Sunday, April 14, 2013

Now Let's Take it to the Next Level - Constant Progression!

So Surprise! Happy Tuesday Pday :) Yesterday my zone had our interviews with President Ellsworth and our car inspections, so our Pday got pushed back one day- which actually turned out to be a miracle because Micheal's baptism was yesterday! Oh my gosh that was such an incredible experience! I was just soooo happy that I got to go back and be a part of it! We tried super duper hard to get an investigator there, but last minute they all bailed :( So they gave me a part in the program so I could go. Yay! I just helped the other sisters teach the restoration while Micheal was changing. I am sooooo glad that I was there. I would not have missed it for the world! I learned so sooo much from the time Sister Wong and I were teaching Micheal. I am just sad Sister Wong couldn't be there- since she is now back at Temple Square. The spirit really was just so strong and yes I cried. I just feel so much love for these people and I know how much their lives are going to be blessed from their choice to be baptized. I love being a missionary! I asked President Ellsworth yesterday during my interview what
his favorite part of being a missionary is and he said being a conduit for the spirit and seeing it work through you to touch the hearts of the people. Amen to that. I just absolutely LOVE being a missionary and seeing peoples lives change. It is such a blessing and a privilege! 

Conference was awesome as usual. I just can't believe it's already come and gone. It was really funny being at the VC the night before all of us sisters were super excited- it felt like Christmas Eve! My top 3 favorites were President Monson, President Uchtdorf, and Elder Holland- those 3 are always my favorites :) But all of the talks were amazing. For me the theme that really stuck out was progression. So you're at this point, you're a good person, living the commandments, and now let's take it to the next level. Constant progression- loved it! I just love how plain and clear all of the talks were. These are the ways of the Lord- they are unalterable and unchanging. You follow His ways and you will be happy- simple as that! Yes, I did see Ali Brown! haha a group of sisters and I were watching it in the back room of the VC and I made them go back and pause it just to be sure. haha Ali's famous! It was also funny during another session when we were watching it in the back room in the VC when that cute old man from Guatemala was speaking. When he said he was sealed in the Mesa Temple we all cheered! haha Yay go mesa We love our temple :)

One of my other favorite talks was President Uchtdorf's from the YW broadcast. I loved it! I love looking at life as an adventure, because it totally is! Whatever we get out of this life is depended upon what we put into it. If you want to live a good happy life then do good happy things. Set goals, work hard, and make everyday an adventure! 

So cool story from this last week. So sister Remington and I have been trying really hard to be productive vs. busy- which tends to be quite a challenge when some days you only have 1 hour in your area. So, we called a premissionary YW to come with us to our appointments for the day and off we went. One by one they all canceled, flaked, stood us up, or just didn't answer the door. It happens. We were down to our last 15 minutes and we found ourselves at the condos by a less active woman. We went into the woman's home and talked with her for a little bit and it winded up being a really good meeting. Then we left and it was time for our next appointment, so we headed for the car. As we were walking I noticed this woman across the parking lot unloading things form her car. I thought to myself we should go talk to her, but then remembering the time decided not to. Just then I literally felt forced to go over to her direction and told Sister Remington and Kaitlynn (member) that we had to go talk to her. So we introduce ourselves, are talking to her, and she opens up. She tells us she's had a very hard life and is looking for peace and direction. She said she was so happy that we had come over to talk to her and that she had been praying for some type of help. We testified to Marianne (that's her name) of the restored gospel and that she can find the peace she is looking for through it. It was such an amazing experience! She asked where our church was and when she could come. When she realized that we were Mormons she got even more excited and said she had been wanting to learn more about us! We set up a return appointment and then went on our way. And to think I wasn't going to go talk to her! Listen to the promptings of the spirit! You never know when your actions may be an answer to someones prayer. When we got back into the car Kaitlynn then said that everything else we had scheduled that day didn't work for a reason because we were supposed to be there at that exact time and place so we could help Marianne. I know that is true as well. Even though things may not seem to be working out the way we want them to, I know that the Lord has a greater and even grander plan- & we need to trust in His timing. 

Really cool story from the VC (I am just going to copy & paste it from my letter to President Ellsworth)The Willis family came into the Visitors Center with their two children and Janine- a foreign exchange student from Germany. I got to talk to them a little bit as I took them around the Visitors center and found out that Janine was not a
member of the church- yet. I asked her if she got to watch General conference with the family and she said yes. Brother Willis then told me that Janine had also been attending seminary, church, and Young Women activities with his daughter. This same daughter also gave Janine a Book of Mormon and invited her to read it. Janine then bore her testimony to me that she knew it was true and that she has read it 2 times already! Before Janine came to Mesa she had never heard of Mormons before and now she is inviting her friends back home to learn more about us! She has started a competition with some of her friends back home to read the Book of Mormon as many times as they can in the next 2 months before she goes home. Janine is doing missionary work already! Janine and the Willis' daughter have a special bond and a sweet friendship. They have already planned the trip out to Germany for Janine's baptism in the coming months. All of this great missionary work has come from a simple act of an invitation from a great young woman. So exciting! I love seeing all of these miracles!!We are also teaching this awesome foreign exchange student from Brazil named Maria! So cool!

Anyways family, one of the greatest lessons I have learned this far really is just to trust God. Sometimes people will break your heart. It just kills me when we are teaching these awesome people and you know that they know what they are hearing and feeling is true  but they aren't willing to act upon it, and there is nothing you can do about it. People have their agency- oh I also loved Elder Scott's talk from conference talking about just this. Sometimes you do everything you can- you pray so hard for these people, you plan for them, and you really love them and want them to experience this happiness- but they have the right to act for themselves. I was talking to a senior couple about this and the Elder said, "just wait till you have kids. Sometimes you just want to take their agency away completely and tell them they can't do that, but you can't. So you just keep loving them, praying for them, and doing everything you can to help them". OY. I am so sorry that I caused you guys worry as my parents. I can't even imagine how much it pains a parent to have one of their children wander from what they know is right. PAINFUL.But anyways, on a happier note life is so incredibly wonderful and overflowing with miracles. I love you all sooo much and hope you have a great week! 

Loved my letters from my favorite Applewhites! hahaha ps Eugenie, I kind of ruined your prank by reading the folded up paper first :/ haha oh well! I will write you both back later! 

Love, Sister Hamstead

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Because He Lives, We Too Shall Live Again

Dear family,
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I know I did! Although I did miss that lamb and mint jelly, but it's all good :) Thank you soooo much for the package!! You guys are the best and were truly inspired in what to send to me! Well since I haven't been eating sugar I am proud to say that I didn't eat any of it, but gave it all away. It was so fun! I divvied out the
candy, toys, and little decorations and we got to go around the day before and day of Easter to give to our investigators as well as those who really needed it. We had a really special experience yesterday where we had about 7 cupcakes left to give out (loved all the cute little toppers and the cupcake paper things that were shaped like flowers were soo cute too!) when Bishop got up during 3rd hour and told us all that there was a family living in our ward boundaries that needed help. The families situation is very sad- 7 children living in the ghetto and the father just left them. The woman called Bishop completely desperate and told him that she has nothing to give or feed her children. I just knew immediately where we were going to go take those last 7 cupcakes as well as the little bunny and chick you put in the package too. So church ended and we went over to their apartment. The mother answered the door- we have talked with her before so she recognized us, and let us in. We gave each one of the kids a cupcake and gave the 2 littlest the toys. We then gathered them all around and taught them the Easter story and shared an Easter scripture from the Book of Mormon. The mothers eyes teared up and it was just so incredible to be there. We testified to her that the gospel of Jesus Christ is what truly gives us the faith and hope that we need to make it through this life. She has been busy in the past- I mean she has 7 young children and now she's a single mom, but we promised her that as she makes time for God and does the things necessary to help her family that He will bless her even more than she can imagine. I will never forget this experience. 

This Easter I truly have come to know the hope that comes through having faith in the Savior and the promises which He has made to each of us. I know that because He lives we too shall live again. I was just so touched by the Easter Pageant. I am so sad that I only get to serve during 1! I literally watched it every night I was there and can basically quote the whole thing now, but I still LOVE it! I took some pics of it, but of course they don't do it justice. I just loved sitting out in the massive crowd surrounded by people from all over the world and from all walks of life and just sitting there thinking to myself- is this really my mission? I am soooo blessed!!!! I have been called to the best mission in the world! 

Sorry to brag, but I just really feel so blessed to be a part of this work here in Mesa and to have the opportunity to work at the Visitors Center is such a blessing! Life is just so good :) Oh! So I saw 3 people this past week at the Easter pageant: Sister Collins!!! Yayy!!! It is so fun seeing her! It's kind of funny because we are both exactly the same just missionaries and instead of calling her Lauren it's Sister Collins haha! It's fun :) I saw Ashley Sant again! I love seeing people from home :) sooo cool! And I saw Elder Baxter.... or I mean Cole hahaha! That was soo weird! Now I'm the missionary and I got to ask him for referrals! So weird. 

Oh! So really weird/funny situation this week! We were going to an appointment in this apartment complex and I see this guy and think to myself, "we should go talk to him"... but we were running late so we just went to our appointment. Well the lady had to reschedule so we went back over to see if the guy was still there and he was!- that NEVER happens. So we go up and start talking to him and I notice that he kind of has a southern accent. So we are talking to him and eventually I ask where he's from and he says Atlanta, Georgia! I asked him which part and he says just a suburb called Johns Creek!! WHAT! I told him I am from Alpharetta and that I went to Milton High school. He went to Chattahoochee and is just in Mesa for a few weeks for spring training for the cubs! I just thought that was a cool little run in and we gave him a Book of Mormon :) We forgot his name though so maybe you could figure that one out.
Mommy Schurtz and all the babies she has trained.
With Easter pageant we have had hardly any time in our area! We went on splits twice with some awesome young women that will be leaving on their missions very soon. It was so fun! Sister Remington and I got to do the training this week in district meeting and we gave in on applying the gospel to using our time wisely. It taught me a lot! It is just so amazing to me how the gospel really does apply to absolutely everything. One thing that really hit me too was that we have been given the key to progression- it's the gospel! When we are truly living it and applying it in all aspects of our lives there is no way that we can't progress. Love it :)

Anyways, this week has been amazing! I am sad Easter Pageant is over, but I am sooo excited for conference next weekend! Yayyy!! I just can't believe it's conference time again! Time is flying by so fast it's scary!

I'm so glad you all had a great time at Eugenie and Jerel's reception in Kinston. Send me more pictures! I'm so glad you guys all get along so well. Ohhhh what did she get? Did you guys get everything figured out with the condo? Sorry business is being so complicated! That's no fun! I know it will all work out though, keep up the hard work! 

I love you guys and hope you have a great week!!!

Sister Kelsey Hamstead