Monday, January 20, 2014

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!