Hey everyone! Sorry if it's been a while since I've replied, It's super busy here, and the computers in the Fairfax county library are... great. :p I only get like 45 mins. to do everything.
Thank you for all of your Emails, letters and prayers! I've been lifted up from your wise (some of your words are wise ;) ), words of wisdom. :) Please forgive me if I'm not able to answer all of your letters and Emails. I'll try my best to reply to every one.
For those of you who don't have my mailing address, it's:
524 Lyngate Ct
Burke, VA 22015
I think It's on my FB page.
Anyway, I'm doing really great in Virginia. I'm surviving off of quesedillas (minus the cheese, I'm still trying to find the perfect cheese to tortilla ratio), PB&J sandwiches, and cereal. Oh! and I had french toast once, it was great.
I'm currently in Reston, a town pretty close to the patomac river. There're lots of apartment complexes, towne houses, and mansions. The people here aren't very receptive to our message. Even if they're referrals from ward members. It's tough to find people who aren't already very well off or who have their own religion they're comfortable with. For the most part, my companions and I (Elders Raban and Giles), are knocking lots of doors. Our area doesn't have a car, so we're biking in the Hot Hot Heat (great band) every day. It's good for my skin to sweat this much, I'm sure.
We talked with this one man named Danz, who's from Mobile Alabama. He's a very successful accountant for a large firm. When he introduced himself to us at the door, he handed us his business card. He's been having discussions with the missionaries for years (since 2011) and he still hasn't been baptized. He moved away for a while, so the missionaries lost contact with him. We stumbled across him while trakting in an apartment complex. We've had two discussions with him, and each of them were based on the Book of Mormon. But the majority of the lesson was getting to know where he is spiritually, so we can start from where he left off. Danz knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and we've invited him to read the BOM and ask if it's true. Hopefully he'll receive a witness before our next meeting. Danz is gettin' wet!
Anyway, thank you once again for all of your Emails! I'll try my best to find time to reply to all of you!
Love you all!
I made it to Virginia! It's gorgeous here. It's super hot and humid, it rains about once a week, and the people are kind. My companions (yes, companion is plural on purpose), are Elder Raban and Elder Giles. Elder Giles has been waiting for his visa to come through for a month or two now. His call was originally to Brazil. So Elder Raban has been training him, and now he's supposed to train the both of us. E. Raban is from Alpine Utah, and E. Giles is from Washington state. They're both really funny, good workers, and intelligent. I had a good feeling about this companionship from the beginning.
We're in Reston city, Virginia. Apparently, before I came here, the E. Raban and Giles (along with E. Hawkes) were assigned to a larger portion of Reston, but when Elder Gledhill (the same Elder we met that first day) and I came along, they split the area in thirds. We have the larger portion, which is north of E. Hawkes and E. Gledhill's area. It turns out that E. Raban, Giles, and Hawkes worked really hard in the southern area, and barely touched the northern side, which I'm (along with E. Raban and Giles) now assigned to. We're doing lots of trakting. We've knocked lots of doors, have had one lesson with a non-member, and we've done lots of street contacting. We have quite a few potential investigators, but they're slippery. I'm hoping and praying for a lesson or two! We're going to work extra hard this week.
Anyway, I hope all that made sense. I'm doing great! I'm so glad to be out of the MTC, it's so much better out in the field. My bike works fine, and all my clothes are cleaned and ironed.
I hope all is well! I'll probably send you another Email today if time allows.
I'm having an awesome time here. I can't believe I fly out to DC tomorrow morning... It's shocking to think that I've grown so much in a little bit less than 2 weeks. All of our teaching experiences have been amazing. Last Tuesday, Elder Miles and I taught an amputee named George Cepull. He was an elderly man who volunteered his time to teach autistic children how to draw. The first lesson/visit kind of sucked. It was our first TRC (Teaching Resource Center, I think?), and I was shell shocked. He was legitimate. The real deal. All I had ever taught was a teacher who pretended to be an investigator! So... I froze up. We made an appointment to meet with him on Thursday, and I was determined to baptize that man! This time the lesson went much smoother. We asked questions that led to him opening up to us (finally), and telling us all about his job, his leg, and some advice on how to treat people who are different on the outside. It was fantastic. We never really did ask him to get baptized. We were just about to pop the question when he started talking for 10 minutes. (no joke). It was great, nontheless. :)
Apparently, you're only supposed to have 2-3 teachers at the MTC. Guess how many we've had? 8. Bro. Taylor, Bro. Fairclough, Bro. Makahilahila, Bro. Perfilly, Bro. Hilton, Bro. Hale, Sis. Lauhata, and Bro. Sebesta. It's perdy much awesome. It's been really cool to analyze each of the teacher's methods. I've actually learned a lot about teaching from watching them teach us. The biggest thing I've learned, is to teach with care and love. If you love the people you teach, and make them feel like a million bucks, they're going to be so much more receptive to what you want them to learn. Our district loves all of our teachers, and we decided to write a big letter to four of our favorites. I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you who, they could be monitoring me right now!... ;) I'll send you some sort of coded message. I hope you're good at puzzles.
Another thing I learned here is that I already know all the basic doctrine. I've been going to church for 18 years, seminary for 4, and I've lived in Utah most of my life. I've noticed that the teachers' responsibility isn't to train us to be master scriptorians, they're here to show us how to help people come closer to Christ. It's such an interesting perspective, and it was hard for me to grasp the first week I was here, but I think I'm beginning to understand.
I've also learned that a big part of being a good missionary is being social. I thought that would be a big obstacle for me to overcome, but it hasn't been at all. 1 year ago, I would've been frightened to talk to someone who sat next to me on a plane, or at the dentist's office. But I'm starting to overcome that fear. We practiced contacting last night, which is a fancy word for "talking to complete strangers about Jesus." For our whole district, it was actually a lot more difficult than we expected. Even when the potential investigator was our teacher! I did alright, I didn't feel socially retarded or anything. It's just about being friendly, getting to know them, then telling them that you can help with anything they may need.
Sorry if this information is nothing that you wanted to hear, it helps me to type down everything that's running through my mind. I remember it better. It helps me to organize my thoughts.
The greatest thing I learned was that I need to be more Christ-like. Last sunday, we listened to a recorded talk from Elder Bednar's "the character of Christ." It was beautiful. The Spirit told me that I need to be less selfish, throw out the natural man, and love others. Whenever I'm down in the dumps, I need to get into the habit of thinking outward, not inward. Applying that to my teaching helped me tenfold. That doesn't mean I'm a great teacher/missionary yet. I just feel like I'm on the right path to becoming one. I hope and pray that the Lord will help me to do so.
The fourth of July was so good!... I don't really remember what we did exactly, all these days are blurring together. I remember we studied and had class (as usual), we went to a devotional, watched 17 Miracles (I couldn't help but think of Ozias Kilburn Jr.), and then we watched the fireworks from the Stadium of Fire from the MTC. The fireworks were kind of lame considering how far away we were. Elder Clarke couldn't pull away from them, though. He snapped picture, after picture, after picture... it was funny. I had a good time, though with the other Elders in our district. We photo bombed, quoted Hot Rod, and ate ice cream. Only bad part is that watching those fireworks reminded me of going to Stadium of Fire last year with Justin, Madeline, and Emma. I got a little homesick, but I got over it.
I took some pictures, you'll be happy to know! I'm just struggling with having my camera with me at the computer. I'll try to send you some pictures by the end of the day. If not, Look foward to next Wednesday. :)
Last Saturday, we did this big "Oreo Relay Race," in the dorms with the other districts in our zone. (We have 3 districts total, each holding 11 Elders). It was pretty much the coolest thing ever. There're four floors in the building, with staircases on the north and south sides. We put two missionaries from each district on each floor, (except for the bottom, we only had 1), and gave the first runners a handful of oreos. As you ran, you had to eat one oreo before you ran downstairs to the next competitor. Our district won, of course. :)
I love you! Email me soon!
Elder Hansen.I love and miss you, too! I'll call you tomorrow morning, I hope you're awake!!
Love, Elder Hansen.
Don't you mean Elder Hansen? ;)
Yeah, everything's going great. Elder Miles sent some pictures of our district on our temple walk from Sunday. I just wrote you guys a letter, too. So don't worry, more information about my stay here at the MTC is on the way!
I ate once with Elder Stevens the first night at the MTC, but I haven't eaten with him since. Our entire district (11 missionaries) eats together. I've seen Elder Robison a lot, I think our schedules are pretty in sync, like his mom said. He and I check up on each other often, it's pretty convenient. I just saw Elder Larson walk in today! He looked pretty shaken, I asked him how he felt. He said he was nervous. I know he'll fit right in, though. He was all smiles when he saw me, I saw his face light right up. I think it helped for him to see someone he recognized. It was pretty overbearing when I first got here. But I got into the rhythm of things pretty quickly.
Learning about how to bring others closer to Christ is so spiritually uplifting! I love our teachers, they're chock-full of knowledge. It's pretty astounding. When they do role playing, they're just so natural! I'm super jealous of their ability to listen, know what the investigators need and then show them how applying the gospel to their life can make their lives better. It's fascinating, and a little bit aggrivating how easily our teachers are able to do that. It looks easy from a distance, but when we try it, I almost feel like I'm completing a check list of things I need to tell the person. I know I'm not supposed to do that, but it's so hard to receive all these wonderful information and not feel like I need to shove it down someone's throat. But I'm learning. Our latest lesson (role playing session with Sister L.), Elder Miles and I taught Melanie. It went so well! I'm finally beginning to rely more fully upon what the Spirit is telling me. When I listened to her problems, (she said something like, "I feel like I'm walking in the dark, keeping my fingers crossed...") Everything that I needed to tell her literally unfolded in my mind. Everything I needed to say was right there, all I had to do was open my mouth, and start. It was an inspiring moment where Heavenly Father answered my prayers. It boosted my testimony of revelation dramatically.
I'll tell you more next wednesday!
Elder Tanner Hansen.