Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Calling it quits on Away in a Manger...

Dear Family,

Skyping with the Family
Hello!!!! It was so amazing skyping with you guys yesterday!!!!! What a blessing!!! I love you all soo much. I hope you know that and that you can feel the love I have for you all through my letters and emails. Words really just can't describe how grateful I am for all of you. I would not be here without you. So thank you for everything. It's amazing how family works, I haven't seen or talked to you guys in a few months, but it still just felt the same. We all just slipped back into place :) Eugenie's announcement is sooooo cute! I approve :) Sammm!!!!! I am soooo happy that you are going on a mission!! holy cow!!!!!! Yayayayayayayyyy I am writing you a letter today :)

Christmas PJ's and Presents
After Christmas Dinner
So the best part of my Christmas day besides talking to all of you was going and visiting families. We went to families who are having family troubles, struggling with life, less actives, potential investigators, and part member families. We went in and shared scriptures about our Savior Jesus Christ and bore testimony that He lives. That is what brought me the greatest happiness. It is so interesting to see how the mission is changing me and my views. The family my companion and I live with invited us to come up and have Christmas morning with them. It was really sweet of them, but it was really weird at the same time. This whole Christmas season I have been blessed to be working at the visitors center and just be testifying up and down of Jesus Christ and what we can give to Him this season. It is so interesting  how the world has taken this holiday celebrating the birth of our Savior and made it into something kind of selfish and materialistic. I just felt kind of out of it. I don't know I feel like I want to find a new way to celebrate Christmas instead of sitting around a tree ripping open packages. And sorry I'm really speaking my mind right now- everyone has their right to celebrate Christmas in any way that they want, but I am going to make a more conscious effort to give gifts for the Savior. To be more like Jesus Christ, and to go out of my way to help people feel the love that the Savior has for each of them. So anyways, after eating dinner with a member family we went back to the VC for Christmas night! We had so many miracles! We had about 50 people come in and have a desire to change their lives, to meet with missionaries, and learn more about how they can follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Our Sister missionary choir sang at the concert last night! It was really cool! And remember my comp form the MTC- sister Valladares from Honduras? She sang a solo and ya the whole program was really cool! Last night was the last night for concerts and all of the rest of the Christmas stuff will just be up till January 1st. 

So I have an embarrassing funny story. Sister Marand and I went caroling Christmas eve with our district. It was super fun! But anyways, so we went and stopped by this one less active families home and I picked to sing Away in a Manger.... I started everyone off, and it only took about 10 seconds into the song before I realized that I had no idea what I was singing. Seriously I was just making stuff up! But, everybody just kept following my lead! hahaha So yeah we only sang one verse of that song and called it quits on away in a manger haha oh boy... So ya caroling was fun! Also Sister Marand and I had a really cool experience contacting a referral this week. The referral came from a member at the visitors center for his friends. So we went over to see them- Sister Marand and Sister Gordon (previous comp) had already gone and seen her once and told her that her friend Bob had referred them. She seemed kind of confused and asked who.. They repeated the name again, and the lady then went on to tell them that Bob had just died the night before from a heart attack. woah.- Anyways so we go back over to talk to her again and to see if we can get a return appointment. We were just planning on sharing a little message, but the spirit was just so strong when were talking with her and we ended up teaching her the whole first lesson! She wants us to come back and teach her and her whole family! We are going back over next week :) 

Anyways, wow I can't believe Jody is home!!!! Those 2 years just flew by!!! Tell him to write me! I want to hear all about his awesome mission! 

I love you all sooo much! I can't believe I have less than one week with Sister Marand before she goes back to Temple Square! Ah I have no idea what's going to happen to me! But it will be good. I have learned that change is a good thing. In just one week of being in this new area I feel like I have learned so much and been stretched. 

I love you all soooo much!!
Sister Hamstead

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Surprise - I'm getting Transferred!

The Mesa Temple VC Sisters
FAMILY!!!!  Hello! I love you all!!! Sooo where to start. So so so so much has happened this past week!! On Tuesday we got to go on the temple excursion with half of the mission and that was incredible!!! So many missionaries in the temple all at once. President Ellsworth, Sister Ellsworth, and the temple president all spoke to us :) That was an incredible day! I am so blessed to have a temple in my mission that I get to attend regularly. Also being on the temple grounds every day is a huge blessing that I am grateful for everyday. I feel like my batteries get recharged when I'm there. I get re-motivated and even more determined. I love the temple! And the visitors center too! One day you all can come see it and then you'll understand why I love it so much.

Papa I am soo sorry I didn't have time to write you back this last week! I have been so extremely crazy busy! More than normal! But I absolutely loved your letter. It is interesting how the things you write me always seem to go along with what I am learning that week. In our district meeting this past Wednesday we did a really cool object lesson. So we all took 5 sticky notes and on each we wrote our 5 greatest blessings in our lives. Elder Kiene (district leader) then told us to pick one blessing that we think we could live without, and then rip it up. Kind of sad, but I still had 4 other great blessings so it was all good. Then he again told us to pick another blessing, and then another until we were down to the last 2 greatest blessings. My two sticky notes left had my family written on one and the other had the gospel of Jesus Christ. I took the sticky note in my hand and I tore it up. All I had left was one sticky note and it was the gospel of Jesus Christ. The spirit was so strong when we did this lesson and we were all on the verge of tears. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what makes everything and anything in this life wether it be family, friends, whatever it may be- meaningful. Without the gospel of Jesus Christ our family would not be together forever. None of us would be forgiven of our sins or be able to overcome death. Life would have no purpose and I would be very sad! I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ! Sometimes it feels like that's all I have out here anyways, and even though thats all I've got- I have enough. I know everything will be alright. I trust in Jesus Christ and in His atonement. Everything that is unfair or just wrong that has happened or happens in this life will be made right through Him. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ- without Him I am nothing. But anyways, I will make sure I write you back this week!

So, we had a super cool experience this last Saturday. Our zone had set a goal that every companionship would find a new investigator on that day. Well... Sister Shurtz just got called as the new VC trainer and on that day she was scheduled to make what we call the beast- the huge vc schedule for this next transfer. Also Sister Lewis and I were scheduled that day from 10-2. Also we were scheduled to go back to the visitors center that night to walk around the grounds to greet people and invite them into the vc. So, we had limited time in our area- BUT, we had faith that Heavenly Father would provide a way! Oh also we had to drop off our progress records off to our 5 ward mission leaders which are spread out throughout our area. So, we prayed really hard. The beast took a little longer to finish up than we had planned so we didn't end up leaving the vc until about 3:30. We ran out to the car, quickly delivered our progress records and talked to everyone we met along the way, but still no new investigator, BUT we were not discouraged. ALSO, to add to this fun day it was also one of the coldest days we have had AND it was raining! haha! It was so much fun! we were determined to find our new investigator and darted out of the car everytime we saw somebody on the street. We contacted referrals, potentials, and former investigators, and still no new investigator. At this time our zone leaders gave us a call and said they were going to come help us in our area. Blessing! So they went over to one of the apartment complexes in our area and we continued our search. It was starting to get dark now and we were down to about 30 more minutes left in our area. Our last hope for the night was to go try to contact this part member family. We were worried because the wife- who is a member- told us her husband isn't home in the evening- but, we went anyways. We knocked on the door and used the good old excuse of can we use your bathroom to get in the door- works every time!;) I also think it helped that we were basically soaked and shivering haha. Anyways, so we go in and share a message on our Savior Jesus Christ and invited Bruce (the nonmember husband) and the 2 nonmember grandparents that also live there to meet with us again. They said yes and we set our return appt. date for the next day! We got 3 new investigators!!!! Miracles!! Also we then went back out to the car and checked our phone. We had a voicemail from the zone leaders. They found us a new investigator as well!!!!! So we got 4 new investigators!!! Sooo amazing! As a zone we got a total of 22 new investigators!! Such a cool day :)

Superstition Mountain
So... I have transfer news... transfers end on Wednesday annnndddd.... The terrific trio is being split up!! I am being transferred to the "superstition zone" (called this because it's at the base of the Superstition mountains) and I will be the designated driver, senior companion, AND my companion will be sister Marrand (Ma-hown- she's from France ) who is a temple square sister who is going back to slc on January 1st. Who will be my companion when she leaves? Good question haha Everyone is telling me I will probably get a visa waiter or another temple square sister. So I have 2 weeks to learn the area, which is huge btw- i will have less wards though. Only 4! haha But Sister Marrand has only been in the area herself for 1 transfer and then once she leaves- the day after christmas lights ends- I will be going full field! Meaning I will be a full proselyting missionary for this transfer and will not have any scheduled shifts at the vc! Oh my goodness soooo many changes! I will basically be training and kind of white washing! I am super excited, but also kind of really nervous. Please keep praying for me!! As for Christmas day I am not exactly sure on times or anything yet for skype, but I will have somebody call you guys with the details. Keep an eye out for an Arizona number! :)

MOM CONGRATS ON PASSING YOUR TEST!!!!!! I knew you could do it! The decorations look sooo pretty!! I love Christmas time! I wish you could see our cute apartment all decorated. I love it! Life is so so good :) awww sad gma lynne can't come for Christmas  That will be sweet with gma Cherie though! Man she is doing a lot of traveling these days! Eugenie always sings beautifully, so no surprise there! Yay go family! Ah! So on Saturday morning I was doing my shift at the vc and there were soooo many weddings going on and then I remembered Adrienne was getting married that day!!! So I kind of felt like I got to participate in all the wedding excitement a bit :) CONGRATS ADRIANNE!!!!!! Weird everybody is growing up! and ANDREA MURRAY I am soooo excited for you!!! Write me with your wedding/life details!! Soooo sorry to everyone for being such a slow writer lately! Once I go full field I will have more time to write everyone. I forgot my camera so I will be sending pics tonight! I love you all sooooo much!!!! Till next week!

Sister Hamstead
Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

He is aware of my many unexpected Visitors!

My Dear Family,

Hello!! I hope you all have had a great week! I know I sure have! Oh my goodness where to even start. I had so many unexpected visitors this week it was amazing! holy cow! I know Heavenly Father is aware of my needs and I think that is why He is being so generous and giving me tons of visitors, because He knows how hard it would be for me to be away from all of you without a little reminder of home here and there :) So I am just going to go through my week day by dayish:

So on Monday I was talking to this family at the visitors center and they told me they go down to Atlanta a lot on business. We got talking about the temple down there and I told them that if they ever go do a session on a Thursday night to keep a look out for a little British man. Then the dad made a funny face and said he had gone to the temple on a Thursday night, that it was a very small session, and that he had met Papa! What a small world! Just another tender mercy reminding me that I'm never too far from those I love :) His name was Brother Stark I think... He said he had gone about a month ago. Do you remember him Papa?

On to Tuesday. One of the VC trainers asked me to go with her to train the host couples that were coming in for the night to walk around the grounds and invite people to come into the visitors center. So since I was out doing the training with her during prep meeting I had missed the announcement of all of the sisters posts for the night. When we came back inside I was informed that Sister Fors (sweet Espanol speaking sister from Cali) would be on the outside greet for our first post and that we would be announcing the concert that night. Oh gosh I was soo nervous! So of course when you are dreading something it always seems that time just flies by- and that is exactly what happened! Before I knew it, it was time to go and announce the concert and I hadn't even gotten a chance to look over the script. So I quickly went into the back and practiced it a few times with Sister Lewis and then it was time to go. I told everyone to pray for me haha. The crowd was pretty big that night- we had a local high school choir preforming. The lady in charge of putting on the concerts first got up and welcomed everyone. She then announced who would be saying the opening prayer and.... he didn't show up. So, the lady then comes down off the stage and told me I would be saying it. Ya know one great thing about missions is that they teach you to just go. you just do it. Just get up there and preform. So she announced that I would be saying the prayer instead. haha So I say the prayer and then Sister Fors comes and joins me and I introduce the concert/invite to the visitors center in English and Sister Fors does the same in Spanish  (speaking of Spanish  I have been trying to learn some! The Spanish speaking sisters tell me i'm doing pretty good :) Anyways, so that whole experience was really cool, and I really am grateful that she asked me to say the prayer because it made me feel peaceful and it took away my nervousness. So after the concert we all go back in the visitors center and guess who I meet? Samantha Coffey's cousins  yayy I finally met the Coffey clan! haha they were soo sweet and said they would come back and visit me again. They even asked me what I wanted for Christmas  People are so nice:) So that was super cool.

Then onto Wednesday- let me just say that although Christmas lights basically take over my life right now, Sister Sshurtz, Lewis  and I are dedicated to working super hard in our area when have time there. We said 12 prayers this week with nonmembers that we met on the street! Normally our district averages maybe 5 a week. We are setting new records! :)- I was determined to find prepared people in the visitors center on Wednesday night. I prayed really hard for them. And they came! One of them was one that I got to personally talk to and she was a sweet 16 year old girl. Her friend is a member and brought her into the vc. The other came from a sweet girl I got to testify to at the end of God's plan for the family. Life is just so good! and so incredibly busy! So during the last hour of our shift (9-10)  I saw a couple talking on the other side of the room. So I went over to talk to them and found out they were looking for me! Another visitor! :) I can't remember their names, but I guess Bro Coffey told them to come and see me since they were at the lights. haha Thanks Brother Coffey! :) They used to live in the old Alpharetta ward and now they live in Texas. It was so cool! Oh another random side note, I think it was this last Sunday night- not yesterday- I had another visitor. He was the brother and his family of one of my roommates from back at ByU-I! Tiffany Galovich :D It was so cool! Who knew I would meet so many people in Mesa! Strangely small world. Also I was told my old piano teacher came in looking for me the other day- I'm guessing Sarah Ray? I keep missing her though! darn! 

I honestly can't remember what happened on Thursday, but I'm sure it was amazing and inspiring just like all of the other days of the week. 

So onto Friday. I was dreading Friday because my companions insisted that we go on triple splits. I totally felt inadequate and was just really nervous that I would let them down. Also you know how directionally challenged I am... I am still working on figuring out the area! Well the time came and Sister Shurtz said it would all be fine and told me I could go with the Sister from our YSA ward who is an RM. So I went for it. We go to the parking lot. Bridget- an 18 year old pre-missionary was the first to show up and when Sister Shurtz told her she would be going with Sister Lewis... Well Sister Lewis really wanted to go with the RM. So I let her have her and decided to be brave and go with Bridget. I really had to step up my game and be the leader. It ended up being an amazing experience! It showed me that although I am weak and new and hardly know what I am doing- if I put my trust in the Lord and show Him that I am willing to do hard things, He always makes up the difference. reminds me of what that guy from p90x always says, "Do your best and forget the rest". I live by that out here. Bridget and I got 2 new potential investigators, contacted referrals, visited 2 less active families, talked to EVERYONE, and said prayers with 3 nonmembers. Who would have thought a premie and a greenie would make such a great team! One thing I am learning a lot out here on the mission is that if what your doing is hard, then it's probably good for you. You just have to keep going! So that was our great Friday. 

Saturday... again can't really remember. Oh! I do remember one thing from Saturday. I was talking to this sweet little nonmember man at the vc from Germany. It was so cool testifying to him about the Book of Mormon because you could tell he just got it. He then stopped me and gave me a really sweet compliment. He told me that I speak with my eyes. I just thought that was really sweet- and no worries this man was 80 years old, and he now is going to be meeting with missionaries!! :D So cool.

So onto Sunday- the busiest day of the week! For missionaries it is not the day of rest haha So we only ended up going to one hour of church on Sunday because we had soo many meetings and appointments. I can't remember if I told you all this before, but a few weeks ago we taught a lesson in high priests about using Preach my Gospel. Then yesterday we taught the lesson in Elders quorum on Preach my Gospel as well. It was really cool! So then that night guess who my companion at the vc was... HERMANA SHWARTZ! yayyyyy team Georgia! We were so  happy to finally be companions. we set some high goals for ourselves that night and we were determined to work hard. We saw so many miracles! I love Sundays :) So the visitors I saw Yesterday were: Sister Coppel! awww that made me so happy! I felt bad though because it was incredibly busy last night so I didn't really have a ton of time to talk. Oh on Saturday night we had 6,000 visitors and I'm guessing last night was even more than that! So my other visitor that night... Sister Collins!!!!!! as in Lauren Collins!!!!!! ahhh!!!!! She came with some investigators to the vc :) It was soooo cool to see her there as a missionary! We are both missionaries! It was just a really weird/cool moment. Then we had to be dignified again and go back to work haha but it was just sooo cool! :) I just feel so blessed. Heavenly Father must really love me because He keeps putting so many amazingly wonderful people in my life. I am so blessed, and I really don't deserve it. I am just so happy! Also, Hermana Shwartz and I beat our goals for the night! Georgia pride :D 

Anyways, thanks for all of your letters this week!!  I will write back asap! another hard thing about Christmas lights is that our pday gets shortened by about 4 hours... so it may take me a little longer than normal to write back, but I promise I will! Mom good luck on your test! I will definitely pray for you!!! keep up the good studying! Oh my yes thank you sooo much for the package!! I will send you pics of our cute apartment :)

Unfortunately it won't let me look at your pic of the xmas card! I guess I'll just have to see it when it comes in the mail :) Mom thank you for always taking the time to write me all of the updates from life back home! I love hearing what's going on in everyone's lives :) You all are the best! Love you all soooo much! I pray every morning and every night and every moment in between for all of you! You are all so precious to me.

I love you all!!!!!
Sister Hamstead

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jesus got baptized!!!

So this week was AMAZING!!!! All of it, but especially this past weekend when Jesus got baptized!!!!!! Holy cow soo amazing! The baptism was amazing and the spirit was so strong! I totally started crying and ya I was just a big baby :) haha Then on Sunday Jesus was confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Family, I don't even know what to write because so many amazing and exciting things are happening all the time!! I can barely keep up! I am going to send pics from the baptism. Oh! Something really sweet, so we had never talked to Jesus about serving a mission but then out of nowhere after his baptism - which I seriously can not even stress enough was one of the greatest experiences of my life - he started telling us that he thinks he's going to go on his mission to China... we told him that was really cool and then asked him why. He is so funny, he told us he had been going to Panda Express a lot lately and one of the fortune cookies he got told him he would go to China! haha! Jesus would be the best missionary ever! Then when we had to sneak out of Sacrament meeting yesterday after he got confirmed (had to go to our shift at the VC), he pulled us over for a minute and told us he had a really cool story to tell us. So apparently Jesus was just walking down the street after his baptism and he found a $20.00 bill on the ground. He was soo happy because he really wanted to pay tithing and fast offering, but he is living with his aunt and literally has no income right now. He then told us he was so excited to give what he could to the Lord that he just went ahead and donated the whole thing! That was a huge sacrifice for him, but he did it happily! It wasn't even a question or an issue! He was happy to give everything he had to the Lord. I am learning so much from this kid! That's the coolest thing about being a missionary. You may be teaching people, but really they are teaching you. I am learning so much! I just hope I can hold onto everything I am learning! Life is just so good :) 

So a cool miracle that happened at the Visitors Center this week: So I was on the float position on a really busy night and I was kind of overwhelmed so I just started talking to everyone. I then met this group of about 6 or 7 high school kids that came in. One of their friends that they brought was a nonmember and he was really open and nice, but he wasn't taking anything seriously. I then asked one of the guys to share why he decided to serve a mission (my favorite stories!) and the spirit was so strong! Everybody in the group was silent and I then testified of the importance of missionary work. I asked the kids if they had any missionary experiences with their friends or if they had any friends that they would like for me to call to talk to about the gospel. This was when the friend started to speak up. He shared some of his concerns that he had with our faith and mentioned some inaccurate facts that he had been told from interesting sources. You could tell his friends were becoming uncomfortable, but I was not going to back down until he heard my testimony. I knew that I needed to testify to him of The Book of Mormon. So I did! Oh my gosh it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had! I helped him to see that his real question truly is whether or not The Book of Mormon is true. If he (we, anybody!) would read The Book of Mormon and ask God to know if it is true I testified that he would get an answer that it is. i told him that none of that other stuff - all rubbish as papa would say - even matters when you know that The Book of Mormon is true because: if you know the book of Mormon is true then you know that Joseph Smith is a prophet called of God. If the Book of Mormon is true then Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. If the Book of Mormon is true then this is Jesus Christ's church fully restored here on the earth today. I then invited him to be baptized. When he came to know that this is true, and he said yes! It was such an incredibly cool experience! The Book of Mormon is such a powerful tool that we do not use enough! I am so grateful that I was raised in a home where we read the scriptures together and where I was taught these simple truths. I love testifying of The Book of Mormon it is probably one of my most favorite things to do :) Anyways, so back to the kid, he filled out a referral card and I am going to be giving him a call in about a week :) Pray for him! I am just so grateful! So, So, sooo grateful! I can't even express how grateful I am to have been raised by good righteous parents that raised me in the gospel. You guys are the best!!!!


Sister Hamstead

Christopher- learn the lessons of Preach my Gospel, go on splits with the missionaries, go to lessons with the missionaries (the presence of a member is really important and you can drive which is a plus- offer your services!) read the Book of Mormon and take the test- read it to know and pray about it. Ask yourself why you are going on a mission- more than because it's what you're supposed to do. You will need to know this when times get tough out in the field- which they do. But if you are working hard and doing your best work because you love the Savior Jesus Christ, then you will be happy :) In my mission we all memorize a quote from Preach my Gospel on pg.121 about work. go read it and apply it! I am sooo excited for you!!!!! Oh my mummsy don't worry - you are going to be so incredibly blessed for having two missionaries :) Just be sure you are taking care of those sweet missionaries serving back home! They need all the help they can get! Find referrals for them and give them service projects. They love that!  love you guys!!!!!!!!