CABOT Aya Hansen takes seriously her new position as the Searcy Arkansas Stake young women’s president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hansen is originally from Missouri but moved to Arkansas less than a year ago with her husband, Jay, a C-130 pilot in the Air Force.
“I wouldn’t mainly consider it an honor but as more of a privilege,” Hansen said of the position she was named to in August. “It’s quite humbling. There are no qualifications, aside from the stake president and his counselors will pray about this and the feeling they get. They will interview several people, and of those interviews and how the Lord speaks with them, that person is called upon. They’ll ask if that is a position that we can do, and we’ll pray about it, too. That is quite a humbling place to be when you know other people might be better qualified.”
According to LDS.org, a stake is a group of congregations or wards, generally about 3,000 to 5,000 members in five to 10 congregations.
Hansen said, however, that in Arkansas, a stake encompasses a rather large area, unlike say Utah, where LDS members are plentiful.
“We have wards that meet throughout our stakes,” she said. “Once you reach certain numbers, you are divided into more wards. Those wards are made up into a stake. Our stake (the Searcy Arkansas Stake) is made up of five wards and six branches. The branches are small wards that don’t have enough people to be categorized as a ward.”
Hansen said the area her stake includes reaches from Pocahontas to Mountain View down to Lonoke.
“It’s a good area that we cover,” she said. “I train and encourage and help all the volunteers, doing the more important calling — that is to work directly with the youth.”
Hansen said her experiences have been “truly rewarding.”
“The youth of today fight very real battles and face life-altering challenges,” she said. “Trying to be like our Savior, the message the Stake Young Women’s presidency shares is a message of hope, love, courage, strength in the Lord and unity with one another. We want our youth to develop a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven, surround themselves with positive influences and kindly share the love and light they uniquely have with others.
“More often that not, as I mingle with these amazing youth, I feel humbled by their strength, their testimonies and their love of Jesus Christ. I love our youth.”
Hansen said there are 147 young men and women, ages 12 through 17, in the Searcy Stake.
“We have a stake young men’s president, and we all work together to encourage the youth to draw closer to our Savior and to build them up to be good adults as well,” she said.
Hansen, who was born in Missouri but also lived in Idaho while growing up, grew up a member of the LDS church. She and her husband have seven children: Kiraya, 14; Soren, 12; Zavannah, 10; Brydn, 9; Amerika, 7; Braven, 3; and Truen, 2.
“We’re a military family and have seen a lot of the world,” Hansen said. “Interestingly, most religions, as well as Latter-day Saints, believe many of the same things, at least the Christians do. We’re all believers of Jesus Christ.”
Hansen is a stay-at-home mother, having worked previously as a photographer. She also home-schools the couple’s children.
“I’ve worked since I was 14, and I worked most of our marriage, and I understand the working field,” she said.
While she has worked outside the home, Hansen said being at home with her children is important.
“I must be honest and say that I have not found any other career that can meet the goals, dreams and aspirations that I have more effectively and more satisfyingly as I have being a mom. With all the abilities that I’ve been given and the way that I feel, that satisfies my needs in those areas.
“It’s been a pleasure.”
Bart Sherwood, the first counselor in the Searcy Arkansas Stake presidency, said Hansen is a great leader for the church.
“Sister Hansen is just an awesome leader and person,” Sherwood said. “I work directly with her. She has been exceptionally easy to work with and just a very diligent and faithful person to her family and to the church and to the young women of the Searcy Arkansas Stake. She is a very humble and spiritual person. She seeks the inspiration from her Heavenly Father in her calling and the responsibilities that she has to find out what the Lord would have her to do.
“She seeks him out. She seeks revelation and inspiration as it pertains to young women in the stake. She is very well received by all the young women in the stake and is loved by all the young women.”
Hansen said her family has been told they could be in Arkansas as little as three years, but possibly up to seven, depending upon her husband’s assignment at the Little Rock Air Force Base. But she does love the beauty of living in Arkansas, having come here from Nevada.
“I love it out here,” she said. “It is so beautiful. I’m living it up a little bit. We just came from Nevada, where it’s a desert, which has its own beauty, but Arkansas is a contrast with the green and beautiful leaves right now.”
Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or email@example.com.