Monday, November 18, 2013

Dear Family, I know there is a God. He is Real.

Dear family, 

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!! Yayyy! 

Sis. Miller goes home in 6 weeks!

Me and Sis. T. - staying together!

So her birthday is December the 12th and 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 from 5:30-10. 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 :)

Sister love!
Have a great week family!! Pray for miracles and then do everything you can to facilitate them!!

Sister Hamstead

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hitting the ground running (Oct 28)

Dear family,

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.

Send me pics!! 
Have a great week!!
Sister Hamstead

I mean really, what could it hurt? (Nov. 4)

First of all wow papa that was quite the costume!! hahaha where on earth did you find that thing???

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! Sister T and I had a meeting in the morning about ipads- our entire mission now has them along with facebook. I am basically done cleaning mine up so I will be posting stuff soon! Be sure to share it or like it or even better find some things you love and post them on your wall! I love using facebook as a missionary tool. I have seen soo many miracles and I am excited now to get to use my own facebook from home to share my testimony. Blessings!! 

Halloween Costumes
So anyways after the meeting we only had a little bit of time to do some studies and then we went to our shift at the vc... as you might imagine it was pretty dang slow haha! It was really fun to be there with some of the sisters though. It was crazy because neither of our wards were having halloween parties :/ Oh well! 

So let me think what else happened this week... We are just so busy! I wish I could remember all of the tender mercies that we see every day. It is just so hard to capture what it is really like to be on a mission and I know my emails definitely do not do it justice. But I try! 

So this area I am in right now is probably one of the hardest areas I have been in my whole mission. It is so hard to find people! We have tried soo many different things. We finally came to the conclusion that we HAVE to work through the members. duh. That's always the answer lol You guys need to be inviting people over and having the missionaries come and teach. Help them find appointments! Missions in America are just so different than foreign missions and we need the help of the ward. We had a really cool experience this week that goes along with that. So our high counselor over missionary work (Brother Free btw he knows the Coltons!) lives in our ward and he made a commitment to us at the beginning of the transfer that he was going to have somebody ANYBODY in his home to teach on October 30th. He said he was going to do everything he could to invite somebody to meet with us and if it ended up being another active family in the ward or a potential investigator he was going to make it happen. Such faith! It made me super excited! Why don't we all do that? I mean really what could it hurt? And I promise that the missionaries will LOVE you for it :) So anyways the 30th came around and Brother Free told us he had invited a man he home teaches who has been inactive for about 5 years maybe more. This man told him that he was really looking for a change in his life and asked him if he has read any good motivating books. So Brother Free took this as a missionary opportunity and told him to reread the Book of Mormon. He then invited him to meet with us so that we could share the message of the restoration with him and explain more about the Book of Mormon. The man accepted! So Sister T's English is coming along really well but wow we really had to practice A LOT. I was kind of nervous, but I knew the spirit would help her- and me too! The spirit was soooo strong in that lesson!! I just love hearing the simple testimony of my sweet companion. It truly was a miracle and I was just so grateful for Brother Free in helping us to fulfill our purpose. Family, you need to help the missionaries. It's not hard! Invite people and then invite the missionaries as well. Help them fulfill their purpose and I know our ward will see miracles. Brother Free later called us and told us this man was very touched. We have a lesson planned with him this week again. I love seeing how missionary work has evolved- even since I began my mission! This truly is the work of salvation. 

Ok so a not so pleasant experience to tell you about. I had a nasty run in with an anti. We were out at dinner with a cute grandpa and his grandson. It was so great and a sweet lady walked by and said "Hi sisters!" We said hi back and that's when I first heard him.... I thought he was talking directly to me because we was sitting in the booth right behind us. Oh my gosh this was one of the most horrible experiences I have had. He was talking loudly enough so that I could hear so I thought at first that maybe he was joking. He was saying such horrible things! I just thought to myself just ignore and don't make a scene. If I react than he wins and I didn't want to give him that so I tried my very best to ignore. I could hear the lady he was sitting with ask him to please stop talking about it and to be more quiet but he just wouldn't stop. He was clearly listening to our conversation and was making such rude and degrading comments about things. I just thought to myself who thinks like that? Why are some people so mean? Finally I just couldn't take it anymore and I very politely turned around (remembering that I am wearing a name tag and that I am representing the church...) asked him to please stop and told him that his comments were very offensive. I then went ahead and corrected him on some of the things he had said. The poor woman looked mortified and the man was just like "oh my bad I didn't know you could hear me" I looked in his eyes and it was just like darkness. The lady said they would stop and I thanked them and turned back around. Of course the man did not stop, but thankfully they left very shortly after that. As you can imagine that experience left a very bad taste in my mouth. Sister T thankfully couldn't understand the things he was saying, but she could tell that I was upset. It was a miracle that we were weekly planning that night so we went home and I just cried. I can't even tell you how sad I felt for that man. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such good people. All of you my family and my friends bring such a light into my life. When we allow dark and negative influences into our life it is like befriending that man. I wish people would ask themselves do I really want to be on that side? I am so grateful to stand on the side with all of you, with the Prophet Thomas S Monson and with the Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that we know what to do to find happiness in this life and it just breaks my heart to see people so absorbed in negativity and lies. Jesus Christ himself tells us the things we need to do in the Book of Mormon and the Bible.
 Matthew 26:25, "And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall observe to do the things which ye have seen me do, and bear record of me even unto the end". and 3 Nephi 27:21 "Verily, verily I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do". 
So that is the question..."what would Jesus do?". Jesus loved everyone! He was obedient to His Father and He kept all of the commandments. Our love for the Savior Jesus Christ must be our motivation in all things that we do in this life. Every day as I present the
Christus statue and play the beautiful narration one scripture in particular always sticks out me - 
"If ye love me keep my commandments" John 14:15
 We all need to increase our love for, loyalty to, and trust in the Savior Jesus Christ. This is not an easy task in the world we live in today, but I know that we can try! There's a line in the very beginning of preach my gospel that I LOVE. It says: 
More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children.
I know that promise is extended to all of us! The secret to happiness in this life is to follow the example of the Savior Jesus Christ.

I love you all! Sorry I know it probably seems like I ramble a lot in these emails, but there are just sooo many thoughts going through my head! We also saw a miracle on Halloween night when a recent convert from Gable ward came in that I hadn't seen in forever!!! She has been struggling with smoking and has just been having a hard time. It was such a miracle! I sat down and talked with her and mom I shared with her the talk you told me about in your letter :) Thank you sooo much for writing that to me!! I loved it and know that it has now helped somebody else too! 

I love you all sooo much and hope you have an amazing week!! I just can't believe it's November. I am seriously freaking out. I keep thinking it's summer! Probably because it's still in the 80's lol. LOVE YOU!!!

Sister Hamstead

ps we went hiking this morning!! Woke up at 4:30 and a big group of us went up to Las Sendas area and hiked up to the wind caves. Soo beautiful! The desert really does have it's own beauty :)