Sunday, December 29, 2013

He NEVER gives up on any of them - and neither should we (Dec 23)

Dear Family!!!

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!!

Sister Hamstead