like sparkling white and the only way to keep them like that is to scrub and clean them by hand every week. I've been doing that so far but I have a feeling the island will win eventually.. Something that I think will be awkward to adjust back to is using spoons and forks again. Here we don't use anything like that and we eat ramen with our hands all the time. I'm pretty much in love with the coconuts here and all of their donuts things they make. They are so good and so sweet! As I've been thinking about the food we eat, it's pretty much all of the most unhealthy foods all in one. I've already gained 10 lbs as of last week and is probably up a couple more this week. So expect a completely different Elder Hanson when I get back. Luckily it's turned mostly into muscle since we hike to houses a lot because they are like a mile off the main road. Also I'm starting to get pretty good as using a Machete. I can already use it to split a coconut in half and we use them all the time to cut through the jungle. It's funny to people in Kolonia, the main town, everything else on the island is the "Jungle". Also here there are lizards and spiders everywhere! I call our bathroom our "nature preserve" because of all the lizards and spiders that are in there to greet you every day. Yesterday I went in to find a spider the size of my hand eating another spider alive. After killing the big spider, the half eaten one started crawling towards me! Luckily, Eugene, my lizard friend, came and saved the day and ate it! We first met Eugene the first night and we was hanging on our front door when we walked in the first night. Then the next night he greeted me in the shower as he fell on my shoulder and scared me half to death. We have a good relationship though because he really likes to eat spiders. Which I will not complain about because they are huge here. 
One of the overlying factors that I've noticed while here is how much God diversified and created beauty on the Earth. There are so many things here that at first I thought were really weird but not I've come to see how beautiful they are. I've learned to love the people and learned to love the island. The rain is now my friend and the humidity is awesome. I love everything here and I know that this island truly is a blessed island and that God sent me here for a reason. I know this Gospel is true and that Jesus Christ is our Brother, Redeemer, and Friend. I know that this Earth is a time for us to learn and gain experience so that we can be like God some day. I know that everyone on this Earth was a great example and a great person, I know that because we are here, because we chose life and truth, because we chose our pure Brother Jesus Christ. I know He is our Brother and that He loves us more than we can comprehend. He knows what we are going through and He knows we can make it through it. D&C 6:36 Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not. There's no reason to fear because we have the strongest and the best team mate in our corner, that's Jesus. I know He lives. I know that God is our Spirit Father and that He loves us and wants us to learn from our mistakes. I have made a lot of mistakes and will continue to make mistakes but I know that I can be forgiven and I know I can become better. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God truly loves us and cares for each and every one of us. He knows us and talked with us. As we become closer to Him, the veil that is between our eyes becomes thinner and thinner and we come to remember our lives before Earth. God loves us. I know this. I say these things with unwavering knowledge and assurance. I know for a fact they are true. In the name of our Brother, Redeemer, and Teacher, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Week 3- Pohnpei

It's crazy to realize that I've been on my mission for a month! I've learned a lot in such a short amount of time. It is so crazy. I don't have a lot of time but I just want to share an experience. We are allowed an hour of sports time to play and to find investigators, but most of the time the missionaries just play. As we were playing we met this kid named Noel. He speaks English so I can talk to him a lot. We got put on his team and we were playing basketball. We did really well and played super good together. We won every game. By the end we were really good friends and we asked if we could come over to his house and teach him a lesson. He said sure and we went over the next day. When we were teaching him he seemed to really take in everything we said and at the end we asked him to read and pray about the things that we said and asked him if he got an answer that they are true if he would be baptized. He said yes and we left and went to teach another lesson. That night we went back to the church and he was there playing basketball again. He came running up to us and he said, "Elders, I prayed about the things that you taught me and I don't know how to desribe it but I almost started crying, I just know that they are so true and that you are messengers of God." It was so cool to see how fast the Spirit works and how he truly wanted an answer and got one that night. The next day we checked in on him and he said he was sick. We asked him if we could give him a priesthood blessing and he accepted no questions asked. We gave him a blessing and then I shared my story about falling out the window and then my Dad giving me a blessing and me being healed. The spirit was so strong and Noel is an awesome kid that will be a great example to his family. I'm so excited to help him work towards baptism and towards the priesthood. He is going to be a great father one day and is just an awesome kid. This week was just full of miracles that I can't really write down all of them in an email. We only have an hour of email but I can write a lot which is what I've been doing. If you or anyone you know would benefit from a letter or if you think I could help them don't be afraid to ask. I would love to write people and share experiences with them. 
I love you all more than I can express. I hope you are all safe and that you always strive to have the Holy Ghost abide with you. It helps you far more than you realize. 
God Love you, and I love you! 
-Elder Hanson

Other Side Notes from Elder Hanson this week: 
- The storms have slowed down there so it's not raining as much and he says he's getting good missionary tan lines. 
- He finally got his machete, which he gets to keep with him in the car. 
- The roads are so bad there that he says it would probably be faster and more comfortable just to walk. His companion is designated driver for now and seems to hit every pot hole ;) 
- Mostly everyone on the island speaks Pohnpeian so he's having to completely learn the language (he didn't have any teaching for it in the MTC). He said he's doing good but is excited for when he can be totally fluent. Prayers would probably help :) 
-The people there feed them so much and he says they are so loving and nice. 

Thank you all for your love and support! I'm sure he is definitely feeling the strength of your prayers! 

Week 2- Pohnpei

So this week was super awesome! We are opening an area so the first few days we really were just trying to get a basis that we could build off of like the members, a few solid investigators, and getting to know the Ward. The Stake President is seriously awesome! His family just had four boys return from their missions in the past month- all at once! We have been using them a lot to get a basis, to translate, and help us teach. They were all missionaries so they all know how to teach too and it's awesome. Their last name is Kalio so everyone just calls them the Kalio boys. I think of them more as stripling warriors! They are all so awesome and have such awesome testimonies. Also this week we got our first two baptismal dates. They are both on the 7th of November (which is the first time we can do them since they have to go to church three times first). General Conference will be this coming up week so I get to watch it twice!! Also this week I've really gotten to learn a lot of Pohnpeian. I'm starting to contribute more in lessons in Pohnpeian and not just translating. I'm also starting to get to know the Ward and the people a lot better because of it. The language is like no
language I've ever heard and it's really confusing at times. When I come back speaking it you are all going to wonder what planet I went to!!! Also the locals here are all really, really nice. You just walk up and say, “Hello” in Pohnpeian and they will at least talk to you and most of the time will let you teach them. Also I love the culture here. They really care about families and they are all super caring and loving. It pretty much rains every day all day so when I come back to Utah I'm going to die!!! My shoes are actually holding up pretty good however I think I may give in and commit social suicide and transition to Crocs.... We take our shoes off at pretty much every house and Crocs will help with that. During district meeting the Sister’s car got broken into so we have been driving them a lot. One thing that I've noticed is that even though the houses are branches
and corrugated steel, their cars are like 2015 Toyotas and stuff! Our car is a new Hyundai Tuscan and I love it. The roads here are really, really bad and the pot holes are everywhere so a car that is semi-high
is really nice for the deep ones. So a little bit about my apartment, it is pretty much painted plywood with some support beams. It's super weird because it's like two houses connected by a wall with a window in the middle. So to go from our kitchen and front room to our bedroom and shower we have to go outside and walk to the other door. We have 6 doors in our house that is about 30'x30'. It has a lot of doors. Also one thing I will always appreciate when I come home is warm water. I swear the water that we shower in is liquid ice! The water coming out of our tap is a good 30 degrees warmer than the water out of the shower and yes, we've tested it!!! We don't have any AC which really sucks sometimes but we have fans to keep us cool. The only thing that I haven't gotten used to yet is all of the ants. There are seriously probably about as many ants in
our apartment as there are people on Earth. Also I'm pretty sure ants started out in Pohnpei! Luckily there are tons of awesome little lizards which are my best friends. They eat ants by the hundreds every
day. They are super cool with bright blue tales and bright orange stomachs. Also there are some gecko looking things that have like suction cups on their feet and they are always on the ceiling and the walls. It’s cool to see them everywhere. There are so many different kinds of lizards and they are everywhere! Also something that's super weird is that there are chickens just walking around everywhere and pigs too! Pigs are considered pets here and they treat them so well. They are really mean to dogs which I don't like and all the dogs love me because I am the only one that will pet them. Seriously there are so many things that I can't really explain
through words and I will just have to show you pictures. Also look up Pohnpei on google and see where I'm living. It should be in the area Ohwa or Misihsou. It should be a house with big concrete stairs and a really nice view. Oh my view!!! Probably my favorite thing about our house. It is really pretty and it's awesome to see all the little islands in the morning. I love island life! It doesn't seem like I'm on an island sometimes because there aren't beaches and we are never by the shore but I love it here. The people here live so modestly and
they have a lot of American things, but also nothing at the same time. For example they will have a big TV but then live in thatched huts with dirt floors (which is what most people live in). Also if you want to try the food we eat make some Die Duhs! It is flour and banana mushed together into like a paste and then you deep fry it! You might need to add some sugar or something to it to make it as sweet as the ones here but it is by far my favorite food here- and probably ever!

I hope all is well with everyone at home! I would love people to write me letters or to email me!

My email is and the Islands Post Office is PO Box 2203 Kolonia, Pohnpei FSM 96941.

Also if anyone would like a hand carved Ukulele or a Lava Lava I would love to share the culture! I love you all and if there is anything I can do like an encouraging letter or something let me know! I love you all! You are all in my prayers! My scripture for you this week is D&C 4. It is my
mission scripture and it seriously helps me in my mission so much. I
hope that all of you will realize what our purpose here on Earth is
and try to learn and gain as much experience as you can while on this
Earth because we will be here for only a very short time compared to
Love -Elder Hanson
*** Also here are some excerpts from emails to the family. We asked him a couple of questions and these were some of his responses. Sorry for the weird formatting. It came that way and after fixing the whole email above ^ , I gave up :) Hopefully you get the gist. -Monica (Elder Hanson's sister)
 The food is great and we pretty much eat rice with every meal, which I
> love. Also my favorite food by far now in the world is called Die Duhs
> which is banana and flour, then deep fried! It is so good and I
> could eat it forever! you might need to add some sugar to it to make
> it as sweet as the bananas here! Also coconuts here are really good.
> They taste like if you added coconut flavoring to a semi flat sprite. Also they eat
> chicken a lot, Ramen Noodles and Spam with everything. Luckily our house
> does have mattresses and a mosquito net would be nice but it's just
> impractical here and no one uses them because you just put a fan on
> you at night and it keeps them away. So don't send one. Also I don't
> think they have yet (referring to packages that anyone has sent),
I haven't gotten them yet because the district
> leaders pick them up for us. I will see when they give them to me.
   The bugs I'm getting used to.
> I'm pretty sure ants originated from Pohnpei because they are
> seriously everywhere! I had a cough drop in my outside pocket in my
> bag and when we went to leave in the morning there was a solid stream
> about three inches wide of MILLIONS of ants coming in and out of my
> bag. Seriously I wanted to burn the house down.... But it's all fine
> and good now and I learned my lesson. Anything that can been chewed
> through and that has a smell we put in the fridge. P-days we study
> till around 10:30 then drive to Kolonia and we usually start emailing
> around noon. Then we go do laundry and then just do misc .things around
> town like fill up our car and groceries and paper and stuff. Then we
> play sports with all the missionaries. Today we might go see a waterfall but
people wanted to play rugby instead. We do have to pay for
> internet at internet caf├ęs but its usually around 2 dollars for an
> hour which is fine. Also everything here is super expensive! We get
> $215 every month which covers everything though. We do get fed pretty
> good by the locals and they are super nice. So like you guys have
> already been doing if you want to send candy in the packages that
> would be nice and I would love you forever, even though I already do!
> But a snickers is like $3 here. One thing I've noticed is that
> everything is sweet here and the tastes are completely different. Try
> making the Die Duhs!!! It's so good!!!!

FIrst Week in Pohnpei

      Kasalehlie!!! So our second day in Guam we found out where we would be spending the next two years of our lives! I was called to serve in the Misihsou Area on Pohnpei!!! Fun fact, Pohnpei is the second wettest place on Earth- aside from some place in the Amazon and it's not that far off from the jungle here. It has rained every day that I've been here and today is the first day that I've seen the Sun! To describe the humidity and the heat I would like you all to cook some Ramen Noodles, something that we eat a lot of here and stick your face above them where all the steam is going. That is pretty much what it feels like here!!! I haven't had to iron any of my clothes because I just hang them up and about an hour later they are nice and wrinkle free! Sorry to say but no pictures today :/ We have to travel to the main village here called Colonia to email. It is about an hour long drive from Misihsou and I forgot my card reader. I'm sure you will all look up Pohnpei on the internet and see all of the pretty sunsets, which I haven't seen yet, and the green which I see a lot of. Either way the best way I can describe my area is that it's like a jungle island that has cars and some of the houses are made of concrete or shipping containers and the rest are just made of sticks and palm leaves. It's interesting to see how there are only a select few things from America and civilization here. Speaking of civilization, I will always be thankful for hot water, especially while showering!!! I'm pretty sure that our shower water is the coldest thing on the island and is colder than our tap water! Any way all of our water is stored in a concrete water tank, like most of the island, and then we have a sketchy water pump that goes off and on all the time. The food is good here and pretty much everyone will give you food without you even asking. The coconuts or "ohp" (pronounced "ooop") are good but not as good as I thought they would be. I haven't had any banana or pineapple yet though. People say it's really good. In Colonia they have a place called Hot Plate. It's actually really, really good and I love it. It's the closest thing to McDonalds but it's so much better. We eat everything here with our hands which I have adapted well to ;) Crocs (they were on my mission list of stuff to bring) are actually probably the best shoe to wear as there is always mud everywhere because it hasn't stopped raining for more than an hour since I've been here. Umbrellas don't work because the rain comes in sideways. My Zone consists of Elder Lee and Elder Pond, Elder Slack and Elder Hurst, Elder Ruiz and Elder Jenkins, Elder Fiskus and Elder Bourne, Sister Latu and Sister Park and Sister William with Sister Walquist. We all get along very well and I think I'm picking the language up pretty fast actually. Elder Paewie and I are actually trying to get my mastery within 6 weeks which is hopefully possible because in 3 days I can already say basic intros and say a basic prayer and testimony. It's weird to see the language because I have never heard anything even remotely close to it! My body is always sticky and moist which I'm actually getting used to so that's good. Another thing is that we all get to have a machete and keep it in our car for when we do service or "muht" which means cutting back the jungle. The letter "t" makes a "ch" sound and "h"'s just make the letter before it more drawn out. The people are very nice and our ward is very strong. Our area is a white wash area and that's why it was closed down for so long.  I never told you but me and my companion are re-opening an area that's been closed for about 2 transfers or 3 months. It has arguably the nicest chapel in the FSM (Federated States of Micronesia). Every night they have Institute where a ton of people come and hang out and it's a great opportunity to see and meet investigators. Oh another thing that you don't know is that I got assigned a companion with my call! His name is Elder Paewei pronounced, "Pie-why". He's from New Zealand. I already have a New Zealand accent because I've been trying to learn Pohnpeian so much that I picked up his as well. He likes to sing and play sports which is awesome! Also we get along very well and kid around with each other a lot. In a very short amount of time I've done and learned a lot. I forgot that I never emailed about Guam too. Our first night we were picked up by President Zarbock and he gave us all hugs right off the plane which I liked and then we picked up our bags and left. I thought we would go and have an orientation since it was like 6ish at night and we'd be traveling for days. But no, he decided that it would be good for us to go tracting with random companionships at 8 o'clock at night, which is usually when people are starting to go to sleep. It was a struggle to say the least. Especially since we weren't without usual companions and we were all new. The next day we had our orientation thing and found out where we were going and who our companions were. Then we went tracting again and it sucked because everyone was asleep again. The third day we actually went earlier when people weren't asleep and we had a lot of awesome experiences. A guy named Cheech came up to us as we were playing with some kids and said that he was less active and that he would like the spirit in his life again. We went to his apartment and had a lesson which I taught for the most part. Halfway through after Cheech told us his story and that he needs help in his life I had a prompting to give him a priesthood blessing. The priesthood is REAL!!! The spirit was so strong and the whole lesson was so good!! The spirit is like my favorite friend ever!!! Another time my companion and I were walking down the road and we saw this really nice basketball court with lights and we really wanted to play. I suggested that we pray to make sure that playing with the people would be beneficial to us and them and that they would hear our message. After the prayer we both had the feeling of "why not" or "sure" so we started walking. The first guy we talked to was Pohnpeian. He was the first one that we saw that wasn't from Chuke, which is where most people from Guam are from. We thought, “Oh this is the guy we are supposed to teach.” We walked around and started talking to him but were then swiftly told to leave because apparently it was a Baptist college/high school. On our way out we stopped and talked to this one girl, about 18, who was working out by herself. She told us that she used to be a member and then stopped going and but somehow ended up there. We told her that we had just been kicked out and we couldn't stay long but we told her to pray and that God would answer her. We walked about a mile down the road and then I had another prompting that we should go back home. On our way home we stopped by some apartments across from the college and after getting the door slammed in our face that girl we talked to earlier came running over ad told us that is was a Baptist owned complex. We thanked her for letting us know but then a miracle happened! She said that the real reason she came was to give us her number and that she wanted us to call her. She said that she would be kicked out if the Baptist's found out but that she knew it was worth the risk! It was seriously one of the most mind-blowing experiences. We didn't get a solid “yes” or solid “no” answer and the reason was that the basketball court wasn't the answer but something else that would come from it! God does work in mysterious ways and His work will go forth no matter what! I hope that I can continue to learn the language and be able to teach the people in their native tongue, with the Spirit, and that I will be able to help and serve them in any way they need. I will send lots of pictures and update you more next week. Thank you for all your love and support. Kasalehl! (Goodbye)

Elder Hanson