Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"We have heard the voice of an apostle"

Terve Perhe! 

Yes that's right. The long awaited time has come and the silence is broken. Okay that's a little dramatic, but seriously, we've been waiting to hear from a member of the Twelve at a fireside or devotional for the whole time we've been here. That's not meant to detract from the other speakers, all of whom have been fantastic, but hearing from an apostle is always something special. Last night was no exception. We knew it was someone big because they wouldn't show who it was on the slideshow they have running before the meeting like they usually do, and twice before the meeting started they had someone stand up and talk to us about proper respect for servants of God. Then while we were singing prelude hymns, none other than Elder Jefferey R. Holland walked into the room. I almost passed out. We all got so excited. His talk was fantastic. Think like his talk on the Book of Mormon last conference good. And just as intense. I wish I could include everything he said, but there just isn't time. He talked to us for so long about the burden that we bear as the missionaries of this dispensation. All the significant missionary work of the history of this world is being done by the members of the church in this dispensation according to Elder Holland. He said, "Prophets, apostles, and missionaries of old took heart, even when they saw their own failed efforts and their people begin to fall into apostasy, because they saw our day and your efforts and the success of missionary work in the last days." And then he got very serious. You all know the voice. It's the one he used in his Book of Mormon talk. He said, in the voice of one ordained to speak on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Many have given their lives, some as recent as four days ago, for this work. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to disrespect their sacrifice by not giving your whole heart and soul to this work." Yeah, I'm gonna think about THAT the next time I want to complain about being tired or that the language is hard. Incidentally, does anyone know what he was referring to to when he said "four days ago." I wish I could've counted the number of times he used the words "you have no right" last night, hammering home the gravity of our work and our need to take it seriously. Not just to take it seriously. It was deeper than that. It's that we should make it a part of us permanently. It should never leave us. He said the thing that makes him the most upset is when missionaries return home and immediately go back to the way they were without any knowledge of why they left in the first place. I already don't ever want to come home, so I think I'm on the right track. I've become lost in this work. No, not just the MTC (because yes, I have forgotten that BYU has started up again), but this work. I can't stop thinking about Finland and the people I will teach. 

Elder Holland talked a lot about the idea of "passing the baton" in our church in terms of missionary work and leadership service and everything. We always pass on the responsibility. Then he said, "Take me for example. I've got one foot in the grave, and the other on a banana peel. I'm almost out of here." Hilarious. But really sad. I really hope it's a long time before we lose him to his continued work beyond the veil. 

Speaking of Finland, had my first full, complete conversation with a native Finn in only Finnish a couple days ago. It was short, he said more than I did, but it happened. It is in fact possible. 

Got an awesome package from Whitney the other day. All this candy and chocolate from Vienna (so good!) along with a nice letter and a copy of a scripture memorization technique. Really excited to start using that. 

So Elder Hoggard and I were practicing door approaches the other day and we came up with the greatest one ever. One companion stands at the door and says, "Hello. We have a message for you from God" whereupon his companion (standing out of sight) drops a Book of Mormon into his hands as though it fell from heaven. The first companion, with a straight face, and as though it was nothing, simply continues, "It's the Book of Mormon, may we come in and teach you about it?" Our teachers thought it was hilarious. One of them was like, "Why didn't I think of that? I totally would've used that in Finland." Either we're getting really creative as a result of the Spirit, or it's just time for us to get out of here. 

So one of the unfortunate parts of being in tht MTC for so long is that everyone thinks you're really old. I had some of our new english elders come up to us at lunch last week and say, with absolute sincerity, "so you're an RM right?" Do I really look that old? They honestly thought we were called to come back to MTC and just be zone leaders for young missionaries. I need to get out of here...... 

Family, my time on this strange thing called to internet is up. But before I go I want to write something I thought of while listening to Elder Holland speak last night. 

"If this burden is the cross Christ spoke of when he said to take up our cross and follow him, then I will bear it gladly, for I know that this burden will carry me forward much more than I will carry it forward." 

Love you all, 

Elder McKay

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week 7

Terve Perheni!
So glad to hear your Summer is going well. I actually have forgotten that Summer vacation exists outside the MTC. Yesterday after gym we bumped into a group of kids walking home from school. It was the strangest feeling ever. Somehow, I don't know how, but somehow life seems to have continued in the outside world. I guess I wasn't as important as I thought, oh well I'll try not to take it too personally. Maren, so excited for you getting that job at Jamba this summer, I know that'll be great for you. Glad to hear you passed your smoothie test too, I said a couple prayers for you, but really, I always knew you'd make it. ;)
It's been so great to have Elder Schnell in my zone. It's like having a brother around again. We've had a lot of fun together this first week. Our only real problem is getting in our minds that we're supposed to refer to each other as "elder" now. I don't know that I'll ever really get used to that. He's Michael to me. Tell his family that he's doing awesome. Really. He'll be a great missionary. He just showed up with a little too much adidas product. It's okay, I think I'll forgive him eventually, but honestly Dad, how did you let that slide through? Great to hear about Patrick getting his call. Tell him congratulations from me. The Finnish missionaries have tons of respect for the Japanese missionaries because they're some of the only ones that can give us a run for our money as far as the language and the difficulty in the field goes. Got a great letter from Elder Francis too, sounds like he's doing awesome. I love Ben. And, yes Dad, Dillon Reynolds was in my quorum at BYU, he was actually my secretary first semester. Great guy. Really excited to have the Lithuanians joining our district. Our district is now Finnish, Estonian, and Lithuanian. Crazy huh?
I want to share some things I've learned and been working on over the past couple of weeks here at the MTC. My branch president, President Thorpe, who I absolutely love, challenged me to deepen my understanding of the Atonement. I decided to start by working through the list of tesitmonies of the Savior in the Book of Mormon. It's found on the opening page of lesson 2 of chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. Some fantastic scriptures in there that I hadn't read for a very long time. I especially love Abinadai's testimony. Mosiah 12-16. Incredible. Especially chapters 15 and 16. I can't remember which of those chapters it is, but I'm pretty sure it's Mosiah 15:9 that talks about the Savior "standing betwixt them and justice." Absolutely love that image. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is such a miraculous thing. I love my Savior. I'm so eternally grateful for His sacrifice.
Another great image I've found and come to love is Enos. Enos 1:27 is one of my new favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon. Think about him for a second. He had Jacob for a father, so he probably had some incredible experiences growing up. He lived among the Nephites and was probably fairly wealthy and successful, had good status socially and within the church, and he had the responsibility to write in and pass on the plates. But of all the things he could have written, he considered the most important event in his life the day that he finally understood the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is how important the Atonement was for him, that's how important I want it to be for me. We use Enos with every single investigator we teach now.
Unfortunately, we don't have any really good Finnish stories this week. We did get Veli Mock back from vacation though, which we were all excited about. He's such a great teacher. I've learned a ton from him and he's been an awesome example to me. Bumped in to Boman too, which was fun.
Alright fam, time's up, gotta go. Thanks for all your letters, I read them all like gold. Sorry I can't respond to all of them.
Elder Hansen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Terve Perheni!! 

Okay first of all, happy birthday Mom and Erik!! Sounds like you got spoiled Mom, you deserve it. 

HUGE NEWS: get a text to Brian Schnell ASAP. Elder Michael Schnell is going to be in my zone in the MTC!!! Super excited. Gonna be too much fun. 

Mom thanks for the package. Had a lot of fun knocking back that bottle of Martinelli's...all by myself. Some of the missionaries did a double take when they saw it. One of them was like, "where's your brown bag?" it was fun. Yes, Dad, you may roll your eyes now. 

Dad, thanks for sending your thoughts and your tribute to Grandpa. I loved reading it. Had a nice chat with Brett about it too. I don't know if I told you, but we actually live in the same residence hall, so I see him all the time. It's great. Love spending time with him. 

Had a great week this week, taught a bunch of fun lessons. We've started teaching each other as progressing investigators, which is fun, except for when we start laughing during lessons. Finns do this thing where they talk while they breathe in, just to keep talking, and it sounds really funny. So I did it during a lesson one time while I was the investigator and Elder Bishop just about lost it. Yeah, maybe not the most productive lesson, but it makes for a good story right? I'm glad our district is close enough that we can joke around with each other. Bishop and I also always go back and forth with movie lines, reminds of dinner at home. Maren and Reese, I need you to research the line "All good things must come to an end, let's end it together" we can't remember what movie it's from, and it's driving us crazy. Find out and send me a dearelder today. Please. [ed. note: Our resident movie line aficionado, Maren, tells us that the line is from "A Knight's Tale" - a Hansen family favorite].

The other night Piispa (Elder Bishop's nickname cuz it's Finnish for 'Bishop') and I were going back and forth about whose clock was set to the right time. Mine was about two minutes ahead of his. He goes well, would you rather have more time or less time? and I reply I'd rather be ON TIME! Yeah it was fun. 

We had an awesome devotional last night from Elder David F. Evans. He talked a lot about the purpose of teaching the role of our Heavenly Father in the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. It's so interesting to me to realize how often we ignore or forget the role of our Heavenly Father when we talk about the Holy Ghost and the Savior. I'll send you some of my notes in a letter later. 

Finnish is going. It's hard, but I feel like I get better every day. It just takes a lot of work. I ran into Andrew McKinley in the cafeteria and he told me that every time he thinks about complaining about the language he thinks of me and gets back to work. That made me feel better. We've been teaching Sister Thorpe, our branch president's wife, a new Finnish word every time we see her and she's actually developing quite an awesome vocabulary by now. She always says that it'll be our fault when she and President Thorpe get called to Finland on their mission.

No Finnish slip ups this week, or at least none that we're funny enough to report, but I do have a new favorite word. "Lohi" is the Finnish word for salmon, and k(a)(a)rme (that's the a with the dots over it, this computer wont make them for some reason) means snake. But put them together and "lohikaarme" means dragon. Yep don't ask me why but that's what it is. 

Alright, it's time for me to go. I love you all, thank you all for your love and support. Oh, Mom, there's a good reason I haven't mentioned the food. Yeah....  It's okay though, I'm eating as healthy as I can. 

Love you all, have a great week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week...uh...I don't remember

Terve Rakas Perhe,

I love the MTC!! In some ways, I want to stay here the rest of my life and just study the gospel. There are times when I sit down to write a thought in my study journal, and three or four pages later I have a short discourse written. It's awesome, the Spirit is so clear here. Like the other night, I was sitting with Elder Hoggard in the Omaha elders' room and all of a sudden I got a feeling to get up and walk out into the hall. It was really strong too, so I decided this must be important, I need to go now. So I left. Right when I walked out, the new Mongolian elders all ran up to me and asked some questions about the Sunday schedule for mission conference. Simple questions, simple answers. All in all, not an extremely interesting event, so why was the prompting so strong? I realized later that it wasn't stronger, it was clearer. The absence of any distractions here in the MTC makes the Spirit so much easier to feel and understand. 

This week Elder Hoggard and I taught our best lesson ever together. I feel like I say that every week, but I guess that's a good thing because it means I'm getting better right? Anyway, so we asked "Mikko" to read a scripture and while he was reading, he got really excited, like something he read had actually hit him (which is rare when they're pretending to be Finns, because Finns don't really show emotion). After the lesson, Veli Mock called us back in and talked to us about what that scripture had taught him personally, not just our "investigator." I know that wasn't us, that was the Pyhä Henki, but it still meant a lot to know that the Spirit was there while we taught. 

We learned a ton of Finnish this week. A TON! Kind of like trying to drink water from a firehose. But it was good, I think I got most of it. The hardest part is trying to apply and use what we learn outside of a religious context. I have three days a week where I only speak Finnish (as in nolla englantia) which is really hard to do when my vocab is so limited, but I can hear my Finnish improving over the course of those days. It's wonderful. 

Our "Old Finns" (the district ahead of us) left for Finland this past Monday. We already miss them like crazy. It's sad being the only Finnish district in the MTC. 

Shout out. Happy Birthday to the best older brother ever, Elder Erik Hansen, who is currently tearing it up in Denmark. 

Mom, I get to see the Omaha missionaries outside of class because they're in my zone. We don't have enough Finnish and Estonian missionaries to merit a whole branch, but we're so grateful to have all these English missionaries that rotate through our zone every three weeks. They're all awesome and we wish them the best. Also, I've been meaning to tell you, but I have a random, "it's a small world after all" type of connection. Turns out that one of the Finnish missionaries ahead of us Sisar Shaw, was roommates with Claire Aldous at BYU. Cool, huh? 

I love you family, you are the best. I love reading all of your letters. Don't ever let anything discourage you. And that goes for any of you who read this email. Don't ever let anyone or anything get you down. Always rely on the Savior. Think about him every day. 

All my love, 

Elder Christen McKay Hansen

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One Month

Terve Perhe!!! 


Have gotten both your packages, thank you so much. I'm good for now, just please keep sending letters, they're like missionary gold. 

The temple reopened this week, we were all so excited. Went and had a great session. When we came out it started to rain and we had tons of fun getting soaked. Little things like that are so much fun in the MTC. 

I learned something this week. Scriptures are so much harder to use in Finnish! It's weird, but it's true. We can't use context, because we can't read anything. The scriptures aren't in the same place on the page either, because the Finnish words are all longer than English ones. That being said, I've started to actually comprehend what I read when I'm reading the Book of Mormon. It's awesome. I have a mini-celebration with every verse I actually read all the way through and understand every word. 

We had some great experiences this week. We taught in the TRC again on Thursday and actually worked with the same volunteer from the week before. He's awesome. Anyway, he told us that our Finnish had improved by "leaps and bounds" in a week. Great to hear, made me feel good about myself. 

Two funny stories from Finnish this week: 

We have started shouting "joulupukki" ("Christmas goat" - Finnish version of Santa Claus, don't ask) when we come in the door, as just a fun tradition in our district. However, instead of shouting that one morning, Elder Nicoll said "sukupuoli!".....which means "sexual." Yikes. It's okay though, we all do stuff like that. 

I messed up this week too. Trying to commit an investigator to come to church, and he asked when it was. I meant to say tomorrow (huomenna), but instead I said eilen (yesterday), felt really dumb. Ahem. 

We have an awesome group of new missionaries. They're headed to OMAHA! Cool, huh? Kinda have a special place in my heart for that place, and I hope it's nice to these elders. Found out that one of them, Elder Boody, is a convert of about a year. He is incredible. He has such a powerful testimony and really really deep knowledge of the doctrine of Christ. He studied for over a year before getting baptized, and it shows. I'm so glad I have these two years to devote to the Lord and strengthen my testimony by preaching His gospel. I wish I could be a missionary the rest of my life and always be learning this much about the gospel. Maybe I'll just go join a monastery or something. 

I've learned so much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ this week, and I know I will always be indebted to my Savior for his mercy and love. 

Rakastan teita, 

Elder Hansen