The weekly updates from Sis. Kelsey Hamstead during her 18 month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Mesa, Arizona Temple Visitors Center. ♦ D&C 112:10 "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."
NUMBER ONE: absolutely LOVE the Christmas season. How can you not?? It is funny to me to think of Christmas just being one day because we have been celebrating Christ's birth for over a month now :) I just absolutley love it! Sometimes I feel like the Visitors Center is going to burst because there are just soo many people there!! Last night we had over 8,000!!! It is amazing though.
Ok I am just goign to walk you through the condensed version of my week:
So on Monday we actually had the night off! It was soo good to be in the area and to have some time to just go and visit people! Man I just feel so bad because I can feel that one of our wards is being neglected, but we just don't have the time to do it all!
Wow this was a day of miracles. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. We are seeing miracles because of them. Please keep them coming our way! So this was a huge day in Tanya's life. She called us up and told us that she really needs help and that she wants what all of us have. She wants that peace and happiness in her life and she knows it will only come through keeping the commandments. So we went over and we had an amazing lesson all about Jesus Christ and His purpose in our lives. We talked about His atonement and the hope that it has brought to all of us knowing that we CAN change. Since that lesson Tanya has just completely changed!! She has not had a sip of alcohol for a week (and man what a difference that has made!! She is a completely different person and she feels the spirit so much more now!!) and she stopped smoking yesterday. She really wants this not only for herself but for her kids too. I love seeing peoples lives change. It truly is a Christmas miracle. She has also gone to church 3 times now so all she has to do is live the word of wisdom for 3 weeks and she can be baptized!! Man what a dramatic crazy roller coaster this has been! But one thing I have learned from this is truly how much God loves each and every one of His children. He NEVER gives up on any of them- and neither should we. Even when there seems to be no hope of them ever changing we still can never ever ever never EVER give up on them. You just keep loving them until they are ready to change. Also we have been teaching this less active man named Vance and it has been amazing to see his life change for the better as well. At first he was not too happy with us visiting him, but now we all laugh and joke together and the spirit is always there when we teach. Man the spirit can really just sopften people up. So something I have been thinking about is how much we take the restoration for granted. As we watched the Joesph Smith movie with Vance I just kept asking myslef, "what does this mean to me? Do I fully appreciate all that the Lord has done for me? Christ's church has been restored! I think sometimes we just get used to saying it and acknoledging it that it begins to not seem quite as special. But it is! I want you all to take some time to think about your testimonies and what it all truly means for each of you individually. Really take the ponder and pray.
We had zone conference this day which was absolutely AMAZING. President Jenkins started it off on a powerful note by saying that as he has gotten to know all of us and has learned our stories he said that the atonement of Jesus Christ was worth it just for all of us who were sitting in that chapel. What a thought. Take that down even further- the atonement, the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ was worth it just for our family alone. And then take it down even more- the atonement was worth it for me- my sins, my pains, and my sufferings. Does that not give you a glimpse at how much the Savior truly loves us all? If I was the only person here on the earth He still would have come just for me. Just for each one of you individually. Where would we be without Jesus Christ? Where would the sinners go for relief? Where would the comfotless turn? Who would we look to for an example? Every day my love and appreciation for the Savior Jesus Christ grows. I am truly grateful for Him and I love Him with all my heart.
On a lighter note I had a really embarrassing situation at the zone conference. oy. So we were in the cultural hall after lunch and sister T has been sick so we slipped out to get her some water. As we were coming back in we felt like we should just stand in the back because it would be too noisy to walk back to our seats (creeky wood floors). So we were just walking to move a teensy bit forward when all the sudden the cell phone slips from my hands (WHY AM I SO CLUMBSYYYY??!!) and makes a horrible shattering noise as the phone basically explodes on the ground and the parts go in 3 different directions. IWANTEDTODIE. Literaly everyones heads whipped around to see what had happened and poor Sister Jenkins stopped her presentation to make sure everything was ok. I was mortified and just kept saying sorry! I am so sorry! So much for being quiet! haha!
I had a cool miracle on this day too when I was talking to Sister Gordon (she came in for the lights with her parents) and I saw this couple looking at the temple panels behind me. I felt like I needed to go talk with them. So I went over and introduced myself. They were both really nice and as we talked they told me a little bit about themselves. It turns out the guy is a less active member and the girl is a nonmember. They had met at work and when the girl found out this guy was a member of our church she told him he was interested in learning and so he brought her to the vc to see the lights and to learn a bit about our church. It is amazing to see how some people are just so prepared!! Of course I got her info and we sent the missionaries to her. Now I jsut gotta follow up with all these people and make sure the missionaries have made contact.
Man family. Rejection hurts. I was talking to so many people that night and I knew they were feeling the spirit, but in the end they didn't want to learn more. I was beginning to get a bit discouraged so I went into the back, said a little prayer that I would find at least one person who needed my testimony, vented to some sisters, and then I went back out there. I immediately saw yet again a guy and a girl standing over by the temple panels and went to go talk to them. Again they told about themselves and I found out that the guy is a member and the girl was not, but she had met with missionaries before. As we were talking I felt that I needed to inviter her to meet with missionaries again. At first she seemed kinda not interested, but I felt the spirit bear witness to me that this is her time. We talked about how maybe before it just wasn't the right time for her and that now she is ready and she agreed! I invited her to begin reading from the Book of Mormon again and she said she will! It was amazing to see her heart change and to see how the spirit works with people.
Wow I was tired this day. We had to work a double shift. So we came in first at 10 and stayed till 2 and then we had to go back at 5:30 till closing at 10. It was soooo busy again and I was starting to feel a bit sick. I didn't get any referrals that night, but I still had some amazing experiences where I was able to share my testimony with people. I am learning to be grateful for all miracles- big and small.
We had a great day!! We had another awesome lesson with Tanya, had a lesson with our other investigator Dorris- she is 96 and reminds me sooo much of Grandma Cherie. I love teaching both of them! So I was talking to tons of people again this night and just could not find those prepared people. I was doing everything I could think of, but nothing was working. Just as this big group that I had been talking to left I turned and saw yet again another couple talking at the temple panels (man that is just the place to be!!) I though about in Alma 31 when Alma was preaching to the wicked and prideful people and nobody would listen, but then he turned and found these other humlble people who were totally prepared. Man that was exaclty like my experience with this couple!! They were just the sweetest and opened right up. When I invited them to learn about the message of the restoration they were both excited and said yes that they would love to! I then went and grabbed them both Book of Mormons and got to teach them about this amazing book. They both were just soo happy, but I can garauntee you that I was even happier :) I love being a missionary and having this opportunity to see God's love for His children in action. It really touches my heart. Especially at this Christmas time. What an amazing time of year to be a missionary! I feel so blessed that I get to have 2 Christmas's because not all sisters get that!
Wow it REALLY started to feel like Christmas time once we had our Christmas program at church. We could only go to one because we had shift at the vc from 2-6. The member that had us over for dinner that night asked if we would like her to invite Tanya and of course we said yes!! Wow it was so special. After we ate dinner we went into the other room and all sang Christmas hymns around the piano. We then shared a Christmas message and the spirit was so strong. Tanya has never had that real sense of family before. Her and her mom were never really close and her mom was married 8 times so she never really had a father figure. She just started crying as she expressed to us that she has found her family here in the church. She told us that she has found what she has been looking for. It was such a beautiful night and a tender experience that I will treasure in my heart forever. After that we went to another appointment to share a Christmas message and we met this cute girl who has been less active for about 5 years now. She joined the church when she was 18 and fell away pretty soon after. As we all talked we told her that we would love to help her come back and would love to teach her the gospel again. She said she would love that! Miracle!
Here is a Christmas message for you all. Go read 2 Nephi 19: 6. Think to yourselves what it would be like to be Isaiah and being able to see the birth, life, and ministry of our Savior Jesus Christ. What names or words would you use to describe Him and why? We had some beautiful conversations about our Savior as we shared this scripture and others that testify of His divine role.
Other exciting things: James came in Satudray night!! It was soo good to see him and to see that he is still going strong :) This is the last full week of Christmas lights and of the transfer!! Crazy!!
I love you all sooo much and wish you a very merry Christmas. I will see you all Wednesday!!
But before I get to all of that guess who I just got finished eating lunch with?! SISTER GORDON. Or well I guess it's Brianne now haha I LOVE when Sisters come back to visit!! We just went to this little restaurant across the street from the vc that all the sisters go to when their dinners cancel and we just sat around and talked for an hour. It was sooo fun!! I love all my vc sisters sooo much!! So many life long friends :)
Ok so this week was full to the brim. Monday of course is the craziest day of the week with having to go shopping, do laundry, clean, etc. All of the not fun and not quite so rewarding activities. Then we went to the vc at night. Saying that I am tired is an understatement. haha! I feel like I look sleepy in all the pics I send home now lol I LOVE it, but it is probably the most exhausting and demanding thing I have ever done before. You go home at the end of the night and you just die. When the alarm goes off at 7:30 it literally feels like it has been 5 minutes. I wish I had brought my journal with me because I can't think of any of the cool miracles that happened on Monday, but I know there were many!! So then on Tuesday we got to wake up early and go to the temple with half of the mission. It was so special and spiritual. So much has happened since the last time I got to go to the temple so it really just what I needed. I love going to the temple and feeling that peace that Heavenly Father is in control and that everything will be ok. I love the temple :) Then on
Wednesday we had the Christmas party for the whole mission and it was soooo fun!! It started at 11 and went until 4:30. We had games, a fancy lunch, big service project, and then Freddy Ashby and Clyde Bodden came and preformed for us. It was soo beautiful!! Then we ran to the VC for our shift. Then of course Thursday was a very special day- Sister T's 22nd bday!! The day was so special! It started off with us working the morning shift at the vc (10-2). It was nice to have a night off and to actually be able to have dinner with members on sister T's day. I had met up with a member from one of my old wards last week and he said he would love to make sister t some local island food so I gave him a call ans asked if he would be able to do it for her on her bday. He said he would love to so I surprised sister T and after our shift we headed over to the restaurant. Also while we were on shift one of our ward mission leaders and his wife came in with a giant chocolate cake for her and a card from the relief society and Sister T's favorite candy- snickers! It was soo sweet!! So anyways we get to the restaurant and Sister T was soo surpirsed! I had invited our roomies to come too and they brought another chocolate cake!! Sister T was so happy she started to cry! It was the sweetest thing and she told me that she had never really had people celebrate her birthday before. Oh!! I forgot something else amazing that happened that morning. So the night before we some members from our ward brought Tanya down to the Christmas lights. The next morning we got a text from her that said: "Good morning beautiful ladies! Went to the temple last night with the boys and decided to dedicate my life to our Heavenly Father 100%...So... no more drinking or smoking. And I feel great! Love you ladies. You are all so very amazing and such a blessing." Wow. Happy Birthday Sister T! That's what we kept saying all day. Whenever something good happened or we saw miracles, it was because it was sister T's bday :) We had a lesson with Tanya that day and we taught her the word of wisdom. It is going to be very hard for her to cut out the alcohol and cigarettes, but she
knows it is for the best and that it will bless her as well as her sons. She also gave Sister T a sweet gift for her bday as well as the member that came with us to the lesson. Then we got a call from Sister Beckstrand saying that she had baked sister T a bday cake and asked if we could come down to the vc so they could sing to her. So we rushed over there before dinner and Sister T had cake #3! Then we went over to dinner and wow the family was so sweet and really out did themselves! They invited 2 other families over and they had balloons and gifts. Sister T was just so touched by the kindness and it really was so heart warming to feel soo much love from all these members!! Then we headed over to our high councilors home and they were so kind and wanted to wish sister t a happy birthday too! Their family had baked her a giant chocolate cake also!! By the end of the night sister t said she just felt sooo loved. So I guess that was 4 cakes not 5.. did I write 5 earlier? Anyways it really was a special day :) We still haven't gotten the package from you all yet.. Sister T most likely will not be getting anything for Christmas so something from you all or ward members would be much appreciated :) Wow mom you read my mind!! I have been wanting to buy some boots. There are a pair at payless that I have had my eye on. They are $35, tan, have buckles/strap around the top and around the ankle, knee high, size 6.5 :) I love you!! You all are working so hard and I am grateful for your examples :)
Alright, who is ready to hear some Christmas lights miracles?? I want to tell you this really amazing miracle that happened just last night! Oh and btw we are more than 1/2 way through Christmas lights now! Can you even believe Christmas will be here in just 9 days!? Time is flying and it is SCARY! I am excited to skype with you all and then maybe I can fill you all in better.
So last night I got to do my favorite rotation- got to present the concert, then front greet, Christus, and then finishing up with the nativity movie. We are on each post for one hour and then we rotate. So my companion for the evening was Hermana Orr (the one that eveyone comes into the vc looking for haha! Yes she is the one from the clip after conference). We were just about to start the Christus narration when I saw this little hispanic family walk in, look at the statue and then leave. I felt like I needed to invite them to stay and listen. So even though I wasn't sure if they would be able to understand me I went after them and invited them to come back in and listen. They agreed and we started the presentation. Holy cow there were soo many people shoved into that little room, but the spirit was still so strong. After the presentation I knew that I had to go talk to them. So I went over and asked how they felt as they listened. They said they loved it and that they felt so much peace here. I told them that they were feeling the spirit and they agreed. I asked them if they would like to learn more and they said yes! The husband then opened up and said that they really felt guided here and that he would love to learn more. Family we see miracles like this every single night. I can't even adequately express how blessed I feel to be able to witness so many of Heavenly Father's children accept the gospel in their lives. This experiencing of serving here truly has changed my life forever. The best part is that I'm not the only one having amazing miracles every night. Do you want to know how many individuals/families agreed to meet with missionaries last night? I will tell you. 50. Just let that sink in and think about what that number means. Think about all of the families that are going to be blessed. We also received 38 member referrals. It's a miracle. I would guess that we receive close to 1000 referrals a week. It is amazing.
Family this Christmas season I hope that all of you come to know the Savior in a closer and more personal way than you have before. I love my Savior and I am grateful to be here at this time and in this place serving Him with all of my heart. Help someone this Christmas season come closer to the Savior by sharing your testimony of Him with them. This has brought me some of the greatest joy. I know that He lives. I know He is my Savior. It is so comforting to know that even though I am 100% inadequate the Savior can help me to overcome my weaknesses and strive to become better each day. Miracles are real. They happen every day. Sometimes I ask members that come in if they have had any missionary experinces lately and most of the time they say yes, but sometimes they say no. Well I tell them to get excited because they are going to have a miracle! I want to invite you all to do the same! Pray for opportunities to do good this Christmas season and you WILL have miracles :) Then write me about them!
Family you are all so special and I am grateful that we can all be together for eternity :)
Well Christmas lights are in full bloom!! The wonderful season of celebrating Christ's birth has arrived!! It really is funny that we officially celebrate it only once a year, but of course we can celebrate it all day every day in our hearts and show our appreciation for His life in the way that we live our own lives :) I was listening to a conference talk earlier this week while I was getting ready- You all should do that!- I can't remember what the talk was called... Maybe it was "Of regrets and resolutions" or it might have been one from this last conference... but anyways there was a line in it that really stuck out to me, and I have been trying to apply it to my life since. The speaker said to -
"earnestly search our souls and ask ourselves if what we are doing is pleasing to the Lord."
Simple enough, but it really makes you stop and think. Just before you lose your temper and are about to lash out ask yourself, "would it be pleasing to the Lord for me to say something unkind to one of His precious children?". Would it be pleasing to the Lord if I went to that service activity or if I reached out to my neighbor? I love it because it really helps you rate where you are at personally in your commitment to do the will of the Lord. As I have applied this I have found myself being better able to handle conflicts and also to have greater confidence in following the promptings of the spirit. I want to challenge all of you to do it!!
Family. Christmas lights means MIRACLES. I can't even tell you how blessed I feel to have been called to serve here at THIS Visitors Center at this particular time. Man Time. I am not a fan of it haha! But at the same time I am grateful for it and that it motivates me to just keep giving my all. So you want to know some figures from the lights? In the past 9 days of Christmas lights we have received over 500 referrals. FIVE HUNDRED!!!!! We Still have 3 weeks left!! About half of those are individuals and families that came into the center, felt the spirit, and now want to be taught by missionaries. The rest are referrals given by members for the people that they love and care about and want to share the gospel with. This is truly the Lord's work!! We have thousands of people coming in the doors every single night. This is what makes my Christmas. I love that you all are having a simple Christmas this year. Sometimes I think- I know people get caught up in the commercial aspect of Christmas. Let's all remember the true reason for the season :) Do something good and reach out to others! Give the greatest gift that you can give to the Savior by sharing His gospel.
So yes I am LOVING christmas lights. The only hard thing is once again time. Our poor area... But we know we will continue to see miracles as we work hard! The Lord knows our schedule and our limitations! We are doing our very best to facilitate miracles daily. So update with Tanya. Yeah soo sorry I didn't finish that story! Haha I didn't even realize that I hadn't finished typing it! Just come up with a clever closing sentence and we will call it good :) BUT oh my gosh drama. I can't go into details but she just has a lot of hard things going on in her life and she is going to have a lot of different things to overcome. We tried setting multiple appointments with her this last week, but she would always cancel! Oh my gosh my heart was broken! I felt like somebody had given me a 100 dollar bill and then snatched it back. WWHHYYY. Sometimes we don't know why things happen, but we just need to trust that Heavenly Father is in control and everything will work out according to His plan and according to His timing. We told Tanya to call us when she was ready for us to come and meet with her again. The next day she called us!! We missed it because we were at the Visitors Center, but the next day was Sunday so we called her in the morning (we don't get out of the vc until about 10:30pm) and no answer. During sunday school in our first ward I felt strongly that we should go by Tanya and invite her to church. We drove over there, rang the door bell, and Tanya answered the door in a dress and ready to go! She said oh are you picking me up for church? Just then one of our awesome members pulled in the drive way and we got them in the car and on their way to the church. I felt like my jaw just dropped and I knew that Heavenly Father was totally aware of us and our restrictions so He took care of Tanya. So yeah, Tanya came to church!!!!!!! :D It was soo amazing!! She brought her 2 little baby boys too and they were so good! It really was a miracle and it was humbling to remember that Heavenly Father does not send us out here on our own. This is His work and He is in control. Miracle!
Ok so you want to hear some cool stories from Christmas lights?? I know you do! They are the best!! Ok I will just tell you 2 or 3.
#1. So I kinda met a celebrity!!!! I was on post at God's Plan when I was this girl who was clearly a member and she was was showing her friends around who were nonmembers- or so I assumed. BTW never do that! haha But this time I was right! So I made my way through the sea of people and went and greeted them over by the Book of Mormon table. My memory is starting to get a little foggy, let's be honest I've always had a bad memory! haha but let me try to think what happened... we were talking and I found out one of them was from California, the other was from North Carolina, and then the member was from here. I was super confused as to how they all knew each other especially since they were a variety of ages... But I focused in on my purpose and invited the one guy to learn more. He said why not and filled out the guest card (you just NEVER know when somebody is going to say yes! It is always worth it just to extend an invitation). While he was doing that I asked them how they all met up here in Mesa. They all kinda looked at each other and asked if it was ok for them to tell me. What the... I was starting to regret asking when the member turned to me and asked "Have you ever seen the show extreme weight loss on abc?" I said no, but then from the deep deep files of my memory I remembered watching that show back at Grandma and Grandpa's house forever ago! Remember the show where they follow the one person for 6 months and try to help them lose weight?? Well she then told me that she is one of the trainers on the show and the guy who filled out the card is one of the contestants!! Of course the first question out of my mouth then was "How much wight have you lost?!?!" haha I'm sure he gets that a lot! He told me he has lost about 150 pounds!! He then showed me a picture of himself before and I was SHOCKED!!! Soo amazing! So after that little side convo I brought it back to the gospel and gave him a Book of Mormon to take home and read. I promised him that anyone who reads this book can receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that it is true. Amazing!! He still has another month left on the show so I am going to be teaching him online until then. His showing will appear on abc this upcoming summer. So cool!! Talk to everyone :D
#2. So there are these things called snow birds. They have a reputation of being grumpy older people from very cold places such as Canada, Minnesota, etc and they come down to Mesa just for the winter months. All the sisters know about them and that they are SUPER hard to get to open up and they hardly ever accept the invitation to learn more- or even to talk to you sometimes! Sister Schwartz was a legend because of her ability to talk with snow birds. haha so a few days ago I was on post in the nativities and a group of snow birds came in. I got up my courage and went over to go talk to them. I was super happy when they didn't shew me away and actually talked to me! I started praying to know what to say and I asked them if they were members of the church. They told me no but that they knew some members that were just the kindest people they had met! One woman than told me a story about how a member of the church had written her a super sweet letter when her son had died many years ago. She told me she still had that letter to this day! I asked her about her son and she told me the sad story of his tragic death. I could tell that even though it had been many years she was still grieving for the life of her precious son. Then before I could even think about it I opened my mouth and told her that in this church we believe that God has provided a way for our families to be sealed together for eternity because of promises we make in the temple. I told her that even if a family member dies we can have that peace and reassurance that we will be with them again. She told me she believes that and I then invited her to allow the missionaries to come into her home and teach her more. She said she would like that. M.I.R.A.C.L.E. What a special miracle.
Well I am out of time. I hope that these stories that I share with you all uplift and inspire you. There are soooo many more stories to tell, but I guess they will just have to wait for another day and time.
I love you all sooo much!!
Mama Anderson came back to visit!
ps- I am FREEZING here and it's in the 50's. That is sad haha
pps- thank you sooo much for sending me that coat mommy!! Came at the perfect time :D
ppps- I love you all sooo much! Remember the true reason for the season and help others feel the love of the Savior Jesus Christ
What I have learned this week- and what I continue to learn time and time again on my mission is this: faith ALWAYS precedes the miracle.
I was reading an awesome talk earlier this week from this last General Conference by Elder Timothy J. Dyches (Go watch it again! It's so good!) and it really just set the tone for the entire week. I loves this one part from his talk that says:
"In another tender scene, Luke tells us that the Savior, while traveling to Jerusalem, met 10 lepers. Because of their infirmity, they “stood afar off” (Luke 17:12).
They were outcasts—unclean and unwanted.
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” they cried (Luke 17:13)—in other words, importuning, “Isn’t there something You can do for us?”
The Great Physician, full of compassion, still knew that faith must precede the miracle and therefore told them, “Go shew yourselves unto the priests” (Luke 17:14).
As they went in faith, the miracle occurred. Can you imagine the overwhelming joy with each step as they witnessed in real time their bodies being cleansed, healed, and restored right before their eyes?"
Ok now I don't know how to turn off the highlighter... but anyways we had such an amazing and miracle filled week. One of the greatest miracles we had was meeting a sweet woman named Tanya. I sent her story in another email. I want to invite you all to read it! Read it and believe it! Miracles do happen :) I know that the Lord is aware of us and our individual circumstances. He knows our trials and He is there to help and strengthen us.
Thanksgiving was amazing!! We got to go and do so much service and I loved it! We ate dinner at the Beckstrands with some of their family members and a BUNCH of sisters :)
Christmas lights are just as amazing as ever! They started this last Friday and in just 3 nights we have received close to 200 referrals!! Christmas miracle!! Soo many people are going to receive the gospel!! Times like this remind me of why I LOVE serving at the VC. Sometimes it can be hard during the slower times of the year, but man once Christmas comes people just start flooding in! Easter time too! It's so amazing :D
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you all have felt peace with the passing of Grandma Cherie. I am so grateful to know that she is in a happy state. I am grateful that we are an eternal family. Have a great week family! I know this email is a little short, but Tanya's story (below) is pretty long :D
LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Story of Tanya On Tuesday November 26th sister taumwarwa and I were driving around in our area trying to contact potential investigators. We had just pulled over to look up the address of the next person we were going to go visit when we looked up and saw a young mother pushing 2 babies in a stroller. We immediately knew we needed to go and talk with her. We saw that she was smoking so we knew she was a nonmember. We walked over and she was talking to a cable man. They both looked up at us and we gave the woman the invitation to Christmas lights. She almost looked a little scared when we were talking to her and she didn't say much. We introduced ourselves as missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we asked her if she had ever met with missionaries before. She said yes, but they were Jehovah's and it was back in South Carolina. She said she had been trying to get in touch with them and then asked who sent us. We said nobody but that we had just pulled over to look up an address. She asked if we had been waiting for her to get home and we said no. What she then said both shocked and surprised us. She said that she had been praying for help and asked us to please come inside. We went back to the car quickly and grabbed our bags. She let us in the home and it was dark and dirty. I then noticed how dirty the kids were and the mom seemed so troubled. She apologized for the mess, but we told he not to worry about it and we began helping her to clean. She told us her name is Tanya and that she has been going through a very hard time. She broke down crying and told us that her husband just recently went to prison and that he is never coming back. She told us that she is looking for something. We all hugged and cried together. We testified to her of the blessings the gospel brings and that Christs church in its fullness has been restored on the earth today. She said that she wants every part of it. She told us that the stress from everything has been causing her to not be the mom or the person that she wants to be. She said she had been drinking And smoking but that it's just not her. She said she needs help so we asked her if we could help her get rid of it. She said yes and so we asked where the alcohol was and we followed her into the kitchen. She pulled the beer out of the fridge and we poored it down the drain. She told us that Mormons have always been in her life and that she has always wanted to learn more about them. She told us one of her friends in high school was a mormon and she looked up to him and his family. Also the other day she was talking to someone at the grocery store and they told her to sign up with the Mormons because they help people. We shared with her a scripture from the Book of Mormon and said a prayer with her. We asked when we could come back and she said tomorrow! What's the earliest you can come?? We set up a time to go back and help her clean the next day at 10am and then told her we would have a lesson after. She then said that she wants us to take her to church with us and asked when that was. She was so grateful and with tears in her eyes she said that she knew god had sent us to her. The next morning we went back over to her home. We were hoping and praying that she would have remembered the appointment and that she would still be ok with us coming and teaching her. She opened the door and we saw that the house was a bit more tidy and there were huge piles of laundry on the couch. We told her to put us to work so we began folding. We then took
the clothes upstairs and commenced in helping her clean for about an hour and a half. She was so happy and grateful that we came back. She just kept repeating I am so grateful you girls came back! At one point she was just so overcome with gratitude that she knelt down on the ground and just started crying. I have never felt so much compassion for an investigator before. The night before we had called a member from the ward and she said she would be able to make it to the lesson. She showed up at around 11:30 and her and Tanya just immediately hit it off. Tanya is an artist and she has lots of pieces of art in her home. One beautiful piece of art work is a beautiful stain glass that says love. Her husband had made it and it broke a little while ago so she had welded it back together so it has a big crack through the middle of it. She said that represented her life and how her love was broken. She said she feels broken and that she needs to be put back together. So anyways the lesson today was powerful. Sister tucker shared a beautiful testimony and also told some personal experiences. As we were teaching these restored truths she just kept saying yes I believe that. She was so happy at one point that she couldn't speak and she was crying and she told us all how truly grateful she was that we had come into her life. She got up and with tears in her eyes she thanked us each individually and hugged us. Wow. One of the most spiritually intense moments of my life. I couldn't hold the tears back and I was so grateful that Heavenly Father allowed me to be a tool in his hands. How amazing it is to know that because you followed a prompting of the spirit that you were able to answer somebody's sincere plead for help. What a tender mercy and what a miracle. We didn't even get a chance to invite her to be baptized because the member jumped in and said well since you know that it is true you need to set a date for baptism. I had prayed previously Martin jr. Hernandez daneil r porter
This was a great week. You are probably tired of hearing that every single week, but they just keep getting better and better! :) So let me think of where to start.
Ughh I really don't want to write an email, but I will do it because I love you all so much.
We got a call Monday night asking if we could help out the activity day girls on Wednesday night. Yayyy!! I was so excited!! We got to go and help teach them about missionary work and hpw we can share the gospel with our friends and family. We got the girls into groups and they did skits acting out different ways to reach out to people. It was so fun!
So on our way over to meet with the lady in our ward to plan the activity we saw a man named Henry outside washing his car. We have been trying to meet Henry since we came into the area!!!!! So we pulled over and went to go talk with him. MIRACLE! We set up an appointment to come back on Sunday.
I was thinking that you all would call me when Grandma Cherie passed- President allowed some other people to talk to their family when that has happened so I was kind of surprised when I found out the news from President. I do feel peaceful about her passing and I am grateful that she didn't have to suffer long, but there is always some sadness when someone dies. You miss having them there with you and you recognize that they have completed their time here on the earth. In Grandmas Cheries case I am comforted in knowing that she has lived a full and blessed life. She has learned many lessons, touched so many lives, and she set an amazing example for all of us to follow. The day before I got the news Sister T and I had gone and visited this amazingly sweet old lady named Dorris. I kept telling her that she reminded me soo much of Grandma Cherie! From her personality, style, everything! --- even the way she talked about her son haha! I loved her soo much and I wish now I had gotten a picture with her to send to you all... next time! We had a great little lesson with her and we discussed faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. We asked her if she knew that Christ's church was restored on the earth today if she would like to learn about it and she said yes! We are going back this week to teach her the message of the restoration. Everyone needs to hear this message at least once in their life time. It truly is incredible and people just need the opportunity to hear about it!
Ok I am getting really tired and lazy so I am just going to wrap this up pretty quickly:
- Alfonso came into the Visitors Center and told me had exciting news. He met with the Bishop a few nights ago and he is going to start preparing himself to go to the temple!!! I just wanted to cry I am soo happy for him!!
- Miracle. Karlos was a man that I was teaching at the VC. He had come in and asked for a Book of Mormon yadda yadda yadda anyways I had lost contact with him and he called the VC the other day and said he got a new number!! So I got his number and we are going to start up the lessons again :D I asked if he was still reading from the Book of Mormon and he said yes!! He is going to come in and show me all the things he has marked up :D
-Carlos!! This is Carlos with a C haha So he came in with his friend and they asked to watch the restoration. One of the sisters told me that Carlos wasn't a member so before I started the movie we talked for a little bit about personal revelation and how God answers our prayers. When I came back after the movie I asked what he thought and he said he had never heard this message before and he would have to pray about it. Perfect answer! I invited him to so that and then got down his information so I could keep in touch with him and teach him over the phone. I asked if he had a Book of Mormon and he said no, but he had one many years ago and he actually had read some of it. I grabbed him a new one and gave him a pamphlet on the restoration. He agreed to read and pray about it and he also agreed to have the missionaries in his local area come and teach him the message of the restoration. Wow it was so powerful and he truly was so prepared! I love serving at the VC and seeing soo many miracles!! It is also fun to share the miracles and to get to send the referrals out to the missionaries who are working so hard in their areas. I know how it feels to receive those texts with a referral and it's seriously like Christmas haha!
-So apparently this guy came in one of the nights and proposed to his girlfriend in front of the Christus statue!! hahahahaha I was sooo sad I wasn't on shift then, but apparently all the sisters were in the back watching the whole thing on the camera hahaha
-Oh my goodness I am such a wimp with the cold now!!! It is like 60 degrees and I am freezing!! I might just have to live in the desert forever haha! I don't know how you all are surviving in the cold weather!
-Christmas lights start this week!!!!!! I am sooo excited!! Also Thanksgiving this week!! We aren't in the vc at all that day so we are going to a few different families homes and helping them bake pies and clean. We are eating with the Beckstrands again this year! I am super excited about that! :D
-I got a super sweet package from Camilla!! I love her!! She is just the sweetest! Papa when you see her give her a big hug from me and tell her thank you soo much!! I can't wait to live close to her and her family in Utah! :D
- Right now I am learning the importance of just slowing down and having patience. Sometimes what I want isn't what the Lord has in mind for me at this time. Sometimes I want to see results right away or I want to have more time in the area, but I just have to trust in the Lord and I know that everything will work out. I know everyone and their dog is focusing on this right now, but I really am focusing on being grateful for everything- especially my trials. I am grateful that Heavenly Father isn't easing up on me in these last few months. I am grateful for my struggles and from my weaknesses because they remind me how much i NEED the Lord. I literally can NOT do anything without Him and without His help! I am grateful that He has given me these experiences and I hope that I might be able to help someone because of what I have learned from them.
Alrighty family I love you all so much. I hope you all know how grateful I am for each one of you. You all individually have a special place in my heart. I am grateful for the special relationships I have with you all. I hope you know how much I love you guys!! Please keep yourselves safe and healthy! Have an amazing Thanksgiving and Papa be safe travelling to Utah.
I know there is a God. If anything in my testimony has been strengthened this week it would have to be just that. God. He's real. So I don't even know where to start. I wrote out a few points that I wanted to talk about, but we'll see how this goes...
Well, let's start with Monday. It was a great day!
OK onto Tuesday, we were in the area during the day and had shift at the Visitors Center from 3-9. Mine and Sister T's dinner had to cancel so we were excited to go out to eat and had so much fun! I love hearing stories from her island and learning more about her culture. It is just sooo different! But she is just doing sooo good with all of the changes. She is amazing :) When we came back from dinner we were on shift in the back greet area so we headed over there. Then sister Gordon came around the corner and said she needed to talk to me. I was excited and followed after her, then she told me it wasn't good news. We sat down in Elder Beckstrands office and she handed me her phone. I took it and she told me to push call. I was very confused. Then I looked at the caller id and saw that it was Imani's number. That's when I started to get worried. I had remembered you all emailing me and telling me that Brother Rincon wasn't doing so well and Imani had told me she was going to be going back to Georgia for a little bit for the same reason. I called the number and Imani answered she told me what happened and my heart just sunk. I just started crying. Sister Gordon went and got Elder Beckstrand and I told him what happened. I asked him if I could go be with Imani and he told me to go. I can't even tell
you how sacred of an experience it was to be there. To actually get to be there with my dearest friend the night her father passed away. When Imani first moved into my ward here in Mesa I was wondering why on earth that would ever happen or how it could ever happen and Sister Gordon said that one of us would probably end up needing each other. All of that just flooded back into my memory as Sister Gordon and I drove over to Imani and Sierra's house. I asked if Sister Gordon could come with me because she had served with me in Imani's ward and I needed her to help me be strong. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father allowed us to be together during this time. I left her house feeling peaceful. I got to help her pack and it was so nice to all be together and to share our testimonies of the plan of salvation. We laughed and we cried. I went to bed peaceful that night, but then I woke up. You know it's always harder the next day when you realize it wasn't a dream. I tried to keep myself busy and happy, but I just felt sad. I was super frustrated because I just felt weak- come on I'm a missionary, I know everything's going to be ok! Why am I so sad?? I know...stupid thoughts. Even though I am a missionary I am still a human being and I still have feelings lol Anyways so we had VC that morning and a bunch of us went to the little cafe where they feed the missionaries for free. I was trying so hard the whole time not to cry. I rode back in the car with Sister T and Sister Gordon and I just blurted out "Sister's, I'm having a hard time." then I lost it. I was just crying and I couldn't stop. Brother Rincon was like my own dad. Back in the day if I wasn't hanging out with Imani at our house then I was over at her house. Their family was my family and it just hurt so bad. I asked one of the Senior Elders to give me a blessing and then I told him I needed his wife to come in and give me a hug so I could pretend she was my mom. haha! But that's really all I wanted right then was to be with my family. It was a really low point.. and then guess what happened. Then Senior Elder came back in and told me "your friend is here!" Oh my gosh Heavenly Father did it again! Imani and Sierra came into the back and we basically had a repeat of the night before. We just all hugged and cried and talked and laughed and reminisced about our dear papa Sonny :) When they left I felt so much more peaceful and believe it or not I was actually able to go back to work just fine! I felt Heavenly fathers love as He gave me the strength to keep going. I am so grateful for the plan of salvation. I am so grateful to know that there is more to this life! Life does not end at death. Where would I be without this knowledge??
Ok this is a perfect lead in to the next and probably last miracle I will share with you all today. Sorry time crunch! So Saturday night this group of girls came into the VC and they were in the back looking at the panels that talk about the temple. I felt like I needed to go talk to them so I grabbed Sister T and we went on our way. They were super friendly and the aunt told me right away that she was not a member but that she was super intrigued. They had driven like an hour to get there because they thought the Christmas lights were going to be on, but they don't start until the day after Thanksgiving... but the aunt told them that she didn't want to waste the trip and got out to look around the temple. I asked them if they would like to see a little movie about what goes on inside the temples and they said yes. So I took them over to a little kiosk and played a little video about the baptistry. After the movie ended I noticed that the Aunt was crying and I asked her what she was thinking. She told me that her brother (the girls father/the girls were her nieces, not sure if I specified that- the nieces are members) had died and her extended family had done his work for him, but she had never known what that meant. She was just so happy and kept repeating "I didn't know that was possible. I was never taught." I felt like they needed to watch Gods plan so I took them over to it. As they were watching I went and grabbed a Book of Mormon for the aunt as well as a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. When it ended Sister T shared her testimony about how she was converted and the blessings the gospel has brought into her life. The spirit was so strong. At this point the visitors center was just about to close so I told this sweet lady that God truly does have a plan for her and that it is never too late to accept blessings. She felt that it was too late for her and that she could never change, but I testified to her that because of Jesus Christ we can ALL change. We change every single day! I invited her to start reading from the Book of Mormon and I got her info so that we can keep in contact. I am going to continue to teach her over the internet and phone :) Miracle! Man I just feel so blessed and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father is so actively involved in my life. I see His hand every single day.
Sister Gordon & Hermana Aquino
We had our farewell prep meeting this week for Sister Gordon and Hermana Aquino.
I can't believe they are leaving!! We haven't had anybody leave the vc since Hermana Schwartz! I just hate how fast time is flying :( But I am loving every single minute I have out here! Oh we got transfer news and Sister T and I are staying together!!
Sis. Miller goes home in 6 weeks!
Me and Sis. T. - staying together!
So her birthday isDecember the 12thand she probably will not be getting anything from home. She will be turning 22, so maybe you all could work some magic?? :) OHHH MOMM I need contacts. I know, so annoying. But I am dying and really need some more pairs. Just like 2 pairs could probably last me, but whatever you can dooo!! We got our Christmas lights schedule. Man it is crazy. Out of the 33 days of Christmas lights we will only have 7 nights in our area. And there are like 3 days where we will serve in the morning and then come back from5:30-10. ccrraazzyyyy. It makes me tired just thinking about it! lol well I love you all! Thank you soo much for your prayers and for all of your support!! I am really hoping that I will be able to use you all to call some investigators :)
Have a great week family!! Pray for miracles and then do everything you can to facilitate them!!
It is freaking me out how fast time is going!!! It really hit me this last week in prep meeting when we started practicing for Christmas lights. I realized that there are only about 4 that were there for Christmas lights last year. I almost feel like it's kinda like a mid-life crisis. I am realizing how quickly time is speeding by and it makes me so sad!!! I am grateful that I can look back on my mission and not feel any regret for the way that I have served. I have loved every minute- which sometimes was a hard thing to do! But I have decided not to dwell on the fact that time is running out and just keep my mind focused on the time that lies before me. I love being a missionary!! It is the best and most fulfilling thing I have ever done.
The VC - my home!
So anyways this week was insanely busy!!! On our weekly planning day I was checking our progress so far and felt like we just really weren't accomplishing much. I decided to calculate how many hours we had open to be in our area for the week- it didn't take very long... this past week we had a grand total of 6- yes SIX hours in our area. That is over an entire week. We had a meeting nearly every single day and then with the extra hours for studies due to training and language study for sister T, we just were hardly in the area! A regular missionary gets anywhere from 45-55 hours a week. This next week we are going to have about 12 hours- improvement! haha No I just think it's funny, and you know it is really teaching me that I can NOT do this on my own!! I have to pray harder than ever that Heavenly Father will consecrate our efforts. On Saturday our district decided to fast together and the goal was for every companionship to find at least one new investigator. We had faith and even though we were only going to have about 2 hours in our area that day we prayed that Heavenly Father would help us, and that He would lead us to the people in our area who are prepared to receive the gospel. We got out of the VC at 3 and then we just hit the ground running! We were talking to as many people as we could and we met many great people! We were running out of time and we still hadn't found an investigator. But we didn't give up! We went to this one former investigators house. It was a family who had been taught in the past. We decided to give them a try. We pull up and the wife was outside. We talked to her and she was super friendly and open! She told us that she loves the church and even believes that it is true. She just has some issue with the change in life style. We talked with her and had a great discussion about how this gospel will truly bless her and her family. I am so grateful that I can honestly testify of that to people. The gospel has brought me more blessings in my life that anything else. Anyways we are going to start teaching her and her family!! It was a miracle!!
With Sister T
So another miracle from this last week. Sister T and I go running every morning and we take pass along cards and other things to give away with us. We saw this man and he asked if we were the missionaries in the area. We told him we were- but it turns out that he actually lives out of our area... oh well!- and he gave us his name and info and told us to come by. The whole way home I was just repeating his info over and over again in my head so that I wouldn't forget it haha! You know what my memory is like!
So some of the meetings we had this week were:
-district meeting: great! I gave a training on finding. So timely! I felt impressed to focus on having the faith to find. I think it really was more for me than anyone else
-all sisters training: Soo fun! All the sisters in the mission came together and we talked about health and dress, etc. At the end we had a giant clothing exchange. That made me happy! :) haha
-3 week training meeting: can you believe the transfer is half way over?! Sister T has been out 3 weeks now! This meeting was focused on helping the new missionaries and seeing how they are doing. Sister T is awesome! I just wish I knew how to best help her with the language. I have never had to deal with that before. I know that it will just take time and practice. Keep her in your prayers!
-Prep Meeting: Christmas is coming!! I can't believe it!! Did I tell you they started putting up the lights at the beginning of this month?
Sunday we had the primary program in one of our wards. soooo cute!!!!
So a miracle from the VC. So there was this man that Sister Gordon gave to me and it had been a few months since he had been called. He was not interested the last time he was called so I was kind of nervous to call... but Sister T and I decided to try! SO we called him and he answered! Much to my surprise he told me that he is meeting with the missionaries regularly and that he is now ready to take this step of faith by being baptized. I was so shocked I just didn't even know what to say! Thankfully we were talking to him on the phone so he couldn't see the look on my face haha One of the greatest thing I have been able to witness as a missionary is how the spirit works on people. Peoples hearts become softened as they learn the truth of the gospel. It is amazing to see people apply the atonement of Jesus Christ and actively change their lives. I LOVE being a missionary!!
I was thinking this week about some of the greatest lessons I have learned on my mission so far and one that came to mind is prayer. Through different experiences I have truly learned to use prayer. It has been such a blessing to me. We all need to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father and that He is aware of us. He answers our prayers. This has helped me through the good times and the hard times. I am so grateful for prayer :)
Anyways family, I love you all sooo much! I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween!! I will be on shift at the VC that night.... not really sure who is going to come in on Halloween.... I am kind of hoping that we will close early so we can go to our ward activities and meet more people.