That is something that has been interesting to me, though. I have really been wondering why different areas are so much slower in Church growth than others. Boston is NOT that far away from here, yet it’s a world of a difference as far as membership goes. And even in Philadelphia.. They are getting a temple for Heaven’s sake! (hahaha heaven’s sake… so funny). But my mission, geographically, is HUGE. I’m in the middle of my mission, and it takes about 3 hours to drive to the mission home. So people on the far end spend about 5 hours driving to Pittsburgh. It’s just crazy. And I’m pretty sure Pittsburgh is not really anywhere near getting a temple any time soon. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I really think it’s more realistic than anything. It kind of makes me feel a little special because, well… I’ll say this. It is so tough when the work is slow. I just keep looking for little miracles. And I find them every single day. Even when it’s tough. But enough of comparing my mission to other missions. Because it doesn’t really matter. I am HERE and I am MEANT to be. It’s up to me to make sure I keep recognizing that.
So now for some great things that happened this week.
We were walking down the street and there was an Indian guy in front of us. That’s not really that abnormal. But he totally smelled like the chalk stuff that you throw at the Holi Color Festival in Spanish Fork. It was crazy. You know how sometimes smells just take you instantly back to a memory you have and it’s like… smelling de ja vu? Yeah. That’s what happened.
Our next door neighbors are Indian. Their names are Lavish and Alloch (I’m just guessing on the spelling here) and they are super cool. On Saturday night, Sister Hurdsman and I were walking home from the bus stop that is down the road from our house because we have to be obedient and not get home 30 minutes early but the buses run at stupid times in the summer. (That was the best run-on sentence yinz ever did read). When we got closer to the apartment, we realized that Lavish and Alloch were in front of us, so we walked the remainder of the way together. We asked them why they were walking and they told us that there isn’t much to do on weekends so they just thought they’d walk home from the store instead of taking the bus. So… They go to Penn State and they don’t party?! That is a RARITY. We’ve been seeing them around pretty consistently, and they are super friendly, so we hope to introduce them to the Gospel soon.
I had an experience on the bus the other day that is worth sharing. I was sitting on the right side of the bus and these two girls got on. One had short, blond hair and the other one had pink hair. I didn’t look too closely at them until about five minutes later when I realized that the girl with short, blond hair was wearing shorts and short sleeves, and her legs and wrists were just covered in cuts. They were very distinctively self-harm cuts, and I felt a pit grow in my stomach. I was almost in tears just thinking how sad I was for her. I sat there, wishing there was something that I could do to help her realize that she has worth. I knew nothing about her; I didn’t know her personality or what she had been through in her life. But this I knew: She is a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves her SO much. I realized that she, more than anyone around me, probably needed the Gospel. So I got out of my seat, moved over, and went to talk to those two girls. Upon talking to them, they told me that they were Pagan and “Satanist,” as the blond girl called herself. But I got them to talk to me. I did everything I could to help them feel like someone cared about them. I gave them mormon.org cards, and I have been praying that they at least recognize that they are loved by someone. Who knows if anything will come of it anytime soon? I am praying that I helped them in at least a little way.
We have been getting records from Church Headquarters of people who, at one point or another, were in the branch. We’re supposed to try this whole list of ways to contact them to try and locate their current address to transfer their records. This is what I call “stalking,” and it’s what missionaries do when there is literally not a soul in State College. There was a cool story with one of them, though. There was this guy we ran into on the street during my first transfer and he told us he used to be a Mormon but “quit right before receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood.” He is one of the people we got a record for. We gave him a call and got no answer, unsurprisingly. About an hour later, he returned our call and told us where he was and that he would actually like his records transferred. WHAT?! That is unheard of! We were super excited and got ahold of the elders that cover Middletown, near Harrisburg. Well, guess which elder is there? ELDER HALE!! So I totally got to talk to the Hale’s cousin for a few minutes while telling him about this less active that they were going to be able to track down. He told me that it was the best news they had gotten all day. He also said, “Sister Hanseen, do you know what my planner said today? ‘Trust the Lord.’ And nothing happened!” Hahaha. I totally know how that goes, though. You work super hard all day and pretty much nothing happens. Then, at the last second, a miracle either happens or you recognize one that had happened, and your long, hot, sweaty, frustrating, boring, terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad day was all worth it.
I got a package from the Hoopes this week and it was so darling. There was a picture that little Noelle drew of me on a trampoline. 🙂 Along with some hand sanitizer and other goodies. I got a great letter from Grandma, as well. Those were some good highlights.
Sister Hurdsman and I are having a BLAST together. Seriously. We just laugh all day, and I do stupid things that I think are funny and she doesn’t think I’m TOO crazy. I feel like I can be myself a lot more this transfer than I did last transfer. It’s crazy still that I will probably be in State College for a third of my mission, because that makes me realize how short this really is. I love it here. I definitely miss home, and I’m excited to go back to school when I get home (weird, huh?), but I am so happy to be out here doing the work.
This is the true Church. I wish that I could just sit down with everyone that I love that has lost sight of that and tell them how much I love them, but more importantly, how much Heavenly Father loves them. But this will have to suffice. Christ lives. He loves us. And nothing that we do will EVER put us out of reach of the infinite healing power of the Atonement. It takes a LOT of faith to be able to depend on something that can, at times, seem very abstract. But as Ether says, “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Our faith is meant to be tried. But there is a relief from earthly sorrows and struggles. It is through Christ Jesus that we have bee promised everlasting happiness and eternal life.
I know this. I love this. I live this to the best of my abilities. And I hope and pray that all of you will too. I know that you’ll be able to recognize the healing that comes from depending on the Lord.
I miss you all. I pray for you all. I LOVE YOU ALL. Have a fantastic week!
Sister McKann Hanseen
10 Vairo Blvd #32D
State College, PA 16803