Sunday, July 5, 2015

Week 24

Sorry it has been such a long time since I have actually sat down to write a letter to everyone at home. 
For now, I am still  in the MRC, Missionary Recovery Center, which has been a lot of fun! I have taken the MRC on as my area for now and I am doing all that I can to help the senior couples here to progress this area just as I would any other area. It was a great experience to be here with Sister Glick. She was in my district in the MTC. We spent several days together here and got all caught up on the last couple months. We have been given so many opportunities to serve others. I have learned so much about how being sick and feeling like it would be completely acceptable to be sick and only care for myself, but to instead turn and help these little children who live in a place like the Ronald McDonald home called Mabuhay.  These poor little children are awaiting medical treatments and it was such an amazing thing to think that we as missionaries have the opportunity to serve in a way that we never realize. We have cared for those who are less fortunate than us. We have been able to take care of those around us who are in a much worse state than we are. We also went to a cancer hospital for little children, and to see the smiles on all of their little faces as we sang "The Wheels on the Jeepney" and "If you're Happy and you Know it". You really learn a lot about the Savior and His work here on the earth, His love for each and every one of us. It reminds me of a talk by Elder David A. Bednar we listened to in the MTC about Christ and how even in the darkest of His days He still turned outward to serve others and to care for those around Him. I have learned that in the days when you are really feeling your absolute best it is so easy to turn and to serve and care for those around you but to turn and really serve when even you are the one who could be the one receiving that same care, it really changes you. I have been able to go over several times and serve in the temple, in the laundry and actually was able to do a session. I was pretty much bent over the whole time in pain but I did help someone to progress in their life. The other thing we have been focusing on a lot right now is indexing and working on the other side of the veil. So far, of all the missionaries here, I have been a part of training them all to be indexers and just within the month of July so far we have indexed 27 batches of names to be sent to the temple for work. 
For right now, I love being able to fulfill my purpose here in the small ways that I am able to. Even though I am not out teaching people in front of me, I have the opportunity to use my time here as a missionary to progress the work for those on the other side of the veil to receive their ordinances. I had the opportunity to speak with a senior couple sister who said the best thing to me. She said that the Lord knows our mission plans and because for me its been 2 weeks now that I haven't been able to work it doesn't mean that my mission has come to a stop. I have still been the same missionary on the same mission even though right now I am not in my proselyting area, this is just my temporary area to be able to learn the lessons that I would only be able to learn here in this area.
 I really do know that my Father in Heaven has a plan for me, especially for my mission and that this time is all apart of my experience on my mission. I am still a missionary here and I still have a work to do, just right now I get the opportunity to turn and let the Lord work on me instead of working on other people. I really know that to be the truth. I am so very grateful for all of the miracles, the opportunities and the experiences that I have been given here and I am just trusting that my Heavenly Father will provide the rest of the way for me here as well. I hope all is well with you all there and I am so excited to hear the experiences from all of you! 
Mahal Kita,
Sister Hansen

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Dear Brother and Sister Hansen,

This is Elder Arner, the Area Medical Adviser.  I want to provide you with an update on your daughter, Sister Hansen and to assure you that she is safe, comfortable and improving health wise.  She is currently in the MRC (Missionary Recovery Center) in Manila where she is recuperating after a particularly nasty bout of gastroenteritis that necessitated her being hospitalized at Baypointe Hospital in Olongapo.  All of the sister missionaries in her apartment got ill simultaneously and there was some concern that it was amebiasis, although Sister Hansen's tests were negative for that diagnosis.  I suspect that it was more likely shigellosis though no cultures were done so this remains a supposition only.  She was treated and was rehydrated and subsequently discharged when her symptoms resolved and she was showing improvement.  We moved her to Manila when it appeared that the recovery might take longer than 48-72 hours. 

The MRC is a comfortable, safe residential unit on the grounds of the Church's Philippines Area Offices complex and it abuts the MTC, but is functionally separate from it.  It is across the street from the Manila Temple.  It is also directly above the Area Medical Offices.  It is overseen by two experienced nurses, Elder and Sister Kasteler, both of whom are full time missionaries.  It is not a hospital or even a clinic, but it is a pleasant place to recover for missionaries who may also need access to additional medical services that can be found only in Manila.  Incidentally, this is the only MRC in the Church.  While in the MRC, she has the opportunity to participate in several service projects and to attend the temple regularly.

You are undoubtedly aware that Sister Hansen has had a variety of medical problems since arriving in the Philippines, including skin infections as well as the GI problems.  Through all of this she has been very upbeat and has demonstrated the commitment and endurance we so admire in our missionaries.  There is no question this has taken a toll on her but she presses forward and does not complain.  She has a bright and happy countenance even though at times there has been substantial discomfort.  She has improved since arriving in the MRC but is not completely recovered at this point.  I visited with her at length again today to assess where we are and to formulate a longer term plan.  When she arrived she was still having intermittent problems with abdominal pain and with loss of appetite.  She also had a recurrence of a very itchy skin rash which may in part have been due to the medications she received previously and she had a urinary tract infection.  The rash and the UTI are largely corrected but the abdominal discomfort persists intermittently.  Her appetite has improved and she is eating and drinking normally.  You would not know there was any problem to see her or to visit with her, but it appears she has a residual gastritis with a component of mild reflux.  She has been started on a proton pump inhibitor (the generic form of Prilosec) in addition to her medication for the UTI and her rash.  I am hoping that she will respond well and will ready to return to her mission in a couple of days.  All of her lab work at this point is normal.

I am a bit reserved in this assessment due to the slow nature of Sister Hansen's recovery.  There does appear to be a small subgroup of North American missionaries who, for lack of a better term, develop an allergically mediated response to certain foods and/or other environmental factors as yet unidentified and have great difficulty getting past the abdominal pains associated with this reactive gastroenteritis.  This is not the same thing she had when she was admitted to Baypointe.  That was true bacterial gastroenteritis.  What she has at the moment however looks very much like what we have seen in so many others.  It is a condition that frequently requires a medical release and reassignment after an appropriate time of healing at home.  We are not at that point yet, but I mention it because it is a possibility given all of the medical problems she has had to endure.  If we cannot get excellent control of her abdominal pain with medication and diet, we may have to revisit that choice.  Sister Hansen is fully aware of this and I have informed President and Sister Dahle, though all of us hope that she will return to the field fully functional in a few days.  By the way, I should mention that President and Sister Dahle are extraordinarily watchful shepherds over their missionary flock.  There is no Mission President and wife combination who does a better job of that here (and I suspect anywhere).  She is fortunate and blessed to be a part of the Olongapo Mission. 

I will update you as things progress.  We should know much more in a few days and as soon as things appear to be moving in either direction I will contact you.  Please be reassured that she is comfortable and in very nice surroundings.  She is not suffering.  Having had a son who had similar gi problems on his mission in Russia, I am not only empathetic, I am sympathetic.  I know how anxiety producing these situations are for parents when our children are a great distance away.  We tend to imagine the worst.  However, she looks great and sounds great and is actually blessing the lives of others who are concurrently residents in the MRC through her cheerful attitude.  You have every reason to be very proud of her.  She truly has embraced this great cause of hastening the work of salvation among these wonderful people in the Philippines. 

If you have questions, I will certainly try to answer them. 


Elder Mark C. Arner, MD
Philippines Area Medical Adviser
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 22 & 23

We did not hear from Sister Hansen for two weeks due to several illnesses. Two weeks ago Teesh's companion wasn't feeling well so they came back to the apartment to rest. Within a few hours, all 4 housemates were all not feeling well and Teesh seemed to be the worst. The mission  president wife was contacted when Teesh's fever reached 103. A nearby neighbor took all 4 missionaries to the hospital. A kind Sister White held Teesh's hand while her blood was drawn and Teesh said she was not even coherent enough when the IV was placed. Blessing on both accounts as Teesh has a fear of needles.
Within a few days, Teesh was checked for appendicitis and amoebas. Both tests came back negative, thank goodness. The other sisters all had parasites but Teesh continued with symptoms with very little relief of discomfort.
Day 6 Teesh was released from the hospital and transferred to the  MRC(Missionary Recovery Center) it is located in Manila as part of the Manila MTC. Teesh said there is a Dr from the United States who is called to serve the entire Philippines. He wants to look Teesh over himself and try to get to the bottom of why after this long the symptoms still persist.
It was great to email with Teesh for a little while. She seems upbeat and optimistic. She appreciates all your prayers on her behalf and is excited to get back out there to serve the Lord.
Sister Hansen sends her love and hopes everyone is doing well. Congrats Nathan and Tina on an adorable baby girl and she loves the name you chose.
Hoping next week all will have returned to normal!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Week 21

Well, no fires in the church this week luckily!  We had a week of finding new investigators! In this week alone we met and taught 22 new investigators. 2 days in a row we taught 8 investigators. I have never heard of anything like that before. This Sunday, we had an area broadcast where we heard from Elder Neil L. Anderson and several other General Authorities. The message they had for us is we need to be willing to be the one to stand up and do something. They said multiple times will you be the one? We all have the opportunity to stand and to be the one to help another and its such an amazing gift we have all been given. 
We had exchanges this week but since I am so new here we just had the STL come and go on exchanges with Sister Restorque. So she got to see our day to day here. That was fun! But I am so glad I wasn't on exchanges I am still turned around in this new area. Once I get to some areas, I am OK, but sometimes they all look the same. There are a lot of kids here and since I am sometimes the only white/red person around the kids all follow and say Barbie Barbie. The kids all joke with my last name too and say Sister Hansel (Hansel is a brand of crackers like ritz crackers). I love being around more kids here they are the best! It's a lot easier to practice my new sentences on them because they are very honest with you. If you can understand what they respond to you. The language is still hard but I am taking it one sentence at a time to really know what I am saying to people. It's a strange thing to try and figure out the things you really want the person to hear and then to say it as simply and clearly as you can. It makes it really hard sometimes to do that but at the same time it really makes you question what is the most important that these people need to hear. Do they really need the extra fluff or do they just need to know that Jesus Christ is their Savior. I never realized before how much of the gospel got so confusing to all of us because we want more. The gospel really is simple and it is meant to be that way. The gospel is meant for everyone old or young smart or not. The gospel is all encompassing and is truly the greatest thing we have. The gospel really does bring us the most peace of mind and the best comfort in the world. I love that the church doesn't change whether you are in Salt Lake City or you are in the Philippines, it is the same.
 It's such a comfort to me to think that every Sunday I get to participate in the same sacred ordinance of the sacrament here that you do as well, you just take it 13 hours later ;) 
I love being here and having the opportunity to touch the lives of those around me. I have the same opportunity here to be an example of our Savior, Jesus Christ that you do at home and it is such a great opportunity. To learn of Him and to be able to show others the things he does for each of us all the time. This week the phrase I have really been touched by is that Jesus Christ is the center of our message. It really is true that Jesus Christ is the reason we do all that we do as missionaries. Not for members not for numbers but for Jesus Christ. All we do is help those around us see the example of Jesus Christ and teach them of His gospel and plan for us. I am so grateful and glad for my opportunity to serve as a servant of my Savior Jesus Christ and to help those around me better know Him. I love you all! and hope your week is amazing! 
Sister Hansen  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Week 20 Olongapo Branch 3 Pilar 1

Transfers this last week were crazy! If you didn't hear, I was transferred! I have moved south for rainy season ( I would say winter but it's hotter here in the south) So, unfortunately I am not able to kill the rat but I left Sister Walker and Sister Potestad in charge of killing the thing! 
I was in shock at being transferred. I did not expect it would be me leaving and I was the only one that left. The first thing I was told about my new area was that there are more bugs and more rats here! But so far I haven't seen any rats just flying cockroaches everywhere. So we keep the doors closed at night to keep them out. 
Pilar is going to be a lot of work for me even more than Olongapo city was. We have a lot of work to do to organize the branch here and to continue and teach investigators and work toward a more organized area. I think I will be able to pick up this area a lot quicker than my last because there are a lot less barangi (or neighborhoods) The hardest part will be the language. In this zone, I am the only white person, there are foreigners but they all look either samaon or Filipino.  I will get the opportunity to play the piano here. I guess only very few people know how to play so I am the designated pianist for church. Our church is tiny! There are 3 rooms, the chapel, and two classrooms and the baptismal font is outside! We had quite the experience yesterday there. We had our Branch Council Meeting and we kept hearing this noise coming from one of the rooms. We figured it was just a kid still in the church playing. The member of the branch presidency then turned his head around the corner to see what really was going on and they saw a spark. The ceiling fan had caught fire! So we all ran outside and leaders started looking for water anywhere they could find it, One old Tatay even got in a tricycle and went to go find help, but came back with the police or Pulis as it is spelled here :) We all had a good laugh that the police showed up to help us put out a fire and that the church almost burnt down. We made sure that President Dahle was informed of this and that only minimal damage was done to the building itself. The news here spread like wildfire and everyone knew so quickly we all had some good laughs about it all. I am going to make sure to take lots of pictures of this new area for you all because its more like what you think the Philippines are, rice fields, and being in the middle of nowhere. All the work we have to do here in this branch makes me feel so blessed to have the organization we have in Salt Lake.  I am determined to bring the organization that I can here to leave this area much better than I found it! I'll get lots of pictures for next week so that you can all see my new area.  Already, I have cute little kids always coming up to me and hugging me. I didn't get that in my last area, so I am excited for the new opportunities.  Just so you know, our church attendance was only 70, definitely not the 200+ I am used to in Olongapo. One day we will get there, we will have to add to the church building in order to fit everyone! that can be our goal :)  It's actually kinda funny this new area of mine, I am actually in Sister Lucillo's last area before she came to Olongapo for her last transfer. I am replacing her trainee from 6 months ago but who would have thought right? 
Hope all is going well with you all at home that you all are being watched over and protected. A special Happy Birthday to a little 6 yr old girl on Friday! Happy Birthday to you, Ada Rae! Have fun and go do something together. It's independence day here in the Philippines so I bet it will be a big celebration here just for you Miss Ada Rae. Have fun with your little gifts from Elder Longson, I have some of the kiskis ( they are the small beads, with the terrible English instructions) sitting on my desk so I have some too! In the instructions I sent I said a 2 L bottle, it may need to be bigger or less water. But have fun with those they are so cool looking! I hope you have fun with them and with your lego person. 
Love you all,
Sister Hansen     

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Week 19

We had the craziest week, running from appointment to appointment and the rat story lives on! We got to go on exchanges this week so I was in Sister Potestad's area and that was fun to see the people she works with on a daily basis. We spent some of the time getting ready for the Restoration showing. We have been praying it would all work out alright. The rest of the week was pretty much the same. We found out though that two of our investigators who we have been trying so hard to prepare for baptism in June won't be able to be baptized until their mother returns in 2017! Poor things! They are so ready,but I understand too I wouldn't want to miss my children's baptism. We will keep helping them prepare! 
So, that brings us to Friday. We showed up at the Triangle (like a sports court where the film showing would be) and there was a basketball game going on with really tall white men. It was weird to see white people again. But we got all the chairs set up and went around inviting people to stay and join us. In total, we ended up with about 200 people there and got a lot of people's information that we can now go and find and teach! There was even a man who walked up to us and grabbed an invitation from me and look at me like he would only come if I was there, it was weird but he didn't show up. 
Saturday morning, we had our Branch 3 Summer Activity, also another great event. We had a lot of people show up there too! Later that night, President Mangrobang and his family took us to dinner for Elder Longsons last one. When we got home for the night, Sister Potestad said she smelled gas so I went to go check the stove to see if we left the propane on or something and the next thing I know something is flying in my face! The rat was in the stove and jumped at my face!!!! We all screamed and screamed as it ran around the room and was probably scared for its life as were we. Apparently, we were so loud as Sister Shirley, next door neighbor, came running right over asking what was wrong. We told her about the rat and she said we have to catch it and she would kill it for us if we were too afraid to. So we are killing the rat ASAP. I was too freaked out to see where it went but we found out the next morning as I went to get into my desk drawers! The rat went crazy on my stuff! It chewed through plastic bottles and ate through the binding of my bible and chewed on all my books! I don't know why this rat only likes my stuff but it only likes my stuff, maybe a nibble here or there in the other sisters stuff but with mine it goes to town.So I am determined to kill the thing as soon as it gets in the trap. I decided to ask Brother Howard last night to see what he recommended and he lent us a cage that traps the rats inside. So we have that set up to kill the rat! We did a major deep clean this morning cause it got into more of my food last night. So there will be pictures to come if I am still here to kill the rat this week! The Elders said they have a rat in their home as well and that you just learn to always have one in every apartment. This week is transfer week so there are letters and gifts coming to you all, especially to a little b-day girl soon! There are some sweet treats and some fun summer toys that the kids play with here. So have fun with those. If the instructions aren't clear let me know, the English is terrible I know but I made them and they worked! So whenever you get them, have fun and let me know how they work. Love you all 
Sister Hansen      

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week 18

This week was a blur, especially as I sit to write this. 
Last monday, we went to a recently returned family's home. They actually own a photography shop so it is fun we get to see them there. They are the most generous family to us and the father told us that when he and his family were taught about the word of wisdom his father had a wall of American Alcohol that would be worth probably a fortune and all it did was sit on the wall but when he was taught about the word of wisdom, he let the missionaries pour all of it down the drain. Wow! What a strong trust in Heavenly Father to do that. To give up such a wonderful collection, not try and sell it, but to just get rid of it and not let it hurt someone else. The same father told us that he was raised to always give to the missionaries and to never let them go without, and even now he is the most generous person to us. He sees us on the street and will stop us, let us sit down, and buy us fresh mangos. We really like it:) 
Another day this week, we went to visit another members home, this man is 88 years old and for a while everyone thought he was dead, turns out he was visiting San Diego. We like to visit him because he is the cutest old man, it reminds me of working in Golden Living. During this appointment he just came from getting a bath and was so talkative. He came around the corner and says, "I smell good now"! He then told us all about this Samoan from Hawaii, we asked what his name was, he said he didn't remember but that if we found him, he would recognize him, we just told him we would look :) It was funny because when we asked to pray he crossed himself and asked if he could make the sign, we just kinda smiled.  For the closing pray, he just said, "thank you for the day" and then sat back in his chair. I just assumed he was done and we said amen! It was so cute. He is the sweetest old man and he is just so cute to go and visit you can tell that as we teach he remembers the doctrines of the gospel but is just so old. Now we are trying to work with him to complete his record, so that it is accurate as to his Priesthood and temple work. Sunday it was really cool as well, there is this less active couple that is less active because of work and family problems that come all the time, who we invite every week we do all that we possibly can to help them come to church and this week they came, and all as a family too! It was so good to see them as a family in the church it was really cool. Also, I am working on writing letters for everyone this week to send them next week with pictures . This week we have so many activities planned and I am so excited to be able to write home about all of them. Tonight we have FHE at a member's home, for our investigators, recent converts and those we are working to reactivate it should be so much fun! Then Friday we are showing The Restoration movie free for anyone who would like to come, and Saturday a branch activity. It should be such a fun week for me. Hope you all have a wonderful week! Mahal Kita
Sister Hansen 
Check out these blue crab. Sister Hansen and her companion were purchasing some shrimp and saw these blue crab. Sister Hansen said the shrimp over there is not at all like here. She doesn't think she will purchase shrimp a second time

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Week 17

Hello family
Mother's day last week was so great! I loved getting to talk with all of you on Skype and seeing your bright faces. Sorry I kept you up so late. I forgot that it was like 11pm there.
This week for me has been so long and so busy, which is nice but so exhausting. It was Sister Potestad's 23rd b-day and that was the absolutely craziest day. Right now, we have 5 people who we are helping prepare for baptism in June. We visit them a lot and it is so cool to hear from all of them as to their own personal progress. One family we have been working with left us this week and I was so sad to see them go. The daughter left for Thailand and then 2 days later her mom moved with her son. We spent the entire day helping them pack and move all their belongings to Pompanga where they now live. It was sad to see them go but they will be taken care of in Pompanga. Other than that, we seriously go from appointment to appointment. One day we had planned teaching all brand new investigators except for one appointment that was reteaching. It's so fun to teach new investigators and to find them here. Everyone is so willing to let you teach them and to let you share your beliefs with them. We met one family, in the coolest way actually. We were walking, just deciding whose house we could stop at to use the bathroom ( they call it the CR here) and we noticed this woman just watching us. Not too surprising since a lot of people stare as we walk since I am white, but as we were walking we just stopped and said hello. We asked if she had met missionaries like us and she said no. We asked when can we come back and teach you? She said teach me right now and eventually we got an appointment scheduled for the following day. We went back and actually got to teach her and her whole family. They had tons of questions for us and it was so fun to try and answer their questions.rWe taught one of our investigators, who is preparing for baptism, and is a little nervous about taking the full step. We invited them to join us at the baptism so they could see exactly how it will work for them, when we went to go and pick them up it was so cool to see them sitting outside waiting for us to pick them up and to take them with us. The baptism was absolutely perfectly planned for them. The speakers addressed all of the concerns about baptism that our investigators have and it was so cool to have them be there to witness it. When we went back yesterday, after church, we discussed it all with them, it was so cool because we have seen just how ready she is for baptism and how the spirit is touching her.  She has yet to really talk with us about it, so we invited her to share with us some of those things. She said that she is feeling that it is true and we invited her son to bear his testimony of why he joined the church. It was absolutely perfect and it was so spiritual to hear about the things that she is feeling and how she is wanting to continue to investigate the church and all the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was so cool as we shared with her about Joseph Smith again and to see her feel that she has been given such a great opportunity. The best part is that her son can be the one to baptize her and hopefully confirm her as well. It truly is the most amazing experience to be apart of this work and to be given the opportunity to witness the spirit testify of the truthfulness of the gospel to these people. I have been working on letters and cards to all of you as well so hopefully you will get them soon. We also have been working on updating all our record because it is so important to have them and to be able to have something for the missionaries behind us to go off of.
For Sister Potestad's birthday, it was really fun. The sisters helped us move our member and then we went to TGI Fridays for lunch and bought little cakes for us and President and Sister Mangrobang also brought cake and ice cream over so we have had a lot of cake this week. We put the huge candle in the cake and turned the lights out then when they got home sang to them and had her blow the candle out, it was so fun.
Next week, I get to work with Sister Potestad again on exchanges and we are going to try to go back to Oscars house. I am so excited. Well, I love you all, Mahal kita. Hopefully next week I will have fun stories to tell you not just boring weekly updates.
Sister Hansen

These are photos of my apartment. Sorry some of them are sideways