Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Adventure Is Out There!

Well folks... It has come to this. I have not been looking forward to this. Ask anybody here in Arlington YSA and they'll tell you how much I DO NOT want to go home. Don't be surprised if I don't make it to their airport-- they probably kidnapped me. They've been making threats all week.
We had a great week! We met with our investigators and I'm happy to report that Sweet Soul and Weightless are back on track! They both had experiences where they realized they wanted CHANGE and that they were fed up with the ruts they were in. We also set TWO baptismal dates with our two new investigators from last week! YUSS. I don't care if ya sin so hard ya black out, if it makes you come back and change then AWESOME. Without being casual, that's what the Atonement's for. That's why we have a Savior. So that we can change and move on. Doesn't matter how far you've fallen, you CAN (and WILL, if I have anything to say about it!!) get back up. Is the Atonement infinite? Or is it infinite???
So, this is my last email as a tagged missionary. Come Thursday, I'm gonna take my nametag off (read: Pres. Houston will have to tackle me to the ground and wrestle it from me) and that's gonna be about the only thing that'll change. Oh, well, I guess I'll start wearing pants again...
But I wanted to share with you (for those of you who've never heard it) my personal testimony story. So, yes, this will be a hecka long email, but go big or go home right? (haha..................... wait.)
There was a point in my life (circa high school) when I became spiritually Less Active. I went to church cuz that was the Gunson house rules but I never read my scriptures and I never prayed. I slowly started slipping until I just didn't... care anymore. My parents tried to intervene, but no matter what spiritual experience I had, it never STUCK. This all started when I had tried to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and didn't get an answer back. I was like "what the heck, man?? I thought there was a promise in here!!" This went on for I want to say maybe 2 and a half years or so... And that's when I was like "this is stupid. This is ridiculous. I'm gonna read the Book of Mormon." I was angry and sad and grumpy all the time, I fought non-stop with my family, just wasn't fun. I remembered all the many blessings my father had given me, telling me to JUST READ THE BOOK OF MORMON. If I did that, I would be safe. So, I picked it up and decided I was gonna read a chapter every night. A week later, I started praying every night AND reading every night. And within just barely under a month, things turned around.
So that's how I got my testimony. But my conversion story is my mission. I knew this stuff was true and out here, I got to apply it. This mission has been the making of me, the sanctifying of me, the burning-away-a-bunch-of-dumb-stuff in me, and now having completed a full and fruitful mission, I can say that IT IS ME. I can say that the scripture that told me to go on a mission(Jacob 5:75) wasn't just a prompting but a prophecy. I have received a GREAT joy in my service. So much joy that the first 15 minutes of my studies this morning was  bawl-praying my thanks to Heavenly Father for letting the ultimate goober serve a mission. Thank GOODNESS He took that chance on me.
What have I learned? I have learned that God lives! God is my HEAVENLY FATHER, who loves me with a depth I cannot comprehend. He has watched over me and those I love carefully and mercifully. He's never let me out of His sight or out of His arms. And I will always have that relationship and nothing can take that away from me. I have learned that Jesus IS the Christ! His Atonement is INFINITE, people!! He can change ANYONE who is willing to listen and willing to ACT. No matter how black the Friday, Sunday ALWAYS comes because of Him. I know that Joseph Smith was a man of God and has done more for me than any other latter day prophet-- maybe more than any prophet! The Book of Mormon is the word of a LOVING God who would never let His children live in darkness unless they chose to. It is relatable to me and to my day and time. I have learned to be holy, to be sanctified, to put off the natural man and to ditch old habits and old personalities in favor of my eternal personality. I have learned to LOVE. Brothers and Sisters, friends, family, people I don't yet know and even my enemies, LOVE CONQUERS ALL. It trumps everything and anyone who tries to bring you down. I know how much the Savior loves me because He has allowed me to love YOU. And He has shown me the proper way to do so.
I had my exit interview on Saturday and I received an incredible blessing. In that blessing, I was given a clear vision of what I need to do. It wasn't specific-- I still have various ideas about which major and I don't know my husband's name or where I'm gonna live-- but I know who I am and I know God's plan. And I will be walking confidently into the future as a woman of God and a disciple of Christ.
Last thought: I had been scared of transitioning. I was scared because I was like "I need something to work towards, I'm not gonna have a vision, no accountability, AHHHHH" but then I read Chapter One of Preach my Gospel. There is nothing in that chapter that does not apply to every baptized member of Christ's church. Especially Page 10-- where every missionary looks to make sure they're doing their job right. That's where every member needs to be looking to know if they're living up to their baptismal covenants, honestly. In that last blessing, it was promised to me that I would continue my missionary work. And while I REALLY would like to put my name tag back on, I know that the world is my mission and you're all under my circle of influence, which makes YOU my area. So get ready to be spiritually edified, son, cuz I'm coming home!!
Love, Sister Hannah Gunson

Sunday, November 2, 2014


You know why you do your family hsitory work? When you know where you come from, lots of things make sense. We come from outspoken pioneer-missionaries with a big-- sometimes sassy-- mouths. Sayin' it like it is since... whenever we joined the church. (Another reason why you do family history work? Exact dates.)
So this week was better. Life wouldn't be life without its trials! It adds salt.
GOOD NEWS: ED AND WOAH GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!! They shared a program! And it was so cool!!! Haha, Satan REALLY did not want that baptism to go down.... The master key did not work and when we tried to open the accordion doors so that the audience could see the baptism, that didn't work either. We waited for like 10 minutes while we got some stake member back-up who had a key. Woah popped her head out of the side door where she went through to get to the font and said "guys, I just want to be baptized! I promise!!" Bro. Reyes, the member that baptized her, kept saying "LIFE IS GREAT, LIFE IS AWESOME!" and it helped me relax a bit. Just gotta let stuff roll off your shoulders. They got baptized and confirmed and then later that Sunday, they both signed up to go on exchanges with us this week. Such spirits!
SIDE NOTE: Ed is from India and we looked up his home state and how the church is doing.... It's really cool. In India they mostly have little  branches of the church, but where Ed is from, they have a WARD. We got a little side-tracked and started looking at temples around the world... it is so cool. Ed's gonna go back to India and convert his family and friends and one day, we're gonna have a temple there. I also REALLY want to serve another mission when I get home... can I do that? I'm doing that. 14 year mission? Nobody misses me THAT much...
On the sad side... Sweet Soul and Weightless and Song aren't doing so well in their progression. The worst part is that they ALL know it's true, we know why they're not growing, THEY know why they're not growing.... and they still won't fight off the buffetings and temptations of Satan to experience the greater gospel light. Sweet Soul told us that he's trying to get his freedom.... And when we told him to read his scriptures, he read the chapter heading only and then wondered why he didn't feel better. When I asked him why he didn't read more, he said that a missionary in the past told him to take baby steps. And now he was using that as a crutch.
Well...... Baby steps didn't cross the Delaware. Baby steps didn't break down the Berlin Wall. Baby steps won't fight off Satan. True, by small and simple means are great things brought to pass... but chapter headings do not exactly divide asunder the cunning wiles of the devil.

I'm reminded (once again) of my own personal search for truth. I wanted freedom from darkness SO BADLY, I accepted the terms the Lord gave me.
The Lord has never asked for a grand show-- just to take 7 baths in the Jordan river, or to look up at a snake on a stick. NOT THAT HARD.  (Janet's note:  these are references from the Old Testament.  Stories of faith and healing.)
I went on an exchange with my Sister Training Leader and we visited a less active sister. She had texted us the night before, saying that something had bugged her, so she spent an hour in the scriptures trying to figure it out and would like to go back to church some day. We ran over that morning and invited her to share... she had an experience a lot like one I had had before.
She wanted faith. She wanted to pray. She wasn't praying because she felt turned away. She felt denied because she was listening to that enemy of us all who told her she was a disappointment. My STL and I teared up. I felt such a swell of love for her. And I told her with absolute conviction that Jesus, as the Christ, loves her. And there's nothing she can do to stop that love. Pharisees tried that already-- worked out GREAT, wouldn't you say?
I'm grateful for the experiences that gave me such conviction. Even now, coming out of a brutal week, I'm able to look at this sister in the eye and tell her that once she finishes her repentance process, she'll KNOW with unshakable faith that the Atonement is REAL. Because I know.
I'm re-reading the Book of Mormon (like ya do..) and when I got to Alma 26, I prayed to know why this chapter hits my mom so hard. She'd told me the story before, but I'd forgotten details. I still don't know her experience, but I know what it means to me.  (Second Janet's note:  Go read it!  It is the most motivating, joyful chapter!)

"... this is my LIFE and my LIGHT, my JOY and my SALVATION, and my REDEMPTION from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God who has been mindful..."
This gospel is freedom. This gospel means the world to me. I love the Book of Mormon. I wish I could give you my testimony so you would know exactly how I feel.... but honestly, if you're curious about how I feel, the Lord can show you. Just ask the missionaries-- they can help.
Love, Sister Gunson

Sunday Will Come Oct. 20, 2014

Before I say anything more, you need this talk: It's Sunday Will Come and it's my favorite.
I told Aunt Judy I'd email this story today. This one comes from Euless, my first transfer training. It's famous around my companions... really anyone I serve around. They've probably heard me say things like "well, I prayed for it, so it'll happen!" or "PRAY FOR IT" and this is that story:
I was having a really hard time. I was stressed and exhausted and all I wanted was chocolate. Not a lot, just something sweet, all to myself. And so, in passing, I said "Heavenly Father... you know what I want? I want chocolate." I felt this calming peace come over me.... and I KNEW I was getting chocolate by the end of that day. I waited through sacrament, I waited through Sunday School, I waited through Relief Society and I was unphased. I was getting my chocolate!

Well, our dinner appointment cancelled, but because he's awesome, he was like "no, sisters, you're not going hungry, I'm packing ya some sack lunches." He drops em by and I dump mine out and the last thing in that bag were 2 chocolate coins. Not a lot-- just enough. I stared at those 2 coins and was like "GOD LIVES!!!" I called the member to share the miracle and he said "weirdest thing happened, sister. I was making your lunches and I felt prompted to look in the freezer. I NEVER look in the freezer-- but I did. Saw those. Dropped em in your bag. What do ya think of that?"

So I've told every companion that. And they know that when I pray for something... I get it.
This week was surprisingly hard. The fear and stress of going home compounded with some brutal attacks by the adversary knocked me flat on my back in some kind of spiritual panic attack. I don't want to dwell on that because there were certain "pray-for-chocolate" miracles that ensued.
The first is that I got to see my Aunt, Judy this week. She's the first piece of family I've seen in a year and a half. And I was SO GLAD to have some support. I'm never alone in a mission of 270+ missionaries. But... having family gives you that boost.

Second, Friday, when I was having a REALLY rough day, one of my old STL's happened to pop up in the church building where Sister Nielson and I were. She had gone home in April, but came back to live in Southlake. As she was walking down the hallway, I had this feeling of "HOLD ON. HELP IS COMING." and after we caught up, I asked for her advice and sure enough, strength and refreshment came.
Third, we went to our mission-wide fireside (where we get to bring all our gators to meet President) and we brought Weightless. Well... Recent Convert Best Friend from Lantana and Awesomeness from Euless were there. And guess what? I had been praying that Weightless would get to talk to them because they both struggled with some things prior to their baptism that she's going through right now.

I wish to tell you more, but I'll be seeing y'all in a couple of weeks anyways, you'll get more stories. But I want everyone to know that Sunday comes. Chocolate gets dropped into your lunch sack. A member makes you fajitas and pie for dinner on a really bad day. And an investigator affirms your spiritual power. You have to find the good things and be optimistic and it's so hard to do that and I'm not perfect at it. But good grief, do we believe in an infinite Atonement and an all-powerful God or don't we??
My heart has been made tender. It's all squishy and stuff, so I'm gonna get off because that's just sick and ain't nobody wanna listen to a sensitive sister hehe....
Love y'all!
Sister Gunson