Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Baby Jesus always plays Quarterback

Georgian Snowmen!! 
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Can you believe its already Christmas? That just seems crazy to me! Want to know what else is crazy? Oh the fact that I have been a missionary for 11 months, today. YIKES! How on earth has the time gone so fast? What an amazing year to spend in the South. :)

I love Christmas! And all the fun Christmas traditions/festivities that we get to be a part of as missionaries. Its pretty wonderful if you ask me :) 

Let me start by explaining the title of this email. We were at a members home and she was showing us all of the nativities she has in her home, and I noticed one of them was not set up like a normal nativity.. so I asked "So.. whats the deal with this one?" To which she responded "Oh.. The kids and my wonderful husband always turn this nativity into a football play because everyone is kneeling..(rolls eyes)" And out of the other room we hear the 15 yr old boy yell "YUP! And Baby Jesus always plays Quarterback!" I couldn't help but laugh as I told her not to worry because it was something I was sure my brothers would do too :) 

Its been a pretty good week, kind of a blur to be honest.. Its just been so busy! Here's a little rundown of the week, mostly of things I have learned! 

Monday: P-Day, and two FHE's with families in the ward that I LOVE! Poor Sister Pabst, every house we leave I always say "YUP! They're my favorite" She just laughs and says "You sure have a lot of favorites!" Its true.. I just love the people here so much I can't help but have all of them be my favorites! 

TuesdayDistrict meeting, and Exchange with Sister George in Suwanee! I had so much fun with Sister George, as always :) This is my 3rd time going on a 24hr exchange with her. Woot woot! While we were there we did service for this wonderful woman named Marni, who is awesome. Her daughter remembered me and ran up to me and said "Mom! Sister Hamilton is back!" It definitely made me feel good considering she has only met me twice :)

We shared a message with Marni and her kids using Alma 7:10-12 and the M&M poem mom sent me. I must say, the most joy that comes to missionaries is when they watch the words of scripture touch peoples hearts. We read about how the Savior went through everything in this life so that He could know how to "succor" His people. We taught how to succor means to run to and give aid or support. The Savior felt everything we have felt so He doesn't have to wait. He doesn't have to guess how we are feeling, He can run to us and help us. As we taught this Marni seemed to literally light up, especially as she looked at us and said "So that's why He did it. He did it to help us, to love us. He did it all for us. That is beautiful" It is beautiful. And that is what the Christmas season is about, not simply the miraculous birth of the Son of God, but the life He lived because of His birth. 

Wednesday: Sister George and I walked around the park for a couple of hours enjoying the sunshine trying to talk to people, it wasn't super successful HOWEVER! We found a preaching podium with benches at a park.. haha only in Georgia!

We taught the Bergs again this week. We taught them about the Priesthood, and I learned something new :) So the Priesthood is the power of God given to man to act in God's name to bring about the Salvation of souls. In other words, its a really great gift! Often times we think of the priesthood only with blessing the sacrament, giving blessings, baptizing, etc. But as we were teaching it on Wednesday it just clicked for me.. Its so much more than that. We can have the Priesthood in our lives each day, specifically as we feel of the Holy Ghost. The Gift of the Holy Spirit, or the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit, is given through the Priesthood following baptism. So each day that we feel the Spirit, its because of the Priesthood. Therefore, the Priesthood or blessings of it are in our lives much more than I think I ever gave credit.. Kind of cool huh? I'm sure its something you already knew.. but it was just a thought that came to me as we were teaching it so I thought I'd share it.

Thursday: Christmas Party!!! The entire mission got together for a Christmas Party with President and Sister Wolfert. It was SOO fun to see my friends/past companions. Seriously it was wonderful! We had lunch and a talent show and then each got a present. President and Sister Wolfert gave us these really cool journals with the mission logo on it. Perfect timing because I'm almost finished with one! 

All the missionaries that came out with me at the mission Christmas party, I can't believe we've been out for 11 months! 
Friday: On exchange again, but this time with Sister Stott (my second time with her). Our dinner appointment cancelled because the family got the flu so we had extra time to tract :) We were tracting in a neighborhood that really stuck out to me on the map the night before. As we got there I told Sister Stott "Okay! Are you ready to see some miracles? Because I know they are here." And believe me when I say, I know the miracles are everywhere but sometimes I find myself praying "Heavenly Father, I just promised this Sister we'd see miracles.. Please don't make me look like a fool." :) But the cool thing about miracles is they come by our faith, so if we are confident enough to say I know they are here, the Lord will open our eyes so that we can see them. 

Sisters in the Zone :)
So let me tell you about the miracle of tracting on Friday. This man opened the door, we talked for a bit and then to our surprise he says "We just started the Sabbath, it would mean so much to us to have you come into our home and share a message about Christ with us!" So in we went and taught a family :) We shared our testimonies of the Savior, taught about Prophets and scripture, and how the Lord asks us to "Follow thou me." As Chris was talking he was mentioning how the world has enough doctrine, what the world needs is to better understand the way of how to follow Christ. For some reason the talk "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox came to me and I told him how Brad Wilcox says, "We aren't earning heaven, we're learning heaven." Chris and Kim LOVED that! In fact I think he repeated it about 5 times and each time the spirit came stronger and stronger. What I loved was afterward he said "That's it, that's what I'm going to teach to my congregation tomorrow." (Oh ya, did I mention he's the assistant pastor?) We then introduced the Book of Mormon and shared our favorite scriptures out of it. Kim said "I believe in prophets, so I believe all the words you just read, can we keep that book?" and Chris said "This is a masterpiece, all the scriptures you read to me seemed to touch my heart. I think I'd like to share that one tomorrow with my congregation as well. Thank you Sisters, you have truly blessed our home, and we assure you, you will always be received when you come here." So.. I asked them if they wanted to take these "set of lessons" we teach to people... :) And they said they would love to because they felt a great spirit when we were there and they know it came from God. WHAT A MIRACLE!! :) 

Basically.. we just helped a pastor plan his sermon.. no big deal. :) Oh wait.. it is a big deal! :) just kidding.. but seriously :) hahaha!

Saturday: Lots of tracting.. we stopped by Bethanne, a woman we are teaching to wish her a Merry Christmas. She told us "You sisters have a gift.. Every time you speak you make me think about the path I am on and make me think about if its the right one or not. Truly you have been a light to me this Christmas season." That woman is a amazing. I really hope we can help her see the purpose in coming to church soon. :)

We saw a woman in our ward Marla and her little girls. Marla saw that my bangs were shorter.. I told her I had cut them then she said "Oh, well here! I have some scissors can you cut Syndey's too? (Her 2 yr old) YIKES! haha Definitely prayed pretty hard to have a steady hand. I am happy to report little Sidney looks adorable :)

Sunday: We sang in the Choir :) My new favorite hymn thing is "In Silence We Wait." Look it up, its seriously BEAUTIFUL! We tried really hard to invite everyone to church and a bunch of people we are teaching said they'd come.. but didn't. Such is life as a missionary. But As we were singing in the Choir I got so excited when I got to see Meliah bring in her 2 daughters :) She came to church! And another miracle is she stayed for Sunday School and Relief Society (something she hasn't done ever.) It was a tender mercy that's for sure. 

Well.. I'd say that's just about all folks! But I still have a few funnies in me to share so.. here we go! 
  • A man answered the door and said "Listen up! Have y'all ever thought about becoming Catholic?" before we could even say who we were haha
  • We had this great convo with these teens about missionary work then their mom showed up and killed that convo.. To which her kids responded "Mom.. be nice. These are missionaries just like you were last month." Can't say it put her in a happy mood, but I thought it was cool! haha
  • A man with tattoos everywhere, who recently joined the church in Suwanee, had a shirt that said "Fishers of Men: You catch 'em & God cleans 'em" I loved it! Way to go Brother Walkins! :)
  • Oh and not so funny.. but amazing.. ya it was in the 70's this week. WOOT WOOT! :)
Well, that's all I have time for, and who knows if y'all actually read it all! :) 

Most importantly, I hope y'all have a Merry Christmas! I'm not sure I've ever been so excited about the Christmas season! Thank you for sending me so much love this Holiday Season! I love you all!

Sister Hamilton

P.S. My dear family.. I'LL SEE YOU SOON!!! WOOOT WOOOOT!!!!! :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Well Sisters.. You just ate Wild HOG!

Hey Everyone!! 

Sister Pabst and I at Walmart
I hope you are all doing great! Its been a crazy week here in GA.. You see Sister Pabst and I have been working way hard, like super hard :) and we had 7+ appointments set up at the beginning of the week. All of which were different people I might add and we had members of the congregation who were willing to come with us to each lesson. Success? Well DUH! Unfortunately.. we either received a phone call from or when we called them each and every one of them sounded like they had been infested with the plague.. So alas, all 7 appointments.. poof.. gone. Better luck next time.. DOH!

Even with the craziness of cancelled appointments we've had a great week :) What made it so great you ask? Well hey! Let me tell you! That is my job in writing this email after-all. 

Perhaps I should start with the biggest accomplishment this week.. I didn't gain 152352342304lbs. I'm not sure why members think we don't get enough treats and anytime we are in their homes they have to WATCH us eat cookies to make sure we get our sugar intake for the hour.. I'm not going to lie.. Its rough.. I never knew I could look at cookies and feel pain.. haha Moral of the story, please don't force feed the missionaries!

So back to the important stuff.. We had our Zone Meeting this week so it was fun to see all of the Sisters. We have 3 more companionship's of Sisters in the Zone than when I started here its kind of crazy but its fun :) And we went on our first of many exchanges for the transfer so that was good. I was with Sister Porter on Tuesday and Sister Vincent on Friday, both sisters I have never gone on exchange with so that was cool! I've officially gone on exchanges/been companions with 40+ sisters in the mission, poor girls! haha

I'm not exactly sure what order to say things in.. so Here's some of the short/sweet experiences from the week!
  • After dinner last night, biscuits and gravy, Brother Hill announced, "Well Sisters.. You just ate Wild HOG! How do ya feel?" I think he was flabbergasted that Sister Pabst and I didn't flinch we just went, "Huh, that was pretty good!" They told us about all the meats they have in the freezer.. none of the least of which is squirrel. So apparently the next time we eat there (not Christmas) will be squirrel. But hey, when in Georgia, do as the Georgians do! 
  • We got to see Barbara a couple of times this week, once at a lunch/memorial for her son that passed away a year ago, and once at her home. I love her! As we talked to her at her home we told her about how much we care for her and want to help her whenever we can. She responded by saying "Well girls, i know you love me! I feel peace when you're around. You're my support, and its not a coincidence that I only cried as you hugged me and my one other friend. There were 50 people there, but as soon as you got there I felt loved and supported." I love the chances we have to talk to her and help her to understand a little better God's love for her. That's really what this work is all about. 
  • I got to play Santa's Elf for service :) Aka took pictures of 100's of kids who came to see Santa. It was so fun to feel apart of Christmas. I mean sure, I talked to people all day about the Christmas Season, but it was just extra special to see all the kids light up as they got to talk to Santa. AND! He even told me that Lucas, Samantha, Tyler, Cameron, Katherine, Logan, and Benjamin have all been good this year! So keep being good kids, Santa is excited for your Christmas! :) 
  • President and Sister Wolfert came and spoke in the Coal Mountain ward for church tomorrow :) It was really cool to have them there. We knew they were going to be there so we worked SO hard to have someone come to church. We invited everyone, but no one would commit to come, or the ones that said tehy'd like to come couldn't because they caught the plague. So Saturday right before I got in bed I said another prayer.. and I begged Heavenly Father to help someone come to church. I knew people were sick.. I knew its busy because of Christmas.. etc. but I trusted Heavenly Father to not let all of our efforts be wasted. I saw a miracle the next morning at about 8:55. As we were greeting everyone in the Chapel I noticed Misty sitting in the congregation with her daughter. We have been trying to teach them but like everyone they have been sick. She gave me a hug and said "I got your note and I'm feeling better so I came!" We had stopped by this week and she wasn't there.. I know her getting better and coming to church was a direct answer to my many prayers this week. There is no other explanation for her "just happening to feel better" Sunday morning. I am thankful for a loving Father who listens to and hears my prayers. I know he does the same for all of us. 
  • Bishop Pennington joked with President Wolfert and said "Our Relief Society President is moving, I'd love to be able to call Sister Hamilton, can you give me permission to do that?" President laughed and laughed as he told me about it then said, "Sorry Sister Hamilton, as much as I know you'd love to stay here in Coal Mountain but I just can't guarantee how much longer you'll be here. But I must say, you've really won the hearts of this ward! They LOVE you!" I'm really hoping that wasn't a hint of "You're leaving at the end of this transfer.." I really just LOVE this place so much. :)
  • The weather isn't terrible.. Some days its like 60's.. Some its 40's.. Two this week were in the 30's.. And Humid. Ya.. NO thanks! But I still haven't busted out my "thick" coat so Its really not too bad. This week should be high 50's and 60's. So I'm excited for that! 
  • I knocked doors in a neighborhood completely themed after Robin Hood. Yes.. Friar Tuck Ct and everything! haha
  • We stopped by the Schwartz, a family that we are starting to teach. And Ms. Schwartz was so excited to see me and said "Oh girls! I am so excited for our get together on Wednesday. I'm excited to learn! :)" can I just say how cool it is to have someone excited to learn and also that she set up the appointment with her friend in our Congregation without us asking? THE BEST! :) 
Well that's probably it for the week. I love you all and hope you are doing great! Keep spreading the Christmas Cheer!! Don't worry about me, I'm doing great. Don't need anything, I have everything I have ever hoped or dreamed for. I can't wait to talk to the family next week!! AHH!! so excited!! 

I love you all! Merry Christmas!!
Sister Hamilton

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Miracles, Gifts, Smiles, Cops, and Hugs! What a WEEK!

Hey Everyone!!

My 24 days of Christmas :)
I honestly don't know if I have ever felt more loved or witnessed more miracles than this past week. It has been marvelous! I wish I could tell you everything that happened this week but I think that might take me an entire day to list all of the blessings I have received this week. So forgive me as I do my best, but I am sure it won't be adequate to express all that I'm feeling. 

Let me first start by thanking everyone that wrote me notes to go in the package mom and dad sent me. Those little notes each day mean more to me than you could ever imagine! Perhaps my favorite comes from one of the kids in mom's primary class that reads "Sup Sis Hamilton. You don't know me, but I know you. Good luck being a missionary!" Haha :) or How Jared wrote to me in "invisible spiritual ink" and promised me an all paid trip to Europe! Thanks Jared! :) HAHA GOTCHA!

Sister Ernst!
Now for the week! As always, here are some highlights :)
  • We went out to lunch with our District which now has 2 companionship's of Sisters and 2 of Elders. Well the Elders didn't go directly to lunch and so we were at the table for awhile by ourselves. And this man, Mr. Fisher, comes up to us and starts telling us how his best friend sings in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This kind man owns a home in SLC and Cumming GA so he's here for the winter. Mr. Fisher took our picture and sent it to his friend (haha) but then did the kindest thing ever, he bought all of us lunch that day. Yup, he totally picked up the tab of 8 missionaires. Such a nice guy! And a huge blessing/gift! 
  • On Wednesday we taught one of our ward families whose son hasn't been to church in over a year. I love that family! Sister Pabst and I taught "temples/family history work" and I decided to ask Jackson about his experiences doing baptisms for the dead in the temple as a youth. As he remembered and told us I definitely felt the spirit, and at the end of the lesson we asked him (and his parents) to prepare to go to the temple and make it apart of our lives. The Spirit filled the room as he said "Okay, I'll do it." I had to play it cool but I really wanted to jump for joy! When we met him he wouldn't even answer a question.. And now he will read scriptures with us and participate. I feel extremely blessed to have watched as he has made small changes each time we come to teach and look forward to continuing to teach them the PMG lessons and see what miracles happen. I know there is power in those lessons, they are a perfect formula to bringing the Spirit and helping others, including ourselves, to know how to bring their lives closer to Christ.
  • So once upon a time Sister Pabst and I were knocking doors (okay.. that happens everyday) and.. We noticed one cop car.. then another.. and another and I had the thought "I bet those are for us." Well we kept knocking doors unaware of more cop cars, including undercover cops, filling the neighborhood. As we were talking to someone at the door a police officer got out of the car and CAME UP TO US! That poor woman was so scared. He then asked us who we were etc and said people had called us in. HAHA Two girls in skirts looking scary? what! He then kind of chuckled and said "Well sisters, keep spreading the word, I'm proud of ya!" There were 4 regular cop cars, 3 undercover, and 1 k9 unit. Yes that is a real story. HAHA Definitely one for the journal. The sad thing is there have been a TON of breakins lately where people pretend to be missionaries and then have people jump out of the bushes.. and ya.. So people are nervous to talk to us. 
  • The Assistants called to say we were going to be spending the night in Johns Creek for the day between our two days of meetings. Woot woot! So I called Sister Blackett to ask what she wanted to do. She said "Well.. we don't really want to go on splits.. so why don't you go see your favorite peeps and let them know you love them and inspire them to do missionary work." Did she just give me the green light to go play in Johns Creek? WHY YES SHE DID! And did I take it? OF COURSE I DID! :) Immediately I knew the two I needed to see, the Ernsts and Betty. And Sis Pabsts neighbors growing up lived there to so we called them. It was wonderful! 
  • In Johns Creek: Sister Ernst called me back and said "Can I meet you where you are? I have to see you! This is the best!" So I got to see her, which was such a blessing! :) She informed me that Courtney, her sister-in-law that we used to see, has come back to church and went through the temple last week! How amazing is that! I am so excited for her! We then went to see Betty, who had emailed me her new address just Monday. The tender mercy was seeing her in the lobby and giving her the biggest HUG ever! She truly has changed my life, I have learned so much about love from her. She even played Called to Serve for me on the piano, I'm not sure I could have received a better gift than that this Christmas season. 
  • Someone told me while tracting, "I'd like to take some of your time to tell you why you shouldn't join the Latter-day Saint Church" haha :)
  • A bumper sticker read "I am a proud descendant of a Confederate Soldier." It went great with the large Confederate flag flying high off the home. :)
  • Betty and I sitting at her piano :)
  • We met a woman who I could tell was worried about her children. I remembered a training we had months back about how to introduce the Book of Mormon using it as a "book" of any kind (for example, book about history, or family etc.) As this woman, Karen, opened up about her concerns I felt prompted to refer to the Book of Mormon as a guide for parents. I went as far as to say "Its the best parenting book the world has", BOLD haha :) As we told her that it would help her answer all her questions on how to be the best mother she can be and how to love her child she cried and asked if it was free so she could have one. We were able to read some of 1 Nephi with her when Lehi is giving counsel to Laman and Lemuel and explained his trials with his sons but how he loved them anyway. She was touched and the Spirit was so strong. I am excited to go back and see her on Tuesday and pray we can help her feel peace and strengthened by the Gospel.
Like I said, the list could go on and on of the things that I have both seen and felt this week. Last night we got notice at 7 that we could watch the Christmas Devotional at a church building, which started at 8. We had no miles to drive ourselves to Suwanee so we gave up on seeing it. But as we stopped by to see the Aeschbachers they asked if we wanted to watch it, we explained how we couldn't at their home and they said not a problem! Within minutes all were dressed in church clothes and we made it to the church, where no one was, opened the library, got a TV, and watched it with just their family! Another amazing gift! :) Plus it was just absolutely wonderful to watch. And if you didn't watch it, I'd encourage you to. I loved that Sister Wixom shared the same story she had at my graduation, it was an amazing reminder to realize "what's next" is what we do with our love and knowledge of the Savior. 

I am so thankful for this Christmas season. The Love of the Savior is all around us, ready for us to let it into our hearts. I know that as we serve those around us we will be filled with the Spirit of Christmas, or as President Monson said last night, the Spirit of Christ. His love is real and is available for all. He is the Prince of Peace. And we would all do well to follow the advice of the Baptist church right down the street from me that says "Jesus is the reason for the season, please don't forget." 

I love you all! Merry Christmas!!
Sister Julie Hamilton

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey Y'all!! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving, I know I did! It was weird being so busy on a holiday, but it was so fun! I mean usually we cook.. and eat.. and cook.. and eat.. and laugh.. and eat.. and play.. and eat.. You get the picture? But you see.. that's not very conducive to a missionaries schedule.. when we still have to proselyte all day. More on thanksgiving in a minute :) 

Monday I finished sewing my skirt, I'm currently wearing it. WOOT WOOT. Success! 

Ugly Sweater District Meeting! :)
Last Tuesday was pretty awesome, we had an Ugly Sweater Party for district meeting. Mine was.. THE BEST! haha And it was one of those days when all of us were just not in the mood to be in meetings, so we all voted to forgo role-playing and decided to go Christmas caroling to the other district having their meeting in the building. :) It was pretty hilarious and a fun close to our district as it has really changed this transfer because of missionaries getting moved to other places and more companionship's coming. 

Wednesday morning the alarm went off at 5:15 so I could wake up Sister Alder who could then finish packing and what not. Well.. I turned on the light and told her to wake up.. then as a good companion should I went back to sleep.. WOOPS! haha I woke up at about 5:40 and noticed that Sister Alder had also gone back to sleep. So we both rushed and tried to get ready and got her all packed and by 6am we were out the door. Not sure how we managed to do that! haha  We drove all the way to Lawrenceville to pick up my new companion, Sister Pabst. 

Sister Pabst is from Logan Utah. She's 19 and has been out for 6 months. She has served all 6 months in the Madison branch, which is a tiny congregation in super rural GA. She and I have been having a lot of fun and have seem some amazing miracles! And yes, her ancestors were the original brewers of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and so our Recent Convert in the ward calls her Sister PBR.. CLASSY! 

So back to thanksgiving.. :) That day was a blast! and full of miracles! Let me explain: 
Thanksgiving! :) Those are some of the Johnson's neighbors, and yes they put a nametag on my head
  • We met a woman named Brittany who wants us to come back and teach her about the church. Her parents joined the church when she lived away and have since passed away. We are going to be seeing her on Wednesday morning :) 
  • My new favorite Thanksgiving Dishes are: Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Sweet Potato Souffle! YUM! 
  • We were tracting and we met the family I always imagined I'd meet in GA.. Deep-frying their turkey in the front yard with accents so thick you can cut. :) 
  • We were talking to a mom and then.. poof! She disappeared and her daughter was there.. She just walked away haha Anyways so we were then talking to her daughter and as I read to her the account of Christ in the America's she was amazed. As we talked about what it meant to her she told us that as I read she felt that God loved her. That my friends, is the miracle of the Book of Mormon. 
  • We had dinner at the Johnson's who invited their neighbors over to join us, and their kids were dolls, I love them! Anyways :) (Can you tell I really miss all the little kids and babies? Well.. I DO!) They told the Johnsons they were really impressed with us and would like to come back again sometime so we could share a Christmas message with them :) 
So yup, it was a pretty wonderful day :) Here are some other quick things from the week:
  • A man prayed for my soul and told me that i would be "eternally disappointed" with the choice I have made to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
  • We met a guy who was really excited to talk to us and when we taught him the restoration he said "Thank you for answering my prayer, I've been wondering since I was a little boy when the next prophet would come." Its always so amazing to meet people who truly recognize the truth of the message we share, what a blessing! 
  • Got to decorate for Christmas and put up a tree for the grandparents in our ward :) Sister Pauley looks a lot like Grandma Smith and I just love that! I of course dropped an ornament.. it broke.. WOOPS.. And I had flashbacks to dropping a cup at grandmas for thanksgiving. Remember that? And the boys told me I ruined thanksgiving.. haha. Well I'm happy to report her response was the same as grandmas "Oh hunny, who cares! Just keep having fun!" :) 
  • We saw someone putting up christmas lights in front so we asked if they needed any help. The woman said "You can help by cheering us up! This is stressful!" As she turned around I heard her then mumble.. "Oh no hunny.. their Mormon's I doubt they'll cheer us up." HAHA! 
The Gouldings :) They are the sweet people that we live with, well in their basement! :) 
Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week. I know that I will. I'm not sure there is anything better than being blessed to serve the Lord and CHRISTMAS! :) I hope we can all remember the true meaning of Christmas. It is a time to celebrate the love, sacrifice, and service of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Its a time for all of us to love and serve those around us. Elder Ballard said "We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."

That's my invitation to you, will all of you between now and Christmas find one person that needs to feel God's love? And then do some small act of service for them. I know that as we look for those who need to feel His love that the spirit of Christmas will be in our hearts and we will remember Him. We will remember all He has done for us, and we will feel His love in our hearts more so now than ever before. 

I love you!
Sister Hamilton

P.S. Letters and Packages to:
6416 Mayfield Dr.
Cumming GA 30041

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reasons to be Thankful!

Why Hello There Everyone! 

I had a really great week! Super hard.. But also super great! For the sake of time and trying to stay focused.. I'm probably going to tell you about transfers first then do some bullet points. 

Transfers are this week, the day before thanksgiving to be exact. I am going to be staying in the Coal Mountain Ward (which I couldn't be more happy about!) Woot woot! That also means I am still a Sister Training Leader, which means another 6 weeks of 2 exchanges per week and we now have a 6th companionship of sister in the zone. By the end of this transfer it will be my 6 month mark of being a Sister Training Leader. I love it! But I'm also pooped! haha Good thing the holidays bring an added level of excitement so I'm sure I'll find enough energy :) 

For the month of December the mission has asked that you send ALL letters and packages to me directly. My address is 6416 Mayfield Dr. Cumming, GA 30041. So ya.. Write me! :) 

Here is a rundown of the week: 
  • We met some of the coolest people this week! I went on two exchanges with Sisters I hadn't gone with before so that was exciting :) On one of the exchanges I met someone who served his mission with Chase Adams-Hart. Small world? YES! So.. If anyone in the Adams-Hart family gets this.. I'm supposed to say "Elder Broadhead says hi." (At least I think that's his name.. haha)
  • Wednesday we were tracting and we knocked on the door of Nicki, a pretty young mom. We had been knocking doors in this neigborhood for an hour with no success only fiesty people. And we couldn't figure out why we had felt like we needed to go there. Then we met Nicki, and we knew :) All of her extended family are members and she was so excited to meet us! She said she really wants to learn more and asked us to come back next week when kids are out of school because she wants her kids involved too :) Miracle, I think yes! 
  • We were on a team-up with Sister Norton visiting some sisters in the ward who haven't been coming. As we drove into one neighborhood Sis Norton says "My friend lives here!" and we kept going to find this girl in our ward.. well she moved.. So as we were driving out of the neighborhood Sis Norton goes "Well Sisters, wait a second, we weren't here to find Betsy, we're in this neighborhood so you can meet my friend. Ya. Lets just stop by!" :) SO WE DID! And it was awesome! Lyndi was SO excited to meet us and know there were girl missionaries (Sis norton's son is serving in Brazil). As we were getting ready to leave Sis Norton says "You know Lyndi, they teach free lessons about our church.." to which Lyndi responded "You do?! Well then lets get them started! Can you come after thanksgiving and start teaching my family, we really need a church." So we talked briefly about the youth programs available for her kids and it was awesome. :) A miracle, umm YA!! 
  • On Thursday we made many a batch of cookies with Sister Davis (one of our offical Grandma's in the congregation) for the troops. There is a thing each quarter that people ship off homemade cookies and southern treats to troops overseas. It was SO fun! I think we made about 20 dozen cookies in 2 hours. It was awesome :) We boxed 225 full of cookies and goodies to be sent to the Military! :)
  • As we were making the cookies I rememberd that Thursday was Barbara R (someone we are teaching) son's birthday. He was killed in a car accident a year ago. So we wrote her a card and took her over some of the cookies. I'm not sure I have the adequate words to express how much I love that woman. Nor can I completely describe seeing her that day. To see her light up a bit as we gave her cookies and a needed hug. She told her friend (a member in our ward) how much she loves us and how much it meant to her that we remembered Kyle's birthday. She said "those sisters of yours are welcome at my house everyday!" (Someday remind me to tell you of the miracle of Barbara R. and Mary--I'm not sure I have time today, but its definitely one worth sharing)
  • We are having lunch with Mary and her friend Sister Berg to talk about the church and answer some of her questions :) Cool huh? :) 
  • We had a Sister's work out/party on Friday with Sister Wolfert :) It was all the sisters in two stakes. It was really fun! We worked out, ate breakfast, did some trainings, and then talked. I unfortunately had to train on not flirting again.. DOH! I trained on it last week in a meeting and then on Fri Sister Wolfert said "Sister Hamilton I know I didn't ask you but.. will you go train on not flirting right now?" So that was "fun" aka not.. haha But its okay! :) It was fun to see a couple of my past companions :)
  • Oh and Sister Wolfert called me and gave me marriage advice.. Yes. That happend. And I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen everyday as a missionary! haha She just kept giving me peptalks about finding the best guy and not settling so that he and I together could do great things.. haha Okay Sister Wolfert, THANKS! :) On a serious note I really do love her, she's amazing! I really lucked out and got the best Mission President/Wife. 
So ya, things are great! All the ward is making a schedule of where we will be for what holiday (multiple members each day have us coming) so we are all taken care of :) Its so fun! haha And its a miracle to see them starting to jump into missionary work and be involved. We have about 4 families right now who have nights set up where they have invited friends over and we are going to do a lesson and a game. WHAT A MIRACLE! :) 

Alma 34:38 "...and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you." Lifes good! Find reasons to be thankful for! :) Because believe me, there are blessings all around us. 

I love you all!! 
Sister Julie Hamilton

P.S. Sorry, no pictures this week. I took a bunch.. but alas.. I forgot my camera cord :) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Feeling more than blessed!

Hey Everyone!! 

I have to leave in about 30 min to go sew my skirt... so I'll make this fast.. soo.. it will most likely be all over the place :)

I hope you are all doing great! I know I am !! :) Life sure is wonderful. Its been an interesting week here full of miracles and blessings. I realize I say that a lot.. its kind of my mission catch phrase because its so true! Miracles are all around us. You know what's another reason I feel so blessed? I just felt so much love from everyone this week. Don't get too crazy, of course I still met some very feisty Georgians, but I also met some of the kindest people and felt so much love from them and for them. It was a miracle :) So.. let me start with a few miracles and blessings from the week. 

  • Miracle of technology and the sweetest Relief Society President ever. I got a text from her Tuesday that said "Lindsey is in Labor!!" Then a phone call around 8:40 where she said "Hello Sister Auntie!" Seriously! How fun is that? I didn't have to wait for Monday to roll around to know Lindsey had had little Benjamin :) Also because of technology Paul was able to text her pictures so I could see how cute he was!! 
  • Remember the girl in our congregation who has sooo many reptiles? Well we saw her this week and she showed us all of her animals again and things she's collected over the years. She's getting married and is SO excited which is fun :) As we talked to her I just kept getting the feeling that she needed to know she was appreciated and loved. So I did something which I'm pretty sure I've never done before, I prayed for an immediate interest in her reptiles and hobbies and for an increased love for her. And it happened, immediately. All of a sudden I was "petting" snakes, holding lizards, sharks teeth, bones, etc and she was literally beaming. She looked so happy.  Next thing I knew I had scriptures come to my mind that I could apply to her perfectly and she loved it. Before we left she asked if we could come back again soon and she gave us necklaces she has made out of sea-glass she collected. As I gave her a hug, thanked her for the BEAUTIFUL necklace, and told her I loved her she responded "Thank you for being my friend." If there is one thing serving a mission has taught me its that everyone deserves a friend, everyone needs to know they are loved. 
  • We knocked on the door.. A man answered with his wife standing next to him and without any introduction said "Well come on in!" Turns out Rick and Cookie just returned from a 15 year mission in Thai Land for the Southern Baptist Church Foundation. We talked about missions and it was so cool. They showed us an "evangicube" basically the plan of salvation in a cube that you twist and turn.. Lets just say.. I need one! (haha) Anyway, they were so nice. :) It was a definite blessing! 
  • As we did a family home evening we asked the kids to do something and one of them said "if I remember" (mind you this kid is 10.. so that is a normal response). His Dad responds by saying "Son, do you know who these girls are?" --Missionaries-- "Did you know that when they speak, they speak for the Savior.. They aren't the ones that asked you to do that service. It was the Savior." He left it at that. It was one of the most powerful teaching moments I've ever been in. I learned so much. What a huge responsibility it is to be representatives of Jesus Christ, but it is also the biggest joy and blessing! 
I think I am one of the luckiest girls in the entire world. Truthfully, I feel that way. I don't know how I got so lucky to have the best family, be serving around the most wonderful people, and to be in such a beautiful place! I mean its 70 degrees today! :) 

This week I was even lucky enough to have the BEST dinner ever. A family in the ward flew in "Moes" clam clowder from Oregon and Boudin's Sour Dough bread for me. Our first dinner there they asked me my favorite thing to do in SF because he goes there for work all the time and I said "Clam-chowder in a bread bowl" They mentioned they havea  favorite place in Oregon.. and so when we came over for dinner this week they had surprised me. How amazingly thoughtful is that?!? :) I mean hello.. here I am in Georgia and I just had Boudins! So mom and dad.. in case you ever doubted.. I am being completely taken care of :) 

Well.. I have to go. So let me just do one or two funny lines from the week 
  • I showed up to the Relief Society Pres house for a lesson and she says "Sister Booger, its so nice of you to join us! hehe sorry your brother told me his nick name for you" haha Thanks Paul! I sure love you! 
  • "Jesus Recycles" -Mt Tabor Baptist Church
  • "I don't want to be mormon unless I can have 10 wifes"--crazy old guy.. haha 
  • We went Visiting Teaching.. at the Dawsonville Pool Room. Yes. That really happend. Visiting teaching in a pool hall with billiards slot machines and more. And to make it better we took a picture of course :) And one of the sisters asked the guys at the bar to join in to which they responded "Y'all just want some hillbillies in yur picture." HAHAHA I LOVE THIS PLACE!! 
Well I have to go. I love you all sooo much!! Thank you for all the letters and prayers. 

Have a great week! 
Sister Hamilton

"We're praying for you... You're welcome."

Why Hello There!

Don't you just love my favorite church sign of the week? "We're praying for you.....You're welcome." So when in doubt.. At least know the Hopewell Baptist Church is praying for you! :)
It has been a great week and an interesting week! Full of meetings, service, miracles, and fun! But before I recap on last week let me give some shout outs for this coming week..

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Wayne and Kristin!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! I hope you like the surprise I sent ya!
WELCOME TO The World Little P&L!!! <--Assuming that little one comes this week :)

Such fun things happening for Hamiltons this week! I'm excited!
Now for a quick rundown on the week..

    Sister PaePae and I at Zone Conference! 
  • We stopped by to see Barbara one night and read the Book of Mormon with her, she told us we had to wait and surprise Annie, so we did! When Annie got there Barbara proudly told her of the miracles the Savior had done in the Americas (3Nephi17) :) It was so cute to see her retelling all that we had read and how you could see it really meant something to her- a tender mercy! 
  • We were landscaping with Mary again this week and she started asking wonderful questions about the Church. She then told us about an experience she had with her neighbor. He asked her "Mary, why do you have two young girls over doing landscaping, my dog ran over to them and they were just so nice.. So what's the deal.. Did they get caught with drugs or underage drinking?"--HAHAHA--She that she told him "Bill! No. Those are Mormon missionaries." To which he asked "Well what are they doing at your house, you're not a mormon." And she said she boldy responded "Mormons are the nicest people and best church, they take care of everyone. You should really talk to them!" 
  • We stopped by to see a woman who hasn't come to church in about 10 or so years.. And she said "You know what, you're right. Its time I come back!" Meliah and her two daughters sat with us during church, MIRACLE. 
  • Sister Nielsen and I at Zone Conference!
  • A little boy in the primary program said "My faith increases when I learn the recreation of the Gospel." HAHA :) SO funny, and SO cute. But hey, I love the fun "recreation" that comes from the gospel too! 
  • I got a letter this week from a future Sister for the Georgia Atlanta North Mission. I guess she found my blog somehow and so she wrote me and asked me questions for prepping for Georgia. How cool is that? I had no idea that anyone actually read my blog! Thank you so much Lindsey for posting everything on there! And future Sister Johnson, if you're reading this, I'll be sure to write you back today with some helpful suggestions :)
  • We made cookies with a woman in our ward this week and took them to her neighbor. It was so fun she said "they just really need the gospel and they have been coming to ward activities for a long time. Its time I be a good friend and simply invite them to learn more!" So her goal this week is to invite them to a FHE at her home. Will you keep her in your prayers that she'll have courage and love to invite their neighbors over for a fun activity? :)
  • As we were teaching a member family the restoration.. Sister Alder was sharing her testimony of the Book of Mormon.. it was a great moment and the spirit was really strong. I see the BIGGEST cockroach climbing toward Sis. Norton.. I just watched it.. so I would know where to kill it afterward so Sis Alder could keep teaching.. well Sister Alder saw it and yelled "YIKES YIKES A BUG ON YOUR SLIPPER!" To which Sis Norton literally SCREAMED and kicked her legs back and forth, not only making her slippers fly but also the cockroach. Which flew across the room onto the coach we were on.. Needless to say.. it was HILARIOUS! Now.. that doesn't happen everyday! 
Anyways, its time to go. I love you all so much. I know that God lives, this is His work, and He loves each and everyone of us so much. We are never forgotten, we are never alone. We are His favorite! All of us, His favorite. And that my friends, is a miracle.

Sister Hamilton
Exchange with Suwanee!! Sister George and I had a BLAST!! It was so much fun!! :) She's a hoot. Its my second exchange with her so that was fun.

"Oh, that's right.. Mormon's Love Everyone."

I hope you are all doing wonderful! I know I am :) Its been such an amazing week I don't even know where to start. I have learned SOOO much. And we have truly been blessed in this area! I'm happy (if you couldn't tell) :), healthy, and lovin' the missionary life! 

Sister Blaylock and I at Mission Leadership Counsel. It was so good to see her!  
Let me start by explaining the title to this email. I was in Hamilton Mill with Sister Cordero and we were tracting in this neighborhood. It was such a beautiful day with a little breeze and all the leaves on the trees are falling.. and many of them fell in my hair and got stuck on my skirt.. EMBARRASSING! :) just kidding, it wasn't embarrassing, it was just funny when I'd notice a leaf on my bum. ANYWAYS. We knocked on this door and no one came to the door but a man came around the garage and asks who we are.. I tell him.. to which he responds "You have GOT to be kidding me.. (mumbles under breath)..Listen.. We're like your enemy." well.. you know me.. I just smiled and responded "Enemy? What? No.. we don't have enemies!" He's response couldn't have been better. "Oh.. that's right. Mormon's love everyone..Well.. I'd like to be left alone." haha so hey, maybe he didn't want to hear anything about our message but at least he knows mormon's love everyone!

Everyone thought we were trick or treating on Halloween.. NEAT! haha
A family I met when I was on exchange in the Hamilton Mill Ward :) They were hilarious! so I asked if I could take a picture :) We had breakfast for dinner.. LOVE!! No one ever does that, so its pretty awesome when we get it.
Do you remember me ever talking about a couple in the Johns Creek Ward, Mandi and Will? We taught Will a lot and I found out at Mission Leadership that he's getting baptized this weekend! Woot woot! He's being baptized this Saturday and they are getting married next saturday! I'm so excited for them! :)

We golfed in District Meeting.. We had to write something your companion does that bugs you on a golf ball then we had our own driving range into the wilderness behind the church. Dad, I am proud to report that I did quite well. And the Elders were shocked I knew how to golf. I may or may not have had one of the longest shots.. just sayin'! :) Thanks for teaching me that very valuable skill Dad, I sure love you! 

We had a ward fall festival and we had a great turn-out! There were lots of people there who are not members of the church and it was really neat to have members excited to introduce us to their friends! We even have a few appointments with some of the families/their friends to teach a lesson.

These are all from my MTC group. Right now 5/6 sisters are Sister Training Leaders and 2/5 Elders are Zone Leaders so we had a lot of fun during our meeting ALL day friday. and I do mean ALL day..
For the sake of time I'm going to close with one story, its a story that happened over the course of 3 days. We were able to get back in with Annie Poleo, a sweet woman we had met tracting on Monday night. She was really excited to see us and asked great questions about our life after this. As we read with her scriptures from 2 Nephi 2 she asked how we knew to find those. I told her it was what I had studied that morning, to which she responded, "well then this is no coincidence!" Now isn't that the truth! :) We invited her to read that chapter for when we would teach her on Wednesday. After we said a closing prayer she asked if we would go see her mom and help her feel loved, which we gladly agreed to do. So we made plans to meet Annie at her mom's, who lives in an assisted living home.

As we went to meet her mom Annie came out of her car with the book of mormon in hand and gladly reported she had read the chapter and showed us a few verses she had questions with. Barbara, Annie's mom was so sweet and had questions about the Book of Mormon, and even asked if she could have one. :) We read some of our favorite scriptures and taught some of the restoration. I went there just assuming we would meet her mom and help her feel happy, I didn't know Annie wanted us to teach her mom too, what a miracle! :) 

We went back on Wednesday and brought a sister in our Relief Society, and taught the Plan of Salvation, which they both loved! Annie felt the spirit so strong and it was a blessing to help her recognize it. She immediately accepted baptism and asked if we could meet more often to read the scriptures! It was wonderful. When we invited Barbara to be baptized she was a little hesitant and before we could try to ask Annie said "Well mom! Why not? What's holding you back?" It was so amazing to see how badly Annie wants this for both her and her mom.

What perhaps was the most tender experience for me this week, if not on my whole mission, was when Barbara took my hand in both of hers and whispered "Sister Hamilton, please do not give up on me, I want this. I want to know this is true." I almost couldn't answer because it was so heartfelt. I bent down, looked her in the eyes and told her that I would never give up on her, and neither would her Lord and Savior. I told her I knew this was true, and if she studied, let us help her, and prayed that she could know too. Then of course, I gave her the biggest hug I could! I love that sweet grandma so much! 

I never will forget that moment. The picture painted in my mind and heart will never be erased. I will forever see her longing face as she explained "Well its just too good to be true." That's the miracle of the gospel, it sounds too good to be true, but it isn't. I know it isn't. God's love for us is real, its never ending. If I love the people of Georgia so much to never give up on them, can you image how much greater our Father is incapable of giving up on us? His love is much greater for us than mine is for this people, which is hard to comprehend because I love them so much. But if His love is greater, than I know He can NEVER give up on us.

He loves us more than we know. His Only Begotten Son is our Savior. And They are there for us always, all we have to do is ask. 

I love you all! I'm off to go buy some fabric to make a skirt! :) 

Sister Hamilton

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Miracles do happen!

Well Hey There!! 

Is a little blurry.. why? Oh that's because a HORSE just attempted to LICK my face. HAHA

I've had pretty much a great week here in Dahlonega, Coal Mountain, Cumming, Gainesville, and Tucker! We've traveled all over the place this week! Busy busy busy. I hit my 9 months.. very bitter sweet. I mean.. Yay! 

I'll start today with how I got to meet Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his sweet wife along with Elder and Sister Soares on Saturday. That was an amazing meeting! Elder Oaks agreed to take pictures with both missions and then shook all of our hands (poor guy, there were a lot of us!) It was really neat to see his sense of humor and hear the messages he and Elder Soares had for us. They gave us lots of reminders of how to be better missionaries but one thing I really liked was the phrase "The messenger must match the message." And Elder Oaks said "Now is the time to step up and do a little better." So that's what I'm going to try to do, is just step it up and be a little bit better in my missionary efforts. Its never easy to step it up, but I think the coolest part is looking back and seeing that you are no longer the person you used to be. We also learned that the missionary efforts in the United States have doubled since last October. That's cool huh! Gives you something to think about. :)
Is Sister Mitton and I after our meeting with Elder Oaks! :) I really hope to be in the same stake as her someday! Mom, do you happen to have a picture of the two of us at our baptisms? I think it would be fun to put it next to one of us on our mission just to see. :) 

Remember how I said we had a ton of ward support basically out of no where last week? Its starting to spread like a WILDFIRE! It is SO exciting! Sister Alder sometimes gets down on the fact that we don't have a ton of set teaching appointments but this week I heard her say "Well I just don't know when we can fit that in. We are SO busy!" I of course took that opportunity to say "Wait.. we're what??" :) She then got so excited and said "Oh my! We're busy! This is so exciting!" And it seems to just keep going.. I am certain that the "best is yet to come" as far as the Lords plans with this part of His vineyard go. :)I can just feel it in my heart that He has so many wonderful blessings and growth planned for the Coal Mountain congregation. I can honestly say this experience has has been one of the best learning experiences during my time as a missionary. I am just so excited to keep working hard and watching as the Lord works miracles. 

Now let me give you a list of some of the highlights of the week:
  • We have been teaching this family in our ward the missionary lessons, their son is 19 and hasn't been to church in over a year and a half. The first lesson he was not interested.. but each lesson he has become more and more involved.. And we got a text from his mom this morning that said "[my son] wants to know when you are coming back to teach us! :) And he said mom if I go on a mission, I bet I'd go foreign! He hasn't talked about anything regarding church in almost two years!" Pretty amazing miracle if you ask me! :) 
  • A family asked us to do service for their neighbor who needed help with some landscaping. So of course we went and did service and to our great surprise Mary, the woman who we are helping with landscaping, Facebooked about us! And told all of her friends that Dawn's churches sister missionaries are some of the nicest girls she's ever met and its a blessing in her life to have us come help her. Isn't that wonderful :)
  • The Johnson's had us over to start teaching them the missionary lessons and they invited their long time friend Barbara to join. Barbara is so kind and I just love her! She lost her son in an accident about a year ago. We decided to teach the Plan of Salvation, God's plan for our families and happiness on this earth, and it was an amazing lesson. She kept telling us about how she felt 2 years ago when she went through the Atlanta Temple during the Open House and at the end of the lesson she said "Can I come back each week when they teach these lessons? I really need this in my life." She also asked us if we could come to her home and talk with her daughter who is really struggling and just bring the peace we brought to the Johnson's to her home. We of course gave her the biggest hug and promised her we would be there! 
  • Mom, here's proof of the torn post card.. But on happy note, do you like my shirt? :)
  • We already have a minimum of 2 teaching appointments scheduled for each day this week.. WHATT??? Am I still in Georgia? Can this really be happening? :) 
Okay I know I've taken up a lot of your time but I have two more things I want to share with you. 

1. On Saturday Sister Blackett (my old companion, who is now serving in Johns Creek) came up to me and said "Sister Hamilton! I have to tell you something! Davis know's the Book of Mormon is true!" do you all remember Davis? Probably not.. He's someone that showed up at church one day and we taught him until his mom told him no. I told him that even though we couldn't still meet and teach him that he could read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it was true and that God would answer his prayer. Sister Blackett said they got a text from him a few days ago that read "Sister Hamilton! I did what you told me to.. and you were right! I've been reading and praying about the Book of Mormon and I know its true. And my mom said if it means this much to me that I can come back to church!" They're teaching him now and said will let me know how things go :) It just made me so happy I can't even explain it! 

2. I email/write someone I taught and worked with in Johns Creek who hadn't been to church in awhile. She just means the world to me, and I wanted to share a part of it with you.. She said "And, I thought of you the day that I explained to the lady who is helping me pack that the reason my front bedroom closet was a “pantry” was because I am Mormon and we store food. I thought that you would be proud of me for telling her I was Mormon, because it has been a really long time since I have told anybody I was Mormon." Like many things that happen to me as a missionary, a huge smile became glued to my face. I know that what the Doctrine and Covenants is true where is says " And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen." This time of my life is absolutely the time I hold of most worth. It means everything to me. I love the people here, and I absolutely love the Lord for allowing me to have this opportunity.

I know that we can bring souls to Christ in all stages of our lives, and that we don't have to only have a missionary name tag to do so. President Monson says,"" I know that there are many who need our help, and helping some of them is what has brought me the absolutely MOST joy as a missionary. You might have someone you feel like you need to reach out to, but don't know how to help.. I'm certain the best thing we can do is show them real, and I do mean REAL Christ-like love. It's amazing what a sense of belonging and a heart filled once more with love can do. 

I know God loves His children, and I love you!
Sister Hamilton