I am sorry it has taken so long to write! We have been pretty busy. I started this email about a week ago, but things kept coming up so I am just finishing it now. First off, thank you for your letters and emails. I will try to take some time to reply individually. I love reading about what is going on with all of you! It gives brightness to my days especially when they are not the best days. So thanks again :)
There is so much to talk about! I guess I should start with the most important event. Last time I emailed I was letting you know that Elder Bednar was coming. Now it has been about two weeks! So I’ll start by talking about Elder Bednar. We did a lot to prepare for this meeting. You would not believe how hard it was to make sure the building would be ready. We reserved it 5 weeks before and called the stake presidency to let them know we would be using it. We didn’t tell them who was coming so that nobody else would show up and to minimize the gossip. So it was reserved. We went into the chapel 2 weeks before and all the pews were being redone!! We frantically called them and were like, “Hey we have a very important meeting on Friday, will it be done??” They said yes and we went to the church building on Sunday just to make sure. All of the seats were finished and everything looked great. We were relieved. Little did we know what would happen on Tuesday night when we went to recheck the number of rows and what zones should sit where. We open the doors to the chapel on Tuesday night and all of the huge speakers in the ceiling (which is like 30 feet up) are on the ground, there is a big ladder going to the organ pipes, all of the audio ports are taken out, etc………….. I just felt this sinking sensation……. An apostle was coming to visit our mission and we would have to change the building location 2-3 days before???? You just don’t do that when an apostle comes. Sure if it was a different visitor who is more able to adapt and has more time to spend with us, but not when Elder Bednar is coming to the mission! Anyways, we were more than a little frantic. Called the stake presidency and they were like, “oh well that construction and replacement of the audio system has been scheduled for a long time!” But we had scheduled the whole building (literally) for this event and now they were telling us that this was already in the plans?! Ha ha so we called the FM group man who is in charge of the Salt Lake City general area and informed him of who was actually coming to this meeting and why it was so important. At first he says, “Well maybe you can do it in a different building? One of these buildings close by might be big enough!” We were like “What???” He then said, “Let me work on some things and see what I can do...” We were even more frantic at this point. He called back 3 hours later and let us know that they hired an extra crew to get all of the work done by Friday. It was still nerve racking, but it was finished. The last worker finished at 9:30pm on Thursday night! We cleaned the chapel up afterward and checked all the microphones and got everything ready. Meanwhile throughout the whole process I was mostly worried about conducting the meeting! ha ha I was a tad stressed. But really overall everything went great!! :)
We got there early on Friday to prepare. Set up microphones, reviewed the talks again, made sure all the missionaries were coming and sitting in the right places, reserved parking spots for Elder Bednar and the Mission Presideny, etc. I was still very nervous to be conducting. Then at about 8:30 President and Sister Hansen, President and Sister Bennett, and President and Sister Hodson (Mission Presidency), Elder Williams and myself were standing in the foyer waiting. A white car pulls up and Elder Bednar jumps out and opens the door for his wife. It was raining so Elder Williams went and opened an umbrella for them and Elder Bednar told him to put it over his wife. They walked up and I am holding the door for them. Elder Bednar shakes my hand and says, “Elder Hansen, where are you from?” I say Denver, Colorado. He says, “No, nobody is actually from Denver! You must be from right around there.” I say you are right, I am from Louisville. He says “That is terrific.” It was so cool, as soon as I shook his hand I felt all the nervousness leave and I just felt calm! I appreciate what the spirit can do for us in our times of need. Then we all went into the relief society room briefly (Elder and Sister Bednar, the Mission Presidency, and Elder Williams and I). The first thing he says is, “Alright, we are here! I only have one question for you. What can we do to help?” He asked President first and President answers by saying something like, “I wouldn’t dare infringe on the revelation and inspiration that you have and will receive, but here is what we have been doing and talking about.” He went on to describe a couple of things that the mission was working on. Then Elder Bednar looks at the rest of us and asks again what they can do to help. He looks over at Elder Williams and I and we are just standing there smiling thinking about how crazy it is that there is an apostle standing with us. Elder Bednar then said, “Don’t just stand there and smile, tell me what this mission needs!” We were both a little shocked and gave some answers that probably sounded lame but we told him that whatever he could teach about the atonement would help our mission and I said something about learning to teach by the spirit. Then Elder Bednar asked his wife if she was ready. She said yes and he used this phrase; “Alright, let’s go to church!” We walked into the chapel and every missionary stood up. It was silent. The spirit was so strong. Elder Bednar is truly called of God. We get to the stand and I was sitting right next to Elder Bednar. On his left side. We sit down and he asks me, “Are you ready?” I said yes and again he said “Alright, let’s go to church!” (What a funny phrase, I wonder if a lot of people know that he says that? He might not say it a lot, but he said it 2 or 3 times with us so I think it might be something he says regularly. Just a funny side-note). Conducting the meeting went well. I felt pretty good and it all went smoothly. I had practiced a bit and so I don’t think I messed anything up too badly. He told me I did a good job when I sat down. Then Sister Bednar spoke first. She talked about her husband’s apostolic calling and what she had learned because of it. She also talked about the Book of Mormon and about the atonement. It was powerful! Then Elder Bednar spoke. Wow……….. It was soo cool. I will never forget this experience. I know I have talked a lot about the temporal side of what happened, but I will never forget the feelings that I felt that day and the impressions I received. It was amazing. He told us not to write down everything that is said but to write in your “small plates.” Meaning to write only the impressions that come as they pertain to spiritual and precious things. Then he asked us what we had learned from his 3 talks that he asked us to read in preparation for the meeting. Elder Williams and I were running around passing microphones to everyone who was called on to answer. It was a great discussion! Over time it turned into a question/answer session. We all were taught, but not necessarily from what Elder Bednar had said, but from what the spirit had impressed upon us. And that all was predicated on our personal preparation. It was such a cool experience. He taught us how to learn by the spirit and by so doing taught us how to better teach by the spirit. Helping us get out of the way sometimes and let the Lord teach our investigators through the Holy Ghost. It was a terrific blessing. I loved every minute of it. And it felt really fast as well! He shared some experiences and so did Sister Bednar. It was a special meeting, and I believe that what we learned was determined by how we prepared. For this meeting everyone prepared really well and we were able to learn some truly amazing things and hear some great things from an apostle that I don’t think he would have said if we were not ready to be taught. I was impressed with our missionaries. They were and are very good! So yeah. A couple things that I learned personally were how to ask inspired questions and let the spirit teach our investigators more. I also learned a lot about faith and moral agency. What an awesome opportunity. I don’t think that I will ever get that opportunity again. I so grateful for it and I will never forget the spirit I felt when he was with us.
Anyways, a lot of other things have been going on! Working hard in our area and it is starting to pick up (I know I said that last time, but we have even more potentials and a few more new investigators we are starting to teach). We have had some great experiences with a girl named Marlin (its pronounced Marleen). She was a referral from temple square and we have been teaching her. She is progressing well. The only problem is that she went to missionary farewells for the past 2 weeks in different wards so she still hasn’t come to the ward. She is going to come this week though! And we will meet her brother who is interested as well. It is different working in a YSA stake. Usually in other parts of the mission if you work harder, contact more, and teach better the baptisms come in some proportion to what you have been doing. In YSA it seems like you can work and work and work and still not see success and then when you do see success it seems to have no correlation to the work you have been doing or the people you are working with. It is just a blessing dropped out of the sky. Marlin was one of those blessings. We were working hard, but nothing was coming from our work or from anyone we were currently working with and then one day a text from temple square and we are working with someone who has a desire to progress! Im not complaining though! I feel blessed when we see miracles and success in our area especially because of the little time that we have to work in it.
The days and weeks are starting to blend together so I am trying to remember what I told you in the last email… Well I don’t have much time left anyway so I will just tell you a funny experience that happened while leaving church the other day. We were walking out of the U of U institute building after Capitol Hill ward and we were kind of in a rush. We were walking quickly to our car and there was a man standing next to his car parked next to us. I glanced at him and thought wow he looks familiar…. Then I looked again and realized who it was! President Clayton from the Presidency of the Seventy! We shook his hand and talked for a minute. The reason it was hard to recognize him was because he was wearing a sweater / sweatshirt zip up thing over his white shirt and tie! He explained that he had just gotten back from Logan and that he was going to a YSA ward quickly but he had to make a few phone calls first. It was pretty random, but sweet! That is the second time on my mission that I have met him and talked to him. He is really good.
Well I am about out of time for now. I think I will send this and another email soon. I love you all! As for myself, I got sick for a couple of days but now I am fine! Always tired, but what’s new. I love the work and I love being a missionary. There is no experience quite like it. I hope all of you are feeling well and travelling safely for the holidays!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!! We will be only about 25 minutes apart when you are at Paula and Brian’s house! Love and miss you.
Peak The Strategy