Monday, August 4, 2014


Before I write a blog post email, I almost always have a very clear idea of what themes might arise, and what the title of the entry should be. After some big experiences lately, I've decided that this week will be about opposition.

The bad news part first: We are within a week of Joy's baptism, which means that this is the time when Satan is hardest at work on our dear friend. It's almost a cliche that the week before a baptism is a dangerous one, and something ALWAYS goes wrong at some point. Yesterday we got a phone call from Joy, which was alarming in itself, since she always texts us. We caught the first available bus and met her by the university, and walked around the lake shore to talk through some things. That morning she'd been at church, eager as ever, wearing one of the new skirts we helped her pick out at our thrift store outing last P-day. She looked good- not just her outfit, but her entire countenance. Later that afternoon, she had a very upsetting personal experience that made her question her decision to be baptized this Saturday. She said that she'd first thought to just leave all of this behind, but then she couldn't lie to herself and say that she hasn't seen miracles and become a better person since learning about the church. She then told us about her idea to postpone her baptism until things got a little bit better. As missionaries, we know that this just gives Satan more opportunities to do his thing, and we were holding our breath waiting for a definitive answer on this weekend's goings on. We listened, talked, cried, shared scriptures, and finally knelt together on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and of pleading for strength. As always, Joy found her answer almost immediately after the prayer, and when we sat back down at our bench, the first thing she said was, "The baptism is still ON!" YAY, good news part!!! She shared with us some other very personal thoughts, feelings, and oddly miraculous experiences that have strengthened her determination to be baptized and confirmed this coming weekend. She is one of the strongest people I know. Many people would run away, abandon all of this, make excuses, justify keeping the Book of Mormon around in their lives and just not being baptized, any number of things. But not Joy. She amazes us every single time we meet with her, no exceptions. My mom sometimes tells me that she'd tell me how much she loves me, but she doesn't yet speak the perfect Adamic language of heaven. I feel the same way about Joy.

We got another phone call earlier in the week from our dear friend, Brigitte. She's had bad health for a while now, but has lately felt lonely and discouraged on top of it all. She told us that we needed to call before our scheduled visit the next day, because she might be in the hospital. When the time came we called, and found out that she was indeed at the hospital, receiving care for her sick legs. We re-programmed our schedule and got off the bus at the hospital, and spent almost half and hour looking for her! Finnish hospitals are not like ones in America- You can pretty much just walk in, and walk all around, getting lost, and nobody will say anything. Turns out, we entered the building at exactly the opposite spot from where we should have been, but all was well, and we finally found our friend. She was so excited to see us! "I told you to call, and you did! I told you that you could come, and now you're here!" Anything for Brigitte.

Opposition on the mission isn't just about rejection or language barriers. People often give a general, "It's hard, but worth it" when asked about missionary difficulties. Opposition can also include not receiving revelation at the rate you'd like, feeling like the list of demands placed in front of you is too lengthy to be possible, exhaustion and burn-out from the intense missionary schedule, Satan constantly at work trying to get you to mess up this sacred time, temptations to look a little too long at the worldliness around you, agency of others, losing focus, fears of an unknown post-mission future, not always seeing the results of hard work, weather, getting tired of the routine, waiting for miracles, wanting to be alone for just a day, disagreements with other missionaries and church members, and the list goes on. It's been said that many missionaries go through their own Gethsemane while on their mission. The experiences I've had here have often been difficult, and I've lost track of the times when I've just wished I could go home and be "normal" again. But just like Joy, I know that I can't deny the things I've felt throughout this process. I can't deny the feelings of the Holy Ghost piercing my soul as my bishop in Geneva asked me to reconsider missionary work. I can't forget that opening my mission call to see the words, "Finland Helsinki Mission" was one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. This mission has made me a better person than I thought I could be. I'm still me, but a more dedicated, hard-working, mature, and humble version of me. I've felt moments of intense joy with people who I didn't know a year ago, although who I now love dearly. I've seen miracles that I never would have thought possible. Sometimes I have to stop for a minute and think, "What did I do in my life to deserve being here in such a wonderful place with these amazing people? Why, of all people, did Heavenly Father choose ME to be here at this time, to be part of Hank's/Joy's/Brigitte's/Sisar Nyman's life journey?" At times it's still surreal to me that I'm even here in the first place, although my one-year mark looms ahead in the not-so-distant future. There are times when I have felt like my mission is a refiner's fire, my own personal Gethsemane that I must endure with faith and patience. And I think that there are periods on my mission that have been set aside for me for these very purposes. But as we learn in the Book of Mormon, there must be "opposition in all things", and as a balance to these times of opposition, I have been blessed beyond what I can say with an imperfect vocabulary. Joy, Hank, Sisar Nyman, Brigitte, Dave, President and Sisar Rawlings, and the long list of people I've met here during my time as a full-time missionary have all been worth it. I would do all of this just for each one of them. The thing about Gethsemane is, that it can be the best way to come closer to the Savior, and to feel just a glimmer of what He has felt for me, and for the world. I'm thankful for this time that I've had to dedicate to Him, and to come closer to being like Him in understanding, and in experience as I work to help others around me come to know Him as well.

This mission is hard, but worth it.


Sisar Hansen

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