Friday, September 28, 2012

Best Field Trip Ever!

Helloooo family!!!
So sorry I didn't write you yesterday! A lot of things have changed in the past few days- new companion, new district, all new teachers, and no more elders! They all left early Wednesday morning- so sad, but happy! I can't believe that is going to be me in just a few more days!! So yeah Sister Jones and I are no longer companions :( but we are still in the same room and district so it's all good. My new companions name is Hermana Vallandares from Honduras. She is the absolute cutest/sweetest person I have ever met! She is so short and tiny and adorable! I love her! It's also great because we are both going to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center! Yay! She will be speaking spanish though. After the sisters in my district and I went and said goodbye to our elders we had to rush back to the residence and get ready for Salt Lake! Best field trip ever!! We got to go on a tour of the visitors center in Salt Lake! And guess what, on Saturday we are going to be paired up with a Sister at temple square and will give tours from like 3-8 pm!!!!! ahhh!! I am slightly nervous, but super excited!! I am finally experiencing what I will be doing everyday out in Mesa!! I had no idea before what it actually meant to be called to a visitors center, but let me tell you it is a big deal!! We  have so many responsibilities!! Yesterday morning we practiced chatting with investigators on! It was probably the coolest thing I have ever done! I have a real life investigator out there! Actually he lives in Maryland! :) I will keep contacting him even when I go out to Mesa. So yeah we get to do chat, give tours (which basically means you have about 10 minutes or less to make an impression on your visitor and help them experience more than what we call a "feel good moment" and allow the spirit to guide them onto the path of conversion- no pressure), and we also proselyte. We are going to be meeting so many amazing people from literally all over the world!!! I am sooo excited! Gosh the Lord just knows me so well. I know this Mission call was inspired, it literally fits me like a glove! So yeah this week has been incredible!!!! i LOVE being a missionary!!! 
So on a more spiritual note, on the night that our elders left we got together as a district and had an amazingly spiritual last testimony meeting together. The spirit was so strong and that night I went back to my room and could not fall asleep, so I wrote in my journal. I just thought I would share with you all some of the thoughts/impressions I had :) We are God's children, I know He loves us, and I know He is proud of our (missionaries) decision to serve Him. I am here on this mission because I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I know that if He were on the earth right now, this is exactly what He would be doing. I know my Savior has saved me from the darkness and brought me into the light. I know that through His infinite atonement we all have the opportunity to live with God once more- and not only live with Him, but be like Him. I know who I am, Kelsey Hamstead, a daughter of God. I have been promised endless blessings and infinite potential. My Father in Heaven knows me- of this I am sure. I look back on my life and have no doubt in my mind that I have been guided by my loving Father in Heaven. He has a plan- His ways are not always my ways, but I will follow Him and trust Him with all of my heart. I will give Him my life. I mean that. I really do. The MTC has truly helped me to put things into perspective and it is as if the fog has blown over. I want to do whatever I can to serve my Lord and I will do it with a happy and grateful heart. I am grateful for the life I have been given. Each day I wake up and I immediately get on my knees and thank my God for giving me another day, and at night I pour out my heart and soul to my Father. I am full of gratitude for the experiences which the Lord has blessed me with. These people I have met here at the MTC have truly touched me. I will never forget them, especially my district. If this short time here at the MTC is just a sample of the joy, blessings, growth, and friendship the mission will bring- then I never want this mission to end. And that is the best part, it doesn't have to end! We are all missionaries. We are all striving in our own lives to come closer to Jesus Christ- none of us have made it yet. We all still need to grow, still need to learn, and still need to progress. This experience has been hard, it's been demanding, at times it has even been discouraging, but if I could I would still do it all again. In a heart heat. I love being a missionary. I know God has a plan for me and I know He did not send me out here to fail ( He did not send any of His children down to earth to fail either, He has provided a way). God qualifies those that He calls- I believe that. I am no talented teacher, sometimes I get shy, or don't really know what to say or how to relate, but somehow God looked at me and saw past my weaknesses. He looked straight to my soul and saw the potential that lies beneath the surface. He is molding and shaping me, making me into something useful- something beautiful. There is nothing greater than to know that the Lord is counting on you. I will do my very best not to disappoint Him. I want to be here. I want to do this little thing for Him who has done everything for me. This gospel has brought so much  joy and happiness into my life and now I just want to get out to Mesa and share that joy with the people. I pray to God each day that I may be worthy, that everyday I may progress and come unto Him. This gospel is true. Jesus Christ is there for us, He provided the way for us. We have been blessed with the Book of Mormon which helps us draw closer unto Christ. It tells us exactly what we need to do. It contains the words of Christ, His laws, and His commandments. And what is it that the Lord asks us to do? Keep His commandments, follow His example. If you haven't been following Him, well start now. I am so grateful to now more fully be able to understand the beautiful gift of repentance. It's not just about reporting your daily mistakes to God, it's about recognizing what is holding you back from following our Savior Jesus Christ. Recognizing it, wanting to change because of your deeply rooted love for the Savior, and giving up whatever trap Satan has caught you in so that you can truly be free to walk in the foot steps  of our loving Savior. I am overwhelmed by God's love. God is love. Everything God does is motivated by His love for each and every one of us. This knowledge gives me such peace. It calms my wandering mind and opens my heart to willingly submit to the will of the Father. God loves me. I know this to be true. I am so blessed. What more can I say? I could go on for days and days, but if there is just one thing you get out of reading this, know that I, Kelsey Hamstead (Sister Hamstead) love, trust, and turn my life over to the Lord. He is the way and He is my salvation. All is possible with God- I am an example of this! Who would have thought that little shy awkward girl that I used to be would have grown up and gone out into the world to serve a mission? God works miracles. And He loves us, perfectly.

So yes that was from one of my entries this week. Everybody should serve a mission!! Trust that God has a plan for you, and that He will take care of you. I love you family!!! thank you soo much for your letters this week!! Oh I saw Elder Frazier again! We got a picture this time so I will try to send that :) Ah! Poor Brother Mills! I hope he is ok! Let him know that I will be praying for him! Mom I am sooo excited about your new calling!!! How awesome!! I can't wait to get my letter! :D Eugenie, did you ever get my letter?? I wrote you i promise!! I will respond to your dear elder this week as well! And tell Jerrel that I would love to get a letter from him! That would make me so happy! David, I'm sooo glad you got to go to the temple!! Wish I could have been there! We can all go together when I get back :) Christoper, iphone 5 ehh?? yeah i bet you are on cloud 9 right now :) i will write you and davey boy back soon! abby, you are in trouble missy! write me back! how is veganism treating you? Miss you little ginger! :) Well I love you all VERY much! 

Kelsey (Sister Hamstead) 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chocolate frogs, gold flakes and more...

So this week has been so much fun! As you know my birthday was Tuesday, but really the celebration began Monday night when I finally caved and opened up my package :) haha I almost made it! But the sisters and I had a wonderful time eating the candy and ya just having fun. Thank you soo much! Also the chocolate frogs you guys sent me were soo cool!!! a total hit! :) My district surprised me by buying me a card and they actually gave me money! I have no idea where they got cash from as I literally have like 10 cents to my name right now... but it was just soo nice! Everybody sang to me and some elders from in my district sent some donuts so we pretended like those were my birthday cake. Also the devotional that night was so personal and inspiring. It was just a great birthday! Oh also, we had a service project that morning so I got to wear jeans for the first half of the day. I was happy :) so ya I am 21! woohoo!! Oh I saw Elder Frazier on Sunday! Finally! But I haven't seen him since. haha there are just so many people here. I got a letter from Elder Foster! It makes me soo happy to hear from the other missionaries serving from our ward. I feel like we are all on the Lord's team right now- cheesy I know, but it just made me so happy! It is sad to see the Elders and Sisters leave the MTC, but it is a good reality check. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I am leaving in just like a week and a half. Crazy! I have met so many people from Mesa! I can't wait to get out there! I wish Sister Jones and I were going to the same mission though :( she is my best friend here and we just get along so well! It's also nice cus we teach well together. I am so blessed to have such a great companion! The MTC has been busy as usual and I have learned a ton! I think one of the main lessons I have learned this week is how truly important all of the seemingly little things are in pertaining to happiness in this life as well as the life to come. Elder Jackson (Elder in my district from Perth, Australia) told us this story in class and I thought it was really interesting... So when he was back home he went with some of his friends to a gold mine. When they were there exploring and taking it all in, their tour guide told them a very surprising fact about the mine. Apparently the amount of gold flakes that drop to the ground and get stuck on the bottom of peoples shoes accumulates to a very pricey amount. As such the mine enforces a rule that before leaving the workers must brush off their shoes and the gold specks are collected. He also told them that the sidewalks get ripped up every year or so and the gold flakes are taken from there as well. This all seems very strange and pointless when you think about the giant gold chunks that are getting dug up in the mine, but believe it or not the mines greatest profits come from the little flakes they collect. Who would have thought?! So yeah, the little things count! Don't underestimate the effect they can have on you and your eternal happiness. Always pray! All the time! If there is anything that has helped me to gain a closer and more intimate relationship with my Father in Heaven, it has been through sincerely praying to Him. I know that God loves me and that He loves all of His children here on earth. 

Welp that's all for now! love you all! and thanks again to all those who wrote me this week- friends and family thank you all sooo much!

(Sister Hamstead)
ps- so a lot of people have a hard timw with my name. I have gotten things like: Sister Hammer, Hamster, Hammy, Abrahammy (that one's from sister Jones), and my very favorite Plumstead! haha :)

To Papa:
Hi Papa!! Thank you so much for your email! It makes me so happy to hear from you all. I wrote more letters home this week so you all should be getting them either tomorrow or Saturday. Thank you so much for that blessing. It's funny you should even bring up having faith, hope, and charity because I have been praying that I might be able to have those more in my life. As my companion and I have been striving to teach our "investigators" I have come to see how crucial it is to have Christ like love for these people. If you don't love them the way that He loves them, then you cannot teach them the way that He would teach them. So thank you for blessing me with this. I know that if I am faithful to the Lord that I can count on those blessings to see me through. I went to the temple this morning and it was wonderful. I feel like I found so much more symbolism this time. I love that about the temple- I have a different and unique learning experience literally every time I go! I love it :) When I was in the temple I read in Matthew about when Jesus cursed the fig tree. Then they walk by it either later that day or the next day and it was all dried up. Then Jesus goes on to say something like, anything can be done with faith. If you tell a mountain to move, it will move... 

Well anyways, I love you Papa! Hope all is going well with the business and home and seminary! Love you!
Kelsey xoxoxox

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Dearest Family...

I love you all sooo much!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind and inspiring letters!  I love that I get to be out here representing all of you.  I'm starting to get the hang of being called Sister Hamstead - it makes me feel like you guys are all here with me!  I'm sorry I haven't had time to write back individual letters yet - they weren't kidding when they said the MTC keeps you busy!   But I promise you Abby, Christopher, Eugenie, David, and Papa I will respond!  Mommy, thank you so much for your DearElder and package/letter!!!  I loved them. : )  Thank you for the picture!!  Soooo exciting for Gabriella!! Oh, and Papa,  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I will tell you Happy B-Day in my email tomorrow as well, but I just wanted to let you know I celebrated your B-Day here at the MTC - it was wonderful!  We watched "Music and the Spoken Word", had a great RS lesson, super spiritual sacrament meeting, choir practice (Yes, I joined the choir - I love it!), an amazing fireside by...can't remember his name - but it was good!  Oh!  Also, we as a District got to walk up to the temple and take pics and then after the fireside we had "movie night" and we watched Elder Hollands talk "Missions are Forever".  I LOVED IT!  One quote I loved was, "Go out there and make this part of your soul.  Put yourself with Isaiah, Alma, Amulek, Paul, Peter, and all the others ordained of God."  It is such an amazing honor to be a missionary of the Lord.  I see why people are sad when they get released from being a missionary.  It seriously feels so incredible knowing you are doing something so amazingly life changing for the Lord.  This is His work and I love being a part of it.  I want to wake up every day happy to be here and go to bed grateful for the day.  I love you family so much!  I know this work is going to be hard - it was hard for the Lord, why would it not be hard for me?  Well, I will write you all more tomorrow!  YAY P-Day!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why I'm here...

Family!!!! I love you guys!!! Thank you so much to everyone for writing me!!! They have just made me soo happy :) So the MTC is... AWESOME! I feel like I have been here for a month already, though it has only been one week. There have been so many incredible experiences, I don't even know where to start! My district is amazing! we are all basically best friends now. I love it! It is sad when the elders and sisters leave, but it's a good reality check. Oh really cool news! So as temple Visitors center missionaries we will be at the MTC for 4 weeks. The last week we get to go down to temple square to train at the visitors center there! I can't wait! I am just soo happy to be here! I have decided that I am going to love every single day of my mission no matter what. I am just so grateful to be here! Gosh I just love this gospel! Missionary work is incredible! I still haven't met any other girls going to my mission yet, but it's all good :) K so one thing about the MTC. people sing. ALL THE TIME. Josh Jones described it to me before as being like the Mormon version of high school musical. he was not kidding! haha but it really is great. I can't believe how much I have learned in just one week! It is incredibly humbling! The spirit is so strong here! Also I have loved running into people I worked with in the cafeteria. so fun! So yesterday at dinner President Brown came and sat next to me and my companions. It was really cool and we got to talk to him about what we love about the Book of Mormon, etc. It was really sweet :) So since being here I have had to repeatedly tell my story of why I am here on a mission. I'm sure I have shared it with you all before, but I will tell you again anyways. It all started many years ago. I remember Papa telling us all as kids how amazing his mission was and how he wanted us all to go on missions one day. Well I kept that in the back of my mind over the years, but what really got me to commit to go on a mission- besides the amazing examples of good friends who have chosen to serve, was gaining my own personal testimony of the Book of Mormon. I have grown up believing the Book of Mormon is true, but there was one day last summer when I was praying to know if a mission was right for me- testament that God answers prayers- and I got my answer at institute that night. I don't know exactly what was said, but I do remember how I felt. All of the sudden everything became clear. I didn't have to believe anymore, because I knew. At that precise moment I knew that I was supposed to serve a mission. Gaining a true and personal testimony of the Book of Mormon has changed my life. For those who have not yet had an opportunity to read that amazing book, GO READ IT! Start by reading the introduction page and then just dive in! It doesn't even really matter where you begin. I promise you that if you read the Book of Mormon with true intent and pray to your Father in Heaven to know if it is true, you will receive a confirmation from the spirit testifying to you that it is true. One of my greatest regrets at this time is not having shared this knowledge that has brought me so much happiness in this life with all those I know. I have come so much closer to Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. It is the doctrine of Christ. He loves us and knows our needs.
I love this gospel! I love you all!
Till next week!

Kelsey :)

ps- i haven't been homesick at all! i've been too busy being happy to even consider feeling sad :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

My First Day in the MTC - Wednesday, Sept. 5th

My Dearest Family,

Well, I did it!  I've arrived at the MTC and survived my first day!  Not so bad!  Also my P-Day is on Thursday so you won't be able to get an email from me till next week.  I love you guys so much!  My companion is Sis. Jones - she kinda reminds me of my friend Haley, so we get along!  She is going to the Hawaii Temple Visitors Center...soooo cool!!! My 2 other roommates are going to the Idaho Falls Temple Visitors Center.  So I haven't met anybody going to my mission yet.  

The 1st day has been a bit of an adjustment, but it's super fun!  Everybody's just so happy and excited - it's contagious!  I already feel like I have learned alot, which I know everybody says, but I mean it!  I'ts so awesome!  I thought I was going on a mission to teach, but really I am the one that's being taught.  Tomorrow morning my comp and I are going to a yoga class!!!  Yayyy!! She's super healthy so I'm hoping I can learn from her.  I love you all sooo much!!!  Thank you so much for supporting me.


p.s.  I have a name tag!!! AHHH!!! I'm official!!! Can't wait to email you next Thursday.