Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Really BIG huge REALLY really big huge HUGE miracle!!!

Dear family,

Boy do I have news for all of you!!!!!! Ahhhh I am just soooo excited!!! So I think I mentioned in my last email that we had set a new baptismal date with Tanya, but I don't think I mentioned that it was for th the 22nd!. Family..... 

TANYA  GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I can't  express to you how amazing of an experience this has been. So let me recount the baptism to you all and I will do my very best to include as many details as possible :) sister Younce and I got permission to attend and so after an appointment we headed to the stake center in my old area (which was actually Sister Younces greeny area this past summer!). We got there just as they were singing the opening song and so we grabbed a seat in the back/middle. Just sitting in that room with so many people that I love and seeing Tanya up front dressed in white made me feel like I was in heaven. And that's when the tears started- and then they didn't end till the end of the night! The first speaker was sister shauna tucker. I got so close to her when I was in hither area because she came to Tanya's lessons a lot and ate breakfast on Christmas with her and her family. I just love her and her family! Anyways when she got up she was already crying and she apologized and said she had been fine until she saw the sisters in the back row (me & sister younce). It was so touching! She gave a wonderful talk on baptism and explained the covenant and everything very well. Tanya was So sweet and just kept crying as well because she was feeling the spirit so strongly. Sister tucker mentioned that the night before Tanya's  baptism Tanya had called her and she was so happy and giddy! She told Sister Tucker that she felt like her baptism day was her wedding day.  I remember feeling that same kind of excitement the night before I went through the temple for the first time. So special. Then Sister Vancapella gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. She has also
been an amazing neighbor and fellowshipper to Tanya. The night that Tanya failed her baptismal interview the first sister Amy Vancapella and her husband were there and they
continued to love and support her through out this whole experience. After that sister Holly Michaud sang "Come Thou Fount" and man that just hammered in the spirit!! When it was finally time for the ordinance the Stake President went down into the font and Tanya followed. Tanya hadn't seen me yet because I had been in the back. It was such a touching moment and one that I will never forget - when Tanya looked up at the people watching and she saw me. She just had the biggest smile on her face and she started crying and said thank you. Sister Tucker and Sister Michaud came and gave me hugs and then the 3 of us stood together- me I between them - with our arms around each other. I said I just can't believe this is happening and Sister Michauds response was - this is the Lords work. That it is! Little baby Jackson started to cry right before Tanya was about to go under but she looked at him and told him it is going to be ok. Then she went under the water and it was completely silent. All you could hear were Tanya's sobs of joy. And of course you know that I could not control my tears. I went into the back with Sister Tucker, Taumarawa, and Finau. Tanya will still sopping wet in her jumpsuit kneeling on the floor. I think she was praying. I went over to her and knelt down by her. She took my hand and kissed it and told me that I saved her life and that she was so happy I came. My heart was just about to burst!!!! I told her that Heavenly Father is so proud of her and that I love her so much and we were then hustled back out to do our little part while she changed. We
played a little Mormon message. We went to stand in the back and sister free came back to give me a hug. She is the wife of the high councilor over missionary work for the stake, and they were in our ward so we got to know them very well. I love them!
Anyways she gave me a big hug and told me what a good job I did and that I worked so
hard. She told me that she loves me and gave me a big squeeze. Mommy she reminds me so much of you!!! Sister T, Finau, and I all stood in the back with our arms around each other. The spirit was so strong and I just felt so blessed!!!! What a miracle!!! After the little Mormon message we shared our testimonies of the restoration. I was just so completely speechless and overcome by emotions that I think I just made a fool of myself! Haha! Oh well :) Tanya came back out and the bishop had her come and share her story. She shared how she had been having a hard time and all the other stuff I have told you guys before, but she mentioned something new that she had never told us before. She said that we saved her because she was planning on ending her life. She had said her life had become too dark and she was too bro ken to carry on. She had prayed for help and she knew that god sent us to her and offered her new life through the gospel. A fresh start- that is what Christ's atonement offers to all of us. She said that when she was meeting with us she knew that God was telling her that He loves her, but in a girl voice :) it was such a sweet and sacred baptismal service- perhaps one of the greatest miracles of my mission. It was amazing to see it from start to finish- but really this is only the beginning! I have a testimony of this gospel. It is pure, it is true, and it will change us. Everyone is looking for happiness, everyone is looking for God. I have found Him through
living His gospel and by watching how He takes care of his children. He loves us, all of us. We are all special to him. Don't let yourself think otherwise even for a second! After he service I just ran up to Tanya and gave her a big hug!!! I will never forget these  experiences and what I have learned from them. They will always be a part of me because they have changed me. Never ever ever give up- ever!! In times of discouragement and despair trust that you have a loving Father in heaven who knows you best and who has a plan for you. I love my mission, and the reason why I love it is because I have invested so much of myself into it. I have mad this my home, I have made the
people my family, I have loved The Lord and his gospel at such a deeper level than ever before. I feel such peace, such satisfaction. Life is so good! And let me tell you something about miracles, they happen every day!!

Ok what else happened this week... I went on exchanges with Sister Moreton and Beaudette in the Lehi stake. It was soo fun and we saw sooo many miracles too!! I just love missionary work!!!! Our investigator Mary is starting to progress which is awesome!! We invited her to be baptized early this week and she said she has always wanted to be baptized. I just thought cool we can help you with that! Haha she was sick so she couldn't make it to church onbut she will. The work is really starting to pick up in our area. Blessings!!

A lesson I have learned I my mission is to ask for help- or when you stand in need of something. So you might think this is kinda dumb, but it was a miracle to me! At the last apartment complex I lived at we had a nice gym that we would go to every morning. When I moved into this house they have no gym and my companion doesn't like to
exercise/run... Ahhh I didn't know what to do! I prayed and asked Heavenly Father and I just felt prompted to ask the member we are living with if any of the neighbors have a gym that we could use in the mornings. We had just been going outside in the mornings and sister younce would stretch on the grass while I ran up and down the street- ya there was no way I could just keep running in circles the whole transfer! Anyways we get back from our exchange and the member told us somebody donated an elliptical for us to put in our room and the bishop of her ward has a full gym in his garage that we can use whenever- he just lives down the street. Wowwww Heavenly Father answers prayers!!! Yayyy!!! That was my little miracle :) haha 

I love you all sooo much!!! Never forget that!! Thank you for your prayers- thank you for praying for Tanya. I know that made a difference.

Love forever,
Sister Hamstead

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just some of the blessings of serving a mission...

Howdy! This past week has been such a fun adventure! I just love everyday I have here. On Monday Sister T and I had shift at the VC. The free family (who know the Colton's btw!!) came in and said goodbye and they brought Brother Thomas as well. One of the things I love most about being a missionary is being able to meet soo many amazing and wonderful people. I never want to forget any of them! I hope I can keep eternal bonds with them. They are all so dear to my heart!!!! Even though I have been separated from my family, Heavenly Father has shown me that all of us are family. I have always known that, but now I really feel it. I love these people and feel so close to them.  Just some of the blessings of serving a mission. 

Sister Training Leaders
On Tuesday Brother Lesvardi- over all visitor centers and historic sites for the church - came and gave us a wonderful training. Wow I just feel so blessed to get to associate with these people! They live everyday for The Lord. It is who they are and what they do. It's
really inspiring! He trained us till lunch time and then I got to go with my sister training Leaders to the Gilbert temple open house again! Wow temples are such holy places. I am going to miss being on sacred temple grounds every day :( there were soooo many people at the open house!! It was pretty loud and crazy. I just tried to pause every now and then and imagine what it would be like completely silent inside and everyone dressed in white. I am so grateful for temples and the blessings they bring into our lives. Tuesday evening we went around and had final lessons with a few people. 

We had an amazing lesson with Tanya. Even with all she has been through and continues to go through daily she still desires to be baptized. She broke down and cried saying that she had gone 3 days of no smoking and she wants to make it this time and get baptized. We prayed with her right then and there and set a new date with her to be baptized. I am sad I won't be teaching her anymore, but I know she will get baptized soon & you better believe that I will be there!!

We had transfer meeting!!! It was pretty crazy packing up since I had lived in that apartment since late august. I don't know how I end up collecting so many trinkets haha whelp I gotta be getting rid of those now. I am now in the Hermosa Vista stake. I love it! We live with a cute family named the Spencer's and they take such good care of us :) oh it was really fun on the day of the transfer meeting sister Pickett and I got to be

With Sister T.
companions for a few hours while we went to different training meetings. It was so fun being reunited again! Everyone kept asking us of we were put back together again lol I wish! It was so fun! My poor baby sister T was having a really hard time and cried through the transfer meeting :( I miss her so much already!! We really did go through a lot together. It was really sweet.

On our last night together she told me that I have done more for her than her own mom. It has been such a blessing in my life to have been able to be her companion. She is my baby! Let me se what else... So Sister Younce and I are having soo much fun together!! I love our area and we are working hard :) I am so grateful that The Lord continues to push me. So I am getting kind of distracted because I am watching the Emma Smith movie in the Spencer's basement theatre. But know that I love you all!! Hope you all had a wonderful valentines day!!! Don't worry mom President gave me permission a few weeks ago to register for classes so that is taken care of. 

First letter from Elder Hamstead
Can you forward me Elder Hamsteads emails? 

Love you all!!!!!!!!
Sister Hamstead xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Monday, February 10, 2014

Drum roll...I am being transferred!!!

Hello family this is been an awesome week! 

So many amazing miracles that happened I just feel so grateful.  On Monday night we had an awesome family home evening at the Free's home with the Thomas family. We talked about the principle of having faith in Jesus Christ that was so fun! Afterwards we ran to the visitor center for our lesson with our new investigator jasmin. She is so sweet and sister T and I absolutely love teaching her. She is 17 years old and is trying to find her purpose in life. On Saturday, we went out with her again and we sat down and talked with her about the plan of salvation. It was amazing to see how it answered her questions and brought her so much peace. At the end of the lesson she was nervous to pray so I went ahead and prayed first and then sister t and then she offered beautiful prayer. She really wants to be baptized. She was also planning on going to the Gilbert Temple open house later that day so we went to the back of the visitor center and talked about the temple with her using the temple panel display. Before she didn't really get the temples or understand their purpose but afterward she said she really loves the idea of it and she was so excited to go and see the Gilbert Temple. On Sunday night she came with us to a member missionary fireside where recent converts were asked to share their conversion stories. It was so powerful and it was amazing how everything that was said was so perfect for her! It was addressing all of her needs!! Gotta love how the spirit works:) she had invited 2 of her member friends to come as well :) ok so Sunday night I was just so happy I thought my heart might just explode!!!! The fireside we went to was put on by the ysa stake that I had served in for 6 months so it was like a reunion with all of the most amazing people that I love sooooooooooo much!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was just sooo happy to see my bishops, the members that had been in my wards, and of course the biggest miracle of the night was getting to s
Jesus Valdez - my first convert
ee Jesus Valdez!!!!!!! Ok let me take you on a little stroll down memory lane. Back in the day when I was companions with Sister Shurtz and Anderson (my very first transfer!!) we taught a guy named Jesus. Remember??? Well both sister shurtz and I were transfered just like 2 weeks after he was baptized and then he moved so we lost touch with him. Then last night at the fireside we were walking out of the chapel when all the sudden Jesus comes up to me and says hi!!!!!! Wow it was sooooooooo hard not to hug him!!!!! He moved back into the ward where he was baptized and the elders are meeting with him now. He told me that his cousin ended up getting baptized too and he wants to meet with the bishop to see about going on a mission. Amazing!!!! I could have died happy last night. I just couldn't contain my joy!!!! Ahhhhh just thinking about seeing all of those wonderful people makes me feel so grateful for this amazing experience I have been blessed with.

Wanna hear a call center miracle? So once upon a time when sister Pickett and I were companions we were receiving chats from when a guy name Andrew came on and started asking us questions. He said he was really interested in the church, but he had some major life style issues that would have to dramatically change. However he was willing to change them if he came to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was true. We helped as much as we could over chat, and then we gave him the information for his bishop and then sent his information to local missionaries. We have been keeping contact with him often over the past few months through email. Sometimes he would respond, but it had been a few months since we had heard back. When sister Pickett went full field she gave me his contact information to follow up with him. This last week I called his Bishop to see how Andrew was doing and I got amazing news!! He told me that Andrew had been baptized!!!! He had completely changed his life and now he is fully active in the ysa ward!!! Oh my gosh people can change. Miracle!!!!! I sent him an email asking him to share his experience of meeting with the missionaries with me so I will let you all know when I hear back from him. People CAN change.

Haha want to know something funny? My sense of time is so completely messed up. This sweet recent convert came into the visitor center and I was talking to her about going to General conference. She was super excited about it and I told her that she doesn't have to wait very long because the next one will be in October. For some reason I thought that was the soonest one... Luckily the member that had come with her spoke up and said there would be one in April. I have no idea what month I thought it was..... I think it's because there aren't really seasons here so maybe I was thinking it was like August or something? Haha I have no idea...

We got transfer news this last week and.... Drum roll...... I am being transferred!!!! Wow I was pretty sure that I would just finish out my mission in this area, but I am excited! My companion will be Sister Younce!!! She is from North Carolina and she kinda knows jerel! Haha the south is rising!!!!! I am sooooo excited!!! I think she has been out for about 8 months or so. Also President asked me if I would like to be a sister training leader again or if I would like my last transfer to be kinda easier. I told him I would love a challenge and I will accept any opportunity to serve. I want to finish my mission strong! I want to be so busy and so focused on the work that I won't have time to think about anything else. So I am excited to once again be a sister training leader :)

It was sooooooooooo sad telling everyone I was being transferred!!!! That is the hardest thing about being a missionary!!! You just love these people with all you got and then after just a few weeks you have to move on. There were so many hugs and tears. So bitter sweet. I am grateful for my mission and that it has taught me how to love. I am going to miss Tanya!!! I know she is going through a rough patch, but I will never give up on her! I am so grateful that sister finau is coming into the area because she will love Tanya and will take such good care of her. It was so good to have Tanya at church yesterday for my last Sunday in her ward. I really bonded with that ward and I am going to miss the good people there!!!!! Saying goodbye is so hard.

Family I love you all so much. I think my mission has made me love and appreciate you all even more! Each of you have been such a blessing to me. Thank you for all of your love and support. I am soooo proud of elder Hamstead!!! He is going to be an amazing missionary!!!! Mom will you put the pics I sent you of me and Christopher on Facebook? I think mine turned out better than his. I love you all so much. I am going to work my very hardest this next transfer. I have loved every single second of my mission and I am eternally grateful for it and the impact it continues to have on my life.

Love you all!!!!!
Sister Hamstead

30 minutes for 3 1/2 years...just enough. (Feb. 3)

Words of Wisdom for a brief 30 minutes.  Enough to last 3 1/2 years.
Wow what a full week of miracles. God is aware of all of us. He answers our prayers. He really cares :) This is the hardest part of my week as I try sooo hard to remember as many of the exciting things that have occurred over the past 7 days.... 

I will just have to tell you some stories which is good with me since you all know how much I love stories. I think the theme of my week was never give up. You never know when people will be ready to change.

Story number 1: Taylor.
So I was in the VC at back greet- I think it was Wednesday night. I saw this one ysa aged guy standing by the temple panels and Sister Brown was talking to him. He looked so familiar but I couldn't place it. Anyways as I listened to them talk I realized where I had met him. So back in Octoberish I was on exchanges with these sisters back in the YSA ward (I had actually served in this ward at the very beginning of my mission while I was being trained). We went to go by this one guy who had been inactive for about 8 years. When we knocked on the door he did not seem to pleased to see a bunch of Sister Missionaries all happy and excited to see him haha! One of the sisters really hit it off though and broke the ice- theater kids. They just get each other haha! So anyways when we left the sisters had set up a return appointment with him and that was the last I had heard. Well here he was at the Visitors Center! I had to go end a movie and when I came back he was gone!! I asked sister Brown where he went and I hunted him down haha! I just HAD to tlak to him! So he told me his story. He had an awesome return missionary friend and she invited him to church. He went and he semi enjoyed it. Time went on and the spirit started to soften his heart. He had many spiritual experiences and began to read the Book of Mormon. He couldn't put the book down and he finished it in 2 months. He got to bless the sacrament for the 2nd time in his life just 2 weeks ago and then this past Sunday he was ordained an Elder. He now comes to the temple every week and he has a blog for all of his spiritual insights/ things he learns as he studies the scriptures. I just couldn't believe it!! How could this be the same guy I had met just 4 months ago?! God can do great things with us. He can change us and help us become the people we were designed to be. He is now doing missionary work as well!

Story number 2: Tanya
Never give up on people. We have seen miracles this week with Tanya. Thank you for keeping her in your prayers. The Bishop went by and met with her on Tuesday and had a wonderful discussion with her. When we finally saw her again I just wanted to cry!! We just hugged and cried and laughed! You just grow to love these people soo much! She apologized for having pulled away. She was depressed and just needed some time for reality to sink in. She is making progress. One thing this whole experience has taught me with Tanya is that this is the work of salvation. It's not just a lets go and get people baptized and then they go less active the next week. This is salvation- it is a journey for eternity. God is patient with us and our turtle paced progress and we need to be patient with others. We all need more charity. We need to feel that unconditional love for others because we are all children of God and we all matter. We had a lesson with her and she recommitted herself to take the necessary steps to prepare herself for baptism. Miracle.

Story number 3: Sister Salas
Never give up and follow the spirit. We were at District meeting Wednesday morning and we were talking about the importance of following every prompting you receive- even when it doesn't make sense. I told myself that I was going to do it and then a thought came to me and I thought... really? The thought came to go by Sister Salas after the meeting. She is an inactive woman that we have been working with, but lately she hadn't been getting back to us. We have called her just the night before to see if we could go by that morning to visit her and she didn't get back to us. I thought that would be sooo awkward to just go ahead and go to her house when she hadn't gotten back to us. But I had made a commitment so I decided to follow it. After the meeting we went over and Sister Salas was home! She was very friendly and welcomed us in. We talked for a little bit and then she told us that she forgot to tell us that she got a new number! Ahah! We had a great lesson with her right then and there and she told us that she really wants us to help her get back to church for the sake of her children. We have a steady appointment with her now every Wednesday morning. I was soo glad that I followed that prompting and went to her home. Follow the promptings of the spirit even when it doesn't make sense!

Story number 4: Elder Hamstead
Wow what a miracle it was to see my brother. Ok let me tell you the story from my perspective. It really didn't hit me that I was going to be seeing my bebe brother until the night before. I was on shift and I quickly made that card for all the VC sisters to sign and to give their support. I have been writing a few notes for him here and there so that I could in some way help to answer his questions and give my love and support. When I went to bed that night I could not sleep. I woke up in the morning with so much energy and I just wanted to get the day going! President and Sister Jenkins came by the VC and picked me up a little after 9:30. We drove VERY FAST to the airport. I felt like I was in the car with Papa again! haha! We get to the area just outside security and sit and wait for Christopher to show up. We got there around 10 cus when President had been to the airport earlier that morning the sign said the flight was arriving early- not sure if that actually happened... but anyways we are sitting there talking when all the sudden I look up and see Christopher and MOM walking towards us!! I ducked down and whispered to the Jenkins "That's my mom!!". President's response was priceless "what in the world is she doing here?!" haha! It was kind of cool to get a little peak at the both of you :) Like looking through the veil! But mom I couldn't risk making eye contact with you so I tried to hide myself haha! President and Sister Jenkins got up and I turned to the left and boom! There was Elder Hamstead and before I could even say anything I just gave him the biggest hug. I can't believe it has been almost a year and a half! I just hugged him and cried. It was another one of those sacred moments on my mission where I have felt such love from my Heavenly Father. I think we talked about everything. haha Even though the time was short, it was just what I needed. What a tender mercy to be able to speak with my brother before he heads off on the biggest and best adventure of his life. I didn't want to let him go, but when the Jenkins came back telling me it was time we snapped some more pictures and walked him to security. We talked about the MTC and his first transfer meeting and what it will be like when he is getting trained. I tried to think of everything I could say to offer him comfort and counsel and before I knew it we were at security. I gave him one big last hug and a kiss on the cheek. I love you brother and I know you will be an amazing missionary!!!!!! I am here for you and I am sooo excited to have you join me out in the field!!

What a wonderful and priceless experience this all has been. I wish I could tell you all the miracles I see every day, but this will have to do for this week.

Love you all sooooo much!!!
Sister Hamstead

The biggest, most beautiful temple I have ever seen! (January 27)

Dear family,

I can't even begin to describe to you the sweet kindness and tender mercies I have received from The Lord this week. Man the week before last week was tough, but this past week was so sweet. It was nice having Monday night off from the vc and having time to visit people. It has taken a while, but we are really starting to bond with the people in this area now :) There has been such an excitement in the air with the Gilbert temple open house! We have gone around to several homes and shared messages about the temple & how we can all prepare to go.

At the Gilbert Temple
On Tuesday we had an awesome miracle! One of our former investigators named Myra called us up and said that her, her mom, and their friend all really wanted to go to the open house that morning! So we scrambled to find a member that could come with us on such short notice. Sister call from one of our wards said she would love to come with us all! It was so great having her there cus her husband designed all the water features outside the temple so she was able to give us all the insider scoop :) wow the Gilbert
Gilbert, Arizona Temple
temple is the biggest most beautiful temple I have ever seen!!!!! I think I found the temple I want to get married in haha! We had such a sweet experience as we were walking up one of the giant stair cases. Carole, Myra's mom, commented that she just feels so good in the temple- she described it as a warm fuzzy feeling. It was a special moment for me to be able to point out to her that what she was feeling was the spirit. She said that must be it :) then that night we went to the vc and I had a super cool experience when I met a man named Willy. He had come down to Arizona from Michigan a few months before so that he can help his aunt who was sick. For some reason his trip extended from two weeks to two months. He wasn't sure why he had stayed but he was here for Christmas time and so his aunt told him about the Christmas lights at the temple. He came in and he felt the spirit so strongly that he decided right then that he wanted to learn about the church. However, a funny twist to the story is that he didn't talk to any of the sister missionaries inside the visitor center. Or even outside! I don't know how he managed to go through the grounds and the visitors center without being approached by a single missionary!! But Willy was determined to learn about the church, so he contacted a distant relative living back in Michigan who is a member. He asked her if she could get the missionaries to him out here in Arizona and she did. When I met Willie that night he had just had his first real discussion with the missionaries a few nights before, and he had brought his son into the visitors center with him that night to learn more about the church as well. I asked Willy if he was considering being baptized, and he told me most definitely! It was such a neat experience to see how heavenly father truly prepares people. He is so involved in our lives and he is aware of all the minor details. Even though he really didn't get approach that first night when he was at the visitor center is so cool to see that Heavenly Father still guided him to the true restored gospel. Miracle! I got his info and will be keeping in touch with him over the phone. His son was also really interested too!

Then on Wednesday and Thursday we got to go on exchanges with our  sister training leaders. I love exchanges, and it was really fun to go out of the area. I got to go back to the stake I was in when I served with sister Remington so that was really fun. I just love being a missionary and having the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone!! It's the best thing I have ever done :)

From Thursday morning we had district meeting and I got to give a talk on a topic of my choosing. It was funny cus I was talking to sister T saying I have no idea what to talk about and the all the sudden it came to me and I knew I needed to speak about personal testimony. I was kinda nervous when my time came because I had soooooooooo much prepared and I wasn't sure what all really needed to be said. So I said a little prayer and wow just like that it all just flowed and came together. Ya know I have really grown to love public speaking / doing presentations. Maybe I will do something like that for my career in public health. But anyways I'm grateful for the spirit and the ability it has to take my words and make them touch the hearts of the people.

Oh man so this past week and this upcoming week the temple is closed cus of cleaning/renovations and man it has been SLOW. Like I'm so bored I can't even read the ensign type of bored- hey don't judge that's exciting stuff for sister missionaries haha! But I am sooooo grateful for the beautiful family of sister missionaries that Heavenly Father has allowed me to serve with. What a blessing they all are to me! Sometimes I feel like I am in a sorority lol but it's the best! 

This mission is so incredibly perfect- I would say for me, but that doesn't matter cus the mission isn't about me... But at the same time it is! What an experience.

Ok anyways, so even though vc has been slow, we have still seen so many miracles! Friday morning was such an exciting day to be on shift at the Vc. Sister T and I were able to give three tours to groups with nonmembers. In two of the groups nonmembers accepted to have missionaries come teach them. In the other group the  nonmember accepted to read the book of Mormon and he said that he would be coming back. Wow miracles have not ceased!!! There is nothing more Exhilarating than being able to share your testimony with others. I love my calling at the visitors center and I feel so at home taking people around there and teaching them with the resources. I do hope you all can come here some day. It is such a special place. We also had our first prep meeting with the Cameron's on Friday morning. I love them. They are so precious!

So one of The greatest miracles of this week was when I received an email from Michael Morton  telling me that he would be receiving the Melchizedek priesthood on Sunday. I asked Pres. Jenkins if I could go and he said yes! So after church and after correlations and lots of other stuff sister T & I drove out to east Mesa for his ordination. It was just so peaceful being able to go out and drive in the beautiful desert and being able to see the places where I had served before. 8 o'clock we returned home to eat a little bit of dinner and to do language study for sister t. This past week is just full of so many wonderful blessings and I truly felt the love of The Lord. I know that heavenly father cares about us and he will take care of us.

I just love it out here! It was such a sacred experience being there when Michael received the Melchizedek priesthood. The feeling & the spirit that was there was so strong. I will never forget that moment. After that we ran to pick up our dinner and went to two other appointments and a fireside. Finally at 

I love you all soooo much!! Thank you for all your love and support! Christopher I can't wait to see you on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!! What a blessing :) I will definitely be wearin water proof! Haha

Love you all,
Sister Hamstead

Ps please keep Tanya in your prayers she is going through a lot right now, but I feel at peace knowing that  Heavenly Father is aware of her and her situation

Doing the things that matter most (January 20)

Dear family,

Wow what a roller coaster of a week this has been! Trials up the wazoo. Sometimes your burdens just feel so heavy that you feel like you might break under the weight of the load- this is when I am grateful more than ever for my Savior Jesus Christ. 

My heart was absolutely broken this week when Tanya failed her baptism interview. She came out and told us that she smoked a few days ago and so we need to reschedule the date. I was shocked because everything had been going so great this whole week! She never even told us and when we followed up with her she had said everything was good. I cried. We went by the next morning after the interview and we could tell that Tanya was not doing well. I saw a pack of cigarettes out on table and she was very stressed. She was so overcome with the anxiety of her situation that she did not even want to come up with a new plan. Because of this switch in priorities her mind is completely consumed with the bad things now that are going on in her life- and ya there are a lot of hard things she has to go through now being a recent single mother and trying to figure out how to provide for her family, but I just wanted her to recognize that putting God first is what will make everything else be ok. I just can't express to you how bad it hurts when you love somebody so much and all you want is their happiness. I mean you try to do everything you can for these people- you feel their pains and you know what they need to be happy, but they have to choose it. Mommy and Papa I am so sorry for any grief that I ever caused you all as my parents. I can only imagine the pain parents experience from the choices of their children- but on the flip side I feel like I can get a little glimpse of the joy and fulfillment that comes from seeing your children progress and live happy righteous lives. 

Yesterday at church we had ward conference in both wards. Many members had reached out to Tanya to try to get her to church on Sunday, but to everyone's disappointment she did not come. Bishop sent us a text during sacrament meeting for us to try to get her there so we left. We showed up at her house and it was dead quiet- very unusual for someone with 2 little boys and a dog. We rang the door bell and no answer. I had to do something so I wrote her a note and I was pretty bold in it. I told her we all love her and that we want to help her, but she needs to make these changes not out of any obligation to us or to anyone for that matter- other than the Lord. We all need to commit ourselves to doing the things that matter most not because it is a requirement or it's just something to do- we must do it out of our sincere love for the Lord. 

Whenever I start to feel nervous or insecure- this happens more regularly in the call center than anything else. I look over at this picture of Christ that we have by each computer. I think about all of the things that He did for me and how He was probably nervous too, but we know form the scriptures that "He suffereth it..." In relief society yesterday we talked about about the tabernacle in Provo. Many people were devastated when it was burned down- but God had a plan. He knew that tabernacle had greater potential- greater than any of us could have imagined and now it is in the process of becoming a temple :) "God know the ultimate result. He doesn't leave us in the ashes. He builds our lives into magnificent temples". I love that! Another note I took was that Heavenly Father will not take away the struggle- He didn't take it away from our Savior and He won't take it away from us because it helps us to grow. My trials are making me stronger. It is up to me to make the choice of how I will respond whatever situation I find myself in- there is only so much I can do on my part and the rest is out of my control. Hard times come- I can promise you that. But knowing that hard times makes us greatly appreciate the good times. I love this scripture in 1 Nephi 11:16-17 where an angel is speaking to Nephi, "And he said unto me knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto Him that I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things". 

I don't know why some things happen in life, but the thing that gives me the most comfort and reassurance in this crazy world is knowing that there is somebody who is watching out for me, who has my best interest at heart, and who really truly loves me. This is true for all of us. If you feel overwhelmed just remember that even though you have no control, your Heavenly Father does. Wow now looking back on what has happened this week I really learned a lot about the atonement. I am so grateful that my Savior Jesus Christ suffered for me- my pains, heartaches, etc. He felt all of it. None of you can really know what I went through, but He knows and that gives me comfort and strength.

With the Beckstrands, my mission Parents.

I was super sad when the Beckstrands left. I think it hit me harder than I had anticipated. I have been with them every single day for nearly my entire mission. They were my mission parents and they did so much for me and all the other sisters here at the VC. It hurt when they left, but I am grateful for the new directors- the Camerons and I love them already. 
Ok onto a miracle to lighten the mood! I had an amazing miracle this week at the visitors center. A couple that serves down at the Prison in Phoenix met this young man at church services that they provide for those who want to attend. This young man is not a member of our church, but he was very interested in learning more. They gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him the little bits that they could. He was so touched by what he was learning that he told this missionary couple to contact his parents sot that they could learn as well. So the couple got their info and invited them to come to the Visitors Center for a tour. This is where Sister T and I come into play. We met them up at the front greet and I just loved them instantly. They were so cute and sweet and their names were Billy (the wife) and Joel- Billy Joel, I mean come on with a name like that who couldn't love them?? haha! So we started out tour at the Christis and talked about the Savior Jesus Christ. We testified of our message which is that Christ's church has been restored on the earth today. Wow the spirit was so strong- and we were only beginning! Then we took them into the Savior of the world room (room with the Jerusalem model and pictures of Christ's life). We taught them about Christ's life and His role as our Savior. We taught them about the church that He set up while He was on the earth. We showed them the time line on the Jerusalem model and pointed out a name that probably wasn't too familiar to them. Lehi. We then taught them about the background of the Book of Mormon and asked if they would each like a copy. They agreed and the husband told us that he has never been much of a reader but that he really wants to read this book. The mom was excited as well because this was the book her son had been telling her about and she has seen how it has changed him. To finish up the tour we took them to one of our theaters to watch the Joseph Smith movie. We testified of how Heavenly Father loves us so much that He has called a Prophet in our day to restore the gospel. We invited them to pray as they watched the movie and to ask if it was true. When we came back at the end everyone had tears in their eyes. The spirit was so thick you could have cut it with a knife! We simply testified that the message was true- the spirit was doing enough teaching there really wasn't more to do other than invite them to meet with the missionaries. They agreed! What a blessing it is to be able to share the gospel. I can't even count the number of ways that  the gospel has blessed me in my life and that is what drives me to share it. I remember really feeling that strongly when I received my own confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. I have never looked back since that day. It truly has changed me forever :) 

This week had a lot of ups and downs, but I know that the Lord is teaching me life lessons so I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Miracles have not ceased and I know we will continue to see more every day!

Love you all!

Sister Hamstead