Monday, March 24, 2014

Make every day a worthwhile experience and live for the adventure of life!

Dearest family,
Mulan's Baptism

Words cannot describe how I feel. I feel so incredibly blessed. This last week Sister Younce and I have continued to work and we have seen miracles! I will have to tell you about all of them when I see you-TOMORROW!. Crazy! But the highlights were definitely the baptisms. Jasmine and Mulan were baptized this Saturdayy :) it touched my heart to look over at Mulans mom and grandmother as she was going into the water. Both of them had tears in their eyes and the spirit was just so strong! They had both just recently started coming back to church and
they never in a million years thought they would have 3 generations in the church. It was a day for the books!! I talked with Rachel (mom) afterwards and she could barely speak she was so overcome with joy and just about every other emotion. I will never forget these special and sacred moments. I love all these people so much! I wasn't able to go to jasmines baptism cus it was at exactly the same time as Mulans!! Darn! But she came in the next day and told me the miracle that happened! So the sisters (sister Taumarawa and Finau) had walked
around the church building looking for something when they saw this guy outside. He was looking in and when they opened the door he
Jasmine - Day after her Baptism
them if church was going on. They told him no, but invited them to come in for the baptism. He said he had come that day looking for answers. He recently had been going through a lot of trials including the death of one of his children. When he watched the baptism he felt the spirit so strongly that he went to the elders and told them that he wanted to be baptized. Miracles. 

Preparing for Easter Pageant with Sis. Younce
So I just finished my exit interview with President Jenkins. Wow this is really happening!! Of course I like bawled through the whole thing just thinking about the lessons I have learned and the people I have loved. My understanding of the atonement has grown and developed. I feel closer to my Savior then I ever have before. I asked president what advice he has for me- going from this amazing experience a  real true adventure, back to normal life. His response made me smile. He told me not to make it normal! Make everyday a worthwhile experience and live for the adventure of life! I know that there is still so much good to come in my life and I am eternally grateful for this experience and the tools it has blessed me with to face the future with faith. I have hope and confidence in the plan that Heavenly Father has for all of us- and specifically for what he has planned for me. On Sunday I had an opportunity to give a talk in the Leonora ward. They announced that this was my last Sunday. My cover was blown! Then of course right before I speak somebody gets up and plays a beautiful rendition of "we'll bring the world his truth". That was painful! It was so beautiful I couldn't help but cry! Hen in the next ward Sister Younce and I were asked to share our testimonies. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to have the special experience of sharing my thoughts and feelings on my last Sunday. I love this gospel with all my heart. It is pure and it is true. Living it has made me a better and happier person. I know it is true with all of my heart. I am eternally grateful for the time I had to do something for my Savior, to do his work and represent him. What an honor and privilege. I testify that all people can have hope through the atonement of Christ. That all of us May one day return to our Heavenly Fathers presence because of this great gift which he has given us. I know he lives. I love you family and I can't wait to see you tomorrow!

Love forever,
Sister Hamstead

Monday, March 17, 2014

This is it, this is my farewell testimony. I just can't believe it!

Dear family,

WHAT AN AMAZING WEEK OF MIRACLES THIS HAS BEEN. You know dreams really do come true. Did you know that? If you don't believe me, well then you are missing out on the happiness that life has to offer. I read this verse this morning in 2 Nephi 27 verse 23, "For behold, I am God; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." Faith. That is the key. Do we have faith that God is the same God- the same one that parted the Red Sea and
preformed sooo many miracles that have been recorded in the scriptures. It's not God who has changed, it is us. We lack faith. Anyways, this week was STUFFED FULL of amazing and wonderful experiences. It really has been an answer to prayer because I really haven't had time to be sad about going home cus I'm too busy runnin around doing missionary work! I love it!

With my sweet friend Moala. She is getting baptized on March 29th.
Hermana Zapeda.  She crocheted me some socks!
Bro. Teagin.  He comes in about 5 days a week and brings Z bars.

So Monday we had 3 great lessons! One was with our sweet Nancy. I'll just go ahead and give you an update on her. She is amazing. We taught her the Word of Wisdom this past week and she is so excited to live it! She has bought her last pack of cigarettes and says she is done with them :) We also taught her the Plan of Salvation and she just soaked it up! She just loves how she keeps learning new and exciting things :)

The next lesson was quite a contrast in comparison with the peaceful lesson we had had with Nancy haha! We went to teach 3 kids and BOY it was CRAZYYY!! I am grateful for the time I had to be a nanny and work at a day care! KIDS. they kill me! But we taught the restoration VERY simply and quickly as their attention span couldn't handle more than about 10 minutes or so. Reminded me of the times when I would go into sunbeams with you mom! So funny! But we committed Mulan to be baptized and she agreed to be baptized on the 22nd!!! We got a follow up from her and her grandma  this Sunday (she had to get permission from her mom) and we are all go! Yayyyyy we have a baptism this Saturday!! What a miracle! We taught her the 10 commandments and some other little ones in our lesson after church. It is so fun! 

Oh my goodness the last lesson of the night on Monday was INTENSE. Sister Younce and I became marriage counselors. It made me sad, but also grateful for my understanding of the atonement. People can change, problems can be fixed, and wounds can be healed. When the couple had asked for us to come over they requested us to share a thought about enduring trials, but focusing on more than just reading scriptures, praying, church, etc. Well those topics really are the source for healing and strength, but like I said we felt impressed to talk about the atonement and I am glad we did! Mommy and Papa you have shown me an example of true love - pure love. That love is Charity.

"Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not, charity
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself
unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no
evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the trut; beareth
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all
things. Charity never faileth." 

Words to live by. I want to have that deeply engraved on my heart.

Ok what else happened this week...Got to say goodbye to sweet Sister Coppel! It has been so fun to see familiar faces out here. Makes me feel closer to home! Oh my goodness so I was stressing this week cus I had been asked to lead this big 20 minute discussion at zone conference on Thursday. UGGGHHHHH. The discussion was on a talk that we as a mission were asked to study called "What is the Blueprint of Christ's Church" by Elder Callister. EVERYONE SHOULD STUDY THIS TALK. It made me realize that I know nothing haha! It's that good :) But I was stressing about it because we had just been sooo busy and I really had not had time to  thoroughly study it. But thankfully I got the time in and I felt some what prepared. My zone (well the missionaries that wanted to participate) sang a musical number at the beginning of the conference - Joseph Smiths First Prayer sung to the tune of Come thou fount. It actually turned out pretty good! Thank you spirit! Anyways, so finally after all the waiting my time came to lead out the discussion. At first I was just standing in the front but I guess I am too short so President asked me to go up on the stand. He then whispered to me not to worry about giving a long testimony at the end because he was going to have me give a farewell testimony later. OKKKKKKKK. So I begin the discussion and THANKFULLY almost everyone actually came prepared and I didn't really even have time to do the things that I had

planned. Yes!! I then went to sit down, and then I had to get right back up again to give my testimony as well as with Sister Brownell- other English VC sister who is going home. As I was sitting on the stand while Sister Brownell was talking I just kept thinking "this is it. This is my farewell testimony." (Well at least one of the last) I just can't believe it! I honestly cannot comprehend the fact that my mission is coming to an end. I still feel like a missionary, I am still doing missionary things, I am still seeing miracles... It's soo hard!!! Anyways as I was sitting up there that's when it kinda hit me that I am leaving soon and of course I started to cry. Thankfully I got it back together as Sister Brownell was finishing up. She hadn't said anything about what she had learned, just a testimony, but I felt strongly the need to share my gratitude for this amazing life changing experience and share with the other missionaries what good can come from their mission if they give themselves completely to it. I hope all of you know how much my time here serving The Lord has meant to me. My heart has been changed and because of that I am forever grateful. Anyways the rest of zone conference was wonderful :) I love being able to go to all of these spiritual and uplifting meetings! I will miss them! I have learned so much!

My Zone with Pres. and Sister Jenkins

Gosh there is just so much that has happened in just one week. I wish I could tell you everything!! Soon enough I will be back with you all and then you  will be sooo sick of hearing me say "Back on my mission" or "there was this one guy on my mission" haha i am TOTALLY going to be one of those RM's :D Aren't you lucky!? I am soooo excited for Christopher!!! I was just so shocked to find out that he is on his way to Brazil!!!! I wonder if he realizes how big of a miracle that is??!! There are missionaries in my mission who have been waiting for their
Visas to Brazil for 6 months!!! And now they will most likely end up staying in our mission. I guess they really needed him down there now! I am soooo excited for him!! I am also really glad cus I sent him his bday letter last week just incase I didn't have his address. Man he gets to celebrate his birthday in Brazil! Lucky guy!

Well family, I love you all so much. Just because I don't want to come home, it doesn't mean that I love you any less than the people that are here :) Thank you for all of the love and support that you have given me throughout my mission. It has been the most amazing adventure of my life- so far. I know that there is more to come! But I couldn't have done it without you all. You all mean the world to me. If I could say one thing as I begin the last week of my mission, it would be this- The Lord never let's us down. Believe that. Believe in His promises. Increase your faith and you will see miracles. Do everything in your power and rely on HIm. That is the key to happiness in this life and in the next.

Love forever,
Sister Hamstead

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Have I mentioned that I love being a missionary?

Dear family,

Have I mentioned that I love being a missionary? Man the blessings just keep coming and I am just filled to the brim with joy!! I don't want this experience to ever end!! :( But I'm not going to talk about that.

stage for the Easter Pageant
So many miracles happened this week!! Let's start with Monday. Amazing miracles at the Visitors Center Monday night. Came in for shift and one of the missionaries asked if I would help him and his companion in their lesson with their investigator- show the Christus and take around the art exhibit. I agreed and was super excited! I love getting to be a part of other missionaries lessons! So fun! I was even more excited when I found out who the lesson was for! Do you remember Jasmine? She was the girl that Sister Taumarawa and I were teaching at the VC a few weeks back. Well since I got transferred Sister T kept Jasmine, but I would still see her occasionally when she would come in for lessons. Well it turns out that Jasmine got transitioned over to the Elders in her area and they had taught her a lesson and she committed to be baptized on March 22nd!! Miracle!! So just incase you didn't get the connection, these Elders that were asking me to help with the lesson are the ones that are now teaching her!! I was soo happy to see her and to see how she has continued to grow in the gospel :) Yayyyy she's getting baptized!! Then I had another miracle with one of my investigators that I have been teaching online. I hadn't heard from her in a little while so I sent her a message just to check up on her and she said she was doing really good. I asked her if she was still meeting with the missionaries and she told me yes and that she loves everything that she is learning! The last lesson they had was on why Jesus Christ was baptized and she told me it was really good. I asked her if she was still deciding whether or not to be baptized and she told me that she has really good news- She got her answer and she has decided to be baptized!!! Amazing!!! I asked her what happened/what made her decide to make this choice and she told me her experience. She said that when the Elders again invited her to be baptized at the end of the lesson (this had just happened that very night that we were
messaging!!) instead of just saying no she just really thought about it and thought about all the reasons why she was saying no and for once she wondered why she was holding herself back from being happy. Immediately she felt a sense of joy and peace as she finally agreed to be baptized. What an amazing experience it is to see someone transform as they learn about the gospel and apply it to their lives. It makes me so happy! 

Tuesday was another awesome day. We had VC in the morning and then 2 family night lessons in the evening with some families that are going through some struggles. You know that really is one thing that I absolutely love about being a missionary- your job is to strengthen an uplift EVERYONE. what is better than helping people come closer to Christ?? Then that night I met up with Sister Clemons and Sister Carmack for my last
Sister Clemens and Carmack
exchange of the transfer- back in Gable 
ward!!!!!!! Wow dreams come true. Seriously Heavenly Father has blessed me with the most amazing last transfer. It is better than anything I could have wished for!! Unfortunately it is making the end seem even more dreary :( But it has been amazing to go out with all these different sisters to serve them and to offer any advice our counsel that they might need- not so good at that part! haha I just LOVED getting to go back to that area and being able to see the members that I love! We went out on member visits and it was awesome to see mostly the same ward council members that I had served with :) then we had mission Leader council and it was awesome!!! Since sister Pickett and I are single sister training leaders we got to be companions again! :D brother Lesvardi came and trained all of us (he came a few weeks ago to the vc) and also brother packer from salt lake came and it was awesome!!!  The highlight of the day was helping out at the yw luau! Sooo fun!! It was a big fund raiser for girls camp. We helped with set up and we served the salad which was really nice cus we got to greet everyone that came it :) the best part was that we had a bunch of less active members show up as well some recent converts and our investigator Nancy!! Such a great night! One of the members was an Elvis impersonator and he did an awesome job!

Ummm also how amazing that Elder Hamstead has been reassigned to the
Missouri independence mission!!!!!!! Woowwww I read that and just  mmediately felt that it was right! Yayyyy!!!!! So our sweet nancy miracle. A member invited her to come to church and she finally agreed and said she now feels ready to attend :) so she came and she had an amazing experience! She felt the spirit so strongly and she felt so much love from everyone that she just started crying! Sooo sweet! I got up and bore my testimony. It was really bitter sweet knowing that this was my last fast and testimony meeting as a missionary :( i am so grateful for the time that I have had- and the time that I still do have to be a missionary. It is the best thing I have ever done! 

So Sunday was busy! The highlight of the day was when we went and had our lesson with Nancy! We invited her again to be baptized and she said yes!!!! She is planning on being baptized on April 19th. :D also in ward council we found out about this girl who's family has been coming back to church and she hasn't been baptized yet (she's 9)! We are having our first lesson with her tonight!! Yayyyy!!! Miracles!! 

Oh and yes you all heard about our cool dinner appointment where the members had 2 nonmembers there. We taught them about the Book of Mormon and gave them a copy. It was awesome! I love what I do :) one of the sweetest experiences of the night was when Nancy prayed out loud for the first time. She felt uncomfortable praying out loud still so I offered that we would each say a little prayer first and then she would pray. She was ok with that so sister younce said a prayer, then me, then the member, and then it was Nancy's turn. Right when she started sister Ashley (member that came with us) grabbed my arm and gave it a little squeeze. It truly was a tender moment and the spirit was so strong as Nancy said her first vocal prayer. When she said amen we all had smiles on our faces and our member was I tears and she told Nancy that this experience took her back to the days of her mission.

All in all this was an amazing week. I am so grateful for my savior Jesus Christ and for his gospel which has been restored on the earth today. I am grateful for how it has shaped me and helped me become somebody better. I love seeing how it changes peoples lives and brings them happiness. I just love everything about it!

Mommy and papa I hope you had a wonderful 29th anniversary!!!!!!! I love you both soooo much and I am grateful for the example you have set for me. I believe in true love because of both of you and the love which you have for each other. Sorry I didn't send you a card!!! I feel really bad!!!! But know that I love you both and I am so grateful
that we are an eternal family :)

Eugenie and Jerel!!!!!! Wooowwwww I can't believe you are going on your one year!!!!! Insane!!! I am hoping I missed your awkward honey moon phase of marriage haaha! Jk! Love you both and I hope you continue to have many years filled with love and happiness together!

Love you family!!!
Love forever,
Sister hamstead

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Pain in Adjusting Back

Hola Padre!! 
I am soo glad that you all are doing well :) I went to the temple again this past week and I have made a commitment to my self that I will always be a regular temple attender. I will have time when I go home to go once a week, but then throughout the rest of my life I will go at least once a month.  I know this will be a sacrifice, but it is one of my top priorities so I will make it happen :) The temple is  such a special place! I had a neat experience. As I was waiting in the little chapel I picked up the Bible and said a little prayer. Lately I haven't necessarily known what I personally need, but I have been praying that The Lord will direct me and help me receive the peace and  comfort that i will need to continue to progress on my path. Anyways I open the Bible and there is a marked in Matthew 5. I have read that soooo may times so I flipped a few pages and read somewhere else. Later on at the end of the session I picked up the Bible again in the celestial room. Once again I prayed to know what I need and I opened it up to a random page. I was shocked when AGAIN it opened up right to Matthew 5. I gave in and studied the chapter. The spirit taught me to continue to live the higher law as taught by Jesus Christ. I have been studying some talks about being a returned missionary and one of them said that the pain in adjusting back is that we try to go back to our old ways after we have become something new and better. I don't have
to feel sadness, I can feel joy! I felt that strongly in the endowment that God wants us to go forward with faith and feel joy in all that we do. I have no reason to feel sad or bad. I have served The Lord witall my heart. Sure I didn't have a million baptisms, nor hold all the leadership positions, but I loved The Lord and I did my very best to serve Him- and that is all that Heavenly Father expects of us. This is what has changed me. I understand that the fulfillment of a mission- of a life time comes through consistently choosing to love and honor The Lord. This is what changes us and helps us to become more like Him. It has changed me- maybe not physically or temporally, but I can honestly say that my heart has been changed and the things that I once desired no longer seem appealing to me. I know The Lord will continue to hold me to that standard and He expects me to add to it.
This Sunday we had the wonderful opportunity of attending the GIlbert Temple open house. What a sacred experience that was! That was the 2nd dedication of my mission. I feel such a special connection to temples now and I hope to always be near one. I think that may be one of the  hardest things for me when I go home because literally 15 months out of my mission I have been on temple grounds. What a blessing that has been. But anyways at the dedication I received personal revelation from the Prophet himself. Such a tender experience. He said something in relation to the experiences of the day, but I took it in terms of the experience of my mission. He said, "Are you ready? During this experience we have learned something about love, sacrifice,
revelation, God, and oursleves. We are all better for having been here." I am better for having been here on my mission. I have learned so much about all those things and even more. He closed his thoughts by inviting us all to rededicate our lives to serving The Lord. My desire is to forever be obedient. I love how The Lord speaks to us. He is helping me to prepare for this huge and scary adjustment, but I know that He will always be with me.
Love you sooo much Papa!!! I forgot to write about the temple and
everything in my other email so feel free to share with the familia :)

Tender Mercies Never Cease

Hello Dear family!!!

Well this has been a very exciting week!! And oh my goodness talk about feeling conflicted!!! It is so hard right now because I feel exactly the same, but people keep telling me that I am going home soon. NOOOOO. But it's ok. I know that God has a plan and i am going to just keep working hard until the very end- and then I will keep wo
rking throughout the rest of my life. This work never ends! I will just get another transfer- to the Atlanta North Mission! My life just feels surreal right now and it is very weird. But anyways, as always I am loving being a missionary and having this time to be so focused on the Lords work.

 Ok so cool miracles from this last week. So I went on exchanges this past week with a companionship serving in a nearby YSA ward. LOVED IT!!! YSA will always have a special place in my heart. ps this next week I get to go on exchanges with the sisters serving in Gable ward so I am SUPER excited to get to go back there and work in that area for a day :) But anyways back to my story. So one of the sisters in the companionship is from temple square and she is down here on her outbound (just like sister Wong was and Sister Marand). Anyways it was really strange that she got called here because she is from northern arizona! But she told me that she felt there was a specific reason why she was called here- in fact she feels it was for a very specific person. She told me the story of this guy who would always get onto mormon.rg chat and how different sisters had tried to teach him, but he would never keep commitments and he really didnt have a desire to change. One day she had the opportunity to chat with him and they actually had a great conversation and since then he has been allowing her to teach him. She even got him to pray!! When she found out her time to go outbound was coming up she prayed that this guy would be taken care of while she was gone and that he would be able to continue to be taught. She was shocked when she got the news that she had been called to Mesa- just a short distance from where this investigator lives!!! As she was telling me this story she told me that he sometimes comes into the Mesa Temple Visitors Center... she told me a little more about him and I started to wonder if I knew this same person. Finally we put the pieces together and I realized that the guy I had met a few weeks ago at the Book of Mormon table was this same guy that she was telling me about!!! I was even more excited to find out that we had an appointment set with him that night!!! Wowww miracle!!! Heavenly Father is aware of His children and He does whatever He can to help them progress. He isn't meeting with local missionaries just yet, so Sister Hale and I were able to discuss how we could work together to help him get to that point where he would be ready for that. SMALL WORLD!!! This is what happens when the Mesa Temple VC and temple square unite!! Miracles!! It was awesome getting to see him that night!!
We had soooo many miracles that day on exchanges!!!! 

I just am LOVING exchanges this time around. It is interesting because you can feel a different type of spirit with different companionships depending on how they are choosing to live- how devoted and obedient they are. I love experiences where I can just feel the love that the sisters have for the work. It's contagious and it produces miracles :) Heavenly Father placed sooo many people in our path that day! One sweet lady named Polly was just such a sweet miracle. Those sisters won't be able to teach her because she isn't a YSA- hard part about serving in those wards, but we felt soo blessed to have been able to meet her! So this is what happened. We were having a hay day of sooo many miracles in this one apartment complex- I miss those!!- and we decided to go by this one former investigator. Polly answered the door and she was super friendly.. not always peoples immediate reaction to having LDS missionaries at their door haha! But she really opened us and when we told here that Heavenly Father had led us to her she started to cry and told us that she knows that is true. She had been praying for help since she moved here. She left all of her family back in California when she decided to move here to get a fresh start. Such a miracle. We shared a little lesson with her, gave her a Book of Mormon to read, and left her with a prayer. She was just crying the whole time. Precious. The missionaries are going back over tonight to meet with her!! Pray that everything continues to go well :) See this is why I love being a missionary. You just get to bring blessings into peoples lives. You get to see how the atonement works and you can feel the love that Heavenly Father has for all of these people.

Ok cool story number 2. So once upon a time back on Christmas Eve I met a mother and a daughter that came into the Visitors Center. The daughter had recently joined the church and she wanted her mom to get in touch with missionaries. It was such a miracle to me to have been able to get the moms information and send it off to her local missionaries. I also gave her  Book of Mormon to read and I testified to her of how this book has  changed my life and I invited her to read it. Fast forward and here I am in my new area with Sister Younce. One of the investigators in our area is named Nancy, but for weeks she hasn't been home and we were never able to get in contact with her over the phone. FINALLY a few nights ago we were in the neighborhood and decided to stop by. She was home!!!!! She let us in and immediately she told me that she remembered me from the Visitors Center. I had to really think hard to try to remember- there were soooooooooo many people that came in and that we each talked to every night I can hardly remember any of them by name or by what they look like even haha! She reminded me that she was the mother of the girl who had just recently joined the church and that they had come in the night of Christmas Eve. She was my Christmas Eve miracle and now she is in my area!!!! She told me that when the other sisters had gotten the transfer news they told her who was coming and she then called up her daughter and told her that "the one who gave me the Book is going to be teaching me!". I just felt sooo blessed!!! What a miracle!! I was wondering why I had to be transferred my last transfer when I would only have a short amount of time in the area, but I truly believe that I am here for Nancy. 

Family I am heart broken that my mission is ending!! This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I am doing what I can, and trying to remind myself that happiness is a choice. My mission was always intended to end at some point-  I knew that when I left. Now I want to feel joy for the work that I have done and I will continue to work hard up until the end. I am so happy to be a missionary!! This has been the best choice I have ever made. I have been trying to take some time to write down the lessons I have learned on my mission, but literally it's everything! I am grateful that over the course of my mission I have been able to change and become somebody better and I want to continue to progress throughout my life.

I love you all and I am always praying for you.
Love forever,
Sister Hamstea