Actually, it is not for 1000 days. It is just that 3 years times 365 days plus June 27 through June 30, 2008 equals 1098 days, and that is way too cumbersome to convert into a blog headline. Futhermore, our release date will not be determined until May or June of 2011. Therefore, 1000 Days sounded just about right, more or less. Having noted all that, we are humbled and thrilled (Pres. Uchtdorf would refer to the feeling as "joyfully overwhelmed") about having this marvelous opportunity to serve in La Mision Mexico Veracruz.

Con amor,
Pdte. y Hna. Pete and JoElla Hansen

Friday, June 20, 2008

Final Hawaii Pictures

On our last morning we snapped this photo on the steps of the berm. The beach is behind us about 20 yards. Becca's backdoor is behind the camera about 20 yards. We are all wearing our new Red Dirt Shirts which they make on the island from rusted red volcano dirt. They also make Red Dirt Shirts there for Moab, Utah and Zion National Park. The Red Hills of Utah, you know.

I thought I was all finished taking pictures until Bec spotted this large garden spider on the neighbor's house. We were literally loaded and on the way to the airport, but I couldn't resist a final nature shot. The spider is at least as big as a silver dollar. Nothing like a good Kodak moment. Aloha Oe.>

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hawai'i and then the Mission

It only seems logical to visit Hawaii before heading out on a mission, especially because we have three grandsons there and the rent is free at Jon and Becca's house. Jane, Spencer, and Mason joined us. The first morning I went outside to study at about 6:30 a.m. Spencer was already on the beach reading his book of Mormon. This shot is taken from Bec's backyard. Their backdoor is about 40 or 50 yards from the sand where Spence is sitting.

Uncle Spencer thought this might serve as good control of his nephews, Carter and Caleb. It worked really well until high tide.
Mason is waiting for just the right set of waves.

We had a vote on which of these two photos of Kendall to publish.
It was a tie, so you get to see them both.

Monk Seal

Brennan is Jon's nephew. He is the one kneeling in the back behind the monk seal. Monk seals are endangered species and Brennan is too close, thereby committing a federal offense. This photo stands as evidence.
I won't tell you how close the photographer got to take this facial photo of the monk seal.

Missile Launch

This Navy Leer Jet is loaded with Navy brass who are landing on base to witness the launch which we learned about after it happened.
We were on the beach near Major's Bay on Friday Morning, the 13th. Much to our surprise a white streak shot through the sky. It was a missile being launched into space. The base where Jon serves is called the Pacific Missile Range Facility. They are experimenting with various types of missiles and warheads. Sometimes a Navy vessel will be off shore a few hundred miles and will "fire" at the island. Other times base personnel "fire" in the general direction of ships. The drill is to track and destroy the missiles. Some experiments are conducted during the day and others are at night. Drills are conducted in both the endo and exo-atmospheres. This particular drill was the first time that two missiles were launched nearly simultaneosly. The task was to track both at once. This picture shows the second missile in flight right before the first stage dropped off and the "jet trail" of the first missile. The size of the missile is about 20 feet long at launch. After stage deployment, the new missiles are about 3-4 feet long. They travel at over 20,000 miles per hour and can be guided to hit a very specific target. Go Navy!
This Naval destroyer was deployed out of Pearl Harbor, apparently to do more local tracking of the missles.

Surprise Luau!

Becca and Jon surprised us with a luau on Friday night. It was amazing. They reserved a party area on the edge of Mayor's Bay, a private beach on the Naval base, about a mile upbeach from Becca's house. The setting is magnificent. We were presented with leis. The flowers all grow in or near Becca's yard. The red lei is plumeria and is mildly fragrant. The white/yellow one is also plumeria and is intoxicatingly fragant. Many members of the Kekaha Ward attended. They are like family. Several greeted us with kisses as they said, "Welcome home." The food was outstanding. Becca's next door neighbor made kahlua pig, which is my favorite. Jon barbecued teriyaki chicken. There were many salads and at least a million desserts. Members of the ward played ukuleles as all sang along. Some danced hula numbers. It was quite a wonderful gathering which went into the night. We ate too much. Great fun. At the end of the evening they asked Mom and I to stand with the performers. They all sang to us "Aloha Oe." Very beautiful, very emotional.
Kendall is having a discussion with one of the members of the ward. This blonde-haired, blue-eyed little guy is quite a hit with the locals.
This view of the island called Ni'ihau is taken from the site of the luau. It also represents a fairly typical sunset from Becca's backyard.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What if it would have been closed?

These are Los Cinco de Veracruz.
Clockwise from the tall guy they are Elder Brown, Elder Judd, Elder Collins, Elder Solesbee, and Elder Brooks. This is the story:

Our first Tuesday night at the MTC we stumbled across five of our young men who are headed to Veracruz. They are outstanding young men. It was highly emotional to meet them. We all embraced and enjoyed some time together that evening. We saw them often after that but did not seek them out until Saturday morning.

Friday at about noon I felt a serious sore throat. By supper time my chest was beginning to fill. I knew what was coming--a two to three week cold. I had no time for this. We had another full week of MTC language work. That was our purpose in taking this vacation time and going to the MTC. A week from that day I we were scheduled to be in the office of Elder Bednar for a setting apart. Clearly, we needed to be on top of our game for that day. Friday evening, Mom received an impression which she expressed the next morning after I told her about mine. Mine was that we needed to hustle over to the cafeteria, find our Faithful Five (and they really are something unique) and ask them to give me a blessing. Her impression was similar but included the warm and fuzzy mission president's wife thought that "It sure would be a neat thing for those young elders to lay their hands on the head of their president."

We found the elders in the cafeteria. I told them what was going on. They told us where their classroom was. We met them there shortly after 9 a.m. My lungs were now to the point that it pushed me really hard to climb the five flights of stairs to their classroom. After I caught my breath we entered the room. The teacher turned the time to me. I had the privilege of teaching the elders how to perform the anointing and did so in Spanish. I wrote the words of the "non-set prayer" on the blackboard and had them all read the words aloud. Then, I did the same thing with the opening words for the sealing of the anointing and introduction of the lesson.

I asked Elder Solesbee of Anaheim to anoint me. Elder Collins of SLC sealed it and blessed me to heal. All the other missionaries, Elder Brown and Elder Brooks from Texas and Elder Judd from Mesa (including one of their district who is from Tonga and is headed to El Salvador--his Spanish is better than is his English) joined in the circle. It was wonderful.

That afternoon I felt good enough to go to a soccer match. (The MTC Staff is having a tournament and our tutors have a team--they won 2-0.) By Sunday I was 98%. Only a residual "tos" (light cough) remains.

The priesthood--given us of the Restoration, all made possible because of the Atonement.
What a Church!

These are photos of the MTC Honeymoon Hotel. Our room is typical of those inhabited for a week at a time by senior missionaries. Nice digs, huh? Double bed, lumpy mattress, foam pillows (I loathe foam pillows--hope they have down-filled in Mexico. Oh wait! Mom shipped our pillows to Veracruz. Excelente!), bathroom built for one which we are not, room for a few dozen white shirts.

I mentioned to the ladies in the Missionary Travel Office that we would wait to hear for a message from them in our little Love Nest. . . Much blushing on their parts.

MTC Tutors

Mom and I loved Hermana Cynthia Penaflor. The "n" has a tilda over it so her name is pronounced "pen-ya-flor" which translates "rock flower." She is a native of Peru who graduated from Provo High a few years ago. As we talked we were delighted to discover that she served her mission in Chicago South and that Mom's brother, Al Haines was her mission president. So, we grabbed the cell phone and called Pres. Haines on the spot. It was exciting for us to see the love in her eyes for her mission president. Because of some struggles she was having, it was my distinct honor to give her a priesthood blessing.
All of our tutors were our favorites including Fernando Lagunes and Benjamin Vera. Fernando is a native of Veracruz. His father has been a bishop, stake president, and mission president in Merida, Mexico. He is a CES coordinator in Xalapa, the capital of the state of Veracruz.

His grandfather was the first president of the Veracruz Temple and is currently a stake patriarch. The grandfather joined the Church in 1968. One morning he was driving his bread truck to make deliveries to various markets. He saw two young men walking along the street. He gave them a ride and asked them who they were. They said that they were teachers for a church and were on the way to visit a family. He asked when they would come to his house and teach him. They agreed to come the next Saturday morning. The family was all in bed when they arrived. Fernando's grandfather was so excited by what he was hearing that he got them all out of bed to listen. All were baptized. Fernand0 served his mission in Mexico City. He has invited us to visit the family panaderia or breadstore. We will be there for sure.

Benjamin was one of my first two telephone tutors and we spent time together at the MTC as well. His family lives in the south of the Veracruz Mission in a large seaport where there is much oil exploration and shipping. The city is Coatzacoalcos. He also served a mission in Mexico. He is a fine young man with a humble spirit. One of his MTC assignments is to go to SLC on a frequent basis and tutor Elder Holland in Spanish.

One of the tasks I had was to practice Spanish by teaching doctrine to the tutors. Here, I am teaching them from the scriptures and from chapter four of "Preach My Gospel" on the Holy Spirit of Promise.

You can see a volunteer named Maribel. She is a native of Merida, Mexico, in the Yucatan. When she was 8 years old, missionaries passed by her home and gave her a Book of Mormon. She began to read it and loved it. Her parents allowed her to be baptized at age 8 1/2. She went to church all alone for years. When she was 15, they allowed her to go to the Church school in Mexico City. She was married in the temple and is now a student at BYU with her husband.

Rodrigo Villardo is the other "student." He has been my main tutor since early in March. He is a remarkable young man. He and his family joined the Church in Mexico City when he was 10, I think. He attended the Church School there. He served a mission in McAllen Texas, Spanish-speaking. (His Spanish is pretty good . . . great accent.) He married a beautiful girl from Montana who is fluent in Spanish. They are both BYU students. His younger brother serves a mission now in Mexico.

It is a great experience to open the scriptures with these young people and discuss doctrine for an hour or so. It helps my Spanish and the Spirit is always there. Both Mom and I are very grateful that the Brethren have authorized tutoring, both in "Preach My Gospel" and in language. Our teachers are very dedicated to missionary work.

Mom worked harder than I did, as always, and it really paid off.

As we left Utah driving across the Salt Flats headed to Cailfornia, she just started speaking Spanish at about 90% accuracy! Que bueno!!!

This picture was taken at a little patio area just outside our Love Nest.