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

October 23rd, 2016: My Roots

Transfers were last night and I'm still staying in Kitti!!!! It's crazy to think that at the end of this transfer I will have been here for 1 year. I have put so much work into this area and for a while it felt like nothing was happening and our investigators weren't really going anywhere. Lately though we have met a lot of awesome families and people that are really prepared. I have hope and faith that this transfer will be a transfer of baptisms! We have two families of over 10 people each that are progressing really well. They are reading and most people have prayed and received an answer that it's true.
One of the families that we meet, the Lorenzo’s, have been going very good and a couple of their daughters have a strong testimony that it's true. The father is only there some of the time so we usually have to bring a man with us to teach them. The other day as we were talking with Sister Lorenzo we found out that the husband has been secretly listening in and watching our lessons from the bushes since the very beginning!
He loved everything that we taught and wanted to know if it was true for himself. He prayed to have a dream that would tell him if it was true or not and that night he had a dream and he knows that it's true! This family just keeps getting better and better and one by one they are all getting their testimonies that it's true!
I'm so very grateful that God has given us so many ways to receive and strengthen our testimonies.  Just pause and think for a second at all the things God has given us to learn. The Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine of Covenants, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, Prayer, the Holy Ghost, Parents, Siblings, Friends, the Internet, Books galore, and countless other things just to let us know what to do. From the time we were little we were taught how to follow instructions, it prepared us for the most important instructions we would receive, those being the ones from our Father in Heaven through His chosen Prophet. This week, I know it was late, I got to hear from our Prophet and the Apostles of God and can I say what a blessed people we are.  We have received so much direction and instruction from God I don't think He could make it any clearer for us. He literally has elaborated on His plan through the complexity of the Bible, narrowed it down in the Book of Mormon, and just to be sure we understood it perfectly He gave us 13 simple articles to state what His plan is. I think of a young teenager trying to help their grandparents figure out basic functions on their computer and getting overly frustrated with them that they don't immediately comprehend something that they have already worked out for themselves. I also draw a comparison from that to how God must feel towards us, Though He will never get frustrated or storm out of the room, He will always explain and re-explain until the day when our minds fully understand. I'm grateful that He has given us General Conference to explain to us every 6 months His plan to us again. We need these things in our lives and there are so many people who don't have them. The Church has been stressing missionary work so much lately and I think there is a reason behind that. Our neighbors need these things in their lives, they may not know how to use them or why they are important, but they do.
I'm grateful for the patience that my own parents and family have had with me in explaining things over and over again. There are many things I don't understand yet but I do know that this is the Only Living and True Church of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the blessings I have received and now I get to share. I understand that the Atonement was necessary and that we are not given the blessings of the Atonement but we qualify for them through our repentance. I understand that God will not force us to return to Him and that only through our own choices we understand and follow His plan. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

October 16th, 2016: Crazy Week

So I'm just going to go quickly through the big things that happening this week so you can see how crazy this week was. Monday: No P-day, instead we had Zone Conference with President Zarbock which was awesome and really helped us. Tuesday was P-day and super fun. Also we started an exchange with the Zone Elders. Wednesday: Walking Wednesday, which means no cars at all- just walking, finding, and getting to know people. Then ended our exchange. Thursday: One of our members, CJ was hit by a car about ten feet from us. It was a drunk driver going about 50mph + in a 25. We were down from the road at a less actives house and heard a crunch, turned around to see him flying through the air into some banana tress. We ran over there to help him out and we was all covered in blood and stuff. People started running towards us to help and we flagged down a car on the road and they took him to the hospital. Even though we could see bone from his arm and thought it was broken he didn't brake a single bone in his body. Just a lot of scrapes, cuts and a chunk out of the muscle in his elbow. The even crazier thing is that he just got back from a two month trip to Hawaii to get the skin on his neck fixed from when he burned it as a kid. He just barely got back and now this happened. It really was a miracle that nothing worse happened. Now he's back at home playing play-station with his family as if nothing happened at all. Friday: Weekly planning for half the day. Saturday: we had a Baptism! Moglee got Baptized! It was a good baptism and we had a couple investigators there. All went well and now he's super excited to come out with us. Sunday: I gave the gift of the Holy Ghost for the first time in my life and not only that it was in Pohnpeian. It went really good and the Spirit really helped me. This week has just been one crazy thing after another. It's been super short yet super long. I guess that's enough craziness for one week. There is so much to tell about what happened this week but we only get an hour to email. I hope all is well in America and that everyone is strong and healthy. Love you all!
Elder Hanson

October 9th, 2016: Waiting Upon the Lord

All throughout my mission probably one of the biggest things that I've learned is Patience. Being patient with myself, God, and my investigators. President Zarbock has always taught us to wait upon the Lord in our lessons and let the Spirit come and sink into the hearts of our investigators. For the longest time I always tried to do that but haven't been able to consistently do it. However, as of lately I've been doing a lot better at it. One of the families we teach, the Lorenzos, have been going really well. A common thing on these islands is that people believe that all churches work together and that if a church teaches about Jesus Christ then it is the church of Jesus Christ. Sister Lorenzo told us about how for a long time she thought this but then recently learned that that is not true and she wants to find the right church. One of their many daughters, Marab has awesome faith and took our challenge to read and pray to know if it's true. She also came and saw a baptism and was tearing up from the spirit. Then just recently she bore her testimony to us as Stake Conference about how hard it is in her family because her and another sister have received an answer but the 8 remaining in her family have not yet and for lack of a better word "persecute" them. We have been praying very hard for them and even did a fast for them, that Sister Lorenzo and her family would be able to feel the Spirit and be able to know for themselves. Last night we had a very powerful lesson with the spirit. We were talking about the Temple and the blessings that come from it. We related it back to the Priesthood and how it was restored and there is evidence to prove it, ie the Book of Mormon. We watched a quick video of the temples and after just waited. We just smiled and looked around at all their faces as they started to feel the Spirit for the first time. It was one of the coolest things ever to see the Spirit work on them one by one. I asked Sister Lorenzo what she felt and she said "it feels like my heart just fell from me, I've never felt like this before." Of this I can testify, when we are patient, blessings happen. All we did was smile and wait. It worked so well and I know it works on all of us. Just like with bread rising, if we start too soon, we won't get the desired result. I love you all and I'm doing my best to be patient on my mission and helping others. I love you all! See you sooner than you think!
Elder Hanson

September 18th, 2016: Preparing Every Needful Thing

This week was a crazy week with lots and lots of miracles. To start off the week we were planning on doing service for this family on Tuesday. It was raining really bad but we told them we would so we wanted to keep our word. We went and they weren't there so we just came back to our house soaking wet. Because of the rain the power had gone out the day before and we couldn't cook any food. We said a prayer that the power would come back on so we could make food and help us get ready for the day. Nothing happened but I felt like we should prepare everything so when it came on we would be able to make food and get to work asap. We did that and put the raw meat in the pan, and everything just kinda sitting there. I suggested that we shower first as well and get everything done before. We did and as we got everything ready so that all we needed to do was eat and leave, the power came back on. We both realized what had happened and that was the first miracle. The second was that a less active member had just moved to our area because the area where he lived was causing him trouble and he wanted to change schools to help him. We met him, had a quick lesson with him and his family and the next day put his uncle on a baptismal date. Their whole family is super awesome and I know that they will be great investigators. The third was also meeting a new investigator. We had heard that there was a kid who had wanted to meet with us but we hadn't met with him yet. Yesterday we finally met him and had a great lesson with him and he really want to change. He is also now on baptismal date and is excited to learn. The fourth was after that lesson.  A lady flagged us down as we drove by and she told us her car had ran out of gas. She told us she was a less active member and that she knew she could trust us. She asked us if we could go to the gas station and get her some gas. Because it was Sunday I didn't want to buy any gas but I knew that God would tell us what to do. We asked the less active to give us a prayer and she gave one of the most humble prayers I've seen in a long time where is was like she was actually talking to her Father. After that we tried all the members and eventually drove to our Branch Presidents house down the road and asked if he had any gas laying around. He thought for a second and said, "you know what, yesterday I went to the gas station and payed $10 for gas for Brother Daniel to give rides but for some reason he didn't come today, maybe that's the reason." We went and got the gas without having to pay for it and helped the lady out. When we got back to her, her husband had woken up and told us how he was really drunk right then but that he wanted us to come help him get over it. Even though we were kinda skeptical we told him we would have some Elders go see them. The less active girl really had been prepared for a long time, as she told us her story, God has been preparing her for a long time. Finally the fifth miracle was also yesterday at a family home evening. We have been trying to get a investigator to church for a long time but because of some bad blood between her family and another family in the branch she didn't want to come. We invited her to a family home evening with that family last night and we had been praying and fasting (combined as a district to help us start to get the work progressing) that the lesson would go well and they would love one another. The father asked us to teach on Charity so we did and the spirit really changed hearts in that lesson. By the end, half the people were crying and the father and mother of one of the family started crying really bad and telling our investigator how sorry they were for being so rude to them and asked for forgiveness from them and hoped she wouldn't hate them. It was such a beautiful moment to sit back and watch the Spirit work with our investigators and members and really see them work together and love one another. I'm so grateful for the miracles we have seen this week and I know there is so much power in fasting. I know that by prayer and fasting all things all possible. I love you all and invite you all to do this and receive the blessings of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Hanson

September 11th, 2016: Becoming a Pohnpeian

They say you are what you eat so I think after my mission I'm going to be full blooded Pohpneian. This week we received and bought a lot of local food from these awesome people. We've had probably 30 coconuts in just the last week with two bunches of bananas and tons of local fish. These people truly are a blessed people and I'm so grateful I am able to serve them. This week we will be hiking up to some radio towers on Sokehs rock and looking out over all of Pohnpei. It's so cool to see the airport which is just a strip of land in the ocean and to see the little docks and things all around the island. Pohnpei truly is a one of a kind island. It has it's massive artillery guns and bunkers with all these little tunnels- it's super awesome. I truly wish you all could be here with me and we could see these things together but I guess that's something we will have to work for.
As for missionary work this week it was a good but fast week. It went by super fast and it's crazy to think that it's over now. We didn't have as many member present lessons as we wanted to have but we are getting better. We just got a Branch Mission leader and he lives next to us so we will be having a lot of meetings with him and start to get the work going. He told us last night about his plan to have every person from the ward pick one person that they want to fellowship and help receive a testimony and they will set up an appointment at their house and we will come and teach that person. It's just so awesome to see the members realizing and getting excited for the work. I hope they continue to have enthusiasm and want to really help their friends and families.
I've noticed that all around the world there is an increasing urgency for missionary work and the church as a whole is pushing this really hard. I think that the work really is hastening and the missionaries can't do it alone, it has to be the church, the full body that works together. We could say that the missionaries are the legs, the members are the arms and hands of God, the prophet is the head and guides the church with the priesthood being the heart and soul of the body of Christ. One without the other and the church would fall. That's why it's so important and the work works when we all work together. We challenged all of the members in our branch to find a friend and teach them about the Restoration of the Gospel, then gave them a pamphlet and told them they have till next week to give it away. I would invite all of you and especially my family at home to do the same. Ask the missionaries for a Restoration Pamphlet and Book of Mormon and find someone to give it to. Think of all the people in the church, if we just focused on one person, took ten minutes a day to focus on one other person we would have millions and millions of converts. Please be God's hands in this great work. Sometimes the legs get tired. We need your help!!
I love you all!
Elder Hanson

September 4th, 2016: Really Worshipping God & Time Flies

*Elder Hanson had a different P-Day last week because of the Zone Conference so he sent his email during the middle of the week. I combined it with this week.

Really Worshipping God

I would like to start off and tell each and every one of you how much I love you and miss you all. I know that we might be thousands of miles away but help is only a prayer away.  
This week we had a special Zone Conference with Elder Yamishita of the Seventy, who is also going to be speaking in Conference soon, and President Zarbock. Zone Conferences are always super spiritual and they always help me answer all the questions I have. A couple weeks ago I realized that missionary work is work. Now I'm slowing figuring out and feeling that work. This week we worked hard and found a lot of people. Most were not interested in baptism but nevertheless we are finding more people. A new key indicator or rather a new number we report each week to show our work is the number of people being asked to be baptized. Our mission president was very bold but spoke the truth and told us that if we aren't asking people to be baptized and work towards that then why are we there. If we aren't asking them to change, we shouldn't be there in the first place. I feel like that principle is a general principle that we can apply to almost everything. If we don't ask people to do something with what we teach them, why did we teach them in the first place. I often try to use the things I learn here and think about how I will use it in my future life. I think of if we teach our children to never drink but never ASK them to actually do it and SHOW them we don't want them to do it, that teaching doesn't reach its full potential. Often times when I went to church and seminary we would have a great lesson where the Spirit was there and I learned alot but because I never used any of it afterwards, I forgot it all and the Spirit died down. This week we asked almost every person we had a lesson with if they would be baptized. I was amazed at how easy it was to find their concern so quickly and it really opened up their hearts. We received answers from "are you crazy, I'm a Baptist Preacher!" to "yes I would like that very much." 
To be honest I am not the best missionary, nor will I ever be. I am not the smartest or the most spiritual. However one thing I have always tried to do is be the kind of person that if God asked me to do something, whether it be to tell someone something out of the ordinary or to do something that might seem peculiar that I would do it. This week at Zone Conference Sister Zarbock spoke of the word Worship. The first time it is used in the Old Testament is when Abraham was about to put Isaac on the altar to follow Gods command. The first time in the New Testament is also when a sacrifice was about to be made. Sometimes we think that all we have to do is show up to church and we are worshiping God. We fail to realize that that was never true worship, worshiping is like a cause and effect system. When we are actually putting something into church, when we are causing us to learn, the effect is the Spirit teaching us and blessings come more freely.
Speaking of this I would like to add a little from something that just happened. We are emailing in a computer lab and a member just came up and gave us food and drinks. She told us how she was a member from a local ward and that her daughter had served her mission in Hawaii. She told us how she wishes that people would have done those things to her daughter and she said that she wanted to show she cared. 
This Sister Mark just showed her true worship to God. Sister Mark was just a miracle to two Elders she doesn't even know. She became a blessing to others and now in return I know she will receive her own blessings because of this. By the phrase "our actions define who we are" God is the ultimate blessing because all blessings come from Him. If we are truly trying to be like Jesus, let's show it. Let's bring something to the table. I last week could've done better, but this week I will be better. I love you all. See you soon!
Elder Hanson

Time Flies!

This week flew by! We were so busy doing one thing after another and the whole week just flew by! We did a lot of work finding and meeting new people this week. We have really been talking to everyone and because of it we had a lot of lessons. We are starting to find more people to teach but our investigators are doing well. Baby is really doing well, we just need to wait for her mom to come from America for her to be baptized. Shenelly is doing awesome, except for actually coming to church. She is keeping the word of wisdom but she just needs to come to church. We re-met this family who is a part member family. They seemed kind of fake interested in us last time but this time they are really reading and really wanting to know. Their names are Darney, Balomo, Radon, and Angeles. They are actually reading and progressing and it's awesome! I'm so happy for them and they are really starting to change.
The biggest thing that happened this week was probably an exchange with our Zone Leaders. Elder Lee came here to Kitti and we had a blast together. I learned a lot! The biggest thing is to talk to everyone, and I mean everyone! We had so many lessons this week and met so many new people just by talking to everyone.  We literally took an hour to make a ten minute walk because we just went back and forth across the street so we could talk with everyone! It was awesome! We met so many nice people and so many rude people this week. It was a hard week that had a lot of ups and downs but that's what a mission is! There wasn't anything super special this week and I know you all want a break from my emails so just know that I love you all and I think about you all in the ten seconds I'm not thinking of my investigators! I love you all soo much!
See you soon!
Elder Hanson

August 21st, 2016: Back on Pohnpei

This week was a kind of up and down week. As we were saying bye to all of our new friends in Guam and telling them to keep strong and keep learning I also missed all the people in Pohnpei. While on Guam we learned a lot on really just how to be better missionaries. I got to see a lot of great work and get to know other missionaries around the mission better. I also got to know President Zarbock even more and talk to him about some things. I also got permission to learn Chuukese so I will be adding that to my Pohnpeian language study every day! Ran Allim! 
As we got back to Pohnpei it seemed so foreign to me and new but it was like muscle memory kicked in and I just knew where to go and how to get there and everything, it was weird. Also we have been using a lot of the new things that we've learned in Guam and have been using them in Pohnpei and they are working miracles, literally! We have found so many new people in the three days we've been here it's ridiculously awesome! This week I have really been focusing on charity. I try to be a happy person that loves everyone but sometimes I am weak and judge others. I will not try to cover this fact but rather I want to share what I've learned in the past week. We are ALL BROTHERS and SISTERS and we are ALL in this together. 
Yes I understand that this may be obvious to most but do we really understand this. For me I didn't. As we knocked on what seemed like an endless amount of doors I started to become discouraged. We had tried talking to so many people and no one, I repeat, no one wanted to hear from us. I decided that I could either continue to believe and act as though our message was foreign to these people and that it would take a miracle for anyone to want to hear and I starting thinking and acting as if it was something we were reminding them of. Because that's what we are doing. When people are close to God, that veil of forgetfulness becomes thinner and thinner, we start to remember things that we knew in the past life. For example, Jesus Christ, the very son of God, our Savior, redeemer, and our brother, even He when He was born forgot all. Yet because the veil between Him and His Father in Heaven was so thin we learned in 12 years more than the scribes and scholars had learned in a whole lifetime. I realized that if I truly wanted these people to learn about the Restored Gospel, if I really expected them to read and do those things which lead to baptism, I would have to show them in some way that God is more than just a thought and something that we teach about each week. I would need to help them create their own relationship with Him as a person not as a thought or a book. This simple change of perspective not only changed how I do missionary work, but changed how I act. Though I am still imperfect I have learned so many things. From meeting with the Yars, a young couple who are so prepared and ready for baptism, to an atheist who has not felt the warmth of her Father's love who is just a humble prayer away, yet so stubborn she wouldn't even try, I have learned one thing, that God will not and cannot take away our agency. 
I know I am going off subject but I want to ask you all if we are using our agency to do good. Are we sharing the love that God has shown us in our lives with others. If not, change it.  This world is a beautiful place but only if we let it. Meeting those people in Guam helped me realize just how beautiful Gods plan for us is and how He wants us to learn so much. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Hanson

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Island Delicacies- Octopus

August 14th, 2016: Zion's Camp

We are still on Guam!!! We have been on Guam since the 2nd (I took a 3 ½ hour flight from my island Pohnpei to Guam for training and to pick up my new companion, this is the second time that I have flown to Guam for training and to pick up a new companion) and we won't be leaving till the 19th which is Friday here (return flights were all booked up). It's crazy how fast time has flown by and it's because we have been working hard. This week we left the Talefofo area and are now with Elder Terri and Elder Jensen in Senajana. Working on Guam has actually been really good. We are just walking and knocking on doors (there aren’t many doors in Pohnpei) and talking to people and asking for referrals, we have had around 35 lessons, put 7 people on baptismal date and have met so many cool people. I have really seen our work here paying off. Usually when people come to Guam they think of it as a bad island for missionary work because some people are rude but it's exactly the opposite. Yes there are rude people here but there are so many nice and prepared people. I think the biggest thing that has helped me while here is my perspective on things. I told myself that because I was going to be staying on Guam for a longer time than usual I would work as hard as I can and help these Elders out as much as I can. I learned a lot here and that's why I titled this email "Zions Camp". Though I probably won't see any of these people actually enter the waters of baptism I wouldn't trade the weeks I've been here for anything. I have learned alot and I've changed my view on missionary work a lot.  
Far too often we think that because missionary work is the work of God that we will just have it easy, that all we have to do is just knock on a house and three weeks later they get baptized. I feel like we miss the fact that because baptism is such a great blessing and such an amazing experience that we must also struggle, work, and stumble along the way. Just as the Savior suffered so immensely for us so is the glory so immense. The bigger the trial the greater the victory. I more fully realize that missionary work IS work. For the first little while I kind of expected to just have success but not really wanting to put my heart and soul into it. Now I feel like all the pieces are together and it's showing in the work we've been doing here. Because I am a missionary I feel it would be inappropriate to tell of Jesus Christ without bearing my testimony of Him. I know that He is our Brother. That He suffered ALL for ALL of us. He submitted Himself to the Plan and He was the ONLY One able to do it. I never really understood how powerful the Atonement is until I had to use it. I will not avoid the fact that I am not perfect, I am a prideful person, forgetful, and not the sharpest tool in the shed. However, I know that I am His. That God created me not to be perfect but to learn and to become perfect. We all have a long way before that day but that's the great thing about it, that that day will come. Little by little we become better. When we admit our faults and work on them that's when they become our strengths. I want you all to know that God is mindful of us. He knows you and He knows how you will learn the fastest and more effectively. One quote that has been a comfort to me is "Today I will obey, Tomorrow I will Understand" I cannot stress how true this is. I promise you all that as we trust in God, He will help us learn, He will mold us to who we are supposed to be. Who He wants us to be. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

July 31st, 2016: Transfers

So a lot happened last night for transfers. To start off Elder Woodland is leaving... He is going next door to Pehleng area and will be with Elder Pakoa from his intake. They will have a fun time together and will have a blast. As for me I am training again and also district leader. My district will have almost all of Elder Woodlands intake in it plus my trainee and another trainee. I'm excited for all these changes and the island will be a lot different now. A lot of things happened around the island and a lot of new missionaries will be coming in. I can't wait to see what will happen and who will train who.  
So this week was a pretty good week and we finally got another car! If we didn't have a car but could walk it would be fine, but because of not being able to do either we were pretty stuck. We got the new car on Thursday and just flew through the lessons. We went and saw all of our investigators that we haven't seen in a while and checked up on them. It's seriously the best feeling ever when a friend that you are sharing the gospel with looks up at you and says, thank you for what you've done, thank you for sacrificing your family so I could change my life and receive all this happiness. I was pretty close to tears and the spirit was so strong. I have really come to love our investigators and they are like my family now. I'm excited that I get to stay in this area and show my love for the branch and area. Things are just getting better and better and missionary work is really starting to pick up with the branch. We were a little bit bold and when we set goals with the branch we told them that they would share the consequences of our work this month. They were all really on board and humbled themselves to serve. I'm excited to now see a small army doing missionary work instead of two 19 year olds. I don't know who I will train yet but he is in for a surprise and blessings when he gets here. We should have two baptisms his second week here and another investigator that comes to church the week after. I'm excited to show him the blessings of missionary work and help him start his journey off the right way. Just like parenting for the first time I learned a lot the first time. Now I get to show what I learned and help this new Elder be the best that he can be, to be a better missionary than me. I have realized just how similar a mission is to parenting and have noticed the things that I have learned about helping others are already being used by my parents. For all of you that have parents on this Earth who are still with us, call them, right now, and tell them you love them and are thankful. If they are waiting for you on the other side, pray and talk to your Heavenly Father on the other side. I know my parents will read this so when you do, thank you. Thank you for preparing me my whole life for my mission and leading me and guiding me. 
The song "I am a Child of God" has come to be one of my favorite songs because it's one of the most simple, yet powerful songs ever. I would like to invite each of you to also read it and to really think about the roles of parents in our lives. I am grateful for my parents and the life they have created for me. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
-Elder Hanson

July 24th, 2016: Bamboo Crutches

This week was an interesting week. On Monday we finally went to the Hospital for Elder Woodland's ankle and got told it was in between a type 2 and 3 sprain. Luckily it wasn’t torn or broken so they told us to rest and to do minimal walking for 4-6 weeks.  
One thing that I don't think doctors realize is that we aren't just your regular white people. We are in God's Army and we don't take breaks! On Tuesday we decided that we would find a way to rest his ankle to help it heal faster and still serve our missions to the fullest. As we were walking next door to a neighbor’s house to set up a Family Home Evening I noticed a thicket of bamboo, not something you usually see walking to your neighbor’s house ;),  I knew exactly what to do. After about 4 hours later of trial and error I had successfully made crutches from bamboo! Because we are on an island what better way to make them than by using a machete. A couple locals walked by and were like, "you're a true Pohnpeian now!" and things like that and it made me pretty happy. 
Elder Woodland seemed to like them, even though they are obviously not aluminum crutches from America, but they seemed to work ok. After that, off to work we went!
We had an ok week because we had to stay in for a couple days to rest and recover from walking a bit, but still finished the week strong. Probably the highlight of the week was asking Desiucky's niece to be baptized. After she was hesitant to answer, we asked if there was a problem and she told us it was because her parent's. They are living in America, where she is from, and she didn't know if they would say yes. We asked if they said yes if she would get baptized and she said "Yes!" We asked her why she wanted to be baptized and she paused, thought for a second and then in her 11 year old voice said, "Because I know that it will help me in my life". Baby, that's her name, is seriously the most awesome 11 year old ever. Though it's obvious that religion is not a big part in her life and she doesn't have the biggest interest in it, she still wants to be baptized to show that she wants to follow the Savior. We truly must humble ourselves as children if we wish to enter the kingdom of God. Sometimes I feel like we get too embarrassed or think we need and should complicate things because we are older and smarter. That is absolutely not the case, in the words of President Uchtdorf, what we really need to do is "simplify our discipleship". Simplify your lives and see the beauty that is hidden behind the haze of and hustle of the world today. Simplify your days and realize how many hours we have that are free. Make time for God and He will make time for you. I hope you all realize the blessings that God is just anxiously waiting to give us. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
-Elder Hanson

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 17th, 2016: It's the Climb

Just this week my companion sprained his ankle pretty bad so he couldn't walk very far. One night we were coming back from an appointments and we found out our car wouldn't start. There weren't any cars around so I told my companion to get in the car and I would do what I could and leave the rest up to God. When I started pushing it seemed somewhat easy. I pushed for about a 1/4-1/2 mile and then I got pretty tired. It was at the bottom of a hill so I rested and gave it all I had. Just remember, this is little old Elder Hanson pushing a suv with a 200+ pound elder in the car. I got about half way up the hill and couldn't go any farther. It didn't matter how hard I pushed, I couldn't do it. We stopped and said, ok we will just wait for someone to try to jump us. Even though there weren't any cars around because it was night by that time. However, within about a minute a car came! It wasn't big enough to jump our suv engine so we started teaching a little bit and got their information so missionaries could go meet them. We did that for the next 7 cars until someone with a big car came and could jump us. I learned, that if you do all that you can, God will not only bless you with the blessings that you want and need but will also give you unexpected blessings on top of that. Though my body was exhausted, my spirit was strong. So yeah, missions are pretty much the best thing ever! I truly do have a testimony that God will never forget about us. It doesn't matter how hard, or dark the night or the day, God's light will always fill our hearts with light. I know that because of Jesus Christ. Each and every one of us can, and if we allow Him to, receive forgiveness for our mistakes. I have learned on my mission just how imperfect I am, just how flawed I am. However, I have also learned how strong I can be, how strong the Spirit is and how it can change someone. I know that God lives. I know that He knows us and will bless us endlessly. I know that Thomas S. Monson is not just a prophet of God but he is a person as well. He has his weaknesses, and his temptations, but he has let God mold him to the person, to the prophet, that he is today. I know that God's hand is very active in the world. It's especially apparent in missionary work. I know that He loves each one of His children and shows it daily- we just have to look for the miracles. I love you all and I know that God loves you. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
-Elder Hanson

July 10th, 2016: Zone Conference

Being on an island in the middle of the Pacific where the Mission Office is a 3 hour plane ride away is different from most missions. Because of that we only get to see our Mission President every couple of months and our time with him is very short. This week was a very spiritual and powerful week. To start off Zone Conference President Zarbock told us of a dream/revelation/guidance that he received the night before at about 3 am for this island. Obviously after that we were all very interested in what it might be. We had a very spiritual conference where a lot of the questions and concerns of the mission were answered and we got help to overcome questions like "aren't all churches true, don't we all pray to the same God, and why do I need to be baptized again." It really helped and we are seeing success. In my interview after the conference President Zarbock asked me what I have learned on my mission thus far. As I started thinking of everything it became apparent just how much I have learned. I talked about how I have learned humility and learned to handle things calmly and orderly. There are so many things we talked about and for the first time it felt like we connected and we talked together. In a way he felt like my father away from home. At the end he told me that out of all the compliments he could give, his trust in a missionary was the highest. He told me he trusted me and sent me on my way to do the Lords work. It really made me happy and realize that hard work pays off. On Thursday we had another meeting, this time just a Zone Meeting, where we pretty much talked about everything again and helped overcome more things. However the most spiritual part this week has been Brother Braiel. Desiucky Braiel is from an outer island of Chuuke and is staying with a member right now. We started having lessons with him last Sunday and he is one of the most prepared people ever. He truly wants to be "born again" and repent for all the things he did in the past. I truly can see him being a Bishop or something when he gets back home to Portland, Oregon. Every lesson we have with him is so spiritual and makes our day. He has given us the hope and faith we needed and because of that the spiritual momentum is starting. We now have 3 people on solid baptismal dates and two more that need to be solidified. The work really is starting to pick up and the blessings are coming. There wasn't a lot of big things this week but a lot of small miracles that built up to a great week. I love you all and I pray for each one of you every day! I love you and I know God loves you!
Till we meet again,
Elder Hanson

June 19th, 2016: Prophets on the Earth

So nothing big happened this week besides a couple people telling us that we don't need prophets on the earth. We asked them why and they said that people's faith now a days is a lot more than back then and now we don't need them. We both looked at each other and we like uhm yeah we are going to leave now because you think you are better than all the prophets, who saw God, talked with him, and lead people out of bondage. Seriously some people never cease to amaze me. One of the biggest things we have to overcome here is people thinking that because we all pray to the same God that churches all over the world are the same and they are all true. In America it's so obvious that churches are so different and that there can only be one true church.   
One thing I would like all of you to realize is how blessed we are, to have a prophet, to have the Priesthood, to have the fullness of the Gospel. This is the dispensation of the fullness of times and as such this dispensation is different and unique from all others. As a whole we also have the most important job, that is, to prepare the world for the Second Coming. Sometimes I don't think we realize how important that is and how unique this time of the world is. We have all the blessings of all other dispensations, we have all the direction and guidance from all others combined, and because of that we also have all the temptation. In times of old when a prophet would warn people the repent, the people would rebel and persecute the prophets. Now we may not reject and try to kill the prophet but we do something much more destructive, not listening. At least the people who rejected them listened, though they rejected, they heard their testimonies and acted.  I would ask all of you if you have fallen into the "bored position" at church. We all know it, hands on chin, elbows on our knees and we just "pass the time". We are going to stay at church for 3 hours no matter what so we might as well learn. We are commanded to "feast upon the words of Christ" and those words can be a simple testimony, a simple phrase or thought. As we bear testimony and close in the name of Jesus Christ, they become His words. This week I have noticed the people that want to learn, are the ones that do. The ones that hear but do not listen are the people who will never learn. I promise you that if you will listen and really be looking for an answer, God will give you an answer through the Holy Ghost. One thing I've been doing is before sacrament I think of a question I want answered, throughout the meeting and day I think about that and every time my question gets answered. I know that Prophets are so very important and that we need them. We need the testimonies and the Special Witnesses that they are. I hope we never take for granted the blessing they are. Those that "feast" are filled with the spirit, those that don’t hear, will never taste of the Gospel or the Blessings from it.  I love you all and I wish you all the best. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

June 12th, 2016: The Spirit Works Miracles

So this week we had an up and down week. I will say the bad first so I can end on the good. With Percy we were really starting to see the light in her eyes as she was working towards baptism. She was working so hard and really learning. Then her grandmother went to the hospital the other day and he father was feeling the stress. As Percy was talking about her Baptism he told her that if she gets baptized she will have to find a new place to live and make her own food. She was pretty sad and we will try back after a while to see if anything has changed. Her dad told us that this week they needed some time and we will give it to them. I hope that this will also soften his heart as we talk and teach him about the Plan of Happiness. Now to the good stuff!  

This week we had a little extra time in between two lessons and I had a feeling to check one house. We went and started talking to this girl named Macy. She's 21 and has a child but we haven't met the father and I don't know if there is one around. We just had a good talk with her and we asked her what she thought this life was for, why we are here. She told us that she didn't know and that she feels like her life is lost and has no direction. We bore our testimonies and promised her that our message is the Plan. It is the Plan that God has created for us. We taught about the Book of Mormon and how it helps us know of truth. We really felt the spirit and it showed when we went back. We didn't really have a step by step lesson about anything we just talked about what she read and how her view of missionaries has changed. When we first showed up she thought we were going to be weird people just preaching repentance to people and talking about Joseph Smith. Since then she realizes that we are so much different. She realized that we are here to help people. To help people that feel lost and need direction. We are real people with real lives and though we do help people repent and become better we guide them along instead of forcing them. She really is prepared and I hope she continues to progress and to learn and progress towards baptism. As we were meeting her we also met Gordon. We needed a guy to teach Macy and so she invited her cousin to come and join our lesson. About half way through Macy's baby started crying and the phone rang. As she left we turned the lesson to focus on Gordon. We asked him really good questions that really helped him open up to us. He told us how his life in the past wasn't the best and how he was a bad example and one day he said a prayer because he wanted to change and he felt something that he couldn't explain. We helped him realize that that was the spirit and that it testifies of what is right. As we were talking the Spirit really came in and we helped him realize that he was feeling it then and that was a sign from God that what we teach is true. After meeting with him for only 10 minutes we put him on baptismal date and he wants to change. They are so prepared and I hope they keep progressing and working hard.  
Missionary work really is God’s work and because of that the Spirit is so strong. If any of you feel like you haven't felt the Spirit in a while, go out with the Missionaries. I promise you will feel the Spirit. As you testify the Spirit will testify of you! I love you all and wish you all the best.  
-Elder Hanson 

June 5th, 2016: Becoming the Person God Needs Us to Become

So this week was a big humbling week with a lot of rewards. At the beginning of the week we had an exchange with our district leader and my companion went to his area with another Elder from my companion’s intake. We were a little iffy on it but we went along. My district leader came here and worked in my area and I am so thankful he did.
The past little while I have been praying for a change of heart because I feel like I was being too negative or not giving people the love I should be giving. For a while nothing happened until the exchange. While on the exchange I realized how mean I had been as of late. I had been looking for something to change around me but hadn't been trying to look inward. I really took what I learned and haven’t looked back. Because of that I truly have been feeling pure Joy lately. One scripture I like that I read lately was as Jesus is teaching the hard hearted Pharisees and he says "the truth will set you free". Because they rejected the truth and couldn't see the error in their ways they continued on the miserable path of man. However, those that followed Christ, who often received and took council from the Savior on how they could change, stayed the course towards Heaven.
This last month has been a big buildup of little ideas all centered around the phrase "the truth shall set you free". I have learned that we need to be bold with our investigators and tell them the truth and not beat around the bush. We need to know the truth before we can share it. How we can discern what is truth and what is a lie. Finally how to take correction. The whole month has been preparing me for this week to take the truth and turn it into action. I truly have seen my life change for the better and it was just from being nicer to other people, to my companion.  Just a simple tweaks like that changed so much.
This week we have been working hard and getting a lot of lessons but not much progression from our investigators. This week we waited upon the Lord and miracles happened. Percy finally told us what was keeping her from Baptism and we fasted with her for one day, asked permission, received it, and now she is on date for the 18th of June. We also met a lady named Mayleen who is one of our young investigators mom and she is a lot nicer than we originally thought. When we first met her she started yelling at us how we will never baptize her kid and how he will never go to church. Then when we went to ask her for permission again she totally changed and we ended up having a great lesson about the Restoration and Joseph Smith. I think she too had a change of heart and because of that she stayed and listened to us. This area's getting better and better and it's because we are being bold, inviting people to repent, and finding through faith it really does work if you actually do it. I love you all and if I could invite you all to do one thing, ask yourselves the question, "what lack I yet?" I promise you that "the truth WILL set you free" it really will and I promise you that. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
-Elder Hanson

May 29th, 2016: Pebble in a River, Gospel Principles and Quentin L. Cook

Some of you might be wondering what "Pebble in a River" has to do with this week, I will tell you. To start off this week we got the air let out of our tires while we were teaching a lesson. We got back to the car and started driving away and something didn't feel right so we pulled over and the air was completely gone and we thought someone has slashed our tires. After we couldn't find any holes we drove really slow to a member’s house and parked for the night and then had to walk home from there. Luckily we were kind of close to our house. After filling the tires up with air we kept on doing our work. It's amazing how much people try to stop this work and try to do everything they can do to disrupt or stop it and all their efforts really are just a "pebble in a river" they don't really do much. The flood of the Gospel of Jesus Christ won't and cannot be stopped. It will roll forth to every corner of the earth and there is no power nor person that can stop it. This is the "work of all mighty God and it is to change the world" as Elder Holland puts it. Just like how people thought that killing Jesus would stop everything when in reality it only fulfilled the prophesies that had been prophesied. This work cannot be stopped because it is not the work of man, but the work of God on the Earth today.  

Another big thing that happened this week is my teaching style completely changed, no big deal but now it's a lot different. It wasn't anything I was doing wrong but now it is so much more personal and meaningful. In every lesson I teach now I've been really helping the investigators come to realize that we are here to change their lives for the better. We can give them the tools to change their life but they are the ones that have to pick it up and change their life. I have also been trying to help the investigators realize that they are sinning and that they need to change. A lot of the people here think that if they aren't breaking any of the Ten Commandments then they aren't sinning. Because they aren't married they can't commit adultery, because it doesn't say you can't drink Sakau, they really do have selective hearing to the max. The people we have met this week are really awesome and I hope that they will continue to progress and change their lives. Etwel is doing good and we had a great lesson with him and tried answering his questions. He has heard from a lot of churches and he knows that they all teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ or rather their "understanding" of it. He noticed that we are the one church that claims authority from God to do this work and actually fulfil the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He asked us a question that I thought was really good. He asked why the first church after Jesus Christ, (Catholic) why God didn't give them authority to do baptism and things like that. We thought for a minute and the answer we gave was something along the lines of, what do you think people would have done if God tried giving them the Gospel in its fullness again. After they had just crucified that very Son of God, do you think the people would accept it at that time if they had just rejected Jesus Christ. He answered, well no that would be kind of stupid to just keep doing it and people keep rejecting it. We continued and talked about how God needed to prepare the world for the gospel so that when it would come back people would accept it. Etwel added in and told us how when White people first came to Pohnpei they rejected and even killed the first missionaries. Then after time people started to accept their message until today it's hard to find someone who doesn't believe in a church. As we were talking I could see the wheels turning in his head and how every answer we gave made sense. At the end I asked him from all that he has learned about this church is there is anything that is against what he believes. He told us that he has been thinking a lot about what we teach and has been reading and praying a lot and not once has he found anything that is in disagreement with the Bible, his beliefs and his feelings. He told us that he doesn't know for sure yet but from what he has learned this church really is the "fullness of the Gospel". Etwel really has come a long way and is working hard to find an answer. 
Defney is doing good, she comes to all the activities and comes to church every week. This area really is just getting better and better and the branch is getting better and better! Also we are getting a chapel! We got approved to build a chapel and now we are finalizing between two plots of land to start working! I'm so excited, even though I won't be in the area I think it really will help these people so much. I love you all and sorry for not emailing last week the internet cut out half way through but all good. Hope all is well back in the US of A. Love you all!
-Elder Hanson

May 8th, 2016: Mother's Day Skype & Baptism

This week was a good week with not one but two cherries on top. The first was that Dephney Johnathan got baptized on Saturday and it all went really well. This baptism was a lot more peaceful and less stressful. Everything went really, really well and we even had some investigators show up and had some other investigators from another area come. It was just a great peaceful and awesome event. I loved it so much. Dephney was so prepared and we worked through permission and helped her work towards baptism. I'm so grateful that she was baptized and that she made that decision to be baptized.
The second cherry was being able to talk to my family for Mother’s Day. I do feel bad for all the other missionaries in the world because I have the best family ever! It’s crazy how fast time flies and how fast people grow up. I feel like I Skyped last week and now I did it again. Seriously just hearing people’s voices again is the weirdest thing. I hope that I have a little bit of an accent by the next time so that it will be even weirder for my family.
So for this week I want to catch all of you up on our investigators. Our most progressing is the Joseph family. The father is the equivalent of the young men's president but he is really interested in learning. The only thing is that he is so set in just believing that we just need to have faith to be saved and that's it. He is so close to just getting over the hump and working towards baptism. His daughters however are awesome. Kimberli, his older daughter, Diana, the next oldest, then Percy, and Karaleena, all are super interested and Kimberli and Percy are on date for baptism. I think that we will start to try to focus on the daughters and work on him after they are baptized. Our next investigator is Etuel, pronounced (Edge-u-al). He is a really smart really cool 21 year old kid. He is married to one of our less active members and lives with her family who are also all members. We have been working with him and finally got him really hooked on the Book of Mormon. Earnest Daniel is an 8 year old who lives with our Unit Leader and he wants to be baptized. We have permission from his mother and they all want him to be baptized. However the mother is set on "I've been baptized Catholic so I will die Catholic". I know that as she sees her son be baptized that she will realize that this church is the only church that has priesthood authority from God. For now those are our most progressing, even though we have some others who are progressing as well. We have dropped a lot of people but have been doing a lot of finding and helping members. I am excited for this area, we are starting to become really good friends with the members and they are starting to come out and help us and do their own missionary work. I love my mission. I can't wait to see all of you again. It was awesome to see all of you and hear your voices. I love you all and miss you so much, but I know that these people will miss their families a lot more if they aren't sealed together. I hope that you don't take your family for granted and tell them you love them and show it every day. I love you all!

May 1st, 2016: Miracles of Faith

Like I have said in past emails, getting permission is hard sometimes to get people baptized. Last week and this week we made a plan to prepare our investigators for baptism even though they didn't have permission. We realized that even if they received permission to be baptized they weren't ready to be baptized. So this week we really worked hard with one of our investigators who hadn't gotten permission. We were kind of bummed that she didn't receive it by her baptismal date of Saturday but Sunday night she got permission! Sunday was really a fantastic day all around. The morning was hectic as usual but everything turned out being great. A member that we had given a blessing to bore her testimony and told us how grateful she was that we gave her a blessing and answered her prayers. She said her faith had slowly been dwindling and that she finally realized it and wanted to change. She had been praying for a couple days for a change of heart and something to help her faith. She decided that she would pray one last time before she gave up. As she poured out her heart in prayer and said Amen, in came Elder Hanson and Elder Woodland saying "Kaleleilie Maing!" She said that she knew it wasn't a coincidence that we were there at that time, then to add on to that when we asked if she needed help instead of telling us her whole story she felt like she needed to ask for a blessing. Again as I said amen, she said that the pain that had been in her back for the past couple months and the pain in her heart and her spirit was gone. For every Priesthood holder at home or wherever you are, do you realize the power in which you hold? You literally hold the badge, the authority, the rite, to the power of God. Not just power of man like electricity or an engine, but the power to move mountains, to change hearts, and to mend them together. God has appointed each and every one of us as leaders to the people of our lives, He has given us a gift that is to be shared to all people. The Priesthood is our whole message, it's the reason why this church is the TRUE church. The reason why it is the fullness of the Gospel. It's the cherry on top, the bonus fry at the end of the bag, and the power of God on the earth today. Do not take it for granted, once we do that we fall into things that may take it away. I love you all, though I can't physically hug or thank you, I pray for you all daily, I hope that you also pray daily. I hope that you HOPE, that you hope for a better day today, a better day tomorrow, that you show God your faith, work and serve others and God will help you. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

General Conference!

Sorry for being late on this but General Conference was awesome. I know it happened a long time ago for all of you but because we wait till the Pohnpeian translation is done it takes a while. As we were listening to it I had two feelings. One of immense joy and feeling thankful for all the help and guidance that we had and two, feeling sad because of all the years that I had taken it for granted and not paid attention.
I think we have all been there when conference seems to just be dragging on and eventually the phones and tablets just magically appear out of our pockets and we start to "entertain" ourselves. I had fallen victim to "idleness" and I didn't feast upon the words of Christ. We read that when King David was idle one thing led to another until eventually he fell. A man that was born a King, someone to lead a nation to someone that couldn't even lead his own life.  I would like all of you to think of the relation between you and King David. We are born to be Kings and Queens, we are ROYALTY. All of the potential that King David had was gone in an instant.  However, it all started from one decision, or rather lack thereof. It started from idleness. In the scriptures we read that we need to be "anxiously engaged", and we need to "feast upon the words of Christ". Because the scriptures are the words of God, everything within them telling us to do or don't is a commandment. As we are sitting there playing on our tablets when Prophets and Apostles are trying to teach us we are disobeying a commandment, and therefore sinning. Though it may not be the biggest sin, "God cannot look upon sin in the smallest degree". I don't think a lot of times we realize or comprehend the importance of constantly learning and being willing to learn. I hope you all realize the potential life lessons we can learn and that you will all repent and start listening to conference in the car to work, school, or town. I hope you all never take for granted the words of Prophets and Apostles, because they are the words of God, our King, and our Father. I love you all and can't wait to see you all soon.
-Elder Hanson