Monday, October 28, 2013

Doubt your Doubts before you doubt your Faith - Oct 21

Dearest family,

Hello! I love you all so much and I am so grateful for all of your love and support. This last week was just another amazing week out here in Mesa, Arizona. The miracles never cease! So last Monday we went over to some missionaries place and watched Ephraim's Rescue. It was sooo good! You should all watch it!! As we were driving to our dinner/home evening appointment for that night I noticed this one guy walking down the road. Something (the spirit) told me that I should pull over and talk to him. Well I kept driving and told myself that if we got to the appointment early then I would turn around and go talk to him. So we get there and of course we are early and so we turn around and go back up to where this guy was walking. We pull over a block ahead and walk down to meet him. We said hi and introduced ourselves. He told us his name and mentioned that he had only briefly talked with missionaries before. I asked him what his personal beliefs are and he told me that he has a problem with Christianity because he believes that man has changed things and the Bible has been changed so he doesn't really know what to believe. I then briefly taught him about the apostasy and restoration. His face just completely lit up and I told him that the Book of Mormon is evidence of this restoration. I asked him if he would like one and he said yes and that he would love to study it! It was also pretty cool that there turned out to be a restoration pamphlet inside of that particular Book of Mormon :) I invited him to start with reading the introduction of the Book of Mormon and invited him to read and study about the restoration. I then got his info and sent it off to Sister Gordon and Sister Finau- they are over the ysas in our area. It was just such a cool experience that goes to show that we need to listen to the promptings of the spirit. I could have easily just dismissed that thought and gone on to our appointment, but because I went back I was able to help that guy. Miracle!

So it is crazy white washing 2 big wards when you are in the vc for 6 hours and also have a total of 4 hours of study every day. It is really hard to balance everything and get things done! We are relying a lot on prayer and just trying to follow the spirit in order to know where we need to go and when. Our time is so precious and I feel like it is just slipping away from me!

Now another miracle. We were trying to go and visit some potential investigators and felt that we needed to go and see this one couple in particular (probably because our ward mission leader was very adamant about it haha!). So we go to the house and no one is there. Lame. He told us that the husband works at the golf course just across the street and that we should try checking at the club house. We went up to the door and  it was closed. Nooo! We felt pretty defeated and were sad to report back to our ward mission leader. Just as I was getting into the car I saw a man in a golf cart drive up to the club house. The one thing our ward mission leader had told us he knew about this man was that he was black- well this man was white so I knew it wasn't him, but for some reason I felt we should go and try. Earlier that day I had been on exchanges in the VC with sister Weedman. She had told me a story about how sometimes the spirit prompts us to do things that seem odd, but if we just do it then we will understand why after. So I thought to myself.. hmm this is kind of an odd thing to do.. I'll do it! So we get back out of the car and go back up to the club house. I think sister T was pretty confused. I didn't really know what we were going to say, but I just took a breath and knocked on the door. The man answered it right away and we asked for the man we were looking for. His answer surprised me. He said it was him!! So our ward mission leader gave us some faulty info... haha! I was so grateful that I listened to that prompting from the spirit! We would have missed him! Family I want to invite all of you this week to pray for the strength and courage to follow the spirit. I can promise you that you will see miracles!- and who doesn't want to see more of those? :) If a thought comes to your mind please don't just dismiss it- do it! You can save yourself a whole lot of grief!

Oh my goodness so we had interviews with President Jenkins this week and OF COURSE I got lost and ended up getting there about 45 minutes late. Yeah I totally threw off his schedule! woops! haha Having these interviews always reminds me of the precious fathers interviews I had with Papa. Papa, don't stop doing those. They are so important! Ask the kids what they are learning, what they are studying. Set goals with them and find out what their dreams are. There is something special about having that one on one time with the Priesthood leader of your home. I know they had a great impact on me and the kids need them even more than ever.

We did some service for a family on Saturday. We painted pantry shelves! I just like to imagine that I am helping you all out with your projects every time I get to serve the members :)

Ok so I skipped a ton, but I just want to tell you the miracles of Sunday. I have said it before and I will say it again- Sunday's truly are a special day.

So I had been given a little card from some sisters a few months back from Michael Morton telling me about a fireside he was going to be giving on October 20th and he said that he really wanted me to come. He even called President Jenkins and asked him if I could be there. So the rules for those kinds of things are that you have to bring an investigator. Well in our area we didn't have any, but that wasn't going to stop me! We got to work and prayed that Heavenly Father would help us to get to the fireside. It's just amazing the way the Lord works! One of our potential investigators showed up to church and he said he would come and his cousin (who is a member) said she would drive all of us! So that happened in one ward and in the other a part member family showed up and after church we talked with them and they agreed to meet with us! They are in the process of moving down here from Scottsdale, so we are going to have to be kinda patient on that one, but none the less I know that was a miracle! Heavenly Father answers prayers.

So yesterday at the VC Sister T showed me that she had brought her call letter on her mission with her. She had shrunk it down really cute and had it laminated. It was soo cute! It was so nice to read that again and it brought a tear to my eye! I think the first time I read it I had just been so overwhelmed that none of it really sunk in. But one thing really stuck out to me this time that I read it,

 "As you devote your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other affairs, the Lord will bless you with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.". 

I want to tell you that my testimony of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has grown on my mission. I know without any doubts that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. It doesn't matter what people way, what dirt they dig, what irrelevant questions they may ask (and believe me I've heard just about every possible thing out there!) nothing can shake my testimony. I know this gospel is true because I have lived it. I see the blessings and happiness it brings to me. If there were ever a time that you feel doubts coming into your mind and heart I just want you to refer all of them back to the restoration. Simply ask yourself, "Did Joseph Smith see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, or did he make it ALL up?". You may wonder how you can know this for yourself- read the Book of Mormon. This is the convincing evidence of Joseph Smith's divine call to be a Prophet of these latter days. 

The fireside Michael spoke at only added to the testimony I already had. I can't even tell you how wonderful it was to see one of your recent converts up there teaching the congregation about how they came to know that this gospel is true. Family, Michael is Jewish and I want to tell you that the more you learn about the Jewish faith the more you will know that this church is true. I want to invite you all to have a family home evening on this. There are 2 articles I want to invite you to read from Jan. 2000 ensign. They are called: "Mounting evidence of the Book of Mormon" and "The golden plates and the feast of trumpets". It was so sweet to see Michael's excitement as he shared his findings with everyone in attendance. 

You can know these things are true for yourself. That is the greatest part of this gospel. Everyone can know, everyone can experience the happiness and richness of life that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ's church has been restored on the earth today. The Priesthood has been restored- this is so key! We need this to make it back to our Heavenly Father. Always remember to take
President Uchtodorfs advice to "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith". There will be hard times, there will be times where it may seem like giving up is the easier thing to do, but just like running in a race you just have to push through those hard times. It is so much harder to keep your pace once you slow down and begin to walk. Don't stop, don't give up, when you feel like slowing down push harder. Lean on my faith if you need to. 
I am grateful for the happiness and fulfillment that this gospel has blessed me with. 
I love you all and I am so grateful that we can be together forever. 

Keep the faith!
Love eternally,
Sister Hamstead

Be rich in contentment through being grateful - Oct 7

Soo many adventures this week!! Where to even start...

Monday I had a super cool experience. We had a lesson with Alfonso that night before home evening and we were talking about the restoration. Guess who we had come to the lesson with us? Imani!! It was the coolest thing ever to have one of my best friends participate in a lesson!! It was such a special moment and one that I will NEVER forget :) Then we had home evening- which was a fellowship dinner and we all got to eat dinner together. It got out that Imani and I know eachother from back home and it was so funny haha

We had so many meetings this week! I can't even begin to tell you. Mission leadership counsels, sister training leader meetings, zone training meeting, sooooooooooo many meetingsss!! But of course I loved them all and learned so much! 

Our ward had a softball game and we stopped in for the first few minutes to say hi to everyone and set up another time with Alfonso. It was so funny because our ward was playing Gable! Man I just love these people soo much!! 

So I have to tell you a cool miracle that happened this week at the Visitors Center. So I was at the back greet and I saw these 2 women coming around the corner. I said hi and one of them looked at me kinda funny. She then says "I know you! Don't I know you?!" Aww man that is the worst when people recognize you and you have to try REALLY hard to remember where you know them from. But all the sudden it came to me and I remembered who she was even though she looked way different and it had literally been a year since I had seen her! Virginia!! I ran over and gave her a big hug! I don't know if you all remember Virginia from my first area? She was a less active woman that we were working with. We had become really close with her and were visiting her 2-3 times a week. She was just the absolute sweetest, but she had struggles. I think what happened was that she got discouraged and then she just decided to shut everything and everyone out. She had literally disappeared! I never had even gotten to say bye to her when I got transferred! And then here she was one year later. I asked her how she was doing and she told me she is having a hard time. I got her information and I am going to teach her at the Visitors Center. Her friend that had come in with her mentioned that they had just discussed how Virginia needed to get a good support group. It was such a miracle and we all felt it. I know that Heavenly Father led Virginia to me that day. He puts people in our paths to help us. This is one of the greatest ways that Heavenly Father shows His love for us. This is how He almost always answers our prayers. When Virginia was leaving I overheard her say to her friend "That was incredible!". It truly was a miracle. After all this time. :)

So General Conference was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! One of the biggest impressions I received was the importance of choices. I also felt like there was a lot that was discussed about Heavenly Father and how He is still aware of us. I am so grateful for conference! I think it is amazing that I can write out a list of questions and by the end of conference all of them have been answered. I hope you all enjoyed conference as well!

Oh my goodness so get ready for a crazy story. So. This was the last week of the transfer.
Did I tell you that? So. Sister Gordon and I were either going to stay together for one more (her last transfer) or we would get split. This whole week everyone was making predictions. They are doing it different this transfer and trying to put all vc sisters with vc sisters in order to prepare for Christmas lights training. There is only one new VC sister coming so we were sure Sister Gordon would get released as a Sister Training leader and I would go to another sister and still be a sister training leader. So we are waiting and after prep meeting on Friday morning President Jenkins came in and was releasing sisters/calling new sisters to leadership positions. Sister Gordon and I waited and.. nothing! Neither of us got released! So then we were sure that we were staying together. 
both of my babies are training! Sister Remington is training 2 sisters at once and her previous trainee is training! I'm a great grandma!!
So fast forward to Saturday night.
Isaac, Stewart and Rebecca
Rebecca, Stewart, and Isaac came in!! It was sooo sweet to see them! They were so kind and bought me gifts and bought doughnuts for all the sisters on shift. So all the sisters loved them :) haha! But so everyone keeps making comments to me saying did you get your phone call?? You only get a phone call if you are training and I didn't get one... Elder Beckstrand told me to keep my phone on me and still nothing! Sister Pickett is going full field in Gable ward and is training!! I am sooo proud of her! She is such an awesome missionary and one of my dearest friends :) So we go home and FINALLY we get a call from our district leader at like 
10:15 and.... Sister Gordon is staying in the area and is still going to be a sister training leader, and I am being released as a sister training leader and I am leaving the area, and I am going to be training the new VC sister. WOW I was sooooo shocked!!! No notice whatsoever!! So the sister I am going to be training is
from Kirabati? Some little island so this will be an exciting transfer! I am sooooo sad to be leaving YSA!! I haven't had a home ward since... April? It has been a while so I feel like there is going to be a little culture shock haha!

Family I want to thank you for your prayers. I feel them and I see daily miracles because of them. I hope you all know that I am praying for all of you too! I want to invite you all that while you are going through these kind of stressful times to think about your blessings. Slow down and take the time to remember all the things you are grateful for. That is what I have to do when things happen that are just out of my control. I love all of you sooo much! I know that the Lord is aware of all of you and your individual needs.

I hope that you all have a great week and that you see the Lord's hand in your day to day life. Recognize the small things. I love this qoute from Elder Bednar's talk:

 "Be rich in contentment through being grateful." 

Wise words from an apostle of the Lord :) 

Sister Hamstead

This Book is something special - Oct 14

Dear Family,

Man you guys need to slow down! haha take a break some times, will ya? Just kidding I am inspired by your dedication to all of the many different things you are doing. Whenever I start to get tired I think about all of the hundreds of projects going on at home, and then feel better haha! Know I would love to be working along side you all in this big home project, but I guess my efforts are best used out here. I'll try to get some extra blessings for all of you ;) 

I think that is so great that Abby is going to take sewing lessons!!! That is a skill I really want to learn. When I get home she can teach me! haha

So my new area/comp:
Where to even start... I just feel so blessed!! 
So I will introduce my comp to you, her name is actually sister Taumawara- try to say that 10 times fast! Or even once! haha She also likes to be called sister T :) She is so short and cute! I just love her and how precious/innocent she is. 

She experienced Walmart for the first time and self check out. She also had tacos for the first time and chili. Precious! She loves to eat fish from a tin and lots of rice. She loved going through the car wash and thought it was such a cool thing! I am starting to realize really how lazy we Americans are haha! Oh she was also amazed by the gps and how it tells us where to go. I just LOVE her!!! She speaks pretty good English when she understands what is being said, so I am just trying to build her vocab and confidence. She is a convert to the church and her and her 2 older brothers(one is less active) are the only members out of her entire family (9 kids +parents). She has such a deep and sincere testimony. Precious little thing cries every time she shares her conversion story. So this is her story:

Her older brother first joined the church when she was young and when she turned 12 he told her to meet with the missionaries. Her parents agreed to it so that she could go to the church school on the island. She wasn't too happy because she had been looking into the protestant faith and was actually about to be baptized into that church. So she listened to her family and got baptized/went to the church school (that is where she learned english). So she was a member, but didn't really have a testimony. Then one time she was on a boat going to another part of the island to go back to school when all the sudden the boat started sinking! There were too many people on the boat so her and her friend decided to jump out and swim to shore! Scary! When they got to the shore all of their school supplies was ruined (reminds me of that time on that island... what was it called?! You know when we all almost drowned and lost all our stuff! haha!). She was looking at her books to see if anything was still ok to use when she pulled out her Book of Mormon. It was actually her brothers Book of Mormon from his mission and it was all marked up. She hoped and prayed that it would be ok. She opened it up and it was all in tact, only the edges of the pages had gotten wet. That shocked Sister T and she decided that this book was something special. She concluded that God only would have saved this book if it was something important. So she decided to read it and pray about it. She told me it was the most spiritual experience she has had and she came to know for herself that it is true. So even though only her and her older brother are the only active members in the church, she decided that she had to come on a mission and share this message with others. 

Yes, she is as amazing as she sounds. Everything that comes out of her mouth is so simple yet profound. I am so grateful to have her as my companion.

I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and the amazing influence it has had on my life- and MILLIONS of other peoples lives as well. Family, continue to study and ready the Book of Mormon. I know that it will bring you closer to God, it will help you to better understand your purpose in this life, and it will give you direction. Whenever I feel that I need to find more peace in my life I read the scriptures and it gives me so much peace. I can promise all of you that as you prayerfully study and read that Book you will feel the spirit more in your life. Who doesn't want that?!

I am sad to not be in a ysa ward, but it is nice to be with families again. We got asked to help out in primary our first Sunday  Soo fun!! The missionaries before us weren't teaching anybody so please pray for us that we will be able to find people to teach. 

I love you all sooo much and hope you have a great week!! And please be safe!!!!!!!! David you are in my prayers. Everything will be ok :)

Sorry this email is kinda short!
Love you all!!
Sister Hamstead

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

An Opportunity to Lean on the Lord

So this has been an incredible week- and an incredibly busy week too!!

Let me just give you a little overview so you can see what I mean.

Monday was pday- Got the package from you all!!! I love you all sooo much!! Thank you soo much for sending that to me :) You all are the best! I loved it all! We only had one hour in our area and we had signed up to help prep for home evening. Then we had to go to an emergency mlc that night with president and the zone leaders all about facebook. So that was Monday.

Then Tuesday we had exchanges again! Last exchange of the transfer! I went to Sister Hamberger and Finau's area. It was an awesome experience and I learned so much. The exchange had started right after our shift at the Visitors Center at 3pm and went until right before our vc shift the next day at 3pm. Yes I was REALLY TIRED. But I learned some of my greatest lessons on this last exchange. It really was a priceless experience and I will have to write you about it later. 

Hanging out at the Jenkins

So then Wednesday was over and then Thursday finally came and we got to go to the temple! I love going to the temple and I had such a sweet experience. I always get something different out of it every time and I will have to write you about it some time.

So Thursday was finally my first time in the area all week! And we were busy. I just don't know how the time flies by sooo quickly!! We had 2 awesome lessons with a sweet girl named Danielle and then another one with a boy named Christian. Both are members of the church who have lost their way and are wanting to be taught the gospel so that they can decide for themselves whether or not it is true. I have never been in an area where we have worked so consistently with members of the church who are struggling. I love it! It is all missionary work- the work of salvation. 

So that was Thursday and then on Friday we had zone conference all day until our shift at the visitors center at 3 to the rest of the night. I loved zone conference!! We talked a lot about the atonement and about striving to become our very best. I am just so grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ and for His sacrifice for me and for all people here on this earth. I just felt so overwhelmed with gratitude as I thought back upon my life and the times where I have seen the atonement in action. I am so grateful for my trials and that God loves me enough to let me struggle. I know that when I struggle or am going through a hard time it is an opportunity to lean on the Lord. 
"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy leaden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."- Matthew 11:28-30.
 I know this is true. I see trials as an evidence of the reality of a loving Heavenly Father. 

So onto Saturday, this day was so crazy and kinda weird. Started off on a funny note when I forgot my name tag. NOOO. We had prep meeting that morning at the visitors center and then we were on shift right after. I kept borrowing different sisters tags throughout our shift for a while. Then some lady called me out on it and said the other Sister was named Sister Pickett. She asked Sister Gordon if we were related and she told her no but that I had just forgotten my tag that day. The lady then looked at me and said oh so she's a liar! I wanted to cry and die all at the same time. I told Sister Gordon that I did NOT want to go in there to end that movie and testify to them when that lady was sitting in there. But because I have a good companion she made me go in there, but I told her I wasn't going to say anything. Well of course the spirit had other plans and I testified. That was kind of a mini trial for me because I had felt like that woman had discredited everything that I was saying by calling me a liar, but I then learned an important lesson. It's not about me. The spirit will testify of truth. All I need to do is be willing to take that step of faith and act. I am not a teacher, I am a facilitator. So even though that lady had really hurt my feelings and had made me feel horrible about myself, I just had to forget myself and allow the spirit to work through me. 

So other crazy thing from this day.

So this sweet old lady came in and told me she needed help with her friend whom she had brought in. She said it had been a struggle to even get him in the door- which honestly I just do not understand! This place is all about Christ! Come on people!- But so ya he was super unhappy to be there. It made me really sad because if anything we just wanted this man to feel the spirit and have an enjoyable experience here. But he was so NOT open to it. He was super rude and was trying to get us to quote all of these random scriptures. He had asked sister Gordon to say one and then he asked me and I was kinda blunt, but I was just tired of crazy people being so rude! I would never do that to anybody! So when he told me to quote this scripture I just told him flat out NO. He asked why and I told him because I don't want to. He said he was just trying to test us and then sister Gordon told him that is not our purpose and respectfully told him what our purpose is. We then asked him and his member friend (who we found out was his girlfriend....) if they still wanted to see the exhibit and they said sure. He was so unhappy the whole time and tried to get up and leave during part of it but the lady told him she had never seen it and that she really wanted to stay. So they stayed and he was not happy about it. When we got to the screen where the Prophet talks about service he just looked at me and Sister Gordon as if we were crazy. That was probably one moment I will never forget. I knew what that man was thinking, "you think that guys a Prophet! You're crazy!" But at that moment I knew without a doubt that Thomas S Monson is a Prophet of God. I know that he has been called by God to lead and guide His church in these Latter-Days. I am grateful for these difficult experiences that help me recognize the testimony that I have.

So then Saturday night we watched the broadcast! There is a crazy story to tell about that, but it will have to wait for a later time :) then we went home and weekly planned.

SUNDAY! Best day of the week :) We had our shift in the morning from 9-12 and then we went to choir and had a brief correlation meeting with the ward missionaries and ward mission leader. Alfonso said he was going to be coming, so we went out in the foyer to wait for him. He came!!!!!!!! It was such an amazing miracle! Everyone just loved him and during combined 3rd hour Bishop asked him to stand up and share his experience. It was so powerful! Sister Gordon and I then got up and shared some ideas we have for the ward. We are starting a 40 day fast and missionary journals! For the closing song Bishop Wright did something really cool. He asked Sister Gordon and me to lead everyone in singing called to serve. The 2 of us started singing "Called to serve him----witness for his name" then all the RMs would stand up with us and sing with us and then at the chorus everyone stood up and joined us all. I wanted to cry it was soo powerful!! We did that for both verses :)

Family I just love life! I LOVE being a missionary. I love it because you see the Lord's hand in your life EVERY DAY. I am so grateful to be a missionary and to be able to serve my Heavenly Father.

Hope you all have a wonderful week! I will send you a letter with a few more experiences :)
LOVE YOU!!!!!!!
Sister Hamstead

Birthday Pics!


The Zone Birthday party