Monday, January 20, 2014

Super Duper Sick (January 13)

Man why is everybody getting sick?! Ha so funny cus I was super duper sick this last week too!! It was that same horrible stomach flu. It was so weird cus this was the first time that I have had to really stay in for a sickness during my mission. I thankfully have been blessed with pretty good health.

So let me tell you about my week :)
Monday night we had a home evening with Tanya at the Michaud's home (that is where I got the flu from :/ their kids have been sick and they thought they were all better...) We watched the Joseph Smith movie with her- well we tried too... man kids! haha You know I love them, there is no way I could have been a nanny all those years if I didn't but sometimes- especially in lessons- they drive me crazy. Maybe what really drives me crazy about it is that I can't really do anything about it. We can't hold kids or pick them up or anything. Ug. We also went by a sweet couple (wife is recent convert and the husband is a returning member) and we shared a thought with them about the temple. Did I tell you the Gilbert Temple Open House starts this Saturday??? I am sooooo excited!! :D We have some investigators that we are going to take with us and we are going to try to get Tanya over to see it as well. Sooo exciting!!

SO Tuesday was a crazy day. We were in the middle of our companionship study when all the sudden the District leader called to remind us about interviews and inspections that morning. WHAT. I was POSITIVE they weren't until later in the week! Man was I glad he called because last time we had gone to the wrong building and ended up being late 30 minutes late. You know me - horrible with directions haha! So anyways we got ready and headed over there. I was really sad because we had to cancel some appointments that I was really looking forward to :( But of course it was wonderful having that one on one time with President for my interview - the inspections are for the cars. He had us write down on a note card something we want to learn while we are on our missions that we believe will change the rest of our lives. Well you all know what has been on my mind and as I had this opportunity to really contemplate and ponder how this could change my life I felt that the Lord was really answering one of those deep personal questions of my soul. I must learn to trust in the Lord in all things. Trust that He has put me where He needs me and that this life is so much more than what calling you hold, what kind of job you obtain, or even the kind of house you live in. How do we measure our progress and be satisfied that we have lived up to the measure of our creation? That is the question and I have been pondering it and studying it out quite a bit. I read a talk in the Ensign while I was sick that talks about this man who is in his mid 30's and single. 

Being a member of the church is very hard for him because he wants to have a family- he wants more than anything to be a husband and father, but that opportunity has not come to him yet. Anyways he was preparing the sacrament and looked down at the little cups. He noticed that come of the cups had little holes in them and therefore were useless. He felt like that little cup and thought to himself that like the cup he will never be able to live up to the measure of his creation. Of course he recognized that this was not true and he found other ways to measure his progression even though the hand he was dealt in life was not exactly what he had hoped for or even expected. 

Family we CAN have confidence that we are on the right track when we are doing EVERYTHING we can. We have to stay close to the Lord- close enough so that we can hear those promptings of the spirit whispering to us that we need to be better. We need to listen and then obey. We need to have confidence in ourselves and recognize that God has a plan for us that may be different than what we had expected. It all comes down to trust and then humbling ourselves to accept the will of the Lord. Then number one question you can ask yourself is this, "Am I happy?". Let that set inside you for a few minutes and if you can honestly answer yes then you can know you are in the right place doing the right things in your life. If not, then turn to your Father in Heaven and He will direct your paths for good. So this is the lesson I have learned- now I need to work on applying it and mastering it- that's the hard part! ;)

Ok so Tuesday night was when I got super sick and I was down all day Wednesday. Although I really did still have to work because we had these other appointments that I did NOT want to cancel so I tried for hours to find sister T a companion to go with her and then I had to find someone to babysit me haha! Oh the awkwardness of being a missionary ;) But I was so proud of Sister T! She did it! I helped her thoroughly plan out the lessons and I tried to practice with her and then the member came to pick her up and I went to sleep haha 

Then on Thursday I was really dumb and decided that I was all better- I wasn't. But in the morning I knew I just had to go at least be on the temple grounds while you all were in the temple. I had such a sweet experience. We decided that we would just go in and sit in the lobby and finish our personal study. We walk in and I immediately look over and see 2 young men sitting in white next to their fathers with their little self endowment slip pinned to their shirts. I couldn't believe it! They probably thought I was so crazy just staring at them and smiling so big- I'm sure they thought I was crazy! haha But I just thanked Heavenly Father so much for allowing me to feel close to you all- and especially to Christopher during this special experience. I could just see him sitting there with Papa. It mad me feel like I was a little part of it :) I am so happy for you Christopher! I know that being endowed completely changed me and took my testimony from strong to solid. You are ready to go and serve the Lord! You have entered into covenants- one of them being consecration. Now is your time to truly give everything to the Lord. What a great adventure awaits you!! You can't even begin to imagine all that lies ahead- but know this, it will change you, but more than that it will help you become a worthy servant for our Heavenly Father :)

Friday morning I felt very sick again, but the Beckstrands were having a farewell breakfast at the Jenkins home so I HAD to go to that! I felt horrible like the whole time though and after I only lasted like an hour at my vc shift. I went home and slept and then began the process again of trying to find somebody to watch me and to be sister T's companion. Rachel Tyler was so sweet and came to stay with me one night and then Sister Ballard came to be with me the other. Everyone was just so sweet and they were all taking such good care of me. They brought me anything I could ever possibly need :) Sister T went out again and did an awesome job!! I think it was probably a good experience for her to really have to lead. Poor thing I know she is still super insecure with the language in lessons, but she has improved sooo much! I just wish I knew what I could do to help her more...

Then Saturday morning there was a big devotional for the Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Mesa missions and I was sick again :( Luckily Sister Ballard came and stayed with me again and Sister T got to go. As the day went on I began to feel a little bit better and then finally on Sunday I felt well enough to go to church! Miracle! Now I am completely back to health! So this next week is going to be crazy getting Tanya all prepared for her baptism on Saturday. Sooo exciting!!! I can't even describe to you the love you feel for these people as you go through this process with them. I want her to succeed more than anything!! I want her and her boys to live a happy life and to be blessed eternally by the gospel. It has been incredible :)

Well family, I am going to go! Sorry I didn't have too many exciting stories to tell- darn flu!! But I still saw miracles even though I was sick thanks to online proselyting! I could message my online investigators and still teach them. I could follow up on my member referrals and work with the members and encourage them to keep inviting their friends.What I love most about online proselyting is that it is teaching me how to be a missionary after the mission- really everything about my mission has taught me that, especially the vc.

I love you all!! Pray that everything will go off without a hitch for Tanya's baptism!!
Sister Hamstead

I can't even put a price on it (January 6)

Dear family, 

I love an appreciate you all sooo much!! Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I can never thank you enough for that! This mission has been one of the hardest and yet most rewarding and beautiful experiences of my life. I can't even put a price on how much I value it. I will forever cherish and treasure this time forever. 

Oh so guess what mom? you remember that giant journal you bought me? I finished it on Saturday! haha so many great miracles and stories contained in those pages :) I can't wait to sit around and read them with you all some day- if only I wasn't dead tired when I was writing every night haha!

Winter in Arizona
Happy New Year!! I love all the pics!! Man I just love New York and really all those beautiful places back east. What an adventure you all had! I am sooo glad it wasn't that cold when we were all there for New years back in the day! On New Years Eve Sister T and I were on shift at the VC for the last night of Christmas lights. It was pretty slow, but we still saw many miracles! At the end of the shift we went into the break room and we all had a little cup with some martinelli in it. Happy new year! haha The next day was transfers and then we had a big mission activity that lasted from 12:30-7. We had to leave around 5:30 to make it back to the vc for shift at 6. But the activity was sooo much fun! I really wasn't looking forward to it at first. We had just finished Christmas lights and playing sports all day with elders really did NOT sound appealing. But it ended up being super fun and we played lots of fun games including human Foosball and we played a game of volleyball but your arm was tied to your companions. Also we got 2 zones together with a giant sheet and we threw president Jenkins up in the air a few times haha!

So even though Christmas lights have ended the miracles have not stopped! The day after I talked to this one couple that was standing around the Jerusalem model. I went over to talk to them and I found out that they were both nonmembers. On the model there is a time line of Jerusalem's history. I pointed out one part of it that talked about Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem. I then taught them about the Book of Mormon and asked if they would be interested in reading it. They said yes so I went over to grab them each a copy.I then invited them to learn from the missionaries in their area and they said they would like that! easy. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Then that same night I met this awesome guy named Jason. I saw him in the back looking all around at first the family proclamation wall and then the Book of Mormon table. I went over and introduced myself and found out that he had just moved in town. He told me he is some what familiar with the church because he grew up near Liberty Missouri. He told me that he had once met with missionaries before, but for some reason things just didn't work out. I asked him if he would be interested in meeting with the missionaries now and he said he would love to! So I got his info and sent his referral off to the missionaries. Can I just tell you all how much I LOVE the Visitors Center. I love it so much. I know I was called to this mission specifically for the visitors center. I feel so honored to have been called to serve the Lord on the temple grounds. I feel so blessed every time I get to take someone around and use the provided resources to teach them about the restored gospel. I feel so blessed to be one of the 26 sisters in the whole world who get to participate in things like the Christmas lights and the Easter pageant. I could not ask for anything more. I just feel so blessed!!! I love the mesa temple visitors center!!! Just try to imagine what it feels like to be on temple grounds every single day. Ya it's that good :)

Ok so some stats from Christmas lights: 
We had a total of 302625 people come through for the lights about 72724 were not members of the church. Last year from the visitors center we totaled 84 baptisms and this next year we are projecting 138!!!! Last year we had a total of about 162000 people come for the lights- and the lights were going on for about one week longer. We had 862 individuals come in and request to be taught by missionaries and members gave 896 referrals for the friends and family. WOW. This truly is the Lords work. Only 3 visitors Centers are going to continue to do the Christmas lights from now on: Salt Lake, DC, and Mesa!!! We are the second busiest center- behind temple square of course. With the amount of sisters we have compared to the number they have at temple square we actually have a a greater rate of work because of our smaller number of sisters on staff. Amazing. All of these stats and figures come from Sir. Beckstrand haha I am sooo sad because the Beckstrands have less than 2 weeks left on their mission!!!!!!!!!!! :(
Ok enough bragging about how amazing the visitors center is.

Alright our Tanya update for the week. Wow. I have never seen such a huge
Tanya and boys
 ginormous miracle in all my mission. She has literally pulled herself up out of the pit of despair and is changing!!!! I know that it is because of the gospel. That kind of knowledge changes people! Knowing you have a loving Heavenly Father who knows you by name and who loves you really makes a difference. Knowing that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ that we have the potential to change and become something greater than we could have ever imagined. I have been able to witness Tanya's faith grow as she has aligned her will with Heavenly Fathers. This has been such a beautiful experience. When she first started coming to church she didn't want help with her kids and she didn't want to leave Hunter in nursery, but this last Sunday she actually let him stay in nursery by himself and she enjoyed all the meetings!! After Church we had a big fireside where recent converts were speaking as well as President Jenkins and our stake President. We invited Tanya and she came! We introduced her to the stake President- he is known for kind of grilling investigators so we were kind of nervous... but he was very impressed with her and even asked her to say the opening prayer!! She said ok and actually did it!! It was such a proud moment. At the end of the fireside the Satke President was assigned to be the last speaker. He thanked all those who had spoken and then he said to all of us that there is someone he would like everyone to meet. He then asked Tanya to come and stand by him at the podium (she had stayed up there on the stand)--- side note we were really happy too cus this less active man we had been teaching came to church today and he came to the fireside so we were sitting by him and his wife--- and he asked her to tell her story. Holy COWWWWW. I was slightly nervous because he was putting her on the spot, but she did such an amazing job!!! He asked her how she knew all these things were true and she answered so beautifully saying that she just knows in her heart and that she has received that witness from the Holy Ghost. Sister T and I were  just smiling so big and crying. What an amazing miracle this has been!! I feel so blessed that we have been able to be with her through this amazing time. 

There is another sweet girl that we are teaching named Rebecca. I think Heavenly Father blessed us with her because He knew that I wanted to be back in YSA. She is 23 and joined the church about 5 years ago but then fell away. She is the only member in her family. We had a beautiful lesson with her at the Visitors Center this week. We took her around and started at the Christis statue then we went over to God's plan and at the end I just felt so strongly in my heart that Heavenly Father is so proud of her for making these changes in her life. I told her what I was feeling and she just started balling. The spirit was so strong. I know that we are all God's children and that He loves us each so much!! He has a plan to save each of us. The next day at church she got up and bore a beautiful testimony :) I just feel so blessed to be able to work with such wonderful people! I just love them all soooooo much!!!! Ok one last miracle, there is this one family that we have been trying to get in contact with for MONTHS. they always dodge us, but the other night we went by and the wife actually let us in and let us sit down and talk with her. She really opened up to us and said that since she stopped going to church she has felt her faith start to dwindle. We told her that we are here for her to help her get that faith back. WE invited her to church and she said she really wanted to go because her daughter is now old enough to go to primary. She told us that she hasn't been praying and that she feels uncomfortable doing it since it has been a while. I testified to her that her Heavenly Father loves her and that we He wants to have a close relationship with her. We offered to come by weekly to read the Book of Mormon with her and pray with her and she said she would like that. WOWWWOWOWOWOWW!! We set a return appointment and the next day she came to church!!!!!!!!!! The first time in sooooo long!!!!

Family I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is what we are all looking for- it is what everyone needs. The reason why is because the message is Jesus Christ. It is how we come unto Christ. It is how we find stability and safety in this crazy changing world. People can change- each of you can change. Each of you are a child of God. I hope sometime you put yourselves in the place of the people I meet. What things are you doing each day to strengthen your faith? What can you do more? How can you be happier? Live the gospel.

Love you all soooo much!!!!
Have an amazing miracle filled week!!!
Sister Hamstead

ps Elder Holland is speaking to us this Saturday!!!!
pps Tanya's date is officially set for the 18th of this month :D
ppps the floors look soooo beautiful!

So In Review...(December 30th)

Dear family,

What a wonderful week this has been!! I love Christmas on the mission and I feel so blessed that I was able to have 2!!
This Christmas was so special and filled with so many miracles. Miracle number one was the fact that we were able to get Sister T in touch with her family! It was such a struggle to get the phones to work! We literally had tried EVERYTHING but just could not get it to work. We even called the tech group in charge of our call center in Salt Lake and they couldn't figure out why it was working. I didn't want to give up, but nothing was working. Boo:( So we came up with a plan b. She got permission from President Jenkins to skype one of her friends from home.
So we went over to Rachel Tylers house to do the skype and..... her friend wasn't on! What in the world! We even tried to message the friend on facebook but she wasn't responding. We felt so defeated and I was so sad for Sister T! wwhhyyyyy. Then Rachel asked if we had tried calling Kiribati through skype- I didn't know you could make international calls through skype! So we then had issues loading up the money onto the account so we could make the call, but FINALLY we got it to work!! We first tried her moms number and we heard what sounded like Christmas songs being sung. The call got cut off and I thought for sure it was just a wrong number or something.
So we tried it again, but this time it actually worked! Sister T's mom had been at a Christmas morning service at church and had been waiting to get the call from her! It was so sweet and such a miracle! Sister T is such a good missionary she didn't waste any time telling her mom about the amazing experiences she has been having and then she invited her mom to meet with the missionaries to learn more. Her mom declined, but at least she tried! So then Sister T tried calling her dad (her parents are divorced) it worked too!! I can't even tell you how many times we had tried those stinkin numbers and they NEVER worked! So she talked with her dad and invited him as well to meet with the missionaries and he said he would like to! It was a miracle! Sister T had been praying that the missionaries in that area would find her dad and teach him and she found out that the missionaries had already been going to his house to teach his house mates who are some less active members. Talk about answers to prayers!
Later that night at the VC some people actually came in from Kiribati!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man Heavenly Father really knows how to take care of His children. It was such a special day.

In other news, keep Tanya in your prayers! She has a new baptism date set for January the 11th :D Which I don't know if I told you but Elder Holland is coming and speaking to all of us that morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am happy :) Tanya has gone 2 weeks without alcohol, about a week of no cigarettes, and 3 days without nicotine mints. She is doing so good!! I know that satan is going to be working hard on her though so pleaseeee keep the prayers coming! Man I have been fighting this terrible cold for a week now. It just keeps coming back! Members have been so good and have bought me vitamins and medicine. I just hate feeling so tired and drained! It also would be nice to be able to breathe again haha Oh so yesterday Sister T and I were soo busy!! We both gave talks and taught YW's! It was so crazy, but so fun!! I love it when members involve us!!

So we got transfer news and Sister T and I are staying together for another transfer in the same area! I can't lie these past 2 transfers have been the hardest transfers of my mission. I was kind of distraught when I got the news. I was wanting a change and was kind of hoping I would get put back in as a sister training leader. I really didn't get it. I didn't understand why President was giving the callings to missionaries who have been out like a year less than me and why he wasn't using me. I felt kind of like an after thought. I mean I only have one transfer left after this next one with Sister T and I just want to live up to my potential. I want to be a leader. So these are trials I am experiencing at the moment, but I trust that it is all for a reason. I am grateful that I can stay in the area and be here for Tanya's baptism! And please don't think that I don't love sister T! Training is just SUPER hard and exhausting and I was looking forward to a break. Also having a super foreign companion is really hard too. I am choosing to accept Gods will and trying to choose to be happy, but it is hard. Please keep praying for me!!

I love you all sooo much, and today I especially love Abigail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY ABBY!!!!!! I can't believe you are sixteen. SOOOO crazy!!! Why is time going by so fast?!?! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and that you are loved and adored by so many. The thing I love most about you is your smile. You have kind eyes and you are so good at helping others feel loved and important. I love that you have a great sense of humor and that you are an optimist by nature :) Have a wonderful day!! Expect something in the mail for you when you get home :)

SO a new year is coming. I feel like we as Hamsteads (and Applewhites) need to take this new year as an opportunity to get spiritually in shape (and physically as well). Let's make a commitment this new year to do better than we did last year. 

Let's be sure that we are studying our scriptures DAILY. This is not just something that investigators need to do- all members, everyone HAS to read the scriptures daily. If you are not doing this then your testimony will start to fade. We each need that spiritual renewal and strength that comes from studying the word of God. We each need to be praying EVERY DAY. MORNING AND NIGHT- and any time in between :) Why are these small and simple things so important? We know that by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass. You may not think it will make a big difference, but I can promise you with all of my heart that it will. You want to be happy? You want to feel confident and loved? Do the things that Heavenly Father has asked us to do. 

Now for getting physically in shape- I am right there with you all on that one! We each need to be exercising at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes each day. Whether you are going on a walk, doing a work out dvd, or using the weights. Let's hold back on some desserts and show respect for our bodies by treating them right. Remember that we have been bought with a price and that we are not our own. We have these bodies on loan and we need to treat them like the precious gift that they are. I'm not saying lets all go on some huge diet or anything, what I am saying is let's show our appreciation to our Heavenly Father for giving us our bodies by taking good care of them. Our physical condition DOES affect our ability to feel the spirit- it affects our self esteem, our energy, our moods, etc. We can all do better. Let's commit to be better people this next year :) Family I know we will see miracles and be happy as we just make small and simple changes in our life styles.

So in review:
1. Read scriptures every day.
2. Pray every day morning and night
3. Exercise at least 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
4. Eat healthier foods and cut back on the bad stuff

I love you all!! Let's make this next year the best yet by becoming physically and spiritually in shape :)

Sister Hamstead

ps if you all have any time before Christopher leaves on his mission I think it would be really cool to have the missionaries over to share the first lesson. Just imagine me and Christopher doing what they do. It would be a really cool experience if they could come over and teach all the lessons. Love you guys!!