01 December 2013

HANNAH IS TRANSFERRED

No, Hannah has not dropped off the face of the earth.  There is another reason as to why there have not been blog posts since September. And it is a very good reason, too. Very good.  (I'm assuming you're willing to just take my word on that.)

Although Hannah hasn't dropped off the face of the earth, she has been transferred!  After serving for six months in the Imperial Oaks ward, Hannah is now serving in a trio in nearby Montgomery, Texas.  She had grown to love the people in Imperial Oaks, her investigators, and her companions so much that it was absolutely gut-wrenching for her to leave.  She said that it was just as bad as leaving home in the first place (maybe even a little worse).  She was enriched and changed in positive ways by her relationships with these people.  Her family is so grateful for all who loved Hannah and blessed her life so richly while she was in Spring.  If you live in Montgomery, Texas, you have a hard act to follow.  But we have the utmost confidence in your ability to rise to the occasion and work alongside Hannah and the other missionaries to carry out the work of salvation.  As to anyone who was mean to Hannah or her companions while she was her last area, well, I know SHE has already forgiven you (I, on the other hand, will have to get back to you.)

Actually, one of the reasons I've been negligent in updating this blog was because I didn't have any funny stories from Hannah to share.  Let me rephrase that - I didn't have any funny stories from Hannah that I could share.  But I've got one now!  Just before she left Imperial Oaks, she and her companions visited an investigator one morning to drop off something in preparation for their appointment later that evening.  A plumber was working in the kitchen.  Not to let an opportunity to share the gospel (especially to a captive audience) pass by, Hannah introduced herself and her companions, explained what missionaries do, and left the plumber with a contact card.  That evening when Hannah returned, she was delighted to discover that the plumber had left his phone number and instructions with the investigator to "give it to the tall one."  The sisters were thrilled to have a random contact end up being so interested.  He was interested, all right.  The tip off was when he identified himself on the phone as "the good looking guy she met that morning."  


Hannah has had some deeply personal, sacred experiences while serving as a missionary.  It is not appropriate for me to relate them here.  Suffice it to say that the Lord has literally led her by the hand on several occasions and she has been His instrument in the work of salvation.  We are inspired by her willingness to be directed by the Spirit.

Although this new assignment to Montgomery will present new challenges, and she is still missing terribly those she loves in the Imperial Oaks area (and at home), Hannah assured us in a recent letter that serving as a full time missionary is exactly where she wants to be.







08 September 2013

BRING IT ON!

Thanks to Hannah’s Aunt Marcy and Uncle Doug, she is equipped to handle the cockroaches in her apartment (which, in the wicked tradition of her father when a missionary, she names after Book of Mormon characters). 

BRING IT ON - SERVICE

Hannah may want to take her protective gear with her to service opportunities.  She has discovered that service is a big part of what missionaries do.

Recent service experiences:
  • Remove toilet paper from a big tree*
  • Remove a big tree from a walkway*
  • House cleaning, including toilet bowls**
  • De-cobweb a horse stall***


*While wearing a skirt
**Involved dangerous chemicals and wearing a skirt
***Hannah reports that the horse stall had never been de-cobwebbed since its construction 80 years ago.  She estimated that it was home to half the spider population of Texas.  You know those packages of fake spiderwebs you can buy this time of year?  Hannah said that if someone were to buy like 50 packages of those and just go crazy in the horse stall it would look exactly like what the horse stall actually looked like (only with REAL spiderwebs).  Upon completion of the task, two hours later, Hannah blew her nose and watched in horror as SPIDERWEBS came out.  True story.  Also, she was wearing a skirt.

By taking advantage of these opportunities to serve others, Hannah has been reminded of an important principle: When you are in the service of your fellow beings – you often get jobs that no one else wanted to do, and for good reason.

BRING IT ON – BAPTISMS

A big first:  An investigator has committed to a baptism date of Sept. 21st!  Hannah and Sister Harrison are attempting to get date commitments from two other investigators as well.  Hannah has requested that we remember her investigators in our prayers.

BRING IT ON – SIX MORE WEEKS IN IMPERIAL OAKS

When Hannah received word that neither her nor Sister Harrison were being transferred, she saw her extended time there as a second chance, as if God were saying, ‘Here’s six more weeks, show me what you can do with it.’  But Hannah now realizes that this is not the case.  She writes, “God is actually saying, ‘Here’s six more weeks, this time give the work to me and I’ll show you what I can do with it!”  I’m excited to learn of some of the miracles sure to take place over the next six weeks.

Speaking of miracles, Hannah and Sister Harrison received two separate rides when they were desperately needed.  Thank you to those who listened to the Spirit and went to the right place at the right time (and offered them a ride).  Isn’t it amazing how the smallest act of kindness can be a miracle to someone else?  Makes you want to be a little nicer today, doesn’t it!

BRING IT ON. . .AND ON. . .AND ON. . .AND ON. . .

In the last journal entry I received, Hannah closed with, “I continue on.”  It seemed to me that this was written almost apologetically, as if “continuing on” was offered in lieu of something truly valuable.  But as I’ve pondered the meaning of this phrase, I realized that I would be wise to adopt it as a personal mantra.  How can I face obstacles, disappointments, and heartaches? Continue on.  How do I resist the temptation to rest a while on the laurels of past success and accomplishment?  Continue on.  Feelings of hopelessness and despair?  Continue on.  Just plain TIRED?  Continue on.

What Hannah is offering by continuing on is no less than what the Lord asks of each of us.   And what a glorious reward our offering is exchanged for:

. . .and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.  (1 Nephi 13:37)

Continue on, beautiful Hannah.








21 August 2013

HANNAH HAS A CELEBRITY ENCOUNTER!

On their way to appointments, Hannah and Sister Harrison often pass by a certain house, memorable only because of the large, angry, barking dog that harasses the missionaries from the front lawn EVERY TIME they go by.
Last week, the Sisters saw a woman walking what appeared to be the aforementioned large, angry, barking dog.  Hannah, emboldened by nearly three months of missionary service (she’s chased down CARS, remember), approached the woman to ask her if this was indeed the same large, angry, barking dog that always barked angrily at the missionaries.  The woman confirmed that this was indeed the same dog.  What the woman said next, however, revealed that the missionaries weren’t talking to just any woman and her dog on the street, but were in the presence of a celebrity.  A celebrity famous enough to get a special invitation to the White House to meet the President!  No, not the woman – the dog!  According to the woman, this was THE dog who led the military strike team responsible for the capture and subsequent death of Osama Bin Laden. 
 (We did some independent research and found that the team was indeed accompanied by one canine matching the breed and description of the dog Hannah “met.”)  

Watch the trailer (courtesy Hannah’s brother, Elijah) for the upcoming movie:

video




 Now, when Hannah and Sister Harrison pass by the dog’s house and the dog barks at them, she realizes it is not just a large, angry, barking dog, but a large, angry, terrorist-killing-American-hero barking dog.  Somehow, it’s not any less disconcerting.

Some other highlights:
God has been handing Hannah and Sister Harrison new investigators.  For example, they were approached on the street by a gentleman who asked them who they were and what they were doing.  Hannah explained that they were missionaries and that they were sharing a message about God.  He responded, “Would it be okay if you told me the message?  Could I come to your church?”  (YES to both!)

Hannah has gained enough experience through service that if she decides not to return to BYU, she can start up her own lawn mowing business.

Hannah sent a drawing of her attempt to mind-meld with the cockroaches in her apartment in the hope that she could convince them to leave.  Evidently you have to be Vulcan for it to work.

Hannah loves the people in Spring dearly.  I know that they love her, too.  Transfer Day is August 28th.  I’ll keep you posted.


04 August 2013

STALKER!

It began with the hairs on the back of her neck rising, followed by the distinct feeling that she was being watched.  Next, out of the corner of her eye, she sees movement.  A suspicion that she is being followed enters her mind.  She speeds up.  To her horror, they speed up.  What would YOU do?  Start running?  Turn around and confront them?  (Me:  Pretend to take a cell phone call.)  What would YOU do if someone chased after your car, waving their arms, urging you to stop? (Floor it)  What if they were waiting outside your apartment when you came home at night?  What if they knocked at your door?  (Keep the lights off and hope they go away).  What if the stalker (or were there two?) shows up at your place of employment? (Call the cops.)    


In her recent letter, Hannah expressed the realization that being a missionary is a lot like being a stalker - you try to get strangers to divulge personal information, such as their phone number.  When they don’t return your calls, you drop in on them at unexpected times or wait for them at places they visit.  You ask their neighbors about them.  And, if a potential investigator that you’ve been trying to contact happens to drive by (of course you have memorized the make, model, and color of their vehicle), you run after them and try to flag them down.  Although the police haven’t been called YET, people have responded to Hannah and her companion in the other ways listed above.  On the bright side, after this stalker training, when Hannah gets home she can get a job at one of those mall kiosks that sell phone contracts or mineral cosmetics. (I’m serious.  Read the first few lines of this post again – they describe my shopping experiences exactly.)

Hannah has already grown to love her companion, Sister Harrison.  Isn’t it wonderful how two strangers can successfully work together so quickly when united in a righteous purpose!  I’m sure this is due, in large part, to the fact that Hannah and Sister Harrison recognized early on that, despite many differences, they had something in common upon which they could build:  They both shared a knowledge of, and a love for – Star Trek!  (Okay, also the Gospel, the Savior, the people of Texas, etc. etc.).  But if you’ve ever seen the episode "Darmok," you know what I mean about Star Trek.  

    

Hannah says that she has been richly blessed these past weeks.  She and Sister Harrison have two new investigators, they have a full schedule of service and teaching every day, and her health has been excellent.  She is especially grateful for receiving direct and obvious answers to her prayers, and for a greater sense of peace and calm.  Hannah was particularly touched by a prayer offered on their behalf by an investigator they have been visiting regularly. The investigator prayed almost exclusively for the sisters’ well-being, and added, “Thank you for letting me know how much you, God, love me by sending me these sisters.”  Hannah wrote, “It’s so easy to forget, but God doesn’t just share His Gospel through us, He also shares His love.”  Thanks for the insight, Hannah.  I’m determined to do more to help others feel God’s love for them through my actions.  (Anyone have a suggestion as how to tell someone to clean up their mess (again) in a way that communicates both the urgency of the request and also God’s love for them?) 

Lastly, Hannah had another La Cucaracha encounter – in her apartment.  A cockroach came from UNDER HER BED.  She used the closest thing at hand, a Yoga/Relaxation CD case, to dispatch it.  “Now take a deep breath; hold it.  Let it out slowly.  Allow all the stress and tension to drain out of your body – and into the CD case.  Now, slowly raise the case.  Allow all of that tension and stress to crush the roach.  Again.  One more time.  Now take a deep breath; hold it.   Let it out slowly.  Now, you’re ready for the day.”


25 July 2013

LA CUCARACHA, LA CUCARACHA


(Actual Size)
A couple of weeks ago, Hannah was formally introduced to La Cucaracha – Indiana Jones style:
     Hannah and her companion were walking home, in the dark, from an appointment on the other side of their area.  They came upon an illuminated sewer cover and watched in horror as cockroaches spewed from its depths.  As she saw them swarming up over the sidewalk, she realized that what she had been stepping on earlier weren’t potato chips after all.  Ewww!  Oh, and did I mention that because her shoes were killing her, she had decided to walk home barefoot.  Double ewww.  I helpfully sent her the lyrics (in Spanish) to La Cucaracha, which I found on the internet.   I was confident that someone in Texas could help her with the tune and pronunciation. Evidently, there is more than one version of this song.  Yikes! (Sorry, Hannah.)

Speaking of close encounters of the animal kind:  
     Hannah and her companion were served dinner by a member the same week.  The woman had an angry dog (who growled at the missionaries during the entire meal), and LOTS of cats.  When Hannah asked to use the sister’s restroom, she was directed to the back of the trailer where a toilet sat against the wall.  At least 25 cats were also in the area, willing to provide an attentive audience should anything occur. 

In addition to investigators, Hannah and her companion have been meeting regularly with members who are less active or inactive.  Hannah says it has been an eye opening experience to see the power fellowshipping has to change lives.  Visiting with and talking to people is what disciples of Christ do.  We follow Him by loving and serving our brothers and sisters.  Thus, Hannah wrote this memo in her mission journal:  “Hannah, when you get back home from this mission, you don’t ever get off your mission.”

Last week was transfer week.  It was also the week that Hannah’s cousin, Kellie, arrived in Houston as a new missionary.  We were wondering if the two Sister Bonners would end up together.  Not this time.  Instead, we learned from the photos posted on the Mission’s Blog (houstontexasmission.blogspot/), that after just six weeks as a missionary, Hannah is now a trainer with her own newbie, Sister Harrison.  Although Hannah is feeling understandably overwhelmed by this responsibility, we are confident that she will do well and know that God will continue to guide and direct His work.

Although I don’t feel comfortable mentioning them by name in this blog, Hannah has several people that she is working with as a missionary that have many hardships and trials.  Prayers on their behalf for strength, patience, and increased faith would be appreciated.  She also has several investigators that are at the crossroads of faith right now.  They must choose whether they will believe and act on this belief, or continue to act as they have and hold on to the patterns of thought and behavior with which they are familiar.  Likewise, prayers for them at this time would also be helpful.  And of course, I hope you will continue to pray for Hannah and her companion at this time.  She feels those prayers.  They strengthen and sustain her.  Thank you. 







28 June 2013

MISSIONARIES VS. GUARD. . .er, ANIMAL

As a missionary, you can expect to encounter certain hazards.  Hannah’s father had warned her about the inevitability of a dog confrontation.  He had even given her some tips on how to prevent pursuit by a canine.  Nonetheless, she was not prepared for her first animal encounter.  Having no investigator appointments for Fathers’ Day, Hannah and Sister Allred decided to go tracting (that’s dedication!).  Perhaps they were less alert than usual because of fatigue and heat, or maybe their senses were dulled by rejection, whatever the cause, they initially dismissed the motionless gray bulk on the far end of the porch they were approaching.  As they ascended the steps, the beast heaved to its feet to confront the trespassers.  It was a vicious guard. . . .er, pig!  Hey, pigs will eat ANYTHING (even bacon), as evidenced by the remains scattered across the porch.  Wisely, the Sisters slowly backed down the stairs and left that door unknocked.  Hannah felt bad that the residents of the trailer would not have the opportunity that day to hear the restored Gospel.  To comfort her, we’ll remind her of Matthew 7:6.  Go ahead, look it up – you won’t be disappointed. 

That reminds me of another unpleasant encounter the Sisters had – this time of the two-legged variety.  An older man invited them to play basketball, and then added, “I’ll be shirts and you can be skins.”  Hannah would rather face down a guard pig any day.

Some highlights from the past two weeks:

The neighbor of someone they were trying to contact ended up becoming an investigator himself.  This past week he committed to be baptized!

This past Sunday, two investigators and one family who had recently been inactive, attended Church.

Hannah and Sister Allred called a potential investigator.  The person who answered the phone listened to their introduction and then hung up.  Hannah assumed that the man was no longer interested in being taught.  A few moments later, however, they received this text:  “This isn’t John*.  I stole his phone.”  Hannah wondered how you even respond to that.

An investigator’s wallet was stolen from his home.  Hannah and Sister Allred offered a prayer for its recovery.  Less than an hour later, one of the man’s neighbors came over and said that he had found the wallet in the road.  The cash was gone, but all of his cards and ID were still inside.  He recognized this as an answer to prayer.  I can’t help wonder if the neighbor who “found” the wallet also experienced a change of heart.  Wouldn’t it be weird if the neighbor was the same guy who has John’s phone!

Sister Allred sent a sweet letter to Hannah’s family.  Basically it told us how great we are to have a good daughter (for which we cannot take the credit).  Nevertheless, in our book, this makes Sister Allred the best companion EVER!

We are also grateful for the wonderful people who, upon finding Sister Bonner and Sister Allred at their door on Fathers’ Day, invited them in for a delicious steak dinner (and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer).  God bless you.


*name changed

20 June 2013

HANNAH ARRIVES IN HOUSTON

NEW MISSIONARIES ARRIVE IN HOUSTON


HANNAH AND HER COMPANION, SISTER ALLRED
Hannah has been in Texas for just over two weeks now.  Her and her companion, Sister Allred, have the distinction of being the first (but definitely not last) female companionship to NOT receive a mission car.  In the first few days, Hannah discovered that it is possible to get a blister on a blister.   Also, it appears that no one remembered to include sidewalks in the city's construction plans!  Since she is not dead on the side of the road, she knows that Heavenly Father has protected her.  She also recognizes that because of their increased visibility, they have several investigators that they probably would not have had they been cruising around in an air-conditioned sedan.  An Elder kindly gifted his old bicycle to Hannah.  Although this necessitates some wardrobe modifications, she appreciates having an additional mode of transportation.

Hannah gave away her first Book of Mormon on the flight from Dallas to Houston.  This story illustrates how important it is to "just open your mouth."  It also confirms the existence of a cosmic sense of humor.  Here's the account in her own words:

"I started out casual.  I asked if he [the stranger seated next to her] was from Houston.  He responded that he was from Korea, coming to Houston for a few days of business.  I asked his name.  He said I wouldn't be able to pronounce it and to just call him "Denny."  But then Denny made the mistake of asking me why I was going to Houston.  I uttered the first of many, "Have you ever heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?”  We talked the entire 40 minutes.  But then, just as I was reciting the First Vision and quoting, “One spake unto me, calling me by name, and said. . .,” the pilot cut in with, “We are beginning our descent.”  Moment ruined.  Although I’m pretty sure Denny thought I was a delusional lunatic, he did accept a Book of Mormon, and said he'd think about finding missionaries in Korea."

Way to go, Hannah!




16 May 2013

GOING ON A MISSION

Hey ya'll,

I'm serving a full time LDS mission until November 2014. I've been called to Houston Texas. While I'm gone, mom and brother will post my mission letters and pictures to this blog. Yeeeehawww!