Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 27, 2009

Bret's First Baptism: Julia (in white) & her brother, Marco (in tank top)

Yummy missionary breakfast

Subj: hola
Date: 4/27/2009 6:03:00 P.M. Central Daylight Time
From: bretchansen@myldsmail.net

So I just heard about this whole influenza thing yesterday for the first time. We were eating at someone's house and a soccer game was on, but nobody was at the game. I asked why and they said the city is quarantined for the influenza. Today I heard more about it from other missionaries. Nobody here in this pueblo seems concerned about it, but in the city, Cuautla, where we went today there were some people with surgical masks. Suposedly, nobody in Morelos has got this sickness, but that information may not be correct. We have been told to wash our hands a lot, but the people here don't ever have soap in the bathrooms or running water. I will try and see if I can find some sort of soap that I can carry with me. But I am surprised to hear all this about this flu thing, because I really knew nothing about it.
Mom, I am pretty sure my weight is more stable now. The last time I weighed myself was the second week and I wasn't eating a lot then and was more sick. I never really got sick this week, so don't worry. The only weight I lost was what I gained in the MTC.
Well, I will begin with a funny story. I was on exchanges with a Mexican companion and we were sitting in the back of a combi (a van that takes people places in town). Our driver was about twenty, had an earing and looked like he thought he was pretty cool. So at first he was just listening to some Mexican music, but the next song that came on was Shania Twain's "Man I feel like a woman." I started laughing, but I was the only one in the car that could understand English. My companion asked me what the song was saying and I explained that usually girls only like that song, but he didn't believe me and said he liked that song.
So, this week I got my first baptisms! I baptized a woman named Julia and her son Marco. It was awesome. This woman came from an inactive family, but recently her sister has started coming to church. So we went to visit the family one night, and we talked with them a lot. We found out that the missionaries kind of stopped teaching Julia after they found out she was living with someone that she wasn't married to, but she used to come to church a lot with her kids. But a few months ago her boyfriend left her. We started teaching her and found out that she has a strong testimony of the church, and we invited her to be baptized on Saturday. We also invited her nine year old son Marco to be baptized. Marco was so excited, and he was really helpful in motivating his mom. During the baptismal service Marco was smiling the whole time even though he was wearing white pants that were way to big for him and a beater. Julia was a little nervous, but afterwards she said she felt really good about her decision. It was so cool to be part of that experience, and it made me really grateful to be here as a missionary.
Dad, I was glad to hear about Kevin Butler. He was one of my good friends in the MTC. It was also cool to read Steven's letter last week. It is interesting to hear how different the work is. He was so excited that he had taught nine lessons to new investigators. In our mission we are supposed to find 25 new investigators a week and we to teach 25 lessons a week. It usually is a little less than that, but that is the goal. But I think the difference here is that a lot of people will listen to us and invite us back, but they have no intention of changing or acting upon what we teach.
This week we had stake conference which was way cool. Our mission president and his wife sang a song, and they both have really good voices. They sang that Kenneth Cope song "I believe in Him" in Spanish.Ok well, I love you all and keep me updated with all that is going on out there.
Elder Hansen
P.S. attached is a photo from the baptism and one of the missionary diet

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sign posted on several doors around town. Translation: (courtesy of sister-in-law, Kelli) "This house is Catholic, we don't accept proselyting from Protestats, Jehova's Witnesses or any other sect"
The Elder's version: "This house is Mormon, we don't accept proselyting from Catholics, Jehova's Witnesses or any other sect" Ha Ha

Lovely photo. If only Bret had told us where it was taken.

I guess I should start writing down things throughout the week because I usually can´t think of what to say when I write this. This week I went of exchanges a few times. Last week I only did it for two hours, but this week I went for a whole day. I was with Elder Altuzar, and I was in his area. It was interesting to be in a new area and with a companion that didn't know English. He also has a really thick accent and talks fast. But by the end of the day I felt like my Spanish had improved and I was better able to understand my companion. I also learned something very important from the two occasions I spent with this elder. Most importantly, I learned the importance of planning. We wasted so much time as he walked around thinking of what to do next. I couldn't help because I had never been in that area. I am grateful that I have a companion that is willing to plan the night before, so we never waste time.

This week we had zone conference. It was way cool, and president Gardner is really good at motivating people. We had a person scheduled to be baptized yesterday, but she was not home when we went to pick her up for church. It was pretty disappointing. She was way excited for baptism, but then her family came into town and gave her a lot of doubts. I think her family leaves soon, so we will be able to talk to her alone and get her back to church. But something way cool happened. There is a kid that is about 16. He has known the missionaries for about two years and has received all the lessons multiple times. He plays soccer with the kids from church every Wednesday. But he has never wanted to commit to a baptism date. His sister got baptized in December, but him and his mom wouldn't commit. But on Wednesday we had a really long talk with him and got him to commit to this Sunday. I think if his mom can see her son baptized it will help her a lot in her desire to be baptized.

Last night we talked with a preacher for a while. We were pretty nervous to talk to him, but he was really nice so we decided it would be alright. He sort of preached to us for a while, but everything he was teaching was Mormon doctrine. We showed him some scriptures in the Book of Mormon that matched exactly what he was saying. He didn't let us talk too much, but want to return and talk to him. It sounds like this man is more than prepared, but he may have to get over his pride to allow us to teach him.

This week was pretty tough to find people, because everyone was on vacation. Lots of people went out of town, but even more people came into town. This little town was packed with people from Mexico City. They all came to their big weekend houses or to see relatives. There is a town near us that has a big water park, and there were thousands of people there. For some reason everyone in this town has either lived in or has a relative in Minneapolis. I didn't know there were Mexicans there, but apparently everyone from Morelos goes there. I heard they even have towns named after towns here in Minneapolis. Here, Easter Sunday isn't really celebrated too much. I was kind of surprised. I heard there was a really cool parade thing on Saturday that we didn't see. But I'm glad holy week is over and all the rich people are going home. I'll try to send more pictures but it takes forever to load.

I love you all,

Elder Hansen

Elder Hansen's Address

Here's Bret's address for all you who want to write him or send packages:

To write to Bret, send letters only (only plain paper, no photos or any other stuff) to:
Elder Bret C. Hansen
Mexico Cuernavaca Mission
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150
Our Tel. 011-52-777-314-3653

And to send packages, send to:
Elder Bret C. Hansen
Mexico Cuernavaca Mission
Ave. Palmira #35
Col. Palmira
Cuernavaca, Morelos C.P. 62490

Monday, April 6, 2009

Week 2 - Adjusting To Mexico

Next door neighbors with noisy roosters

Bret in the MTC
Bret & his MTC Companion, Elder Collins, hamming it up

This was a long week. I feel pretty adjusted to the whole Mexico thing. It´s not really weird to see chickens everywhere. Turkeys still kind of scare me. My companion said his first companion was attacked by a turkey and has scars to prove it. The other day I saw a man herd like 15 cows down the road on a bicycle with a stick in his hand. It was pretty impressive.
This week is semana santa (holy week). The kids all get out of school for it. There were a few parades last week, but there will be a lot more this week. There was a parade of high school age kids all wearing creepy masks that looked a lot like the burger king guy. They were doing this weird dance, but when they walked past us one kid yelled out a very flamboyant "Hi!" It was pretty much the funniest thing I have ever heard. If people know any English here they love to show it off. There is one cab driver that sometimes follows us around. A group of drunks offered us some beers and shouted random English phrases at us.
We have an investigator, Maria, that is scheduled to be baptized this coming Sunday. She is kind of old but she is way awesome. We have another lady that has come to church for a while and really wants to be baptized but her husband must first get divorced and then married to her. But it should't be too long. We also found two new people this week that have a whole lot of potential.
On Thursday I went on divisions with Elder Vargas from Veracruz. It was interesting being with a native companion, but I learned a lot. I feel like I am improving a lot in listening, but my ability to speak hasn´t improved much. It´s probably because my companion likes to talk in English all the time.
Conference was pretty hectic. The drive is about 45 minutes on a bus. We drove back and forth between dearly every session. I couldn´t really understand anything. But the very last session on Sunday we got to watch in English.
Mom, could you please take some money out of my bank account. Take all of it out except for like $150. I don´t really feel safe with all that money on my card.
I can´t think of much else to say. I attached some pictures, but this service is incredibly slow so I only did 3. The first one is Elder Collins from the MTC, the next is me at the MTC, and the next is my neighbors with the roosters that love to make noise all morning.
Well it was nice to hear from you all. Mom, please don´t become the crazy cat lady. From your letter it sounds like you´re venturing a little too close. I love you all.
Elder Hansen