Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week 4 - Jun 22nd - 28th, 2014

June 22-28 

First full week in South Africa.

This was a very busy week with some 10 and 12 hour days getting housing paid for over 100 flats along with their associated utilities.  Seems to always be some missionaries whose power has been shut off from one of the five or six different power utility companies.  Then, to complicate matters sometimes the missionaries run out of phone minutes and sadly my mission issued cell phone runs out too, then we're in for real delays in helping solve problems.

Melanie has been very busy helping obtain necessities for the Elders to pass out weekly when the Zone Leaders come in to get the things they need, ie. plungers, space heaters (there is no central heating or a/c), knives, frying pans, spoons, cleaning materials, sponges, brooms, mops, ironing board, dishtowels, etc.  This week it required that she place her life in the hands of her wonderful trainer, driver, and co-shopper Sister Taylor who along with her husband is serving her sixth mission.  After that experience Melanie said she seriously doubts whether she will ever have the nerve to drive here on the left side from the right side of the car.

All in all though, it's been a full week of hard work and continually getting to know more about our great group of about 200 Elders.  It's too dangerous here so Sister missionaries are not sent here.  Our missionaries here come from over 30 different countries including the US, Europe, South American, Asia, they come from everywhere.  Many come here from countries here in Africa too, but sometimes Visas are a problem to obtain like some other areas around the world.  These missionaries are baptizing around 100 per month and the work is exciting for all of us!

Next week we will get a new mission president, Pres. Michael Dunn and Sister Linda Dunn of SLC.  They should be wonderful to work with.

We had some special deep cleaning going on so we had a little free time to go learn about some African culture.  It was very interesting.  For me it was particularly unique as the following post describes.

Elder Hansen enjoyed eating a big fat mopane worm (caterpillar) along with some maize pap together with my native guide at the Lesesdi Cultural village where we learned about some different tribes and their way of life and customs. Yum Yum!!!
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  • Elder Larry LaVarr Hansen Gonimbrasia belina is a species of moth found in much of Southern Africa, whose large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans. Like many animals lower down on the food chain, the mopane worms and their eggs often fall prey to various predators as well as disease. Often, more than 40% of a mopane worm's eggs will be attacked by various parasites, and the caterpillars themselves are susceptible to infection from a virus that has a high mortality rate. The worms' main predators are various birds and humans, who rely on the caterpillars for sustenance.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 3 - Jun 15th - 21st, 2014 - On to Johannesburg, South Africa

June 15, 2014

Sunday, last day at home in Riverdale was Father's Day and a very enjoyable visit with all of the family members before saying farewell for a time.  The tender emotions of the goodbyes are a sweet and simple reflection of the love we have for one another!

Monday, June 16, 2014 --- Flight to Dallas - London
After saying goodbye to my Mother, Cody took Melanie and I to the SLC airport.  We decided to leave an hour earlier, just in case.  This proved to be worthwhile since we were in fact delayed considerably with and about our luggage.  But thanks so much to a kind and friendly counter service rep, who called Church Travel on her own cell phone, everything got straightened out and we were not charged the extra $600 for our bags!

The trip to Dallas was thankfully uneventful, just got a taste of sitting a while.  Our layover was about five hours which sort of drug on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 --- Flight London to Johannesburg
Finally about 9:00 p.m. we left Dallas for London on our overnight "red-eye" flight, a nine-hour ordeal which was uncomfortable enough to make us so grateful to finally arrive the next day just after noon.  Clearing security in London's Heathrow airport was a long drawn-out-time-consuming process with both of us having our carry-ons opened and searched and re-screened.

After a couple of hours, it seemed, we cleared and were sequestered in the International Terminal for a nine-hour layover to await our next overnight flight.  

While waiting we finally gave in to hunger and ate some fish and chips at a British airport restaurant.  We weren't too impressed, but admittedly, we were tired and a touch frustrated at being cooped up.  We got just a touch of the fresh cool outside airy breeze as we left the shuttle to the International Terminal and so wanted to stay out to enjoy some non-airplane air for a bit, but they would have none of that and moved us all along like dumb sheep.

After what was obviously a long nine-hour wait, we finally boarded our British Air flight to Johannesburg.  

Two flights down and just one more night and a long flight to go.  Hang in there sweetheart, we'll be there soon.

This airline seemed head and shoulders above American which brought us from SLC to London.  The jet was large and nice and we had two seats near the rear that allowed us to at least stand (sometimes it's really nice to be short) or get to the restroom without interfering too much with other passengers.  This dreadful night-long "red-eye" journey actually went better than the one from Dallas to London, at least it seemed so.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 --- Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa!  ♫ ♫
Elder Ben Jones, our brother-in-law, and his wife Sister Jill Jones met us at the airport.  We were so glad to see their familiar faces.

Elder Ben Jones, Sister Jill Jones, Sister Melanie Hansen
and Elder Larry Hansen

We gathered up our luggage, thankfully all of it arrived with us, and Ben drove us to our new home for the next 18 months an apartment across the street from the Mission Office.  We were greeted with a warm welcome and permitted to unpack and rest a bit.

Wednesday - Saturday
After some brief orientations and greetings from the training couples who are so very nice, the Taylor's (serving their 7th mission) and the Dummer's.  We joined up with another new couple the Thompson's who have been here one week longer than us.  They along with the mission president's wife Sister Omer took us to a welcome dinner at one of their favorite restaurants.

We met President Omer our mission president for the next two weeks on Thursday at his last Zone Leaders meeting followed by a luncheon which we and the other Sr. couples put on in his honor.

Friday I got my first taste of driving.  Left side of the road, driver sits on the front right seat, be careful and drive defensively.  Took a couple of solo trips too to get 'petrol' and practice.  Went on a brief shopping trip with the Taylor's, he had me drive, at commuting time, on a much busier six-lane road, oh my!  But we made it out and back thankfully.  Please keep praying for our safety when I drive!

Saturday we had our first day to catch up some laundry and actually got to go closer into the city with the other three couples where we did a little shopping and had a nice lunch together.  

L-R:  At Mandela Square with the Taylor's (on their 7th mission), the Hansen's,
the Thompson's (a week ahead of us), and the Dummer's.

On the way back we got to see the Johannesburg Temple and the Area offices where Elder Carl Cook and Elder Jones work and Elder Cook and Lynette live, very nice place next to the Temple.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Week 2 - Jun 8th - Jun 14th, 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014 - Saturday, June 14, 2014

Last week at MTC, Provo.  Sunday church meetings with the missionaries was a special experience.  The spirit of the whole MTC campus place is something special and can bring excitement and hope to one quickly just by associating with all of the other nearly 2,000 missionaries.

We spent most of this week learning how missions operate internally with regard to finances, housing, vehicles, referrals, materials and supplies and support.  We had excellent young teachers and trainers.  

It is really impressive to see how the Lord has inspired his work to come together in such an amazingly organized and efficient process.   All of this works together to fulfill the purpose of inviting people to come unto Him.  For those of you who haven't yet, please do so and let Him bless your life now and forever with happiness and joy that is endless and eternal.

Tuesday evening at the regular missionary devotional we were privileged to have Elder Quentin Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve speak to us and deliver a wonderful and uplifting message of direction and encouragement.

Us short people rarely get the back row, but there we are back row center!

We closed up our training on Thursday afternoon with a brief and very special testimony meeting with our District of 12 couples just as we each departed for our various destinations all around the world.  ♫ ♫ ♫

Friday, June 13, 2014 --- Our oldest son Jeremy was married at our home to his bride Lilia O'Bryant by our Bp. Adam Hall.  Jeremy and Lilia now become the 5th couple in our family joining us, our two sons and a daughter that have been married on a Friday the 13th!

Everything went very well for them, and in the process we obtained two more dear grandchildren who are so very special to us, Liza and Bryan Ortiz, Lilia's 16 and 15 year old kids.  

Saturday the 14th we held an open house in their honor at our home and enjoyed the company and visits of many people who know and love Jeremy and our family.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 1 - Jun 1st - 7th, 2014 - Start of Month 1

Sunday, June 1, 2014 - Saturday, June 7, 2014 --- Start of Month 1

Sunday, the last login to our missionary portal on the internet gave us this reminder this morning.

Elder and Sister Hansen

  You report to the MTC in Provo, UT. to begin your mission in 1 day.

South Africa Johannesburg Mission

Monday, June 2nd arrived at the MTC at Provo.

Saturday, June 7th.  We've had an amazing and busy week.  The training and the orientation to missionary work was from the "Preach My Gospel" manual.  This really brought us back to the realization that although this is our mission, it is the Lord's work and He accomplishes it through us and by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost who helps others gain a witness of the truthfulness and importance of his Gospel.  

So, long-story short, we have learned over many years about the scriptures and the doctrine and the principles, now we are set on a path to learn how to properly discover how they are to be presented to different people in different circumstances in an inspired way that will bless their lives just as the Spirit directs not according to a scripted dialogue that gets in the way of them feeling the love of God and the Savior for them as individuals.

A happy, happy week.  We love each other and are so happy to be companions here together for this time.

This is the first of two pictures of our group of about 80 Sr. Missionaries.  You'll have to search to find Elder and Sister Hansen I suppose.  Hint:  we're still short and round.  :  )

This is the second half our our group.  Last week's group of Sr's was about 40 total compared to about 80 our week.  Some weeks they have between 150-200 to train.  In the center front seated are two single sisters who are called as companions to serve together in Australia Melbourne doing records preservation.

We were all divided up into districts of about 4 couples.  We had morning and afternoon returned missionary teachers who are students here at BYU.  Our afternoon teacher here is Elder Copans standing by me.  He served in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission, so we had some good talks with him.  The couples to our left are Elder and Sister Clarkson from Essex England going to Pittsburg PA, the Phillips from Missouri going to the Independence Visitor's Center, and the Gulls from Spanish Fork going to the Oregon Portland mission.  We've become very close to them in this short weeks' time and are so happy for them too!