Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Excitement of the Easter Season

Dear Family,

I love you all so much! I hope you have had a wonderful week! I have been insanely busy and have been having sooo much fun with all of the excitement of the Easter season. Easter pageant is absolutely AMAZING!!!! OH.MY.GOSH. I have literally watched it every single night that I have been there- even the Spanish night! haha! I am hoping that it will help me in my attempts to learn the language. I have learned a bit more since I have been paired once again with the Spanish Hermanas for the pageant. So fun! 

On the Easter Pageant Stage

So I want to tell you a story... The first night of Easter Pageant was the dress rehearsal. A lot of people go that night because it's not quite so busy, but still amazing! So we did our first 2 hours of rotations in the center and then we turn off the lights and close it all down. Then we get to go run out right before it starts and search for seats in the huge crowd. Well Sister Remington and I went out together the first night and we were looking high and low for seats. We were winding our way through the mass of people when we spotted 2 amazingly perfect (middle, middle) seats. YAY! So we ran and grabbed them. We noticed there was a man sitting behind us talking to a cast member and we happened to over hear him say, "I am so intrigued by this church". Instinctively Sister Remington and I look at each other with big smiles on our faces and turn around and introduce ourselves to this man. His name is Randall and he is in town on business. He told us how in the past few weeks that he has been here in Mesa he has felt drawn to the visitors center and he doesn't know why. We then explained to him the sacredness of the temple grounds and the spirit that is here. He was amazed at us being so young and the fact that we "got it" and he didn't. He asked why this was the case and Sister Remington told him it is because
With Elder Beckstrand. We love him!
of the way we have been raised. He was touched by that, but felt like there was something more to it. I then told him that because the priesthood authority had been restored we have been baptized by that authority and received the gift of the Holy Ghost- or something like that. He then asked us how he could do that. We told him that he needed to meet with the missionaries and that they could teach him more about this restoration and help prepare him for baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. He immediately gave us his name and number, and then proceeded to thank us like 10 times. Then the pageant started and we turned around to watch. I couldn't help myself, I just closed my eyes and started praying to Heavenly Father thanking Him for guiding us to Randall and having the opportunity to help him. I was just soo touched! 

There is such a special spirit this season! I am so grateful to be a missionary for the Lord and  to have the opportunity to share the message of our Savior Jesus Christ with all people. He lives! One of my favorite scriptures is in Moroni 7:40-42. I have so much faith and hope in the Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to know that His church is once again restored here on the earth in its fullness. What a blessing! 

I saw Sister Coppel this week! It was really coincidental because she came in looking for me at a time that I wasn't planning on being there, but Sister Remington and I had switched shifts with some other sisters so when she came in I actually greeted her! Small World! haha She shared such sweet things about you all, but especially about mommy and papa. Thank you for always teaching me how to love other people. You all always looked out for others and always sought to reach out to those who were in need. I am so grateful for your examples :)
With Sister Coppel

I hope Christopher had a great birthday this last week! Yay 18! Did you get my card?

You all are the best! Hope you can now relax a little bit now that all the wedding craziness has calmed down. I pray for you all every day and I hope you know how much you all mean to me! Thank you for all of your love and support!

Love, Sister Hamstead

ps- Michael is getting baptized in 2 weeks!!!!!!!! I can't believe it's almost here! He should have been baptized 2 months ago, but he was dead set on being baptized on his birthday... I am sad though because sister Wong has already gone back to Temple Square, so she won't be there :/pps- send me more wedding pictures por favor! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Married Sister, the VC and Jenna's Baptism!!! Oh.My.Gosh.

Eugenies pictures look stunning and wow I'm just so overwhelmed with joy for all of you! :D

So, my week has been absolutely amazing. So much has happened so I'm going to try to give you a little day by day report:
Jenna had her baptismal interview!! Oh my gosh. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I kept driving to the wrong building! Literally we had to go to 3 different buildings before I got it right! Ughhh. Ya so my since of direction has not improved haha! But it's all good. The district leader was understanding and Jenna passed her interview! :D

Sister Remington and I drove up to the mission office around 2pm and picked up Sister West from Louisville, Kentucky (I asked her if she knew Hermana Gomm, but she said no :/) and Sister Hubman from Nashville Tennessee (yay south east! and she's 19!) It was sooo fun going on splits with these new sisters! Sister Remington was brave and took sister Hubman with her and a pre-missionary sister from one of our wards. I was so proud of her! It was just a really fun day and the new sisters are just all so excited to work! It made me really happy :)
First shift back at the VC!! Wow I did not realize how much I had missed that place! It was like coming home :) It was really fun training sister Remington on all of the stuff there and doing practices for Easter Pageant- which I am sooooo excited for!! It starts tomorrow night! But ya, it also made me really happy because sister Remington now says she loves the visitors center! Before she was really dreading having to serve there and was convinced she was just going to be sitting at a desk the whole time, but now she absolutely loves it! yayyyy! I am hoping that I stay in the visitors center throughout the summer months. It is already in the 90's out here! Please pray for me! haha

Sea of Chairs for the Temple Pageant
You don't really want to hear much from this day. It was our planning day, but we did get it all done in record time so that we could make it to the visitors center on time for our shift, so that's great! Every so often it would hit me and I would just think, "My sisters getting married tomorrow. That's weird!". It really was a blessing that Heavenly Father was keeping me really busy and blessing me with peace. I was just so happy! All week there really was just a special spirit :)
AH! Eugenie got married!! Well to start off this day Sister Remington and I went and picked up Hermana Shwartz (the sister from Johns creek ward) and her companion and drove to the mission home for the trainer/trainee meeting. Hermana Shwartz and I were counting down the hours until Eugenie got married and were thinking what she would be doing right now :) 
The meeting was absolutely amazing. I just love hearing President and Sister Ellsworth speak :) I love being a missionary! Oh I should also mention that I have been fighting a bad sinus infection for a little while- who would have thought I would get bad allergies/sinus cold in Mesa Arizona! But people are telling me it is probably from the Orange blossoms. So anyways the meeting ends and we went to the Visitors Center. 
We had our lunch break first so I dragged Sister Remington over to the temple and we got to walk around and enjoy the grounds. We were actually inside the temple at the time Eugenie got married :) I timed it to make sure! I was just so happy and there was just so much peace in my heart. There were so many brides that day! I just kept imagining Eugenie in her beautiful dress :) 
We ate lunch in the cafeteria and then decided to exit through the front. As we were leaving I turned around and noticed Sister Remington wasn't behind me anymore! I lost my greeny! But then I found her talking to this old man. It was her grandpa!! What a small world! He then went and grabbed her grandma and it was a sweet little reunion in the temple :) What a small world!! It was just a great day. Then to add even more to my joy, it was the night before Jenna's baptism so we were having a lesson with her in a members home. We invited a pre-missionary girl to come with us which ended up being an incredible experience! I highly approve of these younger sister missionaries. She bore her testimony of how reading the Book of Mormon has helped her to come to know her Savior. She shared a beautiful experience with us all and the spirit was so strong! Friday was a very good day :)
Saturday: So you know how I told you I had been fighting a cold for a little while. Well on Saturday- the day of Jennas baptism, I woke up with absolutely NO voice! Literally I could barely whisper! I was so sad! Sister Remington and I were supposed to speak and I couldn't even make a peep! Sister Christiansen- who has been taking such amazing care of me! - she is so loving and wonderful!- said that if we drove over to the church down the way I could get a blessing. So we went and it was amazing! Immediately I started feeling better and I was able to somewhat speak! The baptism was absolutely beautiful. I still couldn't sing or speak, but I was able to somewhat communicate. I am soooo happy for Jenna!! What an incredible experience it is to help someone on their way to conversion. It just fills you with so much love! After the baptism we had to leave to go to our shift at the visitors center and.... my voice was no more & I felt sick again. I know that Heavenly Father blessed me and helped me to feel good at the baptism and have a great experience. I was basically useless at the visitors center so I just did office work for the Beckstrands (vc directors).
Jenna with Sister Remington and me.
What an incredible experience it is to help someone on their way to conversion. It just fills you with so much love!
Sister Meyers.  We had Jenna's lessons in her home.

Sunday: OH MY GOSH JENNAS CONFIRMATION. what a strong spirit!! I couldn't help myself, I just started crying! But really I guess that is becoming more common so you all shouldn't be too surprised by that ;) Before Jenna was baptized she had an issue with the gift of the holy ghost vs. feeling the power of the Holy Ghost. On this day, Jenna looked over at me and told me she understands now :) It just warmed my heart and brought me sooo much joy! I just want everyone to feel this great work brings! The gospel changes lives! My voice was quite better on this day so I got to go out on the floor and actually talk to people! I was careful not to push it though with Easter pageant in just a few days!! But so I had a cool miracle... remember when I told you all about the time Sister Shurtz and I presented the armor of God to that family? Well, I was in the exhibit room yesterday when this lady and a bunch of kids came in. I recognized 2 of  the little boys and then I realized it was the boys that were there for the presentation! The woman then told me that the 2 boys and their mom were baptized just 5 weeks ago! How amazing! I truly know that because this gospel is true, it has the capacity and ability to change all peoples hearts. When Sister Shurtz and I had met these people their mom was pretty much not interested, but look! I was just sooo happy! I love being a missionary. I love seeing peoples lives change, and I love this gospel with all my heart. I am just so grateful for this experience I am having. I love all of the people I have been able to meet and I look forward to these next 12 months :D

I love you all soooo much!!! I just can't even tell you all how grateful I am to have you as my family! Love you!!
Sister Kelsey Hamstead

Saturday, March 16, 2013

To my Dear Sister Eugenie on her Wedding Day

Today is your wedding day. Can you believe it's already come?! I have so many cherished memories of the 2 of us staying up late, sharing secrets, and dreaming about this very day. I'm sure your wedding is just perfect- after all the practice of planning our barbies and stuffed animals weddings, how could it not be?! Awww what fun we had together!

 Eugenie, you always have been and forever will be my best friend. I know that Heavenly Father sent you to me because I needed you in my life. You are so dear to my heart. What comfort it brings me to know that you have found the right man to marry at the right place, and at the right time. This eternal covenant marriage will bless you and your future family - which by the way you are NOT allowed to start until after I get home! But really Eugenie, I just wanted to take this time to tell you how much I love you.

You are a dreamer, that is the most beautiful quality you possess. You have the ability to see things not as they are, but as they can be. You see the good and the true deep potential in all things and in all people. This is something that I have always admired about you. You light up a room with your bright happy smile. You trust people and love them completely. I can't tell you how many times I have found comfort in your kindness. Never stop being you. Never lose you-the happy, bubbly, fun loving Eugenie that you are. Man Jerel sure is lucky to have you!

I always told people that whoever ended up marrying you would be a very lucky man. I know that you will bring so much happiness into Jerel's life, and he will bring you such great joy as well. I remember the night you first called me and told me about him- man that boy love you from the second he met you! You talked differently about Jerel and I knew that you truly loved him.

Now here we are just a little over a year later and you're marrying the man of your dreams. I truly wish I could be there with you right now to say all to you in person, but this little letter will have to do. I wish I could be there to stand beside you as you begin this new journey in your life. But know that I am always there for you- eternally.

I hope that this day has been all you've ever dreamed of and more. I look forward to the bright future that awaits you and Jerel. I am so grateful to have you as my big sister. What a legacy you have left and an example you have set- not only for me, but our whole family. May God bless you and fill you forever more with His love. On this day in particular know that your little sis over in Mesa, Arizona loves you and can't wait to celebrate your one year anniversary with you.
Love eternally,
ps- even though Jerel never asked me for permission to marry you, I still give my approval ;)