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Archive for January, 2011

OH-La Family,
This week has been crazy! Speckhard went home, which I was sad to see him
go, because he was hilarous, and cliked with a lot of people, that I may
have not been able to get to know otherwise. And our whole stake boundries
changed on sunday. We had  general authority come, and talk to us. We lost
the singles ward, along with basicly everyone that we were teaching, which
was sad, but what can you do… But I am gettting a new comp that everyone
has told me is awesome, so I am stoked for that. I spent most of yesterday
cleaning up our house, so it would be nice for my comp, we basicly filled
the whole trunk and most of the back seat with stuff that we chucked in the
dumpster at a chruch, lots O crap from a dieing missionary. Well I am one
happy dude, and I guess I will just have to wait for next week to tell you
how sweet my new comp is!

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Mama Llama and Family,

I think it’s funny that you’ve noticed that I sound more contented in
Moldova.  I think serving a couple of transfers in Moldova has been really
good for me.  We’re in a different country, so we’re really a world apart
from the rest of the mission in Romania.  The only news we get is official
news in President’s weekly email–we’re totally not on the mission
grapevine at all (though aparently something has been happening in Romania,
because President reminded us not to gossip in his email a couple of weeks
ago and last time he did that the elders in almost every city were mixed up
mid-transfer due to various reasons.  But I have no idea what, and you know
what?  Although I’m definitely curious about it because I’m far too nosy
for my own good, it’s kind of nice beeing out of the loop).  I feel like I
have been able to re-center myself here and to come to peace with various
things that have come my way.  It was nice while it lasted, but all good
things come to an end.

Which brings me to my next point–it’s transfer week!  I’ll be serving in
Galati (it’s on the east half of Romania) with Sora Holman (she’s in the
group just younger than me) and Sora Hendrickson (she was a boboaca
[greenie] last transfer).  I’ll be taking a maxi-taxi down with Sora Hansen
and the elders that are getting transfered Tuesday night, and our travel
plans say that we should get into Buc at 10:00 am, though I’m not sure I
believe it because last time I went to Buc with Oleg (the maxi-taxi driver)
we left at 9:00pm and got in at four in the morning.  I’m not sure where
the extra five hours of travel time is coming from, but whatever.  I’m sure
that somebody has it figured out.  Sora Hendrickson is coming down from
Galati and will get to the gara before I do, but she has to go do treaba
dealing with her residency permit so will be leaving soon after I’m
supposed to arrive.  Sora Holman isn’t supposed to be getting in until one
in the afternoon, so I’ll have some
hanging-out-at-the-gara-with-other-missionaries time before we three meet
up and wander the streets of Buc doing missionary work until our train
leaves back to Galati at 6.  Fun fun.  It’ll be nice to get to see everyone
and talk to them and catch up.

As to my learning Russian:  I forgot (or didn’t figure out) that although
transfers are early in February, it doesn’t mean that I get a Fast Sunday
in February before I leave.  So I didn’t bear my testimony in Russian in
sacrament meeting like I wanted to, so I’ll bear it to you (I’m not sure
how to turn on russian charecters on this computer, so I’m just going to
write it how it sounds):  Ea znia shto kaniga marmona istina.  Ana slova
Boga, i sfidetulsvwiet a Bisuse Hriste.  Ea znia shto Joseph Smith bwil
prorocam Boga i Thomas S. Monson proroc Boga sievodnia.  Short and simple,
but enough to get me by.  I also know a couple of other phrases, like how
to ask someone’s name, ask them for their telephone number, tell them when
and where church is, and tell them that I don’t actually speak russian.

Church Sunday was wonderful.  It being the fifth sunday, all of our
meetings were combined, and they were all about tithing.  I cannot tell you
how much my testimony of tithing has been strengthened on my mission.  I’m
so thankful that I can say that I was a full tithe payer before my mission,
and I intend to be for the rest of my life.  Tithing is really one of the
few commandments in the church that we can be 100% perfect with.  We meet
with President Aiken (the branch president–he’s American) for a few
minutes before church every Sunday, and this Sunday he said (after
explaining to us that we are really in the easiest season of our lives, as
far as temporal matters are concerned), “Someday there will come a time in
the lives of every one of you that your outgo will be bigger than your
income.  You won’t know how to pay all of your bills, and you will have to
make a very significant decision–the decision of whether to put food on
your table or to pay your tithing.  And you had dang well better choose to
pay your tithing.”  And I completely agree.  Commandents aren’t to be kept
only when they’re convinent–we’re here to be tested, and that’s not really
a test.  The real test comes when we don’t know how the future’s going to
work out and the numbers don’t add up and we can’t see a path forward and
we follow the commandments anyway.

The scripture in Malachi 3 that talks about tithing is interesting.  In
english it says “prove me now herewith, if I will not open the windows of
heaven and pour out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to
recieve it.”  But in the Romanian version, it says “Put Me to the test” and
talks about opening the “floodgates of heaven”.  I like the image of
floodgates of blessings opening to us.  And the phrase “put Me to the test”
is the same one used in Alma 32 when Alma invites the Zoramites to
“experiment upon my words”.  God wants us to experiment.  He has given us
the parameters of the experiment, and just like when you do a chemistry
experiment out of a textbook, He has already told us what’s going to
happen.  But it’s not enough just to read about the experiment–we have to
try it ourselves.  We have to prove to ourselves that the experiment
works.  Paying tithing is really hard for people here in Moldova and
Romania, because the economy is struggling and money is scarse.  I wish I
could give people a little bit of my testimony of tithing, just to get them
started.  Because I know that once they get started, they’ll never want
lose the blessings that they’ll receive from it.  But all I can do is
invite:  Try it.  Test the Lord.  Have the faith to do what He asks, and
see if He will keep up His end of the bargain.  See if He will bless you
beyond what you can now imagine.  And He will!  He always does, when we do
our part.

Well I’m out of time, so I’ll end here.

Zerberts!

Brielle

P.S.  Mom–I’m proud of how developed your
exclamation-point-appropriateness radar has become.  🙂  And don’t worry
about the white shirt–heaven knows that if my head weren’t attached so
firmly to my shoulders, I would tend to leave it places as well.

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Hmm, I like your idea about expecting a huge miracle, it seems like when we
do that, it motivates us to be more diligent on doing the small stuff
better. To tell you the truth, it has been a little bit more laid back for
me as a zone leader, partly because, me and my comp were sick for the first
two weeks of the transfer, so we slept in, to try to sleep it off, and that
kind of got our routine off to a bad start, and I can feel the
difference. I with the encouragement of some great talks in church and from
the ensign, re committed myself to be exactly obedient, so even though it
was p-day, I got up at 6:30 and studied and everything.
Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting, about blessings of having a
modern day prophet. I thought after being out on a mission this long, and
talking to so many people, that I would not get nervous at all to speak,
but I still did get a little bit of scared-ness, deep down in my tummy, but
then I thought of giving a talk in another way, that I am called to receive
revelation for the people in the congregation, and be able to be a
spiritual conduit from the spirit to someone in the congregation. I looked
at it in the light of, I was doing a service for the people in the ward,
and I love doing service, so it wasn’t so bad, and that feeling in my
stomach went away, hopefully it is gone for good…
Hmm mission field is probably the easiest thing I have every done in my
life. Don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear, don’t have to worry
about making money, don’t have to worry about Girls, or if I look good for
them, or if they look good, or if one of them likes me, or any of that pish
posh, don’t have to worry about dinner, and I feel like I am spiritually
filled, like just coming home from Church, almost every single day. To tell
you the truth I was kind of getting tired of being a missionary for a
little bit, but sister Moss the lady that we live with, said “do you
realize that you will never have it easier then what you do right now” It
kind of opened my eyes, and I can totally see the truth to her words.
Hmm, no I am glad that people didn’t tell me what a mission was going to be
like, partly because it is cool to be surprised, and partly because with my
own little vision of it in my head, kept me motivated to prepare, and do
mission prep, and be super solid in the MTC, and the first part of my
mission. No that I am not solid any more, I have just traded Blind
ambition, for productive wisdom, working smarter instead of harder. One
thing that I wish I would have focused more on in the beginning of my
mission is working with members and getting them excited. It is more of a
long term project, but it is much more productive of “golden fruit” then
tracting.
I am with bri, fixing stuff is the bomb, combined with a hard work ethic. I
love doing service, and fixing peoples stuff, because it blows them away.
The other day, we chopped down the whole top half of a old, kind of crazy,
ladies’ tree, it was a beast, and took forever, but we had fun with it.
Hmm parenting… Someone told me “they don’t care how much you know, until
they know how much you care” Having a great relationship with your kids, is
much more important then shoving the Gospel down their throat, or forcing
them to do the right thing. When kids really get to know there parents,
respect will follow, and obedience always follows respect. I will set a
great example for my kids just as you set for me, and then just like
heavenly Father teach them right from wrong, teach them the consequences,
and then let them govern themselves, and let them make there own decisions,
and grow and learn, and support them, and love them, even if I don’t love
there actions. However, I will not support bad decisions, I will just love
them even if they make bad choices. Hope that makes sense.
PS I can’t remember if I told you about eating two week thawed ice cream,
yuck, but I did, and the “not all there” lady that fed it to us, also a
Recent Convert, is now in Jail for “circulating fraudulent money” hmm
weird.
Love you guys!
Elder Hansen

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Salut, familia mea!

Yea, I love questions!

Answers:
Is the mission the hardest thing I’ve ever done?  Meh, kinda.  But not
really.  I think living at home and working at that accounting office for
the site and commuting to Rexburg and back every single day was harder,
honestly.  It lasted a lot less time, but I was so drained after that that
I couldn’t even function properly.  It was seriously miserable.  The
mission is hard and there are days that I come home exhausted, but I’m
never miserable.

Are there things that I wish people would have told me?  Heck yes there
are!  Or rather, I wish they would have been more explicit.  Which may not
have actually helped, because every mission (and every missionary) is
different, but there are definitely things I wish I would have known.
Maybe it’s just because I grew up in nice, sheltered Nowheresville, Idaho,
but it’s pretty strange out here in the real world.  As for specifics:  No
one told me to expect to be hungry my entire first transfer.  And not just
me–every greenie is always starving.  You eat and eat and eat at the
endless buffet of the MTC just to break the monotony, but then they send
you out to the real world where you have a bowl of cearal (mainly granola
in Romania, and raw oats that call themselves granola in Moldova) in the
morning, whatever you make for yourself for lunch, and then work for the
rest of the day until 9 at night, at which point we don’t really feel like
making anything, so we drink [herbal] tea.  In fact, we dring tea in the
morning, too.  And sometimes at lunch.  I’m seriously addicted. 🙂  And
there’s more, but they bring up stories that it would take to long to tell.

One thing that I’m so grateful that I learned is how to fix things.  That
has come in so handy.  Just last night we were at a less-active member’s
house and as we were wrapping up we asked her if there was anything we
could do to help her.  She said that her lamp had broken and could we ask
the elders to stop by sometime and look at it?  I asked her if I could look
at it, so she pulled it out.  I looked at it, figured out what the problem
was, fiddled with it for a little while (after making sure that the lamp
was unplugged, of course), plugged it back in, and turned it on.  It worked
great.  She was so amazed that I could actually do something like that.  I
love that Dad has taught me (all of us kids?  I don’t know if anyone else
was listening or got anything out of it, but I sure did) to be able to look
at something, recognize the problem, analyze the cause of the problem, and
then fix the problem.  I’ve repaired water filters (one of which had been
broken for about six months–no one else had bothered to fix it), lamp
fixtures, returned light to a dark bathroom, cleaned out countless drains,
all sorts of stuff.

This week has been fun.  We met the coolest lady!  We went to visit one of
our investigators, Nadejda, but she wasn’t home.  We didn’t want to just
leave because she’s kinda on the outskirts of the city and we’re allways
told that if we’re stood up for a lesson, look around in the area because
we were led there for a reason.  So we decided to knock her bloc.  The top
few floors had nothing–no one even opened their doors.  Then one lady
finally opened the door, and we practially shoved a Book of Mormon into her
hands.  We told her that we are representatives of Christ and has she ever
heard of this book?  She looked at it for a moment and said,
“Mormons–yeah, I’ve heard of it.  I watched a movie about Mormons once,”
which instantly got us on our guard, because whenever anyone mentions
seeing “mormons” on TV the next thing out of their mouth is usually
“polygamy”.  But then she said, “It talked about families and how important
they are, and how we need to base our families on the gospel of Jesus
Christ.”  We were quite suprised, and said that in fact we did believe in
that.  Then she invited us in and we had a great lesson about the Book of
Mormon.  She went on and on about this film that she had watched and how
she had liked it.  She mentioned the persecution of the early saints, and
said that she had seen a picture of a copy of the Book of Mormon in English
but hadn’t known what it said, but that it looked the same as the one we
had.  And in the course of the conversation, she mentioned when she had
seen said film.  Any guesses?  1978.  Yes, seventy-eight!  As in, before I
was even born.  Before missionaries ever came to Moldova.  Before the iron
curtain had fallen.  She said that it had been broadcast from Romania, but
I have no idea how a film made by the Church ened up being broadcast from
Romana to Moldova.  Who watches a movie one time and then remembers it for
more that thirty years?!  She said that she was really excited to read the
Book of Mormon and hoped she felt the same light and peace from reading it
that she felt when watching the film.  We promised her that she would.

I love you all!

Brielle

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Dear Mama,

Sounds like your week has been stressful–wish I could be there to help you
out.  I’m glad you have a couple of days off of school, though with Ryan’s
kids there I don’t know how relaxing it will be. 🙂

I’m glad that Kayla was safe even though she ended up in a field–we all
definitely have a bunch of guardian angels watching over us all the
time.  And I’m glad that she didn’t asphyxiate on the way home.  Is it
snowy there, or just icey?  How is the weather?  We haven’t gotten snow in
a while, so everything is just grey here.  We had some rain about a week
ago and everything was all wet for several days, but it’s dried out now.

Don’t worry about being a whiney pants, everybody needs to vent
sometimes.  I love hearing about your adventures, even when they’re just
the adventures of daily living.

Sorry this isn’t very long this week, not a lot happened.

Bri

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Hey family, it was great to hear from you.
Elder Speckhard and I are having a blast here. Last week a girl named Rosa
got up and bore her testimony, and said that she was soon to be a member.
Speck has been teaching her for a while now, but I just met her. We were on
exchanges on Tuesday, and Speck and Grant (a black missionary) went over
and taught her with five of her friends, and they had a testimony meeting,
and Elder Speckhard signed (in sign language) to her friend, who also knows
sign language to commit her to baptism. The friend committed committed her
and she said yes! Speck told me that it was one of the most spiritual
lessons that he has had on his mission. I was sad that I was not there for
it, but I was glad that Elder Grant was there for it, because he is a young
missionary, and I think he sacrificed a lot to be out here, and I think it
did a lot to boost his testimony, experiencing that.
We have seven baptisms coming up in our zone on the 22 of Jan, so we are
excited for that, especially Rosa being one of those.
We are teaching a guy named Vincent who I met for the first time last week.
He is a super nice guy, and is willing to do anything we ask him, but I
don’t know if all the lights are on upstairs. Maybe it is just that I am
not used to someone saying yes to anything that we ask, but Speck says that
he thinks that he has done drugs and fried his brain. I guess we will see.
He came to church last week, and said that he wanted to be baptized when we
taught him, but we still have much to teach, and more importantly much that
he needs to understand.
Sounds like things are slowing down for you guys back home, same thing out
here for people out here, but it is the opposite for us as missionaries,
people are making new years resolutions and they are not so busy now that
the holidays are over, so it is prime for us, and things are picking up. We
also got a new ward mission leader in the singles ward, and it was kind of
cool having a meeting with him and us and our ward missionaries, because we
are all under 30 and yet we are still taking on meetings, and making plans
and doing everything as if we were adults… soo cool.
We also picked up and taught Lexie Salazar this week. She is going to be a
tough cookie, but I think it will be a great growing experience for all of
us. She does not know if she believes in God, and says that she has never
felt the spirit before… kind of a new starting point for us to begin
teaching. Please don’t write her family about things that I tell you about
her, because they pry a little too much, and I think it is pushing her
away.
Well cool cool, know that I love you all more then baptisms, and I will
talk to you soon.
Elder Hansen

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Dear Mama Llama–

I love you so much!  I think you’re amazing and I admire you and I tell my
companions all the time how awesome you are and how much I want to be just
like you when I grow up.  I’m sorry that life is hard right now, but
rembmer that God loves you and that as you’re going through trials here on
earth what you’re really doing is taping and spackling your mansions on
high.  Just remember to lift with your legs, not with your back, and that
Grandma will be infinitely grateful when she gets to greet you on the other
side.  And it’s not your sweet mother that hits you and insults you, it’s
just the disease that has control of her aged body right now.  Know that
even as her body spits on you, her spirit is thankful for what you are
doing and wishes that she could give you a big hug and express her
gratitude for taking care of her when she can’t do it for herself.

My week hasn’t been too eventful.  We went blocknocking [tracting] the
other night with the elders and got stopped by the police, though.  That
was interesting.  We had gotten up to the top floor and were just about
ready to pray and begin when we turned around and saw a group of four
policemen.  They asked us why we were there, what we were doing, how long
we had been in the country and how long we were staying, and if they could
see our passports.  We don’t carry our passports around with us, but we
always have a xerox of the identification page so we gave that to him and
(luckily) he accepted it.  After he got done scrutinizing all of our IDs,
he said that everything looked like it was in order and said that we could
continue.  Later that night after we had finished the bloc and were headed
home, we saw the same group of policeman pass us as we crossed a
crosswalk.  They wished us a good evening.  🙂

Also, we got permission to go to the orthodox christmas service on the
morning of the 7th.  It was really long (made longer by the fact that there
was nowhere to sit–everybody just stood the whole time) and full of
unintelligible (Well, I understood a little, but not much) chanting.  And
what really suprised me was that it totally threw off our entire day.  We
still had our normal studies in the morning so it wasn’t like we were
shirking our normal imerse-ourselves-in-the-spirit time, but both me and my
companion just fellt really “off” the entire day.  I didn’t realize that I
had gotten that sensitive to the presence of the spirit on my mission, but
that’s the only thing I can put it down to.

I love you, and I send my support all the way from Moldova!

Bri

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