Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 24 2009 Hermana Cristina

Same pretty sky

"We give injections and sell popsicles"

Hello Family,

I don't have any stories from this week that compare to the peanut field or cueclas. But I will try to search my memory for anything interesting that happened.

The house in Wisconsin sounds really amazing, and the weather sounds even better. Those pictures were pretty cool. It is really hot here. It used to rain sometimes at night and it would get cool. But it hasn't rained for a while and it is just really hot. Also our fan died. I bought a little one, but it doesn't help much. If I find out I'm staying another change I think I'll buy a big fan.
A question to dad. Have you given up on the Houston teams and started cheering for Wisconsin teams? Packers, Bucks, and Brewers? How are things looking for the upcoming college football season? How is BYU going to do?

So I found out that I am still alergic to peanuts. I accidently ate a dulce that had peanuts in it. My tongue started to swell and my throat got pretty tight, so I got kind of scared and we left to find a pharmacy and search for benedryl. But I started to feel better before we got there. I think it was just another sign that the Lord protects his missionaries.

I do have one good story for this week. So for the last several weeks or months I have been praying and thinking a lot about what we can do to help our investigators and to baptize. Because with my companion it has been pretty difficult to get him to contact or look for new investigators, I've been trying to think of how we can help those we already have. But it seemed like everyone of them had some problem that impeded them from getting baptized. One family came to my mind a few weeks ago. The husband is a member but his "wife" is not. The problem is they need to get divorced and then married. Because we didn't have money to help them we kind of put them out of our minds. Recently I noticed that even though her member husband only sometimes goes to church the nonmember hermana is always there. I felt impressed to help them, but I didn't know how. Well, on Tuesday for some reason I was given a new debit card, and was told to send the old one back to the office. On the card, arrived enough money to pay for them to get married. We are going to take them to get married next week and Hermana Cristina will be baptized on the 6 of September.

Yesterday I gave a talk. I talked about obedience, and I included a nice river story. I don't know if the people completely understood, because I think the idea of white water canoeing might be pretty foreign to the people of this pueblo. But I couldn't resist the temptation of throwing in a river analogy. Later in the day we were talking with our neighbors. She told me that when we talk like we're talking now you talk pretty normally, but when you speak in church you have a very strong gringo accent. But she said it was understandable. The Mexican people tend to talk a lot more directly. Oh well, I guess I will keep practicing.

I'm sorry I don't have much else to write. If you have more questions, send them my way.

Elder Hansen

Here's a picture of a funny sign I saw. It saw we give injections and sell popsicles. The other picture I think I might have already sent, but I wasn't sure. I took it while walking back from where we eat.

August 12 Caterpillars

I'm glad to hear that Dad survived the Dairyland Dare. It sounded pretty intense.
Last week we weren't sure if the baby was a boy or girl. Are we more sure now? Does Aaron's new job mean no more Marriott discounts?
This week not too much happened because I got sick. On Tuesday night I began to get sick, and after a night of a lot of sweating and weird dreams I woke up with a 103 fever. I had to miss the zone conference which was held Wednesday. I had a fever all of Wednesday and part of Thursday. It was pretty boring being in the apartment, and I am glad to be back out.
But something cool did happen this week. Last Monday I was just about on the point of losing it with my companion. But on Tuesday morning he surprised me. He woke up early and then we had companion study for the first time in a very long time. It changed the whole day. The whole day we talked and got along well. The next day as I was sick he cooked me food. We are now consistently having companion study and we are working better and getting along better. I think I learned the importance of never giving up. If I had quit waking up on time or quit studying just because he wasn't I don't think he ever would have been motivated to change. Well, I don't know if I had anything to do with his desire to change, but now I need to support him so he doesn't fall again.
This week our random service act was helping our neighbor along with her son, daughter, and nephews search for cueclas. Cueclas are large caterpillars that live in a certain type of tree. We filled two buckets of them. My companion climbed the trees along with the 14 year old kid. I was in charge of catching them as the fall or picking them off the ground as they fall. It's great, because they emit urine as the fall or get picked up. So that was a great time. Later we were invited to eat some. They didn't taste that great, but they didn't taste as bad as I thought they would. I'll add some pictures at the end. Oh yea I also got chiggers all over my legs.
I'm sure if what we did was really that much of service, but it was good because it gave us a chance to get to know our neighbor's son and his kids that aren't members of the church. His wife was baptized but is now inactive. His kids go to church occasionally, but their Dad won't give permission to be baptized. Last week we wen't to their house to give the Dad a blessing and the house a blessing because they had been seeing things in the house at night.
You asked if there are any foods I like. I like pretty much all the food we get here. What I don't like is nopal (cactus) and tamarindo (a nasty thing they make candy and juice out of). I'm pretty much one of the only gringos that like chicharron which are pretty much pork rinds with chili on them. Last week I discovered that I love pitjaya which is the fruit of the cactus and tastes like raspberry. I love all the fruit here. Everybody has at least one fruit tree in their yard, and so we always get fruit. There are a bunch that don't exist in the US, and I don't know what they are called in English.
Ok well that's all for this week. Take care.
Elder Hansen

PS Here's some pictures of cueclas, but before you eat them you gut them and fry them. They say that with salt they can last for a year. If your interested I'll send you some.

August 10 2009

View while walking home from Tenango

We all got PRI Party t-shirts

I finally got the package with the rice crispie treats. I thought they might have gone bad, but Mom did a great job seran wrapping and double ziplock bagging them. They taste fantastic.

This week wasn't too exciting. On Wednesday we did another all day service project. I found out my companion actually likes doing service. I think he likes it because it is something different. This service project was much easier than the last one. Our convert Esteban takes care of a house, and he needed our help trimming some trees. There were a lot of trees. But this time we were fed twice, had one coke break, and we had all the water we needed.

So Dad asked me to talk more about the branch. Presidente Pedro has been the branch president since the branch was started about ten years ago. He is currently single because his wife left him over a year ago. Many think he might get changed in the upcoming ward conference. His brother, Ramiro, is the first counselor and is a returned missionary. His second couselor is named Ysaul. The secretary, Jose Luis, is a way cool guy. He is a convert of about five years. I always love going to eat at his house. Every time we go we end up getting out the scriptures and talking about about some doctrine. He has an amazing testimony and a great desire to learn. I think he is destined to become a bishop one day. In the branch there are two large families of members the Torres family, to which the President belongs, and the Espitia family. Together they make up at least a third if not half of the members that come every Sunday. The Espitia family is way cool because they all live in a pueblo that is pretty far away, but they come to every church activity.

This week as we were eating with Jose Luis and his family, a returned missionary that served in Jona came to visit. We talked for a while with him. It was cool to hear his stories, and to hear how much his mission has had an impact on his life. He also said before his mission, his family didn't even have money to buy him clothes for his mission, but now they have been blessed financially and even have a truck. He spoke of how his mission has put him ahead of his peers as he was looking for a job. He also talked about how he had a number of very difficult companions. Twice he had companions that were on the edge of going home and president told him that it was his job to help them finish their missions. He said that at the time he often did not enjoy the time with those companions, but looking back he can see that that he learned from those experiences.
Ok well I'm running out of time. I'll answer the other questions later.

Love you,
Elder Hansen

PS here is a picture of us with our neighbors supporting the PRI party because they gave us free t-shirts. Also, the other is a cool picture I took while walking home from Tenango, which is a pueblo where we eat on Tuesdays and Fridays

Monday, August 3, 2009

August 3 2009 Working In Peanut Field

El Campo
Hillside near El Campo

Mural tribute to Michael Jackson

I'm glad to hear all is well back home. I appreciate the advice from everyone. Although right now I often feel like I can't take it, there must be some reason why I am still here. Apparently, the president has told several people that he wants to keep missionaries with their companions for longer periods of time. I guess it will just be something we have to get used to. On the bright side, we will all be better prepared for marriage by the time we finish.
This week I had an interesting experience. So I've mentioned that we have been teaching a man named Jose Cruz. Jose and his uncle grow peanuts. Because he is always busy, this week we told him that if he ever needed help we would be willing to do whatever. After a while he gave in and said the next day we could meet help him work his field. I didn't think it sounded too difficult when he described what we would be doing. We met him at 9, changed our clothes, and walked down the road until we got to the very last field. At about 10 we started working. The field had already been plowed and the plants were growing well in the soil. What we had to do was make little mounds of dirt around the plant until it was almost buried with a few leaves sticking out. We each had a little hand hoe thing, and we went to work doing two rows at a time. After about twenty minutes I wanted to die. After about an hour I already had some good blisters developing and some pretty sore legs and a sore back. We finished the first set at about 1:30, and we took a short break to drink some coke because we didn't have water. I thought we were done, but to my dismay we got up to start again. We didn't finish until 5. One can only go for so long on just coco puffs. We finally got back to the apartment and bought some tacos at around 8:00. The next day, I couldn't walk. From being in a hunched over position all day, my hamstrings were pretty tight. For the next three days, I could barely walk, and today is the first day things have begun to loosen up.
I learned a lot from my day in el campo. The life of a campesino is no easy task. I commented to my companion that I now understand why it is important to have an education. The campesinos or field workers are usually considered the lowest class of citizen because those that work the fields usually have little or no education and live in poverty. That day I learned the difficulty of the life they live, and now I understand more why so many turn to alcohol to take away the pain of life. I think my views definitely changed a bit. Also, I was given just one more reason to hate peanuts.
Ok well that's my big story for the week. I don't have much else to say.
I included a few pictures of the campo, some mountains near it, and a mural I saw in Cuautla in memory of Michael Jackson.

July 27 2009

6-month anniversary tie-burning

Bret burning his tie

Chapel in Jona

I am writing today which means I am here in Jonacatapec for another change. President didn't change anyone other than those that finished their mission or had their area closed. This president has some new ideas because he closed a number of areas, and I imagine he opened a number of areas as well. Apparently, president wants little movement in the mission right now so that he can formulate a plan.
I must admit I was disappointed to find out that I would be staying in this area again with the same companion. Two weeks ago he got way excited to work, but this past week was pretty much back to the way it used to be. Sometimes I get frustrated because I don't know what I can do to help us do what we need to do. But I will try to stay positive and not complain, and just hope it all will work out. I was pretty confident that some change would take place because with President Gardner he never kept two missionaries together for more than two changes. I guess this president has different ideas. But there must be some reason that I am here for another six weeks.
This week I had a cool experience. We have been teaching a man named Jose Cruz for a number of weeks. We have already taught him everything, and he recently started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. Every day we ask him if he has received an answer to his prayers, but every time he says no. On Tuesday, we met with him and we talked about what he had read. He said that he had read up to chapter 15 of First Nephi. I then asked if he understould Lehi's dream. He then began to tell us that he had had a dream very similar to Lehi's dream. He said that over the course of several years he has had the same dream several times. As he described his dream, it was exactly the same, and he said that he and his uncle were eating the fruit of the tree of life. We then proceeded to tell him that he had received his answer. He has commited to a baptismal date and came to church this Sunday.
To me that was a cool experience because it shows that God began preparing Jose to receive the gospel years in advance. It made me wonder who else is out there that has been prepared to receive us. I also learned from this experience that many times God wants to see how dedicated we are before he gives us an answer. It wasn't until after we had taught all the discussions and he began to read the Book of Mormon for himself, that he received an answer.
Yesterday, the US lost 5-0 to Mexico in the Gold Cup. This means that I have to some really hot chili. My companion and some member set the terms of the bet and I was pretty much forced to comply.
Next week if you can, I would like to know my line of authority.
I included some pictures from when I burned my tie and one of our chapel here in Jona.