Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 3

  Sisar Beckwith
Terve Perhe, 

First things first, Dad, google translate isn't exactly your best friend. Especially with Finnish. One of the reasons I don't want to include any Finnish in my emails is because I know everyone will just go type it into google translate and it'll be totally wrong and then I'll look like an idiot who isn't learning anything at the MTC. Only not really, but kinda. 

I sent home a few pictures with a letter. I'll print out more pictures as soon as I can, and once my memory card is full I'll just send it home so you guys can put up some pictures on the blog and on facebook. 

Had a really stressful week this week. Lots of struggles to deal with and lots of change. Our teacher, Sisar Beckwith, left us this week to start a job down in Arizona, where she'll also be attending graduate school at Arizona State. We'll miss her - she was one of the best teachers that has ever lived ever, but we're happy for her to be getting such an amazing opportunity. Veli Thatcher, her replacement, is awesome. He was actually our first investigator "Pasi" and now he's another investigator, "Jukka." All of his characters have so much personality, which makes the teaching experience seem incredibly real, but at the same time, when he's pretending to be drunk (and looking really convincing) it makes it a little tough to focus. I actually started busting up in the middle of the lesson yesterday and had to take a second to collect my thoughts before we could continue. 

My Finnish is starting to improve, I just need so much more practice! I feel like I know enough grammar to start using it, but if I don't start learning the right vocab to be able to speak it regularly I'm going to lose it all. Vanhin Hoggard and I have set a goal to SYL (Speak Your Language) 5-6 hours a day. It's a lot, and sometimes we have to cheat, but it wroks, and our Finnish is benefitting from it. One pretty funny story this week: Vanhin Nicoll (his Finnish is getting so good! I'm surprised this happened to him) was teaching about the gift of the Holy Ghost. When he said God wants to give you a gift, he mispronounced the word for gift and instead said something like God wants to give you a salmon. Ouch. It's ok though, we've all done things exactly like that. 

Yesterday was an amazing day. We checked a few guys out of their rooms because they left this morning for the field. It's a weird feeling. We're so happy to see them go, but in a good way. We wish them all the best, and we know they'll do great. 

We got a thunderstorm yesterday, which ironically always seems to brighten my day.

If you all are looking for some inspiration, go find Elder Holland's talk he gave at an MTC devotional a great many moons ago called "A Mission is Forever" or something like that. It is absolutely fantastic. I don't know how to put into words how I felt when I heard that talk. Except for maybe scared out of my wits. His testimony was so powerful. I love Elder Holland and I love the way he felt about his mission. It meant everything to him, the way mine has begun to mean everything to me. This gospel is not just for me. It is not just for those who have grown up in the church and always had a testimony. It is for everyone. It has the power to bless the lives of every one of God's children and help them reach their full potential. I love this work, I love this gospel, and I love my Savior. 

There is a power in reading the Book of Mormon. It's a power I feel even when I read it in Finnish and only understand the most vital words. It is true. And I know it. 

Time's up. I love you all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

For Grandpa Hansen

For those who have not already heard, my father Chris Hansen passed away on Tuesday. There is a tradition in our family where the second son carries the name of my great-grandfather, Chris M Hansen, with each generation having a different middle name beginning with the letter "M." McKay is the fifth generation, and was very close to my dad. As you can see, he looks like his Grandpa.

We called the MTC to ask them to notify McKay, and the District President met with him to deliver the news. He invited McKay to send a separate email to share his thoughts on his Grandpa:

Just some thoughts I had about Grandpa.
Things I will never forget:

  • How Grandpa always answered the phone: always kind, always happy, always told me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me, and always handed the phone back to Grandma.
  • The time we were playing charades and Brett acted as Grandpa by holding a droopy eye open while pretending to drive.
  • How Grandpa tried to tackle him for doing that.
  • The time Grandpa made sugar cookies with me. I cannot remember the day, the month, or the year, but I will always remember that simple time we spent together doing something that made him happy.
  • The time he came to visit for my Eagle Scout Court of Honor, and how he fell and tore his meniscus that first night. We were so worried that I agreed to sleep downstairs on the couch with him in the recliner, just so I could be there in the middle of the night if he needed anything. Even with me there, he still tried to get up and go to the bathroom on his own rather than trouble me. I will never forget the half hour struggle that ensued to get him back in the recliner. It was almost comical.
  • How good it felt to try to help Grandpa.
Last of all, I will never forget his great name. I cannot forget his name, for to forget his name would be to forget myself. My actions do not only affect my name, but his. That name that has been carried by fathers and sons, grandfathers and grandsons, by second son after second son through five generations down to me. When I honor that name, I honor him. And I will honor my name.
I am, and remain, and always will be,
Christen M. Hansen

"Cherish the challenge of your language"

Terve Minun Perheeni!! [Hello Family!] 

Thank you all so much for all you letters and all the emails. You guys are the best! 

Dad, thanks for everything you send me, from sports to church publications, lesson plans to forwarded emails from certain people. It's all great and I love reading it. Don't worry about any of it being distracting. I've learned more than anything here how to focus well and not let anything get in my way. That learning did not come easily, but let me tell you the story of how I learned it. 

Thursday night was one of the worst nights of my entire life. It was also one of the best nights of my life because of how I learned and grew over the course of one evening. We went to the Training Resource Center for the first time Thursday night. It was so hard. I was completely unprepared. I tried hard to study and prepare a lesson, but I just couldn't focus. Worse still, the Spirit was not with me during that lesson, so I couldn't even just open my mouth and let it be filled. No effort on my part means no effort on his part. When I came back to the clasroom to prepare to teach our "progressing investigator," Sisar Beckwith noticed I was really frustrated. She sat us all down and had us read D&C 35:13. That struck me like a needle prick right in my heart. Either that or like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer. Kinda a mix of both, if that makes sense. It's true. We are weak, but He will make us strong. We are unlearned, but He will teach us. Our second lesson that night went amazing, we even "committed" our "investigator" to baptism by the end of the night. We must never give up on the Lord's errand. All the effort on my part, means all the effort on His part. And when I have his complete backing, I know I can do all things. Really, the only reason I work as hard as I do is so that he will work hard through me. It is not about me. From that night on, I have been more open to the Spirit, more diligent in my study, my eye has been more single to His glory. 

I've also learned there's a big difference between being open to the Spirit and listening to the Spirit. Kinda how there's a big difference between having your phone in your pocket waiting for a phone call and actually picking up your phone and calling. I'm making long distance calls to the Spirit all day long, I don't care how much it costs. 

So we've moved on from soccer at gym time and we're playing volleyball now. Yours truly is kind of a beast, but Sisar Shreeve puts us all to shame. Volleyball is the one thing elders and sisters can actually play together, so it's fun to have our whole district (all five of us) together. Anyway, I did have my one moment of glory. Game point, last game for the day. Jump-serve, game-winning ace. Yeah it was pretty cool. 

Hey so this is something I've been working on for a little while now and I want to get as many opinions and suggestions on it as I can. The Book of Mormon (cliff notes version?) I don't know what to call it but here it is: 

1 Nephi 1:14,20 
2 Nephi 2:6-7 
2 Nephi 29:8-9 
2 Nephi 31:10-12, 19-21 
Mosiah 2:41
Mosiah 5:2 
Alma 5:14 
Alma 32:28-43 
Alma 33:22-23 
Helaman 5:12 
3 Nephi 11:6,7,9-11 
3 Nephi 27:20-21 
Moroni 10:3-5 

Like I said, I want and need suggestions on this. It's not perfect, but I want to make it perfect. Any of you who read this, try this out and write to me to tell me what you thought, what you felt, and what you think should be added, subtracted, or changed. 

Finnish is coming along slowly, but surely. I love this language. We had a devotional last night where we were told to "cherish the challenge of your language." Great advice, and something I've really been working on. Just one fun story: I accidentaly mixed up the words for "how" and "who" so when pretending to be an investigator I asked how Jesus is rather than saying who he is. Whoops. But other than that I'm learning tons and remembering a lot. Flashcards are inspired. One of the things Sisar Beckwith explained is that Finnish is a bit like a pyramid. We have to build a huge foundation and learn hundreds of words and grammar principles before we can feel like we know how to say anything at all, but once we learn those things the higher levels are actually a lot smaller and less complex to learn.

I love you family. This church is true. I know that Jesus is my Savior. 

Mina rakastan minun perheeni. Mina tiedan etta Jeesus Kristus on minun Vapahtajani. Mina rakastan hanen evankeliuminsa ja kirkossa. [I love my family. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I love his gospel and church.] 


Elder Hansen

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Email from the MTC


Thanks for all the letters, I felt rich walking back from the mailbox with four in one day. Not gonna lie, my district was a little jealous.

I love the MTC so far! The spirit here is so strong, it makes all the challenges feel like nothing at all. Finnish is as difficult as everyone told me it would be, but I'm amazed by our progress in just the first week. All it takes is hard work and blessings from the Spirit of God. We are by no means experts (or even close) but we can pray and bear testimony. What else does a missionary need? It actually helps our teaching that we can't speak very well yet. For one thing, it forces us to keep our discussions simple. The gospel really is simple truths, why do we need complex sentences to explain it? It also helps keep us humble, which invites the spirit to take over and teach for us.

My district is small, only 5 of us, four elders and one sister. My companion's name is Vanhin Hoggard, and he's awesome. In personality, he is my exact opposite. But we share a great desire to learn and to teach. We spend most of our free time teaching each other Finnish. He's incredibly intelligent, and I love the deep discussions we get into.

The other members of my district are Vanhin Nicoll and Vanhin Bishop. Vanhin Bishop and I are becoming really good friends, mostly, if you can believe this, because we quote movie lines back and forth. Reminds me of dinner at home. Sisar Shreeve, our solo sister, is a saint for putting up with hours of study sessions with four nineteen year old boys. She's from Alaska and I'm so impressed with her for coming on a mission. I'm impressed with all the sisters here for their sacrifice.

I'm the one who has the responsibility to check the mail. Everyone knows roughly when I go to check it too, so they always get really excited around lunch time. I promised my teachers that I wouldn't hand it out in class, though, so we all have to wait till 9:30 at night to open it. Delayed gratification anyone? My teachers are Veli Mock and Sisar Beckwith, and they are incredible. I admire their patience and diligence so much. Vanhin Hoggard asks "Kuinka sanotaan....?" like every three minutes, so they put up with a lot. Kuinka sanotaan means "how do you say.....?" It actually got him into trouble one our first day, when he asked "kuinka sanotaan how?" and Veli Mock just gave him a weird look.

A couple other fun language stories from this week:

Vanhin Nicoll was sitting at lunch the other day and one of the older Finns (the district ahead of us) asked him a question in English. He kept responding: "Mita?" (What?), until finally someone informed him that it was English, not Finnish. He was so embarrassed. Poor guy. It happened to him again in our room last night.

The word for "he saw" is nakii, and the word for hot dog is naki. During one of our lessons with our investigator, Vanhin Hoggard tried to say that Joseph smith saw the Father and the Son, but instead wound up saying Joseph Smith hot dog. ha.

I'm loving the opportunity to teach this investigator. Even though it's fake, the Spirit isn't. What a great feeling.

The Top Ten Things I've learned in the MTC so far:
10. "the top bunk [stinks]" - my zone leader
9. You can actually drink the orange juice
8. Flashcards are an inspired method of memorization.
7. We learn the gospel line upon line, and learning a language works much the same way.
6. If you want to learn to speak a language, you have to practice actually speaking it.
5. If you don't ask a question, you will never receive your answer.
4. We over complicate the gospel far too often. Study Christ's simple doctrine and you will come closer to him.
3. We in this church are in the business of developing people, not the business of simply running a good organization.
2. We are here to invite people to come unto Christ. That is the purpose of every missionary in the world, the purpose of every missionary that has ever lived, and the purpose Christ himself declared when he said, "come follow me"
1. Open your mouth and it shall be filled.

I love you all, I appreciate your support and your prayers. Know they are heard and felt.


Elder Hansen

Saturday, July 9, 2011

MTC Companion - Elder Hoggard

We received an email from a volunteer at the MTC this morning:

"I thought you might enjoy a picture of your son and his companion, Elder Michael Hoggard. I volunteer at the MTC and I know Elder Hoggard. He went to school with my son. He is from Highland, UT. I like to take pictures of the missionaries that I know and send them to their parents.

"They are getting along great. Elder Hoggard is a really fun, positive person. He is really into drama and was in all of the plays in high school. He's a sweet kid and should be a great companion for your son.

"By the way, they told me their p-day is on Wed., so you should expect an email by then. They also said that they slept well their first night after they finally fell asleep and are very happy to be at the MTC."

Näkemiin Vanhin Hansen (Goodbye Elder Hansen)

Welcome to McKay's Mission Blog! We'll use this blog to post updates and photos of his experiences as a missionary.

On February 23, McKay received his call to serve in the Finland Helsinki Mission, with a report date of July 6. He was set apart on Sunday night by President Fisher. We left Portland last Monday to drive him to Provo. When we stopped for gas in Pendleton, we saw this sign, which seemed appropriate:

Tuesday morning we went on a hike with our friends the Hunts, and then left for Provo so that McKay could say goodbye to a few friends. We did some last minute shopping and then had dinner at La Jolla Groves. Wednesday morning we did a little more last minute shopping, had lunch at Ripples, and then went to the temple for some pictures:

And then it was time to drop him off at the MTC. Since Erik flew from Portland to Salt Lake City, this was our first experience with the "curbside drop-off" and it was as quick and efficient as advertised. A few quick hugs, and he was gone...

...and so it begins.