My Experiences as an English Teacher and Missionary in Mongolia Ulaanbaatar (Jan 2016 – Jul 2017)

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Sister Jennifer Hansen
Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission
Post office box - 242
Ulaanbaatar post office - 49
Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, 13381

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas = Skype

[From Jennifer's parents]
After months of buildup, Christmas finally came this year, and culminated in the Skype call with our missionary.

Trans-world family reunion over Skype.
Some tidbits from the Skype call:
- 1 hour
- The cold doesn't bother her, much.
- She misses American food
- She plays the piano every week in sacrament meeting

Merry Christmas from ninus 30 degrees

Holiday Greetings from her English Class

Kirby, Lichtenberg, Me

Me & Sister Mason (companion)

Nomin is a good hugger

The MTC gang back together

Christmas advent calendar from the Kerrybrook ward with pictures of
Christ and a message from ward members behind each day!. 

Elder Cowles family sent a bunch of t-shirts from a soccer tournament which were well received.

My MTC companion and good friend

Jennifer send a few videos to the family, including this one featuring Erdenbayer (from Sep 19):

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sheep Head Round 3

Well, Christmas is coming!! Which means Skype is coming!!! I'm so excited!

These 2 girls showed up at my English class, and were so cute and awesome and said I was the first foreigner they had ever spoken with!!! 

This week we had zone conference, and it was so awesome. I cannot describe to you the love, appreciation, and respect I have for the Harpers. I learn so much just from watching them work. Sister Harper always knows exactly what needs to be said, and gives the most moving and genuine talks, I am so grateful for my mission president!!

Because we can't congregate as a mission, at zone conference we did a little white elephant gift exchange for our Christmas party, and it was so fun!!! I am so grateful that our mission is so small, because we are all such good friends, and I really have grown to love each of these missionaries so much. Some of these people have become my very best friends.

B had her baptismal interview this week, and is all set and ready for her baptism on Friday!! We are so excited! It was also her birthday on Sunday, and we announced her baptism in church and she is just so cute and excited. I love her.

B's birthday party

We had a devotional Sunday night put on by Zion, our all-church-members choir on Mongolian's Got Talent!!! It was awesome! They bore their testimonies, then we watched a little movie about who they are and why they do what they do, and we got to watch their performances, and they sang for us! It was so fun. You may be able to find them on YouTube. Maybe.... it's probably all in Mongolian, so good luck.

I had a very significant experience this week regarding love and forgiveness. It was an incredible opportunity for me to see my growth on my mission, and my confidence in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Zone conference also helped me a lot with this, and President Harper shared a quote from David O McKay about finding joy in self-conquest and not letting our emotions control us. Satan wants us to believe that there is no growth, no progression, and no change. But this is false. I am living proof of that. I have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, and by His atonement.

I love being a missionary! I love this work! I am so excited to speak with you all on Monday :) Have a very Merry Christmas!

Sister Hansen

Also, my companion told me this morning that I've started sleep talking in Mongolian.

Sheep head round 3 (3rd time eating it)
Question from Mom: "Ugh. That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen! How do you do it?"
Answer: "with a knife."

Question: "Is it good?"
Answer:"Some parts of it. I actually really enjoy the tongue. The jaw is pretty chewy"

Question: "You're kidding, right?"
Answer: "Not kidding. It's pretty good."

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Monday, December 12, 2016

1 pair of camel leggings is warmer than 3 pairs of normal ones

TRANSFERS! Sister Mason and I will be staying in Jargalant! I am happy. I love Jargalant, and I am so excited to see B get baptized next week.
O and G had a slip up with the Word of Wisdom recently, so we're going to wait a little longer to get them baptized, and make sure their faith and desire is ready. But don't worry. They'll get baptized this transfer.
So other transfer updates: my district stayed the same- so I still have Elder Lamb and Moulder in Jargalant, and Khosbaatar and Batkhuyag in Khovd, for now. We have another mini transfer in 3 weeks with 5 new Mongolians coming, so there will be more changes.
Sister Kofoed went to Erdenet!!!!! I am so excited for her to serve in the countryside, but I'm also gonna miss her a ton! We got super close this last transfer because we went on exchanges so often, and she'll probably finish her mission out there, because she only has 2 transfers left!

Last time teaching with Sister Kofoed

Elders Fillmore and Ramos, and Sisters Hawkins and Rue all flew back to America. Elder Browning is still hanging out in Mongolia for a week with his dad and brother here, and Sister Tao will be in Cambodia for 2 weeks with her family, then go to America. Elder Rodriguez is the new AP.
Sister Bottorff and Guild are finishing training the 2 new American sisters, Shreeve and Tillary.
Whew. Ok, got that out of the way.

So, English is so fun at the BZ. Mendjargal has come a few times, and it is always so fun to see him! He's getting ready to go on a mission!!!! Wow. The kid that Sister Gardiner and I taught every lesson- in like 3 weeks mind you- and saw baptized, is now preparing to be a missionary!! It's so amazing. He also met Nomin at English and they became friends and are gonna go to mission prep together! Dang. It's all too good.

Haha speaking of Nomin, I did a really mean thing. I had told her before hand that I most likely will be staying in Jargalant until February, so she didn't need to worry. Then when transfers came out (which also happened to be her birthday) I called her and told her I was going to Erdenet with Sister Kofoed. She started crying. I was holding the phone away from my face so she wouldn't hear me laughing. I let it sit for just a minute, then told her I was kidding and am really staying. I guess it wasn't the nicest birthday present hahaha.

They smiled until we got the camera out.

Things always change at transfers, and now Sister Mason is teaching English on Mondays, and it's super complicated and there's a lot of other companion switches, but long story short, I ended up with Sister Lichtenberg all day yesterday!!! It was SO FUN! We kind of just relived our transfer together in one day, and it was just so good to be back together. We'll get to work together next Monday as well, then she might get switched at the mini-transfer, then we'll have to figure something else out again, but it was still awesome.

Also, 1 pair of camel leggings is warmer than 3 pairs of normal ones. Just thought you should know. I put that theory to the test yesterday and didn't wear the camel wool. BAD DECISION. Lesson learned. Always wear the camel wool.
Stay warm out there!

Sister Hansen

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I've never climbed that icy mountain so fast

Do remember several weeks ago that woman with the little twins that we met on the road and we were super excited about teaching? Well, we met with her a few times, but she was not super into it and not keeping any commitments and I didn't really see her progressing, then she stopped answering our calls, so we kind of just set her record to the side.

Me, Nomin, Lichtenberg

Then last Saturday night, Nomin had a dream that we were in Byambatsetsegs house again teaching a lesson. Then Sunday she couldn't stop thinking about her. Then Monday, while going home, she wasn't paying attention and missed her bus stop, and when she got off at the next one, guess who she ran into on the street? Yes, Byambatsetseg. She talked to her for a bit and asked if she would like to meet with us again, and she said she would. So, the very next day, we went to her house, and she opened up about worries she has for her 17 year old daughter, and how she wants to have a better relationship with her and she wants her to have a better life and learn English and all this stuff that the gospel of Jesus Christ can help with. So we told her just that. She seemed so much more prepared and open the second time around. We told her if she wants this for her daughter, she needs to set the example and start living the way she wants her daughter to be. We invited her to come to church again on Sunday. She said she would.

My friend that's getting baptized Dec 23rd

So then Saturday comes, and I call to remind her of church tomorrow, and she was nervous about bringing her babies out in the cold, and said if it was warm enough she would come. I had such a strong feeling about her coming to church- I wanted her there so bad.

Sunday morning- it's freezing. So cold. We get to the church early to try to come up with a plan, maybe we can find somebody with a car that can go pick her up, just anything. Then Nomin comes, and I'm worried that it's not going to happen today. But I just have a huge urge to go to her house. It's almost 11:30, church starts at 12. I asked the Elders to find someone to press the button on the piano, we grabbed Nomin, jumped in a taxi and I've never climbed that icy mountain so fast. I think Byambatsetseg was a little surprised when we showed up at her ger, and it took quite a bit of convincing, but we finally got one of her twins layered up and ready to go to church- the other baby stayed home with dad.

Horses in the street

We got to church 20 minutes late- missed the sacrament, but I felt so right, and so good about Bymbatsetseg being there. She listened so closely to the testimonies born in sacrament meeting. I think she really loved seeing kids and families together at church. It also made my heart so happy when we got there and Oyun and Gompil were already sitting and listening in sacrament meeting!!
Then the principles class was on eternal families- so perfect. Bymbatsetseg was so focus and involved in the lesson. I really believe that she felt the spirit at church, and am so grateful that we followed the promptings of the spirit to go pick her up and bring her to church. We have a follow up appointment on Wednesday.

This is the type of bus that ran over Sister Nelson

Last Sunday, in a coordination meeting with our ward mission leader, we were having a bit of an argument on the topic of ward missionaries, and my ward mission leader said to me "you should never teach a lesson without a Mongolian because your Mongolian is good, but not good enough." and it kind of tore me apart, because in the moment, I believed him. I was super pissed that he said that to me, but then I let that get into my head, that my language is good, but still not REALLY good. Then I was pretty upset the rest of the day. The next day during comp study I was talking to Sister Mason about this, and she had no idea what had happened because the whole meeting was in Mongolian. Then she said something like "Well, he told you that in Mongolian, and you understood him perfectly..... the irony" then I just felt better. Yes, my Mongolian is not perfect- and it never will be- because I'm American. But I have been so blessed with the gift of tongues, and I can teach the gospel with power and authority. That is why I'm here- to help bring people closer to Christ, and my language ability right now is sufficient for the Lord's needs.

We added Korean Walmart lights to our tree! Mason's mom send a huge package of presents.

Also, high five to myself for directing the Elders through a ger district over the phone. See, I can do work.

Also, Sister Tao is finishing her mission this week, so she came back to Jargalant to say goodbye to all her people from when she served here, and she happened to be on a split with Lichtenberg for the day, so we spent the day all 4 of us plus Nomin going around visiting all our people!! It was so fun!!

Lichtenberg, Tao, ?,?, Me, Mason

Christmas is coming! Keep the spirit of service and love in your hearts! Have a great week!
Sister Hansen

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving and Urine


Thanksgiving Pot Luck (Sister Nelson recovering in pink on the right)

I am grateful for...
MY PARENTS- who were married in the temple and have raised me to love the gospel of Jesus Christ, be obedient and righteous, but also have a lot of fun and enjoy life and all the good things.
MY GRANDPARENTS- who have never stopped sending love and support through whatever phase of life I am in, and set beautiful examples of happy, faithful lives.
THE HOGANS- who actually are just my second family. They taught me what a bell pepper is for crying out loud. May the Hogan-Hansen-Highway be an everlasting symbol of our friendship, and really late night nertz games.
KAYLENE HARRIS- who out of the kindness of her heart extended her work hours to teach me piano lessons. Kaylene is not only the best piano teacher in the world, but also one of my dearest friends, and if not for her, I would not have had as many amazing opportunities to serve.
THE BROS- who made my college experience amazing. Let's not count all the questionable decisions that have been made, and just say that we've had a lot of fun, and I'm really grateful that we always (usually) have each others' backs.
LOGAN YSA 32nd WARD BISHOPRIC- who were basically my 3 dads at USU. For always caring about my life and leading our ward with love and by the spirit.
PRESIDENT and SISTER HARPER- who are the most perfect example of a unified, loving, eternal companionship, and work so hard to lead this mission and move he work forward in Mongolia.
MY MISSION- there is no way I can tack down one thing I am most grateful for on my mission. My entire life has been changed. I've met some of my very best friends. I've learned about the Atonement and Plan of Salvation in such a way that I see my life and others' through totally new eyes.
HEAVENLY FATHER and JESUS CHRIST- who love us SO MUCH and have given me so many blessings and opportunities that I don't deserve.

And a lot of other things.

Tuesday split with Sister Kofoed (left) and Nomin?

Anyways, a little bit about this week, Sister Nelson is doing well- she is currently on crutches for a while, but is in good spirits and will be walking again soon.

Reunited with one of my favorite companions. Me, Lichtenberg, Jensen, Bollwinkel

Interesting cultural experience: I thought that after 8 months I had pretty much experienced all the normal Mongolian things.... then the other day meeting with a less active family, their little kid had to pee, so his dad held up a little cup for him to do his thing (this is normal). What took me by surprise was when the dad drank it. I was a little bit shocked for a minute. He saw that on my face and chucked and said it's healthy. Um, I'm pretty sure there's a reason why our body gets rid of that stuff. I talked to Elder Moulder about it later if that was a Mongolian thing or if this family is just weird, and he said he has seen it before. So, yeah, gross.

Look what happens when your companion (Sister Mason) is an art major!

"O" and  "G" are doing well! "O" has been coming to my English classes! We told her that Dec 23 is Joseph Smith's birthday, and she got super pumped for her baptism. It's going to be a great day!

Teaching with Sister Kofoed

Have an awesome week. Listen to some classic Christmas carols for me!

Sister Hansen

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

I am grateful for traffic laws

You know those days where everything just flows perfectly and all goes exactly as planned?
Yeah, me neither. Like the time I went on a split with Sister Nelson and she got ran over by a bus.

On splits with Sister Nelson (just before she got ran over by a bus)

We had just come from teaching a great lesson with my investigator "B", and were going out to meet the bus to head back to the BZ for adult session of stake conference with Nomin. Sister Nelson and I both slipped on the ice at the same time, but I regained my footing, and Sister Nelson went all the way down and the back tires of the bus ran over both of her legs. She was screaming, I immediately called President Harper, and Nomin dragged her out of the road before she got plowed over by another car, then she called an ambulance. It was a miracle that Nomin was with us, because in the adrenaline of the moment, I could not understand any Mongolian that was being spoken to me, and she saved the day, and Sister Nelson's life. There was a lot of traffic, and we were still in Jargalant, which is a pretty far drive from the BZ, so I knew it would take President and Doctor Sutphin a long time to get there, and it was really cold. I wrapped my scarf around Sister Nelson's legs and Nomin even gave up her coat so she wouldn't have to sit on the ice.

I was never grateful for traffic laws and medical care in America, but please do not take our blessings for granted. We sat out in the freezing cold for over a half hour, not knowing if both of Sister Nelson's legs were broken or not, waiting for the ambulance to come, because in Mongolia, it doesn't matter if the sirens are running or not- nobody moves, and you are stuck in traffic just like everyone else. Once they finally arrived, it took nearly another hour to get to the hospital- sirens running the whole ride there, don't ask me why, it didn't make any difference.

In the Ambulance with Sister Nelson

The hospital was so cold! All the patients and people there were still wearing their snow coats and hats inside. It was a mess. Nomin was running around like a mad woman talking to police men, doctors, and I was trying my best to translate for President, Sister Harper and Doctor Sutphin who met us at the hospital shortly after.

Now let me talk about the miracles. We received the x-rays, and neither of Sister Nelson's legs were broken. They had been severely crushed and bruised, and her right shin bone has been bent and dented a little bit, but that was the extent of the damage. The girl got run over by a freaking bus and didn't break a bone. How? Because Heavenly Father watches out for and protects His missionaries, that's how. We can be so grateful that it was only her legs and not her head, and after a few days of rest she can return to her missionary service.

I am grateful for traffic laws and obedient citizens that clear way for ambulances. I am grateful for warm hospitals. I am grateful for a loving mission President and wife who care for us as their own children. I am grateful to be serving a mission so I could learn to be grateful for all these things.

Sister Mason crossing an icy road
Teaching English in the BZ in amazing. Everybody that is there is there because they want to learn English. I have already made connections with several students, and have even met a boy in 11th grade who wants to go to USU! So cool!!


Sister Hansen

Right after I melted my coat on a hot stove. Sister White has fixed it since then, so we're good.

When its too cold for my favorite boots, I wear these Reindeer Boots. It was -30 degrees F this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The person on top of this mountain needs to feel God's love

Mongolia mission- every day an adventure, just to keep you on your toes. After this week, I think there is just too much happy in my life for my heart to hold. The happy is just too big. Too much happy.

Sister Mason & I

 First, one of our great investigators "O" finally said she wants to be baptized! She's been progressing and learning really well, but has been a little on the fence about baptism, then when we had an awesome lesson about prayer and obedience, she said she really wants to have the gift of the Holy Ghost and is excited to be baptized!!!! Yes! Such a wonderful feeling. Now, just to get her brother, "G" :) He is also awesome, doing well, so we're all praying and pulling for him! Their date is December 23, which means they will get the gift of the Holy Ghost on Christmas!! What a great day!

How I keep my face warm.

I also had a cool experience where we were in a little store getting a snack, and the lady at the cash register noticed we were speaking Mongolian, and asked if I could help her translate something. It was like, a legal document about some Al-Anon Family Group thing in Texas, about like their democratic policies and stuff, and I hardly understood the thing in English.... but I tried my best and I think she got kind of the gist of what it was saying! It wasn't perfect, but a fun service opportunity and great language practice haha.

First time tasting Skittles

Another beautiful experience that happened yesterday was when we were going to visit a lady "Oy" who's ger is way up on a mountain. It was snowing pretty hard and I was having a hard time breathing through my face mask. I had  fleeting thought of "Why are you climbing this mountain in a blizzard?" and in less than I second my mind responded with "Of course I'm going to climb this mountain in a blizzard because the person that lives on top of this mountain needs to feel God's love gej baihgui uu." "Oy" cannot walk and has a mentally disabled daughter. They never leave their ger. As we were visiting with them she was talking about how she use to be a great athlete and played volleyball and was a swimmer, and now she has 2 useless legs and can't get her own water. As I listened to her speak, I once again felt an overwhelming gratitude for the Great Plan of Happiness. I felt a lot of love pour out as I testified to her of the gift of resurrection, and how she and her daughter will both have perfect bodies and minds, and faith in Jesus Christ brings hope in the future.

The lady that owns our apartment came over and said, "I'm going to make your windows warm" 
Good, because we could feel the cold air coming through them! Hahaha then we watched as she stuck newspaper in the seams and then taped it up :) Well, it's helped! :)

As my mission and language progresses, and I have less "THAT was the gift of tongues" moments, I have started to recognize them more as "gift of love" moments. Being able to feel Heavenly Father's love for someone else is a beautiful thing. Then she asked if we could bring a hymn book next time we visited so we could sing together. I don't know why I didn't think of that before!!!! :)

I love my mission! I love being a missionary. I love being a missionary in Mongolia. Do you understand? Good. Love you!

Sister Hansen

Monday, November 7, 2016

Everything is just, so good.

Everything is just, so good.

Me an Sister Mason (my greenie)

I was pretty nervous about training at the beginning, but it's been so fun. My biggest worry was the language, because up until this point I've always had a companion older than me in the mission, so I could always depend on them to understand. I was afraid I wouldn't understand a lot, but living obediently and worthily of the gift of tongues has blessed me immensely. I have not stressed or worried about the language at all, and everything is just going very well.

Sister Mason

It was a really cool experience to go to Zaison hill with my new companion, because I haven't been there since I first came to Mongolia nearly 8 months ago. When I stood at that memorial the first time, I was a totally different person than I am now- a totally different missionary. It was really awesome to see how far I've come, how the Lord has led my life, and to rededicate myself to the last half of my mission. We can never be stagnant, and must always be learning and moving forward. What do the next 8 months have in store?

Pres Harper, me, Sister Harper

So English stuff has just gotten a little crazy, and I teach on Mondays and Wednesdays, and my companion teaches all day on Tuesdays and one Thursday each month. So Sister Kofoed is pretty much my half-companion, and it's great!! I call it- Kofoedtei Tuesdays! (tei=with)

Sister Kofoed

Home made Pizza

I also just want to talk a little bit about my friend Nomin. This girl has just been my saving grace and best friend since serving in Jargalant. She has helped me so much, and will soon be embarking on her own mission! She will definitely be somebody that I will be friends with for the rest of my life, and will miss her so much. I hope you all have the opportunity to meet her someday, as well as many other wonderful people I have met and learned to love while being here in Mongolia.

Time to break out the pollution masks!

Have a great week! Be righteous!
Sister Hansen

Decorating with Snowflakes!