Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where do we draw the line?

A True Super-Hero!
So this week has been... I can't think of one word to describe it! It was hard, it was tiring, it was exciting, it was motivating. I guess in all I feel like I learned a lot this week about what I want out of life, but more importantly about how to get there. Gosh you guys are just so important to me! I want to always be near you all. I am grateful, so incredibly grateful to know that we will be together for eternity. So some interesting things happened this week. The strangest of them all is that I met a relative. A somewhat distant relative, but none the less we are related. And guess how we met?. On the phone! So his name is Gaylin Coates and Lloyd was his uncle!! So I guess he is papa's cousin? You guys should look him up! So anyways we met when he called into the visitors center wanting to reserve a theater for the ysa in his ward- he is the bishop of a ysa ward over inTempe. So anyways yeah I happened to be the one who answered the phone and he recognized the name Hamstead haha he said no one can ever forget that name ;) True though it made me happy. Anyways so then his HUGE group came in Monday night and I got to meet him and his wife! He also then asked if I would start their meeting for them and it was just really cool! When you start a movie for a group you first go in and introduce the movie, give out the referral cards, and invite them to pray about a name of a friend or family member that could use this message in their lives. Then when the movie is over you go back and close the movie with your testimony and collect referrals. Three referrals were given by the group! What a miracle! I have such a testimony of member referrals. It has been such a blessing and opportunity to be able to call the friends and family members of these people who come into the visitors center. I have seen so many miracles as I have been able to call these people and talk to them about the gospel :) Also this week we were given another miracle and his name is Jesus :) haha he is the absolute sweetest and he literally fell into our laps! What a blessing. He is looking for peace and because his heart is open he feels that what we are teaching him is true. I love this! He is a blessing in my life- along with all the other people I have met. I just know that God prepares His children. Anyways another experience from this week- a kind of sad and not so pleasant one. We are meeting with this sweet old man named Jerry- not the Jerry from Mesa that was mentioned in conference haha anyways he wants to become active in the church again and is trying hard to change his life. The other day we felt impressed to talk to him about the word of wisdom. When we brought it up he said he is not willing to quit drinking coffee. We talked about this for a while. In fact it was a REALLY long while because Jerry likes to talk a lot! haha but we just left him with the commitment to pray about it and to ask God if this is what He wants him to do. Jerry says he doesn't want to go to the temple because he knows he's not worthy of it right now, but none the less he is not willing to change. So sad!! It made me think about that story in the bible where the rich guy wants to follow Jesus and so he asks Jesus what he should do. Jesus then tells him to get rid of his riches and follow Him (sorry for the very rough- kelsey speaks to modern times translation haha) but really though, what are we willing to give up? Where have we drawn the line? Are we going to say to Heavenly Father I love you, but not that much? Is a cup of coffee all it takes to keep us from allowing ourselves to experience eternal happiness? I sure hope not! Lets erase that line and get rid of any breaking point. Let's all be willing to give it all! One thing sister Anderson says that I really love is, "The best decision you can ever make is to give something up that you love to the God you love more." AMEN! It is so sad sometimes for me to be away from you guys because I love you all soo much, but I love God more. I know that He will give us blessings - He has promised us eternal life together as families! I trust His word and I know we will be together forever :) 

Oh you guys all need to go make mormon.org profiles! That is your homework :) I was a slacker and didn't make one before my mission, but I am working on it now. I am giving a talk in district meeting on Tuesday on our purpose as missionaries and how we can stay focused. Yay! So last night my companions and I went to a YSA halloween dance with our little less active friend. Her name is Lu, she's Russian, and super sweet! But it was sooooo weird being there! Ah! I majorly had to restrain myself from singing and dancing, but I did it :)
Anyways I love you all sooo much!!!!!

Love, Kelsey
Sister Hamstead

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Choosing to be Happy! : )

So I am going to type a little message/lesson I learned this week. It is so simple and I feel like Heavenly Father has taught me this lesson about a million plus times, but it really sunk in this time. So I was studying in 1 Nephi, I can't remember the exact chapter. I will look it up...ok it is 1 Nepi 17:21 and really it starts a few verses before that, but what is happening is Laman and Lemuel are going on with their usual rant of complaints and what not- all woe is me, ya know. So anyways they then go on in verse 21 and they said something that really did not sit well with me. They said "we might have been happy". That just made me so sad. Laman and Lemuel didn't get it. They are missing the point and purpose of everything. Sometimes in my life I know that I have been like Laman and Lemuel and have said maybe if I was like this then I would be happy, or maybe if I looked like that, or even on the mission maybe if I had more baptisms, or if I was teaching more prepared people- then I would be happy. This is sooo wrong! Happiness is a choice and we can not let any outside influence or idea advise us otherwise. President Uchtdorf gave my favorite talk this last general conference (as always) and there were a few things he said that really stuck out to me:
  1. Decide to be happy, no matter your circumstances.
  2. Many regrets of tomorrow can be resolved by following the Savior today. You cannot change the past, but you can direct your future.
  3. The path towards fulfilling who you are is not accomplished in one day- do not wait until the day you die to learn how to live.
Please lets all learn from Laman and Lemuel's sad mistakes and follow the guidance of President Uchtdorf and choose to be happy no matter what. I have noticed an extremely huge difference in my attitude towards people, life, learning, this gospel, everything since being on my mission and I know this is because I have chosen to be happy. 

Another thing I learned this week- in fact just yesterday was the importance of being dedicated and devoted. I heard a really sad story yesterday when I was talking to a man in one of my wards whose son is on a mission. He said that his son is having to deal with a few disobedient missionaries right now. His son was talking to one elder in particular who has been struggling a lot with obedience and has basically lost all desire to be obedient. The disobedient elder made a comment to this man's son and said, "Wake up Elder. Get a life, nobody is watching. You don't have to follow all the rules." Again another case in which this elder just did not get it. The first thing I thought of was wow I feel so sad for his family. They want their son/brother/grandson/uncle/whatever to be the type of missionary that they talk about in the scriptures - motivated by their faith and dedicated to the Lord. I then also thought that if you look at the rest of your life with this type of attitude nobody really is ever watching. You can make the decisions you want, but you will still have to suffer the consequences no matter if somebody is watching or not. Who would have thought I would be learning so many life lessons out here on the mission! I love it! I love life! I love you all so much and I do miss you all, but I am so grateful to be here. I know that God has a plan for all of us and I know that this is His plan for me. Life is oh so good :) 

I love you all!!!
Sister Hamstead
Hmmm...Naughty or Nice Halloween Costumes. So glad Kelsey  chose NICE! : )

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

So many miracles...

Wow this week has been awesome!!! Yes I saw Ashley! She surprised me and I was sooo happy!! I love seeing familiar faces :) Also I saw Sister Shwartz at our Visitors Center Training meeting on Friday. Yayy Georgia people!  I love you all sooo much! So to answer your questions:

My Companions are awesome! It's crazy because we are all like on different ends of the spectrum. Sister Anderson leaves at the end of this transfer, Sister Shirtz just hit her year mark, and then there's me - super duper fresh little greeny haha but I love it!  I am learning so much, and I do admit that sometimes I do feel like I am just treading water and barely keeping my head above the surface, but it's all good :) I honestly haven't felt stressed or anything negative like that. It's an adventure and I have loved every minute of it! I am also learning from my companions what type of missionary I want to be. It really is all about attitude and how much you are willing to put in. I think it has been an easier transition for me because I came out here wanting to change. I want to leave behind the old me and just become a better person. I love serving a mission! I have learned so many lessons that I will be able to apply for the rest of my life. So funny thing about one of my companions... she sleep talks. literally full on conversations at like 2 am. One night she jumped out of bed around 12:30, turned on the light and then yelled good morning! I wanted to kill her haha then she apologized and went back to bed. Another night she thought it was time to wake up so she began to kneel down by the side of the bed (she sleeps on the top bunk and I am on the lower bunk). Needless to say there was a huge crashing sound and my companion had landed on her knees on the floor! Luckily she wasn't hurt, but Sister Anderson and I were freaking out haha It was soo funny! 

Visitors Center: I love the visitors center. LOVE. I was called to this mission because of the Visitors Center. I have seen so many miracles there! The spirit is so amazing there and I am just totally comfortable walking up to people and talking to them. It's weird, but I like it. I have met so many amazing people and learned so much from all who come in. 

Sundays: This is probably the craziest day of the week. 5 wards people. 5! Yesterday we only went to 2 of the wards since we still have a visitors center shift on Sundays. We went to one ward council at 7:30 then we had church at 8:30. The less active member we have been meeting with came! I love her! Her name is Virginia and she's had a rough life do to some past choices she made, but she is trying to make things right. We started meeting with her friend Lucy and had invited her to church as well. We were bummed when Lucy didn't come to church. But anyways, after that ward we had ysa ward council and a meeting with the ysa mission leader. I love ysa!! Seriously so much fun! Then we went back to our apartment for a little break and then went to the ysa ward. So great! I felt like I was back in Georgia! I just kept imagining all of our singles ward people there and it made me miss Eugenie! I am so glad that we got to go to singles ward together for a little while :) SO THEN, Sunday started getting kind of interesting. We were fasting with one of our less actives and we got a text from him saying he forgot to fast. ah! How can people expect to change/see progress if they don't put in the work? So that kind of stunk. Then we called Robert- our baptism this saturday and just felt like we needed to go to his house and talk with his parents before we went to our dinner appointment. So we are talking to his parents and it turns out that they are not as supportive about Robert taking the lessons as we thought they were. They don't want him to get baptized. nooo!! So sad. This boy has one of the strongest testimonies for a 16 year old boy. He just finished reading the Book of Mormon and he just wants to get baptized so badly! Last time we met with him he said he wants to serve a mission! I was seriously discouraged. Kinda devastated really. So we leave and go to our dinner appointment at this less active Tongan family. They were awesome! It was kinda awkward though because the family wasn't eating... they just sat around and watched us eat...Don't ever do that! haha So anyways we are all talking and we have our nice little spiritual thought and then the dad tells us this story about his neighbor. He said that he looks out his window every Sunday morning and sees his neighbor already dressed for church and knocking on the other neighbors doors. One day he asked his neighbor what he was doing and the neighbor told him that he was simply inviting people to come to church with him. He told him he does it every week because it his responsibility to invite. It doesn't matter if they say yes or no, what matters is that he extends the invitation. For some reason that story really touched my heart and I was just filled with so much peace! My job is to invite. People have their agency so they can do what they want with it. I know that God sees our efforts and he knows the intents of our hearts. As long as I am striving to do my very best I know that I will be a successful missionary in the eyes of God. So I put the Robert, Gregg, and Lucy problems behind me and went to my shift at the Visitors Center just full of hope and excitement. I saw miracles at the visitors center. It all started with a little girl named Claire. She came in yesterday with her dad, so I talked to them and got to know them a little bit and then played the Christis for them. Claire is a severely disabled girl with the biggest heart and sweetest smile. She is adopted from Korea and has had to deal with a lot of hard things in her short life. Well anyways we talk some more and they decide they want to watch a movie. Because I have not seen like any of the movies we have at the VC I was allowed to sit in and watch it with them. Afterwards Claire was a little upset because there were some violent scenes in the movie and death and she just didn't like it. Her dad then told me that Claire is very sensitive. He told me about an experience they had the last time they went to the easter pageant. During the scene where the guards were beating Jesus Christ Claire was balling. She then told her dad at the end of the play that she wanted to go talk to one of the soldiers. She then told the soldier, "I don't want you to hurt my friends". As her dad told me this story he began to cry. I can't even believe I am so blessed to have all of these amazing people come into my life. Claire loves people the way that Jesus loves them. I want to learn that lesson from her. I was so touched that this sweet little girl who has had anything but a fair life has so much love and compassion for other people. She feels what they feel. I was just blown away. So this all happened while I was at what we call "front greet"- front desk/greeting area. Then I was moved over to back greet. So right next to back greet is this thing called God's plan for the family. These 3 teenagers came in about 3o minutes into my shift and asked if I could take them through it. I was the only one at the desk so I had to go find someone to fill my spot and as I was walking by them I heard the guy talking. He said that he felt like a sinner being there and that he didn't belong. He had tattoos, smelt strongly of cigarette smoke, and for some reason kind of reminded me of baby Adam Coffey! hahaha i think it's cus they are the same age or something. Anyways, so I find someone and I begin the tour. I tried to focus the whole presentation on the fact that God loves us all no matter what. He wants everyone to experience happiness in this life. So anyways we get to the end of the movie thing and I am just praying that Heavenly Father will help me to know what to say. I honestly don't remember what I said, but I know that I bore my testimony about... everything? I know they were not my words, that is for sure. I do know that I talked about the Book of Mormon and showed a picture of you guys :) We all have these nifty covers on the Book of Mormons that we received from the VC- mine has Sister Hamstead engraved on it:)- anyways everybody puts a pic of their family in the back. So ya, you guys are always with me at the visitors center. yay! So we finish and I invite them to take some pass along cards, etc with them on the way out. We are then all talking and having a great gospel discussion when I all of the sudden get the impression to ask Logan if he wants to meet with missionaries. So I asked him just like that. And he said yes! YYYAAAYYY!!! Unfortunately he is not in my area, but I got his info and sent a message to the missionaries in his area. soo cool!! Oh! also we met with this girl Tracy earlier this week and I invited her to get baptized! She said yes! Unfortunately she is not in our area either! dangit! Oh well. Anyways this week has been amazing. I am learning so much! I cannot even begin to describe to you how much I love being a missionary. I just love it. 

Wooowwwww so much is happening over there! Eugenie!!!!!!!!! Write me. Abby I am sending you a letter today! This is your ultimatum. write me back! I love you all soo muchhh!!!! I am so lucky to have you all as my family! 
Talk to you next week!! 
Sister Hamstead

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hello from Mesa!!!

Kelsey with Pres. and Sister Ellsworth.
Can I just tell you guys that I LOVE it here!!!!!! Mom you seriously have absolutely NOTHING to worry about. I am sooo taken care of! The members are awesome like super stellar and love to help out the missionaries. We have one ward member who takes my district out to lunch every Friday! So sweet! Also we are fed by ward members every single night. Even when we have a shift at the visitors center at dinner time, ward members bring our dinner to us there! I am in heaven. Seriously I can't even begin to describe to you how incredibly blessed I am. Also we live in a beautiful apartment complex. It is basically brand new and super nice! We have a car!!! Alleluia!! The visitors center is my home away from home. I get to go there 7 days a week. I am sooo lucky!! Although I am sad I can't go to the temple every week anymore (but I do get to go once a transfer- so that's a blessing!), the visitors center is on temple grounds and is dedicated so the spirit is just as strong. I love being there. I could stay there all day if I could. I have already seen miracles. My favorite thing about serving in a visitors center is that the people come to you with their questions and then you have all the resources you could possibly need to help them come closer to the Savior Jesus Christ. One of my favorite experiences I had so far happened about 3 days ago. A girl named Taylor (17) and her friend Jorge (15) came into the visitors center. They immediately went and sat by the Christus and you could tell they were loving the spirit there. So my comp (one of them... I have 2! I'll come back to this later though) and I went over to talk to them and by the time we were all done they decided that they wanted to meet with missionaries! The spirit in the Visitors Center touches people's hearts and inspires them to change. Another cool part of working at the visitors center is that we have the call/chat center. So since they are both under 18 I have to contact Taylor's dad to be sure he's on board. Jorge was actually an inactive member, but anyways yeah so miracles happen! So much has happened I really don't even know where to start!

Anyways, so yes I am in a trio. Also we are over 5- yes 5 wards!! One of the wards is a ysa ward though, so i'm super pumped for that! I love it. I love being here! I know this is where I am supposed to be.
Oh my companions names are Sister Anderson and Sister Shurtz. They are amazing and they keep on telling me that I came pretrained. It's because of all of your prayers, I just know it.

Oh my gosh general conference. As you can imagine now being a missionary that general conference was incredibly amazing!! yyyaaayyyy!!!!! I am sooooo glad they changed the ages!! I totally would have gone when I was 19, but I am grateful for the experiences I was able to have before my mission. I know that going to college, transferring schools, working, etc all these things helped prepare me for my mission. I have to tell you though when I heard them lower the age for elders my mind immediately went to Christopher. I personally feel like this is the right time for him. Mom think of all the blessings of having 2 missionaries out at the same time!!!! so cool!!! :D It just makes me soo excited!! Christopher you can do this! This is your time little bro. Go start preparing! I wish that I had gone on more splits with the missionaries before I left and had studied preach my gospel more. you can do this! :) Yayyy we can both be out at the same time! I can't even begin to describe to you how happy this makes me. But of course, it is your choice and you should really think about it and pray about it to know what is right for you. 

Anyways, my companions. They are amazing! I actually love being in a trio for this first transfer. I feel like I am learning so much having 2 different opinions/experiences and personalities. We have so much fun! Oh my gosh I have to tell you about this sweet kid named Robert. He is 16 and had been going to church/dances/hanging out with his member friend Shaun. Members of the church make a difference. In fact they make a huge difference and we as a family need to step it up. There are so many people out there who are ready, but we just assume that they won't want it or need it. This is so wrong! Who are we to judge? We need to help out the missionaries. Invite your friends. Just do it! Allow them to experience the love of God in their lives. They are missing out on the greatest source of happiness and we as members need to stop being selfish and share what we know! Seriously I just wish I could go back in time to high school and beyond and had just been brave enough to open my mouth. That is all it takes. But anyways back to Robert, he is incredible. He was in sacrament meeting one time and he said that he just started crying because he felt the spirit so strong and he knew that he wanted to be baptized. Every time we teach him I feel like he is teaching me. That boy's level of faith is amazing. He is getting baptized in 2 weeks! :) Miracles happen and people are prepared. 

I love you all soooooo much!!!! Thank you for being the very best and amazingly wonderful family ever! I will send pictures next week. Thank you for praying for me. Your prayers are giving me the strength to do thing I never knew I could do before and say things I didn't think I could say. So I thank you.

Love you all!!!

Sister Hamstead