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