13 April 2014


Hannah has a new companion:  Macall Bowden.  Hannah loves her already.  I know that great personal sacrifice was required in order for Sister Bowden to serve a mission.  I’m so grateful that Sister Bowden was, and continues to be, willing to put the Lord first in her life.   Much of what Hannah has learned, and the growth she has experienced as a missionary, are because of her companions.

And “thank you” to the members in Montgomery, Texas.  You have made time to go with Hannah and her companions on teaching appointments.  Thank you for your dedicated service to the Lord and your own efforts to hasten God’s work.  Hannah continually marvels at the blessings that come because of the efforts of the members.

Next month will be Hannah’s one year anniversary as a missionary!  I’m thinking of sending her some materials from the newest Fun & Faith catalog from Oriental Trading to help her take her missionary efforts to a whole new level.  Although Oriental Trading has many exciting themes to choose from, I decided that the Wild West theme would be appropriate for a Texas missionary.   Just imagine how welcome investigators will feel to see a WANTED BY GOD –REWARD (awaits in Heaven) poster with their photo on it to greet them on Sunday!  I’m still having trouble, however, deciding between the bandanas (Logo:  Giddy-up with God), the bandana print pencils with boot erasers (Step Up Your Faith), or the Clothespin Horse Craft Kit (Galloping in His Glory). 

Hannah continues to experience the Lord’s tender mercies.  She has had so many choice and sacred opportunities to witness first-hand the miracle of conversion and to see people she has come to know and love receive the ordinances of the gospel.  And with the passing at the end of March of her beloved grandfather, Edward Bonner, her testimony of the eternal nature of families was reaffirmed. 

Her testimony of service was also recently strengthened.  After an appointment fell through, Hannah and Sister Bowden were tracting, and approached a house where a man and a woman were working on their porch.  As soon as the Sisters were spotted, the woman called out, “Now is not a good time.”  Hannah responded, “We are just in the area doing some service.  Can we help you?”  Hannah says that the couple’s disposition immediately changed.   Hannah and Sister Bowden (as they didn’t have an extra hammer with them that night) made an appointment to return the following week to help paint the porch and share a gospel message.  After the return visit, regular discussions have followed.  This couple is prepared for and excited about the gospel.  Hannah observed that even small acts of service have the power to change hearts and minds.  No wonder we were admonished during Conference to be kinder, to love better, and to pray for opportunities to serve others – and then do it. 

Speaking of General Conference, Hannah says some of her favorite talks were:  Elder Holland, President Uchtdorf, and Bishop Stevenson.

She’s asked each member of her family to follow up on Elder M. Russell Ballard’s challenge to exchange thoughts and insights on Preach My Gospel with a missionary.   I bet you’re thinking:  “Thanks a lot for reminding me of another thing I’m supposed to be doing.”  You’re welcome.

18 March 2014


First, a shout-out to Derrick, who was baptized on Saturday, March 15. 2014!  Hannah loves him and his family so much.  I think he’s awesome too – he reads this blog.

I recently met a nice man who frequents Mountain Men Rendezvous.  He explained to me that people who travel in this circle give themselves “mountain men” names.  He also explained that many mountain men are also given a mountain man name by the other mountain men, which is only used behind their backs.  He told me a couple of examples and the origin of the names – neither of which I will relate in this post.  I did, however, suggest to Hannah that she give mountain men names to the people she interacts with.  She informed me that Derrick had already one-upped this by giving Book of Mormon names to people.  Hannah is “Samuel the Lamanite.”  Although I don’t know how he decided on this name for Hannah, I do have a couple of theories: 
  • She is so tall that it is as if she were standing on a wall (mountain man name would be “Tall as Wall”)
  • She won’t take “no” for an answer (mountain man name would be “Tall Tower That Cannot Be Moved”)
  • She brought him the gospel message (mountain man name would be “Woman With A Message”)
But personally, I think it was because Hannah testifies of Christ with boldness – and doesn’t let the arrows of the adversary stop her (mountain man name would be “Bold Speaker”).

I thought the least I could do would be to give Derrick a mountain man name.  But then I remembered, he has already taken a new name by being baptized – the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no name better than that.

 As I think about Samuel on the wall with arrows flying around him, I’m reminded that missionaries encounter many potentially hazardous materials in the course of their service.  I’ve mentioned a few of these in previous posts:

            Spider Webs (and attached spiders)
            Fallen Trees
            Crazy Drivers    
            Big, Angry, Mean, Barking Dogs

A few more reasons that hazmat suits should be standard missionary issue:

            African Cats
            2nd Hand Smoke
            2nd Hand Alcohol*
            Ear-burning Cursing & Profanity*
            Big, Angry, Mean Strangers*

*Experienced simultaneously

I’m so grateful for the protection that Hannah has been blessed with.  I’m also so grateful for the encounters she has had with great people who are kind (and sometimes even feed her).  She met a professional motocross rider the other day and had a wonderful conversation with him.  She also took the opportunity to share the Word of Wisdom with a man who was following them on his bicycle.  Although the word of God can be an effective means of self-defense, in this case, the man received the principle taught him very enthusiastically.  He did tell Hannah, however, that according to the Bible, Rebekah of the Old Testament smoked.  When Hannah expressed her doubt, he told her to read Genesis 24:64. 

[Okay, it was really Hannah’s father, who definitely does not snore, (mountain man name "Sounds Like Thunder”) who pointed this out to me during Sunday School].  

Hannah is working hard (with all her heart, might, mind, and strength).  She has been strengthened.  She has been comforted.  She has felt pure joy.   She loves the people of Montgomery.  She has been blessed with many witnesses of her Heavenly Father’s love for her and for the people she teaches.  She is doing well. 

Proud Mother Who Misses Daughter (my mountain man name)


20 February 2014


On Saturday, February 22nd, the flags should be flown at half-mast to signify the passing of the first half of Hannah’s mission.   Half of the time, it feels as if these past nine months has flown by.  The other half of the time, it seems to have passed at a snail’s pace.  As her first companion in the field so aptly observed, “The days seem like weeks, the weeks seem like months, and the months seem like days.” 

Although this is an auspicious occasion, Hannah has to go halfsies with her brother for our attention as it is also his 15th birthday.  He plans on celebrating turning 15 by cutting his life expectancy in half by taking the written portion of the driver’s test.  (Whoever thought 15 year old boys should be able to operate motor vehicles must have been a half-wit!)   So I had a half-baked idea that I should mark this milestone in Hannah’s life with this special post in which I use as many expressions that contain the word “half” as possible, and still make sense 50% (yes, that counts) of the time.  If you think of a usage that I missed, feel free to post it in your comments. 

Regardless of whether you are a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” type of person, you must admit that to reach the half-way point in a mission is a time of mixed emotions.  Hannah’s feelings of anticipation when she thinks of returning home to her family are undoubtedly tempered half and half by those emotions that come as she anticipates leaving the close association of those she has come to love so much. 

For many missionaries, it’s tempting to keep half an eye on home throughout their mission.  But Hannah is entering the second half of her mission fully engaged in the work in Texas.   Those of you who know Hannah well know that she doesn't do things by halves.  Her mission is no exception.  She has served the Lord with all her might, mind, and strength, and will continue to do so, even after she is home. 

Now I know, people joke about the period of readjustment for missionaries after they are released from full-time service as a “mission half-life”- the amount of time required for half of the missionary’s good habits and spirituality to decay to pre-mission levels.  (Okay, nobody actually calls it “mission half-life,” but they should.  Anyway, how would YOU suggest I fit “half-life” into this post?)  For Hannah, however, she has experienced firsthand, on numerous occasions, the fulfillment of Lord’s promise to make weak things become strong.  I am confident that these “mighty changes” in Hannah will always be a part of who she is. 

To say that her family has mixed feelings about Hannah coming home this year would be a half truth:  We’re just plain happy!  Of course, when she does, a half-gallon of milk will no longer be enough each week. (FYI:  Her family consists of myself, her mother; my better half, her father; and Elijah, her [not half] brother (okay, that last one was a stretch.)  

Hannah has served honorably this first nine months.  This is no surprise.  Hannah never does anything [EDITED].*   We are so proud of her.

*An expression that means “insufficiently or haphazardly”

Editor’s Note:  I count 25 uses of the word “half” in some form.  Not half bad.

04 February 2014


Did you know that Hannah does a “happy dance” in the privacy of the church bathroom after each baptism she attends?  Thank you to Devin and Fred who gave Hannah a “happy dance” excuse on January 11th.  Hannah also got to return to her first area in Texas, Imperial Oaks, to attend Annie’s baptism (and perform another “happy dance”)!  Hannah expressed her feelings at these baptisms as “pure joy.”   

As of last transfer (January 1), Hannah is in a new companionship with Sister Wessendorf from Payson, Utah (home of Bordeaux’s Bistro.  Try the smothered shrimp po boy, red beans and rice, and, for dessert, beignets!)  She is still serving in Montgomery, Texas.  Hannah also has the assignment of Sister Training Leader.  This is providing her with opportunities to associate with and get to know the other sisters in her zone.  They are all wonderful, of course.

 Stuck in Muck!  (A sticky situation in two acts)
Act 1, Scene 1:  8:30 p.m.  Middle of nowhere.  20 degrees and biting wind. 
(Enter Hannah and Sister Wessendorf in their mission Jeep.)
Hannah attempts to flip a u-turn and the right front wheel and rear wheels are seized by mud on the roadside.  Jeep is dramatically sucked in down to the frame.  Hannah exits vehicle (Sister Wessendorf is unable to open her door). 
(Enter big, scary dog.)
Hannah returns to vehicle and phones closest member she knows, Brother Hamilton, for help.  
(Enter truck, pulling into nearby driveway.)
Hannah exits her vehicle and starts shouting, “Help, we are stuck.”  Man exiting truck responds, “I can see that.”  Man then goes to Hannah’s vehicle to assess damage.  Man invites Hannah and Sister W to wait inside with his family until Brother Hamilton arrives.  While man and Brother Hamilton are working on unsticking Jeep, Hannah and Sister W have enjoyable conversation with man’s family. 
(Jeep is freed from mud.)  

Act 2, Scene 1  Family home of good Samaritans who unstuck mission Jeep earlier.
(Enter Hannah and Sister Wessendorf bearing cupcakes.)
Hannah says, "Thank you for helping us out that night.  Would you and your family be willing to take the missionary lessons?"  Man replies, "Absolutely."  
(Happy Dance)
(Later that evening) Hannah writes in her journal:  “God is great.  He turns dumb mistakes into miraculous finding opportunities!” *

*Editor’s note:  I think being a full time missionary gives God more to work with.  Most of my dumb mistakes end up being dumb mistakes.

Word of caution to anyone who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:  Never Smile at a Missionary Unless You Want to Learn More.  A stranger smiled at Hannah at the Library a couple of weeks ago.  The thought crossed her mind, “Talk to him.”  But then he looked away.  She felt weird approaching him.  As she was leaving the library, she again felt impressed to speak to him.  She asked the member family providing her a ride to wait and she went and introduced herself.  The man did not speak much English and was uncertain when Hannah offered to have the Spanish speaking missionaries contact him.  He asked for her number and told her that he would call if he decided that he was interested in her message.   He called!  The Hermanas will be visiting him soon.

Other news:

Hannah’s church schedule changed from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.* 

*Editor’s Note:  Now is the time for anyone who may have been whining about 9 a.m. to feel sheepish.

 Hannah was introduced to Zumba at a Relief Society activity.  She liked it!*

*Editor’s Note:  Maybe I’ll have to send her a Zumba exercise DVD to use in the mornings.  She sent me back the So You Think You Can Dance hip-hop exercise DVD I sent her for Christmas because “the music tracks used were not missionary appropriate.”  Who would have guessed?

Hannah’s testimonies of the ordinances of baptism and of the Sacrament, of repentance, and of the unconditional love of her Heavenly Father, have been strengthened.  She loves the people she is teaching, her companion, and the Lord.  She acknowledges that God has literally poured out blessing after blessing upon her.  She is doing well.