Sunday, December 13, 2015

Decmeber 13th, 2015: Christlike Attributes

This week was actually a really humbling week for me. Me and my companion went through all of the Christ-like attributes and found ways that we could improve on each. Even though most were just simple corrections, some were things that I hadn't even realized I had been doing. Even though me and my companion were doing good work and working hard every day, we realized how much better we could be doing. I would say we are a pretty obedient companionship but I realized that it goes far beyond just being an obedient companionship. There is a difference between teaching the lessons and teaching investigators. When we were doing our Christ-like attributes I realized that I need to be a lot more loving to people. I had always thought that I was loving and I felt like I loved most people. I have realized that I need to love everyone and really get to know them. They aren't just investigators that I want to share the Gospel with, they are my brothers and sisters. It's not people that I have never met before, but instead people that I don't remember meeting. Before we came to Earth we lived with God and Jesus. We being all of the people on Earth. These people that we teach really aren't just strangers, they are our brothers and sisters. In a talk by Troy Dunn titled "Life is a Football Game" it talks about how when God gave us the choice to choose Jesus or Lucifer. 1/3 of our brothers and sisters chose to follow Lucifer. I think a lot of times we don't realize that they were our brothers and sisters. People that we played basketball with, people we hung out around within our Eternal Family Room and people we did their hair or had dinner with. Lucifer had enough power and enough persuasion to take 1/3 of our brothers and sisters. If he has that much power to do that, think of how hard he can and is working on the rest of us. I realized that even though I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and being what I thought was a pretty good missionary, there is always something we can be doing to improve. One of the things that I always try to remember from my mission president is to never plateau. Never stop progressing. Even though people sometimes think that missionaries are perfect, we work every day to better ourselves so that we can better others. I created an analogy that I think describes our life on Earth and our testimonies. 

On the big Christmas Tree of Life we have many many instances that build our testimony in God and Jesus Christ. Each one of these instances is like a little light on a Christmas tree. As we see the Hand of God in our lives and see what he has done for use we add to those lights, we add and we add until we have an entire tree that is bright, illuminated and gives light to others. At the head of all of our Christmas trees is, as the name Christ-mas refers to, Christ. He is the Christmas Star, the Star of Bethlehem at the top of our Christmas tree. All of our testimonies and all of the little things we see in our life, testify of Him. He is the shining light in all of our lives, the pinnacle of light and at the top of our Tree. He is the example that we are trying to be like and the only way we can return back. Everyone always try to remember the true meaning behind Christmas. Even though that is good, we need to realize what the true meaning of this life is for. Jesus Christ suffered for our sins so that we can return to Heaven to live with our Father. We qualify for the Atonement, it is not something that is forced upon us. As we really do try to remember the real miracle of the birth of the Son of God, let us also remember the miracle of the Atonement. As we remember the birth of our Savior, think about the true meaning of Savior. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year because of the birth of Christ. It is the time when we remember the gift our Father gave us. The give of Life Eternal. I know that no one is perfect, but I also know that everyone can work on becoming so. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us so very much, and I wish I could show just a fraction of His love with all of you. I know that Jesus is the Savior for each and every one of us and that he would have done the Atonement for even just one of us. I know without a shadow of a doubt that He loves us, that if we could see Him right now He would hug us and tell us how much He loves us. He is our Big
Brother, the one that helps us through the troubles of life. I know these things, and I say them in the name or our Brother, and Savior of Mankind, Jesus Christ, Amen.

December 6th, 2015: Power Outage

This week I have really focused on the language. I have realized that learning the language should be my top priority because without knowing the language I can't teach the people. I am actually getting really close to my language mastery and I am hoping to have the paper back from my Mission President by Christmas. I can teach the first three lessons pretty well now but the commandments and laws and ordinances are hard to explain in Pohnpeian. I do truly love this language though. There are some really cool things when you translate them to English. If you translate Charity it is Perfect Love, if you translate Family Home Evening it is Eternal Family. If you translate Temple it is Holy Mansion. There are lots of really cool things that when you translate them they are super simple but really are true. I think sometimes people overcomplicate things and don't really understand or focus on the basic meaning or basic goal of things. In General Conference they talked a lot about "Simplifying our Discipleship". I have really been trying to work on that and have been really trying to take the simple approach and work off of that. Really a mission makes you appreciate the simple things, the things that are looked passed and not noticed. Like the gift of family, friends, and parents. Being apart from all of that really make you realize how important they are and how much you love them. Every time I start to get homesick it is almost like a new boost of adrenaline. When I think of how much I love my family and love my home I think of all those that think that death is the end. That there is no life after this life and that they will only be with their family for their time on earth. It really makes me want to help them learn that there is something more than this Earth. Something that is so amazing and eternal. All too often people think that our time here on Earth is long, hard, and sometimes wonder if it's worth it. When you realize that eternity has no end, it is not measured in years and cannot be measured. I think that a long time from now we will look back at our time here on Earth and realize how easy it really was. We only had to endure hardships for a short time to receive eternal blessings. Coming to an Island where the people get a 20lbs bag of rice and that is their food for a month, has really helped me realize just how good our lives really are. The people here live on either concrete slabs with rusty metal roofs or live on soggy plywood that can barely hold their weight. The house that we live in is a mansion compared to the houses of the locals. Yet compared to houses in America it is a dump. Being in a place where the people have so little, a place where the people are thankful for the smallest things like being able to make it through one more week with their family. It really makes you appreciate how much excess people have in America and how they are always wanting more. I feel like I am always asking for more when these people have nothing. I've noticed that my prayers have really changed from asking God to bless me to learn or to do this or that to be prayers to help the people. To help them grow their testimony and to really listen to us. In my letter to President Zarbock I talked about how being on a mission you are always trying to help others and always praying for others. In the end those people end up helping you more than you helped them. I say this a lot but in the past little while I have learned more about life in general and how to live on your own, but what’s more important than that is I've learned how to take care of myself spiritually. Instead of just sitting in sacrament and not really listening, I now listen intently because I might miss something. I now read my scriptures because I want to learn something, not just to say I read them. I've really come to understand the why behind things and my life has changed because of it. I would like all of you to pick up The Bible, The Book of Mormon, D&C, or Pearl of Great Price and just read. Read until you feel like reading. I promise you that as you read you will see how the things are
applicable to our life. Those books are not just things that our Church believes in, they are help from God. All the miracles that had to happen for them to come about and all the things they talk about and help us with really are amazing. We really do take them for granted. God is our Heavenly Father. He really does love us and wants to help us. He has given us so much help and help that is straight from Him. I have come to love the Bible and Book of Mormon. They really are truly books not of this Earth. God knew that sometimes we wouldn't accept His help, so He had prophets write it down so when we were ready we could receive help. I know that God loves us and He knows us. His hand is always stretched out and all we have to do it accept His help. I love you all and I know our Father in Heaven loves you all. Until we meet again -Elder Hanson

November 29th, 2015 : Thankagiving on an Island

It's really weird not having seasons anymore because I went through the whole summer in Utah and then just as it was starting to cool down, I came to the Sun, or as some people call it Pohnpei. When it rains here it’s really cool because it is always really warm rain and we are so used to it now that we just keep walking and umbrellas are just not very useful because you are already drenched in sweat because of the humidity. When it rains on a hot day the water hits the pavement and then pretty much evaporates and so when you are walking or driving it’s just steaming up water and it’s really cool to watch but not really fun to walk through. I think I have finally adjusted to Crocs and they are really just part of life now. I am honestly tempted to come back after my mission and wear Crocs. This week has really made me appreciate all of the different cultures around the world. Having Thanksgiving on an Island was definitely different. While everyone else was doing their Thanksgivings with Rice, Coconuts, and maybe they got some special corned beef. The people here really are so humble and really don't have anything at all. I'm pretty sure if I sold all the clothes that I had and all the things I have right now I could live in Pohnpei for a year without working. Even though the people here don't have much, they can still make it through with nothing. That has been one of the most motivating things on my mission so far, knowing that these people haven't tasted of the Fruit of the Tree of Life. They haven't had the Gospel in their lives or seen the difference that is makes. We have the best teammates anyone could imagine in God and Jesus Christ. It's amazing that people don't realize that they are playing on the same team and that our Father in Heaven wants to play with us. He wants to help us and help us become better and practice. I've really noticed the difference in the life of our Recent Convert compared to the people that live around him. We are currently teaching all the people that live by him and they are all progressing really well. And it all started with one man, who went down every wrong road there was until finally he found the right one. He found the path not by asking for help but by trial and error. Now that he has found it, he holds onto it so tight and wants to share with others how they can have it too. He really has such a strong testimony and I know he will help others in their lives. He will receive the priesthood and baptize his daughter. I have really come to realize how powerful the priesthood is and how important it is. Being able to say that I hold the authority to work in the name of God is truly something we take for granted. Also priesthood blessings are blessings where God works through man to bless other men. It all starts from God. Everything good is of God. I know that the closer you are to God, the more he can bless you. He wants to bless everything so much but sometimes we are too far away to receive the blessings. I was reading about how the people in the Book of Mormon would pitch their tents in the direction of the temple. Are our homes directed to the Savior? Do we have a house of worship, a house of prayer, a house of fasting, and a house of love? If not, change it. Our whole purpose on Earth is to return to our Heavenly Father with our Families. I know that God wants us to return to Him more than we can imagine. I love you all and I know that God loves you all. I hope that you will keep your homes like the temple, and be a house of God. Even if we are not reading scriptures and stuff like that, even just a peaceful atmosphere will help fix any problem. I love you all! And I know God loves you!
-Elder Hanson

November 22nd, 2015: First Baptism!

This week we got our first Baptism!!!! It was the first baptism in our area in a really really long time. So when we told people that we were getting a baptism they didn't believe us at first. I was writing in my Journal the other night and I was thinking about how much Andero has changed from when we very first met him. He has progressed so much from when we first met him and I can see the light in his eyes now. When he was baptized I finally felt like all this work that I've been doing was worth it. Honestly I would work for 10 years just to get that one person to change their lives enough to be baptized. Because I've been baptized for a long time it never really occurred to me what it would be like to never feel the Spirit, to never know what the warm feeling inside is and what it means. There's no better feeling than watching the spirit just chip away at a person until finally the Spirit breaks through and they finally understand why all of this is so important and why all of the things that we teach can help them. I did another object lesson to describe this the other day. I really try to use things that the locals have and will see a lot, so this week I chose coconuts. I explained how when we first came to this Earth we were all coconuts. We have a hard outer shell that was ugly and undesirable. Throughout our lives we have moments where the Holy Ghost chips away at that hard outer shell. Some experiences might be bigger than others and some might be just a little scuff, but eventually the Spirit breaks through to the pure light of Christ that is in us. If you were to look at a Coconut on the ground and see this ugly brown ball you would just kick it aside and keep walking, but God knows what's inside each and every one of us. Potential. God knows what we can become and He knows what challenges we have to overcome so that we can know that. There is a scripture in Jacob 4:15? , it talks about how God gives us weaknesses so that we can know that we have power to overcome them. I know that Andero had a lot of things that he did wrong but honestly he is one of the strongest members now, not because of his knowledge of the Gospel but because he's been down all the wrong paths until he found the right one. There is a quote that I like that says, the most beautiful lawns are the lawns that took the most weeding. I think that is so true in life. The better we want to be the more we have to work and weed out the bad in our lives. As missionaries we are constantly weeding out the little things and even big things that keep us from being effective missionaries. Even though they might only be a small weed sticking up, to others walking by they stick out like a sore thumb. I know that becoming Christ-like is not a one-time thing but a constant process. All of our investigators get out what they put in. When they finally realize that is when they realize they need help and that through us, God and Jesus Christ can give them that help. I know that missionary work is the most important work second only to the work we do within our families. And we don't have to have a name tag on to help someone out. We are all brothers and sisters and we all need help. So my challenge is for all of you to find 1 person each day and help them in a small way. Even if it is just keeping them in your prayers. Just help others, when you are in the service of your fellow man you are only in the service of your God. The best way to serve God is to serve others! I realize now that this life is to test us on how we treat others. To test us to think outside ourselves and to sacrifice a little of our time to help others. There are so many ways to help other people but the best way is to SMILE!!!!! -Elder Hanson

November 15th, 2015

My Pohneian is actually getting kinda good! I can teach a basic first lesson now and understand most of the conversations to a point. I'm learning really fast now because now it's just kinda filling in little words and learning the big ones. Really being thrown into the language was a really big struggle at first but now I think it really did help just because I was forced to learn the language instead of just getting away with talking English. I'm excited to write talks and stuff in Pohnpeian and then send a copy home to you all to see what it looks like. Everyone keeps saying that I will lead my area this transfer which I'm super nervous for. Because I pretty much lead the lessons and lead most of the stuff. It will be hard at first but I know I will learn a lot. Seriously a mission is really just a big learning experience for life. All of the stuff that we didn't learn in school about life I am now learning. It's so weird to be actually teaching real people with real lives and to become such a big part of their lives so fast. I'm excited to keep in touch with my converts. Speaking of converts, we will have our first baptism this Saturday! His name is Andero and he is a super nice guy and loves his daughter so much! We are asking him tomorrow who he wants to baptize him and I could get my first baptism this week! I really do feel all of the prayers and all of the love from everyone! I know that the excitement is starting to die down about my mission at home but here the spiritual party is still going!!;) Every day we have little cool experiences with the spirit and then every week almost without fail there are really cool things that happen that are just the cherry on top. Me and my companion really do work pretty hard and are always working towards more people to teach. We consistently hit out mission standard of excellence which is something that I want to do my whole mission. Really the harder you work the more you are rewarded. We do work a lot but the work seems so easy. Because we aren't working for ourselves we are working for others. I don't know if I will hit my wall soon or what but to me missionary work is awesome. I just love being able to help people but it doesn't feel like we are preaching to them and shoving repentance down their throats. We are simply inviting them and when they finally let the spirit break down their human side they realize that they are sons and daughters of God. I've been learning so much about our relationship to God and to Jesus Christ and everything like that on my mission. But it's not that I go searching for it it just kinda happens and then it finally clicks in my mind. I've been trying to do a lot of object lessons for the people here because words sometimes just bounce right off them but if you get them to get up and do something they remember it and mention it a lot. One of the ones I've used is using a Nipe or what we call a machete. I ask them what a machete is used for and they say Meht, which means pretty much cut back the jungle or do yard work. I explain that it is an instrument to accomplish sometime, it's a tool. I then ask what is a machete made out of and they say metal. I ask where that metal came from and usually they don't know. I then explain how metal comes from rocks that are heated up a lot and put under a lot of pressure until after you heat it up and separate all the bad rock, you have metal that can be used. I tell them that after you get the metal then you pour it in to a mold. That mold gives us a basic shape but the machete isn't finished yet. After you get the basic shape then comes the refining and the sharpening. I explain that after you get it really sharp you have to keep sharpening it because it gets dull every time you use it. I then explain that that is how we are to God. When we first came to Earth we were raw metal ore. But as God put us through trials and through the hard times, we were melted down, all of the bad that is in us is separated until we are humble enough to be molded. After we admit and submit ourselves to God then comes the sharpening. Sharpening a blade is a slow process that takes a little bit of metal off at a time until you get to a fine point. Then I bring it all together and say that God can't use metal ore or a rock to cut grass or meht the jungle but He can use a machete. He needs us to constantly be sharpening ourselves and to constantly read the scriptures and to pray to sharpen our blade so He can use us. I explain it a lot better in lessons but I think you get the jist of it. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that even though sometimes we may not see why we have to go through the "refiners fire" that God has a much bigger plan for us than we can imagine. Sometimes people think that God is a god and that He is so far above us that He doesn't know us. Though he is God and is far above us, He is still our Father. He created us and He watched our Spirits grow. He knows each and every one of us and He created a life for each one of us that has the potential to make us the best that we can be. I would like to leave you all with a challenge. To every time you go through a hard situation or sometime doesn't go your way, I want you to think of something good in that situation and what God wants you to learn. Sometimes the problems we run into are meant to be problems to show us that that way isn't the right way. It's God giving us a little nudge that we need to get back on the path. As I've met all these missionaries so far on my mission I've notices that the ones who truly work the hardest and that are the best teachers, are the ones that first had to be taught. The ones that opened their ears instead of their mouths. Our Zone Leader Elder Nelson said a really good quote that I like that goes like this. "Satan once laughed at me when he saw that my head was down, until I looked up and said Amen." One thing that I really want to accomplish on my mission is to every morning when I wake up, I want Satan to think "Oh crap, he's awake" . I want Satan to be afraid of me and of the power that I have, we really don't realize the power that we have over Satan and that he can't have any power over us unless we let him. I know that God is our loving heavenly father and that He will and wants to help us. I love you all more that I can express and I know that God loves you all more than you can imagine. I hope you never feel down on yourself and if you are looking down to look up, look up to Heaven and ask for help. HE WILL HELP YOU! I know He will help you. I love you all and so does He!